Through their creative scope and arrangement prowess Baishe Kings shaped 2017 to their collective will
2016 was a mixed bag. It felt like for every good thing that happened, something bad did. Daniel Clowes released his exquisite book Patience, but Leonard Cohen died. Cannibal Hymns released a slew of records that put them on the musical map, but Lunar Quiet lost their front man. England got knocked out of the European Championship but Iceland proved that a small nation, that had 10% of its country watching in the stadium, could defeat Europe’s footballing elite.
One stand out moment was witnessing London’s Hip-Hop group Baishe Kings for fill a ridiculous claim they made, to release an album a month for the whole year. Let’s just let that sink in for a moment. An. Album. A. Month. And what’s more not only did they do it, but each subsequent album eclipsed the one before it.
These albums ran the gambit from Boom-Bap, Drum and Bass, Conscious Hip-Hop, a Party Album and pretty much everything in between. Highlights included an album devoted to cheese and the first ever 3/4 Hip-Hop album. But what made these albums special wasn’t that the music felt it was knitted together from forgotten samples and new loops, but the lyrics. Baishe Kings lyrics are filled with these subtle lines that mix England’s past with its present.
If this is your first time listening to the Baishe Kings, don’t try and force it and follow everything from start to finish, as you’ll miss some amazing name drops and beats. Instead just let it wash over you, but keep an ear open for some reference that seems tailor made just for you. While the lyrics are the heavy weight title main event, to use a Baishe wrestling reference, the music is definitely worthy of a ladder or intercontinental title match. The beats are laid back with inventive samples that pop and fizz in the background, rather than banging and slamming in your face. If you think Tricky and Prince Paul you’re on the right track. In fact the SuperKush album sounds like the Baishe Kings only had the Tricky vs. the Gravediggaz EP as kids and decided to make music that sounds like it.
Royal Air Force take us on a high octane romp through the codes and conventions of 70’s cop shows soundtracks
One of the best things about music, is when you find a band you love, and then you realise that they also have a side project. This just happened. A few months ago I was exulting the virtues of Swiss jazz funk outfit Charles Bronson Moustache Defenders. If the name isn’t enough to want to check them out, WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?!? Um, yeah, anyway, I then find out that the bass player, Joe Moustache, is in a band called Royal Air Force.
Like with Charles Bronson Moustache Defenders Royal Air Force make a music that is steeped in the past. The 1970’s to be honest. Lead track Funky Spider sounds like an outtake from an episode of Starsky and Hutch, Kojack or a slew of cop shows. As Funky Spider starts out heroes have spied the villain and begin the chase. It’s all running on foot through busy streets/parks until the baddie steals a car. To keep up the heroes have to commandeer a car and the track picks up pace and tempo. After driving recklessly the villain crashes and then the chase starts off on foot again. Eventually he is cornered and after a slight scuffle he is arrested and brought in the questioning.
That’s it. This is a high octane romp through the codes and conventions of 70’s cop shows soundtracks. But don’t be deceived there is more than meets the eyes. The composition is complex and rewarding on repeat listens. There are subtle flourishes that at first you don’t notice, but on the third, and fifth listen, jump out and try and mug you at knife point. In a nutshell Lalo Schifrin would be proud!
Melt Yourself Down join the Speedy Wunderground gang
There are fewer sentences in the English language that get me more excited than “New Speedy Wunderground single”. Whether these four words are either be said or written down, it doesn’t matter I immediately get Goosebumps. But when I found out that Melt Yourself Down were going to be the eighteenth release in the on-going saga, saying I got Goosebumps doesn’t quite cut it.
When MYD first exploded onto the scene in 2013 with their self-titled debut it caught most music fans by surprise. No one expected an Afro-Beat Punk jazz group from London to deliver the goods, but deliver they did. After winning over audiences wherever they played, they won over music buying fans with an album that is still hard to explain three years later. Then all went quiet and I feared the worst. Was it just an amazing one off?
Luckily I was proved wrong when they released their follow up, Last Evening on Earth, earlier this year. As the title suggests it was as apocalyptic as it was danceable and remains a highwater mark for this year. Now they’ve returned with their first new material since its release, and let me tell you, it’s an absolute screamer. You know that goal that Luka Modric scored against Turkey in the European Championships? Well that was a tap in compared to this!
Another Weapon opens with a MYD’s trademark rhythm section firing on all cylinders as Kushal Gaya sings “You’ve got the rage, You’ve found someone to blame”. Not to get all political, but could this song have had any great impact if it had been Speedy Wunderground #15, or #21? As Another Weapon progresses it gets more and more frenzied and more and more out there. But there is a lo-fi charm to it that keeps us on our toes. We’re given the impression that everything could fall over at any time under its cantering rhythms and liberal use of timings. In fairness the time signatures are all over the shop and the horn section is having blast. In a nutshell, imagine Sun Ra being produced by, well, Dan Carey. But just when you think all is lost and the freak out will never end, it only comes back together again for its glorious outro.
Unlike other Speedy Wunderground singles, where the song is written during the 24 hour session, Another Weapon has been part of MYD’s live set since 2013, but as Speedy Wunderground say on the sleeve notes to their Year 2 compilation “Rule #11. Speedy Wunderground Reserves the Right to Change its Own Rules”. Everyone at thisyearinmusic is glad they did, as this is another weapon to their 10 11 point arsenal.
Another Weapon is released on 5th August and can be bought here