Premiere: Samrai & Platt – Bad Riddim

Press Platt & Samrai

Manchester’s Swing Ting crew are big favourites of ours at the Truants mansion. The crew of Samrai, Platt, MC Fox, Joey B and Murlo have steadily been building up a reputation for putting on one of the city’s most essential regular club nights. They also expanded into releasing music and following on from their label’s debut release from crew member Brackles last year, they’ve decided once again to keep it in the family with Samrai and Platt taking the helm. What comes of this is SWINGTING002, two tracks of some of the finest party-ready grime flavoured music you’ll hear this year. The massive “One Step”, featuring London dancehall vocalist Trigganom is a perfect example of Swing Ting’s desire to bring together a variety of dancefloor sounds to the fore. “One Step” comes alongside “Bad Riddim“, which we’re premiering below, a huge instrumental track which shows off the influence of soundsystem culture of the duo. We were interested to know more about what brought about SWINGTING002, and Samrai and Platt were kind enough to answer a few questions about their music, the label, and how the night shapes it.

So tell us about how SwingTing002 came about. Do you make your tracks with playing them out at Swing Ting in mind particularly? Platt: “One Step was a track that we’d made with a view to eventually have someone vocal. It existed in various forms, but once we’d heard Trigganom kill it on Eno’s remix of Skank, we knew he’d suit it perfectly. Really, I think we just wanted to make a super stripped back soundsystem tune. Bad Riddim’s something that’s been floating around for a while – Spooky’s been playing it for ages, but I think we realised that now’s the time to get it out there.

I don’t think we’d make anything that we couldn’t play at Swing Ting and that’s obviously the space we’re most familiar with, club-wise. If you look at the music we’ve put out as artists and as a label, I feel like sometimes it might look a little bit incoherent – it’s only when you come down to the night and hear what we play that I think all the dots are joined.”

Samrai: “Both were tracks we’d had in various guises for sometime but felt complete and ready for release now. The liberty of having your own imprint is that you’re free to make the choice of your own accord. The tunes we write have an ear on the Swing Ting dancefloor but may also be what we were feeling at that particular time. Also, we had a lot of extended family encouraging us to get these riddims out there so shout out to those guys!”

What are the tracks that are setting off your Swing Ting parties at the moment? “There are certain tunes that get reintroduced into the fold or classic standards that will always set it off but these are a selection of some fresh sounds that have been finding favour on the floor the last few months:

Murlo & Deadboy – Lovegiver
Lots of new Madd Again (Zed Bias, Trigga, Specialist Moss & Killa Benz) material
Famous Eno – Jaws & various Eno edits (Beezledub / Little Man / Gotta Man)
Kan Kan Riddim
Brackles – Vulnerable (Tinashe Bootleg)
Goon Club Allstars – Buzz Riddim Refix
Cute Bubble Riddim
Wizkid – In My Bed / Show You The Money”

We’ve seen you speak highly of Soup Kitchen as a venue for the night, what makes Soup Kitchen and Swing Ting such a good fit? Platt: “I think we’re now one of the longest running nights at Soup and we’ve always had a good relationship in terms of moulding the club to suit our needs. They’re very much on board with our bare bones aesthetic on the
night and realise that sound quality is key. They’ve spent a lot of time on, and are constantly improving the soundsystem and I think you’d struggle to find a better system in that kind of space anywhere in the country right now.”

Samrai: “They’ve never questioned what we’ve tried to champion musically and have supported us along the way.
Managers, bar staff, security have always been cool with us over the years making us feel welcome, finding a venue where you feel at home and appreciated feels pretty sacred right now.”

How do you feel things are in Manchester right now in terms of parties and general vibe? Platt: “There’s a lot of great music coming out of Manchester at the moment, but it’s important to stay grounded and not get too carried away. There’s so much history with music in Manchester, and people often want to find the next ‘movement’, it can get a bit grating hearing people force Manchester down your throat sometimes. Because of this, I don’t think people spend as much time building things organically – we’re really proud to be operating in Manchester, and will always rep it, we’re surrounded by extremely talented people and there are always new pockets of people popping up and doing interesting things. I guess really we just want to get our heads down and not get too involved in the hype game so much.”

Samrai: “Manchester’s currently amazing for parties. Guests we book to play often marvel at the energy, attitude and unpretentious nature of the crowd; Mancs and adopted Mancs love to rave hard with abandon!
There are a lot of promoters booking and pushing music that they care about and there’s a strong sense of community. Also, it’s a smaller city than London with less people to attend events so dances aren’t necessarily tailored to one sound or scene either, a party will often be a melting pot of styles which I personally prefer as you get to experience different worlds coming together both in sound and attendees. It’s also great to see a crop of labels developing too with their own aesthetic and vision in mind.”

This is your first release on the Swing Ting label where the residents are the focus, is this something we can expect more of? Platt: “There’ll definitely be more releases from us, from Fox and Murlo, and Joey B if he ever wants to get involved in the production side of things. But there’s also loads of great music we want to put out by people we’ve put on in the past, and will put on in the future. I think we always want to keep a connection with the clubnight where possible, but there are also people further afield who we’re looking to work with, and I don’t think we want to limit ourselves.”

Samrai: “We don’t want the label to be something that’s exclusive to residents only, I feel it’s important to keep an open mind, but there will be some material dropping from the main crew later this year and beyond. When a home-cooked release feels right for the imprint we’ll put it out ourselves but we also want to maintain working on separate projects and in conjunction with other labels too.”

What’s next for Swing Ting, label and party? Platt: “More of the same, really. We’re taking Swing Ting on the road a little during summer, a few takeovers, a few guest spots here and there, but we’ve got lots of exciting guests booked for Soup Kitchen in the coming months too. Label-wise, there’s a lot of music we’re aiming to get out before the end of the year and it’s all incredible. One project in particular is massive. We’ve just moved into a new studio, so I’m expecting the production output to increase a bit too.”

Samrai: “More music, more parties, more vibes, more risks and decisions but we wouldn’t want it any other way! There are some exciting spring, summer and autumn movements planned. Watch out for a pack of club recordings dropping later this year too in addition to all the releases.”

SWINGTING002 is out on Monday 16th March. You can pick it up here.

Words by Antoin Lindsay, 13 March 2015. Leave a comment

Interview: Billy Nasty


With the Bloc festivities and travel plans officially on their way, we’re excited to interview a DJ and producer who has been a resident at every Bloc Festival since its inception in 2006. To put it simply, Billy Nasty has a lot of experience, whether it’s running labels, record shops and booking agencies or putting on long lasting nights at clubs like the now closed down The End. Billy’s twenty plus years on the DJ circuit have made him a true talent behind the decks and Bloc have been on to this fact for a while. Hosting the Electrix showcase on the Jak stage this year on the Friday, Billy Nasty is bringing a wealth of talent and long time friends which include The Advent, Radioactive Man, Dynarec, Pip Williams, Silicon Scally and Sync 24, promising mainly live performances and modern, cutting edge electro.

Hey Billy! To start off, we wanted to go way back. Could you tell us a bit about the Love 4 Life parties and your personal experience from them, seeing as you played quite a few of them around the early/mid nineties? “I think you’re referring to the early 90’s gigs in Exeter, Bath and Longleat like Love 4 Life & Club UFO? It’s a very long time ago, but I used to play around that area a lot and I remember it as being a fun time and meeting lots of like minded people. I think a lovely guy called Spencer used to run the sound systems at all the venues. He had one of the first 360 surround sound amps that he used to run the decks through if my memory serves me well.”

I’ve not had the pleasure of listening to it myself, but in terms of those Love Of Life cassettes I think you did your first one in ’93, right? Were these just handed out or purchased at next events, how did it work? “Most of the cassettes were just recordings of the sets I played at the clubs and mostly recorded without my knowledge. I never saw any money from their sales but they played a really big part in people finding out who I was and how I sounded so I didn’t mind at all at the time.”

Am I right in thinking a lot of your early London residencies were at a similar time to this? From what I’ve read, venues like the Brain Club and Club UK were pretty seminal to London’s house and techno scene at the time which you seem to have played a fairly big role in. “Yes, my first residency was at The Brain around 1990 with Steve Bicknell (Lost). Not long after that I started playing regularly at clubs like Final Frontier at Club UK, The Drum Club, Strutt and Best of British which would then go on to become Open All hours at The Ministry of Sound. It was the early days of London’s techno scene so it was a very exciting time to be involved with.”

Are there any standout memories you cherish from attending these nights? “I’ll never forget the first time I heard Jeff mills and Hardfloor play live at Club UK. I also remember hearing Derrick May, The Prodigy and Aphex Twin all play at the Ministry on a Wednesday night which I’m pretty sure was the launch for Robert Rodriguez’s ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’ movie.”

Could you tell us a bit about Zoom Records? (For people who may not know, Zoom was a record store located in Camden that also doubled up as a label.) “I loved working at Zoom. I was there from around 89 to 95 and I saw it grow from a tiny shop near Camden Lock to this huge basement that we took over from where Soul2Soul originally was. Looking back, I think the mix cassettes and working at Zoom were the main springboards for launching my career.”

You were working with David Wesson under the alias Shi-Take as well during this time right? Correct me if I’m wrong, but would I be right in thinking your first foray into production was around your early years at Zoom?  “Yes you’re correct, the Shi-Take productions and remixes with Dave were my first trips into the studio. Not long after that we started working with Steve Dubb who was my partner at Vinyl Blair and who was a super clever guy. I learnt a hell of a lot through working with Dubby. We released a few EPs on Hard Hands (Leftfield’s label) as well as doing remixes for The Aloof, Leftfield, Full Moon Scientists, Howie B and the rap act Gravediggaz.”

What sort of other experience did you gain whilst working here? Would you say it helped lay a foundation for when you started Tortured which slightly overlaps with the last record put out on Zoom? “Yes I think there was the Zoom/Hard Hands phase from around ’90 to ’95 and after that I started Tortured Records and the Theremin booking agency around ’96. We were the first agency to represent artists such as Adam Beyer, Cari Lekebusch, Thomas Krome, Joel Mull, Marco Carola, Gaetek, Uroš Umek and Valentino Kanzyani. The two companies worked hand in hand with each other and everything just exploded. It was not long after this that we started the Open Tortured nights at The End which ran for just short of 5 years. Great times and great nights indeed!”

Moving a bit forward in time, your collaborations with Radioactive Man as RadioNasty have all been really great. What is it about this collaboration that you find works so well? “I’ve always been a huge fan of Keith’s productions and electro and we’ve always had such a laugh with each other and got on well. So when Keith suggested we should work together I jumped at the chance. He’s easy to work with and one of the most talented guys I’ve worked on music with; he writes things quite effortlessly. I’m really glad you’re liking our work, we’ve had such a great response to our tracks and podcasts.”

Outside of the techno and electro spectrum was also interesting to see your involvement in the Dead Sexy parties and hosting the likes of Jerry Dammer and Oxman back in 2013. I’m keen to know how these parties came about, as well as your history with Ska in general and these artist themselves. “During my teenage years growing up in South London I would often hear ska and reggae but I really only started to collect the records until I was working at BM Soho a couple of years back. They share the space with Dub Vendor so Don Papa Face and Eddie (The Oxman) reintroduced me to the timeless brilliance of Ska, Rock Steady & Reggae. Jerry Dammers used to pop into BM and he’s so approachable for such a legend. I started chatting to him and he and Ox agreed to play with us and things just went from there. I’ve also been doing a few ska and reggae all dayers at the Monty in Brighton that have gone down well. I’m really looking forward to playing at Bloc with Jerry and giving everyone a taste of my alter ego JahNasty!”

Can you tell us about the space in Brighton you’ve recently been doing up into a record store called ‘The Vinyl Curtain’? “The shop has been up and running for over a year now.  I like to think of it as a boutique record shop for the discerning. It’s really linked to my love of being around vinyl, plus I’ve got 15,000+ records in my collection and I realised I’ve got multiple copies of some classic records and of course the new tracks on my Tortured and Electrix labels so I wanted a way to get those records to a new audience. When I moved back to Brighton last year I thought I’d take the opportunity to actually go through all my collection and that coincided with a friend having a basement space available, and so The Vinyl Curtain was born. It’s the best of the classics plus plenty of good new stuff.”

What else can we expect from you in the coming year? “I’m getting busy in the studio with my RadioNasty mate Keith but I’m also working on another collaboration. More to be revealed soon! The two labels are looking busy this year with exciting new releases in the pipeline from Paul Mac, Ritzi Lee on Tortured and Fleck ESC, The Advent and Pip Williams on Electrix. And of course as always, busy on the DJ front, my natural habitat!”

Lastly, you’ve been on the lineup for every Bloc party thus far. Any personal favourite memories? “I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all the Bloc Festivals. As well as playing some of my most memorable sets I’ve also had many great nights seeing artists I admire for the first time; people like Flying Lotus, Rhythm and Sound, Aux 88, Aphex Twin and many more. Sometimes though it’s the unexpected late night meetings that makes Bloc so special. There was the time we had the great Juan Atkins partying in our chalet. All my friends were completely star struck. I’m delighted to see the Bloc boys back doing what they do best and I’m sure this one will be just as memorable and with many more to come!”

Words by Riccardo Villella, 12 March 2015. Leave a comment

Recommended: Rights – The Meaning EP


For what seems like forever, there’s been that vague notion of “future” promulgated around and applied to modify existing forms like garage and house, or used in tandem with the all-encompassing bass. Instead of denoting characteristics that are cutting-edge, its implication—of vocal sampling conventions or texture parameters—has turned redundant, disparaging for some. Brooklyn producer Seafloor (Mathew Young previously of the Body Language outfit), with his neat and clean sense of production, seems to have had at least one foot planted in this realm unabashedly, releasing on Hyperboloid, Astro Nautico, and Infinite Machine. He’s returned for a third time on the latter as somewhat of a staple, but now under the guise of Rights alongside Braille to inaugurate both this new project and Montreal label Infinite Machine’s new year.

Braille is the alias of Praveen Sharma, also out of New York, and what’s to be said of his early production under that name, as well as his part in Sepalcure alongside Travis Stewart, should sound similar to that of his new cohort’s—his 2011 drops on Rush Hour, Direct Current and Hotflush are slightly rougher around the edges but similarly form around house and garage. It’s Sharma’s current proclivity towards putting a brake on tempo and a taste for R&B-inflecting songwriting—evidenced through a new EP and forthcoming LP on FoF—that seeps through The Meaning at parts. Icy vocal depersonalization is placed atop cracking percussion on opener “Cold In The B”. “Heartbeat” is a glimmer of color and kinetics on an EP (which very loosely fits the criteria playing over 35 minutes) that stays relatively reticent and languid. The effortless joint between “Can’t Forget” and “Understand The Meaning”, two parts to one song, is the most impressive part of The Meaning. When the ethereal synths of the former ooze into the latter and the rhythm shifts to a rocking half-time, it’s as if the drear of project has exhausted itself. To boot is a “Can’t Forget” remix from Photay, who concludes the EP as an all-Brooklyn affair and reminds us of his inventively wacky album.

The Meaning EP is out now via Infinite Machine. 

Words by Michael Scala, 11 March 2015. Leave a comment

Truancy Volume 112: Kid Antoine

kid antoine truants

It’s no secret that we’re big fans of the Her Records stable. In fact, our only complaint (dictated through greed) is that we don’t hear enough from them. This goes especially so for the Danish component of the crew, the Club Prince, Kid Antoine. The snippets we’ve heard from him, whether on his Soundcloud, Her Records Volume 3 or The Astral Plane’s Heterotopia compilation, piqued serious interest amongst club music fans but further material was tough to come by. This is all about to change. Following an extended US tour by the original members of the label, Kid Antoine’s Proximity EP (HER009) has been announced and we’re delighted to be sharing his entry into the Truancy Volume series by way of accompaniment. These vivid 40 minutes are energetically supercharged and draw on the same UK funky, dembow and ballroom influences as the new release. Some of the EP’s tracks are to be found inside, along with exclusives abound and a very welcome showing of Freeze Tag Booty. We also got to put a few questions to Kid Antoine over email and you can read the enlightening interview below. His driving forces, both in terms of sonic inspiration and geographic location, are particularly fascinating and only increase our curiosity in what’s to come.

Hello Anton! Thanks so much for the mix. How are you today? “You’re welcome! Feeling very good at the moment, I just quit my job.  Now I have the amazing privilege of being able to wake up and go straight to working on my music. I’m still laying in my bed right now but I’m looking to do something productive as soon as I wake up, like now I’m writing this. Drippin told me he gets up at 6AM every day to go to the studio, I’m not quite on that level yet haha, but I’m trying.”

I was hoping you could start off with telling us a little bit about yourself and how you came to be a producer? “My name is Anton, I’m 20 years old and from Copenhagen. Back in 4th grade I was writing raps with my friends and my parents got me Magix Music Maker Hip Hop Edition, which was a drag’n’drop loops program. There was a piano roll in it too. It was more like a step sequencer with little boxes that you could tick, very cryptic to use. One or two years later I got Cubase which was just too much for me. Luckily I found out about FruityLoops and the step sequencer was basically how I learned the concepts of music e.g. realising the 4/4 structure. Just the most basic basics, but I really remember that as a revelation to me, going “Aaaaah this is how music works” haha. So I really feel like a child of that technology and almost a personal relation to these programs because “they” taught me how to make music. Fast forward three or four more years and I was using an MPC and Logic to make beats. I got really bored of it so I sold it all and tried out Ableton Live. That really gave me the same feeling that I had with Fruity Loops, the curiosity to experiment and be able to do anything you want, because you can “program” the music. The MPC is really limited to what you are able to create physically, using your hands to play.”

What’s the music/club scene like in Copenhagen? It’s not often mentioned among the major ones in Europe. “From my perspective, it’s been hard to say anything good about it, but 2015 is looking more interesting for sure. It’s very rare that there will be a club night here that I would want to go to, so I’m really glad whenever it actually happens. There are 2 different club nights right now that I am excited about and they seem to be held maybe every 3-4 months, so there is a long time between the cool nights. The festivals here are really what mostly brings the music I want to hear – Distortion being the one that usually delivers the club names and it’s spread over a very intense week.  I’m very excited to see the Sonar Festival coming to Copenhagen, that is a huge leap forward for us. In general we do get opportunities to hear great stuff in Copenhagen, it’s just a bit inconsistent.”

Having said that, there are plenty of great producers coming out of Scandinavia. You and Eloq both from Denmark. Drippin from Norway. Cashmere Cat’s in a different field altogether but he’s gone global recently. First off, do you think there’s any particular reason we’re seeing so much quality electronic music coming from your part of the world? And secondly, is there anybody else we should be keeping an eye out for? “I think the youth here are educated to be open-minded and so in general have an open approach to new music. There is an audience to present it to, people who care about what’s going on. The problem is just that not a lot of people are taught to create, at least that’s the situation in Denmark. In Scandinavia there’s an unwritten law, the law of Jante, which basically translates to “You’re not to think you are anything special”. It’s a really cliché thing for us to bring up as the cause of the problem, but I really think it makes artists try to push boundaries to be distanced from general society. I recently met up with some friends from Berlin who had noticed that the Danish lifestyle is very admired but it’s also very uniform compared to theirs. The few people who differ from this way of living life will always have a strong will to proceed, and that’s how great art is created. It’s funny that you mention these three names since I’ve worked with all of them in one way or another. Out to them and fellow Scandinavians Dinamarca, Al Tariq, Why Be, Slick Shoota, M. Wrecker, Kablam, Emil_ (Skawr), the list goes on!”

You’re just about to release your debut EP, Proximity, on Her Records. How did you link up with those guys? “I had done these little clips that I had uploaded to Soundcloud and never really bothered finishing. One of those was Expected Encounter. I had no network at all, but NKC heard my tracks on there and passed them to Sudanim and Miss Modular. They reached out and said they wanted it for the 3rd volume of the Her Records compilation. In the meantime my computer had broken, so I had to dig out the project file from an old hard disk. The recreation of the project file was a pain but I managed to finish the track. I had never heard about Her Records before so it was a discovery for me as well! We clicked really well on our approach to club music so it came pretty natural for us to exchange ideas and tracks, it just developed from there.”

We’ve heard odd tracks from you before, on compilations and on your Soundcloud, but how was the process of putting together your first full solo release? “The whole process was very simple and straight forward actually. The EP just formed around the theme I’ve been making tracks with for the last year and a half or so, this concept of battle inspired music for the club. Expected Encounter was the start to that and the EP just might be the finish of it, and thereby a time to find new inspiration. I already had a lot of the ideas for track names and the scenarios they soundtracked in my head. When I felt a track taking a specific direction in the working process, it usually clicked with the track names I already had. I feel that track names are very important, planting an idea of what a track is about. Working on and finishing these tracks also made me very confident in my ways of approaching music production, so I have a lot of things that I’m trying out right now for future material.”

One of the things we love about the label is that you’re all obviously linked through this genealogy of “club” music, but everybody has their own influences which make them stand out from each other. Who are some of your influences from out of the ordinary? “Yeah we really have a common ground. That’s also one of the reasons why I think we got connected so fast. I am influenced and fascinated by ear catching pop music melodies, and I always try writing a melody that I will be able to remember when I wake up the next day – then I know I can continue working on it. Also, I used to listen to Dilla, Madlib and Samiyam/Flying Lotus stuff all the time, and still enjoy it. It isn’t really obvious in my music but it’s still an influence one way or another. I take a lot of inspiration from Movie FX and Foley stuff, but also the acoustic design of products. The sound of a car door being closed and so on. It’s something I’m trying to dive a bit more into. When I was younger I was on a one week internship at a sound studio that does a lot of the biggest Danish productions. It really opened my eyes to that whole part of not just scoring a movie, but actually sculpting the real life sound of it.”

What can you tell us about the mix? Looking at the tracklist it seems to contain a whole load of exclusives! “I’ve been working on and gathering music to do a mix like this with exclusive tracks from friends for a while now, so it was really satisfying to finally finish it. There are a couple of little new edits from me in there as well as two tracks from the EP. The mix starts off around the 110 BPM mark, with some evocative productions from the Her Crew and climbs steadily, evolving into faster high energy stuff before closing off with my melody edit of Beyonce’s already iconic “7/11”. Hope you like it!”

Kid Antoine – Stress
Cyphr – Ekleipsis (MM Edit)
Cyphr – ???
Divoli S’vere x Beek – Blow Ya Smoke (Strawberry Kush Remix) (KA edit)
Paul Marmota – Lifi
Celestial Trax – After All
Sami Baha – (NASA) Domain Awareness System
Drippin – Ethereal Blade (demo)
Putobronze – Acaba Com Tudo
Kid Antoine – Motion Sensor
Krakmaxter Cicloff – Batida Kuduro Loko G
Ctrl Trax – Intertropical Convergance Zone (KA edit)
K Kutta – Freeze Tag Booty
Dinamarca – Descontrol (Drippin Remix) (demo)
Ca$h Out – I Want The Money (MM Club Fix)
Eloq & Kid Antoine – Orion
Kid Antoine – Recon (MM Remix)
Brenmar & Julius Sylvest – Air Ball
Drippin & MM – LMK (demo)
DJ Xav – Flex Clique Anthem 3
Cirqa – Ion
Divoli S’vere – Meteor Effectz
Kid Antoine – Proximity
Beyonce – 7/11 (KA edit)

Proximity is released on the 16th March. You can preorder it here.

Words by Matt Coombs, 04 March 2015. Leave a comment

Review: Jam City – Dream A Garden LP


“Things were looking bad today / I didn’t know what to say / And the sirens are far away / But I never ever felt this way.” So ends “Crisis”, a B-side number from Jam City’s second album, Dream A Garden. The words, and the voice singing them, are Jack Latham’s own – a confirmation of the Night Slugs veteran’s multifaceted nature and a refreshing, rule-bending approach to releasing music. Indeed, Latham has long been dubbed a shapeshifter and a musician you can’t quite get a handle on. Musing on his debut album, Classical Curves, Rory Gibb at The Quietus closes with: “It’ll be interesting to see where Latham takes things from here, but it’s probably not worth attempting to predict.” Gibb’s prediction of the unpredictable is spot-on in terms of musicality. Instead of being all “geometric and jagged edge[s]”, Dream a Garden is woozy and organic. A hopeless romance underpins the entire composition – it’s heart-bursting stuff. Wah-wah guitars smirk and intros loiter, while tempos and rhythms soak in funk, boogie and jazz. A bit like Prince, but think walks home from the club in summer sunrise.

Yet at times, surrounding the album’s reverberating vocal chants, the musical construction is industrial and apocalyptic: the levels seem all wrong and snare drums are either splutter or knotted cackle. Bits that sound like soaring climaxes come at strange times, like in the album’s opener, “The Garden Thrives”; the first section is a shower of bullets from a firing squad, before it relents and you’re immersed in a scene, walking light-footed down a street, any street, gasping synths taking you, uncaring, to nowhere. This holding back and toying with tension does in fact exist in much of Latham’s work; even Classical Curves, a club album in essence, dared not exhale fully. The producer never quite putting his foot down so the music could propel like a tour bus along a motorway.

There is one thing, however, that marks a stark difference between Dream A Garden and any previous work: there is a clear political agenda. Many will have already seen the press release being circulated by the artist and his fans on social media (click here to view). Within it, Latham explains his intention: “No hope, no future, a constant war raging in the peripheries. / I wanna laugh about it / But I just can’t laugh about it. / And so it is then, this is a record about love and resistance.” The album, he says, is a “rejection of our fate as the generation raised on empty promises, SSRIs and indefinite war; curtains closed, alienated from our bodies, our voices, our earth.”

This idea of alienation is one that surely rings true with many: the real is becoming more and more abstracted with the media, insidious politicians and overwhelming capitalist control all smothered in Orwellian language, warping our perception and clouding our view. His website also explores this concept. To get to where you want to be, you have to click through pop-up style images of media cutouts, lonely hearts ads and gun-toting police officers before you land at the video for “Unhappy”, unhappy. Latham illustrates that, with the world at our fingertips and our brains rammed with knowledge at rates we can’t control, we seem, weirdly, more powerless than ever. Within this context, the smiling riffs in “Proud”, bubbling melodies in “Today”, and lazy, lovely sounds in the mockingly named “Good Lads, Bad Lads” take on a different, more sinister, meaning. In one way, Dream A Garden aims to reflect back on the listener – or consumer – the world in which we live, and accept. Latham dares us to keep ignoring – to keep clicking past – the misery.

Funny then, how the press release seems to use and manipulate the techniques Latham so condemns: aware of his audience as big-time-internet-using, music-news-guzzling listeners, he makes use of the highly visual culture we enjoy, where music is not just an aural experience but an interactive one. Vivid orange-red backdrop with script in white, this manifesto provides us with preconceptions that, once read, we can’t shake. Perhaps he is urging us to think for ourselves. But to label the album as totally cynical would be to discredit it. What is the garden that features in the album title and tracklist? Dream a garden, Latham demands, the garden thrives, he tells us. What is the garden? Thriving, to dream. The words certainly hold positive connotations, ones of hope, change and growth.

Jam City’s Dream A Garden LP is out March 23 on Night Slugs. Preorder here.

Words by Erin Mathias, 03 March 2015. Leave a comment

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