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.
Gilead may mean, among other things, “hill of testimony” and that is the meaning The Broken Cradle had in mind when he decided to use it as the name of his latest EP. It is supposed to tell the journey of our respective roads to Gilead in our search for happiness and purpose. The EP is a neoclassical and ambient album that starts with the aptly titled Road to Gilead, a piano-centered track with atmospheric pads that create a mesmerizing soundscape. Listening to the multiple textures in the song feels like scratching an itch and not wanting to stop.
The Broken Cradle is the solo work of Eric McLean, a musician from North Carolina with over 20 years of experience. With influences such as Brian Eno and Olafur Arnalds, it is not surprising that his music could fit so well in an album from any of those renowned artists. He is that good.
Kyrie Eleison is a transliteration of Ancient Greek meaning “Lord, Have Mercy”, which is an important prayer of Christian liturgy (thank you, Wikipedia). This is as far as I can tell you about the meaning of this song without guessing (I think it is about someone who is down on his luck), but the good news is that we don’t need to know more in order to enjoy it. The low-key vocals, electronic soundscape and synths give the tune a soothing effect that I find very appealing. There is comfort in sound and Kyrie Eleison is proof of it.
Julien Zeno Bitter is the man behind Kafka Kaya, a solo act that he started in 2015 after his previous band split up. With origins in the quiet but beautiful countryside of Switzerland but based now in Berlin, Kafka Kaya has a background in electronic music with a predilection for authentic acoustic sounds. As many other independent artist, Julien produces his music himself and is getting ready to release a new EP in April, which will include Kyrie Eleison too. Check him out below.
Parra for Cuva is definitely one of my favorite electronic music artists. Originally from Germany, I discovered him when the song being featured here today, his cover of Chris Isaak‘s popular Wicked Games, was featured on a now-extinct Youtube channel I used to follow. The track was a real hit, even reaching number 6 in UK’s official Top 40 in 2014, but, nevertheless, he remains relatively unknown. I mean, he should be more famous by now after that success and also because he has consistently released great track after great track (he’s already released one this year).
Nicolas Demuth, Parra for Cuva‘s real name, grew up in the same small town in Germany as singer-songwriter Anna Naklab and, naturally, they ended up working together in a number of releases, including Wicked Games. Her stunning voice is one of the reasons this song is so good. Event though it was a cover of a really well-known song, they managed to make it sound fresh. By the way, while we are talking about Parra for Cuva, check his remix of Mazzy Star‘sInto Dust (not available on Spotify). Simply outstanding.
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.
Far Away is a really captivating track. Musically, it is reminiscing of the works of acts like Morcheeba, Massive Attack, and even Mazzy Star; which makes sense because Canada-based singer/songwriter BILYK grew up listening to all of them in Western Ukraine. She has been collaborating with Ukrainian ambient/downtempo project Endless Melancholy, resulting in several stunning songs. One Day You Will Be Free, one of their previous collaborations, got featured in one of the renowned Buddha Bar compilation albums. I honestly think that Far Away is even better.
The combination of Endless Melancholy‘s chill ambient electronic background and BILYK‘s gorgeous and soothing vocals result in a truly spellbinding tune. I should also mention the equally outstanding music video, filmed on the shore of the Baltic Sea on Rugen Island by Roman Hense, which you can find below. Watching the beautiful cinematography with Far Away playing in the background is indeed a fascinating experience.
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.
Just like importmedia, Low Detail is a Venezuelan lo-fi music producer who happens to be friends with fellow countryman Blure. I also discovered his music when I wrote about Blure back in September. He started releasing music since 2020 and according to his songs’ credits on Spotify, his full name is Manuel Espinel. That’s about all the personal information that you will be able to find about him online. He lets his music speak for itself.
The picture above is the cover art from Low Detail’s EP, Sunny Days, one of the many releases he made in 2020. My favorite track from it is Pôrto Alegre, a charming track whose only drawback is that it is too short. That’s not a big deal though, as the problem can be easily solved by playing this great tune on repeat. Alternatively, you could simply continue with the rest of Low Detail’s musical catalogue. Totally worth it.
Seafei is a musician and producer from Ohio who lives in Singapore. Naturally, this mix of Western and Eastern cultures get reflected in his work, resulting in ambient and electronic tracks that don’t sound like your typical chill-out tunes. Mountains, his latest single, is a great example of that. It is low-tempo Western electronic music that manages to transport you to the Himalayas at least for a couple of minutes.
By all means, check Seafei‘s engaging music out. He got the talent, creativity and skills to become a renowned name within the genre.