Bass Music . Future Beats . Nu Garage


Genre pick of the week Cover of Let's Jam EP2 by Zomby.
XL Recordings release not one but two new Zomby EPs.

While ‘Let’s Jam EP1’ went more for a 4/4 / house sound, ‘Let’s Jam EP2’ heads down the BPMs for more of a grime / trap feel. EP opener ‘Neon’ meshes a growling steam-punk bottom end with fluttering mechanical keyboard work and metallic percussion. ‘Bloom’ ups the pace, with bass bombing subs, gunshot percussion and fidgeting synth arpeggios. For ‘Peroxide’, think ‘Bloom’, but in a digital hip hop style of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony with Japanese leanings. Lastly we get ‘Xenon’, a slow-paced electroid number with lush synth chords and rattling 808 drum rolls, which creates a similar cinematic sound to the Art Of Noise.

In Laurel Halo terms, the 18 month wait between 2013's "Chance Of Rain" and her latest masterpiece seems like a lifetime. Fear not though, the prodigious and productive Michegan native shows no sign of ringrust, delivering her strongest, most coherent LP yet for this Honest Jon's debut. By the time the thunderous, dislocated organic beat of "Situation" reveals itself, you're already hooked into a hypno-dance, nodding, bobbing and weaving away to the sinuous subs, mellow keys and spectral textures. Experimental but still deeply danceable, this advanced hybrid of retro-techno idents and future proofed production marries the organic and synthetic perfectly. The distorted ambient of "Leaves" acts as a palate cleanser before the off kilter array of metallic synths and industrial artefacts of "Nebenwirkungen" and blown out percussion of "Drift" take us on a psychoactive trip to a dystopian rave. "Nah" opens the second half with a dislocated fusion of Pepe Bradock's deep house and fractured technoid beats while "Shake" layers filtered modem sounds over a percolating rhythm before the deepest warmest subs imaginable flood through your system. As the journey nears its end the full frequency experimental assault of "Nimrud" paves the way for album closer "Focus I" an immersive shoulder roller which takes the broken jazz house of Floating Points into a whole new sonic domain. Stellar stuff from the mighty Laurel Halo.


Relaxin' With Lolina

Inga Copeland dons another moniker for another genre twist, this time trying out a fusion of synth-pop, future beats and alt-R&B. After initial MP3 and FLAC dispersal, "Relaxin' With Lolina" now arrives as a super-limited three track CD / 12" EP for us physical formatters. Featuring an unnerving childlike quality on the one side (Copeland's treated vocals, nursery rhyme style lyrics) and a whole gravel load of surface noise and electronic interference on the other, "Lolina" has an otherworldly, disorienting feel to it. "Miss Understood" grabs dancehall riddims and fractured pop as its two ingredients, creating some weird alt-ragga-pop hybrid. Unsettling track of the week is "Relaxx", which has no relaxing qualities at all. Creepy treated vocals and spidery, discordant piano lines, marimbas and mechanical noise make for queasy listening,

‘Ancient Mechanisms’ is the fourth album by globetrotting London production duo LV. It traces a train of thought that was sparked by a live session with Tigran Hamasyan back in 2012: two and a half years down the line and a trip to Belgium later, the finished record is as much about the workings of musical artefacts as it is about putting the virtuoso pianist into new contexts.

The duo, made up of Simon Williams and Will Horrocks, found the insides and mechanisms (hint) of the instruments they were working with to be of increasing interest as the project developed. They found a discarded, portable piano in the former’s new flat and spent hours painstakingly recording its notes, creaks and noises. This left them in possession of a MIDI keyboard that sounded like something from “a bar in a wild west movie” and featured heavily on the album. ‘Ruiselede’ makes reference to the town whose piano museum in which they were able to record Hamasyan playing on its collection of antique grand pianos.

LV have always thrived by working with new collaborators and environments. In the past there’s been joint efforts with London poet Josh Idehen and journeys to South Africa for kwaito-infused productions with Johannesburg MCs. It was from working with Hamasyan that their attention began to shift to the piano itself. “We got into the sound that instruments make themselves, not just the production of the sound,” says Williams, “We got into the actual sound of keys being hit.”

Anyone who heard the Maida Vale session that laid the foundations for the album will know how exciting it was to hear delicate jazz musicality at play with UK-tinged dance rhythms. ‘Jump and Reach’ builds on that potential, with circling piano going toe to toe with rolling drums and stabs of bass. But Hamasyan wasn’t just providing pretty riffs for them to work with, he also fed into the process of how they worked. As Horrocks says, “His musical interests are much more broad than perhaps people would expect,” something that’s on show in ‘Infinite Spring’ where his penchant for looping pedals has produced a wash of sound easy to fall adrift in.

The exploration of what lay inside the instruments in front of them is the thread holding this unique record together: strands ranging from foreign surroundings to the darker corners of London’s club lineage are channelled into exploring that idea. There are field recordings of Belgium’s streets along with snare hits in ‘Transition’ that nod to the studio where a nascent dubstep’s sparse aesthetic was born. As an album, it draws together disparate interests in a way that feels compellingly coherent.

MAT 101

Archives 1999-2001

    Italian arcade electro superstars Mat 101 are back on Cyber Dance Records with this LP of lost recordings from the vaults . During the late 90s resurrection of electro, when the sound transitioned into a darker, more psychedelic style at the hands of the European producers, Mat 101 were at the forefront of the revolution, taking inspiration from the pure electro sounds of the arcade games of their youth and representing the classic Italian sound in new and unexpectedly brilliant ways. Their legacy was immense, spawning Jollymusic, Pigna People, Raiders Of The Lost Arp and Francisco (among many other projects) and inspiring subsequent generations of electro wannabes with how to do it properly ever since. This LP brings together their lost recordings, some intended for a second LP that never was, along with live cuts and rarities as well as other unreleased material. However the album is in no way merely a random collection of lost bits and pieces - what is surprising is how fresh, finished and naturally flowing the record sounds, so much so that it really would have made a worthy follow up to their classic 1999 "Goodbye Mum!" first album. The breadth of sound on the records, from the gently hypnotising strains of "Marble Madness" and the blissful climax of "Gloria Gloria" to the intense electro jamming of "Commando" and the progressive rave monster "Toys Around", is truly stunning. And with dancefloor anthems like "Falling Down Suite" and "Musicadambiente" thrown into the mix too the release is essential ammunition for both DJ activists and armchair-listeners alike.

    XL Recordings release not one, but two new Zomby EPs.

    ‘Let’s Jam EP1’ features four brand new tracks, all of them on a club-ready bass-house tip: ‘Surf’ has classic Chicago stylings, with grumbling bassline, kick and keyboards all very much sticking to the 4/4 rhythm, while the spoken sample "surf" is dropped in to add to the repetitive effect. ‘Surf 2’ ups the pace for more of a hyped tech-house touch, adding moody string fills and doubling up on the "surf"s. Needless to say, ‘Acid Surf’ uses even more of the Chi-Town go-to drum machine, adding 808 toms to the mix, along with blaring air horns. ‘Slime’ is a tough electroid slammer with rattling metallic percussion, darkwave synths and an acid rave synth loop.

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