Recommended: Fold – Mr W00D

Fold Truants

Rob Glassett first came to our attention as one half of Homepark. Alongside production partner Sam Fussell, the duo’s music has led to releases on labels such as bliq and Chez Damier’s Courtesy of Balance Recordings. Away from Homepark, Glassett also makes music and plays records solo under his Fold moniker. As Fold, he delivered our 49th Truancy Volume while his monthly NTS radio show continues to provide a platform for a truly skilled selector to crate-dig to his heart’s content. Fold’s radio slot can encompass anything from ambient electronica through to old UK garage records; all paired with a healthy dose of heady house and techno cuts old and new. With such diverse taste, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Fold’s production output follows suit and avoids being pigeon-holed to any one style. In Glassett’s own words, “I think with my Fold output, there’s less boundaries really… my Fold stuff is more spontaneous. It might be driven by an epiphany on the night bus or maybe an experience on a dance floor.” With that noted, Fold’s return to George Fitzgerald’s ManMakeMusic label sees each of the EP’s three tracks vary considerably in style.

Title track “Mr W00D” is an energetic dose of disco-flavoured house. Sampling Alicia Myers’ 1981 classic “I Want To Thank You”, the vocals are continually teased in and out before storming to the fore in a soaringly euphoric finale. Fold’s aptitude for sampling is evident here but the drums add real power to proceedings, a recurrent theme in the EP. Glassett’s love for garage, jungle and other UK dance music is well known and is something he’s discussed before. In the humorously titled “Keif Chugwin”, his choice of vocal sample puts these influences on clear display. You might not necessarily associate soundbwoy vocal cuts with dub techno synth work but here Fold melds the two together with ease, delivering the EP’s standout track in doing so. Having heard it out, this is definitely one for the floor with both the synth stabs and the powerful kicks packing plenty of punch on a system. The finale of “No Foolin’” doesn’t quite live up to the two preceding tracks, a piece of filtered house with a vocal sample which – surprisingly given what has come before – fails to really add anything. That’s not to take away from a very solid EP however and it’s great to see Glassett continuing to channel his different influences so well.

Words by Matt Gibney, 19 February 2015. 1 comment

Truancy Volume 110: Braiden

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A lot has changed since we last spoke to Steve Braiden a little more than three years ago. Conversations about the intersections of dubstep and techno are now moot, for one thing. More specifically, Braiden has gone through several iterations in his career, transferring his radio show from Rinse to NTS, and then, following a move to Berlin, taking a break from weekly broadcasts. Furthermore, he’s just launched a new record label, Off Out, an output for his own releases as well as those about which he truly feels passionate. Its first release, Braiden’s own Apex Of The Sun’s Way/Solar Poise, came out last month, with the latter track featuring prominently in our latest Truancy Volume. We caught up with him during the recent CTM festival to discuss his work rate, the strange experience that is radio DJing and why putting a record out is anything but liberating.

You’ve got this reputation where you haven’t put out much, you’re very slow and thoughtful about things — do you think that’s going to change now that you’ve got the new label and your new release and you’ve got stated plans? Did a hectic lifestyle in London get in the way of your productivity? “Music comes out when it’s ready. It wasn’t that I was unproductive in London, I did a lot! I’ve made a lot of music over the last few years but various factors dictate whether I want the public to actually hear it. Artists should be taking time to reflect, grow and live — and with this may come irregular releases. But yeah — I feel inspired with my label and feel that I have a good momentum going on.”

One downside of moving to Berlin has been the cancellation of your NTS show. Do you miss it? “At the time I felt fine with taking a break from radio. I had been doing two-hour shows by myself for seven years, and it felt like a good time to recoup. I had a couple of months last year where I got away from club music and it was great to refresh my perspective a little. I felt when I came back to it, I was a lot more knowing of the things that I really connected with — which is why I’ve started this label. I feel more and more I’m building my own kind of vision of how I want things to be, and through that feeling I relate less with a lot of other stuff that’s going around. I feel that when you can’t relate to what’s going around you, you go one of two ways: either you drop out, or you carve your own path. I think a lot of creative movements are born out of not being able to relate to what’s already there. I was happy to have a short break from radio, but radio is great fun and really helps you grow as a DJ. I’ve just done a couple of shows on NTS and will be doing a new monthly show on Berlin Community Radio starting February 24, from 8-10pm.”

How was it being back with NTS in Berlin (alongside Casper Clark during the recent CTM festival)? “It was really fun. It was really hectic, I was in the middle of working on this photo shoot, it was like a 14-hour day, so I had to run out of the studio, come, play 30 minutes — it was a really upfront banging set, I banged it out — and then ran off. It was nice. Radio’s a bizarre experience because you have this audience, but they’re not there, so you’re just making your own energy, as opposed to a club where you’re a part of this system. It’s kind of weird to do that again, where you just play what you want. There’s no reading a crowd, you can just do it if it makes sense to you. I look forward to getting back to radio and doing more.”

You’ve got the release out — is it liberating, or is that feeling that it’s out there and you can’t control it any more? “I don’t find it liberating at all. I’m just moving on — I’m working on the second release now, I don’t really think about it. Once it’s out, the tune then takes on another stage of its life, it’s not mine any more. I’m just trying not to dwell on it. I’m trying to get the second release out in a couple of months, keep moving. I’m very proud of it, it’s really nice to have it out there, but I wouldn’t say it’s a liberating thing.”

To me they’re both very crunchy, electro/techno sounding tracks — electro in the classic sense. I know you said in the interview with Juno that the ethos of the label is that you want to be able to play out at least one of them, so can you talk about the next release? “The next release is by Slewis — a very good friend of mine, who I’ve known for about 10 years. He’s an old friend who probably knows me musically better than anyone else. We’ve grown up through similar musical phases, going to loads of similar clubs since we were 18 or so, so it’s really a pleasure to work alongside him. He’s making some great music, and it naturally fits into my vision because we’ve come from the same place. That will be his first release. This is one of the things about having a label — you start forging new relationships with people, you can give people a true platform. As a DJ you can do that to a certain extent, but when you can actually release their music then it’s a whole other, really nice thing. His tracks definitely fit into a similar sort of vision — you’ll see very soon.”

You mentioned a Sydney-based artist; can you say anything more about her? “I don’t want to say too much about it, but her other musical project is not dance music, so this is a new endeavour for her. The first track that I heard is fantastic, it’s really quirky — there’s something quite charming about it, there’s a lot of character to it. This is something I really want to emphasise with the label. I want the releases to have a lot of character to them. I want to marry the two things, the functional and the musical. I think that’s always been an aim with approach to music, with my DJ sets — I’ve wanted them to work, I think I understand about energy and how to work crowds as a DJ, but I also want to transmit some kind of character, colour, atmosphere.”

Speaking of presentation — the artwork for the release is great. Is that going to be a theme or will each release have its own bespoke look? “I think each release will have its own thing. I’m leaving this open. I really want the label to grow organically as I grow. If you look at what I’ve been as a DJ it’s always mutated, because it’s a reflection of myself. My integral self is always solid, but there are certain things around that are changing, and your artistic output should reflect that. So with the label I definitely have a certain aesthetic I’m looking for now, but I expect things to grow naturally. With the artwork, I expect that as well. I think there will probably be certain things that will be cohesive, certain ideas, especially with an emphasis on texture which is something that is really important to me, but my plan is for every release to have brand new artwork. I’m excited about it, it’s a great platform for me to create visual things.

“The artwork for the first release was made by creating prints via digital negatives and a 19th-Century photographic printing process, and then scanning those physical prints in. I like the idea of routing graphics into the real world via printing and scanning them back in digitally — it creates natural imperfections and tangible textures. I guess not unlike Emptyset’s Signal concert we saw at CTM festival now that I think about it. This idea is also evident in the visual approach to the label’s website. I have various ideas for future releases, including painting, light installations, photography and illustration. I’m also open to the idea of collaborating or commissioning visual artists in the future.

Talk us through your mix – what was your approach? “I always have quite a particular way of putting together studio mixes. I definitely want to portray some element of what it’s like to see me in a club, but usually they’re fairly eclectic — it’s something to sit down and listen to and get lost in, rather than a mix to put on in the background of a party. As a 60-minute mix, its more eclectic than I could get away with in a one-hour set in a club. There’s a lot of emphasis on strong atmospheres, and definitely a bit of club rowdiness in there, not exclusively though. Also there’s a work in progress of my own that no-one’s heard yet towards the end of the mix.”

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Words by Aidan Hanratty, 18 February 2015. Leave a comment

Recommended: Disappears – Irreal

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Based in Chicago, Disappears have been churning out LPs on Kranky with a frequency that’s almost become yearly tradition. Their fifth studio album, Irreal, sees the band sounding out their art-rock and post-punk from the bottom of a deep well. Dry throats and glazing eyes, uncertain interludes and unexpected trips into momentum – Disappears find themselves stumbling and swaying in circles, though there’s no sense of drunkenness. It’s very easy to lose oneself in such a humid record, however as listeners we’re left sitting on the band’s shoulders and each moment of their imbalance is tangible, every unsteady jerk forcing us to be painfully aware of our surroundings. Still, the mind begins to wander, and in our mind we see Disappears on this forsaken journey: Swans without a driver and some wheels missing to boot. Disappears are more frame and chassis than fully-fledged vehicle, their engine a distant, detached self-awareness and, unlike Swans, knowledge of where they’re going to end up.

It’s this self-awareness that sets Disappears apart from plenty of other shoegazers. They’re awake the entire time – the glazed eyes are those of travellers, rather than revellers, and each groggy step forwards carries a weight of determination along with. Brian Case spends a large part of Irreal wailing into (and out from) the void, forming cacophonous echoes that resonate and rebound off underground stonework on “Mist Rites” or assuredly revealing, “Future’s just death,” during the title track. The guitars wail too, sometimes. Other times it’s just the reverb, or lack thereof; Disappears don’t drown their music in it, opting to push their sound through waterfalls of reverb between vacuous caverns instead. Disorientation becomes a regular feeling as the ears unlearn how to deal with the swelling of sound, and each pulsation cleanses any brief feeling of respite. They’re tempered and disciplined, and they’d rather drag us along than leave us lost down there.

“Anything can happen,” Case repeatedly suggests on album opener “Integration”, often enough to instil a sense of apprehensiveness in us. Repetition is an underlying theme on the record as Disappears propagate the same rhythms, numb and necessary like the worst commute. Even as “Irreal” explodes into life at the cue of a yelp, the group constrict their music to their own rules and maintain ranks. Anything can happen, but what reason do we have to expect that they will? Things change, but what makes us so sure about when? In this way Disappears play with our grasp on reality, toying with repetition and rhythm in a way that leaves none for us to carry for ourselves. Their self-control becomes our loss of control. Irreal propels itself forward, barebones and skeletal – we are its panels, engine-less, and without it, an empty shell.

Irreal is available now on Kranky.

Words by Tayyab Amin, 06 February 2015. Leave a comment

Truancy Volume 109: Leif

Leif Truancy Volume 109

Now we’re fully alive and kicking in 2015 we’ve got another treat lined up for you for our second Truancy Volume of the year. If you’ve been lucky enough to catch Freerotation resident and UntilMyHeartStops label co-head Leif Knowles DJ before you’ll know all about his ability to craft an atmosphere with his sets. If you haven’t, not to worry, as there’s plenty of Leif to dig into. His label UntilMyHeartStops, which he runs with Joe Ellis, has had a stellar few years housing the likes of Joey Anderson, Freerotation co-founder Steevio and Truancy Volume 65 creator October. Leif’s guest slot alongside Joe Ellis on Ben UFO‘s Rinse FM show was named as one of the best mixes of the year by Resident Advisor and having him on board is a definite cause for excitement for us.

In terms of releases, Leif’s debut LP Dinas Oleu on Fear of Flying was one of the finest albums of 2013, coming a solid decade after he started releasing music. With it we were offered his vision of just how luscious and personal deep house can be. As his multitude of EPs and singles he’s released since 2003 prove, most recently his Nour & Light EP on Sudden Drop, Leif’s sound is as comfortable on headphones as it is on a system. It was a no-brainer for us, then, to bring him in to offer up the 109th edition in our mix series. We’re extremely excited to share this Truancy Volume as Leif has given us a delightfully varied and ascending mix as the perfect antidote to the chilly weather. This is one you’ll keep coming back to.

How did you record the mix? “The mix was recorded at home with Technics 1210s, A&H mixer, vinyl, some unreleased digital bits and a guitar reverb pedal (which in hindsight I probably went a bit overboard on).”

Is there any idea or theme behind the mix? “It’s quite varied, I guess. I had a few tricky mix transitions I wanted to play around with – some broken beat stuff, old trip-hop records on 45 instead of 33rpm / techno records slowed down to -8, etc. The first half is fairly chilled, the second half ramps it up a bit. There are some old favourites in there from artists like Terrence Dixon, Sensate Focus, Maxmillion Dunbar and Grimes Adhesif, mixed with a few forthcoming unreleased bits from myself, Duckett, Lubin and The Marx Trukker.”

Besides what’s in the mix, what else have you been feeling recently? “Awesome modular techno from Steevio, transcendental melodics from Oren Ambarchi, rhythmic meanderings from Burnt Friedman; there is so much good stuff out there at the moment.”

What’s next for you? “Production-wise, I’ve got a 12″ EP of some more broken-beat stuff coming soon on the Idle Hands label, a remix for Kimochi Sound and I’m working on another album for later this year. Aside from that, me and Joe are working on getting the next few releases ready for UntilMyHeartStops which we’re really excited about!”

Tracklist:
Maximillion Dunbar – Polo
HOT10TOT10 – R1Z1 (DJ Nozaki’s Don’t Come A Chick Mix)
The Marx Trukker – Clear Water Fishing

Peshay – The Real Thing (90bpm version / at 45rpm)
Grimes Adhesif – The Last Three Minutes
Duckett – Let’s Have Sex
Leif – Life Through Analogies
Sensate Focus – Sensate Focus 5
Lubin – Mediation Garden
Grain – Untitled
Duckett – Flex
Terrence Dixon – Splendour
Lubin – Untitled
T-Polar – Southside Construction
Stéphane Laporte – Tears Plant

Words by Antoin Lindsay, 04 February 2015. 2 comments

Recommended: Secret Songs – shh#000000

secret songs truants

Ryan Hemsworth, of Truancy Volume 46 fame among other things, started up his label Secret Songs just over 8 months ago as a selflessly pure way of sharing music, free of pressure and politics. In his own words, it’s a platform for “distinct sounds by unique artists who aren’t getting the shine they deserve”. In the time since Secret Songs been active, Ryan has delivered on this promise and the fortnightly output is always worthy of attention. As well as impressive regular singles from the likes of Sega Bodega, Toby Gale, even an 808 Mafia banger from TM88 and Rome Fortune, there has also been the release of two compilations.

Each of these compilations is labelled with a hex code that represents a colour and this is what provides the common theme between tracks. The first was called shh#ffb6c1 (a light shade of pink), putting a spotlight on spritely sounds and some incredible female producers, such as et aliae and Qrion. This time round we have shh#000000 which is, well, black. That’s interesting straight off the bat in that black is probably not the first colour that comes to mind if you had to assign one to Ryan’s musical output, although it undoubtedly has a tendency to touch on motifs such as loneliness and detachment.

The tone is set immediately here with Fifty Grand’s “when you go back alone”, both in name and sound. A dark ambient fog sits heavy with ghostly stretched vocals before fading out, only to whir back in at double the intensity, double the dread. There’s a sense of dread in a lot of the compilation and the next two tracks follow suit. “GULLY” by fknsyd builds upon the ambience set previously, livening it up with some imploding percussion and disorientating rewinding (straight from the Noah “40” Shebib school of production). Young Gutted’s work on “Facts” is loosely reminiscent of something from Lil Ugly Mane’s nasty rap beats playbook and Wiki from Ratking laces it with his well known, aggravated flow.

Dread isn’t the only feeling construed on the theme, however, and that keeps things fresh over a listen in full. Both Morly’s “Maelstrom” and Beat Culture’s “CLOSER” really stir the emotions and are notable for their use of voice. A thick, aching syllabic chant is the star of the former while it’s sparse percussive pads and stirring guitars cement the sense of yearning. The latter uses vocals in a slightly more conventional manner but just as effectively, with the repeated line “How can I resist you?” in particular sounding so unsettling and flat out resigned. Don’t sleep on that stunning, soak it all up whilst throwing your arms out in Jesus pose breakdown either.

This compilation even caters for those who the colour black invites a longing for their favourite dark and dusky club. Truants favourite Dro Carey delivers what might be a standout track in the form of “Rollcage” and its whiplash inducing broken beats. Fever Trails’ “Scrum” will have you bopping away (although slightly less furiously) with its drums that scatter from ear to ear and textured synth lines that would make Jon Hopkins proud. Even in the tracks not mentioned here, shh#000000 excels across the board. In the age of Soundcloud, of which Secret Sounds is somewhat a celebration, it’s all too easy to assemble several tracks and call it a compilation. This makes it especially notable that these tracks work together in a front-to-back listen as well as when taken in isolation. Despite the haunting tones, it’s clear that shh#000000 is the result of a lot of love and care, a theme that goes equally for Secret Songs in its entirety.

shh#000000 is available to download for free here.

Words by Matt Coombs, 02 February 2015. Leave a comment

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