Monday, 27 July 2009
Cassie; really, what can I say that I haven't said already? One of the most misunderstood, unnecessarily maligned vocalists of the decade? The always beautiful ice cold still in a storm of groaning machines and coral coloured beats. Electro Love HAS to be released this year, but in the meantime another song has leaked, this time with Darkchild on production duties providing Cassie with a rare, straight up, dancefloor killa. Channeling her inner Janet Jackson when Ms. Jackson was only concerned with making hi-tech brittle funk, Cassie effortlessly taunts and teases over a juddering electro beat continually tripping over itself and a series of tron laser whooshes. If it's not as nuanced as something like the minimal, future girl doo-wop genius of "Summer Charm" it's still a damn sight better than the Red One attrocity I'm choosing to ignore forever.
I would never confess to being any kind of expert, and I'm still in the process of navigating my way through the chaff and the wheat, but after some initial confusion between niche, wonky, bassline, etc, I've slowly embraced the fresh new sounds of Funky (still an appalling name) on the grounds that it's combination of feminine energy, heavyhitting frenetic percussion and a strange sense of awkward tension that seems to haunt over so many of the scene's best songs, happens to tick all the right boxes. That's also not to mention the fact that a 2 hour mix Marcus Nasty made for 1Xtra has continued to blow my mind with it's sheer restless noisiness and the way in which the scene in general has really started to impress in producing some seriously strong tracks that could easily contend with the best of 2-steps digi-diva heartbreakers. "Go" is another slice of "you did me wrong, get out of my sight" angst R&B, but Crazy Cousinz with their ever faithful piano staccato stabs and rumbling drums inject some urgency and frenzy into a track that should rule the airwaves if there was ever any justice in the world.
It's been a very busy week so I haven't had a chance to say thanks to everyone who came out last week for SO BONES and to Alex who DJed an amazing set! So....THANKS! "R.P.M." and "Drink In My Cup" absolutely killed! It was amazing! Goodbye London. Hello NYC.
Tuesday, 21 July 2009
"Break Up" has been perplexing me for a long time now. A few months ago I kind of dismissed it when commenting in relation to a new Mike Jones song, on how many "A Milli" copycats had been born since that monumental masterpiece of drunk gamelan atmospherics entered into our lives. Something about Mario's oddly balanced admission for being a bad boyfriend, who even so is incapable of hiding his shock at the notion that someone would ever want to break up with him made me feel uneasy, not to mention the way in which sonically, absolutely nothing seemed to make much sense at all.
Then sometime this week I came to my senses and remembered how much I love uneasy music, and now I wonder why I ever questioned this lecherous Bangladesh banger in slo-mo which feels as if multiple, monotone drunk loverboys are slurring robotically into your ears at the end of a heavy night, while a nagging Fisher Price melody skips across the distinctly weird jumble of low bass drops and repeating snare hits. It shouldn't be addictive, but it is. And horribly so.
Look out for my Essential Guide to... Danja article which is going to be appearing in FACT magazine very soon, where I dork out over ten of the man's best and brightest robo-funk demons. One song I seriously considered musing about, but that was narrowly edged out of things, was this unreleased Danja produced bliss pop gem from newly signed NYC duo, Pen Up Girls, which opens up with the atonal chugging noise of an obnoxious, fuzzy synthline encrusted in grime which is suddenly submerged and swept up into a seriously dreamy milkshake tsunami of surging bubble beats and super soft cloud cruising electronic tics.
Lastly, I know that commercial success doesn't necessarily equate creative accomplishment, but it's hard to feel good about the fact that so many SO BONES heroes have lately been floundering in the charts, if they've even managed to get close enough to tip their toes into such heavily polluted waters. Electrik Red, Rich Girl, Cassie, and even to an extent, Ciara, have all had their recent material fall upon a mass of deaf ears. "Delirious" by Vistoso Bosses is another beautifully crafted gem that has failed to catch on in the wider world and it's really a crying shame. Produced by Mr Collipark, taking a break from extolling the virtues of ringtone rap and seemingly retired from helping to make sex sound like the creepiest possible thing a person could engage in, "Delirious" is a sweet and breezy piece of candyfloss R&B floating on an updraft of pastel flute and haunted by the dew eyed freestyle balladeers of yesterday, the kind of thing Cassie and Nina Sky sing on their bittersweet bambi days. It deserved so much more.
FINALLY...SO BONES is happening tonight at Catch in Shoreditch. It's going to be last SO BONES to take place in London for the foreseeable future, what with me swanning back off to NYC, where there will definitely be some SO BONES activity taking place very soon.
If you wanna shake out some joint muscles to the sounds of everything you read about on here (no fucking Akon) then make sure you come down! Alex Macpherson is guest DJ for the night, and Isa GT will be doing her thing downstairs!
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Plus check out what The Metro had to say.
My kindred (Diamond) in mid Scherzinger rapture...all that we can aspire too for tonight.
Friday, 17 July 2009
The headfucker of the year has arrived and Christina Milian has her name all over it. The woman, whose album I'm most surprised to be looking forward too this year, has been working exclusively with The Dream and Tricky Stewart, hence why I'm anticipating her stuff so much, and on the basis of "Chameleon" it could very well be some next level stuff. One thing needs to be said about this track right from the outset; it WILL screw with people's brains. Some will love it and understand the genius that goes into making something as sonically extreme as a song that almost entirely dispences of the sonics all together, whilst others will scratch their heads, dumbfounded by something so minimal and odd, and loathe it with a consuming kind of passion.
"Chameleon" is virtually an acapella, sung so closely you can't help but feel an intense creepiness wash over you, Milian whispering left of centre lyrics throughout, her voice occassionally breaking out under the pressure of trying to maintain such a quiet register and creating vocal tic moments that could have almost the same power as the finger cymbal moments in Milkshake. While Milian's serpentine voice takes on the heavy lifting, a hypnotic phantom tabla full of mysterious voodoo charm plays over an unmovable low bass growl that ominously rumbles throughout. And that's it! Honestly listening to this I feel like a spider trapped in a web, the reverberations of the skeletal soundframe just another terrifying pluck of the silk. But seriously at a time when most R&B sounds so maximalist it's as if malfunctioning robot armies are running through minefields, "Chameleon" feels intoxicatingly fresh. Elope indeed!
Don't forget that next week SO BONES bids farewell to London once again and heads on over to NYC, so come to Catch on Thursday 23rd July for a dance party of Electrik Red and vintage Darkchild!!!!
Obligatory Facebook thing
Tuesday, 7 July 2009
If this isn't one of the most inventive club bangers of the year, then 2009 will have been a golden year indeed. Based on the leaks, Clipse look all but destined to stumble over the remnants of their previous classics with their upcoming album Til The Casket Drops, but miraculously, and almost from out of nowhere veterans of the scene Quik and Kurupt have emerged out of the mists to deliver the kind of crushing minimalist genius we've usually come to expect of the Virginia duo.
Emamanting from the speakers with tooth cracking verocity "9 x Outta 10" attacks the eardrums like a tighter wound version of "Grindin" that continues to slither and mutate from beginning to end, a diced up, semi-operatic, mournful vocal line fluttering in suspension throughout, barely managing to hold itself above the violently, hollow drums that penetrate the empty spaces in the song, while the sounds of gathering storm clouds hover and threaten to engulf everything beneath them. Seriously, by the end of the year few things will have probably rattled as viscerally as this future classic.
It's interesting and fascinating how music can unexpectedly transport your mind to places you never expected it to take you, especially if you happen to have a ridiculously overactive imagination which tends to lead you down strange pathways. When I listened to the hyphy madness of "Jacka No Hoe", equal parts industrial mood, drunk goof, I never anticipated that it might remind me of the classic 1980's ghost film "The Changeling", but it did and that's almost entirely down to the four note echoing bang that brings the track to life, a sound eerily similar to the supernatural noise that haunts the unfortunate soul terrorized in his cavernous mansion by a phantom child. Add to that a whining plastic violin, the kind of which might be heard drifting from under cracks in the doors to the locked rooms of cheap, phantasm B-movies, and a sparse, chattering synth line that drifts and vibrates in the air, and you've got one of the more bizarre bangers of recent.
After a few weeks of sun, thunder and lightning here on the island of castles and ghosts, I shall be returning to NYC very soon, and in excited anticipation I've been listening to a lot of Ricky Blaze, more so than usual. Last time I was in Brooklyn the trancehall strains of assorted hyperactive Blaze productions seemed to drift through the dry air for an eternity (as well as "Turnin Me On") which made me feel if I closed my eyes I could imagine I was wondering the streets of some pixelated sub-tropic jungle. This cut from Young AK is one of my favourites. I'm just a total sucker for those midi-epic, trance synth arpeggios that wash over you as various sized electronic bubbles make their way to the surface. Roll on Supercore.
Friday, 3 July 2009
I wasn't expecting this. Keke Palmer is one of those Disney poppets that I like to imagine are being produced Queen Alien style in the murky bowels of the Magic Kingdom hidden away beneath the Cinderella Palace, with such speed more and more of them emerging from their pods with terrifying, world conquering white grins. Anyway her debut album kinda came and went despite containing some surprisingly interesting moments like the almost indecipherable, video game rainforest lolita-pop of "Game Song". "Superjerkin", which may feature on her upcoming album is a shockingly decent nod to the L.A. Jerk sound I wrote about a while back, another dance crazed influenced sub genre that sounds like a combination of snap and hyphy. The song itself is built on a skeletal framework of fingersnaps, sparse Atari beats, machine claps, and dive-bomb bass which is intermittently shattered by blunt blocks of electro dread and the robotic gabbering of an evil T-Pain chipmunk, all coming together to create a seriously addictive, dark, disco killer. Dancing on glass.
Love Vs Money has only been out for a few months, and will probably end up being the R&B album of the year, but The Dream is already gearing up to release a new album by the end of the year called Love King. "Hit It On The Road", which will probably end up on the new record, sees The Dream operating in ominous, creep crunk mode working with the sound he perfected on Drink In My Cup and High Price, pounding beats and 808 violence, not to mention a hypnotic droning chorus that whirls around inside your head til you feel like you're eyes might roll into the back of your skull. The man can do no wrong. Bring on the Milian LP now.
Don't forget about tomorrow. SO BONES will be playing a set at IAC, as will MJ Cole and Zomby. I don't need to explain how good this will be.
And in a few weeks SO BONES bids farewell to London and heads on over to NYC, but not before throwing a party at Catch on July 23rd. COME!!!!
Obligatory Facebook thing
Wednesday, 1 July 2009
Song of the Summer. Last year it never truly materialised, unless you include the kosmiche-disney balladry of Jordin Sparks and our generation's Ike, which even if you do, wasn't really the same as previous year's tropic monsters; the icy Carpenter film-score minimalism of "Me & U", the skeletal riddim blues of "Uh Oh", and the all synths blazing juggernaut that was "Umbrella." I was a little concerned one wouldn't emerge this year either, but thankfully Nina Sky have shown up to own it (along with some friends.)
Appearing on the Major Lazer digi-dancehall record, "Keep It Goin Louder" also features trancehall star Ricky Blaze in full on autocroon mode, and is a galloping, dumb & fun paean to good times shrouded in enough Florida swamp mist to keep things interesting. The girls effortlessly weave around a framework of echoing kiddie calls and euphoric synths, before the whole thing bizarrely seems to transform into a riddim update on Olive's "You're Not Alone." If this and Chelley's "Took The Night" drown out everything else in the NYC air these coming months, I shall be content.
And while I'm talking about Nina Sky...where is the second album? If you think Cassie has had release problems, Nina Sky look professionally cursed considering The Musical was supposed to come out in 2006. What makes the pill all that more bitter is that so far all the leaks have been amazing in a bringing back freestyle kind of way. This Ryan Leslie produced track with it's metallic butterfly wing flutter synths and weeping machine beats has definitely been one of the best to have emerged so far. Fingers X for this year.
Just a reminder, this Saturday SO BONES will be djing IAC 17 at Corsica Studios. UK garage legend MJ Cole, rave phantom Zomby and lots of other kool people are playing. Get your tickets now cause chances are you wont be able too on the night. Obligatory Facebook page!