wHYY am I writing about Kendrick Lamar? The only two things I said about him last year were, “With a name like that, the fellah must be Spanish,” and “What’s so important about his new album?” Oh – no, no, I know what it is… it’s the dude in the middle of this jam smoking and singing. Is OTHER PEOPLE what Kendrick Lamar is all about? How many people did he feature on his new album? Am I into this beat? Sure. Well, okay I AM. It’s minimal enough, yeah. And I’m listening to it now, and now — again. Nice. The flow IS nice. Shit! I hate you, Keith. LOVE this switch-back ass bounce in the video too. Good, my innate tie-in here is that every time I see dat ass bounce its way back into this video, I’ll think about Keith. YES!
And right there with it: I LOVE the Eiffel Tower, you know. Like, if I didn’t think it were a giant phallic object in the first place, I thank Kendrick Lamar for telling and not showing, especially in this video. Also, his album is out already and got on almost errrbody’s top album lists of 2012. You be the judge of your own ears!
So it turns out that Holly Herndon is by no means the only person doing utterly obscene things with vocals. Antye Greie-Ripatti has been releasing vocal-based work for around a decade now, studying and working with the path-breaking composer Eliane Radigue. Source Voice, released on Richard Chartier’s LINE imprint, fills the entire frequency spectrum with terrifying squeals, industrial trills, and comically deep sub-bass. The array of sounds on display and the drama with which they are employed allow AGF to sidestep the dangers of academic boredom. This is just as well, because once she has you in her grasp, AGF provides an engaging and at times overwhelming chunk of vocal complexity.
Listen to “Voice Count” here:
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