E-Saggila is a Canadian producer with ties to Toronto’s Summer Isle label, which deals in esoteric industrial cassette releases. Old Orders Of Beauty sees her cross the Atlantic to hook up with Opal Tapes. It is a crystallisation of the sounds heard previously on solo and compilation cuts for Summer Isle, honing in on and expanding her sound with surgical precision, albeit through murky and translucent horizons. “Trading in Skins” combines industrial heft and thunderous clamour with reverbed synths that would fit perfectly alongside vintage 90s Ibiza trance at an octave higher. Muffled voices from the crypt imbue the frantic “Staggering Embrasure” with a sense of the macabre, though its lead melody is somehow both subdued and energetic – more accidental bounce than deliberate throttle. “Oil Vapour Rises” and “Sum Of Impressions” feel like the kind of music that belongs in Hollywood raves; These tracks would make more sense on film than most music seen in such scenes. True to its title, “Initial” seems like the beginning of something. It’s beautiful like shimmering mist at sunrise, darts of hope and possibility at odds with the portentous darkness at the heart of this tape. This hope is undermined by the fatalistic “Throw The Stone And Hide Your Hand”, both in name and sound. Eschewing 4/4 thud for a more broken quality, it sidesteps certainty in the careful balance of its many layers to close the record.
The master of marimbas returns, two years on from “African Scream (Marimbas)”. Released via Soundcloud, the track took hold of Lisbon’s streets in an instant with its catchy, cut-up hook, tumbling marimbas and stop-start, swaggering beat.
Now 18, the Angola-born, Portugal-bred Dotorado Pro has compiled a grand EP: Rei Das Marimbas. Its label, Enchufada, states that it’s “empowered by a contagious rhythmic virus.” Thoughtful as well as club-ready, these five tracks look set to quake Lisbon once more. The title track shocks you with its punch. The artist’s trademark instrument, the marimba, is used to make rushy, rhythmical melodies atop trancy synths and an anxious step. “Afro-Indian” is a small-dark room of foghorns, upright snares and deep synths; heavy, close and frenzied. In “Marimba Rija”, the sweeping riffs offer relief from the track’s grimy underbelly.
Rei Das Marimbas wastes no sounds. It’s confident and tells us that Dotorado Pro has hit it just right, seamlessly moving from street to club without losing any of the fun.
In 2012, inc. presented No World to us with little warning. Although the two brothers kept their own personas as low-key as possible, the buzz surrounding their music never seemed to reach the heights or intensity that it should have considering the incredible strength of their debut. While teaser singles “The Place” and “5 Days” encouraged press to frame them in that dreaded neo-R&B category, what followed with No World was something much deeper than any fleeting genre: a wholesome masterpiece with the strange capacity to bring nature to life with each song.
While No World serenaded us with fire and earth in smoky rooms and dry desert riffs, four years later As Light As Light completely submerges us in both air and water alike, encouraging us to wade through soulful memories within the oceans of our mind. Five tracks into the album, “Without Water” is a perfect example of what immense forces inc. no world are capable of, blending vocal layers, cascaded melodies and subtle percussion into a world of its own. In a recent interview, the brothers explained that they added the “no world” title to their own band as a reminder to “look inside”, where the place exists from where they make music and live from. It underlines why they make music: “To approach music from an open, peaceful, internal place without judgement”. I have yet to read descriptions of inc. no world’s music that does justice to the compelling characteristics their music possesses, but their own description of the driving forces behind their music-making certainly explains why their music sounds like nirvana come to life.
Ramriddlz’s Venis was released back in March but it’s very frequently been on rotation for me this past month, soundtracking the fall of summer. At ten tracks in length, the fact that it’s technically an EP seems tenuous and far from evident. Perhaps it’s referred to as such because the whole thing is just Ramriddlz having way too much fun and getting extremely carried away, as opposed to some grand, refined artistic statement. Frankly, that’s the best thing about it – the juvenility and debauchery of Ramriddlz’s sexually-charged, swaggering dancehall R&B bangers are so much fun once you embrace them as they are.
It helps that most of the tracks are bangers. “Venis” opens up with muted sadboy/Makonnen-style slurring alongside besotted steel pans before dropping into its anthemic, ambiguously vocal/synth-hybrid sirening beat. Ramriddlz’s lyrics are charming or abysmal depending on how sold you are on the 22-year-old’s carefree demeanor, with whole choruses dedicated to wordplay such as “cider”/”inside her”. There’s a confluence of influences and heritage channeled into the Canadian-Egyptian’s lyricism throughout, with “Left, Right” featuring the refrain: “Dominicana mama come whine up / Mamacita come whine up / Habibti come whine up.”
“Hey Mr. RamRod” is a clear standout, thanks to an especially percussive beat that gets as down as dirty as the artist’s puns do: “Hit me like ‘Hey Ram’, say she wanna do the haram,” and “I got a Balbo-ner / Beat my cocky and Rocky-Rocky.” A woman’s voice seductively calls after him in the song and it builds up to this truly astonishing moment where Ramriddlz actually explodes into a climactic patois falsetto, with which he croons about receiving oral sex. It’s not often one comes across an artist who really goes the distance and then so far beyond it like that – a memorable moment in the music of 2016.
Words by Aidan Hanratty, Erin Mathias, Sindhuja Shyam and Tayyab Amin.