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Nothing Is True, Everything Is Permitted: Wolfgang Voigt, Lawrence English, and Others Ponder the State of Ambient Music

In September of 1978, British singer, musician, artist, and record producer Brian Eno penned a short manifesto as an introduction to a new sound he had been exploring. "Over the past three years," he wrote, "I have become interested in the use of music as ambience, and have come to believe that it is possible to produce material that can be used thus without being in any way compromised." The compromise he referred to was the proliferation of Muzak, or any of "the products of the various purveyors of canned music" which Eno felt the need to distance himself from. He did this by coining the term "ambient music," and releasing a series of LPs dedicated to "building up a small but versatile catalogue of environmental music suited to a wide variety of moods and atmospheres." Ambient 1: Music for Airports launched the four-part collection that same year, and it would establish Eno as the godfather of a subtle and exploratory style of composition that he first touched on with 1975's Discreet Music. Read more » 

20 Questions: DJ Harvey Talks Surfing, Rock 'n' Roll, and the Meaning of Life

DJ Harvey (a.k.a. Harvey Bassett) has long been known for his eccentricity. The British DJ—who now lives as an expat in Los Angeles—has spent the better part of the past 20 years developing a reputation as one of the world's finest and most eclectic selectors. Although he's often associated with the disco revival of the late '90s and early '00s and is usually celebrated for his disco edits and ecstatic late-night Balearic moments, Bassett has also always had another side that's rooted in the rootsier end of '70s rock. Wildest Dreams, his new rock outfit, is the latest manifestation of that fixation, and the group's self-titled debut, which was released late last month by Smalltown Supersound, is a raucous trip through ripping guitar riffs and Led Zeppelin-style drums. Prior to a recent run of gigs in Europe, Bassett was able to take some time out to answer 20 questions for XLR8R about his favorite rock bands, his favorite places to dig for records, and his thoughts on the meaning of life. Read more » 

Bubblin' Up: Claude Speeed

Born and raised in the Edinburgh area and a long-standing member of Glasgow's celebrated LuckyMe collective, Stuart Turner has already racked up several musical lives. A past or present member of countless bands, most notably LuckyMe's resident 'synthetic rock' band American Men and the "99% imaginary" Russia ("we existed for five years and had loads of songs but only ever played two gigs"), the now Berlin-based artist has spent the past few years focusing on spectral electronics via his solo Claude Speeed project. The breadth of his musical abilities and interests suggests a childhood awash with music and classical training, but in reality, his early musical development was far less conventional. Read more » 

Dekmantel 2014: 10 Reasons the Amsterdam Festival Was One of the Year's Best

Last August, XLR8R hopped on a plane to Amsterdam to check out the inaugural Dekmantel Festival. At the time, our expectations were high, but we weren't quite sure what to expect; the line-up was certainly good, and the Dekmantel crew had a solid reputation, but launching a new festival, let alone doing it right, can be a rather difficult undertaking. Nevertheless, the first Dekmantel Festival was an unabashed success, which we detailed in our official review. Intimate in feel, well run, and marked by impeccable curation, the event felt truly special; more importantly, it set an incredibly high standard for the future. As such, we arrived in Amsterdam last week with high hopes, but also with a nagging worry that Dekmantel's 2014 might not live up to the promise of its predecessor. However, now that we've spent another three days at the wooded Amsterdamse Bos site just outside the city, it can be said with confidence that our trepidation was absolutely for naught. As it turned out, this year's Dekmantel was just as good, if not better than, the first. Read more » 

XLR8R's Top 20 Downloads of July

The month of July brought an eclectic mix of new tracks to XLR8R's Downloads section, with familiar names like Radio Slave (pictured above), Ulrich Schnauss, Gerd Janson, Lockah, and Kid Smpl all contributing quality efforts. A number of artists new to our pages also made an impact over the past month, delivering an impressive set of remixes and original tracks, some of which ultimately made for the most popular MP3s on the site. With the calendar turning the page to a new month, we've compiled the data and crunched the numbers, and can now present the full list of XLR8R's Top 20 Downloads of July. Read more » 

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