Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bok Bok - Say Stupid Things

Bok Bok and L-Vis 1990, who run the London based Night Slugs label, occupy the same super-swag, of-the-moment-cool that Diplo and A-track sported so well during the latter half of the noughties.

These two don't do much that is sonically groundbreaking, but their approach to dance music rocks that same fuck-all, if-it-has-a-beat-then-I-can-dance-to-it inclusiveness that defined Mad Decent's releases for so long.  Night Slugs releases are looked forward to with eager anticipation in the Bass music world because each carefully curated track has an air of carefree abandon, loaded with upbeat charm and teenage vigor.

It makes sense then, why Modeselektor, the German dance music powerhouse duo, would recruit Bok Bok along with fellow UK bass-bandit Ramadanman, for their first installation of the new Monkey Town Records compilation series entitled Modeselektion.  Although 2010 has arguably been Ramadanman's, Bok Bok, probably the least well known of the three, makes a fierce showing. 

Modeselektor shows up in typical fashion—all fat synths and pimp-slap snares—on VW Jetta.  Ramadanman deploys an admirable attempt at aping the Modeselektor sound, but by definition, that kind of endeavor will always fall short of the real thing.  It’s Bok Bok's Say Stupid Things, with its bothered lyric and twitchy shuffle that steals the show.  On what is one of his most serious outings yet, Bok Bok one-ups the veteran (Modeselektor) and the newfound darling (Ramadanman) without ever leaving his ever-growing comfort zone.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Swizz Beatz launches Monster Mondays

If there was ever an industry artist worth taking a promotional cue from, it’s Kanye West.  And that's exactly what beat brainiac Swizz Beatz is doing with Monster Mondays.

Modeled after Kanye’s hugely successful G.O.O.D. Fridays series, Swizz Beatz’s Monster Mondays is set to release a new track every Monday, starting with this week's "DJ Play the Beat."

The track is all trumpets and handclaps, featuring the reassured bass bumps that Mr. Beatz has made popular.  Also making an appearance is Kanye collaborator and London based R&B chick Estelle.  If this is any indication of what’s to come, expect big things.

Download the track below by clicking the little arrow on the right-hand side
Swizz Beatz Featuring Estelle - Dj Play The Beat by USRapNews

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Download James Blake — Klavierwerke

Over the past year James Blake has been quietly wooing music critics the world over.  (That sentence began and ended with the same word, ha)  With his singular production aesthetic and wildly accessible body of work, Blake has fast become one of the most important producers around.

The things he does sonically betray every genre they suggest without seeming disobedient or showy.  UK bass music's signifiers decorate Blake's most basic tendencies, but the core of his music is some soul and funk-music quagmire that he navigates via carefully chosen left turns.  Passing associations with dubstep are relevant only insofar as they provide context from whence this music came—a scene characterized by a mile-a-minute progression of new sounds and artists that, in spite of its documented ability to absorb and incorporate its peers' sounds into re-appropriated new forms, has been unable to hold a candle to Blake's unmistakable authority.

Blake's sound is both playfully naive and at times heftily glum.  He tickles his tracks until they let out a flash of uncontrolled emotion, a shriek from say, one of late R&B star Aaliyah's tracks, and your not sure whether to clap or cry so you just press repeat.

Texturally, his music is full of similar contradictions.  Witness dehydrated fuzz blast to the surface for just a moment as liquid bass hugs the bottom end of the mix—both of which operate rhythmically and atmospherically—albeit running in opposite directions.  Experience the vast expanses of his claustrophobic mixing technique or the way in which his tracks breath deeply with life while at the same time choke for air.

Blake's latest release, entitled Klavierwerke or "piano works" (for all you non-German speakers) is, as the title suggests, based largely around his own piano playing.  Far from a classical piece, this EP is a continuation of his warmly futuristic soul contortions—albeit reigned in.  On past releases his tracks rarely raised their voices, throughout this EP they don't climb above a murmur.  Carefully sampling his own humming, hissing, breathing, Blake has created his most personal record yet.

Its a humble move for a guy on the brink of international success.  One that will no doubt encourage more critics and fans to cozy up to his work.

Download the Klavierwerke EP in its entirety here
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