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TEXTURA:  A monthly publication of experimental and electronic music-related reviews & interviews.
Ontario, Canada
Reviewed by - Ron Schepper
December 2007

"Karl Jorgensen's OK Ikumi style could be described as James Figurine-meets-Solvent and, if that combination sounds appealing, rest assured you won't be disappointed by the thirteen ultra-melodic songs on his debut full-length, Spirits, either. Jorgensen's vocals, which resemble Jimmy Tamborello's (aka Dntel and James Figurine), are placed low in the mix which makes them recall Mistake Mistake Mistake Mistake  even more.  Jorgensen occasionally brings his sister Kari (The Boy Who Could Fly) along for the vocal ride, and the bright sparkle of her sweet voice forms a perfect complement to his restrained delivery (the two could even pass for Suzanne Vega and James Figurine when they team up for the irresistibly poppy duet "No Matter"). OK Ikumi's keyboard-heavy songs teem with captivating hooks, heartfelt lyrics, and, not unusual for the genre, an occasional vocoder. Jorgensen, like Solvent, doesn't smother the songs with overly-baroque arrangements but keeps things stripped-down and wholly synthetic ("Star Radio" even sounds like a Solvent title).

Though an occasional instrumental (e.g., "Reform") breaks up the vocal-based flow, one guesses that Jorgensen's heart lies a little bit more in the latter than the former.  "Relocation" starts out as a wonderland of arcade synths and handclaps before turning into a wistful ode to escape; likewise, an undercurrent of melancholy comes to the fore in "True Ghosts," especially when Jorgensen's whisper gives way to a pretty piano melody.  Packed with high-grade tunes like "Heart Not Stopping" and "The Common Good," Spirits is fresh and pure synth-pop bliss straight from Jorgensen's Provo, Utah bedroom."



THREE IMAGINARY GIRLS:  A Seattle-based website that showcases the great music of the Northwest to music lovers worldwide.
Seattle, Washington
Reviewed by - Gentle Rob
December 5, 2007

"Recently, it seems like dance fiends and indie kids alike have been dominated by a certain cohort of French electronic artists. My roommate has been to two Daft Punk shows in the last few months and he claims that said shows "melted his face off" with their combination of mashed up dance music and oversized pulsating LCD pyramids. Now don't get me wrong, I love French dance music and I love Daft Punk, but I think one has to admit that such music is a bombastic attempt to create a non-stop party. In contrast to this, newcomer OK Ikumi takes electronic music in another direction with his new album Spirits, creating electronic music on a much smaller, more personal scale. While Daft Punk has the ability to transform your bedroom into a dance floor, OK Ikumi is simply content leaving your bedroom as it is.

Spirits is the debut album from Karl Jorgenson, who has been creating music under the OK Ikumi moniker for the last few years. The music has been called dream pop or lo-fi and resembles the work of Jimmy Tamborello and Figurine in the way that it infuses electronic elements with strong melodies. However, while
there are similarities in forms between Figurine and OK Ikumi (particularly in the subdued vocals), the two seem to diverge in their subject matter. Figurine's music tends to emphasize the ways that technology can estrange us from one another (see James Figurine's "55566688833" for example); OK Ikumi, on the other hand, seems to be interested more in technology's emotive possibilities.

Opening track "Relocation" is illustrative of this. The song starts out with a simple repeating sample and then organically builds up the melody, weaving keyboard lines on top of one another. As the female (Kari Jorgensen of The Boy Who Could Fly) and male vocals combine, they speak of moving. However, they do not moan that the city life is alienating them from one another, but simply only desire to be in a place where they can be together. In a later duet between the two on the album, "No Matter," the two speak of the dichotomy of the city vs. country. Again they emphasize that external circumstances aren't nearly as important as the relationship between individuals.

The emotional content is really the strongest aspect of Spirits. Songs like "Star Radio" and "True Ghosts," which could have been easily transformed into dance hall thrashers, are instead grounded with subdued instrumentation and tempos, thus allowing the soul, or "spirit" of the song to come out. That is not to say that there isn’t any dancing going on the album. In homage to a disco romance, "Heart Not Stopping" could easily be pumped at any hipster dance party. However, OK Ikumi's use of simple instrumentation makes the song more suited for mix tapes for loved ones.

The album ends with "Spirits," which is arguably the best song on the album, and possibly the best song
that OK Ikumi has ever written. Here, all the best elements of Karl's music are put forth: the sampler lays down a drumbeat that is aggressive but not overbearing. The layers of keyboards create an atmosphere that is spooky yet inviting. The vocals are hushed and haunting yet still warm. Yet again, Karl is bringing together two elements that are usually mutually exclusive: electronics and emotion,
and the results are beautiful.

One of the most exciting elements of the album is also its deficiency: Spirits is OK Ikumi's first album. Many of these songs have been culled from previous recordings and writing that has gone on over the years. This results in a track listing which often feels uneven. Instrumental dance songs like "Midnight" and "Reform" don't seem fit in as well with some of the more delicately constructed tunes that are on the album. However, these are things that an artist learns through experience, and the remaining tracks on Spirits show a great deal of promise for an artist who I hope will be
rocking my bedroom for years to come."



AUTRES DIRECTIONS
:  Our favorite French Web Zine, Radio Broadcast, and Record Label focusing on independent music around the world.
Nantes, France
Reviewed by -  Denis
February 1, 2008


(in French)
"Derriere ce pseudonyme particulierement abscons, se cache Karl Jorgensen qui, comme son nom ne l'indique pas, est un jeune homme venant d'une petite ville de l'Utah. A n'en pas douter, un garcon jovial, baigne aux sons de l'indie-pop americaine mais qui a du lorgne aussi vers la scene electro-pop europeenne et particulierement allemande. Ainsi donc Spirits s'affiche comme un chouette condense entre d'une part une structure classique couplet/refrain et d'autre part, un traitement electronique. Autrement dit, pas loin de DNTEL, Figurine, The Postal Service, Lali Puna, The Notwist et consorts. Soit un champ d'action bien balise et identifie. Mais apres tout qu'importe, tant ses compositions exhalent une fraicheur enivrante, revigorante, jouissive. Sur des rythmes synthetiques sautillants et jamais agressifs, Ok Ikumi tisse des petites ritournelles petries de melodies entrainantes, tandis que son chant distille une melancolie bleutee, appuye de choers feminins sensuels, en parfait contrepoint. Les chansons s'enchainent ainsi sans jamais faillir tout au long de ces 13 morceaux, entre mini-tubes pour se tremousser beatement et morceaux qui invitent plus a l'oisivete. Rien de bien neuf certes, mais avec son chouette habillage acidule et ses chansons "catchy", Ok Ikumi invite le soleil au milieu de la grisaille de l'hiver."


(Translated from French to English ... kind of!)
"Behind this pseudonym particularly abtruce lurks Karl Jorgensen which, as it name not indicated, is a young man from a small town in Utah.  Undoubtedly, a boy jovial filled with the sounds of American indie-pop, but that has also lorgne to the scene electro-pop and European particlarly Germany.  Thus Spirits appears as a nice condensed between on the one hand a conventional structure verse / chorus and on the other hand, electronic processing.  In other words, not far from DNTEL, Figurine, The Postal Service, Lali Puna, The Notwist, and others.  Either a scope well marked or identified.  But after all, what differnece does it make, as his compositions exhale intoxicating fresh, invigorating, juicy.  On sautillants synthetic rhythms and never agressive, OK Ikumi weaves small ditties petries entertaining melodies, while his singing distilled melancholy blue, supported sensual female choirs, in perfect counterpoint.  The songs are edited together without ever compromising throughout these 13 tracks, between mini-tubes for tremousser beatement and pieces that invite further idleness.  Nothing nine, but with his owl tart dressing and his songs "catchy," OK Ikumi invited the sun in middle of the greyness of winter."


POP MATTERS
: An international magazine of cultural criticism broadly cast on all things pop culture.
Evanston, Illinois
Reviewed by - Adam Bunch
December 13, 2007


"OK Ikumi (a.k.a. Utah's Karl Jorgensen) is a band in the business of beeps and bleeps, electronic squiggles and crunchy bass synths.  They pull together to form gentle, dancy little pop tunes, with lyrics as wistful as the record's opening line would suggest ("Let's all move the forest," Jorgenson sings faintly, his vocals buried, as usual, in the mix).  The result is a debut that's slight and charming, polished and upbeat."


NORMAN RECORDS:   Infamous and well respected Mail Order company in the UK
Leeds, United Kingdom
Reviewed by - Brian
November 2007

"I'll finish with an album on Blue Bell records, a Sacramento, CA based label who I recall offered some quality twee-ish indie stuff years back when I was still cutting my teeth at Norman HQ.  This baby is by OK Ikumi and goes by the name of 'Spirits'.  Now all that I can think of here is The Postal Service, Magnetic Fields and Casiotone FTPA.  It's blissfully melancholic music that is clearly aimed at the sad eyed romantic who finds soul in simple casio pop and bedroom electro beats.  I've heard this kinda thing many a time but it never bores me remotely because when it's stuffed with this much soul, delicious melody and joyful yearning I may as well weep into my pillow because the wheel of quality indie pop keeps brutally turning on the fringes of the underground.  That's where you'll find your music to delight and inspire. There you discover Uncle Norman and his nephews who will always endeavour to bring you the best from around the globe.  A lovely album is this, so if those casual references I've mentioned are your bag then believe me, this will delight you to no end!!!"



















XLR8R:  Accelerating music and culture
San Francisco, California
Reviewed by - Selena Hsu
April 2004 - Issue 76

"Here's a pretty little bag of jellybean electronica from Blue Bell, a new label spun off from Darla Records.  The 17 tracks of perky micro-pop collected here range from the softly charge glow of Marumari's "Casium" to Hausmeister's dorky-cute bop, "Ruben," from the chimes of "Good Morning, Amanda" to Greg Davis's tangled guitar and harmonics.  Hear You Soon contains tantalizing tastes here that'll
make you greedy for more."


THE SACRAMENTO BEE:  Northern California news & information
Sacramento, California
Reviewed by - Rachel Leibrock
March 7, 2004

"Awash in a cacophony of pretty beats and blips, Blue Bell Records' debut release, "Hear You Soon: Part One," is a lovely collection of 17 previously unreleased electronica tracks from artists around the globe - including several local acts such as Tycho .. and Lifeliner+.

The disc opens with a remixed track from the U.K.-based band Figurine; "Way Too Good" is an icy, yet intriguing slice of relationship anxiety as voiced by James and Meredith Figurine.  I Am Robot and Proud's "Circuit Breaker, Line Noise Faker" is dreamily engaging.  hollAND's "I Steal and Do Drugs" is like Electroclash-lite (not a bad thing), and "Metaluna," a track from Manchester's 808 State gives the disc a cheeky, all-night-on-the-dance-floor vibe.  Other standout tracks include the soft, ambulant-paced "Good Morning, Amanda" by Greg Davis and Blue Ribbon's melancholy "Eagles Fly."  Overall, the music on "Hear You Soon" comprises artful tunes that implore the listener for repeated play until every last note is absorbed."


RES:  Awesome magazine dedicated to art, film, culture, and music
New York City, New York
Reviewed by - Jesse Ashlock
February 19, 2004

"When you used to murmur "Calgon, take me away," did you ever wonder where you might go? Whatever strange magical land it might have been, the soundtrack to your trip would surely be Hear You Soon.  This inaugural release from the fledgling Sacramento label Blue Bell Records, this compilation offers a collection of clean, bright compositions that highlight the diversity of today's indietronica movement.

Meandering, dreamy and occasionally very melodic, Hear You Soon covers a ton of ground, from Figurine's deadpan electro-pop to Marumari's bucolic abstractions to Greg Davis' ascetic electro-acousticism.  But there's certainly a family resemblance among the album's contributors -- who also include Technicolor, I Am Robot And Proud, HollAnd, Sybarite, Freescha and 808 State (!), among others -- which gives the compilation a satisfying coherence.

Hear You Soon is certainly an auspicious beginning for the label, offering a playful and unassuming brand of musical intelligence and futurist beauty that makes for pleasant living and gentle dreams."


SCRATCH:  Our favorite Canadian Distribution company, Record Store, Record Label, &
all around awesome folks
Vancouver, Canada
Reviewed by - Sean
January, 2004

"A seriously fun electronic pop/IDM/ambient techno/robot music compilation from this new label run by an ex-Darla employee named Faith. She has assembled this compilation with a fan's perspective, boasting this is the sunshine electronic mix-tape you don't have to make because she has made it for you right here. Catchy and engaging start to finish, I cannot disagree.

All exclusive material and mixes from such notables as Marumari (Carpark), Figurine (Blackbean & Placenta, March), hollAnd (Darla, Pulcec, Temporary Residence), Greg Davis (Car Park, Staalplaat), 808 State (Shadow, ZTT, Cleopatra), Hausmeister (Karaoke Kalk), I Am Robot And Proud (Catmobile), Freescha (Attack 9), Aarktica (Silber, Darla) vs. Aaron Spectre, Sybarite (4AD, Temporary Residence), Technicolor (Darla, Fuzzy Box), Lullatone (Audio Dregs).
The flow and continuity of this collection is so strong that listeners in the office were astonished to discoverer it was a compilation. For fans of Land of the Loops, Girlsareshort, Suction Records, etc."


GROOVES:  Blue Bell's favorite electronic music magazine
Vorhees, New Jersey
Reviwed by - Daphne Carr
April 2004 - Issue 13

"With Hear You Soon, Blue Bell Records enters the world as a promoter of West Coast electro pop, minimal house, naive ambient, and chill out not unlike the output of label owner Faith Wolfram's former employer, Darla.  A stable of Blissout-style stars sends off the label with a cast of songs that come together like a guitar-shy indiepop mix tape.  Wolfram herself is billed as F+N=R0B0T, working with JUN0B0T on a wavy 80's synth interlude that serves as bridge between a mediocre 808 State track and Blue Ribbon's Kraftwerk-style nostalgia pop on "Eagles Fly," a song whose frenetic chorus celebrates, "She writes her number on the back of my hand/646 is the area code/I'm gonna program her name in my telephone" --- reasserting that twee often sounds best over low-power keys.

A moment of organic intensity comes from Aarktica, who duels Aaron Spectre on a dark, slightly Eastern-melodied ambient track that expands above spaced-out percussion.  The best surprises on this eclectic comp come from I am Robot and Proud, Sybarite, and Technicolor, offering three lovely tracks inspired by the Morr Music roster.  Where I Am Robot does a cartoonish Luomo with understated brilliance, Sybarite offers a dub-meets-Tortoise vibe and Technicolor paints a lush, warbled, and gauzy, if meandering, Phonem vibe.  If Wolfram can coax full-length brilliance out of these comp favorites, the bedroom electronica movement might have another contender."


SACRAMENTO NEWS & REVIEW:  Sacramento's best alternative paper
Sacramento, California
Reviewed by - Jackson Griffith
January 29, 2004

"This compilation, the first release from local entrepreneur Faith Wolfram's new label Blue Bell, seems to spring from an aesthetic framework staked out by a couple of pivotal Brian Eno releases from the 1970s (Another Green World and Before and After Science), along with German group Kraftwerk's records from that period, and moves forward from there. The 17 tracks, which include international, relatively well-known acts (808 State) and local ones (Tycho, whose “Dream as Memory” is sublime; Lifeliner+; and Wolfram's own F+N = Robot), tend toward a haunting consonance rooted in 1980s-1990s minimalism. Some tracks come with vocals, others are purely instrumental, and a few are hybrids. Overall, the listening experience makes for perfect headphone music for sleepwalking through public places."


POP MUSIC:  Fun music reviews from Japan
Tokyo, Japan
Reviewed by - Dela
May 2004

(Translated from Japanese to English)
Appraisal:  * * * * *
"The debut from the new label which becomes the Blue Bell Records. " The Little Darla has - " of the generally known Darla the series we would like to see, the framework of the label it is not I Ro I Ro, it is the ??? which recorded the unpublished sound source of unit. But ?? even unexpectedly luxurious face. I AM Robot And Proud, Marumari, Hausmeister, Figurine and Greg Davis, Sybarite, Technicolor, Freecha, Lullatone and 808state (!) And so on and so on. Also the nameless unit which probably is Blue Bell Records post to in addition to participates some group, (it does not do tune as expected still in a flash, it is is but).

As usual, music of the I AM Robot And Proud of unique tone shining, the ? it is is, but don't you think? privately we like the tune of the Sybrite. Unit of the person who did the drum at the time of re-formation of the Silver Apples. It put out even from the in the past 4AD, comparatively, it meaning that degree of distinction is low, especially it was not heard, however it is is, it is medium ? feeling I I music with the electro- Ni mosquito which power comes out. After floating clearly in face, it is the ? 808state, but this recording tune I I is is in some air, don't you think?. As for such dramatic change it is not done sound, however it is is, (laughing), becoming tune more minimal, it increases. Saying from the rear sound quality, in some air later it has done in the laptop kana? The Bomb The Bass and recently approaching to electro- Ni mosquito direction, it increases, but 808 in the future come unexpectedly with such feeling, it is probably will be?

Although so, the fact that you admire with this ???, being the face which this at first glance is visible disjointedly in some air, the tone which music has muscle passing over the whole the ? it is is don't you think?. The generally known ?? it is and it is not the glitch noise which is not the Vogt Ro Ni mosquito, but like laptop type. There is no either post lock element. It is not the house. To the last, striking included was centered, music of the " electro- Ni mosquito ". Is the ??? delicate line, however it is is, something this standardized impression is strange." 


AUTRES DIRECTIONS: Radio Broadcast, Web Zine, Record Label
Nantes, France
Reviewed by -  Stephane Colle
March 2004

(French)
"En ces heures ou l'hiver se laisse transpercer des rayons d'un soleil o combien heureux, qu'il est dur de resister a la premiere reference de Blue Bell Records, cette compilation Hear You Soon de tendre electropop acidulee. Basee a Sacramento, la jeune structure beneficie de l'experience de sa fondatrice, Faith, echappee de l'equipe de Darla records. Ainsi, le tracklisting de cette compilation d'inedits, mise en artwork par monsieur E*Rock et Mumleboy en personnes, est une sorte de reve eveille.

En introduction, nous y retrouvons avec joie le Way Too Good de Figurine (extrait de leur album The Heartfelt) dans une version exclusive et dansante (presque uniquement rythmique et vocale).  Et le superbe Casium dans la grande tradition de notre estime Marumari. Alceria est une collaboration d'Aarktica et du DJ Aaron Spectre (Claireaudience Collective new-yorkais), et associe breaks et murs de guitare dans une ambiance plus suspecte que les jolies contrees musicales abordees precedemment. Ce n'est qu'une transition car I Am Robot And Proud est de la partie et nous gratifie d'une ritournelle synthetique et beats bon marche. Encore plus 80's, hollAnd et son I Steal And Do Drugs (Mixed) pousse nos hanches a remuer betement, avant que 808 State mette carrement le feu aux poudres avec un titre de techno un poil acid. On recupere sur l'organique et romantique instrumental de F+N = Robot (second artiste maison, le F est-il pour Faith ?), avant de craquer pour l'electro pop lo-fi et tubesque de Blue Ribbon. Puis Hausmeister nous amuse de ses gimmicks qu'il empile autour d'une melodie de guitare, avant que Greg Davis ne nous offre une parenthese enchanteresse, veritable mini symphonie, de quoi piaffer d'impatience alors que son second album est pret a sortir via Carpark. Sybarite nous raveille alors avec Chewing Gum & Polaroids,
composition assez neutre en fait, mais qui recele quelques bruits perturbant notre ecoute. Technicolor joue plus sur les aquarelles, avant de lancer ses tempos hip hop, non sans evoquer Boards Of Canada pendant les quatre minutes restantes. Plus abstrait, a son habitude, Freescha inspire bien des mysteres derriere ses nappes et ses bleeps. Enfin, la jolie marche se referme sur un Ballet Recital de Lullatone en forme de boite a musique, petit instant de merveilleux et de bonheur.

Comme ces lampes qui tournent a cote du lit des enfants la nuit. Projetant lunes et etoiles qui tourbillonnent sur nos murs intimes."

(Translated from French to English ... kind of!)
"In these hours where l'hiver leaves to pierce itself rays d'un sun o how much happy, qu'il is hard to withstand the first reference of Blue Bell Records, this compilation Hear You Soon to stretch tangy electropop.  Based to Sacramento, the young structure benefits from l experience of his founder, Faith, escaped from l'equipe of Darla records.  Thus, the tracklisting of this compilation d'inedits, put in artwork by mister E*Rock and Mumleboy in persons, is a dream sort awake.

In introduction, we there rediscover with joy the Way Too Good of Figurine (extracts of their album The Heartfelt) in an exclusive version and dancing (almost uniquely rhythmic and vocal).  Follows to the superb Casium in the big tradition of our esteem Marumari.  Alceria is a collaboration d'Aarktica and DJ Aaron Ghost (new Collective Claireaudience yorkais), and associates station wagons and guitar walls in a mood more suspects than the pretty musical approached regions previously.  This n'est qu'une transition for I'S Am Robot And Proud is on the part and we favor dune ritournelle synthetic and inexpensive beats.  Again more 80's, hollAnd and his I Steal And Do Drugs (Mixed) pushes our hips to stir stupidly, before 808 State puts straight the fire to the powders with a title of techno a hair acid.  One recovers on l'organique and instrumental romantic of F+N = Robot (second artist house, the F is it for Faith?), before cracking for pop l'electro trust it and tubesque of Blue Ribbon.  Then Hausmeister entertains us of its gimmicks that it piles up around dune melody guitar, before Greg Davis does not offer us a parenthesis enchantress, true mini symphonie, of what paw the ground d'impatience while his second album is ready go out through Carpark.  Sybarite awakens us then with Chewing Gum & Polaroids, composition rather neuter indeed, but that conceals some noises perturbing our listens.  Technicolor plays more on the watercolors, before launching its tempos hip hop, no without evoking Boards Of Canada during the four minutes remaining.  More abstracts, to his habit, Freescha inspires several mysteries behind its tablecloths and its bleeps.  At last, the pretty one walks closes itself on a Ballet Recital of Lullatone in forms can to music, small instant of wonderful one and of happiness.

As these lamps that turn next to the bed of the children harms it.  Projecting moons and stars that tourbillonnent on our intimate walls."


STYLUS:  Awesome reviews, articles, and information for music lovers
Brooklyn, New York
Reviewed by - Ron Schepper
May 3, 2004

"Hear You Soon is the premiere outing from Sacramento, California-based Blue Bell Records and, in keeping with the locale, its style of melodic electronic pop is suitably bright and sunny. The compilation's musical style aligns it with established precursors like Audio Dregs, Suction Records, and Morr Music, all of whom receive nods of thanks in the liner notes. Its seventeen tracks are exclusives or mixes and include a satisfying mix of established artists (Marumari, Freescha, 808 State, Greg Davis) and newcomers,
some of whom show much promise.

There's not a rotten one in the bunch, although most of the pieces, while good enough, are neither spectacular nor groundbreaking. Marumari's inclusion is especially welcome, given its relative silence the past few years, but while the spectral "Casium" showcases the group's signature style of meandering synths and skittering beats, it's ultimately familiar ground, sounding like an extra from the Supermogadon sessions. Similarly, Freescha's "Making Oranges: Version" and Lullatone's "Ballet Recital" offer variations on their existing styles - a beatless reverie of incandescent washes and an innocent oasis of child-like melodies, respectively - which are again satisfying but not stunning. Two other high-profile artists impress more, to some degree because their contributions deviate from the compilation's overall sound. Much like Curling Pond Woods, Davis's bucolic "Good Morning, Amanda" evokes day's beginning with tinkling bells and chimes, signifying a gradual awakening with a gently plucked acoustic guitar, and grows denser with the addition of harmonium and shakers. In obvious contrast to Davis's folk leanings, Manchester's 808 State dons its Cologne techno garb with the slamming beats and touch-tone melodies of "Metaluna", and even offers
subtle allusions to "Autobahn" with its ascending synth motif and two-note surges that suggest cars racing past. Other artists offer variations on melodic synthpop, whether it be  I Am Robot And Proud's willowy "Circuit Breaker, Line Noise Faker" or F+N=Robot's "Learning a Bicycle," distinguished by a looping harp motif. Ringing cymbals and hushed vocals give Aarktica vs. Aaron Spectre's brooding "Alceria" a shoegazing ambiance, while hollAnd pairs a Blondie beat and querulous synth melodies in the classic New Wave of "I Steal And Do Drugs (Mixed)".

The comp's three strongest tracks, though, come from Figurine, Tycho, and Blue Ribbon, the latter two newcomers. Figurine's sumptuous electropop "Way Too Good (2 Good Mix)" opens the set with a stuttering vocal hook ("Insecurity") and then adds a delectable vocal harmony to rinky-dink organ and snapping drum beats. Tycho's "Dream As Memory" pairs vocal murmurs and snaking bass lines into a dreamy concoction, and the soaring "Eagles Fly" by Blue Ribbon distills breezy vocals and massed synth banks into five minutes of New Wave electropop bliss. All told, Hear You Soon registers as an auspicious label debut and a satisfying set that bodes well for its sequel. Admittedly, it hews fairly closely to templates already established within the
melodic electronica genre (by the likes of Morr Music) but its new recruits show they're certainly capable of breathing some new life into it."




















SACRAMENTO NEWS & REVIEW
:  Sacramento's best alternative paper
Sacramento, California
Reviewed by - Dennis Yudt
February 24, 2005

"From the mid-1980s to the early 1990s, Sacto had a kickin' techno-dance scene. That said, if you're reminiscing about scooting in your parachute pants to Yaz, then I'm talking to you. Blue Ribbon is a quartet from Providence, R.I., that plays classic synth-pop, and its debut CD, Another Time, proves it's a fine practitioner of the form. Musically and vocally, the band owes a big debt to 1980s Brit groups like OMD, Blancmange, Heaven 17 and especially Power, Corruption & Lies-era New Order, if fronted by Vince Clarke. "Eagles Fly," which debuted on Blue Bell Records' great Hear You Soon: Part 1 compilation, is a standout track with pensive vocals over pastoral hooks. "2012205" wouldn't be out of place on Brian Eno's Music for Films. So, which member of The Breakfast Club are you most like?"


GROOVES:  Blue Bell's favorite electronic music magazine
Vorhees, New Jersey
Reviewed by - Cameron Macdonald
Issue 16, January 2005

"If I were born in 1990 and only knew the 80's through what Hollywood, MTV, and Vice magazine taught me, Blue Ribbon would make me nostalgic for good times that never were.  This
Providence, RI synth-pop band's debut is best heard on sun-worn, third generation tape with the treble cranked up and played on an after-hours drive through the orange phosphate lights of suburban subdivisions.  On the surface, Blue Ribbon projects self-aware cliches of ironic detachment and hopeless sexual frustration through its robotic British accents, vague dirges, and awe-shucks melodies -- just like its beloved Human League.  Yet, there is still great soul and odd innocence in it all -- plus the three-man synth attack of analog Korgs and Rolands can drone the mind into a blissful, half-asleep state.  That effect just barely forgives the poetry and drama here.

Opener "Icicle" lays out the formula with new wave beats, smudged, synth-string melodrama, and verses mechanically repeated throughout the song's four-and-a-half minutes:  "She wouldn't go/She's an icicle."  "Eagles Fly" is a decent Modern English homage with melodies that first feel doubtful, see the Light and then reach an epiphany two bars later -- "I see the time/She sees the time tonight/I am the world she knows."  "And she claps her hands to me" (insert sassy handclaps).

By the time "Army Song" wears down the album's flow with same-old, same-old melodies and beats, the following "2012205" thankfully detours. This Boards of Canada-like instrumental is one long, analog drone that peers around from time to time with chord changes to see if there is anyone else in the room.  The other highlights include the punching-bag beats of "Lyra" and the peculiar duet of what sounds like Joy Division's Ian Curtis lamenting with Robert Smith on "Roll Your Eyes."


NORMAN RECORDS: Infamous and well respected Mail Order company in the UK
Leeds, United Kingdom
Reviewed by - Brian
April 1, 2005

"Fancy some dark new wave electro pop made by four indie aliens with a penchant for OMD, Human League & New Order amongst others?  Well you could do so much worse than invest in this here ace CD by Blue Ribbon.

This is 12 scorching tracks of synth genius with hooks & melodies from the gods.  The lyrics are of the occasionally twee & lovelorn variety sung in a hazy, detatched style over huge crashing waves of euphoric electro genius.

Warm & passionately crafted, this is simply a superb album, believe me.  So if you fancy hearing what The Field Mice covering 'Dare' by The Human League would result in . . . Buy buy buy!!!!"


REGEN MAGAZINE:  Nurtures creativity expressed through music, writing, photography and art
San Francisco, California
Reviewed by - Ilker Yucel
April 24, 2005

"What is it about the '80s that is so damn appealing? A large part of it has to do with the evolution of the synthesizer; while the technology has been evolving, there exists a feeling among many gearheads and electronic musicians today that the full range of sound possibilities has yet to be explored in those old analog synthesizers. These days, it seems like everybody is going back to the old analog synthesizers for inspiration, especially so in the EBM/futurepop scene, and more obviously in the electroclash scene. Artists like I, Synthesist, Celluloide, Ladytron, Fischerspooner, and wide array of others are returning to the days of Kraftwerk, Gary Numan, and early Front 242, using vintage equipment and reprising the simplicity of pop composition. Out of this '80s revivalism is Blue Ribbon.

With their album Another Time, the New York/Rhode Island quartet has put together a sugary sweet collection of upbeat pop songs, all based on the '80s synthesizer. Indeed, the majority of the band's equipment is vintage: the Roland Jupiter 6 and Juno 60, and the Korg MS-10 and Mono/Poly, the whole album is composed of those classic detuned square and saw sounds that defined the early synthesizer sound. Throw in some simple pop song structures, and some oddly robotic but strangely emotional vocals, and you would have the sound of Blue Ribbon. To look at the band, one might get the impression that they're just another indie band along the lines of Belle & Sebastian or Stereolab. While their songwriting is somewhat indicative of those bands, there is also a distinct sense of that classic '80s synthpop mentality. There is a resonance of Depeche Mode's first two albums, especially on the slightly melancholy "Army Song" and on the bouncy sugar pop of "Eagles Fly." "2012205 is fairly minimalist with its detuned pad progressions that show the quirky imperfections of those analog sounds, as well as the futurist soundtrack spirit of many electronic musicians. "Your Izod" is interesting with its slightly off beat out-of-sync arpeggios, while “Miami” plays as a slight mockery of the modern electronic scene with its sardonic lyric, "I know technology is good... and it's killing me / I was sucked into your computer screen... and it killed me."

Another Time has something for everybody. For the audiophiles and gearheads, this is a history lesson in just what the synthesizer used to mean, how far the instrument has come in the last two decades, and a reminder that sometimes technology is only as good as the emotion put into it. For those looking for that perfect pop song that will play the part of soundtrack to your love life, every song on Another Time could fill that role; the melodies are pretty saccharine, maybe even too sweet for comfort, but there's no denying that this is some quality synthpop, old school style. These songs can get stuck in your head, whether you like them or not; they are that catchy. The crisp production and mastering, a la Trevor Kampmann, also help to bring the nuances of sound in those old synths, while at the same time keeping the sound quality grounded in modern times. As part of the new retro, the boys in Blue Ribbon are making some good music to stand up to their peers. While this sound may simply be another fad fated to eventually die out like their '80s heroes, Blue Ribbon are at least making good on it and making sure to get you bouncing until then. "


METHOD MAGAZINE:  Awesome popular European Snowboarding Mag + DVD
Europe
Reviewed by - Florent de Maria
March 2006 (The DVD features the song "Radar" by Blue Ribbon)

"It's the second appearance for this band from the Big Apple.  Full of excellent songs, the album is popular, and it's not surprising.  The Synthpop and his evil drum machines will make you shake your body from your head to your feet.  Blue Ribbon, a survivor band from the past?


METHOD MAGAZINE:  Awesome popular European Snowboarding Mag + DVD
Europe
Reviewed by - Florent de Maria
January 2006 (The DVD features the song "Eagles Fly" by Blue Ribbon)

"First album published by Faith and Blue Bell.  Synth-pop with strong 80's accents, which will charm all the New Order and OMD fans.  Juno 60 and Jupiter at the helm, T.  Kampmann on mastering, let the new wave beat control your body."  


VERTICAL SLUM:  A treasure chest of musical curiosities
Columbus, Ohio
Reviewed by - Sean
May 2005

"Blue Ribbon's debut release, Another Time, may owe a lot to their many pop idols -- Human League, Thomas Dolby, Psychedelic Furs, Pet Shop Boys, Duran Duran, Hall and Oates, Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark, INXS -- but clearly stands on its own as a fluid collection of songs which actually have a greater range of textures, moods and pop hooks than the aforementioned bands could actually pull off in their heyday.

The surging chorus of "Icicle" is an infectious opening to the album; which rides the vocoder-laced lines "I saw you cry she said, she's an icicle / I asked her out last night, she wouldn't go" into the icy waters of Ride's epochal Nowhere. With a swelling hook which just melts atop the crisp drum intro, "Eagles Fly" seems to be one of those songs which was written for that single spot -- the third track which you always seem to go back to. While singers Steve Goodman and Jon Erikson don't stray far from the subject of jilted adolescent love, they do have soft and soothing voices which absorb into the mix beautifully.

Another Time is a surprising find; Blue Ribbon was able to, on their first outing, create a record which is a sharp contrast to the growing lot of self-conscious synth-pop revivalists. By the end of the album you will realize that Blue Ribbon do not seem too concerned at all with experimenting with the world of keyboard tones which lie at their fingertips. Instead they craft complex, sad, and really beautiful songs within a relatively simple formula. And I'll be damned if they did not succeed entirely. This is mesmerizing stuff, indeed."


AUTRES DIRECTIONS: Radio Broadcast, Web Zine, Record Label
Nantes, France
Reviewed by -  Stephane Colle
April 21, 2005

(French)
"Vingt ans apres que la pop anglaise ait fusionne avec l'electronique, Blue Ribbon delivre un album en forme d'hommage a l'electropop ou la guitare etait incisive, la basse chaloupee, la rythmique en forme de boîte et le chant desinvolte voire desincarne. Another Time, disque inscrit dans le passe, fera danser en ce debut d'annee, avec nostalgie qui plus est, tous ceux qui ont danse un jour sur du New Order, chante du The Cure, pleure sur du Depeche Mode, titube sur du Pet Shop Boys, prepare a manger sur The Human League... J'oublie OMD, et bien d'autres. Bref, Another Time de Blue Ribbon peut interesser potentiellement beaucoup d'auditeurs. Plus actuels, les fans de Figurine et de Other People's Children pourraient craquer sur ce son echappe du passe.

Mais aussi, base a NYC, Blue Ribbon ne se contente pas de faire un premier album en forme d’hommage, il s'impose egalement comme un excellent compositeur de ritournelles synthetiques fortement entetantes, ce qui est tout de meme la qualite essentielle que doit posseder tout groupe de synth-pop ! Le trio d'ouverture est un tube : le rentre-dedans Icicle, ce Another Time qui rappelle indefectiblement nous adores It's Immaterial, ou l'amusant Eagles Fly deja present sur la compilation Blue Bell Records. Your Izod et My Face revelent une face plus sombre du groupe, mais les singles dansants sont les plus forts (Miami, Roll Your Eyes...), faisant d'Another Time une entree en matiere absolument irresistible."

(Translated from French to English ... kind of!)
"Twenty years after pop English amalgamated with electronics, Blue Ribbon delivers an album in the form of homage to the electropop where the guitar was incisor, the low swaying one, the rhythmic one in the shape of box and the off-hand song even desincarne. Another Time, disc registered in the past, will make dance at this beginning of year, with nostalgia which more is, all those which danced one day on of New Order, sung of The Cure, cried over of Depeche Mode, staggered on Pet Shop Boys, prepared to eat on The Human League... I forget OMD, and well others. In short, Another Time de Blue Ribbon can interest potentially much of listeners. More current, the fans of Figurine and Other People' S Children could crack on this escaped sound of the past.

But also, based with NYC, Blue Ribbon is not satisfied to make a first album in the form of homage, it also imposes like an excellent type-setter of synthetic old stories strongly entetantes, which is essential quality all the same that must have any group of synth-pop! The trio of opening is a tube: returns-inside Icicle, this Another Time which points out indefectiblement adored us It' S Immaterial, or amusing it Eagles Fly already present on compilation Blue Bell Records. Your Izod and My Face reveal a darker face of the group, but individual dancing are strongest (Miami, Roll Your Eyes...), making of Another Time an absolutely irresistible introduction."