Jan 6, 2019

Sundaze 1901

Hello, 2019 will make more waves in our history than 2018 it could be one of the worst years for the west in a long time, but then 2020 will follow and the winners will take care of the fireworks...Anyway today the final post on Mike Paradinas andall his alter ego's

Today's Artist  is better known by his stage name μ-Ziq (pronounced "mu-sic" or mew-zeek), an English electronic musician from Wimbledon, London. He is one of the pioneering IDM electronic music acts during the 90's, alongside Aphex Twin, Autechre, and The Orb. He is also the founder of the record label Planet Mu. .......N'Joy

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One of the premier names in the field of electronic home-listening music, Mike Paradinas' recordings retain the abrasive flavor of early techno pioneers and explore the periphery of experimental electronica even while coddling to his unusual ear for melody, the occasional piece of vintage synthesizer gear, and distorted beatbox rhythms. While his side projects -- including Diesel M, Jake Slazenger, Gary Moscheles, Kid Spatula, and Tusken Raiders -- have often emphasized (or satirized) his debts to jazz, funk, and electro, Paradinas reserves his most original and exciting work for major album releases as µ-Ziq. Early µ-Ziq LPs were based around the most ear-splitting buzz-saw percussion ever heard (in a musical environment or otherwise), with fast-moving though deceptively fragile synthesizer melodies running over the top. As Paradinas began weaving his various influences into a convincing whole, his work became more fully developed, a fluid blend of breakbeat hip-hop and drum'n'bass with industrial effects and the same brittle melodies from his earlier work. Later works have reflected his interest in other forward-thinking electronic styles such Chicago's juke/footwork scene, while also looking back to his formative influences such as the British rave scene and Detroit techno.

Born in Wimbledon (though he grew up in several other spots around London), Paradinas began playing keyboards during the early '80s and listened to new wave bands like Human League and New Order. He joined a few bands in the mid-'80s, then spent eight years on keyboards for the group Blue Innocence. During that time, however, Paradinas had been recording on his own as well with synthesizers and a four-track recorder. When Blue Innocence disintegrated in 1992, he and bass player Francis Naughton bought sequencing software and re-recorded some of Paradinas' old material. After the material was played for Mark Pritchard and Tom Middleton -- the duo behind Global Communication and Reload as well as being the heads of Evolution Records -- they wanted to release it; recording commitments later forced Pritchard and Middleton to withdraw their agreement, though by that time Richard D. James (aka Aphex Twin) had also heard the tracks and agreed to release a double album for his label, Rephlex Records.

The debut album for µ-Ziq (paraphrased from the side of a blank tape and pronounced "mew-zeek") was 1993's Tango n' Vectif. The LP set the template for most of Paradinas' later work, with at times shattering metal-cage percussion underpinning a collection of rather beautiful melodies. The Rephlex label was just beginning to flourish, with added journalistic attention paid to Aphex Twin's recent Selected Ambient Works 85-92, and though James began to feature less in label doings than co-founder Grant Wilson Claridge, later Rephlex work by Cylob, Luke Vibert (aka Wagon Christ), Seefeel, and Squarepusher made it among the cream of electronic home-listening labels.

When Naughton began taking college more seriously (something Paradinas had attempted briefly, from 1990 through 1992), he officially bowed out of µ-Ziq. Second album Bluff Limbo was scheduled to be released in mid-1994, though only 1,000 copies made it out of the gate. (It was officially issued by Rephlex in 1996 after Paradinas served papers on the label.) Paradinas' first major-label release came later in 1994, after he undertook a remix project for Virgin Records. The EP µ-Ziq vs. the Auteurs was one of the most high-profile examples of the remix-by-obliteration movement, a burgeoning hobby for many electronica producers in which the reworking of a pop song would bear no resemblance to -- or trace of -- the original.

Though the EP was hardly a prime mover in the sales category, Virgin signed Paradinas to a hefty contract and gave him his own Planet Mu sublabel to release his own work as well as develop similar-minded artists. Written into his own contract was a provision for unlimited recording under different names, and during 1995 Paradinas definitely took it to task: he unveiled three aliases and released as many albums in less than a year's time. The nu-skool electro label Clear released his debut single as Tusken Raiders early in the year; it mined the fascination with Star Wars and electro music shared by producers like Global Communication, Aphex Twin, and James Lavelle, head of Mo' Wax Records. Clear also released the first Paradinas alias full-length, Jake Slazenger's MakesARacket, later in 1995. Although they were still audible, the LP downplayed his electro influences in favor of some rather cheesy synthesizer figures and a previously unheard debt to jazz-funk.

The distortion reappeared on Paradinas' second LP of the year, Spatula Freak by Kid Spatula. The first American-only release of a Paradinas album (it appeared on Jonah Sharp's San Francisco-based Reflective Records), its sound had the metallic feel of the first two µ-Ziq LPs but with a less-dense production job. Just one month after Spatula Freak, Paradinas released his first proper µ-Ziq LP for a major label, In Pine Effect. The album included tracks recorded from 1993 to 1995, and though it was quite a varied album, the distance appeared to give it quite a disjointed feel.

Paradinas spent 1996 releasing a second Jake Slazenger album (Das Ist Groovy Beat Ja? for Warp) and his first as Gary Moscheles (Shaped to Make Your Life Easier for Belgium's SSR/Crammed Discs). Both LPs journeyed further down the queasy-listening route of the first Slazenger record, with departures into '80s-style party funk and surprisingly straight-ahead soul-jazz. He also owned a half-share in the Rephlex-released Expert Knob Twiddlers (credited as Mike & Rich), the fruit of Paradinas' 1994 recordings with the Aphex Twin.

Paradinas entered 1997 ready to undertake the most ambitious style makeover in his career: the fusion of his home-listening techno with the hypertensive rhythms of street-level drum'n'bass. One year earlier, Aphex Twin had released a single of schizophrenic jungle noodlings ("Hangable Auto Bulb"), and Tom Jenkinson's Squarepusher project had provided the first convincing headphone drum'n'bass act. Paradinas waded into the pool with Urmur Bile Trax, Vols. 1-2, a double EP also released as one full-length compact disc. Though the changeover wasn't completely convincing, the next µ-Ziq full-length more than made up for expectations. Lunatic Harness presented a complete synthesis of the many elements in Paradinas' career, from synth-jazz-funk and beatbox electro through to ambient techno and jungle.

Paradinas and µ-Ziq were introduced to many rock fans after he toured America as the support act for Björk. This tour influenced 1999's Royal Astronomy, which focused on acid techno and hip-hop influences. Issued in 2003, Bilious Paths became the first µ-Ziq release to arrive on Paradinas' own Planet Mu label. The dissolution of his relationship inspired his unrelentingly dark 2007 album Duntisbourne Abbots Soulmate Devastation Technique. Paradinas' Planet Mu duties and his Heterotic project with wife Lara Rix-Martin -- whose debut album, Love & Devotion, arrived in early 2013 -- were among the reasons µ-Ziq took a break until the release of the juke-influenced XTEP and rave-inspired full-length Chewed Corners, both of which arrived in 2013. That year's Somerset Avenue Tracks (1992-1995) compilation celebrated µ-Ziq's 20 years of recording, and collected unreleased tracks from the beginning of his career. Rediffusion appeared in 2014, and XTLP, compiling both XTEP and Rediffusion, followed in 2015. Two digital collections of rare or unreleased recordings, RY30 Trax and Aberystwyth Marine, both appeared in 2016. Following in this vein, Challenge Me Foolish, a collection of tracks dating from the late '90s, was released in 2018, this time on CD and vinyl.

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The first µ-Ziq release on Mike Paradinas' own Planet µ label since he debuted it with a 1997 double EP, Bilious Paths returns him full circle to the master-craftsman mayhem of that year's Lunatic Harness. And since it's also his first full-length not on a major-distributed label since 1995, Paradinas allowed himself a refreshing degree of latitude when it came to genre workouts (hardcore techno, junglistic dread madness, chilled experimental techno). Still, there isn't a track here that's not clearly, recognizably, obviously a µ-Ziq production, from the tympani-led symphonic majesty of "Octelcogopod" to the breezily shape-shifting melodies and pummeling beats of "Meinheld," with plenty of space for the lab-coat drill'n'bass he preferred during the late '90s. As usual, Paradinas is also slightly too humorous for his own good, both with his titles (the two-part "Grape Nut Beats") and with his productions ("On/Off," which repeats a naughty vocal sample far more than it deserves). Highlights abound, but this is definitely one for those used to the blend of heavy innovation and occasional inanity to be found on nearly every µ-Ziq record.

 µ-Ziq - Bilious Paths  (flac 368mb)

01 Johnny Mastricht 4:12
02 Meinheld 3:39
03 Siege Of Antioch 4:16
04 Octelcogopod (Electric Company) 4:48
05 On/Off 3:44
06 Silk Ties (Rude Ass Tinker) 4:25
07 AEC Merlin 3:27
08 Grape Nut Beats (Pt.1) 5:21
09 Grape Nut Beats (Pt.2) 5:09
10 Mouse Bums 4:30
11 Fall Of Antioch 2:04
12 My Mengegus 6:57

 µ-Ziq - Bilious Paths   (ogg  144mb)

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This album is what getting lost in the woods at night feels like, another underrated gem by Mike. Yes, this album is really dark (including the artwork) but that shouldn't stop one from liking it

µ-Ziq - Duntisbourne Abbots Soulmate Devastation Technique (flac  336mb)

01 Prongh Seemness 3:08
02 Duntisbourne Abbots 2:01
03 Dexedrine Girl 2:53
04 Woozy 2:54
05 2CV 2:33
06 Eggshell 3:03
07 Dirtylush Stinkwife 3:37
08 Strawberry Fields Hotel 3:58
09 Pons Pons 4:45
10 Old & Tired 2:57
11 Rise Of The Salmon 3:52
12 Something Else 3:24
13 Insomnia 3:01
14 Painshill Park 2:18
15 Acid Steak Night 5:54
16 Eggshell 2 4:03
17 Drum Light 5:37

µ-Ziq - Duntisbourne Abbots Soulmate Devastation Technique   (ogg  148mb)

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For much of the late 2000s, Mike Paradinas put his output as µ-Ziq on hold, and instead focused on making his label Planet Mu the home of cutting-edge artists like Kuedo, Venetian Snares, and Starkey. Aside from his Heterotic project with wife Lara Rix-Martin and Gravenhurst, which released its debut, Love & Devotion, early in 2013, Paradinas hadn't released an album of his own since 2007's Duntisbourne Abbots Soulmate Devastation Technique, which channeled the anguish of a breakup in its claustrophobic atmospheres, prickly beats, and barbed melodies. Chewed Corners, the eighth µ-Ziq full-length, is as playful and eclectic as its predecessor was consistently bleak. Before the album's release, Paradinas said he made this music for the sheer fun of crafting tracks; while he was one of several leading lights of late-'90s/early-2000s electronic music to make a comeback in 2013, Chewed Corners doesn't feel like a grand statement -- which, in some ways, is a relief. Instead, pent-up creative energy bursts through these tracks, which range from pleasant, like the mellow, bouncy "Smooch," to exciting, like the seven-and-a-half-minute tech-house excursion "Weakling Paradinas" that closes the album with a standout bassline and soaring choruses. What may surprise fans is the relative lack of wild beats, which are usually a staple of Paradinas' work. Instead, he focuses on his flair for layered arrangements and dazzling counterpoint, both of which shine on "Melting Bas." He takes this layering a step further throughout the album, juxtaposing not just sounds but past and present influences, including artists from his own label's roster. "Tickly Flanks" alone nods to Kuedo's fondness for brassy tones, as well as Chicago footwork and acid house; "Twangle Melkas" and "Wipe" incorporate dubstep and grime with '80s elements that could seem incongruous if they weren't blended so cleverly; and "Taikon," "Christ Dust," and the outstanding "Houzz 10" nod to the halcyon days of Aphex Twin and Orbital. Ultimately, Chewed Corners may sound the least like a typical µ-Ziq album compared to the rest of his discography, but it reflects Paradinas' knowledge of, and pleasure in, over three decades' worth of electronic music. Even if it's not as striking or emotionally resonant as Duntisbourne Abbots Soulmate Devastation Technique, it's certainly an engaging, welcome return.

µ-Ziq - Chewed Corners (flac  358mb)

01 Taikon 5:16
02 Christ Dust 3:01
03 Wipe 4:42
04 Monyth 1:45
05 Twangle Melkas 2:49
06 Melting Bas 3:36
07 Houzz 10 5:31
08 Feeble Minded 4:40
09 Hug 2:58
10 Mountain Island Boner 4:08
11 Tickly Flanks 3:30
12 Smooch 3:41
13 Gunnar 4:37
14 Weakling Paradinas 7:33

µ-Ziq - Chewed Corners  (ogg 136mb)

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Nice change of direction for electronica veteran Mike Paradinas, here with his (new) partner Lara Rix-Martin, aided by Gravenhurst‘s Nick Talbot who sings on half the tracks. Mike’s last album as μ-ziq, a break-up album brutally titled Duntisbourne Abbots Soulmate Devastation Technique (2007), seemed like a bit of a cul-de-sac for the project, with every ounce of melody and harmony crushed under the weight of digital manipulation. It probably achieved its aim as a purging of negative feelings about a lost relationship, but as a listening experience it was overly intense yet oddly dull and unmemorable. Great, then, to hear him back on record following a totally different path. Love & Devotion kicks off with Bliss (quite an apt title), immediately harking back to mid-to-early-90s ambient house, with breathily soulful female vocals, handclaps and a bouncy bassline. Vocalist Nick Talbot enters for the second track, Blue Lights, which hits a tempo high as a driving house number, again complete with distinctly 90s-flavoured piano chords. From there, though, the mood darkens, the tempo slows and grey-sky machine soul is the order of the day. It is an intriguing mixture of atmospheric electronic sounds with deliberately retro flourishes (midi trumpet choirs etc.) and titles like Robocorp (in particular) heighten the sense of looking back with wistful nostalgia. It isn’t an immediate gem but certainly one to keep coming back to.

XT is a very beautiful EP by µ-Ziq, the synths and pianos of this fine ep touch deeply and instantly puts you on a happy mood. Though it's a very short ep and mostly doesn't include that experimentally complex drum programming but it doesn't let go of its brisky mood. At least it's always a possibility to keep coming back and pushing the repeat button on your music player to hear this fine release once again.

Heterotic - Love & Devotion (flac  349mb)

01 Bliss 6:06
02 Blue Lights 4:53
03 Wartime 5:07
04 Robo Corp 2:26
05 Devotion 6:10
06 Knell 4:02
07 Slumber 7:11
08 Fanfare 3:01
bonus µ-Ziq - XT EP
01 XT 6:44
02 Ritm 3:24
03 Pulsar 3:36
04 Monj2 4:23
05 New Bimple 2:31

Heterotic - Love & Devotion (ogg  131mb)

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Many thanks for Bilious Paths. I have this as a low-bit mp3 so flac is a welcome upgrade.