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

Truancy Volume 101: Interstellar Funk

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‘Two Degrees of Separation’ is the theory that everyone and everything in Amsterdam is two or fewer steps from each other, by way of introduction. This is how we first got in touch with Olf van Elden – alias Interstellar Funk – a few years ago. Not only does Olf know how to run an impeccable party but he also runs a first-rate label named Tape, through which he has co-ordinated the release of a slew of excellent records by the likes of Deniro and Mark Du Mosch. On top of his skills as a label boss and promoter, Olf is an excellent DJ and producer: his debut release “House Train,” which came out on Tom Trago’s Voyage Direct series last year, has been on constant rotation with us since its release. Needless to say, Interstellar Funk quickly established himself as one of our favourite DJs to catch in the city. We therefore thought it was about time to revisit our Amsterdam origins by catching up with Olf and giving you a little taster of his DJing in the form of the 101st instalment of our Truancy Volume series. Read ahead to find out what Olf and Tape have been up to – and will be up to – whilst immersing yourself in Interstellar’s distinct selections: from forthcoming dubs under his own name, established but dear Actress tracks through to current MGUN favourites and newer tracks by the likes of Stingray and Du Mosch.

It’s s been a busy few months for you, playing Boiler Room, Dekmantel and Trouw among others places. What were your personal recent highlights of the summer? “I had a great one, full of great bookings! No week has passed by without me playing a cool club or festival. When I think back to the entire summer, I think my highlights were my set at the X-Ray tent at Lowlands Festival, my set at Boiler Room during Dekmantel Festival and the Studio 80 night in Watergate at the end of August. Next to that, I’ve had some really good times in De Verdieping at Trouw. The atmosphere in there, to me, is how a club night is supposed to be: dark, raw, anonymous and with a proper sound system.” Which sets of others did you enjoy seeing? “The sets by Traxx and Antal on the Selectors stage during Dekmantel Festival were personal highlights – they both capably destroyed the place. Other than that, I really enjoyed seeing Intergalactic Gary during Boiler Room at Dekmantel Festival, as well as Robert Turman’s performance in club OCCI last month. I’m familiar with his music because of a reissue of Way Down. I didn’t know he was still performing so I was pleasantly surprised!”

For the uninitiated, could you talk about Tape a little bit, both as a label and as a night? “We, as a collective, started Tape to release music from our friends that we think should be heard and that’s why we’re mainly focusing on new artists, or artists we’ve been working with for a while now. We released two 12”’s after last Summer: one by Haron and one by Deniro. In the near future we’ll be releasing a new record by Mark Du Mosch and the third installment in our Sampler Series. When it comes to nights, we don’t really have a fixed plan we follow. We organised several nights in Trouw the last few months and there will be one more before Trouw closes (in January, red). Other than that, this year is the first one where we’ll be participating in Amsterdam Dance Event.” What are your favourite things about being based in Amsterdam? “Amsterdam is flourishing. There’s so much stuff happening out here and the city is offering people a lot of opportunities. It’s not by chance that a lot of international artists find their new home here. We have Trouw and Rush Hour, and those combined with newer initiatives like Dekmantel, Red Light Radio and Red Light Records have all bases covered in this city.”

How do you go about playing sets in clubs? Do you go with spontaneous decisions on the spot or do you go in prepared? How does your approach differ from making podcasts, if at all? “I like to take my time selecting records. I always take an entire week to pack my record bag and select the records I want to play, usually. I’ll listen to every record before I put it in my bag, and in fact I re-pack my bag every week, and never take the same bag to different gigs. On the night itself nothing is set in stone: what I’ll play depends on the moment and the atmosphere. When it comes to podcasts or radio shows, that’s where I don’t play for the audience’s reaction.. it gives you more liberty to familiarize your listeners with different sorts and genres of music.”

Production-wise, what does your set-up look like and could you tell us a little bit about your history with and passion for hardware? “I first got in touch with hardware because of the people and friends surrounding me. Before that I had toyed around with Ableton and Logic a lot but nothing about it ever particularly spiked my interest. Music is something organic to me, and that’s why I try and work with computers as little as possible. Every machine in my studio has its own character – for example, when you compare two Juno 60’s, you will find that you can never achieve  the same sound. This imperfection as well as its feeling of antiquity is something that interests me. These machines live their own lives and the sounds they produce are in no way comparable to plug-ins.”

Where and how was this mix recorded? Was there anything in particular you were trying to convey with this mix? “I recorded this mix in the studio of Red Light Radio. I used two Technics, 2 CDJ’s and a Pioneer DJM-800. My Truancy Volume consists of tracks that interest me a lot: both music that’s been released in recent times and tracks that will be released in the near future. I tried to showcase a wide range of music that goes beyond what you’ll hear on the dancefloor. It’s not necessarily genre or time bound. I think it is the variation between the new and the old, and different styles and genres, that makes a set interesting.”

What do you have planned for the upcoming months, releases-wise and shows-wise? What’s in store for you this next Amsterdam Dance Event? “The kick-off of Amsterdam Dance Event this year is on October the fifteenth. I’ll be playing the Rush Hour night at Trouw. We’ll also be organising our first Tape showcase with FunkinEvil (Kyle Hall and Funkineven), Marcellus Pitmann and all the artists on our label. Later that month, I’ll be playing a Rush Hour showcase at Dude Club in Milan. When it comes to releases, there’ll be a bunch of new TAPE releases like the new Mark Du Mosch with a Voiski remix and a new Tape sampler coming soon. Both will be exclusively on sale at Rush Hour during Amsterdam Dance Event. Other than that, keep an eye out on Rush Hour Store Jams!”

Beau Wanzer – Grooves No Zone
Morgan Buckley – Weather Report
Actress – Bubble Butts And Equations
Marc Romboy – The Awakening (Omar S Remix)
Gherkin Jerks – Strange Creatures
45 ACP – Bad Ways
Interstellar Funk – Untitled
Theo Parrish – Black Mist (extented version)
Aroy Dee – Beauty ( Ra. H’s Cabinet Mix)
Randomer – Huh
Unit Moebius – Sensor
DJ Stingray – Temporary Bond
Untitled – Untitled
African With Mainframes – Nubian Rainbows (Intrumental)
Mark Du Mosch – Amulet (Voiski Remix)
Crotocosm – Fanatic II
Robert Crash – Natilbox
Mgun – Exort
Mr Fingers – Finger Fuck

Words by Soraya Brouwer, 26 September 2014. Leave a comment

Chronicles: Travis Scott – Days Before Rodeo

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You probably know Travis Scott as the mysterious protege of Kanye West. You may have seen him on the 2013 XXL Freshman List and you may have seen him in the credits of Kanye’s Cruel Summer and Yeezus. You’ve probably heard controversies surrounding stolen artwork and betrayed associates. With no standout single to his name, his production influence has become his namesake. Travis is a rapper/producer from a middle-class suburban city in Texas near Houston, and if his vocals aren’t recognisable enough his drums are his trademark. Out of obscurity, he rose to fame by way of a Kanye endorsement that labeled him the carrier of the sound and sonics pioneered on albums like Yeezus. He refers to himself as La Flame; a personification of his musical personality in the form of kinetic and dynamic beats. While he lacks the lyrical substance and political stance of Kanye, he’s just as left field (if not even further left) as Yeezy and matches the emotional capacity of fellow G.O.O.D. Music signee Kid Cudi. Like Kid Cudi, Travis doesn’t hinge his songs on lyrical content but rather the emotional output via tone and production; Travis has managed to frame a sound based on bizarro rap that fuses trap with experimental tendencies.

Travis Scott’s debut LP Owl Pharoah had all the necessary introductory components but floundered in terms of its experimentation by getting a little too weird at times. It was a true post-modern take on 808s & Heartbreaks, taking cues from what Kanye established in 2008 and remolding it for 2013. Its simple cadence changes and touches on varying flows (like a cross between Migos and Kid Cudi) were a highlight next to the beats and effects of Pharoah. With 2014’s Days Before Rodeo, the free album leading up to 2015’s major label debut Rodeo, Travis has nearly perfected his knack for experimentation whether it’s the distorted vocals, more 808s & Heartbreaks-type crooning or delivery in his flow. One thing Travis Scott has always been known for is his drums, and that couldn’t be clearer on this album. During Kanye’s press circuit last summer, he mentioned that “nobody has drums like Travis Scott” and it’s true. Older songs like “God Level” and “Quintana” have a certain knock to them that bellows out of the smoke and jabs you in the gut with each bass hit. It’s an unmistakable sound; right next to his raspy blunt-roasted vocals split between robotic codeine-fueled autotune.

On Days Before Rodeo, you’ll find familiar Scott ad-libs (“straight up!”, “La Flame!”) alongside some compelling one-liners (“Mama worked for AT&T and we never got that service/She stayed in-and-out that hospital, you know that made me nervous” on “Backyard“) and impressive sonics. Scott’s known to toy with vocals, sometimes sounding like a downpitched demon and other times a cyborg powered by lean. He’s only 22, so he has plenty of time to figure out his sound but currently he’s tinkering with a formula composed of hard drums, distorted vocals and party-rage themes. But imagine when and if Travis puts together a MBDTF-type album in five years or so and we look back through his catalog to all these points of the La Flame persona.. My Beautiful La Flame Fantasy.

Songs like “Skyfall” (featuring 2014’s hottest rapper Young Thug) accredits this belief with one of the most  beautiful songs of the year. The line between themes has blurred, but it seems Scott and Thug are comparing drug dependency to the necessity (or irrelevancy rather) of veteran rappers in the rap game. “Don’t Play” featuring Big Sean and a band called The 1979 is a nice single to lead into the album’s release, with Travis unleashing a fierce flow across a fluctuating beat. The video accompanying the song borrows some of Kanye’s Americana tendencies as seen in the “Bound 2″ video and draws it out a bit further. “Mamacita” features production by DJ Dahi and Metro Boomin (as well as Travis) and another great guest spot by Young Thug that sounds organic alongside Rich Homie Quan. “Drugs You Should Try It” is Scott at his most Heartbreak as he sings in his cyborg tune over a smooth guitar riff and darting bass knocks. “Sloppy Toppy” benefits from a Migos and Peewee Longway feature that starts off with a wild soul sample only to fold into a beat that could go on for eternity with its sleepy bells backed by strings and epic crescendos. The scope of sounds is wide on Days Before Rodeo, and “Backyard” shows Travis is even capable of hearkening back to old-school hip-hop style beats through his sampling.

If there’s one flaw to the album, it’s not in its songs necessarily but the background of its development. In interviews with Sway and Hot 97 last month, Scott was quick to emphasise Days Before Rodeo was an album for Houston by a Houston artist asserting it as the new sound of Houston instead of the screwed-and-chopped, Southern trap music H-Town was known for in the previous decade. Yet all of the features (aside from Big Sean) on the album are entirely Atlanta-based (Young Thug, Migos, Peeway Longway, Rich Homie Quan) which makes one wonder how loyal Scott is to his regional roots. There’s no doubt Atlanta has taken the hip-hop throne with the Migos’ most-copied-flow-of-the-decade and Thug’s sheer innovation, not to mention ATL’s Metro Boomin (Future’s “Honest” album, 2 Chainz, Migos, Gucci Mane, etc.) co-produced three of the best tracks on the album (“Mamacita”, “Skyfall”, “BACC”). Alas, these are the problems of 2014 when certain sounds and artists become staples to every project if they want relevancy. The anthem-like, arena ambitions of Days Before Rodeo does its job as a prelude to Scott’s label debut more than well. Continue Reading →

Words by Kyle Brayton, 23 September 2014. Tags: | Leave a comment

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