Archive for the ‘Downtempo’ Category

Madonna – Swim [1998]
October 21, 2014

I went back and took a listen through the whole of Ray of Light for the first time in god only knows how long. No remixes, no edits, the original album. Possibly the first time since 1998 if I’m honest. Incredible to hear how its not dated in the slightest, still sounds as progressive as the day it was released. A really superb showcase of Madge’s superior talents that so sadly got lost in the maelstrom of the Pop Dross we’re subjected too daily. But I think its safe to say that while she’s got some exemplorary pipes, the winner on Ray Of Light is William Orbit. Given the money, and from what i’ve heard, the time, he kicked out one of the seminal crossover pop albums of the decade.

The album weaves pop down into practically every flavour of electronica keeping the album from taking itself too seriously and providing entertainment for anyone. For me, Swim is one of my favourites by a mile. Where Drowned World is a sweeping declaration of fame rejection and Ray of light the title club banger. Swim sits comfortably those two behemoths with a relaxed but solid groove in its pocket and a wry smile on its face. Absolutely brilliant.

Basecamp – 2 Thingz [2013]
November 19, 2013

One sent over by my much better half, Basecamp look to be doing a cracking job of meshing R&B/Dub percussions with huge sweeping synths and textured electronic landscapes. While in itself that would normally be all I need to sign up, you also have a fantastic set of vocals that really polish the track into a total cracker.

They have rather generously uploaded their entire EP to Soundcloud and while all the tracks are great in their own right, this is the standout for me. Its all about the bleeps man.

Here is the artist page with links to the entire EP for your listening pleasure, enjoy.

Alpines – Empire (Creep Remix)[2012]
June 14, 2013

Well now the pressure is easing at work, I can go to work on getting this blog more frequently updated! The Alpines are a trio from South London, Bob Matthews (guitar and production) and Catherine Pockson (pianist, singer/songwriter). They have kicked out some really stellar downtempo, atmospheric crackers over the years and this is no exception. Taken from the EP of the same name which incidentally is a cracking buy in its own right, this remix by Creep is an absolute stormer. Preserving the vocals and adding a deep and dark flavor to the arrangement, you get a fantastically forward looking electronica track.

The Cure – A Forest (Album Version) [1980]
January 24, 2013

Something a little more eccentric today but a real cracker none the less. This release from The Cure’s 1980 album “Seventeen Seconds” sounds way ahead of its time, mashing some post-punk sensibilites with some wicked electro / effect pedal business and a bloody fantastic guitar riff that’s just begging for a remix. Cracking tune.

It took me an age to come around to listening to The Cure, pretty much dismissing them for years as whiny Indie Rock that I couldn’t get interested in. However, having picked up Seventeen Seconds and Faith several years ago, I found I couldn’t get enough. They have a massive back catalogue but spend some time in the 1980-1983 Cure period and its plain as day how they became to garner such a devout and rabid following. Easily one of the best bands of the 20th Century in my opinion.

Sub Sub – Past [1992]
September 29, 2011

A masterstroke of ambient/downtempo from The Doves, formerly known as Sub Sub. The whole Coast EP is a stormer and should be required listening for anyone with a passing interest in music. This is the second track on Side A and is probably the most laid back of all. Its a ridiculously simple composition, some bongos, a shaker, a snare and a catchy as hell bassline. But as with all simple things that work, the parts become so much greater than the whole.

From Discogs
This would have to be one of the finest Progressive House EP’s of 1992, if not all time! The quality of production on this entire EP is the finest you will ever come across. Classy tunes all round. Summer bliss. Both “Inside Out” and “Inside Of This” are the big stand out tunes on this EP. They’ve also, all so subtley, segued these two tunes for not stop listening bliss. The only place you’ll find the track “Inside Out” is on this EP!! “Inside Of This” is featured on Sub Sub’s CD “Full Fathom Five”. Also included on this CD is the 3rd amazing tune found on the flip side of the Coast EP titled “Past”. This tune is pure balaeric, lazing under the Ibiza sun, sipping on your favourite cocktail, bliss!! Ahhhhhhh……

Absolutely stunning EP of mellow funky beats. ‘Past’ is one of my all time favourite chill out tunes, a stunning ambient masterpiece with a sublime guitar that transports you to your favourite overseas destination. This is just pure balearic bliss throughout. As rare as rocking horse shit or you will almost certainly have to pay top dollar for this record. Sub Sub later went on to become the Doves (quite successful Indie band) but this is by far their finest moment.

Anoushka Shankar & Karsh Kale feat. Norah Jones – Easy [2007]
September 29, 2011

One of the reasons I absolutely love KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic is because I usually wind up getting surprised by tracks I would normally have never even entertained. Take this track for example, the fact that Nora Jones is tied to it would usually force me running in the other direction. Never been that big a fan of her Singer/Songwriter wailing. HOWEVER, Shanka & Kale just knock the melody out of the park with this one, very sedate and atmospheric, it helps blend down Jones’ vocals to the point where the whole track sounds fantastic. Not my usual cup of tea, I will admit but the melody just gets you in the chest and wont let go. Taken from the 2007 album Breathing Under Water, an album I am currently downloading to my ipod 😀

Bomb The Bass – Black River (Gui Boratto Remix) [2009]
September 28, 2011

What an incredible remix from Gui Boratto, preserving the wonderfully melancholic vocals but dropping it over a completely different flavor of composition. Darky, haunting but slightly uplifting with a slice hint of malevolence. The track is a masterstroke of electronic, giving all the big boys a run for their money. You can find this masterpiece either on the 12″ release of Black River or alternatively on the incredible album from Bomb The Bass, Future Chaos. If you dont have this album, rectify that immediately, its chuffin’ amazing.

A great review of Future Chaos from Bomb The Bass

Nigo – Freediving(Stereo MC’s Remix) [1999]
September 19, 2011

Cracking breakbeat remix from the Stereo MC’s of Nigo’s otherwise anemic downtempo offering. The Mc’s did the dirty with the break, making seemingly double that of the original, adding some nice piano touches. It pretty much turns this track from a downtempo yawner to a fantastic, end of set track.

Bassomatic – Fascinating Rhythm (Lisa Loud Mix) [1990]
September 14, 2011

Probably one of the very best tracks released in 1990 and one of the very best examples of why electronic music became so huge. Since, this track isnt a house tune, nor is it a hardcore track. Its not techno, its not ragga, reggae or any other classification. Its all of them and none of them all at the same time. I also had no idea that Mr William Orbit was actually part of the Bassomatic crew, not that im surprised. Now I hear this track again and you can see his signature style all over it. Catchy hooks, rolling basslines, irreverent breaks in composition to keep the melody interesting but most of all, flawless production. The bass is pushed to the very limit of its range, so its loud without distorting, absolutely crucial to this track as the bassline is what dominates the entire track. I could gush about Fascinating Rhythm for hours, its without a doubt one of my favourite tracks of all time.

From Discogs
I remember very well hearing this for the first time aged just 9 years old on the Chart Show that used to be on Saturdays on ITV at 1200hrs, and i absolutely loved it. I think from that moment on, without realizing it, i knew i was going to end up being a music junkie. I still do to this very day. It’s all about the Lisa Loud remix here, odd because i never knew she provided the killer remix it until recently.

The track is a very odd hybrid of hip-hop tempo and break with a house feel and house sounds. The vocal is actually very good and fits perfectly. Those chrods are sublime and there are some nice keys in the chorus that compliment the vocals. It’s very hooky and very melodic.

It just goes to show how good those early acid house days really were, this tune is a melting pot of influences, whereas records today have to be neatly filed as house or techno, or trance, or dubstep which is not what music should be about.

Bjork – Virus [2011]
August 22, 2011

Caught this on KCRW this morning and it blew me away. Deep rumbling bass, almost Dubsteppy in its arrangement, playing underneath this ridiculously eccentric bells and vocal composition from Bjork. You have to give it a couple of listens to really let it settle in on you but once it does, its a wonderful experience. Uplifting as only Bjork can do, with that mental voice of hers with some bonkers lyrics that make sense only after the third or fourth listen. Classic, irreplaceable Bjork business.