Entries in µ-Ziq (6)
Sunday, April 26, 2015 at 10:00AM
I can still very vividly recall the first time I heard ambient music. It was during my teenage years. I popped in the record store at our local mall—a Sam Goody or something like that—and picked up Selected Ambient Works, Vol. II by Aphex Twin. I had read about ambient but had never actually heard it. I remember being very surprised and delighted to find this album at such a small shop in our relatively small town. (Mind you, this was in the mid '90s, so music consumption via the internet wasn't really a thing except for the tech elite.)
I wandered back to the car, popped in the CD, and was absolutely mesmerized and transplanted by what I heard. The dark, eerie vibes of SAW2 aren't exactly the ideal introduction to the genre, but I managed to gulp it all down without any trouble. From that moment forward, I knew this music would be a passion of mine. And fittingly, the SAW duology is some of the most celebrated and sought after material in Richard D. James' (aka Aphex Twin's) catalog.
However his ambient work at large is scarce in comparison to his vastly more plentiful beat-centric material. When James shocked the electronic music world earlier this year by leaking 175 previously unreleased and unheard early demos on SoundCloud, it was no big surprise that ambient music made up a tiny fraction of the flood. Not that I'm complaining—this clutch of tracks is an absolute treasure—but I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't hoping for more SAW2-style ambient out of the whole ordeal. After all that's the era of his career that shaped me the most.
I've noticed that many of the fan mixes dedicated to the flood—both simple SoundCloud sets and intricate DJ sets alike—seem to favor James' SAW1-era ambient techno tracks over the beatless tracks more akin to SAW2. (Even James put together a SoundCloud playlist entitled SAW 1.5, which is all techno.) But since I'm clearly biased toward his beatless efforts, those were my focus for this podcast. Luckily James' friend and collaborator Mike Paradinas (aka µ-Ziq) followed James' lead and leaked 156 of his own demos, which include a few beatless numbers. The combined beatless efforts of the two producers exceeds an hour, and it makes for good album-style listening. This may be the closest thing we'll ever get to another SAW2-style album out of RDJ, so let's savor these selections.
For further listening, check my spotlight on Paradinas' ambient work here.
- user48736353001 - "11 early morning clissold"
- µ-Ziq - "Sleep"
- AFX - "th1 [slo]"
- user48736353001 - "19 ssnb"
- µ-Ziq - "Auqeamb"
- user48736353001 - "5 just fall asleep"
- user48736353001 - "33 SAW II un stabbing interview"
- µ-Ziq - "Iesope"
- user48736353001 - "9 un chopped f beginning [SAWII un]"
- user48736353001 - "8 lush ambulance 2"
- µ-Ziq - "Schnusschen"
- user48736353001 - "35 SAW II un road shimmer f"
- AFX - "blue carpet"
- Mike Paradinas - "Synthony No.1"
- Mike Paradinas - "Orch"
- AFX - "avril altdelay"
- AFX - "Rhubarb Orc. 19.53 Rev"
Wednesday, October 1, 2014 at 02:10PM
Last week I wrote a feature about the legacy of Mike Paradinas (aka µ-Ziq) and its many similarities to that of Aphex Twin. Over the years, Mike has put out many ambient tunes nestled stealthily into his full length releases. Even die-hard fans of the London-born producer may discount the notion of Mike being a force in the genre simply because—unlike Aphex Twin—Mike has strewn these songs about his catalog rather than focusing his ambient efforts into a single listen (e.g., Selected Ambient Works). The feature on Mike included a Spotify playlist of 25 of his ambient songs from his various aliases from throughout his 20+ year career. He's given me the green light to feature this playlist in podcast form, so here you go.
This is a special Mixcloud-only edition of ANTS.
- µ-Ziq - "27" [Rephlex, 1994]
- µ-Ziq - "Strawberry Fields Hotel [Planet Mu, 2007]
- µ-Ziq - "Whale Soup" [Rephlex, 1993]
- Kid Spatula - "Squirms" [Planet Mu, 2004]
- µ-Ziq - "Ethereal Murmurings" [Rephlex, 2004]
- µ-Ziq - "Eggshell" [Planet Mu, 2007]
- µ-Ziq - "Fall of Antioch" [Planet Mu, 2003]
- µ-Ziq - "Oh" [Planet Mu, 199?/2013]
- µ-Ziq - "Slag Boom Van Loon - "SPC-CH-PN" [Planet Mu, 1998]
- Kid Spatula - "Snorkmaiden" [Planet Mu, 2000]
- Kid Spatula - "Mighty Softstep" [Planet Mu, 2004]
- µ-Ziq - "The Wheel" [Rephlex, 1994]
- µ-Ziq - "PRG" [Planet Mu, 2014]
- Slag Boom Van Loon - "Pedals" [Planet Mu, 1998]
- µ-Ziq - "Eggshell 2" [Planet Mu, 2007]
- µ-Ziq - "Sick Porter" [Rephlex, 1994]
- µ-Ziq - "Air" [Planet Mu, 199?/2013]
- Slag Boom Van Loon - "Sutedja" [Planet Mu, 1998]
- µ-Ziq - "Painshill Park" [Planet Mu, 2007]
- µ-Ziq - "Wannabe" [Planet Mu, 1997]
- Kid Spatula - "Qisope" [Planet Mu, 2000]
- µ-Ziq - "Scaling" [Hut Recordings, 1999]
- Slag Boon Van Loon - "Mooshy" [Planet Mu, 1998]
- µ-Ziq - "Pollux" [Planet Mu, 199?/2013]
- Heterotic - "Liverpool" [Planet Mu, 2014]
Wednesday, September 24, 2014 at 01:01PM
Syro-mania is in full effect, and many of us leftfield electronic music fans are finding ourselves nostalgic not only for Richard D. James' catalog but for the entire braindance canon. Take FACT Magazine's "The 100 Greatest IDM Tracks" feature from earlier this week, not to mention the too-many-to-count RDJ primers that have surfaced since Syro's cryptic announcement last month. It seems likely that the Warp back catalog is surging on Spotify and other platforms. New fans are playing catch-up by inhaling '90s and '00s IDM content like they're cramming for finals, and seasoned fans are dusting off their Black Dog and Metamatics LPs. (I had an IDM college radio show from 2000 until 2004, so count me in with the latter camp.)
One figure that is likely to receive prime inheritance from these shenanigans is Mike Paradinas, bka μ-Ziq, head honcho of Planet Mu Records and something of an RDJ career doppelgänger. I don't use "doppelgänger" in a disparaging sense—I just mean that Mike has an uncanny number of parallels with Richard. It's almost as if whenever Richard achieved a landmark moment in his career, Mike made nearly the same achievement at nearly the same time, albeit perhaps on a smaller scale.
Let's put this notion to the test shall we?
You may notice that—in terms of the important points—Richard and Mike are essentially equals in most ways. Of course we can be left to quibble over who is the better producer and musician, and clearly Richard has garnered more notoriety. But the fact remains that both are highly influential leftfield electronic artists who collaborated and drew inspiration from one another, helped build a scene, dabbled in curiously similar musical disciplines, and shared a career arc. One clear edge that Richard has over Mike is the release of the Selected Ambient Works duology. With this series, Richard was able to elevate his audience past the IDM crowd and into psych, prog, fusion and modern classical circles. Plenty of other artists were dabbling in ambient in the early and mid '90s (The Orb, The Future Sound of London, Global Communications, the FAX label), but Richard's angle was more purist, and it earned him the understood title of Brian Eno's successor among many and was greatly instrumental in establishing his cult following.
Mike has been releasing ambient music throughout his career as well. In fact, he's released exponentially more ambient music than Richard since Richard's release of SAW II in 1994. The difference is that Mike's ambient output has been sprinkled around evenly across his albums throughout his 20-year-plus career—a track or two here, a track or two there. Might the notoriety of the two have been more paralleled if Mike had been the one who focused his ambient efforts into SAW-style packages in the early '90s? It's worth pondering. In any case, I have compiled most of Mike's commercially available ambient work into a single playlist. Have a listen and hear for yourself how it measures up to SAW I and II: