Far From the Maddening Crowds

Admittedly, there has been a distinct dearth of writing this year. However, there has not been a lack of fantastic electronic music. I’m about four or five years behind the curve of certain compatriots in terms of purchasing media, but I’ve been making great strides so far this year. Normally I’m a listen-to-it-on-ETN-and-rip-it kind of guy, but this doesn’t work for albums, especially vintage stuff. However the closure of Virgin Megastore and some shrewd international Amazoning has allowed me to get my hands on a number of classic recordings (some for the second time).

Chicane – Far From the Maddening Crowds (1997)
Namesake of autumn tactics, electronica artist Chicane’s debut album. Before Behind the Sun, in 1997 Nick Bracegirdle composed this seminal album of glasslike cool. In particular the track Offshore is reminiscient of winding through the rising Applachians on my way to Pittsburgh during grad school.

Paul Oakenfold – Tranceport (1998)
Tranceport is the album that pulled me headfirst into trance. Though Moby and Aphex Twin got me started on electronica, it was Paul Oakenfold that metamorphisized me. I used to listen to this album on a Sony Walkman brick of a tape player while running around Lake Sammamish in the cool, green, summer of 2000. This is at the top of my list when I need to plow through something in 74 minutes.

Ulrich Schnauss – Far Away Trains Passing By (2001)
Ever since meeting him at Taico Club last May, I’ve had Ulrich Schnauss in my heavy rotation for riding home at night. Minimalist electronica that ranges from the chill to the grand in Ulrich’s first album under his own name.

Sasha – Airdrawndagger (2002)
I bought this album simply for the zen nature of Cloud Cuckoo, but Sasha’s self-produced work is growing on me.

and a couple more recent releases:

Oceanlab – Sirens of the Sea (2008)
I’ve always loved Above and Beyond’s anthems, especially Oceanlab mixes by Ferry Corsten. Justine Suissa’s vocals are fair on this album, not up to the level of Autumn Tactics, but a couple of the tracks are nice.

Nick Warren – GU035 Lima (2008)
I don’t get out of trance enough, unfortunately, so I was happy to run into this album when at the Virgin Megastore in San Francisco. Even in its progressive format, house is still more suited for small clubs rather than raves but it’s a nice change, and I’m enjoying the double CD. It makes me pine for my old GU004, Paul Oakenfold in Oslo.

各駅

Red and blue carp streamers rejoice for children’s day all across the land. Long life, health and prosperity. The universal desire of all living things to avoid suffering.

I chug through the mountains (literally) in a two car train of the Nowa Line, an amblign journey through the heart of Tochigi prefecture where every stop is named after one onsen or another. OVerthe Yunishikawa reminds me of the Potomac, then in an instant I am swallowed up again by the mountain. Start to finish, thirty kilometers or so, straight north for an hour, ears popping, to change trains again at the southern tip of Aizu. Break free for a moment, pass over a shallow stream, yellow with sulfur, you can almost smell the springs. Then in a flash back to inky darkness.