I’m just through a first listen to Onra‘s latest album and as you probably expected, it’s a beauty. Like his 2010 album Long Distance, the new record takes you back to the sounds of the past, in my case that’s the time when I discovered my love for hip-hop of the late eighties and early nineties. Among the many collaborators are Black Milk, Olivier Day Soul, MC Melodee, Suzi Analogue. For a quick impression of what the record sounds, check out my favourite tracks 5, 6 and 8.
“Fundamentals” is out today and you can get your copy from All City, HHV, iTunes and all good record stores.
Five months into 2015 and I got my second contender for album of the year, following John T. Gast’s Excerpts on Planet Mu. Bill Kouligas’ PAN continues to be one of the most innovative labels in recent years and this debut album by Lifted is a prime example of their wonderful work. Lifted is an ongoing collaboration between Beautiful Swimmer’s Max D and Matt Papich aka Co La, and the record features guests such as Jordan GCZ (Juju & Jordash) and ambient producer Gigi Masin. The resulting music is as varied as its ingredients: jazz percussion, ambient synths, and the piano; “1” does not fit into genre definitions, it breaks them up and re-arranges them beautifully.
Over the years we featured several books celebrating the art of the record sleeve, including Jazz Covers and Jazz Covers 2. Art book publisher Taschen and editor Julius Wiedemann have teamed up once again to explore the age of rock music, starting with Little Richard, on to The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, and Sonic Youth. As with their previous books, each cover comes with a fact sheet listing art director, photographer or illustrator. The whole thing is rounded up by interviews and top-10 lists by record collectors.
The book is already available from the Taschen store, Amazon and hopefully from your local book shop.
Robbie Busch, Jonathan Kirby, Julius Wiedemann
Hardcover, 29,3 x 29,3 cm, 552 pages
It feels like since that Kirkis 7-inch came out on Eglo (and it was only a year ago!), but it was well worth the wait. This time, the Australian producer delivers a 4-track EP and it contains nothing but amazing tunes. I was about to highlight “Kirkis runs the Voodoo Town” and “Vovo”, but after a second listen I tell you to screw that — every single tune is worth buying. An EP to remember for those lists we all love to read at the end of every year!
How is this not available on vinyl, please tell me I’m wrong. Well, you can buy the digital release from the Eglo Bandcamp, Bleep and most digital stores.
Update According to Bandcamp page for the 7-inch, there will be an album of the same name and that will be available on vinyl as well. Keep your fingers crossed!
Four years have passed since these tracks were recorded at various Caribou live shows in Belgium and the UK, now Dan Snaith is selling them for a good cause. What makes this EP stand out is the line-up involved in the Caribou Vibration Ensemble: Four Tet and James Holden on synthesizers, Ahmed “Sinkane” Gallab on drums, a three piece brass section, flutist, and Dan Snaith himself on vocals, synth and electric guitar.
Happy New Year! The old optimist I am, I waited until the very last day to pick my favourites of 2014. Like in the previous year, I mostly listened to new music through Spotify, since it allows me to listen to pretty much everything once it comes out. However, unlike 2013 I found it more difficult to single out the favourite of the year, so I decided not to rank the following selection.
Let’s start with some of the more soulful music of the year:
Taylor McFerrin – Early Riser
When Taylor’s debut album came out on Brainfeeder last June, I was pretty convinced the decision for record of the year has been made. Great production, not a single bad track, soulful music made a big comeback into my life.
…and then the Flying Lotus record came out and changed everything. I’m not saying it’s better or worse, but I wasn’t so sure anymore about my first pick. Predictable choice? I don’t even think so, but it’s an amazing record start to finish! I’m going as far to say that it’s up there with Cosmogramma!
I didn’t see King Britt’s LP anybody else’s list for 2014, but I think this is a record that deserves more spotlight. Try it out for yourself and listen to all of the records mentioned so far in a row, they go really well together. Seamless.
I said it before and I’ll say it again. If you missed new music from Tim Hecker this year, there’s probably no better surrogate than “Wilderness of Mirrors” by Lawrence English. And while this might read like a second choice, it’s definitely not!
There’s no doubt about my favourite compilation of the year, Hyperdub’s vision of RnB from the future won my all over. Killer tracks from Terror Danjah, Morgan Zarate, Jessy Lanza, Ikonika & Dam Funk, Scratcha DVA and more!
As the year comes to an end, there are plenty of albums worth considering the best of the year. Here’s one that snuck onto my list in the (almost) last minute. I first came across Hashman Deejay‘s music through one of the best Hessle Audio shows of the year: the Pender Street Steppers special aired last summer. That’s really when I first got aware of Vancouver’s Mood Hut label and its associates, one of them being Hashman. Among the tracks played on the show that stuck with me in particular was “184”, and as life sometimes goes, I only re-discovered it by pure chance when going through this week’s Bleep newsletter. And this is where I came full circle, as the track is taken from Hashman Deejay’s new album “Sandopolis”, which is out now on Max D’s Future Times label.
Life of a music blogger is nothing what you would imagine it. Unlike someone, let’s say, who writes about fashion, we don’t receive fancy dresses every other week. We get ugly emails advertising music we would never write about. Well, most of the time. To be honest, the moment when I started receiving promo emails was the moment when the fun in writing about music started fading away. Oh, the joy of discovery. It’s been a long time since music was only available on physical formats, and while it’s not all bad, I often feel that music lost some value in the process.
Anyway, it was only a couple of days ago that I received a package from the postman, my second in more than six years of blogging! Turns out it’s the new K15 2xEP that came out in late October on Kyle Hall’s Wild Oat imprint. I first met K15, or Kieron, in summer 2006 through a common friend, followed his music all over the years, eventually talked him into doing a podcast, and was mad proud when he was remixed by our musical hero Kaidi Tatham earlier this year. Next stop: Detroit!
I’m still listening to the second disc, but the first convinced me enough to write about it. Listening to the track above, techno producer Fabrice Lig was reminded of Titonton Duvanté, athe common friend of K15 and mine compared it to Mr Fingers. Well, both it’s true: the first record ventures into the past, references classic house music from the eighties, with one track sampling the early nineties anthem Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless); the second record is a deeper, more sincere look at what house music has to offer. There are a couple of more samples on the Wild Oats online shop, if you need more convincing. It’s also the only place I found that still has copies available.
Not as obvious as some of the bigger titles this year, but I’m sure I’m not the only one who anticipated the release Lord RAJA‘s debut album on Ghostly International. Following his seminal releases on the Astro Nautico, it was only a question of time when some bigger label would sign the 22 year old producer from New York. With label mates such as Dabrye, Com Truise or Shigeto, the Ann Arbor-based label looks like the right choice. So, finally, the wait is over: “A Constant Moth” is available as of today! If you haven’t had the chance to listen to any of the upfront leaks, like the tune featuring Jeremiah Jae, you can stream the album in full in the SoundCloud widget above.
I have said it before and I will say it again: I do understand all the criticism about Spotify, Rdio and other streaming services, the payments models are far from ideal. Always having been the person to actually buy records, to me streaming services are a great way to try-before-buy. The new album released under Dave Huisman’s 2562 alias was released about a month ago and —like his other records— has not been available on Spotify ever since. I’m glad he decided to share the stream on his SoundCloud page, otherwise it might have slipped off my radar altogether.
“The New Today” is available limited edition LP from all good record stores, including Clone, Rush Hour and Boomkat. For digital options, you can also buy the record from Bleep or iTunes.
Going through my early-week routine of listening to new music, I stumbled across Sad City and his EP just released on Phonica Special Editions. Known as Gary Caruth to his parents, the Glasgow-based producer utilized sounds recorded in the Portuguese capital Lisbon to put together six equally deep and warm sounding tracks, all sharing the same melancholic undertone. Hard to pick a favourite, but check out the tracks “Scyphozoa” and “Slow” for a start!
A limited edition vinyl release is available now from Phonica and Bleep, the latter also sells a digital release.
MATOM is the joint effort by Cagedbaby and Radio Slave‘s Matt Edwards. I discovered their album earlier this week and thought what bad luck it is have your record out the same week as You’re Dead, but in fact “Love Mistakes” was released in September already. There’s a lot to like about the record, most importantly it put me in the state of mind of the firsttwo Carl Craig albums or my all-time favourite compilation Soul in Motion, machine-made music with a soul. For me tracks like “Experiment One Variation Three”, “Hansa”, “Piano Two Variation Four” and the title track were enough to consider a purchase. My favourite record to come out on Planet E in a very long time!
You can buy your copy of “Love Mistakes” on BleepiTunes and all good record stores.
Flying Lotus told the story behind each track on his new album You’re Dead! on his Twitter feed:
“Theme” was really what led to following through w the concept (1). Originally called “Jodorowsky” (2). Kamasi and me really built this one (3).
“Tesla”. Was so much fun cuz it was when Herbie [Hancock] and me and Thunder started things up (4). This moment spawned the rest of it (5). This song was the spark of the album. Which is why I wanted it close to the front. Most of this album feels like it’s chronological (6). For the most part everything was recorded separately n my home. I’d work w musicians like samples (7).
“Cold Dead” started from a iPhone voice memo. I sang the ideas and Thunder helped me bring it to life (8). All those operatic voices n this are me singing thru some toys (9).
“Fkn Dead” was the hardest to make. Trying to find the balance of live drums and sampled drums (10). Me singing textures again on this. Brandon Coleman killed it (11). None of this album would be possible without Thundercat (12). He and I came up w the concept (13).
“Never Catch Me“. Kendrick came thru and recorded to this song at the crib. Came alone. With a hoodie over his head. Ready to work (14). He wrote it on the spot and laid it down (15). I sang this part to him and he recorded it. He killed it (16). The second half of this song was called “Ramen Wars” (17). One of the most fun days ever (18). All these layer vocal ideas at the middle and end were inspired by Queen (19).
“Dead Man’s Tetris”. This might be the oldest beat on the album (20). Hard for me to write to my own beats. This was the hardest (21). That’s Earl Sweatshirt saying shit n the background sometimes (22). Snoop’s part almost didn’t work so I had to rework the beat at his moment (23). He was really into the concept. He was like. “U know I made a song like this called murder was the case” ummm. Yea I heard of it (24). Joker cameo (25).
“Turkey Dog Coma” is the most complex arrangement I’ve ever made (26). Another one made with me and Thunder. I sat next to him and we sang all these moments part for part (27). Miguel wrote some strings. Brendan Small does this Brian May like riff around this part (28). There’s so many recordings in this song (29). There was a point where this was the last song on the album (30).
“Stirring” I made with a friend named Jeff Lynne he and I went to high school together and we reconnected and did this song (31). A friend of ours had passed away recently and it made me want to do something dedicated to him. Rip Nick Terry (32).
“Coronus, The Terminator” is special to me for so many reasons. First song I made in my new home. First song I really went for the singing (33). Niki Randa always makes me sound good tho (34). Mac Miller came thru when we were workin on this beat. He wanted it for himself. Almost considered that (35). I literally wrote this song off top. About the Terminator (36). It’s playfully serious (37). The ending part is so coo (38).
“Siren” song was originally intended for Pharrell. I imagine the pocket still (39). I love the way it worked out tho. Angel Arlene and Niki worked this one out really fast. I wrote the draft and it just blossomed (40). I have trouble opening up this session now. It’s corrupted. So. This is it (41). This part is Thunder’s fav part of the album (42).
“Turtles” was the one that almost didn’t make it on the album (43). Such a big Morricone. Sample. I thought it would be more trouble to keep it than it was worth. I’m glad I did because I really do like it (44). People keep telling me they love turtles makes me die laughing. (45). I almost had Laura Darlington sing on this but I think there’s charm in the simplicity of it (46).
“Ready Err Not” is my mischief song (47). There will be a video for it from one of my favorite animators of all time (48). There’s a version of this song with Chance the Rapper freestyling on it it was real dope too. I sometimes play it in my live show (49).
“Eyes Above” was made in a funny situation (50). I made this beat with FKA Twigs and Niki Randa in studio (51). Kendrick has a verse on this song that can’t come out I guess (52). “Eyes Above” without Kendrick still breaks my heart (53).
“Moment of Hesitation” was started with me and Kamasi. He’s a horn player but had him on the keys with Herbie too (54). Herbie just came thru and killed it (55). It was dope to introduce him to Dilla’s music/sample flips (56).
“Descent Into Madness” was Thundercat’s song I hijacked (57). He started it and I begged him to let me finish this song. I had visions instantly (58).
“The Boys Who Died in Their Sleep” Was gonna be on the Cap album (59). I tried to my best Dr Rockso impression (60). I never had a drug overdose by the way. Re: That Fader story (61). Vicodin is the new heroin (62). Austin. . . (63)
There’s a version of “Obligatory Cadence” with me singing about a dream I had once about a deity who took me into the clouds and showed me.. (64) a world without darkness (65). All my fam and friends were there. Watching me being taken into the sky. The deity shed it’s light on the earth. The light was almost silver (66). She told me that I’d never ever die (67).
“The Beyond” is dedicated to an unborn child (68). A light (69). Fantastic Planet [La planète sauvage] inspired this song. Musically (70).
“The Protest”. Is the most important statement of the record. It’s the spirits gathered. Remembering we never die (71) Our influence lives on forever. Our love lives on forever (72).
I knew that when I set out to make this record I’d lose some people with the concept but I didn’t do this shit to be crowd pleasing (73). What ever happens, I know I did what I set out to do (74). With minor heartbreaks (75). Truth be told going the ‘easy way’ is tempting sometimes but I was like fuck it I’m gonna make something only I can put together (76). A lil self indulgent? absolutely. Thats kinda the point. If you ask me. I had to tell my story! (77)
Following the teaser video in September this year, Liberation Technologies just released new music by London-based producer Lukid. I already expressed my love for the entire EP on Twitter, now you can find out for yourself. Crawlers is available now on 12-inch and digital download, or you can take a listen to the stream on Spotify.
I first heard the name of Moxie when she was Benji B’s invisible (or inaudible) sidekick on his show many years ago. That said, I don’t even know if she’s still on the job, since the heydays of the show are long over (for me anyway!) What I do know instead is her own regular show on NTS Live.
Today, she released a free compilation featuring music of some of her favourite artists, including the likes of Ikonika, Lokiboi, Kowton, SCNTST and more. Not one of terrible 50 track compilations, this feels more like some real selection has been done.