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luomo / the present lover / kinetic

It seems that Vladislav Delay has always wanted to make a pop album. From his tracks on the last Electric Ladyland compilation, and his first album under Luomo entitled "Vocalcity," he has shed his clicks and cuts image and was on a mission to make the perfect house record, one that combined the elements of experimental electronics with mainstream house hits like Kylie Minogue. I can tell you that Vladislav Delay sweated over these tracks for months, reproducing, remixing, and rerecording to eventually produce "The Present Lover."

The man has completed his mission, for "The Present Lover" is a superb house album that can be listened to just as easily in the club as it can in the home. It is superbly produced, but still contains elements of his experimental works; there are still elements of electronic dub, glitches and vocal cut-ups. Many have dismissed this album as his bid for commercial success but really it is just another face of this extremely talented multi-faceted artist. Mr. Delay did not "sell-out," this is just his attempt at making the perfect house album, and once again he has given us an incredible listening experience. A must have for fans of Vladislav Delay You will here this everywhere in 2004... from mega-clubs and lounges, to dinner parties and shops.
listen: luomo / talk in a danger
listen: luomo / the present lover

pass into silence / calm like a millpond / kompakt

Pass into Silence has a new EP on Kompakt and the label seems to be stepping out of its mold a bit with this one. The sweet/pop/austere formula that most "Pop Ambient" releases are known for is beginning to stress the "austere" part a little less. The five track EP is mainly built of electric piano, angelic female vocal bits (minimal Enya on track 1) and glacial atmosphere. There is a definite regressive, almost indulgent childlike vibe, track 3 sounding like an electronic soundtrack to a children's storybook. Little Nemo (the boy, not the fish) maybe? What may come across as Kompakt going "light" is saved by the always-impeccable production. The most "aggressive" track is a revisit from the "Pop Ambient 2004" track "Sakura" followed by a blissed-out remix (of "Sakura") that trades its slow moving melody for what seems like a slow, cloud-filled, descending melody accented by distant harps. In the remix, 3 minutes and 30 seconds ends way too soon.
listen: voices
listen: sakurare remix

skyphone / fabula / rune grammofon

Norway's always-incredible Rune Grammofon label starts off the year 2004 in fine form with the debut album from a Danish trio called Skyphone. The best recent point of reference for this group is another Scandinavian trio that seamlessly blends acoustic and electronic elements: Tape. While Tape has a more direct approach to song structure, Skyphone's loose, almost dreamlike compositions still retain a strong sense of melody and form. A lot of bands like this tend to go overboard with their arrangements, but the members of Skyphone never allow too many things to happen at once. There must be a million different sounds and samples spread throughout "Fabula," not one of which is ever lost or buried in the mix.

Skyphone probably have more in common with Phonophani than with anyone else on Rune Grammofon, but the extensive use of acoustic guitar and the influence of dub and minimal techno in their incredibly subtle, sometimes almost inaudible beats set them pretty far apart. Fans of Boards Of Canada and Kompakt's Pop Ambient Series will most certainly dig this incredibly beautiful, understated, and mature record. Perfect late night headphone listening, or for closing your eyes and relaxing on the subway ride home from work.
listen: skyphone / monitor batik
listen: skyphone / airtight golem