New mix: Calling Card

Oh, but this was a fun one. It must be spring if there are this many bubbly tracks fighting for space in one mix — minds turning to knuckles-in-the-air outdoor raving and such. I’m a little late with the goods this time but I promise there will be another mix soon. Tracks are coming fast and furious, from the Stormzy album to various newcomers I’m enjoying like Tuckz. For now, enjoy, and play with the windows down.

Download from Mediafire

1. Alex Coulton – Radiance – WSDM004 (Wisdom Teeth)
2. Abra Cadabra – Money Haffi Mek Feat. Stefflon Don – NEW GEN (XL)
3. Facta – Scotch Mist – Alsatian / Scotch Mist (Bloc)
4. Gold Panda – Your Good Times Are Just Beginning – Your Good Times Are Just Beginning (City Slang)
5. Yamaneko – Gala Helipop – Project Nautilus [Keygen Loops] (Local Action)
6. Maribor – Bodybag – Keysound radio dubs 001 (Keysound)
7. FJAAK – Spnd Ballett- Fjaak (Monkeytown)
8. Via Maris – Tempora – Swarm / Tempora (Dnuos Ytivil)
9. Blackdown – Keysound Sessions Anthem (8bar Mix) – Rollage Vol.2: Keysound Sessions Anthem (Keysound)
10. Unknown Archetype – Tripp – Tripp (R&S)
11. Lil Silva – Cyrup – V1 / Cyrup (LS Whites)
12. Rabit – Intrepid – Excommunicate (Self-released)
13. Clams Casino – Back to You feat. Kelly Zutrau – 32 Levels (Columbia)
14. Mophono – Lump Sum Slum Lord – Lump Sum Slum Lord (CB Records)
15. Zgjim – Riddim – RIDDIM ALL STARS (Liquorish Records)
16. Macabre Unit – Neurotik – Neurotik EP (Nomine Sound)
17. Wiley – Name Brand (Feat. JME, Frisco & J2K) – Godfather (CTA Records)
18. Lethal Bizzle – Round Here f. Giggs, Flowdan – Round Here (Dench)
19. Jammz – Warrior – Warrior EP (I Am Grime)

Recorded Feb 20, 2017 by Deemo for a-void.ca

The 50 Best Albums of 2016

In this post: an introduction, reviews of the top 10 albums of the year, a complete top 50 list, and a streaming playlist with a track from every top 50 album save for those not on Spotify. See you in 2017!

There were no seismic shifts in the pop landscape in 2016, nor in 2015, nor in 2014, nor in recent memory. The last time I remember feeling a legit sense of the earth moving under my feet (um, ears?) was when in 2006-2007 the Neptunes and Timbaland ceded ground to Kanye West’s now-dated chipmunked vocal samples, The White Stripes (and before them, The Strokes) firmly rewrote the pop-rock template and the Dixie Chicks told the world they weren’t ready to make nice. All the change since then has felt incremental, which may be a function of my age, but aside from maybe Drake and 40, who has rewritten the playbook — anyone’s playbook? Maybe it doesn’t work like that anymore. Technological change can generally be seen only in the rear-view mirror, but I can’t help thinking it’s changing the way the music evolves. Weep for the future historians who have to find a through-line in the evolution of music in the teens.

If that’s the way things are, or will be, then 2016 was the year I stopped worrying and learned to love the absence of a bomb. None of the albums on my top 10 list feel like any kind of quantum leap forward, but they are all masterful and constantly stimulating, even surprising, on the tenth or even fiftieth listen. It’s pretty shocking to me that a straight-up gangsta rap record like Still Brazy or an instrumental-rock spazzout like Return To Sky would end up atop my list, to the point that I often wonder whether I’ve started privileging the familiar over the unexpected as a kind of defensive mechanism, against the shell-shock of the new. But the flipside of that is my disdain for the records proclaimed as epochal (Arcade Fire *durrr*, Taylor Swift *yawn*) has made me more enthusiastic about records that feature maturing talents, like Blonde, and that showcase mature artists operating at their peak, like Anguis Oleum and A Moon Shaped Pool. It’s exciting to be around when the music world is being turned upside down, but it’s no consolation prize to bear witness to a crop of artists who be doin it and doin it and doin it well.

1. Frank Ocean - Blonde (Boys Don't Cry)

Picture 1 of 10

Team Frank Ocean was already a heaving bandwagon when Blonde dropped, though to these ears the hype was premature when Channel Orange was the only evidence on offer. Whatever, I probably wouldn't have thought Prince was a genius on the basis of his first album, and yet, and yet. Blonde is plenty full of genius-signaling greatness, in flashes of wry lyrical humor ("did you call me from a seance? You from my past life") and epic ballads like "White Ferrari" that just scream This Is Everything You Never Dared Hope He Could Become. There's something in Ocean's ability to leave a line hanging in the synth-soaked, sometimes guitar-wrist-flick-punctuated air. He owns the space between words, shapes it invisibly with the last line and the next one. Even the funkier moments like "Pink + White" are expertly paced hops from one melodic cloud to the next, with his signature move of brightening the harmony in mid-lyric. More than any other impulse he seems to have, Frank Ocean just loves to yank the listener from nostalgic, sometimes idyllic images drenched in romance to mundane, pungent detail about drugs or, often, driving. "We're alone, making sweet love, taking time / but god strikes us!" To me, the centerpiece of the album is "Solo" for the simple reason that it works on a granular detail level -- capturing a moment of pure bliss from an acid trip on a dance floor -- but it also works its way gradually through a heartbreak that left him alone, exposed without a lover and without the rhythm section whose absence leaves a joy-shaped hole in the track. Absence and space are the most expressive parts of the album, and knowing how to play them is irrefutable proof that Frank Ocean has ascended to a higher plane. Though if he really were some kind of god, he'd be the kind that likes to day-trip back to earth, maybe as a swan, just to mess with some poor human for a few hours before returning skyward.

 Selections from a-void’s Best Albums of 2016

 The List: 1-10

1. Frank Ocean – Blonde (Boys Don’t Cry)
2. YG – Still Brazy (400/CTE/Def Jam)
3. Lorenzo Senni – Persona (Warp)
*4. Tim Berne’s Snakeoil – Anguis Oleum (Screwgun)
5. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith and Suzanne Ciani – FRKWAYS Vol 13: Sunergy (RVNG Intl)
6. Causa Sui – Return To Sky (El Paraiso)
7. Pangaea – In Drum Play (Hessle Audio)
8. Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool (XL)
9. DVA [HI:EMOTIONS] – Notu_Ironlu (Hyperdub)
10. Kaytranada – 99.9 (XL)

 11-50

11. Pet Shop Boys – Super (X2)
12. Vince Staples – Prima Donna EP (Def Jam)
13. Weaves – Weaves (Buzz)
14. Parquet Courts – Human Performance (Matador)
15. Dinosaur Jr – Give A Glimpse Of What Yr Not (Jagjaguwar)
16. Matmos – Ultimate Care II (Thrill Jockey)
17. Gucci Mane – Everybody Looking (Atlantic)
18. *Purling Hiss – High Bias (Drag City)
19. A Tribe Called Red – We Are The Halluci Nation (Pirates Blend)
20. *Useless Eaters – Relaxing Death (Castle Face)
21. The Gaslamp Killer – Instrumentalepathy (Gaslamp Killer Music)
22. The 1975 – I Like It When You Sleep, For You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware Of It (Dirty Hit/Interscope/Polydor/Vagrant)
23. Skepta – Konnichiwa (Boy Better Know)
24. Bardo Pond feat Guru Guru and Acid Mothers Temple – Acid Guru Pond (Fire)
25. Car Seat Headrest – Teens Of Denial (Matador)
26. A Tribe Called Quest – We Got It From Here… Thank You For Your Service (Epic/Sony)
27. Kenny Barron – Book Of Intuition (Impulse/Universal)
28. Poirier – Migration (Nice Up!)
29. Hieroglyphic Being And The Configurative Or Modular Me Trio – Cosmic Bebop (Mathematics)
30. Camera – Phantom of Liberty (Bureau B)
31. Rihanna – Anti (Def Jam)
32. The Field – The Follower (Kompakt)
33. Trevino – Front (C Birdie)
34. Marquis Hawkes – Social Housing (Houndstooth)
35. Warpaint – Heads Up (XL)
36. *Fp-oner – 6 (Mule Musiq)
37. Lone – Levitate (R&S)
38. *Lawrence – Yoyogi Park (Mule Musiq)
39. Black Milk and Nat Turner – The Rebellion Sessions (Computer Ugly)
40. Pye Corner Audio – Stasis (Ghost Box)
41. Africaine 808 – Basar (Golf Channel)
42. *Andrew Cyrille – The Declaration of Musical Independence (ECM)
43. Dr. Lonnie Smith – Evolution (Blue Note)
44. Jakob Skott – All The Colours of the Dust (El Paraiso)
45. Dynamis – Distance (Tectonic)
46. Gerry Read – Chubby Cheeks (Timetable)
47. Solange – A Seat At The Table (Columbia/Sony)
48. Steve Haushcildt – Strands (Kranky)
49. Future – EVOL (Epic/Sony)
50. Prins Thomas – Principe Del Norte (Smalltown Supersound)

* = not on Spotify

New Mix: In Country

deemo-incountry

Post-Polaris, I’ve been pretty occupied with some family stuff, so the writing is naturally sparse. As is the listening, I must confess – aside from a few standouts, my year-end list will be tilted towards the beginning of the year I think. But! Mixing is always a bit of relief from what ails, hence this one. Turn it up and enjoy.

Click here to download from Mediafire

Deemo – In Country by Deemo on Mixcloud

 

1. Kowton – On Repeat – On Repeat / Holding Patterns (Livity Sounds)
2. Martyn – Ahmadiya – Falling For You (Ostgut Ton)
3. Alex Coulton – Concealed Weapon – Hand to Hand Combat / Concealed Weapon (Tempa)
4. Ipman – Technicolour – Depatterning (Tectonic)
5. Nomine – Zen Force – Inside Nomine (Tempa)
6. AFX – umil 25-01 – umil 25-01 (Warp)
7. Chip feat. D Double E & Jammer – School of Grime – School of Grime (Cash Motto)
8. J*me – Test Me – Integrity> (Boy Better Know)
9. Novelist x Mumdance – Shook – 1 Sec (XL)
10. Zomby – Bloom – Let’s Jam!! 2 (XL)
11. Faze Miyake – Yung Sneyga – Faze Miyake (Rinse)
12. Rabit – Black Gates – Communion (Tri Angle)
13. Royal T – Shotta (Kahn & Neek Remix) – Shotta (Remixes) (Butterz)
14. Wiley – Send Me The Riddim – Send Me The Riddim (self-released)
15. Jammz – Final Warning – Final Warning (Local Action)
16. Kelela – Gomenasai – Hallucinogen (Warp/Cherry Coffee)
17. Kode9 – Void – Nothing (Hyperdub)

Mixed Oct. 24, 2015 for a-void.ca by Dave Morris (deemo)

Grime ain’t dead: Jammer

Jammer

Living The Dream
(Boy Betta Know)

Jammer - Living The Dream cover

Everyone’s shocked that grime hangs on, but the first wave of MCs stay hungry regardless of whether their pop forays succeed (Dizzee & Wiley) or fizzle. Case in point, Jammer returns three years after his polished yet strong Big Dada outing Jahmanji with Living The Dream, a record as gritty as anything you’d find on a bootleg DVD sold out the back of a van. There’s no Toddla T-produced throwback rave single on here; instead the album opens with a confession that all is not well in Jammer land: “I was in court on New Year’s eve and wouldn’t even give me bail … and I know a lot of reckless things made me break up with my girl / all the drugs and drink didn’t really go down too well… the labels didn’t wanna help me, I had to go out and do it myself,” an’ ting. The whole disc is full of defiance and bragging about conquests in rugged double-time flows, delivering the unfiltered street talk and explosive mix of ambition/desperation that American rap either can’t or won’t exhibit anymore.

It’s also much more varied than I’m making it sound; “Declined” is a great concept for a diss track about the singular embarrassment of watching someone get their credit card turned down, “On The Ball Pt. 2” is full of playfully pithy then-and-now rhymes worthy of Gucci Mane and “Big Man” is the four-on-the-floor posse cut with enough energy and bristling competition for the best verse between old pals Viper, JME, Flow Dan et al that, had it been on Jahmanji, might have turned Jammer’s best-promoted album into a hit. (Admittedly, the bassline was already a hit for Skepta when it was 2006’s “Duppy.”) But don’t cry Jammer for, because apparently he’ll be hanging in there anyway, chart success be damned. No sell out.