Thursday, 21 May 2015

PENDER STREET STEPPERS – THE GLASS CITY

This is a lovely and super delicious meal of music arriving courtesy of Vancouver-located production duo Jack Juston and Liam Butler, better known as the musical entity that they engineer and inhabit, Pender Street Steppers. It's called 'The Glass City' and usually with names such as this I'm just completely besotted with them because they conjure sceneries for the imagination that can then be soundtracked with the music once it's actually playing.

But I found out that "City of Glass" is a nickname for Vancouver (one of many, according to Wikipedia), coming from the title of a Douglas Coupland book of the same name, referring to the mainly steel-and-glass nature of the city's architecture.

BUT ENOUGH OF THIS.

The track itself 'The Glass City' is a not over-complicated yet totally bustling journey, moving along in a progressive fashion, picking up and dropping different elements as it slides glisteningly and blissfully along.

Organic drums with super-subtle delicate feather-touch hi-hats and punchy kicks, punctuated with the occasional muffled tom fill, are the foundation for the track, with plenty of percussion jumping in to add extra spice and flavour to the mix: güiros (or scrapers if you want) provide a flush of white-noise-esque insectoid chattering of humid crepuscularity, lassitudinal open hi-hat sounds shuffle with a sleepy-disco feel, gloriously crafted handclaps alternate with and lock into satisfying snare hits. It's all there.

Add to this the founding lounge-leaning chords of soft electronic piano, caressing your ears like sunlight on skin, syncopated spheroid bloops of synth bass, and slightly disorienting, seemingly directionless gentle rapid-fire horn sounds, and you've got yourself a winner of a track, something fit for the blissful afternoons of summer, and something very worthy of associated with that real-life El Dorado of chilled-out house music, Café del Mar. 8:46 minutes of understated rapture.

It arrives in vinyl form as a single on collective/label Mood Hut (of which Pender Street Steppers are a part). The B side is another very, very tasty number called 'Golden Garden' (place names again – name of a Vietnamese restaurant in Vancouver says Google), a slower track with a steady beat and a definitive groove in the form of bulging peals of bass, all of it veiled with ultra-chill soft synth chords, a 100% atmospheric flute fluttering in towards – listen to a snippet of that below.


  • You can buy 'The Glass City'/'Golden Garden' courtesy of Mood Hut.


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Wednesday, 20 May 2015

BRAYDO – I THINK I SAW YOU IN MY DREAM LAST NIGHT

I stumbled upon this the other day and I was like "whaaat" so I put it on a to-write-about list like "yeahhh" then forgot about it and then I rediscovered it just now like "whaaat" again. Safe to say it's a tasty tune and one that suits the spring palette and most hopefully will delight your palate. Hm. Two different words, two different meanings, sound the same. Homophone.

So this is a track by braydo, who is a musicmaker from Washington, as far as I can tell. It's called 'i think i saw you in my dream last night' and instantly, without even having to think about it, I can feel that fleeting feeling of glimpsing a welcome human presence within a dream, fantasy love welling up from the hidden recesses of the heart, where your more rational, waking mind archives them for safe-keeping. Or maybe I'm just being melodramatic.

The constant pulmonary plume of bass in this song is a soft, exacting rumble, like it's the kind of intense ambient sound you'd hear if you were a miniaturised person floating inside a human body, like in The Magic School Bus or that film Innerspace. A very organic sound.

On top of this, plaintive synth flute sounds chime in and out of earshot, indistinct and glistening, soaked with reverb, just like the vague outlines of a beautiful dream, with a steady contemplative beat dishing out thumping kicks and lo-fi snares, a wandering hi-hat pattern split between something more simple in the song's first half and gently ornamented, busier strains in the second.

This clear twoness of the track is bridged by a subsidence in the rich rumble of the bass, linking the initial appearance of the mystery dream person in the first half of the track, to the heartmelting recognition and realisation in the second section, where plunking almost pizzicato synth mix with continual muffled vox sounds: the shard of light and love that does not physically or actually change much, but accentuates your surroundings and lightens your mind.

But at the same time, dreams are essentially mirages, and the turmoil of tumbled-down beliefs that your subconscious mind stacked up during the night, leading you to believe real, actual passages of time were passing, real emotions felt, physical people interacted with – all evaporates as you surface once again into reality.



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Saturday, 2 May 2015

LANCASTER – SUNSET DANCE

Here's a lovely rich and crunchy gravel-zest slice of future funk from a producer called Lancaster. What do you need to know? His real name is Luis Rodriguez and he is from Philadelphia and from the looks of things he was born in 1996, making him like 18 or 19. As many other talented purveyors of future funk are, he is an associate of KEATS//COLLECTIVE – spiritual home to other creators of modern funk/disco/soul classics, including Skylar Spence (fka Saint Pepsi), Harrison, and Rollergirl, to name just a few on their long and illustrious roster.

Looking at the lists of artists included in their compilations sometimes it's like… Pokémon, or something equally collectible. Each of the numerous artists exists in this stylistic, aesthetic-led, nostalgia-breathing space, yet they're all different people, with their own individual styles and flairs. Let's get going on the Future Funk Trading Card series – that would be suuuper fun!

Anyway, here we are with Lancaster (a fine name) and his track 'Sunset Dance'. It begins with a sample of some sort of interview with… some punk people (forgive me for not knowing), something which pops up throughout the track; they talk about being individual, and not wanting to wear Lacoste clothes, and how punk is "overwhelmingly loud". An interesting thing: the interviewer notes that in being different to everybody else, punks end up looking the same. More on this in a second~

This song is thick with funk, a multicoloured miasmia of music that samples a lo-low pitch-shifted version of '80s group Manhatten Transfer song 'Spice of Life' , distorted and overdriven, with classy-breezy horns added along with semi-brutal ricocheting drums – it's even tagged "oversaturated".

Now, this could be a reference to the actual music itself, or something else: if you take the snippets of punk interview present here and equate them with future funk, this track could be taken as a message about the current online music scene being oversaturated. Maybe. Rodriguez also says in the SoundCloud description, "this song means a lot to me." On the other hand, the insertion of this punk interview could just be ascribing to a punk aesthetic, a rebellious spirit, alive in the sample-heavy music of future funk; this kind of attitude, just because it's not distorted guitars and gobbing on people, can thrive in any new music form. For me, chopping up old songs and making new jams outta them, well, I love it, and I definitely think there's something punk about it: nobody's asking permission here, it's about producers using raw materials (samples, sounds, effects) in any way they want in order to portray a fantasy, an idealised throwback to the past, a netting of old music bent to the will of the producer and moulded in whichever way they want: it's freedom.

Another note in the SC description simply says "press play pt 2," which – judging from the title of his 2013 Bandcamp release Press Play, could be heralding a brand new album from Lancaster. Hooray! (maybe)



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