Review: Iah & Ixchel, and friends and a Macbook

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Artwork by Ixchel (2013)

iah and ixchel is, or was, an avant grade duo from New York. Their first album i love moonbeams (or: portrait of the artist as an electric turtle) was released in 2013. While Iah wrote the majority of the music, the artwork and spoken word is by Ixchel.

The album is eclectic mix of collaborators and Garageband loops. All recorded using the external mic on a MacBook Pro, giving it the lo-fi effect. i love moonbeams.. features King Negus and other members of the psychedelic punk, hip hop group Wadada, which Iah plays guitar for and is the dominate songwriter of the group. King Negus brings conscious lyrics and smooth lines, that not only has an incredible flow, but are memorable performances.

While the tracks are mostly loops, guitar and bass, the record has an open sound to it. Probably because of the heavy effect use, but this is complimented by psychedelic lyrics of Iah and spoken word by Ixchel and MJ, a member of Wadada. “everywhere, i” is like a drunken Gorillaz b-side. “terrified” features another Wadada member, LoveGun, on the effected bass. On “the & me”, Ixchel showcases her imagery-ridden poetry to a melodramatic guitar. Ending with the sound of a click on the MacBook trackpad before a last second chord. Iah showcases his control of feedback and noise on “sometimes the stars can lead you home.” “angry birds” is probably the more accessible track on the album. Iah’s Beck-esque lyrics and approach with MJ on percussion. The album ends with “her highness”, a melancholy ending to an abstract album.

The album sort of flows similarly to Captain Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica. Which makes sense, considering Iah is a big fan of the album and is influenced by Bill Harkelroad (Zoot Horn Rollo) of The Magic Band. Like Trout Mask, genre varies in each track. While there is definite hip hop influence, the surrealist spoken word and guitar work land on a different planet. Iah approaches the guitar fretboard in the similar fashion he once approached the piano keyboard with.

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Iah & Ixchel (2014)

Iah & Ixchel released another album, “hieronymous borscht vs. the cosmic seapig” in 2014 before disbanding later that year. While both continue their respective journeys in the arts, there is no intention of the third album. Iah is working on a solo album and Ixchel is working on her own art projects. Not much else is known.

Essential Track: everywhere, i

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Review: Pink Horizon

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PINK HORIZON BY KEITH CRYSTALS

While I was listening to this record, one of the first things that came to mind was: Aphex Twin. Surely enough, Warp Records was one of the influences Michael Summers (Keith Crystals) mentioned in a small email exchange on the record.

Pink Horizon was made like alot of my albums, I create multiple songs pretty much everyday in different genres (everything from ambient/experimental/electronic music to metal, pop and punk) and then I arrange them into albums that flow. Influences for Pink Horizon would probably be Warp Records, Flaming Lips, classical music, video game music, hip hop, and a pretty healthy dose of a sound I created myself.”

Pink Horizon definitely has a fun flow to it and the influences are there just enough to sound recognizable. “Never Let It Go” is two songs in one, a stroll through a warm trip of funky bass and a retro boss battle. “Gray Matter” is a nice blend of Aphex type techno and ambience, complete with dynamics and some of those “I’m not sure if I’m hearing noise in the song or outside my headphones” type sounds. You’ll hear some of that punk influence in “We’re Moving On” too.

“ I have a very large back catalog of tracks, recordings, ideas, random stuff that I experiment with and throw onto alot of my recordings to create more atmosphere.”

Every track has a new delivery of freshly baked sounds. A good sense of sound design and stereo direction is displayed here. Some soundtrack type stuff, but still short and sweet enough to be a song on its own. “Dark Day” makes for a good ambience for a horror video game, till a little acid bass break and leaves you with a few unsettling piano notes.

“I use FL Studio 10, Virtual DJ and Audacity to make beats/mix/master/etc. I use a Rock Band USB mic to record live guitar/bass/vocals/drums.”

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ONE OF THESE??

Released on his own Pleasant Fury Records, which has more from other artists ranging from Neo-Psychedelia, Electronica, Ambient and Drone to Blues, Hip Hop and Alternative, Keith Crystals has 13 albums available for download. In fact, during the time of this writing, a new album Condemned Row was released. You should probably check that out too after listening to Pink Horizon.

Essential Track: Never Let It Go

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Pleasant Fury Records

Album Review: Un Deux Abattoir brings a refreshing sonic soundscape in debut EP.

 

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Album cover for Got The Goings Off Coming On

Un Deux Abattoir’s debut EP, “Got The Goings Off Coming On” is a promising start for the English musician. Current in Amsterdam, the multi-instrumentalist creates a psychedelic environment using dynamic instrumentation and beats, ambient tones and samples which provide an organic flow. At just over 18 minutes, the 5 track EP is a calming, yet exciting journey of mature arrangements.

The opening track, “Wet Turtles Have No Thirst,” provides the album’s only lyrical content:

Well it’s bitter in the winter,
But there’s a fire in your eyes,
Your rhythm throws me off girl, you’re all threes and fives,
But you’re common time somewhere between the thighs.

A poetic sense of imagery that is more of a compliment to the environment of sounds, the simple four lines provide the setting for a romantic and mysterious vibe that is consistent throughout the work. Where the album lacks in vocal or lyric content, it makes up in harmonic and rhythmic structure. “Mmmmm?” is an appropriate opportunity to ponder the words, before the jazz inspired bass enters in title track, “Got The Goings Off Coming On.” Possibly the more developed track, Un Deux Abattoir delivers sophisticated use of space and musicianship. A minimalistic music video provides the ambiguous aesthetic to the track.

“If Man Was Meant to Fly…” opens with chirping birds that slowly realize their melodic purpose when backed by the bass. The horns bringing a rather different feel and energy to the music, while giving meaning to its title. One can’t help but to daydream of being capable of natural aviation. The selection of bird songs (not sure what kind of birds) may or may not be purposeful, but its incorporation to the music is clever and widens the environment for daydreamers to play in.

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Taken from Bandcamp page

Ending with the tribal beats and soft electric piano in”Nightdrive,” Un Deux Abattoir’s debut is a rewarding listen. Originally released in December of 2014, Got The Goings Off Coming On is extremely refreshing from a songwriting and arrangement perspective. The soft tone is easily accessible while the production itself keeps things interesting. A nice, calming soundtrack to help ease the anxiety caused by the uncertainty of 2017.

Essential Track: Got The Goings Off Coming On

Buy The Album HERE