When Nelly came out with two albums, sold separately, on the same day in 2004, it was such a colossal act of hubris that it almost defies description. It doesn’t help that, as I recall, neither one was very good or very well received.
But Sweat and Suit are a testament to an ego big enough to more or less destroy a successful rapper’s career in one catastrophically grandiose gesture. And that’s why I’ve concocted my own version, the music world’s first answer-double-album: Sweat/Sweatpants.
One for bro-ing down in the club; one for sipping wine with a doo-rag on. Download one or both, or neither, but either way, enjoy.
1. DJ Nori – Happy Sunday (Maurice Fulton Mix) – We Don’t Know EP
2. Komon and Appleblim – Silencio (Prins Thomas Remiks) – Silencio (Prins Thomas Remiks)
3. Mike Mind – Second Circle – Aether
4. Gui Boratto – Gate 7 – The K2 Chapter
5. Fort Romeau – And Now – Stay / True
6. Darkside – The Only Shrine I’ve Seen – Psychic
7. Joe – Slope – Slope
8. Gardland – Syndrome Syndrome – Syndrome Syndrome
9. Egyptrixx – Water (Reduced) – Water (Reduced)
10. Audion – Motormouth – Motormouth
11. Randomer – No Hook – Ruffa
12. Factory Floor – Two Different Ways – Factory Floor
13. Trevino – Gone – 3 And 1
14. Peverelist and Kowton – Beneath Radar – Livity Sound
15. Ctrls – Modular Framework – Shifting States EP
16. Tessela – Gateway – Nancy’s Pantry
17. Blawan – Shader – 30 Years of R&S Records
18. Gerry Read – Rubber Hands – U Got No God Damn Groove
19. Trade – Half Nelson – SHEWORKS005
20. Jam City – Worst Illusion – Club Constructions Vol. 6
21. Distal – Drone Circle – The Shadow Egg
1. Prins Thomas – Sur Svie – Prins Thomas 2 Bonus Tracks
2. Cut Hands – Inchantment – Madwoman
3. Peverelist – Aztec Chant – Livity Sound
4. Adam Marshall – Memphis (feat. Maaskant) – Memphis
5. Policy – Wiseblood – Postscript
6. EMMA – Dream Phone Vip (Vip) – Blue Gardens
7. Acoustic High-End Research – Beer and Air – Gerd Janson presents Musik for Autobahns
8. Nguzunguzu – Break In – Skycell
9. Jam City – The Raven – Club Constructions Vol. 6
10. Morgan Zarate – This – Taker EP
11. Ital Tek – Violet – Control
12. Purity Ring – Amenamy (Jon Hopkins Remix) – Amenamy (Jon Hopkins Remix)
13. The Ethiopians – Empty Belly – Studio One Rub A Dub
14. Ride – Moonlight Medicine (Portishead remix)
15. Primal Scream – Higher Than The Orb Mix – Higher Than The Sun CDS
Irony: I haven’t even seen the actual vinyl and fancy artwork for the Green Series, a collab between online music seller Bleep.com, graphic design firm GiveUpArt, and photographer Shaun Bloodworth, and aesthetics are surely a big chunk of this series’ appeal. Maybe the musicians were inspired and decided to rise to the challenge issued by the art? It would be a rare thing â€“ anyone who’s received a lot of promos knows that good packaging is no guarantee of quality tunes. I used to grimace when I would see a hologram or something on CD packaging, for example, because it usually meant the music sucked. And then there’s this, which I actually bought in 1996 despite the fact that the album it came from was so uneven, it makes Prince’s Emancipation look like a masterpiece of curation.
I digress. All four 12-inches are splendidly abstract and addictive, but in this particular Battle Royale there can only be one winner…
In theory I should be the world’s biggest Karenn fan, given that Blawan and Pariah are incredible on their own. Chocolate + coffee beans = heart attack-inducing flavour orgasm! …but not in this case, for me, at least. There are moments toward the end when the rattling snare and sweeping synth patterns threaten to launch your still-beating heart from your chest and send it flying across the room like a hurled tomato, but for the most part this doesn’t hang together for me. I am however not against collabs in general; I quite like The Analogue Cops’ southern rap-style tom-toms and snares popping like popcorn (or AK-47s, but let’s not go there) while the rest of the track cops a hazy spring-showers vibe. Pop your collar for this one.
The newest entry in the Green Series is a study in contrasts. Marcel Dettmann is the biggest name to contribute so far, and his A-side is the most melodic and listenable of the broader batch, if slightly, er, undercooked. The pipe organ melody sounds like something Flat Eric would dance goofily around his apartment to before going out, though the rigid, belligerent beat clearly means business. Stroboscopic Artifacts boss Lucy turns in a much more dry and oppressive slab; the track begins sounding a smidge like the intro to Daft Punk’s Burnin, as though it’s about to break into jaunty filter-y territory, but instead it doubles down on the creep factor with heavily treated hats rattling away, chain-style. (It is called Slaves’ March, after all.) Sure to become a staple at Halloween.
Speaking of things that give you the shakes, I would love to see how clubbers react to something as jittery as Objekt‘s Shuttered. It’s like a sonic house of mirrors, with drums and other tones echoing and swirling in precisely articulated bursts. Videogame makers, the soundtrack to your next flight simulator title is here. Use this one for the flying-through-a-blizzard scene to give gamers fits. Cosmin TRG‘s contribution is more slick, but also gritty, with a trickle of viscous bass coating the filtered (seemingly bitcrushed) shakers and percussion. The low end is voluminous yet indistinct. I keep waiting for it to bust through the surface and eat me like one of the worms in Tremors.
Right-thinking people are naturally wary when a DJ actually wears a mask in their press photos, so Redshape ought to be a tough sell. His Green Series entry, however, is a marvel of restrained energy that combines the best elements of most of the others. The creeping bassline and the skittering hats drive the track forward with mischievous interplay, while the other elements dart in and out of the sonic plane like fireflies. But it’s Dutch producer Steffi who steals the show with an eerie little banger. A European-style cop car siren goes off far in the distance as screechy horror stabs scratch at the surface of the track. Underneath, there’s a punishing groove perfect for a sweaty black-box, one filled with delicious tension. This is the best candidate for a movie chase scene since Hey Boy Hey Girl, and it doesn’t even have a terrible spoken sample for a hook.
This mix was more of a warm-up for relaunching the site, so there are some shaky transitions, I admit. But I love the tunes, so perhaps you will forgive my near-trainwrecking for now. Peep it.
Untold – Breathe (Precise Mix) [Hemlock]
Delphic – Halcyon (Michael Mayer remix) [Kompakt]
The Analogue Cops and Blawan – Aurum [Vac Victis]
xxxy – Studio 9 (Just Like That) [Rinse]
Blawan – Lavender [R&S]
Hardhouse Banton – Rock And Come In (Super Cat dub) [tropicalbass.com]
Objekt – Shuttered [Bleep]
Parson – I Rep The Dirty South [FACT download]
Double Helix – Bass 2 Dark – [Keysound]
Mike Q x Beek – How Will I Know rmx [Qween Beat]
Youngsta – Destruction [Tempa]
Bassanovva – Ovva f Alanna Stuart [Grizzly]
L-Vis 1990 – That Thunder Track [Jack For Daze]
Lone – AM Portal [Soundcloud]
As I write these words high above downtown Torontopiaville in the 300th floor of the a-void.ca Communications Complex, I recognize that it isn’t as easy as it once was for me to keep in touch with the streets. Are they still watching? Who is to say, really. The next time I take my private elevator to the ground floor and straight into a waiting limo, I will pause for a moment and raise a moistened finger to the air. In the meantime you have this deeply out of touch list, which I hope will let you in on what the caviar-munching, world-travelling elites such as myself are listening to. Behold: the top singles of the year, ivory-tower edition.
When I heard this first on a 2562 podcast it lodged itself in my brain, but it took me a while to realize how bad I needed it in my life — prompting a frantic Sunday vinyl search on my last full day in London. You might ascribe the addictive properties of Blawan’s meisterwurk to the admittedly bitchin’ Brandy sample. But if you checked his Bohla EP (on R&S, who are giving Brainfeeder a run for their money as label of the year) you’d recognize that blend of hard, ricocheting percussion and sand-blasted tech influences with the well-oiled grooves of UK garage and funky as the mark of a singular voice. Having a vocal carry “Getting Me Down” makes it more immediate, more openly pop, than Blawan’s other stuff, but the tuneless shudder from the depths of the song’s water-tight hull makes it twice as scary ï¿½ and as thrilling ï¿½ as any of your harder tech or dubstep. We’re gonna need a bigger boat to haul in a sound as potently heavy as this.
The G-funk legacy hangs over the Brainfeeder stable like, um, well, guess. But where plenty of beat-types turn to the Cameo- and Isleys-sampling so beloved by Death Row alums, Mono/Poly pours the aesthetic through 36 chambers of dread and unease to produce something a little rougher than expected. “Forest Dark” is like Moroder-pop synths wandering down a dark alley and witnessing a crowd gathered around a dog fight; “Punch The Troll In The Neck” prods you with edgy tones like a riot cop on a sugar high; “Needs Deodorant” makes a pimptastic groove into a slightly screechy, agitated answer to “The Hustle.” I never liked ‘relaxing’ music that much, anyway.
3. Four Tet/Thom Yorke/Burial – Ego/Mirror 12″ (Text)
It’s not just the name recognition that bumped this on here. I swear. (Though did I tell you I totally interviewed Four Tet, while he was holding a BABY?) Truth: the most exciting thing about this star-studded (and when has that adjective ever actually implied anything other than potential disappointment?) single is that it sounds like they pressed it inside out, upside down and backwards. Both tunes are little more than uptempo house rhythms with ghostly swirls of melody and Yorke’s vocal dancing in and out. You can sort of see why Radiohead are commissioning remixes from proper dance producers like Jacques Greene and Lone — after this single, you realize that the problem with King of Limbs isn’t that their song ideas aren’t good, it’s just that the beats are shit. Outsourcing: sorry Thom, but it’s the way of the future.
More R&S delectation. I like to think the classic, relaunched Belgian label is annoying the shit out of techno purists with people like James Blake and the much more fun-loving Lone, who throws all kinds of sophisticated synth processing and acid house touchstones in with blatant ‘ardkore references and other hallmarks of someone who really doesn’t give a fuck so long as it’s fun. On the other hand, I also like to think that people who are discerning enough to love Detroit techno are also smart enough to recognize genius moves like the barmy glockenspiel arpeggios all over “Coreshine Voodoo” when they hear it.
Speaking of being wildly out of touch, I haven’t heard the Azari and III album yet. (Doesn’t help that I’m over my quota with my ISP, in the latest in a series of small acts of charity that have blown up into giant pains in the ass. But enough about me.) Pretty sure it’ll be good, though, since with every release they’ve figured out ever fresher ways to make vintage Chicago house sounds without slavishly imitating them. “Manic” isn’t totally faithful to any particular era of house, which is probably why I like it — the effervescent arpeggiated basslines, the doubled n’ detuned vocals that people keep comparing to Prince for reasons I can’t quite fathom, and the straight-up DJ Sneak remix that makes it much more likely to make mainstream clubbers’ heads explode without losing most of the things that make the original awesome. Always a good sign.
Hudson Mohawke – Satin Panthers EP
Slugabed – Moonbeam Rider EP
TOKiMONSTA – Creature Dreams EP
Com Truise – Fairlight EP
Drake – “Headlines” (mostly for the beat)
Mo Kolours – EP1: Drum Talking
Shigeto – “And We Gonna (Samiyam Chopsticks rmx)” – Full Circle Remixes
Venice – Animals, Stars and other Psychedelic Creatures
Wiley – “Numbers In Action”
Prodigy – Complex Presents The Ellsworth Bumpy Johnson EP
Flying Lotus – Pattern + Grid World EP
Discodeine – “Synchronize (f. Jarvis Cocker)”