Wednesday, 16 August 2017


The subterranean tunnelling feel of this, the cold stark descent into the earth, the stifling temperature of it, the mild claustrophobia like miasma tendrils reaching through the labyrinthine space. The house beat of this track is muffled, a juddering rumble, deep and formless, simply the subduing boom of it, this treble-drained procession of kicks helps that underground feeling, the smothered nature of them feeling very in-the-earth, not cavernous but enclosed, buried. 'This One' by Polish musicmaker FM2 continues with the fluttering delay of unknown creatures in the dark, light abrasions texturising the lo-fi murk of these soft but percussive plasma synths, their bouncing stutter like some sort of echolocation, heightening the lonely wall of rocks that bound this stony warren like a blind mirror.

And in these tunnels lined with bare rock and punctuated with glowing minerals and calcified growths there is damp mist, drip-dropping water, the whispering reverb from the ticking hi-hats like rhythmic rain, open hi-hat razor sharp metallics leading the expedition to where they want to go, a garbled vocal sample like a lost radio update crackling into dust, finally around halfway through—the main chamber. How vast, sunlight glaring in from some unknown opening many hundreds of feet above, plantlife swaying in some warm errant breeze, the new brighter tone of the synths a gloss of triumphal discovery, a glittering upbeat new refraction, happier than before, all-encompassing bass gripping your body, soothing and cleansing, tumultuous exploration and its new world end game as told by this analogue techno journey of sound.

FM2 Internet Presence ☟


Here we are inducted into a harsh world of cliffs and outcrops, jagged mountains, errant bewildering boulders, an arid landscape strewn with stones and with suitably tough greenery dotting the brown-grey-red of it all with mossy juttings; totemic natural or are they natural structures tower into the pale tangerine sky half-toppling above it all. It is an alien landscape, something wholly foreign, a visual conjuration courtesy of these breakneck bone-shattering beats built by Berlin-based musicmaker Ziúr. The pugilism, the violence at work here cannot be understated: this is a brutal piece of work, the alarm clock of the deep cosmos calling you, wrenching you awake, rollicking machine-gun snares, sub-bass-explosions opening up fissures in the earth, an avalanche of perilous percussion.

Yet behind these hard and hefty tracts of beating battering drum sounds there is something more gentle at work in 'U Feel Anything?', noises erupting from the cracks opened up by the piledriver bangs and booms of the beat, sonic awakenings, modulating unidentified sounds pouring out and into the air. In the midst of this irregular pneumatic drill almost grime-flavoured uptempo-ness, this seismic doom, ectoplasmic synth bulges and bubbles in simple patterns, high-pitch needling insectoid sounds sharp and lasering, augmenting the sense of alien unfamiliarity in the already far-flung force of the drums—those drums, textured with crunching, crushing, exoskeletons bursting, the fragmentary abstract ADD itch, the champion drum, the charred earth, the nucleus of energy cracking the frame of terrestrial reality.

  • 🔔 This amazing track is taken from Ziúr's debut release, also called U Feel Anything?, which is out via Planet Mu / Objects Ltd. on 6th October.

Ziúr Internet Presence ☟
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Tuesday, 15 August 2017


Four years following the release of previous album No Better Time Than Now, Shigeto has produced a follow-up to 'Detroit Part I', an almost symphonic morsel of music, a journey of a track in which a brooding atmosphere is beset with bristling sounds, a melancholy atmosphere where a sense of downcast dystopia looms somewhere in the lament of it all. 'Detroit Part II' is a different beast entirely. If the first part of this sonic homage to the Michigan city charts abandoned buildings and boarded up houses and forgotten assembly lines, the dereliction of Detroit, all angular and atmospheric, then the second part is humanistic, living-and-breathing, focused on how people react to their surroundings in terms of art: its musical culture and heritage.

The track thumps along with a dusty wheezing organic thud of a kick, luscious handclaps and muffled snare rimshots and delicious clopping woodblocks and shuffling shakers punctuating and decorating this subtle driving force of a beat, a tangible waterfall of textures. Soft synth bass plunges fuzzy giving the track a wandering breezy groove, the meandering jazz feel of it augmented by saxophone peals that prize open the heart of the song and allow life to flow forth. Barely discernible, a mist of gentle keys gloss glassy nebulous aching and accepting, merging with the whispering tones of the vocal sample that reverbs into the streaming percussive beat and its homely comforting sense of space. This is a change of heart, the silver lining of the cloud, the other side of the coin.

Shigeto Internet Presence ☟


The swirling hypnotic synth, the gentle nature of it, makes you feel that you're in good hands, that you're in a safe, comfortable place; these cushions of sound, these soft fluttering filtered noises, fading into the negative space left lovingly at the heart of 'Kekeke', providing the perfect backdrop for the vocals of London-based South African musicmaker and singer, Toya Delazy. Sung in Zulu, her mother tongue, the artist channels her great-grandmother – actual Zulu royalty, Princess Constance Magogo KaDinuzulu, "one of the first indigenous female composers," she tells us – by infusing the praise singing traditions of her ancestor with contemporary surroundings that fizz contemporarily energetic. "I wanted to bring back the concept of praise singing in a modern setting, almost in a slam sort of way," Toya explains.

So we have this bright voice, a vocal that seems to shine as it calls into the mists of synth that curl as the track's backdrop, just a few portions of percussion to help solidify the frame surrounding the blissfully content yet far-flung and nostalgic singing. A sparse scattering of a beat thuds lo-fi four-to-the-floor whilst hi-hats scrape, in a section where the vocals turn to something more akin to rap: the lower pitch, the rapidity, the low-slung laid-back nature of it, the superb simplicity of it, the airy instrumental letting the words breathe. "The song is about the hypocrisy of people talking behind your back and the crooked smile they wear when they next see you," Toya explained the song's Zulu lyrics over email. "No matter how pearly white the smile, beware the crocodile."

Toya Delazy Internet Presence ☟
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In a sea of melted electronic digital chords we have an eternal sense of chill, slow whirlpooling swirling in the air like heavy curling weed smoke, it's an instrumental immersion in relaxing horizontal flavours that fizz and bubble with undeniable chill. This sonic aromatherapy is actually a double helping, too, so we're extra lucky that we can get a comprehensive feel for both artists carving and etching their souls online in two slightly different vessels of sound. In 'chill', Virginia rapper wilkjayy exhibits flawless rhythm with this creaking elastic tone as much as his wordplay stuns impossibly, each rhyme like a great flash, alliteration raining down as producer rocco lays down these sleepy glassy lounge chords, these crunching overdriven kicks, razor hi-hats and cannonball splash cymbals, sounding like a marble-floored gold-detailed elevator lobby in some retro-futuristic dimension.

But things take a colder turn aside from the garbled jazz of the first half of this track, as 'wavy' right away veils the world in breezy synth, muffled and breezy and all-encompassing, losing the playful edge of 'chill' and instead blooms spacey, rocco floating it up to where the air is thinner: kicks quake, handclaps and hi-hats tick-tack metallic. The spacewalk of sound is narrated by wilkjayy, who begins 'chill' slowly, low and creaky, before he breathlessly blasts lines of rapid-fire dactyls for about a minute, all based around the same hypnotic rhyme scheme: "everything that i be doin original / switching so often it's not too predictable"—ending this rolling ridge of rap with a comment on tradition within the genre: "boom bappin rappin aint nothing additional / they say they loving me no not conditional / so far above you you're hardly formidable."

The devastating virtuoso and savage calm of wilkjayy, seemingly determined to make an impact on the world, combined with the freshly juiced soul-cleansing beats of rocco, feels like a powerful partnership, and one that is only just beginning to blossom for the ears of the globe.

  • 🔔 Though 'chill // wavy' is technically just wilkjayy "prod by" rocco, there's a more recent collaboration between the two that labels them both as joint creators of the track. It is the wonderful, maybe equally wonderful, 'lost in the smoke', released via underground label-collective osty (oh shit that's you).

rocco Internet Presence ☟

wilkjayy Internet Presence ☟


H is for Hue and also for History. The Ngyuen dynasty was Vietnam’s last ruling family, who moved the country’s capital here in 1802 and built Hue's citadel and imperial city. Their reign was fraught with struggles against and later pacification and special treatment by the ruling French colonialists. Hue was also the scene of a terrible massacre by North Vietnamese forces after they besieged, bombed and captured it during Battle of Hue, part of their 1968 Tet Offensive. Modern day Hue is a small, quiet city centred around the wide lazy banks of the Perfume River. When we visited the town it had an unfinished feel about it, dusty roads and gaping holes in pavements. There is a sleepy romantic charm, with breezy riverside bars and a buzzing nightly market, but the rough undercurrent is hard to ignore, which makes the city appear neglected and wayward. Lounging cyclo guys tout for business as we walk by, and as night fell men riding mopeds sidled up alongside us with hushed calls of “Marry-wunna?” and gestures of puffing hard on a joint. We were accosted by a 10-year-old child, who walked with us, chatting, told us he was fifteen, and after we didn’t want to buy his multi-pack of Mentos, bid us goodbye when he saw some friends. There’s a tourist-borne ugliness here, making it feel as though Hue exists somewhat solely for visitors drawn there by the UNESCO citadel and outlying tombs. The citadel, or more specifically the Imperial City within, is a playground for anyone with imagination and patience and a couple of two litre bottles of water to hydrate you in the heat. We've heard it compared to the forbidden city in Beijing—nothing is forbidden here though, you can wander around everywhere from the ornate walled gardens of the imperial mother's residence, to the bombed-out shell of a former temple like a grassy wasteland in the midst of it all. It's an open-air museum with a peaceful and unhurried atmosphere. There's a lot of information in some places and none in others making it a nice mix of school trip and dreamy timewarp. A fantastic place to takes pictures, especially when the light is nice. Part of the entrance fee for the citadel covers the museum, five minutes up the road and round the corner from the citadel. You can spend a fairly interesting 45 minutes gazing at old keepsakes, clothing and fancy furniture from the rich remnants of Vietnam's last imperial dynasty. The emperor and his court was, in essence, powerless under French rule and had a lot of time for decadence and privileges such as a French education overseas and other leisurely pursuits—one of which was spending their time building elaborate tombs for emperors and family members in various sites around the city. With no real focus on them as yet as proper regulated "sites", some have an entrance fee, others are forgotten ruins. In the early years of its victory, the socialist Vietnam dismissed the dynasty and all of its physical leftovers and relics of its feudal past and did little to nothing in terms of preservation; aid from being made a UNESCO site in 1993 and more recently the promise of tourist dollars has changed the fate of the citadel and, hopefully, eventually, the tombs as well. The heart of present day Hue is found along the south bank of the Perfume River between two major bridges; in the evening the promenade awakens with gentle lights glowing in the dark, illuminating small market stalls selling things from your name on a grain of rice to traditional Vietnamese clothing. We bought a necklace from a cool girl who crouched over her small collection of handmade accessories. A group with Hue Acoustics printed on the back of their t-shirts put on sort of open-air open-mic event where singers along with musicians belted out Vietnamese classics. Crowds came and went, the ballads lingered in the warm glimmering air as we sat alongside the river and enjoyed a cold beer.

On another evening, in search of food we stumbled upon a promotional event put on by Tiger Beer. Mostly young people flung themselves off of a diving board onto a massive inflatable cushion, bassy dance music thundered through the streets and people attempted a rock-climbing wall. Crowds of scooter riders blocked the streets, parked up for a look at what was going on in their small town. The city sits in the middle of the country, neither North nor South, near the former DMZ, in-between and far-flung—hope here as always lives in the youth. One evening as we walked along the riverfront we went politely invited to donate what we could to help raise funds for a full moon party in a remote village. One of the girls fundraising was a student who hoped to teach English one day; she explained to us about the children who don’t have enough money to celebrate this really important festival as she led us down to the waterfront and we placed a paper lotus flower on the river and watched it float away.


  • Sunny A Hotel, £11.50 (35,0000 Dong)
    A pleasant surprise, Sunny A Hotel is located down a small alleyway which we walked straight past when we first arrived. We thankfully found the entrance after noticing a sign on the main road and we were happily welcomed in by the kind lady behind reception. We had been on a train all day and were practically overjoyed when we were shown to a room that was spotless, with a large bed and balcony. The location was very good, in walkable distance to the citadel and with restaurants on its doorstep. In the lobby they serve breakfast (extra charge) between bookcases filled with manga. We would stay again.

Monday, 14 August 2017


Visual distortion and contortion, twisting, trapped in a virtual world: this is the video for 'Distrust' by Canadian DJ and producer, Lunice, the videogame feel of it evident not only in the glorious glitching visuals but also in the music, in the atmosphere-conjuring sounds that Lunice lovingly sets into motion throughout. We have these stoic synth bass hits, rounded and gloopy, the foundation for this macabre march of music, the slow rolling snares, the soft wonky sounds that have this veilsome spooky quality to them fluttering phantomatic alongside it all. On top of this, we have three vocals that perforate the polished parade of this track: Nell and Denzel Curry, as well as J.K. The Reaper, who starts proceedings with nihilistic flair—"I'm an outer body experience, my ligaments attached to this soulless corpse i been living in"—before he asks existentially, "am I the only human in truest form?"

In his breathless verse, Denzel Curry casts some vivid vital imagery: "here's a kiss from the dragon hot as the back of my spliff" precedes the relatable line "fisticuffs, knock your ass out, that's Jigglypuff," which references either the ability of the Pokémon to sing opponents to sleep or, as a character in Super Smash Bros, a seemingly innocuous move ("Rest") that if executed correctly is a very powerful attack; either way, this line has made an impact. For the outro of the song, Lunice suddenly turns it overcast and gloomy, low-pitch piano and atonal chiming strings marking the beginning of the finale, a tract of noise-inspired harsh abrasive beats and ever more gruesome glitching and Curry's final distorted mantra: "Tell the cops i don't give a fuck / run and hide, boy you better duck."

  • 🔔 The wonderful digital gore of this video has been created by director Sam Rolfes, which was recorded "live within a game engine." The resulting warped human forms that are thrown and skewed around the screen reflects the revolt of the soul intimated by the lyrics (notice the decayed confederate flag in the still we took from the video up top), the unconventionality and affront of these same images a suitable accoutrement for the noisy sonic experimentation in this track.
  • 🔔 Listen to and/or purchase 'Distrust' via this link here.
  • 🔔 'Distrust' is taken from Lunice's debut album, CCCLX, which will be released on 8th September via Scottish label LuckyMe. Pre-order it here.

Lunice Internet Presence ☟
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Denzel Curry Internet Presence ☟
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J.K. The Reaper Internet Presence ☟

Nell Internet Presence ☟


This lovely track is arrives like a cool breeze through a window, contains within it that sheepish drowsy feeling that accompanies the delicate stages of the early morning following the inebriation and fun that bubbles between four walls and down corridors and in the garden, with its wonky boom-bap beat describing sonically that state of disarray as you awake from slumbering stupor and attempt to be a human, memories of the house party arising as you survey the room that was so hectic the night previously which now is filled with hangover and headache. "This story is totally about the morning after," says 19-year-old Leicester-based Mahalia about her track 'Sober'. "Thinking about the night before - all the mistakes you made, all the muddled texts you sent."

And so the track bounces this off-kilter pathway, the low subtle bass groove which charts this fresh, clean feeling throughout, the wobbling nature of it all giving the track this post-spinning-room relief in drymouthed stability. Yet we also have the vocals of Mahalia herself, not wonky, nor hungover, but self-assured and epiphanous, silkenly spinning lines that represent a realisation of good sense; "This is me waking up and smelling the roses," she explains further her first official single. Smooth, hazy, soulful, 'Sober' is an analogy for turning your life around, a night of revelry illustrating past mistakes, maybe even a whole lifetime of folly, but realising in a moment of clarity that things should and could be different.

  • 🔔 You can download or stream 'Sober' in various ways via this link here.

Mahalia Internet Presence ☟
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It's a jostling multi-faceted party atmosphere, that heat-warped guitar chord sweeping sultry in the cool balm of night and the bounce of the lightly shuffling beat, those foot-tapping hi-hat sheafing, the starry open skies of the slow melt into meandering dance and conversation through the lens of intoxication, carefree and sprinkled with hedonism, somehow those bopping percussive drum machine toms rhythmically echoing measuring time in their rounded synthesised droplets. In 'Just Wanna Be Single' Miami artist Brika invites us to the party, says stay a while, chill.

She sings slow in the verses, silken and low and conversational with the pattern of notes that skip up and down, amidst the luscious spread of percussion, the lovingly crafted handclaps, the sandy shakers, the thump of the kick. Light decorations tastefully adorn the nocturnal groove, little guitar licks in reverse like strings of fairy lights, the occasional wah-wah wobble of a synth chord, and that last slowly building shade of plasma sound, into the eponymous chorus, the laid-back vibe supporting Brika's desire to remain free of obligation and commitment, this sombre starlit saturnalia of sound a suitable vessel for the vocalisation of single life.

  • 🔔 This track has been co-written/produced by Shy Girls alongside award-winning producer Julio Reyes Copello—it's taken from an upcoming EP, so keep your eyes out for that if you like the sound of 'Just Wanna Be Single'.

Brika Internet Presence ☟
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A self-destructed blare of lights and colour, of rocks and cosmic material, a delicious morsel of music that mixes these things in a heady unidentifiable salad of matter and anti-matter. Cacophonous and bustling, the sounds crammed into this track fuse together without dissolving into one another, like those vintage psychedelic visuals of oil and water swilling in a tray atop an overhead projector but sped up, these sounds crash and rollick, storm and surge, smack and clatter, synths and percussion alike, all of it alive and wriggling for being alive. This is 'Missing California' by zenxienz, something that begins slow and composed despite the sloshing of colours and sounds, the bleeperie of electronics like the conjurations of circuitboards.

Beneath these slower sections a heavy beat cranks muffled and smothered by synthetics, distant booms and clacks close-at-hand but stifled in the bubbling heat of the sounds, some of them jostling woodblock smacks and clatterations—and then this segment of breakbeat-flavoured percussive patterns, the drum & bass toppling of this sonic tower into a kinetic mash of music, wide horizon-searching synth playing a solo, an aching landscape intoxicated lead, and later on the psychedelic infusion is evident with a scramble of freeform melodies and irregular shapes, zooming towards the end, a dizzy psychic joyride into the wonderfully chaotic imagination of this musicmaker.

  • 🔔 'Missing California' is from zenxienz's second album Brainforest, to which you can listen via SoundCloud.

zenxienz Internet Presence ☟
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Half sleekly clinical space-age white with reflective smooth screens, half organic heartfelt body and muscle and historical small streets and cafes, this track is a clear split, a love-letter to real humanistic flavours told with synthetic electronics, the hip shuffle of salsa bossa nova patterns exude through the syncopated piano that pulses cosmopolitan below the wonderful velvet vocals that skim warm richly throughout. These are the voices of sister duo Chloe x Halle, this track being a remix of their song 'Used to Love', a gorgeous a cappella composition filled with sultry lilting lines thick with harmony, solo parts powerfully cutting through and soaring gutsy above these choral comforters, impatient spoken-word "ok…ok…" and handclaps perforating the languor with potential energy.

But musicmaker and serial remixer Mozado, clearly seeing the promise of these incredibly endearing vocals, as well as the non-instrumental setting, turned this from an album intro light and airy as that time between asleep and awake, falling into slumber in the warmth of the sun, takes this feeling and through rhythmic permutations of Latin sashay and ticking trap brings out the bubbling energy of its heart, the powerful vocals now washing through the thudding beats that Mozado punctuates with luscious percussion chiming pots-and-pans tinkering and the warmth of the plasma synth matching the richly layered vocals, the hefty sub-bass, the dynamic of it all, this instrumental sliding along like a cloud-filled dream as much as it bumps and whips with pumping blood panache, this remix a vital reaction to the raw honest beauty of the original.

Chloe x Halle Internet Presence ☟
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The sky is collapsing in an instant at the beginning of this track and the ground opens up and everything from above begins to tumble down this expanse of space now bored through the earth, the most fantastic fissure that we find ourselves in, what darkness and undeniable foreboding dwells in the ranging ripples of reverb, the arpeggiating synths, the hardness of the electronic beats like jagged rocks, the nocturnal rumbling modulation of synth that columns barrelling through the lower reaches of this track. Like a cathedral freefalling through a bottomless pit lined with sparkling jewels and gemstones and a carved alien script that glows turquoise and sunset-orange, UK producer Kareful's track 'H2o' is a judgement day of sound on a rushing epic scale, a conjuring of otherness with otherworldly sounds.

The feeling of this track is heavily towards the baroque, towards the polished and filigreed, the ornate and broadly twisting, romance and distance conjured by the incredible vocal sample, foreign even to our world, pitch-shifted and lingering on each word, aching, searching for a soul, a slow display of beautiful turmoil. "I've always found myself heavily processing vocals to make them sound nothing like what I originally found," Kareful himself tells us about those beautifully meandering vocals. Inspired by an "involuntary break in music" after losing everything on an previous PC, he calls 'H2o' a romantic track: "Many of my tracks are…" he confirms: "I'm somewhat of a hopeless romantic myself." And in the track, its heartbeating dynamic grime-trap-flavoured percussion pulsing, there is such a sense of grandiose gothic hopelessness, of crushing from afar, the all-encompassing wreathes of unrequited love.

  • 🔔 'H2o' is taken from Kareful's upcoming Alchemy EP, out 15th September via trapdoor records. Download the track and anticipate the release via this specific site.
  • 🔔 You can grab the producer's previous release, the 2016 album Deluge, over on iTunes if you like.
  • 🔔 Recently Kareful featured as one of the collaborators on Lifeforce, the debut LP from Nottingham's very own Glacci.

KAREFUL Internet Presence ☟


The chaotic original 'Slow Descent' by Shlohmo, with its spooky twisted rounded organic synth sounds and vital menagerie of clipped click-clacking tight tumbling percussion, a dark shade of broken beat flavours, gets a reworking here courtesy of French musicmaker Tommyjarvis, styled after the Friday the 13th series protagonist of the same name. This new version takes the almost breakbeat speed and agility of the original and crushes it, that jittering nervous mood eradicated and replaced with something that has been under the hardships of life, a tract of overdriven saturated noise, the kinetic energy transformed into that of jostling saturation, a condensing of synth flavours.

The flighty acrobatic beat is no longer, and if any remnants of it remain in this new greyscale moss-ridden ruin of a track, they are slowed down, crippled from their original outing and now pulsing occasionally beneath the new viscous shroud of the track, Tommyjarvis creating crashing crowds of crinkled synth that spin damaged and zinging, the semblance of a melody on this dark nocturnal breeze, the rest of it a swamp of curling crunch, the power sapped from its abrasive bubblings by bassy kicks that fall into the electrogasm of it all and ripple slovenly, a trial of despondence and screaming noise that crouches in the corners of your mind, the abyssal yin to the original track's cascading yang.

  • 🔔 So the Tommyjarvis remix of Shlohmo's Dark Red album track 'Slow Descent' can be downloaded for free, as you can see on the SoundCloud player above.
  • 🔔 Tommyjarvis is a part of Rouen-based musicmaking collective KNGS.

Tommyjarvis Internet Presence ☟

Friday, 11 August 2017


Washes of warm soothing synth roll gently over your mind, a sense of space gracefully opening up with the tide-like flowing and ebbing of those gentle chords, a cradle of calm that lulls you into a spell of somnolence. Created by Mexican artist Carlosh Garzat, this soul-melting track is a remix of an original much more conventional track that he released earlier this year: "The lyrics talk about submission in love, about emotions being fluid and sometimes changing too fast," he tells us, "as well as the fear of drowning in those emotions but wanting to experiment them nevertheless." However in this new version of 'Submerge', there is a feeling of vastness, a sense of acceptance in the waves of sound that aim to chill and placate, and it all came from a chance encounter with a Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber.

"I was advised to have a couple of sessions," Carlosh explains. "It's used mainly for scuba divers and for relaxation purposes and anxiety in which pure oxygen is provided inside a chamber under reduced atmospheric pressure." Equal parts therapeutic and somewhat disturbing, the sessions inspired this new enlightened and awakened form of 'Submerge', where the vocals appear and float before your eyes, refraining like a mantra in the cloud of sound, the lightly clinical minimalism augmented by sparse pristine percussion snapping occasionally. In this new vessel, an almost uterine experience, the song is relaxing yet troubled by these words, almost like an interior monologue, yet in the serene vastness of it the power and immediacy of anxiety and doubt and negative emotions are lessened, reduced to what Carlosh calls "an impending fear."

  • 🔔 The 'Hyperbaric Oxygen Mix' is out as a single today (11th August) alongside the original mix of 'Submerge'.
  • 🔔 The original 'Submerge' is taken from Carlosh Garzat's Agoraphobic EP, released earlier this year. Feel free to purchase it via iTunes if you want.

Carlosh Garzat Internet Presence ☟
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Hanoi is pitted as an eating city. Tales of street food and gallons of pho are not uncommon from past visitors to the bustling northern Vietnamese hub, but how easy is it to eat the authentic food of Hanoi? Is it so well trodden on the tourist train that foreigners can only taste a snippet of the array of deliciousness out there?

It turns out there is plenty of food on offer all over the place. Vietnam may seem to some outsiders as a developing country, and in many ways it is, but it continues to evolve and build upon its strong culture and depth of history. Lest we forget that Vietnam has its own MTV channel. This is a country with vibrant, future-driven, up-and-coming youth scene with a massive food offering to match.

Hanoi, with its layers of French-infused history, culture derived from Chinese cousins and everlasting revolutionary spirit not only spills over with the old-town-plastic-stool street food, but also a popping spectrum of fashionable high-end dining and chic, style orientated bars and coffee shops. Dig in and get eating. This is a city as delicious for the palate as it is for the eyes.

🍴 Chay/Vegetarian Street Stall
It's not always easy being a vegetarian and wanting to sample street food in Vietnam—there is often a language barrier and it's hard to know what exactly the food is that you will be served up, let alone if it is vegetarian or not. A little searching online bought up this place, with an enthusiastic review by a guy who got chatting to the owners and found out it was run by a Buddhist family who are all vegetarian. We headed for some food at this hidden gem of a vegetarian (chay in Vietnamese) food stall after our visit to the Women's Museum which is not too far away.

On finding the stall we tentatively approached one of the ladies who was busy serving up food. She greeted us with a smile and kindly helped us make our food choice, aided with a bit of pointing at what other people were eating. We took a stall alongside office workers who were getting a snack with friends after a long day, groups of ladies and men in suits enjoying the simple yet delicious sort of Vietnamese take on empanadas.

Stuffed with mushrooms, noodles and other tasty bits, these deep fried crescent moon pasties were packed with a delicate but stodgy filling, served with a light sweet clear soup with cucumber bobbing around in it. We watched the locals dip their deep fried treats into this spicy nước chấm dip to add seasoning before biting into them. The bánh gối, as we discovered they are called, were deliciously moreish and our Western appetite craved more the moment we finished, embarrassingly quickly. They also sold bánh rán mặn, a deep-fried savoury ball with a savoury filling, so after plucking up the courage to greedily ask for more food we devoured the bouncy chewiness of the terribly unhealthy doughnut. What a place—and all that incredible food for a pound or two. Hanoi street-food at its best: chay and tasty.

🍴 Hanoi Social Club
A laid-back sultry feel seeps through the dark wood and thought-out design elements that epitomise the vibes of this bar. Step through the doors away from the motorbike-laden lanes and into an oozy dark atmosphere of vintage aesthetic that feels part-Chinese shophouse cafe, part-East London pub.

It was a tropical musky rainy night when we visited for dinner, but we made the twenty minute walk from our hotel after reading about Hanoi Social Club's reputation online. Inside, a few people lounged around in various corners, chilling and chatting with friends. An American family played board games together around a table. We ordered our food and sat and sipped our cold Hanoi beer, wooed by the cultivation of creative furnishings and old tiled floors.

The food was a comforting memory of home. We greedily scoffed down a veggie burger that came on fresh granary bread and served with home cooked chips, plus some gỏi cuốn (summer rolls) to share. Hanoi social club is the place to come for a bubble of comfort and chill.

🍴 Minh Chay
Hidden down a higgeldy-piggeldy backstreet in Hanoi, adjacent to the right side of the St Joseph Cathedral is the vegetarian restaurant Mihn Chay. Quaintly furnished with a natural theme, Minh Chay serves up a tasty catalogue of vegetarian Vietnamese and western dishes.

The surroundings are peaceful and clean with a fresh, trendy vibe reminiscent of a vegetarian eatery in London's Soho. The staff are friendly and attentive and there's the buzzing chat of Hanoi-ites grabbing a bite for lunch with friends and colleagues. It all adds up to a palatable atmosphere.

We've read that going vegetarian for a few token days here and there is a thing in Vietnam, which combined with underlying Buddhist traditions of abstinence from meat might explain why this place serves up such tasty meatless wonders.

We ordered the pho which was our chance to try out the vegetarian version of a classic Vietnamese dish and it didn't disappoint; not too salty and with the a refreshing, aromatic depth. The mushrooms were meaty but not overpowering with mock meat soaking up flavour. The veggie burger exceeded expectation, it didn't even ooze out the sides, as many runners-up attempts in the world do, and was packed full of flavour with a delicious hearty texture. The serving of gỏi cuốn chay were the best we've eaten: delicate and fragrant, a big fresh crunch mixed with soft chewiness.

🍴 Gemini Coffee
We ducked into Gemini Coffee to escape a tropical monsoon downpour one afternoon as we walked around Trúc Bạch Lake. The cafe was fairly quite with a few students hanging out together studying and texting.

We were welcomed in out of the rain and served deliciously creamy iced coffee on cute animal coasters. We effortlessly sunk into the chilled vibes amongst the greenery, happy quotes on the wall and music playing from someones phone. This low-key cafe is a calm spot for local students away from the tourist traps for a tasty coffee.
🍴 Coffee You
After arriving in Hanoi on an overnight train from the boarder town of Lao Cai we rocked up in Hanoi at 5am and in real need of a coffee. This was this first place we stumbled on once we had dropped our bags off at our hotel, it was open and wasn't charging crazy tourist prices.

In the small slither of a cafe, we sat alongside a gradually arriving gang of lovely smiling older ladies who were all coming together for a Saturday morning meetup, basically to have a cup of good coffee and a gossip. We couldn't help but wonder about all of the changes these ladies must have seen during their lives in Hanoi. The coffee from Cafe You hit the spot and the cafe itself was decorated in calming pastel colours with small wooden stalls to perch on. A really happy and welcoming place that would quickly become our regular if we lived in Hanoi!

🍴 Bánh Tráng Trộn
Oh what a wonder street food in Hanoi is. This dish was introduced to us by our new friend Sammi who showed us around the weekend night market in the old town.

Bánh Tráng Trộn is a tasty northern Vietnamese combo of rice paper (bánh tráng) cut up into long slips, green mango, quail eggs, a trio of dried squid, shrimp and beef, garnished with a bunch of coriander and chilli powder. Equal parts chewy and crunchy with a delicious earthy aromatic zing, our new favourite way to enjoy dried meat. 🍴 Cafe Pho Co
This place is definitely a tourist spot with its views over Hoàn Kiếm Lake and favourable write ups in various travel guides it was always bound to attract a load of westerners, but was "one of Hanoi's best-kept secrets" worth the visit?

Well, it was actually an interesting place to go and sip on a refreshing iced coffee. Pho Co was more that hard to find, we tried a few different doorways to find the entrance. Eventually we were pointed in the right direction by a friendly shop owner who seemed like she spent all day directing clueless foreigners to the cafe. We made our cautious way through the silk store, down a narrow alleyway, past someone's front door and out into a lush green paradise of a courtyard. We placed our order for coffee and cake on the ground floor with two nonchalant girls and then made the climb up and up narrow flights of stairs to come out on the hot roof terrace. Locating and getting to this place had been half the experience.

The whole place seemed like someone had hastily hit upon an idea to serve coffee to tourists from their home with a view and that was all. The coffee was nice enough and it was a treat to sample some fresh cake, but the selling point was the sight of the city from up high, the views of the Lake, and to get a perspective on where we were amongst the buzzy bubble of the old town.

🍴 Banh Mi 25
Undoubtedly in more than one top ten tourist guide to 'best banh mi in hanoi' or indeed 'top eats' of the city, Banh Mi 25 is suitably packed with Western diners, leading to a small lag in service, with space at the tiny but cute tables at a premium.

More expensive than other purveyors of this breadular treat, the taste is certainly here and is very potent. There's even the tables come pre-blessed with sriracha sauce. However, the size of these banh mi is somewhat disappointing; their small size also precludes a certain authenticity, with all other banh mi places selling non-small, similar-sized half-baguettes, sold in big bunches at dawn across the city's streets. Top marks for presentation and branding though.

🍴 Aha

This is THE best banh mi we tried in all of Vietnam. Hot, fresh, very cheap and full of punchy flavour this banh mi stall is not to be over looked. We could not get enough for it and even ate it for breakfast on our birthday.

The vegetarian egg banh mi was topped with enough coriander to add a zing to the perfectly fried eggs all spiced up with sweet chilli sauce. The traditional version with pâté and various juicy and just-a-little-bit-fatty sausage meat was just beautiful. The bread here was what made this place a winner, a hefty chunk of french bread stuffed full of tastiness. The staff are very friendly too and in the mornings they give you a free banana to top off your breakfast.

Take a seat at one of the little wooden stalls early in the morning alongside locals grabbing a bite on their way to work or late in the evening with a cold beer and watch the world of Hanoi whizz by and the daily routine of the city go through its motions. Why isn't there an Aha stall at the end of our road in London? WE REALLY NEED ONE!

🍴 Ban Trang Tron
After being introduced us to the tasty heartiness of bánh tráng trộn by Sammi at the night market we went on the hunt to find it again. This place was really not expecting two Westeners to turn up but we did and it was awesome. Hidden up a dark, disappearing staircase, we arrived on the first floor of the building in a stripped-back barely decorated room with customary small plastic furniture for us to dine on.

We managed to order the dish without meat or fish and sat in the rough charm alongside a young couple chatting together next to us. A youthful and stripped back restaurant, it is a place to find out where the young people of Hanoi eat away from the touristy side of the city.

The bánh tráng trộn came mixed and served in a plastic bag placed over a bowl, the basic set up made it equally brilliant. We were handed a pair of scissors to cut up the noodles even more if we wanted to. All this tasty madness for no more than £1. Our one true regret is not trying the quite splendid-looking long-distant relative of pizza, bánh tráng nướng.

🍴 Cong Caphe
Dotted all over Hanoi Cong Caphe has nostalgically captured the spirit and aesthetic of the Viet Cong era. Knowingly designed with details that evoke the old times, staff are dressed in Viet Cong-style uniform, small chairs are covered in canvass and the whole colour theme is guerilla green.

It's fun and a little shocking that this could be such a stylish backdrop for a more than popular hang-out. Locals and tourists can be spotted late into the night grabbing an iced coffee or Hanoi beer (food is served, but not all of the time). This one on a corner in the French quarter is perfectly situated for people-watching.


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