Monday, 30 November 2009

Dot Rotten – Something Out Of Nothing [Rotten Riddims]

Dot Rotten is back with the underground album Something Out Of Nothing the follow up to one of my favourite grime CD’s of recent times R.I.P. Young Dot and the free promo This is the Beginning that got him some well-deserved attention a while back, so SOON has quite a bit to live up too. Dot is on a fierce independent tip producing most of this himself and self-releasing, he’s got the fire to pull it off too.

After the opener with some dodgy teacher skit things quickly pick up with a solid first track before you get ‘Two Step Non Stop’ which sounds like the official lift off of SOON with a dirty broken beat, horn stabs and a skippy grime meets hip-hop funk feel welcoming you in and setting out the stall, ‘I’m Not Stopping’ has a similar thing going on. And before you know it you’re in deep and he’s playing to his strengths, Dot’s got skills when it comes to adding darkness and emotion to tracks; he comes out sounding like a UK version of hard underground southern hip-hop at times with grimy edge. On ‘Get Money’ and ‘Best Of Me’ he pulls off the emotional struggle bars brilliantly where as ‘The Roads Are Cold’ and to a lesser extent ‘The Days’ gets a little let down by the grating auto-tune hook that he’s no doubt got skills with but sometimes misses slightly, the beats and lyrics are dark and on point though. Not many people have pulled off the bars about struggling and reaching for more so well and with such emotion maybe since Boy In Da Corner Dot has got a knack for it and its refreshing to hear honesty along with hype in grime, which brings me to ‘There’s More To Life’ where Dot rips up Dizzee’s classic beat from ‘Brand New Day’ and more than holds his own.

It’s not all emo-grime though he can go hype when he needs to as his ‘Talking The Hardest’ remix and bars show, he plays Giggs at his own game and even ups the stakes by brining energy and aggression. He brings some greeze to some low down dirty synth funk on ‘I’m Going Hard’ with Faith SFX on the buttons turning in a beat that stands tall with Dot’s productions. He pulls it off again on the ‘Rowdy Riddim’ freestyle with a splattering of old bars I swear I heard on SB.TV/Westwood and all that; the remix bars still sound good. ‘Don’t Diss The Program’ is another highlight, maybe even my favourite on SOON. Dot’s production is deep, dark and skips along with energy while him and clipper go at it with bar after bar. The chorus is too much: ‘I’ll crack your head like a coke can’. ‘They Don’t Know About Me’ and the preview of ‘Violence In The Music’ show Dot has really been working at song craft, his stuff is sounding less like he’s just got a sick beat and rhyming on it and more like fully formed songs than ever before.

Dot shows his ambition on ‘Ride For Me’ on a quality Terror Danjah beat he drops a track with a bright and trancy Pop/R&B hook and lyrics about girls. Danjah pretty much has the perfect beats for keeping it grimy while having that musical ear for the mainstream, it reminds me of JME’s ‘Over Me’ produced by Deco and that’s the way I’d like to see grime go mainstream without to much compromise, bright and gully. Dot’s reaching for the money and he’s got the talent for it, but there are still a few more underground albums in him yet before that avenue is explored.

Something Out Of Nothing is a diverse affair with dark, gully, emotional, hype and a little bit of cheese all thrown together and it holds up well. Dot’s productions are on point as are his flow and lyrics. It’s a grower though it’s not all instant hype and cheap tricks, he takes it deep and it shows. You really have to stick with him a bit before it opens up. It sounds like he’s been working hard on song craft, every track bar the freestyles are a full on song where everything feels tied up and like one solid piece rather than just balling on beats full tilt with 8 bar rallies. He can do both and do it well mind but its refreshing to hear fully formed tracks on a grime mixtape. I might still prefer R.I.P. Young Dot right now but it’s still early days and you can see Dot is improving his craft and putting the work in, SOON is still dark and rough but it’s slicker than the last. He’s not done yet either with the Extra Attention CD due to drop pretty soon, it looks like a good year for Rotten. Dot is the full package he can write songs, spit bars and produce beats, if/when he breaks out and makes moves for the mainstream, which he’s threatening to do he’s easily the best placed to do his thing and keep his personality by making music and not just a quick buck. But who knows if that will happen the grime kids are seeing green and reaching for it, but for now enjoy the sounds because Dot nailed it.

Dot Rotten Interview & bars on SB.TV

Dot Rotten - Two Step Non Stop

Download: Dot Rotten Presents – 50 Free Instrumentals

Download: Young Dot – This Is The Beginning

Friday, 27 November 2009

Kowton – Stasis (g mix) / Countryman [Keysound]

Keysound have stepped up a gear this year dropping more 12”s than ever before and doing it fine style too, with unique takes on the bass sounds of the underground. Starkey and Durrty Goodz dropped a killer 12” of hyperactive street bass anthems, Zomby did his aquatic gloop & bass rendition of label bosses Dusk & Blackdown, DVA showed off the dark side of grime and Grievous Angle re-fixing a jungle anthem into a rolling garage number all to great effect. But with Kowton they come with something all together different that manages to sit so well with Keysound and expand it’s sonic pallet.

‘Stasis (g mix)’ gets things rolling: here Kowton takes garage and deep dubbed out minimal techno and fuses it to a Youngtsa-esq half stepping dubstep sound. But lowers the tempo and ups the groove to create a really unique zoned out groove led number, which just rolls out like a long lost garage joint that Basic Channel and Youngsta forgot to make back in 2001. The deepness is hypnotising.

Things get minimal with ‘Countryman’, a four to the floor pump and a relentless bass pulse replaces the garage vibes with something altogether darker and sinister. The track builds and rolls with dub samples and a subtle groove, it feels so simple but ends up greater than the sum of its parts. The minimal half step house rhythms really feel like a fresh slant on the dubstep techno sound.

Kowton takes it deep with this 12” and showcases his unique vision in full effect, plus it’s yet another example of bass heads lowering the tempo and upping the groove, an experiment that’s working wonders at expanding the whole scene into different territories by bringing DJ’s and producers from all sides into the mix in a multi-sided tempo shifting genre skewing bass monolith. Kowton and Keysound bring the goods on this hypnotic platter, it’s a 12” not to be missed.

Originally written for Sonic Router.


Blackdown Interview & Mix:


Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Atlas Sound – Logos [4AD & Kranky]

The album that nearly wasn’t… Logos lives and sees the light of day after the kafuffle of the demos accidentally leaking and Bradford Cox (the man behind Atlas Sound & front man for Deerhunter) shouting about it being scrapped. But all of that blew over, you can’t hold a man like Bradford down for long, he’s prolific to say the least and consistent too. One of my first ever posts on this blog, when I wrote even worse than I do now and never expected anyone to be watching (to be honest I still don’t expect anyone to be watching…) was about Atlas Sound’s debut album Let The Blind Lead Those That Can See But Cannot Feel a record I fell for after being skint at university looking for legitimately free quality music online, which is where I stumble upon Bradford’s blog with epic amounts of demos. The dreamy bedroom electronica that fused shoegaze soundscapes and melodic indie pop or garage rock got under my skin. So when the debut dropped I was all over it and it’s testament to his talent either on his own or with the band that I’m still looking to his releases when so much indie is leaving me cold, the Deerhunter/Atlas Sound axis really hasn’t had a misstep yet.

The first thing you notice about Logos compared to the one that came before is that its less glowing electronics and more ambient punk, not unlike a stripped back Deerhunter sound with less punk and more ambiance, yet holding back on the fuzz. The first couple of tracks set a dreamy drunken mood with that hazy doo-whop feel that appeared on Microcastles. ‘The Light That Failed’ and ‘An Orchid’ are very strong openers.

The track ‘Walkabout’ with Animal Collective’s Panda Bear aka Noah Lennox has been talked about quite a lot in indie land and rightly so it’s a joyful yet laid back hazy summer afternoon of a track. I’ve never really got on with AC or Panda Bear’s music its always feels like its missing something but here on ‘Walkabout’ it works, it’s like a super lo-fi Fatboy Slim track gone right…

‘Shelia’ goes back to the haunted doo-whop-pop, and its just as catchy as ‘An Orchid’.

But its the centrepiece ‘Quick Canal’ with Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier really brings the album together, it’s an almost nine minuet long hazy journey through glowing spaced out electronics and haunted vocals. It’s maybe the second most electronic sounding piece on Logos along with ‘Walkabout’ and ties it quite nicely to Let The Blind… the previous album. I’m not familiar with Stereolab but the vocals fit very nicely on a track that’s been floating about in demo form for ages on Bradford’s blog.

‘Kid Klimax’ is my highlight of the back half of Logos a half that still seems to be in ore of ‘Quick Canal’ and decides to keep things subdued rather than top that beast in the middle. ‘Washington School’ comes on like ‘Walkabout’ from the darkside, all synth bass and twinkling loops, taking away joyful abandon for hazy dreamscapes and it works a treat. The title track closes in much the same way Logos started in a day dreaming stripped back doo-pop world of its own.

Logos is a very nice album indeed, for me it’s missing some of that bedroom electronica that made Atlas Sound so appealing in the first place, but when that’s there its on point. Plus the adding of the stripped back Deerhunter-esq doo-whop is an undoubted highlight and makes the Atlas Sound project a good varied listen. The simpler feel really lets his song writing shine through so all those abstract yet personal lyrics come out. In a year that indie records have pretty much left me cold, Atlas Sound have pulled off a little gem of a record.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Sigha – Rawww/Hold Your Heart Up To The Light/Untitled #2 [Hotflush Two]

Sigha hits back with three subtle slices of deep dub techno on another 12” for Hotflush Two. There is a really hypnotic aquatic feel to his productions and a tracky minimal style that just rolls and rolls with the smallest of progression until you’re locked in the groove submerged in bass and dubby techno rhythms. He operates somewhere between the London/Berlin/Bristol sounds of the gray area that fuses dubstep andtechno he fits with people like Emptyset or October just as easily as he does Scuba and Shackleton.

The ten-minuet roller ‘Rawww’ is the chirpiest of the bunch with bright synths that work up through the water like bubbles in a futuristic tech soup made of nano-bots and a nice easy groove that ebbs and flows with enough punch in the beats to make you move and enough sub in the bass to give you that eyes closed blissed out dance floor feel. ‘Hold Your Heart Up To The Light’ is a deeper broken groove affair, its got a half step techno thing going on not unlike the recent Kowton 12” on Keysound or indeed Scuba’s last double EP. Sigha’s use of clicks, crackles and field sounds really bring some atmosphere to his productions. ‘Untitled #2’ sits in the ground somewhere between the last couple in a swirling bumping world of it’s own hypnotising you in its techno Zen.

This is another quality platter from Sigha and Hotflush they really know how to keep the techno sounds alive in dubstep today and show signs of becoming not only main stays in techno DJs sets but maybe even leading them in new directions. His first 12” is still a personal favourite of mine but this one is easily on par.

Links to download...

Sigha’s Hotflush 02 Podcast


RSS feed:

Direct download:

or just go to:

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Hudson Mohawke – Butter [Warp]

The debut album from genre-skewing hip-hop producer Hudson Mohawke was always going to be a mad one. His first beat tape Hudson’s Heaters hinted at him being a madcap party starter that fused strange and sometimes goofy samples with hip-hop sensibilities to create something all together different. A vision of hip-hop that has a lineage with people like Madlib and J Dilla where the beats do the talking. But it’s more than just a look back at those producers things are being pushed forward. A slew of young artists are taking inspiration from all over the place whether it be the slick R&B of Brandy, Timberland and so many US chart hits or the hip-hop underground via the vibrant bass sounds of dubstep and the off-kilter smeared synth sounds of Skweee/Chip-tune or the LA/Glasgow beat scene. With all that and more in the pot a whole new dance sound is coming to the fore, one that’s been bubbling under for some time.

With Butter HudMo picks up where he left off with the Polyfolk Dance EP earlier in the year, that was full of colourful cartoon-like playful beats with so much energy it came on like a sugar rush. Butter takes the goofy cartoon style even further but manages to keep things the right side of cheesy/fun by setting it against some seriously well-crafted tracks with a shimmering, highly polished mutated party sound.

The hair-metal meets grimy hip-hop opener that flows into ‘Gluetooth’ with its bright and glitchy bounce and buzzing low-end bass funk getting things off to a rip roaring start and sets the tone for the more instrumental beat based tracks perfectly. He comes on like instrumental Outkast at their most insane and follows in the hip-hop tradition of silly skits with the lead into the supper sugary ‘Joy Fantastic’ with the vocal tones of Olivier Daysoul that gives a good performance on a track that straddles the fine line between cheese and brilliance. A trick that’s pulled off to better effect on the prince-like ‘Just Decided’, which might not be as insanely ear worm inducing but it hits the spot for me.

But where he really shines on Butter for my money is on the super shiney glitch addled instrumentals like the skippy chipmunk soul and synth funk of ‘3.30’ or the broken beat twisted horn action of ‘Trykk’ and the skipping high-hat funk of ‘Velvet Peel’. These tracks make you want to sing along even though they have no words, you can almost hear Andre 3000 letting rip without him actually being present and to me that’s more powerful than much of the vocal contributions on offer here, which do show potential and work a treat but get trumped by the power of the productions.

The beat boxing, bleeped out ‘ZOo00OOm’ is another highlight for sure the flowing bass drones and SNES bleeps come on like Timberland with an eye on the dance floor, its future funk at it’s best. ‘Rising 5’ pulls off a similar trick but comes off as a more laid back smooth groove, the twinkling soul vibes snapping drums and Rhodes keys give it a poppy Dre-era vibe, which brings us nicely onto: ‘Tell Me What You Want From Me’ with Lo-Fi-G-Funk maestro DâM-Funk which is a vocal highlight that meets somewhere between the pure computer game synth funk of his own productions and the glitchy soul of HudMo’s there is a sweet, smooth flow to it with a healthy air of cheese. Nadsroic’s contribution on ‘Allhot’ works well too she comes across like a robo-songstress over the big beats.

The track that was almost vocaled by R&B superstar Rihanna, ‘FUSE’ is brilliant you can only imagine what it could have been like with such a vocal on top, there is melody a plenty and so much slick shine. The charts need a bit more fun injected into them with a bit more freaky, interesting yet insanely addictive instantly enjoyable beats and going by this effort HudMo could well be the UK’s answer to the R&B super producers and deliver on that. It sure would cut through the vapid auto-pilot pop that comes off like background music for fashion show or the soulless/sexless teen-bop/auto-tune R&B imported form the US and imitated here by TV show contestants or people chasing the money sound all of which lacks so much funk and fun that its depressing or the coffee table indie anthems by numbers of so much more joyless chart fodder… I can dream can’t I? Sure keep it slick, fun and shallow with loads of up front pantomime and bring on the show but a little more twinkle in the beats a big more fun experimentation with personality would go a long way.

And that’s what he’s got, there is so much personality to Hudson Mohawke’s music its full of life, energy and humour; Butter is one of the most fun albums I’ve heard for a little while, sure it’s a bit goofy and fly’s all over the place skitting from idea to idea and back again but its all the better for the playful nature of it. The super shiny and bright production gives everything a brilliant glow that just demands attention and attention is what he’s got with rumours a plenty of him executive producing for big names such as Rihanna and Erykah Badu, which could be very exciting indeed. Butter is a solid debut album from an interesting, diverse producer with some serious potential that most importantly puts a smile on your face.

Play: Butter Star Galactica

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Guido – Beautiful Complication/Chakra [Punch Drunk]

You know those tracks that you hear and they just hit the spot perfectly, but don’t seem to come out for about a year for you to actually own and play out yourself… well ‘Beautiful Complication’ is one of those and it just dropped through my door. I first heard it on the excellent mix by Guido from late last year. I’ve posted it before but its worth another listen so you’ll find it bellow. For me ‘Beautiful Complication’ featuring the vocal talents of Aarya is the perfect mix of slick R&B and synth heavy soul shaking dubstep coming from the new breed of producers that are going through a hell of a purple patch this year. It’s been in my head on and off ever since I heard it, like a love song beamed in from the future designed to lodge it’s self in your brain plus his productions always creep up and grow on you. The slinky emotional and soulful voice of Aarya playing off the deep, bright synth lines, midi orchestra and horn sounds work perfectly and add another dimension to Guido’s twisted soul anthems.

The flip comes in the form of ‘Chakra’, which is on a similar loved up tip with sweet housey piano’s and melodies offset against some deep rough bass and a vocal mantra proclaiming ‘I can make you feel good, I can make you feel me’ I think anyway... There is something about his midi sounds that brings out a simple almost Detroit techno feel to his music, a machine soul. The clicks and snaps of the drums have a hip-hop boom bap skip to them that really suits the Timberland gone haywire on a dub soundsystem vibe. Guido has such a musicality to his work, his stuff just screams melody and accessibility. With rumours of Hudson Mohawke being picked up to work with R&B stars like Rihanna maybe Guido could one day follow suit and as his future soul already sounds like R&B’s next step. But who knows what will happen I’m just glad this is finally out, Guido brings the goods and Punch Drunk delivers.

Download: 29 Minuet Mix by Guido

tantalized – guido
beautiful complication - guido, aarya & ruthless
chakra – guido
you do it right – guido
orchestral lab- guido
johnny 5 – gemmy
mad sax – guido
do it! – joker
tango – guido
digidesign - joker

Sunday, 15 November 2009


A rummage through my record back…

Cluekid & LD – I Don’t Wanna Cry/Jupiter 9 [Bullfrog Beats]
The jungle vibes are strong on this one, emotive diva samples and Detroit techno chords play off some serious 140 jungle experiments with some soul shaking bass. Not unlike Skream’s insane ‘Burnin’ Up’ and last years ‘Monkey Style’ on Subalicious.

Geiom/Hizatron – Bubbles/Von Glooperstine [Berkane Sol]
Bag on sight white 12” business from the Notts crew. Geiom comes with a skipping techy bubbler, which sounds not unlike a robot short-circuiting to a garage pulse that switches up into a 4x4 bump. Hizatron takes us on a low-slung bleep’n’gloop tip, minimal in a techno sense but with an ear for fun.

LV ft. Errol Bellot – Don’t Judge/(Fantasic Mr Fox Remix) [2nd Drop]
Deep and rootsy excursions into dub: A-side, has lush horns, instrumentation and vocals off-setting the sparse beats and bass. FMF kick up the rhythm section and get squelchy on the bass creating some kind of garage/digidub hybrid.

Quest – Last Dayz/The Unknown [Deep Medi]
Some of my favourite anti-social tracks right here, epic slices of deep soundsystem future funk. Those breakdowns take you to another place, while the synths add the energy.

Heny.G – Area 1/Retro Love [Gangsta Boogie]
This plate has been on the cards for ages and delayed for to long, but now its hear and takes some seriously funked up dance floor kicks that bring the boogie while the soulful bass and pads bring the bliss.

Brackles – Rawkus/Air Pie [Planet Mu]
He’s been unstoppable this year and this 12” is no exception. Mad energetic twisting synths and that broken beat meets garage shuffle he’s so good at along with Shortstuff. Pure dance floor energy from the grey area that brought you future/garage/funky/dubstep/grime/electro/techno/house-U-call-it?

FaltyDL – Party/Alpafun [Ramp]
Low down garage funk with plenty of soul and the party vibes to match. Like Ghost moved to New York and started a warehouse party with a house band made of funk legends and free cocktails.

Sully – Reminder/Jackmans Rec [Frijsfo Beats]
Bumpin’ garage beats and a rude rough and ready bass pressure that sounds so dark and swung. These tracks have been a long time coming and they still kill it.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Kryptic Minds – One Of Us [Swamp 81]

Even though this is their second album One Of Us seems like a debut, a fresh start, a new sound. After countless years producing D&B and gaining a reputation as being some of the biggest in the game they decided to change the game and get involved with dubstep. Many D&B producers have made the transition to the deep and dark side of dubstep with grate success, Breakage, Instra:mental and Martyn all spring to mind alongside so many others. So Kryptic Minds story may not be that out of place but the unique sound they are brining back to dubstep kind of is. They hooked up with DMZ heavy weight Loefah and his newborn label Swamp 81 and together they have really set a statement of intent. They are going right to the dark side, with dark as hell atmospheric half step a sound pretty much pioneered by Loefah and Youngsta back in the early days of dubstep and a sound that has been neglected a little in recent times. One Of Us is that statement.

A menacing intro apparently made up of field recordings of walking on gravel melts into ‘One Of Us’ which first appeared on a 12” earlier in the year with ‘Six Degrees’ on the flip. It’s a dark almost subtle track, I say almost as these tracks have a huge amount of power to them but its restrained. Bass pulses, half step beats with some of the nicest sounding intricately swung high hats around, they really build grooves with the high end of the percussive spectrum. What Kryptic Minds do best is atmosphere and all of these tracks ooze with it. They don’t vary the template at all and this really creates a dense journey with a singular vision that’s so well executed.

The drops on the slow-mo industrial tribal-like ‘Generation Dub’ are so big, when they want to pummel you with bass they really know how to. Some of this album reminds me of Distance’s Repercussions from last year, especially the more percussive numbers with the more restrained less gnarly bass lines. Kryptic Minds keep the buzz saw bass patches for their d’n’b and go for a darker sound. ‘Stepping Stone’ is another highlight, with Arabic samples and a low slung bass groove and crisp rolling hi-hats with dubby techno pulses slowly building. For some reason they remind me of the dark end of Unkle when they turned a bit prog at times, at times this is a bit of a put off and at others it’s not even on my mind.

The opening strings and pads, drenched in crackle on ‘Something To Nothing’ really draws a Burial comparison it’s some seriously wide-screen cinematic tension building, like a high budget ‘In McDonalds’. ‘Secure Lost’ is on a similar tip with dubbed out vocal snippets and loads of field sounds, there is even a slight garage beat to it, but in half step, so you get bursts and tension, bursts and bass pressure. A Reece-like ghostly bass even features in all its looming glory. The restrain really adds a mesmerising distopian atmosphere drenched in a longing sadness.

‘Chosen Few’ is maybe the most aggressive dance floor punisher; the grizzly bass rasps are built to shake up the place. Yet it’s still pretty restrained in its evilness. They show that you can be dark and aggressive without becoming a cartoon. The album gets a little brighter with the last two tracks, glints of light can be seen anyway, and the brighter elements shine through. ‘Organic’ has a similar feel to ‘Stepping Stone’ and the closing track ‘Distant Dawn’ even twinkles with a bit of dewdrop melody and like the name suggests, the sound of a breaking dawn. There is such a free flowing organic feel to this album, where a lot of dubstep sounds made for the city, I can’t help but feel a rural warmth, loneliness and darkness in this.

Swamp 81 is set to shake and meditate soundsystems around the world, with rumoured Burial & Loefah hook-ups and a 12” from Skream on the way it’s bound to get attention and rightly so. Kryptic Minds take on the half step sound on One Of Us is drenched in cinematic proportions of atmosphere, if you’ve been in a club and heard some of these tracks in the mix the jump out at you in a way others don’t, with a fully formed world attached to them. If this album has a companion this year it has to be Clubroot’s self titled debut on Low Dubs, they’re both singular visions with Clubroot rolling out a slightly lighter garage sound compared to Kryptic Minds. A lot of people get compared to Burial but this release really does echo his sound all be it minus the garage and haunted crackle, Kryptic Minds are a hell of a lot smoother, precise and spaced out but with a similar depth in production with layers of field recordings and melancholic atmosphere. Sometimes One Of Us feels a bit to tasteful or even a little boring but in the right frame of mind it’s an epic listen that creates a fully realised world of its own that subtly progresses from pure darkness to smidgens of light, I guess it depends on your mood.

Blackdown Interview & Mix

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Maths – Descent [Holy Roar]

Maths have been on my radar for a while after releasing a quality split EP last year with Throats on Holy Roar, it set my stereo on fire with pure energy and relentless passion. They utilise the screamo tools of shredding guitar riffs and as the name suggests a throat bursting vocal delivery. They couple that with a post-punk meets hardcore musicality that sounds heavy as hell but with purpose. The band self recorded this album in their home studio in Norfolk and its testament to their talent that they nailed the sound. A sound which has an effortlessly flowing intensity that builds and peaks at all the right times, they don’t just go for the one, two, three, four shred brutality of other heavy bands they decide to build something and come out the better for it.

There are so many highlights on Descent and the album effortlessly flows as one whole piece. ‘Belief in Sorrow’ kicks things off with backwards tones and a shining melodic sound, like you’ve just woke up a bit a bit dazed and melancholic before you are smashed into despair with heavy riffs. They build solid powerful tunes that twist and turn effortlessly into each other, which the flow into the second track ‘Culpa’ shows, with its chugging riffs that soon melt into emotive chords and the funk’d up bass of ‘Wilderness’, which reminds me of Sonic Youth a bit, there is a spaced out emotion to it that something like Daydream Nation has.

The relentless pressure of ‘From Her Journals’ and ‘Boundless’ feed with euphoric power into ‘Sleep Deep’, which has an intense crescendo full of brutal physical drumming and adrenaline fuelled riffing topped off with throat shedding vocals, but the build isn’t all they have here, they soon drop into a melodic section that prolongs the intensity. It tough to make the vocals out through the shrieks and shredding but you get a hell of a lot from the delivery and odd word you pick up on.

It’s the guitar tones and tight interplay that keeps Maths sounding heavy with an evocative edge, they know when to turn on the power and throw out a melody. ‘…And Left To Die’ shows them at their melodic best, with a pent up calm before the storm feel to it that you just know is going to break out sooner or later. And that comes true with ‘Branches’ where they really tear out.

Where as ‘Belief in Sorrow’ starts the album and sets the tone, ‘Belief in Hope’ ends it and you really feel like you’ve got something off your chest. The music is so emotive and passionate that the sheer power of the music and vocal delivery give you this release like you’ve gone through something horrible and come to terms with it, they’ve managed to make a real emotional journey with this album it sounds like an honest hearts on the sleeve, all out release of a record.

Somehow Descent manages to sound epic even though it only clocks in at around thirty minuets and some of the songs only around two, they’ve got an ear for a tune and a concise vision that’s executed with an intense passion that keeps you coming back for more. Maths follows up the split EP in fine style, if you’re into heavy guitar music with heart and emotion that manages to keep well clear of cheesy cliché and an emo mope then Maths are for you.

Buy: Maths – Descent

Listen Now!
view track listing

Sunday, 8 November 2009

TVO – Rooks [Stuff]

The Village Orchestra has been prolific this year dropping not one but two albums, the first being a techno record called ‘The Dark Is Rising’ on Stuff and the second being an ambient piece ‘I Can Hear The Sirens Singing Again’ on Highpoint Lowlife. This 12” is on the techno side of things with a re-rub of ‘The Dark Is Rising’ joint ‘Afanc’ and a newer track on the flip. This could also be the last 12” Stuff do before they merge with Dre$$ 2 Sweat and Wireblock to form the mega label Numbers.

TVO’s ‘Afanc Remix’ is a hypnotic dubbed out techno joint that bubbles with subtle 303-like acid grooves and electro inspired drum sounds, filtered pads and dream like synths and orchestral flourishes bring a hazy melancholic atmosphere not unlike his ambient excursions on ‘I Can Hear…’ but set to a physical techno pulse built to zone out dance floors.

‘Dot and Hashes’ is another zoner with more of an electro feel, skipping robotic grooves set against reverberating bleep tones set the pace at a head nodding stagger as layers of hypnotic pads take over and everything breaks into a techno pulse, leaving behind the robo-lilt and pushing forward with grime-like bass pulses.

TVO’s distinctive voice sits somewhere between music for the head and the dance floor, not unlike if the idiosyncratic experiments of Mordant Music collided with the hypnotic layered techno of GAS. This is a heady 12” for the adventurous heads out there, an almost psychedelic strain of techno.

Originally written for Sonic Router.

Check out the interview and mix he did for us at SR too:

Friday, 6 November 2009

HEALTH – Get Color [City Slang]

The primal hell beast that is HEALTH have always been a favourite of mine, their t-shirts are brilliant but I’m in it for the music. The first time I saw them live it blew me away with a frantic percussive energy and a strange new vision of sound. The debut album HEALTH is still a favourite of mine but the DISCO version has dated horribly bar a couple of tracks, which was always the way of the blog house explosion that it came out of. Get Color the second album proper from HEALTH is now with us and I come to it with slight trepidation as: a) Die Slow the lead single and introduction to the new material sounds like a horrible combination of Nu-Metal-Electro and Kasabian b) Live the new material sounded more song based and easier to pigeon hole and maybe even lacking the energy of the debut material. Not lacking in power and frantic energy in the playing, they are still shit hot performers, it’s the music that was more sweeping and much more like post-rock than ever before. The stop, start percussive beastliness that brought so much intensity is now hidden under things that almost sound like songs. HEALTH are still really out there still mind they’ve not done a U turn, it just left me a little apprehensive about Get Color.

HEALTH bring vocals to the fore here, its not your regular vocal excursions though. With the first album you got a bit of what they do on Get Color but with a lot of otherworldly screaming like a dinosaur as well. But here they have a sort of reverberating, ringing; beyond this world quality to the voices and it really works well there is a dreamy blessed out angel of death quality to it when it’s juxtaposed against the music.

There are some misses on here like the unfortunate similarities swaggering indie pop stadium anthems on ‘Die Slow’ it just makes me cringe when the riff comes in, there is a powerful cheesy smell about it, even if they didn’t mean it. Then ‘We Are Water’ comes off sounding like a HEALTH//DISCO rehash, which immediately makes it sound dated, it works as the energetic peak of the album though but something doesn’t sit right. ‘Death+’ doesn’t quite do it for me either, the industrial buzz seems to wander and never really reach anywhere. Apart from that though the rest is on point all be it not as higher point as the debut. HEALTH don’t try and take you on such a high and physical journey here by the sounds of it anyway. Still the opener ‘In Heat’ has a lot of primal energy and the fragmented noises have a very nice melancholy vibe about them. The riffs on ‘Nice Girls’ when they finally kick in really kill it. ‘Before Tigers’ has a similarly killer riff as ‘Nice Girls’ and those dreamy, haunting vocals has a tender edge to it, this track rolls along like somewhere between a pre-historic love song and a futuristic Joy Division, its easily a highlight. ‘Severin’ shrieks and screams like previous material and even has an energetic twisting turning lithe quality to it before dropping into some swirling post-rock riffs backed with rolling drums and mournful vocals. ‘Eat Flesh’ also sounds a bit like a HEALTH//DISCO off cut but still kind of works, the drumming saves it. The finale ‘In Violet’ is a ballad-like song with skeletal guitars and a stripped back cold atmosphere, like a ghostly transmission of a long lost Joy Division song picked up on a distant satellite, disintegrating and broken over the airwaves. There is a fragile beauty about it.

One of the main missing links to what I found so intense and enjoyable with HEALTH pre-Get Color is the drumming, its still in your face and primal as hell, like a punch to your full body. But now its been pushed back a little in the mix and in the songs, its not as connected to the songs as it was before. Everything floats above it instead of being stuck to it. This does make for some heavy grooves though so it’s not all bad, grooves aren’t something HEALTH really had before, it brings a powerful liquid funk to the band. Once they twisted and now they roll.

Almost every track on Get Color sounds a bit like the spaced out ballads on HEALTH with plenty more guitar and bass used in a more traditional way, instead of a rhythmic way to make a strange noise, there are riffs a plenty here where they didn’t really exist before. This ends up being one of the strengths of the album when it works mind. It almost feels like this album leaves off where the last finished. HEALTH could have sound tracked a final battle on earth and the start of its descent into another world and Get Colour continues that dreamy feel.

Get Color seems harder to love there are flashes of what I loved about HEALTH the most over the whole album but there’s always something else there too watering it down a little. Is it that they’ve harnessed their powers and placed them into more song like structures, taken their raw free flowing ideas and shaped them a bit more instead of letting them fly. Or my enthusiasm for them has died a little. It’s still a good album and they’re a hell of a band but they’re not close to blowing me away like they did before. Maybe Get Color just isn’t as immediate to me as HEALTH and I need to live with even longer, only time will tell. They’ve spread their wings, flexed their muscles and show they have some serious skill and potential, I’ll keep watching but Get Color doesn’t quite hit the spot.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Shackleton – Three EPs [Perlon]

Back from the dead after the smoke has settled on Skull Disco and the bones picked on Mordant Music, Shackleton is back with brand new material on the renowned techno imprint Perlon, which is the home to people like Ricardo Villalobos who Shackleton managed to catch the ear of way back with his sublime ‘Blood On Your Hands’. This collection of EPs is not an album just a collection of tracks without a theme, not unlike fellow Bristol producer Peverelist who drops his first full length CD next month. But Shackleton is now based in Berlin I hear and that may well have rubbed off on his music. 3 EPs has a more techno bump to it and sounds different to previous outings.

The first thing that strikes me about this collection is that the bass tones are so HUGE they manage to find that exact spot in the middle of your body to vibrate, this hits the spot completely. There’s also a slightly brighter feel, less dread or vibrations from beyond the grave. Its still uncompromising but in a different way a more danceable way maybe... ‘It’s Time For Love’ sounds the most like Skull Disco outings on the first of the Three EPs, with spacious beats, car horn like flourishes but also a big does of funk-like bass, which gives it a nice bump. ‘Let Go’ has some quality rolling percussive moments but it’s the opening track ‘(No More) Negative Thought’ is the pick of the bunch so far, it’s an epic slice of bass melting atmosphere. With swirling wind and organ tones, ghosts inside a computer style vocal samples and rolling tribal drum patterns. The monumental bass tones rather than the drums carry everything along, which leaves room for the drum patterns to create subtle grooves. It’s an urgent powerful piece.

EP Two (sides C-D) kicks off with ‘Mountains Of Ashes’ which harps back to the themes of Skull Disco in name at least, the rolling tablas and mountain dread atmosphere kind of fits in with that too, its just the bass that really pushes out of that bracket as does the way it progresses through minimal tweaks and a deep rolling house outro that follow a bright orchestral pad. You also get pummelled with a MASSIVE pretty bumping bass line. Shackleton has always had an epic amount of bass but he’s often used it deeper in the subs here its more prominent somehow and bigger than ever. ‘There’s A Slow Train Coming’ reminds me of some of his Mordant Music excursions. I love the way he programs his percussion here, the hi-hats and jangly bits create a slowly unravelling tension above all the dark atmosphere and space age swoops, which I presume are the trains from the title. ‘Moon Over Joseph’s Burial’ finishes the second EP with clipped jangly grooves and strange percussive elements that skip along building gently over time and an almost talky box-like ‘oh’ sample before it all drops into full on bass pressure, it’s the building monotone organ riffs that really make for a disturbing listen along with the tracks pay-off though.

The final 12” opens with ‘Asha In The Tabernacle’ and the mantra of "Sense it, know it, let it be-be-be…" has a creepy air to it that just gets stranger when the chant “He’s got the whole world in his hands” drops. The electronic pads bringing a robotic soul to the track with another organ pulse and some subtle minimal percussion, there is a sublime, blessed-out melancholy at work here especially when the mournful bass kicks in, then you know it’s a ‘zoner’ and your hypnotised. ‘Trembling Leaf’ flutters into action with spooky cut up vocals and precise percussive grooves that skip and tumble along. But it’s the final track ‘Something Has Got To Give’ its Muslim Gauze-like twisted and slightly noisy Arabic style samples that really hit the spot. There is an undeniable darkness at work here the tension builds as the drums roll on and the pads turn into mournful motifs and the distant rumble of sub bass emerges. Shackleton does melancholic sadness so well.

Shackleton flexes his muscles with his first really new material for a while and comes out on top again. It also looks like he’s still out on his own carving a sound that’s truly his. It’s hard to drop the Three EPs into any category or genre; there are techno flourishes and dubstep excursions but neither stick and nor do many others. Its music for the darkest of dance floors but dance floors non-the less, you get the feeling that all this darkness isn’t entirely serious or the work of a maniac, there’s a humour to it whether it be in the names or the samples. The bass has such a hypnotising effect along with his unique percussive programming that you get drawn into his unsettling world. Three EPs is a singular immersive vision that only Shackleton could have made, turn it up loud and feel it.

Monday, 2 November 2009

2562 – Unbalance [Tectonic]

Dave Huismans’ debut album under the 2562 name Aerial won me over completely, the techno-infused dubstep sound really stood out. Tracks like ‘Kameleon’, ‘Channel Two’ and ‘Techno Dread’ to name but a few light up dance floors with a full on propulsive sound. Aerial to some was a little cold and greyscale, you could see where those where coming from but that was part of the charm for me. But since them the ever-prolific producer has been working on his other project A Made Up Sound, with plenty of 12”s and a whole album sneaked out at the end of last year called Shortcuts under the name he explored his sound and created something altogether more fluid plus he strayed into different tempo’s and got a warmer sound going. This seems to be an important move that’s rubbed off onto his 2562 project, as his second album Unbalance takes on a lot of these qualities.

An unnamed intro melts into a deep bumping techno groove that is ‘Flashback’, 2562 uses the techno/house pallet of sounds and twists them into bass addled variants that can sound so intense on a big club soundsystem. If you want techno with a bigger kick and a low end to die for you get it here, but its more than that there are subtle melodies and loops all over this record along with off-kilter rhythms to get you bumping on the dace floor. If you heard the Shortcuts project you know that 2562 can bring a more organic edge to his work than that on show on Aerial but where Shortcuts was really just a bag of sketches with plenty of ideas and snapshots of grooves and beats and Aerial was a huge almost compilation of well tested floor shaking 12”s morphed into an album, which worked damn well if you ask me… Well Unbalance kind of bridges the two by taking some ideas worked out in Shortcuts, the flowing off-kilter rhythms and techno pallet and marrying it to the fully formed dance tracks of Aerial to make pretty much the perfect combination of both.

‘Lost’ and ‘Dinosaur’ take subtle loops and paint quite beautiful pictures with them. ‘Lost’ drops soulful vocal samples and the mesmerising string loops on ‘Dinosaur’ make for one of the many highlights, when they play off the serious sub bass, broken techno drum patterns and playful bleeps you get a really joyous track.

The title track ‘Unbalance’ melts out of some field recordings and crackles into some subtle droning loops that create an uneasy atmosphere which builds before its cut through with some deep dubbed out keys and bass pressure before a lilting drum pattern gets the head nodding. He takes some deep house or techno sounds and moves them through dubstep into new territories with each track. There are other producers doing similar things but with very different results, Untold’s recent experiments marry eski grime beats with these techno/house sounds and makes an insane combination as does Ramadanman often resulting in a minimal stripped back sound. But 2562 has a sound of his own here.

The acid bubbles of ‘Superflight’, ‘Flashback’ and the closing track ‘Escape Velocity’ sound like a combination of A Made Up Sound’s Clone Basement Series 12” and the new sweeping human sounding version of 2562, the latter being an almost retro sounding Detroit number with a futurist vibe about it and a highlight for sure. I keep wanting to put this in with techno but in reality next to a lot of the genre this is just to intense, fast and bass riddled its all the best bits of techno but wrapped up with the added bonuses of dubstep.

The mournful synth tones of ‘Yes/No’ even sound more joyful and humane compared to the debut’s glassy eyed stare. This track is like the dark side of the kind of euphoric ‘Love in Outer Space’, which was a single not so long ago and features smeared glowing synth lines that flow into strange melodies. But ‘Yes/No’ does it in a subtle almost sad way and the latter makes you want to throw your hands in the air and shake one to the electro pulse.

Disjointed subtle clicks and rumbles kick off ‘Who Are You Fooling?’ with some droning soulful organ tones and sidestepping spaced out broken grooves, the track really builds tension. ‘Like A Dream’ also comes on like a twisting building tension fuelled broken acid track. ‘Narita’ is on a similar tip to ‘Yes/No’ but with a bumping bass groove and dub ascents along with a subtle yet driving bongo workout.

2562 is as consistent as ever but then Tectonic don’t do it any other way, Unbalance is a fantastic singular vision that can be enjoyed at home as a swirling broken techno infused dubstep record or in the dance with its relentless bass pressure and skipping rhythms. The deep dub techno sound is one that really made me fall for dubstep and dig deeper and this is probably the most fully formed dub-tech infused full length yet come in close with his debut Aerial and Martyn’s fantastic Great Lengths from earlier in the year. Plus with Shackleton just releasing three EPs at once for Perlon and Peverelist soon to release his full-length collection on us things are looking mighty healthy. Unbalance hits the spot and always gets a reload.
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