27.12.10

Mixcloud


Recent mixes can now be streamed online here
What a magical world we live in.

16.12.10

Lists...

Making end of year lists seems to be all the rage at the moment, so it seems that I should make an of attempt to follow suite. What follows is probably my favourite ten records from the last year, those that I can remember at least, and a few others that deserve mention but didn't quite make it into the top ten:

Ana Caravelle - Basic Climb
Beautiful, original compositions, seamlessly combining classical harp with a plethora of other instuments and elegantly delivered vocals. All the quirky drama of Kate Bush and the intricate beauty of Joanna Newsom yet somehow more alluring than either of the above.


Downliners Sekt - Hello Lonely Hold the Nation & We make hits, not the public
Unspeakably brilliant next level productions that allude to almost every facet of contemporary music yet somehow defy any attempts at categorisation. Where they get their ideas from is beyond me, the same head-scratching wonderment probably goes for the majority of the electronic music community.

Darkstar - North
Brooding, melancholy songs inseamed with a rich sense of cultural milieu. I was a bit sceptical after hearing that Darkstar had left their computer laments behind and incorporated a singer into their lineup, but the fears were unfounded and the results were spot on.

Flying Lotus - Cosmogramma
Not much more can be said about Lotus' third album than hasn't already been repeated endlessly. Suffice to say there's a number of very good reasons why this sonic opus appears at the top of so many best of 2010 lists.

Lorn - Nothing Else
As sombre as it is exhilarating, as angst ridden as it is awe inspiring, Nothing Else was a sharply inhaled breath of fresh (if a little murky) air when it dropped. Subsequent commercial success was a remarkable achievement and a testament to the somewhat unlikely mass appeal of this album.

Four Tet - There Is Love in You
Considering his formidable reputation, Four Tet's foray into 4/4 rhythms could have been received as a terrible oversight. Fortunately we were treated to an unquantifiably beautiful  album that has been on constant rotation my house since the beginning of the year, and will probably remain so for years to come.

Susumu Yokota - Kaleidoscope
Whirling, disconcerting, eclectic compositions from a bafflingly versatile, genre hopping producer. In accordance to the title, Kaleidoscope is a shimmering, multifaceted journey through sonic worlds that are alien and familiar in equal measure.

Forest Swords - Dagger Paths & Rattling Cage
Haunting and epic in every sense, Dagger Paths and the subsequent single Rattling Cage deserve to be recognised as the two of the most original and evocative releases of the year. Like embarking on a feverish oddessy across a fractured world where nothing is quite as it seems.


James Blake - CMYK & Klavierwerke EP
After an accomplished start to the year with the Bells Sketch EP on Hessle Audio, James Blake has gone on to prove that he is even more talented and inventive than any one could have foreseen. Although I'm trying not to play favourites here, I don't mind saying that these two EP's are my favourite releases of the year.

Clubroot - II/MMX
Another gem of an album from the mysterious Clubroot, who manages to somehow make forward leaning music whilst maintaining a constant focus on retrospective themes. Comparisons to Burial abound, but they do nothing to diminish the mercurial, haunting beauty of this sophmore release. It's wistful, rave imbued textures and pulsing wood block beats create a sound that is as euphoric and uplifting as it is mournful and reflective.

Special Mentions go to:


Jneiro Jarel - Fauna
Dam Mantle - Purple Arrow EP
Gold Panda - Lucky Shiner
Johann Johannson - ...and in the endless pause came the sound of bees
oOoOO - oOoOO EP
Balam Acab - See Birds EP
Flying Lotus - Pattern + Grid World
Mount Kimbie - Crooks & Lovers
Asura - Asura
Brian Eno - Small Craft on a Milk Sea
Shigeto -Full Circle
Dimlite - Prismic Tops

9.12.10

Beats for the Btown Sistas Vol. 2: Pocket Summer


Its a Pocket Summer yeah? Small enough to fit in your pocket and light enough carry around wherever you go. The forecast is a cascade of sunshine beats interspersed with cool breezes and an occasional light rain shower to keep things fresh. An hour, or thereabouts, of glorious mornings, sun drenched afternoons and balmy evenings. No mosquitos though, which is a blessing.


Beats for the Btown Sistas

1: Avril 14th – Aphex Twin (Ana Caravelle Cover Version)
2: Lonely Owl – Gold Panda
3: Farewell and Closing – Spencer Doran & Cloaks
4: Pee Green Bote – Fishing
5: Hazy Window – Bugskull
6: Oooo – Fishing
7: Snow – Red
8: Skies of The Revolution – Shigeto
9: Cascade – Tycho
10: Land of Plenty – Kid Kanevil (Throwing Snow Remix)
11: Breathing Light – Nitin Sawhney
12: You do my head in – Bass Clef
13: Castaju Cajuena – Jneiro Jarel
14: Marmalade – Taz Buckfaster
15: Fairweather Friends – Daedalus
16: Kid Sista – Jega
17: Polaroid Romance – A Setting Sun & Shigeto
18: Two Weeks Inner Science (Remix) – Aslope
19: Circling – Fourtet
20: You – Gold Panda
21: Maybes (Live in Berghain) – Mount Kimbie

10.11.10

Beats for the Btown Sistas Vol. 1: A Homesickness Cure



I done a new mix! Part one of a three part series originally dedicated to my Btown sisters is now available for everyone to enjoy! An hour (or thereabouts) of straight up, unadulterated UK business. So if you're missing old blighty, or if you want to remind yourself why its so special, or even if you hate the place and want a reason to justify your convictions, this ought to do the trick...

Beats for the Btown Sistas



Volume 1: A Homesickness Cure (Click Here)

1: Trim – Thoughts
2: Geeneus Feat. Riko, Wiley & Breeze – Knife & Gun (Blackdown Remix)
3: Dusk & Blackdown – Con Fusion
4: Amen Ra & Double Helix – Steelz
5: Quest – The Seafront
6: Quest – Eden
7: Skream – Trapped In a Dark Bubble
8: The Bug Feat. Warrior Queen – Poison Dart
9: Vex’d – Lion (VIP)
10: Dusk & Blackdown – Focus
11: Sully – In Some Pattern
12: Naphta – Soundclash #1 (Grievous Angel VIP)
13: Naphta – Soundclash #1 (VIP)
14: Remarc – R.I.P (Remix)
15: Omni Trio – Renegade Snares (VIP)
16: LTJ Bukem – Horizons
17: Clubroot – Toe to Toe
18: Coldcut & Hexstatic – Timber
19: Pariah – Orpheus
20: Fantastic Mr Fox – Sketches (Roska Remix)
21: Fourtet – This Unfolds
22: James Blake – I Only Know (What I Know Now)
23: Mount Kimbie – 50 Mile View
24: James Blake – Postpone
25: Bass Clef – Halliwick
26: Dam Mantle - Movement

28.9.10

Erratic Conditions

Occasionally it seems that the whole world decides to be a bit clunky and awkward, stuff doesn't line up properly, I trip over a lot. Perhaps its a personal affliction but if you're also finding yourself crashing awkwardly through life, unable to get into the flow of things or even to maintain your balance, here's three music things that won't help in the slightest:

Sunken Foal - Fallen Arches + Fermented Condiments














Sunken Foal have been around for a while and as such should require little introduction, they even had a track featured on one of Mary Anne Hobbs' compilations which is as good a seal of approval as any. This isn't to say that they have a huge fanbase, until very recently the only person I've ever heard championing their music was Mary Anne herself and although its more than apparent why you don't hear it played out or at dinner parties or whatever, I feel as though I've lost out having been ignorant of them for so long. Nevertheless it remains to be said that they're really rather talented and now some two years after their debut release it's probably only fair to give them some belated props: At first Fallen Arches sounds pretty sedate, sort of like Boards of Canda being reinterpreted by The Cinematic Orchestra in a sunlit meadow somewhere in  middle England. At some point (perhaps on track four) this all changes dramatically and it quickly becomes clear why such ambient, pastoral pleasantry ever got signed to Planet Mu. It has to be said that after such a meandering start the Plaid style drums and glitched edits were a bit of a jarring departure, but once you get used to being removed so abruptly from your comfort zone it quickly becomes apparent how good this album is. The same can be said for the follow up EP Fermented Condiments, an enjoyable and suitable sucessor, featuring three new cuts alongside Triplehorn from the album. What's worthy of particular praise is that through its stylistic variation this should appeal to a range of demographics, fans of anyone from Animal Collective to Aphex Twin and most ports in between should enjoy this greatly.

Dam Mantle - Purple Arrow EP














I've been keeping a weather eye on Dam Mantle since he dropped his somewhat overlooked Grey EP last year; an intellegent and ambitious debut that, despite being generally awesome, may have been a touch too esoteric for mass appeal. However all preconceptions arising from his previous release have been comprehensively demolished by this follow up. The opener Theatre  is a massively anthemic statement of intent, sounding in equal parts like Rustie, Kuedo and Dibiase and easily matching all of them in impact and complexity. Not to be pigeonholed as a peddlar of 8 bit-synth rave his approach on Broken Slumber is quite different, building with soft, pastel hued pads, choral drones and squeaky ephemera before flipping the tune entirely with an cold, alien synth wobble that Starkey would be proud to call his own. The EP closes with Purple Arrow and Two Women, two entirely unpredicatable tracks that defy expectations and and evade any attempts at categorisation. The former is a massive tune, to be honest I wasn't expecting much during the intro; the vocal buildup falls somewhere between The Mighty Boosh and the jarring delivery on Dimlite's Elbow Flood, however the drop is immense, bringing a bass line that sounds like something from a '96 era Bad Company tune drip filtered through treacle, alongside a wash of twinkling astral sounds and more Kuedo-esque lazer synths. Finally Two Women wraps up the EP in impressive form, think Robot Koch's Gorom Sen being blended with Dimlite's Kalimba Deathswamp in an unlikely mashup-remix collaboration between Darkstar and Asa Chang & Junray. Just as outrageous and brilliant as it sounds.

Ana Caravelle - Basic Climb














Singer, harpist and multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire Ana Caravelle brings the latest in a string of impeccable offerings from Non Projects. After the genre defying, future leaning sounds presented by labelmates Asura and Anenon this is an interesting deviation for the fledgling label; Caravelle's music is almost entirely organic, based heavily in rustic folk templates but with elements of melodramatic pop and modern classical inseamed within the compostion, sounding kind of like how you'd imagine it would if you went for a walk on a sunny summer's day and accidentally stumbled into a tangled yet glorious wild rose garden cultivated by tree spirits in the middle of an ancient forest. As a vocal talent she bears comparison with a plethora of contemporaries and influences, from Cocorosie and Joanna Newsom to Bjork and Kate Bush, yet she manages to avoid sound overly similar to any one of them which is certainly to her credit. Her delivery is particularly interesting, at some points slipping into rhythmic poetry and at others becoming a melodic narrative, all the while maintaining a consistently lovely balance from one transition to another. The tracks are all arranged by Caravelle, providing equal voice to flutes, strings and percussion; each beautifully layered into a lush tapestry that forms a background mileu for her elegant vocals and intricate harp arrangements. The album was produced by Asura and mastered by Daddy Kev so expect some minor tweaks and edits here and there, but for the most part this is an impressive solo debut from an incredibly talented musician.

21.9.10

Weddingcakes!

Back from a blurry couple of weeks in the UK, lots of time spent with loved ones, enjoying lock ins at the pub and gathering as many memories of my favourite people as possible, all culminating in a beautiful wedding of two close friends. Hattie asked me to put a special bass heavy mix together for the wedding after party and as requested it's now available for download with accompanying tracklist:

Weddingcakes - Mixed by Grendel (2010)

1: In  Ruins - Fol Chen (Baths Remix)
2: Aidy's Girl's a Computer - Darkstar
3: Skyfire - Slugabed
4: P-Clart - Kavsrave
5: Tron - Joker
6: Agnus Dei - Eskmo
7: Baggage Handler - Kavsrave
8: Until There is No End - Lorn
9: Space Boots - BD1982 (Slugabed Remix)
10: Everything up (Zizou) - Zero 7 (Joker & Ginz Remix)
11: Midnight Thunder - Nero
12: Unknown - Quest
13: Jelly Monster - Science Project
14: Searching - Om Unit (EAN Remix)
15: Level 9 - Mala
16: Last Chance - Starkey
17: Chainsaw Calligraphy - 16 Bit
18: Chainsaw Calligraphy - 16 Bit (Kanji Kinetic Remix)
19: Gammera - Hexstatic (Akira Kiteshi Remix)
20: Otacon - Reso
21: Armoured Core - Reso
22: Cuthead Theme - Cuthead
23: Street Dancing - Naphta
24: Win San Western - Gold Panda
25: Loving Dub - Barry Lynn
26: Be True - Commix
27: Nothing Makes Any Sense - Bop (Blu Mar Ten Remix)
28: Turn Up the Music - Camo & Crooked
29: Enjoy the Moment - Bop (Thinnen Remix)
30: Electric Dream - Shapeshifter
31: Racing Green - High Contrast
32: Satellite Type 2 - Commix
33: Sunhammer - Amon Tobin & Noisia
34: Stigma - Noisia
35: Middle of the Night - Evol Intent
36: Don't Dream It Mirage Mix - Pale Sketcher (original by Jesu)
37: Run In To The Light - Brokenchord
38: Dream Out - Balam Acab

Dedicated to Sam and Hattie. Have a wicked honeymoon guys!

19.8.10

Back

Its been pretty quiet at Patisserie d'Grendel for the last while, by no means due to a lack of quality music, just a severe shortage of motivation and a bout of bone idle apathy. However in the last week or so there's been a few things that have been too good to ignore, get it down you and stop complaining.















Apparently there's been a fair bit of hype surrounding the release of this record, the debut of both producer Alex Coone and fledgling label Tri-Angle. The short answer to whether it lives up to the press furore is yes, infinitely yes, but this is a record that deserves a whole lot more attention and over-zealous praise. The first listen though, during a late night bout of insomnia found me gripping my headphones in disbelief, wishing someone would wake up and join me outside so I could rant maniacally about how good it is. Follow up listens left a less overawing effect but a great deal of respect nevertheless. It kind of sounds like Mount Kimbie dreaming about living in a magical, semi-aquatic utopia with Burial, Fourtet, Air, Sigur Ros, Boards of Canada, James Blake and Baths for company.

The overall sound can't really be quantified,  in places it's shamelessly lovely slo-mo pop melancholia, in others heavily sedated Hiphop and fringe Dubstep being re imagined through the medium of a beautiful dream. It sounds like a sum of parts of all the aforementioned artists but stunningly re-interpreted without ego or pretension. It is easily the best thing to listen to at 1 am when sleep seems impossible and it is definitely something that everyone can enjoy, an increasingly difficult accolade to achieve in this rapidly evolving world of music. By all means buy it and bask in its loveliness for as long as you can bear it, or at least until he releases something else.

As the number of apparent of influences would suggest the five tracks are nicely varied, See Birds (Moon) is a perfectly layered exercise in slow motion Dub, kind of like Mount Kimbie, King Midas Sound and Burial coming together for a one off collaboration. Regret making mistakes follows with the most upfront sounds in the bunch; there's certain elements of Joy Orbison and Sepalcure's styles ingrained between a shuffling two-step beat. However its on Big Boy where the dreamy warmth begins to flood the record; chopped up rave vocals pluck at your ears,  lush warm synths lull you into a happy trance and the whole world turns a bit softer round the edges, coming across like a perfect balance between Four-Tet, Sigur Ros, Air and Baths. Dream Out is exactly what the name suggests, ever so gentle and soothing but possessing of hearty bass stabs that serve to make the experience even more resonant. The final track See Birds (Sun) continues in a similar vein, sedately washing to and fro with sunny string arrangements and bubbling aquatic ephemera before mutating seamlessly into a world of  cosmic 4/4 euphoria that Four-Tet or Caribou would be proud to call their own. Lush.














On the first listen this was a bit underwhelming, I'd read on Boomkat that Dagger Paths sounded like Burial channeling Ennio Morricone and without paying it the attention it deserved it was difficult to see where they were coming from. However after repeat listens it turns out that this really is something quite special; the combination of hauntological vocals, raw instrumental sounds and sprawling, almost inadvertently epic compositions all amount to something that could well be seen as a collision of the minds of the aforementioned musical luminaries.

The opening track Miarches builds with echoing cries and guitar loops that pervade the track with said Morricone-esque drama, ponderous drums and a lo-fi bassline driving it onwards to epic lengths before muted vocal entwines itself through the other elements, drawing it together for a suitable close. Hoylake Misst is where the collision of Burial and Morricone first emerges, although the likeness could also be drawn to the unsettling noise experiments of Demdike Stare or Bugskull. The effect is incredibly dramatic, evoking an exhausting, danger ridden odyssey through a hostile desert landscape, the drums driving hammer blows of suspense through the track. There's no letting up either, Visits is an suitably powerful follow up and Glory Gongs adapts a slightly more contemporary style; combining a powerful bass riff with a lo-fi guitar loop before perfectly chopped and screwed vocals begin to echo through, stalling the track in places and gently setting around it in others. If Your Girl introduces a more coherent but suitably filtered vocal which a bit like how it would sound if Burial sampled Folk or Blues instead of Rnb, before The Light brings proceedings to a suitably haunting close. If you want more their follow up Rattling Cage continues in a similar vein, even providing a slightly more accessible aspect to what can only be described as a powerfully individual and resonant sound.


Asura/Anenon - Silver Trees/Damiel:














Round two from Non-Projects features Asura and labelmate Anenon in formidable form. Everything from drones to warped folk and  jungle breaks come together in a suitably inspired and diverse collection of tracks. In the wake of his peerless debut album and a raft of remix exclusives Asura is on fine form, composing rich sonic tapestries from a slew of diverse and unlikely sources. Anenon is by no means overshadowed, especially considering that this is his first official release. All three of Anenon's tracks are an incredible glimpse of what he is capable of, though similar in style to Asura his music contains an astonishing organic quality, grafting together a variety of styles and influences to create something more akin to the work of Amon Tobin. With their third member, singer and multi-instrumentalist Ana Caravelle, set to release her debut album in September (you can grab an awesome Shigeto remix of one of her new tracks here), things are looking extremely promising in the Non Projects camp.


Of the seven tracks on offer The Ocean is the most attention grabbing, bringing insane jungle drums and nerve shattering high end synths to blow you away over its mere two minute running time. A growing favourite however is Sleepers, the most unnerving piece of brilliance I've heard in a while. It sounds like a collaboration between Amon Tobin, Oneohtrix Point Never and Downliners Sekt, if that doesn't sell it to you then nothing will. As far as Anenon is concerned pick of the bunch has to be Retold Endless, which starts out with shimmering, stepping drum rolls, colliding with one another then drifting into an entirely other dimension full of synth dreams and gentle 4/4 beats, the tune seems to have run its course but it unexpectedly rebuilds towards a breathtaking crescendo that tops off the album nicely.

9.7.10

Bits and that



Heres another chance to download the shockingly good mix that Warlus put together a few weeks back, but this time with added tracklist!

Frosted Moon Cakes-Mixed by Walrii

Isaacjismail@gmail.com
www.dankmorass.com


Beginnings - Shigeto (Ghostly)
Hello - Deru (Mush)

Behemoth Soul - Dr Robutnik
Coincidences - Kenlo Craqnuques
Thehides - Dak (Leaving)
Won (except) - Dabrye (Eastern Developments)
Philly Run (Mux Mool Remix) - B-Ju (Error Broadcast)

Eurocarne - Mwslee (Kindred Spirits)
Kalimba Deathswamp/Kurt Feelings - Dimlite (Now-Again)
Bakers Blunt Basics - Shigeto (Ghostly)

Tadd's Children Lost In Coutances - Misel Quitno
Free - Spencer Doran and Cloaks (CDR)
Matthewdavid - Late Lo FI For dak (All City)


Negative Green - Downliners Sekt (Disboot)
Lessevielsalm - Herrmutt Lobby (Eat)
Wiggum - Cupp Cave
Maybe it's Dawn - Hudson Mohawke
Robbie's Tune - Fox Gut Daata
Now you're Dying (Fox Gut Daata Remix) - Rustie
Strike Hard (HudMo RMX) - Taz Buckfaster


...And the World Laughs with you (Edit) - Flying Lotus (Warp)
Titan - Illum Sphere (3024)
Cherry Moon - Lorn (Brainfeeder)

Shaven Glass - Tadd Mullinix (Ghostly)
Exchanging Modes - Tadd Mullinix (Ghostly)
Hounds - Lorn (Brainfeeder)

Now there's no excuse...

Also here's some pop (ish) reviews that I done for Blurb magazine:

UNKLE-Where did the night fall
Tuung-...And then they saw Land
The Leisure Society-The Sleeper

More of them on the way...

25.6.10

Musicakes Bits: May 2010

Earlier this month I had a nice sunday afternoon chat with Science Project, two Local producers/performers about beats, the Brisbane scene and playing live, so for those that don't know here's a bit about the pair of them and what it is that they do.

Science Project consists of two members, 8 Man and Grimes, else known as Jad and Andy. They've been collaborating in the studio since 2007 making beats that carry rich, warm bass and laser synths alongside smoked out, Dub heavy beats. As such their sound is distanced from the Australian music scene at large, unique in its own way but perhaps more reminiscent of the Street Bass scene in Philadelphia or the Dubstep and Dancehall soundsystems of London. The Dub influence, though already apparent, was confirmed when I asked what brought them together musically: a love of the music of King Tubby and Lee Scratch Perry, something that can be best observed in the laid back yet infectious vibes on their releases thus far. However something that really sets Science Project aside from their contemporaries is their live show in which Jad cuts, samples and loops with an MPC and turntables whilst Andy syncs up with him on drums. Though not quite groundbreaking this format is a pretty major undertaking that can easily risk becoming something flat or alienating for an audience, as in the case of the 'Dj and the Drummer' Project or 'Legion of Two'. Despite this the pair manage to pull it off with style so I asked them how much work has gone into the Live set and how they got it so tight; they exchanged a weary look and laughed.

"Ah man, its a constantly evolving thing, sometimes something works and then something else doesn't, there was a lot of trial and error at the rehearsal stage." Andy, who also plays drums for local 10 Piece Funk band Boss Cats, outlined the difficulties of their performance, "When you're on stage with a live band you can afford to be a bit loose, because if you're making up one part of an overall sound little mistakes aren't as apparent to the audience. The rest of the sound carries you on and it's easy to pick it back up again. But for the Science Project live show I have to be constantly switched on and focused, the slightest mistake is going to be really obvious so everything has to run within a certain rehearsed structure or it can go badly wrong. This isn't to say that there isn't room for improvisation and cutting loose every now and then, it's just that the opportunity for improvisation has to be carefully planned in advance."

The cohesion required for their live set is equally important when writing the tracks and putting them together in the studio, "The usual process is that one of us gets an idea (and there's a lot of unfinished ideas still floating around), then sits back and lets the other do his thing. Sometimes it works and we go with it, at others it doesn't and we go back to the beginning." Considering the massively saturated music marketplace that has developed in the last few years and the subsequent pressure to find a formula to make more money, I asked if they felt pressured to make their music more commercial so as to make their sound radio friendly and more likely to accrue big sales, "Not at all, we just make music that sounds good to us, stuff that moves us. We keep things laid back and loose just finding vibes that we're feeling. Making incredibly technical music or playing to a set formula that works can be disrespectful to your audience, we just want to play good music, stuff that gets people dancing without compromising our own enjoyment." And as for the future they assure me that there's a lot more still to come, "We've also been collaborating with a variety of other artists which also helps to keep ideas fresh and opens up new perspectives all the time, so expect to see a lot more variation over the coming releases. We've also been hard at work on setting up our own label, Dub Temple Records, so in future we'll be releasing our own beats as well as inviting a number of other artists to contribute as well. We've also got Blastcorps (prolific producer/painter/DJ from Darwin) doing our mastering so everything is looking good."

In this light I wondered how well received their music would be by their local contemporaries; coming from the UK it's baffling to me that there's still such a focus upon Electro house and Cheese in the Brisbane scene. In it's various permutations the Beat music sound has rapidly infiltrated every corner of the globe, so it seems bizarre that a city with such prevalent nightlife as Brisbane's should be left behind. Jad explains, "The beats scene in Brisbane is interesting and it has the strength and scope to grow given the dedication of certain local promoters and a crop of up and coming talent in the area. It's just a matter of pushing the sound; however it is easy to see why many genres haven't taken off, bear in mind that a lot of music that is successful overseas is irrelevant here. Of course there are heads who appreciate those genres as with any underground music, but for music to achieve mass appeal, like Hiphop in the US or Dubstep in the UK, it needs to be relevant to the local population. The US Hiphop scene is hugely influenced by funk, soul and Motown because it is deeply rooted in African American culture, the same goes for music like Drum and Bass and Dubstep in the UK, both of which draw heavily from Reggae and Dub which is of course due to the strong Caribbean influence on British culture.”

“Equally if you look at Hiphop in a global context (or the colloquial equivalent) it is heavily laced with the traditional sounds of the culture around it. In Brazil you don't have producers and MC's aping the sound from LA, instead they draw their influences from Samba and Soca. In African countries like Angola they draw upon tribal music like Kuduru to make their sound relevant to the people that will support it. Even in Japan, where American influence has been heavily imprinted upon their recent culture, artists like Hifana and Dj Kentaro extensively sample ancient, traditional folk music to create a sound that is uniquely Japanese. It's because of this that so much of the music over here that is heavily influenced by American or British trends is so unlikely to succeed in the long run and can even be painful to listen to at times. What we need is to base music around the indigenous music in our locale, like beats from Aboriginal music, or that of the Torres Strait Islanders and Papa New Guineans, those guys have some mad rhythms, and it is those we need to tap into if we want such a culture to call our own”

Science Project's latest release Alchemystic EP is out now on Dub Temple You can find it on iTunes or go to www.myspace.com/scienceprojectdubs

21.6.10

3 reasons not to go outside (for 2 hours or so)

Its a bit cold outside, not overly so but colder than it was in the hellish summer time, still warmer than England though even on the cusp of the winter solstice. Let's not get sidetracked, it's cold enough that some of you might be skulking around indoors anyway; If so chuck these on the stereo and prepare for your cockles to be thoroughly warmed.

James Blake - CMYK EP














James Blake is a bit of a worry. How can one man produce such peerless music in such an unconventional way without overstepping the mark and disappearing into obscurity? Christ knows, lets just be glad that this is the case. After the brilliant, lopsided fireworks of The Bells Sketch, Blake has produced his finest work to date on a 4 track release for Belgian label R&S. The title track is stamped with all the hallmarks of a quality Blake production, warped vocal snatches peerlessly arranged from build up to close, woozy off-key synths, urgent skipping drums, the whole shebang. It's a little more accessible than his more recent work, having more in common with Air & Lack Thereof or his remix of Untold's Stop What You're Doing. Footnotes on the other hand starts off very much in the funk laced style present in Buzzard and Kestrel, intricate percussion, bubbling subs and a melting Hammond organ combining to assault your grasp on normality. That is until the halfway mark in the track where a sudden switch transforms it into an altogether different beast, so blissful and soul infused that you'll be smiling peacefully with your eyes closed all the way to the end.  I'll Stay is another excellently arranged piece, following in a similarly vocal driven vein as the opener. It may deserve more praise and elaboration but a)I'll run out of superlatives again and b) Postpone, the final track on the EP is so astounding that it's impossible not to fixate upon it instead. The build up is suitably awkward, a cacophony of sounds jostling together to find their rightful place in time for the switch; the wobbly owl noise makes a return and the organ goes insane as muted metallic stabs build the tension. Then, heralded by an angelic rave horn the sumptuous ending rolls in, sounding like Mount Kimbie's Serged wandering lost through a fluffy dreamscape whilst being serenaded by a multi species gospel choir. Delightful.

Mux Mool - Skulltaste














After repeated recommendations from a friend, Mux Mool's debut album Skulltaste has finally made it's way to my headphones and true to his insistence this one is pretty special. The whole album has an incredible handmade sound that is woefully absent in so many producers work, pasting together found sounds and dusty drums with a vast array of lush synths. Not that this makes it at all unapproachable, quite the opposite in fact, the whole album is warm and diverse, imbued with a rainbow-hued mdma blur that drenches your senses with its infectious enthusiasm. Perhaps the finest hip hop/electronica I've heard in a while and certainly the most uplifting, there's a couple of sojourns into more dancefloor territory but for the most part it happily transports you around it's own euphoric cosmos of beats. It's unusual for something with such a plethora of fluorescent, plastic sounds to have such depth and soul but thats exactly what Mux Mool has accomplished here, definitely a post club gem and something that may very well become my pick me up listen on rainy days.

However it isn't all Casio keyboards and pixellated sunshine; there's also an undercurrent of nostalgic melancholy that washes out from beneath the rainbow facade from time to time, and perhaps it's this that balances the whole affair out; manipulating your emotional response in much the same way as Boards of Canada's The Campfire Headphase.  Picking highlights is difficult owing to the consistent excellency on show so here's a few at random: The title track stands out for it's relentlessly cheery  vibe, sounding in equal parts like Samiyam, Slugabed (on his best beahviour) and a much less sleazy Rustie at the top of his game. Then there's Dandelion, bringing the hitherto unexplored medium of a gangster lean peppered with infant musicbox chimes, music for chilling in the crib on more than one level (yeah, sorry about that). And finally Get Better John which sounds like Daft Punk and Boards of Canada scoring a eulogy for the creator of the S-NES. In any case its all pretty awesome and definitely worthy of a dip into your piggy bank.

Dimlite - Prismic Tops














This is nothing short of astonishing, even more so in light of the fact that there's a couple of wicked older tunes on here that finally get to see the light of day. Said tunes and his remix for Flying Lotus' LA 2x3 Ep aside, I have been largely ignorant of his work and subsequently poorer for it. On listening to Prismic Tops it becomes apparent that Dimlite is very much a musician as opposed to a just being a beatmaker or bedroom producer; more akin to Flying Lotus in his approach than to many of his other peers. There's a noticeable Jazz lean present in the composition but its nicely understated beneath the whirlwind of styles and influences that sweep through the record. Equally he refuses to be confined to conventional samples, the opening track Kalimba Deathswamp uses the sound of masking tape being pulled of the roll as an element of the percussion, much in the same way that Nosaj Thing did in 1683/Bach. Then there's the jaw dropping sounds of Sunsized Twinkles, seemingly utilising a recording of an iron lung to provide the bare bones of it's beat structure. The track itself is stunning despite being one of the most unconventional pieces of music you'll hear all year, complete with an insanity inducing vocal and wobbling off key synths; the combination of which sound like a futuristic music-bot reaching the limits of it's battery life but desperately squeezing out one more song for all it's worth. However the most incredible cut on here has to be Elbow Flood, starting out like a soundscape b-side from Amon Tobin's Foley Room before a ghostly vocal rises from the depths to trigger a nicely understated drop. The track plays out with an awesome kick snare arrangement, violently jarring strings and a superbly confusing vocal track that resonates as much as it unnerves. If like me you've been ignorant thus far, now is definitely the time to bring a little Dimlite into your life.

2.6.10

A repreive for the musically obese

In this day and age you could hardly claim to be starved of good music. It does depend on your perspective and your habitual listening tendencies, but anyone with a computer and a half decent Internet connection can have their sticky whiskers all up in good music's grill at the touch of a button. If you look in the right places there's even super switched on people that get paid to advise you what to listen to, although it's important to differentiate between super switched on and bandwagon jumping, unimaginative, shouty bastards that have no right to do so.

In light of this you'd even be forgiven for being overindulged, like the morbidly obese man at the end of The meaning of Life, unable to ingest just one more wafer thin mint. If this is the case for you (as it has been at times for me) the best response is to retreat into your shell, taking with you only what you need to survive until the glut has receded sufficiently for you to venture out into the world of music once again. That might seem like an elaborate excuse for me to inflict my digital age version of Radio 4's Desert Island Discs upon you, and you're probably right in thinking so. However we've started now and there's no turning back. So, if you were stuck inside your shell, hiding from the world of music, here's the three things that I (and subsequently you) would take with me:

Clubroot -II: MMX














Did you ever wonder what exactly it was that made some music so incredibly nostalgic and personally resonant? When something really hits you in the chest, sending rushes down your spine and raising the hairs on your arms and neck, rather than simply providing you with basic aural stimulation. Obviously there are certain stylistic devices that can be used to evoke nostalgia within a designated audience, this is ostensibly what modern electronic music is based around. But until I listened to something that really scratched a personal itch this week I never really gave this sense of wonder and breathlessness a second thought. Then a series of coincidental happenings led to me reading this explanation of Hauntology from wise music sage Mark 'K-Punk' Fisher, at which point I gained a new found respect for this audiological discipline of emotional manipulation. Put simply (although I suggest you read the K-Punk article for a more complete description) Hauntology is the process by which certain artists use sounds from the music that they were enraptured with in their formative years; by ingraining such sounds into their compositions they can evoke the sounds of the past in an ethereal sense, essentially imbuing their music with the ghosts of the past. A perfect example of this would be Burial, who's mournful evocation of the long dead rave culture resonates with many of us who grew up influenced by Rave (and it's further evolutions as Jungle and Garage), tapping into a sort of subconscious collective nostalgia.

In light of this I understand why I love Clubroot's second offering so much. Self titled once again (this time as II: MMX), it picks up where his debut left off. This isn't necessarily a bad thing; the first album was incredibly lush; saturated with rich, deep hues and imbued with a wistful sense of longing. If it fell down, which is possible dependent upon your viewpoint, it was perhaps due was not having the ambition to look beyond the mood pervading it, as though it was trapped in one frame of mind for it's duration. The second album begins with Orbiting, a track which, though starting with it's roots in the same territory as the album preceding it, soon spreads it's wings to soar away into the strata above. What follows is, at least in my opinion, the finest complete Dubstep album since Burial's second full length, somewhat fitting considering the raft of Burial comparisons thrown at Clubroot in the wake of his debut. Despite the similarities in beat structure and hauntological mourning of Rave's downfall (check the glorious Toe to Toe for a shining example), throughout this album his other influences make much stronger and more lasting impressions. His professed love of early tech drum and bass from the likes of Nico, Optical and Dom & Roland is certainly evident, Whistles and Horns sounds so much like an Ed Rush and Optical tune (who's name escapes me) that you'd be forgiven for thinking of it as a 140bpm homage. However in this modern-retrospective form there seems to be more in the way of allusions to his contemporaries such as Kryptic Minds and Instra:mental, perhaps because like Burial, they continue to push forwards whilst always gazing over their shoulder at the music they were first infatuated with.

Lorn - Nothing Else













When I first heard Lorn's beats a while ago now, I got the impression that he was quite an angry individual. If you were paying attention to the Brainfeeder website or Open Music a year or so ago, you would doubtlessly have picked up 7&13 or Trained by the Pain (his remixes and re-appropriations of some Biggie tunes) and wondered how this moody, frictious, razor sharp music fitted in amongst that of his West Coast peers. The paranoid, psychosis ridden counterpart to their smoked out Cali vibes perhaps? This isn't to say that it wasn't good, far from it in fact, but it certainly left you feeling uneasy and more than a little bit nervous. The sort of tunes that might make a highly strung dog urinate on your rug. Then, after hearing his Mix for Mary Anne Hobbs in November, I was completely astounded. The moody vibes and saw-toothed, bowel shredding bass were still present in abundance, but now it seemed that all the awkwardness had gone, kind of like an immensely creative but introverted teenager coming of age and finally beginning to assert himself on the world. Maybe that's a bit of a cliche, but if you track down his back catalogue (it shouldn't be difficult, it's all available for little or no money on his myspace) and listen to it in comparison with this album you might see what I'm talking about.

Nothing else is nothing short of breathtaking, it's an album of continuous highlights and even after repeated listens its still hard to identify any weak spots in it's armour. Consequently its difficult to pick out anything that really stands out in respect to the fact that it all does. However at a push I'd have to say that Void I and Void II take the cake for the sheer dramatics; the first part rolls to and fro like a WWII fighter plane being drink-driven through a storm in the mountains before disappearing into a thick layer of cloud. 'Shit' you think to yourself, 'hes gone and crashed it into a cliff face'. Then, as you listen for a distant explosion, Void II comes roaring out of the abyss at top speed, all guns ablaze and howling like a triumphant banshee. Throughout the album the beats are hard as nails and incredibly well arranged, building to intense machine gun rattles at times before stalling and falling apart at the seams, only to regather themselves and assault you once again just moments later.

There's also a few moments of melancholy beauty to be found amongst the brooding intensity, Glass & Silver and Cherry Moon in particular provide some levity in the midst of the storm that rages around them, the latter a lovely arrangement of emotion laden strings and off-key musicbox chimes amongst a chattering bassline and skipping drums, kind of like a Portishead playing with a string quartet in a post apocalyptic tundra at nightfall (it's available as a free download in a variety of places around the net so tap it into google if you want a sampler, also there's this album minimix on the Brainfeeder Soundcloud). Finally there's even a cursory venture into anthem territory on the last track What's the Use, which sounds rather like something Nosaj Thing's arcanely reanimated corpse might make, before a perfectly judged and rather haunting vocal judders through unexpectedly, leaving it's doom laden message resounding around your skull as the album winds down to a stuttering close.


Flying Lotus - Cosmogramma













If the vast hype wagon about this album has passed you by, then I'm assuming you don't have the Internet, you hate going outdoors and you even gave up on reading, watching the telly and talking to anyone because other people and their opinions terrify you. In which case you probably aren't reading this anyway. The rest of you will have either listened to it already and, like me, become utterly enraptured by it, or you'll have regarded the hype with the same world weary cynicism you reserve for anything proclaimed as next level, unparalleled genius or a game changer by the out of control hyperbole machine that doubles as global music media, and you're currently sneering at anyone who talks about it with the same self assured expression of scathing disdain you reserve for anyone who isn't just as narrow minded and opinionated as yourself. I digress, besides I'm not sure that the latter sort of person really exists outside of Internet forums.

Anyway I'm not going to go into the gritty details, or discuss the wonderfully diverse roster of immensely talented musicians that have joined him in creating this wonderful composition, or even explore allusions to his Auntie's theories of astral transcendence. What I want to talk about is all the noises (or 'recurrent sonic motifs' if we're being particular). To begin with there's an achingly beautiful string progression that washes in and out throughout the album, intensifying as the album reaches it's point of crescendo on Drips/ / Aunties Harp. Its here that the 8 bit bleeps of Lotus's own digital legacy fully unite and mesh with the Jazz strings of his family heritage. Every time I listen to it (it's getting on well into double figures now) the very essence of my being seems to sing in reply; essentially its sonic dmt, or perhaps that's too crude a metaphor, but fuck me it's amazing. Then there's this sound, god knows what it is, listen up at the beginning of Arkestry and at the end of Clock Catcher, German Haircut, Drips (and probably others) for what sounds like top end harp strings being lightly brushed but in reverse, then at the end of Table Tennis and  throughout Galaxy in Janaki the selfsame noise becomes intensified to the point to where I'll be damned if it doesn't sound like the joyful cries of incredibly tiny people, possibly in raptures over what Flying Lotus has created for them.

I even read in one article in LA weekly that he's secreted recordings of his late mother's life support machines in various places throughout the album, a suggestion that would be incredibly disrespectful if it wasn't sourced from the man himself, so I'm guessing it's true. Perhaps I'm being fanciful but I reckon I can hear such noises in a number of tracks, particularly Table Tennis and  Computer Face/Pure Being. All this aside the sheer number of noises used in this album is utterly stupendous, bear in mind that any given producer works within the framework of a certain limited palette of noises, the more adventurous the producer - the more extensive the palette of noises. Of course there's always the option to branch out from this and many do at some levels, but it is for this reason that so many producers create a sound that is recognisable as their own. With this in mind, whilst Cosmogramma manages to sound like Flying Lotus throughout, it also sounds like any number of other things at the same time thanks to the multitude of noises and influences at play. All in all if Ellison set out to make a work that mapped out the endless sounds and textures of the universe, he's come far closer to it than anyone has ever been before.

1.6.10

Musicakes bits - March 2010

First of a few bits from my column in the Westender:

March 2010:

LHF is a mysterious collective of elusive artists that includes but is not necessarily limited to: Amen Ra, Double Helix, No fixed Abode, Low Density Matter, Escobar Seasons, Solar Man and Ocataviour. Collectively they're making the sort of music that the world has subconsciously been crying out for, uniting influences as varied as Afro Space Jazz, Qawwali and Asian Dub, before bringing them all together within a constantly shifting framework of Dubstep, 2 Step and 4/4 rhythms. LHF have created beguiling hybrid sounds in which perfectly selected and hugely varied samples are interwoven with intricate, skittering percussion, creating an atmosphere of mystic wonder alongside an irresistibly contagious ability to make you move. The snatches of obscure dialogue and nostalgic yet alien ambiance evoke an intercepted broadcast from deep space, emanating from an endlessly spinning gramophone on a similar yet subtly different sister planet to our own. Uncompromisingly brilliant and utterly essential music.

On a completely different tip, James Blake (he of the Mount Kimbie vocalist fame rather than the Tennis World Tour) has been messing with my head for a while now. Remarkable singing voice aside, he possesses a singularly unconventional ability to manipulate sounds in a way which unnerves and amazes in equal measure. Despite having just a handful of releases to his name and a sound that consistently redefines generic boundaries, Blake has a veritable choir of critical plaudits from every corner of the musical map and it behoves you to go find out why. I won't spoil too much, suffice to say he is the only person I've ever come across to make a tune that sounds like a wobbly owl leading a chorus of ghosts on a rubber pipe organ in a melting Romanian castle, if you can imagine such a thing.

Finally, we come to Asura, pet project of LA's Ryan York, a sonic reinterpretation of Kenji Miyazawa's poetry collection, Asura in the Spring. The resulting collage of sounds is a trickling, shimmering, achingly beautiful progression of textures and soundscapes that could just as easily fire your imagination as it could lull you to sleep. Here and there contemporary influences shine through, scattered glimpses of deep house, hip hop and 2 step come and go amidst flourishes of IDM intricacy. However the defining moments can be found amidst the delicately filtered atmospherics, conjuring lush imagery from elegantly understated modern classical synths and strings. That's not all, a quick perusal of the non-projects label website reveals that York and his friends have myriad artistic skills that they are yet to unleash upon the unsuspecting public so keep your eyes open for more in the future.

22.5.10

Walrus!!

A tasty treat for you this week, my good friend Walrii (one third of Brisbane beat mongers Dank Morass) has cooked up an awesome mix for your aural delectation. When he wanted to know what sort of mix I would prefer (as his stack of wax is vast and varied), I told him to keep it forward leaning and full of surprises; something he's accomplished in typically renegade fashion. This mix is a bit odd, a bit grubby and a touch esoteric, 40 minutes (or thereabouts) of perception distorting beats and disorientating noises; perfect for a one-man house party or a noisy evening in. I wouldn't recommend operating heavy machinery or doing the dishes whilst you listen, you should probably put your pets in the cupboard too, just in case. Shit, I'm even hiding under my desk until it's over. Enjoy!

No tracklist (yet), its a secret.

Frosted Moon Cakes - Mixed by Walrii

A bit of profile: Dank Morass (or Maurice as Mary Anne Hobbs would have you believe) are carving a scene out of thin air, magic and devotion in the barren Brisbane landscape. Comprised of Walrii, Swob and Danck, they've managed to pin down pretty much every aspect of this constantly evolving, monster of a beat movement, nonchalantly packaging it up with shit hot visuals and the best vibes in town, before unleashing it on the unsuspecting public. Since their inception in 2007 they've hosted a plethora of names, including: Flying Lotus, The Bug, The (mother fucking) Gaslamp Killer, Starkey and Joker (to name but a few), and for those of us that know, this city is far richer for it. They've got more shows coming up later in the year that will blow your mind, so keep that ear firmly pressed to the ground, grapevine or wherever you get your information from.

Here's a link: Dank Morass Site
Facebook: Dank Morass

13.5.10

Noises

Heres three incredible things that I never even contemplated the existence of until very recently. Christ knows why these lot aren't more prolific, although it's hard to see them getting radio play any time in the next decade.

Bugskull












There's something about Bugskull's album Communication that fills the space between your ears with a warm fuzzy glow. The first half is odd, nostalgic and wonderfully playful, with elements of Mr Scruff,  Dilla and Lou Reed at play amongst field recordings from a sunny meadow on another planet. Then you get to the fifth track, Exposed wires, and it all gets a bit more unsettling, perhaps even better for it. I don't want to spoil the surprise but halfway through the track something happens that made me choke on my tea at work, narrowly avoiding showering the screen in the process. It's hilarious, if a little disconcerting, as are the barely audible growls and muffled rasping breaths that seep through in the following tracks. At it's heart, this could probably be described as a collision of hiphop and psychedelic drone but with so much more going on than either of these tags would suggest. It's rich, varied and colourful throughout, calming yet intricate with a discordant edge that sets it wholly apart from everything else around. I can honestly say that listening to this album has made me happier than anything else in recent memory.

Downliners Sekt












I heard one of Downliners Sekt's tracks on Mary Anne Hobbs' show the other week; having never heard of them before and missing her introduction to the track I was left bemused. It sounded like an unlikely collaboration between Burial and Ras G complete with 2 step shuffle, ghostly voices, layered static hiss and distorted found sounds. It wasn't until I listened back through the show that I discovered who the track was by and after a short frantic google search (that led me first to an obscure 60's Blues band) I arrived at this amazing musical collective's site. Their most recent EP, Hello Lonely, hold the nation is phenomenal, there are so many comparisons but still nothing quite like it and what's more all their music is free in digital format, at 320kbps and everything. Even more surprising is their relatively extensive history as a band, bridging the gap between post rock and dark electronics (see their 2008 album The Saltire Wave), something for which they seem to have garnered a range of plaudits from in the obscure circles of experimental rock journalism. Most remarkable of all their debut album Statement of Purpose, recorded between 2001 and 2005 is superbly put together and still incredibly fresh. In an unlikely testament to their depth and versatility, contemporary dubstep artists have recently begun to utilise these tracks in their mixes despite their age and original purpose as an intermeshing of breakbeats and post rock. It goes without saying that this music deserves your support so head over to their site and show them some love. Did I mention it's free?

John Cohen












Although you'd be forgiven for overlooking the open license releases on Net-Lab and Open Music it still stands that both sites deserve to be extensively explored. Free net labels have an immense amount to offer and due to their nature a whole load of otherwise untenable music gets an outlet when established labels wouldn't touch it for fear of losing money. Such is the case with John Cohen, whose collaborative project Dead Fader saw it's debut LP release Corrupt my Examiner on Cloaks' 3by3 label earlier this month. John's music is incredibly dark and agitated yet underpinned with richness and diversity belied by it's prickly exterior. I'm not going to lie, some of it certainly isn't for the faint hearted, you might even have to turn the volume down a couple of notches as  it weaves it's way from IDM to Noise and Industrial Metal (with occasional flourishes of Dubstep and Electronica thrown in for good measure). However there are moments in these stark compositions that leave you breathless and slack jawed in wonder. In particular the tracks [][][][] and -||- x  are ridiculous and unspeakably dramatic, both instantly finding a place in my heart that I never even knew existed. His self titled release and the follow up Noise Pollution are both free, as are all the other releases on Net-Lab and Open Music so there's no excuse not to go exploring.

29.4.10

Repeat


Don't know about you, but I've long held the belief that if you immediately play a song again once you've listened to it all the way through (like that infuriating halfwit Zane Lowe) then you're probably going to hell. Either that or something terrible will befall someone else who just so happens to be listening to that song at the same time. Or a kitten will die. Something bad anyway. I'm not talking about rewinds or putting an album on repeat, both of which are reasonable to some extent, but without a damn good reason putting a song on repeat is morally reprehensible.

Imagine my horror then, when this morning I stumbled across two recent productions that almost forced me to do exactly that. Luckily I happened upon them at the same time otherwise I'd already have killed a kitten/fellow listener twice over in one morning. The first of these magnificent hypocrisy traps is the Floating Points remix of Sing from Fourtet's recent album There is love in You. By now you should have listened to the original and the rest of Four Tet's lovely album so I'll spare you further hype, however this remix, weighing in at a hefty 14 minutes, is just astonishing. The build up alone could hold it's own weight as an abstract reinterpretation of the original, but as the tune subtly unfolds there is so much going on that it would be nigh on impossible to take it all in on the first listen. If Floating Points hadn't already won over the hearts and minds of the wider part of the underground music community, this track alone should cement his reputation.

The other culprit could almost escape the purported repetition dilemma seeing as it consists of two separate pieces that make up one breathtaking release, however the central theme continues from one to the other so I imagine that damnation would ensue regardless of this loophole in the theory. Demdike Stare's latest offering The Forest of Evil is utterly phenomenal, I can honestly say that I have never encountered a more unsettling yet compelling piece of music, especially in light of the subversive way they have gone about achieving this effect. The eponymous forest is split into two aspects Dusk and Dawn, painting such a brooding and suspenseful picture that you find yourself drawn inexorably into this shadowy netherworld, simultaneous teetering at your nerves end yet utterly enraptured by the hauntological sounds. It goes without saying that unless you possess a perfectly balanced and suitably robust speaker system, this one is very much intended for the headphones massive.

Just in case you were after something a little less epic or all consuming to occupy your ears, here's a quick roundup of just about everything else that's tickling my fancy right about now...

Various/Jahtari: Jahtari Dubbers Vol 2: Wicked choons!! You know the bill, dead sunshiney atari-island sounds. The tunes by Disrupt and Black Chow are fucking awesome. Also visit Jahtari's website for no end of quality, free Digidub releases, including Net 7"s and Tapes complete with authentic viynl/tapes hiss and crackle. Bo!

Jneiro Jarel: Android Love Mayhem: It's fucking amazing. New cosmic moves for Dr Who Dat's alter ego. No more needs be said. Gettit

Pariah: Detroit Falls: Outer Hebrides!! It's bloody awesome mate, like Bullion and Dilla trying to claw their way out of a printing press running in reverse. On the flip there's a supremely crafted slice of 4/4 dancefloor business that easily holds it's own alongside the leaders in the scene.

Gold Panda: Quitters Raga: Sublimely insane, I'm running out of superlatives here. This however is dead, dead, dead good. (Also worthwhile is You EP)

Pursuit Grooves: Foxtrot Mannerisms: Elegantly crafted nu-soul, rnb, hiphop flavours all packaged up real nice with some tasty beats, a breath of fresh air for Dubstep's mainstay label Tectonic.

Dam Mantle: Grey EP: Well interesting, sounds like Paul White fighting Rustie in an orchestra pit.

TAKE: Only Moutain
: Predictably very tasty and certainly a grower, would be a strong contender for the best thing coming out of the LA/SF scene right now(as would the Free the Robots album and the new Tokimonsta EP) if the impending Flying Lotus album wasn't casting such a monolithic shadow over the West Coast. Impressive nevertheless.

16.4.10

Contrast



Hello, couple of very different things for your consideration this week, but there's such a sharp contrast between them that it stands to reason that both should receive fair representation at the same time. Suffice to say one of them makes everything currently termed epic or lush seem drab and shallow in comparison, the other makes everything dark, heavy and brooding seem like the tinkerings of a naive, angst ridden teen. Either way until I tire of listening to them whole swathes of music have been irreparably tainted by their looming brilliance.

Not sure quite how to begin describing this, nor do I think it can really be done justice in writing, nevertheless this needs saying. If you like me you've become a little jaded in by the constantly expanding and diversifying world of electronic music in recent times, or even if you just have a love of vast, magnificent, glorious music, listen to Johann Johannsson and be fulfilled. There's no point really analogising it or trying to draw contemporary comparisons it's just beautiful in every sense. There are elements of Post Rock and Ambient Electronica at play here, but for the most part it can only be described as cinematic Modern Classical;
unutterably beautiful and massively expansive in it's composition. Indeed anyone familiar with his discography will be aware that his work has predominantly accompanied experimental films or theatrical pieces and perhaps it is for this reason that they have such an enchanting sense of narrative flow. His most recent offering and in the endless pause there came the sound of bees is the award winning soundtrack to a BAFTA nominated short film called Varmints and IBM 1401: A Users Manual is the musical accompaniment to a stage production of the same name, based around some instructional maintenance tapes for his fathers early prototype IBM computer. I really can't give this a higher recommendation, go get it and be happy. Otherwise give it to your nan, she'd probably appreciate it.

This said, if you'd much rather listen to some claustrophobic, distorted dirge filth complete with clashing metallic stabs and bowel shredding bass you should probably go check out Cloaks. If you suffer from a weak disposition or you've been feeling a little under the weather give it a miss, I have no doubt that it'll make you ill from both ends at the same time. Despite it's sizable fan base the tearout dubstep sub genre is a glutted market; new artists keep popping up every five minutes, each with a marginally different approach to splintering their gutter splattered basslines and serrating their ear bleeding synths. However Cloaks appear to have singlehandedly knocked a whole scene into a cocked hat without even breaking sweat. With nods to original benchmarkers Vex'd and Distance, they've created a terrifying sound that lurches into a very murky grey area between Dubstep, Techno, Black Metal and Experimental Noise, remorseless in it's execution and utterly unrestrained by the norms of the scene. If this sounds even remotely like your idea of a good time track down Against Grain and Hi-Tek EP, they will satisfy your darkest audiological cravings and irreparably damage your relationship with the neighbours. Well good.

20.3.10

Shithawk


Now then now then, I've got a nothing but disdain for today, you ever encounter one of those days where in all likelihood you're probably not going to be able to stop yourself from unleashing a torrent of drivel on some unsuspecting person so you walk around scatting to yourself and answering every question anyone asks you with a maddeningly incomprehensible question of your own? Yo. That's today. Fortunately for me I have you to cascade my jib upon so my colleagues are spared from the main deluge of meaningless pap, for now at least.

James Blake is a Shithawk. That's right you heard me, a Shithawk. Ignore the urban dictionary, I mean it in the most superlative terms. Imagine something that is "the shit" you know like "oh my days, that new Slugabed tune is the shit!" Well James Blake is riding the methane thermals, circling majestically above "the shit" with effortless majestic grace. Maybe a Shitowl, sitting in the upper branches of a tree gazing down upon the seething morass of musical goodness below him with an expression of quiet, calm superiority. What a guy. You should check The Bells Sketch he put out on Hessle Audio recently, it's uncommonly good, the bass in the title track is the most unsettling piece of brilliance; you're there appreciating the track going "well this is all pretty sweet" and then all of a sudden this bowel movement inducing bass comes charging in like a freight train made of crackling insanity. Aaaah yeah!


Buzzard and Kestrel (fittingly) the next track is bonkers and hilarious, although I can't put my finger on why it's so amusing. It's difficult to even begin trying to explain why it's so affecting, this dude has got some next level manipulative skills when it comes to messing your head up. Along with Give a man a Rod, the third and final track, the whole effect is like some incredibly strange drug induced lucid dream in which the dimensions and governing laws of physics keep changing without notice or reason. You think you've managed to grasp what's going on and then you fall into a hole which turns you into a complex geometric shape that speaks backwards with the same intonation as a musical birthday card running perilously low on battery reserves. There's even a bit in Give a Man a Rod which actually sounds like a wobbly owl leading a choir of ghosts on a rubber pipe organ in a melting Romanian castle. Brilliant.

19.2.10

From apprehension to affirmation in 3 easy steps


I don't know about you, but sometimes the ennui of day to day life sometimes makes me feel a bit jaded about music. Is it really as good as I've been saying? Was I wrong to rant with such vitriolic hatred about mainstream genres? Is it really fair to describe certain musicians as 'fiercely glowing incandescent gems of inspiration in a barren cultural wasteland'?
Of course this malaise lasted for all of a second, of course I'm right, it was a damn good description and mainstream music deserves all the abuse that I can muster. Of course I'd never make such wild statements without some serious backup so here's the proof, read it and weep society (you know who you are).

Since parting ways with Vex'd partner Roly, Jamie Vex'd has blessed us all with a handful of devastating releases, from the awesome In System Travel EP to this unspeakably good remix of Starkey's Miracles. And now after a timely alias switch and a lengthy quiet period, enter the hypercoloured, laser driven, colliding synth universe of Kuedo. This first release Dream Sequence E.P is breathtaking, it sounds as though some crazed vivisectionist has spliced together Flying Lotus, Burial, Loops Haunt, Joker, Ginz and Rustie, packed the resulting monstrosity into a prototype spaceship and blasted it into a parallel universe populated by glowing ethereral beings. Not one to overhype things I suggest you go grab it for a listen and make your own opinions, but without even a trace of hyperbole this is the finest production I've heard this year.

At the other end of a similar spectrum Illum Sphere has steadily been building a name for himself with immaculately produced hiphop shoegaze. Since co-founding the outstanding Hoya Hoya night in Manchester, his production has been subject to a lethargic release schedule, but despite this everything has been absolutely on point. After his debut Incoming Ep and a couple of remixes for the likes of Om Unit and Martyn, his most recent release Long Live the Plan is one of the freshest things the UK beat movement has produced in recent memory. From the air raid interlaced intro the epic dystopian scene is set and what follows is a series of stunning interpretations of the current UK scene, skipping two step nestles in between sparse hip hop and stripped back dub, a miasma of dark synths and crackles overwhelm the stumbling beats before retreating, ghostlike back to the shadows. Of the seven tracks it's hard to pick a favourite so I'm going to pick two: Shadowman, in all it's broodingly beauty and Psycho as it ponderously stomps into your head with its infectious drums and metallic distortion.

Finally, after flailing around and shouting at anyone who'll listen for the last month or so, it figures that I should probably commit my adulation for Free the Robots to this blog rather than wasting everyone else's time and my own energy on babbling incoherently about how good he is. As it stands he's only had the two releases , Free the Robots EP and a collaboration with the (Mother Fucking) Gaslamp Killer, The Killer Robots EP. Both are an utterly brilliant blend of hip hop, jazz, psych rock, samba, prog rock and techo, with some of the crispest and most intricate drums in existence and more production skills that you could shake a studio stable of his contempories at. The only real comparisons I can really draw are the Gaslamp Killer himself, DJ Shadow and Hexstatic but the influences and evocations are wide ranging and numerous. For a taster of his eclectic and perfectly blended styles check out this Low End Theory Podcast (right click and save as), this one for Paris Dj's (same again), this one for Rich Soil and this t-shirt. The new album, CTRL ALT DELETE drops later this year.

As a little bonus for you all, here's a mix I made at the behest of my mate 'Broke Ted' Bil: Bils Weighty Wreck Quest. It's a bit messy in places but ignore that and try to enjoy it for what it is, an ugly mix of heavywieght tunes.

Tracklist

Intro: Long Live the Plan - Illum Sphere
01: Shadowman - Illum Sphere
02: Glow - Kuedo
03: Zisou (everything Up) - Zero 7 (Joker Remix)
04: Digidesign - Joker (Om Unit's Pop Lock Remix)
05: Simon Says - Pharoe Monche (Slugbed Remix)
06: Impact Omnihammer - Loops Haunt
07: Radiant Industry - Jamie Vex'd
08: Starfox - Kuedo
09: Dwrcan - Bibio (Eskmo Remix)
10: Lightgrids - Om Unit (Illum Sphere Remix)
11: Secrets - Flying Lotus (Soundmurderer Refix)
12: Evil Man - Shafiq Husayn (Flying Lotus Remix)
13: Boreal Moonlight -Pine
14: Stinkin Skunk - SRC
15: Skyfire - Slugabed
16: Teeth - Shlohmo
17: Joplin - Loops Haunt
18: Sketches - Fantastic Mr Fox
19: Broken Love - Bass Clef
>>> Change Interlude - Ras G Vs Muse
20: Superman (live) - Jogger

13.2.10

Just a quick tip



Brace yourselves for this, It's out in May so you've just about got enough time to ensure your brains are safely secured before it drops...

15.1.10

Haarpynooyeer


It's unspeakably hot. You can't go outside, you can't even leave the shelter of the air conditioned living room. When I tried to go for a shower I almost axed myself on the sink after slipping in a pool of my own foot sweat. Fortunately being stuck indoors is an excuse to listen to new tunes all day whilst the missus ventures forth into the outside world in search of employment. Don't hate me this is what's known as gradual acclimatisation. Anyway I hope you're sitting comfortably and ready for some heavy new beats for a brand new year, which by all appearances promises to be a good one. After a long Internet drought we're back in the game and I've been all "fatty in a cake shop" for the last couple of days, so to get the ball rolling here are a few sparkling gems of musical freshness for you all to enjoy.

Debruit has been turning heads for a little while now, but until he released his new EP Spatio Temporel I was yet to be wholly taken with his sound. These four new tracks are a stunning combination of playful manipulation and wholesome bass, standing alone in their ability to make you chuckle uncontrollably, shake your head in disbelief and bounce like a possessed kangaroo all within the same bar. Cleverly looped and cut samples, cheeky vocal led drops and splashes of furious wobble all combine to produce some of the freshest beats this year so far, not that the year is barely five minutes old yet, but I figure they'll stand the test of time with ease.

I've already mentioned Shlohmo in recent months but a rerelease of his Shlohmoshun EP deserves an extra shout. Complete with remixes from artistes de jour, Tokimonsta, Devonwho, Fulgeance and Low Limit this repackage boasts some tighter mastering, two new tracks and a few nice tweaks to the original tracks which only serves to enhance their lush, subtly affecting atmospherics. Teeth is the standout of the new tracks, bringing static crackle and pin prick percussion before dropping a tearout bassline that could probably shear off your ears if played loud enough. My pick of the guest spots is the Devonwho remix of 7am, compressing the original sounds into squashed bleeps and tight edits before unleashing tribal drums that roll the tune through to a satisfying close.

A special mention must go out to Loops Haunt for his d├ębut release (that underground cassette promo aside) Impact OmniHammer b/w Joplin. Since their original airing on various promo mixes these two brain tenderising beats have evolved yet further from their already impressive roots and I for one am overjoyed that I too can now drop two of my favourite tunes at a cost of less than £2. Hold tight for Loops Haunt madness in this coming week with his Rubber Sun Grenade EP dropping on Fortified Audio. If you haven't checked this startling talent out yet please grab his Promo Mixes (1 & 2) and Electronic Explorations showcase from earlier last year and brace yourself for some sonic mischief of the highest order.

Finally a brief word on a slept on album from last year that friends recently brought to my attention; Medschool newcomer, Bop's first offering to the world of ephemeral Drum and Bass. Clear Your Mind is vaguely reminiscent of Instramental and Consequence, but elements of glitch and IDM shine through the wash of atmospherics, drawing more appropriate comparisons to artists like Shlohmo or Kelpe. Haunting, melancholic synths are perforated by laser guided, needle sharp, bit crushed percussion, incredibly unpredictable in the sparsity or cluster of it's arrangement. The resulting composition is a beautifully spacious work of individuality sprinkled with just the right amount of glitch to keep things bubbling along nicely. All in all a well worthy addition to anyone's collection and another much needed boost in credibility for the DnB scene.

Enough chatter for now, night has fallen and it's just about cool enough to go lie down without sweating a small lake into the mattress. No time to relax though for now is the hour of the mosquito onslaught. Subtropical life isn't all it's cracked up to be.