There’s been plenty of Frank Ocean flotsam this year, from long-lost guide tracks to decaying juvenilia, but ‘Pyramids’ hits like a tidal wave. This 10-minute opus kicks off with futureshocked R&B, moves into a drowsy second act, and dissolves into an ambient coda to finish. Like those pyramids, it’s ambitious, large-scale, and we wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out aliens built it all along.
‘BEBO NE KOMO’ (AUNTIE FLO REWORK)
Ecstatic highlife re-rub Ghana’s Atakoru Manu by Glaswegian afro-enthusiast Auntie Flo, featured on JD Twitch’s Autonomous Africa Vol.1 EP.
Ink’s been spilled all over the shop about rap’s current fascination with darker shades and impressionistic brushstrokes, but what hip-hop track this year has sounded quite as Gothic as ’88’? What with all the organ trills, machine gun rattles and mangled giggles, The-Drum’s instrumental shares as much with The Haxan Cloak as it does with Clams Casino. Startlingly assured stuff from a very young, very promising wee talent.
‘CAIRO IS A HAUNTED CITY’
(BED OF NAILS)
Following recent releases on Type and Blackest Ever Black, not to mention a stack of tapes on his own Hospital Productions label, Dominick Fernow has started a new imprint, Bed Of Nails, dedicated to his work as Vatican Shadow. Its first 12″ offering is killer, with a particular stand-out in ‘Cairo Is A Haunted City’ – which sounds like Muslimgauze going head to head with Polygon Window-era Richard D. James or Richie Hawtin’s FUSE. That good.
The particoloured producer connects up with Fatima for a stuttering, silly pop number. ‘Phoneline’ sounds like a Girls Aloud guide track running on a battered Atari, and it’s equal parts catchy and glitchy. FunkinEven’s music is sometimes a little too clever-clever, but ‘Phoneline’ is straight-up ingenious.
The latest in a succession of dynamite Life Is Good pre-releases, ‘Accident Murderers’ shows Nas on vintage form. The Queensbridge rapper takes aim at hoodlums who have the kills but lack the guts – “You ain’t mean to murk him/You’re gun’s a virgin” – and gets assistance from a spirited Rick Ross in the process. No I.D.’s instrumental is twinkly, bombastic fare. Fingers crossed this isn’t a fluke.
‘HE SAID I SAID’
The opening track from Cooly G’s terrific Playin’ Me album, and emblematic of its drifting, dub-infused feel. The drums here play an almost textural role, working with reverbed guitar licks, pensive vocals and vapour trails of synth to convey an exquisite feeling of urban ennui.
KAHN & NEEK
Former FACT mixer and Bristol resident Kahn has been making waves since last year, releasing two storming singles on Punch Drunk (‘Like We Used To; ‘Illy’) and, along with his crew Young Echo, generally receiving hype all over the place. ‘Percy’, a collaboration with Neek, feels like it took about a tenth of the time of past Kahn singles to produce, and that also feels like the point: it’s lean, mean grime, that openly owes to / borrows from ‘Pulse X’, ‘Stomp’ and other classics of the genre, and samples Roll Deep MC Flowdan as well as Young Dot. Fans of recent grime-indebted EPs from Slackk and Bok Bok (Raw Missions and Southside, respectively) should check this out.
A Neptunes-esque lead melody, huge 808 kicks and tons of gunshots – this is hip-hop minimalism done right. So right, in fact, that we’d probably take it over the also-excellent TNGHT EP. With Melé working with the likes of Kano, Ghetto and others we probably can’t mention yet, we can’t wait to see who ends up riding this.
‘WINGS’ (FLOATING POINTS REMIX)
Obviously Sam Shepherd is his own man, but there’s plenty of comparisons to be made between him and Four Tet at this point – you know, their love of organic sounds in traditionally electronic contexts, their love of vinyl, the way they DJ – and on Floating Points’ gorgeous, patient remix of The Invisible’s ‘Wings’, we’re reminded of classic Hebden in a big way.