This brilliant topfive is a peek into the world of Dylan Khotin-Foote, Vancouver-based producer, one of the guys behind beloved Pacific Rhythm and Normals Welcome labels, where he recently released an EP with Project Pablo as Rest Corp. His New Tab album soundtracked a lot of our mornings last summer and it’s just one of the brightest ambient albums we ever heard. So, memories of childhood, soft textures, synthesizers and Japanese 7” included here.
Planet Ha Ha — Home 7″ [EMI, 1982]
First off I need to thank Jaz for this one. I’ve heard for the first time and now own so many great records thanks to his legendary mixes, and this record in particular has really stuck with me. Planet Ha Ha was comprised of Tony Mansfield from New Musik, his brother Lee Mansfield and Naked Eyes’ Rob Fisher. According to the story: EMI wanted them to record this single for the movie E.T, as well as an album’s worth of material that was recorded for another BBC Children’s show. But due to some kind of legal issues pending around “Home”, EMI delayed releasing the album and eventually the various members moved on to other projects leaving the recorded tracks in the archives. This single somehow still made it out there and it’s one of the weirdest and catchiest songs I’ve ever heard. Watch the skies now!
Александр Кальянов – Жена, Жена… LP [Sintez Records, 1991]
Thanks to my family’s Russian background, I go through phases of dedicating time to collecting all kinds of interesting Soviet Era as well as more current Russian records. I spent a lot of time as a kid being driven around in the back of my Grandma’s car and CD and tape compilations of Alexander Kalyanov’s music were always on constant rotation. He was fairly well known in Russia for his poppy, chanson style music and his super deep voice that was always entertaining for me as a kid. Most of his records are full of mostly cheesy tunes but the title track here which translates to “Wife, Wife…” is a big fave of mine. The karaoke style FM synth instrumental is amazing and the lyrics, a longing for his wife who presumably left him are very sincere and romantic! Check the amazing music video too!
Trouble Books – Gathered Tones LP [Bark And Hiss, 2010]
I first learned about Keith Freund’s music through his solo ambient work especially his Constant Comments LP from 2011. As a now-defunct duo called Trouble Books, he and his wife Linda Lejsovka, made one of my favourite albums ever. Gathered Tones is like a warm hug on a winter day. This album literally kept me going through a few depressingly cold winters back in Edmonton. Using soft, droning electronics and rolling guitar tones mixed with very intimate vocals they managed to make an album blurring the lines between pop and ambient music and it’s the perfect mix for me. It’s also one of the albums that really made me think about how certain synthesizer sounds are made and lead me to email them to find out what kind of gear they were using. Keith actually ordered “New Tab” from my Bandcamp recently which was a super cool and surprising moment for me! I’m a huge fan.
Shintaro Sakamoto – Don’t Know What’s Normal 7″ [Other Music Recording Co., 2013]
I can’t remember how I found out about this one but I can definitely imagine a big part of it had to be the amazing artwork, which according to the credits is illustrated and designed by Shintaro Sakamoto himself. He was a founding member of Yura Yura Teikoku, a well known psych band based in Tokyo who were together from 1989 to 2010. Shortly after disbanding, he started releasing his idealistic but self aware take on pop music. Aside from the artwork, the title track on this 7″ is my favourite song by Shintaro. Impeccably produced and has kind of a Stereolab vibe to it.
Les Halles & Magnétophonique – Split II Cassette [Carpi Records, 2013]
I decided to include a tape in my picks, hopefully that’s not against the rules. This is by far the most played cassette tape in my collection since it’s release in 2013. Les Halles & Magnétophonique are two guys from France who ran the label Carpi Records (it seems to be inactive since 2015). Les Halles has been fairly active over the last couple years and has put out another really good tape on Constellation Tatsu and an LP on Not Not Fun. But this tape still takes the cake for me. Their take on ambient music is my favourite blend of woozy hypnagogic synths, mysterious samples/field recordings and pretty melodies. Despite the mass amount of listens, this tape still never gets old for me. I could only find one song uploaded to Youtube but you can download this release as well as their entire catalog for free on Bandcamp and while you’re there you might find an old ambient tape of my own that they released on their label a few years back. It’s under a different alias but it shouldn’t be too hard to find!
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Texts Khotin. Photos Lindsay.