Remember that episode of the Simpsons when Homer gets obese? Calling to warn of an imminent meltdown, the operator tells him that his fingers are too fat to use the number pad. What if your fingers were too phat to operate a SP404; so fat, in fact, that you could hold the world in an embrace? This is Caveman In Japan. Motëm is a neanderthal among samurai, bear-hugging when people around him are bowing behind paper screens. His hands fly slow like a cruise ship over oceans of blinking lights. Skin dripping patterned nature, he holds ceremonies in the woods lit by a candelabra.
Coming out of Hamilton, Canada, and a much-beloved adopted son of Scandanavia, Motëm packs a slow-handed punch. This is his seventh release since Tales From the Cryptid (2010), his first album as the current incarnation of Motëm. Similar to Lil B and RiFF RAFF (whom he has opened for), Motëm has a flair for the social networking game, releasing tunes mostly under his own hypemachine Gebbz Steelo but with glittering gems also on such notables as Flogsta Danshall, Harmonia, Dodpop, Innocuous, and Poisonous Gases. Moreover, like most rappers who cultivate their fame on the internet, his output is amazingly abundant (considering he’s not just rapping on someone else’s beat tape).
Motëm’s sounds are like lone trumpeters on mountaintops crying out their messages to distant kings. Echoing synths drape themselves over beats like swag curtains in a neon window frame. He samples anything and everything, even though this tape has its tendency towards the koto and blissful synthetic textures. He hasn’t let go of his spartan bass hits, that-first-bite-of-a-dill-pickle-crunch claps, and his echoing rim shots though. He seems to also have settled into a freer flow, mischievous but quiet and smooth with rhymes you don’t mind reaching a little for. Continue Reading →
Words by Alex Neuscheler, 20 January 2014. Leave a comment
This year’s first release from the new Sonic Router imprint is an offering from My Panda Shall Fly, aka South-London based Sri Lankan Suren Seneviratne. Suren’s idiosyncratic releases have caught our eye before (and we interviewed him back when his music career was just hitting its stride a couple of years ago), but on this six track EP, entitled Higher, he’s distilled a sound that is drum-tight, securely fastened with an assured sense of individuality.
Stream: My Panda Shall Fly – crac
There are ghostly echoes of MPSF’s garage influences in Higher’s opening track, but even though its drums are frantic, ‘haus/transferring sorrow’ is emotively fragile, the disjointed calibrations of its percussive elements exposing a tenderness beneath. Although you can glimpse brief revelations of fragility throughout the twenty-odd minutes of the EP, there are textures which fight off the softness of sorrow for the defiance of anger – the machinations of ‘crac’, for example, where MPSF makes glowing synths boom with pure menace.
Sonically, Higher eludes pigeonholing more successfully than a lot of the genre-bending releases of the last couple of years. The melodies of ‘ark (spirit servant)’ calls to mind some of Mount Kimbie’s; heated up and then allowed to harden and fracture, whilst ‘fish r friends’, the closing track and one of the EP’s highlights, is beautifully, jaggedly melancholic. Re-locating the organic downtempo beats of artists like Teebs and the Brainfeeder crew to the foggy gloom of a London landscape, Higher seems made for early morning living room congregations, perfectly arranged to soothe the spirits of those paying penance for the sins of the night before.
Higher is out on pea green cassette and digital on 27th January 2014.
Words by Tabitha Thorlu-Bangura, 19 January 2014. 1 comment
Glasgow-based Sega Bodega (who’s real name is the equally eye-catching Salvador Navarette) has been compiling quite the CV on the low. Making sense both geographically and musically, he counts Hudson Mohawke and Rustie as two of his greatest influences and his musical output straddles that same line between extra-melodic hip hop and other electronic based genres. A slew of impressive remixes on the likes of Lana Del Rey, Machinedrum and the aforementioned Rustie along with the odd original have made his Soundcloud page one to watch for the past few years. Of course, it’s not just us, the casual listener, who’ve been tuned in. Promoters and fellow artists alike are also well aware of what Sega Bodega’s bringing to the table and he’s been booked to play out alongside the likes of Lil Silva, Bondax and even Lil B. TYBG.
’34’, his debut EP which also came out on Week Of Wonders, had a particularly cinematic quality. Ebbing and flowing over its course, it ensured you were as as involved in the journey as its creator was. Song Dynasty sees Sega Bodega change tack. Per an interview with Clash: “I wouldn’t really consider this EP an actual EP. I don’t like when people start EPs straight away – I like intros and outros, and this one doesn’t have that. It’s more just for people to dance to, really.”. It will probably be labelled an EP for bureaucratic reasons but to all intents and purposes what we have here is a collection of four glistening, dancefloor ready tracks from the archives, primed for your enjoyment.
Stream: Sega Bodega – Stay Nervous (Week Of Wonders)
Song Dynasty is composed of three reworkings, all of which are based upon material which could be described as mainstream hits, along with one piece of original material. Opener “Security” is a take on crossover hit Heartbroken by T2 (featuring Jodie Aysha). Whereas the original sapped the majority of the emotion from the vocals, Sega Bodega builds around them carefully with more sensitivity and replaces the incomparable bassline that made the original so successful with wistful piano and strings. There’s still that moment of rapturous release when the chorus hits and we take the full force of thudding kicks, crashing claps and some slightly slower than machine gun hi hats. While all of the tracks featured on Song Dynasty operate either side of the line between chaos and calm, Sega Bodega original “Stay Nervous” is the embodiment of this. An unrelenting horn riff drives the chaos and gives the track a martial call to arms feel until the horns drop out and the melody is taken on by a much lighter synth. Make sure you keep an ear out for the wicked key change and glitchy percussion fills. The final track is a reworking of Fergie’s 2007 hit “Glamorous”. Somewhat thankfully unrecognisable from the original for the most part, due to the chopping and pitching of the vocals (although you’ll be pleased to note that the famous chant-along of the title remains). Short but sickly sweet, everything’s pearlescent without ever inducing the nausea that the original might have.
“Work” sees Sega Bodega take on Ciara and Missy Elliot’s song of the same name in what might well be the standout track of the lot. The first time the tension is built, as Missy growls the familiar “When the song comes on in the club, turn it up, turn it up, turn it up”, it’s all a façade and Ciara breaks into her first verse with the relative peace of harps and scattered, but not too intrusive, drums. Second time round the red mist descends and all hell breaks loose. Everything’s so intense, the percussion, the synth, the bass and it’s almost a relief when Ci Ci takes the stage again. What makes the track so enjoyable is how the difference between the two featured artists is both recognised and utilised. Just like in the original, Ciara remains sexy and sultry, whilst Missy is the driving force, barking out orders like the MC we’ve come to appreciate her as.
Stream: Sega Bodega – Security (Week Of Wonders)
Song Dynasty is out now on Week Of Wonders and available to buy here.
Words by Matt Coombs, 13 January 2014. Leave a comment
One of last year’s most notable developments was the continued emergence of a wave of new producers able channelling the spirit of early grime and combine it with an astute sensibility for today’s listeners. Grime’s new school excited us a great deal; so much so that we even dedicated a new mix series to championing its key figures. A man often viewed as part of this new wave is Louis Carnell – better known to most as Visionist. 2013 was a busy year for the London based producer, seeing the release of singles on Berlin’s Leisure System and New York’s Lit City Trax. All this in addition to featuring on This Is How We Roll – the Keysound Recordings compilation which in many ways served as a teaser for what would come later in the year.
Visionist’s latest effort, on Ramp Recordings, nods more strongly towards a techno structure than much of his previous work. Opener “M” has been a mainstay at Truants HQ since we heard Pearson Sound play it on the Hessle Audio Rinse show way back in February. It carries an ominous vibe throughout – whether it stems from its menacing bassline, deft synth work or the re-pitched vocals Visionist uses to masterfully haunting effect. On the flip “Secrets” is awash with vinyl crackle and raspy vocal cuts. It’s perhaps the more floor focused effort of the two and the rolling swing of its moody bassline no doubt has the ability to do serious damage in the club. The single not only caps a strong year for Visionist but – having eschewed the 8-bar structure of some of his past work – offers a glimpse at what his output may bring us in 2014.
Words by Matt Gibney, 12 January 2014. Leave a comment
Towa Tei is not a native New Yorker. He moved to the city from Japan to study graphic design in 1987. A musician by night, Tei met Supa DJ Dimitry and Lady Miss Kier during his first three years of living there. They went on to form Deee-Lite, a dance trio that released the classic 90’s dance track “Groove Is In The Heart” off the album World Clique which featured a verse from the then hot-new-rapper Q-Tip of A Tribe Called Quest. A couple years of partying later, “Jungle DJ Towa Tei” found himself back in Japan where he released his first solo LP Future Listening! in 1995.
Stream: Towa Tei – Technova
The obvious stand out track on this record is “Technova”, a track closely related to the shibuya-kei style of Japanese dance lounge music that emerged from Tokyo’s trendy Shibuya district in the nineties. At the time, sampling was all the rage and different scenes around the world were developing their styles on the same gear. With jungle in London, and hip hop in NYC, this was the sound of Tokyo. The samples taken from sixties French and American pop, bossa nova, and jazz, tie “Technova” closely to the shibuya-kei genre, but it’s the distinct hip hop flow that sets this track apart from the rest of the scene, something he must have picked up from Q-Tip in New York City. A definite classic golden era hip hop alignment can be heard in how the samples have been incorporated into this track, from the subtle piano melody and break loop for the beat, as well as the sample from spoken word track “Fonky Thang” by The Dells (also later sampled by Yeezus himself). But it’s the Japanese sung chorus and space-jazz atmosphere that still keeps the futuristic vibes going strong today. If that chorus sounds familiar to you, it’s because A Tribe Called Quest flipped it on “Find A Way” a couple of years later. Speaking of flipping samples, you can hear a sample of the moon landing on “Technova” (sorry Daft Punk, Towa hit it first!) and in true dance-fashion, Towa dubbed his own tune into an epic two-part sample mecca titled “Dubnova parts 1 and 2.” Peep the too-90s-to-be-true video and album cover below and enjoy!
Stream: Towa Tei – Dubnova (Part 1 & 2)