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Dean Blunt & GAIKA Issue 71


BONOBO THE CINEMATIC ORCHESTRA THE INVISIBLE MACHINEDRUM ROMARE HIEROGLYPHIC BEING ASH KOOSHA JAY DANIEL THROWING SHADE THE BUG ROOTS MANUVA PEGGY GOU COLDCUT PIONAL ILLUM SPHERE DARQ E +


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amnesia scanner, cashmere cat, clams casino, damian lazarus, david lang | stargaze, de la soul, eric prydz, fat freddy’s drop, forest swords, gaika, justice, kinder malo & pimp flaco, lcc, moderat, nadia rose, nicolas jaar, nina kraviz, nosaj thing + daito manabe, soulection, stööki sound, the black madonna, tommy cash and many more. www.sonar.es SonarGift: SonarPass 2017 Barcelona + Ticket to the Barcelona’s “David Bowie Is” exhibition at a special price of 170€, only until January 6. www.sonartickets.com an initiative of

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013 Crack Magazine is a free and independent platform for contemporary culture Published and distributed monthly by Crack Industries Ltd. For any distribution enquiries please contact distribution@crackmagazine.net

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Highlights Highlights

Exhibitions Exhibitions

Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2016 Bloomberg23New Contemporaries 2016 Nov 2016 – 22 Jan 2017 23 Nov 2016 – 22 Jan 2017 Lower & Upper Galleries Lower & Upper Galleries

Carmel Mark Harris Harris Carmel Buckley Buckley and and Mark Sparrow Back Home Home Sparrow Come Come Back 66 Dec 5 Feb Feb 2017 2017 Dec 2016 2016 – –5 ICA Room ICA Fox Fox Reading Reading Room

Film Film

Events Events Artists’ Film Club: Artists’ Film Club: Both Sides Now 3– FinalFrontiers Frontiers Both Sides Now 3– Final 3 Dec 2016, 2pm SatSat 3 Dec 2016, 2pm

SparrowCalypso Calypso Genius Sparrow Tue13 13Dec Dec 2016, 2016, 6.30 pm Tue pm

Artists’ Film Club: Artists’ Film Club: HERE IS INFORMATION. MOBILISE HERE IS INFORMATION. MOBILISE Sun 4 Dec 2016, 11am SunThis 4 Dec 2016, 11am special event celebrates the life and

ICA Associates NTS RADIO ICA Associates NTS RADIO present Amnesia Scanner present Amnesia Scanner Wed 14 Dec 2016, 8pm Wed 14 Dec 2016, 8pm Berlin based electronic music duo

paneldiscussion discussion on on calypso AApanel calypso singer singer Mighty Sparrow’s achievement A collection of film and video from China Mighty Sparrow’s achievement as asaalyricist lyricist A collection of film and video from China and performer in the context of Caribbean and Hong Kong that explores displacement, and performer in the context of Caribbean and Hong Kong that explores displacement, migration memory. politicaland and social social histories. histories. political migration andand memory.

Krzysztof Focus: KrzysztofKieślowski Kieślowski Focus: Three Colours Trilogy Three Colours Trilogy Sat Dec 2016 Sat17 17––Tue Tue2020 Dec 2016 Set in Paris, Warsaw and Geneva, Three Col-ColSet in Paris, Warsaw and Geneva, Three ours French Revolutionary ideals oursexplore explorethe the French Revolutionary ideals ofofliberty, equality and fraternity, and their liberty, equality and fraternity, and their relevance contemporary world. Pre-Prerelevanceininthe the contemporary world. sented to commemorate the 20th sented to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Kieślowski’s passing. anniversary of Kieślowski’s passing.

Calypso Dreams Calypso Dreams Sat 17 Dec 2016, 2pm Berlin based electronic music duo Thiswork special eventperformer, celebrates the lifeteacher and Amnesia Scanner will perform live in a new of artist, curator, Sat 17 Dec 2016, 2pm Amnesia Scanner will perform in a new Calypso Dreams provides a cultural work ofwriter artist,Ian performer, curator, immersive installation, creating live a unique and White through filmteacher Calypso Dreams provides a cultural rediscovery of a musical tradition that has immersive installation, creating a unique and writer Ian White through film audio visual experience. rediscovery of a musical tradition been bypassed by the mainstream forthat has audio visual experience. VR Exhibition been bypassed the mainstream for decades. The film by chronicles the fascinating VRWed Exhibition Witchy Methodologies 7 Dec 2016, 6pm decades. The film chronicles the fascinating spirit and traditions of calypso music dating Methodologies Wed 7 Decreality 2016,exhibition 6pm of works by young Witchy A virtual Fri 13 Jan 2017, 7pm spirittoand traditions of calypso music back its complex Afro-Caribbean rootsdating in A virtual exhibition of works byNew young Fri 13 Jan 2017, 7pm Bloomberg New Contemporaries artistsreality to coincide with Bloomberg back to and its complex Afro-Caribbean roots in the 18th 19th centuries. Bloomberg NewAnna Contemporaries artists to coincide with Bloomberg New exhibiting artist Bunting-Branch Contemporaries 2016. the 18th and 19th centuries. presents an evening presentations, exhibiting artist AnnaofBunting-Branch Contemporaries 2016. Also screening... live performance, screenings and presents an evening of presentations, Technology Now: Post-Digital Also screening... Communion + Q&A, discussion exploring the idea of ‘witchy live performance, screenings and Institutions andPost-Digital Practices Technology Now: Communion + Q&A,Peace to Us in Nordic-Baltic Film Festival: methodologies’. discussion exploring the idea of ‘witchy Wed 7 Dec 2016, 6.30 pm Institutions and Practices Our Dreams Film Festival: Peace to Us in Nordic-Baltic methodologies’. A discussion panel examining Wed 7 Dec 2016, 6.30 pm post-digital Our Dreams practices, concepts and institutions. A discussion panel examining post-digital practices, concepts and institutions.

Institute of Contemporary Arts The Mall London SW1Y 5AH Institute of Contemporary Arts 020 7930 3647, www.ica.org.uk The Mall London SW1Y 5AH 020 7930 3647, www.ica.org.uk

The ICA is a registered charity no. 236848

The ICA is a registered charity no. 236848


017

Contents

Regular Features Editorial - 19 Worth Celebrating New Music - 23 From the Periphery

Hackney vs Brixton: A conversation between Dean Blunt and GAIKA - 24 While both artists are very much in their own lane, Dean Blunt and GAIKA share some things in common – namely an impulse to create some of the most uncompromising and outspoken UK music of our time. For this month’s dual cover story, they met to debate issues ranging from Trump’s victory, the restrictive expectations for black music and the post-apocalyptic essence of modern England

20 Questions: Wayne Coyne - 97 The Flaming Lips frontman talks to Davy Reed about haircuts, nicknames and getting tattooed with Miley Cyrus Perspective: Let’s Find a Place for Us - 98 Reflecting on her experience creating a platform with her Polyester zine, Ione Gamble reflects on finding your solace in these turbulent times

Aesthetic: Jorja Smith - 38 She may have only just finished school but this ascendant soul singer is poised for stardom. Smith opens up to Will Pritchard alongside our extended fashion editorial

Lloyd Corporation: The Politics of Urban Ephemera - 44 With bootleg bags and corner shop cafes, artists Ali Eisa and Sebastian Lloyd Rees create work that recontexualises the politics of everyday environments. By Augustin Macellari

Kelly Lee Owens Finds her Voice - 35 Having embraced electronic production, the rising artist meets with Ben Murphy to explain how the feminine strength of her rural Welsh upbringing continues to inspire her to this day

Japandroids: Ecstatic Escapism - 36 Brian King and David Prowse specialise in joyous emotional blasts, celebrating the carefree abandon of youth. King tells James F. Thompson about the relief found in combating uncertainty with positivity

EOTY Lists - 53 A comprehensive summary of the best EPs, tracks and LPs to be released in the last 12 months according to Crack Magazine

CONTENTS

Turning Points: Shirley Collins - 95 After a speech disorder put the breaks on her career, the esteemed folk singer took a 38-year absence from performing. Celebrating the release of a new album, Collins looks back across public betrayal and personal growth with Duncan Harrison

crackmagazine.net

Reviews - 71 Gig reports, product reviews and our verdict on the latest releases in film and music


019 Crack Was Made Using Nicki Minaj Black Barbies

The Big Moon Formidable

Babyfather 419

The Flaming Lips Cozy Mlody

GAIKA 3D

The Pilotwings Les Portes Du Brionnais

A Tribe Called Quest The Donald

Kiwi Orca

Shirley Collins Space Girl

Dedication Let Me Rock You

Kelly Lee Owens Oleic

Mr Beatnick Achilles Heel

YG One Time Comin'

Pangaea Send It In

Pissed Jeans The Bar Is Low

Boot & Tax Sintessi Bassa

Julia Jacklin Same Airport, Different Man

Leonard Cohen Chelsea Hotel #2

Jay Daniel 1001 Nights

Beastie Boys Alright Hear This

Sleigh Bells I Can’t Stand You Anymore

Our Mother Just Don't

The Weeknd Party Monster

DJ Earl Smoke Dat Green ft Taso

determination to establish safe and inclusive spaces; and the avant-garde mentality of UK artists such as Dean Blunt and GAIKA – who recently came together for an unmoderated, uncensored and uncompromised conversation that we’ve published as this month’s cover feature.

An artist doesn’t need to make an explicit political statement in order to be great, but having spent a great deal of time in recent weeks collating, debating and writing about the music which was released in 2016, it struck us that so many records made an impact with the stories they told.

So did all the momentum make genuine political change? In the times where it mattered the most, probably not. It’s counterproductive to fantasise about false silver linings. There’s a lot more fighting to be done. So all I can say with certainty here is that 2016 was an incredible year for music, and we probably owe ourselves a moment to enjoy that fact.

And no matter how dispiriting the headlines got, it was hard not to feel inspired by the efforts of the music community at large. This year there was the ideological victory of fabric’s reopening; Gucci Mane’s post-incarceration joy; the Knowles sisters’ empowering politics and general excellence; the open-hearted conversations around music’s remedial potential with anxiety and depression; underground dance music’s unwavering

Davy Reed, Editor

MASTHEAD

Dean Blunt and GAIKA shot exclusively for Crack Magazine by Joshua Gordon London: November 2016

It’s important to encourage the idea that another reality is possible, and so really any kind of summary of 2016 should acknowledge the negativity of this year’s political developments. But don’t worry, I’ll refrain from going down the tedious “at least great art tends to thrive during dark times” route here.

crackmagazine.net

Issue 71 December 2016


020

Recommended O ur g ui d e to wh at's goi n g on i n y ou r c i ty SPECTRES Birthdays 7 December

SNOWBOMBING Giggs, De La Soul, Toddla T Mayrhofen, Austria 3-8 April From £249 The looks people give you when you tell them that you're not interested in skiing. A look that makes you feel like you’d forgotten your mum’s birthday or confessed to not liking The Beatles. It’s because skiing – and all snowy sporting activity – is considered by some to be amongst the funnest things on earth. Snowbombing takes that all-conquering good-times-had-by-all energy and pairs it up with a line-up of crowd-pleasing DJs and live acts for the funnest weekend Austria has seen since the singing nun rocked up at the von Trapp’s yard.

OUR GIRL Shacklewell Arms 13 December IN:MOTION PRESENTS NYD Motion Bristol 1 January £25 Coming in at the end of another successful In:Motion series, Motion’s New Years Day party looks to be its biggest and most musically diverse yet. There’s something for everyone here, with the Bristol club bringing in two dance music behemoths, Ben Klock and Tale Of Us, to head up the bill. They play alongside some of this year’s most in demand DJs, with the likes of Jackmaster, Steffi, Nastia, Gerd Janson, Axel Boman, Italojohnson and Helena Hauff amongst the mammoth line-up. If you’re after something nastier to soundtrack your entrance to the year, Ron Morelli, Florian Kupfer, Simoncino, Hodge, DJ October and Marco Bernardi also perform in the tunnel. Set the tone for 2017 with quality wigged out dance music.

CLIPPING Corsica Studios 20 December

MARISSA NADLER Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen 6 December

THE BL ACK MADONNA Patterns, Brighton 9 December

How many artists have truthfully been able to claim that they’re making finest work after 10 years since their debut? When you think about it, there’s not so many. Boston-based songwriter Marissa Nadler, on the other hand, has been consistently showered with critical praise from 2004’s Ballads of Living and Dying album right up to 2016’s Strangers LP. Go experience Nadler’s lightly gothic folk in its full maturity.

The Black Madonna has got everyone talking lately. Involved in dance music since the early 90s, where she spent time deep in the Midwestern rave scene, she’s been pushing her Hi-NRG take on house and disco for a number of years and built up a cult following along the way. It wasn’t until recently, however, that her profile has gone stratospheric as a result of her deeply passionate, open-hearted approach to dance music culture. Marea Stamper’s dedication to summoning a sense of optimism in the face of adversity is made crystal clear by the fourth of fifth time you see her jump with joy during one of her DJ sets – injecting the party with the kind of enthusiasm that spreads goonish grins across a sea of ravers. For those who still believe.

DJ Q Patterns, Brighton 16 December

OVAL SPACE MUSIC PRESENTS NYD Oval Space 1 January £20

SCHOOLBOY Q Brixton Academy 14 December

ROUGH DR AFT Canavan’s 16 December

EVENTS

It feels as if rappers have been proudly wavey during this entire decade, but ScHoolboy Q is arguably the trippiest of them all. With his look currently consisting of a fedora, an unkempt beard and John Lennon sunglasses, Q’s undisciplined flow flourished on his ambitiously dark and psychedelic 2016 album Blank Face. Rock stars take note: this is the wild and unpredictable music the kids want.

Oh god, here comes the guilt-tripping ‘new year survival’ content. You know the kind of stuff we mean – tips about country walks and green juices accompanied by a picture of someone pouring a bottle of red wine down the sink. You know what we recommend? Techno. Loads and loads of fucking banging techno. For New Year’s day celebrations, Oval Space have well and truly got you covered with a seriously solid line-up of the legendary Robert Hood, Panorama Bar mainstay Ryan Elliot and Rekids boss Radio Slave. Enter the new year with bumping fists and a grin on your face.

CATE LE BON Islington Assembly Hall 14 December

AVALON EMERSON The Pickle Factory 17 December


021 DENZEL CURRY Jazz Cafe 9 December

PALE ANGELS Shackewell Arms 21 December

BABYFATHER & FRIENDS Kamio, London 9 December £12 We really can’t tell you what to expect from this one. Dean Blunt’s subversive Babyfather project has been as elusive and inscrutable as the rest of his output. The live shows have previously featured Future mixtape cuts being blasted through blacked-out smoke-filled rooms, Unionjack emblazoned balloons handed out to front rows, Craig David vocal samples looped against intense strobes. For this London night, the 'friends' include Kode9, Mica Levi, Arca and Babyfather’s DJ Escrow. The only thing we can promise is the absence of any other events quite like this during the festive period.

THE R ADIO DEPT. Scala 31 January Having endured a legal battle with their record label, in 2016 The Radio Dept. finally released Running Out of Love – their first new album in six years. Inspired by “a sense of deep frustration over the reactionary currents which characterise our time,” the album saw the Swedish dream pop outfit move away from shoegaze guitar work towards electronica, while exploring dark themes such as Sweden’s shady business within the arms trade and the state’s protection of racist commentators. An admirably bold change in direction for a cult band who probably could’ve gotten away with playing it safe.

SE AN NICHOL AS SAVAGE The Waiting Room, London 19 December £11.25 Sean Nicholas Savage gives off the vibe of an artist who needs to put music out. Since 2009, he’s released ten full records and toured extensively. His lyrics – existential and philosophical – continue to grow and develop while his lo-fi outsider pop gets weirder and more exciting with every new offering. A staple of Montreal’s DIY experimental community, Savage’s sound will be of interest for fans of Mac DeMarco, Ought or Majical Cloudz. If you’ve followed his output thus far, you’ll know that this is a worthwhile way to spend an evening. If you haven’t, get acquainted.

DAVE Camden Assembly 9 December

LYDIA LUNCH’S RETROVIRUS 02 Academy Islington 11 December

CAKES DA KILL A Camden Assembly 18 December When Cakes Da Killa appeared on New York’s traditionalist rap radio show Ebro In the Morning, he remained totally unphased by the condescending questions of the show’s overgrown fratboy hosts before concluding with a ferocious freestyle: “tongue is so sick I burn them up like acid/ watching they bodies rot, corpse in the casket/ gold medal on my neck without doing gymnastics.” Having studied legends such as Cam’Ron, Missy Elliot and Busta Rhymes, it’s really no wonder Cakes can spit, and with the likes of Joan Rivers, Bette Midler, and Patti LaBelle influencing his stage show, the New Jersey artist has perfected his performance style. We advise you get yourself hyped with Cake’s recent album Hedonism before buying your entire crew tickets for this gig.

SLOWCOACHES The Lexington 10 December

TALIB K WELI Islington Assembly Hall 7 December

GIRL BAND Scala 8 December

JANE FITZ (TALK + DJ SET ) Rye Wax 8 December VANILL A ICE ON ICE Alexandra Palace 20-22 December

ULRIK A SPACEK The Victoria 15 December

BLOOMBERG NEW CONTEMPOR ARIES ICA Until 22 January Since its inception in 1949, New Contemporaries has been one of the most important launchpads for young artists and recent art graduates in the UK. This year, the ICA welcomes the organisation back to showcase some of the most exciting and original art being produced in the country. This year’s themes include massproduction, socio-economics, gender equality and cultural identity, and with artists working in just about every form imaginable, it’s certain to be one of the most diverse and thought-provoking editions ever.

EVENTS

NYE: FLOATING POINTS Oval Space 31 December

TAMA SUMO Oval Space 16 December


023

New Music

SMERZ STEFFLON DON

T TB

CONNIE CONSTANCE Hailing from Watford, Connie Constance is taking her time and working on a sound that truly belongs to her. On new single Clouds, you can almost hear the construction works and imposing buildings of her home city reflected in her gaze. Richly soulful with a smooth vocal and headstrong lyrics, Connie is dealing in the kind of confessional pop that comes with age and wisdom. As we look forward to 2017, Connie seems prime to join a class of new contemporary talents keeping pop music interesting.

O Clouds 1 Jorja Smith / Kehlani : @ItsConniesWorld

By now, we can all reflect on and appreciate on the sizeable impact that NTS Radio has had on independent broadcasting. This is credit to its proudly boundary-less approach, its stellar cast of selectors, and of course the tireless team behind it. Tabitha Thorlu-Bangura is a core member of that team and one of NTS' unsung heroes. As well as DJing out under the TTB moniker, she has been quietly curating her monthly show of the same name – one of the most captivating series on the station. Tapping into a seemingly endless well of intriguing unreleased tracks, TTB incorporates ghostly dream-like textures, field recordings and exploratory fragments of club music to capture a very specific atmosphere. On a platform rich with esteemed selectors, TTB is creating a world of her own.

O TTB For The Astral Plane 1 Lena Willikens / Beatrice Dillon : @yesTTB

ERSATZ “I think it’s a weakness in music to explicitly discuss politics, as opposed to reacting abstractly and poetically. PC Music or Arca, let’s say, are both political but in a beautiful and expressive way.” Speaking to London producer ERSATZ, it’s clear that he’s serious about his craft. “My music is about London. From production tropes I’ve adopted to folk music genres endemic to this city, or the ephemeral non-musical events we hear daily on public transport, or even the memories and fantasies I’m reminded of as I cycle along local streets. It’s all impacted me.” The end result of this lifetime absorbing the metropolis is a considered but deliberately assertive sound – glossy club soundscapes morphed into murky, cheerless reflections of a grey future. “I tend to envisage the perfect setting for how this music will be shared as bass laden amplification in a dark, drunk basement somewhere in London. That is where I’ve had my most inexplicably transcendent moments and I’d love to offer that to other people”. His latest release with London creative collective PLZ Make It Ruins is available to buy on a sliver bullet-shaped USB drive housed in a velvet carry pouch. Like PC Music and perhaps the NON Collective, there is an abrasive hyperrealism to the PLZ aesthetic which is highly prevalent in ERSATZ’s shellacked club rattlers. Where PC Music use populist commercialism as their imagined dystopia, ERSATZ and his peers use the dancefloor. Like Evian Christ and, more recently, Lorenzo Senni, the “rave” becomes mythologised – a prism through which real-life can be viewed and challenged. Through their releases and their GÆZ club-night in London, the crew are hoping to “represent confidence and flexibility”. While some post-everything art units can come across sneery and vacuous, ERSATZ and the PLZ collective want to represent “confidence and flexibility” – a platform for statements best served “loud AF”.

Make way for Stefflon Don. Having spent much of her youth in Holland, the 24-year-old MC has settled in London to launch a career that looks likely to blow up. Stefflon Don has done big numbers on Youtube with a string of tracks that includes a Rae Sremmurd remix and a Section Boyz-approved version of Lock Arfff, and she impressed US hitmaker Jeremih enough to end up on his Late Nights: Europe mixtape. With her ability to flip between sweet singing, powerful rhymes and patois, Stefflon Don has attracted comparisons to Nicki Minaj. “Only pretty women in my kitchen,” she brags on her hard-as-nails new track Real Ting, as money flies in the air at an ladies-only house party in the video. Expect plenty of heat on her forthcoming mixtape.

O Real Ting 1 Nicki Minaj / Ms Banks : @stefflondon

O WARNING! 1 Evian Christ / Lorenzo Senni : @PLZMakeItRuins

O Track 1 File Next To : Website

MUSIC

As Smerz, Henriette Motzfeldt and Catharina Stoltenberg make glorious deconstructed synth pop. There's an undeniable appetite for this kind of stylish sonic mischief, and the Copenhagen duo present an impressively assured take on the genre. On early track Because, their voices bounce from nonchalant to honeyed, underpinned by the kind of gloopy, elastic bass of early Hessle Audio releases; their live shows are infused with the lusher textures of footwork and embellished with their dreamy vocals, al a Jessy Lanza; and their latest EP, Okey, features an intriguing mesh of styles melted down and reformed as deliciously off-kilter pop. Tied together with a low-key eccentricity, this is irresistible wonky pop with earworms to rival Jai Paul. O Good Thing 1 Tirzah / Georgia : soundcloud.com/smerzno


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Dean Blunt GAIKA Introduction: Niloufar Haidari Photography: Joshua Gordon

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“It’s mad to be making music or art in this era where telling the fucking truth automatically makes you different”

Dean Blunt: Yeah, I do think there should be like a bridge between those generations, or else both never connect. G: If you’re 18 and you’re coming up now, it’s the same way your early Bush era or your Reagan era and postReagan era was a bit fucked. But me and you had our formative time during this other period, which is kind of hard to define. So actually there’s a dearth of artists who can even communicate to both generations, who are conscious, or even aware of the cyclical nature of this culture. Do you know what I mean? DB: Yeah exactly. We’ve seen something flop, seen the cycle. It’s hard to articulate it, but we’ve seen it. Or seen nothing. G: And as a result, there is a cynicism there. If you think about it, the Twin Towers got blown up in September 2001, and we lived in the shadows of that. DB: We’re like numb, like this numb generation, like the numb post-nothing [generation]. Post-conspiracy. But the trauma’s all still there. 

has always ‘been’ Donald Trump. Donald Trump is just an American without the fourth wall. And I think that’s tight, it’s great. I think it’s heavy man, there’s no fallacies, so people can progress, we’re not living in this charade. G: This fake shit. DB: Yeah, it is what it is. America’s been like this, so it’s boring to hear people to talk about it now, or even when he was running like ‘Ahh I can’t believe what he’s saying!’ Like, bruv, these other fuckers are saying this shit anyway. Like in America, everyone’s crying. Like it’s shit, yeah, but people should have been had a survival kit years ago, you know what I mean? Now, I think shit’s actually going to progress, like in real time. G: When I said Donald Trump could win, they were like ‘no he could never win’ and I’m like ‘yeah people are gonna go that crazy’. There’s no point in lying anymore, there’s no more faking. They went out and voted for someone who’s gonna slap everybody in the fucking face. DB: I was like ‘this is deep, the fourth wall has proper peeled back.’ Like if there’s any kind of conspiracy theory or whatever, them man are on some next level novelist shit! G: [Laughs]

G: Like when the [financial] crash happened, who was surprised? We weren’t surprised. Even though we had just got the end of free education – or not free education but, like, free loans and all of that before the crash. We were still living in the shadow, in the long arm of some terrible shit that’s going on in the world. But now, I don’t know, what do you think is next? Donald Trump is fucking president bro. DB: I mean... the Trump ting, I think that once again, just like Brexit – America is just showing itself for what it is. America

DB: Their wrestling’s like that. With wrestling when you think you’ve peeled back the true story, they write another story line that incorporates reality. Donald Trump has been Stone Cold Stunner-ed bro, Donald Trump has been in wrestling, he’s a big part of WWE, they’re all really connected, it’s all the same shit – America, wrestling, hip-hop, Trump – all a beautiful pantomime.  G: When I make music, I don’t make music in the fantasy world. I make

records that sound like what’s inside my head, and what’s inside my head comes from what’s outside my head, which is the sound of the city – it’s the sound of real things. It doesn’t come from an abstract place of like ‘everything’s going to be ok’ and ‘ah I just love this girl, I’m gonna sing a load of lyrics that don’t make no fucking sense and play the fucking guitar, and that’s it’. It comes from a real, actual place to me. But by making music like that – then I’m weird. They say this is the sound of ‘dystopian London’. Listen you fucker, London is dystopian now! There’s cameras everywhere! I’m not making it up. DB: It’s the end of the world, really man. I mean the Olympics was the end of the world. Before the Olympics, we were leading up to Armageddon and after the Olympics the world ended. The riots happened – that was a battle. The Olympics happened – that was the big parade. The world is over now. And London, it’s like, it’s done. We’re living in Armageddon, we’ve all been in a zombie like existence since London 2012.

GAIKA

G: I’ve come back to it, feeling the same way, that dread. I came back to it with that feeling: ‘What the fuck is this?’ DB: I came back just after the riots, like the ruins... G: I was in Manchester, then I came down. And I was walking around like ‘What the fuck is this?!’ Then I went out the country, and I’ve come back now and I’m like ‘this all seems like it doesn’t make sense’, the paper is talking about like measuring immigrants’ teeth and that’s, like, a legit thing. That’s a headline.  DB: We’re living in that kingdom now. When these things become news stories it can be irritating because you feel this stuff way before it becomes a headline, it’s in the air. And it’s always felt. On a ground level, that’s where it exists daily and that’s where it’s felt. 

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GAIKA: I agree with what Lil Yachty says about Biggie or whatever, I get it. I get what he says about Drake, and I see what he says about Biggie. From our side, we definitely see both perspectives.


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G: With the Bristol show we played, was it a particular thing which made you feel like ‘nah’? Because I have a feeling about playing some UK shows. Like why the fuck would I wanna go to some place where, ultimately, I’m not welcome? DB: Yeah, they like to ideally consume what you do, but not necessarily have you be there. G: So like ‘We’ll have your shit, we’ll take your shit, but you can’t be here’. Like you say, it’s in the air. It’s bear faced.  DB: All I know is that in certain places I’ve played, if I was in attendance, I’d still feel just as off-key as any black person in a white space does. So why would this feeling still exist even when I’m the person on stage? That just shouldn’t be the case at all. And why am I feeling like I’m having to justify the fact that what I’m doing [with Babyfather] is not a joke? Why is it funny I have a bodyguard? Do you know what I mean? G: They can’t understand that, the nuance of it... DB: Why or how the fuck would I make a parody of grime or hip-hop, do you know what I mean? That’s offensive in itself.  G: It’s such a deep micro-aggression. It’s like, ‘Let me try to explain it, because I get to explain it’. When I watch your show bruv, no part of it is satire, it’s just a sick rave. You understand what I’m saying? That’s what it is to me. Rather than say, ‘I just don’t know what this is’... DB: Which is fine. G: Which is fine. I hadn’t seen Babyfather before. I wanted to watch as a fan. I was like ‘this is just sick, I wish

I could be on stage spraying bars’. Like not making some ironic work, but it’s just sick. I was just like, I didn’t know Escrow had bars like that. DB: Exactly. He’s got bars. G: All day long. And if you don’t get it, just enjoy it. Stop trying to make it about you, that’s the thing it comes down to.  DB: Yeah, I’m just done with playing in the UK. It’s not like a big deal or anything, I just told my agent I’m not playing here anymore. There’s a certain arrogance that comes with accessibility to our culture, and when we give this access to certain people, there’s a look in their face that makes you wish you never… It’s less an issue about the UK and more to do with the same old white privilege I guess. G: The thing is, it’s weird, because I really identify with what you’re saying about that feeling of micro-aggression, and stuff like that. But I think maybe my work isn’t as nuanced, it’s like there’s not so much to ‘get’ in that way, this element of humour that they’re trying to second-guess or take ownership of or whatever. Maybe because it’s like I’m not as far ahead or I’ve not been out as long, I don’t know if that’s it, but I never get that feeling. Like [if] I see it in the room, I almost like try and burn it out of them, do you know what I mean? With thunder and lightening. Maybe it’s my way of trying to maintain power in that situation.  DB: So – you been to Miami, swamp land. That is the devil’s town bro. Seriously man. Cocaine city. G: [Laughs] I’m into it, I don’t know why. I try and explore it, but I do it with sweet melody. There’s something about the concept of like, smiling satanism, the concept of that is just... DB: It’s beautiful man. But you can only be in that for so long. It’s a dangerous, dangerous, dangerous town man. 

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031 DB: I saw no black people in Miami bro, I was obviously living on the Babylon side. G: The wrong side of the river! DB: The wrong side of the waters man! G: I went to South Beach for like one day. DB: No sak pase for me man, I got none of that. You were up in the Haitian area right? G: Yeah I stayed up there, that’s sick.  DB: Sak pase. You know I told you I played at that party man? And the guy who I played for is one of the early inventors or investors in e-cigarettes and he had this birthday party called 50 is My Fantasy. I had to play on the first day on the Friday and on the Sunday, and stayed the whole weekend. He just hired all these girls to be in the yard – just like, you know, just dark American shit. And on the second day he hires this island, and he like has this big mansion and he gets the women to get on this big boat with all his boys. G: He living that rap life sunshine. DB: That rap life is whack man, the rap life is the African American male – like whatever, all the negative bullshit that comes with the black male identity over there – being sold the white American dream. And that is one of worst combinations. The music people I know who are sensitive, people who’ve dipped into that world,

don’t really fuck with it too much on a personal tip. They’re like ‘cool whatever, but it’s not really for me’. Because it’s just gassy. That party, it was just this guy, he basically set all these women ‘free’, and they ran through this forest to hide and the men just run to chase them. The guys had like army paint, like these were all lawyers, like guys who worked in Florida, like high high profile senators, all sorts of shit. I politely declined the invitation. Billie Joel blasting – best music for that kind of shit. As HD satanic as it gets. It was pretty deep bruv. And he has a friend who worked as a Florida paramedic to come and do IV, to clear everyone’s blood so they could keep taking more drugs, to keep carrying on. G: Fucking hell man! DB: People talk about taking yay for days, that was the first time I’ve like taken yay and gone through and not gone to sleep, and it was pretty psychotic. Like three days. And if you come home and you feel shit inside, then obviously it’s not... G: It’s not blessed! DB: Obviously it’s not blessed! G: With the rap life, why the fuck are you gonna take on the fucked-upness of the wealthy white America? Are you gonna mix up yourself, do you know what I mean? Which is what the rap life does. DB: Like you watch Charlamagne Tha God like – a voice in black American hip-hop culture, and look at how he speaks of, like, white people who are above him. That guy buns everyone, and I’m not even talking about Charlamagne being ‘controversial’, that’s a boring conversation. It’s just like how he’s very selective, because he knows, because he says it, ‘that’s who pays my cheques’. Fuck out of here man!

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G: I went there for a few days, I was booked for this Caribbean Film festival. Imagine like loads of cool black people, and like...


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“We still have black hypermasculinity as the dominant image in popular black music. I’m done with it” MUSIC

Dean Blunt


033 DB: Yeah, I’m doing this film, Hollywood Re-Shuffle, and it’s like – have you seen Hollywood Shuffle? It’s this film by Robert Townsend. G: Oh, ok yeah. DB: It’s about the Hollywood scene with black actors in the 80s, and stereotyping and shit like that. But anyway, I’m doing like a remake called Hollywood Re-Shuffle with a British actor that goes to Hollywood. So yeah, I need to finish it basically. I’m going to work with some people back out there, I need to finish some things... writing an opera with a friend also. There’s a lot to be said for what your brain does when it reacts to unfamiliar surroundings, like there’s something about being in a transitional state where I get the most clarity. And it can even be a transition where you’re having a comedown. I sometimes work the best after we’ve gotten twisted. On a comedown, when you’re blazing up and taking valium to come off it. I’m not saying that’s when music happens, but I get some clarity that’s not affected by anything else. At least in London that’s the way it works. London’s too familiar in general, so I don’t really work here any more, apart from when you and I link up. At the moment it’s definitely when I’m out of this place that things happen. And being back here, I’m happy to connect with a lot of people but a lot of the brothers who try to connect – I just don’t have time for people who haven’t actually put the work in, like in real life... I made up a slang word years ago, and I’ve heard it said by someone else, someone I don’t know. It’s ‘Claf’. ‘C-LA-F’. A Claf is just an idiot. Claf sounds like an idiot. Claf. G: [Laughs] DB: Did any slang originate from south [London]?

G: South is more just how they say things.

kind of black communication is just... people don’t really want to hear that.

DB: South has a different pronunciation or accent.

G: It’s been obscured by capitalism. I’ve kind of moved my own work away from hyper-masculinity.

G: People will take on Jamaican directly. They finesse it man, they finesse it. DB: You know what? East is more cockney, we got all these pub cusses. Proper outside the pub cusses, gobby cusses. G: [Laughs] I think south in general, culturally are quick to take on Americanism. DB: South in general reminds me of Harlem, and I’m talking as far as the black community, because it has more of a West Indian community than Hackney does. Or we’ve got more Turkish. G: Yeah it is like that. DB: East London’s gentrification had many different phases, that’s the thing. The first wave was the one where I met a few interesting people. G: Mmm. DB: That place Alibi used to be called PIER 1. Akon used to come down there a lot, Ja Rule used to go down there, it used to be a proper African hip-hop spot. It used to have a boat sticking out, it was the spot! If it just went through that wave where black music wasn’t being so rinsed round here like it is now, it would have still been a poppin’club in the area. Because people would have still gone to it. It didn’t survive the wave. There was a time long ago when I used to put on nights and they’d be like ‘don’t play hip-hop because it brings in the wrong kind of people’. It happened all the time, any time we’d DJ round there the venue owner would come down from the social club upstairs and tell you off for playing hip-hop because it attracted, you know, ‘trouble’. And it’s funny, because that’s all you hear coming out the same clubs now. I would like another form of popular black music to not be hip-hop, grime or dancehall. Or for there to be more variation of sensibilities. RnB is unfortunately not as popular as it used to be. And there was a time when RnB and hip-hop both co-existed. The fact that we still have black hypermasculinity as the dominant image in popular black music is just like... I’m done with it man, I’ve been done with it. RnB is not looking like it’s going to have a resurgence in that way because that

DB: It’s toxic, because in a short space of time, I mean it’s always been mainstream, but there’s something about it, the performance has become so… normalised. At the same time I don’t think politically about lyrics or whatever, partly cause I think black artists should still have the same freedom as white artists. Warts and all. And they should always exercise that freedom. You know we’re doing that festival innit? In the beginning of May, three days. Got nuff people playing. Pressure and repetition is the main thing, and both help communicate the same thing. The pressure opens you up for the message to come through, and that can happen with different types of music, it doesn’t matter the genre. Just get blazed and go within. Shit is fire. Communicating with the congregation, like a church and it’s just three days of that, with a bell hooks lecture also. And we’re going to do an African martial arts, self-defense class for all black teenagers who want to come get free self-defence. [Babyfather member] Triumph Allah is going to run the classes. When I was a yute, I wish they were teaching that in school. Some agency over the fear. Like growing up in the city, when you were young, and all that shit was going on, if we just knew we had the skill to deal with situations. Imagine in school if that was taught? Just a couple of simple disarming moves? That’s how I got into boxing as a yute. Serious man, it’s essential, the yutes need it b, simple disarming techniques man, just simple tings.  G: You’ve got your mandem yeah? DB: Triumph is a master and I still have some boxing friends. G: I’ve got some karate and kickboxing people... DB: Let’s do it man. And teach some yutes how to deal with these punks. G: This time now, times like these – do that bro. Just make people know so they’re ready. Hear Dean Blunt and GAIKA’s collaboration at hackneyvsbrixton.com GAIKA appears at Sónar Barcelona, 15-17 June 2017

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G: You’re exactly right. If that’s your position, and you are the people that decide what is or isn’t paramount in this culture, but yet your opinion is driven by the desire to hate yourself and destroy yourself – then actually, no your opinion doesn’t fucking matter. I literally couldn’t give a fuck about what any of those people have to say, because like as you say, it’s kind of mad to be making music or art of any kind in this era where basically, you can make your point heard by just telling the fucking truth, because that automatically makes you different. What are you doing, are you recording anything?


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035 I’m sat across from Owens in an east London coffee shop listening to her philosophies. She’s inspired. As Owens talks, she gesticulates wildly, with her hands cutting shapes in the air as she settles on her favourite topic: music. The 28-year-old Welsh producer and singer creates vivid, hallucinatory songs rich with psychotropic textures. She’s got a beguiling voice and a gift for melody, and her tunes radiate energy. Owens first made noise within the electronic music world as a guest vocalist and songwriter on Daniel Avery’s huge 2013 debut album Drone Logic. On the album’s standout track Knowing We’ll Be Here, her lucent voice lends a humanity and emotional power. This appearance was the springboard to an intriguing duo of selfreleased solo singles that revealed her talents as the author of weird, wonderful electronic pop pieces. Uncertain was a gorgeous torch song, all neon-lit synth strings, mechanical bass tones and lush vocals, while Lucid reveled in its disarming key changes and its epic, cosmic feel. A cyborg cover of Aaliyah’s RnB classic More Than a Woman, posted to her SoundCloud, confirmed Owens’ psychedelic vision. “I like to explore that immersive quality, to get lost a little bit,” she says. “I wouldn’t say I’m a heavy drinker or influenced by drugs, so music is an escapism. Art that is linked to that in some way is what excites me. Music can take me to another place entirely and it’s quite meditative.” Now signed to Norwegian label Smalltown Supersound, an imprint home to such diverse acts as Todd Terje, Neneh Cherry and Dungen, her recent EP Oleic embarks in a tougher direction, with a thorny take on dance music. Elliptic is raw, classic electro, with a thrumming bassline and trippy bleeps, while the sensory whirl of CBM hears Kelly celebrate “colours, beauty, motion” over a coagulate of 4/4 beats and kosmische keys.

Words: Ben Murphy Photography: Liam Jackson

An artist who Owens respects greatly is present on the Oleic EP. Kingsize (KLO Rework) is a remix of Norwegian avantpop provocateur Jenny Hval. “We both

agreed there needs to be more women remixing other women’s work,” Owens explains. “I think she’s a truly authentic artist and person, and again, she does not compromise. She does exactly what she wants to do, and brings up really interesting political topics and statements and shoves them in your face. We need more art like that, true artists.” Having worked in London record shops for years, including Rough Trade, Pure Groove and Sister Ray, Owens is an avid record collector. She lists the likes of The Knife, Matthew Herbert, Björk and Yayoi Kusama as inspirations, but most of all, she credits her Welsh upbringing and the indomitable women she was motivated by as her greatest encouragement. “I’m inspired by strong characters, strong people,” she states. “I’ve realised coming from Wales this is connected, and I’ve been surrounded by very strong women in my life, people who’ve been through a lot but with that Welsh spirit, where you keep going. Strength of character. No matter what, they’ve got a smile on their faces and open hearts.” Owens was born in the small cathedral city St Asaph, but grew up in Bagillt, near the English border. Close to the coast and encircled by nature, her earliest musical endeavours were in a choir. Moving to Manchester in her late teens, she developed enthusiasm

for the indie scene and helped out gig promoter friends with door duties. After she pitched up in London, Owens played bass with the shoegazey pop five piece The History of Apple Pie, and her friendships with Daniel Avery and James Greenwood, aka Ghost Culture, led to a passion for dance music. “That was my first experience of dance. And it was only really when I saw Dan and James do it, saw their process, saw how it was made, that I actually fully respected it. A lot of people can say it’s easy to make, it’s simple, but it’s not, you’ve got to be a detailoriented freak… you get really into it. I love all that stuff, I’m a sound geek.” With a set-up consisting of the Logic progamme and a host of analogue synths, Owens has been working on her debut album, which will be released sometime early in 2017. And while she’s reluctant to reveal any details, it’s likely that Owens’ vocals will help her explore her distinctive sound. “The voice is integral, because that was my start,” she concludes. “In male voice choirs, there are certain resonant frequencies, that just give you chills. Something about that is so primal. We should never get too far away from that. It’s the human element in my music.” Oleic is out now via Smalltown Supersound

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Kelly Lee Owens

“There’s music in everything, and I hear it,” Kelly Lee Owens says. “Everything vibrates, everything has a frequency. It’s fascinating to me.”


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Japandroids:

Sometimes you know the answer before you ask the question. I’m on the phone with Japandroids guitarist and vocalist Brian King and before our interview gets underway, I ask how he’s doing. “I’m fine,” he says, before adding the inevitable. “Well, aside from the fact that this has been a pretty fucking shit week.” Three days after Donald Trump’s stupefying US election triumph and King happens to be in the one country potentially even more down about it all than America itself: Mexico. King’s girlfriend is there, so he alternates between living with her for extended stints and spending time back home in Toronto. King is pretty bummed.

Words: James F. Thompson Photography: Naomi Wood

individual to the other, if anything trying to affect – I was going to say values – personal feelings. “I’d like to think, or hope anyway, that if other people out there are feeling the same kind of shock or sadness about the election – or in Canada the massive collective loss of losing Leonard Cohen – that with our music and any of our records, you put your headphones on and they make you feel a little bit better. Maybe they help to take away a bit of the sadness, or pain. Or something like that.”

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“It just feels like life is kicking us when we’re down,” he says. Earlier in the week, Leonard Cohen – even more of an icon in Canada than the rest of the world – had passed away too. “After the election I just feel like the average person can’t really take much more.”

Over the past decade, Japandroids have been responsible for putting out some of the most joyous, carefree, balls-to-the-wall rock music around. It’s been five years since their last release – the aptly-titled Celebration Rock – and, thematically at least, the new album picks up right where that one left off. Infectious optimism is still at the core of what Japandroids are all about, King says.

In January, King and bandmate David Prowse are set to release new LP Near to the Wild Heart of Life. I ask whether the Trump phenomenon made an impact on the record but King says most of it was recorded before anyone took the billionaire bigot too seriously. In any case, he says, his music isn’t supposed to be a reflection of any kind of politics, but a kind of refuge from it all.

“Somehow, between our music tastes and what we want to put out there, [positivity] just naturally comes out,” he observes. “If anything I think with this new record, maybe there is a bit more darkness to it. There’s definitely some fear and some doubt and uncertainty in the record, but I think the overall message of every song is still something positive, with some kind of resolution at the core.”

“My style of writing in our band has always been more personal,” King argues. “It’s not been trying to affect policy, or to express anger at governments or certain situations. It’s more kind of directed from one

If King is still in a celebratory mood in his words, musically things have taken a step – if not a leap – out of the mosh pit and towards a degree of maturity. After the swerve of the opening title track, which is just as boisterously anthemic


tracks once they’re out on the road – even if they’re still umbilically attached to Celebration Rock.

Diversifying the band’s sound was apparently the product of a couple of things. First, the pair now live separately – Prowse is still back in Vancouver, where the pair met – so the record was conceived in jigsaw pieces and put together in the studio, instead of thrashed out on the stage. Secondly though, both King and Prowse saw Near to the Wild Heart of Life as an opportunity to wipe the slate clean.

“There are inevitably going to be some people who just loved Celebration Rock so much that they’ll be disappointed by [the new material], but I think most of our fans want to see us grow,” King argues. “I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who wish Radiohead just kept making The Bends for the next 25 years but I think the majority of people are pleased they decided to push themselves to go beyond that – not that I’m comparing ourselves to Radiohead."

“When we finished touring that last record, we actually took a short break just to recover a bit and fix a lot of things professionally and personally,” he says. “When we started working on this new record, maybe it’s because we’re older and had learned from our mistakes, but we just approached the band and this album in a whole new way. It was almost like, let’s start over; let’s forget about everything we did up until now. I think that’s reflected in the album.”

“We don’t want the audience to be enjoying a great Japandroids show half of the time, and going on these meandering pretentious tangents the rest of the time," King insists. “No matter how weird we think we’re getting, at the end of the day, it’s still us.”

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as ever, the rest of the LP takes in everything from Americana, alt-country and even shades of electronica.

“I hope that if other people are feeling the same kind of shock or sadness, our music can help to take away a bit of the pain”

Near to the Wild Heart of Life is out 27 January via Anti-

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The beefed-up scale of some of the tracks has created a bit of a headache from a purely logistical perspective. King isn’t yet totally sure how they’ll tour the new songs as a two-man band, although he’s been playing around with a sample pedal. Either way though, King recognises the importance of making sure Japandroids fans buy into the new


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Jorja Smith Words: Will Pritchard Photography: Theo Cottle Styling: Luci Ellis Hair Artist: Naomi Regan

Jorja Smith’s sound is a projection of her environment. Having grown up in Walsall in the West Midlands, with parents who claim their heritage from Jamaica and nearby West Yorkshire, Smith is a product of a varied upbringing. Raised on a soundtrack of The Slits, Damian Marley and The Smiths, she was musical from an early age, and spent school holidays travelling between home and London for songwriting sessions. Such sessions might have helped refine her impressively assured sound: musings on youth issues like boredom and break-ups executed with a timeless, jazzy inflection. Smith made the move to London last year at the age of 18, where she wrote songs in between shifts at Starbucks. But she doesn’t yet refer to the place as home. “Walsall has played a big part in my growing up,” she says. Indeed, her 2016 breakout single Blue Lights, which tackles the issue of police harassment with a nod to Dizzee Rascal’s Sirens, is based on experiences from her hometown. “Everything I’ve learned, I learned back at home,” she says, “but I’m now learning more stuff that I can add to that. As you grow up, you’ll be in different environments and that will have an effect on who you are.”

“and I think as a songwriter that’s just what you want, because if an audience is able to believe you then they can really understand and really connect.” One listen to Smith’s new Project 11 EP shows how much of an influence Winehouse has had on her music. Comprising of skewed pop and modern soul, Smith’s cracked, jazzy vocals tell tales of broken hearts. Her voice conjures smoky basements and glasses of red wine that swing between being half full and half empty. Small in stature, and casual in Air Max 95s, Smith doesn't cut an imposing presence. And despite all the noticeable hype, she's almost entirely unfazed by her own ascending profile. “I’m not in a rush, I don’t feel any pressure,” she says, “I just want to keep writing and singing and performing. I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing at my pace, and the rest follows.” There’s a certain youthful innocence to all of this, though it’s one shaped by humility. “I’m a huge overthinker,” she admits, “but you just have to ground yourself and make sure you keep creating better – and better yourself.” Staying grounded is only going to get more difficult as 2017 rolls in, though: there’s an inevitability to Jorja Smith’s stardom that few others will experience, regardless of whether or not she’s realised it yet. Project 11 is out now via FAMM

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Smith is very much a product of today’s hyper-connected generation. What’s refreshing, though, is that her music connects with a sense of warmth and honesty that goes much deeper than Facebook Likes. “I’ve always looked up to Amy Winehouse, because you can just believe everything she’s singing about and talking about,” she explains,

Fur: ONAR Top: Lacoste Earrings: Vintage YSL Ring: Stylists own 


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Shirt: Sadie Williams Top: Cecilie Copenhagen  Trousers: MISBHV Shoes: Timberland Choker: Nikao Ring: O Thangthai


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Top: Sadie Williams Dungaree top: Monki Trousers: Monki Choker: Asos

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Lloyd Corporation:

ART

A Search for Lost Causes and Impractical Aims, Frieze Focus London


045 Words: Augustin Macellari Images Courtesy of: Carlos/Ishikawa London

It’s a hodgepodge of development and industry. Bonnington Square’s housing co-operative survives, thanks to squatters in the 70s, as a reminder of Vauxhall’s terraced past. Then huge, grey, abandoned-looking blocks loom. A restaurant in a Georgian manor hovers incongruously on the edge of the roundabout, beside expensive and distasteful riverside glass developments. The Mi6 building from the Bond films is there too, bristling with CCTV cameras and made up like a techno-fortress. There’s the New Covent Garden Market, which on Sundays becomes the Vauxhall carboot sale. And, also on Sunday, Horse Meat Disco DJ in a pub down the road. A system of mutually independent, highly fluid and weird economies and industries, placed side-by-side with no obvious logic or structure, the area nicely reflects the themes and issues explored by the Lloyd Corporation in its practice. Lloyd Corporation are Ali Eisa and Sebastian Lloyd Rees. They’ve been working together since the financial crash, which broke when they were studying art together at Goldsmiths and seems to have made an indelible impact on their field of interest. I meet the duo in their studio, a unit in a little cobbled industrial courtyard in Clapham, and I’m interviewing them

off the back of their installation for London’s Frieze Art Fair, where they exhibited at the Carlos/Ishikawa stand. A small, important gallery tucked away in a courtyard off Whitechapel Road, Carlos/Ishikawa represent a stable of artists mostly born in the 80s. For Frieze, Lloyd Corporation ran a set of simulations. Divided into three discrete sections, their work A Search for Lost Causes and Impractical Aims pulled no punches, interrogating global issues like migrancy and cybersecurity through an intimate and familiar framework. The performance that ran throughout Frieze was a living statuary of characters: street vendors, human billboards, information points. It also featured two computers sat in an authentic reconstruction of the bleak-looking internet zone found at the back of some corner shops. It was authentic down to the insecurity of the browsers, as the artists had to disconnect both hard drives from the internet after getting a virus. The two desktops on display were loaded with a collection of stock images and a bunch of emails – important emails – hacked by Russian spies from insecure, non-governmental servers. Hillary Clinton’s emails. “In some ways you could just look at it as a sculpture, and I think 80 percent of people engaged with it as a sculptural object,” Ali says of the installation. It was, however, interactive. The email archive could be searched by keyword or just scrolled through voyeuristically. The archive engaged users with a very current – and at the time unfolding – political situation.

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To get to Lloyd Corporation’s studio by bike from central London, you pretty much have to go through Vauxhall. It’s a horrible and dangerous place to ride a bike; since the Elephant and Castle roundabout was retrofitted to promote cycle safety, Vauxhall has become an unparalleled hazard.


046 A Search for Lost Causes and Impractical Aims (Leaks)

The Saga of the Costume Continues

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“We’re interested in value in terms of counterfeit – how value is attributed between the brand and the real product, and then really bad, cheaply made counterfeits”

The final part of Lloyd Corporation’s installation was simply a door, again authentic, acquired from a corner shop and complete with fly posters, ads, Lebara signs and DHL stickers. These simulations, or reconstructions, of familiar situations and environments, serve as an access point for the much larger issues Lloyd Corporation are interested in exploring.

and unmonitored. Their turnover is not logged in the nation’s GDP, so it becomes impossible to know what their revenue is, or how they reward the people operating within them. With the performance element of their work at Frieze, actors were employed to perform the roles of actual employees of the informal economy – most strikingly, bootleg designer bag sellers.

Metonymy is a rhetorical device that describes a thing or set of things through an associated thing. For example: the crown is a metonym for the royal family, but one that also encompasses the royal family’s assorted administrative and symbolic attachments. Lloyd Corporation use metonyms as a shortcut, a way of accessing larger, or wider ranging, issues and themes. So where they have a door covered in fly-posters and Lebara vinyl, they also have: a street in London; the community that gathers around the shop; the culturally disparate needs and desires that the shop services; the informal labour that runs the shop; the informal economies that operate around the fly-posters; migrancy.

Lloyd Corporation’s interest in the bag vendors was, they say, initially piqued by the bags themselves. “We were interested in the whole thing about value in terms of counterfeit,” Ali explains, “because it seems like quite a complex global thing – how value is attributed between the brand, the real product, certain levels of fake goods and then really bad, cheaply made counterfeit goods.”

In the course of their research, Lloyd Corporation highlight marginal or so-called ‘grey’ economies. Informal economies are by definition untaxed,

Whilst the performers echo the logic of the other pieces, their function as institutional critique can’t be ignored. The fact is, the sight of BAME men flogging knock-off Louis Vuitton bags – the economic imbalances it represents – at an art fair that costs three times the price of admission to any show at Tate is necessarily critical and political. The presence of the marginalised figure who engages in the hand-to-mouth informal economy of bag sales in a place where people are spending millions on nothing more than contemporary art is loaded with critical resonance.

ART

“I suppose one of the things that runs through that project, and also through a lot of the work that we’ve done over the last five years, is finding situations or objects or things that really stage this kind of distance, but also connection, between really personal things and wider structural issues,” Ali explains.

I used to work for DHL back in the 90s...


048 A Search for Lost Causes and Impractical Aims

A Search for Lost Causes and Impractical Aims

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With art that engages this directly with political issues and systems, rather than more abstract things like ideologies or feelings, I often find it tempting to ask: What’s the point? The fields of enquiry the artists have set in their sites have such clear and conventional frameworks for investigation in the world – through academia, economics, journalism, etc – that to hope to conduct any sort of incisive research through the notoriously wishy-washy lens of contemporary art seems madly optimistic, at best.   The answer must be that at the same time, numbers are cold. They make few allowances for subjective human experience or empathy. Art may not be as rigorous or objective in how it analyses the large systems Lloyd Corporation are concerned with, but it

also doesn’t profess to reach the same conclusions or offer the same insights as academic examination. There maybe little meaningful impact – in the form of social change, or even just action – but then maybe there’s little poetry to economics.

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As Ali tells me, the performance reached its apex on the last day, with the spontaneous creation of its own informal economy. Left with spare tickets to Frieze, the artists got one of the actor-vendors “to go and tout them outside Regent’s Park Station. He sold like six free entry tickets to Frieze on the last day”. The duo’s at times wide-eyed manner masks a steeliness in their work, a propensity for mischief making, though neither of them would officially recognise their naughtiness.

In exploring informal economies, as well as engaging with largely ignored communities, the artists also aspire to extrapolate information about wider systems of governance. The artists find a way to show us the personal, at the same time as they expose us to the breathtakingly impersonal wider structural issues of globalisation. Their research might not resolve itself in objective data, but data doesn’t matter anyway. It’s not reliable; no one trusts experts any more; ‘post-truth’ is ‘word of the year’. Instead, Lloyd Corporation leverage the micro against the macro to offer insights into systems of order that are becoming ever more opaque by the day. “It’s not scientific study,” Ali concludes, “but it’s one of those things that I always really like about making work. That it allows you to have certain moments of clarity, before things are confused and obfuscated again.” carlosishikawa.com/artists/ lloydcorporation

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A Search for Lost Causes and Impractical Aims (No CK No BJ)


Produced exclusively for Crack Magazine by Lotte Vanns - instagram.com/lottevanns


Metronomy - Summer 08

Major Lazer - Peace is the Mission

MMOTHS - Luneworks

Breakbot - Still Waters

Christine & the Queens - Chaleur Humaine

Mr. Oizo - All Wet

Calypso Rose - Far From Home

Mind Enterprises - Idealist

Selah Sue - Reason

Justice - Woman

Orchestre Poly-Rythmo - Madjafalao

Lido - Everything


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Albums 

BEST ALBUMS

Words: Davy Reed, Lakeisha Goedluck, Duncan Harrison, Anna Tehabsim, Sammy Jones, Tom Watson, Lauretta Charlton , Nikki Blaylock, Katie Hawthorne, Anna Cafolla, Thomas Frost, Xavier Boucherat, Gary Suarez, Oli Warwick, Thomas Howells, Adam Corner, Ian Ochiltree, Grant Brydon, Alex Green, Jo Kali, Billy Black, Thomas Painter, Gunseli Yalcinkaya, Jake Hall, Jack Law, Aine Devaney, Felicity Martin


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CRAIG DAVID Following My Intuition Speakerbox / Insanity

PAYROLL GIOVANNI & CARDO Big Bossin Vol.1 Self-released

PREOCCUPATIONS Preoccupations Jagjaguwar

GONJASUFI Callus Warp

FUTURE Purple Reign Freebandz

ETHEREAL Look At Me Awful Records

At the mention of ‘Craig David’, some people still picture that Bo’ Selecta! sketch: the marker pen beard, Yorkshire accent and plastic kestrel. It’s full credit to the UK garage crooner that he fashioned a successful comeback for himself in 2016 through hard graft, positivity and a passion for chart toppers. Too much can be said for nostalgia, but Following My Intuition proved that Craig is at his best when he (re-re-)rewinds it back. FM

As an energetic exercise in traditional street rap, Big Bossin Vol.1 didn’t concern itself with breaking new ground. Instead, Texas producer Cardo provided a selection of sun-soaked G-funk beats that inspired Detroit’s Payroll Giovanni to write detailed rhymes which read like a dealer’s diary entries. Giovanni churned out classic hiphop tropes with imaginative flair: “Shout out to my jeweler cause he crowned me/ if all this ice melted it’d drown me”. DR

Swallowing your pride is never easy, but when Viet Cong found themselves in the middle of a heated debate around their name, they conceded gracefully. And I’m so glad they did. Despite making changes elsewhere, Preoccupations remained uncompromising in their vision, and their debut was one of the year’s most claustrophobic, caustic and cohesive releases. Fuelled by anti-melody and personal trauma, this record was absolutely, crucially bleak. BB

When Gonjasufi released his debut album A Sufi and a Killer in 2010, he expressed that he wanted his music “to hurt a little bit.” Finally, six years after his debut, we could fully realise his notion of hurt with Callus. An onslaught of lo-fi drums, overdriven bass guitars and a vocal performance that was half way between George Clinton and a particularly agonised Tom Waits, Callus was a satisfyingly grim display of distortion. TW

Once Future stopped trying to infiltrate the pop world and got lost in his own vices last year, an army of loyal fans began to rally around him. Musically and thematically, Purple Reign felt like a continuation of Future’s remarkable 2015 run. And what Purple Reign lacked in reinvention, it made up for in focus. Showcasing his knack for turning a boast into a cry for help, it indicated how huge Future has become by pursuing an uncommercial sound. DH

A low-key gem among Awful Records’ busy 2016 release schedule was Ethereal’s Look At Me, which the producer/rapper wrote, recorded, engineered and mixed at the Awful House HQ. The warm grooves of Ethereal’s lo-fi beats gave the project a welcoming feel, while inspired contributions from Abra, Alexandria and Father complemented his high-pitched raps, furthering his reputation as one of the Atlanta collective’s most respected members. DR

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KAITLYN AURELIA SMITH + SUZANNE CIANI Sunergy RVNG Intl

JESSY LANZA Oh No Hyperdub

LEVELZ LVL11 Self released

WHITNEY Light Upon the Lake Secretly Canadian

Electronic pioneer Suzanne Ciani and contemporary synth composer Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith made this album in Bolinas, California, which is hemmed by the ocean, and much of Sunergy dealt with primal forces of energy, with sparkling ambience emanating from their buchla synths. It’s impossible to imagine a collaboration could sound this convincing without a spiritual unity between the two artists, and between their synths. JK

For Oh No Jessy Lanza borrowed influence from 80s japanese pop and shangaan electro. It Means I Love You experimented with the latter genre’s giddy rhythm and pitched-up vocals, the title track featured a break-down that took you into the bonus layer of Donkey Kong and Could Be You returned to the old Jessy Lanza of her debut Pull My Hair Back – sexy, sultry and minimalist. This was a sophomore that was off the kilter and simmering with sass. AD

This year saw Manchester’s hardest affirm their commitment to an ‘anything goes, so long as it bangs’ approach. Road-rap opener Look Who It Is lurched with grimy menace, while Rowdy Badd picked up the pace with bass-inflected UK funky. Others reached into straightforward disco and soul territory – How 2 Party even had one of them Peter Frampton voiceboxes on it. Ridiculous and much-needed fun. XB

Former Smith Westerns guitarist Max Kakacek and former Unknown Mortal Orchestra drummer Julien Ehrlic teamed up to release a head-bobbing, heart-warming debut album that was made to be wafted out alongside the summer breeze in June this year. Given room to soar without the esoteric shackles of their former outfits, their easy-going rock ’n’ roll, splashed with classic riffs and warm brass sections, was sunny pop done impeccably well. SJ

Connan Mockasin went full Britney circa 2001 VMAs on this album’s cover art, alongside red body paint and an equally sultry stare from his musical compadre LA Priest. Their collaboration didn’t do sexy in any usual way. With Mockasin’s let-it-all-hangout approach finding its match in Priest’s elastic sense of time, this meeting of warped minds brought out the best and worst in both parties, until its simmering cosmic heat hit boiling point. KH

Considering the past year’s warped US presidential race, is it any wonder Ty Segall grasped the chance to comment on his country with his Emotional Mugger? “American nightmare,” he lamented on Californian Hills. “The papers say we’re going to hell.” Stepping out from behind an instrument to don a baby mask across a series of horrendously entertaining shows this summer, Segall secured his legacy as a garage rock godhead. SJ

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GUCCI MANE Everybody Looking Atlantic Records

MARK PRITCHARD Under The Sun Warp

HAVOC & THE ALCHEMIST The Silent Partner Babygrande Records

MYKKI BLANCO Mykki !K7

Freshly released from a prison stint, Gucci Mane surprised many with sobriety and a lean new look alongside this rapidly released album. Everybody Looking was a rewarding entry into a post-trap future. No longer the self-medicated thirty-something seen grinning fiendishly throughout Spring Breakers, Everybody Looking saw a fitter, happier Gucci look back on his time as a pint-a-day promethazine addict with a sense of enlightened bewilderment. GS

Omitting concentrated drum work and percussive sampling, Under The Sun saw legendary electronic experimentalist Mark Pritchard fixate on mood and timbre, permitting each angular segue to piece themselves together like the telling of a story. And what Under The Sun lacked in dynamism, it made up for in gorgeous cinematic scope. TM

Prodigy and Havoc started out as kids, but their ruthless lyrics made them sound fully-grown. They had seen too much and we couldn’t get enough. The Silent Partner was released twenty years on from their debut Juvenile Hell, but Havoc’s voice was still standing. On this gritty, anxious, very New York album, The Alchemist’s production made Havoc’s bleak words easy to listen to – fit to be chiselled into stone, in fact, just as they were chiselled into him. JL

Mykki Blanco has stretched boundaries with anomalous, intense musical output spanning uncompromising hip-hop, riot grrrl-influenced lo-fi punk and industrial techno. It had been five years since the debut Mykki Blanco performance at New York’s Ghe20G0th1k party, and Blanco’s debut retail album Mykki was an expansive testament to this versatility – and, for some, surprising – proof of the artist’s pop sensibilities. JH

MINOR VICTORIES Self-Titled PIAS

BEST ALBUMS

Supergroup is a dirty word, but Minor Victories wear it well. The musicians that make up the band – members of Mogwai, Slowdive and Editors – each come from slightly different schools of music, but they’re all linked by a predilection for a dreamy melody. Their debut album was crafted from experience, a measured riff on dystopia that swelled, oscillated and urged the listener into peaceful hypnosis. BB

CARLA DAL FORNO You Know What It’s Like Blackest Ever Black Having long collaborated on Blackest Ever Black projects, Carla dal Forno delivered her debut solo LP on the label this year. Originally a Melbourne-based post-punk artist, since arriving in Berlin, dal Forno’s sound slowed down, evolving into the eerie, elegant cold wave on offer here. This was a woozy, weary album that existed in a state of suspension, like communicating with the world through a thick pane of glass. JK

SOFT HAIR Soft Hair Weird World

TY SEGALL Emotional Mugger Drag City


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DOE Some Things Last Longer Than You Old Flame Records

EAGULLS Ullages Partisan Records

GUERILLA TOSS Eraser Stargazer DFA

Reminiscent of the best of Superchunk, Weezer and The Breeders, DIY punk trio Doe made their blazingly furious and genuine full-length debut this year. The punchy drumbeats, dual guitars and twin pillars of vocals piled on by Nicola Leel, Dean Smitten and Jake Popyura crushed from the first track, and the songs were tight, emotionally intelligent and driven by a cathartic frustration that smarted just enough to be completely compelling. SJ

Eagulls’ maturity as a band solidified with Ullages. Gone were the songs about heroin and the spiteful letters to other bands, and in their place was an album contemplative and political in its songwriting and bathed in slower, lusher sounds. While Ullages lacked immediately gratifying punk anthems, Eagulls’ disaffection was now barbed with poetry, as opposed to venom. TF

At its heart, the fourth album from noise rock weirdoes Guerrilla Toss was a dance record. Discordant riffs and Kassie Carlson’s anxietyridden shrieks took centre stage, but underlining it all was a rhythm section giving a solid nod to Gang of Four, with thunderous postpunk drums and mutant-funk bass. In retrospect, perhaps it was the dance record this shitshow of a year needed – joyous and defiant in an otherwise disorientating and unsettling world. XB

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A TRIBE CALLED QUEST We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service Epic/SME

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KLEIN ONLY Howling Owl

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BABYFATHER “BBF” Hosted by DJ Escrow Hyperdub

CAVERN OF ANTI-MATTER Void Beats / Invocation Trex Duophonic

Released quietly in February via Bandcamp – and then later as a heart-shaped diamante USB necklace – ONLY was one of 2016’s most alluring musical experiments. Klein cited the gospel music she was raised on due to her Nigerian pentecostal upbringing alongside 00s RnB and noise artists as influences. ONLY’s abrupt mood switches might have challenged the listener, but the music’s strange beauty encouraged repeated listens. DR

Dean Blunt has never made things easy, but BBF was truly multifaceted – a mix of liquefied hip-hop, shrieking noise and subdued digital ambience mixed by the irrepressible DJ Escrow. Throughout the record, Escrow reflects on the near-impossible challenges creatives in the UK face today (“Not even making no Ps with the music ting, innit”), making for a nuanced and beautiful meditation at a time when it’s getting harder and harder to keep it real. XB

This debut album proper from Cavern of Anti-Matter – the project formed by Stereolab’s Tim Gane alongside his former bandmate Joe Dilworth and synth player Holger Zapf – was a fascinating display of krautrock filtered electro grooving. The record had the feel of an extended motorik jam, during which Gane clawed his guitar as Zapf’s arpeggios were spurred on by the physicality of Dilworth’s propulsive drumming. A hugely underrated record. TW

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ELYSIA CRAMPTON Elysia Crampton Presents: Demon City Break World Records

WEAVES Weaves Memphis Industries

ZOMBY Ultra Hyperdub

SHY GLIZZY Young Jefe 2 300 Entertainment

JULIANNA BARWICK Will Dead Oceans

18 years since their last album, A Tribe Called Quest returned with this heartfelt comeback record, honouring the legacy of their legendary member Phife Dawg, who passed away this year aged 45. Eulogy, social commentary and space mission in equal measure, We Got It From Here was a triumph. Tribe disciples like Kanye, Kendrick, Anderson .Paak and Andre 3000 all featured but no baton got passed – everyone just felt free to kick it. DH

Elysia Crampton’s work pushes the boundaries of activism, exploring gender politics and notions of identity, nationality and race. Demon City felt like a sonic reinterpretation of Bosch’s Dante’s Inferno – creating a sphere of sonic discomfort that conveyed Crampton’s own alienation as a Bolivian transgender artist in a world of homophobic, transphobic and racist predispositions. GY

There was an authentic riotousness on Weaves’ confident, bombastic debut LP. By combining pop hooks, attention-grabbing riffs, and pleasing injections of skronky noise that maxed out all the dials, the Toronto noise-pop quartet succeeded in creating their own distinctive sound with the guitar/bass/drums format. Weaves was a reminder that, not only can bands be great fun, they can still innovate. SJ

Ultra, like much of Zomby’s output, was deceptively simple. Following a comparatively clean-sounding pair of EPs, Ultra was an album of restraint. The overall pace was slow, and like the experience of being passed a joint by a much more experienced smoker, Zomby demanded that listeners lose themselves and tune into his warped perception of passing time, fluctuating between gentle euphoria and anxious dread. TP

Symptomatic of the blurring distinctions between an album and a mixtape, Washington D.C.’s Shy Glizzy delivered this polished follow-up to his 2014 breakthrough tape via 300 Entertainment. Glizzy remains one of contemporary rap’s most distinctive voices. And by applying his quivering, half-sung style to emotionally resonant beats on tracks like Let It Rain, You Know What and Ride 4 U, Glizzy hinted at the sorrow that shaped his hardened worldview. DR

Julianna Barwick’s music has always emulated rawness, intention and delicacy. Written between Lisbon, New York and North Carolina, Will was a mirror for its surroundings; the spacey reverberations of the Lisbon underpass or the self-made isolation of her New York experience reflected in its intimate glide. It was these varying states – freedom, seclusion and so on – that gave Will a sense of journey. GY

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NAO For All We Know RCA Records

HUERCO S. For Those Of You Who Have Never (And Also Those Who Have) Proibito

Hackney queen Nao’s syrupsweet vocals hit like a tidal wave on For All We Know. With Nao’s fluttering falsettos lapping at the shores of digi-RnB and cosmic-twinged soul, the songs shined bright with evocative lyricism, skulking basslines and hooky avant-pop. On this hotly anticipated debut, Nao embodied the full choir, orchestra and gospel hall. AC

Huerco S. emerged in 2013 with generally murky house and techno alongside noisier approaches to dance music. This year his gaze drifted from the club with this serene, meditative collection of ambient tracks. At times tranquil and at others eerie, the album broadened the appeal Huerco S.’s work while retaining his unkempt charm – dense music to slowly lose yourself in, until it sharply disintegrates, jolting you awake mid-sprawl. AT

KA Honor Killed the Samurai Iron Works Scenes from feudal Japan framed 70s Brownsville life on Ka’s Honor Killed The Samurai, as the stoic rapper demonstrated incredible discipline in his approach to lyricism. Words were used economically, as was sound – his meditative low-registering raps provided rhythm in favour of drums, his steely-eyed anecdotes were orated alongside ghostly soul samples. This is how East Coast traditionalism should be done. GB

WOLF MULLER & CASS The Sound Of Glades International Feel While he may have forged a reputation for drum laden worldly grooves, Wolf Muller displayed his penchant for a more delicate, reflective musical space on this album with Cass. The Sound Of Glades hinted at the label’s Balearic leanings but reached for a more mysterious emotional plain where exotic jungle noises met with sustained ambience and swooning musicality throughout. Meditative excursions don’t come better than this. OW

YOUNG THUG Slime Season 3 300 / Atlantic The third instalment in Young Thug’s Slime Season series was the most polished yet. A masterclass in post-lyrical rap, from the infectious opener With Them Thugger ran wild, exploring rhythmic and melodic pockets and perfecting his previously inconceivable flows. He promised to live life to the fullest on Digits, celebrated his crew on Slime Shit and expressed his love for his fiancé on Worth It, wrapping it all up in a concise half hour. GB

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JAY DANIEL Broken Knowz Technicolour Since making his debut five years ago, Jay Daniel has become one of the leading lights of Detroit house. As such, there was plenty of anticipation for this, his debut album. Fueled by moments of poise and intent, the album's warm, personal feel and looseknit percussive flair – the result of live drums recorded in his mother's basement – made for an impressively assured debut, solidifying his place as part of the modern Detroit vanguard. AT

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SCHOOLBOY Q Blank Face Top Dawg Entertainment

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SURGEON From Farthest Known Objects Dynamic Tension

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TRAVIS SCOTT Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight Grand Hustle

WARPAINT Heads Up Rough Trade

TIM HECKER Love Streams 4AD

OMAR-S The Best! FXHE

Blank Face was both a love letter to the street rap of the mid-2000s and a sprawling blockbuster album. It consolidated Q’s position as South Central’s premier gonzo journalist; Hunter S. Thompson if he’d grown up gang-banging. Q’s brand of street storytelling agonised over the details – dirty jeans, a shattered wing mirror, pissy sofas and Pringles litter his stanzas – painting a vivid picture of the warts-and-all West Coast gangster lifestyle. GB

While Anthony Child has been gleefully exploring experimental pastures under his own name recently, From Farthest Known Objects found the techno pioneer injecting this same adventurous spirit into his dancefloor-minded work. Amongst the amorphous, alien textures from his Buchla synth lied the needlepoint instinct that has made Surgeon such a lasting presence in British club music. OW

There is a depth and sophistication to this LP that evaded Travis Scott up until this point. His innate ability to create and outsource the best beats on the market stepped up a notch and his garbled auto-tuned flow became more sculpted, unveiling a catalogue of tightly-screwed hits which were absent from his debut. Pick Up The Phone will define his legacy as hip-hop’s moonlit hit-machine. DH

Warpaint have always spoken with a singular, inimitable voice – one defined by the spirit of casual experimentation. Heads Up sprawls in a dozen disparate directions – completed by the band’s usual brew of precise detail and dizzying jam sessions, the strange psychic ties which hold the four-piece close slackened slightly, for the better. Heads Up was earnest, warm and complicated. Warpaint have always rewarded patient listeners. Trust them. KH

Tim Hecker said that Love Streams was inspired by the idea of ‘a transcendental voice in the age of auto-tune’. Expressing this by evoking a world of nihilist electronics, Love Streams was a heady decryption of computerised melancholia, a visionary decoding of electronic weeping that was full of revelation and delicacy. TW

There was no ignoring Omar-S’ bluntness on naming his latest album The Best! but the reason he styled it out is because the music steps up to the swagger. In terms of the Detroit producer writing honest machine music, no-one else is throwing it down like the FXHE label boss. From the unfussy funk of Chama Piru’s through to the dubby delights of You Silk Suit Wearing Mulafuk’ka, this was an album that hit you square between the eyes. OW

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MEEK MILL Dreamchasers 4 Dream Chasers / MMG / Atlantic

LET’S EAT GRANDMA I, Gemini Transgressive

OREN AMBARCHI Hubris Editions Mego

VARIOUS ARTISTS Gqom Oh! The Sound of Durban Vol. 1 Gqom Oh!

KYLE HALL From Joy Wild Oats

LIL YACHTY Summer Songs 2 Capitol Records

Dark powers have been conspiring against Meek Mill. His commercial prospects have been frequently stifled by the punitive decisions of eager parole officers and rivals who challenge his reputation online. Dreamchasers 4 was the comeback mixtape. And with grade A guests such Young Thug, 21 Savage, Pusha T and Nicki Minaj by his side, Meek rapped with a level of intensity that remains pretty much unrivaled. DR

It feels like Let’s Eat Grandma appeared from nowhere. The teenage duo make escapist, DIY pop that crackles with just enough eccentricity to sound organic, without feeling too earthy. And built on a seemingly otherworldly kinship, I, Gemini, was easily one of the most original albums to appear in 2016. BB

Hubris was a confident continuation of Oren Ambarchi’s work in its exploration of relentless, driving rhythms. A form which seems repetitive in this case was a result of careful, meticulous work – layers of bass guitars, retouched percussion, slipped in aleatoric synthesiser. Its form captured a spiritual, ritualistic headspace where you could lose yourself in the sound, bypass any sense of time, and fall into its unconscious journey. JK

By far one of this year’s most significant gqom compilations, this was a comprehensive collection of tracks’ from the thrilling South African genre. The low bitrate production was minimal, like rough sketches of loose ideas. But the boisterous charge of outings from the likes of Emo Kid and Cruel Boyz proved that gqom is a form of dance still in its teething infancy, and that the Durban movement continues to gain strength. TW

No longer the wunderkind Detroit producer with the city’s musical legacy on his shoulders, From Joy felt like a refined and mature album from Kyle Hall. But, as it turned out, it was compiled of tracks Hall made as a teenager in his dad’s basement. Plucking from the loose, improvisational feel of jazz and his raw house framework, there was a sense of freedom and wide-eyed exploration to the album's shimmering backdrops. AT

Released in the summer of discontent, the unwavering optimism of Lil Yachty on his second mixtape was a breath of fresh air. The King of the Teens burst into the year against a backdrop of colourful pixels and bright-sounding trap beats. For some it was a refreshing blast of carefree enthusiasm, for others it was a nauseating piss-take from a millennial chancer. The debate continues. Next stop: the album. DH

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DARKTHRONE Arctic Thunder Peaceville

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Arctic Thunder was Darkthrone’s sixteenth studio album. The name, as founder Fenriz detailed, is in reference to a typically obscure Norwegian band from the late 80s. It also worked in encapsulating the record’s emotive timbre. Incorporating elements of speed metal, crust punk, and distinctly traditional heavy metal, Arctic Thunder was a genuinely accessible metal record that endorsed all aspects of the genre’s budding conventions. TW

GIGGS Landlord SN1 Records Having always operated slightly to the left of grime’s conventional blueprints, Landlord was an offkilter trap masterpiece built from fierce lyricism and high class production. Giggs’ vocal style – a slow, conversational flow that relies on charisma rather than agility – has always been more suited to spacious, US-style beats. Landlord reminded us there’s depth to the Hollowman’s craft. TW

DJ EARL Open Your Eyes Teklife

NXWORRIES Yes Lawd! Stones Throw

Back in February, DJ Earl revealed he was working on a project with contributions from high profile experimentalist Oneohtrix Point Never. While the news came as a pleasant surprise, the collaboration made total sense. Open Your Eyes was an adventure in sonics, melody and rhythm for which Earl moved away from footwork’s traditionally masculine spirit towards jazzier and more ambient moods. Once you pressed play, it felt like anything was possible. DR

The union of Anderson .Paak and Knxwledge as NxWorries followed Stones Throw’s fine tradition of officiating mind-blowing duos – also see Madvillain, Jaylib and 7 Days of Funk. With the 19 songs of Yes Lawd! rarely extending beyond the three minute mark, it was as if .Paak was so excited by Knx’s golden soul collages that he could barely sit still. Destined to become a cult classic. GB

KORNEL KOVACS The Bells Studio Barnhus As one third of the team behind Stockholm’s Studio Barnhus label, Kornel Kovacs’ freewheeling sound has been at its most popular when shot through with mischief. The Bells spread Kovacs’ quirky aesthetic across a varied selection of off-centre dance music to cinematic effect. As one of the key characters bringing fun back to the dancefloor, Kovacs’ debut album was refreshingly grounded yet suitably smirky. AT

THEE OH SEES A Weird Exists Castle Face Records Here, garage rock powerhouse John Dwyer further pursued the tangent he took since dissolving Thee Oh Sees’ ‘classic’ line-up in 2013. The dual drummer set up made for a twitching rhythmic backdrop for Dwyer to Jackson Pollock over with vocals, guitar and synths, creating swirling licks, muscular pulses and the fidgety groove of Barrett-era Pink Floyd that eventually doused itself in glitchy, fuzzed-out guitar before imploding on itself completely. IO


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STEVEN JULIEN Fallen Apron Records

VARIOUS ARTISTS Mambos Levis D’Outro Mundo Príncipe

CHANCE THE RAPPER Coloring Book Self-Released

RAIME Tooth Blackest Ever Black

Fallen was the most frank, autobiographical work from Steven Julien, fka Funkineven, to date. Its12 tracks advertised different aspects of his production style, with jazzy piano loops, spiralling acid house and twisted breakbeat. The fallen angel concept gave Julien a chance to explore two contradictory elements of his own personality, but Fallen was, at its core, a collection of superb tracks bouncing with an idiosyncratic energy. AG

For the debut Príncipe compilation, founders of the scene presented their work alongside newer figures. The tightly locked grooves, clipped afrobeat syncopations and raw cut-and-paste sampling were all emblematic of “the Príncipe sound”, but the stylistic range on display here painted a more rounded picture – an ensemble cast of outsiders growing into their own ever-evolving method and dismantling influences to form a culture which is theirs. DH

With brags about his artistic independence and loving references to his baby daughter and her mother, Coloring Book was a calendar of growth for Chance The Rapper. Sonically, the project gathered the warmth of a Sunday choir at a Baptist church into forward-thinking hip-hop production, making the record feel like the gospel for the non-domination: come as you are, leave your burdens at the altar, and be thankful to witness another day. NB

With their debut full length Quarter Turns Over A Living Line, Raime dove deep into post-rock, placing preference on distorted guitar drones and sparse, syncopated drums over electronics. With their sophomore Raime album Tooth, they stripped it right down to bone marrow. There was a suggestive restraint in each track, which wanted to explode but never did, and Raimes’ prolonged tease only enriched its appeal. AD

With commanding assertiveness, rising Oakland rapper Kamaiyah provided this irresistable summer soundtrack with her debut mixtape. Embracing the Bay Area’s traditional hyphy sound with a luxurious-sounding twist, A Good Night in the Ghetto reflected on drinking out of the bottle and being too high to drive, alongside assured reflections on living your best life while you’re still young. Someday Kamaiyah’s “Woopty Woos!” will be iconic. AC

This high quality and diverse posthumous album unearthed 14 unreleased DJ Rashad tracks created with collaborators from both Teklife’s young and elder generation, proving the genre's potential for futurism. It seems that the polished, high-energy formula of the late Rashad Harden will serve as a benchmark for the many footwork producers who continue to take inspiration from his work. XB

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DANNY BROWN Atrocity Exhibition Warp

FRANKIE COSMOS Next Thing Bayonet Records

DRAKE Views OVO Sound

JUAN ATKINS + MORITZ VON OSWALD Transport Tresor

FRANK OCEAN Endless Def Jam

JENNY HVAL Blood Bitch Sacred Bones

When it was announced that Views had been streamed one billion times, Drake celebrated the milestone by posing with a framed plaque alongside Apple CEO Tim Cook. In that very moment, his transition from slushy meme-machine to unconquerable corporate commodity was complete. Views was a blockbuster showcase of a quintessentially modern megastar who offers his fans strength and guidance. DH

Collaborative efforts in techno don’t come much weightier than the marrying of its two most distinct focus points: Berlin dub techno originator Moritz Von Oswald, and one of Detroit’s foremost techno pioneers – Juan Atkins. Transport felt modern, but also leaned on consistently strong periods of engaging repetition, morphing, winding and bending across seven tracks. There was genuine magic here. TF

It’s easy to look back on Frank Ocean’s pair of releases this year and assume that Endless was some kind of support act, in place to set the stage for his more conventional full-length Blond[e]. But it’s when you allow Endless to exist as its own entity when it begins to fly. Largely beatless, the record and its accompanying visual of Ocean slowly building a spiralling staircase is one of the year’s most rewarding, replayfriendly treasures. DH

Jenny Hval asserted that Blood Bitch was about blood, menstruation and vampires, and these ideas fed into grander themes – desire, control, and confusion. While this was Hval’s most accessible work so far, there were jarring moments too – field recordings reminiscent of the sound of urination, screeching feedback, and ripping electronic organ to shake you out of the dreamy reflection the sway of her gorgeous synth-pop had lulled you into. SJ

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HIEROGLYPHIC BEING The Disco’s of Imhotep Technicolour

SAVAGES Adore Life Matador

NICOLAS JAAR Sirens Other People

Avant-garde electronic music is frequently in thrall to the spiritual abandon and healing resonance of sound. Even then, Jamal Moss operates on a higher plane. This concise nine-tracker was indebted to the spirit of the titular Egyptian demigod and healer. From the languid temple shimmer of The Shrine of the Serpent Goddess to the gloriously unnerving finale Nubian Energy, The Disco’s of Imhotep was frequently sublime. TH

“Do you adore life?” was the question Savages asked with their second album, and Jehnny Beth’s answer, posed in an age when caring is anything but cool, delivered an unexpected punch for any jaded millennial. Savages have always been defiant, but this might be the ultimate statement of contempt for a capitalist society intent on destroying your sense of self-worth. SJ

Since Space is Only Noise, Nicolas Jaar had put out an impressive body of work. But it had been half a decade since he’d released a full-length solo album, and Sirens felt like an important milestone. This was another exemplary album with depth and maturity which confirmed that Jaar, at the age of 26, has established himself as a significant figure in the world of experimental electronic music. AC

NONAME Telefone Self-released Hailing from the school of Chicago rap’s new romantics, Telefone found Noname looking inward and breathing out preparation for adulthood. The album was full of gentle melodies, live instrumentation and a standard of ruminative poetics developed from years of open mic sessions and piles of notepads. Already, Noname has shown an emotional intelligence and artistic freedom beyond her years. DH

KAMAIYAH A Good Night in the Ghetto Self-released

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With 2013's Old, Danny Brown inflated the drug-addled, sexobsessed rock star persona he’d created for himself until it exploded, leaving the scraps of his troubled psyche exposed. So where did he go for there? Having signed to Warp, this year Brown was free to embrace his experimental urges with regular producer Paul White. Atrocity Exhibition would have been too exhausting if the music wasn’t so obscenely great. DR

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DJ RASHAD Afterlife Teklife

Greta Kline’s second studio album as Frankie Cosmos drew from the same heart line as the 40+ record she’s released via BandCamp catalogue, but this time the cult songwriter was looking out of her bedroom window and forward, to the future. With perfectly pitched pop melodies, each intimate diaristic story was full of modest charm. KH

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MITSKI Puberty 2 Dead Oceans

KAYTRANADA 99.9% XL Recordings

Mitski sold out a stream of shows this year in the wake of her remarkably honest fourth album, Puberty 2. Musically, it was hard to pigeonhole: punches of skronky noise flicker, drum machines stutter, but rich guitars, strings and Mitski’s goosebump-inducing vocals permeated most deeply. Lyrically, it was easier to define: surely this is as close to poetry as songwriting gets. Lavishly wrought, yet starkly human. SJ

We’re going to be listening to this record for years to come. Just in time for the summer, Kaytranada proved once and for all that being a SoundCloud phenomenon can’t stop you from making a full-length full of gloss, warmth and lively exuberance. From a bank of day-glo samples and and razor-sharp beats, the producer and an ensemble cast of collaborators created one of 2016’s most rounded and enjoyable party records. DH

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HINDS Leave Me Alone Lucky Number

PANGAEA In Drum Play Hessle Audio

Judging by the support Hinds garnered from the international press, the band’s wonderfully chaotic, unpretentious approach to garage rock was gratefully received. The Madrid four-piece’s ramshackle flush of energy and effortless chemistry, which was felt in the loose surf guitar riffs and off-the-cuff harmonies, made Leave Me Alone’s 12 modern day love songs sound fresh despite their explicitly retro influences. SJ

Pangaea’s debut album landed when the big room techno proliferation looked as though it might turn back inwards as the UK struggled to hold onto larger spaces to host underground sounds. But In Drum Play felt more akin in spirit to the mythos of intimate nights like FWD>> and DMZ in that its daring fusions of sounds were more likely to delight the select crowd than satisfy the masses. And most importantly, the album felt natural, with all the disparate influences gently merged for a cohesive body of work. OW

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SKEPTA Konnichiwa Boy Better Know Grime rarely flourishes with the LP format – its spontaneous magic is best captured via sketchy footage and radio broadcasts. But despite Konnichiwa’s flaws, this was the sound of Skepta winning after his genre had been ditched by the industry and stigmatised by the media, and to see the Tottenham producer and MC rewarded for returning to his roots, regaining his integrity and raising a middle-finger to the major label snakes was totally exhilarating. DR

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RAE SREMMURD SremmLife 2 Interscope / Ear Drummers On the much-anticipated follow-up to the hitmachine that was their debut, Rae Sremmurd gleefully threw any artistic inhibitions out the window. Swae Lee’s unique songwriting style and scratchy squawks were offset by the forceful delivery of his brother Slim Jxmmi, who practically exploded on the aptly titled opener Start A Party. The Gucci Mane collaboration Black Beatles was a banger for the ages, and Set The Roof saw the brothers team up with crunk emperor Lil Jon, acknowledging the forefather of their philosophy – an unapologetic expression of youthful energy. DH

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BEST ALBUMS

RIHANNA ANTI Westbury Road / Roc Nation

ANDERSON. PAAK Malibu Steel Wool

PJ HARVEY The Hope Six Demolition Project Island Records

YG Still Brazy 400 / CTE / Def Jam

In an online culture of piping-hot takes and quick turnarounds on album verdicts, it’s albums like ANTI which justify the end-of-year reflection period in music journalism. As we waited for Rihanna’s eighth record to be some kind of spectacle – a landmark release to celebrate a decade in the game – ANTI emerged low-key and unbothered. At a glance, it seemed uninteresting. Rihanna looked directionless, flitting between styles with no real bite. What felt like aimlessness, in retrospect, was emblematic of a blissful, drifting freedom. Months later and hidden shades and undertones are still being discovered in ANTI. The weightlessness of Work, the cold stare of Desperado and the triumphant glow of Kiss It Better. A career highlight from an artist who continues to elude classification. DH

The second LP from California native .Paak was perhaps the finest hip-hop confessional since good kid m.A.A.d city. But while the more notable moments of Kendrick’s opus detailed the pain of adolescence, Malibu’s highlights showed us a man coming to terms with multiple traumas – an absent father, a gambling mother, a spell of homelessness. Heavy indeed, yet standout tracks like The Season / Carry Me and Am I Wrong flowed with all the breezy, irresistible soul you’d expect from any true West Coast star. XB

The Hope Six Demolition Project’s lyrical content drew heavily from PJ Harvey’s wanderings to places of social struggle and warfare, including Kosovo, Afghanistan and Washington D.C. Where 2011‘s Let England Shake existed in a century-old dialogue that leant itself to tearful melancholy, Hope Six was upfront, stark and contemporary. The connections between Harvey’s lyrical inspirations and her intent weren’t always easy to decipher, but the power of her delivery mirrored the determination of an artist who’s never afraid to embrace the pain. TF

Still Brazy idealised YG as the Westside’s most credible current representative. Much could be made of the throwback L.A. vibe defining these beats, but YG wasn’t paying homage here so much as inserting himself into a tradition. There’s no shortage of triumphalism in hip-hop, but when it’s presented in such an engaging storytelling style it’s easier to embrace. You couldn’t help but smirk along with the Bool, Balm & Bollective narrative, which ultimately humanised YG in ways a dozen DJ Mustard smashes never could. GS


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POWELL Sport XL

CAR SEAT HEADREST Teens of Denial Matador

BITCHIN BAJAS AND BONNIE ‘PRINCE’ BILLY Epic Jammers and Fortunate Little Ditties Drag City

21 SAVAGE AND METRO BOOMIN Savage Mode Self-Released

Diagonal boss-man Oscar Powell struck up an unlikely relationship with XL Recordings in 2015, when the indie-powerhouse put out single Sylvester Stallone. Clearly they liked it, as this year they let him put out his first full length. Sport provided the complete picture of Powell’s oddball dancefloor, with abrasive synths, off-kilter samples, poor-quality vocals and signature bone-dry drums bouncing in and out of time. A powerfully refreshing mess. XB

Teens of Denial was a record built on songwriter Will Toledo’s droll introspection. His candid lyrics were anchored by musical influences that ranged from subtle nods to the scratchy pop of Guided By Voices to a full blown interpolation of Dido’s White Flag. The result was an album that was direct, relatable, smartly funny and technically brilliant. Toledo is a commanding songwriter whose self-deprecating sense of humour elevates him beyond flocks of merely adequate contemporaries. Teens of Denial is, thus far, his masterpiece. BB

Recorded in just one day at the home of Will Oldham, aka Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, this free-spirited jam session with Chicago trio Bitchin Bajas conjured up majestical results. Coasting along at a meditative pace, you visualised the musicians gallantly nodding to each other to allow organ, Oldham’s hushed lyrical rambling or Gamelan instrumentation to take lead. ‘May life throw you a pleasant curve,’ Oldham sang endearingly during the record’s opener. A consoling aural anaesthetic for the painful malady of present life. TW

Having established himself as one of Atlanta’s greatest producers, Metro Boomin teamed up with 21 Savage, widely considered to be the city’s hardest up-and-coming rapper, for this nine track mixtape. The key to Savage Mode’s success was Metro’s commitment to a sad and paranoid mood which provided a powerful palette for 21’s croaky, seemingly disaffected delivery. Having convinced us that he has “no heart”, that he’s a “bad guy”, 21 Savage revealed his other side on the unlikely love ballad Feel It: “These streets so dirty I just want someone who really there/ Can’t fake love, just want someone who really care”. A melancholy masterpiece. DR

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RADIOHEAD A Moon Shaped Pool XL Recordings

YOUNG THUG JEFFERY 300 / Atlantic

DVSN Sept 5th OVO Sound

PARQUET COURTS Human Performance Rough Trade

While many of the nuances of A Moon Shaped Pool were pure Godrich/Greenwood, the majesty that oversaw the album was Thom Yorke. A gnarling Yorke this was not. This was a man whose 23 year relationship had ended and who was restarting and relearning. Daydreaming was Yorke at his most ponderous, and one of Radiohead’s most poignant pieces since Pyramid Song, the lyrical content on Present Tense was either a barbed commentary, or unbearably sad. Throughout A Moon Shaped Pool, the music arrangements were often soft, dreamlike almost, with the music sedating the anxiety of Yorke’s lyrics as if the reality itself would be too painful. TF

2016 was yet another banner year for Young Thug. And of the three projects he released, JEFFERY was deemed the most significant, partly due to the content-generating eccentricity of the track titles and the stunning beauty of the cover art, for which he wore an androgynous design by Italian designer Alessandro Trincone. Most important, however, was the way Thug rose to the occasion in the project’s second half, contorting pop melodies to create some of the strangest sounding odes to love and sex ever performed with human vocal chords. DR

The introspective, between-the-sheets RnB on Sept 5th was as enigmatic as the duo behind it. The debut release from OVO’s mysterious dvsn, its most intimate moments were crafted from restraint, with an intricate sparseness that pierced like daylight through blinds. Humbly indebted to 90s slow jams, it carried the flavour of Ginuwine while avoiding teeth-clenching brassiness – the slick production by Paul Jefferies (Nineteen85) felt like a gentle, deep lip bite, while Daniel Daley’s vocal crescendos on Hallucinations and Too Deep traced every single goosebump. dvsn’s narrative is defined by sex that’s soul-searching and existential, respectful and breathtakingly carnal. AC

Parquet Courts have been outsmarting us since their inception. Many found the band’s 2015 experimental EP Monastic Living almost obnoxiously obtuse, but hindsight reveals it to be the creative reset they needed ahead of Human Performance – Parquet Courts’ fifth and greatest album to date. Human Performance was an anxious and energetic record, one that was alternatively silly and strangely profound. Take I Was Just Here – a song that documented the feeling of finding out a fast food restaurant has closed while also capturing the terrifying transience of our existence on this mad, bad planet. KH

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BEYONCÉ Lemonade Parkwood / Columbia

FRANK OCEAN Blond[e] Boys Don’t Cry

KAITLYN AURELIA SMITH EARS Western Vinyl

ANGEL OLSEN MY WOMAN Jagjaguwar

A politically-charged audio-visual project, Lemonade was so much more than an album – it was iconography for black women, a pictorial novel of strength and salvation illustrating the grieving process after heartache. Freedom celebrated the significance of feminine strength (“I break chains all by myself/ Won’t let my freedom rot in hell”) while the visuals paired the lyrics with appearances from the mothers of Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown. Aside from peering into Beyoncé’s personal affairs, Lemonade allowed the listener to dig deep and appreciate the journey of black women who advocate the idea of community and the ultimate power of salvation. NB

It wouldn’t be much of an overstatement to call Blond[e] the most anticipated record of the decade. Symbolic of Frank Ocean’s eternal magnetism, what existed at the centre of all the attention was an unassuming kind of genius. With abstract, impressionistic lyrics and a small cosmos of neo-RnB styles, the album played out like a quiet finale to the hype that went before it. More captivating on every listen, Ocean’s exploration of unfound romance and 21st century identity is underpinned by an essential curiosity – demonstrating a childlike worldview that contradicts the ‘wise-beyond-his-years’ narrative which is so often assigned to his artistry. As he sings on the final line of White Ferrari, Ocean’s long awaited comeback finds him defiantly “free to roam”. DH

Glittering, opalescent and enchanting, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith’s cosmic opus EARS landed as if from another star in April. Cloaked in a velvety swathe of Smith’s universal, unintelligible language, EARS was deftly funnelled through the mess of wires that populate Smith’s Buchla Music Easel and into glorious sonic Technicolor. It was easy to imagine as a soundtrack to an electric ecosystem yet to be discovered: strange shivers of woodwind bubble against purrs of chattering synths, before repeatedly returning to irresistible loops of hypnotic horn. The album glowed from the outside in: a magical excursion into a limitless world of swirling celestial possibilities. SJ

Angel Olsen’s third full-length, MY WOMAN, was a lesson in self-possession. Using streaks of pop, soul, rock and Motown, Olsen owned every inch of her elastic voice, and showcased a kaleidoscope of emotion via an upbeat A-side, and a more lotempo, but no less captivating, B-side. Defiance, depth, heartbreak and humour spun convincing webs over each track. “I dare you to understand what makes me a woman,” she challenged on Sister, a heart-achingly powerful torch song. MY WOMAN only illustrated that what makes a woman is far too much to know. SJ

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KENDRICK LAMAR untitled unmastered. Top Dawg / Aftermath / Interscope With its modest presentation, many assumed untitled unmastered. to be something of an extended footnote to last year’s epic To Pimp A Butterfly album, yet this material was far too special to be denounced as demos. Showcasing the stranger side of Kendrick Lamar’s style, here his battle cries were tenebrous, producing some of the most avant-garde music to be released for the hip-hop mainstream. And on untitled unmastered., Kendrick sounded truly free to be whatever he wanted to be. TW

BLOOD ORANGE Freetown Sound Domino In Manhattan, Donald Trump received less than eight percent of the vote. New Yorkers know a phony when they see one. Dev Hynes, the Londoner who has made his home in NYC, is not a phony, and with Freetown Sound, his latest as Blood Orange, he delivered one of the most buoyant albums of the year, overflowing with gauzy, mid-tempo percussion, synths and strings, earthy jazz, and nods to mother Africa. In addition to Hynes’s signature grooves, Freetown Sound was teeming with ideas about identity. But this was not a political album. Hynes is not a polemicist. This was art. We need more of it. LC

DAVID BOWIE Blackstar RCA / Columbia / Sony

SHOW ME THE BODY Body War Loma Vista

David Bowie’s death at the beginning of the year was a tragedy of popular culture, yet the enduring celebrations of his spectacular legacy prove that he won’t be forgotten. Blackstar was Bowie’s incredible parting gift to the world. Released on his 69th birthday, the immediate response was of fascination. Following his departure two days later, the record took on a deeply haunting force, presenting itself as less of an album and more of a last will and testament. A truly bewitching record with enough nuances to warrant a thousand listens. TW

Body War is barbarous and lawless. It is the embodiment of nonconformity; the sound of rabid dogs grinding their canines. Show Me The Body’s rasping sounds rip at the veins of hardcore punk, hip-hop and the blues, and the New York trio are spiked with hostility towards the piggish nature of America’s ethically skewed law enforcement. Julian Cashwan Pratt’s ferocious distorted banjo and shrill bark wrestle with an agile and ferocious rhythm section, resulting in an explosive concoction which makes Body War one of the most original and urgent punk albums in years. TW

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ANOHNI Hopelessness Rough Trade Hopelessness was 2016’s most outwardly political pop, tackling major social issues with an unflinching stare. Against a backdrop of apocalyptic late-capitalism, drone warfare, mass surveillance, climate change, Anohni’s unsettlingly elegant croons, alongside the sleek bombast of its framework created by co-producers Hudson Mohawke and Oneohtrix Point Never, forcefully confronted our disbelief at the state of the world. With track titles like Drone Bomb Me and Why Did You Separate Me From The Earth?, at the point of its release it turned the feedback loop of a decade’s toxic news into a profoundly melancholy piece of art. At the end of 2016, its dissection of the American dream couldn’t feel more vital. Hopelessness was by no means a perfect political statement, but in denying us escapism it offered something else entirely. This was the sound of an artist committing gut-wrenching desperation to song in a way that’s seldom been explored before. For all its depictions of death and destruction, it was underpinned by the muchneeded tonic of warmth and raw, human emotion. A soaring battle cry; an urgent embrace. AT

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KANYE WEST The Life of Pablo GOOD Music / Dej Jam / Roc-A-Fella

SOLANGE A Seat At The Table Saint Heron

NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS Skeleton Tree Bad Seed Ltd.

Kanye West’s artistic identity – erratic and unpredictable – is driven by impulse. And with The Life of Pablo, West’s disregard for convention was more prevalent than ever. With the music industry’s shift to streaming platforms, West spotted the opportunity to adjust the record post-release, to add gospel backing vocals, change lyrics, split tracks, to reject the concept of completion and declare The Life of Pablo a “living breathing changing creative expression”. Since West first jammed an aux cable in his laptop to unveil the album to the world at its live-streamed Madison Square Garden launch in February, The Life of Pablo has stood the test of time, despite the media’s hastily delivered criticism. From Chance The Rapper’s hair-raising devotions on opener Ultralight Beam, to the subzero stillness of Real Friends, the glorious crescendos of the Father Stretch… suite and Kanye and Kendrick’s charismatic back-and-forth on No More Parties in L.A, there are moments on Pablo which will reverberate for generations to come. Harnessing an enormous list of producers and guest vocalists, West’s unwavering confidence led to an album that is disparate and scattered, sometimes ugly, and often beautiful. West, who referred to himself here as a “38-year-old 8-yearold”, is deeply connected to the idea of creativity as freedom, the feeling of being liberated, or at least wanting to be. As another Pablo wrote, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” DH

On a Friday evening in September 2016, Solange Knowles attended a Kraftwerk gig in New Orleans. While dancing, she was reportedly told to “sit down” by a group of white women, who proceeded to pelt her with half-eaten limes. In response to the incident, the artist penned a piece on her website Saint Heron entitled: And Do You Belong? – I Do. Solange’s Saint Heron platform shares its name with a compilation album she released on her label, Saint Records, back in 2013. The intent of Saint Heron is to support the advancement of people of colour – specifically in the creative sectors. In the aforementioned post, she wrote of the instance at the concert and other similar experiences she’s faced as a black woman. Essentially, the sentiment behind many of her words can be summarised by this excerpt: “‘This is why many black people are uncomfortable being in predominately white spaces.’” Carving out a space of her own, from the outset of her third album A Seat at the Table, Solange’s enduring desire to empower is clear. “Fall in your ways so you can wake up and rise,” she purrs on opening track Rise, while on follow-up track Weary, she repeats the telling statement: “I’m weary of the ways of the world.” Musically, the album is an amalgamation of genres Solange is accustomed to – there’s no mistaking the elements of dreamy RnB and futuristic funk in its soft, meditative sway. The difference here though, is that there’s much more substance behind her signature harmonies than ever. Solange imbued this album with a narrative steeped in the experience of blackness in America as well as an engaging, deeply personal insight into her own identity. In a press release, Solange called the album a “project on identity, empowerment, independence, grief and healing.” Her sister Beyoncé may have shown us what happens when life gives you lemons, and here Solange teaches us how to respond when life throws you limes. LG

During an interview for French television in 1994, Nick Cave reflected on his life-affirming discovery of Leonard Cohen’s music, dismissing the criticism of his young friends who couldn’t understand the poignant power of Cohen’s Songs of Love and Hate LP. “The sadness of Cohen was inspiring; it gave me a lot of energy,” Cave said. “I always remember this when someone says that my records are morbid or depressing.” Cohen is among the list of incredible songwriters who have left us this year, but Nick Cave remains. And if Cave wasn’t born with the innate talent of his musical heroes, then he has earned it over many years, learning how to communicate lust, despair and everything in between with raw emotion and the dignity of good poetry. Once in a while an album comes along which proves that music can transcend its basic function as entertainment to become something much more vital. Skeleton Tree is one of those records. The tragic passing of Nick Cave’s teenage son Arthur influenced the creative process of Skeleton Tree, and it certainly influences the listener’s experience of it. This is an album about breaking down in the supermarket, the long black car that waits round the corner and the phone line that rings non-stop before it suddenly forgets you. And at times, it’s an album which feels almost too honest to bear. But it’s important to recognise that Skeleton Tree is also an album about love. These songs could not have been conceived without Warren Ellis, who’s been developing a unique emotional and musical bond with Nick Cave for over two decades. Having given Cave the space he needs during album’s saddest moments with restrained, delicate musicianship, Ellis and the Bad Seeds return for to the forefront with a warm chorus of backing vocals for the album’s heartbreaking centrepiece I Need You, supporting what is among the most emotive vocal performances of Cave’s entire career. And with the tender beauty of the album’s final two tracks, Cave’s words feel as if they’re grasping onto a sense of hope that seemed unimaginable earlier in the record. In 2016, Skeleton Tree was the album which taught us that, no matter how vast the darkness may seem, in the distance you’ll be able to see the morning sun rising once again. DR

BEST ALBUMS

04


063

Tracks 

BEST TRACKS

Words: Lauretta Charlton, Tomas Fraser, Anna Tehabsim, Joe Charlton, Sammy Jones, Thomas D. Frost, Duncan Harrison, Davy Reed, Oli Warwick, Jason Hunter, Tom Watson


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AVALON EMERSON The Frontier Whities

DEATH GRIPS Eh Third Worlds / Harvest

DESIIGNER Panda G.O.O.D. / Def Jam

Avalon Emerson has become one of the most distinctive figures in dance music this year. The title track from her Whities debut, The Frontier kicked up the amber dust of her childhood spent in the desert of Gilbert, Arizona. With a jolting bassline that drives forward the strains of a deep synth melody, it was a loving ode to her home, and a mirror for the beauty found in harsh surroundings. AT

The standout track on Death Grips’ Bottomless Pit was an ode to giving zero fucks. ‘Who you think you are?/ Fucks like, ‘Do you know who I am?’/ Fucks fail to understand, I’m like, ‘Eh’,’ wailed MC Ride over a warbling techno structure. The track’s cathartic aggression made it a highlight at Death Grips’ live shows this year, which often bordered on bloodshed. The perfect punk putdown to a year riddled with celebrity and bullshit. TDF

With his barked, garbled syllables and deranged onstage contortions, Desiigner was one of the year’s strangest newcomers and Panda was the anthem that unleashed him on the world. While it could have been written off as a Future rip-off, after being weaved into Kanye West’s Father Stretch My Hands Pt.2, the track quickly took on a life of its own. It’s not often you get super-hits which pretty much nobody knows the words to. DH

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PEARSON SOUND XLB Pearson Sound

NOVELIST Street Politician Self-released

YOUNG THUG F Cancer (Boosie) ft. Quavo 300 / Atlantic

David Kennedy’s sole release of the year proved less can indeed be more – the Pearson Sound style adheres to some key minimalist principles even as it shape-shifts over time. XLB was certainly populated by trademark crisp sounds, but the trickling dew drops that made the track instantly identifiable. Strapped to a needlepoint drum machine jack, XLB made for a devastatingly effective club weapon. OW

Novelist, who ran for Young Mayor of Lewisham when he was 15, has often laced his music with political undercurrents, and as remorseless right-wing governments tighten their grasp, tracks like Street Politician resonate even louder. Opening with a sample of David Cameron’s speech about the London riots, Street Politician projected the raw anger of this strong-minded teenage MC. TF

Those who’ve witnessed Young Thug in the studio have returned awe-struck by an innate sense of timing and melody. A prime example of Thug’s unorthodox genius was F Cancer. Kicking off with a shoutout to the troubled Baton Rouge legend Boozie Badazz, Thug then left an unbroken trail of addictive hooks to be succeed by Quavo, who’s proved himself to be 2016’s most sought-after guest rapper. DR

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METRONOMY Old Skool Because

BEST TRACKS

For Metronomy’s Summer 08 album, Joe Mount retreated into the hedonistic fantasy of his indie disco days. While the concept wore thin across the LP, Mount perfected his tongue-in-cheek funkiness with lead single Old Skool – a goofy floor-filler with precise percussion, an irresistible bassline and turntables scratches that had no right to sound this great. Those who claimed they weren’t feeling this one were probably bullshitting you. JH

LAST JAPAN Ascend ft. AJ Tracey Coyote Records Following years of intermediate successes, Last Japan has been finding his stride. Ascend was a glacial echoing of distant sci-fi synths and hovering hi-hats. With this ethereal instrumentation cast against AJ Tracey’s rapid delivery, Ascend was another stunning example of what’s possible when leftfield producers team up with the UK’s greatest MCs. TW

MIDLAND Final Credits ReGraded Appearing on Midland’s new, disco-indebted label ReGraded, Final Credits was this year’s lowkey summer soundtrack, melting dancefloors across Europe with its giddy vocal sample, euphoric synths and dusty disco drums. By the time the track’s second wind kicked in, you felt the kind of soaring summer heat that’ll have you gleefully embracing strangers. AT

22

DBRIDGE Cos My Love Is Exit Records

21

20

SHEER MAG Nobody’s Baby Static Shock / Wilsuns

LEONARD COHEN You Want It Darker Columbia

Tucked away as the B3 on a sixtrack EP, Cos My Love Is could have so easily been overlooked by many, but it was one of the crowning jewels of recent times for the ever-prolific dBridge. As he’s intimated in the past, Darren White sports an arresting singing voice to go with his undoubted production skills, and it played no small part in making this brief, off-kilter slice of neo-soul utterly unforgettable. OW

As the finale to their excellent III EP, Nobody’s Baby was a track which helped establish Sheer Mag as a political force. While the music was nailed down by the band’s trademark 70s classic rock punches, the lyrics veered into punk territory. As vocalist Christina Halladay detached herself from a former lover with the delightfully feminist refrain of “I’m nobody’s baby, I’m nobody’s girl,” you found yourself punching the air. SJ

Leonard Cohen didn’t need to make another great record, but he let us have one more before he departed. The lead single and title track from his final album saw Cohen summon spiritual imagery over a slick and silky instrumentation, and the seasoned growl of his singing voice told the story of a man who maintained a sense of alluring sensuality right up until his final days. We’re going to miss you Leonard. JH

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CHANCE THE RAPPER Mixtape ft. Young Thug & Lil Yachty Self-released A highlight of Chance’s gamechanging Coloring Book release, this melodic ode to the purity of the mixtape format featured great performances from Young Thug and Lil Yachty, with the latter naturally warming to the track’s theme of proud independence: ‘Fuck those reviews that they put in the paper/ Did what I want, didn’t care about a hater’. DH

10

RAE SREMMURD Black Beatles ft. Gucci Mane EarDrummers / Interscope Way before Hilary was doing the #MannequinChallenge, it was obvious Black Beatles was destined to be a hit. There was a kind of melancholy extension of the party-rap formula which Rae Sremmurd have perfected, promising a future for them which goes far beyond frat parties and trailers for Seth Rogen movies. A stargazing anthem which will surely outlive any hashtag. DH

JAPANESE BREAKFAST Everybody Wants to Love You Yellow K

DRAKE One Dance ft. Wizkid & Kyla OVO Sound / Cash Money / Young Money

This sighing, impossibly optimistic boy/girl duet was a suck of pure fresh air on Japanese Breakfast’s sometimes hopeful, sometimes grief-stricken debut LP Psychopomp. Providing a peep through the keyhole at a relationship just reaching full bloom, the song captured the strangeness and lust that stem from that excitingly weird period. SJ

As well as giving him his first solo number one single, One Dance encapsulated Drake’s world-pop vision – where genres and styles from all over the world fuse together to make hits which burst with an all-encompassing, global allure. Wizkid’s afro-pop vocal with Kyla’s UK funky stylings provided the backdrop for this passionate ode to dancefloor therapy, and One Dance was the chart-topper you were never sorry to hear. DH

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DJ TAYE Burnin Ya Boa ft. DJ Manny Hyperdub In 2016, footwork embraced its avant-garde possibilities while remaining loyal to its traditions. Burnin Ya Boa included the signifiers which fuel the Chicago dance – fluttering hi-hats, a palpitating kick drum, a sliced and looped vocal sample. But it also saw Taye and Manny’s samples harness together an emotionally complex mood, with blissful guitar strums giving way to an achingly melancholic saxophone. A transcendental moment. DR

MARK SEVEN The Fatal Flaw In Disco (u-4-ria) World Building After 30 years of house music, it takes something special for a track to cut through the noise and leave an impression. Mark Seven has the experience to know what works, and The Fatal Flaw In Disco hit on every heart-warming trope going. Vocal chops, warm chords and MIDI sax all fed into a perfect dose of heartfelt dancefloor escapism. Isn’t that what house music has always been about? OW


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RIHANNA Work ft. Drake Roc Nation / Westbury Road

RADIOHEAD True Love Waits XL

KANYE WEST Real Friends G.O.O.D. Music / Def Jam

MITSKI Your Best American Girl Dead Oceans

As with many ingenious pop records, it’s hard to figure out exactly what makes Work so remarkable. Maybe it’s the buried sadness – “Nobody text me in a crisis”. Maybe it’s the simplicity – the subtle genius of one lithe synth line looping over and over. Whatever the magic formula is, Work blessed us with an infectious, puzzling, unforgettable single from a superstar we’ll never deserve. DH

The final act of Radiohead’s album return was to open the memory box and finally present us with the definitive version of this mythologised fan favourite. Re-imaging the song in context of Thom Yorke’s own break-up, here True Love Waits was somewhere in limbo, with clocks ticking behind and the line “just don’t leave” giving a song that used to reach for atonement a new mournful presence. The person in question had left a long time ago, and the dusty presence of this song is all that remains. TDF

Looking back at the year Kanye West just had, it’s hard not to hear some prescience in his stunning track Real Friends. Forgotten birthdays, changed-up numbers, botched reunions, the stolen laptop – even given Kanye’s historical mistrust of those closest him, these are hardly the lyrical preoccupations of a man fully in control of either his relationships. Here, instead, was an artist with the midas touch but with no-one trustworthy enough around him to share his riches. Amidst the Twitter rage, the restlessness, the confused political messaging, and the erratic attitude to performances – it’s easy to overlook that no one combines a proclivity for poetic over sharing and a deep desire to disclose vulnerability like Kanye West. How isolating is it to sit on top of the world alone? On Real Friends, Kanye gave his most succinct and sad answer to that question yet: very. JC

Your Best American Girl was the first listen eager fans had of Mitski’s Puberty 2, which turned out to be one of the defining indie rock albums of 2016. Everything about Your Best American Girl pointed towards that fact: from the acoustic twang of the intro that indicated an anthem, to the almostwhispered lyrics of romantic turmoil, and then to the immensely satisfying creshendo of distorted guitar, soaring vocals and crashing drums. Simultaneously political and personal, this was Mitski at her highest power. SJ

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TRAUMPRINZ 2 Bad (Metatron’s What If Madness Is Our Only Relief Mix) Giegling

CAPO LEE Mud ft. D Double E Rinse

BEYONCÉ Formation Parkwood / Columbia

A limited edition version of DJ Metatron’s 2 The Sky release is sitting on Discogs for €200. So what fuels the hype for DJ Metatron (also known as Prince of Denmark or Traumprinz, the Giegling label’s cult favourite)? It’s likely a combination of his enigmatic image and the enchanting tenderness of his productions. Originally appearing in 2015’s lauded This Is Not mix, this track in particular built an impressively bittersweet and timeless feeling from a few elements: driving percussion, sweeping synth swells and a poignant vocal sample which created a kind of sad euphoria. This track was testament to how faceless electronic music can powerfully evoke emotion, and how disarmingly delicate sounds will flood your gut with feels. AT

Where many MCs would strive to go one harder than the beat they’ve been allocated, North London’s Capo Lee has an approach which sets him apart, with his confidently relaxed, on-butoff-the-beat flow exploring the pockets of space within an instrumental. On this perfect single, which also ranks as one of producer Sir Spyro’s finest moments, the rising MC filled that space with preemptive vocal bursts, each landing with ‘Mud’: “The way I came in the game and shelled everything in sight was – Mud!” It made deep impact in the clubs, where crowds would bark back the lyrics louder than Capo could spray them. Seriously powerful stuff. TF

Go hard or go home has pretty much been the theme of Beyoncé’s entire career, but on this song the beautiful Texas bama ratcheted it up several levels and traded in the sensual vibes on her previous album for some straight-up political commentary about black pride – from baby afros to Jackson Five nostrils. The blues guitar and the brass give this hard-hitting rap beat a Southern gothic twang, and Bey’s lyrics are charged with a stinging, rebellious warning for corny haters who want to stop her from twirling. But this isn’t just a banger about self-love and self-respect. As the title suggests, Formation is a battle cry urging anyone who knows what it feels like to be doubted by their critics to step up, get coordinated, and get to slaying. It's undoubtedly the most powerful track of the year. LC

BEST TRACKS

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Autumn & Winter 2016

RUN LOLA RUN OST

PAVO PAVO

“Lola Rennt”

“Young Narrator In The Breakers”

Music from the cult classic Run Lola Run receives inaugural vinyl pressing

“like Brian Wilson running amok with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop”

LIMITED EDITION DOUBLE RED VINYL

GUARDIAN

TASSEOMANCY

THE TROUBLE WITH TEMPLETON

“Do Easy”

“Someday, Buddy”

“a record of shades and shifting colours and a warm, graceful luxuriousness”

“like The Lips doing The Beatles”

DIY

GUARDIAN


067

EPs 

BEST EPs

Words: Sammy Jones, Gunseli Yalcinkaya, Tom Watson, Anna Tehabsim, Duncan Harrison, Davy Reed


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LORENZO SENNI Persona Warp

DJ MARFOX Chapa Quente Principe

APHEX TWIN Cheetah Warp

Milan-based producer Lorenzo Senni has been crafting a distinctive sound often referred to as “pointilist trance” for some time now. His drum-less formula features garishly euphoric synth arpeggios which often tease a drop which never happens. It’s an intensely emotional style of music, and Senni’s Persona EP saw him flesh it out with melodic chords while exploring the sad and relatable concept of “rave voyeurism”. DR

The batida OG returned to the Príncipe shelves this year for a typically savage outing of industrial clomp and genre-spinning dynamism. Framed as a “return to his roots”, the EP ranges from the frenetic panpipe pandemonium of 2865 to the mellow pulse of Tarraxo Everyday. Symbolic of Marfox’s commitment to finding new shapes and contortions from the styles and methods he finds, Chapa Quente is an irresistible victory lap from a modern godfather. DH

Cheetah alludes to a discontinued synth from the early 90s. The MS800 instalment of the Cheetah has been dubbed one of the most difficult, most bizarre, and most technically combative to ever appear on the market. And while Aphex Twin’s Cheetah was more of a tamed and endearing beast than the machinery it references, there’s something distinctly lo-fi and challenging about its direction. Cheetah was notably decelerated in pace; meditating around the practically sluggish realm of 100 BPM. It’s down pitched techno in a state of dulcet R.E.M. It’s groove friendly with an abrasive air of unfamiliarity, deconstructing the fundamentals of acid and muffling them. Another satisfying glimpse into the brain of RDJ. TW

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GAIKA Spaghetto Warp GAIKA’s music is a combative dismantling of industrial dancehall; a sickly narcotic of mesmeric, vocoder manipulated riddims. It’s not exactly RnB. Not exactly grime. Not exactly reggae or rock. But it somehow captures the fibres of these forms and finds continuity in their disjointed narratives. He refers to it under the umbrella of ‘ghetto futurism,’ and on Spaghetto his adventurous mapping of dystopian themes was fully felt. TW

G.L.O.S.S. Trans Day of Revenge Total Negativity / Nervous Nelly On 12 June, a gunman entered Orlando LGBT nightclub Pulse and opened fire. He killed 49 people and injured 53 others. A day later, trans/ genderqueer/femme punks G.L.O.S.S (or Girls Living Outside Society’s Shit) dropped this seven minute-long hardcore smash to the jaw. Advocating for total violence in the face of bigotry and fronted by the charismatic Sadie Switchblade, it felt like a message of hope and energy in spite of hate. Now split, G.L.O.S.S. may have been short-lived, but their message has been indelibly branded on hearts worldwide. SJ

WILLOW Untitled Workshop Manchester’s Sophie Wilson cut through the noise this year with this collection of moody, fluttering nocturnes. Following last year’s sultry Feel Me, Willow returned to the Workshop label with this mixture of dream-like sounds and dark forces. Soft, dimly lit house mingled with slinking basslines and bluesy vocals; synth melodies that flicker like a candle were underpinned by the murky bassweight of dubstep. An enchanting and beguiling introduction to a singular new producer. AT

REVIEWS


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AMNESIA SCANNER AS Young Turks

Awful Records’ self-appointed Darkwave Duchess used skitters of electro-funk and shimmies of synthpop to conjure her third release, PRINCESS. Still preferring to keep her artistic process DIY, despite her unprecedented commercial ascent this year, the majority of its six songs were written, recorded, and produced in the singer/producer’s bedroom. From the statement of intent that was magnetic first single Come 4 Me, to the unbearable vulnerability of Crybaby, PRINCESS was more of what the world sounds like to one of 2016’s most promising stars. SJ

With Amnesia Scanner, Renaissance Man’s Ville Haimala and Martti Kalliala cleaved away their techno meandering and left their compositions to bleed out. AS sprawled like the mushrooming of gas clouds. It possessed what so many similar acts fail to create; a foreboding sense of space and sparseness. It was a cranked up splurge of chaotic drumwork, tweaked vocal cuts and digital disturbance. There was a real grasping of horror as an emotive tool in these six demented club tracks, as if the Berlin duo have travelled through one of rave’s many wormholes and brought back some of the most unnerving sonic specimens they could find. TW

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SERPENTWITHFEET Blisters Tri Angle

KELSEY LU Church True Panther

If New York’s Tri Angle label is, as their bio says, “haunted by the need to find things that will haunt us,” then signing Josiah Wise, aka serpentwithfeet, must have provided them with a great sense of satisfaction. The Harlem-based artist effortlessly blends slinky RnB with neo-soul and gospel elements to create an emotional impact that lingers. Thematically, blisters reflects on feelings of love, loneliness, identity and spirituality, and Wise’s goth-gospel approach is refreshingly honest. “I am constantly looking for ways to make my music extra gay and extra black,” Wise said in an interview last year. Through blisters, Wise breaks down the conventional boundaries of blackness, queerness and otherness, and the beauty of the results is accessible by all. GY

Kelsey Lu makes music to still the mind. Her contemporary take on folk, coaxed into life by an ethereal partnership of her cello and voice, creates a sanctuary that encourages contemplation and much-needed room to breathe. This six-song EP, her first release, was recorded in a Brooklyn church in one take with the help of a loop pedal and coproducer Patrick Wimberly. It’s so intimate it could mist glass. Lu’s vocals are spectral, and her cello manages to embody both feathers and knives. Using her Church, Kelsey Lu provides the heart with a haven. SJ

BEST EPS

ABRA PRINCESS True Panther


2016 THE WYTCHES

All Your Happy Life

PALEHOUND Dry Food

“The Wytches have cast another stellar spell.” DIY 4/5

“Stunningly infectious” Consequence of Sound

THE PARROTS Los Niños Sin Miedo

NIGHT BEATS Who Sold My Generation

M. CRAFT Blood Moon

“The Madrid trio sound truly fearless.” The Line of Best Fit 8/10

“One of the most exciting bands to come out of America.” Clash 8/10

“One of the most exquisite soulsearching odysseys of this or any year.” Mojo

NOTS

Cosmetic

Clear Shot

TOY

HOOTON TENNIS CLUB Big Box Of Chocolates

“It’s riveting and ruining in equal measure.” Pitchfork

“Surreal songs ranging from prog-tinged modish mayhem to sunny lo-fi.” DIY

“Such serotonin inducing simplicity feels almost revolutionary.” 4/5 mojo

AMBER ARCADES Fading Lines “Heavenly harmonies take hold and strike a glorious melancholic chord.” The Line of Best Fit

KING GIZZARD AND THE LIZARD WIZARD Nonagon Infinity “Their finest body of work to date.” 9/10 Drowned in Sound


071 ABLETON LOOP Funkhaus, Berlin 4 - 6 November

Words: Emma Robertson Photography: Wout Trippas

Although the weekend welcomed performances by a canon of incredible artists from pioneers to up-and-comers, for me the weekend’s highlights came in its lectures and panel discussions, where the opportunity arose not only to hear the words of the people shaping today’s music world, but to engage with them, challenge them, ask them questions, and make them think. Dr. Tara Rodgers, a music historian, musician and composer of electronic music flew in from Washington D.C. to lecture on the history of synthesised sound. Rodgers is the founder of Pink Noises, a website geared to connecting women in electronic music, and her talk used literary critiques to approach music theory. Her “sound as waves”

concept stood out in particular, that music terminology is inherently male because of its associations to a mariner’s journey, a notion that romanticises the white male position — men as explorers, composers, engineers, and figures of electronic music. I liked her talk so much that I just purchased the Pink Noises book, which compiles a selection of interviews with women in electronic music and was published in 2010. Later, Loop creative producer Ed Williams shared clips of Ableton’s recent project with RBMA, Searching for Sound, a documentary film series that follows different artists around their native city as they make field recordings, collaborate with locals, and write a track based on their experiences. Mitya, from a small forest-side town in Russia, and Sandunes, from Mumbai – one of the most densely populated cities in India – shared their stories. The contrast between the two stories was palpable, but the real charm came in how they reexperienced those experiences while watching the clips, remembering special moments and the songs that went with them. Dub techno pioneer Moritz von

Oswald sat down in conversation with esteemed music writer Philip Sherburne for a chat on the studio as an instrument. While the talk itself was interesting — “Sometimes I get up at four AM just to see if a track I wrote still sounds the same,” von Oswald said — it lacked the energy of some of the weekend’s other highlights. Von Oswald was a tough one to crack; offering up a rare smile only when talking about his various collaborative efforts. Kudos to Sherburne for his interview tenacity. Suzanne Ciani, the affectionately named Diva of the Diode, took over the Funkhaus’ main recording studio, which was filled to the brim as Loop attendees gathered to witness her unforgettable live set, performed on the Buchla 200, one of the company’s earliest models. Her set was like a thunderstorm; so much movement and emotion that the electricity in the room was almost tangible. Her talk, moderated again by Dennis DeSantis, was equally inspiring and engaging. Ciani’s interest in the animation of electronic instruments is no secret, she refers to her tools and her music both as “alive,” claiming she has no

idea what she’s going to do until she gets up there and brings the music to life. “Follow your passions,” she said warmly in response to an audience member who wondered how to transition from piano to synthesiser, “and the piano will be there waiting for you when you get back.” Lastly, in what was clearly the most anticipated discussion of the weekend, The Wire’s Frances Morgan hosted a discussion with the inimitable Lee “Scratch” Perry, his longtime bandleader Emch, and Volker Schaner, the director who made Visions of Paradise, the documentary on Perry’s life and career. Perry emerged in his signature flamboyant outfit — mirrors adorning his hat, gold record bag in tow — to booming applause, spouting words that seemed silly on the surface but as you listened more deeply, unfolded as strong, powerful and poignant. Schaner chimed in telling the audience about his experience filming Perry in his native country, that for all he’s done for the scene in Jamaica, people bow to him in the streets as he walks by. “Lee has secrets that nobody else knows,” Schaner explained as a clip of Perry singing his own version of a Bob Marley tune

rolled in the background. Those secrets rang so stunningly true throughout — Perry confided to us, “I wish to never be an adult,” because it would be too boring. The talk and the weekend wrapped up perfectly, as Perry laughed loudly, stating matterof-factly that we would be lost without music, singing that reality can be magic.

REVIEWS

One weekend in early November, we gathered at the Funkhaus in Berlin, to do something that might seem obvious for the music community: listen. But this time, it was not just to hear music, but to listen to lectures, sound installations, performances, and most of all, each other. This was Loop, a summit for music makers and creative thinkers run by the seminal software company Ableton.


LET’S EAT GRANDMA I, GEMINI

SKIN

Features the singles ‘Deep Six Textbook’ and ‘Eat Shiitake Mushrooms’

Features the singles ‘Never Be Like You’ feat. Kai and ‘Say It’ feat. Tove Lo

“One of the most extraordinary records” The Independent

“Skin is brilliant across the board” The Independent

★★★★ Mojo ★★★★ The Guardian ★★★★ NME

★★★★★ The Independent ★★★★ Rolling Stone ★★★★ The Line of Best Fit

JULIA JACKLIN

MUTUAL BENEFIT SKIP A SINKING STONE

DON’T LET THE KIDS WIN Features the singles ‘Pool Party’ and ‘Coming of Age’

Features the singles ‘Not for Nothing’ and ‘Lost Dreamers’

“truly exceptional” Q Magazine

“a gorgeous album” Pitchfork ★★★★ Pitchfork ★★★★ The 405 ★★★★ The Line of Best Fit

★★★★ Mojo ★★★★ The Guardian ★★★★ Rolling Stone


073

Live

As part of an impressive programme of events marking the 80th birthday of Steve Reich, Guildhall Musicians took on the disparate polyrhythms of Drumming – a piece Reich composed between 1970 and 1971. Inspired by a short trip to Africa, Reich’s signature phasing techniques come to the fore on Drumming. Using solely percussion, players move in and out of tempo with one another with one single repeated pattern remains constant. It’s a perfect introduction to the minimalist composition-asscience ideology, where strict forms and structural methods are challenged in favour of a more overarching endeavour – loose phrases drifting in and out of unison. The cast of percussionists who took the work on in the grandiose setting of the Milton Court Concert Hall captured the hypnotic power of the piece. Without a conductor, they exhibited a kind of temporal affinity – stepping up to the rows of percussion to bring the piece up then sitting back down to ease off with seemingly no signposting or prompting. And at times, it felt almost supernatural.   ! Duncan Harrison

MIRRORS Various Venues, London 29 - 29 October

Contrary to preconceptions about hip-hop shows, Chance The Rapper is the kind of performer who values good manners. After bursting onstage for hyperactive renditions of Angels and Blessings, Chance takes a second to apologise to the crowd at the first of two sold out Brixton Academy gigs for failing to greet them properly. “That wasn’t very polite of me,” – Chance says, making quick work of the niceties before pressing on. The devotional anthems which make up Chance’s 2016 project Coloring Book form the bulk of the set. Backed by a huge screen and joined by a live band featuring trumpeter and longtime collaborator Nico Segal (FKA Donnie Trumpet, who reverted back to using his birth name following the election result), the scale of this show is impressive. One downside is the bass-heavy live mix, which gets the crowd going but flattens out some of Chance’s more delicate melodies. Chance performs his cover of the Arthur theme tune – and admittedly, the show often edges into corny territory. But as with all of Chance The Rapper’s family-friendly music and community-focused work, the positive impact he’s made is impossible to get too sneery about. Before playing Summer Friends, Chance – a prominent Clinton supporter – speaks at length about the recent election results, urging the thousands of young people in attendance to stay politically engaged. Chance closes with Blessings (Reprise), the final track of Coloring Book where he takes stock and asserts himself as “Kanye’s best prodigy”. On the mixtape he sounded hopeful – wishful even. Tonight he’s just stating facts.

Returning for a second year running, the Hackney-based Mirrors festival proved that multi-venue events don’t have to consist of big queues, long walks and unwanted compromises. All stages were in five minutes walking distance of one another – including Hackney’s finest: Oslo, St John at Hackney Church and Moth Club – making it just about feasible to see six bands in five hours. The first standout performance from came from the politicised Durham pop punk outfit Martha, who hit hard. The DIY sweethearts burst into an excruciatingly loud selection of songs from their recent sophomore LP Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart with enough energy to make you believe in the longterm relevancy of the nostalgic genre.  Later on, Bill Ryder-Jones’s starry-eyed experimental folk was perfectly suited to St John at Hackney Church before Oslo called back, promising something with a little more bite, and rising US stars Cherry Glazerr followed by Canadian demigods Fucked Up provided just that. The barrage of noise from Fucked Up was impressive, yet as the night drew to a close, Bat For Lashes’ closing set in Hackney Church seemed more appropriate for tired legs. Natasha Kahn’s voice resonated through the church, seeping into old masonry, creating a real moment to round off a refreshingly stress-free festival.

! Duncan Harrison N Kay Ibrahim

CLUB TO CLUB Various Venues, Turin, Italy 2-6 November Sixteen is an impressive age for any festival to reach, in particular one that prides itself on left-of-centre bookings. Regardless, Club To Club hit this milestone in style with a five-day programme of music, art, and discussion spread across Turin. Arriving on Thursday, we venture across town to the beautiful baroque hall of Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory to watch veteran no-wave guitarist Arto Lindsay present a specially commissioned piece with prolific jazz drummer Paal Nisselm-Love. The outcome is a mixed bag – Lindsay’s fitful riffing is occasionally jarring. But when it works, the duo are exhilarating to watch. Much of the festival is situated at the Lingotto Fiere, an enormous expo centre housed on the site of a former Fiat factory. Arca opens his set with an operatic solo before taking to the decks to blast out an array of noisy techno interspersed with incongruous club bangers. His friend Jesse Kanda provides a grisly but arresting visual accompaniment that peaks with striking close-ups of a goat giving birth. Friday night sees Amnesia Scanner silhouetted by a blinding bank of strobes, twisting pitched-up vocal snippets into rave stabs and panning thunderous kicks from one side of the room to the other to dizzying effect. One common criticism against Lingotto Fierre is that its steel-and-glass expanse can feel a little sterile. Fortunately, as Saturday night comes to a close we find ourselves at a nearby train depot repurposed as an afterparty venue, with a rotation of Turinese DJs banging out mordant techno in a dark, smoke-filled basement – a welcome change of pace. This year, Sunday saw Club To Club host Dance Salvario – a block style affair in downtown Turin replete with workshops, street theatre and food stalls. Sunday remains open to the public throughout, so the assembled crowd for footwork lifer RP Boo is an amusing mix of haggard festival attendees and intrigued passers-by. Of all the problems a festival will encounter in its lifespan, the toss-up between commercial viability and underground credibility is amongst the most fraught. Club To Club, however, nailed this balancing act with an event that was as challenging as it was enjoyable, reaffirming its status as one of Europe’s most crucial and diverse offerings.

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! Evan Clements N Mirrors

! Ben Horton Andrea Macchia

REVIEWS

STEVE REICH AT 80: DRUMMING Milton Court Concert Hall, Barbican 5 November

CHANCE THE R APPER O2 Academy Brixton, London 20 November


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Releases

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ALLISON CRUTCHFIELD Tourist In This Town Merge

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The more you think about the sixth A Tribe Called Quest LP, the more remarkable it becomes. Before making it, childhood friends QTip and Phife Dawg had to first repair a relationship badly fractured following the group’s unhappy disintegration towards the end of the last century; and its recording still wasn’t complete when Phife passed away earlier this year. The album reunites all four founder members, one of whom is effectively making his debut here (Jairobi White, the group’s “spirit guide”, left the band in 1991, having never rapped on any of their records). And yet, despite all that, they’ve managed to make an album that doesn’t just remind long-term fans of how great they once were, but that stands as a worthy addition to one of hip-hop’s more lauded discographies. The group have returned with the same distinctive sound they’d developed over their first five LPs in the 1990s, ever so delicately spruced up to ensure it still feels fresh. Shadows of the past are allowed to hover in the background rather than being flung, blinking and confused, into the spotlight. The Space Program shares a loping vibe with Award Tour; the Rotary Connection sitar sample first used in Bonita Applebum drops in like an old friend during Enough!!. There’s space for experimentation, as Kids…, a collaboration with Andre 3000 of the heavily Tribe-influenced OutKast, pounds by on panicked piano, while Jack White adds stringdamped menace to the brew as the hookline of Ego references the epochal posse cut, Scenario. Best of all, Tribe have as much to say as they have engaging ways of saying it. If the lyrics of the three opening tracks (The Space Program, We The People… and Whateva Will Be) feel like they could have been written back in the 90s, that’s only because police brutality and America’s racial divisions are as pronounced today as they were between Yusef Hawkins’ murder and Rodney King’s beating, when Tribe made their name. Yet the record is never wearisome or overbearing, the band’s mastery of contrasting moods evident throughout a track list that ends with The Donald – not a protest song about the president-elect, but a hymn to the Trinidaddescended Phife’s status as the don-dada of the microphone. He will be sorely missed, but his group’s last testament does him and his comrades considerable honour.

If your heart is broken, aged folklore advises that you reach for a record by a Crutchfield sister. Allison and her identical twin Katie, from Birmingham, Alabama, have long held the patent for understated, devastating balladry. They’ve co-piloted DIY feminist punk bands since their early teens (inc. the eternally missed PS Eliot), and then since they’ve also pursued separate paths: Allison fronts Philly band Swearin’ and Katie makes records as Waxahatchee. As Allison’s first full solo outing, Tourist In This Town puts family history to one side, but without losing sight of her comfort zone. Written over a year’s worth of touring in 2015 but recorded in just a week (assisted by bandmates Sam Cook-Parrott and Joe Doubek) Tourist in this Town sees Crutchfield sing with out-of-towner perspective on her country and her demons in classic road-trip fashion. “I keep confusing love and nostalgia,” she admits on I Don’t Ever Wanna Leave California, and the record basks in that sweet spot between painful memory and the freshness of moving on and out. Crutchfield builds a familiar world of warm alt-country imperfections, this time aided by the rumbling gravitas of ancient analogue synthesisers. While some tracks look towards Swearin’ – The Marriage, for example, is a 57 second pop-punk bounce about selfconsciousness – others mark a determined step towards a straight pop sensibility. Dean’s Room sounds like The Cure’s Plainsong after too much sugar, with a missed-connections story line straight out of a John Hughes film. Saccharine, but sweetly persistent. Somewhere in between, album highlight Mile Away describes an all-too-familiar post-truth distance between someone’s “prized radical opinions” and actual reality. As her voice rages over a furious, thrashing sea, Crutchfield articulates comebacks we can only dream of: “You assume you understand because your voice is the loudest”; “You’re standing too close”; “You wake up confident every single day.” Ouch. Tourist in this Town hits hardest when Crutchfield stops sending postcards home.

! Angus Batey

Katie Hawthorne

07 D∆WN Redemption Local Action

YUSSEF K AMA AL Black Focus Brownswood

REVIEWS

Tenderlonius’s 22a imprint and Bradley Zero’s Rhythm Section have both nurtured a wave of artists unbound by genre but nonetheless dealing in a distinctly soulful, jazz-flecked aesthetic. Centred around Peckham, there exists a real community among these artists, and as a result a spirit of collaboration and friendship has defined much of the output. This record, though released on Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood, is in many ways a culmination of that spirit: between them Kamaal Williams and Yussef Dayes are mainstays on both labels and the supporting cast is a strong reflection of the depth and richness of the area. At the heart of Black Focus is the chemistry between Williams and Dayes. The way the initiative bounces from keys to drums, egging each other on, is at times thrilling. Moments come and go when extra components cut through and take things to a higher level (notably the piercing saxophone on Strings Of Light) but tracks like Remembrance, Wing Tai Drums and Joint 17 where the pair demand centre stage, are the most effective. If there’s a criticism to level, you could argue it’s a little too languid, too lounge. If you compare it to Ruby Rushton’s Two For Joy from last year (on which Dayes drums), it can feel safe. More so if you consider Shabaka Hutchins’ incendiary Sons of Kemet, or the wildly futuristic Comet Is Coming. Really though, this is splitting hairs: the sound palette is warm, you can feel experimentation at work and the vibe is a good time. Another energetic addition to modern jazz’s growing London movement.

While Crawley may not be on the map for many British techno fans, the Surrey commuter belt town has a notable history rooted in the fabled shop Fat Cat Records in the 90s. T. Wiltshire may not be making a big deal about his hometown heritage, but his sound certainly harks back to the explorative nature of classic UK electronics, albeit with a modern twist. Coming to light on Tender Hooks following an EP back in 2014, Wiltshire’s debut album brims with the kind of inventive sequencing and processing that typified the London-centric scene populated by B12, Mark Broom and Baby Ford before loopy industrial techno took hold. On the likes of #2 a starry-eyed wonder can be felt in the layers of ranging, expressive synths that sit atop crunching drum machines, and it’s this spirit that makes Selfless Machines an engrossing listen. Less concerned with standard dancefloor demands and instead reaching for the expressive, futurist vision that defined techno from the start, every track makes its own distinct artistic statement and the record feels fresher for it. From slow-treading contemplation to thumping acid abstraction, Wiltshire has mixed equal parts technological tinkering and human heart, and turned out a charming debut LP in the process.

Former member of pop group Danity Kane and Diddy’s Dirty Money collective, Dawn Richard now cuts a striking figure in electronic music, becoming a critic’s favourite by toying the line between pop and the underground. Now going by the D∆WN moniker, Richard’s sound is difficult to define, but it could be loosely classified as fearless RnB experimentalism. Redemption, the final instalment of D∆WN's album trilogy, encapsulates electronic music's enduring attraction to Afrofuturism and pop. Its magic realism, fantastical practices and cosmological aesthetic underscores her artistry. The album sees D∆WN finalise the chapters of her past, confidently striding into the unknown of a new and fragile world. She opens up candidly on topics of sexual liberation and gender equality, and a joyful embrace of home and identity underpins the record. Cryptic semi-biblical cries are frequent on songs such as Voices, where D∆WN calls upon God to see her upon her knees and react. The album is also indebted to the direction of its coproducer, Machinedrum. The two have collaborated on multiple projects over the course of 2016 and they share a similar ethos when it comes to writing irregular pop. Big brass samples and dainty string arrangements coexist alongside moments of free-jazz, hyperactive IDM and light vocal harmonies. Much like the Californiabased producer's latest offering Human Energy, the driving brightness on this scale is at points overbearing. Yet D∆WN's sedating vocal delivery, dressed in such colourful political language, ultimately makes Redemption a most progressive and original release.

! Theo Kotz

! Oli Warwick

! Tom Watson

T.WILTSHIRE Selfless Machines Tender Hooks

A TRIBE CALLED QUEST We Got It from Here... Thank You 4 Your Servicey Epic


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07 08 MEEK MILL Dream Chasers Dream Chasers/MMG/Atlantic

MICA LEVI + OLIVER COATES Remain Calm Slip It’s rare that an artist stirs excitement like Mica Levi. Her idiosyncratic, left-field approach to pop-punk as Micachu, and recently her award-winning score for Jonathan Glazer’s dystopian thriller Under the Skin, presented her as an unparalleled musical oddball. A serendipitous union at NTS led her to collaborate avant-cellist Oliver Coates, the man who Thom Yorke credited for cementing the sound of Radiohead’s remarkable A Moon Shaped Pool. Cut from the same cloth, both Coates and Levi hold prestigious educations in classical music, but their affinities with electronic music sees them rebel against any conservative restrictions within their compositions. On the structureless and spontaneous Remain Calm, they merge fragments of contemporary, classical, grime and techno. The abrupt and constant shift in style and form exhibits the pair’s exquisite chemistry, with Coates' cello acting like the backbone, anchoring Levi’s woozy and spectral electronics. Each piece pulls you inside a nebulous and curious alien realm before throwing you out and into another. Pre-Barok’s aching cello strings stretch and curl like a lengthy yawn on a misty spring morning; swirling synths and delicate moments of otherworldly bliss are interrupted with the menacing pull of Dragons In The Mist and contorted struggle of Fight In The Mens Toilet. The briefness of each track may frustrate the listener as a sense of longing to continue falls off each end. The evocative Barok Main weeps with a beautiful decay as Coates pours yearning strings over cascading, iridescent synths. Mob of Waters carries a familiar vocal, a gorgeously hopeful rise from the depths of the arctic sea to the sunlight gleaming through its icy sheets. This record, both stark and ineffable in its beauty, is the perfect score for melancholic, in-between days. A cherished addition to both artist’s catalogues. ! Aine Devaney

GAIKA Tavares’ 2015 Machine mixtape tackled themes of British colonialism and the socially constructed concept of hyper-masculinity. It was angry, but inwardly so, with the Brixton artist embracing the feeling of pain and hate alongside love and personal acceptance. Similarly, with the Mixpakendorsed Security mixtape, we were led down the lightless backroads where "ballers and shooters and goons dance in the same rooms". Tavares’ anthropological retelling of local dread, when delivered with playful patois and dancehallindebted sounds, delivers such confrontational lyrical content in club-ready form.  With the Spaghetto EP, his first release for Warp, Tavares syrups his dystopian vision. There's a gospel bloodline pulsing through tracks such as Neophyte and The Deal, bolstered by the vocal aid of Leila Adu and Alyusha. There's also a woozy RnB softness, and Glad We Found It and VSOP warble along like Trickyassisted Clams Casino tracks. For the most part, GAIKA’s vocal quavers over reverberated piano and dribbly bass, with less growling dread and more of an emphasis on off-kilter storytelling. With Spaghetto, Tavares remains a subversive figure with a poetical vernacular that continues to shock and excite. This EP may not be his defining battle cry, but it sporadically weeps with drama and tragedy. 

Even if you don’t recognise the name, you’ll almost certainly have heard Jean-Michel Jarre’s music. 1976’s Oxygene was a very popular record, and the track Oxygene Pt. IV from it still regularly played. Synthesisers weren’t new by then, but nothing else like it had sold millions of copies in multiple countries. In Jarre’s minimalist, cosmic synths and stripped-back percussion, audiences perceived The Future – a phenomenon that engendered both fear and hope. Perhaps reflecting this, the film industry began releasing sci-fi blockbusters around the same time – Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Superman. Western culture was, arguably, having another one of its futuristic turns.   Jarre has had a successful career with classical-leaning electronic music, garnering fame for huge outdoor shows. He returned to the Oxygene theme in 1997 with Oxygene 2, and is now back to complete the trilogy. The format is mostly the same, even down to sequencing – the fourth track is the lead track again here. Oxygene Pt. XVII is the cute, hyperactive descendant of Pt. IV, unironically drawing on trance-y tropes that veer close to Europop. There’s also the Phantom of the Opera pomp of Pt. XX, a schlocky and over-egged theme to twizzle your moustache to as it dissolves into soothingly predictable ambient. Aside from these two tracks, however, much of the rest is tedious and un-engaging. The melodies and sounds that were once ground-breaking are now a bit cheesy and tired. And given how bleak it’s looking, I’m not sure Western culture is ready to get excited about The Future again any time soon.

When you make your first public outing on Theo Parrish’s Sound Signature label, there’s little chance of growing up as an artist quietly. Since that bold beginning three years ago, Jay Daniel has proven to be as vital an exponent of Detroit house as any of the grandmasters. There are many aspects that make Broken Knowz a startlingly mature debut album, but first and foremost is the percussion. On Paradise Valley the drums shuffle and shimmy in a wonderfully loose fit, funky fashion, but by third track Niiko dense and intricate polyrhythmic patterns have come into play. Amongst these angular trysts the samples, chord licks and atmospherics are delivered with poise. At times the mood can be joyous, as on Squeaky Maya, and elsewhere it’s claustrophobic. 1001 Nights feels like a late night beat session in a broom cupboard, until the synths edge some air into the humid space. For the most part though Broken Knowz is an upbeat, wildly shaped affair. The feelgood boogie of Knowledge Of Selfie is the quintessential offkilter party starter that comes on like classic West London broken beat. It’s a natural highpoint on a totally assured debut album from this prodigious Motor City talent.

The fourth instalment of Meek Mill’s hugely popular Dream Chasers mixtape series sees the Philadelphia rapper trying to revive his career following his recent feud with Drake. The beef kicked off when Meek revealed that Drake uses ghostwriters. And despite the disparity between Meek’s background and Drake’s privilege, Drake delivered a one-two punch of damaging diss tracks before flicking Meek into a bottomless pit of memes concocted by his fans and corporate sponsors. The cover of DC4 superimposes a much younger Meek, badly beaten, over a collage of the rapper’s criminal record. This is a double-edged stab at Drake, declaring both Meek’s resilience to a beating and the street credentials that are Drake’s fantasy. It is a picture worth a thousand memes, a reminder of who Meek both was and still is. Meek’s nasal yell, which strangles words at maximum volume, is what is simultaneously off-putting and thrilling about him as a rapper. He’s perhaps most exciting when rapping over the beatless loops proceeding a colossal drop; at these moments, his voice feels like a street bike revving at the starting line of a race. Though grating to some, Meek’s voice is galvanising for millions of others, particularly those in the struggle, whether that be those in the streets he speaks directly to or nerdy music writers struggling to do a chin-up. And, as he reminds us on DC4’s soulful highlight Shine, the stakes of Meek’s struggle are high enough to warrant dramatic delivery: ‘If it wasn’t for this music, I’d probably be dead/ Instead I’m on top countin’ this bread’. Meek’s material success would be immaterial – in more than one sense – without his musical success, which DC4 confidently reaffirms. This is a solid tape, with a couple of top-tier Meek tracks in Shine, Blessed and the operatically grandiose Litty (featuring Tory Lanez, another enemy of Drake’s). Its range is limited, sure, but while there are no surprises there are also no duds. While Drake smoothly switches lanes, from rap to pop to dancehall, Meek occupies only one – but it is his. Screaming away, exhaust-pipe belching fire, DC4 leaves those memes in the dust.

! Tom Watson

! Robert Bates

! Oli Warwick

! Jack Law

07 08 JE AN-MICHEL JARRE Oxygene 3 Columbia

GAIK A Spaghetto Warp

JAY DANIEL Broken Knowz Technicolour

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VARIOUS ARTISTS Hypercolour 10 Years Hypercolour Respect where respect is due: the world isn’t exactly short of record labels that walk a line between high-end house and techno, but few are as consistently strong as Hypercolour. Over ten years, the label has carved out a niche in a somewhat saturated marketplace. As a result, both their back catalogue and the tracklisting for this anniversary compilation boast an embarrassment of riches. Over 90 minutes, Falty DL, Roman Flügel and Luke Vibert all make an appearance, but it’s the slightly lesser-known names that really shine. Early on, Steve Edwards’ DJ-Shadow-esque drum breaks and Moderatsounding vocal establishes a beautifully melancholy haze that hangs over the whole album. Gary Gritness has a go at pitched-up, jazz-leaning, sci-fi of the Maurice Fulton variety; the subtle, woozy rhythms of Matt Karmil (an underrated artist) are right at home; and there’s a simmering disco swirl jostling with a Chicago house pace and percussion on A Sagittarian’s Djax. It’s not all nicey-nicey – Analogue Cops’ playful Discoblaze is dripping with attitude, riding a bassline that demolishes several layers of rhythm, while Dense & Pika’s 2 Steps Back is resolutely menacing. But ultimately it is the softer, subtler material that wins the day: Tom Demac’s spectral, haunting Hanging Flowers of Albion is creepy in the best possible way, while Matthew Herbert’s dreamy Downgrade is gentle, electronic neo-soul of the highest calibre. An excellent selection. ! Adam Corner

REVIEWS

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07 Film

08 06 NOCTURNAL ANIMALS dir: Tom Ford Starring: Amy Adams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Aaron Taylor-Johnson Nocturnal Animals is fashion designer-turnedauteur Tom Ford's second turn in the directorial chair. As with 2009’s A Single Man, Ford serves up a stylish visual feast. Susan (Amy Adams), an outwardly successful and endlessly glamorous gallery manager, receives a manuscript – Nocturnal Animals – written by her ex-husband Edward, and named for her. We then follow a doublestranded narrative as Susan reads on, the awful events unfolding within the book sending her into a deep reverie of her past transgressions. The storylines become increasingly intercut, assisted by Jake Gyllenhaal doubling up as both author Edward and as Tony Hastings, the tormented central character within the novel. It’s possible that if Nocturnal Animals’ storyline was less intriguing, or the casting less on point, it would drown in its own sleek reflection. Fortunately this is not the case, and it barely falters. Michael Shannon is particularly brilliant as Bobby Andes, an impenetrable Texan detective after justice and out of fucks to give. As the film draws to a close you may find yourself pondering if Tom Ford is suggesting that the real nocturnal animals are the doubt and regret lurking within us all, waiting to devour their prey in the dark? Or did he just want to make a glorious, gripping and hideously expensive noir perfume advert? Either way, I’m sold. ! Tamsyn Aurelia-Eros Black

AMERICAN PASTOR AL dir: Ewan McGregor Starring: Ewan McGregor, Jennifer Connelly, Dakota Fanning For Ewan McGregor’s directorial debut, an adaptation of a politically conscious Philip Roth novel was an ambitious choice, and he didn’t shy away from the challenge. The film has a feeling of an epic about it, following a single family and drawing in major geopolitical shifts like race riots and war in Vietnam through the needlepoint of a highly personal family drama in order to explore their impact on 1960s American society. The story follows a model family of three: McGregor’s Swede Levov, his wife Dawn Levov and their daughter Merry Levov, a problematic child with a natural barometer towards social justice that eventually leads her towards committing acts of domestic terrorism to protest the war in Vietnam. Merry has a stutter from the start of the film, diagnosed by a psychiatrist as a subconscious means of avoiding competition with her beautiful mother, and winning the affections of her father, and it's this Freudian jealousy that underpins the familial relationships throughout, acting as a kind of symptom of the sense that something’s rotten in the state of America. Too often though these unhealthy familial dynamics go under explored in order to focus on the player-manager director that is Ewan McGregor and his Swede character. The lead performances are a little onenote, but it’s a film that successfully captures a tumultuous period in time with highly personal fervour. ! Francis Blagburn

Director Denis Villeneuve has made a string of successful and diverse films such as Incendies, Prisoners, and Sicario, and with Arrival delivers a film that's another step forward – the culmination of everything he's worked toward so far. Amy Adams leads an impressive cast. Adams’ character, Professor of Linguistics Dr Louise Banks, is recruited by Col. Weber (Forest Whittaker) to make first contact with one of twelve alien pods that have positioned themselves simultaneously around Earth. She's partnered with scientist Jeremy Renner to forge a dialogue with the extra terrestrials to decipher whether their presence is one of peace or malevolence. Cinematographer Bradford Young has once again proven himself a vital addition to any project and here he works wonders by bringing beauty from the dark and pain from the light. Then there's the consistently brilliant Amy Adams, who delivers a restrained and wounded performance that carries an entire story where time and pain have no beginning or end. On the surface this is blockbuster territory about invading outside forces. But you'll be hard pressed to find a film this year of this scale that's as equally intimate. This is thought provoking and emotive filmmaking that will have you reeling within its opening minutes and then haunt you long after its finished. ! Joseph McDonagh

06

TR AIN TO BUSAN dir. Sang-ho Yeon Starring: Yoo Gang, Soo-an Kim, Dong-Seok Ma Where would you want to be in a zombie apocalypse? A remote island? Wilkinsons? In terms of entertainment value, director Sang-ho Yeon could hardly have chosen better than the humble train to cross-examine South Korean society. Like all zombie films (or contagion films in this case) worth their salt, Train to Busan covers a wide range of topics while characters hold off hoards of rabid train passengers. The film’s central relationship is that of Seok and his daughter Soo-an. Seok, an asset manager and a bit of a jackass, is accompanying Soon-an on a visit to his ex-wife in Busan. As the train disembarks, an infected stowaway runs aboard. We watch the woman’s body contort and mutate and from thereon in it’s carriage-to-carriage chaos. Amongst the violence, the film raises questions around family and materialism, and there’s a heavy dose of politics too. Upon a backdrop of this carnage, Yeon explores the universal truths of many societies today, brilliantly channeling his idea of South Korea through this highly disciplined but endearing genre movie. ! Tim Oxley Smith

05

FANTASTIC BE ASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM dir. David Yates Starring: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterson, Collin Farrell Preceding Harry and chums, the return to JK Rowling’s beloved (and lucrative) magic universe takes place in 1920s New York. Newt Scamander (Redmayne), author of a book of the film’s namesake (that Harry Potter later reads at Hogwarts), travels across the Atlantic with a suitcase full of fantastically collectible beasts. Newt’s beasts inevitably escape and he sets out to catch ‘em all with the help of Tina (Katherine Waterson). David Yates, director of the final four Harry Potter movies, continues to neatly wrap Rowling’s Brit-kitsch allure, this time embodied by Redmayne’s pout and cucumber sandwich mannerisms. Despite the film’s half cinema, half toy advert feel, there’s a warming celebration of animals and nature throughout as well as a surprising amount of anti-establishment ideas; with fundamentalist religious types, banks and overbearing intelligence agencies all getting a wand waved at them. However, with this being Rowling’s first venture into screenwriting, it might explain the film’s lackluster end result. We can’t imagine her sitting down to write Fantastic Beasts and envisioning 1998’s Godzilla with wizards, but somehow that’s precisely what the end result feels like. Somewhat disconcertingly, there’s another four Fantastic Beasts films lined up beyond 2020. Let’s just hope JK will eventually know where to find a story line too. ! Tim Oxley Smith

REVIEWS

ARRIVAL dir. Denis Villeneuve Starring: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker


HINDS FRI 2 DEC O2 FORUM KENTISH TOWN RHAIN WED 7 DEC THE WAITING ROOM THE MOONLANDINGZ WED 7 DEC OUT SOLD THE COURTYARD PETER SILBERMAN (THE ANTLERS) WED 7 & THURS 8 DEC THE FORGE

GIRL BAND THURS 8 DEC T D OU SCALA SOL ROZI PLAIN & FRIENDS FRI 9 DEC OMEARA CATE LE BON WED 14 DEC ISLINGTON ASSEMBLY HALL ANDY SHAUF WED 8 FEB OSLO HACKNEY

MITSKI MON 6 MAR VILLAGE UNDERGROUND GLASS ANIMALS THURS 16 MAR O2 ACADEMY BRIXTON CAR SEAT HEADREST THURS 23 MAR ELECTRIC BALLROOM YANN TIERSEN MON 30 OCT 2017 ROYAL ALBERT HALL

COMMUNIONS WED 15 FEB THE LEXINGTON

PARALLELLINESPROMOTIONS.COM


083

Products HOMES £15 loosejoints.biz Limited edition with 500 copies, Homes by Harley Weir showcases photography of the refugee and migrant camps in Calais. All proceeds go to to La Cimade – a French charity committed to protecting the human rights of those living in the communities photographed. CARHARTT WIP PAJAMA SET £85 carhartt-wip.com Everyone thinks Carhartt WIP have the workwear game on lock right? Durable, strong, burly. Don’t get caught slipping – even labourers need their rest. Catch 40 winks in these dreamy blue-striped PJs.

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A SEAT AT THE TABLE ART BOOK solange.shop.musictoday.com $60 Solange’s A Seat At The Table is so cinematic and affecting that it deserves to be turned into a feature length movie. For now, we can make do with this gorgeous art book, delicately outlining the tender contemplations that drive the album.

SKIN SHIRT NON nonworldwide.bigcartel.com $30 If ‘a citizen of the world is a citizen of nowhere’, you can pledge your allegiance to the NON citizens with this, from the proudly borderless NON Collective. Join the state of NON.

OVERSIZED T-SHIRT cosstores.com £19

REVIEWS

You know when you see someone and you can’t put your finger on why they look so good? It’s the fit of their t-shirt. Something seemingly so inane but so very essential. If it was the cut of their top that had you entranced – there’s a good chance they got it from COS. Patron saints of all well-fitting basics, this relaxed tee is just another jewel in their crown.


C T M F E S T I VA L / 1 8 T H E D I T I O N / F E S T I VA L F O R A D V E N T U R O U S M U S I C & A R T 2 7.1 . — 5 . 2 . 2 0 1 7 B E R L I N / W W W.C T M - F E S T I VA L . D E PRINCESS NOKIA S I AVA S H A M I N I WITH S OT E A R A S H B O LO U R I , B E H R O U Z PA S H A E I & TA R I K B A R R I , TA N YA TA G A Q THOMAS ANKERSMIT »INFRA« TO M M Y G E N E S I S VO M I R 9T ANTIOPE AND MANY MORE...

AC T R E SS GA ZELLE TWIN »KINGDOME COME« G E N E S I S B R E Y E R P- O R R I D G E W I T H A A R O N D I L LOWAY KURT HENTSCHLÄGER M O O R M OT H E R M O N O L A K E »V L S I S U R R O U N D « N O N WO R L DW I D E F E AT C H I N O A M O B I , N K I S I , A N G E L H O, D E D E K I N D C U T, E M B A C I , L I G I A L E W I S , DJ L A DY L A N E

A P ROJ E C T BY

F U N D E D BY

I N CO L L A B O R AT I O N W I T H

D E S I G N / V OJ D. N E T

M E D I A PA RT N E R


TUE.13.DEC.16

MON.27.FEB.17 TUE.28.FEB.17

THU.01.DEC.16

THU.15.DEC.16 TUE.28.FEB.17

FRI.02.DEC.16

THU.15.DEC.16 TUE.28.FEB.17

FRI.02.DEC.16

FRI.16.DEC.16

Upcoming London Shows

THU.01.DEC.16

THU.02.MAR.17

02 DEC.

FRI.02.DEC.16

She Keeps Bees

THU.19.JAN.17 TUE.07.MAR.17 SAT.03.DEC.16

Moth Club 08 DEC.

SAT.21.JAN.17 TUE.14.MAR.17

Black Peaches Electrowerkz

MON.05.DEC.16

09 DEC.

WED.25.JAN.17 THU.16.MAR.17

Marika Hackman St. John on Bethnal Green

TUE.06.DEC.16 THU.26.JAN.17 TUE.28.MAR.17

18 JAN.

Amber Arcades Oslo

TUE.06.DEC.16 FRI.27.JAN.17 MON.03.APR.17 WED.07.DEC.16 SAT.28.JAN.17 MON.03.APR.17

20 JAN & JAN 21** added date

The Rural Alberta Advantage The Lexington ** Camden Assembly**

THU.08.DEC.16 FRI.03.FEB.17

31 JAN. SAT.08.APR.17

FRI.09.DEC.16

THU.11.MAY.17

SAT.03.JUN.17

Scala

Village Underground 15 FEB.

Bayonne

The Waiting Room 28 FEB.

Foxygen KOKO

07 MAR.

The Orwells Scala

21 MAR.

Cloud Nothings KOKO

06 APR.

Haley Bonar The Dome 28 APR.

Happyness 01 MAY.

Los Campesinos! KOKO

SAT.11.FEB.17 SAT.10.JUN.17

12-15.DEC.16

27 MAY.

Swans & Thurston Moore

TUE.14.FEB.17 MON.12.DEC.16

Saint Motel

Boxed In

The Dome

WED.08.FEB.17 SAT.10.DEC.16

Scala

09 FEB.

SUN.05.FEB.17 SAT.10.DEC.16

The Radio Dept.

13 FEB.

SAT.25.NOV.17

Roundhouse

tickets and more info at www.rockfeedback.com


P R E S E N T S T | 12O|U16 06 SOLD

09 | 02 | 17

VAULTS

PIXIES

- ASSEMBLY HALL ISLINGTON

- O2 ACADEMY BRIXTON -

06 | 12 | 16

26 | 02 | 17

PETER DOHERTY

TEENAGE FANCLUB

- O2 FORUM KENTISH TOWN T | 12O|U16 08 | 12 | 16 - 09 SOLD

SUPER FURRY ANIMALS - ROUNDHOUSE -

- O2 SHEPHERD’S BUSH EMPIRE -

01 | 03 | 17

METHYL ETHEL - OSLO, HACKNEY -

14 | 12 | 16

STEVIE PARKER - RYE WAX, PECKHAM -

02 | 03 | 17

SUM 41

- O2 ACADEMY BRIXTON -

17 | 01 | 17

04 | 03 | 17

JOLIE HOLLAND + SAMANTHA PARTON - LEXINGTON -

WHITE LIES - TROXY -

10 | 03 | 17

STORNOWAY

19 | 01 | 17

MONA

- O2 SHEPHERD’S BUSH EMPIRE -

25 | 01 | 17

JACK SAVORETTI

29 | 03 | 17

- LEXINGTON -

- ROYAL FESTIVAL HALL -

GET INUIT

29 | 03 | 17

- LEXINGTON -

JESCA HOOP

26 | 01 | 17

- LEXINGTON -

exmagician - THE CAMDEN ASSEMBLY -

19 | 04 | 17

30 | 01 | 17

THE MENZINGERS + THE FLATLINERS

- ICA THEATRE -

27 | 04 | 17

GRUFF RHYS

- KOKO -

01 | 02 | 17

CONOR OBERST - PALLADIUM -

BARRY ADAMSON

- MOTH CLUB, HACKNEY -

T I C K E T S AVA I L A B L E F R O M

SONGKICK.COM - GIGANTIC.COM - TICKETWEB.CO.UK SEETICKETS.COM - STARGREEN.COM

modular | DJ | synthesizers

LAMBCHOP JAGA JAZZIST LISA HANNIGAN GHETTS ORCHESTRA BAOBAB SUSHEELA RAMAN MARTHA WAINWRIGHT ED HARCOURT THE TIGER LILLIES JULIAN COPE BOOK NOW ROUNDHOUSE.ORG.UK

74 stokes croft, BS1 3QY 0117 914 7493

Last year 1,500 young people got to perform at the Roundhouse – from supporting Gaz Coombes to showcasing skills they learned with us.


DECEMBER 2nd 10th

2016

~ LIVE ~

Girls & Boys /

4th

Vianni /

6th

Marissa Nadler /

9th

Swimming Tapes

Fat Buddha Yoga /

13th

Faithettes /

14th

Wildhood /

Ella Mai /

21st

Gospeloke /

31st

NYE at Studio 54 w/ The Reflex

19th

18th

Mark Morriss (Bluetones)

coming up in january 2017 5th 17th

Nipah /

12th

Gospeloke /

4th Estate Literary Salon /

26th

14th

Fat Buddha Yoga /

Sophie Barker /

27th

16th

Léon

Club CloseUp /

31st

OG Maco

~ LATE ~ every Friday

3rd december

10th december

17th december

31ST december

NIGHT CALL

MOHO

TUCKSHOP

CMYK

NYE AT STUDIO 54

Weekly

90s hip hop and r’n’b knees

A fresh new slice of global

The freshest house

w/ The Ref lex &

Friday Club

up for all you cool kids

& tropical sounds

and disco around!

Harry Wolfman

Dates, times & tickets: w w w.hoxtonsquarebar.com

| HOXTONSQUAREBAR

VINYL R

ELEAS ES WEE KLY CLUB / BAR / F OOD PECKH AM SE1 5 4ST RYEWA X.COM

‘16 C E D WS CLIT O H S ER IC MAG T BURG S ET OL DJ F SYMB TH NO SOU CDR


12—16 12—16 MOTH Club MOTH Club Valette St London E8

Valette St London E8 mothclub.co.uk mothclub.co.uk

Thursday 1 December Thursday 1 December

PSYCHIC ILLS PSYCHIC ILLS

Saturday 3 December Saturday 3 December

HMLTD HMLTD

Lanzarote Lanzarote presents

Saturday 10 December Saturday 10 December

ELEPHANT STONE ELEPHANT STONE

Monday 12 December Monday 12 December

BRUISING BRUISING

Tuesday 13 December Tuesday 13 December

OUR GIRL OUR GIRL

Saturday 17th December Saturday 17th December

USA NAILS USA NAILS

Tuesday 6 December Tuesday 6 December

Saturday 31st December Saturday 31st December SABOTAGE: BEASTIE SABOTAGE: BEASTIEBOYS BOYSTRIBUTE TRIBUTE

FLAVIEN BERGER FLAVIEN BERGER

Saturday 10 December Saturday 10 December

ALLO DARLIN’ ALLO DARLIN’

Friday 16 December Friday 16 December

EYOE X X EYOE FIELD DAYDAY X X FIELD LANZAROTE XMAS PARTY LANZAROTE XMAS PARTY

The TheWaiting WaitingRoom Room 175175 Stoke Newington Stoke NewingtonHigh HighStStN16 N16 waitingroomn16.com waitingroomn16.com

DESERT DESERTSOUND SOUNDCOLONY COLONY

GIMME GIMME GIMME: GIMME GIMME GIMME: ABBA TRIBUTE ABBA TRIBUTE

Shacklewell Arms Shacklewell Arms

71 Shacklewell Lane London E8 71 Shacklewell Lane London E8 shacklewellarms.com shacklewellarms.com Tuesday 6 December Tuesday 6 December

PWR BTTM PWR BTTM

Thursday 8 December Thursday 8 December

THE GOOCH PALMS THE GOOCH PALMS

Sunday 4 December Sunday 4 December

SAVAGES DJS SAVAGES DJS

Monday 5 December Monday 5 December

ACID TONGUE ACID TONGUE

Tuesday 6 December Tuesday 6 December

TROY BALTHAZAR TROY VON VON BALTHAZAR Friday Friday 99 December December

DANCEHALL DANCEHALL

Friday December Friday 16 16 December

Saturday December Saturday 31 December

BAD BAD BREEDING Monday 5 December Monday 5 December

Thursday 8 December Thursday 8 December

The Montague Montague Arms The Arms 289 Queen’s Rd, 289 Rd, London LondonSE14 SE142PA 2PA montaguearms.co.uk montaguearms.co.uk

AGARAGAR AGAR AGAR

Sunday 1 January Sunday 1 January

Friday 13 January Friday 13 January

35 Chalk Farm Rd London NW1 lock-tavern.com lock-tavern.com

Friday 2 December Friday 2 December

GIANTDOG DOG AA GIANT

SECRETSUNDAZE SECRETSUNDAZE

The Lock Tavern The Lock Tavern 35 Chalk Farm Rd London NW1

DEAD DEAD PRETTIES

Saturday 31 December Saturday 31 December

CAVE CLUB CAVE CLUB NYENYE

#lanzaroteworks

presents

Sunday 4 December Sunday 4 December

LOSLOS CAMPESINOS! CAMPESINOS!

lanzaroteworks.com lanzaroteworks.com #lanzaroteworks

Saturday December: Saturday 1010 December:

LEFTALONE: ALONE:ANTINOTE ANTINOTEVS. VS. LEFT MUSICFROM FROMMEMORY MEMORY MUSIC Tuesday 13 December Tuesday 13 December

LABRADOOR LABRADOOR

Saturday 17 December Saturday 17 December

JAYDA G JAYDA G

Monday 19 December Monday 19 December

SEAN NICHOLAS SAVAGE SEAN NICHOLAS SAVAGE Saturday 31 December Saturday 31 December LET’S GO SWIMMING NYE: BIG MIZ LET’S GO SWIMMING NYE: BIG MIZ

Friday 22 December December Friday

PHOBOPHOBES PHOBOPHOBES

Friday 9 December Friday 9 December

WHISTLEJACKET WHISTLEJACKET

Monday 12 December Monday 12 December

GOAT GIRL GOAT GIRL

Monday 19 December Monday 19 December

FISH FISH

Saturday 31 December Saturday 31 December

HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE LOVED NYE LOVED NYE


Simple Things presents a screening of Northern Disco Lights Featuring: Lindstrøm, Prins Thomas, Annie, Idjut Boys, Bjørn Torske and Bryan Ferry Friday 20 January The Cube Microplex tickets.crackmagazine.net


SAT 31.12.2016 | 23:00

NEW YEAR`S EVE BILL YOUNGMAN *LIVE* (scr dark, tresor rec., killekill) SAMUEL L SESSION (arts, wall music, motech) MIKE WALL (suicide, walls, sci+tec) SDX (suicide, diffuse reality, bold) MARY JANE (suicide, curateur del musique) CRISTIAN MARRAS (rituals, 2rb rec.)

SUICIDE

CIRCUS

tent MANELLA (jt series) ESKUBANO (hdiyh) BALAS (werk, rituals) AXIOM (skizze, killekill) Fr 16.12.2016 WALLS

Fr 30.12.2016 AYCB Label Night pres. DJ T-1000 Recordrelease

clubfloor MØRBECK (code is law) MIKE WALL (sci+tec, walls, suicide) CLOVEN (repetition, schumacher club, bochum) DP (repetition, schumacher club, dortmund)

clubfloor DJ T-1000 a.k.a. ALAN OLDHAM

tent EKKOHAUS (serialism, cargo edition) DIRTE (black star entertainment, wien)

(oldham industries, pure sonic records, bpitch, detroit/berlin)

HOUSEMEISTER (aycb, bnr, detroit underground) DINAMITE (affin, planet rythm, detund) DJ MORI (suicide, japan/berlin) tent ARMIN (melting point, suicide) MITCH (melting point, suicide) MAERTINI BROES (pokerflat)

Fr 06.01.2017 CASES OF MADNESS

Fr 13.01.2017 BOLD

MICK WILLS (electrix, 2020 visions) CARL FINLOW (rat life rec, gigolo rec) + more

TRIPEO (clone, polegroup, balans) ANNIE HALL (detroid underground, flash rec.) SDX (suicide, diffuse reality, bold)

SUICIDE CIRCUS | S & U-BAHNHOF WARSCHAUERSTRASSE - BERLIN / GERMANY | ACCESS VIA WARSCHAUER BRÜCKE | SUICIDE-BERLIN.COM


092

Crossword Across 3. That is what we are, Dolly says 6. Pay your TV license or this will go 7. Island discs 10. The land mass we call home 11. Drexiyan DJ 12. Slow-ass mammal; lazy sinner 13. Jessica Simpson doesn’t eat this 14. Chase scene of the century; the battle of Fernanda Island Down 1. Is massive 2. Simba, Aslan, Cecil etc. 4. Home 5. Send these to the naughty Pharaoh 8. These Antarctic penguins are tough as shit 9. Legendary English broadcaster; dream surrogate granddad

Answers Across: Habitat, Locusts, Emperor, Lion, Stingray, Island, Buffalo, Planet Earth Down: Attenborough, Sloth, BBC, SnakevsIguana, Desert, Jungle

Self Portrait Eartheater

Billy Corgan or Jeremy Corbyn? Who said it: The opinionated Smashing Pumpkins frontman, or the quietly sexy Labour leader? 1) “We need to get back to a level of social responsibility that we haven’t seen for a long time” 2) “Let’s defend the principle of a society that cares for everyone and everyone cares for everyone else” 3) “I’m a leader, not a dictator” 4) “In the beginning, though, I have to admit that I did have a chip on my shoulder. I did want to prove everyone wrong”

6) “I am vegetarian. I became one at 20 when I was working in a pig farm. I got attached to the pigs” Answers: 1) Corgan 2) Corbyn 3) Corbyn 4) Corgan 5) Corgan 6) Corbyn

DIGRESSIONS

5) “When I’ve tried to reinvent the wheel, I get bashed for not doing the familiar things”


Truth

This month's artist takeover was created by Sleep Sparrow, who was responding to the word 'Truth'. Find more of her work at cargocollective.com/sleepsparrow.

If you're interested in contributing to this series, please email artsubmissions@crackmagazine.net


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“A vast swathe of hard-to-find, barely released Ra singles.” New Internationalist

For a free download compilation, visit www.strut-records.com/sampler

www.strut-records.com

SUNBURST AVE AFRICA

ANTHONY JOSEPH CARIBBEAN ROOTS

1CD / 2LP / digital

“Wonderful album. Relive these perfect ‘70s sounds” Songlines

1CD / 2LP / digital

“Tremendous set from innovative poet, musician and author.” Mojo

ALOHA GOT SOUL Soul, AOR & Disco In Hawai‘i 1979-1985 Rare Hawaiian grooves by Mike Lundy, Aura, Nohelani Cypriano, Nova, Hal Bradbury, ‘Aina & more. Compiled by Roger Bong of Aloha Got Soul

PAT THOMAS COMING HOME 2CD / 3LP / digital

“Majestic highlife” froots

D, D

2LP, C

/16

19/02

IDRIS ACKAMOOR & THE PYRAMIDS WE BE ALL AFRICANS 1CD / 2LP / digital

“Pulsing blend of cosmic jazz and world music. A masterpiece.” Flood

ALOHA GOT SOUL 1CD / 2LP / digital

“The true funky sound of paradise” The Vinyl Factory

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Turning Points: Shirley Collins

Words: Duncan Harrison

1950s: Moving to London from Hastings When I first got to London there wasn’t much of a folk scene. A couple of people were giving young singers like me an opportunity to meet up and sing together. We’d meet at the University of London where their professor of physics, John Hasted, was interested in folk music and encouraging people like me. Peter Kennedy, at the English Folk Dance and Song Society, opened up a room and let us sing there. As it got more popular, the scene began. Then in the 1960s it really started building – there were folk clubs up and down the country which you could sing at.

1959: Travelling to America with field collector Alan Lomax I remember absolutely everything about this trip! These were authentic singers – people who just sang as part of their lives. We met the mountain people in Kentucky, they were still singing songs that their ancestors brought over 400 years before. I was singing them versions of their songs which I knew from home – that connected them to ‘the old country’ which was England. The clearest memory I have is of finding Mississippi Fred McDowell in Como, Mississippi. I have this clear vision of Fred appearing out of the trees, carrying his guitar and wearing dungarees, he’d been picking cotton all day. It gives me goosebumps even talking about it now. In the 1960s he came over to England and I saw him once again. He knew that us recording him changed his life and he was such a gracious, lovely person. It transformed his life, but it also transformed mine.

groundbreaking, but we didn’t know that then! It was saying something about the people the music came from – the working class people of rural England. These people had been neglected and despised all their lives yet they produced these hundreds of songs which were so beautiful.

1969-1970: Releasing albums with her sister Dolly Dolly and I were very close – we both had this great love of Englishness. Dolly was able to capture the sound of England in her arrangements and, from listening to all the field recordings I had, I knew you had to sing the songs directly and straightforwardly and let the arrangements enhance the melodies. It was quite unique for its time and

2014: First live performance in 38 years at Union Chapel, London Dear David Tibet! He phoned me up while I was still working at the Job Centre in Brighton. He said he’d always loved my music and wanted to come and see me. I just burst into tears on the phone – I thought I’d been forgotten. He asked me if I wanted to sing at a concert. For the first 10 years I said no, for the next five years I said perhaps but

1970s-2014: Absence from singing It was pretty bleak – the reason for me stopping singing was the breakup of my marriage in a very personal and public betrayal from my then-husband. I had to try and sing through this heartache while working at the National Theatre. I was just so heartbroken that some nights I was crying, some nights I couldn’t sing. When I finally gave up in some ways it was a relief – I didn't have to humiliate myself anymore. I didn’t have to let the music down. I call them the ‘Wilderness years’. I knew I wasn’t Shirley Collins. That’s quite hard to bear when you’ve been a singer all your life.

whenever it came to it I chickened out. Then finally he asked if I’d sing a couple of songs at his concert in London and I said yes… and I turned up! I did it, against absolutely all the odds. It felt like an act of heroism! 2016: Lodestar - first album in 38 years Recording at home was absolutely essential. My voice had changed and I’d lost confidence – I didn't want to go into a studio and meet some young engineer who might say, ‘What’s this old bird doing here?!’ I chose people I trusted. I’d always wanted to do that first song, Awake Awake (Sweet England). What’s extraordinary now is the lines, “Awake awake sweet England, for dreadful days draw near”, how prescient is that? We recorded it last summer and all the ghastly things that have happened took place since then. All these songs are really important to me – they are songs I’ve loved for a long time. It was brilliant to be able to visit them and sing them again. I’d forgiven myself for not singing for all those years. Lodestar is out now via Domino Shirley Collins appears at Safe as Milk festival, Prestatyn, 21-23 April 2017

MUSIC

Shirley Collins’ infatuation with folk music has taken her on a journey. She travelled to the American South where she discovered Memphis country blues legend Mississippi Fred McDowell, released a string of albums on Harvest EMI with her sister Dolly and became a crucial figure in the English Folk Revival. Then, in the late 1970s, she withdrew from the music world after developing dysphonia – a dysfunction in one’s ability to use their voice. After years of coaxing from Current 93’s David Tibet, Collins found her voice again and is now celebrating the release of Lodestar – her first album in 38 years. Here, the 81-year-old British legend reflects on her extraordinary story. 


097 Words: Davy Reed

20 Questions: The Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne

“For a while the guys in the band called me Stinky”

Bloom by Beach House.

What book are you currently reading? Morphine by Mikhail Bulgakov. But usually I’m just on the internet finding out what Donald Trump is up to.

That’s a very honest answer and I commend you on it. We liked it as a commercial, not as piece as music on its own, but everyone wanted to stick it on the record.

Who’s your favourite person to follow on Instagram? This artist Alpha Channelling. He’s pretty prolific, it seems like every day he posts a sketch, and it’s usually of people fucking. What was the name of your first ever band? The Flaming Lips. First time lucky, that’s impressive. Well, we got better as we went on. If you were trying to seduce a potential lover, what music would you play?

What’s the worst hotel you’ve ever stayed in? Back in the 80s, all the hotels we could afford were really scary. What’s your signature recipe? It used to be that I could make a really good strong coffee, but now my skills are no longer useful in the world. Out of all the songs that you’ve recorded, which is your least favourite? Sun Blows Up Today, an extra track on The Terror. It’s a song we made for a car commercial that was in the Super Bowl.

Describe the worst haircut you’ve ever had... There would be a bunch of us and we were all little, my dad would just shave all of our hair off. It was in the late sixties, and we all really wanted to keep our long hair. Who’s the most famous person you’ve ever met? When I was three, I met Tarzan. Then I realised it was the actor Johnny Weissmuller, who was dressed as Tarzan.

Have you ever been arrested? No. I came close, and then I was so relieved. Have you ever had a nickname? For a little while the guys in the group called me ‘Stinky’. But I didn’t stink, it was a shirt I had. Do you think it was an affectionate nickname? Yeah. Well I thought so. For British people nicknames are such a big deal, I wish that we were better with nicknames. Maybe if you were British you’d be called Spud or something. I’m fascinated with it, that some guy gets called ‘Gaz’. Like why would you be called that? It’s short for Gareth or Gary. Oh well there you go. There’s this British thing to have nicknames that are an insult, but it’s like ‘if we’re insulting you, it means we love you’. What’s the worst job that you’ve ever had? One summer I helped my younger brother dig trenches in people’s for yards sprinkler systems, from five in the morning until eight at night. It was brutal as fuck and I almost couldn’t do it, but after a few months I was very in shape. Do you have any tattoos you regret? There’s one that kind of looks like a pimple now, we did it Oklahoma and

in pink ink, it says ‘Okey’ and now it’s all kind of mushed together. But no not really, I always forget that I’ve got them because most of mine are really little. I got one about a week ago at Miley Cyrus’s house, and it was an artist who was a friend of hers. Have you and Miley got more matching tattoos? There was a group of us. The one I got is a little yellow triangle, like a pyramid and I think she got one as well, but they’re only little. We always say you can’t ever put the tattoo on your face or your genitals. What would you like written on your tombstone? Well if die and my head and my hair still looks good, I’d like my head cut off and put in a freezer, and every year on my birthday they could get my head out, sing happy birthday to me and throw me back in the freezer. But I’d never considered that I’d be buried or anything. I guess maybe the tombstone could just say: “Never the face, never the dick.” The Flaming Lips new album Oczy Mlody is released 13 January via Warner Bros

MUSIC

You’d think the novelty of being in a band might wear thin after 30 years, but not for The Flaming Lips. Over the years, the Lips’ output has included an album designed to be simultaneously played on four different CDs, a Christmas film set on Mars, an EP released via USB sticks stuck inside cannabis flavoured jelly skulls and limited vinyl records filled with the blood of Erykah Badu, Nick Cave, Ke$ha and Coldplay’s Chris Martin. A few years ago there was some story about Wayne Coyne involving a golden non-explosive grenade that ended with him promising to drop LSD with an upset fan, and from that point on we knew he was perfect 20 Questions material.


Illustration: Ed Chambers Images courtesy of Polyester zine

Perspective: Let’s Find a Place for Us

OPINION

Ione Gamble is the founding Editorin-Chief of the Polyester zine. With the John Waters-inspired tagline ‘Have Faith in Your Own Bad Taste’, the publication is full of fun, creative insights and statements of sexual liberation in the 21st century. It also exists amongst a wave of platforms supporting progressive work and fostering a sense of community in the face of adversity, aiming to “bridge the gap of URL cyberfeminism with the IRL world.” Here, Gamble stresses the importance of building solidarity in moments of stress and strife. From when I started my feminist, selfpublished zine Polyester in September 2014 up until the recent release of my fifth print issue, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say Britain's landscape has completely changed. From Brexit and a new female-but-definitelynot-feminist Prime Minister in the UK, to Donald Trump in the U.S, the role of art within activism in the past year has seemed at points increasingly frivolous in the context of actually pushing forward any sort of sociopolitical ideas or agendas. Despite the fact we’re more politically engaged than ever, I’ve never felt more apathetic. Parties from both the left and right

continue to disregard notions of democracy, and in the context of party politics it can feel as though my voice may never be properly heard. However strong the urge to become enraged or isolate myself has been, it’s been increasingly important to create a publication that felt like something of a celebration. While the wider world at large seems to continuously other and further oppress women, queer and marginalised people, the role of community has never become more necessary. With the majority of mainstream fashion, arts and culture coverage being often steeped in pseudo-politics and false agendas, and with corporations cashing in on female empowerment for profit and capital cities becoming almost impossible for many of us to live in, the sad reality is we may often not be able to build physical safe spaces to thrive within. What we do have however is online spaces, printed matter and community organising as a means of staying afloat through political turmoil.   When I began Polyester the idea of an IRL community seemed somewhat of a myth — I spent most of my teenage years staring at a laptop screen

incessantly scrolling Tumblr in awe of all the other girls my age creating inspiring work on their own terms, without actually engaging with many of them. Online spaces arguably provided myself and many of my peers with the confidence to connect with likeminded individuals and build our own world, on our terms, away from patriarchal society. Flash forward a few years and it’s hard not to become cynical about the role social media has played in our current political situation or the dangers of only interacting with those that agree with your own views. We’ve all signed an online petition and considered our good deed done for the day, but combining our URL lives with offline interaction and attempting to reach those beyond our comfort zones is the only way to move positive change forward whilst those in positions of power continue regressive policies in opposite direction. However problematic our own left-wing saturated social media bubbles can be in the context of party politics (and they really are), it’s hard to really see what we would have left if it wasn’t for each other and the work we produce in response to the world around us. Whether it’s someone buying the zine, contributing themselves or attending

one of our parties, I hope the zine helps build and cement a world – or a tiny corner of one – in which we can all find hope existing within. Through producing content that questions beauty ideals, questions the wider world around us and builds a platform for people like me to thrive within, I’ve learned political art doesn’t always have to be post-ironic, and sincerity can be just as powerful as sarcasm. In the increasingly classist, racist, intolerant and arguably fascist world we live in, emotional responses are just as valid as intellectual ones. And yes, I stole that last phrase from a Jenny Holzer Twitter account. Polyester Issue Five is out now


NEW SPACE. NEW STORIES.

London's most unique new cultural destination. Located within a former printing facility, Printworks London is a staggering 5,000 capacity licensed venue, set within a 15-acre site in London's Docklands.

The first in-house music events series will be announced on Thursday 1st December 2016. Visit printworkslondon.co.uk


CRACK Issue 71  

Featuring Dean Blunt & GAIKA, Kelly Lee Owens, Wayne Coyne, Shirley Collins, Japandroids, our end of year lists and much more

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