Les aventures musicales de deux potes

Les aventures musicales de deux potes

mardi 25 juillet 2017

Who Is It ? #1 - Oliver Buckland (english version)

 Who Is It ? is a new feature of this blog, in which we'll introduce to you unknown or underrated artists. This 1st edition will focus on the young british classical & electronic composer Oliver Buckland. I will guide you through the chronological discovery of his complete discography as presented in his soundcloud, between modern classical music and smart and fun eletronic music. 

Electronic beginnings (2013-2014)

  The first tracks delivered by Oliver mixed classical influences with an IDM reminiscent of Autechre ("Glitch Test", first ever Buckland's soundcloud track). We can also hear classical pieces full of glitches like "Distorsion" - just imagine Wendy Carlos playing a Bach piece for Warp and you'll be pretty close to the result. Tracks like "irregular-blips", will remind you Aphex Twin's most melodic and peaceful works. The first collection of music, Bodies, mixes with success cheesy, catchy and rythmic electronic music to vocal jazz samples, bleeps, industrial ambient music, and hip-hop beats in a very melancolic mood.

  After this very electronic period, hearing a lot of piano between the broken beats of "cloudburst" brings a nostalgic depth and an organic feeling to the track, taking a similar path than some Thom Yorke solo works. The pure ambient music of "Mall Ambience" fascinates and obsesses you. The rythm of "irregular_triplets" suprises, even if the sounds are kind of cheap and the structures foreseeable. But we really can feel that Buckland tries to catch the casual pop/electronic listener, please him/her and drag him/her into his music, to make him/her discover new kinds of musical expressions. This is best exemplified by the almost electro-pop "minutiae", which almost shares a common mood with the instrumental "Country" off australian pop band Empire Of The Sun's first album. The art of chopping beats is also very interesting, like on "Manual Stuttering"

  From this first period, between the numerous experimentations, some tracks fly higher than the rest. One of my favorites being "bleak", in which Buckland manages to mix orchestral grandeur with a sensitive piano, some electronic music, and vocal jazz samples full of soul.

Transition to a more acoustic music (2014 - 2015)

  The next period (2014-15) is marked by a transition to a music that incorporates more and more acoustic elements. The acoustic orchestration of "sanctum" gives a new depth to Buckland's music, but on the other hand it makes the sound design and the programmation seem a little outdated when we compare it to the high level of skill showed in the composition and the arrangement. This step towards acoustic music is relative, cf the very fun electronic piece "completely serious piece".

  But it's real, and it also can be heard through covers. Classical ones, but not only, but i'll talk about that later. First, there is the wonder piano interpretation of Rachmaninov's"Polichinelle", which moves me a lot. His take on Debussy's "Sarabande - Pour le Piano" de Debussy is also a good mean to Buckland to show his sensitivity with success. In a more intriguing way, his cover of the pop song "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here" by She & Him, is lovely.

  And concerning the very classical piece, "Cascada", it pushes the acoustic side even further. This composition amazes me because of its unforgettable melody, not so far from the first Walt Disney's films soundtracks, and it's inventive arrangements.

Buckland's mature style (2014-2017)

  The next years are marked by more EP and LP which allow Buckland to refine his style. The first LP, Ten, is made of ten mostly electronic tracks that can sound huge ("before"), and that add a lot of rythm to vintage samples ("glide & survey"). His music is as always, melodic, nostalgic and fun (the very beautiful "rapid_data_transfer", the moving "incision", sounding very 80s). Sometimes, pieces that are very classical in their composition sound like a form of very cinematic ambient pop ("nightspread"). The sound design and the production are a step further sophistication and pure beauty, like we can hear in the clear, rich and pure sound of the techno-like take "cryptocristalline".

  This album is followed by Twenty, which is even more refined. In point of fact, it contains some electro-pop masterpieces composed with this classical savoir-faire and a real science of arrangement and production, like the awesome "unknown", which sounds unique, between minimalism, vaporwave, synthpop and dub. This album is very easy to listen to, very melodic like in "mono" or in the modernized new wave mixed with classical of "the inside of tears". These melodies really stick. What makes this an easy listen is also the fun of tracks like "icosa", playing a classical piece with goofy synths à la Wendy Carlos, and of the almost Mr Oizo track "Microchip". And he has the courage to follow this fun piece by something as amazingly beautiful as "infirmary". You understood : this LP is very good.

  But outside of these two albums, EPs reveal other aspects of Buckland's music. The short project muzak is very interesting. Conceptually, it's pure vaporwave, and musically it's a success, with remarkable cuts like "stygia", "VHS Obituary" (which sound like remixed new wave) or the disturbing and visceral ambient-pop of "drifting" & "NIGHT MALL"

  In the same fashion, the EP This New Sea mixes in a very mature and masterful way samples, classical music (choral music, instrumental music) to the other genres that I've previously mentioned.

  Some of the isolated tracks of this period are very noticeable, like https://soundcloud.com/oliver-buckland/mysterious-preview/s-4EOjA and this one (sorry, the titles are like impossible to write down and I'm in a lazy mood). Or the remarkable and intense "Monolith", based on a virtuoso and moving piano play, or the orchestral and cinematographic "ICOSIKAITERA", and "scale". Or the very saddening composition for violin "Slant" and the ambiguous and spring-evoking piece "CYCLE", which is one of my favorites. 

  The covers are also very good, as always, like the very personnal take on "King For A Day" from Dave Brubeck, which manages to be very gay and very dark at the same time

  And as always, fun is not very far. From "livestock auctioneers have surprising rythm" (which could have fit into our humoristic guide to electro-country) to the choral fun of "Saint Waitrose", through the Oizo-like "Pinkover", mixing French Touch and honky tonk piano and classical arpeggio on a hip-hop beat. 

  And of course, you have the magnificent and essential "Pendent", about which Etienne has talked about in lenght here.

  I hope that this guide convinced you to go to his soundcloud discover some awesome deep cuts ! I also announce you that we'll publish more articles in English from now, starting from the Who Is It ? feature, and that we had the awesome opportunity to talk to Oliver Buckland in person about his music. His interview (our first ever) will soon be available on this blog. So.... See you soon !

Link to his soundcloud


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