The label at hand, ASL Singles Club, seemed to be onto something from the start with its first single in the final quarter of last year, and has since justified any sense of nascency we’ve felt the label displayed from it. Trailing well-documented singles from Nick Wisdom, Autem, Rook Milo and Heartbeat(s) and 8prn—the latter couple who helm the Vancouver label alongside Devin Cheffers— it’s Brooklyn producer/dj and Broke City resident Sleepyhead who most recently signed his ‘Untitled’ EP to ASL, getting the 2014 ball rolling for both himself and the host party. Billed by ASL as “quintessential house tunes,” ‘Untitled’ is just that: a collection of frill- less, straight-ahead grooves. The EP as a whole typifies an ethos (that sometimes extends to even clothing) the label has amassed, and also that of New York’s underground circuit—it being generally frill-less but at the same time managing to conjure good musical conviction and dexterity with stuff that’s always worked.
Sleepyhead starts ‘Untitled’ with the most UK-informed number on the project with “SayU <3 Me”, which, if it’s any reason for it, features production aid from CZ. The soulfulR&B chops and playful lead line foretell of a catchy, mobilizing release, which the EPdefinitely is. But the producer’s formula changes for other tracks, if only marginally, toconvey different emotions that call for different circumstances. The foremost examplewould probably be “What’s Inside”, in which Sleepyhead sounds less distanced fromhis days on Embassy or Symbols, beckoning the late night or early morning with anaffirming diva refrain, gravitating pads and low-slung bass. Combinations like these areobviously nothing we haven’t heard before, but they form Sleepyhead’s calling card andit’s awesome when he comes through.
Stream: Sleepyhead – Untitiled (ASL Singles Club)
Words by Michael Scala
Cop ‘Untitled’ for $4.99 on Bandcamp.
Words by Truants, 26 February 2014. Leave a comment
One of the best things to come out of Miami since DJ Khaled is rising rapper Nell. Atlanta is awash with young rappers jostling for our attention, but just a stone’s throw away, somewhere low-key in Florida (Zone 4 Carol City to be exact), you can find him steadily building a name for himself. Metro Zu and the Raider Klan (along with all affiliates and past members) are two young crews that have been putting their state on the map, so if you think that Pitbull and Flo-Rida are its only exports, think again. Granted – it is the home of heavyweights Ricky Rozay & (lightweight) Gunplay, but the Maybach Music Group has long since flown the nest. Automatic associations of Vice City will invoke images of white suits, pastel shirts & calfskin loafers but fear not, Nell has not traded in the lo fi, monochromatic aesthetic that we have become accustomed to for palm trees and a Ferrari Daytona just yet. That might be real life for the likes of William Leonard Roberts II & co but Purrp and his cabal – who have firmly established themselves as keepers of the Memphis and Houston sound - are yet to cash in unlike their $ worn enemies in NYC.
Stream: Nell – 94′ documentary PT.1
Releasing the impressive The Revolution ‘94 mixtape in August of last year, his latest offering, Vice City, serves as a testament of his work rate, consistency and hunger as a young MC. The combination of a distinctive flow and an ear for quality new age Phonk productions has set him out as one of the most promising members of the Klan. He has proved many times that he is just as capable of producing stoner anthems like the newly visualised “R.I.P Pimp C Freestyle” or “Hvzy Tripz” from his #305-Grind as he is murky, thugged out junts that could both soundtrack and incite any number of illicit night-time activities - the menacing “Who Want It” instantly comes to mind.
Stream: Nell – Who Want It
This tape, however, opens with the contemplative and melancholic “Everlasting Thought” where he questions the ills of modern day life, stating : ‘Pharaoh economy / what about the minority? / common denominator the dominant target / why must we suffer ‘cus some of my people starvin?’ The track poignantly ends with his echoed voice repeating ‘It’s a youth world order, Black Power… the new world’s in the making.’ A clear reiteration of views expressed on tracks like “Ridaz” for those who may doubted his commitment to the ‘cause’. “The Block” and “Craps (Interlude)” pair him with eerie minimalist productions that sound like they were recorded directly from a secret chamber in the Vatican. He makes it clear that the Florida that he inhabits and the one that Mickey and Friends call home are worlds apart. At times you could be forgiven for thinking that the sun even shone there. On the patriotic “From The South” he raps, “dungeons raised us” alluding to both the influence of ATL’s Dungeon Family and the Klan’s aptly named Blackland; and if you didn’t get the picture the ominous strikes of thunder and strung out bassline line should make it clear.
The darkness that overshadowed the first few tracks is dispelled by uplifting productions courtesy of Showoffbeats on both “Mackin and Hangin” featuring Spaceghostpurrp and the self explanatory “OG Ganja Smoke”. Showoff has previously produced for Curren$y, who Nell cites as a “modern influence” and well, we all know how much Spitta loves weed, so it’s no surprise how well the pair of songs play out. A verse from him wouldn’t have hurt either.
Guest verses are kept strictly between Klan members (where was Simmie?) and family with the likes of SGP, Amber London, Rell Hoe, Carol City Marc, Cash Money signee T.Rone, ex Klan member Denzel Curry and a few other internet shy contributors. The production credits are shared Between Purrp, El Camino Black, Showoffbeats, the supposedly retired DJ Smokey and a few unknowns. Vrsy Jnes’ ‘Stick Em Up’ gets pick of the bunch just for sampling Sade’s “Kiss of Life”.
It’s not quite up to par with The Revolution ‘94 so he must be saving the best for his debut album The Declaration of Independence. That said, it is another solid tape under his belt. Well-balanced between light and dark, pensive and aggressive, retro and current . Hopefully we’ll get some visuals to keep the anticipation high.
Vice City was released 14th January 2014. Stream/Download via Livemixtapes.
If you ever find yourself cruising through LA’s Chinatown with an itchy hand on the radio dial you may just land on pirate station KCHUNG. Like all broadcasters that skirt the guidelines, they operate from an undisclosed studio somewhere in the neighborhood. Thankfully if you’re not within their transmitter radius you can tune in online at anytime from anywhere. While you’re locked in there’s a solid chance that you’ll come across Mutual Slump, the show helmed by producer Afterhours. It’s his second outing for the station after “Field Recordings of the Afterhours” which he co-hosted. Like it’s predecessor Mutual Slump is a hazy affair, decompression vibes to ease the transition from weekend to weekday. The records he plays are a cross section of drone, musique concrete, trip hop, spoken word, dissonant jazz and other tunes of a low or no BPM persuasion.
Slices from many of those styles appear on Lowlife, his latest record for Not Not Fun. Much of the EP is rooted in the sample heavy downtempo grooves of the 1990s but Afterhours melds them seamlessly with the other, more experimental, sounds that appear in his sets. Since a mix is worth at least a thousand words, he sent one over that should give you an idea of what you’re in for if you tune into his show or pick up one of his records. He was also chill enough to chat with us a bit about KCHUNG, digging in the dollar bin, and copping field recordings from unexpected sources.
We’ve been cruising around to your mix a lot this week, what do you think is the ideal time and place to listen to it? “While being mugged somewhere between sunday night and monday morning.”
You’ve done show on pirate radio station KCHUNG for quite a while right? What can someone expect if they tune into “Field Recordings of the Afterhours”? “They can expect to hear silence, ’cause that show is sort of defunct now. But I’ve been involved with KCHUNG more or less from the beginning, about two and a half years. “Field Recordings of the Afterhours” was an ongoing project between me and my friend and collaborator Maxfield Hegedus. Musically, it focused mostly on trip-hop and downtempo electronic, particularly cuts from the fifty-cent bin, things we considered to be lost classics in some minor way. From the start, though, we were interested in abstracting the structure of our sets, always improvising our mixes and pushing the element of sound collage with endless stacks of Environments records, spoken word, lectures and so on.”
Your records combine elements from many different genres so deftly. Has the similarly wide scope of your radio show inspired your production? or vis versa? “Ah yeah, absolutely. The radio show has profoundly informed and augmented my musical practice over the last two years, particularly with this record. There are a fairly limited number of trip-hop records; it’s a genre that existed in its classic form for what, like four or five years? 1994 to 1998? And so, as that well began to run dry, we were incorporating more jazz, more deep house, more generalized downtempo. Not that those genres are wildly different from each other, but the emphasis shifted to sustaining that mood of nocturnal melancholy, regardless of the style.”
Likewise, we may just be projecting, but your work has a very “LA” feel to it. Has the city influenced you in any way? “If it’s influenced me, it’s been in actively keeping any sort of LA aesthetic out of my work. That’s probably where the rain sounds come from. The parts of Los Angeles I like the best are the ones that resemble other cities: parts of downtown, Chinatown, whatever. This is a very nice place to live, but I don’t like looking at it.”
“Lowlife” sounds like it’s peppered with field recordings. Do you often carry a recorder with you? What are the sounds that you gravitate toward most? “I record things on my phone sometimes, that’s about it. Snippets of conversation or just some fluke of pleasant ambient sound. None of the field recordings on the album are originally sourced, though. It’s all youtube or sound effects records. I don’t know of a better source than youtube for that kind of audio, almost everything is there.”
I can’t believe we’re asking this question, but somebody’s got to take a crack at it! When did you first sit down and start producing? Do you have a specific way of approaching a track? “I started working on proto-Afterhours material sometime in 2011, I guess. Playing around with samples as my interest in the guitar waned, a way to make music with less of my own trace on it. After going on a few 100% Silk tours with LA Vampires and living with that style of music night after night for long stretches of time, my inclinations just kind of naturally moved in that direction. I don’t think I have a specific way of approaching a track, or at least I try not to. It usually just begins with a sample, something I hear on the radio while driving or at home digging through garbage, then the rest of it falls into place somewhat arbitrarily.”
And finally, this is something we ask all the Californians we chat with. If some Truants found themselves in LA where could we snag the best taco? “I don’t know, the best places are probably the ones with the longest lines. Which I notice as I drive past them, on my way to eat somewhere else.”
Susumu Yokota – Tankui
9lazy9 – Big Six
Rypdal, Vitous, Dejohnette – Will
Franklin de Costa – Souldbound
Anenon – Shibaura
DJ Cam – Mad Blunted Jazz
El Mahdy Jr – From Hate To Smoke
Biosphere – Iberia Eterea
Words by Stephanie Neptune, 24 February 2014. Leave a comment
Mancunian Boomkat-offspring imprint Modern Love certainly has its hallmarks, from the manufactured decay of Demdike Stare to the cold warmth of Andy Stott. One prominent aesthetic of the label is its multiple-shades-of-grey approach that encases and enshrouds much more than embraces its listeners. In the midst of all this lies Rainer Veil’s latest, the “New Brutalism” EP. The names speak for themselves – the duo’s moniker and northern creative roots resonating with how well the release matches with a bed of rainfall, and the title of the EP’s non-abstract representation of the architectural style that serves as both muse and material throughout; even the record sleeve is adorned with it in the form of Preston’s locally iconic bus station.
“New Brutalism” is essentially a dystopia that hasn’t washed away, one that’s become part our reality so much so that it’s accepted as mundane. To listen to the EP is to take a stroll through Chernobyl, to contemplate fragments of a past wrought awry, a future snatched away. Where Lee Gamble’s junglist archaeology would investigate, “Three Day Jag” is an atmospheric experience that doesn’t have you specifically looking for anything. Where Actress’ inner city expeditions would refine details so doggedly the microscopic slides would pixelate, “Negative Space” reveals the surrounding bigger picture at once, the presence of the looming gargantuan structures demanding to submerge you in shadow. Where Burial’s lone wanderings beneath the starlight of street lamps would kindle innate emotion, “UK Will Not Survive” happens to some other entity, and the listener merely observes. The opener’s bluntness is doubly so on reflection, it being the most forthright affair on the EP as layers of ambience morph into sandpaper self-destructively grinding against each other until those initially comforting and familiar bass movements are drowned out completely – Rainer Veil opt to make direct statements rather than express a feeling or challenge inquisitively. They purposely obfuscate the sharp-edged aspects on pieces in the same way different ranges of difficulty are pressed onto videogames to shape a learning curve, and exploring the climate loses priority as it becomes a matter of self-realisation; a slow waking. Sure enough, New Brutalism never seems to consider a room or an abode, or anything inside of the concrete – everything’s outside, ringing out, reflecting off of the immovable, inevitable and inscrutable. Environmental, yet completely inorganic. The feelings perpetrated by this atmosphere are haunting at times, like drum and bass tinnitus that sirens on whim during “Three Day Jag” after leaving the early-hours dance of fading broken beats. Other times, tracks stipulate stop-and-stare moments of rumination more than anything else, most conspicuously present on “Run Out” where memories planted in the surroundings bore their way into the mind.
Rainer Veil may have channeled another, more subversive piece of commentary on New Brutalism, present in their soundset of UKG, jungle and industrial techno. Their seamless juxtaposition of influences is commendable, and for all the different artist comparisons, New Brutalism isn’t really about the duo at all so it doesn’t matter that they haven’t forged a synonymous sound as of yet. They’ve painted a vivid picture and served it in the form of a puzzle, and perhaps their reinterpretation of the landscape (and soundscape) can be considered particularly faithful to the reality. Brutalist architecture thrived in preparation for a future and circumstances that eventually eluded reality, its popularity in turn inflicting its own unintended consequences. In the same way, New Brutalism is a great example which shows how the suppression of 90s rave culture has come to define current trends as genres coexist – nay, conflate – in the same soundspace where the only distinctions between them are the foundations laid by others, echoes of memories which belonged to those before us.
Words by: Tayyab Amin, Photo credit: Thomas Valentine
Words by Truants, 24 February 2014. Leave a comment
The fifth mix in this series comes from Jacques Gaspard Biberkopf, ram-jam full of his remarkable original material. Again we take a step back from grime’s purer strains, instead honing in on the international peripheries of a style that continues to force us to consider the limits of sound, music and dance. The mix provides a fitting counterpoint to Miss Modular and Sudanim’s lusher installation, JGB works with many of the same styles as the Her gang – Jersey and grime most prominently – yet smothers them in industrial gloom and concrète austerity. It’s obvious that this is a producer who has learnt the lessons of 4’33”, Russolo, Stockhausen, Black Dice, Wiley, DJ King Tiger-Z. In Actress’ plain words, people who “[develop] a sense of space and a sense of ambience through noise.” Not only is the mix shrouded in ambient sounds – fire crackles, running water, someone weeping, birds chirping – but his own trax are imbued with a distinct spatial awareness and a strong emphasis on sound design. This makes for a vivid experience in the mix, it’s cinematic, both in structure and visual lucidity. JGB’s trax are sparse and dank, recalling in particular the weightlessness of Wiley’s ever-influential devil mixes. This quality is aided by the extensive use of voice, which appears to be a central theme of his work. ‘Grey’, for example, seemingly floats about on its own accord in drumless suspension, yet is equally as modular as any of the banging drum trax floating around at the moment.
Simultaneously running through the veins of this mix is the paradoxical relationship between ‘dance/club music’ and ‘art music’ (and I, in these circumstances, approach both of these terms as flexibly as possible). This dialectic is almost tangible in JGB’s mix, which flows between more danceable and more cerebral spaces. Yet, as I found out in our discussion, for Biberkopf the dance and the club environment is ultimately irrelevant. We might contrast this with the position of OG ‘nuum general Simon Reynolds, who believes true ‘artistry’ for dance music lies in its steadfast functionalism, its ability to mutate and innovate on the floor. A good example is footwork, where the relationship between producers and dancers birthed something shockingly new. Then again, perhaps we need not draw lines in the sand, as JGB notes, “in the end, I don’t know if I hear that much of a difference at all.” Either way, its not often you’ll hear Divoli S’vere and Roly Porter blended with such ease.
Got a few recs this time as well: a must is Inkke’s 8-bar pack, the perfect extension to your party package collection. Twwth’s new one on Signal Life is basically pure rewind material, full of badbwoi vocal snips and funny-big drops, while SD Laika’s Idiot Thug mix is just very, very exciting. Looks like there will be some amazing sounds on his forthcoming release for Tri Angle. If you’re left thirsty for more, try out some new heat: Finn, Kid Antoine, Taskforce, Famas ’93, Banshee, all with sporadic but excellent soundcloud activity, are some to keep an eye on. But really that’s just the tip of the iceberg, there’s been an astounding amount of good activity recently, it’s overwhelming.
JGB also took some time out to DnM over e-mail, with poetic, touching, deleuzoguattarian results and a dissection of Berlin that recalls Dean Blunt at his finest.
Hey Jacques! Tell us a bit about yourself, what have you been up to lately?
Lately it’s trying to be flexible.
Trying to take control.
Trying being free and responsible.
Been really interested in spaces.
Traveling a lot.
You live in Berlin, right? What has your experience of the city been like?
Don’t know if I could say that I live in Berlin.
Moved here not that long ago and been traveling a lot, not spending too much time here.
My work is here and I pay the rent here. But I go back to my hometown a lot, since there’s too much left. The space I feel most confident creating is still there.
Love about Berlin that it is so classless and that it doesn’t care about money that much yet.
Love how it constantly interrupts your reality in unexpected ways.
Love the freedom of it.
Love the fact you can stand hungover stoned in front of Reni’s Saint Sebastian on Sunday.
Love the technology nerds here.
It’s too lazy.
It’s a city that’s being built for consuming, not for creating.
Considering the whole myth, the music scene here is actually pretty boring right now.
Not that productive anymore.
Most things feed off of other cities.
There are no strong communities, no bonds between artists.
Too many interns.
Best things musically right now – Berlin Community Radio and Rashad Becker’s album.
The mix you put together is really eclectic, blending modern club sounds and stuff like Roly Porter and Chris and Cosey. What unites these artists for you? How do you approach mixing in trax that are perhaps less dancefloor friendly, or is that irrelevant for you?
I DJ a lot, but I don’t know if I ever had the distinction between club and non-club music. For most, and most of the time, club music is experienced at home. The myth of the Club is mostly constructed out of it. The Club doesn’t matter for me – it’s a space with a group of people, their energy and certain kinds of interiors, lighting and architecture and etc. You either dance or you don’t.
DJ culture is mostly disgusting and revolting, so the only way I can justify still being a DJ is if I try to risk and explore as much as possible. Trying to create unexpected scenarios, unexpected energy flows, discovering new connections while still being intelligible, sensitive and in control. People seem to enjoy it. I wouldn’t want to call my sets eclectic, since no there is no trying to be eclectic. In the end, I don’t know if I hear that much of a difference at all.
In my eyes, what unites all these characters, from Jersey producers to Stephen Vitiello to your own productions, is an emphasis on sound and sound design – people who are concerned with sound, eg timbre and texture, rather than music, eg harmony and melody. Would you say that’s an accurate description?
Yes, quite true. Probably following the traditions of Russolo’s “Art Of Noises”, musique concrete or industrial. Grime did it also. Constructing these urban monuments and relics. Appropriating sound detritus of digital and media. I don’t know if I can it call it a conscious decision, but in recent years, was never too concerned with musicality. Much more interested in sounds and symbols and trying to create this sort of audio theatre.
Harmonies anesthetize too much, and most melodies are marketing tools by now. What you call sound is more powerful and interesting at constructing something that provokes or resonates for me.
Could you tell us about some of the MCs you’ve worked with and the impetus behind those projects?
Did a few non-memorable collaborations in the past, a few with dancehall MCs and a few with rappers. Few years back, started working with MC gone (slam)poet gone copywriter, Messiah. He was the MC I grew up listening to, and who inspired me a lot and who I looked up to. I love his ambition and courage, built on similar ideals to the sixties-seventies American avantgarde. Easy to talk to him because we have a similar upbringing and ideas. He’s the only MC I’ve worked with in recent years. Sad that everybody doesn’t speak Lithuanian.
Our project mostly deals with urban living, language in the urban environments and urban scenarios. Hope we’ll finish the album.
I also played in a multidisciplinary band/project that tried to find its way around experimental music and poetry, video art, theatre and dance.
The human voice is something you seem to work with a lot, often in a dismembered state. What is it that intrigues you about vocals?
I love how incredibly expressive human voice can be. And how it’s universal, immediate and accessible. And how wide the spectrum of its expressible emotions are. It’s very potent. It’s fundamental to our identities. It’s, like, the most important communication tool. I feel that the voice, the body and the nature are at really interesting moment right now, since there are a lot of transformations going on. Curious to see something so personal, so essential to our being, changing its definition. Like does Auto-tune do a similar thing in our relationship with our voice, like Photoshop does to our relationship with our bodies? Most of the voices you hear in music right now are auto-tuned, pitch-perfected. Like does your Twitter make you shut-up and etc.
I love Jersey and how it works with voices. It’s like a machine of desire. Sound of being truly horny in the 21st century. Fragmented, multi-linear, multi-faced, discordant. The rhythm is very sexual. BPM of masturbating. Face of a generation.
And, like, on the other side, voices and bodies are infinite data and in the right conditions they are capable of expressing of what got left out, flattened or forgotten. They still can express something real and sincere.
Tell us about the mix – where, when and how was it recorded?
Well, a lot of the tracks are mine.
Wanted to share them, since most of them are just getting old on my pc.
What are your plans for the future? Have you any releases slated?
Really curious about the future right now. Want to not lose what I have and to get more. Worked in a musical last year, was one of the more fulfilling experiences. Love the theatre space and the way theatre connects and speaks to people. Hope to study theatre. Hope to get better at my job.
I have an album that was finished last September. It’s influenced by one particular ecological theoretical experiment. Worked on it for quite some time. Some cool guys wanted to release it, but we couldn’t agree on some of the things, so it got delayed and delayed. Probably will just spit it out for free and pretend that it won’t get lost in the Web. I don’t put that much importance on releasing.
Bonus question: I noticed a reference to Deleuze in the title body without organs. I was wondering what effect, if any, he’s had on your stuff?
Yes, it is from Deleuze. Tho the name of the track came after making it. Was looking through my notes and the image resonated a lot with the track (original is different to the one in the mix), the decision was quite intuitive.
I read a bit of Deleuze, I’m amazed by his insights. He probably did impact my worldview a bit, but I don’t know if any of this dripped down on my creations.
It’s interesting that you dismissed the club space before, because I still have a very special connection with it which I feel is really primal. Actually if you think of the club as a body without organs – “a body populated by multiplicities” but ultimately held down by underlying reality and unity (in the right circumstances), directed by all sorts of ‘surface’ noise, which is what all electronic music is – then things get interesting. I reckon Deleuze would have found the body he was searching for in the club, dancing is ‘how we relate to the body’, after all. But maybe I’m too optimistic.
It’s special indeed. It’s place and importance in western society and culture is peculiar and strange now. I think this primal connection gets exploited tho. You activate and establish your style in the Club. The way you move, the way you “Relate To The Body” is/becomes fashion. You freeing yourself, your desire to find yourself in the collective becoming mostly an experience in brands and commodity fetishism. Not breaking away, but passively identifying with the spectacle. Cost of joining. I don’t know.