May 072010

It’s hard to put the finger on what’s been missing in the sound coming out of New York the last years. Of course, the scene has stagnated creatively more and more, ever since the peak in the nineties. Everybody’s emulating Premier, Just Blaze, Jay-Z, Biggie, adding nothing. Look at this single from one of the city’s most trustworthy hardcore representatives. Or let one of the original architects speak:

(…) first of all, music’s gotten mad stale. It’s gotten, everything has become a regurgitaion of something else. Hip hop has just taken records… now hip hop is taking records from the ‘80s and looping records and just putting their spin on it. The only records that are pretty interesting are some of the down south records. But they get monotonous after a while.

But if we look at the releases that’s been really, really, really worthwhile… like Blaq Poet, Cormega, and now, Roc Marciano… it’s still the same formula. Nothing new. Except they’re still hungry. Still getting better. And they’re not hating on the south. (Remember: Cormega recorded with Lil Wayne two decades past.)

Now, let the man whose album I’m reviewing have the last word:

A lotta cats on the underground don’t really dig mainstream cats – I ain’t mad at them niggas! I feel like some of them niggas are talented, man. Just doin’ different styles of music. Word up. I fuck with some southern niggas too! I fuck with Jeezy and cats like that. I fuck around with that stuff. I like that street shit. Some people don’t understand street culture – some music ain’t about just hip-hop – some music is just some street shit, and you gotta respect it for what it is. People in the hood connecting with it, ‘cos there’s something there. (…)

Does traveling to different cities open your ears to different sounds?

To be honest – no. I like what I like, so nobodies really changing my mind. I’m stubborn as it, I’m doin’ what I want to do. My shit is my shit. If you listen to my album – who else got that? You can’t get that from nobody but me! That’s my shit and I’m stayin’ on my shit. I’ll fuck with other people on collaborations, but my music? I’m at a point right now, I want to hone it and get better and better at it. I don’t want to start rapping over techno beats and be like, ‘Oh yeah, I’m experimenting’ Fuck experimenting, man! Do what you do and get better at what you do.

Exactly. No one’s perfected rap yet.

It’s a constant learning experience. People say, ‘I don’t wanna do that, I did that in the past’. Well, you could do it – do it better!

Apr 212010

The dub techno formula has a tendency to inbreed. Few are the ones who succeed in bringing freshness to the table, year in, year out. Even an outstanding player like Marko Fürstenberg can get stuck in a rut. That’s why I admire Statik Entertainment‘s work during the last years. New beats. New sounds. Like number 022 in their catalogue. Techno music so minimal that it doesn’t have a techno beat. Crisp like computer chip prototypes. Meditative like slowly falling summer rain.

Statik Entertainment is pushing the limits of their genre the same way that Hyperdub is pushing their, with new drums, sounds, effects, and song structures, sometimes arriving at virgin land that artists such as Ikonika also have visited, but looking at it from another angle, in another mood. Listen to something like Grit’s Traction , from Satellite Religion, to see what I’m talking about.

From what I’ve heard from their catalog so far, I’d further recommend Exos’ U Cant Stop Time, Leonid’s Mora and Daniel Stefanik’s full length Reactivity.

Apr 112010

Gal Costas första skiva bekräftar min tes att 60-talets Brasilien höll sina öron och huvuden vidöppna. Dels flöt hippie-träskfebern och ett senmodernistiskt högrtyck in över landet, dels är Brasilien redan pga kulturblandningen till sin natur mycket eklektiskt, dels tryckte diktaturtider på. Huvudvärkstabletter hjälper inte. Det måste ut. Snabbt. Allt på en gång. Bisarreriets och nybrytandets lägstanivå var naturligt högre.

Gal Costa sjunger ungdomligt och gudomligt. Och ja, det handlar om den anländande generationen, den modernitet som även här vecklades ut mellan betongbyggnader, coca cola-flaskor och studioeffekter.

På första låten sjunger hon att hon är ensam och förälskad, ett oidentifierbart flygande objekt, hon ska skriva en låt om kärlek och spela in det på en “disco voador”. (Ett flygande tefat, egentligen “flygande skiva”; man använder alltså samma ord för tefat och vinyl… ytterligare en sympatisk feature i portugisiskan.) De flesta spåren på den här skivan är mycket väl producerade för att effektfullt lyfta fram denna fritt framåtblickande vision. Det är en hyfsat omistlig del av den brasilianska muiskhistorien. Speciellt covern av Jorge Bens Que Pena, speciellt då Jorge Ben själv gästar. “Han är en ros, andra är basilika.” När Brasiliens största sjunger om kärlek, jag menar: det finns inte bättre musik.

Gal Costa f. Jorge Ben – Que Pen

Nov 052009

They say dub is about making space.

That is why it is music for the city, where space has always been missing.

It’s getting more difficult to find somewhere to live. Rents are going up. New spaces are needed.

Dub music, in one form or other, is necessary. This was the conclusion that came to me some years ago, riding the train through the center of Amsterdam with Lee Perry in the headphones. With time it has become clearer and clearer. The effects, echoes and repetitions fit this landscape perfectly. Here is also the need to meditate on the emptiness and the nothingness, which connects to our strong feelings for open spaces; rooftops, parking places, abandoned lots and closed down industrial areas.

Dub music is tradition. The visionary tradition. The tradition of community making, of a social movement. But a tradition needs growth to stay strong. It needs innovators.

Dub Music as expressed by artists such as Maurizio, Safety Scissors, Luke Hess, Christian Bloch, Vladislav Delay and Markus Fürstenberg seems to be designed specifically for the present urban situation to a high degree. Unlike the melancholic expressiveness of alternative rock, rap music’s dreams of private profits, and reggae music’s longing for a rural situation, it can bring a whole new light to a day of grey asphalt and grey buildings.

This music shows the world beyond the despair and dread of our times. It opens up space. For escape and resistance. For possiblities of community. For a coming generation. For the birth of new life.


Jul 232009

Skweee-soldier Eero Johannes self-titled debut album on Planet Mu (label child of IDM-maverick Mike Paradinas, world famous for creating one of the hardest electronica tracks ever… well, at least it was the most uncompromising, beautifully controlled bloodsport BPM-beating of its era… seeing him live at Roskilde in 1998 was a defining experience for me) is the best I’ve heard in skweee so far.


What is skweee anyway? I mean, the sound is pretty diverse on their compilations, with beats and ideas all over the place. I think it’s easier to see it as a movement: a dozen or so Swedes and Finns who have studied electro funk, dirty south and modern R&B thoroughly, and now apply what they have learnt on the vintage synthesizers, video games sounds and DIY-spirit that they’ve grown up on. More than anything else, it is the lo-fi aesthetic that defines them (with skweee referring to squeeezing out the most of their arcane equipment).

Noting that, it is interesting to see the very talented Eero Johannes spreading his wings here, sometimes lifting from the lo-fi valleys of home to sail among the clouds in the sky. Lipton Service Boy delivers euphoric electro pop. He mixes dubstep and new romantic influences on Sumuhumus and gets away with it. Hal Manifesto is both computer poetic and mad funky at the same time (which is quite an achievement, actually). Natt i spårvagnen and Mobile 363 are equally funky, while Eläin wanders out further into the electronica wilderness.

Delicately balanced between futurism and nostalgia, Eero Johannes is a multifaceted and innovative release that you ought not miss.

Now let’s see what kindo of show they put on live!

Jul 212009

This Flogsta Danshall compilation from last year is quite a good introdution to the skweee genre (wikipedia says that the name “was coined by Daniel Savio, one of the originators of the emerging sound. The name refers to the use of vintage synthesizers in the production process, were the aim is to “squeeze out” as interesting sounds as possible“).

The tracks are mostly pretty experimental, with a few more stable electronic funk tracks to keep things interesting (even though they’re also pretty out there). Using the immanent lo-fi aesthetics of the genre to punch out IDM and glitch-like material feels too easy, and not very interesting to listen to. Of those tracks, Eero Johannes’ Finnrexin, from his brilliant self-titled Planet Mu release, gets a pass thanks to its beautiful electronica vibes. Other than that – add some much-needed funk to the recipe or get out of the kitchen!

It is better to take the said dirty south and booty-influences of the genre seriously, crank up the bass, and skweeeze out some ass shaking, titty bouncing, sweat inducing, dance floor bangers. Well, they’re not quite there. Not yet. But with tracks like Drums’ Giants, Randy Barracuda’s Shock The Plankton and Metske’s Street they have written a new chapter in the book of electronic funk. For that I salute them.


You can catch the Flogsta Danshall crew going live against the Harmönia collective at the Norberg festival this summer!

Jul 072009

“… I’m pure New York, got train tracks inside me…

Blaq Poet Don’t Give A Fuccc!”

The hardest track out this year. While half of New York is busy trying to sound like the South, the other half is trying to emulate the mid-nineties. But while they are looking to the past, Poet is doing what he always does. He is bringing the hardcore with renewed energy. I missed this kind of aggressiveness in rap music today.

Not the most innovative album ever, The Blaqprint still hits you as hard as anything from the golden era of harcore New York. Apart from some filler guest raps, it is packed with Primo-produced bangers like the one posted above. Some posters claim that the production is subpar, that DJ Premier has fallen off, that he needs to update his drums. That is not true. S.O.S. and U Phucc’d Up and Never Goodbye and Hood Crazy and especially the chilling Voices shows you why.

It is a shame and a testament to the sad state of music that you will not hear anything from this played on the radio or in the club. It is not even fair, I mean, Blaq Poet went out of his way, I mean really stretched his format to make a hot club track. Perhaps he shouldn’t have named it Stretch Marks & Cigarette Burns.


“You aint heard this type shit in a very long time…”

May 042009

More Crime (Barney) was one of the great standout tracks on Cormega’s Legal Hustle compilation. Listening through The Jack Artist, it’s clear that The Jacka got enough greatness to fill up a full length. He continues to lay down his raps with the understated, down to earth, reflective veteran confidence we learned to love on More Crime. And just like on that track the production is laidback and dreamy (sometimes even trippy; maybe that’s a Bay Area thing), built from the ground up with soul-samples that are treated with the attention and innovative spirit we know from a Ghostface record.

Feel This Clip displays a more hostile G-Funk, all pitched, psychotic Starchild raps and anger management synthesizers. You must balance the force. But when that fades into F@#k With the Mob we’re reminded a problem with one too many of these modern rap albums: too many guest raps.

Still, The Jack Artist is one of the more interesting rap albums of recent times.

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