Thanks to everyone who came out to the Frequencity release party at Darkroom last night. Uber fun!
Frequencity is a curated compilation featuring quality cross-genre electronic music tracks from Chicagoland musicians. Earlier this year subVariant released a public call for electronic music from area musicians, and in response, a dozen tracks were chosen that represented high quality perspectives on the medium from a talented group of people.
As a sample, Ukrainian Village-based Beanbake opens up the compilation with a grandiose, uplifting track that makes you feel as though you were biking along Lake Shore Drive with a gentle breeze at your back and no joggers to evade. Ella Laurence from the far Northwest side made her classic acid track, “aaaAAH” with the help of her dad, Eric. “Big deal,” you say, right? Oh, did I mention that Ella was 9 months old at the time? Drasla takes Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” and twists it into a deeply textured, evocative, IDM-tinged spin on classical from his Chicago base. Elock ends the compilation on a bleepy, squelchy, modulated lo-fi high note with his over the top chiptune party jam, “Ari On Acid.” All this amazingness is delivered to worldwide ears from a select group of people who call Chicago their home.
TRACKLIST (Tracks can be individually downloaded in the music player above)
01. Beanbake: “A Bicycle In Your Mind” [Melodic Electronica]
02. Belmont and Clark: “Dark Compression” [Analogue Electro]
03. Ella Laurence: “aaaAH” [Acid]
04. [esc]APE: “Square Fingers” [Dark Electro]
05. Polyfuse: “Blood on the Urinal” [Electro Industrial]
06. Foe Paw: “Dos Otros” [Prog Rock]
07. XYZR_KX: “Home” [Folk IDM]
08. Mike Gonsior: “Reflections” [Downtempo Electronica]
09. Quantazelle: “Polychromatic Tomatoes” [Melodic Electronica]
10. Lokua: “Hue” [Minimal Techno]
11. Drasla: “Moonlight Somnambula” [Neo-Classical IDM]
12. Elock: “Ari on Acid” [Chiptune]
We’ve also released an original t-shirt design in the theme of “Chicago Electronic Music” and can be bought here. It features the world CHICAGO stylized in a printed circuit board typography and is available in multiple colors.
UPDATE: Due to initial technical difficulties and summer electronic music festivals (and a lot of begging for more time :-p), the deadline is extended to Monday, June 13, 2011 at 9am. The entries will be listened to through the following week and we’ll let you know if your stuff has been chosen.
Hey, Chicagoland-based electronic musicians! Want to be part of a Chicago electronic music compilation? subVariant is planning to release a free-to-download collection called Frequencity featuring quality songs from regional musicians.
All electronic music genres are welcome, but the final compilation will be a limited selection of tracks chosen by the subVariant A&R team.
subVariant will also release an original t-shirt design in the theme of “Chicago Electronic Music” when the compilation is officially released.
Going with the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce’s definition, participation is only open to musicians in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties. Even though Chicago-based Chicagoans tend to scoff at suburbanites who adopt the label, we’ll let this one be open to a larger pool of applicants.
The deadline for submissions is
Thursday, June 2, 2011 at 8pm Monday, June 13 at 9am.
So, got a track or three you think we’ll like? Let us listen!
What really makes a music scene? You know–those certain reasons that make you put on a jacket and promptly head for the El or call a cab just to get there in time. That’s what Chicago Innovative Electronic Music (CIEM) and subVariant are asking via their Crowdsourced 1.0 event: What is it about electronic music that people want to see live?
It really is a heady question. But, CIEM & subVariant’s preliminary answer seems to be: “That which is “crowdsourced.”
To the unfamiliar, “crowdsourced” means that the content that is the most popular “rises to the top” via votes–as in, the crowd chooses what’s the most relevant. On Digg.com (a popular news and entertainment aggregator) the front page is filled with only the content that has been voted up through “diggs.” Threadless is also a good example: only the designs that are voted hottest actually make it to production.
On April 10, CIEM will test their theory in the electronic music world. Vote on mixes from local electronic music artisians to fill the four slots in the show that runs from 7pm to 10pm. And when you show up…it will be “crowdsourced.” Meaning, everyone there was voted into their slot.
It’s democracy in electronic music. Like, seriously, democracy. Not that "republic" stuff that’s been thrown around. Your vote actually has a say on whether this artist’s sounds assault your ears for 30 minutes or not. Think carefully and vote.
Go to subvariant.com to vote for your favorite artist. The contenders are Kawa, Protman, [esc]ape, Justin McGrath, dreamlogicc, Roth Mobot, and Liz Revision.
Vote early and encourage your friends to vote as well.
The Empty Bottle
7pm – 10pm
1035 North Western Avenue, Chicago, IL 60622
Here are the contenders:
Live on RTS.FM by dreamlogicc
Voting ends Friday, March 25.
Audio captured from Open Channel 1 on 6/10/10 at Multikulti
Some participants (not in order):
From experimental blips to industrial and drum ‘n’ bass flavored bangers, to saccharine unabashed pop tendencies, Bit Shifter is a dynamic live presence, pushing as much output from his custom setup featuring Nintendo Game Boys outfitted with homebrewed cartridges and perhaps the maximum emotional output capable from eight puny bits of power. -NEW CITY CHICAGO (“Preview: 8bit Halloween featuring Bit Shifter/AI Lounge“)
If an evening of off-the-radar music is up your alley, then our pick for one of Halloween weekend’s most interesting events will pique your interest. 8bit Halloween at AI Lounge hosts one of the world’s premiere 8bit electronic musicians, Josh Davis aka Bit Shifter. Playing his entire set out of a pair of Nintendo Game Boys, Davis pushes the boundaries of sonic experimentation. – CHICAGOIST (“Halloweek in Music”)
Our friend + previous Dorkbot Chicago presenter Liz Revision is organizing an 8bit Halloween ft. Bit Shifter here in CHICAGO. DORKBOT CHICAGO. (“8bit Halloween ft. Bit Shifter CHICAGO”)
*EDITOR’S PICK – Going.com
It’s all in celebration of a Halloweeen party Saturday night in Chicago, headlined by Josh Davis (BitShifter). Party ringleader Liz joins Josh on behalf of subVariant to represent the IDM-glitch-minimal-tech-house side of things, and Mr. Automatic (Front 312) and Onefiftyone (Chicago Workshop) will be joining in. If you’re in Chicago, this looks like the place to spend your Saturday.–CREATE DIGITAL MUSIC (“Happy Halloween: Exclusive Free Liz Revision Mix, Party in Chicago with Bit Shifter“)
Shout-outs to our sponsoring friends:
Music Industry Workshop [The area’s largest music industry training facility w/ Certified Ableton Trainers]
Transistor [Art | Electronics | Music | Books | awesome store on the north side]
Mac Specialist [Premier Apple Macintosh computer specialist with sales, service, training, consulting, networking and internet access in the Chicagoland area]
Fractalspin [The ultimate online geek boutique / techcessories destination]
Dreamdaze [Live visuals / electronic music]
Kumar McMillan / FarmDev [nerdery^64 / music]
Skewerz [Wicker Park – Hawaiian Fusion]
Prepare to be blown away by the innovative minds behind Teh Choons.
From the beautiful, sonic intricacies of Phylum Sinter’s “Ethyltrine
Lumens” to the raging, dancefloor-igniting, Gameboy-created (yes, those
Nintendo handhelds from the 1990s) “Information Chase” by Bitshifter,
these twelve tracks will leave you craving for more sonic mind-candy.
01. BIT SHIFTER: “The Information Chase”
02. KATE SIMKO: “Crystal Palace”
03. BETA: “Warsport Mix 2”
04. QUANTAZELLE: “Digital Love”
05. PROTMAN: “120jubb”
06. JOHNNY SQUARE: “CSdrummer”
07. PHYLUM SINTER: “Ethyltrine Lumens”
08. MILES TILMANN: “Slither”
09. SI-CUT.DB: “Crosshatch”
10. NULLSLEEP: “Her Lazer Light Eyes”
11. MARSHALL WATSON: “Apart It Means Nothing”
12. PRAVEEN: “Dungeon Juice”
SUBVARITRAX™ is a new form of treatment for Sonic Mediocrity Overexposure (SMO). SUBVARITRAX™ works by providing a mix between emotionally-poignant-yet-sonically-dense IDM, and scientifically formulated, provocatively glitchy minimal techno.
With contributions from Quench (Funckarma), Ochre, Tim Koch, edIT, Kero, Matthew Mercer and others, SUBVARITRAX™ is a new type of neurostimulant proven to help people with SMO as well as being an enjoyable listen in its own right. Ask your abstract electronic music specialist if SUBVARITRAX™ is right for you.
1. PHYLUM SINTER: “Monastic Phase” (4:19)
2. MARSHALL WATSON: “Fall without Change” (5:13)
3. QUANTAZELLE: “Late Blazing Kinch Theme” (2:56)
4. R_GARCIA: “Honkeywrench” (4:39)
5. FREDERIQUE GARVIN: “Not So Hot” (4:43)
6. MATTHEW MERCER: “Sucker Punch” (6:33)
7. POPKAN: “Broken Lighter” (5:45)
8. KERO: “Shuf1” (5:29)
9. DEREK MICHAEL: “Similak Jiggles” (4:08)
10. QUANTAZELLE: “Braking (Hushed)” (2:53)
11. ZAINETICA: “Bytesize” (5:49)
12. SENSE: “Gift” (4:04)
13. TIM KOCH: “Minor Rendered” (2:15)
14. SET IN SAND: “A Echo of An Mistake” (3:13)
15. EDIT: “Spare Spork” (4:54)
16. QUENCH: “Vegeta” (6:05)
17. OCHRE: “Copacetia” (6:42)
The woefully underrated and extremely creative Chicago based Subvariant assembles some of the top up and coming IDM talent for Subvaritrax. Label head Liz McLean Knight has an impressive ear for not only sequencing a fun, glitch happy compilation, but for assembling an impressive roster of talent from around the world (London, Detroit, Berlin, Melbourne just for starters). It’s hard to pinpoint where the highlight of this compilation lies: Is it the amazing conceptual packaging? The frantic skittering of IDM beats or the minimal house that could easily find a home on some of minimal techno’s finest imprints? The attention to detail and care each artist shows in their craft? It’s all here in one nice package, and it’s a great sign that not only IDM and minimal techno can co-exist on the same electronic plane, but the future of each subgenre is alive and thriving.” – Rob Theakston, All Music Guide
“Though one is struck initially by Subvaritrax™’s distinctive pharmaceutical packaging, the comp’s presentation is trumped by the potency of the medication itself. Virtually a primer for current electronic music trends, the release collects what could be the best bits from imaginary comps by Merck, Neo Ouija, Spectral Sound, and M-Nus into an 80-minute, 17-track set. Such largesse is often wearying but [it] maintains interest by extending the stylistic range beyond a single genre…
Sparkling streams of glistening melodies unfurl throughout Phylum Sinter’s (Detroit-based Christopher Todd) “Monastic Phase,” Sense’s (Melbourne musician Adam Raisbeck) “Gift,” and Ochre’s (Chris Leary) buoyant epilogue “Copacetia” while boisterous breaks splatter and flail in tracks by Marshall Watson and Quench (aka Funckarma, Netherlands-based Don and Roel Funcken). edIT’s (Ed Ma, Planet-Mu) fabulous stutter-crunk oasis “Spare Spork” is an album highlight, as is … [the] Quantazelle cut “Late Blazing Kinch Theme,” an entrancing intertwine of scurrying percolations and harp melodies. On the techno front, Frederique Garvin drops twitchy, bass-throbbing machine-funk in “Not So Hot,” Derek Michael coaxes whirrs and groans from his gear in “Similak Jiggles,” and Matthew Mercer and Detroit Underground label head Kero (Sohail Azad) take schaffel strolls in their respective outings. While R_Garcia’s gleefully stomping, arcade-flavoured “Honkeywrench” impresses too, the album’s peak arrives with Popkan’s (Tom Erdmann) “Broken Lighter,” a tasty sampling of funky, M-Nus-styled minimal house. While Erdmann’s micro-sampled field of blips, smears, and croaks sounds incredible, it’s the little kick he adds to the tail end of the warping bass line that’s pure genius.
A terrific outing by the Chicago-based subVariant imprint, the ‘instrumental neuro-stimulant’ Subvaritrax™ more than makes good on its promise to treat Sonic Mediocrity Overexposure (SMO) with a therapeutically forward-thinking mix of melodic IDM and glitchy minimal techno.” -Ron Schepper, TEXTURA.
“Phylum Sinter’s “Monastic Phase” starts the gentle release into your bloodstream with tender melodies drifting in a free-form solution of squishy beats and rain-kissed tones. Marshall Watson recommends a “Fall Without Change,” a gravity-free undulation of synthesizer and frayed beats that moves like a heat wave across still landscapes. Label-owner Liz McLean Knight who records as Quantazelle (as well as being the creative force behind the jewelry line Zelle and attendant online shop, Fractalspin.com) slips us a dose of “Late Blazing Kinch Theme,” a vaguely Aphex Twin rhythm scattered across harp melodies and subdermal beat dappling. It’ll hitch in your throat and leave a resonating hum that will percolate through your brain for days. She also offers “Braking (Hushed),” a gurgling lurching tune that sounds like electric wind chimes being shaken by a low magnitude earthquake. Nothing traumatic, just chaotic movement given sound.
Randy Garcia’s “Honkeywrench” keeps catching my ear as it dances and jabbers about. Anchored by the spitting sound of speaker feedback from local RF signals (and I get it enough at the day job that I keep thinking that this track is just fucked up and not cleverly recycling modern noise detritus), R_Garcia throws up squiggling pong melodies that flit about with joyous abandon. There’s a middle of the Subvaritrax dose that goes all woozy on you with house rhythms skewed with jittery noises and squelchy bursts of liquid funk as Matthew Mercer, Popkan, Kero and Derek Michael ooze into your system. Tim Koch’s “Minor Rendered” puddles with aquatic dub while ringing with minor chords that are flung up like fireworks to hang in the sky. A sinuous funk beat slithers into the room and coils around our ankles, lending a lurching stagger to our dance steps. While Zainetica delivers a swooping aerial ride filled with the guttering echoes of synthesized voices in “Bytesize,” Sense’s “Gift” is a orchestral wash of electronic tones and fluffy melodies.
As Set in Sand’s “A Echo of An Mistake” (sic) warbles and threatens to lose track of its rhythmic center (yet retains it in the end as the effort is to shift you slightly and not yank the chair out from beneath you), edIT’s “Spare Spork” shares no such illusions. The beats in “Spare Spork” stab at you with their guttering intensity, echoing in the background like ping pong balls ricocheting off concrete walls. The lonesome guitar melody in the foreground is dragged in the wake of the beats, its melancholy secondary to the gutter-jerk of the affected beats. Quench keeps some of the manic energy afforded by edIT (this is the end of the dosage after all, somnambulant effects must be wiped away) but channels it as BPMs. Shivering beats collapse and percolate like hot water in a coffee maker while digital melodies churn and curl around one another like snakes, like Mobius patterns.
SubVariant takes a very serious approach to presentation and the limited release of Subvaritrax comes as a Rx package, a personalized prescription written just for your mental state. “Play entire CD twice daily or as needed” read the instructions on the plastic casing. Would that all medicines that make you feel better go down so easily (and the final glistening water electronica of Ochre eases you back from your SubVariant-induced slumber). This is a heartily recommended panacea for the beat-broke blues.” – Mark Teppo, IGLOO
“A label sampler of amazing proportions for those who like melodic to mid tempo electronic or IDM music, Chicago’s Subvariant Label sets out with Subvaritrax to position itself as a premier label for the inventive and the daring.
The compilation largely succeeds; the artists on this disc, including Quantazelle, Popkan, Kero, Tim Koch, Quench and Matthew Mercer among others, have a knack for marrying the ideas of experimentation and melody. Each track features an abundance of blips, beeps, glitches and squiggles courtesy of various computers, but there’s always a dominant and often playful melody to prevent these songs from becoming pure experimental dissonance. While more prominent groups in the IDM world like Autechre concentrate more on experimental freak-outs, Subvariant’s roster understands the plain fact that melody and hooks are what bring people back.
Even without the presence of vocals, as a whole, the disc comes off as emotional and moody. There are many cuts here worthy of pivotal movie soundtrack moments: a cut like Marshal Watson’s “Fall without Change” seems ripe for the plucking as background music to an introspective scene. And fuck “Eye of the Tiger,” Tim Koch’s “Minor Rendered” could be a new, more suave and hip soundtrack to training, prevailing and kicking some ass. On the other side, there are occasional tracks that oppose the soothing sounds to come off cold and metallic. Derek Michael’s “Similak Jiggles” sounds like an automated factory, and Quench’s “Vegeta” sounds like it came from a future super-computer age.
By balancing the experimental and the accessible, the artists on this comp all come with a similar aesthetic; their cohesion makes for an enjoyable but somewhat overwhelming experience. Each artist is able to craft a layered and dense sound collage that you can easily get lost in – from the warm and soothing to the steely and distant – and for the most part, these groups can stand alongside similar melodic compatriots like Plaid, Boards of Canada and Four Tet. On the shoulders of those innovators, Subvaritrax introduces some exceptional and inventive rising stars. “ – LOST AT SEA
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