TBT: TURN UP DA SYNTH

I know it’s not Thursday but it’s never too late to throw it back for a super rad musical innovation of the past. On January 31st, 1955, the Radio Corporation of America debuted Victor: the world’s first electronic synthesizer! 

A synthesizer is an electronic instrument that can produce and mimic a wide range of sounds, from a guitar or a person’s voice to a bird chirping to sounds that can’t even be heard in nature. Nowadays, you might associate them with music that sounds like this: 

Or this: 

Electronic duo Daft Punk is well-known for playing around with different digital synthesizers. “Da Funk” is a super catchy example of their signature synth sound.

But wait, there’s more! Electronic and house music definitely don’t have the monopoly on the synthesizer. 

Mmmmm, sounds like the ‘90’s.

In the years since Victor’s introduction, synthesizers have progressed in leaps and bounds to the point where they can now be found in pretty much every genre of music. The quality of sound produced by a synthesizer can be changed by a number of factors–whether it uses analog or digital signals, for one, or how the signals are filtered and processed. Synth sound can be programmed or controlled with the voice. They can also be used to sample music, or take a sound from one song/recording and use it in another, with or without alteration. There is nearly nothing a synth can’t do. The RCA really did us a solid with this one.

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malz

Rad Report–come with me and join the Manatee Commune

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The music created by Manatee Commune is like a gust of wind that breathes life and energy into you as you walk down the street on a cold winter day  (similar to the ones we’ve been having in Seattle this last week). It’s the kind of music that exhales only positive vibes into anybody who takes a listen. When I first heard these beats I felt myself inhale a rush of emotions, which cannot be produced by anyone other than the incredible Grant Eadie—the creator and member of Manatee Commune. 

Described by Eadie himself as “chillwave, bedroom electronic, [and] rainy goodness,” Manatee Commune’s music is really unlike any other. There aren’t many artists producing such relaxing, yet intriguing types of music that can induce such an intense experience. The ethereal sounds within Eadie’s music bring out this feeling of awe that’s hard to describe, but is similar to the sensation of having climbed a mountain and having meditated on the summit. The idea of “the sublime” comes to mind, the concept of something completely awe-inspiring and stupendous—this is exactly how I feel when I play a song by Manatee Commune.

While definitely fitting into an electronic genre, I think of Eadie’s music as mostly experimental and trancelike. The most interesting and coolest part of many of these songs is that natural sounds are incorporated into them, which are definitely a reminder of the Pacific Northwest and Seattle specifically (where Eadie is from and currently resides). This gives the music a very relatable and homey feel to it that is applicable whether you’re on that grind studying for finals next week, or whether you’re trying to ease your mind and get some good sleep.

Although I feel like it’s remarkably easy to connect to Manatee Commune’s music through soundcloud and bandcamp, I’m really excited to be able to experience these rad rhythms live on December 3rd (tomorrow)! The show is actually FREE and is presented by our very own Rainy Dawg Radio in UW’s Ethnic Cultural Theater. I, myself, have yet to experience Manatee Commune live, and have heard that it’s an unbelievable experience. I hope to see you all there so we can enjoy the breathtaking work of this fantastic artist together. 

Two Sides of the Same Coin: New Electronic from North & South America

Music can be related from all over the world. From the south-eastern shores of Brazil to the Pacific Northwest, artists are always coming up with new forms of expression – especially in the realm of electronic. This week, two musicians have released the perfect example of a such a connection.

Brazilian dream-pop experimentalist, Kid from Amazon put out a tape last weekend that’s done nothing but displace my concept of reality. As I walk the streets of Budapest, soviet trams passing by, Musgo Vibes breaks through the monotony with its nu-disco beats and ambient vocalizations. Check out the stream (and download it for free) in the BandCamp player below:

Musgo Vibes by Kid From Amazon

Slow and relaxed at first, the tracks begin to build off of with one another between waves of enchanting synths and samples. As one becomes comfortable with the constant state of disassociation, a state of comfort is pursued through tracks like “Shy” and “Lugares”. Yet, as “Summer Haze” breaks and fades, the album returns to its Brazilian trance – birds chirping between cracks in the rhythm.

As my weekend came to a close, the Kid From Amazon was kicked off my “Now Playing” list by Jaapur’s latest release, the first of many continuous mixes of all his previous albums. This Oregon native provided the perfect contrast to the dream-state that Musgo Vibes, had put me under. Check out Tension below (free download):

Glitchy and poppy, the mix does nothing but keep my head bobbing. And as the tracks meld into one another, the album has become my new playlist for any dark and gloomy day.

Both musicians, though thousands of miles away from one another and myself, have managed to make this freezing cold how-can-this-still-be-fall weather feel a little more like summer with every bass-line, synth-riff, and break-beat. Check out their respective BandCamps here and here.

With love, from Hungary,

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DJ Desman

Marina and the Diamonds – Froot

Welsh songstress Marina and the Diamonds has just graced us with a brand new gem to sink our teeth into. The disco-y “Froot”—stylized as “FROOT”—is the new title track from her upcoming album of the same name. Always the generous spirit, Marina, born Marina Diamandis, released the song 10 days ago, on her birthday, October 10th. “Froot” sees Marina comparing herself to a ripe fruit, ready to be picked by the man she’s been waiting for. The song’s organic and lush lyrical imagery is in sharp contrast to the shimmery, digitized synths washing in and out of the five and half minute-long track. With tongue-in-cheek rhymes, elastic vocal runs, and catchy hooks, Marina has struck a happy medium between her indie-pop debut LP from 2010, The Family Jewels, and 2012 electropop concept album, Electra Heart. Whether or not “Froot” has enough juice to propel itself into stateside radio, as her single “Primadonna” could only graze, is yet to be seen. Regardless, the song is gaining traction and hype in the blogosphere, and has certainly earned itself a cozy place on my regular rotation.

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Jamie Coughlin