All posts for the month November, 2014

She's Nice - Tom Flynn (Poker Flat)“She’s Nice” is Tom Flynn‘s first outing with the Poker Flat Recordings gang. It’s a versatile track, easily placed on either side of a set’s peak. Throughout, effected vocal samples drift in and out of focus, while subtle percussion and rolling pads gently suggest a foray to the tech-house-propelled dancefloor.

You can grab a copy on Beatport as part of the Four Jacks, Pt. 1 – 15 Years of Poker Flat compilation.

Flynn’s work is a perfect fit for Poker Flat, but he is no stranger to such methods: He’s released tracks on Mobilee, VIVa, Circus, and Dirtybird, to name a few. He recently nabbed some props from Pete Tong, and his tunes often wind up in DJ sets from Richie Hawtin, Jamie Jones, and Dennis Ferrer.

Check out more of Tom’s music on Facebook and SoundCloud.

My first rave was in the early ’90s, so it’s fair to say that The Prodigy’s music was playing during a sizable chunk of my youth. I can still remember hearing “Voodoo People” for the first time. Those techno-laden breakbeats will always have a place in my heart, so my interest was piqued when I learned of the new side project by Prodigy MC and DJ, Maxim.

Maxim and Cianna BlazeAfter two previous solo endeavors and a string of releases with We Are Noize cohorts, Maxim has teamed up with vocalist and fellow MC, Cianna Blaze, to deliver Animal Anger. This blistering four-track EP builds upon grime, trap, and dubstep to forge a genre he calls “industrial trap”.

It’s abundantly clear that whatever the label that settles upon Maxim’s work, the basslines are staggering, the rapid percussion is intense, and the gangster rap influence looms large.

Maxim has made it clear that he’s certainly not leaving The Prodigy. He recently told Music Radar and Q Magazine that the crew is currently working on a new album, and will perform at the 2015 Future Music Festival in Australia. He also spoke to Insomniac about Animal Anger and his prevailing interest in various forms of bass music.

Animal Anger - MaximIf you’re a fan of The Prodigy, or enjoy music from the grime, dubstep, and trap genres, I encourage you to visit Maxim’s Wavo page to hear Animal Anger and download all four tracks free of charge.

All you have to do is follow Maxim on SoundCloud.

And you’ll even get “Lucky Bitch” as a bonus track.


Two If By Sea

Loscil - Sea Island (Kranky)As a fan of Loscil for over a decade now, I was thoroughly excited to learn that a new album would be released this month (Kranky). Scott Morgan ably delivers, his production technique uncanny in its ability to layer emotionally-charged dub and ambient elements with subtle hints of techno. There’s a welcomed tendency for Loscil selections to devolve into bleakness and then, via dense textures and instrumentation, bring the listener abruptly back into the sunlight. Listen closely to discern familiar tones of pianos and vibraphones dancing about violins and vocals.

Most of the Sea Island compositions were road-tested at Morgan’s various live engagements, but a handful are fresh from the studio. Morgan teased the first track via the Kranky SoundCloud account in September, and followed with a YouTube video in early November.

I’m in love with this album and must highly recommend it to you. The way Sea Island lulls and haunts, with massive tonal structures that envelope and maintain a persistent grip until the shuddering end of its melancholy tale. I could listen to this album over and over, and I have.

I found a copy at Bleep and was, in the meantime, sated with a streaming version on Google Play.

Here are some thoughts regarding Sea Island from Brainwashed, FACT, Resident Advisor, and Tiny Mix Tapes.

Really excited for this upcoming event. To close out 2014, one of my favorite Chicago artists just announced her upcoming show: An exhibit of her melted crayon paintings. The best part is, it’s taking place at one of my favorite local watering holes: The legendary Village Tap!

sarabritton.comSara Britton uses a variety of techniques, from acrylic to mixed media, but I’m encouraged that she’s focusing on the melted crayon technique for this show. To date, aside from her space-inspired efforts, these pieces have garnered the most acclaim. When I spoke to Sara about the show and what pushed her to pursue this phase in her career, she gave heartfelt thanks to her junior high art teacher, who she claims “taught me everything from brainstorming, to pushing limits and working with different mediums”.

Check out the selected works of Sara Britton at The Village Tap: Dec. 1, 2014 through Jan 31, 2015.

See more art from Sara at her online shop and her Etsy shop.


Gaiser is Back

Gaiser has a new album out on Minus called False Light.

Gaiser - False LightI picked up a copy on Beatport. It’s another solid release filled with classic Gaiser sounds and rhythms, but he’s thrown in a few subtle twists. For example, check out the funk and synth work on “Reflekts,” or the eerie, jack-inspired house music on “Dirty Tricks” and “Spillage”. Or the jarring, synth-fueled ambient tune (“Way Out”) that Gaiser uses to close the album.

While I would have been satisfied with a steady, predictable Gaiser EP, it’s encouraging to hear some adventurous efforts on False Light.

Gaiser’s live performances always stand out. As a longtime fan of Richie Hawtin, I must admit that each time I’ve seen him perform with Gaiser as the opener, it’s Gaiser who steals the show. Maybe it’s a master/grasshopper sort of situation.

Gaiser’s currently on tour with visual artist, Ahmet Said Kaplan, and here’s some footage.

Hundred Waters - Down From The RaftersI missed Hundred Waters again. Every Chicago appearance by this amazing band eludes me. Pretty sad about it.

Hundred Waters never fails to impress. The same can be said about their current slate of remixers: Tim Hecker, Huxley, and The Field. Since I missed their November show, as a consolation prize I listened to the Down From the Rafters remix EP on shuffle and repeat for an entire afternoon.

“Down From The Rafters” is a song featured on 2014’s critically-acclaimed The Moon Rang Like a Bell album,

Watch Hundred Waters play “Animal” live.

Here’s another addition to the ‘still-diggin’-it’ category: Max Graef’s remix of Mr. Scruff’s “We Are Coming,” and Scruff’s own remix of “Feel Free” (Ninja Tune).

Mr. Scruff - We Are ComingI love the rolling percussion that Graef employs, with keys and horn stabs reminiscent of early ‘90s house music. It’s a relatively new tune, but somehow, it takes me back. Added bonus: It’s the ‘extended club mix’ without even saying so.

The Scruff “Re-tweak” of “Feel Free” is my favorite. It chugs along while the various strings weave elegant tapestries without losing the free jazz ethos. The horn and the flute are hardly bit players. This whole mix just jams, but there’s so much deep house underpinning the percussive element that it’s a joy to listen to over and over again.

Get a copy here.

EMPRSS - DOWNI am still digging this Emprss tune a month later.

Ralph Allan’s vocals are perfectly matched by the production techniques employed by Leo Crossing and Johnny Goddard. There’s a soundtrack quality to “Down”, which is the single teasing the 2015 Empress album.

A chase scene, an opening or closing theme…the beats and rhythms form a brooding juggernaut that invites Allan’s pained delivery of equally dark lyrics.

Andreya Triana - Everything You Never Had Pt. III first heard Andreya Triana via Bonobo when they dropped “The Keeper” in 2009 (from Black Sands). Her Ninja Tune debut, Lost Where I Belong, was a longtime favorite–didn’t leave the rotation for a while. I was lucky enough to catch them both live when the North Borders tour came to Chicago.

Triana’s new EP, Everything You Never Had Pt. II, is out now on Counter and her new album drops in 2015. I can’t recommended this enough, and there’s even a Lapalux remix.

Submotion Orchestra - Alium

The room’s reaction was rapid and confident. “This is the new Bonobo, right?”

No, but close.

Other guesses included “this must be Jazzanova” and “sounds like Cinematic Orchestra to me”.

I was happy to explain that it was Submotion Orchestra we listening to that evening. Those earlier guesses were easily forgiven: This fusion of bass-driven electronica, jazz, and soul is championed by some notable others.

But the veteran 7-piece band from Leeds has deftly used these common threads to deliver Alium, a solid follow-up to 2012’s Fragments. Soul music with big bass and garage-tempo rhythms. Classic ‘90s R&B with acid jazz and dubstep characteristics. There are moments of epic bass music and then, suddenly, I’m nostalgic for my favorite R&B songs.

Alium is out now on Counter (I am loving this label right now). I hope they tour for the album and make it to Chicago. I would love to hear “Time Will Wait” live.