Not only did the month of June bring us some wonderfully sunny weather – it also saw the release of a particularly high amount of quality music. The rush to soundtrack the summer brought us stoned House jams, exciting Afro-Juke, nosebleed Techno and a whole of host of unclasifiable delights. As ever, our writers are on hand to make sense of the deluge of music for you.
Young Marco – ‘Trippy Isolator’ (ESP Institute)
Young Marco is one of the most interesting young producers to break through the ranks in recent times. His eclectic productions and mixes connect dots between genre, sounds and eras but the LP format is where he truly belongs & NY’s ESP Institute, with it’s lackadaisical, art-house aesthetic is the perfect outpost for his unique style. The ‘Biology EP’ is a delightful serving of ambient, tropical House. Rife with chimes and retrofitted nostalgia it could easily fit in alongside ‘Crockett’s Theme’ on the Miami Vice OST. ‘Trippy Isolator’ is the track I find myself returning to most. Bonus points for the album art, give me that on a t-shirt.
Taylor McFerrin – ‘The Antidote’ – Early Riser (Brainfeeder)
It’s unlikely that Taylor McFerrin will ever eclipse the cultural phenomenon that was his father Bobby’s 1988 international hit, “Don’t Worry Be Happy.” That being said, his debut LP for Brainfeeder is positively lush. Every song offers something different. Cinematic and textural, combined vocals and melodies spiral upwards together blossoming into something ornate and fruitful. It’s daydream music and perfectly at home on FlyLo’s imprint. My choice jam has to be ‘The Antidote’, which features full-bodied guitars and swooning vocal raps from Melbourne’s Nai Palm.
Mumdance -‘Take Time’ (featuring Novelist) (Rinse)
Mumdance’s spacial, almost industrial new school production on ‘Take Time’ is superb in itself but alongside Novelist’s raw, unapologetic vocal, the results are doubly explosive. It’s hard to believe Novelist is only 17 given the confidence he rides the instrumental with here too, particularly when you consider its structural complexity, but then again, that probably serves as a good motif for where instrumental grime is right now – the possibilities are endless.
El Mahdy Jr – ‘Lost Bridge’ (Danse Noire)
My favourite cut from his ‘Gasba Grime’ EP for Danse Noire, El Mahdy is one of a rare breed who deal in their own authentic, cultural musicality. Marrying together traditional Middle Eastern sampling and instrumentation within varying electronic templates, his music is constantly intriguing and on ‘Lost Bridge’, he brings about a sense of meditative, spiritual calm. Awash with gentle sitar strings, layered percussion and deft, atmospheric melodies, it makes for a super intense, absorbing listen.
Clap! Clap! – ‘Rainstick Fable’ (Black Acre)
This teaser from the Teyyi Babba album on Black Acre is one for the polyrhythmic head nodders amongst you, as Cristiano Crisci returns with three and a half minutes of perfectly packaged Afro-jukeism, complete with gently plucked guitars, punchy monotone subs and some cracking timbales sampling. Not only that, but the forthcoming album is presented as an audio tour of an imagined island – I’ll be getting a one way ticket.
Randomer – ‘Stupid Things I Do’ (Clone)
We all know there’s a lot of nosebleed techno out there at the minute, and it’s also common knowledge that Randomer’s more than capable of building some more than convincing beats from the acceptable end of that genre tag, but his forthcoming 4 track EP for Clone’s Basement Series has to be some of his toughest work yet. Whether it’s the kick on the two hard hitting versions of the title track, or the aptly named ‘Percussion Workout’ on the flip, this is peak time fare that takes me right back to Billy Nasty’s storming set at Bloc 2008.
Head High – ‘Hex Factor’ (Power House)
Amidst a collection of wavy house and techno numbers on the new Head High EP, is ‘Hex Factor’- a radical divergence in sound from the format of the rest of the release. The track sees Head High (or Shed to most of us) taking a step back from his Berlin roots and entering into a sound carved by breakbeat and DnB. The five minutes which make up ‘Hex Factor’ are built on repetition, something which is intrinsic to most of René Pawlowitz’ music. It’s less reliant on melody, leaving it to be a simplistic, fast-paced thumper of a track which proves to be one of the producers most exciting endeavours yet, and continues to ensure carnage on every dancefloor he steps up to.
Lone – ‘Vengeance Video’ (R&S)
Taken from ‘Reality Testing’, the latest full length release by Nottingham producer Lone, ‘Vengence Video’ provides a doorway into what is to be expected from the LP. Consisting of dry thumping bass-lines and melodic Jazz piano work, its all surrounded by that familiar rough texture present throughout his work. It is a definite stand out on the record and a quality example of Lone’s infamous genre smoothie, gracing between Hip-Hop, House (the Detroit kind)
Headless Horseman – ‘Headless Horseman 005’ (Headless Horseman)
The elusive Headless Horseman returns with 005, following 004 released earlier this year. Since establishing himself in 2013 with three releases on his own label and an amazing live Boiler Room set, the Horseman has accrued a strong following in the world of Techno. The playful mystique adds to the image but never detracts from the quality of music.
005 is arguably the Horseman’s strongest release to date. The EP commences with the spectacular, unwavering ‘Cannonball’- one of the most invigorating and well constructed pieces of Techno I’ve heard in a long time. Enormous drum sounds and extensive percussive patterns drive the track towards apparent aggression. The groove is irresistible. ‘Ghost’ is a more straightforward developmental affair, adopting a staunch 4×4 beat veneered with subtle drones and textural finesse. The spacious ‘Solitary’ is all about peaks and troughs. The brooding paranoid piece exemplifies this mysterious mans ability to excite and innovate.
Relay – ‘Untitled 1-3’ (Our Circula Sound)
Shifted makes his return to Our Circula Sound, this time under his Relay guise since for the first outing since 2011’s ‘Untitled 1-3’ on Naked Index. The three tracker espouses a no-nonsense approach directed at the dancefloor, in which atmospheres and analogue loops combine to create a cohesive release engineered to perfection. In typical Shifted style individual elements combine to form a grandiose whole, packed with polyrhythmic detail.
‘Untitled 1’ is highlighted by the movement of the rhythmic synth-line, while ‘Untitled 2’ is made memorable by the dogged kickdrum and the distorted one-shots that define the groove around it. The minimal methods on ‘Untitled 3’ are accompanied by an ever evolving squelching white noise, complimenting the hypnotism and repetition with spontaneous overlay.
Floating Points – ‘Montparnasse’ (Eglo)
Being a fanboy – particularly in my chosen line of work, is generally pretty unbecoming , although when it comes to the work of Sam Sheperd I can’t seem to help myself. Ever since hearing the summertime strut of ‘King Bromeliad’ a few months back, anticipation has been rife for what the other half of this recently released 12″ would sound like-and unsurprisingly it doesn’t disappoint whatsoever. Once again displaying Shepherd’s mastery of dynamics and atmosphere, ‘Montparnasse’ makes every second of its elongated eleven minute running time count-with the track at once as intricate and dramatic as it is progressive and danceable. Dubbed House chords simmer with gentle forward motion, as percussion tumbles into view with exquisite timing and melodic flourishes add an air of haunting beauty. The most rhythmically tough piece Shepherd’s put his name to since ‘ARP3’, ‘Montparnasse’ comes to a halt after nine minutes, as a beatless swell of synthesized arpeggios and pads envelop the track sending it to a goosebumb inducing crescendo.
Wayne Snow – ‘Blue Moon’ (Tartelet Records)
After dropping what could well be my record of the year so far in Max Graef’s ‘Rivers of the Red Planet’ LP, Copenhagen’s Tartelet continue their fine run of form with this debut EP from Nigerian vocalist/producer Wayne Snow. Released in collaboration with Parisian Afro-Psych label Comet, the ‘Red Runner’ EP is a supremely confident first solo outing from an artist who first made himself known via his feature on ‘Running’ from Graef’s album. ‘Blue Moon’, the slight highlight of a hugely enjoyable release, finds Snow’s beautifully sung dirty intentions sat atop a stilted Hip-Hop beat – complete with twinkling Rhodes. Concluding on a slowed down, decidedly more romantic tip, ‘Blue Moon’ is evidence that you’d be best advised getting behind Wayne Snow now and saying you were there first.
Ital & Halal – ‘Phase 2’ (Lovers Rock)
Considered and pensive Acid Techno that’s dark and dubby (a rare musical cocktail that I wish more producers would exploit). This fruitful collaboration matches the recent trend for pushing the 303 to its more gentle experimental limits (see Tin Man). Delay heavy Acid however overdone is never unwelcome and Phase 2 is another record to add to even the most causal Acid fan’s collection.
Youandewan – ‘Tino’ (AUS)
As I wrote in my review of his eponymous EP the Acid line in Tino really took me by surprise. I wasn’t familiar with Youandewan’s work (which is pretty disgraceful considering his prolific discogs page) and decided to review the EP on a whim. I’m really glad I did offer to as Tino is easily one of the years stand out tracks for me. Stripped back Deep Acid House has been churned out by countless producers in recent years but what sets Tino apart is that there’s fresh and understated banger behind the well-worn archetypal instruments of Techno.
FKA twigs – ‘Two Weeks’ (XL Recordings)
There have been a scary amount of artists emerge in the alternative R&B world over the past few years, but none as otherworldly talented than Tahliah Barnett aka FKA Twigs. Having recently announced the release date of her debut album, the bluntly titled ‘LP1’, the first single ‘Two Weeks’ soon emerged. Following a stint of successful collaboration with Venezuelan producer Arca, Twigs links up with Clams Casino, an occurrence that seemed almost written in the stars. The meeting of minds doesn’t disappoint as her effortlessly beautiful vocals intertwine seamlessly with Clammy Clams’ earth shattering blend of Hip-Hop. The Cleopatra themed, Nabil directed video is pretty stunning visual accompaniment too.
Reginald Omas Mamoode IV – ‘As We Move’ (Five Easy Pieces)
Sometimes deep and dubby, other times neck-snappingly squashed; Reginald’s take on contemporary Soul music is one of the most impressive around at the moment (especially when staring out at a blue sky on a 25 degree day). His second outing for Five Easy Pieces follows on from his warmly received 2013 debut ‘Do You?’ and it picks up exactly where it left off. ‘As We Move’ is a 7-track extended EP that combines bouncing Sa-Ra esque basslines, layers of live percussion, sooty keys and heartfelt vocals to irresistible affect. Another record from within a crew of young talented musicians that continue to completely own 2014.