Friday, 21 July 2017

🐣 CYANURA — SPLASH

There is a wholesome realness in this track that makes it difficult to not bring your other senses along for the ride: skin tingles and warms, mouth and tongue seems to anticipate flavours and textures of tasty food, visions of a natural world elsewhere swirl like mists into your mind. Combining the sounds of outside, the sounds of nature with its luscious crunches and the inviting glory of water sloshing and soothing, combining these with the sounds of indoors, the ultimate indside sounds in the form of synths that bleep simple and videogame-esque or resonate rounded and glassy with artificial digital perfection, Vancouver musicmaker cyanura transports us to wherever we most associate these sounds, a lake shore, the ocean, a boat, a riverside, a tropical island—where there's water, there 'splash' is.

With a big emphasis on foley – that is, creating sound effects or in this case instruments by effectively sampling real life sounds – cyanura serves up a bustling collage of percussion that gives this song its rich textural dimensions, that all-senses effect where the clean clicks and clops tapping and popping in the track feel like different hard sweets: it is quite literally delicious. We have the crunch of footsteps, the dry shuffle of sheafing through pages of a book, reverbing finger clicks, distant hi-hats, tiny rolling snares—a percussive playground. It almost overshadows the beautiful plaintive melodies of the track, a modern day pastoral, the childlike nature of it summoning a deep sense of fun and nostalgia associated with fun and the places where it can be had. Idyllic is the word.


  • πŸ”” This beautiful track is cyanura's first to be uploaded so keep an eye on their SoundCloud.


πŸ“ 
cyanura Internet Presence ☟
soundcloudtwitter


🐣 TOUCH SENSITIVE — PIZZA GUY

There is something instantly classic in this track, something that is instantly gratifying, a dose of familiarity with just enough unfamiliar infused, a sound an atmosphere that virtually lives in our collective memories with the easy sway afforded by the clean bouncing syncopated synth bass throughout, with the clonking stabs of piano chord that summon a resurging era of yesteryear, kicking up dust and giving this track the raw organic feel that effuses from real instruments like that, the sweating bodies hot skin real life humans on the other side of the speakers, a sense of sensual reality also rising from those vocals: "Why don't we lay down for a while?" The poetry in this simplicity is too much to bear: the electric charge behind those words, what it suggests as a situation, what preceded, what follows, it quivers carnally.

Australian musicmaker Touch Sensitive has certainly evoked something in 'Lay Down', that is for sure. Lyrically, because language is what we understand, but also in the warm crowded varying layers of the vocal, the aching reminiscence of the melody, the repetition of "lay down for a while" calling to mind some unnamable nostalgia—and then that shivering falsetto. And next to all this human organicity is of course the synthetic, the neon chords that fade in and out towards the end, the French touch splat and thud of the beat, the construction of it all, its artificiality, desperate desire for closeness in closed quarters, in private, spinning mantra-like in this track that both suits and evokes public dancing places, where you are alone in a crowd, an internal juxtaposition that combined with its timeless retro appeal gives 'Lay Down' a sense of tragic beauty, a yearn for something that was never there.


  • πŸ”” The very fitting video for 'Lay Down', decidedly of a different era with its flashing fonts and collages of dancing 3DCGI objects and imagery – and directly inspired by Prince's lyric video for 'Sign 'O The Times' – was directed by Lost Art with the 3D bits created by Melbourne-based Adam Parata.
  • πŸ”” 'Lay Down' is the latest single by Touch Sensitive released by Sydney-based record label Future Classic. You can purchase and stream the track variously if you click upon this link right here.


πŸ“ 
Touch Sensitive Internet Presence ☟
facebooksoundcloudtwitterinstagram


🐣 Γ„TSCH — UP

What really is surprising about this track is how it sounds like a variation on a theme of Bert Bacharach's smooth 'What The World Needs Now', its introduction fogged with those reminiscent chords, soft and lounge-leaning, a lull of resting heart-rate and horizontal chill. It is not exactly reflective of the track as a whole, nor the heart of the track, but it is a component of what this instrumental journey is all about—and that is drama. So this intro, the heartfelt touching sweetness of it, a trough of energy, soon builds with a flying formation of acrobatic distorted guitar into a peak, the concoction of it soon towering and vibrating all around you cinematic and atomic.

There's a great point in 'Up' where the Dublin-based band Γ„TSCH, having already skipped up some gears via new zooming tempos and cascading drums that skiffle and shimmer sharply and a storm of bass, where it all joins together in-sync and wonderful, jumping into staccato patterns at 03:05, locking in gloriously and falling away for the drums again to roll tornadoes into the proceedings, and the virtuoso guitar wailing now with jazz freedom furious rapid lightning in the crashing noise of it all. And we end where we began, the gentle piano chords resonating quietly, framing this dramatic sojourn of sound, this ascension into the clouds and somewhere beyond.




πŸ“ 
Γ„TSCH Internet Presence ☟
facebooksoundcloud


🐣 VENESSAMICHAELS — AFTER HOURS

Here we are in a world where past and future meet, a teetering limbo of a place that pops with pastel lightness, bold bass booms buttressing beneath the breezy surface. Here is a slice of post-rave late-'90s-early-'00s electronic dance music with syncopated synth chords chewy and sweet, wobbly fluttering neon chords like cotton candy, and all with a rumbling backdrop of beats that tumble noisy mouthwatering. 'After Hours' is a bright lamination of sucrose flavours founded on substantial elements that give the cradling haze of cuteness a standoffish sense of dance dislocation, highly impersonal but also highly loveheartable too.

Created by LA-based producer VenessaMichaels and inspired by YΕ«ta Nishio (θ₯Ώε°Ύι›„ε€ͺ)'s manga After Hours, the track feels smooth to the touch, light but heavy like freshly kneaded dough, decorated with variegated tracts of synth that swirl sometimes half-abrasive and reflective of a feeling of confusion, echoed by the vocal samples which also call out not necessarily celebratory or triumphal but more like internal yells of life and living. The intro feels somewhat grave, verging on melancholic in the guitaresque arpeggio resonating with a cooling loneliness over the stumbling stutter of the beat. Raving and cute, inward facing yet extroverted, solid but hazy, 'After Hours' blows hot and cold in a really neat way, displaying two sides of the coin at the same time for an illustration of internal struggle and finding one's place in the world.


  • πŸ”” VenessaMichaels collaborated with Viz Media for this track, which is of course named after the manga which they licensed towards the end of last year. The media group describe YΕ«ta Nishio's After Hours as "a heartfelt story about a young queer woman coming into her own and finding her place in the world."


πŸ“ 
VenessaMichaels Internet Presence ☟
facebooksoundcloudtwitteryoutubeinstagram


Thursday, 20 July 2017

🐣 AESAIRE — CHROMATIC CANOPIES [εˆζΌ” • PREMIERE]

A slice of music toasted and spread with a sweet combo of videogame music and carefree swing, Aesaire's track takes us into a shuffling world of fourth level fun, the sort of music that doesn't denote the easier levels of a game but something a few stages on, you know, but not the hard levels. What first sprang to mind was Dynamite Headdy, sort of like this, but more the atmosphere it effuses, the way it visually builds grass-topped 16-bit platforms and robot enemies as it bounces along. The syncopated melodies weave with the jabbing chords that stutter between the wide swing of the kick-snare dynamic, the dreamier soft choral haze that flutters upwards for extra breeziness in the already breezy quite jazzy chiptune-flavoured 'Chromatic Canopies'.

Indeed its feeling of playfulness is a direct effect of the music theory elements behind the track, "swing rhythms and chromaticism," as Aesaire tells us. Basically a free-for-all of any notes rather than those of a particular key, chromaticism literally adds colour—and the colour at work in this track comes foremost from the bleepsome melodies that appear to dance around the other bassier notes and the chords, and from the more rhythmic sections themselves, too. It's like a hop, skip and a jump, a spring in a step, setting off on the right foot and various other light, optimistic cliches for the beginning of this music project, as well as a brazen reminder of the importance and influence of videogame music in the current landscape of the electronic music world.


  • πŸ”” This is only the beginning, so keep your eye on Aesaire's SoundCloud.


πŸ“ 
Aesaire Internet Presence ☟
facebooksoundcloudtwitteryoutube


Wednesday, 19 July 2017

🐣 ANNA OF THE NORTH — SOMEONE

In a hypnotising swirl of '80s flavours, a wash of mind-cleansing synth that spreads like nocturnal mist or faux fog from a smoke machine at a retro disco, Norwegian-New Zealand duo Anna of the North spin an expansive track in the form of 'Someone', exuding a sense of hopefulness, a filmic reverie whose soft focus scenes of neon-pink-and-green-on-black flash in your mind, a balance of feel-good fun and melancholy romance swinging to the rhythm of the thumping electro drums. "It’s about how easy it is to break your promises when you’ve had a couple of drinks," the band explains in a press release.

"Going deeper," it continues, "the song is about accepting that you’re only human and to learn how to forgive yourself for your own mistakes and accepting that sometimes we need someone to save us from repeating any old habits." You can definitely, definitely feel the drama of that explanation imbued in the track, something highly emotive at work as Anna literally sings asking for someone to come and save her. The wide, vast synths of this track suggest a newness, a discovery, a revelation, the feeling of having been closed up now cast aside in light of new acceptance, something about the cold light of day blaring bright as the glistening sheen of synth sparkles atop the juddering electro bass, sobriety and honesty set sail in a vessel of retro pop.


  • πŸ”” 'Someone' is taken from Anna of the North's debut album Lovers, which is getting released on 8th September via, for some reason, three labels (Different Recordings / Honeymoon / +1 Records). You can pre-order it variously via this link.


πŸ“ 
Anna of the North Internet Presence ☟
facebooksoundcloudtwitterinstagrammyspace


🐣 COOL COMPANY — BENEATH THE LIGHTS (JEAN TONIQUE REMIX)

While the original 'Beneath The Lights' by Brooklyn duo Cool Company is an intimate stream of warped ukulele sounds and trickling textures, exuding this atmosphere of sun-drenched romance, some fluidity of emotion existing in its slow closeness, the lips-to-ear silken vocals—while all this is true, this remix turns things up a notch, takes this atmosphere and expands it, increases the tempo and casts a level two spell of danceability with undeniable body moving effects. Set now to a lightly shuffling house beat, joined by electro tom accoutrements, a soft indomitable bassline swoons with subtle elasticity and low robust tones, gorgeous repetition of the plaintive groove the actual backbone of this new rendition—"adding a groovy spin to it to make you nod your head," the remixer himself Jean Tonique tells us.

The quicker pace of this track takes away the personal nature, somewhat, of the original, with the vocals now faster, more like something you can sing along to rather than something to be serenaded by, as in the original. With this, cool mists of synth veil the beat, pockmarked by sidechain, melting paradise steel pans, sharp guitar licks adding to this sense of tropico-casual, this hand-in-pocket slow sway with a holiday romance feel of it, the undeniable cool now heightened. It feels very much like the precursor to or the aftermath of the intimacy of the original track, Jean Tonique moving the soul of it from the sultry confines of four walls and carnal romance and leading them outside, out into the open to feel the world, truly under the lights, for a spin beneath an aching vast sunset on a tropical sky.


  • πŸ”” You can download this track for free, as you can see above.


πŸ“ 
Jean Tonique Internet Presence ☟
facebooksoundcloudbandcamptwitter

Cool Company Internet Presence ☟
facebooksoundcloudbandcamptwitteryoutube



🐣 JOANNE POLLOCK — EXPECT ME

The space in this track makes all of its sounds feel so wonderful, the breathing space between the experimental hits of digitised synth and beats allowing the tapestry of noises to make their impact and help create this sense of voidsome expanse, of space-anchored clusters of free-floating alien matter, this entity that exists in its own location and in its own time with no references to anything but the silence that frames it and punctuates its tumbling sentences and phrases. Listening to 'Expect Me' is like satisfying a craving: same way your stomach growls your ears yearn and for things such as this, these are tasty treats, Canadian singer and musicmaker Joanne Pollock spreading a controlled cacophony of booms, clacks, ticks, tings, trickling icy overdriven percussion.

Adjoining sounds range wonderfully, wildly, high-pitched synth twinkling, traditional warm chords, bops and beeps all bloopsome, squashed columns of sub-bass heavy and rumbling, gleaming otherworldly, so much of it unconventional and unusual all broken and fragmented abstract and collage-like, noises cut and pasted for maximum atmosphere evoking impact, her voice wandering amidst the thickets layered and just lightly airbrushed with reverb with this human quality that bridges the dimension where this icy music exists and your mind, part of you perishing as the poetry proceeds. How a sense of space sets this so far from the here and now, from your situation, reminiscent of nothing but instead Joanne Pollock's unique universe of sound.


  • πŸ”” This is taken from Joanne Pollock's album Strangers, out now via Venetian Snares-owned Timesig, a Planet Mu imprint.
  • πŸ”” The fittingly abstract and alternate-world-summoning, very water-themed video for 'Expect Me' was directed by Desiree Deleau alongside Joanne herself.


πŸ“ 
Joanne Pollock Internet Presence ☟
facebooksoundcloudbandcampyoutubetwitterinstagram


🐣 ANOMALIE — NEW SPACE

Wow there is nothing quite like listening to something that is instantly loveable, but not just that but more like completely coursing through veins from the first few seconds, literally merging with your blood cells and sailing the capillary network to your heart with all the calories and cholesterol and electric energy of it all. That is 'New Space' by Montreal-based keyboardist and producer Anomalie. Citing everything from J Dilla and George Gershwin to Daft Punk and Skrillex, as well as his classical background and jazz study, the musicmaker explains the track and the EP its taken from: "basically a melting pot of all my major influences while featuring the keyboard as the centrepiece."

And as the central tenet of this track the virtuoso keyboard canters gloriously throughout, displaying effortless glassy lounge chords that tremolo blissful while underpinned with fuzzy texture basslines, a whirl of bold colour set to a lush crackling raw organic beat that shuffles with hip-hop breeziness and bright metallic zing. Keys drip-drop with pliant cuteness, flowerbuds popping open with cartoon vigour, so easy so easy Anomalie creates this ultimate VGM-leaning instrumental odyssey, a tantalising teeter between lounge horizontality and the hyperactive funk dynamism of jazz, the composition jumping jostling atmospheres, stable instability bursting at the seams.


  • πŸ”” This comes from Anomalie's debut MΓ©tropole EP, out now on Lowtemp Music. You can buy it digitally over on Bandcamp for CAD$3.99.


πŸ“ 
Anomalie Internet Presence ☟
facebooksoundcloudofficial sitetwitteryoutubespotify


🌱 TUSKS LIVE @ RONNIE SCOTT'S, LONDON

Cocktail-making clonked at the bar and a card machine bleeped as TUSKS launched into her finale, 'Dissolve'. This is her new single. Live, as with the tracks that preceded it, this one is a combination of guitar playing and keyboards and pre-arranged electronic swirling that make it an intense hypnotic experience, the noise surrounding you and gleaming glittering in your ears. Music of this magnitude felt like it didn't belong here, upstairs at Ronnie Scott's, sort of like the end-of-episode live music showcases in the new series of Twin Peaks, post-work suits occupying tables, the last brightness of the day shining through skylights. "It's strange to be playing somewhere you can see it's still light outside," said Emily Underhill between songs—this is real person behind stage presence and music entity TUSKS.

After her set we spoke to Emily briefly, agreeing that her music suited somewhere darker and smaller and more intimate and with less of Soho's oblivious droppers-in. Though imperfect in terms of venue, Ronnie Scott's nevertheless afforded Emily a showcase for her music, an opportunity to do what she does regardless of where that might be. Where-ness, however, ended up somewhat irrelevant. It didn't affect, for instance, the guitar-only rendition of 'Toronto' – usually punctuated by booming drum rolls and veiled in soaring synth fog, this version focused on that sharp far-off melancholic refrain, Emily eyes-closed, swaying as her fingers ran over the strings, pinkie poised on the pickups. The set began with 'For You' – the opener of TUSKS' debut Dissolve LP – a song we've not yet heard, one framed by robust warm dusty piano chords, chunky and heartfelt, the gradual synth tide rising from these notes, the repetition of "for you" made mesmeric by Emily's satin whispering tone overlapping with pitch-shifts low and high for full haunting experience, a sparse beat lusciously textured played on Roland drum pads, her standing and bouncing slow to rhythm. The slow-burning coil of compelling midnight flavours, the elsewhere phantomatic feeling of it, made for an introduction to TUSKS as a live act that instantly compelled and transported.

And though stormy all-encompassing sounds pull you into Emily's musical world, so too does the minimalism she seems to cradle so easily, the love of playing the music, feeling the music, clear on her face—as with 'Toronto' her Foals cover 'London Thunder' is guitar-only, the background fuzz of heavy effects white noise static killing thankfully the ambient hum of the venue, the watery chorus effect lovingly liquidising the sparse plucked notes, moving to grungy strums that filled the room, her voice crooning in this slow-rippling pool of electricity. Immensity in simplicity. The majesty of TUSKS was bigger than this little upstairs room of Ronnie Scott's with its to-and-fro table service waiters and waitresses and discretionary 12.5% service charge; thundering or gently quiet the music captivated, its well constructed melancholic grandeur surging and breaking the windows and turning day into night and rising well above any sense of place.





πŸ“ 
TUSKS Internet Presence ☟
facebooksoundcloudofficial sitetwitterinstagramsongkick


🐣 OKBADLANDS — MINERAL

There is something beautiful in the attention to detail placed at the heart of this track, the little things we've their way through the luscious thickets of percussion, the ambient glistening, the robust groove that gloops underneath the breezy lounge feel that helps this track recline with ease. 'Mineral' is imbued with a boom-bap flavoured offbeat rhythm that trickles through in bass-vacuumed tracts of head-nodding percussion, a pre-chorus that settles in before the dual vocals of Kate Gurren and Sally Latter – Brisbane duo comprising OKBadlands – entwine and soar together in rich harmony, cymbals stream metallic. Below it all, deep bass scoops out a wholly legible pulse, a soft intimate sound that feels leviathan heartbeat, undeniable groove.

But aside from these ornate buttress foundations, the beat having been somewhat crafted by fellow Brisbanite Max Byrne (aka Golden Vessel), the duo create upper tier sounds that feel good enough to eat, lush flavours at work in things as simple as the little keyboard melody that glosses glassily at the intro and post-chorus areas, the high-pitched synth pings that mimic the vocal occasionally, the pulsar flutter of thin synth golden thread in the verse, the glitter in the chorus, and easily how silken smooth the vocals spiral with reverb adding to the sense of space afforded by the minimalism of the track, how open and expansive it feels yet how close-up and personal: intimacy, and its hopes for continuation indefinitely.




πŸ“ 
OKBadlands Internet Presence ☟
facebooksoundcloudtwitterinstagram


🐣 LIAM.M — DRIFTING

The sample here instantly calls to mind something high-altitude, something with the vast expansiveness of light blue skies, of thick cotton wool clouds like continents curling through the sky with wisps and breakaways like islands, constantly shifting and breezing through the cool upper air of the world, that string sound really soaring above it all. Brisbane's very own Liam.M sends that sound up, lets it fly, loosens it from its cage early on and adds extra glitter for a the gleaming sun glints that shine blindingly on airplane wings and the on the peaks that float on gargantuan cloudscapes. In 'Drifting' this brightness is the main thing: what else do you see above the clouds but the white blaring twinkle of our closest star?

PREVIOUS LIAM.M TRACK 'TON' FEATURED ON YES/NO (2017)


This is set on a bristling blanket of beats, a dense tract of luscious percussive sounds that feel like hardboiled sweets punctuated by the flutter of the sidechained kick that helps give the gleaming fog of sound above a sense of structural dynamism, sentences that speak another language that you can sort of understand, all the while shakers and hi-hats sheaf and shuffle, snares clack and click and snap, occasional dynamic slow drumrolls. The swirling opulence of this track is a satisfying flavour, a gorgeous texture like walking into a room where everything is a reflective sparkling surface—and underpinned by this solid beat that's decorated with as much flare it just becomes this jewelbox of sound, rhythm and light.




πŸ“ 
Liam.M Internet Presence ☟
facebooksoundcloudyoutubeitunesspotify


🐣 SHOOS OFF — FROM THE START

That synth sound at the start instantly calls to mind chillwave, not anything in particular—it just seems to summon the letters that make up that word and the word itself and what it means, which is chillment of the highest degree. The way it wobbles and flaps like a butterfly with molten metal wings or with lavalamp puttiness and making its way across a strangely bleeding sky oil in water on an overhead projector, swirling impressionistic with its wonderful wah-wah effect. And amidst the broad strokes of chill in 'From The Start', the chunky all-encompassing flavour of it, there are carvings of inescapable groove.

The bounce of the beat goes some distance to match the groove at work in this track, the very chords that flutter and effuse their chill going through patterns in the chorus that wholly call to mind grooves past, relatively complex chords that at some points in the song also find their counterparts in glistening tremolo keys that add glassy ornamentation to the proceedings. Los Angeles band Shoos Off manage this cocktail of groovesome danceability and viscous chill with liquid effortlessness, crooning vocals jump in, layered and resonating, popping with funky stutter in offbeat patterns, skipping and hopping over the robust bounce at the heart of this melting popsicle track.


  • πŸ”” You may, if you wish, for just $1 purchase 'Shoos Off' digitally from Bandcamp.


πŸ“ 
Shoos Off Internet Presence ☟
facebooksoundcloudbandcampinstagram


🐣 NSAY MADA — UNDER COVER

The vocals here are so softly done so falling over everything mistily like a veil, the long curls of its silken tones unfurling, whispers into the night air, the nocturnal desire effusing as from a smoke machine at an otherdimensional disco, how it is slowly serpentine like this, how it coils with the leisure and languor of looming lust, the low tones of Nsay Mada and her fluttering highs rich with feeling and focus, fragranced by its textures, pastel spray paint above the neon crunch of the throwback synth that frames this track perpetually in another realm of time where midnight is dark yet chequered with colours and promise of something more.

'Under Cover' keeps to this juddering syncopation, the clang of its electro mainstay providing the foundation, the simple alternating beat with the trebly kick and the shhff shaker shifting sand spray can snare (allegedly Joy Division achieved a similar drum quality in 'She's Lost Control' by spraying an aerosol can into a microphone), the sparse hi-hat chit-chat with the open sharpness echoing blissfully, drum machine tom tumbling occasionally, augmenting the sparse feel of the track, with the modulating synth, the hazy nebulous chords, the icy pings, all decorating and helping to augment that late night feeling with starlight apartment block window twinkles and slow hum of traffic taillights extending into night. Still, that voice, "under cover, under cover," this refrain unusual and fragmented, satin sheen on this sparkling bed of sounds.


  • πŸ”” 'Under Cover' was produced by Cyenna Bay. You can catch more from Nsay Mada on SoundCloud.


πŸ“ 
Nsay Mada Internet Presence ☟
facebooksoundcloudofficial sitetwitter


Tuesday, 18 July 2017

🐣 SEO — LAVENDER

The impressive experimentation at work here belies a sense of punk chaos, the scratch of harsh noise, a definitive sense of the whatever-who-cares, but there is something extra here, not merely an affectation of chaotic sound but a reflection of a feeling, actual music representing actual feelings. If we go by the super-endearing vocals that ostensibly Lagos-located Seo weaves by turns through gritted teeth or half-open-mouth slurs, there is some level of fire and aggression bubbling and broiling and burning here, the most earcatching refrain "I'd rather that you fucking leave me" spat into a howl of freezing cold synth gales. Here is conflict, heartbreak: it is a decided fuck you, but there is hurt and injury here, a delicacy and a warmth that's been shattered.

The decayed melody that plays throughout, almost like a musicbox, gentle or once gentle but now abrasive, caught now in cyclical thoughts, dripping with melancholy, tinged with hopefulness but ultimately damaged, it dings throughout like a slow whirlwind of thoughts focused on the same thing the same thing the same thing, the idea of broken trust as a broken toy instrument wonderfully evocative, reflective of this line that suggests as much: "There are many things that you told me, none of which I still believe…"

It booms with sub-bass, all-encompassing, pulling on you keeping you still, strings and stand-up bass sound add their organic natural human sound, the texture of various trickling percussion for ornamentation, the aching anger of the final moments of this song where Seo urges truly that she'd rather that you fucking leave. Visceral but beautiful, touching and cute but wracked with darkness and noise, the experimental 'Lavender' is a multifaceted gem of a track reflecting, probably, a likewise artist behind it.




πŸ“ 
Seo Internet Presence ☟
soundcloudtwitterfanburstspotify


Saturday, 15 July 2017

🐣 ROCKZ — DJ ITCHIN

On a backdrop of bristling glitchy beats, with shuffling hi-hats and smart snapping handclaps, kicks thud-bouncing, low modulated bass rumbles ominously like a looming haze and piano chords play out seriously brooding into a muted sparkling tract of synth like dripping icicles. It's cold, sharp, practically frozen solid, as Milwaukee rapper Rockz aka RockzSolid represents the south-side of the city in a broiling tumble of bars that reference everything from the internet to food in an acrobatic exposition of inner city fire, her vocals elastic and harsh, a vehement showcase of skill and hard work over stunting in hip hop terms.

'DJ Itchin' gets its title from the retro jostling hooks of the track, a set of adjoining percussive punctuation comprising vocal chops and throwback turntable scratching by DJ Sham. The unrelenting flow of Rockz skips and suplexes either side, choice lines arriving in the form of "you ain't makin moves, just Facebook news," having already asserted that views mean nothing if you're not making money; later she makes a socially charged analogy in putting down unskilled contemporaries: "these chickens out here spittin food stamp raps with their glued back tracks." The crowning phrase from this track – "I got that organic rap but I can spit that fast food" – feels fresh and inventive: whilst she can spend time and write rhymes, she can just as easily bust out a bar on the spot. The wordplay, the very real references, and her fierce tone with Midwest lilt shows Rockz as a well grounded force of rap to be reckoned with.


Friday, 14 July 2017

🐣 PHILIP LASSITER — HOPSCOTCH

Interminable groove sails throughout this track, elements layered with beautiful precision, dynamic turning on and off and adding and subtracting to the tapestry of sound. The main thread weaving through here is the trumpet, its brassy peals moving from that ascending-descending refrain that kickstarts the track with a super shuffling rhythm, to smooth crooning and variegated wailing solo blasts that leave trails like the curling smoke of a missile spiralling through the sky. Philip Lassiter commands the trumpet as an augmentation of voice, the trills and warbles and harmonics spilling out in each slapdash-considered lick, the playful groovesome jumping nature of it perhaps defining the title 'Hopscotch'.

Amidst this though there is the bass which carves out a bouncing foundation, guitar zipping with it for extra energy in sharpness and distortion, and paired with the back-and-forth of the beat – its thwacking overdriven kicks and clacking metallic snares and shuffling hi-hats – this provides the rhythm that gives the track its feeling of staccato sway, the impatient itch to move; tremolo keyboards wash over the peaks and troughs of the funk with a rounded chiming sparkle, a soft resounding mist that covers all; a breakdown punctuated with handclaps and sparse piano twinklings. These powerful decorations, the beat, the groove, all serve to frame the brass blares in situ, give it a substantial context, and allows the trumpet to follow tangents and zigzags never too far from the foundations that anchor it to such a simultaneously danceable and chilled bedrock of sound.


  • πŸ”” 'Hopscotch' is one of the tracks to be taken from his recent album, Chill Mode, details of which can be found over here.
  • πŸ”” As a related piece of trivia, it's fun to know that Lassiter "is most recently and widely known for leading an 11-piece horn section for the late Prince, with whom he toured internationally and in the U.S."


πŸ“ 
Philip Lassiter Internet Presence ☟
facebooksoundcloudofficial sitetwitteryoutube


🐣 ERSTAV — INK & GLUE [εˆζΌ” • PREMIERE]

Alien flavours dominate the backdrop to this track, a swirling of lost-in-space radio signals that chirp and click and pulse like inhuman vocal chords expressing an inhuman language, fluttering with abrasive tiny ping-pong balls clattering energy, a rapid helicopter chop of grinding synthetics – like the atmospherics of space disaster-themed videogame music – and at the beginning a low voice introduces the track with unintelligible guttural digitised sounds. 'Ink & Glue' by Italian duo Erstav shows off the respective interests of the musicmakers behind the name: Marco's "careful balance between minimalism and musicality" mixed with Alessandro's "industrial and punk background," influenced by "the d.i.y. ethos of punk and power-electronics." The sound-design-esque immersive ambience of that constant extragalactic sound in the track certainly owes itself to the brooding nature of these two producers' tastes.

But if it is that fractional communication, or the buzzing of pipes and machinery and interstellar background chatter, which provides the atmosphere, it is in the beats of this track where we find immediacy. The here-and-now of 'Ink & Glue' is in its hard percussive punctuation throughout, in the broken beat nature of the hits that tumble in swinging, holding onto the dark air that comes before and piledriving that which stumbles afterward, a rabble of overdriven kicks and burnished metallic hi-hats sheafing and shuffling throughout with satisfying syncopation, switching after 0:53 with more rapidity rolling and raining down, the industrial influences clear, the hard spartan essence of these pugilistic drums reflecting the large mechanical megaliths that float through the galaxy in a distant future of unidentified radiowaves and deepspace mystery.


  • πŸ”” You can download 'Ink & Glue' above. It is taken from Erstav's White Windmill EP, which can also be downloaded for free via the duo's SoundCloud.
  • πŸ”” Their debut album Cold Europe is available to purchase on Bandcamp courtesy of San Francisco label Muti Music.


πŸ“ 
Erstav Internet Presence ☟
facebooksoundcloudspotifyitunes


Thursday, 13 July 2017

🐣 STEW STIM — FEDORA

The glitter oh the glitter of this track, 'Fedora', the gleaming in-the-sky noises that veil this track with an intimate expanse of heavenly proportions. The liquid waterfall sounds give a sense of cool fluidity, a sloshing wateriness that feels refreshing, and twinned with the chimes and the tract of metallic objects tumbling teasingly throughout, these sounds provide an almost overwhelming blanket of texture, an intense eartickle of sharp glossy insectoid noises, like the piercing ambient noises that swirl in rainforests – the scratchy bugs, the rustling leaves, the crunch of feet on the ground, a neardistant stream – a thicket of sound that is undeniable in how it satisfies the listener as much as a close-up smell of something so beautiful it verges on unbearable, the scent of Earl Grey tea imprisoned and released from its tin, the zing of alcohol and rushing mellow sweetness of vanilla extract. It is a close-up sound, a minuscule sound, a microcosm of these minuscule sounds, a colony: in other words, as far as your senses are concerned, it is alive.

And with this bristling jostle of bright solar powered life glinting and clink clanking with sheen and sparkles Stew Stim adds the gentle haze of synth chords, breezy tones that herald peacefulness and relaxation, they way they rise into the atmosphere like distorted air on a hot summer's day, resonate gladly as the track introduces the beat—overdriven kicks bump into the halo of percussive minutiae, hi-hats shuffle, slapping hand-claps clatter in syncopation—a reflection of human clumsiness, heavy-handed violence in the purity of this delicate imaginary space. And in the midst of this robust clacking and banging the track continues to bubble and wobble with electronic chimes, melodies that appear and dissipate like clouds, small bopping arpeggios that appear to ascend like sped-up incense smoke. Sweet and substantial, this track has the power to lull as much as excite, a beat experiment firmly on the outer reaches, a blissful orbit of shimmering idealism.


  • πŸ”” 'Fedora' is the opening track to Stew Stim's recent album, a collection of introverted noisy beats and spacey experimentalism called Swine, though 'Fedora' isn't necessarily representative of the more leftfield, often dark bulk of the project. It was released via FRIGHT HOUSE, child-label of rising net-based sensation DESKPOP.


πŸ“ 
Stew Stim Internet Presence ☟
soundcloudbandcamptwitterinstagram


Tuesday, 11 July 2017

VISITS: WE WENT OUT FOR HOT POT WITH TWO STUDENTS WE MET ON A TRAIN IN CHINA

Crowded, mental, smelly, everyone's eating gross food, spitting, rubbish everywhere, people are sitting in your seat—is it that bad? We found out what train travel in China is really like. Our train pulled in to Kunming city at 9pm in the evening. We had been on it for well over ten hours and during that time had experienced a spectrum of strange emotions from the moment we bumbled on board, jamming through the crowded carriage to get to our seats, stressed with big bags and stared at by everyone.

We were quickly warmed by the simple offer of help from fellow passengers who made room for us, took our bags from our backs and stashed them up high in the luggage rack. China does this: it forces emotions, pushing outsiders to question and challenge their own staid social conditioning. A scope of pure enraging beautiful madness. The combination of subtleness, gentle shyness and kindness, mixed with gob-smacking ‘what on earth are they up to?’ mind-boggling-ness was all condensed into this one train journey from Guiyang to Kunming.

Our time on the train was evocative of what travelling in China is like. Even when we felt like we had had enough of the masses of people, the strange stares, the unruly train stations and the mutters of laowai (literally meaning 'very foreign'), something wonderful and unexpected always happened to make all of the stress worthwhile.

Nevertheless it can be exhausting—after hours of being cooped up in a carriage with minimal space, being continually eyed by the people opposite us and then falling asleep only to be woken by the old guy across the aisle who thought he would take his chance to sneak a quick snap of us but forgot to turn the flash or shutter noise off (see above, there he is checking out the picture he's just taken)—you tend to wonder "What am I doing?" But then the little girl who had been staring in fear for a good few hours began to warm to us and we played with her toys together, she'd tell us about them, swapping languages as we played. Towards to final hour of the journey, the fully booked train had emptied out somewhat and a young guy had started a conversation with us about Animal Crossing: New Leaf, which we were playing on our 3DS. The conversation developed to include the guy sat next to him, also a student, who helped with the gaps in English. We spoke about our travels and life in England, fellow passengers bubblingly curious, blatantly listening in, clearly desperate to hear more about what these two pale-faced outsiders were doing on their train. We showed them our British passports; neither of them had been outside of China. The man in the seat behind them, unable to keep his interest under wraps any longer, turned around and lent right over the seat back to have a good look at them too. We showed them what Facebook and Twitter looks like; we spoke about Baidu and about how Facebook wasn’t allowed in their country; they were as eager to know more about our lives as we were eager to know more about them and their lives in China.

Our two new mates were strangers to each other. One, let's call him Johnny, was from Yulin – he said it wasn't a nice place. He had a girlfriend but wanted a girl with blue eyes - "like yours," he mentioned innocently. He had dreams of going to other places. The other young guy was also a student, quieter, glasses-wearing and more geeky but very eager to chat. A third guy also joined in. Older than the two students, he was a political lecturer at Kunming University. He seemed to be bursting with ideas and the unsatiated thirst to travel and see more of the world, his strained face and mumbling of "it’s difficult" felt like an allusion to the fact that his job as a political lecturer in a country where freedom in politics is not exactly a given did not allow him to teach the ideas he wanted to, and a wife and children now meant that his dreams of other places were just pipe dreams, long-distance commuting every weekend home from his job in Kunming to see them. We had met him on a Sunday evening travelling to Kunming for his week of work ahead. By the time the train pulled into Kunming we had made plans. The four of us (minus the lecturer whom the lads didn’t invite) were off for dinner together. They physically took our bags out of our hands, even our precious rucksack with everything important inside it – laptops, passports, iPad, GoPro, money – and we trusted them.

Confidently pushing past all of the taxi touts and out into the city, this was it, our new gang together. The younger guy with round glasses phoned our hotel to let them know we would be checking in late. This was amazing. These guys didn’t even know each other and here we all were, sorting out plans and going to dinner with two alien Westerners they'd met on a train. This kind of thing would rarely happen in the UK because of sheer British awkwardness and stuffy social conventions, but these guys – let's reiterate, strangers to each other – were open and inviting: another incredible instance of the kindness of Chinese hospitality. They boys warned us against pickpockets in the area and led us via Baidu maps to a hot pot (火锅, huo guo) restaurant, the kind of place we would want try but wouldn't because there would be no English nor would we understand how it worked. We had tried this kind of communal eating thing in Korea and it often ended in a disastrous dinner. They explained the set-up of the restaurant to us and we tried to follow their instructions: choosing dishes out of fridges and from a long table, taking them back to your seats and plopping them into either the red spicy side of the hot pot or the more herbal "cooling" side.

We were seated by a giggling young waitress who helped us stash our backpack burdens. The staff were obviously excited about us being there and asked our new mates if they could have their picture take with us. Unlike the train, this was fun: it was like we were famous. The girls who worked at the restaurant were nervous when it came to actually taking the pictures, so we had to encourage the more fearful to come out of their hiding places and join in. Everyone was enjoying the experience of being mixed up in each other's worlds. We sat and shared the hot pot together and sipped beer, a practice which we couldn't quite grasp: it seemed that we had to drink in shots, and only when others had their glasses full. The thing was though that after a long day stuck on a train we were thirsty and, combined with the spicy food, the beer was going down too quickly. It became painful to wait for the next shot of cool bubbly lager and it didn’t seem like the done thing to pour ourselves another cup. Chinese and British drinking etiquette differ wildly.

Over dinner we chatted together, their English was decent, and with a little help of Baidu Translate were able to have full conversations about their lives, the music they like, Jackie Chan films, what countries we had been to, where we are going, what England is like, what we are doing, who we are. It felt like they had barely ever had the chance to talk to someone from outside of their world—we definitely hadn’t had the chance to sit down with young Chinese people and talk to them about their lives. Johnny however did mention an English teacher at university whom he liked because he was Welsh and swore a lot.

Our new friends were aware that in China people weren't allowed to do certain things that in the West we were allowed to do. They were knowledgeable and open and yet they seemed happy and under no illusions. Both of them were heading to Dali on the bus to hang out with their respective friends; it was the summer holidays in China and Dali seemed to be the place to go in Yunnan Province to have fun. They both planned on getting the overnight bus from Kunming which was going to leave at 11pm – all of this after being on the train all day. In the UK a journey of this length would be nigh on unheard of, which gave us a hint as to what it is like to live in such an enormous country. Dali attracts many Western backpackers who head there to take in the natural beauty of Yunnan, meet up with other travellers and party (similarly to also-famous Yangshuo) and that seemed to be exactly what was attracting the young Chinese students there too. The guys told us they were going to Dali to meet different people and have fun, both of them had groups of friends they had plans to meet up with when they arrived. On the train they'd mentioned their plans in front of the lecturer who laughed and said to us, "They have a foreigner street there!"

The time came for Johnny and Glasses to catch their bus. We swapped Weibo names, seeing as being friends on Facebook was a no-go, and they put us in a cab to our hotel and waved us off. Neither of them swapped details and both went in different directions: it was just another day and a shared experience that happened and it was nice and that was it. What a whirlwind of a day and what an insight into Chinese life we had been a part of without even exploring Kunming. Travelling by train is by far the best way to see a country, side by side with locals, taking in the views of the land and meeting new people.

Now it was time to actually see the city.

REBECCA ALICE SAUNDERS πŸ™‹



See more from VISITS in China:
GuangzhouGuilinYangshuoGuiyang


🐣 NEBULAMIGO — DISTANCE

The ripples on the surface of a body of water glittering crystalline sheen more like molten metal than water, the guitar arpeggio that bounces with a misty pallor summoning these gleaming scenes gurgling with reverb each string glinting with indie jangle into a traversable rip tide of thudding uptempo kicks, and caught in the momentum tumble somersault into the wash of haze and hallowed heavenly harmonies that fly and fall with far-off warmth, heavily effected later in the track bubblesome and wobbly, all the time with the bass so lean and rounded and rolling forward with semaphore fills and flourishes, stretching to meet the jogging pace of the beat.

The tick-tick-tick of metallic sharp hi-hats alternates between the kicks and the lo-fi dull thud snare hits and the rimshot accoutrement that adds textured tangle to the beat, a simple complication that adds an air of technicality to the proceedings. How the veil of dreampop falls away from 'Distance' nearer to the two-minute mark, rapid garage post-punk palm-muted chords judder silkily and takataka hi-hat rattle and a nocturnal slice of guitar noodling lends itself again to this pace, the speed of the track, Nebulamigo making it breezy but intense and only in a somnolent summery sort of way, all the kinetic energy of pogosticking but with such swathes of sunny lethargy imbued in it, the pallid bleach of sunlight its washed out halo.


  • πŸ”” 'Distance' is taken from the Long Beach, California band's recently released Talk in Roses EP. The six-track digital offering can be downloaded for a paltry $4 if you would like to do such a thing.


πŸ“ 
Nebulamigo Internet Presence ☟
facebooksoundcloudbandcamptwitterinstagramsongkickspotify


🐣 IMONI — MONEY

In a world of swirling neo-noir, a place of hazy soft synth chords modulating subtly, London singer IMONI weaves her vocal amidst the offbeat stutters of a drumtrack that swings with nocturnal cool, thudding kicks and sumptuous clacking snares and the sharp popping hi-hats that skip and skitter alternately. 'Money' verges on melancholic, a moody whirl of music that utilises the chilled and stifled nature of the muffled synths to conjure a breezy sort of seriousness, whilst bass with electric bounce exercises its future-leaning sound on the atmosphere for stark colour against the gloom, spots on neon-pastel on a near-black charred grey void, a stark sense of being by yourself in vast space.

"I was always in the habit of writing sad songs, but recently I’ve started writing about what makes me feel good and it’s been empowering for me," explains the musicmaker in a press release. "‘Money’ is about me not letting other people’s negativity affect me, being care-free and focusing on myself as I begin my music career." There is certainly an aloof feel to IMONI's vocal, the lilting soul acrobatics switching between a crooning voice in the dark and spoken word calm in full control: "think i'm gonna settle down / boy don't mess around / it's about time that i let you down a little bit / but can you handle it." Reverb drips from the words, whether creaking and colloquial or singing out emotive and fluttering, giving the track a sense of expanse, of endless possibilities, the apprehensive but hopeful feeling of the first step on a journey, the brink of a waterfall.


  • πŸ”” IMONI is currently working on her debut Serendipity EP.


πŸ“ 
IMONI Internet Presence ☟
facebooksoundcloudtwitterinstagram


Friday, 7 July 2017

🌭 THINGS THAT ARE TASTY — GUIYANG

A sort of under-construction, maintenance-being-carried-out, don't-touch, wet-paint vibe permeates the air in Guiyang. Beneath the fumes and the building sites, the lanes of highways and concrete sky walkways is something exciting. There is a trendy, youthful vibe to the city. Small turns off of main streets in the evening uncover contemporary bars and side-street restaurants, their glowing warmth inviting us in to be greeted by rooms full of young twenty-somethings sipping on drinks, eating and telling tales of their day.

The Italian restaurant we decided to try out on Sunday night was owned by a local guy who spoke fluent English; he had worked in Italy and made pizza as good as you can probably get in China. The night we stopped by they were hosting an upscale singles night for the young and free of Guiyang to network and flirt with appropriate suitors. Clearly there was something going on here—this isn't the image of China that is poured down our throats in the West: isn't China a big scary place with the crazy uncouth tourists who go around in large groups? Well, China is becoming something else, it is evolving and so are the people. The young generation are testing their boundaries, taking cues from net-disseminated trends and trying out new things – like a masked ball-themed date night at an Italian restaurant, for instance.

Aside from the modern musings of the youth hanging outside malls with bubble tea in hand, Guiyang's pavements are also filled with street snacking. There's a plethora of street food stalls all over the city cooking up delicious and crazily cheap Chinese dishes. It would be easy just to spend the day in Guiyang walking the streets and eating, which is... pretty much what we did.


🍴 Buddhist temple vegetarian restaurant - 禅悦ι…₯陀
Serving delicate vegetarian food from a non-English picture menu, monks run this restaurant from the adjoining temple. More expensive that a regular temple-based vegetarian buffet, but with a much higher quality of food. Some dishes are so tasty they actually melted in the mouth: mock fish, for instance, or the lotus root with that fiery sauce all over. The staff were very smiley and helped us with choosing our plates. Families sat around and had early dinners together.

From our seat upstairs next to an open window we sat and watched the puzzle of cars and motorbikes shift and meander together in the rush hour buzz below. The surroundings were beautifully and carefully decorated and the food was for real one of the best vegetarian meals we ate in Asia.


🍴 Italian
Down a dark alleyway behind an area spotted with a few intriguing bars this Italian style restaurant is a strange bubble tucked away from buzz of the city. The night we visited they were hosting an attempt at an upscale black-and-white, masquerade ball singles party upstairs, even though they were officially closed the owner kindly accommodated our pizza craving. With a glass of red wine (served at actual room-temperature, which is unusual in Asia) in hand we enjoyed the margherita: fairly flavourful but a little overpriced. Go if you're desperate for pizza and fancy some intimate off-beat surroundings.
🍴 Kong coffee
What a strange place. we were attracted to this coffee shop because of a Japanese anime theme that seemed to glint through the window, and sure enough when we turned up for a coffee hit there was an actual cosplay photoshoot happening in the front room, shelves of yuri manga everywhere. The coffee was crazy expensive (around £5.00 seriously) as it so often is in China, being seen as an aspirational luxury thing, but it was single origin and had this incredible rich purple-y taste. Worth the price tag.

It was decorated like an old English house which was odd for us being from England, but it was cute even though there was a Twin Peaks Black Lodge vibe about it. Or like being in one of those anime where it's like one guy for some reason living in a stately mansion somewhere and all the other characters are female maids. Half things that are tasty, half things that are weird.



Peep our VISITS series post on Guiyang, a whirlwind stopover in the city〜




🍴Street Food
Without a doubt, the most exciting food for the taste buds in Guiyang was being sold by street vendors. The locals selling their tasty things were so happy and cheery when we approached their stalls after following the out of this world aromas often wafting from them. The snacks we bought were so crazily cheap and full of flavour.

Those big brown muffin-looking things are η™Όη²Ώ fa gao, sweet stodgy creations of dough. And the round somewhat pancake-esque things are indeed pancakes of the red bean paste-filled variety (豆沙ι₯Ό, dou sha bing). Both are delicious in a mouth-filling sugary-savoury way. The really deep fried looking thing served to us in a plastic bag, however, was interesting as it contained what appeared to be red bean paste, but unsweetened—very unusual.


🍴 Broad Street Bakery
There are tons of bakeries all over Asia selling unfamiliar takes on Western classics. Broad Street Bakery is one of these. The bread was the closest to authentic bread we had for a long time at this point, and about half the price we would pay for it at home. We picked up a bagel with camembert and cranberries in to keep us going until the next meal and a whole baguette for the long train journey to Kunming. Places like this are a safety net when super hungry.

REBECCA ALICE SAUNDERS


πŸ– More things that are tasty from… πŸ–
HONG KONG (πŸ‡­πŸ‡°)GUANGZHOU (πŸ‡¨πŸ‡³)GUILIN (πŸ‡¨πŸ‡³)YANGSHUO (πŸ‡¨πŸ‡³)