There’s no questioning that 2012 was Tessela’s breakout year. With just a few records he solidified his sound and spot on the shortlist of unique new UK talent. After appearing on a multitude of labels including 2nd Drop Records and Punch Drunk, it seems fitting for him to start something of his own (this is almost like a right of passage these days). In comes Poly Kicks freshly christened from its inaugural release “Hackney Parrot / Helter Skelter” from the man himself. There’s no word on the direction he plans on taking the label, but from the sounds of this record we’re sure he has a few tricks up his sleeve.
The track that garnered the most hype is “Hackney Parrot”, a jungle and hardcore indebted tune with an infectious vocal. In comparison to what’s in vogue at the moment it stands out and from the handful of DJs we’ve seen reach for this tune it’s a killer. When was the last time you heard a track based around breaks and bass go off so well? The single note bass tone does sound incredibly awkward, but makes complete sense in the context of the track. It’s as if someone mixed a tapered screech in with sub bass. Though everyone will be talking about “Hackney Parrot”, the real gem is “Helter Skelter”, which could potentially be inspired by Paul McCartney (it’s probably not). This one is much less immediate, but revolves around similar sounds, mainly the breaks. We could have easily confused this with Paul Woolford’s Special Request project. The focus here is definitely on the kicks; they are piercing – it’s as if someone’s slamming a door in your face or stomping on stairs with an iron boot. Then an equally retrospective rave’esque melody comes in (think the Peverelist’s “Dance Til The Police Come”). It’s brilliant and in our books more memorable then the flip’s crowd-pleasing vocals and bass. Tessela is kicking off the label on a strong note, now hopefully he follows up with records that come off just as fresh.
Stream: Tessela – Hackney Parrot / Helter Skelter (Poly Kicks)
Tessela’s Hackney Parrot / Helter Skelter is available now on Poly Kicks.
Words by Jonathon Alcindor, 01 April 2013. Leave a comment
The level of buzz and excitement around “Think & Change” should not come as a shock. Since Boddika founded the label three years ago, Nonplus has become one of the most esteemed names in drum & bass, dubstep and techno. Instra:mental – the duo comprised of Boddika and Jon Convex – dominated the label’s early output but recent times have seen the label deviate from its drum & bass roots to showcase music from artists as diverse as Actress, Skream and Skudge. “Think & Change” – the label’s aptly titled first compilation – is the culmination of this departure.
Comprised of five two-track plates, the scope of “Think & Change” is broad – which is hardly surprising for a label that has encompassed sounds from across the dance music spectrum since its inception. Opener “&Fate” is the latest collaboration between Boddika and Joy Orbison. The duo have spent the past two years producing some of the UK’s biggest club hits and while “&Fate” – awash with unstable vocals and powered along by a frenetic bassline, may not fill us with the same immediate frenzy of excitement their earlier work did, this is a track which grows with each listen. Other names familiar to Nonplus are also present on production duties. Germany’s Lowtec is one, following “&Fate” with the stripped-back simplicity of “The Rhythm (Remix 2)”. Fellow countryman Kassem Mosse is contributes “IP Mirrors”, which foregoes his usual deep, lush sounds in favour of a more experimental approach that in parts is almost reminiscent of grime.
Stream: Kassem Mosse – Broken Patterns (Nonplus Records)
Boddika and Joy Orbison return with “Beats Me” and “Big Room Tech House DJ Tool – Tip!” respectively. The latter – whose title is a nod at the description tendencies of the Hard Wax team – was a controversial omission from the digital release and is the latest in a long line of Joy Orbison tracks with almost mythical appeal. Joy Orbison has always had a knack for vocals and proves this once again with “Tip!”. However, it is the shaking bass which really steals the show, building the track away from its hauntingly empty beginnings to its hypnotic climax.
Supporting the Nonplus stalwarts is an array of renowned talents. Pearson Sound’s “Quivver” is as uneasy as its title suggests; its rugged, peripatetic percussion and stabbing synths gloriously frantic in effect. Four Tet’s inclusion on the tracklist was perhaps a surprise to many and while “For These Times” is perhaps out of keeping with the overall dystopian feel of the compilation, as a standalone track it is undoubtedly a highlight. Jazzy in feel, “Times” fuses a driving groove with Hebden’s signature layered percussion. What ensues is simply glorious. It is left to Martyn to conclude proceedings, something that his melancholic tech house burner “Bad Chicago” does this with aplomb.
Nonplus has never been a label to shy away from change or transformation. The very inclusion of Instra:mental and dBridge’s “White Snares” is testament to this. Initially shunned for a release, Boddika’s inclusion of the track is a nice nod to the label’s drum & bass roots. Its disparity with much of the album is testament to the distance Nonplus has travelled in just three years. As a collection of individually superb tracks, “Think & Change” excels. Taking into consideration the broader picture of the itinerant nature of recent UK-centric electronic music, this is a body of work which manages to superbly encapsulate its time and place.
Stream: Basic Soul Unit – Untoward (Nonplus Records)
Think & Change is available now on Nonplus.
Words by Matt Gibney, 29 March 2013. 1 comment
Dutch producer and DJ Coco Bryce has been cooking in the kitchen for well over a decade, but it seems like we’re served a completely different dish each time we come over, though they always smell good and are always nutritious. His refreshingly chameleon nature comes through once again in his newest release on Fremdtunes, the 14-track “Club Tropicana“. Described as having omnivorous musical tastes, Coco definitely presents us with a beautiful spread of saucy club vibes, skweee grinders, and jungle steam. Just loosen that belt and dig in.
The appetizer is “Raw Update,” a vaguely Parisian electro house banger, whose very particular sound echoes in the murky “004.” In the next track, “Polaroid Sunset,” and “That’s Life” we are given something a little more familiar: chopped vocals inextricably attached to bouncing hip hop beats and layered with thick dollops of synth. “Bright Lit,” with its xylophone floating in and out, is a little more gentle and playful. It’s those tracks, plus the haunting boom-bap of “Lily’s Song,” which become the backbone that allows the rest of the record to be fleshed out. His approach is conducive for a lot of cross-pollination and experimentation–and Coco doesn’t seem to be afraid of fusion. “Sonic” is a fast-paced whirlwind of deep 8bit over jungle drumwork, contrasting beautifully with another jungle-inspired yet much more relaxed “Club Tropicana.” With producer Halp on the next track, “Bronze,” Coco bangs out another solid Skweee production. “One Love Holmes,” a collaborative track with Emufucka, sounds like what DatPiff would have sounded like if the ancient Egyptians had internet access. Taking the trap experimentation further, but maybe in the opposite direction, Coco gives us “Lucid” and “Let Me Put My Poems In You.” Both best served chilled, they mix spacey synths, smooth basslines, and in the case of the latter, jazzy noodling in with inconspicuous trap beats that break into seemingly new ground. This smooth trap perfectly epitomizes Coco’s gluttonous nature, not as a showy look-what-I-can-do-mom kind of musical Frankenstein, but simply as a lover of music unafraid of genre boundaries.
Stream: Coco Bryce – Club Tropicana (Fremdtunes)
Coco Bryce’s Club Tropicana is available now on Fremdtunes.
Words by Alex Neuscheler, 28 March 2013. Leave a comment
What’s incredibly great about Lost Trax is that the choice of remaining anonymous since 2006 has not once been a hype tool or more in the limelight than the actual music that is produced. Of course theories were brought forward and speculations were made but it wasn’t till 2010 where they stated in a small interview that Lost Trax was just a small collective of producers, each with their own individual musical projects who get together on occasions to work on music when the inspiration arises. With a joint love for the Roland TR-808, the music produced is often a mould of Detroit influenced techno and classic electro with a great nod to Underground Resistance involved. Since their much lauded ‘The Saturiun System’ debut on Carl ‘Silicon Scally’ Finlow’s SCSI-AV label back in 2006 the group took an extensive four year break before returning with a follow up on the same label. Since then they’ve found a more frequent home sharing split releases with Dutch producers The Connection Machine on Tabernacle Records, which has previously released much sought after records from the likes of Trackmaster Lou and John Heckle. Their first venture of 2013 sees them return once again to Tabernacle, this time on a 12″ of their own in the form of the Hidden Agenda EP.
On the A-side, title track “Hidden Agenda” drops the often emotive sound palette and semi-ambient, spacey dynamics from previous releases and rallies in a more raw and stripped back techno vibe amidst subtle escalating drones. An assortment of rolling snares and big room room kicks drive the track whilst a clean acid line tethers the track together for comfortable club use. The track could almost be said to lend a similar likeness to Midland’s “Trace” yet with added acid goodness and a more busy set of percussion, which is why we see Hidden Agenda proving more popular with DJs than say certain other tracks in the Lost Trax back catalogue. Whilst Hidden Agenda may have these qualities it would however be quite hard pressed to call it the better track of the release. On the B-side, “Creatures” is the more likely esoteric contender to take that title. Returning to the melodic signature sound from past records, Lost Trax merge high grade electronic rhythms and deep space psychedelics whilst wandering through a beautiful arrangement of ear warming and mournful synthesis. However, whether it can stand the test of time as well as the “The Saturiun System” is something we’ll have to get back to you on in six years time.
Stream: Lost Trax – Hidden Agenda (Tabernacle Records)
Lost Trax’s ‘Hidden Agenda’ is available now on Tabernacle Records.
Words by Riccardo Villella, 27 March 2013. Leave a comment
Chaz Bundick occasionally takes off the hat in which Toro y Moi resides in favor of one more dance music oriented (let’s say a neon beanie or something.) We were acquainted with Les Sins through last year’s “Fetch / Taken”, which was also released through Caribou’s Jiaolong. Bundick has cited UK dance music icons such as Four Tet, Caribou, and the Hessle Audio crew as some of his current favorites and it showed in the final result. “Fetch” could easily draw comparisons to a twisted Julio Bashmore or subtly mutated garage. He even pulled a grime sample from across the pond during the track’s breakdown. For “Grind / Prelims” he lets a bit more of his pop sensibilities into the fold. They may not be at the heart of the track, but it’s definitely wearing a shirt drenched in them.
This record is undoubtedly about the A-side, “Grind” – it’s the most accessible and upbeat of the two. It takes a page or two from Bundick’s usual book sounding more live than the average house track. With a constant stutter built off the kick and guitar licks the synthesizers and Rhodes are just an added bonus. It’s safe to say Bundick himself sang the vocals on this track and that’s one of the major appeals to it. His voice adds another layer to an already catchy tune. We can see this one going down extremely well toward the end of many sets. However, B-sides don’t seem to be his strong suit. “Prelims” sounds a bit like a stripped back Caribou knockoff, especially with the harps and snake-like shakers. There’s almost too much UK influence on this one and after such a strong dance-orientated A-side this is a shocker. Still, it’s worth picking up this record for “Grind” alone – it’s one of those tunes that people will be thinking about when reliving moments from the night.
Stream: Les Sins – Grind / Prelims (Jiaolong)
Les Sins’ Grind / Prelims is available now on Jiaolong.
Words by Jonathon Alcindor, 26 March 2013. Leave a comment