Friday, 19 January 2018


Right from its heavenly shining intro, with the gently clomping percussive synth and gradually gleaming chords, 'Worth It' feels like a perfect pop song: the syncopated synth bass that bloops and bops along in this pastel plaintive progression totally bumps the track along, the falling away of that lighter atmosphere into this hook – "I hope you know / how far this goes / it was worth it though / I'm never going home" – in which Robokid evokes emotion and intrigue, the very thought of never being able to go home, to anywhere, being a world-shattering prospect. It's a veritable story told with very few words; it's what's not said that makes it so effective.

"For this track I was trying to keep the lyrics less literal and be a little more cryptic," he explains to us via email. "I want people to make their own conclusions for sure, but it's a lot about everyone in my life however also talking to myself."

And that literal-cryptic mix comes to life in lines like: "I know you've had a bad year / and you keep saying you just wanna die / I think we have the same fears / cause you don't ever go outside." Whilst very literal, the captivating element of these words is their lack of divulgence: they don't tell you everything, just enough to touch your heart, not your mind. The rest of the track is characterised by a lack of lyrics, and an intensification of synth, spreading gossamer trance veils above garbled pitch-shifted vocals as it leads to its end; the whole thing a powerful parcel of music, like a deep and emotional DM sent to somebody but manifested in music form and seeded with upbeat pop accessibility.

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Sometimes it is what's left unsaid that is most powerful, and in the case of instrumentals it's what's left unused and untouched: space. A sense of space can give a sense of majesty and grandeur as well as chilling tension and literal expansiveness. And so it is in 'Say It With Your Chest', the latest from London rapper Suspect—synths glassy and glacial, halfway between a slowed-down music box and a warped gamelan, chime out a haunting melody that adds a calculated coldness to the track.

Between these chimes is space, and lots of it, plenty for Suspect's murderous bars, who breathlessly and growling explains the advantages of not talking behind someone's (i.e. his) back – "bet you can't @ me when you're dead" – and challenging you to "say it with your chest," this hook screaming out guttural with reverb and ad-libs yelping in the void of the track. A huge trap-flavoured beat thumps and rattles, the minimalism and delicacy of the instrumental making the venom and aggression of the words all the more effectively brutal: "all I smell is death in the air / it gets dark in the depths."

  • 🔔 This track is out now on RINSE and you can stream it variously here.
  • 🔔 The video for 'Say It With Your Chest' was directed by Bafic and Hector Dockrill, who explain the ideas behind the vivid visuals, dark yet colourful: "Suspect wanted to shoot a hood video with colour, so we experimented with lights around Wooly [Walworth Road] — we wanted to capture everything in its correct environment, but within a heightened reality."

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Thursday, 18 January 2018


Sendai is the largest city in Japan's northeastern Tohoku region, and the country's second largest north of Tokyo. It was founded by famous local lord Date Masamune in 1600, and owes not only many of its sights and history to him and the Date clan, but also the city's comprehensive grid layout is based on his plans. It's famous for grilled beef tongue, the Tanabata festival, its zelkova tree-lined streets, producing a lot of rice, autumn potato stew picnics, Sendai Castle, and being close to Matsushima, one of the Three Views Of Japan, amongst other things. The coastal areas of Sendai, including its airport and many ports, were all but destroyed by the 2011 tsunami; it is here that the wave came furthest inland—up to 10km in some places.

We stumbled through the city in the snow, a whirlwind visit that took us from the station to the castle – where we witnessed a cosplaying Date Masamune help build a snowman with some children – and back again. As a showcase of the country, rather than a travel guide, we want to show you with words and pictures rather than tell you what to do, and here is a day spent on the wide boulevards of Sendai, witnessing not just one of its most popular sights but something more worthwhile: the daily life of the city.


Wednesday, 17 January 2018


The delicacy of this tropical track is beautiful, charting its namesake – liana, a species of woody vine that climbs to the top of a forest canopy for sunlight – as it twists slowly onwards towards life, glassy synths illustrating the robust nature of these vines with their percussive feel and full-bodied warmth, as well as the clack-clopping of subtle snare-woodblock. Manchester musicmaker Hidden Spheres inches his track towards brightness, gradually adding elements that conjure dappled sunlight, like vital breathy hi-hats, and a simple two-note horn refrain that blasts out low-key triumphantly.

The natural element to this chilled and breezy lounge-flavoured track is more than in the name, however. It begins and continues throughout with a backdrop of the rainforest itself, ambient sounds of insectoid white noise and mammalian hoots and indistinct birdcalls, taken from 1970s documentary Wonders Of The Rainforest. And so with the veil of nature draped firmly over the bumping kicks and skiffling percussion, which includes the tactile rolling of bongos, 'Lianas' is with those gorgeous chords and the aching rise and fall of more fizzing synths, lush and living, playful and paradisiacal: music for the splendour of the natural world.

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There is a great deal of urgency in Matt Sokol's 'the art factory', a track brimming kinetic energy courtesy of collusion between breakneck drums and earthy handfuls of synth arranged in robust arpeggios. Melodies cry out in its first half like little robots communicating brightly with chirruping bleeps-n-bloops, evoking the scene assumed by its enigmatic title: an art factory, where art is made; the sound is industrious, cheerful, with dips of intrigue and doom effusing from a couple of key changes within the first minute. Who are these robots on the production line? For whom is this art being made? We wonder.

Talking to us about the track, Matt Sokol – a drummer himself as well as producer – explains the hyperactive beats: "My love for drums and youthful obsession with math rock drumming means I can't help it," he writes in an email to us, "so many of my beats are crazy fast, flying all over the place."

'the art factory' goes through not only key changes, but whole stylistic shifts. At 1:14 the arpeggio falls away leaving a naked footwork beat thumping beneath a new set of spooky, gleaming synths, chiptune-esque (the VGM sound is "ultimately a coincidence" however), signalling a darker twist behind this art factory, a growling crunch of distortion raging till its crescendo at 1:46 summons an overwhelming sinister tone; look at the artwork—is that blood trailing from what we assume is the factory? The track ends with calm and steady beat, gentle guitar riff, with chilled sweeps of the strings—things are back to normal. It is a multifaceted offering. These are more than superficial changes, however, and are reflective of a thought process.

"I think my mind moves faster than average, both in good and bad ways," Sokol tells us. "I can think fast but also sometimes I can think too fast and go down crazy intellectual pathways in my mind that are not useful."

"With music it seems like that aspect of my personality comes out in overdrive."

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