Saturday, December 17, 2011

This Year's Christmas Single is a Free Download :)

I try to get a Christmas song or collection out there at least every other year. In 2007 it was "Lo How a Rose E'er Blooming", in 09 came the Nativity Set ep, and this year it's a funky Catalan carol - "Fum, Fum, Fum". To download - just click the down arrow on the wav file box. Synth-hop ~ Hope you dig it! Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays - SO

edit: since I had to update the code for this post, I've put the 2014 remix here - it's way better!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

New video - O Little Town of Bethlehem

I've been meaning to get on this for a while, putting some images to the "Nativity Set" tracks. Here is the first one - I delved into a drawer full of greeting cards and picked out about 2 dozen images I thought went with it. Initially it was going to be all toys, winter scenes and fun, but I decided to also allude to the meaning of the words, at least for the 1st verse. Hope you like! - SO

Friday, December 2, 2011

Thrift Shopping for Christmas Jams...

A budget re-release of a budget re-release - Custom Records CS 5

Click the red audio players to hear selections from my shopping spree...

Flashback 1970's - In my neighborhood if a cracklin' fire on Christmas Eve was desired, most of us either had a cardboard fireplace, with some sort of rotating foil mechanism for 'flames'; or you turned on WPIX and watched the "Yule Log", a now legendary Christmas memory for Tri-State area peeps. Twas a loop of a few minutes of fireplace footage, with a few hours of Christmas music also looping - the cheerful, elevator-muzak kind, not the Beibers and Bublés of current radio fodder. In other words, the good stuff! Andy Williams was about as hip as it got - plenty hip enough for that homey, warm feeling. Along with wackiness and obscure, good-quality stuff, the muzak is now my favorite holiday tuneage. Never slip-shod on the arranging or performing - it really is, all good.

I had errands in Ormond Beach the other day, so I drove a few extra miles for a 2nd trip to the Holly Hill Salvation Army Thrift Store. They've only got 4 small rows of vinyl, most of it John Denver, Kenny Rogers and Anne Murray.

Not always the savviest thrift-shopper - I grabbed the above album misreading it as by Gordon Jenkins - the famous bandleader/composer. Oops number one, although this turned out to be easy-listening gold. It's also been released as by George Jenkins and the 1000 strings (is that counting all 4 strings on each instrument?) on Crown Records. Anyway - it is very congenial listening with several nods to Mantovani. More like a mugging, the 'cascading' effect is everywhere - but done well, and very pleasant; with thoughtful, eloquent arranging.

Grand Prix Records

I was half-excited to find this album - since it was still in cellophane. However, the Happy Crickets were the dime-store version of The Chipmunks, with very dime-store ethics in production, showing none of the finesse of David Seville and sporting a very parred-down instrumentation. Unfortunately (?) I didn't check the condition of the vinyl itself.

oops no 2

Luckily (??) I already picked up the single that inspired the album - and am more than happy to inflict it upon any willing victim. The 'rare' flipside was so bad they didn't even include it on the above album. At 1:18, it's still too long. I advise you not to listen if you are in even the slightest bad mood. It's awfulness even inspired me to make an accompanying animated video - very dark at times. I'll post that later, perhaps with the nooses and grim reapers edited out.

ABC Records Music Guild - Now Generation Series - IDS-9904

Oh yeah!!! Gotta love the 70's - where does one begin? This is by far the oddest marketing I've ever seen for a classical album. Politically correct completely out the window (woo-hoo!!), and Mozart, known for often delving into the crass for a laugh, would have absolutely loved this album cover. (Although I'm not a pc kinda guy - I'm still pretty horrified by it.) With the simulated stereo by "electronic rechanneling"? - maybe not so much. I already have primo versions of both symphonies by von Karajan so I'll save it for some tedious moment in the future. Final laugh - this is released on ABC Records' "Now Generation" series.

Koto Vivaldi - The New Koto Ensemble of Tokyo
Angel EMI S-37450 Quadraphonic!

And finally - another pearl in the Montgomery Wards Gem Kit. Again - yay for the 1970's! The joining of Vivaldi and a Koto ensemble is a marriage made in Ama. Arranged and performed exquisitely, there are moments where one misses the range and ability to trill of the violin; but certain passages thrive, like the rain/snow depictions in the slow movements of Spring and Winter, and blustery wind and slipping on ice are all vivid and evocative during the outer movements. The cover alone was worth the 25 cents; this was another big win.

If you are into Christmas Vinyl - may I recommend FalalalalaMistletunes  (Christmas Rock)  and The Christmas Yule Blog - where you'll find much more of both visuals and audio. Also - if the WPIX "Yule Log" intrigues you: someone has uploaded the whole loop in 15 parts up on youtube. Enjoy! - SO

Monday, November 7, 2011

Too Early? Never! A little record collecting...

 I recently posted this first lp's art on FB - but here it is in all it's glory - can't wait to listen to Antar since it was composed just before Sheherazade, an all time favorite. The lusciously colored artwork is by Abe Gurvin.
 On to the Christmas music. Got this at a now-closed junk store in town. For a Pickwick release - this is some pretty sweet artwork. Walter Schumann - best known for the "Daaaa -duh - daht- daht" theme of "Dragnet", has some nice arrangements - although the opening and closing "Christmas in the Air" is a bit too holly jolly for me. The album consists of 2 side-long tracks, making it slightly cooler.
 I don't know much about this one - I haven't dared listen to it yet (I've had it for years) - I do know it's a favorite youth memory among fellow drugstore record peeps. Any album that uses the same artwork for the front and back raises doubts for me.
 Ah - a recent find and for 25 cents! A new gem in my collection. Some of the most completely innocent and harmless sounding Christmas music you'll find. As a kid, a favorite feeling of mine was giving my bedroom to my visiting grandmother, and sleeping on the couch right next to the Christmas tree. This would have been the perfect album for that. The liner notes describe it best: "When this holiday of devotion and delight leaves the crowded streets, the gay parties... when it quietly shuts the door on the outside world and becomes an intimate, family kind of thing, then a different sound takes over."  Love the cover design. Also classy - Warner Bros. recommending albums from other record labels on the back.
Groovy! No worries - Veo Gray's wife and kids do not supply any of the singing or music-making. They are there, perhaps, to portray family values. A truthful cover would have mom in fringe and go-go boots. Some fine arranging from Jodie Lyons - in what could have been some seriously dated and laughable shlock. The musicians are funky and at times, downright woodstock-y. The "Jodie Lyons singers" are often supplied with doo-doos and bup-bahs, right out of late '60s trying-to-be-relevant movie soundtracks, but it works! Veo Gray is the amusing oddity in all of this; sounding like he was transported from the Lawrence Welk show and dropped into an Association recording session; completely oblivious of his surroundings. He's a capable singer and trumpet player, though, and gives the album that 'classic' Christmas lp feel. He relaxes a little in "Rest Your Head" and fits right in. Major find - another value at a quarter!

Alas for me - the Christmas Organ & Chimes vinyl turned out to be completely cracked, and is now in a landfill. I kept the cover though - I like the gold ink and crazy font for 'Christmas' and of course, the dated artwork. "The Magic Fingers of Merlin" haha
Yep - unabashed self plugging. Well... maybe a little abashed. Chain D.L.K. says "The four traditional tracks have been filtered through Kenny's techno ambient touch and sound great. A bit of mystery have been added to the joyful themes and now it seems to listen to Kraftwerk play X-mas tunes going door to door looking for robot hearts to warm." The 5th track is an original called "Incarnate".You can get this electronic Christmas music at Itunes or at Amazon.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Farewell Zen Stone - hello...Radio Shack Walkman?

The zen stone is kaput. I'd say it served me well, but I've never had an mp3 player serve me that well or last very long. The inability to see what was playing, make a selection other than 'next', and a shuffle function that played the same songs every time you turned the thing on seriously challenged my adaptability. It did, however, outlast 2 Samsung clips, the sound was decent and it never harassed me to join a music service. Winning?

Yesterday I realized it was quite possible I wasn't getting any exercise because I didn't have tunes to take with me. I have cd players but they are too big with no corners and fall off the treadmill.

It may not show on the outside, but one of the things that can send me into a wild panic on the inside is a power outage, or worse, a blackout. It's not about the darkness, or the sweltering heat. It's about unbearable boredom, an unoccupied mind and ultimately - no music. I think about these things. If we have a major power outage like we did in 2003 - lots of people, most people are going to be without tunes; since their audio players need charging. Shortly after that blackout I purchased a turntable that can run on batteries, giving my soul a certain peace it lacked previously.

A week or two ago a storm passed through that knocked the power out for an hour and a half - the longest I've had to endure since I moved to FL. This happened at night, hours before I normally crash. I resorted at first to my laptop, but then thought it best to save that in case the outage was long.

For decades now, the trusty Radio Shack am/fm tape player pictured above has been my solace in 'times of darkness'. So I ran to my rolltop desk and opened the drawer where it always is,
plugged in the blue mini-speakers I bought at Walmart last year and began desperately tuning the dial. The batteries were still good! I found some Fox sports show and listened intently to their moronic banter and the overproduced incidental themes and effects. Voices! People! Thank God! I was saved.

So tonight, I popped in the nearest attractive cassette I could find (I still have tons) and awkwardly re-introduced myself to the treadmill. I don't "need" tunes for the treadmill, and often don't play them when I'm on. But the thought of not having tunes at my disposal...banish it! I was definitely born in the right century. - SO

Friday, September 16, 2011

New Music and What's In My Zen Stone...

New Single! - "Meditation in C"  is due out on October 18th. It's no doubt the jazziest Seven Octaves track to date, and features
the brilliant sax work of Italian jazz-man and longtime friend Emanuele Coluccia. Also in the mix are singing from an orchard oriole recorded on Long Island and Atlantic Ocean waves from here in Florida.

A new Christmas single is in the works! Should be 2 songs; if things slow down a bit maybe even an ep. My attraction is to the lesser known, more gothic sounding carols - and I'm leaning more towards the funk lately, so it should be an interesting mix!

What's in my zen stone...

Freddy Hubbard - Polar AC ~ basically a close-out-the-contract kind of album, made up mostly of alternate takes from Sky Dive and First Light, and one unused session featuring jazzy versions of 2 Stylistics hits (Betcha By Golly Wow & People Make the World Go Round). But we are talking about Freddie Hubbard in the CTI days, so alt. takes or no, these are still smokin' and highly enjoyable. And my zen stone has no screen so I don't have to see that artwork while I listen! "Son of Sky Dive" is perhaps the most interesting since it is slower, grittier and harder than the original, as well as about 5 minutes longer.

Bach Magnificat - Kammerorchester Lausanne ~ First of all, how cool are the covers on these "Collection Bonsai" cds from Erato? Art for art's sake - nothing to do with anything, but pretty and very pleasing. I'm a fan of both works but only the Bach is in the stone currently. My first exposure to the Magnificat was at age 11 - it blew my mind; I was immediately enamored with it. Sometimes when I hear the opening movement I get the same feeling I used to get back then - an unearthly thrill and transporting. Anyway, if you've never checked it out, it might change your mind about choral music, and even the composer. Bach at his most charmingly melodic. You might be hard-pressed to find the bonsai cover, but this particular recording is still available on budget labels, and it's a good one. - KM

Thursday, July 21, 2011

What's In My Zen Stone - July

Still in jazzer mode - I'm finding it harder to focus on both at the same time. But what little electronic is in the player is pretty hot. And most of it free. (big fan of sentence fragments, lately). Take for instance:

Aaron Goldbody vs. Luke the Wizard - "Z Veseljem Exported CD"  circa 2001 From a Netlabel called Khavi Collective who specialize in ambient and chill, but Aaron aka Luke aka Luka Princic from Slovenia (or Afghanistan, depending on which social network you ask) is more of a breakbeats kinda guy. Khavi lists this ep as minimal techno - I guess that's correct. Anyway it's lots of swirly arpeggios & neat sounds, funky pulsing bass and clever, danceable drum programming; with just enough ideas and development to keep you engaged. The 2 songs are barely distinguishable from each other, but make a good short mix. This puppy's been circulating around the internet forever, I picked it up kind of late in 2005 along with

Luke The Wizard Vs. Tha Flow - Freestyle Clinical Reflection- circa 2001 also from Khavi. Pleasant vibe set up by a slowly-pulsing spacey synth winds up being metric modulation against some sweet little bleep, which in turn explodes into hot and very funky breaks with a very serious and memorable bass line. Haunting high choir chords close it out. This track is killer and over too soon. Again - these have been free on the net forever, so you might already know this.

As for Luke the Wizard aka DJ Nova he's also very easy to find online. It seems real important to him to stress the fact he's a 'deviator' so I didn't dig real deep. None of the visuals were offensive. If you really dig "Freestyle Clinical Reflection" there is a lengthy downloadable remix over on his Soundcloud page.

The Higher Intelligence Agency - Spectral - chill, ambient techno circa 1992 Famous project of ambient dub pioneer Bobby Bird from Birmingham, UK. Just what the label says, just add the words good & entertaining in front of it. Also a 2005 acquisition when it was free. Alas - now it ain't (here's the album on amazon) but you can listen and watch the trippy colors made by the misinformed Russian who posted it on youtube below. Enjoy - SO

Friday, July 8, 2011

a new (zoo) review and stuff page updated

This is where I've been hangin' lately.

Here's a new review of "Encouragements" - as I tweeted, I really didn't see the Keith Emerson comparison coming. Now that I think of it, though, that sound on "Forgiven" kinda does scream ELP. What are you gonna do? lol The Cher comment is spot on.

I'm on a brief hiatus from things electronic, outwardly. Inwardly I'm concentrating on how to get the best sound I possibly can, how I can improve some ideas and how to avoid clutter. 2 tracks were very close to finished before my little break, so I'm sure I'll have some new music for you in the fall.

Thanks for stopping by! - SO

Saturday, June 11, 2011

What's Not In My Zen Stone - June

Since I've got a jazz cd out right now - my dreams are not electric at the moment. Add to that a one-man promotion frenzy, almost no time on the treadmill, and lately I've actually been dragging cd's out to the car - so my Zen Stone is gathering moss. Instead I'll post a list of the music I've acquired very recently, what's been featured on my desktop lately and what I've played on a whim.

Thomas Dolby - "Blinded By Science" ep  - oh darn, it's the image I stole from Discogs rather than my own copy. (I wanted you to see how it resembled Kujo's chew-toy. I got it for $0.25 at a local thrift store. It plays ok, though.)

I appreciate the guys who did everything the hard way with bombast, before everyone on the planet got a DAW. The overall nostalgia, subject matter (radio) and zeal in groundbreaking action make this very appealing. Dolby is quite the tune-smith. "Airwaves" was the real revelation, and "One of Our Submarines" is good musical storytelling. I need to break down and get a copy of "Golden Age of Wireless" to hear the original versions. I'm guessing "Wind Power" will annoy me much less. I just now joined the Flat Earth Society and got the free mp3 "Love Is A Loaded Gun" - not my cup of chowder but it's entertaining, and I appreciate the gesture.

Nöel - "Is There More to Life Than Dancing" - Not really. At least not in 1979. Truthfully, I only listen to side 2, which has a marvelous, film noir vibe. "The Night They Invented Love" - well... lyrically they are all quite silly, but nice tenor sax with tasty echo on it! Great production from Sparks; and this Nöel chick! - she's a mystery and proof that fame is fickle - she's purty with a capable & sultry voice, confident delivery and convincing persona. The album is disco heaven if you like that sort of thing; perhaps crossing the line into let's-secure-a-big-gay-following with the anthem "I Want A Man" (the song's only lyric - repeated with gusto ad nauseum).

I picked this up in the late 80's for the picture disc and the brothers Mael, at a used book & record store in Sayville, NY called Words & Music (get it?), now closed. It was a favorite place to get music, in spite of their penchant for ripping me off. My original copy of Nöel's sole effort cost $12+. Which pales in comparison with the 30 something dollars I paid a few years later for a vinyl copy of

Cal Tjader - "Soul Sauce" - On the price tag it read "Rare 60's Salsa" and I was... the quintessential sucker. Far from rare, it sold over 100,000 copies. I was hoping for blazing trumpets and slamming timbales, and was quite disappointed when I got home and plopped the comparatively reserved disc on the old Bang & Olufsen (especially after finding out Tjader was not at all some exotic Latin-American name). I didn't listen again for 20 years.

But oh how time changes one's tastes. Tjader is now one of my all-time favs, his albums (particularly "Soul Burst" and the Asian-themed twofer) had a major impact on my own jazz aesthetics around 2005. He's dominated my earspace this month - pretty much everything I own has been spun including the new acquisition

Cal Tjader - "Huracán" - At first "Huracán" seemed like way too much Clare Fischer, but many listens have convinced me otherwise. Cal sounds great with the big horn section and in such a modern context. It's almost like Tjader meets Sam Rivers. It's out on the Laserlight label, which means you can grab it cheap.

Both the Nöel and the pricey Tjader platter succumbed to mildew damage years ago. I recently scored a new copy of "Is There More..." on Ebay and picked "Soul Sauce" up on cd (with bonus tracks).

So yeah, the newest thing I listened to this month is from 1982. Yikes?- SO

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

KRAKLI Synths - go grab one!

Today is Ian Webster's birthday - designer of Krakli Synths. If you think guys who make high-end vsts available for free are very cool, today (or anytime) would be a good day to go make a donation of your discretion at the top of his page, and receive your copy of RMP2, his one synth that isn't free. It is a very useful and fun synth to have: filled with voice and pad combos with luscious ambient reverb. The sounds lend themselves to songwriting, tinker with a patch for a few minutes and I guarantee you'll be in record mode in no time. As you can see, his GUIs are always a blast, as well.

I used RMP2 for the space-trumpet/pad sound in the break of "Lone", the lead ambient harp in the bridges of "Give It Unto You" and plenty of other choice moments throughout the last 2 releases. Comes with 2 banks stuffed with generous amounts of patches, and it's very easy to tweak.

Finally - you actually get 2 synths since it is bundled with a fine organ vst - S30.

Go get it - and enjoy the creative process that much more! - SO

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Choenyi - Translucent Pink EP

2010 4 track ep from Rodoid. Ah - interesting music from a net label. "Tap" is the most enjoyable cut; it takes a catchy 5-note motif on a very pleasing synth, and shifts it around in time, along with many of the other elements; a la Reich's phasing compositions - and the result is just dandy; all over a basic 4 on the floor.  In "Meeting Abrupt Adjourn" various agitating elements hustle you along on a much more frantic dreamscape - the 'meeting' could be of corporate AI beings very pressed for time and patience. A breakdown reveals the simple beat it's all humming and scratching over. "Under Unusual Umbrellas" eventually gives a disco beat but not before unleashing it's delay-unit-as-monster reason for being. No clue what kind of umbrellas are implied but one does not feel 'safe' or 'covered' at all. It's a fascinating piece. "Solstice 72" has the most accessible dance beat of the lot, clever live manipulations that are big and fat, and some funky faint percussive stuff going on in the subterranean levels. The ep will make for some fine moments in shuffle mode, and "Tap" is nigh an important work. And it's free - go get it! - SO

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

What's In My Zen Stone - May

DJ Cam - Abstract Manifesto - after digging on Loa Project for over 10 years, it's taken me some time to adjust to other Cam albums. Other than for the repeated curses in his titles and some of his samples, hip-hop posturing I find trite and unnecessary, DJ Cam is the best at blending jazz samples with trip hop. He has an uncanny knack for unusual, sometimes out of tune sounds that just make the track. There are some very nice melodies, beats and spaces. Someone takes a synth solo who shouldn't be allowed near one - but other than that... a fine add to the library.

Don Limpio - What Does Your Tongue Like the Most? - I'm a big fan. Sounds like music made by the funkiest bunch of ants and insects you've ever heard. They're also quite caffeinated. I think Don Limpio spent a lot of his childhood playing his lps on 78rpm. Fantastic array of unique sounds, beats and samples. There is often a very cartoon-y vibe. Skills. Go-to tracks include "Sauteed Happy Family", "Funny Love" and "A Novelty Box for Boys and Girls".
Various Artists - Trance Odyssey - I've only listened to this through once but it was a heck of a trippy listen. The few tunes that have popped up on shuffle have revealed cuts with meticulous attention to the pleasure of your ears. Always interesting - the way it oughtta be. Artists include Om, N.U.K.E., Surface and We Are One.

Steve Reich - Music for 18 Musicians - a masterpiece. Music for our point in time.

When Power Stars Collide - Attraction to Light - innovative, catchy and organically developing tracks like "Sombre", "MOOOOO)))" and "Puddle Step Rain Dance" make it hard for me to take this one out of the player.

Tiruset - Minimal Machine Music - I don't know this music yet. But I do know Tiruset - he's quite the slicer and dicer of beats and moods; space-breaks mostly...very fulfilling stuff. He's better than most, and deserves more than 25 fans on Facebook. Go have a listen.

loose tracks:
Aaron Goldbody vs Luke the Wizard  - White Sparkling Lady
Aaron Goldbody vs Luke the Wizard -  Lazy Crates
Luke the Wizard vs tha Flow - Freestyle Clinical Reflection
The Higher Intelligence Agency - Spectral
Don Limpio - Daft and Dizzy
Don Limpio - Pet Pigeon Surprise
Don Limio - Patpong Pingpong
Poetree - Bounce

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Both full length cds for $12

Just a gentle reminder that the sale ends this Saturday (April 30th).

Get both full length cds - 24 tracks, 1 hour 40 minutes of intriguing electronic music, all the sweet artwork and liner notes, the bliss of wav format audio, and the satisfaction of contributing to the artistic endeavors of an hard-working indie musician (yours truly). 

This offer is only available on the front page of the site. :)

(if you've obtained illegal copies and would still like to contribute - there's a "donate" button on the stuff page)

Happy Spring! - SO

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Some dude that played the violin...

The very first music on digital media I ever owned was Joseph Silverstein & Seiji Ozawa's sizzling version of "The Four Seasons" with the Boston Symphony. It was the beginning of unabashed zania for Vivaldi in my heart and life. His folder in my pc is 3.25 GB large and sports 200 different concerto performances. He is distinct and unique in both his era and in music in general. No one writes, sounds or feels like Vivaldi. And for me, no other piece of music changes my mood from sad to happy, tense to relaxed, defeated to optimistic like the 12 movements that make up "The Four Seasons". They really are, God's gift to the earth.

I listen to classical way more than I do electronic, and study the lives of these composers. I enjoy knowing the ins and outs of a famous composition's beginnings, and it's initial reception (i.e. the perennial and delicious Nutcracker was a failure at it's opening, Tchaikovsky himself thought it to be crap). But most intriguing to me is the quality of life many of them didn't enjoy, and how a number of the biggest names today in classical music died in relative obscurity and in Vivaldi's case, dirt poor and forgotten.

The asthmatic Vivaldi died in 1741, his concertos forgotten by a fickle European audience; his one patron Charles VI expired right after Vivaldi moved to Vienna; risking everything to be near him. Buried in a hospital graveyard, his music vanished with him. His now most famous work wasn't even performed for the next 180 years! And although he enjoyed fame throughout Europe in his youth, it was but a mere twinkling compared to his star power now.

It makes me think - who in our lifetime will suffer a similar fate? Which forgotten artist from the 1980's or 1990's will die, only to resurface in massive proportions in the year 2150? Will electronica from the 2000's be considered the "golden age of music" by post-apocalyptic survivors? Which completely unknown singer on the most underground netlabel will suddenly grab Americans by their collective, futuristic heart eons from now? It sounds ridiculous, but it's something of a trend in pop culture. Ignored singer/songwriters get their 'lifetime achievement' grammys right after they die, or as they're dying. A well-placed 1950's ballad in a current popular movie brings in royalties that the deceased crooner or composer certainly could've used back when.

It works in reverse as well: stars who literally ruled the airwaves and record store shelves for decades - we don't even know their names, now. For instance, ever heard of the singer Billy Murray? Lady Gaga would envy his pervasiveness in music for the 1900s and 1910s. Will he resurface?

For artists - posthumous adoration is both alarming and appealing, depending on how it's divided. If it means constant struggle for recognition and financial welfare, like for Mozart, Schubert, Bach, and eventually Vivaldi - it's upsetting. Nonetheless - the thought of leaving something behind that will eventually be treasured is fulfilling and enticing; something that seems to be lost on GaGa and the last few generations of top 10-ers, who don't seem the least bit concerned about the staying power of their work, only themselves.

Novelty, trendy, viral or even political - none are adjectives for works that last for centuries and bring the entire planet to it's music-loving knees; but rather -  heartfelt, nit-picked, labored-over, earnest and of course - timeless. Try auto-tuning that. - SO

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Albums in my ZEN Stone April

That's right. I have a Creative ZEN Stone. I've been through 2 Samsung Clips in 3 years, and refuse to bite the Apple; so I currently have 2 GB, no display and no select. But it survives drops, is comfy and discreet in my pocket and is easy-peasy to fill up. Here are my sound choices for this month. I spend more time listening to music on my pc and lately even my stereo (usually classical and some jazz); so this is travel, treadmill and walk through the hood music.

1. Tomita - Planets
2. Tomita - Snowflakes are Dancing
3. Vangelis - Spiral
4. Vangelis - China
5. Cycom - Isotope
6. When Power Stars Collide - Attraction to Light
7. The Orb - Back to Mine
8. Steve Reich - Music for 18 Musicians

"18 Musicians" and "Snowflakes" have been in there for at least a year, the latter I've been skipping except for "Footprints in the Snow" and "Engulfed Cathedral". I'll also sheepishly tell you that all 4 SO cds are currently in there as well. Partially for comparison, partially because I'm probably my biggest fan. I'm a punk, and a musical snob. (In my defense, I almost never listen to my jazz releases.) I am always on the lookout for electronic music that does it for me, any recommendations? - SO

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

April Two-fer Sale!!

Get both full-length Seven Octaves cds (including the newest release "Encouragements" ) for only $12 with free shipping (outside North America add $4). 24 of my finest tracks plus all the cool artwork shipped the next business day. In addition - you'll also get a free download of the upcoming single "I Know It's Coming" when it is released early this summer. So it's a treat that'll satisfy now and perk you up later! Click the album covers above to take advantage of this deal.

In other happy news - "The Real Me" got this sweet review (in French), and the album "Encouragements" also got props from Chain D.L.K. Last week the cd re-entered on the rpm top 10 charts at both CFBX and CKXU. (Thank you! ♥). Now it's time for some US charting!

Work continues on finishing up 2 new tracks including the single mentioned above; as well as a new project - "I'm Cold. Me Too." an e.p. with music inspired by the chilliest inhabited cities in the arctic. Brrrrrr! 1st track is drum and bass titled "Barrow".

Thanks for stopping by. Peace & Love - SO

Monday, March 21, 2011

review of Encouragements, free song, new music & projects

Flagler Beach, FL 2-14-11

Maurizio Pustianaz at Chain D.L.K. gave "Encouragements" a generous three and a half stars in his review of the album. The general consensus is that the cd is all over the place and, perhaps, incongruous. I did struggle with the assembly of the track lineup. I've always been something of a miniaturist, more comfortable with small, and often get more said with less time. I'm thinking about keeping to the e.p. format for the next few releases, and budget woes be darned. :) Nonetheless - although I'm not quite used to it myself yet (I've only just started to like 2009's "Nativity Set"), I'm excited about this release, the music, and I love that people are digging it.

Speaking of small formats - I'm pretty sure the next one is going to be an all-over-the-place 2 song single! I'm very excited how the tracks are coming out and also about some sweet surprises in the production. The tunes are "I Know It's Coming" and "Meditation in C".

"Out of the Bluez" is a radio and critic favorite, so I've decided to make it the free track.I'll probably make "Forgiven" free over at Soundcloud as well.

Finally - if you're into jazz, here's a video of my trio playing in Jacksonville recently. It's the title track to the "There You Are" cd. Unless I realize the dream of putting a Seven Octaves live band together, the trio is the only way to catch me out of my den. :)

Thank you always for stopping by and for your love & support. Peace! - SO

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

IDMf does it again...

I've been a downloading fool, lately. All legal - net labels mostly. The huge net of fishes I've dragged in has been spotty at best. Contagious beats a-plenty, yes; but inventiveness, originality, intrigue and daring are harder to come by.

I spend exactly no time at the IDM forums, but as a member I still get the emails announcing their new releases. Out of all the net labels, the unassuming IDMf label keeps putting out such high quality stuff - other labels would do well to take notice. A lot of it is not for me, the very heavy, the very dark; but now and then...

"Attraction to Light" lives up to it's name as well as the exquisite cover artwork (Fiona Boylen). When Power Stars Collide never tests your patience with his command over all things glitch, there's almost always something beautiful going on. The tracks often have the fanciful flight of that neon moth on the cover; following some stream of melodic thought, but in a free, elusive manner. The music is written for his much younger brother - from the sounds emitting forth, he loves him very much. Couple this tenderness with funky, glitchy beats, daydreamy idyll-esque moods, and the most fabulous array of sound choices, harmonies and sound samples, and you've got an album that will keep you tuned in for all it's shimmering 35 minutes; and reaching again for the play button. Well done. Go grab it - it's free! - SO

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Hymns Electronica

Rare to find electronic music with melodies that have more than 3 notes and aren't repeated to kingdom come, with arrangements that aren't exclusively percussion centered and heavily dependent on pads that do everything for you. True - the melodies were already written for Allosonic - but his reharmonizations, interludes, musicality are mixed in with his own themes and riffs. The sounds are not cutting edge, often they are rather retro, but after spending an hour or two sorting through the many mundane tracks from Soundcloud's christian/electronic groups - these cuts stand out as fresh. The artist self-describes them as loosely melodic trance.

One of my all time favorite electronic albums is Prisms by Jeffrey Lams and John Andrew Schreiner, from Maranatha's Colours series in the mid 80's. I haven't found anything like it since. "Hymns Electronica" is reminiscent of it - with catchy riffs and popping beats setting up the hymn statements. Particularly nice on a few of the tracks is when Allosonic only uses one motif from the hymn - as in "Doxology Three", or extracts a motif from the hymn to form it's own poignant theme, as in "All Hail". "Doxology Three (All Creatures)" is irresistible and uplifting, definitely in my top ten for the year. "Doxology One" also has a very nice synth break and brief solo - beautiful, moody track.

This music is free, btw. Just go to the Hymns Electronica page at Soundcloud. Here is his Facebook page.
- SO

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

New Single - "Forgiven"


The 2nd single from "Encouragements" is some happy-house celebration music. I think it's one of my catchier numbers. It's a free download for the rest of February!

Many thanks to CJSW for the rpm #7 position and overall friendliness, and to CFRU for the rpm #1. Thanks also to WMHC, WFDU, WOZQ, KSCU, WKDU, WRUW, KZSC, WVUM and KSYM for big support. :)

Peace and Love - SO

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

It's out!

Today is the day "Encouragements" comes out on iTunes and Amazon. Hard copies are also now available at CDBaby. The early support has been awesome from stations all over North America - thank you! Also very excited that Undercurrents has added the cd to their library and been giving it spins. Once again I am like one who dreams. Let's see what God does with this one! Thankful for all the brothers and sisters who rejoice when I rejoice.

Thankful most of all to Jesus, who paid it all; and enables me to believe big. I bless You and "Give It Unto You".

Here we go! Thanks for stopping by - SO

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

late discoveries...

It's nothing new for me to be late to the party. Lately I've been terminally late. It seems about a third of the net label sites I visit have recent posts announcing their calling it a day. MoMT is not a net label but an indie one who've said goodbye last month.

I recently unearthed a cd filled with IDM I found for free (legally) on the net a number of years back. Net labels, indie label promos... nobody was that careful about mp3 tags in the early 2000's - and it can take some doing to find out the artist, album etc. Not so for the track "Pomme Rips" I examined this morning, although the "ep" mentioned in the title has proven tricky to hunt down.

10 seconds into Skink's "Pomme Rips" and your first thought will probably be - "Now here's an artist". 60 seconds in and you realize he's also a master programmer. The chords are dreamy and jazzy, the beats are now funky, now broken & fascinating, the sounds are light and transportive. Quite a fulfilling and positive listen. Here's an easy buy link if I've made a good sell. :)

I have noticed that a number of these indie electronic artists have no mind for self promotion a la myspace or facebook, so finding out anything about them can also be tricky. MoMT does not have an artist description page. Fortunately Skink (aka Paul Mulholland) has a page where you can listen and show appreciation. If ambient minimal is your thing or one of your things - I encourage you to go have a listen; and maybe make a heartening purchase over at the MoMT store, which remains open (type Skink in the search box). Bon appetit! - SO

ps - also checking out a free Skink album from an archive link at MoMT - "Playing Around" is recommended.

Friday, January 28, 2011

lost in the shuffle

This is a time period of life when I can lose my mind - the anticipatory weeks in between the hectic rush of promoting a new cd and the actual "add date" and release date, which are both the same this time around. I don't do much touring, so it can be alarmingly uneventful. I'm thankful for the radio stations who don't adhere to the add date for whatever reason. Especially nice was a debut at #1 last week at CFRU in Ontario (electronic chart). That's a sweet little break in the dead calm, and a first!

One way of occupying myself is, of course, to work on new tracks. I've started a few, and am particularly happy with one called "I Know It's Coming". Online bonus track or new album/ep, not sure yet - but something's in the works.

Another way is to get with some new sounds. I've been venturing into the vast, very vast plains of net labels...and have done my share of downloading. This morning I took it all and plopped it in the 'my music' folder and tried to make sense of the cryptic folder names. The outcome is I need to make a new folder called 'meh'. But there are glimmers of light: some fresh water, a stand of pines, the occasional patch of wildflowers.

The above pictured ep "Mathematics" by CYCOM from the Plain Audio label is one of them. Hot breaks and d'n'b. The title track is the best and the funkiest. "Blow Up" is marred by what appear to be intentional flatulent sounds, Maybe in a club this sounds good but on pc speakers and combined with the title - it's bad news. The track is not without redeeming factors, but the fx are distracting. "The Dream" is darker, all out d'n'b that's a fine listen with fascinating samples and sequences. I'd go grab this free ep - you'll swear later you paid $4.99 for it. - SO

Sunday, January 23, 2011

New CD Sampler!


8 of the 12 tracks in the mix.
CD is available for purchase here.

Downloads will be available 2/15/11
at Itunes, Amazon, Rhapsody and
all the rest!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Recent listens & "Encouragements" for sale

The new cd is not "out" yet but you can get a copy by clicking on the store link or by visiting the album page. Also on the page are album details and song lyrics to the 2 that have them. Response to the lead-off single has been very positive. Shipments of "Encouragements" to radio stations and review mags began on New Year's Eve. Here we go!!

I was happy to see a bunch more stations pick up "Nativity Set" for the holidays, including one in Honolulu. I wouldn't mind spending Christmas there sometime. Thanks to all the mds and djs for treating me so nice and making the holiday bright.
At this very moment I'm listening to John Scofield's A Go Go - which, it's just been confirmed, is still my favorite jazz album. Just too funky and direct. One of these days I'll get brave and listen to the later one they did - I wasn't wowed by what I heard on the radio. Til then - this one's bliss.

Over the holidays I picked up Tomita's Planets. All I can say is Oh me garshk. "Snowflakes are Dancing" has been on my mp3 player for about a year, but I had no idea this one would be such a mind blower.

I've also been checking out music from some electronic net-labels lately. Some of the real good ones seem to be calling it a day - and I'm not sure how I feel about music being free, when so many downloaders get it that way illegally. A person's song should cost you something to have forever and take with you everywhere, a dollar seems like a bargain. On the other hand I can't say I'm not happy when music offered for free is also very good.

One such album I've enjoyed a lot is "Acid Blue", one of the final offerings from the Net-Lab label. It is what it says, lots of acid, by various artists. It's all pretty solid - my favorites being by the artist Shinra, and Idiron Soundtrack.

Thanks for stopping by and happy new year! - SO

New Tracks!

Hello and thank you for stopping by! Below is just a small taste of the new material being recorded and posted at the Patreon site. A new a...