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Live Review: Teebs at Headrow House – 15th November 2017

The time reaches 10pm and Teebs strolls through the sparse audience, takes to the stage, introduces himself, pulls a scrap piece of paper (which transpires to be a set-list) out of a shoebox next to his scarce array of equipment and wastes no time in getting into the music. The audience quickly become transfixed on Teebs, whose stage presence is minimal, yet his fixation on his sampler is enthralling. He twists and turns the controls of his Roland SP-404 manically with every ounce of his concentration; manipulating the beats and soundscapes into arrangements which seemingly reflect his present temperament, giving the impression that no performance from Teebs is alike.

There are beautiful washes of piano, rescinding sub-bass sections, and dense beats paired with crisp snares. The nod to Flying Lotus’ ‘Drips / Auntie’s Harp’ is stunning, with the luscious sample elegantly allowing the set to unwind at its midpoint, leaving many audience members awestruck. Teebs keeps the crowd entertained with fluctuating styles, sub-genres, pace and rhythms, causing the audience to cavort in a boundless manner. They dance with glee as he drops tracks from similar musicians including Jonwayne and Prefuse 73 in-between original tracks comprised of lucidly psychedelic beats.

teebs

Teebs announces his time is nearly over and indicates his last few tracks will be a selection of demo cuts. The audience react with glee, and as he’s musician who hasn’t released an album in over four years, it’s easy to comprehend why they desire material with a difference; whether it be new and novel or aged and unreleased. He mentions Sudan Archives is currently performing at the Brudenell Social Club, and he gives her props by playing a track from an unreleased collaboration of theirs. Teebs also thanks the audience for their turnout, and with Leeds being extremely busy with exceptional gigs tonight (Run the Jewels, Mount Eerie and Sudan Archives), his gratitude is logical and appreciated. Teebs gets a Q&A session going at the end of the set which is one of the most charmingly down-to-earth displays from a musician I’ve witnessed.

The Brainfeeder-signed musician is incomparable to many of his contemporaries, and tonight’s performance is a tranquil reflection of his unique style. Teebs is evidently a musician who gets spellbound in his own music, plunging into the depths of his mood to deliver a truly special performance. His humble manner and courteous demeanour only furthers the memorability of a show in which Teebs perfectly exhibits off-kilter rhythms, beat-making virtuosity, and spirited atmosphere.

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Gully Rhythms

2017 has seen a drastic change in my music taste. The genres I listen to, the formats I pick, the gigs I attend, and the way I consume music have all changed dramatically. I’ve gradually become obsessed with various forms of genres I never thought I’d be listening which include jungle, grime, dubstep, drum and bass, and other forms of bass-heavy electronic dance music. I’ve also reaffirmed a love for reggae, dub and dancehall. I owe it mainly to experiencing this in clubs which offer a unique take on sound system culture and a shared love of this music with friends. Seeing artists perform in a live setting at clubs with huge sound systems is tremendously different from witnessing guitar bands at a gig or festival; the volume and the bass is so loud and heavy that it’s impossible not to dance to and get involved. The audience is looser; they don’t necessarily face the performer and they may not have heard the music before, but they dance and enjoy themselves regardless. Esoteric cuts of jungle and dancehall may be played, for example nights such as Leeds’ SubDub feature the Iration Steppas, a DJ collective who play obscure dancehall cuts until the early hours of the morning.

These genres are built for the club setting, so singles are the most popular release; short, often urgent snippets of music where the goal is to get people moving. The main thing I’ve experienced with exploring these genres is that stepping outside of the confines of the album format is the key; singles, DJ mixes, EPs, compilations and watching live sets (such as those featured on Boiler Room) are the ways to go, but seeing live music is the best way to get involved.

This post will explore a few cuts from a variety of genres, many of which are classics, set staples for DJs, or just my personal favourites. These need turning up, preferably on a decent system with good bass; if you’re listening on cheap headphones or through a laptop and you aren’t enjoying these tunes, then that’s part of the problem.

The Bug – Skeng

I’ve been listening to The Bug for a few years now and his unique take on music is something I appreciate massively. From a musical background of industrial and heavy metal, Kevin Martin has appeared in countless projects such as Techno Animal, God, Ice and King Midas Sound who have been incredibly influential to the underground. His goal in The Bug is to intimidate the listener and the audience with sub-bass, layers of noise and a barrage of vocals. The sound includes grime, dancehall, industrial, hip hop and dubstep all mixed up into an experimental concoction. The album London Zoo is incredibly consistent and includes numerous highlights such as ‘Murder We’, ‘Jah War’, ‘Poison Dart’ and the classic ‘Skeng’. ‘Skeng’ features a repetitive dubstep bassline and appearances from grime MCs Flowdan and Killa P who both deliver an incredible performance in a West Indian accent. I’ve been lucky enough to see this performed live three times and Martin always steps up his A-game when performing live and constantly adapts his set to offer something different.

Kahn – Abattoir

The most ridiculous track on the list, ‘Abattoir’ features sub-bass so over-the-top it could cause earthquakes. This menacing number is from Bristol based dubstep producer Kahn, who’s signed to one of my favourite labels in the genre: Deep Medi Musik. The brass at the start signals the approaching peril: bouncing sub-bass paired with off-kilter rhythms of snare clicks and trap influenced hi-hats. ‘Abattoir’ is often heard dropped in DJ sets and gets the crowd going wild every single time. Kahn has also produced other favourites such as ‘Dread’ and ‘Badman City’ which features Flowdan, whilst his work with Commodo, Gantz and Neek similarly offers distinctive interpretations of the 140bpm sound.

Shy FX – Original Nuttah

A jungle classic, Shy FX’s ‘Original Nuttah’ is a track which gets dropped at near enough every drum and bass related club night. It provides an iconic sing-a-long-able introduction followed by intimidatingly rapid breakbeats

Benga & Coki – Night

A crossover hit, ‘Night’ brought dubstep to mainstream attention all the way back in 2007. It was played regularly on Radio 1 and was named Track of the Year by influential DJ Gilles Peterson. Coki is a member of Digital Mystikz with Mala, an incredibly influential duo who run the DMZ label where dark and minimal sounds thrived. He’s also known for his aggressive take on dubstep which pre-empted the American phenomena which came to be known as ‘brostep’, an often frowned upon offshoot where catchy melody and exaggerated drops replaced sub-bass and reggae influence. Similarly, Benga is one of the most recognised figures in the genre, even producing the successful track ‘Katy On a Mission’ by Katy B. Combined, Benga and Coki released the best track of their careers. Featuring shuffling percussion and irresistible UK garage basslines, this immediately catchy number remains one of the genres greatest moments.

Sir Spyro – Topper Top

Probably the biggest grime song of 2016, you can’t go to a rave and not hear ‘Topper Top’ dropped a few times, usually with several pull ups each time. Penned by celebrated producer Sir Spyro, the track was finally released on the Deep Medi label last year after being a sought after dubplate for months. Its intimidating spoken intro from Teddy Buckshot leads into a verse from the man himself, then an unforgettable rapid fire chorus. Also, Lady Chann and Killa P smash their verses.

Dizzee Rascal – Stop Dat and I Luv U

It goes without saying that Dizzee Rascal is one of the most influential grime musicians of all time; Wiley invented it, but Dizzee changed the game with the huge success and acclaim that came along with his debut Boy In Da Corner. I couldn’t decide which of these tracks I enjoy more so both get a feature. ‘Stop Dat’ includes incredible bassline instrumentals whilst ‘I Luv U’ is instantaneous and is one of grimes’ best known singles.

Mosca – Bax

The biggest UK garage song going, Mosca’s ‘Bax’ mixes the sounds of old school garage with his own take on the genre to an astounding effect. It’s massively danceable and catchy all the way through, and the basslines and drum fills are simply brilliant.

The A-side ‘Done Me Wrong’ is also incredible, it even features an in-song midpoint reload, a feat MC Grindah would be proud of.

Zinc/The Ganja Kru – Super Sharp Shooter

‘Super Sharp Shooter’ is perhaps my favourite jungle track of all time and there’s good reason for that. The way which Zinc and The Ganju Kru mix samples of the Wu-Tang Clan into dirty, homegrown drum and bass rhythms is incredible. It adds a sense of catchiness and familiarity, whilst crossing over to the other side of the ocean for influence. The 1990s was the era for both drum and bass, giving it a nostalgic feel when Sharp Shooter is listened to in the present day. The repeating bassline is hard hitting and memorable, and there’s a gradual build-up until the amens hit, allowing the crowds to go wild after chanting the first half of the track.

There are hundreds of tracks I could have put here, and the extensive playlists keep growing all the time. These are the classics that helped me get into the respective genres, and are excellent starting points for any curious readers.

 

Live Review: The Bug at SubDub – 30th September 2017

The Bug absolutely smashed Leeds’ legendary SubDub gathering last night. Kevin Martin maintains a background in extreme metal and industrial music, retaining the unique ability of interpreting the heaviness of metal and extreme music into bass-heavy, dancefloor ready bangers. He’s been involved in projects such as the industrial metal group God, and has collaborated with the likes of Death Grips, Earth, and Justin Broadrick of Godflesh/Jesu, to name just a few. The musical mixing pot was once again showcased in last night’s performance which combined the rawness of grime, the sub-bass of dubstep, and the energy of dancehall with flairs of industrial and shades of the left-field. The entire building quivered and every rib-cage in sight was rattled; the set equalled the power of a heavy metal show, except crowd surfing and circle pits were replaced with flailing gun fingers and shuffling dancefloors. The Bug’s set was followed by Bristol based bass-heavyweights Kahn and Neek, with Kahn sporting a Sunn O))) shirt for the night.

The Bug’s uncompromising sound undoubtedly matches the sonic intensity of heavy metal and here at Broken Amp, we believe there’s a huge crossover in the musical mindset of the work of Martin and similar artists who combine the ferocity of metal and industrial with the head-nod inducing rhythms of seemingly disparate genres which include hip hop, grime and dub reggae. Our writer Tom Massey witnessed the revelry last night, and he’s previously explored the relationship between heavy metal, industrial music and hip hop in a feature which you can revisit by checking out the link below.

http://brokenamp.com/distorted-prose-dalek/

A mini review written for the Broken Amp Instagram channel 

 

 

Now Playing: Rhythm & Sound – Rhythm & Sound w/ the Artists (2003)

This compilation is the definition of chill. It’s dub reggae with a twist, and those twists make for an extremely refreshing listen. Spawned from the minds of the seminal techno outfit Basic ChannelRhythm & Sound make minimalist, bass-heavy dub reggae which sounds completely riveting and original. The dub-meets-electronic sound reminds me of trip hop – sort of like Massive Attack at their dubbiest – whilst the production and overall atmosphere is reminiscent of dubstep acts such as Kode 9 & The Spaceape or King Midas Sound (though it is important to note that this compilation was released in 2003, predating dubstep by several years). This is a record to play in full, so you can enjoy the vibes and dwell in its relaxed repetition.

F♯A♯∞ turns 20 today!

The classic debut album from the Montreal experimentalists Godspeed You Black Emperor celebrates its twentieth birthday today. Not only is F♯A♯∞ their best album, it’s also the best post-rock album of all time, only rivaled by Mogwai‘s Young Team and Sigur Rós‘ Ágætis byrjun.

The record took a sharp stylistic U-turn from the krauty, ambient post-rock of the time (TortoiseBark PsychosisTalk Talk) and transformed it into a genre packed full of crescendos, progressive song-lengths, orchestral movements and cinematic drones.

If you haven’t heard this epic beauty yet, set some time aside and give it a full listen. You will not be disappointed.

Live Review: Frankie Cosmos at Band on the Wall – August 4th 2017

Greta Kline’s transformation from bedroom-recording songstress to indie pop sensation has been nothing short of spectacular. From her humble beginnings as a Bandcamp folk musician to topping end of year ‘best of’ lists, her prolific Frankie Cosmos project has become one of the most hotly-tipped acts in twee pop. Their unique take on guitar-based pop music is celebrated here at Band on the Wall, with the group playing to a packed audience of Friday night revellers.

The first act of the night is from Bristol based musician Trust Fund. Whilst Ellis Jones’ outfit often features additional members, it’s just one man and one guitar tonight. Musically, Trust Fund combine the sound of indie pop melodicism with tinges of Midwest-emo vocals and twinkly guitar playing. The solitary guitar work is warm and appealing, and Jones’ vulnerable falsetto vocals support his wry, earnest lyrics. Bearing similarities in both sound and mood to Greta’s work, Trust Fund are a well-chosen touring partnership and an excellent start to the evening.

Greta takes to the stage shortly after the other three members of Frankie Cosmos and they burst into their set with immediacy. There is very little chatter between the brief songs, with a performance which mainly stems from the breakthrough record Zentropy and their most recent critically lauded album Next Thing. Tracks including ‘Fool’, ‘Leonie’ and ‘Embody’ showcase Greta’s ability to wistfully lament upon lifetime experiences into a few lines of pensive prose. Her effortless, contemplative romanticisms lead to audience singalongs and cheers, with the band matching her steady guitar playing and unforced lyrically delivery with sparse percussion, gleaming keyboards and echoing basslines. The comfortable feel of the venue and note-for-note clarity of the sound faultlessly supports the group’s subtle instrumentation and unobtrusive playing style, whilst allowing enough room for impact in the louder and brisker moments. Tonight is the last night of the tour for Cosmos, and though her demeanour is often shy, it adds to the allure of her music. Her frequent exchanges with the band members result in charming instances, including a smiles abundant glance with keyboardist Gabrielle as they sing extended vocal harmonies.

Frankie Cosmos leave the stage to calls for an encore, though the switching on of the house lights suggest otherwise. It wouldn’t really seem right for the group to indulge in rock clichés after-all, save for the bass player’s Spinal Tap looking guitar. Frankie Cosmos’ charisma lies in their ability to summarise adolescent nostalgia into two-minute pop songs, and this knack shines through in a performance which leaves every audience member with a smile on their face.

Originally written for Band on the Wall

An Introduction to UK Garage

The unique subgenre of electronic music that is UK Garage has a rather impressive family tree: from dubstep to grime, future garage to UK funky, bassline to 2-step, UKG has had a massive impact on the underground dance music scenes on these shores and beyond. From its humble beginnings on pirate radio and London raves, to dominating the charts in the late 90s and early 2000s, the unmistakable sound of garage has been ever-present over the last twenty years. This selection of tracks ranging from the old school to the new showcase a broad variety of sounds and styles from the genre.

Zed Bias – Neighbourhood

Manchester’s very own UK Garage legend released this banger back in 1999. Complete with ridiculously catchy hooks, shuffling beats and an innovative call and response interaction between the vocalists, ‘Neighbourhood’ is irresistibly brilliant and to this day remains one of the genres most loved tracks.

The Streets – Has It Come to This?

The Streets changed the game back in 2002 with Original Pirate Material, one of the first UKG albums which worked excellently as a complete record whilst boasting killer singles to fill the clubs and the airwaves. This lead single from the debut gave everyone their first taste of Mike Skinner, a rapper and producer who mixed grittily urbane poetry with the garage rhythms.

MJ Cole – Sincere

‘Sincere’ just oozes with positivity. Its laid back and spacey vibe offers a take on UKG suitable for both post-club chill-outs and the dancefloor.

Mosca – Bax

Mosca’s ‘Bax’ is a new school speed garage banger, often heard mixed into dubstep and grime sets thanks to its DJ friendly crossover of danceable rhythms and wonky sub-bass. Proving once again the power of the UK Garage single, ‘Bax’ is the B-Side to the equally brilliant ‘Done Me Wrong’.

 Gil Scott-Heron and Jamie XX – NY is Killing Me

It would be impossible to compile a list about UKG without mentioned Jamie XX, a figure who takes snippets of every sub-genre of garage and gives his own forward thinking spin on the sound. Part remix album, part collaboration, his reworking of Gil Scott-Heron’s I’m New Here saw Jamie stepping out from the shadows of The XX into newer musical territories, mixing future garage and UK bass with the poetic soul of Scott-Heron. The track ‘NY is Killing Me’ features dubstep build-ups and pulsating sub-bass and is one of the “heaviest” tracks on We’re New Here, especially heard when stacked up against the shimmering deep house numbers such as ‘I’ll Take Care Of U’.

DJ Luck & MC Neat – With A Little Bit of Luck

This classic climbed to the top ten of the UK singles chart back in 1999, the first in a string of hits for the duo.

James Blake – CMYK

Often mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Jamie XX, James Blake is perhaps most well-known for his mellow take on UK Garage known as “post-dubstep”. Before creating acclaimed albums in this style (such as Overgrown and his self-titled debut), he released several EPs of rather different character, owing to the classic sounds of UKG and newer producers such as Pariah and Joy Orbison. Taken from his excellent sophomore extended play, ‘CMYK’ features layers of reworked vocals and percussion, amounting to a dizzying yet danceable effect.

DJ Zinc – 138 Trek

DJ Zinc is one of the most highly regarded figures in drum n bass, so what’s he doing in a UKG list? It’s simple really: you’re just as likely to hear this in a jungle/drum n bass set as you are a garage mix as it’s one of the greatest crossovers heard in electronic dance music, remaining one of breakcore’s most cherished singles.

 Musical Mob – Pulse X

Musical Mob’s ‘Pulse X’ is an example of how UK Garage led to the emergence of grime. Grime materialised when British MCs started rapping over garage beats, often at raves and on pirate radio stations. Grittier and aggressive instrumental tracks such as ‘Pulse X’ and Wiley’s ‘Eskimo’ were favoured, thus creating a new musical movement which has dominated the UK underground for the past 15 years.

Packed to the brim with first-rate singles, it would be impossible to cover all of the hits and classics of UK garage. It’s brought about countless dancefloor ready bangers, whilst the likes of the critically acclaimed James Blake and Burial offer appeal to home listeners. With present day artists such as Jamie XX, SBTKRT and Disclosure bringing the sound to a younger audience, and the escapades of garage DJs appearing on national TV in the BAFTA winning mockumentary People Just Do Nothing, the sound and cultural influence of UK Garage isn’t going away anytime soon.

Live Review: Silver Apples at Band on the Wall – August 2nd 2017

The late 1960s is known for being one of the greatest periods for musical creativity; psychedelia came to prominence, experimentation in rock and roll increased dramatically and world music found its way into the heart of the mainstream. One of the most seminal acts to stem from this era are Silver Apples; whilst they may not be as well-known as the huge psych-rock acts of the time, they remain a highly influential act who are name-checked by all your favourite electronic and psychedelic groups. Thanks to their experimentations with electronic music and developments into synthesizer technology, their sound (which pre-dates krautrock) became a hugely influential force in the progression of electronic music whilst offering a unique and experimental flair to the guitar-driven psych at the time.

The modern incarnation of Silver Apples features Simeon Coxe as a solo act. On stage he mixes samples of late percussionist Danny Taylor’s drum parts to his wild synth arrangements, amounting to a performance which is nothing short of spectacular. Complete with support from shadowy post-punkers Slow Knife and drone-tinged neo-psychedelia duo SilVer VialS, tonight’s show at Band on the Wall is a perfect example of how experimental music is equally interesting as it is enjoyable.

The first act to take to the stage are Slow Knife. Sporting blazers and an array of instruments ranging from bongos to a saxophone, the six-piece group start their set in an astonishingly dramatic fashion. The band provide a perfect musical backdrop to underpin the frontman, who delivers vocals in a spoken word fashion from a collection of scruffy notes. Whilst they may immediately invite comparisons to John Cooper Clarke and The Invisible Girls, their set reveals an array of influences and sounds, ranging from Tom Waits’ pairing of cryptic lyricism with eclectic instrumentation, the driven repetition of The Fall, flairs of effect driven guitars and intimidating noise rock freak-outs. Slow Knife’s set is interesting and memorable, proving to be an excellent start to a night of strange revelries.

Next up, is Manchester based two-piece SilVer VialS. Fresh from supporting Chilean purveyors of psych Föllakzoid and Berlin based Camera, the multi-instrumentalists play a lucid and dreamy set which gives the impression of one magnificently woven song. Their performance plays upon Neu!-esque krautrock rhythms, jammy repetitive grooves which harks to Wooden Shjips, and the shimmering melodies of Spiritualized. Even as a duo, the group hold the ability to assemble numerous layers with loops, hypnotic effects, fuzzed-out basslines and trippy vocal measures which are reinforced by the droning synths and motoric drum machine beat. SilVer VialS possess a sound where brilliantly executed repetition and kaleidoscopic psych builds and builds to a create a meditative effect. With a string of support slots from across the psychedelic world under their belts, SilVer VialS are a group to look out for amongst the Manchester alternative music scene.

The final performance is by none other than Silver Apples. Armed with an assortment of analogue synthesizers, oscillators, sound filters, effect pedals and other pieces of bizarre looking technology, Simeon delves into a set which spans all of his studio output. Following a short tweaking and warm-up of his otherworldly looking equipment, he begins to explore the left-field of 60s psych with the futuristic sounds of pounding beats and electronic drones, which are greeted with a rapturous applause from the audience. The appreciation is noted by Coxe, who engages in friendly chatter and jokes with the crowd for the duration of his set. The tracks are modified on the spot by Simeon, with the free-form sonic experiments giving the impression that no two Silver Apples performance are alike. With the bass heavy rumbling synths, electro grooves and head-nod inducing drum machine beats, it becomes clearer to hear the influence Simeon has had on genres from techno to hip hop; it’s no wonder the likes of Portishead’s Geoff Barrow and Stones Throw label owner Peanut Butter Wolf are avid fans. The highlight of the set is an extended cut of ‘Oscillations’ from the classic self-titled debut album; the reverberating vocals weave through dense, spacey synths which Coxe oversees with effortless ease. He leaves the stage, but the crowd desire more. After a brief break, he returns to perform a final song, a cut from the sophomore record Contact.

Silver Apples is a project which has overseen vast transformations throughout the years: from rising from the ashes of traditional rock outfit The Overland Stage Electric Band to adjusting the manner of performance and composition after losing a member, Simeon is a testament to how to change a project without losing the key essence of a group. Tonight’s gig highlighted Band on the Wall’s commitment to celebrating free thinking and innovative music, with three acts all performing to a first-rate standard.

Originally written for Band on the Wall 

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