The Fourth Wave label is utterly disgusted by the smooth edges overpopulating house music, which is why many of their releases feel like a tangy breath of fresh air. Their standard bearer, the enigmatic and frustratingly young Gerry Read, laughed uproariously in the face of club music cleanliness throughout his Jummy LP. The result was uncompromisingly rugged house, where rhythms were happy to be buried in a slurry of other sounds, remaining all the more intriguing for it.
Thankfully, this year starts in a similarly obnoxious, similarly enticing vein with the label’s newly signed Greek sensation Dimitras Dimas (a.k.a. “∆ ∆” a.k.a. “Delta Delta” a.k.a. “two triangles next to each other”). “You,” cut from an EP due in February, replaces conventional drums with spurts of grit, hosts some heavily driven lung work, and has a nice cowbell. Can you really ask for much more ?
• Fourth Wave: https://soundcloud.com/fourth-wave
“Working Man’s Dub”
Boasting a list of associated acts that couldn’t be more essential in totting up some of the gravest and the most daring electronic musicians of recent years, Nottingham’s RAMMEL CLUB has worked with the fine likes of Aaron Dilloway, Prurient, and Kevin Drumm in making a name for itself as a proprietor of “visionary global music” across the East Midlands. In late 2012, the club became aligned with the not-so-fresh-faced micro-label Feral Tapes, which has already taken a page out of its reputable affiliate’s book and issued offerings by Ekoplekz and Roro Perrot.
Once every so often, an understated, low-key recording will make a marked and lasting impression on its audience. The latest Ekoplekz offering fast emerged as one of my favorite cassette releases of last year, despite the unmapped domain through which it has been made available, or perhaps even as a consequence of it. Described by Feral as a “diseased split,” it features five scrunched-up and contorted industrial dub tracks by Nick Edwards under his Ekoplekz moniker. It also features a congealed, 17-minute dub and noise contortion in the guise of a forbidding homage to Italian experimental pioneer Maurizio Bianchi — that track is also performed by Edwards operating under the cloak of his Ensemble Skalectrik project. It is an exceptional effort and a seeming masterstroke by the fledgling label in putting out something so exceptional as an initiatory work. Listen to “Working Man’s Dub” here:
“Built Pyramids” [ft. Large Professor]
Hip-hop law states that, in a given year, at least one major rapper must change his name. 2011 was the year of Mos Def’s transformation into Yasiin Bey, while 2012 will be remembered for Snoop’s evolution from a Dogg to a Lion. And now, less than a week into 2k13, we’ve got another name switch on our hands. Veteran Queens rapper N.O.R.E. (Niggaz On the Run Eatin’) has adopted the new title P.A.P.I. (Power Always Proves Intelligence). While Noreaga’s moniker may have changed, his flow’s just the same as ever. On “Built Pyramids,” a cut off his upcoming Student of the Game LP, P.A.P.I. effortlessly fires away punchline after witty punchline (featured couplet: “I know Jamaicans on drugs/ Call them cocoa heads”) over a brash, brassy guitar riff, with support from fellow New Yorker (and Nas’ mentor), Large Professor.
“Gold On My Macbook Freestyle”
“I’m the greatest rapper alive up in my mind, I guess.” This may just be the defining quote between who can release music on a monthly or yearly basis, and someone like Stephen Redhead, who has more of an inconsistent release schedule, releasing tracks on the level of “Gold On My Macbook Freestyle.” Yes, this is Readhead freestyling over that mixtape track “Gold On My Macbook” by Trinidad James. And not to throw shade, since it’s January and that shit would be COLD, but Redhead’s track reminds me of riding in my car, trying to rap to whatever beat is playing on my stereo. Which is neat, in a way that Redhead had (maybe) no intention of referencing.
But “Gold On My Macbook Freestyle” is probably a good sense of what you may be receiving in the new year. Y’all can purchase his single “White Talk” now. And as his email to me said, “Expect very interesting things from this artist in the months to come.” I mean, at least he’s not telling you he’s rare or his shit is a collector’s item, right? Respect to that!
• Redhead: http://redhead.bandcamp.com
“Ball So Hard” / “Trippy 13’ (High Out Yo Mind)”
DJ Earl (#TEKLIFE practitioner and Traxman collaborator) is set to drop a new album, Audio Fixx 2, the follow-up to last year’s Audio Fixx (which was lovingly written up by TMT in-patient C Monster). Earl has already released two previews from the album: “Trippy 13’ (High Out Yo Mind),” which continues the TEKLIFE vibe with a minor-key battle feel, and “Ball So Hard,” a harder, club-ready juke joint. Both are classic Earl, but the subtle twist that happens roughly halfway through “Ball So Hard” is cold as fukk.
“Ball So Hard”:
“Trippy 13’ (High Out Yo Mind)”:
Look for Audio Fixx 2 on March 19.
• DJ Earl: http://soundcloud.com/djearlteckz
Ninguém É Como Tu - Reworks
In his recent interview with Maria Minerva, Ze Pequeno divulged a justifiable inkling that Lisbon, Praça dos Restauradores in particular, is becoming the new Berlin, a continental hub of creative energy that pulls and pushes impending talent in a range of fervent, unrestrained directions. With a sudden flurry of musicians swinging by Portugal to record albums and write fresh material, combined with a blossoming collective of local practitioners crafting reputations for themselves as resolute, enterprising producers, it came as little surprise to stumble across projects such as Branches, lingering discreetly under the surface in the country’s second city, Porto.
Pedro Rios has been dropping experimental soundscapes for Solid Melts and UUU Tapes (RIP) over the course of the past six years, with his latest solo outing, Ninguém É Como Tu, hitting virtual shelves in January 2012 and consequentially landing him a spot on microphonesinthetrees’ top cassette releases of the year.
More recently, Rios uploaded Ninguém É Como Tu - reworks for free on his Bandcamp. The album features a slew of equally intriguing Portuguese artists and their interpretations of Branches’ irresistible New Age electronic jams, making this a quintessential release for coming to terms with what is happening on the Iberian peninsula right now. It seems Ze Pequeno was onto something.