Friday, January 30, 2009

Baskyl - Far Beyond Home

Let's talk about The Journey. It may be a cliche to say this, but it is more important than the destination. Having just finished a deep contemplative listen to "Far Beyond Home" in surround sound I sit, flabbergasted, in silence, and let me tell you, silence just ain't cutting it. I just want more. I want to hear these amazing sounds again, and again, and again. Having said that, I'm restarting the album right now while I continue to type...

...ah that's my fuckin' fix right there...

Now, some journeys are arduous, some are mild, others are wild and many are boring. But "Far Beyond Home" is an apt title for the journey you go on when you listen to this album. Instant teleportation has arrived my friends, and its name is Baskyl. From the word go this album transports you to the glowstick-neon-laser-fueled nights of Germany's club scene, to the most intense rave you've ever been to, takes a left turn to downtempo paradise, lifts you up into deep brooding bass heaven, then whacks your head into "FUCK YES!" nod-mode and your feet into "THEY'RE DOING IT ON THEIR OWN!" shuffling, takes another meandering side-road into Chilltown and then drops you into a veritable bottomless abyss of "HOLY SHIT I WANT MORE!" four-to-the-floor; all the while completely trancing your pants off. I rarely use capitals like that but you have to remember I am listening as I type and by the power of the Almighty Glowstick I feel it. Shit yeah, I feel it.

Not only is this album hard hitting and "fuck-yeah", but it is extremely musically intelligent. Baskyl's real name is Wolfgang, and after listening intently to this album I believe he deserves the extra title of "Amadeus". One thing I've always liked about Mozart's, I mean Baskyl's, music is the way it evolves. His melodies and bassline grooves metamorphose as if sentient, growing twisting and curving, and have a beautiful lush, organic nature to them that is still reminiscent of classic techno square-wave and acid riffs that we all know and love. His beats are solid and catchy whilst remaining intuitive and original, at times strapping you in for a rollercoaster ride and sometimes just throwing you off a cliff in the most orgasmic way possible.

Germany's Wolgang Amadeus Baskyl, or "Wolfy" as I like to call him, regularly sends me tracks on Last.FM which I thoroughly enjoy for the ride; and now having the pleasure of listening to an entire album that maintains this incredible evolutionary morphing feeling is pure bliss. The tracks seemlessly flow from 1/16th note arpeggios to deep house bass to psy and hardstyle flings within their own timeframe, yet on top of that they merge together to create a highly cohesive album. The cruising chillgrooove tracks act as the perfect breather before your next slam-dunk into fuck-yeah, and the whole time the trance never lets go of your pants. Screw Armin Van Buuren and his monotonous tones, "Far Beyond Home" is the true meaning of trance, a Journey.

DJs, Rave Organisers, Night Club Owners the world over, I beseech thee: Grab this album and spin it till your decks are smoking. There can never be too much of great electronic music like this.

All of Baskyl's music can be downloaded for free at his site at LastFM

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Reconsiderate - Niche Work

Juxtaposition, division, conflict; tools often utilised by the skilled artist to create a piece of work that directly challenges the observer. This album cannot be listened to casually. It is a challenge. I knew it would be from the moment I opened up the cover of this CD and read the words on the inside cover: "Dear subconscious..."

The album is a challenge to figure out, a challenge to listen to and an even greater challenge to like; but I enjoy challenges, and it's what's kept me coming back to listen to this album time and time again until I felt comfortable enough to like it (let alone write about it!). In the end it is a piece of art, as perfect as a piece of art (being the pursuit of a perfection that will never be attained) can be. It is complete. Here's why:

Reconsiderate has addressed this album to his subconscious, and we can thus assume that the addresser is his consciousness. This is evident in the poetry of the lyrics and the structure of the songs and melodies, all of which are highly intellectualised and thus come from the conceptual, conscious foreground of the mind. Yet, the way in which the content is delivered: vocals that surge up and are then swallowed by the surrounding textures, start-stop rhythms that bang you around, and bowel-churning beats, all appeal to the subconscious, to something inheritly tribal and non-conceptual.

This is where the division comes into play. Whilst Reconsiderate states both on the inside cover blurb and in the lyrics, that his subconscious is "not his friend", the relationship between these two parts of the mind work together, in a fantastically poetic way, by opposing each other. This happens on both a lyrical and musical sense.

In some ways, you could say this juxtaposition is music vs. lyrics, but having listened to this album many times I can see that even in the lyrics, there is evidence of subconsciousness, of spontanaeity and instinct, as much as consciousness, conceptualisation, intellectualisation. When the desperate surging voice cries out "What where you thinking?" or "You need me!" it leaves the listener wondering exactly which part of the brain it is carrying these words. But in all cases, the harsh, often angry sounding, vox is definitely directed at it's polar opposite.

Musically, the fragments of major-key melodies sit side by side with rumbling minor-key bass, they swirl around each other, circling and engaging as if they too are part of the inner conflict.

So how is this album complete, how does it achieve near-perfection whilst being seemingly so conflicted? Simply put, the lyric, "I guess you're just not god enough."

Here, as I see it, the two halves of reconsiderate's mind sing this in unison. Both subconscious and unconscious agree, that whatever they are and whatever shortcomings both have, all of which are explored throughout this album, they are both part of a human being. In a letter accompanying this CD Recon stated that the album was about one's "life's work", and it is this striving for perfection, the thing that keeps any artist going; the accute feeling of "trying to keep it together" both in a conceptual yin and yang (subconscious and conscious) way, and in an emotional, immediate way, that screams humanity; ultimately, it opens a window into the private world of Reconsiderate.

That's just my perception of it, although what makes a great piece of art great is the ability to spawn many different ideas and vantage points depending on the observer's previous experiences, thoughts and feelings. If you want to be challenged and learn something about yourself I couldn't recommend a piece of work more.

Thank you Recon for making what I'm sure people will look back on as they did on Van Gogh and say, "Shit, this guy was good."

Available to purchase (and lots of free tracks) from reconsiderate.com