Sunday, 28 February 2010

Brackles - RBMA Mix

Blunted Robots man and terrifyingly proficient DJ Brackles has recorded an hour long session for RBMA. Sticking largely to a slower, house vibe, it's gifted with some inspired selections and fantastic sounding new dubs -- new material from himself and his brother Martin Kemp, along with tracks from Joe, Deadboy and Mr. Majika's huge 'Different Lextrix'.

Zapp - Computer Love - WEA
The Human League - Do Or Die - Virgin
Zomby - Tarantula - Hyperdub
MJ Cole - Sincere (Jazzanova Remix) - Talkin' Loud
Abacus - Erotic Illusions - Fragile Records
Ralphi Rosario - Bop Track (Re-Do) - Underground Construction
Cooly G - Weekend Fly - Hyperdub
Roska - I Need Love - Rinse
DJ Dom - Sunshowers - Unreleased
Brackles - Blo - Unreleased
Mr Majika - Different Lextrix - Numbers
Martin Kemp - Fix - Blunted Robots
Geiom ft Marita - Sugar.. (Brackles & Shortstuff Mix) - Berkane Sol
MJ Cole - Crazy Love (Todd Edwards Remix) - Talkin' Loud
Steve Gurley and Al Brown - Killin' Me - Allstars
Joe - Perculate - Unreleased
Jam City - Let Me Bang Rmx - Unreleased
Deadboy - If You Want Me (Brackles & Shortstuff Mix) - Numbers
Supra 1 - I Still Believe (Brackles Remix) - Trouble & Bass

Stream and listen, and check Brackles looking like some kind of religious icon, here.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Seb Rochford Mixtape

As if it wasn't already enough to have the biggest hair and the most laid back persona in contemporary jazz, Seb Rochford only has to go and prove to the world that he's got the best music taste as well. The fiend.

In advance of the release next week of his main band (
maybe? Who really knows anymore) Polar Bear's stunning new album Peepers -- which will be getting a glowing review on these very pages imminently -- he's put a rather excellent mixtape up on Soundcloud for download, pulling together a host of stuff from the expected (Zed-U, Lightning Bolt) to the surprising (Harmonic 313, Cooly G).


That's right, Seb Rochford listens to
Cooly G.

Seb Rochford (Polar Bear) mixtape by theleaflabel

Photo by Paul Troughton

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Efterklang - Magic Chairs [4AD]

Chats on Efterklang's new album, which has just come out on 4AD and is the first of theirs that's reached some strange plateau of potential. Their previous records Tripper and Parades were both admirable, but difficult to love -- Magic Chairs barely seems to expend any effort at all in bettering both. Glorious cover artwork as well.


"Magic Chairs demands attention, but in the least obvious of ways. Instead of reaching out and grabbing the listener by the lapels, positively screaming ‘LOVE ME!’, it soaks in gradually over a number of listens. On first listen, the saccharine, almost-twee melody of ‘I Was Playing Drums’ breezes past in a pleasant rush - the sound of a busker playing a familiar song in a Tube station perhaps, or an instantly recognisable song on a passing car’s radio – and disappears into the background again. It’s only an hour or two later that it becomes obvious it’s well and truly lodged in there, and is stubbornly refusing to leave.

This curiously elusive quality is largely due to the orchestration. Make no mistake, this is one of the most beautifully arranged ‘indie’ albums I’ve heard in a long time, reaching for the heights of Owen Pallett’s recent masterstroke
Heartland in subtlety and scope. There’s a delicate sleight of hand at play here that enables each song’s backbone of strings and brass to remain at times almost inaudibly buried in the mix, but to maintain a definitive presence. The hyper-percussive whorl of ‘Raincoats’ sounds sparse on initial inspection but upon closer examination reveals a densely layered core, and when the strings finally reach the fore on the jaunty thrum of ‘Full Moon’ the effect is one of dazzling, glorious release.

Best of all, though, remains ‘Alike’. Testament to
Magic Chairs’ transcendent oddness, it initially seemed one of the album’s more unremarkable songs, breezing perfectly pleasantly through ever-so-slightly MOR leanings. But once again it’s the tiny nuances that prove definitive, and as a gradually rising interplay of brass begins to invade the track’s very centre and rip its very structure apart, it heads straight for the sky, dashing streaks of brightly coloured paint over all it touches, like an astral Jackson Pollack. For all my misgivings about Efterklang and that certain snag that just won’t let go, the prevailing wind is getting ever harder to resist."


Full review up at Middle Boop.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Four Tet (Live on Tunnelvision)

A find via Pitchfork TV, as I'm unsure if I ever wrote anything about Kieran Hebden's strikingly beautiful new Four Tet album, There Is Love In You. Anyway, Ray Concepcion gives Hebden's woozy melodics an appropriately soft-edged (and rose-tinted) context, by filming his live performance through a pair of old green 'n' red 3D glasses. None of that fancy Avatar shit here, yeah?

Save Plastic People

And on to today's most important news item; due to the Met forcing a review of their license, Plastic People is at risk of closure. Quite aside from my personal feelings, there are a whole host of reasons why this shouldn't be allowed to happen.

Firstly, it offers a club space like no other, either in London or the rest of the UK, in that it takes the emphasis entirely off the dancers and places it firmly on the music being played. Plastic People's darkened room and iconic single light fixture creates a wholly immersive environment within which ravers toy with sensory deprivation, sharply attuning the hearing as sight becomes attenuated. It becomes a vast, living and breathing tank, heightening the physical and emotional properties of sound through the system's purpose built design.

Secondly, its heritage. In creating an environment in which its focus on introspection, musicality and individualism could thrive, in many ways dubstep would not be the creature it is now were it not for PP. The same goes for any number of London-nurtured bass musics, each of which found new ways to express itself and a close-knit community vibe within its walls. Yet it's hardly trading off past glories -- the same feeling remains intact every time I find myself in there, and it continues to nurture FWD>> (at least for the next few weeks). In fact, the very first post on CB/OB was a chat about Untold's set at FWD last summer:

There’s something to be said for the continued existence and success of a space like FWD>> for the nurturing and airing of new and innovative sounds; detachment from the crowd-pleasing pressures of performing at a Friday or Saturday night rave encourages sets that do not merely skirt round the edges of subtlety and musicality but fully embrace the possibilities that come with a devoted and attentive audience. It’s often said that dulling one sensory input heightens that of all the others, yet I’ve always found the environment inside Plastic People unusual in that its pitch darkness seems not only to attenuate vision but also touch, taste, smell; yet the alienation engendered by almost total sensory deprivation is redeemed by the total immersion in sound such an environment offers. Away from these anchors to reality the experience is pleasurably dissociative, the constant motion of bodies in monochrome only occasionally disturbed by the sudden spark of a lighter held to the ceiling in triumph, everything suddenly lit for a fraction of a second in glorious technicolour before plunging back into darkness."

Purely on a personal level, FWD>> served as the point at which a piqued interest in dubstep via Burial and Kode9's first Hyperdub CDs, and later Pinch's Underwater Dancehall, blossomed into full on obsession. The first track I heard on that system was Pinch's 'Qawwali', instantly transforming the softly meditative track I was used to on headphones into a full body, intensely physical experience. It will be a great shame for London, and for dance music in all its forms, if such a space is consigned to memory.

Plastic People put up their full statement today, it's available to view on the Save Plastic People Facebook group
. Join the group and stay tuned for announcements from the newly-formed Friends of Plastic People about how to help -- if this legal process is to be fought and won, it's going to need active support.

RBMA: Bristol chapter

On the subject of the Red Bull Music Academy, why let the Big Smoke hog all the fun?

This weekend there are a host of events going on in Bristol that shift the event's ethos to a smaller locale - Metropolis on Cheltenham Road (handily about five minutes from where CBOB calls home). On Saturday 27th they host a day of workshops, lectures and live music from 2:30 - 5:00pm -- blurb stolen from the RBMA's website:

"After a good night’s sleep, Metropolis will again be the host for a session of workshops and performances. The Bug his newest project on Hyperdub, King Midas Sound. Reprazent rhymeslinger Dynamite MC hosts an MC production workshop. Pee Wee Ellis sits down on the couch to talk about life with James Brown. Henry Bainbridge of Dubstudio, mastering engineer for everybody from High Contrast to Ramadanman, runs a vinyl cutting demo. Minotaur Shock will showcase his unique self-developed live performance technique. And Innervisions honcho and 4/4 hypnotist supremo Dixon shares tips and knowledge about succeeding in independent music, joined by local luminaries Ginz and Yolanda of Phantom Limb."

And even bigger, if at all possible, that evening sees them take over Motion with Futureboogie, putting on Theo Parrish, Dixon, Appleblim, Headhunter, King Midas Sound, Peverelist and many more. And it's only six quid.

See you in the skatepark.

Steve Reich talks to RBMA

New York composer, musician and pioneering sonic experimentalist Steve Reich gave a lecture to the Red Bull Music Academy last week, taking in his life in music and the outward progression from his earliest experiments with tape loops to fully expansive orchestral pieces [thanks to FACT, once again, for drawing attention to this]. As well as coming across as a disarmingly down to earth individual, he makes some interesting points about the role of machines and electronics in music, taking a modernist stance many miles from the one many classically trained composers, either of then or now, would.

"We live in a time when it’s possible to get ideas for live music from machines, and to get ideas for computer music from live music, that are perfectly valid and will work if you get it right. And that to me is an answer to the people who look at anybody who does electronic music as a bunch of robots."

A fascinating insight into a fascinating musician. The entire full-length video of the lecture can be watched here, along with ones from Roska, Jazzie B, A Guy Called Gerald and more.

Cliffordandcalix - Lost Foundling [Aperture]

Digging through an archive of recorded-on-the-fly material and sticking it all together on a disc is far more likely to produce an incoherent mess of half-formed ideas than a lost masterpiece. That Warp luminaries Mark Clifford (he of Seefeel) and Mira Calix have managed to assemble an album that holds together surprisingly well, and from such disjointed source material, is undoubtedly to their credit. Lost Foundling, at its best, touches on something entirely separate from either artist’s solo work. There remains a feeling throughout, however, that Clifford and Calix’s efforts on here pose more questions than they answer.

Strangely though, that’s not entirely a bad thing. It’s easy to debate ad infinitum around what makes music ‘good’, or worthy of praise, and a sense of purpose and narrative thrust tends to feature pretty high up on most peoples’ lists. Yet many of the tracks on Lost Foundling seem to work against the notion that easily definable temporal progression is necessary to give music a purpose. Opener ‘Someone Like Me’ and the ethereal drifts of ‘Beethaven’ and ‘One 2 Far’ seem merely to hang around, content to wallow in a bath of analogue electronics and static interference, broken only by the occasional recognisable melody. Throughout its length there are hints that something spectacular is just around the corner, and the sudden dynamic shifts of ‘Myrie’ and ‘cket’ are suggestive of potential resolution, but for the most part this doesn’t arrive.

When those promised moments of transgression come, and all these elements – harsh electronic feedback, Fennesz-esque ambient meanderings and Calix’s heavily processed vocals – gel to produce something more than the sum of their parts, the effect is remarkable. Digi-soul lullaby ‘Dream Of You’ offers a glimpse of human warmth from behind a wall of noise, as Calix’s simple refrain stacks upon itself in a chunky major key harmony before shifting to darker robotic foreboding. ‘Pull It A Part 1’ is even better, the tension between impossibly busy percussion and soft melody a little reminiscent of the tightly packed, pastoral beatscapes of Highpoint Lowlife artist 10-20.

That this record remains more a curio than a definitive document is not entirely surprising – it was pieced together as a compilation of the duo’s favourite tracks from over five years’ worth of snatched studio time, music laid down in brief snippets of downtime between tours and other work. In that sense it’s impressive that Lost Foundling sounds as coherent as it does – the common thread running through all these tracks suggests that both fell repeatedly into the same headspace each time they met, picking up effortlessly where they left off before. And somehow it pulls together into a coolly meditative whole, not necessarily an easy record to listen to attentively – or, indeed, to fall in love with – but one to float away in. For a little while at least.


Originally written for Drowned In Sound

Monday, 22 February 2010

The Brown Acid - Bastard Kids [Ikonika Remix]

Worth its own post, without a doubt, even with the annoying voice over that repeatedly reminds you that 'this is a preview'. Out on March 1st. Huge.

Kontext - Acid Pasta EP / XI - 000 [Immerse]

Bristol's Immerse Records has just made an older EP of Kontext tracks available for free via their site/Twitter. Its title, Acid Pasta, is only slightly less ludicrous than its cover art (and you only need to look above to catch a glimpse of that garish little beauty).

Thankfully, the contents are more in tune with the label's darker aesthetic and Kontext's roundly excellent set of EPs for the label, which culminated in the chilly brilliance of 'Convex Curved Mirror' -- also due to feature on his debut full-length
Dissociate, which Immerse are putting out sometime in the near future. While his recent tracks for the label have been exercises in diffuse, broken minimalism, the tracks on Acid Pasta are a little more rhythmically straightforward, his characteristic spaced out austerity welded to propulsive 4/4 kicks. It's worth grabbing for the floor-filling tech-house of 'Toxic Zombies' and the uncharacteristically melodic 'Arctic Spaceship' alone.

Get hold of it here, and be grateful you don't have to look at that cover in full 12" glory.


In other Immerse news, XI's new 12" for the label, 000/Slippin', has just been released, and it's great. I reviewed it for Sonic Router a while ago; here's a bit of a reproduction.

"Appropriate to the label’s output, which tends towards dark, percussive minimalism, his Immerse 12” further relegates melody to a supporting role, barely making an appearance at all in the sub, voice and drum battle of ‘000.’ 'Slippin' on the flip is another slice of particularly delectable ghostly garage, joining the ranks of an ever-swelling sub-genre that manages to encompass (amongst others) Burial, recent work by Instra:mental and Scuba, and Clubroot’s aquatic ambience. It’s also probably the best – and most dancefloor-ready - of the four tracks here, underpinned by razor-sharp, hard-panned hi-hats and a techy two-step flex.

Regardless of their relative energy levels, the common trait running through all four tracks is a deliciously palpable tension between XI’s complex, spiraling drum patterns and their backdrop of swelling, oceanic ambience – leaving his music suspended in some tranquil vacuum between waking and dream. The overall effect is oddly disconcerting, neither entirely dance-immediate nor calm enough for comfortable headphone listens, but all the better for it."

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Highpoint Lowlife - 2010 Mixtape

The love for the Highpoint Lowlife label round these parts is hardly well hidden. Almost everything they've released in the last year or so has been of an excellent pedigree, from the nocturnal techno and grainy textures of TVO and 10-20, through blistering rave from Hot City and the softer ambience of Pausal.

The latest EP in 10-20's Landforms series, Mountain, is due to drop any day now (review forthcoming in the next few days), but in the interim period label boss Thorsten Sideb0ard has put together a mix of the label's forthcoming material for 2010. It's available to listen and download from the label's blog and is well worth checking out, including as it does upcoming material from (amongst others) Brassica, Production Unit, 10-20 and Mandelbrot.

The label's never been one for sticking to an easily defined raft of styles, instead choosing to showcase a wide range of material that tends to be united in a slightly different or unusual outlook. The variety of stuff on the mixtape bodes well for this trend continuing well into the next few months.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Eighteen - On The Fly mix

Third CB/OB mix time - my February selection, all chucked together in an even more haphazard and unplanned manner than usual. More 'what u call it' business - Africanised house variations, garage, a grimey as hell opening ten minutes, some brand new bits, some doubles and some far older stuff. I've recently been caning Villalobos' Alcachofa album and Sully's Phonebox EP, so both found their way onto here.

Available to download here

Alexander Nut – Anti-Focus Part One [unreleased]
Cosmin TRG – Siberian Poker [Tempa]
Terror Danjah – Acid [Hyperdub]
Untold – Anaconda [Hessle Audio]
Erik XVI – Unionens Sista Dagar (Hot City Remix) [Highpoint Lowlife]
Mosca – Gold Bricks, I See You [Fabric]
Jumping Back Slash – IBITHITI 1 [unreleased]
Martyn – Hear Me (Zomby Remix) [3024]
Hanuman – Bola (Atki2 Remix) [Idle Hands]
DVA – Ganja [Hyperdub]
Cooly G – Him Da Biz [self-released]
Eprom – Never [Surefire]
Cosmin TRG – Love 2 Hide [unreleased]
Sully – Phonebox [Frijsfo]
James Fox – Put It Back (Ramadanman Remix) [Take]
Ricardo Villalobos – Easy Lee [Playhouse]
Mosca – Square One (Roska Remix) [Night Slugs]
Hackman – Funky Tune [unreleased]
Royal T – 1Up (Martin Kemp Remix) [No Hats No Hoods]
Atki2 & Dub Boy – Tigerflower [Idle Hands]
Alex Nut – Wotberry [unreleased]
Greena – Actual Pain [Apple Pips]
Hot City – Setting Me Free [Infrasonics]

Also available to stream at m'DJ page

Monday mix - Spatial (FACT Magazine)

Nice way to start the week: Infrasonics head honcho Spatial has put together a seriously fine looking mix for FACT magazine, bringing together some of his own, uber-sparse sci-fi garage productions with new aces from Hot City, Xxxy, Ike Release and more.

Geddit here.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Fabriclive 50: Autonomic [Fabric]

It's been a fine old start for 2010 for the people at Fabric. Not simply content with hitting the big five-oh in style with mix CDs from Martyn - and now Instra:mental & dBridge - they've also put out a serious early contender for unmixed compilation of the year in Elevator Music. A decent way to spoil aficionados of UK-centric bass music's ongoing evolution then.

Instra:mental & dBridge's Fabriclive 50 mix is worthy of the position it's been given in the series' history. Less a dancefloor oriented artefact than a document of the d'n'b innovations that the Autonomic crowd have been pushing over the last couple of years, it's a reminder that there are still producers of interest working in a medium that seems increasingly hackneyed. Stripping drum 'n' bass back to its bare bones, and subtracting that horrible 'emphasis on dance energy at the expense of pretty much everything else' tendency, it strikes a well-pitched balance between sit-down listenable and jump-around-your-bedroom fun (in the last twenty minutes or so, at least).

I reviewed the record in full for DiS - it's up here.

"The moment
Autonomic drifts hazily from the speakers, the first thing you become aware of is just how immaculately programmed it is. Such is the careful dedication with which this mix has been put together that it’s nigh on impossible to pick apart consecutive tracks. In fact at times it’s almost possible to detect the ghostly remnants of a tune that went by three or four tracks hence – the melancholy strains of Loxy & Genotype’s ‘Farah’s Theme’ weaving into the backdrop of D-Bridge’s stunning remix of Scuba’s ‘Tense’, or the tightly interlocked trio of Instra:mental tracks that form an early highlight. Its impressive 31 track length doesn’t allow much time for any individual to take centre stage: Autonomic flows like a night out, a series of short, interconnected but often ambiguous vignettes that together constitute a formidable whole."

Bonobo/Floating Points/Appleblim & Komonazmuk [Ninjatune]

For better or worse, I’ve always lumped Bonobo in with the ongoing legions of fluffy, post-club chillout artists who manage to piece together tracks with a wonderful list of contributing influences and absolutely no real substance or originality. It might have been an unfair judgement, as his new single ‘Eyesdown’ is a pretty nice little thing. Yes, it drifts by almost unnoticed on a cloud of downtempo warmth, and it’s got the requisite smooth female vocal, but Andreya Triana’s honeyed tones are the same that graced the astral glide of Flying Lotus’ ‘Tea Leaf Dancers’. The line she treads between passion and aloof detachment, along with an airy two-step bounce, just manages to elevate the original mix above the surrounding hordes.

However, all this having been said, there’s always a risk of being outshone when you draft in some of the most exciting operators around to remix your music. This is certainly one such moment, although perhaps not entirely to Bonobo’s discredit, as it would be tough to better Floating Points’ delectable refix. Applying his stargazing fusion of styles to Triana’s untouched vocal, he wraps her in fast-paced currents of synth that layer up then peel away in a deep house/UK garage hybrid reminiscent of his Planet Mu release ‘J&W Beat’.

Warrior One takes ‘Eyesdown’ into funky/bashment territory, all sliced vocals and perpetual dancefloor motion, but Appleblim & Komonazmuk pull a similar trick to Floating Points in far bettering the original. Sticking to the precedent set with their previous collaborations – stunning reworks of Sideshow’s ‘If Alone’ and Harmonia & Eno’s ‘By The Riverside’ – they stretch the original into a dubbed-out house session a world away from either producer’s solo work. Even if it’s not quite as fascinating or compulsively listenable as either of those remixes, it’s largely to do with the simplicity of the source material, and carries its own charm – a blissful bit of vocal house for a chilly Sunday.

And in a standard 'swap your details for tunes' move, they're giving away Warrior One's remix for free at
Bonobo's website - might be worth that little bit of extra spam in your inbox.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Hot City - XLR8R Mix

An appropriately upbeat early start to the weekend - Hot City has recorded the latest in XLR8R's ever-essential series of mixes, kicking through an hour of neon-bright post-garage, four-to-the-floor goodness. A good way to begin a Friday.

Download it here

Scorching tracklist below:

01 Hot City "What Am I Doin"
02 Terrence Parker "Why After All This" (Seventh Sign)
03 Karizma "Neccessarry Maddness" (R2)
04 Justin Martin "Beat That Bird With a Bat (Donk Boys Remix)" (Dirtybird)
05 DJ Zinc "Because" (Bingo)
06 Mike Dehnert "Umlaut2 (Levon Vincent NY Basement Mix)" (Clone)
07 Shams "Watch You Foam at the Mouth and Try to Swim Today" (Vicious Pop)
08 Cubic Zirconia "Josephine (Egyptrixx Remix)" (Don't Cry)
09 Grevious Angel "Move Down Low (VIP Mix)" (Soul Jazz)
10 Hot City "Another Girl"
11 Tolfrey/Ramirez "Bounce To Me (Lauhaus Remix)" (Phonica)
12 DJ Assault "In The Club"
13 Black Box "Ride On Time (Zombie Disco Squad Remix)" (AATW)
14 Jay Robinson & Screama "Down (Original Mix)" (Monkey Beats)
15 The 2 Bears "Be Strong" (Southern Fried)
16 Nochexxx "Sandspur"
17 Jodey Kendrick "Dirt Devil" (Rephlex)
18 Jimmy Edgar "B There" (Hypercolour)
19 SBTRKT "Laika" (Brainmath)
20 Harmonimix "A Milli" (Harmonimix)

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Field Music (Measure)

I've just reviewed the actually-very-good new album from Field Music, who I've always admired rather than loved, for Middle Boop. It reminds me a lot of Of Montreal's Skeletal Lamping, had Kevin Barnes reined in his glut of ideas and actually managed to stay focused long enough to avoid flying off on random tangents. This, of course, is a good thing. Oh, and the album artwork is lovely as well.

"It seems that pop has always been defined by the seemingly irreconcilable tension between its makers’ restless quest for immortality and their music’s fundamentally ephemeral nature. Yet at its basest level pop music aims to freeze-frame a moment in time – a moment when its creators will forever be wrinkle-free and that song means as much as it ever can, or will. The song itself should be the immortal medium, remaining identical long after the people who sired it have slipped off this mortal coil. The very essence of the ‘rock star’ is flawed – if your music really matters it will outlive you, and the fountain of youth will preserve a memory as fleeting as the period when Dorian Gray saw his true reflection in a portrait.

Fatalistic? Sure, but this undeniable truth is what lends those fleeting moments such gravitas. Take Field Music’s closest contemporaries and sometime bandmates, The Futureheads, who in a dizzying twist of luck (or fate) managed to craft a perfect pop album first time round, and since have suffered at the hands of the law of ever-diminishing returns. So in some ways you’d expect the same fate to have befallen the brothers Brewis – they write guitar songs with perfectly executed triple-layer harmonies; Beach Boys, Beatles and post-punk influences present and correct Saah. Undeniably pop musicians in every way then. So why is it that three albums down the line they remain as difficult to fathom as ever – and all the more rewarding for it?

Review up here.

Apple Pips, Fabric, 19th February

Appleblim's Apple Pips label has some seriously good stuff coming out in the near future, a lot of it from local Bristol producers - established ones like Komonazmuk, as well as upcomers Al Tourettes, Arkist and Orphan 101. He's just recorded a staggering mix for Fabric, his first longform one for quite a while, as a promo for the upcoming Apple Pips takeover of Room Three on 19th February. It's going to be a massive one, featuring sets from Greena, Al Tourettes, Wedge and Gatekeeper, as well as the boss man himself.

Mix and interview up at Fabric's blog here.

The tracklist looks something like thiiis:

Data - The Fall of Phaeton (dub)
False Prophet - Wake Up [Spatial remix] (TAKE Records)
Gatekeeper - Atmosphere Processor (dub)
Arkist - Switch (dub)
Scuba - You Got Me (Hotflush)
Wedge - Worry Dolls (If Symptoms Persist)
Headhunter & Gatekeeper - Jellyfish (Transistor)
Addison Groove - Footcrab (Swamp 81)
Al Tourettes - She Shimmers (Apple Pips)
Joe - Untitled #2 (Apple Pips)
Greena - Actual Pain (Apple Pips)
Hard House Banton & Roska - Warning (dub)
Atki2 & Dub Boy - Tigerflower (Idle Hands)
Midland & Ramadanman - Your Words Matter (Aus)

That Midland & Ramadanman tune is something else entirely.

Zomby Vs. Actress - 'Nothing'

More new, slightly terrifying Zomby and Actress music? Yes please.

After a pair of Zomby & Actress tracks appeared a month or so ago, another one has emerged today courtesy of Zomby's Twitter. Like the last two, 'Nothing' is a slow, sketch-like piece of dystopian atmosphere, glitching and roiling for a couple of minutes before swiftly cutting out.

Whether these are the full tracks, chopped in typically contrary Zomby style, or some kind of tease for an upcoming proper release (hint, hint), it remains to be seen, but they're quite lovely in a nocturnal, council estate kinda way.

Photo: 'New River' by Nico Hogg

Harmonimix - A Milli/Bills Bills Bills [White]

There’s a cheeky sense of humour (not to mention copyright infringement) about the Harmonimix bootlegs that certainly warrants a release on an anonymous white label. Of course, in the information age it’s next to impossible to stay anonymous for too long. The fact that these ‘alternative’ versions of Lil Wayne’s ‘A Milli’ and, brilliantly, Destiny’s Child’s ‘Bills, Bills, Bills’ should be attributed to a certain Mr. James Blake has swiftly become common knowledge.

Even if they hadn’t previously been outed as his work, both tracks here have Blake’s sonic hallmarks stamped all over them. In a similar manner to his ‘Stop What You’re Doing’ remix, he takes the source material and constructs a new track over the top, adding layer upon layer of increasingly dissonant harmony until the music simply can’t support its own weight any more. It’s testament to his version of ‘A Milli’ that it stands out amongst its hordes of other remixes, the use of saccharine toy keyboard melodies somehow managing to convert the original’s bragging aggression into something surprisingly heartfelt.

The detuned dementia of ‘Bills, Bills, Bills’ is the real winner here though. It’s not simply because Destiny’s Child’s original has managed to avoid the kind of ubiquitous overplay Weezy’s been subjected to - although it has - but due to the sheer balls it takes to recast a silky smooth piece of modern R’n’B into this crunked-up robot chorus. There’s a little of the disorientation of his Hemlock release ‘Air & Lack Thereof’ in its staggering gait, but by the time he introduces a long-awaited human element in the final chorus it’s become obvious that Blake is following a pretty unique trajectory. Just like Ikonika, Untold or tourmates Mount Kimbie, once again a producer initially lumped in with the dubstep crowd is proving to be something quite different, and quite original.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Erik XVI - Stern-Gerlachs Versioner [Highpoint Lowlife]

Leaving aside for a second the fact that their recent string of unique releases has been well and truly salivated over in these very pages, it does feel necessary to place some emphasis on Highpoint Lowlife’s latest. They've managed to bring together a sort of alternative all-star line up [Editor’s note: by which it’s possible to read: ‘followed with interest by me, perhaps not to the same extent by a large percentage of the population’] to remix Erik XVI’s Stern-Gerlachs Forsook EP. A surprisingly coherent listen, due to the source material’s common themes of melody and mood, it serves as an emphatic reminder of the considerable hotbed of underground talent the label is associated with.

Its opener is also one of its highlights; TVO’s aptly titled Latitudinal Mix of ‘Unionens sista dagar’ picks up immediately where his Starry Wisdom EP left off. Driven by the ominous clack and scuttle of insectoid mandibles, it’s a constantly shifting slab of techno that stretches off to infinity on a trancelike locked groove. When it finally heads skyward at around the six-minute mark, a translucent wash of ambience swells to occupy every available space, summoning up the hazy ghosts of Detroit. Both Ali Renault and Bill Ambrose also reach backward towards a similar geographic region, the former’s smooth lines a strong contrast to the latter’s Drexciyan electro stammer.

The capital’s bass mutations are well represented in the form of two polar opposites – Hot City’s sleazy, neon-lit garage and an ultra-minimalist, stripped back version of ‘Kalabaliken i Bender’ by Infrasonics bossman Spatial. Consisting of little more than brittle electronics and blank pulses of sub-bass, like the rest of his music it takes the structure of two-step to its logical extreme – stark and withdrawn, save a lone female voice crying into the void. It’s placing alongside Gravious’ absolutely immense Anti-Gravity Mix only serves to further emphasise both tracks’ considerable charm, as well as doing a neat job of highlighting the sheer diversity of interpretations on show here. Delectable stuff.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

A Sunday tonic

Some sublime Sunday hangover business: Mount Kimbie's remix of LV & Untold's 'Beacon'. A tonic to ease the pain from last night's Sonic Router birthday celebrations.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Mix, mix, mix

Without further ado, a Ronseal-style post containing three of the week's best offers in the free mix department. Does exactly what it says on the tin.

Alex Incyde has mixed up a storm for the latest in Dub War's ongoing series of podcasts, pulling together an impressive roster of none-deeper dubs including new material from Scuba, FaltyDL and Al Tourettes, plus an appearance from Bath boy Asusu's mighty 'No Kya'. Well worth the bandwidth theft for the few minutes it'll take to steal a bit of your hard drive. Download it here.


CB/OB's got a lot of love for Cooly G - even amongst her peer group she seems almost criminally overlooked at times, perhaps because a huge quantity of her best material is only available on the Dub Organizer EPs from Blackmarket Records. Seriously -- take the time to investigate the fourth volume in the series, which shifts from the canned brass stabs and frosty glow of opener 'Weak' to the glorious percussive whirlwind that is 'Vs Perry'. It also happens to include her finest track to date, the softly yearning 'Him Da Biz', which has been rightly rinsed by Kode9 in his sets over the last six months or so. Following on from her tough-as contribution to FACT's podcast series, she's just recorded the first of a promised 'pair' of new mixes for XLR8R. Featuring material from herself, DVA, Martyn & DJ Gregory, it continues to skirt her distinctive line between downtempo atmosphere and dancefloor pace.


Oh, and did someone mention a new free mix from Rinse FM's top man Geeneus? Arriving sometime in advance of his eagerly awaited Volumes Two compilation (hopefully featuring his incendiary collab with Ms. Dynamite, 'Get Low'), it flicks between hard-edged UKF stylings and his recent deeper house and techno excursions. It's good.

Short Circuitry: January-February 2010

Muso's Guide have just published the latest in my ongoing series of Short Circuitry columns. This one takes a look at the future of bass mutants in 2010, from Fabric's excellent Elevator Music compilation to the first few Night Slugs releases - via Erik XVI's remixes EP, new stuff from Kieran Hebden, Millie & Andrea.

Bare love for Mosca --
"On the dancefloor, 2010 looks set to be
Night Slugs’ year – the London night set up by Bok Bok and L-Vis 1990 has spiraled out into its own label, the first couple of releases from which look set to saturate clubs for the foreseeable future. Their first official 12” is Mosca’s long-awaited Square One, based somewhere in the hinterlands where dub’s expansive space meets funky’s tribal bounce. It’s certainly less immediate than some of funky’s biggest hitters, the title track’s tension between smooth legato and shattered vocal soul more akin to Cooly G than Crazy Cousinz - a conviction borne out on the compulsively brilliant B-side. A nocturnal tryst through London clubland’s astral plane, ‘Nike’ is three tracks in one – ten minutes of constantly morphing, ethereal dance music that manages to cram in an impressive roster of influences yet sound like nothing else around."

Read the full column here.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

The Ex & Brass Unbound + Zun Zun Egui

Last Friday the Fleece played host to the opening night of an eagerly anticipated tour: The Ex & Brass Unbound, featuring the jazz chops of Mats Gustafsson, Ken Vandermark, Roy Paci and Walter Wierbos. Even better, our local firebrands Zun Zun Egui were in support.

I reviewed the gig in full for Muso's Guide, but suffice to say that it was a singular experience - the entire time teetering on the edge of chaos, with excursions into free-jazz and frenzied Afrobeat all reined in by the skill of each musician on stage. Exhausting, but thoroughly worthwhile.

"And there are points where the bonds do seem to dissolve almost entirely – around halfway through the set everything falls away to a blaze of muddy background noise, structureless until Mats Gustafsson suddenly enters the vacant space with a furious and soulful saxophone figure. Whether it’s entirely planned or entirely improvised – or somewhere in the middle – it’s impossible to say, but it hardly matters.

Full review up here. I strongly urge you to make the effort to try and catch them at one of the remaining three dates.

A Made Up Sound - Sun Touch/Drain/Untitled [AMUS]

Although his Unbalance album last year was a significant step forward from 2008’s Aerial, which managed to take occasional missteps into clinical austerity, I’ve always found Dave Huismans’ A Made Up Sound material far more engaging than his music as 2562. It’s got something to do with a level of human connection – 2562 seems to act as the home for some of Huismans’ most alien abstractions, all sharp angles and blank canvas synth wash. By contrast, the first 12” on his AMUS label remained defiantly in touch with body movement: ‘Rework’ remains his most direct statement yet, a deft exercise in perpetual motion with an addictive-as-hell central motif that swings like a pendulum across successively busier layers of percussion.

A different beast again, his second release for the label further rewires the circuits of house and techno into something even more elusive. Unlike the current upsurge in producers incorporating more relaxed percussive aspects to their slower tempo tracks, Huismans’ productions rely on precision and pinpoint accuracy – their appeal lies in the chemistry that ensues when that rhythmic tension is played off against looser elements. Despite what its title might suggest, ‘Sun Touch’ is one of his most icy tracks yet, a sparse construction built almost entirely of tightly interlocking elements: music as modern architecture, all sharp angles and translucent surfaces of steel and glass. But in the spirit of futurism, it’s not soulless, playing its cool exterior against barely tangible wisps of looped melody that drift through the superstructure like action potentials.

The same contradiction is also true of the excellent ‘Drain’, which reimagines the urban dissociation of Burial, Scuba and Instra:mental as outright dystopian menace. Sparse save the ever-present mechanistic grind, it stretches out to an infinity of imagined futures. At heart, Huismans comes across as a restless experimentalist. The final ‘Untitled (Shortcut)’ aside – itself a sketch-like version of last year’s ‘Love In Outer Space’ – only the most cerebral of dancefloors would be ready for the future shocks he delivers here. It’s music to lose your mind in.

145 Collective Presents...

'WINTER OF LOVE', the latest in my ongoing collaborative efforts with local art peeps 145 Collective will be taking place at the Junction, Stokes Croft this Tuesday coming (9th February). The usual drill remains the same - interactive art in the back, live music in the front, this time from Jolt, We Are The Nynes and Open Tales. I will be doing my usual part, spinning vaguely appropriate music for a Tuesday night - depending on the mood, everything from Waits to Wiley and back again.

If all goes according to plan, next month should see our efforts move to a Friday. Expect an exponentially higher proportion of party music to folk delights.

DVA - Natty/Ganja [Hyperdub]

Already the definition of a ‘buy on sight’ label, last year was an upping of the ante for Hyperdub. Quite aside from the heady list of seperate 12”s – crunked up stylings from Mark Pritchard and Joker, the double pronged grimewave of Cooly G’s ‘Narst’ and Kode9’s ‘Black Sun’ – ending 2009 with the 5 Years Of Hyperdub compilation was sufficient to consolidate exactly how influential Kode9’s label continues to be. But refreshingly enough, in this case the term ‘influential’ doesn’t have to indicate any level of beard strokery – it’s all visceral stuff, making groove and physicality as much a priority as emotional impact.

On the evidence of Kode9’s studio session on Gilles Peterson’s Radio 1 show last week, this year might just go one better. He bookended the show with his own unfinished dubs - the Spaceape-featuring ‘Other Man’ particularly spectacular, even in its embryonic form a synth-driven monster sharing its mutant DNA with ‘2 Far Gone’ and ‘Oozi’. By April we’re also due new material from Kyle Hall, Ikonika and Terror Danjah, whose upcoming 12” pulls together a pair of incendiary slabs of instrumental grime.

Meanwhile, as an opening gambit for 2010, Rinse’s own hyperactive breakfast host Scratcha DVA has put together a pair of bizarre and brilliant future house-not-house riddims. While the best products of the funky explosion thus far have worn their grime influences overtly – the clipped chords and driving energy of the likes of Cooly G and Roska – DVA takes his background in the genre and subverts it entirely. Stripped back to its bare essentials, ‘Natty’ sounds like nothing else out there. Its only touchstones are the percussion’s implied bounce and warping bursts of eski bass while a vague hint of tropical melody seems to stand out in hyperreality, lurching back and forth in a fug of overcaffeinated nausea. It’s heady stuff, the kind of track that forces a dancefloor to reassess its motion from the ground up.

Hitting the cough syrup hard, ‘Ganja’ is more direct and almost painfully insistent, some distant and sickly cousin to the cartoon kwaito of Mujava’s ‘Township Funk’. The most immediately pleasing aspect of funky’s emergence has been a loosening of percussive rigidity – there’s none of grime’s spasmodic kick-snare whipcrack or dubstep’s happy halfstep rut here. Instead, held in check by house’s mandatory offbeat hi-hat, DVA sends tendrils of Afrobeat percussion off in wildly divergent directions, hinting at the wild possibility of a thousand new drum patterns still to be discovered.