This is an overview of the music that the 909 crew are feeling this month. Not focused on new releases, it serves as an insight to our musical journeys and the discoveries we make on the way.
Nightfall In Camp – Cada Día
Who knew that Belgian pop from the 80’s could be so damn smooth?! The newest LP from Music From Memory, compiled by Jamie Tiller and Raphael Top Secret, sheds light upon the less trodden path of European pop music between 1980-1991. Although I have heaped the utmost of praises upon this label (see here), this is the first record I’ve bought from them since Gaussian Curve’s Clouds. Since that LP, the imprint has released an astonishing 27 records, which reveals both the unprecedented success of the label and the relentless work ethic of its members. This compilation might well be my favourite release yet, and this song is an absolute highlight. I really dig its gentle melancholy, and it is as light and airy as a Belgian croissant. It feels like the musical equivalent of closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths. The fluttering flute lines are also pretty sick as well, although they kinda throw me off the vibe a bit cause they just remind me of Anchorman. However, excusing my inability to take a flute seriously, the musicianship of the whole song is pretty impressive throughout. Everything feels understated and yet incredibly classy. This is pop music at its most cool and collected.
Serge Bulot – Violectra
After extensively listening to DJ Sotofett’s discography, I have become greatly appreciative of the complexity of percussion. I feel it is the antidote to the boring 4×4 shite that is being constantly peddled around the scene. I also appreciate how bloody difficult it is to pull off, and it adds a totally new dimension to most ambient tracks. This is an embodiment of that ideal. Expertly composed and brilliantly executed, this song is an intricate and intimate piece of sound design that is as warm and comforting as it is erratic and ambiguous. I feel that the gloopy, rhythmic drum beats juxtapose the distorted electric guitar perfectly. and the two work together to create some really satisfying atmospherics. Although this music can almost be described as timeless, my initial assumption was that this would be some 90’s cut. However, I was surprised to learn that this is from 2017. Considering this is like a weird love child between new age and psychedelic, it is exciting to see that producers on the circuit today are continuing to push boundaries and make really dynamic, genre-bending music. Please don’t stop.
Garland – SMO.DVE
I picked up this album from the excellent Low Company record store in Hackney a couple of weeks back. It is a rather intimate and boutique shop, but there was some serious heat in its bins. As well as this, I grabbed the much lauded reissue of Hiroshi Yoshimura’s seminal album Music for Nine Post Cards, which saved me paying the excruciating price tag for an original copy. This LP from Garland was released by the Lullabies for Insomniacs label, which is run by Izabel. She is a wicked DJ, and Lullabies for Insomniacs is one of the best and most exciting labels around at the moment. Great name as well. There isn’t much information about Garland, or anything really about this album. I very much doubt it is the same Garland who made the Vunk anthem Heartbeat (see here), and as it is a white label there is nothing on the record itself to give us anything. In a way this is nice, as it forces you to pay attention to nothing but the music and the record sleeve, which is beautifully ambiguous. What intrigued me about this song is how there was an odd unity between the tribal and mechanic forces at work. And to me, those cold, hard sounds really contrast with the warm, steadfast organ that plays subtly in the background. It is a contest between the alien and the human. It feels as though the song accomplishes so much in its three short minutes. A whole journey is conveyed, a tough battle is fought, and the shimmering synths that punctuate the end segment suggest to me that the human is victorious. Of course this is a totally subjective perception of the song, and you probably think I’m batshit crazy. But hey, if music doesn’t make you go on totally captivating journeys such as these, you’re listening to the wrong music. Simple as.
Funk D’Void – Emotional Content (Vince Watson Reconstruction)
This is kind of a controversial choice, and cause I like being controversial I’m going to address why I’ve decided to include this song here, other than the fact that it is totally killer. Funk D’Void has faced deserved criticism for selling Proud Boys merchandise, a right-wing organisation started by Gavin McInnes, the co-founder of Vice. Now this Proud Boys organisation pedals some pretty shitty views, and wears its chauvinism on its sleeve as a badge of honour. The fact that Funk D’Void has sold merchandise of this group on his website suggests that might be a part of this organisation, and at the very least is sympathetic to their views. So we can therefore conclude that Funk D’Void is most likely a bit of a dickhead. Promoters have taken him off bills because of this, and I think that’s an entirely plausible thing to do in response, as his anti-feminist and possibly homophobic views are the antithesis of the scene’s values. However, I am not comfortable with the idea that Funk D’Void’s music should be censored because of his personal views. Firstly, I do not believe that any music should be censored from the dance floor, whoever made it. Even if Tommy Robinson and Katie Hopkins collabed on an experimental drone EP, I would consider it fair game. To censor music from a dance floor undermines the paramount freedom that a floor is supposed to represent, and it is one step towards demanding ideological conformity on the floor. Secondly, I do not think that music is necessarily an embodiment of the values of the artist. If you listen to Emotional Content, the melody is one that sings of hope and optimism. Although of course I can’t comment upon what Funk D’Void was aiming to achieve with the emotions from this song, I highly doubt this song is a tool to promote the inferiority of women. Once a song has been created and put out, it no longer fully belongs to the artist. It becomes universal. It just as much belongs to you and me as it belongs to the artist. Aside from the royalties of course… (but I downloaded this off Soulseek and bought it off Discogs so I can promise you not a single of my pennies has lined Funk D’Void’s pocket.) Finally, this is the Vince Watson Reconstruction. Remixing a sexist doesn’t make you a sexist does it? Association does not specifically mean complicity. So yeah we can take Funk D’Void off lineups and call him a wanker on social media, but I reserve my right to listen to and love this song without associating it in any way to the artist. There is a risk that those who wish to censor music such as this will imply complicity to those who rightly tell those people to fuck right off. That is a dangerous precedent, and that simply cannot happen in a scene that champions freedom and individuality.
Punctum – Glory Bitch
Man oh man this is just an absolute trip! It is extremely difficult to achieve a balance between such contrasting emotions, but I believe that Punctum has done it perfectly here. On the one hand, this song is wildly dark, claustrophobic and intimidating. The deep, tribal drums are just fantastic, and that synth line drifts in as smoothly as the smoke from a cigarette. However, on the other hand this song is dramatically anthemic and triumphalist. There is a shift at some point in the song where it suddenly becomes supremely powerful and evocative, and although it is just an ambient tune it feels like music destined for stadiums and amphitheatres. Once the crescendo is hit, it slowly embarks onwards, slinking out of your eardrums and onto the next. It is just an absolutely fantastic piece of music, all the more so because it uses generic, tried and tested formulae to make something completely unique. If this doesn’t make you do your best Owen Wilson ‘wow’, then I don’t know what will to be honest. It certainly won’t be Owen Wilson’s latest film, that’s for sure…