Last Japan‘s technical abilities, derived from a music-filled childhood and “computer music” school, are undeniable, but his production output has always left this listener particularly cold. His Circadian Rhythms show on NTS and general DJ work is consistently excellent, but his original work, even collaborations with Trim, have too often come off as safe and carefully mediated through a nostalgic sheen. That’s not to say that his sound design and focus on structural perfection aren’t impressive though. The basis for success has always been there, but the London-bred artist has rarely shown the inventiveness necessary for widespread critical adoration. That being said, his latest collaboration-filled mixtape, Ride With Us, is one of the more visceral, genre-bending efforts to come about all year. The tape, meant as a “musical journey through the dark fringes of London city,” spans pirate radio culture, merging frigid squarewave grime, delightfully swung 2 step and a refined conception of sub-bass into an emotional melange of desperation, anonymity and paranoia. An impressive list of collaborators is highlighted by Trim, Prince Rapid, Mr. Mitch and a surprise vocal performance from Emma DD on “Eclipse”, the song that functions as the proverbial sun-coming-up moment on the tape. The mixtape ends with the Cliques-assisted “Alpha Logic”, a roiling jungle update that utilizes elastic aluminum percussion to maximum effect and one of the more intoxicating breakbeat-led tracks to come out in recent memory. Summer in Los Angeles is about as far from the proper context to listen to Ride With Us, but it’s clear that Last Japan has zeroed in on a cobalt blue aesthetic, as well as a sedulous tribute to the London underground. Stream Ride With Us below and head to Bandcamp to download the full tape.
Continuing their reign as the most exciting supergroup/collaborative project around, Future Brown aka Nguzunguzu, Fatima Al Qadiri and J-Cush let loose an absolute steamer today. Featuring Prince Rapid and Dirty Danger of Ruff Sqwad and former Roll Deep member Roachee, “World’s Mine” finds a prime middle ground between classic era grime and the spacious, eski-derived sound many modern day producers have adopted. Future Brown are currently working on a debut LP, which will feature guest vocalists like Tink, Ian Isiah, Shawnna and Kelela and is sure to be a world beating effort.