Tom Misch – What Kinda Music

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One of the UKs most exciting drummers in Yussef Dayes has collaborated with the forward-thinking multi-instrumentalist and composer, Tom Misch, to release the pulsating new album ‘What Kinda Music’. The opening single, ‘What Kinda music’ is a slow burning beginning to an album which Yussef on the drums nicely sets the tone to, whilst Misch creates an eerie mood with the heavily reverb bassline which lines up perfectly behind his vocals.

The experimental dynamic throughout the track with his vocals and guitar is a direction in which Misch didn’t do much of, for his previous album, ‘Geography’, where he seemed to be trying to make more classically structured music and arrangement. Titling the track, ‘What Kinda Music’ adds to the experimental, instinctual natural relationship between Yussef Dayes and Tom Misch for the track, and the synergy between the two is continued throughout.

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Stand out single, ‘Nightrider’ has a wonderfully relaxing tempo which is difficult to skip past as it seamlessly blends from the previous track. American Hip Hop artist, Freddie Gibbs blesses the track with a bumping up-tempo freestyle, casually ebbing and flowing around snares. 

Lift Off’ has an amazing momentous build started with the smooth leading bassline permeating throughout the track, the combination of the lead bass and drums took me back to moments during Mansur Brown’s previous album ‘Shiroi’. Similar to how Mansur Brown would let his bold imposing guitar provide the unwavering presence for his standout track, ‘Mashita’, Misch turned the focus to allow space and time to show off his guitar string play. The Following track, ‘I Did it For You’ sees Misch and Dayes coming together for a funk fuelled groove which slowly encapsulates Tom Misch’s ethereal, echoing vocals resonating around Yussef Dayes’ drums as the track develops. 

Coming towards the end of the album, the stunning stand out track, ‘Last 100’ elevates the wistful, dreamy mood created from the previous track, ‘I Did It For You’. The piano chords brighten the spirit, all the while, Misch’s raspy soft vocal line glides with the quick guitar finger play throughout. 

Misch’s seems to create a nostalgic mood towards the end of the album for the last two tracks; ‘John Mangos’ and ‘Storm Before The Calm’. With the latter, featuring a memorable conversation around from his manager about the album as well as, whilst ‘Storm Before The Calm’ invites Kaidi Akinnibi on the saxophone which provides settling tone and switch from illustrious build from the drums and guitar. 

Tom Misch’s fearless change in direction from ‘Geography’ is a bold move which will entice new listeners to work and strengthen his already loyal fanbase. Known to have spent some time producing beats on Ableton by himself, linking up with Yussef Dayes on the drums seemed to allow him to put those ideas into a live album which he was not able to do in previous albums, and i think it’s definitely paid off. The album is terrific from start to finish

You can listen to the spotify stream here:

What the video for Kyiv here:

First Thoughts: Manga Saint Hilare – Make It Out Alive

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One of the Grime scenes most consistent straight talking lyricist Manga Saint Hilare, delves into a pool of reflections, regrets, but yet still optimistic throughout his latest album ‘Make It Out Alive’. ‘Outsiders Live Forever’ was Manga’s last solo album back in 2018, a year in which the album was easily one of my standout albums of 2018 from the UK music scene. So, I went into his recent release with those  current album with many of those tracks fresh in my memory.

‘Escape plan’ opens the album gently in a slightly somber mood leaving Manga’s voice at the center of the track throughout. Manga’s voice becomes all the more poignant and rhythmic as the track evolves, his ability to raise his tempo, fitting more and more words in a bar with consistent clarity is brilliant. I think Manga’s consistency in delivery isn’t spoken about enough within the UK grime scene and, over the stripped back production of ‘Escape Plan’ , it’s an early reminder of his lyrical ability

Stand out track ‘Safety in Numbers’ has a wonderful bouncy bassline with some nice sounding springy percussion synth elements in pockets off beat to the kicks and sub bass.  Speaking from his own personal experiences and journey through life, Manga seems to look forward with optimism as well as offers younger s to learn from his difficulties and to stay true to themselves.

Manga invites a few more features than his previous solo album, with mixture newer artists like Izzie Gibbs, Snowy, SBK, IRAH, to more established artists like Novelist, P Money, Murkage Dave, and Jammer. Manga’s link up with Murkage Dave for the track titled ‘Black Man Timing’ brought back good memories from their joint project last year, ‘We Need To Look Us’. Murkage Dave’s vocals are a welcomed blessing half way through the project, as he links up again with Manga for the track ‘‘Black Man’s Timing’. Manga has to switch his flow for the slower production and rides with the swinging synth melody line.

P Money effortless detailed story telling ability was a solid reminder of his lyrical prowess for the track ‘Not Around’. It’s not my favourite production style for both of them as prefer them on harder grime beat but still a track with replay value. A strong album from Manga Saint Hilare definitely worth a listen!

Check our the album below, and let us know what you think:

 

First Thoughts: Ric Flo – The Rise of the Phoenix

Somewhere amidst the juggling of creative outlets and community projects, Rapper and Creative Director Ric Flo managed to find the time to record and release ‘Rise of the Phoenix’. Taking lessons learnt from past projects and personal experiences, Ric Flo (who only recently released an album with his rap trio Jungle Brown) has self-released his first solo project in 6 years, hinting that we’ll be hearing much more of him this year.

‘Rise of the Phoenix’ sees Ric Flo team up with several producers to experiment on his latest recordings, merging a variety of styles, genres and vocal arrangements in an attempt to firmly establish himself as a solo artist. The project starts with mellow pop like beats that layer synths around a thumping kick and bass, allowing harmonious and optimistic vocals like ‘so much in store’ and ‘see past the bullshit’ to float through the background. It’s clear from the first couple of tracks that the rapper is both accepting and grateful for what he’s managed to achieve, setting the tone (at least that’s what I thought) for the rest to come.

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The EP then arrives at Major, a surprising shift in pace as the project is injected with a grime influenced track that cleverly showcases Ric’s flow. The muffled drumbeat, distant percussion and momentum in the lyricism firm their place and prove how diverse the rapper can be. However, the EP then deviates in style again to finish strong with ‘Therapy’ and ‘Fam‘, in what feels like Ric’s most comfortable position on the project. Returning to his hip-hop roots with a groovy bassline and wavy keys that flow through a boom bap beat – the effortless emotiveness of his bars really rings true here. The clear references to personal experiences provide a fantastically intimate end to an EP that highlights how far he’s come since A Boy Called Ric.

You can listen and purchase Ric Flo new EP, Rise of the Phoenix here:

First Thoughts: Son Little – Invisible

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Son little is the stage name of Guitarist, and Music Producer, Aaron Livingstone. Coming off the back of grammy award from his work with Mavis Staples he has released a short EP titled, ‘Invisible’. It’ll include a couple tracks from his forthcoming album ‘Aloha’ which comes out on the 31st January. Aaron caught my attention from his stunning, captivating NPR tiny desk performance, where he played a number of of his stand out tracks from his self titled ‘Son Little’ album.

The 80s funk infused and gripping soulful opening track, ‘Hey Rose’ sets a wonderful tone for the EP. the springing electric guitar which ebbs and flows between his vocals during the verses has a swinging 70s disco feel which would have moved dance floors. 

Son little’s manages to invoke so much emotion through his vocals from his tones, and the way expands some of his notes, all the while maintaining a delicate warmness in his voice. Stand out track, ‘I’m a builder’ blends more contemporary styles of soul as his gentle string play from the guitar leads the track. Along with the accompaniment of the strings along with his voice gives the track a wonderful contemporary blues feel. 

Little Son experiments a little more with his vocal notes in the track ‘About her. again’ , as the swinging momentous build in the instruments grow with the gradual raspy tones in his voice. Little Son oozes more blues and soul than I felt in his previous tracks, and puts the track in front as my favourite.

Check out his NPR tiny desk concert:

 

 

First Thoughts: Waajeed – Ten Toes Down EP

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Detroit legendary music producer, Waajeed, has returned this summer with his Ten Toes Down EP, having finished last year with his heavy 10-track album, ‘From the Dirt’ through his very own label, Dirt Teck Reck. With a career spanning over 20 years, Waajeed’s production knowledge and ability has seen him take on a range of styles. From his early work with J Dilla in 2002, where the pair released a number of Hip-Hop sampled based projects through their Bling47 record label, to the stage he is at now, releasing more soulful house and techno tracks.

Working closely with American Soulstress, Blue Raspberry under her alias Candi Lindsay for two of the three tracks in the EP, Waajeed seamlessly blends her strong powerful vocals throughout his house stylised production. The first track ‘Heavy‘, has Candi Lindsay vocals at the forefront before the opening drop, as she scatters and inflates her vocals to create a momentous drop in the first couple minutes into the track. The smooth layering of synth sounds develop nicely over Candi Lindsay vocals coming back and forth in the pockets.

‘Deeper into Blue’ has a soothing beautiful progression feel throughout the track from the Candi Lindsay spoken word at the beginning to the development of the backing chords, bassline which gradually elevates the track. Waajeed’s closing track, ‘Too Black’ has this soothing dark undertone from layered drums over the kicks which you can imagine would move any dancefloor.

You can buy the the EP via bandcamp below:

First Thoughts: Moodyman – Sinner

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It’s always a joy to hear new music from Moodyman, a genuine Detroit legend who has always given his time to developing his craft with only classic albums. Having been nearly 5 years since his last studio album self-titled, Moodyman, there was much anticipation but also, some confusion around his latest project. With a number of online sites hinting it was ‘coming soon ’ long before the release date, and then later being taken off the website.

Tilted ‘Sinner’, Moodyman in 7 tracks encapsulates an incredibly authentic blend of Detroit deep house, soul, and funk, making use of cleverly arranged samples to reveal more about him within each track. I’ll Provide’ opens with a confusingly menacing patient build around Moodyman’s distorted voice, which eventually evolves with the beats developing in tempo around his voice.

Following, ‘I’ll Think of Saturday’ is the only single Moodyman released prior to this album towards the end of last year titled – ‘Got Me Coming back’. Starting off steady, the eerie unexpected break down within minutes into the track brilliantly ignites your attention and allows for the accompanying elements to stand out more.

If I Gave You My love’ and stand out track ‘Downtown’ turn to more soulful old school jazz and funk feel. ‘If I Gave You My Love’ has a hazy wistful slow build, which alongside the gentle ringing piano and indistinct looped vocals, create a lullaby feel to the track. ‘Downtown’ almost feels like two tracks in one, with the first half feeling like the start of an exciting jazz tune, but the addition of the funky bassline in sync with the piano chords lifting the track to another level.

Have a listen to the album for yourself via bandcamp, let us know your thoughts:

First Thoughts: Javonntte – Drumma

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The London based imprint return with their fifth release from Detroit born and bred native – Javonntte. During his career, which spans over 20 years, he’s been fortunate enough to work with some legendary producers like Blake Baxter, Amp Fiddler, and Andres. In more recent years he’s of focused more on his solo career and released a string of releases through labels such as, Traxx Underground, Quintessential and Kai Alce’s NDATL.

The inaugural track aptly named ‘Drumma’, gets straight into the Detroit house groove, with an encapsulating freestyle on the drums which makes full use of the drum kit setting the tempo early. The accompanying elements from the bassline, to the ethereal backing piano, and vocal line subtly build throughout the track giving it that amazing Detroit deep house style.

Jazzpianodance’ takes a slightly different turn with a broken style drum pattern seeping after a brief vocal line opening. Javonntte seemingly fuses he love for deep house and funk into a bouncier bassline and drum pattern which invigorates the track with more energy.

The B-side of the EP includes two of London’s most exciting electronic music producers, showing us their remix of Javonntte’s Jazzpianodance. Melbourne raised and now London based, Winters shows off a stripped back, silky rendition to the original. Whilst Touching Bass family, Romal Kultan delivers an impactful, high energy remix, with gradual broken percussion and breaks towards the end of the track as it develops.

First Thoughts: Tenderlonious – Hard Rains

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Ed Cawthorne, better known as Tenderlonious – the prolific flutist, producer, 22a records boss, and leader of The 22archestra and Ruby Rushton jazz ensembles. ‘Hard Rain’ follows from the recently released and highly praised Ruby Rushton album ‘Ironside’. Tenderlonious first grabbed my attention with last year’s stunning album – ‘Shakedown’ ,which took him to prestigious gigs at Ronnie Scott’s and the Barbican with Mulatu Astatke, to name a few.

Tenderlonious seemingly doesn’t hold back on experimenting with the instruments at his disposal through his latest album. The glowing snares against the smooth pace set with the slightly filtered kicks in the opening to ‘Casey Jr’ gently ease you into the electro psychedelic journey in store throughout the rest of the album. The enduring momentous build of ‘Hard Rain’ follows on, from the interlude sounding track – ‘Buffalo Gurl’.

The psychedelic alien-like experimentation throughout  – ‘Another State of Consciousness’ , stick the track out poignantly amongst others in the album. Whilst your eased in the opening minutes, the track later develops with the slightly delayed kicks mounting on to the erratic sharp sounding melody line.

The break-fuelled-flute-ride of ‘Aesop Thought’ and LA-style abstract science of ‘Workin Me Out 2’ shine a new light on trip hop, before the album closes with the smoldering, emotive brooder ‘Almost Time’.

You can purchase the full album via bandcamp below:

First Thoughts: Mndsgn – Snaxx

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Coming out of LA based independent label – Stones Throw Records, is the ever diligent creative – Mndsgn aka Ringgo Ancheta. Snaxx marks Mndsgn’s fourth studio album to have come out of Stones Throw Records. The concept and ambitions for Snaxx were built on ‘not wanting to let unreleased tracks wither and die on his hard drive’, he mentions.

Mndsgn has always had his hands on the pulse for the Hip Hop styled beats, but he’s never been shy to include other influences. His 2014 debut Yawn Zen’s dreamy atmospheres and languid beats felt ambient, even psychedelic, and 2016’s Body Wash took a different approach entirely, repurposing influences from 1970s and 1980s boogie and R&B into a conceptual, cosmic epic.

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The development between each track fit together coherently like one long wistful journey through Mndsgn’s influences. As the album begins with the first four tracks following one another in quick succession the tempo is quickened in the 5th track – ‘Browneez’. The quick drum pattern carries the energy throughout the track, whilst the ethereal harmonic tones from the synthesised keys, and warm electric guitar sounding melody line are given room to stand out. ‘Cashoos’ seems to work as an interlude for the album, with it being a shorter, and swift change of pace to the previous tracks. The soothing harmonised vocal lines steal the track, with only very gentle beats supporting the vocals.

The silky transition between tracks towards the end of the album from ‘Browneez’ to ‘Ggardenn’ include a couple uplifting vocal performances. Jon Bap’s soulful vocal display simply melts along the resonating keyboard chords, whilst, Asal Hazel’s tender harsh vocals bless the following track – ‘Snaxx with U’. A truly brilliant album with Hip Hop at its core, but with the accompanying cleverly placed samples surrounding the beats bringing the album to life.

Have a listen below and support the artists:

First Thoughts: Intalekt – The Adventures of Masta Splinta

Last year saw Intalekt show off his versatility, putting pen to paper for a number of tracks on his debut release titled – ‘The Intervention’ alongside Geefree as The Billy Dukes (click here to read our review). Intalekt puts down the pen, to show off his production and arrangement ability with 10 tracks of seamless bliss. Intalekt is certainly not new to game with a regular show on Youth Led Radio station Reprezent Radio, and having worked with some amazing UK artists in Jacob Banks, Kojey Radical, Slicc Vicc, and Jay Prince to name a few, for his debut EP titled – It Is What It Is.

Earlier in February Intalekt dropped his first solo Album of the year titled – The Adventures of Masta Splinta. With his last album featuring a number of artists to provide the lyrics and vocals, this album puts Intalekt’s beats at the forefront for the first time. There’s a wonderful calmness throughout the album, and Intalekt seems to make heavy use of wind instruments and chiming bells which creates a beautiful meditative soundscape.

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The first track ‘Are We Safe?’ lays the foundations for the atmosphere of the whole album, as each track seamlessly blends into one another. Intalekt covers a range of subtle influences, ‘Hope’ has a similar stripped down, downtempo feel to late 80s American Hip Hop. Whilst the timely up-tempo claps in ‘Wolves’ is nicely layered with the guitar rift and percussion elements bouncing off it. The following track ‘We Move’ develops more of a head-nodding groove with the off-beat kicks against the claps, which builds nicely for the heavy bass kicks to inflate the track with energy midway.

If you are a fan of Hip Hop this album will definitely give you something to think about. On first listen you wouldn’t notice the subtle significant changes between tracks but its definitely album worth listening to more than once!