Wednesday, 31 July 2013

JOLLY MARE NOBODY CARES

Here is some music all the way from Italy. It's by a person - DJ/producer - who goes by the name of Jolly Mare ("mare" is sea in Italian, so I am guessing that's what it's all about) but who is actually called Fabrizio Faberismi. They were a participant in the Red Bull Music Academy 2013 and played, from what I can gather, a more than acceptable opening set for duo Masters at Work at Le Bain, New York.

Apparently people left there as fans of this guy, and I'm sure I would have too. However, for all the fledgling hermits out there, music is all online, baby. So let's create some more fans today by spreading these wonderful sounds around, eh? This particular number is one of the latest from Jolly Mare and is called 'Nobody Cares'.

I thought I was just going to be posting the audio for this but I actually found the video quite easily, so I just went for it, I bloody went for it. It's below. And it fits in perfectly with the retro vibes of the song, playing scenes from what could be a straight-to-VHS film from the glitzy trashy 80s. Of people frolicking/living in/by the sea.

The funky beat in this tune, with its differing snares, is the foundation to the rest of the funk found within - from the twanging, forever-sunset guitars to the gloriously wibbling lead synths in the first half. Different instruments of varying syntheticness swim in between each other in a medley of fun: in the background, LED-light type synths scuttle around faintly in the background, glittering against the rich backdrop of chilled-out good times.

The true groove here, however, I think comes from the bassline. More synth, it's true, but this song seems to be BUILT on synth - Starship may have built their city on rock and roll, but Jolly Mare builds these structures of dreamy escapism wholly on synth. But yes the bassline - soaked in 1980s aesthetic and grilled on the barbecue of retro-future fantasy, it's not far off getting the hairs on the back of your neck standing on end. Just perfect.

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NINETOES FINDER

This is old this is old this is old. In terms of the internet anyway. A day-old song might as well be chucked in the bin for all some people care you get me. But when it was released it kind of had the oh-goodness-is-this-song-going-to-bring-the-sun-out vibe that everyone likes at the very start of summer, you know, when it's not quite summer yet. However, now that summer is actually in full swing it really fits and it's really nice.

It's a track called 'Finder' by a man called Ninetoes, from Stuttgart. Sometimes there are meanings behind names. Maybe he actually does have nine toes. Or maybe it's a mispronunciation of the Pokémon Ninetails. The song is a regular fever of calypso rhythms, percussion already frenzied by the time you push the play button. The claps sneak in, as do the deep subby kicks. There's a little taster of something to come, a looped sample of what sounds like some steel drums... and yes. It is. Your prayers are answered.

This wholly Caribbean sound is infectious. It has every bone in your body having a boogie. The melodic hook of the steel drums - which are technically labelled as steel pans from what I remember of steel pan lessons (yep, had em) but we'll leave that by the wayside - moves in an ear-pleasing wave from high to low pitch. But that's not all. More instruments pop in and the melody changes before the final third has the hi-hats clipping at the air like crazed dancers. Synchronised chopped up vocal samples begin to parade around like chanting mouths with dancing feet. You can see the party right in front of you.

And if it isn't a party, then it's just the soundtrack to a bustling holiday resort on a Caribbean island. It's a really great atmosphere, one held in place with images of palm trees and coconuts and cocktails and torches on the beach keeping everyone dancing until the sand wears their legs out and they have to lie down and look up at the unending stars. The expertise of Ninetoes in changing the groove of the song just when each particular part becomes second nature to your brain keeps everything fresh and exciting, like a free bar complete with a barman who can make every cocktail in the world.

I'm dreaming too much. But you understand now: this is a song for summer and summer is here. Celebrate! Um, oh, there's also the Finder EP with some remixes if you'd like to listen to that too (below). It's out on Kling Klong Records btw.


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HIROTO KUDO MAGIC RAINCOAT

Tour de force is quite strong, but actually I would say that it can apply to more than you'd imagine. I picture a tour de force as a kind of whirlwind. Is that fair to say? Well I've just said it so I'll stick to my guns. In any case, it's the word or phrase rather that I'd apply to Hiroto Kudo's lovely song 'Magic Raincoat'.

Who is Hiroto Kudo? Well he is a producer Sendai, Japan, and he makes really nice music sometimes under his own name, sometimes as Cajits (more of a techno side-project). It's very pretty stuff. As such it has been picked up by unique Japanese net label Tanukineiri, firstly in the form of one of HK's older song's 'Hear The Wind Sing' - the title of Haruki Murakami's first novel - and now in the form of 'Magic Raincoat'. What's more: this song actually does sound like what it may feel to wear a magic raincoat.

It's a glistening cascade of sounds, built up beautifully from nothing but the sound of rain falling outside to a genuinely lovely, almost comforting, sound. It's that delightful feeling you get from being completely prepared for rain - a magic raincoat, you could say - walking along in a heavy shower but not actually getting wet at all.

Fast kicks push the song along with glitch percussion fizzing and popping along the way - a cute beat. A piano plays soft, gentle chords, that perfect soundtrack to a rainy day, plinking and plonking gracefully to the drip-drops outside. I think there's even a bass in there that fades in and out almost like car tyres zooming on puddled roads. Synth beeps play frantic arpeggios as the beat receives additions from clipping hi-hats to urge it ever faster onward, and the piano chords are played ever quicker.

It's basically the feeling of being caught in the rain and wanting to get home quickly. But in a very cutesy way. There's a fun urgency in the atmosphere that all of these sounds create, whirling around, glitching together before the very abrupt finish. The door slams and you're home. Soaking. But you take off that magic raincoat and... all dry. Time to chill out and get warm (literal contradiction).

What a lovely song! I think it's the best rain-themed song I've ever heard.

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Tuesday, 30 July 2013

INSHAPE SUPER GOLFER [VIDEO]

Gotta keep the electro flag flying. And when I say electro, I mean like, well, the kind of electro that is dirty and buzzy and has 'Flat Beat' for its ancestor, in a way. Repetitive but glorious. Well as Hot Chip mentioned to us all, there is such thing as a "joy of repetition". Over and over and over and over. It kinda whips you up into a frenzy doesn't it?

And so I introduce the unrelenting beats of 'Super Golfer' by Parisian electronic duo InShape. They're made up of A.Abela and O.Boutinaud and this song that they have made really piqued my interest. Why? Because I hadn't heard anything like it in a while. Despite it being "derivative" or whatever you want to call it, it struck me as a fresh sound. Maybe they will be dancing the Tektonik in France again before we know it.

With a simple 4/4 house beat as the foundation, the two have created a genuine head-bopper of a track. I'm currently tapping my foot but that's neither here nor there. The beat, either way, is thick and reeks of attitude - there's no decoration here; it's nothing but a meaty metronome but it is the perfect fit for this situation. Yep, along with the fidgety hi-hats it's just the ticket.

This video as well is just... so silly. I love it.

With a menacing intro, there are nasty distorted synths in this song, giving it a very dirty sound. Bouncy bass synths back up from behind, providing support for the staccato sound. Brief washes of chorused synth come and go in waves. Towards the halfway point there's a REAL distorted synth that sounds something like a chainsaw being started - grindy and gravelly. At this point the funk of the song begins to appear, bringing the song to life even more than it already was.

There are little touches along the way that ensure that the song doesn't lose your attention - the sounds are twisted, added to, layered, switched around and blown up. With or without them, however, it's a pretty brash and brazen track and that is is exactly why I like it: InShape know that in 'Super Golfer' they have created a dirty electro track. And that is precisely what it is. If you dug this as much as I dug-digged it then you can purchase InShape's debut album Full Measures right away.

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Monday, 29 July 2013

FENBRED PYRAMIDS

Sometimes I don't understand all the spiel that goes with a song. There's so much convoluted information that spews forth alongside some new releases that I'm not sure how to condense it all down. Why not just keep things simple? Release a song and leave it up to people to say as they wish about it. Obviously there are the bare necessities to keep in mind, but sending out a massive press release is only going to feed lazy journalism more and more.

But ANYWAY. Whatever.

Let's talk about Fenbred. He is a producer and DJ from Brooklyn and he makes nice house music. An example of this is in his newish song 'Pyramids'. It is a "dancefloor" rendition of Frank Ocean's song of the same name, but whether it is or isn't doesn't really sway me one way or the other: it is a stand-alone, stand-up, perfectly good song-in-itself. It's an original, that's for sure.

With some lovely smooooth vocals from Detroit's Jay Alexzander, it becomes much more than a song to get people moving, something closer to an experience. Something to BE experienced.

Go ahead and experience it. Let it experience you.

What's clear from the beginning is that Fenbred knows how to set the mood - warm synths soar softly alongside thudding kicks and sandy hi-hats, giving it an instant richness, an impression of something to be savoured. The vocals are introduced as if you're approaching them from afar, looping wordless ahhs & ohhs providing that first glimpse and giving a soulful foundation to the rest of the vocals to come. Just enough echo drips off of these sultrily sung words.

The hi-hats get more agitated, shining out in tandem with the kicks. Tiny electronic beeps begin to peep out through the now bristling forest of chopped up vocals, layered and cyclical. It delivers innocuously, creeping up on you like the feeling of slowly becoming drunk and getting into the groove of a night out. Deep. And very nice to listen to.

This song was "officially" released last week. What else will come from Mr Fenbred? More I hope. He actually also did a lovely rendition of Fleetwood Mac's 'Dreams', which you should listen to.

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Y E A R S 彼女は私の夢の少女です [SHE IS THE GIRL OF MY DREAMS]

What I've written in the title as Y E A R S perhaps should be properly realised as it appears: // Y E Λ R S // - but from here on in I'm gonna be saying Y E A R S or maybe even YEARS. So if that's ok with you, I'll continue now.

*Sigh* yep I just sighed IRL. So YEARS appeared kinda out of nowhere, I think someone posted one of their songs as a "new favourite" on Twitter. So I just blindly followed the link - as I do - and came out at the other end have a good nose around YEARS's's's SoundCloud. And how happy I was with it.

Where does YEARS fit in? With a new and boundary-pushing sectarian kind of genre of music I suppose you would call "vaporwave" - I've seen the term bandied around a lot with this kind of music and I suppose it fits. I guess the "-wave" bit comes from "new wave" and the "vapor-" bit comes from the fact that it's very chilled, a more-than-fluid sound that indeed seems to float into the ether and back down again into our awaiting ears as vapor. But I'm BRITISH so I'd say VAPOUR. Vapourwave.

The track in question is the newest in this Japanese (I can only assume but I'm 60% sure I'm wrong) producer's repertoire, called '彼女は私の夢の少女です' or 'She Is The Girl Of My Dreams' - let us listen.

It's a really easy-on-the-ears listen, something that just seems to melt every angsty feeling you may have into a nectar of nothingness. Sitting somewhere between lounge music, slow jams, pop and muzak, it is just teeming with dreamy sounds - harps tinkling, cute little synths, clopping woodblocks, fizzing hi-hats. The beat is wonderful, laid-back and lightly moody, a hint of clap like a leaflet falling on a puddle. Bass bulges smoothly like giant bubbles coming up from a silvery sea.

It's like another world. And who doesn't like being evaporated for a couple of minutes (or not quite that long), even if we are only to be condensed on the cold glass of reality. Sweet stuff.

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Sunday, 28 July 2013

METOME TAKE THIS LOVE

I wrote about this fantastic Japanese producer Metome last month, when I stumbled across his brilliant song 'Water Cycle' - a whirlwind of artfully whizzing vocal samples that was like eating a whole bag of Tangfastics but without the feeling of guilt/fullness that comes after that physical ingestion: tangy stuff.

So it is with pleasure that I wholeheartedly welcome his latest track, 'Take This Love'. Even though the song's title is imperatively commanding, it is only Metome who is doing the commanding - yeah that's right. And he again commands vocal samples as if they are so many Pikmin, just as colourful and helpful to the general vibe of the song that, without them, it would feel a little washed out. But that isn't to say that the rest of the music isn't fab - it just wouldn't FEEL like Metome without that sampling prowess.

This also is quite exciting because I do believe it comes as the first release from an upcoming EP that Metome is working on. And that just means more exquisite music. But for now let us all have a nice little listen to this track eh.

It is completely lush. Glitchy beats gently saunter around, like a small rowboat on a huge sea of sub-bass writhing slowly beneath it. Electric piano warms the heart. The vocal sample - "Take this love..." - comes and goes, toyed with and pushed up and down octaves, sped up and super-slowed down. A saxophone sample gives this the ultimate lounge music vibe. More wordless vocal samples fall like droplets of the feelings of a romance you'll never forget.

And we are privileged to navigate it via Metome's ingenious dynamism, which flows organically like currents. He takes the right breaks in the right places, leaving it sparse where it needs to be, and showering it with breaths of feeling in other places. A genreless slice of dreamworld. This producer is a fantastic addition to the world of music and if you don't like it, even a little bit, then you are mad.

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MARUKAO丸颜先生 SOFA DREAM // HELLO FUNK

Here and now I am very happy to present to you some more well-chosen sounds from the young Chinese label, Groove Bunny Records - these are the same guys that bought us MADPETE's Cantonese Boom Bap, nicely minimal and retro hip hop with raps in Cantonese. How pleasant were those sounds.

Anyway yeah, some more sounds found by Groove Bunny come from Chinese producer Marukao - I am not sure what the characters mean though. If you translate them from the Chinese you get "Pills Mr. Yen" so I don't even know what to say, let's just stick with Marukao. In any case, the songs that have been found and reissued, I guess, are not "new" in the proper sense of the word. You know I'm always going on about when is a new song a new song and blah blah blah, well, both of these are like four years old. So there's old for you. But they're new. No one's probably ever heard them, not least anyone reading this anyway.

First up we have 'Sofa Dream' - it's a chilled number that was made in 2009 sounds as though it could have been made yesterday. It truly is a slow jam sofa dream. Somnolent strings drift in and out like your consciousness in a state of dozement laying on a sofa on a Sunday afternoon as tremolo synths provide that delicate wobble between dreaming and reality. Virtuoso warm solo synth sounds play over the top like dappled sunshine, giving it a good lounge vibe.

The beat is skiffling and plays to catch up with itself at times, adding delicious fills that provide the energy in this otherwise sleep-inducing atmosphere. It's laid-back with a glitchy edge.

On the other hand, we have the older (2008) stylings of 'Hello Funk'. As you might be able to gather from the title, it's pretty funky. Modulating bass synths provide a foundation that verges on cheeky in its sound, one that's certainly sidestepping towards the dancefloor rather than the sofa.

This particular vibe is helped along by cartoony lead synth noises, like an altered synth-vox, which it some fun alongside the bouncy beat. The latter is in itself quite 80s and it's when I noticed that distinct snare strike that the rest of the song began to sound of-that-time, too. It certainly is funky though. The organs towards the end really give it a drop of condensed funk, each whistling note making your mind melt a little bit - in a good way.

Now, if this is what was happening all those years ago - what will be happening now I wonder?

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MUSIC WEEK #15/16

Can't believe this happened again. Not only is it two MUSIC WEEKs combined in one post, but it is also late. I got excuses no one really has time for excuses so let's GO. I promise to do this every Friday from now on. Why? Because Friday is the end the the week. Friday is the icing on the cake. Friday's where I round it all up yo.

I have also not posted a lot recently due to things "in real life" happening and occurring all at the same time. Let's all get over it and enjoy what music I gravitated towards these past two weeks.


MADPETE 省广奇兵 - CANTONESE BOOM BAP
Retro hip hop in Cantonese with real simple charm

2MORROWS VICTORY - VOIR (JUSTUS)
Dream-skate-hip-hop - it exists

EARTHQUAKE ISLAND - THE CASE OF GALASTROPHY
Sample-based chill in this wonderful album

CORY JREAMZ - HOWL
The incomparable up-and-coming rapper delivers more indefinable alternative rap

VULKANO - VISION TRICKS
Bassy dark indie pop from Sweden

YO'TRUE - WILD RICE
Ex-Tellison member pleasantly surprises with this sugary-sweet throwback pop

FOREST SWORDS - THE WEIGHT OF GOLD
Ancient English esoteric rites in music form

HARRISON - LOLIPOP LOVE
80s rework = future funk

ALMA ELSTE - VIRTUALISM
Sultry-voiced Parisienne emotively croons over synths

X PRIEST X - SAMURAI
Cuttingly stylish 80s-esque pop from Florida

ANAMANAGUCHI - ENDLESS FANTASY
Chiptune epic that actually sounds like an endless fantasy

SUPERFOOD - TV
Fabulously mundane lyrics and slapdash indie rock a bit like an English Weezer

RROXYMORE - FLTNORDF
A beautifully constructed techno odyssey


That's that. There really has been a lot going on that I haven't covered, this is probably like 20% of everything I had meant to write about but didn't for some reason or another. Either way, I find my 1st favourite in MADPETE's Cantonese hip hop - just really does it for me, y'know? My 2nd favourite is Forest Swords, just love that frantic sound. And my 3rd favourite would be... let's say HARRISON, because I can't help but be sucked into that funky funk groove.

Next Friday. Promise. A nice little round up. Oh and by the way, the image this week comes from whatevenamdrawing - check his funny-funny drawings out at whatevenamdrawing.tumblr.com.

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Saturday, 27 July 2013

RROXYMORE FLTNORDF [FREE DOWNLOAD]

Yes, I am similarly confused. What exactly is 'FltNordf'? Well, for starters it's a song by rRoxymore - aka Hermione Frank. I don't know where she is from, I'm afraid. I read that she started making music in Montpellier, but then I also read that she is from Berlin. Third culture kid, perhaps. But the true mystery is this song title. What even–?

Not to worry because whilst mysteries puzzle me, and a lot of people, I am not concerned with mysteries I am concerned with music. So we can all breathe a sigh of relief and get back to our frozen pizzas or whatever. Pheee-eww! Whew. So this is music. It's kind of techno house kind of stuff kinda. Maybe it's house techno. Either way: it's different.

Yup. It's a busy collection of sounds, all industriously creeping into your ears with each other. Some fly, some crawl, some are emailed there, some get thrown haphazardly: it's a mix. What is certain about this track is that it is an odyssey of sound, like witnessing a waterfall of various treasures pouring into a cave lit with glow-in-the-dark spores or incandescent mushrooms or something. It's a genuine adventure, a journey - being 8 minutes long obviously helps, but you can get longer songs that don't have half as much variation as this one.

For instance, at 2 minutes it goes through a transformation, falling back on a warm bass synth to carry it onwards to a break at the 3:30 mark, where these wonderful glitchy synths hop up and down the octaves - as these parts frolic on their own you realise it's a point of introduction, and at the halfway point the beat and bass comes in again. The true industry of the beat is highlighted when it's given the spotlight towards the end, allowing the exhaling claps to show themselves, as well as the hammering snares which seem to be a theme throughout, knife-sharpening hi-hats playing a big part too. An interesting beat is always appreciated.

I got lost in this one. It's got guts and boy are they labyrinthine, rolling and rollicking, encouraging you to take a stroll through its flashing tunnels and experience the temporal disturbance that seems to be at the very heart of this track. 8 minutes or no 8 minutes, allowing it to seep into your ears gives you the impression of no time at all. Time to dance, more like.

This comes as the first release from rRoxymore's upcoming Precarious/Precious EP, out 19th August on Human Level Recordings.

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SUPERFOOD TV (DEMO)

Really really happy that this song appeared, and I'm really happy that it's good. I'm not so happy that it took me so long to get round to seeing it - oh well. C'est la vie and all that innit.

So anyway this is Superfood, a band from Birmingham (England, UK - not Alabama), and their song 'TV'. It's apparently a demo, but it sounds more than good enough for human consumption. I didn't think demos were supposed to be so nice. But it's ok. It's good. I reckon they could just release this the way it is: sounds great.

What kind of music is this? It's punky-ish indie soft rock... kind of. I wrote about their other song (there's only two, yo) a few months ago - it's called 'Superfood' and it's about getting hungry I guess. There's a similarly humdrum heart in this new song (2 months old but whatevs), namely being concerned with the inability to sleep without the TV on. I remember when I was younger I slept with the TV on like every night. Boom. Instant connection with the song. Plays to the simplicities of life. I like that. Who wouldn't?

Let's listen to it shall we? Can we?

There's a really nice lazy and laid-back feel to this tune, perhaps it's in the slow head-bob that the tempo seems to inspire, or maybe it's in the slapdash guitar stabs in the verse, the aching scratches of the guitar solo. Maybe it's in the lyrics, celebrating the magical mundanity of how the TV can affect your sleeping... stuff, for instance, "How am I to ever dream without the TV on?" and the ever-so-normal, "Who turned off the TV? It wasn't you, it wasn't me". The vocals affect no true 'singing voice' or accent, sticking instead with a half-spoken, half-yelled, half-sung - wait three halves? - vibe that seems to come forth organically.

I said it about the sound of their song 'Superfood', but they have a Weezer-esque quality about them. Which is a really nice thing because Weezer are great. I dunno why - similar sound, perhaps. Distorted guitars, nothing too fast, lazy vibes, irreverant atmosphere - 'TV' even starts and finishes with recordings of television and twinkling guitar twangs, kinda like the start/end of Weezer's own 'Undone – The Sweater Song'. Or maybe it's just me. But that's how I find it, aurally, so that's how I'm saying it, typingly. Someone said something about these guys catching the "butt-end of brit pop" but I don't like brit pop so I won't even.

Is there a release coming up? I don't know. Best just keep checking!

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Friday, 26 July 2013

ANAMANAGUCHI ENDLESS FANTASY [FREE DOWNLOAD]

I don't know what Anamanaguchi means, but whatever it means (if it means anything) it certainly suits the style of music they make all the same. What style is that? It's like so nice. It is wholly chiptune - I'd say 8-bit, like many people do, but it ain't because it's more 16-bit and it doesn't have the same ring as 8-bit. So let's just leave it as chiptune.

What am I basing this off? I am basing this off a couple of months ago when I first heard them and was umming-and-ahhing about covering them, and also I am basing this off this particular song, 'Endless Fantasy'. It is the title track from their new album, the funds for which was raised by a frenzied fanbase overdonating to their kickstarter project.

But all the same let's not get caught up in details. It can sometimes be like untangling several pairs of headphones all at once, so let's leave it out and get to the music eh? 'Endless Fantasy' is basically an already-hit, sounding like the end-credits theme to your favourite anime, or the soundtrack to the greatest level of Sonic The Hedgehog that there ever could be. It's a rather incredible show of recycled videogame noises, tweaked and pushed into a real galloper of a track. (You can download it for FREEEEE).

What's more, it's filled with the same artful dynamism of your favourite dance music. Whilst high hollow whistles speed by to a pummelsome beat in some places, dragging you along for the ride, at other times you're exposed to the meaty distorted bass beneath the glistening shell of blips and bleeps (like at around the 1:00 mark). Indeed, around halfway through there's a great breakdown: only saw-wave chords, increasingly modulating, keep time before a great drop at 3 minutes where the chords beef up.

Crunching electric guitar joins the show, as do more sparkling drops of sound - all of it helping to create a wide atmosphere. Boundless. Yes that's it. Expansive. Forever horizons. The melody is nicely emotive and strikes a balance between nostalgia and anticipation; leaving home for an endless fantasy. There, I said it. This song literally sounds like an endless fantasy. It's gorgeous, and especially gorgeous if you are into videogame-type music anyway.

This comes as the second single from the album Endless Fantasy by the Brooklyn foursome.

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X PRIEST X SAMURAI

Meant to post this a few days but life gets in the way doesn't it. Stuff happens that you kinda can't avoid. Best to accept it than get too frustrated. In any case, that's enough of that.

These are the dulcet dark pop tones of Florida trio X Priest X with the cryptically titled 'Samurai'. Made up of Madeline Priest (vocals), and producers Chandler Strang and David Kazyk, X Priest X embrace wholly a vision of stylised 80s synthpop in this dankly pretty song. It's pristine with a dull tinge that reeks of sunsets come too soon and long walks home - emotional, but with just enough dance sensibility to prop it up, like someone sad still determined to spend a night boogying on the dancefloor.

But that doesn't mean it's the kind of song that's gonna make you cry uncontrollably for no reason. It just has a sad air about it. Perhaps it's the airy drone of the synths, ones that seem to fly like whispy clouds through the rest of the song's sounds - ambiently emotive. The melody too has a tinge of longing to it, both in that of the vocals and the bouncy bass synth.

Not too heavy. And definitely some style in there - the kind of thing that goes hand in hand with a film like Drive; it has that cold-cut aesthetic, that 80s pop spirit that injects groove wherever it steps, that dead-cool vibe of endless nights and neon-lit palm trees. The vocals are clear, lucid, playing host to only a slight echo - in a similar vein, the drums are gloriously understated with especially perfectly placed golden-touch hi-hats.

It's the stuff that escapist dreams are made of. Luckily for those who often have those dreams, or like to listen to music like this that conjures those feelings, X Priest X are currently working on an EP - their debut, in fact.

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Monday, 22 July 2013

ALMA ELSTE VIRTUALISM

It's always nice when someone comes back to you after you've written something nice about them. So I was really happy when Alma Elste kindly sent us over her brand new song, 'Virtualism'. A couple of months ago I'd written about a song of hers called 'Julian', an bass-assaulted drawling acoustic song - very pretty indeed. The strange thing was that barely no one had listened to the song, despite it being something that the world-at-large would have gladly enjoyed. I don't really like to make comparisons, but at a time when Lana Del Rey is like, well popular, the heartache and lone-lovers vibe of Parisienne Alma Elste is bound to appeal.

'Virtualism' however is not an acoustic number: it's electro. From the start it brims with wide, warm electro - it's a comforting sound, something that's familiar on the ears, so easy to fall back into like a very well-designed armchair. Thudding kicks and muffled snares hide behind this buzzing wall of noise, later joined by circuit-board arpeggios and whooping soft synth solos.

The most entrancing thing about this song, however, is Alma Elste's voice itself. It is husky and laid-back, a caramel croon that's charming in the slight vibrato at the end of each line and beautiful in the effortless almost whispered glide between notes. Could just listen to her sing all day without the music, to be honest. A close second to this are her endearingly mundane yet cryptic lyrics - this is a lovesong, but one that speaks in stark poetry instead of sloppy balladry:

I'm in your car
We run red lights
I don't give a damn about here
drinkin forties, playin GTA
I stole some baseball cards
the end's behind
give up timeline
we can always sleep tomorrow
We'll last until sunrise
We'll make it
I like your Corvette
I could almost see myself with you

Her references are indeed images of "virtualism" - the world of Grand Theft Auto spilling over into reality with the petty theft of baseball cards, the traffic offences, making you wonder what else they did together. But of course the highest sense of "virtualism" in the song is the almost tragic last line, "I could almost see myself with you" - even the subject of the song, whoever it may be, is not a true reality yet. And it's quite nice that these are touched with that synthpop vibe (co-created by Willy Duft) because it gives a dreamy appeal, something not real, a little bit videogame if you get me. Escapism. A summer romance that never was nor will be.

Anyway, that was that. She's got a lovely voice and she's working on releasing an EP at the start of 2014. What's not to like?

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Saturday, 20 July 2013

HΛRRISON LOLIPOP LOVE

Loving this sound at the moment. It's turning old into new. You know the story by now. Some artists I've talked about who are doing this KINDA thing include Wasted Nights and Saint Pepsi, just to name a couple. It's a style that's spreading across the internet, which is or at least must be in many people's eyes the future platform of music. But that's beside the point.

The point is, it's using old shiz to make new tracks. I guess it's like fishing. Fishing has been going on for thousands of years, and the fish stay the same the whole time. But what's different is the cooking method - the dish. People are always pushing the boundaries when it comes to haute cuisine, or indeed haute musique. Just music in general.

After that convoluted message I suppose it's time to introduce the cause of my gibberish: HΛRRISON (but for the purposes of convenience let's say HARRISON). He's a young, up-and-coming artist from Toronto, Canada. He makes music that drips 80s vibes like a lush freshly watered houseplant drips water. It's the prevailing sound. Sensual, groovesome, phresh. You know what I mean.

So let's d-d-dive right into HARRISON's catalogue - actually I'll leave that to you; I'm just gonna slice off the freshest piece and dip it in some sauce and grill it. Which is 'Lolipop Love' - a reworking, a cover I guess kinda, of an obscure song of the same name from 1984 by obscure artist Bryan Loren (shrug).

HARRISON turns the pastel coloured drum machine synth-fest of the original into a much meatier listen. It's as if everything's been reinforced, from the now well-rounded reverb of the beat to the low rumble of the bass. The funk is undeniable, creeping under your skin in an instant. The heart and soul of the 80s original is most definitely kept, transplanted into a bigger, better vessel, like some kind of android, who is sleeker and stronger than the old body. Now, that's quite a talent, don't you think?

There's a powerful grip to this song, one that you can't help but yield to and be carried off by. To where? Somewhere nonexistent where everyone is power-dressing and swishing their perms around. Yet people have smartphones and stuff. It's the middle of the Venn diagram where past and present (future?) meet and party forever and ever. Positively swimming in good, summery vibrations. Oh and he has a KEATS//COLLECTIVE (same label as Wasted Nights) release coming out soon. Who knows when?

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Friday, 19 July 2013

FOREST SWORDS THE WEIGHT OF GOLD

Over a month ago we heard the fabuloso 'Thor's Stone' by the rather esoteric Forest Swords, a song beset by wild bamboo flutes with more than a little what's-in-the-woods-? mystique about it. Today we have more delights from this experimental British artist, whose music conjures foggy marshlands or murky forests where clusters of ghost lights float panicked ahead of something truly strange and unknown in the unseen depths of nature, in the very trees themselves, in the water, in the air. The grass is cold and wet. The paths are muddy. Britain is an ancient forest swimming in bogs. Huge angry clouds crouch over the land forever.

That's the kind of vibe you get from past songs and also their latest tracks - and the delight I was speaking of today, 'The Weight Of Gold' plays up to the heaviness implied by its title. And it certainly doesn't skimp on the brutal mysticism that seems to emanate from this sound like curling smoke. It's there all the time, hanging in the air. Hear fo yoself.

The song announces itself as an existence in and of itself with distorted horns, the atmosphere conjured with plucked overdriven stringed-something-or-other and scuttling percussion that is both huge and raw. It pounds away, clacking woodblocks against dull-yet-explosive taiko-sounding drums. Sub-bass creeps in from somewhere, giving a nonchalant groove to a wholly non-nonchalant sound. Beginning at the final third of the song, the high-pitched strings play a cyclical melody, summoning the final push that seems to burst forth from the very earth itself, scraping and distorted completely unintelligible/inhuman vocals that reverb and echo as if travelling through twisted jagged caves to get to your ears.

That beat. Wow. It kills your ears but it's kinda gloriously satisfying, that thud of a drum booming, sounding closer to your heart than something more electro-based. It's a tatty kind of sound, rough-around-the-edges, like the kind of paper you'd stain with tea, crumple up, rub with dirt and burn holes in when you were younger to make a treasure map. It's faux-mystic, of course, cause you can't very well record true sounds of unearthly things, but you can whisk your imagination away to a landscape that shudders heavy with meaning and magic.

This is the second song to come from Forest Swords' upcoming DEBUT ALBUM Engravings out 26th August on Tri Angle records.

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YO'TRUE WILD RICE

I was very worried about even featuring this music. It is because, personally, Tellison do not excite me very much, if at all (sorry). However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that this ex-member of Tellison, Yeovil-native London-based Ben J. Wood - now obviously going by the name of Yo'True - has made some very nice music. Yes, this is his debut album, the enigmatically titled Wild Rice. The image you see here is a drawing done by Mr Wood himself - he apparently has a variegated collection of Sharpies that he regularly makes nice art with. The album itself is musically short and sweet; it is for the most part a quite delightful selection of sounds that embrace pop of the sugary variety.

The beginning of it all, 'The Wildlife', sets the scene with an electric piano against a swathe of tinkling bells and light percussion - a retro electropop kinda sound. Atmospheric and nocturnal sounding. When the vocals come in they certainly retain an indie-guitar-band kind of style; they're at their strongest when they're layered in rich sounding harmonies. This definitely has a wildlife feel about it, the song even sounds like a 'diet' version of Toto's 'Africa' in places. The retro guitar breakdown towards the end shows another type of pop - it's not all electropop.

I discovered that this much was the case with 'Bedford'. Honestly, it feels very out of place. The gallumphing '108' has the rhythm of a Black Lace song and I'm also not sure about this one. It's not because they're "guitary", it's because they're not exciting. Soz. I feel that Yo'True is at his strongest when lending his vocal acrobatics to multi-layered, quirky pop backdrops - as in second track 'The Dough'. This is more like it. The chords of the electric piano in this give it a great ambient atmosphere at the start, but when it kicks in for real there's this wholly danceable groove created by an infectious beat and the glossy virtuoso bass, punctuated with bright synth chords. Catchy vocals too. You can stream that below! Enjoy it!

Thick vocal harmonies also play a major part in the half-skiffling, half-chilled-and-quiet 'Achiever' - where the breathy synths in the faster second half of the song sound like a level from Sonic - as well as final track 'Pilot Light', which powers ahead laden with endless waves of synth chords. But it's not just in speedy songs where this album has its strengths - it's also in the relatively slow, like the first half of 'Achiever' and also 'Time Trials'. The deep R&B groove of the latter is in its laid-back bass and almost sparse beat, making use of the empty spaces between sounds to create an epic sound. Here also, that characteristic thickly sandwiched vocal style jumps out at you, decorated with falsetto adlibs.

Aside from those two tracks I mentioned as not fitting the grand scheme of this album, it's a really nice listen. It is retro pop with a unique touch, playful, quirky and rather infectious in places - a foray into a world of alternative pop. 'The Dough' is, for me, the standout track, it just buzzes through you (in a good way) and just itches to be liked. But anyway, if you like the sound of this, Wild Rice is out 5th August on Rogues Records.

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Wednesday, 17 July 2013

VULKANO VISION TRICKS [VIDEO]

Things don't always have to bright and sunny. Certainly not. Because they're not always bright and sunny; day gives way to night. It's normal yo. So a little bit of dark is alright sometimes. And in terms of sound too. If bright soundscapes give you images of melting endless summer days, dark ones evoke more shadowy or sometimes nocturnal scenery. Obviously.

As such, as the sun sets on another broiling hot day in South East England, the soundtrack for this still and twilit evening comes from Stockholm duo Vulkano. Comprised of Lisa Pyk-Wirström (keyboards/other things) and Cissi Efraimsson (drums/vocals), Vulkano's sounds in their song 'Vision Tricks' perfectly suit this time of day, when things can seem to appear from nowhere and glimmer in front of your eyes.

It's got the same darkly appealing atmosphere as The Cure's 'A Forest', but of course this is its own thing. It oozes an uncomfortable dark feeling without reverting to a wholly lo-fi sound as some who saunter down this route do, instead boasting an polished yet earthy pulse.

Listen to it via this video.

What you first notice is that bass. It sure is meaty. Gives just enough thickness of sound whilst picking out a melody, so heavy sounding that it could have been played on telephone wire for all I know. The melody harbours a grim edge and gives an impression of something foreboding, Nice nice nice. Its partner is a set of raw drums, who keep a steady beat throughout; snare rich and rattling, dull thuds for kicks. Later they roll and rollick in the choruses, provide a riotous clash of cymbals for the break. A strong foundation.

Cissi's vocals are yelping and affected, seeming to actually come as a warning - she even sings imploringly "I know it's out there..." (is it BOB?) There's something chilling about them, perhaps in the way that they echo starkly against the empty space in the song that's left over. Luminescent keyboard sounds that wail quietly all around appearing like kitsunebi (ghost lights), disconcerting fairy-lights. Altogether it's quite an enveloping sound.

It's actually their first ever ever single (from what I have yet to find out) and it's out officially on 29th July.

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CORY JREAMZ HOWL [VIDEO]

It's been a while since we've heard from Cory Jreamz - for those who don't know, this young guy is an up-and-coming rapper from Houston, Texas. You could call it alternative rap, but it's quite difficult to compare Mr Jreamz to anybody in particular: he is his own creation. Which is a very good thing.

Last time the world heard from him it was at the end of last year with his Vague Current Vivid Fated EP, four songs that run through the fantasies and frustrations of youth. I wrote about it - check it out.

Now he's back with a new song: 'Howl'. Alongside sharing its name with Allen Ginsberg's iconic and "obscene" poem - a frantic and wordy shout to the world - Cory Jreamz has peppered it with lyrics that reference other art-world-related things, such as trying to be "better than Ernest Hemingway" and putting a "black man in the MoMa". It overflows with the desire to create art, dismissing those who dismiss this desire as a pipe dream with a suggestion: "stick it up your anus".

You can even see this intense attitude in the video; Jreamz directs his diatribal one-liners at the camera, keen and fervid.

Aside from CJ's voice itself, whose words strike and reverberate poignantly, the music itself is biting and affective. Experimental at heart, a barely decipherable beat hides itself behind these fluidly rippling sounds, a watery, dreamlike feel to them. An occasional bassline almost gets the hairs on the back of your neck standing on end. An eastern-like twanging of a stringed instrument boils in the background, a cycle of sharp sounds to go with the growl of the vocals. It's a heavy atmosphere.

It's a nicely unique sound, one that's genuinely a sonic howl into the air, a short statement of intent to the world - and I'm glad it's coming from someone like Cory Jreamz, a thoughtful and thinking guy standing on the fringes of rap and hip hop looking to external influences for inspiration, expanding his mind. We'll be hearing his next single, 'Swim' on 1st August, after which we'll be looking forward to his album The Lonely Painter, expected later this year.

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Sunday, 14 July 2013

EARTHQUAKE ISLAND THE CASE OF GALASTROPHY

Oh deary me. I was supposed to write about this a while back, but things kept coming in and piling up and whatever. The travesties of the cluttered life are many and embarrassing. If I were a total professional, I'd leave this part out. But I'm a real person. Send me an email and I'll whizz back the most professional reply this side of the finance industry. But since I'm writing and it's fun to do, I'll just be a real person thanks. Cheers! Ok!

I wrote about Italian-in-Tokyo Earthquake Island last month, specifically his song 'The lake and the mist'. This song's smart percussion and ambient sounds drove it into a whole region of chillment - very nice indeed. It comes from the album, released at the end of last month, The case of Galastrophy. I was very interested to hear what this sounded like (but yeah it slipped my mind like I said).

And thankfully, listening to it now, it certainly delivers. Based on my own expectations in any case, it's exactly what I thought it would be - not that it is predictable. For instance, first track 'Sunrise on', whose breathy synths act like veils for ghost-recording samples, gives the beat pride of place, filling it with a jingling like loose change in pockets, well-placed banks of snares and crispy claps. It's this attention to detail in the beat that becomes a defining character of the album. It's just as well constructed in the slow fluid tide of 'My moon, my moon' - a space-jump from the dusty surface of a lunar landscape to look down upon the deathly still surface - and in 'The lake and the mist'.

But sometimes the beat isn't so much of an experimental toying with percussive sounds - it can be minimalistic, as in the the simple kicks 'n' snare of gently chilled 'Flying cat 2' and the delectable claps in 'Bedding and wheels', whose sampling is in contrast quite hectic, providing a wilderness for the track. Earthquake Island, real name Emiliano Ruggiero, also puts a traditional groove on a couple of tracks - namely that of hip hop: 'Fantastic' is as its adjectival namesake describes, intergalactic sounds moan and bubble and stretch far-off behind the swaggering beat, whistles of a space mechanic at work on a ship, the lone vocal sample of "Fantastic" beautifully interrupts the song at intervals - other instrumental samples jostle for space. Easily my favourite on the album.

In a similar vein 'Super strawberry' waxes hip hop, a head-boppin' beat stuck with tight snares and rain-stick-sandstone-crumbling claps. Samples interlace: a girl giggling (or crying?), snippets of something sung, glistening xylophonic sounds. 'Galastrophy' both continues and ends the chilled vibe that lies at the heart of this album. Its slowdown beat holds up a whole host of noises, a whole cacophony of them like Snapchats from another galaxy. A spoken word sample speaks of life on other planets, and it kinda cements what I was thinking all along: Earthquake Island is a producer lost in imagination, looking up at the sky - and everywhere else around him - for inspiration. His dreamy sounds, which seem tailor-made for the purpose of losing yourself therein, are clear evidence of this.

This comes from the Italo-Swedish (or Swedo-Italian) label, Fresh Yo! Records.

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Saturday, 13 July 2013

2MORROWS VICTORY VOIR (JUSTUS)

Talk about a knock-on effect... from Gang Colours' mix, to Tropics' edit, to the guys themselves: yes, this is 2morrows Victory with a new (2 months-old) song called 'Voir (JustUs)'. When you go exploring, sometimes you really do find some lovely stuff. And this is precisely one of those sometimes. I had never heard of these guys before a couple of days ago, but as far as I can gather they're from London and they look - and most importantly SOUND - set for big things.

This song comes as a single from an upcoming "project" (an album or an EP, who knows) simply called SEVEN. Perhaps it will include 7 songs. Or be a concept album about the number 7. Any which way you look at it, and especially judging from the stuff I've heard before (including this live rendition of the beautiful 'Lift Off'), it will probably be a very fine-sounding record. Fine as in fiiiiiiiine - not as in "I'm fine thanks".

The song begins as a journey into another dimension, one where the breezes of the world become languid synths that seem to stretch off into infinity, where the earth is a quaking thick jelly of distorted saw-waves at the very deep end of the bass spectrum. Kicks punctuate this world like gentle stepping stones. Later on, snares crack-snap like supernovae.

It's a youthful collage of sounds that, as much as they seem to be ploughing ahead into the future, seems to hold dear to its heart the laid-back and somewhat retro tenets of skate music - it's a broad genre, not even a genre actually and more of a feeling that I get. But it has that long-days, sociable yet esoteric subculture vibe to it. If you know what I mean, you know what I mean. If you don't, then I'm sorry that I couldn't get my point across.

The spacey journey continues and before you know it, 2morrows Victory are treating you to 90s slow-jam like sounds, soulful vocals that seem to stroke your ears. This soon gives way to a slow and fluid rap before the final quarter melts into a wide sound incorporating everything that'd come before. A future sound that can't well be ignored. So naturally I'm looking forward to this new project - whenever it may come our way.

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Friday, 12 July 2013

MADPETE 省广奇兵 CANTONESE BOOM BAP

I go on like all the time about not understanding the lyrics of stuff. It's not the worst thing in the world to not understand what someone is saying in a song. Often, the way they're saying it is just as important - you tell skill from that much, I think. This is probably a dubious stance when it comes to rap, because it's basically all words (lol), but I stand by it. I just think all music, if you like it, deserves to be listened to, regardless of whether you understand it. I can GET a song, even if I can't UNDERSTAND it, if you GET what I mean (GET it?).

Anyway, my most recent thing that I can't understand is a sick new album from a couple of Chinese guys who together go by the name of Madepete. That's their conjoined-twin name. Otherwise, they're known as Petechan, producer extraordinaire, and Madprole, rapper extraordinaire. Whilst you can't listen to the whole album, called Cantonese Boom Bap (released on a new label in China Groove Bunny Records), you can definitely get a very good idea of how it sounds.

And my oh my does it sound good. Like seriously. It IS boom bap. These three songs do indeed show off the talents off both members of Madpete quite nicely. Beginning with 'Paper Plane', it smacks you right in the face - well perhaps it's not the right expression. It strokes your face, very gently, mainly with a sun-kissed guitar riff sampled and expertly looped throughout the song. Madprole's vocals swagger along almost egged on by the skipping beat, turning rich when they're doubled up in the bouncy chorus. I can't help but drift away to that dreamy guitar. Ah...

Samples play a big part in this retro hip hop sound, same goes for next song on the album 'Since We First Met', which glistens with the same languid attitude as 'Paper Planes'. Madprole has a real lazy style flow that is impossible not to fall in love with, despite not understanding a word of his Cantonese rhymes. Electronic blips bejewel the song for a little decoration, too. Perfect for stretching out in the sun.

And then we have 'Ghost Walk'.

Wow the bass. The bassline that Petechan here has conjured up is utterly groovesome, as strong and lasting as something set in stone. It reeks of attitude, becoming the heavy-slabbed pavement that Madprole's rap swaggers over. Again there's sampling, but here it's less pronounced, giving centre-stage to the beat, bass and baritone of the vocals.

It has almost a film noir pastiche air about it, something totally streetwise yet without taking itself too seriously. I don't know if that's what they were going for, but it's definitely the atmosphere that it gives off. Nothing wrong with that. I actually love it. It's like sailing through an old-school landscape in a 1970s style Mercedes or something.

Madpete's brand of hip hop is slow, simplistic and filled with groove - the offbeat rhythms with which their music saunters along are wholly catching. If you don't find yourself bopping your head then... well, I don't know. I can't judge. It's certainly a strong sound, with not even a sniff of overproduction in sight: everything is just so. And just as well. Because any tweaking would take away the really charming heart of these songs - even if you can't understand the lyrics.

This is their first album with Groove Bunny. I'd keep an eye on both these guys and the label - I'm sure there are exciting things to come. Also, if you want to hear more of Cantonese Boom Bap, check this album snippet.

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MUSIC WEEK #14

Firstly, I've just discovered that there is an actual music publication called "Music Week" - this weekly round-up of what music I've written about is in no way derivative of that. It was actually inspired by a game called Bird Week - I thought the name was silly and so MUSIC WEEK (just as silly in my opinion) was born. So that's that.

The image this week has been drawn by my brother. I do hope you like it. You can see more of his drawdlings over at whatevenamdrawing.tumblr.com. Here is the music from the past week.


MR OIZO - AMICALEMENT EP
Free-to-download crispy electro from Oizo himself

THESE NEW PURITANS - AND IT'S RISEN
Ornately orchestral and beat-led murk

SPAZZKID - DESIRE (願う) REMIXES
A motley crew of producers remix Spazzkid's ace album

PARA ONE - YOU TOO
Classic house anthem sound

TOURIST - PEAKS
Garage-themed pretty electronica

NEON BUNNY (야광토끼) - OH MY PRINCE (왕자님)
Indie dance pop from Korea

VIRTUAL FLANNEL - NEON WAVES
Hip hop with glitch and ambience

SONIC DEADHORSE FT ARISTOPHANES 貍貓 - THE ARRESTED
Crazy intense beats & rap from Taiwan

DEWY SINATRA - I NEED LOVE
Fresh talent from London lays down some future beats

GANG COLOURS - MAN UP GIRL! OPEN FOR BUSINESS MIX
Fluid chill/retro/hip hop from Southampton's finest

2MORROWS VICTORY - LIFT OFF (TROPICS EDIT)
Electro soul gets beat treatment (a beatment?)


That's it. That's all I'm saying.

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2MORROWS VICTORY LIFT OFF (TROPICS EDIT)

When is a remix not a remix?

When it's an edit, or a rerub, rework, refix, or some other name - that's when. I'm sure there is some tiny particular detail of difference between all these different terms, and maybe I'm just stupid, but to be honest I kinda don't particularly care what you call it. But then again maybe I AM just stupid. You tell me.

In any case, I went straight from Gang Colours' 'Man Up Girl! Open For Business' mix to this. Chris Ward, aka Tropics, is friends with Will Ozanne, aka Gang Colours. It was a natural progression to check out what Mr Tropics was up to after I finished writing about GC. And he musta heard the the 'Open For Business' mix cause what I saw was that Tropics had done an edit of 'Lift Off' by 2morrows Victory, a song that features as the opening for said mix. It's a great song - a kind of spacey foray into rap via soulful 'n' beatless skater vibes.

That's where the Tropics edit changes things. Keeping that ambient drone on which the original drifted like a few rapscallions on a magic carpet, he pulls those mellow chords to where he wants them, chopping them where necessary. He gives legs to a song which before was in danger of floating away.

It's now endowed with a slightly glitchy beat that's at once busy and balanced, snares and claps battling for power as hi-hats spazz electrically behind them, hemming in the essential organs of the original with a beautiful bone structure. He takes sections of the original husky vocal, too, and loops them to great effect. Though the original is a very good song, Tropics' version of it might as well basically be a Tropics song - this also means a very good song. His fingerprints are all over it. Shuffling and bouncy without being obvious, taking care of the original samples but not letting them overpower his own additions, it's an exercise in harmony and it works very well indeed.

I was very happy to hear this because I was amazingly happy with Tropics' recent Home & Consonance EP. You should, if you haven't, probably go and listen to that.

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Thursday, 11 July 2013

GANG COLOURS MAN UP GIRL! OPEN FOR BUSINESS MIX

Everyone loves a good mix, don't they? I know I do. There's sometimes nothing better than getting yourself set up - whether it be sunbathing in the garden with blanket, book, suncream (stay safe), drink; eating breakfast on a Sunday morning with TV (for the news), best-breakfast-ever, some kind of juice; or working inside with coffee, inbox open, stressball to hand - and once you're in position and raring to go, blasting a good mix. Ahh, the pleasures of the mix know no bounds. No choosing the songs yourself. No getting up to change CD. Just a set amount of time, decided by said mix, to enjoy a daily task. For in daily tasks there is immense glory.

So anyway, there's a lot to be said for mixes. From 20 minutes to a few hours, they come in all shapes and sizes. Very versatile things. And on that note, you can also use them for a soundtrack to a not-so-daily task, something like - oh I dunno - the Grand Opening of a shop. That's the case in this instance, anyway. Gang Colours, whose lovely The Keychain Collection came as a fanfare of absolute chill last year, has created this 'Open For Business' mix for the opening of Man Up Girl!, a street & skatewear shop for women in Southampton (he is close friends with the founder, it's not a random thing).

Some of the stuff in that shop looks incredible. The prints are bright and funky with more than a little leaning towards the retro - quite frankly I wish I were able to wear some of that stuff. Maybe I could get away with a T-shirt or two... Check it out: www.manupgirl.com

Anyway, Gang Colours has made this lovely mix. Listen to it.

With effortless flow, GC delivers a hip hop-hearted 35-minute mix that really is a mix, I mean like in the literal sense of the word yo. From the dripping ambience of Volcano Choir to Isabelle Antena's pioneering electro-samba, the sultry crooning of My Toys Like Me and the rich harmonies of The Beach Boys, it is a mixed mix. Yet never once does it feel clunky. Not at all. I feel bad even SAYING that word because nothing like that ever even comes near to approaching your ears. It's fluid and summery, the soundtrack to chilling out under the dappled shade of a tree, to the heat of busy streets, to summer-breeze-filled houses.

Toeing a line between retro and modern, attitudinal and nonchalant, it shows off not only the skill of GC but also his wide taste in music. He's got a second release coming up on Gilles Peterson's label Brownswood, and this mix only reminds me of how excited we should be about that.

OPEN FOR BUSINESS MIX TRACKLIST:
Pink Priest - Field of Orgasms
2morrows Victory - Lift Off
Co$$ - Searching
RZA - The Birth
Volcano Choir - Dote
DELS - Black Salad
Isabelle Antena - Naughty Naughty
Common - Testify
Infinite Body - Drive Dreams Away
James Pants - Green Rivers
My Toys Like Me - All Over My Face
Daru Jones - Oh pt. 2
B. Lewis - Dat Juice
The Beach Boys - Walk On By
Rammellzee Vs K-Rob - Beat Pop
Shigeto - What U Really Needed Ft. Brandon Mitchell & Carlos Garcia

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DEWY SINATRA I NEED LOVE

Fresh talent from London. It has a nice ring to it doesn't it? "Fresh talent from London" - just listen to how it rolls off your tongue. Say it aloud a few times. Put an accent on if you feel like it. There. Now don't you feel better? Feel those real world worries melt away like a Twister on a hot day in the park. And now you're in the mindset to hear something fresh from London. Yeah, I'll go for it, I'll even say phresh. THAT good.

And it is that good. When I first heard this yesterday, I got so excited that I actually stood up (which can be a struggle cause I'm recovering from a broken knee) and tried to dance but ended up clapping to the beat instead. Fresh talent from London - that's right. It's a guy called Dewy Sinatra who released a song called 'I Need Love' last Friday. I don't know anything more than that. He's from London, but I think you've probably gathered that by now. At this point in time I am more concerned with, or rather egged on by the lovely music that he's created.

It's a new sound. Doing away with an obvious beat, Dewy constructs a truly body-snatching amalgamation of an insectoid garage ticker and a very vital dancehall pulse, which results in an addictive show of percussive prowess. Claps clear the way ahead for sneaking hi-hats chased by the heartbeat kicks - it's something that sounds different depending on which part you pay attention to: the sign of a beat worth paying attention to.

The song's punctuated by voice-altered vocal samples, as well as Dewy's own vocals, drenched in a far-off echo giving a sense of isolated frustration - the kind of feeling that the lyrics are talking about in general. My favourite line is: "My phone's on silent I got bare missed calls / My friends are tryina reach but I'm not in the mood / I need a hug, I need some love" - can't we all relate to that?

And all of this feeling is strung up with uneasy synth chords that are pitch-bent every now and again, giving it a bird-in-flight level of frenetic change, a sense of uneasiness yet with the cool detachment of the future-house sound that naturally comes with it. It's great. A real nice mix of styles, brought together by vocals (something that can really really ruin a song if not done right) that speak honestly and passionately without going off the rails. Held together very nicely.

This song comes as the first single from Dewy Sinatra's upcoming album Emma (out in September) - I do hope that we'll hear the same progressive sound that led me to write all this. I heartily encourage you to check it out when it happens.

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Wednesday, 10 July 2013

SONIC DEADHORSE FT ARISTOPHANES 貍貓 THE ARRESTED

Wow well I have been sort of quietly anticipating something new from Aristophanes (貍貓) and here it has arrived - with knobs on. Yes with knobs on - it's an English expression. With bells on. That's right, in addition, another talent comes screaming out of Taiwan: Sonic Deadhorse. The song is technically his, Aristophanes only featuring on it, but featuring or not, she still totally kills it with her vocal skill.

If you feel like you're missing something, Aristophanes is a young female rapper from Taiwan whose talents I am rather enjoying at the moment. I wrote about her song 'The Peach Blossom' a while back, and I also wrote something about her for Dummy magazine too. She raps in Mandarin Chinese, which you'd think would cause a problem with me not being able to understand Mandarin Chinese and all, but two things: a) she provides the lyrics, so you can translate them and get an idea of what's being said; b) the WAY she raps, the way she expresses herself through her voice, is very evocative. So there you go.

Sonic Deadhorse, on the other hand, is very new to me. One thing's for sure: he packs a punch. In this song at least, 'The Arrested', he crosses genres to deliver an all-out assault on the ears. It's a sound of aggression, frustration, anger, but crafted very well instead of being just a mess of sounds which can happen too often with this kind of style. He calls it "music for lonely urban women and men, the youths captivated by literature and art, dumb rockers, and the crazy ravers" - "post rock whimpers affecting sorrow violent electro." I like those descriptions.

So on we go. I've coloured the SoundCloud player the colour of the song: bright passionate maraschino-cherry-red.

First of all there's a sample from a French film floating over chilled piano tinkling (I'm guessing it's from a Truffaut film). Then without warning, the song cracks its knuckles and gets down, a flurry of wound-up snares battling together in a violent breakbeat style, low synth earthquaking below. The beat changes throughout the song, going from that frenetic style into dubstep by way of a glitchy break, and then for the finale the two patterns almost become mixed together. That last part - wow. It's a hurricane of noise, epic-sounding electro-rock brought to an untamed boiling point with wild synths and thunderous percussion, Aristophanes' voice now distorted and megaphonic, sounding every bit as explosive as the music behind her voice.

It's interesting because I wouldn't have thought that her rap would suit a song like this, but evidently it does. She whips up her own storm, adding to the already-savage tempest that the beat has created, skilfully weaving in and out of insignificance, sadness, righteousness, beginning the song in a small empty room speaking as another person but by the end admitting that she was that person all along, was projecting her emotions onto her, yet is still in that small empty room. Looking through the lyrics, although Google Translate is far from perfect, you get a sense of how able she is to at expressing her emotions - and honesty is key for a rap that's gonna sound any good. And it does sound good. Sounds damn good.

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VIRTUAL FLANNEL NEON WAVES

Ok so this really old, well, the song is but I think the album has basically just been released so I'll just talk about the title track and if you like that then... then well the rest is up to you. You can go stream it all can't ya, cause this is the intonet and that's how it do.

What am I on about, I hear you ask. Well, I am talking about Virtual Flannel. I have never heard of this person before but you learn something new every day don't you, or that's what everyone says anyway. I like the name Virtual Flannel, but it strikes me as something imperceptible, like a virtual shower or bath - these things will only clean you virtually. Not actually. Maybe that's what the name is suggesting: that music is just a "virtual flannel"; it gives you a sense of feeling emotions, being someplace, or maybe actually being mentally cleaned or purified - it allows some sort of catharsis. And in that sense music could be seen as an artificial provocateur.

Maybe I'm just reading too much into it. Probably am. But it's a little food for thought. In any case, the song is 'Neon Waves' and it's the title track from VF's new album Neon Waves (duh). Please listen to it now ok.

Those synths at the beginning create an otherworldly feel, almost like this music exists only virtually (haha) and not actually - like it can only ever be digital. Which is funny because the album has also been released on tape. Moving on, the song follows a swaggering hip hop beat and is shot with many noises that turn it into a luscious corridor of music. Record crackles and tiny super-high-pitched candy popping noise give it ambience, filling in the gaps where the beat cannot reach. A stair-climbing bassline smooths its way below the sounds. Glitch hop yeah.

It's like being taken on a journey - and one that feels like it won't end because it fades out magically at the end. It is space-age yet totally now in terms of its sound, the synth oh-so medically clean yet the beat clacking and clunky. Expect more of this kind of sound if you buy the album - it's glitchy and fluid and easy on the ears. A real treat.

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