Friday, 27 December 2013
An artist who shouldn't need any introduction to regular readers of the blog, Sepia has spent 2013 turning his hand across the tempo spectrum and proving himself as one of the most consistent new producers the scene has to offer. 'Wouldn't Be The Same' sees him in sundown, zoning out, hands in the air mode: a butter-wouldn't-melt vocal, the sort of intricate percussion that has become something of a signature to his sound, a quietly catchy plucked top line, and a bassline that meets Phaeleh and Burial in the middle.
We uploaded a clip of the track to YouTube in June, and six months and a corrupt project file later it's here as something of a belated Christmas present, not to mention a good way to round off another great year and nod on to an even better next one.
Download: Sepia - Wouldn't Be The Same [WAV]
Sepia - Wouldn't Be The Same [320kbps]
Sunday, 15 December 2013
It's end of year list season, and though the feature has never cemented itself as a regular one on these pages - in fact, it's only been done once before this - in a year of such notable transition as that just passed, it seems a run through of some of the defining releases of the last twelve months might serve as an opportunity to take stock. Of course, since the list will reflect its own themes, there isn't much to add other than a note for those tunes that will inevitably have slipped the mind, and those others which only just slipped the net. So, in no particular order - because, frankly, there's nothing in it - here are our top 13 tunes, and 5 of our favourite free downloads, for 2013. Enjoi:
Tessela - Horizon [R&S]
One of the year's most consistent producers, any one of Tessela's releases - remixes included - could have appeared here. His masterful judgement of stop-start rhythms has set him apart, and left more than a few dancefloors wide-eyed too.
Boofy - Since When [Bandulu]
Tight sampling, sharp drums and a bass lick that'll make you screw your face up. Grime in its purest form: demands a reload.
Karma - How Ya Feel [System]
Those who've been following the blog for more than a few years will say that Karma has been long overdue some vinyl with his name on it. This was as good a way as any to end the wait.
Wayfarer - Reflections (feat. Animai) [Uprise Audio]
The word "anthem" is an easy one to throw haphazard into a press release, but there are few better ways to describe this arms-to-the-sky number from Wayfarer.
Etch - Scattah [Keysound]
Blew out the booth monitors on its first airing at Fabric. Enough said?
Commodo - $pace Cash [Deep Medi Musik]
You'd be hard-pressed to name a tune released this year with as much effortless swagger as '$pace Cash'; Commodo proving himself incomparable all over again.
Taiko - Spray Can [Uprise Audio]
It's all about the drums in this one: while some producers have spent their time chopping breaks and fills, Taiko just makes his own.
Wen - Commotion [Keysound]
The tune that set the stall out and sent a whole wave of new producers trailing, for better or worse, through grime sets and DVDs searching for soundbites. The key here, though, is that Dot Rotten's cameo isn't what makes the tune stand up: it can do that all by itself.
Alex Coulton - Too Much Talk [92 Points]
Simplicity reigns: one of the year's most infectious beats,
Killjoy - Memories [Tumble Audio]
The extraordinarily prolific backbone to one of the UK's most exciting new labels, Killjoy's second release for Tumble Audio is tough and fun in equal measure.
Gantz - U Wont Mind (Thelem Remix) [Black Box]
Two Hedmuk favourites on one tune; Gantz' offkey source material teasing Thelem into the leftfield with amazing results.
Dubkasm - Victory [Sufferah's Choice]
Dubplate exclusive to Dubkasm and Aba Shanti-I before going on sale and selling out two presses in a matter of hours - a third is said to be on the way - it's safe to say that this one has captured its audience fairly successfully.
Youngstar - Pulse X (Blackwax Remix) [Liminal Sounds]
A tune that, in many ways, sums up the year quite nicely: a touch of grime nostalgia, an elastic garage bassline and a healthy dose of breaks all bent into something which somehow manages to sound like none of its parts.
As ever, you can share your thoughts on the list either in the comment section below, over on the Hedmuk Facebook Page, or via Twitter.
Free downloads are now a staple of any modern day music scene, but the price - or lack thereof - needn't reflect the quality: here are five of the best from 2013.
Caski - Patient [Download here]
Heavy grooving and moody as hell, this is unadulterated dubstep goodness.
Dark0 - Violate [Download here]
A highlight of the 'Zero' mixtape, this is grime with its sights on the headtop.
Geode - Pistachio [Download here]
A late but more than worthy entry, this one swings and grooves like its going out of fashion.
Hugo Massien - Mystik [Download here]
A few name alterations later and Hugo Massien still comes with it slick as ever.
Sepia - If We Could Only See Us Now [Download here]
First hitting the Hedmuk radar in late 2012, a producer whose sound has only grown since and is set to take 2014 by the horns: you actually did hear it here first.
Saturday, 14 December 2013
With previous contributions to Uprise Audio providing the highlights of, chronologically, 'The Uprising EP' and 'Live To The Future' picture disc sampler and subsequent compilation, it seems about time that Wayfarer be given the opportunity to make a full solo statement on the label. And the 'Afterlight EP' is a statement, as equally demonstrative of what a Wayfarer EP sounds like in 2013 as it is suggestive of what the coming year might hold.
The title track is as grand and self-aware as we've heard him yet: a driving, broken-steppa rhythm - not dissimilar to that of the anthemic 'Reflections' - married with a sub that'll pin your ears back, gently. From here on in, though, the beats become more scattered and coarse as 'Azuma' deconstructs 2013's seemingly ubiquitous "dark roller" format, with pounding kicks punctuated with successive flurries of shaker, hi-hat and hand percussion, whilst 'Nomad' continues this deconstructive theme, stripped back to a swollen, lurching bassline and delicate, incidental percussion. And just as the record turns to pick itself apart from the inside-out, 'Zeg' nods back to the opener's lush pads and rounds off the release with the kind of assertive style that has come to be expected from this up-and-comer.
Wayfarer is a producer with intent, and this was never going to be a handful of 'Shaman' or 'Reflections' re-runs; instead, and all the better for it, we have a snapshot which looks back as much on the journey to this point as it does, through a methodical deconstruction of what has come so far, to the possibilities that the next leg might offer.
Wayfarer - Afterlight EP will be released digitally on Monday the 16th of December, exclusive to Beatport for until December 23rd, with the 12" vinyl to follow in January 2014.
Wednesday, 11 December 2013
Not unlike Anti-Social Crew's melodic offshoots from the dank beats pioneered at early FWD>> and DMZ nights, the saturation of dubstep with dark, lurching halfstep over the last couple of years has in turn seen a response from producers seeking to inject some added melody and groove into the genre. Geode, along with his Chord Marauders cohort and the likes of Phaeleh, Jack Sparrow and Ruckspin - among others, of course - speaks of clarity, restraint, momentum and in his music combines a love of expressive jazz notation with those most exciting moments when modern day genres, like garage and drum & bass, begin to push out into new ground and establish their own movements. With the aforementioned Chord Marauders' second compilation fresh on the virtual shelves, and an appearance from Geode on this site long overdue, we caught up with him for a chat - and he decided to throw in a free download too, which happens to be, for our money, one of the best beats he's produced yet. Lucky us/you.
Hedmuk: To introduce yourself, what's your name, where do you hail from and how would you describe your sound?
Geode: My name's George Harris, raised in Herefordshire but based in London, and I would describe my sound as beats with momentum, punctuated by cluster chords.
H: Plenty of people will have first come across your name through the Vie EP, released earlier this year on Innamind: how did you first get involved with the label? Should we expect to see more from you on Innamind in the near future?
G: Innamind was one of about three labels that I had earmarked for potential releases towards the end of last year. I sent Jeremy (Innamind boss) a quick message with downloadable copies of some WAVs and he got back to me positively. Since he was moving to London from New Zealand, we linked shortly after - I believe at a FWD night - and decided to push on with an EP from there. Unfortunately I don't have anything planned on Innamind at the moment, but I'd definitely like to release with them again at some point. Jez runs a tight ship and it's the first place I'd go with any of my darker material.
H: Since then you've released twice with Smokin' Sessions; do you feel like you've found a good space for your music with the label? How important do you feel it is to be well-represented by the labels you release on and by the rosters and sounds that they are defined by?
G: Yup. I think Zeb Samuels (Smokin' Sessions/Deep Heads boss) has created a very successful platform which has propelled many melodically-minded producers; the history and artist roster of Smokin' Sessions was an important factor in signing with them as well. I have enjoyed working with the label because it's meant I can freely explore my deeper and jazzier sounds. There's no real attention to what the label is defined by, in fact it's quite anti-hype and I think a lot of the output defies easy definition. I like music that way, not too self-aware or self-referencing.
H: You're also a founding member of the Chord Marauders collective/label. Tell us a little more about the project: what was it that first set it in motion? Who exactly is involved, and what would say are the principles that tie you all together as a group? And with the Groove Booty compilations and B9's solo album already delivered - what else have you got planned for Chord Marauders?
G: The Chord Marauders comprises myself, Congi, B9 & Jafu. We wanted to create a platform to release our own music, feature upcoming artists we're feeling and engage with the people who go out of their way to buy our music. The principles that tie us together would probably be mutual respect, not taking it too seriously, and plenty of fresh ideas.
As you mention, Groove Booty II has just dropped and has been well received. Next up is Congi's album; currently being finalised and coming out early 2014 at the usual place. Myself and Jafu are due a solo project each next year and we'll also be moving into physical releases if all goes to plan. Going forward we'll be continuing with the compilations, although perhaps annually rather than biannually as the inevitable admin can distract from creativity a little. And we're also in the process of organising a night in London, more info on that to come via our Facebook page.
H: It's unsurprising that you'd be involved like this in something which appears to be album-led since your own repertoire - swinging all the way from dubstep, to drum & bass, and back down to house - is so comfortable in its variety. There appears to be a jazz influence floating through your chords and incidental drums, but what would you say are your musical touchstones? Are these things you were exposed to whilst growing up or was music something you discovered for yourself?
G: A bit of both I suppose. There was always weird and wonderful music playing in the house growing up, DJ Kicks: Nightmares on Wax being the CD I am most nostalgic about. My focus on jazz notation is definitely inherited; I find myself glazing over to any music with ballad chords, I guess that kind of reaction requires a certain amount of parental conditioning.
But I think my focus on drums & percussion probably comes from my early years as a producer, learning FruityLoops inside out, mashing up jungle breaks and bulking them up. I have about 200 tracks of mad Amens, quirky melodies and subs: they're all poorly produced but they familiarised the shuffles, percussive licks and momentum I try to build into my music now. Like many artists of this generation it was drum & bass that gave me the production bug, tunes like 'Metropolis' by Adam F, Photek's 'Consciousness' and 'Flute Tune' by Hidden Agenda.
It's funny, the only music I didn't ever really listen to until recently was dubstep, but I find music at 140bpm with the snare on the 3rd beat the most liberating for my own projects, the perfect balance of speed and space. The stuff that grabs me is the steppier, garage elements of the scene – Cluekid, Congi, early Martyn, Circula, Promise One, K-LONE.
Sometimes I need to go on a complete tangent stylistically and genre-wise to keep my interest flowing, which is why you'll hear me posting house and drum and bass tunes from time to time. I don't really get that casual genre snobbery that floats around on VICE articles because I'm always striving for that unspoken soul and style that ties producers of different brackets (Medlar, Robert Glasper, DjRum, B9 & Jafu, Melodiesinfonie, Detroit Swindle, J-One, Harry Love or MJ Cole) together. Imagine if DjRum made a tune at 140, Jafu made an instrumental piece or Robert Glasper got on some garage...they'd still have dem feels.
H: Finally, can you tell us about the track you're giving away here, and whether there are any forthcomings or anything else in the pipeline that people should be keeping an eye for.
G: I chose 'Pistachio' because it's a strange tune that doesn't fit with much of my other stuff. I thought the miscreant Hedmuk readership would appreciate it anyways! Release-wise, there are some bits and pieces planned for Chord Marauders and Deep Heads, along with collaborative vinyl releases with Promise One and D-Operation Drop. Keep an eye on SOULECTION as well.
Big up, and thanks for the questions, Will.
Download: Geode - Pistachio [WAV]
Geode - Pistachio [320kbps mp3]
Monday, 2 December 2013
Competition: Win a copy of Akkord's debut LP, plus 2x guestlist for the album launch party @ Project 13, Manchester
One of this year's standout releases, and from two of the UK's most exciting musical minds, Akkord's debut long-player is the sort of record you might play to someone trying to write off electronic music as mere button pushing. Forward-facing, progressive, original, genre-defying, interesting and - an adjective not often seen alongside those descriptions - genuinely danceable, Indigo and Synkro, along with the likes of Troy Gunner and Biome, who also feature on the album, have delivered on the huge promise of their early limited-press releases. Recent mixes for Resident Advisor and Boiler Room, meanwhile, have seen the duo applying their years of experience behind the decks.
To celebrate the release, Project 13 will be hosting the official album launch party in the basement of Manchester's 2022NQ. Support comes from fellow Mancunians Biome and Acre, as well as Edmondson - a recent signing to Indigo's own Electromagnetic Fields imprint.
We've linked up with the guys at P13 to offer the chance to win 2 spots on the guestlist for the launch party, as well as a copy of the album in the format of your choice. To enter, simply head over to the Hedmuk Facebook Page and publicly share and like this image. The competition will close at 5pm on Thursday the 5th of December, a winner will then be selected at random by an independent third party and announced via Facebook and Twitter.
For more information on the party, including how to purchase advance tickets, head over the the Facebook event page here.
The album is also available to purchase from the Houndstooth store now.