Recommended: Murlo – Into Mist EP

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It’s hard to be conservative with superlatives for an artist as singular as Murlo. With releases on Mixpak, Glacial Sound and Unknown to the Unknown as well as a host of other songs and refixes and an early entry in our Functions of the Now series, it’s safe to say Murlo had 2013 on smash. Even taking into account the numerous singles and remixes from further back, Murlo’s tunes all seem to tie into this vast, colourful and extroverted nebula of vitality. Further exploring the synth-heavy, especially melodious strain of grime and occasionally bringing dancehall into the fray, his music is just like his label release history: unable to sit still, never settling, always on to the next thing. He also seems constantly busy, regularly DJing whether that’s with Hipsters Don’t Dance or the Boxed crew. Coming from a background in illustration and continuing to work in creative fields outside of sound, he produced the video for “Into Mist”, title track of his new EP on Rinse.

“Into Mist’s” vibrancy comes from its playfulness, kicking off with restrained percussion before Murlo lets loose with the marimba-type sounds, all light and airy and cushioned by incidental strings. Soft, sensual and exciting, it’s the dream they try to sell you in chocolate adverts. He only lingers on the Malteser riddim briefly however, as those signature harmonious synths have to come in along with the claps and shuffles, turning the track into bouncy, free-flowing glee. Chiming percussion reappears on “Vertigo” and “Roman Baths”, on the former as a sugary supplement and on the latter as a more tempered refrain. The final track on the EP is all minimal string plucks dancing across the layers like light rain. Murlo is a wizard with those sounds, knowing when too much is too much, and when too much is seriously fun. If Mumdance gets to be Grimey Jeff Mills then we’re nominating Murlo for Grimey Steve Reich.

Murlo’s works have reached a stage where it’s fair to expect a certain standard of quality from new releases. The reason why his Into Mist EP excels so much is that he doesn’t just meet those expectations for club bangers, he surpasses them by expressing his versatility more vividly than ever before. Each track on the record proceeds with different pacing, offering something new each time. “Vertigo” follows on from “Into Mist” retaining the energetic aspects, marrying them with a garage cadence and spliced vocals. Even then, there’s still some marching snare-work and videogame-like synths on an adventure tip. The latter two tracks take a decidedly considered approach leaving some room to breath. “Roman Baths” sees a contemplative Murlo take some time out for melancholic reflection as a sample of a girl’s laugh seems to echo throughout in some nostalgic way. Closing with sighing piano notes, “Roman Baths” is a much welcomed unexpected turn. The curveball comes in right at the end though, in the form of “Dripstone (The Chase Scene)”. Here, some padded kicks and throws are kept while most of the rest of the percussion are thrown out in exchange for solid, straight-faced samples from the inner city, from breaking glass, twisting locks to shutting doors. Passing traffic wooshes hover just outside of Murlo’s bubble of bashful strings and shimmering landmarks. In a way, it’s as if Murlo juxtaposes this world of rustic peace with rush of the city creeping around it, in the form of those urban cues.

Juxtaposition of coexisting entities is something that regularly appears throughout Murlo’s work, one way or another. Sometimes there’s this meshing of styles and genres as mentioned, or how “Into Mist’s” inclusion in Elijah & Skilliam’s Fabriclive 75 is yet another signal of inter-relatability across perceived generations in grime. His illustrations and expressed interests have involved ancient civilisations (the “Into Mist” video is heavy on Roman influence) and fantasy worlds alongside videogames, translated towards the peripheries of grime, a genre that exists both on futuristic frontiers and properly grounded in concrete jungle sprawls. Often, the world humours its impulse to impose constraints on artists – what their function is, the way they work, what it is they can be. Murlo is flourishing, paving new ground in any direction he wishes, and his Into Mist EP is a shining example on the merits of simply letting the artist be.

Murlo – Into Mist EP is out now on Rinse. Grab it here.

Words by Tayyab Amin, 06 November 2014. Leave a comment

Recommended: Life Between Screens (curated by Manni Dee)

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With the never-ending onslaught of the modern-day content wars, it’s appropriate sometimes to sit back and take a break from it all. Techno producer Manni Dee, of Perc Trax and Electronic Explorations fame, has done exactly this with his Life Between Screens compilation for WotNot Music. Life Between Screens is an opportunity for producers to work outside of their stated comfort zone on a project themed away from the dance floor and even stepping into the conceptual art space. Proposed as a soundtrack to the listener’s non-computer/smartphone/table existence, it offers a fascinating and rewarding collection of sounds that hover between a variety of, dare we say it, ambient modes.

Opening with the elegiac shuffle of “Body In Earth” from Fuewa, whose masterful Sonic Router release we profiled last year, the initial feeling is of wistful regret, tempered with an off-kilter shift into more exploratory electronic tones. Similar in shape if not emotion is “Taint” by relative newcomer Trinkkets, which moves from a solid build-up of noise into a plodding hip-hop groove before being stretched and shredded beyond recognition. On a more ethereal tip, BNJMN contributes the swirling tones of “The Unseen”, while D. Hansen shows up as Lotide with “In The Deserted Bazaars”, reportedly one of the last tracks under this alias. It’s a tense affair, unresolved chords and strange vocals eventually given catharsis by a beautifully surreal poetic reading/film sample (delete as applicable). MockSun’s “Without Instinct”, meanwhile, is a glacially cool slice of meandering ambience reminiscent of Biosphere at their most serene. Far from serene, however, is Shelley Parker’s “Restrictions”, a chainsaw-distorted piece of noise and fuzz, enlivening and unnerving in equal measure. Those who opt to obtain the cassette release can avail of even further ditties, with glistening, beatless melodies from Ekca Liena and Lost Twin sitting alongside Vangelis-esque beauty from Danalogue, and curator Manni Dee’s “A Nod Was The First Step” under his Nuances pseudonym, which comes off like Campfire Headphase-era Boards of Canada dragged down to a deathly 10bpm.

One of the most astounding pieces on the release is Memotone’s “Abbots Bromley Horn Dance”, a thrillingly bizarre piece of music that blends moods, eras and styles in a single unit. Built around a chilling recorder melody that’s straight out of the May Day celebrations of The Wicker Man, Memotone undercuts this playfulness with large swathes of distorted noise before injecting dolor with mournful clarinet harmonies. It’s a truly singular piece that takes the listener into realms uncharted and unexpected, in the same way that Manni Dee hoped to draw the assembled producers away from the norm. Take some time and get to know these beautiful and strange pieces of music.

Life Between Screens – Curated by Manni Dee is out now on WotNot Music. Buy here.

Words by Aidan Hanratty, 04 November 2014. Leave a comment

Temporary Trax: CYPHR – Metanoia

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The second in the Temporary Trax series comes in the form of “Metanoia” by CYPHR and it couldn’t be much further from the bright funk of the first. Most recently, the Her Records mainstay has drawn heavy doses of critical acclaim for his 6 track EP “Ekleipsis”. Much like that EP, “Metanoia” is a showcase of the many different influences which make him one of the most unique producers in this field. It starts off with a ton of ill at ease space and sparse industrial percussion before building into some dark R’n’B with marching band rolling snares and ghostly vocal pads. We got the inside track on how “Metanoia” was made, the reason for it sounding so haunting and also on a potential direction for CYPHR’s future output.

“I made this a few days ago in the space of an afternoon, pretty much. The only tracks I end up sharing are the ones I make in a really short space of time because I don’t have time to overthink them. It’s true that most of the tracks on the EP took a while, but “Ekleipsis” (the track) was the quickest to produce and is probably my favourite because of it. I will always spend a while filling in subtleties, I just think it’s important to ground a track in one session. Otherwise, it’s tough to come back to. The starting point totally depends on my mood and the track. It’s different every time. Sometimes I’ll have a beat or a melody in my head and I’ll work around that but other times I’ll just search through my sound bank until I find something cool. With this one the clocks had just gone back and Halloween was incoming. I found a load of scary clangs, hits and worked from there. I think the voice melody was where it all came together. I also start a lot of my tracks, this one included, with a singer or rapper in mind. I’m always trying them with acapellas, seeing what works and what doesn’t. Listening to guys like BC Kingdom, I can’t get enough of their vocals. Tinashe has a couple of amazing tracks too, like the Evian Christ interlude “Indigo Child”. Tracks like that where the producer’s work and the singer just fit together so comfortably. It’s a desirable relationship. Without a doubt I’d like to do more work with singers in the future.”

[REMOVED ➝ LISTEN TO/DOWNLOAD THE NEXT INSTALMENT BY SUDANIM HERE ]

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 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 “Metanoia”.

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 trax@truantsblog.com and we will get back to you with a download link shortly. 

Words by Matt Coombs, 03 November 2014. Tags: | Leave a comment

Recommended: Rival Consoles – Sonne

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Last year long-standing Erased Tapes artist Rival Consoles released the Odyssey EP, his sixth outing with the London-based avant-garde label. We noted its “warm, sumptuous chords” and praised its consistent diversity. In the 12 months since Odyssey, he’s been busy travelling and performing, taking on a US tour and supporting Luke Abbot across the UK in conjunction with the latter’s Wysing Forest release. Sonne, therefore, comes as a weighty surprise, a full body of work after months of silence.

“Sonne” kicks into life with an exuberantly high-pitched synth riff in flighty 3/4, urgent triplets giving the piece pace and nervous tension. A minute and a half in and the track takes on a new life, as rich electronic chords evoke notions of a sort of modern baroque style – a thick swathe of synthetic organ sound coming off like a neo harpsichord. A sheen of open cutoff closes the piece like the blinding light of suddenly opened curtains on a summer’s morning. “3 Chords” is a misnomer, as Rival Consoles does in fact use more than the titular number; that said, the second is only introduced more than two minutes in. Picking different points up and down the line, he builds a steady, growing beat around a single pattern of notes. Bass notes throb while higher pitches glisten and swell. An interesting attempt at minimalism, it succeeds emotionally if not literally. “Helios” is an even greater success – coming off like a slower, more jubilant version of James Holden’s “10101”, it clicks and shakes with rumbling fizz before exploding into an overwhelming barrage of pomp and celebration, rattling drums and a wall of fuzz instilling the feeling of a raucous party atmosphere. “Haunt” is more delicate, then, its warped and elongated synths hinting at deeper yearning, perhaps a telling emotion after such heady delights.

Things head towards a frantic climax with “Think Tank”, which is almost straightforwardly club worthy with its dead-on 4/4 approach. A Boards of Canada-esque wobbling synth line just keeps its heartbreaking mood, while chirruping effects feel like far-off birdsong. “Recovery” closes the release with stacatto synths rolling back and forth, pushing towards a frenetic tempo in unpredictable fashion. While the sonics of Sonne might not be all that different to those of Odyssey, the ideas and emotion that shape each track here demonstrate a clear step forward for Rival Consoles. Developing his sound without straying from his established identity, he’s managed to bring together the head and heart in perfect balance.

Rival Consoles – Sonne is out now on Erased Tapes. Buy here.

Words by Aidan Hanratty, 30 October 2014. Leave a comment

Recommended: Ultrademon – The .XVX Files

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Up from the all but evidently staying rabbit hole of seapunk, the style which the producer at hand is widely accredited for birthing a few years back, is innovator Albert Redwine, better known as Ultrademon, with his latest offering The .XVX Files. Considering the stylistic qualities inherent in the aforementioned aesthetic and the forward thinking ethos of the host label Hyperboloid, ran by a tripartite of Russian artists including Pixelord, this EP seems a just fit, and maybe even over due. Clashing a multitude of genre principles and reorganizing elements into lurid, lively productions—generally speaking, the seapunk M.O., for those under rocks—goes the still maturing legacy of Ultrademon, which is a formula not all that deviating from Hyperboloid. Contrary to the beginning comment regarding attribution, The .XVX Files isn’t explicitly purported by the currently Chicago-stationed producer as seapunk (the title nondescript compared to Redwine’s proper opus Seapunk)—it seems he’s lost care or interest in furthering the mass reception of such an overt pigeonhole, and in line with that, our appeal to artists is often predicated on musical reasons, and not sociological or sartorial in conjunction. That said, this EP is as big of a foot forward for Ultrademon as four tracks can represent.

Funny enough, Ultrademon opens the EP released October 9 with an aquatic-tinged jumper. As the track might titularly indicate, “Try Faking It” doesn’t bother to meander or elude. Here, the producer lays a floating, sticky riff and skitters hi hats off the bat before adding on one more melodic line, this one closely reminiscent of something from Dubbel Dutch or Dre Skull’s dancehall repertoire. “Docudrama,” in which the producer takes a turn to indulge in gun cocks and idiosyncratic break beats, feels less slippery but even more sunkissed and beach-inflecting—it makes Lockah’s habitual neon seem like pastel. As it turns out, the EP in its entirety encapsulates as much as it provokes good vibes and a popping dance floor, as opposed to a presentation of tracks that are spun in garish, emotional ambiguity or even more, apocalyptic in sound (“Wasteland” on the preceding album Voidic Charms for example). The EP takes no break in being juicy, fun, and upbeat.

Words by Michael Scala, 29 October 2014. Tags: , | Leave a comment

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