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MICHAEL SANTOS - THE HAPPY ERROR

Reviews



Sefronia (FR) - February 2010
Text by Hugo Catherine
http://www.sefronia.com/album/michael_santos/the_happy_error.htm

"The happy error" ne révolutionne pas l'electronica mais Michael Santos, ne tombant jamais dans l'expérimentation facile et aride, présente ici une belle matière sonore, claire et scintillante. Le compositeur maintient les fréquences, les volumes et la densité à un niveau toujours supportable, et crée ainsi une forme d'harmonie contenue. Les saturations sont maitrisées, les sons parasites caressés, les craquements emmitouflés. Avec ses petits éclats de sons, Michael Santos dompte une matière agile et glissante.

Les morceaux donnent l'impression de pouvoir se prolonger à l'infini. Sur "Swing deluxe", le mouvement est lourd et enveloppant. Le minimalisme n'est pas ici dans l'économie des sons mais dans la retenue. Ainsi, "Supercolour", peut-être la piste la plus aboutie, consiste en un éparpillement de tintinnabulements. En creux, ceux-ci laissent apparaître un beat discret, impulsant un allant certain. Au bout de quatre ou cinq morceaux, nous approchons une belle unité créative : entre élévation et tension, "Hopefully Helsinki" est un subtil arrangement de nappes claires et de grincements permanents. Les transitions entre les morceaux sont parfois à peine perceptibles. Paupières tombantes, nous sommes hypnotisés par une matière s'intensifiant puis se ramollissant.

Malgré quelques interférences plus agressives et plus sombres, avec "Upper cosh" notamment, l'impression d'extrême luminosité prédomine, à la limite de l'aveuglement. Sans agression subite, sans agression subie, "Returning champion" ressemble à des battements d'ailes dans le ciel. (8/10)


L'Oreille de Moscou (FR) - June 2009
Text by Manooch
http://loreilledemoscou.canalblog.com/archives/2009/06/24/14187665.html

L'Anglais Michael Santos sort The Happy Error sur le très pointu label français de musique expérimentale et électronique Baskaru (Yoshio Machida, Lawrence English).

Une sorte de carte postale envoyée d'une contrée que lui seul connait. Une missive qui ne nous renseignerait que sur l'atmosphère qui règne là-bas : des ambiances tomenteuses, englobantes dans lesquelles se lover seraient une coutume locale.

Sans plus de détails, on part voir ce qui se trame dans ce pays fantasmé qui se révèle n'être en fin de compte que l'ouvroir du sieur Santos, fait de vagues flux sonores calmes et nébuleux. En place dans cet endroit sans paroi, rien moins qu'un coin de cerveau à ciel ouvert qu'on nous laisserait librement arpenter, la musique fait son oeuvre, en onze titres ambients aux consonances mélodiques faites d'accidents numériques et de triturages d'instruments par ordinateur interposé. Elle s'entremêle calmement à nos membres, et en autant de ramifications synaptiques vient par immixtion télescopique coloniser notre propre cortex.

Faisant alors corps et âme avec les lieux, l'ouvrage de l'artiste se révèle être plus intrusif que prévu; la peur de ne pouvoir s'en défaire gagnant, on craint d'avoir fait une erreur en ayant répondu à la bafouille de notre hôte, pour en arriver à l'évidence que si on s'est trompé ce n'est que pour quelques minutes de bonheur supplémentaire.
Et plutôt que de cracher dans la soupe, on s'apaise et on remet le disque dans la platine, encore et encore.


Stereo & Video (RU) - May 2009
Text by Sergey Oreshkin
http://www.stereo.ru

Stereo & Video, May 2009


Exclaim (CA) - April 2009
Text by Romina Wendell
http://exclaim.ca/musicreviews/generalreview.aspx?csid2=848&fid1=36990&csid1=131

In a pleasingly understated way, The Happy Error's percussive elements are born from its soft electrical crackles and hisses. Its subtle melodies emerge from delicate harmonic shifts, and all the atmospheric whirs, pops and drones envelope its melancholic character in a gently fluctuating audio field. While The Happy Error does skim the thin border between cinematic ambient and mood-enhancing sound art, there is surprising warmth to all the atmospheric glitch. Michael Santos's embrace of the less-is-more aesthetic allows his digitized stream to successfully transcend its circuit board womb. Rising above mere lullabies for androids, The Happy Error emerges somewhat musically undefined but is both intimate and ultra-soothing to the human ear.


DJFIX + Raves.com (US) - April 2009
Text by Kristofer Upjohn
http://www.djfix.com/cdreviews/show/478/MICHAELSANTOS-THEHAPPYERROR
http://www.raves.com/cdreviews/show/556/MICHAELSANTOS-THEHAPPYERROR

Low-key glitch bliss descends from the realm of nirvana with this ambience-out-the-wazoo release. A smooth journey through a field of stars and satellites ensues as atmosphere wraps its loving arms around you. Bits of radio transmission confetti (best description I can offer you, folks) sparkle across the soundscape in what is a brilliant musical understanding of mystical nothingness - emptiness as substance. Not that Santos had that idea in mind, but it seems an apt description. The sparse spaces of this CD, injected with flecksings of texture, make for a quite substantial and absorbing listen that brings oneness to fruition in your damn ears. Go enjoy it. Hope you find your way back from this incredible journey. (4.5/5)


EtherReal (FR) - March 2009
Text by Fabrice Allard
http://www.etherreal.com/spip.php?article3027

Il s'agit là du premier véritable CD du jeune Anglais que l'on aurait pu croiser sur des CDr parus chez Benbecula ou encore U-Cover avec leur série CDr Limited. En l'occurrence, on découvrira cet artiste avec The Happy Error, un joli titre sous forme d'hymne aux glitchs, ces erreurs numériques qui donnent du grain à toute une vague de productions électroniques.

La musique de Michael Santos est d'une douceur enveloppante, composée de strates mélodiques, fines et subtiles, de nappes soyeuses, de notes tenues, d'oscillations frétillantes, le tout étant enrobé de fins grésillements donnant une impression générale de sérénité et de riche activité. Dans le genre on arrive à des sommets avec Swing Deluxe : magnifique boucle mélancolique et hypnotique, et bruitages évoquant des feuillages et branchages que l'on repousse en s'avançant tout en donnant l'impression parfois de figer le temps. Troublant !
Chaque titre possède sa propre teinte, un peu plus coloré sur Balloon et ses sonorités glissantes et ludiques pour un résultat un peu moins ouvertement ambient, virant vers des tons pastels sur Supercolour avec un son plus clair, un fourmillement de bleeps abstraits qui, jouant sur la répétition deviennent addictifs, donnant même envie de battre la mesure malgré l'absence d'une réelle rythmique.
On notera quelques titres un peu plus abstraits que l'on considérera comme des interludes (Ajax, Bamboo Scaffolding) qui marqueront certainement moins les esprits, composés avec une délicate timidité et dissociant les composants mélodiques et bruitistes alors que l'album semble reposer sur leur fusion. D'une certaine manière ces quelques essais sur courte durée annoncent des morceaux comme Big Shifty ou Local, moins immédiats avec leurs nappes linéaires, plus abstraits et arides mais non moins envoûtants. Dans le genre aride on notera enfin Upper Cosh qui est d'abord construit sur le bruit, denses crépitements minéraux avant que des nappes oscillantes ne viennent créer une certaine tension.

Quelle qu'en soit la teneur, qu'il soit tour à tour mélodique, abstrait, granuleux, The Happy Error est un petit bijou d'orfèvre, fin, précis, dessinant un univers sensible et poétique. (7/8)


Leicester Bangs (UK) - February 2009
Text by Willsk
http://www.leicesterbangs.co.uk/feb09-34.html

Baskaru is a French independent label that promotes music / sound, where the emphasis is on the electronic. Incorporating musique concrete, sonic exploration, acoustic / electric hybridisation and acous-matic sound, Baskaru limits it's output to a select few per year.

Santos uses guitar or sine wave as melodic starting points which are then worked with software manipulation. The album is named after the “accidents” that emanate from digital treatments, which Santos incorporates into his own work. The pieces are sometimes allowed space to flow and swathe (“Swing Deluxe” and “Bamboo Scaffolding”), sometimes they are lush and dreamlike (“Returning Champion”) and sometimes abominably overloaded (“Local”). Whichever the emphasis “The Happy Error” is brimming with computer code.


All About Jazz / Italia (IT) - February 2009
Text by Luca Vitali
http://italia.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=3675

Michael Santos, giovane artista londinese, dopo Matters e Soft Pocket - usciti rispettivamente per Bebencula e U-Cover - pubblica questo splendido Happy Error per la altrettanto giovane e sperimentale Baskaru.
L'etichetta, sebbene attiva da poco, ha un catalogo molto interessante e si spera possa offrire a Santos una visibilità e una distribuzione maggiori.

Rispetto ai precedenti lavori, costruiti con registrazioni di suoni sul campo, questo album segna una vera svolta verso il digitale puro, sonorità costruite in ogni minimo dettaglio al computer, mediante software audio.
Paesaggi sonori di grande poesia e lirismo costituiti da layer di sofisticata elettronica a cui si aggiungono micro-sonorità che brillano come piccole gemme, dando vita ad abbellimenti armonici di rara bellezza.

Musica cinematica in continua evoluzione, ora più ritmata ora più liquida, a tratti quasi gassosa, intrisa di "glitch" di grande raffinatezza. Sono diversi gli artisti cui sembra richiamarsi, ma le idee messe in campo sanno scrollarsi di dosso ogni riferimento grazie a una poetica originale e a una raffinata estetica del suono.
Smaliziato e audace nell'uso dell'elettronica, Santos riesce a darle un'anima e a non divenirne vittima, costruendo melodie in cui mescola chitarre e onde sinusoidali a malapena riconoscibili dopo la sapiente e creativa rielaborazione.

Musica d'arte, "ambient" della migliore qualità che sa evocare puro piacere uditivo con discrezione e parsimonia.


Maeror3 Live Journal (RU) - February 2009
Text by Maeror3
http://maeror3.livejournal.com/60970.html

Maeror3 Live Journal, February 2009


Gonzo Circus (BE) - January 2009
Text by BS
http://www.gonzocircus.com

Gonzo Circus, January 2009


BPM (US) - January 2009
Text by Dean DeCosta
http://www.bpmmagazine.net

BPM, January 2009


The Milk Factory (UK) - January 2009
Text by themilkman
http://www.themilkfactory.co.uk/st/2009/01/michael-santos-the-happy-error-baskaru

London-based musician and sound artist Michael Santos has already been featured on a handful of compilations, and a first collection of compositions was released as part of Benbecula's Mineral Series of CDRs in 2006, followed by another CDR release for U-Cover. The Happy Error, brought to you by the rather excellent Baskaru imprint is, however, is first proper release.

Working from a classic set up of processed guitars and sine waves, Santos creates evocative little atmospheric pieces. At times reminiscent of Fennesz or Mountains, especially in its most serene moments, The Happy Error is a varied textural platform upon which emotions flourish gracefully, but Santos's more openly glitched up soundscapes point in other directions. While the work here is certainly cinematic, and the slow motion process which is applied gives the compositions a surprisingly rich and vivid grain, there is an impression of constant erosion throughout which, instead of radiating a wonderfully warm glow, strips the tones of their inherent splendor and drown them in thick blankets of decay. The music here resembles an autumnal rainy day, dragged down by nonchalant despair and vagrant chill, but held together by abundant shades of earthy browns and yellows.

Textures and moods are not the sole concerns of Michael Santos. Amongst these occasionally arid soundscapes blossom delicate melodies, which, while never lifting from the ether entirely, manage to bring some more refined touches to this album, especially on pieces such as Supercolour, Hopefully Helsinki or Big Shifty. Santos builds his pieces slowly, applying layer after layer of grit and dust, never veering away from this template much to creating a collection that is at once consistent and exquisite, and while his approach is not original in any way, he manages to give his compositions a certain depth which contributes greatly to the overall fascinating appeal of this record.


Tokafi (DE) - December 2008
Text by Tobias Fischer
http://www.tokafi.com/newsitems/cd-feature-michael-santos-happy-error-green-kingdom-laminae

We all have our daydreams. Some, however, have decided to make fantasy their primary residence. Like the protagonist of Dostoevsky's "White Nights", they wander the mysterious terrain of their fancy, amazed at its enormous expanse and bewildered by the richness of its bright colours, sweetly drugging perfumes and breathtaking sounds. In the few moments when they do return from their amazing excursions, the physical world always appears so much less enticing and exciting, so dull, cheerless and numb that it should seem absurd to them that this unadventurous and greyish place could ever give birth to such tantalising thoughts.

Judging by their two latest records, Michael Santos and Michael Cottone are that kind of dreamer. Luckily for us, however, they have decided to collect some field recordings on the road for us to partake in their wondrous adventures. "The Happy Error" and "Laminae" sound very much like albums by boys in love, like the soundtrack to a longing that only a deep kiss by that one special person can satisfy. The warmth radiated by their textures is not one of December's glowing fire places but of the last days of Summer, when mornings are still bright and the evenings still dazed, but the carefree joy of spending entire afternoons at the beach has given way to a singular combination of regret and peaceful tranquility.

"The Happy Error", especially, is marked by a disarming multiple duality: On the one hand, it envelopes the listener whole, on the other it leaves plenty of space for his or her own creativity to run wild. Its structures are open and yet clearly delineated – unlike many comparable releases which combine metallically rasping, organically crackling and discreetly grating micronoises with harmonic layers of drones, Santos actually weaves his sonic carpet along the lines of cyclical chord schemes, looping them ad infinitum while gradually increasing the weight of the frisky effects placed on top.

Rhythm is an important aspect of the album's philosophy, not just as the result of the inner tension of its atmospheres, but as a quite tangible bubbly forward propulsion. There is actually a lot of activity going on in these pieces, which seems so unhurried and unperturbed at first. This is probably down to the effort of finding a fresh perspective: Santos' starry-eyed world is a childhood wonderland rather than a whistful cabin built on the grounds of adolescent nostalgia. The cover artwork depicts a gaudy Ferris Wheel and the record takes you back to the days when you would visit a fun fair with a balloon in your hand and your parents would have to hold on to your hand to prevent you from running into a thousand different directions all at once.


Heathen Harvest (US) - December 2008
Text by Symbolique
http://www.heathenharvest.com/article.php?story=20081213133744210

With a press release stating "offers songs without words in which digital glitches and computer filters replace vocals, bringing in a different kind of warmth", it leaves one to wonder if all songs are warm and if not, was it a happy error that an album of this mettle went its way to the dark quarters of Heathen Harvest reviewing? The press release is a genuine one and an honest, however, which provides its own dilemma when sent to hands that rummage in the murk.

The experimental side of Michael Santos' album softens the blow of smiles and pop songs, but the overall blissful state sequesters, curled up (indeed with "warmth"), foetal, twitching and smiling ripples into its own embryonic fluid. Glitch and ambience shiver and electronic frisson scampers every nerve-ending with similar but varied charges of static and amplitude.

The electronic quality of the album is superb, the doughiness of the album does not sink into amorphous ambience but rather keeps the mood light; it pricks pins into the pulp upside down and sculpts a tactile experience that is one of contrasts, sharp and soft, short and sustained. Santos' skill with his tools and palette palpably is evinced after two tracks, retaining a constant flow of textures in extreme as glitch fibrillates and tones lull and pulse, and it is not just track by track, but within each track.

The Happy Error is perhaps not suitable for purveyors of esotericism or dark shadows, but if experimental electronic that is not trite, cliché, or mainstream is your vogue, then you will enjoy the happiness.

A simple gatefold digipak with transparent tray, "The Happy Error" is coloured like a paint testing palette of subdued blue and green stripes offset against each other in blocks of colour, with the only other visual elements a notable being the Ferris wheel on the cover – likewise there is little in the way of liner notes. Sparse and abstract like the music.


Ritual (IT) - December 2008
Text by Francesco Pascoletti
http://www.ritual-magazine.com

Ritual, December 2008


Octopus (FR) - December 2008
Text by Laurent Catala
http://www.octopus-enligne.com/template.php?css=sommaire&page=oursinse

Si la musique de Michael Santos procède d'une démarche sonore expérimentale, basée sur de souples modulations de textures soniques, les articulations qui la composent répondent indéniablement d'une influence pop manifeste. Empreintes harmoniques et sonorités acoustiques en filigrane pétrissent, sur des morceaux comme "Swing Deluxe", un lit de sonorités digitales meubles, où filtrent incidents glitch et traitements feutrés dans des spéculations douces et trompeuses. Les aspérités naturelles de la musique de Michael Santos se retrouvent comme gommées, lissées par ce travail de proximité à la précision chirurgicale. Une expérience sensorielle délicate qui trouve une résonance parfaite dans le cadre esthétique toujours particulièrement choisi du label Baskaru.


Terz (DE) - December 2008
Text by Honker
http://www.terz.org

Unglaublich, dass dies das erste reguläre Album des Engländers ist. Erschienen die beiden Vorgängeralben noch als CD-R, ist dies das erste volle Vertriebs-Programm: wunderschöne warme Glitch-Texturen, die auf Gitarre und Sinuskurven basieren, partiell an die frühen Oval erinnern, ohne jedoch ansatzweise einen medienmusikalischen Anspruch haben zu wollen. Santos ist bei aller Avanciertheit offenbar immer mehr Musiker als Mechaniker - und gut so.


Geiger (DK) - December 2008
Text by Jakob Baekgaard
http://www.geiger.dk/anmeldelser/anmeldelse.php?id=3144

Den lykkelige fejl opstår ved et tilfaelde. Den lykkelige fejl ER et tilfaelde, men den er et tilfaelde, der giver mening til de planlagte strukturerer. I den eksperimenterende elektroniske musik arbejder man ofte med at give plads til tilfaeldet, fejlene, der kan udvide forståelsen af vaerket som en begraenset helhed skabt af kunstneren. Vaerket er hele tiden på vej, og fejlene er beviser på, at ingenting nogensinde bliver "faerdigt", men heri består i metafysisk og filosofisk forstand også det smukke: fejlen er en bevaegelse mod evigheden.

Michael Santos' debut for det kraesne selskab Baskaru, der er kendt for en usaedvanlig høj standard indenfor moderne kompositionsmusik og eksperimenterende electronica, er på mange måder lidt af en begivenhed. Santos har tidligere holdt sig til cd-r udgivelser, der kom i staerkt begraensede oplag, men nu får et bredere publikum endelig en mulighed for at stifte bekendtskab med Santos' inciterende musik.

The Happy Error bør nemlig appellere til et større publikum end den saedvanlige indforståede inderkreds af intellektuelle feinschmeckere. Dette skyldes ikke mindst de bløde teksturer, den tilgaengelige kompleksitet og den porøse melodik. Santos er i udgangspunktet en "rigtig" musiker med guitaren som hovedinstrument, men som det ofte sker i denne type musik forvandles guitarens lyd sammen med lydbølger, knitrende forskydninger og aeteriske strømme til en musik af naermest overjordisk skønhed.

Santos' musik er blevet kaldt kinematografisk, hvilket er sandt for så vidt, at den maler stemninger med praecise strøg, men der er på intet tidspunkt fare for, at musikken kammer over i melodrama eller bombastiske understregninger af følelsesmaessig affekt. Hos Santos er skønheden abstrakt og underspillet og samtidig umiddelbart tilgaengelig for det åbne øre. Ofte kan det vaere lidt af en prøvelse af sidde igennem en times eksperimenterende musik, men The Happy Error er en plade, jeg med glaede saetter på for min fornøjelses skyld. Den fungerer lige så godt i det åbne rum som ved naerlytning.

Uanset om man til moderne kompositionsmusik eller elektronisk musik i det hele taget, så fortjener The Happy Error at blive hørt. Der ingen tvivl om, at for denne lytter står Santos opus som et højdepunkt blandt de eksperimenterende udgivelser i 2008. Et smukt bevis på, at eksperimenter ikke behøver at betyde utilgaengelighed. Coveret viser et stort pariserhjul, og på denne plade er legen og den uskyldige undren ved livet endnu i behold. Dette er ikke kolde følelsesmaessige abstraktioner, men en varm, vidunderlig hyldest til den lykkelige fejl.


Touching Extremes (IT) - December 2008
Text by Massimo Ricci
http://www.touchingextremes.blogspot.com

This is Michael Santos' first official disc following two limited edition CDRs, and its emergence on the French Baskaru label doesn't actually come as a shock, given the territories frequently stopped over by the people who publish their music on this imprint. In virtue of my positive reception of Santos' previous works, I was a little apprehensive after reading a particularly unenthusiastic review of this record elsewhere on the web. That occurrence confirmed - if there were lingering uncertainties - that one should never rely on reviews, except mine (just kidding). As a matter of fact, this is an admirable display of the Leeds-based artist's knack for creating what the press release accurately defines as "songs without words in which digital glitches and computer filters replace vocals". In truth, what distinguishes this man from the crowd of laptop-equipped dilettantes running around the lawns of inconsistency is precisely that element of sub-skin melody that is not reticent, coming at the forefront of a piece whenever the occasion arises. Be it a three-note phrase or a reiterative pulse, establishing a foundation upon which a whole not-so-usual harmonic citadel is built corresponds to a must for Santos, who indisputably uses digital pollution more "tunefully" than others. "The Happy Error" doesn't contain the slightest degree of unruliness (except perhaps for a single, noisier track towards the end of the CD); everything is flawlessly structured, hardly stroked by a light sense of evocativeness often improved by evident throbs from the lowlands of frequency.


D-Side (FR) - November 2008
Text by Jean-François Micard
http://www.d-side.org

D-Side, November 2008


Neural.It (IT) - November 2008
Text by Aurelio Cianciotta
http://www.neural.it/sound/2008/11/michael_santos_the_happy_error.phtml

Extremely delicate harmonic passages, "clicky", dense and slightly "gummy" acoustics, interwoven with expanded patterns, with an almost oneiric quality in the juxtaposition of crackle and melody, finally combining to give a melancholic and fluctuating character. Textures are sensibly organized and diluted in environmental drones, which generates a field of sounds that are disseminated by minimal audio signals. We hear odd and at the same time familiar juxtapositions, endless accordant successions and minimal lullabies, rendered as ultra-vivid in the elliptical progression of fatal errors. Fatal errors that are "glitches", in their own essence. They are coherent and correspondent, with no need for an "a priori" planning. The fragmented quality provides intensity, which is added to through careful selection and deployment. The disturbances disseminate on purpose and are quite distant from traditional composition procedures. They succeed in saturating the used frequencies, nestling among the reverberation of iterations and trembling frequencies. A beautiful album; gentle, painstaking and intimate, and an important debut that may foreshadow very interesting developments.


The Wire (UK) - November 2008
Text by David Stubbs
http://www.thewire.co.uk

The Wire, November 2008


Groove (DE) - November 2008
Text by Hendrik Kröz
http://www.groove.de

Groove, November 2008


Orkus (DE) - November 2008
Text by Björn Springorum
http://www.orkus.de

Orkus, November 2008


UNI (CZ) - October 2008
Text by Pavel Zelinka
http://www.unijazz.cz

UNI, October 2008


Rockerilla (IT) - October 2008
Text by Vincenzo Santarcangelo
http://www.rockerilla.com

Rockerilla, October 2008


Revolver Club (DE) - October 2008
Text by Christian Meyer
http://www.revolver-club.de/kritiken/musik_neu_michaelsantos_thehappyerror.htm

Ein meister der sphäre ist dieser Michael Santos aus UK. Da raschelt etwas im gebüsch, und es ist vielleicht ein meerschweinchen, aber man weiss es nicht genau. "The Happy Error" besteht ausschliesslich aus geräuschen ohne schlagzeugschnickschnack. Einem sehr gruseligen oder auch melancholischen film würde diese musik gut passen. Daheim sollte man eine teure hifianlage zur verfügung haben, um das ganze soundspektrum erfassen zu können. "Hopefully Helsinki" eignet sich super als vorgeschmack dieser weltraumreise. Auf der welt findet diese musik kein zuhause. Mutig und modern ist Michael Santos. Ein stern am elektronischen kompositionshimmel. Obwohl er mit einem computer arbeitet wirken alle sekunden sehr durchdacht und nicht digital und steril. Es lebt.


Cyclic Defrost (AU) - October 2008
Text by Joel Hedrick
http://www.cyclicdefrost.com/blog/?p=2384

Having only released two limited edition CD-Rs, UK artist Michael Santos unloads his third release, "The Happy Error". Coming into his electronics from the softer side of things Santos melds together a series of undulating romances borne on waves of quiet morning and late, late afternoon sleep.

Opening with a sort of quiet, lingering glow in the first and title track, Santos makes his appearance known and doesn't move too far from what he has set up. Airy, light, peaceful, very little percussion, movement appears in the form slowly appearing phrases being bled and washed into each other. "Swing Deluxe" lets a familiar chord pattern to wander through its lengths amid tiny crackles and electrical hiss, as if the tiny sparks and fires inside his computer had been recorded and re-ordered for the piece. "Supercolour" with its shiny backwards tape loops sound like birds warbling in the dawn and again with soft crackling speaker pops moves softly through the middle of the disc. All the titles, in fact, are aptly named. All the way through are joyous explorations through light-drawn chemical and computer realms. Until later on, in the form of "Upper Cosh", which, while still being entirely cute, is a little rawer and sharper but things fall back into the lazy twinkle of stars for the closer, "Returning Champion".

Based around a more textural than melodic framework, Santos makes a delightful departure from your more beat-driven works and hones it down to the simple ambience of the accident. The light cracks from electrical wires made it through each and every track without fail that I began to wonder if they were there on purpose or whether they were my stereo's own happy error.


Quiet Noise (AT) - October 2008
Text by Tobias Bolt
http://www.quietnoise.org/main.php?mode=r&id=122&arc=curr#currid

Nach zwei lediglich als limitierte CD-r Editionen erhältlichen Alben veröffentlicht Michael Santos sein aktuelles Werk auf dem feinen französischen Label Baskaru, eine Entscheidung, die der Verbreitung seiner Musik vermutlich nicht abträglich sein wird. Gut so, denn "The Happy Error" ist ein durchgehend hörenswertes Album, etwas nostalgisch, aber jedenfalls präzise ausgeführt und charmant präsentiert.

Gitarre und sine waves dienen dem jungen Mann aus London als Ausgangsmaterial, das er einer ausgiebigen Nachbearbeitung am Powerbook unterzieht. Sollte Christian Fennesz ein Begriff sein, und das sollte er zweifelsfrei, kann man sich ohne weiteres vorstellen, wie das ungefähr klingen wird. Der Albumtitel weist zudem dezent darauf hin, dass eventuell im Bearbeitungsprozess auftretende Unregelmässigkeiten ausgesprochen willkommen sind.

Diese sprühen dann auch, vergnüglich knacksend, knisternd und fiepend, aus den mit dezenter Melancholie bepinselten, dabei durchaus harmonisch mäandernden, Akkordwechseln heraus, während sich letztgenannte mit schöner Regelmässigkeit zu weit ausladenden Superzeitlupensoundtracks verströmen.

Wenn also zum wiederholten Male gräuliche Herbststrati nur widerwillig bereit sind, sich zu lichten, könnten mit distinguiertem Geschmack ausgestattete Connaisseure zeitgemässen Ambients bevorzugt auf diese tatsächlich wunderschöne Endorphinvernebelung zurückgreifen – was sich als eine ebenso exzellente wie heilsame Entscheidung erweisen würde.


Titel Magazin (DE) - October 2008
Text by Tina Manske
http://www.titel-magazin.de/modules.php?
op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=7402&mode=thread&order=0&thold=0&POSTNUKESID=58eb6b37e7adb88a02376d48eb224aaf


Wer gern auf die Suche nach versteckten Soundstrukturen geht, der ist auch mit Michael Santos' Debütalbum auf dem französischen Independent-Label Baskaru gut beraten. Santos verlegt sich nicht so sehr auf Melodien als auf Texturen, seine Musik webt sich mit jedem Ton weiter wie sich die Spinne ein Netz formt, man kann ihm stundenlang geduldig dabei zuhören, wie er seine Töne zum Flimmern bringt wie Luft in heisser Sonne – alles elektronisch natürlich, auch wenn seine melodisches Ausgangsinstrument meist die Gitarre ist. Wo andere solch akustische Quelle zu verfremden suchen, bemerkt man bei Santos die Liebe zur Wärme. Dabei gibt er sich Mühe, auch das Danebengegangene mit aufzunehmen, Perfektion ist ihm verdächtig. Und so bietet "The Happy Error" Kontingenz bis zum Abwinken. Der Weg bleibt das Ziel.


Textura (CA) - October 2008
Text by Ron Schepper
http://www.textura.org/reviews/santos_happyerror.htm

On his third full-length "The Happy Error" (following "Matters" on Benbecula in 2006 and "Soft Pocket" on U-Cover a year ago), Michael Santos creates eleven tracks teeming with pretty textural swirl that's predominantly generated by guitars and sine waves, though you'd never recognize them as such after the London, England-based producer is done manipulating them. A given track's melodic content is relatively uncomplicated - slowly drifting chord progressions more often than not - but the end result is effective nonetheless, especially when said patterns act as anchors for the rambunctious activity that billows around them.

When flickering pitter-patter runs through multi-layered pieces such as "Balloon," "Hopefully Helsinki," and "Returning Champion," one can't help but be reminded of Oval with the critical difference that Santos eschews dissonance and noise for an appealing sparkle that's warmer and overall more tranquil (the tumultuous "Upper Cosh" an admitted exception). Enhancing its placidity, a lulling rhythm underpins "Supercolour," the lovely "Bamboo Scaffolding" makes a strong impression despite a short running time, and "Big Shifty" could easily pass for a nocturnal transcription of a forest's chattering insects and wildlife. Presumably, the titular "error" refers to the "accidents" that invariably arise when material is developed via software-based treatments, whereas "happy," again presumably, refers to Santos' unequivocal embrace of the results that come from the interactive man-machine process collaboration.


De:Bug (DE) - October 2008
Text by Thaddi
http://www.de-bug.de

De:Bug, October 2008


Gaz-Eta (PL) - September 2008
Text by Tom Sekowski
http://www.gaz-eta.vivo.pl/gaz-eta/recenzje/gazeta.php?nr=68&id=s_2

One almost doesn't need to check the fact that Lawrence English mastered "The Happy Error". It's written all over the sound of Michael Santos and his latest release. In using crackly static which originates from guitars and sine waves, this young London-based musician explores the world of electronics as it is seen from the point of view of someone who digs melodies, harmonies as much as the static, crackling soup. Just about every one of the eleven tracks on this album has a steady sense of purpose and a keen sense of definition. This isn't music that is purely about senseless doodling. If anything the listener can draw from this music is its nearly symphonic purpose. Blanket of warmth engulfs these tender crackles, gentle shifts and caressing floating energies. Santos has loads of intuitive knowledge to bring all of these elements together to create a magical place where a mind can go to rest. Songs without words created for people who love to quietly hum along, "The Happy Error" is electronic music with emotions tattooed on its sleeve.


EARLabs (NL) - September 2008
Text by Max Schaefer
http://www.earlabs.org/release/review.asp?reviewID=1258

The Happy Error, and the work of Michael Santos on a whole, for that matter, is distinguished by its composerly presence, with supple melodies wrought from guitars and electronics.

This trait is couched in a more accommodating, cinematic background on this, Santos' third full-length. The textures are no longer an imposition on the fractured melodies. Rather, they're woven within them; and with a sound that is pared down in comparison to past works, the harmonious interplay of each element is rendered all the more crucial.

Santos still clearly appreciates the warmth and body of audio crackle, but his stronger application of digital clarity and precision now clearly refutes any and all images of rural chrono-stasis, draping his tracks instead in a seldom achieved economy of force. A weathered melody line slowly bubbles its way up to the surface of "Hopefully Helsinki" and bobs around daintily amidst elongated digital shadows, which gather up in mounds of crisp distortion or meld together in arcs of mildly dissonant tones that pan across the stereo spectrum.

Most each and every piece is rich in detail and imagery. As though in a reversible cycle, they continually oscillate between providing a structure for thoughts and day dreams, and others that serve as the content thereof. The Happy Error ends up in a number of intriguing places, and it stands as a powerful and sensuous chapter in Santos' discography. (8/10)


Musica (IT) - September 2008
Text by Claudio Baroni
http://blog.libero.it/musica2/5527020.html

Basta poco per svaporare per un cièlo immacolato di stelle lontane. Proprio là dove l'elettronica di massa (e di consumo) erige e sfonda (subito dopo) i suoi paletti invalicabili, ecco proprio qui inizia il territorio impervio dei digital glitches firmati dal londinese Michael Santos. Con il prezioso aiuto di Lawrence English (dell'etichetta Room40) nasce un sostanzioso lavoro chiamato "The Happy Error". Lampi futuribili di materiale per nulla commerciale, ma altamente valido ed indicativo su come percorrere nuove strade artistiche innovative.


Loop (CL) - September 2008
Text by Guillermo Escudero
http://www.loop.cl/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=474&Itemid=27

UK artist Michael Santos released his third album. The first time I listened to Santos's music was with his "Matters" album (Benbecula, 2006) which was more rhythmically orientated.
Now "The Happy Error" is completely textured with layers of bits of glitch, subtle melodies, crackle sounds, drones and all this amalgam of sounds produce mesmerizing soundscapes.
One of the most notable songs is "Returning Champion" wrapped on tiny pieces of twinkling timbres and gorgeous harmonies.


Musicareaction (FR) - September 2008
Text by Maxence
http://www.musicareaction.com/?p=638

Dans le monde rigoureux de la musique générative (voir notre chronique de Pita), il existe des poètes de l'erreur. C'est le cas de Michael Santos, jeune compositeur britannique, qui nous offre justement ce mois un magnifique album intitulé "The Happy Error". L'erreur, le bug, a souvent été mis à contribution depuis le début de la "musique informatique générative". Cliquetis, brouillage, hoquets, vibrations, saccade, sont les échos de protestation d'un logiciel débordé par le flux d'information que l'artiste lui impose. Fragiles, les machines expriment parfois leur mécontentement dans d'étranges gargouillis numériques, fruit de la saturation de bits, de 0 et de 1.

Avec "The Happy Error", Michael Santos met à contribution "les fantômes de la machine", ceux qui s'expriment quand le schéma bien établi d'une composition dérape et s'évade. Pourtant "The Happy Error" pourrait se résumer en trois mots : "joli, timbré et expérimental". Après de nombreuses sorties confidentielles au format CDR, Santos laisse s'exprimer en toute innocence son passif de bidouilleur electronica laptopiste sur cet album magique résonnant des mille et une circonvolutions du traitement digital. Célébrant la rencontre improbable d'une pop sous influence électronique et d'une musique numérique dont les sources organiques sont tirés d'instruments analogiques traités, de guitares et de vocaux filtrées, "The Happy Error" navigue dans les eaux douces de l'enfance et du souvenir. Un beau disque pour une rentrée en douceur.


Smallfish Records (UK) - September 2008
Text by Mike Oliver
http://www.smallfish.co.uk/shop/release/?cat=KARU11

Michael Santos has continued to impress with his output thus far and this is conceivably the very finest release to date in his small but extremely well formed catalogue of releases. As contemporary minimal electronics go this is up there with the best of them and, quite honestly, if this was a 12k release or such you wouldn't be surprised. That's the strength of the label and Baskaru once again deserves some serious props for putting genuinely engaging and lovely electronic music. Swathes of lush textures and organic tones are delightfully put together to give you a deeply melodic and very intimate sounding meditation on what makes Michael tick. There are moments of gentle experimentation to keep you on your toes, but for the most part this all about depth and beauty. If you're a fan of good sounds this should feature very highly on your list of things to check. For me this is an easy contender for my end of year top 10 and I think you'll understand why. Subtle, gorgeous and highly recommended.


Chain D.L.K. (US) - September 2008
Text by Andrea Ferraris
http://www.chaindlk.com/reviews/?id=4629

If you go down the modern electronic/ambient lane, sooner or later you'll surely meet Baskaru label from France and they're moving slowly but constantly, probably more interested following their personal trajectory than in the saturation of the market with a bunch of new releases. After having put out cds for japanese, italian, french artists this time is the turn of a portuguish one: Michael Santos, his music has no ispano-american root and could be from England, Japan or Germany, the earth is flat after all... fuck Columbus. With a wonder wheel on the cover it's logical to expect some relaxed ambient influenced work and here you have it, somewhere located in between the constellation of modern ambient-tronic music, the range of which is set by AFX ambient early steps on one side and japanese Neina, Minamo, etc... on the other. Though Baskaru is developing a clear physiognomy, "The Happy Error" is much closer to the sound of labels like Spekk or Plop, don't worry guys, if you blame me for not having mentioned 12k it just has to do with the cut that's a little bit different, but if you fill the rank of fans of Deupree or Sawako you'll probably like it. Santos makes it soft and classy that's why I could have had several listening while my girlfriend was studying and she didn't even complain even once: a real miracle!. Santos' sound is still in search of his own identity but at the same time he follows all of the unwritten rules of electronic music perfectly and with elegance thus he speaks the idiom brilliantly. Eleven tracks for about fifty minutes of bliss well distributed in portions of ecstatic and melancholic melodies, high-frequencies and digital sounds. I'm sure if only Pessoa could have only put this in his hi-fi set while writing he wouldn't be that depressed and would have been enjoying much more the sea in front of Lisboa.


WHITE_LINE (UK) - August 2008
Text by Baz Nichols
http://whiteline1.wordpress.com/2008/08/25/250/

Now I'm not usually given to bouts of overwhelming nostalgia, but this latest wonderful recording from Baskaru takes me back to happy times, delving around marginal record shops in London, seeking out new minimalist treasures. Michael Santos' "The Happy Error" is a wonderful excursion that for me, harks back to early Oval, (circa "Systemisch") or Mouse on Mars (circa "Niun Niggung"). Santos harnesses tried and tested experimental techniques to manifest deliciously warm tracts of ambience, skipping and tripping along at a genteel pace, bathing the listener in an aura of minimalist ambience. Title track, "The Happy Error" is a sheer tour de force that has the distinct feel of early Oval, gorgeously paced, and with a central refrain of CD skipping and scratching that has a familiar overtone, yet remains utterly original. Tracks like "Balloon", and "Supercolour" really nail the retro Mouse on Mars feel, and although MOM are still operating, Santos eclipses their works, with a fresh and scintillating approach to clicks n cuts territory, rarely straying away from the cosy glow of ambience, nothing too alien or indigestible. "Hopefully Helsinki" emerges as one of my most listened to tracks (I've played the whole album four times on the trot already), with an elegantly sequenced keyboard theme, dotted with rapier sharp glitches, and textural fragments. This clearly emerges as one of my favourite "musical" albums of the year so far, and if I had the money to go on holiday to the sun now (the sun... do you remember what it looks like fellow Englishmen?), then this would be in my holdall to accompany me... a sheer delight to listen to, and a masterpiece from a promising label. Buy now!


ONDEFIXE (FR) - August 2008
Text by Benoît Richard
http://ondefixe.over-blog.com/article-22308755.html

Après Yoshio Machida et GoGooo qui nous proposaient chacun à leur manière de découvrir leur univers très personnel, le label français Baskaru nous présente cette fois l'anglais Michael Santos pour une invitation au voyage céleste, à entrer dans son petit monde musical cotonneux dans lequel on se perd avec délice.

Peu de points de repère s'offrent à nous quand on s'enfonce dans la douce matière sonore de Michael Santos, simplement l'impression d'avoir affaire à quelque chose de très doux, d'éthéré, où rien ne peut vraiment nous arriver. On se laisse ainsi bercer par cette musique ambient, par ces sonorités de guitares triturées au laptop, par ces micro-mélodies, par ces sonorités finies et ces accidents numériques qui parsèment un album fort recommandable. (8/10)


The Vibes (IT) - August 2008
Text by Vito Camarretta
http://xoomer.alice.it/vitocamarretta/thevibes/rec2008/the_happy_error.html

Sembra quasi paradossale che un disco dal suono piuttosto nostalgico - sembrando provenire da un passato sonico non troppo remoto, in cui l'estetica glitch veniva fusa armoniosamente con l'ambient minimale di modo da ottenere un risultato "accessibile" anche a quanti sono avulsi da sterili questioni di catalogazione, piuttosto che con rumorismo che nella sua concretezza talvolta appare troppo astratto e ostico per padiglioni poco allenati - sia firmato da colui che i colleghi di Touching Extremes non hanno avuto tema di definire colui che "tra i giovani compositori di musica elettronica degli ultimi anni più in vista, è uno di quegli artisti che sfrutta qualsiasi germe creativo fino al punto in cui non diventa un virus evoluto dal piacere aurale". Il giudizio sull'inglese Michael Santos è sicuramente condivisibile, ma non va nascosto il fatto che una parte di quella germinazione deriva da ascolti pregressi rielaborati al punto che non sono pochi coloro che hanno gridato al plagiarismo, ignorando che grande parte della musica elettronica si basa proprio sul sampling! Lo stesso Michael riteniamo ne sia consapevole e non a caso ha deciso di intitolare questo disco "The Happy Error", riferendosi al momento menzionato (più felice) del filone glitch e alla sua filosofia di fondo (la preservazione dell'"errore") e giocando sulla semantica dell'assunto per cui la "felicità" sarebbe nient'altro che un errore! Sonicamente questa sorta di dogma si traduce in suoni che saturano le sfere acustiche, topoi dell'ambient music, come avviene nella title track, posta ad incipit del disco: classica sequenza bitonale ultrarallentata dalla frequenza così depurata dal rumore da rendere l'idea della perfezione, che pian piano viene rimpinguata da frequenze saturate che sovrastano la nitidezza del suono originaria...

Immaginate per avere un'idea di ciò che andrete ad ascoltare una pralina di pasta dolce perfettamente sferica riempita di varie creme fino a creare crepe nella superficie da cui gocciolano effluvi glicerinici... nelle tracce successive il processo è grossomodo simile, ma i samples di partenza sono differenti, ma appartengono pur sempre ai canoni dell'ambient music. Succede spesso che Santos voglia quasi preservare le suggestioni proprie dell'ambient music di modo da non alterare la ritualità a cui è avvezzo in genere l'appassionato del genere per meglio predisporsi all'immersione dell'esperienza acustica, che talvolta acquisisce connotazioni "religiose". Così i disturbi che Michael aggiunge si riducono spesso oltre che a saturazioni, a impulsi udibili quando si fa "saltare" il cd, a "sfiatature" sui suoni più tubulari, a graffi su rumori; la loro origine è quasi sempre una chitarra o delle onde sinusoidali ottenute tramite generatori. Alla materia prima, Michael Santos poi impone manipolazioni tramite l'ausilio di software con la particolare attitudine dei musicisti glitch di conservare gli "incidenti" tipici che possono occorrere durante i trattamenti digitali del "codice sorgente". La ricerca della melodia piuttosto che della sporcatura del suono o del pattern ritmico discende probabilmente dal fatto che Michael prima ancora di essere un manipolatore sonore, è fondamentalmente un musicista, capace del reto di non cadere negli sterotipi del genere. Splendidi certi passaggi in cui dal trembling saltellante che lascerebbe immaginare una traccia rarefatta, il sound si insinua attraverso strutture via via più complesse in cui la melodie resta sospesa, quasi criogenizzata. Esemplare a tal proposito la coinvolgente aura che ammanta "Returning Champion" o la scoppiettante "Ajax", mentre suggestioni da uovo cosmico contenute nelle convoluzioni del pitch di "Balloon" o "Supercolour" riportano la mente ad ascolti passati (Oval in primis); in altri frammenti, i giochetti con le frequenze smussate o gli sdrucciolii sonici udibili in registrazioni come "Hopefully Helsinki" - la migliore delle undici transumanze acusmatiche secondo il nostro orecchio - o "Big Shifty" richiamano alcune produzioni di casa Sonig. Il fatto che siano certosinamente curate le melodie renderà l'eclettismo che normalmente distingue certi lavori fregiati dell'appellativo "glitch" meno indigeste e alienanti, al punto da risultare apprezzabile da una vasta schiera di ascoltatori - molti dei quali possono scegliere questo disco come punto di partenza per l'esplorazione del genere senza subire traumi -. Insomma una scintillante e al contempo intimistica congerie di click'n'cuts che non mancherà di emozionare durante l'ascolto, che disvela forse la nuova strategia dell'etichetta Baskaru più orientata a dar spazio a sperimentazioni meno azzardate e spinte rispetto agli esordi senza rinunciare alla qualità. Aspetto che per un'etichetta piccola e al di fuori di circoli distributivi elitari o privilegiati è tutt'altro che trascurabile...



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