Joe Bowden: Roots – Tales of the Urban Yoda (self-released, 2020)

March 31, 2021 at 8:49 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Joe Bowden: Roots – Tales of the Urban Yoda

A vivid mixture of more straightforward jazz-funk, fusion, and R&B. “Doodlin'” is more fusion-y and has some more complex time sigs, but “Groovin’ High” is more laid back and flowing. “Sentimental” is a lovely soul-jazz tune, maybe a bit of a Crusaders vibe. Not sure why the singer isn’t credited on the packaging anywhere. “Second Skin” ramps up slightly closer to fusion. “The Golden Rule” opens with a drum solo, and the rest of the track is a bit more solo-heavy than others on the album. “Jazz Dayz” is definitely trickier and more fusion-y. “The Seventies” is a horn-heavy bop with some funky keyboards too. “All for You” has one of the catchiest horn melodies here, plus some nimble bass guitar. “Bustin’ Loose”, again, nice horns, kinda tricky rhythms, just a generally positive, driving sound.

Xentone: The Raver GF Experience (Degenerate Trifecta, 2020)

March 28, 2021 at 12:13 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Xentone: The Raver GF Experience

This 75-minute album seems to be a manifesto for the artist’s own brand of minimal dance music, dubbed “nunurave” (not to be confused with the justly forgotten “nu-rave” fad from around 2006). The tracks mix up styles, but generally consist of effective club tools which explore fun, ear-catching sounds. The titles are never too ambitious, simply describing sounds or samples heard in the tracks. Several songs share words in their titles and sounds/sonic elements, so they can be a bit samey, but that just gives the album the continuity of a DJ mix or live set. Starting off with the slow, choppy electro of “Acid Slip 004 Laster Tag Ravers”, the album moves into the minimal but big-bassed techno of “The Numbers”. “Acid Dip003 Nunu” is a mix of early ’90s rave (Hoovers, 2 Unlimited samples) with more modern EDM. “Deep Think” is sort of a pun, mixing that BDP “I think very deeply” sample into a deep house-ish track. “Bouncy House” turns K7’s “Come Baby Come” into a big-room stormer with a Dutch house bent. “Acid Trip 005 Microrave” is midtempo, trippy, a bit eerie, and has kind of a lo-fi dembow bounce to it. “Look At Her Butt” has no ambition other than to have fun with the exact sample you would expect (the intro to “Baby Got Back”). “Acid Drop” is one of the better, more progressive club tracks here, mixing rave stabs heavy Euro-drama. “Acid Dip009 Egyptian After Party” definitely lives up to its title, with Middle Eastern-inspired melodies and lots of wayward synth fx freakery. “Dancer” has glitchy disco samples and Chemical Brothers-like breaks and fx. “Acid Dip002 Nunushoes” chops up an “Apache” breakbeat and slices in some more rave synths, then gets feisty with a “don’t fuck with me” attitude. “Shorty Bang” is a bit more smoothed out than its title suggests but still has some complexity and some swing to its rhythm.

Jihee Heo: Are You Ready? (OA2 Records, 2021)

March 27, 2021 at 2:56 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Jihee Heo: Are You Ready?

South Korean pianist/composer Jihee Heo’s new album is a brisk yet refined set of eight compositions charting the progress she’s made so far as an artist. A graduate from the Manhattan School of Music, she’s been a part of the NYC music scene for a decade. After considering making this album for a while, she finally took the plunge after re-reading a passage from Art Spirit by Robert Henry, stating that no one can be final, but they can record their progress, and their work can guide others on their path. An excerpt from the passage is spoken throughout the opening title track, as Heo’s piano gracefully dances around the rhythm section of bassist Marty Kenney and drummer Rodney Green. “Blurring the Rules” starts out sparse and bluesy, but soon gets up to dance, frequently changing steps and showing off different moves. The Latin-tinged “Dancing in the Sorrow” and dusky “Dark and Light” both have titles that reflect the mixture of joy and sadness expressed in the music. The most striking cut is “Trust”, which features rapper Saidu Ezike delivering lyrics written by Heo about her frustrations as an Asian female living in New York. Then a song called “Oh, New York” seems to express hope and an appreciation for having the opportunity to live and work in the city, despite the toxicity.

Show #575 – 3/27/21

March 27, 2021 at 1:56 am | Posted in The Answer Is In The Beat | Leave a comment

Teno Afrika & SilvadropZ ~ Smooth Criminal
Bamba Pana ~ Barafu
Shmu ~ € (F-Zero Hero) 🥝 Fiction As The Greatest force🚀
WULFFLUW XCIV ~ Nyege Digital Immersion
Tim Reaper ~ Teletext
Denzel Curry x Kenny Beats ~ Track07 (Georgia Anne Muldrow Version feat. Arlo Parks)
Barra Brown ~ NOAH
Kutmah ~ Centenarians
Tom Zé ~ Dói
Kindohm ~ IG
Ghédalia Tazartès ~ Assassins 2
FRKTL ~ Dread Aversion
Gabber Modus Operandi ~ Mercury Singeli
Gescom ~ Is We
Jesusbeams ~ Ghosts of Breakbeats
8Ball ~ Many Shapes

The MFA: Oranges And Lemons 12″ EP (Traum Schallplatten, 2021)

March 25, 2021 at 11:20 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

The MFA: Oranges & Lemons 12″ EP

The former Border Community and Bpitch Control duo return on Traum with their first release since 2009. “Oranges And Lemons” seems to glitch up the synths from Origin Unknown’s “Valley of the Shadows” to a jittery tech-house beat, and that totally works for me. Extrawelt take the same track and add a bit more kick to the beat, and maybe a little more dazzle to the synths, but don’t take it too far out of orbit (the original was great to begin with). “Panacea” is tart, bubbly, and fizzy, and a little offbeat since the snares are on the ones and threes along with the 4/4 kicks, but somehow it’s not as distracting as you’d expect. “One Way” is a deep glider with some slightly prickly synths and warm melodies. A stellar comeback.

DJ Black Low: Uwami (Awesome Tapes From Africa, 2021)

March 25, 2021 at 10:51 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

DJ Black Low: Uwami

I’ve been really feeling what I’ve been hearing from South Africa’s amapiano scene lately. Teno Afrika’s stripped-down instrumental release Amapiano Selections (digitally released last year, now available physically) got me into it, and Sun-El Musician has done some absolutely beautiful things with the sound in more of a pop context. The first album from DJ Black Low does have a variety of guest vocalists, but it’s a lot rougher and more homegrown than what’s currently conquering the charts and airwaves throughout Africa now, and he also tweaks things and adds some weirder sounds than Teno Afrika does. The sound is generally an easy midtempo beat with shakers and syncopated drums, and percussive yet melodic bass, as well as pianos and high-pitched keyboard melodies. It’s sort of deep house, sort of kwaito, sort of a less tense gqom, but ultimately something all its own. The tracks with guests vocalists Licy Jay are standouts, but it’s hard to disagree with anything here. Definitely looking forward to hearing more stuff like this, and how artists like Black Low push the style further.

v/a: Trilogy Vol. 2 (Mean Streets, 2021)

March 25, 2021 at 10:28 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

v/a: Trilogy Vol. 2

I’ll say right now that I am totally up for a full-on ’00s-era dubstep revival. This one has a few familiar names to anyone who was following grime/sublow/etc. about 15 years ago (Kromestar, D.O.K, P Jam) and it retains that vibe without sounding stuck in a time warp. Boylan’s “Book of the Dead” starts it off nice and evil, with Psycho-tic strings and an especially sinister use of that “Hello, lover” sample. Trends’ “Slap” is bejeweled with an outward spiraling sequence, while the beat is straight-up rough business. Silas’ “Source” is more on an antsy, duck-and-dodge grime tip. D.O.K’s “I Am Eternal” also has Norman Bates vibes, but with complex trappy beats that are on the attack. “Alien Encounter” by P Jam starts off with a news report about “Hot Jupiters”, but the track itself, while minimal, is strangely tropical due to its percussion. The next two selections, by Trends & Boylan and Kromestar, are big, menacing sumo wrestler tracks. Lastly, P Jam and D.O.K’s “Funky Nandos” is a bit more jumpy and playful, with canned horns and skidding tires adding more color to the bouncy rhythm.

Toshiyuki Hiraoka: Waterphone II (Edgetone Records, 2021)

March 23, 2021 at 11:43 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Toshiyuki Hiraoka: Waterphone II

Horror movie soundtrack composer and experimental music veteran has utilized the waterphone in his film scores, and this is his second studio album created with the unique instrument. To be honest, most of the films he’s worked on look pretty terrible, but this album sounds incredible. With the help from some electronics, he gets lots of bizarre, vaporous sounds from these instruments, sometimes resembling melodic feedback, even eerily approaching the human voice at times. It’s easy to hear how these tones could be used in scary/creepy movies, but they work fascinatingly well on their own. Only a few moments sound close to drumming, like “Reason”, and several tracks have rhythms produced with looping devices. The definite highlight is “Nothing”, which just sings out and stays in my head long after I’m done listening. “Maboroshi” has textures that sound like a weightless grime track. The album flashes its way into the void with the brief “Dethaw”. Marvelous work.

v/a: Break Corps 2 (Norm Corps, 2021)

March 22, 2021 at 8:29 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

v/a: Break Corps 2

As someone who’s been into breakcore ever since DHR’s heyday, I’m always curious about the current state of the genre, and if anyone’s actually doing anything new and innovative with a loosely defined style that’s nearly three decades old at this point. This comp doesn’t really suggest that any seismic shifts have happened within the past decade, but as long as one has a taste for big, stoopid breaks and rapidfire samples, the formula still has its charms. Ravey synths and lo-bit chiptune textures never seem to go out of style in this field, and somehow people are still getting mileage out of that “Babylon Bwoy” sample. CDR is the oldest-school artist here, and his videogame-ish track is typically fun and explosive. Kazuma Matsui’s two appearances are more like math-rock songs with breakbeats, which is a bit refreshing. Golden Boy’s “Connect the Dots” starts out sounding like classic gabber, but quickly downs some happy pills. Another track takes Technohead’s “I Wanna Be a Hippy”, showers it in distortion, and bonks it over the head with a comically large cartoon hammer for a while. NANORAY continues their run of super joyous, neon-flashy releases with two more fun tracks. goreshit’s “mina” is one of the more refined, ambitious, and even serious tracks here, but it still has a hopeful drive to it. Two shorter tracks near the end douse anime/J-pop tunes in ear-bleeding distortion and violent breakbeats. So yeah, nothing drastically setting this apart from internet breakcore comps from a decade ago, but I’m a sucker for this stuff so it’s all fine with me, especially if it’s a name-your-price DL.

Nickolas Mohanna & Matt Schulz: Automatic (Run/Off Editions / bs,bta, 2021)

March 21, 2021 at 12:30 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Nickolas Mohanna & Matt Schulz: Automatic

Guitarist Nickolas Mohanna and drummer Matt Schulz team up for two lengthy rhythmic explorations. “Jump Cut” is on the more minimal side of Krautrock, with Mohanna’s guitars flickering and simmering in a very disciplined manner while Schulz sort of embellishes the rhythm rather than provide a strong, commanding beat. It all seems to walk a very taut line until the last minute or so, when it all lets loose and becomes free. “End-Cab Switcher” picks right up from this thread, and here the drums dart around while the guitars multiply and expand outward. Slides and scrapes across the fretboard and the momentary wheezing of a harmonica help sustain the momentum. Early on it seems like the calmer side of free jazz, but it gradually gets more intense, to the point where it’s more of a whirlwind than you might even realize.

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