test tube news ~ #006 ~ may 2007
It's time for another newsletter, people.
In April we returned to the ambient releases with two excellent albums, one by Michael Trommer from Montréal - new at test tube - and another one from our friend Erik Svensson, signing as Väsgskäl, who gave us his last work under that alias. We also had the debut release from spanish electronic-pop producer Penca Catalogue with an amazing EP blending catchy tunes with folk-style vocals and overall pop-feeling sensation. 'Half Slei' has become a classic around here. Don't forget to download all three releases, if you didn't already.
In other news, Pitch Boys finally has his own web domain, test tube and DOPO got featured at Foxy Digitalis, which was really cool and we nearly sold out our first 100 copy bash of test tube DVDs. We still have a couple around here, so be quick. I don't know if we're going to press more anytime soon. We made sufficient profit margin to pay for another two years of hosting, so we did pretty well. Thanks everyone who bought one for supporting us, You are all really special friends! :)
Oh yeah, and we are green now! Our webhost buys renewable energy credits to help the economy turn carbon neutral. By doing that we're paying money to companies and fundations that invest in green energy solutions and all that. We're helping planet earth, which just feels like doing the right thing. If you want to know more, check this.
Well, that's about it. Keep coming for more.
April 30, 2007
THE ALIAS DEMISE
• tube'|073 - Vägskäl - This could've been the beginning of something great
«Erik Svensson returns for his last incarnation as Vägskäl. If you haven't listened to his other test tube release, the EP 'As Summer Comes Creeping', please try to do it before listening to this full album, because the previous one works something as a prologue to this last 'swan song'. 'This could've been...' picks up where the EP left: dark ambient moods, a couple of subtle beats here and there and some melancholic drones to boot. Although the artwork suggests a darker tone to this release, as opposed to the brighter, sunny cover of the EP, this new work is actually a lot lighter (as in 'light'). Take the first track, for instance. It's called 'We shine brighter now', and it truly deserves the name. A light (as in 'not heavy') white drone grows towards the morning sun. A beautiful opener.
The title track samples some very nice IDM-ish beats, and resembles a lot 'A Song for a Girl', from the previous release. If this were to be a pop album, I'd choose this one as the single, hands down. But hey, 'New worlds ahead' could also be a really nice single too!
This album features a truly dark and minimal ambient 'remix version' of 'Deep inside', by finnish musician Jari Pitkänen, that comes as an excellent mood shift somewhere in the middle of the album. But there aren't that many 'dark' moods as one would assume from Erik, founder of Mirakelmusik, an excellent dark ambient swedish label. It's as if Erik was trying to detach this moniker from the genre where he feels mostly at home. Well, he did it, at least for good measure he did it. More than half of Vägskäl's work - including stuff from other labels as well - clearly touches more sky than ground. There are plenty of uplifting beats throughout.
'The falling star' is yet another and obvious point of contact with last release's 'The fading star'. Shares the same dark moody theme, a similar waving and pulsating drone, same sort of mechanical samples. The two tracks were most probably made at the same time. One of my favorites and one that, in my opinion, best characterizes Vägskäl's work.
Time for a goodbye, as the suggestively titled 'Someday, somewhere', well... suggests. This wasn't actually the beginning of something great, but the end. Outstanding. Rest in peace, Vägskäl.»
- Pedro Leitão
April 25, 2007
WE'RE GREEN, YEAH!
test tube is hosted in a carbon neutral hosting company, Dreamhost. Therefore, all its hosted websites are green too.
Learn more about why we're carbon neutral here.
April 22, 2007
TEST TUBE DVD FEATURED ON FOXY DIGITALIS!
A couple of weeks after the DOPO feature at Foxy Digitalis' blog (April 06), contributor Brad Rose (yay!) wrote a few lines about our recent DVD compilation. It reads:
«(...) test tube, from portugal, has been going strong for almost 3 years now and has released almost 75 free, mp3 albums, eps, etc. to celebrate the 75th release, they're making an incredible offer. for about 9 euros ($13 for us yanks), you can order a DVDR with EVERY SINGLE RELEASE they've done. it's over 40 hours of music; 400 songs, and there are 10 different covers available (all of which look pretty great). seriously, it's one of the best deals around. the music ranges from dozens of different styles, and it's not all for everyone - but within those digital realms, there are some really solid releases and true gems. so head on over to test tube and pony up the 9 euros, or $13 - whatever. it's a great way to support a group of folks who have offered up so much for free.»
Once again, big thanks to Brad for supporting test tube in more than one way. You're great, man!
April 20, 2007
• tube'|072 - Michael Trommer - Sleeping Satellites
«test tube kindly welcomes canadian Michael Trommer into the family with this amazing 'Sleeping Satellites', a sci-fi ambient masterpiece. On a side note, most of the pieces in this work remind me of film score composer Cliff Martinez, who has done a tremendously good job with the score for the 2002 remake 'Solaris', by Steven Soderbergh. Michael, a bit like Martinez, infuses his music with some untangible feeling of loss and we end up feeling emotionally connected with most of his tracks. Michael could well be doing great sci-fi scores too, if life was fair.
Trackwise, 'Huygens 2' is my favorite track. Not because it is named after a famous satellite, but because it cumulates all those emotional/nostalgic feelings in its core. Because it is purely a time-machine, which transports us to some moment in our past, a moment where we would like to visit again, again and again in every possible way, and stay there.
'Air ( )' is also a personal favorite. It's one of the few tracks of this album with an underlying beat to its structure and a very minimal drone supporting it, placing it near the IDM concept.
'Sleeping Satellites' closes this release, and with appropriate minimal style. It builds up from a voice-based drone, has a low profile beat like 'Air ( )', too, and slowly fades away into silence.
This is an album to listen to at a considerable high volume setting - or best yet, with your headphones -, because it has many subtle moments that need all the attention one could give. This is canadian ambient at its best.»
- Pedro Leitão
April 10, 2007
THIS ISN'T A WELL-KNOWN BRITPOP OUTFIT
• tube'|071 - Penca Catalogue - This is Hair Care
«'This is Hair Care' is not an homage to the 1998 album of a well-known britpop outfit (wink-wink, nudge-nudge, its name rhymes with "gulp"). No, it's an EP of pop songs recorded in a lo-fi electronic way. No, it's not an '80s revival group - who the fuck cares anyway? it's already 2007 -, it's just a guy, his songs and his MySpace friends playing guitar, ukelele or drums.
An outdated robotic voice introduces the record, which often features lovely melodies, glitchy beats - even almost boom-bapy hip-hop beats one time -, organ instruments such as guitar and understated vocals. It's the work of Luis Sierra, a Spanish electronic producer who has been known as Penca Catalogue since 2002. He has released an EP on his own label, Sinclair-rrr Records, in 2004, but this is his first release out of his home since then, which will be followed by a couple more releases on other spanish netlabels.
'This is Hair Care' may be reminiscent of Khonnor's full length 2004 debut, 'Handwriting', but it's really more of a collaborative effort between Sierra and his friends, not the work of a 17 year old and his computer, and these are two different artists. Even so, before he was on Type, Khonnor released on netlabels, so maybe the future Khonnor is right here, right now.»
- Rodrigo Nogueira
April 09, 2007
DOPO FEATURED ON FOXY DIGITALIS!
Foxy Digitalis' blog contributor Brad Rose (hi Brad!) wrote some very nice words (and totally deserved) about DOPO's so far two excellent releases here on test tube. Here's some snippets from the article:
«(...) The quintet has only been around for a little over 2 years, but in that time have produced a handful of wonderful releases. (...)
You can't beat free, especially when it's this damn good. (...)
"For the Entrance of the Sun" is a minor masterpiece, and one of the year's best so far. (...)»
Read the full article here.
April 08, 2007
PITCH BOYS HAS A NEW HOME
test tube's friend and artist Pitch Boys - real name Nuno Meneses - finally has a proper homepage. Here you'll find all info on past and future releases, and more.
April 02, 2007
CREATIVE COMMONS 3.0
Creative Commons recently launched version 3.0 of the famous open source licenses.
We are preparing to upgrade all of our content to this new version. Every work should have its own license upgraded in a couple of days, tops.
GO GO CC!