Free and legal MP3: Tideup (lo-fi electronica w/ lovely vocals)

Singer Noelle Indovino’s voice floats with airy grace above the swells and clatters of the electronic backbeat.


“Walk” – Tideup

Despite the volume of lifeless electronica and/or electro-pop that has flooded the internet over the last 10 or so years, let us not ever give up on the basic sound, which in the proper hands can still deliver fresh and delightful music. File “Walk” under fresh and delightful, thanks in large part to the clear sweetness of front woman Noelle Indovino’s voice. Draped in a bit of reverb, she still sounds present and crisp, a tone rarely heard in the overcrowded world of DIY electronic duos. And apparently this is no accident. Tideup mastermind/producer/multi-instrumentalist Ben Guzman spent two years searching, via Craigslist, for the right female vocalist to buoy his electronics-oriented landscapes, inspired by music he admired from the Dirty Projectors. Indovino answered his ad in December 2011, as well as his musical prayers. Her voice lends a seductive humanity to Guzman’s adept textures, floating with airy grace above the swells and clatters of the electronic backbeat.

But Tideup isn’t just about a pretty voice. “Walk” is a sturdy song, with lovely, rubbery melodies and thoughtful touches like that vivid three-note melisma in the chorus at 1:53 (melisma: one syllable held through a succession of notes), the thoughtfully sparse instrumental break at 2:20, and what sounds like the ongoing addition of organic drumming on top of the electronic beat. Listen closely and you might also notice how the verse melody is different the second time through, always a sign of a thoughtful composition. And one of the most appealing extras in “Walk” stems again from Indovino’s singing—that lovely wordless vocal she offers us ahead of the verse, which is an unusual and enticing moment. Let this one wash over you a few times and you might start glowing.

“Walk” is a song from Tideup’s debut EP, In Curses You Came, which was released digitally at the beginning of the year. You can listen to the whole thing, and buy it, via Bandcamp. Guzman and Indovino are based in Orlando, Florida.

Free and legal MP3 from B. Fleischmann (Yuletide electronica with a provocative story)

“24.12.” – B. Fleischmann

And here’s another not-quite-typical holiday song. You won’t hear a lot of out-and-out electronica on Fingertips, not because I have anything against the sound per se, but because by and large I find the genre lacking in what I will, with apologies to S. Colbert, call “songiness.” We get a lot of beat and texture and neato sounds but often each track emerges like something sliced out of the electronica-o-matic machine, without an individually compelling sense of structure, arc, or storyline.

While “24.12.” has its quirks—there is no chorus, either musically or lyrically, and nothing really resembling a hook—I still feel that Austrian Bernhard Fleischmann has delivered a fully realized song here, and then some. Unusually for electronica, this one is rooted in the lyrics, so don’t miss them: it’s a holiday story song of an unusual nature. The male voice—not Fleischmann’s, but a guest vocalist who goes by the name Sweet William Van Ghost—sings only the song’s prelude, setting up the situation and the character who then steps forward to sing the rest of the song. I won’t give away the premise, but I will note that Marilies Jagsch, the woman who sings in the song’s second half, is not who she appears to be, character-wise. And it may well be that twist that gives this strange song its depth.

In the middle of the nuanced electronica ambiance, the one central, recurring motif you will hear is the most musically unsubtle thing imaginable: a descending C scale, played note by note on the guitar. And yet by kind of hiding in plain sight there, it lends the subtle air of holiday song to the tale, as that descending line, in other contexts, carries the distinct flavor of Yuletide about it. (It’s a tricky thing, using the unsubtle subtly.) “24.12.” is a song from Fleischmann’s latest album, Angst is Not a Weltanschauung!, released in November on the German Morr Musice label. Weltanschauung, by the way, is one of those wonderful, not entirely translatable German compound words; the overall title means something to the effect of “Fear is not a worldview.” Which is itself a great message for a not-quite-typical holiday greeting card, I’d say.

MP3 via Better Propaganda.