Monday, 8 August 2016

ISABELLA – BUDGE

Sometimes the best way to whip up a frenzy whilst also creating a wholly original track is not through any special secret method, but through simple addition, subtraction and repetition. When it comes to dance music, maybe all music, this surely is the golden rule—in 'Budge', a recent standalone SoundCloud upload from Isabella – producer of, she says, "odd acid and sloppy techno" – this is, quite gloriously, the case. Full name Isabella Koen, and previously known as Sitting Adult the musicmaker is not only ultra-pro at this dynamic setting down and extraction of parts in music, but also of creating sound itself: the sounds she uses are organic, like half-machines-half-lifeforms moving in unison rather than artificial noises.

The drums start proceedings with juddering kick, thin snare and harsh handclap, overdriven toms making their way into the mix weaving in an added complexity and precision, with a series of beeping bloops and bleeps like building blocks falling into place next, a shroud of shredded plasma gradually making its way to the fore like a mechanised spiritual presence. The track then begins in earnest, a four-note refrain, a digitised sound textured with knife-cut electric treble and plunging bass at the same time, seeming to hang in the air before sheaves of open hi-hat fall and propel the track forward, percussion tumbling now, through various changes in these parts, a tunnel of cold simplicity, a futuristic Hazy Maze Cave (that's a level from Mario 64 if you didn't know), an effortless feat of atmosphere and aesthetics, ghostly and physical, mathematics and rhythm.


  • Isabella's most recent release is the self-titled Isabella (a slightly harder, harsher sound in general than this decidedly minimalist standalone track) released tape-wise on Philadelphia label Embalming Lately; listen + download on their bandcamp.


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Thursday, 4 August 2016

LILY – BEACH GIRL

We're discovering Lily as Lily, rather than Lily as she was formerly/is still known (Ultrademon). It seems a good a time as any; recently she released her debut under this new moniker (her real name), Psychic Jealousy, and it's the first explosive opener from that album that's the focus here: 'Beach Girl'—an exciting swirl of ineffable fun. "Beach girl"... What does it connote? A girl at the beach. But Lily says much more than just this, painting a deeper picture of summer, holidaying, freedom, memories, broad and minute sonic brushstrokes forming an unending, relatable image. Partly, it's the polished late-90s-early-00s-party-music vibe that give it a quality of being somewhat unlocatable in time, lending a fantasy feel to it: or maybe that's just the internet talking.

Slap of snare shakes the track into life, different patterns of syncopated digital synth chords and plink-plonking boops make themselves known, some of these at one point or another becoming part of its frenzied refrain, uptempo beat pulsing pulsing with life beneath it all. These sumptuous and deeply toned sounds, clean and rounded, forming the main crux of the track, are decorated with thin synth arpeggiating down in misty rain, orchestra hits rapid-firing, all of it whirling together, melodies crossing over and changing dynamically throughout, the beat – with its punchy snare and precision hi-hats – dictating changes and keeping foot-tapping, head-nodding, heart-beating time.


  • As mentioned, 'Beach Girl' is the opening track to Lily's recent album Psychic Jealousy, released on Chicago label Deep Space Objects (for which Lily does A&R); listen + download over on the label's bandcamp.


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Monday, 1 August 2016

T'CHALLA – WAKANDAN SONIX EP

Here is music from another world, a foray into a stark and colourful far-off slice of space-time; it's by Ghanaian producer T'Challa and it's an EP, a collection of instrumental beats released under the title Wakandan Sonix – a reference to the fictional African country of Wakanda that features in the Marvel universe. With this sense of extraordinary fiction in mind, the soundscapes that the producer, real name Khalid Iddisah, conjures are just the ticket: otherworldly, interdimensional, future-facing and unique, they summon unknown far-flung places and mind-spaces with brutal beat-led simplicity.

Whilst tagged "Trap", and certainly pertaining to the swagger for the most part, the tracks sometimes actually feel closer to the experimentalism of grime—the beats of 'Epic' hang in the air, wide and open, following a booming remix of The Internet's 'Special Affair', both tracks haunted by rattling hi-hats and clacking snares; 'Analog' has that sub-bass menace, but the beats feel fresh and simple, the chords are brooding and strange, the synth melodies plink playfully. The other remix, closing the EP, a bootleg of 'Because' by Smerz, in fact carves out a house beat as things get deep and dark and sufficiently groovesome. There is seemingly no one genre at work here, more one style at work, one sound, one slant and one direction.

The portal to paths untrod by humans is certainly open: refreshing chords ring out sharply and brightly against a sheer clatter of beats in 'Chaodic' as the tracks swings between these cosmic, sun-after-the-rain parts and its more trappish parts, where sub-bass hums as stuttering laser synths shoot by. 'Djin Music' (named after the supernatural beings, maybe) floats in, marching and whirling soft sounds above the crunch of bass, a church bell donging to signal unhinged saw-wave synthwork, a grimey feeling hung like a shroud over the thickets of percussion here. Personal favourite 'The Endz' is the epitome of grime: a filtered plasma blast for a bassline, the refrain of jangling strings, the jostle and crash of snare and hand-clap together, spacey sunrise synth chords brightening the tone as the track rollicks to its unexpected end.

T'Challa's beatscapes effuse difference and imagination, throw spanners and cog-busting objects into the workings of our minds as we try to figure out what it is or where we're being taken. Distinctions like 'light and dark' and 'future or past', traditional oppositions, seem to fuse in this producer's music. Likewise, simplicity and complexity work together as basic beat patterns and repeating melodies feel unique and intricate, lacing into one another, chasing each other in an un-world where un-things un-happen; a glance into a new dimension where chaos and beauty overlap with graceful severity.


  • You can listen to Wakandan Sonix in its entirety above or on SoundCloud.


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Wednesday, 27 July 2016

FÁBIO CARAMURU – CIGARRA

The releases of Tokyo-based flau records span the distance from Japanese music like the constructivist electronica of CRYSTAL and the constant dreamworlds of cuushe, to the music of artists from all over the world, like Taiwanese cello-guitar-violin ensemble Cicada, with many genres represented in between—and never do they disappoint. It's ever the same with a beautiful new piece called 'Cigarra'.

A mix of natural found-sounds and fluid waxing-and-waning piano-playing, 'Cigarra' is the work of Brazilian pianist and composer Fábio Caramuru. Taken from an upcoming collection of pieces in which Caramuru "speaks" to the fauna of his home country, this particular track is a conversation with the ostensibly whining and screeching of cigarra – meaning cicada in Portuguese. Its violent buzzing, though, feels like a lament here, the piano reflecting brightly and empathising with grave and tumbling tones the constant call of this long-living insect.

Like the the cicada, the piano too seems to be calling out, mimicking its song with a rapid refrain, soaring into flighty introspection at times, and falling to its refrain again by the coda, repeating endlessly with a certain sadness alongside the cicada, into the air, where the music goes to whose ears that will hear it.


  • That collection of pieces is an album called EcoMúsica - conversas de um piano com a fauna brasileira - ("conversations between a piano and the fauna of Brazil") and it will be out on flau on 7th September 2016. Alongside the album opener 'Cigarra', other tracks/animals included are 'Uirapuru' (musician wren), 'Anu-branco' (guira cuckoo), and 'Tuim' (a type of forpus parrot). And you may pre-order it from flau here if you like the sound of that.


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Saturday, 23 July 2016

NEON BUNNY FEAT MARK REDITO – ROOM314

Mark Redito (the artist formerly known as Spazzkid) features on this latest track from South Korean singer and songmaker, Neon Bunny (real name Lim Yoojin). It's called 'Room314' and it probably has nothing to do with this book entitled The Battle for Room 314: My Year of Hope and Despair in a New York City High School, nor anything to do with this film called Room 314 (might do though). It's a towering sweet romance of a track.

As NB alternates between singing softly in Korean and singing in English the touching refrain 'if you like me now it's fine, why don't you stay here with me? / maybe you will like me tomorrow, why don't you stay here with me?', fluttering chords lead into instrumental sections alive and electric with energy, buzzing synth and aching melody playing in these parts where unbridled emotion bursts in waves. Decorations throughout the track include gentle chimes and wonderfully placed dynamic drum fills – the skittering beat, chopped samples of Yoojin's voice, loving chords that fill the last half a minute of the song – little moments where your heart swells with love for the care and attention that's been placed on making this sound as perfect as possible.

Swaying between brooding calm and floods of frenzied feeling, the track reflects in this sonic twoness the nervous trembling and out-of-body vibes that swirl in your body in anticipation of romance, the wild longing, and the unreal moments that fly timelessly afterwards; being on the edge and then tipping over; kinetic human emotion, physical unending passion.




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