Writing by Neil Kulkarni

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

"Feel is everything. The rest is just colour." Daedelus

13:18 Posted by neil kulkarni No comments


Hey. Get your feet off my coffeetable. You don’t have to dig Daedelus. In fact, the sporadical ‘lectro god from LA kinda hopes you hate his astonishing new opus ‘Love To Make Music To’.
   “All of the albums I’ve ever really ended up loving, I’ve hated at first. I like records you have a relationship with, sometimes stormy, but unforgettable. We’re kind of being tutored by the industry at the moment not to have that kind of relationship, to USE music and move on. I like records that come back at you until you can’t resist.”
   Daedelus (known by pals and the postman as Alfred Darlington) has been knocking out wonder-on-wax for nigh-on a decade now – after a brace of startling releases on Mush, Plug Research, Hefty, Tigerbeat6, and Eastern Developments (check out his work with Busdriver as well as O6’s riotous ‘Denies The Days Demise’) ‘Love To Make Music To’ finds him on Ninjatune & letting loose the most confident, instant-hit noise of his life.
   “Spending a lot more time in Europe dj’ing in the small hours for the kind of fucked-up pilled-up audiences who demand your music is all over the place, way happier with the label I’m on – it’s all contributed to more confidence I think, even though I’m still amazed anyone gets to hear what I do. What you have to learn making music by yourself is that it’s not just about getting enough tracks together to call it an album. It’s having a REASON to create, something you NEED to express. Feel is everything. The rest is just colour.”

   Something born out as soon as the din of Daedelus hits your tympanic membrane: the freshness of D’s mentalist-melange of hip-hop, electro, bass-heavy techno, d’n’b, jazz & funk is in it’s willingness to be rattled, personal, intuitive, IMPERFECT. There’s a spontaneous, improv sense throughout D’s music that what he’s after isn't the perfect take, or the most painstakingly worked out soundscape, but capturing a moment/idea/quickly, when it isn't even fully formed, before it has the chance to make sense or stop joy.
   “Because when an idea’s done, it’s done, it’s dead, it’s over. Once I see the sound/visualize what I want or feel, then it’s very quick for me to make it. I have to nail it quickly and be kind of dissatisfied with it, then I stop – so long as it has the emotional content, so long as I’m feeling it that’s it.”
   This is no hermetically isolated sonic-Pollock though – the collaborations that pop-off within Daedelus music are always key, never pointless cameos, always more than the sum: having worked with MF Doom, Mike Ladd, CYNE, Laura Darling, Prefuse 73, and the mighty TTC on previous albums, ‘Love To Make’ sees the Sa-Ra production crew etc join in the surge and spin myriad magic into the swirling stew. It’s not surprising when D tells you the first record to blow his mind was Acen’s “Trip To The Moon”– his sensibility clearly comes from that nutzoid moment when rave, hip-hop & d’n’b were grabbing everything they could ramraid into the rush.

   “The thing you learn from Public Enemy and a lot of the music from that era is that it ain’t just about getting the right samples, it’s about breaking them up, smashing them apart to get closer to the sound of your own head. There’s a little bit too much politeness in music at the moment – a little bit too much music that just seems to want to enter storage, be ‘respected’. Rock musicians wanting to sound as perfect as electronic music. Electronic musicians wanting to sound like bands. None of it actually reaches through and moves you.”
  ‘Love To Make Music To’ doesn’t give you a choice. Listen. Move. Welcome joy back in brain and booty. And that coffeetable’s getting stomped to sawdust. If you ain’t dancing you’re dying.

The Most Racist Thing I Ever Wrote: Fear Of A Ginger Planet, Tori Amos Melody Maker Review

(Review from Melody Maker 20th January 1996)
by Neil Kulkarni 1-20-96

The Tori manifesto, quoted verbatim from "The Big Issue":

"Knowing what you think gives you great freedom."

Tori will be appearing on Oprah next week. As the author of "Padding Out Mediocrity: Nurturing The Inner Raccoon" she will contribute to a debate on Bedwetting And The Psychic Rubber Sheet- Did It Cause The LA Riots? (If you ain't switched to Ricki, yer dead.)

"This album is like a novel. As it came clear to me that all these songs related to each other, that they are connected chapters."

"Auto Da Fe"? "Arc D'X"? "Freaky Deaky"? "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" read by Diane Chambers. Tori searches for self-awareness. Tori reads some Jung. Tori sees a medicine woman who helps her acknowledge her inner universe. Tori sets it all to repugnantly tasteful artsy-fartsy music (this record made me gag). Various cretins, mainly ponytailed men, buy it and feel reassured by the tired cultural stereotype of attractive ARTIST, bit dippy, bit crackers, handily apolitical. (Attractive? How so? Never forget: ginger hair = freckles = tango eyebrows = can't go out in the sun = carrot-topped Belisha headed FREAKS.) Haven't Kristen, Nina Simone, Cassandra Wilson, Courtney, always had massive political resonance? Tori is the middle-class, bored, lazy retreat from political responsibility and urgency into the dead-end of introspection so characteristic of the American Artist (spit).

"I now understand my matrix, I can change the programme. Now I have access to my own garden. I can weed it, I can plant and I can harvest."

Indulging the mind is less interesting than adding to it, stretching it OUT rather than flexing it IN to this masturbatory mental work-out. Explore your own emptiness, skip stones on your surfaces, GIVE ME A TUNE MY MOTHER COULD HUM.

"You crawl to the back of your tongue, dive into this void and explore your personality. Understanding anger, honouring and knowing when it's healthy, is good."

OK, time for a little witch-hunting. Next time a pop performer calls themself an "artist" put your raygun to their head and send them on a long walk off a short sewage outlet. Pop ain't art. It's far, far more than that. The artist is conscious of nothing but the complexities of his/her own imagination; pop is the NECESSARILY UNAVOIDABLE POLITICAL recognition of a life beyond the fat flabby flatulence of the ego.

"This album is about finding my internal fire."

Well, I went on a Tia Maria and Kronenburg bender at the Godiva Balti House last night, my internal fire fell out my arse this morning, and it's a damn sight more profound than this grotesquery, this kooky mugging, this arrogant self-absorption, this monstrous solipsism, this insistence on "individual integrity", music as detergent therapy.

Stinks stinks stinks. Please end now.


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Hard Hands
(Melody Maker 1999)

NAHH drop all that "eagerly awaited" shit right now. For a start "Leftism" never occupied the centrality to dance music crits thought it did. Even as part of the first wave of LP-dance it was eclipsed by Underworld, musically outreached by Lionrock, and as for all that progressive Guerilla sheeyit Leftfield affiliated themselves with, I can't think of a musical genre less referred to since.

What's weird and wonderful about "Rhythm And Stealth" is how quickly it shakes off any expectations that might shackle it; how far Neil Barnes and Paul Daley are willing to veer from the blueprint; how frabjously f***ing fresh much of this sounds. If that alienates some, there's no reason it shouldn't enrapture the rest of us: this is that rare thing - a band with a successful first album unwilling to repeat themselves on the second. It's a retreat, but a liberating one; a step back from the limelight to the lab. And they've backed themselves into a belligerent backlot of freedom-through-resistance that no one could've predicted.

Cos this is dark, downered shit: opener "Dusted" has the good sense to unleash Roots Manuva on the mic and jack him up on slippery digi-funk. Already the vibe is tougher than you bargained for; "Phat Planet" may be overtaken by Guinness imagery, but it's still monstrously effective as a sheer brute statement of thug intent. "Chant Of A Poor Man" takes dub back to pure On-U anti-trance fury, "Double Flash" is the kind of track Jeff Mills stopped making years ago and is no less balefully mind-blowing for it - a mad construction of bleeps and beats stuck revving in the mud and then shredding all in its path. After so much attack, "El Cid" is an exhausted f***ed-out gasp: six minutes of narcotic porn-funk that Nightmares On Wax would be proud of. "Afrika Shox" isn't electro, it's motorik Kraftwerk vocoded into funky life, Numanoid synths filling every available airpocket: all this whiteness crushed against Bambaataa's Zulu nation pro-afro madness with the kind of wilful cultural hooliganism that makes you squeal.

Throughout "Rhythm And Stealth" the realisation is that the path of most resistance is the most rewarding; the less prettified Leftfield get, the richer their shit stinks up a treat. The only weak link here is "6/8 War", and "Rino's Prayer" more than makes up for it - a worryingly trance opening disintegrates into a hideously warped charnel-house of backwards beats and sheer concrete noise. I'm f***ing having it large-style and if you didn't expect what should be dance's biggest money-spinner this year to wind up sounding like Ice then on your own head be war. "Rhythm And Stealth" isn't the album you've all been waiting for. It's far, far better than that. Could be a glorious failure: for Leftfield, it'd seem punk-funk delinquency is the only way out of the restrictive mess of responsibility and expectation thay've been asked to carry for nigh on five years. Pile on and zero in. It works wonders.

ALBUM OF THE WEEK - **** (out of 5)


Heaviest beats this sid of the next mill, dub spun to f*** in a basstorm of Sensurround sound - one of the most underrated albums of the nineties.

Best rhythm section since Chic make best instrumental LP of the year thus far: unf***inmissable, but y'all missed it.

"Beats so hard they go through orphanages" as The Maker opined back in the day. Investigate."

review by Neil Kulkarni (nicked from Melody Maker, dated 25 September 1999)

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Summer's Last Sound. What's grabbed me in the past 3 months.

12:44 Posted by neil kulkarni , , , No comments
Summer actually lasted exactly 14 hours and 17 minutes in 2012 but this is what soundtracked that blissful half-a-daysworth where we actually saw the sun. 

Swell, swish, sumptuous Premier production, and hats off to Torae for actually stamping his personality on the track when he can. Truth be told, though, you'll keep coming back for the amazing lace-up of scratches and loops that starts unfolding on the chorus, a gorgeous collage that reminds you of exactly what hip-hop production can unlock, exactly what CARE about the music can still uncover. Superb.

Some pure gold from 1993 only now finding the light of day. The Legion (Chucky Smash, Molecules and Cee-Low) were signed to Black Sheep's One Love imprint, and they debuted in 1993 with the brilliant underground classic, 'Jingle Jangle'. 'The Lost Tapes' EP is coming out soon and this is one of the previously unheard highlights from it - absolutely not dated and sounding as fresh and fearless and fantastic as if it was recorded yesterday. Timeless futurism.

Taken from Mr. Wrong & Maximus' 'Quackhandle - Peppered Moth Soup' LP coming in early May, this is a stonking fat beat, simple beautiful bass and some shades 'n' shadows of clavinet that are just plain unhinged and eerie. Great cameos from UG of Cella Dwellas and others, and the feeling of cumulative derangement, of a night gone sloppily wrong is overpowering. Essential. 

Weirdly downbeat production here - like a J.Rawls or PBW joint from about a decade ago, but no less compellingly chilled out for it. Love the way pretty much every single vocal tic gets reflected 'n' refracted out into the cosmos, like someone left the echo settings on maximum, forgot about it, then stuck with it. From such big names I didn't expect such niceness. Much niceness.

From the wonderful 'Random Joints' LP, this is about as dementedly downlow a track you've heard since DC Basehead was a name you cared about. Barely there at all, the steady headnodic beat and uber-minimal bass pushing Sean Born's mental detritus into the back of your cerebellum. Spark a big fucker up and enjoy. 

Regular readers will know how much I dig what the Bristolian Split Prophets crew are giving us - here's the latest new name to conjure with. Datkid gives us a snotty, snarly delivery bristling with simmering rage, that sits perfectly with the heavy-dub bass and locked-on stoner-funk. Never has a statement that a rapper's staying in for a quiet night seethed with so much menace! If you don't have an ear cocked out to Bristol in 2012 you're deaf, dumb and blind. The album's coming soon. 

Wrong's 'Peppered Moth Soup' LP is a doozie and here's one of the highlights rerubbed to deliciously dark depths by Pete Cannon. The pure Antarctic chill that drops with the shuddering synth lines Cannon slides behind the heavy beats is addictive as hell, and if anything, you want this to go on longer, sink its snowbitten fangs into your jugular even deeper.


Fantastic to hear legendary Onyx figurehead Sticky Fingaz spitting again, Oh No giving him the perfect backdrop to reclaim what's his. Spooky bass and keyboards and a rock-solid hi-hat-heavy beat that just slides up in your day like some kinda titanic funky gastropod. Great sense of locked-groove insanity going on here and as the heat starts rising the perfect soundtrack to your own moments of summery strangeness. Essential.


Love the Wizard production on this - the best of post-Neptunes nu-skool crushed against some brilliantly twisted vocal samples and needling organ samples straight out the Madlib kitbag. Superb rhymes from RTKal, nailing the simultaneous mental disease and supernatural sharpness that we call BEING YOUNG. Fantastic new plastic heavily endorsed by Foreign Beggars. Should be all you need to know.

The second single to be lifted off LP's forthcoming album 'The Glass Ceiling', and featuring the inimitable vocal styles of the mighty Sadat X, 'Walking On A Razor' is a gorgeous meld of heavy drone funk slathered with all kinds of demented detail. Smear of easy-listening vocals, sudden ruptures of jazzed-out menace and some of the sexiest flute you've ever heard in your life. Like Vince Guaraldi hooked up with Pete Rock. Seek and keep close.

Don't think, feeeeel. I love Dubbledge for constantly using the internet as a way of throwing out these little nuggets of ad-hoc joy. Downloadable for free, a great little tribute to Bruce Lee, laced with that Lalo Schifrin riff you know and love, put on the fattest beat it's found since the Alkaholiks 'Let It Out'. Man, you come straight out of a comic book. 


Wow, what a fantastically wierd little 7" slab of wonder this is. Pure psychedelia in the backing vocals and twisted tempos, like the Meat Puppets kickin' back and widdlin' some with Bubble Puppy! Great rhymes from Gensu & 7even throughout - this isn't gonna gatecrash the charts, but as a one-off slab of nuttiness it's unmissable. 


184's production is fantastically focussed yet wide-screen in its epic scope: a hard-as-fuck beat with an almost military post-punk groove, everything else (queasy glistening synths, sudden waves of drone guitar) damn near squeezed out of existence. JB's bars are some bleak, moody horrorcore shiz ("Let's all meet up in the year 3000, won't it be strange when we're all drowning") that suits the oppressive vibe perfectly. The un-summeriest single of the year. Perfect to light up the greyness with pure black light. 


Gotta admit it was the Beat Butcha production credit that made me investigate this - SO SO glad I did. Tight beat, simmering menacing Bernard Hermann-esque strings, heavy-assed doom-funk bass - it's like some of Marley Marl's darkest '90s productions touched by the hand of RZA. Spida Lee's forthcoming EP 'Carriacou Jack 99%', from which this is lifted, should be shaping up as one of this summer's essential UK releases. 


The Purist have found a sweet, sweet loop here, strings sighing and cresting like prime Quincy or Axelrod, man-of-the-moment Action B dropping by for a perfectly weighted cameo. In sheer sumptuous grain and melodic power, this is like Camp Lo at their finest. Taken from The Purist's 'Double Feature' LP which is now going on my birthday list toot-sweet. 


Quaranteam are Skillit, Mentalist, K-nite13, Loudmouth Melvin & Pyrobarz and their free mediafire EP is a doozie indeed. 'The Scheme' bristles with tension and stealth, an ultra-repetetive snap of beats, bass and string stabs, disturbing horns splaying in to unhinge you at irregular moments, the assembled MC talent ripping chunks out of the groove and each other. Superb, go get the EP NOW. Would love these guys to get an album out there in 2012. 


Trust Mystro to wake hip-hop the fuck up with this fearsome foreboding monster of a track. Straight-up righteous rant-style on the lyrics ("when you've got guys in jeans looking tighter than the women's"), just a big-assed blow of death in the microphone-fiend beats and spooked-out synths, undeniable truths spilling out faster than lightspeed.  

You can bet yr arse that if a track appears and immediately a load of online comments about how various dimwits aren't 'feeling it' pop up you're on to a winner (hip-hop fans are some lazy-minded fuckers sometimes). A stunning, almost-beatless wending spiral of hippy-soul beauty over which Evidence runs through some mind-bending rhymes: the soon-come Alchemist album 'Russian Roulette' is gonna be something you're gonna wanna press close to your head as soon as it's out. Superb.

Tiny little interlaced elements make this a joy — the Steve Cropper guitar, Modeliste drums, Carol Kaye bass, Native Tongues sunny vibe and pulsating percussion blended together by producer Cadence with a subtlety that feels entirely natural. Even though you know this is an assemblage of found sounds, it still feels entirely organic, and consequently this reaches warm hands and hearts into your day way more than anything else coming out of US hip-hop right now. Love it.

Somewhere beautifully 'tween dub, hip-hop and psyche-pop, Chemo produces a febrile stew of bubbling mud-bath organ, skin-tight guitar, rolling neck-snapping beats over which Phoenix drops some of his finest bars from the astonishing £5 bargain-of-the-summer 'Quantum Leap' album and Generous croons a sweet chorus. Straight up bass-heavy rebel music. 

Stupendously good hooligan-hebraphrenia inna J-Zone stylee, what sounds like the folk-funk music of Azerbaijan combined with whiney idiot-savant vocals so hopelessly adrift in their own mentalism it makes Funkdoobiest sound like Movement Ex. On the flip Krash Battle joins in the jocularity for the high-larious, massively obscene and entirely innappropriate 'Chillin With The Kids'. I wouldn't let these sick fuckers anywhere near my postcode but I want more and more of this derangement please.
One of the Gang Starr foundation's most unsung sons comes more than correct with a fantastic track featuring MOP & Fat Joe — can't seem to find out who the producer is, but it's a stunning loop of lounge-funk peppered with tasty scratch-licks and a woozy reversed-vocal that sinks its teeth into your brain pan like the most unshiftable earworm you've encountered since 'Popcorn'. Oops, sorry if that's in your head now. Get this to shift it. Essential.

Sometimes you actually want a rapper's rhymes to be unobtrusive, not so meaningful to be distracting from the production, not so meaningless to annoy. AWAR gets it just right here, perhaps aware that many will be listening to this for the absolutely barnstorming Alchemist production. As ever with the John Dee of hip-hop an object listen in how to chop a sample, when to detonate the right dubby-echos, what elements to foreground and when. So beautiful the instrumental could last for an eternity. Seek out. 

From the stupendous 'Key To The Kuffs' LP this goes nowhere VAST. A locked rictus of jazzed-out vibes and the kinda backwards beat Anti Pop Consortium fans are gonna love (c'mon I know there's millions of you out there), the lyrics a great flowing mix of Wu-style rugged randomness and highlarious US/UK slang. Absolutely brain-jangling video as well, seriously SEE it, and if you can't see it just SEE this sound in your ear right now. . 

Numonics plays a blinder on the production here, finding not only a fantastically pugilistic beat but then augmenting low-end tom-hits to accentuate the impact, letting horns and keys drone into deranged new spaces whilst all the time Reks keeps hitting you up with revolutionary rhetoric that suggests the album 'REBELutionary' is gonna be beyond essential. On the flip 'Gepeto (Reality Is)' ramps up the tension with some startling anti-cop lyrics and unsettling nu-skool menace. Superb. 

More slo-mo spooked out genius from Sheffield's finest - this track has the ultra-minimal, maximally-unsettling feel of an old-skool Underdog production for Output Records, peppered by T&S's typically twisted ("bullet to your mullet") verbals. The "North Luna" EP this is lifted on may just be one of the releases of the year. Fantastic, frabjous, fucked-up uniqueness. Essential. 

Absolutely goddamn fkn righteous work by Lupe here, asking all the right questions about hip-hop's autopilot mysogyny and perpetuation of stereotypes and gender cliches. Don't expect a hit, don't expect hip-hop to even register the fact this track exists but hats off to Fiasco for taking the roll of figurehead rapper seriously, and pushing hip-hop, lyrically at least, into territories it's scared of going. The only way this music is gonna progress, and therefore 'Bitch Bad' is demonstrative of a deeper love for rap than anything else this week. Much love.
First taster from Meta's forthcoming 2nd album 'Caviar Crackle' (and if you ain't picked up his debut 'Metaphysical' yet what the fuck you doing reading a hip-hop page?) and my god, the beats seem to be getting even more impossibly heavy than before. Great rhymes from man of the moment AB, eerily redolent of the most off-the-hook Mobb Deep, but it's that planet-sized boombap you'll keep coming back for. Heaviest hiphop this side of Zygote & Boot Records. You KNOW what that means. Fantastic, violent, vicarious thrills all round. 

Fab new banger in the essential MMG 7" series: 'Make A Bet' features some of the meatiest and gnarliest fuzzy synth textures you've heard since Billy Cobham's quaalude-phase and 'Stained Glass' is straight-out slo-mo East Coast ruffness straight outta the Pete Rock school of devestation. Only 300 of these out there, snap it up if you can.