Sunday, 28 August 2011

BLNRB - Welcome To The Madhouse (OutHere)

'Ma Bhoom Bhoom Bhoom' is on repeat for the 4th time in a row as we bounce along to this house tune with the sounds of raw African percussion swinging in the background and the insanely catchy track title repeated over and over locking us into it's deep dubbed hypnotic groove. Welcome to the sounds of BLNRB - Welcome To The Madhouse the latest journey into the sounds of urban Africa from one of the genre's most reliable chroniclers and disseminators - Out Here Records.

Out Here kick started life and were brought to our attention when they started releasing some well selected compilations of the better produced and more African music flavoured slices of the continents urban music, as opposed to the raw slices of often hash, music light, urban tunes that more often than not drive the scene. The sounds of Africa for western ears well detached from the realities of young urban Africa or discerning selections, depending on your point of view. All we knew was most of the tunes became staples in our dj sets and we were grateful to be able to get our hands on some of the then more elusive tunes rocking the continent.

Well with this project Out Here are championing a more pro-active approach to Urban African music by releasing the fruits of a Goethe-Institut & Debruder Teichmann project that took some well known faces on the Berlin music scene down to Nairobi, Kenya to collaborate, meet and mingle with the local talent and the results are electric. As mentioned a lot of African music suffers from poor production values, which is perfectly understandable due to lack of facilities not to mention often intermittent power supplies and more pressing funding issues than the wealthy north, so to hear the immensely talented Nairobi crew: Mister Abbas, Kimya, Lon'Jon, Naziai, blind singer Michel Ongaru, Just A Band and Ukoo Flani to mention just a few riding some sick bang up to date, tightly produced, well mastered riddims is a wonderful thing.

The collaborations came to fruition in two studios established in a Nairobi townhouse where everyone in the project worked, performed and lived together. The previously named bands were invited but word spread like swine flu around Nairobi and there was soon a frenzy of artists coming and going and the now famous Madhouse was born.

After a first concert in Nairobi in 2009 the Berliners went back to Kenya in 2010 for a few weeks and it was during this period, that the first recordings of the presented tracks were made. In December 2010, the musicians from Nairobi went to Berlin for a concert night to celebrate the collaboration, the project being hailed a great success.

Now after the live show the CD has dropped and you really have to check it. From the catchy electro hip house vibes of 'Madhouse', Jahcoozi, Little King & Robo riding the ominous bass heavy dubstep of 'Take It Higher', Just A Band indie rocking out in 'Room For Me', the deep dubbed house vibes of 'Ma Bhoom Bhoom Bhoom' and 'Everyday Without You' to a whole host of more traditional hip hop tempo riddims all laced with the sounds of cutting edge production gear and a catchy, infectious African musical sensibility which lights up every track it touches. This is the sounds of joy, cultural curiosity, musical exploration and new friendships and a real winner of an album start to finish.

Check out the Dala Dala (Out Here's killer sound system crew) album mix for a healthy taster of the projects musical delights:


Here's a little video about the making of the project:


Thursday, 25 August 2011

Fabric Live 59 - Four Tet

There's not too many producers or DJs that when asked to do a mix for a club would send their audio engineer friend (Sasha Lewis) into the club in question to make field recordings and then incorporate those recordings into the finished mix. Well Four Tet did. Just to make his life more difficult during the compilation process every track is also recorded from original vinyl which meant long hours searching for long forgotten and hard to find records. It also meant he had to go and cut acetates of his own exclusive tracks.

If that isn't attention to detail enough when the tracks were then recorded from vinyl they weren't digitally cleaned so the original hiss, pop and crackle of the wax was retained. The final mix was then surprisingly put together on a new fangled computer thingy, which from a sad trainspotter point of view, spoils slightly the analogue, old school vibe but is understandable. We'll forgive him just this once.

The music ranges from the experimental electronics of Michel Redolfi's 'Immersion Partielle', seminal UK funky in the form of Apple's 'Mr. Bean', the classic grime of Youngstar's 'Pulse X' to the fresher sounds of Burial's 'Street Halo'. Also expect to hear C++, Caribou, Floating Points, Ricardo Villalobos weaving in and out of the mix. These tracks are then split up by the aforementioned field recordings to recreate the feel of walking around the different rooms during a night out at Fabric.

The mix is a representation of Hebden's club sets rather than his more musical production side. Melody and vocals are stripped back, dubs largely the order of the day rather than full on vocals but what is never in short supply is musical adventure as he trawls through the boundary pushing, largely UK side of progressive dance music. The selection and sequencing is on point and the attention to detail thrown in with the field recordings and vinyl vibe just goes to show why the man is always worth checking behind the decks and is also one of the stand out producers of his generation.

As usual with music a listen is worth more that a 1000 biased words so get you ears around this 30 minute radio mix below and look out for the full release coming on September 19th.

Fabric Website
Four Tet Website

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Jono McCleery - There Is (Counter Records)

We first fell in love with Jono McCleery earlier last year when we received his debut single for Counter Records, 'Tomorrow'.  How this heir to the thrones of Nick Drake and John Martyn had escaped us before we don't know.

His first, self produced album, Darkest Light was a crowd funding success story with BBC Radio djs Fiona Talkington and Tom Robinson as well as folk star Vashti Bunyan chipping in to make it a reality. Their foresight and Jono's obvious talents then saw him come to the attention of bigger labels (this album is out with Counter Records, Ninja Tune's guitar orientated sister label) as well as opening up touring possibilities with the likes of Portico Quartet, Little Dragon, Gil Scott Heron, Bonobo and others. He was slowly heading in the right direction.

His latest album, There Is (released September 5th), is more of team effort with Fybe taking care of the buttons and Matt Kelly coming through with some beautiful arrangements. Together they've created a really classy album not to mention one of this years best cover versions with an altogether darker and twisted version of Black's, now slightly dated (or Balearic classic depending on your point of view), 'Wonderful Life'.

It's a tough call but I guess the epic 7 minute, slowly building joys of 'Tomorrow' is perhaps our favourite track but every track on the album is a winner. You've got the sparse, mournful delights of 'She Move's', the schizophrenic change of pace and drama of 'Garden' (look out for an incredible remix of this by Seiji - easily his most interesting remix of the year) and the slightly mumbled but driving insistence of 'Home'. We could go on.

Just take our word when we tell you this is a great album and one of the singer songwriter albums of the year. Jono's vocals come straight from where they should and have a sincerity lacking in most modern songwriters. The production is faultless with Fybe's subtle electronics gently caressing Jono's voice and accentuating his simple but effective guitar. Matt Kelly's impeccable string arrangements add even more tension, drama and emotion in all the right places and are the icing on an already quality album. Go get it, you'll like it..

Check out his cover version of Black's 'Wonderful Life'
Jono McCleery - 'Wonderful Life' / 'Garden' mix sampler (Counter Records) by Ninja Tune

You can swap your email address for the 'Garden' track by heading over to this link at the Counter records website.

Here's a simple little video to accompany the radio edit of 'Tomorrow'

Jono McCleery Website
Counter Records Website

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Walton - Walton EP (Hyperdub)

Anything Hyperdub puts out has to be taken seriously, their track record is pretty impeccable, whether it's albums from Burial and King Midas Sound to killer 12"s from DVA, Ossie or Mark Pritchard and Om'Mas Keith, you always have to listen and then listen again just in case you missed the point first time round.

So it was with interest that we received a debut EP via Hyperdub from a young chap called Walton the other day. Now we've given up being surprised at the age of producers, it seems like today's youth when not looting and setting things on fire, are jumping into the world of production before they've stepped foot in a record shop or club and hence becoming studio proficient before they can drink legally. Walton at the age of 20 is another shining example of an old production head on young shoulders.

Hailing from Manchester's ever fertile musical breeding ground Walton has just sprung from being a Soundcloud page to relative instant fame due to the Hyperdub leggup and for good reason rather than PR hype, this boys beats are fresh. Another UK house mutation deviant he's  obviously soaked up Detroit and Chicago's rich legacy, stuck his head into the odd grime club and soaked up the endless dubstep variants now on offer and cooked up his own diverse stew which is ready to rip up this Autumn's dancefloors.

Kicking off with the schizo funky grime bleep mental banger 'Aggy' the EP then ducks into the loose bass, polyrhythmic  future tribal joys of 'Mangled Riddim'. Classic house vibes made relevant to today's dance and with a sunny disposition are the order of the day on '808 Vybzin' before 'Skrilla' gets all dark and deadly in a UK funky style.

Every track is a winner and this has to go down as one of the best value EP's you're going to buy all year and hopefully as a statement of intent for this rising star who obviously knows his roots but is starting to shape the future already.

Here's his Soundcloud page if you want to hear a bit more:

Latest tracks by Walton.

Hyperdub Facebook page
Hyperdub Website

Saturn Never Sleeps - Yesterday's Machine (Saturn Never Sleeps)

So you may remember back in May we gave you a taster from the Saturn Never Sleeps album in the form of the excellent 'Tory' single, well happy days the album is now here and living up to the early promise of being an outhere future soul gem.

Most of the tracks feature the vocal talents of Rucyl, which although her ethereal style isn't going to grab everyone, it perfectly suits King Britt's interstellar production like a tailored glove and even on the instrumental cuts, her vocal snippets are finely chopped, manipulated and haunt the tracks like her future ghost floating around the vocal booth.

'Lotus' with it's loose and intermittent beats that provide the vaguest of frameworks for the dreamlike vocals, cosmic synth washes and snippets of intergalactic radio static disconnects you from your earthy existence and gets the album off to a pleasing trouble free launch. 'Bit By Bit', 'Hearts On Fire' and 'Tory' are then anchored more firmly by some alien hand claps and more traditional nu-soul style beats although the production is more Close Encounters than Philly.

Just as you are getting a little groove on Britt then drops the beats, dusts off the drones and ramps up the sci-fi soundtrack vibes before the short future soul of 'Grace' dumps you down into more familiar musical territory once again. The future folk of 'The Machines Are The Stars' follows before some tribal drums from a different dimension provide some stability in a turbulent sea of found sound on the great instrumental cut, 'Divine'.

Rucyl enters the fray once more for 'Yesterday Is Gone' before another beatless cosmic wind interlude blows from the speakers. Britt then ups the tempo with some stripped back, deep dubby vocal house before the almost normal soulful house sounds of 'Take It Out' end a pleasing 43 minute ride through the future soul sounds of Saturn Never Sleeps.

Now, reluctantly we're guessing, seeing as how much work has obviously gone into the project, Saturn Never Sleeps have actually offered up the album as a free download as well as putting it through the usual channels for sale but as always if you are getting pleasure from the release then we do urge you to throw some money their way, so they can fund future recordings and tours - you know deep down it makes sense and is the right thing to do.
Have a good listen to the album below:

BUY the album at our favourite on-line music store Boomkat or at the more traditional ITunes for a damned reasonable $8.99

Saturn Never Sleeps blog
Saturn Never Sleeps website