Listening Post: 3rd September Albums of the week A classic week for understated out-there pop, as the Egyptian Hip Hop solo project reaches high.
Album of the week: Aldous R H – ‘MISC. DISC.’ [Enfer Records]
Back in 1979, Paul McCartney spent a month in a studio in Scotland, messing about with synthesisers and experimenting with recording techniques. The result was ‘McCartney II’, a bizarre oddity in the canon of Beatles history – a freaked out, psychedelic and utterly unique record, and one that was ‘solo’ in the truest sense of the word, with McCartney playing every instrument himself whilst acting as the LP’s writer, producer, recorder and engineer. In 2012, Egyptian Hip Hop are (finally) read to release their debut album, ‘Good Don’t Sleep’, through the infallible R&S Records. During the extended gap between the album’s recording and its release, frontman Aldous Robinson Hewett decided to record some solo material under the same restrictions as ‘McCartney II’, right down the the dodgy drumming. The result is ‘MISC. DISC.’, a lush, lo-fi and incredibly rewarding album that owes as much to home recording heroes Ariel Pink and R. Stevie Moore as it does to McCartney’s bizarro curveball.
It’s perhaps because of the quick turnaround time (just over a month) and the self-imposed confines that ‘MISC. DISC.’ works so well, with songs that seem to have been written instinctively rather than through constant refinery. It’s rarely samey stylistically, with uptempo psych rockers like the infectious The Scorpion Swings sitting alongside the minimalist, Daniel Lopatin-esque drones of Reverie For Rev. F Yongo. The variety of styles are bound together by Hewett’s approach to sound design – the production (or rather, lack of), where songs are stripped to their bare bones and drenched in layers of lo-fidelity and haze, creates unique world for the music that exists outside of time and space. But while the sonics of production are interesting, this alone does not make a record. What makes ‘MISC. DISC.’ so special is the sense of sincerity that it conveys. Despite the daft song titles, despite the novel concept that formed the record’s basis, and despite the hazy sound, it is totally honest in its execution and straightforward in its songwriting. This is evidenced no better than on the album’s romantic and introverted highlight, Love Is Inside You. Simple and unpretentious, it is one of the most mesmerising and straight-up beautiful pieces of music you’ll hear this year. [SB]
Erol Alkan – ‘Another Bugged Out Mix/Another Bugged In Selection’ [!K7]
Dummy’s pick of CDs in the first week of September comes from one of the busiest men of 2012, Erol Alkan. Having done several mixes and compilations as well as running the Phantasy Sound record label, his latest output, ‘Another Bugged Out Mix / Another Bugged In Selection’, is a follow-up of his first Bugged Out! compilation, released back in 2005. While featuring a handful of tracks by the likes of Model 500, Scuba, In Flagranti, Jared Wilson, Jimmy Edgar, Factory Floor and many more, the tracklist of Bugged Out Mix looks promising on first glance. Strictly rhythmical and exuberant, it stomps through electro, nu-disco, classic techno, and distorted acid house to exert an obvious energy that directs towards the dancefloor. Ending the mix with his own extended rework of Connan Mockasin’s Forever Dolphin Love is an interesting take that eases into the Bugged In Selection, which pitches down and invites us to a luxuriant collection of entirely different sounds that land outside the realm of clubland.
What’s impressive about this compilation is how it flawlessly demonstrates Erol’s ability to transfer the sonic energy from the glitchy, melody-rich grooves of house and techno to the extensive volumes of eclectic, subtle warmth that comes from soft rock and psychedelic. With both mixes recorded live, it, as Erol once admitted that, is not a crafty display of computer-generated sounds. Rather, it is an engaging approach that perfectly captures the fluidity of sounds, how they build and manipulate tone and atmosphere to create a narrative exclusive to this mix. [KKYC]
A$AP Mob – ‘Lords Never Worry’ [Web]
A$AP Rocky was eighteen when he brought the A$AP Mob together, and the easy sparring that dominates the collective’s latest mixtape, ‘Lord$ Never Worry’, comes out of the comfortable yet competitive dynamic of a group of people that have grown up together. Boasting features from Danny Brown, Raekwon, Jim Jones and more, this latest mixtape from the collective has a lairy swagger to it that Rocky’s solo releases tend to keep to a more muted level. Here, with the mob placed in direct conversation, the brash, blistering sharp edges of their tongues provide a loud, crude wall of sound, as A$AP Ferg, A$AP Twelvy, A$AP Ant and more battle for dominance. Not to mention, there’s production here from the likes of Clams Casino and AraabMuzik, adding an extra level of immensity to an already huge project. You can download the whole thing over at Live Mixtapes. [AC]
Supreme Cuts & Haleek Maul – ‘Chrome Lips’ [Mishka]
Barbadian rapper Haleek Maul is infuriatingly talented for his age, and Chrome Lips, his just-released collaborative mixtape with Chicago duo Supreme Cuts is, unsurprisingly, brilliant. When spread over the spacey, richly layered beats of Supreme Cuts, Haleek’s biting flow hits harder, with beat and voice meandering together in an intuitive, instinctive rhythm. M00N has to be a stand out track, with its Clams Casino-ish, King Crimson-sampling, screwed-up beat and an alternately mumbling and shouting monologue of insight from the rapper who, it’s hard to believe, is still only a teenager. Genre-blending is something that Haleek admits to being fascinated by, and with such a dynamic collaboration as this already under his belt, he’s affirming his place in a generation of rappers who are being led by their emotions, going with whatever feels right, rather than by the expectations of others. [AC]
Maria Minerva -‘Will Happiness Find Me?’ [Not Not Fun]
The appeal of Maria Minerva’s music has always been its complete deconstruction of dance music, the way she pieces together the bits, and how she implements a soulful delivery into the weird and wonderful production. ‘Will Happiness Find Me?’ is no exception, only it further pushes her voice to the fore and highlights the imperfect perfections. The Estonian-born, London-based artist’s latest offering on Not Not Fun stays true to her roots in making music that’s lo-fi, raw, fantasy and language-oriented. While it is a clever, typically bizarre, and desperately romantic album that is saturated with rich melodies and forlorn, twisted, slightly off-key vocals, it also demonstrates a step-up from her past releases.
What impresses is the injection of copious amounts of exotic, distinctive samples and the looping of them over her syrupy and balmy vocal tones, which slowly drip away, seep through your head before finishing abruptly leaving you aching for more. “The sound of love… A love for sound…” sings Maria Minerva in opening track. Sprinkled over her echo-y and floaty vocals are the soft, steady rumble of a kickdrum and a bed of emotive strings, all stretched and layered out in front of you. Perhaps it is this passion and constant quest for different thrilling sounds that makes her one of the most intriguing and singular artists in recent years. [KKYC]