Despite there being but 28 measly days in February, there was still more than enough quality music flying around. As ever we’re on hand to help you make sense of it all, with our writers scouring the air waves, record stores and the internet to find you a delectable mixed bag of delights. Read on for epic tales of Afrobeat reissues, mind bendingly high concept audioplays, helium toned Disco edits and unexpected RnB flips…
Wiz Khalifa ft. Ty Dolla $ign – ‘Say No More’ (L-Vis 1990 Edit)
This is what ‘Jam City does bedroom Pop’ should’ve sounded like, what an out-of-nowhere Drake victory lap mixtape should’ve sounded like. Immaculately done and slightly inconsequential feeling in a way that elicits no guilt whatsoever, it’s testament to how much L-Vis has grown since 2011’s underwhelming ‘Neon Dreams’ that he can make a future Pop song as good as this from elements of two of our dullest contemporary Pop stars. The original was the best track either has contributed to in a while, but its Cloud Rap and Weeknd signifiers came across as a little dated: L-Vis gives it a lick of shiny new paint and comes up with something that sounds like what every SoundCloud pretender is aiming for in 2015 while simultaneously leaving them all in its wake.
Be it his subscription to the alienating ‘fake feminine mystique’ trope or the self-serious, formalist Techno presentation of his label Stroboscopic Artefacts, Lucy may be one of the more justifiably criticised dance demigods of recent years. One thing that can’t be denied though is that Stroboscopic Artefacts’ considered aesthetic has incubated some sensational music in recent times, and that the man (for he is a man) himself is still capable of exciting, left-field stuff. His remix of ‘Lintwurm’, by fellow Italians CW/A, reshapes the punishing, linear original into something more considered – and ultimately more earth-shaking.
Amnesia Scanner – ‘Angels Rig Hook’ (Gum Artefacts)
Where is my mind?
‘Angels Rig Hook’ is a near 15 minute epic ‘audioplay’ made up of bizarre narrative, state-of-the-art club constructions and futuristic sound design. Following its recent premiere on PAN’s Rinse show, UK label Gum Artefacts have now announced ‘Angels Rig Hook’ as their second release, which will also be elusive producer Amnesia Scanner’s official debut. If you enjoyed his/her work with Mykki Blanco and last year’s ‘AS LIVE ’ mixtape this will be welcome news. The release is set to arrive as a “one of a kind, edition of one, etched dubplate.” Figure that one out for yourself.
If you do one thing today (fans of Arca, M.E.S.H, Lotic take note), set aside 15 mins and give this your full attention, read through Jaakko Pallasvuo’s puzzling transcript below the player and go ahead and lose your shit. 10/10.
Isn’t it lovely when things go full circle? The tape that Brian Shimkovitz named his blog-turned-internationally revered record label after, is re-issued after a decade long personal quest to find it’s creator, Ata Kak. The story behind this record is quite remarkable, a tale of resolute musical passion and dedication – full of highs, lows, near misses and jaw-dropping revelations, beautifully captured last year (2014) in this BBC radio documentary. Ghanaian Dance music produced in Canada by a man who served time in a reggae covers band from Germany. Vinyl edition includes a foldout poster with photographs and liner notes
Word of Naples’ debut album has been circling since October of last year but, after several teasers, only in February did ‘Body Pill’ drop in its fully mastered glory. Fifth track, ‘Refugio’, is an LP highlight. Fitting in neatly with the Text Records sound engineered by Four Tet, the densely percussive melody characterises one of the album’s more upbeat moments. When placed alongside other album tracks ‘Abrazo’ and ‘Used To Be’ we grow accustomed to Naples’ comprehensive and distinctive variety of sounds.
Having already nurtured soft spots for both the Belgian vocalist and the Stones Throw procurer of beats, news of this remix inevitably brought high expectations. ‘With All My Love’ already stood alone as an uncomplicated beauty taken from de Biasio’s 2013 album. Jonwayne’s subsequent reworking somehow strips it further down, counterbalancing the luxurious reverberating bass of the original with a glitch-inflected drum machine that still gracefully accepts being subsumed by de Biasio’s warm melodies. This version boasts Jonwayne’s originality, whilst honouring the original’s simplicity – a true depiction of what a good remix should be.
Plata – ‘Kru’ (Circadian Rhythms)
Plata’s ‘Kru’ – a dark, ghostly flip of Cassie’s RnB classic ‘Me & U’ – is a special record. Kept firmly under wraps for months, it exploits just how effective the juxtaposition between colder, harsher Grime textures and classic female vocals can sound. The whirring bassline, sharp, percussive snaps and icy melodies might feed into a very different aesthetic to Cassie’s original, but it sort of feels all the better for it. Future classic material.
Joker’s new album is a full-blooded, cinematic listening experience to say the least, but standing out amidst all the verve, colour and emotion is ‘Mahogany’. I’m still a big fan of his Purple stuff – ‘Purple City’ is still in my Top 25 most played tracks on my iTunes – so naturally anything that hints at early Joker is going to go down well. That said, ‘Mahogany’ feels like an updated version – thunderous bass pulses and swirling Purple-y synths zap in and out amidst floods of melody and layers of texture, all undercut by intermittent female vocal quips. Banger.
With his Huerco S moniker dealing in ersatz world building and deconstructed esoterica, Brian Leeds seems to have kept one eye on the dancefloor via his Royal Crown of Sweden guise. Debuting a couple of years back to jump start Anthony Naples’ Proibito imprint, last month saw his ‘R.E.G.A.L.I.E.R’ EP reissued with the addition of two new tracks. The pick of the pair, ‘Soft Things’, is a sure bet to cause more than a few 5AM epiphanies, although Leeds – as is his wont, eschews any kind of quick path to nirvana in favour of the scenic route. Its ten minutes begin with an ebb and flow of iridescent Dub chords, lightly nudging bass and lazily washing pads as we’re lulled into gorgeous rolling groove that recalls STL at his finest. Sufficiently entranced, the arrival of wispy chords at around six minutes makes for as startlingly uplifting a piano moment as this writer has heard since Theo’s masterful ‘Overyohead’.
Kieron Ifil’s last release – the ‘Insecurities’ EP for Kyle Hall’s Wild Oats, was a watershed moment for the producer. In spite of the success he enjoyed with that rather uncharacteristically House-y release, for his latest salvo he’s taken the admirable step of returning to the style with which he made his name. Landing as the debut release on Wild Oats’ new sub label No More Air, the three track ‘Mist’ EP is a collection of low slung RnB inflected beats that recalls ‘Reset’ era FlyLo at his most melodious. Nowhere is this comparison more apparent than on the title track, in which Ifil flips the vocal to Amerie’s ‘That’s What You Are’ swapping sass for sensuality, before settling into a gentle bop of jazzy inflections and softly rising strings.
Absolute fiyah from the Rush Hour team as they join the dots between the former Dutch colony of Surinam and their own continually inspired, Amsterdam-based label. Sumy’s 1983 long player has “lost classic” written all over it, as Boogie, Disco, Soul, squelching synth-jams and strutting love anthems vie for your attention, with tracks like ‘Sumy Funk Force’ and the ballad ‘Bitch, We Danced A Lot’ filtering through the speakers in all their warm, analogue beauty.
Continuing the Disco vibe, Glasgow’s finest call upon heard-and-not-seen Berlin producer DJ Paypal for six cuts of hi-NRG Booty Bass madness. Re-editing and re-tooling a bunch of obscure Disco tracks has been done time and again (you only have to look to Traxman’s Soundcloud page for a masterclass in how), but not in quite an unabashedly enjoyable and brazenly fun way as this. Monotone bass stabs, 160bpm+ percussion and roughly hewn vocal samples make for something that sounds like the lovechild of DJ Funk and Sylvester.