Weeklybeats.com January 2012 picks

Weekly Beats is a website challenging the musician, sound artist, or electronic music composer to create a new track every week for the year of 2012. As a participant I have had a lot of fun during the first month, both creating new music and listening to the plethora of new sounds. All music derived through this site is creative commons material, so it is free. But any use of the material needs to be attributed to the artist. Here is a compilation of my favorite tracks from the first month… just click on the link for a download of the mp3 file for each song:

Dataline – The Beginning

This song is a joy to listen to… every time it pops up on random it is a happy occurrence. The pacing is just right, it has a fun, memorable melody; and the panning of the glitched out hihats is a nice touch, given the listener a ping-pong effect for the ears. The way the rhythm builds works very well, and the subtle changes the song goes through are a welcome experience. The ending of the song is succinct yet a nice wind-down. A great introduction to weeklybeats.

Fullautostop – Straws With Holes In

An interesting, very processed and rhythmic song. To me it sounds like a less alien-sounding Autechre. Sounds and samples are pulled apart revealing textures in each beat that would not be heard otherwise. Very intricate hihats jump around the sound field while a cycling loop of technological beats form a surprisingly catchy track. There is virtually no melody, but that’s fine since the song is great as it is.

Lomz – Kazi

Epic strings are the main focus here. The song wastes no time and jumps straight into a purposeful loop that does not change until halfway into the song. At that point the listener is treated with a great transition including a cool sounding but simple synth bassline, and changes in the overall rythmic structure. The song is downtempo overall, but is pretty atypical for a downtempo track. 3/4 of the way through, the song mutates again with another change in the rhythm… but it does not sacrifice the natural flow of the track.

Thursdaybloom – Polaroid

Combining a somewhat detached piano line with a field recording at a cafe, the track’s intro does not give much clue as to what the song is like. Which brings an air of mystery to the beginning. When the song actually kicks in, the listener is treated with a great synth bass, some ambient strings, and ever changing glitched out beats. It’s very hard to get bored of the track with so much rhythmic variance and a nice palette of sounds.

Starpause – scrt plcs

A short and sweet 2 minute track that is another example of a great first week of weeklybeats.com. Featuring a phased out, smooth keyboard line, a weird buzzing robo-synth, and a more human sounding brighter lead synth, the song is deceptively simple… in that it actually has a lot going on in it. Tight beats as well. Shows how much can be done with just 2 minutes!

Ryan – Concerto For Exhaust Fan, Movement 1

From week 2, I selected only 4 pieces. The first one is my favorite from week 2… a piece featuring recorded sounds arranged as sound art. Composed with chance elements, samples from a fan and pieces of paper, a choir, and something called a nanokey. Whatever this piece is, the sound of it is really interesting.

sunsawer – What You

This piece is from my sunsawer project: an attempt to get the sounds of My Bloody Valentine’s ‘Loveless’, as well as to make something similar to shoegaze music in general. I really liked how this piece turned out… incorporating buzzed out Korg Poly 800 synths, fuzzy guitars, and an old drum machine chopped into some weird loop rhythms.

tIB – Oestrus

Sort of a subdued piece, with stuttering rhythms, little ground, and alien sound. There is a subtle ambiance about this piece that I really like. Disembodied, cold melodies, a minimal bassline, and some plinking outer space sounds. A difficult to explain piece since it is pretty abstract… but it’s good.

Saskrotch – Kawaii 5.0

One of the quicker tempos that I liked. Jungle beats meet silly melodic leads. Halfway the song shifts gears and gets even faster. Not too familiar with the genre, but the middle section has a happy hardcore feel, or at least my impression of what that is. The piece ends with some dubstep elements that are much faster than what I’ve heard in that genre. Nice variety here.

Spry – One Note of Zen

(Week 3) A collaborative piece that I worked with Spry on. His idea was to use a type of mysticism to spur an idea for a piece. I chose a zen koan as an inspiration for two pieces: the Spry interpretation of one note of zen, and my interpretation. Our two pieces sounded quite a bit different, to say the least. Spry ended up creating a very intense lo-tech sounding electronic song with shifting tempos, icy sounds, and lots of chopped up bits.

mattnida – Automaton

This is a really advanced sounding composition. A downtempo, textured song with pleasing melodies and interesting beats and programming. Great stuff, hard to choose just one song.

OK Ikumi – Fog

I really think this piece lives up to its name. The sounds have an obscured quality to them. It sounds sort of lo-fi, but not exactly… Anyway, the song is well over 2 and a half minutes but is captivating enough that it seems just over half that time length. Not an easy to describe track, as it is certainly quite foggy.

Pulsn – Love Bitterness

A pretty song with a lo-fi minimal beat, gorgeous bassy and slightly distorted synth tones, over a wash of ambiance. Another track that seems much shorter than its running length of 4 and a half minutes. To me, this means the listener gets lost in the song, which is a great thing. It also lives up to its name, and has an emotional quality that sometimes can be difficult to achieve.

Tiasu – Agathokakological

Lovely melodies, catchy beats, something that sounds like a shaker, smooth organ sounds, nice gliding notes, mature compositionally… This is really good. The ending features something that sounds like guitar strings being rubbed the wrong way. A both familiar and strange sounding track.

Zamise – Walk With Me

This piece has a bit more straightforward beat than many of the selections, and a much more eastern sound to it. An adventuresome song from a very strong week 3 that conjures up the imagination. “Walk With Me” has a balanced flow to it, and a pleasing spectrum of sonic material.

Drumurboy – As Time Ticks Away

My favorite of the singer/songwriter or pop pieces. This song has a classic feel to it, and it makes me want to hear what an album of this type of music would sound like. It’s hard to believe this was recorded on a webcam mic. Perhaps this lends a mystical quality to the song, which touches upon themes of time and memory. The mix was done quite well, obviously, to make up for the limitations of the recording. I especially like it when the reversed guitar section comes in and takes the song out.

Vinpous – The First Time In Years, and It’s Five to Five

(Week 4) I really like how unique this piece is, with the crazy amount of different bass sounds, the washes of bell sounds flitting about both speakers, the weird computer tones. There are even subdued cowbell-like sounds. Just doesn’t really sound like anything else, which is almost always a good thing in my opinion.

Protman – 115wb4

I probably could have included any of Protman’s 4 tracks in January, but I think we all agreed this one was really, really good. The piece goes all over the place with its rubbery electronic sounds, great transitions, catchy rhythms, and temporal distortions. I’ve done a show or two with Protman at a gallery with my Sitari project, and it was always cool to see him perform live. One of Chicago’s most interesting electronic music artists.

Trash80 – Vicious

I really like how this piece builds at the beginning, drawing the listener in. It also has a cool melody, starts and stops effectively, and has some rich timbres. Nice headphone music with logical progressions. A dark sound with bright spots.

little-scale – My Neighbor is a Serial Killer

A track composed using only recorded cowbell samples, but does not contain any moments where they actually sound like cowbells. The power of technology! Besides the novelty factor, the song is really composed well, and is sort of an imagined soundtrack for a non-existent horror movie.

So that was my top 20 songs for the first month of weeklybeats.com! One rule I imposed here was that only 1 track per person. I listened to everything that has been submitted and was really impressed by the quality of all the tracks. I’ll try and do this each month.

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