Beats – September 2009
September 26, 2009 § Leave a comment
Published: Music Australia Guide #69, September 2009.
BEATS with Dan Rule
Let the Night Roar
If the vicious, ground-shaking depths of The Bug’s 2008 masterpiece London Zoo needed a sequel, perhaps Dylan Richards (aka Cannibal King) has taken it upon himself to direct it with debut long-player Let the Night Roar. The London producer has pulled out all stops with this brooding mutant of a record, tearing brutal slabs of dubstep frequency from explosions of drum n bass, rips of high-end sonics from steroidal dancehall and rave era tech. Aragami Style, So…Embrace, The Untitled and the horror-core Flowers of Flesh make for the most devastating suite tracks to surface this year. London Zoo was raw; Let the Night Roar is relentless.
It’s easy to forget Tyondai Braxton’s former life as an avant-jazz and orchestral composer, such has been the impact of his band Battles. Braxton’s influence on Battles’ sound becomes all the more clear when you spend time with new solo album Central Market. Wonky orchestrations, stuttered rhythmic marches, pitch-controlled vocal chipmunkery, clipped guitar lines and maximal, electronically enhanced flourishes define this positively odd record. But while enthralling in parts, it’s no fluke that the album’s most conventional cut – the pulsing J. City – is also its best. Braxton has achieved some interesting results here, though he hasn’t quite reconciled precocious smarty-pantness with genuine progression.
Herd impresario Urthboy has been knocking on the door of a classic solo record for years now. Spitshine may well be that album. What makes this release so effective is that while filled with departures – see the rugged future hip hop bump of Them Shackles and Fight Fire – Urthboy hasn’t abandoned his proven approaches. Rather, he’s honed them. The rousing melody of first single Hellsong is his purest yet, while his beats(courtesy of El Gusto and Count Bounce) are mindlessly good. That said, it’s Urthboy’s lyrical development that really impresses. On Shruggin, he manages to recast what might have become a preachy political trope into a stunningly personalised vision.
Clutchy Hopkins Meets Lord Kenjamin
Music is My Medicine
Whether or not he even exists, the ever-elusive person, thing or ensemble that is Clutchy Hopkins makes some damned fine music. While legend has Hopkins gleaning his dusty, ethnographic mysto-jazz, soul and roots/funk from lands as distant as Nigeria, India and the Mojave Desert all the way back to the 60s, Music is My Medicine sees the mysterious one collaborating with new enigma Lord Kenjamin (apparently a witch doctor from Barbados). It’s worth wading through the tall tales. The wiry melodics, warm, muddy analogue keys and crisp, nimble breaks that comprise this ‘collaboration’ make you almost want to believe.
Sasu Ripatti (aka Vladislav Delay) happened to record his magnum opus extremely early in his career. His micro-minimal Multila (2000) is still considered a landmark ambient techno release, with the Finish composer littering spacious swathes of static and audio detritus with concise clicks, pops and flashes of shuddering beats. The elliptical, nonetheless pretty Tummaa proves easily his best since. Ripatti has all but done away with the language of minimal techno here; only the propulsive Mustelmia features anything approaching a structured rhythm. We are left with a strangely beautiful study of hissing, droning space. Only a scattering of sparse keys, skeletal woodwinds, distant rattles and echoes dare enter.