Tuesday, 19 September 2017


Straight away there's this aura of opulence – that soft synth glow – gold fittings and fixtures and chandeliers and mahogany or maybe teak furniture presenting angularity and sweeping curves in delicious alternation. Rich, that's it—there is a high degree of richness embedded at the heart of Rochelle Jordan's 'How U Want It'. Her voice is of course a fabulous part of the track, its shining jewel, its billowing silk streaming through the well oiled machinery of the instrumental, at some points long and silken, and other times her vocals are tongue twisters, rapid-fire trilling lines that end in swooping lilts, itself full-bodied and robust but bringing it all together, lacing it with delicacy.

The all-encompassing solidity of 'How U Want It' comes from its producer Machinedrum, who creates a playground of synth and beats that stutter and somersault in tracts of audaciously empty instrumental hits, priceless vase ornamental rose footwork, clinking and glittering high-pitch and wonky but bumping and thumping with juddering rubbery quakes too. It is this with its sense of playful urgency that Rochelle Jordan's vocal pairs perfectly, similarly agile and acrobatic, making this track a marrying of two virtuoso elements that soar and sizzle. A subversion of classy with its spilling-over decorative feel, this track is feeling out-of-place at a high-society event and knocking over champagne and having fun in the face of imposition.

  • πŸ”” This track is the first release on Machinedrum's newly birthed label IAMSIAM. You can steam it and purchase it variously from most of your favourite services via this hyperlink.

Rochelle Jordan Internet Presence ☟

Machinedrum Internet Presence ☟
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This track begins awash with textures, the sea spreading itself onto sand with all its foam and flotsam and tumbling little stones and shells that dance jostling on the beach and the bleached bones of coral twisted ceramic antler collections crooning to the sky with its trickling trickling streaming watery sounds. Your private beach. How natural it all sounds, the percussion luscious delicious all hurtling molecular and tiny, a tapestry for time and the way the natural world fills it. Cynabel creates this moss forest these glorious miniatures for roundabout the first third of the wonderful 'When I'm With You', before wide synth chords like rainbows, slow and kinetic, these are dolphins arcing in open sea.

"This particular song was symphonically through-composed, rather than the usual copy/paste we're so accustomed to in music, especially EDM," the Philadelphia-based musicmaker himself tells yes/no via email. "The lack of strophic form and general air of adventure were directly inspired by RefraQ's tune Soda Ritual." The finished product, Cynabel explains, creates "a journey for the listener to experience," adding: "I sincerely hope that the sparkling chords and comforting ambience result in a few smiles for those who choose to adventure with me."

Out there just beyond the reef and from far off it seems slow and getting close to them it's a speed racer affair, it's wiggling and wobbly and vital utterly the smooth mammalian grey of the skin strobing in and out of the calm tufts of sea, as highlighted by the drum fill and the leaping leap into the jostle of more rapid fire rolling soft synth foamy fizzy waves breaking breaking. And the dynamic shift, slowdown, the cascading waterworld of the track's outro where Cynabel seems to be channelling this Zora's Domain feeling, a crowd of effortlessly glistening melodic synths that chime and drip-drop crystalline and ultragorgeous, this aching beautiful coda stretching into the distance, the gentle fade of cirrus clouds against vast blue, the comfort and heartwarm of being with whoever the "you" is in this electronic symphony.

Cynabel Internet Presence ☟

Monday, 18 September 2017


If Hanoi is quaint and decrepitly charming, Saigon is fast and layered, rebuilt from rubble on a huge scale with seams of Western influence vividly running through its core. Between the streets of rushing cars are blocks of buildings that act as facades to the true labyrinth of lanes that run between buildings like veins filled with the flowing blood of the city. Thousands of people seem to live down one alleyway, microcosms of the city itself, but hidden and properly Vietnamese with cafes and food stalls and shops occupying nearly every other house font. Cockerels crowing at dawn in the centre of the city isn't odd here.

A few minutes into walking around Saigon we wondered why we'd heard so much about road crossing safety in Hanoi: Saigon's roads are wide boulevards streaming with a constant river of traffic dominated by hordes of scooters who take over the streets and pavements. Eventually we concluded that if you were to adopt the tactic of walking slowly and steadily across the road you could probably cross blindfolded. However, there is more to the city than its city-scale traffic. Without even thinking about trying to navigate the city on wheels, we walked: foot-power is as almost always the most interesting mode of transport in a city. You get up close to things and breathe it in. We strolled around the main sights from the Opera House to the colonial French Post Office, which is still very much in use, though also occupied by a continuous crowd of tourists snapping at the elegant interior with smartphones. Next to the post office is the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica of Saigon, modelled as many are, on the original Notre-Dame. This slice of the city feels a bit like a little Paris even some new buildings slotted in are almost like replicas. Another place that feels very French, probably because it was established by them, is the National Museum of Vietnamese History which details Vietnam from its prehistory to its modern history with various displays of stone tools, Khmer statues, just enough information to read in its entirety, plus a century-old mummy to gawp at. And then there's Independence Palace which in its current form, after being rebuilt in the 1960s, is a geometric dream of simplicity and solid lines, a bastion of modernism with a well trimmed garden from the French era. The palace is more than worth the entrance fee of 40,000 dong (£1.30). The basement, a base of communications doubling as an emergency bunker, was especially interesting with its classic '60s decor and office furniture and technology like broadcasting equipment and word processors on show in well dusted situ. The kitchen, grand meeting rooms and private quarters are all open to the public, the art and regal furniture in stark majestic contrast to the minimalist design of the building. If you like photography and design you will want your camera with you when you visit.

Outside on the grass next to the grand turning circle is a replica of the tank that famously smashed though the gates on 30th April 1975, when apparently, according to an Australia man we met outside, the guards were about to open the middle gate anyway.

Away from passive sightseeing you can engage in active haggling at the Ben Thanh Market. It's packed with food, toiletries, electricals, souvenirs, all manner of items for daily life. Housed inside a big building on a grid system the market is easily navigated and enjoyed. We bargained with a stall owner for some coffee and drip filter because we just couldn't enough of Vietnamese coffee. Westerners are well catered for in Saigon. The expat and tourist scene culminates in a long raucous strip of restaurants and bars all out to get your business with confusing happy hours and blaring music, all contending with each other for your money. Pick a bar, take seat out the front and watch the madness unfold: fire breathers perform for money up and down the road getting much too close for comfort so you can feel the searing heat of the flames--we saw one guy get the back of his shirt singed as he was working at a bar. Local food vendors sell Vietnamese tidbits like dried squid and sugar rolls, portable karaoke is wailed into and as the night goes on the raucous atmosphere of young Vietnamese and tourists culminates in a drunken debauchery that eventually slips away into the side streets in search of dancing and darker pasttimes.

We joined one such foray which led us to an empty bar where a man rolled one joint for us for 10000 dong whilst his maybe-girlfriend sliced a pill in half with a giant carving knife and then tried to give the halves to us. We weren't into it and declined. But she got pretty angry and combined with the blade she was holding and her unhinged demeanour we were happy to just hand over the money for the joint and go get high. A seedy undercurrent runs close to the surface of the southern Vietnamese city. Warnings about keeping your phone and belongings glued to you are not unfounded, since drive-by purse snatchings are frequent and drugs are but a question away from any nocturnal situation. The day we arrived, as we walked down an alley searching for our hotel using google maps, a woman motioned urgently for us to put our iPad away and we never took out it again.

In such recent history Saigon has transitioned from being a friend to foe. Tactfully positioned by the USA as a stronghold for their fight against Viet Cong's communist ideology, the city was bombarded and destroyed, then accepted like a wayward family member as Vietnam unified after the long war. Saigon is no doubt the underdog city that's grown very big very rapidly. The rusted layers of history and modern day struggles converge and combine in the buzzing urban heat of a real-life half-dystopia. Edgy and hard but well-ordered and still unfolding as it flows into the future.


  • Saigon Inn, £13.50 (40,0000 Dong) a night for a basic double room with en suite, including breakfast.
    Tucked down one of the many labyrinths of alleyways in Saigon is the Saigon Inn. The guesthouse was a little hard to find at first but we were really glad to have stayed here. We arrived at around 7am and were exhausted after getting off the night train from Hue, the staff greeted us extremely warmly with smiles. It was too early for us to check into our room but that didn't matter: the guy and girl running this place happily offered us breakfast for free in their cosy kitchen which was more than we expected. We chose breakfast from an immense menu of around 50 options and it came served with a plentiful platter of fruits. Our room was ready early and it was clean and neat; even though we chose the cheapest room option we were happy. At the end of our stay we were sad to leave our new friends who made our stay so comfortable and made us feel so welcome even though they must have hundreds of travellers pass through their doors every month. We would stay here again.

Friday, 15 September 2017


It would be very easy to say that this track is ambient and ethereal and leave it at that. However there is much more to the continual hypnotic hum of synth and wordless voices that call and cry throughout than a cleanse of the soul, or as background music for chillment—it is actually the opposite. Much like with his previous track 'silhouette', pastel creates this whirlwind of sound in 'stammer' that blocks and muffles the outside world, stuns and clears the mind, in order to set a very lonely scene. It is a vast landscape and there is nothing but the wind which is howling but muffled and there's you yourself standing in its midst as it whips up the sand. The colour is down so low it might as well be greyscale.

Talking about the track, pastel writes that it "deals most explicitly with an inability to formulate language around the historical and generational trauma tackled in the preceding tracks of the EP." This is a reference to his latest self-release as a whole, absent, just dust, a collection of music that illustrates loss as viewed from the perspective of Native Americans, himself coming from this background. Words fail, unable to form into something that can fully explain what has been done to the New World's original people since European colonisation: a very big, very old subject. So it's no wonder that the voice in 'stammer' literally stammers, stuttering fricatives of words truncated, struggling, the forgotten language of communities in the dust, in the ghostly wind, the traumatic growl of sub-bass

  • πŸ”” 'stammer' is the finale of pastel's absent, just dust EP, released at the end of last month, which you can grab from Bandcamp. Half the proceeds taken from its sales will be given to FreshestCollective.org, "who have provided continued legal support to water protectors since the founding of the Sacred Stone Camp."

pastel Internet Presence ☟
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To find a sort of absolutism for sounds and styles of sounds in the music world today is something of a rare thing. Genres have become so fluid and superfluous a notion that, instead of being rallied around and defining a fanbase, they are treated more like palettes, or moodboards, and can be blended in new ways according the artists' desires. And so it is with musicmaker DUCKY. In particular 'What U Say' is a cocktail of chiptune, VGM, dubstep, pop, footwork, drum and bass, an experimental track, as many tracks that make their way into the pages of yes/no tend to be; gone is the label of 'experimental' as mere code for 'abstract' or 'unlistenable', experimental is vibrant and fresh and very online.

But to say that is to discredit the clear leaning towards, or rather the roots in, rave and specifically dubstep and the combination of sweet upbeatness – euphoria – and hard, noisy, quite dark manifestations that loom in both. 'What U Say' begins something like a track from SNES racer Top Gear, triumphal synths blaring overdriven abrasive, pulsing bass bobbling with excitement. It builds, handclaps taking us to the apex from where we plummet into grinding squelching synth and a punchy thudding beat. Vocodered vocals skip like a robotic sirensong. A small bridge where marimba-like chimes resound darkly amidst warm crackles and ominous tides of sub-bass gloop. And at breakneck speed: rapid kicks take us back into the chaos of neon bubblegum high-end melodies and scraping searing synth that storms with the beat.

Delicately, that chiming once more in earshot, DUCKY's track ends. And you realise, despite the squalling dubstep sounds at work, despite the familiar rhythms, it is alive with freshness, with emotivity, illustrating chaos and calm like an electronic symphony.

DUCKY Internet Presence ☟
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"DBZ was the most popular anime in UK (and possibly world wide) when I was growing up," writes Walter Ego via an email to us. We all know that acronym: Dragonball Z, successor to the also much loved manga/anime Dragonball. To say that it is the main influence on the Sheffield musicmaker's latest EP would be an understatement—it is more accurately an homage to the series, a love-letter in three tracks to the fight scenes and funny bits of this rather important part of animation history, raw skittering beats like the machine-gun midair punches exchanged between friend and foe, cartoon samples, mystic instruments that summon an immediate tangible fantasy world.

And it's not just Walter Ego and his Seven Star Ball EP which have been clearly affected by Goku and the gang. "If you listen to grime you will know that it is very often referenced by emcees and finds its way into other genres too from time to time," he explains. Why? Well, the good guys always win. And very often the good guys aren't as strong as the bad guys and it takes a great deal of literal superhuman effort to defeat them. Something resonates in that: the power, through sheer force of will and against all the odds, to win, to save the day, to be the best, mirrors what it's like on actual Earth—in a world saturated with individuality, and especially in the grime world, asserting yourself as the best through skill and hard work is indeed the way to the top.


w h o   a r e   y o u ?   w h e r e   a r e   y o u   f r o m ?   w h a t   d o   y o u   d o ?
I'm Walter.


I make electronic music-influenced underground club music, rap and almost anything I'm interested in.

h o w   d i d   y o u   s t a r t   c r e a t i n g   m u s i c ?

I've been playing instruments since I was old enough to walk but I first started making beats seriously when I was around 19-20. I used to go the DnB and Dubstep parties in Manchester and Sheffield listening to a range of different DJs and producers and think, "I'd like to have a go at this". Someone gave me a copy of FL Studio and I began making simple stuff, that eventually led to really complicated stuff!  

h o w   w o u l d   y o u   d e s c r i b e   y o u r   s o u n d ?

Extremely varied. My most recent EP is grime which is genre I've come back to often, but I've made everything from trap to afrobeat.

i s   t h e r e   a   p e r f e c t   t i m e   a n d   p l a c e   f o r   l i s t e n i n g   t o   y o u r   m u s i c ?

This EP needs to be heard as a part of a grime set, in my opinion. The tracks are high energy and are deliberately leaving space for an MC to drop bars. But honestly that's partly down to the listener. You wanna listen to it on the bus on the way to work? That's fine with me.

My most recent EP is paying homage to my love of DBZ and the unignorable influence anime has had on grime as a genre
w h a t   i n s p i r e s   y o u   m o s t   w h e n   m a k i n g   a   t r a c k ?
When I make grime it's partly the energy of the MCs that inspires me. Grime has always been about a relationship between vocal and rhythm. Partly it's just life and the world around me. I also look back a lot to music I've listened to over the years. I like anything that will give my music an different or unusual sound; people familiar with Indonesian music might recognise Gamelan bells in a track on this EP. But alongside that I might include FX noises and other bits that might be at home in a garage tune or even dub reggae.

That said, with this EP I only intended to make three grime instrumentals that would fit neatly into a set with other 140ish BPM music. I'm working on some other projects at the moment that encompass other genres/tempos/styles that are inspired by a wider palette of music.

w h a t   i s   y o u r   m o s t   m e m o r a b l e   m u s i c a l   e x p e r i e n c e ?

I've had a few. I can't say that it's my most memorable but maybe one of the more interesting moments of last year was DJing (by chance) for Skepta. My manager and close friend Lean Low from Bad Taste (the label on which my Seven Star Ball EP came out on) threw a party at a small place in Dalston. We had asked another close collaborator, Birmingham MC Slick Don to come down and perform a small intimate set.

But before Slick Don could perform out of nowhere for reasons unbeknownst to us Skepta and a number of other MCs including Nottingham's Mez arrived and asked if they could spit. Lean Low and I were genuinely a bit baffled as we hadn't invited them but were obviously happy to oblige. The resulting 30-40 minutes was a whirlwind of wheel-ups and top notch grime barring which I can happily say I really enjoyed.

As this was all going on, people outside started to clock that it was Skepta spitting and a sizeable crowd began trying to make there way in to the already quite full and extremely small venue. It was a pretty surreal, Slick Don still got to perform his set and even jumped in alongside Skeppy and others; although somewhat in shock having had no idea what had just happened either.

w h a t   a r e   y o u r   f a v o u r i t e   t h r e e   s o n g s   a t   t h e   m o m e n t ?

Favourite is really hard to say but I can recommend a few that I'm listening to:

Rex Lawson & His Majors Band Of Nigeria – Oko

FKJ – Vibin' Out with (((O)))

Jay Z – The Story of O.J.

w h o   d o   y o u   m o s t   a d m i r e   i n   t h e   m u s i c   w o r l d ?

DJ Khaled.

i n   y o u r   o p i n i o n ,   w h a t   i s   t h e   f u t u r e   o f   m u s i c ?


w h a t ' s   t h e   f u t u r e   o f   y o u r   m u s i c   –   w h a t   d o   y o u   h o p e   t o   d o   n e x t ?

As I mentioned, I'm working on some projects with greater musical scope and a mixture of genres and styles. Watch this space.

w h a t   i s   m o s t   i m p o r t a n t   t o   y o u ?

True happiness and good friends. 


  • πŸ”” Walter Ego's Seven Star Ball EP is out now on Bad Taste Records. Stream or download from your fav service here, if you like.

Walter Ego Internet Presence ☟

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Thursday, 14 September 2017


Heavy on the bass glooping swampy digital gloss clean and rounded with angularity in its gradually sharpening shape and the offbeat syncopation as the thudding techno kicks round it up lasso it together with small but explosive snares that thin and crashing echo in the nocturnal ambience of the track. A great sense of minimalism pervades this one, small changes subtly altering the route of the track as it trundles along like watching a storm that hasn't yet arrived is not yet overhead can't feel the rain but distantly the thunder is booming and the clouds even blacker than the night sky itself and towering. Watching from a distance. Not pulling you in nor under but mesmerising from afar, 'All The Time' by Seattle producer DYR slips into this state of easy awe, a digestible titan of sound.

It is practically defined by that bass, present at almost every moment, which shifts during the track's duration shifts slightly, becomes sharper fuzzier more distorted but not extremely, and also it writhes with delay later on, the now wooden twang of it more rapid fire than its original stark simplicity. Throughout there is a little procession of organic sound in the form of palm muted guitar, whether synthetic or real it is difficult to tell, but this provides a dim twinkle for the murky atmosphere, as do the later additions of gossamer layers of ambient synth like laser light crowning odd rock formations, haloing trees, glittering on dark dewy nighttime grass. A picture-painting morsel that is pneumatic and tireless in its dance energy, and emphatically chilled, yet without a single drop nor vocal sample in earshot, eschewing needless things for the barebones of beat and bass with little jewels of ambience to decorate.

DYR Internet Presence ☟
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In this track there is power and there is mysticism and there is beauty. A sort of expansive feeling that takes its cue from the reverb that seems to lance through clouds and into the stratosphere. A definite thud in the beat that has been bludgeoned into the shape of grime, sparse and robust, gaps where gaps feel good, the stop-start rhythm of it like a kickstart to the heart and blood pumping. And with this foundation, crinkling chimes form the main ornamentation, like gold foil covering jagged rocks on stark outcrops, jangling and warped and alien but warm in their mesmeric resounding.


This is the sound of Sheffield musicmaker Walter Ego. 'Sensu Beans' is essentially a classic minimalist grime instrumental with a futuristic lilt that channels Dragonball Z, the wholly fresh and weird and exciting feel of it with the homely nostalgic familiarity that this quite universal anime inspired and continues to inspire in many people. Combined with many samples presumably taken from the show itself – unplaceable, unintelligible but recognisable – the chimes summon that same alien warmth, a bulge of gradual bass creeping in the beat skittering virtuoso with clacking snares and hi-hats that tick staplegun and whirr uzi fast by turns and the sshh of sheafing shakers. And we are all healed, as well as amazed, by the miracle senzu beans.

  • πŸ”” 'Sensu Beans' is taken from Walter Ego's clearly DBZ-inspired Seven Star Ball EP, released last month via fellow Sheffield-based label Bad Taste Records. You can purchase the three-track wonder of hard beats and fluid sounds over here if you like.

Walter Ego Internet Presence ☟

Monday, 4 September 2017


The emotive nature of this charged with nostalgia with the crackle of many moons past with the delights of some place some time that you reach for fingers outstretched and straining the odyssey of memory a fog in the mind slowly curling and crowding and fingertips glazed with yearning aim yesteryearly seeking for that one thing which is a something composite of many things this nebula of fond experience. It is beatmaker daisily's utilisation of this piano sample that so washes the track in gallons of organic ancestral yearning, a dusty tract of high-pitched keys that call out coldly chiming into a night that does not seem to be listening, or that listens a silently weeps knowing it can do nothing to ease the distress.

Wow. And that piano comes lifted, the musicmaker tells us via email, from an episode of the PokΓ©mon anime called Pikachu's Goodbye: "it is pretty emotional if i say so myself." Light organs accompany the twinkling keys in the nicely named 'jeff's beat / squirtles don't drown' (it's true—they don't), now warped as if distorted through bleary tear-filled eyes, now fluttering like panicked heartbeats, providing soulful ambience on the backdrop of a crackling nocturnal canopy of sound, insectoid and chirruping, itself reminiscent of summer days, specifically summer nights, humid endless. The beat is persistent, the rapid double-tap thud of the kick, the full-bodied clack of the snare.

  • πŸ”” This nostalgic track is taken from LESS FEEL I, the beat tape by daisily, which you can download from Bandcamp. It's dedicated, says he, "to the progenitors of my friends, they inspired this by n' large".

daisily Internet Presence ☟


Slowly slowly this track rolls along, the eternal trundle of curling clouds across a greyscale landscape, the horizontal energy of chillwave simplicity sweeping into the foundation of this track: the dom-dom glooping bass of the kicks and the thin abrasion of the snare tinged with lo-fi, the soft constancy of the synth constant like a tide in the sidechain of it all. 'Heavy Heart' unfolds like a flower turning and opening to the day's first flood of light, the vocals of Gothenburg-based Italian trio Emmecosta adding silken texture to the track, the languorous luxury of it heightened. Here we are laid-back and loafing, bleary and wandering.

And around 2:40 the brief disappearance of the beat, relegated to its most bassy parts, highlights another element that bejewels the track; these high-pitched pings, synth or effected guitar it may be, how they cry into the air, splashing watercolours, the stifling distortion of it, the degradation of the pure sound conjuring this feel of something pushed to its limit—and the energy in this scathing absent melodies is something that aches and pines and yearns, careering into a blanket of dazzling stars. The electronic tricks of 'Heavy Heart', the sometimes staccato cuttings through the track, that ebb-flow sidechain, both betray and bolster how human it is, how organic, how like a melancholy nostalgic longing howl into the ether it is.

Emmecosta Internet Presence ☟