Soundtracking the emergency: Is there space for climate change in dance music?
We'll be running a new album reviews column alongside our regular Album of the Week reviews, giving you a succinct analysis of some of the records on Dummy's radar every week. This week, we look at records by Boothroyd, Hudson Mohawke, and SBTRKT.
Album of the Week: Giant Claw – 'Dark Web'
"…a standard 'Dark Web' track will start off with an ambient intro before launching into an 808-led trap song before bringing in a vocal harmony before a harpsichord or an oboe takes over – often within the space of about 40 seconds…" Read the full review here.
Boothroyd – 'Idle Hours' EP
Back in March, Tri Angle announced that Londoner Boothroyd would be their latest signing, giving no information apart from a Twitter handle with a beige avi and a promise that music would come "soon". On the strength of the reputation of the label, those who are friends with him, and our curiosity with anonymity, momentum built quickly, until his debut track NYC appeared last month. Murky, cinematic and heavily layered with found sound and a steady, clear beat in the midst of it all, it was a sensory overload, at times sounding as if several songs were playing on different tabs at once.
NYC was an accurate representation of the rest of Boothroyd's debut EP, 'Idle Hours'. He explores low quality audio (its press release references Youtube and reveals that he mixed the EP on "shitty headphones") in his sound design, and everything about 'Idle Hours' has the quality of being submerged in darkness, uncertainty and lurking suspense, the sort that his label mate the Haxan Cloak has also deftly mastered. Gurgling synths oscillate throughout, like a helicopter propeller taking off for a panoramic battle scene in a dystopian sci-fi film. Presicely arranged and balanced between the values of clarity and gritty sounds, this is an arresting introduction to another of Tri Angle’s intriguing artists. Aurora Mitchell
Tri Angle released 'Idle Hours' on September 29th 2014 (buy).
Hudson Mohawke – 'Chimes' EP
Hudson Mohawke has spent the last couple of years quietly becoming absolutely fucking massive, and it’s this release that will finally put his Soundcloud figures where they should be. And what a release it is – fluorescent, Nintendo-sourced keys; huge, TNGHT-esque horn sections, and massive, randy-as-hell “woofs” that are going to be ringing around clubs for years to come… and that’s just the first track. Elsewhere, Brainwave is three minutes of orchestral-space opera, while King Kong Beaver sees HudMo have a crack at some 'Glass Swords'-esque trap magic, and pull it off without breaking a sweat.
Among the jostling pack of producer-auteurs such as Flying Lotus, Lapalux et al, Hudson Mohawke is the artist consistently making leaps and bounds forward of the status quo. He’s done his hours in the engine room (and the Boiler Room) and has blowtorched his way from underground to mainstream and to the forefront of popular culture. Woof. Jack Enright
Warp released 'Chimes' on September 29th 2014 (buy).
SBTRKT – 'Wonder Where We Land'
The new SBTRKT album is a frustrating listen. Held up individually, many of the songs on it are great, something which is unsurprising given Aaron Jerome’s ability – demonstrated so comprehensively on debut album 'SBTRKT' back in 2011 – to craft crossover dance music which doesn’t compromise on credibility. The partnership with Sampha that dominated that debut was crucial in developing a consistency which is lacking on this record, where a multitude of collaborators and styles has resulted in a puzzling structure.
Let’s be clear here: lots of the tracks on it are very good. Osea – a collaboration with labelmate Koreless – is a blissed out, yearning production which ushers you into the safety of its warm, undulating synths. The Sampha collaboration that follows it, Temporary View, is excellent too: it’s a prime cut of the gorgeous, dancefloor-ready pop we’re familiar with. The problem, though, is that the half-slung beat, hyperactive fizzes and resolutely catchy melodies just don’t sit comfortably alongside what goes before it. This jarring sequencing and genre hopping is in evidence throughout and makes the entire album a slightly unsettled experience. Jake Hulyer
Young Turks released 'Wonder Where We Land' on September 29th 2014 (buy).