2016 Wasn’t So Bad: Debrief & Fav Albums

Hey friends,

In obvious news, 2016 has finally come to a close. I feel like the media Buzzfeed would have you think it was a shitty year, but I’ve heard a lot of people say it was an amazing year for them. I was no exception. My 2016 was full of great experiences, personal growth and refining myself.

When 2016 started:

  • I was awaiting surgery to repair a hernia I had suffered

  • severly allergic to all nuts

  • I lived in a dive of an apartment by myself

Now all of those things have changed:

  • I underwent successful surgery in March

  • I can now eat pistachios, pecans and cashews

  • I moved into a sweet new apartment in nice part of town

And on top of those highlight accomplishments, I bought my very first car; saw Radiohead (and more) at Osheaga in Montreal; expanded my knowledge of music and writing, met quality people and friends. The only thing missing from 2016 was me finishing some music and releasing it. When evaluating my year, that’s the only negative point I gave myself. But all is not lost: I started some really exciting projects with other musicians – and did release Montreal, a song from the forthcoming unnamed 2017 album. The rest of the year was spent grinding out new ideas, practicing old ones and trying to define the sound and feelings of my next album. I’m getting there and mark my words, it’ll be released sometime in 2017. It is number one on my list of things to do. It’s about half written and I’ve almost figured out the flow and the feelings of it. You’re going to love it.

I thought I might also give a countdown of my top 16 albums of 2016 to finish this blog. I’ve attached a link to each album on the list for you to check out for yourself.

16. The Great Detachment – Wintersleep

15. Cloak – Jordan Rakei

14. low kii savage – kiiara

13. Junk – M83
Along with seeing Radiohead at Osheaga, I saw M83, an amazing French group. They had so much energy and an unreal array of ear candy. It really inspired me in my own productions and I’ve listened to this album so many times since seeing them. It’s truly a work of art.

12. Conscious – Broods

11. Skin – Flume

10. Once The Lights Are On – CHINAH
I really love CHINAH. This EP is actually chalked full of cool sounds, great arrangements and catchy vocals. Youtube only had this song, but I highly recommend checking out the full EP.

9. Cleopatra – The Lumineers
Another fantastic band I witnessed at Osheaga. I liked this album before I went but there was something about seeing them live that made me appreciate them much more profoundly.

8. Woman – Justice
This album has so much going for it. Catchy vocals, sweet retro synths, flashy electric guitars, fancy arrangements. What’s not to love?

7. Congrats – Holy Fuck
These guys were my first ever bar show. I was 18 in Montreal and saw them at Club Soda for the JazzFest. It was incredible then and it was even cooler seeing them this past Fall for HPX. It’s so cool to see an electronic band NOT have a laptop on stage. Every sound you heard is created right in front of your eyes and that’s a really powerful thing.

6. Full Circle – Haelos
A lovely band. Well composed, well executed, but unfortunately couldn’t see them at Osheaga because Red Hot Chili Peppers were playing at the same time 🙁 Maybe another time. Until then, I’m left with endlessly consuming this KEXP Youtube video.

5. Phase – Jack Garratt
Jack Garratt is easily my favourite discovery in 2016. I heard his song Worry a few months before he was the first performer I saw at Osheaga where I turned full out fanboy. He combines real instrumentation with electronic sounds and does it so well. It’s a huge inspiration for me to draw from. He has so much energy on stage even though it’s just him. I can’t say enough good things about this guy.

4. W:/2016ALBUM/ – Deadmau5
There’s not much about this guy that I haven’t already said on this ol’ soapbox. I love this album, even though it’s not my favourite of his works. This is his song Cat Thruster which has a super groovy vibe with really great sounding (artificial) bass guitar. It sounds like it could be the track used for the series finale of Stranger Things.

3. Starboy – The Weeknd
I’ve been internally talking about the Weeknd overtaking Kanye as my favourite hip hop artist for the last year or so. I loved the last Weeknd album so much and Starboy is even better. Almost every track from this album has a heart beside it in my iTunes. I really do think it’s incredible. There’s not many albums where even the interlude track is awesome (see: Stargirl feat. Lana Del Ray). The whole album is sexy and groovy and fun and authentic – AND features Daft Punk on the two best tracks. I linked his short film called MANIA he used to promote this album, which reminded me so much of Kanye’s film Runaway he used to promote My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasies. Kanye had full ownership over my hip hop heart but now the Weeknd is an equal partner.

2. The Life of Pablo – Kanye West
Kanye’s The Life of Pablo just narrowly beat Starboy this year. I went back and forth on their rankings a few times but overall, TLOP is better. Kanye just has a certain property about him. His diversity, production and ability to consistently jump over the status quo are what make him so amazing. I do feel like he’s peaked, but he had such a head start on the competition, he still is on top for now. Also, this album is almost exclusively what I jam at the gym.

1. A Moon Shaped Pool – Radiohead
And here we have my number one favourite album from 2016. I’m sure you could’ve guessed this. Radiohead is a very special group to me and this album furthered that policy. Seeing them live in the Summer was an experience I will never forget. It’s seemingly impossible to accurately describe how it made me feel. It was pure euphoria mixed with tears of joy. This album is so emotional and honest and narrative and luscious. There isn’t anything I don’t like about it – okay, fine, maybe the title. Anyway, every cut from this album is perfect in it’s own way. It was great to see them close on a revamped version of an old Radiohead classic in True Love Waits. But I think my highlight of the album though is Present Tense of which I’ve linked a version.

A Moon Shaped Pool, 2016

 

I’m going to miss 2016 (and Harambe), but here’s to making 2017 as great and memorable as possible.

Talk soon,
Ryan

Top 15 Deadmau5 Songs

 

This month is a big month for Deadmau5. He released his eighth studio album named W:/2016ALBUM/ – he’s never been one for actual album names. Deadmau5 is probably my single favourite electronic music producer. He was introduced to me in 2009 by my friend Andrew and although I didn’t fall for mau5 right away, it wasn’t long before I was blasting his album For Lack of a Better Name nonstop.

deadmau5-1

This was really the beginning of my unconscious transition into electronic music. I had always loved rock and alternative music, and still do, but now I had entered into a different realm altogether. Deadmau5 was the first electronic music I enjoyed and he really opened up an entire genre to me. One that inspired me so much, that I ended up abandoning my rock-music-thinking ways to adopt an electronic music producer moniker, which would become Poly Gecko.

I guess what I’m getting at is that Deadmau5 kick started this whole thing for me. He taught me so much about electronic music, the importance of developing your sound, and that you can make a global impact as a producer as a small-town Canadian.

And later this month, Deadmau5 is about to teach me much more. I have punched myself a ticket to his Masterclass and am about to absorb all the knowledge he has and is willing to release. This is going to be pretty surreal to me. Imagine taking lessons on Catholicism from the Pope; or hockey lessons from Wayne Gretzky. This is how I feel about this course. I’m sure I’ll have lots of mau5-y feeling demos on the Soundcloud soon.

But enough about this one-sided bromance between Joel Zimmerman and I, here’s my top 15 Deadmau5 songs – including the new album:

15. Telemiscommunications [> album title goes here <]

14. Mercedes [while(1<2)]

13. One Tricky Pony [4×4=12]

12. A Moment To Myself [while(1<2)]

11. Ghosts ‘n’ Stuff [For Lack of a Better Name]

10. Snowcone [W:/2016ALBUM/]

9. Imaginary Friends [W:/2016ALBUM/]

8. Sofi Needs a Ladder [4×4=12]

7. Raise Your Weapon [4×4=12]

6. Monday [while(1<2)]

5. Somewhere Up Here [while(1<2)]

4. Cat Thruster [W:/2016ALBUM/]

3. Seeya [while(1<2)]

2. Strobe [For Lack of a Better Name]

1. Maths [> album title goes here <]

 

Although this list doesn’t make it fully clear, my absolute favourite album of his is while(1<2). It’s the most innovative work he’s done, and with it challenges the thought that he is a one-trick-pony dance producer. His ability with pianos and layering and sound design proves he’s much more than your bedroom DJ with an 808 and Massive.

 

Thanks for reading as always,

Stay warm,

Ryan.

 

 

Fall 2016 Update

Hey guys,

Woah do I ever suck at these blogs lately. But the silver lining is that I’ve done a lot of growing since you heard from me last – both musically, mentally and physically. I’m going to keep this blog post short today but I wanted to get you up to speed on a few things.

  1. I’m on a highly productive writing streak right now *knocks on wood*. I’ve fully settled into the new studio setup in my stylish new condo and I spend a lot of time in the studio working on refining old songs, creating new ones, watching technique videos and reading about music.

    StudioShot1

    The current configuration – guitars, synths, microphones and iMac

  2. Last week my friend Zach invited me to return on his podcast Business of Awareness where we discussed a lot of where I’m at musically, and mentally. He’s always a great chat and I strongly recommend you take an hour and listen to our podcast and if it tickles your fancy, check out more of his work.  On said podcast, I debuted my newest song Montreal as the intro.
  3. You can listen to Montreal in full right now on my Soundcloud. I started writing this song back in August with most of the lyrics being writing on the drive back from Montreal to Halifax, after Osheaga. I hope you like it. It’s the first real teaser from the upcoming 2017 album. Which by the way, I was going to call The Narrows, but I’ve since decided not to use that title. I’ve narrowed it down to three names now, but you’ll have to wait and see 😉
  4. I want to try to have one more song, even if it’s a collaboration out by the end of the year. I felt like I didn’t do much this year in terms of releasing new music, so I’m trying to redeem myself in the closing months of 2016.

As always, here’s what I’ve been listening to lately:

  • The Life of Pablo, Kanye West
  • Currents, Tame Impala
  • Once The Lights Are On, CHINAH
  • Patchwork, Matt Lange
  • Skin, Flume
  • Phase, Jack Garratt
  • Congrats, Holy Fuck

And honourable mention to Take to Heels by Sofie Letitre which was released today and is so far really great.

Top 15 Radiohead Songs & 0110 Download

As the internet – specifically my internet presence – would have you know is that Radiohead just released a new album. I have been waiting on this new album since 2011’s The King of Limbs, which by most measures was a pretty solid album but I, along with likely a lot of other Radiohead fans were also excited for a change. Almost every day for the last 5 months I had been tweeting “no new radiohead today. maybe tomorrow” And finally that day came. Finally.

A Moon Shaped Pool, 2016

The long awaited, A Moon Shaped Pool.

A Moon Shaped Pool was released on May 8, 2016. Happy Mother’s Day! I went into work, plugged in my laptop and downloaded it immediately at 3:00 PM local time when the album was released and blared it from front to back. Five days later, I still love the album. Of course, I could be in a new music bliss where everything is good … until it isn’t. I really do enjoy the depth of the album; how dry and ethereal it is. Nothing on the album seems forced. I also love that they reworked some old tracks like Identikit and True Love Waits.

To honour the release of A Moon Shaped Pool, I thought I’d give a top 15 Radiohead songs of mine (excluding AMSP because it’s just too early to tell).

15. Everything In Its Right Place [Kid A]

14. Paranoid Android [OK Computer]

13. The National Anthem [Kid A]

12. 2 + 2 = 5 (The Lukewarm) [Hail To The Thief]

11. Myxomatosis (Judge, Jury & Executioner) [Hail To The Thief]

10. 15 Step [In Rainbows]

9. Packt Like Sardines In A Crushed Tin Box [Amnesiac]

8. Like Spinning Plates [Amnesiac]

7. Idioteque [Kid A]

6. Jigsaw Falling Into Place [In Rainbows]

5. Lotus Flower [The King of Limbs]

4. The Daily Mail [The King of Limbs sessions]

3. All I Need [In Rainbows]

2. Airbag [OK Computer]

1. Videotape [In Rainbows]

 

If you couldn’t guess, In Rainbows is definitely my favourite Radiohead album although OK Computer isn’t far behind. If you haven’t heard it already, I followed the instructions to create a mashup of both of these albums which the internet refers to as “tens piracy” or “0110“. It can sound a little insane, but even if they didn’t do it with intent, it still sounds awesome. You can download it here from my Dropbox. It’s 93:33 of solid gold.

Anyway, that’s enough for me for a little bit. Much love as always. Shit is happening behind the curtain, don’t you worry.

Ryan

 

Leap Year Update

February is about ninety minutes from being concluded and I have to say, what a weird month it was. I accomplished so much, yet so little; met nobody, but met someone; it was winter, but hot. Tomorrow is March and March will bring the feeling of moving forward in a lot of ways: I’m going to eat almonds for the very first time in a controlled allergy challenge test; I’m going to get a routine surgery finally taken care of; I’ll turn twenty four.

Poly Gecko is forward-moving, but from your perception, maybe slowly. I promise that whenever you don’t hear from me, it’s a good sign… I’m always up to something fun. I’ve started a new collaboration project I hope will turn into something spectacular with my friend DJ, who, yes, he is a DJ. I’ll also be focusing on two other collaboration tunes with two femme fatales. I’ve been patiently waiting to collaborate with either of them and now the wheels are rolling on both of these tunes at the time. Exciting!

I’ll also be producing a friend’s project this spring of which I’m quite excited. He’s been a close friend and a closer ally of my musical venture and he’s asked me to produce his debut release and I’m thrilled he trusts me with something as important as his new music, which is so well-crafted.

If you haven’t already, download and listen to the Take My Hand Remix I did, originally by Joel Freck feat. Cameron Hawes.

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Love you all lots. I’ll be better at blogging coming soon. I might even start a little recorded blog / podcast / whatever soon too.

Looking forward to March, and every day inside of it.

Ryan