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.
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