Reviews

Paul White: Rapping With Paul White

Paul White |
Rapping With Paul White |
One Handed Music |

I’ll be up front with you, I have all of Paul White’s digital releases, mixtapes, some of his limited edition 7” vinyls and purport he can easily be viewed as England’s answer to Madlib. Those of you also in the know probably found him by way of fellow One Handed Music artist Bullion, as both got picked up by the BBC’s Benji B and Mary Anne Hobbs amidst the new wave of ‘future beats’ hip hop. I’m not alone in my opinions: in 2009, shortly after the release of his debut album Paul White and The Purple Brain, the prominent producer / DJ Diplo said he was White’s “biggest fan”; as White’s work strongly parallels Diplo’s early (and largely unknown) psychedelic hip hop album Florida. So it seems White is creating a cult following; by day, a library music producer with credits from Channel 4 and the BBC to his name, and by night he is the ‘new hope’ for British hip hop.

Existing fans will find Rapping With Paul White a stronger release than Paul White and The Purple Brain whilst new listeners will find this is the coolest record they have yet to smoke weed too. In sum, the album includes eight rap tracks, seven instrumentals and a couple of skits. The skits are welcome brain food for sample spotters; they also seem to contextualise, or book-end the narrative in all of White’s collage based work. Rapping With Paul White further accentuates the producer’s love of British audio books, radio dramas and music library curiosities. His avoidance of the traditional soul, jazz and funk hip hop sample sources in favour of progressive and psychedelic rock, retro television and the abandoned vinyl of charity shops affects an intrinsically English hip hop semantic, that is both original and appropriate.

Although White has toyed with the idea of collaborating with rappers before (last year, he reworked one of his own tracks, Ancient Treasure, by having Detroit’s Guilty Simpson rip gangster prose over the beat) this second LP finds the producer concede half of the album to some of hip-hop’s finest; featuring Danny Brown, Guilty Simpson, Homeboy Sandman, Jehst and more. This is no surprise really as Paul White & The Purple Brain, was co-released by both One-Handed and Los Angeles-based Now Again, a sister label of Stones Throw Records (Madlib, Dilla, DOOM etc). Stones Throw artist Guilty Simpson appears twice on the Rapping With Paul White, bringing his Detroit ghetto experience to the stand out track Trust Dirty.

Reminiscent of his spits with Dabrye, yet with an entirely more digestible flow and discernible story, Guilty Simpson seems more at home with his abstract hip hop here; perhaps because Paul has given him an easy run with this and Dirty Slang, two of the most downbeat and accessible tracks on the album. Production wise, Trust Dirty is definitive Paul White indulging in his penchant for sombre and dense psychedelic timbres; as ghostly shepherd tones descend upon dusty swinging kicks and arpeggiated synths build around syncopated drum metal and lusciously layered claps. Trust Dirty is also an example of how, throughout the release, it is really hard to tell whether some sounds are samples or synths; that’s the level of sophisticated pastiche and synth work we are listening to here.

This makes it really difficult to describe Rapping With Paul White more, in terms of sonic components, but once you’ve heard it, you’ll thank me for not attempting this too much; the real joy of Paul White is to be found by simply losing yourself in his wondrous sonic dreams.

Download a free promotional copy of The Doldrums and Trust Dirty, featuring Guilty Simpson, plus the instrumental over here.

Frijsfo Beats Volume 3: Various Artists

Frijsfo Beats have a tasty piece of the 2012 cake on their plate, with the imminent release of volume three in their series of vinyl EP compilations. Tuned in to the various new mutations of garage, this latest release joins label stalwart Geiom with three newer artists; Cardopusher, Desto and Submerse, all of whom have been hotly tipped for bigger things in this year’s blogosphere.

Cardopusher is a Venezuelan expatriate based in Barcelona, where I interviewed him at Sonar 2009 and discussed how keen he was to escape the sonic confines of gabba core. At the time, he was moving into some quality dubstep production, but this hungry producer has ended up pushing through into the golden triangle of tropical house, soul techno, and neo garage.

The opening ping pong beats and game show synths of Then What evoke the sunny days and electric nights of Barcelona, then suddenly the drop falls by way of a comical tom roll in to an early naughties 2-step swing. Full of production tricks that fill the track with dynamic and a slathering of nicely separated, funky triplet percussion; Then What is coloured by filmic strings, electric piano stabs, descending organ lines, and a typical (but pleasing) garage synth bass line. Packing enough technical skill for the headz and buckets of funk for the legs, Then What is an undeniable dance floor starter; easily solidifying Cardopusher into the top tier of the European underground.

Finnish producer Desto, whiplashes us into the next track with his remix of Kuoyah’s Convex Gravity (released digitally last year on Frijsfo). It follows two twelves for London’s hip Ramp Recordings and finds another victim of the Chicago juke and footwork beat wave. Deploying DJ Rashad’s take on chopped and screwed vocals, with Chicago hip hop kits and acid synth lines, Desto’s remix is a violent dance floor throw down that will sync easily into your last Addison Groove 12”.

Next up is 90’s idm survivor Geiom, who first began blowing listeners a third ear hole with releases on Neo Ouija and Manchester’s Skam records, alongside legends like Lego Feet (Autechre), Jega, Team Doyobi, and Boards of Canada. Geiom’s Chip Voices is a happy portamento synth slip n’ side, coupled with time stretched garage rushes and warm chorus bass lines. Listening to Chip Voices, older fans of the more dance oriented idm oeuvre will feel like they never left the 90’s – and really appreciate it – whilst young future garage hipsters will undoubtedly be rinsing this on their next Sub FM show.

Finally, in an exciting coup for Frijsfo, the young Submerse brings his otaku garage following, to what sounds like, the next level of his productions. Toning down his hyper j-pop garage in favour of the uber fashionable kick – milk bottle and chain rattle approach to 2-step; Bubblin’ tends sweet acapella cuts with layers of warm pads, tinted with the noise of a compressed synth breeze and the whistle of electric crickets.

This new work by Submerse may find the producer maturing stylistically, but the polished production and emo heart ache remain amidst a sparser vantage point, ensuring everyone will be seeing Submerse rising in to the next 12 months. Overall, kudos belongs to Frijsfo here for curating a very high quality collection of intelligent yet dance floor oriented works, that will sell well to both DJ’s, critics and fans alike.

Various Artists
Frijsfo Beats Volume 3
Frijsfo

A1 – Cardopusher – Then What
A2 – Kuoyah – Convex Gravity (Desto remix)
B1 – Geiom – Chip Voices
B2 – Submerse – Bubblin’

Review by: Sean Taylor

Gang Colours: In Your Gut Like A Knife

Gang Colours |
In Your Gut Like A Knife
|
Brownswood Recordings |

In Your Gut Like A Knife sets a high bar for urban electronica in 2011 and despite efforts to find anything dislikable about this release, it just doesn’t seem to be there. Like a moping ghost, Gang Colours (aka Will Ozanne) sound sways in ambiguity, not leaning towards one genre or the other and ending up in scarily authentic territory. It’s not so surprising then, that the debut EP finds Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Recordings take a slight step towards the post garage oeuvres of labels like Hotflush, whose break out act Mount Kimbie will resonate strongly with this release.

Like Kimbie, Gang Colours arranges aching melodies and chord progressions with inflections of soul and r&b to conjure the forlorn and the mysterious. Yet, this EP isn’t all down beat and holds enough bump and grind for the ‘purple wow’ DJ mixes of Joker or the indie electronica of Gold Panda. There is a plethora of sound to be found throughout the EP with its washing pitch bent pads that roll in and out against grime paced 808 kits, whilst processed noises rip themselves out in front of the mix and sampled vocals are chopped apart and stabbed back together.

The starry journey of Village & The City gives the initial impression that it was produced on a half broken home keyboard – you can almost picture the producer, head bent over and long hair falling over the keys – before you know it, your in and then out of the midst of a groove that seamlessly comes and goes. Placed strategically at the start of the EP, this tune is destined for wide crossover appeal and is much more positive in its emotion than the following tracks.

Fireworks In Pocket carries slow burning sub synth weight, but remains delicate like an r&b slow jam. It’s tight knit stepping hi-hats are nicely offset against a whole orchestration of lo-fi synth melodies, horn blasts and even synth guitar bridges. The track immediately places you into a headphone zone and is an enticing teaser of what Gang Colours might do with a long player in the future.

Dance Around the Subject can be listed as one for the DJ set with its emphatic builds and drops and (eventual) jamming club melody that would line it up as a useful intra-mix tune. However, the eponymous In Your Gut Like A Knife is the standout tune of this release, with its weaving of warm pads with portamento-heavy organs and restrained hip hop shuffle. The gated r&b vocal is also superbly worked and when let out of its cage, sends shivers down the back while the sweetly simple and cyclic melody leaves you with one hand placed over your heart.

There couldn’t be a better place than Brownswood Recordings for this Gang Colours release, where the status of label head Gilles Peterson and his fine BBC Radio 1 show will undoubtedly see the artist reach far across the spectrum this year.

Sean Taylor



Track listing:

01 Village & City

02 Fireworks In Pocket

03 Dance Around The Subject

04 In Your Gut Like A Knife

Hessle Audio: 116 & Rising

Various Artists |
116 and Rising |
Hessle Audio |

Hessle Audio’s first label compilation release 116 & Rising is a timely output that places the U.K based label firmly at the head of the bass bin vanguard. Existing fans will delight in the array of old favourites amongst the 12 new tracks available on the CD version out on May 16th. Excitingly, this means new fire from Pangea, Pearson Sound, Blawan, Untold, Addision Groove, James Blake and Cosmin TRG. The first disc is all the new work while the second has a cured selection from the Hessle Audio back catalogue. The new tracks will constitute the vinyl edition of 116 & Rising which is a 12″ triple-pack with the graphic finesse on both CD and vinyl editions produced by Will Bankhead.

Founded in 2007 amidst the peak of the global dubstep movement, Hessle Audio epitomises the agency that UK bass music affords in absorbing genres from across the spectrum of electronic dance music. 116 & Rising reflects many of various blends of U.K garage and dubstep, as well as hard house and Detroit techno. It is no small feat to portray such a free and open music culture in a single compilation, yet this release does just that without losing it’s vision of the future bass underground.

Highlights include a James Blake re-edit of an earlier Hessle Audio release Give a man a rod, more in the vocal vein of his recent album. Blake’s electronic soul music, finds a unique nexus in the affected vocals, dancing cowbells, stabs of funky vibrato synth and cluttered post garage beat shuffles. Also present is Blake’s trademark organ arrangements and side-chained compression that feeds a pulsing life into the track.

Pangaea contributes significantly to the ‘core continuum’ sound of the compilation with the dread style garage raver Runout, a tune that will unite many tastes. With its jump up rhythms, catch call vocal sample, tense strings, rising rave organ synth and dub bass line, this tune is just oozing drugs. The relatively unknown artist Randomer straightens things up a bit with his serious tune Brunk; a door slamming kick drum and percussion jam with minimal accompaniment a la fellow 116 & Rising producer Untold, that would fit nicely in a DJ set just pre-peak time.

There are other tunes that are less four to the floor such as Twice, where the curious producer named Joe expounds upon the geeky producer obsession with Casio keyboard beats, typewriter hacks and marble runs. Along with its jazz cuts and what sounds like an Eddy Murphy sample (“…your getting, twice the bass”) this tune is at once accessible and experimental. However, I can’t help but feel that this superb sample find has been used on the wrong track; a producer couldn’t ask for a better vocal sample reference to bass and considering this, the tune fails to make the most of the low end.

Nevertheless, the rest of 116 & Rising is certainly more than bass abundant and features early influences on Hessle Audio such as the never before released archive cut Sub Zero by D1. These sub-bass stabs were a staple of the early DMZ raves back in 2005 and are a welcome reminder of how dubstep can be both refined and dark without getting too aggressive. Overall, Hessle Audio owners David Kennedy, Ben Thomson and Kevin McAuley have raised their best colours for this first compilation outing to successfully unite their artist roster whilst navigating the needs of both their existing and newer audiences.

Tracklist: 116 and Rising
CD 1
01. Elgato – Music (Bodymix)
02. Untold – Cool Story Bro
03. Blawan – Potchla Vee
04. Pearson Sound – Stifle
05. Joe – Twice
06. Randomer – Brunk
07. Pangaea – Runout
08. Cosmin TRG – Bijoux
09. D1 – Sub Zero
10. Addison Groove – Fuk Tha 101
11. James Blake – Give A Man A Rod (Second Version)
12. Peverelist – Sun Dance

CD 2
01. Pangaea – You & I
02. Untold – Test Signal
03. Blawan – Fram
04. James Blake – Buzzard & Kestrel
05. Untold – I Can’t Stop This Feeling
06. Joe – Rut
07. Ramadanman – Blimey
08. TRG – Put You Down
09. Joe – Level Crossing
10. Pangaea – Why
11. TRG – Broken Heart (Martyn’s DCM Remix)
12. Ramadanman – Don’t Change For Me

Pearson Sound / Ramadanman: Fabriclive 56

When i met with UK producer and DJ Ramadanman / Pearson Sound, on his Australian tour last year, what struck me was his deference to bass music culture as something that should be left free and foot stomping. Audibly in tune with this encounter is his forward thinking and rolling dance-floor mix for Fabriclive 56.

The 30-track mix delivers a crucial selection embracing rhythms from the Shangaan dance of Tiyiselani Vomaseve to the percussive experiments of London based Die Barbie Musik Kollektive. Other highlights come from illustrious producers like Burial, Mala, Carl Craig, and MJ Cole as well as a number of tunes from Kennedy’s different monikers. Following a deluge of 12″s released last year on game-changing labels like Swamp 81, Hemlock, Aus, Applepips and Soul Jazz, roughly a third of the tracks in the mix are Kennedy’s own productions. The mix also boasts a number of previously unreleased tracks from Joy Orbison, J Kenzo, Pangaea and Addison Groove that illustrate the latest crossbreeds of house, dubstep, garage and juke.

Kicking the mix off with the impending urgency of his own Pearson Sound track Hawker, Kennedy eases into the hand clapping grooves of Levon Vincent’s Late Night Jam and then slides into the dream like melodies of Elgato’s Music. Things soon begin to heat up African style with the feel good vocals of Tiyiselani Vomaseve and tribal percussion of another Pearson Sound beat Wad. Kennedy then quickly migrates the mix into traditional UK club territory with anthem’s from Julio Bashmore and a number of his own techno and juke driven tunes, followed by the knee jerking UK Funky rhythms of J Kenzo and a Lil Silva Dub of Fugative.

In a display of masterful discipline, Kennedy avoids boiling over the funky tip and provides a psychological breather with the Detroit sounds of Demons by A Made Up Sound and Inna Daze by Pangea. Kennedy uses such transitions skillfully to his advantage by not over indulging the denser dubs, favouring his techno and house tendencies to blow away any induced trances with an all out banger. You can particularly hear this around his mix of Pinch’s Qawwali where, if Kennedy was one for big rewinds, the Joy Orbison vs Ramadanman tune J. Doe Them, or later on Girl Unit’s IRL would certainly be spinning backwards for a live crowd.

A regular at Fabric, Ramadanman’s live mixes have the ability to make older tunes sound fresh and new anthems appear unexpected, as they are fluidly teased and pushed into the mix. As Kennedy explains, his Fabriclive mix is, “all very much live mixing – no time stretching or auto beat matching … and is representative of a set I would play in a club.” Indeed, every crossfade works to stimulate a different neuron or tweak a new muscle. His obsession with finely cured beat programming, stabbing basslines and melodic synths are front and centre, as is a lasting affinity for dubstep. “Even though I don’t play much stuff at 140bpm these days, I always like to end up at that tempo as that is the music that got me to where I am.”

Pearson Sound/Ramadanman
Fabriclive 56
FABRIC

Review by: Sean Taylor