“Different feelings… this is doing one feeling, this is doing another feeling, or is this maybe doing a sad feeling, this may be doing, like a happy feeling!” So professes an excited voice at the beginning of the Black Is Beautiful-esque “Say Word”, summarising the potent duality of Mo Kolours’ self-titled debut. Even the artwork’s face represents this mixture, at first appearing stunned and tearful, though later glances accentuate the unrevealing expression, a shapeless mouth that can appear appreciative, upset or completely straight depending on the mood of the beholder. A face that might reflect our own expression; with a tear that follows wherever we allow it to. Mo Kolours is Joseph Deenmamode, half-English and half-Mauritian, and combining the fact with his early love of A Tribe Called Quest and his residence beneath the wing of Gilles Peterson, it feels easy to pave the road his music could take in our heads. But for all the talk of his Mauritian heritage and his channeling of its native sega music, Deenmamode’s debut sounds like his home: London. Influences ranging from hip-hop and dub to funk and calypso are threaded throughout Mo Kolours, always in the same direction and never clashing; Deenmamode’s music seems to exist aloof of any rules or distinctions, much like the people of the UK’s ethnic melting pot. Mo Kolours is the sound of the bustle that brings a city to life, sometimes under sun yet often overcast with grey, and always carrying a sense of wistfulness.
It begins at “Brixton House”, birthed with the cries of a baby, then developing into a woozy collage of scholarly wisdom, human claps and folk music. The loose and sporadic blend in the opener sets the tone for the rest of the album – formatted from the perspective of an instrumental hip-hop beats album that builds loops up and breaks them down. Hip-hop is at its most tangible in the boom-bap of “Play It Loud (In Your Car)”, a track that sounds like it would be a skit on an old-school rap album with a synth that ambles along with Deenmamode’s smooth vehicle soliloquy. The lengthy tracklist of short tunes comes as little surprise from a beatmaker so influenced by J Dilla, whose presence is felt throughout the album’s rough, fuzzy instrumentation. Deenmamode’s use of actual instruments for the beats also contributes to the lo-fi coarseness of it all, though it only feels realer because each instrument is jammed with rather than played. Take the Carribbean “Curly Girly”, a track where guitar licks feel their way across the beat and Deenmamode’s singing sounds like it could be completely ad-libbed. His use of his own voice is another manifestation of his desire to explore as many avenues as possible, at times just hums and grunts, other times spoken word or singing in the forefront on the soulful “Little Brown Dog”. On “Mike Black”, the second-longest track at just over three minutes and also the closest thing to a ‘song’ in terms of structure, Deenmamode quietly cries out his worries in a way similar to Jai Paul’s muted delicacy. Even as he repeats the mantra, “For the truth is love as our men say,” the exact words seem to elude the ears as the vocals are wrapped around the instrumental layers with little distinction made between them. He sounds aged, perhaps wise, on the sombre “In Her Eyes (Funk Heart)”, a dark, funk-tronic jam where he voices a homies-gather-round storytelling cadence á la “Ms. Fat Booty”.
Despite the upbeat, bittersweet last-summer nostalgia that courses through the record, Mo Kolours has its own sinister underbelly. The sheer dread and finality that crashes against the cymbals on “Take Us” haunts long after the interlude of merely thirteen seconds. There’s an intimidating, Afro-shamanistic vocal performance on both “Shepherd” and “Natural Disasters Wish List”, the latter littered with prophecies of doom over a warbling bassline. “Child’s Play” juxtaposes playground chants with gunfire and police sirens with relative inconspicuity thanks to innocuous bass guitar and easygoing, uplifting brass as Deenmamode reflects the inevitable loss of innocence to a mindless struggle. The African influence makes cameos both subtle and unsubtle on the record, certainly on “Afro Quarters”, an instrumental that finds its groove almost instantly. Rustic percussion lays a foundation for laid-back West African hand drums and looped cymbal work interspersed with occasional electro-funk. Not only does the track avoid heading in any particular direction, it seems to pause the passing of time around it, existing in its own static bubble apart from the rest of the album.
Ultimately, Mo Kolours is an album of moments, all stacked up against each other to form a cohesive snapshot of life – apart from “Lighter Break” wherein all the moments run through one’s thoughts all at once. It’s hard to pinpoint the sound of Deenmamode, largely because his work feels sample-based. We can’t help but assume there are samples on the record, for example during the dying seconds of “Love for You (Humbeat)”, though by and large it comes across as an album of purpose-built samples. One of these productions that function as samples could be the opening seconds of “Curly Girly”, with onomatopoeic ad-libs that ring out in the mind after the moment’s passed. As a result of the massive influx of influences on it coalescing around the beats format, Deenmamode’s debut makes for an astonishingly versatile record; you can play it at a gathering with friends, maybe a barbeque, or quietly to yourself at night, or “Play It Loud (In Your Car)”, reflecting on it, focusing on it, getting lost in it, working to it – it’s so natural in its intricacy and so detailed in its effortlessness. There are moments for everyone to take away from Mo Kolours, moments to remember it by, thus we all might see something different when we gaze upon its cover.
Are you looking to get shredded or add mass for the summer and normal supplements aren’t working? Or are you looking to just get a bit leaner or healthier? Look no further! Following our previous crew mixes Club Full Of Truants (our favourite club tracks), Room Full Of Truants (a recap of last year), and Tomb Full Of Truants (the most harrowing tracks we could think of) we collectively hit the gym and exchanged our favourite tracks that motivate us while lifting weights, running marathons and boxing as we all do every day. The result is a two hour long mix entitled Gym Full Of Truants, designed to keep you going while working out, mixed together by Truant wordsmith and disc jockey Aidan Hanratty. What are you waiting for? Get up, hit play, Blast Fat And Get Ripped In 7 Days Truants Style!
Words by Truants, 15 April 2014. Leave a comment
Hold up, hold up! Our friends over at Subbacultcha! invited us to co-host Evian Christ‘s and Mssingno‘s Amsterdam stop of their Waterfall tour, which will happen on Easter Sunday. We are thrilled to welcome the two producers to MC Theater as we have been huge fans of both Evian Christ and Mssingno from the start. Though Evian Christ’s sound has evolved into something much more dystopian and capacious than his debut release, the reckless and novel dynamics are a running line through both records. Evian Christ’s last EP, Waterfall, is something to be fully enjoyed on a big sound system and we can not wait to finally have this experience next weekend. Last autumn, we described Mssingno’s impeccable debut EP as an “emotionally-charged rollercoaster of swooning highs and deep-rooted lows that tugs on the heart strings with reckless abandon, whilst retaining the edge, bite and rhythm to work within club sets.” The emotion translates to the dance floor too, as “XE2″ has reportedly made people burst into tears on the dance floor so we hope you are ready. And that is not all: we gathered support from Amsterdam’s finest for the Tri Angle and Goon Club associates and have The Trilogy Tapes’ Minor Science, Amsterdam’s Know V.A. and our very own Real Traxx Magick on the buttons during the rest of the night.
Stream: Mssingno – XE2 (Goon Club Allstars)
Please come and join us in celebrating the resurrection of Evian Christ with a drink and a dance at MC Theater next Sunday. Get ready by listening to Waterfall over on Evian Christ’s website, and stream his fresh Young Thug remix below. To buy tickets and get more information and updates, please head over to our Facebook event page: WATERFALL PARTY FT. EVIAN CHRIST | MSSINGNO | KNOW V.A. | MINOR SCIENCE | REAL TRAXX MAGICK. We’re also giving away 2×2 guestlist places for the night. In order to be in with a chance, simply attend our night on Facebook, like Truants and fill out the contact form below. Winners will be notified on Good Friday. Best of luck and see you next weekend!
Stream: Young Thug – Stoner (Evian Christ Remix)
Words by Truants, 14 April 2014. Leave a comment
For Seven Plays, each week one of our contributors will keep a personal music diary for seven days, then hands the feature over to another Truant at the end of the week. The idea is to keep sharing great music with our readers, but with a more individual touch than our more objective posts and reviews. The second instalment comes from Truants founder Soraya Brouwer, going from saxophone and Planet Mu classics to housing project raids and a little bit of Brick Squad.
Sunday: Archie Shepp Quartet – Blue In Green (Venus Records)
“Hi, it is Soraya and it is my Seven Plays turn. Firstly, I’d like to thank Tabitha for delivering such a great first instalment of this feature, you can read her contribution here. Secondly, I would like to apologise for derailing the feature from a weekly idea to a monthly one this early; I had the worst luck with technology over the last few weeks. Not having a modem, a laptop, or a working vinyl player temporarily changed the way I listen to music though, which was good. During the first few days of this hermit 3G life I was left with a handful of random tracks on my phone, and some shoe boxes full of CDs I hadn’t opened in years. These CDs are mainly hardcore punk and hip-hop records I would’ve referred to as iconic a couple of years ago, or CDs I “borrowed” from my family. I think I wouldn’t have gone through them otherwise, so I thank myself for spilling liquid over my laptop for the second time in a matter of months. It made me rediscover a couple of folk, blues and jazz records which I used to rinse back in the days but don’t listen to much anymore. Examples of my weekend records included Joni Mitchell’s Blue (“Little Green“), B.B. King’s Deuces Wild (“Thrill Is Gone”) and John Coltrane’s My Favorite Things. I got stuck listening to Archie Shepp for the most of my weekend, and a fitting pick for my Sunday would be “Blue In Green,” off Blue Ballads by the Archie Shepp Quartet, composed by man like Miles Davis. It was between this or this Stevie Wonder cover but I chose “Blue In Green” as it is so soothing!”
Monday: Marco Bernardi – Klinsfrar Melode (DJ Sprinkles’ Deeperama) (Crème Organization)
“I came across this remix by accident today. I think I was looking for another Sprinkles track, but I completely forgot what I was looking for in the first place after I found this. Everything Thaemlitz has done as Sprinkles is fucking incredible: I rediscovered MCDE’s remix of “Grand Central Part I” over the last weeks after Jackmaster included it in his Essential Mix, but I have a feeling that the Deeperama remix of Bernardi is my new go-to Sprinkles track now.”
Tuesday: Waka Flocka Flame feat. Slim Dunkin – Tyler Perry (1017 Brick Squad)
“It is no secret that I am obsessed with everything 1017, and whenever I feel any type of way I draw for the 808 Mafia produced “Tyler Perry” collaboration between the creator and ruler of my universe Waka Flocka Flame and the late Slim Dunkin. Today, the stress of not being properly connected to the world started kicking in, and this was the track I blasted on max to unwind a little. This is my favourite track Slim Dunkin and Flocka did together; I have fond memories of one of my friends and myself trying to annotate this track. We spent a good nine hours session and a bottle of Hennessy on trying to figure out the indecipherable St. Matthew and tortilla lines. I don’t care for “Tyler Perry 2.0” much, this track is the one and I hope to hear it out one day. If any DJs are reading this, please fulfil this dream for me and I will be forever grateful. Rest in peace, Dunk.” Continue Reading →
The always excellent, pigeonhole-transcending Black Acre Records, quite simply, keep releasing so much heat that we thought we should catch up with the instigators behind this slew of goodness. Laying foundations back in 2007/08 with a string of sturdy dubstep records, they have since handed debuts to a heady selection of our favourite artists – Blue Daisy, Fantastic Mr Fox, Loops Haunt, Dark Sky and Romare among them – and consistently deliver some of the most compelling music around. It’s been quite the week for the team, keeping busy with Monday’s release of the highly-anticipated debut LP from Loops Haunt, their London excursion to take over Boiler Room and the announcement of the next gem from Fantastic Mr Fox. Amidst this flurry of activity, label boss and seasoned industry vet Ian Merchant has been kind enough to field a few of our questions, offering up some insight on the running of such a perennially on-point label. With 2014′s Record Store Day imminent, Ian has also hooked us up with an exclusive stream of H-SIK‘s dizzying “Virtual Introspection”, taken from the Adaptations EP due for release on the day next weekend (stream below).
Exclusive Stream: H-SIK – Virtual Introspection (Black Acre Records)
Alright Ian, we saw a telling tweet the other day; someone quoting you saying, “Unless it’s mad, I’m really not that interested”. Could you tell us about your process for selecting tracks and artists to release on Black Acre? “Ha, that was a direct quote from something I said to the ‘other’ Black Acre boss (Eva), we were discussing a new demo that was both tasteful and ‘on trend’ but *enter quote here*. I’m very lucky to have built a (small) rep for breaking new artists so nowadays a lot of people find their own way to the label, although your artists can be the best A&R department you could ever have. What I’m looking for is a feeling of discomfort, the music sort of forces me to listen, I hear so much great music that I can’t put out because there’s no risk in it. I’m looking for people that are 100% committed to their message, no compromise.”
Speaking of breaking artists, it must be quite a buzz introducing a previously unknown producer to the world and seeing them go from strength to strength; those stunning Romare releases in particular, and the subsequent signing to Ninja Tune? “Yes totally, there’s nothing better than setting off a career like that. I’d just got into management also (thanks to Dan @ Hardlivings) and this has really completed the puzzle. Romare was the first artist I’ve been able to take from inception all the way to a record deal and it’s made the whole process make sense. Romare’s demo was one of those ‘what the hell is this’ moments, mad old African samples chopped with footwork, house and hiphop, but the deeper I got into with this guy I noticed that even the artwork was a code for the samples he’d used. I’ve never met anyone go in so hard and so deep to tell a story, Romare is a one off!”
I can imagine, those Romare bits are ridiculously good. What has been the most memorable demo you have received over the years? “Oh that’s a great question, I’ve been very lucky to have birthed so many significant artists, Dark Sky to Loops Haunt and I don’t want to underestimate the importance any of the demos, but the day Blue Daisy sent me “Space Ex” was the turning point. I’d been a hiphop artist for 15 years and was pretty disillusioned with the game, the early days of Black Acre were a bit aimless and I was just putting out whatever I could to get the engine started. If I’d have been sharper the label would’ve started with Sully and Clouds! The first time I listened to “Space Ex” I knew this was it, this is what I wanted to say with my label. Blue Daisy was such an enigma and his raw production scared off everybody else, it was the risk I wanted to take to prove this kid was a real talent.”Space Ex” gave me a reason to fight on. Oddly he’s just played me a track last week that has had the same effect called “Mermaids” – total new level, love that guy!”
How involved do you get with the creative process in terms of artwork, theme and whittling down tracks to make the cut for each release? Do you have a close relationship with your artists? You have guys like Fantastic Mr Fox who has released nearly exclusively with you for half a decade or so… “90% of my A&R is done before I decide to release a record. The personality behind the record is super important. There is a huge amount of trust needed both ways. My contribution creatively is totally tailored to the individual, I think certain guys like Fantastic Mr Fox and Blue Daisy have afforded me a massive level of trust but even then it’s more about putting an anti-bullshit force-field up around them so they can focus on being creative. In the music industry people just want to distract you the whole time so you have to block those voices. I only work with positive people who have good hearts and this has really helped to form this family vibe with Black Acre. It’s not a label as much a gang or family; the Addams Family of beats.”
Loops Haunt’s album Exits is just out and sounding brilliant. He said himself it’s not “an immediately obvious or accessible record”. It certainly seems to deliver on the absorbing, slightly challenging but great music mentioned above that you aim to release? “Yeah Loops is almost the perfect Black Acre artist; just when he’s built up an understandable scenario musically, he kills off the main character and switches the hero and villain and invents a parallel 6 part spin off series. The thing with Loops Haunt is he’s such an enigma both production wise and as an artist that you’d have to be crazy as a label to put him out unless his music was the best shit out there, which luckily for me it is so I do.”
Video: Loops Haunt – Exits Album Trailer
One thing that struck me about Black Acre’s output, especially last year, was the rate of which you have been releasing music – not far off a release a month. Repeatedly I’d be bagging the latest record whilst the preceding one was still in heavy rotation…“That’s weird ’cause I felt like I’ve been slipping over the last couple years, like I’d fallen off the radar. This year there has been a conscious change for me – I’m going in harder than ever before. I want to push Black Acre to the front, take bigger risks, make bigger waves, for too long I’ve been content to break new talent and linger like the forgotten child in the attic, I’m going for it this year.”
That said though, Black Acre gets some support from sources with massive audiences – BBC Radio 1, you just took over Boiler Room, streaming LP previews on Pitchfork etc. – are you satisfied with how the label has grown in this respect? “I’m very pleased with the fact the label’s even survived this long, old Black Acre has been a fixed point in my life during some pretty serious career horrors and personal meltdowns. Having said that I’m not a ‘glass is half full’ type, I’m more of a ‘glass is empty, by my worst enemy and smashed on the floor’ and so I’m constantly trying to drive the label forward. It’s always going to be hard because I won’t knuckle down to one easily digestible genre or vibe and so I find the online cycle of cool – uncool – cool (again) a bit draining. I’m trying to just do my own thing and hope that other folks will get it. At the end of 2013 I definitely had a ‘fuck this shit’ type epiphany reading the ‘end of year lists’ and I’m acting on it right now. It’s 2014 or bust!” Well, end of year lists worth reading are few and far between – Black Acre are certainly highly rated in our book! What do you find is the most rewarding part of running the label? “When your love for a piece of music resonates with enough people to pay the person who made the music.”
Stream: Fantastic Mr Fox Ft. Denai Moore – On My Own (Black Acre Records)
Seeing as we asked you about the most memorable Black Acre demo, has there been anything that has slipped past that you regret not signing? “There tons of artists I wish I signed but I’m so impulsive normally I catch most of the Pokèmon I’m after. There are a couple artists I wish I’d got to work with and a couple should’ve clung to a bit harder. There was a particularly messy era where loads of labels were cock fighting on the new post-dubstep folks but generally speaking I think I’ve done okay out of the music gene-pool.”
What other music are you rating at the moment outside of Black Acre bits? “Right now I think that kid Lapsley is smashing it, Denai Moore is without a doubt one of the most exciting talents coming out of the UK, also Kwesi (Blue Daisy) put me onto The Body – that album is like being drowned! In a good way. The house guy – Dan Shake – that 12 on Mahogany is wicked. Uhhh I’ve missed a bunch but that’ll do!”
Are you able to drop a few clues as to what might be on the horizon after Loops’ LP? “Yeah totally, we have a bunch of EPs; this crazy warped dancehall mutant from a guy called Lurka, super lightspeed jungle from H-SIK, an EP of remixes and freshness from Loops Haunt himself. Albums from Clap! Clap! and the man Fantastic Mr Fox (I’ve put the deposit on my castle already for this one!). Then maybe some rap stuff…”
Nice one for talking to us, Ian. Any shouts before we sign-off? “There are a couple shouts, first is the Black Acre silent assassin Eva Greene, The whole Hardlivings family especially Chevy Stace, our mascot/illustrator/artist fluffer Patch Keyes, Matt Preston, Kwesi Darko, Archie Fairhurst, Luke Harney, Stephen Gomberg, Boiler Room crew, all other really independent labels doing first records. My wife Emily for keeping me above the tide.”
Loops Haunt’s ‘Exits’ is out now. Buy here.
Words by Oli Grant, 10 April 2014. Leave a comment