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The Bug unveils new single before he drops yet another EP! Prolific needs a new definition….

 

 

It seems like only last week that Kevin Martin AKA The Bug was releasing his last EP. It was in fact August 2015. In that time frame it’s looking like the world is falling apart, countries are imploding under petty nationalism, heads of state are dropping like flies and unprovoked violence is on the rise*. Despite all this global horribleness there are a few things to look forward to. I don’t want to list them all, but one of them is Martin’s new release, the double A-Side Box/Iceman. Box features rapper D Double E while Iceman features Riko Dan.

 

 

Musically it’s business as usual. Deep basslines meander through valleys of stark drum machines and layered effects and studio trickery. Its dense, dark and devastating. But it’s the lyrics that are the main event. Box showcases that D Double E is at the top of his game. He uses a simple word like ‘Box’, then due to his references and inflection it has a totally different. At one moment he’s saying be different thing outside of the box, then if you are too different you’ll be inside a box, like dead, then a moment later he uses a football reference that means you have to twist and turn to get in space so people can see you for what you are. All of these thing have different meanings, but because they are all grounded by the same word they are all the same. Clever man…

 

 

* Um, didn’t Martin kinda predict this on his last two albums?

 

 

 

 

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WERC’s debut EP for Bedlam Music could be the coolest thing released this year!

 

 

WERC’s debut EP for Bedlam Music, Framewerc, is cool. In fact it could be the coolest thing released this year. Its oozes machismo. Vibes effortless cool and gives off a blasé feeling that would make Zinedine Zidane feel uncomfortable. Basically it’s cool as!

 

 

“So how has WERC created an EP of this quality?” I can hear you ask. Well each track on Framewerc is made of multiple samples. Most of the samples are full samples, but cut up’s that have been manipulated, very similar to how William S. Burrows wrote The Nova Trilogy. A slight vocal line here, half a drum loop there and a vague feeling of bass and its done. Each track on Framewerc sticks to a certain genre and this feeling of cohesion really helps to win us over. Of course WERC isn’t just sampling, he’s adding his own loops and concoctions to the mix to create something that has the same feeling of familiar as a dream. You know where you are and who you are talking to, but everything is slightly skewed and lurid.

 

 

Stand out track is A2. On this track WERC samples classic, and (un)classic Hip-Hop. NWA rubs shoulders with ODB, to name a couple, while WERC himself layers loop upon loops to create a feeling my claustrophobia, the likes of we haven’t heard since Carl Crack’s debut. Is dense, confused, unyielding and very, very, very listenable!

 

 

Framewerc is the equivalent of meeting your hero and then having a pint with them, only to swap numbers/emails at the end and start up a lifelong friendship. Yeah, it’s that cool!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Oh it’s getting heavy” Kushal Gaya sings during the opening salvo of ‘Dot to Dot’, the first track on Melt Yourself Down’s new album Last Evenings on Earth. Gaya and YMD aren’t joking, MYD’s 2013 self-titled debut is pop music next to Last Evenings on Earth. The compositions are more complex, the music tighter and everything has an immediacy that was missing. Well missing is a bit harsh maybe, but it didn’t sound as vital as this though!

 

 

Three years ago, when Pete Wareham for MYD and they released their debut album they sounded like no one else. It was the perfect mix of jazz time signatures, punk attitude, Afro-Beat rhythm section and electronic blips and beeps filling in the gaps. In short it was as if Fela Kuti was fronting Antibalas while they ran through some punk numbers. Now they’ve returned and it’s business as usual, and that business is making forward thinking music.

 

 

The real power of Last Evenings on Earth comes from the intensity of the songs. ‘Dot to Dot’ kicks the album off in fine form. Hip-Hop rhythms are interspersed with one of the tightest horn sections since the JB’s, all the while the bass rumbles on with enough power to cause landslides along the Jurassic coast, if played loud enough. Lead single ‘The God of You’ follow hot on the heels of ‘Dot to Dot’. MYD’s blueprint is in full effect, expect everything has a slightly aggressive slant to it. Wareham and co. are pissed off and have something to say. This focused fervour is refreshing and gives the album an edge over its predecessor.

 

 

‘Jump the Fire’ shares more than just a name with Harry Nilsson’s 1971 classic. Both open with shouty vocals, but whereas Nilsson started off as a straight rock track that mutated into faux-psych, MYD never deviate from their electronic jazz mission statement. Synth loops and blips are under pinned by raspy horns that would make Hypnotic Brass Ensemble jealous! It’s the stand out track on the album. The horns swirls around you like a maelstrom trying to pull you inside out, but bass and beat keep you grounded so you end up feeling like an inflatable wind-dancer outside a car showroom on a Saturday afternoon. The opening guitar riff to ‘Bharat Bata’ is possibly the catchiest thing not only MYD have ever done, but that has been released this year! It lodges itself in your brain and coupled the vigour and energy of the playing it’s hard to ignore!

 

 

One of the most notable differences on <i>Last Evenings on Earth<i/> is that lead singer Gaya now sings in English instead of Mauritian. This change is only a subtle one, but it might attract them a bigger audience during festival season. Another profound difference is there is an apocalyptical vibe going on, but given the title this is hardly surprising. ‘Last Evenings on Earth’ is as vast and sprawling as their self-titled debut, yet at the same time it’s concise and refined. MYD were once described as the sound of Cairo ’57, Cologne ’72, New York ’78 and London 2013. This isn’t that accurate. Let’s update that to London 2018, as this doesn’t just show us London, and music’s current climate, it shows where it could go. It’s been three years since their debut, and I can’t see where MYD will be in three years’ time. However let’s just hope that ‘Last Evenings on Earth’ isn’t a prophetic as the title claims to be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We’re told that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. The same is true for albums. I dread to think how many times I’ve been digging in a shop and come across an interesting cover and immediately thought “I have to have this”. Sometimes it worked the Garden of Delights comp and other times it, well, didn’t. Thanks Terris! If you were in your local record shop and came across Yoni & Geti’s Testarossa album, you’d definitely pick it up! Against a green background a white toy Ferrari Testarossa hangs in space while what looks like candyfloss spews from its open door.

 

 

The music on Testarossa is as lurid and surreal cover, but this is what we’ve come to expect from Yoni & Geti, bearing in mind they were in cLOUDDEAD and Cavanaugh respectively. ‘Umar Rashid’ opens the proceedings with eerie beats, mournful piano and sultry synths. Lyrically it’s easy to tell that Yoni and Geti aren’t in the best frame of mind. ‘Allegheny’ carries on these themes. Everything is downtempo, almost ambient at times. Yoni and Geti’s verses are delivered at breakneck speed one moment and then beautiful crooning. The lyrics have a stream of consciousness vibe to them. This is exemplified with the line “Charge my phone, let me call my home, let me eat this scone”.

 

‘Madeline’ is the closest thing to having deliberate musical hooks. The music pulls us in with catchy melodies, and the lyrics are half sung/half spoken and have a lullaby quality to them, but instead of lulling us into a stupor, it keeps drawing us in with popping beats and inventive wordplay. ‘Frank’ is one of the stand out tracks on Testarossa. It is chocked full of laidback catchy hooks and has the closest thing to a conventional chorus on the album “F is for my buddy Frank. U is for growing up, B is bandana, U is for umbrella. Met a woman called Ella, Used to be a feller, We were on sassafras, She was my Cinderella”.

 

 

It’s around this point that you start to realise that there is an under lying concept. Maddy and Davy are lovers and have children. Davy is in a band and goes off on tour. While he’s away Maddy has to try and make ends meet and gets a job as a cocktail waitress. She gets lonely and has an affair with Davy’s ex best friend and band mate. I won’t tell you how it ends, but you probably get the idea.

 

 

Testarossa is an album that gets better with each listen. At first is all seem random and nothing appears to make sense. Yes you’ve enjoyed it, but the overall point appears to be missing. The music doesn’t seem to have any relation to the lyrics subject matter, but then it all clicks and you start to pick up on recurring themes and lyrics. The sadness and regrets of the breakup of a relationship. Sin and repentance and ultimately redemption. All this is underpinned by darkly comedic lyrics and scenarios, think Mike Leigh and you’re on the right track, delivered only as Yoni and Geti can. With flawless timing and straight faced panache. So can you judge an album by its cover? In Testarossa’s case, it’s not even close!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In 2014 Derwin Schlecker AKA Gold Panda went to Japan with photographer Laura Lewis hoping to capture some field recordings for a new album. Along with the accompanying visuals Schlecker hoped to create a sight and sound album that would brake the traditions of what an album could and should be. On one now fateful afternoon Schlecker and Lewis took a taxi and as they were getting out the driver said “Ganbatte, Kudasai” which loosely translated means “Good luck and do your best”. These words resonated with Schlecker. The now unnamed project and album had a name, and as Schlecker said recently “Once you have a title things come together a lot easier for what it’s going to be”. The resulting album is ten tracks of forward thinking music that runs the gambit of jazz, folk, electronica with boom-bap rap beats. Schlecker explains that everything sounds “quite motivational, quite positive”. The album was recorded in Schlecker’s Chelmsford studio, but Japan’s spirit and atmosphere permeates the whole album.
‘Metal Bird’ opens with album with soaring, glitching vocal samples while a delicate guitar underpins everything. If you were expecting another dose of high energy electronica, like Gold Panda’s 2013 album ‘Half of Where You Live’ then you might be disappointed. What ‘Metal Bird’ tells us is that Schlecker has slowed things down. There is still plenty going on, production wise, but it’s not as in your face as previous releases. Half way through everything goes up a notch as the breakbeats lope and skitter, showing that Schlecker might not have changed his way entirely. ‘In My Car’ is more of the same, as laidback beats cement the song in your head while quasi-60’s soul vocals dance around in a hazy sunset of forward thinking electronica.
‘Song For a Dead Friend’ sounds in places similar to fellow Chelmsford musician Squarepusher. The beats skitter past with lunatic delight while the synths and loops swirl about us like morning fog. The real stand out track is ‘I Am Real Punk’. Despite its acoustic calm, it packs a real punch. Repetitive guitar loops keep the song grounded while laconic bass, flitting beats and luscious strings give everything an eerie ethereal early morning vibe. This is probably down to the time of year Schlecker travelled to Japan. “Japan has this light that we don’t get here. It’s hard to explain. Well, Japan has this… at certain times of the year, it has this filter on stuff. So when we went the first time, there were a lot of pink and green colours.” ‘I Am Real Punk’ also acts as a lynchpin on the album for what has come and what to expect.

Another stand out track is ‘Time Eater’. Being chocked full of chiming samples that evoke Japan’s musical heritage they are juxtaposed with popping beats and euphoric synth loops. This is mixture of the traditional and the contemporary sums up the album perfectly. Its relaxed but self-assured yet full of unending charm and a positivity that is hard to ignore. ‘Unthank’ closes the album and acts like a bookend to ‘Metal Bird’. There is no percussion on it all, just layered droney synths. It feels like a post-modern lullaby at times, and if the album opens with a blazing sunshine vibe, this is a melancholy full moon.

When you get past the electronic glitches, jazz flourishes and folk tendencies, ‘Good Luck and Do Your Best’ feels like a garage album. Choppy beats and rhythms along with shuffling percussion helps create a feeling of urban movement and flux. There is a slow a swagger to the songs that is hard to ignore. On ‘Good Luck and Do Your Best’ Schlecker has created the album that he has always hinted at. In the past the tracks on his albums have compete with each other for your attention and praise, but here they complement each other, giving the album a complete feel. It’s safe to say that Schlecker has definitely done his best on this incredibly diverse and listenable album!

 

 

 

 

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Darko Riddims releases Hip-Hop that doesn’t mess about getting to the point, but at the same time it’s abstract as hell!

 

 

Hip-Hop has come a long way since Kool Herc and co. started finding jazz breaks and looping them at block parties. Part of me wonders if they would have known what was to come whether they would have got lawyers and copyrighted the shit outta their legacies? Probably not, but it whiles away some moments at work. Anyway, as I was saying, Hip-Hop it a varied and diverse beast now. If you can conceive it you can find it. Gangsta Trap, Goth Boom-Bap and straight up Grime. It’s all there, just a fingertip away.

 

 

On producer what manages to subvert all of these genres, while keeping in line with the original ethos of the genre is Darko Riddims. On his most recent album ATGS, Darko showcases his deft touch at production and composition. After a brief intro, the title track kicks things off in fine form. Disjointed basslines surge from speaker to speaker while a tight beat powers everything along. Good start. What’s up next? The Ministry takes a classical piano sample and chops its up, slows it down, then shoves a massive choir over it while a claustrophobic beats makes it far more edgy than it should have been. Over all great stuff!

 

 

As the title suggests The Scene sounds like a Mark Snow/Brad Fiedel mash up. Worryingly it works perfectly! After three flawless tracks The Arsenal takes a weird turn by starting with an Arsenal FC football chant intro that then goes into quite a hard and serious beat. The chant doesn’t appear again, making its inclusion confusing and disorienting. Did Darko think “This track needs something, I know a football chant!” or was the whole thing an accident? Either way we’ll never know, but it’s inclusion is jarring and bizarre. The Solution tries to get things back on track, but due to the intro of the last track, it doesn’t really work as we’re waiting for a moment of madness to derail a solid beat, bassline and synth melodies. The Technique is basically The Ministry Part II. Glenn Gould sounding pianos are backed by stark and menacing beats. All of a sudden a maelstrom of synths whips everything up, before calming down again. The Result closes the album. It’s like a trap Ennio Morricone remix. While it pops in the right places and has a nice bounce to it, it doesn’t feel as cohesive as ATGS’ earlier tracks.

 

 

Basically Darko Riddims makes the kind of Hip-Hop that doesn’t mess about getting to the point, but at the same time it’s abstract as hell! There are a lot of ideas going on and most of them work, but sadly when they don’t everything suffers. The overall point is good and the fact that nothing here is that conventional is a tour de force, but some of the samples and concepts don’t flow as well as they should. Saying that adding some of these tracks to playlists would be advantageous as would boost your reputation as being someone who knows about new forward thinking music.

 

 

Darko Riddims is a producer that needs to be monitored closely as it’s only a matter of time before he gets everything right and produces something that isn’t just abstract, but contagious too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Theater 1’s twelve month single project is complete

 

 

It’s been twelve months since Japanese juke and footwork producer Theater 1 started his single series. Each month he has released two new songs. These were generally about six minutes long and featured his trademark slow tempo skittering beats and industrial levels of bass.

 

 

New single Nero is no different. Cantering beats get things going in the right direction, while a liberal use of loops and re-loops makes it sound like your computer is glitching. There isn’t much variation, but that is the beauty of Theater 1’s work. The B-Side however takes on a more ambient vibe. At just over ten minutes long it’s the longest song Theater 1 has released. Slow maelstroms of synths and ricocheting beats engulf you, until its exquisite outro brings everything to a close.

 

 

What Theater 1 does now is anyone’s guess. Will he start another singles series or will be release a full length album? Whatever he does do it will definitely be forward thinking and exciting!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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