Low End Lowlife: 29.02.12

Here he is...

Posted on Feb 29th, 2012 in Features and Interviews / By Matthew Bayfield
Low End Lowlife: 29.02.12 Sometimes life doesn't go to plan. Sometimes it all gets too much. The great creator, or the spirits of mischief, set in motion events that scupper all your plans. This doesn't happen to me. Ever. Last week a cosmic force didn't realign and sabotage my bass fuelled journalism. I just went to the Dub Police takeover at Fabric and got too battered to be cohesive, thus sinking any tentative plans I may have laid to report on what was sounding good. This week, my article is a day late, as I spent a weekend in Centre Parcs without any internet connection or writing equipment. The technological and social isolation I experienced was bliss. I sat, listened to music, drank myself blind, read a book or two (pre-drinks) and never had to listen to anyone else's opinions on any of it. The only downside was that I was in Centre Parcs. If you've never been, imagine Butlins... Well done, now take all those fat loudmouths in Le Coq Sportif shell suits and replace them with skinny opinionated snobs in Jack Wills "lounge pants". You're out in your pyjamas you posh wankers. Admit it. Add to this the crippling knowledge that there is zero chance of seeing Shane Ritchie flying round in a red coat singing ‘Knees Up Mother Brown’, and you'll start to have a clearer picture of the middle class shit in which I resided for 72 unflinching, bagel toasting hours. Here's the sonic raft that kept me mercifully afloat on an ocean of room temperature Pinot Grigio and endless reruns of Jamie's School Dinners.

If you are not familiar with the leftfield dance antics known as Shangaan Electro (and no one is blaming you) then you probably missed the ridiculous compilation of the same name that curator extraordinaire label Honest Jons threw together a couple of years ago. Again, no one’s blaming you, but pay attention now: you could miss something really important one day, like the death of a legendary soul singer, or the release of another Bruce Willis blues album. Anyway, to cut a long story short the basic Shangaan sound is more or less hyper speed dance music produced by a group of Butlins Redcoats… Redcoats who have been deported to South Africa, forsaken Shane Ritchie as their god body and converted to largely tribal rhythm instruments fused to Casio keyboards, then dropped some tabs in their still Vimto… And wear clown masks and hospital gowns instead of those iconic little blazers of the rouge persuasion. Needless to say it is delirious fun, and there’s more to come as a fresh batch of remixes are now doing the rounds from a host of suitably abstract sources. Always fascinating, frequently undecipherable Actress dropped two remixes of a thoroughly abstract quality recently, both of which are almost impossible to identify the source tracks on. The A-side of these cuts is closer to an offshore long wave transmission than a club banger, featuring snatches of SA vocal harmonies amongst a frisson of white noise, scrambled sounds and the odd synth chime whilst on the flip the second of the two tracks is a pressure cooker tight assault on the ears structured largely around a pinging marimba. Sounds like it may have been the soundtrack to a scrapped Super Nintendo game where you control a pissed Italian sailor with Asperges, who must delicately avoid razor sharp coastal rock formations. They clearly should have released that... The ever elusive Old Apparatus create a cavernous space and tension on their contribution, with murky reverb laden vocals and a creepy twist on the tacky keyboard lines usually found on a Shangaan track whilst on the flip MMM contributes a bouncy, house formatted disco cut which keeps the rhythmic elements of the style intact whilst diffusing some of the deranged energy commonplace in the original works. There are also excellent numbers available from the likes of Peverelist, Ricardo Villalobos & Max Loderbauer available as well as some tropical space explorations courtesy of Demdike Stare and another muffled, submersed audio excursion from the wonderfully eccentric Hype Williams. You’ve been excused of your ignorance thus far, but you are not a SUNday paper buyer, pawing with a clammy hand at your 89p holiday coupon now are you? Become educated, and bore the shit out of middle class twats at woodland resorts too!

Taking things back to basics, but not in the shit, poorly packaged, not as economically intelligent as you might think Sainsbury’s Basics way is the new Subtext EP from dubstep hooligan Trolley Snatcha, available now courtesy of Dub Police. Trolley Snatcha has been one of Dub Police’s regular foot soldiers since his first release back in ’09, and as is customary with most of his work, his style continues to refine itself without ever losing the power and heft that are key to his sonic palette. Lead single ‘Make My Whole World’ is a catchy, mid range led juggernaut of a piece and has been cleaning up in the sets of many a fine DJ, even getting play on national radio stations I am too professional to name who usually just churn out shit… So well done them for getting involved at last. You can also check out the rather high-gloss video courtesy of creative duo The Moonrunners HERE. As well as this superb shit-radio station shaking single there is also the lurching, juggernaut heavy 'Nasty Shit' which is every bit the aggressive, proverbial excrement the name would denote. 'Giving Up' is the slow burner of the piece, with a swoon of soulful vocals and dramatic piano lines which swell into a full bodied riot of a stomp. It is one of the most confident arrangements in Snatcha's already impressive back catalogue and much like 'Make My...' straddles that tawdry mainstream/underground divide expertly. Rounding up this heavyweight EP are 'Flying Missiles', which again, is a most suitably named barrage of sonic warfare complete with a splendid, almost tribal rhythm section unexpectedly dropping in around the halfway mark (I'm aware I probably just spoilt that, but life isn't all sunshine, Furbys and cupcakes children) and 'The Jungle' which brings proceedings to a close with a raving, electro mad hatter of a crescendo. These tunes may all be designed to batter the doilies off of Dot Cotton, but the production itself is deceptively nuanced, with a keen eye for detail. But then, with this being a Dub Police piece you should already know that. Bonus points to Trolley Snatcha also, as the artwork to his previous EP One Trick Pony depicted a snatched trolley of the blue & orange colour scheme associated with Sainsbury's. Stick that in your sphincter Oliver you Turkey Twizzler snatching toff...

LHF, the collective who have dropped only a Jeremy Beadle's right handful of creations since their auspicious Enter In Silence EP of 2010 return with the third in that trilogy of EP's: Cities Of Technology is now available through Blackdown's infinitely well crafted Keysound Recordings. LHF are producers of a most old fashioned flavour, favourably compared to DMZ in numerous publications, and with good reason. This EP mines similar territory to their last two, blending the dub filled, rich bass sound of the darkest Digital Mystikz releases of yesteryear with a healthy dose of world influence; largely that of traditional Eastern instrumentation. The obvious standout for this Eastern inflection is the marvellous No Fixed Abode production 'Indian Street Slang' alongside the tribal/techno frisson of Double Helix' 'Supreme Architecture'. All the tracks off this EP have seen major action on the likes of both Sub & Rinse FM, with support from the likes of Blackdown and regular tastemaker Brackles. With an album rumoured to in the pipe for the near future let's hope they are working on a timescale, which unlike their first two EP's, isn't apparently twinned with the pace of a glacial shift. Faster boys! Shovel more coal!

Lastly, but of coursely, never leastly this weekly, comes 'Memories On Afrocentrism' courtesy of Romare on the ever dependent Black Acre label. If you've checked this column over the past year or so you'll remember BA dropped numerous audio gems from the likes of Blue Daisy, Fantastic Mr Fox and Hyetal to name but three in days gone by. Romare's newest EP comes from the rhythmic end of the bass/dubstep/whoreallycareswhat genre, frequently occupied by labels such as Hessle Audio and Hemlock, and this release is quite capable of standing alongside those acclaimed pair. Opener 'Freedom (Aspirations Of A Prisoner)' is a bouncing, sample laden throb of a cut, rich in complexity similar to the off kilter bounce of Untold's finest works. Throughout there is a rich vein of Afrocentric sampling, from the jazz funk flute licks of 'The Blues (It Began In Africa)' to the low slung bass of 'Down The Line (It Takes A Number)'. This EP is a truly scholastic cut, and is a genuine showcase for a rich variety of African origin musical styles, all of which are expertly filtered through a modern bass aesthetic. Black Acre has been cutting a thoroughly unique path through bass music's undergrowth for some time and releases such as this are only speeding up their positive growth. They're like Charlie Dimmock in dub... Well maybe they are nothing like an English fishwife who lets her funbags hang out but nonetheless, go and buy this record!

Remember, if you want to randomly receive info on other audio trinkets (admittedly its about 76% REO Speedwagon & Isaac Hayes related posts) along with torrents of Little Chef abuse (the puffy white crook) you can find me on Twitter @LowendLowlife too my darlings!

Until next time, which I cannot guarantee will be on time...