Friday, 29 October 2010

Goapele - 'Milk & Honey' (Joy Orbison Refix)

Just over a year on since the release of 'Hyph Mngo', a year in which Peter O'Grady has been coveted in hype, people have quietened down slightly in regards to his obvious promise. His last EP 'The Shrew Would Have Cushioned The Blow' was released way back in February, although he did produce for me the finest EP and track of the year as of yet with the creation of the indelible 'So Derobe', a track which is so good that I still implement it as the centre piece of my sets. Obviously Orbison fans would love more regular releases from the 23 year old, but it's clear he is an artist who will only put work out there that he fully believes in. That's something I can't help but admire, even if I'm constantly pining for Mr. O'Grady's next release.

One other noticeable thing about his work is that his remixes tend to be just as excellent as his solo productions. With remixes ranging from Four Tet's 'Love Cry' & Jose James' 'Blackmagic' to Todd Edwards' 'I Might Be', O'Grady is faultless when it comes to interpreting another artists' track and leaving his own mark on it. With his refix of Goapele's 'Milk & Honey', he has delivered a wonderful track once again. Taking the beautiful Goapele vocals and speeding them up to a tempo of around 130 bpm is an ingenious decision by Orbison, who lays down a beautiful syncopated beat, surging synth chords and deep sub-bass resulting in an exquisitely produced record. It's been doing the rounds on exclusive dubplates over the past couple of months, receiving support from Ramadanman, LV and Ben UFO. It's a fantastic track, and one which I would love to see released.

However, no news can confirm this, and seeing as Orbison has produced unbelievably good tracks such as 'GR Etiquette', 'Smother' and Tentative Bidding', the chances are that we may never see this readily available on 12" or MP3. Ideally, a release will see the 'Milk & Honey' refix backed with 'GR Etiquette', one of my favourite Orbison tracks which features those brilliant Jamie Foxx vocal clips (an element which is believed to be preventing release, although I cannot confirm it). Take a listen to both the 'Milk & Honey' and 'GR Etiquette' in the videos provided, you'll undoubtedly fall in love with Peter O'Grady's production work for the foreseeable future.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Nike Blazer Vintage (Gold Dart/Blue Grey)

My love for Nike Blazer's will last forever, and if anything will only develop as it has done over the past 12 months. The Blazer's have gone under something of a revamp recently, with Nike releasing a few new innovative designs that have caught the attention on sneaker/trainer addicts, myself included. The first line was the 4 colourway Nike Blazer Vintage, which delivered brilliantly with the wonderful premium suede canvas, thick yellow outer sole to give it a worn look as well as the huge swoosh and Nike branding on the back heel. The comfort of these trainers is also beyond belief, so soft, with a thick heel and reasonably lightweight design. The 4 colourways (red/royal blue/black/grey) were also spot on, the deep blue standing out as the highlight for me.

Then the Size? x Nike 10th anniversary collection came along, in what had proved to be my favourite of the 10th anniversary collections. Taking the classic Blazer model, Size? x Nike combined to create 3 truly wonderful designs that represent such a coming together, with each of the 3 colourways (white-orange/black-orange/orange-white) sporting classic Size? colourings, different materials (leather/suede) and also the Size? question mark subtly placed on the heel of the shoe. It's an incredible collection, one that affirms the versatility and heritage of the blazer in my opinion.

This new release sees Nike take the same model as created earlier in the year for the vintage hi, but releasing it with some nice new colourways. The gold dart is an intriguing colour, one which will no doubt catch attention, whether it's for the right reasons or not I haven't been able to quite decide yet. The blue grey on the other hand is my favourite of the two, a really nice simple colour which can be worn at any time really. The sky blue colouring seems to fit the suede blazer nicely, and it provides a nice contrast to the worn yellow outer sole of the vintage blazer. If you've got the money to spare, I'd highly recommend a pair of these vintage blazers, with your best bet being Size? retailers or Crooked Tongue's.

24 Hour Experience - 'Together'

The wonderful diva vocals cry "Don't need it. Don't want it". Problem number one is that I do need it. Problem number two is that I really do want it. 24 Hour Experience's 'Together' is an effortlessly smooth garage/track which resonates longingly in the heads of those garage heads that know. Released on Nice n Ripe records in 1994, this is a track which for me sums up the original garage sounds, one which only seems to improve with age. Set at a slow tempo (around 125bpm) the track slowly builds, structured around a reserved skipping garage beat that incorporates more intricacies in percussive arrangement as the track progresses. The track makes its first real impact after 30 seconds however, when the beat pauses and the wonderful polyrhythmic synth chords take control, moving into a full swing once the beat is once again implemented to accompany the chords arrangements after 45 seconds.

From this moment onwards the track progresses patiently with the same weight as deep house, building slowly to the introduction of the diva vocals which really take off after the 1:45 minute mark. Cries of "Don't need it. Don't want it" warm the heart alongside the beautiful chord arrangement, and the wail of "I've got myself together" acts as the linchpin upon which the beat and vocals combine to create a truly wonderful and complete sound. Deep, patient and soulful with a real groove, does garage/house get any better than this? I haven't heard too many better than this, undoubtedly an essential on 12". Get it before it's too late.

Friday, 22 October 2010

R.I.P. Productions - 'Pick Me Up'

Ice Cream Records. Over the past year my obsession with UK Garage has only grown stronger, and I don't think there's a genre/style I prefer more out there. Stepping, skittery beats, lofty chord arrangements, diva vocals and deep sub-bass, there is no formula which works as smoothly and emotionally on the dancefloor. Is their a great label than Ice Cream Records? I think it would be difficult to find a label I preferred. From the years of 95-98 (during which time I was sadly only 5 and oblivious to the wonders UK Garage) the label was untouchable, with numerous releases from the likes of R.I.P. Productions, Dub Syndicate, Double 99, Smokin Beats & Baffled. Although each of these names occupy a special place in the heritage of garage, for me it's R.I.P. Production's steady flow of releases of the years which have most impacted in establishing Ice Cream Records' immaculate reputation as purveyors of UK Garage's finest.

The top record 'Pick Me Up' is a lovely track released back in 1995. Building slowly with intricate percussion and hi-hat arrangements, the diva vocals slowly work themselves into the track, flourishing once the simple stripped back beat accompanies the beautiful wails with a surging sub-bass. Cries of 'Pick Me Up' take to the foreground once the smooth and intelligently crafted chord arrangement is worked into the track after 1 min 30 secs. The track then reaches it's full swing, a smooth roller which will have you stepping all night, trust me. I've written about the track below previously, but I just couldn't resist placing it in a post on R.I.P. Productions once again. This is seriously one of my favourite tracks of all time, the ultimate garage track in my humble opinion. It's undoubtedly the beautiful soulful vocals which punctuate the track with chants of 'Oh baby, useless baby' and of course those heart tugging synth chord arrangements which are first implemented after 1 min 25 seconds that makes this track so special, an absolute dancefloor killer, especially if mixed with Groove Chronicles or JO if you want to update things to the present day.

Listen to both. Then listen again. And then head to discogs for a long and expensive quest on finding such 12" records. Enjoy.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Interivew with Tom Kerridge (Ramp Recordings) - Take Flight Club

Ramp Recordings have worked up a reputation over the past few years of providing quality releases from the realm of the dubstep/funky/garage/glitch-hop realms, with LP's and EP's that vary in terms of style and tempos (Releases range from Zomby and Computer Jay to Ras G and Doc Daneeka). The man behind this rise is Tom Kerridge, and we were lucky enough at Take Flight to catch an interview with the man to get a greater insight into the workings of the Ramp and PTN labels. You can check out the interview now by clicking here. The PTN sub-label is Ramp's most recent and exciting new venture. Established back in May, the PTN label will focus on releasing the best from the thriving undeground of UK Funky and House, something which has been established in its first 5 killer releases; Doc Daneeka (Deadly Rhythm' EP), Hackman (More Than Ever' EP), Hypno ('Over The Top' EP), Breach ('Fatherless') and Doc Daneeka ('Television' EP). Big things are to come from both these labels, makes sure you look out for future releases on these labels.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Billionaire Boys Club - October Store Releases

Crewnecks, graphic t-shirts, denim shirts, full-zip hoodies. This is what Billionaire Boys Club create best, and I'm delighted to see this is what takes up the majority of the designs for their October store releases. BBC's recent designs have shown a development and maturity which suggests the brand is improving with every line, and a few of the designs in this collection display this progression over the past few years. More refined graphics and sensible colourings are implemented, although the bright colours still have a place in the line, and rightly so in my opinion.

Business as usual for BBC, the highest quality in crewneck and graphic t-shirt designs, ones which you can't help but love. The well made crewnecks are the highlight of this series of October store releases for me, created with a lovely long slim fit in mind, as well as featuring nice colouring (the orange and pale blue colours of the 'Extravehicular Activity BBC' crewneck) and graphics (the newly re-worked curved logo - featured in a light red with the classic astronaut in a darker shade of blue). The denim shirt featured in this collection also caught my eye, plain and simple but very effective. A smart buttoned down slim fit, featuring two chest pockets, one of which features a small subtle astronaut helmet which reveals the brands identity. A good all round selection of releases in store for October; I'd recommend making purchases if you incidentally happen to be in New York, Tokyo or Hong Kong. Check out the new releases in the images below.

Billionaire Boys Club/Ice Cream - October Store Releases:

Elgato - 'Tonight/Blue' (HES015)

Hessle Audio's 15th imprint is one of their best to date, although saying that, are there any releases on the label which haven't been absolute killers. Releases varying from TRG, Pangaea, and Ramadanman to Joe, Untold and James Blake, all of which are examples of work at the height of a genre/scene, setting and completing the trends which are ever changing in a transitional industry. Simple but effective artwork, interesting and wonderful tracks; Hessle Audio have a well organised structure, one which has made them the outstanding label of the past year or so for me alongside Hotflush Recordings. Hessle's 15th imprint is the first production effort by renowned DJ Elgato, and if early indications are anything to go by this man could have many more releases ahead of him.

Receiving play from the likes of Ramadanman and Ben UFO on both Hessle's Rinse FM show as well as in live sets, 'Tonight/Blue' have been lingering in the ears of those that care for a few months now. The sounds of these tracks take from different styles, incorporating elements from dubstep, UK garage, funky and deep house, combining in a way that the sound Elgato creates in unique to himself. 'Tonight' takes deep house's characteristic of progression, and slowly builds over 8 minutes. In terms of style 'Tonight' is as varied as Elgato's DJ sets, containing wailing diva vocals, a deep sub-bass typical of dubstep, a slow syncopated drum beat which is accentuated and dominates the foreground of sound, and synthlines which forever linger behind the shield of a pulsating drum beat. As the track progresses, the diva vocal cries grow louder, gaining further prominence alongside gradually surging synth chords which bring a weight of emotion to the track along with the vox'd vocals.

'Blue' follows a similar format, but certainly differs in tempo and tone. 'Blue' is the smoother and slower of the two tracks, with it's 124bpm tempo fairly of the 130bpm pace set by 'Tonight'. 'Blue' sets things off immediately with a structured 4/4 beat which is supported by heavy sub-bass, factors which dominate the tracks structure for the majority of the 8 minute duration. Percussive intricacies frequent and provide an added layer on interest upon the strong stepping beat, whilst the soothing female vocals repeating the words "my dreams" sounding wonderful in conjunction with the deep synth chords which run throughout the track, dominated in the much part by the overriding beat which ensures you'll be stepping the night away to Elgato. A fantastic debut, on what is one of the most exciting labels around at present. Expect to be hearing more from both these, the signs are that they could be running this sound for a while. You can preview/purchase the tracks now by clicking here.

Also, check the video of Elgato mixing in The Boiler Rooms for Hessle Audio below. It's only 10-15 mins long, but displays his impeccable track selection in that short space of time, with some old school garage gems brought out on 12". Enjoy.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

LV Interview - Take Flight Club

'Boomslang' will be entering your ears within the next few days. And thankfully so after four very long months of waiting for the elusive dubplates to be released on a label. LV's 'Boomslang' is huge, the biggest release since Breach's 'Fatherless' in terms of its status as dubstep/garage/funky's anthem. Taking great influence from South Africa's homegrown kwaito house sound, the track has a rolling 4/4 beat that utilises African drums, alongside intricate percussive arrangements, synth stabs, deep basslines and of course Okmalumkool Kat's endearing repetitive vocals. The video for the track is also one of the best I've seen in a while, and it cements Okmalumkool Kat's reputation as one of the coolest guys in the world in my opinion, effortlessly cool. We caught up with LV to discuss their new single as well as their take on the kwaito house sound that informed 'Boomslang' so greatly. You can check the interview out at the Take Flight Club website now by clicking here. BoomslangBoomslangBoomslangBoomslangBoomslangBoomslangSnake.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Addison Groove - 'Sexual' (Swamp 81)

Headhunter's work is unquestionably good. However, I can't help but feel he has excelled under the alias Addison Groove, a name under which he is producing original and unique music. Heavily influenced by Chicago's thriving juke/ghetto house scene, Addison's Groove Sound adopts brilliantly arranged 808 beats, wonderfully crafted chords and looped vocals which will resonate in your mind for hours after listening. Addison Groove's first release 'Footcrab', released on Swamp 81 back in March, set the tone for what is to come, dominating the dancefloors of underground music venues all over London and Bristol. Chicago juke combined with UK bass music, particularly the dubstep/funky side of the ever expanding umbrella. It's a genius sound, an experimentation with drum machine's and looped vocals, one which will no doubt divide opinions. One thing is for sure though, this sound is Addison Groove's.

His mix for Mary Anne Hobbs back in April is one of my favourite's to date, exhibiting not only good mixing skills, but production work of the highest quality. Unreleased tracks including 'Nautilus', 'Battle Scene', 'Word Doc' and 'Jam Hot'. However, the track which I have been obsessing over for the past few months is 'Sexual'. The track contains a strong striving 808 beat, beautifully contrasted by the free flying synth chords which act as a lovely counter. This is good enough for me, but when the vocals slowly weep their way into the track it is made complete, with diva vocals almost whispering 'We Sexual' repeatedly in the same way as 'Footcrab' and 'Dumbshit' utilised looped vocals to match beat time, a prominent feature of juke/ghetto house. 'Sexual' has been announced for release of Swamp 81, backed with 'Work It', but no definite date of release has been given. I live in yearning for 'Sexual', it's a beautiful track, one which I think will preferred to 'Footcrab' in time, a track which has slowly wilted in the eyes of some (not myself I must add). Addison Groove is slowly working his way into your mind, hypnotising you into moving towards the dancefloor, leaving the mark of 'Footcrab' or 'We Sexual' in your mind. You can't resist it, and thankfully so. I will post the link to purchase the single as soon as it is up. Until then, just play the video below on repeat. And loudly. Very loudly.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

James Blake - 'Klavierwerke' EP

This quite brilliant artist seems to improve release upon release. It would be a severe understatement to say James Blake has had a successful year to date, with flourishing well received EP's finding releases on Hessle Audio, Hemlock and the legendary Belgian label R&S records. 'Air & Lack Thereof' instantly notified taste makers that Blake would be huge, but such a quick rise could not have been foreseen. Looking back at this years releases, Blake mustered and already wonderful collection, and remarkably so in such a short space of time. 'Air & Lack Thereof/Sparing The Horses', 'The Bells Sketch' EP, 'CMYK' EP; each of these is a marker of Blake's unique brilliance. His sound is one which is previously unheard, a deep soulful dubstep sound in which Blake manages to implement his expertise in classical composition, particularly with his vocal and piano chord work.

'Klavierwerke' sets the haunting melancholic tone of the EP, one which has been recognised in Blake's past releases. Piano stabs punctuate a slow introduction but slowly fade away into darkness, accompanied by inserts of Blake's soft voice and distorted vocal wails. An intriguing drum beat and synth arrangement then arise, subtle and repetitive in manner, working up a haunting storm. More percussive layers are added to the complex stepping beat, most notably the smooth handclap sound which animates the foreground of the track along with a bubbling sub-bass and Blake's brilliant vocal clips. 'Tell Her Safe' is an altogether more upbeat track, beginning with Blake's lone deep distorted vocals. The beat is once again intricately produced, something that has become almost a signature of Blake's work. Synth organs take their place in the background of the tracked, nicely blurred by the strength of the tracks percussive elements as well as Blake's soulful vocals. Although not as strong as the beautifully haunting 'klavierwerke', 'Tell Her Safe' is a strong accompaniment.

If 'Klavierwerke' is the most haunting track from the EP then 'I Only Know (What Do I Know)' is undoubtedly the most melancholic. A fantastic piano arrangement, which enters in stages and has an ambient quality to its sound, begins proceedings along with soulful vocal murmurs creeping through the track as time progresses. The rum beat is slow, but so smooth and accompanies the melancholic mood perfectly, and element which is set so wonderfully by the heavily distorted wailing diva vocals. This isn't just beautiful for it's emotion, but the way in which Blake manipulates percussive elements results in the track forcing you to move or at least nod your head to the syncopated rhythm, which is created through the introduction of further percussive elements. The track provides a sense of thoughtful sadness, but one which also seems uplifting thanks to Blake's intelligent arrangements. 'Don't You Think I Do' is probably my least favourite track on the EP, although this probably does the track a disservice, and the fact that the track follows the excellent 'I Only Know' most certainly doesn't help its cause. If it hadn't ended up on such a strong EP, I'm sure the track would receive much more attention and praise. A single piano notes resonates, contrasted early on by a synth which follows on from each note. The syncopated beat soon enters, introducing a raw, hazy sound, something which is also contributed to by the reasonably dominant synth organ. Handclaps add further complexity to the tracks rhythm, whilst the single piano stab remains a distant component, fading slowly as the EP's melancholy remains constant, haunting yet full of promise. A beautifully produced work, one which surely cements Blake's reputation as one of the most promising producers around.

This is an essential listen, as is Blake's past releases. 'I Only Know' will have you nodding in a state of despair, something few producers can do. Preview and purchase the 'Klavierwerke' EP now by clicking here.

James Blake - Klavierwerke (128) by factmag

SBTRKT Interview - Take Flight Club

Anonymous London-based producer SBTRKT has had a fantastic year, with a number of critically acclaimed releases setting the ever mutating dubstep/house/garage alight. Collaborations with Sinden, and more successfully Sampha (whose 'Evening Glow' is a truly wonderful piece, undoubtedly one of my favourite tracks of the year) has seen his name cemented among a group of experimental artists, who look to past musical traditions to progress and create new original sounds. Ranging between 2-step, deep house and a lush dubstep sounds, his releases vary greatly in terms of style and tempo. This is testament to the artist himself, showing versatility and a desire to work beyond suffocating generic boundaries. We were lucky enough to get in touch with SBTRKT ahead of his new EP 'Step In Shadows', due for release on Young Turks at the beginning of November. We got talking about the new EP, his own personal music taste and style as well as the meaning behind the incredible tribal masks he wears when playing lives sets. You can check out the interview at the Take Flight Club website by clicking here. Enjoy.

Flava On Wax EP - 'Sweet Lurv'

The groove. The soul. The jittery beats. The lofty chord arrangements. The wailing diva vocals. The grumbling sub-bass. Which of these completes UK Garage for me is impossible to decipher, and at the end of the day it is insignificant. The elements combine and interweave to create a wonderful sound, one which I find impossible not to move to. If only I had been around London in the mid-late 90's for hazy dark garage club nights, experiencing the likes of R.I.P Productions and Groove Chronicles dropping the latest smooth 12". There isn't a genre I enjoy more, uplifting yet dark, as suitable to dark dingy clubs as it is to comfortable home listening. Flava On Wax's 'Sweet Lurv', a track released on Ice Cream Records in 1996, sums up my love for UK garage.

Slowly bubbling at around 128bpm, I could nod to this track all day. The syncopated beat is smooth, hi hat's adding a shuffled rhythm. The lovely 6-note piano chord arrangement gives the track even more feeling and emphasises a swinging groove further, a factor which is completed no end by the incredible diva vocals which will grab you instantly (visit your closest doctor if not). So effective, so simple, so good. A must listen, especially for the garage heads.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Jamie xx - 'Far Nearer'

I was expecting big from Jamie Smith's solo material, and his debut unduly delivers. The mastermind of beat work and production on The xx's mercury award winning album 'xx', Smith's very own productions have been the centre of much debate over the past few months. Questions of up-coming releases, a highly anticipated remix album and rumours of collaborations with Manchester based producer Fantastic Mr Fox have been the focus of much attention, and his debut release can now lay some of the reservations and rumours to rest.

His first single, 'Far Nearer', will be released on the excellent Glasgow-based label Numbers in a month's time, a match made in heaven. Numbers has been pushing some really interesting releases from the world of dubstep/funky/house over the past few months, with notable releases from Roska & Untold, Kavsrave, Rustie and Joker. I have a feeling 'Far Nearer' will be the label's best to date. It is a track which experiments with dubstep and funky sounds, creating a soulful and truly unique sound, something which the inclusion of steel pan drums further heighten. It's a warm track, with the intricate combinations of synths and keys giving an impression of the Caribbean in the opening of the track. The track explodes into life after 50 seconds, with the syncopated steel pan drum beat and underlying bassline accompanying the aforementioned elements. This is all topped with wonderfully hushed and distorted male vocal clips, which adds a slightly mournful tone to an altogether ecstatic and up-lifting track. It's a beautifully produced track, an example of the floods of talent which this young producer possesses.

Look out for this release on Numbers, expect 12" to sell fast. If this release is anything to go by Jamie Smith could become a huge underground name on the increasingly indefinable dubstep/funky/garage scene, which has been dominated most successfully by the likes of Mount Kimbie, James Blake and Joy Orbison. A potential Gil Scott-Heron remix album on the way? After hearing a few clips from this album, I'm already welling up with joy from the excitement of what's to come from the South Londoner.

jamie xx - far nearer by Artschoolvets