LP1 by FKA twigs

August 11 2014
3:00 PM

In a media soundscape where over-emotional vocal convolutions have become cross-genre and predominant to the extent of being considered synonymous with “technique,” FKA twigs‘ exercise in constraint is an R&B aural caress. Born Tahliah Barnett, FKA started as backup dancer in music videos—a career she recalls in Video Girl: “The camera’s on your pain that it loves / You’re looking for the all around good love”—before creating a huge buzz when she released her self-produced EP1 on Bandcamp. After collaborating with director Jesse Kanda (the video for “How’s That” with Twigs’ digitally-rendered body metamorphosing into pure black and white visual signal is a must see) and with producer Arca on EP2 and being included in the roster of the indie label Young Turks, FKA twigs launched Nabil’s directed introductory video for her first album earlier this spring: “Two Weeks” exalts her low-serotonin, intimate style to mainstream accessibility. Tahliah has often been compared to the classic ’90s R&B singer Aaliyah, though these ten songs clearly trace her artistic lineage back to Bristol’s futuristic torch songs (Martina’s collaboration with Tricky, Portishead) and the ethereal, “heavenly” voices that climaxed in the exhausted new wave of iconic label 4AD. Punching basses, trap-rap-like percussions, languid minor chord pads counterpoint the potent songwriting in a way that will entice you in for more, again and again. Already a strong candidate for the 2014 top 20 albums. (Francesco Tenaglia)


Photo by Ari Marcopoulos


July 29 2014
3:00 PM

Ratking is a rap group straight out of Brooklyn by way of the Upper West Side, Harlem, Long Island City and New York City’s public imagination. The trio consists of young gun vocalists Wiki (Patrick Morales) and Hak (Hakeem Lewis), and their more seasoned producers Sporting Life (Eric Adiele) and Ramon. Eschewing the monoculture of the recent web, Ratking is decidedly regional. The city is their subject. Their music is rooted in the experience of puffer coats, stop-and-frisk and puppy love. The group’s diverse influences range from ’80s No Wave acts like Suicide and Swans to ’90s hip hop greats like Wu Tang Clan and Dipset. Their debut album So It Goes for XL Recordings grounds stylistic jump cuts with surprising continuity. It lacks the delightfully frenetic pace of their EP Wiki93, but both releases share a strong, diaristic narrative. Ratking’s video for the track “100” took inspiration from painted films, while the recently released “Canal” is a 16mm city symphony punctuated by light leaks and vignetting. They blend form and genre, pushing towards a new world sound with masterful storytelling that is equal parts De La Soul and Jonas Mekas. Their conceptual concern is with “realness,” that elusive quality that we all only know when we see it. Some call it authenticity, but it’s bigger. On “Look in My Eyes,” Obie Trice talk-raps: “Every man determines his definition of realness, what’s real to him.” (Martine Syms)

L.A. Club Resource

June 27 2014
3:00 PM

Having previously gained notoriety among select audiophiles by releasing a handful of raw, sweaty, hypnotic EPs on the prolifically elite L.I.E.S. Records, the Los Angeles-based producer, Delroy Edwards, decided to take a detour and establish his own label, L.A. Club Resource, in 2013. Although he eschews the breakneck speed of L.I.E.S.’ output, Edwards has been cranking and grinding in his new position as label head, constructing and soliciting soundtracks for the listless and lascivious alike. Edwards (who also goes by the alias, DJ Punisher) and his labelmate, DJ Harlow, cull from some of the more obscure corners of now-popularized genres such as ghetto house or shoegaze, wringing them out and stylizing something that could be more aptly described as Midwestern juke jams or greyscale Euro nod-rock. Of the three official releases to date, only DJ Harlow has chosen to title his album or name any of his tracks; his first release on the imprint, Waxwork, is a clever double entendre, which equally appeals to both vinyl connoisseurs and marijuana snobs alike. On the whole, Edwards (under his DJ Punisher moniker) pushes a garbled and gaunt, ping-ponging vibe that serves as a welcomed shake-up for a scene often so drunk on its now formulaic precedents. Despite being influenced by a broad scope of club-friendly house music, many of the tracks popping off these albums seem like they would be much more appropriate booming out of a bass-heavy car stereo. Just imagine Snake Plissken trying not to escape from LA, but instead trying to find the best parking spot at The Forum in Inglewood for K-Day’s Krush Groove. Imagine that. (Keith J. Varadi)


Evian Christ
Photo by Andrew Ellis

Evian Christ’s EP Waterfall

April 10 2014
3:00 PM

Published by Tri Angle Records, Evian Christ’s latest EP, Waterfall (2014) is an amalgam of ephemeral, beautiful, almost liquid sounds, as well as powerful, dense and heavy drama. The tracks created by Evian Christ, aka Joshua Leary, are essentially rap instrumentals, but much more progressive, experimental and distorted. Leary’s latest release is a strange mix of trap, trance and brutalist noise, full of steel-clad percussion and hard-hitting bass. His sounds are also sculptural—if one were to imagine a fluid, clear, yet industrial and distorted sonic structure, they would have an idea of what Waterfall sounds like. Packed in a very tactile cover designed by David Rudnick, the EP is full of extremely intense and dark club music. Evian Christ places the listener in a rather cold and anxiety-filled zone, yet releases the created tension with sudden drops into emotional passages. The trajectory of the artist’s career is nothing short of fantasy: he trained to become an English teacher before getting a few tracks uploaded to YouTube by friends, which were then picked up by Tri Angle Records and allowed him to release Kings And Them (2012) and Duga-3 (2013). Most recently, he’s collaborated with Matthew Barney and Kanye West. Evian Christ has just began his Waterfall EP tour, with upcoming shows at Broadcast, Glasgow; Club to Club, Istanbul; MC Theatre, Amsterdam; as well as at Field Day, London and Sonar, Barcelona later this year. (Agnes Gryczkowska)

Cannibal EP

March 28 2014
2:00 PM

Primary Information is a non-profit organization formed by James Hoff and Miriam Katzeff in 2006 and dedicated to the publication of artists’ books, artists’ writings and editions such as records and posters. In April 2014 they will release a limited-edition, vinyl-only album by Cannibal, a trio composed by artists/musicians Cameron Jamie, Cary Loren and Dennis Tyfus. The record is a compelling intergenerational dialogue that defies lazy marketing pitches or definitions: the intricate soundscape comprises a variety of sources— from the harmonica to found sounds—evoking adventurous psychedelic rock from the ’60s like the “freak-outs” of Texan cult group Red Krayola and the experimental underground free-noise scene that coalesced in the ’90s around the New Zealand-based composer and theoretician Bruce Russell and his Corpus Hermeticum recording label. The trio’s music is not only difficult to locate stylistically but also temporally, since this work could have been produced in any decade since the 1960s. Filmmaker Cary Loren co-founded the semi-legendary Detroit “anti-rock” band Destroy All Monsters (that counted also Mike Kelley and Jim Shaw amongst their members) in 1973 and Cannibal LP, even if not a direct continuation of that experience, is additional proof—think Sonic Youth and Black Dice—of the enriching possibilities and perspectives coming out of the combination between visual arts and music making. (Francesco Tenaglia)

Photo by Jake Moore


November 12 2013
5:23 PM

MTV’s Video Music Awards last August illustrated how pop can be frustrating. Beyond Miley Cyrus’ highly mediated hipstero-racist performance, I was particularly disappointed that the duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis clinched the “Best Social Message” award with their song “Same Love” about legalizing same-sex marriage. Indeed, why should greedy heterosexual rappers win such price when it’s clear that they only rode the wave that openly gay artists such as Mykki Blanco, House of Ladosha, Zebra Katz launched before them. These artists manage not only to convey a strong message, but also to gain respect from their peers and even rewrite the rules of contemporary hip hop and this deserves more than an award. Influenced by butoh, voguing and Fluxus-era performance art, Le1F—my personal favorite among these “queer rappers”— broke onto the scene with his booty-bumpin single “Wut.” It’s however his second tape Fly Zone that literally punched me in the face upon first listen. With each of his release, his husky tempo-hopping ripples seemed to adapt to his signature complexe trap, footwork, and juke-tinted beats better. On “Damn Son”—preview track of his latest mixtape Tree House (droped on September 10th)—he is at his most crisp, promising us a hip shaking, brilliant tape. Let’s hope the rest of the world will now wake up and see Le1f as the pop star he truly is! (Natalie Esteve)

James Ferraro

October 7 2013
5:46 PM

James Ferraro is one of the charismatic figures that has led international underground scenes to transition from extreme noise music to a post-modern, sampler-heavy practice that reconstructs a Frankenstein pop format by using segments of outdated musical debris like cheesy ad music, new age and muzak. In “NYC, HELL 3:00 AM,” he reconstructs a form of R&B torch song punctuated by computer generated voices (“money, money, money” opens the record) unstable and over-emotional vocals, dark dissonant orchestras and pieces of 9/11 news coverage in order to create “a map of New York’s nihilism and it’s self referential hedonism.” An inferno made of “rats, metal landscape, toxic water, Junkie friends, HIV billboards, evil news, Luxury and unbound wealth, exclusivity, facelifts, romance, insane police presence, lonely people, all against the sinister vastness of Manhattan’s alienating skyline.” In one of the You Tube trailers produced to present the record, we watch a car on fire in the dense traffic of the metropolis at peak hour: in the same fashion as the camera (and the ordinary passer-by) that has no chance but to surrender to curiosity and contemplate the wreck; this record cannot stop but pointing its focus towards consumer culture, triumphant in a contradictory mix of anxiety and fascination. (Francesco Tenaglia)

James Ferraro will release his upcoming album “NYC, HELL 3:00 AM” on October 15, shortly before the onset of his tour dates across Europe.



August 23 2013
5:51 PM

Manchester natives Sean Booth and Rob Brown founded Autechre in the early ‘90s and, as one of the top names on the record label Warp, have been active ever since. Autechre’s career is linked with the seminal (but poorly named) scene known as Intelligent Dance Music (IDM for short), which also gave rise to acts like Aphex Twin, Boards of Canada and Squarepusher. Their last record Exai is a two-hour long distillation of the compositional skills that the duo has developed over the course of twenty years. Booth and Brown have a solid background in early British hip-hop and breakdance scenes and their music evokes the ‘80s avant-gardism of electro urban music practiced by Afrika Bambaataa and Mantronix, among others. Autechre has developed these influences into a Borgesian maze of exoteric, cutting-edge synthesizer and sequencing techniques. Where a large part of the “underground” electronic music today is unashamedly ironic in its quotation of easy listening pop music from the past (the apparently unrelenting joke of “hypnagogic”) and a large part of hip-hop music expresses its exuberant competitiveness mostly through its lyrics, Exai dares to be self-referential, un-ironic and to celebrate its own aggressiveness, not via chart-friendly chutzpah, but by means of its inscrutable formalism. Rhythms evolve, patterns merge or mutate steadily, but faintly, within songs. An unmissable return to form. (Francesco Tenaglia)

Older posts