Beats – Feb’ 2009
June 29, 2009 § Leave a comment
Published: Music Australia Guide #62, February 2009.
BEATS with Dan Rule
Grey Filastine is the embodiment of the global beats movement. A nomadic traveller, socio-political activist and multi-accented beat plunderer, the Barcelona-based producer transcends notions of borders and orderly genre divisions. Second full-length Dirty Bomb inhabits a space where cultures and forms clash and coalesce. Drawing on a slew of international MCs – Aboriginal MC Wire and Japanese veteran ECD on the burning Hungry Ghosts for two – this is urgent sonic data from a globalised underground. North African rhythms interlock with sample-strewn cut and paste; abstracted hip hop subsumes dubstep; sub-continental melodics bleed into fractured IDM. Filastine is a voice from a brave new world.
Newark pairing Dalek are an anomaly, even in an idiom as divergent as experimental hip hop. Over 10 years and four albums, their drone-drowned, noise-shattered four-four has engendered a unwavering voice of dissent. Fifth record Gutter Tactics is no exception. In fact, it raises the stakes. From opening stanza Blessed Are They – built around a blistering excerpt from a Reverend Jeremiah Wright sermon – this proves one of the more visceral political and aural assaults you’ll hear. Abrasive low-end frequencies, swirling drones and echoes of tonal ambience underscore a narrative of a violently imperialist America. Crucial, unflinching stuff.
Susumu Yokota is a master of understatement. Whether as a leftfield house producer or an electro-acoustic composer, the prolific Japanese artist isn’t one for flamboyance. Rather – as this latest collection illustrates so beautifully – he relies on little more than subtle gesture, layer and modulation. Mother is a work of shimmering restraint. Over 13 sparse vignettes, Yokota and a clutch of vocalists merge lilting piano phrases with murmured beats, and ambient electronic hues with gentle brushes of instrumentation. It’s gorgeous. Like Japan itself, Mother whispers with the ever-present spirit of the past and the kinetic pulse of the contemporary.
Decent Work For Decent Pay
Wes ‘Diplo’ Pentz is one of contemporary urban music’s signpost figures: a mash-up and mixtape extraordinaire credited with introducing Brazilian funk carioca to the English-speaking world, not to mention helping former girlfriend MIA become a global phenomenon. Decent Work For Decent Pay is a collection of his works and remixes thus far and, to be fair, it covers some interesting material. MIA’s Paper Planes, Bonde Do Role’s Solta O Frango and Samim’s Heater all make worthy appearances. But this compile fails to really capture the breadth and quality of Diplo’s work. For that, his infamous Piracy Funds Terrorism mixtape is still, by far, the go-to record.
Return of the Big Money Sound
With Dizzee Rascal now a bona-fide crossover success, it was always going to interesting to see what his former crew did next. Well, the title of Roll Deep’s third album goes some way to reveal its orientation. Not unlike Dizzee’s big-hitting single Dance Wiv Me, Return of the Big Money Sound sees grime’s pre-eminent crew pushing their sound in much poppier direction. Check the shiny dynamics of tracks like Do Me Wrong for evidence. But there’s still plenty of ruggedness. Smoking cuts like Dargz Dem and Thunder and Lightnin keep Return on point. Grime has come a long way, but Roll Deep is still keeping it in check