Truancy Volume 102: Deadboy

deadboy

In 2010, we saw the release of tracks that are now considered classics such as Wut, Work Them, CMYK, Maze and of course a little edit of Drake’s Fireworks by a South London producer named Deadboy. At the time, it was a remix that gained a lot of attention and, more close to home, it became an all-time favourite for us here at Truants. A lot has changed since then, but Deadboy’s outlook has firmly always been to make all types of music with no limitations on genre – an outlook which has since seen him gain a sizeable following, be it through his numerous releases on labels such as Numbers or his varied DJ sets. We had the pleasure of catching him play at Bussey Building in London near the beginning of the year and seeing him comfortably work his way through dancehall, grime, garage, house and bassline remixes of Kate Bush to a packed out dance floor was incredible and refreshing to say the least.

With exclusive tracks from a forthcoming release on Local Action alongside cuts in collaboration with Murlo and Gongon, our 102nd Truancy Volume sees Deadboy guide us through a host of freshly produced productions as well as music from similar contemporary peers. Clocking in at an hour in length, Truants favourites Moleskin, Sudanim, Throwing Shade, M.E.S.H and Mssingno all feature as well as tracks from Young Thug and Chief Keef keeping everyone on their toes.

Hey man, hope you’re good. From the tracklist you sent over we all got a bit excited over the news of a Deadboy release on Local Action. Having solely released on Numbers since 2011, how did this come about and was the EP planned with a particular style in mind? “It came about just through chatting to Tom from Local Action and sending him some stuff. We seem to be into a lot of the same stuff at the moment, so it just kind of made sense to do it. Plus I’ve been into the recent Inkke, Slackk and Shriekin stuff on Local Action a lot. He was up for this collaboration soon so we just thought, why not?”

Is a possible Deadboy album still in the works? I know you’re constantly scraping them, but I read you were working on one around May with a ‘mixtape’ theme to it. “No, it’s still not happening. I don’t think I’ll ever do an album as Deadboy, to be honest. There have been times where I’ve felt like I was forging towards one but then thought no, this is too forced. If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen naturally.”

You’ve very comfortably dotted in and out of different genres over the years with your productions whilst still retaining a familiar Deadboy sound. What do you think has contributed to this? “To be honest, I just love music, all music. I could never be happy saying that I just make house music or grime. I think you’re limiting yourself massively to do that. Music is art. Even dance music, which is pretty functional. I would never want to limit myself to one medium. You’ve got to follow whatever intrinsic force it is that drives you to create wherever it goes and not think in terms of genre or who its going to be aimed at or whatever. I just make whatever it is I want to hear that day without any forethought.”

Are there any of your peers that keep you hungry and on your toes production wise? “A few people. I think Dean Blunt is one of the best artists of our generation and Murlo is so creative melodically. Dark0 seems to be channeling Vangelis or something on some of his more beautiful numbers. Lots of people I’m into at the moment. It’s a really good time for UK music again right now after what has been a bit of a malaise for a couple of years.”

What were the influences with “Return”? Was the track based around a particular mood you were in? “At the time, I was listening to a lot of 70s cosmic disco, new age music and reading a lot of 70s science fiction. I was really into the idea of the 70s vision of the future being utopian as opposed to the dystopian future that pretty much takes over in futurism from the 80s onwards. Nowadays anything science fiction is always a dystopian future, there is no sense of wonder and possibility, it’s all fear and we are heading towards a nightmarish future. I made a few tracks around this idea at the time and Return was one of them. It’s kind of supposed to be the return of some character from a space voyage or something, which is why I was so happy with the video Thomas Traum made, it was perfect for the theme of the song.”

What has changed your perspective of DJing the most since releasing your debut record? “For me personally a lot has changed. To be honest, for the last couple of years I have been floundering a bit and struggling to find new music I really cared about. A DJ is only as good as the music he plays and I felt I couldn’t rely on all this old stuff, and was not really deeply excited by any new music for a while. A sort of house and techno malaise fell over everything. I was looking for music all the time but not finding anything new I could really connect with. I would go to clubs and be unconvinced that everyone was actually really really enjoying themselves. I decided to ignore the zeitgeist, pretty much ditched any house music from my sets apart from the odd bit that would work and play whatever else I wanted, which at the moment is dancehall, bits of RnB and hip hop, grime, bassline, some funky bits, much more of a return to the sort of thing I started out playing. Luckily there has been a massive resurgence in great 140bpm ish grime influenced music that is genuinely experimental and avant garde while at the same time goes totally off on the dance floor. These days I am spoilt for choice for new music to play. And we are slowly seeing a return to gunfingers and rewinds as opposed to long blends and trance like repetition. I am really really enjoying DJing again which is great.”

Where and how was this mix recorded? Was there anything in particular you were trying to convey with this mix? “At home with Serato & Technics 1210s. I wanted sum up the stuff I’m feeling right now and the sort of thing I’m playing out. Usually if I’m doing a longer set I’ll start out at a slower BPM and play a bunch of dancehall and RnB and stuff but I decided I’d go straight in at 130ish. Obviously I had the home listener in mind a bit more than I would in the club so some stuff such as the Yung 4eva track got in there.”

What else can we expect from you in the near future? “This record on Local Action and a collaborative record on Total Fantasy by me and Gongon under the name Pyramid Scheme. Me and Murlo have a few tracks we’ve done together which we will look to release as well. Total Fantasy is going to pick up again this year. We have some great music lined up and are working with some great artists for sleeve art and videos.”

Would you rather have to do a deep house remix of Sam Smith or have to visit the Saatchi gallery every day for two hours for a year? “I would do the deep house remix of Sam Smith. Luckily this could be done without the use of ears and very quickly. I would then take all that money from the posh music mafia PR war machine and spend it on destroying the art industry. Too many people are content to be told what is good. This is why the Saatchi gallery is full of fucking terrible “art”. These people have bought their fame, or earned it through connections. This is why nobody can relate to art. Art that we are exposed to is produced by a very narrow band of society, people who have been bought an art education, then been bought or bought their fame through relentless PR. The same goes for most popular music. A very narrow band of already rich kids get bought their fame through endless expensive and usually underhand promotion. On the other hand I am lucky that the world I operate in is less affected by that. Obviously there are a lot of people who have had a lot of help to get there, been bought equipment or studios or promotion or whatever but I and most of the other people I know have done this solely through passion and while holding down shit jobs and saving to buy cheap equipment. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being rich and an artist. Until recently all artists would have come from wealthy families, but there is a problem when all of culture is created and curated by one narrow band of society. Ultimately when there are a million guys and girls making beats every day, if you’re not good enough all the PR in the world won’t make your track go off. That is the great leveller. I am currently trying to write about the state of contemporary music, art and culture and how everything is shit. It should make for cheery reading if I ever finish it. But also things get better all the time. With the spread of information and the internet, the barriers to entry to art and the need to have industry and media curatorship is slowly disappearing. The art industry and the music industry will disappear and decentralize and everyone can go back to making beautiful things for its own sake rather than for a career or money. “The job of the artist is to save the soul of mankind. Anything less is a dithering while Rome burns” (Terrence Mckenna).

Rant over, Peace and Love, Deadboy.”

 

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Words by Riccardo Villella, 07 October 2014. 4 comments

Recommended: De Leon – De Leon

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Anonymity is a funny game. For every shy, retiring bedroom producer who claims “it’s just about the music, man” there may well be a celebrated artist attempting to cash in on a hyped new style without the shackles of their reputation, or someone else equally well known hiding their own connections and position from plain sight. For whatever reason, nascent US cassette label /\\Aught , interested in “cassettes / data / ephemera” according to its Soundcloud page, has decided to forgo biography entirely with its artists. Thus far the label has quietly releasing fascinating tapes from Elizabethan Collar and Topdown Dialectic (who has previously released on Tailings and Further). Their latest tape comes from De Leon.

Juan Ponce de León was a Spanish conquistador who joined Christopher Columbus on his second expedition to the “new” world. After some unsavoury subjugation of indigenous peoples in what is now the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, he travelled to Florida in search of the Fountain of Youth. There is a town in Texas named after this man, and Google searches lead to a forthcoming Tequila of the same name. Whether any of this is tied to the artist in question is impossible to say, but such is the nature of anonymity that the reviewer or listener is free to indulge his or her own fantasies, applying an imagined history on to incorporeal sounds with no apparent origin. When pressed, the label’s spokesperson would say nothing more about the release than that “its source is a series of Gamelan compositions that were later electronically treated and mixed”. For the uninitiated, Gamelan is a style of Indonesian (predominantly Javanese and Balinese) music, largely based around a series of percussive instruments.

What we seem to have here are Gamelan rhythms chopped and looped to form a steady 4/4 electronic pulse. “01” (the tracks are untitled, of course) opens with a thrilling rattle of drums occasionally punctuated by upper-register hums and a wide, deep throb of bass. That rattle ebbs and flows until a point midway through when each element comes together in time and rhythm. Sporadic blasts of that bass take the listener away from the Gamelan context, a synthetic reminder of the artifice at the heart of this presentation. “02” builds upon seemingly “original” percussion around the mallet-laden harmonics of the recorded instruments. The blunt beauty at hand is delicately offset by the restless energy of the drums and the searing terror of a bassline seeped in dread. Bells clank and muffled groans appear throughout, adding an extra layer of bizarre disquiet. The brief judders of “03” feature Gamelan sounds stretched and layered, while a kind of harmonic percussion skiffle jerks forward in unending motion. Things get deep again with “04”, the nervous rattle of drums and sci-fi soundtrack bleeps surrounding a gentle thrum of gongs. The closing track, while just as mysterious as the rest, offers a glimpse of brightness, a hint of the rising sun after a dark night. Melodic bass and drawn-out samples meet brash strikes, repeated on beat for an effect both chilling and reassuring.

Recontextualising those foreign elements could be seen as a violent act – cultural appropriation by a western conquistador, just like this mysterious artist’s namesake. That said, there seems to be no fetishisation at work here, no parody of Indonesian dress, no lush forests depicted for the sake of portraying an “other” world. Just a blank cassette tape on which appear five pieces of intriguing experimental music that comes housed in a clear zip-lock bag.

De Leon – De Leon is out now

Words by Aidan Hanratty, 06 October 2014. Leave a comment

Premiere: Mount Bank – 316

Donky Pitch Truants

Happy fifth birthday to Donky Pitch! As any keen reader of ours will know, we’re big supporters of the Donky Pitch imprint and have continued to showcase and highlight the talent coming from their camp. To mark their fifth year of existence (congratulations guys) they’ve put together a compilation of tracks from everyone on their roster; from TV veterans The Range and Slugabed, to interviewee Lockah, Ghost Mutt, Tokyo Hands, and many more. As purveyors of new kids on the block, the boys over at Donky Pitch have sought fit to bless Truants with a track premiere of their newest signing Mount Bank.

Mount Bank, hailing from Brighton, UK is a perfect fit for Donky Pitch. He slides so seamlessly into this compilation that it’s a wonder he’s only just joined the crew. His vibes are oniric and can be heard and encapsulated completely in his track “316”, which we are lucky enough to share with you today. We hope you enjoy his efforts as much as we do, and will join us in celebrating five years of Donky Pitch in Dalston tomorrow!

Stream: Mount Bank – 316 (Donky Pitch)

You can grab the whole compilation over at Donky Pitch’s Bandcamp here, go git!

Words by Jess Melia, 03 October 2014. Leave a comment

Recommended: Call Super – Suzi Ecto

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“I think you’ve got to aspire to something more than loop techno.”

So said Houndstooth-affiliated Call Super in an interview for RBMA last year. While you could never mistake JR Seaton’s three releases for the fabric offshoot label as something so reductive (yet nonetheless effective) as loop techno, they’ve still been very firmly focused on the dance floor. Anyone following his interests outside of these few but superb releases, from his Berlin Community Radio show and his back and forth with the similarly minded Beatrice Dillon on London’s Resonance FM, to the often abstractly political postings on his Tumblr page, will be aware of his expansive taste and range of interests beyond the club. It should come as no surprise, therefore, to learn that Suzi Ecto, JR Seaton’s debut album, is a rich and vibrant affair.

Stop-start motion, fuzz and distortion abound on opener “Snipe”. What seems like a gauzy piano tape loop comes to the fore, stretched and squeezed in time while crickets and television audio chirrup and groan underneath, as uptempo clicks lend structure and pace. It’s a surreal introduction, evocative of sinister forest dances in the same way that Akkord brought us to the desert. Things take a surprisingly brighter turn with “Dovetail”. A bouncing riff floats over syncopated bass kicks and rattling drums, as laser drops and playful hi-hats add even further levity. Vast swathes of synth then throw this initially whimsical track into a flurry of heartache – an overall effect that’s reminiscent of the more playful tracks Call Super produced under his Ondo Fudd alias for The Trilogy Tapes early this year, mixed with the thoughtful stomp of his Houndstooth releases. While eminently club worthy, “Dovetail” is vivid and enlivening, far from functional and enticingly melodic.

Stream: Call Super – Sulu Sekou (7″ Version) (Houndstooth)

“Sulu Sekou”, the album’s ostensible single, is built around two main single-bar loops, with mid-level quavers intermingling beautifully with crotchet bass notes that split, swing and reconnect throughout. The hallmark of this track is a bizarrely unsettling clarinet solo, unsettling not because of any lack of quality, but rather because it feels so unfamiliar in this synthetic techno world. Anyone who remembers Yphsilon, however, which he released as JR Seaton in 2009, should recognise well that lilting clarinet. The artificiality of ‘the box’ here is offset beautifully by the occasional screech of the reed, an unavoidable by-product of the very mechanics of playing this woodwind instrument. “SE”, built around an industrial complex of mechanical squawks and bleeps, feels like a Trojan horse through which to smuggle in such glistening melodies. These beautiful tracks demonstrate the complexities of Seaton’s ideas and the grace of his compositions. Suzi Ecto does take a few trips to the floor, first with “Hoax Eye”, all juddering thump and imposing bass. Even more imposing is the throbbing clamour that abounds in “Rosso Dew”, which for all its bulk manages to remain elusively weightless.

The album’s only misstep, if it can even be called such, is “Raindance” – at four-plus minutes it can hardly be called an interlude, yet it never feels like anything more. Swirls of precipitation drift across detuned hi-hats while a muffled voice (presumably Call Super’s own) lazily sings “see the rain”. It’s in a similar vein to Pearson Sound’s two ‘Raindrops’ pieces, yet outlasts each without capturing their delicate beauty. It may yet become a sort of DJ tool for the creation of hazy blended bliss by DJs like Donato Dozzy, yet in the album context it feels off kilter, the sole track to feature such explicit use of the human voice. Furthermore, coming from someone so adept at choosing track titles that leave space for critical or human understanding between the page and the ear, ‘Raindance’ seems almost insipidly functional. More successful in capturing the transient beauty heard on tracks like “Leosengor” is “Okko Ink”. Like a recapitulation of the album’s themes – the push and pull of the opener, the rubato woodwind solos, the shimmering haze that covers the whole affair – it defies the convention of Seaton’s pre-Suzi Ecto work, yet here feels perfectly, beautifully of its place.

In one of those elucidating conversations with Beatrice Dillon, Seaton announced that there was a precursor to “Acephale II”, which appeared on Houndstooth earlier this year. This track closes the album, coming to life with free-form phrases surrounded by a storm of noise and melody. A hint of the familiar “Acephale” theme unexpectedly stands out amid this commotion, and then as quickly as it arrived it vanishes. It’s a breathtaking finale. Ever confounding expectations, Call Super teases with a glimpse of something recognisable, teasing out elements previously unnoticed, yet snatches it away just at the point of release. In the same interview quoted above, Seaton said: “I listen to lots of different music and I make lots of different music. And that means, hopefully, that I can wake up in five years’ time still interested.” Suzi Ecto stands therefore as Call Super’s grand artistic statement and a rebuke to those who would see him make tracks like “Threshing Floor” over and over again. With this album he’s done more than just move beyond “loop techno”; he’s created a sonic world inspired and shaped by the club music with which he’s made his name, which of course provides fodder for imaginative DJs. Yet, the album also feels more like an expansive piece of art and a body of work to be admired and enjoyed.

Call Super – Suzi Ecto is out now on Houndstooth

Words by Aidan Hanratty, 02 October 2014. Leave a comment

Recommended: ATM – Xerox

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1080p is steadily becoming one of the premier house/techno cassette labels, as such coming to grips with electronic music being a medium “more for the mind than the body.” It’s not just the analogue-birthed bleeps and bloops, the withered drum sounds or the generally languid vibes that give the label its steady reputation. Rather, it’s how the songs are presented and at such a consistent basis that seems to have afforded the label a nascent niche in the tape world. Nearing the threshold of becoming a Vancouver staple in just over a year, 1080p, headed by Richard MacFarlane, has over the summer surpassed the 20-release mark, with July’s Xerox pegging number 18. The project is a transatlantic joint venture in hybridized, abstract techno from UK duo Perfume Advert and the Brooklyn-based M/M, here as ATM, who’ve respectively comprised the seventh and third releases of the label as separate makers last year. Like the instalments that preceded, Xerox has been dubbed to cassette: a chunk of the renewed contingent that is inclined to the medium have for good reason started to pin their ears toward 1080 for its continued clinic in texture attainment. A couple months ago, Fact introduced their audience to the label by picking 5 favorited releases; Xerox, marking further MacFarlane’s honed ear for quality, was included and is as good of a point of entry as any other into label’s already sprawling lineup.

Like the dry and electronic process that xerography is, Xerox presents mostly combinations of arid, sanded drums adhered to desolate atmospheres, though as they are styled here don’t come off as simple and unchanging as your machine at work. Espousing Perfume Advert’s seeming penchant for slow-grooving house beats but eschewing M/M’s subterranean murk (except for maybe “MTA”), the tape moves pretty evenly back and forth between brisk-paced melancholy and immersive, ambience-based landscapes. Certainly don’t skip here, but “Pre-Modern”, whose nocturnal landscape the listener can nearly feel with ambient swells that play the perfect foil, is one of the earliest tracks on the tape that imparts virtually a dual sensory experience; with a proper fade out that underlines the idea, it gives the impression that this, somewhere, impossible as it may be, was once heard in nature. The preceding “Failed Interaction” is particularly hazy, where deep chugging kicks and short R&B abstractions are the timekeepers of a faded, deconstructing melodic structure. Xerox is a tape with wonderful, nuanced texture abound.

Stream: ATM – ‘Xerox’

Xerox was released July 15 and can be purchased on Bamdcamp, with few cassettes remaining.

Words by Michael Scala, 01 October 2014. Leave a comment

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