Blisspop Presents: Feedback Friday

Here at Blisspop, we aim to show our audience who’s making their mark upon electronic music culture today. We sort through the good and the bad, bringing you the latest sounds. This brings us to the fifth installment of our new series, Feedback Friday. Our next batch of  beat aficionados / actual human beings / Blisspop contributors includes: William Creason, Alex Rubenstein, Max Hirsch, Justin Barini-Rivers, and our first guest reviewer – Stephen Jefferson. This week’s music includes tracks by Fur Coat, Albrecht La’Brooy, Mmph, Chrome Sparks, and St. Vincent by way of DJDS. Check it out below and send us your suggestions on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.

Fur Coat – “Inner Circle”

William Creason - Along the way, it seems I lost track of Fur Coat’s whereabouts despite liking their output on Crosstown Rebels.  “Inner Circle”, the B-side to their latest release on Watergate, reminds me of what I liked about them years ago: precision percussion, gentle pads, and two hypnotic dual basslines revolving around one another.  This one is prime gear for building up intensity early on in a set. (7/10)

Max Hirsch - This track is one of the most precise records I’ve ever heard. Despite not being a fan of the genre in general, this song got me bouncing with that tasty delay on the synths! Fur Coat came through with surgeon-like sound design here – you can clearly distinguish each hi-hat and cymbal from one another, with space underneath those frequencies to let the bass shine through. I love the tempo and progression of this record as well – energy is great. (8/10)

Alex Rubenstein - The Venezuelan duo of Sergio Munoz and Israel Sunshine, otherwise known as Fur Coat, are back in 2018 and have delivered an entrancing and atmospheric techno journey with “Inner Circle.” This track has a very natural and captivating progression to it, with elements being added and taken away at just the right times over its 8 minute runtime. The drums are a bit muted in my opinion which keep it from truly becoming a peak-time banger. Otherwise, the steady, driving groove and thick bass keep this one fun and moving. (8/10)

Stephen Jefferson - Diggin’ how it went straight into the bass and owned it all the way through, no time for hesitation.  Quite the trip.  I liked how the calm in the first break and the keys in the second break brought in a little diversity.  But I missed them once they were gone, wish those were incorporated elsewhere in the track. (4/10)

Justin Barini-Rivers - This is such a clean track. It’s like a shark moving through water. Dark and powerful and the grooves never stops. The hi hats are jacked and holding their own against the deep kick drum. This is my favorite kind of track. It’s an underwater creature you accept the waves without realizing what is underneath. The movement and simplicity is what makes this track a monster of a tune. (9/10)

Albrecht La’Brooy – “Sealers Cove”

William Creason - The component parts of this track are gorgeous.  The plunking bassline, the gaseous synths, the beachfire guitars echoing through the night are all wonderful.  I wish there was a bit more payoff to the structure; 4 and half minutes in there is a fantastic build starts but it unfortunately doesn’t lead anywhere new.  Maybe I’m asking too much from a track that is meant to be laid back? (6/10)

Max Hirsch - Come on now guys, you’re just fucking with me at this point. Two ambient tracks in the same week for Feedback Friday? I like the Spa channel on SiriusXM just as much as the next commuter sitting in rush hour traffic attempting to manage their incipient road rage, but I don’t think I would ever choose to listen to these tracks. Maybe this is due to ambient not being my favorite genre, but I didn’t find anything particularly remarkable here either. My biggest issue with this track is the length – ten minutes of ambiance is just too damn long for my ears, not to mention my brain. (3.69/10)

Alex Rubenstein - Okay. This is nice. I don’t think I needed 10 minutes of it, but this is a good, relaxing bit of music. Our second non-American duo up this week for consideration is comprised of Melbourne based Sean La’Brooy and Alex Albrecht. I had never heard of Albrecht La’Brooy before today, but I am a fan of the way their music sounds like an expression of the physical place they hail from. There are the gentle sounds of water lapping against the shore and an airy quality to this tune that is akin to hearing a light breeze rustle the trees on a warm summer’s day. The 4/4 beat keeps it simple as a song of this nature should be. This would be really great for studying or working as background music. I don’t know that I will come back to this one, but I can appreciate what was accomplished here with “Sealers Cove.” (7/10)

Stephen Jefferson - I do appreciate how this track makes time for the listener to connect with what it has to offer – not meant for a quick fix, but rather to immerse yourself as it builds up the easygoing, balearic progression.  A 4-minute version would have a different meaning. The midway transition had me hanging on with suspense; I really liked that.  The occasional loud waves of synth and bass throughout the track were an interesting way to create contrast between melodies, but I felt it was more abrupt than complimentary. (9/10)

Justin Barini-Rivers - I’m obsessed with Australian music, especially Melbourne based artists. There is something to the music that is coming out of there. This has all the grooves to keep it flowing for ten minutes. The piano along with the smooth bass lines are enough to keep me involved throughout. The duo continues to up the ante with textures and sounds that really push the groove. The guitars pull me through the last bit, but this track is built for the long haul. This song holds its own for its full length. (6/10)

Mmph – “Sun God”

William Creason - It’s nice to see Tri Angle return with more music.  By my count, they had only one release in 2017 from Compton White.  That said, I’m not on board with this at all.  I’m highly suspicious of the recent wave of music that sounds like Hollywood film sample pack foley sounds used in place of anything musically satisfying or notable (a trend, thankfully, that seems to be coming to an end).  This sounds like the trailer for a movie that I don’t want to see.  (2/10)

Max Hirsch - Totally caught me off-guard. I did not expect to hear an ambient track like this for the Feedback Friday series, and listened to the entirety of this record waiting for a staccato drop only to reach the end of the five minute track without realizing that I had listened to the song. After a second listen, though, I’m quite fond of the sound design and composition elements that drive it forward – I just wish there was more percussion. (6.9/10)

Alex Rubenstein - Mmph is the newest signee to Tri-Angle Records, a label best known for pushing the boundaries of electronic music to some of its most experimental and extreme realizations. Here, on “Sun God,” we have piano and sci-fi sound effects that sound like they were lifted from Arca’s MacBook circa 2014. These sounds are then punctuated with crashing bass and the occasional twinkle giving the beat-less track a rather cinematic quality to it. Apparently, Mmph has been working with another Tri-Angle signee on his debut record, serpentwithfeet, which seems like it will be another successful collaboration in the same way that The Haxan Cloak’s contributions to the blisters EP was. While I am not in love with “Sun God,” I think it shows promise for a young producer and I’ll be on the lookout for the Dear God EP that is set to drop on April 13th. (5/10)

Stephen Jefferson - Tough one. I feel that I would have liked this more in a different setting – live in a dark open venue rather than headphones on a couch. The setting would have definitely changed my senses. The classical keys (and snaps) sewn into the end were more rhythmic, my type of taste, but as of right now, not so much a fan overall. (3/10)

Justin Barini-Rivers - This reminds me of the epic tracks burial used to release without drums. Full of emotion and power. This was not designed to dance, but to experience. This was a full on experience and worth a second listen. The lean sound design mixed with underground is what really makes this song for me. (6/10)

Chrome Sparks – “All Or Nothing” (Feat. Angelica Bess)

William Creason - The way I visualize this song being performed is the singer, Angelica Bess, on one side of the stage duetting with a life sized Atari 2600 on the opposite side of the stage belching out the melody.  I like the sound of this song, though I wouldn’t say that anything happening is particularly novel.  The horn and live (sounding) percussion that appear in the second half are a nice addition. (5/10)

Max Hirsch - Man, this was a tough one for me. The quick intro is cool, but the song goes downhill quickly after that. Angelica Bess sounds OK, but it seems like Chrome Sparks couldn’t decide what genre he wanted this track to be in, so instead of going with a single direction or mixing appropriate genre-defining sounds together, he just threw different elements from different genres in at random. (4/10)

Alex Rubenstein - I am starting to feel like my grandfather because the first thing that comes to mind when listening to this is BLEEP BLOOP BLEEP BLOOP, THIS IS COMPUTER MUSIC. In 90% of cases for me the weirder something is, the better it is. This falls in that other 10% where it just doesn’t click, nor does the weirdness do anything but turn me off. This track also suffers from its extreme choppiness and its lackluster vocals. The only saving grace here is the horn that comes in towards the end of the track. +2 points for the horn. (2/10)

Stephen Jefferson - I thought the warped intro and parts throughout the track were unique, but maybe too abrupt for me to have an itch for it again.  It smoothed out well with the incorporation of jazz and vocals – overall, that contrast was put together well.  The ongoing jazz influence near the end was huge for me, I kept wanting to replay the last quarter. (6/10)

Justin Barini-Rivers - This track is rolling right from the start with Angelica Bess on vocals. The beat just rolls out adding horns and more drums, really offering a smooth listening journey. The distortion and modulation on the main synth line is somehow nostalgic and new. It feels that way especially with the guitars and piano breaking the intensity of the song up. Love Chrome Sparks! This is a lovely release. (9/10)

St. Vincent – “Los Ageless” (DJDS Version)

William Creason - Though MASSEDUCTION gets closest to being great, I’ve been underwhelmed by the last three St. Vincent albums.  With each album I feel like her songwriting and musical talents are bogged down by songs that are undercooked and joylessly conventional.  She’s an artist I want to like, but rarely actually do.  “Los Ageless”‘s heartrending lyrics are buried under a cliché electroclash sounding backing track on the album version.  Los Angeles heavyweights DJDS supply and infinitely better backing track that let the vocals breathe.  Stripped back to a great FM bassline, fingersnaps, and strummed guitars, this remix illustrates how much better this song could have been. (7/10)

Max Hirsch - First impression – the track title is quite droll. However, the actual song is surprisingly underwhelming – especially when compared to the original St. Vincent track. DJDS did not do anything noticeably creative that I can pick up, and even committed a cardinal sin of music in my opinion: they used a low-quality version of the original vocals! Not cool, man. If St. Vincent is going to release this for you, you might as well ask for a HQ version of the stems. (3/10)

Alex Rubenstein - I never really have had a firm grasp of where I stand on Annie Clark aka St. Vincent’s music, always hovering between enjoying her output and thinking she’s quite overrated. With that being said, the DJDS version of “Los Ageless” is really very catchy. This is a slow-burner that still has a lean and a bounce to it. DJDS have some serious finesse and put their skills on display without truly showing off. St. Vincent’s voice sounds great here and the hook will worm its way into your earholes whether you like it or not. (7.5/10)

Stephen Jefferson - I love how DJDS transformed and enlivened the beat, while keeping the vocals sounding as raw as the original.  This remix could have easily dismissed or overlapped the original features too much but I don’t think they crossed the line at all, the sounds go well together.  I actually enjoy this more than the original and didn’t feel guilt that I was missing out on anything. (7/10)

Justin Barini-Rivers - St. Vincent has a sound that for me is hard to place, but still unique to her brand. I expected her vocals to mix in more with the arrangement. The synths sitting with vocals is lovely, but something feels lost to me when the drums come into the song. I want more from the arrangement to move me through the track. The arrangement feels very hot and cold regarding the tempo and feel. (8/10)


The Winners and Losers

Fur Coat – “Inner Circle” – 7.2/10

St. Vincent – “Los Ageless” (DJDS Version) 6.5/10

Albrecht La’Brooy – “Sealers Cove” – 6.338/10

Chrome Sparks – “All Or Nothing” (Feat. Angelica Bess) – 5.2/10

Mmph – “Sun God” – 4.6/10