It’s an amazing and transporting concept. 70s Oakland is incredibly real, despite the space-age treatment Sun Ra brings to it! Some of the subject matter is obviously controversial given its place the context of blaxploitation film period - I just find it amazing that he managed to achieve the same stylised sense of mystery, soulfulness and experimentation in his filmmaking as in his music.
Extreme blog hiatus. Struggling to fit everything in these days.
Channeling the dreamy RnB vibes of The Weeknd and Sepalcure come Holy Other. Their With U EP has four killer tracks, the best of which is ‘Feel Something’. I’m feeling we’ve reached a bit of a saturation cap with obsessive vocal-warping producers right now; Jamie XX’s excellent new Far Nearer / Beat For release is a case in point demonstrating that the best producers rely on much more than just pitching a sampled vocal up or down over a beat, instead making that element a part of a much richer and more original composition.
While ‘Feel Something’ yields a kind of musical warmth, Holy Other’s EP is, broadly, cold and sad; a new wave of producers are gradually affecting RnB in much the same way that the likes of El-B, Jay Da Flex and co were influencing old school UK Garage at the turn of the millenium: infusing a genre that’s had it’s heyday with a kind of nostalgic, dark gravitas.
Watching the 1998 film Buffalo ‘66 over the weekend, I was amazed by the breadth of talent on show from lead actor Vincet Gallo. Because he wasn’t just the male protagonist of this brilliant film - he was also director, writer and composer of the vast majority of a superb Original Soundtrack, which I went and bought as soon as I got home. Other contributions to the Soundtrack come from Yes, King Crimson, and even Gallo’s father. But here’s a big atmospheric look in ‘Lonely Boy’:
Last night’s second-ever Dems gig in Brighton was brilliant. Big up all those who came down!
A few records I’ve been listening to that need to get mentioned:
Hyetal’s new Black Acre LP, Broadcast is sounding incredible, a culmination of everything fans have known this producer can pull together. The best track on the album is ‘Diamond Islands’ - massive vocal, AMAZING drums samples - all the good bits of the 80s giving a giant hug to the modern bass scene.
I ventured into the treasure trove that is Avalanche Records on my last trip to Edinburgh and picked up a few recommended things that I knew I’d like. This is a great, gentle album, the brief ‘Soheyho’ standing out with beautiful layered harmonies and big textures. It’s one of the first Olive Grove label releases, and it’s so thoughtful my head hurts trying to unravel its mysteries.
Finally, we supported Polarsets in this Euphonios bash at the Great Escape last night, and Dave, Duncan and I all thought they were one of the best live acts we’d seen in ages. It sounds way bigger than just the three of them in the band, and some of the stuff they get up to with percussion needs to be seen to be believed.
It’s been a mental, interesting and educational month or so, where we’ve played our first gig - which was both exhilarating and horrifying at once - and are now moving on to our second at cheetah speed, after a heavy weekend session in my girlfriend’s renovated family barn. Anyone who produces in their bedroom, I really suggest you try playing a live show at least once, with instruments. It’s fucking difficult. Since doing it, my appreciation for anyone who can play anything live - well or not - has gone through the roof.
There were a lot of well-wishers and mates in the crowd so there was hopefully never going to be too much heckling! It wasn’t ‘wicked’ as such - we stumbled through the thing, with 5 minute breaks between songs and flitting through files on our laptops in the classic ‘email checking’ mode.
Almost a month later, and the whole thing feels like I felt when my first tune got a play on XFM. Just excited and wonderful and brilliant. Tomorrow’s gig at this Alternative Escape is going to be the culmination of a lot of hard work and analysis. Playing this stuff live was so impossible a few months ago, but it’s now more a live act than anything else, amazingly.
I’m just so stoked and happy that anyone would want to put us playing to people in the first place. Here’s a remix we put together for Miaoux Miaoux’s next single, and we’ve got another big one coming up well soon ahead of a single/EP release to be ironed out.
This Little Dragon cover is so very good. Played out on Gilles Peterson earlier in the week, alongside an amazing 30 minute Erykah Badu set. Soulful and stripped down. That’s how it sounds, not how to listen to it…
Going a bit heavier, here’s some horsie-step from HxdB aka Hexadecibel, who’s collaborated with Distal in the past to make some really exciting bass sounds. This tune’s called ‘Hoof Hearted’ and it’s on repeat. Soon to be released on Palms Out.
Bringing it right back down, this guy Awning is giving away a free bunch of downloads from his first EP. This luscious New York Smile track turned me on to it - it’s a big morning tune replete with cut-up samples and totally anachronistic epic 80’s guitar riffs, which is a first. That’s all I know about him - feeling the gutsiness.
For his live performances, he developed a different way of playing his tunes, and this experiment has resulted in a new act altogether, under the moniker Aimes. Yo Yo Mama stands out from his recent Soundcloud compositions, with its squitty pads and oscillating bass synth - to my ears, the hook feels like almost a laidback reversioning of Girl Unit’s ‘Wut’:
Aimes / Aman Ellis plans to tour the UK if his latest material is received well enough, which would be unmissably excellent. It’s a busy year for him - his Label ModyWorks are re-releasing his Cacti EP in a few weeks before throwing down the Aimes EP, followed by a SECOND Cacti EP.
I don’t know which I’m more excited about, but it doesn’t really matter - there’s room enough in the wonderful world of music for both sides of Aman Ellis.
Non Person is from Finland. His Ninja Tune / CMYK take on production is absolutely brilliant and refreshingly tangential to a lot of the ‘en mode’ electronic sounds out there right now. ‘Too Late’ is massive, and I’m told there’s more to come from him very soon.
Sorrow is the latest and best from the L2S Recordings camp, and ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ amounts to the standout track of his debut LP. A testament to the endurance and influence of UK Garage on a new generation of soulful producers, this track recalls Synkro and his cracklestep contemporaries and also expands where label-mate Submerse leaves off with his recent releases. Those snare claps are just amazing.
How To Dress Well has generated a horde of admirers with his stripped back and reverb-washed sound. The Twins Remix has been in my head all week so I thought I’d put it up here. Perhaps it’s not to everyone’s tastes, but you’ve got to commend the ballsiness of what HTDW’s trying to do.
WHEN is this going to drop? Teeth and Boddika are the two bass artists I’m looking forward to immersing myself in this year, and this cut from the former might just beat his other 502 forthcomer, ‘Vibrate’.
Thomas Bjerring’s Stratus totally passed me by when it was released last year; it’s an amazing soulful minimal techno record, culminating in the amazing track, ‘0245’. Jamie XX played it in his recent 6 Mix session, and it fit in beautifully with the rest of his eclectic soul/garage-driven set. Spacious vocals are sewn into tech 4x4 beats, and it’s markedly different from the more dancefloor-orientated tracks on the EP, Trentemoller-recalling ‘Stratus’ and ‘Republique’. Anyway, here’s that first tune:
Stateless’ first release, and LP standout track, ‘Ariel’, was duly given a Dark Sky makeover last year, which seems to be indicative of a great artist for the future. The vocals recall Jeff Buckley, the electronic arrangement is deep and slow - Matilda is unique and brilliant, and I’ve copped it already. Here’s a minimix to give you a taster of the goodness: