Saturday 28 February 2015

天才子役の息子の気持ちD – 巻貝

I don't know what's going on. I first am not very proficient in Japanese, not nearly enough to make sense of stuff on a regular basis. So I do the only thing you can do: GOOGLE TRANSLATE. Right? And then with a little bit of common sense jigging around and searching specific kanji for their individual meanings and trying to put them together… only in some cases where Google Translate makes literally no sense at all… sometimes it's worth this extra effort. More often than not I end up getting lost in a world of language.

This time I somehow ended up on a blog that had written quite an extensive article on the depiction of cannibalism in comics and I feel really disgusted now, why did I keep scrolling down? Yuck yuck yuck yuck yuck.

Anyway: language. 天才子役の息子の気持ちD is the name of the artist in this instance. It means something like "Feelings of genius child actor son, D" – they're from Uchisaiwaichō (neighbourhood in Chiyoda, Tokyo) and they make music. Minimal, experimental, beat-focused music. In fact, their most recent EP is composed entirely of drums. 真海雷巻 is the EP title. All the tracks are named after various water-based creatures: shrimp, common octopus, snakehead, and this track I'm sharing, 「巻貝」 (conch).

It begins life as a metallic tin can rainstick rattle, which leads into a swaying, head-noddingly regulated beat, with vacuum cleaner sounds supporting abrasive velcro snares that also sport spray can ornamentations throughout – these grow more prominent, as they were at the beginning, towards the end, neatly tying up the soundscape with an ouroboros of noise. Wheezy miniature bellows flap around like a thin watercolour of rhythmic turntablism, joining two notes of some miniature bongo thing for the only "melodic" sounds of the track, and then there's these tiny rolling tom sounds.

All of it adds up to a delightful almost-two-minutes' worth of percussive crunch and crackle, thump and fizz, a container of organic, naturalistic beats that shows a sensitivity to the natural world, and a desire to rhythmicise that world in short drum-based vignettes.

天才子役の息子の気持ちD Social Media Presence ☟
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Wednesday 25 February 2015


Mayuko Hitotsuyanagi aka Cuushe is back in town or back in the music world with news of a new and upcoming release. Having lent her voice to a few other artists, notably appearing on Kidkanevil's album My Little Ghost, and releasing a track via Ryan Hemsworth's Secret Songs towards the end of last year, she'll be releasing a new EP called Night Lines. It arrives after her 2013 album Butterfly Case, which sounds pretty much as close to dreaming whilst awake as you could even hope to get, so delicate and floaty were the sounds. What's interesting about this one is that it's not just going to be released on her Tokyo-based label home flau, but also on supercool NY-London label, CASCINE, maximising the world's exposure to this wonderful artist.

Whilst we wait for these new songs from the Japanese singer there is one new song readily and already available. It's called 'Tie' and rather than being produced by Cuushe herself it features production from producer and flau label boss, aus (Yasuhiko Fukuzono). He provides a swaying beat perforated by lightning needles as glistening waterfall chords swathe and swirl with the rich whisper of Cuushe's voice.

Caramel bass crawls groovesome through the icy diamond-drop synth plink-plink melody, things become more cosmic, the pings of electronica seem to be arriving directly from the far reaches of a patch of night sky, somewhere out in the outskirts of your own mind; the beat skiffles more and more, tick-tocks in double time, Cuushe sounds beautiful, her vocals slow and considered, providing a wonderful contrast to the frantic pulchritude of aus' production: she sings a breeze through glittering gem-encrusted walls of a dreamt-up canyon on a wondrous imagined world.

This is one of four tracks that will be on Night Lines and I dunno about you but I'm looking forward to hearing the rest of it. Pre-order details are here.

Cuushe Social Media Presence ☟
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Tuesday 24 February 2015


Mmmmm it's a question that a lot of people ponder. How do you find satisfaction in daily life? Where does satisfaction come from? Really we should be satisfied by the mere fact we are alive and experiencing some semblance of daily life. In reality, that's different. We're not all happy. Often it is the very fact of daily life and its mundane repetitions, its monochrome routine, it's this that is the source of trouble for many. To live is to struggle. How much you struggle depends on how strong your mind is.

This question was raised by the title of this particular track right here. It is called 'how to find satisfaction in daily life' and it's by a musicmaker called Jaci Rodriguez or probably more easily identifiable as Daemon. I was originally attracted to this slice of sound owing to the tone of its lightly echoing glassy chords, which give this track its foundation of melancholy, but there's more to it – think of the dynamically chopped up breakbeats-style drums, the plonking synth signifying the despairing exhausted parts of your mind, the zapping high-register synth melody repeating throughout like a floating feather of hope.

It resounds with a thousand repetitions of a thousand days, the same alarm clock sound every morning, snippets of suicidal early mornings, of fatigue-worn evenings, days marking the space between the upper reaches of a slowly swinging pendulum, life and all its energies and ambitions flashing in your brain as everyday reality smothers you. I imagine these endless immutable awakenings as the beat gallops ahead, leaving melodies hanging in the air, the drifting sadness of those chords lingering, thickening with each passing day. But there is hope, in a kind of insane way, a wild hope that things will change even though you are doing the same thing every day…

Wow way to get negative, sorry about that. In conclusion: How to find satisfaction in daily life? Weed and lots of it. No, not really, it's whatever works for you.

Daemon Social Media Presence ☟

Saturday 21 February 2015


Guest mix number 25 marks a quarter of a century (?) of guest mixes. Thankfully though, despite my wording, these aren't actually yearly – that'd be terrible. Awful. Instead, it's the latest in a semi-regular series of mixes kindly and lovingly crafted for this digital vessel, this paltry musical entity, by artists who are kind and loving enough to take the time and consideration to craft a mix. It's always interesting to hear what people do with a mix – the tracks used, the order of those tracks, any theme behind it, how it's mixed, etc. And for the people of the world mixes are invaluable: they become private DJ sets for your own little slice of the world you call home. You cookin? Put on a mix. You searchin online for car insurance? Put on a mix. You just sippin coffee lookin out the window? Put on a mix.

With that said, the 25th arrives courtesy of Liz. Aside from being "a floating soul," she owns and co-produces e-venue / online venue with Chaz Allen. "I would like to think that I'm not on earth a lot," she tells me (via email, when I ask who she is and where she is from), "but I am in a very comfortable part of North Carolina where I rarely leave my house." Spoken like a true floating soul.

I am just a girl, that was forced a name at birth, who believes that the sole purpose on earth is since we were born without a choice, almost into slavery, that we must make the best of our lives and do as many good things for the world as possible.

Embarking on a big quest with SPF420, one would imagine that Liz would have to like music – and it certainly is the case: "Music has been with me ever since I was child," she says. "I remember my first music video being U2 - 'Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For'. I love music and it will stay with me until the day I don't fall asleep at night." And apart from being inspired by "the good, the bad, the blood, the sweat, the tears" and Wikipedia articles of a scientific and historic nature, Liz is inspired – in terms of music – by her friends' projects, "even if they're works in progress." The person who most affects her in this way, however, is Skylar Spence. (This, if you didn't know, is the new name of Saint Pepsi because Pepsi didn't like it). "His artistry is incredible, his mind is too beautiful for this world," she tells me.

As for the mix, Liz told me the idea behind it: "basically the theme is Gems Hidden From The Internet, and Then Some," because a decent portion of the tracks are unreleased or not-heard-before-by-public-ears. "These tracks are super important to me because I have worked with (almost) every single artist for SPF420," she says, explaining the mix further, "It's basically just a mix of all my friends and family members, like a little ode to them."

From the bounce of Pocari Sweat (a new side-project of Bear//Face) and ugly mug, to the experimental chimings of 'High Rise' by Blank Body and THIRSTY's huge 'Last Drop' ("who i did the vocal drop for (don't i sound fantastic? hot damn)," Liz reveals), as well as the despairing chill of Yung Sherman's 'Fear' ("one of my favorite songs") and little cloud's very new 'who told u' and its swathes of loveliness, the collection of tracks is based on a foundation of turned up beats swaddled in emotive atmospheres, thick with damaged, decayed yet transcendental electronic sounds.

• T R A C K L I S T •

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Friday 13 February 2015


Here's a healthy helping of post-everything experimental drug-infused rap courtesy of XXX CLVR – he's from Halifax, Canada, and is part of collective, Weirdo Click. The track is called 'Make Me'.

Based on a foundation of looped fragments of a remix of a Shlohmo song – all sub-bass and unintelligible, monstrously FX'd vocals – it's an odyssey of sound, like sailing through a pitch-black cavern to who-knows-where; the soundtrack to slowly being ferried down the River Styx, filled with aching regretful spirits, to Acheron, the swampy lake of fathomless depth, and across its waters like sludge, a deep purple colour, infested with bad thoughts and vileness.

Here, XXX CLVR becomes the mythical ferryman himself, Charon, as he whispers a stream of consciousness into your ear. "Make me… the most hated…" he whispers as a refrain, weed smoke encircling his head as it pours from his lips.

Full of seemingly mundane references – Ed Hardy seat covers ("one of my exes… we used to take road trips everywhere," he reveals, a girl flying in from Cleveland, remembering ex's tattoos – the track is personal for the artist himself; a disconnected list of observations and thoughts much like Beat poetry but in super-slow motion.

"I tried to appreciate some of the more ugly aspects of my life. Make Me is sort of like, a dark social climbers' theme song" XXX CLVR tells me. "Also around where I'm at right now everyone all friendly and shit wanna be the most liked by everyone like its high school and shit so I was just like fuck it y'all might as well make me most hated bc im tryna be as far away from y'all as possible just doing my own thing working on myself as a person."

He concludes: "I'm a terrible person right now. Working on it."

The rise against ingratiating oneself to appear to fit in more, pleasing others to become accepted, comes across in the song – the imagery in XXX CLVR's outpouring sometimes verges on disturbing – "put the drugs in my neck," he states bluntly – but is mainly confessional, sharing dark and flashing yet everyday vignettes of his life thus far: "Every other week delete numbers" — "Nike tech fleece at ur funeral / Shit was beautiful / Brutal but it's just the usual." Smoke inhalations and lighters skritch-skritching accompany the slurred words.

Like I said, it floats around on the borders of the Underworld, but dissuades itself from inching closer to the jaws of hell themselves, displaying artistic restraint, and matching the minimalist instrumental produced by Aux Jennings, the sparse use of words, the verses dotting through the darkness like burning torches in a nocturnal world.

  • 'Make Me' is taken from an upcoming EP, Vxntxblxck, released 27th February via South African music/creative entity, YOH.

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Saturday 7 February 2015


I think this guy Gerry Read is from the UK. It's a guess. Only because I am also from the UK and his profile picture on SoundCloud shows some houses that are unmistakably British suburb. Other than that I don't know anything about him really. A quick look at his profile on Discogs tells us that he first emerged with some "warm, harmonious productions" but is now practising "an altogether darker, funkier take on house music."

Case in point: this track. It's called 'Come To Me' and although it's not that dark, it is certainly a funky and hypnotic slice of house. First impressions: a mechanical sound, with clacking woodblocks and pneumatic hi-hats, that conjures the rhythmic inner workings of a diorama depicting a romantic bedroom scene, the vocal sample "Come to me…" an eternal speech bubble of desire in the nocturnal heat of the moment.

It shuffles along with this industrial precision, seamlessly introducing, removing and replacing elements for a decidedly progressive feel. Ghostly samples appear a third of the way through, the slow and melodic in-and-out wheezings of an ancient phantom, which sway beneath warm chords that sound like soft gemstones gleaming in static. The whole luscious lot of it is imbued with this slightly worn, decayed feel – a loving touch that adds an aged yet timeless feel to the music.

  • A further google reveals that Mr. Read is indeed from the UK – but I've seen that he's from Suffolk and also from St Albans so who knows.
  • Also, the cover art for 'Come To Me' is a mirrored image of the artwork for Gerry Read's album Jummy – but the song isn't on the tracklist. Maybe taken from an upcoming release related to the 2012 album? Prob not though.

Gerry Read Social Media Presence ☟

Friday 6 February 2015


Arriving courtesy of supercool Paris label Sound Pellegrino, this is a new track from French, or at least France-based, producer Martel Ferdan. Unfortunately it's only a snippet; my heart cries tears of longing when I stumble across a snippet of a track on the internet. But it's ok. I understand… kinda.

Anyway, the track is called 'Toy Gun' and what I first noticed about it was the collage of styles at work throughout. The thudding kicks follow a dancehall pattern, a sonic trigger that almost always results in some form of dancing; clusters of giant metallic drum summon a Brazilian carnival-esque atmosphere; the percussion forms a kind of breakbeat pattern; the wonky synth bass sounds very much like the sort of bass you'd find in UK grime… The amalgamation of these different flavours gives it a rich and complex base that feels like it does to the brain what a tasty, well spiced dish does to the tongue.

And from out this exciting broth emerges melody, stuttering and spicy synth that right away took me back to Chemical Plant Zone from Sonic the Hedgehog 2 – the same dynamic short and sharp bursts, the same wild and wailing vibrato at work. Add to this an occasional sound which is kind of like the synthesised squawk of a seagull, and the combined plaintive-spooky melodies of a music box and toy flute towards the end, and you have yourself a mishmash of dance flavours ornamented with hints of videogame music.

I wanna hear the full version!

Martel Ferdan Social Media Presence ☟

Monday 2 February 2015


Call it a flip, call it a remix, call it a re-rub, rub-a-fuckin-dub-reworking – whatever: It's a different angle on an existing song. And in this instance Blackbird Blackbird has improved upon the original. The Weeknd teamed up with maybe-heir-to-Mariah's-throne (if that exists) Ariana Grande for the sexual epic, 'Love Me Harder' – the video is a pretty standard allusion to orgasms, a sleek drawn-out euphemism. Hm. We see this everywhere. New mouths sing about old things.

But it's ok, everyone does it. It's just great that people want to remix songs like this, people who can see the promise and potential in the words and vocals and take these energies, this human spirit, and place them in a new setting, a new musical vessel from which they can shine a different light.

As such, San Francisco-based producer Blackbird Blackbird's version of 'Love Me Harder' features pitch-shifted vocals, sometimes low and rich, sometimes high and chipmunk-like, sometimes fluctuating dynamically between the two, set in a gently swaying fantasy world of feeling. Fragmented beats mark out the sensual journey, rolling melodic snares and rattling hi-hats playing above gloopy heart-boom kicks. Soft electric piano chords mutate into fizzing tremolo synths, winding and wiggling through your mind and conjuring a hazy, narcotic lust – A far cry from the crescendoing fireworks of the original.

Attentive breaks in the beat appear throughout, making the track gloriously slow and considerate, allowing you to better hear delicate music box twinklings. It's an honest reworking, more true yet with more fantastical elements throughout (take the chipmunk vocals, for instance), a variation on the idealistic elements at work in 'Love Me Harder'. And there also seems to be a sample of a dog whining, which basically feels like the perfect epithet for longing lust.

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Sunday 1 February 2015

Y E Λ R S – 緑の都市

If you google image search 緑の都市 (which literally means "green city") you'll be in for a treat. There are loads of photos and pictures of "green cities" around the world, from futuristic plans for cities imbued with living-and-breathing greenery to actual cities brimming with plantlife. It's kind of a utopian vision; one plan sees a verdant cycle path created as a second floor for a highway overpass; another is an actual photo of a stepped building covered in a forest of trees. It's beautiful~

Other than that, it's the title of a brand new song by Y E Λ R S, or as I'm going to say from now on, YEARS. One of the sparks that ignited the now very popular kinda otaku or anime trap style (there's no other name for it as far as I know so…) this musicmaker is very prolific, pairing chilled atmospheres with hard beats for soundscapes that are as transportive as they are head-nodding.

This latest one, 緑の都市, feels a little different. Taking some orchestration from somewhere (or maybe it's original), it's looped and then allowed to continue into its flighty fantasy, whimsical melodies fluttering throughout. Coupled with a simple beat that features rolling hi-hats, handclaps and one particularly pronounced kick that hides a blast of sub-bass, it does indeed feel like the perfect soundtrack to a green city, or Green City.

The natural feel of the flute and strings in the orchestration conjures images of rustling leaves, green shrubbery, flowers skipping in the breeze, lush grass – the beat, on the other hand, effuses a more synthetic feel, precise and man-made and future-facing, yet working with the organic instruments to produce a beautiful harmony. YEARS has made a sonic illustration of the possible unity that can exist between the natural world and our technological one; both can be as destructive as each other, but only one can think for itself: that's us. We can build green cities!

Y E Λ R S Social Media Presence ☟