Saturday, August 31, 2013

Album Review: Eye of the Storm by Flexstyle

As this marks the first, full length album review...

It's nice to open up with an album I've listened to time and time again. Michael Birch (a.k.a. Flexstyle) has been a force to be reckoned with for years. With his time on ACIDPlanet, to Overclocked Remix, to finally making it on the Electro Freaks label...the guy has made his way to some pretty big names and projects with humility and elegance. His ability to combine different elements of music shows he's a diverse artist with a knack for big beats and progressing melodies. I find myself inexplicably thumping my foot and therefore it begs the question, "How does he do it?"

Identifying himself with both EQ mastery and catchy hooks, Flexstyle will continue to make a name for himself.

Now then, let's get started shall we?

Eye of the Storm

#1: Unvanquished (Prologue): What a soothing way to start an album. It tells the long path ahead and gives the notion of the dangers that pass with each footstep. You find yourself in a deep jungle, at the edge of the universe, and somehow in the comforts of your home all at the same time. Your mind begins to wander...

#2: Voltage: This...

Well I remixed this one.

That said, this is easily one of the most powerful tracks on the album. Unleashing an entirely new feeling of adventure and excitement, the standout drums and crunchy background pads fill the soundscape with explosive chords and electrified bells. I can't get enough of it. There's definitely a catchy melody in this one and if this song doesn't cause some myoclonic jerks in your feet...the next song surely will.

#3: Chaos Prime: The moment I listen to this, I get a sense of danger. The people on this quest...have just encountered their first enemy, a ruthless being who seeks nothing but to create destruction and turmoil. As the adventurers go unnoticed, they pass through Chaos Prime and enter an entirely new civilization...

#4: Agua Fria: An ancient race of beings who's existence has long past...the large bass, the deep wispy pads, and the chugs of the guitars leave you wondering if this place is safe. Have you traveled too far? Where are the denizens of this age-old world? This is an excellent track.

#5: Triumph of Innocence: Whoa, drum and bass everybody, hold your colour (please tell me you guys got that reference). This is certainly a colorful track. Hi-hats a plenty, pitched bass drops, and a full blown half-time section along with those electrified bells first seen in Voltage. At the risk of sounding like an anime fanatic (for which I can assure you, I am certainly not), this reminds me of Dragonball Z. Yes, the English dub ones, they're the only ones that are any good. Explosive track, this one. One of the highlights of this album, folks. Check it.

#6: A Quiet Literary Interlude: You needed a break after that last track? Me too, and I think Flexstyle realized that too. This track certainly lives up to the title of the album as this is most assuredly the "Eye of the Storm". Utilizing a trip-hop type beat, vocoded textures, and various snap, pops, and stutters through sliced, glitched beats...this track is incredibly soothing.

#7: Frostbite: In recent times, this track was promoted all over his Soundcloud, for a contest. As for this version...what a track. I'd say this is the heaviest track on the album. Keep your toes covered, this one bytes.

Note: Producers, grab those stems, they're still available. :D

#8: Supernova: With this one, I see some new sounds being used. The chippy, 8-bit sound makes its way into Flexstyle's production. With numerous elements going for it (along with being the longest track on the album), this track begs to be played on a large sound system. It's a journey through and through.

#9: Weeping Clouds feat. Hollidayrain: What a collaboration. Both prolific producers in their own right, Hollidayrain teams up with Flexstyle for a one of a kind progressive house tune that is both huge and long (that's what she said), wait..

Case in point, this track bangs. Hard.

#10: With Friends Like These: Are your friends in the Ming Dynasty? Flexstyle seems to think so. This track embraces the more organic, ethnic inspired vibes of the broad electronica genre. Very interesting contrast between this and the last track.

#11: Eye of the Storm, Part 1: Escape: Like the intensity of "Triumph of Innocence"...we see our 2nd drum 'n bass inspired track of the album. This has gotta be one of the most light-hearted "escape" tracks I've ever heard. You begin to realize at this point, this adventure was one of self discovery and...oh my, that is a beautiful solo around half of this track. Right, where was I? Listen to this track.

#12: Eye of the Storm, Part 2: Aftermath: Introducing the same feeling as the previous track, this one is a bit more mellow. It is the beginning of the end for our travelers...and what a expedition it's been.

#13: Resolution (Epilogue): You stand on top of a mountain, the highest peak in a land far, far recount your travels with your friends and you look at the world...a changed person. A little more wiser, you continue on your next trip...eager for the unknown.

#14: Weeping Clouds feat. Hollidayrain (PrototypeRaptor Remix): As the result of another contest held by Flexstyle...PrototypeRaptor took 1st place. This track takes what was already established in the original and bumps it up to 8.3 on the Richter scale. Excellent remix.

Overall: While this album is getting close to two years old, it's one I still treasure to this day. Judging on both the concept of this album and the production, this is a very clean and well thought out product. When you're looking for new electronica to listen to and you don't know where to start, this review should be an indication that...through the cracks and crevices of the internet, there is gold to be found for those who take the time to search.

I give this album a 5 out of 5 rating.

Thank you for reading.

P.S. Top Pick:

Follow Flexstyle:

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I'm just a simple guy, asking questions. Questions for the asking.

I had a lot of time to think today. During my stay in an ER room, I had time to ponder the finer things in life...while watching Mrs. Doubtfire on CMT. But as the day progressed, I started to think...what would happen if I was really in an emergency. What would I be able to do to help myself recover?

I'm a pretty big fan of parties and the overall social experience. I like hanging out with friends just as much as any other guy, but...when it came to last Saturday, I can best describe my experience as..."too much." What I mean by that was...I was so into the mood of things that I lost my perception of what the consequences might be. I didn't restrain myself and I didn't limit my therefore, I drank way too much.

At the time, it felt really nice. I was light as a feather and every ping pong ball I threw into a red Dixie cup felt like perfection.

That is until the next day...

Headache, sore throat, stomach problems, etc. You name it, I had it.

As the day progressed, my condition felt worse. I hadn't had anything to eat and my body felt limp. My stomach kept growling but I just ignored it. Eventually, my friends invited me over the next day and I felt an uneasy feeling about the idea. I was hungry, but at the same time...wasn't. Something had gotten to me that day, and as I started to make hamburgers...I felt very lightheaded. Dizziness was a prevalent symptom too.

When all was said and done, I engorged myself with 2 hamburgers (full of ranch, hot sauce and peppers), a chicken patty, 2 helpings of Bush's Baked Beans and 3 large glasses of water. It was delicious and although I'd just eaten a ton of food...I still had this sickly feeling. It persisted from that day, until today. The pain moved from the center, to one part of my digestive tract, prominently on the right side and stayed.

I feared for the worst this morning. Everyone fears the unknown.

Turns out, the entire 6 hour stay at the ER was...because I was full of shit. Literally.

So is there a life lesson to be learned out of this? I really can't say. What I do know, is that I now have a responsibility to take care of my body as much as possible. Things could've been a lot worse, and although it wasn't, I don't take that for granted. I've had some very close friends at this point who've experienced a lot worse than me and I'm grateful for my current state of health.

Take care of your body, it's the only one you have.

Right, onto happier music.

Here's my three picks for today:

First up: Beats Antique - Catskillz (JPOD Remix)

If there's something that can be said about this artist, it's that he has consistently bouncy textures, dynamic percussion, and catchy melodies. I honestly can't get enough of it. This might not qualify as your average party music, nor can it be classified as anyone genre but, it is definitely very intricately crafted electronica. Therefore you should listen to this and support this artist.

Next up: The Crystal Method & Riot Games - Lucian

If you're an electronic music fan, and you've been alive for the past 20 years, The Crystal Method should be a name you recognize almost immediately. The group is synonymous with big beats, phat textures, and well...truly creates the "Name of the Game". Check out this track, and be amazed

and last but not least: The M Machine - A King Alone (Robotaki Remix)

I've had the great privilege to see Robotaki grow as an artist. From humble beginnings on OverClocked Remix and unfinished remixes that...have become legend on the site, such as the infamous "Manoria Cathedral Revamp", to now...making a remix for one of the biggest acts in electronic dance music...there's nothing this guy can't do. An unbeatable groove, happy feelings, and chillin' vocals...this makes the list. Awesome work dude.

That's all for today, I'll definitely be taking a little bit of a break from blogging. Need to finish some music myself.

Thanks for tuning in. :)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Sellouts? What are they? Who qualifies as one?

I had a conversation yesterday that was quite peculiar. It's a touchy subject and one that needs explaining. How or why? I have no idea. But I'll begin by telling you, the term "sellout" has been used by almost everyone of my friends and most likely...all of your friends too.

What determines if someone is a sellout?

First: "sellout" (as described by everyone's favorite dictionary, Urban Dictionary): is an artist who conforms to the way record labels or managers see them to make money through commercial success and generally not the original fan base.

Now, being a struggling musician myself, I run everything I do on my own with no help from any outside source. Outside sources being...signed to a label, run by a manager, or being hassled or swindled for money from bigger corporations. I run every aspect of my business (because it's my business) and do what I can to make sure my music is heard. Twitter, Facebook, Soundcloud, and YouTube are all major key components in the music game but, I can understand when an artist is down on his luck...and needs to find a source of income. Why do labels exists? The same reason online social networking exists: advertisement.

The conversation I had with this genuine fellow, was about the rap group, "Atmosphere". Being no stranger to this artist, I felt thrilled someone else shared my enthusiasm about good music. A few members in the chat were praising this artist based on his lyrics, impeccable sense of "groove" and overall originally of compositions.

Until another person came in the chat shouting, "Yeah, he'd be great if he wasn't such a SELLOUT!"

Something snapped in my brain when I heard that. I felt as though, I...truly didn't know how to describe a sellout myself. So I began to question this individual who...had been, "high in the clouds". Was it pointless to start this argument? Possibly.

As it proceeded to go on and on, I searched up facts about the group, Atmosphere. All facts pointed to the same thing. Atmosphere was a group of rap artists who had been in the world of underground rap music for nearly the past 10 years and when they finally had the finances, they started their own label, "Rhymesayers Entertainment."

So not only did this group make their own music...they made their own label. I started to notice some similarities between myself and this group. They run everything themselves too.

So I guess the moral of this story is...check your facts. More importantly, know exactly what you're talking about before you say...what you "think" might be right.

My good friend, Jeroen Tel made a quote a few days ago, that sums up this mess of a blog...perfectly:

"The difference between -being right- and -thinking you could be right- is the difference between -breathing- and -holding your breath- (guess which one of each outlasts the other). Politics has a way with -holding it's breath-."

Thanks for listening, I'll end this blog with one of my favorite recent Atmosphere songs.

Friday, August 23, 2013

New Beginnings and New Music

Well, here it is...

The first blog post in almost a decade. I can't believe Blogger actually kept this blog active. When I tried to create a new one, it was all like...PSYCH!
You already have one.

I can't say it made a whole lot of sense at first but hey, less work on my part. Now to explain the whole reason/goal of this blog. I've been told for over a decade that I've known where to find good music and make it available to people through my own personal understanding of "groove". Groove? Why did you just say groove?

I'll tell you why.

Every person in the world has their own "groove". How much that groove appeals to other people is completely random. When you're a child you figure out what you like, what you don't like and you base your personality off of those things you cherish when you get older. The "groove" of which I speak is the natural balance your brain has with music and how that balance can connect with other people. If you're sitting there listening to Moonlight Sonata, there's a very good chance your "groove" is not gonna connect with someone that's listening to Insane Clown Posse.

This blog will feature new music I find almost every week (if I can). I hope I can provide material here which will later become your favorite artists, albums, or even genres.

So with all that out of the way, introduction complete.

Song Review....Initiate!

These are 3 amazing new songs I have found over the past few days.

First on the list: Mr. Bill and Protostar - Asymmetric

This song is simply astounding, the amount of variation...the constant ideas. I really had to search through my archives to try to find something I could relate this to...and honestly? Nothing came close. Blending of glitch hop, neurofunk, and djent such an unholy union that feels so right. I have followed Mr. Bill for some time now, and everytime I hear something of his on Soundcloud...there are no words that come to mind. Highly recommended.

Second on the list: Shelter - Two of Us

Amazing. This might be the shortest song of this list but it packs an emotional punch, with an unwavering sub bass...that sucks you right into a black hole of confusion but relaxation. I don't know how I've never heard of Shelter before but he also goes by "Space Laces" (which you can find here). The feelings that might have gone into this song, must have been powerful. It's truly inspiring stuff.

and last but not least: Ugress - Spider Eyes (Spider Man Theme)

Well, I'm always down for a little funkity funk. Nothing sets the mood right more than a couple of swung strings, some sexy jazz flutes, and rhodes (on fire, yo). This is especially awesome. Why, you ask? I was a 90's need not concern yourself further with my love of Sunday morning Marvel cartoons. In fact, I think it's quite self-explanatory. This theme dragged me through the first 10 years of my life with hopes of being a superhero and saving all the hot womenz...nonsense, I was only 12. I wasn't thinking of women, was I? Hell no, I was thinking "Why the hell can't I shoot webs out my hands?" This song is amazing, check it out.

...and this is where I draw my first post to a close. I'll try to update this as much as I can, but you can be sure this is gonna be constant...even if it's one post every two weeks. I have more music than I can possibly hope to share within the next 5 years of my life.

Thanks for reading everyone! Stay tuned!

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