With London club Fabric currently fighting its closure, many artists and producers who have played at the club have contributed a track each to help cover the significant legal costs involved in the fight to stop the revoke of the license by Islington Council and the closure of the club.
The 111-track #SaveFabric compilation featuring tracks from Clams Casino, Clark, Skream, Machinedrum, Ikonika, Addison Groove, Skream, Vex’d, Kuedo and many more. Download it via Bandcamp, iTunes or Fabric’s site.
Dev Hynes’ ambitious guest-filled Freetown Sound album dropped last week.
The former Lightspeed Champion and recent songwriter/producer of great records from Sky Ferreira and Solange has released some great music under his Blood Orange name but with new album Freetown Sound, Hynes’ moves from liminal to minimal soulful sleek pop that addresses race, class and feminism.
Nelly Furtado, Carly Rae Jepsen, BEA1991, Debbie Harry, Kindness, Ian Isiah, Kelsey Lu, Jason Arce, Ava Raiin, P, Porches, Starchild and Patrick Wimberly of Chairlift all feature but easy standout right now is the Empress Of-sung ‘Best To You’ an alluring melancholic pop record to dance around to against the push and pull of desire in a fading relationship.
Clams Casino & Kelela – ‘A Breath Away’
Clams has largely ditched the cloud for precision production.
Having already given us a grade-A banger with Vince Staples, Clams Casino has turned to his softer side on this collaboration with LA R&B singer Kelela from new album 32 Levels. Kelela is the owner of one of my favourite voices in music and while there are cloudy elements to Clams’ production on ‘A Breath Away’, Kelela punctures it with an emotive soulful beauty that few can match. It’s almost pop.
32 Levels is out on July 18th and also features Alt-J’s Joe Newman, A$AP Rocky, Lil B and Sam T Herring of Future Islands.
Angel Olsen – ‘Shut Up Kiss Me’
A great single from the Chicago songwriter’s new album.
For her forthcoming album, My Woman (September 2nd on Jagjaguar), Olsen is playing a part, in song and video, versions of herself and others. ‘Intern’ dramatically suggested a transition but ‘Shut Up Kiss Me’ draws you in to that world with a song that asks yet is in control of the situation. Olsen’s voice is at her most authoritative, expressive and artistic.
James Vincent McMorrow – ‘Rising Water’
New R&B stripes with production from Drake’s ‘Hotline Bling’ producer.
The song is R&B soul-inspired with new textures in the form of throwback synths, a motorik bassline. McMorrow’s falsetto remains but there’s a refreshing vitality to it.
The song was produced by Nineteen85, who produced Drake records like ‘One Dance’ and ‘Hotline Bling’ along with OVO acts dvsn and Majid Jordan.
I Am The Cosmos – ‘Letting It Go’
Dublin synth-lovers come back tougher.
Three years on from the release of Monochrome, the debut album from Ross Turner and Cian Murphy as I Am The Cosmos and the presence of its analogue synthesizer dance music in my regular listening has never diminished.
Where Monochrome was inspired by a single song from the Japanese band Mariah, a band who have inspired and moved crate diggers and music outliers alike, the band’s new material, live in recent shows, had much more muscle.
‘Letting Go’ echoes that difference in their approach. Following the band’s remix of Girls Names last year, ‘Letting It Go’ is all pulsing synthesizer electronics and swallowing Joy Division vocals that itself, start to lose control, echoing the title.
Orlando Volcano Ft. Gemma Dunleavy – “Mixed Messages”
Dublin boy finds his feet in the Big Apple.
After being accepted to the Red Bull Music Academy in New York, the producer Orlando Volcano moved to the city for good three years ago and has spent his musical time exploring global underground dance sounds. His latest EP on London’s Liminal Sounds features the tropical dancehall of Mixed Messages with vocals by the effervescent Gemma Dunleavy (Murlo, White Collar Boy, Clu).
DJ Koze’s version of the track beefs up the track’s club dynamics and stretches it out over 10 minutes of lush disco. Check out the extended disco remix of the track as aired on Annie Mac in a shorter forms. The official release is to come but it is a doozy.
Clams Casino – ‘All Nite’ feat. Vince Staples
The producer is back with a vengeance.
From his long-awaited debut album 32 Levels (July 15) which features a impressive guest list: Kelela, Samuel T. Herring (Future Islands), Joe Newman (alt-J), A$AP Rocky and Lil B. ‘All Nite’ has more bite than Clams’ entire clouded output prior to this.
Portishead – ‘SOS’
Portishead dedicate their bleak Abba ‘SOS’ cover to Jo Cox.
Portishead’s dystopian and brilliantly bleak cover of Abba’s ‘SOS’, from the soundtrack to the movie High-Rise starring Tom Hiddleston is a chilling soundtrack to the very real Brexit leave vote that’s happening in the UK today. The video ends with a quote from Jo Cox, the UK Labour politician killed last week. “We have far more in common than that which divides us,” it offers. On dark days like this, strangely, the ever-bleak Portishead attempt to offer some sludged hope.
Adultrock – Push And Pull
Adultrock’s Talabot-esque analogue dance cut is out now.
His debut EP on Bodytonic two years ago, found its way to the hands of Annie Mac, James Holden and John Talabot and this Friday, the label will release his second EP Push And Pull, three-tracks of melodic analogue electronic synth music with a chillwave haze and a dancefloor vision.
Lead track ‘Push And Pull’ is Elsted’s first vocal track with the refrain “How can you do it? How can you be so strong? Even if it all feels wrong,” set to synth arpeggios, crisp house rhythms and a rolling bassline that recalls Talabot at his best.
Tahliah Barnett wanted to be a dancer. After begging her mother, she finally went to dance college, where she felt nothing substantial. She danced in big pop videos for Jessie J and Ed Sheeran but she realised it was music was the source of her desire so she became the musician, twigs and later, FKA twigs, the artist formerly known as who had yet to really be discovered.
The first phases of FKA twigs were an impressive ethereal first EP in 2012 and a second EP which was trailed with the impressively visually-lead videos for ‘Water Me’ and ‘Papi Pacify’. Those videos and their hypnotic R&B electronic songs, suggested a parallel brutality and sensuality. They flirted with danger in form and were amorphous and hypnotic in sound.
twigs has showed herself in public through artwork and videos which have hyper-realised versions of herself (large eyes, elongated neck, disfigured faces), that she is interested in examining and distorting her identity, including the very name she’s persisted with – Formerly known as.” On LP1, she shares seemingly true intimate versions of herself.
The majority of her debut concerns twigs attempting to convince a lover to accept her as exactly that and she goes through different stages in order to achieve her antagonising goal. It starts with shame. “I love another, and thus I hate myself,” Twigs sings on the opening track to a draggy beat, setting the scene for an album, which on the surface sounds sensually futuristic but is filled with realism, helped by cohesive yet caustic productions by Arca, Paul Epworth, Emile Haynie, Sampha, Dev Hynes and Clams Casino.
Stage two is seduction. The lead single, ‘Two Weeks’, a monument to carnal ecstasy is the most singular highlight as its epic brooding instrumentation is perfectly matched by a flight of lyrical fantasy. “My thighs are apart for when you’re ready to breathe in,” she sings on the song in which she hyperventilates the words climatically, sounding less in the throes of passion, more in a sort of desperation because she’s pleading her lover to choose her over another (“I can fuck you better than her”).
Stage three is distress. ‘Hours’ and ‘Pendulum’ are surface-level lascivious tracks with an uneasy stop-start musical arrangements that amp up the uncertainty – “So lonely trying to be yours / when you’re looking for so much more.”
In taking a track to address her music video past (and present), ‘Video Girl’ addresses the view others might have of her (“Is she the girl that’s from the video? / You lie, you lie, you lie”) and what she might think of herself (“I can’t recognise me.”)
Stage four is an increasing desperation. ‘Closer’ appears to offer some sort of calming plea (“closer / I’m here to be closer / closer / to you, to you, to you, to you”) while stage five is approaching uncomfortable stalker tendencies on ‘Give Up’ – “I know that sometimes you wish I’ve gone away, away / But I wish that you would know that I’m here to stay, to stay.”
Stage six and seven are clear on the album’s final track is ‘Kicks’, First, resignation, before fulfillment, with twigs getting her kicks (“I just touch myself / And say, I’ll make my own damn way” ) and removing that album long frustration.
There is no worry that the separation of the music from the visuals FKA twigs has become synonymous with has lessened the impact of LP1 or that twigs has nothing to say. A longer sustained running time means rather than snatches of character-forming opinion, we get a confidential look at the artist herself talking sex, self-image, desire, loneliness, intimacy, and state of mind, subjects normally guarded from others more vehemently, particularly for new artists.
The combination of twigs’ alien otherworldliness, her ambient often anguished electronic R&B style and her intimate and lustful portrait of herself, directly or reflected in others, makes for an iconic release and helps form a person who feels human and real. By the end of the album’s 10 tracks, twigs decides that she knows herself best, after all.
Clams Casino‘ slowed down cloudy production style is put to good effect by DOOM here on a woozy new track called ‘Bookfiend’. Lex Records are promising more collabs from the pair. In other DOOM news, his classic King Geedorah album was recently sent out to Beat Delete funders ( I got that) and is now available from Ninja Tune.
I spent all of Monday afternoon listening to the first two mixtapes from The Weeknd, House of Balloons and Thursday. There’s enough quality material there that I really didn’t anticipate the final part of the trilogy would come before the end of the year but Echoes Of Silence is here and downloadable. 2011 has sure been a prolific year for Abel Tesfaye.
First impressions: it opens with a cover of Michael Jackson’s ‘Dirty Diana’, features lots of big crashing drums, Abel Tesfaye’s golden voice saying lots of “ooooohs”, production from Clams Casino on ‘The Fall’ and won’t frighten you if you dig the other two mixtapes. Get it here.
Two years ago, I ran a series of guest posts from people involved in Irish music featuring their top 5 Irish acts at that moment. This time around, I thought I’d shift the focus to international and ask a similar question – “Who are your top 5 new artists of 2011?”. Kicking off today and running into next week, musicians, bloggers, record shop owners, journalists, bookers and radio presenters will be answering that question.
Alan Reilly is the man behind the new music Tumblr Bitzl R which takes a look at new worldwide artists. There’s always things on there I’ve never heard of before. Reilly is also a co-editor alongside myself at State.ie. Here are his five essential new artists of 2011: