Friday, 30 July 2010

Mix: Xpldr # 1

Last Friday I dropped a mix over on my mini blog xpldr. And its been getting a really good reaction from the odd blog big up Simon, and forums all over the place, so here it is on the main site…

Mount Kimbie – Mayor [Hotflush]
MMM – Lets Git It On [MMM]
Altered Natives – Crop Duster [3024]
T.Williams – Anthem [Local Action]
Jackal Youth – Let Me Be [Reduction]
A Made Up Sound – Alarm [A Made Up Sound]
Ramadanman – Work Them [Swamp 81]
DVA – New World Order [DVA Music]
Martin Kemp – Fix [Blunted Robots]
Ramadanman – Fall Short [Swamp 81]
Peverelist – Better Ways Of Living [Punch Drunk]
Amen Ra & Double Helix – Steelz [Keysound]
Joe – Digest [Apple Pips]
Blawan – Iddy [Hessle Audio]
Mala – Living Different [DMZ]


From 120-odd to 140-ish in 45mins, all wax, one take, live.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Mount Kimbie – Crooks & Lovers [Hotflush]

Just two EPs in and you knew Mount Kimbie would be an act you’d love to hear an album from. Dom and Kai emerged almost out of nowhere into the dubstep scene and never quite fit in sonically at least; they just got embraced into the fold for making quality music. Crooks & Lovers their debut full length sees them spreading out a little from the EP format with ease and creating a cohesive and diverse record. There sound is hard to pin down; they float from ambient found-soundscapes full of twisted field recordings to rhythms that pop off like mutated strands of R&B from a parallel dimension. They sonic contemporise could be anyone from Boards Of Canada to Timberland via the UK bass scene. You never know quite where the tracks are headed or what’s coming next, you could be drawn down a path that leads to bliss or a busy dance floor. This all comes together in one Mount Kimbie shaped package that never feels forced.

The woozy opener ‘Tunnel Vision’ bumps with a hip-hop shuffle, that brews under spaced out guitar strums, distant vocals and field recordings of what sounds like a summers day in a park. It all melts seamlessly into ‘Would Know’, which cuts through a wind tunnel of noise with big bass tones, clicks and bleeps before releasing some soulful vocal cut ups into the mix before it steps it up a gear a little with quicker loops and beats. It’s a mesmerising piece and an early highlight: the video isn’t half bad either... ‘Before I Move Off’ starts like something from Druqks before morphing into a slinky guitar led number with the off-key Druqks-esq dissonant loops creating a freaky background to a funky little lick and popping R&B drum hits, vocal snippets and anything else they can get their hands on. It sounds like they’ll make percussion out of anything from found sounds to vocal ticks. There is an almost post-punk vibe to this track when the live bass and guitars start rolling, like they’re channelling 80s synth pop, post-punk and Two Lone Swordsman all at once.

The electro-esq ‘Blind Night Errand’ sounds like the most dubstep thing Mount Kimbie have committed to wax. It rolls into action with a tweaked out driving bass line that gets more and more twisted as it rolls along and block rocking electro beats, when that breathless little vocal tick hits its sublime. Guitars spring back into action on ‘Adriatic’, a folky aesthetic run along side more propulsive hip-hop ones in a way you wouldn’t really expect. It’s a little sketch that flows into another highlight from the middle of the record ‘Carbonated’, like a laid back variant on Terror Danjah’s ‘Air Bubble’ it pops and fizzes like the name suggests. With filtered airy tones and reverberating beats that roll through an almost James Blake-like organ/keyboard melody that has a sweet laid back gospel feel to it. They pack so much melody into every element of the music they make, its like everything sings off each other perfectly. ‘Ruby’ is he most like anything from the Maybes EP here along with ‘Field’, its got a slight post-rock twinge to it. Droning atmospherics find their way through lilting beats, low-down bass tones and subtle synth flourishes before switching up into a more upbeat flow. ‘Ode To Bear’ is an almost folky inclusion, its sunny and pastoral in a Mount Kimbie kind of way, laid back and subtle with shuffling beats and bitter sweat melodies.

The one two punch of ‘Field’ and ‘Mayor’ is one that keeps me coming back to the album time and time again, the pulsing techno build of ‘Field’ just keeps coming before it all twists into a sunny guitar jam as if out of nowhere. But the album really peaks with the wonderful ‘Mayor’, it filters and bumps into action in a mutated soulful house kind of fashion, with percussive clicks and bubbles bringing some energy before the synths really take off, glowing and twisting from arpeggiated flourishes to a tough head nodding crescendo. The way the bass plays off the beat and synths is pretty sublime, its low and funky and hits you just right. Closing with the melancholic ‘Between Time’ gives the whole thing a bitter sweat end of the night kind of feel.

With Crooks & Lovers Mount Kimbie pull off something that is tough to balance, its an album that’s both easy to get on board with and keeps you tuning back in, it’s a slow burner but easy to digest. It’s an intimate album that flows from mood to mood with ease, peaking and dipping again before it makes the transition again into a higher gear… Its chilled passages compliment the more twisted dance infused elements brilliantly they melt into each other with ease. You don’t quite know what’s coming next, the tracks twist and fold into shapes before your ears.

Download: Mount Kimbie – Field (Via. Xlr8r)

Thursday, 22 July 2010

LHF – EP1: Enter In Silence… [Keysound]

The LHF collective are made up of many but this four track EP, the first in a series or two for Keysound before they drop a full length comes from Double Helix, Amen Ra and Low Density Matter. Filling in the blanks somewhere between Digital Mystikz, Dusk & Blackdown and Flying Lotus: LFH are a wide-ranging project that takes in not only London’s diverse culture but a global sonic pallet and offsets it with pirate radio sensibilities. It’s hard to pin LHF down. If you’ve been following their Sub FM show United Vibes where they often take up the airwaves with dub after dub or the showcases on Dusk & Blackdown’s Rinse show you’ll know what to expect here, if not you’re in for a surprise.

The first two come from Amen Ra and Double Helix, they head the group co-ordinating it all as far as I can tell. ‘Steelz’ is a heavily rhythmic number with chimes, bongos and god knows what else playing off field recordings, voice samples and a grimy synth lead to create a real roller. On a similar tip comes ‘Broken Glass’, with its choppy drums that lilt and roll in hypnotic ways around Indian chants and tension filled synth loops before descending into a wormhole of bass.

Double Helix ventures out on his own on ‘Deep Life’, which chills things out a little with widescreen pads and diva samples echoing through the night with a bitter sweat call ‘deeeeeeper’ that ushers in a big snare and punchy kick over a buzzy bassline. The only track on the EP not to come from the above is ‘Blue Steel’ a Low Density Matter production that is pure vibes. Trickling water, sci-fi accents, late night jazz stylings and a killer sample or two that you may well recognise from early rave hits that have echoed through the ages one pretty obvious another not so much... ahem. They’re two little dance floor ascents that have been used so much by dance heads and they still sound fresh today and really make this track. It kind of sums up LHF’s skill at taking the vaguely familiar and filtering it through a prism so it refracts and comes out twisted into new shapes and colours slightly removed from the reality you expected.

Enter In Silence… is a quality EP that only shows the tip of the iceberg of what LHF has to offer. They thrive in a parallel universe of their own that runs alongside dubstep culture, a niche they’ve been working for some time and the fruits of those late night pirate radio session and studio freak-outs have been worth the wait. Bring on the full crew and more releases.

Download: LHF - Who Are The Keepers Of The Light? Group Mix

Saturday, 17 July 2010

C.R.S.T. – Revival EP [Well Rounded]

Well Rounded follow up some pretty addictive releases from the likes of Deadboy and Hackman with another bumpy offering from new crew on the block C.R.S.T. who are picking up those garage vibes and really running with them. Where some ‘Wot Do U Call It?’/’Future Garage’ doesn’t have that slinky garage bump or anything resembling 2-step C.R.S.T. really do. They vibe off the old school for sure, you can hear Armand Van Helden’s speed garage or DJ Zinc’s rave-adled broken garage from years back on Bingo as much as you can MJ Cole or EL-B but its kept vibrant from the sheer rawness and dance floor energy, its four bumpy ones from here on in…

Phone lines bubble into action on the opening number ‘Dial The Operator’ with simple bleepy melodic stabs and snappy garage beats before a big old Bingo era Zinc-esq bassline pulses underneath it all. Things get a little more four to the floor on ‘May Not Be Real’ bit it gets funk’d up with skipy percussive accents and bitter sweat diva samples bubbling over it all. Things get kind of Armand Van Helden on ‘Need You’, its reminiscent of his hit ‘You Don’t Know Me’ in the drums at least, it bumps along in fine style before dropping some plastic jazz samples for good measure. The ultra skipy ‘Walk On’ lilts with little percussive flutters that play off the one note bass pulse that sounds like an alien species of frog trying to get your attention, its all held together with chopped up samples and loops.

The Brighton label is making moves and dropping releases that keep on creeping up on you. Deadboy and Hackman are so musical and slinky that reaching for them in a set just puts a smile on your face and C.R.S.T. does the same in a different way. They do it a little bit tracky and with a stronger garage flex. This is one for the mix when you want it fun and bumpy.

Originally written for Sonic Router.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Sepalcure – Love Pressure [Hotflush]

Duo coming right out of NYC joining the dots between deep house nostalgia, the faint echo of garage and today’s dubstep variants. Chunky, wood carved rhythms balance toughness with a slinky rolling sound. Chopped and screwed house diva’s bring some spectral soul through the hazy sub and twisted synths. Sitting somewhere between recent material from Joy Orbison, FaltyDL, Scuba and Fantasitc Mr Fox, Sepalcure fit in nicely but with an edge all their own. It’s the depth of it all coupled with a visceral sense of emotion and atmospheric space that runs through the tracks that shows they’ve got their own niche.

The airy tones of ‘Love Pressure’ open up the EP and spread out into sweeping chords layering themselves under tweaked diva samples that ooze a melancholic, cathartic presences though the whole track. It’s the bumping kicks and lilting percussive accents that play over the deep bass that keep things moving though. ‘Down’ moves in a similar fashion, with the vocals pitching up and down, this time over more colourful, smeared synth tones that bridge dissonance and melody all at once. Yet again it’s the rolling percussive licks that bring movement to the space and dissonance of the bass and synths. Seplacure use the treated diva samples brilliantly too, in the wrong hands its another cliché used in so much dance music and especially in a post-Burial dubstep landscape but its pulled of in style here.

The flip rolls out in a similar fashion; ‘Every Day Of My Life’ is a slow grooving, blissful roller. With jazzy accents, subtle wobble bass and those chopped and screwed vocal hooks. Laid back, late night vibes. ‘The Warning’ fizzes into action with more of those bitter sweat, soul drenched melodies before driving right into some half stepping house grooves that balance a smooth, slow kick with some seriously infectious tribal percussive bubbles. Sepalcure do their thing on this 12”, its all so subtle but has a kick to it with some large bass grooves and irresistible drum patterns that just keep things rolling nicely. I’d like to hear what else they have up their sleeves.

Sepalcure - Every Day of my Life from sougwen on Vimeo.

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Roof Light – Kirkwood Gaps/What Makes You So Special [Highpoint Lowlife]

Double-header business from Roof Light, he’s dropping an album Kirkwood Gaps and a physical slice of wax What Makes You So Special on Highpoint Lowlife. The 12” EP is one for the DJs: Garage or bumpy house rhythms, deep sub, dubbed out flavours and bleepy computer game melodies, reminiscent of another Highpoint Lowlife artist Hot City at times and maybe Actress at others. While the album Kirkwood Gaps gets a bit tripy with a wider ranging sound that sits somewhere between the ambiance of Boards of Canada and off-centre hip-hop variants as well as the garage influence.

Kirkwood Gaps opens in an almost ambient fashion with tracks like ‘ Marrying Maidens Fair Of Willow’ setting the tone with distant crackles and shimmering guitar or ‘Kite Tails And Redwings’ and ‘Daytrips And Starlight’ which have their blissful melodies shaken to their foundations by crunchy broken beats, it sounds like it could be a section lifted from a Cold Cut mix. The glitchy ‘Drawing Near To The Printed’ rolls and lilts with a lazy groove and deep bass that’s pretty addictive, sometimes echoing something you’d hear from the Brainfeeder crew. Things get switched up a little when ‘Outline To Cross’ and ‘Hold It Back’ comes into view the latter with its smeared synths, rolling subs and bumpy drum patterns skip and bubble like a cross between Zed Bias, Todd Edwards and Kyle Hall. It melts and shifts from one mood to the other with melody and bass taking over from skittish grooves, like it’s a section taken from a DJ mix that’s been morphed into a full track. The dream like state of ‘Losing My Mind’ keeps things slow and bumpy with plenty of dubby bass playing under the shape shifting vocal coda. ‘Taro’ is in a similar vain but with added cut up diva samples. ‘Late Into The Evening’ brings the tempo back down with another slow burning blessed-out number. The way the album flows from early morning ambiance to bumpy midnight grooves before melting into the night is seamless.

The title track to What Makes You So Special mixes dub accents with punchy beats that pop off in all directions rolling in broken garage kind of fashion and bass tones that shake from the unknown. ‘Face Up (To Your Sensibilities)’ sounds like a deep underwater disco remake of Mario, slow house beats play off computer game sound effects and the odd echo of funky guitar, all sweeping through a soup of reverberating vocal goo, its pretty hypnotic. ‘Praying’ To T.E.’ comes on all bumpy and funky with fun cut up vocals skipping all over the beats and a bassline that wont give up until you’re moving. Things go a little bit underwater again with ‘Cakes, Biscuits and How's Yer Father’, its got a vibe not dissimilar to FaltyDL with its woozy blissful soundscapes that get punctuated by deep funky bass licks and skippy almost spectral garage beats.

Two solid releases from Roof Light, they do Highpoint Lowlife proud as it winds down its release schedule. If you want to go on a journey from blissful ambiance through glitchy otherworldly hip-hop to bumpy garage this is exactly what you need. Kirkwood Gaps gets under your skin and really starts to hit hard in its second half after easing you in with some hypnotic soundscapes. The 12” What Makes You So Special is a fun one too keeping it bumpy throughout.

Roof Light - sampler for forthcoming album and 12" by sideb0ard

Buy: Roof Light – Kirkwood Gaps [Highpoint Lowlife]

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