This Page

has moved to a new address:


Sorry for the inconvenience…

Redirection provided by Blogger to WordPress Migration Service
White Noise: March 2013

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Romare – Love Songs (Part One)

Label: Black Acre

Romare’s debut EP Meditations On Afrocentrism, which topped our list of 2012’s best EPs, seemed like a feat too impressive to repeat. Drawing musical influence largely from footwork, blues and hip hop, the collection expertly fused the cerebral - indeed the downright academic - with eminently listenable grooves and mature production chops. The collage of styles and samples apparently took a year of research to make, and now almost exactly one year on the Londoner has come back with a second volume just as good if not better, with a great new collage on the cover and a new musical target in his sights.

Taste Of Honey (From The City)

If Meditations drew largely from African music styles and sounds, here Romare sets his sights on the African-American tradition, with samples ranging from Peggy Lee to Nina Simone to Jimi Hendrix. He kicks off proceedings with the propulsive Your Love (You Give Me Fever), where Lee’s familiar tones are re-purposed, chopped into a call-and-reply with herself over a field of juke beats and delicate synthwork which progresses from warm ambient hum to searing siren as the track wears on. The final two minutes offer an energetic payoff to the releases most danceable tune as the energy keeps mounting over hushed finger clicks and threatening bass sweeps til the close. While many of Romare’s tunes could be said to tell a story, particularly Meditations’ closer which showed a keen awareness of the problems that face a white producer sampling black music, second cut Jimi & Faye (Part One) uses vocal samples brilliantly to chart Hendrix’s ascent to success through the words of girlfriend Faye Pridgeon. Midway through, the bluesy lope gives way to emotive rising synthwork that twists and turns before the big cathartic moment – Faye intones ‘They had no idea he was going to do what he did’ and Hendrix’s squealing guitar emerges over a miasma of distorting synths.

For the B-side Romare leaves the footwork template to explore further, and his flirtation with house on Taste Of Honey (From The City) is a real winner. It’s more subtle than your average house banger but the beauty is in the details here; the ascending melody around the three-minute mark or the expert appropriation of samples interlaced with Romare’s own constantly-shifting production. Closer Hey Now (When I Give You All My Lovin’) is another treat, a bluesy soup of jazzy piano work, dusty drums and a showstopping trumpet that some may be able to attribute. It’s not often that one comes across a producer with such a fiercely distinctive voice, especially who can fuse myriad stylistic and intellectual influences into such an extraordinarily enjoyable package. Just like his debut, Romare’s latest is a wonderful achievement, an EP of four contained, detailed gems that will make your brain long for the books and your feet long for the ‘floor.


Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Various Artists – Future Foundations

Label: 2nd Drop

Since its inception focusing on leftfield dubstep in 2007, 2nd Drop has done a remarkable job of keeping up with the scene, seemingly always a step ahead. While their releases haven’t always garnered a huge amount of attention, it’s not for a lack of quality: over twenty releases they’ve tackled a broad array of styles along the bass spectrum with great releases from the likes of Ramadanman, Sully and Gerry Read, alongside key early releases from DjRum and South London Ordnance. For their first compilation, the London label sticks largely to 4/4 excursions, offering a varied and impressive selection of exclusive tunes from label alumni and newcomers alike.

Mancunian Alex Coulton kicks things off with his 2nd Drop debut (following a nice slab of wax on Hypercolour) in the form of the percussive workout Grande Swing. Fans will recognise Coulton’s off-grid beat patterns and spare arrangement, here coming together in a tough house flex made of metallic clanks, scifi synthwork and a range of nuanced effects that keep things interesting. More club material is supplied by Pedestrian, whose uncharacteristically straight Sliding Down Rainbows is a menacing assault of shuttering beats and a nasty bass bounce, bristling with impressively coherent sonic details and a softened two-note synth loop that adds a key melodic element. Later penultimate inclusion Daphne marks South London Ordnance’s return to the label, with a tough techy exercise typically focused on the low-end.

Low-key house cuts with the requisite RnB vocal snips are provided by Youandewan and Last Magpie, a pair of producers who have both honed their atmospheric cuts down to a tee in the last few years. Youandewan’s Faith comes out as the more impressive number, breathing life into a familiar sample. Here he follows up a tasteful EP on Hypercolour with a spacious 9-minute odyssey of misty synthwork, rattling percussive accents and mood to spare. Last Magpie takes a similar approach on the downbeat Without You, all rattling 2step, ghosted vocals and dubbed-out synth stabs, but without Youandewan’s effortless knack for atmosphere, his contribution ends up lacking a real sense of progression.

The three remaining tracks are the odd ones out, the tunes that sidestepped expectations somewhat. LV enlist the honeyed reggae vocal chops of Dan Bowskill for a sensuous burner on Livin Up, where syrupy horns and soft vocal harmonies make for a surprising oasis amidst the compilation’s harder dance material. The closer is left to Manni Dee & Deft, who throw a curveball with the frantic workout of This One, The Art of the Possible. Despite the vocal sample’s discussion of garage and hardcore, this one is all about footwork, an impressively structured and distinctively British take on the genre.

While many of these are great offerings, 2nd Drop regular DjRum effortlessly steals the show with his phenomenal Blue On Blue (Voodoo). A stunning collage of pitch-perfect vocal and musical samples are twinned with growling bassweight and off-kilter rhythms, all patched together into a lush symphonic piece which descends in its finale quarter into a beautiful collision of dubbed-out vocals and operatic harmonies. Given time, Blue On Blue takes the proud place of a highlight among highlights. Overall there’s not much material here to challenge what we know as the 2nd Drop sound, Future Foundations is more a feat of consolidation, drawing together the label’s different styles and returning to some its past contributors. As such, it stands as a consistent and enjoyable dissection of one of London’s definite labels that clearly still has so much left to give.


Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Doc Daneeka – Sketches Of You

Label: 2020 Midnight Vision

Mial Watkins, who many will know as UK producer Doc Daneeka and labelhead of Ten Thousand Yen, marks his debut on 2020’s Midnight Visions sub-imprint after a successful 2012. Last year his collaboration with Benjamin Damage, the They!Live album, was a standout LP,  and a share of interesting singles including the stripped-back vocal 12” Tobyjug with Abigail Wyles marked Watkins as a rarer breed than his early singles had suggested. For the Sketches of You EP, Daneeka’s got a glossy new style in toe, entering the bass fray, and the result is a light and lively selection of tunes which, while certainly pleasant, doesn’t ultimately feel as distinctive as some of hisc past output.

Day By Day / Just Say The Words / Everyday / Sunset To Neath

The brighter textures are crafted with taste on opener Day By Day, where a careening synth wipe soars above a bright selection of plucked guitar notes, loved-up vocal snips and spare percussive touches. The success of the opener’s change of style is unfortunately undermined, however, by an inability to keep the stylistic shifts coming across the course of the release. The light touch turns tropical on second cut Just Say The Words, where the notable lack of the opener’s urgency renders the pretty synthwork and polished production more than a little unremarkable. Given the drum-heavy approach of Watkins’ early output, the low-key percussion of this whole release is a bit of a surprise, and more often than not results in tunes that sound nice and airy but lack the grit required to get bodies moving on the dancefloor.

The flipside offers another pair of solid tunes that fail to really excite the ears. While Everyday comes across as rather familiar given the similar sonic makeup of the preceding tracks, final cut Sunset To Neath’s acceptance of chilled, sunny vibes results in a more palatable closer where the focus on mood doesn’t seem to come at the cost of the groove. It’s great to hear Daneeka try something different on Sketches Of You, but the delicacy and lightness of touch mean that none of these tracks really stay with you after first listen. The individual elements cohere pleasantly but never surprise, resulting in a four-tracker which lacks either the muscle to please the club or the sonic sophistry to delight the headphone crowd.


Labels: , , ,

Monday, 25 March 2013

Dark Sky - Confunktion

Label: Tectonic

Prolific UK trio Dark Sky are ceaseless shapeshifters, and now they've found a suitable new home on Tectonic, an imprint known for pushing the lowest frequencies and the toughest flexes. The group follow up their superb, moody Myriam EP for 50Weapons and a slightly less exciting Breach collaboration with a return to the 'floor proper, with another release that twins dark dancefloor know-how with their typically exquisite sound design. A-side Confunktion is the club monster here, shrouding its kicks and descending toms in misty scifi synthwork before the deadly emergence of a venomous bassline that’s sure to shake up the club. The trio have always excelled at combining elements of garage, dubstep, bass and grime in their crisp, spare style, and Confunktion is a prime example: just listen to the detailed atmospheric tics or the cheeky filtered drum loop that sends anticipation sky-high for the second drop.


For an outfit so accustomed to nocturnal flavours, Dark Sky have always had a tendency to let loose and get a bit silly on their B-sides, a habit which has previously resulted in intoxicating percussive oddities such as Tremmor or Gaddagive. Double U continues the tradition, where tuned toms run giddy circles around epileptic percussion and a firm kick that keeps the frictionless array anchored to the ‘floor. There’s nothing unexpected from Dark Sky here, but with a killer club track and a new addition to their wackier vault, it’s another top-quality addition to an already formidable catalogue.


Labels: , ,

Friday, 22 March 2013

Martyn – Newspeak EP

Label: Dolly

Martyn, it’s been too long. The Dutch producer wowed us in 2011 with his excellent Ghost People LP, but his list of accomplishments stretches back much further, including a series of dubstep-defying singles that defined the early output of storied imprints such as Hessle and Applepips, another stellar album, one of the best Fabric mixes to date, without even mentioning his excellent job as labelhead of the on-trend 3024 imprint. Phew. But since that second album, we’ve had next to nothing, just a single original track on Brainfeeder to tide us over. Not even a phone call.


Well, never fear, because the big man is back in 2013 with a fantastic new EP on Steffi’s Dolly imprint, which features some of the Dutchman’s best material to date. Better still, he’s taken this opportunity to offer three very different tracks that meld the myriad influences that he’s had time to take in over the years, from his early dubstep experimentalism to the recent move to housier territories that border on techno. The entire A-side is occupied by the glistening Oceania, a straight-up reference back to his early output. It’s an exquisitely detailed miasma of shimmering chords, deep sub-bass frequencies and expertly-applied breakbeats, taking the listener on a blissed-out journey whose scifi trappings signal an end only too soon.

On the B-side Martyn comes in ruder style with low-slung title track Newspeak, where Detroit synths bubble over a bed of crisp claps, acid licks and searing strings. It’s breathless stuff, each sound treated to shine out of the unstoppable groove. Nor is the listener let down with George Orwell-referencing closer What Is Room 101, where Martyn serves up a deeper, slower groove with superb synthwork that caresses and soars over the jacking rhythm. He may have been gone for too long, but when a producer comes back with an EP where every single tune is a highlight in its own right, the only appropriate response is to get up and dance.


Labels: , , , ,