Low End Lowlife: 06.11.12

Matthew Bayfield reports!

Posted on Nov 6th, 2012 in Features and Interviews / By Matthew Bayfield
Low End Lowlife: 06.11.12 There's been a bit of a break in signal this past month. Mainly due to X Factor being on. No that's actually complete lies, I don't watch X Factor or any other one of those "talent" shows you care to name. A glorified karaoke singer from Bedford with a sob story about cancer or how their cat went missing? I think I'd actually rather ITV filmed her aggressive chemotherapy than her attempts to butcher another Amy Winehouse track to be honest. I've got a valid reason for my weekly column not actually appearing weekly... My cat went missing.

Anyway whilst that rubbish has been clogging television schedules & Twitter feeds across the land here's what you really should have been listening to.

Deep Medi continue their unsurpassable strut across 2012 with another spiffing EP courtesy of young talent Swindle (pictured). If you are still yet to hear his previous Do The Jazz release on the same label shame on you, but now is a chance to redeem yourself as you can cop his new Forest Funk EP at the same time. The title track of the piece, much like Swindle's best work, is a sonic gumbo that opens with some airy swelling pads and nature sounds, building nicely before the track tears out in to some grime styled chunky synths and thudding percussion, peppered with little guitar licks. It really is a strange balancing act between aggressive passages and gentle, jazz inflected interludes that only Swindle seems capable of at present. Second track 'Belfast' follows a similar vein, opening out with some almost Booker T informed keys before breaking out into a heavy percussive lurch replete with the odd rogue drum break. These first two tracks, as wonderfully eccentric as they are, are nothing however on closer 'Mischief' which may just rate as the most genius track of the year in my humble opinion. Rolling out on some bold brassy stabs and stuttering percussion the track manages to take in freeform piano lines, swelling string samples, congas, some jazz flute and a splash of the type of live saxophone playing only appropriate for seventies porn films and mid-nineties Michael Douglas films. It's the sort of madness that would make you want to go steal a car... But in a comedy caper fashion, not the broken Britain, young and unemployed sort of way. Also the only car it would be appropriate to sound tracking the theft of would be the Caddy with the chandeliers that Isaac Hayes pimps about in in Escape From New York. Or maybe the Pope Mobile... Please buy and listen to the record and refrain from stealing in any context. Even a mischievous one.

Moving on to further funky eccentricity comes the new Fluro Black EP by the fine alliance of Arp 101 x Elliot Yorke, courtesy of Brighton based label Donky Pitch. Opener 'Fluro Black' is a trap flavoured piece of bombast that takes the genre staples of booming bass thumps and 808 claps and meshes them to gasping female samples, animal roars and seesaw synth work. It's as typically bonkers as any other Donky Pitch release and all the better for it as it stops it falling into the ever widening chasm that will forever be remembered as "that phase when everyone had a go at a trap beat." I think most of this trap stuff is just flaccid instrumental crunk. Bring back Trillville & Pastor Troy shouting obscenities and maybe then we can talk. You are also treated to 'Polybot', a jam stuffed to the brim with neon synth work and some of that squelchy bass funk that is a prime ingredient in many a fine Arp 101 production. Again like the previous Swindle release this one is another case of "save the best til last" with 'SLAM', a groove based workout of whirring, stuttered bass lines something like a Bootsy Collins powered helicopter and processed voice samples that would probably have sounded futuristic when Zapp & Roger needed fake ID's to get into clubs. If the Swindle EP was suitable for driving around in Isaac Hayes’ stolen caddy all you need to do for this EP to be suitable is wrap the Caddy in tinfoil. You can also get a tasty little remix courtesy of DP family Ghost Mutt, which has seen airplay on Skream & Benga's Radio 1 show here. That's also a gem.

Stepping away from funk themed synths and stolen Cadillacs and into something with a bit more heft comes the new Brixton Bass EP by the almighty Tunnidge on Chestplate. If you don't know what to expect from a Chestplate release by this point it's probably a safe bet to say you might not be the ideal person to start your own detective agency or you are completely deaf. Chest rattling bass is more or less their modus operandi and Tunnidge, a regular on the label, has probably pulled his heaviest plates to date with this EP. Opener and title track 'Brixton Bass' is a shearing synth led audio storm that has been battering sound systems all summer and still hasn't lost any of it's power. As well as some ridiculous air horns and dubbed out percussion for your ears to do battle with there is also a genius moment where things stutter and slow to a crawl, sonically resembling someone attempting to pull the Death Star out of a lay-by in third gear, before launching back into a ridiculous, bass powered stomp. 'Empty Spaces' takes things further into the murk with deft pad work, some pensive tone and subtly effective vocal samples (something Tunnidge is a regular don for.) whilst 'Wardrum', as the name might suggest, is another mad onslaught of a track and is the definite tip for anyone who was a fan of Tunnidge's '7 Breaths' release on Chestplate back in 2010. The standout on this one for me however is closer 'Dark Future', which takes minimal percussion; just some weighty kicks and reverb soaked cymbals, and laces them with paranoid synth lines to create a track that sounds like it could quite easily be a dubstep take on Ennio Morricone's glacial score to The Thing. On a big ole system it's almost suffocating. Another feather in the Chestplate cap for 2012 then. Excellent.

Anyway that's it for this week. Check back next week when I may or (most probably) not have produced another piece of bass related chatter.

Don't forget you can find Bearded Magazine and myself on Twitter. Where we promise not to mention X Factor unless in an abusive, intoxicated state at @BeardedMagazine & @Lowendlowlife respectively!