Music

Thelonious Monk

On this page you'll find all kinds of stuff related to the actual music: reviews of albums, links to interesting (free) music, labels, ...

You'll only find stuff here that I personally find interesting. Makes sense as I'm not going to waste my precious time writing about music that leaves me cold. To give you an idea of what to expect here: I'm a big fan of contemporary electronic music (not the commercial stuff you constantly hear on the radio by the way). Recently I have also developed an interest in jazz and certain strains of world music. Very occassionally I also listen to a little bit of classical music.

Max Richter - The Blue Notebooks

Posted by Brainbug on April 3, 2007
Max Richter - The Blue Notebooks

Max Richter - The Blue Notebooks (Fat Cat)

Ah, Max Richter, British-based, German-born pianist and composer. And wonderful is the music that he composes. His debut solo album (Memoryhouse) left a deep mark on me when I heard it for the first time. Sadly I was too late to buy myself a copy and for some strange reason the album is no longer for sale (a second-hand copy on Amazon currently sets you back a ridiculous $224.98 in the US or an even more absurd 394.77 in the UK!). His second solo album is the subject of this review and is (at the time of writing) still widely available and hopely remains so for a very long time as this is truly music that needs to be heard. Max Richter, like Murcof, blends modern compositional styles with electronic sounds. The end result is however entirely unlike Murcof's work, the focus lies strongly on classical music subtly supported by an electronic sound or a field recording here and there. The overall feel of the album is that of solitude, loneliness and melancholy that is even further enhanced by quotes from Franz Kafka (read by Tilda Swindon). Turn off the lights, increase the volume (never mind the neighbours) and enjoy!

For more information about Max Richter you can visit his website.

Murcof - Martes

Posted by Brainbug on April 3, 2007
Murcof - Martes

Murcof - Martes (Leaf)

It took me a long while to discover this album (it was originally released in 2002) but I'm glad I eventually did as this is some of the most intense electronic atmospheric music I've heard so far. Murcof is the solo-project of Fernando Corona that he started in Mexico in 2001 (nowadays he lives in Spain). The project is an ongoing experiment of merging electronic and classical music in various minimal ways. This translates to subtle micro beats and clicks mixed with modern classical samples to create something very emotional and utterly relaxing that comes highly recommended!


Those interested in hearing some of Murcof's work can visit his myspace page and/or his website.

Harold Budd - By The Dawn's Early Light

Posted by Brainbug on March 13, 2007
Harold Budd - By The Dawn's Early Light

Harold Budd - By The Dawn's Early Light (Hannibal)

A beautiful work from Harold Budd, an American ambient/avant-garde composer. Originally released in 1991, I have the re-release from Hannibal Records (2006). This is a minimalistic and sparse album containing different variations on a basic theme that sometimes repeat across multiple tracks. The album starts with a spoken word poem that sets the mood for the rest of the voyage. A voyage that takes you across desolate plains haunted by mournful viola sounds (courtesy of Mabel Wong), drifting guitar solos (Bill Nelson and B.J Cole for the steel guitar), mesmerizing harp (Susan Allen) and delicate piano (Harold Budd). I enjoy this kind of minimalistic and epic music immensely but I can also easily imagine that many do not as you might be inclined to consider these kind of arrangements to be limited in one way or another. Still, if you seek refuge from overly complex music or are in need of a relaxing dose of soothing ambient music after a hard day of work, then this album might be just what you need!

Some older reviews

Posted by Brainbug on February 22, 2007

I still had some older reviews on my pc. I might just as well post them here.

Automat - Introspection

Automat - Introspection EP (SCSI)

Pure electro that can easily be compared to the work of Drexciya and Dopplereffekt. All 4 songs are wonderfully written but what really stands out is the superb bass programming. "Hardware" has an aquatic feel to it that immediately reminds me of "Neptune's Lair" from Drexciya, "Nematod" is a very funky and lighter song which is in great contrast to much of the darker electro nowadays (which I like as well, but some variation is always welcome). "Phase 1" is clearly the dancefloor killer of this album with a much more straightforward 4/4 beat and some very exquisitely layered sounds. "Robomelo", as its name suggests, is a much more "mellow" song that has a very hypnotic effect and some melancholic sounds in it that make me dream of faraway places...very powerful emotional stuff! If you're an electro lover or simply someone with a deep intrest in electronic music, this EP is something you should definitely check out!

Finding the actual LP might be difficult but you can buy the MP3's from Boomkat.

Cultek - Human Interface

Cultek - Human Interface (Touchin' Bass)

Cultek are Philip Bolland (Sync 24) and Robert Smith (promoter of London's Scand electro parties). With this EP on Andrea Parker's Touchin' Bass imprint they deliver a minimal and atmospheric little electro gem. "Pressure Lock" kicks off in a style that clearly reminds you of Sync 24 (check his "Darker Senses EP"): powerful bass and dark noisy synth washes combined with some psychedelic synth leads. "Construct" is exactly that: a construction that starts out simple and slowly adds more elements until you have one mighty late night floorshaker! The other side brings us "Infra-Red" which continues in a kind of obsessive fashion with fast moving synth leads and a discrete but powerful bass. The final track is "Moody Rollneck", for me this is the standout track of the album. It begins very simply and reminds me a bit of earlier Andrea Parker (think "The Dark Ages"), however the anthem-like synth sounds quickly move this track in pure Drexcyia-land without being a simple copy of their style. Dreamy atmospheric pads and a perfect production (as is the case with all the other tracks as well) lift this song to a higher level: classic!

Ola Bergman - Pseudocarp

Ola Bergman - Pseudocarp (New Speak)

Beautiful 12" by Ola Bergman. Opener "Pseudocarp" shows that electronic music can be as emotional as any other genre (beautiful detuned synths with a hip-hop beat underneath), "Lima" continues in the same vein but with a more downbeat drum rhythm to it. "Snake Meadows" is really something special, the beginning of the song is rather tricky and you're not sure where it is leading to, but all of the sudden it turns into a powerful emotive electro tune...absolutely brilliant! The B-side starts of with "Vulture's End" which has a funky electro feel to it with lots of detuned synths and a beautifully layered construction that shows off Ola's production skills. As with all the other tracks on this 12", this is once again a very emotional song. The final track is "Cypsela", a warm chill-out track...great after a day of hard work.

Stendec - A Study of 'And'

Stendec - A Study of 'And' (Expanding Records)

Absolutely fantastic, mindblowing record! 'descent' is a magnificent opener that immediately transports you to a place far away from you earthly environment. It also sets the scene for what is to follow, a beautiful ambient intro. 'black state special' continues with beautiful ambient pads and gradually introduces some more structure by bringing in some clicks and a gentle lead, then adding some gentle drum programming. 'raine' continues much in the same vein of 'black state special' but introduces very simple, yet touching synth chords that really connect on an emotional level. This is then beautifully complemented by slow evolving ambient pads. 'carbonek' comes next and immediately starts of with an arpeggiated synth line followed by a beautiful synth line (my god, the sounds on this album are breathtaking!). This awesome, epic feeling is then further enhanced by warm, engulfing ambient pads...close your eyes and you're in musical heaven. A drum sequence kicks in, a menacing bass joins it and seems about to destroy your precious little heaven but then the original sounds kick in again and fuse with the drum programming, robbing it from all its menacing features. And in heaven you remain right until the ending of this beautiful song... 'tremearne' ends the first side of this genre-defining album starting of with atmospheric pads quickly followed by a chilled drum pattern. Once again it's hard to describe the various sounds but suffice to say that they once again manage to create a certain relaxing and engulfing atmosphere that can easily help you recover from a stressful day at work. 'drexler' starts the flipside. I'm not sure but I think the title refers to K. Eric Drexler (a contempary scientist that defined - and is still defining - the field of nanotechnology). If so, Drexler's vision of a nano-powered society conflicts with the, once again, very relaxing, beautiful and refined song that is developed here. On the other hand, perhaps it is just this refined song-crafting that connects 'drexler' to Drexler because nanotechnology too is a very refined field working on the level of molecules and perhaps one day even individual atoms. Then again, I might be completely wrong and Stendec were unaware of the existence of Drexler and all this is just a coincidence ;-) 'incluse'...well what can I say? This album is very coherent hence what I have described earlier applies to this song as well and just as the previous songs it is flawlessly executed here. Mind you that I'm not saying here that they all sound the same! They all share the same characteristics but they are certainly not identical songs or slight variations of the same theme: they all manage to convey the same sense of rest and peace but do so via different paths, each path as interesting as the previous one. 'aileron' opens with angelic pads and soon brings in an infectuous drum pattern and soft bursts of noise. 'ubik' ends the album on a beautiful note. Once again transporting you to a safe and warm place (you can imagine that this is how unborn babies feel in the womb of their mother - a beautiful feeling). Sadly the album then ends but to all good things must come an end and you can always start over which is exactly what I have been doing for the last couple of days!

By the way, the title of the album is explained on the back of the record sleeve by quoting Arthur Stanley Eddington (a rather influential scientist living from 1882-1944):

"we often think that when we have completed our study of one we know about two, because 'two' is 'one and one'. we forget that we still have to make a study of 'and'"

I'll leave it to you to think about what this means on a musical level but considering that electronic music is made by machines that think in zeros and ones, you'll probably figure it out soon enough... Conclusion: a genre-defining album that I can easily place alongside others of its kind (Arovane's Tides and Lillies comes to mind as well as certain tracks from Boards Of Canada) and a must for all those who love their electronica injected with a relaxing dose of ambient...

Free electronic music

Posted by Brainbug on February 21, 2007

Let's start this section with some quality electronic music freely available on the web. Some people might think that this kind of music is crap because anybody can publish his creations on the web but as a matter of fact there is some really good stuff out there. You just have to find the gems between the crud. One of the labels I regard highly is the kahvi collective. This is a quality netlabel that, at the time of writing, has made 205 releases totalling somewhere around 60 hours of listening pleasure. Not everything is equally great but almost all of it at least deserves a listen. Some of my personal favorites include:


There is much more and the collective even offers you the possibility to listen to random streams so that you can easily explore their entire catalog. This label alone should keep you busy for quite some time to come!

Another equally great netlabel is Sutemos, a lithuanian netlabel but don't worry you can access their site in english as well. You should definitely check out their Intelligent Toys compilations, they contain some very good music and offer a nice introduction to modern electronica:


There are many more interesting sites containing beautiful music on the web but I'm a bit tired now and listening to some free music through my headphones. I think I'm just going to close my eyes, enjoy the music and relax a bit!

Some links