Welcome welcome everybodeh! It's time for another wonderful round of Stereotoid, with some choice picks from The Human Abstract, Bonobo, Childish Gambino, Carbon Based Lifeforms, and even the Minecraft soundtrack. So without any further ado, let's get it on!
Album: Minecraft: Volume Alpha
Released: March 4, 2011
Sounds like: The original soundtrack to freaking Minecraft.
This is the equivalent of reviewing the soundtrack to Super Metroid or Donkey Kong Country 2, for me. It’s a great feeling to finally have the OST to one of my favorite games of all time in my possession. Volume Alpha has a few bonus tracks here and there, but you won’t see me complain about it. We have at last, a concise package of the game’s music, and it is glorious, whit or without the sound of cows mooing, or creepers hissing in the background.
Whether it is at the break of dawn, or at the dark hours of the night, you can’t help, but appreciate the majesty of Minecraft’s atmosphere. The beautiful orange sunrise, the view of your accomplished base from afar, are all wonderful things you can experience while playing the game. These incredible senses of childish wonder, exploration and adventure make for only 50% of the magic, however. The other half, of course, is C418’s music that accompanies the wondrous blocky landscapes. So, whenever you are excursing through a forest to find more wood for your mighty airship, or digging down in the abyss of the underground, you’ll never feel like the music is out of place.
The smooth, relaxing piano embraces the green valleys and plains, while the more tenebrous ambient tracks will put you on edge during cave exploration. Volume Alpha’s songs are incredibly relaxing and serene, despite having some darker, more mysterious pieces. I can’t help, but draw parallels with the beauty of Scandinavia, and the overall relaxed vibe I get from it. Long snowy winters, with dimmed city lights. The silence of the arctic being briefly interrupted by some beautiful ambient songs, (I know that Sweden isn’t in the arctic). C418 not only captures the essence of what Minecraft is, but also of its creators, (calm, incredibly humble, talented, and laid-back human beings). Volume Alpha is a soundtrack full of wonderful ambient lullabies, with a great atmosphere and moody piano tracks. I absolutely love it.
The album brings you such a nice feeling of serenity that puts you right between the wonders of the game’s ecosystem, and the civilization you slowly build for yourself; not only that, but just by listening to some of the tracks, namely “Cat” and “Dog”, a great sense of satisfaction embodies you, while you remember the first time you’ve managed to build a record player, and were fortunate enough to find a disk to put it in. As for the first night you survived the wilderness, or when you dug up diamond ores for the first time, with other songs. Minecraft is about the little things, and this minimalistic, highly inspiring soundtrack is a wonderful asset to an already masterful game. By no means, you should leave this OST out of your music library. And if you like the game in the slightest, why the hell are you still even considering?! Minecraft is a masterpiece, boasted with a memorable and absolutely divine soundtrack.
Personal favorite tracks: The link to the full album. Feast on its greatness. Oh yeah, and buy it. All profits go to C418.
TL;DR: MINECRAFT!!!! YOU PAY, YOU GET, YOU HHNNGGGG! NAO!!!1
Album: Black Sands
Label: Ninja Tune
Released: March 29th 2010
Sounds like: A relaxing day in a beautiful nature scene.
So, I've never really reviewed an album like this one before. Music like this, really chill trip-hop music like this just seems other worldly to me at times. This is especially true when looking at the top 40 or well, any other music genre really.
Bonobo is the alias of a DJ from the UK, his actual name is Simon Green. Bonobo makes some incredibly relaxing music. If you are not familiar with the Trip-Hop and Chill music genres then you're in for a surprise. They are typically bass heavy and instrumental or contain samples. If you have ever heard Air or Portishead Bonobo is somewhat comparable to those bands.
When I listen to this album, and really any album that has a similar sound, I simply feel at peace. It feels like I'm transported from my world of worries and stress into a world that I know doesn't exist but I still get to vacation there even if only for 40 or 50 minuets. Chill music also makes me feel very nostalgic, which I don't quite understand. If there are any psychology people out there that could explain that one to me I'd love to hear it.
This guy just produces such a wonderful sound that I really don't have words for. Maybe I shouldn't have reviewed this album because of that, but you know what? I love this album. If this has interested you at all you should check the links below and see if you get the same feelings that I get.
Artist: Carbon Based Lifeforms
Label: Ultimae Records
*Sub-genres chillout, downtempo
Sounds like: A dream, atmospheric, and bewitching.
I’ve wanted to make a piece on Carbon Based Lifeforms for a very long time. Finally, the time has come to introduce you to one of my favorite ambient acts of all there is, and ever will be. Johannes Hedberg and Daniel Segerstad are masters of chillout music. One of my most beloved albums they’ve produced, Hydroponic Garden, is so powerfully atmospheric and good, that it’s nothing short of a masterpiece. Everything they’ve compose is imbued with excellence and substance. I absolutely adore this band. And what better way to share this love than to review their album from last year, entitled Interloper.
This album is able to communicate a powerful sense of wonder and discovery. It’s all subjective of course, but I can’t help but dream about extraordinary stuff when I listen to this kind of ambient music. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that it sparks an emotive response in me, but it most certainly uplifting… Such wonderful melodies, Interloper is pretty upbeat for a chillout album, too. Even with their long refined minimalism, Carbon Based Lifeforms are always able to bring the most out of nothing. Everything lies in the timbre of sound, the overlapsing layers, intertwining with each others like snakes in a basket.
The bold elongated sounds, the beautiful momentum of each notes perishing into the lull, makes everything sound so delicious for the eardrums. Interloper is a wonderful example of how simplicity can become so complex. The dreamy, relaxed states of all the tracks sound so good, smooth and graceful; I can’t praise the sound engineering enough. These Swedes know what the hell they’re doing because otherwise I wouldn’t be so poetic about it. Their music inspires me, deeply.
And the best part of all of this? It’s not even my favorite album of theirs. It goes to show you how much I appreciate their oeuvre. Writing this makes me so happy; I have such wonderful memories listening to Carbon Based Lifeforms. Half-awake, at 2:30AM, alone in an airport waiting for the next plane to get me back home. It’s the kind of moments you never forget. If I could, I would spend my entire life in airports listening to ambient music. Yep, that’s how I want to live my life; half-awaked, travelling the airports of the world with Brian Eno & Mat Jarvis blasting my neurons with ecstatic electricity. It’s hard to describe the effects that music has on me, but I think I’m dreamy enough to transcend my passion for ambient music.
Interloper is not CBL’s best, but it doesn’t matter in the end. It’s wonderful, atmospheric, abstract, and holds so much substance. If you want to get into ambient, this is the best entry point. If you hold Music For Airports, and Autobahn near and dear to your hearts, like me. Carbon Based Lifeforms is not to be missed.
Album: Digital Veil
Artist: The Human Abstract
Label: E1 Music
Released: March 8, 2011
Genre: Progressive metal
Sounds like: A new vocalist and returning guitarist brings back some of the energy missing from their previous album
Digital Veil was spawned from some big changes in The Human Abstract. First they lost their long time singer Nathan Ellis and gained a new one in ex-From First to Last singer/guitarist Travis Richter. Then they brought back original guitarist AJ Minette, who previously left to get away from playing metal and to study classical music in college. These two aspects return some of the energy and aggression missing from their previous album Midheaven while still pressing themselves forward.
First of all, the new vocalist is good. I think Travis’ clean vocals are better than Nathan’s. They’re a lot stronger than Nathan’s and have a nice midrange sound, not too high and not too low. The harsh vocals sound a bit generic. I mean, they just sound like any other generic metalcore singer. Nathan’s harsh vocals weren’t as strong, but they were a more unique. They’re not bad by any means; I just think they could be different from everyone else. The return of AJ brings nothing but good things. This album is a lot more tight than Midheaven. The band members have said that having AJ back brought more discipline in their writing and recording and it shows. Everything just fits together well. AJ’s classical influences show in the song writing, not to the point of say, Yngwie Malmsteen, but it’s enough to set them apart from other metalcore bands. Sure, they have breakdowns, but they’re not brainless chuggy breakdowns, which I very much appreciate. Check out “Holographic Sight” for a good example of this. In addition, the “noodly” guitar playing is well implemented too. AJ can shred like a motherfucker, but he does it in a way where it gels with everything else. It’s all super tight.
As someone who loved Nocturne but couldn’t get into Midheaven, this album is a great return to form in my mind. I honestly think that AJ is the glue that holds this band together. He’s got a great sense of songwriting that just goes really well with these guys. Y’all metalheads best get on this.
Artist: Childish Gambino
Label: Self Release
Genre: Hip Hop/Rap
Sounds like: Kanye West vs Cadence Weapon
Many of you know of comedian Donald Glover. Lots of you know him as Troy Barnes from the sitcom Community. Lots of you know of him as the dude who wanted to be the new Spiderman. Well he’s also a rapper and quite the good one too.
Let’s get this out of the way. If you absolutely hate all mainstream rap, chances are that 50/50 that you won’t like this. The five songs on EP are all things you might hear on the radio right now. And quite honestly, that’s ok. What’s on the radio flip flops from good to bad; Childish Gambino just happens to fall on the good side.
Kanye vs Cadence Weapon is what I’m picturing when trying to describe EP. It’s those beats that many mainstream rappers are actually great at making, coupled with the lyrical virtuosity of Cadence Weapon. Mind you, Glover likes to talk about all the sex he’s had, is having, will have, or was denied, but he does it with such vigor and colorfulness that it’s actually worth listening to, whether it’ll amaze you or make you laugh. Hell, on most occasions, it’ll do both.
Other times he’ll rap about being the black nerd, being the typical “I was nothing, now I’m something,” and of course, more sex. Like I said, he does it in EP very well; it does sound conceited as hell, but it’s that conceited you grow to agree with, the kind that makes you think “yeah, he’d totally fuck those guys up and their girls if he saw them on the street and they were talking shit.”
There is a hit on Glover tapping into his inner Calvin Harris in the track “Lights Turned On”, and he’s talented in this singing department, as he floats some of his hooks effortlessly. Some might be turned off by the high somewhat nasal quality of his voice, as if he were trying to imitate what would be the vocal child of both Lil Wayne and Drake. After awhile, the voice settles in, and you can start enjoying the lyrics and the beats.
Glover has been rapping as Childish Gambino since 2008, and it irks me that I’m just now hearing about him. If EP is any indication of his ability, than I can safely say I’ll be checking out some of his later stuff, as well as looking forward to future releases, as well as kicking myself that I won’t be seeing him live at SXSW this year.