Review: Cam’ron – Ghetto Heaven Vol. 1

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Ghetto Heaven Vol. 1 is spectacularly late. Originally slated for a July 4th release, Cam’ron’s first mixtape in nearly a year and a half opens with a peanut gallery of voicemail grievances bemoaning the lack of new material from the Harlem rapper. The messages complain about being “tired of listening to “soft ass rap…I woke up crying the other day for no damn reason” and “more n*ggas out here wearing skirts than b*tches” (slightly ironic, given Cam’ron’s pink jacket-wearing and Range Rover-driving past). The only voicemail that Cam actually takes the time to answer is from Halle Berry’s assistant Denise, who turns out to be yet another dude yelling at him about how the tape better come out October 1st, or else. Despite the three-month delay, impostor-Denise is probably pleased because Ghetto Heaven Vol. 1 did end up dropping by the new deadline—and it’s a strong indication of Cam’ron’s signature sound, for better or for worse.


Stream: Cam’ron – Dat All 

Ghetto Heaven Vol. 1 is messy, but not necessarily the mid-00s style of messy that gives Cam’ron mixtapes their classic charm. Gone are the days of redlined Hitmakerz beats and DJ Kay Slay yelling over the beginning, middle, and end of every track; instead, there are samples from the Lion King, the Golden Girls theme, and Cults, to name the more colorful choices. Cam’ron is no stranger to interesting samples (he’s rapped over Carmina Burana and Cyndi Lauper on the same album), and these borderline-goofy selections are just a different method of challenging the expectations of his audience. It’s doubtful that a Golden Girls sample is what that angry voicemail caller had in mind as an alternative to “soft ass rap,” but Cam’ron’s ability to juggle unconventional samples with gritty verses is part of what propels him beyond the herd of mediocre New York rappers. What’s stuck around from the idealized Cam’ron of a decade past, thankfully, is his outstanding gift for wordplay. Lines like “still moving weight, I-95/ a I-80 hoe, 95 pies/ fuck a 9 to 5, air max ’95/ watch flew in from Germany, that’s how time flies” from “Think You Need Love” indicate his often (poorly) imitated mastery of internal rhyme, while “ten hoes/ three O’s/ two homies and an orchestra” from “Dat All” bears the classic patterning of his sparse but sharp delivery. There are few rappers who command attention as effectively as Cam’ron does while using so few syllables. His bars are short, lethal, and memorable, which makes them perfect for Tweeting: likely another reason his popularity has endured despite his thinning output.

His sense of humor hasn’t gone anywhere either, and so we get hilarious lines like “the Lenox Ave Forrest Gump, I’m on a long run” and “not Jamaican but I gave her my jerk sauce.” In the eternal quest to stay relevant, Ghetto Heaven Vol. 1 has plenty of bits about social media as well: there’s a track called “Instagram Catfish,” and “I’m an OG/ emoji mad face” might best encapsulate the fusion of old Cam’ron with 2013. You’ve probably already seen Tweets quoting Tiff the Gift’s “Instagram Skit,” where she cusses a girl out for “liking [her] mans pics on Instagram.” Despite his absence on the track, it’s impossible not to imagine him cracking up in the studio at this scenario. Recorded telephone conversations are another classic instrument in Cam’ron’s rap toolbox, an additional display of his talent for adaptation. Not only is Ghetto Heaven Vol. 1 cognizant of the Internet-addled, shifting rap landscape, but it successfully embraces it as well.


Stream: Cam’ron – Instagram Catfish

Cam’ron’s Ghetto Heaven Volume 1 is out now. Download via DatPiff

Words by Gabriel Herrera, 18 October 2013. Tags: | Leave a comment

Recommended: Rival Consoles – Odyssey

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The swell is important to Ryan Lee, aka Rival Consoles. “I realised that hardly anyone has done that in electronic music,” he says. While that may not necessarily be true – Throwing Snow, Stellar OM Source and Jon Hopkins have all used it to great effect in recent times – he’s certainly on course to making it his own. ‘Philip‘, the standout track from Odyssey, his latest release for Erased Tapes, ebbs and flows with the power of truly great emotion. The opening moments see the delicate push-pull of rubato quavers, crescendo and dimmenuendo, crescendo and dimmenuendo. This swell carries on throughout the track, even as harsh plucks and feather-light percussion floats around this main theme. Three minutes into the track a sudden stop and a sharp intake of breath seem to indicate closure, instead leading into another minute of more frantic push and pull. On an entirely different tip, ‘Voyager’ takes a bright, almost tropical melody and pitches it against squelching effects and, again, swelling, sliding synths. It’s even clear from the eponymous opening number that warm, sumptuous chords are Lee’s stock-in-trade. An ever-rising phrase that begs for resolution sings over a plodding, one-note bassline, while crisp percussion holds it all together masterfully. It’s dancefloor ready, but exudes a lustre that sets it outside the realm of simple club fodder.

‘Rebecca’ is a buzzy, playful number, switching between virtuosic melodies and obtuse layering at will. A short vignette, it displays a touch of frivolity compared with the angst-ridden ‘Philip’. ‘Soul’, featuring Erased Tapes label-mate Peter Broderick, is a reworking of the vocalist’s ‘Proposed Solution To The Mystery Of The Soul’, featured on last year’s These Walls of Mine. A funky, stomping number, it takes Broderick’s brooding vocal and injects it with power and pace, closing the release with an even more, dare we say it, soulful palette than one might have thought possible. All told Odyssey is a successfully diverse collection of tracks, with enough consistency of sound to negate any sense of waywardness, as well as fitting in perfectly alongside the more classically minded releases on Erased Tapes.

Stream: Rival Consoles – Voyager (Erased Tapes) (via XLR8R)

Rival Consoles – Odyssey is out on vinyl and digi on October 21 on Erased Tapes. Buy here. Stream the full release at Dummy.

Words by Aidan Hanratty, 17 October 2013. Leave a comment

Truancy Volume 82: Voiski

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Voiski might not be a name you’re necessarily familiar with off the bat but we’re certain you’ve heard his music out on dance floors in the last year. Based in Paris his most recognisable track to most will likely be “Ad Infinitum” which was released on Construct Re-Form last year as part of the first release of a trilogy of EPs called the Unforeseen Alliance. Arguably one of the biggest techno sleeper hits of 2012 it was featured in Joy Orbison’s now revered Resident Advisor podcast and by Ame in their equally as impressive Tsugi mix. Striking the perfect balance between melodic hypnosis and repetition done right, the track builds its way up to a beautiful crescendo that works the peak time club moments like no other.

With the second Unforeseen Alliance release dropping last month along with another EP on Parisian label Syncrophone, Voiski still manages to fit in being one of the minds behind innovative net label Silicate Musique as well as working on a series of other aliases and regular collaborations. One of these takes form as Kartei with Crysta Patterson (Donna Renka) with whom he released a record with on the excellent W.T Records. With a blossoming music scene starting to happen in Paris and people starting to see it for the creative hive mind it is for young producers we caught up with Voiski, one of the many people responsible, for a small chat whilst he kindly provided our eighty second Truancy Volume. With his music having caught our ears for a while and recently having caught the ears of a certain label owner from New York, the mix is an elegant outlook and representation of the music that makes Voiski tick and we’re extremely proud to be sharing it.

For those who might not have heard of you before can you start by giving us an introduction to who you are, where you are from and how you initially got into producing and Djing? “I’m a French electronic producer from Paris. I grew up here and discovered electronic music in the nineties thanks to a very generous and older Italian cousin ha Ofcourse he was Italian as at the time that sound wasn’t very easy to find here. I was mainly listening to techno and electro very early on and I got into Djing at around the age of sixteen. Producing came one year later and I eventually started some side projects and collaborations. One of these is Kartei, which is a form of techno-cyberpop performing band which I work on with Crysta Patterson (Donna Renka). There’s also some other projects but I won’t go into detail on them here.”

You are one of the minds behind the Silicate Musique imprint, which we’ve been following and loving for some time now. Can you tell us a bit about the ideas that went about starting the label and the music you release on it? “I started the label together with Thomas Bethmont and Boris Dlutowski in 2008. Since the start it has always been a non profit DIY label ran in a micro-economy. We started as a free download net label just releasing some music from local artists in Paris, but after two years we decided to stop releasing ‘music for music’ and instead focus on more conceptual projects which we submit to the artist. We like to call it ‘protocol music’. We basically propose them an idea to work on such as a movie, a science fiction novel etc. and then the artist is free to do whatever he wants, be it even choosing the release format. Our last release for example by Rkob was released on VHS video tape and we even did some releases on flopping disks. We’re adamant that it has to make sense with the nature of the project however.”

I also wanted to ask about the Silicate workshops. How do these usually go about happening. Is it in a similar vein? “Yes, it works in nearly the same way. We propose a work protocol to a small group of artists which is usually constituted by free open internet submission. It is more about practising than technical learning. Sometimes we’ll make noise with different objects people bring and sometimes we’ll make noise using old video games, effect pedals and even data found on our hard drives. After a sound research during the workshop we propose a public live performance at the end of the day. We record the sessions and whenever something special comes out, we do the editing and propose it as a new release for the label.”

Moving on, Resident Advisor recently did a video on Paris as part of their Real Scenes documentaries which featured quite a few of your tracks. RA did a brilliant job in showcasing a part of Paris people might not have heard of before but we’re keen to ask about your own take on the city and if there’s anything you’d like to add on from that video. What keeps yourself based in Paris? “The RA documentary wasn’t really talking about the music made in the city. To put it simply Paris is full of artists, labels and exciting creations in electronic music and that’s the huge reason why it keeps me here. Being surrounded by a sincere and passionate community is something really important for a music scene. There’s people like Zadig, Dscrd, Antigone and the Dement3d guys and then there’s Ligovskoi, Nox Factio if you’re looking for something more on the noise ground. They are all responsible for the sudden blast here in Paris.”

Along with music, we also discovered that art and design is something you are very interested in. When did this interest start and are we right in thinking you might have studied it? “I think my interest in art started at exactly the same time I discovered techno music. The CDs in my cousin’s bag were all very minimally designed and often used metallic blue or grey pantone with very simple graphics in a similar way to Warp’s Designer Republic or !K7 covers. My first real graphic emotion was further amplified by my first musical emotion when I took the record out the sleeve and started playing a certain special record. ‘We have to sterilize the population.’ When I got older and I wondered what to do with my life, I went to a weird art school in a small city north of Paris called Cergy. At the time it was renown for their experimental sound department. Whilst there I learned a lot of things, from computer programing to field recording, but it’s also the place I learned patience, subversion and also developed a certain love for repetition.”

Can you tell us a little bit about ‘Mamali and His Doves In Art’. From what we can understand it was an album of music produced by you for this art exhibition? “Mamali Shafahi is an Iranian artist and a good friend of mine. He was kicked out of our art school for tying and blindfolding his performance teacher to a sport bench whilst walking on him naked and singing a Marilyn Monroe song. Was pretty awkward to watch, but still Iranians stick together, so before going back to Teheran he asked for a soundtrack for his next exhibition and I was really happy to accept. He explained me the ideas behind the exhibition and gave me the titles of his 13 pieces and then asked me for a slow techno mini-album. It was released on Silicate at the same time as the exhibition.”


In a past interview you stated you were working towards finishing a Kartei album. Is this still something that is happening and can you tell us anything about it? “Yes for sure it is definitely happening. We’ve got a couple of tracks finished for it. Most of them actually have come from our latest live performances. Since we got used to creating completely new songs for each live show we found out that we ended up with a load of tracks. So at the moment we are basically re-recording the greatest hits. It’s going to be a wildly colourful and weird album. We might have to find a label to release on it but we are working on that.”

Can you go through some artists that you are currently feeling right now? “At this very moment I am a great supporter of the Spectrum Spools label with guys such as Container and Outer Space doing great things. There’s also the sublabel of Mego which is currently producing some of the most innovate and almost danceable music at the moment in my opinion. There is also Svengalisghost, my dear flatmate and Steve Moore who are both on L.I.E.S and both incredible artists. I’d also like to congratulate Mr Abdulla Rashim for his constant work on Horizontality. Well done dear friend.”

Can you share any information on what else is coming up for you this year release/production wise? “There are two new records to be released pretty soon! The first ‘Spotlight Diktat’ will be released on a young label called Sheik’n’Beik and the second one ‘IAI Movement’ will be released on L.I.E.S on the 15th October.”

Finally, can you tell us about the mix you have recorded for us? “It is a mix made with vinyl on two technics and a very basic mixer. Its content sums up my confusion towards contemporary dance music and the doubts I have when I see where techno is going sometimes. Since sharing my turntables with Svengalisghost I’ve also been watching and leaning towards records on other parts of my shelves. Records which are generally more for listening and not necessarily  for djing. It starts with some slow techno but a big emotional upheaval can be expected.”

Truancy Volume 82: Voiski by TRUANTS

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Words by Riccardo Villella, 16 October 2013. Leave a comment

Recommended: Leon Vynehall – Open

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2013 has been a busy year for Leon Vynehall. Not content solely with working his way through a hectic touring schedule, the Brighton producer has also spent considerable time in the studio with releases on both AUS Music and Well Rounded Housing Projects this year. Coming courtesy of Martyn’s 3024 imprint, the Open EP forms the latest addition to Vynehall’s increasingly impressive discography.

Opener “I Get Mine, You Get Yours” kicks off the four track EP in fine fashion; its’ pounding drum pattern the platform for abrasive synth stabs, morphed horns and an eerie and barely decipherable vocal snip.  It’s the second track – “Step or Stone” (Breath or Bone” – which is the star turn here however. A menacing vocal is powered along by stomping percussive strikes while the winding, jarring synth melody is unquestionably infectious. A perfect big room weapon.

The frenetic nature of the A-side is eased somewhat by “I Know Your Face, Heroine”. The EP’s third cut is noticeably calmer, awash with soothing keys and a deep bassline. It only proves to be brief respite however with “XVII (Rox Out)” upping the ante once again. This time clipped vocals accompany a punching percussive beat that is guaranteed to get fists pumping and feet moving. Less conventional than the other tracks, it’s a perfect exhibit of what separates Vynehall from some of his peers as he continues to reinterpret familiar formulas in idiosyncratic yet perfectly club-friendly ways. Vynehall has certainly been on something of a hot streak lately and Open no doubt continues the producer’s upward trajectory.

Stream: Leon Vynehall – Open EP (3024)

Leon Vynehall’s “Open” EP is out now on 3024.

Words by Matt Gibney, 15 October 2013. Leave a comment

Review: Helm – Silencer

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From Lee Gamble’s decimated ‘ardkore to Rashad Becker’s alien teleportation devices, the past few years’ output from Bill Kouglias’ Pan has been singular in both quality and reach. Despite a uniform tendency towards the outer limits, the often restrictive dance music world has embraced Pan with open arms, even as far as takeovers of “bass music Top Of The Pops” Boiler Room. Though often abstract, the connections Lee Gamble, Becker or Heatsick have to that world are written into the DNA of their work. Others, however,  are more difficult to place. One such example is Helm, an alias of Luke Younger whose label Alter co-releases new the Silencer EP. Though he’s been operating for a number of years in and around DIY noise scenes, last year’s Impossible Symmetry LP was something of a watershed moment. On it, Younger joined a raft of auteurs from techno, drone, noise and beyond expertly continuing the lineage of post punk experimentation far into the future, a terrain so fruitful it’s fast becoming the dominant aesthetic in underground circles.

Stream: Helm – Silencer (PAN) 

If this record can be considered a companion piece to last year’s, its title track certainly acts as an addendum to that LP’s “Liskojen yo”; although this time round Younger displays an almost uncharacteristic lack of restraint. The wiry, dying yelps that populated that piece are redoubled for the sequel, with uncomfortable whinnying feedback as disorienting as it is antagonistic. There’s a glimmer of Muslimgauze in the arcane drum patterns but a closer bedfellow might be found in uncompromising noise legends Wolf Eyes’ recent material, where their ever-present blasts of painful of high end have been given new emphasis through the use of ominous space and submerged rhythmic patterns.

That’s not to say the desolate drones of the previous LP have taken a backseat to a maelstrom of noise. Punctuated by muffled kicks, “Mirrored Palms” opts for the slow burn instead, its suffocating atmosphere gradually giving way to an infinitely reaching horn inhuman in it’s endlessness. Elsewhere, on closer “The Haze” stop-start rhythmic clicks evoke some hitherto unknown primitive, machinery drenched in darkness.

An obvious comparison is Raime’s widely acclaimed output on Blackest Ever Black, but where their work is undermined by an almost digital rigidity Helm’s is characterised by an extremely organic ebb and flow. Younger’s indecipherable combination of found sounds, electro acoustic techniques and subtle electronics is the key to this, successfully blurring lines to the point it’s impossible to determine the original sources of any given element.

It’s in this that Younger is a sound artist in the truest sense of the term, and it’s the quality that defines Pan’s roster. That the wider club music world has committed itself so fully to the label is understandable past the six (or less) degrees of separation that connects Pan’s artists to more dance floor friendly fodder. In a world where even those on the fringe are opting for the well worn twin clichés of being ‘rawness’ and ‘distortion’, it’s affirming to be presented with sound worlds of which only their creators truly hold the key. May their infiltration continue.

Words by Simon Docherty, 14 October 2013. Leave a comment

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