Considering Mumdance and Logos have been responsible for some of our favourite productions over the last couple of years, we were particularly excited and intrigued to hear that the trailblazing duo are commissioning a brand new imprint together; Different Circles. Both artists have made significant innovations with their work in and around the grime spectrum, fueling our anticipation of what may become an essential label to keep tabs on. Logos, with his Kowloon EP, helped usher in a new era of experimentalism; exploring splintered drum structures at lower tempos in combination with the icy glint of eski’s distinct palette. His first full length, Cold Missions, continued on this trajectory and presented us with one of the most vital albums of last year. Mumdance, meanwhile, is everywhere you look at the moment, and with the crossover success of the Novelist vocalled “Take Time” on Rinse, he grabbed the scene by the scruff of the neck and helped propel the more abstract and inventive side of grime production to new audiences. The pair have also combined to deadly effect on records for Tectonic and Keysound, and if their output as label curators comes close to matching their stellar work as musicians, we’ll be in for a treat with Different Circles.
Weightless Volume One enlists some of the stars from the vast talent pool of producers that soundtrack dancefloors at nights like Boxed with such a weird and wonderful array of sounds, textures and colours. The “weightless” title is noted as “a term to describe the sound, tracing the liquid space between spectral grime, sound design & electronic experimentation”. Each track is near enough beatless, and though sections of Mumdance’s recent sets have included work in this vein, the theme of the release caught us pleasantly off-guard. The inclusions are even further from conventional club music than you might have expected, especially for a vinyl-only run. The idea of weightlessness in club music is an interesting one, vaguely reminiscent of the almost levitating force you’d experience from the proper physical basslines of classic dubstep on hefty soundsystems. The tracks here, though, achieve the sensation through lacking nearly any percussive structure; melodies and soundscapes drift like falling leaves, unanchored by regular drum patterns. You could draw comparisons with the devil mixes born out of classic grime, but these are detailed, vivid compositions built specifically as standalone tracks, rather than fully constructed with the drums removed retrospectively. Take another virtuoso effort from Dark0, “Sweetboy Tears”, with its soaring riffs and solitary hi-hat every eight bars making you feel like you’re suspended in a glorious three minute intro that never fully breaks, or Inkke’s jaunty, giddy synths on “Love Song” that effervesce over a dubby bassline. They offer up so much in terms of rhythm through melody, harmonies and sound design that they captivate your attention entirely.
The collaborative effort between Mumdance, Logos and Rabit entitled “Inside the Catacomb” distills a darker atmosphere, imbued with pure futuristic menace. This track is the closest the release gets to any kind of percussive regularity. Rabit’s “More Memories” is markedly different to a lot his previously released material, with the wistful drift of the synths and the plunging roll of the bassline providing an altogether smoother ride than some of his jagged club beats. Murlo contributes a rush of liquid energy with “Geist”, perhaps the most danceable track in the EP, and Strict Face’s creates deep space stasis with haunting leads and all-encompassing sub-frequencies on “Python Crossing”. The latter really is a work of art, arguably the best on the record and goes to show why Different Circles are so excited to have a full EP from the young Australian producer earmarked for their third release. These beatless constructions provide such a wicked interjection to sets in a club environment, creating almost surreal, otherworldly moments on the ‘floor, but it’s also great to the tracks getting a release so we can get lost in them in our own time. Logos and Mumdance are definitely onto something here, and whilst the next two releases will be a Logos EP and a Strict Face EP respectively, fingers crossed a Volume Two crops up at some point as well.
Weightless Volume One will be released on the 17th of November and can be pre-ordered here.
Words by Oli Grant, 23 October 2014. Leave a comment
Sasu Ripatti is, by definition, a veteran of electronic music. His work as Luomo saw him lauded at the turn of the century with the seminal vocal house LP Vocalcity. He has also ventured into minimal techno as Sistol, but it’s as Vladislav Delay where the majority of his work lies. It’s also arguably his most captivating work. The fantastic Multila would pave the way for much of Ripatti’s later work, mostly glitchy ambient techno which perhaps peaked at 2007’s Whistleblower. VISA, however, takes a step back from the glitchiness and the beats that defined his earlier works and takes Vladislav Delay to the most decidedly ambient it’s been as a project for a very long time.
We’re told that VISA was created by Ripatti after he was denied entry to the United States for a tour. He took the opportunity of having a few weeks free to create new music and VISA was the product. The album is came about as a result of his excess creative energies following the tour cancellation, “a valve broke open… and I collected what came out the pipes” is how Ripatti described the process of creating the record. VISA is undeniably full of interesting ideas and creates textured soundscapes and head spaces that feel stuck somewhere between a forest in winter and a dream-like mechanical afterlife. In other words, it achieves in creating sounds that feel as organic as they do artificial and this contrast makes it a mesmeric record.
Clocking in at nearly 23 minutes, the album opener “Visatron” is an indicator of the mindset that Ripatti was in when the album was created. It’s melancholic, droning, looping, at times discordant and at times not, but it is without a doubt engaging for the duration. It’s comprised mainly of a number of different loops that are blended into each other, somewhat akin to Ripatti and others’ live sets. With the narrative behind the album, that he’d been deprived of performing his live sets for a few weeks, its understandable that he’d construct something that isn’t too dissimilar from one. That continuity is present in the whole album, it flows and transitions almost seamlessly as we’re taken into “Viaton”. It’s full of contrasts as the track starts as muted and organic and builds into mechanical, glitchy drone before ebbing back to calm.
“Viisari” feels like the most urgent track on the record. Here you really get the sense of Ripatti trying to capture his brimming ideas which bounce and click with sublime exigency. That Ripatti “collected what came out the pipes” to create the album is none more evident here. But while that might suggest that Viisari is simply ideas thrown together, it is instead rather cohesive. “Vihollinen” (and indeed the whole record) has shades of Tim Hecker’s Radio Amor with its thunderous drones punctuated with static, ominous repetitive piano chord and indistinguishable vocalisations which could well have been lifted from radio airwaves. The tail end of the ten minute track descends into distorted gunshot-like stabs creating an atmosphere in the track that is in equal parts unsettling as it is beautiful. It isn’t surprising that the track title translates from Finnish as “The Enemy”, showing Ripatti’s aggravation with the situation. Ultimately the piece stands out in the album as feeling the most personal and emotional, a quality that has often distinguished Ripatti’s music from his peers (“Tessio” from Vocalcity being a masterclass in how to make house music dripping with emotion). The final track “Viimeinen” (figuratively ‘The Last’ in Finnish) is the shortest and most understated on the album. It’s lush, light and looping and bring the record to a satisfyingly calm conclusion. It doesn’t feel dragged out and that can be said for VISA as a whole. None of the tracks feel superfluous at any point, nor do they overstay their welcome.
It’s not very often that an artist as established as Ripatti delivers one of their finest works to date, seemingly out of nowhere, but he’s done exactly that with VISA. Ambient music can at times feel like it veers too far into the abstract which for some can be off-putting, feeling too detached from reality to create any emotional connection with the listener. The record being borne of frustration means that VISA feels like an inherently personal record. It eschews this emotional detachment that can plague ambient records that may theoretically be solid but ultimately lack that certain something. Ripatti has the uncanny ability to make 10 minutes feel like half that, creating intricacies and details that may be missed first time round but are what keeps the listener captivated. Ambient has enjoyed a stellar year so far with the likes of Kyle Bobby Dunn, M. Geddes Gengras, Graham Lambkin & Jason Lescalleet all providing ample listening as the nights begin to draw in, but it’s Vladislav Delay who has provided what could well end up being the finest ambient record of the year. He is undoubtedly back to his very best and we couldn’t be happier about it.
Words by Antoin Lindsay, 22 October 2014. Leave a comment
Sydney via Seoul’s Victoria Kim deliver our 103rd Truancy Volume, a whirlwind exploration of the hybridization of K-Pop and the UK’s pummelling drum trax. Initially producing a host of housey RnB edits, the duo have recently turned to Korean vocal work for inspiration, setting in motion a host of bootlegs that will be compiled on the forthcoming Karaoke Pt. 1 mixtape. Quietly working away in and behind the scenes of Sydney’s small but dedicated dance music community, Victoria Kim have expanded their horizons and began to garner some international interest – not always an easy step for artists from this part of the world.
Picking up the philosophy of hybridity in Fade to Mind’s edit culture, Victoria Kim’s bootlegs add something new to the conversation. This glocalisation, casually referred to as ’K-grime’, reflects the duo’s geographical and cultural duality but also breaks down the constructed barriers between the cultures it investigates. TV103 demonstrates that there is an incredibly large amount of amazing music made in Asia that is overlooked by the Orientalist gaze and the industry’s media that sits together beautifully with Europe’s equally forward-thinking club trax. There’s more in common with contemporary pop’s Other than we may initially think and, perhaps more importantly, the combination destabilises the binaries of East and West, underground and mainstream, promoting instead an idiosyncratic chimera in which the lines are blurred. While there is a long discussion to be had about the cultural sensitivity of this stance (some of which was covered in our interview, in which our differing approaches came to the fore), the mix is nonetheless symptomatic of our obsession with speed and newness: “there’s this obsession with impatience, people want to hook onto as many trends as possible in as short a time as possible.” While some, this writer included, approach this fact with some apprehension, Victoria Kim seem to revel in it, feeding off its multiplying ability to distort and abstract.
Stitched together while in Seoul, the mix tracks a journey from the city’s mega-cafés into its clubs, where different spaces induce odd juxtapositions – the café’s RnB vocals linger and mix with the club’s clanging drums. The result is unlike anything we’ve hosted and lays out a heap of new ground to be explored. We met up with half of the duo in Sydney’s most marble and glass-laden shopping center to discuss hating Australia’s house fetishism, appropriation and doing things wrongly.
The first thing I wanted to ask was just about the Australian dance scene – there’s a big predisposition for house and techno but recently there are people like yourself, Air Max ‘97, Strict Face and Dexter Duckett who are doing things differently. “The thing I love about Australia is everyone is just imitating someone else’s music. I guess that’s how I understand Asian music as well – K-pop is just a copy of American pop music and American RnB, so the same applies to Australian club music except we do it so wrong that it becomes something new and becomes something fresh.” I think that’s a really interesting aspect of Australian culture in that we are, in a sense, culturally nomadic, with very little homegrown culture to rely on. That’s why I’ve been really excited about how a different sound might develop here, particularly with someone like Air Max 97. “That’s true, you can see where he draws stuff from as well though. I think we all are trying to imitate something, like I’m just taking ballroom rhythms and stealing K-Pop vocals and using that instead of queer or American stuff, because that sounds more exciting to me. I think Strict Face has got this perfect thing where he’s doing grime but he isn’t doing it as a British person and I know a lot of people who find that kind of unsettling…. It’s cool and funny. I love appropriation, I don’t really know why people get so worked up about it. I mean, I’m not queer and I’m not black but I did a track with Divoli (S’vere), and he just doesn’t care. If you look at someone like Koppi Mizrahi from Tokyo – she’s a woman and she doesn’t do drag or anything but she’s part of Qween Beat and they love her. Appropriation is a funny thing, it’s something that people get pissed off about but the actual people who make the music often don’t care, or they love it, in fact.” Right, well especially with ballroom you have these really pertinent and meaningful cultural symbols, like the Ha! crash, and I guess the worry is that it will just turn into some empty trend that forgets a really important social and political element to that music, in turn effacing and silencing the original voices. “Yeah, there is the worry that it just slips into something like the trap hi-hat trills. But I remember talking to someone from Fade to Mind and they were saying just make your own Ha, so I did. It’s a high pitched Chinese gong, and then a Korean person going “ha!” Appropriating something and making it your own is a different thing.”
How do you feel about the health of the club scene in Sydney? “I think it’s cool but I don’t get why everyone is so into analogue technology and ‘hardware’. Too much white boy music. Maybe it all started in Melbourne, probably did. And that whole Australiana thing of wearing weird jackets and making music in the desert… whatever. (laughs)”
So what are some of the processes and thoughts behind the hybridization of K-pop and grime / club music you’ve been working on? “Well, firstly, bootleg culture is very common in Asia. With every major album that comes out they always release acapellas and instrumentals alongside. The point of this is to encourage bootlegging, but it’s also so that the tracks can be used for Karaoke. So if you have the instrumentals, people cover it on Youtube – so many artists get picked up from Youtube by the major record labels. I also see Asian pop music as a clone of American pop music, but it’s a clone that tries to be ten steps ahead always. So the example people often talk about is Hyuna’s “Bubble Pop“, where you have these EDM or dubstep drops 30 seconds in. So there’s this obsession with impatience, people want to hook onto as many trends as possible in as short a time as possible, and consequently people don’t really last so long over there. So with guys like Her Records, who are pushing stuff out as quickly as possible, digital only, I’m watching this strand of dance music moving so fast but trying to parallel it with this strand of pop music that’s moving so fast. Because there’s nothing interesting about putting a Destiny’s Child acapella over a new track. It’s like, why not use new vocals?” I suppose there’s also an interesting parallel there between how Asian pop music functions and how the Soundcloud trend cycle functions, where you have these genres – one month its moombahton, then it’s footwork, then it’s kuduro – that are ingested and spat out at a rate of knots. Everyone’s just ruthless. “I think that’s good, I think you need to be as ruthless as you can in music. I buy lots of vinyl but I also don’t care for it. It’s too slow. I might play around with it at home, but when it comes to playing out, USBs only… no questions. Sometimes I have these sound guys come up to me like, “are you playing a Youtube rip!?” and I’m like, “Yep…” (laughs) But that’s the thing, I’ve talked to sound guys everywhere in Sydney and they just don’t understand, they just like rock music. It’s not like we have Funktion One in every club here, or even that what we play is mastered properly. All we do is slap a limiter on to make it louder… it doesn’t matter.”
On a lot of your promo material you refer to your stuff as ‘Asian house’ or ‘sino house’, I was just wondering how being between Australia and Korea has influenced your stuff. “Honestly, when we try and make music we try and think of ourselves in that in-between space. That’s kind of the Victoria Kim idea – it’s a music between worlds that’s compromised between worlds. There’s a guy I know from Cakeshop in Seoul who often plays our tracks, the mashups in particular, and people love them there, because they’re hearing these raw UK drum tracks with K-pop vocals over the top and they don’t know how to react. It’s that same idea of not knowing how to react to dance music, but that’s the way you can introduce that kind of music to them, you know. You can do that the other way around as well, we’re also trying to introduce European people to K-Pop because they know their NS and FTM instrumentals but they don’t know the vocals.” So it’s a very cultural project. “It is, we’re really trying to make the two cultures meet. It’s a project of multiculturalism. It’s a project of assimilation maybe.” Oooh, I think we’re getting into probo (read: Australian for problematic) territory there with assimilation… I tend to think of it more as hybridization, that at least there is some form of exchange. “Yeah, it’s interesting though. I’m from Hong Kong, my entire country was assimilated by bloody British people… but we kinda liked it. (laughs) But a lot of Hong Kong people will tell you, “we love the British, we like the fact that they came here”. Which is obviously a very different approach from most colonized countries and that really feeds into what we do.”
When I first encountered your music it was more of a straighter house or garage variety, and I feel like at a certain stage a whole lot of things changed perhaps with the entrance of the Night Slugs/Fade To Mind diaspora. “It’s always been there, but I don’t think we’ve ever taken the risk to make that kind of music. I think the first thing that got any attention was “Talk Talk“, which is a Korean cover of Justin Bieber so the Korean influence has always been there. With Night Slugs, in terms of production, I don’t think there is a huge influence, but in terms of approach there is a huge influence. This idea of pinching from different areas and… making something wrongly? I remember reading an interview with Bok Bok where he talked about making “Silo Pass,” and he was saying that he was trying to imitate Wiley but did it all wrong and that’s how it came about.” This idea of making something wrongly is so prevalent in the narrative of dance music, since the very beginning with the development of Acid House through to UK Garage and footwork. “Yeah exactly right, and we just need to keep doing it with newer stuff. Do it wrong. Have your little Ableton stretch marks in there … whatever. There’s no need to argue about authenticity… be happy! Asian music is the fakest music in the world, it doesn’t matter, same with the PC Music stuff. I’m so happy it’s happening, if anything its actually finally driving people towards Asian music. People are only just realizing.”
Could you tell me about the karaoke mixtape that you’re working on? “Well, it’s supposed to be a series. Druture from Los Angeles will be on it, and maybe Strict Face. I have an EP that’s done and a single with Breach that was supposed to come out but I’m not sure about that. I don’t worry too much about releases. I’m hoping to start this thing called Pure Ginseng, which will kick off with the Karaoke mixtape and will hopefully release music as quickly as possible. I’m mainly looking towards Asian producers, producers who are imitating the Night Slugs thing but very late in the game, really. Guys like Moslem Priest, a couple of Korean vocalists like Kitty B and Hoody, Strict Face. A lot of the karaoke stuff is on the mix we did for you guys. Then hitmaking in Seoul with Druture, going on all the big labels… putting dance music in a different place.”
Tell us a bit about the mix you made for us. “Well, there’s this habit I got into when I was in Seoul, because coffee shops there close at like 2AM and, like, everyone is in coffee shops all the time, so I would just sit and smoke and make mixes and mashups all day. But there’s this idea of going from the café to the club. You’d go and get a coffee, the cafe would close and you’d catch a cab to the club, finish at seven in the morning and go back and get another coffee. So that was kind of the culture that I wanted to capture. This thing would always happen where I’d be at the club but still singing these acapellas in my head from the café – there was a club that I went to that was opposite a convenience store that was blaring the same 4 songs all day, so you’d come out of the club with melodies in your head and be affronted by a thrashing EDM beat… The mix came from this idea that you’re listening to Korean RnB and it kind of lingers, then all of a sudden these UK drum tracks come in, so that was my experience. Basically it’s Korean acapellas all the way through but the music and the rhythms change vastly. Just bridging that gap, that’s the idea. It’s not a club mix. People have this thing of like, “it’s just what I’m playing out at the moment.” No, this was made on Ableton, straight up. It was meant to portray that experience of going from the café to the club and having those ideas lingering in your head and crossing over when you don’t want them to. It’s not what I play out, that’s boring. (laughs)” There’s still a whole lot of untapped potential in Ableton mixing, in using that new technology wrongly. “Yeah, there is a different attitude to making a mix on Ableton, it feels very rehearsed, which is fine. People tell me that I lose the live element, but that’s just not interesting to me, we’ve moved on. I’m all for it being as produced as possible, where you can hear the stretch marks and it sounds all artificial, it doesn’t matter.”
Words by Tobias Shine, 21 October 2014. 1 comment
If you’ve been following our Functions Of The Now series, you’ll know that Miss Modular and Sudanim are responsible for one of its biggest hits to date. Her Records have continued their course up to the stratosphere since then and we’re delighted to be working with them once more for the first few iterations of Temporary Trax. First up is “No Clouds” by Miss Modular. In line with what we’ve come to expect from him and the label he represents, it’s a dynamic, vibrant 8 bar weapon that’s as bound to Jersey club and the likes of Rustie and Hudson Mohawke as it is to grime. It’s also spectacularly funky, which makes a whole lot of sense when you consider what the track’s source material is. We got in touch with Miss Modular to talk about this, his process for remixing and more besides.
“It was started and finished in the same day. Maybe a 10 A.M to 4 P.M session in my home studio, which isn’t actually a studio. At the moment it’s my laptop, a pair of Beyer DT770s and a basic, broken midi controller. Suda and CYPHR were playing on NTS and at The Alibi that night so I thought I’d build something for it. I had listened to this new Prince song, “Clouds,” and heard about four things I wanted to sample in the first twenty seconds! His sound palette is really influential in dance music. Perfect claps and snares. “Clouds” itself is kinda throwback. I dig it and it’s cute, but I don’t really have much use for it on it’s own. I don’t think I’d ever play it out, whereas I used to work in things like “Erotic City” and the 12” mix of “Little Red Corvette” quite a lot in my sets. So I was chopping it up as I was listening, rather than playing it through all the way, really taking things out of context. It was more of an experiment to see what I could do with the sounds, some sort of personal challenge, and wasn’t until I heard the “Kiss on the neck” refrain that it really became a remix. It’s actually one of the only tracks I’ve made recently without a broader project in mind so it seemed perfect for this! The Functions of The Now mix we did just under a year ago was our first feature and maybe the thing that actually made people listen to us so we’re really happy to be working together again!”
DOWNLOAD: MISS MODULAR – NO CLOUDS ➝ Donate £1.99 or more on Bandcamp.
Temporary Trax: Ever since the inception of Truants, we have been proudly dedicated to providing you with the best content while remaining free of advertising and other external influences. We’ve managed to do this through a certain level of self-funding, as well as through donations from our wonderful readers. It goes without saying that this means an awful lot to us and we’ve been hard at work to offer you something a little more tangible in return. Temporary Trax is a new feature in which we offer you the chance to download something completely exclusive in exchange for a donation. 100% of your donation goes towards our running costs. Each track will stay live for two weeks and once we roll it out you can no longer get the previous offering. Once it’s gone, it’s gone. We’re also delighted to be working with graphic designer Taylor Trostle to deliver you an exclusively designed piece of artwork with every new instalment. Mixing engineer Jeremy Cox also continues the impeccable work he does with Her Records and others on “No Clouds”.
If you have donated £15 or more in the past and would like to reclaim your Temporary Trax downloads for free, please mail us at email@example.com and we will get back to you with a download link shortly.
Having curated one of our favourite mix series on the internet, the Astral Plane’s move into release with their excellent Heterotopia compilation is all kinds of hype. Alongside Jacques Gaspard Biberkopf sit other Truants faves Air Max ’97, Victoria Kim and Divoli S’vere who all contribute club-ready fireballs. Heterotopia, the theme driving the compilation, refers to Foucault’s conception of alternative political space, utopias of Otherness, difference and plurality existing outside of social hegemony. This idea manifests itself beautifully in clubland, in the cultural safehavens that were the Paradise Garage and Fantazia, that are Vogue Knights, the Battle Groundz and the dark warehouses of Newark. It also manifests itself in the state of liminality we are shrouded with in the club, as well as the embodied rituals of drug use, dance and listening. Though we shouldn’t forget nightlife’s intrinsic ties to the leisure economy, the club space’s ability to foster alternative community and subjectivity is nonetheless an incredibly powerful tool Jacques Gaspard Biberkopf seems to take the theme figuratively, establishing a widescreen architecture that hones in in the absurdity of Jersey club through dehydrated textures and his trademark use of voice. In a far away room, someone tinkers on a piano. As the arms of power continue to strangle public space, whether through surveillance or the monetization of Soundcloud, the Astral Plane remind us of the powerful political agency ‘real’ club space offers.
Heterotopia will be release on October 21, revisit Biberkopf’s Functions of the Now here.
Words by Tobias Shine, 16 October 2014. Leave a comment