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21 October 2008

[2006] J Dilla - The Shining (Mp3 Download)

Months before he passed away, J Dilla asked fellow Detroiter and longtime associate Karriem Riggins to help him complete The Shining. With the album apparently 75 percent complete, Riggins -- an accomplished multi-instrumentalist and producer in his own right -- was handed the masters and went about the completion of the album as if he were inside the mind of Dilla. Though it's disjointed, a little bumpy, and -- in places -- perceptibly unfinished-sounding, The Shining is a very worthy addition to Dilla's discography. A slightly more in-depth synthesis of studio creations and live instrumentation when compared to the productions that have trickled out during 2005 and 2006, the album is drenched in soul -- save for a couple space-age basslines and other fleeting forms of alien synthetics -- and features an impressive raft of Dilla's favorite MCs and singers, big names and relative unknowns alike. And though it's less than 40 minutes in length, Dilla was always about brevity, which means the meandering is kept to a minimum. On "Baby," Dilla swaps lines with Guilty Simpson and Madlib in what amounts to an amusing locker-room boast fest. (Simpson, apparently a fan of The Surreal Life, claims he'll "Beat your dog like Flavor Flav.") The shamelessly gooey "So Far to Go," featuring Common and D'Angelo, expands Donuts' "Bye" to six minutes, allowing wide shafts of light to pour through the spaces between the subtle backbeat. "Dime Piece" is some prime 21st century quiet storm, a Dwele feature that coasts through twilight. Fittingly, the closing "Won't Do" is all-Dilla, from the beat to the nasty MCing to an impressive vocal hook that's nearly as dapper as anything delivered by Dwele. (Dilla's not given nearly enough credit for being a top-flight R&B producer from the very beginning; compare the Pharcyde's "Runnin'" to Mya's "Fallen," or check the instrumental versions of just about any one of his tracks.) It's impossible not to wonder exactly what this album could've been, or where Dilla would've gone with his skills after its release. But it's just as easy to marvel at the amount of quality music he generated while he was on this planet. review by Andy Kellman at allmusic.com

Track List

[2001-2007] Ensiferum - Complete Discography (Mp3 Download)

A melodic power/death/folk metal band delving in Viking legends for lyrical inspiration, Helsinki, Finland's Ensiferum had to continually coexist with various simultaneous metal projects undertaken by its members. Founded in 1995 by guitarist Markus Toivonen, Ensiferum worked up a number of demo tapes before finally attracting the attention of Finland's powerhouse metal label, Spinefarm, which released their eponymous debut in 2001. The sophomore Iron followed in 2004, and both albums featured vocalist Jari Mäenpää, bassist Jukka-Pekka Miettinen, keyboardist Meiju Enho, drummer Oliver Fokin, and of course Toivonen. Many of these were active in black/dark metal act Arthemesia at the same time, and Mäenpää subsequently announced his departure to start a new band called Wintersun. review by Ed Rivadavia at allmusic.com

[2001] Ensiferum

[2004] Iron

[2005] 1987-1999 Demo Re-Release

[2006] Dragonheads EP

[2007] Victory Songs

20 October 2008

[1998-2007] Air - Complete Discography (Mp3 Download)

More apt to cite stately rock paragons Burt Bacharach and Brian Wilson as their inspirations than Derrick May or Aphex Twin, the French duo Air gained inclusion into the late-'90s electronica surge due chiefly to the labels their recordings appeared on, not the actual music they produced. Their sound, a variant of the classic disco sound coaxed into a relaxing Prozac vision of the late '70s, looked back to a variety of phenomena from the period -- synthesizer maestros Tomita, Jean-Michel Jarre, and Vangelis, new wave music of the nonspiky variety, and obscure Italian film soundtracks. Despite gaining quick entrance into the dance community (through releases for Source and Mo' Wax), Air's 1998 debut album, Moon Safari, charted a light -- well, airy -- course along soundscapes composed with melody lines by Moog and Rhodes, not Roland and Yamaha. The presence of several female vocalists, an equipment list whose number of pieces stretched into the dozens, and a baroque tuba solo on one track -- all of this conspired to make Air more of a happening in the living room than the dancefloor.

Though Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoît Dunckel both grew up in Versailles, the two didn't meet until they began studying at the same college. Dunckel, who had studied at the Conservatoire in Paris, played in an alternative band named Orange. One of Dunckel's bandmates, Alex Gopher, introduced Godin into the lineup. While Gopher himself departed (later to record for the Solid label), Dunckel and Godin continued on, becoming Air by 1995. During 1996-1997, the duo released singles on Britain's Mo' Wax ("Modular") and the domestic Source label ("Casanova 70," "Le Soleil Est Prés de Moi"). Though Air often evinced the same '60s Continental charm as Dimitri From Paris -- due no doubt to the influence of Serge Gainsbourg -- the duo had little in common musically with other acts (Daft Punk) in the wave of French electronica lapping at the shores of Britain and America during 1997. That same year, Air remixed Depeche Mode and Neneh Cherry and joined French musique concrète popster Jean-Jacques Perrey for a track on the Source compilation Sourcelab, Vol. 3

Signed to Virgin, Air released their debut album, Moon Safari, in early 1998. The singles "Sexy Boy" and "Kelly Watch the Stars" became moderate hits in Britain and earned airplay on MTV. Later that year, Godin and Dunckel mounted an ambitious tour throughout Europe and America, though they had originally decided to forego live appearances. Their early singles were collected in 1999 under the title Premiers Symptomes; the duo's soundtrack to the Sofia Coppola film The Virgin Suicides followed in early 2000. Air's second studio effort, 10,000 Hz Legend, appeared in spring 2001 with a subsequent tour of the U.S., but critics and fans alike didn't appreciate the darker, more experimental direction. They bridged the gap between the pop of Moon Safari and the experimentalism of 10,000 Hz Legend with their 2004 release Talkie Walkie. Along with touring in support of that album, the pair remained busy making music in 2005 and 2006: they collaborated, along with Pulp's Jarvis Cocker and the Divine Comedy's Neil Hannon, on Charlotte Gainsbourg's album 5:55, and Dunckel released a solo album as Darkel. Cocker and Hannon also appeared on Air's fourth album, Pocket Symphony, which was released in early 2007. review by John Bush at allmusic.com

[1998] Moon Safari

[2000] The Virgin Suicides (Original Soundtrack)

[2001] 10,000 Hz Legend

[2004] Talkie Walkie

[2007] Pocket Symphony

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