Monday, 24 September 2018

🐣 OKAY(K) — SEVEN, TI SEVEN [初演 • PREMIERE]

⌾ LISTEN TO OKAY(K) SEVEN TI SEVEN ⌾

Fresh from the faded sunset beach guitar sounds of ‘bacardi with a soda’ – his latest track – SoundCloud musicmaker, vocalist and all-round wordist okay(K) crash lands back to earth in his interdimensional pod; the control panel has gone haywire and is playing out some wonky chords from a far-off radio station, colourful blips and bleeps crackling in the hook (notification system failing), the fizzing circuitry of the beat skipping and lurching with a galaxy of glitch.

It’s friendly though. In fact, 'seven, ti seven' sort of reminds me of the 'Battle Against a Weird Opponent' theme from Earthbound. The sound is warm, though jaunty and angular in structure. Like Mr Burns from that Simpsons episode, he brings you love. And here okay(K) is in the middle of it all, with a message from the future. Or was it the past?

“The concept is "seven ti seven ti seven ti seventy" meaning "seven you seven you seven you seventy",” he tells us via email.

“everyone is as much alike in a way as they are different. we’re all human with our own unique characteristics that make us distinct.”

Halfway between a lounge croon and a beat poet recital, okay(K)’s vocal in ‘seven, ti seven’ rolls around picking up references from everywhere, like a virtual snowball through Wikipedia, from foreign languages to the next US election. And all in a style that drips in stream-of-consciousness fever dream freedom; even the way the lyrics can be set out looks like a poem:

never, never, never been where i is
is i isn't
isn't i isn't
isn't i finished
i said now isnt thy wishlist not made in 79 minutes
79 minutes till he be sending my giftish
its like my 79th christmas
he said Pitkästä aikaa
* i said now isn't i Finnish
i said now isn't i finished
...

The skipping but low-slung virtuosity of this first verse (above is a fragment) contrasts with the wobbly, positive spoken word-esque vocal of the second; there’s simple but inspiration thinking in there, with lines like “I think we can go far / If we hold on real tightly” delivered with rounded earnest. Politics comes into play, when okay(K) talks about waiting “patiently” for 2020: "If we are impeaching then it may be imperfection / Coulda happened sooner then there would be no objection now."

It’s an exercise in patient positivity, set to a scuttled hodge-podge glitch-flavoured beat that could seem chaotic, but feels as chill and accessible as those jazzed-out chords—a joyful juncture where rap, poetry and sheer artistic communication meet and mingle.

* This means 'long time no see' in Finnish.




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Thursday, 16 August 2018

🐣 YEULE — POCKY BOY

Firstly those synths, warped and wild, wrap the track in wreathes of rolling fog, a heavysoft sound that ushers you into this sunken world. Grainy and cutting, like a rain of razor wire, this is the cloud on which you sit throughout the song, the vantage point for witnessing yourself like an out-of-body experience. 'Pocky Boy' is all about this atmosphere, tender but cutting, harsh.

The voice of yeule adds to this sense of sea-mist, this mind miasma, the curdling of nebulous thoughts that end up as "voices in my... head." Her vocal reverbs into itself, a series of cyclical ruminations, sheaves of a diary ripped out scratching together dusty and fragmenting into a distant breeze, incoming.

Ultimately though there is this violent ambience, this scathing wall of grey noise punctuated by the pastel of those synths (struck by their stumbling rhythm, their picking-up-the-pieces irregularity, the head-in-hands voidsome chords of it), but it is given motion by the thump of a meaty house kick: the simple secret to continuing with life. The easter egg of a gun cocking.

And yeule's own voice, looped, echoes itself, a frenzy of movement—by the end, we return to those chords by themselves, ready to begin again; foreboding instead of finality.


  • 🔔 So the 'Pocky Boy' video is above, of course, and features instant messaging, some urban exploration and a little bit of pocky play, too. Directed by friend-of-the-artist Rabbit Sashimi (actually a thing; though we cannot find a jot of a soul online), it is described by the Singapore-and-London-based yeule as follows:

    "At the dawn of the new age, civilization has been wiped out by an alien race that can shape-shift into the humans that used to walk the earth centuries before. The aliens attempt to grasp the differences of gender and form that humans beings had, even though they do not know the difference because of their nature as non-binary beings."

  • 🔔 This track was actually released back in April via Zoom Lens, so you may straightaway download 'Pocky Boy' here, should you wish to do so.
  • 🔔 Aaand... yeule will be playing her first LA show on 23rd August, 7:30pm - 11pm, as part of Zoom Lens-curated night Malform. The location of this show is TBA.


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Wednesday, 15 August 2018

🐣 DRONA — FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS

"I moved to America for university on a scholarship and that's when I encountered a stark change in culture," says Indian musicmaker, Drona. The Cornell student tells the story of those cultural differences in 'First World Problems', a track that bumps with bass and blooms of hazy, heralding synth, with clacking percussion keeping delicious, swaying time.

The song makes use of not busying up all the space with instrumental, allowing the vocals room to impact. And it is all about the vocals in Drona's outsider observations of an Ivy Leaguer's life—all wrapped up in a playful, upbeat slice of sound.

These observations come mainly in the form of crushing, eponymous problems: "Truffles on pizza / but delivery is just not on time / pills in Ibiza / but the traffic is a bit of a crime." And these little vignettes are contrasted with Drona's own experience, namely the pre-chorus line, "I guess I can't remember / when I had / so much to have," highlighting the differences between a first world problem and, well, a real world problem; the trauma of just having too much stuff to begin with.


  • 🔔 'First World Problems' is taken from Drona's upcoming EP, The Third World Season. "It talks about the whole arc of being in India to coming to America and then finding "First World Problems" after I came here," he explained to us. Feel free to download 'First World Season' here via your fav service.


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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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