Young Fathers are the band, on the Trainspotting 2 soundtrack and firing on all cylinders!
Back when I was at school a film came out that, basically, shook everything up. That film was Trainspotting. A stories about junkies in Scotland was about a million miles away from my live in Dorset, but there was something about those characters, that film and its soundtrack that really connected with a teenage me. Now there is a sequel, T2, and its looking like all those old emotions could be re-awoken.
The lead single from the soundtrack is Only God Knows by Young Fathers. When this Hip-Hop trio exploded onto the music scene in 2010 they were a breath of fresh air, but little did we know that their 2014 debut, Dead, was going to win the Mercury Music Prize and birth their genre shifting follow up White Men Are Black Me Too. Only God Knows follows on from this, but blurs the boundaries of what Hip-Hop is/could be to the point that by the half way mark you don’t know what you’re listen to.
Only God Knows opens with a throbbing church organ and the Leith Congregational Choir delivering some soul saving vibes, before Young Fathers join the party with a pounding drum beat, subtle basslines and evangelical lyrics. Halfway the song breaks down to faux acapella revelations before everything it build up again.
The real power of Only God Knows is how it mixes Hip-Hop, gospel, a DIY recording ethos and the lyrically fervour that Young Fathers are praised for. In a nutshell, its gospel-punk sounds like nothing else around at the moment. But the stand out moment is whenever the Leith Congregational Choir join. At firs their inclusion was jarring and felt out of place, but after a few listens they anchor and ground the song together. Why did Young Fathers want to work with them? Because “There’s nothing like singing with your Aunties” the band exult. And who doesn’t like singing with family? Only God Knowns…
Only God Knows is released now through Big Dada, physical release in March
Dallas Distortion Music unveils another slice of forward thinking music with Cinema’s debut long player
What is one of the most important things for a band to have, other than great songs? A search able name. And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead had the right idea. Texas’ Cinema thought they’d go from something more obtuse. When you search for Cinema Dallas you get, well, a load of cinemas. Which is a shame as their debut album, Absence, is thirteen tracks that, after a first list, have the complexity of mist, but just like mist there is a lot going on to keep everything from disappearing into the ether.
Each track is recorded using a modular synthesizer, recorded live to high-bias audiotape. Tape degradation can be found strewn across these recordings, giving them a slightly timeless feel, like they were found at a garage sale and uploaded to a Bandcamp page without any editing and manipulation.
Through delicate phrases and layering Cinema manages to create a feeling a flux and movement. At times it feels like the musical version of ripples on water after you’ve dropped a stone in. The further the ripples go out the gentler and smooth they appear, but due to the original drop the initial force comes back again and again.
Absence is out now through Dallas Distortion Music
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.
Raisa K has returned and her three year hiatus has done nothing for her quality control
Right, stick with me, but this is going to get personal. In 2013 Ninja Tune announced that they were starting a new imprint called Technicolour. I was incredibly excited. Then they released their inaugural 12”, Feeder by Raisa K. It was exactly what I needed that that time. Over it’s twenty minute duration Feeder was filled with inventive pop music with an alternative/lo-fi twist. Imagine M.I.A. covering The Fall and you’re on the right tracks. Then the unthinkable happened. Raisa K went quiet.
In the intervening years Raisa K has been a member of Mica Levi’s backing band The Shapes and DELS’ touring band, as well as remixing The Insomniacs Club, but there was no follow to Feeder. The longer Raisa K left it, the more unlikely it looked that a new release was on the horizon, but this week all this has changed. Raisa K has released a new single, Give Thanks!
Give Thanks picks up where Feeder left off. The music is upbeat and jaunty punk-pop. A hypnotic loop kicks things off while Raisa K sings “I don’t care cos this is who I am, This is you and this is me, I could never be like you and you could never be like me”. As the song progresses ad-hoc basslines and drum beats under pin everything while rave-esque synths keep everything moving forward. As you can tell from the lyrics Raisa K hasn’t lost any of her existentialist and absurdist flourishes. The B-Side is the slow jam Sleeping Under the Coffee Machine. Everything is much slower and levelled than the whistle stop of Give Thanks. Lyrically the song is summed up in the lines “Don’t take it to heart honey, Don’t take it to heart, You’ve still got my heart, Don’t make it so hard” The music is melancholic and morose and compliments the words perfectly.
We can all give thanks that this single that was well worth the wait and, fingers crossed, it won’t be another three years before the next one…
Chris James throws off his musical past on new single and EP
Chris James’ new single Stairs Up to the Sun is a far cry from his previous incarnation, the electro-rock group Stateless. James has gone back to basics and released a bittersweet acoustic ballad. “This song represents a special time for me.” James says “It happened really fast, it just kind of wrote itself! I remember having the idea on the beach, watching the sunlight reflecting off the ocean. The title is a reference to William Blake’s poem Ah! Sun-flower.”
The EP, Space in the Clouds, was written after overcoming a difficult and dark period of this life and features the crème-de-la-crème of the London music scene, basically an enviable line up of, DM Stith, Lorna Rose, Nick Ramm, Arista Hawkes, Ben Trigg, Suneil Pusari, Barny Barnicott and Jim Abbiss.
This is an EP that grows makes your appreciation grow with every listen. While, musically speaking, a Space in the Cloud is totally removed from James’ past, however it does contain his high level of composition production.
Space in the Clouds is out 9th December through AWAL