Writing by Neil Kulkarni

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

SINGLES PAGE AUGUST/SEPTEMBER

Single Of The Month 1
Marcus Intalex 
Marcus Intalex 
Hell To Pay
Metalheadz 
Found this on Cern's unmissable Renegade Hardware Podcast no. 12 btw.  A post-punk forebodedness. A confidence in its melodic ideas, its awareness that so much more is being suggested than what is actually heard, extra melodies made by the space, trebles you can't be sure actually exist anywhere but your imagination. Bass you simply can't fathom and your head looks down and your body can't stop moving and that's true production smarts. At this late stage we can only stomp as hard as we can to this until summer dies. Heavy as fuck.

Beady Eye 
Shine A Light 
Beady Eye Records aka Sony Entertainment
Weedy as wank. With a video like a low-budget cross between 'November Rain' and the inner sleeve of 'Beggars Banquet' (and with one genuine moment of gorillas-in-the-dry-ice hilarity when that Liam creature monkeys up to the camera in silhouette) but somehow even worse than that suggests ('sexy' nuns, I shit you not!). A rejected Del Amitri b-side in any other age, in this paltry one a 'great track' from 'a legend',  'Shine A Light' achieves the somehow impossible task of making Primal Scream sound like innovators through the neat trick of being utterly rancid shit from start to finish. Someone please give me (Anselmo voice) five minutes alone with yer lad and I'll make him into a racist to go with his homophobia and sexism. Go home and count yer money man. Quietly.

Franz Ferdinand 
Right Action 
SonyBMG
Man, been so long since 'Take Me Out' and 'Matinee', long enough to forget what I ever loved about FF. Oh, no, holdup,  I remember. What I loved was 'Take Me Out' and 'Matinee'. What I hated was the fact they made any more songs than those two. Like Interpol, Futureheads, Maximo Park, Art Brut, and that whole wave of post-Strokes new-wave-of-old-new-wavers FF really should've been one hit (at a push, two-hit) wonders. Then we'd all look back with some fondness at that silly season where Topman sold P.I.L t-shirts and trousers that only fitted the malnourished and feckless. 'Right Action' is the same old same old, same old groove, same old sound, should be a hit, a pinched-off cookie-cut 'provision' for its audience as ultimately irrelevant as the music played on Bob Harris' modern country show. Pass.

Loxy/Resound/Blocks & Escher
Monsters 
Narratives Music 
Am I imagining things or is d'n'b shaking off its liquid headache and getting seriously HEAVY again? 'Monsters' is none-more Metalheadz in the atmospherics, sweeping synth-lines straight from Goldie's school of glistening futurism but the beats that unfold and unleash underneath are from an altogether more rugged place, akin to Shut Up & Dance's most ruffneck moments. Realise all these references are two-decades old but I've been out the loop so long it's all I have to cling to. Superb, unstoppable, beautiful.



Orphx
Orphx
Boundary Conditions 
Sonic Groove 
Portentous, ominous music from who knows where - where Orphyx excel is in making rhythm psychedelic, then steadily dreadily draining things of colour until they pulsate in harsh monochrome, a mind-strobe of bass as the walls grow and close in. Wrap your exoskeleton around 'Outcast' and feel each joint loosen and turn to dust, let 'Vanishing Point' keep your cognitive dissonance funky and lie down prone whilst the phased-out psyche-dub of 'Periphery' reminds you of the finest CabVol and the ugliest modern warfare. Think early dark Tresor & Front 242 but mainly think unsettling, addictive.


Action Bronson ft. Harry Fraud
Water Sports 
Voice Media Group
Like any good MC, AB is massively OVERused at the moment but with a bowl of cold water in front of the fan, fags, a can of Rubicon and Tangy Toms within reach this has been pure summer bliss for a coupla months now. Cling on.

Cannibal Ox 
Gases In Hell 
Below System 
If CO's music sounded at odds with the mainstream back when 'Cold Vein' came out (20 years ago now) then they're even more exquisitely isolated now. No attempt by Vast Aire & Vordul Mega to 'contemporise' their sound cos they sounded like an ugly dystopian future in the first place — 'Gases In Hell' contains enough musical madness and lyrical gems ("I played flute at camp/that's how I met your mom") to suggest the new 'Gotham' LP is one to find and seek and steep yourself until Christmas. Which this year will be called 'The Last Dawning'.

Bill Youngman
Marmor 
SCR Dark Series
Very much into dark dark instrumental music this month, as both antidote to the heat and silencer of any thought beyond the pictorial and figurative. 'Marmor' is techno that could surely only be used as a movement between two other more-obviously dancefloor-friendly tracks, so held in suspension is this, a drone chord held, rumbles and detritus hitting the sides, the beat splintering into its own febrile decay. Like Sagat's equally engaging 'Satellite' on Vlek this is pleasingly hydraulic, tactile, viscous, the slide and lock of well-oiled bearings, till you realise this automata is composed of human elements, has tendons, breath. Say hello to our new humanoid overlords.


Gaga
Lady Gaga 
Applause 
Interscope 
 "I've overheard your theory "nostalgia's for geeks"
I guess sir, if you say so, some of us just like to read
One second I'm a Koons, then suddenly the Koons is me

Pop culture was in art, now art's in pop culture in me"
1. The video. Ace. Brilliant, beautiful freak. Somehow more natural, & thus more ravishingly in control, than ever.
2. The record. Ughh. Lyrically clunky, half-witted. Musically dull. Expected way more from this cos I love the Gaga, love the lone flame for freakishness & spectacle she still holds high in the middle of mainstream pop. 'Applause' is one hell of an anticlimactic return though, a fairly samey electro-pop/eurobeat paean to her fans that comes across like a particularly lame and forgettable Latvian Eurovision entry from 2008, the chorus far too melodically similar to Naughty Boy's 'La La La' to pass muster this summer. She's still got one of the most likeably stentorian/Bowie-esque voices in pop but wound round this kind of mediocrity it's no help. The album better be better but if this is any indication then the only 'art' going on in Gaga's pop right now is the worse kind of Saatchi-bought modern meh, talking loud, saying nothing. Strike one.


SINGLE OF THE MONTH 2
Kerridge
Kerridge 
From The Shadows That Melt The Flesh 
Downwards
Heavily redolent texturally of sick Mick Harris electronica of another age (Scorn/Lull), 'Shadows' is a stunning 4 track record from Berlin-based Samuel Kerridge on Brum's ever-fascinating Downwards imprint. Presented in 4 parts 'From The Shadows' has that transgressive TG/ThisHeat edge but still sounds thoroughly modern, thanks, on Pt.1,  to the gripping beats and sudden layers of sculpted noise that each rotation seems to open up, the hidden basements of terror it drags you down. Pt.2 goes from stealthy Thomas Koner style drone to a dubbed-out inferno of infinitely regressed resonance, like a beatless Bowery Electric or a sterner, less organic Labradford. Pt.3 encapsulates what makes Kerridge's music so compelling, a real care and attention for the edges of the sound, an innate awareness of how ruffing those edges, perfecting the imperfections is crucial for making technology sing it's own malfunctioning song and Pt.4 sees you out on a racket so spooked and terrifying it's practically Japanese. For sick twists everywhere.

Midaz The Beast
Fire
Soulspazm
Reminds me of Sean Price's 'Like You' so you can tell how massive this is musically and with Roc Marciano on the mic you can imagine how great the rhymes are too. Hats off to Marco Polo for marshalling the madness on this top-notch little banger.

Dead Players 
Ever
High Focus Entertainment 
Dead Players (Jam Baxter & Dabbla on vocals, GhostTown on production) drop their debut self-titled album early August and 'Ever' is a tantalising preview. Amazing rhymes but it's the bluesy, spectral production that keeps you coming back. Music that somehow manages to sound both richly organic but also laced together with real instinctive finesse, beats and harmonica building the tension with a truly psychedelic sense of space. Get in on this now.

Enei ft. Chimpo 
Headtop
Critical 
"This one's bad like Kim Jong-il" - love the way this kicks off, just a punchy beat, a droned synth & Chimpo's stentorian dread-laden vocal all leading (and y'know it) to the bass-drop and fuck me when it comes it's Hyperdub heavy and Bug-style engulfing. On computer speakers it's compelling enough, on headphones or out yr blaupunkt it's so heavy it damn well makes you queasy, renders everything else a high-end sharpened fifty-pee to your dome. Superb stuff and keep your eyes on this Chimpo fella. He's ace.

Colgate Kids
One Direction 
Best Song Ever
Sony 
Not really a rip off of  the Who's 'Baba O Reilly' (although it's been truly joyous seeing the apoplexy of 'proper'/'real' music fans regarding the similarity), more a financially sensible fairly dull rewrite of 'Makes You Beautiful'. 1-D's people aren't dummies, they know that tiny reconfigurations of what's worked already will do for the foreseeable future, at least until Harry the Hairy Heed gets the solo career that the entire 1-D phenom is surely only a prelude to. However, 1-D fans should be aware that just because rock bands carp at 1-D (primarily cos their people aren't as ruthlessly heartlessly artlessly efficient as 1-D's people clearly are) doesn't really mean 1-D are actually any good. It just means that you, 1-D, their fans, their haters, The Who, Jake Bugg, The Wanted, Noel Gallagher are all roundabout as shit as each other. God I wish I was one of 1-D's people. I have ideas. Cameos on iCarly are all very well but until Zayn's tooled-up with a Ben-10-style Omnitrix and Liam&Louis start showing up for interviews playing Bakugan Brawlers the crucial & lucrative under-10 small-boy demographic will remain fatally unmilked. Penetrate all territories before the wheels come off! Quickly!


Frank Turner 
Losing Days 
Epidemic
Many many problems. The instagram-grained video for 'Losing Days' is all about the full English, tattoos (the new badge of the middle-class), orange&cyan colour schemes, earnestness without end.  It alienates me as much as any other commercial for private health care, online dating, unaffordable technology, Waitrose. The singer is repellingly sincere, unceasingly smug in his self-deprecation, and comes served with an artisan loaf and a selection of locally-sourced cheeses. I see no justification in this day and age for playing an acoustic guitar, other than to express a deep intrinsic conservatism musically and politically. Frank Turner's video says "this is music for music fans who support real music". I say "Wank Turner more like".

Epidemic
One Life 
Mic Theory Records
Oh such a joy in this heat to drop the needle on something not desperate for your attention but something confident and naturally graceful enough to just let itself swim into your every cell and take over. 'One Life' is just gorgeous, a simple waft of '80s funk rotated and augmented minimally but devastatingly by guitar and bass. The album's called 'Somethin' For the Listeners' and has just jumped to the top of my must-get list. A blessed relieving reminder of the TRUE culture aside from the misrepresentations and lies. Essential.

Jessie J 
It's My Party 
iTunes
Just a thought - gosh she's a tedious loathsome little mockney turd isn't she, Jessie J? 'It's My Party' is all about how she doesn't care about her haters, doesn't care so much in fact that she spends 232 seconds of your life bellyaching about how she's a 'grown woman now' and proffering painfully unfunny flailing couplets like 'don't you get tired of being rude?/ awww come give me a hug dude'. What she singularly fails to acknowledge is that she's been one of the luckiest fuckers in pop of recent years, has been given innumerable opportunities via all kinds of mediums to weld herself to the nation's hearts with the unqualified support of all the different sectors of the media industry, press, TV, radio. If, given that saturated, almost entirely PR directed exposure, it turns out the nation actually finds you a fucking annoying self-pitying twat mebbe the problem's actually with you JJ? Just a thought. Maybe haters wouldn't hate so hard if you didn't consistently find ways to add extra antechambers to the already palatial detestation you've built in their hearts? Just a thought.  
   The video to this sums up her problems - as she passes by (and wafts her nose at the fakery) of the 'hipster' party she spies through a keyhole she instead crashes the room next door, full of fashionably bearded 'rockers' (all wearing high-fashion leathers and 300quid haircuts). Trouble is she also takes it upon herself to do some air-guitar, the kind of misplaced shit air-guitaring (too low, too wide) you'd ordinarily expect only from a supermodel or piss-taking townie-at-the-rock-club. Please, JumboJobbie, enjoy your life, it IS your party, just don't get so annoyed when people suss you as the fucking appallingly mediocre and unjustifiably arrogant human being you clearly are, let alone get so huffy and defencive when we quite reasonably engage in fervent daily prayers that you fail in every aspect of your life ahead. It's nothing personal. You're just a wanker. Just a thought. 

Randomer
Ruffa
Turbo
Pangaea
Viaduct
Hadal
'Ruffa' is a natty little electro-banger that starts off too-straight but then reveals its little trick - a suddenly totally wonky detune detournment of the synth-lead that unhinges the track and the listener at all the right moments. When that wonkoidness starts infecting the bass all those clever-clever comparisons you might draw tween this and innumerable StreetSounds comp-offcuts you care to name are rendered irrelevant. This is tight hard bodyrock for a whole new generation of shrimpers everywhere.
  Pangaea also deal with the same Mantronix/'Rockit' lexicon of sounds but inject so much poisonous bass and so many damn-near unpleasant distorted fake-brass noises its more like that ace moment in 1997 when Speedy J got all noisy and nasty. Pick 'em both up.

John Robinson & Kyo Itachi 
Mystical Strings (Venom Remix) 
Shinigamie Records
Last night I listened to this on headphones whilst watching my old 'Chocky' videos and have to admit that it scared the shit out of me. Something about the loop JR's found here, a spooked skeletal pulse of terror that sounds like decaying fingers tracing the lines of your face before gouging your eyes out. Jinkies, gang, I'm getting all freaked out again just remembering it. Anti-summer monster. Also seek out Dirt Platoon's 'Army of Two' that also features Mr.Itachi — best Japanese hip-hop since DJ Krush.

Dirg Gerner
What A Life
Eglo
Something about this gets me, same way Twin Shadow & Bludd Relations still get me although I know the datedness is undeniable and problematic, suspect a moustachioudness that should repel me - there's a simplicity to the arrangement and singing though that sounds like it's played live, just a man with a synth and a great pre-loaded lovers-rock beat he's downtempo'd to a somnambulist crawl. From a 6 track self-titled EP on the increasingly fascinating Eglo. My job for autumn is to poke through his foliage. Just did an image search. He has no moustache. This pleases me.

Coldplay 
Atlas 
EMI 
The true pulsating (like an abscess) soundtrack for the joyful nazi-khazi daymare of Coalition government but at time of writing, no leak of the music only the lyrics for this longawaitedbycunts newie 'Atlas'. Handy really cos my first exposure to these ubiquitous god-bothering toss-merchants was the lyrics to 'Yellow', the reading of which informed me right there right then that piled-skyhigh-shitness was all this band were ever gonna give us. So, what's been bothering that Tory motherfuck Martin now? "Some saw the sun/ Some saw the smoke/ Some heard the gun/ Some bent the bow". Riiiiiight . . . he does know the Olympics has already happened doesn't he? Oh I see, Hunger Games tie-in (should've guessed some kind of product-endorsement was going on) - I'm guessing this is going to sound geometrical and pretty and has half a hook it rotates endlessly, I'm guessing it stays in that hateful hinterland between pop and rock where neither is done effectively but enough people can convince themselves all is 'real' and 'proper'. I'm guessing there's enough dull passages of instrumental Radioheadesque tastefulness to be eminently usable in trailers for the new season of ITV drama and adverts for megapixel cameras and liberating sanitary-protection. Quite remarkable, or perhaps inevitable, for a band to get that big when nothing, literally nothing has ever been at stake with their music. As their biggest fan and spiritual godfather David Cameron said to me the other night as we both toasted Satan with a foaming pint of the blood of innocents and threw another disabled benefits-claimant on the fire - "it's only through Coldplay's kind of ruthlessly inhumane commerce that we can start competing in the global race". When you mean nothing you have found your time.   

Silent Knight
Stand Up
Elementality Productions
Bit late to this but has only just stopped being a leak and being an official release — fantastically ruff 'n' rugged little terror from SK and the magnificent Illmind on the mix. Snap it up, just don't let your fingers get too near its mouth. Don't show it fear, it can sense it.

SINGLES OF THE MONTH 3
Ghettozoid
House of Black Lanterns
Truth & Loss (Fracture's Astrophonica Remix)
Ghettozoid
Boy Toy (House of Black Lanterns Remix) 
[Houndstooth]
Houndstooth are proving themselves to be one of the UK's most compelling stables at the moment and these tracks perfectly sum up their queasy reach and twisted sensibility. 'Truth And Loss' (first heard for me on Calyx & Teebee's amazing Rinse FM mix a few months back) takes a stroll through a charred, burned world, search-beam bass strafing the dark, the sky starting to press down, ashes and acid blotting out the stars. Ghettozoid (pictured)'s 'Boy Toy' is explicitly darker still - the lyrics ("I'm just a boy toy/waiting for the man to come and play me/dress me in nice clothes and try to style me/please don't confuse me for a girl I will destroy them/ I want to crush them/destroy them/crush them/destroy them/I want to crush them") spat from the steel-mesh outpipe of a pleasure-device you sense is becoming dangerously, calamitously obsessed with its owner, Asimov's three laws forgot in a rush of fibre-optic depravity. Nice to hear futurism sound so SCARED again. Superb stuff from a label to watch. 

Daft Punk 
Lose Yourself To Dance 
Daft Life/Columbia 
About as good as the Basement Jaxx comeback i.e not very.  Reprising the Pharell/ Rodgers/  Bangalter/ Homem-Christo fourway that gave us the Official Song Of 2013 (and Christ, I'm human, I LOVED 'Get Lucky') - but nowhere near as addictively or compellingly. Rodger's guitar is a lovely thing but the groove is too slow, too lumpen to really engage (at that speed only the coming together of Al Green and Willie Mitchell will really suffice), and there's a fatal sense of disengagement/disinterest between the bass and the drums, the former not clear enough, the latter too big and echoed to get me on the dancefloor. In the gaps between Pharell's voice and the vocoder you could be listening to Haim and that's simply not good enough.

Sanys 
Hired Guns
Downfall Theory 
A sensurround sound in a two inch wall, 'Hired Guns' occupies the same kind of sonic/spiritual place as the hardest European techno with spine-punching chunks of Beltram-style mentasm swirled into the hypno-hold of the bass, a headache, almost emetic . . . 'dubstep' just means non-happy electronic music now doesn't it? Glad about this. Ugly, compulsive, brackish, drink deep.

Goldfrapp
Drew
Mute
Lovely Bacharach/David vibe to this, directly referenced in the 'boats and planes' line, sweet strings and guitar pulsing like Grantsby's long-lost classic 'Timber', Allison's vocal just the right side of definite, breathy and light, shot through with a properly grown up sense of wonder and loss. I sense that lyrically it won't make sense until framed within an album-length narrative but this is the first Goldfrapp single to ever actually make me want to hear a soon-come LP. Encouraging. 

Kid Tsunami ft. Sean Price 

Bang Exclusive 
Head Bop Music 
Head Bop's in-house producer Kid Tsu has arranged an absolute fucking beauty of a backing track for SP to spin his usual undeniable skills over here. As hot, heavy and thunkingly unstoppable as a prime Betty Davis original, scratches and sirens strafing across the mix to delicious effect whilst Sean freestyles with nonchalant ease and incisiveness. Superb.

Spectrasoul 
Sometimes We Lie (DLR Remix) 
Shogun Audio 
Bliss to every synapse. Vocals and keyboards that swirl like a tropical eddy, rippling with life, saved from over-purdiness by the wonderfully wonkoid bass, a bass that swims and dives and surfaces bearing coral with the wayward grace of a slightly pissed Man From Atlantis. Superb stuff from the ever-ace Shogun.

Katy Perry 
R.O.A.R 
iTunes
In all kinds of ways I happen to think that Katy Perry is one of the most objectionable people in modern pop since Madonna. Like Madonna, a prissy slow-witted thiever and diluter of better sources, like Madonna self-consciously 'shocking' no-one but people as tiny-minded and conservative as herself, like Madonna setting herself up as some kind of figurehead of liberation while conforming utterly to the most cravenly retrograde impulses & expectations of the men and women that inhabit her songs and fanbase, like Madonna always liable to sing for the underdog whilst culturally crushing them out. Certainly a rather crappy role-model for my nippers (which matters, if that's who you're pitching to), offering quite liddrally NOTHING in her role as pop star except titillation and surrender - 'Kissed A Girl' set out her shitty stall, even the melodically tolerable 'Hot N Cold' revealed her voice to be one of the most potently unloveable (because smugly assured of its 'passion' and 'power') in pop and the candied sexist vomit of 'California Girls' and the truly gagworthy 'Firework' have cemented her deep in all good person's bad books.  'ROAR' continues her tedious, too-visible pre-eminence in pop and will be loved by my two little girls. Thank god there's a new Juana Molina album to combat this shit with.

Nelly f. Nicki Minaj & Pharell Williams 
Get Like Me
Universal Republic 
Best thing he's done in fkn ages, a 'Drop It Like It's Hot' minimal groove you could listen to forever,  and of course Nicki kills it. A bit too much Pharell for my liking (check out how he fucks up Azealia Banks' otherwise intriguing 'ATM Jam' this month) but I'm nitpicking, this is tight, smart pop directed at the feet but with that crucial touch of suggestive infinitude to the rhythm to keep you coming back for more.

The Mole 

Lockdown Party (DJ Sprinkles' Crossfaderama)
Perlon
Don't allow the fact that tediosity-merchant Sven Vath is regularly spinning this at the moment put you off - 'Lockdown', esp. in this Sprinkles re-rub is 12 minutes of lightly lubricated body-rock that flows and syncopates in all the right places to loosen up any party you'd care to drop it at, bridges under construction at first but eventually taking over until the whole thing is just one long held-moment of build towards a resolution that rarely, if ever, comes. Prickteasing par excellence.

Wyld Bunch w/DJ Brans ft. Hannibal Stax & DJ Djaz 
I Do Not Fail (Venom Remix) 
Effiscienz 
'Unbreakable' you might have heard, 'Skillz' feat Guilty Simpson you might've stumbled across but don't pass up this stunning rerub from the man Venom — something about the detail and depth of the percussion and bass here suggests there's real genius going on and it finally emerges as almost Scientist-like in its determination to blow your mind. Excellent.


SINGLE OF THE MONTH 4
Metabeats
Metabeats 
Spectacular 
Associated Minds/Bandcamp 
My godfathers, 'Caviar Crackle', Metabeats' follow-up to the astonishing 'Metaphysical' album, is up there alongside Telemachus' as perhaps 2013's most compellingly diverse hip-hop masterpiece. 'Spectacular' is one of the highlights on a record that's ALL highlights — great '70s folkadelic flute, irresistible funky stop-start beats and great rhymes from Che Grand and Von Pea seal just a taste from an album you'd be insane to ignore. Hear this, then hear ALL of 'Caviar Crackle'. Absolutely essential.

Genotype
The Day After The Night
Samurai Music Group
Global political meltdown. Poverty. Despair. Disparity. Hatred. Fear. Eamonn Holmes. I'm not saying that the moment ninety seconds into this when the lunging loping bass ebbs in on this hard-as-fuck d'n'b banger obliterates any of that, only that we have to cling on tight to those genuine moments of inarguable pleasure music gives us, as the earth surely accelerates into the eternal future shitmare that is our inexorable destiny. Thanks Genotype for, if only briefly, batting such presentiments away with your dutty dutty noise.

Two Door Cinema Club 
Changing Of The Seasons 
iTunes 
Punchable indie-disco fodder that makes even a Walter Softie like me feel like snapping its spotty neck. That fucking alternated hi-hat beat guitar bands have been thinking is 'disco' for over a decade now, revoltingly polite synths and vocals, the sound of the kind of bad night at a bad club you really should avoid these days what with that restraining order and your previous convictions. The fact that Zane Lowe will doubtless announce the playing of this as if he's about to personally detonate a twenty-megaton nuclear device up your anus should tip you off about just what a whiney wheedly soggy squib it actually is. V-festival music. Yak.

Ulterior Motive 
Lost Contact
Metalheadz
Beautifully brutal pincer-grip stuff from the ever-ready UM - kicking off like old-skool Prodigy but then sinking its fangs way deeper, brutally excising ANY possible sense of 'fun' in a welter of doomy battery-drained synth drones, gurning gruesome bass tectonics and some whorls of John Carpenter-keyboards so grainily harsh you can almost see Lee Van Cleef toting a phone the size of an artificial-limb. Love 'em. See y'in Autumn pop fans.