May 18, 2012

Kurt James Werner - "Schism Method"

Every once and a while, an electronic artist will come along and introduce a weird, unique, and cool new approach to writing music. Kurt James Werner, a graduate student at Stanford's Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics, has done just that with his release entitled "Schism Method". Through 11 tracks, he showcases an interesting and well-produced exercise in genre-bending, complete with glitch and breakbeat elements playing along with 8-bit tunes.

The first track "Twitch Constuctor" opens with ambiance and develops with some driving, whacked-out drum programming that reappears for the other tunes. But the songs aren't just glitches and circuit-bending--Kurt also keeps things appealing with melodic, retro themes in tracks like "Into the Ocean" and "Apocalypse Eagle".

If you think you'd enjoy something different or distinctive, then Mr. Werner's "Schism Method" might just fit the bill. While it's probably not for everyone, his music is quite thoughtful and worth checking out.

You can stream or download the album here:

May 7, 2012

Review - "In Death a Dream of Color" (Brother Android)

"In Death a Dream of Color" is an immensely personal record for Harrison Lemke, otherwise known as Brother Android. Written over the course of two years, it deals with the concepts of deep loss, confusion, grief, and faith. Stylistically, the music is fuller and more evolved than the artist's previous efforts, which can be both confusing and rewarding.

At first glance, the album might seem sub-par or difficult--in fact, I initially didn't like it very much. With additional listening, however, the songs grew on me and began to sink in. The first track, "A Beginning", opens up with an excellent use of staccato, combining with a slow melody that lowers its tempo over time. Brother Android ditches the usually retro percussion for more realistic drum samples, which end up working pretty well. "The Hospital; Your House; the Dark" is a definite highlight with its pounding drum rhythm, which is nicely complemented by the melody. Enhancing the progressive nature of the record, this track gives way to a mournful and sad tune to close things off.

Afterwards, "Holy Fear" reveals a more classic Brother Android style, being more accessible as well. The melancholy, panning square waves continue into the sixth track before giving way to "Tree of Blood", where things really start to ratchet up. Almost symphonic with its clever use of dissonance, the tune seems to convey a bitter sense of grief and possibly anger, demanding an answer to why some catastrophe had to take place.

The interlude "Things Get out of Hand" is one of my favorites. Completely devoid of percussion, it clambers forward with strong bass lines and an ethereal motif. Ultimately glitching out and showcasing distortion, it finally leads into the title track, which completes the release with a theme of acceptance in the face of sorrow.

With existential overtones and a firm grasp on his music, Harrison pours his heart into an album that is both beautiful and challenging. "Dream of Color" isn't very accessible or dance-able, even for chip music; but it is a deeply personal and interesting journey worth taking.

SCORE: 8.0 out of 10 - "Solid"

[You can stream or download the album here:]

May 4, 2012

Bubu - "Emptiness Meets Happiness"

From relative newcomer Barnabas Fekete, otherwise known as Bubu, comes a sweet EP entitled "Emptiness Meets Happiness". This five-track collection is brimming with wonderfully euphoric GameBoy tunes, including memorable melodies and a nice mastering job to sweeten the deal. My personal favorites are the beautiful opener called "A Sensible Alternative to Daydreaming", as well as "Love Is All We Have", which features a lovely recurring motif. Overall, Bubu's music plays like a nice, happy love story.