Low End Lowlife: 16.08.12

Great Yarmouth's second least reliable bass music columnist returns for another sprawling ramble about records and grain spirit.

Posted on Aug 16th, 2012 in Features and Interviews / By Matthew Bayfield
Low End Lowlife: 16.08.12 The crack of a pistol. The roar of the maddening crowd. The surge of adrenaline as you push your very muscle and sinew to limits you never thought your body could handle... Bloody hell nights out in Nottingham can get a bit hectic! Anyway in between adventures to places with a better musical culture than Great Yarmouth (it's not that I don't love Sean Paul's 'Get Busy' but after hearing it every Saturday since I went drinking with a photocopied driving license it came time I had to spread my wings and try some new locations) and battling with the BBC iPlayer to track down rogue episodes of Eastenders (on day 15 of the Olympics I found out there was a search bar that could be employed. Bastard.) this column has more or less been forgotten about. Still not to worry. The gin has worn off and the money has run out so it's back to sitting in my parent's spare room listening to records.

Here's some solid gold for you from the past few weeks (yes it's a tenuous Olympics tie in. Well spotted.)

Black Acre, a label who have been cooking with grease for the whole of 2012 return again after the triumph of Fantastic Mr Fox's San En EP with the Bedtime Stories EP courtesy of Blue Daisy in collaboration with Unknown Shapes. The EP (which comes on a wonderfully presented translucent orange vinyl) sees 'Daisy take his sound deeper into the atmospheric sonic space he made some small inroads into with his Raindrops EP back in 2010. Opener 'Insomniac Love' takes forlorn wails and swathes of static crackle and weaves them around shimmering keys to create a spacious, serene melancholia of a piece soaked in an atmosphere akin to some great animal lying in the deep awaiting it's inevitable demise. If the BBC ever decides to commission a cripplingly morose Blue Planet spin off focusing exclusively on the extinction of despondent marine life they may have just found the perfect man to score the piece. From here on out the EP travels further into a variety of deep, psychedelic recesses: 'Bedtime Stories (Don't Stop)' features giant, dub drenched percussion and whining synths sparsely applied around ethereal vocal chants, whilst 'All Night Long (Session)' has a building tension and energy over its five minute length that finally dispels itself to great effect in a grand, distorted manner in it's last few moments. The EP is without doubt designed to be taken as a whole, there's an overriding sonic template to the whole piece of a cold space and ambience which, in tracks like 'Beautiful Nightmare’, is ingeniously grafted to ticking, tightly syncopated drum patterns (not too dissimilar to a lot of the current "trap" productions kicking about, but more on that later) that means the tracks weave in and out of each other wonderfully to work as one long suite rather than a series of individual cuts. In a recent Arts Desk episode (which, if you've never come across I strongly recommend you do so here) Joe Muggs said that Daisy has recently been listening to seventies prog records by the likes of King Crimson and Yes, and if you listen to one of the latter band's more extended pieces, say anything off Tales From Topographic Oceans or the five(ish) minute section from 'Gates Of Delirium' that got a single release with the title 'Soon' you can definitely hear a good deal of that sci fi inflected, widescreen cinematic style as well as the feeling that the piece should be taken as a whole rather than bought in little butchered chunks on iTunes. Maybe I'm going about forty three miles too far overboard with my analysis here but it's an interesting point to note that Blue Daisy & Unknown Shapes (who I can find out next to nothing about) have managed to take small elements of the “trap” style, which is current buzzword of the week and marry it in no uncertain terms to something perceived as uncool and dated as seventies prog without losing their own unique identity. If you were half as bowled over as I was by Kuedo's Severeant LP or enjoy the glacial atmosphere of a Karin Dreijer Andersson record (or a nice dose of po-faced progressive rock) this is definitely a little trip you should take yourself on.

Next up another record that simultaneously has some reverence for the past whilst grafting it organically to the future. Last heard dropping two enormously fun, analogue powered disco edits on his own Apron label, this week also sees another welcome appearance from Funkineven who has teamed up with regular collaborator Fatima (pictured) to drop the glorious Phone Line EP for Alexander Nut and Sam Shepherd's Eglo Records. Opener '90's' is a sultry little number, peppered with gentle synths, some bold 808 snaps and a thick low end that sit perfectly under Fatima's confident, silky vocal without ever swamping it. If you are a fan of the nineties style slow jams (the clue is in the title) or the psyched out funk of Erykah Badu's most recent album you should probably stop reading this article and get to your nearest record shop. 'East To West' comes with a lively boogie sound, replete with big synth hand claps, whirring keys and a lick of that West Coast g-funk squelch and is a joyous number to bump in your Cadillac... or Vauxhall Nova. Which it’s slightly more likely you own but less of a bitch to park, so stay positive if you can't afford a rag-top just yet (besides, those pimps from the days of Mean Johnny Barrows didn't have to worry about petrol prices.) On the flip comes 'Phoneline' a track that's been doing the rounds for a little bit now, but has lost none of it's mastery in the process. Riding on some crisp, minimal drum patterns and a soft, whirring synth line the piece is a witty little back & forth between Fatima, with her ever flexible vocal style and some screwed wordplay from Funkineven himself as the pair flirt (or fail to) over a phone call. It also features a morphine more-ish chorus that is instantly hummable and is the sort of thing that truly deserves to see some mainstream airplay... As it stands Pitbull will probably go straight back in at number one (for the fifth time on four weeks) with a track where he talks about the club and spends the whole video walking about said "club" wearing that same white suit and sunglasses (indoors, at night) looking a bit like a blind man with alopecia... Alas we can but hope. Rounding up this EP nicely is a little instrumental refix of '90's' which takes the original off into a slightly more languid, cocktail bar direction. Put it on in the (sporadic) sunshine and drink gin & tonics.

Coming through lastly this week, and admittedly it actually came out a few weeks ago now but my organisational skills are shambolic at best, is the new collaborative EP from Scottish sonic absurdist Hudson Mohawke and Canadian beat maker extraordinaire Lunice under the vowel liberated moniker of TNGHT. In the spirit of collaboration the EP is also a split release between HudMo's own Lucky Me imprint and current label home Warp. There's a high chance if you've left the house at all in the last few months and headed anywhere good music is played you'll have heard something off this record. There is also a high chance you've been forced to bounce uncontrollably to said sounds as they are catchy beyond belief. For an EP clocking in at barely over fifteen minutes in length it is nothing short of massive. Taking in much of that oft mentioned "trap" sound the EP opens with 'Top Floor', a short little palette cleanser of a piece that rolls on big thumping sub kicks and those densely syncopated 808 claps that are trap's bread & butter, before second track 'Goooo' drops in to ruin any semblance of your speakers with more, massive, massive sub hits, sheering synths and some of that Southern fried shouty verse/chant style stuff that everyone used to call "crunk". As a footnote from a man who spent many a formative year pondering the introspective lyrical nuances of Bo Hagon or Lil Jon & The Eastside Boyz (‘Let My Nuts Go' being a particular watershed moment in my emotional development) the differences between 'crunk' and 'trap' seem minimal at best, as both focus largely on massive bass, 808 percussion, bombastic yet Spartan arrangements and an all round brazen sense of fun... Perhaps it's a bit like when Sunny Delight became unpopular in the late nineties after that toddler from Wales started turning orange after consumption, so they laid low for a few years then came back as 'Sunny D' thus pulling the wool over all our eyes... Perhaps I've wandered off topic slightly. Either way the TNGHT EP is a preposterous, day-glo assault on the senses; from the digital pots & pans percussion of 'Bugg'n' to 'Higher Grounds' infectiously repetitive vocal samples and flaring brass (another common crunk touchstone) it's impossible not to listen to this and smile with a tingle in your face and gut, just like when you used to drink a whole bottle of that liquid diabetes then run round your garden pretending to be a crime fighting turtle. So pop and find the TNGHT EP when you have a minute and quench the thirst of your inner child!

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