Over the past six months-plus, Atlanta producer Cirqa has filled out Soundcloud with utilitarian drum tracks utilizing the barebones structure of ballroom, Jersey club, techno and Miami bass to great effect. This week, he released his connection with fellow ATLien Divoli S’vere, collecting vocals from the latter for the steamy, heavily digitized “Feeling Like”, easily the most fully realized Cirqa effort to date. Dealing mainly in the hi-res, hi-end of the sonic spectrum, “Feeling Like” is full of naked 808 sounds, bright synth stabs and Divoli’s indisputable reign on the mic, drawing the carnal nature of Southern dance music into a ballroom aesthetic; a marriage that develops smoothly under Cirqa’s supervision.
In 1968, Romanian composer György Ligeti produced “Continuum”, a harpsichord piece that, to this day, frays human sound perception. By most estimates, humans can only “digest”, or separate, 18 individual sounds at a time so Ligeti played the harpsichord at as close to that rate as he possibly could. “Continuum” is unhinged, a direct exploration of how the brain perceives perfection and how it can so often be wrong, exemplified in Ligeti’s polyrhythmic harpsichord performance. Ligeti’s fascination with polyrhythms was inspired, first by the piano music of piano music of Chopin and Schumann, but also by polyrhythmic and polyphonic dance music from Africa, specifically the Banda-Linda tribe from the Central African Republic. Taking influence from the latter’s dance forms, Ligeti’s work has formed an intriguing rubric from which to study contemporary electronic music, a rubric that places the producer in the role of perception orienter (or de-orienter). With much of modern dance music involving rhythmic elements from West Africa via the Caribbean (and vice versa), either directly or indirectly, the role of polyrhythms, broken beats and non-quantized percussion is readily apparent, but only a select few producers consciously meditate on the relationship between sound production and listener.
Recent efforts in this vein have been plentiful, from M.E.S.H.‘s dynamic “Scythians” to the percussive backflips of DJ Nigga Fox‘s O Meu Estilo EP. And many more have pressed on how conventional genre structure’s are perceived, from netting breakbeats into the fabric of four-on-the-floor techno or the ever-disintegrating percussion of Rabit‘s “Pandemic Transmissions”. For his part, Ziro has been consciously challenging perception in dance music and the inherent assumption of perfection within the form. Preferring un-quantized percussion and unconventional, often tonal drum work, the Bristol-based producer’s work nominally transitions between techno, funky, grime and dubstep, but it’s his consistent usage of the uncanny that begets experimentation. 2012’s “Coded” (out now on Crazylegs) is a club-ready techno roller in the vein of much of the dark, warehouse-focused material being released at the time, but its characteristic squelches and crashes, often slightly dissonant from the main groove, are what make its premise so curious.
Similarly, Ziro’s latest single, the Trim assisted “Lost”, falls into the grime category, but like Gage‘s “Telo” (also released on Crazylegs), creates dissonant spaces where an MC-led track might have once fallen into line. The “Club Mix” is full of the buckshot snares and roiling low end characteristic of contemporary grime, but also involves piercing rubber ball bass hits, organized in triplets, rim shots that lead into snare rolls and, at times, a suffocating blend of disparate percussion. The song, as its title states, is intended for the club and that disposition allows it to challenge the notion of what a “club” track should sound like. And while Ziro might not be challenging aural perception quite like the seminal Ligeti, his work and general consciousness is affecting a different audience.
Ziro’s mix work also exhibits his apposite approach to rhythm, drawing from the dreary acrobatics of Vince Staples, Arca‘s odd ball theatrics and Alex Coulton‘s pulse-heavy techno in his Astral Plane mix. Like “Lost”, much of the mix draws from grime, but as much as it highlights the likes of Visionist, ISLAND and Biome, it more often utilizes them as a foil for the next rhythmic exhortation. Most listeners of the following mix won’t be moved to investigate the intricacies of polyrhythms, but if it pushes an individual to reconsider how their mind’s intake differs from its perception, then Ziro will have done his job.
In celebration of this weekend’s Notting Hill Carnival, Mr. One Hundred has released a five song, free to download ep through his home at Mixpak. Hi Tech Soca might be the only appropriate descriptor for Mr. One Hundred’s particular brand of music. Raving through the American midwest as an adolescent, Mr. One Hundred tapped into Detroit and Chicago’s techno and house histories before moving to London and bearing witness to the sort of soca that can only be created in a club context halfway across the world from its home in the Caribbean (hip hop, grime, acid squelches, etc.). Allowing himself to brine in the high energy riddims, Mr. One Hundred began turning out his own productions with emphasis on techno in synthesis with soca’s rolling drum patterns. The Hi Tech Soca EP comes as a successor to the artist’s premiere EP Palm Tree Destruction and follows in its championing of the future flavor. Listen below to five edits and originals. Particular emphasis goes to the devastatingly dance worthy Mr. One Hundred bootleg of “Fire Now” by Benji Garlin and the soca transformation of Darude in “Sandstorm Riddim”.
In 2014, grime crews still nominally exist, but they don’t run the proverbial street with the fervor that Roll Deep, Boy Better Know and Ruff Sqwad did in ’04. I for one was not reticent of grime as an 11 year old American boy, but recent attempts at crew revival have got me calling for a renaissance, as well as feeling a fair deal of false nostalgia. East London crew The Square, a seven member producer/MC amalgam, is looking to jumpstart that revival and Novelist and Lolingo, both of whom are members, have anything to say about it, this prodigious collection might just succeed. Besides Nov and Lol, The Square includes DeeJillz, Elf Kid, Syder, Faultsz and Streema. “Pengaleng” is the crew’s first output and the first single from their upcoming The Formula mixtape, due August 25 via Nohatsnohoods.
After flexing his abundant mic skills on Mumdance‘s “Take Time” earlier this year, Lewisham badman Novelist took to the boards and let loose the all-instrumental Sniper EP on Oil Gang. While not reaching the inventive heights of “Take Time”, Sniper is a meticulously composed effort that represents Nov’s keen understanding of grime’s beginnings; if not some of its more experimental proclivities. As a key member of the Oil Gang-sphere, JT The Goon has been one of the label’s shining stars and his timeless black key productions continue to shine in a rather timeless manner. JT is one of the few producers who can keep the GrimeForum heads at bay while drawing plaudits from the Fact Singles Club. Taking on Sniper‘s title track, JT into a child keyboard melody, sawtooth low end, gun cocks, shots and thrillingly cinematic squarewave twists and turns. At just under three minutes, the remix is something of a flash in the pan, a song that represents the ever-growing temptation of the Boxed crew to make music for someone/anyone that doesn’t regularly play out at Birthdays.
Since the advent of the Internet, it has become increasingly difficult to step back, register one’s surroundings and comprehend the flow of history. This is true for nearly every cultural sector, but especially for contemporary dance music, a culture desperate to establish, defend and reinforce its position in the global canon. Every think piece about commercialism, capitalism, drugs, or artistic legitimacy is born out of that fundamental disposition, a disposition born out of both real and perceived marginalization. Timeline, lineage, and those infernal genre maps (the footwork one excluded) are the physical manifestations of this yearning for history, but temporal language is inherently built into the fabric of dance music. Terms like future, post, retro and the abominable “nu” run rampant on Beatport, Juno and Boomkat and have become some of the most common, and most maligned, signifiers in the dance music lexicon. The search for the “next” best thing/trend/genre/producer is often steeped in the language of sports recruiting, pointing to an artist’s potential and whether it will/can be realized. The fact that modern dance music has only been a semi-coherent industry for three odd decades now makes comprehension all the more difficult and the proclivity to assign false historicity all the more common.
Miss Modular, co-head of Her Records, is at the vanguard of a brash, young coalition of UK producers pushing the boundaries of club music. Along with compatriots Sudanim, CYPHR and Neana (to name a few), MM is often pointed to as a member of the Night Slugs generation (the line has, and will be, trotted out again and again), but as much as they are following the early steps of Bok Bok, Jam City and Girl Unit, they are flouting their forebears and writing an original blueprint. At the beginning of their excellent interview with Tom Lea for FACT, MM, Suda, CYPHR and Fraxinus point to the “obvious genealogy” from Night Slugs to Her, but then flip the script and lambast a general willingness to follow the former label’s Club Constructions series. While their literal “fuck you” to the British dance music establishment is slightly impulsive, it also acts a figurative breakpoint between Her and everything that came before it (and might come after it).
When Miss Modular’s Reflector Pack/Cruzer Edge single was released last December, Her was still a relatively unknown entity. Two compilations and several hit-or-miss EPs dotted the label’s Bandcamp, but the now ubiquitous “Reflector Pack” started off a string of wildly inventive releases that continued with Sudanim’s The Link EP, CYPHR’s Brace/Gloss Finish and, most recently, Her Records Volume 3. With only a semblance of traditional label framework, MM, Suda and CYPHR developed a sonic environment all their own, drawing bits and pieces from Jersey club, dancehall and hyper-crisp Atlanta/Los Angeles rap production. Those aren’t the label’s only tangible influences of course, but the fact that all three are definitively modern sounds is an important factor in the development of Her.
For his part, MM is the most indebted of the Her crew to the sounds of Jersey and his contribution to our mix series highlights that relationship. Overtures into dancehall and grime jumpstart the mix, but stomp box kick drums and stark vocal cuts are the bread and butter of this 40 minute composition. It’s difficult to perceive a physical environment outside of the club for MM and Her, but I imagine a hi-tech trans-continental expressway that features stops in Newark, London, Lisbon and Kingston. Lanes are demarcated by a crisp, effervescent linearity, but due to the geographical impossibility of the expressway, also feature a number of interstitial “portals”. There has to be some explanation for how these South London polyglots developed their sound after all. If you’re in London, catch MM along with Pinch, Preditah, Riko Dan and more this Friday. Check below the jump for MM’s idiosyncratic track list.
15 days ago with the concurrent creations of a Twitter account, a Soundcloud account, and a Tumblr page, Frosty took its first minute steps into the world of Social Media to announce itself as a brand-brand-brand-new mix series. Started by Hana Risk of PC Music fame (yea yea PC Music Cute! Fun! Pop Mirror!!) Frosty is run out of London and comes with a lot of new original music and without a clear mission statement. The basic structure so far is a ~ 20 minute mix with like five Wiley accapellas (not the only emcee but a strong favorite) thrown over a mix of bootlegs, original productions, and vips curated by some of the more interesting artists/labels out there.
The first edition was brought by Parisian traxman Le Dom and a quick second came from Sega Bodega (recently given a piggy-back by Ryan Hemsworth’s Secret Songs label). Yesterday, Manicure Records was invited to let its members have a spin with the preface, “all ur fave grime acapellas over all ur fave non-grime beats!” Each mix is free to download off Frosty’s Soundcloud and feature full tracklists.
These are Hot! Hot! Hot!
Listen to Frosty Mix 3 below.
After the massive critical success of M.E.S.H.’s Scythians EP and Lotic‘s “Damsel In Distress” mix, Berlin’s Janus club night has been elevated to an exciting new theoretical stature. Alongside nights GHE20 GOTH1K, Janus has a purpose, a stated intention to differentiate itself from the ever-growing mass of club nights the world over. This attitude is made ever-clear in interviews with co-founders Dan Denorch and Michael Ladner, but also in the disparate sonic stylings of night’s aforementioned residents. Scythians is the best illustration of the deconstructive school of club music and Lotic’s recent signing to Fade to Mind points to a future rife with opportunity fo the Texas-born producer. “Headlock” is the latest track to appear from the latter, a seeming one-off with a distinct gunmetal sheen. For classification purposes “Headlock” follows something along the lines of a dembow rhythmic structure, while twinkling synth rotations and distant Rihanna sample lull and build anticipation in equal measure. No word yet on an official release for “Headlock” or any more news on the F2M front, but it’s easy to see that the presentation of the unknown is to Lotic’s liking.
European footwork producers generally either comprehend the fine details of the genre and its culture, or they completely miss the point entirely. The hip hop and ghetto house influence isn’t always easy to grasp, and the off-kilter nature of the footwork sound cannot be replaced with simple drum programming, breakbeats, or a sped-up Lex Luger kit. For every Feloneezy and Jackie Dagger, the Continent generally conjures up ten painful misappropriations of the venerable Chicago sound. Amsterdam-based duo Know V.A. (Marijn Brussaard and Feico De Muinck Keizer) don’t exactly peddle explicit footwork, but their productions generally do reside roughly around 150-160 beats-per-minute and retain the cross-eyed fervor of the genre. Last year’s O Horizon EP, out now on Lowriders Recordings, featured manic rhythms combined with the bountiful precision of dubstep and an overarching hip hop aesthetic. DJ Earl & DJ Taye, as well as Rabit, contributed remixes to O Horizon and the duo has since opened for Evian Christ and Mssingno, and collaborated with recent RBMA inductee Torus, placing them at the forefront of Amsterdam’s growing cadre of non-traditionalists. It’s no surprise that Marijn and Feico point to Los Angeles’ beat scene as a key influence and like many of their global contemporaries, their output seem to rapidly unspool the more you rinse it. In the months since the release of O Horizon, Know V.A. haven’t released another official project, preferring to work on their live set, watch the EP percolate and spend time in the studio. “Prisma” is the result of that studio time, a sly, aggressively circular heater with more than a few footwork and jungle signifiers dug into its fabric. It’s clear that Know V.A. have a keen understanding of the past history and contemporary historicity of the music they peddle and songs like “Prisma” represent the care with which they approach dance culture.
With an imagined island as conceptual backbone and plenty of field recordings and rain sticks in tow, Italian multi-instrumentalist Clap! Clap! (née Cristiano Crisci) is preparing his full-length debut, the Tayi Bebba LP, for a September 8 review on Black Acre. Last month, we heard “The Rainstick Fable”, a fascinating footwork re-interpretation featuring clanging organic production and beatific, children’s choir singing. It goes without saying that Clap! Clap! is a different breed of Western producer reinterpreting “global” sounds and his songs rarely involve the cringe-worthy, bloviating signifiers that cloister “world music” into the disreputable “genre” it is viewed as today. “Kuj Yato” is the second taste from Tayi Bebba and features a hi-res interpretation of trans-Atlantic percussion, comfortably resting in a contemporary hip hop framework.”Kuj Yato” rolls, dives and slams like the best of Iamsu! and might just be one of the more fun-loving club songs to emerge all summer. Crisci’s combination of beyond-impressive production quality, left-field instrumentalism and comprehension of the basics of club music sub-culture point towards Tayi Bebba being a wildly enticing listen.