August 30, 2012

Review: Poor Moon – ‘Poor Moon’

Posted in Reviews tagged , at 10:53 am by essentiallyeclectic

When Fleet Foxes members started absconding earlier in the year (drummer J. Tillman quit to focus on solo endeavours, frontman Robin Pecknold began appearing onstage alone more regularly), rumours of the band’s demise had fans crying into their lumberjack shirts. Although no official break up was announced, it soon became clear that there would be no activity from the Seattle-based bearded ones for the foreseeable future, allowing fellow Foxes Christian Wargo and Casey Wescott to bring to the fore their own project, Poor Moon.

Joined by brothers Ian and Peter Murray from The Christmas Cards, forming a kind of folk-based supergroup (like Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young without the cocaine and regular partner swapping), the pair wasted no time in getting into the studio. First came a free-to-download EP (Illusion) in March, now this eponymous debut.

There’s a certain positivity to Poor Moon that may or may not stem from the freedoms afforded away from Pecknold’s overseer role in Fleet Foxes (rumours of the talented frontman’s iron grip on the group’s creative output have been rife, and there was a sense of slave driver perfectionist to last album Helplessness Blues). Opener ‘Clouds Below’ has a light-hearted, almost nursery rhyme feel to it aided by a call-and-response whistling solo with the crickets referred to lyrically.

Elsewhere, there’s a considerable debt owed to whimsical ’60s folk/pop on ‘Holiday’ and ‘Waiting For’, while ‘Phantom Light’ has light Hispanic flavours. Instrumentation is varied and well-placed – check out the eastern tuned percussion and harpsichord touches on ‘Bucky Pony’ – yet the overwhelming influence of Poor Moon’s musical lineage ways heavy throughout, with tracks like ‘Come Home’ harking back to familiar themes of pastoral nostalgia in a very comfortable and formulaic way.

‘Pulling Me Down’ emits slightly more urgency – a harmony heavy bit of indie/folk reminiscent of large chunks of Matador’s less distorted output – while ‘Heaven’s Door”s references to its protagonist “saving some pride for the man with the pitchfork waiting outside” are perhaps a disgruntled jibe at the tastemaker site of the same name dismissing Illusion with a paltry 5.1 rating.

In the post-Foxes release wars this year, Wargo and Wescott have acquitted themselves well against Pecknold’s sporadic solo appearances and Tilman’s hit-and-miss album as Father John Misty. That said, Poor Moon isn’t the strongest of debuts, and burgeoning promise is really all that can be taken from it.

Read this review in context over at THE 405

 

 

 

August 28, 2012

Live: Holy Other @ Rescue Rooms, Nottingham. 26/08/2012

Posted in Reviews tagged , , , at 1:51 pm by essentiallyeclectic

Photo: Ronan Miller

Manchester producer Holy Other has worked hard to cultivate an air of mystery around himself in the run up to the release of debut album ‘Held’. Live appearances covered by a ghostly cowl and a refusal to give his real name in interviews have added to the Burial-style intrigue, which is why it’s slightly surprising to see an unveiled and unassuming character take to the stage behind an array of knobs and wires at Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms.

Wordlessly working through his dark, deconstructed inversions of post-dubstep, bathed in monochrome and dry ice, Holy Other proves a hypnotic performer. Tracks like opener ‘Tense Past’ and forthcoming album title track ‘Held’ marry deep, guttural drones with vocal fragments and rattling beats to create a strangely monastic feel. The tempos rarely move from snail pace, and the huge washes of reverb and synth tones form an air of strangely sombre optimism.

After a curt 45 minutes, Holy Other rather abruptly departs the stage, the dying embers of his final loop still ringing out, and the mesmeric spell is broken. It’s an engaging performance, one aided by a gloomy lighting setup and minimal, swaying visuals – a strong advert for ‘Held’ on the eve of its release.

Read this review in context over at ARTROCKER

 

 

 

August 24, 2012

Review: Jessie Ware – ‘Devotion’

Posted in Reviews tagged , , at 12:00 pm by essentiallyeclectic

R&B appears to be in a healthy place right now. The introspection-not-navel-gazing approach of Frank Ocean, The Weeknd et al has led to a new strain of the genre that’s both efreshing and respectful of its lineage, and South London singer Jessie Ware, on the strength of debut album Devotion, could arguably slide into that category too.

Ware has been lending her sultry pipes to artists such as Man Like Me and Bristol producer Joker (as well as singing backup with old school connection Jack Peñate) for the last couple of years now. A standalone single alongside producer/vocalist Sampha, last year’s ‘Valentine’, brought Ware’s way with a melody to the more immediate attention of the music press, and a continued working relationship with dubstep’s masked poster boy SBTRKT in the months that followed had her rapidly touted as a 2012 “one to watch”.

It’s never easy for the perennially “featured” vocalist to break out on their own, yet Devotion was being widely hyped for months before its eventual release (teased by a futuristic cover of Bobby Caldwell’s ‘What You Won’t Do For Love’ back in May), suggesting that Ware might buck the trend. And now the album has finally arrived, it seems the gushing praise may have been warranted.

As well as Ware’s vocal and songwriting abilities, Devotion provides a platform for a number of well-selected producers. Dave Okumu, frontman of The Invisible and recent onstage electrocution survivor, has a hand in some of its stronger moments, most notably on the title-track opener. A drifting, distant guitar loop sits below a measured beat and Ware’s stripped-back vocal, wasting no time in getting straight into the album’s themes of love, loss and longing from a straight-up, understated perspective. Thematically, this is well-trodden ground, but despite holding an English Literature degree, Ware thankfully resists the temptation to pack her lyrics with over-clever literary references and abstract prose — Devotion is essentially a pop record, after all.

Okumu also mans the boards for ‘No To Love’, a slightly more up-tempo (if not necessarily upbeat) production, with Ware seemingly cursing past actions through the repeated phrase of “who says no to love? / what was I thinking of?”.

One-time Florence + The Machine collaborator Kid Harpoon handles the album’s brassier tracks, with the bombast of ‘Wildest Moments’ vaguely reminiscent of Ms Welch’s cannon, minus the theatrics and honking lead vocal.

‘Still Love Me’ has more than a hint of Prince in its synthesised percussion groove (funnily, it’s first single ‘Running’ that actually samples the pint-sized purple one), and melodically harks back to Ware’s love of Chaka Khan, albeit from a more minimal perspective, while the mid-album duo of ‘Night Light’ and ‘Swan Song’ are both fine examples of the singer’s effortless way with a good hook.

‘Sweet Talk’, one of the poppier cuts here, combines trembling Rhodes chords with a shuffled 12/8 groove favoured by the drum machine programmers of ’80s R&B, and there are real notes of Sade in Ware’s voice. Comparisons can (and have) been drawn between the two, yet one of Devotion’s biggest achievements is its ability to combine songs full of convenient stylistic touchstones with the unique personality of its creator.

‘110%’ tributes Ware’s club background, her Robyn-esque paean to “dancing on my own” set to a flurrying beat not too dissimilar to the Andre 3000 and Kelis collaboration ‘Millionaire’, while closer ‘Something Inside’ is a rather forlorn plea for sanctuary over a misleadingly sweet arrangement of picked guitars minimal drums.

At its worst, Devotion only really deserves minor criticism (slightly formulaic pop/R&B box-ticking on the likes of ‘Wildest Moments’ and ‘Taking In Water’), and even these are just a matter of taste. That aside, the album is tune-heavy, full of wonderful uses of Ware’s voice and an exciting variety of production, and has a fundamental British-ness to it that’s sorely lacking in the recent work of her more mainstream contemporaries.

Read this review in context over at THE STOOL PIGEON

 

 

 

August 22, 2012

Review: Groundislava – ‘Feel Me’

Posted in Reviews tagged , , at 5:44 pm by essentiallyeclectic

Despite being part of California’s prolific Wedidit collective (alongside the likes of Shlohmo, Jonwayne and others), Jasper Patterson has forged a very singular musical path with his work as Groundislava. His production style, a blend of bit-crunched rhythms and warm, fuzzy synths, impressively mixes digital and human elements to form a soundscape that is often surprisingly sombre in mood.

New album Feel Me follows last year’s self-titled debut, and slightly tones down that release’s focus on neck-snapping beats and sawtooth basslines in favour of a more pensive approach.

Opener ‘Cider’ is all woozy synths over bubbling 808 drums, a digital-sounding tide rolling in and out behind the track, and it fast becomes clear that this is most definitely not an ode to glugging White Lightning on a park bench. Feel Me also demonstrates the fact that the young producer really knows how to go about a collaboration: ‘Suicide Mission’ alongside Baths is a stunner, all haunting falsetto and drifting synths unhurried by a rattling beat, and Houses’ eerie contribution to ‘Flooded’ has more than a hint of Gonjasufi’s ominous howl to it.

Patterson released the teaser TV Dream EP earlier in the year, and its Clive Tanaka-featuring title-track makes an appearance here too. It’s a nostalgic sounding cut, Tanaka’s vocoder-ed voice crooning a digitised, two-line love song over clacking drums and ’80s AM radio synths. ‘TV Dream’ drives home the real visual element to Patterson’s work, and it comes as no surprise to learn that his video director father, Michael, was responsible for such timeless clips as A-Ha’s ‘Take On Me’ and Paula Abdul’s ‘Opposites Attract’.

Feel Me ingests genre through its own personal warped filters, before repurposing it for its own gain. Check out the twisted 2-step touches on ‘After Hours’, or the flurrying southern crunk-influenced hi-hats on ‘Cool Party’. There’s an obvious affinity with 8-bit computer game soundtrack aesthetics, from the crunched drum samples to the wobbling synth leads, but underpinning everything throughout is a sense thoughtful atmosphere.

The twin variations ‘Jasper’s Song I’ and ‘Jasper’s Song II’ share a meditative melody that’s heard from a different angle on each, while the big, brassy synths of ‘Olympia 2011’ bely Patterson’s gaming alter-ego more than most tracks here. Closer ‘Love Ribbon’, alongside vocalist Jake Weary, seems a slight afterthought, and, while not lowering the tone in any way, adds little to the release. Nevertheless, Feel Me is a remarkable work: a stunning collection of tracks that flow effortlessly out of the brain of one of the most consistent producers currently in operation.

Read this review in context over at THE 405

August 20, 2012

Review: Mala – ‘Mala in Cuba’

Posted in Reviews tagged , , , at 2:32 pm by essentiallyeclectic

Mala has more of a claim than most to be one of dubstep’s founding fathers (a tag he is reportedly uncomfortable with), and to decide to drop a challenging album fusing his style with sounds from Cuba’s unparalleled musical tradition as his first official full length release is testament to the talent of the man. Not unfamiliar with the knowledge of craft needed for the assimilation of different genres (Mala’s background as a disciple of Jamaican sound system culture has always been evident in his productions across the electronic music map), the Digital Mystikz man was always going to have the skills and creativity to pull this project off.

Mala in Cuba manages to deftly incorporate the fiery temperament of Cuban son into the vast, cavernous spaces of his production style without ever once compromising either, and, with all its intricacies, it isn’t surprising to learn that the album has been in production for over a year.

It also comes as no surprise to discover that the project has Giles Peterson’s fingerprints all over it – a European artist producing some contemporary fusion in Cuba would be foolish not to tap up the seasoned DJ – and Mala in Cuba is slated for release on the Brownswood label. Peterson famously had a hand in the creation of Roni Size Reprazent’s New Forms, bringing the worlds of jazz and drum & bass together in a staggering feat of production, and it appears he’s struck gold once again by curating this masterpiece.

Contributions by stars of the Cuban scene are expertly merged into the heaving beats, from pianist Roberto Fonseca’s gentle chords on the introduction (and sporadically throughout), to percussionist Changuito’s flurry of syncopated rhythms added to the track that bears his name. Timbales jangle and pianos tinkle, while all the while there’s that rhythm and bass-heavy Mala production mutating underneath. ‘Mulata’ and ‘Tribal’ both share a deconstructed, half-time drum & bass feel, unsettling piano chords dotted in and out of the percussion, while the rallying cry and twisting tempos of ‘Como Como’ make it an early highlight.

‘Cuba Electronic’ and ‘Calle F’ both appeared earlier in the month on a preview 12”, and show the variety of approach that runs through Mala in Cuba: the former a rampant, echoing mover; the latter a playful, salsa-inflected cut complete with a scatterbrain trumpet solo.

For those only interested in Mala’s dubstep endeavours, ‘The Tunnel’ provides a bit of bass-induced speaker movement, while ‘Ghost’ brings some melancholic triplet groove to the party. ‘The Tourist’ most clearly harks back to the Tres Cubano and double bass sounds brought to the attention of the world by The Buena Vista Social Club 15 years ago, Mala treating the chiming guitar phrases delicately with minimal percussion, before the drifting strings and reverberating piano chords of ‘Change’ eases the tone back down towards the daylight hours.

Danay Suarez adds her seductive and sultry vocals Noches Sueños, riding over a spaciously dub-heavy production with window-shattering potential. It’s a pensive closing to an album that has twisted, turned, shocked and awed its way through almost an hour of some of the most seamless and natural sounding combinations of genre you’re likely to hear in a long, long time.

Read this review in context over at HYPONIK

 

 

 

August 18, 2012

Review: JJ DOOM – ‘Keys to the Kuffs’

Posted in Reviews tagged , , , at 11:03 am by essentiallyeclectic

Masked rapper Doom has not built his cult status on solo efforts alone; he has also proved himself a strong collaborator over the years. Teaming up with the likes of Danger Mouse as DANGERDOOM, or Ghostface Killah as DOOMSTARKS (pattern forming here?), the MC born Daniel Dumile has steadily built a reputation for esoteric and complex rhyme styles coupled with a sly, slightly bitter sense of humour. His latest collaborative project sees Dumile take on the Brainfeeder-type beats of producer/MC Jneiro Jarel as — you guessed it — JJ DOOM.

Keys To The Kuffs is informed strongly by Dumile’s self-imposed exile in London during its creation, with regular snippets of hammed-up cockney screen dialogue dotted around the off-centre jerk of Jarel’s beats. Tracks like ‘Rhymin’ Slang’ and ‘Gov’ner’ — the former an early highlight, the latter’s hook a veiled homage to Dick Van Dyke’s chimney sweep mockney — further the jellied-eels vibe, while Dumile’s lyrical dexterity has rarely been stronger than on the rapid-fire wordplay of ‘Banished’. Singer Boston Fielder adds some psychedelic soul touches to ‘Bout The Shoes’ as Dumile takes a break, returning for ‘Winter Blues’ — the nearest thing to a love song on any DOOM release.

The expected idiosyncratic references are back (everything from ‘My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding’ to troublesome Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull), and there are further cameos from the likes of Damon Albarn and Beth Gibbons. Goodie Mob member Khujo brings some dirty south slur to ‘Still Kaps’, while closer ‘Wash Your Hands’ is the best example here of Dumile’s observational wit, preaching good hygiene practice over one of Jarel’s more hypnotic productions.

‘Retarded Fren’ has been doing the blog rounds for a few months (receiving a Thom Yorke & Jonny Greenwood remix in the process), and is one of the album’s stronger, if slightly darker, cuts. Jarel flips an ominous sample into a dimly lit alleyway head-nodder, another example of the strength of production evident throughout Keys To The Kuffs, possibly DOOM’s most attractive collaborative effort to date.

Read this review in context over at THE STOOL PIGEON

August 14, 2012

Review: Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – ‘Mature Themes’

Posted in Reviews tagged , , at 6:39 pm by essentiallyeclectic

The psychedelic LA freakster with a penchant for ’70s AM radio soft rock styles returns with Mature Themes, the second release under the Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti banner. Following the stellar 2010 set and 4AD debut Before Today (featuring incessantly catchy earworm ‘Round And Round’), the record further demonstrates Pink’s skilful way with lo-fi production techniques.

Like friend and recent collaborator R. Stevie Moore, Pink makes use of tape saturation and murky frequencies to add a gloss of otherworldliness to cuts like ‘Driftwood’ and the floating ‘Nostradamus & Me’, flaunting the muddiness to good effect without letting it dominate.

There are more moments of sonic clarity here than on previous Ariel Pink releases, however. ‘Only In My Dreams’ is jangly ’60s harmony pop — a furrow that’s also ploughed on the excellent title track — and ‘Live It Up’’s cascading synths are a delight.

‘Is This The Best Spot’ has a hint of Apostrophe-era Frank Zappa in its combination of complex melodic runs and wry humour, while ‘Schnitzel Boogie’ is a delight – a woozy blues shuffle with its needles deep in the red. It’s not all rosy for Pink, though, as elsewhere tracks like ‘Pink Slime’ and ‘Symphony Of The Nymph’ come up a little short in their psychedelic noodling.

Closer ‘Baby’ is a faithful cover of a cult Donny & Joe Emerson track that seems to be getting a lot of love this year (it also cropped up on Dean Blunt & Inga Copeland’s brilliant Black Is Beautiful). Pink’s version features fellow Californian DaM-FunK, and the pair take on the simple love song with all of the ghostly sheen of the original left intact.

Before Today was an album dotted with sublime moments in among the occasional moment of over-indulgence from Pink, and Mature Themes shares a similar hit-and-miss pattern. That said, there’s plenty here to please Haunted Graffiti fans, and the album’s highlights are strong enough to make this a more-than worthy follow-up.

Read this review in context over at THE STOOL PIGEON

 

 

 

August 3, 2012

Live: Savages – The Bodega, Nottingham. 30/07/12

Posted in Reviews tagged , , , at 4:33 pm by essentiallyeclectic

“The songs aim to remind us that human beings haven’t evolved so much, that music can still be straight to the point, efficient and exciting” goes a quote from Savagesown website. Surrounded by the type of hype that only a band with one split single and a couple of scraps of live footage to their name can generate, the London four-piece certainly hold true to their word, delivering a set of cold, primal post-punk with enough nuance to remain totally absorbing.

Despite playing their debut gig in January of this year, the quartet already appears to have formed a tight unit – intentionally loose but not scrappy – built on the solid foundation of Fay Milton’ pounding drums and the Motorik bass of Ayse Hassan.

Opening with no hint of a greeting, and bathed in dry ice, the band’s curt and direct 45-minute set is packed full of an ominous, tense energy, lit solely by an onstage spotlight that casts angular and mesmeric shadow puppets on the wall. The high-register yelps of Gallic frontwoman Jehnny Beth (formerly of Lo-fi indie duo John and Jehn) have more than a hint of Ari Up or the late Poly Styrene about them, and the desperate urgency in her tone often verges on conjuring genuine concern in the listener. Her between-song patter is minimal to say the least, in-keeping with the group’s standoffish image, and no song is introduced by name aside from the already released B-side ‘Husbands’: a frantic and foreboding track in the guise of The Pop Group or (it was only a matter of time) earlier Joy Division – a steamroller version of which closed the set.

Gemma Thompson’s spare guitar lines add the only suggestion of colour to an otherwise monochrome setup, picking echoing phrases through the gloom of ‘Flying to Berlin’ before turning on the fuzz. It’s the required melodic balance to the Savages brooding sound, and one that teases further a debut LP – something Beth’s own Pop Noire label assure us is on the horizon. Judging by the favourable reaction to tonight’s showing, it had better be.

Read this review in context over at THE 405

 

 

 

July 31, 2012

Review: Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra – ‘Antibalas’

Posted in Reviews tagged , , , , , , at 5:41 pm by essentiallyeclectic

In the late ’00s, a resurgence of afro-beat – through the Gabriel-esque plundering of Vampire Weekend, Dirty Projectors et al – stretched no further than twee incorporations of Highlife guitar styles into hipster indie. Others, such as The Very Best, took a different approach, fusing contemporary sounds from the continent into a new mix of pan-global electro pop. Antibalas went 10 steps beyond, however, their musical M.O. stretching all the way back to the ’60s/’70s heyday of the West African style largely wrestled into the world’s eye by the late and legendary Fela Kuti.

The multi-legged Brooklyn collective started life around 1998, and have since released several albums of good, faithful and pitch-perfect pastiche through labels like Ninja Tune and Daptone (the group share both members and a raison d’être with The Dap Kings), showing both a clear understanding and a healthy respect for where this stuff comes from while tweaking the sound into the 21st century. Latest album Antibalas sees no drastic change of pace, with the syncopated rhythms, clipped guitar lines and thick horns of Kuti’s Africa 70 band honoured loyally through six lengthy tracks of loping afro-beat.

Opener ‘Dirty Money’, featuring a winding keyboard break from Victor Axelrod – better known for his work as neo-dub producer Ticklah – snakes through a fluctuating arrangement before frontman Amayo enters to perform a bit of classic call-and-response with his backing singers.

‘The Ratcatcher’ follows a similar trajectory – a tale of man who will deal with any animal besides the prolific rodent playing out over classic two-part guitar interplay and explosive horns – while ‘Ìbèjì’ brings a change of pace, slowing the syncopated burst down to walking speed to include a rasping trumpet solo from Jordan McLean.

The loose introduction to highlight ‘Sáré Kon Kon’ suddenly explodes into a flurrying riot of horns and percussion, Amayo’s lyrics roughly, and aptly, translating as “we’re running, we’re running, we don’t know where we’re going, but everybody’s running” – a strong closer to a strong album.

Great compilations from labels like Strut Records and Evolver have done a lot to highlight the roots of West African funk, soul and afro-beat in recent years, but in the field of second-wave afro-beat, Antibalas cannont be touched – indeed, their chosen name translates from Spanish as ‘bulletproof’ – and this album is perhaps the clearest distillation of the their manifesto to date. Maybe this partly explains the decision to self-title their fifth release a decade-and-a-half into their career.

Read this review in context over at THE 405

July 26, 2012

Feature: Flying Lotus, ‘1983’ and the Brainfeeder Jerk

Posted in Features tagged , , at 12:36 pm by essentiallyeclectic

You know how it goes. It’s 2008, or 2010 or whatever, and you’ve been dragged along to watch some producer do a “live set” at a nearby club, having been told he does “that twisted, instrumental hip-hop like FlyLo”. The description alone has set alarm bells ringing, and by the time you get to the place and see some skinny guy nodding away behind a laptop with some headphones on, playing some distinctly average, off-kilter beats while occasionally attacking a sampler in a manner he hopes looks “possessed”, you start looking nervously to the exit and wondering how much of your entrance fee you could haggle back if you left now. “It wasn’t always like this”, you sigh to yourself as your mind drifts into the not-too-distant past, and wavy lines appear down the screen to indicate a flashback…

When Steven Ellison released his debut LP back in 2006, the producer who called himself Flying Lotus (now often abbreviated to FlyLo because syllables are difficult in the 21st century) quickly became the poster boy for an expanding instrumental hip-hop sub-genre known variously as Wonky, Street Bass, Aquacrunk, Purple, Broken Hip-Hop, Jerk, Post-FlyLo (confusingly), and any number of other misleading misnomers. Invariably, these descriptors referred to anything with a viciously swung drum pattern, a combination of either dusty keys samples or overdriven bass and synth lines, and disorientating, experimental arrangements.

The album in question, 1983, documented the style so accurately that its legacy has possibly been blown out of proportion to the quality of the music it contained. Sure, it’s a great listen. The opening title track pairs opulently warm synths with that tell-tale jerk in the beat, while ‘Unexpected Delight’ closes it off with a near-lullaby voiced by singer Laura Darlington. In-between these bookends are no end of skipping drums, frantic basslines and manipulated jazz samples all twisted into attractive instrumentals. Yet, there’s nothing so musically special in there to justify its landmark status; that comes from the proceeding fallout.

At its best, early inversions of the sound were thrilling. Some of 1983’s more attractive offspring – albums like Onandon and Lemurian by British producer Lukid and Lone respectively – briefly justified its omnipresence by giving glimpses into how the style could be developed and taken forward. At its worst, it was regurgitated ad nauseum amongst producers with a similar prolificacy to the influx of wobbly basslines and half-time beat drops that were thrown over every track in the wake of dubstep’s mainstream explosion.

It was also quickly acknowledged that the sound was by no means original. Another of its monikers shamelessly refers to the style as post-Dilla, and just one glance at the late James D Yancey’s back catalogue would confirm this: from classics like Welcome 2 Detroit, to collaborative efforts as part of production teams that reach back far into the ‘90s (The Ummah with A Tribe Called Quest, Soulquarians alongside the influential behind-the-beat or in-the-pocket grooves of Questlove). Strains of Champion Sound, Dilla’s collaboration with Californian producer Madlib as Jaylib, can be detected in tracks like ‘Sao Paolo’ from 1983, while Q-Tip’s post-Tribe solo offerings or RJD2’s classic Deadringer surely touched tracks like ‘Shifty’ and ‘Bad Actors’. Nevertheless, FlyLo solidified a hip-hop sub sect that until that time had no nucleus; firstly musically with 1983, and then physically with the introduction of his Brainfeeder imprint.

Brainfeeder became the home of a number of underground LA musicians who combined jazz, soul, and bass under that all-important beat shuffle, eventually expanding to take on new signings from across the globe (recent inductees like Lapalux bely Flying Lotus influences as faces in a new emerging generation). The name ‘Brainfeeder’ itself has become another shorthand term for the style its artists create, and like all sub genres (however small), the Brainfeeder sound owes a large debt to a particular club; in this case The Airliner in Lincoln Heights, and its ‘Low End Theory’ club night. The likes of Daedelus and Nosaj Thing can doff their collective cap to the night as a stakeholder in their success, and splinter sects of the night have popped up everywhere from nearby San Francisco to New York and Japan.

Like it or hate it, the Brainfeeder sound is now part of the instrumental hip-hop fabric, its influences stretching across multiple genres globally. While its spaced-out jazz and twisted beats have elevated the label’s status, some of its artists have expressed dissatisfaction with the pigeon-holing they’ve received, not least the boss himself. After the release of 1983, Flying Lotus spent the next few years desperately trying to detach himself to any genre, let alone Wonky et al, which thankfully resulted in both the progressive Los Angeles and the terrifyingly imperious, if stylistically schizophrenic, Cosmogramma. But his legacy still remains that ubiquitous jerk; that twitching shuffle; that twisted, off-centre groove; 1983.

Read this feature in context over at HYPONIK

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