Low End Lowlife: 23.05.12

Look out, it's Matthew Bayfield

Posted on May 23rd, 2012 in Features and Interviews / By Matthew Bayfield
Low End Lowlife: 23.05.12 The Low End Lowlife has, without doubt, been substantially more low life than low-end of late. Having made the sage decision to move to central London without actually having a house or any financial support beyond a banging record collection I’m reluctant to monetise, there has been a glorious month of sofa surfing, stealing from M&S wheelie bins, and generally realising the logistical difficulties of looking for a house without a computer or internet connection. In retrospect it seems a somewhat obvious blunder… Regardless that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been time, whilst soaking up the opportunity and misery of London’s congestion, extortion and isolation, to dig out some audio gems. The sort that make dealing with Camden’s trilby wearing “I’m alternative because I’ve got tattoos” or St Paul’s “You can tell I’m important because I didn’t have time to buy a suit that fitted and I walk really fast” pomp and snobbery that little bit more bearable… I don’t know what I’m doing here, I don’t know why I did it, but in the words of Oliver Reed “I like the effect drink has on me, what’s the point in staying sober?”

Admittedly I’ve missed enough weeks to generate one ninth of a baby, or watch two thirds of Gone With The Wind, so hanging out of a bottle of gin and by the skin of my psyche, let’s get up to our earholes in it. Apologies to all those I heard, loved, then forgot.

Slugabed, purveyor of some of the most deliciously wonky electronic music that can be sold without prescription, returns on Ninjatune with his first full length in the form of the wonderfully titled Time Team. If you have heard any of the man’s EPs from last year (of which cuts ‘Moonbeam Rider’ and ‘Dragon Drums’ both appear here) then you should already know you are in for a treat. From the cheeky, almost childlike giddiness of new single ‘Sex’ through to the mystical creature body slamming rubberised bass of ‘Unicorn Suplex’. It is an album with a sound unlike anything else, and, critically, it is clear that this set of tracks was designed to play as a whole collection rather than just twelve numbers dumped on a disc. Not dissimilar in style to the likes of HudMo, Rustie or the less aggressive end of Starkey (whom Slugabed has remixed wonderfully in the past) we could spend all day bickering about whether it is ‘purple sound’ ‘skwee’ or ‘broken-beat downtempotriphopNoelEdmundsswapshop’ or we could just shut our know-it-all little faces and enjoy the Jon Anderson sampling genius of ‘Mountains Come Out Of The Sky’ and the morphine laced pseudo drum ‘n’ bass of ‘Climbing A Tree’. Slugabed plays. Tony Robinson digs. Earth claps.

Keeping things all in the family like a good Norfolk boy should next we have the new release from Brighton’s perennially technicoloured Donky Pitch stable, who Slugabed has rode with in this past (the puns just keep on coming). Keyboard Kid 206 (pictured), a Seattle based producer who, alongside delusions of grandeur, makes some wonderfully delirious synth heavy hip-hop inflected beat based let’s-not-get-distracted-with-categorising-stuff has just dropped his first official release in the shape of the Transition EP. From ‘Long Live Swag’s kinetically relentless synth assault through the more spacious, 80’s video game inflected anthem of ‘The Transition’ to the thick, syrup soaked sounds of ‘Based Exorcism’ not a world away from the creations of Joker when he was in his prime. With productions under his belt already for the likes of Lil B, expectations were always going to be high for this release, but it would appear Donky Pitch have added another neon plume to their particularly unique cap.

For those not already in the know Lone recently dropped his luscious long player Galaxy Garden at some point whilst I’ve been living off canned goods and frankly, it has more space age goodness than an entire jukebox full of Can. Without doubt the man’s most fully realised and coherent piece to date, it takes all the excitement and colour of last month’s ‘Crystal Caverns 1991 / Vulcan Mill Acid’ 12” (of which Crystal Caverns appears here) and magnifies it all by two. ‘The Animal Pattern’ invokes feelings of lapping warm water and video games featuring Italian plumbers, ‘Raindance’ somehow manages to sound exactly as that would feel, were the rain in question warm butter whilst standout track ‘Earth’s Lungs’ takes ridiculous 303’s and smears them with steel pan style synth work to provide a sonic holiday of the sort on Lone seems able to organise.

Keeping things on a decidedly tropical tip it’s off to the Kestrel drenched, I mean, sun drenched streets of Glasgow next where the good gentlemen of Mungo’s Hi-Fi have just dropped their low end, bass rich refix of that Eek A Mouse standard ‘Hire & Removal’ via their Scotch Bonnet offshoot Scrub-A-Dub. If you know the Mungo style then you should already be aware that it is nigh on impossible to keep still whilst consuming and this platter is no different, taking the instantly identifiable ‘Mi moma’ vocal of the original and riding it on an elasticated bass both heavier, looser and grubbier than a prime of her life Pat Butcher… If you don’t know the Mungo sound, well I just told you. Over on the flip we are treated to the slightly harder, digi-dancehall styling of ‘Kung Fu Know How’ featuring the vocal licks of Ruben Da Silva and Solo Banton to really bring a bit of pressure at the dance. On top of all this you also get the ’Kung Fu Drunken Dub’ which, alongside highlighting the more eccentric pops and whistles of the wonderful production, gives any drunken fool with no couch to sleep on something to mouth off to when travelling on a busy tube drinking Kestrel. Essential.

Meanwhile, in Bristol, a couple of G’s have cranked out a couple more classics, both on their own labels: first up Gemmy, via his World Of Wonders imprint, has treated us to his Tales Of The Deep EP. The title track features those massive, searing synths just as you like ‘em laid over some loose, gaiting percussion and brassy bombast all laced up beautifully with some choice 1950’s movie trailer vocal cuts and an infectious sense of fun. You also get the lead footed, belching stomp of ‘Freq Factory’, ‘Dark Dundry’s skittered, tripped out Timbaland’isms and the frantic/relaxed cat and mouse mood swings of ‘No 1 Stunners’ for less than the price of a Shoreditch purchased, organically grown, sustainable resource falafel wrap. So skip dinner today. You’re just being pretentious. Second, but only in terms of the sequencing of this column, comes the newest concoction of Guido’s eccentric electronically orchestral style. If you were a fan of the man’s ‘Orchestral Lab’ on Punch Drunk a little way back then ‘Flow’ is certainly a number worth investigating. Taking a nimble little Jay Wilcox vocal, Guido then sprinkles it upon his airy string sound and a dense, synthy bass to create a wonderfully dramatic, bordering on cinematic track that could easily stand toe to toe with any of the half-baked hip-pop tripe you will currently find clogging up the airwaves on the shows of depressingly well paid, dead beat entities such as Chris Moyles… Which means it’ll probably get ignored and we will all have to carry on listening to Rick Ross read out the luxury motors page of the Free Ads to an array of metronomic hi-hats. Indeed it appears to be Babylon before Bristol. Alongside this hopefully not but probably soon to be overlooked gem you also get the instrumental, which is worth the price of admission alone, and ‘Africa’, a more tribally rhythmic, stripped back piece that plays a perfectly spacious yin to ‘Flow’ s densely structured yang. Even if it is just this once, ignored the shrill bovine drawls of that Radio 1 remedial and take yourself out west.

Bringing it all back home like my name was Bob Dylan now comes the new release by fellow Norfolk native Luke Abbott, courtesy of Gold Panda’s Notown Records, Which is actually a much more cheerful label than the existentialist moniker might suggest. ‘Modern Driveway’ is a gentle, pseudo house formatted piece which features a much richer, warmer feel than some of the more brittle, bleak templates favoured on Abbott’s Holkham Drones LP, released in late 2010. There is also the gentle bubbling rhythm of ‘Carrage’ to enjoy, along with the extended, laidback drift of ‘Meeting Hill’. Perfect for when you are trapped on a clammy tube line with an even clammier three piece suit clad Merril Lynchian armpit in your face... Here’s to life in the big city.

If I ever manage to find a phone charger without drinking in a Starbucks don’t forget you can find me drifting around the digital dustbins of Twitter @Lowendlowlife too my friends.