You know a release has really resonated with you when it dominates your listening time disproportionately; receiving a battering on loop for days-on-end despite all the other music you should probably be discovering, writing about or whatever. You know its special when it garners a track ID request from your usually resolutely disinterested girlfriend for the first time in months, and its ability to incite emotional breakdowns is noted all over Twitter (a little tongue-in-cheek of course but you get the picture). MssingNo’s self-titled debut EP is one of those ones, an emotionally-charged rollercoaster of swooning highs and deep-rooted lows that tugs on the heart strings with reckless abandon, whilst retaining the edge, bite and rhythm to work within club sets. The beats themselves bang hard in places, but where these tracks really come through and hit the spot is with their disarming harmonies; synth-rich blankets of sound interwoven beautifully with sparkling cascades of icy melody, wandering vocal loops and swaying basslines assembled with near-classical music levels of composition. The ear and musical aptitude required to build melodies with such a powerful emotive effect is no doubt an innate talent, and one that he has in abundance. And whilst these skewed R&B-come-grime tracks aren’t anything particularly new or ground-breaking on paper, MssingNo quite simply does it better, smashing most other efforts out of the park and carving a sound as rare as the Pokemon glitch he is named after.
Stream: MssingNo – XE2 (Goon Club Allstars)
The Londoner first emerged on our radar when a few head-turning cuts dropped earlier this year, with his technicoloured, bass-driven anthem, “D&C“, a highlight from I Hate Fun’s free compilation and his refix of “Brandy – Right Here” getting hammered by everyone from Blackdown to Faze Miyake. He is by no means limited to these rapturously sensual beats however and can blacken the mood in an instant, as he did when he transformed The Verve’s “The Drugs Don’t Work” into a haunting, Requiem For A Dream-deep track with CAS. It’s in this mould that the EP’s darkest moment comes, with “124th” dominated by sinister undertones and dome-spinning paranoia, propelled by fractious grime drum patterns over unfettered sub-bass toughness.
Stream: MssingNo – 124th (Goon Club Allstars)
Goon Club Allstars’ first release featured a couple of Wiley refixes from Samename and Moleskin which was, in effect, a solid white label that helped mark them on the map. Signing MssingNo’s debut record though feels like a masterstroke and much more of a statement of creative direction moving forward. The EP’s heart-fluttering high point comes with “XE2“, and almost like the complete antithesis in mood to “124th”, it crams a pitched-up-beyond-recognition R.Kelly and swirls of absurdly lush sonics into 5:28 minutes of pure, unadulterated elation. The above rambles on about the vividness of MssingNo’s melodic constructions, and that is in full mesmeric effect on “XE2″; straight synthesised wizardry that utterly captivates well before the first hats and snares creep in at the halfway point. There’s no let-up either, imagine “XE3“‘s super-bright waves of neon on a massive rig flooding your eardrums, or “Skeezers'” swinging tropical lilt that is damn near impossible not to move to, accented by the most playful of Rihanna excerpts. If these are the levels he has set on his first full release then lord knows what is in store for us next. Judging by this EP, his recent production mix and collabs/ remixes with (another equally exciting producer) Plata; his future is looking bright.
The MssingNo EP will be available via Goon Club Allstars from Monday 18th of November.
Words by Oli Grant, 12 November 2013. Leave a comment
Substantive technical skill can often be the foundation of cinematic rapping, and on The Pimpire Strikes Back, Roc Marciano contends to be New York’s resident adept. If the Long Island MC’s first release on Man Bites Dog Records is any indication of his forthcoming album Marci Beaucoup, then we can likely expect it to be another spectacular exercise in gritty street narrative. Ever-imitating the late-’90s style preferred by aging genre purists, innumerable rappers have employed this stark (and now tedious) template for decades with diminishing returns. Despite the odds, however, Marciano has found a way to improve upon an exhausted formula. The results are impressive: with every mixtape, he becomes more proficient at grimly depicting vivid criminality in tight, neatly packed verses that won’t leave your memory easily.
Stream: Roc Marciano – Doesn’t Last
Marciano has always forged his best work alone—both Marcberg and Reloaded are almost entirely self-produced, with two guest features apiece or less. On The Pimpire Strikes Back he’s welcomed more assistance, although most of the strongest tracks are still his own productions. They’re mostly simple but effective soul and funk loops sifted through a layer of grainy vinyl filter, and Marciano sculpts these blocks into dynamic compositions. “I.D.K.” builds on a frantic back-and-forth juggle between vocal samples of a female chorus and a disembodied, eerie soul groan. “Doesn’t Last” relies on a pitched-up sample of Billy Preston’s “All Things Must Pass” (written by George Harrison), and doesn’t rely on bass at all—the only drum is a tinny snare to keep the tempo. It leaves plenty of breathing room so that you really get the full impact of bars like “smash ratchets/ ’till the shaft of my penis is flaccid” and “your mixtape’s done in poor taste/ I’m watching horses race.” This review could consist entirely of The Pimpire Strikes Back punchlines and it would still be difficult to distill the high quality of Marciano’s lyricism, but the truth is that he has a bountiful supply of effortless, illustrative couplets. The ephemeral, intense imagery of lines like “a higher plateau/ chateau/ the coke’s in the glass bowl/ lavender bathrobe” or “linen shirt, peach hardbottoms/ greek columns/ trees with koalas/ drinks with the olives/ sniff a lot of coke through a dollar” on “Higher Learning” provide a brief descriptive snapshot of life in the Pimpire.
Stream: Roc Marciano – Higher Learning
When Marciano does recruit assistance on The Pimpire Strikes Back it’s within narrow criteria: there’s an underlying expectation that everyone involved play according to his rules, and so you’ll never hear guests like Action Bronson, Meyhem Lauren, or Knowledge The Pirate steer away from condensed discussions of drugs, guns, women, or money (one of the few exceptions to this is Bronson’s eternal love of food, which guarantees that “a very subtle mild lemon sauce, Sicilian capers” doesn’t sound out of place on “Velvet Cape“). That’ll probably be the gripe of those criticizing The Pimpire Strikes Back—that the illustrations can never extend beyond a verse, let alone be conceptually consistent for the length of an entire song. But by now, that shouldn’t be expected of Marciano’s style, and as he says in the bridge of “Sincerely Antique“: “maybe y’all n*ggas already know…these are moments.”
Roc Marciano’s The Pimpire Strikes Back is out now. Download via Soundcloud.
It is almost an unworkable mission to write a befitting preamble to a conversation with Surgeon that encompasses everything the frontiersman of techno has done in his career. It is not because we do not want to write a circumstantial opening statement, but rather because there is an inordinate deal of to his back catalogue and musical passage we could rave on about for days. Starting out from his original home in Birmingham in the early nineties, Anthony Child has constantly kept himself in harness; a few projects being the releases of his six full-length outings and his collaborative work with Karl O’Connor as British Murder Boys, to the birth of Dynamic Tension Records and co-running the House Of God events for two decades. Child’s output has been as strong as ever: this year alone saw the reformation of the British Murder Boys for a one-off gig in Tokyo, the twenty year anniversary of the House Of God parties, the emergence of his alliance with Blawan under their Trade moniker, an album of mesmerising experimental ambient on NNA Tapes and a monthly show on the London radio station Rinse FM. We briefly caught up with Tony over e-mail to speak about his reunion with Regis at the start of the year and its location, why it is that Coil stands out to him and a handful of other topics.
Stream: British Murder Boys – Where Pail Limbs Lie (Liberation Technologies)
Hello Tony, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. How have you been? “I am very well thank you. Recently I’ve been on islands in the south of Japan and playing gigs in Poland, Italy, France and Germany.”
British Murder Boys reformed in April for an one-off performance. Could you tell us a little bit about how it went? “Karl and I had the chance to do a very special performance in Tokyo. We have worked with that venue before, so we knew that every small detail would be perfect. It was an intensely ritualistic performance using sight, sound and smell which had a huge psychological impact on us and those who were witness to it.” Other than working together with Karl, you’ve banded together with a handful of people to make music. Do collaborations bring out something in you that you normally don’t engage with? “I’m very careful about who I work with, I have to have a good personal connection with them; it’s quite an intimate thing. I’d describe it more as a conversation, rather than compromise. Of course that produces different results than working alone.”
Other than picking Tokyo for the BMB performance, I noticed you’ve been visiting Japan quite a lot. Could you tell us a little bit more about your relationship with the country? “I have regularly visited Japan since 1996 and I am fascinated by so many aspects of the country and culture. Performing there is always amazing, there is so much love from the crowd there.” Has what you’ve found yourself listening to dramatically changed in connection with where you’re living or visiting? “Yes, I have been spending extended periods of time in Maui (Hawaiʻi, red.) and my state of mind is very different while I am there. It is really impossible to listen to techno there, even to preview promos I am sent. I cannot connect to techno at all while I am there. It is actually a good break from it and I have a feel a fresh connection to it when I return home.”
It is fairly difficult to escape structure in terms of electronic music. Where do you stand on the dichotomy between structure and content? Do you think that it needs to be collapsed or not? “Brion Gysin’s cut-up technique was one thing that really altered my universe when I discovered it at an early age: a giant shift in consciousness. I do not abandon structure, rather I enjoy stretching and bending it. With techno I see the structure as being the functional aspect, the propulsion system.” Following Gysin’s influence on your work, are there any other artistic forms that influenced the way you think about creativity? “I also enjoy Cindy Sherman’s photography, especially her ‘Untitled Film Stills’. It is the sense of the depth of story going on behind the still picture that attracts me to them.”
Stream: Surgeon – Muggerscum Out (Soma Quality Recordings)
You’ve said that people will always come back to techno, as heavy electronic music is incredibly effective. Does techno’s appeal come directly from concrete situations or is it something more universal? “I guess it all depends how you dress it up, what surface image you give it. For me it goes much deeper than any of that.” How would you pinpoint its effectiveness? “Techno is a very versatile form, it can be bent and stretched a great deal and still remain techno. It is very effective functional music that people connect with in the club environment in a very deep way. Something that goes much much deeper than any fashion or even language. I see this every weekend.”
How did your regular show on Rinse come about and have you done radio in the past? “I have not done any radio in the past and was asked to do a one-off guest show for Rinse FM in April. That was a fun new experience; it just really came at the right time. That went well so after another guest show I was asked to make it a monthly show. It was something new for me, and going outside of my comfort zone.” One standout aspect of the shows is that you play a lot of new music, much of it yet to be released. Is this something that you do with radio and the platform that it provides for spreading new sounds, or is it more of an extension of your DJing in clubs? “I play almost all new music on the show because I find so much that I really like at the moment. That is a fundamental part of DJing for me: discovering music, being excited about it and wanting to share that music with other people. Quite a lot of the music I play on the Rinse shows is also the new music I am playing in my DJ sets, but the musical scope of the radio shows is much wider. Also, I mix the tracks in a very straightforward end-to-end way on the radio show, no layering or extra percussion like in my club DJ sets. I am presenting the music, rather than moving a dance floor.”
Stream: Trade – SHEWORKS005 Preview (Works The Long Nights)
Speaking of DJing, you are renowned for your creative approach to digital DJing. How do you think that your habits developed and evolved through your career? “Technically, the way I DJ is really just a means to an end. I do not have a fetish about the tools I use to do that. It is the results I am interested in. Recently, I have become a lot more focused on the precise way that the music controls the energy in the room, bringing it up, down, making people wait. Tension, pause, frustration, release.”
Coil means a lot of different things to different people: you draw a lot of inspiration from them and I was wondering if you could tell us a little bit about your admiration for them? What do you make of Drew McDowall’s work with Tres Warren as Compound Eye? “In the mid 80’s I played some of my abstract tape music to Justin (who went on to run Cold Spring Records). He said, “It sounds like Coil” (who I had not heard) so I went out and bought their current LP at the time, Horse Rotorvator. I immediately connected with their music and followed them since then. For me, they have always projected something very deep and spiritual though their music. Thanks for mentioning Compound Eye, I had not heard of them and will check them out.”
And finally, when was the last time you danced? “I am dancing right now. Dancing and falling.”
Stream: Surgeon – Rinse FM Broadcast (9th October 2013)
On November 16th, The Hydra, Bugged Out & Bleed join forces to present a label showcase from Works The Long Nights with label founders Karenn (comprised of Blawan & Pariah) playing a scintillating live set as well as being joined by special guest Surgeon, the ever-prolific Midland and Sunil Sharpe. For more information on the event and information on how to get tickets, see here.
Photo by: Satoru Fueki.
Words by Soraya Brouwer, 08 November 2013. Leave a comment
We first covered Mr Beatnick upon the digital release of his Synthetes EP in the summer of 2011. A late pass, indeed, but we’ve been watching him and Don’t Be Afraid, the label he calls home, very closely ever since. He was even kind enough to give us our 42nd Truancy Volume. Over the past few years DBA has expanded from a label that just put out records by Semtek and Beatnick to being a multi-disciplinary force keen on blooding new artists and expanding repertoires, as well as putting out limited 10″s, 12″s, and now, in a bold move, its first CD. In a world where physical sales are too anomalous to call and vinyl and cassette are bread and limited butter*, DBA has opted to garner together the key points of The Synthetes Trilogy on compact disc. That’s DBA though – always taking the unexpected route.
Stream: Mr Beatnick – The Synthetes Trilogy – Bonus Beats (Don’t Be Afraid)
Rather than opting for a chronological approach, bar opening with the titular track, the CD groups tracks sonically, thematically. This approach highlights the subtle grooves and orchestral similarities between tracks, recorded as they were across a period of years. The jagged strings of ‘Synthetes’ give way to the sultry motions of ‘Symbiosis’, from this year’s Savannah EP. It’s not long before we’re introduced to ‘Waning Moon’, the first (and arguably the finest) of the new tracks. A slow-burning late-evening jam, all skittering percussion and bass-led joyousness, it’s a study in yearning, appropriate for cocktail parties and basement discos alike. It’s also been reworked by Opal Tapes affiliate and recent Truants interviewee Best Available Technology – a remix that flips the original’s melodiousness for a suitably gloomy affair. Listen over at Nutriot. The gorgeous dripping funk of ‘Casio Romance’ and the effortless groove of ‘Shifting Sands’ (featured in our Room Full of Truants) make way for ‘Yacht on The Nile’, which pits harsh, pulsing drums against a heartfelt whine and glistening bells. ‘Nuit Blanche’, meanwhile, is a hands-in-the-air jam with DjRUM-like flourishes, pizzicato pinches and a lead sample that lands just on the right side of cheesy, manipulated casually yet deliberately as it is. The pace kicks up with ‘Savannah’ and ‘Parallax Scroll’, Beatnick’s ode to rave, and then it comes to a close with ‘Never Dies’. What never dies? Hardcore. This one is a riot of 142bpm Think breaks and frantic organs, a surprising end in some ways. But Beatnick is a voracious listener, so we shouldn’t be surprised by his eclectic yet coherent output. If you’ve listened to the three releases as often as we have, it’s wonderful to hear them recontextualised like this, reordered and repackaged with a broader purpose in mind. Of course it would be remiss of us not to mention the exquisite artwork, lovingly designed by Emily Evans. What next for Mr Beatnick? An ambient, beatless work perhaps, if idle chat is to be believed. Whatever comes, we’ll be listening.
Mr Beatnick – The Synthetes Trilogy is out now on Don’t Be Afraid. Buy here.
*Since the time of writing, Don’t Be Afraid has announced the impending release of a limited cassette.
Words by Aidan Hanratty, 04 November 2013. Leave a comment
Tomb Full Of Truants is the third instalment in our Truants crew mix series. Following the same concept as Club Full Of Truants and Room Full Of Truants, the crew were asked to imagine themselves in the most harrowing environment they could think of and pick one or two songs that would soundtrack that experience. As with the first two mixes of the crew series, they were left to run wild with their track choices as long as those tracks left them with a general feeling of unease. The result is this hour long mix drawing from the eeriest of each individual Truants’ taste mixed together brilliantly by OG Truant, Teflon Don Soraya Brouwer.
It is not true
that Dr. Guillotine,
who they named the thing after
died under it.
Words by Truants, 01 November 2013. Leave a comment