Guess who’s back, back again. Abjekt’s back, tell a friend. It’s that time again when I come back and tell you all exactly what sort of hip hop you should be listening to and then threaten to beat you around the face with one of Moose’s old flea-bitten flannel shirts [sorry, it’s not flea-bitten “it’s fucking Levi’s that!”]. Right, onwards:
Record Of The Month
BLOCKHEAD – Uncle Tony’s Coloring Book
Aesop Rock’s best mate and producer extraordinaire is back with another solo album but this time he speeds things up a little bit. Explaining the album, the New Yorker explained he wanted this album’s tracks to be at least 100 bpm though he said wasn’t necessarily making a “happy” album.
Like always with Blockhead though, above everything, his beats are fucking good. His previous album, Downtown Science wasn’t amazing, especially compared to his incredible Music By Cavelight, but Uncle Tony’s Coloring Book is a return to form. The opening track, Coloring Book begins with a sample telling the listener “this is going to be fun” and they’re not wrong.
His drums are sublime on every song and that is what makes him such a treat to listen to and he proves he can do something different when he brings in some eastern flavour on Grape Nuts And Chalk Sauce which is reminiscent of C-Mon & Kypski’s Circus. Duke Of Hazzard brings in the blues, Get Your Regal On kicks it brass-heavy style and the superb closer NYC Bounce gives it some guitars and muted trumpet to finish off an experimental yet vastly enjoyable album.
SIXTOO – Jackals And Vipers In Envy Of Man
Canada’s Sixtoo is someone who I always wanted to be given more credit. He gets his plaudits, for sure, but for someone so talented not to be mentioned all the time is a crime. So it’s great that he’s putting this record out on Ninja Tune and hopefully it will bring him the applause he so rightly deserves.
The album is supposed to be listened to from start to finish as a complete composition and the atmospherics he brings out lull you into a state of pure catatonic bliss. Electronically orientated, his beats warrant turning all the lights off and closing your eyes so you can fully soak up all the sounds that are zooming in from every angle.
It’s a dark album, certainly not one to boogie down to, but Sixtoo does what he’s always done so well and that’s create a soundscape so bold and complex that you have no choice but to listen to every last note to full appreciate what the producer has done. Simply put, this album is amazing.
DAEDELUS – Fair Weather Friends EP
When I think of Daedelus, I think of what the press release describes perfectly – “baroque electronic music”. So when I put this new EP into the player and heard the title track pump out chirpy melodies combined with bouncing drums and hand claps, I was not only surprised but delighted.
He then goes on to switch it up again with some R&B style vocals over a guttural grimey beat which continues with the head-shaking bassline Hermitage and speedy cymbal hits. This could easily be thrown into a club mix to get people on their feet and putting their hands in the air.
So with this EP, which features two other tracks, Alfred Darlington has complete re-invented his sound and includes so many twists and turns that you’ll get dizzy trying to figure out where he’s going next. My advice? Stop thinking and get dancing y’all.
KONGEROR – Short Tape, Dope Break
Kongeror, out of Phoenix, Arizona is a rapper I was lucky enough to see when I was last over in Minneapolis when he opened at the Carnage album release show and whilst I was over there Kon gave me his CDr which came all the way back to London with me.
Now, I could go on about how great his dark soundscapes but that might only lead you to think of acts like Grayskul and I don’t want to lead you in that direction. What makes Kon’s sound so great is that whilst his beats sound understated at first listen, they draw you in and by the end of the CD, you can’t get to the repeat button quick enough. Lyrically tight, Kon is a rapper to look out for, so head over to his myspace and get acquainted.
M.I.A. – Kala
M.I.A launched herself into the public eye a couple of years ago with her very unique sound, giving people the chance to hear her views on her childhood spent between Sri Lanka and London. And now she’s back, as she says in opening track Bamboo Banga : “M.I.A.’s coming back with power, power” with her distinctive vocals.
What is particularly good about this album is the percussion, something helped in part by the awesome producing skills of Switch and Diplo and in part by the use of booming sounds like the Indian drums on BirdFlu. Throughout the album you find yourself propelled by the thunderous pummelling of drums, which is perfect for getting you up on your feet.
The stand out track for me is XR2, with Diplo’s pounding beat and typically squashed horns, providing a party backdrop for the rapper to talk over in a manner which indicates that she’s a bit mashed.
My only problem with M.I.A. is her voice. Whilst it is distinctive and fresh, I just can’t get into her delivery and it’s a shame because I think this album’s beats are a massive step up from Arular and I want to like it, but I just find myself getting a bit annoyed wishing there was another rapper over it.
FINK – Distance And Time
Ninja Tune seems like a bit of a strange home for Fink, a singer who has enlisted Andy Barlow from Lamb to look after production duties on this album. Regardless of the label though, this album is what I have come to expect from Fink. This album is full of tunes for that lazy afternoon when you just went to sit back and have something chill on.
Being compared to Jose Gonzalez could possible be quite a daunting thing but though there are some similarities, Fink’s music has that little edge to it that makes it stand out from the rest of these similar artists. The sound is a lot bigger and has more depth to it than that of Gonzalez and the like, whilst still being able to focus on Fink’s hazy voice. This could appeal to a lot of different people and hopefully it will as this is an album that deserves a listen.
KID ACNE – Romance Ain’t Dead
You remember back in the day when you had really bad ear wax and your mum took you to the doctor who pumped a load of hot water in your lug hole and made out like that was going to make it better but in fact just made it feel like you were underwater and about to be sick? Yeah? Well that seems to be the problem with the person who has described Kid Acne as a British Beastie Boy.
I could go through this record track by track by I feel it can be summed up in a very quick, easy way – Despite being on Lex and having some semblance of credibility on the scene, Kid Acne is more or less half a step removed from Goldie Lookin’ Chain.
And that’s it. Next…
THE DUB PISTOLS F. RODNEY P & TERRY HALL – Peaches [Single]
Peaches by The Stranglers is a sure fire classic, everyone knows that. But if you’re going to rinse it, then there’s no-one better to get on the vocals than Rodney P. The rapper always manages to bring the sunshine to the room even in this wet, shit and grey summer we’ve had this year.
There’s not much else to say about this really. It’s dope, the Dub Pistols give it that hip hop edge and the Hammond organ plays the melody straight into your memory and sticks around as Rodders tells us he’s a man “who’s got a fetish for a peach and not a plum.” What a don.
MARK RONSON F. AMY WINEHOUSE – Valerie [Single]
Another single from the New York producer as his take on The Zutons’ track makes it way into my player. Whilst I’m a fan of Winehouse’s voice and don’t dislike this song, it’s not one which is going to stay in my player for a long time. You get what you expect from Ronson these days, Stax sounding horns and those same drums he’s used to good effect on the rest of the album, but that’s about it.
Look out for the Sinden remix though, which is a certified badboy of a track. The DJs signature pouding basslines come straight to the fore with some nice effects thrown in to keep you interested as you dance. Sinden can do absolutely no wrong in my book at the moment and he is a good reason to pick this single up.
BUMBLEBEEZ – Dr Love [Single]
Comparing something to Gorillaz is a bold move. As a Damon Albarn fanboy, I take this sort of comparison very seriously with both my eyes squinted and my finger ready to be wagged in a telling-off kind of way. So with my finger posed for action, I pressed play on this single from Chris Colonna and Pia.
I can see where this Gorillaz thing comes from as it does sound a little like [that single] with the high pitched girl rapping over the top and a nice dancey beat for the summer that we haven’t had. And hey, if Annie Mac digs it, it can’t be all that bad now can it?
With remixes from A-Trak [bassy, chunky and awesome] and Architecture In Helsinki [all over the fucking shop] backing the original, it’s one to check out for 2008.
This month’s art comes from The Blind, an artist that puts up braille on the walls of his cities around the country.
It’s not only a fresh idea, but the finished result looks fucking awesome and with his myspace giving you a guide to the letters, it’s fun trying to decipher what has been put up.
This is exactly the kind of original art that needs to be celebrated so get on it people!
Right, that’s it for this month but I’ve already got some amazing stuff coming my way for the next lot of reviews, including the 10 Year Anniversary celebration of Big Dada, definitely one of the best labels out there. Until then, keep listening to beats, keep grogging the streets and sucking those teets [whatever, it rhymed].