Unsigned, but not forgotten

One of the things I really wanted to do when I started this blog five years ago was to try to do anything I could to help unsigned artists. I had tried previously, actually, on a radio show, and had found that a lot of unsigned acts couldn’t get their, um, “act” together to make it work as a cohesive feature, and so it only really ran three of four times before falling in flames.

The unsigned feature on this blog lasted a little longer, and did showcase some interesting acts, but it also opened me up to a lot of artists who for one reason or another weren’t appropriate for the blog, and one or two people who didn’t take that news too well. These are the perils of doing anything on the internet.

But let’s take a look at those who did make it, and see what they have been up to!

Blue Swan

First covered on my radio show in February 2005, and then subsequently looked at in detail on this blog in November 2012, this Danish duo seem to have entered a quiet phase in their career. Looking at their Soundcloud, their last new tracks were the ones we covered here five years ago, and there have been a few DJ mixes since then, but not a lot of activity.

Hugh Doolan

We covered this Irish acoustic act back in November 2012, and looking at his Soundcloud account he’s been very busy recently. His Bandcamp page includes ten releases since we last spoke to him, including acoustic tracks and film soundtracks.

Rance Garrison

Covered back in August 2013, when he was between albums, he seems to have released three new albums in the last few years, all of which are available on his Bandcamp page.

Jonteknik

We first covered Jon’s debut album in November 2012, and when we visited him again the following year, he had just released another album. He’s now part of a label that I need to look into further called The People’s Electric, and recently released an album called Skylines.

Kyma

Introduced to this blog back in November 2012, this UK-based act was still busy a year or so later, including proudly posting one of his songs that was played on BBC Essex, but he hasn’t pushed much to his Soundcloud recently.

mindXpander

An old favourite of mine from the mp3.com days of the early internet, I first covered them here back in 2013. Things seem to have been quiet for them for a couple of decades now, but you can still enjoy their back catalogue at Soundcloud.

Movement Ten

This Brighton-based duo were first covered here back in December 2012 when they had just released their debut album. The following year when we looked again, they had just released another album, but things seem to have been quieter since then.

Subculture

Featured on my radio show in 2005, unfortunately I don’t have any record any more of who they were, how they got in touch, or where they are now. If you know, please ask them to get in touch!

Devin Tait

First covered in August 2013, then revisited later that year when he was in the middle of touring, this flamboyant LA-based artist is now working on his next solo album The White Tomato. More at his official website.

Finally, I think a few more people had filled in the form on the website and asked for coverage. I’ll sit down and actually read those messages and do a feature on them very soon – apologies for the lack of responses if you’re feeling impatient.

Introducing Kyma

Our guest unsigned act this week is Colchester-based solo “hobby musician” Neil Alderson, better known as Kyma. He describes his music as intelligent, mellow electronica, blended with real and organic instruments.

Having started with childhood piano and guitar lessons, Neil started writing songs in an alternative rock band in the late 1990s. His solo work started under the name Karma Police, taking inspiration from the Radiohead song, and kicking off with the album Swept Away (2003). Finding that too many people assumed he was going to be a Radiohead tribute act, he randomly came across the word Kyma (the Greek word for ‘wave’) from a Google search.

The first track we’ll be listening to today is Lost Sands:

It is a great instrumental with a wonderfully chilled out feeling, with gentle pads and strings backed up with soft oriental sounds, and steadily builds to a point half way through where everything breaks down and you realise you’ve just lost a huge throbbing bass as well. Things build again throughout the second half, hitting a point which I can only describe as trippy oriental dub. Fantastic.

Next up is Crystallized:

This one has a bit of an X Files feel for me, with its rippling piano part and a bass line fresh out of the 1990s (that’s a good thing). After Lost Sands this is a great contrast, and proves that Kyma can handle a good range of styles.

Third and last for this set is Angels Breathe, from 2004:

Opening with a distinctly wobbly vinyl effect, this piano-driven track is the only one in this set to include vocals, from a somewhat ethereal sounding lady. I can’t help but feel she’s a little clouded by the effects, but you can hear echoes of Delerium (that’s a very good thing).

Here are some highlights from Kyma‘s answers to my largely daft and unprofessional questions. He was particularly notable, in that his answers were among the best that I received from any of my guests…

What’s your favourite synth, and why?

Well it’s not really an easy thing to pick out an absolute favourite because I am always changing which synths I use and quite often each project will have a completely different rack of synths in the sequencer depending on what sound or theme I’m trying to develop. A number of tracks are born out of me literally randomly picking a synth or trying out something I’ve downloaded and randomly picking another one until I get a layer of sound that I like. I guess I have a few “fallback” synths, namely, FM7, Alchemy, Chimera, Microtonic, If you had asked me 10 years ago I probably would have included Greenoaks Crystal on that list too, not used it much in recent years though. I’m an advocate of freeware synths and I like finding a good freeware synth before resorting to paid for. (That could also be because I’m a cheapskate more than anything though!)

Rearrange the following into the correct order: The Beatles, Justin Bieber, Mozart, Kraftwerk.

Mozart, The Beatles, Kraftwerk.

Mozart has to be top really, a pioneer of his time and technically superior to the rest. The Beatles second, no one can deny the impact The Beatles had on music and they’re just so damn catchy! You probably would have thought being an electronic artist I would pick Kraftwerk as top but in my opinion the other two really made a bigger impact in general, as much as I respect what Kraftwerk did for electronica specifically.

And as for the other one, I’m not even going to sully my keyboard by typing out his name let alone let him onto my list!

Which (existing) movie would have benefitted your music on the soundtrack?

An interesting question… I have no idea! Well I’ve always been inspired by the Blade Runner soundtrack but I think it is already perfect so I would never think I could replace it, not in a million years! But maybe you could slip one or two of my tracks in there to sit alongside Vangelis‘ amazing work? But even then, the quality difference would show (obviously I mean just how bad the quality of Vangelis‘ work is compared to mine… obviously)

Thanks very much to Kyma for agreeing to appear here and for providing such great answers to my daft questions! If you want to hear more, head to his Soundcloud page.