If -ness denotes the quality, state or character of an abstract noun, then what is ond? An abstract abstraction, perhaps. An empty signifier, signifying nothing, on to which the reader can project whatever they so choose. Confounding meaning further is the title of the latest release from Bruno Silva’s ever-busy Ondness project, Them Corja, on Barcelona’s Paralaxe Editions. Corja is the Portuguese for gang, and this bilingual title seems bereft of specificity, in a netherworld between meaning and obfuscation.
“Rod Serling’s Predator”, named after the famed Twilight Zone writer (and perhaps a nod to Silva’s Where To Now? release A Poor Man’s Twilight Zone), feels like a bevy of digital instruments tuning up, an imagined orchestra grinding and whirring into place, its disparate elements dancing about in the mix like a computerised circus. In later moments a wavy, Geogaddi-esque synth line appears amidst the gentle clamour, hinting at melody yet never keen to settle in any particular groove. The beginning of “Ghost Traffic” feels all wrong, as if the headphone jack hasn’t fully been plugged into its socket. A muffled, submerged cash register clanks back and forth setting a tone of confusion and pointless repetition. Fittingly, ghostly bass kicks and incessant drones add to this uncertainty, rhythm again foregone in favour of pause and refrain. Deep air-raid sirens and far-off heraldry lend pomp and anxiety, a kind of dank alarum suggesting imminent unrest. Thrilling, if muffled rhythms finally appear on ‘Skaters’, accompanied by a theme that feels playfully carnival-esque, a strange mish-mash that is utterly in keeping with this unpredictably arranged release. “Evan Parker Shakira” flirts with straight-up drum patterns at the death, yet chops up and echoes their inclusion, samples deftly placed in the mix rather than appearing organically. While these tracks and this release feel whole in their construction, this is a simple manouevre that reminds us of the nature of their assembly. Swirling, delayed winds surround us, melodies hover, bass murmurs, leading us to a jarring conclusion.
Where Silva’s Absolute Elsewhere for videogamemusic featured all the elements above, it did so in a more fragmented fashion, each track focusing on a single point, denying cohesion in favour of the disparate. Them Corja‘s success comes from how complementary these elements are together, the CMYK to Absolute Elsewhere‘s reductive RGB. Simply put, this is the most engaging and intriguing release from Ondness since the beautiful Pelas Margens (The Banks) on the German Noorden label.
Ondness – Them Corja is out now on Paralaxe Editions. Buy here.
Words by Aidan Hanratty, 23 March 2015. Leave a comment
Since his debut release Japan back in 2012, James Prudhomme alias Suicideyear has come a long way. Japan was a self-released project that started as a vivid dream he had in the period where he quit smoking weed in his bedroom in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. It soon circulated the internet and eventually caught the ear of Swedish internet sensation and ‘Sad Boy’ Yung Lean Doer, who proceeded to use the instrumental “CCCXXV” for Hurt – the first single off his album Unknown Death 2002 – and now, three years later, it sees a physical release via Oneohtrix Point Never’s Software label. A lengthy journey – but in between its inception and re-release he’s provided beats for the current crop of rap outsiders who have taken centre stage such as OG Maco & Rome Fortune and Antwon, on top of releasing another LP Remembrance. Whilst his music has been described as melancholic, it would seem he has nothing to be sad about. When asked about the 3 year journey he said it’s real cool to be able to hold a physical copy of it. “It was never just an internet thing for me, that was just the medium that worked best for me”.
It’s not just his sound that’s grown over the years. His distinct style surprisingly took him to the legendary Berghain and most recently for a show at go-to London venue Birthday’s – which has seen the likes of Yung Lean and Corbin sell out and solidify their careers there. More importantly, he was able to to his first proper Nando’s experience, one which he describes as beautiful. On the topic of London, grime naturally came up in the conversation as well. “The first time I listened to grime, the accent was crazy – it wasnt anything to ostracise me from it. Coming from the South, a lot of rap music is really different from most of American rap music but now it’s become the standard. It was really cool to see the energy. I feel a lot of people fuck with grime and grime producers more so than some artists because of the energy in the music.” Undoubtedly, the grime scene is in a good place due to its energy, but he says the same can’t be said for the music scene in his hometown. “In Baton Rouge, it’s a crabs in a bucket mentality, there’s no such thing as camaraderie. I have some friends that I make music with, it’s just me and three friends who fuck around and make music.”
That same sense of isolation seems to be a defining factor in the sound that he’s pioneered, as prior to playing venues like Berghain, Prudhomme mentions that he had never even been to a live show! “During the making of Japan, I’d never been to any shows – one of the first I went to was a Ryan Hemsworth show in New Orleans and it changed my whole perspective on music. I’d never seen music live before so it was really crazy to see it – music that i was kind of in the realm of – as opposed to seeing some rock band.”
Seeing your first live show is a milestone in the life on any young person, let alone a producer and the experience has clearly has a deep impact on his forthcoming material : “I really got into dance music over the last two or three years – I’d never listened to dance music before. I grew up on rap and stuff and I’d never given dance music a chance till early 2013. I like a lot of house and a lot of uk shit. I really like Palace (UTTU), he’s one of my favourite artists. In dance music, there’s a lot of room to do a lot of things. It’s a vibe thing.” He previously hinted at more club oriented styles on his Bromance records release and as the many different styles of music birthed in both the USA and UK continue to reach new ears in distant lands, we’ll undoubtedly enjoy the constant revelations of new and interesting interpretations of this ‘vibe’ he’s found. With grime and more club music reaching Japan, Australia and beyond we’ve enjoyed refreshing and inspiring takes on the music so it was even more exciting when he revealed that he was hanging out with London producer Dark0. When you’ve been so closely associated with an artist like Yung Lean, it can be hard to stand out in your right but and it’s clear he recognises this. “The sad boy thing was kind of ridiculous. They’ve definitely proved themselves. From where we’ve come with our song to now, they’ve transcend just being a meme. I’m all for things that sound good, but when it comes to making stuff I like to have a point with it. I usually use things that a harder to talk about because it’s easier to make a song about it than talk about it. Vulnerability is a concept I like to use a lot – I like to hear vulnerability in music. I hear it a lot in Visionist’s music – it sounds like pain.”
So if it wasn’t clear before, Suicideyear has a message. “It was a really big project to me when I first made it and it still is. I want people to look at it as punk project not a rap project, like some Jay Reatard, angsty kick a fan in the face, nosebleed punk! …If that were a genre.”
Japan is out now on Software records as a 12″ LP and digitally.
Livening the discourse surrounding the health of New York hip-hop in recent years (and concurrently providing somewhat of a chew toy for salty genre purists), Ratking made their full-length debut a year ago on the XL offshoot Hot Charity. The tripartite of Wiki, Hak, and producer Sporting Life have sidestepped label mediation however, for a new surprise 9-track release entitled 700-Fill, the group’s first offering since the album. The release is assembled as a BitTorrent Bundle; a newly minted media format from the file sharing service that allows the downloading of premium content unlocked by email subscription. Perusing the finished folder kind of felt like gazing at a popped cyber trunk, where you also had the option of copping the instrumental disk and got the drop on forthcoming merch. Here might be where an ignorant “industry vs. in-the-streets” dichotomy could be discussed (and Ratking’s place within it), but because they were willing to drop an album’s worth of album-ready material for free, they do seem grounded and in touch with their fan base despite steep success. As an act touted as conjuring the unvarnished spirit of grimey New York without a gimmicky entanglement with boom bap but instead with a novel chutzpah, this FREE-P sounds familiar.
There are instances of novelty for the group throughout the EP with respect to both sides of the board. Hak returns to form, abstracting his thoughts high above street level with exalted prose when he’s not gracing tracks with a impressive, albeit vulnerable, whispering singing voice (“Eternal Reveal” houses both). Meanwhile, Wiki spits decidedly more forthright compared to his album verses. His wit is still steady: in one head-shaking instance he makes innuendo of the popular half-and-half drink on the bridge of “Arnold Palmer”—“yeah I’m mixed bitch sip that iced tea and lemonade”. At the same time, they still showcase their technical ability through their knack for parlaying one bar into the next, finishing phrases uninterrupted by beat measures and iron-cold imagery. “At the laundry mat/ tryna clean my white t’s, my undies and my Yankees cap/ I ain’t make it back, I made it to the coldest cell that I’ve ever felt”, Hak remembers dead-eyed on hustle anthem opener “American Gods”, which features World’s Fair spitter Remy Banks. Though the odd cop diss seems inevitable from disenchanted New Yorkers, 700-Fill contains less commentary on the sociology of the city. It’s no doubt Wiki’s gnarling vocal timbre that predominates the Ratking sound remembers the angst-laden weariness of So It Goes, but decidedly that’s not what pervades the new project. “Sporting Life” continues to glue things together with tightly tuned drums, and, on the EP, we get a taste of the looser side of his oeuvre (“Eternal Reveal”, “Sticky Trap”) as well as some granular tech-inflected production (“Steep Tech”). The producer’s still at his best when in the vein of Heatmakerz, making “Bethel” cry with manipulated soul and a piercing backdrop mingling over a swung drum program. In some ways, 700-Fill is presented as an exposé of the city, more particularly about loathing a bitter North East winter and, something very immediate, the role (thematic) buff down jackets play. We learn from Ratking that there’s a direct relationship between the amount of feathers on your back and survival.
700-Fill was released March 4 (accumulating over 350k downloads in its first two days available) . Subscribe with your email to download the entire bundle via BitTorrent.
We’ve been fans of Brighton’s Where To Now? for some time, writing some effusive praise for Morkebla’s Nowhere, OK last year. Since then they’ve put out stellar releases from Roger Tellier-Craig, Nadia Khan, Tom James Scott and Beatrice Dillon to name but a few, and they’re soon to release their first full-length LP from Eugene Ward. We asked the guys behind the label to put together a mix that was true to their eclectic yet singular vision, and they didn’t disappoint. Sparklingly diverse, it’s hard to put words on it. So we’ll let the boys do that instead.
It felt appropriate to approach this mix with the view to showcase a strain of works that influence and inform our label releases and identity, to provide a little history and context. ‘Strain’ however is the key word here – our tastes have mutated over the years – we thought about producing a completely dance-floor-focused mix but frankly neither of us can mix at all, despite being casual DJs for years, so I guess this is the easy option.
Where To Now? took its first baby steps into the world via Brighton hang bar ‘The Penthouse’ many moons ago. We’d have a nice little sit down and nerd out over obscure Post-Punk, Minimal Wave, No-Wave, early On-U kind of stuff – sometimes people would dance, the vibe was always nice, popularity grew and people were into it. We produced and packaged homemade CDRs to give out on the night, and eventually Where To Now? grew into a radio show, and then a record label.
Perhaps in a way this mix harkens back to those early days, an excuse for us to both dive in to our record collections and dig out some tasty obscurities that really shouldn’t be obscure. A chance to revisit some of records that started this whole thing, and a chance to include some more modern cuts that hint towards where we are now, and where we might be going. Sink in.
– Where To Now?
Clive Oxford – Fading Star
Cabaret Voltaire – Jazz The Glass
Social Climbers – Palm Springs
Martin Rev – Parade
Eyeless In Gaza – Falling Leaf / Fading Flower; Goodbye To Summer
Anschluss – Age Of Crowds
Steven Brown – Zoo Story OST
Kevin Harrison – Chase The Dragon
Bill Laswell – Hindsight
Black Dice – Kokomo
Gravats – Îlot (Claves)
U – Let The Sun Shine In
Cru Servers – Tryll Reggoh
Lutto Lento – Sirena
Morgan Buckley – Weather Report
Hieroglyphic Being – The Electronic Belt
Boonlorm – Carpet people
Steve Reich – Drumming Part III
Words by Aidan Hanratty, 17 March 2015. Leave a comment
If Truly Blessed was a departure from the excellent Life Of A Savage 3, SD’s latest mixtape sees him continue evading confinement to any particular style. Young Chop drinches the record here and there with splashes of intricate organ melodies, while “Amnesia”, produced by Zaytoven & Will A Fool, makes for a more unusual track than you’d expect from this combination of artists. Both producers opt to not use their eagerly anticipated signature key work, though this familiar sound is still showcased by Will A Fool on “Rotation”. Metro Boomin completes the trifecta of standout heavy-hitters on an LP with very little features, but as with previous releases, suffers even less as a result. On the opposite shore, Dee Money samples “Dilemma” with therapeutic Lil-Mo era chimes running throughout; ‘Light up / Light Up / Light Up Your Smile’ fits perfectly with the elevating synth before a guitar takes over, appealing in a unique way to Jam City enthusiasts in 2015. This “Heartache Avenue” diversion of style gives him freedom which he evidently thrives in. Yet, it manages to stay within pre-rendered boundaries and therefore manages to not conflict with other more colossal songs on the tape.
The Midnight Episode is a duo based in Sweden (and possibly also Manchester) comprised of Nicola Cunningham & Karl Skagius. So far, they remain rather anonymous with a short bio and three mixes remaining to be all that’s out there to be found about them. It is through Kassem Mosse (a kindred spirit musically with Cunningham & Skagius in many ways, as one discovers listening to their broadcasts) that we discovered the latest of their mixes. A guest spot on the Future Music FM show with Austin Cassell, Midnight Episode put together a selection of spooky synth tracks, moody house (including an untitled track from Mosse, whose Ominira label is releasing an album by the pair sometime next year) spoken word recordings, techno, icy synth-pop and all manners of other fun, idiosyncratic music.
A typically unhinged trip through hell from Janus’ Lotic, recorded at last year’s Unsound Festival in Poland. Just about every rave music of the digital world can be found inside, deterritorialised by explosive mixing and relentless cultural clashes. As hardstyle is taught to speak with kuduro, there’s a distinct sense of dislocation and disorientation. These effects are fully explored in his terrifying and magical new EP for Tri Angle, “Heterocetera”, which came out earlier this month. Like the squealing alien fetus in Eraserhead that’s somehow kinda cute, Lotic’s dark intensity continues to enthrall us.
SXYLK and FXWRK (two constanant-loving makers unknown for the most part) sound like they produced their respective cuts for #IMF—Cakes Da Killa’s first stamp on 2015—while drunk on some type of dissociative elixir. While these abyssal, entrancing beats are what made the early moments of the EP feel so refreshing amongst a feed full of the usual, it’s the Brooklyn rapper who comes through jabber-mouthed with cogent recounts of racy intimacies that make it even more alluring. The title track is primed for a flip from MikeQ—it’s really a HA crash away from being one, and that prospect alone should indicate how well these songs probably work in a club environment even if it’s easy to imagine the rapper gasping for air midway through a set. As an electric, urban-underground outlet, Mishka’s record label is again the proper outlet for a Cakes Da Killa bundle.
Heavee has been making a big name for himself these past couple years as a strong newcomer from the Teklife crew. While he’s always had a strong foundation in footwork drum rhythms, it’s his synth work in particular that really set his sound apart. Where his previous single “Get Me Started” managed to intertwine footwork and jungle on a break net dance floor filler, on the new Drop Off EP, his usual signature rhythms are pushed to new areas. Heavee’s slight of hand moves effortlessly through the dense first track “Out There”, with bopping drums and a noodling bass line through out and “Impulse” merges proper acid and juke elements to become the EP’s standout track. Truancy Tip: buying the album off his Bandcamp will give you a bonus free four track EP, so get it while it’s hot!