Thursday, 25 July 2013
Mixmag has brought to you a premiere of this absolutely stonking remix of Gentleman's Dub Club's "Give It Away" by House producer Planas. With hectic beats, a dizzyingly funky groove and enough pummeling bass to vibrate your ear drums into blissful submission, I'm quite certain that nothing released thus far this year will get you dancing quite like this. This tune is sure to be dropped in clubs all across the country due to its sheer danceability. Expect madness when it does.
You can stream the premiere via Mixmag/ Soundcloud below:
Album: Field of Reeds
Release Date: Infectious Music
Southend quartet aim for masterpiece on orchestral 3rd album, but only occasionally reach the heights required
When confronted with the argument that Classical music puts all other genres to shame in terms of its virtuosity, organisation and its mesmerizing ability to push and pull at the senses, it's certainly hard to deny. Southend band These New Puritans have always been a group with the desire to push boundaries looming over and seeping from every pour of their music. After their dark and lurching contortions of Electronica and Hip Hop on their widely acclaimed 2010 album "Hidden", they appeared to be THE British band to keep people guessing, and presently re- appear with something incredible for their 3rd album.
Three years later and we arrive at "Field of Reeds", an album so meticulously crafted that it must have taken close to every waking breath to plan and piece together. It's both an expected and unexpected occurrence. After the primarily electronic premise of their first two albums, a record of 9 drawn- out orchestral symphonies certainly wouldn't have been high on many people's list of guesses. Nevertheless, the question "Hidden" begged was "where on Earth do they go from here?", and well, Prokofiev- inspired mysteria, if not a natural progression, is certainly a just one. But is it incredible? Is it the masterpiece it SHOULD be? Alas, no.
There are three pieces of astonishing achievement on "Field of Reeds." The first is the 3rd track "The Light In Your Name", which transpires from a ghostly, spacious hum into a hellish contortion of horns and pianos, conjuring an atmosphere wrought with mysterious guilt.
The second is "V (Island Song)", reflective in manner (Jack Barnett opens up on the lyric "On the Island there are no people or places, and I'll go walking, and I'll know where to find you") and is seemingly promotional of an idyllic paradise. It's the most robust moment here, a discernible groove and dramatically performed piano piece which then descends into a wind- swept, echoing final 5 minutes. The final astonishment is "Nothing Else", a piece that swells and smacks ridiculous amounts of a full orchestra in elemental force.
However, these are the only moments likely to shake you in their vastness and craft on "Field of Reeds." "Fragment Two" and "Organ Eternal" seem restricted by omnipresent chains and are not allowed to evolve into beasts that will swallow you whole, despite the symphonic close of the former. Opener "This Guy is in Love with You" is deliberately abstract with it's distant female vocal sample, an simply comes off as pretentious.
In a way, "Field of Reeds" is These New Puritans' "Kid A." Not that it matches it's brilliance, but it does match it's intent. This is certainly something to be applauded; all of the band's soul and cohesion went in to forming this, and when it works it's heart- bursting. But it's a mighty shame that, in the case of "Field of Reeds", beauty and consistency don't get on well.
Key tracks: Nothing Else, The Light in Your Name, V (Island Song)
For fans of: Radiohead, Portico Quartet
Album: Les Revenants Soundtrack
Record Label: Rock Action
Mogwai's score for the French TV thriller is majestic business as usual
Here's the thing with soundtracks; they are very rarely perceived as being things of stand alone merit. Although music in films is often what evokes the most emotion and the way we feel about the things happening on screen, all too rarely is that music placed with in it's own context and allowed to stand for itself. But if any band is capable of condemning such a perspective then it's Mogwai. The Glasgow instrumental rockers have made a career out of soaring, destructive highs that entail that film- score epicness more often than not. Thus, their soundtrack for fantastic French spook- a- thon Les Revenants doesn't necessarily sound like a soundtrack.
It shouldn't be approached as a soundtrack either. When explaining the writing and recording process behind the piece to The Quietus, guitarist John Cummings said: "We were aware of trying to keep it not as a typical soundtrack, more just music that doesn't necessarily do anything that has a bit of presence." This laissez- faire attitude is atypical to the Mogwai song crafting process, but the soundtrack is an unnervingly atmospheric as it is beautiful. A unsettling, tingling chill worms its way down the spine of a lot of the tracks here, allowing for certified levels of mystique, intrigue, and of course (it being a Mogwai album) dynamics.
"Hungry Face" sets the tone stylistically, with it's deep, mournful violins, chiming xylophone melodies and dramatic, fuzz- laden drums, as well as a clear cut ascent. They delve into the creepy straight away afterwards though, with "Jaguar"'s ominous throb and spacious, daunting piano chords all languishing behind a futuristic synth overture. "The Huts" contains a paranoid, lurching guitar trajectory and evolves into a sparse but brilliantly nuanced crawl.
"Fridge Magic" is comprised of twinkling xylophones and heavy handed, doom drenched keys. "Portugal" begins with a spooky synth patter and distorted drones before becoming an exceedingly dark hybrid of distant drums, a hypnotic, unnerving piano melody and ever present rippling fuzz.
Then there are the songs like "Special N." Swelling, climactic beasts where intensity grows and finds comfort throughout. On the aforementioned triumphantly plucked guitar arpeggios join hands with ever more grandiose synth and string arrangements. "Modern" is a glorious mesh of guttural bass, pulsating Fuck Buttons- esque fizzy synths and faded out electronic drums as revolving, intertwining melodies calmly soar. Most majestic of all though is closer "Wizard Motor." Again it relays the hefty, scuzzy bass effects employed several times throughout the record, as well as glacial walls of shimmering electronics and entwining guitars that move to promote the most sky- kissing of effects.
Essentially, "Les Revenants" works and feels like a Mogwai full- length. The only real difference is that this time around they don't need soaring guitars and crushing drums to prove that they are still the masters of dynamics. If you haven't watched Les Revenants it comes highly recommended, but even so, stick this on; it's a majestic piece that conjures visuals of it's own.
Key Tracks: Wizard Motor, Portugal, Modern
For fans of: Explosions in the Sky, Fuck Buttons
Wednesday, 24 July 2013
Album: Unnatural Selection
Record Label: Tanglade Ltd.
Colorado Thrash metallers offer another album of groove- ridden, old school fury and political righteousness
Music is at its most prolific when it has something to stand for, for example a political agenda, or a personal analysis. This is a concept that has never been lost on Thrash Metal, and indeed it certainly isn't lost on young Colorado wrecking crew Havok. As far as political and social righteousness goes, "Unnatural Selection" really couldn't have come at a better time.
As state intervention in America and the ever- increasing amount of surveillance endorsed beckons a nightmarish Orwellian future ever closer, Havok have jumped and attacked the social sphere with a handful of destructive riffs and a few strongly held convictions, and it's as pummeling as it is thrilling.
"I am the State" kicks things off with hungry, groove- ridden tenacity and acts as evidence that the band are just as competent at shredding as they are at political diagnosis. "It is True" is certainly the most catchy moment here, a stellar hard- rocking groove resounds around anti- establishment (or more presently anti- media) vocal fire (sample lyric: "How many people need to die before you wake up and give your fucking brain a try?"). "Living Nightmare" is the biggest thrill of all however, a bulldozing riff and groove interjected with more classic Thrash verbosity.
Of all the statements of intent made by Thrash revivalist bands in recent years, "Unnatural Selection" can count itself as one of those that really drives home both a message and how talented a band Havok are. Making a great racket whilst raising a middle finger to the Government is certainly no new concept, but when they do it with this much pile- driving force it's hard not to pay extra attention.
Key Tracks: Living Nightmare, Worse Than War, It Is True
For fans of: Megadeth, Slayer
Monday, 22 July 2013
Ugly, pummelling, dirty, sludgy, swampy, brutal... All these words and tenfold more could be used to describe the sound of destructive young Doom Metallers Stone Titan. This two track demo is available to download for free from the band's Bandcamp, and is a raw, primal and battering ram- esque exercise in the kind of sludge- smothered depths these guys adhere to. With song titles like "Peace, Love, and get the fuck out of my face" and "Suburban Safari", it's obvious that these guys subscribe to the Eyehategod school of thought when it comes to sheer Southern- fried unfriendliness. Expect a review of their new full- length "Scratch N Sniff" soon, but in the meantime, this demo will suffice as a nice introduction to the band's deliriously heavy sound.
Download the demo and stream "Scratch N Sniff" via the link below:
Former Red Hot Chilli Peppers guitarist John Frusciante has released the next chapter in his ever- developing and enveloping solo career (which is not almost as old as his former band) in the shape of "Sol." It's perhaps one of the most avant- garde tracks Frusciante has produced yet. It starts off as a match of twinkling synths and calm, brooding orchestral manouvers, interjected with different percussive techniques and some distant, mystic vocal wails from Frusciante. It then descends into a hectic, ever more dissonant Squarepusher- esque venture of jazzy drums, weird, incoherent synth patters and resounding, bubbling electronic parts. There's so much going on in this track that makes it hard to dissect, but it's beautiful in it's discordant strangeness.
Brooklyn Psych- Rock quintet Crystal Stilts return with the first track to be released from their upcoming new album "Nature Noir", entitled "Star Crawl." I was a big fan of the band's brooding and atmosphere- steeped 2011 album "In Love With Oblivion", and although some of the choice Crystal Stilts trademarks reside here (reverb- laden guitars, woozy but beautiful synths and mystic vocals), the song is much lighter in tone than much of the material on their previous album. What it lacks in atmosphere it makes up for in sheer, lazy pleasure, and has certainly whetted my appetite for the release of "Nature Noir."
"Nature Noir" is due out on September 17th via Sacred Bones.
Album: Sons of Anarchy EP
Record Label: Hyperdub
Neither producer offers anything particularly prolific, but some versatile beats mean that these will be joyous to dance to in London clubs
As if any proof was needed of this, but if the compilation "Grime 2.0" released earlier this year achieved anything, it assured listeners that Grime is one of the most versatile and creative hot spots in underground UK music right now. Since his 2010 full- length "Undeniable", Terror Danjah has assured listeners of plenty of production promise, whilst Montreal Techno stalwart Champion has been proving himself over the course of the last 10 years.
"Sons of Anarchy" then provides the perfect opportunity for the producers to grab the bull by the horns in terms of collaboration and reveal more of their collective worth. Alas, "Sons of Anarchy" is more interested in shuddering bass lines and boogie down rhythms, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it does see its own potential limited. Nevertheless, the versatility of Terror Danjah's stonkingly funky "Glide" with it's squelchy beeps switched up and faded out at every turn makes for elaborate creative premise, whilst the hectic, percussion lead Dancehall of the collaborative "Stone Island" pummels with its hefty slabs of low- end thunder.
Unfortunately, Champion's own cuts fail to be so rewarding, but "Bowser's Castle" is suitably equipped with cartoony, Nintendo- esque synths for entertaining listening.
Ultimately, this is not the work of brilliance it easily could have been. However, some of the songs on "Sons of Anarchy" are likely to prove very favourable when dropped in London clubs. Considering that is this EP's main end, it serves its purpose well enough.
Key Tracks: Terror Danjah- Glide, Stone Island, Champion- Bowser's Castle
For fans of: Rinse FM, Wiley
Album: Summer Knights
Record label: Self- Released
It's the darker moments on "Summer Knights" that Bada$$ really proves how valuable he is
Much has been written and spouted about the return of the "Rap clique", a term that makes said species appear in rude health in 2013. Each Hip Hop crew to appear over the last two years has emanated a certain vibe and therefore encouraged a certain level of hype (the most renowned subject of this shaky hyperbolic game being Odd Future). And yet it seems the only group really deserving of the praise heaped atop them is Brooklyn's Pro Era, spearheaded by the prodigious Joey Bada$$.
Via his "1999" mixtape last year and the Pro Era posse recording earlier this year, Joey Bada$$ has been carving himself a legacy as one of the most revered new artists in Hip Hop. Although there's nothing as career and talent affirming as the likes of "Survival Tactics" or "World Domination" on his latest offering, "Summer Knights" is 17 tracks of a man reveling in his own legacy. And he is most certainly entitled to do so.
Right from the word go he wastes no time in proving how versatile an MC he is. He spits over the busy, glazey keyboard constructions of "Alowha", the ambidextrous drum and percussive samples and soulful saxophone melody of "Hilary Swank" and the ragga- incorporated summer bounce of "My Youth." As has been the case with all of Bada$$' previous projects, it's his intellectual braggadocious wordplay that reigns supreme here, but he's at his most prolific when he's rapping about the darker side of his emotions.
For example, on "The Death of YOLO" where he recounts a time he almost lost his life in a car crash. "Right on Time" finds him experiencing heart- warming romance, an oasis of certainty amidst the misogyny he's prone to on the rest of the tape. "We not only lovers but homies", he asserts, before a certain level of doubt clouds his mind; "Sometimes I feel threatened 'cause she knows all my weaknesses", but the idea of having that one special person holds true.
He sounds remorseful on "Sit N prey", unveiling even more vulnerability as he raps "Why do I live my life this way?" in the chorus, and then later "I see better days looking back" over a fusion of soft keyboard chords and an unnerving synth hum. Most emotionally potent of all though is "LongliveSteelo" and ode to the tragically deceased crew member Capital Steez. It's incredibly touching, as Bada$$ intones "you was the big brother I never ever had" over the gorgeous, plucked guitar chords.
In between the moments of lyrical righteousness on "Summer Knights", Joey Bada$$ indulges in the same kind of esoteric self- congratulation he's prone to, and it can become tiresome. However, there are a good handful of songs here that continue Bada$$' evident worth beyond any doubt.
Key Tracks: LongLiveSteelo, '95 til Infinity, Right on Time
For fans of: Nas, Wu Tang Clan
Friday, 19 July 2013
Album: Filthy EP
Record Label: Ninja Tune
Even though it's only 4 tracks, the latest from Kevin Martin is a sonic cultural melting point
To anyone reasonably well versed in the underground scenes of UK Grime, Dub, Jamaican Dancehall, Garage, Industrial and even Heavy Metal music, Kevin Martin (aka The Bug) should need no introduction. With a finger thoroughly dipped in each of the aforementioned genres, as well as a plethora of different projects and with a roll- call of the underground's most visionary artists on speed dial, over the past 20 years he's helped shape UK eclecticism in irreversible ways.
Martin's latest release, "Filthy", is not the long- overdue sophomore full- length to succeed 2006's excellent "London Zoo", but even though it's only 4 tracks long it has a wealth of vibes to offer. "Filthy" isn't just about enormous, stinking bass lines. It's also about characters, culture and sonic experimentation. Just like all martin's releases, it brings together a wealth of styles and deliveries into a steaming melting pot of characteristic clashes.
The premise of "Filthy" consists of two original beats produced by Martin, but each time tweaked slightly and given entirely different flavours by the protagonists who perform over them. "Freakshow", featuring Detroit rapper Danny Brown, is the only example of Americanisation here. A ghostly and reverberating female vocal sample swoons in and out before Danny Brown's esoteric, comedic delivery fires off, and he barely pauses for breath. Lyrically it's concerned with the same raw, untamed excess that his 2011 mixtape "XXX" did, so it's Danny Brown's caricature continued with lines like "she look so tacky, pussy smell like crabby patties." The beat itself has a trap style drum inflection, a haunting synth wail over the dark, pugilistic main melody.
"Dirty", featuring long- time associate Flowdan, revolves around the same beat but it's tweaked and stripped down to it's bare bones to maximize the cold, brick- to- skull intensity of the most abrasive of UK Grime. Flowdan's perspective entails societal injustices ("Turned on the 10 o' clock news, I was just disgusted"), as well as providing a summary for the desperate decline in social cohesion current in the UK ("the situation is dirty, fuck that, it's murky.")
The second beat endorsed on "Filthy" is full of hypnotic, rhythmic wobs, rumbling bass and a high brow melody, as well as crisp, spacious snare hits. Daddy Freddy presides over the tainted "Kill Them", assuming the role of the weed- toking, violent London Gangsta through his gnarly Jamaican baritone.
Flowdan re- appears on closer "Louder." He provides a verse entailing a mixture of braggadocious self- proclamation and a unifying community spirit ("We need it Louder, Louder, Louder, Louder"). It's a surprisingly positive slice of straight up London party atmosphere.
Whilst the wait for a new Bug full- length drags on, it's releases like "Filthy" that means we can't forget how important some of the work he does is, not only for UK electronic music, but for cultural identity as a whole. "Filthy" may be more about individual perspectives than general consensus, but it's masterminded in a way that means it's a hub of creativity and collectivism.
Key Tracks: Kill Them ft. Daddy Freddy, Dirty ft. Flowdan
For Fans Of: Techno Animal, Kode9
Thursday, 18 July 2013
Album: Manifest Decimation
Record Label: Southern Lord
Southern Lord's latest crossover newcomers only thrill occasionally
Southern Lord's penchant for putting out crushing crossover albums over the past 18 months or so has seen them rise to be held amongst the higher echelons of esteem in Metal. Unfortunately, for all their distinctly old- school fusing of Thrash and Hardcore Punk, Texas quintet Power Trip don't have an original idea to their name, meaning that "Manifest Decimation" struggles to remain interesting. However, the savage Slayer- esque rampage of "Conditioned to Death" and the Witch Trials story telling of "Drown" are both reasonably thrilling.
Key tracks: Conditioned to Death
For fans of: Exodus, Black Breath, Slayer
Wednesday, 17 July 2013
"Hive" is the latest track to be released from Odd Future rapper Earl Sweatshirt's upcoming debut full- length. It features Odd Future affiliates Casey Veggies and Vince Staples, but ultimately on this track Earl proves exactly why I think he's the most talented member of Odd Future. Rapping about everything from critics to cash accounts and the recession, his intellect and wordplay shines bright over the ominous, gritty low- end rattle and creepy synths. Combined with previous single "Chum", "Doris" is shaping up to be a hell of a release.
"Doris" is due for release August 20th via Tan Cressida.
Album: The Terror
Record Label: Bella Union
Wayne Coyne & Co. take you on a guided tour through a nightmarish but ultimately engulfing trip
Drugs and The Flaming Lips have always gone so much hand in hand that it's got to the point where psychedelics have become part of their ethos, it seems. More often than not you could put a Flaming Lips record on whilst stone cold sober and feel absolutely frazzled by a cocktail of handpicked wild mushrooms and Ecstacy by the end of it.
That is not the case with "The Terror" however, because it sounds as though Coyne's amphetamine psychosis has finally caught up with him. "The Terror" is a nightmarish, unnerving trip through paranoia, death and bleakly beautiful but equally as alienating walls of sound. "Try To Explain" is a bleak account of heartbreak and Coyne sings "Try to explain why you're leaving, I don't think I'll understand" over glacial, shimmering drones, reverb laden rushes and painfully sad harmonies. "You Are Alone" is a schizophrenic session of freakish loops, rogue synths and ghostly swoons. "Butterfly, How Long It takes to Die" is propelled by an off- kilter bass line and tribal, primal drum roll combined with sparse synth circulations as Coyne moans "If you've ever really seen the sun set, you will know how long it takes to die."
They save the best until last however, in the shape of "Always there... In Our Hearts." It' tense and horrified, with Coyne reminding us thusly: "Always there in our hearts, there is evil that wants out." The song builds into a pugilistic, soaring climax whilst keeping the tone bleak.
"The Terror" certainly isn't easy listening, but it's music that will whisk you away to another place, another mindset, and that is it's most momentous achievement. There's not point trying to resist, eventually it will engulf you.
Key Tracks: Always There... In Our Hearts, Try To Explain, Butterfly, How Long It Takes To Die
For fans of: Pink Floyd, Super Furry Animals
One assumes Destruction Unit are called thus for a reason, and that reason would be that that's exactly what they sound like. "The World on Drugs", the first joint to be released from their upcoming debut "Deep Trip", is a chaotic, swirling, stonkingly heavy and trippy ride through reverb- laden hardcore punk a la Pissed Jeans. All distortion suffocated guitars and huge spades of synth hiss and raring noise, it's one of the most pissed off sounding (if not one of the most coherent) things I've heard so far this year.
"Deep Trip" is due out August 20th via Sacred Bones Records.
Ariel Pink and Jorge Elbrecht have teamed up to bring us some summery, lazy pop- rock via the way of new single "Hang On To Life." With it's lo- fi, stripped back production, that lazy West Coast feel, dreamy synths and swirling harmonies, it's classic Pink, and with lyrics like "you screwed the pooch now face it, the truth is in the sky", you know he's in full on Pink mode. It's perhaps not one of the most interesting songs he's put out of late, but it will certainly make pleasant Sunday afternoon listening, especially in this weather.
Brooklyn synth- pop duo Holy Ghost! have released a new song entitled "Teenagers In Heat", and it should come as a surprise to no one that it's a slice of unashamed '80s cheesiness. From the throbbing synth- bass underbelly to the glacial whooshes and church bells that resound around it, it sounds like something halfway between Ariel Pink and a more electronic Pulp. Lyrically the song seems to be about heartbreak, a romance of times past swirled around with feelings of regret, youthfulness and self- destructiveness. "I was as lame as I've possibly ever been" sings Nick Millhiser, before later on saying "It's like when the band broke up, all the fans got choked up, 'cause they knew we'd never happen again."
Holy Ghost!'s second album "Dynamics" is due out on September 10th via James Murphy's DFA label.
Alternative Hip- Hop legends Atmosphere have released a new track entitled "Bob Seger," in what appears to be a homage to the country/ rockabilly songsmith himself. It's littered with Seger references, and Slug proves once again that he's one of the most prolific lyricists in the game with quips like "Come and stare into the eyes of a landslide" and "the more I travel, the further I see, the more I feel like my shadow ain't following me" over a soulful, slightly stoned beat fueled by a beautiful guitar melody and a cracked female vocal sample.
Record Label: Universal
A refreshing and well- made statement of intent, but the future remains uncertain for House's new heroes
I remember the first time I read about Disclosure. It was in NME in late 2011, and even though they were only given about 100 words of space, it seemed inevitable off the back of singles like "Tenderly/ Flow" that some kind of stardom waited. Even so, if the Lawrence brothers have learnt anything over the past 18 months it's that things blow up incredibly quickly. So quickly in fact that by now Disclosure's level of success means they are likely to be far more than the kind of passing fad that such a fast ascension often enables.
Which, actually, is a very good thing. "Settle" provides evidence of the duo's ability to not only occasionally make people want to dance like muthas, but also an unprecedented wealth in understanding of both old- school House and how to pen a hit. Ultimately such a level of understanding offers both refreshment and versatility, if room for a handful of missteps.
The songs that really stand out here are the ones that exercise said level of knowledge. The fantastically funky "When A Fire Starts To Burn" will take you straight back to the early '90s. "Stimulation" is driven by a dirty, pummeling bass line and layered percussive drum patterns. "Grab Her!" is a fusion of cut and paste vocal samples and squelching pips and beeps.
These songs work because of the space in which they're given to maneuver, but the majority of "Settle" comprises of vocal guest spots from relatively well- known C- list chartgoers. "White Noise" featuring Alunageorge and Eliza Doolittle's smokey intonations over "You and Me" still make for great listening, but the moments of real potential wear thin.
The summery bounce of "Defeated No More" featuring Friendly Fires' Ed McFarlane is certainly pleasant if annoyingly inoffensive, and the soft- House groove of "Help Me Lose My Mind" lacks what the vocals (provided by London Grammar) showcase in extraordinaire. Best of all on this roll- call is "Confess To Me", a gritty, hard- hitting but sensual banger vocalised by the delectable Jessie Ware.
All things considered, it's largely a mightily energetic and knowledgeable statement of intent, but there's a dark shadow lurking in the confines of Disclosure's future. If they get by with this much help from their friends already then the mainstream will become more and more tantalizing and we may see the interwoven old- school vibes that make this such a treat become more sparse. For good or for ill, Disclosure can only get bigger from here, but until that time comes it's worth enjoying "Settle" for what it is.
Key Tracks: When a Fire starts to Burn, Stimulation, Confess to Me (feat. Jessie Ware)
For fans of: Duke Dumont, Azari & III