Typer Tyme – Episode 10

It’s Monday, Halloween, and I feel slightly obligated to share some music with everyone. In this case, I share Typer Tyme’s newest episode chock full of amazing tracks by Harold-Alexis from his Shadows EP and stuff from BT’s new album. Yes, it’s not enough that I ranted about him last week, I now am finding ways to use his non-DJ-esque music as interesting pieces of music to help set or fill tone in my mixes. And tomorrow you’ll get a release of a Typer Tyme: After Hours episode filled to the brim with my darker-toned tech house, drum & bass, and some more stuff from BT’s new album.

Typer Tyme is a club-music radio show exploring a growing library of music and sharing the hope found in it.

In October, Typer attempts to move forward after his father’s passing. Unfortunately the experiences of his dad’s demise stick with Typer, creating a divided state. And so to express this mixed reality, Typer builds two mixes. The first comes out as a full Typer Tyme episode and the other comes out the next day as an After Hours entry.

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BT’s New Album – “_”

So within a week musician, composer, technologist, producer, and shark lover BT hinted at, announced, released a promotional video for, did two live interviews for, and released a promotional EP for his next album. Due out this December as a box set of art work, 9 “compositions”, 2.5 hours long, accompanied with 4K Drone footage to accompany each composition for your viewing pleasure neatly bundled on a flash drive, this is one of the “biggest” albums BT has released since These Hopeful Machines in terms of sheer depth of content to explore.

And he doesn’t even have a name for it. BT has in the past been rather public with how he intentionally names his works and writes a thesis before creating the work ahead of time. With his new EP and album, BT is giving us practically something the opposite, once again sticking to his credo of giving us something he’s never tried before and something we’ve never heard before. Here we’re introduced to an album that has no name which would suggest BT’s work here is unfinished. But many artists before have released multiple albums under just their name and a picture, leaving fans to adopt unique names based on what they see. With this experience I’m less inclined to calling the album “particles” and more towards calling the EP and the album “Underscore”, relating to the space filler used to name the album since BT had to put something down in the name space across music services. Underscore feels like such a fitting name for an album that’s so insanely grand and filled to burst with unique compositions and explorations (2.5 hours, longer than any studio album he’s released yet) and yet humbly brings to the table something (so far) running the gamut from beatless modular experiments to snappy drum kicks at a fun 4/4. It shows his humble side and the peaceful, positive movements he wishes to create in people but also how very excited he and his faithful fans are to hear something so mind-blowing and new as always.

Did I mention BT thinks about his albums far in advance? It’s something you pick up from many of his interviews but in this case BT is touting the fact that much of this album was created across the past 3 years or so. He hasn’t mentioned if he had a thesis in mind for building this album but the message we’re being sold is one of a more experimental and less predetermined experience. Music certainly doesn’t develop from a storyboard but BT’s promotional EP wonderfully sets the understanding for what’s in store in the full release in terms of how this all came about. The three publicly released compositions (Artifacture, Indivism, Ω [Ohm]) are subdivided into 25 tracks, each track a micromovement of the full composition. And it’s at the start of Artifacture (on part 2: Nostra Luna di Miele) that we get this glimpse of something growing and becoming a part of something larger, akin to what BT is talking about when he discusses how this album works and came about: Compositions developed during specific pieces or parts or moments of the past 3 years of his life, sometimes intimately related or sometimes just experiments he worked on. It’s only fitting then that “Nostra Luna di Miele” translates: “Our honeymoon.” It’s a heart-warming 3 minutes of music with gentle piano or wind sounds textured across crickets, granulated breathing elements, and…strings? Warm wind instruments? I can’t quite place it because like many of BT’s works the creation of his sounds is oftentimes just simple things given a lot of careful work. The opening slow rugged stutter sounds for Artifacture started as recording samples of BT and his wife’s breathers when they were diving on their honeymoon.

You get a sense of the stories or experiences being told here at times. “Daring in a Night City”, for example, is this mixture of light dulcimer like string plucks providing a skylight against a breakbeat ground texture, with short scenes in the mind created by fast momentary glitchy scratchy interruptions in the “process”. At other times these experiences are entirely functional but, for people who just really like sounds and music, will find depth every time they listen. Stuff like “Ohm III. Da meta tempo a Tempo Pieno” (From Part time to Full Time) come to mind as BT establishes a 4/4 pattern with clicky beats before a big flash of static invades the soundscape, and the 4/4 beat has transformed into heavier kicks that quite literally lose their weight as they swirl around your head from left to right all the while…lifting. The kicks get lighter, losing bass, while the music itself literally sounds like it is going above your head, or up your headphones. Sometimes the tracks on the EP are filled with wonderful golden nuggets like this. One fan deciphered that the key and fundamental sound of the bass got deeper across the three compositions. BT confirmed this in a response to the fan, I like the concept of “getting deeper” as we get more into the work too.

The crazy thought is that the full album will not feature such minute detailed looks into each composition. The micromovements will not be listed in the other compositions from what we’re told and that’s almost a shame. If there’s ever a time for fans and people who haven’t yet divulged into BT’s work to understand just how complex and deep his rabbit hole of music goes, the Underscore EP is that opportunity. Translating track names that are written in Latin prompt listeners to look up the name meanings or gain an understanding of what it exactly is they are actually hearing or to simply learn something new. The start of the Indivism composition lead me to Wikipedia trying to understand what a Fast Fourier Transform in mathematical terms is. Other searches were simply to help me understand some musical terms. Useless info? One might think.

But the trick in BT’s music is in full effect with the micromovements because of their naming schemes. This isn’t just about listening to something, it’s about becoming engaged with your music in multiple levels. People will assign or attach meaning to names or tracks that BT will ultimately not fully explain to people for that very same purpose. And so I feel like something might be lost if we’re not allowed the same level of deep digging and personal engagement in the rest of the album. That being said, it’s 2.5 hours long. We’d be searching for answers forever. What’s currently out there is  still great.

There’s also the matter of the compositional endings of Indivism and Ohm. During the development of this album, BT spent a lot of time with modular sound developed from a nice chunk of Euroracks. The music he’s created from them at times serves as a “goodbye” to the two aforementioned compositions and they’re lovely 5+ minutes of music developed in a wonderful form. The fading noise on Ohm is something you don’t realize lingers until you pause the track somewhere in its last 60 seconds or so and suddenly you notice your room is a lot quieter and that wasn’t the hum of your PC in the background you heard. Instead, you were hearing the recorded output hums that remained from the modular synths BT had spent days pouring over to create these sounds lingering on to add a nice little nugget of sound for you to appreciate (you can even hear the sound rev up somewhere in the last 15 seconds before it all goes silent and the machines must have been turned off). These final micromovements are awesome but unlike Artifacture (which is wonderfully divided the whole way through and feels perfectly designed, paced, and finished) they are very different from the actual composition in terms of theme. Maybe the focus of the composition is actually present and I’m just missing it. Indivism could be about two states not being divided (so the final micromovement isn’t split from the rest of the composition) and Ohm most likely being a number of experiments regarding the measurement itself. But in many ways they feel like they take away from the experience one was having just seconds ago.

I’ve touted Ohm a lot so far in this discussion so I’ll talk about Indivism too. It’s this interesting weird middle ground of wide bass “slices” working with and against beats while playing with melody and time distortion. Motion, time, and presentation of the sound seem to be the focus as two micromovements are “Slices of Basso Ostinato” and “Variant of Fragments of Basso” while another is “The Properties of Motion”. In 6 (and 7) minutes Indivism and Ohm both take you on a ride that would work as a wild single release in the club music industry. I don’t know about successful but definitely wild. And then those 6 or 7 minute journeys are more or less interrupted as they reach a big conclusion and almost without transition blast their way into a free open modular synth space that is almost unrelated in totality to the composition being played with (at least it feels so in execution). Maybe I just don’t understand the music enough…probably. Anyways the point I’m getting at is that I just hope the whole album doesn’t do that over and over. Artifacture doesn’t do this so I have some good hopes. And regardless that modular music is still a wonderful listen. It just feels like those creations could be compositions of their own perhaps.

As I said earlier though, music creation doesn’t work like this set storyboard of ideas. It’s something that develops and you can tell from your digging that this is an album that is very developed across time as its inspiration. BT may put down a thesis of “I’m going to share music that I just kind of freely develop for 3+ years” but that doesn’t mean he knows what it’s going to sound like that very moment in time from start to finish. He’s letting life inspire him in one of the most unguided ways.  And if that means some wild modular creations that he made at the end of building some of these compositions are a part of the journey then that’s in effect what he’s trying to share with us and what we’re supposed to be experiencing. Stark, wild, and even unexpected contrasts are something BT’s done in the past. He did it with Tomahawk (chaos vs. uplifting). He did it with Dynamic Symmetry (jazz vs. break beats). And he did it back in the late 90s with Solar Plexus (rock in the middle of a dance album, actually he does that a LOT in his albums). The point is that BT is taking us on the journey of discovering and creating his own music in this album. And while I’m a little bummed we won’t know the micromovements of the rest of Underscore’s compositions, and the sudden modular pieces might be a little odd for pace purposes, this album is still gonna be so cool I won’t shut up about it for like a year.

Typer Listens – Andy Moor & Somna with Amy Kirkpatrick: One Thing About You

Contrary to popular belief I actually don’t think the greatest thing that has come out of Skillrex’s revival of the dubstep/electro house scene this side of the 10s is the ear-destroying high pitch sounds and the “wubs”. Don’t get me wrong, those are some…really…nice qualities that an untapped market totally appreciates. I’m not that market though, I like balanced sounds. Skrillex’s style of dubstep, for the most part, has been about mixtures of hip hop with dubstep or the complete and total annihilation of what it means to be “balanced”. And that’s not a bad thing all the time, in fact if Skrillex’s success is a metric then unbalanced highs and lows in music is in fact really cool or exactly what some people want. And if you take a look at the genres before Skrillex  it’s fair to say he inspired many people and changed the way artists approach them. I just don’t care for it and really I think people have gone head-over-heels for it because at times Skrillex has represented the “edge” for hipsters to jump on (no, you’re not a hipster, but there are hipsters for everything that’s new so face it: The person next to you MIGHT BE ONE), it’s either that or my hearing is just weirdly sensitive. The third possibility is the one that keeps me writing this stuff: People just haven’t explored what’s out there. And so I write these blogs and make Typer Tyme the show in the hopes that one day there’ll be a crowd of people looking for the stuff I look for and I’ll finally have some friends on the internet. /sarcasm

Really though I think the best things that have come out of Skrillex’s revival of the dubstep / electro house scene come 2-fold. First and foremost is…well the style of the electro-trend that built out of it. Again, Skrillex’s appeal these days is Jack U and some combinations of hip hop, jazz, lots of genres actually mixed in with his electronic skills. And I have nothing against what he does, in fact he does a really good job at what he does. His style just clashes against mine like tuna salad. Somebody likes it but I know it’s not me. It smells wrong and I think if you need to work that many extra ingredients onto the fish it just doesn’t want to be eaten. But so many artists have looked at what Skrillex did to a late 90s/early 00s breaks-based genre and have been inspired by that. That’s awesome, it’s brought out artists like Savant and Adam K and given fuel to already wildly successful people like deadmau5. In fact I’m pretty sure the entire Monstercat label just wouldn’t exist today if Skrillex didn’t do his thing. Without Skrillex you wouldn’t have today’s track either, at least it wouldn’t be the same. Speaking of today’s track…

That’s the second best thing Skrillex’s work did: It gave electro-bass REALLY GOOD FUEL. Look believe it or not electro-house was a genre that developed back in the late 90s/early 00s as well. Ferry Corsten’s trance album “L.E.F.” in 2006 featured a lot of unique electro instruments through and through and the Above & Beyond crew even considered running a daughter label “Anjuna-Electro” but they folded it after some time (probably didn’t get enough steam). The difficulty with making the music back then either came because the technology wasn’t there to play with more electro-sounds or because someone hadn’t really thought about taking the typically thuddy bass and distorting the crap out of it to the point that it felt warmer than it did impactful. Either way, the resulting sound from our “EDM” movement of the past six years is a textured one, providing a sheet rock of new sounds to build upon or morph from when working with bass. It’s proved so pliant that it works for a big club presence with tracks like iLan Bluestone’s “Spheres” or “Tesseract”, it obviously works well in the dubstep presence (see Xilent’s entire album “We Are Virutal” or deadmau5’s “4×4=12”), and it even works in trance. In fact, it works really well in trance.

And so that brings us to “One Thing About You”, a trance favorite of mine from 2015 that knocks it out of the park. Andy Moor pairs with Somna and they worked with Amy Kirkpatrick on the writing and vocals to create this track that wonderfully represents how trance tracks can use that new textured distorted style of bass as a background element, a presence, and even a piece of the mood set by the songwriting.  The lyrics speak of someone walling up feelings / creating a sense that things are not okay to the person speaking. Yet despite difficulties, the person speaking does not want the other to change. It’s a tangled bag of wanting things or confidence to change without wanting the person to actually change who they are. The drive in is strong but the track really shines as an electro-infused trance anthem as it hits the crescendo. It doesn’t rely on a multiplying time signature or a big “drop” so much as a snare and the lifting of the melodies in pure trance style. This all comes shortly after a bridge mixed with acoustic guitar, piano, and Amy’s lovely vocals in also pure trance fashion. The final chorus fades the strong club sounds and eliminates most other sounds besides a focus on the vocals and the ever present electro-wall that rides the experience through and through.

See also: Tomahawk by BT with Adam K, Keep Your Secrets by Andrew Bayer (Myon & Shane 54 Summer of Love Remix)

Sidebar: Dad’s viewing was today. It went well, many many old friends and family seen and hugged. It was a long day, I’m tired, I wrote this a week ago and I’m glad I did because I don’t to work up the effort to find another song or album to write about today.

Typer Listens – Andy Duguid: On the Edge

New posts on Mondays! (not every Monday necessarily, just…Mondays)

Friday (September 16th) marks 3 years since this album hit shelves and spawned a few successful singles. It’s not a legendary album by any stretch of the imagination, nor is it a remarkably perfect captured image of music from a year that remains so special to me. But, On the Edge by Andy Duguid is remarkably good and worth your listen. The Scottish producer and performer spends more time building work for the club, and possibly even more time doing work in it, which only heightens the significance of when the man sits down and works on an album. The only other full length album in Duguid’s history is Believe, a release that goes back to 2008. Whether or not Believe is the same interesting collected work of artistic pieces remains irrelevant though because On the Edge remains a good album today. It’s a unique take on trance during a big crossroads for the genre as EDM exploded into new markets and producers / artists started wondering whether to join the revolutions being seen by big-room party work or to pursue the things that have made trance what it is in the past 20 years. The answer was: A little of both, but more of the later.

On the Edge is a collection of 12 trance songs Andy Duguid worked on and built from various inspirations (all of which he shared on a cool SoundCloud audio commentary of the album). The album title takes a line from something his brother once told him, Percussion Man borrows a rhythm and beautiful drum sound he once heard from a public drummer, and When You’re With Me explores darker club-based trance sounds clashing against a common emotional point in the album: The feeling that a relationship isn’t quite what it should be.

This album that uses high melodies, piano, and airy staging in its track-to-track mixing is actually using the elements at hand to its emotional advantage. The clash of feelings with anthemic, dancey hits like In this Moment and Paradise (Richard’s Theme) do at times feel like a producer just drawing lines and connecting dots. But the vision, the instruments at play, and the wonderful talent across the board end in an album that works for the most part, really well. Tiago feels like some sort of an unnecessary bridge from one high point into what’s supposed to the next, but Stars is missing something special regardless, making the tiny piece of the journey a little lackluster. But the end result is nothing short of spectacular.

7even, the ending track on the album might be the most fascinating work to come from the 2013 labor of love. The inspiration here was one Olivia Downie, a young girl from Scottland who died at age 7 to a form of cancer called neuroblastoma. The track’s leading piano tones and notes were played and built around the time her death hit the news. 7even itself, with Jaren’s achingly beautiful vocals here, is quite possibly the most emotional / transcendent high place that could end a dance album. It’s jarring as well, something so sorrowful and emotionally wrenching has blasts of noise, beats, sound that one can dance to as we experience airy sounds and vocals so bright as the sky and the sunlight that it’s hard to not be moved considering the inspiration.

On a separate but important note, the music videos are worth a look as well. Only videos exist for In this Moment and 7even but both received some really well structured storytelling. In this Moment has an air of mystery to it as an old man carries a bunch of stones out to the water. But 7even almost packs an extra emotional (albeit creepy in ways) and cinematic punch to an already visual track as it depicts a girl being presented the 5 stages of grief in horrific fashion.

Ultimately it’s a good album with some cool concepts woven through it, definitely worth your listen for the journey leading up to 7even alone. I bought the album mainly because I liked two leading singles off it and wound up considering it as one of the best albums I listened to from 2013. It’s thoughtful, well polished, and it varied itself well enough while keeping a welcome consistency, regardless of whether or not you were listening to a continuous mix or unmixed tracks.

Typer Tyme: After Hours 03

After Hours is an unscheduled “companion series” for the monthly electronic mix show Typer Tyme. Released between episodes of Typer Tyme, After Hours can be mixes of anything and everything from Typer’s library instead of the newer things Typer buys.

This episode of After Hours features a range of harder hitting club tunes including psy-trance and drum & bass.