Thursday, 25 May 2017

🐣 INSTUPENDO — PLAY PALETTE

The nebulous wandering sounds at the heart of this track hint at more than just a chilled atmosphere. There is a warmth to this, a ghostly warmth, a warmth of things past and remembered and cherished, something like a loved one coming back to watch over you in their afterlife—almost mournful, almost joyful, this track is clouds pierced by sunlight, sadness sprinkled with glad feelings, it is bittersweetness. It has the touching title of 'play palette' and it was created by instupendo.

Heady nostalgia swirls heavily around the glass sides of this track like a wine saved and savoured. The wonky decaying synth chimes like an ancient musicbox opened and watched and listened to and almost tasted, memories effusing from it, and then the beauty of that piano, dusty and half-dilapidated, the touching ornamentations and flourishes of recollection, the exquisite details of broad emotions. 'play palette' takes us by the hand, driven along by the smart stoic beat, unceasing clean with snapping clarity, the structure of it providing that grounding of reality as the mists of time whirl round our fingers and we try to hold on; the angular frame of the window as we gaze out of it.




πŸ“ 
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🐣 MICRONISM — ENGAGING CAUSELESS MERCY

The muffled roar of rumbling sub-bass, the pulsing vitality of it in organic waves—we could be inside a giant, swallowed up by a gargantuan something and dwelling there. The bio-industrial feeling of the track is evident. The whooshing breeze of sound like the inner workings of this huge being, the organo-mechanical movement of tendons and pneumatics. Acid synth twinkles elastically, delaying and echoing into the distance and creating an illustration of the remote and unfamiliar. The kicks arrive and thud with vigour, heartbeat of these futurist flavours, urgent and interior and solid.

But the alien nature of 'engaging causeless mercy' is remedied by New Zealand musicmaker micronism, balanced by rich chords lilting with horizontal lounge cool, a prescription of chill that quenches the fire flaming in the innards of the gooey magma golem. This new laid-back sound becomes scattered with rhythmic hi-hat shuffling rapidly, rollicking and twisting until the track's finale where the chords become hollower and longer and the beat and other noises fall away and we are left still vibrating still warm from the grand intensity of the track and its unrelenting living body, floating now in this slumbering stream of sound.


  • πŸ”” This track first appeared on micronism's 1998 album, inside a quiet mind"one of New Zealand’s most acclaimed electronic albums" – which was created entirely without computers and only outboard equipment. It has been recently rereleased by Wellington-based label Loop Recordings and can be purchased as a vinyl LP or digitally on Bandcamp.
  • πŸ”” The album was originally released by Kog Transmissions, on a very limited CD-only run, where it was mastered by Chris Chetland. He is also behind this re-mastering. "Somehow or another," says Denver McCarthy (the brain behind micronism), "Chris managed to make it releasable 20 years ago, and now he has given new life to the album by a further smoothing of the edges, and polishing it to a level of shininess where it even sounds good in my ute."
  • πŸ”” fyi: "micronism (plural micronisms). A theoretical microorganism living in the ice or under the surface of Jupiter's ice moon Europa." (Wiktionary).


πŸ“ 
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Wednesday, 24 May 2017

🐣 GLADES — REAL [εˆζΌ” • PREMIERE]

Stomping onto the scene is the pump-action rhythms of 'Real', a frosty frenzy of dancehall flavours and futuristic leanings from Colorado-born New York-dwelling musicmaker Glades or sometimes GLZDES. Overdriven kicks provide necessary fidgeting bounce, icy synths paint spooky gleaming sparklescapes from space operas freeflowing and far off, thin misty lasering sounds that provide sufficient otherworldly ambience. As a sidenote, beginning at 1:22 the pingpong syncopation summons the plinky noises that appear in the theme for Stage 3 of Streets of Rage—recollections empower music.

And amidst the luscious shaker sounds with its textured bristling and the clacking percussion that drive the track forward and lend it a popping atmosphere, the thuddy kicks that help it sway away from the "real real real real real" parts, amidst this and between them is the voice of Yoh, his words distant and whirled in fogs of synth and skipping with jazz inflection and agility.

Glades tells us over email that 'Real' is inspired by "the relationship btw Honesty and Promiscuity." Indeed there are two contrasting facets of the track: the unrelenting faster sections vs. the soft nebulous parts. This duality could be mirroring those conflicting concepts. "In Western culture ~ we don't like to let these coexist," he explains. "We like to demonize, shame... we talk about sexual freedom and like to think we are free sexually as a culture, but I don’t believe that’s true, I don’t believe as a culture that we can handle it emotionally."

'Real' pops with minimalism and intensity, compels with hazy floating sounds and crucial tactile ones, grounded but cloudbound, it's the far-off future where things merge and work together and concepts are as free and flexible as the ones that dream them, a heartgasm of isolation in idealism.


  • πŸ”” 'Real' follows two weeks in the wake of 'Turbulence', another track taken from a forthcoming release called VISCERAL. Glades revealed that all its songs were all like a purge the past few years, the times I could let it all go and be most honest.""Now I realize the best way for us all to live is to be full honest all the time, but I did not know this at the time." The project is due for release on 2nd June.


πŸ“ 
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Friday, 19 May 2017

🐣 ORIGINAL DODGER — MILLIONAIRE FEAT. DAECOLM, P MONEY, DAVINCHE

Before grime came garage, and amidst the forefront of its mainstream popularity was Southampton duo Artful Dodger, brained and piloted by original members Pete Devererux and Mark Hill. Amongst their famous tracks was 'Re-Rewind', which kickstarted the career of Craig David in 1999. However, the moniker itself has since changed hands leaving its founders for "legal reasons" needing to define themselves as Original Dodger for this, their first single together in 15 years. The effortless skitter of the beat, its insectoid shuffle and buzz, fluid and fluent, fast and bustling but whirling easily chilled and free through the track, this garage foundation is the steely stalwart of 'Millionaire'.

And with that the clean bulging bass blossoms subtly below, syncopated and measured the booms of it bounce along with the same rapid rhythm effused by the beat itself. Icicles of synth chime out coldly glittering in their effective and simple grime-ish melody, maybe the influence of featuring grime producer veteran Davinche, this icy sound gleaming as the two-part hook courtesy of up-and-coming London singer Daecolm, his vocal plays out first quick, low, layered and catchy and then slower with a rich balladic tone, aching and weaving through the thicketing beats. Topping it off, it's grime MC P Money in the verse, stoic triumphal muted chords playing as his red carpet, his flow laid-back and competent seeming to stride easy over the skipping beat—"i pick up the mic and leave chilblains / got em baffled when i talk grime."

All this talent and then that message, anti-ostentatious, "I ain't no millionaire" in the hook, not needing to front, being content with yourself, positive and refreshing—and then you remember, like this isn't an ordinary cake but a special one let's say red velvet because when do you ever eat that or imagine any other favourite food but augmented, its best version, but yes: it's the return of the actual Original Dodger.


  • πŸ”” 'Millionaire' is one of eleven productions from Original Dodger's project Soundtrack, scheduled to be released one-by-one throughout summer.


πŸ“ 
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Thursday, 18 May 2017

🐣 RAPHAΓ‹L D'HERVEZ — RÊVES

Until now RaphaΓ«l D'herves was better known as the brain behind French dreampop unit, Pegase, as well as the more electro Minitel Rose, but now he ventures into the music world under his own name, gracing our ears with a luscious debut called 'RΓͺves'. It's the beginning of an ambitious project in which D'hervez aims "mix Christophe (french singer from the 70's), contemporary R&B artist such as Frank Ocean, and classious french production (Air)."

The classious (classy) part is certainly right. The production is elegant, dripping with clarity and distinguished sheen; from the offset of the track it only takes one element to attract and bewitch the listener, and that is the handclap, the clopping delicious dolcelatte unaffected unpretentious untamperedwith handclap. From here, ahh, the jacuzzi satisfaction of those blomglomming heavenly vibraphone, the dusty percussive rasp of the bongo, the deep crisp simple bass groove, the antsy excitement of the shaker's roving rattle. The clear quality of the vocals as they weave catchy melodies throughout, warmly layered in the chorus. The sparkle of electric guitar arpeggios.

And towards the end of the track, the soaring violin, the rising tide of electronics, the glimmering decayed crescendo of it all, provides a magnificent finale to what started off so simply, each instrument each sound slotting in with precision to build the vision of D'hervez. Watching the video for the track, as each instrument gets its well deserved close-up, each one making up this audio treasure trove, you can see the pure love of sound, giving literal ocular illustration for what can be heard well enough: passion for making music.


  • πŸ”” 'RΓͺves' is taken from a forthcoming four-track EP by Raphael D'hervez called L'Oiseau Tonnerre, which literally means "thunder bird", out 2nd June on Nantes-based label FVTVR, of which D'hervez is the founder.
  • πŸ”” The video for 'RΓͺves' was directed by the artist's brother, Tristan D'hervez, filmed at the studio where the EP was recorded. In addition the track features Antonin Pierre on electric and acoustic guitar, Jordane Saunal on violin, with choral vocals supplied by Ana Benabdelkarim.


πŸ“ 
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🐣 COSGROVE — EASTERN CARAVAN

Beginning with magic and majesty, the soft clattering of different elements poised to join together and jam – the reverbing muted rumble of the drums, faroff breeze of cymbal, the bass plucked slowly and poignant in the tense silent air – Cosgrove's track 'Eastern Caravan' is a dream of music, skiffle skittering audio elements blend for an intricate tapestry of different noises, but overall the atmosphere is one of horizontal reclining chill, and of unknown locations only limited by where your imagination can take you—the title suggests something that the band had in mind, but its lonely expansive feel, the focused yet wandering jazz of it all, is a clarion call for conjuring mystical cutscenes.

As the song kicks in proper, the plaintive saxophonic hook twists and meanders over the smart snapping drums that bounce throughout, the rimshots and tom hits and the metallic skiffing of the cymbal, the veil of rhythm that works as the misty mainstay of the track. Guitars that sweep distant distorted chords wait their turn through a bass solo where the beat loses momentum and seems to melt before you, evocative as sliding into warm water, the blues-tinged virtuoso of the guitar crinkling and winding into peals of piano. Emotion abounds, the drums now at their most glimmering glitter sprinkling gold as now the warm tones of the saxophone fall back in and eventually grooving into that first melancholic hook with which the song began. A haze of restrained prodigy, the mastery of creating a sense of otherworldliness truly abounds here.


  • πŸ”” 'Eastern Caravan' is the opening song to Cosgrove's recently released album Volume 1., which you can now purchase from iTunes should you wish to do so.


πŸ“ 
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🐣 RUIDO — INNERVISION

We follow this one through its dusty drums and through its swirling synth pads and through its plumes of smoky desert noise from start to finish in a blissed out chillmenture of analogue sound and minimalist groove. And what a thing to follow, to be sucked into, what a thing to wash away like soothing white noise the craggy escarpments of the mind and lure you into a cyclical nowhere, no-thought, just simple music and motion. This is 'Innervision', the debut track from London musicmaker Ruido, as basic as monotone, as gloomy greyscale but also as stark and effective.

And it's warm. It's a warm journey. How at first the sounds seem cold and hollow but how over the duration of the track it transforms from lonesome sound to a fuzzy blanket, a comforting beatscape. We are warmed first and foremost by its rich sounds, its lavish textured synth chords, secondly by its gloopsome columns of bass toppled and bulging bounce beneath the steady house heartpump of the beat. Thirdly, how the piano, the loops of piano, play out a melody fluttering of a rainy city sky at night with the droplets caught dreary drizzle in dim streetlights, but how simultaneously this warms with its muffled tones. 'Innervision' is an introspective jam, a detached weary wide-eyed soundscape, the watchful gaze of yourself on yourself as you attempt to fathom your own thoughts.


  • πŸ”” Ruido's wonderful track arrives courtesy of Bristol label Fly Boy, and it's also available to download for free so that's nice.


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Wednesday, 17 May 2017

🐣 LIAM.M — TON

The rich sheen of sounds at work in 'Ton' by Brisbane-based musicmaker Liam.M is a soothing reflection of chilled fluffycloud skies, calm coastal drives as the sun retreats beyond the sea, beyond the beach. Almost melancholy in its end-of-day majesty, the track seems to soar with emotive spectres of shimmering sound amidst thickets of synth, vocals rear up and call plaintively into an indigo sunset, a cafΓ© del mar-esque special, drops of white sun glitter-glitter on sliding waves as people take their reclining position in readiness for the onset of dusk—the bummed-out-ness of light leaving vs. the beauty of that occurrence. Day/Night. Life/Death.

The beat propels us forward, a driving simply thudding beat with snare fills that smash their way through the slow motion momentum of the track. It's augmented and ornamented by luscious delicious percussion clanks and clatters throughout, clop-clicking like parts of a machine, which at 01:45 join the glimmer phasing brightness of the track and its softly booming bass, the beat falling away, the sound alone washing its atoning atmosphere over your ears. The rifling synth sounds, that hi-pitched golden element, is key in its wonderfulness, sounding like an enhanced sort of stringed Mediterranean instrument, helping to set the scene for this rustic organic slice of sound, this super-chilled yet well grounded illustration of beauty and its passing, and the mono no aware sense of pathos, the welling-eyes happy-sadness in that very thought.


  • πŸ”” More from the "20 year old producer and Music Tech student" can be found over at his SoundCloud.


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🌭 THINGS THAT ARE TASTY — GUILIN

Ah, China, a true land of food. Provinces and regions with distinct and diverse specialities, combinations of cultures, centuries of developing delicacies and handed-down family recipes have meant that this vast and historical land has a wealth of offerings when it comes to chowing down on ultimate food delights.

China often gets bad press when it comes to food. In the the UK, for instance, Chinese takeaways are popular weekend treats and lead people to believe that the often greasy, MSG-infused carbon-copy menu items are what constitutes Chinese food. Unfortunately these establishments do not exactly convey the gobsmacking spectrum of food that makes up edible China. On the other hand, legendary food items like chicken's feet, dog, and embryonic chicken eggs lead to a misconceived idea that actual native Chinese food is all kinds of disgusting peppered with weird. Travelling in China is truly a food odyssey and it was in Guilin where this culinary adventure really began.

Guilin, like many places throughout the endless foodular landscape of China, enjoys a selection of municipal specialities—these include the breakfasty guilin mi fen ζ‘‚ζž—η±³η²‰ (Guilin rice noodles), sweet CNY-associated fa gao η™Όη²Ώ (sponge cake) and tea-soup-cereal fusion, you cha 油茢 (oil tea). It's easy to not walk into many places in China if you can't read and/or converse in Mandarin, so it was that many, many things passed us by. Well, it's not as if we could've covered every establishment, but over the few days we spent in this city we managed to find at least a few things that were tasty.

🍴 Street Food
There are all types of ingenious food stall constructions and contraptions all across Asia: carts laden with specialised local delicacies are pushed, pulled and peddled along pavements, selling generations-old delicious delights, unbelievable and inconceivably appetising combinations of age-old snacks. We stopped off at one of these food stalls, lured in by the sizzle of something probably tasty frying, and by the vast vats of vegetables. Pointing at a pancake and handing over a few pennies was the limit of our Chinese communication. Filled with a sort of chilli oil-infused crunchy-chewy mixture, this hot and stodgy crΓͺpe-esque pancake called jianbing η…Žι€… was covered in green onions and filled a hole on our walk to Guilin bus station. We purchased some watermelon in this fashion too. 🍴 Kali Mirch Indian Cuisine
Tucked away behind the Sheraton Guilin down a small sidelane we found Kali Mirch. Apparently a top pick on TripAdvisor, with one reviewer claiming that it was "best restaurant in Guilin." Whilst that is a wild claim, we felt this place had to be a Western traveller-magnet for a reason so we gave it a go. The food, cooked by an Indian chef, tasted fresh and exhibited a depth of spice. Being from the UK where curry comes in a spectrum from takeaway norm to splendidly authentic, we like to think we have a little understanding of what good curry tastes like. What we tried here, a daal and a vegetable curry, complete with rice and naan, really hit the spot in a flavoursome way. The ability to choose how spicy you want your dish means good things for spicephobes and spice-maniacs alike. Set in a quiet environment right on the edge of food stall madness, Kali Mirch is owned and operated by a friendly, well travelled guy from Darjeeling and his Chinese wife who let us off 10 yuan when we ran out of cash. We went back the next day to pay them back though because we are so honest. If we lived in Guilin this would be a regular dinner spot. Fyi Kali is destroyer of evil, devourer of time; mirch is Hindi for chilli.

In Chinese this restaurant is known as ι»‘θƒ‘ζ€’ε°εΊ¦ι€εŽ… (Black Pepper Indian Restaurant). Here is its location according Baidu Maps. 🍴 Nissi Station ε°Όθ₯Ώι©Ώη«™
Situated away from the main tourist area, though still close enough, this is one of those places to just simply sit, eat, drink and relax. Nissi Cafe serves a good strong cup of coffee and a cup of proper English tea. We ingested a nice attempt at a cheese and tomato sandwich, and an even better attempt at a tuna salad sandwich, both lightly toasted. Chilled environment, friendly staff, cutely designed interior. A teensy bit more pricey than average, but for a good cause—a percentage taken from the price of each menu item went help improving the lives of children in villages around the area.

Here is its location on Google Maps. And for good measure, here it is on Baidu. 🍴 Nengren Temple Vegetarian buffet 能仁斋馆
An all-you-can-eat buffet brings to mind visions of gross gluttony and greasy food, but it does not have to be that way. Take yourself to the Nengren Temple temple at around 6pm and be greeted by a colourful array of Chinese vegetarian delights. Don't be scared of walking through the temple grounds and into the restaurant inevitably packed with hungry locals who've popped in for a hearty dinner on their way home from work: the staff are really friendly here in the restaurant that is run by and in some respects for the monks. Pay your 27 yuan per person, get yourself a plate and get eating. There are so many different mock meats and versions of Chinese dishes from the region that you can enjoy without having to worry about what meat is in the broth or if there are bones. The buffet includes soups, juices, tea, dumplings, baozi, a noodle station, a gourmet station and delicious desserts, including the aforementioned fa gao. It's a very good way to try a bit of a lot of foodstuffs if you're scared of locals places or if you don't eat meat. It's clean, traditional and local. As we waddled out stupidly full, past the monks performing their evening ceremony, we did get to questioning if an all-you-can-eat buffet can ever be truly Buddhist but we were too focused on the food we'd just eaten to come to a conclusion.

You'll find this place at the south end of Guihu Lake on the side opposite the city centre. Google Maps / Baidu. 🍴 Taiwanese restaurant 台湾牛炇
Going here was a complete shot in the dark since we were quite hungry and walked in without much consideration, but it turned out to be a good choice. As we walked in, an old couple vacated outside and we were warmly greeted by a smiley girl and shown to a couple of stools at one of the two counters running the length of the place. Next to us children were preoccupied with eating a packed lunch whilst getting an English lesson. The girl serving us spoke English, which was helpful. Though there was nothing vegetarian on the menu, she asked what we liked and suggested some fried noodles and vegetables. We also ordered tainan lu rou fan 台南滷肉ι₯­ aka comforting classic Taiwanese dish pork mince over rice, Tainan-style, served with a braised egg as well as cabbage and fried onions. Both were huge tasty portions for little money (the pork, for example, was 10¥ for small, 15¥ for medium, 20¥ for "bigger"). Free tea. The owner is Taiwanese and we ascertained that he was the male part of the older couple that had moved outside when we first walked in. He and his wife smiled and nodded to us as we left. Recommended. The name in Chinese means something like Taiwanese stewed beef.

It remains elusive with regards to an official location on any maps but it's roundabout here. For Baidu Maps, it's sort of around a similar place. 🍴 This Old Place International Youth Hostel
Sometimes, after a day of walking around a city, in the evening for dinner you might want something easy, simple and cheap. Something familiar and comforting. This Old Place serves up reasonably priced oven-cooked pizzas that can be enjoyed on their rooftop terrace with a view of the famous karst mountain scenery. This was also our accommodation so it was a convenient thing.

Here it is on Google Maps and also on Baidu Maps 🍴 Moma Cake ζ‘©ηŽ›θ›‹η³•ι£Ÿε°š
Bakeries in Asia sell an often absurd selection of cakes and delights. Moma Cake in the centre of the city serves up strange mixes of European classics interpreted in a Chinese way. We stopped by for a much-needed coffee and picked out a flaky pastry-slash-sesame-bun stuffed with frankfurter sausages and some sweet French toast topped with cheese. This is bizarre baking that works.

Find it on Zhongshan Middle Road δΈ­ε±±δΈ­θ·―; that's here on Baidu Maps, or less accurately at this spot on Google Maps. 🍢 Erguotou δΊŒι”…ε€΄
The name means "second distillation" and for that reason this alcohol is strong and pure. Specifically, what we purchased was one of the famous brands for producing erguotou δΊŒι”…ε€΄, which is Niulanshan (牛栏山). It is a type of "white liquor" (η™½ι…’ baijiu) made from sorghum, a plant similar to wheat but gluten-free, great for anybody wanting a grainy alcoholic experience with none of the wheat-intolerant side-effects. It's 56% abv and it's an affordable way to become inebriated. We utilised cans of guava soda as mixer and sat on our rooftop drinking, enjoying sunsets over the pointy karst peaks, blabbering to each other well into the night.

We discovered this in a convenience store called 华荣θ‡ͺ选商店 near where we were staying. For your interest here is its location on Google Maps, and now on Baidu. πŸ‘Ž Things that aren’t tasty
Not strictly untasty because we didn't get to try what "famed" vegetarian restaurant Yueya Lou has to offer. After a thirty minute walk through town from our hostel, along the busy rush hour streets and past amongst other things a six year old relieving herself right in the middle of the pavement, we came to the entrance of qi xing gong yuan δΈƒζ˜Ÿε…¬ε›­ (Seven Star Park) where the vegetarian restaurant was situated. But we found, in classic Chinese tourism make-money-out-of-everything way, the park cost 70 yuan to enter (£8!). Needless to say we are cheap and didn't bother.



The Yes/No Things That Are Tasty food quest continues as we travel further into China! What seriously tasty food will we eat next? A cocktail of curiosity, money, laziness and fear will take us there.

☟ What we ate / What Guilin is famous for ☟
guilin mi fen ζ‘‚ζž—η±³η²‰ (guilin rice noodles)fa gao η™Όη²Ώ (sponge cake)qingzheng lijiang yu ζΈ…θ’ΈζΌ“ζ±Ÿι±Ό (steamed li river fish)
bisa 比萨 (pizza)lipu yutou kou rou θ”ζ΅¦θŠ‹ε€΄ζ‰£θ‚‰ (lipu taro and pork loaf)you cha 油茢 (oil tea)
yangshuo pijiu yu ι˜³ζœ”ε•€ι…’ι±Ό (yangshuo beer fish)erguotou δΊŒι”…ε€΄ (strong alcohol)sanmingzhi δΈ‰ζ˜Žζ²» (sandwich)
jianbing η…Žι€… (fried pancake)lu rou fan 滷肉ι₯­ (minced pork over rice)

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

🐣 RENΓ‰ — I.N.T.O.

The voice of London singer RENÉ in her latest track is a revelation. Silken smooth it effortlessly navigates low notes almost purring as it resonates delving deep and then rising high lilting with accents and ornaments, trilling and sliding with satin sheen from one line to the next. Alone, her voice reverbs lonesomely into the distance, stark and beautiful, but layered as in the second verse (from 01:05) it's a slice of Destiny's Child-leaning R&B jam, rich and elastic and winding rhythmically to the clattering beat, a dark and futuristic instrumental leading us forwards with angular twists and turns.

Weaving with the vocals is a sultry synth that melts between fizzing trebles and muted lows in a pulsing flutter that veils RENÉ's voice and the track in an atmosphere of cyclical longing. This cuts out in the chorus, when the vocals sing out "Cause I'm not the one..." shining and sirenlike, room to breathe with this lull in the synth. And that starkness is played out with the collage of percussion in the beats, booming bass kick, clacking snares, ticking hi-hats, glassy metallic sounds, all of it rattling and stuttering in arhythmic glitch, a hint of grime in the darkness of it, in this sharp beat and in the lone overdriven kicks of the bridge. This keen sense of hazy minimalism allows for a distinct focus on RENÉ herself, and her voice, the lavish tone of it, rhythm, melody, all of it a gratifying intoxicating blend of heart, soul and vocal chords.




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Monday, 15 May 2017

🐣 BAKALIS — REGAL

On this bed of lo-fi grandeur Maryland rapper Bakalis spreads a rhythmic rapid-fire flow, crowding the aching slow beat with thickets of heartfelt words, a seeming contrast to the laid-back instrumental as much as vibrant splashes of oil paint on a hazy wash of watercolours. The lyrics chart ambition, hard work and self-belief, the vocals skipping acrobatically from syllable to syllable, sometimes rising to a crescendo of passion at the end of a bar, as in the glittering hazy intro: "but what's a spotlight to some blind eyes / feel like i'm in a dog fight to survive i / ain't been missing sleep just to achieve a couple high fives"—and then the beat of 'Regal' kicks in like a slice of slow-dance introspective vaporwave, corroded and crackling yet emotive and emblematic.

Guitar like a far-off wolf howling plays a lamenting melody throughout, muted chimes glimmer above indistinct rumbles of bass, the beat itself, distorted and decayed, thudding dusty kicks and abrasive handclap-snare combo and shuffling shaking hi-hats drags itself slow fatigued, all of it contrasts the delivery whilst simultaneously providing an unexpected mirror the lyrics: these are the slow steps of the sleepy, the tired mind and body of someone focusing all their energy, the soundtrack to sleepless nights. There is a lonely feel, especially in that lilting almost Hawaiian-style guitar, but also in the general haze of the track, a neurotic and nocturnal heavy-eyes-staring atmosphere.

ut still, in the adversity of graft and grind and taking it day by day, the gradual climb to the heights of recognition and beyond, there is confidence: "got tabasco in my suitcase / cause i bring the heat everywhere that i go / got em pleading me please don't show up at my show." This is a wonderful illustration, sonically and lyrically, of the internal struggle between doubt and belief, weakness and strength, and against fear, when chasing a dream.


  • πŸ”” The beat has been created by Task* with additional production by Marvillous Beats.
  • πŸ”” 'Regal' is taken from Bakalis' new project, a mixtape, EP, album, who knows, out 3rd June.


πŸ“ 
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Friday, 12 May 2017

🐣 XANDER — OURGARDEN

One of our favourite things is when an instrumental track has descriptive title and the track itself is highly evocative of that title. So, like a track mentioning 'aquatic' in its title sounding like a good underwater theme. Now here we are talking about themes like we're talking about videogames – because that music specifically has to fit the surroundings, has to immerse you in the game. And while we're on the subject, the first thing highschooler xander's luscious track 'ourgarden' called to mind is the DK's Jungle Parkway theme from Mario Kart 64, with all the polyrhythmic marimba and ambient tropical life bristling in the background.

The tapestry of sound at work in xander's track, the skittering percussion and synth glitchings, illustrates the constant bustling life of a jungle, that's for sure. But for the track to be called 'ourgarden' – alluding to a relationship – and the track itself to be so wild and jostling in its sound, suggests something not as peachy or ordered as a literal garden but something darker, uncontrollable, unknowable. And then with the faint turmoil of the trappish beat with its slow pulse and thudding kicks and muted dramatic cymbal crashes, adds extra inner anguish to the track and its myriad organic adornments. That longing, begging vocal whispering "I love you so much..." during a break in the beats, nearly inaudible, almost menacing. The beauty of this track is as exquisitely deceptive as its title: the garden is not a garden—something looms in the lush undergrowth.


  • πŸ”” More lovely music from xander can be downloaded from his Bandcamp.


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🐣 SEDRIC PERRY — WILD [εˆζΌ” • PREMIERE]

It's an intoxicating sound in this one by Philadelphia-raised Sedric Perry and it's all down to the song's centrepiece, where the vocals lilt in luscious languor—layers upon layers of vocals in a millefeuille of warm harmonies. In 'Wild', where glossy kicks boom with sub-bass gloop and ticking clanking percussion skitters indistinctly creeping across the soundscape, the vocals are undoubtedly the star, the bedrock of the track as much as its ornamentation; over the soft satiny choral waves, Perry sends his own voice fluttering, rising, swooping through the increasingly heated clamour, where a crescendo of shredded peals of guitar crests, courtesy of Marcus Machado, whilst the kicks' pulse quickens and quivers.

Inspired by "Gregorian Chant music," and recorded in a Columbia dorm room, 'Wild' is "the story of the aftermath of a drug raid gone wrong, leaving two insatiable lovers pained from two years apart in separate prisons," Perry told us. You can imagine that raid taking place slow-motion as the song begins, and as it intensifies the aching vocals reflect this longing, a languishing atmosphere broils the sound in an anxious haze, those kicks boom-booming restlessly, the separated lovers together only in their distress and disquiet. In this slice of music, the swirling colours evoked by those layered vocals, that kaleidoscope of images easily flashes through your mind—it's a vessel of imagination and progressive songmaking based very wonderfully on the original instrument: voice.


  • πŸ”” Go to Sedric Perry's SoundCloud to peep previous releases, like 'Nubian Dream' for instance.


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Sedric Perry Internet Presence ☟
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Thursday, 11 May 2017

🐣 MOON BOOTS — THE LIFE AQUATIC

Diving right into the watery depths now is Moon Boots, whose latest track 'The Life Aquatic' is alive with liquid-leaning sounds, a sensation of floating through an undersea expanse, the mystery and panic of below the waves illustrated with just a few simple elements. Keeping momentum, bravery as the light is almost dim around you, a well crafted kick drum thuds through it all with sheafing hi-hats shaking alongside, a thin snare counting down the time you've been in this submarine world. An arpeggio of modulating synth, sometimes soft and muted, other times sharp and abrasive, plays a bubblesome melody, supplemented by steel drum pings at certain points, the notes shifting dramatically with a baroque chord change, lending a sense of majestic urgency, of being very small in a very big place.

Downcast almost gloomy synth javelins through with ambience, laserlike, futuristic, reflecting the alien nature of our obscure oceans—according to the USA's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, humans have explored only 5% of this territory, though it makes up 70% of the earth's surface. It might as well be a different galaxy. Further allusions to the secretive seas are made in the synth vox that seems to call into the distance, illustrating the vast underwater world with reverb fizzling into the furthest stretches of vision in the big blue of it all.

Perhaps being titled 'The Life Aquatic' (probably named after that film) helps with all this imagery, but still the track suits it very well, you can imagine the slow-moving wetsuited diver in the cover art above, uncovering unknown places in the deep, fear as much as wonder summoned in the glorious melody that does not cut out or fade out but achingly beautifully slows down, the ending of a symphony, halting with realisation: is it a marvel of a discovery or unimaginable peril that looms in that final note?




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🐣 SAMPHA — (NO ONE KNOWS ME) LIKE THE PIANO [LTMR REMIX]

The straight-from-the-soul beauty of Sampha's single '(No One Knows Me) Like The Piano', taken from his debut LP Process, gets a sunny reworking courtesy of Philadelphia resident LTMR. What this stands for is a mystery; acronymfinder.com suggests Less Talk, More Rock or – my favourite – Long-Term Multilineage Repopulating. But we're not here for acronyms—we're here for this remix, which crackles with vintage warmth, to where LTMR leads us, through a breezy garden sprinkled with birdsong, into this room heavy with nostalgia and resonating with dusty piano chops and heartfelt vocals, light filtering in through half-open windows.

It's the original alright, but sped-up, taken up a gear and bumped by the thud of a beat, a gratifying sidechain softly pockmarking the proceedings. Raw metallic hi-hats shiver along with it, galloping to the beat as the original track plays out in its new casing, one that highlights the loving touch on the piano keys in particular. Parts of LTMR's remix feature vocal and piano chopped with scalpel precision, strewn over a new smartly clacking beat with the snap of snare starting and the kicks ba-bump ba-bump heartbeat swing creating a sway of rhythm in this breezy atmosphere. We leave through the garden again, blue sky, birds chirping, feeling better for having heard this, a soul-cleanse, and then walking into the life of spring and the uplift of nature.




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Tuesday, 9 May 2017

🐣 MICHL — WASTE?

Dynamic plays a big part in this new one from LA singer Michl. It swings like a galactic pendulum between the soft synths of the verse, its sparse beat with miniature percussion clicks, and the chorus, a swaying segment of the song that's sultry with wide rich synths and the harplike glittering sweeps of sound that give it a heavenly feeling. 'Waste?' questions ourselves, exhibits doubt; in the verse the synths grow and bulge and play in different patterns when Michl croons, "So what's next?"—in the second verse a pulse of synth bass begins to rumble at this juncture. Questions arise, unanswered, and send us into the exquisite disquiet of the chorus, where the snares clack and the hi-hats shuffle-swing, each one a sonic shrug, unable to answer the question of whether or not everything will go to waste, the synth shivering around it anxiously in the wake of this big question mark.

Michl's singing in the verse, lilting and beautifully treated by the space in between the sounds that cradles his voice, his vocals are also rhythmic, which is part of which makes this song so instantly likeable. The metre is verging on that in which Shakespeare wrote his plays, iambic pentameter, a rhythmic way of speaking where there are 10 syllables written in pairs, unstressed-stressed. However, in 'Waste?' this is shaken up. For instance: "i can't push this barrel any farther" is the other way round. We have then "cause every single step is getting harder" which is iambic, but there are 11 and not 10 syllables. And in the pre-chorus, "can anyone repair the mess we've made?"—this line is iambic, and follows the chords that play behind it.

This rhythm, like a heartbeat – de-DUM de-DUM – is naturally easy to follow, but by adding and subtracting syllables, stressing it backwards, the followable is subtly changed and sticks out, catching the listeners' attention. The point of this? Michl writes them well, that's what.




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Monday, 8 May 2017

🐣 SHUNYA — MOUNTAIN GAZER

Atmospheric, chilled, this is a Romantic piece of swaying electronica crossed with actual instruments, a morsel of music as stark and fresh as a cold Spring day with the sun out and the sky blue dotted with white tufts of cloud. It comes from Irish musicmaker Alan Keary aka Shunya, who adds the muted glitter of plucked guitar and soaring lilts of violin freely; flute, chilled and jazz-tinged, blows through airily, and saxophone adds peals of soul later on, a whole host of tones and timbres, representing the very non-uniform variety of mountain slopes and escarpments. This Bonobo-flavoured track is called 'Mountain Gazer'.

Succulent percussion layered and rich clicks and tick-tocks sumptuously, providing that texture like a stream rippletrickling around rocks and breezed leaves sheafing and rustling together creaking trees footsteps crunch-scraping on pathway gravel all at once—lovely organic instinctual noises. The explosive handclaps, thuds, clunking noises, snare hits, hi-hats, rainsticks, shakers, all of this adds its rhythmic ambience to the wavy segments of sidechained sound, the rumble of bass and warm chords, fading in and out. This sonic scenery, its mix of instruments, the culmination of it all, feels just like the detached drama of looking at a mountain landscape—ridges into the distance, peaks into the sky, between the green earth and vaulting blue.


  • πŸ”” This track comes from Shunya's Mountain Gazer pt.2 EP, available for listening and purchasing on Bandcamp.


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🐣 BLACK FLY — SIGN 2

In an instant it's a realisation that the simple thump of the beat, thick behind the creeping electronics of it all, gives 'Sign 2' a robust uncrackable foundation. This beat ballast bumps below steadily allowing the real rhythm of the track to be in the colliding melody of the synth, sharp yet muted like a dull kitchen knife; here is the hook, in the syncopation of these notes, the coherence in their uncomplicated pattern, transferable with ease from ears to fidgeting feet. Like the constant of big desolate landscapes depicted in the video for the track, directed by Black Fly himself and in which the viewer sees him dancing, so too in the actual music do the electronics skip and skitter on a big digestible backdrop. The bass guitar also provides uncluttered rhythmic direction.

But alongside this sensibility for movement is mayhem, goth-flavoured in taste and with hints of noise. The vocals growl, almost purring, in the verse, hovering just above and below monotone in a stoic procession, rising emotively in the choruses. And post-chorus the electronics become more intense, quench the ears' thirst for more and more noise, gratify with white noise abrasive whirling in this new sonic gale and the gravity of it increased with zigzagging synth arpeggio fierce and piercing and trance-like. These saw-tooth endeavours add elemental difference to what is certainly not a simple electropop song—there's a keen desire to exhibit darkness, to mix shuffling shoes and introverted expressionism, a howling wall-of-noise you can move to.


  • πŸ”” 'Sign 2' is the Vermont, USA-based Black Fly's second single (the first is called 'I Don't Know'). Both of them were mixed by David Tolomei, who has also mixed tracks for Beach House and Future Islands.


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Black Fly Internet Presence ☟
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Friday, 5 May 2017

🌏 VISITS — GUILIN


Endless jutting rocks reach skyward in ripples of otherworldly scapes, shining glimmers of paddy fields glow green on the vast flat land that enshrines the karsts. Here amidst the toothy spires lies Guilin, a city of over four million living in the shadow of its own ancient natural scenery.
We witnessed these serrated peaks against a hazy sunset as our train rocketed in across the land from Guangzhou to Guilin. The city itself is a tourist magnet. The natural landscape, targeted for protection as a priority project by China's State Council in 1981, attracts a torrent of backpackers along with thickets of domestic tourists who all seem to congregate around the central point of Zhengyang Pedestrian Street. We quickly realised that we would have to spend a sizeable sum to see the city's sight-seeing contrivances, such as Elephant Hill, the Xi Qing Scenic Area, and the brightly lit Reed Flute Caves.

Instead, we decided that we were in China to see and learn what the quickly changing country has to offer, and to take in, organically, the beauty of the natural landscape. The rough and real city of Guilin remains unfamiliar and unexplored. Tenuous turns down intriguing alleyways and chance looks around the next corner meant that this beguiling city would reveal itself in a totally different way. We found where the tourists do not roam as we stumbled through the doors of the Ba Gui Da Sha Mall ε…«ζ‘‚ε€§εŽ¦ on a walk around town. The mall was old, worn and tatty—a vision of an exciting shopping centre once shiny and new, built in some boom 20 or so years ago, now long-forgotten by the investing national chains and exited by shiny youth brands. Local entrepreneurs have been left here to keep watch over their local dreams. Clapped-out escalators connect three floors of outlets. Fashion shops, phone shops, tattoo parlours, jewellery stands. Shop owners perch on small tables slurping at soups for sustenance, puffing on chains of cigarettes, chatting friendly to their fellow shop ladies and giving us intrigued bewildered glances as we ambled by. It was not a dismal atmosphere: this is a place where locals shop for dresses for nights out, where nail appointments for the week are made.

Descending the steps down into the underground shopping street through thick strips of industrial freezer curtains seemed as if we were leading ourselves into a world of smokey doom, but we kept going, pushing aside the PVC and stepping in. It was worth it. One should spend more time than feels comfortable down here, navigating the stuffy, smelly shops of a subterranean Chinese shopping experience. It is dreamily dreary, dystopian, gloriously grimy; adults gambled with cards whilst children made the dingy space their playground, working and living in dim constricted corridors. We felt like intruders. Turns in the length of tunnels took us to tattoo parlours where needles buzzed in the darkness, and where retailers reclined immortally, a Shangri-La of otherworldly observations. The people of this subterranean shopping world are obliviously fantastic, throwing subversive side-eyes as pale western faces bobbed like cartoons into their vision. Demolition Man-esque enclaves of everyday existence, the underground walkways that run the length of the road from Guilin train station towards an unknown end point are where the heart of Guilin beats. Back above ground in the open air, fresh food is sold from market-style shacks down side streets where old ladies sit sleepily and watch from high windows. Bright fruit and vegetable stalls invite browsers to wander further down roads to stalls where live chickens clucking in cages are sold to order, slabs of carcasses and sacks of rice and grains are refreshed and renewed daily, stall owners sit in the same positions as ever, dozing behind newspapers and neatening their goods. The people of Guilin get their food here, probably have done for ages. In stark opposition to our local explorations, where things like public urination and homeless men in ragged clothes aren't an oddity, is the pedestrianised tourist street. It’s eternally busy, gimmicky and jostling with souvenir shops that seem to be on loop. The bars are popular with holidaymakers and there’s a packed street food area where you’ll find meaty food stalls alongside restaurants vying to fill your stomach. In the quieter peripheries of this area we discovered a batch of cute stationary shops, like Biku 笔库 for instance, where we joined schoolgirls in cooing over the kawaii-ness of everything.

Nearby, with perfectly manicured with bridges and a quaint tea house, the Riyue Shuangta Cultural Park ζ—₯ζœˆεŒε‘”ζ–‡εŒ–ε…¬ε›­ is nice for a stroll on a warm afternoon. Nice, pleasant, you know. In the evening the Sun (ζ—₯ε‘”) and Moon (ζœˆε‘”) Twin Pagodas that sit proudly on Shanhu Lake are illuminated and glow in the reflection of the waters. The central area of Guilin, known as ‘Two Rivers and Four Lakes Scenic Spot’, some of which is man-made, includes Li River, Taohua River, Mulong Lake, Guihu Lake, Ronghu Lake and Shanhu Lake. It has undergone years of development and as a result is clean and safe, however such is the number of parks and riverside walks and canals that it's a struggle to see everything on offer. Ultimately the true star of the show is the karst backdrop that stands stunning and stoic on the outskirts. It was sat up three stories high on the laid-back, bare-bones roof terrace of our hostel that the karsts came to life and spoke to us. The sun began to set and colour the sky in its daily ritual, winds of coolness blew across the mountains and over us as we sat and sipped on a cold end-of-the-day Li Quan beer. The mountains stretched out across the mystifying distance and seemed to come so close we could almost feel them and their time and the solitude and this history they had seen and the lives that had lived in this ancient country. The sun streamed through the slats between the curves of the hunks of tall land and rippled off the surface of Guihu Lake, magnifying the mountains and their presence in this city. High above the noise of the loaded tour boats and rambling sightseer market, a peaceful appreciation of the mountains greeted us in the evening, sat up three stories high watching the land change colour over a beer in Guilin.


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  • πŸ”” Guilin This Old Place International Youth Hostel, double room £12 (108CNY)
    Far from what you might imagine a youth hostel to be, but with the friendly relaxed vibe of one, this accommodation was clean, with large double and twin rooms designed with modern touches. For instance, a TV loaded with films (most in Chinese, but it was cool to see Disney's Mulan actually in Chinese). Dormitories, of course, and multi-room family suites available too. And – downstairs anyway – the internet connection gives access to Facebook and all your other favourite blocked sites. Upstairs it's Baidu and Xinhua. Great pizza. Especially when you eat it on that rooftop we've been going on about. Dumpling nights on Tuesdays for guests to get together and meet and mingle and whatever it is you do.