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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: Stormzy, Roisin Murphy, Holly Herndon and more.

Jungle – ‘The Heat’ (Zomby Remix)

William Skar: Reverb Of The Week. (7)

Claire Lobenfeld: I am always a little perturbed by a super protracted remix. Zomby probably has better things to do than catch wind of Urban Outfitters indie like Jungle -buying Margiela sweatpants, perhaps – and I appreciate that he’s given added a little zip to an otherwise pretty subdued track. Key word here, though, is “little.” This mostly comes off as something that a bunch of stoned college kids made with a pirated, old version of Fruityloops and Beavis and Butthead. “You know what would be really funny? If we made a jungle remix of Jungle? Heh, heh, heh.” I didn’t need to think about this track a year and a half later, especially not in the context of cheeky slop. (1)

Son Raw: A bit on the nose isn’t it? Nomenclature aside, hardcore’s tradition of nicking pop songs and giving them the Amen treatment suits Jungle well, and Zomby’s as qualified as anyone to chuck some airhorns and rave stabs in with their boogie funk. I just wish they’d been committed to the idea and pitched this one up about 15BPM for the full chipmunk effect, because as is, it’s sluggish, and that’s the one thing hardcore never was. (5)

Tayyab Amin: I wasn’t wholly sure what to expect of this at first (expectations being crucial rather than toxic towards whether we enjoy something). Jungle keep their pastiche café interior polished enough to deflect eyes prying into their background, while Zomby almost purposefully thrusts his personality in front of his music. There’s the briefest moment of humour as Jungle meets jungle but there isn’t a whole lot here to actually go anywhere, swirling in its own staleness. The coffee’s gone cold and I’m thinking less about the dissipated flavour and more about how much it cost. (3)

Mikey IQ Jones: The problem here isn’t that both artists are surfing on Big Kahuna waves of nostalgia – that worked wonderfully on Zomby’s debut album, and the boys in Jungle are savvy and knowledgeable enough to ape their beloved mid-’80s electro-boogie soul, though it all ends up feeling and sounding rather dehydrated. It’s that both artists are playing it far too safe in terms of the genres they want to mimic; there’s no funk or tension here. This vibe’s like a timid, by-the-numbers version of Zomby’s best work (right down to the abrupt “fuck it, I’m finished” ending), and I’m left with a lingering 26 Mixes For Cash aftertaste in my mouth. Sadly forgettable. (5)


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M.I.A. – ‘CanSeeCanDo’

Son Raw: Watching M.I.A try to find her footing this decade is like running into that once-trendy kid from school still rocking gear from 2008. If you’re going for Dutch house synths and LFO riffs, then it’s actually your POLITICX that’ll sound better without beats. (4)

Mikey IQ Jones: Wow, the vocal on this is distractingly bad. Is this actually just a demo that she wanted to leak to fans? I’m all for strutting hard and going for gold regardless of one’s vocal chops (those are often the best and most captivating voices), but for someone who’s proved time and again that she does have the confidence and authority to play by her own rules, this sadly just sounds rusty and unsure of itself. Not the best way to reassert yourself in the pop climate, is it? (3)

William Skar: Every aspect of this, from those brostep twiddles to Maya’s hopscotch vocals, sounds like it’s been made from elastic. A fine bit of audio Flubber, and happily my favourite M.I.A track since ‘Bad Girls’. (7)

Claire Lobenfeld: There is never not a time when M.I.A.’s politically-packed output isn’t appropriate. Even when her choice issues aren’t the things primarily on my mind, I appreciate her perspective and that she stays committed to her cause. The hypnotic quality to ‘CanSeeCanDo’ adds extra padding to her ideas of governmental brainwashing, the track coaxing you into a calm where her vocals are tantamount to mind-control. It’s effective, but she is so much better when she is slapping you in the face with her ideas and delivering them to us with bombast, whether it’s rappity-rapping on ‘Bring the Noize’ or wailing over a Suicide sample on ‘Born Free’. Excited for more, but need her to come a little harder. (6)

Tayyab Amin: Sitting at the top of M.I.A’s tweets are a link to Ayesha Siddiqi’s Editors’ Note for the latest issue of The New Inquiry, centred around ‘futures’. Siddiqi writes about how the future perhaps solely exists in language, and how all talk of the future is actually reference to the present and the past. She says that different groups refer to tomorrow as ‘our future’, as if everyone in the present are existing under the same circumstances as one mass, though we know that isn’t the case. Siddiqi sees a parallel with M.I.A’s lyrics: “Some people see planes, some people see drones / Some people see a do, some people see don’ts.

M.I.A’s back in an incredibly M.I.A fashion; her words usually do allude to more than their explicit meaning. Plus she personifies her troubles: “Can we get past history? Wanna make a future with you.” I do wonder how many dudes passively listening mistake it for a romance song. Simply ‘knowing that M.I.A is political’ isn’t enough, which is why she still repeats herself. (7)


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Stormzy – ‘Know Me From’

William Skar: Track, video, intent…grime’s new breed finally have their ‘Yonkers’ moment. This will go stratospheric, and deservedly so. (10)

Tayyab Amin: The ad-lib track to this is probably the most boneheaded thing going. Ideally, I’m gonna be on that tip when I’m shouting out the hook from the middle of the dance. (8)

Mikey IQ Jones: I love that Stormzy can tackle nearly any kind of beat and ride it with total authority. Last year’s Dreamers Disease EP showed that he can ably work in a number of contempo rap and r’n’b styles, and with grime looking to invade non-UK territories on a scale larger than ever before attempted, this is exactly the kind of tough tune new listeners can get pumped on while acknowledging everything prior that brought him to his current station. If he’s not huge by the end of the year, things are seriously fucked up. (9)

Claire Lobenfeld: Last week I was transparent about my complete American lack of knowledge about grime – and I am currently taking applications from anyone, FACT squad or otherwise, who wants to educate your girl – but I can get into this. The braggadocio is comforting because it’s the kind of thing I like on any sort of, “You don’t know me”-style rap track. And hey! I get the Boy Better Know-won-Culture Clash reference! So that’s something! Still, even with those missing puzzle pieces, I’m not having a completely visceral response to this, which is what I need from these kinds of ferocious bars. Am I wrong? Send help. (6)

Son Raw: Stormzy’s core strength has been balancing his US influences with his grime bonafides better than anyone in the scene, and this latest missive captures the tightrope act as well as anything he’s put out. I bust out laughing on radio when he spit “shower man down in my shower man gear” and had to draw for the reload – the reload never lies. Bonus points for rolling with the fuck up in the video shoot and just allowing it – that’s real. (7)


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QT – ‘Hey QT’ (Diplo Remix)

Tayyab Amin: It’s as if Diplo’s touch simply eviscerates all traces of sincerity present on the original. (4)

Claire Lobenfeld: Jesus Christ, it looks like in 2015 I am still a sucker for a Diplo remix. I am literally the only person in humanity who sits on the fence about PC Music. I love a lot of it, I hate the rest of it in equal measure. ‘Hey QT,’ even aside from its primed-for-adorableness title, towed enough of a line where I didn’t find it to be too saccharine, but Diplo’s managed to scrub parts of it clean of its syrupiness without being cloying. It needed the extra glitter where he added it, yet is still a little bit scattershot. Throw the good parts into a DJ set but cut it off two-thirds of the way through. (5.5)

Mikey IQ Jones: Extracts the goofy fun out of the original and instead replaces it with knuckleheaded ennui. I’d dig this more if he’d take that slowed down, chopped-up beat fragment in the second section, extend it, and have someone rap over it, but as it stands, this remix is rather pointless, though it does raise an important question: why in the hell didn’t he get QT involved with the Jack Ü album? Blown opportunity. (4)

Son Raw: Like being force-fed high fructose corn syrup until my liver explodes. I’m keeping the names of anyone who rates this over an 8 and if I’m still writing about music 15 years from now, I’m holding them responsible for this dreck’s popularity. Well, not really, but c’mon – this is just late ’90s happy hardcore for the YouTube Generation. (2)

William Skar: Writing about remixes of PC Music tracks is nice, because you don’t have to embroil yourself in the usual is-it-ironic-is-it-moronic chatter: it’s just raw material, being used for good or for ill. Diplo’s take on ‘Hey QT’ is about as fleet-footed as a narwhal, but I’m quite enjoying the sludginess and shonkiness of this – an unusual counterpoint to PCMus’s hyperreal sheen. Being a Diplo production, this still reeks of dingus, but it’s far from the car-crash I was expecting. (5)


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Holly Herndon – ‘Interference’

Mikey IQ Jones: I respect Herndon’s work a considerable amount more than I tend to enjoy it. She’s a talented sound designer, and I applaud her desire to fuse academic concept with more primordial bodily kineticism, but I’m often left feeling unmoved by her final product, despite the amounts of humanism that she injects into her arrangements. This feels like a step in a more pop-conscious direction, but when you’re attaching a hefty multiplatform concept to your album, the music should be fluent in its own language when separated from its surrounding contexts. That’s sadly not happening here, as there’s really not much that differentiates ‘Interference’ from your standard IDM track. Solid, but feels like a step in the wrong direction. (6)

Claire Lobenfeld: I want to connect with this so badly, but I really, really can’t. (2)

William Skar: Herndon’s work has typically fallen well within the province of art music, but this genuinely stands on the border between techno and texture. ‘Interference’ plays like a souped-up patten track – mechanoid, shoegazy, shredded to ribbons. I’m still too confounded by it to clonk it with a double figures score, but I keep going back, and plundering more with every listen. (8)

Son Raw: What a build up! So many producers today engage in sound design for its own sake but Herndon’s layers interconnect like a four-dimensional jigsaw puzzle and the results are nothing less but astounding. Look, I could write metaphors about this all day long but all you need to know is that you can dance, cruise or head nod to this and it’ll sound great either way. (8)

Tayyab Amin: It’s tough to succinctly verbalise why I think Herndon’s works are brilliant, because it feels like their legacy and ramifications on this intersection of audiovisual socio-cultural consumerism-focused art have yet to develop. We expect the opportunity to engage art on multiple levels, but Herndon actively extends the hand; pop cues accentuate the navigability of the music, however if you’re happy to lose yourself in the sonic maelstrom in search for specific moments of staggering sound, those moments do appear in the forms of tumbling basslines and those staggered vocals. The Metahaven-directed video preserves that nature well – drawing a narrative through a maze is no easy task. (9)


Roisin Murphy – ‘Jealousy’

Son Raw: Murphy is the best thing about either of these versions, infusing the workmanlike house mix with a humanity and soul sorely lacking amidst the glut of polished instrumentals clogging up the scence. The disco mix packs substantially more bite, despite not doing anything new with the form. Am I wrong for looking forward to hearing those vocals chopped up and remixed over the next 20 years though? Cause that’s an extremely sample-ready vocal. (6 – 5 for the house mix, 7 for the disco mix)

William Skar: Crosstown Rebels call it “demented roller-disco music” – I’d go for “pleasant shuffler fodder”. The house mix has lashings of Brownswood cheer but a deficit of character; the disco mix is pure pastiche, fun but forgettable. Neither does a mega-talent like Murphy much credit. (6)

Claire Lobenfeld: Roisin Murphy is so well-suited for alt-house diva vibes, as displayed by the house edit of ‘Jealousy’, but the disco edit is really where it’s at. Some of the riffs are a little bit too ‘Get Lucky’, but if there is another, realer disco revival set for the future, I think she could dominate it. With word that there is a new Jessica 6 album coming this year, this could really be a thing. And I am generally not about disco in, really, any manifestation. This changes my mind. (7)

Tayyab Amin: The house mix is a little jarring for me – the first half comes across as vaguely menacing before that uplifting progression sweeps in to lighten the mood. Really, it just leads to confusing feelings. I reckon the vocal jels much more in the disco mix, though I still don’t think I’ll be back for more. (4)

Mikey IQ Jones: Murphy’s forthcoming album – which does not include this tune – is a brilliantly cosmic, noirish slow-burning stunner that’s unlike anything she’s done before. ‘Jealousy’ feels like a farewell kiss to the halcyon club bangers she built her reputation on, for better or worse. Róisín’s always had the voice and the personality to fully own tunes like this, but she’s done it better befores. (7)


Final scores:

Stormzy – ‘Know Me From’ (8)
Holly Herndon – ‘Interference’ (6.6)
Roisin Murphy – ‘Jealousy’ (6)
M.I.A. – ‘CanSeeCanDo’ (5.4)
Jungle – ‘The Heat’ (Zomby Remix) (4.2)
QT – ‘Hey QT’ (Diplo Remix) (4)

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