izzi on an island

izzi on an island

I’m going to welcome myself back after a couple month hiatus. *Welcome back, me!*

Sorry about that. It won’t happen again, I promise. Now on to the point of what I’m doing here.

So I’ve been searching for some good things to review and have come up short on a lot of fronts and that may or may not have been why this has taken so long. Okay, it’s got some accountability but the rest is pure laziness. But today, I’ve found something for current and future. I’ll be looking at Izzard’s ~Soda Island Songs~ which will be a precursor to a review of A Trip to Soda Island by Soda Island aka Izzard. Sorry if that was hard to follow along with. You’ll get it sooner or later.

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~Soda Island Songs~ isn’t new. In fact, it’s about a year old. Which is okay. I’m a huge fan and almost stickler for new music. I feel like I can’t listen to old music because I’m constantly missing out on new creation/expression. But even though ~Soda Island Songs~ is a year old, it’s new to me. That’s how I’ll justify it.

First off I’ll just say that this EP is extremely ethereal. It flows, it curves, it waves, it bends. Sometimes there isn’t that backbone to hold everything together which can give you this disorienting bend that makes you feel like the train isn’t falling off the track but going upside down. The first track is Empty Skies. Damn. I feel like I’m walking through clouds in zero gravity with this track. It’s spacious and a little dreamy. Just enough to bring you back down to get ready for Ghost Naps.

Now when I heard the first chord of Ghost Naps I immediately thought of FEZ and can still get that vibe throughout. And trust me, that’s not a bad vibe. It’s probably my favorite video game soundtrack ever made (excluding Legend of Zelda because c’mon). Ghost Naps is organic and still has a little bit of that dreaminess you hear in Empty Skies. It has a flow that’s a mix of a synth orchestra, dissonant chords, and a soft lead bouncing along the spine of the track. You can’t help but get lost in the strings until you hear a quiet break of only percussion and that soft lead. Introducing some vocal samples completes a good mix of spacious melodies and tip-toe synths until the last chord with the modulation turned all the way down. Dreamy.

I think dreamy is a good word for this EP. Each song has that dreamy effect and it may just be the reverb heavy piano/strings accompanied by the various noises like crickets, and percussion that sounds like rhythmic drops of silverware.

The third track Threads has a bit of a change in pace. It introduces Blankts to rule the vocal track. It’s a match made in heaven. The dreamy synth and soft percussion bounces along with the help of Blankts vocals to guide the track. Just listen and follow along.

The last track is probably my favorite if I had to pick favorites. Port Town is layered incredibly well and has a great progression throughout. You fall and get picked back up again several times. It’s a great feeling. It’s like watching a movie over and over again at different times of your life. Garden State means something different to me now than it did back in 2010. And that’s how Port Town feels. You get this feeling of sincerity and comfort and it evolves. While the synth lines may be the same, the mods/effects/tone sounds different throughout. I get a familiarity with it after listening one time. It’s like I’ve known the song for a long time and I just keep coming back. It evolves like life. Early we’re rough, jagged, not quite round at the edges, to bright and loud, to that same brightness just toned down a bit and maybe a bit more organic. Then we grow, we change, we evolve into confident, friendly, open, enduring. When you hear a tiny vocal sample back up this organic sound at the end fueled with a ride symbol and maybe even a snare drum, you feel like you’re done. You’ve made it. It’s complete.

Check out all of Izzard’s stuff here and I will be working on reviewing A Trip to Soda Island which is a full length LP done by Soda Island in my next one. Catch you then!

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Climbing mt. marcy

Climbing mt. marcy

“You were not there for the beginning. You will not be there for the end. Your knowledge of what is going on can only be superficial and relative” – Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs.

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mt. marcy’s naked lunch ep is a wavy, fragmented and somewhat sporadic lo-fi mix of tracks. It lacks coherency and that’s on purpose. If you’ve ever read Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs, you know the novel was written so that you can read it in any order because of the structure of loosely connected vignettes. Makes sense now, right?

I got to sit down (I’m sure we were both sitting down while on the phone with each other) with mt. marcy’s Jack Follansbee based in the great rust-belt city of Pittsburgh. I got to pick his brain about the current lo-fi scene, his influences and some things he’s been working on.

Follansbee defines his style as lo-fi. Lo-fi basically covers all the bases. You’ve got elements of trip-hop, jazz, hip-hop, ambient, and way more so labeling it lo-fi simplifies things a little more. Although I always hate to simplify an artist to a single genre, it makes it easier to find something similar when I google “dope lo-fi tracks”. Thanks for that.

Follansbee started playing music at the age of 6 with piano lesson. He told me”[he] hated it.” Lol, look at you now. Anyway, after the dust settled on the piano keys he picked up guitar.This was around age 10 and soon thereafter started playing in bands. He’d been in a band up until about a year or two ago and after they split, he bought a cheap sampler and started experimenting. The drive for electronic music came from the almighty Aphex Twin. So, Follansbee wanted to make some crazy complex IDM. It didn’t stick (obviously) because he couldn’t find himself in it emotionally, Follansbee said that with the IDM “[he] couldn’t get any feeling into electronic music.” That led to more lo-fi/ambient music you can listen to in his first EP 愛 My Body はて Tape. I’m glad it didn’t stick because all of his releases have mad V I B E S that make me play them over and over.

Review:

So naked lunch is quick. Altogether it runs 15 minutes with some tracks as short as 41 seconds. Which I didn’t think I would like but the more I listen to it, I don’t feel committed and I feel a progression and flow from any point in the EP. You would think that with a 15 minute long EP, the whole thing would have some storyline or some ebb and flow. It doesn’t. It’s choppy, tracks are singled out, there are abrupt stops and it just ends too soon. I don’t say these things negatively. It was done on purpose and honestly it’s a nice way to break up tracks into fleeting moments rather than tell long stories. Throughout this EP you have tracks that are merely some keys and rain and some that expand to have catchy melodies overtop of crunchy hi-hats and snare sounds made up of “dropping marbles on shit”. Although the backbone of a few tracks is some form of jazz-driven piano sample, it arcs well (even during 40 second tracks like “dilla-redux”). The great part about this EP is how well done the overall sound is. That is the one cohesive part. When you go from a soft/ambient track like “lullaby” into a more driven, energetic track like “figs” while maintaining balance, it really is a great thing to hear. That’s why any part of the EP is a good place to start or end.

When I asked Follansbee about the community on SoundCloud and specifically based around his sound, he lit up over the phone (probably). He showed me some new stuff including SULU (which are the “best beats on SoundCloud”), brother mynor, øxela, and one of my personal favorites (thank you, Jack for showing me) .downtune. Check all of them out because they are dope.

As far as new projects/collabs/sounds you’ll see from mt. marcy goes, I’ll just put that he’s busy. Melanie Rose is doing a remix of “last night i cried in the shower“, he’s working on a few tracks with Sophie Meyers (dope), and there’s one top secret project he’ll be announcing later this year. I’m stoked. You should be too.

Be sure to check out mt. marcy on SoundCloud and Bandcamp and support the music you love. He’s also on twitter at @mt_marcy.