Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Fourfit EP


I was so excited yesterday about the release of Max Cooper's long-awaited debut album Human, that I almost didn't notice this gem drop on Soul:R records. Skeptical a.k.a. Ashley Tindall has established a quiet eminence after four years of supplying underground stompers through prominent labels such as Dispatch Recordings, Exit Records and Samurai Music

The four-track EP is dark, neat and heavy, with songs such as 'Desire' and 'Always Be Mine' already circling through mixes by dBridge, Friction and Goldie (to name a few.) The obvious highlight for me was 'Desire', a glorious drum'n'bass stepper that sets jazzy vocals by Collette Warren against relentlessly tight beats and a rumbling bassline.  





Equally as hard-hitting is the second track on which Collette Warren features, 'Always Be Mine'. The tracks are not complex, but Skeptical assembles their essential components with the keen artistry of a man who knows what the finished piece should sound like.



If you like the EP, make sure you support the artist by picking up a copy here.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Parklife Weekender 2014



There is never a time in life when one is so happy to be poor, as when one has just purchased one's Parklife ticket. Having been snowballing in size and popularity since its birth in 2010, the festival has hosted some of the biggest electronic artists of the twenty-teens (Rudimental, Disclosure, Chase & Status) as well as the best-established old-timers (High Contrast, Pendulum). This year is no exception, the huge lineup featuring many of the biggest names in the house music elite. While this barely even scratches the surface of what's on offer, I've put together a list of the acts that I'm most excited to party with. And because nothing is ever PERFECT, I've also decided to whinge about a few people who I would've liked to see listed this year. For those of you who haven't got a ticket, here's what you'll be missing. For those of you who have... I'll see you there!


My Top 12 Acts Of Parklife 2014:


1) Snoop Dogg


Everyone's favourite rap legend will be de-evolving from Lion to Dogg, just so he can drop it like it's hot for us at lucky folks at Parklife. Whether it's nostalgia or timeless brilliance you're after, I'm sure we'll be treated to double helpings of both.




2) DJ Koze

I can barely contain my excitement for seeing this guy, one of my favourite artists of the moment. Having produced one of the best electronic albums of 2013 last April, the German DJ will be coming to Manchester to serenade us with his genius. Look out for his upcoming 12", which will feature remixes from  fellow German talents Robag Wruhme and Roman Fl├╝gel.





3) John Wizards

The sole thing I dislike about these South African magicians is that they didn't grace my life sooner. Just have a listen to one of their songs while you read this and I guarantee that you'll be dancing by the time you're finished. Having formed after John Withers, a Cape Town bedroom programmer, and Rwandan refugee Emmanuel Nzaramba met by chance and began to jam together, they went on to release one of the most insanely happy albums ever made. You probably won't see me at their Parklife set, but you might catch sight of a few of my flailing limbs.





4) Submotion Orchestra

These next guys are based within a mile of where I'm sitting right now, in the humble student paradise that is Hyde Park, Leeds (big ups!) For me (and probably many of you as well), Submotion Orchestra pretty much embody all my favourite things about music. Having been releasing consistently sublime compositions since their Submotion EP in 2010, the 7-strong electronic outfit fuse influences of jazz, dubstep, soul and drum'n'bass to form a unique, yet exquisitely adaptable whole. Featuring live instruments and gorgeous vocals from Ruby Wood, their show will undoubtedly bring  something special to the Parklife stage.




5) Flying Lotus


If a genie had appeared to me after my first experience of Cosmogramma four years ago (and it was definitely an experience), my first wish would have been to see Flying Lotus live. Writing a few words about him is a struggle when I could probably produce an entire dissertation about his music, but Mark Richardson wrote that 'his music feels cosmic, bound to L.A.' If musicians painted their work on canvas, he'd be scribbling on the walls.




I almost had a heart attack last weekend when, an hour before I was set to see Jon Hopkins live, I realised I'd never actually bought a ticket. Luckily for me, this was one of the only events I'd been to at Canal Mills that hadn't sold out, and I managed to get a last minute ticket for almost half the price of the original. While this made a smaller and way more enjoyable night, I was shocked that more people in Leeds weren't fighting for a chance to see him after his incredible 2013 album Immunity. This needs to be rectified! Feast your ears:




7) Thundercat

Yes, it definitely is love. If you're a Flylo fan, you may recognise the name from 'DMT Song' off his 2012 album Until The Quiet Comes. The man behind the act is Stephen Bruner, who you'd expect to be destined for greatness seeing as his dad drummed for The Temptations and Diana Ross and his brother played with Roy Hargrove and won a Grammy. Coolest. Family. Ever. A bassist, vocalist and songwriter, he's worked with legends such as Erykah Badu and Stanley Clarke and now we get to see him at Parklife. No big deal.




8) Throwing Snow

A huge name in our capital and beyond, Throwing Snow a.k.a. Ross Tones is the perfect addition to the Red Bull Music Academy stage alongside acts such as Jacques GreeneGold Panda and My Nu Leng. Whilst remaining a sterling accompaniment to any discerning raver, Throwing Snow does not limit himself by trying to cater solely to the dancefloor, his recent Aspera EP sounding almost Bonobo-esque in its paired down, unhurried groove. Make sure to check out the incredible Pennines EP that he's just released with his brother under the name Vellico.





9) Moderat


We already know the standard of electronic music that comes out of Berlin is solid, and these guys are no exception. I don't think I've ever had a song in my head longer than 'Bad Kingdom', just one of the gems on their amazing album II, dropped on Monkeytown Records last year.




10) Soul II Soul


Although the babes in this video might not look so different to your average Shoreditch trendster in 2014, Soul II Soul actually released this UK R&B classic back in 1989. Curious to see whether they were still doing much these days, I stumbled across a video of them on Jools Holland last March. Daaaaaayyyyuuummm, Caron Wheeler has not lost an ounce of cool in 25 years.






11) Captain Murphy

That's right, Steven Ellison will not only bring us the weird and wonderful work of Flying Lotus, but also a set from his rap alter-ego Captain Murphy. Having collaborated with the several members of Odd Future (namely Tyler the Creator and Earl Sweatshirt) and the beloved MF DOOM, you can't really fault his credentials.




12) Mount Kimbie


Last but never, EVER least, UK duo Mount Kimbie will be illuminating the Now Wave stage with five years' worth of resounding success under their belts. I remember blogging about their EP Cold Spring Fault Less Youth just before they released it on Warp Records last May (which you can read here, if ya fancy it) and I never really got over how good it was, especially their collaboration with London badman King Krule. I'd also seriously recommend DJ Koze's remix of 'Made To Stray', which you can listen to here and James Blake's awesome remix of 'Maybes' here





Acts I Would Have Liked To See At Parklife 2014:

Now I know this post is already overlong and really, I can't complain about the amazing lineup. But hey, it looks like I can. These are a few of the artists not attending this year who would have completed my perfect lineup.


1) Matthew Herbert


One listen of his 2001 album Bodily Functions and I was 99% this guy is a genius. Following his release of meticulously constructed and exquisitely pointed The End Of Silence last year, that doubtful 1% was forcibly blown away.




2) Modeselektor


I'm not going to try and pin down the genre of German electronic band Modeselektor, as limiting themselves to a certain kind of sound is definitely not their style, though they jokingly specified themselves as 'Happy metal, hard rap, country-ambient, Russian crunk.' 




3) Max Cooper

Tomorrow's a big day. Do you know why? This techno giant is about to release his debut album Human on Field Records. Parklife would have been the PERFECT opportunity to promote it, AND he's from London so it's not exactly a long way to travel. *sniff* Here's are the official visuals from the album's incredible first single.





4) Lapalux

Well we've got the original writers of 'For Love I Come' but oh, how I wish we could be serenaded with Lapalux's sublime, woozy rework as well.





5) Daniel Avery


If 'hyper-rhythmic minimalism and throwback New Jersey garage sound' is something you look for in your techno beat of choice, then I think you better have a listen to Daniel Avery's Drone Logic. His huge, booming sound would have gone down a treat with hardcore Parklife ravers but oh well, there's always next year. Take a listen to the banging new remix of 'Free Floating' that Matt Walsh dropped two days ago. 





Update: I am a fool, Daniel Avery IS playing! Joy of joys!

Now you've heard my top picks for 2k14, let's get a bit of interaction going on. Make sure you post a comment letting me know who you're most looking forward to, who you would've liked to see or whether you DARE to disagree with one of my verdicts.