Madison, Wisconsin-based producer Chants first came to our attention through a series of pleasant, R&B-tinged pieces of beat work on Seattle-based Hush Hush Records, showing off a distinct skill for vocal manipulation and melody. More recently, his club workouts, including one each from the Heterotopia bonus tracks and remixes, have become some of our favorite tracks to play out and, while markedly different from his earlier material on Hush Hush, don’t seem totally out of place with songs like “Porch Song 1 AM”. On October 30, Chants will release the We Are All Underwater LP on Hush Hush, a full length statement featuring guest vocalists like Mereki and Boom Forest, but also a tape that sees the producer’s more dancefloor-focused inclinations meet the sort of soothing, bedroom-oriented work previously mentioned. It’s often difficult to reconcile music that is both made in a bedroom and made to sound like it’s made in a bedroom for music overtly made for the club, but Chants does an excellent job of, if not melding the two, making them easily beside each other. As the album goes, the Riley Lake-featuring “Halogen” falls into the former category, a delicate, reverb-soaked bit that sets a melancholic tone for the first half of the record. Of course, Chants’ affect can’t be reduced to melancholy as the album hits a hopeful tone by the second half, tracks like “Gossamer” and “Oxygen Loops” proving to be some of the LP’s best. Pre-order We Are All Under Water here.
After taking part extensively in our continuing Heterotopia project, Riley Lake will release his debut solo EP tomorrow, the architecturally-oriented Spaces. Last week, FACT debuted EP starter “Rizer”, a propulsive dance-starter full of cutting breakbeats and Lake’s own contorted vocal work. And today, we’ve got EP closer “Spliff Trak” on the docket, a nostalgia-inducing slow burner with a visual flair that seems to slowly dissolve and tear apart as the song progresses. Spaces closes out with two more essential tracks from the Milwaukee-based producer and will be out tomorrow through his own Bandcamp. Check out the video for “Spliff Trak” after the fold.
It’s only been a few days since we dropped Heterotopia Remixes Vol. 2, but it’s hard not to look on to the next and final volume in the series. That being said, it almost seems like we’re getting a rhythm down with these releases and it’s a pleasure to see a good deal of our readers coming back for each of our first three releases. You can check out the full release down below, as well as the tracks that hadn’t been premiered previously after the jump, or just head straight to our Bandcamp for the free download. Thanks to everyone involved, including our own team of Sam and Will. Can’t wait to announce Vol. 3!
Because you’ve been reading our words all year long, and, let’s be real, we can get a little monotonous, our year end coverage will consist of commentary from a number of friends and associates. The commentary will sometimes be delineated in a numerical, vertical manner and sometimes it will consist of blocks of text, audio files and moving images. Today we have our good friend and sometimes contributor Riley lake with us, bringing some cheap hardware finds that you Ableton-dowloading folk should get to know. We can’t all afford a LinnDrum after all… To top it off, Riley included a cheeky pack of hardware loops and clips from each piece of hardware listed below for your listening pleasure and even potential functional usage. Expect a debut solo release and big things throughout Mr. Lake throughout 2015. Download Riley’s loops and clips package here.
During 2014 I found out that I possess a burning desire for hardware music production but will also always spend all my disposable income on weed. As this realization has settled in, I’ve stopped tragically searching for the typical apples of the analog fetishist’s eye and started figuring out how to make shitty, cheap tools work together to make weird and wonderful noises. In an age where producers focus on cleanliness to the point of sterility, for me 2014 was all about grit and noisy signals and sounds that don’t fit neatly into boxes, and my In honor of the journalistic instinct to make lists of commodities at the end of a temporal cycle here is my list of 5 pieces of underrated discontinued hardware that I discovered in 2014.
5. Alesis Midiverb iii
I copped this one off a nice guy on Craigslist for 30 bones and I couldn’t be more satisfied. This rack mount unit does everything from lovely, weightless half minute chamber reverbs to short metallic clangs, with some wacky, unpredictable gated and reversed settings for some bonus flavor. Furthermore it’s got full midi control over all parameters as well as a simple intuitive interface on the front of the unit. Versatile, timeless vibes.
4. Casio rz-1/boss dr-660
K so these two digital drum machines which make up a big chunk of the percussive palates of ghetto house classics, and have received their fair share of accolades. L-vis made that one kinda boring track for mr. Edgar’s label that was presumably an rz-1 jam (he didn’t even use the sampler like c’mon) and gear lord legowelt has given a strong cosign to the dr660 (which looks like an oversized scientific calculator). Nonetheless they make the list because I really like the idea of these machines (along with something like the 707) as the antithesis of the grotesquely overpriced tr808/909. Rock solid, iconic drum sounds and sequencing that can be sent sent around to your chosen arsenal of signal processing tools. The rz1 has the added bonus of useful performance tools and 2 low bitrate sampling slots that will drench anything in character.
3. Guitar stompboxes
Reverend Richard D James said in an interview earlier this year that no digital system could quite match analog distortion and it’s true, ain’t shit a bunch of 1s and 0s can do against the sound of a circuit being pushed to saturation or starved of current. A good friend let me borrow his stomp boxes and I’ve been obsessed since the moment I put them on an effects send. A little tweaking can make the blandest keyboard spring to life and make any hi hat slice through a mix. Plus turning knobs is fun!
2. Digitech vhm5
Literally the sickest thing ever. The first or second affordable pitch correction/harmonizer ever to be rolled out and 20+ years later it still goes hard as fuck. 127 modes of infinitely tweakable vocoding/harmonizing/pitch correction will make yo ass sound like James Blake guaranteed. It can be played in a tactile way via keys on the front of the unit or controlled remotely via midi. Most preset patches give a lush stereo spread to the harmonized doubles. $70 shipped off eBay and I’ve used it on no lie every recording since I got it. I almost feel like I shouldn’t be spilling the beans on this one it’s so good. Big shot out man like ross oldenburg for putting me on to this 1.
1. 5 pin midi cables
If u don’t have a midi cable from your computer/sequencer to every piece of gear in your studio with a 5 pin midi in port, u fuckin up. A fully midi connected studio basically makes all of your gear as “smart” as the midi master, so for most of us that means we have the potential to let a supercomputer control things instead of doing such mundane tasks as playing keyboards. Even something as simple as getting all of your gear on the same clock unlocks all sorts of compositional and performance strategies by making those built in sequencers that you may have disregarded before actually useful. Midi cables are how you take advantage of the tactile goodness of hardware without sacrificing the limitless possibilities of making music with control of a computer.
Here’s the fun thing about analog synths. They aren’t even that hard to build! U just need some patience and a temp controlled soldering iron. Google “moog low pass ladder filter schematic”; it ain’t even that complicated. Most components are dirt cheap, and the synth diy community is skrong af and will provide u with endless designs and support. They all hang out on a forum called muffwiggler. Instead of buying a 303 for way too much money, just cop the xox-heart (303 voice+filter for like 60 bucks) and port a sequencer to a microprocessor that’s hooked up to the analog shit. Build midi in and a little box for all of it and voila u have a near perfect 303 clone for the extra low. Shots out to my man Jason Nanna for showing me that this is a thing.
Release day is always a bit bittersweet, because, despite all the dithering and busy work that goes into releasing music, it means that the process is almost over. That being said, Heterotopia has been a passion project of ours for quite some time now and it’s with great, treacly pleasure that we finally get to unleash it on all of you. Heterotopia is inspired by Michel Foucault’s essay of the same, but not to the extent that the compilation is imprisoned within the French philosopher’s admittedly problematic framework. The tape is positioned to guide the listener into an alternate reality, not in the science fiction sense, but in the liminal, distinctly body-oriented manner of the club-verse. It was our intention to gather a group of transcendent, progressive musicians and the artists who participated in the project took the conceptual framework to heart and drafted 12 polyglot heat rocks that have continued to defy our expectations on nearly every listen. This sort of language is hyperbolic, but for those of us who take pleasure in the expectation, aftermath and release of the club context, this topic truly is important. Heterotopia is a free release, but if you do happen to have a few spare dollars to spend on otherworldly club constructions in your monthly budget, it would always be appreciated. And while this is release day, Heterotopia will continue as a project of ours in the coming weeks and months. Expect more soon on that front and enjoy.
There are also, probably in every culture, in every civilization, real places–places that do exist and that are formed in the very founding of society–which are something like counter-sites, a kind of effectively enacted utopia in which the real sites, all the other real sites that can be found within the culture, are simultaneously represented, contested, and inverted.
– Michel Foucault
You’ve already heard two songs from Heterotopia and with the tape set to hit the web tomorrow, it’s time to give a little love to the full experience. Watch this space and this space tomorrow and enjoy. Huge shout to Arkitect, Kid Antoine, Jacques Gaspard Biberkopf, Air Max ’97, Victoria Kim, Imaabs, Rushmore, Divoli S’vere, Mike G, Celestial Trax, Riley Lake and Iglooghost for turning in exceptionally creative tracks. And Jesse Treece for fashioning the poignant visual side of Heterotopia. Made this process far easier than it should have been.
As he’s balanced hip hop production, mix engineer work and the ever-progressing concern of a growing hardware stockpile, Milwaukee-resident Riley Lake (born Will Mitchell) has also consistently dipped his toes into the realm of club music, drawing material and influence from a collection of producers, labels and crews that range from the tasteful linearity of Clone and 3024 to boundary-pushing grime outlets Goon Club All Stars and Glacial Sound. “B Goin In” is his latest foray into clubland and features both a dub mix and a delightfully fun Destiny’s Child flip. The stripped back dub mix highlight’s Mitchell’s substantial progression over the past year or so, a veritable simulacrum of the contemporary avant-garde dance that signals a bank of well-researched samples and a strong comprehension of the physical dimensions of the club space. Drop Mitchell a line on Twitter for a download and hit the jump to the stream the “B Goin In (Vocal Mix)”.
When we first heard Mssingno’s momentous “XE2” last October, the R. Kelly vocal sample was like nothing we’d heard before, immediately identifiable, yet impossible to place. “A dog on the prowl when I’m walking through the mall” isn’t necessarily the most recognizable line in “I’m A Flirt”, but it functions perfectly when disassociated and re-appropriated by the London-dwelling Mssingno. It takes on a slinky, sidewinding quality that reinforces the grand nature of “XE2” and carries the track through several percussion-less minutes. The song came to define a year of instrumental grime, portraying the protean proclivities of the “genre” and highlighting many a peak-time set.
With a good deal of reverence, Los Angeles/Wisconsin-based producer Riley Lake has given “XE2” his own treatment and allowed us to debut the track. Utilizing vocals from R. Kelly’s original to beef up the harmonies and a fair share of eski clicks, Lake’s edit allows for both karaoke singalongs and gun finger waving. The edit belongs in a dystopian club and reminds of the hectic, world-colliding nature of much of Donky Pitch and Tuff Wax’s recent output. If grime is going to continue on its current path, colliding with Southern hip hop, old school electro, R&B and more, then we’re going to want producers like Mssingno and Riley Lake to take the lead. Stream and download Lake’s “XE2” edit below.
Last Friday, we debuted Riley Lake’s very real “Request Line” mix as part of our very real and very professional early 2013 music bidnes coverage. We’ve sat on the originals for FIVE WHOLE DAYS, but it’s probably about time to let the dragon out of the bag. To start off the edit induced run of madness, Riley’s Boddika influenced remix of Baauer’s shmassive “DumDum” deserves some individual shine. In proper techno form, Riley has clearly been indulging in some dark UK ish and is sounding more and more like Mannie Fresh/Bangladesh/DJ Toomp locked in the Berghain basement with every new upload. We all ❤ Sunklo after all so stream and download below and keep your ears perked for more edits on the horizon.
It’s easy to say that Milo’s take on hip hop is not for everybody. It lacks the bravado, (traditional) punchlines and self-congratulatory tone of the majority of the rappity rap realm. The references are somewhat academic and the tone is self-deprecating. Some might call Milo an arthouse rapper, but placing him in the Digable Planets/Brand Nubian lineage would be a mistake. The deadpan flow and highly referential nature might bring up Das Racist comparisons, but Milo’s lyrical arrangements aren’t as populist stream-of-consciousness as the deceased Brooklyn trio. Milo is also probably smarter than you, a point that is emphasized throughout his recently released double EP Things That Happen At Day/Things That Happen At Night (out now on Hellfyre Club). The Riley Lake-helmed former is the focus of this post, partially because it’s my favorite of the two and partially because there is entirely too much to take in and comment on across the span of both projects. Before listening to the EP, I highly recommend reading Milo’s “addendum” on duality, Schopenhauer and his father:
this record is about (false) dichotomies and the transcendence of them through genuine expression, and the exploration of things that make me, personally, uncomfortable. it’s about olde-tyme notions of heroism, quests and being in the search of. it is about action for the sake of action without regards to consequence. it is about verbs and not nouns.
Milo is both an astute media critic and a philosophy student and Things That Happen At Day is as dense a work as you’ll come across in contemporary music. It’s easy to get lost in the Hegel talk or whatnot, but like most self-aware lyricists, Milo is mostly just attempting to find a justifiable truth in his personal relationships. He admits that much on EP standout “folk-metaphysics”, a track rife with an immensely relatable insecurity. What’s more relatable after all? The illusions of exorbitant wealth and grandeur in more radio ready rap or the existential worry that you might not matter after all? Milo’s rap might not be for everybody, but it should be. Expect to hear much more about this Riley Lake guy tomorrow as we’ve got some big things (think LOL Boys x Fader mix, but better) in line, but just know that the production on Things That Happen At Day is like no other hip hop release you’ll hear all year. Kombucha bottle percussion, Wallflowers covers and jazz guitar are the new norm so, like, get with the program. I can’t do this EP proper justice in a condensed writeup unfortunately, but just give Things That Happen At Day a listen. And then another one, because while Milo isn’t quite as incomprehensible as Hegel, this shit is packed with meaning. I certainly haven’t begun to grasp the majority of it yet. Stream below and show some love to two immensely talented artists. Also catch Things That Happen At Night after the jump.