Writing by Neil Kulkarni

Monday, 7 December 2015

2015 UNSHITLIST : F.U.N.K'S RECORDS OF THE YEAR

What I've dug this year and what I said in DJ Magazine, The Quietus and right here on this blog. BTW - if you're going to comment with recommendations could someone point me towards drone THAT'S WORTH IT, and indie-pop stuff THAT'S WORTH IT (although of course, all recommendations welcome). Cheers m'dears. 



ALCHEMIST

ISRAELI SALAD
"Composed from loops culled from a welter of Israeli psyche, funk and pop records the man picked up on a recent month-long sojourn, a massively fun slice of frabjousness that will engross you til year's end and beyond. Love that sleeve too. Get it." 











ERYKAH BADU

BUT YOU CAINT USE MY PHONE
"Badu using the mixtape format for an oldschool purpose - doodles, messing around, experiments - but my God I hope some of these sketches make it to the next album. Heavy with analogue electronics and exploiting Badu's ability to be both robotic/perfect and cracked/hilarious this is the most Prince-like music she's ever made. Late breaking but fantastically plastic synthetica from a genius."






BELLY 
UP FOR DAYS 
"'The amazing 'No Option' hipped me to check him out further.  A unique mix of digital-production with analogue-sounding bass and fx, and a brilliant bleak set of rhymes from Palestinian/Canadian rapper & producer Belly. Someone sign him."










BUTTERFLY CHILD 

FUTURES
"The songs don't emerge as 'crafted' at all, rather you can't quite believe they didn't always exist in this form, that you're not just accidentally tuning in to some dream radio station you never knew existed. Crush on Futures completely. It's healed and heartened me like nothing else in 2015, black or white. This record is blue all over. And golden within." 







CHIEF KEEF 

FINALLY ROLLIN 
"He's stopped giving a fuck has Keef, and consequently has allowed his voice to find its own queer sense of disengagement and delirium.  Luckily Keef knows to keep the words as minimal as possible, his own voice joining the dubby drone, as much an 'instrument' as anything else popping off in the production. "Your boyfriend smells like ass" is also my favourite line of the month. " 







COMMODO, GANTZ & KAHN

VOLUME 1 
"Deliciously dark deep dubstep, suffused with arabic textures and tones but British music that could only have been made now, perfect for late night aimless drives around the ring road, squinting through your tears and letting the neon smear. Makes the dark press down harder. Makes the rain slow to a timelapse crawl. Cinematises your life."








CONWAY 

REJECT 2 

"Griselda Records have released nothing but intrigue this year and this was a highlight, Darringer's production throughout is a smoky, grainy, hard-hitting treat and Conway's aided by Skyzoo, Roc Marciano and Westside Gunn to create something with the looseness of a mixtape but the tight economy of a great old-school classic album. Superb and massively overlooked." 







CULT MOUNTAIN 

CULT MOUNTAIN 
"In the absence of any new ish from Trellion & Sniff (and Strange U - although Album#4080 soon come & should be an instant classic) this MASSIVELY MASSIVELY OFFENSIVE tape from Cult Mountain (featuring rhymes from  Milkavelli, Lee Scott & Trellion, and ace 8-bit beats from Sumgii) filled a sore hole. Transmissions from the estate-stoner massive." 







BRANDUN DESHAY 

GOLDUN CHILD
""NOT an album... NOT a mixtape... simply a MOMENT. A moment in my life that inspired me to make this music and express these influences and inspirations". Recognised the name from his collabs with Action Bronson and Chance The Rapper but he commandeers & martials his own vision here handling production (that cuts from Dilla-like oddity to bumpin' trap-beats with no care for categorisation) and combining them with absorbing lyrical conversation to form one of the most compelling new releases in rap in 2015."








DR YEN LO
DAYS WITH DR YEN LO
"Dr Yen Lo is Ka spitting some of his most moving and captivating rhymes yet, over this astonishing almost-beatless backdrop (I'm reminded of DC Basehead at times) of chromatic shadow and still, almost stately Gil Evans-style arrangement . . .  Ka really spins some astonishing tales, and some revelatory raw honest rhymes here, over music absolutely unlike pretty much anything else in hip hop history. Don't let 2015 pass you by without hearing it."









FLYING SAUCER ATTACK 
INSTRUMENTALS 2015 
"To pay attention to detail, at home. That's all we have left now. They were out there in the cold reaches, now their ellipsis swings back towards us, they have reports. They tell us what FSA saw out there.  Memory is what is being mapped here.Subliminal yearnings, intuitive desires, instinctive knowledge. Environments beyond the internal are only conjured as if in a dream state. A rotation of the minds eye inward, the retinal image of imagination receding into the infinite interior horizon." (from notes for a spiked review for F.U.N.K) 









THE GAME 
THE DOCUMENTARY 2 
"Have to admit, against my better judgement I'm enjoying the long-awaited 'Documentary 2' album — far more than I did its prequel . . . Without a doubt one of the blockbusters of the hip hop year but not the yawnfest that normally promises — the album sounds purposeful, and so does this single. Surprisingly sweet." 











KHOST 

CORROSIVE SHROUD
"It knows the tower blocks are empty and survival and death is played out down at street level now. For all the bleakness and rage of its soundworld, it's a strangely hopeful document, because it suggests the miraculous idea that there's a new way of turning anger into energy, a new howl to make, new corners of the headspace to inhabit with sound and fury. One of the most pitiless-rackets of the year thus far. Let it splay you." 









KENDRICK LAMAR
TO PIMP A BUTTERFLY
"A breath-taking appraisal of the broken promises and bloody pathways in and out of America’s heartland malaise . . . If Public Enemy’s Chuck D once nailed rap music’ s role as ‘CNN for black people’ then Lamar is making the most useful rap music of his generation, improvisatory, intelligent, incisive, inspirational." (The Periodic Table Of Hip Hop, Ebury/Penguin Publishing) 










LIL BIBBY 
FREE CRACK III
See - v.easy with autotune to just slap it on like an afterthought and wreck things - look at Ace Hood's daft moves on the latest in his up-till-now-impeccable 'Starvation' series - LB knows that so long as you saddle autotune to deeply SAD, MISERABLE rhymes it will work. Of course, a mixtape isn't an album so the constant DJ Holiday shout-outs don't bother me - what's crucial is Bibby's control over his concepts, his rhymes, his hooks. And this he does well, over some state-of-the-art Chi-town heat from Metro Boomin' and others. Another essential in my little Honda. Cos where else can you listen to CDs these days? 







LIL DICKY 
PROFESSIONAL RAPPER
". . . 'Professional Rapper' reveals way more than just a dilletante's doodling. It really is funny as fuck - there are several moments on PR where you will laugh out loud, clasp your hand to your mouth with the shock and the gasping guffaws. It works precisely because Burd pushes his persona to the point where that rub between exploiting hip hop for comedic ends and using comedy for hip hop ends gets nice and frictive and blurred. It recalls Black Sheep in its mordancy and oddballness - and the music is refreshingly free of the kind of boombap cliches you might expect with this kind of content - it's up to date, occassionally engagingly unique, often deliciously direct." 







L'ORANGE FT. KOOL KEITH

TIME? ASTONISHING!

"For this Kool Keith obsessive I think 'Time? Astonishing!' is one of the best things he's done in a long while - L'Orange cooks up a truly mindbending broth of twisted jazz, weed-infused funk, a production that like a fragile labarynth gives way at the slightest touch to whole new antechambers of intrigue you hadn't known existed. Keith's words, as ever, only deepen that intrigue."










JOYNER LUCAS 
ALONG CAME JOYNER

"I pray that Lucas can keep his talent intact, his art as smart and sumptuous and staggering and catchy-as-fuck as he manages on this tape, either on his own, or despite the record-company interest that is bound to be happening by now, that will doubtless be compromising his broke-assed brilliance even as I type. Music and words that are frantic with detail. Absorb yourself until he gets signed and it all fucks up."


 






MAMMOTH WEED WIZARD BASTARD 
NOETH AC ANOETH

". . . MMWB's 'Nachthexen' kind of bullies its way to the front not just by dint of its sheer length (30 minutes odd and nary a moment you'd excise) but because it takes those vital steps away from the Sabbath/Kyuss/KarmaToBurn imprint and stumbles into moments of Goblin-style guignol and Amon Duul-style space opera that are totally convincing, crushing beautiful and entirely ace"











MONOLORD 
VAENIR 
" somehow they've managed to better the fantastic production of last year's 'Empress Rising' and craft something that pushes and pulls and encrusts and landslides you like nothing else. Grand Magus, Entombed, Electric Wizard all spring to my mind but to be honest I prefer Monolord to all of them. Unstoppable as fungus. Engulfing as fungus. Powerful as fungus. Sorry, watched a fungus documentary last night. That stuff is incredible."








PAPOOSE 

YOU CAN'T STOP DESTINY 

I realise that loving this doesn't win me brownie points with . . . . anyone. The man is a bit of a laughingstock in hip hop. I couldn't care less.It's a doozie. As unhip as it's possible to be. And I listened to it loads this year. Couldn't leave 2015 alone without mentioning it. Not the greatest but I'm tired of the greatest. Sometimes you just want shit to bump loud.










PRIMITIVE MAN 

HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS

"'Scorn' from 2012 revealed just what a unique slab of monstrous molten heaviosity this Portland 3-piece can cook up - the split 7/10/12"s that have come since with Xaphan, Hexis, Fister and Hessian have only deepened the awe and intrigue and this new EP is yet more addictively aggravated mayhem. Truly a mirror to our times and absolutely essential" 










RITUAL KILLER 

EXTERMINANCE 


Death to all 'post' anything in metal. Fucking too many metal albums with fucking synthscapey post-rock GSYBE type shit all over them this year. I like my metal this way thanks - raw production, utter despair and hatred seeping out of every line, old-skool black metal and nothing but and none of those fucking 6 minute intros where they fancy themselves as Ligeti. HalleluSatan.














ROGER ROBINSON 
DIS SIDE AH TOWN
Dis Side Ah Town is one of 2015’s major UK masterpieces, a beautifully laced together look at Brixton through the prism of the 2011 riots, spinning backwards through ancient history and forwards to the present gentrification and change that’s mutating one of London’s most emblematically mutant neighbourhoods.
















JAY ROCK
90059

"Get the album. It still sounds like it could've done with just a little more time, another couple of months finessing and sequencing it properly, fleshing it out a little so its narrative makes more cohesive sense BUT when it hits it hits gloriously, intoxicatingly, addictively hard. Perfect for car, home and head."









PETE ROCK 
PETESTRUMENTALS 2

Alongside the albums from Alchemist, Jazz Spastiks, Knxxledge this is my fave instrumental hip hop of the year. Great to hear P.Rock get so damn avant-garde - a jab in the eye for purists and a kick up the arse for all beatsmiths and producers currently boring hip hop to death. 










JILL SCOTT
WOMAN
"There's no wastage on 'Woman'. It's all diamond tight, beautifully produced (mainly by Andre Harris) and crucially it's an album for grown ups. Folk who need and want to hear hooks, belief, confidence. I recommend it to anyone who had a heart or a funky bone in their body. Love it."








SONANCE

BLACKFLOWER
"Free in all senses, seemingly disconnected from anything around it, Blackflower is one hell of a reason to get interested in UK rock music again. I'm holding out for vinyl and when it comes out (please let it come out) will stack it next to my Primitive Man, Towers and Bolzer as heavy guitar music I can believe in again. Superb, unmissable stuff."








VINCE STAPLES 
SUMMERTIME '06
Bleak as fuck opus from former OFWGKTA collaborator Staples, polished to a murky perfection by the incomparable NO I.D and a record I used in the half-day of sunshine we had this year to feel even groggier and more prone to sudden bursts of violence than I would be normally. A beautiful record to drive with, and uncannily close quite often to the kind of dungeonesque deep dubstep Deep Medi were sending out this year as well as containing some of the harshest electronic textures anyone in rap gave us all year. Superb. 




STARLITO 
INTROVERSION 
"Does everything that bigger-names like Scarface and Jeezy promised this year but does it waaay better. A confessional, anguished, emotional, almost embarrassingly honest mixtape. Stuff like this is why I still waste so much time dl'ing them. Because now and then, for free, you get pure startled." 








TRIPLE DARKNESS 
DARKER THAN BLACK

"On the mic - Melanin 9, Cyrus Malachi, Ray Vendetta, Tesla’s Ghost, Solar Black, Iron Braydz, Ringz Ov Saturn, Black Prophet, Crown Nectar, Neter Rootz, Blasphemy & Bad Company. On the mix - Ringz Ov Saturn, 7th Dan, Bad Company, Tony Mahoney and  Evil Ed. Dark, hard, raw, mindblowing hip hop from a stunning array of UK talent."











TSJUDER 
ANTILIV
"My cats like drone. I interrupted their usual Windy & Carl chillout time the other day and put this on loud. Their ears immediately twitched back and they started looking at me like they wanted to wait until I was asleep, then steal my breath before devouring my innards and the precious nutrients therein. Ugly, ungainly, unpleasant, unfriendly black metal. Just the way I like it."







UNSACRED

FALSE LIGHT 

"Ace crust/doom/black metal hybrid  and all over in 22 minutes. Me want more. Although I won't actually be bothering Unsacred to get their scrawny arses in gear to create it. Frankly, they scare me."











WATCHTOWER 

RADIANT MOON

"Some of the most carefully crafted doom of the year from this Melbourne 4-piece. Let me leave the reviewing to one of their bandcamp supporters: "Your new purveyors of all things sludgy, fucked up, and heavy as hell have arrived and they're gonna kick your ass". Couldn't have put it better myself."







WEEDEATER
GOLIATHON
"You need big speakers. This is not careless, filthy music. It's as carefully produced and put together as the most painstakingly assembled electronica - though much Weedeater swings like it's recorded live, it's actually the way every single empty socket and crevice in your headspace is filled and packed tight with molten heaviosity that really makes these records creme de la spesh"






WINDHAND

GRIEF'S INFERNAL FLOWER


"My favourite doom release of the year by miles - just love Dorthia Cottrell's vocals and the sheer addictiveness of the riffs. 'Like Sandy Denny fronting Uffomammut' is a pat, massively inaccurate precis but one I'm happy with. Do seek this out. "











ADRIAN YOUNGE
LOS ANGELES
". . .  hits upon a sound simultaneously smooth n gritty, harsh yet heavenly, that I just can't get enough of. Younge has a way of using old sources and new playing to create tracks that you KNOW are new but you can't quite believe aren't old classics, so strong is the writing, composition and production. Because it's impossible to nail the exact mix between the found and the created in his music it occupies a unique place, fits like an old Crombie worn by a robot. I commend it to your bosom immediately"