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April Chart – Nearing Summer!

April 27, 2010

This is where I mention some of the stuff I’ve been listening to other that I don’t usually post about. I’ll run it down a bit like the Top 10, except you probably won’t find Justin Bieber up against Usher. I say probably…

10. I’ve posted this guy before, and I must say, his sound is deteriorating a little, but this track is pretty good as a ‘pop’ track. It’s the usual chopped-up affair from GOLD PANDA, but this time with a simple beat and almost exclusive use of the same vocal sample throughout. And the success of that on its own is impressive.

“You” – Gold Panda

9. These guys have already done a second album and there’s talk about ANOTHER remix album. Some people think their music – a blend of noise rock and electronica – sounds like having a pneumatic drill in the face, but I quite like the direction they’re taking. I admit, in HEALTH‘s early days they were a little intimidating, but their music is getting a little maturer and in turn more accessible. Despite what I said about their latest video


8. Talking of a refined sound (I think the emphasis of this post will be ‘improvements’), BLK JKS seem to have finally embraced their African surroundings a little better, rather than ‘trying to be weird’/regarding too many Western influences. I have no idea what they’re singing about (maybe the title stands for “Zulu Out Laughing”?), but it brings me back to Graceland a little, which I will probably never turn down.


7. I was surprised to hear that THE RUBY SUNS had returned, and seem to be contending with everyone often put in the same category as them at one point – Gang Gang Dance, Architecture In Helsinki and the like. Either way, I like it, and at least it’s upbeat, even if the whole vocal echo/reverb thing is getting a bit overused. Who cares!

“Dusty Fruit” – The Ruby Suns

6. Now I hadn’t heard from these guys for a while. Then my sister pointed them out again, as she’d bought a couple of their records. FAIR OHS might not have the most ‘schooled’ vocalist, but for some reason they remind me a little bit of Frank Black‘s. Then again you’ve got to give them some credit – the guitars are a fiddly joy. In fact, it all just seems to work – a bit garage rock, a bit surf rock, a bit afrobeat, and bullshit free. And there’s a lot of youthful energy in them, which is also refreshing!

“Eden Rock” – Fair Ohs

5. Now they may not be bringing much to the table this time, but HOLY FUCK are at least back, with the attitude they originally had. And they’re not faffing about with too many vocals either – their last albums pacing was a bit varied, I always found a few songs to be out-of-place…anyway, this stuff’s back to basics, all about the rhythm, making as much noise as possible, and creating atmosphere. This track is a good solid example of the Holy Fuck I love, and I hope to see them live (with SBTRKT supporting!) in the next month or so, if not, hopefully at a festival. If you get the chance, do go and see them – they’re the next best thing to seeing Battles!

“SHT MTN” – Holy Fuck

4. I heard these guys sometime last year, young startups making a bit of noise in NYC. Next thing I hear, M.I.A‘s signed them and they’re bringing out an album! She might be onto a winner here – Diplo was a bit off with his findings (Pakistani duo Po Po). SLEIGH BELLS can sure make a racket – as much as Gravy Train!!!! or Le Tigre did, or the last album from The Kills – but who they really remind me of is The Rogers Sisters, who split up a while back (shame). But yeah, a bit lo-fi, a bit garagy, a bit of hippedy-hop shit. Tight stuff.

“A/B Machines” – Sleigh Bells

3. I didn’t think the new FOALS album would be quite as relaxed as it is. A lot of people are complaining about it, but I could see them going in this kind of direction at some point, but maybe not so soon. But the new album proves they can at least produce an album that’s consistent, though putting a lot of their ferocity aside. I can imagine this not being as brilliant live, but then again, I’m not doing a live review now am I? Hehe.

“Black Gold” – Foals

2. Now for the next two tracks, it’s a little bit more about the albums, but I thought I’d pick a couple of tracks I really did love. It was tough, but that’s because CARIBOU‘s new album really is astounding. When I first skipped through it I just thought he was making a lot of fussy noise – the same mistake I made with Joe Goddard‘s solo album, Harvest Festival, last year, which I now realise was criminally overlooked. The only difference with this is that everybody’s praising Caribou’s new one, titled Swim, and I can’t see why they wouldn’t. It’s a complete change of tack for Mr. Snaith – though I did admire his last album. In fact he’s really picked up since he changed his moniker. But this new stuff is really different, very house-influenced, and overall a dance record. I could have picked any of the tracks from Swim really.

“Sun” – Caribou

1. I keep saying how surprised I am by half of this stuff, but this new BONOBO album I really didn’t expect. I still don’t think it might be as good as Four Tet‘s There Is Love In You. But that might just be because I’ve always loved Four Tet’s stuff, and only dabbled with Bonobo before. I have a lot of friends that are big Bonobo fans, and I haven’t yet heard what they think of this, but I recognise it’s a change in sound, but I think it’s for the better – his music hadn’t really leapt out at me before. I thought this change was a react to the whole techno/dubstep scene in London/Bristol etc, and according to recent interviews that’s certainly true, but also a lot of influence from krautrock and Swedish jazz was cited by Simon Green. Well that’s all quite interesting, but I don’t really care that much what he’s listening to, as long as he keeps making music like this. Again, I could have put up any track, but I think this tune represents Black Sands more than any other (even more so than the title track).

“1009” – Bonobo



Music Videos Gone Mad?

April 27, 2010

Hey, I’m not one to judge, nor am I one to pry on political correctness, but is it just me or are music videos getting a little too-big-for-their-boots? I was just thinking recently about a few videos, and how some of them are done really well, and how others are done well in some respects, but maybe have gone a bit too far.

When I heard one of my favourite comedians Peter Serafinowicz – mute scientist of Look Around You, terrifying voice of Darth Maul, zombie housemate of Shaun (of the Dead), and star of The Peter Serafinowicz Show – was set to do the new video for Hot Chip, I was enthralled. I also wondered what the hell he was gonna do. When I saw the end result, I was at first thrown off – was I watching the right video? Luckily I immediately recognised Alexis and Joe’s voices (despite the autotune) and soon the video was a revelation. Then I noticed the success it achieved across Twitter and the like. Now that proves how a music video can be successful if it throws away the usual formula but doesn’t go too far. I think the same can be said for the Major Lazer video that Eric Wareheim of Tim & Eric fame directed (that I posted here a while back), or the one I posted the other day for Die Antwoord – entirely novelty, a bit risqué, but not too graphic. That’s the word I’m looking for on the flipside…but yes, below you can watch a few videos I think are original, and quite playful, but good enough to show on MTV without your little sister crying/screaming/pointing.

So then we have the other videos, that throw ‘weird’ right out of the window, and straight into a deep, murky puddle of ‘dark’. Now I’m sure the film industry has had a large impact on the content of music videos, and we now see music video directors striving for a place in Hollywood, so it seems they need to perfect something that’s 3 minutes long maybe to prove they are adept at that particular aesthetic, or to appear professional, or whatever. But if they are doing that, then they’re bullshitting the public. And the only people who are likely to fully enjoy these kinds of videos are obscure scenesters (I don’t dwell on the correct labels) who revel in that kind of shit. What ever happened to the days of classic hip-hop videos in the late 80’s, or a grunge skate video a la Spike Jonze? The music video has become too filmic, in my opinion, and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing a majority of the time. Now by saying these things, I’m not attacking the artist or the director or any of their skills or talent, I’m just asking when does creativity turn a bit sour? I’m thinking a couple of videos I’m about to post could curdle in time – the first one seems to have been directed in response to Lars Von Trier’s last film, Antichrist, and is surprisingly directed, again, by Eric Wareheim, and the video following that, for M.I.A, has only just been released, and seems to be a combination of Gus Van Sant’s Elephant with Alfonso Cuaron’s Children Of Men – both videos with a ridiculous level of Saw-style gore (i.e. I could pretty much guess what was going to happen by the end). I wonder if these will get shown on daytime music channels next week?

Also try and watch the new Erykah Badu video and let me know if you think she went too far – I’m personally not offended by it, but do think it’s trying to be a little too ‘arty’, which affects the substance of the song, in my opinion. It was influenced by the Matt & Kim video (they first used that idea) which I really didn’t like. Anyway, let me know what you think – comment, and leave any videos you enjoy/don’t enjoy! I hope I’m not being too shitty and over-PC about all this – then again I don’t mean it in all seriousness! After all, I didn’t mind the Chris Cunningham videos for Aphex Twin…

50TH POST: Ghost of Hip-Hop Future…

April 26, 2010

For the 50th post on this blog, I thought I’d do something a bit different – talk about hip-hop in the ‘post-modern’ age. Nas once said that hip-hop was dead, but I think in his head he didn’t believe that, or at least he doesn’t now. In the past few years, I’ve seen a lot of hype played around a lot of hip-hop producers and artists, but a lot of it is false and unjustified – merely just hype. In a day when Kanye West can sell millions of albums, it worries me how hip-hop can have become like this, and I wonder if things will return to how they used to be in the 80’s and 90’s.

So when I mentioned NAS, it was for a good reason. He’s an artist with a lot of talent, and who I’d previously thought had gone downhill since his early success, but he’s starting to redeem himself in my eyes. I believe he’s now back on track again – I’m not saying he’s the saviour of hip-hop, or a highly respectable rapper. What I’m saying is he’s a big-name rapper who seems to be doing things intelligently (unlike Mr. West). Laying down an edit of GIL SCOTT-HERON‘s new material is proof of that – Scott-Heron could be seen as a underlying link between soul, poetry and hip-hop, and it hasn’t really become apparent until now, strangely.

“New York Is Killing Me” (Re-Edit ft. Nas) – Gil Scott-Heron

Nas’ recent work with Bob’s youngest son DAMIAN MARLEY is a step forward in hip-hop collaborations, in my opinion, blending the ideas of hip-hop, dancehall/reggae, and Africa together. My favourite part about this track is the instrumental, sampling Ethio-jazz legend Mulatu Astatke, probably my favourite African musician. This kind of music – being produced today – is exciting, and an adventurous use of what’s already here – what’s been before – and what represents now and the future. So I’m looking forward to their collaboration album Distant Relatives, and really hope it delivers, or I’m back to listening to underground geniuses like DOOM.

“As We Enter” – Damian Marley & Nas

Now MADLIB has taken a interesting turn with GUILTY SIMPSON, producing an album controversially entitled OJ Simpson. This is quite an aggressive address to the situation, but also no-bullshit. A simple, straightforward collaboration album of producer and rapper. The track above is a tribute to the late J Dilla, whose death has had quite an effect on the hip-hop community, as many feel he had so much left in him – he may have even had the power to reform hip-hop.

“OJ Simpson” – Guilty Simpson (Prod. by Madlib)

Saying all this though, there’s another question – do you need to be a hip-hop producer to produce hip-hop? Do hip-hop producers have to always work in hip-hop? Can rappers produce their own backing tracks? And are rappers going to all the wrong producers when they could be digging a bit deeper beneath the topsoil?

In my opinion, there are a lot of talented electronic musicians who have the ability to take hip-hop in a different direction. Now people like Madlib still use a lot of sampling, the staple of hip-hop instrumentals. But sometimes a bit of screwing around, or even newly produced sounds – alien sounds, sounds you would have never heard before now – could be utilised. Who ever said you couldn’t make your own samples? Well I have below a couple of examples – Kieran Hebden, also known as FOUR TET, produced a track for ALOE BLACC using mostly samples. Now Hebden isn’t a hip-hop producer usually, but he managed to back in ’07. So this isn’t new, just overlooked. And FLYING LOTUS has shown recently that he can successfully come up with something complicated, with ridiculous layering of sound, and produce something a bit more interesting than your average digitally-produced beat…

“Happy Now” – Aloe Blacc (Prod. by Four Tet)

“Galaxy in Janaki” – Flying Lotus

It’s a wonder why performers don’t take advantage of this shit! Occasionally, it might be because they don’t need to. JAY ELECTRONICA is an example of a one-man package. In his own words:

I took Eternal Sunshine an’ I looped it, no drums no hook jus’ new shit

This kind of direct contact with production is also an overlooked option for somebody wanting to get their lyrics heard – an alternative, up-to-date direction for aspiring hip-hop lyricists.

“Eternal Sunshine (The Pledge)” – Jay Electronica

As I was saying before though, there are a lot of overlooked producers, or perhaps less overlooked and more unknown. People are championing Dam-Funk for his production, but if you ask me it’s not that new – Dilla has done it before (see video above), and it’s just sounding a bit too 80’s – not 80’s hip-hop, but cheesy 80’s pop. What a lot of people don’t realise is there are a lot of producers right in front of us. Namely, these include Glaswegian celebrated master of bleeps, HUDSON MOHAWKE, ridiculously talented Austrian producer DORIAN CONCEPT, and Nottingham-Based mystery LONE. I think what might scare a lot of people is their youth and their European appearance, but their music is absolutely staggering. Their influence stems from a broad pallette of electronic music – dubstep, techno, electronica and garage – but hip-hop is the key element here, and the overall power. It would be interesting to hear vocals over some of these.

“Fuse” – Hudson Mohawke

“No One Could Ever” – Hudson Mohawke

“Tropical Hands” – Dorian Concept

“Fort Teen” – Dorian Concept

“Love Heads” – Lone

“Sungrazer Cascade” – Lone

Let the sun in!

April 26, 2010

So this month a few remixes have come to my attention, and they’re pretty seminal to modern electronic music, particularly this global rhythm – a blend of techno/garage/2-step/house/dubstep with a bit of something for everyone. I truly believe this kind of music could be slipped into almost any set and go down a storm. Take note.

Okay, so a good place to start things off is yet another mix by SBTRKT. This one’s too big to miss though. It’s been around for a while, but it’s absolutely incredible, and a great set-opener (heard it on Jackmaster’s mix back in January). Check:

“Art & Cash” (SBTRKT Remix) – Modeselektor

Now SEIJI is pretty good at bass-heavy house remixes, as you can hear. They’re punchy, a little bit commercial, but also cross over to the d’n’b side of things. His own produced stuff is pretty good too, quite progressive, definitely good filler for a set. Listen to his self-produced stuff above.

“Stylo” (Seiji Remix) – Gorillaz

“Honey” (Seiji Remix) – Erykah Badu

And there have been loads of new singles/EPs out recently…some of them brilliant. COSMIN TRG has unexpectedly hit us with a new single, as his sound has panned into the house/techno/garage realm. This one’s a bit more fleshed out than his previous EP, which isn’t exactly bad news. Try it!

“See Other People” – Cosmin TRG

Warp have once again delivered something completely out-of-the-blue. This time it’s ex-pat duo AFRICA HITECH, also known as Steve Spacek and Mark Pritchard. The track above shows a more chilled light dub, a la Instra:mental or Scuba, whilst the track below features a wobbly dancehall/garage blen(d…see what I did there?). Anyway, it’s pretty bangin’.

“Blen (Remix)” – Africa Hitech

Our favourite Mr. JAMES BLAKE is back with a soul-filled swoony shuffler for us, out on R&S Records. This EP is beautiful, and everyone seems to be raving about it. I personally think this (below) is the best track though – some people too often head for the title track. Must be deaf! Anyway, this guy is pretty much the perfect replacement to Burial (who I find boring) and this proves why. He seems to be in that same kinda school of ‘careful’ producers like Mount Kimbie, LV and Floating Points

“Postpone” – James Blake

Moving on, ACTRESS seems to be back with an album! Another cheeky surprise this month! I have a feeling this one will be like a bull in a china shop, it might even show up what labelmate Zomby has brought to the table in the past (then again, check the new Zomby tune above)! What do you think?

“Always Human” – Actress

Next up is possibly the most exciting EP this month. Night Slugs consistently stream the best in world-oriented electronic music. GIRL UNIT is somebody a lot of people are excited about, including myself. His EP on Night Slugs, titled I.R.L EP, has the sheer girth of what managers (and big players) L-Vis 1990 and Bok Bok are capable of. I hear their next installment will be from Lil Silva, which sounds just as exciting. Have a listen to Girl Unit’s production below – I’ll tease you though, you’re not getting the title track (which is fucking ESSENTIAL by the way, so buy it)!

“Shade On” – Girl Unit – sorry, asked to remove by Bok Bok…

BONUS HOUSE MIX: “IRL” (French Fries Remix) – Girl Unit – sorry asked to remove by Bok Bok…

We all heard DJ MUJAVA‘s “Township Funk” back in ’08/’09 (see video above). Well this next track has popped up every now and then since then, but the South African house producer hasn’t been well represented in the West. Not to say his release of “Township Funk” by Warp didn’t go down a storm. I just think kwaito has been overshadowed by West Indian or South American equivalents, generally, such as baile funk or soca, or even its neighbour, kuduro. This kind of kwaito best represents Western-influenced African dance music, in my opinion. I thought I’d throw in the mix by Germany-based hype kings Schlachthofbronx there too, as I love those guys.

“Mugwanti / Sgwejegweje” – DJ Mujava

“Mugwanti / Sgwejegweje” (Schlachthofbronx Remix) – DJ Mujava

Lastly, I’ll leave you with something I was really excited about finding, but couldn’t find the full track until now…probably my favourite d’n’b producer, remixed by one of the best garage producers. This is quite an oldie (2001), but a rarity.

“Lucky Pressure” (MJ Cole Vocal Remix) – Roni Size

Enjoy the sun…

April 20, 2010

Rave Special

April 14, 2010

So! Our boy KANJI KINETIC has a new EP out, and it’s lush as fuck! The title track, “Zombiezz” is a B-movie (B for Bass) dubby grinder that uppercuts you when you least expect. The remixes are also pretty sick, but the B-sides are a bit more interesting (in my opinion), blending rave stylings with bassline stop-drops and rolls, and one of them (“New Era”) a d’n’b type dubstep blaze. I’ll give you one of the B-sides, but you can preview the other tracks above and buy them if you like any!

“Toy Guns” – Kanji Kinetic

Anyway, other that that, I got a copy of the new Don’t Panic press pack, and on the back was this:

BANGFACE WEEKENDER. I can’t bloody make it but my slice has been a couple of times. This lineup seems like the best they’ve had, with 16bit, AC Slater, Appleblim, Bok Bok, The BugGeneral Levy (ha), Jackmaster, Joker, Luke Vibert, Matthew Herbert, Raffertie, Spor, Venetian Snares and SQUIRE OF GOTHOS! It’s next weekend, and it’s supposedly insane. Not bad price either. So get to East Sussex if you can!

I mentioned Squire of Gothos the other day and forgot I’d never actually posted any of their stuff. I reckon they and Kanji are mixing rave elements with garage/dubstep/bassline in ways no-one else could. So I give you, Squire of Gothos:

“Life’s A Bitch” (Squire of Gothos Remix) – Nas


“Dominator” – Partyshank

“Love Guide” (Pirate Soundsystem Remix) – Two Culture Clash

Beatures: Hackman, Untold, Débruit and more…

April 11, 2010

Starting this post off with a BANG, I think I’ll expose some of you to some new talent. DIE ANTWOORD are a crazy trio from South Africa. Kinda like the Afrikaans answer to Coco Solid or Bumblebeez. Check their insane video below. SLAP IN THE BASS are a bassline/electro/house duo specialising in Lee Mortimer-esque insanity, though parts of it remind me of the more ravey Kicks Like A Mule, Squire of Gothos or Kanji Kinetic. They’re also known as Dirty Monkeez, who I posted up before…definitely keep an eye on these guys.

“Zef Side” (Slap In The Bass Remix) – Die Antwoord

I’m surprised I hadn’t checked out DÉBRUIT properly before now. I thought it would just be some obscure stuff like Kotchy or something. But funnily enough he’s not, he’s more like Poirier. Like a Frencher version of Poirier. That’s how I’d box him anyway. He’s been remixed by the likes of Daedelus and Octa Push, as well as Reso (whose remix I’m giving you lovely people) and he’s done a recent EP for the Haiti victims. Don’t ignore this stuff, it’s wonderful tropical noise ejaculations.

“Changement” – Débruit

“Nigeria What?” – Débruit

“Soles Sweat” (Reso Remix) – Débruit

Next up are a couple of brilliant fresh producers. FANTASTIC MR FOX has been jogging under the radar for a while, and his style is quite innovative and well-refined. It’s a little bit like James Blake and Floating Points, which is never ever a bad thing at all. I missed the chance to see him DJ with his friend Rich Reason on a bill including Claude VonStroke, Julio Bashmore, LV, Untold, Mumdance, Scratcha DVA, and James Blake too. Makes me want to die a little bit.

“Bricka-Brac” – Fantastic Mr Fox

I dunno if you listened to the recent Fabric compilation, but there was something that stood out from the rest on it for me. It was this bouncy fucking track from near-unknown HACKMAN. From the rest of what I’ve heard it’s the best thing he’s done, though the new track in the video above is proof he hasn’t lost his touch already.

“Pistol In Your Pocket” – Hackman

Possibly one of my favourite of these producers, UNTOLD can do almost no wrong. His production is weirdly catchy, and his remixes are absolutely insane. Seriously. These four remixes span his different techniques quite well, I reckon, but you should check his own stuff as well, as it is equally genius. This guy could be the new Zomby, with time. Although Floating Points may have taken that position already.

“Transmission” (Untold Remix) – Boys Noize

“Islands” (Untold Remix) – The xx

“Revenue” (Untold Remix) – Ramadanman

“Seamonkey” (Untold Remix) – Moderat

For being such nice readers, I’ll give you a few extra remixes. Two chill, two hectic, and some crazy shit on YouTube. Have a nice week:


“Maybes” (James Blake Remix) – Mount Kimbie

“Eyesdown” (Floating Points Remix) – Bonobo

“Sing What You Want” (Rusko’s Skweee Remix) – Kotchy

“Dejavoodoo” (Geeneus Remix) – Beezy


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