Snakehips At It Again

SnakehipsShady London-based production outfit Snakehips have been garnering praise over the last 9 months or so with a combination of great remixes, such as those of Wild Belle and Bondax, and a couple of stand-out tracks, most notably the summery ‘On & On’. Now they’ve dropped a new track, ‘Make It’.

The track has the kind of playful use of female vocals that we’ve come to expect, an R&B sample pitch-shifted, chopped and looped is nothing out of the ordinary, however it is the bass line that follows that shows Snakehips exploring a slightly different medium than usual. Rather than a summery, laid-back song similar to guys like Ta-Ku and Kaytranada, we get instead a heavy, low-end synth rhythm that you’re more likely to here on a Baauer record. The change in synth work is remarkable and so are other elements such as the switch to a more trap-style 808 hat and snare however the vocal sample keeps the track well and truly planted in the world of Snakehips.

Hopefully there will be more tracks on the way before they drop their debut record later this year.

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Dusky Just Cannot Help But Make Bangers

DuskyWill Saul, the head honcho at both Simple Records and Aus Music has decided to adopt himself a new alias. Saul is set to release his debut LP, Getting Closer, under the alter-ego Close. Almost a month ago Saul shared with us the second single from the album, ‘My Way’, which features vocals from Fat Freddy’s Drop’s Joe Dukie, and since that date a steady stream of remixes have been fed up.

This remix is by London-based duo Dusky. In a time when the genre of revivalist garage-tinted house music is heavily over-saturated it can become difficult to avoid categorisation with many other upstart producers trying their luck, however Dusky are an act who have successfully sidestepped such a potential pitfall with much-needed sonic creativity. Whilst incorporating many generic elements such as overtly brash hats and claps the pair just have a knack for song structure, layering and, in particular, applying bass synths in an ridiculously catchy fashion.

The ‘My Way’ remix includes all of the above elements but also sees Dusky manipulate the vocal sample like never before. Usually accustomed to merely EQs and pitch shifts the duo begin and end the track with a series of frantically chopped elements that only add to the pulsating, move-your-feet feel of the record.

The Getting Closer album comes out June 10th on !K7 Records.

Baauer Isn’t Hiding Away

Baauer 2In most cases, artists who receive incredible amounts of internet frenzy will find it hard to lose the initial premonitions that people have for them, however the creator of cyberspace phenomenon ‘Harlem Shake’ is not letting anyone get the wrong impression of him. New York trap maestro Baauer has joined the ever increasing amount of producers helping to fuel the incredible hype surrounding the release of Disclosure‘s debut LP Settle by remixing single ‘You & Me’.

If you thought that Baauer – real name Harry Rodrigues – was just going to stick to what he’s known for and introduce nothing but obnoxious percussion and whining moombahton-esque synth melodies then think again. This song is all about bass. Increasing the tempo by about 10BPM he adopts a generic deep-house synth but uses it in a urgent, staccato fashion and for the opening minute the percussion is nothing more than an ever-present 4-4 clap. Once the track drops the whole record lurches consistently as the frenetic kick-hat pattern and the more heavily voiced synth chords are active for only 2 beats of every bar.

The original vocals of London’s own Eliza Doolittle are pitch-shifted to multiple different octaves throughout the record and are heavily reverbed. She moves from being the sort of classic Disclosure accompaniment, see The Face EP, to become a driving force and catalyst of the sheer weight of the record, even getting her own melody via manipulation at the 3 minute mark.

As a guy who genuinely enjoyed ‘Harlem Shake’ before it became the unintended pariah of trap i’m pleased to see that Baauer hasn’t hidden away as a result of the hysteria, and with this remix he’s come out in full-force.

Synkro Does What Synkro Does Best

Synkro 2Lowb is Andy Barlow, one half of British duo Lamb, and he is currently prepping his first solo effort in the shape of album Leap and the Net Will Appear which is out June 3rd on Distiller Records. Before that however Barlow is releasing an EP based on the album’s first single ‘Inward Outburst’ and has invited low-end supremo Synkro to do a remix.

In complete Synkro fashion we are exposed to absolutely miles deep low-end which shakes you to the core throughout the whole record. The track begins with some sweeping oceanside chords before trading places with a series of plucked guitar arpeggios. The vocals have been transformed from the original, from straight-up vocal arrangement to massively reverbed and delayed vocal yearning, the dynamics of which fluctuate with such regularity as to feel entrapped, longing for escape. The track is laden with windswept synth patterns as Synkro takes you through his entire arsenal of synth settings across 4 octaves, such layering only further enhances the sense of mystery and intrigue as no individual part really comes to the fore, asserting itself as the sole melody.

The most impressive element of the record though is the fierce percussion that is in a state of constant escalation throughout the tracks duration. He has always used unapologetically electronic and metallic percussion instruments but there is a new sense of aggression present in this record. During the remix the kick pattern never fluctuates from a straight 4:4 rhythm whilst the hats and rim shots float around it. When the track breaks down at 2:40 the track appears to tail off as if to end before the vocals are once again employed in an almost ‘come hither’ way. The usual escalation continues but takes an even more aggressive turn with the introduction of the type of kick synonymous with a certain Massive Attack track, and accompanied with the rapid hats it makes for one of the most compelling beats you’ll hear.

Mount Kimbie and King Krule Team Up

Mount Kimbie 2A month ago London-based duo Mount Kimbie dropped the first two tracks from their upcoming sophomore LP Cold Spring Fault Less Youth, due out on May 27th via Warp‘Made To Stray’ & ‘Blood & Form’ have seen the duo move themselves away from the ‘producers’ tag and instead pursue the avenue of becoming a ‘band’, this has been led by the inclusion of live drums as well as the pair themselves providing vocals rather than their customary pitched and screwed vocal samples. They have not lost their off-beat, click-clack sensibilities, however they are taking a more backseat role in favour of creating ‘songs’ rather than ‘beats’.

The new single ‘You Took Your Time’ continues the philosophy adopted in the previous two songs and sees the first of two appearances from neo-soul singer King Krule – real name Archie Marshall. Mount Kimbie lay a jazz-inflected beat of heavily reverbed open hats and staccato dampened snares whilst Marshall straddles the line between indie-crooner and speak-singer. The track builds throughout it’s duration and with the inclusion of an organ synth comes a more growly edge to King Krule’s singing, both aspects insinuating a sense of distress and loneliness that can be laid at the door of both artists’ previous work.

With these three songs Mount Kimbie are creating records that are quite different from their previous work and are opening themselves up to a slightly more mainstream audience however still maintaining the subtle inflections that attracted their fan base in the first place. It is great to see the pair continually developing their sound and achieving more success as a result.

Maribou State Take You Back To ’99

Maribou StateMaribou State are an electronic duo from London, they specialise in creating emotive, ethereal bass music illiciting obvious comparisons to Bondax. 2012 saw the pair rapidly rise to notoriety thanks to their track ‘Olivia’ and a couple of releases on Fatboy Slim’s Southern Fried Records. They also have a knack for creating a great remix and have given their own interpretation to Jagga, 2 Bears, Wretch 32 and Crookers in the past.

This week they released another stunning remix, this time of a track from label boss Fatboy Slim. The track in question is the 1999 no. 1 smash hit ‘Praise You’ and Maribou State have taken it to a far more mystical place than you would have thought possible. The track is slow to get going, beginning with a two-chord keys rhythm, an intermittent bass line and softly brushed snares before building in both complexity and volume. We are introduced to a playful set of percussion before a multi-voiced, heavily flanged synth section enters in an attempt to cheer up the track, an attempt that does little to change the overall pessimistic mood.

Gone are the famous piano chords, replaced instead by a swung keyboard rhythm section. Gone is the happy-go-lucky vibe, replaced instead with a depressed introverted expression however the most compelling alteration is the ability to change “I have to praise you like I should” from an outward expression of gratitude to the under-the-breath muttering of a regretful man and it is this stark contrast that makes the remix so compelling.

Chief Keef gets over-sized by RL Grime

RL GrimeThe 17-year old Chicago drill prodigy Chief Keef has had his song ‘Love Sosa’ remixed by Los Angeles producer RL Grime. Always known for his big moombahton / trap influenced records this one is no different.

The track begins with Keef’s mutterings and a muted melody of synths underneath. This then builds to a massively over-sized set of synths accompanying the chorus and you may well think that that was the drop and that this is the main melody of this already massive record, but you would be mistaken. Dropping in to a stripped-back trap melody synonymous with Grime himself the track loses it’s hectic nature and returns with a staccato horn synth and massive kick-bass combinations.

This contrasting relationship between the two sections is played well, with the track bouncing between heavy and overdeveloped to refined and subtle and it makes the remix a very successful one.

Do You Like Drugs?

Cashmere Cat PawsWell me too.

In a musical landscape full of genres, sub-genres and sub-sub-genres it is almost impossible for a new artist to avoid some form of categorisation, however Norwegian DJ-turned-producer Cashmere Cat appears to have evaded such classification. Now Magnus August Høiberg, the man responsible for BITR8’s 6th Best EP of 2012 (which in hindsight should really be higher), is back with a remix of ‘Do You…’, the 2nd single from Miguel’s excellent Kaleidoscope Dream. Having circulated the blogosphere courtesy of rips from his Rinse FM set the track now has an official upload.

The track begins with Høiberg’s customary arpeggiated progressions before peeling away to allow the vocals to take hold. Underlay by hats struck with such frequency that they are not too dissimilar to a hundred crickets chirping and accentuated with occasional pitch-shifting of vocals, the track builds towards the drop and then let’s loose; it is as if he has hundreds of ideas of how he wishes to remix this track and just decided to incorporate elements of them all. We have big kick-clap combinations adding punch with vocals shifted both an octave lower and higher before returning back to the arpeggios and a more refined feel before reverting again.

The beauty of a Cashmere Cat record is the apparent spontaneity with which the track changes, as you get used to one section he’ll flip it on it’s head and show another way of interpreting it. Drums flicker between normal, double and half time feels and the vocals can never work out whether they want to be reverbed and atmospheric or grungy and trap-orientated with significant pitch shift. Whatever the decision you can always be confident that this producer will take you on an entertaining journey.

The ‘Great Gatsby’ Soundtrack Just Got A Hell Of A Lot More Epic

NeroJust when you thought that nothing could top Beyonce and Andre 3000 covering Amy Winehouse, or Florence & The Machine releasing an epic ballad, or Lana Del Rey crooning about young love, Interscope Records have just dropped UK E.D.M trio Nero‘s contribution to the film score. The track was premiered this evening on Zane Lowe’s BBC Radio 1 show and on first listen it stunned me, this track is incredible.

Beginning with a series of female deep breaths, the song builds towards singer Alana Watson’s breathy vocals that have been drowned in reverb, delay and many other effects. The tempo is a lot slower than you would expect from a Nero track but incorporates all the computer-orientated elements that made their debut album Welcome Reality such a commercial success. The astonishing thing about the track is the pure depth of the layering, kicks and snares skitter along in the background as the synths incorporate about 50 different voices. The song is a beautifully undulating symphony as drops are insinuated but never quite provided, where you would expect to hear loud bass and synths you instead get string quartets.

The standout, show-stopping moment occurs at the 1:45 stage when Watson sings a chromatic escalation that is so perfect that, having listened to it now in excess of 20 times, I am still blown away. The synths underneath are complimented by the orchestral section which then both provide incredible foundations for the aforementioned vocal. We are not allowed to enjoy this for long however as the production almost immediately brings the track back to earth for another verse but, as you expected and prayed for, this is the not the last time it is heard.

This track has only made me even more excited for the release of this soundtrack on May 7th, and earlier today I didn’t think that was possible. I think the awards for Best Film Score are already in the post to executive producer Jay-Z.

Stream Jai Paul’s Debut LP

Jai PaulWell it’s about time. It’s been 6 years since the Rayners Lane export released his game-changing ‘BTSTU’ and 1 year since his R&B-infused hit ‘Jasmine’. Now Jai Paul has slyly dropped his debut LP, or so it seems. The self-titled album contains all of the eclectic, hyperactive themes that we’ve come to expect from Paul alongside skits containing quite a few Harry Potter clips, amongst others.

The LP is made up 16 untitled tracks however we know a few from previous releases: track 9 is ‘Jasmine’, track 16 is ‘BTSTU’ and track 7 is ‘Crush’ which is a cover of a Jennifer Paige song.

There has been no word yet from his label XL Recordings so speculation suggests that Paul has dropped this without permission from the authorities, such a Jai Paul thing to do. Stream the full album below.

Update: Jai himself has disputed the leak, see below

The plot thickens.