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Review: Loka – Alexandre Navarro by ymatto
April 5, 2011, 10:12 am
Filed under: Ambient, Electronic, Review | Tags: , ,

Alexandre Navarro - Loka

It was a strange experience listening to Alexandre Navarro’s second album on SEM label the first time.  I was fairly stoked at the prospect of more of the elevating ambience we got on his first album, Arcane, which totally took me by surprise.  So I found the right time to settle into a dark room with my headphones and take Loka in, expecting familiarity. Once again I got surprise.

I went back to Arcane again, trying to collect what stylistic and elemental changes had been made, but honestly, I found very few.  Sure, Loka actually includes a minimal dose of percussion in places, but we’re still talking about music made of the same stuff and with the same sensibilities.

But despite the similarities, somehow Loka takes me to a completely different place and so that is really the only way I can describe it.  It feels more urban — not in the hip-hop euphemism sense, but in that it evokes the city.  It is the kind of feeling you get driving through Los Angeles at 2am on a Wednesday night.  In fact the only musical comparison that kept leaping to mind was to Terje Rypdal, who contributed pieces to the soundtrack of Heat (along with others like the Kronos Quartet and Moby) — a movie that captured that aspect of LA perfectly.  Navarro’s Loka is quieter and more contemplative than most of Rypdal’s guitar work, but a Tangerine Dream remix of one of his quieter tracks might get you close.

There is a kind of cool, subdued longing here that is rare.  It is well worth an extended listening or two on a lonely night.

It is available digitally or on vinyl at SEM label’s webpage:

http://semlabel.com/loka/

– Matt

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SEM Label Radio by Jayson
October 5, 2010, 10:25 am
Filed under: Ambient | Tags: , , , , , ,

The SEM Label is one of the best, if not the best discoveries I have made in the last year. Their vision of minimal ambient is classic, timeless even. The music they’ve put out is truly superior quality. We’ve reviewed individual releases here, now I’d like to invite everyone to check out their official Soundcloud radio station; featuring Alexandre Navarro, Saito Koji, Koutaro Fukui, The Green Kingdom, many excerpts from the One Minute For the Sun compilation and more. For anyone that hasn’t bothered to check out SEM’s artists or even given ambient music a good listen, this is an excellent resource.

– Jayson



Free stuff. by Jayson

Ah, yeah. Right now there are about $100 worth of albums I would like to buy. I am currently waiting/hoping to get paid for some work and waiting on another project to get to the billable stage. I am glad there is free music out there, because I have some weird need to constantly get new music despite listening to the same five albums constantly. Here is some free stuff.

Nemo Achida – The North Star EP

Heard about this from Freshnerd. Some solid older-school hip hop. Nemo has a flow that reminds me of the the best of the non-gangsta mid-90s MCs. Makes me think of The Roots a lot. Worth your time.

SEM Label Mixtape 2

On of my favorite musicians, Alexandre Navarro has put together a new mixtape of old and new stuff from the SEM label.

Metal Swim Compilation

You’ve probably already heard about this, but if not it’s worth checking out. It’s all unreleased stuff. Some bands I love like Isis, Red Fang and Pelican on here.

-Jayson



Free stuff. by Jayson

You know how it is. Recession, money, etc. Some ambient then.

One of the best thing I’ve gotten onto recently has been French ambient electronic label SEM label. One Minute For The Sun is a free album of 1 minute tracks by their artists available on Bandcamp. If you like ambient electronic at all you should really check this out. It is 100% quality music.

There is also an Alexandre Navarro mixtape available directly from SEM.

Ambient/drone/experimental label Hawk Moon Records has a sampler up on Bandcamp. The sounds of the artists featured here are a little more toward the side of the classical/instrumental ambient/post-rock compared to the offering by SEM. This is another excellent compilation filled with music worth a serious listen.

Delving deeper into the sampler, I’ve downloaded free albums by Oathless here and here. I also got a live performance from beneath us, the waves. Again, really excellent quality stuff.

We’ve also got a new A Beautiful Lotus release, The Mountain Saga, Pt. 1. This is a little 3 track EP, good stuff. Pretty cheerful sounding.

– Jayson



Review: Alexandre Navarro – Arcane by ymatto
June 9, 2010, 9:52 am
Filed under: Review | Tags: ,

My occasional contribution as guest reviewer here means I get to only review stuff that I enjoy — mostly stuff that I enjoy enough to want to tell people about it.  The SEM label, which Jayson pointed me at because he knows his shit, does the kind of thing I want to enjoy:  music, artwork, even a website that speak to a certain particular aesthetic sensibility. But stuff like this can also go very wrong if it’s all concept, but the product is not dope.

Arcane, however, is excellent. It sits very comfortably at the intersection of electronic, spacey post-rock, and Eno-style ambient. Guitar melodies, light but not lite, float and loop with lazy vibrato above just the right mix of electronic textures and incredibly subtle organic samples. It is high ambience, but not in the least monotonous or thin.  You get tracks that involve something like a block flute, or surf crashing on a beach, but it never comes off as gratuitous, like a CD you’d see at Brookstone with a title like “Mystiq Emotions vol. VII”.

It is a thinking man’s music for contemplation.

Alexandre Navarro – Arcane available as a download on the SEM Label.

– Matt