Clams Casino, But Not As You Know Him

Clams CasinoClams Casino was actually the subject of the very first BITR8 post and now he returns to the blog in the last post before I go travelling and call a hiatus on the operation of this page for 6 months. Clams Casino is Mike Volpe, a New Jersey-based beatmaker who shot to prominence last year after supplying a steady stream of instrumentals to hip-hop artists such as Lil B, A$AP Rocky and Mac Miller as well as taking the step of releasing a tape of said instrumentals to wide acclaim.

Volpe’s production was considered to map the sonic blueprint for the “based music” that was helping Lil B hit massive heights and as ‘The Based God’s notoriety grew so did that of his frequent collaborator. He combined hip-hop drums, left-field melodies and a many layers of sample manipulations to create moody, dense atmosphere’s in such an original and organic way that his beat-tape became an album and his productions became songs.

Clams has been quiet for the last few months but he’s back with a track that is buried in the depths of GTA V on Flying Lotus’ radio station. The track is called ‘Crystals’ and it is obvious 5 seconds in that this track finds the producer exploring new, more unfamiliar avenues. From the initial wale the record is plunged headfirst in to an electrified world of darkness in a way that sounds not too dissimilar to AraabMuzik’s most abrasive records. Drums are kept to a minimum here, off-beat kick-clap patterns provided the main orchestral backing to the track because the weight is added from the sheer amount of layered voices that merge together to produce a rusty, undefinable atmosphere. These features combined with a constant arpeggiated staccato riff and a thick bass line create one of the most awe-inspiring records of the Clams Casino discography.

Go grab the free download here and see you guys in 6 months.

#WarDub Blows Up. Featuring @Jmebbk, @Preditah, @D33CO and more…

This Means WarDubA lot of people would argue that grime music is at it’s best when conflict is involved, when they are at war with each other, and I for one agree. Unlike your usual ‘Grime War’ episodes though, this time it’s the producers going at it. Instigated by Bless Beats calling out his fellow producers before being significantly hyped by Boy Better Know C.E.O JME, #WarDub has exploded. GrimeForum have been keeping count of the tracks flooding in and the total stands at 110 tracks after three days of duelling. To save you the effort of listening through hours of #LordOfTheBeats material here are a few BITR8 highlights:

If you ask me Deeco‘s wiped the floor with the lot of them.

Skream’s Bringing Back Disco

SkreamSkream – real name Oliver Jones – has not exactly been muted in recent months about his love for disco music and his intended change in production style, in May Jones dropped a 45-minute disco mix in a move that began to transition away from the world of dubstep that has seen him rise to notoriety. So it comes as no surprise that the London producer has now released a disco track of his very own.

‘Rollercoaster’ is funky and excessively electronic to the extent that it would not seem out of place if it featured on the new Daft Punk album, especially when you hear the ‘Human After All’ era vocal effects from the first beat of the record. This song features the talkbox-ed vocals of Sam Frank who, if you remember, is no stranger to collaboration with Skream having contributed to smash hit ‘Anticipate’ back in 2011. Here Frank provides Bee Gee-esque melody to the bouncy record but, as has become expected of Jones, it is the producer that really makes this record as brilliant as it is. The drum beat is firmly one of a house orientation however as soon as the swung bass guitar and high-end phaser stabs are heard there is only one genre that this can placed in, add to that the Nile Rodgers-style guitar riff in the breakdown and you’ve got yourself a sure-fire disco banger.

Transition successful.

Ella Fitzgerald Gets The Maya Jane Coles Treatment

Maya Jane Coles‘Blue Skies’ was a song originally written in 1926 by Irving Berlin for the musical Betsy, it thereafter went on to be one of the most popular records of the 20th century with iterations being released by Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Willie Nelson, Eva Cassidy and Rod Stewart to name but a few. So when London producer Maya Jane Coles decided to remix the track she was not short of options for vocalists.

She opted to use the 1958 version recorded by Ella Fitzgerald, an edition which consists predominately of ad-libs from the Queen of Jazz. Coles uses said improvisations consistently throughout the record to create compelling rhythm sections, the first cases of which you will notice as soon as you press play. The track begins with a series of layered ad-libs backed by a rather subdued sounding bass synth before the introduction of a simple hat and snare pattern missing every strand of low-end. 45 seconds in and the bass is no longer subdued but out in full force, a kick and open hat have found their way in to the minimalist drum beat and the unmistakable voice of Fitzgerald is echoing around your room.

One aspect of Coles’ production that makes her a standout from the current crop of house producers is that she never settles where others might, 60 seconds in to this remix you could be forgiven for thinking that that was as complex as the remix was going to get: big house beat, throbbing bassline, impressive manipulation of vocals are all present so what else is there? Well soon enough an understated piano riff emerges, adding one more layer of bounce and swing to the already head-bob inducing record, and this is before the incredible saxophone melody interjects!

This remix amongst many others is out now on the Verve Remixed: The First Ladies compilation from the legendary Verve Music Group.

Everyone Wants To Remix Ciara

CiaraAn influx of female R’n’b vocals have often appeared to be a producer’s Christmas come early, just ask Cassie and Aaliyah, and the catalogue available on Ciara’s new eponymous album is no different, leading to an inevitable flood of remixes hitting Soundcloud.Earlier today Jacques Greene dropped remixes of two songs by the R’n’B songstress, the sultry ‘Body Party’ and autobiographical ‘Sorry’, this got me thinking back to all the other remixes that have dropped this year.

Greene takes the tracks and works in a heavy set of wind-instrument synths bouncing from minor chord to minor chord. Greene has always been able to produce very emotive music, and these two are no different, ‘Body Party’ is stripped of all sexiness and instead the lust and longing is ramped up, epitomised by the hypnotic chants of “I’m on you”. In similar fashion ‘Sorry’ lets the vocals encapsulate the mood but adds significantly more layering than the comparatively stripped back ‘Body Party’. Here synths, pianos and stabs all come in and out of focus over the first minute or so before allowing the verse to punctuate through.

Earlier this month Brighton-based producer Knightley (formerly Bailey) dropped his version of ‘Sorry’. The song skips along on beat of electronic hats, 808 snares and various congas with a piano chordal backing, not to mention a distant saxophone accompaniment. Warning: this song is addictive!

Third up is an entry from the ever-impressive Soulection crew, this one comes from Japanese producer RLP. Here the often unrecognisable Ciara’s vocals are distorted over a trap beat and bouncing organ synths to create one of the more sultry remixes in the collection.

Finally comes the oldest remix of the set from Vancouver-duo Kutcorners & Marvel of The Freshest. This remix incorporates trap-style drums with a thudding video game-inspired bassline and distorted backing chords and hears Ciara plead “don’t stop” over and over. Add to that the repetition of “Cause tonight it’s going down, tell your boys it’s going down” and the track changes from commentary on a night of passion to that of a night of unadulterated carnal desires.

“Walk Around Like You’re Bigger Than Prince”

Hot Since 82If you’ve been following this blog for a while the name Hot Since 82 should not be new to you, he did co-produce BITR8’s No. 10 EP of 2012 after all.

Daley Padley has over the last few years built up a reputation for creating bass-orientated, club-ready house music having released records on Noir Music and Moda Black and accumulating quite a collection of remixes, including last month’s edit of Rudimental’s ‘Right Here’.

He’s now back with another remix, this time of Chicago electronica pioneer Green Velvet and “Bigger Than Prince”. To start with the track maintain’s the original’s minimalism but, as you’d expect of a remix from the Leeds-based producer, the record is packed full of bounce and bass not to mention a constant sense of indecision as to the correct pitch of the vocals. The track incorporates everything that has made Hot Since 82 a BeatPort-conquering success: a big, fat house beat incorporating a wide variety of percussion and a masterful ability to control distortion on his throbbing bass synths.

No matter what Padley does or where he goes on a record he has an incredible ability to make your head bob, whether you want it to or not.

Emperor Brings The Distortion

EmperorEmperor is a 20-year old dubstep / drum & bass producer from Halifax, UK. His track’s can range from dark and dirty to deep and beautiful and these differing approaches are both shown on his recent Begin EP released on Critical Music.

With his new track ‘Structures’, Emperor maintains his love affair with dark underground sounds, beginning the track with crackling industrial samples and echoed vocal chants, not to mention the wolf howls in the background. The drum beat operates on an off-beat dubstep rhythm, with the producer choosing the ‘less is more’ approach rather than his accustomed drum & bass sensibilities.

The really incredible element to this track however is the main rhythm section at around the one minute mark. Switching between immensely distorted, multi-voiced bass to cleaner phased wobbles to a grimey laser synth, it is a section of incredible complexity and sophistication and it is accentuated even more after an emotive, laid-bare breakdown.

Forest Swords Comes Out Swinging

Forest SwordsDagger Paths, the debut EP from Liverpudlian producer Forest Swords, was met with incredible critical acclaim when it was released back in 2010, receiving many accolades not to mention being named FACT Magazine’s no.1 album of the year. Forest Swords is the project of Wirral-dwelling Matthew Barnes and this record became synonymous with a new age of genre-defying music, even micro-genres such as chillwave and witch house failed to really nail down the sonic universe he created. Barnes’ music is nostalgic and dreamlike but deceptively so, the layering and reverb create mesmerising atmospheres however the tracks remain as intimate and personal as a solo pianist in an empty opera house.

“The Weight Of Gold” is the second single from Forest Swords’ follow-up record Engravings, which is due out on August 26th through Tri Angle Records. The track features much of the same nostalgic elements as seen before, commencing with a series of pitched fog horns punctuating the seaside ambience. 30 seconds in we are introduced to the chromatic guitar riff which scratches away at your eardrums in a way that is so rhythmic and hypnotic that it asks the question of whether anything else is necessary at all. The drum beat that shortly enters is an assembled set of dark, break-beat samples which never settle on any form of regular timing pattern.

The track features a commonly used instrument of Barnes’ and that is the overtly distorted and delayed vocal yearning, manipulated to the extent that it becomes completely illiterate. To begin with this works to aid the ambience but becomes far more overpowering as the record continues, adding to the haunting and distressing feel that remains one of the most awe-inspiring qualities of not just this record but his whole discography to date.

Sorry I Haven’t Posted Here In A While / Have Lots Of New Music In Apology

Sampha

Due to other commitments, over the last few weeks i’ve found it difficult to set aside time to write here so today i’m making up for it with some of my favourite recent tracks:

Sampha, of SBTRKT-collaboration notoriety, released a new cut from his debut EP Dual out July 29th on Young Turks:

Recently featured Phazz dropped another soul-inflected remix, this time of Ryan Leslie’s ‘Addiction’. The track is also available for free download from his Facebook page:

Julio Bashmore announced a UK Fall/Winter tour and shared new cut-back, bass-heavy track ‘Duccy':

Adding to their already incredible repertoire of remixes, anonymous London-based Snakehips remixed sultry LA singer-songwriter Banks:

And two Matlock producers combine as Armeria remixes Karma Kid‘s summery hit ‘In My Arms':

Enjoy!

Phazz Shows Us All Why Soulection Are The Guys To Watch

Phazz

Over the last year or so Joe Kay‘s Soulection label have proven to be one of the best up-and-coming imprints around at the moment. The Cali-based label have become the major outlet of soulful jazz and hip-hop inflected beats, releasing records from artists such as Evil Needle, LakimTa-Ku and atu (who’s Pictures On Silence comes with a massive BITR8 recommendation).

In amongst all this crowd of great producers it is 21-year old French producer Adam Phazz that has really caught my eye over the last few days. His debut on the label comes in the form of a remix of Cassie’s constantly-remixed ‘Me & You’. You could be forgiven for thinking that you have heard every possible way that this track can be manipulated and for skipping over it, however you would be making a horrible mistake. Utilising a combination of minor key piano chords and a detuned echoed Cassie the track suddenly becomes more engaging than ever before. Add to the equation one of the most inconsistent glitchy set of trap-style drums in recent memory and it’s a recipe for one of the most successful remixes since ViLLΛGE‘s last year.

Also find below Phazz’s remix of Twista’s 2009 hit ‘Wetter’ which sees the detuned Chicago native’s chopper style of rap paired with an equally off-beat drum pattern to create an odd but incredibly hypnotic outcome.

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