The 10 Best South African Electronic Artists, according to Toya Delazy
Album of the week: Arca- ‘Stretch 2’ [UNO NYC]
‘Crazy, Sexy, Cool’ was one of my favourite albums growing up, and, along with ‘Generation Terrorists’, my favourite album title. It could have also served as Arca’s. Though, come to think of it, ‘Stretch 2’ is pretty fitting. Is it a command, and if so, to stretch to what? Or is it part of a calisthenics programme? It’s the second in a series of releases by this New York rap producer, and one more influenced by athleticism than any I can remember, so I’m going to plump for the second one. If so, it’s got that sporting functionalism down-pat, from the thuds on the drum-track like basketball streaks to the balls on the cover right to its name. Camus said that everything he knew he learned on the playing field. Arca might just agree.
‘Stretch 2’ is a physical record. Containing twisted samples of rap lines – the most sport-orientated genre ever? – from DMX and Clipse, it’s a direct yet distinct record. Aggressively playful, with brash, meaty synths lines pulled drastically around, its drum are chopped, the beat wobbles but it doesn’t fall off. There are moments of exquisite grace in the muscle, and it’s a fascinating, complete and bright album pushing the boundaries with a purism and talent few manage. Perfectly titled, this is the sound of a musician stretching themselves. [CRJ]
Antony & The Johnsons – ‘Cut The World’ [Rough Trade]
Recorded live in Copenhagen in 2011, Antony and the Johnsons’ fifth album is a gem. His voice works in beautiful harmony with the Danish National Chamber Orchestra, comprising of 42 musicians through the twelve tracks and seven-minute speech on feminism. At the centre, of course, are Antony Hegarty’s angelic vocals, echoing around, stirring the rise of a beautiful ambience. Comprising mainly of tracks from his previous four albums, the rich sonic and auspicious setting injects a powerful stateliness and political fire into this album while retaining the delicacy of the originals. A powerful statement and a proud almost best-of from this most unconventional of artists, it cements Antony’s place as a maestro of all human senses. [FD]
Willits + Sakamoto – Ancient Futures [Ghostly]
Christopher Willits is a young-ish electronic composer and soundscapist that hit the jackpot and got to collaborate with Ryuichi Sakamoto, one of the greatest of the genre and all-time-best film-scorers. The second of their albums together is released on Ghostly and it’s really nice. Apparently a celebration of folding contradictions and the in-between-ness of states (get that title!) it’s a really relaxing, exciting and absorbing, based in drifts of pure sound and yearning pianos. Impressively, it pulls off the trick of sounding monastic without asceticism – it’s an album pure as mountain air, but hints at so much, including Steve Reich’s Electric Counterpoint, the neon expressionism of Oneohtrix and the endless funk of Sakamoto’s first band Yellow Magic Orchestra. Poised music from the master and his pupil, too learned to be loud, too bold to be boring, it’s very good. [CRJ]
R Stevie Moore – Lo-fi Hi-fives [Genesis Records]
R Stevie Moore is a messy-haired American guy born in 1952 who predicted hypnogogic pop before you were born. Since 1968, he’s crafted thousands of pop hits (or un-pop un-hits) that sound tape-stretched and warped. He has a gift for melody and a raw speed at producing that lend his songs a powerful yet pleasingly idiosyncratic charm. Having produced over 500 albums, he’s suddenly cropped up in the underground-ish circles, sharing a split 7 with the Vaccines and collaborating with his spiritual son Ariel Pink. Now, Tim Burgess’s label are putting out his “kind-of best-of”. Sometimes it looses the charming affection that elevates, resulting in a kind of sarcastic pop – lots of people think he’s very clever for coming up with the idea of singing nice pop songs in a sardonic voice with patina’d hi-fi production, and often you get the sense R Stevie is one of them. That aside, this is a great introduction to a fascinating talent. [CRJ]
SPECIAL MENTION – CFCF’s ‘Exercises’ [Dummy]
This is a red letter week for Dummy, as we’re releasing our first full-length. It’s CFCF’s ‘Exercises’, and it’s streaming below. We’re putting it out because it’s one of our favourite records of the year, and we hope you love it to. It’s in the shop if you’d like to snap up a copy.