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Each week on the FACT Singles Club, a selection of our writers work their way through the new music of the week gone by.

With the way individual tracks are now consumed, the idea of what constitutes a single has shifted dramatically in the last half a decade, and its for this reason that the songs reviewed across the next pages are a combination of 12″ vinyl releases, mixtape cuts, Soundcloud uploads and more. Up this week, John Frusciante’s acid endeavours, GABI, Kaytranada and more.

Trey Songz – ‘Slow Motion’

William Skar: ‘Slow Motion’ is straight from the IKEA school of songwriting, prefab verses and choruses clunkily bolted together without much regard for the whole. Gorgeous hook but artlessly framed, like a hunk in a polyester Sunday suit. (6)

Son Raw: I’ll be real – I’m not entirely sure why I’m listening to this when there’s a Rihanna/Macca track to rip into or a Burial rave collage to dissect. Does Trey Songz have a fan base like that? Anyways, this has a massive hook and the slow/fast dynamic is kind of interesting. It feels less than the sum of its parts though: the idea was good but by the time it was ready for commercial radio it had all the edge buffed out of it by major label A&Ring. Hopefully there are a couple of Soundcloud remixers on the case to fix that already – I can see this working as a wifey riddim. (4)

Tayyab Amin: It’s not the sexiest, it’s not a standout or anything and the hook doesn’t really keep hold. But it does make for very delectable filler and I’d definitely throw it in the playlist. It’s pretty great while it lasts but as soon as it’s done you completely forget what was good about it. Which might resonate well with your Valentine’s Day. Or not. (6)

Mikey IQ Jones: For real: that fucking coffeeshop acoustic guitar sound needs to stop being used in R’n’B as a tool to evoke sensitivity and sincerity. I know I’m going to sound like an asshole for saying this, but do people really vibe to this on a regular basis? Furthermore, do they actually fuck to this? This is all pretty harmless and forgettable, and I dig the bubbly beats in the chorus, but the thought of even cuddling with someone while this plays, let alone having sex… it’s like taking a bath in vanilla extract. It’s gonna feel slimy and smell putrid, but some freak out there’s totally into it, so power to them. (4)

Brad Stabler: Note to the producer: you can’t fit a king-sized mattress onto a twin-sized dance floor. (3)


GABI – ‘Fleece’

Son Raw: It’s called ‘Fleece’ and it’s very soft so I think this song accomplishes what it sets out to do. Whether it needs nearly eight minutes to accomplish it is another story entirely. Ultimately, I can’t be too tough on this – it would like being angry with a flower. (6)

Miles Bowe: It has gotten increasingly exciting seeing Daniel Lopatin become so musically involved with the artists on his imprint. Between producing this and Autre Ne Veut, he’s turning into some kind of Borg-Phil Spector. But like Autre, everyone involved here is working towards showcasing the voice – which in this case is the operatic powerhouse Gabrielle Herbst. Herbst’s popped up last year with ‘Koo Koo’, which felt like a promise for something even greater. ‘Fleece’ fulfils that on the grandest of scales. (9)

Tayyab Amin: I really like the way this one swells and punctures like breaths through lungs. It feels far too grandiose for my little ears, harbouring the cumbersome demeanour one is led to associate with size. When the occasional glimpses of poignancy do shine through, they’re down to GABI’s voice, reaching for those moments like the apex of a weary stretch. (6)

William Skar: Oneohtrix Point Never and Elizabeth Fraser and Philip Glass and Julianna Barwick and Final Fantasy and Björk and Idina Menzel walk into a bar. Fun evening, but I couldn’t drink there all the time. (7)

Brad Stabler: Taking the loneliest bits of Linda Perhacs and somehow managing to get through to work within the backdrop of something like The Sinking of the Titanic isn’t exactly the most single-friendly template one could embark upon. This is hard to just jump into for a short chunk of time (even at seven minutes), and there’s a hefty amount of weight to Gabrielle Hearst’s voice. Maybe it’s just me, but like similar dirges from Tim Hecker and Juliana Barwick, this isn’t the kind of music that stands as tall without its parent album accompanying it. That said, all signs are pointing in a good direction. (6)

Mikey IQ Jones: I respect Herbst quite a bit; she’s definitely been a strong and promising voice in New York’s contempo experimental/avant music community, with talents that match her obvious ambitions. The two cuts so far from this album sound like a logical extension of the kind of wonderful art pop opera hybrids that Robert Ashley’s Lovely Music label were releasing throughout the 1980s. Hearing Herbst move from large-scale work to what seems like a more concerted effort to sculpt her compositional forms into something more intimate and miniature has accentuated the drama that was seemingly in short supply during her Bodiless opera. With any luck, Daniel Lopatin’s involvement will also help this record infiltrate the record collections of IDM/avant heads and folks who’d be less likely to pick this up otherwise; it’s a gorgeous gateway piece, and with any luck, the rest of the album will fulfill the singles’ promises. (8)


Trickfinger – ‘After Below’


Son Raw: I suppose The Chili Peppers are deeply uncool but I never had a problem with them back in the day. Did you know George Clinton produced one of their albums? It was pretty good. I think that was pre-Frusciante, mind. But I digress: this is acid by the numbers, no more no less. Ignore the detractors ready to pile on because it’s by a rawk guitarist, and ignore the confused masses suddenly exposed to the sound of a 303 for the first time… the truth is it just sits there. (6)

Tayyab AminI mean, if I didn’t know about the Frusciante thing I’d just think Trickfinger is the alias of a musician with a lame name and a very decent abillity to knock a tune out. ‘After Below’ isn’t bad, in fact it veers quite cosily into ‘good’ territories every so often. Unfortunately it’s also quite boring, and any significant merit it might bring is surely down to the creativity of whoever DJs with it. (5)

Mikey IQ Jones: I credit John Frusciante for fully stepping outside of his aesthetic bubble to try something new; he’s tinkered with synths and drum machines quite a lot over the years, but to hear him ditch his splatter-psych dude rock solo vibes to make some ambient acid… I can get with this, even at its most basic. It’s not gonna change the world, but let’s be honest here – it’s (hopefully) likely to get even more neophyte ears seeking out the “real” vintage shit when they want more, and that can only be a good thing. While this track wouldn’t knock me out in a blindfold test, I’d still enjoy it all the same. (6)

William Skar: I suspect Frusicante’s about to get hammered for dilettantism, and in his defence, his Trickfinger work suggests a) sincere intent and b) an ear for SAW-era atmospherics. But this still sounds like a demo of a demo of a demo, and one suspects Frusciante could do with fewer machines and more time to actually master his craft. (5)

Brad Stabler: I had to overcome two hurdles here: one, I have no love for the Chili Peppers, past or present, barring way back in the day when I was a budding young lad and didn’t know any better. Two, as Son Raw pointed out some weeks ago with Pearson Sound, any artist explaining their process is an automatic red flag that whatever is to follow isn’t going to be as interesting as the story behind it. So colour me surprised when the basic groove here held my attention, and the riffs (sorry, John) that wrapped around the pulse were not only interesting, but engaging, sticking around after the tune rode itself out. I quite like this one, even though I wish Frusciante had dug all the way in and explored what he’s developing over a longer running time. (7)

Kaytranada – ‘Drive Me Crazy’ (ft. Vic Mensa)

William Skar: Won’t drive you crazy, but pulls off an effective three-point turn on the forecourt of gently heightened enjoyment. Reminiscent of FlyLo before he wandered off into the noodlezone. (7)

Son Raw: Vic Mensa’s bars start off dangerously close to Talib Kweli level word stuffing, but he recovers nicely and that hook is perfect for Kaytra’s production. Beatwise, this somehow splits the difference between Montreal frost and California chill and does so with an electric guitar solo that actually makes sense. Finally, something out of my hometown that doesn’t deserve the Purity Ring treatment. (8)

Tayyab Amin: Mensa puts his mind to it and owns the track, though it sometimes feels like he has to drag the beat along with him. I dug the brief Eminem sample but I still can’t pin down what makes Kaytranada special. He’s like a walking beats library for cyphers and radio freestyles. Singles, though? Nah, I’m good. Power to Vic Mensa of course. (5)

Mikey IQ Jones: This is what I wish the Brainfeeder stuff sounded more like – it utilizes some sharp, instantly inviting and disorienting production flourishes, intertwines them with some proggy fusion touches, but keeps the anchor dropped and the kineticism intact. Mensa rides this beat like a champ; the contrast between his aggressive verses and the smooth chorus yields effective results, and I actually found myself willingly rewinding the cut a few times – not something I can say I’ve done with many Singles Club entries of late! (7)

Brad Stabler: February officially marks the beginning of Dilla Month, and it seems like Kaytranada is finally beginning to shed that influence in favor of a much more interesting direction. This is a good look – Dilla’s discography through The Shining is a masterpiece, but there’s no shortage of producers who are still trying to emulate it, and there’s no need to continuously toast it or wear its stamp so outwardly anymore. This is a more confident place for Kaytranada to be, especially with Vic Mensa in tow. Hopefully the two continue to push things further. (7)


M.E.S.H. – ‘Infra-Dawn’

Tayyab Amin: “Settling down to some M.E.S.H.” – Burial (8)

Brad Stabler: God, I love this dude, and not just because he’s on PAN, even though that would be usually be more than enough to give it top marks. M.E.S.H. has always made it a point to throw several things that would be just fine separated on a bill – grime, Jersey, Baltimore, early morning techno, for starters – and somehow get them to see eye to eye, even when his tunes are confusingly busy. What I never expected was what I got here: a beautiful mess of screwed vocal chops, short circuiting drums, and beautiful chord blasts that hold everything up. I’m dumbstruck here, people. (9)

William Skar: Not M.E.S.H’s most characterful release by any means, but it’s still an impressive feat to make a scattershot barrage of kicks and snares sound as soft as a lullaby. (7)

Mikey IQ Jones: After the Scythians EP boring me pretty hard, it’s nice to hear M.E.S.H. serrating his edges a bit and bringing some tension into this new music. I’m still not completely won over by this guy’s work, but I’m more intrigued now than I was last year; I love the aggression in the beat, and that textural slap that the snares throw at you as the gaseous ambiance wafts in the background. My main beef with this is that I just don’t remember the track once it stops. That’s a pretty big failure when you’re making instrumental beatwise tracks. (5)

Miles Bowe: The musical equivalent of laying on a bed of nails; cramming so many jagged, sharp edges together not a single one draws blood. While there’s nothing inherently special about making something so noisy and aggressive, ‘Infra-Dawn’ pushes into the red, and still the only thought when it’s over is how beautiful it is. It’s one hell of a balancing act. (8)

Son Raw: I didn’t board the M.E.S.H hype train when it left the station – his sound design is absolutely incredible but sometimes, it felt like that’s all there was to his debut. This feels more fully realized: it still throws in everything but the kitchen sink rhythmically and the textures still evoke hostile frozen worlds, but the structure is tighter, while still staying a few steps left of functional. Body-jacking mindfuckery of the highest level. (8)


Lapalux – ‘Closure’ (ft. Szjerdene)

Mikey IQ Jones: Ugh, these lyrics. Also, get the fuck out of here with your “imaginary visual experience;” you don’t need to justify sampling rainfall for atmosphere, you should be letting the music speak for itself. “That’s something that I really started to work into my music – the idea of creating imagery and characters, storyline, and emotion” – the moment you come at me with a “concept” about your project that needs to be discussed before the music’s out there, we’ve got problems. Again, this is perfectly harmless and inoffensive, but I’ll be damned if I need this in my life, and that’s a shame because I really enjoyed the first Lapalux album. (3)

Tayyab Amin: Lustmore sounds like it should be a Lustmord tribute album, rather than Bonobo-core. I can’t get with the synths that come in all bloated and off-puttingly extravagant, which is a shame because I know Lapalux is able to distil subtlety with aplomb – the strings and chords later on are testament to that. (5)

Son Raw: This will go down a treat the next time I rave too hard and need something to lull me  out of my hopped up stupor.  (6)

William Skar: I’m minded of the Masterchef invention test here: Lapalux had some superb ingredients to play with (jarring glissando strings, winking E.Piano figures, percussion à la Muslimgauze), and, perhaps rushed for time, cooked up a middling Sampha knock-off. I mean, imagine what lunatic platter GABI would have come up with. (6)


Final scores:

M.E.S.H. – ‘Infra-Red’ (7.6)
GABI – ‘Fleece’ (7)
Kaytranada – ‘Drive Me Crazy’ (ft. Vic Mensa) (6.8)
Lapalux – ‘Closure’ (ft. Szjerdene) (6)
Trickfinger – ‘After Below’(5.8)
Trey Songz – ‘Slow Motion’ (4.6)

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