New mix: Maps

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Click here to download from Mediafire

The Polaris-ization of my listening time has almost come to a close, which means hopefully more posts on this here blog. So many great records to gab about this year – Pixelord, Kamasi Washington, Earl Sweatshirt among them. In the meantime, you have this mix, which will sound nice – okay, vaguely threatening, but still fun – coming out of your subwoofer. Enjoy.

Mixed May 15, 2015 in Toronto for a-void.ca by Dave Morris a.k.a. Deemo

Deemo – Maps by Deemo on Mixcloud

1. Dubspeeka & Visionz – Floorshow – Floorshow (Dext)
2. Salva – Move Dat Doh – $$$ SECRET STASH $$$ (unreleased)
3. Wen – Backdraft – Finesse (Tectonic)
4. Peverelist & Hodge – What Your Heart Knows – 21 Versions / What Your Heart Knows (Livity Sound)
5. Kelela – Keep It Cool (prod. Jam City) – 14 Tracks: Compute: Soul (Beatport)
6. Peverelist – Roll with the Punches – Roll with the Punches / Die Brücke (Punch Drunk)
7. Arovane – Il_Eth – Aarlenpeers EP (Touchin Bass)
8. Model 500 – Electric Night – Digital Solutions (Metroplex)
9. Cristian Vogel – Spectral Jack Climes – Werkschau03 (Shitkatapult)
10. Shackleton – Cast The Die – Deliverance Series No. 2 (Woe To The Septic Heart)
11. S-Type – Fire (feat. Yung Gud) – SV8 (LuckyMe)
12. Future – Coupe – Adult Swim Singles Program 2014 (Adult Swim)
13. Freddie Gibbs – White Range – Pronto – EP (ESGN)
14. Lee Bannon – The Muse – Cope (Chillectro)
15. Mike Gao – Thirst (feat. Mr. Carmack) – Migamo (Alpha Pup)
16. Aby Ngana Diop – Michael Ozone’s Liital Rhythm – Aby Ngana Diop Remixes (Awesome Tapes From Africa)
17. Ras G & The Koreatown Oddity – 5 Chuckles – 5 Chuckles (Leaving Records)
18. DJ Clent – Let’s Get High – Last Bus to Lake Park (Duck N Cover)
19. Zed Bias – Chokehold – Couch Life (81)
20. Jamie xx – Gosh – In Colour (Preview White Label)
21. Bok Bok & Sweyn Jupiter – Papaya Lipgloss (Club Mix) – Papaya Lipgloss (Night Slugs)

Rapidly aging reviews: Jam City, Mike Gao, Pearson Sound

Posting is light around here while I plough through Polaris Music Prize listening obligations, but please accept these slightly outdated reviews for now, plus a mix I just finished last night that I will put up this week. I love you and want you to be happy. – Deemo

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Jam City
Dream A Garden
Night Slugs

File this under records I listened to at least 10 times and can’t remember a lick of after the fact. I will rep Night Slugs all day and have plenty of Jam City jawns in my virtual crates but the plot was lost somewhere around track three, where the shoegazey vocals and 80s-lite-funk-gone-melancholy congealed into an image as featureless as a Guy Fawkes anonymous mask. Not ruling out a monster second act but the first had me striding purposefully toward the bar long before the curtain fell.

 

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Mike Gao
Migamo
Geotic

This is probably a reflection of my current workout regime, but my gym is increasingly making me think of Guantanamo. If pushup planks didn’t come with the tagline “from the people who brought you waterboarding” I might not feel quite so strongly that today’s R&B is part of a campaign to break my will and leave me moist and quivering on a rubber mat. But here we are. Someone switched the station today to roots reggae towards the end of my last set and I was too weak to believe it was real. Must be a plot to get me when my guard is down, and then bam, hit me with the new Young Thug. Fin.

I felt a bit the same when I heard the new Mike Gao sandwiched between some tuneless post-grime single (seriously, what is plaguing the scene right now, it’s like mid-00s Autechre all over again) and a fourth-rate J Cole type (shudders). It’s a trap! But no, don’t Ackbar too soon. Geotic really is a whole album full of greasy neo-soulquarian beats and back-to-the-futuristic talk box-rocking prog synthism. There’s a hint of trap in the gothic piano basslines of Red Car and the sputtering snares and hats of So Hard To Be Free. But for the most part this is more of the glorious boom bap future that the early Low End Theory cats seemed to promise us when they hit the underground in the late 00s.

 

 

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Pearson Sound
Pearson Sound
Hessle Audio

Manny Farber’s white elephant art vs termite art theory is pretty handy when talking about pop music, though the size issue – white elephant art tends to overwhelm with presence but doesnt stand up to scrutiny like termite art’s rich details on the edges of the work – is figurative, not literal. When I first heard Mumdance and Logos’ Proto, and not long after, Pearson Sound’s self titled disc, I was mostly baffled at how dry and inhuman my favourite producers were becoming. Hoping for an actual musical note, never mind a melody, was like mustering the effort to scale a series of sand dunes in hopes of finding an oasis next to one of them. I like drums as much as the next dance geek but some of this stuff sounds like it could have been made using Einsturzende Neubauten’s power tools.

Repeated exposure made me enough of a fan of Proto that I decided to pick up the vinyl, and when I got back to my decks and turned my subwoofer to a suitable setting – a rare indulgence, out of respect for the neighbours – I was floored. But also suspicious, which brings me back to Farber. Surely anything that requires that kind of fidelity to impress has to be missing something in the creativity department? Does it mark this stuff out as middle-aged-stereo-equipment-salesman-bait, the dance equivalent of a Pat Metheny mid-80s sonic abortion? Am I going to have to grow a ponytail?

All is not lost, I think. The reality is that dance music was always meant to be heard in a club, on a big, nasty system that puts the kick drum all up in your sternum like a boxer jabbing away, and if that as a home listening requirement is not punk rock, well. Both Proto and Pearson Sound sound perfectly huge on decent headphones and speakers, but something is plainly missing until you break out the big hardware.

Pearson Sound in particular is an odd beast on mediocre headphones like mine. Subtle shifts in texture, plus a general lack of a sense of the stereo field leaves the high synth moan in ‘Crank Call’ flat and repetitive; on a good system, it wobbles and sways with every iteration. Cheap ear buds flatten the dynamic shifts that the arrangement in ‘Russet’ is carefully tailored to unveil. Pushed by speaker cones out into the air, it’s masterful.

A steady diet of these discernible yet austere pleasures would quickly become unpalatable. But then, so would any other form of extreme minimalism – drone, ambient, Neu!, colour field painting, etc. Pearson Sound has grit and detail, shadow and light, and play, its particular mixture of which is singularly great. But the emphasis is on ‘singular’.

 

New Mix: Paintbox

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When it comes to labels making four on the floor tunes, I play favourites. Lot of stalwarts of my digital crates here – Kompakt, obviously, Hyperdub, Get Physical, M_nus – and a few relatively new entrants like Black Acre and Aus Music, neither of which I would dare sleep on. PS: this mix is gym-tested-and-approved.

Click here to download from Mediafire

1. Dan Shake – Traders II (feat. Rennie Foster) – Out of Sight (Black Acre)
2. Saschienne – The Era Of The Leopard – Golden Prints (Kompakt)
3. Weval – Easier – Easier (Kompakt)
4. Phon.o – Der Lude – Werkschau03 (Shitkatapult)
5. Bwana – Flute Dreams – Flute Dreams (Aus Music)
6. Sascha Funke & Haito Gopfrich – Disconnected (Sascha Funke Mix) – Disconnected (Boxer)
7. Sebastian Mullaert & Patrick Siech – Genome (Original Mix) – Genome I (M_nus)
8. Gerry Read – Cosmoid – 3,2,1 (Aus Music)
9. Voigt & Voigt – Supertrip – Speicher 82 (Kompakt)
10. Chelonis R. Jones – Le bateau ivre (Booka Shade remix) – Get Physical #BeatPortDecade Deep House (Get Physical)
11. DJ Pierre – What Is House Muzik (DJ T. Remix) – What Is House Muzik
12. Duke Dumont – The Giver – EP 1 (Virgin EMI)
13. Chemotex – Snake Inside My Leg – Snake Inside My Leg (The Trilogy Tapes)
14. Gingy & Bordello – All Day – Warehouse Series Compilation (Turbo)
15. Kode9 – Oh – Hyperdub 10.4 (Hyperdub)
16. Ricardo Villalobos – Voodog Pt. 1 – Voodog (Pressure Traxx)
17. Hysterics – Empty – Hysterics EP (Night Slugs)

Deemo – Paintbox by Deemo on Mixcloud

 

Mixed on Feb 14, 2015 by Dave Morris a.k.a. Deemo

Mix: Left and Right

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So many total face-melters here. Both tracks with Riko make the case that he might be the U.K.’s most ruffneck MC. Repping the local scene with Shi Wisdom, who really ought to have been on the Polaris long list (apparently the album was like two minutes too short). Stray, who I didn’t know previously, was a nice surprise – Exit Records holding it down. And the footwork flip of “Luck of Luchini” was urgent and necessary. RIP DJ Rashad, gone too soon.

Click here to download from Mediafire

Deemo – Left and Right by Deemo on Mixcloud

  1. Loops Haunt  – IIVA – Exits (Black Acre)
  2. Bok Bok – Howard  – Your Charizmatic Self EP (Night Slugs)
  3. Kowton – Jam01 (Beneath Remix) – Livity (Ghost-202 Remix) / Jam01 (Beneath Remix) (Livity Sound)
  4. Jacques Greene – No Excuse (Yung Gud Remix) – Phantom Vibrate Remixes (LuckyMe)
  5. Martyn – Forgiveness Step 3 – Forgiveness EP (Ninja Tune)
  6. Wen – Play Your Corner (feat. Riko) – Signals (Keysound)
  7. Durban – Chimes  – Chimes (Lit City Trax)
  8. Footsie – Tekky – King Original Vol 3 (Braindead Ent)
  9. Shi Wisdom – Fly Too – Stranger Things Have Happened (bandcamp)
  10. Heterotic – Boxes – Weird Drift (Planet Mu)
  11. VesperTown – Tuff Luv – Kaleidoscope (Donky Pitch)
  12. Jailo x Ganz – Casino Royale – Turquoise (Terrorhythm)
  13. Visionist – First Love – I’m Fine (Part II) (Lit City Trax)
  14. Stray – Fragile – Chatterbox EP (Exit)
  15. Nomine – Zen Circle – Enma (Tempa)
  16. Terror Danjah feat. Riko – Dark Crawler – Hyperdub 10.1 (Hyperdub)
  17. Ital Tek – Control – Control (Planet Mu)
  18. Traxman – Your Just Movin – Da Mind Of Traxman Vol 2 (Planet Mu)
  19. DJ Rashad x DJ Spinn x Taso – Luchini VIP – Teklife Till Tha Next Life Vol. 1 (Teklife)
  20. Dibia$e – Hold It Down – Schematiks (10thirty Records)
  21. DAMH – Black Night (DJ Koze Remix) – Black Night (Kompakt)
  22. J Dilla – Here We Go Again – Lost Tapes Reels + More (Mahogani)

Mixed June 7 2014 for a-void.ca by Deemo a.k.a. Dave Morris

Top 10 Albums of 2013 so far

Since it’s the long weekend and people will be reflecting, as well as pondering the few summer weeks we’ve got left, it’s a good time to proffer my choices for the 10 best albums of the year so far. I blurbed the first five, and offer links and clips for the bottom five, lest this turn into a 3,000 word post, but if you want more opinions (as if there were a shortage!), hit me up on Twitter. On with the show…

1. A$AP Rocky – Long Live A$AP (Columbia)

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The moment when “trap” became a thing was bewildering. Being a person who is not young, I remember the sniffy attitudes critics took toward the instrumental hip-hop coming out on Ninja Tune and Mo Wax back in the day. A lot of that stuff has held up about as well as the rest of what was being played on college radio, which is to say it hasn’t (Pizzicato Five, where are you). Trap is basically the same thing – a deracinated, feeble imitation defined by what it can never be – and quite a lot of it will be forgotten. Strike the alt-hop thing from the history books, though, and we wouldn’t have DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing or Dr. Octagon’s Octagonecologist, two of the most inspired albums of the 90s. And while I’m sure the time is not long before woozy, cotton-swab-muffled ambient sounds and skittering hi hats make me want to put a pillow over my face, Long Live A$AP is the disc that will be my “yeah, but what about” exception to the rule.

What I love about A$AP Rocky, first and foremost, is that his persona is a kind of hyper-aggressive, hyper defensive stance designed to scare you worse than the average thug does (there’s no storytelling or boasts of arms-length mafia style hits, he’s going to kill you and your family – “hit yo children with that Smith an…”) while simultaneously daring you to call him on his arguably effeminate displays (“I be that pretty motherfucker,” one of about a dozen boasts about his looks and his fashion sense; there’s also his drug dependence issues, breaking the dealers-versus-fiends dichotomy). There’s never any question of whether he’s vicious enough, though. Amorality and narcissistic disconnection are his trump cards, the tattoo across his chest saying he’s got nothing to lose. The way he spits is its own kind of threat – other rappers make a point of sounding laid back and magisterial, but Rocky is all about the bark. “My whip white but my top black / and my bitch white but my cock black” is as aggressive as one of Jay’s best put-downs, and delivered with a syncopated flow that makes you linger over every consonant. We can hear it; all of him is consistent, and sharp; an ice pick aimed at your ribcage and a forceful grip on your girl.

As a pure lyricist, he’s no Nas. He’s more of a Pimp C, full of caustic wit and contempt, his diction as much a part of his appeal as his wordplay. Some critics find that leaves his record sounding thin, but personally, I’ll take a great actor over a decent poet any day. And if he is an actor, he’s a damn convincing one. If he ain’t smoother and scarier than Vincent Price, he’s the closest one.

Read my Globe and Mail review here.



2. Jeremiah Jae and Oliver the 2nd – RawHyde (Bandcamp, click here to buy)

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Built on dialogue samples from the old wild west TV show, Rawhyde is less of a concept album than a platform for Jeremiah Jae and Oliver 2nd to sling some rock-hard tough guy rhymes. The MCs compliment each other nicely; Oliver’s a nice battle rapper who makes the most of the concept (“I’m Wyatt Earp, twistin wild purp”) while Jeremiah Jae is his spaced-out comrade in arms. Even when mostly just sticking to the script, Jae’s rhymes are evocative:

The street desolate, the heat present
on the hip of the citizen
Police heist on the bank with your women friend
Rank next to Dillinger
Ace on the cylinders

And the dusty boom-bap beats have a casual, Madlib-esque quality that makes this perfect for just riding around town on whatever steed you choose. Extra points for Jae’s CanCon shout-out: “My shit gravy like poutine.”

3. The-Dream – IV Play (Def Jam/Universal)

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“I make love to my girls / I get high with my n******.” That chorus right there is basically The-Dream’s manifesto, and IV Play is evenly split between the kind of stuff you can play when your girl is around, and the kind of stuff you better have headphones for (or jam with your boys in your car). But it works. After briefly veering too far toward The Weeknd / illangelo territory with his 1977 album, IV Play is a bit of an aesthetic retrenchment towards 00s R&B. As an artistic statement, though, IV Play might be his best solo work yet, from the breathless lust of the title track or “Pussy” to the romantic duet with Kelly Rowland “Where Have You Been,” and the unexpected but wholly appreciated blues turn with Gary Clark Jr, “Too Early.”

4. Bitchin Bajas – Krausened (Permanent)

12 Jacket (3mm Spine) [GDOB-30H3-007}

Bitchin Bajas is Cooper Crain of the solid four-piece Cave and Dan Quinlivan of the criminally underrated Mahjongg, and they have a new album, Bitchitronics. I’ve only listened to it once but so far, so excellent; that said, I doubt that drone-oriented LP is  going to supplant this more obviously Krautrock-influenced EP, Krausened. That’s not a slam; I can certainly understand why a band wouldn’t want to remake the same thing, and it’s pretty hard to vary the motorik beat-plus-floaty-keyboard template that Neu pioneered. The amazing thing about Krausened is that Crain and Quinlivan nail the template while still making it their own. Sure, that’s the “Hallogallo” drum pattern the drum machine is playing, but there’s also a cheeky bossa nova rhythm going on, while the synths shimmer kaleidoscopically in the background. And it’s telling that, when the beat comes in or drops out, it’s not as though the track gets any less hypnotic. Maybe Bitchitronics will get on this list after I’ve let it sink in, but for the moment Krausened is Bitchin Bajas’ most intense, deftly controlled and mesmerizing achievement.

5. Justin Timberlake – 20/20 Experience (RCA/Sony)

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I haven’t thoroughly checked out the Robin Thicke disc either, though Blurred Lines is much more chart ready than anything on Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 Experience. I doubt, however, that Thicke’s album is as ambitious as JT’s, or as successful in its aims, whatever the critics are saying. 20/20’s not a jaw-dropper the way Justifed was, nor does it have the hit potential of FutureSex/LoveSounds, but it’s definitely more defined by risk-taking. There’s no SexyBack Part Deux here, just a bunch of soulful extended jams – none of them shorter than 4:39 – with a real disco-era Motown/Tamla vibe. There’s Smokey here, a little Eddie Kendricks, some even more discotastic MJ than even “Rock Your Body”, a smidge of Shuggie Otis perhaps. But tunes like the gloriously slick “Spaceship Coupe” or the grown-up horn hits of “Suit and Tie,” to me, bring to mind Marvin Gaye circa Midnight Love, an album whose time has come. 20/20 plays around with all kinds of sounds that few other artists would touch, mostly because they’d be afraid to make something so radio-unfriendly, even something as funky as this. It’s the record I would not have expected or even hoped for JT to make, and a sweeter surprise for it.

6. Jay-Z – Magna Carta Holy Grail (Roc Nation/Universal)

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Hov Is Watchin: A look at Magna Carta Holy Grail

7. Matias Aguayo – The Visitor (Comeme)

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One to watch: Matias Aguayo

8. A Tribe Called Red – Nation II Nation (Tribal Rhythms)

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9. VA: Night Slugs Allstars Volume 2 (Night Slugs)

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10. Kobo Town – Jumbie In The Jukebox (Cumbancha)

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Kobo Town and your best bets for Caribana weekend