Thursday, 22 June 2017

🐣 DOMCO X BOBBY WOODY — PASS THE WATER [εˆζΌ” • PREMIERE]

The way this track just goes instantly with no delay, no intro, no front, only drops you straight like the steepest flume into the cooling plunge pool of this track with a zoom and it's a smooth patchwork of chopped up samples flutes and sunlight grooves the chimes glittering and warm vocal snips, textured and blissful—the way there's no losing time here is one of the first things about this track that endears itself.

"Touch down like Neil Armstrong"—the first words of DomCo conjure space, being unearthly, above it all, and put you in good stead for the tight laid-back flow that follows. His switching tempo, wordplay, references are memorable, polished, reeling off a rhythmic list of big hitters – "I'm a mix of Satan, Martin Luther, Malcolm, Eddie Jr, Obama, your baby momma and JFK's shooter" – and self-deprecatingly hinting at his personality: "Always got a chip on my shoulder like it's fucking Lay's / I keep my hair nappy and natural, fuck waves."

'Pass The Water' continues in the hands of Baltimore-based Bobby Woody who jumps in for instant tag-team appeal with bars that bounce elastically, dispersing his thoughts with humour: "Bump the DomCo EP or we not speaking / Bump the DomCo EP or we not eating," going on to claim, "I'm just passionate and I look dumb when I'm indifferent / I shit better bars than you when I'm freestyling tipsy." He references videogames – "Niggas say they respect women, but play games with cheat codes" – as well as anime – "Full Alchemist I don't need no metal / Fuck no hands, bitch I bike without pedals" – well put mentions that subvert regular tropes and titles; DomCo chats about Gohan in the skit-ish outro too, in what is a lighthearted end to a playful-fiery track, the start of what sounds like it's gonna be something serious.


  • πŸ”” 'Pass The Water' is taken from DomCo's upcoming FOURTEEN EP, whilst Bobby Woody has his Cartoons Are For Kids EP set to drop in August.


πŸ“ 
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Wednesday, 21 June 2017

🐣 YOMO-DA — ODAYAKA?

It's a sea-based intro, setting the scene with the clopple and clapping of watery sounds morphing to the crash and topple of waves on a beach. A tract of piano with dramatic baroque flavours of minor-major modulations switches between daintiness with light trills and skipping notes and something more colossal, strong robust chords; between a picture of the calm sea and the ocean fraught with ferocity. A plaintive melody chimes in, something reminiscent of the opening theme to Zelda: Link's Awakening, which also features strong maritime themes with 8-bit renderings of sea and surf. At 1:10 chimes whisk us from the ocean scene, the cresting waves, shifts the camera from directly focusing on the sea to the town cradled in the bay, the buildings overlooking the blue expanse.

Japanese musicmaker yomo-da turns the track into a jazzy illustration of life by the sea, a bossa-nova rhythm in the soft percussion the tingling cymbal shuffle and offbeat allure of the bass-rimshot pattern, a Latin coastal groove that soaks your mind with sultry azure visions. Warm organ chords play with airy turbulence and romance, a fluttering tremolo pulsing in your ears with a dreamy, far-off appeal, the muffled bed over which the piano returns and tumbles virtuoso, twinkling with the angularity of light and shade in the city, the bustling boulevards, narrow lanes, breezy palms, all of it fading into an aching silence where this conjuration gradually dissolves. 'Odayaka?' is the sea – fickle, light, beautiful, vast – whilst it also reflects the moods, the hearts, of the people who live with it.


  • πŸ”” 'Odayaka?' is taken from yomo-da's recent EP, γ‚ˆγ‚Šγ¬γε››ζ–Ήη”° (Yorinuki Yomoda – The Very Best of Yomoda). Released by Japanese netlabel OMOIDE LABEL, you can download it from their Bandcamp page on a name your price basis.
  • πŸ”” In the SoundCloud description of this track is written:

    γŠγ γ‚„γ‹ γŸγŠγ‚„γ‹
    ζ΅·γ‚’θ¦‹γ«θ‘Œγ“γ†

    mild, magnificent
    let's go to the sea

    The title, 'Odayaka?' refers to the mildness of the sea. Yes it's nice, it's breezy, calm—but, taking special note of that question mark, not always.

  • πŸ”” The artwork for the EP was created by ε—ι›²ε“‰ζžœ Saika Nagumo. The selection and mastering of the four tracks for the EP was done by OMOIDE label owner, YZOX.


πŸ“ 
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🐣 PODGY FIGURES FEAT. BONKAZ — MAD TING

Grime grime grime. Recognised by countries other than the UK in recent years, it's having something of a renaissance. Only something of one though, because it never really went away: people just started talking about it more. One component of the genre who seems to have always been around is Dot Rotten, who lends his production finesse to this one under new name, Zeph Ellis, which he changed since he shifted his focus to producing over the last couple of years. The beat clacks with the slap of rapid-fire handclaps, sharp cymbals tsing with reverb and wobbly synth rains down on the jostle of the beat like meteors: this is 'Mad Ting' by Podgy Figures.

Indistinct vocal samples ghostly and icy crystalline ambient gossamer runs like mist through the dense tree thicket beats, gently looming as the track rolls on, first up with emphatic bars by Croydon rapper Bonkaz (you may know him from his 'We Run The Block') that rolls into the hook where the beat's poised and calm, the ice cavern synth frozen glacial chimes spinning its web as "mad ting, mad ting." Podgy's bars bristle with laid-back growl, referencing a few choice sports amongst other things "we gave rudeboys their showers / you don't want encounters / we're the founders / out man running like rounders" and "man's investing / dem man are fake like wrestling"—This track judders both with the spooky electric charge of Zeph Ellis instrumental and the controlled venom that these two up-and-comers effuse with energy.


  • The video for 'Mad Ting' was directed by Jay Parpworth.
  • πŸ”” The track is taken from Podgy Figures' new EP Gingerbread Season, which is out now.


πŸ“ 
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Tuesday, 20 June 2017

🐣 LIL PEEP — BENZ TRUCK (Π“Π•Π›Π˜Πš)

The menace of the crunching bass and the downtrodden guitar, the slapdash strumming leading into a graveyard of sound that looms like something poised to pounce but never does—it's that ever-present threat of sound, melancholy on the edge of negative action, which gives 'Benz Truck (Π³Π΅Π»ΠΈΠΊ)' its brooding atmosphere, a gothic gloom that is charged with potential energy yet which seems to shrink and wallow in grief. It does both. Producer smokeasac attaches a disjointed drum machine the dirge, thin gasping snares crack whilst kicks gloop and thud, subtle hi-hats ticking slow and sometimes tripling up like origami assault rifles takata-takata-takata just adding to the hype of the track, the electricity of it that you'd swear didn't exist here if it weren't as palpable and downright tangible as it is.

Slurring mumbling darkly with downcast confidence is Lil Peep, whose laid-back rap flows slow like spilled apple sauce, delivered with laissez-faire aplomb and a mellow fierceness. He casually delineates his situation whereby he has obtained money and success, enough for "iced out teeth on an iced out whip / with the limousine tints, you can suck my dick." He goes on to pre-empt accusations of sell-out that seem to come with the attainment of fame – "who you wanna hate now? pretty soon you gonna hate me" – as well as boldly stating: "all the money that I make now / I'll never let it change me." His tone, something like a drugged Jesse Lacey would sing over the top of something Brand New might play if they injected beats into their hard emo sound, is soaked with reverb, and conjures a persona at once calm and collected, less emo crying and commiserations, more stoic control of life.


  • πŸ”” The track is taken from Lil Peep's album Come Over When You're Sober, set to drop at some point soon I guess. You can purchase, stream and/or download 'Benz Truck (Π³Π΅Π»ΠΈΠΊ)' via this lil link here.
  • πŸ”” The Russian word Π³Π΅Π»ΠΈΠΊ in the title refers to the exact type of Benz truck he's talking about: G-Class—the word, read as something like "gelik" in English, and let's assume it's a slang term, throws up images of black boxy cars on Google.
  • πŸ”” The video for the track was directed by Get Mezzy (also editor), SUS BOY, and Wiggy. It was animated by Chadwickmak and Connor Moy.


πŸ“ 
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🐣 SAUX — FOR I KNOW

Instantaneous. The lush pop rhythms and delicious pop flavours flowing and bubbling and resounding and spreading like a magical ether have a rare timeless appeal, an ease and fluidity that enables the track to reach you with instant effect. The first few seconds: the shuffling groove in the percussion, the indefatigable retro gloss of the glassy chords. It really is a lightning strike of pop. In 'For I Know' Netherlands musicmaker Saux has it covered: the simplicity, the sumptuous sounds, the summer-ready sulter. Barely any accoutrements dangle from the bones of the track, xylophonic luscious bones that frame the vocals lilting with pop melody, making this a minimalist's dream, a groovesome abstraction of cool longing.

Kicks thump, handclaps clop organically. The simplicity is one of the crowning glories of this track. Few elements come together to make 'For I Know' what it is. For added tropical poolside conjurations the constant stutter of a palm-muted guitar makes its sunlit entrance into the track, summoning a decades old adage of sound, heightening the retro quality, the simple lyrics as sung by Saux and friend Sjaak Thissen with its subtle harmonies slowly unfolding in the sashay forwards. Minor additions in the beat, the regularity of it, hi-hats, some shakers in the finale alongside, the guitar that mirrors the vocal hook. The sounds dissolve wonderfully into the well preserved space, reverb painting a sense of expansive universality whilst the dusty instrumentation, the intonation of the vocals rich and whispering, creates a sense of carefree intimacy, closeness not yet attained.




πŸ“ 
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🐣 DEEPSLEEPER — YEARS

The slow creep, the gradual rising up, the heavy burden feel becoming lighter, this slow climb upstairs, how luscious it awakens. 'YEARS' is a slow-burn of ascension and progression, of multi-instrumental additions, a cake mix of sounds with more and more tasty things poured in for good measure. We begin with decayed crystalline chords like glassy harps playing downtrodden modulations that seem to warp and shimmer sweeping in a haze of tiredness and surrender, as if these are the final motions to perform for a day: it is returning home after dark, work firmly out of mind but the pull of sleep dragging you down, the numbed feeling of knowing the drudgery starts again tomorrow. It is the theme for the unrelenting office worker, the effected chords tragic but sparkling minutely with satisfaction and comfort.

And here is our ascent. LA-based musicmaker deepsleeper begins to take us away from the dull dimness of the kitchen table, the lonely after-work dinner, and we are imbued with an uplifting sense of carelessness as we move upwards, somewhere beyond the real world. The warming-up-orchestra feel of the singing strings, the rich tones of brass, all of coming together into a densely forested seam of nurturing ambience, low rumbles beneath, the strings shimmering, the brass end-of-the-day tearjerking cheerful, the steady growing howl of it all, the roaring crescendo, the white noise waterfall whoosh, the big drums beating our approach, mindcleansing, bodystopping—the welcome fanfare of sleep and dreaming, our grand reset.


  • πŸ”” This is deepsleeper's first single. Credits on this dreamy track are as follows: trombones by Mike Richardson; violins by Steady Holiday; upright by Blake Estrada; drums by Kiel Feher.


πŸ“ 
deepsleeper Internet Presence ☟
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🐣 J TROPIC — THINKING OF U

The contemporary swing of syncopation pervades this track, with its DK Jungle Parkway delicious marimba chords clunking and other percussive xylophonic chiming, a tide of cut jewels and raw gemstones that tumble and shine in the summer sunlight feel of this track, the jiggling impatient two-step speed of it, and all that cut-glass beauty exquisite as they are cute with all their tiny sounds, like a wind-up toy, like a music box, the glossy sultry sumptuousness of it. Throw a handful from a pack of Fox's Glacier Fruits up into the sky and watch the sun glint in each one and catch them in your mouth and taste the flavour, feel the satisfying gem quality—the sounds of 'Thinking Of U' are much like this.

Then there is the crunch and click of percussion, the clack of the snare, the whistle-toggle rapid tambourine ticka-ticka-ticka-ticka fast but subtle in the glorious chorus where the glomping clonks of marimba speed up and ring out more frequently, the ever-present tickling shifting sands of a rainstick or similar lending yet more texture to this chock-a-bloc tract of sound, J Tropic making it so that it is simultaneously minimalistic and well ornamented, a delicate blissful balance from the London-based musicmaker. This is not even mentioning the vocals, which play their part lilting and crooning in the verse and deftly, energetically spinning the hook, "I'm always thinking of you"—how it exudes summer, freshness, life, positivity, heat, passion, chill, all at the same time, the tilt of our star in the blue sky, the rustle of green leaves, the warmth on your skin, the flow tide of romance.


  • πŸ”” You can variously buy and stream J Tropic's lovely track via this link.


πŸ“ 
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🐣 MARIUS — EASY

This one tumbles and crashes and thuds and explodes with organicity, a track that jostles with maddening energy, a multi-limbed cartwheel, a staircase of descending rhythmic rigid boxing gloves pugilising each step, a combination haymaker of a track—and this is all courtesy, mainly, of the gorgeous drums that essentially define this morsel of music. You hear them at the beginning, they stop, and then gradually here they are again, popping out with dusty vitality, muscly forearm ferocity, the raw hi-hats sheafing and swishing, everything breathing, even the underpinning bass sound is like a windpipe of superhuman exhalation, a robust didgeridoo drone that packs a punch as much as those grass-growing living cliff mental mountain drums.

Named 'Easy', this track by Norwegian producer Marius trundles along with flesh-and-bone breakbeats till its tectonic titanic end, when the cymbals rush out and smash like storms in the swaying doses of the new rhythmic 2-step-flavoured beat, feeling closer to metal with its juddering electronics like palm muted distorted guitars. It's a heavy finale. This in contrast to a soft beginning, those chords that fluttered slowly, a fragile innocence exuding from the thin resounding synth; in contrast to the far-off like a distant memory sample that sounds as though it's been lifted from a museum audio guide. The shattering shuffle of this track, its wicked rhythm, its full-blown tree-sap felled-logs life, is a joy of sound, and made even more sweltering in the wake of the shred of quiet that gleams faintly throughout.


  • πŸ”” You can download 'Easy' by Marius, real name Marius Elfstedt, from ToneDen.


πŸ“ 
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Friday, 16 June 2017

🌭 BK BEATS — STRANGERS

There is a touching sense of heartbreak in this track, or not even of something so specifically affecting, more a sense of something oppressive in the face of innocence, a feeling of being weighed down, on the cusp of suffocation, something about yourself at risk of being flattened. Simultaneously co-existing with this atmosphere swirling and enclosing, summoned by the same robust twinkle of that melody that rings out with icy clarity, that cold resounding polygonal sharp-softness, a melody like javelins of mist that are fragile and precious and that sounds childlike, like an ethereal music box, carefree. There is the threat and the threatened, as created by LA-based musicmaker bk beats in this whimsical yet vital track, 'Strangers'.

Adding to this push-pull of an atmosphere, pitch-shifted digital interruptions in the form of an iPhone message sent sound make haphazard chirps into this ice sculpture of a track, growing rapid and agitated around halfway through. Opposing the sharp icicles of sound are the overdriven drums, a contrast of natural sweetness and natural ugliness, the trap-ish beat leading itself trampling rhythmic amidst the delicacy of the melodies; it serves itself up pugilistically, thrashing with thudding kicks that thump and roll, sword-swish cymbals, distorted bass crumpling, decaying, a tide of strangers, the internal violence of anxiety making itself known, the march of never wanting to show yourself in public marches on. Wrapped up in each other, we face the world.




πŸ“ 
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🌭 FIREWOOD POETRY — SKIN

This music spreads out beautifully, like a waterfall, like watching water spill from a vessel onto the floor in slow-motion, the gradual coursing-through-veins feeling of warmth, of gentle-handed bliss, a gradual shiver through the body. And just as liquids fit the space they're in, the spillage unfurls and seeks all available channels and carvings and gouges and forms expeditionary rivulets that snake and wind along the earth. The atmosphere in 'Skin' by Canadian producer Firewood Poetry is one of searching, one of blankness becoming unblank, of unknown becoming known.

Fractional fears skitter and creep as the percussion ebbs and flows sharply textured, a grainy crackle like a geiger counter spits and stutters familiar throughout the track; totems of half-knowledge loom in the mild glower of the gloom, that sub-bass outlining indistinct far-off forms; a thin stream of ambient synth materialises and goes through a process of dissolving and then solidifying again; snippets of soulful saxophone exhibit almost sultry longing, illustrate carnal humanity; and the vocals, soaked in reverb, resonate past what we can hear, lilting heartfully, with a rich tone, and are on occasion spun backwards; it is a tract of esoteric flavours, a soundscape that dazzles and bewitches, the spice of occult in the cooling sub sandwich of trip-hop angularity.


  • πŸ”” You can download 'Skin' by clicky-clicking on this link.


πŸ“ 
Firewood Poetry Internet Presence ☟
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Thursday, 15 June 2017

🌭 INCHANGE — NIGHT SHIFT

The repeating melody at the heart of the track effuses as much down-to-earth somewhat melancholy reality as it does a sense of something secret and unreal, mysterious, discoverable yet undiscoverable at the same time. It plays like a harp, heavenly, warping with effects and glistening into the neardistance, a gentle dreamy arpeggio that oscillates, aloof and empty, pure and puzzling; light and breezy yet dark and looming. Russian musicmaker Inchange offers up a sacred grove of sound, an idyll that is real and organic as dappled light through shimmering leaves, as constructed and awesome as ruined columns and archways: wayward-sounding but refined, cultured.

There is a hint of VGM sound in 'Night Shift', in the exquisite expansive exploratory ambience of the track, in the trickling shuffle of the beat and its call-to-action feel, the fresh pluckings of that refrain, the what's-over-there intrigue of the small pings of delayed guitar that ebb and overlap—it's almost very nearly like a piece of music that could have been included in Zelda: Breath of the Wild (or maybe it's closer to Ocarina of Time's title theme), what with all its scene-setting music that draws up an atmosphere with unobtrusive non-earworming melodies, relaxing with hints of restlessness. The coursing lullaby is founded on glowing columns of sub-bass gloop that charge and pulse beneath everything, adding more fluidity to the track, rising and falling, more subtly dynamic nuances for this multifaceted morsel.


  • πŸ”” 'Night Shift' is taken from Inchange's recently released Through Noise EP—peep it and download over on Bandcamp.


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🌭 KAMI-O — FEEL

The gradual creeping progression, the unsteady vibe the uneasy feeling, the atmosphere of paranoia, the cyclical introverted mantra of it all, this track is true to its name in that you can do nothing but feel it. The atonal modulation of the sample as it cuts in and out of the static silence as the track begins is unsettling, seeming to occupy a space between traditional notes, and already the speed of the track is evident as it flashes in and out like a nightmare of strobe. A ghoulish call-and-response falls into place as an immediate answer to each sample slice lasers in like plasma on supra-boil, a dislocated feel, jarring, but in so gratifying a way that you wish it'd go on and on glaring and gleaming with its digitised menace.

Glasgow-based producer Kami-O adds yet more elements, sliding them in as the song hurtles on its way forwards, the doof-thud of punchy kicks, uzi-fire hi-hats, and yet more in a plethora of percussion, a hurricane of hissing clicking ticking clacking tapping banging, a rhythmic collage of broken sounds that swish onwards whilst the quivering samples are checked and suppressed and brought back again in simple mathematical dynamics. The subtle rumble of sub, a rasping handclap. Like garage music made with trees and gravel as much as obsolete circuitboards and the troubled souls of broken computers and programming errors, 'Feel' is a phantasm of humans harangued by anxiety and obsession, a foreshadowing of our finding solace in machines.


  • πŸ”” It is possible for you to download 'Feel' if you hop over to Kami-O's Bandcamp.


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🌭 AYLIN — ON MY OWN

This luscious slice of music is a wondrous illustration of pop, with its delicious sumptuous percussive sounds, the shuffling shakers, the streaming liquid gurgles, its chimes and its crying-out vocal samples. And in this tapestry of textures, the lush thickets of percussive bristling, there is a smart, city-leaning clarity about the track, seeming to mix this tropical spirit with the colder angular soul of an urban environment, the slick-smooth syncopated chords, the clean subtle gloop of the bass; something restless and lonely in the verses where the synth flutters, confused, from left to right.

Whilst Aylin questions herself and expresses doubt in these more mellow verses, confident resolve arrives in the chorus: "so I'm thinking of myself not you, like I should do" and "I'll be thinking for myself alright, should be just fine." The Romanian singer, in the midst of the snappy funk of the track, sings with a voice that is at once as malleable as it is crystalline, seeming to purr as it sparkles. There is a certain emptiness in 'On My Own'—staging the decision to go it alone as the chorus suggests rather than stick with something that isn't working, even something that's pulling you down, is a difficult thing to do, and the struggle to come to that decision is illustrated with dynamic contrasts between the verse and chorus, between a chilly empty feeling and one of fresh determined wholeness.


  • πŸ”” This track is taken from Aylin's upcoming second album This Is My Otherside, a collaboration with Otherside.
  • πŸ”” Aylin, full name Aylin Cadir, is also an actress at the National Theatre Bucharest.


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🌭 CULT EXCITER — GET

A warped tropical island feel permeates this track, a wash of what might be steel pans muffled and softened and stretched out into languorous mists of sound, little clouds of chill ambience that summon breezeblown beaches and blue skies as much as the sultry potential of nocturnal outings. Like palm trees in the calm croon of coastal air, these nebulous sounds sway in slow-motion as the the dancehall-flavoured beat skips onwards—the party continues to pop all around but the focus is on this feeling, this fluid electric connection, this illustration of amorous aurae by LA-based duo, Cult Exciter.

Having their origins in Dominican Republic, the musicmakers understandably infuse 'Get' with Caribbean lilt, in that rhythmic swing of the beat, in the smooth fragmented bass that grooves gently throughout. Elsewhere this is a dreamlike excursion. The vocals, indistinct and slurred and doused with reverb, seem to come from elsewhere, from a memory, from a premonition, and fit effortlessly with the fumes of sound that soothingly intoxicate—all this, plus the brushstrokes of spontaneity in the sudden sprinklings of bubbling chiptune bleeps with their matter-of-fact anything-could-happen-ness, generates a sense of magical realism, where something about this club experience is not altogether of this world, where a dream materialises on the dancefloor.


  • πŸ”” 'Get' is taken from Cult Exciter's debut EP, out 23rd June on Point Records.


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Wednesday, 14 June 2017

🌭 MICHAEL O — YOUR WAY

There is something wonderfully intoxicating about this track, something mesmerising—maybe it's in the general uplifting atmosphere of the afrobeat wholesomeness of it, or maybe it's something more physical, in the cyclical three-note melody played throughout that draws you in like a hypnotic spiral, in the instantaneous get-up-and-move feel of the rhythm, the warmth of the track. It soothes and caresses, enlivens and boosts, feels like a 1UP, feels quaint and whimsical but solidly ready for dancefloors and poolsides across the land. Like an uncut gemstone, this is the unassuming beauty the herald of bittersweet emotion that is 'Your Way' by Los Angeles-based Michael O.

There is a delicacy about the synthetic bass sounds, something fragile there, the reverb gently whispering off each note as the sprinkling pings of the repeated melody, feeling like tiny instruments, continue in their happy splendour. The dancehall drums with their offbeat and their busy clacking shuffle suggest carefree movement, but the gradual warm synth that flows in and out like waves on a beach, there is a far-off brave acceptance of something adverse, yet that plinking melody remains upbeat—this is like the true tides of emotion hidden behind a cheerful personality. The tranquillising lilt of the vocals is like a lullaby, even with the autotune hardening the tone. An essence of a person, of an emotion, is in this track, like alcohol in a cocktail, sweetness and sourness and the inebriating feel, an effortless mix of many ingredients, of many feelings, that slides effortlessly into your soul.


  • πŸ”” See Michael O's SoundCloud for more music.


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🐣 TCTS — DO IT LIKE ME (ICY FEET) FEAT. SAGE THE GEMINI & KELIS (MELΓ‰ REMIX)

TCTS's original 'Do It Again (Icy Feet)' is a brooding slice of funky house that features rapper Sage The Gemini and the lilting voice of Kelis aching in the almost taunting pseudo-hook "icy feet…"—but in this re-do the Manchester producer's track gets more than just a facelift: the cold synth syncopation and robust rigid beat, the dark aura, the digitised mechanical body of the track – as well as all its shuffling funk – gets new life injected into it, becoming a warm, organic, living-breathing track courtesy of Merseyside producer MelΓ©. Snare rolls drop in and snake through lively rattlesome, carnivalesque percussion clatters between bars: it lives!

The serious slightly screwface nature of the TCTS track is, like a frown turned upside down, put on its head and has in this remix all but dissipated, with MelΓ© adding a few cups of French touch-flavour impiousness, the bassline up-front and playful as it bounces through. Similarly the vocals get a slightly oddball treatment, warped and layered and twisted with atonal robotic pitch-shifting, taking the brazen almost cocky nature infused in the original vocals and making them less confrontational, more fun and trivial and leftfield as they repeat unrelenting, "I bet you can't do it like me…" MelΓ© has birthed a yang to the yin concocted by TCTS, conceiving and delivering not just a light side, but a lighthearted side for his body-moving remix.




πŸ“ 
MelΓ© Internet Presence ☟
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🐣 MIKE LIGHTZ — DISTANCE

The resounding fluidity of this track suggests a sense of relaxation, the chimes that ring out into the air, the constant breezes of ambience, but there is something more heartfelt at work here than simple chillment. The tone of those chiming chords, their gradual subtle agitation in indistinct arpeggios, the occasional sweep of guitar, that sharp chord leaning to the more lonesome side of noir, and you realise you are in a whirlwind of icy flavours, of emptiness, of lamenting, of exactly the eponymous state of the track itself: 'Distance'.

North Carolina musicmaker Mike Lightz claims in a short pitch about the track, "I had to give up my year long relationship in order to make this." Accordingly it is in this track that there is heartbreak, the idea of distance emanating from the reverbing sounds of the track, stretching out between two individuals and separating into searching tendrils that search in vain. The beat, disjointed and clacking, creates a sense of dislocation, popping in the sludgy whirl of sounds, the liquid swirl and gentle sounds like muffled glass breaking and the low looming rumble below, becoming more frustrated as the hi-hats begin to tick with the insistence of passing time. The expansive nature of the track, its almost pastiche noir moments, hint at a positive side, an optimism, in the midst of glimpsing fretfully into a fissure of despair.




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🐣 BARAKA — LEISURE

The beat here, the decayed whispering tap of the boom-bap beat, shoots a beam of instachill as soon as it starts its swaying swing beneath the bendy bass and liquid stream and sultry vocals that fall in like a fog as the beat becomes more legible and the kicks bump the ambience with their cassette tape thuds. This horizontally inclined track is from producer and jazz pianist Baraka (real name Geoffrey Dean) and it is very fittingly named 'Leisure'—and that is exactly it, jazz flavours combining with beats to create a sense of blissful nothingness.

Effusing from the track – from its golden haze of sound, the soothing textures of those crooning vocals, the ambient plasma of synthetic noises, the deep chimes, the snippets of flute that wind in – is a big sense of leisure, of having nothing pressing to do, of melting into a sunset, dissolving into nature, occupying oneself with no occupation. The way the sounds weave between each other, a loose tapestry of languorous dimensions, this one fading into that one, this one falling away, now all of it gradually breaking only to return in fuller form, this pattern is random in the gentle way that clouds pass by overhead; so here we are, outstretched in warm glinting grass, observing the ebb and flow of clouds pluming majestically in its grand wisps melting and growing and merging and going.




πŸ“ 
Baraka Internet Presence ☟
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Tuesday, 13 June 2017

🐣 5THPLANET — SPACEROXX

What at first is reminiscent of the menu screen for the online mode of Mario Kart Wii, with the same jostling digital sounds and a similar vibe with smart snappy beat, is in fact a piece of music that charts a journey from here to Jupiter, the fifth planet, something much more raw and adventurous than what you first hear.

Actually naming themselves 5thPlanet, too, the production twists with racing-stripe arpeggios raining down and wiggling weirdly as thin gasping hi-hats, bouncing toms and constant kicks keep up a keen sense of urgency with stuttering tick-tick fills, and this wonderful creeping electronic chord that gradually fizzes into existence with all the drama and suspense of a noir stakeout or surreptitious chase scene; the danger as the ship javelins through the asteroid belt separating us from the outer planets is highlighted here with a breezy uptempo quality suggesting calm. That's where the videogame element comes in: the peril is mild because the character is an old hand at navigating through asteroids.

The imagery conjured by 'SpaceRoxx' – a reference to those pesky obstacles – is fresh and exciting, a less jazzy approach to space travel than that of Cowboy Bebop's soundtrack, but just as evocative in its own somewhat lo-fi futuristic minimalist house with just a pinch of techno. And the warm sounds, the fuzzy flushes of thick synth that well up behind twinkling plaintive melodies, and those too, these suggest a return, an attainment of safety, an escape even just for a moment from running the gauntlet, a homely feel. The hazards and weirdness of galactic goings-on, the kinetic energy of deep space manoeuvres, the tension of sci-fi, it's all alive, gorgeously organically so, in this descriptive piece of sonic imagination.


  • πŸ”” More of 5thPlanet's experimental illustrative world can be found on their 2016 EP, BIGCITY$OUNDcatch it over on Bandcamp.


πŸ“ 
5thPlanet Internet Presence ☟
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🐣 GOURMET — YELLOW

How so few elements can create such a luscious soundscape, yet here we are, a cradle of minimalism becomes this lavish tapestry of sound. The drums tumble thud and shimmy shuffle with kicks and clacking handclaps seesawing beneath sprinkling shakers, the whole roly-poly of it organic and breathy on the background of silence, a stark and basic binary where each percussive gambol is a 1 to absence-of-sound's 0. These are the wonderful foundations of 'Yellow' by Cape Town's very own Gourmet—atop these buttresses sit turrets and towers painted with wonky wah-wah synth chords that ring out with hollow iridality in patterns of innocence and playfulness.

In the midst of these half-triumphal quasi-brass hits, the vocals of Gourmet seem to spill out in a profound procession of detail and cryptic mentions that make this quite an abstracted stream of consciousness, the dry matter-of-fact tone in the voice adding to the humour and oddball hat-tips as they accrue collage-esque (much like the track artwork) throughout the track, snippets such as "you're blonde, that's unlikely" and specificities like "small hands, gluten-free spaghetti lad" as well as the hook that speaks of "cyan, magenta, yellow's such a boring word"—high on wordplay.

By the end it's a sudden sultry list of alliterative allusions to sex, "fingertips unzip clitoris lips and flickering anxiousness…" as synth bass pulses like a heavy heartbeat, disappears, gives way to more soft percussion as the vocals continue breathless, descending peals of synth like the jubilation of wedding bells, the scattered mutterings of nervous youth leading up to this crescendo of cloistered coupling that all awkwardness dreams of.


  • πŸ”” 'Yellow' by self-proclaimed "Spaghetti Boy" and musical entity Gourmet is out now courtesy of Cape Town record label, 1991.


πŸ“ 
Gourmet Internet Presence ☟
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Monday, 12 June 2017

πŸ›© VISITS — YANGSHUO

The famous Li River, meandering its way through carves in karst landscapes, ancient hills disappearing into the milky distance among scatters of rural villages, quaint shops and local eateries lining narrow lanes, slowly pedalling on a bike or paddling on a bamboo boat alongside the everyday life of the locals. Yes, we thought, this seems like a place to learn more about China’s rural heart. What we actually experienced over our five nights in Yangshuo was something quite incredibly different. Guided to the small town of Yangshuo by a travel tip from a relative who had visited the town fifteen years before in search of the stunning scenery of the Li River – we knew it from that fairly famous HSBC advert of the time, the one with elderly fisherman using cormorants to fish in beautiful metallic waters – we rocked up at the dusty bus station amidst the unfinished construction-site feel of the outskirts of town, rattled from the juddering bus journey along potholed half-roads.

Since the early days in the 1980s when wandering backpackers first found their way to the sleepy streets of the old fishing town, things have changed for Yangshuo in a big way. For better or worse, the Chinese government and locals alike seem to have learnt exponentially just how lucrative tourism can be and now spend their time merrily milking the veritable tourism cow dry, slurping on the double cream it produces and overdosing on the richness. Overdone and overtly shocking, this once small bumbling stop off on the humble travellers’ map has grown into a hulking great big whirlwind of Chinese consumer madness. Yangshuo has become gobsmackingly gaudily magnificent. Turning the corner from the main traffic-clogged road introduces visitors immediately to a world of Chinese tourism wonder. A pedestrianised street works as the main artery in the centre of town with many smaller streets leading like capillaries from it. A walk down this street in the evening feels like a cross between a meretricious theme park world and something like Rouge City from Spielburg’s uneasy sci-fi A.I.

Bulking and bullish, a moving mass of people slowly saunter and shuffle through the streets, gawping gladly at men in ethnic minority costumes who hammer ostentatiously at chillies or at girls in communist outfits selling ice cream unwittingly to the theme tune of indistinct EDM offensively thumping out from strange clubs wedged between a proliferation of souvenir shops. This human concoction culminates in a bizarre and bewildering scene for overseas visitors to behold—reminiscent, perhaps, of a rowdy strip in a European resort town, apart from the lack of alcohol being consumed, so it's like an orderly madness, a subdued frenzy. Like a real-time version of Manufacturing Consent, Chinese tourists appear to be blindly following the crowd, pleasantly placated by the act of jamming themselves down the veins of the town simply to wonder – with selfie sticks aloft – at the sheer amount of people alongside them doing the exact same thing and to gaze at the inane activities being played out either side of the crowd from various shops and restaurants. It truly is an incredible sight to see. We walked among the throng of people in pure amazement at what had happened to this once humble village.

Sitting along the banks of the river quickly became our favourite pastime whilst we were wrapped up in the world of Yangshuo. Away from the droves, time slipped by slowly under the daze of the sun. We sat idly, feet dipped in the shallow waters of the Li River, observing. Boats chugged by on their routine courses, Chinese sightseers enjoying a paddle, residents walked their dogs and played with their children whilst a gutsy Western family braved a swim in bikinis and speedos—a hugely fascinating spectacle for everyone around (especially as women don't tend to swim in bikinis in China). The youthful moneymaking Yangshuo is betrayed here, the dismal streets feeling distant at this peaceful spot along the water’s edge where the butterflies gather. The hours wash along and the old ways of the past appear to persist like illusions we make for our wishful thinking. On the opposite bank a man leads some water buffalo for a drink. A boy washes himself. In order to see more of the famed landscape of the Li River we were informed that the The Thing To Do is to go on a classic Li River bamboo raft cruise. At 8am we were picked up from our guesthouse by a man in a minibus who spoke to us neither in English nor Chinese and had the rough-around-the-edges appearance of a man who had a hundred jobs of which none were in any capacity official. Along the way we stopped off to collect other tourists: a family of three and a grandmother, three young fresh-faced girlfriends and a quiet young couple. And then we were off, steered on a 40 minute whirlwind of a journey, frequently on the wrong side of the road, to the docks.

The place to pick up the bamboo rafts - actually made of plastic - was jam-packed with hundreds of Chinese tourists all eager to catch their boat. We were wordlessly paired with the quiet couple from our van who knew a handful of English words. With enthusiastic Chinese hospitality they offered up some fruit from the branch of longans they'd freshly purchased. The girl also bought a cute hat for a few kuai. We bought nothing.

The whole quirky event was a very Chinese affair and, even though everyone there was a tourist, we felt like we were learning about China and Chinese society by being there with everyone during Chinese summer holidays. The cruise was laid-back and we were able to see the stunning mountains up close, including the actual bend in the river depicted on Chinese money. Our newly acquired friends got a 20 yuan banknote out to explain this to us. Back in town we were dropped off at our guesthouse run by Mr Wei. It seems that Mr Wei was an early adopter in the fast-growing tourist industry of Yangshuo, having turned his own home into a 'Culture House' almost two decades ago. Over the years many guests have had the experience of staying in his home and living alongside his family. His wife, an extremely warm and smiley lady, served us up a family dinner one night. We sat around the humble table with Wei, his wife, son, his heavily pregnant daughter-in-law and grandchild, and gladly ate the hearty homecooked food that was offered to us. The unusual highlight of the meal was gnawing on a pigeon's foot and other parts of this small bird. It was a mountain pigeon, a relatively expensive centrepiece for the meal, which also included perhaps for our benefit only a bowl of chips.

The ramshackle hamlet that Mr Wei's Yangshuo Culture House belongs to feels suburban and sleepy compared to the town; like a slightly more high rise version of something from a Western film, people slouch inside the cool of their front rooms, reclining with family under the curled cornered posters of Mao, everyday life soundtracked by the latest advert buzzing from the constant hum of a television. An estranged world. A sidestep away from the glaring tourist neighbours nearby.

Staying at Wei's and walking the small modest streets where his children play was fascinating, unfolding glimmers of glorious practises: phone numbers scrawled on the sides of houses, logs chopped up and piled high ready for the imposing winter ahead, washing hung in the shells of half-built houses. The overzealous moneymaking city has this slow-moving settlement in a chokehold, strangling it until finally each house is turned into a shiny hotel or a pizza joint. Life in China is rapidly changing, people are getting richer. The hope is that with new wealth the overall everyday quality of life will improve; the worry is that the quiet serenity of local life will get washed away in a riptide of consumerist haze. Yangshuo is a strange, intriguing and sometimes terrifying town. It's a window into a world of Chinese tourism and rapid urban development that you may want to run away from at first sight. A large area of mud and construction we passed by every day is now, less than nine months after we visited, a large fully functioning mall. China is stopping for nobody. However, ultimately the experience leaves you with more of an understanding of modern day China. This town isn't built for learning about Chinese history, but instead, as it moves by proxy of its tourism into the future, it has become a place to learn about the China of here and now and of tomorrow.

πŸ™‹ REBECCA ALICE SAUNDERS

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

🐣 NAKURY — AUNQUE QUIERAS

With soothing plumes of bass glooping behind a laid-back slowdown boom-bap beat 'Aunque Quieras' begins, the chilled and subtly dynamic vehicle for the words and voice of Costa Rican artist, Nakury, formerly of graffiti crew Pintores Sin Kontrol and breakdancing veteran.

In the singular groove crafted by San JosΓ©-based producer Barzo, saw-wave synth and glittering trails of ambient computerised sound lend a heavy misty atmosphere to the instrumental, a sultry melting vibe that solidifies and buzzes with electricity when it comes to the hook—"aunque quieras…" Nakury sings anthemically, the vocal soaked in reverb, adding to the thick delicious haze of the instrumental, bounced and pockmarked by the shuffle of the beat.

As for the verses, Nakury shines. Her flow is breathless, skipping along, pursued by itself, layered with hypnotic monotone harmonies, the vocal resonating with its rapid staccato and Latin lilt. Though low-slung and casual, the rap feels extra-explosive above the robust calm of the instrumental, its speed is satisfying, the tone sumptuous, and it gleams poised to pounce, pushes clouds across the sky: it feels vital, elemental.




πŸ“ 
Nakury Internet Presence ☟
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🐣 EXMAG — TEN THOUSAND CHAINS

Melting into the past and evaporating into the future. 'Ten Thousand Chains' is a track that teeters on a precipice between two worlds. Expansive futuristic synth chords sweep throughout, neon-flavoured and plasma-textured, ladling contemporary retrofuturistic visions into the track as the soulful modulations play out. On the other hand, these early '90s R&B herbs and spices in the sumptuous swing of the beat, the indefatigable groove of it all, the clifftop guitar solos saddling the slow-jam sway with sustained sultry wailing, a seasoned croon of virtuosity.

Created by musicmaking entity Exmag, the track begins with mellow horizontally inclined hip-hop shuffle, sheafing metallic hi-hats deliciously clacking snares thudthumping kicks. Lounge-leaning guitar chords lilting liquidly and the chill wobbly tones of an organ dim the lights and set the mood; uzi hi-hats and that screaming guitar power-up later on; staccato bass lays down immense groove. The track ends with shivering shaker shuffle, synth chords in syncopation, a jostling procession of energy. 'Ten Thousand Chains' is smooth and sleek with epic accoutrements, its twoness is effortlessly maintained, a combo track that anticipates the brimming potential of nightfall, prophecies and memories weaving together amidst a purple post-sunset dusk.




πŸ“ 
Exmag Internet Presence ☟
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🐣 MEN I TRUST — YOU DESERVE THIS

It's the atmosphere here, the atmosphere whipped up with the warm synth chords, their heavenly modulation, the uncomplicated simplicity of it, the watery refrain of the guitar thin and tactile above the thick haze of the track, and then there's the swaying motion of it, the slow oscillation as the sharp clipped snares and hi-hats tick-tocking finely against the amorphous bed of velvet sounds and the aching slow-slow jwang of the bass. There is a feeling of the comfort, detached but comfortable. Alone and a part. The vocals linger with their layers languid and lost in dislocated dreamlike longing.

Created by Montreal-based three-person musical unit ("Jessy, Dragos and Emma") Men I Trust, 'You Deserve This' contains within it something very akin to the insta-nostalgia conjured by the homely wilderness of the Twin Peaks theme by Angelo Badalamenti, rich but not extravagant, universal but not cold, not meant for you but nor for anyone in particular. It is a wandering feeling, formless, a freefall into this cyclical formula, the feeling of going around and around without realising it, the seamless repetition of sound, the sparse groove, the ascending-descending melody, slowly softly slowly softly up and down the stairs, head full of chill, heart full of warmth.




πŸ“ 
Men I Trust Internet Presence ☟
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🐣 NATRIUMS — SPLEEN ARROW

As much as this track is an invitation for chill and respite, there is a sense of unknown exotic bristling at its heart. Without a legible groove, beat, refrain, or anything particularly recognisable for most of it, 'Spleen Arrow' by natriums from Louisville, Kentucky, is a continuously shifting beast, its tack continually altered, its spinning narcotic haze in a whirling instant transforming terrain—not satisfied with one world the interplanetary train of thought at work here tethers you to one set of textured sounds and tactile percussion after another. The lonesome disjointed howling digital ghost guitar solo of the beginning, with its indistinct pulsar synths, morphs into nebulous neo-jazz, piano chords resonating, thin sounds veilsome like insectoid chirruping.

And we leave, transitioning from that world of jazz, the touchful pluckings of the bass leftover for the briefest foundation, the cold shif-shif-shif of echoing percussion, and soon we are chilled by delicate chords that ring out lounge-like, images of slow-motion ski-jumping flutter across our imagination, and the temperature drops further, glassy sounds like icicles drip-dropping smooth and frozen and imperfect, a digitised chiming, the gentle descent of snow. 'Spleen Arrow' engages, lulls and agitates in a morsel of music that twins ambient downtempo with doses of jazz-in-circuitry, presenting a permafrost sense of noir.




πŸ“ 
natriums Internet Presence ☟
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Friday, 2 June 2017

🐣 XINOBI — SKATEBOARDING

A melancholic ride, sumptuous and nocturnal, dimly lit suburban streets, housefronts passing by as the wheels trundle on the tarmac, the determination and focus and the wandering meandering feel of freedom: this track is called 'Skateboarding' and it embodies the spirit of skateboarding—not what it means for everyone, but the spirit of skateboarding for Portuguese producer Xinobi. For him it's personal. "As a suburb kid in the late 80s, he was obsessed with the skateboarding culture, and had a strong urge to get himself a skateboard." After he got one there was an "abrupt and unexpected end to his skateboarding career" when he experienced a serious fracture in his arm. He stopped and took up guitar to rehabilitate his fingers. Xinobi, however, still had "a strong affiliation to the culture."

In the lonely emotivity of the track, its lamenting synth bloops and its plaintive chord washes wobbling into the air, in its solitary feel, there is a sense of being on the outside looking in, of imagining the technical nature and the mechanics of skateboarding, being part of skateboarding culture but not actually skateboarding. As such an intimate disconnect exists in this track, you can feel the closeness, the raw hi-hats and the vital fuzz of the bass synths and the acrobatic nuances of the beat and the organic lifeblood ambience trickling throughout, but in the sadness of some of the sounds there is distance.

Analysing this world from an outsider-inside perspective, Xinobi samples a speech at the US Library of Congress by harcore punk and post-hardcore figurehead Ian MacKaye about the philosophy of skateboarding. It summarises what the producer himself wants to say, encapsulates the power of the track itself, and the potency of the skateboard and its power to both physically and figuratively move.


  • πŸ”” The aptly skateboardy video was directed by Lydie Barbara.
  • πŸ”” 'Skateboarding' is the opening track from Xinobi's album, On The Quiet, which was recently released on Lisbon artist collective and electronic music label Discotexas, and you can listen to it on their SoundCloud.


πŸ“ 
Xinobi Internet Presence ☟
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