The Nature Sounds of Zap Holmes

Nature-themed music is always a treat, and Gothenburg producer Zap Holmes treats us well on his newest EP, Dew / Blue Tit. 

The tracks are appropriately-named, with “Dew” featuring a smooth sax line and “Blue Tit” sampling bird song.

Too often, artists don’t create a cohesive theme between their music and its cover art. Dark music may be paired with cheery scenery; slick, polished music may be paired with hand-drawn scribblings. This contrast can work well, but most of the time, it creates an unwelcome dissonance.

That’s far from a problem on Dew / Blue Tit, which sounds exactly how it looks. The pastel blue matches up perfectly with the smooth, chirpy sounds. And of course, no nature-themed artwork is complete without trees, which provide contrast and depth.

Zap Holmes’ production is excellent here. The percussion and synth interplay creates a fantastic atmosphere, and both tracks manage to sound varied without losing their theme.

While both tracks are great, “Blue Tit” is the highlight.  Its syrupy-sweet melodies manage to stay catchy without becoming kitschy.

Dew / Blue Tit is highly recommended as we move into a (hopefully) warm spring.

Find Zap Holmes on:

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Atlanta Producer Goes Nationwide

If you’re used to discovering artists after they’re already huge, here’s your opportunity to get ahead of the curve.

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If you’re used to discovering artists after they’re already huge, here’s your opportunity to get ahead of the curve.

Skullkid is an Atlanta producer who has been getting increasingly popular in the last year. He released his first album (to you, in 2000 years) in late 2015, and he’s collaborated with dozens of artists since. He even has shows booked in March and April, performing in San Francisco, Michigan, and North Carolina.

His new single, “Bang,” was released in early March. It’s a good representation of his style; vocal samples are plentiful, and they’re underpinned with a heavy bass-line and melodic keys. Bluesy guitar complements the track well.

But “Bang” is far from a clone of his older work. Skullkid presents a more developed atmosphere here, and it’s obvious that his production skills are getting even better with time.

It’ll be interesting to see where Skullkid is this time next year. If the past year is any indication, great things are ahead.

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Soundtrack your rainy nights with beatmaker Kon.kiri

Slick production for those slippery streets.

The SoundCloud tag says “#wetasphaltmusic,” so you know it’s going to be good.

That’s not sarcastic, either. Rainy day music is delightfully atmospheric, and that’s no different on Kon.kiri’s “Night.citylightss.” (A shout-out as well for incorporating a period into his stage name, which is rare.)

“Night.citylightss” is the perfect title for this moody, understated track. It opens with the sound of birdcalls, which are not usually associated with nighttime. But the dusky instrumental contrasts well with the subtle chirps in the background, creating nice textures.

The track stays subdued throughout, but still manages to feel intense. At times, it wouldn’t be surprising to hear a sudden burst of bass or blast of noise. But that never comes, keeping the anticipation up throughout. Tracks like this can feel monochrome, but “Night.citylightss” feels colourful and full of life.

And considering the artwork is monochrome, that’s pretty impressive.

Find Kon.kiri on Facebook.

*insert beach pun here*

Like the movie “The Cove” except not as depressing and also not a movie

Erikmillergalow’s “cove” is aptly-named.

It progresses like the tide; the intro, with its warbling synths and upfront bass, resembles the whitecaps forming on the surface of the water, slowly advancing closer.

The meat of the track is the wave hitting shore, the rushing synths sounding almost watery. It’s hard to place why, but they do.

Finally, the outro’s glitchy drums could represent the wave going back into the sea, leaving its traces on the rocks.

It may or may not be what Erik intended, but I admire “cove” for the story it tells. Even the white noise pumping in and out sounds like a wave hitting shore, and the drums have an almost moist feel to them.

The sound design is a highlight. At its most chaotic, the mix stays airy, and at its most bare, it feels full. The percussion is mixed especially well, and it brings to mind Four Tet’s house-inspired beats.

Erikmillergalow has more great tracks on his SoundCloud page.

Sand Gets Everywhere in Anakin Skywalker’s Least Favourite Music Video

Paper airplanes, a steel rollercoaster, and a pile of Monster Energy drinks are only some of the sand-soaked objects that appear in the video for “After Work,” the lead single from Handshake by Schaus.

“After Work” is one of the wonkiest songs I’ve listened to in a while, and I mean that in the best way possible.

Like the video, the song seems scattered on purpose. Dissonant guitar and strained, low vocals coat the fuzzy track, creating a delicious, grimy soup.

In lesser hands, this track could have ended up a mess. But the way Schaus combines these elements is brilliant. The melodies are strong, and his voice fits them perfectly. The production is interesting and addictive, all adding up to a song that I’m sure will be stuck in my head for ages.

“After Work” is just one of nine tracks from Handshake, which is a must-listen if you’re into unconventional pop or R&B. Buy it here, and be sure to check out his website.

At the Top of his Field

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When he’s not composing soundtracks or doing design work, Melbourne-based musician Jonny Martyr makes electronic music as FIELD WAVES. His debut EP, Diagram, came out in January.

Wolf Pack Howl begins with fuzzy field recordings and plucking mallets before turning into a percussive, shuffling groove. The acoustic drums make the track; their cinematic feel gives it a fantastic atmosphere.

The cinematic atmosphere extends to the rest of the EP as well. Martyr’s soundtrack work definitely pays off: the sound design is impeccable. Like with Jon Hopkins, one of Martyr’s influences, each sound has just the right amount of depth and weight. The low drones and bass tones are powerful but not overbearing, and the drums have the perfect pop to them.

One of the best sounding spots on here is the climax of “Diagram,” which features dozens of buzzing layers all bouncing perfectly off each other. Those with nice headphones should take note.

Another example of ear candy are the mallets in “Hand to Butterfly,” which take a page out of Steve Reich’s playbook.

But Diagram isn’t simply a ripoff of Hopkins and Reich. FIELD WAVES creates an inspired atmosphere that takes those influences and creates something totally new. The result is a gorgeous EP you need to check out.

FIELD WAVES website

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Insanely Loud, Insanely Varied

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From PostVerbal comes 1.17 Mixtape, the first instalment in a monthly mixtape series. “I’m digging back through old ideas, fleshing them out, as well as including stuff I’m making right now and releasing a mixtape type thing every month,” he says.

The result is ten tracks of madness. Like Flying Lotus, PostVerbal drives his levels as loud as they’ll go, creating a brash, compressed sound. It’s a trick that doesn’t work for everyone, but it suits the varied feel of the mixtape well, making it a clever creative choice.

The tape opens with “Fall Water,” a subtle, menacing synth track. It’s relatively straight-forward, easing you in to the sampled insanity that is the next track.

“Mountain Side,” features a chopped vocal sample backed with bursting drums and blasting horns. It combines the overclocked grooves of Flying Lotus with the catchy samples of Animal Collective, making it a definite highlight.

Things get even weirder with “Frogs in Suits,” a trippy, off-kilter lounge experiment. It’s as if Jim Morrison took too many drugs and lost his voice, leaving the rest of The Doors drunkenly jamming as he slowly wanders out of the room to catch a cab.

“I Know” is an almost traditional rock song, with distorted, Julian Casablancas-esque vocals and nice guitar work. But the production is far from traditional, with the layered guitars creating a squelchy, marsh-like tone.

The tape ends with “Shhh,” a subtle, muted track that uses down-pitched samples to create a depressed feel. It’s a nice track to end on, with the relaxed atmosphere contrasting the sensory overload that is the rest of the tape.

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