Grime is a complex genre: it’s dance music, but somehow not quite. It can sound like hip-hop, yet it can function completely without MCs. For the first track on Madam X’s curated compilation Kaizen Movements Vol. 1 (stream here!), Her Records producer Sudanim delivers straight-up, no-frills instrumental grime with “Sideman.” And it makes complete sense. The compilation features both instrumental grime and grime featuring MCs, as well as very clubby and very un-clubby grime, but “Sideman” lives in an in-between space: not too clubby, but still clubby, instrumental but featuring a breath sample (and I’m a sucker for sexy breath samples). There is something both futuristic and very archaic about the track; martians landing on Earth during the Mesozoic era, perhaps. I love grime producers who trust just a few well-produced sounds. In an age where lots of dance music has a ton of fluff, it’s nice to hear a track that can do the job alone with just a few good beats and synths. And while grime can be appreciated track by track, I think, like all club music, it shines most fully in a set, where instrumental grime, grime with MCs, and, in many cases, early 2000s R&B, can all live together in a happy polyamorous marriage.
49 - 0a9v - S-a - Sjsjj - Sjs - S-sa
Susan Balmar a.k.a. Suzie-Q a.k.a. Balm-Squad a.k.a. indexof/sampler head honcho and all-around reptilian overlord posted a live mix the other week, and it’s taken me since then to muster up the gumption to finally sit down and write about it. I still haven’t come up with anything worthwhile to say, though, and not because I haven’t tried or because the mix is unremarkable; just the opposite is true. So I decided instead of me gabbing about how we all must harness his fractured take on modern life, that you should just listen to the mix below and make something up for yourself. Best of luck, pal.
2. chushi - blue face
3. Wolfgang Stadele - Collector’s Item
4. Susan Balmar - _92 v0a sjzkla jss s s f f f IIII
5. Jazztrack - Mother Lou
6. Luis Cília - Goodbye Macau
7. K. Miho & Jazz Eleven - Iwazaru
8. Justin Scharvona - Buck Bumble
9. Luis Cília - A Insustentável Certeza Do Ser
10. Susan Balmar - elueuelueelu
• indexof/sampler: https://soundcloud.com/slf-tapes
“Life Is Good”
Somewhere between cloud rap, vaporwave, and nerd-hop resides the idiosyncratic Canadian rapper Young Braised (real name: Jaymes Bowman), one of the more interesting and unusual acts to put out a cassette on the Vancouver based 1080p label, entitled Japanese Tendencies. In the tongue-in-cheek video for “Life is Good”, shot by William Wilkinson, Young Braised presents his own vision of chilling with his homies.
Young Braised injects the video with a sense of humor, stabbing at Internet visual aesthetic, especially the Tumblr blogs, combining beautiful scenery (like Braised dancing on the rocky sea shore) with kitschy .gifs referring to cannabis use, terribly cheap visual effects, posing next to Porsche 911 with Toyota keys and rolling through the hood on a Segway in a helmet (a reference to Weird Al Yankovic’s “White and Nerdy?”), and, last, but not least, the constant Nike logo fetishism, references to popular 90’s celebrities and “advertising” energy drinks.
But the work of Young Braised doesn’t end with the video – there’s also something for the more fashion-savvy fans. Together with the Japanese-Canadain streetwear label MMVIII, he created a collaborative t-shirt with a lovely minimalistic/normcore design. You can buy it here.
The eternally elusive James Ferraro likes to drop hot nuggets hinting onto his new musical ways via his Iguana City channel on YouTube. The comment section in his videos are always disabled, as if saying: “Here you are with a finished product, and I don’t care about your opinion”. He got us all used to sudden stylistic changes, from sleazy, lo-fi sound collages to glossy synthesizer artifice. Now he changes direction again.
In his newest piece, entitled simply “K-9”, Ferraro re-envisions the dirty, funky 1970’s brutal New York just before the ascension of no wave. Starting with the police description of “Black male suspect on foot, believed to be armed” and the barking of a police dog at the beginning (hence the title), Ferraro drops into the seedy, crime-ridden underworld with a distinctive druggy haze. A relaxed, slow rhythm setting pace for a lo-fi, slightly distorted guitar solo that seems to be coming straight from some hot basement. What is interesting here is the fact that James Ferraro is becoming more confident with his voice, using it more (maybe encouraged by Dean Blunt?) and thus getting the feel of the track closer to a sensual 70’s slow jam than the crazy plunderphonics of Night Dolls with Hairspray, where the use of electric guitar was also abundant. There are obviously still some Ferraroisms here, like the use of voice synthesizer in the beginning or James Brown’s iconic shout from “I Feel Good” dropped every few seconds, but here he goes slower and much more peaceful than before, making “K-9” one of his most accessible tracks to date.
• James Ferraro: https://soundcloud.com/b-e-b-e-t-u-n-e
From the depths of Jakarta, Indonesia, comes Marcel Thee of Sajama Cut, maker of Strange Mountain music. A new release from the minimalist project is titled Ancient Eyes and available on cassette from Twin Springs Tapes out of Asheville, North Carolina. Rich ambient tones and hypnotizing percussion loops cover both sides of tape with euphoric, meditative textures. From playful twinkling melodies to somber drone progressions, the album travels a route that is adventurous yet familiar, ancient yet untouched. Try to yoink one of the super limited tapes from Twin Springs before they’re all gone! The case is the same with Strange Mountain’s Lillerne Tapes’ release and Ginjoha release. So enjoy Ancient Eyes on the digital below: