Title: Everest EP
Release Date: 13 July 2012
Genre: Minimal Techno
License: CC BY-NC-ND
I normally try to keep my reviews to fairly recent releases, at least within a few months of the actual release date for a piece. However, there are times to make an exception, and this is really a big exception for me.
For those that know me, I am not a big fan of either House or Techno styles of music. I don’t specifically hate them, I just find that the constant quarter-note bass beat, no matter how dance-able it is, makes for a less than optimal listening experience. And, since I am not really much of a dancer, I find very little value to a lot of music that is narrowly targeted with the single purpose of dancing (which I feel a lot of Techno and House music is). In many cases, I would even argue that the process of producing such recordings bears little resemblance to the composition process, and is more of a programming process.
So, I recently went on an expedition, looking at a couple of Netlabels that I hadn’t encountered before. One of them was the Otium Netlabel (more about them in another review). On the Otium website, they linked to another Netlabel: Sonux. I decided to grab a couple of releases from both of the sites. Little did I notice that Sonux hasn’t had any new releases in over a year. But, no matter, I had the releases and ran them through my normal process, and got them into my review queue playlist.
As I was driving home from work one evening, this release by Nebyla started playing. And it struck me in just the right way. Driving down the road, cruising with a cool, minimal-techno beat with a well set up counterpoint in the backing sounds, and additional rhythms between the sounds-cape and the beats, it all just felt right, and felt cool. Of course, at the time, I didn’t release this was an older release. I just new it was cool, and I quickly glanced at my phone to check which release it was so I could listen to it more when I wasn’t driving.
So, when I got home, I put it on my system here with the nice studio monitors and big sub-woofer. And it still sounds really great. Yes, it does have quite a bit of the dance oriented techno beat, but I realized there was more.
Nebyla has paid a lot of attention to coming up with songs that incorporate the techno beat instead of just coming up with a sound-setting for a techno beat. For example, on ‘Everest’ even the little static pop and click noises are aligned as part of the counterpoint to the finger snaps, bass beat, and vocal. I would dare say, that the work that went into this set of tracks is closer to musical compositions, than they are purely programming / production style works.
And that, to me at least, is what separates a good techno release from the deluge of releases out there: there is more value. It’s not just something to be used for a short period in a dance hall. It’s music that you can listen to whenever you want to.
And there is something else about this kind of work. It doesn’t grow old as quickly as others. In this case, consider that this work is over a year old, and I am just finding it. But it doesn’t sound old to me. It hasn’t lost its value because it isn’t within the normal few month lifespan for most popular dance music. Will it still be good in 5, 10 or 20 years? I don’t know, maybe I will have to go back and revisit some of these releases in the future. But for now, this is still a cool release in my book.
I don’t know why Sonux hasn’t had any new releases for over a year. If this is an example of the kind of releases they were producing, it would seem that they should be keep on releasing music that challenges to re-think the boundaries of the Techno and House genre.
[Note: It appears that since I wrote this review the Sonux netlabel has merged with Otium. All of the Sonux releases are now part of the Otium catalog.]
Hey thanks for this review.. great stuff. That is why I love netlabel mx – always something new to discover.
I spend most of my time driving for work and loading up usb thumbdrives full of netaudio stuff (my car’s sound system allows for mounting usb devices) Reading this review reminds me as to the trouble I run into where I often have to play though tracks a few times before the artist, podcast, mix, lable, etc. commits to memory so that I can seek the artist out for more music. How do you keep track of the music you listen to each day to review/play on your show while in the car?
BTW – I just discovered your show and the No Agenda station. I plan on listening more in the future. Keep it up! I took a stab at running a hobby net radio station – I just could seem to keep it running and interesting on my own. Props to you for the work.
I use Google Play for much of my at work and drive time listening. I download the tracks I like from netlabels, edit the metadata (aka tags) to make certain it is clean, has cover art, the release URL, and CC license. I then move the release into a folder that is monitored by Google Music Manager. Once the files are on Google Play, I add them to a review queue playlist that I’ve set up.
When it comes time to build show notes or write a review, I just look at the metadata for the release information.
In my car and at work, I do most of my listening via my phone. In the car I have a bluetooth speaker that I pair the phone to, in the office I have my ear buds / plugs / what ever you want to call them.
Using Google Play for this also works out nicely for other times as well, like when I was on vacation, I just used my laptop and either the portable speaker or earbuds to listen to music in the hotel, or a coffee shop, etc.
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