Tag Archives: remix

Photek’s KU: PALM Embraces Past, Present, Future

In his first full-length album of new material in a decade, KU: PALM, the electronica artist Photek delivers hints of the past, crafted in the present, with a look to the future.

KU: PALM by Photek

I recently had the opportunity to review KU: PALM and as electronica/dance goes, am pleasantly surprised. This isn’t a record that blew me away after first hearing it, but that’s because the depth is in the details, something that only comes with repeated listens — preferably at very loud volume.

I’ve long been a fan of Photek’s stuff. I got into Modus Operandi about the time I was discovering Massive Attack (Mezzanine is in my top 5 all-time favorite records) in the late ’90s. The textures and beats in tracks like “Axiom” and the forward-moving groove of “The Fifth Column” got me interested, and I’ve been into Photek ever since. Here in KU: PALM, I especially dig new elements like the Eastern-ish themes in “Pyramid.”

Whereas the following track, “Shape Charge” is exactly what I’m talking about when referencing the past and future. It holds up against anything from Modus Operandi, but the production is super-clean and razor sharp for 2012, even with a hint of dubstep wobble. But not too much.

The Phuture

That’s what I mean about an eye toward the future — there’s no telling where dubstep will fall in the electronica pantheon, but to have some of it worked in here for color is totally appropriate. That’s something I’d expect from an artist with a track record like Photek. Check it out yourself over at AllMusic or download a copy at the Photek site.

What do you think? Have you discovered any good records lately? Do you still listen to music you were getting into 15 years ago? Let us hear from you in the comments.

Interview with MelodySheep and Symphony of Science Mastermind John Boswell

MelodySheep autotune creator John Boswell’s musical magic: Bruce Lee, Bob Ross, Mr. Rogers & More

John Boswell

John Boswell, aka MelodySheep, aka Symphony of Science

To say John Boswell grows ideas in the garden of his mind is at once an understatement and yet highly appropriate. As you may have seen on CNN, Forbes, NPR, or especially YouTube, Boswell creates infectiously catchy pop songs from such unlikely sources as Julia Child, Billy Mays and  Yoda – all through the magic of autotune technology and his incredible talent for musical montage.

The results are simultaneously hilarious, touching and highly enjoyable, as evidenced by the millions of views his videos have been racking up lately. I recently asked Boswell a few questions about his process, and his responses follow. Do yourself a favor and check out his full catalog, available for download at MelodySheep.BandCamp.com.

rsmithing: How did you get started in music, and what instruments do you play?
John Boswell: I started off as a keyboardist and turntablist for a metal band in high school – definitely an unorthodox way to begin, but I learned basic music theory and how to combine different elements of music, both of which paved the way for the work I do today. I play mostly piano and guitar but dabble in a handful of other instruments, like mandolin and accordion.

rs: Have any of the subjects of your videos seen them, and what have their reactions been?
jb: A few of the figures I have used in my videos have been in touch with me, and their reactions have been entirely positive. I think what I am doing can be considered a mostly positive endeavor to begin with, and it’s always fun to see yourself given the remix treatment.

rs: What’s been your favorite composition so far?
jb: It’s hard to pick a favorite piece of my own, but the Ode to the Brain video is definitely near the top. It was a blast to make and I learned so many things in the process, which is always a plus. The music came together really well too, which gave it all the right ingredients for a solid video.

rs: Happy Little Clouds got a million views in one weekend. What’s it like to get so much attention so fast?
jb: It’s always great to get the sort of recognition that the Bob Ross video got, and I always appreciate the comments coming in and love hearing people’s reactions. Attention spans on the Internet are very short though, so once one big thing is happening it’s crucial to think about what is going to be next and how it can be different and better.

rs: Which composition has been the most challenging?
jb: The most challenging video thus far was most likely the Bob Ross remix. His quiet voice and tendency to mumble, combined with the constant sound of his brush on the canvas, made it hard to isolate good vocal samples. Luckily he was philosophical enough to provide enough clean quotes to use in the song.

rs: Why did you go with a pay-what-you-like model, and how’s that going for you?
jb: I believe music should be available free to those who want to listen but cannot afford. There is still enough generosity in this world to make pay-what-you-want worth it to artists, although there has to be a critical mass. Anybody who works hard enough can reach that point, as I have demonstrated.

A big thank you to John Boswell for answering my questions. Check out his stuff here:

What’s your favorite autotune mix? Who would you suggest for John’s next project? Let us hear from you in the comments!