Thursday, 5 July 2018

🐣 MARQUIS HAWKES — DON'T U FEAT. URSULA RUCKER

Uplifting, yes, but not to the point of euphoria—uplifting from a low-level mood, bringing you out of the darkness, the feeling of looking up at the blinding sun after you've fallen over and grazed your knees or just woken up from a nap and remembered all the things that are making you anxious but then you rationalise. Far from the dancefloor, Marquis Hawkes' track feels more as though it both reflects and alleviates suburban misery. It is a track of small, important victories: dancing won't heal you, but it's fine for now.

Part of that almost solemn feeling of 'Don't U' comes from those skyward synth chords - in the style of a chapel organ, the continuous chords with occasional single note changes feels very organ-like; it suggests something redemptive about this track. The tone of those chords has us pointing ourselves similarly skyward: they're slightly decayed and warm, not too bright but also not dull; the synth – like the track itself – is elegant in its simplicity.

Simple acid synth bass squelches in sparse groove to give this sense of dynamic movement alongside the constant house kicks. Ursula Rucker's star-of-the-show vocals softly pad alongside the incidental gladdening synth chords feeling like a motivational speaker or a pastor telling you what you want to hear—or else they sing in gentle butterfly snippets. Combine that with simple dynamic subtractions and additions, tumbling toms, a handful of simple percussion, teetering on the edge of lo-fi house to deliver an atmospheric, modern-day sermon of a track in the church of dance with an overflowing heart.




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🐣 ÀBÁSE — SKEME GOES ALL CITY

Built around the frenzy of cyclical repetition, this track two-steps to a speedy tempo with a half-time trap-feeling beat—a slice of jazz that's more about the atmosphere created and solid rhythms rather than wheeling, flighty solos. Beginning with a lush, lounge-flavoured intro, it soon bursts into life with a series of dynamic riffs that feel more nightclub than jazz club.

It's by Budapest-based producer and keyboardist Szabolcs Bognar, now embarking on a new project called Àbáse. And it's this musicmaker's love of hip hop that has created the unique, beat-and-groove-led vehicle at the heart of this track: the track's title 'Skeme Goes All City' references Style Wars, a 1983 documentary about graffiti.

"I can clearly remember that I was listening to a lot of current Blue Note releases at the time. Music from Jaleel Shaw, Marcus Strickland, Ben Willams and such." Bognar tells us about the birth of the track. "The main melody is definitely inspired by that scene."

"Each member came up with their part on the spot. We were jamming through it a few times and the trap feel and groove just came out of us so it was all pretty natural. We did only a few takes of recording. I also wanted to put out something completely live first. No huge editing and production process, just the musicians playing and grooving together. It's kind of a tip of the hat to the blue note and classic jazz style of recording, as well."

The crossover of jazz instrumentation and trap-style beats with swaggering repetition is one that feels as relevant as ever—e.g. Kendrick's To Pimp A Butterfly, Kamasi Washington, the flavours of Brainfeeder's output. Riding this wave of band-created groove well away from the producer's studio, Àbáse reflect a newness of modern pick-and-mix culture diverting from the specificity of genre.


  • 🔔 The members of Àbáse this time around are Fanni Zahár (flute, vocals), Szabolcs Bognár (Rhodes), Tamás Heilig (bass) and Tamás Czirják (drums). The artwork, fresh green with concentric circles of cocktailing collage, reflects the combos at work in the track itself.
  • 🔔 You may stream and/or download 'Skeme Goes All City' via your favourite service, if you like. There will be an EP, or maybe an LP, coming soon so, yeah, watch out for that if you liked this.


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Tuesday, 12 June 2018

🐣 LYCORISCORIS — FLIGHT

Bustling and crackling with organic buzz and with a heartbeat thudding like the constancy of living and breathing against the melancholic backdrop of the ever-shifting seasons, the rising strings all emotive and tear-jerking, a never-ever feel to it, a will-I-ever feel to it (a la Jon Hopkins) this is Tokyo-based Lycoriscoris aka real life human Yunosuke Senoo. The motion of it suits the name 'Flight', but other than the clear image of something literally flying, what else do we have here?

Well, with its trickling percussion like icicles melting, and the frosty frosty touches of piano sparkling like sun on snow summons a stark landscape, wintry, but with the hope of spring and summer on the horizon, the rising nature of those strings are like the possibility of new life; a mix of depression and hope, it charts the cusp of the year where life teeters between holed-up against the snow and taking tentative steps below freshly unfurling leaves.




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Wednesday, 6 June 2018

🐣 SANTINO LE SAINT — MAGIC

Somewhere in a desolate wasteland between completely despairing of your situation and carnal pleasures, the trade-off between sex and happiness, feelings and sparing feelings, is the incredibly feel-tastic lamenting lovesong that is 'Magic'. Created by London model, producer, singer and musician Santino Le Saint, it's a tract of scalding synth sounds winding between just a few notes making it feel cyclical – the going-round-in-circles of a restless mind in love – set against a trap beat that rumbles like gurgling lava, sharp industrial snares and ticking hi-hats like a sense of stomach-churning immediacy.

Obviously there is this trap heaviness to it. And to add to the lamenting vibe of this literally magical track there's some serious shredding going on, a Latin-infused '80s-metal guitar solo cavorts in aching interludes in the midst of 'Magic', before becoming the coda of the track, crying out, rapid-fire and raucous. But vocally it feels like an R&B-flavoured slow-jam—Santino Le Saint's satin voice skillfully lilts from the sensually stark and beautifully confused first few lines:

"You should fuck me in the back of this Uber, baby
I know this isn't something you're used to baby
Life's changed and I'm still getting used to it lately
Nothings what it used to be baby..."

Yet it's coated in this metallic decay, as if those words are already ruined, already not worth communicating to whomever they're directed. It's continues thoughtful and reflective: "I was sitting in the passenger, flicking through the calender, thinking about the shit we've done""If we were in a different situation we'd be better off." And doubtful: "Now you're saying that I love you but you never know..." And at times it's like a storytelling Bonnie-and-Clyde-esque stream-of-consciousness, e.g. "but if we're gonna die young then / you'd better promise me if you can shoot then drive""...and if they try and pull us over put the metal to the floor."

"I actually wrote the first line of 'Magic' whilst I was drunk in the back of an Uber on my way home from a party," said Santino Le Saint, talking about the track. "I like to arrive on a track with impact and this was so direct and to the point... I sort of forgot about the lyrics, and a few months down the line the concept came back into my mind and the rest of the track fell into place. You know when you're drunk or high, feeling yourself and just fantasise about shit, that's 'Magic'."

In all, the track brings an everyday, an everynight, Uber ride to a startlingly evocative and cinematic height, from where it drips greatness and sharpness onto you like tears and static—and in a unique vessel that crosses the epic poetry of guitar solo with R&B's sensuality and emotion.


  • 🔔 This lovely piece of music is taken from Santino Le Saint's recent XENO EP, three-track offering that acts as a composite of these guitar, vocals and beat in a modern-day slice of Prince-esque compounding. You can – and most definitely should – listen to it over on his SoundCloud.


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Wednesday, 30 May 2018

🐣 JOHNNY JEWEL — RED DOOR

Just about two minutes of blissful-abrasive noise, of arching plumes of synth that seem to wash across your mind like clouds careening across a curdled sky; thinner more modulated chords raising the tone, raising the mood just slightly, but with thinner tracts of sound spelling out some sort of indefinite threat, and scratchy nanobot insectoid chirrupings like malicious electronic signals. Yes, this is ominously titled 'Red Door' by Johnny Jewel, a maelstrom of seemingly innocuousness, like the beautiful azure tide of the sea receding as it laps a beach to reveal a carpet of shattered bones; a paradise lost, bountiful beauty at crippling cost.

Of course, Johnny Jewel has had a hand in the soundtracking of much anticipated Twin Peaks: The Return (albeit with Chromatics in one of its episode's musical endings) so it may explain the dual-minded mood of 'Red Curtain' - as well as its name - so much of the Twin Peaks atmosphere is an uncomfortably close juxtaposition of terror and humour, safety and danger, and thus this track soothes but it also scathes somewhat—it is a comfortable haunting.

"I was about a year deep into recording what would become Windswept when I heard that David [Lynch] was making Season 3 [of Twin Peaks]," he explained. "It's been a year since Chromatics performed at the Roadhouse. With disintegrated memory through the haze of television snow, I wanted to share a glimpse behind the red curtain." And here it is captured: the eternity and mortality in those anxious pre-show moments, the mystery of backstage ritual.


  • 🔔 The haunting/comforting 'Red Curtain' is taken from new Johnny Jewel album, Themes for Television. Released back in late May, the project began "as a sonic exploration of the sounds I was hearing in my nightmares," said Jewel in a press release. "I wanted to find my way out of the maze by focusing on beauty over fear — like the way the fractured sunrise looks in a dream."

    You can grab it on vinyl

  • 🔔 The atmospherically relevant video for 'Red Door' was directed by Radka Leitmeritz; with its slow-motion and lingering fades, its enigmatic steely-eyed star Czech model Eva Klimkova and the monochrome-except-for-red colour scheme, it's a spiritual cousin to the track itself.


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