SEVEN SERIES TRIPLETS
As the pop biz winds down for a Festivus For The Rest Of Us, a sneaky chance to dig out things forgot in the past month. Nice grainy RZA-style production from Harry Fraud hingeing on a strange Japanese lute-loop that breaks over the Axelrod-style soundscape at all the right moments: Rae's verse is stunning, Bronsolini kills it as usual and you realise your life is kinda bereft without picking up a copy of the 'Saab Stories' EP this comes from. AB shows no sign of letting up. Hold on tight.
So utterly fucking boring and dismal it even made my squalid existence seem a pulsating thrillfest in comparison. I'm so very sick of bands who think that lyrics don't have to mean anything (or rather, feel that for lyrics to mean something they must be as un-noticeable as possible), that the words songs have can just reflect 'emptiness', musically sound like cack indie-dance from the 90s, and somehow that such a grisly combination will be profound & moving & suggestive & poignant & 'brave'. Lazy, sickeningly self-regarding, downright cowardly pop music. 'Can we just scream and shout/til we work it out'? What a totally fucking pitiful response to life that is, what a shameful anthem for a generation of skinny speccy shitwits 'Afterlife' is, that whole 'well life's a bit confusing isn't it, I'm young and a bit shit but don't worry, I'll manage (something or other), I'll get through to (something else I haven't actually fucking thought about with any depth or insight or energy whatsoever BECAUSE I HAVEN'T HAD TO), yeah I know I party and bullshit but actually I'm shy and sensitive and THINK about things and read my tumblr won't you' self-help-spiel shit a whole generation is growing up thinking will do. Music as soundtrack to a life that longs to be in a constant Apple advert. Stop feeling so fucking sorry for yourself you bearded wankers - Brian Eno didn't evaporate into the ether for this shit. In summation, Arcade Fire, (Amer.) adj: "To be not at all good at any of the things".
Caught my wife singing heartily along with 'You're Nobody Til Somebody Loves You' the other day. This is not a problem, even though I find that song perhaps the most repellent musical and oral production of 2013. If I catch her singing the even more ghastly 'Recovery' though, I'll hold her hand on the way to the walk-in centre and then throw fruit at the windows of the padded-lorry as she leaves my life forever. The absolute worse thing about this bellowing beefcake is how he spends all his time (when he's not being a serious musician who can hold his own playing live and not being about the ego) talking about how he's a 'serious' musician who can 'hold his own' playing live and how he's 'not about the ego'. Oddly though, the production of J-Art's records and the promotion of them is totally based upon a complete lack of self-deprecation and an earnestly tatooed conviction about being dark and serious and passionate that can only come from having an ego the size of Bahrain. His horrible phlegmatic bolus of a voice is held up & foregrounded as paramount and titanic in all his records even with Little Mix faves TMS behind the desk (and man do they TRY and make it interesting, pinwheeling through every available preset) & the thudding macho passion is so remorselessly, unyieldingly shoved in the listeners face it's like he's lapdancing for you while remaining fully togged up in his most tight-fitting Jacomo duds. Leave me and my family alone you sick bastard.
Well, yeah, I would, and Bieber has taught me something valuable about fame, something I learned from the deep insights that sang deeply from the depths of ITV's exclusive Saturday night special 'This Is Justin Bieber'. All wannabe stars like us have those inklings that celebrity is a strange and bitter fruit, if only to console ourselves in our ongoing obscurity & demise, but the sight of the pint-sized pin-up dreamboat, pursued, harried, never being able to rest, having to have a guided tour around the Stamford Bridge dressing room and chatting with Frank Lampard, man . . . . it tugged at my heartstrings. Fame really is hell. He went and pressed play on the changing-room stereo and his song came out. Imagine knowing your music accompanies John Terry's jockstrap finaigling. The poor kid. The poor, poor, monstrously arrogant & obscenely wealthy kid.
"That’s right I think she foreign
Think she foreign, got passports"
'Confident' is perhaps his best thing since 'Boyfriend', an immaculately realised (seriously, the production is gorgeous and almost worthy of JT) but unfortunately rather dull pop-hop slow-jam , rendered unsettling by the sheer oddity of finding yourself hearing this glassy-eyed Hitlerjugend gasp about how "She said it’s her first time/ I think she might have lied/Feels so good, damn". Bieber has a good, not great, voice for r'n'b and I get it, he's passed the age of consent, he can get freaky with gusto and the law on his side now - it's just 'Confident' is a strangely sexless, faintly disturbing experience cos being kid-friendly is our only experience of Bieber thus far. 'Confident' points to where Bieber can go to escape that straight-jacket, lyrically and musically this is as big a step up & away for him as 'Slave To U' was for Britney (except nowhere near as good): I fear though that until he mans up and actually gets at least two fans preggers/hits the addiction'n'rehab'n'relapse circuit hard this is all uncomfortably like being forced to watch Elmo pleasuring himself, leering at you, his mouth slowly yawning open like a waking lizard. Shudder. Give him a few years and we'll all be swearing down we loved him all along.
BK BRASCO FT. TIMBALAND & PUSHA T
Of course it's Timba's production that might get you seeking this. No barriers being broken but he still knows how to make something weird enough to keep you hooked — here it's the snare rolls that seem to pop off throughout, almost breaking up the beat into arrhythmic madness, that keep you coming back for more. '18th Floor: Thompson Hotel Edition' is the BB album ready to drop and if Timba's on this kind of form throughout you KNOW you're gonna have to hear it.
Here cos of 'It's Disgusting', the centrepiece to this bristling 5 track EP of fucked up dubstep & d'n'b from Cabin Fever - perfect for anyone between the ages of 15 and 55 who feels at war with their community. Jack this loud through deliberately high-leakage headphones on your morning commute, commandeer the stereo at your nearest Saturday night house-party and threaten to bang out anyone who dares to touch that dial. Play loud and watch your enemies grow in number. Superb.
Got to admit I sideswerved 'Born Sinner' - heard too much cameo mediocrity from Cole in recent years after the initial massive promise of 'The Warm Up' & 'The Come Up'. 'She Knows' has a beat that's initially a wonderful pulse to find yourself on but suffers from being a little too politely placed in the mix and not getting bent out of shape enough. The arrangement suggest that given more time and the inclination Cole could transform himself into something of a Prince-like wunderkid but instead he seems content with coasting and doing as little work as possible. Christ it's like writing my old school reports.
DEADLINE & PETE CANNON
(Tactical Thinking Entertaiment)
Delighted to see the return of the Tactical Thinking crew to the fray: their 'Too Broke To Go Solo' LP was one of the great lost UK rap classics of the past five years (see also Sir Smurf Lil) and if this is any indication of what we can expect from the soon-come 'Your Mum's Favourite Rapper' LP I've got my lobster bib and drool cup in place already. Stupendously aggravational rhyming from Deadline, and production from PC that sounds like the slo-mo section from a particularly brutal d&b track denied the ability to speed up, kept as this hard-as-fuck heartbeat-paced slam. Superb.
LOVE THIS TOWN
(Dirtee Skank Records)
Christ. Don't watch the video unless you actually like those 'Keep Calm And . . . ' posters. Dizzee goes yet further out of his way (as if those Robbie/Will.I.am toss-offs weren't bad enough) to antagonize and alienate those of us who love him with this horribly objectionable paean to whatever town you live in with your 79ps just give him your 79ps please you tasteless undiscerning fucks give him your 79ps he loves your town and you. He can still rhyme on point when prodded, but the backing to this - the kind of revoltingly by-rote club-friendly acoustic/autotuned euphoria that makes modern life so maximally unbearable - is just awful, the chorus so vile an enforced Eurodance singalong slop of objectionable ear-slurry it's difficult to even register his flow amid the shitnami. Rap music for Boris Johnson. Think about those early singles again. Think about 'Fix Up', 'I Love U'. 'Jus A Rascal'. Earthquakes in your day. Ten years ago now. I hate it when artists 'progress'. Wish they'd just focus on 'staying good'.
DRAKE FT. SAMPHA
Get it for Sampha, not Drake. Drake's lines are ok but seem unsuited to the groove, like a freestyle off-cut that's been retrieved and then crowbarred into this song without much thought. The key to the track is Sampha's beautiful vocals on the hook, a really gorgeous voice, part Nina, part Donny Hathaway, and the way he's trapped in the cut, flows over the verses under Drake's verbals, returning and dominating the track every time he gets a chance. Could've listened to ten minutes of just the chorus and the verses WITHOUT Drake tbh. And near the tracks end Sampha is set free, throws down a jazzy verse that's pure Joni, pure A.R.Kane. A great single whenever Sampha's singing, a mixtape track when he's not.
SINGLE OF THE MONTH
The fact that Elzhi has to use Kickstarter to get his next album off the ground is either a blazing indictment of contemporary hip-hop A&R or proof that even hip-hop's most creative talents are having to find new ways to bring their music to the people. Either way, these two tracks that Elzhi's put out there to build his Kickstarter campaign seem to have done the trick and for good reason — they're as musically tight and lyrically engaging as all his best work. Go pledge and feel part of what's surely going to be one of 2014's early masterpieces. Genius.
FOREVER (MORODER REMIX)
I bet you are you pink fucknuckle. Despite what musicians and their sycophants might have you believe, music is never just about the music. When Cameron met Haim people pointing out that this is what happens when posh airheads completely colonise indie pop were batted away with the usual whining from their equally posh equally airheaded defenders in the press - 'no, it's just what happens on the Andrew Marr show', 'no they're just young and not political' or even more pitifully 'but they're American'. Azalia Banks got the same soft-treatment when she showed twitter-love for SamCam - defended to the hilt by reactionary apprentice Daily Mail columnists endlessly self-piteously bleating about their ignorance and how there's nothing they can do about it. Dunno bout you but when I was 15 I knew (cos, y'know, I was a live sentient being) which side of my buttered bread Thatch AND Reagan were shitting on - this idea that people can get to their MID-20s and still NOT KNOW that they're pallying up to someone evil, someone committed to destroying the lives of a whole social class is simply dumb avoidance and stupidity proudly celebrated, an ignorance that has never had to question or change itself. Then again, we're often talking about the kind of people who write shit like THIS and then 'don't understand' why they get picked up on it. Oops, giggle, hey, was I racist there? Hey, can't we all just relax and celebrate what's great?
No. Fuck Haim forever for this, and fuck this tedious rerub from Mr. Moroder as well. They could get sliced & diced by Premo into a 20 minute megamix with Diana Ross on backing-vocals and I'd still hate them. Don't you get it you simpering chortling fucks? Shit like what's in this photo is UNFORGIVABLE. This man is planning me and my families and my friends DESTRUCTION and you're lining up with that cunt and then expecting me to give you a 'fair hearing'? Shes that toucheth pitch shall be defiled. Shame on all of you.
LIFE WE CHOSE (MOBB DEEP REMIX)
Havoc of Mobb Deep links back up with his partner Prodigy for the remix to Hav's 'Life We Chose' — you might've heard the original feat Lloyd Banks. This rerub is more 'Hell On Earth' than 'Infamous' but still exerts an icy hold on your consciousness for its duration. Pick it up.
(Co Lab Recordings)
I love it when a bass is so low, dirty and wah-wah'd up it's like it's talking to you, like Barry White got busy with ED-209 and had a big-assed baby. Console noises, church bells, robo-guys and phonesex girls, a beat that always seems like it's going to derail itself into arrthymia but that just keeps clenching at your chest until you need defibrulation. Through all of this - massively enjoyable.
SINGLE OF THE MONTH
ILL MOVE SPORADIC & OMAR TEKNOLOGY
SOUND OF PAIN
Whooah — South London production duo Ill Move Sporadic are all set to release their debut LP, 'Drug Corpse' and this is the first thing I've heard from it. Fantastic spacey Arabic drone funk, guitars and bass unfolding and augmenting themselves in Led Zep-like 'Kashmir'-isms. Superbly startling muezzin-like tannoy hollering leads us through to the final fade. Absolutely fucking excellent and 'Drug Corpse' should be on your Xmas list NOW.
SUMMER KNIGHTS EP
'My Yout' with Maverick Sabre and 'My Jeep' are the bonus cuts on this EP (that aren't on the mixtape), that make this worth getting old skool retail style. Great beats, nice flows, not earthshaking but compelling throughout.
KINGS OF LEON
"Speaking to Zane Lowe, Followill said of the song: "I think if people don't appreciate 'Beautiful War', then they can't appreciate anything! Read more at http://www.nme.com". Oh fuck, that's me telt. A song so pleased with what it finds (a kind of innoffensive country-rock pulse the Hothouse Flowers would've been proud of) it just kind of stays there doing absolutely nothing of interest, staring you out with its monobrowed glassy godbothering eyes until you move away. Of course, that's just opinion, here's some appreciation - it certainly does last six minutes long and is in the 'pop/rock' style'. Instruments that feature include guitars, bass and drums. The guitars play both chords and single notes, or 'solos'. Intermittently, the singer open his mouth and words come out.Sometimes the singer sings loudly. Sometimes he sings less loudly. It is mainly in the key of A, with occassional movements to the chords of D and E. Can I go interview Haim now?
KOOL KEITH & BIG SCHE EASTWOOD FT. METROPOLIS
From KK's typically variable new 'Magnetic Pimp Force Field' set this is sinuous, sexy, singular brilliance from Keith, a groove that's slo-mo but mindblowing, like something Jaki Liebezeit would cook up between hits from the bong, the hook a big slab of atonal buzzing bass that becomes even more addictive than the great scratches and vocal cut-ups that fill in every remaining space. Great extra cameo from Met as well. As you'd expect from KK — unlike ANYONE else, totally engrossing.
LEE SCOTT & ILLINFORMED
From the 'Stupid Poignant Shit' set and showcasing Lee's inimitable lyrical & production smarts. "Tipping a toaster for a crumb/writing depressing poetry for fun", Scott & Ill drop depressive science over a timeless headnodding beat, great lines tumbling past like you've had a can of Special Brew and a spliff for breakfast. "Stop rapping and up your game in fucking off" — seriously gonna steal that for this column in a few months when no-one's looking. Magnificent miserablism on the mic but it's Ill's production that draws you back again and again to this, each element (bass, beats, very little else) gaining cumulative power precisely from what he DOESN'T do to them. Maximal minimalism at its finest.Superb.
Large Professor, Inspectah Deck, O.C., Tragedy Khadafi & DJ Revolution guest on this great posse cut from MP's forthcoming 'Port Authority Pt.2'. As you'd expect from everyone involved, totally fuckin' wicked.
SINGLE OF THE MONTH
It wouldn't be a F.U.N.K singles page without at least one belch from the sulphuric belly of the Renegade Hardware beast and Maztech excels himself with this raw, glistening with dirt, noisy metallic stomper. Get this and the new Silent Witness & Lockjaw 12s on Dispatch Recordings for fun times all winter. Manna from hell.
MED & BLU FT. DAM FUNK
(Bang Ya Head Entertainment)
A sidestep from Madlib on the mix here, an absolutely ungritty production, polished to an '80s digi-electro sheen, the chorus a mind-melting mix of Prince-style harmonics and rubbery, tactile Mantronix-style funk. Great rhymes from Medaphoar and Blu seal off a strangely compelling deal. Jack it end-to-end with the Juana Molina album and thank me later.
THE IMMATERIAL EP
DANCER IN THE DARK/BACK TO 33/FOUR TUN/SiMi
Marcus Intalex nailed the Metalheadz style t'other night in an aside on his amazing 2 hour shared mix with Artificial Intelligence for Rinse FM: 'retro in style, futuristic in production'. 'The Immaterial EP' is suffused with sounds from d'n'b's past but is put together in a way that's still startlingly new - highlight here is 'Killa Soundbwoy', short bursts of bass, an eerily rich warmth to a track that's murderously cold-hearted, dancefloor annihiliation the goal and purpose and result. SB81 is Wolverhampton soundfreak Nolidge finally getting the nod for his Metalheadz debut and is a dubby harsh monster throughout. Harshest thing this side of Original Sin's 'Superman EP' on Playaz. Get your headz into it.
SATELLITE OF LOVE (LIVE)
An inimitable stylist brings his unique self-regard to bear on one of Lou's sweetest songs and manages to infect it with his usual belligerence - there's a really telling bit where instead of 'I love to watch things on TV' he sings 'I can not stand the TV' (personally I don't trust anyone who doesn't love telly). He separates the words like that, deliberately fluffs the flow, it's a lumpy moment, doesn't quite scan right, crucially it starts to stick out, burden the song with a pettiness that doesn't suit it. Eventually it turns into 'I cannot stand George Alagiah' and you're left there with this mess all over your front thinking - for fucks sake, WHY would you think that would be a good idea to sing unless you were Richard Digance, Richard Digance on tour supporting rubber-faced comedy-free zone Phil Cool? And also, what the fuck are WE meant to think about his loathing of Alagiah (I've always liked George myself, face like a nice friendly lion)? Amused? Confused? I guess it doesn't matter, "Weird Al" Morrisey got it out of his system but my god, it does perform an effective distraction to the way he can't quite cope with the melodies in the chorus. Floundering like Alan Bennett forced to croon a version of Bewlay Brothers - this rather sloppy cover seems an odd way to pay tribute to Lou, who even in his darkest moments, never smirked when talking about love. For fans only? No, for tragic obsessive completists only. The big old twat.
(Coalmine Records/Fat Beats)
Marco Polo is on fire this year and his production of this is an unsettling doozie — what sounds partly like Bollywood, partly like an offcut from 'The Sound of Music' gets sliced and diced and laced over a fat funky thumping beat, OD holding on by his fingernails and aware that ANYTHING he says over such a killer beat/loop combo will sound cool. Open up sets, tapes, parties with this and announce yourself. Bristling, brilliant stuff.
(Fueled By Ramen)
Ugh, yak, do you know what's fucking up rock music in a big big way at the moment? Drummers. Terrible drummers. Drummers that can do impressive, can do the macho thing, can LOOK like they're rocking out, let their hair fly, throw their arms into all the right 'classic rock' shapes, but have not an ounce of feel or humanity to anything they do. It's not even about replicating machines being the problem, it's that drummers seem to exist in a bubble, happy with the patina of 'rock' they visibly and audibly throw out around themselves and their kit, seemingly unaware or uncaring about whether they're in any way helping out the band they're in or the song they're singing. 'Daydreaming' is not a terrible song (think Eve's Plum b-side) but you can almost picture the cock behind the kit being so proud of his tumbles and rolls it damn near makes you sick, and derails any sense of flow or groove the song could've had. As bold and powerful and freespirited and rocking as a Primark ACDC t-shirt. I totally blame Dave Grohl for this bullshit.
DAYS OF EXTINCTION
(Seven Oddities Records)
We need MORE native-American hip-hop in our lives and Poz is a Chicago native intent on bringing his unique native-American perspective to some rich boombap soundscapes. 'Days of Extinction' is blessed with a great, bass-heavy production from DreamTek and some razor-sharp political rhymes from Poz and you should make it the first time you hear from this vital new voice. "Not being negative, just being honest". Goddamn right.
All the great 60s psyche-r'n'b midway-through-the-second-side album tracks you've ever heard mixed up with a shit-encrusted spoon into a truly gag-tickling brew, proffered to you by a pack of hippy cunts in a chipped unwashed bowl that only accentuates its off-grey gruellness, horrible chunky bits of sax floating about on the top, a skin of fat developing. No chorus, no joy, no point, just real music for real wankers. An insult to the concept of 'pop single'. Can we not all just turn our backs on them from here on in? Cheers.
WITH OPEN ARMS
(Mello Music Group)
Really like Quelle Chris, and when joined by MarvWon, FuzzScoota, HouseShoes and the inestimable production smarts of Oh No, the results are never less than fun, intriguing, smart. This is from his 'Ghost At the Finish Line' opus that I, and you, really must get round to hearing and is a frabjous funky mess of textures and thoughts delivered in true splat-of-consciousness style.
SINGLE OF THE MONTH
(High Focus Records)
From 2013's last hip-hop masterpiece, 'A Year In the Life of Oscar the Grouch' this is a beautifully balanced, gorgeously arranged, lyrically stunning look at street-level frustration and hopelessness that remains mercilessly accurate, massively uplifting (thanks to Charlie Mac's sublime warp'n'weft of '70s soul that's the undertow)and utterly compelling throughout. RB's been dropping some of the finest UK music for years now but this is a new high for him and the form. Absolutely essential.
RANSOM & STATIK SELEKTAH
First preview of the soon-come long-awaited opus 'The Proposal': 'Unexplainable' is seething with sound, chaos unfolding over the mix via tons of scratching and random peals of crowd noise breaking all the way from the bleachers to the centre of the soundscape. Ransom typically commanding on the mic and one of Statik's hardest-hitting beats. Not a million miles away from a Premo rerub of something off the Telemachus album, and that should do you a treat.
Fantastic racket — noisier and more deranged than their Anticon antecedents, shot through with a droney menace that's utterly unique. Check it.
SINGLE OF THE MONTH
SNIFF & MORRIARCHY FT. TRELLION
(Bad Taste Records)
Limited edition 7" of one of the highlights from perhaps the most underrated label on the planet right now and some of its most twistedly unique talent. Sniff swirls together a fantastically mordant cauldron of dread and doom over which Morriarchy and Trellion drop lines dripping with Sheffield steel and eerie menace. A sublime track including a rerub on the flip from man-of-the-moment Telemachus that elevates this into godlike territory. Essential as fuck.
TK's next album 'Gravitas' drops in late December and this is the first leak from it. 'The Wormhole' is produced by that man Oh No again and has some great elements (esp. the fuzzed up Coup-style guitar riffs) but somehow doesn't quite hang together in any way that's satisfying. I do like the way what starts as a rap about the Illuminati ends up with a far clearer political purpose, speaking of which: a memo to ALL rappers - rapping about the Illuminati might endear you to 15-year-old 4chan-addicted assholes but anyone with two or more braincells to rub together will immediately file this alongside 9-11 'truth' and other assorted dipshittery. Half-witted. Half great.
(The Fallbright Conservatory)
Featuring Gore Elohim (aka Goretex of Non Phixion), Mr.Complex and Ruste Juxx with Kutmasta Kurt on scratches. Beautifully dirty, Miles-style horns hanging over the groove and delayed into infinitude, the groove itself proudly scratchy and filthed-up. A hip-hop track that's somehow managed to still sound analogue, like it was recorded to tape in a pre-digi by Mass Appeal Beatz of the Boombapaddicts out of Boston. Nicely not nice.
SINGLE OF THE MONTH
Fab, violent, spaced-out, heavy on the lo-end drum and bass that emerges from some truly spooked backwardsed vocals to shred the head deliciously. As traumatically heavy as a prime Dillinja production and praise for me in d'n'b comes no higher. Seek it out and see you next year.