SNC Radio July 2012
Compiled and blended by AmAr Patel
Apologies for taking forever to get this together. I've been in exile, it seems. Here are a few half-year highlights, including several tunes cruelly loved and then discarded. It's the blink-and-you'll-miss-it nature of modern culture. I'll stop there. Usual runnings from me: all styles, starting in the clouds and finishing on the floor. Long-distance journey. I hope it's good to you.
LAPALUX – 100 Hours of Introductions (Brainfeeder/Ninja Tune)
Another astral Brainfeeder signing, all lush textures, RnB hooks and beatific splendour.
DIMLITE – SE SE SC (Ripl Music)
Quite simply one of my favourite producers out there. Dimlite, from day one, has done things with music equipment that others can only dream of. What a nightmare when they wake up and realise that no amount of study will get them close to this guy. A true one-off, Dimlite explored the more prog and avant-garde realms of music on his last Stones Throw album 'Grimm Reality' (the packaging as something else). This EP for new label Ripl Music feels like a return to the early years on Sonar Kollektiv. More straight ahead but no less absorbing. http://ripl.bandcamp.com/album/abscission
THE CHERRY THING – Accordion [Smalltown Supersound]
She, steeped in the punk tradition from way back when with the Slits. They, named after a Don Cherry composition and blessed with the knack for reinvention. In retrospect, Neneh Cherry's meeting with Swedish jazz trio The Thing was meant to be. Their album, The Cheery Thing', is so addictive: like itching a scratch it can both agitate and sooth, and you come back to it time and again. This is the statement piece: MF Doom's lyrics are dragged into the woods and thrown in a cauldron by an incantatory Neneh while her three cohorts stir and swell around her. Magic.
STANTON DAVIS' GHETTO MYSTICISM
Things Cannot Stop Forever (Poon Tang Tally-Wacky) [Cultures of Soul] A jazz-funk obscurity from 1977 thankfully given a reissue by small but perfectly formed imprint Cultures of Soul. This is the kind of music that sweeps you up with its sheer musicality and fiery spirit. If you're into your disco and boogie, make sure you also check out their Evans Pyramid release (yes, 'Never Gonna Leave You' is on there).
YOSI HORIKAWA – Wandering [First Word]
Great discovery on Aly Gillani's First Word records. Chiba City sound finder Horikawa is another example of a raw talent that's passed through the gates of Red Bull Music Academy and gone on to develop at a rapid rate. Drawing inspiration from the world around him – the shake, rattle and roll of life – the one-time architecture student excels at building hypnotic, layered compositions around the listener. It's a good space to be in.
SHACKLETON – Blood on Your Hands [Skull Disco]
How low can you go? Taking us all the way down to Atlantis in his sub-submarine, Shackleton cements his reputation as one of the deepest bass scientists out there. Stripped down riddim and bone, real pathos and nothing more. SO simple yet so profound. One side of this isn't enough. http://boomkat.com/vinyl/21485-shackleton-blood-on-my-hands
MO KOLOURS – Banana Wine [One Handed Music]
Half-Mauritian percussionist and singer Mo Kolours blends soul, dub and myriad electronic music styles to create his exotic and totally tropical take on head-nod. It's folk music but not as we know it.
D’ANGELO – One Mo Gin (live in Los Angeles 2000)
So D is back. Still outrageously talented, still on a quest, still our greatest hope. This February I had the chance to catch him for the first time in Brixton after years spent trawling through YouTube. A bit static and jam-oriented for my liking but the man’s been off stage for years so let's consider that European tour ‘bootcamp’. The band – Chris Dave, Pino Palladino etc – were highly competent to a man but nowhere near as lean and monstrous a force as the Soultronics of 10 years before. No horns either. Listening back now, it makes you appreciate the Soutronics’ mastery and energy that much more – led from the front by a star in the making. Equal parts James, Sly, Stevie, Prince and Fela. Case in point is this joint, a sensous, sinuous rendition from the Voodoo tour. Apologies if it’s too long but I, like D, am an all-the-way lover so I’m letting it roll for the full 10+ minutes. Ride with it.
GANG COLOURS – On Compton Bay [Brownswood]
Southampton-based producer Will Ozanne has been name-checked on countless music and fashion blogs this year, and rightly so. His brand of melancholic modern soul – all thugged-out melodrama and atmospheric piano – and is every bit as intoxicating as the love his sings for. http://brownswoodrecordings.greedbag.com/buy/the-keychain-collection-0/
oOoOO – Starr [Tri-Angle]
More moody beats and sombre vocal stylings from the mind of San Fran producer Christopher Dexter Grenspan. Lots of ghosts of artists past and present in this second EP, entitled 'Our Love is Hurting Us', yet it still manages to feel deliciously dark, fresh and seductive; that tall dark stranger in the corner with the intense stare that you can't help but follow. No idea what all this "witch house" business is about. I'll leave the name christening to the message boarders. http://www.soundsoftheuniverse.com/releases/?id=27737
THE INVISIBLE – Surrender (Ninja Tune)
Mercury Music prize nominees return with another brilliant album of angular post punk, trio-charged atmospherics and exceptional songwriting. It's testament to the talents of Dave Okumu and his bandmates that this tense and densely layered second album never labours. Each track is part of one Invisible orbit as one by one they take you to a different place through a measured touch of subtle nuance, light and shade. No big vocal hooks in here but I guarantee you'll be humming a chorus here and a guitar lick there for months to come. Look out for Floating Points' staggering remix of their track 'Wings'. Out now.
JAI PAUL – Jasmine [Demo]
I'm very excited about Jai Paul and what this credible pop star in waiting can achieve on Richard Russell's XL. The label has been such a wonderful breeding ground for mavericks – Dizzy, MIA, The XX and Tyler the Creator (Azealia Banks wouldn't join the club though). Paul's 'BTSTU' heated up the internet in 2011 and since then we've only had one other track, a demo, and it's this. But what a track. Bittersweet RnB with a falsetto that gets in your head. The production is lo-fi, quite simple but brilliantly composed. He knows how to write a tune. More please.
J DILLA – Detroit Game (ft Chuck English and Boldy James) [Yancey Music Group]
Keep calm – new album of unreleased Dilla tracks from 'the lost tapes' with Detroit MCs established and emerging spittin' over the top. A few killers in here but as a body of work it lacks the finesse and attention to detail that Dilla was renowned for. That's why it's been unreleased until now. Still, A worthwhile project, brought to us by Ma Dukes no less, and this is one of my favourites – Cool Kids' Chuck English putting it down very nicely.
SPOEK MATHAMBO – Put Some Red on It [Sub Pop]
One of the more surprising hip hop albums of the year from South African-born Mathambo. Schizophrenic, polyrhythmic, big, brash and occasionally overwhelming (not a bad thing), his album's an acquired taste. But as garbled as his message often becomes, Mathambo does have something to say and this tune is a wry polemic about the blood diamond trade.
AUNTIE FLO – Train [Huntleys + Palmers]
A delicious approximation of all that is fun about sounclash and tropical soundsystem culture. Auntie Flo, Glaswegian producer and club runner Brian D'Souza, knows his kwaito from his shangaan, and his cumbia from his kuduro. That ghetto cut-and-paste approach to making house music, the quintessential party soundtrack, continues to be very popular in the clubs. It's cheaper than flying, I guess. This track is taken from his mini-album 'Future Love Machine', which shows a more rounded side to Flo, as he moves through tempos and moods. My kind of 'world music'.
THEESATISFACTION – Enchantruss [Sub Pop]
THEESatisfaction are two sassy fun-loving ladies, Stas and Cat, who met around five years ago in Seattle and bonded over a shared love of nineties' hip-hop, RnB and dusty ol' jazz music. They quickly started singing and rapping together and soon progressed to Garageband and writing/producing their own songs. They came to my attention after collaborating on this tune with the equally leftfield Shabazz Palaces (Ish, salute sir). Prepare to feel "tingly, mushy and ready to go out," as Cat puts it. http://www.theesatisfaction.com
KEY & CLEARY – I’m a Man (Chocolate Industries) One of the standout tracks from an album of obscure electronic soul music recordings compiled by Dante Carfagna. Honest, brokeback tune, full of defiance, just the way I like it.
JOHNNY MATHIS – I Love My Lady (Afrikanz on Mars version) (Modern Artifacts) Thanks to his revealing autobiography and a collaboration with Daft Punk on their next album, Chic's Nile Rodgers is once again the talk of the town. But one revelation he left out of his memoirs was the shelved Johnny Mathis album he and Bernard Edwards worked on. Full of great songs and dancefloor grooves it was, sadly, deemed too risky for Mathis at the time. Ross Allen brought this album to my attention and then his mate Ashley Beedle decided to take the sun-kissed samba of 'I Love My Lady' and extend the pleasure just in time for … the rain. Someone release that album!
KID – Hupendi Muziki Wangu (SAM)
Almost any 12 with the SAM logo on it is going to be fire and this jolly eighties' Italo monster from KID is no exception. Helmed by producer Geoff Bastow, who helped Moroder to create his signature sound, 'Hupendi…', which translates as 'Don't You Like Our Music?' (ah the irony), is guaranteed to get the party started in true boogie tradition. Sweeping Philly strings, funky bassline, horn stabs, wonky keys … it's all here.
HIPNOTIC - Are You Lonely [Street Level]
Oh my gosh. Does boogie get any better than this? A recent reissue, first released in 1983 by Street Level in Canada. I didn't know too much about this but a quick internet trawl revealed the following, courtesy of the Discovinyl's blog: "It was co-written and produced by Alan Felder who has penned some great soulful tracks for the O'Jays, Kim Covington and others. I'd have to call it a grower. When a customer of mine, a plastic surgeon from Florence, Italy brought it to my attention several years ago I remember thinking this is kinda catchy but so are a lot of 80's R&B Boogie type tunes." Aye. The plastic surgeon bit kills me…
MOODYMANN – Pray 4 Love (Scion A/V)
Taken from KDJ's recent collaboration with Scion and given away for free. Free. I know, life can be blessed sometimes. He's so particular about he releases, what gets aired and when, I was surprised that this was given away. Not that I'm complaining – each tune on the EP is classic Moody preshaah. Like Theo, nearly everything he touches is magic and this particular tune brings together familiar Mahogani names such as Amp Fiddler, Roberta Sweed and Divinti to purr over another late-night basement jam from the D. http://www.scionav.com/blog/2012/04/13/moodymann-picture-this-ep/
DREAM 2 SCIENCE – My Love Turns Liquid [Rush Hour]
One of the re-releases of the year from the ever dependable Rush Hour. This one is a 'lost' mini-album of deep introspective house from New Yorker Ben Cenac, one-time member of electro group Newcleus (of 'Jam on Revenge' fame). Quite meditative, in a Larry Heard state of mind. Whether you're up or down, this will connect.
ERYKAH BADU – Honey (Ron Trent mix) [Prescription]
This one goes out to all the Badu lovers in the world, especially my crew that went to see her at the Blues Festival in London. She's royalty but of the rarest kind because she never rests on her laurels. Who knows where the concluding part of the New Amerykah trilogy (forthcoming) will take us. The real star here, however, is Ron Trent, who crams so many sounds into this joyous house remix of 'Honey' – shimmering guitars, Mary Jane Girls bassline, crescendos of chords – it's a wonder that it feels so light and breezy. I also love how he takes the track somewhere deeper towards the end, just as he did with that classic N'Dambi 'Can't Change Me' remix from a few years back.
TRUS'ME – Shakea Body (Terrence Dixon mix) [Prime Numbers]
One of a series of remixes that the Manchester label released a while back. Detroit's Dixon gets classically agitated in a Motor City way.
MACHINEDRUM – DDD [LuckyMe]
Machinedrum is consistently great at whatever form of dance music he dabbles in, from two-step to techno. You can currently find him pushing buttons for rapper du jour Azealia Banks (http://soundcloud.com/azealia-banks/aquababe-prod-by-machinedrum). This EP was originally written in 2010, caned by Rinse and then re-engineered for the '12. 'DDD' in particular will stir the weariest of souls. http://boomkat.com/downloads/484127-machinedrum-sxlnd-ep
OCTO OCTA – Deep Hurt (100% Silk)
There's no shortage of great house tracks to play from 100% Silk, one of my label discoveries of the year, but the deft use of Aaliyah's plaintive vocal in this deep tune gets me from the off. Hear this in the dead of night and you'll feel closer than ever to the distant strangers around you.
JAMES WELSH – Zippyshare (Wolf)
A new recruit to the rampant Wolfpack, Walsh fits right in with his lupine brothers, dropping after-hours house trax laced with a nagging vocal sample to please the soul faithful. Great pressing, artwork and package – standard. Looking forward to the full album on this label. It's about that time.
GENIUS OF TIME – Houston We Have a Problem [Royal Oak]
An oldie but a goodie from Swedish duo Genius of Time. This one just builds and builds, walking the bassline to the stars until the familiar "Ohhhhh" of the late diva comes in. Restrained use of her domineering voice elsewhere. Best way. http://clone.nl/item19538.html
DISCLOSURE – Lividup [Greco Roman]
The darlings of the new two-step/house movement … and for good reason. Brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence, aged 17 and 20 respectively, already have such an intuitive sense of the floor – working around killer vocals, building peaks and rollercoaster rhythms to move your body while working in little flickers of influences to keep things interesting. And they have fun. It's a big and lively sound for 2012. There's too much darkness and austerity in "dance" music for my liking. This stuttering RnB-inspired party cut is taken from their Faces EP, which builds on the promise of their earlier singles and that irresistible Jessie Ware remix. I'll take sexy over sophisticated any night.
SASSE – Eagle Eyes [Moodmusic]
Sasse's third album just gets better and better as you move through it. Real analogue atmosphere and beguiling depth to the music, rare in today's often either inane or overwrought deep house spectrum. The rhythms are solid but it's the other elements and when they enter the fray that really grab hold of you – the vocal snippet in 'Fantazy' and the arpeggiated synth motif of 'Alpha' just two of the many memorable moments. 'Eagle Eyes' gets my vote here as we reach the home straight – it has a sense of climax to it. Check the whole album though; impeccably crafted, buffed and blessed for discerning floors and minds.