Sunday, 9 November 2014

Review // Ariel Pink- 'Pom Pom'

When he isn't being super-creepy, Ariel Pink also makes music! Catch me giving his non-Haunted Graffitti release 'Pom Pom' the lowest-score across the board in October's Crack, over here!
Review // Ariel Pink- 'Pom Pom'
Concerted oddball to the last, Ariel Pink’s first solo-titled venture, the double-stacked Pom Pom, sees his well-worn formula finally run out of steam. 17 tracks, 69 minutes, but scant substance it feels like the work of a man out of time. Multiple voices emanate from Pink’s role as the album’s central protagonist, slipping between characters, actively seeking to retain his creative enigma. Kim Fowley is invited along to add a playful touch on 'Plastic Raincoats In The Pig Parade', its zany "oh yeah!"s painting a Moldy Peaches shade to their storytelling, rather than the psychprankster reference points they musically reach to. 'Jell-o' jingles as if an advertorial for the sugary US staple: “Everyone eats white bread/ That’s why they’re all dead” Ariel regurgitates, uber-speed babbles jumping in between verses. 'White Freckles' fires out with riffs so fast and shrewd they sound straight off the credit sequence of Miami Vice. “She got them at the tanning salon” he spectates into a slow-tuned, strut-worthy groove, while on 'Lipstick' he flatly breathes out to ask “Where are the girls?”.
'Not Enough Violence' also trickles into the outlandish and squirmingly uncomfortable, his vocal almost inaudible, apart from the avowal of “Penetration time tonight.” -you hope it’s all in jest, but then you awkwardly realise it’s not. The unbearably wacky 'Dinosaur Carebear' revels in its dippy carnivalesque skittery, while lead track 'Put Your Number In My Phone' opts for the flipside, soft-rock division of Pom Pom, standing out as a minor joy amongst the befuddled, juvenile, borderline-patronising rest. Flashback-worthy 'One Summer Night' and 'Exile On Frog Street' musically resound as if worthy of cult indie-pop classics, but come bathed amongst the creepy – allthemore pointed in the context of Mr. Pink’s own creep-like tendencies – and lukewarm. But Pom Pom’s fun and romance is drained by a conceited stretch of triviality and a growing realisation that, even if you are in on the joke, it’s just not that funny anymore.

Words by Yours Truly X

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Review // Busdriver- 'Perfect Hair'

The mind-bogglingly articulate Busdriver just dropped his latest full-length 'Perfect Hair' on Big Dada yesterday! He's also been writing some lines track-by-track over on his Twitter AND you can stream the whole thing here, whilst you read my review for the 405!
Review // Busdriver- 'Perfect Hair'
Eccentric Los Angeles native Busdriver, has been dispensing his hyper literate, oddball hip-hop for over a decade, reconstructing experimental practices by striking boldly when the iron glows hot. A crossover of label affiliations led to projects with Brainfeeder boss Flying Lotus, and his British protégé Lapalux more recently, then there was his ridiculous take on Drake's 'Worst Behaviour' at the tail end of last year, abundant with tongue-in-cheek, stinging delivery. Returning to one of his earlier homes in the form of Big Dada, Perfect Hair comes out of an escape for the flaws found within self-acceptance.
 'Retirement ODE', an infectious instrumental with stirring hooks that leer "You never would admit how sick I've become," fluctuates between the crazy and the adamant. Lines such as "I'm a frequent flyer/ and a decent liar/ and that's a lie in itself come on", are laughed off in their overcharged ludicrosity, an element distinctively inherent to his music. Melodic takes from the backing singers he quotes costing $3500 per take, prove their worth before the beat breaks down to a frenetic fury, spitting "I used to wake up at noon to punch the moon" to twist the track into a disembodied truth. If fellow Californian Madlib's mental Quasimoto persona, is defined by smoked-out, high-pitched animation, then Regan Farquhar's Busdriver alter-ego is sharp, not to mention full-throttle.
 'Bliss Pilot' is certainly atmospheric and full-bodied, though not vulnerable enough to be emotional, the horns, rippling electronics and arrhythmic delivery, suggesting he wasn't chasing such a label, anyway. Even on the formidable (and brilliant) Jeremiah Jae-produced 'Ego Death', with his raps stabbing over a monster of a beat, the idea of altering your state of consciousness as stated in the title, is met precisely head-on. Double dutching through a hook of "We can make this better/ or not/ yes we will/ we're just looking for something inside us to kill," Farquhar nods back to the song-orientated direction that was present on 2012's Beaus$Eros - boiling hot guest spots from the inimitable Danny Brown and Aesop Rock, planting pop-culture nods to The Prodigy and Marilyn Manson, as if all in this crazy house together.
 'Tooth Lined Horizon Blinks' doesn't come up for air in a slanted, almost chant-led iniation, Open Mike Eagle sweeping in to announce his presence with straight-up, old-school flow; a talent concentrated and able to hold its own, even under 'Drivers unassailable stance. Where Perfect Hair has those ballsy moments, lyrically with pushing past an ostracization and arriving at a truth, there are the flashes such as 'Upsweep'- produced by Mono/Poly- to balance out the often unruly collection. Bringing us back round to the poignant at first, the latter track's instrumentals infuse through Farquhar's centre-stage vocal, similarly to 'Bliss Pilot'. Yet as the release plays on, we've always known the persona of Busdriver was an unconventional one, but to the clear divisions throughout Perfect Hair, he has a release that bifurcates between sparkling, let-it-rip takes, over to a self-antagonistic, ball of constructed chaos.

Words by Yours Truly X

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Review // Beacons Festival

I've been lucky enough to review Beacons Festival the past two years, this being my third, the angels at Crack and I Like Press allowing me to return for a weekend of raving, losing half of my life in a field, sampling some very nice ales and- of course-a whole load of babes and amazing sets. You can scroll down or click over here to catch it!
Review // Beacons Festival
Über hip gatherings on the capital’s durable green spaces. East Anglican, poetry-heavy weekenders that the Dads go crazy for. Surreal boutique festivals with mind-blowing stage productions. It feels like the UK festival market is more competitive than ever, doesn’t it? Beacons, which is in its third year and is set in the idyllic Yorkshire Dales, looks as if it could snatch the driving seat from many of its larger, more corporate contemporaries due to an amazing line-up and its presence in the conversations of many young music obsessives all year round. 
 Our weekend started on Thursday evening, with us immediately learning that there’s no better ice breaker between fresh-faced Northern folk than with the hilarious concept that is hip-hop karaoke. The contestants ranged from a mother joined by an infant wobbling under the weight of their rainbow-coloured earmuffs, to the local neighbourhood G giving Forgot About Dre his best shot.
Evidence of the demand for hip-hop acts at UK festivals emerged on Friday, with Irish rapper Rejjie Snow gathering an audience while performing tracks from his Rejovich EP alongside prospective album teasers. Action Bronson’s headline set on the Noisey stage drew one of the biggest crowds of the weekend. And as the Queens rapper delivered on-point, animated renditions of witty Blue Chips 2 tracks 'Silverado' and the Tequila-nabbing 'Pepe Lopez' to a rapturous response, the decision to host NYC’s biggest man in one of the smaller Noisey tent led to anxieties about safety, with photographers opting to climb the stage rigging rather than shoot in a spewing pit.
 Switching over to Daniel Avery’s three-hour mission on the Resident Advisor stage, the Drone Logic highlights and stand-out techno stompers such as Ondo Fudd’s 'Coup d’Etat' forbid the audience to stay still. Phantasy head Erol Alkan also swung by to blow-up the stage a day later, with the gnarly essence of Randomer’s 'Huh' calling us into a bottomless pool of uninterrupted bangers, as the acidic tinge of 'A Hold On Love' – transformed with a female vocal not present on his original Illumination EP – closed the tent in dramatic ecstasy. Under his Daphni alias, Dan Snaith also spoiled us with the track of the summer – the extended mix of 'Can’t Do Without You', which we heard played out five times over the course of the weekend.
Serving up performances from Joy Orbison, Wayward and Boiler Room’s Tasker, the Red Bull stage – which was complete with bar, couches and was housed in a converted shipping container – allowed DJs to veer away from structure thanks to its intimacy. Reduced to just one member for their Sunday set, Psychemagik treated the multiplying audience to both slow-burning (yet brilliantly housed-up) versions of Fleetwood Mac’s' Dreams' and 'Everywhere' which were made with the intention to light-up these kind of festival fields. As Hurricane Bertha blew in from the Pennines, Have you ever kissed the sunshine on Ditongo’s 'Walk Between The Rain' was contrasted with rumbles of thunder coming out of the speakers, bringing the air-punches high to the sky.
 As Sunday’s storm progressed, both the Argyll and East Leeds FM stages were cordoned off, and with the punk don of dance Andrew Weatherall’s ‘Love From Outer Space’ project being cut short, morale was dipping by the evening. Ever the professionals when the show must go on, the team rescheduled Cate Le Bon as Neneh Cherry braved the biblical mud with her Rocket Number Nine band. Cherry’s defiant enthusiasm saw her take the to fangirl side-of-stage position at Darkside – who followed and closed the festival in spectacular fashion for 2014.
And what about the culinary highlights? There was a whiskey tasting over lunch with blue-haired waiters, all shoe-less, that turned out to be surprisingly educational – not to mention tasty. Then there was the fabulous Dough Boys and Patty Smith eateries that had tongues wagging all weekend and county street food from the best vendors in the region. Add a When-In-Yorkshire Tea Room complete with homemade cake, reggae in a blanketed corner and the chance to have your tipple in actual china, and you realise that these little luxuries really go a long way. Installing interactive art to support the independents including fresh, digital projections from Manchester’s Mary Naylor also illuminated the after-hours chills straight out of our bones.
 No matter how much we wish we could stop a classified hurricane dampening our parade, Beacons is one hell of a classy hangout. And despite being in its infancy, the line-up alone confirms that this festival has established itself as the staple of many Northern – and Southern – music fans’ summer.

Words by Yours Truly // Images by Tom Joy & Giles Smith X

Friday, 1 August 2014

Review // Theo Parrish @ The Ritz

My first post in an age, I'm sorry! In between all the madness that is currently my life, I was lucky enough to catch Theo Parrish's live show in Manchester, a fortnight ago, with my review up now on the award-winning 405's website. Isn't that nice? Click here to read, or scroll down for the unedited version... 
Review // Theo Parrish @ The Ritz
Following an exclusive album playback of his anticipated release ‘American Intelligence’, Detroit luminaire Theo Parrish, proves the only way to better a jazz-laden dish of electronic indulgence, is when a prestigious squad joins their selector. Oh and a decent back catalogue helps, of course. A favoured face on the club scene, Theo’s first first live shows in a decade led to a mass turnout at Manchester’s Ritz, a high-energy crowd readied for the transition of projects- usually sacred to the studio or club- in an immersive, hypnotic live experience. 
As dancers bound out onto the stage; brass, keys, guitars encasing them, the energy levels soar as a funk led introduction, effortlessly sets the tone. Sporting the furthest thing from uniform, including a bucket hat in one case, the performers taking centre stage dazzle with their moves and solos, ‘Walking Thru The Sky’s acid-jazz, fluently layering in. Vocalist Ideeya’s notes project far and wide, gleaming and demanding attention, before drum snaps crack in, each member of the troupe indisputably given to the beat. 
As personally a huge fan of Theo’s Sound Signature productions, when favourites like ‘Chemistry’ are performed well-seasoned, with synths full of body and sticky sweet croons, deviating away from the electronic-led original to a jazz jumped adaptation, is anything but sour and a welcome variation. Of course there are more prominent keys and a digital basis with the likes of ‘Control’, but taking a route more smooth, more brooding, makes it less explicitly sexy than the accompanying fan videos of the track found on YouTube, and allows itself air to breathe, the odd improvisational flurry maintaining a specifically rich tone, rather than something more rigid. 
With a blistering drum solo ahead of ‘Solitary Flight’ and formidable popping and locking to ‘Going Through Changes’, it’s easy to understand why London’s seated Barbican venue was chosen to house the same performance on this mini UK tour, with so much to also visually stimulate, the whole thing omitting an essence of a relaxed and comfortable- but excellent- enactment. This years Pièce de résistance ‘Footwork’, proves itself a worthy inclusion alongside his extensively impressive inventory, hi-hats shimmying in and then, that bass! Oh so unforgiving, oh so infectious. 
A superbly well executed live show doesn’t mean that Theo is hanging up his headphones any time soon, and as disciples to the House of Parrish, you’d forget it was his name atop the posters emblazoned across the building out front, each performer, musician and dancer, bold in their duties. Just don’t leave us waiting another decade, to sample the silky-soul setting of such an astonishing live show, and judging by the strong-hold applause and hollering as everyone erupted out onto the streets come 11pm, It's a unanimous contemplation that leaves me believing I'm not the only one...

Words by Yours Truly X

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Review // Paul Oakenfold- 'Trance Mission'

I reviewed Paul Oakenfold's 'Trance Mission' release for 365 Mag, ahead of it's release tomorrow! Arguably Paul’s first artist album since 2006, this new release is an album of 10 covers- not remixes- of Paul’s favourite tracks of all time and one which sees him returning to his roots. Click here to read it, or scroll down below!
Review // Paul Oakenfold- 'Trance Mission'
Electronic enigma Paul Oakenfold, has held onto his legendary reputation as the godfather of trance for decades, perfecting and showcasing his craft across institutions including Radio 1 and Cream - but with archetypal anthems such as ‘Ready, Steady, Go’ under his belt, not to mention putting pen-to-paper composing grandiose film scores for Hollywood blockbusters and back, no introduction should really be needed. 
Building up a fresh interpretation of timeless trance classics for the double disc release of ‘Trance Mission’- aptly titled because “it's filled with a selection of my favourite trance records from the last 25 years and it’s been a bloody mission to finish”, as the man himself states - Oakenfold has taken a calculated, concentrated approach to reinvent this twelve-track journey. Utilising “nothing except the original riff” to compose his covers, rather than simply remixing, he delves layers deep into reinventing these iconic listens of yesteryear… but will it leave a bitter taste in the mouths of lovers of the genre, or will he be capable of reigniting the ecstasy felt first time around? 
 From the get-go, it is clear to dissect that Oakenfold’s track selection has been plucked from a notion to appeal to appreciators, of whose stomachs will flutter at the mere sight of titles such as ‘Theme For Great Cities’ and ‘Touch Me’… but this is your official warning that these are certainly not the old favourites, we’re used to. Take the infamous ‘Café Del Mar’, by no means a genteel listen, that spirals progressively harder in 2014 than it ever did back in the early nineties when showcased by Energy 52.
Contorting into a dense, wonky working thanks to chopped vocal whispers of the infamous Ibiza venue that manages to stealthily creep into the listener’s subconscious despite brazen production that cannot be ignored- an applaudable effort of skill and insight is highlighted in its rawest, familiar form here, but of course it’s not as if we expected anything less. 
 As a man passionate about his art that has never censored the euphoria present at the heart of trance - who says Oakenfold should start now? Re-producing Fragma’s ‘Toca Me’ with a crisper undertone that accelerates energy and unforgivingly nudges up the high-octane BPM, further more so than its predecessor, every asset of his personality flows through the very veins of this release. Big-room drops and elongated build-ups that deviate away from traditional trance standpoints, don’t deduct from the ethos felt at the centre come his pummelling edit of Grace’s ‘Not Over Yet’, allowing the instantly-recognisable vocals to be positively isolated, projected into taking centre stage. 
 Marrying a hybrid of cinematic workings and no-nonsense, unadulterated anthems, it’s clear of his aim to infuse the album with individual flair, making his statement accessible as an introductory tool, without tarnishing the genre’s heritage; an epic task he does successfully manage to execute, from beginning to end. 
Undeniably set to instigate interest across younger generations of whom may not have been able to experience the definitive period of trance at it’s peak, but are familiar with the history of these tracks in numerous forms, ‘Trance Mission’ is set to not only reinstate the historical importance of Oakenfold’s character as a heralded DJ, but also the positive, seminal role that this release will impact upon the future resurgence of the genre.

Words by Yours Truly X

Monday, 12 May 2014

Feature // SOHN for Crack Magazine

 I interviewed 4AD's SOHN for the latest issue of Crack Magazine, out all over the country (With Tood Terje on the cover) right now! We talked about his production work for Banks, working solely at night and how the Vienesse air inspired his debut album 'Tremors'. You can also read it digtially here or scroll down below...
SOHN // Crack Magazine
Where many artists utilse an alter-ego to entertain away from their original persona, Vienna-by-way-of-London's SOHN breathes his identity with no conceptual distinctions.
 “I liked the idea of being the son of all my past experiences” he muses, explaining the depths to his German-spoken mononym, a tone of both soft and strong proportions that sets the foundation for his doleful discourse. “It’s not only when I perform either”, he continues through the onyx-black hood that can often be seen cowling his figure. “These are the clothes I wear, full- stop… it’s less about omitting a presence, and more about feeling one.”
 We’re Skyping with SOHN, who is late to our morning interview, but after learning of the nocturnal studio schedule enlisted for the creation of his debut full-length, it’s not without good reason. Residing in London and producing “urgent, sinister” work, he moved to Austria out of a lack of connection to the city, integrating himself within the Viennese culture. “I’m more of a hermit than ever before, so moving to a country for community is kind of ironic” he admits. “I love the sense of calm here, it’s a quiet city when you want it to be.”
 SOHN’s debut album Tremors sets him apart from the post-RnB segregation of male, angel-voiced solo artists such as How To Dress Well and James Blake. It’s a self-appreciating listen that draws you in and won’t let go until you’re entwined deep in its elaborately emotional web. Recording Tremors alone in the dead of night often resulted in not leaving his studio until sunrise. As pitch-black pressure points vividly burn throughout his elegant soundscape, the release undoubtedly belongs to the purity of dusk or dawn.
Tremors is as much about the light as it is about the dark; just as much about the space and silence as it is abundant with multi-instrumentalism. “I died a week ago/ There’s nothing left” SOHN mourns on The Wheel, building a melody of humidified vocals. Tracks such as Tempest produce digitised pools of vocals, leading SOHN’s stunning falsetto on a journey that peaks with chopped, woody beats, before the explicit imagery of Paralysed, a poignant, lump-in-the-throat listen, etching out a downturn of love and loss through locked arms and “twisted intestines”. An intensely beautiful byproduct of pain that resonates to listeners universally, actions and consequences are all well and good, but it’s epitomising an ethereal, textural scene to his audience that SOHN presses further.
“The artwork, photography and videos have always been massively important in terms of presenting the music with the right mood, the right intention. I look long and hard at that side of what I do. I make the music and see the visuals in my head already, which can be as vague as colour, all the way to being so specific that I can see the whole video… the photography has to encapsulate everything I feel the song does, but also set a scene for the song to be listened to.” Take the gorgeous visuals for Bloodflows, where picturesque and weather-beaten landscapes in the Bavarian Alps are inked by a multitude of leaking smoke bombs, his soulfully icy vocals almost bleeding off the screen.
 Stepping away from his own gruelling after-dark agenda, SOHN is nothing short of a musical polymath, also applying his Midas touch to productions and remixes for the sultry sounds of Banks, over to the rich tones of Kwabs. “I loved them both immediately” he gushes. “It was just a very innocent, ‘let’s get in a room and see what happens’ scenario. I work the same way as when I’m writing for myself, the only difference is you have to carve out the right space for the other artist. That’s something all great producers are capable of doing, and something which I love.”
 Turning his ear to the attention-demanding bite of Angel Haze, along with skewing LA duo Rhye’s sensual hues into a haunting listen for his remix of Open, it’s not just a take on the new generation of US up-and-comers that is making SOHN’s European presence felt on the other side of the Atlantic. YouTube any of Tremors’ 11 striking tracks and you’ll soon be met with a “Miguel brought me here!” luminous green thumbs-up comment, ever since the superstar RnB smooth bot dropped “John but with an S” into a radio interview of British inspirations, citing a “super dope” five-song SoundCloud as his introduction.
 From a superstar fan to a European enigma, the bright lights constantly attracted to SOHN’s world don’t add distraction. “I forget even having a debut record out is a big thing” he admits softly. Yet releasing one of the most gut-wrenchingly passionate records to come out of 4AD this year warrants a springtime full of sadness on SOHN’s watch, something worth submersing yourself into and remembering on a wholly devoted level.

Words by Yours Truly X

Friday, 9 May 2014

Feature // Hardwell relaunches

 I wrote the press release for the relaunch of Hardwell's website this week! You can go to Hardwell's homepage and click on the link as shown in the screenshot below to view it- also directly here- or scroll down as per usual!
Hardwell relaunches

The world’s #1 DJ and Revealed Recordings head honcho Hardwell, is pleased to announce the relaunch of his website 
 Now featuring an interactive biography including personal family photographs, the chronological timeline maps out Hardwell’s voyage from humble beginnings in his Dutch motherland, over to meteoric superstar, executing sets to packed-out dancefloors worldwide.
 As well as hosting clearly cohesive social media channels, allowing almost nine million fans (and growing) to tap into his substantially consistent output, additional key features also include an integrated media player for ease of listening when browsing, along with a single-page discography overview.
 Rightfully claiming his title as the most socially engaging DJ in electronic music, an interactive world map also provides a comprehensive summary of his approaching live dates, allowing fans to track, stay informed and even purchase tickets in light of his spectacular I AM HARDWELL concept tour, amongst others.
 Joining forces with Beer 'n' Tea and Flashin, two internet companies hailing from Hardwell’s own hometown of Breda, this all new website manages to take his global reaching music and artist presence and turn into in to an overwhelming digital experience. Having always been on the frontline of innovation when it comes down to connecting with his audience, Hardwell fans can now enjoy this experience on a whole new level. Beer 'n' Tea co-owner Berend Buningh: ''We are hugely proud to present this new innovative website to the world, and working with Hardwell has been a truly great experience for us as we’ve managed to realise both our visions of what the ultimate DJ website should look and feel like.”.
With upcoming residencies confirmed alongside the world’s biggest super clubs, including weekly sets at the renowned open-air daytime venue Ushuaïa Ibiza, Hardwell has also invited fans to submit media recorded at his live shows, with the chance to be included in the video for his Prodigy-sampling latest smash, ‘Everybody Is In The Place’.
As 2014 has already proved to be a whirlwind, landmark year for the luminary, it’s only fitting that this modernized, slick new website, mirrors the colossal level of superiority that Hardwell enlists throughout his work.

Words by Yours Truly X

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Review // Future Everything Festival

Afternoon! Late last month I was sent down to Manchester's Future Everything Festival for Crack Magazine. Held in various venues of theatres, basments and galleries, Future Everything marries the look at digital innovations across art, music, sport and a whole range of diverse subjects. I caught Evian Christ's curated evening at The RNCM and Darkside at The Ritz, which you can read over here- or below for the full copy, penned in collaboration with Joe Goggins. You can also read it in print by picking up Issue 40 with Pixies on the cover!
Future Everything @ Various Venues
FutureEverything’s premise is one that favours all things forward-thinking. Taking place across Manchester over the course of seven days, their mission to host shows from contemporary music artists at the forefront of innovation as well as art exhibitions, conceptual events and industry conferences is a vision to behold. Crack’s FutureEverything experience kicks off on Thursday night with an appearance from Darkside. Nicholas Jaar and Dave Harrington’s collaborative project brought an eclectic bout of prog-imprinted, tension building electronica to the back end of 2013. With mirror-led visuals that breeze beams of darkness through to a spectrum of colours, the experience feels somewhat transcendental, moody yet sanguine, as melodies and bodies melt into one another, accentuating the deeper levels that cross over live on tracks such as Golden Arrow and Paper Trails.   
 With the city’s Royal Northern College of Music welcoming in an Evian Christ-curated evening, held in its seated theatre, there was uncertainty as to whether or not the formal space would enhance the atmosphere or, alternatively, swallow it whole. TCF, a blackened-out figure before us, projects swirling bass that immerses with his film-score-worthy-weird manipulations. His brave efforts set off abstractly and just a throw too-far leftfield for many in attendance. London’s Visionist immediately follows, marrying his ghostly take on radical, nocturnal grime. A glacial, dubbed-out half hour ensues, forming the most club-worthy set of the night. It’s admirable to watch how this plethora of future-thinking artists adapt with the theatrical environment, especially with the aid of artist Emmanuel Biard, whose lighting spectacular set to the abrasive elements of Evian Christ’s set provides the most amazing part of the evening. 
To say that Julianna Barwick’s set at the RNCM Theatre is more than the sum of its parts would be an enormous understatement; she spends the 40-minute slot stood behind a keyboard, but in truth she barely uses it. It’s the mess of samplers and pedals at her disposal that form the crux of the performance, as she creates a veritable cornucopia of lush soundscapes using little more than her own voice, generously looped. Every time the mass of loops threatens to bubble over into cacophony, she dials them back down in impressively soothing fashion. Tim Hecker’s headline performance, meanwhile, couldn’t be further removed. 
 He’s just barely discernible amongst the shadows as he takes the stage in a pitch-dark theatre, and you spend the first few minutes wondering when the visuals are going to kick in – only to realise, eventually, that there aren’t any. Hecker delivers his entire set in almost total darkness, and it’s a complementary environment; his dark, foreboding sound, often beautiful on record, is utterly punishing live. We spotted a fair few heading for the exits early during a brutal, reverb-laden opening ten minutes. What they missed was a tantalising reinvention of what live electronic music should represent. Enjoyable seems like the wrong word, but exhilarating? Absolutely. 
 And as in previous years, a major part of FutureEverything’s remit was to explore how we interact with sound, and to experiment with it; it wasn’t simply a case of putting on live events. In keeping with that, one of the major installations at the vast ‘pop-up urban experiment’ City Fictions project was BUQS, which saw ninety Ubiquitous Electronic Lifeforms scattered across the city. The devices – produced, as demonstrated at New City Square, using 3D printers – were constructed of plastic casing and contained sensors and motors that allowed them to pick up basic information about their environment and relay them sonically, encouraging direct interaction with the BUQS with user-unique results. Their resemblance to giant insects was intended to conjure up imagery of ‘infestation’, with the suggestion that the units were able to ‘hack’ the landscape, leaving spectators with the resonant reminder that in urban environments, often the most omnipresent technology is near-invisible. 
We entered FutureEverything with a desire to broaden our horizons, and left with shattered preconceptions and with fresh ideas buzzing around in our minds. Looking at the forecasts of digital culture, proving that music is continuing to explore exciting, uncharted new territory and even handing out 130,000 copies of a fictional newspaper issue from 2018, FutureEverything is both inspiring and, at times, somewhat overbearing. If there’s one thing we’ve learnt, it’s that the future is coming, so we might as well embrace it.

Words By Yours Truly & Joe Goggins X
 Images by Gary Brown and Matt Eachus

Monday, 7 April 2014

Feature // Skiddle April Electronic Listings

April's listings have to be some of my favourite of the year. Where Easter used to mean chocolate eggs for breakfast on a Sunday, it now means an extra excuse to dance your legs into a state of numbness all in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. You can read all about my picks for Skiddle over here (Or huuugely unedited below, this month), including a run-down of Stones Throw-er Jon Wayne's hotly anticipated UK dates, as well as Andrew Weatherall playing a 'rave in a cave' for 4/20 (!!!).
Skiddle Electronic listings- April
As April and Easter rear their delectable confectionary-shaped heads around the corner, it seems that the North’s showcases this month are anything but fluffy and plucked from a pastel palette. If you planned a quiet one in pawing over your dissertations or catching up on that paperwork (I did until I composed this very piece…), then the club spaces throwing out the masculine chiefs and underground sizzlers, say otherwise. 
 With the intrusion of the significant LA hip-hop label Stones Throw Records, quite literally submerging the North this month, the opportunity to catch label boss Peanut Butter Wolf in the intimate setting of Leed’s Hi-Fi Club on April 4th, rings as a set that you’d literally kick yourself for being stupid enough to miss. Also making one of it’s UK premiers is the ‘Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton: This Is Stones Throw Records’ feature documentary, as Gorilla’s spacious club area in Manchester is converted into an independent, mini-cinema for the eve come the 3rd. Expect popcorn, hotdogs if you’re lucky, and definitely never-before-seen interviews with the likes of Snoop, Common and Tyler The Creator, talking about the surrounding birth of the influential imprint, over to the growth of hosting one of the most well-respected artist rosters and releases in hip hop. Don’t be thinking it’s all over though, as Jon Wayne plays his debut Manchunian show later on April 30th, bringing the illest beats, soulful undertones and fiercely intelligent flow to Soup Kitchen’s basement. With a little helping hand from local bad boys Metrodome and Sparkz paving the way with their take on classics the only way they know how, it’s set to be a hazed-out, impeccable month. 
 Fancy your bass a whole lot more beefy and home-grown? Then Butterz aficionado Royal-T heading up BPM at The Roadhouse should add a slick of oil to your motor, before Slew Dem veteran JT The Goon orchestrates his instrumental take on nu-grime over at Joshua Brooks. It’s not even close to over yet though, as Youngsta then takes on a rubble-shaking, 90-minute set at the under-renovation Antwerp Mansion thanks to Hit & Run. It looks like you better get your Monday morning sick voice practice in now, whilst I take a look what’s accumulating for the house heads and techno terrors. 
 Moving things along to our old favourites Chibuku and to slow things down after their insane Andy C-headed session in March, Good Friday will bring Columbia’s Shift K3y and Radio 1’s late night chameleon B Traits together, for one of the city’s top holiday bashes. Heading further afield and with Chester’s The Live Rooms turning up the dial with the mid-tempo, deep sounds of Black Butters duo Gorgon City, Ibiza-head Josh butler steps-toe-to-toe in an outer-city clash this month, flaring up behind the decks at Frodsham’s Mersey View. Feel like you need to breathe into a paper bag should you step out of anywhere remotely central, never mind a place where the Tesco Extra’s don’t even stay open till 11pm? Don’t worry, me too but luckily Leeds have our backs should we ever be so silly again. Glasgow’s Optimo nights have gained momentum for over a decade now, spinning out Sunday fun-days’ into a hedonistic powwow of diversity in Scotland, so their three-hour set at Wire should tide you over to Theo Parrish’s Easter Thursday doubled, six hour extension at Nest. 
Golden Ticket 
 Cream-affiliate 303 are making the necessarily bold leap away from traditional venues that hanker most regular evenings in Liverpool, bringing their ‘rave in a cave’ treat of accommodating eclectic master Andrew Weatherall, in the unique Williamson Tunnels heritage site. It’s an wonderfully varied venture that puts-to-shame the saturated Warehouse-venue market the North over, whilst certainly not standing dubious from providing attendees with the rousing, scintillating evening they deserve; Plus it’s all held on 4/20 and if you need your arm twisting any more, then hey, even Lauren agrees

Words by Yours Truly X

Monday, 31 March 2014

Feature // Alizzz MIXED BY for Thump

I asked Spanish producer Alizzz to contribute to Thump's MIXED BY series and he provided a party selection, fit for brightening up any Monday. I've included the little-under-an-hour mix below, along with some words I wrote to coincide for Thump- oh and the full tracklist if you just keep scrolling!
Alizzz MIXED BY for Thump

Barcelona’s Alizzz has been drenching us all in his elastic works of high-contrast digitalism and hip-hop influenced soundscapes, with releases on labels including MofoHifi and Arkestra since 2012. Fast forward two bonkers years, and Alizzz’s latest ‘Sunshine’ EP offering on Mad Decent’s Jeffrees imprint brings shimmering synths, befuddling tempo changes, and a gurgling dose of bass to the frisky label - with his exclusive MIXED BY offering following suit. Laden with booty clap-inducing Big Sean remixes, Jersey Club big-name re-fits, as well as a slew of unreleased edits and of-the-minute pop gems, Alizzz presents an hour-long ride that cements his audacious persona as a European-centric, US-influenced platter of brilliance.
{Tracklist: 100s - Ten Freaky Hoes Alizzz feat. Santell - I C U Promnite - She Know it Iggy Azalea feat. Charli XCX - Fancy Falcons - Be quiet Marian Hill - One Time (Imanos Remix) [Unreleased] Siroj - The heat [Unreleased] Seiho - Gold Moon Boots - CYS ARME - Foxxy [Unreleased] LIZ - All them boys Demon's - You are my high (Picard Bros edit) ranko feat. ELOQ & TT the Artist - Dirty Works [Unreleased] Ciara - Sorry (Playground Mob) [Unreleased] Big Sean - Marvin & Chardonnay (Trippy Turtle and Dj Hoodboi remix) Partynextdoor – Persian Rugs (salute Edit) Wave Racer - Bliss Streamers (Patrick Baker vocal edit) [Unreleased] Alizzz - What if Justin Timberlake - TKO (Lido remix) 813 - Lil bear [Unreleased] Brokenhaze - I believe [Unreleased] Flume x Hermitude - Hyperparadise (Ganz remix) Kelly Rowland - Kisses down low (Alizzz remix) Alizzz - That gurl Trey Songz - Neighbors Know My Name (Tk Kayembe RMX) Beyonce - Say my name (Cosmo midnight remix) [Unreleased] Alizzz - Sunshine}

Words by Yours Truly X

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Review // Drake @ Phones 4 U Arena

The absolute angels over at Universal sent me to the opening night of Drake's 'Would You Like A tour?' here in Manchester earlier in the week. I (willingly/ unwillingly? Delete as appropriate) dragged Ceej along for throwing out some moves to my favourite non-guilty pleasure, it was an ostentatiously brilliant way to spend a Tuesday night and you can read all about it below!
Drake @ Phones 4 U Arena
Aubrey Drake Graham; Canadian child television wonder, rap superstar and poster boy for the millennial generation of emotional hip-hop, kicked off his ‘Would You Like A (UK) Tour?’ at Manchester’s Phones 4 U Arena on Tuesday. With a surplus of pyrotechnic explosions and splashing out on a reported two million dollar production budget, an additional invite to fellow Canuck The Weeknd to hop aboard his tour bus for this latest ten date run, extends further great promise and growth for tens of thousands of attendees.
 As soon as darkness dawned upon the stage, it seemed that spectators were more interested in Vine-ing blurry six second clips of the self-proclaimed Champagne Papi, rather than allowing their breath to be taken away by a, literally, sparking Tuscan Leather introduction. Holding down his on-stage territory with great audacity and a modest-sized, in-house band setting off his routine every step of the way, Graham distinguishes himself more self-assured and high-energy than ever. Alongside a mean-sounding rendition of Worst Behaviour, 305 To My City and the serenade-worthy Hold On We’re Going Home, non-album track Trophies and flutters of his guest spots on French Montana’s Pop That and A$AP Rocky’s Fuckin' Problems, make crystal clear that the So Far Gone-era classics don’t always have to be present.
 As mentioned, two million dollars is a ridiculously large amount of money by anyone’s standards to reserve solely for production value, however, surely on this titanic scale such bucks can be justified, presented and executed to an outstanding level, of which engages in nothing less than astonishing, a million times over. Or so you would believe. Realising that throughout his ninety-minute spectacular that the colossal chrome lighting rig suspended on the roof of the building, enlisted for Graham to interact more with his crowd, was utilised once for an unnecessarily lengthy period, suddenly the setting felt like a dilatory, showy attempt at being lavish purely for the sake of being lavish. Then comes the corny fifty-foot high monochrome portraits onscreen, tarnishing somewhat the latter-part of the show as wincingly self-appreciating, compared to the unpretentious aura that was present half an hour previous... and don’t even get me started on the cringe-worthy lyric adaptions of Manchester-based puns that were unavoidable come every other verse.
Nonetheless, it’s near impossible to question the OVO head’s methods of practice and sentimental lyrical ease, when he is the solitary figure on stage operating with impeccable execution. Before we know it, it’s a little after eleven and warnings of the impending climax approach; a hip-bumping portrayal of The Motto here, a smoke-rocket led swagger of HYFR there, ‘Would You Like A Tour?’ achieved the career-spanning setlist desired with formidable brilliance and just the perfect side-order of showmanship. Shouting out mentor-figures in the industry including Jay Z and Lil Wayne before bidding his sophomore arena audience goodbye, he needn’t look up nor fall back in comparison when four full-lengths deep, Aubrey Drake Graham has finally graduated with his soft-side flow crown, polished in place.

Words by Yours Truly X

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Feature // Skiddle February Electronic Listings

I've been in dissertation hibernation (Along with a month full of suprise visits and big birthdays...), so completely forgot to post my Skiddle picks for February when they first went live earlier this month, whoops! You can read all about my championing of high-denier hosiery and bowing down to Valentines Day over here, with picks including Moderat, Hudson Mohawke and Gilles Peterson. Hold tight, more (Frequent, I promise) posts coming soon!
Words by Yours Truly X

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Review // The Closing Party @ WHP

Review // The Closing Party @ WHP
I never thought being offered a badge at 9pm could, nor would, make me feel all kinds of emotion… pre-gin consumption, that is. However, a miniature, robust capsule branded with the text ‘Farewell Victoria’, confirmed that the inevitable had arrived. With an aura of melancholic pride oozing from even the water boys doing their bit from behind a pasting table in the forecourt, in addition to the fact that this periodic ‘closing party’ outdoes itself ever the more per-annum, begs allegiance that a significant night awaits thanks to a profusion of back-to-backs plucked from our wildest dreams.
 It has been impossible as of late to attend one of Oliver Jones’s either solo or Skreamizm-headed outings, without being swept into a syrup-smooth world of disco and funk grooves, yet we ought to have more respect than to measure that this dub veteran would follow the grain of our idle presumptions. Robert Hood’s ‘Paradise’ release under his Floorplan alias this Summer, was a minimal tech-house barrage that included the made-for-opening-your-evening-on-a-high-note ‘Baby Baby’, overflowing with curtailing horns and creditable agility within it’s exhilarating bursts. Skream knows that onslaughts of Detroit-influenced vigour is sure to get the ‘eds respectfully engaged, for the long-haul.
 Paul Woolford and Midland have locked horns in friendly b2b battles throughout the previous year, and despite the pair producing arguably 2013’s biggest dancefloor fillers in the mediums of ‘Untitled’ and ‘Trace’, tonight they opted to take a step back a decade and a double, to satisfy the bulging horde. Double 99’s ‘Rip Groove’ is only ever given the attention it deserves in such a praiseworthy environment with the white-knuckle suspense of its build-up and bass drop, followed by a deeply stringy Tina Moore sample that carries a wealth of intensity. Hold on a second, how does a track so brash even segue into the most sturdy release without nose-diving among the watchful? With the piano house classic of Inner City’s ‘Pennies From Heaven’, causing everyone to spit out their lines of ‘Bring me some love’ with all the toe-tapping and harmonising hands you could ask for, that’s how. As we scope past room one and spy a single Martinez Brother fist-pumping his way through the Jamie Jones- surveilling sea (Sorry for trying to hug you, Chris), two of the UK’s non-producing jewels, Jackmaster and Oneman, came together to perplex the brains off us in room three’s minuscule, mirrored slice of a space.
Although some may see the three hundred capacity room as an ill-fitting choice for such talent that does, inescapably, bring in an audience much bigger than the area can comfortably withstand, thanks to daring track selection and impeccable mixing, everyone is too busy spiralling into a hysterical state of sing-a-long indulgence to care. As near-millennial bangers a la Gorillaz and Basement Jaxx surprise and delight, modern rap anthems from Kanye and Ace Hood max the attitude up- and this wasn’t just variety selected to please the crowds, this was frankly, a special event for those electing what blows out of the speakers, too. Staples across the UK garage spectrum such as The Streets unforgettably intense ‘Blinded By The Lights’ and Artful Dodger’s ‘Movin’ Too Fast’, provide the much-needed antidote to the somewhat unknown soul-jazz of Gregory Porter’s ‘1960 what?’, as well as the downright weird inclusion of a segment entitled ‘Duelling Banjos’ from the 70s movie ‘Deliverance’. There was Drake, The Police, Boddika and Armand Van Helden- I really could go on, yet let it be known that the best set of the season was undoubtedly had here, as unashamed expressions of personality and intrigue were splashed all over the walls…and a spasming Chunky atop Krystal Klear’s shoulders seemed to agree, too.
 Piling out into the baltic Trafford night with the sound of Green Velvet’s ‘Bigger Than Prince’ echoing behind us and an illuminated signed reminder that this really is goodbye, we may be simultaneously beaming from within yet bowing our heads in woe, yet there really is no reason to even slightly take the gloom-and-doom approach. With talks that Warehouse will be moving to a bigger (and presumably better) space with names such as Mayfield Depot cropping up, in addition to a string of one-off events including Moderat at Albert Hall this approaching February, expansion and diversion will only prevail.

Words by Yours Truly // Images by WHP via here X