I stumbled upon Sultan + Shepard (not the Australian band Sheppard) when Youtube decided to play this song, Assassin, automatically after it had finished playing another video and I was too busy to stop it. The tune was so good that it grabbed my attention almost immediately even though I was focused on work. It is a charming electronic offering with a synth line you simply cannot get enough of.
Sultan + Shepard are a Canadian duo with several EPs under their names and even collaborations with artists such as Tiësto. They have just released their first full-length album Something, Everything, which includes today’s featured track. Sultan, born Ossama Al Sarraf, lived in Kuwait, Cyprus and Egypt before moving to Montreal in 1996 to study mechanical engineering, where he met Ned Shepard and almost immediately started producing music together.
If you like good, melodic electronic music, you really cannot miss Assassin. You are going to love it.
Steve Kroeger is an electronic music composer and producer who has had 5 singles on the Billboard Dance charts. He often teams up with singer-songwriter Skye Holland, as was the case in Home, a chill spellbinding tune that feels like summer. Skye, who got Japanese, Dutch and Canadian roots, started her music career at 10 when she joined a Japanese teen pop group. Her sweet voice shimmers all over this track and complements Steve’s smooth production really well.
Home is the perfect track to listen to when you want to lighten your mood. It’s fun and catchy as hell. As far as house/pop songs go, it cannot get any better than this. Enjoy!
Country Club is the moniker used by 23-year-old Liverpool resident Leon Holmes. Influenced by the likes of Gorillaz, The Strokes, Massive Attack and Portishead; his music is eclectic without being way too experimental. His goal is to blend nostalgic and contemporary genres in an ingenious way. Temporary is an example of that.
As is the case with all his songs, Leon performed, produced and mixed Temporary on his own using just a couple of instruments and a laptop. He did a great job at making it seem like he got plenty of help from other musicians. The tune is captivating without being too on-your-nose. You can really sense the impact Gorillaz had over Leon on Temporary but he still gave it his own twist. In fact, you might like this song even if you aren’t a big fan of Damon Albarn’s virtual band. I’m proof of that.
Listen to Free Country’s infectious tune in the mixtapes below. You might love it but even if you don’t, you will find it refreshing and that’s always a plus.
I mentioned this great song recently in another entry and I think it makes sense to feature it as this week’s #ThrowbackThursday song. Frou Frou was a British electronic duo that released only 1 album, Details, back in 2002. They disbanded in 2004 but Wikipedia claims that they reunited in 2017. I don’t know if that is true or not but Imogen Heap, the lead singer, has had a successful career as a solo artist that predates Frou Frou. Her voice is one of those you can recognize right away.
Anyway, Let Go, which was part of the Details album, gained notoriety in 2004 when Zach Braff chose it as the key track on the award-winning soundtrack of his hit indie movie Garden State. The song was also featured prominently in one of its trailers (which you can watch below). The lush electronic strings and Imogen’s distinct vocals are impossible to resist in what ended up being one of the best tracks of that decade.
Kōdəh (pronounced as Kodah) is the Slovenian word for codes. Koda, on the other hand, is a Native American term for friend or companion. It makes sense then that Shakthi Prasad, a Spain-based indie electronic music artist from India, chose ˈKōdəh as his stage name. He’s been active in the music scene since 2008 as the drummer of different progressive rock bands in Bangalore. In 2019, Shakthi decided to pursue a Master of Music in Music Production, Technology, and Innovation at the Berklee College of Music in Valencia, Spain, which started his journey into ambient and experimental electronic music. He is preparing his debut album as a solo artist to be released earlier this year.
His debut single, Swerve, was released already last month. It features Los Angeles-based singer KEANA, who has received training in classical and jazz vocals and met Shakthi at the college mentioned above. The track is a call for humanity to wake up and care more about each other and has been covered by Rolling Stone India. Musically, I’m not sure if it is because of the lush electronic background or Keana‘s vocas but the track reminds me a lot of Let Go from Frou Frou, a song that deserves its own feature as a #ThrowbackThursday post. Anyway, Swerve is a great debut single that flags ˈKōdəh as someone that we should really pay attention to. The best is yet to come.
Michael Caria, from Sardinia, Italy, but living in London, calls himself a designer of melancholic soundscapes. I think that’s description is spot on. His musical project is called Michael It‘z and his music, while deeply experimental, is also very pleasant to the ear. It is electronic music but in a relaxing, ambient-like way. Michael’s objective is to make the listener feel something with his music in the same way a surrealist or abstract painting can do that without knowing what the painter had in mind.
Polytechnic Confusion was released as a single late last year with Cleopatra Records, and it is also included in Michael’s brand new album: Plastika | Music For A Film. The track is a great example of everything I mentioned above and then some. Sure, it is an unusual kind of music but there’s something about it that leaves you thirsty for more. Seriously, give it a try.
I can’t claim to know much about the work of electronic music composer and producer David Grellier, aka College, because, unfortunately, that’s not the case. His goal is to “synthetize into [his] music the emotions of [his] childhood”, reason for which his music is heavily influenced by ’80s pop culture. If you watched the movie Drive (2011), you should have heard his most widely known song, A Real Hero, co-written with Austin Garrick from Canadian synth-pop duo Electric Youth, duo that also features on the track. If you just listen to this song, you’ll quickly notice two things: a) It certainly has an 80s vibe, and b) It is a mesmerizing track.
Despite getting nominated to an MTV Music Award for ‘Best Music’ and becoming an underground hit, A Real Hero is still relatively unknown to the casual music fan. Even then, it has been covered multiple times by established and not so established artists (and I’m planning to feature one of those covers here soon). In fact, a fun anecdote is that a few years ago, while I was on holiday in Malta, one night there was a really good guitar player performing some music at the hotel we were staying. Near the end, he started playing a song that instantly reminded me of A Real Hero. I quickly dismissed that thought because surely that song wasn’t popular enough to be played randomly by a guitar player in a small island on the Mediterranean Sea. Well, it was A Real Hero and it was one of the highlights of that trip. Enjoy this tune as this week’s #ThrowbackThursday entry.
Say what you want about how terrible 2020 has been, but it has also allowed plenty of people to reinvent themselves in a way that probably wouldn’t have happened in a normal year. Take for example the case of Helen Meissner, who like many others, decided during lockdown to start creating music. Unlike them, she did so at 54; hence her moniker MidlifeMix (MidlifeCrisis was taken!). To make her story even more unusual, her genre is electronic music and did I mention that when the whole pandemic started, she didn’t know much about music production? I particularly love Helen’s slogan: “Old enough to know better, young enough not to care”.
MidlifeMix recently released her eponymous debut EP, which consists of six diverse tracks. Continental Drift is the most chilled one but also my favorite. It feels like drifting away while floating in the air or the sea. However, if you’re looking for something more active, make sure to check the whole EP out. You’ll find what you’re looking for.
Remember Toys In The Attic? I really loved that moniker but, unfortunately, due to legal reasons, Alexander Borczynski had to change his stage name. He chose Dreddbeat, which is a cool name too, and released a brand new EP, which he named Toy Box (perhaps as a homage to his old moniker). Style-wise, it’s really close to mainstream pop/hip-hop, and honestly in terms of production quality, you wouldn’t be able to spot the difference with any of the songs currently featured on any top 10 most popular hits. Alexander really knows what he’s doing.
Granted, the EP’s main genres are not really my cup of tea but that does not mean it doesn’t have songs we could all enjoy over here. One example of that is the opener, In The Name of Love, which has an insanely good hook that stays on your mind long after the song has ended. It showcases Dreddbeat‘s skills as an artist and music producer
Overall, I think this is a nice addition to the Electronic Mixtape and a perfect song for a Saturday evening. Hope you enjoy it!
I admit I’m not a big fan of experimental music, but when the result is something this interesting, I’ll listen. The Chronicles of Manimal and Samara, or TCOMAS, are a London-based duo formed in late 2019 by Andrea Papi (Manimal) and Daphne Ang (Samara); and when you have a musical act listing as influences the innovative works of Kraftwerk, Depeche Mode, and Tool, and the poetry of Sylvia Plath, Virginia Woolf and Jim Morrison; you know that the resulting music will be anything but conventional. They want to bring music, literature, art and history together while defying musical genres boundaries, and their fourth and latest single, Mata Hari, is no exception to that. I warn you, this will not suit everyone, but I really dug it.
Mata Hari was an exotic Dutch dancer who was convicted and executed during World War I for being a German spy, but it also means ‘sun‘ in Malay, and that is the meaning it has on this track, which is told through the eyes of an artist who declared his love for somebody through a painting. The song, with its atmospheric soundscapes, mixes poetry and the spoken word with electronic music and rock, aiming to reimagine how 80s music will sound 60 years from now. Trust me, you are extremely unlike to find something else resembling TCOMAS and Mata Hari.
Give a chance to this immensely creative band. Worst-case scenario, you’ll hear something pretty unique; and best-case, you’ll dig it just like me.