This month for me has mostly been about FaltyDL and his two albums for Planet Mu, Bravery and Love is a Liability.
I don’t want to get too in depth about Falty’s work here, as I’m in the process of interviewing him for a full FACT feature, but I kind of slept on Love is a Liability when it first came out. I was much more into the ‘To London’ 12″ on Ramp, which is great, don’t get me wrong, but there’s a depth and a longing to Love that really sets it apart. I love the way it sounds like a garage and jungle head from New York who’s also into Luke Vibert and uZiq making a 2step album on Planet Mu should sound, and I love the way that although the music Falty makes is heavily indebted to UK dance culture, there’s also something indescribably New York about it: tracks like ‘Dionysis’ and obviously ‘To New York’ are like these slick, lens-flared conveyer belt rides through a set-up of skyscrapers that disappear into the clouds. There’s a swank to it that you never really get from dance music albums that come from London, because London can’t do swank: it can do swish, and swagger, but not swank. You have to be American really.
Anyway, there’s a lot of chat about Bravery, the forthcoming FaltyDL mini-album on Planet Mu, being even better. I’m not sure yet; I’ve probably listened to it more than Love is a Liability and I don’t quite revere it in the same way, but it is really good and I don’t think I’ve got the full picture yet. It’s a lot more analogy in production, quite dusty like some of the recent Mount Kimbie EP (I don’t think it’s just the quality of my promo) and a lot more Burial. In fact, ‘Mother Beam’ sounds like you might expect Burial to sound in an imaginary world where he’d been born twelve years later and grown up worshipping Hudson Mohawke and Rustie. It’s maybe more varied than Love; ‘Discant’ is almost Drexciyan, where as ‘Bravery’ could be Joker in black and white. Like I say, I need to get my head around it more, but both these releases are very good, and I should have recommended the former a long, long time ago. Right, now that’s done we can get on with the new stuff.
So Neil Landstrumm has a new album out. Actually, it’s another mini-album (there’s a lot of those kicking around, aren’t there? I don’t know who I blame, possibly the internet), called Bambaataa Eats His Breakfast, and it’s a bit like the last one but not as good. I feel like a dick saying that, because I proper love Neil Landstrumm, I think his approach to music, and the way he talks about music is brilliant. Seriously, I once interviewed him and you’ve never seen one man act more like a scared girl when talking to him about Funky – I said something about Roska, he thought I said Rusko, there was confusion and I completely wigged the fuck out and hurriedly changed the subject rather than repeating myself like a real man. Total awestruck business.
But really, I’m not so into this. Lord for £39, his last album, sounded brilliant but you could definitely criticise the tracks for having something missing: they were a bit too clinical in the way you had this UK techno God turning his hand to 8-bit-inspired dubstep type stuff and beating all the youngsters at their own game. Kiran Sande said in his column at the time that you got that same vibe that you often get from hip-hop instrumental albums, and that applies even more so to Bambaataa. Landstrumm is an exceptional musician, and in terms of their sonic weight these tracks are something else at points, but I just don’t think they have the emotional weight – where a track gets a lot of its presence from, when all’s said and done – to match it. At the risk of sounding like a total hippie, I’m hearing them but I’m not feeling them.
Best grime label in the world by default, No Hats No Hoods, have three releases out this month. The long-delayed ‘Next Hype’ remixes 12″ came out, sporting a pretty poor mix by Plastician, a perfectly good one by DVA and a really good one by Brackles. I’m sure sensible people are bored of ‘Next Hype’ by now, but I’m simple enough to still not really enjoy a night out unless it’s played in some form, so I’m all over it being out on vinyl. It’s probably the best song grime’s produced since ‘Switching Songs Pt 2’ or ‘Nightbus Dubplate’ or whatever, and I’m not sure there’s been a track since ‘I Luv U’ that’s managed to be both this sonically violent and this singable. It’s just a (perfectly understandable) shame that ‘Nextaconda’, the Untold blend, will never come out.
‘The Message is Love’ remixes package is out on digital on Monday, the premise being that at this time last year – i.e. Carnival – the label put out the original ‘Message is Love‘, which was the biggest tune of the festival. Played by Sinden, Diplo et al, it was a grime/soca hybrid with absurd (in a good – no, great – way) vocals by Jammer and Badness and one of the most over the top breakdowns of all time. “Please don’t push me/I want nookie” should have become the new “love you like a fat kid loves cake” amongst young urban lovers, but then The Notebook or some shit came out and stole its thunder. Anyway, enough about the original, the remixes here come from Starkey, Heatwave, L-Vis 1990, Mumdance and Rude Kid, all of whom hold their own, but for me it’s Mumdance who excels: his Tropical 8-Bar mix is like a bunch of squeezed out synth sounds having a fight on a bouncy castle with whistles and comedy bells. To be honest, Starkey’s is a bit more inventive but none of that matters when you’re bouncing around Notting Hill with a whistle in your mouth.
The third NHNH release to drop this month is the label’s first CD, compiled and mixed by Dirty Canvas resident DJ Magic, who’s never got the same plaudits as say, Spyro or Maximum, but has been one of my personal favourite DJs in the scene for years now. His CD has been in the pipeline for ages; I got Magic to do a FACT mix about two years ago now, and it was supposed to be a prelude to this CD back then. There’s been barcode issues and all sorts, but now it’s out and it’s really good. You can tell it’s been made over a couple of years: there’s a lot of tunes (like Skepta and Flowdan’s ’21 Seconds’ vocal) that were really fresh at the time but now everybody’s heard, but out of all the tracks here there’s probably a maximum of three that I don’t like, it’s mixed hard and fast like this stuff ought to be, and one of the exclusives is Griminal and Lil Nasty MCing over Alias’ ‘Gladiator’. You can’t really say fairer than that.
You can listen to fifteen minutes of the CD here; I dropped Magic a line to ask him about it.
Tell us about the CD. I swear we were talking about it a couple of years ago, how comes it took so long? And how’s the response been so far?
“No Hats No Hoods Edition One is a mixture of 15 exclusive tracks and freestyles from the likes of Chipmunk, Griminal, Ice Kid along with some classic tracks people might have forgotten about and the latest tracks from everyone in the scene, such as Wiley, Ghetto and Durrty Goodz. I’ve been putting it together on and off over about year or two now, starting from when I was going guest mixes on Galaxy Radio and wanted to have some fresh content. I wasn’t in a rush to get it done as I wanted to make sure everything was done right, from the photography to the music, I was also concentrating on building the label and nights to a level where it would make sense to have a CD release and now felt like the right time.
“The response from people has been really positive as I think there hasn’t been a CD like it for quite a while and not many grime DJs are putting out CDs. I think with lots of grime artists now doing pop songs a lot of people wanted to hear a solid grime CD. When I put it together I wanted it to be a true reflection of who was really relevant and deserved people’s attention – it can be frustrating as a grime DJ sometimes as the best MCs don’t always vocal the best beats, so I wanted to put some of my favourite MCs on beats that would suit them.”
What else have you got planned for the label in terms of releases, remixes, etc?
“We just shot a video for Rude Kid – ‘Jack Daniels’ today so look out for that, we are also shooting a video for Tempa T – ‘Boy Off da Ting’. On the vinyl side there’s EPs from a new producer called Royal T which has remixes from Martin Kemp, Bok Bok and Silencer, and Rude Kid’s second EP. Oh and look out for the new black Pars R Us t-shirts.”
You said recently that what grime MCs need is more personality and less focus on being technical – I reckon that’s why a lot of people have fallen out of love with grime a bit in the last couple of years. Who do you see taking the lead of Temps, Jammer, Badness et al and bringing that to grime MCing?
“I think Rinse is unique, he brings something different to the table when he MCs. There’s also an MC from West London called Scruface who’s got a unique style. I think the growth of Funky will give rise to more MCs trying different styles and flows, bringing more personality to the mic.”
What’s happening with Dirty Canvas?
“We’re rolling it out on tour across London, Bristol, Birmingham, Leeds, Glasgow and hopefully Brighton as well, which is just getting booked as we speak. All the details will be on the myspace as soon as everything’s confirmed. It’s hard to find a decent size venue in London now that we’ve grown so much without doing warehouse raves, which are a lot of hassle. We should have a new venue sorted in the next couple of weeks. Then we’re hosting Room 2 of Why Not this Friday at Scala, and doing a 16+ club night with Under the Radar at Matter on October 28, which should be amazing.”
What else has happened since the last installment of this column then? Zomby‘s mini-album for Ramp, One Foot Ahead of the Other, came out, but I think enough people have talked about that already, so I’ll be brief. It blew me away the first day I had it, but I haven’t revisited it as much as I thought I would. I do love Zomby’s recent direction though: it’s like you’re hearing actual transmissions from his skunked-out head, such is the minute sharpness of these tracks and their delicate, private nature. I think it works even better on his recent ‘Digital Flora’/’Digital Fauna’ 12″ for Brainmath and forthcoming ‘Tarantula’ on Hyperdub, and I think it’s going to produce a lot more of the year’s most unique, memorable music in the months to come.
There’s two 12″s forthcoming on Glagsow’s Stuff Records that I’m into: first, there’s a guy from Aberdeen called Offshore [above] who’s putting out a five-track 12″ of post-Jagz The Smack squashed hip-hop that I’d highly recommend – keep watching FACT for a future Daily Download from that. Then Ruaridh ‘The Village Orchestra’ Law, who’s already put out some of the year’s most enjoyable music, will continue his run of form with a 12″ EP titled Rooks. I think A-Side ‘Afanc’ remix is the better of the two tracks here, but there’s something really addictive about the super-broken ‘Dots and Hashes’ on the flip, which gets more and more jagged and squiggly throughout the courses track: a bit like the panic levels rising in a room as it floods with water.
And of course, by the time this column’s next installment comes around, a slightly special 12″ on Hot Flush will have come out. And you’ll have heard material from 2562’s new LP Unbalance, which sounded equally great in Blackmarket today. ‘Til then.
Current Top Ten:
01. Terror Danjah – Industry Standard Vol 4 (Planet Mu 12″)
02. Zomby – ‘Digital Flora’/’Digital Fauna’ (Brainmath 12″)
03. DJ Magic – No Hats No Hoods Edition 1 (No Hats No Hoods CD)
04. Shortstuff – ‘Relapse’ (Formant 12″)
05. FaltyDL – Bravery (forthcoming Planet Mu 2×12″)
06. Offshore – Offshore EP (Stuff 12″)
07. Tempa T – ‘Next Hype’ Remixes (No Hats No Hoods 12″)
08. Silverlink – ‘Message is Love’ Remixes (No Hats No Hoods 12″)
09. Joy Orbison – ‘Hyph Mngo’ (forthcoming Hotflush 12″)
10. 2562 – Unbalance (forthcoming Tectonic LP)