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Crack Magazine | Issue 83






















Tricky - ununiform

DJ Tennis: DJ-Kicks

Lone: DJ-Kicks

Kerri Chandler: DJ-Kicks Go to for a free sampler

For a free download compilation, visit


“As potent today as they were in the 1970s” The Guardian


“Adventurous music that still sounds new today” Pitchfork



“Majestic highlife” froots


“Delivers from start to finish” Popmatters


2CD / 3LP / digital

CD / 2LP / digital

LP / digital

CD / 2LP / digital

“Essential LP reissue” Music Is My Sanctuary

“Tough social cameos. A Winner.” The Guardian

Our Pick Of The Hottest New Live Acts For 2018!






Dark Sky

Shed The final experiment

Kilter / Acacia



Dark Sky

Dark Sky


The Walker / Kilter Remixes


The Passenger / The Walker (Roman FlĂźgel Remix)



Dark Sky

Synaptics EP



Mouse on Mars


Where Was I?


Now and laters feat. Homeboy Sandman






UK TOUR 2018











T H E W O M B AT S . C O. U K




Belle and Sebastian PLUS

16 & 17 March 2018

















UK TOUR 2018 UK TOUR 2018






















28 | 02 | 18












02 | 06 | 18










Red/Orange 180gm double LP, artwork/concept insert

RA Recommends 4.3/5

RA Recommends 4.4/5







Limited edition dinked white label 7”

Black/Green 180gm double LP

Transparent 12” / clear PVC wallet





Also available Deluxe limited edition Jake Wood-Evans signed print + CD

Limited edition ink drawn sleeve, dinked 7”

Gatefold quadruple LP

Heavyweight sleeve + printed artwork inners

OMAR SOULEYMAN “…the coolest man in the universe.” NOISEY

“….the hottest name to drop in Western electronic circles…”




available on double coloured vinyl and cd


INCLUDES ‘REST’ AND ‘DEADLY VALENTINE’ “Like a chandelier made of strobe lights” DAZED & CONFUSED

“A powerful, brooding, “One of the bravest enveloping return” performers of our time” ELLE











14 December 2017 – 29 April 2018

CTM 2018 TURMOIL 26 JAN — 4 FEB 2018 BERLIN W W W. C T M - F E S T I VA L . D E


D E S I G N ~ VOJ D. N E T



Sunday 2pm — 10pm


RPR Soundsystem Rhadoo Petre Inspirescu Raresh Junki Inoue ROOM TWO

fabric 96: DVS1 Launch DVS1 Anthony Rother (Electro Live Set) Oscar Mulero


Body & Soul (8 hour Set) Danny Krivit François K Joe Claussell


Craig Richards Ben Klock Jay Clarke ROOM TWO

20 Years Of Hospital Productions Ancient Methods B2B Vatican Shadow JK Flesh (Live) Becka Diamond


Maya Jane Coles Kim Ann Foxman Terry Francis ROOM TWO

Henning Baer Anthony Linell AKA Abdulla Rashim (Live) Tasha


Sunday 2pm — 12am


fabric presents Redimension Joseph Capriati Jay Clarke Flavio Folco

31 77A Charterhouse Street, London EC1. Opening times: 11pm — 7am. Check for advance tickets, prices and further info. fabric 95: Roman Flügel, Out Now fabric 96: DVS1, 8th December. fabric 97: Tale Of Us, 23rd February.

fabric NYE Craig Richards Terry Francis Daniel Avery Paranoid London (Live) Paula Temple Ryan Elliott Jay Clarke + More Artists TBA


Friday 11pm — 7am


fabric Presents Adam Beyer (Extended Set) Reset Robot

fabric december 2017

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

Executive Editors




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Editor Davy Reed

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Words Chanté Joseph, Niloufar Haidari, Tracy Kawalik, Aurora Mitchell, Tirhakah Love, Tom Faber, Yemi Abiade, Emma Robertson, Callum Copley, Charlie Clemoes, Aine Devaney, Oli Warwick, Natty Kasambala, Gunseli Yalcinkaya, Sammy Jones, Theo Kotz, Gemma Samways, Felicity Martin, Tomas Fraser, Gabriel Szatan, Xavier Boucherat, Nathan Ma, Gary Suarez, Geraint Davies, Tara Joshi, Hamda Issa-Salwe, Josie Roberts, Angus Harrison, Christine Kaikaire, Josh Baines, Neil Kulkarni, Josh Winning, Joseph Walsh, Sirin Kale, Tamsyn Black, Lara C Coy

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Music, Creativity & Technology

Barcelona 14.15.16 June

bicep live, black coffee, bonobo, daedelus, dinamarca, ditc sound, diplo, francisco lópez, george fitzgerald live, gorillaz, helena hauff, jamz supernova, jarami, kode9 x kōji morimoto av, laurent garnier, lcd soundsystem, lorenzo senni, maribou state, mueveloreina, nídia, obc plays terry riley, ólafur arnalds, rels b, richie hawtin close, studio barnhus, tony humphries, violet x photonz, wiley, yuzo koshiro x motohiro kawashima live and many more. Buy your tickets here an initiative of

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Editor's Letter – p.25 Discover – p.31

Crack Magazine Annual Report 2017 53

Bad Gyal 42

Recommended – p.26

Rising: Kodie Shane – p.29

The Update: Hookworms – p.33

20 Questions: DJ Seinfeld – p.95

Reviews – p.87

My Life as a Mixtape: Nabihah Iqbal – p.97








tickets, giving thousands of young people their first taste of live performance.

When we were compiling our end of year lists in 2016, we received a striking number of submissions which framed records in the context of an intense socio-political climate. This was just after the US election results and, of course, these conditions persisted in 2017. But I’ll leave those discussions up to the writers with more focused ideas and bigger wordcounts in this issue. For what it’s worth, this was a good year for Crack Magazine and so here I’d like to thank everyone who made it work.

Capo Lee Ching Bang Wallah ft. D Double E DJ Lycox Weekend Hookworms Negative Space Miguel Pineapple Skies IAMDDB Shade (Chimpo Remix) Skepta Still Björk Courtship Bad Gyal Jacaranda Masta Killa Real People ft. Prodigy & Kxng Crooked Angel Olsen For You Love My Way The Psychedelic Furs Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith To Feel Your Best Edward Penfold Spring Parade Endless Boogie Vibe Killer Daniele Luppi & Parquet Courts Mount Napoleon Kanye West Gorgeous ft. Kid Cudi & Raekwon

Early on there were indications that things were off to a good start. We opened a Berlin office in January and we’d launched an Amsterdam issue by March. But most importantly, over the last 12 months I think we’ve felt more confident than ever in our music policy. This is because of a readership which engages passionately with uncompromising artists, thoughtful writing and bold photography. We’ve been encouraged to maintain a sense of credibility, allowing us to secure covers with mainstream artists like Gorillaz, Rae Sremmurd and LCD Soundsystem, while some of our most well-received cover stories – Helena Hauff, Discwoman and Omar Souleyman spring to mind – featured acts who hadn’t previously appeared on the front page of a magazine. The final Crack Magazine cover of 2017 features Arca, whose self-titled LP is one of the few records to ever be awarded full marks in our reviews pages. As one of the most radical musicians of our generation, he’s a dream cover star for us. I’m writing this on the eve of the magazine's print date, and I can’t wait to see how this one goes down.

Acra shot exclusively for Crack Magazine by Vitali Gelwich London – November 2017

Davy Reed, Editor


Crack Magazine Was Made Using

December 2017


Issue 83


James Holden & The Spirit Animals Islington Assembly 6 December 

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

fabric NYE fabric 31 December

Trust Fund DIY Space for London 8 December

Comunité Tulum, Mexico James Holden & the Animal Spirits, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, rRoxymore 5-6 January $120.00 + BF

NYE is coming up fast and no doubt you and your friends are searching for a suitable end of year blowout to bring in 2018. As one of the UK’s most iconic venues and a space that fought the law and won triumphantly this year, fabric is an easy choice. What makes it even easier to choose is the line-up, featuring the inimitable Craig Richards, Paula Temple, Ostgut Ton’s Ryan Elliott, Terry Francis, Daniel Avery and more. A solid option.

LWE NYD 2018 Tobacco Dock 1 January £45.00

Nobody wants to be that dude who bangs on about raves being spiritual experiences, but oh boy, Comunité festival makes it difficult not to. Taking place at a jungle ranch in the Yucatan peninsula, this one-dayer brings together a sensitively programmed line-up of Mexican, Latin American and international artists which explores, in their words, “alternative currents and the re-invention of traditional music forms”. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith against a backdrop of a mystical underground water chamber somewhere in the Mayan Riviera? We’re feeling transcendental just thinking about it.

Hodge Mick's Garage 15 December

Mogwai Brixton  15 December

LWE’s nights at the Tobacco Dock in East London have never skimped on cost or scale. For the first day of 2018, they kept their reputation of going big fully intact. How about the hypnotic selections of Axel Boman? The transcendent bangers of Floorplan? The skilfully mixed techno mastery of Nastia? The colourful cuts of Roman Flügel? Running from midday right through to 10.30pm, this is the optimum hangover cure / NYE alternative / end-point.

Destroyer Scala 7 December 

Lena Willikens Corsica Studios 16 December

Dinosaur Jr Roundhouse 13 December £27.50 More than ten years after the legendary alt-rock band’s reunion, Dinosaur Jr have beaten the comeback curse. They’ve released four solidly brilliant albums, embarked on a series of excellent tours, and confirmed a general intention to climb on ever upward rather than rely on ancient hits. It’s rare to find musical gamechangers not content to sit on their laurels, but Dinosaur Jr are refreshingly down to earth, more interested in proving their eternal willingness to shred than in rehashing any past glories.

Visionist (live A/V) Ormside Projects 7 December CTM Festival Jace Clayton, KABLAM, Rashaad Newsome Various venues, Berlin 26 January - 4 February Tickets from €115


Penguin Cafe Union Chapel 11 December

It’s been a tough year, and the brilliant minds at CTM Festival know it. The festival's next theme is TURMOIL: an acknowledgment of all the bad that’s been, and the hope in fury that’s yet to come. If we are angry – and many of us are – Turmoil asks what that anger sounds like, refusing to let political and social crises go unspoken. The result is a grinding, furious line-up, featuring a huge range of talent across a constellation of Berlin’s best clubs and venues. There’ll be artist Rashaad Newsome presenting his vision of an alternative America; Jace Clayton (better known as DJ /rupture and once described by Wire as a “pan-global, post-everything superhero”) honouring 1980s downtown New York scenester Julius Eastman; and Swan Meat’s evil, seductive grooves. And you, we reckon.

Sassy J Mick's Garage 25 November

Cloud Nothings The Dome 12 December


Karen Gwyer The Pickle Factory 8 December

Not Waving The Pickle Factory 14 December

WHP Closing Party The Black Madonna, Shanti Celeste, DJ Seinfeld Store Street, Manchester 1 January £49.50 Rounding off another billboard year of parties at the magical Store Street, The Warehouse Project have delivered once again for the grand finale. 12 hours of music from some of the most reliable and exciting DJs on the map. Both rounding off incredible years, Bicep and The Black Madonna will undoubtedly bring the kinds of euphoric main-room moments that The Warehouse Project do so well. Further down the bill, the versatile selections of 2017 WHP resident Or:la, the faded tones of Baba Stiltz and the broken beats of Overmono will provide a dose of more obscure sounds. You could do worse than kicking off 2018 with this blockbuster line-up.

DJ Lycox & Florentino Five Miles 9 December

In the wake of London’s increasing amount of club closures, E1 is set to provide the capital with some replenishment in the Wapping area. The brainchild of industry professionals, a former factory will be transformed into a multidisciplinary arts space for NYE. Launching in style with a 27-hour party, Avalon Emerson, Discwoman’s Volvox, Âme and others will be trying out the venue’s bespoke FunktionOne sound system for the first time. Needless to say – we're excited.

Tricky Islington Assembly Hall 13 December Bristol-born, Berlin-adopted, early days Massive Attack member, Björk-romancer and Beyoncé-collaborator, Tricky’s back again to prove that 13 can be a lucky number. An early pioneer of trip-hop, Tricky is famous for his diasporic approach to music, bringing layers of alternative rock, ragga, pop and hip-hop to one slinky, dark creation. His 13th album, Ununiform, has all the power that we expect from the legendary producer, plus an unexpected addition: a move towards happiness, from a musician who’s been through more than most. Come along and see Tricky’s new contentment for yourself; just don’t expect it to be calm.

SOPHIE Bussey Building 8 December

Rants N Bants Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen 10 December

DJ Harvey Ministry of Sound 16 December

Ho99o9 Electric Ballroom 13 December

Tim Burgess DJ Set The Garage 9 December

Washed Out Heaven  7 December 

Since 2014, LA-via-New Jersey duo Ho99o9 have been brewing a toxic concoction of punk, metal, abrasive electronica and hip-hop that’s splattered with horrorcore aesthetics, radical iconography and apocalyptic lyricism. As you might imagine, they are not shy performers. Tempted?

Unsound Dislocation The Barbican 8 December £17.50-22.50

Jayda G Corsica Studios 31 December

As befits a festival with a borderless outlook, Unsound's annual programme extends way beyond Krakow, with satellite festivals in Minsk, Almaty and now, London. Distilling the adventurous sensibility that is Unsound’s MO, this Barbican event will probe 2017’s ‘dislocation’ theme with a programme headed up with a rare live performance from The Caretaker, aka Leyland Kirby. There’s also a collaboration between NIVHEK – aka Liz Harris/Grouper – and visual artist MFO, plus a new piece, Soft Power, which sees London-based experimentalist felicita teaming up with traditional dancers from Poland’s Śląsk Song and Dance Ensemble.

Yung Lean Roundhouse 12 December


The team behind Rye Wax have proved once again just how on-point their tastes are with the line-up for this December instalment of their Cotch party. Hosted north of the river for the first time at popular Tottenham venue Five Miles, they welcome Paris-based Princípe signee DJ Lycox who released his brilliant debut LP Sonhos & Pesadelos through the label in November. They’ve also booked Mixpak’s Florentino who came in at number 27 on Crack’s recent roundup of the most exciting DJs on the planet. There’s also experimental sounds from Night Slugs’ SHEEN and PAN’s Flora Yin-Wong. It’s cheap too. Next stop Tottenham.

E1 NYE E1, Wapping 31 December







21. 00


110 P ENNING T O N S T .

E 1 -L O N D ON . CO M

SUN 31S T DEC 2017

TU E 0 2ND JAN 2018

L O ND O N E1W 2 B B




Kodie Shane

Words: Chanté Joseph

“Kodie Shane, Kodie Shane, Kodie Shane. Uhh... have you heard that new Kodie Shane!?” I’ve asked Kodie Shane about what artists she's feeling at the moment, and playful responses like this seem to be typical of the 20-year-old. The Atlanta singerrapper is a vibrant ball of energy, and she makes her message of positivity and her drive for success heard loud and clear. “Me and my mom have this thing where you gotta choose to have a good day,” she explains of her infectious good vibes. Kodie Shane is riding a wave of success after becoming the First Lady of Lil Yachty’s Sailing Team. The sole female member of the crew, Kodie marked her entry to the Sailing Team in 2016 with the carefree posse cut All In. The Petra Collins-directed video saw them ride around on a yellow school bus, throwing money in the air to a nursery rhyme trap beat. When Kodie’s verse is up, she hops out the school bus to flaunt her grill-filled smile, oozing charisma and a came-toslay attitude. Sounds like: Rainbow-coloured Atlanta rap from the future Soundtrack for: Restoring good vibes after a tough week File Next To: Dej Loaf / Charli XCX

Growing up, Shane was always the ‘tomboy’ and never felt the need to be anything but that. Her initial stage name The Don Baby comes from the Joseph Gordon-Levitt film Don Jon. “The guy had all the girls, he could get any girl he wanted,” she tells me. Though the Don Baby name didn’t stick, this bold attitude still seeps into her music. In previous interviews, Shane has addressed the issue of

sexuality (“I don’t want to have to fall in love with what’s inside of somebody’s pants”) and she’s proud of her mature, progressive attitude. She describes herself as being ahead of her time, hence the sci-fi themed titles of her EP’s 2060, Back From the Future, Zero Gravity. Kodie has described finding it difficult to fit in at school, but some would say she was destined for success. She’s the niece of Saturday Love singer Cherelle, the daughter of Rick from RnB trio Rik, Ran & Dan and her sister Brandi was a member of noughties US girl group Blaque. “I don’t feel any pressure,'” she says, confidently. “I always knew I would be an entertainer in some way.” She began her musical journey at the age of 14, writing songs for a production studio and briefly rapping with an Atlanta girl group. At age 16, Shane began taking her solo career seriously, and she was introduced to Lil Yachty by her friend and his manager Coach K – an ATL rap industry legend who’s worked with artists such as Gucci Mane and Migos. With a love of sweet melodies and vibrant aesthetics, Yachty and Kodie are kindred spirits, and you can hear their chemistry play out on their collaborative tracks. Kodie’s music makes you want to drop the top on the convertible you wish you could afford, her melodic signature ‘yaahs’ enough to have you milly rocking in and out of your feelings. And fortunately, the exuberant star has a lot in store. She’ll wrap up 2017 with a bang as she tours with Jhené Aiko, and she’s plotting to drop her album in March next year. “I’ve started to sound all the way confident. I’ve really grown up,” she declares, and outlining her 2018 goals with a characteristically positive attitude: “I just wanna spread positivity throughout the world.”

Our Favourite Tune: Sad ft. Lil Yachty

Where to find her: @kodieshane


Fun Fact: Her grandfather named her after cowboy Buffalo Bill Cody




DJ Sabrina The Teenage DJ


File Next To: Young Thug / Kevin Gates Our Favourite Tune: Phase Where to find him: @1GunnaGunna

Heavy Lungs Heavy Lungs are the latest band to defy clichés about Bristol’s music scene by feeding the city’s ravenous appetite for ferocious guitar music. Powered by frenzied drumming and a hostile bassline, debut track Poster Boy climaxes with Ron Asheton-style shredding and the guttural howls of Ukrainian frontman Danny Nedelko – who performs with the urgency of an individual who’s just been told it’s his last day on earth. New to the live circuit, the ‘Lungs have already supported fellow punk practitioners METZ and IDLES. Fingers crossed you’ll see them wreak havoc your local sticky-floored gig venue before it’s destroyed to make space for luxury flats. File Next To: Iceage / Minor Threat

File Next To: DJ Boring / Flamingosis Our favourite tune: Grim Fandango Where to find her: djsabrinatheteenagedj.

File Next To: Gunnar Haslam / Abdulla Rashim Our favourite tune: Choix des Armes Where to find him:

Col3trane If you spent any of 2017 craving more music from Frank Ocean, then Col3trane will relieve your thirst. With evocative, unconventional RnB straight out of the Blonde blueprint, it's likely the comparisons to Ocean will be endless (sorry) during the North Londonbased artist's come-up. But that's not to say he's a cheap impersonation. Col3trane, real name Cole Basta, sculpted his own vision on his Tsarina mixtape, produced in part by his affiliates in Birmingham rap collective Blue Room Mafia and embellished with visuals by Nicole Nodland, formerly Prince's personal photographer. The mixtape spans Greek myth and teenage yearning, all wrapped up in poetic pop music that drifts in and out of focus. File next to: Frank Ocean / Syd Our favourite tune: New Chain Where to find him: @col3trane

Our Favourite Tune: Poster Boy Where to find them:


You might have heard Atlanta rapper Gunna on Young Thug’s exceptional 2016 LP Jeffrey. Introducing yourself to the mainstream by jumping on a track with Thug, Travis Scott and Atlanta godfather Gucci sounds like a daunting prospect, but the 24-year-old makes it look easy – delivering a nimble, acrobatic verse on Floyd Mayweather that carried the same melodic hallmarks you’d expect from Young Thug. Earlier this year he dropped Drip Season 2 – a high-impact mixtape released through Young Thug’s YSL imprint and featuring contributions from Offset, Playboi Carti and Thug himself. Refining a kind of woozier, softer mutation of the Atlanta auto-tuned sound, Gunna’s ready to bring hits

Arriving complete with an extensive background story involving time travel and one of the worst/best DJ names we’ve come across in a while, London-based DJ DJ Sabrina The Teenage DJ makes up for it all with goofy, joyous house music. Playful, glitzy tracks cascade into warm blankets of sound, with enough 80s synths and the odd horn to keep heads nodding. The faceless producer falls in line with the farcicallynamed, algorithm-fuelled figures of the lo-fi house scene, for sure, but there's something unexpectedly blissful, even heartfelt, that grows up out of the irreverent humour of the project. The highly anticipated All The Beautiful Things U Do drops this month: expect charming imperfections and the occasional saxophone solo.

It’s difficult to approach the music of Frédéric Destres, aka Renart, without projecting a little of his day job onto it. Destres is a professor of Occult Sciences at La Sorbonne (although a cursory fact-check is far from conclusive ). You’d expect such a John Dee-is career path would result in music with a propensity for darkness – music to read leather-bound grimoires by – but the strokes here are much finer: On his recently released debut LP, Fragments Séquencés, Destres shifts from mossy and meditative ambient to Detroit techno that’s tunnelistic and oppressive. The connecting tissue between these divergent strands is a kind of strange, liminal energy. Which, we guess, is really rather apt after all.



— 05 — 05 — 2018 — 2018 1414 — 05 — 05 — 2018 — 2018 1414

Ólafur Ólafur Ólafur Ólafur Ólafur Ólafur — 05 — 05 — 2018 — 2018 1414

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Interview by: Davy Reed

Next year, Leeds-based psych band Hookworms return with their first album since 2014’s The Hum. Here vocalist, synth player and producer MJ discusses their new musical epiphany and the disaster which nearly destroyed their scene.

How did you manage to recover from that situation? It took six months to rebuild the studio. It took a couple of months just for it to dry out, and we ripped everything out and then a lot of stuff was condemned. And then there was that GoFundMe thing, I think I want to spend a lot of the next six months just reiterating how incredibly kind all of that was and how humbled I was by it. That was the nice thing that came out of it. Since the studio’s been back running, what kind of bands have you recorded with? I’ve worked constantly ever since. I’m still in an insane amount of debt from the flood, so I’m still paying it off. I’m super proud of the new Spook School album that comes out early next year, it’s amazing. I did a record with Ben [Stidworthy] from the Canadian band Ought and Mikkel [Holm Silkjær] from

Yung, a Danish band. I did an album with Kagoule from Nottingham, who are great. And I’m recording a band this week called Eureka California, I like them a lot. There seems to have been a change on musical direction with the forthcoming Hookworms album Microshift. So how did that come out? We knew we wanted to do something different, we felt like we’d made the same record twice already and I think for us to stay together as a band, it was important that we moved forward. Matt [Benn] had a project called XAM Duo and we’d been playing a lot of synthesisers. We wanted to try and incorporate that into ourselves more than we had already. Whereas before [synthesisers] were just kind of like an extra layer that we were putting on live, this time we wanted to go to songs that were built around them. The vocals sound more pronounced on this new record. What experiences and emotions have inspired the lyrics? The majority of it is a reaction to the last three years. We lost a really close friend of our band last year. And my dad has Alzheimer’s and cancer as well, and it’s moved on quite a lot recently. And then

just, like, dealing with mental health stuff after the flood as well. They’re all quite traumatic life experiences. It’s supposed to be about that. Musically, there’s a certain energetic pulse. Do you feel as though there’s a sense of optimism to the record? I think there’s two things. After we toured the second album, we really noticed the reaction from the audience, especially at festivals, to the dancey songs. And we really enjoyed that kind of push and pull between the audience and the band. Rather than it just being the band playing on stage and people standing and staring. I think we set out to make a record that when we played it would be euphoric, you know? And so we already knew that before a lot of this stuff happened anyway, and then I was still really drawn to it as a musician, between, you know, a great euphoric record and incredibly miserable lyrics. I think it’s cool. Microshift is released 8 February via Domino


Your Suburban Home studio was flooded on Boxing Day 2015. What was the extent of the damage and how much of an impact did it have on the scene in Leeds? I don’t want to say how much money it was, but it was a significant five figure. Money’s not the most important thing, but a lot of my friends lost things as well. There was a practice studio that was even closer to the River Aire than I am that lost everything. There was another recording studio that’s never reopened that was beautiful, because that was under water. The water behind my building was six foot high in places. I was kind of lucky that I managed to get here in time to move stuff.

Arca: Look Within Words: Niloufar Haidari Photography: Vitali Gelwich Photographer's Assistant: Robin Lambert Stylist: Ben Schofield Make Up Artist: Daniel Sallstrom Hairstylist: Virginie P Moreira

Latex chaps: Charlotte Knowles Latex underwear: Libidex All other clothing from Arca's tour wardrobe

037 Ghersi is quick to point out that he doesn’t spend his life in heels. Today the 28-year-old wears this particular pair as a form of protection against the exposure that is implicit with being interviewed. What about their growing size? “It's not a coincidence,” he admits. As well as today's use as social armour, the boots also act as a defence mechanism on the battlefield of Arca's live performances. “Now that I really think of it, the more intimate and vulnerable the music becomes, the higher up, physically, I have to feel in order to be able to face it. I raised myself up with heels, then I raised myself up with the boots, and then I raised myself up with the stilts, and the last show that I did this year [in LA with Kelela and Total Freedom] I asked for Olympic rings so I could be suspended. It's like a form of shapeshifting – I needed to grow taller in order to go deeper into myself.” On his self-titled album, released in April of this year, Arca went deeper into himself than ever before. On opener Piel, the first words Ghersi sings are “Quitame la piel de ayer”, which translate to ‘take my skin of yesterday off'. As Ghersi discovers what's underneath, listening to the album can at points feel like you are staring into an open wound, but these visceral tales are sent heavenward with Ghersi's voice. Vocals aren't new to the Arca project. But on past albums, 2015’s Mutant and 2014’s Xen, they were always under heavy distortion or slathered with electronic effects, as if being channelled to you from space. With Arca, Ghersi had reclaimed them, singing in his native language of Spanish. “My relationship with my voice is so symbolic because I stopped singing at 17 when I left Venezuela, and I started singing 10 years later [on this record]. I never thought my voice was pretty enough.” As a teenager, Ghersi produced dreamy synth pop under the name Nuuro with moderate success. His move to New York at 17 gave him

the courage to pull the plug on the project, which he regarded as untrue to himself. “I think my life was very hard to live for a period, and I'm teaching myself that it doesn't have to be that hard anymore,” he explains. “And the only way for me to even accept that my life was hard to live was through making art, and through making this album.”

being akin to a trance-like state. The songs were summoned from deep within his subconscious. “I barely understood what was coming out of me. I would just hit record and improvise. The intentionality comes in later for me, where I have all these songs and you build a visual universe and strive towards making it understood.”

As he began to synthesise his wonderfully amorphous sound, Ghersi initially worked behind the scenes. He produced music for the likes of Dean Blunt, Kanye West, FKA twigs and Björk – who’s described their collaborative bond as the strongest musical relationship she’s ever had. Of Björk's new album Utopia, Ghersi co-produced 12 of the 14 tracks. In an email sent to Crack Magazine, Björk offered her thoughts on working with Ghersi: “It has been incredibly lush to follow Alejandro grow for the time I've known him. It has been a steep glorious curve! His musical DNA is fierce and stubborn but also full of effortless genius flow. And he so rarely carries a talent for both being a luminous visionary and having telepathic capability of knowing other's musical needs and being able to create them. I am so excited about his future!” While working on her 2015 album Vulnicura, Ghersi helped Björk on her journey in a new musical direction. At the same time, Björk encouraged Ghersi to make use of his vocal talent within his music – the result is Arca.

The haunting, operatic vocals are inspired by a style of singing called the tonadas. These are loosely defined as the work songs of the agricultural labourers of Venezuela’s llanos (vast central

The record was created in Ghersi’s home, following visits to Abney Park Cemetery, an infamous North London cruising spot a few minutes’ walk away. “It means so much to me to have that place,” he adds dreamily. The room we’re sitting in feels like an extension of outside in some ways. Natural light dances across natural wood, and flowers both fresh and dried adorn the fireplace at the centre of the room. Ghersi lights a candle, breathing in the smoky scent. He describes his experience of creating the album as

plains). “There's a way of singing tonadas, it's full of longing,” Ghersi explains with his eyes closed. “They were always slow and sad, they were the songs where yearning and melancholy were expressed. They shaped something inside of me, they were something that I just related to. I think why they mean so much to Venezuelan people is because there's a joyfulness and a cheerfulness that defines the character of Venezuela. But this longing and sorrow, which all humans have, found its way out through the tonada. I like to think that anyway.”


Arca opens the door of his Stoke Newington home wearing a red crop top, little black shorts and thigh-high, black PVC boots. It’s an elaborate outfit for a Monday afternoon, but by this point I might have been disappointed if I’d been greeted with anything less. The genre-bending artist, real name Alejandro Ghersi, has become almost as famous for his gravity-defying footwear as he has for his fiercely indefinable music.


Sandal left: Gucci Patent pump right: Jimmy Choo

041 As Ghersi says this, my mind darts back to a time when he created his own split. In 2014, Ghersi's alter ego character Xen – a warping figure digitally-rendered by close collaborator Jesse Kanda – served to embody an album of the same name. Ghersi has spoken about how the character, officially genderless but addressed with female pronouns, was instrumental in letting him explore ideas of identity and femininity. Whereas Xen fractured identity into pieces, Ghersi cracked himself open for Arca. Throughout his live shows and music videos, imagery from Kanda revelled in a startling, intense, and often-confusing sensuality: metal grates and rose petals; Ghersi’s angelic voice rising out of his bruised and battered face in the visuals for Sin Rumbo; Arca embodying both bull and matador under a pink light as he stumbles about bleeding on cloven-hooved stilts in the visuals for Reverie. “There's a lot of imagery in the album and the campaign where I'm wounded and injured, and in hindsight it's so clear that it was important for me to symbolically communicate that because I didn't actually know where it was coming from,” he says. Just as Kanda's visuals painted the rawness of the album in fleshy extremes, the act of performing saw Ghersi work through it physically. “This year was one of the most important years of my life,” he tells me. “This album and the

live shows were such a mirror – they mirrored a lot of confrontation I've had with myself psychologically and emotionally. I think I was blocking myself off from feeling a lot of different things. I just had to be brave enough to not give up. I would finish the shows and feel so drained, and I had to learn to save some for myself. The moment where I learned to do that, I started to enjoy the live shows even more and the shows got even better. I was letting the pain and the pleasure co-exist.” Arca often touches on the delicate balance between pleasure and pain. The longing felt for a lover who does more harm than good, the anguish caused by a lover’s carelessness, the literal image of a bleeding backside in the video for Reverie. At times it seems he has chosen to present queer sexuality in a way that is severe, almost monstrous. He mulls over the idea for a while, telling me he prefers the word ‘mutant’ when discussing queerness. Like X-Men? “X-Men was so influential to me. When you think about the premise – people who have powers that are so misunderstood that just want the best for everyone – that's gayness.” Ghersi is familiar with the feeling of otherness. He remembers watching cartoons as a child and being unable to identify with the main character (“Batman and Robin? Whatever Batman, I was so into Catwoman”) and later the only other gay person he knew about had been asked to leave school because of the disruption caused by bullying. “I think we all have parts of ourselves that we're uncomfortable with, or that make us feel like freaks. But some people, for survival, need to tuck it in more than others. If you're in a country where, for instance, being gay is not as problematic, maybe you don't have to use as much energy to tuck that in.” He ventures that he thinks everyone is queer in some way: “What queerness is as a word, what it represents, is ideological. The word itself is trying to define something that is undefinable. The word queer has shifted meaning

because it's allowed it; it's whatever doesn't fit in.” Just as his music dances euphorically around restrictions, Ghersi values the power in his own ability to morph and change. “True generosity to oneself I think can be in expressing, but I very much resist becoming beholden to a form of expression,” he explains. “Musically my albums change so much. I think if I don't repeat myself I don't feel trapped by expectations. As long as I can keep morphing, then I feel happier.” Now that the shows are coming to an end, Ghersi has permanent scarring on his knees from dropping down on to metal grates. But he isn’t bothered by them. “I'm glad for those scars because when I look at them I remember that I don't have to do that anymore.” There has been an overwhelming sense of catharsis to the project; the feeling that we are witnessing someone heal in real time. In our increasingly frantic and time-poor lives, really letting yourself process anything at all has become a radical act in itself. “I think dancing between extremes is probably the best bet you have to know all the different sides of yourself,” he elaborates, “so I don't believe in rigidity or only wearing these boots or only wearing sneakers. For me, it's really important to be able to do both. I think the older I get the more I take it on as a mission to not deprive myself of feeling any kind of way; to let myself feel sorrow, and anger, and joy – that one's hard. Just to let yourself feel.” Arca is out now via XL Recordings


This inspiration is most evident on Reverie, in which most of the lyrics are directly taken from famous Venezuelan folk artist Simón Díaz’s Caballo Viejo. Díaz himself was a huge inspiration for Arca, who tells me the artist was a sensation in Venezuela, with his own children’s TV show running alongside his successful career as a singer. “He had so many different sides, and I really related to that. Maybe this is my projection, but there was so much delicate, painful longing in those songs. Maybe I recognise in Simón Díaz the split; he disowned his sorrow and could only come into contact with it because he had to, and he would do that through his tonadas.”




Jacket: Won Hundred Skirt: The Ragged Preist Top: DKNY All Clothing Available at

Words: Tracy Kawalik Photography: Jackson Bowley Styling: Luci Ellis Hair & Makeup: Chloe Botting

The sounds of Lotto Boyzz and Abra Cadabra pump out across the studio as Bad Gyal flexes into position. She poses like a pro in slinky FILA tracksuit bottoms and gold chains, before slipping into an oversized mint fur. Diamond hoops frame her face, and she appears unconcerned by the flashbulbs. “Let’s do more on the lips, no? More gloss, like, a lot!” Alba Farelo, aka Bad Gyal, is the Barcelona rap rebel and dancehall Queen blazing her own path. The blonde badass might be only 20-yearsold, but her explosive confidence commands attention. It only takes one look or sly wink to be reminded of her irresistible appeal. After breaking through last year with Pai – an adaptation of Rihanna's Work sung in Catalan – Bad Gyal pounced on the escalating hype with her Slow Wine mixtape. Her delicious track Jacaranda, produced by Popcaan affiliate Dubbel Dutch, has since racked up three million hits on YouTube. Her lyrics switch between Catalan, Spanish and English with a self-assuredness matched by her attitude and style. A quick swipe through Bad Gyal's Instagram cuts a clear snapshot of her signature look: smoking a spliff through glittery lips, DIY tattoos, diamond-studded teeth, 90s Versace. This vision permeates her string of lo-fi music videos, whether

she's chilling at the fairground in chain mail or grinding in assless chaps. Bad Gyal's music – deep, dancehallindebted grooves smothered with saccharine autotune – transcends genre as well as language barriers. It's easy to see why critics love her, even when they don’t know how to approach her. “They tried to put me in the trap box because they didn’t know where else to put me,” she explains. “I’m not on the Afrobeat wave from London, I’m not from Jamaica. I’m from Spain and I’m rapping in three different languages! I’m using the same ingredients of reggaeton, tropical and dancehall sounds, but cooked a different way, with a totally different flavour. I understand not everyone will get what to do with that.” Bad Gyal splices sounds and influences with a carefree outlook. Much has been written about cultural appropriation in her chosen genres, specifically when pop artists cherry pick elements of dancehall for mainstream success. Unlike some of her pop peers who have jumped on dancehall’s booming trajectory, Bad Gyal is quick to pay her dues to scene legends like Ivy Queen and Lorna D, and the Puerto Rican and dembow artists that paved the way long before she was even born. “DancehalI didn’t come in my life from fucking Justin Bieber, I was listening to it from when

I was 12 years old,” she remembers. “All my friends wanted to go to techno clubs but I was the girl begging them to come to dancehall parties with me. It didn’t come to me. I had to find it, and discover it for myself. When I did, I couldn’t lose it! Wisin & Yandel, Farruko, Busy Signal, Spice, Vybz Kartel, those songs meant everything to me.” Her passion is infectious. Tapping on her iPhone with long, candy floss coloured nails, she flashes me some lyrics she had written in the studio the day before. Bad Gyal may be known for her multi-lingual lyrical chops, but, she says, she always lets the beat and the melody speak first. “For me, it’s the feeling.” The feeling may be overwhelmingly one of confidence, a musician ready to take on a traditionally male-dominated scene, negotiating conversations about appropriation, glorying in the attention focused on her next move. All the same, I ask if she's ever nervous. "Always, before I go on stage,” she admits, “but once I’m out there, I’m in the moment. I’m not thinking about how I’m moving, what I’m singing. It’s an experience for my body. I'm connecting with the audience, doing what I was born to do.“ @akabadgyal

Bad Gyal




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048 Coat: Miss Selfridge Earrings: Sabrina Dehoff Heeled Boots: New Look All Clothing Available at




Produced exclusively for Crack Magazine by Patrick Savile - @patricksavile_official

Crack Magazine Annual Report 2017

End of Year Essays ...................................................................054 Albums of the Year ...................................................................063 Tracks ......................................................................................... 075 EPs .............................................................................................. 078 Films ............................................................................................ 080 Class of 2017 ............................................................................082

Leading lights

How Kiev and Tbilisi’s dancefloors became hotbeds for social change 054

Words: Tom Faber

They called it The Second Summer of Love, that brief moment in the late 80s when acid house and the rise of ecstasy collided and rave was born. It's a period of UK dance history which has been so thoroughly mythologised that even those too young to experience it seem to feel the nostalgia. Rave wasn't the first music movement to have an impact on British society, but its drug-fuelled, anarchic hedonism upset the establishment like no other. In fear of its rebellious spirit, the government tried to clamp down on the free party scene, drafting the notorious Criminal Justice and Public Order Act in 1994. 23 years later, there's not much politics left on UK dancefloors. Pockets of activism remain in parties that are trying to make clubs safer, more inclusive spaces, but huge swathes of nightlife have been commercially co-opted, politically sanitised and rebranded as mainstream entertainment. Yet there are parties across the world where clubbing remains intimately entangled with politics, where the heartbeat of social resistance pulses under the 4/4, and in 2017 they continued to thrive. One of the most explicitly political club movements started in Tbilisi, Georgia. Between the gleaming curves of the city's modern architecture and the meandering pastel streets of its old town is Dinamo football stadium. Beneath the stark Soviet structure, in the poured concrete of an empty swimming pool, a club called Bassiani spearheaded a new countercultural movement in Georgian nightlife. In 2014, Bassiani was born from an absence. "In the late 2000s, the club scene was empty of context. It was just entertainment, not even the music was a priority," says co-founder Tato Getia. He comes from a politicised generation, who have witnessed wars and water shortages since the country's independence from the Soviet Union, but found politics conspicuously absent from club culture. In any city where young people have had their hope, their freedom or their futures taken away, the personal liberation and communion offered by clubs can be a powerful engine for optimism and change. The music was always key: in just three years Bassiani have turned an unknown club circuit in the Caucasus mountains into a

destination with world-class line-ups, hosting label showcases from Ilian Tape, Hessle Audio and Lobster Theremin in 2017 alone. Yet Bassiani soon took on a more overt activist agenda. "We realised that it's on our shoulders to strive for our rights against oppression and corruption," he says. "No one else is going to do it for us." This was the beginning of Bassiani's involvement with the White Noise movement, an activist group who campaign against police oppression, homophobia and Georgia's draconian drug policies. In a country where possession of a tiny amount of cannabis can land you in prison and anti-homophobia protestors are beaten in the streets, the Bassiani founders sit on drug policy reform panels and run a monthly LGBTQ night called Horoom. "The clubbing world is helping to build one of the strongest movements in the history of independent Georgia," Getia says, with an understandable hint of pride. "Nothing can stop this.” In late October of this year, just across the Black Sea from Georgia, armed police raided Kiev club Jugendhub. Dozens of dancers were beaten, arrested, and even enlisted into military service. But just like legislation, police raids couldn't stop the dance. While Bassiani is explicitly tied to activism, Kiev's club scene represents something subtler. Their politics is grounded in an antiestablishment ethos, the defiant creation of a space for pleasure and free expression amidst an oppressive police apparatus. Since April 2014, Slava Lepsheev has been throwing parties in warehouses, skate parks and under bridges in Kiev. At first the Cxema (pronounced schema) raves were created to fill the void left by Ukraine's Maidan revolution, when a series of violent clashes between police and protestors resulted in the ousting of the President. "When the revolution happened everything stopped, like after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 90s," Lepsheev tells me through the translation of colleague Hanna Vasyk. "It was a frozen scene without anything interesting going on, so we had to start again from scratch." Lepsheev’s first parties gathered 100 people to dance to hypnotic techno in an abandoned factory. Today Cxema counts


2000 attendees. At a typical night you can just make out young dancers throwing angular shapes in thick clouds of smoke, their uniform a hybrid of rave trackies and post-apocalyptic chic. They take showcases outside of the country, recently to Berlin's Tresor, yet their focus remains doggedly local, featuring almost exclusively Ukrainian DJs. It's no coincidence that Cxema appeared immediately after Ukraine's bloody revolution, yet that doesn't mean young ravers see clubbing as a deliberately political act. Lepsheev explains: "If you asked clubbers in Kiev four years ago, 'why are you partying? Why are you going to Cxema? Are you consciously protesting?' all the 16-year-olds would say, 'No, we just want to have fun and dance.’" Just because someone doesn't think what they're doing is political, it doesn't mean what they're doing is not political, I suggest. When she hears this, Vasyk replies heatedly without turning to Lepsheev to translate: "Absolutely. Political scientists will call it political. After some time has passed, they'll write about it in their books. But those people who witness it and live in that moment haven't necessarily evaluated their actions, desires or choices as political." Just like the UK rave scene, which acquired its political identity rather than starting out with one, Cxema's existence has only assumed its resistance narrative when viewed through the lens of history. Though their stories and contexts are different, the scenes in Kiev and Tbilisi both prove one point: that clubbing still offered a vital chance for unity in 2017, both within a country and with the wider world. In political terms, both parties bring locals together while giving them an international reach, a possibility to be culturally connected with the rest of the world. This is particularly significant in ex-Soviet countries which have been so historically closed off. But there's also a cosmic connection. When you go to a sweaty basement and let loose to banging techno you enter something far greater than yourself, greater even than politics – clubbing at its purest, an expression of joy through movement and music, a defiant liberation of body and soul. And that can happen anywhere.


New American Heroes

The budding stars who reflected the values of a progressive youth 056

Words: Tirhakah Love

2017 in America, as much as any other year, was filled to the brim with anxiety. Echo chambers reverberated with complaints of economic misgivings that sounded more like circuitous racism, fears of nuclear war, and tensions as a growing right wing attacked the 'snowflake' liberal left. None of these refrains are altogether new in American culture. That they would coincide this year, under this president, is damning – suggesting A merican identity is tied up in the same stomachchurning violence as it always has been.

the opportunity to enjoy its moment in the spotlight. Bodak Yellow dropped as the country's politics towards Latinx folks skewed xenophobic – when brown people are increasingly discriminated against on the streets, on Capitol Hill, as well as

But luckily, American identity isn't simply a political concern to be duked out on online message boards and social media. A handful of US musicians presented a resistance (whether aware or otherwise) to the uglier aspects of Americanness that seeped through the media in 2017, through both reifying and remixing musical representations of Americanhood. Cardi B is the quintessential American Dream story, and she is keen on the narrative. With her crude and magnetic wit, Cardi joyously retells her come-up from stripping, to reality TV, to rap stardom. Bodak Yellow’s line: “I don't gotta dance, I make money moves” is not just a testament to the hustle and guts of this girl from the Bronx, but a refrain for women making their own personal and professional waves across the board. Not to mention, the song bumps – convincing even the stiffest among us to pop that ass back in celebration of your damn self. It's one of the few records this year that allowed women to be brash and forced men to listen all the way through. The fact that Bodak Yellow dethroned Taylor Swift's single Look What You Made Me Do from the top spot of the Billboard Chart, later becoming the longestreigning #1 song by a rapping woman of all time, felt appropriate and deserved. The large gap sitting between Cardi B and Taylor Swift is not just one of genre or style, it's one of ethnicity and authenticity – two words loaded with meaning when it comes to defining what an American is. When Cardi B's Dominican accent streams out of club speakers, audiences across the country are made privy to, at the very least on the subconscious level, a lived-experience that simply hasn't had

corporate offices all over the US. Cardi B’s talent and her audience’s reception of her sound could, perhaps, signal a new appreciation for politically othered voices. As a woman looking to introduce a forceful vision of millennial love, anxiety, and resilience, SZA took the world by storm with her debut album, Ctrl. The LP lays bare the wins and woes of her budding career, with pressing conversations with the two most influential black women in her life – her mother and grandmother – as its engine. Her song The Weekend went platinum without even being released as a single. While some may interpret the song as a kind of play toward polyamory (“My man is my man is your man/ Her, this her man too”), SZA herself asserts that the song is much more about women understanding and helping to fulfil one another's desires. If those desires happen to involve gettin' a guy to "drop dem drawers,” SZA looks to do so by relinquishing claims of complete ownership; instead she'll carve out her time on the weekend.

male gaze are supremely important in our (or really any) modern sociopolitical moment. The popularity of these records blazing up Billboard charts could imply a bubbling progression toward an American identity that sees women and minorities notably freer in a country led by sexually deviant demagogues trying to keep them quiet. Young people are louder, still, and a young American consciousness is being shaped by young artists questioning the socialised norms of gender, race, and sex ua lit y eng u lf ing ou r t ime. Legacies in the USA – especially the ones that tap into what it truly means to be American – are usually established after an artist has put out consistent work for a number of years. But in 2017 liberalleaning young artists released albums which seemed to claim the stars and stripes with a sense of pride. 19-year-old Texas singer Khalid reached the top 10 with his debut album American Dream, which blended RnB, pop and soul together for a sound that’s as wholesomely American as his military upbringing; with singles like Location and Young, Dumb and Broke making fun, sometimes anxious, teen dramas that resonate with men, women, and non-binary folks alike. 22-year-old New York rapper Joey Bada$$, on the other hand, attempted to invoke a shared, candidly anti-Trump American consciousness with his album All Amerikkkan Bada$$. There is no evidence that the likes of Cardi B, SZA or Khalid necessarily want to be considered American heroes. But, this year, those artists spoke directly to our changing mainstream American values and identities in ways that others simply haven’t. Whether they name it or proclaim it, the youngins lay to rest the moot aspects of identity and set the table for how we’ll discuss it into the future. It’s about time we say, grace. @tirhakahlove

These woman-centred visions of owning oneself and loosening the grips of the



Make Yourself Heard

How a DIY spirit opened doors for PoC in the UK music industry 058

Words: Yemi Abiade

Diversity and representation are major issues in the UK media industry. In 2016, a report published by The Guardian stated that the British journalism sphere is 94% white and 55% male, with a meagre 0.2% accounting for black journalists. In 2017, where artists such as Stormzy, Skepta and J Hus have reached pinnacles, there’s the perception that – in UK music at least – the faces are changing. So what do we really mean by ‘diversity’ and ‘representation’? Have we reached a stage where creatives are allowed to thrive by the powers that be? Or have they taken matters into their own hands? The new generation of creatives have shown supreme confidence in shunning the industry and projecting their ideals to the scene, across music, media and art. Kojey Radical and Little Simz are glaring examples. Both artists have chosen independent routes – Simz releases music on her AGE 101: Music label, and Kojey through his Pushcrayons platform – and have refused to conform to the mainstream. Instead, their creative control has allowed their music to flourish. Simz’s Stillness in Wonderland album (released mid-December last year, followed by a deluxe re-release in November) and Kojey’s self-funded 2017 project IN GODS BODY have further earned the artists committed fans who respect their DIY grind. Diversity has also penetrated on a corporate level. In September 2016 Austin Daboh was employed as Spotify’s Senior Editor, and has arguably become one of the industry’s most significant players. Daboh has subsequently used his platform this year to promote black British music – rap, grime and Afrobeats – and big up the likes of Giggs, Yxng Bane, Kojo Funds and more. We're in an age where playlists and streaming are primary sources for consumption. A 2017 International Federation of the Phonographic Industry report cited a 60% surge in streaming revenue across Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal, with Spotify producing 4500 self-curated playlists over the last year. Clearly, Daboh understands the industry is gearing towards urban music and is demonstrating its ingenuity through playlists like Who We Be, Grime Shutdown and Afro Bashment. Daboh's example is a massive deal for young black kids hoping to make their own break into the industry, projecting a refreshing representation of themselves onto its faceless mechanics.

This year there was a surge to diversify in the independent realm too. As a beneficiary of this, award-winning print and online magazine gal-dem has constructed a milieu for women of colour to share thoughtful discourses on race, music, culture, politics and the industry. Created and updated by staff from their bedrooms, gal-dem’s authenticity and breadth of content has garnered universal acclaim. 2017 has seen gal-dem continue to go from strength to strength, establishing partnerships with festivals like Outlook and Afropunk while staff members and contributors have gone on to work with established media platforms like the BBC, The Guardian and Dazed. Also taking control of their own narrative is London-born club night BBZ. Founders Tia Simon-Campbell and Nadine Davis have paid homage to the experience of queer women of colour, curating inclusive club nights in celebration of all backgrounds and identities. BBZ’s popularity led to an extensive installation at the second Afropunk London festival in July. Titled My Yard, childhood nostalgia was created through a sequence of bedrooms at south Afropunk venue Printworks, and the installation was littered with homages to black British music’s past greatness.


It’s significant that My Yard was exhibited at Afropunk, the festival which boldly celebrates the difference, diversity and creativity of black culture. Launched in Brooklyn in 2005, Afropunk has extended to host festivals across the world, building a community amongst black people from all walks of life. This year, established UK acts JME, Corinne Bailey Rae and NAO performed alongside newcomers Mahalia, Connie Constance and Nadia Rose, entertaining a crowd wearing everything from purple afros dotted with flowers to double hats stacked to the ceiling. Rarely have black British people had such an open space to express themselves as defiantly. In all, young people of colour have levelled the playing field with their self-created spaces, which have changed perceptions within the industry and shifted the momentum from the establishment – labels, publications and corporations – to the creatives themselves. With a fierce determination to make things happen for themselves, they have reinvented where media is heading. Ultimately, this is what diversity and representation really looked like in 2017. @yemiabiade


Tender Textures and Self-Care

Why so many of us got lost in ambient music this year 060

Words: Aurora Mitchell

In our world of endless distractions, sounds defined by a gentle drift have an obvious appeal. Such music – loosely categorised as ambient – has long been embraced by listeners who wish to delve into another world, a time-stretching space which provides comfort and escape. Over the past few years, this music has become increasingly popular; in times of socio-political turbulence, many are finding solace in healing sounds. This year there's been an outpouring of music intended to temporarily relax your brain. It’s provided a release to fall asleep to late at night or for listeners to sit with while travelling home alone on the night bus. The influx has come from both traditionally ambient musicians as well as producers who are more commonly associated with dancefloororientated music – from artists such as UMFANG, Kara Lis Coverdale, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Khotin and Visible Cloaks. The first murmurs of the ambient resurgence were felt in 2014, but this year the genre has solidified its place in our listening habits. Ambient was dubbed “one of the sounds of the summer” by The Guardian, and there was a good chance you’d hear tender soundscapes if you tuned into one of the many independent radio stations which have thrived this year. There’s even a slowly emerging resurgence of the ambient/ chill out room as a physical space in clubs. Make Me recently presented a night for Nachtdigital’s 20th anniversary at Corsica where they turned one of the rooms into an ambient floor, with blankets and carpets and cushions sprawled across the space. Freerotation festival’s ambient yurt has

given people a place to lie down and close their eyes in the midst of an intense three day weekend of hammering kick drums. In a world becoming increasingly bleak and uncertain, it's unsurprising that listeners are leaning toward sounds which can provide a psychological sanctuary. But what hasn’t been so widely discussed is why these sounds have been some of the most prominent throughout the year. Through platforms such as Bandcamp, ambient composers are crafting sounds borne from the frustrations of current political and social problems. One composer from San Francisco, Marc Kate, uses sounds from a far-right genre –National Socialist black metal – to manipulate extreme and politically-troubling music, flipping it on its head to produce gorgeous ambient sounds. Kate’s outwardly political work simultaneously forces listeners to engage with difficult times through his subject matter and denouncement of neoliberalism while also allowing them to f loat away with the beautiful sound collages he creates. UMFANG’s album for Ninja Tune sister label Technicolour also had its roots in politics, with an underlying theme of frustration with police brutality and simmering racial tensions before the American presidential election – channelled into a number of beatless excursions, as well as bare-boned dancefloor tracks. Sweep is an especially striking cut from the record – an eerie three minute track that sounds like a police car siren trilling constantly. Artists have conveyed harrowing, nearapocalyptic situations and reminders of the transience of mortality with gentle and feathery sounds. It might seem anxietyprovoking to look at the bigger picture


of life, eventually ending in death, but Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith’s 2017 album The Kid, which reflects on four different stages of life, provided a strange sense of comfort, reminding you that you’re not alone in your worries and doubts. The album acted as a reflection and mirror to Smith’s own sense of curiosity and development in her life and these different life stages. This feeds into ambient music’s ability to be cathartic and healing, conveying stories and themes often without words. As well as studies which suggest that ambient music/noise alleviates mood and increases productivity, research in 2015 by The Journal of Acoustical Society of America found that natural sounds such as flowing streams were one way to help temporarily lessen the symptoms of mental health issues. Bubbling brooks, the sounds of crows and other environmental noise have always been a very prominent feature in ambient music. A lot of this has been found in the depths of Bandcamp during 2017, with Rhucle & Mike Nigro, Origin Text, New York composer Oximeter and Chihei Hatakeyama heavily sampling various natural sounds. In its different forms, music designed for, or informed by, healing has had a very tangible presence throughout 2017 – whether through home listening or in the club environment. When moments of calm and serenity are hard to find, music that releases chemicals in your brain to relax the muscles in your stiffly postured, stressed body plays a more important role. Put on your headphones, press play and drift away. @auroramitch


20-27.06.18 password: thisplaceisyours

Albums of the Year 2017

Words: Aine Devaney, Tom Watson, Oli Warwick, Natty Kasambala, Gunseli Yalcinkaya, Sammy Jones, Davy Reed, Theo Kotz, Gemma Samways, Felicity Martin, Tomas Fraser, Gabriel Szatan, Mikaella Clements, Xavier Boucherat, Nathan Ma, Gary Suarez, Geraint Davies, Tara Joshi, Duncan Harrison, Hamda Issa-Salwe, Josie Roberts, Thomas Frost, Angus Harrison, Christine Kakaire, Anna Tehabsim, Louise Brailey Albums







Snoop Dogg Neva Left EMPIRE

Show Me The Body Corpus Don’t Be Afraid

Future + Young Thug Super Slimey Epic

Jakuzi Fantezi Müzik City Slang

CupcaKKe Queen Elizabitch Self-released






MoStack High Street Kid MizerMillion Entertainment

Japanese Breakfast Soft Sounds From Another Planet Dead Oceans

Masta Killa Loyalty is Royalty Nature Sounds

Marika Hackman I’m Not Your Man Sub Pop

Tricky Ununiform K7!






Tim Darcy Saturday Night Jagjaguwar

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard / Mild High Club Sketches of Brunswick East ATO Records

Special Request Belief System Houndstooth

Young Thug Beautiful Thugger Girls 300 / Atlantic

Bjørn Torske + Prins Thomas Square One Smalltown Supersound






Girlpool Powerplant Anti-

Pan Daijing Lack 惊蛰 PAN

21 Savage Issa Album Slaughter Gang / Epic

Kelly Lee Owens Kelly Lee Owens Smalltown Supersound

Meek Mill Wins & Losses MMG / Atlantic






Umfang Symbolic Use of Light Technicolour

Various Artists New Gen XL Recordings

The Big Moon Love in the 4th Dimension Fiction Records

James Holden & The Animal Spirits The Animal Spirits Border Community

Red Axes The Beach Goths Garzen Records








Bicep Bicep Ninja Tune

Kara-Lis Coverdale Grafts Boomkat Editions

DJ Manny Greenlight Teklife

Ulricka Spacek Modern English Decoration Tough Love

2 Chainz Pretty Girls Like Trap Music Def Jam






Steffi World of the Walking State Ostgut Ton

Patrick Cowley Afternooners Dark Entries

MIKE May God Bless Your Hustle Self-released

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith The Kid Western Vinyl

Vince Staples Big Fish Theory Def Jam






Laurel Halo Dust Hyperdub

Varg Nordic Flora Series Pt. 3: Gore-Tex City Northern Electronics

Colleen A flame my love, a frequency Thrill Jockey

Future Hndrxx Epic / A1 / Freebandz

Moses Sumney Aromanticism Jagjaguwar






Hype Williams Rainbow Edition Big Dada

DJ Sports Modern Species Firecracker Recordings

Daniele Luppi / Parquet Courts MILANO 30th Century

Wiki No Mountains in Manhattan XL Recordings

Chastity Belt I Used To Spend So Much Time Alone Hardly Art






Thurston Moore Rock N Roll Consciousness Caroline

JASSS Weightless iDEAL

Big Thief Capacity Saddle Creek

DJ Lycox Sonhos & Pesadelos Principe

Alvvays Antisocialites Polyvinyl







John Maus Screen Memories Ribbon Music

Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Feed the Rats Rocket Recordings

Pessimist Pessimist Blackest Ever Black

Jana Rush Pariah Objects LImited

After pretty much disappearing from the public eye, cult synth-pop hero John Maus returned after six years with a score of the sullen and the sublime. In Screen Memories, Maus toyed with ideas of his own mortality in the shadow of doomsday, his deadpan delivery and often inane lyrics on mundanity, political mockery and unrequited love laced with a dark humour. While it’s obvious there are themes of the world’s end threaded through the record, this darkness is greatly outweighed by striking moments of ethereal bliss along with the profound reflections of an isolated intellect. As the beloved John Maus stared down the eyes of society’s inevitable demise, or indeed his own emotional awakening, his music was more tragically captivating than ever before. AD

It’s rare to digest music as bombastic as the turgid, irrational unsound of Newcastle five-piece Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs. Feed The Rats is a maniacal babel of soul-sundering screams and tubular guitar fuzz. A total blunderbuss of cortex-toughening drone and Sabbathian psych. Thirty-five minutes of infernally boisterous avant-noise and brutal musicianship. Lead singer Matthew Baty’s exceptionally acrid roars on 15-minute opener Psychopomp is enough to shatter kneecaps as the group’s rhythm section spore out like a black infectious mould. A bone-breaking record. TW

In the murky gutter Blackest Ever Black inhabits there’s space for all kinds of frostbitten sounds, but no other artist this year has sounded quite like Pessimist. The Bristol-based producer has been orbiting the field of drum ’n' bass since 2010, but as he’s developed as a producer, his style has broadened to encompass many different reference points. On this masterful debut album live drums collide with dread-filled reverb decays and half-step beats get reduced down to a deathly kick march. It’s a chilling listen in the finest tradition of gloomy British soundsystem music, and a potent demonstration of what can be done with the traditional structures of DnB. OW

Jana Rush is by no means a newcomer to the Chicago scene. In 1996 she had a release at the age of 15 via Dance Mania – the imprint that laid the foundations for ghetto house to later mutate into footwork – and cut her teeth alongside originators such as DJ Rashad, DJ Deeon and Gant-Man before choosing a non-musical career. Having returned with 2016’s MPC 7635 EP under the pseudonym JA Ru, this year Jana Rush finally delivered her debut LP. With an emphasis on breakbeat, cluttering polyrhythms with acute sampling techniques, Pariah encapsulates a refined-yet-complex formula that takes exhilarating rhythmic journeys. An outstanding contribution to another exciting year for footwork. TW





Mike Cooper Raft Room40

Brockhampton Saturation II Questions Everyithing, Inc

Visible Cloaks Reassemblage Rvng Intl

Aldous Harding Party 4AD

Over the years, Mike Cooper’s sound has evolved from British blues and folk to something suitably freer. Converging atonal improvisation with high-frequency radio transmissions, traditional gamelan and Hawaiian slack-key guitar, the 74-year-old’s 2017 album Raft is an exercise in total creative abandon. Its title connoted an artist knowingly lost at sea; loosely drifting from one conscious idea to the next. Sometimes jarringly off-kilter, Cooper’s woozy guitar inflections are matched by John Cage-esque clangs, abstract glitches and tropical birdsong. Yet this experimentation is nuzzled between moments of absolute ambience. The resplendently wayward Raft 37 - Las Balsas sweeps between exotic guitar twangs like a softly gushing undercurrent that drags you further towards sun-sunken vistas. While Raft may not be Mike Cooper’s most accessible work, it’s among his most colourful. TW

Brockhampton broke through in 2017, and it seemed to be a timely amplification of refreshing voices in rap, with the unseasonably large Texas-formed, LA-based collective churning out anthemic tunes to capture the energy of youth. To be frank (and pardoning the pun), the comparisons to be drawn with Odd Future end at the configuration of the two groups. On Saturation II – which dropped within three months of its predecessor – the self-proclaimed boy band further carved themselves a unique corner of hip-hop, filled with vibrancy and melody while juggling powerful messages and tongue-in-cheek rap bravado. More playful than subversive on songs like GUMMY and SWEET, Brockhampton are sonically reminiscent of classic hip-hop in the veins of Timbaland and Missy’s absurdist era, merged with deeply purposeful rhetoric on occasion. NK

Existing in the spaces where the East meets West, Visible Cloaks' second album Reassemblage expounded a utopic vision of the world. The Portland duo’s second album takes its inspiration from the futuristic sounds of Japanese artists like Haruomi Hosono and Yellow Magic Orchestra's Ryuichi Sakamoto as well as the virtual soundscapes of American experimentalist Oneohtrix Point Never. Similar to early digital music and the 80s Japanese pop culture surrounding it, Visible Cloaks' clean sounding noise could be likened to vaporwave. But, unlike that trend, which came to prominence through its surface-level parody of pop culture, Reassemblage merges synthetic tones with organic noises – strings and woodwind – to create a wholly timeless sound. GY

In interviews, New Zealand singer-songwriter Aldous Harding described feeling an odd confidence while recording Party, and the album’s stripped-back and jarring presentation certainly demonstrated a newfound swagger. Party contains some the most disarming vocal performances of the year, with Harding’s voice sometimes trembling through her teeth, sometimes becoming a harsh bark, but mostly holding a sweet, strong delivery for heartfelt mantras that cut vicious shapes. While Harding’s voice is so beautiful, so spectral, that it could belong to an otherworldly being, her lyrics always anchor to her flesh and blood self. An album of vocal mastery paired with songwriting magic. SJ







Blue Inverson Hotep Self-released

Sleaford Mods English Tapas Rough Trade

St. Vincent Masseduction Loma Vista

GAS Narkopop Kompakt

2017 saw a number of Hype Williams records emerge, but a press release for August’s Rainbow Edition LP claimed that Inga Copeland and Dean Blunt had left the project years ago, and that all Hype Williams releases following 2011’s One Nation were in fact fake, the work of “Bare Paigons”. Whether involved with Hype Williams or not, 2017 was a prolific year for Blunt. Via YouTube and MediaFire uploads, within a few weeks Blunt shared Babyfather’s Cypher mixtape, the debut release from his band Blue Iverson and Wahalla – an excellent collection of songs recorded with Joanne Robertson in 2014. Blue Iverson’s Hotep is a laid-back excursion into neo-soul that’s led by silky guitar licks, delicate Rhodes keys, synthesised (or sampled?) strings that bring to mind Blunt’s 2013 album The Redeemer, while the only vocals heard are performed by – if Discogs is correct – Oakland singer-songwriter Jennah Bell. Blunt is the UK’s most unpredictable artist, and due to its conventional warmth, Hotep is arguably his biggest curveball yet. DR

Sleaford Mods’ ascent to industry darlings was a bit of a worry. Jason Williamson mentioned his concern about struggling to write if success removed him from the agonising lifestyle that has fuelled the Sleaford Mods’ rage. But Williamson has always swiped at wider injustice, and there’s no shortage of modern evils and curiosities to poke and prod. English Tapas is supposedly their Brexit album (“all the oldies vote for death”) but it’s the other topics no-one else touches that really compel: the paranoid booze-cruise ofDrayton Manored, the pitfalls of the rave generation in their late forties on Messy Anywhere. Their sound has moved on too, with melodies and choruses embellishing the viscera, while Andrew Fearn’s typically sparse punkrap beats allow some space and breath. As always Sleaford Mods present a Britain that you recognise. It’s not glamorous, nor does it necessarily make you feel good. But it’s the truth. TK

As mocked by Annie Clark herself, during the faux press conference trailing this album, much critical energy has been expended examining where St. Vincent’s manifold personas end and Clark’s begins. Having channelled “Judy Garland on barbiturates” for her 2011 album Strange Mercy, the Texan singersongwriter seemed poised to play herself on 2014’s self-titled breakthrough, only to rapidly recast herself as “near-future cult leader” and deliver “a party record you could play at a funeral.” This fifth St. Vincent album was billed as Clark’s most transparent to date. It’s certainly her boldest. Accentuated by visual language rooted in leopard print, PVC and hot pink, Masseduction is thrillingly extroverted, and refreshingly brazen in its portrayal of sex and power. But for all its slippery surface bravado, Masseduction also offers a frank exploration of the tension between defiance and vulnerability, hedonism and self-destruction. And really, who cares whether Masseduction represents the “real” Annie Clark or not; it’s definitely her most convincing performance yet. GS

There’s always been something intangible about Wolfgang Voigt’s output as GAS. His dense productions have this romantic way of ascending, effervescing and then disappearing without any great friction or disturbance. Since the release of his 1995 debut EP under the GAS moniker, Voigt has seldom divorced himself from this marriage of unearthly ambient and techno. Following on from 2000’s Pop (widely regarded as the most accessible GAS record), aesthetically, Narkopop returned to the conceptual visuals of a coloured forestscape – a theme that remains constant throughout the GAS project. However, look closer and you unearth fragments of industrial architecture, suggesting a human or synthetic construction buried deep within Voigt’s woodlands. Whereas Pop was a bright and tranquillising listen that carried much of the producer’s so-called ‘underwater’ qualities, Narkopop returned to the heavier abstractions of Voigt's early works. A balance between light and dark, melodic and atonal, symphonic and cacophonous, each perfectly aligned. TW




Hitmakerchinx Shades and Monsters: FDM Classics Night Slugs

Stormzy Gang Signs and Prayers #Merky / Warner / ADA

Angel Olsen Phases Jagjaguwar

The genre FDM (‘flex dance music’) was born in Brooklyn. Paired with high-energy dance battles, the music jumps furiously from one style to another. Rafael Martin, aka Hitmakerchinx, has the right qualifications to pioneer this style – the LA-based producer was a backup dancer on Rihanna’s ANTI world tour, and flexed his muscles on the promo video for Andy Stott’s Butterflies. Shades & Monsters: FDM Classics was a 17 track collection of productions from 2010-17. Samples ranged from pitched-up Desi vocals (Black Dalia) to stadium rock drums (Different) and emo melody lines, all careering at 100 miles per hour. While Shades & Monsters was designed to go in tandem with performance, the record generates adrenaline as a listening experience, also providing tools worth their weight in gold for any discerning hip-hop DJ. FM

“Who’s gonna stop me? You, him?” asked Stormzy on Big For Your Boots. The real question is, can anybody? This year Stormzy assumed his position at the top of the grime pyramid as if it was his all along — and his highly-anticipated debut album was the official confirmation of this. GSAP is as aggressive as it is tender; defined as much by its bravado as its personal reflection. Stormzy made no secret of his ambition to be the biggest and best artist in the UK, not just the best grime MC. He used GSAP to take shots at those who still doubt his pedigree in claiming the latter, as well as carefully chosen features and producer credits which struck a balance between underground grit and mainstream gloss — a balance that has eluded so many other grime albums of this ilk. The sound of an artist totally comfortable in his own skin, GSAP was a monumental moment for UK music. Now let’s see where Stormzy, and grime, go from here. TF

Angel Olsen keeps falling in love with the idea of love, and it’s not working out. Phases was a collection of demos and rarities culled from the past ten years of Olsen’s work. There are stunning moments to be discovered here as Olsen explores some of her favourite themes: loneliness, longing, and hard-earned realisations about love and life. Dripping guitars are overlaid with psychedelic reverb. Olsen's voice quivers as she trips up and down scales, decrying failed former lovers and testing out new ones, and her front porch ruminations are overwhelmingly touching. Reaching the final song, Endless Road, it becomes clear that after pinning her hopes on one worthless would-be suitor after another, Olsen's idea of love has been tamped down into a more realistic ambition: love for herself. “Every road will lead me home,” she sings, and by this point, it’s impossible not to follow her. SJ







Omar Souleyman To Syria, With Love Mad Decent

Mount Kimbie Love What Sruvives Warp

Sevdaliza ISON Twisted Elegance

Actress AZD Ninja Tune

To Syria, With Love makes a solid case for why Omar Souleyman has staying power. The core of his unique sound remains: a heady blend of frenzied keyboard runs and the Syrian artist’s instantly recognisable caterwauling. There's two important switch-ups to the formula this time, though: Mad Decent studio money providing additional punch to the canned beats; and Souleyman making direct mention, for the first time, of the decimated homeland he had to flee, and the life he’s left behind. The intensity of his music remains dizzying, but the mood is mournful. The album keeps up a long winning streak as an unlikely dance star, but reveals humanity in a formerly inscrutable icon. GS

We had almost lost faith in the Mount Kimbie project. Then they created this startling record. Jumping from dark moods to percussion-driven cheer, Love What Survives slides slyly away from any one genre and rolls out a dazzling host of features: King Krule’s snarled, savage verbosity, Micachu’s show-stealing track with its looping, androgynous plea, James Blake dipping low and soulful. But the real pleasure of the album is what unites it, like a warm thread bringing its disparate parts into a shining whole. The result is a coherent hum of pleasure, where different elements rise and fall from the beautiful gloom. MC

ISON is that odd thing: a deliberately sparse album which blooms into sounds that fill a room. IranianDutch artist Sevdaliza calls up a single note, a synth, a slow beat, one at a time before letting them fade; when she does let songs rise up into more detailed soundscapes, as in Hero’s driving bridge or Do You Feel Real’s dramatic strings, the result is almost overwhelming. The album’s air is one of total restraint, with deeper rhythms moving underneath, and Sevdaliza’s dexterous, masterful voice switching from jazz cadences to RnB heights to choral arpeggios. At times, ISON is an album that seems to hide itself away – but there are moments of shimmering pleasure and real joy to be found if you allow it, like quicksand, to drag you to its depths. MC

It was reasonable to assume that 2014’s Ghettoville was the last we’d hear from Darren Cunningham, aka Actress. While certainly brilliant, it was a dark, deathly record which moved with all the weight and pace of a funeral march. AZD was therefore a Lazarus moment for the producer’s sound, featuring music that bristled with vitality not found in his back catalogue. Opener NIMBUS bubbles like primordial soup, prior to evolving and taking flight on tracks like X22RME and RUNNER. Some typical Actress elements remained – the crunched up beats, the lo-fi samples – but it was the puzzling synth lines sitting on top of these that lend AZD such a bewitching quality. Speaking to Crack Magazine earlier this year, Cunningham declared the record “a sound vitamin that’s helped to clear my palette of Ghettoville.” If AZD’s the basis of a brand new palette, perhaps we can expect more life-affirming efforts in 2018. XB





SYD Fin Columbia

(Sandy) Alex G Rocket Domino

Charli XCX Number 1 Angel Asylum

Sheer Mag Need to Feel Your Love Wilsuns RC

As the former DJ and engineer of Odd Future and coleader of The Internet, Syd’s debut solo album was always going to attract curiosity. While the media circled around the Odd Future controversy during the first half of the decade, Syd came across as notably laidback and unconcerned about the limelight. But Fin is a successful presentation of the LA artist in her insecurities, her sexuality and her aspirations, allowing her compelling identity as a solo artist shine. In typically casual fashion, Syd described the project as an ‘in-between thing’. But to ignore the thrilling potential across Fin would have been an error on both her part and ours. NK

It was quietly exciting to discover the music of Alex Giannascoli – now officially known as (Sandy) Alex G – when his breakthrough album DSU was released in 2014. The reference points were generally retro, but Giannascoli had what so many derivative indie acts lack: great songs. DSU was decorated with unpretentious experimental flourishes, but Rocket is by far Giannascoli's most ambitious record to date. Maybe the 24-year-old had a confidence boost after playing guitar on Frank Ocean’s albums Endless and Blond[e]. Although Giannascoli and Ocean are rooted in disparate genres – indie rock and RnB, respectively – it’s interesting that they now share some common ground. Like Blond[e], Rocket evokes the casual beauty of summer memories, and great melodies emerge from interludes or get lost in the breeze. If DSU is the bedroom classic, then Rocket is Alex Giannascoli coming outside to enjoy his time in the sun. DR

If the party doesn’t start ’til Ke$ha walks in, no one’s told Charli XCX yet. Undeterred by major label politics, the Top 40 daydreamer applied winged eyeliner and flung out Number 1 Angel – a project featuring ten weekend warrior anthems to soundtrack nights under the glitter ball with a couple of Bacardi Breezers in the cooler. Number 1 Angel was peppered with bombastic PC Music production, framing Charli’s chart-friendly vocals with militant Jock Jam-isms. Elsewhere, a cast of collaborators ranging from CupcakKe to Uffie, to Abra and MØ were welcome party favours, and everyone was invited. A stellar effort from a cherished rebel pop star. Bring on the next album. NM

Sheer Mag wasted no time thrusting you into the fastpaced world of Need to Feel Your Love. Protest jam Meet Me in the Street opens with bold confidence, the fist-inthe-air energy of a rock ’n’ roll riff and lyrics inspired by the USA’s post-inauguration chaos, introducing a riotous spirit that permeates the whole album. While the music here is nostalgic, with guitar riffs bringing to mind the Jukebox-friendly material of Thin Lizzy and The Clash’s London Calling era, Sheer Mag aren't impersonating the rock canon. With Tina Halladay’s lyrics often taking centre stage, Sheer Mag have found their own original angle on the genre, creating a record that's furiously, outwardly political, fuelled by conversations about social change. As a result, Need to Feel Your Love is an urgent, irresistible ode to the past, the present and – importantly – the future. NK







Priests Nothing Feels Natural Sister Polygon

JAY Z 4:44 Roc Nation / UMG

King Krule The Ooz XL / True Panther Sounds

Bjork Utopia One Little Indian

“You want some new brutalism?” Katie Alice Greer demands on on the first song of Priests’ debut album, Nothing Feels Natural. “… New hope in the great unwashed? I have tasted maggots, I eat bugs!” she teases. This symbolism is typical of the Washington DC band’s delivery of their unique political agenda – on Appropriate they use gross-out tactics to point out the ever-widening wealth gap in the USA while the next song, Jj, pokes fun at scene posers by directing an eyeroll at those who think they’re the shit because they smoke the ‘right’ cigarettes. Whacked-out, danceable rhythms of all stripes feature throughout the record, but the tone of Nothing Feels Natural stays firmly in fierce punk territory. With spit and sweat, Priests made one of the most exciting and inspiring listens of the year. SJ

As Shawn Carter has made clear before, he’s “a business, man”. So it was fitting that the financial relationship between Sprint, Carter and his streaming platform TIDAL birthed the instantaneously platinum 4:44, a million digital copies of which were delivered directly to the people via free download. 4:44 found Carter delivering messages of black empowerment through the lens of commerce, with seminar-quality lessons about credit, spending and generational wealth. At a time when the fate of lyricism appears to rest on the shoulders of middleweights, Carter managed to get a few licks in, landing 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 on the confessional title track and Smile, where Carter refers to his mother coming out. These moments created emotional connections between artist and listener. And that’s something that sponsorship money can’t buy. GS

When Archy Marshall emerged four years ago with the debut King Krule album 6 Feet Beneath The Moon, it was tempting to focus on Marshall’s age, the worldweary feel of lyrics he’d written aged 14 and younger, the snarling baritone tumbling from his skinny frame. But it was the totality of his world that made him so compelling. The Ooz saw Marshall return to the King Krule project with the esoteric wonder that made him such a singular voice in the first place. We know that Marshall struggled with this record, suffering with writer’s block, depression, insomnia and a lack of clarity about the album’s direction. But there is something captivating about the result. The Ooz is confessional, confrontational, soothing and abrasive; an invitation into the fluid creativity of one of the most compelling songwriters of his generation. TK

On her ninth full-length, Björk presented her own vision of Utopia, sounding unlike any that has come before. Following 2015's Vulnicura: a photorealistic portrait of the wake of heartbreak, Utopia is the dawn after the darkness; a document of existential rediscovery. Field recordings and playful woodwind compositions give the album a celestial lightness. The simplicity of new love at its purest is addressed with childlike wonder; the naivety of succumbing to perfection. And with a running time near 70 minutes and little care given for formalities of structure, this ranks among her most esoteric creations. In essence, though, Utopia is another triumph; lamenting a past self and celebrating the new with a potent message of hope over fear. In an age of pervasive pessimism, Utopia is a punchline. GD





Tyler, the Creator Flower Boy Columbia

IDLES Brutalism Balley Records

Kelela Take Me Apart Warp

Jlin Black Origami Planet Mu

“We didn’t get your message, either because you were not speaking or because of a bad connection,” goes the voicemail-style outro to Flower Boy’s penultimate track, Glitter. It’s a line which could sum up the way rapper/producer/entrepreneur Tyler, the Creator'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. Like the tangerine orange-splashed cover art, Flower Boy was the brightest Technicolor incarnation of Tyler we’ve ever seen. His production has often had an amateur feel, but this album, with all its noodly jazz piano chords, qualifies as sophisticated neo-soul. 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 arrived in the age of wokeness and Tyler swapped antics for introspection, though still with the same button-pushing tendencies that hooked a whole generation of kids. FM

There was a point when IDLES seemed destined to burn out before ever getting a shot in the limelight. Formed around seven years ago, the Bristol punk band secured local notoriety with their intense live performances, but the rest of the world took little notice. Maybe the band lived too many miles away from the slick handshakes that stitch together what’s left of the UK’s London-centric music industry. Perhaps trendaware media publications were reluctant to champion high-octane riffs during what’s possibly been the driest era for guitar-based music in the history of popular culture. But once IDLES ceased to give a shit what anyone else thought about them, something clicked. Shedding a back catalogue in favour of an austere new sound, singer Joe Talbot dived headfirst into these songs – depicting raw grief, disgust and political fury and somehow tumbling out the other side in a state of sobriety and catharsis. It was intense, and it was ugly. But somehow, IDLES felt like the most heartfelt band of 2017. Why? Because Brutalism was a matter of life and death. DR

Halfway through Kelela Mizanekristos’ long-awaited debut album comes the strikingly minimal Better. The track finds the LA-based RnB artist considering a break-up in visceral, simple terms: “Didn’t it make you better? Aren’t we better now?” she sings in that sweet, powerful voice like liquid silk, trying to justify the decision to end the relationship. It's clear that Kelela knows how to make her vocals resonate with a sound palette which feels uniquely hers. And while there’s nothing as abrasive as the beats on her acclaimed 2013 mixtape Cut 4 Me, Take Me Apart retains her proclivity for the leftfield, bubbling with 90s and 00s-style beats. The vision of Kelela’s earlier releases has been fully realised on Take Me Apart, albeit in a subtler, more nuanced, dreamlike way. In being loud in its vulnerability (and quietly radical for it), Take Me Apart is a powerful addition to the feminist, futurist RnB canon. TJ

While pioneers of footwork have restlessly probed at the genre’s boundaries, Jlin has all but done away with them. When she burst out of nowhere in 2011 the Gary, Indiana artist sounded completely on her own. In 2016, she explained via Twitter: “I don’t consider myself a footwork artist. I started my roots in footwork, but it evolved into something else.” Black Origami, Jlin’s second full length, was mesmerising, mapping out further these wild evolutions in sound. A significant inspiration for Black Origami was Avril Stormy Unger. An Indian dancer who has performed with Jlin, the two have said that they share such a close understanding of each other’s rhythms that it scares them, and with Unger’s movement in mind, the music takes on new physical possibilities for the listener. Footwork has always been body music; dance music at its purest. Yet the avant-garde was never far away. With Black Origami, Jlin pushed both of these potentials to exhilarating extremes. TK







Drake More Life OVO / Cash Money / Republic

William Basinski A Shadow In Time 2062 / Temporary Resistence

J Hus Common Sense Black Butter / Epic

Kehlani SweetSexySavage Atlantic / HBK

On More Life, Drake settled into his role as curatorin-chief – half rap superstar, half globetrotting pop A&R. Drake has always picked up musical codes and regional colloquialisms from the artists he admires. though he never managed to do so with this much sophistication and maturity as he did here. On More Life, he invested in the sonic trademarks of his guests; he wasn’t window-shopping. Drake’s not fully outgrown his old self though, there are still a veritable feast of Aubrey-isms on show. Stories of drunk texting J-Lo, a song called Gyalchester and lyrics like “I play my part too, like a sequel” serve as friendly reminders of his goofy persona. A cynic could write off More Life’s ‘playlist’ categorisation as a defence mechanism – a way for Drake to secure commercial dominance without the pressure of an album. With these tracks though, it's a fitting title for a truly digital, post-genre entity, where Drake convincingly positioned himself as an architect for a borderless age of pop music. DH

It's been 15 years since William Basinski released Disintegration Loops, the mesmerising music which was created in the shadow of 9/11. Utilising sorrow as an almighty muse once again, with For David Robert Jones – the second of this release’s two lengthy tracks – Basinski presented a forlorn and hopelessly bittersweet eulogy for David Bowie, pulling you deep inside a world of shapeless memories accented by both beauty and decay. A Shadow In Time is glacial in its movement and austere in its beauty, with shimmering harmonies that moan and stretch until their own drowsy death. For David Robert Jones emerges from the murky depths of a bank of lost memories, provoking hazy visions of a life as seen through a rearview mirror. As much as there is light and a sense of being reborn, its gentle cascade also hints at a life turning to dust in the darkness. With restrained repetition, Basinski’s work reminds us that life is a series of perpetual cycles. For David Robert Jones, however, is the blanket over the inevitable end. AD

A sold out tour. Prestigious award nominations. Critical acclaim. Chart success. 2017 was the year J Hus – or Bouff Daddy to some – struck gold with his 17 track zeitgeist-capturing project Common Sense. The slickly-produced album is a cocktail blend of references from his home town of East London – the birthplace of grime – mixed in with his West African roots, UK road rap, bashment, hip-hop and more. Undoubtedly, the album has been credited with having put ‘Afrowave’ on a mainstream level, and all the while Hus has executed everything with bag loads of swag. You should be envious. HIS

Kehlani’s confidence was at the forefront of her 17 track album, as the 21-year-old navigated the boundaries between RnB, hip-hop, and radio pop with a light-footed swagger. If 2016’s You Should Be Here mixtape was a love letter, SweetSexySavage was Kehlani’s declaration of intent. The hooks here are infectious, yet dedicated fans who allowed the melodies to soak in with were rewarded with the album’s sincerity and soulfulness. And as she opened up about love, lust, drugs and the hard-knocks of life, Kehlani proved herself to be the triple threat that the bold title promised. NM





Migos Culture 300 / Atlantic

Thundercat Drunk Brainfeeder

Slowdive Slowdive Dead Oceans

Perfume Genius No Shape Matador

2016 saw a string of unremarkable Migos singles that went nowhere and appeared to portend the inevitable Quavo solo career. Then came Bad And Boujee, a quiet storm take on trap that optimised the Migos formula of choppy vocal rhythms and repetitive hooks, peaking atop the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the US. The strongest Migos full length release to date, Culture made the most of this lucky career surge. Bangers like Call Casting and the Gucci Mane-featuring Slippery call back to the strongest material on their many mixtapes. Bridging the trap house and the strip club, All Ass sees Offset and Quavo make strides towards storytelling instead of the non-sequiturs and streams-of-consciousness they typically offer. The Zaytoven-produced Brown Paper Bag subtly coaxes atmospheric beauty out of Migos’s chosen subgenre of trap, while Deadz caters to its more maximalist, bombastic urges. No matter what happens with Migos in the future, Culture solidified their once-shaky stature in rap. GS

Thundercat's boldest release found him at his most exposed. The third Thundercat LP deploys a bizarre and dark sense of humour, indulging in surreal fun while exploring the anxieties that bubble underneath everyday life. Drunk – which crams in 23 tracks – ricochets between moods, reflecting an intoxicated mind. Queue the shimmering cosmic melodies of A Fan’s Mail (Tron Song Suite II) or the smooth and psychedelic Show You The Way (featuring iconic soft rockers Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald). But as the album veers into its latter half, Thundercat's basslines slog and stumble, sinking a little under the acquired gravity of being being lost, drunk and numb. Still, Thundercat is – just about – grinning. Drunk grabs you by the ankles and pulls you into the rabbit hole of Stephen Bruner’s mind – what a dizzying ride. JR

When Slowdive announced new material, we admittedly had our doubts. But this album – their first in 22 years – contains a vitality that, in places, leaves you breathless. This wasn’t down to any seismic change in their make-up. Rachel Goswell and Neil Halsted’s vocals still sit on top of the shimmering sounds, soft and sometimes understated, but with enough substance to add the extra layer of beauty. The guitars also soar with majestic effect. Opener Slomo sets the tone for the majority of the record, where sounds meld and move beneath a glossy riff, and obvious single Star Roving is a superb piece of exuberant, hands-in-the-air guitar pop. The blueprint which Slowdive helped to create in the 90s is fully adhered to, but it is magical to hear it deployed with joyful abandon. TF

No Shape is a kind album, which is not to say that it’s particularly nice. It’s kind in the way that kindness has to be understood in 2017: furious, passionate, jumping from wild claim to extravagant promise, trying its best to be good when everything around it seems bad. Hadreas slips from promising a young boy wearing a dress, “They’ll talk, give them every reason; for child, you walk just like love”, to sneering away his own haters: “If you need you can say a little prayer for me, baby, I’m already walking in the light”. The album creaks with synths, perfectly plucked out strings and great sweeping crescendos, and Hadreas’s own shining, shimmering voice rising above it all. In a dark political atmosphere, surrounded by turmoil and danger, Perfume Genius brings his own decadent light. MC







DJ Python Dulce Compañia Incienso

LCD Soundsystem American Dream DFA / Columbia

Richard Dawson Peasant Weird World

In a blur of heavy-lidded projects like DJ Wey and Deejay Xanax, Brian Piñeyro was leaving a trail of breadcrumbs that promised much and finally led to this stunning long player on Anthony Naples’ Proibito label. Piñeyro is vocal about the inspiration he draws from 90s reggaeton, and those crooked drums and crunchy samples are part of what gives his productions their charm, but it goes much deeper than that. Here, swooning, shimmering arpeggios and luscious pads position dembow rhythms amongst ambient and deep house tropes, making Dulce Compañia one of the most immersive album trips of the past 12 months. OW

There was a palpable sense of relief when American Dream slipped into action. Following the break-up of all break-ups and the subsequent cynicism surrounding the hasty reunion, it appeared that LCD Soundsystem hadn’t fucked it. In fact, James Murphy and co had delivered an utterly compelling comeback album. From the dark introspection of how do you sleep? and change yr mind to the wild meandering of emotional haircut and other voices, each song told a distinct story, and in the process added to one of modern music’s most engaging soap operas. For fans worldwide, the fact the band approached this comeback with an open heart and their energy intact was one of 2017’s greatest musical victories. TF

Set in the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Bryneich, the concept behind Richard Dawson’s sixth solo album wasn’t the lightest to consume. Latticed with archaic delicacies and allegorical tales of a microcosmic medieval community, Peasant is vast in metaphorical scope. And yet, for all its depth, there is a restless energy to the Newcastle songwriter’s delivery which makes for exhilarating listening. With its amalgam of acoustic rattling, unhinged vocals and cluttering percussion, Peasants portmanteau-style fabling of wenches, weavers and wizardry is a dense world to lose yourself in. TW

Alice Coltrane World Spirituality Classics 1: The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda Luaka Bop




Various artists Mono No Aware PAN

Kendrick Lamar DAMN. Top Dawg / Aftermath / Interscope

Octo Octa Where Are We Going? Honey Soundsystem

PAN's masterstroke of a compilation pooled together a new school of experimental artists, tempering their harsher instincts and encouraging them to set loose drifting dopamine clouds of blissed-out ambient. Tracks like Flora Yin-Wong's Lugere and Yves Tumor's Limerence fell closer to the starchy, skygazing fretwork of The Durutti Column than any mechanised take on beatless music. Sky H1 and Pan Daijing turned in respective career bests. The chilly, distant ghost of ambient past was thawed and replaced with a tactile, emotional core. Textures hang, strings swoop, voices whisper, bodies quake, and throughout, Mono No Aware feels like a living, breathing thing. GS

2017 felt like a strange year for Kendrick Lamar to look inward. As one of the most significant and eloquent political voices of his generation, some fans were waiting for a brutal, detailed dissection of the turbulent times we live in. But for the most part, Kendrick repositioned his gaze from the political to the personal and gave us DAMN. Nevertheless, this is still an extraordinarily powerful piece of work laced with themes of resilience, self-discovery faith and joy. From the expansive pop sensibilities of LOYALTY. and LOVE. to the Steve Lacyassisted wooziness of PRIDE. and the hookless autobiographical storytelling of closer DUCKWORTH. – it’s Kendrick at his most musically agile. While To Pimp a Butterfly sprawled and stretched under the weight of the world, DAMN. went back to basics to exercise his rejuvenate his personal (and, therefore, political?) strength. DH

“I’m actually happy with how I look and how I am in the world now,” said Maya Bouldry-Morrison earlier this year. “That gave me strength to put myself out more.” The release of Bouldry-Morrison’s fourth album, Where Are We Going?, marked both the end of a hiatus for the artist known as Octo Octa, and the beginning of her public life as a visible transgender artist. With nods to rave nostalgia and heartfelt downtempo arrangements, Where Are We Going? still warmly embraced Octo Octa’s signature melodic take on classicist dance music, and consequently feels like the natural descendant of the influence of one of BouldryMorrison’s heroes, DJ Sprinkles. A vital account of personal growth. CK


After the death of her husband John Coltrane, in 1967, Alice Coltrane is said to have endured a period of trial. She lost weight, couldn’t sleep and succumbed to fevered hallucinations of speaking trees and astral planes, what she later described as the sounds of “a planetary ether” which knocked her unconscious. Her personal redemption as a Hindu swamini renamed Turiyasangitananda, and the music that emerged with it, remains a powerful testament to loss and transformation. World Spirituality Classics 1 was collected from tapes she recorded during the years 1982 and 1995, compositions she shared privately within her spiritual community in California. Here she imbued hope with tragedy, placing the synthesisers and organs of her jazz background alongside Vedic devotional songs of India and Nepal. Coltrane’s vocals often bear the weight of residual sadness – it is deep and noble, evidently drawn from earthly pain as much as it is celestial awakening. 10 years after her own untimely death, with World Spirituality Classics 1 Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda was still singing to the universe. AH






SZA Ctrl Top Dawg / RCA

Fever Ray Plunge Rabid / Mute

Lana Del Rey Lust for Life Polydor / Interscope

Arca Arca XL

When SZA announced the release of her debut studio album, no one knew quite what to expect. Her diverse back catalogue, which earned her a small-but-steady following, hinted towards various paths her sound could take. But when Ctrl finally arrived, the St. Louisborn 27-year-old exceeded our wildest expectations. Ctrl is an intimate project filled to the brim with messy and twisted anthems of love in all its forms. Arguably this year’s RnB breakthrough star, SZA provided an essential soundtrack for 2017 with tales of dysfunctionally functional polyamorous set-ups, the inevitable terror of ageing and the ever-growing Men Are Trash sentiments plaguing the discontented worldwide. Her raw and heartfelt vocals glide across the tracks sweetly while the lyrics pack a punch of sincerity. The candour with which she lays her cards on the table through songs like Supermodel, Normal Girl and The Weekend touched nerves beyond her core fans, in a time of political uncertainty and doublespeak. The record took SZA from a relative mystery even to her supporters, into absolute and vulnerable visibility. The album’s sun-soaked sound palette is weaved together with acoustic guitar, bells, light psychedelic flourishes and classic boom-bap textures. Carefullycurated rapper features from Travis Scott as well as Top Dawg labelmates Kendrick Lamar and Isaiah Rashad take us on excursions in the album’s narrative, whilst leaving no doubt that SZA herself is the main attraction. Somehow SZA was able to reinvigorate an audience – particularly an underappreciated black and female one – with fluctuating cadences, stellar vocals and relatable lyricism. Instead of forming a signature sound, she succeeded in creating a coherent world of her own truth. Ctrl is one of those records so intricately constructed that it could not lose a single song – it demands to be heard, skits and all, start to finish, in all its imperfect optimism. NK

A full eight years had elapsed between the first Fever Ray album and the surprise drop of Plunge. An ice age in album cycles but maybe, just maybe, even longer in politics. It’s not that Karen Dreijer’s extensive playbook of transgressive tactics didn’t feel vital back in 2009, but in 2017, the stakes feel so much higher. Feminism and queer theory, the philosophical underpinning of so much of Deijer’s work – both as Fever Ray and as one half of The Knife – is no longer the preserve of academia, but played out in wider spheres, on Twitter timelines, say, or public rest rooms. "Oh, I'm done lookin' / Now things can start happenin’,” she states in that uncanny intonation of hers on surprise single To the Moon and Back. The first Fever Ray album traced an interior world, hemmed in by domesticity and where sublime loneliness was encoded into obsessive details, a dishwasher tablet or a pot plant. Now, a seismic awakening has taken place, and visceral themes of desire, sex, shame and pain dominate; messy, kinky, and candid: “I want to run my fingers up your pussy,” she said, triumphant and utterly shocking. In the era of pussy hats and pussy grabs, the choice of words was telling. As if to underscore this newfound physicality, the music has become more vibrant, raunchy: Fever Ray’s warped synth pop transposed to an anxious register. It thrums and rattles, eddies and swirls – synths sound like buzzsaws or sirens. Drawing on contributions from collaborators old (Peder Mannerfelt) and new (techno producer Paula Temple, Principe’s Nidia, Tunisian artist Deena Abdelwahed), the result is a diversity of styles reflecting a plurality of emotional states or identity in flux. But even at its most playful or conflicted, Plunge pulsates with a kind of abject lust. In 2017, this unstoppering of such a lust – and what an unstoppering it was – took on a political potency. “Every time we fuck we win”, sings Dreijer on This Country, her elongated vowels twisting the knife in the heart of convention. This is queer desire, sharpened and weaponised. And while the Martin Falck-directed video for To the Moon and Back, in which Dreijer partakes in a piss-soaked BDSM tea party, part alt-drag, part blue-filtered horror flick, was profoundly subversive, perhaps the heart of the album can be distilled in one line in Part of Us: “One hand in yours and one hand in a tight fist.” Revelatory. Revolutionary. LB

When Lust for Life’s cover appeared back in April, Lana Del Rey’s beauty pageant smile was a subtle but symbolic gesture, hinting that she may have overcome the storm of controversy, nihilism and shitty men that has plagued her since 2012. Over the past few years, Lana hasn’t so much weathered that storm as stood in the eye of it. Following early criticism of her authenticity, Lana doubled down, releasing two records that took a swan dive into the luxurious darkness of her universe: Hollywood film scores dripping with drama; claustrophobic tales of tumultuous relationships. Just as the smile suggested, Lust for Life presented a shift in mood. After years of glamorous destruction, Lana began to clean up the mess. Her storytelling explored rich new depths: insular tales of loneliness and fame, hopeless infatuation and doe-eyed adoration are painted through layers of symbolism – secluded beaches, rotting peaches and the sleek muscle of a white Mustang. Optimism sounds utterly fabulous on album bookends Love and Get Free, which trace a departure from the lyrical darkness she inhabited and toward some otherworldly place. But, most strikingly, Lust For Life broke out of the solipsistic cocoon that is Lana Del Rey’s universe. Lana collaborated (a first) with artists like The Weeknd, ASAP Rocky, Playboi Carti to bring the contemporary cultural zeitgeist into the frame, while Stevie Nicks and Sean Ono Lennon helped take her retro glow to new dimensions. While generous lashings of American iconography remain (including nods to Woodstock, Charles Manson and the Hollywood Sign that only Lana could get away with), Lana's relationship to it has changed. Her take on America in turmoil asks difficult questions on Coachella – Woodstock in My Mind, addresses anxiety-inducing shifts in global conflict on When the World Was at War We Kept Dancing and secures solidarity with God Bless America - And All The Beautiful Women In It. These moments are certainly direct, but this is soft, affectionate protest music. It evokes emotion rather than demand revolution. Questions are asked but not answered. Hope is projected with an uncertainty we can all relate to on Change: “There's a change gonna come, I don't know where or when/ But whenever it does, we'll be here for it”. The soft-hued paradise that Lana hints at is still just slightly out of reach, both for us and for herself, as Lana strives for personal resolve across the album without ever quite getting there. In this way, Lust for Life is a complex, open-hearted, and human effort. A peep-hole look at a canonical artist so shrouded in illusion. The album in 2017 which saved our hearts from turning cold. AT

‘Quítame la piel de ayer.’ The first lyric we heard from Arca roughly translates from Spanish to English as “Take off my skin of yesterday”. Unveiled alongside the album’s announcement, and positioned as its opening track, Piel was the song that marked a significant new stage in Alejandro Ghersi’s artistic evolution. And at the time, it was a beautiful shock to hear his voice so clearly. At this point in 2017 Arca is widely recognised as a charismatic presence among the avant-garde. But even before he strutted into the spotlight, with kneehigh leather boots and a whip in hand, he’d already caused a ripple across contemporary music. His genreless, slippery instrumentals provided a much-needed burst of future shock during a time when conversations about electronic music were brimming with anxiety about a perceived lack of new ideas. Off the back of early releases, Ghersi was enlisted to work on Kanye West’s Yeezus and FKA twigs’ signature sound as well as the swirling soundscapes of Björk’s heartbreak epic Vulnicura. Arca’s studio albums Xen and Mutant – released in 2014 and 2015, respectively – saw him further explore rhythmic experimentation, textural intensity, and gender-subverting concepts. Now, Ghersi’s personality was in the limelight, and his star appeal had become clear. But in order to unlock the seminal work of art that was brewing inside him, there was still something he had to confront. The key was his voice. As a teenager, Ghersi had achieved moderate commercial success in his native Venezuela making pop music as Nuuro, but he was left emotionally traumatised after feeling he’d let his voice “betray” him by using female pronouns in his romantic lyrics. Even after his sexual and artistic liberation years later while living in New York, Ghersi only felt confident using his voice when heavily distorted and washed up in his restless audio collages. But after being gently encouraged by Björk, Ghersi found his voice again, choosing to sing the largely improvised lyrics of Arca in Spanish. “[It’s] the language my parents fought in and they got divorced in,” he explained. “The ultimate theatre of emotion, when things fall apart, for me isn’t English.” Having shed yesterday’s skin, on Arca Alejandro Ghersi finds himself emotionally naked. The album fluctuates between unrequited love and unsatiated lust, visceral pain and pleasure that’s both bodily and spiritual. On the delicate Anoche, Ghersi's mournful falsetto pines for a prospective lover who seems to have appeared in a dream. The devastatingly pretty Coraje is Ghersi at his most vulnerable, while Desafío summons the anxiety and joy of establishing a deep connection with someone in a rave. The album’s theatrical centrepiece is Revierie, where Ghersi conjures up a tornado of twisting strings, exploding distorted bass and clattering percussion. It climaxes with a pained, operatic vocal performance that – when paired with Jesse Kanda’s uncompromising video – presents Ghersi as both the bullfighter and the wounded matador, finding himself of both sides of the power struggle to satisfy his cardinal desires. Experimental music often risks the reputation of being difficult or indulgent. But it would be tragic to write off Arca as too obtuse. Although this album chronicles a journey that is specific to Alejandro Ghersi, its narrative of a painful, messy transformation is universal. Arca is one of those rare records you can turn to in the peak of an emotional emergency, and it sounds like nothing that was released before it. Let’s embellish it with the classic status it deserves. DR





12—17 MOTH Club Valette St London E8

Lanzarote #lanzaroteworks


Thursday 11 January


Friday 8 December

NAKED SIX Friday 12 January Wednesday 6 December

BAIO Saturday 9 December



The Waiting Room 175 Stoke Newington High St N16

Tuesday 12 December

CANSHAKER PI Thursday 14 December

MADONNATRON Saturday 16 December

Saturday 16 December

DUTCH UNCLES Tuesday 19 December

JAMES YORKSTON Wednesday 24 January


Shacklewell Arms 71 Shacklewell Lane London E8

Wednesday 6 December

ABATTOIR BLUES Thursday 7 December

FRAUDS Friday 8 December

RAMZI Saturday 9 December

ANASTASIA KRISTENSEN Wednesday 13 December Wednesday 6 December


TEMPESST Thursday 14 December Thursday 7 December


HORSEFIGHT Saturday 16 December Friday 8 December



PARADISE BIRD Thursday 21 December

DEATH HAGS (DTCV) Tuesday 12 Jan


The Montague Arms 289 Queen’s Rd London SE14 Friday 8 December

FAMOUS Wednesday 13 December

CAVES Thursday 14 December


Sunday 31 December Tuesday 12 December



Friday 15 December


Thursday 25 January Thursday 14 December

MEATRAFFLE Friday 15 December

ORB Saturday 16 December



Tuesday 19 December


The Lock Tavern 35 Chalk Farm Rd London NW1 hursday 7 December


Wednesday 20 December

BYRON Sunday 31 December


Tracks of the Year 2017

Words: Theo Kotz, Duncan Harrison, Davy Reed, Anna Tehabsim, Xavier Boucherat, Nathan Ma, Oli Warwick, Gunseli Yalcinkaya, Josh Baines, Hamda Issa-Salwe, Sammy Jones TRACKS








Karen Gwyer The Workers Are On Strike Don’t Be Afraid

Miguel Skywalker ft. Travis Scott ByStorm / RCA

KMD True Lightyears Adult Swim

E.M.M.A. Bijoux de Diamants Astral Plane

Drake KMT ft. Giggs OVO / Young Monday

Giant Swan Celebrate The Last 30 Years Of Human Ego Timedance

Karen Gwyer’s 2017 album Rembo pushes at techno’s boundaries but retains the melodic nous that Detroit’s techno titans always had in spades. Track titles like this nod to the old industrial powerhouse, as does the chaotic melody of standout track The Workers Are On Strike, which crashes like 8-bit waves on its spluttering beat, elevating a fine high-tempo workout into a peak-time apogee, a stonecold ‘what is this?’ moment on the dancefloor. TK

Miguel has a remarkable vocal range, so it’s unusual that his comeback single largely sticks to one fairly basic phrase. But it’s the water-clear simplicity of Skywalker which makes it so exquisite. It’s still got all the cornball hallmarks of a Miguel classic (he rhymes “I don’t lose” with “Tom Cruise”) but there’s a direct quality to the track which feels natural. The drifting bass and oscillating topline synth bring Miguel’s timeless swagger into focus. DH

DOOM was shady this year. Various projects were announced, but his Missing Notebook Rhymes singles series was abruptly deleted, only leaving only the debris of YouTube rips behind. True Lightyears – a collab between the masked enigma and Jay Electronica – was presented as the comeback track from DOOM’s golden era group KMD. Atop flamenco guitars and a melodic whistle lead, these two elusive poets commemorated their lifelong love of wordplay. A diamond in the rubble. DR

Inspired by the 1932 jewellery collection for which Coco Chanel designed diamonds shaped like stars, this turn by London-based producer E.M.M.A certainly kept its gaze stratospheric. The luxuriously off-kilter track's wistful melody floats and twinkles like sunlight piercing through clouds. An underrated track with all the cold sophistication of something Kanye might rap over if he picked up on weightless grime. AT

For better or worse, 2017 was the year of the rap gig moshpit, and KMT opened a circle in the crowd quicker than any other track. Giggs’s unhurried delivery and deadpan humour may have confounded American Twitter users, but there was solid proof of anthem status in the staggering streaming stats and the sight of a thousand people running into each other. Ready for it? Batman – duh-nuh-nuh-duh-nuh! DR

Giant Swan gave us a giant belter this year with Celebrate… – an unflinching cut of sheer industrial energy where chopped-up vocals are barked over an uproarious din of razor-wire synths, metallic clatter and blown-out kicks. In recent years the ‘punks-do-techno’ narrative has arguably grown a little tired, but the Bristol-based duo (who make up half of noiserock outfit The Naturals) have transcended this simply by being among the best to ever do it. XB







Iamddb Shade Union IV

Bullion Blue Pedro The Trilogy Tapes

Mabel Finders Keepers ft. Kojo Funds Polydor

Minor Science Volumes The Trilogy Tapes

Gorillaz Ascension ft. Vince Staples Parlaphone / Warner Bros.

Sundan Archives Come Meh Way Stones Throw

Throwing shade, uber uber everywhere, bad bishes, rolling triplets… On the face of it, Shade could be one of any number of bangers in the vast sea of post-trap hiphop. But with a haunting, spectral edge to her jazz-influenced vocals and a Manchester accent dropping in and out of sounds so rooted in the US, with Shade IAMDDB still stood out. A slick banger from one of the UK’s most promising artists. TK

Blue Pedro remains a terrible idea on paper: a thoroughly paint-bynumbers house cut driven by a shanty-like melody which gives a painfully knowing nod to the Blue Peter theme. But just listen to how sweetly those guitars warble over the warm synths, the dreamy chords, the breezy beat – these elements all combine to create an impossibly feel-good affair which none but the truly humourless will fail to appreciate, even if it takes two or three listens. XB

Mabel’s regal RnB oeuvre was finally nurtured to fruition this year. Shared between the Spring’s Bedroom EP and Ivy to Rose this autumn, Finders Keepers eased its way into a high spot on the charts. The single is breezy, balmy and arguably boasts the most infectious hook of the year, with the young chanteuse coolly reminding her suitor: “It don’t need to be no deeper/ It’s finders keepers”. NM

For the past three years, Angus Finlayson has been exploring the ill-defined region of contemporary dance music that favours fulsome bass and crooked rhythms. Volumes raised the bar. The airy beauty of the pads and keys on the lead into the track are a marvel on their own, while the mid-section bass drum throb is dancefloor manna. With a deft flick of the wrist said bass tone ramps up to a bloated, stuttering snarl that never fails to shock the dance. OW

Tearing open the gates to one of the biggest albums of the year, Ascension saw Vince Staples bring some of his most politicallycharged bars against the technicolor backing of Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett’s returning cartoon heroes. Capturing the urgent essence of the dystopia which the album was framed around, Staples’ intensely vivid final verse felt all the more important given the scale of the audience it would be reaching. A call-to-arms for the imagined apocalypse. DH

Brittany Denise Parks is a selftaught musician from LA whose songs feature a sleek combination of violin playing inspired by Sudanese fiddlers and RnB beats. On Come Meh Way, Parks' violin riffs interlock with tambourine-led percussion. Digital tools – loops, keys and distortion – amplify the quickfire arpeggios which, along with her barely-singing vocal style, contribute to the unusual sound palette which formed one of of the most arresting tracks of the year. GY







21 Savage, Offet & Metro Boomin Ghostface Killers ft. Travis Scott Slaughter Gang / Epic

Nathan Fake Degreelesness (Overmono rmx) Ninja Tune

TG Millian & Naira Marley & Blanco Money On The Road R.E.M.I. Recordings

Future Mask Off A1 / Freebandz / Epic

Stormzy First Things First #Merky / Warner

Peder Mannefelt + Hodge All My Love Peder Mannefelt PMHO001

There's a trend of rappers dropping projects on Halloween. With church bells and eerie organs, Ghostface Killers – the opener from this Atlanta dream team’s collaborative LP Without Warning – explores the intersection between horror movie creepiness and the very real darkness of the trap lifestyle. “Do you wanna take a ride with the coroner today?”, 21 Savage asks with stone-faced hostility. A chilling classic with replay value that lasted well beyond 31 October. DR

NathanFakemightbeNorfolk'spremier export.BernardMatthewsisdead,and Alan Partridge doesn't exist. QI is crap, so that's Stephen Fry disqualified. So FakesitsprettyatthetopoftheNorfolk tree. Overmono headed deep into the dark heart of Fake's country, coming back with this raucous bit of beatific techno-not-technothatsinksintomusicalquicksand,onlytopullitselfoutofthe mireandcrosstheclubfinishlinewitha massive smile on its face. Bootiful, as dear old Bernard might have said. JB

TG Millian and Blanco are primarily known as members of South London drill collective Harlem Spartans, but here they switched things up to take on the Afrowave vibe alongside Naira Marley, who provides cheeky bars, wavy melodies plus his Pidgin lingo and Nigerian twang. Money On The Road was for both the road and the clubs, with quotables, a catchy hook and just the right amount of crud. HIS

Returning after a three-month hiatus (practically a lifetime in Future years given his prolific work rate), Future sandwiched Mask Off in the middle of his eponymous album at the start of the year. From the moment the snaky flutes seep into the mix, you’re hooked. And like all his best bangers, there’s a chilling sadness to it. Future’s sedated delivery rolls across Metro Boomin’s addictive production – a formulawhichremainsunparalleled.DH

By the time Gang Signs & Prayer dropped Stormzy was on the precipice of stardom, but dark forces were conspiring against him. First Things First was the sound of Stormz clenching his fists and refusing to be taken down by bitter rivals, ignorant radio stations, racist nightclubs and the devil himself. Echoing Dizzee Rascal’s Sittin Ere, on First Things First Stormzy also confirmed his battle with depression – demolishing the stigma to start a thousand important conversations among his young fans. A seminal intro. DR

The world's changing quickly – we have unicorn bagels and an escalated threat of impending nuclear war now! – and we need music that reflects just how fast everything moves today. Handily, historians of the near-future will be able to listen to this absurdly turbo-charged slab of OTT, hoover-rave breakbeat techno-throb and go, "Ah yes, that was the year the world went completely fucking insane. Brilliant." JB







Playboi Carti Magnolia AWGE / Interscope

Future Islands Shadows ft. Debbie Harry 4AD

Cardi B Bodak Yellow Atlantic

Lil Uzi Vert XO Tour Life Generation Now / Atlantic

Playboi Carti probably wouldn’t take offence if you accused him of style over substance. The Atlanta fashionista’s charisma seems effortless, and his delivery is carefree. Having once bragged about having star appeal without even releasing a full-length project, Young Carti eventually found the perfect sound via producer Pi’erre Bourne – who crafted colourful, featherweight beats for Carti to bounce his restless ad-libs off. From the self-titled mixtape, Magnolia was the hit. With minimal syllables and choppy assonance, in three minutes Carti detailed the dizzying ride of hedonistic crime spree in New York, nodding to the city’s 2015 Milly Rock dance craze as a gesture of respect. Magnolia sounded like Playboi Carti was hardly trying, and millions of us loved it. DR

As the penultimate song of Future Islands’ album The Far Field, this synth-powered duet paired two iconic voices. Both Samuel T Herring and Debbie Harry have reputations that precede them, but on this they’re presented in their ultimate forms: as incredibly engaging and idiosyncratic vocalists. Each performer allows the other's voice room to dance around their own. There is no competition here – you can almost sense the mutual respect in the air. As the climax approaches, the song becomes triumphant and theatrical, as both artists push themselves to the limit, before fading down into a quiet glory. Shadows is the past and present of indie rock meeting, and it sounds exultant. SJ

There’s only a handful of people you can really say have won 2017, and Cardi B – the “regular, degular, shmegular girl from the Bronx” – is one of them. Having climbed the ranks from internet personality to reality TV star and further onto certified platinum recording artist, she’s won herself the title of the new Princess of Rap with Bodak Yellow her crown jewel. Bodak Yellow is an unapologetic true gyal anthem that’ll go down in the books much like the Spice Girls’ Wannabe, Christina Aguilera and Lil Kim's Can't Hold Us Down or Beyoncé's Single Ladies. Sorry not sorry to all the guys the ladies deafened in the club while screaming along at the top of our lungs. HIS

We’ll look back at XO Tour Llif3 as one of the defining rap tracks of 2017. But at its heart, it’s an emo standard: a swan song, a final anthem on excess and desperation and exhaustion, but one packaged over a dark, futurefacing trap production cut by a clean flute sample that leans into the same four-note sequence like a dreamy ambulance. “I don’t really care if you cry…” Lil Uzi Vert declared. “Push me to the edge/ all my friends are dead”. The track stretches Uzi’s voice to its limits, with the Philly artist almost belting the chorus in that pained wail that Future and Young Thug crafted before him. It’s an unusual juxtaposition: the cracks in Uzi’s voice, the overwrought meditations. If Lil Uzi Vert is in the Class of Soundcloud, the he’s got one hand on the valedictorian’s cap. NM




King Krule Dum Surfer True Panther / XL

Objekt Theme from Q Objekt

J Hus Did You See Black Butter / Epic

King Krule’s album The Ooz was variously conceived as: a concept album about family; seduction ammo a la his beloved Sade; and a collection of sleazy punk. Dum Surfer probably leans to the latter, but the single manages to incorporate at least part of all three. It works as a good summation of King Krule as an entity: snarling braggadocio, aimless paranoia, fright, selfdeprecation and tenderness are all plunged into the sludgy mixture. Bookended by ghoulish groans, with its bright and beachy guitar solo among the mire, the song shows a more relaxed Archy Marshall, at ease with humour as he roughly rhymes his way through a tale of low-lit romance, trash music and puke on the pavement. Eventually, as the submerged call and brattish response seeps into your brain, you’re left with one of the most intoxicating tunes of the year. TK

Few, if any, records sounded quite so enamoured with the idea of music itself this year as TJ Hertz's dizzyingly fun, deliriously deep club anthem. Theme from Q, easily the most straightforwardly enjoyable Objekt production to date, takes a lugubriously slow rhythm track, sprinkles it with a giddy trill of notes that sound like every beefy mid-90s NYC house tune you've ever loved blurred into one gorgeous earworm, and then slathers the lot in a heavy blanket of bass. It feels designed purely with pleasure in mind, and it was rinsed for a reason. This is a record which reminds you that for all the discourse around club culture, all the afterparty talk about the relationship between neoliberalism, yoga and Jeremy Underground’s hotel preferences, sometimes the best thing about dance music is that it makes you want to dance. JB

When Jae5 – J Hus’ longtime producer and the creator of his lithe, vibrant sound – was 10 years old, his parents moved him from London to Ghana. His brother had a PC and he got hold of FruityLoops. After school every day, he’d spend hours on the program playing around and trying to find a groove. Absorbing the sounds of his environment and learning a craft, he eventually found a formula which bloomed when he was back in London and started working with J Hus. Then, in March 2017, Hus shared Did You See – the lead single from his debut album and an expertly produced, glimmering pop song which harnessed the twin energies of London’s DIY revolution and the innately celebratory spirit of Afrobeats. Without warning, he stole the summer. The song is custom built for car speakers, windows down. The four-note steel drum intro delivers a universal magic – it’s an alchemy unique to J Hus and Jae5, unique to their experience and to this moment in time. This is effortless musical chemistry, and an instant classic that stays with you long after that white Mercedes glides into the distance. DH



EPs of the Year 2017

Words: Tomas Fraser, Duncan Harrison, Gabriel Szatan, Anna Tehabsim, Theo Kotz, Tom Watson, Xavier Boucherat, Neil Kulkarni




Capo Lee Capo The Champ Self-released

Powder H Cocktail d’Amore

Capo Lee enjoyed another dominant year on mic, peppering the grime landscape with a slew of releases and features including link-ups with Safone and long-time vibe supplier, Sir Spyro. His second EP of the year, Capo The Champ, landed as an end-of-year toast to said progression, hoovering up instrumentals from some of his favourite OG producers; J Beatz, Spyro, Silencer, and taking them to the cleaners. His relaxed, on-butoff beat flow is still a calling card, although Capo The Champ sees him bring more gloss to his hook-writing game and more depth to his lyricism. While there’s a palpable anger and grit in certain tracks (Dream, Frontin, D Double E collab Ching Bang Wallah), this is the North London MC’s most reflective record yet. One of the year's essential grime releases. TF

Powder's H was born of a dancefloor revelation. Swept up in Berlin's Cocktail D'Amour party, the rising Japanese producer paid the carnal atmosphere of Discodromo's night forward into her best release yet. If the cover art doesn't sell you, the elastic and durable cuts on offer should. The four H tracks make up a set of subtle, slinky, springy groovers; a reduction of house music to its pleasure-centre core. GS






Yaeji Yaeji Godmode

Dave Game Over Self-Released

Fatima al Qadiri Shaneera Hyperdub

Carla dal Forno The Garden Blackest Ever Black

For those outside of Brooklyn, it seemed like Yaeji came out of nowhere this year. EP2's Drink I'm Sippin On swept through the internet, racking up 3.5 million views YouTube and hurtling the DJ and producer out of obscurity. Its success might be due to the strangely addictive chorus, where Yaeji repeats the phrase 'it's not that' in Korean – hinting at identity, mystery, and self-absurdity, qualities explored from different angles across EP2. As the EP's themes run from introspection at the club to life-giving bangers, what propels Yaeji miles ahead of other producers of smokey, hip-hop influenced house music is her deployment of vocals across a subtly disaffected sound, switching from clubfloor call-outs to angular Korean sung in whispers, all with a voice that's softly defiant. AT

If Dave’s Question Time – containing some of the most eloquent political raps ever aired via mainstream radio – demonstrated his remarkable wisdom as a teenager, then the Game Over EP which followed it proved his fast-developing skill and versatility as a musician. Attitude and the effervescent MoStack collaboration No Words both showcase his Drake-like ear for ear-worm hooks and serene melodies. Then Question Time and How I Met My Ex show just how accomplished a lyricist he’s becoming and how assured he sounds of his own perspective. The latter might come across a tad cheesy to cynical listeners, but hearing a 19-year-old tell such an honest story of relationships in the age of subtweets against a piano-part which he played himself is something that we should celebrate. A confident warm-up from perhaps the country’s most promising young rapper. DH

There’s often a politically-loaded conceptual arc to Fatima Al Qadiri’s projects. With Shaneera, Al Qadiri assumed the role of her self-prescribed “evil extreme femme alter-ego;” – who appears heavily made up on cover art. The EP’s title refers to an English mispronunciation of ‘shanee’a’ – the Arabic word meaning ‘nefarious’, ‘foul’ and other such poisonous terms which has been reappropriated by queer communities in Al Qadiri’s native Kuwait to describe a powerful, gender-defying queen. Over five tracks, Al Qadiri aligns leftfield grime with traditional aspects of Khaleeji music to create an intense and original sound caked in theatrics and pomp. Shaneera was a release which generated intrigue with its daring concept, and inspired adrenaline with its relentless force. TW

For The Garden, Blackest Ever Black patron Carla dal Forno expanded on the core traits of her 2016 LP You Know What It’s Like. Steeped in lo-fi synth arrangements and propelled by prowling bass, here dal Forno broods over tautening relationships and human interactions with her ghostly vocals. Many artists channel a similar sense of melancholic dread, but few can match dal Forno’s astute understanding of nocturnal moods. And while The Garden EP is a fleeting experience, dal Forno’s lush gothic environs provide infinite moments of explicit ecstasy. TW





Omo Frenchie D.I.T.D. Cotch International

Lanark Artefax Whities 011 Whities

Call Super + Beatrice Dillon Fluo / Inkjet Hessle Ausio

Kamasi Washington Harmony of Difference Young Turks

Among the UK’s Afrobeats wave is Peckham-based artist Omo Frenchie, who’d racked up considerable YouTube numbers on tracks like Cele (with Naira Marley) and Makelele before dropping the accomplished D.I.T.D EP this year via new label Cotch International. Frenchie was born in Congo but moved to London as a baby. Having learnt French and Lingala as a means to connect with the country of his birth, he’s known to drop bars in those languages, and on D.I.T.D. he flexed his musical versatility: fluctuating between glowing dancehall on Chosen, four-to-the-floor beats on Bêtis and Telema, and sunset trap on the excellent Sauce featuring Suspect, whose yappy flow helped make the track an EP standout. Records blending styles from the UK and the African continent soundtracked London this summer, and while D.I.T.D. wasn't the most commercial to do so, it was potentially among the best. TK

Whites 11 was a serious shot across the bow from young Glaswegian Calum McRae. In typical Whities fashion, the release came with standout artwork from Alex McCullough, this time a fully realised comic book saga about storm chasers. Which made sense twice over: the towering grandeur of Touch Absence swept through the summer, rinsed by everyone from Aphex Twin and Björk-sized stars to underground heroes like Objekt and Vladimir Ivkovic. But the EP had more to offer than its lead single. With two twin dancefloor tornadoes bookended by cinematic and finely-textured beatless pieces, McRae created his own world in 18 minutes. GS

For its 31st release, the ever intrepid Hessle Audio tapped two of today’s most adventurous figures in techno for a collaboration. Unsurprisingly, the results were sublime. Beat-driven Inkjet’s percussion had a deep, aquatic quality which gave it the feel of a recording made in a diving bell, outside of which we could hear alien textures and otherworldly sounds arriving from far away. On the B-side is Fluo, which began in a more ruminative mood with a mournful organ rumbling beneath wispy hi-hats. Over the course of eight minutes it slowly builds momentum, strained blasts of woodwind emerging, and elements of the piece near collapsing beneath their own weight as if they were caught up in gorgeous dub delay. XB

Originally premiered as part of the Whitney Museum of American Art 2017 Biennial, Harmony Of Difference is a six-part suite of startlingly suggestive music that explores counterpoint not just as a musical concept, but as ‘the art of balancing similarity and difference to create harmony’. You shouldn’t need prodding to realise the deeper significances Kamasi Washington is aiming to draw out of the counterpoint idea – politically and socially, this music feels needed right now. At no point however does Harmony of Difference sound hectoring or preachy – it’s a sublimely seductive, instantaneous delight from start to finish. The EP’s highlight Truth takes all the melodic ideas expressed in the other five tracks and melds them into 13 minutes of wonder. So confident does Kamasi’s band sound with the music they’re creating and, crucially, the ideas they’re coalescing, that this EP emerges not just as a coherent statement but a necessary statement of healing, beauty and honesty for an America in dire need of all three. Celebratory, compassionate and arguably Kamasi Washington’s best work yet. NK



Films of the Year 2017

Words: Josh Winning, Joseph Walsh, Gunseli Yalcinkaya, Sirin Kale, Duncan Harrison, Louise Brailey, Joseph Walsh, Tamsyn Black, Francis Blagburn




The Florida Project dir: Sean Baker Starring: Brooklynn Prince, Bria Vinaite, Willem Dafoe

Blade Runner 2049 dir: Denis Villeneuve Starring: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas

Following the success of 2015’s iphone-shot Tangerine, director Sean Baker turned to a different marginalised community, the “hidden homeless” eking out their existences in shitty extended-stay motels. Precocious six-year-old Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) lives at the Magic Castle motel with her mum Halley (Bria Vinaite), a struggling single mother barely out of childhood herself. Halley scrapes by, unable to get a job and often late with the rent, before eventually turning to darker measures. Unfortunately it’s a familiar story, but Baker’s depiction of their lives is a visual feast full of joy, a bubblegum saturation of childish wonder and naughty behaviour played out in the back corridors and stairwells of places no one cares about. Exceptional performances from Vinaite (a modern day insta-Cinderella story after Baker discovered her via her posts on the app), Prince and Dafoe aside, what makes The Florida Project unmissable is the brutal authenticity of the characters' relationships and quiet daily battles. As Baker himself says: “It’s a fictional film, but what it’s based on happens all the time.” TB

Anxiety was always going to run high over a sequel to Blade Runner. Thankfully, director Denis Villeneuve offered up a sci-fi film of staggering grandeur and beauty, which pays homage to the original yet is never beholden to Ridley Scott’s 1982 bar-setting work. Just as in Scott’s original, Villeneuve engages with philosophical questions, asking whether machines might have ghosts knocking around in their shells. At the centre of the story is K (Ryan Gosling), a blade runner who has become uneasy with his work retiring rogue ‘skinjobs’. He finds solace in his holographic girlfriend, Joi (Ana de Armas), and, in delicately rendered scenes, Villeneuve expands on the idea of digital intimacy first explored in Spike Jonze’s Her. It’s these moments that form the emotional and intellectual core of the movie. But as much as the film is about existential themes, it’s also one that’s designed to inspire awe – the blazing oranges and rich blues that make up the palette of the film sear into your eyes. It’s a startling reminder that even in today’s cinema, where CGI spectacles are commonplace, big budget films can produce remarkable works of art. JW






A Ghost Story dir: David Lowery Starring: Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara

Dunkirk dir: Christopher Nolan Starring: Fionn Whitehead, Barry Keoghan, Mark Rylance

Get Out dir: Jordan Peele Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford

Raw dir: Julia Ducournau Starring: Garance Marillier, Ella Rumpf, Rabah Naït Oufella

A Ghost Story opened with a quote from Virginia Woolf’s A Haunted House: “Whatever hour you woke, there was a door shutting”. David Lowery’s extraordinary work, like Woolf, exploded ideas of time, and particularly, those personal hauntings that tug at the threads of the past: memories. The depiction of a ghost was much-discussed upon release – just a white sheet with eyeholes – but around this naive, curiously pathetic symbol swirled expansive themes studded with emotional sucker punches. Some found the pacing infuriating (Lowry cited Asian ‘slow cinema’ directors like Tsai Ming-liang as inspiration), but the the audience was always implicated in the meditation: decades pass in a jump cut or else minutes stretch on forever, as is the case where we’re condemned to watch Rooney Mara eat an entire pie in one, unbroken, take. Sure, A Ghost Story has a tendency towards an almost cosmic pretentiousness, but Lowery channelled a sublime charge from human anxieties about being alone – or worse, forgotten. After all, what could be scarier than that. LB

While many films about war centre around the tension between the soldier and home, Dunkirk is based solely on the battlefield. A story of suffering and survival, writer-director Christopher Nolan focuses on the physicality of war and those at its centre. Based on Operation Dynamo, a seemingly impossible rescue mission that took place on the French port of Dunkirk, where 400,000 allied soldiers were seized by the Germans, the film is divided into three parts: land, sea and air. Structural devices and varying timelines contribute to the all-encompassing intensity, and Nolan laces each of these lived experiences and moment-to-moment heroisms with Memento level artistry. Large format shots mean that details emerge in great scale, while the limited-dialogue script highlights moments of tension – for instance, cries for help and barking orders. Together with a devastating score by Han Zimmer, Dunkirk is one of this year's must-see releases.  GY

The Golden Globes got into some hot water towards the end of the year for categorising Jordan Peele’s 2017-defining directorial debut Get Out as a comedy. Sure, there are funny parts. Peele employed archetypal thriller hallmarks to tell the story of an African American man who travels upstate to meet his white girlfriend’s apparently liberal parents before discovering a sinister truth which lay beneath their overattentiveness. It was a smart, amusing subversion of a common occurrence. But there’s a harrowing realism in Daniel Kaluuya’s performance in the lead role which imbues the story with a chilling authenticity. Littered with easter egg metaphors and subtle nods to ongoing social issues, Get Out is a gripping social critique which made audiences unsettled on a number of levels. As Peele tweeted in the midst of the Golden Globes controversy, “Get Out is a documentary.” DH

Raw tells the story of Justine, played by newcomer Garance Marillier, a vegetarian veterinary student who discovers a taste for human flesh. But Raw is about so much more than that: it’s a fucked­up coming of age film set in an amoral adult-free world, where teenagers roam free and people get away with literal murder. Visually, it’s hugely arresting – the vet school is housed in a sprawling, brutalist building. By day everything seems stark and clinical, by night it’s transformed into a fearful place where teens dance together in mortuaries turned into improvised nightclubs. Weirdly, cannibalism aside, Raw’s depiction of sisterly dynamics was extremely relatable. Justine and her older sister Alexia, a fellow student, fight, fall out, wax each other with gruesome results, and generally behave like sisters around the world do – with a mixture of boundless love and boundless rage. It’s almost enough to make you want to gnaw off your own finger. Expect big things from Julia Ducournau, a terrifyingly smart, talented young female director. SK





Mother! dir: Darren Aronofsky Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris

The Killing Of A Sacred Deer dir: Yorgos Lanthimos Starring: Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, Barry Keoghan

Call Me By Your Name dir: Luca Guadagnino Starring: Armie Hammer, Timothée Chalamet, Michael Stuhlbarg

Moonlight dir: Barry Jenkins Starring: Ashton Sanders, Naomie Harris, Mahershala Ali

Set within the confines of a labyrinthine Victorian house, Mother! introduced the audience to an unnamed couple, played by Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem. Bardem’s ‘Him’ was the archetype of a tortured artist – a once-famed poet suffering from writers’ block. Lawrence was the homemaker whose seemingly sole purpose is the care of her partner. In a succession of events that drew parallels to the biblical Fall, Aronofsky’s characters were thrown into a maelstrom of Antichrist proportions. Active participation remains essential on the part of the viewer to make sense of what unfolds, which is perhaps why Mother! received such a polarising response from audiences and critics alike. Many will draw obvious parallels between Bardem's character and the Old Testament God, while others might see it as a parable of artistic obsession. However you choose to make sense of Mother!, in Aronofsky's apocalyptic vision – where society has become spectacle and celebrity worship is one and the same as religion – everything is futile. GY

Loosely based on Euripides’ Iphigenia in Aulis, the sixth feature from Yorgos Lanthimos is one of the most remarkable films of the year. An eerie, comedic horror that unsettles from the opening scenes. The ominous tone is, in part, due to the work of Thimios Bakatakis, whose cinematography opts for unconventional angles. This off-kilter world is accentuated by dread-inducing use of works by György Ligeti and Sofia Gubaidulina, which, as thunderously as the music appears, dissipates into thronging hums, carefully crafted by sound designer Johnnie Burn. Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman offer up career highlights, but it is newcomer Barry Keoghan that astounds as Martin, being at once both charming and malignant as he enacts his vengeful plot on an unsuspecting suburban family. Unlike The Lobster, here Lanthimos is wrestling with darker material, and it suits him, echoing the macabre nature of earlier works like Alps and Dogtooth. Like Keoghan’s Martin, The Killing of a Sacred Deer is wonderful wicked, triggering riotous laughter one minute, only for you to recoil in horror the next. JW

Breathlessly romantic, infused with the fuzzy warmth of summers past, and starring a never-sexier Armie Hammer, Luca Guadagnino’s sun-kissed book adaptation is the most masterful and memorable film of 2017. Set in 1983, it stars Hammer as an American student who goes to stay with a professor and his family “somewhere in northern Italy”, where he attracts the attention of 17-year-old prodigy Elio (Timothée Chalamet). As the pair’s mutual attraction grows, Guadagnino’s unshowy camerawork draws us into one of the year’s most affectingly down-played romances. With a soundtrack to die for (Sufjan Stevens’ Visions of Gideon and Love My Way by The Psychedelic Furs are beautifully deployed), plus a captivating turn by Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name is joyfully emotional without ever spilling into sentimentality. In a stellar year for LGBTQ+ cinema, Call Me by Your Name is an evocative, wrenching portrait of young love that also involves a scene involving a peach you’ll never forget… JW

As the coming-of-age story of a gay man of colour in America, Moonlight was both a significant social commentary and a personal portrait of human desire. The twin sides of the film – the social and the personal – coalesce into an overwhelmingly beautiful story, executed perfectly with astounding performances and the confident, slow pace of Barry Jenkins’ Oscar-winning direction. Moonlight is a film about sexuality, but its expression is mostly gestural. In one of the only direct depictions of open sexual expression, the audience’s view is the image of a lover’s hand cradling protagonist Chiron’s head. This simple gesture is typical of a film that excels through plain but powerful imagery both visually and in dialogue. Chiron says at one point that he cries so much he feels he could turn to drops, and it's an idea that reoccurs throughout; in the ocean, in bathwater, in ice in the sink. But the film ends with Chiron staring out into the ocean, with water transmuted from an image of loneliness into one of openness and liberation. LC



Class of 2017

Helena Hauff


Hamburg's purveyor of dark forces for the dancefloor

LA-based jazz surrealist

A personal highlight of 2017: Definitely puking up all over the backstage five minutes before I was on at Brickworks Nottingham. I ate something that disagreed with me and felt sick during my whole set. Brilliant! The best and worst things about music culture in 2017: The worst thing is not being able to smoke in clubs outside Germany. Half of the people disappear outside all of the time. Be careful, they are gonna ban drinking next. Best thing is people are still well up for a night out dancing to banging music. The year's best clubbing experience: Playing at Closer Kiev, what a fantastic club! Got a few presents from people in the crowd as well, like flowers and a little toy kitty.  


The 2017 releases which never left my record bag: Norwell – ODD EP Cassegrain – Trappist (The Mover Remix) Umwelt – Slave To The Rave

Favourite song this year? Bodak Yellow. We all want to see Cardi B win. She's come from nothing to something in a real way. And that song is just dope. I like saying 'lil bitch' really loud.

Underrated in 2017: Children Of Leir.

Most beautiful place I saw in 2017: The inside of the tour bus. It's very inspiring being able to hang out with my friends, play video games, be idiots all day and consistently think creatively.

Overrated in 2017: Social media in all its wondrous forms. The album I had on repeat this year: The Brian Jonestown Massacre – Don’t Get Lost Things that need to stay in 2017: Nose hair extensions and furry lips.

Best and worst things about music culture in 2017: People are still creatively inspired. On the darker side there's a lot of regurgitated vomit. Vomit doesn't taste g reat. Everything in the mainstream feels unchallenging. There are a few artists on top who are killing the game, of course


Kendrick goes without saying, but right underneath is a bit muddled. There's a gap that hopefully will become repaired and bridged over the next few years. Villain of 2017; Richard Spencer. He takes the cake for Lex Luther of the year. Full on white supremacist asshole. Wildest show of 2017: In Illinois the kids were moshpitting to jazz fusion. I was like, hell yeah! Advice for 2018: Play more video games. Love one another a little bit better. Try to be as honest and open with people as you can. And watch your ego. I'm talking to myself as well.

Perfume Genius

Octo Octa

Mike Hadreas's powerful pop project

The producer lifting dancefloor spirits worldwide

Personal highlight of 2017: All the people I've worked with. There have been so many dream opportunities. My producer. Inez & Vinoodh shooting the album cover. Andrew Thomas Huang and Floria Sigismondi directing the videos. It all felt really fancy! An album I've had on repeat: Fever Ray – Plunge. I'm so into her whole like crackly skin, desert zombie vibe. I'm sort of obsessed with her. A highlight from the comment section: Someone said I looked like Ripley from Alien. I think they were trying to diss me, but that's like the best possible thing you could say about someone else. Routines that kept me sane: Cosiness. Face mists. Skincare.

Something that surprised me this year: It's been kind of a shithole lately, but I feel like Twitter can still be good. You'll see some tweet that's been retweeted like 30,000 times and it's some bizarre, really goofy thing. That makes me feel less alone in being of the opposition to all the horrible things that are happening. Favourite internet person of 2017: Cher! She's doing a good job and she's very political, too. She's got 280 characters now, we'll see what happens. Wishes for 2018: I'd like to do a lot of napping and then make something new and even bigger than before.

Personal highlight of 2017: Putting out an album, Where Are We Going? It took four years because I want my albums to have emotional work behind them. I want a story and ideas to fill it, so I was so happy when it started to come together. And then terrified when it was coming out. A super thanks to Jackie House for like doing 1,000,000 things for it. It would have been a mess without Jackie.Â

experiences. I think one of my standouts was playing Strange Allure in Buffalo, NY. The venue was small and they gave me the space and time to play whatever for hours. I played until I had to essentially go to the airport which felt amazing.

The year's best rave accessory: My wife found me a small green canvas and leather backpack which is the perfect rave bag, plus it didn't leave marks on my colorful crop-tops all summer!

What needs to stay in 2017: Racism and prejudice.

Describe the best party you experienced this year: This year was packed with excellent party


Hero of 2017: My wife is my hero of 2017. This year has been nuts (like nuts nuts) and I wouldn't be out here without her.

Hopes for 2018: Fuck me, any positive moments would do. While parties and music are a great thing to be involved in, my personal hopes are to get out there and do more for people in general.


Kali Uchis

Joe Talbot

Effervescent LA-via-Colombia singer

Frontman of breakthrough Bristol punk band IDLES

The most beautiful place I've seen in 2017: Colombia takes the cake every year, truly. Album of the year: My baby SZA's Ctrl of course. Favourite show this year: Jimmy Fallon with Tyler was fun because it was scary, Jools Holland in London too. 2017's best meme: Any meme with Soraya Montenegro or Joseline Hernandez hits me right in the feels. Heroes of 2017: Everyone with the courage to fight and speak up for what they believe in. People that take the time to defend others who cannot defend themselves. Anyone who lost or risked their lives standing up to a corrupt system.


Villains of 2017: Tr u mp & t he administ rat ion, t he Patriarchy, Racism, Discrimination, AntiLGBTQ , the court system every time it failed people who don't have money just to fill their private prisons, the people in the education system who fail our children, the people who choose to mass produce food that makes us sick, the people who treat immigrants like criminals, and everyone else who takes advantage of their power to hurt instead of help others. Aspirations for 2018: Global Domination.

The best and worst aspects of music culture in 2017: The best thing in music culture is the perpetuality of diversification and the worst is television. The most ridiculous thing written about my music this year: Naming me as a voice of the working classes. The best and worst food trends: The best is extra garlic Sriracha and the worst is retro crisp buffets.   A political movement that inspired me: Brexit has inspired me to be more European. The year's tour rituals: We treated each other kindly and didn't do drugs.  


The most memorable moment from our tour: Watching a knife fight from our van in Nottingham. Our van broke down outside the venue. We had just played and then the venue turned into a club at 11pm, next thing we know there's a bunch of boys swiping bread knives at each other. Savage. My heroes of 2017: My g i rlf r iend. She went t h rou g h something that would break most people but has come through strong and has helped me along the way. Her and Steve Lamacq.

Avalon Emerson

Mykki Blanco

Berlin-via-Arizona DJ and Whities producer

Fearless rapper, performance artist and political activist

The clubs I discovered this year: Blitz in Munich, Ankali in Prague, London Printworks, Nowadays in NYC

the crowd to give me two middle fingers straight up in the air. Friends bonding through music basically.

The most beautiful place I saw in 2017: It's a tie between going to Rio De Janeiro for the first time and Columbia.

Tracks that never failed to bring me joy in 2017: Some unreleased fire by Aurora Halal and Nathan Micay.

The year's best rave accessory: Finally got custom moulded earplugs. Hearing protection is a big mood for me from now on.

A lyric I've enjoyed performing in 2017: "Protect black children, protect trans women".

2017's most memorable clubbi ng moments: Too many to list, since now such a huge chunk of my life exists in clubs. Closing Panorama Bar during Klubnacht for the first time, then closing it again with Roi Perez and ND Baumecker. Closing De School for six-something hours at ADE. Playing new Nathan Micay songs when he’s with me at Panorama Bar. Also when I played Ring finger by Nine Inch Nails there and my best friend ran up through

The album I had on repeat this year. Honestly I loved the new records from Lorde and Lana Del Rey. Also Fever Ray’s Plunge and JASSS’s Weightless. The best book I read this year. Kill All Normies, What's Love (or Care, Intimacy, Warmth, Affection) Got to Do with It?  Survival tips for 2018: Loving more.

Challenges I've managed to overcome this year: It wasn't necessarily a challenge, but I have been with my boyfriend for over a year and it's the longest really serious relationship I've ever had, so that's really cool! The most exhilarating show of 2017: It would have to be my sold out show at Berghain. The artists with the best style in 2017: My best friend Yves Tumor. And Cardi B!


2017's most inspiring internet movement: While some people kind of view the #MeToo movement as a bit problematic because it only gained a following behind these powerful white actresses, I think it’s important because it opens up sexual trauma and sexual abuse into the public dialogue, which is something that needs to happen for both men and women to heal and recover. I think that was honestly a really powerful thing to happen in the public consciousness. Hopes for 2018: I hope that they can impeach Donald Trump. And I hope that America and the rest of the world can continue to improve conditions for job equality with people who are transgender and genderqueer.




Club to Club Various venues, Turin 2-7 November

site located a short bus ride from Turin that played host to the festival’s first night. Bill Kouligas might be more readily associated with moody surroundings and darkened clubs, but the PAN boss’ heavily textural and entirely beatless set felt particularly compelling as it resonated around palace’s ornate auditorium. Despite being billed relatively early on Friday evening, Amnesia Scanner didn’t fail to make an impression. Mixing reverb-drenched mutant pop with juddering kick drums delivered with nu-metal bombast, the duo traded the wall of smoke they performed behind last year for a pair of whirling spotlights and a gruesome RDJ-reminiscent projection of a mouth miming along to the cut-up vocal samples that littered their set. Friday night unquestionably, however, belonged to Arca and Jesse Kanda. Emerging from an avalanche of noise and strobes, Arca strutted, shrieked

and fainted on a platform that extended into the centre of the crowd, jerking around like a broken marionette, cracking a whip overhead and tossing salvos of flowers across the room. It was a breathtaking performance (at one point he descended from the stage to stalk through the crowd on a pair of centaur-like stilts), with a theatrical intensity compounded by Jesse Kanda’s visceral visuals. The pair’s last live show of the year together, the set concluded with a genuine moment of tenderness as a breathless Arca called Kanda to the front of the stage to soak up the adulation of the crowd, offered him a rose, and then slumped on his shoulder, exhausted. Subsequent performances by Bonobo and Nicolas Jaar felt frustratingly muted by comparison, but in the newly-located second room of Lingotto, Not Waving and Yves Tumor’s onetwo punch of acerbic techno

and noise brought the first night proper to a climactic finish. One of Club To Club’s biggest coups this year was a mammoth seven-show run by Kraftwerk, each one consisting of an album being performed in full at OGR Torino – a former railway depot repurposed as an imposing concert venue. Saturday’s sit-down rendition of Radioactivity was a welcome change of pace, feeling at once nostalgic and eerily poignant. If Friday at the Lingotto was given over to more cerebral sounds then Saturday night was aimed squarely at the dancefloor. Ascendant duo Smerz impressed with glossy pop whilst Helena Hauff didn’t pull a single punch, foregoing the chuggy EBM that marks many of her sets and taking full advantage of the main room’s imposing system with fullthrottle techno. A frustrating quirk in Turin’s licensing laws means that all of Lingotto’s bars close at

3am, a few hours before the music itself stops. However this seemed to have little effect on the assembled crowd for Lorenzo Senni and the Gabber Eleganza crew, who closed out the second room with raveybut-reverent dedications to trance and hardcore respectively (hearing Senni’s One Life One Chance belted out to a cheering contingent of Milanese fans was a particular highlight). We left Turin on Sunday evening, but not before taking in the Piazza Madama Cristina street party, an annual, openaccess arts fair organised by Club To Club. It’s a neat reflection of the festival’s eclectic outlook, with an array of street vendors and performers and record stalls. An elaborate tango demonstration draws a crowd of families before things take a sharp left-turn into a smokedout A/V show from local crew Gang Of Ducks blending strains of trap, gqom, and hip-

hop. Initially met with a wave of bemusement, the collective’s quiet intensity soon won the audience over, and before long the square was packed with dancing bodies. The breadth of choice on offer at Club To Club is both a blessing and a curse: for every amazing act on offer there’s another you’re bound to miss. However, this is as much a reason as any for a return trip. With genre-blind programming and knack for nailing the brightest and best acts in both pop and avant-garde circles, the festival is a must for Europe's musically adventurous crowds. ! Ben Horton N Andrea Macchia & Daniele Baldi


Club To Club’s latest instalment proved itself relevant as ever, with an adventurously-booked line-up delivering groundbreaking performances on a grand scale, The Turin festival has forged a reputation as a staging ground for new work and a springboard for artists on the rise and this year – its seventeenth – was no different, with an eclectic bill that included Arca & Jesse Kanda, Yves Tumor and Ben Frost, as well as more accessible performances from the likes of Nicolas Jaar and Mura Masa. The majority of the programming was centred around the Lingotto Fierre expo centre throughout the weekend, buffered on either side by a smattering of smaller performances sited in some of the city’s more interesting spaces. Undoubtedly the most arresting venue of the weekend, the Palace of Venaria is a UNESCO World Heritage



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Dekmantel At The Warehouse Project Warehouse Project, Manchester 10 November Dean Blunt and Mica Levi's Inna ICA 28 October There’s sometimes a sense of eccentricity or humour to Dean Blunt’s projects which can make people feel anxious that they’re the butt of a joke. But, unconventional as it may be, Inna, Blunt’s opera project with music composed by Mica Levi, is another sincere work of art. Blunt has previously produced theatre that’s been performed in Berlin and Switzerland, and this is his third project at the ICA. Like Blunt, Levi’s music with Micachu & The Shapes saw her approach experimentalism with playful lofidelity, and her recent foray into film soundtracks has seen her stroll the red carpet and scoop up awards. Curtains are drawn to the sound of a heavy metal guitar riff. The stage setting is minimal and dark with a red and black colour palette. A trio of skulls sit on the left, while on the right three female opera singers sit in a couch, all of them dressed in blood red. In the middle is a man dressed plainly in a black jacket with angel wings. He lights a large spliff from one of the three candles before him, and tokes from it throughout the performance. Over the course of 50 minutes, Levi’s subtle arrangements and sloppy guitar soundtrack a narrative in which the angel drinks desperately from a bottle, anxiously checks his appearance in a barber’s mirror and – at one point – holds up a skull mouth and blows smoke into it, recalling Hamlet’s monologue to poor Yorick. The singers, whose voices resonate with immense power, express all the pain of a relationship turned toxic (“I would have done anything for you, why am I here?”) which eventually leads the angel to collapse, facedown, with a large thud as the curtains close and that metal riff rings out once again. Bravo.

Dekmantel gets most attention for its three-day Amsterdam festival in August every year. But scouring the line-up at Warehouse Project, it’s easy to see the foundation for their success is built on homegrown artists which serve as the brand’s core. Whether it’s the tough melodious techno that brand founders Dekmantel Soundsystem serve up early doors in room two, or the spacey cosmic sounds of Interstellar Funk in the third room, we’re presented with a rich vein of Dutch talent. It’s the latter set that stands out among the bigger names on the bill; a selection of deeper Italo influenced cuts making their mark on a crowd. But Dekmantel are far from insular. Berlin-based artists Call Super and Shanti Celeste are two guests that have had full support from the festival. Their coming together on the main stage showcases quite how far both these DJs have come in the last 12 months, their backto-back acting as an uplifting celebration of the varied styles that they both push as DJs. One of Warehouse Project’s unique abilities is to make main room DJs feel like superstars. Robert Hood’s sets have often had a spiritual flavour, with gospel overtures existing alongside his rattling techno – and this one, performed to a packed room, is majestic. Dekmantel mainstay Marcel Dettmann’s functional yet totally engaging techno onslaught transitioned into full EBM towards the end, which felt like a perfect close. But rather than belonging solely to the main room, this showcase saw the love shared around the whole complex. A great dispatch of the underground to Manchester’s biggest club venue. ! Thomas Frost N Rob Jones

Progress Bar S03E01 Paradiso Noord, Amsterdam 4 November Amsterdam’s Progress Bar bills itself as “the only political party you can dance to”, featuring not just music but interviews with performers and other radical voices. Progress Bar’s organisers are keenly aware of music’s role in building an active and engaged queer community: a vital salve to what has become an overwhelmingly straight clubbing culture. And it’s clearly onto something. S03E01 was busy, with a full house for both the talks and the club night. The theme was Sonic Acts’ The Noise of Being, a collection of essays exploring what it means to be human. Speakers dwelling on the question included designer The Rodina, philosopher Nina Power, and Daniel van der Velden of Metahaven.Tennessee-based rapper Bbymutha’s uninhibited description of her life and work was a particularly brilliant counterpoint to other more tech-oriented and somewhat depressing takes on what it means to be human in our present historical moment. It offered a good reason to stick around until the rapper’s equally honest and direct 1am set. In the interim, the audience for the ensuing club night were treated to a diverse mix of performances. Often confrontational, abstract, sometimes difficult to dance to, the performances were always interesting, as was most apparent with Swiss-Congolese producer Bonaventure, whose sonically spacious, sample-laden live set demanded attention throughout, especially to the politically-charged spoken-word samples. The few thoroughly danceable moments were always quickly withdrawn. It wasn’t easy to get into. But it was captivating: a discordant collage totally in keeping with the night’s overall bent. The sheer concentrated variety of performers was startling; also featured were Eaves from New York, North Carolina-based Hanz, Amsterdam’s own Brazilian-born Lyzza, and ending on a decidedly upbeat note with New York’s LSDXOXO. This format, characterised by a borderless melange of different voices, experiences and performances, is one that needs replicating across clubbing culture at large. ! Charlie Clemoes N Pieter Kers

Ahead of attending this Barbican-organised event, ticket holders were sent an email with a letter from Luaka Bop and Barbican. “… the music Luaka Bop released recently was never intended to be sent far and wide. It was meant to be listened to by the people who participated in the services – to help you get through whatever it is you are dealing with in life.” The music in question is perhaps 2017’s most celebrated compilation, the first-ever release of music Alice Coltrane made for members of the Sai Anantam Ashram community in California. Coltrane’s transcendent blend of richly soulful Detroit gospel sounds and the devotional music of her practice has been a defining revelation for many listeners this year.  Audience members were asked to take their shoes off and encouraged to join in with the songs, (a PDF song sheet was attached to the pre-show email). The participatory, congregation-led format was never fully achieved but this was through no fault of the Sai Anantham Ashram Singers. Dressed in an array of bright, colourful traditional wear, the ten vocalists stood on the stage with a virtuosic pianist and synth-player on one-side and a choir leader on the other. The sprawling, improvisational sound of the recordings didn’t perfectly lend itself to live recreation. Occasionally ad-libs and riffs would interrupt the swelling, rich foundations of the chant without it feeling completely organic. But what a foundation it was.  Opening with Sivaya, the harmony shared between these vocalists is clearly rooted in something far more divine than rehearsal. When Michelle Coltrane (Alice’s daughter) performs Om Shanti as a solo, the room is mesmerised by her vocals which carries all the warm, rich hallmarks of jazz’s upper echelon with a serene peacefulness inherited from her mother's soulful pursuit. Once the performance was done, the singers left the room in single file as the music played on. The whole of the church was on their feet, applauding and cheering – using all the tools for expressing ecstasy which they’re well versed in. Coltrane’s legacy for inviting others into the journey continues.

! Davy Reed ! Duncan Harrison N Mark Allan/Barbican

Semibreve Braga, Portugal 27-29 October Now in its seventh year, Semibreve brings together acts from disparate ambient and experimental folds. It opens at the Theatro Circo – a grand, gilded monster of a space which boasts possibly the best sound system I’ve ever sat in front of. Visible Cloaks, whose flurries of marimba-like synths drive one of 2017’s most enchanting live sets, are followed by GAS, where Wolfgang Voigt’s slow, noble techno proves as engaging an experience as ever. At gnration, a smaller arts and club space, Japanese producer Kyoka is raising hell, blending heavy IDM, blown out jungle, abstract turntablism and other influences with ultra-processed vocals. The end result is a deeply pleasing chaos that often appears on the verge of falling apart, but never does. On Saturday afternoon, a free concert at an austere, citycentre seminary brings in a big crowd of curious locals. Steve Hauschildt’s beautiful, delicate set delivers the dreamiest experience of the weekend – warm washes of synth flood the concrete chapel, and crystalline tones fall through filters and octaves. Two of the weekend’s more demanding acts, Fis and Deathprod, are stand outs. Fis’s A/V show is a near overwhelming experience, blooming amid magnetic storms of noise and industrial samplework. Meanwhile, the sheer weight of Deathprod’s drones feels like being dragged to the bottom of the ocean. Room 40 boss Lawrence English closes with his intense focus on ‘interior sound’, which is largely ‘felt’ as well as heard. Parts of his Cruel Optimism set contain bass that resonates so deeply that my throat seals up and I can’t swallow. Later, I’m sure I can feel my teeth rattling in my gums. Participants of a workshop he hosted earlier in the weekend are invited to lie on stage near his amplifier stacks for the full experience. It’s a powerful conclusion to an equally gripping festival, and one that, as intended, brings the festival’s temporary community together afterwards. It’s sort of magical, and more proof that Semibreve is surely one of the finest small festivals Europe has to offer right now. ! Xavier Boucherat N Adriano Ferreira Borges


The Ecstatic Music of Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda performed by the Sai Anantham Ashram Singers LSO St. Luke’s, London 18 November



28 NOV.

Baba Ali

Montague Arms 30 NOV.

Ja Ja Ja The Lexington 30 NOV.

Puma Blue Corsica Studios 01 DEC.


Shacklewell Arms 02 DEC.

Peggy Sue Shacklewell Arms 05 DEC.

The Mystery Lights Moth Club 07 DEC.

Briana Marela Paper Dress Vintage 12 DEC.

Cloud Nothings & The Hotelier The Dome 16 DEC.

Dutch Uncles


01 FEB.

Willy Vlautin 09 FEB.

Meat Wave The Lexington

Anna Of The North XOYO

Jazz Cafe 25 JAN.

Songhoy Blues O2 Forum 26 JAN.

Trudy & The Romance The Lexington 31 JAN.

Oscar Jerome Montague Arms 31 JAN.

Oumou Sangare Roundhouse




16 FEB.

The Soft Moon The Dome



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Alvvays Roundhouse


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Poliรงa & stargaze


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The Rural Alberta Advantage Scala


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Dream Wife




Sunflower Bean KOKO



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O2 Academy Brixton




Ben Frost




Oval Space


Elder Island



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The Lexington


Cecil Sharp House

Moth Club

Hypnotic Kingdom





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17 APR.

Fil Bo Riva Sebright Arms

WED.07.FEB.18 FRI.09.NOV.18

24 APR.

Courtney Marie Andrews

Islington Assembly Hall



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Crack Magazine Annual Subscription from ÂŁ25

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Craig Richards – Houghton £35 London DJ Craig Richards recently told Crack Magazine that he had plans to host an art exhibition in the near-future. This future has now arrived. Accompanying it is this 88 page hardback featuring hand-drawn works of the artists who stepped up for the decks at his inaugural Houghton Festival. Expect to find the likes of Ricardo Villalobos, Nicolas Jaar and Ben UFO in a style that looks trippier than a Sunday morning at fabric.

Carhartt WIP x UR Siberian Parka £330 Underground Resistance's sleek branding has long been a staple of the rave. The pioneering Detroit techno collective has now collaborated with Detroit-born workwear brand Carhartt for a collection of high-quality and dual-branded pieces. Underground Resistance has walked a firmly anti-commercial line prior to this, sure, but considering Carhartt's own links the blue collar workers of Detroit, don't call it a sell-out.

Minirig 2.1 System £349 Comprised of two Bluetooth speakers and a subwoofer, this three-piece kit brings you the best combination of Minirig’s technological innovations. The system is easily transportable but doesn’t compromise on sound, and, here's the clincher – it lasts up to 80 hours without power. One for the forest ravers.

Rough Trade Club Membership £11.99 – £21.99 Rough Trade’s membership club makes buying wax easier. Each month, it sends members their album of the month on CD or vinyl, depending on the chosen subscription service, and if it doesn’t take your fancy, you can swap it for one of their top ten albums. There’s no need to flick through the racks anymore – sit back and let it come to you.

Absolute Bristol Legends Tea Towel £10

Skull Candy HESH 3 Headphones £99.99 Pairing memory foam cushions with a lightweight design and up to 22 hours of rechargeable battery life, this fashionable pair of cans is minimalist in its design and provides users with wireless all-day listening, comfort and noise cancelling. An ideal pair of bassy headphones for not too steep a price.


In the spirit of Christmas, we've teamed up with niche-tee designer Turbo Island to celebrate the best in Bristol’s heritage. This tea towel is pretty much the only place you'll see Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams rubbing shoulders with prolific engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, or Massive Attack and Carol Vorderman together in wacky caricature. All proceeds will go towards Caring in Bristol, a local charity working to deliver support to homeless and vulnerable people in Bristol 365 days a year.


Crossword Across 6. Thundercat’s sloppy jazz odyssey 7. prosperous US ideal / Murphy’s comeback 8. bacteria / the arts / *DJ Khaled voice* you played yourself! 9. early blooming tree; off-white colour; hide it in my sock 11. dark shapes that follow / when Debbie met Samuel 12. fishy apendage Down 1. message to a loser 2. “Said, lil bitch…” 3. savage / stark functionalist architecture 4. printer / wiggy Hessle jam 5. plummet; thrust; submerge 10. 2017 album released in reverse order; Is it wickedness or weakness? You decide

Answers Across: Drunk, American Dream, Culture, Magnolia, Shadows, Fin Down: Game Over, Bodak Yellow, Brutalism, Inkjet, Plunge, Damn

Self Portrait Faze Miyake

David Lynch or The Grinch? Who said it: the visionary director, or the green and grouchy Christmas thief? 1) “I hate slick and pretty things. I prefer mistakes and accidents. Which is why I like things like cuts and bruises.” 2) “One man's toxic sludge is another man's potpourri.” 3) “It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes, or bags.” 4) “Absurdity is what I like most in life.” 5) “My cow is not pretty, but it's pretty to me.”

Answers: 1) Lynch 2) Grinch 3) Grinch 4) Lynch 5) Lynch 6) Grinch


6) “What's that stench? It's fantastic.”


DJ Sein

What are you currently reading, or what as the last book you read? savage detectives by roberto bolano Favourite member of Slipknot? i don’t really know anything about them i think but isn’t their synth player a guy with spikes on his head? yeah he seems edgy.

What was your first artist name? rimbaudian. What’s the worst hotel you’ve ever stayed in? there was one in prague a few years ago that had a designated throw-up toilet. also had a check-out time at 8 am. Who’s the most famous person you've ever met? I met zlatan ibrahimovic when he was still a teen, he was playing in malmö ff and me and my friends tried to get an autograph. he left a training screaming ”ill never play in this shit team again” and started shooting footballs on the parked cars. Favourite emoji? upside down smiley face. What’s your signature recipe? beet soup with tortellini. stole it from my mom. sounds strange but it’s delicious. If you were trying to seduce a potential lover, what music would you play? teengirl fantasy – cheaters.

Name an overrated artist… me.

Have you ever been arrested? nope.

Describe the worst haircut you’ve ever had… i saw that no country for old men and realised i almost had that lush anton chigurh haircut when i was a kid. mix that with white socks and sandals and u’ve got an 8-year old me.

Have you ever taken acid? yes.

What was your favourite cartoon when you were a kid? duck tales

If you could pick a surrogate grandparent, who would it be? liam gallagher. Have you ever had a nickname? yeah my parents used to call me ”putte” when i was a kid

What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? i once worked as a telephone salesman selling historical coins to retired norwegians. i didn’t speak any norwegian but pretty sure i called up two people on their death beds. i left on the first day at lunch without saying anything to anyone. Is there a piece of advice you wish you’d give to yourself ten years ago? smile you idiot.

Words: Davy Reed

Best person to follow on Instagram? @blackjaguarwhitetiger

Heavy Metal or EDM? heavy metal.

What would you want written on your tombstone? ”i knew this would happen” Time Spent Away From U out now via Lobster Fury

“I once worked as a telephone salesman selling historical coins to retired Norwegians”


Swedish producer DJ Seinfeld is kind of seen as the leader of the so-called “lo-fi house” scene – a movement commonly experienced via YouTube binges on referential bedroom beats, txt speak titles and crap graphics put together with 90s ephemera. Yes, there’s a perception that the general vibe is closer to Wavey Garms than The Warehouse, more Amber Leaf than Amnesia, more Shazam than Shoom. But you know what? The kids love it, and Seinfeld’s new album Time Spent Away From U is full of dusty-sounding dancefloor fantasies that’ll have you emoting IRL. We emailed Seinfeld our 20 Questions and he opened up about sleazy hotels, selling historical coins to Norwegian geriatrics and Anton Chigurh haircuts.

d l fe


Rm 2 Resident Every Saturday


Sat 27 Jan (7pm - 11pm)

Sat 27 Jan (11pm - 4am)

Sat 03 Feb

Sat 10 Feb



Sat 17 Feb

Sat 24 Feb

Sat 03 Mar

Sat 10 Mar








Sat 17 Mar: Lumberjacks In Hell

Sat 24 Mar




A record that shocked me: Joanna Newsom's first album, The MilkEyed Mender (Drag City, 2004) got me into folk music when I was around 1718, and the whole freak folk scene that was happening around that time. Her voice sounds so weird. Some people hate the sound of her voice, but for me

“The main thing that I took away from Kid A is how emotive electronic music can be”

The record that made me appreciate jazz: My Favourite Things by John Coltrane (Atlantic, 1961), and it's still one of my favourite jazz pieces ever. It's a cover of My Favourite Things from The Sound of Music, but it just takes a journey. I used to play it really loud on repeat and all my flatmates were like "oh my god, can you just turn it off." Even now, I get goosebumps. It definitely got me interested in this more spiritual side of jazz. A record I picked up because of the cover: In Japan a couple of weeks ago, one record that stood out from the others was First by Nachiko (1980, Epic). She's like the Japanese version of Kate Bush or something. It has this really cool painting on the front of like, a sexy female robot in outer space. A track from this year with lyrics that speak to me: SOPHIE, It's Okay To Cry (MSMSMSM INC., 2017). I'm friends with SOPHIE and so it's interesting to see her trajectory now. For us, the way that I've decided to do more vocals and be more upfront in my music, she's decided to do the same. She's started identifying as female, and it's like the first time that she's visible, I guess, in the music. And she's really good at writing lyrics. They capture an idea and a feeling so perfectly. It doesn't have to

be like complex language, it just sets the scene so vividly. A record with deep significance to me: My new album (Ninja Tune, 2017). I've never put so much energy into anything before. I didn't make a conscious departure from my previous records but it's mostly influenced by music I listened to as a teenager. The name change marks my development as an artist. I've also been thinking a lot about identity and representation. There's not a lot of Asian British Pakistani girls doing what I'm doing. I get messages from ethnic minority people from all over saying it's inspiring for them to see what I'm doing. Even in popular culture, brown people are really, really underrepresented. So I wanted to be transparent and let people know exactly who I am and what I'm doing. Maybe that will inspire more people to feel like they can do it too. Weighing of the Heart is out now via Ninja Tune


A record that had an irreversible impact on me as a teenager: Radiohead's Kid A (Parlophone, 2000) had a very profound impact on me. It was the first album on which they incorporated a lot of electronic elements. After becoming obsessed with that record, I started exploring more electronic music. The main thing that I took away from it is how emotive electronic music can be.

it was just so incredible. She plays the harp in an idiosyncratic way. She's playing a western classical harp but not in a western classical style, and so that caught my attention and influenced my curiosity about instruments from other parts of the world.

Words: Anna Tehabsim

Nabihah Iqbal has mortality on her mind. The NTS Radio regular, formerly known as Throwing Shade, has explored timeless existential questions on her debut album Weighing of the Heart. The title itself references an Ancient Egyptian myth about the afterlife, while its tracks explore themes of monotony, escapism, struggle, pleasure, and the oh-so-familiar feeling of forever wanting more from life. Iqbal's own desire to move past boundaries has seen her revert to her birth name, a choice inspired by thoughts on representation in the media, as well as exploring a new, soft-focus sound – one indebted to the music she consumed as a teenager. Here, Iqbal takes us through this and more in a snapshot of her characteristically eclectic taste.


My Life as a Mixtape: Nabihah Iqbal

Thank You To everyone who made Crack Magazine happen in 2017 Aaron Gonsher Adam Corner Aine Devaney Alethia Lunares Alex De Mora Alex Green Alex Kurunis Alex Morgan Ali Gitlow Alice Nicolov Alix Wenmouth Amelia Phillips Andre Witton Andres Bucci Andrés Colmenares Andy Bullock Angel Ramos Regueira Angie Towse Angus Harrison Angus Thomas Patterson Anil Chohan Aniqa Ali Anna Cafolla Anna Higgie Anna Jones Anna Meacham Anna Neugebauer Annette Lee Antonia Odunlami Antonio Curcetti April Clare Welsh Arlindo Camacho Asha Hai Ashley Verse Augustin Macellari Avalon Emerson Bart Heemskerk Ben Brook Ben Harris Ben Price Benjamin Smith Bex Shorunke Bill Brewster Billy Black Bridget Minamore Cait Oppermann Calin Ilea Camille Blake Carina Low Caroline Faruolo Caroline SM Caroline Whiteley Carys Huws Celeste Ball Chal Ravens Chanté Joseph Charlie Clemoes Charlie Leahy Charlie Newhouse Charlotte James Charlotte Moss Chloe Newman Chloe Pentavalle Chloe Rosolek Chris Cuff

Chris Gold Chris Kelly Christina Planelles Christina Van Zon Christine Kakaire Christopher Olszewski Cian Oba-Smith Ciaran Thapar Clare Dover Clare McCormack Clare Scivier Connor Brazier Courtney Francis Daisy Denham Dan Medhurst Daniel Jones Daniela Monteiro Daniel Plasch Danny Seaton Dave Harvey Dave Smeaton David von Becker Denelle Ellis Denisse Garcia Dennis Branko Dexter Lander Discwoman Dom Gourlay DR. ME Drew Gurian Duncan Clark Ed Chambers Ed Eldridge Elanor Hardwick Eli Davies Elise Rose Elliot Kennedy Ellis Scott Emily Gosling Emma Robertson Erin Kubicki Esmée Bosklopper Fabiana Vardaro Fabien Fohrer Fallon MacWilliams Farhood Felicity Martin Flora Yin-Wong Francis Blagburn Francoise Bolechowski Gabriel Szatan Gabrielle Theurer Gary Suarez Gavin Perkins Gemma Samways George Camp George Musgrave George Nebieridze Georgia Tobin Geraint Davies Geri Doherty Grace Herring Grace Pickering Graeme Bateman Grant Brydon

Gunseli Yalcinkaya Gwyn Thomas de Chroustchoff Hamda Issa-Salwe Hannah Stewart Harriet Brampton Harry Mitchell Henry Gorse Holly McDonald Holly Tucker Hugo Mintz Ian Ochiltree Ilyas Gun Imran Malik Ione Gamble Iris Herscovici Isabel Janssen Isis O'Reagan Jacek Plewicki Jack Dolan Jack Johnstone Jack Law Jack Tyler Jacob Rey Jacob Roy Jade Moote Jake Beadle Jake Davis Jake Hall Jaki Liebezeit James Burgess James Crosley James Cunningham James Heather James Parrish James Pearson-Howes James Perolls Jamie Hewlett Jamie Woolgar Jan-Micheal Stasiuk Jasmin Hoek Javier Castán Jennifer Lo Jenny Duffy Joe Goggins Joe Hatt Joe Humphrys Joe Parry Joe Zadeh Johanna Knutsson Jon Clark Jon Lawrence Jon Wilkinson Joseph McDonagh Joseph Walsh Josh Aronson Josh Winning Joshua Gordon Joshua Hughes-Games Josie Roberts Josie Thaddeus-Johns Joss Meek Juan Jose Oritz Julia Dias Julien Barbès

Julien Mignot Karin Idering Kasia Zacharko Kate McQuaid Kathryne Chalker Kathy Iandoli Katie Hawthorne Katie Louden Katie Marshall Keong Woo Khris Cowley Kitty Lester Kristin Texeira Kusi Kubi Lakeisha Goedluck Lara C Cory Lauren Sohikian LAW Mag Leah Wilson Lee Fairweather Léo D’oriano Leonn Ward Les Fistons Liam Hodges Liberty Spinks Lina Jonsson Lindsay Jordan Lisa Blanning Liv Willars Lorena Maza Lottie Bea Spencer Lu'ay Sam Luci Ellis Lucy Bonner Lucy Hatter Luke Turner Madeline Ohaus Mahtab Hussain Maja Chiara Faber Marcus Scott Maria Minerva Mark Allan Mark Murphy Martin Thompson Max Allen Max Gershfield Maximillian Malone Maya-Roisin Slater Michael Abels Michael Tarzia Michela Johnson Michelle Kambasha Mike Chalmers Mike Robertson Mina Tosti Monique Wallace Mustafa Mirreh Nacho G Riaza Naomi Wood Nathan Beazer Nathan Ma Natty Kasambala Neil Bainbridge Neil Kulkarni Niall Greaves

Nic Bestley Nick Boyd Nicole Bullock Niloufar Haidari Nina Posner Oli Warwick Paul Samuel White Pauline Bourdon Penny Warner Perran Mitchell Perwana Nazif Pieter Kers Rachel Campbell Rachel Grace Almeida Rachel Sato-Banks Rebecca Fitzgerald Rene Cleall Rhia Turkington Rhian E Jones Rhiannon Davies Rik Woldring Riona O’Sullivan Ro Murphy Rob Chute Rob McCallum Robert Bates Roman Ketnov Ronald Dick Rosie Warner-Bateman Ruby Guymer-Parker Ruby Van Der Porten Rui Soares Ruth Drake Sabrina Mahfouz Saffiyah Khan Sam Mulvey Sam Williams Sammy Jones Samuel Bradley Sara Chan Sasha Geffen Sassy Black Scott Charlesworth Sean Newsham Shakira Payne Shub Roy Siemen Van Gaubergen Simon Jay Catting Sirin Kale Steph Dutton Steph Wilson Stephanie Duncan-Bosu Stephanie Third Steve Mallon Susanne Kumar-Sinner Suzie McCracken Sylvie Weber Tamar Shlaim Tamsyn Black Taponeswa Mavunga Tara Joshi Team Love Teddy Fitzhugh Theo Cottle Theo Kotz

Thomas Romana Tim Barsby Tirhakah Love Todd Wills Tom Abbis Smith Tom Adcock Tom Bird Tom Ellis Tom Howells Tom Mehrtens Tom Paine Tom Vick Tom Watson Tom Weatherill Tomas Fraser Tracy Kawalik Travers Southwall Valentina Egoavil Vasily Agrenenko Verie Aarts Vicky Grout Victor Frankowski Victoria Higgs Violeta Pirnog Virginie P Moreira Vitali Gelwich Vivek Vadoliya Walter Wacht Wilbert Lati Will Darwin Will Grant Will Lawrence Will Pritchard Wolfgang Tillmans Xavier Boucherat Yannick van de Wijngaert Zeina Raad Zoe Miller


+ very special guests

PATTI SMITH AND HER BAND ST. VINCENT COURTNEY BARNETT Plus many more to be announced across 3 stages

line up subject to change

Subject to License


Crack Issue 83  

Featuring Arca, Bad Gyal and the Crack Magazine Annual Report

Crack Issue 83  

Featuring Arca, Bad Gyal and the Crack Magazine Annual Report