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Category Archives: Critical Beats

panggg

When injected with melancholy, deftly placed space and a smidgen of pathos, dance music (at the lack of a better term) describes places dripping with a syrupy sepia; like hazy memories, ancient summers shot through super8 with the comforting ambiguity only such textural, instrumental music can lend.

Most cite Burial as responsible for propagating such elements amongst the delicate skipping rhythms and inky black bass of 2-step/dubstep/whatever but for me it all slotted into place with Ramadanman‘s ‘Blimey’ – the faint swelling pad and distant chattering voices rising amongst the woodblocks, creating similar colours to golden(i.e. Pause)-era Fourtet.

Whilst Ramadanman has (for me) failed to follow it up with anything to match it in terms of scope, Pangaea has quietly risen to the fore with tracks such as this, on Scuba‘s Hotflush. Just listen to that sound that starts to blend in at 1:50 – as mournful as a sighing processor…

Fast-forward to now for the hyper limited ‘Memories’ which takes the idea behind Skream’s diva-step anthem remix aka The Biggest Tune In The World (You know which one I mean), completely ignores it, buries it under 3 feet of clay and crafts something infinitely more nuanced and ultimately satisfying. Grab it now, if there’s still time.

Finally, grab his March mix which features above track at the very end. There’s still enough dubs there for you ‘spotters and top marks for the SL2/Acen/2 Bad Mice inclusions. Old skool hardcore FTW.

DOWNLOAD: Pangaea – Reprise Agency Mix

Tracklist:

01. SL2 – DJs take control (XL)
02. Martin Kemp – Bowser (unreleased)
03. 2 Bad Mice – Hold It Down (Moving Shadow)
04. Ramadanman – ??? (unreleased)
05. Micky Pearce – Innami (unreleased)
06. Luke Envoy – Uptown (unreleased)
07. Badawi – Lost Highway (unreleased)
08. Acen – Trip II The Moon (part II) (Production House)
09. Guido – Tango (unreleased)
10. Tempa t – Next Hype (Brackles remix) (unreleased)
11. Untold – Anaconda (forthcoming Hessle Audio)
12. Peverelist – The Blues (unreleased)
13. Joe – Rut (Hessle Audio)
14. Untold – I Can’t Stop This Feeling (Pangaea remix) (unreleased)
15. Pangaea – Memories (white)

clark_totems_flares

No talk of (Chris) Clark can avoid mention of 2006’s Body Riddle – his third long player and a modern electronica ‘perfect storm’, managing to sate the appetites of both the digital hi-fi kidz and the notoriously picky bearded purists with its delicate sample constructs and melancholy android melodies. Heavily indebted to the scene royalty of labelmates Autechre, Aphex, Plaid and the like, as good as it was its virtues still relied heavily on a familiar basis. A high-grade homage, Leone’s A Fist Full Of Dollars to Kurosawa’s Yojimbo. It is also I might add, very good.

His work since (2008’s Turning Dragon and this year’s Growls Garden EP) suggests an artist enamored with the ensuing success and live schedule that followed. Thick riffs and dancefloor elation worked themselves in amongst the gourmet distortion and more conventional breakdown/drop structures begun to replace the choppy edits, to the point where undeniable album highlight ‘Growls Garden’ (which is brooding synth-pop more than tasteful IDM) gets played by posh-trance doyen and Border Community label boss James Holden.

Better quality…

The above track is a triumph, its thumping midsection echoes the glorious crunch of gallic Ed Bangers Justice and requires mandatory air-punching. It also sees Clark follow fellow electronic virtuosos Cursor Miner and Tim Exile behind the microphone for the first time to complete a dark-wave anthem with more grandeur and pathos than the former and a hella more direct, physical appeal than the sometimes obtuse lab-coat boffinery of the latter.

The rest fades into a pleasant, sometimes impressive yet faintly directionless haze of classic acid warbling and fuzzed-out textures that feel included more out of compulsion than joy. Nothing else quite possesses the brio of the above track or exhibits the excitement he obviously felt crafting it. I urge Clark to continue extricating himself from the massive influence the 90s still has on electronica and plow full-steam ahead with his new identity as some sort of grand, gothic slayer of twee inanity.

For the moment get Body Riddle and Growls Garden EP, then wait.

paulWcd

‘Beat Generation’ (young Dilla/Madlib obsessives grouped together by er… someone) doyen Paul White‘s cut&paste hip-hop sampledelica arguably owes a lot to the 90s Mo’ Wax affiliates of yore but it’s his approach to the shared studio armoury that defines his voice. A more frenetic aesthetic keeps most tracks around the 2min mark and the beats simmering rather than drifting into a self-indulgent haze, ostensibly linked to our supposed modern split-second attention span but more likely thanks to the man’s day job as purveyor of library music for (among others) our dear old BBC.

Unsurprisingly It’s as celluloid an experience as any instrumental hip-hop record with one track (‘Flying Over Tokyo’) fashioned almost entirely from elements lifted from Katsuhiro Otomo’s superlative anime epic Akira and a smattering of dialogue from generally adored cult classics. ‘So what’s new?’ you snap distractedly but there’s an underlying, woody aroma of wholemeal English prog which lends a pastoral, psychedelic decoration not unlike Boards Of Canada brought up on the early Vertigo and Def Jam back catalogue (on second thoughts, they probably were). Instances such as King Crimson’s ’21st Century Schizoid Man’ bursting in via ‘The Uprising Of The Insane’ combine curiously well with the bumpy hip-hop rhythms, giving this LP an earthy organic base on which to plant the boombox jams.

Listen to the album in full here (and find out how you can commission Paul to personally make you some beats!)

…and grab this mix, courtesy of the unrelentingly engaging FADER. In fact, head over there now for an interview with Paul and label mate/cohort Bullion.

Download:Paul White’s FADER Mix
Intro
King Stitt – Herbsman – Trojen
Todd Rundgren – International Feel – Bearsville
BBC Radiophonic Orchestra – Doctor Who – BBC Records
Peter Baumann – This Day – Virgin
Joe Zawinul – In A Silent Way – Atlantic
Todd Rundgren – Never Never Land – Bearsville
Paul White – Highlife – Unreleased
Paul White – Universal Thoughts – Unreleased
Paul White – Alien Attack – Unreleased
Paul White – Get Em Up – Unreleased
Jo Jo Bennett – Leaving Rome -Trojen
Batucada Fantastica – Atabaques E Surdos – Musidisc
George Duke – OMI (Fresh Water) – Epic
Gong – And You Tried So Hard – Virgin
Utopia – Singring And The Glass Guitar – Bearsville
Paul White – Time Wars (Extended Version) – One Handed-Music

nads3

Following the threads of genius through commercial hip-hop to the logical destination of tomorrow, there comes a collaboration of fwd-thinking youths (via label/collective creative powerhouse LuckyMe) with the potential to forge a white-hot vision of next-level funk worthy of a lot of the hyperbole already associated with the sound.

Ciorsdan Brown originates from Glasgow’s increasingly fertile beat farms and combines with the similarly vital creative mind of Hudson Mohawke to form NADSROIC, a project producing the most sophisticated and vivid future R&B since the glory days of Timbaland/Pharrell et al. Raised on Celtic fiddle and song she comes off like a languid Missy E, cloaking the lyrical barbs and potent flows with a delivery that matches the mellifluous to the delectably louche. Hudson’s shattered rhythms and starry-eyed sample clusters have never before sounded so completely at home.

Incoming ‘Room Mist’ EP on the 29th. Check LuckyMe for updates.

HudMo / Nadsroic mini mix culled from Mary Anne Hobbs Experimental: X Chromosome Special, 22nd of April 2009:

Nadsroic & Husdon Mohawke mix
Hudson Mo Loops – ‘M5000 Loop’
Damfunk – ‘Rhythm Trax’
The Blessings – ‘Faberge’
Nadsroic – ‘Room Mist’ (prod HudsonMo)
Nadsroic – ‘Saw You There’ (prod HudsonMo)
Nadsroic – ‘Peekaboo’ (prod HudsonMo)
Nadsroic – ‘Step Back’ (prod HudsonMo)
Nadsroic – ‘Allhot’ (prod HudsonMo)
Download

(Thanks to A Shaving Of The Horn That Speared You)

…and if this slice of 2002 bumping future R&B didn’t predate/totally inspire the current wave of wonky hip-hop beatheads (which it did) then I ain’t writing this through a fug of instant coffee caffeine goodness (which I am). That shuddering rhythm and snapping, bubbling synth line is pure pop simplicity, like a haiku you can dance to. Ya dig?

Aside from his production work with Ciara, Beyoncé, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson and er… the Spice Girls (YA RLY) this is Rodney ‘Darkchild’ Jerkins‘ optimum joint – dirty and clean in all the right places. It’s also Brandy’s best, not so much o’ dat mawkish ballad shiz. If Alexander Nut hasn’t been dropping this all the time forever then I suggest he gets on it forthwith, as should you.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Rodney Jerkins Is A Genius“, posted with vodpod

nosajthing

Yet another fresh-faced young beatsmith, raised in the (supposedly) blinding sunhaze of L-fuckin’-A and influenced by the DIY tropical punk emanating from crucially kool venue ‘The Smell’ and its regulars (No Age, Mika Miko etc). It’s glitch-hop I guess, the loose, tumbling hip-hop rhythms and the paintbox crayon synths of FlyLo and Dorian Concept et al, and of NOW.

Interest was piqued (mine) by the inclusion of ‘FWD’ on tasty Dutch label Rush Hour’s Beat Dimensions series, the mouth-watering chunkiness of the central synth riff lending it a juicy weight that the surrounding tracks fell short of. His debut LP Drift is out now although nothing included, for me, quite lived up to the above cut. More and more of this ouevre strikes me as a regurgitation of the 90s golden era of electronica, directed through the more recent reference points of extreme sound squeezing and willfully fucked rhythms. Drift has a mix of the Doctor Who melodic eeriness of Not For Threes-era Plaid and the considered structure and careful mapping of I Care Because You Do-era Aphex Twin – both features are very much to his credit but maybe I’m showing my age when they cloud my judgement.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot here to like – he’s capable of much more melodic depth and variety than most of his peers and boasts a rare and delicate approach to sound sculpting – but I’m just so eager for him to be less in thrall to his heroes, that’s when you see an artist truly bloom. Anyway, that’s just like, my opinion.

For a taste check out/buy the album here or grab this mix from the Mary Ann Hobbs show (which also includes Ras G for some similarly-styled fun and Appleblim’s BLOC set).

Mary Anne Hobbs – with Nosaj Thing, Mono/Poly, Hyetal, Ras G, Ben Klock, Appleblim [Hotfile download] [Rapidshare]

Tracklist:
Nosaj Thing Mix
Chopin – ‘Prelude in E Minor’
Nosaj Thing – ‘Untitled’
Nosaj Thing – ‘Nightcrawler’
Nosaj Thing – ‘Wandering Star’ [Nosaj Thing Remix]
Nosaj Thing – ‘Coat of Arms’
Nosaj Thing – ‘1685/Bach’
Nosaj Thing – ‘Intro/Camel’ [Nosaj Thing Remix]
Nosaj Thing – ‘Aquarium’
Nosaj Thing – ‘Caves’
Nosaj Thing – ‘Harrison Ford’

Mono/Poly Mix
Mono/Poly – ‘The Beatles’
Mike Slott – ‘My Lightbridge’
Sir OJ – ‘Lightsabermass’
Mono/Poly – ‘Red & Yellow Toys’
Mono/Poly – ‘Ninja Turtle Feet’
Busy – ‘Avogadro’
T-Bag ft. Lil Wayne – ‘Cant Believe It’ [Mono/Poly Mix]
Mono/Poly – ‘Aquaschism + The Gemini Mermaid’

Hyetal Mix
Hyetal – ‘Pixel Rainbow Sequence’ [Peverelist remix] (forthcoming on Reduction Records)
Hyetal – ‘Gold Or Soul’ (forthcoming on Soul Motive)
Hyetal – ‘We Should Light A Fire’ (Dubplate)
Shortstuff – ‘Progression’ (forthcoming on Formant Recordings)
Jack Sparrow & Biggins – ‘Fullest’ (Dubplate)
? – ‘Secrets’ (Dubplate)

Ras G Mix
Ras G – ‘El-Saturn-Day/P.O.P/Brainfeeder Bent Intro’
Ras G – ‘Deep Space Nine’ (Dubplate)
Ras G – ‘HollyHood/Where Dem Trees @?’(Dubplate)
Samiyam – ‘Fishsticks’ (Dubplate)
Ras G – ‘Ancestrial Echoes’(Dubplate)
Ras G – ‘Elevators’ (Dubplate)
Flying Lotus – ‘Aboriginal’ (Dubplate)
Ras G – ‘In Coming!!!!’(Brainfeeder)
Hudson Mohawke – ‘Yonard’(Warp)
Ras G – ‘Speaker Smash [ruff]’ (Dubplate)

Ben Klock Mix
Ben Klock – ‘Grip’ (Ostgut Ton)
Levon Vincent – ‘Six Figures’ (Novel Sound)
Steffan Linzatti – ‘See’ (Stockholm LTD)
Steve Stoll – ‘Run in it – B1’ (Proper)
Norman Nodge – ‘Rush’ (MDR)
Telefon Tel Aviv – ‘Immolate Yourself’ [Ben Klock Remix] (BPitchcontrol)
Roman Lindau – ‘Simplicity’ (Fachwerk)

Appleblim Recorded At Bloc Weekend
Track listing to follow shortly…

jokerface

Dubstep ain’t all mid-range barking or technophile chin-strokin’ ya know. Some of it isn’t really dubstep. Some of it sounds like Dr Dre and Lil’ John dreaming about a tropical synth party where the punch is free and the coconuts taste like 808 kicks.

Joker says, in my head it’s PURPLE. Me, I’m stuck in the California Love video, trippin’ balls…

DOWNLOAD: Joker – Solid State

and then…

Download: Joker’s Purple Wow Sound Mix

Tracklist

1 Heny g – Delayed style
2 Silkie – 7-1
3 Joker & ginz – purple city
4 Joker – psychedelic runway
5 Joker – Gullybrook plain
6 Joker -Digidesign
7 Guido – Tango 140
8 Gemmy – Espaniola (SOMETHING LIKE THAT )
9 Gemmy – The box remix no.2
10 Gemmy – BT Tower
11 Gemmy -Back 2 the future 2012
12 Gemmy- ……..
13 Joker – Do it
14 Joker – Early morning
15 Benga – Buzzin
16 RSD – Naked mario kart
17 Skream – Unknown
18 Silkie – Weird piano
19 Quest – The unknown
20 Rude kid – Are you ready (instrumental)
21 Maniac – Three crows
22 Joker & Rustie -Play doe
23 Nelly Furtado – Showtime

[via Sonic Router and Fact, as ever…]

7x7

Dublin beat label All City celebrate the completion of their enchanting  7″ series with a digital bundle wrapping all 7 releases together for only £cheap like it’s crimbo all over again. I could dive right into the highlights, rope in some comparisons and fire off a couple hastily generated franken-genres (e.g. ambient-electro-hip-soul-beat or something equally glib) but an insistent bony finger prods away at my brain-ribs. Yes kids, it’s the internet.

Since the term Wonky received a reception from its supposed champions akin to a fart in a lift, the problems with genre – especially in an area as overgrown and impenetrable as dance music (see! even that sounds pat…) – have been worthy argument fuel. On the one hand, applying catch-all terms and the obsessive compartmentalising of what is essentially an abstract art is a limiting and frequently weak approach (read this interview with Diplo again for some tres interesting points), but on the other there’s no way I’m going to exclusively map these sonic tableaus with nebulous poetry (OUCH). No-one would want that.

I could Say Onra‘s ‘My Comet’ is 90s g-funk shot through a broken super-8, lens flare saturating the colours. Or I could just say it’s super-compressed nu-skool instrumental hip-hop, y’know like Bullion or that stuff on One Handed. What it IS, is both. There’s a place for genre and giving something a name is at times worthwhile, for the sake of those eager to immerse themselves in a sound and pursue its alleyways as much as anything else. I fully understand that it’s partly a reaction against lazy journalism (which I sincerely hope this isn’t) but let’s not forget that these names sometimes help a lot of people navigate what can be dizzyingly complex world.

Back on subject however, 7×7 is a collection which takes this contemporary underwater hip-hop ambiance to places that don’t sound anything like hip-hop – Hudson Mohawke‘s wondrous ‘Star Crackout’ crackles and shimmers like a golden snow globe with a broken harpsichord and no beats whatsoever, nestling next to the fluttering dub techno of ‘Root Hands’ like nothing happened. Elsewhere the beats stagger in and out of consciousness with Mike Slott‘s loping electro slow jamz and personal favourite Fulgeance‘s bumping party circuit-breaker ‘Revenge Of The Nerds’ leading the way.

One of my musical highlights of ’09 thus far. Buy it here.

If you’re in London on the 22nd (with cash to burn) then make sure you head down to London Bridge for the Tectonic event at the Arches. The main room houses the expected crew (label boss Pinch, 2562, Distance, Peverelist) BUT the second room is of particular interest due to its less classic(?) dubstep nature and line up consisting of personal sideways hip-hop favorites Bullion and Paul White (of One Handed Music) with Wolverhampton UK bass channeler Alexander Nut. The real pull for me however is an appearance from Débruit who, along with fellow Frenchman Fulgeance has quietly dropped some of the most virile dancefloor music of the last year on the similarly gallic Musique Large.

MPC 2000

MPC 2000

Both worship at the feet of the enduring Akai MPC hardware sampler, an imposing grey box with massive rubber buttons that has been slowly lifted to god-like status by the hip-hop scene, most recently by its new-wave pioneers J Dilla, Madlib and MF Doom. The highly physical and spontaneous nature of composing on one of these lends itself to simple, organic music – rough around the edges but better for it. Screw quantising, forget the intricate digital editing. This is music by people, for people. To dance to, remember?

Débruit

Débruit

wwwwwwww…. wwwwwwwww…. wonky. Note the lower case guys, this is just one of the best adjectives for Débruit. Bumping kwaito rhythms and some nu-jazz undercurrents with big ol’ analogue bass. If Dorian Concept spends the next few years in the club rather than practising his keyboard skills he might come up with something as heavy as ‘Congo Whoomp‘, a track so effortlessly effective you can’t believe nobody thought of it before. There’s a little flavour of the Switch / Sinden B-more house sound but that’s just the sound of people dancing.

Fulgeance

Fulgeance

Fulgeance is more about the loops. Rumbling electro-hop pendulums swing between BLOCK-party chants like Afrika Bambaataa returning from the future AGAIN and re-teaching us how to have a good time. The Low Club EP says it better than I ever could with a Dorian Concept remix thrown in for good measure, watch out also for the forthcoming ‘Smartbanging’ on One Handed.

Oh, and here’s a mix he did for Mac Fly:

Right-click here to download.

01.bogdan raczynski – muzyka dla imigrantow / rephlex
02.tranqill – payroll (fulgeance rmx) / one-handed music
03.fulgeance – glamoure / musique large
04.architeq – birds of prey (fulgeance rmx) / tirk
05.débruit – pouls / musique large
06.fulgeance – lonely night / one-handed music
07.bullion – long promised / one-handed music
08.architeq – sleeping bear (take rmx) / tirk
09.robot koch vs cerebral vortex (flako instrmntl rmx) / up my alley
10.computer jay – distance / ramp recrdings
11.theophilius london (prod by machine drum) live @ black apple – new york city
12.lo – 2brothers / cdr
13.illa j _ r u listennin feat guilty simpson / delicous vinyl
14.stan getz – jazz samba encore / verve
15.letherette – in july focus rite / cdr
16.clark – ted (bibio rmx) / warp
17.fulgeance – sour socca / one-handed music
18.back to the future interlude (french version)
19.souleance – le plaisir / first word
20.the matthew herbert big band – the story (demo version) / k7

planetmu_11

Mike Paradinas aka µ-Ziq’s Planet µ was and still is one of the few truly major labels to emerge from the 90s post-rave electronica scene, along with Warp and Rephlex. While the Aphex Twin affiliated Rephlex slips in and out of obscurity and Warp make some ‘interesting’ choices (although I admit, lately their trend awareness and quality control have synced a little better), Planet µ has become the most reliable and prolific of the three. If there’s any criticism then maybe the retro acid of Syntheme and the considered IDM (sorry) of Boxcutter suggest a little too much reverence to established and respected sounds, but on the whole Paradinas’ label is a well valuable and much loved outlet of quality electronics.

I say all this now as there is a clutch of excellent new releases forthcoming, one of which I feel deserves specific reference:

US ‘street bass’ (read: synth-heavy American grime) producer Starkey‘s debut LP Ephemeral Exhibits dropped at the end of last year but for me he’s really nailed it with his recent single on Keysound and this, coming in June. Jamie Vex’d takes the flashing, neon crunk of ‘Miracles’ into more spacey territory with the sliced diva vocal worming its way between cracking drum machines and blooming chords. Jamie’s carving a warmer, more melodic sound since going solo (heard also on this months In System Travel EP but done better here for my money). Retaining the cavernous expanse of dubstep but happily leaving behind some of the cold, empty sonics.

‘Creature’ on the flip is a crazy beast. Barely under control it rides a shuddering, buzzing groove like a barrel of drunken snakes, sometimes I wonder if it works but for the other 90% of the time it sounds like the best thing he’s done. A fucked jam, wonky as hell and as invigorating as a double-shot espresso.

Check samples of the tracks –