Simple Things Festival 20 - 21 October, Across Bristol
Metronomy (Opening - Fiday night)
Wild Beasts Clark Omar Souleyman Shackleton Nadine Shah (Sandy) Alex G Marie Davidson Cakes Da Killa Carla dal Forno Intergalactic Gary Willow Roi Perez Noga Erez Dave Harvey & Christophe
The Bug ft Miss Red Dekmantel Soundsystem Diet Cig Klein
Japanese Breakfast Gramrcy Studio 89 DJs Coco & The Nutmilk
HMLTD Downtown Boys Marco Bernardi Strange Frequency
Mixpak Showcase ft. Dre Skull and special guests www.simplethingsfestival.co.uk
A city-wide, two day programme of musical diversity and innovation
Leftfield performing Leftism live
Daphni (4hrs) Juan Atkins John Maus GAIKA IDLES Kahn & Neek Lorenzo Senni Childhood Sassy J TRAAMS Kelly Lee Owens Ă“ Children of Leir Shapes DJs Don Loudo
Jane Weaver Shanti Celeste Binh Patten Priests
Inga Mauer Warmduscher Spinning Coin Musu DJs Boy Azooga
Oliver Wilde Insecure Men The Early Years + Many More
London Astrobeat Orchestra performing Talking Heads www.simplethingsfestival.co.uk
8 & 9 SEPT 2017
Erased Tapes is ten. KIASMOS / DAWN OF MIDI / PENGUIN CAFE PETER BRODERICK & FRIENDS / LUBOMYR MELNYK M A S AY O S H I F U J I TA / R I V A L C O N S O L E S MICHAEL PRICE / DOUGLAS DARE
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Ovation Ovation Demdike DemdikeStare Stare (DJ) (DJ)
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Robert RobertAiki AikiAubrey AubreyLowe Lowe (live) (live) &&Tash TashLC LC
Ovation Ovation 10—08—2017 10—08—2017
Ovation are proud to present a collaborative Ovation are proudRadar to present collaborative night between RadioaLondon and night between Radar Radio London and 33/33 taking place at The Pickle Factory 33/33 taking place The Pickle Factory on Thursday 10th at August. on Thursday 10th August. Demdike Stare will be bringing their dark Demdike will bemusic bringing theirLondon, dark ambientStare electronic to east ambient electronic music to resident east London, accompanied by Brooklyn accompanied by Brooklyn Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe resident and Radar Radio Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe and Radar Radio mainstay, Tash LC. mainstay, Tash LC.
The Pickle Factory The Pickle Factory 13–14 The Oval, London E2 9DU 13–14 The Oval, London E2 9DU www.ovationmusic.co.uk www.ovationmusic.co.uk
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FA B R I C
AUGUST 2017 FRIDAY
04 ROOM 01
DAV E C L A R K E C U R AT E S DAV E C L A R K E L A DY S TA R L I G H T ( L I V E ) MR. JONES ROOM 02
N O I D E A’ S ORIGINAL HUXLEY S U P E R FL U ALEXIS RAPHAEL
MARCEL DETTMANN (6 HOUR SET) A N T H O N Y PA R AS OL E ROOM 02
O / V/ R DAS H A R U S H ( L I V E ) T E R RY F R A N C I S SATURDAY
E AT S E V E R Y T H I N G JESSE ROSE E L L I OT A DA M S O N ROOM 02
L U K E S L AT E R L U CY B I L LY T U R N E R
M I C H A E L M AY E R RED AXES T E R RY F R A N C I S SATURDAY
HUNEE K I M A N N F OX M A N INTERSTELLAR FUNK
77A Charterhouse Street, London EC1. Opening times: 11pm — 7am. Check www.fabriclondon.com for advance tickets, prices and further info. fabric 93: Soul clap, Out Now. fabric 94: Steffi, Out Now. fabric 95, Roman Flügel, coming soon
Regular Features Editorial - 19 Introducing New Music - 23 From the periphery
Dave's Got a Plan - 24 Even with the media’s full attention on UK artists, South London rapper Dave still stands out by a mile. With his emotive lyrics, subtle charisma and an ability to deliver captivating live performances, there’s every chance of him going further. Having met with Dave numerous times this summer, Duncan Harrison profiles a gifted new artist on the rise
Reviews - 63 Gig reports, product reviews and our verdict on the latest releases in music
Perspective: When did music journalism stop wielding the axe? - 82 The Quietus co-founder Luke Turner confronts the war on honest criticism in the age of beige Retrospective: Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me - 73 The haunting feature film is one of David Lynch's most under appreciated works. Daniel Jones dives into the grotesque beauty of its soundtrack
Aesthetic: Goldie - 48 With references to his love for hip-hop culture to his current home of Thailand, photographer Theo Cottle and LAW mag teamed up to tell the drum ’n’ bass pioneer’s story for our monthly fashion editorial
Grizzly Bear return from the wilderness - 32 Angus Harrison speaks to the American four piece about campaigning for Bernie and falling back in love with their own band
20 Questions: Jackmaster - 81 The Glaswegian DJ talks Oasis, book recommendations and sacking off Drexciya for Love Island with Davy Reed
Batu keeps innovation at the top of Bristol's agenda - 44 Through his Timedance label, events and his own sound, the emerging producer is fanning the flames of Bristol's self-contained sonic revolution. By Gwyn Thomas de Chroustchoff
Roi Perez makes himself at home - 36 From Tel Aviv to Berlin, the newest Panorama Bar resident has had a symbiotic relationship with queer club culture. By Anna Tehabsim
BBZ are changing the face of London's queer club scene - 56 The collective's parties create a space for queer, trans and non-binary people of colour in London. BBZ's co-founders speak to Niloufar Haidari about the importance of community
Sheer Mag: Tough Love - 40 The Philadelphia band replace the pelvic thrust of strutting classic rock with a punch to the gut – pouring righteous progressive energy into their throwback sound. Sammy Jones finds lead singer Tina Halladay as furious and liberating as ever
Turning Points: Carl Cox - 79 The legendary selector breaks down the definitive moments of his career
019 Dave shot exclusively for Crack Magazine by Elliot Kennedy London: May 2017
Crack Was Made Using
Back in 2014, we were pleased to launch a re-brand with Kelela’s debut cover story. Last year, DIY singer/ producer Abra and the ever-divisive rapper Lil Yachty both graced the front page for the first time with Crack Magazine. A personal career highlight was bumping into Novelist on a flight to Turin and handing him a copy of our new issue, which was fresh from the press and featured his face on the cover. Nov, who was then 18-years-old, was absolutely elated, and the posh elderly lady sat next to him was highly impressed.
Arcade Fire Electric Blue
E.M.M.A. Bijoux de Diamants
Bjørn Torske & Prins Thomas On U
Chrysta Bell + David Lynch Back Seat
Yazoo Nobody’s Diary
Cardi B Bodak Yellow
JD Reid Chef ft. Hodgy
Sheer Mag Suffer Me
Smerz Oh My My
Hype Williams The Whole Lay
21 Savage Bank Account
Red Axes Ride The Sea
Daniel Avery & Alessandro Cortini Water
Lana Del Rey 13 Beaches
The Raincoats Shouting Out Loud
18 Rays Long Time Ago
Sudan Archives Come Meh Way
Jana Rush No Fuks Given
Soulwax Goodnight Transmission
18+ & Babyfather Drama (Babyfather Meditation Mix VIP)
Happy Meals Every Moment Is A Birth
Tyler, the Creator 911 / Mr. Lonely ft. Steve Lacy & Frank Ocean
This issue is fronted with Dave’s first cover story, and I reckon it won’t be his last. The 19-year-old South Londoner is original, quietly charismatic and ambitious. I’m under no illusion that he doesn’t already have a huge following. With his lyrical depth, ear for melody and passionate live performances, in a brief space of time Dave’s already gathered a massive fanbase, and he doesn’t need this feature to succeed. But I do hope the cover accelerates his career slightly, and maybe one day if he gets huge, it will be us making the claim to fame. Davy Reed, Editor
It’s fun to launch a new cover featuring a huge artist. From the endorphin rush of being tagged in an Instagram account with millions of followers, to seeing the stacks of mags quickly disappear in our stockists, you can generally feel the buzz of having a wellestablished cover star. Then again, it’s just as exciting to support a new, fastrising act with their first magazine cover.
Issue 79 August 2017
NADIA REID Bush Hall 24 August
O ur g ui d e to wh at's goi n g on i n y ou r c i ty DISCODROMO Oval Space Terrace 13 August
RESOM The Pickle Factory 11 August
THE NATUR ALS The Shacklewell Arms 25 August TOK YO WORLD Ghostface Killah, Stefflon Don, LEVELZ Eastville Park, Bristol 23-24 September Day / Weekend: £40/80 For lovers of the more bass-heavy end of the dance music spectrum, Tokyo World is considered a late highlight on Bristol’s summer calendar. And alongside the usual offerings of dub and drum ’n’ bass this year there’s a notable amount of great MCs on the bill. Wu-Tang’s surreal criminologist Ghostface Killah headlines day one with help from affiliate Killah Priest, and elsewhere across the weekend OGs such as Donae’o, Wiley and So Solid’s Romeo and Lisa Mafia share a share a line-up with artists from the UK’s fresh-faced new generation such as Stefflon Don, Abra Cadabra and Belly Squad. It’s gonna go off.
LOST VILL AGE FESTIVAL De La Soul, The Black Madonna, Nina Kraviz Lincolnshire 24-27 August £165 With its emphasis on ‘experience’, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Lost Village might suffer the fate of many a boutique festival: great yoga, shame about the music. Such concerns prove short-lived – the bill is more than watertight with some of the most cherished names in contemporary house and techno stepping up. The Black Madonna, Ben UFO, Avalon Emerson and Baba Stiltz are some obvious standouts, but should you find yourself fading, the high-end food stalls, wood-fired hot tubs and creative workshops should help you reset and replenish. And there’s yoga. Of course there is.
MDRNT Y CRUISE Ben Klock, Sonja Moonear, Dixon 16-20 September Genova, Italy Prices Vary
HOLY FUCK The Jazz Cafe 9 August
ER ASED TAPES IS TEN Southbank Centre 8-9 September
Across ten years the Erased Tapes label has gained a reputation for uniting some of the most avant-garde and innovative artists in ambient, neo-classical and otherworldly sounds. Now, the awardwinning composers head to one of London’s best cultural venues for two days of swirling soundscapes. Erased Tapes will celebrate its tenth anniversary with a takeover of the Royal Festival Hall by label artists including Kiasmos, Penguin Cafe, Lubomyr Melnyk, Dawn of Midi and Rival Consoles. Expect drifting, celestial bliss.
BOY BET TER KNOW The O2 28 August
Hold on a minute, were you under the impression that cruise ships were just for your aunty’s mate who’s celebrating her silver wedding anniversary after 25 happy years of marriage to her husband Steve? Get with the times. MDRNTY Cruise is here to prove that it’s not all redcoats and buffets. Starting off in Genova, you’ll journey to Barcelona, Mallorca and Ibiza before docking in at Genova after four whirlwind days of big-room dance music and mediterranean stopovers. There’s also yoga and meditation available to maintain your zen if things get choppy.
ALEX CAMERON The Lexington 31 August
BADBADNOTGOOD The Brass and Crimson 9 August
JENS LENKMAN KOKO 29 August
CAR SEAT HEADREST Kentish Town Forum 29 August
FIELD MANEUVERS Shanti Celeste, Volvox, Soichi Terada (live) Secret location, near London 1-3 September Final Release: £119 + BF Field Maneuvers is the kind of event which has people coming back every year for its amiable party atmosphere, no-frills set-up and respected selectors. This year’s festival will host live sets from Octo Octa, Japanese pioneer Soichi Terada and The Golden Filter on a line-up that includes usual suspects such as Ryan Elliott, Ben Sims and trusted club curators like Andy Blake, Dan Beaumont alongside Jane Fitz and Jade Seatle. The festival’s capacity is 700, so expect to make new friends over the course of the weekend.
021 BE ACH FOSSILS Oslo 29 August
HUNEE fabric 12 August
THE NECKS Cafe Oto 28-30 August
FESTIVAL FORTE Jeff Mills, Vatican Shadow, Dasha Rush Castelo Montemor-O-Velho, Portugal 24-27 August For those who prefer their electronic disciplines to assume a darker, stranger aspect, this Portuguese art and music festival is sure to appeal. Set in a centuries old fort, the line-up explores a rich seam of subversion where techno, noise and experimental music intersect. Among the acts we’re most excited about are cult noise and post-punk musician In Aeternam Vale, art-techno primitivists Ninos Du Brasil and Medusa’s Bed, a new spoken word project from Zahra Mani, Mia Zabelka and, perhaps the gothmother of it all, Lydia Lunch.
DAMO SUZUKI Moth Club 11 August VENTNOR INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL Childhood, Girl Ray, Cosmo Pyke 11 August Isle of Wight £30
GIRLPOOL Village Underground 7 September Girlpool channel the spirit of 90s riot grrl, but don’t be mistaken in thinking that they are fueled by pure nostalgia. Part folk and part punk, the Cali duo's relatable tunes about growing up and restless ennui explore intimate topics like toxic relationships, detachment and bad habits. Catch them live to dive headfirst into a sea of apathy with a bunch of other dissatisfied millennials.
The Ventnor Fringe is a yearly arts event on the Isle Of Wight. Not dissimilar to the Edinburgh Fringe, the island gets taken over by a flood of art, performances and pop-up food and drink establishments. Utilising warehouse spaces, churches and unique venues, the booking policy showcases a commitment to new music from the UK and beyond. There’s the ambitious live show of Childhood, Moshi Moshi’s new billboard signing Girl Ray and the jazz explorations of newcomer Moses Boyd. Get on the ferry.
VINCE STAPLES The Forum 30 August
ALL AH-L AS Electric Ballroom 16 August
T Y SEGALL The Coronet 1 September
SUNFALL FESTIVAL Brockwell Park 12 August
CHASTIT Y BELT The Garage 14 September
Now a staple on the summer calendar, for those itching for a summer getaway and a sojourn on the Croatian coast, Dimensions has you covered. This year they've pulled together a blockbuster line-up once again, with the iconic Grace Jones and Berlin powerhouse Moderat performing for the opening concert, where the venue – a 2000-year-old amphitheatre in Pula’s city centre – is sure to provide the jaw-dropping backdrop. For the main event there are big names like Goldie, Daphni, Theo Parrish, Floating Points and former cover stars Helena Hauff and Jeff Mills, who will step up to the various nooks and crannies of an abandoned fort. Another promising line-up for an event that is truly one-of-a-kind.
LORD OF THE ISLES Shoreditch Platform 19 August Lord of the Isles is one of dance music's most consistent artists. Having released on Firecracker Recordings, ESP Institute and more recently his own DSFANT label, the Edinburgh producer's sound is often inspired by the mysticism of the Scottish highlands (the results of which feel uniquely majestic) and by the times when those fields were brought to life at the dawn of rave in the UK. For this event at Shoreditch's Platform, Lord of the Isles will helm the decks all night. Expect to be spellbound.
KNXWLEDGE XOYO 17 August
DIMENSIONS Nina Kraviz, Moderat, Marcel Dettmann Pula, Croatia 30 August – 3 September Weekend ticket: €175
There’s a good chance Chastity Belt have been providing the soundtrack to your life for the last four years. With tracks like Nip Slip, Pussy Weed Beer and (Giant) Vagina, the Seattle four piece’s 2013 debut LP No Regerts took on dumb college party culture with feminist punk humour. Over the years the band have matured slightly, and this year’s album I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone explores the anxiety and constant indecision that defines a quarter life crisis. If you haven’t already, you must welcome Chastity Belt into your life.
THE BURRELL CONNECTION
With this new project, Richard McMaster and Laurie Pitt (members of Golden Teacher and General Ludd respectively) amalgamate the menacing scuzz and moody grooves that their groups are known for. With conceptual artist James Stephen Wright’s doomladen mantras adorning their tracks, the trio make sludgy, disorientating electro-drone. On their self-titled debut record The Modern Institute use a kind of absurdist humour to take the piss out of the high-minded scenes they’ve all been a part of: “False beards and diamond hooves” is fauxominously repeated over the track of the same name. But the palpable dread and leftfield groove generated is genuinely thrilling. Another project showing off what a hotbed of wonderful wigginess Glasgow is right now.
O Arabic Eight 1 Cabaret Voltaire / Throbbing Gristle : facebook.com/ tonywebsiteltd
O Wildlife 1 Denis Sulta / Shanti Celeste : soundcloud.com/ theburrellconnection
ANNA OF THE NORTH Norwegian singer-songwriter Anna Lotterud’s Anna of The North project was given a well deserved springboard last month when Tyler, the Creator featured Anna on two tracks of his fourth studio record Flower Boy. “He had this hook which reminded him of Sway,” Anna tells Crack over FaceTime from Norway, “and he wanted me to sing it like that. He liked my voice on Sway because it’s so raw I think.” Sway came out in 2014 and it introduced the world to Anna’s DIY pop sound. Working with producer Brady Daniell-Smith, she writes pop songs with the kind of cinematic dreaminess that Tyler imbues in his own music. He heard the track then met with Anna at a festival in Norway. When it came to writing and producing Flower Boy, she was a perfect fit to play a role in his Technicolour universe. For Anna, it was a dream come true. “If I can get recognition from Tyler then fuck everyone else! That’s good enough for me! That’s all I needed, I can die now! It’s probably the biggest thing that could’ve happened for me.” Both Brady and Anna are infatuated with mainstream music from the 80s – an influence which is a lot more palatable when presented through a lo-fi, bedroom pop lens. “I’d always been writing music,” Anna says, “I’d just been doing it in my bedroom and never sharing anything with anyone.” On Boredom – a standout track from Tyler’s record which Anna guests on, her woozy, melancholy vocals sound perfectly at home on the vivid pictures of youthful loneliness he paints. “Find some time / Find some time to do something” she sings, swaying against his bright production. Anna’s debut album, Lovers is out on 8 September via Different Recordings – the electronic-led arm of PIAS. Centred around a breakup, Anna and Brady’s knack for creating starry-eyed pop songs about despondency and isolation will be presented across ten sparse, emotive electro-pop cuts. “I get more inspired to make music when I’m sad, or when I go through stuff. The hardest thing in the world is to write a happy song!”
O Operate Within 1 Sandwell District / Silent Servant : soundcloud.com/ phasefatale
BENNY It feels like the stylistic divide between rap’s embittered old heads and the new school has been provoking arguments this entire decade, but that’s not to say there aren’t still NYC traditionalists who are totally content with cramming in the syllables over rugged boombap beats as if Flockaveli never happened. Brothers Westside Gunn and Conway are enjoying a belated career peak having signed to Shady Records, and they’re putting on fellow Buffalo native Benny, whose prepping for his next full length with their Griselda Records imprint. Earlier this year Benny had the honour of spitting a radio freestyle alongside Prodigy not so long before his passing. Curious? Try Benny’s verse Westside Gunn’s collab Looking Like The Greatest, where claims to “float through my city like the ghost of Rick James”. Nice.
O Looking Like The Greatest ft. Westside Gunn 1 Meyhem Lauren / Conway : @BennyBsf
O Someone Kali Uchis / Kacy Hill : @anna_ofthenorth
O Track 1 File Next To : Website
THE MODERN INSTITUTE
As Manchester's Warehouse Project prepares to roll out once again, there are some up-and-coming DJs to look out for amongst the blockbuster line-ups. One name it could be worth heading down at doors for this year is The Burrell Connection. The emerging Glasgow-based producer has strong ties to the event, debuting at its Store Street home last year and releasing his latest EP via WHP resident Krysko's label I Walked The Night. With a moniker lifted from a vast collection of art housed in Glasgow, and an EP named after its Southside area, The Burrell Connection channels his city's punchy nature in more ways than one. Chunky kicks, effervescent pads and bright, oddball flourishes create a mood that could just as easily cater to a laid back day party as it could soundtrack peak-time, bouncing off the sweat-soaked walls of a tunnel at 3am. To Store Street, then.
There’s a history of techno producers mining the collapsed veins of punk and post-punk for a little lift: the DIY spirit is embedded in the Xerox-style covers and barely contained violence of British Murder Boys, or used to signal subversion for more modern acts like Silent Servant, Powell and the roster of Blackest Ever Black. Phase Fatale aka Hayden Payne, a New York-Berlin transplant, stalks this territory with theatrical flair. After last year’s storming white label for Jealous God and his more recent, industrial flavoured Anubis EP on Ostgut’s sublabel Unterton, Payne is set to release his debut LP via Dominick Fernow’s Hospital Productions this month. Redeemer is a post-classical meditation on… just kidding! It’s bursting with muscular techno decorated with drones, pitched-down vox and the kind of fruity arpeggiated synths that makes you want to strap on some leather trousers and swing from the nearest postindustrial fixture.
Words: Duncan Harrison Photography: Elliot Kennedy Styling: Holly Macdonald All Clothing by Nike
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With the emotional honesty of his sharp lyricism, in less than two years Dave has proven himself to be one of the UKâ€™s most compelling voices. Having had cosigns from Drake and his face appear on billboards across London, so far the music industry has been kind to the 19-year-old rapper. But itâ€™s the wise head on his young shoulders which will take him as far as he wants to go.
“I’m able to focus in different ways now. It’s targeted anger, not just raw pain”
It’s a hot July day in London and the Streatham Vale rapper is about to play one of the biggest solo shows of his career at Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park. He gets up, shadow-boxes for a couple of seconds then darts on stage – prompting roars of excitement from the young crowd. “My name’s Dave,” he tells the crowd, “I’m 19 and I’m from South London.” A lot has happened for Dave – real name David Orobosa Omoregie – in a short time. As the world’s gaze has shifted onto British emcees over the last three years, Dave has proved himself as a prodigiously skilled rapper. He barely misses a bar when he performs live, which is especially impressive given the breadth of his small but staggering catalogue. Drifting between tempos with ease, he delivers energising grime flows on songs like the AJ Tracey collaboration Thiago Silva (which uses the classic Ruff Sqwad Pied Piper instrumental) and 100Ms, then switches lanes into poignant rap-soliloquies on songs like Panic Attack – an arrestingly personal account of trauma, anxiety and determination. At every turn, Dave has hinted at the same level of potential as the UK scene’s brightest stars. He’s as eloquent a storyteller as Kano and his words fall on record with the same sculpted, crystal-clear intonation as Stormzy. But Dave’s on a mission to do something a little different. Inspired by Hans Zimmer movie soundtracks and anime, Dave talks a lot about vision. Eyes started turning in Dave’s direction back in 2015 when he uploaded a freestyle to YouTube, aged 16, on the same day he started college. With his two brothers in prison, Dave’s bars
were delivered with an urgency that can’t be feigned. “Sometimes I cry, my mum makes that face and bruv I see it in her eyes and I break down/ But you ain't ever had a breakdown. Driving to Cookham Wood in a whip and it breaks down.” The emotional stress of these visits to male juveniles' prisons and the reality of having family members behind bars encouraged Dave to put a pen to paper. “Writing lyrics is what got me through it all. I’m not really in that place anymore which is why I’m able to make different types of music,” Dave tells me over FaceTime, reflecting on that breakthrough freestyle. “I still feel it heavily but I’ve really managed to calm myself down and go from raw, pure rage to being able to use it and focus. I’m able to use in different ways now, it’s targeted anger. Not just raw pain.” At Wireless, he dedicated Panic Attack to anybody in the crowd who’d lost somebody to the prison system. “To my brother, if you’re listening, I love you so much.” During the performance he broke down and knelt on one knee, breathless and on the verge of tears for a second before picking the bars back up. When he finished the track he apologised to his audience but explained that his brother’s serving a life sentence for a stabbing. “If you know anyone in that world then talk them out of it while you still can,” he told the crowd, “it’s not worth it.” It was a moving moment, and a very real one. But Dave’s in no rush to become any kind of counsellor for his fans just yet. “Anything I’ve said is out of love but it’s not my responsibility,” he insists, “I’m not the voice of reason, I’ve just said a few reasonable things. I’ll just continue to try and express myself in a way that people can relate to.” This gift for turning personal experiences into music that resonates
with huge, diverse audiences came to the fore on Dave’s Six Paths EP, which he released in September 2016. Working with longtime producer Tyrell ‘169’ Paul and serial hit-maker Fraser T Smith, Dave was able to find a rich, epic sound which gave his impassioned bars and autobiographical narratives a fitting emotive backdrop. Dave describes Fraser – the Grammy Award-winning producer who worked on the triumphant sound of Stormzy’s Gang Signs & Prayer – as a crucial figure in his path, “I can’t express the amount of genius he’s imparted on me as a life coach and as a friend.” Dave’s also developing his technical skill set – he’s a trained pianist (having played live while rapping on a number of occasions) and Fraser’s been coaching him with guitar and production. It’s clear when talking to Dave that the structural specifics of writing and production are a major focus for him. Ask him about superstar co-signs and he’ll talk to you about chord progressions. Through Fraser and 169’s idiosyncratic productions, Dave was able to tell detailed stories about life on road and – on Picture Me – describe the different paths and varying fortunes he saw in front of him and his peers with alarming lucidity. Earlier this year he made his TV debut, performing the track on Later… with Jools Holland. It felt like a breakthrough moment as the then 18-year-old rapped, “Are you playing in a stadium? Or are you sitting in a station? You get your picture, get to painting.”
Dave’s perched on a handrail with his head bowed down, facing the ground. His eyes are closed.
A few weeks before Wireless, I meet with Dave for the first time at his Crack Magazine cover shoot in a Bethnal Green studio. He arrives with his two managers. They’d picked him up earlier that day from Streatham where he lives with his mum, who had supplied the three of them with Tupperware boxes of chicken and rice for lunch. In person Dave is polite, focused and – as his music shows – an articulate storyteller. He’s able to divert the attention of the whole room with stories about driving lessons and five-a-side leagues – standard 19-year-old stuff, but painted vividly. Later down the line, I ask Dave about this particular skill, and he credits it, in some part at least, to his education. “I was always decent at English, it was a subject I enjoyed,” he explains. “I never found it too difficult to put words with words.” Dave dropped out of college a while ago to pursue music full-time, but he tells me about a specific English teacher he had in school who he’s stayed in contact with. “She got in touch recently saying she’d seen me on the cover of Facebook… I think she meant Spotify.” She did mean Spotify. The day before the shoot Dave dropped 100Ms and the streaming giant placed billboards across London promoting the track. Our conversation is briefly interrupted when Dave gets a phonecall from his mum – she’s just finished work and she wants to know where to drive to in order to see one. “She’s proud of me,” Dave says shyly. “She’s got a lot going on. The music thing makes it easier but there’s still a lot happening.” The billboard campaign was a milestone, but 100Ms is hardly the first major breakthrough.
Dave’s profile skyrocketed in October of last year, when Drake debuted a remix of Dave’s serene, melodic track Wanna Know on his Beats 1 OVO Sound Radio show. As we’ve come to expect from the Toronto superstar’s Midas touch, things escalated quickly for Dave as tens of millions of people were turned on to his sound. At the start of 2017, Dave joined Drake on stage for two of his shows at London’s O2 Arena to perform the remix. Then when Drake dropped his chart-topping More Life playlist in March, Dave’s voice could be heard at the end of the track Teenage Fever. "Very much 6am, slightly been awake for 24 hours, so please forgive me,” says the sampled voice note,
“More ideas and stuff coming. Yeah, yeah fam, I'm waffling… I am tired fam, Jesus Christ." Did Dave see that coming? “No. Not exactly,” he laughs. “I sent a voice note to Ollie [Oliver El-Khatib, founder of OVO and Drake’s manager] about ideas for production. It was at 6am but I was super excited to get the call so that meant staying up late, trying to get back to them and let them know that I was definitely still trying.” Some commentators have questioned the integrity of the leg-ups Drake’s offered London artists, suggesting his cosigns are cultural tourism or a kind of condescending talent scouting. But Dave is keen to reiterate just how unquestionably positive the cosign has been for him. In February he tweeted, “I'm not even gonna get into this
debate but anyone who doesn't see this all as positive has no idea about music.” It’s a sentiment he stands by when we talk about it, “It’s exactly what I tweeted. It’s all positive. It’s all good looking forward – Drake is helping to shine a lot on everything.” Despite now being in the orbit of superstardom, Dave remains modest and level-headed. Still unsigned, he explains he’s remained independent so that he’s got two people focusing on him 100 percent of the time rather than 15 people focusing on him 10 percent of the time. He’s sticking with the same social circle too. “I got ten people that I love, look I don't want a hundred friends,” he raps on 100Ms, and he’s loyal to his word. The same crew that stand behind him in some of his earliest videos are gathered into a huddled
circle backstage before showtime at Wireless. “It’s crucial for all of us,” Dave says of his close friends. “We’re all going down different avenues and we’re all here to support each other. A lot of my friends are going to university and that’s super tough. It’s the same for my friends who are working and it’s the same thing for me… We have to stick together because we remember when things were different, filming music videos in parks outside my house and getting 400 views in 400 days.” Unassuming, as the stage name suggests, there’s a quiet confidence to Dave when he talks about what’s on the horizon. Now that music’s gotten him to a better place he seems excited about the future. The industry is more geared than ever before towards supporting UK talent and a voice like Dave’s – ambitious and astute – looks perfectly positioned to be reaching big audiences as soon as he’s ready. There’s definitely potential for longevity here, and so before we sign off, I ask him how he wants young people to feel when they listen to his music in years to come. “I want people to feel happy. I want people to be able to relate. I want people to hear that voice they have in their head but can’t put it into words. That’s what I’ve always tried to–” His flow gets interrupted, it’s mum again. Dave’s at home and he’s just seen that she’s had her hair done. He tells her it looks good then jumps back on to FaceTime. “Sorry, that took a turn,” he says, before remembering that his best method of communication is clarity: “But yeah – I just want people to feel like I’m speaking for them.” Dave appears at Applesap festival, Amsterdam, 12 August
â€œI remember when things were different, filming music videos in parks outside my house and getting 400 views in 400 daysâ€?
Some bands grab your attention, others quietly consume you. Grizzly Bear firmly fall in the latter category. Over the course of their decade-plus career, they have imbued guitar music with a weirdness and a worldliness few of their contemporaries could boast. As they return with their first album in five years, their dark wisdom has never felt so relevant. Grizzly Bear were a band borne from natural circumstance. The name started life as a label for vocalist Ed Droste’s solo music in 2004. He was then joined by Chris Bear (drums) and Chris Taylor (bass and production), who offered their assistance reworking his recordings, after they were introduced through a mutual friend. Their first album, Horn of Plenty, was released, and not long after, Bear’s friend Daniel Rossen joined the set-up to provide guitars and vocals. From here the band proper was conceived. Yellow House, their first record as a quartet, came out in 2007. In 2009 they followed with their masterpiece, Veckatimest – securing their reputations as the giants of America’s then all powerful chamberpop movement. But by the time production and touring of their fourth album had come to an end, the Grizzly Bear project was exhausted. Shields (2012) was the result of a lengthy process, including an entirely abandoned near-album’s worth of material recorded in Marfa, Texas. “There was no clear future, that was definitely true,” Rossen makes clear to me, during one of four phone calls with the band’s respective members. “We were obviously very lost,” Taylor adds during another. An implied hiatus began. “I think we all sort of knew we needed a bit of space to address other elements of our lives,” Droste recalls. Once the space had been found, and lives been rebalanced – marriages, births, moves to coastal LA – the next question was how, if ever, Grizzly Bear would exist again. Chief ‘getting the
band back together’ duties fell to Chris Taylor. “I was sending gentle, prodding emails for a couple of years,” he laughs. Demos and ideas were exchanged tentatively. In pairs, they embarked on remote songwriting sessions; Bear joined Rossen for a long weekend at his home in rural, upstate New York, while Taylor and Droste spent time “stuck under a fog cloud” in Crestline, CA. The eventual recording process, in New York, June 2016, they all agree, was the most fun they’ve ever had making music. “I feel like it shows,” Droste smiles down the telephone. “It’s my favourite thing we’ve made.” Painted Ruins, their first album in five years, is a Grizzly Bear record. As such, it’s never likely to be stuffed full of laugh-out-loud skits, but as spectral guitar music goes, there is a previously untapped lightness on display. From the drunken march of Losing All Sense, to the mocking solipsism of closer Sky Took Hold, the band’s songwriting has grown into something more playful. “We definitely talked about keeping this record fun,” Rossen explains. “We’ve done so much channeling of the darker parts of our personalities as a band. It gets to the point where that doesn’t do anything for you anymore, you’re just reinforcing negative experiences. You’re not adding anything.” Album opener Wasted Acres feels like a summation of this newfound swagger. Beginning with a sunrise of burnt synths, horns and bending flutes, Rossen opens with the words, “Howling at the field”. It’s a typically Grizzly Bear starting point: existential, pastoral, the blush of woodwind, paired with the drama of the American plain. From here, however, the tone shifts; a strutting bass joins the party, Rossen’s voices drops in register and repeats a sardonic
mantra: “were you even listening? Were you riding with me?” Awe cedes ground to cynicism. That’s not to say the strains of adulthood endured during their fiveyear absence aren’t present. In 2014, Droste’s marriage to his partner Chad McPhail ended, an event he has declined to talk about in interviews, but implies informed the album in places. “There are certain things I don’t feel it’s necessary to talk about,” he tells me, confidently. “I’m compelled to talk about social issues. Other artists are completely quiet on that but will happily speak about some traumatic personal thing. If something happens to me I don’t feel the need to lay it out. There are enough tea leaves in the lyrics for people to read.” The leaves are definitely there to be read – it’s impossible not to hear the hurt in lines like “conversation stalls, and after so long, there’s nothing really there,” on Neighbours – but rather than the bottom of a cup, they are lost in the mess of the forest floor. “I love that,” Droste enthuses, “music I can read and work myself into.” This restraint provides the album with a disquiet that naked honesty would struggle to achieve. Droste has long had the perfect voice for the disconnect that comes with heartbreak, and on Painted Ruins he continues his run as one of the most under-celebrated pop singers
“The 20th century idea of a country of immigrants, that’s the America I feel patriotism towards. But that’s not what that word means anymore”
Beyond their personal perspectives, Grizzly Bear have always been a band to deal in vistas, and Painted Ruins deals with the contested terrain of the American frontier with even more colour than its predecessors. “This is a bicoastal album,” Droste remarks at one point during our conversation. Rossen’s writing in particular draws on the rural routines of his new home in upstate New York. Alongside the “mundane rituals of country life,” he has experienced America’s political divisions firsthand. “You can see the two tribes up here,” he tells me, “the city and the rural community.” During the lead-up to the 2016 presidential elections the band were public in their support for Bernie Sanders, even playing at one of his rallies in Brooklyn. When I ask each of them about the current situation, they all express a unique sense of bewilderment and horror. “It felt like going back 50, 60 years!” Taylor howls. “I don’t even know what it means to be around people who are so outspoken with beliefs like this. Everything [Trump] stands for, it’s not political, it’s inhuman, it’s sick.” When I ask if they consider themselves patriotic – if they have an easy relationship with “being American” – they respectively pause and groan. “The 20th-century idea of a country of immigrants, that’s the America I feel patriotism towards. But that’s not what that word means anymore,” Rossen sighs. That said, each member also shares with me the ways in which they hope to change things; small, local projects that signal the future of America’s left in practical ways. Bear tells me there
will be voter registration resources at their upcoming North American shows; Droste enthuses about how politically informed his 12-year-old neighbour is; Rossen details a benefit he’s organising in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he hopes soon to relocate permanently with his wife. This is not an album about a crumbling empire. The band are keen to stress that recording was finished before Trump was elected, and that these are not topical songs. Yet it’s impossible to ignore the incidental allegory. Painted Ruins – the thick, proud mask pasted over decay. “I actually had an idea to call this album Bread and Circuses,” Chris Taylor tells me, referencing the Roman satirist Juvenal’s descriptions of the simple gratifications required to distract the populace in ancient Rome. “Something crazy happens every day with this fucking Cheeto as president,” he later comments, leaning on a less classical, but equally effective reference. In my separate conversations with them, Grizzly Bear speak about their band with fondness and self-awareness. They are professional adults who have learnt through trial and error how to make an album considerately, and democratically. Yet there’s no escaping the wilderness they’ve returned from. The torn trees of Rossen’s upstate retreats, the cool loneliness of Droste’s refrains, the ancient punch of Bear’s drums or the lysergic majesty of Taylor’s production. Grizzly Bear have always sung from strange frontiers. Perhaps it’s taken until now for America to catch up. Painted Ruins is released 18 August via RCA Grizzly Bear appear at: Albert Hall, Manchester / O2 Academy Brixton 6 / 9 October
Words: Angus Harrison Photography: Grace Pickering
of the past decade. He sings with a weathered flatness; a quality that could touch on cold if he didn’t, regularly, sound genuinely hurt.
ioR z e r Pe
P r ez Roi Perez Roi se sek him a sel f ma kes himself m oh t a e a t m o h hom t a e m e at ho MUSIC
It's a piece of Piotr Nathan's Rituals of Appearance, a black-and-white mural depicting an epic storm. Stretching across the wall of the Berlin club’s entrance, it used to provide the backdrop to worn out club-goers, with sweat from the bodies of those leaning against it slowly eroding some of its details over the years. When it was dismantled and sold in fragments in March, the entire work sold out in minutes. That it was snapped up so quickly makes sense – it's an artefact of cult club culture practically alive with what it has witnessed over the years. Perez's piece, as he happily tells me, arrived complete with gum and puke. Just as the work used to embellish the club, Perez too has become part of its furnishings. The Israeli-born DJ is causing a buzz as Panorama Bar's latest resident. Having DJd there regularly since 2015, Perez describes the process of becoming a resident as “organic”. When you watch Perez play, he looks at ease in a booth that can sometimes see DJs freeze up a little under the pressure.
Propped up against a wall in Roi Perez's apartment, a jet-black slab of tile sits harshly against the warmly retro décor. The otherwise unassuming square is one piece of a vast puzzle, a panel of an 82-foot wide mural that previously adorned the entrance to Berghain.
He’s become known for his timestretching, eclectic sets, careening through jacking house, cosmic techno, lustful disco, thick, muggy breakbeat and more. If I were to pick one element that ties his selections together, it would be a mesmerising, seductive pulse. “For me a dancefloor is very often seductive and hypnotic,” Perez tells me over coffee and stroopwafels, “this is the feeling I like as a dancer, so it's possible that I'm trying to create it in my sets.” Roi Perez grew up in Ashkelon, a rural area in Southern Israel. As soon as he was old enough to drive he would head out to “gay raves”, which would make a lasting impression. “It was pretty intense and all over the place, very dark, and I would just lose myself there,” he remembers. “We are talking about 17-year-old me, during the years in which I discovered my sexuality. It wasn't music that I would listen to today, but it was more about the opportunity to just be gay and be part of a greater community. I absorbed the energy around it, I could feel it.” When Perez eventually moved to Tel Aviv, the people he met there opened his eyes to queer clubbing's vibrant soundtrack. “Being in Tel Aviv was much more free,” he tells me. Indeed, today Tel Aviv is known for its thriving queer party scene with loose, receptive crowds and clubs like The
“I knew that I wanted to play Panorama Bar because absorbing this culture was so meaningful to me. It’s beautiful”
Words: Anna Tehabsim Photography: Sylvie Weber
038 Block which act as a haven from the wider politics in the city. When Perez arrived in 2005, one party in particular caught his attention. A legendary night in Tel Aviv, Perez cites PAG as having a special atmosphere. “It was super fabulous, costumes all around the place, confetti guns, smoke, darkness, all kinds of crazy stage performances, like something you would see at [Glastonbury venue] NYC Downlow.” Bringing international DJs to the city before it was the 'done thing', PAG sparked Tel Aviv's thriving underground electronic music scene. After getting his first residency at PAG, Perez began to make a name for himself as a DJ. Then, after travelling across the US and Scandinavia for six months in 2013, Berlin was the last stop on his itinerary. Unexpectedly, the city would take a hold of him. Once he arrived, he didn't want to leave. Perez decided to stay and began playing small bars and clubs as well as gay nightlife institution Schwuz. It was an invitation to play with nd_Baumecker at Berghain's Snax party that sparked Perez's ongoing relationship with Panorama Bar.
He may be a familiar face now, but Roi Perez’s introduction to Berghain's upstairs room was decidedly unexpected. While most DJs will anticipate their set at the club a month or two in advance, Perez was called upon last minute for his first closing slot at Panorama Bar with a few hours' notice, to patch a hole in the schedule. A fresh face on the scene and relatively new to Berlin, Perez rushed to pack every single record he owned in the city before taking it on. It sounds like he was suitably armed, as his set would unfurl across ten hours, providing plenty of hair-raising moments along the way. “It was magical, I was just dreaming, playing, it was super nice,” he remembers. “It was the same
amazing feeling I had when I would go dancing there, but much more intense. I knew that I wanted to play there because absorbing this culture was so meaningful to me. It was beautiful.” Today, Perez proudly holds his PBar residency alongside a handful of others. As well as an expanding touring schedule that includes regular homecoming slots at The Block, his residencies include Mtkvarze club in Tbilisi, where it's a pleasure to play for “such a dedicated crowd”, and at the new Blitz Club in Munich – which he describes as “an amazing spaceship of sound”. Perez also sifts through hundreds of records each week to handpick the selection at the small Berlin branch of London's Phonica records. For his own collection, he tells me he's constantly inspired by finding under-the-radar house music which sounds classic. Just as the Rituals mural set a certain tone in Berghain, for Roi Perez his DJ sets are a means of expression, something to be felt and absorbed. “I often hear, from friends and people in general, that you can sense certain moods throughout my sets, as if it was my own mood.” He continues, “At my residencies, I like the feeling that I can explore new tunes every time with a familiar crowd and friends. It gives me a lot and I’m grateful for this opportunity.” After years of being nourished by the intoxicating atmospheres of club culture, now his sets are inviting others to get lost in the push and pull of the tide. Roi Perez appears at Simple Things festival, Bristol, 20-22 October
Words: Sammy Jones Photography: James Burgess
“Being angry, in my eyes, is a productive way of dealing with injustice”
“I was just like, ‘What the fuck is wrong with you? Get the fuck out of my face.’” Lead singer Tina Halladay is telling me about an incident when a stranger approached her after a show and started stroking her back. “He’d tried to add me on Facebook earlier that day. I was like, go fuck yourself. Then, he said something really weird – that he thought I wouldn’t be able to sing. I was blown away. Why would you think I wouldn't be able to sing?” There’s audible disgust in her voice. “Yeah, I look like I can't sing because fat people can't sing for some reason? I can't be talented or sexy or anything – I'm a fat chick, so I can't do shit right? Like, fuck you dude.” Tina is a force of nature. She delivers her soulful wail with raw punk energy, and the band have generated a cult following largely thanks to their live shows, which often see her throwing herself into the crowd, sweaty and still singing. Since forming in 2014, Sheer Mag have remained largely self-managed and continued to book their own gigs. And having released a trilogy of EPs, last month their profile increased considerably with the release of their debut album Need to Feel Your Love. Much of the appeal of Sheer Mag comes from how classic rock and punk collide in their sound, look and message. When riffs that could have been ripped straight from Thin Lizzy provide a powerful backing for Tina’s insistent punk polemics, traditional American rock tropes are cleverly subverted by resolutely left-wing
lyrics. Need To Feel Your Love’s heavy metal-influenced opener Meet Me In The Street sees the band “throwing rocks at the boys in blue” in protest of Donald Trump’s inauguration, while the strutting single Suffer Me is about the Stonewall riots of 1969. The album ends with jangly sing-a-long (Say Goodbye to) Sophie Scholl, which pays tribute to the young German woman who was beheaded for handing out anti-Nazi pamphlets. Tina recognises a comparison between the Nazi Germany which Scholl protested and the rising tides of nationalism today. “Donald Trump is just a fraction away from being a fascist,” she argues. “When I was in Berlin I went to a Holocaust museum and learned about the Nazi Party's rise to power. I was listening to the speeches and I just started fucking crying. I couldn't handle it any more. Trump’s speeches sound the same.” Tina and guitarist Matt Palmer write Sheer Mag’s songs together. “He is one of my best friends so he knows what’s going on in my personal life,” Tina says of their creative process. “A lot of those songs are about me and my experiences. With the political songs, it’s [Matt] researching things that he’s read about and writing from even a farther away perspective than mine.” Tina’s personal outlook, she explains, is pinned down by her upbringing. “I'm from a single parent household, and I was on welfare when I was younger,” she remembers. “We were the poorest family and people looked down on us. My mom was on food stamps for some months, and it was so shameful for her to use them. It would be different if it was some rich, white dude singing about this shit.” And, she tells me, it’s not rich white dudes she wants to play shows for either. “Fucking old white dudes, standing in front of the crowd, getting mad at people for dancing!” she recounts in horror. “It happened in San
Diego and I flipped out - I was like, get in the fucking back of the room! I just screamed at them. Then these kids took their spot up front and danced. They looked so happy.” You’ll realise by now that Tina Halladay isn’t your average bandleader – fat, feminist and utterly unapologetic, the only other comparable music artist around right now is Beth Ditto. As a result, other kids who don’t quite fit the mould see themselves shimmering back in Tina’s tough, tight performances. Does she feel intimidated by the idea of being a role model? “I see how people can feel that way, but I don't really feel that way a lot of the time,” she responds. “Maybe sometimes. I'm up for the challenge I guess, and I know I can handle it. That's like the least of my worries right now. I've got lots of stupid shit to worry about.” Can she use those worries as fuel for her fierce presence onstage? “In my mind, being angry is more productive than being sad, especially after the election,” she muses. “Being angry, in my eyes, is a productive way of dealing with injustice. I don't know what I would do if I wasn't singing and dealing with my emotions in that way. I would probably freak out way more than I do. It's really cathartic… A lot of women especially, say that I inspire them and that's a really amazing thing. That alone is worth everything. All the work is totally justified by even one person.”
In a world where even the high street is cashing in on faux politics, Sheer Mag represent something realer and more resilient, and Tina Halladay is the distillation of that determined spirit. It feels good to have her on our side. Need to Feel Your Love is out now via Wilsuns RC
Turn up to a Sheer Mag gig and you might find yourself in the middle of a moshpit, floating at the back of the venue or screaming along to every lyric against the barrier. As long as you’re safe and you’re having a good time, Sheer Mag don’t care. But as much as the Philadelphia band strive to create a welcoming experience, their carefully constructed bubble of inclusivity sometimes comes under threat.
Produced exclusively for Crack Magazine by Maximillian Malone - Instagram.com/maximillian.malone
Words: Gwyn Thomas de Croustchoff Photography: Ben Price
The Soundcloud documentary ignored the black presence in the once slavetrade financed city, the Caribbean identity which produced decades of soundsystem culture, from jungle and trip-hop to dubstep and grime. For Omar McCutcheon, publicly known as Batu, “It’s a waste of energy to get angry at that kind of thing, as if it's surprising, ignorant people coming into a vibrant scene and trying to cash in. They will get bored and go back to London and the same people with real passion will be left doing their thing.” Still in his early twenties, McCutcheon is the rhythm scientist at the centre of the Timedance label – Bristol's latest surge of musical innovation – and he's one of those aforementioned people with real passion. As Batu, and along with a close circle of young friends including producers Bruce, Ploy and Lurka, McCutcheon makes bass-driven and hypnotic dance music defined by head-spinning polyrhythms, detailed textures and surreal synthesis. In June, I experienced his brand of devastating broken-beat techno on a deep, heavy speaker stack at a Timedance night in the darkness of the decommissioned police cells beneath Bristol city centre. At the end of McCutcheon's set, the lights shone on the bare backs of dancers.
A few days later, I meet with McCutcheon over bowls of rice and spicy tofu, and we chat for a couple of hours about the lack of rules that drives his work forward. McCutcheon is a quiet, thoughtful guy who chooses his words carefully. Growing up as a black youth on a council estate in an exceptionally white and affluent part of Oxfordshire, he'd long felt a kind of “disassociation” with his surroundings. When his uncle introduced him to dubstep as a teenager, the sound spoke to him deeply. During eyeopening visits to raves in Brighton, and connecting with the scene online through the Dubstepforum.com website, this new world gradually eclipsed everything. He describes it as a “moment of realisation that there's other things that you can identify with or define yourself with on a higher level, which is more... more you actually.” Having found a musical language that he innately understood, McCutcheon quickly began creating. Playing music in bands with friends had always felt too compromising. “There's something inherently anthemic about pop music” he says with a hint of disdain, “it’s all set up to be sung in a fucking karaoke bar, do you know what I mean? There's nothing weird. That doesn't resonate with me that much.” On Marius, the latest Batu record for Hessle Audio, indistinct sounds cluster and shuffle in a weird zone that feels unfamiliar but fills you with an insistent urge to move. “I do a lot of jamming with software,” he explains of his creative process, “taking one sample and looping it for ten minutes and just playing with different controls.” By breaking the rules, and using things in
Troubled streaming platform Soundcloud recently released a documentary apparently showcasing the Bristol club scene. Portraying the city's music culture as dominated exclusively by white, middle-class promoters of throwback deep house and disco for student crowds, the video provoked both ridicule and anger. It was swiftly removed from the internet.
“Dance music is where you're touching people the most. Those times on a dancefloor where you hear something new, captivating, and imaginative – and you lose your mind” peers, the project has launched from its moorings, favoured by everyone from Ben UFO to Mary Anne Hobbes, taking over Boiler Room alongside Bloc, described as “all-conquering” by the Quietus, featured as “A New UK Techno Sound” in Mixmag and ranked #8 in Resident Advisor’s ‘Top 20 labels of 2016’ list. Listen to Lurka's bolshy riddims, Laksa's loose shuffle and Batu's own warped, smothered beats and you could find a common ground in the label's output – a particularly agile form of dubstepschooled, soundsystem techno in the vein of the other Bristol project, Peverelist's Livity Sound. “They've massively influenced what I do,” says McCutcheon; “having something distinctly UK that wasn't pastiche, and equally had this new influence, techno, being part of the sound… but I feel there's more space to be explored.”
the 'wrong' way, McCutcheon learnt to create an uncanny version of reality, pushing things into abstraction until the noise somehow begins to mimic sounds we think of as 'natural'. “It might subconsciously remind you of, like, a bird squawking. They can be as alien as you want them to be, but if they're tied into a familiarity, then they actually have a lot more weight to them.”
In fact, Timedance defiantly resists categorisation, particularly when you pay attention to Bruce's postmodern sonic visions and Ploy's immersive, tribal grooves. Perhaps the common thread is found in the rhythm mechanics – the way the bass speaks to the beats, and the spaces in between. McCutcheon still finds inspiration in the way Kode9 defined dubstep in 2006: “a solid sub-bass foundation … anything goes on top.
By the time he settled in Bristol, finishing his university music technology course, McCutcheon had already had his music released by visionary elder locals like Peverelist and Pinch. But he was still discovering new barriers to break down as he met others doing things their own way. Alex Digard and Dan Davies (aka Ossia) were key figures, running labels, printing zines and pushing forward in the Bristol underground. Inspired by their resolutely DIY methods, the process was demystified; McCutcheon “realised it was all doable” and created Timedance.
“Having that influence from dub in terms of using space and bass, and stripping things back… but apart from that, there's a lot of room to manoeuvre really.” The nights are equally unpredictable, with a diverse crowd – when I visited there was a coterie of dreadlocked Hispanic ravers among the students, techno heads and local DJs, including Peverelist himself. The idea is simple – focusing on a big soundsystem and a lack of distractions. A recent instalment featuring Freerotation cofounder Steevio saw the silver-dreaded Welsh techno alchemist draw the normally rowdy crowd into a meditative state, or as McCutcheon describes it, “a psychedelic wormhole.”
A couple of years later, after releases by a close-knit crew of friends and
Though some of the headliners at their nights have included some of the
more esoteric ends of the spectrum – experimentalists like Beatrice Dillon and Giant Swan – Timedance will never stray too far from body music. “Dance music's where you're actually touching people the most,” McCutcheon asserts; “those times on a dancefloor where you hear something new, and captivating, and interesting, and imaginative, and you lose your mind... that creates beautiful moments, you know?” The restaurant we’re sat in closes, so we continue talking as we walk through the dusk-sinking park, with wheeling seagulls making wild, gutteral sounds above us. McCutcheon tells me his aim is to share these heady experiences of musical inspiration with the younger generation, because, in his words, “that's how this shit moves.” “There's so many 'dusty' house tracks – where nothing's different to what was being made 20 years ago,” he continues. “I think familiarity's probably what you gravitate towards when you're not really sure what's going on with the world, you're not sure what's going on with your life, you know?” Omar McCutcheon is railing against the “systematic abuse” of our politics, and capitalism's relentless infestation of the underground, but he finds optimism in the changes taking place now, and younger people's newfound political engagement. “Most people who are going out have grown up in this era of ‘safe’, ‘fun’ neoliberalism,” he argues. “We’re seeing how the rules are changing because of that bubble being burst. Often there's not enough benefit of the doubt given to the audience. People surprise you, man.” Batu appears at No Bounds Festival, Sheffield, 13-15 October
Button-up Knit: Our Legacy Tracksuit Bottoms: Supreme x Lacoste
Words: Augustin Macellari Photography: Theo Cottle Photographer's Assistant: Alex Kurunis Styling: LAW mag
A few weeks before our interview, I bump into Goldie by chance on the corner of London’s Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road. It’s hot, and Goldie is wearing a white t-shirt, a chain with gold bird pendant and a snapback. His teeth are shiny. You’d expect him to be unmistakable in real life, and he is, but I still look twice, making sure it’s him as he picks up a copy of The Evening Standard. It’s always strange seeing famous people on the street, and spotting Goldie – a cultural icon, one of the defining voices of drum 'n' bass, an influential graffiti artist and one-time Bond villain – is no exception. He nonetheless blends right in, absorbed into the biomass of disgruntlement that is central London at the rush hour.
I introduce myself, and we walk into Tottenham Court Road station together, down to the Northern Line. He doesn’t live in London or even in the UK any more; he lives in Thailand with his family. He describes a paradise, criticism of the UK implicit in his tone as he glares down the escalator. His daughter apparently goes to school in a forest where she learns maths, barefoot. I try to bring up Thailand’s fairly deplorable human rights record and insane lesemajesty laws, but he brushes both subjects off.
Goldie’s life and career have each followed an idiosyncratic trajectory. From a childhood in care, to adolescence at the vanguard of the early graffiti and b-boy movements, to clubbing with Bowie, to dancing on Strictly…, to an MBE; he has occupied every position possible from the cultural margins to the heart of the establishment. This journey doesn’t come without baggage, and so it isn’t surprising to hear Goldie describe the importance of fashion as a kind of social shield. “One thing that has always reverberated around my head,” he tells me during our interview, “I’ll always remember an old black man saying to me once: ‘It doesn’t matter how much money you’ve got in your pocket. No one’s ever going to know if you’re rich or poor as long as you look fucking sharp, and you’ve got a suit, and you’ve got a kerchief in your pocket.” While he may be enjoying life in Thailand, Goldie also acknowledges a debt to the UK’s capacity to both accept and facilitate cultural transformations. He references early b-boy culture, and Bristol’s Wild Bunch soundsystem collective – which included members of Massive Attack and Tricky before their fame – not just for their musical influence but also their fashion, their capacity to fuse
discordant elements into a cohesive and stylish whole. “I think there’s a lot to do with b-boy culture that’s really put fashion on the map in that sense, do you know what I mean?” Goldie says. “You’re reading about DJ Milo and those guys, and they’re all wearing designer trousers, with a fucking baseball jacket, with a Mercedes fucking sign. 3D [Massive Attack’s Robert Del Naja] walking around with fireman’s clips from a jacket, threaded through his fucking laces.” As Goldie tells it, the same environment that facilitated these transformations also enabled a deeply productive cross-pollination in music. “England is obviously a massive hope for cultivating cross-bred fashion in terms of cross-bred music,” he continues. “Namely drum ’n' bass music, which is cross-bred between rave culture and breakbeat.” Goldie often refers to himself as an “alchemist,” or even “director” with respect to his music. The disciplines he operates within – graffiti, drum 'n' bass, even breakdancing – can all be characterised by their complexity; the sophistication with which myriad elements are brought together into a harmonious whole. His directorship lies in his ability to weave these disparate
elements together; to offset, for example, a skittish breakbeat against melody. His alchemy becomes clear in the interplay of these elements, the rhizomatic, crystalline expansion of his musical palette that made his first album, 1996’s Timeless, and which blossoms forth again on his recent LP, The Journey Man. In conversation, Goldie often slips into a kind of easy self-aggrandisement, which doesn’t come across as arrogant, so much as a fairly honest reflection of the facts of his achievements. He is proud of his new album, for example, but in quite a practical way. He views it as the pinnacle of a career’s exploration of a certain palette of sounds. With this self-assurance, then, it makes sense that now, in Thailand, he seems to be less fussed by the old black man’s valued advice. “I’ve almost inverted on what fashion is now,” he explains. “For me, that’s letting it all go – wearing a pair of joggers and fucking flip flops and a white tee. Not wearing the gold is a really big statement for me, because it’s almost like I’ve achieved gold.” Goldie appears at Ableton Loop, Funkhaus Berlin, 10-12 November
Tracksuit Top: Supreme x Lacoste
Flannel Polo: Our Legacy Trousers: Our Legacy Trainers: Adidas Spezial
052 Tracksuit Top: Vintage Adidas from Too Hot Limited
057 Words: Niloufar Haidari Photography: Elise Rose
How are changing the face of London's queer club scene
“Visibility is everything. It means that people are able to see themselves in spaces that they’ve usually been alienated from”
“We did the first one at Buster Mantis in Deptford, got a load of friends on board, and the rest is history.” Film-maker Tia Simon-Campbell, one half of the BBZ collective, is musing on how she cofounded the night which is shaking up London’s queer club scene. The other half of the power couple is photographer Nadine Davis. And despite the fact that BBZ has only been around for just over a year, Tia and Nadine already have an impressive list of collaborations under their belt, including events with gal-dem, Born N Bread and Pussy Palace, Peckhambased radio station Balamii, and an exhibition at the V&A. At its core, BBZ is an inclusive place for lifting up women and femaleidentifying people of colour. “It’s about creating a brave space for that particular community to embrace each other, embrace themselves, and to help build in many different respects,” says Tia, “whether that be creatively or emotionally. To have other people to talk to who will understand your experiences… But also just to have a good time!” Inspired by Nadine’s visit to renowned San Francisco queer night Swagger Like Us, the girls sought to create a similar experience in their hometown of London. “It was a period where we were both feeling quite low and also ready to just find our community. I didn’t feel like I belonged to a community, and I suppose that without even realising it that’s what we were doing with creating BBZ. It was a bit of a selfish project to start off with to be honest, we just wanted to make our own friends!”
Some might argue that concepts such as representation and diversity have become buzzwords in the mainstream over the last couple of
years, with corporations and major institutions attempting to favourably align themselves with the increasing awareness around the spectrums of race, culture and queerness. Although they are both wary of the possibility of this new interest being little more than a fad or marketing tactic, both members of BBZ believe that, overall, it’s a positive phenomenon. “Visibility is everything,” argues Tia. “It means that people are able to see themselves in a space where they would never normally see themselves, in spaces that they’ve usually been alienated [from].” Nadine agrees, “It feels like the beginning of the call out, people are constantly evolving and realising where they’re going wrong. For my trans friends, my differently-abled friends, my female-identifying friends, I feel there’s more room to take up and more confidence in taking up that space. I definitely feel nights like BBZ have helped steer the conversation, or just bring it up in the first place. The conversation is the answer a lot of the time.” As we talk, the girls are preparing for their Afropunk London installation, which they describe as a “nostalgic nod to the Black British teenage experience”. The project, entitled My Yard, comprised of three rooms representing different versions or phases of this experience: woke, road and punk. Think Erykah Badu and Maya Angelou, 2003 grime and Channel U, X-Ray Spex and Nina Simone. Each room features a BBZ TV indicative of its respective vibe, because a feature of every BBZ party that is “a re-imagining of television as what we would like it to be with ourselves being actually seen and heard and visible”, alongside works from artists such as Adama Jalloh, Rochelle White, Leala-Rain Shonaiya, and fellow collective Black in the Day.
“We’re trying to really build on it being a collective, interactive experience so people can just chill and cotch. When you’re an immigrant you end up creating your own home, and you create home within community, and we’re exploring that idea. When we go ‘back home’, i.e. to the Caribbean or Africa, we don’t quite fit in, and also when we’re in the UK we don’t fit in. It’s important to recognise that Black British people have created their own culture.” Earlier this summer, Pride weekend saw Tia and Nadine host a BBZ x Balamii party at Corsica Studios played by DJs such as Ikonika and Throwing Shade, a party that they describe as an “unintentional” Pride event – “we’re not Anti-Pride, but the Pride that we know in Soho isn’t really for us. If you’re a queer woman of colour, or even a woman, or even someone that doesn’t define themselves as male or female there isn’t necessarily a place for you,” they explain. As for the future, they want to take a break from big events and go back to focusing on “house party vibes” at their own club nights, along with preparing for a week-long exhibition at the Tate Modern in December. Despite plans for events overseas and expanding the night outside of London, it’s clear that community is at the centre of all that BBZ does. “Everything starts with the community. Without the community we are nothing. It’s all about building together, so that we’re all stronger and elevate together.” facebook.com/bbzlondon
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LOVE INTERNATIONAL Tisno, Croatia 29 June - 6 July
a smooth transition between various luxurious atmospheres across its week-long stretch. The site’s three stages are intimate: the main stage, the olive grove, and a beach stage on a platform teetering on the sea. Daily boat parties board at the beach, and you can hop from here to the open air club Barbarella’s on a speedboat taxi – if you’re feeling fancy. Love International is built on the legacy of the pioneering Croatian festival Garden, springing up in its place in 2016 after the event’s tenth and final year. We arrive on Thursday to catch New York legend Tony Humphries dishing out blissful, vocal-led house on the main stage. On Friday, festival favourites Khruangbin perform their drifting, slow-motion funk under a small pavilion on the beach, drawing a loyal crowd. Boat parties traditionally create the most raucous fun and on the Crack Magazine boat party
that follows, Honey Soundsystem’s Jackie House and Jason Kendig serve us slamming acid alongside obscure and cult synth wave, whipping up an intense atmosphere amongst the strong winds at sea. Love International’s line-up is full of DJs who take pride in returning year-on-year. One of these hotly anticipated repeat performances was a back-toback from Craig Richards and Ben UFO at Barberella’s, which is said to be a festival highlight last year. Ben offers the crowd some oddball bangers like Objekt’s Theme From Q, but for the most part him and Richards find their groove at a satisfying sweet spot somewhere in the middle of their respective styles, and it sounds like nothing I’ve heard from them independently before. Afterwards, we hustle a taxi back to the site (the post-Barbarella’s fallout seemed to be the only logistical failure, with uncertainty
about coach pick-ups creating a chaotic swarm for taxis at daybreak), where Craig Richards and Gideön play rare reggae and dub at the sunrise session. The site’s beach stage is like Barbarella’s little sister, and it’s here that many of the onsite parties hit their climax. On Saturday morning the stage reaches peak energy during Palms Trax’s glorious set of vibrant Italo alongside cult anthems like Depeche Mode’s Enjoy The Silence and Space’s Magic Fly. As we get our bearings on the beach the next day, Jazzanova keep the daytime crowd happy with anthems from Chaka Chan, Prince and Womack & Womack (as well as a cringe-inducing remix of This Charming Man). Another highlight at the stage is Honey Dijon, who ventures into tougher sounds layered with soaring diva-led vocals. At this point I spot Michael, the festival’s unofficial mascot, a radiant danc-
er who embodies its free-spirited nature. A rave lifer strapped into lycra, he can be found thrusting his rainbow flag into the air and generally spreading gleeful abandon wherever he pops up. Seeing Michael can confirm you picked the right spot, but he’s just about to leave this one. A group of dancers are on a wooden jetty, separated from the stage by a small stretch of sea. They twirl and leap across the platform, illuminating themselves with their phone lights between throwing it down. Michael sets his sights on them, clambering through the water to drive their makeshift dancefloor further into a frenzy, slipping freely, joyfully, from one party to the next. ! Anna Tehabsim N Khris Cowley / Daisy Denham / Carys Huws
If you’re used to spending postclub hours in sweaty flats, a sunrise session at Love International is a ridiculous way to sit out an all-nighter. The festival site is nestled into a stretch of Croatia’s Dalmatian coastline, and these very early morning DJ sets take place on the water’s edge. In a tight nook on the beachfront, bleary eyed revellers fresh from offsite club Barbarella’s sprawl out amongst the stone and trees. While squinting into the sea’s gleaming, hi-def splendour, you view the festival in a new light. The previous evening, the adjoining beach stage was heaving. In a few hours the daytime crowd will fill out the beach, baking off their hangovers on inflatables to a gentler soundtrack of breezy house and soul. This laid-back, seamless cohesion is what Love International is all about. The festival is mostly hassle-free, offering
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PITCH FESTIVAL NDSM Amsterdam 1 July
As is typical of most European seaside resorts, there is a certain ‘kitsch’ pleasure in the novelty of partying on a seafront. Neversea, a new threenight festival located on the Romanian shores of Constanta, sells itself as an ‘international celebration of music, lifestyle and seaside adventure’. It feels a bit like a Black Sea rendition of Butlins. Upon entering, we are greeted by a mob of beautiful girls who are more than happy to tell us about the festival’s sponsors: a Faustian devil’s pact that constitutes exchanging your contact details for a pack of premium cigarettes. Feeling pretty uncomfortable, we head towards the Summerhouse stage. The stage’s line-up is everything a keen dance music aficionado can hope for, with sets from Dekmantel Soundsystem, Hunee, DJ Sprinkles and Far East Recordings’ Soichi Terada, to name a few. But the crowd is strikingly sparse. The majority of punters, it seems, are watching Tiesto, whose generic dance music feels trapped in 1998. Turn-of-the-century EDM blares violently against strobe of flashing lights. We walk back to Summerhouse, where Soichi Terada is playing a two-hour set. Much like Sprinkles’ set, the crowd is near empty, but those who are there are charmed by Terada’s warmth and gusto. Neversea is only in its first year and, as such, is expected to have growing pains. And for a festival that sells itself on magical experiences and mystic hedonism, in its current state Neversea is comparatively disenchanting. ! Gunseli Yalcinkaya N Calin Ilea
! Jack Dolan N Ilyas Gun
NOS ALIVE Passeio Maritimo de Alges, Lisbon 6 - 8 July
AFROPUNK Printworks, London 22-23 July Originally inspired by the eponymous documentary which details the experiences of African Americans involved in the punk movement, Afropunk festival is predominantly aimed at people of colour, Having first taken place in Brooklyn in 2005, it has since expanded to LA, Atlanta, Paris, Johannesburg and most recently the UK capital. Alexandra Palace, the venue for last year’s Afropunk London venue, was traded in this year for Printworks — the city’s much-discussed new 6000 capacity venue in the heart of Surrey Quays. The space seemed an appropriate choice: what better way to signify that London’s nightlife and positive attitudes towards multiculturalism are still thriving? Despite the bleak sky hanging overhead, the procession towards the entrance was rife with a composition of colours that you’d usually only expect to see at Notting Hill Carnival. There were many festival-goers in reconstituted traditional dress, as vibrant braids trailed down backs and ornate beaded jewellery hung from necks — for once, afro curls didn't feel like the anomalous aesthetic. Inside, the SpinThrift market was in full swing. To browse stalls dedicated to books written by black authors, dresses made by women of colour and an art-focused pop-up from the gal-dem zine, was nothing short of inspiring. However, it felt somewhat bittersweet as it served as a reminder of the dwindling state of Brixton Market in the face of gentrification. On a more uplifting note, queer WOC collective BBZ also hosted an installation in conjunction with i-D magazine. Makeshift teenage bedrooms decorated with posters of Erykah Badu and 90s-style inflatable chairs offered a Black British trip down memory lane. Those not preoccupied with the additional activities flocked upstairs to see Nadia Rose. Unapologetically, she ripped through attitude-rich anthems such as 2H2H and Tight Up. In a testament to her brazen nature, she even attempted to dupe the audience by announcing her departure without performing her hit song Sqwod. JME caused a riotous mosh pit with his banger Man Don’t Care, also encouraging the audience to listen to his brother Skepta’s album Konnichiwa. Saturday night ended on a mellow note thanks to Odd Future alumni The Internet. Opening with Special Affair, the neo-soul outfit sent waves of their signature Californian coolness cascading over the audience. Due to switching from his Saturday slot to Sunday, Thundercat caused quite a stir, as many flocked to the Facebook event page in a desperate attempt to trade their tickets in order to see him. The frequent Flying Lotus collaborator proved his musical prowess as he reached for high vocal note while seamlessly commanding his six-stringed bass guitar. On the other stage, Willow Smith surprised many with an affecting display. At just 16-year-old, she drew upon her experiences to deliver soul-stirring lyrics and advised audience members to "Never put anything before your emotional wellbeing.” It doesn’t take a shrewd disposition to notice the current state of race relations on a global scale. In the last year in Britain alone, the news has been rife with Post-Brexit discourse and the fallout of the tragic Grenfell Tower incident. In such tempestuous times, a festival like Afropunk stands as a bastion of human compassion – an inclusionary space where black people can both flourish and feel at home. Although it’s still a relatively new addition to the London festival roster, it’ll hopefully have a place in one of the most multicultural cities in the world for years to come. ! Lakeisha Goedluck N Chazz Adnitt
Lisbon is currently making a strong case for leading the pack among the hordes of millennials across Europe wanting to escape their greyer surroundings. The Portuguese coastal capital boasts affordable rent, cheap travel, distinctly warmer climes, world-famous custard tarts (special shouts to Pasteis de Belem) and, with NOS Alive, they even have a glamping festival area for dogs – a worldwide first. NOS Alive is known for bringing in the huge names, and The Weeknd’s headline slot didn’t disappoint. Dressed in a white camouflage jacket and surrounded by bellowing flumes of smoke, Abel Tesfaye looked born for the big occasion as he prowled the stage with his band elevated ten metres behind him. If indie music is your thing then it would be impossible to find yourself at a loose end at NOS Alive. Friday’s run of previous Crack Magazine cover stars Savages and Warpaint alongside Wild Beasts was a particularly strong run of programming. Savages’ unrelenting live show remains a powerful experience, with Jehnny Beth naturally spending as much time in the crowd than on the stage. After selling out in record time this year, the status of NOS Alive looks fairly unshakeable. Perhaps it’s the bedrock of sponsors or maybe it’s the yearly combination of behemoth bookings in one of the continent’s most exciting cities. We capped off the weekend by retiring to a nearby Heineken Bar – enjoying one last cold one and entertaining fantasies of one day moving to Lisbon. ! Jake Applebee N NOS Alive / Arlindo Camacho
NEVERSE A Constanta, Romania 7-9 July
For its seventh edition, Pitch festival made some unlikely changes. Essentially the operation downsized considerably; moving across the water to the NDSM docklands, cutting down to one day instead of two and – most crucially – booking a smaller list of artists. But Pitch’s mission statement stayed the same; exploring the space between electronic music and the live experience. Orlando Julius and the Heliocentrics was a clear standout and an inspired early booking on the main stage, with their infectious afrobeat rhythms and overwhelmingly chirpy spirit earning them the first big crowd of the day. Mount Kimbie brought the sun out after a grey start and shortly after in the PIP Den Haag tent, things started getting pretty hot and sweaty indeed. A no show from Funkineven was filled by Thomas Martojo (one half of Dekmantel Soundsystem) who delivered a wild mix ranging from thumping tracks like Syclops’ Jump Bugs to the euphoric gospel of Twinkie Clark’s O Zion. Actress’s set was met with surprisingly subdued reception. Perhaps the leftfield producer’s aesthetic – which brings to mind a rusty, dystopian metropolis – just didn’t fit the Amsterdam sunset backdrop. As darkness fell, Evian Christ came with some punishingly fast trap-techno hybrid business and some seriously abrasive strobe lighting. Pitch occupies a lane of its own in Amsterdam, offering a wide spectrum of musical treats with just enough throughline to give it a clear identity. You would think there would be plenty of appetite for what it offers and while, in a way, it is a shame the festival has had to downsize, it has resulted in a more succinct, focused and enjoyable festival for us punters.
SUMMER / AUTUMN ~ LIVE ~ 04.08
Rachel Foxx / 22.09
Swimming Girls /
Tom Figgins /
Mondo Cozmo /
Only Sun / 29.09
Sainte [Sold Out] /
J. Bernardt /
Rob Crow’s Gloomy Place /
Welshly Arms /
Avec Sans / 18.10
Coquin Migale /
Dark Rooms /
Ian Moss /
~ LATE ~ 04.08
Alt-Pop and Contemporary Sounds
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MELANIE DE BIASIO MON 16 OCT SCALA
ANDY SHAUF THURS 2 NOV ISLINGTON ASSEMBLY HALL PERFUME GENIUS SUN 5 NOV ROUNDHOUSE
KAITLYN AURELIA SMITH TUES 21 NOV SCALA CURTIS HARDING WED 29 NOV SCALA LORD HURON TUES 23 JAN O2 SHEPHERD’S BUSH EMPIRE PARALLELLINESPROMOTIONS.COM
House, garage, bashment and everything inbetween
BROTHERHOOD SOUND A night of Bass Heavy Beats!
MELT! FESTIVAL Ferropolis, Germany 14-16 July
Situated on the mountainous slopes of Kobetamendi Hill, the easy-going nature of Bilbao BBK, combined with its efficiency, makes for an enjoyable experience – but don’t be mistaken in thinking that the festival is too mellow for some genuine excitement. While there were some lulls during Depeche Mode’s Friday night set, Dave Gahan was every bit a rock star frontman who reminded the audience why the synth pop veterans remain in high demand. That same evening Bristol punk five piece IDLES had galvanised a much smaller audience into a angry mosh pit. On the Sunday, South African rave-rap group Die Antwoord delivered a highoctane mainstage performance featuring neon dinosaur dancers and trippy visuals of revolving bananas and brains. And despite the deluge of rain that night, the Spanish crowd dug their heels in for Primal Scream. Seeing festival-goers through the later hours of the night was Basoa’s outdoor stage which, enshrouded by greenery, provided a strobe-heavy getaway of frenetic energy with DJs such as The Black Madonna, Dixon, Daphni and Andrew Weatherall. As people descended the slopes of Kobetamendi in the warm afterglow, it became clear that Bilbao BBK is a three-day event that unites rock fans and ravers to ascend the slopes to the peak for an isolated musical oasis that’s hidden from the city below.
! Vivian Yeung N Rock in Focus
LOVEBOX Victoria Park, London 14-15 July In a cloud of glitter and dust, Lovebox Festival descended upon East London’s Victoria Park for its 15th year. With 50,000 people in attendance, the festival had sold out thanks to the jaw-dropping bookings of Frank Ocean and Solange alongside reliable crowd-pleasers like Chase & Status, Jamie xx and Annie Mac. For those lucky enough to get a good glimpse in the packed-out tent for Solange’s set on Friday night, the atmosphere was charged with love, unity and mutual respect as she broke into empowerment anthem F.U.B.U. The song clearly holds great significance for the singer’s black fans who made up the bulk of the audience, with many of them raising their hands as she sang: "This shit is for us". By Saturday the same tent had flipped that vibe on its head. Birmingham rapper Mist instigated a mosh pit with the opening notes of his hit Karlas Back, but the crowd really lost it when he bought out longtime collaborator MoStack for their joint track Screw and Brew. To follow, XL Recording’s New Gen showcase presented a number of acts forming the vanguard of UK rap, grime and afrobeats. Belly Squad, South London drill group 67, DJ Kenny Allstar and more ensured that energy levels remained high. The highlight of the whole weekend, of course, was Frank Ocean, whose anxiously anticipated set was delayed by 25 minutes. When the elusive singer eventually emerged, sporting noise-cancelling headphones that blocked out the screams from around his small stage in the centre of the crowd, he looked dramatically isolated. While Frank’s voice was every bit as beautiful as it is on record, at times the set felt a little unpolished, with his small band occasionally slipping out of time and Spike Jonze providing shaky visuals on a handheld camera. Still, this was Ocean’s first London performance in four years and it was a beautiful, slightly confounding set that inspired a number of emotions, from sadness to euphoria. A few of the faces in the crowd could be seen shedding tears as they swayed along to Ocean’s voice, making a particular line from Self Control – “Some nights you dance with tears in your eyes” – resonate deeper than ever before. ! Hamda Issa-Salwe N Chloe Rosolek
THE PE ACOCK SOCIET Y Parc Floral de Paris 7-9 July There’s a sense of simplicity in The Peacock Society’s ethos. Situated deep in the Parc Floral de Paris – a public park and botanical garden on the outskirts of the metropolis – the nighttime festival ties local scenes with global underground pioneers in an understatedly beautiful setting. 25,000 punters spread across two warehouse stages, one clear-walled and basement-sized outdoor ‘Night-Club’, food stalls, bars, outdoor chill spots and a cinema space. It’s also a cashless festival, so in order to pay for that €8,50 beer you’re encouraged to pre-load a wristband with your cash for a contactless transaction. French rapper Kekra’s Friday evening set diversified this further; having forged his own distinct sound out of elements of grime, trap and garage, cuts like 9 Milli galvanised the crowd to chant every word back. Playing later at the petite and packed-out Night-Club area – curated by Parisian techno collective Blocaus – Marcel Dettmann’s barrelling, beat-driven, melody-free set knocked many in the crowd completely west. Saturday’s Resident Advisor takeover in the Squarehouse venue hosted the likes of Avalon Emerson, Midland and The Black Madonna. Acid and jungle flavours came to define many of the highlights of the stage, particularly when Emerson effortlessly mixed in the soulful chorus of The 5th Dimension’s 1969 hit Let The Sunshine In into a staggering break. Maybe there’s just something in the air at the Parc Floral which encouraged this equilibrium of both ease and energy with the crowd, that which clings to the sticky warmth of the summer nighttime. Pursuing a philosophy which shuns frills and gimmicks, and by prioritising the tightly bound elements of sound and setting, The Peacock Society stands a modest cut above the rest in Paris’ clubbing scene. ! Josie Roberts N Les Fistons
! Gwyn Thomas de Croustchoff N Huw Thomas de Chroustchoff
BILLBAO BBK LIVE Bilbao, Spain 6-8 July
Melt! festival got into my blood. I've been bitten by the bug. No, literally, a tick has latched onto my leg – stay out of the long grass around the campsite. It's a bit of a wilderness, even without this slice of wildlife. Visually, it's like a steampunk Jurassic park, with the vast, Meccano flanks of antiquated mining equipment ever hanging in the periphery. It’s as if you’re a Borrower and you’ve wandered onto the set of Robot Wars. There’s more to the location than this, though, like when Sunday dawn breaks through the dust kicked up at the never-ending Sleepless stage, rays refracting off the surface of the giant moat that is lake Gremmin, a submerged quarry that surrounds you. At RBMA's small compound, Friday is challenging and immersive – Ben Frost sounds like he’s smashing up icebergs in slow motion, Lorenzo Senni plays the same head-spinning loop for ever, and Egyptian Lover funks the shit out of us while slurring crude comeons into the mic. On Saturday the vibe is decadent – the feathered, majestic Kiddy Smile takes on ballroom and classic Chicago house with Parisian elegance, before the perfect cadence of a champagnesoaked show from Zebra Katz. This stage hosts great DJs too, Lil Silva being a highlight for bringing a clever and varied set of fizzy garage funk to wash down all the festival’s bread and butter techno. There are many concessions to those not satisfied by the free party techno this festival has its roots in. On the main live stages we see MIA stomping about like a soldier from the future in the dust-quenching rain, and South African duo Die Antwoord make the place erupt on the Sunday evening headline slot with earsplitting, bizarre EDM-rap. Whenever we wander into the dusty, ragged Sleepless zone though, we’re sent back into the chugging rhythm of this 360 degree dancefloor, laid out like an ancient burial ground – this place doesn’t stop, serious DJs selecting from Thursday until Monday afternoon. Melt is a trip.
09 07 21 SAVAGE Issa Album Slaughter Gang / Epic
It wouldn’t be wrong to call Daniel Lopatin, aka Oneohtrix Point Never, a maverick of heady sci-fi inspired electronica. Lopatin has created a strange world of sound with an inclination towards grotesque beauty. His revered 2015 album Garden of Delete was a scary, gloopy and glorious soundtrack to the narrative of a fictionalised humanoid called ‘Erza’ – a sort of soundtrack to our generation's struggle to adapt and immerse ourselves into the virtual civilisation of the internet. This time round, Lopatin was recruited by independent filmmaker brothers Josh and Benny Safdie to score their crime thriller Good Time, which stars Robert Pattinson and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Already, Lopatin’s score has been honoured with the prestigious Cannes Soundtrack Award, beating former Oscar nominee Jonny Greenwood to the title. Listen to the OST without the film, and Lopatin’s music still stands up as a spellbinding record. The opening title track progresses from brooding tectonic bass to celestial synths, with Tangerine Dream-esque arpeggios driving the suspense. Bail Bond’s fizzy drones build under jarring dramatic dialogue and sleazy riffs shred over a painfully brief amen break. Romance Apocalypse has a hook that would make the iconic Miami Vice composer Jan Hammer proud, propelling you into a trashy 80s crime world. The Pure and The Damned sees a weathered Iggy Pop gush with hopeless romanticism: “The pure always act from love/ The damned always act from love/ The truth is an act of love”. The striking sincerity and sombre sense of receding in Pop’s delivery moved me to tears. I can only imagine the harrowing emotion this record underscores.
WizKid’s newest release does what it says on the tin. It sees the Nigerian artist go far and wide with touches of dancehall, RnB, house and high profile collaborators like Diplo, Drake and Chris Brown. While the album was clearly made with an international audience in mind – Wizzy slips from Yoruba to English and back with ease on each track – English is the more dominant language throughout. However, it all makes sense considering the singer’s status as a global pop star. Over the past few years the Lagos lad has managed to transcend and breakout of any boxes that the media has attempted to put African artists in. Sounds From The Other Side is full of high energy tracks for the club. We learn how WizKid likes his Hennessy – “straight with no chaser” – and get a few clues about the health of his love life with amorous tracks like All For Love, which features South African star Bucie, whose voice is rich and smooth like honey as she sings of hearts filled with joy in her native tongue Xhosa over a bouncy beat. The collaborations generally work, with the Drake team-up Come Closer being an omnipresent lead single and Ty Dolla $ign providing longing melodies on the DJ Mustard produced Dirty Wine, made in the LA beatmaker's true handwriting. With the release being referred to officially as a new “project”, the fair amount of dispute on whether Sounds From The Other Side is an actual album or a mixtape is irrelevant. This record is just as good as a rose by any other name, and it serves as a project that'll likely go far to reinforce the original Starboy's international stardom.
Having rapidly earned the reputation of Atlanta’s hardest new rapper, last year 21 Savage teamed up with Metro Boomin for their pitch-perfect nine track project Savage Mode. Among his many accolades, Metro has become Future’s most trusted producer – and therefore a chief architect of the curious cultural phenomenon that is depressive turn-up music. The minimal and melancholic sound Metro tailored for Savage Mode cloaked 21’s murmured threats with sad ambience, suggesting pain behind the rapper’s dented shield of toxic masculinity. This time, the stakes are higher. The official album status is still a gesture that’s taken seriously in the hip-hop industry, while 21 Savage has become a minor celebrity due to his relationship with Amber Rose and the “Issa” meme (when asked what the cross tattoo on his forehead signifies in a video interview, 21 bluntly replied: “Issa knife”), which has inspired a ‘lifestyle brand’ and a Spotifycreated promotional website alongside this album’s title. Metro Boomin handles the bulk of Issa Album’s production, and the LP largely sticks to the formula of Savage Mode – albeit with extra musical decoration. The busier the beat, the more 21 Savage’s effortless vocal style is eclipsed, and his foray into RnB with the DJ Mustard-produced FaceTime is a straight up misfire. Issa Album doesn’t quite improve on a trademark sound, and there’s the nagging feeling that 21 Savage’s classic record is already behind him. But lyrically there are interesting diversions from stone-faced nihilism. 21’s disclaimer that he “ain't being political” on Nothin New turns to be a red herring before he flings out thoughtful rhymes fit for the wokest MCs ("Civil rights came so they flood the hood with coke/ Breakin' down my people, tryna kill our faith and hope”) and there’s pleasure to be found in the knowledge that, after all his troubles, 21 Savage is embracing the joy of being a successful musician: ”Used to jump niggas, now we jumping in a crowd/ Used to make my mama cry, but now I make her proud”.
! Aine Devaney
! Hamda Issa-Salwe
! Davy Reed
ONEOHTRIX POINT NEVER Good Time OST Warp
WIZKID Sounds From the Other Side Starboy / RCA Records
07 L ANA DEL REY Lust for Life Polydor / Interscope
Lana Del Rey is at a crossroads. For each of her four album covers, the artist has been pictured alongside an automobile, that great American symbol that purrs with ideas of power and freedom. These qualities wouldn’t have been lost on an artist who’s fine-tuned her own iconography by draping herself in a red, white and blue patchwork of mythologies – from Old Hollywood to Brooklyn hipsterism. But now, her beloved ‘murica has screwed her over as bad as any of those douchebags she was dating. In the lead up to this record, Lana Del Rey broke her embargo on politics by inviting fans to hex the incumbent Trump administration. In a recent Pitchfork profile she confessed she’d sooner stand in front of static than the American flag, and Lust For Life marks the moment that pop’s favourite sad girl turns her gaze to the bigger picture. “Is it the end of America?” she asks on When the World Kept Dancing, before the 32-year-old advises us to, “Lean into the fucking youth”. Of course, this being Lana Del Rey, the politics comes with a side order of high camp: God Bless America – and All the Beautiful Women In It is a Metro Boomin assisted torch song punctuated by guitar and gunshots. There’s developments elsewhere too; the production is again heady, perfumed and hip-hop informed, but this time the music’s decorated with a dressing up box of 60s and 70s references. Tomorrow Never Came features Sean Ono Lennon on a track that not only signposts The Beatles but crams in references to Bob Dylan and Elton John as well. There’s Phil Spectorish drums and motorcycle revs on The Weeknd featuring Lust For Life, a song so supersized only the lyric “Climb up the ‘H’ of the Hollywood sign” would do. The Malibu Gothic of Summer Bummer concedes to modernity by calling on Playboi Carti and ASAP Rocky, but where Carti’s adlibs are effective as part of the woozy production, ASAP Rocky’s on-thenose verse comes close to destroying the illusion. Stevie Nicks is a more natural fit, embellishing slow-burning ballad Beautiful People, Beautiful Problems with a grizzled grace. But really, this is an album that’s at its best when it rhymes personal ennui with an ache of the nation. On Coachella, Woodstock of My Mind Del Rey paints an image of her besides the main stage, her enjoyment of Father John Misty tempered by thoughts of global conflict. It’s hilarious, self parodical, but the metaphor is apt: hippie counterculture was, of course, the last time the US got its ideals smashed. Where once Lana Del Rey’s world was as small as the circumference of the muscular arms that encircled her, now it’s as big as the fears that rattle us all – and it’s this widening of her vision that makes Lust For Life her most compelling LP yet. Pop music, like the truck on the cover, is a means of escape, of empowerment. ”This is my commitment, my modern manifesto, I’m doing it for all of us,” runs the pre-chorus to the closer. It’s title? Get Free. Amen.
To date Blondes have been associated with RVNG Intl., a label that has provided a natural home for their adventurous style of hardware techno. Now, they’ve followed up 2015’s Persuasion EP with this full length, which sees them move from an experimental electronic environment to premier league techno temple R&S. It’s been stated that Warmth is an intentional move towards a more focused, immediate sound in line with the label Blondes now find themselves on, and viewed as a whole it does feel like the duo have been successful in that mission. There’s a whiff of the anthemic in Trust, while Tens sounds like it was built with big, dark rooms in mind. The melodic hooks and twinkling overtones on KDM could even reach as far as a festival stage, given the right push. While this subtle shift in direction may have edged some of the errant qualities out of Blondes’ music, the rich and dynamic approach to production remains. There’s a staggering amount of detail pounded into each track, and equal space afforded for subtlety too. In making that dicey break for the wider contemporary techno scene, Blondes have managed to keep the quality of their craft intact.
! Louise Brailey
! Oli Warwick
BLONDES Warmth R&S
07 06 ARCADE FIRE Ever y thing Now Columbia
Orbit is a bass-heavy cosmic trip that’s unafraid to spiral far off grid. It’s the third record – kind of – from old friends and long-term musical conspirators Sami Toroi (aka Long-Sam) and Jaakko Eino Kalevi, who first recorded together as teenagers. In 2001 they put out a free jazz 7” single, and reunited in 2012 for Amateurs de Vérité – a psych-folk album led by the bouncy but slightly grating single Plastic Bag. Individually, both musicians are known for eclectic electronic pop, and in this third wave collaboration it sounds as if they’ve finally found a format that flatters their experimental impulses. Orbit escapes the gravitational pull of any conventional genre. The Middle has a little bit of everything; breathy vocals borrowed from Sean Nicholas Savage, melodramatic percussion that would please Phil Collins, and a dreamy, ridiculous guitar solo all result in an unlikely but emotional ballad. Elsewhere, Ile’s Dream is progressive psychedelica that heats up as it pushes towards freefall, and Unter Vier Augen is a tinny, distant-sounding floor-filler that feels burdened by glamorous, intergalactic jetlag. Written and recorded in Helsinki and Berlin, the album is trilingual (Finnish, English, Italian) but it speaks with a coldly millennial voice. Deceptively smooth, soft funk opener One Formula invites you in as a robotic voice announces, “A talking lift to the fifth floor/ A glass of water with cucumber slices”. Later, Toroi and Kalevi offer the listener a morning yoga session to relax those “aching shoulders” with such a straight face that is both absurd and chilling. Single What If It Falls chants, ritualistically, a refrain of “Push-ups/ Shaving/ Moisturiser” without obvious irony, as a techno beat crackles with static. As they take a swing at the phallic tower of modern masculinity, there’s an understated euphoria in the climax: “Crucial Moment: When everything falls”.
With the erratic nature of their divisive art-rock, Everything Everything have always been hard to pin down. From their 2010 debut Man Alive and their sophomore album The Arc, the band's indefinable eccentricity – loudly expressed by Jonathan Higgs’s emotive falsetto cries – was no doubt a huge factor in their success. But third album Get To Heaven saw a musical shift closer to the centre, and the move seemed to pay off in terms of both critical and commercial success. On A Fever Dream, emotions are largely melancholic and subjects are broadly political – at one point Higgs even sings about blackface over a fastpaced snare drum. But building chords, classic formats and some easily anticipated drops make the album a guaranteed crowd pleaser. While a great feat for the band, it may leave you searching for the creative risks which made them stand out in the first place. But on Desire, the Manchester-based band reach an artistic peak, crafting a detailed sonic landscape that is simultaneously chaotic and completely ordered. Night of the Long Knives brings a familiar sense of foreboding and violence, with an intense historical reference and comment on our current age, as corruption and immorality are unravelled in our own governments. “It’s coming,” Higgs whispers, “Say goodbye to your neighbourhood”. There are moments of innovation as A Fever Dream ends, winding down with glitchy samples and muted ambient production. But for the most part Everything Everything bizarrely sound like club remix versions of their own songs. And the disconnect between the noticeably safer tracks and the dystopic lyrics invites a little cynicism.
The last Arcade Fire album, Reflektor, was the point at which the band proclaimed they could do whatever they pleased. The Suburbs had achieved its aim of solidifying their status as one of the world’s biggest bands, so if they wanted to turn out a double album inspired by traditional Haitian music and the 1959 cult classic film Black Orpheus, they would. Everything Now arrives nearly four years after Reflektor and again Arcade Fire have chosen their own lane, even if it's an altogether different one. For a start, it's far more focused in its social commentary. The instant gratification culture of the social media age crops up constantly, particularly on the hyper Infinite Content and its spaced-out twin, Infinite_Content. Beneath Win Butler's sneer, though, there's nuance and compassion, which comes to a head on the epic de facto closer We Don't Deserve Love. The band lean again towards dance-rock, but in far more straightforward terms. The complex, layered approach of Reflektor, one that flirted with pulsating electronica, is stripped out and replaced with considerably poppier sensibilities. It’s been lost on nobody that the title track channels Abba, but the chirpiness of both the synths and Régine Chassagne’s backing vocals on Creature Comfort belie the darkness of its lyrical content, an ugly feedback loop that touches upon negative self-image, suicidal thoughts and missing fathers. Good God Damn is Butler’s stage strut set to music, from the irresistibly groovy bassline to the smarmy flicker of the guitars. Everything Now seems to flit between measured cool and gaudy kitsch, for better and worse. The ludicrous Chemistry somehow makes a successful marriage of ska trumpets and thunderous riffs, whilst the polished disco of Put Your Money on Me falls flat. Overall Everything Now feels much more singular than Reflektor, not just by virtue of its more compact runtime but also the consistency of its themes, with Butler skewering the insecurities of modern society. Anybody looking for signs of complacency will be sorely disappointed.
! Katie Hawthorne
! Natty Kasambala
! Joe Goggins
MAN DUO Orbit Kaya Kaya EVERY THING EVERY THING A Fever Dream RCA
T YLER , THE CRE ATOR Flower Boy Columbia
Formerly performing under the Orlando Volcano moniker, this Brooklyn-based DJ/producer’s sound has been appreciated for its balance of influences from Jamaica, America and the UK. His 2016 Complete Concrete EP flaunted familiar dancehall daringness while consciously exploring a sensitive palette of synth sounds. It's an aesthetic not too dissimilar to that of Manchester's Swing Ting label. This is music that aims to unite disparate dance communities rather than haphazardously appropriate their tropes. And yet, as demonstrated in this EP – released via Mr Mitch's revered Gobstopper imprint – Orlando's vision is yet to be perfected. Overshadowed by the four-tracker's centrepiece song, the temperate dancehall track Cyaa Dun featuring rising Jamaican vocalist Nemesis, The Tide That Moves Me is an intriguing but sobering misstep from a promising producer. The self-titled opener scintillates with gently winking keys and saccharine melodies that are simply too plain, too mild, too intentionally naive to incite a real emotional reaction. Sensory Deprivation Tank ascends with these inverted spurts of percussion and tumbles with awkwardly placed synthlines. Orlando as an artist remains a breath of fresh air. Unfortunately The Tide That Moves Me could prove to be his splutter in the wrong creative direction.
The War on Drugs pulled off quite the trick in 2014 when they broke through with the third album Lost in the Dream. They took a slew of influences that were by no stretch of the imagination original and made something that felt, if not fresh, then at least affecting. The album’s tasteful production and dreamy soundscapes proved a convincing disguise for dressing up the cues the Philadelphia band took from traditionally unfashionable artists like Dire Straits and Tom Petty, and frontman Adam Granduciel addressed his struggles with depression with compelling lyricism. Nobody switched onto the band by their last LP is going to feel alienated by A Deeper Understanding, but Granduciel has expanded his sound. Tracks like Strangest Thing and Knocked Down are flecked with little flourishes – shimmering synths, wandering arpeggios – that lend an extra sparkle. There were moments Lost in the Dream felt huge enough to be on the verge of breaking point, and here there’s also an epic feel to songs like the seven-minute In Chains and lead single Thinking of a Place – which expand without feeling like they risk careening into chaos. Ultimately, A Deeper Understanding sounds like you expect it to - the band who made Lost in the Dream trying to do it all over again, but this time they’re sounding more placid, and a touch sunnier.
’We didn't get your message, either because you were not speaking or because of a bad connection,’ goes the voicemailstyle outro to Flower Boy’s penultimate track, Glitter. It’s Tyler, the Creator’s favourite bit of his fourth studio album (so he’s said), and it’s a line which could sum up the way the rapper/producer/entrepreneur’s art has been received over the years. A renowned troll and provocateur with talent behind the controversy, it’s been difficult to know when to take the Ladera Heights skate rat seriously. Much has been made over Flower Boy as Tyler’s ‘coming out’ album, with lyrics like: ‘Next line will have 'em like 'Woah'/ I've been kissing white boys since 2004’ and allusions to his journey of coming to terms with his sexuality. While his earlier work often traded in crass shocktactics and braggadocious bars about wealth, Flower Boy largely sees Tyler look into the mirror with a more mature perspective. Foreward, which credits 19-year-old Surrey artist Rex Orange County as well as members of krautrock pioneers Can as writers, sees the once staunchly DIY artist questioning whether wealth will hinder his creativity: “How many cars can I buy ‘til I run out of drive?” Like the tangerine orange-splashed cover art, musically Flower Boy feels like the brightest Technicolour incarnation of Tyler we’ve ever seen. His production has often had an amateur feel, but Flower Boy, with all its noodly jazz piano chords, qualifies as sophisticated neosoul. Yet for all the album’s velvetysmooth production, it’s never clear whether we’re seeing the real Tyler. On 911 - Mr. Lonely, he raps: “I'm the loneliest man alive /But I keep on dancin' to throw 'em off”. Despite what teenage boys might have you believe, Tyler’s appeal has never been in his use of controversy; it’s the multiple layers that keep us guessing, trying to get into his headspace. Flower Boy has arrived in the age of wokeness and Tyler has swapped antics for introspection, though still with the same button-pushing that hooked a whole generation of kids.
! Tom Watson
! Joe Goggins
! Felicity Martin
ORL ANDO The Tide That Moves Me Gobstopper
THE WAR ON DRUGS A Deeper Understanding Atlantic
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FUTURE BEATS +
DIZZEE R ASCAL Raskit Island Records
There was a time when you couldn’t move for the kind of tripped-out, chopped-up, lolloping beats that Kutmah pioneered along with LA beat scene peers such as Flying Lotus, the GasLamp Killer, and Nosaj Thing. But 10 years is a long time in the fast-shifting sands of sub-genres, and Kutmah’s debut album has the slightly surreal feel of a period piece about it. There’s a good reason for the delay: the UK-born producer was deported from the US in 2010, spending two grim months in a New Mexico detention centre before finally arriving back in Britain. TROBB feels more like a retrospective than a statement of intent, but that’s not to say the material isn’t strong: there’s a glut of scrunched rhythms, scorched melodies, sardonic vocal cuts and a general air of mischief and menace hanging over the whole album. Things really get moving with Brown Porsche 908: an archetypal blunted beat, circa 2007, provides the bed for wave of hazy paranoia – classic Low End Theory sounds. The guest spots add narrative to what might otherwise have been a slightly meandering 31 tracks, but strangely they’re all sequenced towards the end. But the Gonjasufi-featuring closing track, Bury Me By The River, is worth the wait. Striking a more redemptive tone than the album’s early material, it is a swampy finale to complete an album bristling with enough ideas and attitude to compensate for its long gestation.
For all the excitable rumours and talk of reignited beef on Dizzee Rascal’s new album, Raskit, the record itself fails to deliver on the hype. Instead, it drops as a frustrated monologue of beats and bars that neither celebrate past glories, nor offer much hope of future ones. By removing grime from the conversation in the initial announcement, Dizzee risked not only alienating day one fans who’d hoped Raskit would be an extension of early albums Boy In Da Corner and Showtime, but also those who grew up listening to him in the charts. That said, there are moments of undoubted technical shine here. On opener Focus, perhaps a message-to-self motif for the album itself, Dizzee laces a twisted, sci-fi pearler of a beat straight out of the Boy In Da Corner playbook, while from a lyrical perspective, he remains a master of switching up flows on a sixpence. On Make It Last for example, he spits at half-time pace, while on Ghost — the track immediately following — he flows at warp speed, almost inhaling the beat underneath him. One other talking point is the absence of features on Raskit. But who would Dizzee have turned to for features in any case? You get the feeling that, drawn-out Wiley beef aside, Dizzee no longer commands the same respect from his successful grime peers that his former mentor does. On that front, Raskit does see Dizzee finally address Wiley on a record for the first time. “Tell Willy I don’t need a pen pal/ Stop writing me these letters, I don’t know what to do with them”, he barks on The Other Side, a fleeting remark, but one that carries the most weight on the album. It’s this tiredness that unfortunately defines the spirit of Raskit, a record which initially hits hard but then reveals itself as a somewhat shallow one written at the wrong time and for the wrong reasons. No longer the pioneer he once was, it feels as though Dizzee Rascal is playing catch-up on a race that’s already been won.
Despite hectic tours on both sides of the Atlantic since last year’s double whammy of the A Weird Exits and An Odd Entrances LPs, Thee Oh Sees have recently managed to replace a drummer, clip the ‘Thee’ from their name and deliver another new album. Dressed in more excellent cover art by guitarist and frontman John Dwyer’s airbrusher of choice, Robert Beatty; Orc barely lets you press play before facehugging you with the hyper, unsettling lead single The Static God. Nite Expo follows with an 80s futurescape, before jolting back into familiar garage riffing. The first half of the LP continues to serve up textbook Oh Sees. From the blistering, snarl face scuzz on Animated Violence, to the galloping and eventual dreamy waywardness of Keys To The Castle (which features the much-missed Oh Sees member Brigid Dawson) through to Jetison’s fuzzy jam room funk. As with A Weird Exits, the album’s second half is more freeform, stopping the pace for the ringing Cadaver Dog and atmospheric Paranoise. Cooling Tower could comfortably be a Damaged Bug tune and Drowned Beast is wide and expansive. Raw Optics is less vital and more a gratuitous green light for the band’s two drummers to do their thing. With such regular releases, with Oh Sees we’re spoilt for choice. At worst, you can say this isn’t different enough from the last, but with a band this good, who cares?
Ten years ago, the pay-what-you-like release of Radiohead’s In Rainbows hinted at new paradigms to come in music distribution. The seemingly anti-capitalist move promised a quasi-utopian, fan-friendly future where artists could connect directly with their listeners rather than through record labels or other such corporate intermediaries. This, of course, was before TIDAL came along. A general unwillingness on the part of people to abandon piracy and materially support artistry led to the streaming industrial complex we see today – a tightly spun web of music services backed by Fortune 500 behemoths and venture capitalists. An ad-free platform for paying subscribers, TIDAL takes pride in its public-facing, artist ownership approach. When the likes of Beyoncé or Kanye West deliver an exclusive there, the perception we’re meant to have is that the artist directly benefits from the collective monthly pittances of the company’s subscribership. How fitting that the financial relationship between Sprint, TIDAL and Shawn Carter has incestuously birthed the instantaneously platinum Jay-Z fulllength 4:44, a million digital copies of which were delivered directly to the people via free download. There are those who will frown upon the raising of such gory details in an album review. But as Carter has made clear before, he’s “a business, man”. The infotainment of 4:44 finds him delivering messages of black empowerment through the lens of commerce, with seminar-quality lessons about credit, spending and generational wealth. On The Story of O.J., he assumes this role of keynote speaker with unapologetic ease, frowning upon Instagram showiness – “Y’all on the ‘Gram holding money to your ear/ There’s a disconnect, we don’t call that money over here” – while boasting of his exponentially fruitful investments in modern art. If being lectured by a multimillionaire about why you’re still poor is your fetish, there you go. Fortunately, the dryer bits of 4:44 find gratifying counterpoints in No I.D.’s immaculate beats. Enjoying a career resurgence following his impressive work on Vince Staples’ 2016 double LP Summertime 06, the veteran producer provides warm beds of fractured soul, rugged percussion and boom-bap revivalism here. And at a time when the fate of lyricism appears to rest on the shoulders of middleweights J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar, Carter still manages to get a few licks in. Though his delivery now hints at lethargy, he lands body blows on both Kanye West and Eric Benet on Kill Jay Z, the first with defensive vigour, the second with self-deprecating simplicity. Indeed, the biggest target here is himself, laid bare and laid out on the confessional title track and the impactful Smile where Jay refers to his mother coming out and raps, “Cried tears of joy when you fell in love/ Don’t matter to me if it’s a him or her”. These moments create emotional connections between artist and listener. And that’s something genuine that sponsorship money can’t buy.
Having teamed up with jazz duo The Mattson 2 for this year’s Star Stuff project, here Chaz Bear is already back with his fifth Toro Y Moi album. Boo Boo is a soft RnB-infused record with rich synth patterning and mesmerising bass that recalls the likes of 80s producer Kashif and Prince. Through compressed and cold melodies, on Boo Boo Chaz is open about the mental turmoil of going through a breakup. “Alright I lied when I said that you weren't on my mind/ As if I hadn't called, as if you were worried,” he croons on closer W.I.W.W.T.W., “What is wrong with this world? It's got me thinking too much”. In the album’s press release as well as recent interviews, Chaz has spoken of “personal turmoil” and relationship issues stemming from his relative level of fame. The recording process of Boo Boo was his form of therapy. Musically, Chaz explores contemporary RnB production (most successfully on No Show) and indie psychedelia. While the album’s soundscape often drifts towards middle-of-the-road territory, standouts on the album can be found with the hypnotic Don't Try, which features flagship 80s synthesised percussion, and the triumphant Girl Like You. Boo Boo is the chronicle of Chaz Bear’s identity crisis, trawling to find solace as he goes through a tough time, and although the music doesn’t always sink in, the narrative is felt strongly.
! Adam Corner
! Tomas Fraser
! Ian Ochiltree
! Gary Suarez
! Grace Herring
KUTMAH TROBB Big Dada
OH SEES Orc Castle Face Records
JAY-Z 4:44 Roc Nation / UMG
TORO Y MOI Boo Boo Carpark Records
08—17 MOTH Club Valette St London E8
Friday 18 August
The Lock Tavern 35 Chalk Farm Rd London NW1 lock-tavern.com
Friday 18 August Sunday 6 August
Tuesday 1 August
LYLO Friday 25 August
Wednesday 9 August
THE NATURALS Thursday 31 August
Thursday 10 August
JOEY FOURR Friday 11 August
DAMO SUZUKI Friday 18 August
PROM Wednesday 23 August
GOSPEL BEACH Wednesday 30 August
Shacklewell Arms 71 Shacklewell Lane London E8 shacklewellarms.com Saturday 5 August
LOOM Sunday 6 August
Saturday 5—6 August
ROADKILL RECORDS: WEEKENDER
VAADAT CHARIGIM Thursday 10 August
The Waiting Room 175 Stoke Newington High St N16 waitingroomn16.com Saturday 5 August
THE DEATH OF POP Thursday 10 August
SKINNY PELEMBE Saturday 12 August
LET’S GO SWIMMING Monday 14 August
ITOLDYOUIWOULDEATYOU Tuesday 15 August
LAUCAN Wednesday 23 August
TOOTHPASTE Friday 11 August
ABJECTS Wednesday 16 August
SKINNY MILK Saturday 19 August
CLOCK FEST Saturday 26 August
The Montague Arms 289 Queen’s Rd London SE14 montaguearms.co.uk Saturday 5 August
DIGNAN PORCH Friday 11 August
HATERS Thursday 10 August
Thursday 24 August
THE DOLCE VITA
Saturday 12 August
CHASE CITY Wednesday 6 August
Sunday 27 August
CHRIS FORSYTH & THE SOLAR
IVAN SMAGGHE +
Sunday 17 September
Daniel Jones revisits Angelo Badalamenti's score for an underrated Lynchian masterpiece
Original Release Date: 7 August, 1992 Label: Warner Bros. Records When a mutant like myself grows up in a place as culturally desolate as 90s Midwest America, they have to put some decent energy into finding outlets and inspiration for their various weirdness. Amongst the Throbbing Gristle records and poorly-edited occult philosophies one might have found on my teen-self shelves, one item always held pride of place: a VHS copy of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. When one thinks of Twin Peaks, a few clear pieces of cultural iconography come to mind: damn fine coffee, owls not being what they seem, and so forth. More than this, there’s a memory of quirky, playful weirdness; the kind that makes you go, “Well…hm.” There’s darkness, but it’s tinged with hope, thanks in large
part to Angelo Badalamenti’s wonderful score. Despite a meandering stretch in season two following David Lynch’s temporary departure, the series always had an agenda of working toward resolving Laura Palmer’s death. In the Fire Walk With Me prequel, there are still mysteries to uncover, but the looming inevitability of Laura’s death keeps the films’ atmosphere firmly in the realm of terror and woe. At the age of 14, I’d never seen a horror film like this before, one so rooted in psychological evil and abuse rather than gore and monsters. Krueger and Voorhees had long taken their limb-ripping and soul-eating to such cartoonish heights that it was impossible to be scared of the buckets of red tempura paint following behind them. But in Twin Peaks, I found that old childhood fear of the dark again. In each lingering shot would come swiftly growing unease, even during the most innocuous of action. Before I saw this slice of celluloid,
my childhood terrors were humans portraying monsters. Lynch opened my eyes to the monsters portraying humans. It wasn’t easy to find film soundtracks in my boring little town, but in the dusty recesses of some forgotten garage sale, hidden ‘twixt scrap books and successful trash, the grey light of an autumn afternoon shew’d me the face of Laura Palmer. Listening to it that day, in my candle-lit cliché of a batcave, was the first time I truly understood the power that a film’s soundtrack can carry. A sense of menace pervades even the mellowest of Fire Walk With Me’s compositions, undercutting jaunty lounge grooves with saw-edge strings and a variety of vocals that vary between somber reflection and soused snarling. In the hiss and pop of that used vinyl, I drank aural beauty as vast and black as the sky behind my curtains, unspooling like velvet ribbons of flesh into my mind. A barelyteen brain assembling pictures in the near-dark, cobbled
together from myriad cultural flotsam and the glories of cable TV: 50s Americana sleaze, the cast of Grease performing dark rituals in the forest, acrid perfume mingled with blood and gasoline. At this age, in this time, all of these signifiers served to entice a mind disillusioned with small town life, more willing to see something ugly in a stranger’s smile than something wholesome. What stuck with me more than anything, however, was the elegance in that ugliness. Whereas most of my listening confronted the world with blunt instruments and black leather, Badalamenti brought a stiletto switchblade and a nightclub tuxedo. Where devils usually howled, lost angels attended. The ethereal presence of singer Julee Cruise – perhaps Twin Peaks most iconic musical voice – on the Fire Walk With Me' soundtrack is truly haunting, but it’s the late jazz vocalist Jimmy Scott
that truly shifted my musical perceptions. Imagine a crusty, gothy little kid with chronic hyperactivity –sitting through a four minute piano torch song at that age was unthinkable. But the moment I heard that smouldering countertenor, I was filled with a profound ache. In that voice I heard a beautiful sadness, as alien and human as the Black Lodge. That day I got my first lesson in nuanced sorrow—as integral to existence as a damn fine cup of coffee. With the success of the new Twin Peaks (more inscrutable and arguably as dark as Fire Walk With Me ever was) perhaps modern audiences will look more kindly on the film. If nothing else, it might at least change some weird little kid’s life.
ANGELO BADAL AMENTI Fire Walk With Me OST
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Products CAV EMPT AW17: SILLY FANCY GOOD cavempt.com The cult Japanese streetwear brand has dropped its latest AW17 collection, entitled Silly Fancy Goods. A notable highlight from the drop is its graphic sweatshirts – this particular monochrome jumper is a hit with the Cav Empt logo emblazoned on each sleeve and a glitchy design on the front black strip. KEITH HARING POL AROID FR AME impossible-project.com £18.99 American artist and social activist Keith Haring was a figure who brought lowbrow elements, that weren’t seen as art, into high art spaces. With an cartoonish aesthetic that drew upon New York street culture in the 80s, Haring’s work retained a cultural dialogue with its commentary on issues such as AIDS, drug addiction, sexuality and war. Spruce up your mantlepiece with these Polaroid frames that pay homage to an artist who believed that “art is for everybody”.
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Helmed by multidisciplinary duo Ciesay and Soulz, Places+Faces is a photography-cumlifestyle and fashion brand that merges style with subculture and music. A global phenomenon, the brand has been seen worn by innovators, creators and boundary-pushing artists, and their coveted shoulder bag has been inescapable at fashion week. The photography crew has lensed artists from Rae Sremmurd to Future and Frank Ocean, and Lil Yachty has been seen sporting his P+F jumper. The hype is justified.
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Founded by photographer Campbell Addy, Nii Journal is an elegant magazine that explores the notions of ethnic representation and black identities. Issue two, which features Kelela and Kelsey Lu as joint cover stars, includes contributions from Crack Magazine photographers Tyler Mitchell and Dexter Lander, as well as hairstylist Virginie Moreira and stylist Ibrahim Kamara.
Crossword Across 2. Cult TV makes mindboggling return 3. Kick off in the 'biz 4. Chuck of tree 6. Joe; damn good 8. Famously dead and wrapped in plastic 9. Grizzled Lynchian spirit Down 1. aka Gordon Cole 5. Choice of pie for Cooper and Poison alike 7. Swayze's Double Deuce 8. Small shelter 8. Pop's dreamiest, fka Lizzy Grant
Answers Across: Twin Peaks, Showtime, Log, Coffee, Laura Palmer, Bob Down: David Lynch, Cherry, Roadhouse, Lodge
SELF PORTRAIT This Is The Kit
DJ Harvey or PJ Harvey? Who said it, the charming veteran selector or the cultivated indie icon? 1) “I firmly disbelieve that one has to be a tortured soul to write good music.” 2) "When I was a kid, rock stars dropped from outer space—you had Funkadelic, David Bowie, Roxy Music, Gary Glitter. These were not humans, these were cosmic space gods." 3) "“It's so much in me to want to keep experimenting all the time. It's just inherent." 4) "When it's a good night, I understand why I'm doing it. It's the biggest high, better than any drug."
6) "[Singing is] about being able to convey the feeling in your heart and soul." Answers: 1) PJ 2) DJ 3) PJ 4) PJ 5) DJ 6) DJ
5) ""You can't understand the blues until you've had your heart broken by a woman."
This month's artist takeover was created by @anakova_, who was responding to the word 'Involve'.
If you're interested in contributing to this series, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Turning Points: Carl Cox
“One of my biggest achievements is playing NYE twice, in two continents, in a 12 hour session”
1974: It all began at home I used to spin my father's records at my parents' house parties at eight-yearsold. Back in the 70s, you only had the needle on the record, and the record player only held 10 records at a time. Once those records were done, that was it. You had no music! So at nineyears-old I started pre-recording music on a cassette tape that I would play in between loading the records. I’d switch from cassette to phoner, the needle would drop and BOOM! Our tiny house went crazy! It wasn’t later until about
15 that I borrowed money off my mum to buy my first set of turntables. £500, with the promise I would pay her back £2.10 a week from my paper route! 1980s: Early clubbing experiences I never saw myself as a DJ as such. I was a dancer, a punter first. I started going to clubs when I was 15 and 16. Standing in a queue for hours, then shuffling my way to the front of the dancefloor. Most of the DJs playing today they never had that growing up, they never did that. When I look out into the dancefloor today I know exactly what those people are feeling because I was there on the other side of that DJ booth first. From the beginning. When I see people jumping and smiling and sweating and going crazy, I’m like “Yes that’s me!” 1989: The Three Turntable Sound When I unleashed the fact that I could DJ on three turntables, I never looked back. It was back in 89 at a party called ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ hosted by Sunrise, I was still relatively unknown as a DJ at the time. I took the records other DJs had been playing earlier in their sets, and I played that same record but remixed it live. On three turntables! These were hot shit records, they were
massive records on their own. But when I put them on three turntables and remixed them, nobody had heard that. From that point my phone didn’t stop ringing. I got booked for every single rave and club event that happened around the country for years. I became the “Three Deck Turntable Wizard.” 1991: Deal with Perfecto and debut single I Want You Forever was one of Perfecto Records' earliest releases and as soon as it came out it just blew the charts away. It went into the Top 40. We made a video, then it got into the Top 20, I couldn’t believe it. The expectations to follow that up are so ridiculously high, so I pulled out of the deal. But it was clear a lot of people liked my music and liked what I’d done, and that would open the door for so much more to happen in the charts with other DJs making music and also push me to start my own label, Intec Records. 2000: Bringing in the New Millennium The moment that always stands out the most for me looking back, and one of the biggest achievements in my career, is being able to play New Year’s Eve twice, in two continents, in a 12 hour session. Being behind the decks and
bringing in the year 2000 in Australia on Bondi Beach and then flying back over the International Date Line and getting my passport stamped and dated at 1999 in Hawaii, before doing it all again – that’s some Back to the Future shit! 2017: Space and Beyond My favourite place to DJ in the world is Ibiza. Space was my spiritual home for many over two decades. When it closed, lots of people were worried and asking if or when I was going to return to the island. But I came back to Ibiza in July and played Privilege, the biggest nightclub in the world, with my event ‘Pure Carl Cox’. The place was packed! I also just did a very special, open air party with the Martinez Brothers at the Benimussa Park. It was incredible and something that we never really shouted about too much. It was the first of Game Over's “If You Know, You Know”, and trust me the fans knew. It was one of the best back-to-back sets I’ve played, it felt like the Space terrace evolved! Carl Cox appears at The Social Festival, Maidstone, 29-30 September
Original club kid Carl Cox might have hit the dancefloor before most of us were born, but the ‘King Of Ibiza’, ‘Three Deck Turntable Wizard’ and ‘People’s DJ’ is still as ferociously energetic as most, if not any DJ on the scene today. A veteran of acid house and British dance music pioneer, Carl Cox’s list of accolades is lengthy and impressive. He's a top 40 hitmaker and prolific BBC Radio 1 DJ with over two decades in Ibiza filling the terrace at world renowned Space. With his huge, beaming smile firmly fixed throughout his packed schedule, clearly Carl has no intention of slowing down anytime soon. He walks us through his joyous journey.
Words: Tracy Kawalik
FASHION SHOWS VIKTOR&ROLF HUGO G-STAR RAW THE KOOPLES TOPMAN and more
LIVE ACTS / DJS BILDERBUCH
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THE FESTIVAL OF STYLE AND CULTURE 1–3 SEPT 2017 ARENA BERLIN
20 Questions: Jackmaster
“If I’ve got a Friday off I’m not going over the nuances of my favourite fucking Drexciya album. I’m trying to watch Love Island and have a Deliveroo”
Words: Davy Reed
Favourite Instagram account to follow? @dear_morni. It takes the piss out of DJs. Who’s your favourite Wu-Tang Clan member? ‘M-E-T-H-O-D Man!’ Tical. Have you seen them perform? He’s the best onstage. I’ve seen Meth with Redman a couple of times. Method Man has the brains behind the brawn. I got a picture with him at a festival in America and it’s fucking class. Heavy metal or EDM? I would quite honestly always put EDM at the bottom of any list about anything. What was the first record you ever truly fell in love with? (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? That was a truly life-changing, lifeaffirming fucking record for me man.
Did you see the Supersonic documentary? Ahh mate, absolutely incredible! And the problem with that documentary is it kind of gives you the excuse to live the kind of lifestyle of the music industry, like ‘ahh maybe it’s alright to go fucking crazy every weekend.’ Name an overrated artist… Jackmaster. Who’s the most famous person you've ever met? I want to say Tiësto… I shook Kanye West’s hand, but I never properly met him. Didn’t Brad Pitt or someone go to your Glastonbury set? Oh – Cara Delevigne! Her, David Beckham and Sienna Miller turned up to mine and Seth Troxler’s set at the Rabbit Hole. Cara Delevigne was the only one I met. She’s pretty famous isn’t she? I guess I can’t really answer that question properly because I don’t give a fuck about that kind of thing! What’s your signature recipe? I don’t cook enough but I’m good in the kitchen. My signature recipe would be anything you can cook for a long time and correct your mistakes. You know what? A good ragú. A slowcooked ragú. If you were trying to seduce a potential lover, what music would you play? In that situation you’re always going to reach for a bit of Motown aren’t you?
What advice would you give to yourself ten years ago? Never stop working in the record shop. When I worked there I was the most in touch person with music ever. I really miss that.
And how are you finding the mindfulness thing? You know what? I just think that kind of shit’s going to be lost on me. My mind moves at a million miles an hour at all times.
Rate these three actors in order of how much you like them, first to last: Danny DeVito, Daniel Day-Lewis and Danny Dyer. Danny Dyer number one, Danny DeVito number two and Danirl Day-Lewis number three. I’m going in terms of banter not acting prowess though.
What’s your worst habit? My phone – I actually can’t put it down.
What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? I’ve only had two jobs in my life apart from DJing, one was working in a record shop and the other was working in my dad’s book shop – which wasn’t a bad job, but I suppose it was the worst I’ve had. Me and my friend used to take turns sleeping in the basement while the other did the cash register. What was the last book you read? I bought three books on my last tour. One was this pocket book on mindfulness, the other the sequel to the The Secret Footballer, who writes columns for The Guardian and the other was called The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. Which is your favourite? The Secret Footballer the easiest to go through when you’re hungover in airports. But the Not Giving a Fuck… one was my favourite.
What’s your least favourite question that journalists ask you? Pretty much anything that’s asked to me by music journalists, no offence. But it would have to be like ‘What’s your favourite album ever?’ or ‘What’s your Desert Island Disc?’. If DJing is your passion that kind of thing changes every day and you don’t really think about it. If I’ve got a Friday off I’m watching TV. I’m not sitting there and going over the nuances of my favourite fucking Drexciya album, you know what I mean? I’m trying to watch Love Island and have a Deliveroo. What would you want written on your tombstone? ‘You Can’t Teach Timing’. It’s a phrase of mine. And when I die, I like to think it’ll be well timed. Jackmaster appears at Lost Village, Lincolnshire, 24-27 August
Anyone who’s set foot in a half-decent nightclub this decade will be familiar with the legend of Jackmaster. For years it’s felt like Jack has been absolutely everywhere (it's believed he played 146 gigs last year), showing an unyielding love for many genres of dance music alongside cheesy curveballs and going back-to-back with everyone from Ben UFO to Armand Van Helden. He is electronic music’s clown prince. Club culture’s Glaswegian folk hero. This is his 20 Questions interview.
Honesty. At The Quietus, I recently served a slice of the shoe pie (music crit colloquial for dishing out a booting review) to risible trip hop nostalgists Public Service Broadcasting for
Illustration: Ed Chambers
When did music journalism stop wielding the axe? As a result of changes in how we consume media, music journalism is increasingly in flux. This unstable climate, The Quietus' Luke Turner argues, has all but stamped out the flames of negative criticism. Who are critics writing for today, and why should they resist the suppression of honest reviews? It's a curious sensation to watch something you love being bludgeoned to death in front of you. I'd not want to do it to anyone's cat, dog, or gerbil. But albums are a different matter and, at the moment, there's not enough stomping going on. At The Quietus, the online music magazine I co-founded, I recently wrote a hatchet job on risible trip-hop nostalgists Public Service Broadcasting for their dire LP Every Valley, a tacky and inept album that turns the collapse of the Welsh mining industry into a ginin-a-jam-jar musical turn at a buntingstrewn village fête.
The online reaction was not merely people agreeing or disagreeing with what I'd written, but surprise that such a critical review had been published. Bootings are, it seems, becoming a thing of the past – a relic of the print music press of the 80s and 90s. This is a troubled time for music-focused editorial websites generally. It’s recently transpired that writers for MTV News – which had undergone a politicised makeover not long ago – had their editorial freedoms restricted after
Chance the Rapper and King of Leon threatened to no longer work with the channel. A new “reshuffle” has seen many MTV writers get the axe, while Vice announced the end of its dance music portal Thump. In both cases, writers have been laid-off to prioritise video content. So why has music criticism become so defanged in recent years? Print ad revenues have largely collapsed and online is on the way out too, with 80% of spending now going to Facebook and Google. With the tech giants hoovering up the money, there's very little now coming to editorial websites – a problem exacerbated by illegal consumption of music and meagre streaming royalties meaning that labels hardly have any money to spend on advertising with music publications. In this climate of fear, many publications have become worryingly risk averse. A lot of publications rely on collaborations between artists and brands to bring home the bacon and, it seems, don't want to offend marketing teams who are afraid of their product appearing in a 'negative' context. I'm constantly hearing of pressure being put on writers and editors to change the tone of coverage to present a rosy glow that fits the notion that music is nothing more than a brand-friendly lifestyle accessory. Yet writers themselves need to shoulder some of the blame. At The Quietus, it's
now rare to receive pitches for stronglyworded, negative reviews or opinion essays. In the shouty world of social media, there's now the prospect of an instant backlash to anything you've written. At the same time, criticism itself has been dragged down into the gutter by its association with lonely sub-keyboard knuckle-shufflers with 17 followers and an egg icon. There's an incorrect assumption that critics are acting on the same impulse, that delivering a negative review is, in some way, "bullying". To be fair, there's nothing more desperate than the popular image of some lonely geezer hack, dribbling lager down his Melvins t-shirt as he hammers out his own internalised rage and frustration on some poor unsuspecting fool who's done nothing more offensive than pick up a ukulele. The best criticism takes the weaknesses within a piece of art and turns them against it, rather than personally attacking the artist themselves. The critic has a duty to the artist to treat them fairly, to not go in studs up with preconceptions. Yet beyond that the journalist owes them nothing – their responsibility is to the reader and to themselves, to be honest and fearless, to tell the truth, and to do it with flair. Criticism has always had a vital role to play in the relationship between art and the public, acting as a filter and a catalyst for debate. I remember back in the day being infuriated when NME or Melody
Maker hacks would go after one of my favourite groups – but the negative review would always make me find new ways of appreciating their work. Music reflects the society that has made it and, it can be argued, everything is in some way political, or is steeped in the sexual, gender, class or societal norms of the day. The music critic then can use their words to explore these issues, or critique artists who've made a cackhanded job of it. In these unsteady times, the role of the critic in rocking the boat is more – not less – important. Contemporary trends in advertising and the corporate hollowing out of the media are so dire that in a decade you, the reader and consumer of music, are likely to be faced by an endless spew of clickbait and commercialised dross. It is our responsibility as critics to join the rearguard action against the age of beige, to call out its musical enablers, and start fighting back. Luke Turner is co-founder and editor of The Quietus and is currently writing his first book, Out Of The Woods, for W&N/Orion
Upcoming London Shows 31 OCT.
The Waiting Room
Visions Festival East London
Adam Torres Sebright Arms 29 &
30 AUG additional date added.
Beach Fossils Oslo
Electric Brixton 09 OCT.
Shigeto Omeara 12 OCT.
The Waiting Room
Waxahatchee The Garage
The Pickle Factory
05 SEPT additional date added.
Courtney Marie Andrews Bush Hall
Starcrawler Boston Music Room 07 SEPT.
Frankie Rose 25 OCT.
Dream Wife Scala
Village Underground 08 AUG.
Alvvays Charly Bliss Old Blue Last 14 SEPT.
Henry Green The Lexington 14 SEPT.
Chastity Belt The Garage 20 SEPT.
Kiran Leonard St. Pancras Old Church 22 SEPT.
With Jacco Gardner Moth Club 26 SEPT.
29 SEPT - 01 OCT.
By The Sea Festival Dreamland, Margate
The Orielles The Lexington 02 NOV.
Electric Ballroom 03 NOV.
Francobollo Moth Club 07 &
08 NOV additional date added.
Father John Misty Eventim Hammersmith Apollo 10 NOV.
Julien Baker Union Chapel 11 NOV.
Pissed Jeans Electric Ballroom 17 NOV.
Cristobal and the Sea Moth Club 23 NOV.
Marika Hackman O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire 23 NOV.
O2 Academy Brixton
30 & 31 OCT additional date added.
The Dream Syndicate The Lexington
O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire 30 NOV.
Puma Blue Corsica Studios
for tickets and more info visit rockfeedback.com
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