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Album Review: wombat_army “firsteight”

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According to the artist behind firsteight, “wombat_army is the solo project of London based composer/producer Martin Webb, who has been using samplers, synths, looping pedals, a ukulele and a cello to create music for about 15 years.” I had the chance to listen to one of the tracks and I really dug the vibe of it (leading me to listen to the whole album). As you know, when I hear something I like, I have to share it with you via review.

The record has had an interesting critical response already as, according to Webb, “tracks have been played on BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction show, Resonance FM’s ‘Sleeping Dog’s Lie’ and also on BBC London.” My take on it is also, like the media that has played it, quite positive. firsteight is an atmospheric, ambient journey through a total of 9 songs that cause you to engage psychologically. The logical idea behind the songs is to give you a different sphere to exist in, but also keeping you totally engaged. What I mean is, you react like an individual should to the ambient/downtempo genre (i.e. meditative), but the melodies, harmonies, and rhythms also keep you present. There are remnants of Tangerine Dream, Brian Eno and even Philip Glass, but wombat_army has a style of his own.

Within the looping minimalism and the atmospheric tones, the tracks on firsteight allow you to experience each with a calm and pondering frame of mind. With each sequence there are subtle additions to the overall theme of the songs, which is what ambient music should do at its finest. Each melody builds off the previous in a very symbiotic relationship, interlocking to create a complex soundscape. firsteight is ultimately a journey into various parallel musical universes all connected in some way. If you want to think or simply be brought to a different frame of mind with your musical experience, I highly recommend this record. As an ambient composer and musician myself, wombat_army has created something that I truly believe is worth hearing.

Standout tracks: “sunbox,” “cloudgazing,” “birdsflutter”

wombat_army can be found at:

https://wombatarmy.bandcamp.com (firsteight is available for download here)

https://soundcloud.com/wombat_army

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Wombatarmy/693327370775316?fref=ts

https://www.youtube.com/user/wombatarmy

RIP BB King

Musicians feel very strongly the pain of loss when one of our own family leaves this Earth. When it is a person that plays the same instrument as you it is even more so. BB King was one of the last remnants of the old guard of blues, and now that he is gone we must reflect and cherish what he brought to the genre. As a guitarist, I reflect on how he, along with many others like Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson, made my guitar style a possibility. As a rock guitarist, the blues is the foundation for everything, and without BB I know I wouldn’t exist. I’ll miss your warm smile and the love you had for the guitar, which is indeed the greatest instrument on this planet. Your memory and your music will always be with us.

New track: Derek Kortepeter “Divide By Zero”

I wrote this last night, it’s ambient and chill. Kinda like Brian Eno going into outer space or something like that. Have fun.

Happy Birthday Alex Van Halen

Drums/percussion were my first instrument. When I was younger I’d always have this trepidation about getting behind the kit, mainly because the thought of screwing up the entire tempo was scary. The drummer can derail the whole song and that freaked me out. I had help getting over it thanks to my heroes though. Alex Van Halen was my first drumming hero, without a doubt I wanted to play just like him. I picked up other influences in my early years; Ian Paice, Travis Barker, Terry Bozzio, Riley Breckenridge, but nobody topped Alex’s intensity and incredible pocket grooves. I’d always position the crash cymbal on my school’s drum kit directly to my right because I remembered how Alex had one next to his right side as well. I’d beat the living hell out of those drums as I did not have a drumset at home because it was too expensive and noisy (I lived in apartments in the San Fernando Valley growing up). I remember that I studied and internalized every groove on all the Van Halen records as a middle schooler just so I could play them on the school kit before the symphonic band class started (after which I would then have to move to the Timpani, my main instrument). Time went on and my influences grew exponentially as did the music that I played for the drums, but Alex was still the inspiration. Even if I was grooving on the congas during jazz concerts in high school, Alex was the guy I was trying to emulate.

Happy Birthday man.

Breaking Down the Complexity of Rap with Genius

For those that don’t share an appreciation for it as fans do, hip hop music might sound nonsensical. But much like poets, rappers write their songs with underlying or hidden meanings, connotations that are not always uncovered upon your first listen. At times, you won’t even comprehend what words or phrases are expressed with songs, a common problem that most people find with artists working with this genre of music. Madame Noir names more than ten singers and rappers that a majority of people have a hard time understanding what they’re trying to say in their songs.

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Luckily, avid hip hop fans have been contributing their opinions and thoughts on song meanings on RapGenius.com, untangling confusing wordplay which is coupled “oblique references, inside jokes, and regional slang.” But it wasn’t enough to simply have a website that rap lovers could refer to. Demands have changed, and once people hear a new rap single on the radio with obscure lyrics, curiosity strikes the mind and they want to look up song meanings right away on their phones. If they put it off for later, they might just forget about it altogether.

In this day and age, everything has to be mobile friendly in order for it to be relevant. Accessing internet on smartphones and tablets is on par, if not superior, to accessing internet on PCs, as convenience appeals to the consumer. According to James Harrison, the man behind mobile gaming website Pocket Fruity, there is even some debate as to which method is better for launching apps: native apps or HTML 5. Still, launching into mobile markets is an ongoing trend that developers follow so that they can stay connected to consumer interest, such as those that want to keep up with the hip hop industry.

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This is where Genius comes in, a free app that does much more than what the website is capable of. Utilizing the technology of Shazam, Genius can identify songs and immediately display the lyrics, so that you can read them as the particular song is playing in the background. Other than user comments with song interpretation and explanations, some lyrics are accompanied with songs from SoundCloud. If you allow the app to access your music, it’ll find the lyrics of the song you have currently playing. Recently, functions of the app expanded to incorporate rock music, poetry, and even news in the music industry.

Hip hop fan or not, this is an interesting and useful app to have. Unfortunately, Genius is only available on iOS, but it’s an app worth downloading if you own an iPhone or iPad.

(from a contributor)

Mingus: Finding Beauty in the Edges of the Imagination

Derek Kortepeter:

In honor of Mingus’ birthday I am reblogging the rather long post I did about him some time ago.-Derek

Originally posted on mixolydianblog:

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Some composers and musicians are purists, intent on remaining in a specific tradition without altering it greatly. Others are, for lack of a better term, “musical anarchists” intent on destroying every rule and barrier set before them. Finally there are those who fall far from either extreme, but more importantly are able to hold to various traditions while simultaneously challenging them. Charles Mingus is someone that can be considered a member of this third group. A musical renaissance man, Mingus could be as comfortable following contrapuntal rules as he could deconstructing the jazz structures of his contemporaries. He truly was an individual without boundaries to his imagination, and it was his curiosity that set him apart. In order to truly understand, rather begin to understand, the music Charles wrote, one must study his life. It is this concept that this post will focus on, taking both Mingus’ biography and his…

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Brand New-“Don’t Feel Anything” UPDATED

Brand New is a band that, if you know me well, you know has had an immense influence on me. They traveled all the twists and turns of my life and voiced this primal rage and pessimism that I always seemed to have. Brand New is a thing of mythology almost, they disappear and reappear and rarely let news out about what they are doing. All fans got a surprise yesterday when they appeared to open their concert with a new song. It sounds way different than the stuff they’ve put out before, like furthering the sound they explored in Daisy. It has been 6 years since these guys have played anything new, just for that alone I am glad to hear this song.

UPDATE: The song is actually called “Mene” and is available for download and streaming (FOR FREE!) at the band’s website http://www.brandnewrock.com

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