Untold

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Jack Dunning’s production work as Untold has reinvigorated the climate of dancefloors around the globe. First releasing music on Hessle Audio, where his ‘Kingdom’ single housed two slices of unsettlingly brilliant atmospheric bass weight, the North Londoner has gone on to releases numerous scene stealing EPs as well as form two labels, Pennyroyal and Hemlock Recordings. He now stands proudly as a tastemaker in his own right. Tracks like his freewheeling ‘Anaconda,’ also released on Hessle Audio, and ‘Stop What You’re Doing’ still possess as much impact today as they did the day they were premiered; harbouring the power to stop a dancefloor dead in inquisitiveness, they are two glowing examples of Untold’s monstrously weighted approach to club music. Supple yet rough and relentlessly inventive.

This consistent want to test himself and push forward into unknown territories continues with his A&R philosophy. Since its inception Hemlock became a home to work by Mount Kimbie, Fantastic Mr Fox, CosminTRG, Ramadanman and a certain producer called James Blake. Not content to rest on this legacy Dunning created a new imprint ‘Pennyroyal’ in 2013, a home for “rough and ready” techno that has already seen stand out releases from J Tijn and Boner M.

Brought up a junglist it was a trip to Third Base in Brixton that reinvigorated Dunning to start producing music again, something he admits he previously let slip after a music degree drained his creativity, and since then he’s released a steady tirade of impeccable productions. Appearing on labels such as Soul Jazz, Scuba’s Hotflush and Hessle Audio, Dunning soon began to drift from dubstep and apply his unique approach to Techno. Through releases on R&S and Clone’s Basement Series this new found love of techno culminated in his most comprehensive release to date – a three part EP on Hemlock named “Change in a Dynamic Environment”. The release gained critical acclaim and left no doubt that Dunning can turn his hand to any variant – something he’s continuing to explore on his new Pennyroyal label.

After a further experiment into techno on Modeselktor’s 50 Weapons label, Dunning is gearing up to finally release his debut album on his own Hemlock Recordings. Entitled ‘Black Light Spiral’ the album is scheduled for February 2014 and will be accompanied by a debut live show from Dunning. Drawing on his past experiences in Jungle and Hardcore, his ground breaking work in bass music and his more recent forays into 4×4, the album marks a seminal point in the career of Untold – delivering on his mission to break new ground with each step.

And So I Watch You From Afar

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And So I Watch You From Afar’s third album All Hail Bright Futures could be taken as both an ethos for the album and the band at this point in time. There is a new color scheme in place: new textures, emotions, sounds and voices. The 12-track, 43 minute album is dominated by a sunnier disposition, a positive uplift that more closely matches the euphoria the Northern Ireland trio has been instilling in audiences through their music in a live setting for the last five years.

There are moments of tropical guitar pop (‘Rats On Rock’), percussive bleeping song foundations paired with infectious vocals (‘The Stay Golden’), a trumpet arrangement (‘Young Brave Minds’), an orchestral interlude ‘(Trails’), singalong mantras (‘Big Things Do Remarkable’), harmonic hooks (‘Like A Mouse’), a flute melody (‘Mend And Make Safe’) along with cutup vocals and handclaps (‘Ka Ba Ta Bo Da Ka’). All of these new additions to the ASIWYFA sound are underpinned by their trademark guitar riffs that bliss the musical brain, complemented by the colossal and increasingly expressive rhythm section that comforts as much as it bludgeons.

Continuing the unparalleled pace at which they’ve been touring for over five years now, ASIWYFA have taken their uplifting sound to places other bands could only imagine. Since the release of 2011’s second album Gangs, the band have added China, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus to their already considerably stamped passports. As well as these far-flung, seldom played places, the band have gigged all over North America and Europe, bringing their total show tally close to 500.

A band can’t play 500 shows worldwide without a fanbase and ASIWYFA have a legion. And you can’t build a legion of fans across the world without great songs. Gangs earned the band a second Choice Music Prize nomination for Irish Album of The Year 2012 and they recently signed to Sargent House worldwide (home to Omar Rodriguez Lopez, Fang Island, Chelsea Wolfe, Russian Circles, Tera Melos and more) for management and label — who have released the band’s third album All Hail Bright Futures in March 2013.

All Hail Bright Futures is ASIWYFA’s first recording done as a three-piece following the departure of Tony Wright. The band will head back out on the road as a four piece with their new full time member Niall Kennedy. The album was recorded with Rocky O’ Reilly at Start Together Studio in Belfast. It is their boldest statement yet, an album bursting with a positive vigor, that states a renewed case for a magnetizing band at their best.

 

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Bonnie “Prince” Billy

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Artist Will Oldham is a gifted, eccentric and fairly revered Americana folk-rock singer and songwriter who, for twenty years, has made a name for himself working outside the mainstream. Oldham has recorded under many names, including Palace, Palace Music, Palace Brothers and Bonnie Billy.

On the one hand, he is an insignia of clear-cut indie-Americana, on the other, an introverted songwriter who built a career out of outwardly unparalleled impulses. As a live performer, he mostly avoids the club circuit; preferring record shops, brew pubs, house concerts and low-key overseas residencies all while mostly sidestepping the press. Latterly, though, he’s been dipping his toes into the conventional mainstream.

“It’s a lovey, occasionally psychedelic, often breathtaking record.” – NPR

Oldham’s voice has developed over the years, becoming warmer and more meticulous; he is confident enough to liberate his delicate side, not afraid to sound pretty or mellow, and he’s become a hell of a harmony singer, knowing just when to emulate and when to cease.

 

 

Dodos

The drums hit you in the chest first, spraying your speakers like swift gunshots. But then Meric Long’s finger-picked chords kick in, cascading across Logan Kroeber’s brass knuckle beats like only the best Dodos songs can.

This forward motion feeling has driven the duo since 2005, but several key changes lift their fourth LP (No Color) to another level. For one thing, the band reunited with Portland producer John Askew, the man behind the boards of the Dodos’ first two full-lengths, Beware of the Maniacs and Visiter. Having an old friend around was like adding an honorary third member; a voice of reason who can isn’t afraid of vetoing ill-fated ideas. Ideas like glossy layers of vibraphone that lost their luster halfway through.

The main focus of No Color was to bottle the frenzied folk approach that’s been there since the beginning. And it works damn well, from the dagger-drawing dynamics and brain-burrowing choruses of “Black Night” to the hairpin turns and splashy percussion of “Good.” And then there are the songs that’ll make you want to dub old episodes of 120 Minutes, including the instrumental break of “Don’t Stop” and the sneak attack solo that weaves its way around the steely rhythms of “Don’t Try and Hide It.”

“I have a love for ‘90s riffs that I haven’t gotten to showcase in this band,” says Long. “The most fun I had with this record was when I got to strap on the electric guitar and come up with Billy Corgan riffs while the tape was rolling.”

It’s as if Long’s finally got to live the flannel-era fantasies that started when he was a teenager, tearing guitar tabs out of magazines at a local pharmacy. The catch? There’s less room for error than there’s ever been.

“We’re more naked this way,” explains Long. “You can hide a lot of your mistakes on an acoustic, but with an electric, every single note is much louder and more piercing. So I have to be way more on top of my playing now.”

And so do we.

 

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Ed Schrader’s Music Beat

“Ed Schrader is one of the most engaging artists of our generation.” – Vice Magazine

Before Ed Schrader’s Music Beat, Ed made music under the name Ed Schrader, layering trippy sounds over pounding drums. A 10″ from four years back documents this era, before Ed expanded the project into Music Beat. In 2009 Devlin Rice (also of Nuclear Power Pants) joined Ed for a one-off show. The band formed quite unintentionally. Ed was invited to play a rave of all things and, before almost deciding to opt out, decided to join forces with his roommate Devlin for the performance.

Playing as a duo, the show was magical – Ed doing manic extended versions of his songs, crooning to a glow stick friendly crowd under a full moon in September, while Devlin raged alongside making for a winning combination that was too good to leave as a one night affair. This mind meld took the left field paranoid pop that Ed was composing and added a powerful low end power chug from the jug of eternal rock, raising the whole project to a more visceral live experience.

Since then the band has done considerable touring with acts such as Future Islands, Lightning Bolt and Dan Deacon, and really whipped up some enthusiasm based on their minimal and real rock vision.

 

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Forest Swords

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Forest Swords is one producer, Matthew Barnes, from Liverpool, UK. A unique blend of jagged hip-hop and R&B beats, looping guitar lines and manipulated samples, his evocative and emotional music reflects the sprawling Wirral landscape of river, coastland and woodland with all the haunting melodies of nearby city Liverpool’s enviable pop history.

His studio EP – 2010′s ‘Dagger Paths’ – received huge critical acclaim. Despite it’s EP length, it was named FACT Magazine’s #1 album of the year and Pitchfork’s #48 best, called “one of 2010′s finest underground records” by NME, and chosen a ‘Hidden Gem of 2010′ by The Guardian.In November 2010, Pitchfork posted an article suggesting Barnes was part of a new generation of producer composers, alongside James Blake, Mount Kimbie, Bon Iver, Burial and Four Tet.

After 3 years of silence a new track – “Thor’s Stone” – was dropped without warning in June 2013, receiving universal online coverage. Within 48 hours The FADER had published a think piece proclaiming the producer’s music is “worth endless listens, endless re-examinations, endless re-contextualizing”, and stating it “exists in that sweet spot of musical influence between everything and nothing.” Further new material is expected to surface shortly.

 


“Superb… walks a taut tightrope between digital dread and organic warmth.” — The Guardian

“Forest Swords is making it readily apparent that no matter where he may be in his project’s lifespan, the inspiration which drives its haunted music remains focused and resolute.” –Pitchfork

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Humans

Vancouver based production/performance duo Robbie Slade and Peter Ricq decided on the name Humans as they developed their aesthetic, which bridges the gap between electronic music and live performance, between performer and audience. They have developed a fervent following on the back of a few short releases and near ceaseless touring, which led them from opening for Junior Boys, How to Dress Well, Martin, Egyptrixx, Porter Robinson, Grimes, Shout Out Out Out Out, and Kid Sister to high profile sets at Shambhala, CMJ, SXSW, NXNW, WEMF, CMW, Sled Island, Pop Montreal, and Live At Squamish. In the process, Humans have become one of the hottest acts in Canadian electronic music today.

Following the success of 2010’s Avec Mes Mec, Slade and Ricq took enough time off the road to create the Traps EP. Released by Hybridity in early 2012, Traps would go on to spend six weeks at the top of the !earshot National Electronic Chart, peak at #10 on the National Top 50, and hit #5 on CMJ RPMS. The original version of lead single “De Ciel” was announced by publications like CBC Music and Exclaim, while remixes by Max Ulis and Nautiluss received high ratings as downloads at XLR8R, and the sweet yet disturbing video for “Horizon” premiered at Spinner. The Humans machine shows no sign of slowing, as they continue to tour and work on their debut full-length.

 

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How To Dress Well

How To Dress Well is the stage name of songwriter and producer Tom Krell. Krellʼs burgeoning career began in 2009 when, having just moved from Brooklyn to Berlin, his songs began to emerge online via a hugely prolific string of free, digital EPs posted in anonymity on his blog. Combining a gorgeous falsetto with fractured R&B-influenced beats, an instinctive ear for subtly devastating melody and elements of noise, sound collage and avant-garde composition, Krellʼs debut album Love Remains offered a beautiful window into a startlingly realised artistic imagination. Praised for both its conceptual strength and immediate emotional resonance, Love Remains duly garnered vast critical acclaim and highlights such as “Ready For The World” saw Krell accredited with having given birth to a new, narcotized strain of R&B that has since spawned a host of imitators.
All the elements of Love Remains that enraptured are still present on Total Loss – the noisiness, the moodiness, the layers of swarming voices – but stand alongside other complex elements: the elegant weeping arcos and pizzicatos of neo-classical music, the rude drums of trap-rap, and the sweet, special and sentimental moments of Janet Jacksonʼs Velvet Rope are all swept up and embraced in the deep beauty of Total Loss. So the fractured hip-hop beats of “How Many?” sit alongside the cinematic strings of “World I Need You, Wonʼt Be Without You (Proem)”, and the deeply affecting “Talking To You” (in which Krell executes a duet, of sorts, with himself) precedes the transcendent sweep of “Set it Right”, before the glacial beauty of “Ocean Floor For Everything” brings everything to a quietly devastating close.
Krell states that Total Loss is “an opening-up”, describing it as an “album about sharing.” So, where Love Remains was an expression of intense and maybe isolating intimacy with pain, Total Loss is about the rare sharing that can go on between people that pierces through the undeniable, sometimes unshakable struggle and pain of life. As Krell himself says, “Iʼm trying to use this sharing to orient my life— call it true hope, or love.”

 

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