Throughout his four albums released on Miasmah under the moniker Kreng, Pepijn Caudron’s music has played on the tension between intense, ominous drone and more “light” – even pretty, modern classical motifs. When delicate bell tones occasionally break through the murk of sombre violin strings and mournful piano, the affective impact of one is made more powerful by the other. This sort of work with contrast is not uncommon, but Kreng has become arguably one of its best exponents in the contemporary field of experimental and modern classical music. Those contrasts are still present in “The Summoner”, but what sets it apart is a departure from more cinematic or theatrical drama towards a far more personal perspective, and it’s more single-minded quality.
Caudron has enjoyed a long and critically successful relationship with film and theatre. A number of his soundtrack pieces were released by the label Miasmah as L’Autopsie Phénoménale de Dieu. The follow-up, Grimoire (which also found home on Miasmah), was written as a standalone work but retained many of the distinctive qualities of the “L’Autopsie…” – listen to any of the immersive pieces from the two and it is easy to imagine them as accompanying a tense scene from a cult horror film. By comparison, The Summoner was borne out of deep personal loss of three friends, with the narrative of the album using the 5 stage Kübler-Ross model of the grieving process as principal foundation.
On the opener “Denial”, what sounds like the gentle rustle of leaves is accompanied by a ghostly hum, a hollow clattering and a distant rumbling drone. The sombre atmosphere is pierced by sharp, crescendoing strings which disappear as suddenly as they appear only to return with an even greater intensity, like pangs of sorrow and realisation breaking through the fog of emotions giving name to the piece. The blunt naming of each piece may initially give an impression that the music reductive and flattening out complex emotions, but that is not the case. “Anger” is not a uniformly loud, aggressive composition, but one that provides a sonic depiction of rising sense of unrest that one may go through. The overall tone is different to the previous track, with a sense of lament replaced by a more oppressive, uniform one which gradually peaks in a series of grinding, harsh strings which are then subsumed in a bed of of nervous bleeps and rolling, thunderous drums.
And so on and so forth – Kreng guides us through a series of compositions, the basic palette of processed strings, drones and field recordings remaining the same but the nuances in the deployment of said elements providing a thematic and emotional depth and deeply evocative quality. The apex of the album is “The Summoning”, a collaboration between Caudron and his compatriots and doom metal group Amenra which serves as the artists interjection into the traditional narrative of grief. In an excellent, in-depth interview he describes it as “an imaginary last talk with my loved lost ones…a chance…to share a moment while knowing it is the last time you see each other”. In longest piece of the album, in an expression of deep catharsis loud guitar riffs and drums dramatically crash into the preceding contemplative mix of piano, distant rumbling percussion and drone.
As is often the case with art that successfully deals with macabre or nominally “dark” themes, Kreng’s previous works, despite their overarching atmosphere of doom and gloom, also contained glimmers of a (perhaps somewhat wry, but nevertheless) humorous nature. Appropriately when one considers the topic being explored, there is no wry smile peeking from behind the curtain here. Instead, the album closes with the lightness of “Acceptance”, in which the tense, haunting mood of the previous 5 pieces is succeeded by a quiet, gentle melancholia.
It seems very difficult – and perhaps even unnecessary, to generalise the feelings that one may go through when dealing with such traumatic personal events and further to project them onto others. However, speaking from personal experience, what makes this album compelling is that Kreng manages to capture with his compositions – in particular with the use of silence and build-up, the non-linear, non-structured form that emotions can take and make this into a highly affecting and relatable record.
Kreng’s Grimoire is available on vinyl, CD and digital from Miasmah
Words by Eradj Yakubov, 23 April 2015. Leave a comment
It’s hard to believe it’s been over a year since Berlin resident Jacques Gaspard Biberkopf provided us with the fifth edition of our Functions of the Now series. There we were given a taster of what Biberkopf does. As Tobias put it so succinctly “JGB works with Jersey and grime most prominently – yet smothers them in industrial gloom and concrète austerity” and he did so to stunning effect. Obviously we weren’t the only ones taken by Jacques Gaspard’s unique outlook and we’re now presented with Ecologies, the first EP on Truants favourite Kuedo’s new label Knives.
Really, the fact that Kuedo picked up on Jacques Gaspard makes perfect sense. One of the most alluring things about Severant was its outstanding synth work and melodies which made it feel inherently natural and human against a somewhat more artificial backdrop. Ecologies conjures up similar images with the opener “Air. Coltan. Carbon. Lithium.”’ The synth line sounds like something the ex-Vex’d man would put together himself. “Spirit” is perhaps less obviously melodic but cranks up the imposingness up a level, with the choir samples making it sound vast and monumental. Meanwhile zooms and clicks contrast with squelches which manage to continue the motif of nature and the artificial co-existing. It’s this rooting in nature that makes Ecologies that bit different from those that JGB has been lumped in with. It has undeniably got an investment in modern day technology, but the whole thing feels natural and human. The samples of water running and orgasmic moans in the tracks alongside windscreen wipers and other familiar everyday sounds are an obvious indicator of this. In a world where biotechnology is now so prominent and will only continue to influence our lives, Ecologies feels more present than almost anything else out there.
“Waters”, which we were originally given a taster of on his FOTN, fits slightly more snugly with other current grime artists, recalling the likes of Sd Laika in how it drifts into horror-inspired territory. It’s intense and probably shouldn’t be listened to in a dark room on your own. The rhythmic makeup of the EP is what sets it apart from similar sounding records. The slow, heavy and doom-laden “Black Soil” contrasts with “Age of Aquarius” sonically, atmospherically and structurally. The latter turns out to be definitive highlight of the EP, the booming, racing percussion working harmoniously with bird chirps before descending into an absolutely riotous jungle-esque monster. It’s obvious JGB isn’t solely interested in creating a concept EP, he also has an eye (or ear) on the dance floor too. Ecologies is an impressive exploration in both contemporary club sounds and rhythms; creating a unique view on the current coexistence of nature and technology. Ultimately, a very exciting first foray for the producer.
Words by Antoin Lindsay, 21 April 2015. Leave a comment
You would be forgiven for thinking that Big Dope P spends all of his time running Moveltraxx, such is his dedication to spreading the music made by the artists he loves. While it’s true that a new release from Da Movelt Posse is never far from your ears, it’s also undeniable that Dope P is a snarl-inducingly mean producer in his own right. After putting out records for the best part of a decade, he’s arguably reaching an unprecedented peak in popularity right now and, with the release of new EP Hit The Blokk, the ceiling is about to be shattered. The title track has been doing the rounds for a while now with its ecstatic anarchy and mind boggling energy. Indeed, a few lucky Truants have witnessed it destroy the dancefloor already. It’s joined on the EP by two new originals, one of which is a collaboration with Feadz, and three remixes from virtuoso artists at differing ends of the dance music spectrum (four if you cop the vinyl!). With so much going on at the moment for Dope P, it seemed only right that we got in touch. Not only did we learn about the new release on Nightwave’s Heka Trax label, but also about his rich history as a producer, how he got to where he is today and much more besides.
You’ve spoken in interviews before about what influences your music; a massive range of stuff from hip-hop, house, disco etc. I was wondering about how you first went from being a fan to a producer. Was there a specific moment you remember deciding that this is what you wanted to do, and how were those early days of making music? “I remember there was this musical instrument shop at the mall, near where I lived in Paris south suburbs. I spent so many Saturday afternoons there because they had an MPC with sound kits to test. I couldn’t save anything or load my own sounds but that’s how I taught myself how to use one. I was 13 years old at that time. I also used to go to a friend of mine’s place after school. Her big brother who owned some samplers and synths let me record some stuff. I started making hip-hop/break beats and he sent a few to rappers, that’s how it started for me. This guy became one of the guys I founded Moveltraxx with later when I was 17. I discovered dance music at 15 when I found out that the 70/80s funk and disco records I sampled were also used in house music. I preferred how they sounded when they were sampled by Paul Johnson, Basement Jaxx or Todd Edwards because it was more creative and I was fascinated by the way they made tracks without the obligatory need for someone to sing or rap on it all the time. So I started to make some hybrid house/hip-hop/freestyle tracks and also started to collect records and learn how to DJ. The sound I was looking for didn’t really exist at that time but the Chicago ghetto house movement was definitely close. Deeon, Slugo, a few Detroit cats like Mr. De and some Van Helden stuff too.”
From that time until now, I feel like you’ve really developed your own sound. Especially with the stuff you’ve done in the past year or so, it doesn’t sound like it could be anybody else. What are some of the characteristics of a Big Dope P track? “This thing about the fact I have my own sound is a feedback I often get and that’s probably what I’m the most proud about, especially in this copycat era. You can say my stuff is dope or say it’s shit, but at least it’s mine haha. I always find it hard to define my own music with words though so I don’t know; all I know is that it remains faithful to what I wanted to make when I was a kid.”
What’s your studio set up like at the moment? Are you still championing the MPC? “Yeah, the MPC is the heart of my set up because everything ends up there, even the vocals I record. All tracks are made and finished in the MPC. I’m moving a lot so all I need is an MPC and a laptop to do some edits. When I need synths or vocals or specific stuff I just go in different studios to record that.”
No doubt a lot of people find your music through remixes you’ve done. Big ones for Joseph Marinetti, Feadz, even Duck Sauce recently. Is your approach to those different than when working on originals? “I see remixes as collabs where I have to make an original track with another artist’s sounds. I love doing them and I try a lot of new stuff there. I’ve been super lucky to be invited by huge artists and labels to do some too.”
You live, or at least spend a lot of time, in London now, right? Was the move from Paris musically motivated at all? I know you’ve spoken quite negatively about the club scene there before. “I travel a lot through the music I’ve made and London has always been the only city in the world I wanted to move to. Also, I have a love/hate relationship with Paris and France that is not really related to music to be honest, more like the global atmosphere. Politics and stuff like that. I love the UK and I feel so good here. I’m also very often in Birmingham where my girlfriend teaches French and I love this city too. I go back to France at least once a month though. Of course, I also enjoy living in a city that has a real electronic music culture, where I can hear my shit on the radio and plus you guys have Nando’s haha. There is a lot of talent in France but the club scene/magazines/radio suck so much that it’s almost impossible to build anything solid with fresh and original ideas. There are a few people still trying to make that change though.”
I wanted to ask about Moveltraxx too. Your first release was in 2007 I think, which means you’ve been in operation for an age, especially with the number of labels that come and go nowadays. How has running a label changed in that time and what do you think are some of the factors that makes one successful? “Having a vision, being really passionate, doing it for the love is what it takes. Don’t create a label just to create a label, make sure you have something new to say and to showcase. Don’t be afraid to work a lot and don’t do it to get some recognition, that shit is lame as fuck. If you think you have something good to offer that can have a positive impact, let’s go. The thing that’s changed over the years is that the “underground” spirit’s kinda disappeared. So many people have nothing new to offer and just try to jump on the “sound of the moment”. The likes/views/plays race on social network fucked shit up too. Super lame ass stuff getting tons of plays and “artists” thinking they’re the next big thing, then totally get out of fashion in 6 months and disappear. We have kind of a “mainstream” music model in the scene now. Not everybody of course but this is right there, we can’t deny it. On the cool side, I think it’s much easier to put music out than it was before.”
I see Moveltraxx as a label that pioneers sounds from around the world, giving them some recognition before most people had heard of them. As an example, you guys were putting out Teklife tracks in 2010. Would you say that’s a big part of your mission? “When we started in 2007 we didn’t really have record label ambitions. It was just about putting out tracks we made on vinyl so that they’d exist. Then before going further, we wanted to promote the Chicago scene we loved at a time almost nobody else was giving them love. Old school guys like Waxmaster and new heads like Rashad. With today’s footwork explosion and labels doing represses of old school ghetto house tunes we’ve almost forgotten that, a few years ago, rap vocals on top of raw and fast 808 beats wasn’t hype at all. You would be surprised by the number of influential DJ’s that left shitty feedback on our releases and then emailed us 2 years later saying it’s dope and asking if they can get the promo. It’s the same for Jersey Club. We’ve released DJ Tameil, Sliink, Tiga, Jayhood stuff. Now everybody wants to sound like them. We’ve never really tried to be on something before others, it’s just the music we always loved. If people wanna wake up 5 years later it’s their problem. We’re doing this for the love anyway so we’ll be there with or without success.”
So “Hit The Blokk” comes out today, what can you tell us about the EP? It seems you’ve had some good feedback on it already. “I’m super excited about it, the feedback has been pretty amazing so far. I couldn’t be more happy. About the EP, it consists of 3 tracks, made in June, August and December 2014 and there are collabs/remixes from artists I love. Rustie, DJ Earl from Teklife and Ikonika. There will also be a special white coloured vinyl edition that will include a bonus remix from Brick Bandits’ Tim Dolla. It’s coming out on Heka Trax which is Nightwave’s record label.”
How did you first link up with Nightwave? “I remember getting a message from a friend of mine a while back with a link to her dope Boiler Room set because she’d played some tracks from me and the label. I think we met in Paris when she played at Social Club with Sophie and then she booked me in Glasgow and Edinburgh at her amazing club night “Nightrave” with Eclair Fifi & The Blessings from LuckyMe. Turns out not only is she one of my favourite DJs, but she’s also a beautiful human being and we became very good friends. There aren’t many people I love and respect that much in the game. Her and Feadz are like my big brother and big sister. After releasing on UTTU and Svetlana Industries she decided to launch her own record label. I made a remix for her track “Luxor” on the first release so I’ve pretty much been around since the start.”
I was wondering why you decided to put it out on this label rather than your own. “When I moved to London, Martelo invited me onto his show on NTS. I played “Hit Da Blokk” and “Momma On Da Flo” (the collab with Feadz) for the first time there, and a few days after I started getting messages from big labels wanting to release those. The problem is nobody wanted both of them, some just wanted to make a single with Momma and others just wanted Hit Da Blokk saying the two tracks together were two different vibes and that it would be hard to market. Some bullshit like that. It’s important to release stuff and share your music with people that really understand and appreciate what you do, which is the case with Maya. I totally trust her and I’m very honoured to release on her imprint as I’m a big fan of the previous Heka releases too. Her tracks “Scooter”, “Magic Carpet”, “Shut It Down w/ TT The Artist”, “Hit It w/ DJ Deeon” never leave my crates.”
How do you go about choosing who to ask for remixes? There’s always a good variety on your releases. “I remember sending “Hit Da Blokk” to Rustie and he really liked it. A few months later he said he wanted to remix it, what an honour! The remix he made is so good. This guy is amazing, super talented, very humble and cool. He reinvents himself and never does the same record two times whereas he could just be doing Glass Swords over and over again. He played some new new at his London show last week and looks like he’s about to change the game again soon. For “Momma On Da Flo” me and Feadz had this track that has a strong Chicago ghetto house feeling so I thought it would make sense to ask Earl for a footwork take on it. Teklife or No Life ya know. Ikonika is the only one who I didn’t really know personally. We’ve been receiving each other’s promos since 2010 but never met or anything. I was a big fan of her second album and when she did that last EP “Position” on Hyperdub man, I knew I wanted her to make a remix for Ibogance.”
What does the future hold for you and Moveltraxx? Are you working on anything at the moment? “Right now I’m cooking up some surprises around the “Hit Da Blokk” EP release. I’m also working on two new special records. Some very cool remixes for artists and labels I love coming soon including one for Basement Jaxx we did with Baltimore’s TT The Artist. I have this new monthly show in London on Radar Radio and I’m going to the US soon for a few gigs. With Moveltraxx, we’ve launched this new release series called Street Bangers Factory. We’re about to release Volume 3 and we also have new records coming from Mighty Mark, Dudley Slang and more.”
Big Dope P’s Hit Da Blokk EP is released 20th April on Heka Trax across all your favourite digital platforms. Keep your eyes peeled for the vinyl.
Words by Matt Coombs, 20 April 2015. 2 comments
We’ve had a few Irish born producers grace our Truancy Volumes in the past, be it Krystal Klear, Boya and Orquesta, but apart from that you could say we’ve been slightly slacking on that front. Having recently moved back to Ireland after living and studying in London for a few years we’re happy to have another Irish producer, Hubie Davison in the mix for our 115th Truancy Volume. With a background in studio composition from his studies at Goldsmiths, Hubie’s productions have seen him land comfortably into the eclectic output of Berlin based label Leisure System, who have put out two releases from him in the last two years. With the temperature in the UK continuing to get warmer and artists such as Glenn Jones, Chic, Full Force and Omar-S featuring in his Truancy Volume this mix could be treated as a brilliant continuation to last weeks summer-tinged mix from The Large.
Hey man, thanks again for the mix. Been on heavy repeat with the sun being out recently. Just want to start by asking if you could tell us about yourself and your history with music and producing? “Hey guys, glad you’ve been enjoying it, thanks! Well, I grew up in a musical household, and always had music around. It was a pretty long time before I listened to any electronic stuff at all; I guess I really fell in love with blues and soul early on, playing guitar and keys from a fairly young age. Around the time I hit my twenties I got into club music and DJing, and the same curiosity that led me from blues to guitar led me from electronic music to laptop producing, before eventually getting serious about it and studying studio composition as a postgrad.”
Can you tell us a bit about Bernard Parmegiani? I understand his pacing and editing in his compositions have been a big influence on you? “Parmegiani was the first of a list of electroacoustic composers that I was introduced to when I began studying at Goldsmiths in London. Electroacoustic didn’t grow quickly or easily on me at all – as with any music, you’ve got to learn a vocabulary that allows you to interact with it, and the first thing that really struck me about Parmegiani’s music was its pacing, which I’d describe as this innate feeling of logic in an otherwise arbitrary framework of sound. In other words, every sound that Parmegiani places in a work seems to be there in a way that makes total sense, and couldn’t have made sense in that way to anybody else. It’s a sort of collision of instinct and taste. And he did it all on f*cking tape. Unreal. In case anybody reading this isn’t familiar with him, Parmegiani was a French composer associated with GRM, and a good place to start is with De Natura Sonorum.
What is a session in the studio for Hubie Davison like?. Do you have a regular routine when it comes to working on tracks? “I can’t say I have a regular routine, really – I think it’s good to diversify as much as possible. I try and use different equipment and vary techniques as much as possible; alternate between out- and in-the-box, live & sequenced. I am trying to be more disciplined, though – I used to work mainly at night, which is a habit I’m trying to break out of, and I’m understanding more and more the virtues of a tidy studio”
You’ve had two releases on Leisure System. Could you tell us how you first hooked up with the label and your time with them over the last two years? “Michail from Leisure got back to an email I had sent asking for feedback on demos, and had a lot of positive things to say. I liked the label a lot already, and got on well with the guys when I met them in Berlin, so I was pleased to be involved – the label’s reputation for eclecticism is still something I have a lot of respect for, and the opportunity to play at their parties has been great too!”
I’ve been told some of the stuff you’ve been working on recently is a slight far cry to your past releases on Leisure System. Could you possibly tell us about them and possible influences on the direction. “Hmm yeah – it’s still very much stuff I’m experimenting with, but I’d say that the main difference is that a lot of it includes my vocals. It’s actually a plan I’ve had for a while; I really wanted to get comfortable with production and the sort of sound palette I liked before trying to add vocals, but now feels like a good time to start including them. I’d roughly say that what I have at the moment is a sort of down-tempo vocal electronica, but some of the tracks veer more towards soul, some more towards a hip-hop groove, that sort of thing. I’m working on more dance floor-oriented stuff too, and before any of the aforementioned comes out I’d like to release some of that.
What can you tell us about the mix you’ve done for us. Was there any particular theme in mind when working on it? “It’s all stuff I’ve come across in the last while. When putting a mix together outside the club, it’s always a bit strange to have the time and resources to make decisions and changes after the fact, but also strange to not have any sort of feedback from a crowd as you would when playing live. I try not to think too much about the context it’ll be listened in, and also not to mess with it too much, to strike a balance. If it makes you want to get up and dance, all the better!”
Full Force – Alice (Ecrof’s Favourite Mix) [CBS]
Glenn Jones – Meet Me Halfway There [S12]
Omar-S – Set It Out [FXHE]
Project Pablo – I Want To Believe [1080p]
Chic – Good Times (Hubie’s edit)
Weekender – Theme From Weekender [Toko]
7 Citizens – Five Ten [Lack]
Sonofdistantearth – GAZA2 [Lobster Theremin]
L. Rooche – Tundra [Ino Ino Records]
Roy Davis Jr. – Jack Da Rhythms [Clone Jack]
Head High – Hex Factor [Power House]
Taskforce – Club Tool [Silverback Recordings]
Call Super – Hoax Eye [Houndstooth]
Words by Riccardo Villella, 16 April 2015. Leave a comment
So many rnb remixes/refixes/edits from people that don’t even like rnb.
— Mr Mitch
It must be easy to take apart a track that means nothing to you, chopping up lyrics and ad libs until they become little more than empty signifiers; Cassie’s heavy breathing little more than a hint at sensuality, an Ashanti hook a play at longing. Why is that sampling these hooks became so prevalent? From Jacques Greene and James Blake’s refixes to Disclosure’s early work, ‘Love Cry’-era Four Tet and even Tony Lionni’s ‘Found A Place’, the cannibalisation of early-00s r&b hits has been a major theme across the world of dance music for some years, and, of course, featured quite often on these pages. It’s easy enough to tell when someone genuinely loves a genre — see the contributors to this Local Action comp, for example — but there are so many cynical hack jobs that it goes deeper than fashion; there are no #deepbrandyalbumcuts here. It’s thus a relief to learn there’s still some life left in the idea.
What’s surprising though, is seeing a Kate Bush song feature on a pack of r&b-type edits, least of all an inarguable classic like “Running Up That Hill” (rockist tendencies notwithstanding). That’s not to say that Kate’s not been sampled or remixed over the years — from Utah Saints to Ashley Beedle, to Young Edits and (forgive me) Coldplay, her work has evidently been inspirational and influential. With ‘Kate’, Loom provides an interesting point of entry for Peace Edits, a four-track release on Mr Mitch’s Gobstopper Recordings. Loom takes a re-sung version of the 1985 song and utterly eviscerates it, a true digital shred. High-pitched bleeps lend 21st-Century emotion, a synthetic crunch making any beauty inaccessible in a true volte face. An unrelated intro and bridge theme leads into a truly heart-rending swoop that appears after 27 seconds, and again at 4.06. It’s the high point of the track, a sign that Loom is capable of conveying deep and unexpected emotion. A similar brand of emotion runs high in Strict Face’s “Alice”, which takes the still familiar riff from (DJ Jurgen presents) Alice Deejay’s “Better Off Alone” and reformulates it as a sort of plaintive lullaby. Not for nothing did Mr Mitch himself use the track to close out his Anti-Valentine’s Day mix for Dazed, while the track also featured at the close of Logos’ recent Resident Advisor podcast. It’s fraught with tension, empty space and stately chords suggesting real longing. Not only does he replay the main theme, he reformulates it, improvising slightly as the piece moves forward, even dropping out notes as if he’s too caught up to play each one.
Released just before his debut album Parallel Memories, “Don’t Leave” saw Mr Mitch revisit Blackstreet’s “Don’t Leave Me”, the follow-up to “No Diggity”, plucking its vocodered intro and chorus cry, repitching both and reframing them in a similarly anguished yet entirely reconstructed mood. For “Dru”, he takes a different approach. Sampling another all-male r&b group, this time Sisqó’s Dru Hill, he takes a series of words and lines from 1998’s “How Deep Is Your Love”, layering and modulating them to form something new, while retaining their recognisable identity in a manner that’s both respectful and loving. While bass and accompaniment abound, it’s not until the final minute when Mr Mitch’s own synth harmony joins in, gracefully timed against the newly formed chorus line. Things close with bittersweet celebration in “T”, from Silk Road Assassins. Opening with some choral ebullience snatched from T-Pain’s “I’m Sprung”, its vocals give way to grime-laden bleeps and an overpowering bass theme, just as emotive as that moment in “Kate”. It’s the kind of track you imagine playing when you fall to your knees in tears as the rain begins to pour. An electronic horn redolent of Vangelis or Kuedo or whatever in between sends the emotion even further, the cascading trap beats rattling gently but not without fire. While many seemed shocked that, wow, T-Pain can really sing when they saw his Tiny Desk Concert for NPR last year, this notion denies him any artistry, so it’s a joy to hear that approach embellished and foregrounded.
Mr Mitch’s Peace operation began in October 2013, when he opted to make “spaced out versions of other grime tunes” rather than go on the attack. Taking that approach and applying it to tracks outside of this world has proven that for every hackneyed take on a radio heater, there are still artists out there who can build something fresh from such samples.
VA – Peace Edits is out now on Gobstopper Records. Buy here.
Words by Aidan Hanratty, 15 April 2015. Leave a comment