Tuesday downloads: fancy footwork

Watch this. Feel that lump in your throat? When all the handwringing about exploitation begins � and there will be plenty of both the former and the latter (somewhere at this very moment a deeply unfair reality show contract is almost certainly being drawn up) � let�s not forget why we chase highs like the feeling of watching something that fresh and amazing for the first time. It�s like finding a trove of unseen Picassos in a flea market, if comparing wastelands like YouTube and the blogosphere to a flea market isn�t too much of an insult to flea markets.

I�m crazy late to the game, of course � people have been doing footwork in Chicago since the late �80s. It took Planet Mu�s Mike Paradinas (a.k.a. u-Ziq) championing the music for me to notice, which isn�t a small thing either. I didn�t think much of DJ Nate�s �Hatas Our Motivation,� Planet Mu�s first footwork release, or the stuff on Ghettophiles that I heard. Where�s the beat? Why are the loops so short? Who wants to turn up the bass with all that distorted middle-range? Whatever magical combination of gabba-like sample stabs, drum machine tom-toms and soul that I wasn�t even hearing as music, Paradinas did. I wonder if he can explain why I�m the only one who thinks the new Kanye can eat a bag of fuck?

�Here it comes / the sound of confusion�
� �Walking With Jesus,� Spiritualized

My switch got flipped by DJ Rashad�s forthcoming Just A Taste [STREAM], but it�s not out yet, so while you listen to his and DJ Spinn�s disorienting �Go Crazy� on loop so many times it turns your cerebral cortex into lumpy yoghurt, download DJ Earl�s �Hit Da Bootz� for a basic but compelling example of how to turn an 8Ball & MJG sample into a straight banger. Rashad�s single from earlier this year, �Itz Not Rite� is worth a purchase if only to find out what these shits sound like properly mastered. Which is to say, face-melting, like the best early drum �n� bass. Or Monk. Don�t you dare laugh.

[DJ Earl LINK via FACTmag; DJ Rashad available via Boomkat/iTunes/etc]

Mayer Hawthorne

As I said to a friend of mine this evening: what is up with the Vince Guaraldi mania this year? The Charlie Brown Christmas music has never been so ubiquitous. It might be that everyone is tired of the usual retro mania vs slick commercial update schism that colours most of our shopping experiences — the self-consciously cool stores have Nat King Cole or maybe The Waitresses, the oblivious ones have Mariah Carey and Brad Paisley — and Guaraldi’s weary shuffling offers a reprieve from having to make one more quasi-meaningful choice. It’s classic, but doesn’t particularly signify anything in particular about you. Mayer Hawthorne‘s reworking of “Christmas Time Is Here” trades the earnest children’s choir for a broad croon that captures the true spirit of the season: Bing Crosby, dribbling his gooey baritone all over the song like gravy from an overflowing boat. All that excess will be a source of embarrassment come January, so you might as well load up another plate right now while there’s still time. [LINK]

Things that make you go hmmm: 1) Party-throwers for whom the alphabet isn’t good enough (Ghe20 Goth1k); 2) Remixers who credit a song to themselves — Venus X — even though the sum of their additions to Bj�rk‘s “Hunter” are some martial snares and a chipmunky, gabba-techno chirp; 3) Deeply suspect use of athletic apparel. It’s not very charitable, but when someone makes this many bad choices, it’s tempting to call a transcendent blend like this a fluke. They do happen. Then again, listening to this skin-flaying treatment of what might be Bj�rk‘s finest hour, stretching the emotional range of the song over a skeleton borrowed from either Trent Reznor or the Terminator, it’d have to be a hell of a fluke. [LINK]

Nicki Minaj does have a thing or two in common with vintage Busta Rhymes, in that she can be silly sometimes, and she likes to use funny voices. When she bit his “dungeon dragon” bit from A Tribe Called Quest’s “Scenario (Remix),” though, she woke up a sleeping beast worse than anything we had seen before. Busta on “Roman’s Revenge Remix” = classic Busta + Busta from the “Touch It” era, sped up + steroids + soylent green + industrial-grade stimulants that haven’t been invented yet + speaking in tongues. [LINK]

Toro Y Moi have a new single out called “Still Sound”. Generally when I see the words “Toro Y Moi” and “single” together I fall into a coma, so just imagine that I replaced them with some Swedish space disco funkateers collaborating with Tame Impala or something. See? I was going to post one of the new Tim Goldsworthy remixes, and instead I’m posting an unbelievably slinky roller-disco jam by Toro Y freaking Moi. Wait, hang on, don’t go yet. Space disco, Sweden, WikiLeaks, SportsCentre, Tron: Legacy… are you there? Hello? Damn. Lost another one.� [LINK]

Tuesday downloads: Jurgen Paape, Sub Swara f Dead Prez, TOKiMONSTA

Jurgen Paape (image via Kompakt.fm)

It�s Jurgen Paape�s face! Good lord. I�m going with �illegitimate love child of Iggy Pop and Mick Jagger.� The most mysterious of Kompakt�s co-owners has inexplicably decided to reveal himself to coincide with the release of Kompilation, a (what else) compilation of Paape�s singles, including the monstrous �Take That.” It starts off like a seething tech party-starter, but the ominous stabbing laser-beams that muscle their way into the track make it altogether darker, like something you�d drop while working your way towards dubstep or something. It rules, obviously. Kompilation will apparently only have 500 copies on CD split between the store and the online arm, so snag one of these before Paape disappears back into his cavern. [LINK]

There�s always been something just plain off-putting about Dead Prez. Considering that they�re basically radical black nationalists, that ought to be putting it mildly. But it�s not their political views that are hard to stomach, it�s the way they sound so defeatist about them, as though they know how idealistic they sound, and how far their ideals are from any observable or even conceivable reality. In my favourite Chapelle�s Show skit, �I Know Black People,� game show contestants are asked, �How can black people rise up and overcome?�, M-1 and Stic.man would be the ones who answered, �Kill whitey� (�That is correct!�). Ironically, the arms-length distance they keep from the listener on Sub Swara�s �Speak My Language� makes them easier to relate to. �This ain�t English I�m speakin�, this is something ancient,� goes the chorus, over Machinedrum�s spare remix that resembles a dreamier version of the Ying Yang Twinz�s �Wait (The Whisper Song),� percolating hand drums and finger snaps crashing into tweaked synths like a cipher in the middle of a nightclub on a Friday night. Which is where Dead Prez�s preaching truth to power might be most effective. [LINK via FactMag]

Despite seemingly being affiliated with Flying Lotus� Brainfeeder label, TOKiMONSTA seems to be kind of off on her own within the LA beat scene. (I�m speaking out of my ass here, but sometimes I feel like you can tell just from the way the online chatter goes.) If anyone has found a way to absorb FlyLo�s influence and keep it fresh and original without ditching or sidelining the boom bap the way, say, Teebs seems to have done, TOKi and Shigeto are the frontrunners. Do not sleep on her full-length, Midnight Menu. At any rate, “Alive,” a joint from All City�s latest EP, a split with Mike Gao, is based around a total earworm of a bassline, but the ribbons of arpeggiated keyboards aren�t just swirly crap to break up the monotony � there�s a huge amount of melodic material here for a tune with this much oomph. [LINK via Pitchfork]

Tuesday: Madlib, Shackleton, footwork, Young Galaxy

"Start" by Lee J Haywood
Image by Lee J Haywood (via Creative Commons)

Love that sign. Tempting as it may be to link to the Jay-Z remix of “Beware Of The Boys,” let’s keep this inaugural post on track. For starters we’ve got a Madlib / Karriem Riggins joint from ‘lib’s latest entry in the Madlib Medicine Show series; they’ve been hit or miss, but this jazzy little track with a neck breaker of a beat is definitely a hit. (via Stones Throw)

Props to Shackleton for pulling a Ricardo Villalobos with his Fabric 55 mix (from which “International Fires” is drawn); he might not sound quite so druggy, but weirdly wonky is an acceptable substitute. If you wanted to make a second soundtrack to the Zhora chase scene in Blade Runner, this would do the trick. Disorienting, frantic but still focused. A delight. (via RCRD LBL)

“For many, the songs on the compilation will be challenging.” But rewarding, I’m sure, is what NPR meant to say. Ahh, noblesse oblige. Are they suggesting that this compilation of footwork tracks is challenging the way Bruce Springsteen is? I was about to make a comment about the fact that it took Planet Mu’s Mike Paradinas (a.k.a. u-Ziq) to cross an ocean and sign these acts to get NPR to pay attention, but even the dubious write-up that goes with Bangs & Works Vol 1 is still recognition, and the fact that it seems to be arriving for footwork before it’s already over is encouraging. I hope David Lachappelle makes a documentary so I can see how they dance to this stuff. I am only half kidding.

One other thing: Canadians will know Young Galaxy in the way Americans will know Justin Guarini, in that both are among the few to have squandered their initial cultural captial (YG – signed to Arts&Crafts; JG – American Idol winner). But I had a soft spot for Young Galaxy’s overlooked second album, Invisible Republic, so I’m happy that the two available tracks from their third disc, Shapeshifting, are getting blog buzz thanks to the shimmering, Balearic production by Dan Lissvik of Swedish duo Studio. The tunes are really good too, ya know. (via Gorilla Vs Bear)