We first became familiar with the producer/DJ known as Akito through his near perfect remix of Jeremih’s anthem “Fuck You All The Time”. The remix blended the accapella with both Wiley’s Ice Rink, and Joe’s Claptrap, and reshaped the original slow-jam into something more suitable for the UK-leaning crowds and DJs. Around the same time he released his first original track titled Unacquainted on Sub Skank (a label which he co-runs), and although it was very well constructed it lacked the playfulness and character of his well-known remix. Fast forward one year to the follow up release Metamessage and this time Akito manages to get much closer to the mark.
Stream: Jeremih – F You All The Time (Akito’s F U On the Clap Trap Ice Rink – Bootleg)
As with many of the interesting contemporary club records it’s hard to put a finger on what exactly this music is, with influences spanning many of the “in vogue” genres, such as Grime and Jersey Club over the EP’s 4 tracks. The EP title track comes in two flavours; starting with the low-slung House original mix and is followed by a “Club Constructions” version of sorts which replaces the steady 4/4 with the sporadic Baltimore/Jersey style kicks that the series has become known for. Over on the B-side the track Aqua Tryst jumps between driving Jersey rhythms and laid back Grime patterns. The EP then closes with Bordello Bounce; the perfect combination of ennui filled atmospherics and tuff-as-fuck drums. Although the EP shares a very similar palette to many of the new wave of Grime artists, Akito manages to avoid many of their shortcomings, and by including elements from House and Jersey, he is able to re-inject some momentum into a sound which, I feel, is much too sluggish in its current form.
One of the EP’s striking characteristics is the depth of activity on each track. When looked at in a positive light this intricateness is what will keep people coming back to the record; however, at times there is a feeling of over-production and the songs lack the powerful minimalism heard on the aforementioned Club Construction series. Having said that, this detail and also his more Dub and Jungle influenced sound, is what separates Akito from his contemporaries and allows him to stand out in the every expanding and mutating “UK Club” spectrum.
Stream: Akito – Metamessage EP (Sub Skank)
Available digitally from Boomkat and all other good online distributors.
Words by Warren O'Neill, 11 February 2014. Leave a comment
David Spaans might have been responsible for a series of hot records under a collection of different aliases such as Hustler, Barracuda and Piranha throughout the late nineties, but something David might hold closer to heart is the number of producers who say they owe their career to the mentoring and advice given by him. One person who falls under this category is fellow Dutch producer Mark Du Mosch, who says a trip to his studio in 1995 and witnessing all his machines in action was all it took to start his interest in ‘great techno music’. A close friendship ensued between the two and before long Du Mosch had landed his first release on Keynote in 2006; a record which would ultimately be the last pressed from the label, since its inception in 2000. Du Mosch’s melodic approach to house, techno and italo-influenced electro soon found itself onto labels such David Vunk’s Moustache Records, Cyber Dance and Tabernacle; culminating in an expansive discography that led up to his brilliant debut album Salmiak on SD Records in 2012. We highly recommend checking out the video of the title track, featuring the man himself on some spray can tip.
Having earned the highest amount of respect in Dutch circles, it seems only natural that his latest release comes from Dutch label and general party throwers Dekmantel. After the roaring success of their first official festival last year in August, the label have since released two records; one from an artist across the pond in the form of Joey Anderson’s Fall Off Face and the other from native Du Mosch. Titled Bay 25, the release features two originals and a remix from Gesloten Cirkel, all firmly rooted in analogue goodness. Starting with title track Bay 25, you know those tracks that can set a dance floor alight from solely a kick drum, a baseline and a bit of white noise? Well, there’s a section in Bay 25 that will do exactly that and then some. Du Mosch’s aptness for skirting subtle melodies in the mix is in full effect here and the break like percussion adds a new dimension to effectively a techno tune. B side track ‘Living It Up’ excels with the melodies, adding layer after layer for an almost progressive like build up that will equally work a crowd but in a slower, slightly more engaging manner to its record counterpart. It’s incredibly busy yet the mix down is impressively done. Overall, these are two masterful tracks in abundance with variation that display Mark Du Mosch’s abilities as a producer as one of the best in the field.
Words by Riccardo Villella, 06 February 2014. Leave a comment
Our 89th Truancy Volume comes from San Fransisco native Avalon Emerson, who’s just put out her debut release on Icee Hot. “Pressure/Quoi!“ is a full-on assault, combining tough beats and frivolous samples. Her mix for us, meanwhile, throws together classic rave anthems and more recent house jaunts, all in the name of the party. We spoke to Avalon (who’s also a software developer by trade) about rocking that party, how she got in with the Icee Hot guys, and where to find the best cookie in America…
Hi! How are you? “Doing well Aidan! It’s 10:30pm and I’m enjoying a 2005 Napa Chardonnay.” What have you been up to recently? “Things have been great, fielding reactions from my first record [laughing] that only happens once! I’m finishing up the mixing for a new record. Also still finding new ways to be in love with my new (to me) 1980 Vespa P200. Seriously, it’s changed my life.”
The mix you’ve done for us is decidedly retro in feel – how much inspiration do you draw from the early days of house and rave? It struck me that tracks like ‘The Human Bond’ (1997) and ‘Nightbird’ (1991) sound just as fresh now, while tracks like ‘Songs To Elevate Pure Hearts’ and ‘Ride’, without sounding dated, pay great homage to earlier styles. Does this element of timelessness appeal to you? “Kevin Saunderson does have plenty of modern copy cats, but to me actually ‘Nightbird’ sounds super dated! Like it’s the music for some fast-motion montage of some English kids riding in a van through a field during the 2nd summer of love with acid smiley face T-shirts and cargo pants. Some music is woven using threads of objective quality, no matter the decade. Music is not a linear progression, and there are only so many really great tracks that came out in 2013. When digging for new tunes, increase the search scope to increase the yield.”
You recorded the mix using a Urei 1620LE and E&S X3004 isolator – can you tell us a bit about that? How did you first come across that piece of kit? “It’s what’s set up in the living room with the turntables, it’s my preferred method of mixing and listening. Nothing else even comes close to a broadcast quality rotary and a nice isolator as far as sound reproduction, with nothing in the way for distraction. I think it enforces an attention to timing and blending with the room, not with split ears or EQ bass ducking. The best times I’ve had dancing at parties are with isolator-friendly DJs like the Dope Jams Celebrate LIFE parties and Body & SOUL. Simply, I want to accentuate the frequencies in music that I resonate with. That’s my golden ideal. I feel like my DJ sets are running at 60-70% when I play without an isolator, and the crowd seems to enjoy the performance aspect of it as well. You can’t always make riders happen when you’re asking for a rig that costs twice your fee, so I just recently actually bought a really shitty Vestax FDG-1 non-rack iso to run through the sends of whatever crap line fader the club has. The depressing Pioneer peak limiters still suck out most of the dynamics, but with a few big knobs at least I can be expressive!”
How representative of your sets would this mix be? Would you often pull it up and shift moods as you do here, going from Jackie Moore into Special Request? “I loved being able to use a mix as a snapshot for what I was into and playing for a particular time. Especially when I practise it and record it live like I did with this one. As far as the omnivorous vibe switch up thing, for me, all my favorite DJs will traverse disparate mood/energy/genre continents in a night. I don’t want someone listening in to the first four tracks of my set and thinking there’s another two hours of the same ahead. The night changes with the crowd and the space and the circumstances, so should the music.”
Many people keep their day job, which is solely to make ends meet, separate from their musical identity, but Avalon Emerson the producer/DJ, developer and photographer are all one and the same. Does this lack of demarcation make life easier for you? “Well I don’t do photography professionally any more, and it’s sure not as sexy to say you write software for a living, but I feel very lucky to be doing something career-wise that I can grow with, that challenges me, and that sharpens me in other aspects of my life.”
You’ve just put out your first record, with Icee Hot. How does it feel? “It feels pretty great! I finished the songs almost a year ago, so the pace of physical media was definitely something to get used to, but just the difference of having something exist in the real world, and to be able to work with other talented hustlers like the Icee Hot guys and Christopher Willits (my sound engineer) to get this thing done, has been really exciting.” How did you first get in touch with the label? “Well I actually interned at XLR8R when I was 20 and had just moved to SF after college in Arizona. That’s when I met Shawn (and Willits actually). I’ve been going to Shawn’s Icee Hot parties since their inception.”
‘Pressure’ is pretty full on, while ‘Quoi!’ is very much tongue in cheek. Is this split important to you, making sure people know you’ve got range? “I put together ‘Quoi!’ because the guys wanted to hear if I had anything else to accompany ‘Pressure’, a track I’d given to Ryan (Ghosts on Tape) in hopes that he’d give me the masters to his recently test-pressed ‘No Guestlist’. He didn’t give me the promo until later, but we ended up putting out a record! I think the two tracks compliment each other well, but it seems like a lot of people, especially those less inherently in-love with techno, seem to gravitate more to ‘Quoi!’.” You got a pair of contrasting remixes from Tuff City Kids. Whose choice was this? It’s an interesting approach, which for me harks back to the time when the likes of Andrew Weatherall or David Morales would do varying styles of remix across one package. “Gerd and Philip’s involvement was such a pleasure and a privilege. They turned the first track around in a couple weeks, then another a couple weeks after that, without even asking! The range between the two reworks still really impresses me and I think it’s what really makes the record a full statement.”
I read an interesting interview with you where you talk about the transition from traditional songwriting to producing. You said that: “The huge difference between the two kinds of songwriting/producing to me is the somewhat objective lens you can put over a dance track. It either works on a dance floor or it doesn’t.” Do you ever find it difficult to keep tracks personal while also ensuring they work on the floor? “I make production decisions with my gut first, polish it off using my ears, and decidedly keep my self-conscious, and scene-aware mind out of it. I think what I meant to get across is that you get to play with the element of instant social proof with dance music. You can use a crowd as a big agar petri dish to spill stuff on and see what grows. Both dance and non-dance can be terrible and genius, weighed down with genre codifications and transcendent, but I think the whole ‘club/warehouse DJ paradigm’ is actually an environment that allows an artist to be more creative and interesting than the traditional rock-show way of experiencing music.” What other material have you been working on? Do you have any plans to make non-club electronic music? “Actually yes, my next record is an EP on this brand new San Francisco/Paris label I’m working with called Spring Theory, which actually is three songs of deeper and more listenable-in-a-non-club-environment stuff.”
To round things up, what’s your favourite kind of cookie? “Definitely the Momofuku Corn cookie out of NYC. Those who know…”
And when was the last time you danced?” Even if you’re not dancing physically, you can dance internally and spiritually.“
The Future Sound of London – Papua New Guinea (Andrew Weatherall mix)
Neville Watson – Songs To Elevate Pure Hearts (Kink & Rachel mix)
Meat Beat Manifesto – Radio Babylon
Avalon Emerson – Quoi! (What Beats?)
E-Dancer – Human Bond
Gesloten Cirkel – Gesloten Cirkel
Archigram – Carnival
Stacy Kidd – You
Sheila E. – The Glamorous Life Part II
Jackie Moore – This Time Baby (Special Disco Version)
Lana Del Rey – Ride / Blue Jeans (Special Request mix)
Shed – Fluid 67
Auto Repeat – Auto Disco (Soundhack’s Krachapella)
Fokus Group – Mucky Crack Funk
Convert – Nightbird
Scan 7 – Unusual Channel
DJ Sprinkles – Glorimar’s Whore House
Math-U-Matix – Higher (Symphony mix)
Raw Junkies – Roomba (Feelin Horny)
Benjamin Damage – Delirium Tremens (Robert Hood mix)
The Knife – Silent Shout
Boogie Nite – Feel Me (Boogie Nite Unplugged mix)
Words by Aidan Hanratty, 30 January 2014. Leave a comment
If you’re unfamiliar with the newer generation of artists who are jockeying to be Atlanta rap’s heirs apparent, it looks as though 2014 will provide plenty of opportunities to get acquainted. Early January’s Lobby Runners was an enormous group effort from three (!!!) DJs and six (!!!!) rappers gathered under Peewee Longway‘s watchful eye. Tracks and features from Longway, Young Thug, Migos, Johnny Cinco, and Rich the Kid, among others, make the tape a treasure trove of all the newest artists Atlanta has to offer. Just last week, Longway released Frequent Flyers 3, another collaborative effort featuring a healthy dose of Chicago talent like King L, Lil Herb, Johnny May Cash, and Spenzo. Migos are slated to drop the DJ Drama-hosted Solid Foundation through Gangsta Grillz sometime next week as well. The most recent of these types of projects is Young Thug and Bloody Jay’s recently released Black Portland. Hopefully, teaming up on the 11-track mixtape will help convince listeners why their talents can’t be slept on any longer.
Black Portland, as Bloody Jay recently explained, is a representation of the innovative attitude the duo brings to the occasionally banal landscape of cookie-cutter Atlanta rap. After all, that mentality is what’s generating hype in the first place: “We’re on fire right now in the streets of Atlanta, and we’re stoners, so you know, we’re the Blazers and Atlanta is Black Portland,” he mentioned in a recent interview. Their manager Propane added that in the spirit of the NBA logo used for the mixtape cover, “They’re the ones that are making the sound that’s going on right now. They’re the trailblazers of the culture. Everything falls in line behind them.” Frankly, it’s true. Thug’s space-alien verses, with their sing-song squaked adlibs and lyrical puzzles, are a great counterpoint to Jay’s also-excited but more uniform delivery. You get the full effect on tracks like “No Fucks,” where Bloody Jay amazingly boasts “me and blood posted at the spot with more P’s than peter piper pick a pepper” and Young Thug expresses indifference about streaking mud from his shoes on a $100,000 rug. While Bloody Jay’s presence on the tape seems to subdue Young Thug somewhat, the inverse is also true—Thug tends to bring out the weird in Jay, so between the two of them the different shifts in pitch, cadence, and tone make it sound like there are nine rappers on Black Portland instead of two and a guest hook from Future. “Florida Water” has Thug and Jay doing their best Lil B ballad impersonation, replete with non sequitur ad-libs and short half-melodies that make the track terrifically easy to sing along to without knowing any of the lyrics.
Despite a great showing from both Thug and Jay, it becomes abundantly clear by the end of Black Portland that Young Thug has the possibility to graduate to a higher level of success. The severely underrated “Danny Glover,” where he compares the height of his money to two midgets, has been endorsed by Drake and Kanye West, and a remix featuring featuring Nicki Minaj surfaced today. With rumors of a seven-figure deal under Future’s Freebandz label, it’s quite possible that Young Thug’s career is only just beginning to see the first fruits of its potential, with Bloody Jay not too far behind either.
Young Thug and Bloody Jay’s Black Portland is out now. Download via Livemixtapes.
What do art installations, sound system culture and Marcy Playground have in common? Not much, except maybe this record by Marina Rosenfeld. Her latest release for Australian label Room 40 heavily blurs the lines between the gallery and the club. Often Rosenfeld is on the other side of the divide, bringing her dub inspired audio experiments to museums and performance spaces. A core theme of her work, be it translating György Liget’s Lontano for a children’s choir, or ricocheting custom “bass cannons” off of armory walls, is an exploration of acoustics. Her pieces are deeply intertwined with their environments and her vinyl output is no different. Frequently sound art recordings serve as a document, relatively unaltered from their original form, but for this release Rosenfeld melded components from several pieces into a standalone work. P.A. / Hard Love also enlists a couple of her previous live collaborators, avant garde cellist Okkyung Lee and the one and only vocalist Warrior Queen. Every track is also peppered with city noises, rain hitting pavement, cars whirring past, close whispers and distant shouts.
Stream: Marina Rosenfeld – Hard Love (Room 40)
“New York / It’s All About” combines eerie textures, both synthetic and recorded, with Warrior Queen’s unmistakable toasting to evoke visions of a haunting backstreet. On “Seeking Solace / Why Why?” the MC’s emotive words are fractured and twisted between layers of gurgling modular noise. “I Launch an Attack….” pulsates under an array of aggressive filter sweeps. It’s one of the most percussive tracks on the record even though it’s stabbing kicks pull away almost as soon as they’ve appeared. Okkyung Lee’s spine tingling cello is most prominent in “New York / Empire of State.” It’s appearances feel almost like a film cue, a hint that something terrifying is around the corner. Out of the gates “Hard Love” is the most open nod to Jamaican sounds. Like a dancehall track stripped to it’s core and reconstituted by Louis and Bebe Barron. It’s during “Liverpool / …’round Downtown by Myself / Tick Tock” where the aforementioned Marcy Playground nod occurs. Hushed swatches of a lyric from “Sex and Candy” are washed away in a collage of elements the seem disparate but all resolve to a final point. While each track stands on it’s own, P.A. / HARD LOVE is best experienced in one go. As a whole, it’s brimming with after hours paranoia. Like a night bus through a tunnel that won’t end.
P.A. / Hard Love is available now on Room 40.
Words by Stephanie Neptune, 27 January 2014. Leave a comment