Hidden Gems: Boreal Network, Betaphax, FKA Twigs, Primitive Radio Gods, & Wasted Youth Crew

In this monthly feature, guest contributor RJ Kozain (2020k) shares with us the latest sonic finds that have made themselves at home on his playlists — treasures perhaps not easily stumbled upon.  Look for our monthly round-up of favourites on 2020k, Northern Lights and feel free to suggest your treasures on Twitter or Facebook.

Hidden Gems is an infrasound series on this blog wherein I present to you my own random musical finds that I will subjectively pack into one combined blog entry. These gem entries are presented in hopes that these songs make their way from my playlist to yours. The majority of these releases are songs that’ve been dug up by surprise, that have taken me whole, and refused to let me go. It’s in promotion of music and the joy it brings.

Any genre, any timeframe, any artist.

I encourage you to follow these artists in whichever way you find convenient. I’ve placed their profiles here through embedding the featured song. While you’re at it, follow me through my own musical endeavors over at my official website; updated fairly recently with new unearthed (and recognized) projects, as well as original material, located here.

00. Vestron Vulture Vs. 2020k – Run in Circles

In the last installment of this series, a re-configuration of this song by Wet Eyes was made available for download. Now, you can download the original song as a 6 track EP (including the Wet Eyes remix) for free right here. Merry Christmas!

01. Boreal Network – Normal Hopeless Future

Seattle based electronic musician Boreal Network has been making some of the most instrumentally honest downtempo electronica for years and after a two year hiatus from a proper full length release, we’ve received a self-titled follow up to the 2020k acclaimed Means Business. “Normal Hopeless Future” throws weary synthesized melodies against an atmospheric background, turned alternative hip-hop when the beat drops. The nod to a darker landscape makes this track something Boards of Canada would maybe like to listen to in between recording, as it recalls their vibe, but freshly unique to the sonic discography Nicole Johnson has been steadily building for herself.

02. Betaphax – Mood

Throwing pad layers into the main structure of this song and EP, fifteen year old Betaphax brings morphing ambient emotion on the follow up to a September 2013 debut record. Over the span of five minutes, the song literally unfolds and blooms upon its build, before fading out, as if shutting his eye, and fading back in. The fades are extremely unique as this sort of production technique isn’t seen as much in the music world. Sure, there’s side-chain compression, fade-in’s and fade-out’s, but never something that’s literally a part of the bodily shape inside of itself. “Mood” is a stand out amongst the other tracks on Aeyaritec, but the entire name your own price EP is worth a spin.

03. FKA Twigs – Papi Pacify
(image featured above)

In a post-Trip-Hop world, the spectrum of artists pushing boundaries in the downtempo world on a large scale are slim to none. However, that doesn’t mean the pushing is non-existent. FKA is an acronym for Formerly Known As, which needed to be placed before the word Twigs as someone else already had the one word name. “Papi Pacify” from EP2 sends extreme Bjork and Lamb recollections to the mind, and the artfully provocative video is one of the more avant garde pieces to have been created in recent times. It’s also very Amel Larrieux if she decided to descend into the deeper subjects covered on her debut record Infinite Possibilities. We’re digressing. This is FKA Twigs and she’s one to keep watching.

04. Primitive Radio Gods – Standing Outside a Broken Phone Booth with Money in My Hand

Apparently this was a pretty popular song in 1996, but I was 5 years old so I’m going to leave this forgotten 90’s gem in this post and dare you to deny the goosebumps you get throughout this song, most notably at the “How Blue Can You Get” by B.B. King sample. If you know this one, go ahead and get nostalgic. If you don’t, well, you’re very welcome.

05. Wasted Youth Club –  WE C∆NT STOP

Before you judge, just understand that it’s our party and we can do what we want to. Wasted Youth Club take the lead Miley Cyrus single from her controversial Bangerz record through a trap-inspired fun house, recalling the likes of Crystal Castles and SALEM. Pitched down vocals call for drunken stupors* of nightmare proportions, in fact, the remix musically recalls the disintegration of Cyrus’s squeaky clean image. There’s also a normal pitched version of the song that is available as a b-side on the free download. Download can be obtained by clicking La-Da-Di-Da-Di.

*I needed at least one Rob Ford jab. Amber and I have been going back and forth on Twitter for months.

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