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Demoscene

A Dreamy Collaboration: Planet Boelex and Friends Present "Raja" (Review)

A Dreamy Collaboration: Planet Boelex and Friends Present “Raja” (Review)

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It’s been a long time since we’ve covered anything from the demoscene, but if you’re into dreamy electronic soundscapes, you definitely need to pay attention to this one.  Back in 2008 we covered a release from one of our favorite electronic artists, Planet Boelex, who had teamed up with vocalist Lisa’s Antenna for a vibrant 30-minute release titled Little World. It was an amazing release, and most of all, it was available for free.

Well, Planet Boelex is back with Raja, and he’s brought even more friends.  We get one track with Lisa’s Antenna which is much moodier than their collaborations on Little World, as well as a track with another of our favorite demoscene artists, Mikael Fyrek (you should really check out his A Thousand Years and One EP if you haven’t already), as well as demoscene legend Mosaik, who we interviewed last year.  It’s basically most of my favorite demoscene artists wrapped up into one cohesive release.

Find out what it has to offer in our review of Raja after the jump.

The album starts off with Boelex-only track, “Soft Shapes,” which is a warm and enveloping piece using Planet Boelex’s signature belltones, thick electronic bass notes, and gentle string swells.  The thing I appreciate most about this track is the mixing, as the percussion in particularl could have completely ruined the track with its harsh hats and wide snares, but they’re mixed in at such a low volume that they really let the soft layers of belltones, pads, and strings take charge.

Next up is the first collaboration track, “Not From Here,” featuring Lisa’s Antenna, and it’s an interesting one.  Lisa’s Antenna maintains the pitch of her voice in a very tight range, creating a repetitive and somewhat foreboding sound.  Planet Boelex’s background matches perfectly, adding a hint of danger with its descending progression and dissonant pads.  This is followed by “Suddenly,” Boelex’s collaboration with Mikael Fyrek.  Fyrek’s influence is immediately apparently, as his signature staccato synth leads come in to take the place of Planet Boelex’s belltones, but it isn’t long before the familiar bass and belltones make an appearance.  The style of these two really complement one another, and this is probably my favorite track here.

Boelex goes solo one more time with “New Beginning,” a heavier and more “cool” journey into his typical electronic soundscapes.  The bass and percussion plod along slowly and actually take center stage against the backing piano and pads, focusing more on a groove.  The final track, “Sailor’s Dilemma” works in acoustic guitar and additional loops from Mosaik, although I would admit that Planet Boelex’s ability to craft tasty electronic atmospheres is right up there with Mosaik, so it’s hard to tell who’s who for the most part.  Things do shift a bit when Mosaik’s acoustic guitar comes in, and Boelex makes room for it in the mix as it slowly fades in against the sound of waves crashing on the shore and a gentle synth lead that acts as a counter melody to the mesmerizing guitar work.  The track ends abruptly, jarring the listener out of the dream-like state that Planet Boelex and his friends have created. An interesting way to end the album, but I would have actually preferred a slow fade out in this case to carry me off to sleep after listening to the tracks here.

Planet Boelex is really a master of his craft, and the fact that he’s able to not only hold his own, but complement each of his skilled and in some cases “legendary” collaborators further demonstrates that he is one of the forefront artists in this scene.  As usual, this music is available to you for free, which still astounds me despite the fact that I’ve been followed this scene for over 10 years now.  It’s available for download from the Soft Phase Netlabel, and if you’re a fan of electronic music or are looking for something different, I can’t recommend checking it out enough.

Are you familiar with any of the artists featured on this release?  What do you think of stuff like this being produced and released for free?

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