When it comes to streaming music I’m a devout Rdio user, specifically because of it’s clean, organized design. But now the originator of streaming music Spotify has released a fresh new design that almost feels like the dark, swarthy twin of Rdio.
The UI has been significantly cleaned up and simplified, though in my opinion it feels like it’s taken a lot of cues from Rdio, although still awkwardly it looks like a mash-up of iTunes and an old Windows application. Still, it’s too early to be hyper-critical of the effort. Clearly the design team there has been empowered to start making changes to the UI, and hopefully we’ll be seeing incremental changes rolling out from here.
If you need something mellow today take a listen to the brand new album from HTRK, a London based techno duo. The whole thing has a sexy, ambient, breathy vibe to it. If you dig music like Junior Boys or Rhye, you’ll probably be into this.
Of all the themes that run through Psychic 9-5 Club, love is the most central. The word is laced throughout the album in lyrics and titles—love as a distraction, loving yourself, loving others. Standish’s lyrics explore the complexities of sexuality and the body’s reaction to personal loss, though there’s room for wry humour—a constant through much of the best experimental Australian music of the past few decades.
Last week Bobby covered Firewatch, an upcoming indie game backed by a ‘holy trinity’ of game development. It’s sure-to-be-gorgeous-design reminded me of another beautiful up & coming game that I’ve had on my radar: Hyper Light Drifter. Video games are a huge passion of mine, and I’m not quick to gush over a title (especially one that I haven’t had the opportunity to play). Yet, here I am, gushing. In a world of increasingly creative and imaginative indie games, Heart Machine’s Hyper Light Drifter already stands out as one of the shining pillars of gameplay, art direction, and design.
Patatap is a portable animation and sound kit that’s controlled by key commands and touch controls. It combines playful sounds with abstract shapes that aniamte in creative ways, which give visual feedback as you create music. Amazingly enough you can try it out for yourself in the embed below.
What’s interesting is where the motivation to build Patatap came from, which builds off the idea of triggering synesthesia as well as the art of Mondrian and Kandinsky.
The motivation behind Patatap is to introduce the medium of Visual Music to a broad audience. Artists working in this field vary in discipline but many aim to express the broader condition of Synesthesia, in which stimulation of one sensory input leads to automatic experiences in another. Hearing smells or seeing sounds are examples of possible synesthesia. In the case of Patatap, sounds trigger colorful visual animations.
The history behind the aesthetic expression of synesthesia arose from the paintings of Piet Mondrian and Wassily Kandinsky and the early videos of Viking Eggeling and Norman McLaren, to the contemporary animations of Oskar Fischinger and softwares of C.E.B. Reas. Patatap takes elements from all these visionaries and aims to present this concept in a direct way.
The project is a collaboration between Jono Brandel, who has a knack for combining design with computer wizardry, and Lullatone, a musical duo based out of Nagoya, Japan. Together they’ve made abeautiful fusion of technology, design, art, and music that I’ve rarely seen achieved.
I was digging through covers of Radiohead songs on Soundcloud when I came across this gem by Craig McMahon, his version of “Kid A”. It’s all instrumental, a combination of xylophone, oboe, a little bit of drum, and a roaring bit of synths. I like that it maintains the virtue of the original with it’s own unique take. A lovely little late night tune.
You could describe the music of Sevendeaths as something very visceral. His sound seems to punch right through you, shaking out your ears in order to reveal itself to you. His latest release Concreté Misery is gripping, dark thirty minutes. It is a combination of cold stone techno with foggy white ambience: it’s an intriguing combination and a thrilling listen. The EP’s opener “Petrograde” serves as the best taste of Sevendeaths and truly is a modern masterpiece. It has a sublimeness to it yet feels absolutely based in the earth: it feels like a vision from the past of the future.
While catching the new LP from Los Angeles’ own house maker Magic Touch, we found that he was collaborating with a Brooklyn artist in the same world, Octa Octa. Both are 100% Silk labelmates so it makes sense that they be together but Octa Octa has a little something extra to him that is quite enveloping. He’s making big open house jams intended for you to walk around and soak yourself in rather than dance in and dance out of. It’s certainly body music but, as he describes it, is ultimately “boring house.” That’s kind of a joke (as his music isn’t boring) but it’s intended to be listened to and to connect with not just tune out on while you bump and grind. The best example of this is “Further Out,” a luscious eight minute example of contemporary house music done right.
I have to admit, Fez was a very frustrating game for me. It started out really fun but then it began to boggle my mind and I couldn’t figure out what to do. Still, it had a kick-ass soundtrack by Disasterpeace, a Berkeley based musician who really helped bring the game to life. I’ve been listening to the soundtrack a lot lately while I design/write, fitting perfectly into the background and not distracting me.
You can listen to the whole thing by clicking that little play button above, or if you have Rdio you can click here and listen to it.
This morning I decided to go for a run (the first time in quite a while) and threw on the new Tycho album Awake to accompany me. It turned out to be a great choice, the songs having this driving quality, like an upbeat soundtrack to your life. Clocking in at around 36 minutes it seems like it almost was made for a morning run.
You can listen to the whole album over on NPR by clicking here, and if you want to listen to the album on your own run download the NPR Music App.
It’s been a rainy couple of days here in Los Angeles, a rarity for sure, but it certainly creates a nostalgic feeling. It made me think of this oldie from The Rolling Stones called “As Tears Go By”, one of the Stones’ first original songs. It’s a lovely song which is a vast departure from their later material, with gentle vocals and lush strings flowing throughout it. If it happens to be raining where you are, open the windows and put this on repeat, I promise it’s perfect.