Element Klepta Volume 1 – Planet Ragtime
2013 – Free Crates
Electronic/ Ambient/ Acid-Jazz
Kicking off with the funky little electro-jazz number Rip & Glue, Planet Ragtime’s EP lays down some tasty beats that provide a great backing track to all sorts of chilled out activities.
Laid back, cool, and wrought with great sense of style and intelligence this release is definitely one of the more interesting forays into this particular style that I have heard recently. I mean, the Gorillaz style backbeat trance of Hole Up was entrancing in its slowly drifting dark-swing riffs, and the Chet Baker cry of an intro to One Day before dissolving into delicious dream-beat was just wonderful.
My only real issue with this release is that the tracks don’t have all that much variation in them. The same hip-hop beats and slow-paced time signatures dominate so much of this EP that is was difficult at times to really get fully immersed in the whole experience. I guess I would have liked to have heard a bit more emphasis on the warped-jazz aspects of this particular group’s music rather than a simple reliance on the tried and tested drum and bass elements.
In conclusion, if you’re looking for some chill-out music to satisfy your needs for both electro and jazz then Element Klepta Volume 1 is definitely the EP you need to acquire. If, on the other hand, you’re in the mood for something that will grab you and drag you through a rollercoaster of emotion, then perhaps it’s not what you’re after.
Either way, I’d definitely recommend giving this release a listen, and you might just find yourself falling in love with it all.
Get EP here: http://free-crates.com/album/element-klepta-volume-1
Gold Can Stay – Broke For Free
2012 – Independent
Electronic/ Ambient/ Chill-Out
Much like Element Klepta’s EP, Broke For Free’s Gold Can Stay four track release is an instrumental piece that focuses on laid back beats and chilled out melodic riffs. The only problem here is that Gold Can Stay doesn’t have the same dark charm or intelligent jazz bent on it. I mean, it’s not necessarily bad – in fact a lot of the beats are rather tasty – it’s just that there’s not really a whole lot to grab onto with this EP.
All the beats are tight and all of the instrumental overlays add a nice sense of texture, but overall the music is just relatively nondescript. I mean, trying to focus on the music I just found that my mind couldn’t help but wander away from it all and think about other things. It’s not like the hooks and grabs weren’t there, it’s just that they aren’t brought to the fore enough for them to actual hook or grab you. The composition and arrangement of the tracks is solid too, but still there’s just some little element of catchiness that is missing.
I suppose if you were just looking for some background music to play while sipping a beer after a long day’s work this might provide some level of comfort, but I’d say that there are definitely better records out there. In fact, I know there are better records out there.
In summary, after listening to Gold Can Stay I just found myself wanting. There are the beginnings of a lot of good stuff on here, but it never fully realizes itself. Perhaps if I come back to Broke For Free in a few months or years time they’ll have worked their chill sound into something that stands up to the rest of the genre, but for now I’ll have to drop this one into the pile of ‘unrealized potential’.
Get EP here: http://brokeforfree.bandcamp.com/album/gold-can-stay
Anniversary Session (Not Punk Session #14) – Northamericans
2013 – Not Punk Records
Alternative/ Rock/ Grunge
Jangly guitar riffs supported by an under-layer of screaming feedback with vocals fluttering across from a singer who may or may not be on this planet; this EP starts out with a bang. Then we move into a solid base of hard grunge riffs with rolling drum lines and the same zany vocals, and then over to psychedelic solos informed by a driving futurist aesthetic, and it just keeps on getting better and better from here.
Really, it was a splendid surprise to hear such a chaotic and freeform whirlwind of noise being made by a band that I still have the chance to see live one day. Everything is just flooded with an amazing sense of barely contained explosive power tempered by a softly sung artistic sensibility. I mean, the way a track like Eudamonia switches from Gun Club style country-punk to the grinding riffs of Nirvana’s earlier days while the Black Francis styled vocals drift in and out of consciousness with a sort of bored pathos was really a treat to hear.
To my mind northamericans might be one of the most exciting bands I’ve discovered over the course of the year, and I’m hoping that there are big things in store for them. And for my part all I can do is sincerely urge you to have a look at their Bandcamp page and give a listen to their music. I know that I’ll be going back there later today just to get my hands on whatever else they have released.
Really, I think I won the lucky dip this week by finding northamericans hidden in the depths of Bandcamp. They are now on the list of nominees for best EP of the year.
NOTE: I shall be keeping an eye on the goings on of northamericans, so expect to hear more from me about them in the future.