Concept releases are relatively common-place in the world of electronic music, but entire labels based around specific concepts and/or alternate realities are still relatively rare. That’s where Galtier’s Nostro Hood Systems steps in; endeavoring to realize what music would and could sound like in an alternate galaxy of their own creation. Intending to build out the framework (“lore” in their words) over time, the label arrives with the Nostro Hood Anthem EP, produced by Galtier and friends and accompanied by three remixes from Sylvere, Strict Face and She’s Drunk. Full of agile rhythms and dance-forward structures, the single matches disorienting shamanic chants with 808 heavy percussion, the resulting concoction perfectly primed for peak time club play. We’ve got the Strict Face remix on premiere today and the Australian producer has smashed up the NHS Allstar’s original into a hydraulic-loaded grime monster, driven by an forcefully twangy bass line that seems to eat up space even as brief moments of silence provide respite for the listener. To top off the package, the indomitable Rachel Noble has provided fitting cover art for the release, offering up a spectacular visual analogue to the sonic machinations of the crew. Nostro Hood Anthem is out digitally on June 20.
This year, FACT Magazine offered me the opportunity to compile a “25 Best Club Tracks Of 2015” list and after weeks of agonizing over the selections, it went live last week to many readers’ consternation. Unfortunately, a good deal of tracks that I would have liked to include didn’t fit in to the feature’s scope, which was more of less limited to club-focused material and original works (a self-imposed limitation). The following 25 tracks either aren’t aimed at the dancefloor, fit the club-theme or just didn’t quite fit the rubric for the column. Like the FACT list, we’ve kept this one in alphabetic order and considering that these songs come from across a ridiculously wide spectrum we felt there was no need to order them otherwise. Hit the links below to listen to each respective track and enjoy. Big thanks to anyone and everyone who has stuck with us, enjoyed our releases and/or followed the FACT column.
Acre – Always Crashing
Acre x Justine Skye – Never Physically Leave (Prince Will Edit)
Angel-Ho – Yah Cunt
DJ Haram & Mhysa – No Ordinary Love
DJ NJ Drone – Banger (Fools)
Elysia Crampton – Lake
Faro – Hold U (Hi Tom Edit)
Fis – Kal
GAIKA – Sodium
Haleek Maul – Medicine (ft. Kit) [prod. Haleek Maul & Shy Guy]
Iglew – Urban Myth
Jacques Gaspard Biberkopf – Spirit
Joey Labeija – Euphoria
Kadahn – Arc Eye Matter
Kuedo – Cellular Perimeter
Lotic – Heterocetera
Mechatok – Mass Appeal
Mr. Mitch – Dru (Peace Edit)
Rabit & Myth – Lonely Backseat Love
Pan Daijing – DISEASE 疾
Pitcheno – K1. 不明白” (feat. Organ Tapes)
Smurphy – Missing2MyBB
Strict Face – Into Stone
Teeflii x Mr. Mitch – 24 Hourz x Feel (Rabit Blend)
Tim Hecker – Stab Variation (SHALT Edit)
After the resounding success of Druid Cloak‘s Lore: Book One and Lore: Book Two, the conceptual LP series, released through his own Apothecary Compositions label, is getting a “translated” remix version with a little help from an international group of friends. In line with the original’s theme, Strict Face, Spurz, Throwing Snow and a number of others have put in there hand to rework originals from Lore: Book One, offering up some fantastical takes on standout tracks “Quills”, “The Tusk and “Wraithborne Falls”. We’ve got Strict Face’s contribution on the premiere front today, the Australian producer lacing the original with a helping of sparkling keys and heaping low end. It fits in the Gobstopper/weightless vein (even though it involves percussion), moving at a slow gait without giving up bass weight or a sense of forward propulsion. Lore Translations: Book One is out August 7 on Apothecary and is available for pre-order here.
Sliding into the tail end of yet another jam packed year, Coyote Records are set to make another indelible impression on the grime world with their second annual compilation, Coyote Kings Vol. II. The original Coyote Kings, released at the tail end of 2013, established Coyote Records as a forced to be reckoned with in the ever-packed London grime scene, as well as coalescing almost every Coyote artist into the same audial space. Arctic, Spokes, Chemist and Walter Ego are all key cogs in the Coyote make-up, spraying their idiosyncratic, hypertrophied take on grime across several releases in the past year, but some of their best work shows up on Coyote Kings. Vol. II represents expansion for the Coyote team, delving further into the Australian hinterland with the addition of Strict Face, as well as bringing periphery Boxed producers Sharp Veins and Yamaneko into the mix. Chemist and Spokes are the only artists to appear on both volumes, but that doesn’t represent a repudiation of last year’s sound as much as an abbreviation and subsequent extension of the artists and aesthetic brought on the original. Strict Face’s “Taipan Showers” is our first taste of Vol. 2, a fight song-worthy entryway to the tape’s inner confines replete with untempered sino-derived melodies and mean hydraulic streak. It’s a far cry from the beatific cityscapes evoked on the Adelaide-based producer’s recent Gobstopper and Tuff Wax EPs, but that shouldn’t be a surprise to the denizens of Strict Face’s ever evolving world. Coyote Kings Vol. II is out December 22 and you can find the track list after the jump.
It was only two months ago when London’s Boxed club night, led by Slackk, Mr. Mitch, Oil Gang and Logos, released their eponymous, scene defining Vol. 1, but it appears that grime’s premier shapeshifters weren’t totally satisfied with their first offering. Boxed Vol. 2 picks up where the first edition left off, drawing from London’s rich musical fabric and subsequently tearing it apart, reconfiguring it and presenting it in a perfectly coherent melange of dancefloor and non-dancefloor oriented songs. The Boxed usuals all appear as do Dark0, Strict Face, Rabit, Chemist and Murlo, and the track list actually mirrors many of our most recent Astral Plane mixes. We’ve never had the pleasure of attending a Boxed night, but if Vol. 2 is anywhere near an approximation of Dalston’s finest instrumental grime happening then all of the hype is spot on.
“Highbury Skyline”, the b-side of Strict Face‘s new release on Mr. Mitch‘s Gobstopper Records, has been floating around the Rinse.FM universe for some time now, but that doesn’t mean that the Australian producer’s most high-profile release to date is any less profound. Along with a-side “Fountains” (peep after the jump), the single sees Strict Face expounding upon an eski sound palette and utilizing melodramatic pads for an orchestral effect. Whereas “Fountains” falls more into the devil mix category touched on by contemporaries Visionist, Rabit and Logos, “Highbury Skyline” is exactly the type of song that critics refer to as the new wave of grime. More specifically, “Highbury Skyline” isn’t really grime at all. It’s a hybrid along the lines of Mssingno’s self-titled EP and Nguzunguzu’s latest Skycell EP, an entity that looks and sounds like grime, but doesn’t act like it. Fountains/Highbury Skyline is out now on Gobstopper.
For the last 12 months, Slackk, Mr. Mitch and Oil Gang’s Boxed club night has set the bar for what a grime night should look like, drawing in just about every instrumental grime producer of note. To celebrate their one year anniversary, which is occurring this Friday at Birthdays in Dalston, the crew has put together a wildly colorful 18 track compilation featuring some of the most exciting producers in the game. Astral Plane mix contributors Strict Face and Logos appear, as do a host of other transcendent talents including Rabit, Mumdance, DJ Milktray and Inkke. In another year, we might be looking back at Boxed Vol. 1 in a similar fashion as we do Grime 2.0 these days. There’s really no excuse not to grab this masterstroke immediately.
Strict Face has been hinting at the third edition of his Birthday Riddims series for quite some time and was kind enough to drop it off for us loyal denizens over the weekend. Comprised equally of sharp, metallic drum workouts and beautiful synth landscapes, the Adelaide-native has capped off 2013 in perfect style, presenting everything we love about the project while simultaneously presenting new, more robust sounds. Take “Dem Traps”, a percussive attack that matches the cold futurism of eski with the percussive splendor of roughneck techno. Stream and download below and be sure to hit the jump to peep a Miss Modular remix of “Creep Zone II”.
A few weeks ago, Wiley ignited a debate regarding the distinctions (or lack thereof) between grime and hip hop via his Twitter (as he’s prone to do). The conversation over whether grime is more firmly placed in the hip hop continuum or the hardcore ‘nuum has raged since the London sound’s arrival in the early 2000s and while authoritative sources like Wiley have had their say, the answer is ambiguous at best. A more prescient conversation between hip hop and grime has arisen (or at least been given its fair due) over the past few years and it’s one that focuses not on genre semantics, but on finding new ways to incorporate tropes from both sounds into exciting new hybrid tracks. This conversation is largely held in London and hubs of American club music like Newark/New York and Chicago, but some producers who reside outside of those meccas have taken it upon themselves to stretch, reorganize and, in some instances, rip apart the line (real or imagined) between hip hop, grime and R&B.
Hailing from Adelaide, Australia, Strict Face is an exemplar of the genre blurring, blueprint trashing ethos laid out above. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when we fell in love with Strict Face’s music. It could have been when a friend sent his Velour/Ciara bootleg our way. Or maybe it was when we found out he produced Le1f’s “Autopilot”. Regardless, we’ve been smitten ever since and have consistently rated him as one of the more convention-less, innovative producers in the extended grime world. For the 10th edition (!!!) of our guest mix series, Strict Face laid down nearly an hour of club-ready material, matching ethereal melodic content with the heft of tracks from JT The Goon, Air Max 97 and Blackwax. While largely composed of what is commonly considered to be instrumental grime, the mix traverses effortlessly into the R&B and hip hop realm, matching vocals from the likes of Tinashe and A$AP Ferg with the clicks and bass stabs that pervade the eski style. In the end, Strict Face falls more towards Kelela or Murlo than Ruff Sqwad or Roll Deep, preferring to update the sounds up yore with modern signifiers than purely channel the originators. Stream/download the mix below and hit the jump for the full tracklist.
Slackk’s monthly mixes have been a source for fresh, exciting grime since their inception and one of the most exciting artists we’ve discovered is Australia’s own Strict Face. Like many of his contemporaries, Strict Face’s sound is spacious and all-encompassing, but instead of the dark, heaving sound palette many other grime producers utilize, he deploys bright, uplifting melodies. “Forever In Dreams”, his latest sketch, is a meandering journey through breathy synth melodies paced over an orchestral backing. There are occasional whooshing percussive noises, but the song is almost completely devoid of drums. It’s warm and lush, but also slightly disorienting and dreamlike. From the mouth of Strict Face himself:
A disillusioned gangster dreams of the heavens for the final time before embarking on his final voyage through life.
Couldn’t sum it up better.