Browsing All posts tagged under »underground hiphop«

Various Artists – Album Roundup

November 3, 2013

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This entire album is performed straight to tape (or whatever recording medium was used) on a Roland MC-505 groovebox; Cory Peak chose to use a particular set of simple, rounded timbres that gives it a distinct 8-bit vibe, although the machine is considerably more sophisticated, and a much more powerful synthesiser, than the devices that gave rise to that genre. The point is a similar one, as well: in an era of expanding technological possibilities, where the range of options available to electronic music producers on even the tightest budgets is dauntingly vast, defining a closely constrained set of creative …

Various Artists – Album Roundup

July 8, 2013

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Opening with an extended skit inspired by John Carpenter’s Darkstar, it’s obvious from the start that this Strange Gibberish mixtape is going to be heavy on the humour. It’s also heavy on the creativity and experimentation, with some of the beats straying well into avant-garde territory. It’s far too diverse for me to sum it up here, but the quality is consistently high; this is independent music, in every sense of the term, and most of the producers take a pretty freewheeling, eclectic approach to beat-making, while the lyrical themes are varied and unfettered. Although it’s often …

Various Artists – Singles and EPs

June 17, 2013

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What I know about Alun Vaughan is limited: I reviewed a very nice solo bass performance album of his, and an EP in a similar vein, and I gather he gets up to quite a lot of jazzy malarkey. This short EP bucks that trend just a little bit. The dominant sound is a raw, punky rhythm guitar, but it gets put to a fair old variety of uses. The opening (title) track is a brief hardcore thrash, punctuated by the ‘Clumpville Borstal Boys Choir’ shouting the title (the only vocals on the EP) and some entertaining instrumental breaks. ‘2013’ retains the instrumental timbres, but it’s much more of a modern prog/math rock affair, with tricksy rhythmic interstices, and plangent lead guitar melodies. ‘Heart Shaped Bruise’ opens with more lead guitar prettiness, against some upper register bass chords…

Various Artists – Album Roundup

January 16, 2013

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Sufficiently independent not to sound ‘indie’, yet aesthetically straightforward enough not to sound ‘experimental’, Neurotic Wreck’s schtick is a pretty accessible art-pop stew; a predominantly electronic production mashes up trip-hop, electro, shoegaze and other downbeat sources, into a melancholy and and carefully textured soundworld, freighted with nostalgia and regret. The album is all about its songs, which is to say it’s as much about lyrics and melody as it is about production, but the creative textures and arrangements are a central part of the utterance; it’s moderately avant-garde, but it’s also furnished with a pop sensibility, and very well put together. It’s not party music, but it’s very listenable, and indeed re-listenable.

Melanin 9 – Magna Carta (hip-hop)

October 13, 2012

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It winds me up somewhat, on occasions like National Poetry Day, or in public discussions about poetry among the mandarins of the cultural elite, that the richest, most diverse and thriving field of poetic endeavour is more or less completely ignored. The academy thinks it owns the word ‘music’, and qualifiers such as ‘popular’ or ‘folk’ are required to distinguish other practices from the self-evidently definitive Western art tradition, sometimes grudgingly tagged as ‘art’ music, which is a breathtaking arrogance, not to mention an insult to every artist working in another genre; similarly with poetry. I’m the first to argue for the specificity of forms, and to defend songs against the attempted critical manglings of those writers who’d like to locate the …

Various Artists – Singles and EPs

October 1, 2012

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If you describe Tamara Parsons-Baker’s practice as a formula, it doesn’t inspire much excitement: simple, mainly diatonic guitar strums; emotive vocals; songs about unsuccessful love affairs; we have heard these elements before. However, the five songs on Lover proceed from a somewhat more warped perspective than this formula might suggest, lurking with mischief aforethought behind the placid surface of a nice friendly singer-songwriter. The opening songs on the EP require close attention to the lyrics to reveal their disturbing character, but when we get to ‘I Stuck It Out’ Parsons-Baker’s full weirdness emerges, in a frighteningly witchy evocation of a relationship haunted by madness and murder