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Indie Variety: Arpatle, Destroyah, John Gray, Nuclear O’Reilly

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ARPATLE: The Punishment EP (free DDL on Arpatle Music)

This release from 2009 offers 25 minutes of quirky electronic music.

Arpatle is Patrick Bossink. He is joined on one piece by Ervin Purak (on guitar).

Quirky tuneage that fuses sparse electronics with melodic pop.

Track one features a quirkily twangy guitar and minimalist percussion conspiring with mournful keyboards and sundry electronics to produce a languid mood of restless expectation.

In the next piece, ilbient clicks, a punched piano and discordantly strummed strings generate a pool of haunting rhythmic sounds.

Next, clackity beats and audio samples swim in a morass of shuddering electronics while a subdued bassline establishes a dependable thread through this sonic journey.

The last track is decidedly ambient (compared to the others). A vaporous milieu is created with minimal electronic textures, then the tension is flavored with sidereal effects, all of which succeeding in establishing a haunting and dire auralscape...which concludes with an increase of volume, revealing mechanical aspects previously hidden by murkiness.

These compositions explore dark terrain, but do it with a sly sense of mirth. The music is slippery and jarring at the same time, evoking a mood that contaminates eerie with frolic.

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DESTROYAH: Disc of the Damned (CD on SIQ Records)

This release from 2008 offers 60 minutes of appealing hard pop music.

Destroyah is Kai Laigo.

In-your-face indie pop with a metal touch.

Growling guitar pyrotechnics explode with a fervor tinged with jubilation instead of malice. Nimble-fingered riffs abound, achieving a milieu of raw power that seeps under the skin and infuses the listener with a buoyant vitality. In several instances the guitar indulges in riffs that are quite stunning in their inventive glory.

Surging electronics generate a molten backdrop. Keyboards provide a constant series of chords that glisten with verve. While high energy is integral to this music, there are occasions wherein the keyboards offer some pensive embellishment to the effervescent tuneage.

Strong rhythms provide compelling locomotion for the bouncy melodies. The drums pound away, delivering powerful tempos. There are also passages in which the beats adopt a very techno disposition, nicely balancing the prevailing harsh attitude.

Popping basslines enhance that propulsion, establishing a funky undercurrent lurking within the mix.

The vocals are crisp and possessed of an appealing timbre. Their echoy articulation is applied to lyrics that explore topics of positive assertion, praising the rewarding satisfaction of embracing life and its attendant offerings.

These compositions display an engaging fusion of gritty and crystalline aspects, resulting in songs that flourish with accessible charm. The melodies are sprightly yet flavored with a discriminating touch of intensity. A sense of optimism is delightfully predominant.

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JOHN GRAY: (Tracks) (free DDL from John Gray)

These tracks from 2009 total 30 minutes of relaxing jazz music. Each song is available as a free download.

John Gray plays bass. He is joined on these tracks by Ben Gray (on guitar) and Colin Stranahan (on drums).

Guitar is used, but the true nucleus of most of the songs belongs to the bass, while soft-spoken drums lend comfortable rhythms.

Whispering basslines slither through the mix with their nimble-fingered expressions, conjuring smoky cafes for the listener.

The guitar is played meticulously and strummed in a soothing manner. The chords ring crisply. In some tracks the guitar replaces the bass and takes center-stage, slipping into a rock influence wearing a fusion disguise.

Relaxed percussion creates smooth tempos that remain unobtrusive while providing locomotion. A touch of traditional rock is evident in a few tracks as the beats adopt more strident characteristics.

These compositions are quite understated, yet exhibit an amiable appeal with their deceptive simplicity. A subtle sense of bounciness lurks within the relaxed execution. Gray succeeds in keeping alive old school jazz (i.e.: Mingus), and tosses in a few jazz-rock tunes for those whose tastes lean more to the modern.

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NUCLEAR O’REILLY: Phoning It In (free DDL from Nuclear O’Reilly)

This release from 2009 offers 34 minutes of techno-pop music.

Nuclear O’Reilly is: Jared DiDomenico and Brad Naprixas.

This music was entirely created using an Apple iPhone. Okay, you would expect the tuneage to be crude and sound toy-like, but that is not the case. Human technology has come a looong way since the invention of the synthesizer, this collection of music is proof of that.

The electronics possess a simplistic resonance that harkens back to the early synth-pop days, so it isn’t surprising that Nuclear O’Reilly have chosen to create bouncy little pop tunes with their iPhones. The notes tend to be shrill but cheery, the chords straightforward with rudimentary refinement.

Keyboards produce choppy chords backed by sweeter, more involved riffs.

The rhythms exhibit similar simplicity in sound, sharp and artificial, crisp but airy. Some of the beats display a realistic cadence, sounding very much like the percussion found in marching bands. Rhythms dominate a majority of the pieces.

There are some vocals, which are understandably processed and sound like voices put through a crude vocoder.

Samples of other instruments (like horns) are present, livening up the techno-pop sound. Artificial basslines slither through the mix.

Despite the limitations of the hardware, the band has succeeded in producing a selection of tunes that are buoyant and mildly engaging. These musicians have overcome the shortcomings of their chosen equipment by applying an enticing compositional skill, resulting in tuneage that is accessible and appealing. While this music certainly has interest as a novelty item, this music actually delivers a modicum of satisfying melodies.

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