Friday, 30 October 2009

King Cannibal – Let The Night Roar [Ninja Tune]

The debut album from Ninja Tune’s King Cannibal throws anything from dubstep and D’n’B via dancehall, industrial and electronica into the blender, if its got bass and a rudeboy darkness its in here. Plus it comes with vocal contributions from the likes of Daddy Freddy, Face-A-Face and Jahcoozi, which really give the album a unique edge. This hybrid of styles shouldn’t be a surprise as this is the guy that’s gusseted on two Solid Steel radio shows and did the epic super rare mix, ‘One Foot In The Fire, One Fist In The Air’ as Zilla so lets just say that as a producer he knows how to throw it in the blender and come out sounding fresh. Let The Night Roar is an uncompromising, tension fuelled ride through the dark side.

The album starts in a cinematic fashion of epic wide screen proportions before dropping into the monstrous ‘Aragami Style’ with it’s harsh bass and cut up breaks its got so much pent up energy its frightening, its been getting plays from everyone from Mary Anne Hobbs to studio wizard Amon Tobin and you can tell why it sounds like its tearing the dance floor a new a-hole. There are plenty more highlights including the first vocal track ‘Murder Us’ with Jahcoozi, it’s a dark growling horror sound tracker that you could have seen somewhere on last years dystopian London Zoo. But where The Bug used a warm hazy atmosphere King Cannibal has a crisp, sharp feel yet still doesn’t let up on the rough and hard darkness. The two albums do share parallels but defiantly come out sounding completely different.

We get a little lightness shining through with the bumpin’ Face-A-Face vocaled ‘Virgo’ the drums and MC’ing give a dancehall vibe that is still pretty damn dark but maybe not as terrifying as what came before. This vibe continues for a while on the fantastically deep and atmospheric ‘So… Embrace The Minimum’ which wouldn’t sound out of place in a Berlin nightclub, the techy rolling vibes play off the almost ‘Reese’ like bass perfectly and the effects on the ‘So’ sample sound brilliant. The album has a crisp, lush sound to it with plenty going on he creates some serious soundscapes within his deeply twisted tracks, field sounds and film samples crop up to add colour to the beastly dance floor sounds. The final vocal cut by Daddy Freddy ‘Dirt’ also happens to be the flip to the ‘So… Embrace The Minimum’ 12” and it’s another disturbing dancehall killer, with pitch shifted vocals and a gnarly energetic vocal performance.

Sometimes the relentless pent up dark aggression gets a bit too much, I get this feeling with ‘Colder Still’ the full on breaks and the appearance of a ranting goblin sent from Lucifer tips it just over the edge. Things soon get back on track with the mad industrial breakbeat swung grooves of ‘A Shining Force’ and ‘The Untitiled’ with its nervous skittish rattle that really gets you looking over your shoulder before the scuzzy feedback drenched distortion of ‘Onward Vultures’ brings an eerie calm like your hiding in the bushes from beasts unknown.

King Cannibal defiantly has his own unique sound Let The Night Roar is an assured debut that’s not for the faint hearted you can imagine it soundtracking the first? Dancehall horror movie: where Zombie MC’s take over the dance and feast on the flesh of the revellers before breaking out into the night to cause death and destruction to the innocent and unsuspecting.

Originally written for Sonic Router.

Video: King Cannibal - So… Embrace The Minimum

King Cannibal - So... Embrace The Minimum Video

King Cannibal - Let The Night Roar Cd OUT NOW! MySpace Video

Thursday, 29 October 2009

10-20 – Isthmus EP [Highpoint Lowlife]

An Isthmus is a narrow neck of land that connects two larger landmasses this is just one thing I learnt from the most recent EP in the Landforms series by 10-20 and the other is that this is yet another brilliant piece of work from the Highpoint Lowlife stable. The first EP in the series ‘Island’ was a quality piece of music that continued where the self-titled debut album left off earlier this year, now ‘Isthmus’ comes along with no sign of there being a let up in quality.

At just three tracks long it’s the shortest of the EP’s, the opening track ‘Halogen’ with its punchy breaks and atmospheric reverb kicks things off in style. The synths come off sounding like tangled electrical wires made into sweeping smeared shapes. Everything’s so ghostly you can hear the spectral influence of everything from uk garage to hip-hop in the beats especially. ‘Athens’ has some of the wonkiest bleepy synths of the series yet, the lob sided grooves clatter and roll into mad locked grooves. There is a slightly industrial feeling to some of 10-20’s music and this one is no exception there is a real crunch to the percussion used here. The final track ‘Zizec’ is easily the spookiest, eerie piano can be heard low in the mix as found sounds crunch and clatter around the breaks.

10-20’s musical voyage is an interesting one, it’s like he’s bringing sounds from anywhere and everywhere and morphing them into his own vision of glitchy electronica and hip-hop infused broken garage. And you know what he pulls it off consistently you can get lost in these productions they’re mesmerising.

Out sometime on Highpoint Lowlife, I thought I’d get in early with this one. Two more EPs in the series to come as well keep them peeled.

Download: Future Sounds Of Highpoint Lowlife Mixtape

Download: 10-20 – Landforms Mix

Other 10-20 articles on The // Sonic // Minefield

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Scuba – Aesaunic EP [Hotflush]

Aesaunic is a five track two 12” EP from Hotflush main man Paul Rose aka Scuba, where he explores his rolling dubbed out Berlin techno infused dubstep sound over many tempos from techno through dubstep all the way to a half-step D’n’B experiment and it may well be the best slice of Scuba this year.

Opening track ‘Aesaunic’ rolls with an assured, punchy garage-techno skip with some seriously deep dub chords and a subtle progression, before you know it your vibing out and too far-gone, lost in sound. The breakdown is sublime with gentle swirling pads and a four to the floor kick ready to snap you back into action.

‘Flesh Is Weak’ may sound like the name to a Shackleton track, a man who also knows his way around the UK/German hybrid sounds, but this isn’t as scary as Shack. It’s a smooth house tempo number with dubby atmosphere and a seriously jarring glass smashing sample that signifies the drop into a subtle bubbly post-acid-house synth line.

‘Reverse’ comes on a little like Skream’s quality ‘Backwards’ on Deep Medi with a groove that feels like it’s both propelling forwards and backwards all at once. Scuba’s reversed vision is of the smooth and sinister, technofied kind though. The keys that make up the main motif are full of soul and urgency.

‘Golden’ reminds me a little of Hessel Audio’s Joe this track shares the tight percussive grooves that he has on ‘Grimelight’ they both use a deep house pallet but with a grime sensibility, Scuba gives it all a really deep shine that really manages to hypnotise and gives it a whole different vibe mind.

The real curve ball is ‘Sybiosis’ a minimal half step d’n’b track that’s been getting plays from dBridge and Instra:mental who are currently paving the way in that field with the fantastic Nonplus+ label and their own productions. Scuba takes his deep techno pallet of sounds and locks them to a loose swung groove that feels so different to the rest of the EP. What really makes this track is the female vocal sample over the mournful organ-like tones while wood block fills bring a little energy.

Dub-techno-dubstep productions can be so slick that you sometimes want an injection of rudeness plus some of it’s now not quite as fresh as it was this time last year due to saturation and ideas running out a bit but Scuba manages to stay head and shoulders above, along with some other purveyors of the sound like Appleblim, 2562, Ramadanman and Peverelist to name but a few and keep things fresh, interesting in that department and ready for the floor. The Aesaunic EP just oozes quality and shows Scuba experimenting so successfully over a number of tempos, settle in a feel this one.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Subeena – Solidify Ft. Jamie Woon & Om’Mas Keith/Analyse [Planet Mu]

Subeena caught our ear a while back with her melodic soulful take on dubstep with a deep and hypnotic 2-step meets techno style to it, plus a brilliant mix on the 'X Chromosome' special for Marry Anne Hobbs, a podcast for NYC’s Dub War and her Sub FM show. She also ran until recently Imminent recordings that looks to have been wraped up now, but in its time she brought us the likes of Wagawaga, Pepepe and herself amongst others. This is her debut 12” for Planet Mu.

‘Solidify’ features a tallented pair: Jamie Woon who’s soulful vocals really hit the spot and has even been remixed by Burial in the past, not to many people can boast that! The other is Sa-Ra’s Om’Mas Keith, who bass heads will definitely know from the Mark Pritchard collaboration on Hyperdub from earlier this year ‘Wind it Up’ let alone his off-kilter hip-hop maneuvers. ‘Solidify’ has been around for a while and came out of sessions at the Red Bull Music Academy. Deep melodic midnight rhodes-like keys usher in smooth vocals from Woon and a laid back spaced out beat. This track really gets under your skin, its one for those blissed out loved up mellow moments.

The flip ‘Analyse’ is a solo Subeena production aimed more at the floor with its gentle building synths that twinkle and chime in a really hypnotic melodic fashion all the way thruogh and a techno meets 2-step groove that propels things forward and sits so well with the bass, its such a subtle track that you get sucked into by the melodie and echo drenched pads that get panned left/right to hypnotic effect before a big ol’ sub really punches things home with a slightly meloncholic riff.

Subeena makes some beautiful music that will tempt techno and house heads as well as the dubstep crew the way she uses melody to create a spaced out psychadlic yet light atmosphere on these tracks is a unique and welcom take on the sound. Add to that the tallents of her colaberators this is one solid 12” for Planet Mu.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Unknown – On & On/Cm3 Skank [Idle Hands]

You can’t get any less info than you do on this 12” Unknown artists check, heard loads of their stuff before over the years… there seems to be an A and B side, sorted… wait what’s this Idle Hands! This must be the label nice one… Hold up there is a video on the myspace, this must be some of that acid music…

2562 featured this in a recent mix and BunZer0 who was easily the first names that popped up on google when I was looking for the label myspace has been caning this, big up BunZ always pushing new sounds every Thursday at 6pm on Sub FM. Idle Hands is the label of one Chris Farrel ( of Bristol’s number one stop shop for all things bass Rooted Records and for now we’ll get hand stamped white labels of mysterious producers if that’s alright…

The A side (now with a name ‘On & On’) is so deep and rolling, with its headstrong techno infused hypnotic vision of the dance floor that it will put your hip out of place while skanking. Yet it doesn’t deviate from the Bristol bass sounds, deep rumbling sub frequencies make this track so mesmerising, the hypnotic woodblocks and skipping kicks along with that all-important sharp and snappy snare play off the deep playful synth bubbles beautifully to make a layered lava lamp-aping club tool that really gets under the skin.

The B side (that goes by the name ‘Cm3 Skank’) really takes this cheeky attitude further and flips it into the house/techno arena, sounding not unlike ‘Bounce’ by A Made Up Sound on the recent Colone Basement Series with its off-killter yet locked on grooves and playful block rocking bells, that only remind me of Si Begg’s ‘Mardi Gras Bomber’ as I can’t remember the original classic hip-hop break it samples (extra bonus points to whoever can place that in the comments section bellow). It’s not the bells or bass that make this though it’s the sharp clipped skanked out dub chugga chug sounds that bring the energy, just wait for the first kick drum to drop and see if your wigglin’...

Idle Hands may be a mystery but as all the best mysteries (pretty sure Monk & that death becomes her… dance like bastards too) it’s going to tear up dance floors, you can just see this one getting it’s tempo’s shifted and tweaked into sets as far and wide as Fabric and the West Indian Centre and engaging the crowds.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Kryptic Minds – 768 / Pinch & Moving Ninja – False Flags (Kryptic Minds Remix) [Tectonic]

Pinch is really brining the darkness with his labels most recent releases and this is no exception, here we get Kryptic Minds making their Tectonic debut after the very well received 12” for Loefah’s Swamp 81 label and the D’n’B producers are really making a name for themselves with their dubstep material along with the likes of Instra:mental and Breakage they have crossed over to create some of the deepest darkest sounds around.

The A-Side comes in the form of ‘768’ a new original track from Kryptic Minds and just like their other dubstep material it has that dark and spacious half stepping bass mediation vibe going on. These guys really know how to make the low end sing and this track really shows that off, you get the full bass spectrum from subterranean rumbles to a little added mid range growl, you know to keep things a bit evil. The string sections really give the track a dark almost emotional pull. If you find ‘One Of Us’ to be addictive then ‘768’ is going to be right up your street.

Kryptic Minds show us their take on Pinch & Moving Ninja’s deeply disturbing False Flag, which first featured on the fantastic Tectonic Plates Vol.2 compilation earlier this year. This remix takes that dark pent up atmosphere and makes it even more cinematic. The low end bubbles and drives the track into the underworld. The percussive elements on show in Kryptic Minds tracks are something else, they really know how to get a sound down and here is no acceptation the drums are warm, phat and woody. It’s a killer re-interpretation of an already killer track.

There is no holding back on this 12” Pinch knows where it’s at with the deep dark end of dubstep and Kryptic Minds prove that crossing over from d’n’b to make dubstep is pretty easy going, when your studio wizards with an ear for space and sound.

Originally written for
Sonic Router.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Easy Hips / Run, Walk! / Dreamboats / Le Swing – New Roars On The Block 7” [Holy Roar]

Face shredding hip shaking bringers of rock Holy Roar are always on the lookout for new exciting bands that bring the noise and rock the fuck out, which brings us nicely to the ‘New Roars On The Block’ 7” with four brand new bands.

Easy Hips kick off, literally kick off, they sound like a fight just started. They’ve got this thrashy screamo sound that sounds like a shot of adrenalin to the heart. Their tracks ‘White Ace’ and ‘Leopard Print Catsuit Party With Old Man Watts’ come on fast, strong and then they’re over in a flash of flailing arms and sweat.

After the intensity of the first two tracks Run, Walk! Almost sound chilled out, almost… blistering drums clatter and fizz over heavy catchy chords. They use a stripped back set-up to create a hell of a rockin’ noise. I think I’m addicted to them already.

Dreamboat’s rock out the next track, they have a darkness about them, a low slung fuzzed up bass line licks at the heels of some frantic riffing before breaking out into a dark side breakdown. The scream like they mean it with a retrained gravely precession.

Le Swing finish the 7” off with a couple of rip roaring frantic drum machine workouts, and a gutter punked-out sense of energy and an ear for scuzzy melody. They share a member with Easy Hips so bookend the platter well, but Le Swing have a different vibe its just as frantic but different elements are brought to the foreground.

Brand new bands on the block, ready to rip it up and hold take no prisoners. People should take notice; it’s an exhilarating ride. Maybe one day Le Swing will for fill the promise of their track name ‘Ross Kemp On Bands’ and get on TV or the Dreamboats might Run, Walk! and make that party Easy Hips promise on ‘Leopard Print Catsuit Party…’ All I know is that this lot are a blistering listen and demand attention.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Hyperdub – 5 Years of Hyperdub [Hyperdub]

Like a virus spread by bass and mutating into different strains all the time, Hyperdub is a force to be reckoned with and I don’t think there’s a cure. This 5 year celebration compilation is two discs of low end bass transmissions from Hyperdub’s past and as they always have at least one eye on the future one whole CD of fresh upfront material. Every side is explored and every artist on the label gets a look in along with some very special guests. From the doom and dread of the first releases that helped shape the sound of early dubstep, drenched in dub roots, garage gone insane and something all together more sinister, all the way to the ‘Wot Do U Call It?’ newer releases that’s really gone viral and spread into corners of hip-hop, funky, house, grime and beyond with twisted synths leading the way.

5 opens with the new up front material and King Midas Sound’s lovers dub ‘Meltdown’ which also happens to be a taster for his forthcoming album. It’s a spooky laid back, spaced out and loved up rootsy affair and shows that through all the twisted synth smears that Hyperdub still know how to keep things old school and fresh all at once. Kode9 & The Spaceape step up with a re-tooled version of ‘Time Patrol’ with added vocals from Cha Cha, this track kind of serves as a bridge between the new and old sides of Hyperdub, its got that dread dub feel but with twisted synth motifs. LV’s contributions fit into the digital dancehall roots end of things too.

I’d love to talk about all of the tracks but that would be far to epic, plus you can read about the fantastic ‘Aidy’s Girl is a Computer’ by Darkstar here

The hip-hop contingent turn in some quality tracks, Samiyam’s ‘Roller Skates’ is so hypnotic and funky, while Flying Lotus makes one of the best tracks of the comp in ‘Disco Balls’ with a lilting buzzing 303-like bass line and swaggering groove. ‘Purple Smoke’ by Black Chow is a dubbed out J-Pop meets Tricky in Bristol sort of sound and also one of the many Kevin Martin aka The Bug/King Midas Sound productions here.

The labels breakout artist, Burial brings his first new solo material since Untrue in the form of ‘Fostercare’ and it’s pretty much what you’d expect from him. Dark and spaced out, a half step garage mutation with plenty of groove and atmosphere. It’s closer to something from his debut album than it is Untrue, or maybe somewhere inbetween with its darker sound but with ghostly R&B vocals. You can tell he’s been honing his skills, it’s a fantastic, subtle return.

Hyperdub’s constant mutating has already explored the fringes of dubstep and hip-hop and this doesn’t stop when things drop to a house pace with contributions from Cooly G, Zomby and Martyn all clocking in at around 130-ish. ‘Weekend Fly’ has a really skeletal dub feel to it but with a skipping funky groove, plus vocals from miss G its dark and mesmerising. The prolific Zomby drops ‘Tarantula’ a mad hybrid of Detroit-P-Funk infused house and his own brand of freakery, it’s some bumping twisted funk. Martyn ups the groove and lowers the bpm with a bleeped out, dark, driving house anthem.

Mala makes a rare appearance with the brilliant ‘Level Nine’ with his unique sound, a dark and soulful meditative soundsystem shaker. This is maybe the most space age track I’ve heard from Mala in some time, the synths give of a melancholic sci-fi like look at the not to distant future and maybe one of the top picks on the comp. LD’s ‘Shake It’ comes off like a mutant robotic techno beast made for huge soundsystems, full of percussive excursions and gnarly bleeps, its full on but has a deranged kind of funk.

To finish disc one the twisted synth come out in full force with Quarta330 who arguably had a big hand in the proliferation of this sound, ‘Bleeps From Outer Space’ is a bubbling 8-bit dancehall tune that Mario might be set to in a hidden level where he gets stoned with Sonic. Ikonika drops a taster for her forthcoming album early next year with ‘Sarah Michael’ and its so addictive, like a mixture of Terror Danjah style grime and her own blend of dubstep and energetic, twisted electronica, she makes me move. Joker & Ginz the Bristol wonder team drop ‘Stash’ with a swaggering G-Funk/Crunk number, at first I wasn’t sure it was up there with Re-Up and Purple City but its really grown on me, they work so well together.

The second disc is the older more familiar Hyperdub transmissions, its bookended by the two versions of ‘9 Samurai’ the original and Quarta330 Remix. This pretty much sums up the direction Hyperdub has gone in, when they first dropped on 12” one side took in the doom-fuelled dread and the other twisted it into an insane smeary, 8-bit synth tweak out and was described as Kode9 as circuitry crying. This opened the doors, along with the likes of FlyLo’s off-centre hip-hop experiments to a whole new sound that’s really taken off.

So here you get stone cold classics, rarities and un-released bits. Burial’s now pretty hard to get hold of ‘South London Boroughs’ from his first EP sounds as fresh and ghostly as ever. The Bug and LV’s dancehall excursions point to the roots in fine style. The two Kode9 & Spaceape tracks are both un-released gems from the archive, ‘Ghost Town’ yes that Ghost Town by The Specials gets shaped into a laid back dark as hell bass pulse ballad not unlike the first Hyperdub release ‘Sine of the Dub’ the beatless version of Prince. Then comes ‘Fukkaz’ which The Bug covered for his London Zoo album last year, an angry shout to all the fukkaz out there.

The rest are fairly recent releases including the amazing ‘Need You’ by Darkstar with its skipping vocoder garage soul and Ikonika’s twisted, bending ‘Please’, which I still can’t get enough of. Zomby drops a couple with Rusitie’s rendition of ‘Spliff Dub’ and his insane hypnotic wonked out arpeggio grooves of ‘Kaliko’. The soulful vocoder almost Dr. Dre-like pop of ‘You Don’t Know What Love Is’ and Joker’s Digidesign, which I still get in my head all the time bring things to a close with the aforementioned Quarta330 Remix.

As an overview of Hyperdub you can’t go wrong with 5 it showcases all their talent and just brings gem after gem to your ears. The new material is as fresh as hell and there is nothing tired about the rest. There really isn’t a track that I don’t love here I’d love to be able to slag them off a bit but it really is all killer, Hyperdub are one of the most consistent and interesting labels around, there transitions continue to push dance floors into new directions. I’d like to say the future is bright but with the sound of darkness and dread along with the twisted glowing nuclear mutations, we’re more likely to have a meltdown and be destroyed, which will be equal parts exhilarating as it will be terrifying but the good thing is Hyperdub will still be sound tracking it.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009


The semi-regular round up of random platters in my record bag returns with some heavy weight excursions in bass.

Zomby – Digital Flora Part 1/Part 2 [BRAiNMATH]
Maybe just maybe the best slice of Zomby yet, pure psychedelic dance floor material. Pt. 1 is spaced out while Pt. 2 ups the groove.

Instra:Mental – Watching You Ft.dBridge/Tramma [Nonplus+]
Killer minimal d’n’b cut with heart wrenching vocals, it’s made me buy 170bpm for the first time in years. Tramma drops to 140 and keeps things warm and minimal.

A Made Up Sound – Wire/Bounce/Dicsonnect/On & On [Clone Basement Serries]
2562 on a techno tip, dropping some warm sounds that bump and bubble.

October - Elephants/Medium [Immerse]
Some seriously early proto-dubstep from 2003 that sounds like techno gone eski-grime. Really raw and rolling, it just builds and builds.

Terror Danjah – Industry Standard Part 4 [Planet Mu]
Zumpi Hunter comes on like a grimey G-Funk workout, with Swindle adding even more musicality of his own distinct style. The flip ups the hype and drops like an energy rush, 4x4 builds and 8 bar rallies. Essential.

Spiders – Spiders [BRAiNMATH]
Mysterious dark and rootsy material, I can’t stop mixing it with Bury Da Bwoy by Mala. So much atmosphere and tension built with minimal beats and tweaked out production.

Hyetal – Pixel Rainbow Sequence/Peverelist Remix [Reduction]
Incredible Bristol transmissions, A-side hyped and euphoric with twisting synths and bumping beats. Pev takes it on a freaked out techy psychedelic tip, flowing synths and bubbling arpeggios.

Dorian Concept – Trilingual Dance Sexperiance/Tropical Hands [Affine]
Deranged trance inducing face smashing hip-hop wonk-out with a funked up slow-mo house rendition on the flip, it sets fire to dance floors.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Darkstar – Aidy’s Girl is a Computer/Kyle Hall Oats B So Good Remix [Hyperdub]

Finally it’s landed, ‘Aidy’s Girl is a Computer’ first emerged sometime last year, I first heard it in Oneman’s Generation Bass mix on Radio One and it stuck in my head right away. Since then every set that it’s graced its stood out, no one quite sounds like Darkstar. The twisted melodic 8-bit vocoder garage sound of last years ‘Need You’ on Hyperdub turned a lot of heads inside and outside the scene they even got props from Radiohead who let them re-interpret ‘Videotape’ for the Mary Anne Hobbs Wild Angel Compilation. This 12” also features the talents of Kyle Hall a young producer from Detroit who like his mentor Omar-S makes a raw no nonsense house in the tradition of many Detroit producers before.

The original is a chiming, rolling, bass-pulsing garage joint with some serious digital soul. Apparently it came about when one half of Darkstar tried to make their computer sing and spent so much time with it that they may as well have been seeing each other. The tracks full of melodic 8-bit sprinkles, smeared synth sounds that come out sounding like a deeply twisted accordion of sorts, and an almost anthemic yet subdued melancholic feel. There is a beating heart and soul to this production, when the breakdown melts its way in there is some real emotion. Darkstar make songs that just so happen to work in the club just as well as they do elsewhere. It’s probably a contender for track of the year if such award existed.

Kyle Hall’s Oats B So Good Remix twists the original into a tracky deep Detroit number, all punchy kicks and dubbed out chimes, there is a blissed out hypnotic feel with the synth lines being morphed into gentle pads rather than smeared squiggles. The warm digital p-funk bass really makes this track as does the g-funk bendy synths and when all the elements are in full effect there is an almost psychedelic air to it. House is in good hands with Kyle Hall and his ilk.

This 12” is essential and bridges the gap nicely between the 5 years of Hyperdub compilation and the full album Darkstar have in the works, which is pencilled in for release sometime next year and bound to get them a lot of attention. But for now savour ‘Aidy’s Girl is a Computer’ in all its digital soul splendour.

HEALTH // Pictureplane // CHOPS // Castrovalva @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds. 6th October 2009

The mighty HEALTH are coming to town like a rampaging eight armed beast and brining with them a band I’ve been wanting to check out for ages but never really thought would reach our shores, Denver’s Pictureplane who I stumbled upon with the rest of the Rhinoceropolis crew in a HEALTH interview way back in May last year. Also on the bill are two local bands one being CHOPS who I’ve always some how managed to miss by turning up late to gigs at the Brudenell before and Castrovalva who I did actually miss this time for that very reason (it’s a long drive alright!)…

CHOPS are a mad band, the grooves they kick up are insanely addictive the drummer is sick. They stick synth led basslines to the frantic breaks and other rhythmic parts to create a hell of a groove. Then if that wasn’t enough, which sometimes I think it is… they whack on some casio keyboard jazz or sax along with twisted vocals, sometimes this works a treat and others, well I’m not so sure. I really enjoyed it though; it’s both intense and fun if a little reminiscent of Big Beat and specifically ‘Weapon of Choice’ by Fatboy Slim.

Pictureplane I was kind of hyped about, but this was a bit of an ipod-backed energy sapping fest, it would work so well in a club with bits mixed in-between though. I mean he had tin foil and bunting and some really cool moments but there was a slight school disco feel to it and maybe even a distorted evil stoned brother of Calvin Harris feel to it. The highlight of his set was probably his HEALTH remix, which he ended on that managed to piss all over HEALTH’s version somehow. At his best Pictureplane sounded like a mix of High Places swirling almost shoegaze like bliss and a more house savy Crystal Castles that wasn’t afraid of a bit of cheese. Pretty cool all in all, kind of nice.

HEALTH impressed the hell out of me the first time I saw them supporting Zombie Zombie at the Brudenell, it was a rip roaring adrenaline fuelled stopping starting freak out, full of liquid grooves and primitive tribalistic pressure. This time it was just as tight and just as many flowing grooves, with noise, power and down right funk being harnessed into a full on live experience. Yet a lot of the new material didn’t quite have that pent up energy that ripped the place apart last time. Everything bar a few bits and bobs sounded like the last few tracks of the HEALTH s/t album, you know the epic almost ballad like stuff with actual guitar parts, which is all well and good but there was a little to much of that. It made for more of a hypnotising watch as apposed to jaw dropping intensity. ‘Die Slow’ still sounded lame mind I really can’t get on with that track, Pictureplane really showed that song up with his remix earlier in the night by spacing it out and ripping it up into a dance floor bomb and most importantly getting rip of the Kasabian-like riffing. HEALTH weren’t bad as such just not as mind blowing, there was a more post-rock edge to them this time, which is cool but before they were really hard to put in a box and this time it seemed a lot easier to pigeonhole them. They have gone from free flowing idea after idea to a more structured almost song-like sound, I still dig it but it’s taken away a little bit of energy. I’m still yet to hear the latest album so that might put a bit more context on their performance, which was impressive in a physical, tight as hell kind of way. HEALTH still do the noise/dance/rock/psychedlic/groove fest way better than anyone else right now, and put on a hell of a show.

Excellent live video shot by Martin the night before in Sheffield:


Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Erik XVI – Stern-Gerlachs Försök [Highpoint Lowlife]

Electro has come along way and now gets associated with so many diverse artists especially since the blog house invasion that followed electro clash in the second half of the 00’s, but there was always that original cold funk infused stuff around if you dug deep. I for one was really into Dave Clarke’s World Service mixes with both the techno and electro discs getting rinsed. Erik XVI fits into the retro super slow-mo machine funk end of things and its pretty refreshing.

We open to a storm brewing on ‘Unionens Sista Dangar’ before a big punchy kick drops and an almighty bass pulse. Then the electro stylings really kicks in and has an air of early Dima which was the darker more retro sounding alter-ego of electro mainstay Vitalic. Its all pounding beats, old school synth pulses and vocoder vocals.

‘Kalabaliken I Bender’ is the housey or most techno of the bunch and the slow yet propellant nature of this track really adds tension. Plus with its uplifting crystal Kraftwerk-esq arpeggiated synth riffs its kind of catchy and euphoric. Erik XVI isn’t afraid to wear his influences on his sleeve you can even read his blog on the address bellow to see his influences and methods behind the EP.

The final section of the EP is almost a two parter with ‘Gravitationskraftens stilla vrede’ and ‘Gravitationskraftens stilla stråkar’ using the same building blocks; that of the sound of a rocket firing up and launching into outer space, which you can hear for yourself on the youtube video bellow. The first track takes the sound and some electro pulses and turns it into a menacing, brooding techno number with acid lines a pleanty while the final track dubs it all out and brings the woosh and drone of the rocket to the foreground for a more ambient affair.

The Stern-Gerlachs Försök EP is a quality listen with plenty of retro electro fun to be had, plus with remixes floating about from Hot City and Grievous to mention but a few there is plenty to get your teeth into.

Buy: The Stern-Gerlachs Försök EP is out now on Highpoint Lowlife

Monday, 5 October 2009

Sun Araw – Heavy Deeds [Not No Fun]

There must be something in the water in LA, just these last few years it’s spat out everyone from Flying Lotus and the Brainfeeder crew to No Age and HEALTH of The Smell crew and numerous more, far to many to mention. Well another artist has been brought to my attention in the form of Sun Araw the brainchild of Magic Lantern’s guitarist Cameron Stallones whose latest album Heavy Deeds, his sixth release is out now on Not No Fun. It’s a heady mix of hazy dubbed out prog-rock garage jams with a deep down and dirty swamp like psychedelic aesthetic, its all distortion and blazing sun backed riffs that’s all at once in your face and spaced out. There’s a really retro feel to Heavy Deeds like he’s re-creating half remembered music from the past through his own vision, he expands on this and some influences a little in an interview.

‘The new album Heavy Deeds is all flowing from Fela Kuti zones, ’70s African funk, etc., but in the same way that Beach Head was flowing from Zuma, which is to say, vaguely. It’s not an afrobeat record by any stretch, just faded impressions, some tone inspiration overlapping the sort of psychedelic modes I try to dwell in.’

You can really hear where he’s coming from, there is a stretched out funk to Heavy Deeds, a lazy free flowing looseness where he captures sketches of grooves and drenches it all in a warm hazy fuzz. This lo-fi aesthetic has been pretty ominous this year especially, I mean its always been around but now you could say its the IN thing. And up until now I’ve been finding it really hard to get on with, there are so many disparate sounds under the lo-fi banner and a hell of a lot of it just sounded like twee hipster in-jokes set to shrill indie recorded badly, and it was really starting to wear thin. I had all but given up on looking for anything that might float my boat, as there seemed to be a sea of hangers on making really embarrassing stuff being churned out like sewage into the ocean. But a couple have now shone through and Sun Araw is one of them.

Heavy Deeds is six tracks long and all melts into one prolonged jam, which at it’s best is mesmerising and paints hypnotic pictures in your mind. But if my mood isn’t right it sometimes reminds me of the music of The Mighty Boosh when they go to find the new sound in the desert and dress as a guy psychedelic monk with a door in his head and a dude with eight penises… but for now that’s only at the very back of my mind behind a chair. The title track was the one that really caught my ear, full of low-slung disjointed, loose funk with that distorted blazed out almost tropical feel to it. I’ve no idea what these songs are about the vocals are drenched in effects and sound so unobtainable and far away but in an interview he mentioned the record was inspired by a night of heavy deeds, and you really can feel the tension in this music that a night like that would bring. As well as the dubby soup like sounds you can really hear a kind of garage rock approximation of Brian Eno’s Hear Come The Warm Jets, in fact I was making a little playlist with a little dub and some Sun Araw and the next thing that popped into my mind was that very track by Eno, which makes sense as he mentions them in the liner notes.

There are plenty more highlights on Heavy Deeds but its not the easiest record to get into and you get the feeling its all blending into one, the reverberating echo drenched sounds all meeting one another at the ends… This is one to stick on a zone out to, taking in the groovy bass, blanched guitars and droning organ. Its like you’ve put on an old forgotten record that hasn’t been cleaned pumped it up loud and gone to listen to it in another room entirely. You half remember the songs but not quite right and you start to wonder if the grime and dust on the surface has started to eat away and morph everything into new sounds taking on a whole new life of its own and the needle’s jumping, creating locked grooves that make you wonder if the track is meant to be like that. It’s an absorbing listen, Sun Araw has made a world of his own and its well worth a visit.

Live videos

Interview with Sun Araw

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Scratcha DVA – The Jelly Roll EP [DVA Music]

Grime and funky have been creating some common ground of late things started to get really interesting when the smooth house grooves got the rude boy treatment from the grime heads, who added a bit of raw dance floor power into the mix. So its good to see Rinse FM’s Grimy Breakfast DJ and all round badman producer Scratcha DVA turning his hand to funky after creating some big grime anthems like ‘Nasty Nasty Nasty’, ‘Bullet A Go Fly’ and the monster riddim ‘Kill All A’ Dem’ it’s going to be interesting to hear his funky flex.

The Jelly Roll EP opens strong with the title track, which will bring a smile to even the badest badman’s face with its unashamed cheesy and down right stupid catchy hooks. That isn’t even a diss it’s a full on dance floor bomb for exactly those reasons. It comes on like a smoother, swung and less annoying version of Felix Da Houscat’s Cry Baby. The ascending descending riffs that get tweaked and flipped into bouncy synth lines really make this track and keep it rolling over the laid back soca-esq drum patterns.

The grime beats that is ‘Nasty Nasty Nasty’ makes an appearance in the form of two remixes one from funky maestro Roska who adds his very own deep dark and down right danceable vibes to the track, and the other by dubstepa Sukh Knight who spaces things out and adds that distinct wobble of his. Roska’s remix stands out with its bump and shuffle along with the dubby old school house stabs and his trademark sub.

The real mystery comes in the form of the deep house vibes of ‘Guro Triba’ by Soule Power, which finishes off the EP. This could well be a DVA collaboration who knows… but it does have a nice smooth groove brought on by some bongo action and a steady four four pulse.

Scratcha DVA brings a solid EP to the table Jelly Roll in particular should make the dance go off and with rumoured collaborations with the likes of Cooly G on the cards there should be plenty more to come.

Originally written for
Sonic Router.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Cyrus – Space Cadet/Junk Yard [Tectonic]

Cyrus has been big in the game from way back either solo or as half of Random Trio producing some of the deepest bass heavy platters around. This will be his first platter for a while on the sublime Tectonic label. His dubstep credentials run deep just like his sound and as one of the originators of the sound he got picked out by Distance for the Dubstep Warz sequel Generation Bass where he got chance to showcase his sound.

This 12” opens with Space Cadet, which it just so happens got aired on Generation Bass as a dubplate, it’s a dubbed out almost industrial sounding number with, as the name suggests a proper spaced out sound. You can almost hear the afterburners of a shuttle deep in space morphed into planet shaking bass. There is a half step vibe going on here but the heavy kick plays off the high hats, crackles and snare to create a groove with an almost jazz like swing. The breakdown is so BIG it drops out into silence where you feel like you’re in a vacuum before a chest-pummelling bass drops back in.

Junk Yard on the flip has a more driving sound to it with double kicks and a gnarly deep down and dirty alien bass line that’s coupled with that huge Cyrus sub. There is a dark bounce that can be hard to come by at work here, if your feeling anyone from Mala to Distance or Goth Trad then this is right up your street. Both sides kill it in different ways, but this may well edge ahead. There’s a raw, physical feeling to this track, you can just tell its been made for the big rigs, pure soundsysem banger.

In a world where dubstep is an ever evolving beast and changing into anything from full on rave anthems to strange hybrids of hip-hop and beyond people like Cyrus are keeping the original dark, dirty and deep vibes going and pushing it into new territories.

Originally written for Sonic Router.
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