James Blake recently released his follow up album, Overgrown. Blake has finally constructed an album that displays his full talent as a vocalist and a musician. In his previous efforts, his debut album, though brilliant, was flawed by inconsistent vocals. In Overgrown James Blake has refined his vocals, nailing notes and broadening the range of his abilities. His unique, raw, and very arcane voice combined with the formula of his subtle dubstep and a little R&B delivers an impenetrable ambience. James Blake has a story to tell; his lyrics are simple yet very complex when contrasted with the facet of electronic elements. To some, Overgrown will come off as another inaccessible electronic album but I assure you, that is not the case. The noise, the rhythm, his climactic beats and most importantly his almost distressed voice are all constructed to send you into a profound state of mind - Blake is his own architect.
Key Tracks: Overgrown, Digital Lion, and Voyeur
Check out the video for his first single “Overgrown.” It’s dark and beautiful.
For my birthday a friend of mine bought me a record: El Paso Rock - Volume 5 - The Troubled Streets/Border Town Rock ‘n Roll 1958-64.
It is issued by Norton Records. The record company acquired a collection from Yucca Records. Yucca Records consisted of artists from El Paso and surrounding areas including New Mexico. Norton Records released numerous volumes from various artists titled “El Paso Rock.” This is pure rockabilly goodness. It’s raw and poignant from track to track and each artist adds their own mystery.
In the near future, I will be purchasing some of the El Paso Rock compilations. I suggest you do the same.
For more information visit: http://www.nortonrecords.com/
One of my favorite bands from 2011 will release a digital 4 track EP, April 16th called Patterns. Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr are a clever bunch from Michigan. “You If You Didn’t See Me (Then You Weren’t On The Dancefloor)” is the first track from the EP. It is a hip and whimsical electro tune. It has a slow start structured around an animated and bubbly build up around a chorus that hooks you in. It’s a fun track. The Patterns EP can only mean good things for their LP and even better things for their 2013 tour.
I went to the one of my favorite record stores today and picked up Pink Floyd’s The Wall from 1979. I also picked up one of my favorite albums from 2012, BLOOM by Beach House. Juxtaposed these two LPs seem like a odd combination but both have a great concept even sort of similar.
It would be nice if a cable were enough to connect your musical instruments to your computer. Unfortunately, you need some sort of interface to transmit the data along with the cable. Those nifty little boxes, with knobs and ports are not cheap. The cheapest I found was a $40 USB cord called iMic, and it limited you to only an auxiliary port. For $40 more you could get a nicer interface with more functionality that won’t limit you to only an auxiliary port but those tend (not naming any brands) to be poorly constructed and fail.
What do you do? If you are looking for an interface to record or even just to connect your audio workstation with more variety, I would recommend the $150 USB Audiobox by Presonus. It is the cheapest and fairly simple but most importantly it is a solid connection interface you will find. It is the number 1 selling product of its kind in the United States.
The Audiobox comes with Studio One 2 Artist software valued at $99, which is a great product for beginners and more advanced than the free version Presonus offers on their website. The Audiobox itself has dual-purpose front-panel instrument inputs, line-level inputs, a headphone jack, and midi line-in and out ports. For the price, though, the analog mixer is a nice bonus for such an inexpensive product of its capacity.
I was able to connect synthesizers, am electric guitar, and an electric-acoustic guitar with no problem. I can get my instruments to record on my computer. I am still working out the kinks on setting up my synthesizers but that’s a problem on my end and not the product. For you audio lovers who have an aesthetic preference, the USB Audiobox comes in two colors; it comes in BLUE and the limited edition WHITE. The build and shape are nice and the construction and placement of the knobs make for an eye-popping look and at 5 lbs. it’s portable and still sleek.
$150 as a beginner is a lot of money to spend if you are just looking for some sort of simple interface but it is well worth it for quality even if you are not a beginner and just want something light and functional for your on-the-go life.
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I love electronic music and I’m a fan of synth- driven music. Its fun, it’s weird, and most importantly, it’s funky. Not many people can appreciate the use of synthesizers – to most people it’s just a noise. But to other music lovers it is sublime. In the 70’s synthesizers were just toys but today synth sounds have influenced a wide spectrum of genres (punk rock, hip-hip, r &b, progressive rock, etc) and artists like Frank Ocean, Grimes, Deadmau5, Bruno Mars, etc. In my opinion, the synthesizer adds dimension and a bit of flare to music.
When they are used right, synthesizers can transcend your mood. They can deliver an array of musical backdrops – from chaotic to dreamy to relaxing. The beauty of the sound synthesizers is how they provide rhythm. You can eliminate the need for heavy percussion. How can you not appreciate the range of sounds one can get in their musical creation? Don’t get me wrong I’m no expert on synthesizers, nor do I have a bag full of synth secrets but I can understand a great find when I see it.
I got my hands on two analog ribbon synthesizers made by Korg – the Monotron Delay and Monotron Duo. This analog synth fits in your pocket and is battery operated. Yes, a music geek can probably build the circuits to run it but for under $50 bucks, the price tag and the “wow factor” are too overwhelming to resist, even for someone with only an appreciation for the synth sound. With both of the Monotron devices, you won’t get the digital synthesizers found in some of your favorite bands but you will still get a good selection – even complex yet traditional electronic sounds.
Both Monotron devices have a headphone jack, an auxiliary jack, and a built-in speaker. The built-in speaker left more to be desired; it’s loud but not loud enough. I recommend an internal speaker or headphones to maximize the volume capacity. The Monotron features a dual oscillator, which allows you to create more sounds. Monotron Duo and Delay both have a keyboard ribbon but the Duo gives you more octaves while the Delay limits you but it isn’t a handicap. The Delay allows you to create sci-fi, space delays (echoes) and chilling effects, even with one oscillator.
The Monotron Delay and Duo have a lot to offer. You can use both to record and filter your keyboard, guitar, pedals, loops, etc. with audio software. I tested Studio One 2, Ableton Live, and Garageband. I’m not an expert and it took me a while to get my audio station functional with these devices but when I did, I lost about 3-4 hours of my day having fun creating effects and cutting them with my drum machine and other loops.
The Monotron Duo and Delay may look like knick-knacks but they can do more than just annoy your household with synth sounds. For a big performance or live show for your rock band, you will need something more but for recording or even dj-ing, this could very well work for your needs.
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Sorry I have not updated anything but my twitter and facebook. I will be posting this week. Follow me tonight for #Grammy tweets.
I meant to post this last piece of 2012 sooner. But as you, I love to LP shop. My greatest find was not a 2012 LP. It was Kind of Blue by Miles Davis 1959.
I will be posting new material soon.