One SP – 12 Years in Scotland (This Is Not Pop)

Review of the new collection by French hip-hop emcee OneSP

French rapper extraordinaire MC OneSP recently released an impressively energetic collection of collaborative hip-hop tracks spanning his career in France and the UK over the past decade and beyond. 

Extracted from long-buried cassettes and mini discs, some thought lost, the album is a heady sonic trip through some incredible studio sessions, featuring some influential names for those familiar with the bustling late 90s Edinburgh hip-hop culture, and even the formative years of Big Dada. 

OneSP, with the help of boutique Glasgow label This Is Not Pop, compiles these hidden gems in the order he found them, minimally tampered with. The sure studio hand of Gareth Bury, aka Asthmatic Astronaut, is apparent in the presentation of the collection, which finds a home on his buzzing short-run imprint.

Through these productions, the listener can hear as OneSP discovers his particular creative zone, located in a sense of spontaneity and improvisation. This is hip-hop borne of street cyphers, freestyle sessions and late-night, smoked-out clashes. As the recordings progress, the stability of his identity as a rapper and poet emerges, revealing bags of charm, eccentricity and humour on each recording.

10338489_10151992315356370_4384996778491414084_o

His sharp intellect is contrasted with some very silly wordplay, which bursts energetically through in synchronization with his collaborators. A diverse MC, OneSP is a lyrical chameleon, adapting vocal styles to changing beat dynamics, swinging easily between hip-hop’s touchstones in jazz, funk and dub.  

This creative self-awareness reverberates throughout, and the whole album delivers slice after slice of unity, head-nodding beats and just sheer fun. Producers and vocalists who bring their own distinct styles to the table include collaborators such as ragga hip-hop legend Toastie Tailor of New Flesh, with whom OneSP collaborated before they became the first band to sign to Big Dada. 

Elsewhere, appearances from Edinburgh alt-hip-hop lumiaries like Mikel Krumins of Abdominal Showmen, and Lifeshows of Underling will cause gasps of recognition from those in the know. Sterling production from the likes of Ben Seal, Jatin Purin, DJ Red 6, Salam Anders and of course Asthmatic Astronaut keep things varied, and always enthralling. 

This impressive collection is a time travel adventure – a narrative snapshot of OneSP’s creative exploration, aesthetic and artistic interactions from a little-known but much-admired era of Edinburgh’s underground hip-hop culture to the present day. 

Within the gaps of these recordings, OneSP traces the steps of his journey from the south of France, where his peers often taunted him for being a mere poet, rather than a macho MC, to finding his creative identity here in Scotland, and building his very own family unit, both in his personal life, and in his creative circle of friends. 

Meant to be released in celebration of OneSP’s 12th anniversary as an adopted Scot, the fact we had to wait until 20 had passed only makes this compilation more of a delight. To the first-time listener, what difference does time make? These tracks still vibrate with the urgency of now, even when they call back to lost eras.    

Affiliated with music collective the Black Lantern Clan in the mid-2010s, OneSP threw down an in-depth interview earlier in the month with label founder Texture, on his newly-minted Scottish hip-hop radio show for Radio Kaos Caribou.

RR caught up with Texture to ask about the interview: “Interviewing onesp for the radio show reminded me just what a tremendous rapper he is.” On the evidence of these two decades, even that would be an understatement. 

a1758708070_10

Coming up: DJ Angelo – Babel EP (Connected)

Greek house don DJ Angelo is back with a new EP

Highly esteemed Greek producer DJ Angelo returns to display his prowess on Stereo MCs’ premium dance label Connected (a label we can’t get enough of here at Revel Rousers). This time his production finesse is poured into the luscious, varied Babel EP, which offers two entrancing afro-house cuts as emotionally rousing as they are exploratory, with deft use of synth, complex rhythms and delicate textures. 

Taking prominence on the Greek club scene, Angelo’s adoration for the art of DJing led him naturally into refining a stand-out production style. This translated into stature on the global stage, with high-profile gigs in Ibiza, New York and London, the go-to dance hot-spots of the world. Releases on respected house music imprints such as Tribe Records, Nulu and King Street cemented his reputation as a rising star.  

Inspired by luminaries like Black Coffee, Culoe De Song, Manoo and Atjazz, all champions of soul-stirring, Afro house, music runs through Angelo’s DNA. His innate flair for rendering the most impassioned dance floor fillers has become a staple in the record bags of the world’s elite house music DJs, providing a nourishing blend of groovy synth textures and propulsive tribal beats. This is house music that illuminates the human spirit, soulful and transcendent. Angelo’s mesmerizing and unforgettable releases are always highly anticipated, and the Babel EP proves no different. 

This spectacular release opens with title track Babel, a deep, cinematic masterpiece that offers squelchy acidic synths, rising percussion and a plaintive female vocal refrain that hangs in the air. Understated and mesmerising, this is another emotive winner from DJ Angelo. The second of the two cuts comes in faster, in the shape of the propulsive Radar, a more direct house music affair that journeys into darker musical territory with jagged synth rhythms and a brooding sense of tension.

3000x3000_DjAngelo_058

Babel EP out 17 July

Main image by Jos Kottman (Courtesy of DJ Angelo)

“I’m making dance music for dancers, not scientists.”

Founding member of The Prodigy Leeroy Thornhill on performance, production, and the power of Evolution

“Performing is the most powerful drug on earth.”

Leeroy Thornhill, founding member of The Prodigy, was along for the ride with one of the most phenomenal live juggernauts in recent memory. The Prodigy’s arena-stomping breakbeats and punk energy were a potent combination, and in the years since he left the band, Thornhill has lost none of his intensity as a performer.

From RR’s initial contact with Thornhill, it was entirely apparent just how passionate, dedicated and driven he is. For the past few years, a growing sense of creative freedom has emerged, as he has gained creative control over his musical output. With a new release primed and ready to go, with a dedicated fanbase eagerly awaiting its drop, this is a hugely important, transformative point in his 30-year musical career. 

Thornhill’s experiences in The Prodigy were invaluable, and the knowledge he harvested, from performance-making on a grand scale, to studio techniques, has filtered through into his new project. These shared, pivotal experiences began in the early 90s, the peak lasting a period of 10 years. The original rave titans, The Prodigy were one of the most powerful driving forces behind bringing dance music to worldwide audiences. 

THEPRODIGY_GettyImages-85341362
Leeroy (centre, in the top hat) and friends in their Prodigy days

Starting out in the warehouse raves of the hardcore era, they became unlikeloy chart-topping superstars, before evolving into million-selling, arena-filling touring artists. As the band evolved, so did the roles of its original members, with Leeroy, Maxim and Keith Flint all delivering a different tone, style and vibe in the live performances and recordings. 

Those intoxicating days roused a monumental appreciation among fans for Thornhill’s energetic front man abilities. He is and remains an astonishing physical performer, revered as one of the most talented and original shuffle dancers in the UK rave scene. 

Naturally, through time Leeroy’s creative journey diverted and branched out into many different directions, as he cultivated the skills of self-production and collaboration. He still has a love of DJing, performing sets with real finesse. His latest project follows a nine-year stint as the owner of the boutique label Electric Tastebuds, and finds him living and working in the throbbing cultural marketplace of Berlin. 

Evidently, Thornhill strives to continually push himself, both technically and sonically. He has moved on from his Prodigy-era influences in key ways, creating his own distinctive sound. Evolve, his new album, sees him constructing a magnificent celebration of his most elemental musical influences, genre-blended in a very exciting, fresh and unique way. Rhythm, human error, velocity, breath, touch, hooks. These are the weapons he armours himself with an uplifting album of emotion, hard energy, and adventurous sonic explorations.

Artistically, Thornhill has never been more empowered. Revel had the out-and-out honour of firing across a set of questions, looking for some key insights into his evolution and current artistic vision, his new concept album Evolve, and his thoughts on the music industry.

How long have you been living in Germany, and what aspects of Berlin life have inspired your creative thinking?
I’ve lived in Berlin for two years. I think Germany in general has a more get-up-and-go attitude than the UK. Music and art are treated like any other business. So people with talent who want to try and make a living from it get real support. I don’t know how it inspired my creative thinking. Maybe I’ll work that out once I leave! 

We were big fans of Electric Tastebuds. Would you ever consider starting up another label?
No thanks! I have a lot of respect for people who do it. But it’s a lot of hard work. If you are an artist you can end up getting distracted from creating, that’s what I want to focus on. 

Your creative evolution in electronic music has taken place decades. How has this longevity informed the way you approached Evolve?
I think it’s the same as most things, [you] practice, keep learning from progress and mistakes. When you DJ it can be easy to get caught in the trap of only making the style of music you play. I still write tracks to DJ with, but I have given up trying to stick to a tempo or style to keep other people happy. That’s quite a freeing feeling. A good tune is a good tune.

What was the concept behind Evolve?
I wanted to write an album that had many different vibes, blended together. Tracks that are short, keep your interest, and hopefully leave you wanting more, with different emotions and dynamics. I’ve kept the whole thing to one track although there are twenty on there. That’s how I feel people should listen to it. So, sorry people if you have to do a bit of scrolling back and forth. It’s a journey inspired by my musical influences. 

Leeroy_Paul_Thornhill (1)

Your technical creative growth shines through on the new album, is it a new direction for you?
I first had the idea 15 years ago, and wrote an hour-long version. It sat on my computer, I played it last year and wanted to repeat the idea, now my production has improved. I think this is the way forward for me in regards to albums.

The energy and drive of the Crazy EP, your first release back in April 2020, was a big achievement. How did you feel about it? 
Crazy was my first release after coming off of Get Hype Records. I’m into harder energy music, and different styles and tempos so I wanted to put out something that reflects that, and only put one DJ track on there, [called] Run Da Game. 

I’m so into sampling right now, and look for different influences from different cultures and genres. I think a lot of the new electronic music has no soul. [Producers] are too concerned with how good their snare sounds. 

If a thousand people are in a club, not many of them are thinking, ‘I love the EQ on that snare…’ It’s just, ‘Does this track make me rock?’ Every club has a different sound, [I am] making dance music for dancers, not scientists. 

Any remixes or collaborations planned in your near future?
I like remixing, but I’m really happy at the moment doing my own thing.

From observing your style, through the mediums of dance, music production and DJing over the years, we get the impression of a rhythmic, melodic, lyrically-orientated performer. You have a lot of skills to draw upon, so which characteristics and modes of expression are you particularly drawn to these days?
I’m more concerned with how my music makes you feel or react than how good it sounds. I want people to remember a tune when they hear it. Right now this is where my head is at. I need freedom to put music out when it’s ready, it’s hard to keep sitting on finished music and wait three or four months for it to be released. You then write more new music you’re buzzing with, and never know what you’re going to do with it. It can end up being a negative energy when creating. 

I’m sick of trying to keep up with all the platforms. Come claim your name on our page, do all the hard work of making it look good, do all the promotion share on your other pages, pay a distributor, take a bag of peanuts for the  six months of work you put into your album. We will keep the rest.

You are very interactive and open towards your fanbase, often giving them free downloads of DJ mixes and fresh beats via Bandcamp. Is your independence something you want to protect, or would you work with labels again?
There are still genuine labels and companies that help artists, but like the rest of the world it’s all about what people can take from you. It’s a really hard business, but right now I can see every response, every play I get in one place. I sell my music cheaper than it sells on the big sites, I get more money to reinvest in my business, not someone else’s. Yes, I will lose pennies from streaming, and I won’t reach as many people, but I’m happy with that. The buzz I get when I get one new follower is worth it. 

People are coming to my Bandcamp page for my music, not to see what I had for dinner. Everyone has their own needs and direction they want to take, there are so many options. But I want to put my time into me, not big companies. Small and cool.

You must have an incredible record collection.
I sold a lot of my vinyl a few years ago but couldn’t part with a lot of the old school rave music. However, I have boxes of tapes and CDs in storage, I don’t even know what half of it is. Another job that needs doing!

How do you feel about the re-emergence of independent cassette-tape labels? 
Who has a tape player?! I love every format, life’s about choice. If I can build my audience, and the demand is there, I will try to cover as many as I can. But again, I’ve been down that road and still have boxes of CDs and vinyl and in storage somewhere… It comes back to a young generation who have not had to buy music, just grab it online. Will they be able to justify spending the same money as three beers on a physical product? 

In general, fans of this generation inject their money into experiences, buying tickets to shows. The music can sit for free to draw listeners in, but once the attachment of experience occurs, there is no doubt the listener will want to buy the music and various types of merchandise to relive the memories. 

Covid 19 has meant the absence of raves and clubs and other communal experiences. How have you been coping, and do you have any advice for the rest of us, hiding in our bunkers? Any positive changes that you see happening as a result of the lockdown?
It’s been a nightmare for everyone no matter what you do. My whole philosophy is no matter what’s thrown at you, get on with it. I think the world needs a break. I hope millions of people access their life and realize what they don’t need, instead of worrying about what they want. 

Once Evolve is in the wild, what’s next for you?
Expect more music soon from me, for the rest of the year, and hopefully some banging DJ gigs.

 

a4082114696_10

Beat scene business: PATA issues his Manifesta

The slick bunch over at Skoop records arguably have the most original producers and rappers in Scotland on their roster, with the likes of Tzusan, CRPNTR and most recently to the fold, PATA, an off-kilter electronic producer originally from Sao Paulo, Brazil who currently resides in Glasgow. Skoop is resolutely a label that is set for the world stage, with an abundance to offer in stimulating, fresh club sounds.

PATA’s compact debut album Manifesta is a distinctive seven-track medley of thrumming bass, rolling tribal rhythms and intricate synth-work. The remix by Glaswegian producer/DJ Kami-O explores a different groove, leaning more towards sub-heavy bass music.

PATA’s unique sound gravitates towards territory explored by LA Beat Scene luminaries like FlyLo, an earthy, grassroots sound that isn’t afraid to get adventurous. With elements of IDM, hip-hop, R&B, and jazz, PATA’s upfront rhythms have a strong, earthy base and healthy roots.

Manifesta as an album flows with immense fluidity. The disparate influences are all woven together into a shimmering tapestry of dub, future bass and Chicago footwork influences. Gripping, burly basslines rub against angular, rolling synth lines.

PATA’S production feels exceptionally fresh and exciting. He leads the listener into exhilarating percussive abstraction, always ready with an earworm synth hook. There is a uniquely tribal sound to his sampling, too, which marks him out even from his talented Skoop peers.

Revelrousers caught up with PATA and asked him to draw us some insights into the making of Manifesta. We began by asking him about the name.

“PATA is paw in both Portuguese and Spanish,” he says. “It came basically from me having started producing when a longboard crash resulting in surgery fucked my hand. I couldn’t play guitar well anymore. That is when I started producing with o’skanz. So, an alias idea I always had was Brokenpaw aka Patakebrada; which became PATA.”

His first long release as PATA, the album was two years in the making. “It pulls together a range of styles that my sound has sort of settled into, and hopefully showcases the influences that inspired me, as well as representing a local slice of the UK electronic music scene,” he says.

“I’m inspired by a range of producers, primarily from the US (particularly Los Angeles), the UK, and my homeland of Brazil,” he continues, citing a long list of eclectic influences. “From the US, the likes of Mr Carmack, Kenny Segal, TSURUDA – basically guys that created what became unhelpfully termed the LA Beat Scene back in 2011. These guys really helped evolve the fusion of lo-fi and hip-hop melodic sensibilities with rock-solid trap rhythms, and still go hard today.”

Like many of the Skoop clan, his roots in bass music still exert a strong pull. “The UK dubstep scene is also a major home for me, having been my introduction into Soundsystem culture. The likes of Mala, Commodo and Clams Casino taught me a lot about sub bass and atmosphere.”

Is he a perfectionist, or does he like to create fast and loose? It’s “a mixed bag,” he says. “Sometimes a track comes together really quickly and effortlessly if you’re in the right headspace. Sometimes it takes weeks of tweaking and scrapping and re-working.”

Of the album tracks, “Veiled and T.I.N.K.A.M came together within a couple of weeks, whereas Market Riddim was constantly tweaked and changed for over a year before I was happy with it.”

Remix duties go to Skoop regular Kami-O, and PATA was thrilled to have him aboard. “It’s an honour! The guy’s one of the fiercest dubstep producers in Scotland right now and he’s getting the recognition he deserves; he’s been putting out banger after banger as well as guest mixes for a while now. I have a lot of respect for his sound, and he’s a legend to boot.”

The two were introduced by Skoop clan’s lyrical sniper Tzusan: “Really glad he made the connection,” says PATA. He sees Kami-O as a future collaborator: “You can be sure we’re working together again in the future. I gave him free reign to pick any track and I’d send over the stems, and I rate what he did to Market Riddim. His cut is much sludgier and the synth in the last drop is flames.”

Who else would he like to collaborate with? “I would love to do some work with the frankly ridiculous amount of vocal talent in the Scottish hip hop scene at the moment, many of whom also have releases under Skoop, so the connection exists already and is what I’d like to work towards next. I’d also like to work on a UK Baile-inspired release with Dearly Beloved, whose knowledge and love for baile funk outshines mine (and plenty of my countrymen too).”

PATA feels he has found a home at Skoop, a label that vibes with his aesthetic and approach. “I’m absolutely gassed to be putting out my first proper release in such good company, for sure. The Scottish scene has so much to give right now and this group of artists is primed to fly the flag for our beat scene.”

Soundsystem certified music, ice cream for the ears. Take a big Skoop.

PATA-ART-danny2

Reactive Writers: Pete Hope & Henri Sizaret are… NOT NOW

Industrial techno maverick Pete Hope, the pioneer behind Sheffield’s legendary 1980s electronic explorers The Box, abolishes the boundaries once again with this fervent manifestation of his talents, connecting his artistic machinations with those of French avant-garde electronic precisionist Henri Sizaret, who goes by the moniker AkA Muzik

 

Hope’s forthcoming release on cassette-tape only label The Tapeworm pushes the industrial techno envelope into uncharted territories, while Sizaret pushes ahead into new formations of sonic improvisation.

Despite residing in separate geographical latitudes and longitudes, with Sizaret located in Portugal and Hope residing in New Zealand. Even though they are not in the same spot, they most certainly are in the same place creatively; connected by audio waves, delivered up in simple, raw stems that create a wall of sound. Their collaboration is cosmic, with melodies that transcend space and time. This is music as revelation – cerebral liberation and illumination in a snap.

Emotionally, this is an uncompromising project. Hope and Sizaret aim to activate the release of dopamine and hormones in our bodies, chemicals that trigger pleasure, pain, happiness and sadness. As listeners, we can choose to move on or dig into these feelings. There is no right or wrong. 

Here at Revel, we caught up with the leftfield demigod himself, Pete Hope, to find out in detail about his highly distinctive creative approach. What drove his interaction with Sizaret, and the avenues they took while experimenting with Hope’s individualistic vocal improvisation?

“Henri started the ball rolling with the first three tracks he sent me,” Hope explains. “[He said] they were pretty much improvised and thought I should approach them in the same way.” This provided a thrilling foundation for Pete to work from, inspiring him with the sheer throbbing life of the early tracks Henri sent over. This is apparent in their final form, with their visceral rawness delivering a sense of unpredictability which can unexpectedly ravage the senses.

Asked him about Henri’s approach, and the rawness of the project, Hope responds: ”When I sent the tracks back to him, I insisted that he didn’t do any unnecessary work beyond what had been created, which he was happy to take on board.” 

This stripped approach was new for Sizaret, but proved an inspiring method to work in: “Very little was either added or changed once the vocals had been laid down. So, yes, it’s raw… The project certainly took on a wholly different kind of approach than Henri, who is very clean and precise.”

Formulating words can be a task beset with trial, error and revision, but Hope’s method of approach is laser-focused on producing a sense of immediacy; in harnessing the evanescent and immediate spark of inspiration we attain through sight, sound and touch. 

“I did some reactive writings for the NOT NOW tracks,” he explains, “rather than try and write out the lyrics, which were all spontaneously improvised, along with the vocals.” This creative approach breaks Hope free from being trapped in any sophisticated or complex calculations, or endless iterations that eventually blur any sense of impulsiveness. His method is instant, always in flux, and as a result, never stale.  

“I made a point of not actually listening to the whole of any track before I started recording, only taking in just enough to get a sense of pitch, pace and mood; find enough words to use as a jump off point, and then go for gold,” he says, clearly showing enthusiasm for this breakneck method of music-making. “One take, all the way through,” he says, and this could encapsulate his distinctive approach. 

For Pete, this impromptu method of creation provides the pressure and tension needed to authentically push his own creative boundaries, and tap into the rawness of feeling. His unique interpretation of the core root of the electronic compositions is something sensed, explored, not planned. “Mostly it worked!” he laughs, making light of the considerable efforts he has undertaken to keep his work fresh and vital. “Nothing like a bit of pressure to get the old grey jelly quivering!”

Music, after all, is emotive and transformative. It flourishes through an intuitive sense of feeling, in an attempt to encapsulate authentic expression. Hope also developed another technique to enhance his intuitive writing: “I decided to play the finished tracks, one after the other, no pause, and do a written piece for each track that was triggered by the sound of whichever piece was playing,” he explains. 

This was a way of re-exploring the sonic maps of the original recordings without tainting their purity with revisions, while “putting the pressure on to write six separate pieces in real time,” as Hope describes it. These six stream-of-consciousness pieces will be released alongside the digital and physical editions of the music in the near future.

Hope and Sizaret’s highly instinctive collaboration redefines the boundaries of industrial techno, delivering an immediate wealth of human sensation. The wild, unkempt beauty of these tracks has an immediacy, like an unconscious reaction, or a dream that fades away with the first light of dawn. If you wake up wet, you’ll know why…

103978457_3123008307786631_5992581568243288567_n

 

“Peak absurdity…” Lazarusman shows us his bass face

Lazarusman has been thriving lately, now he returns for his fourth release on the Stereo MCs  Connected label with the Iba Mubi EP. A collaboration with South African DJ/Producer DJ Qness, the EP is a beautifully hypnotic suite of dancefloor debauchery. 

Johannesburg-based Lazarusman has flourished over the past decade with his distinct slam poetry and spoken word performances, a discipline that eventually led him into the intoxicating world of electronic dance music. His core belief is that the vocals in dance music should transcend, reaching further than simply enhancing the music, or adding a human effect. 

Lazarusman believes there is no reason that electronic music vocals shouldn’t leave a lasting impression, impart knowledge, and transfer a global message that everybody can relate to. Often featured as a guest vocalist on releases with the likes of Booka Shade, Joris Voorn, Coyu, Stimming, Hyenah and many more, he has made the Connected label a regular home with a string of releases that continue to push boundaries, most recently with the single The Thing with (Da Mike). An artist who delivers some of his finest work in collaboration, he seems to find his peak when reflecting and showcasing the talents of a unique producer or musician. 

Now he’s back, this time pairing up with fellow South African talent DJ Qness, a veteran of South Africa’s house scene who has released on the likes of MoBlack, Offering Recordings and Exploited Rec

The original mix offers spellbinding vocals and melodic, hazy percussive elements alongside a penetrating, percussive club mix that will have you grooving to the break of dawn. Iba Mubi is about that moment a record takes hold and contorts the face of the listener, as Lazarusman says:

“There is a strange phenomenon that happens when you hear a good song. You cringe your face as if you are experiencing some form of discomfort. This strange occurrence is the greatest compliment you can give a song, a DJ or a performer. When your body and your facial expressions reach peak absurdity. This song is about that moment when the bass grips you and your face cringes and you become ugly, Iba Mubi.”

Release Date: July 3rd over on Connected

Dj Laz

“I’m obsessed with music…” Scottish producer Hypnokid finds his own wave.

Scottish, musician/producer Duncan Black aka Hypnokid initiated his creative journey back in 2007, directing his inventiveness into the creation of hip-hop beats after pouring his creative juices into singer/song-writing and guitar playing for a while. 

After a series of live performances with his guitar, he began to realise that he wasn’t feeling comfortable on stage and took time out to figure how to tap into his authentic expression, and channel his creative flow.

Through a natural process of self-awareness and acknowledgement, he found the power and creative fluidity he had been seeking through electronic music, and threw himself into the myriad sub-genres of electronica, extracting influences from strains of witch-house, trap, grime and liquid drum & bass. 

He found himself focusing his craftsmanship within the interconnected, evolving sound of wave music, popularised by labels like wavemob. For the uninitiated, wave sits in the overlap of the venn diagram of pretty much all of our electronic and hip hop collections and playlists, taking aesthetic cues from dubstep, ambient, hip-hop, trap, rave, and more, yet it’s something distinct and special.

We spoke briefly with Hypnokid about what music means to him, and his musical inspirations. 

“I’m obsessed with music. The cathartic nature of it has helped me massively in my life,” Black told Revel Rousers. His instinct is to try any musical form he encounters, as a production challenge: “If I hear something new that I love, I’ll most likely attempt to create something myself.”

That journey has taken him closer and closer to the complex hybrid aesthetic of wave, he explains. “I’ve been leaning more towards the wave side of things which contains elements of dubstep, jungle, house, techno and hip-hop. The wave artists that I look up to are Skeler, Kareful, Deadcrow and enjoii.”

Hip-hop and rap remain touchstones: “In terms of hip-hop my main influence is J Dilla and I’ve always been a big Bonobo fan… Simon Green has influenced my sound in terms of liquid drum & bass, but overall my main influence is a northern Irish D&B producer/DJ, Dominick Martin aka Calibre.” 

The hauntological approach of Burial and other Hyperdub artists runs through the veins of Duncan’s production work, with his echoing keys and sampled provoking a strong sense of dusty, dystopian nostalgia through contorted samples and spacey, dream-like instrumental elements. Great swathes of emotion and melody are enfolded in a claustrophobic tension between past and future, like an echo of an imagined retrofuturism. Hypnokid’s music inhabits the spectral present, haunted by dreams of a broken future.

His most recent ten-track liquid d&b album Hear Your Voice was released 30 May. The tracks explore an elegant array of jazzy, groove laden themes, that are equal parts beautiful, graceful and emotive. Hypnokid incorporates some of the more chill wave elements from his other productions to impressive effect, augmenting the mix with live harp-string instrumentation laid down by friend and creative collaborator Anise Pearson.

It’s evident through Hypnokid’s most recent album and EP releases that he has been finding his way to creative distinction, acquiring increased nuance and complexity in his production style with each release. It is an approach uniquely suited to wave music, which continues to evolve as a genre.

Also last month, he released the evocative EP In My Mind, which presented elements of trap and witch house, bringing back a welcome echo of that genre’s chopped and screwed hip-hop soundscapes.

Hypnokid is a young producer just beginning to flourish in ways his early career could not perhaps have predicted, but that early musicality and sense of melody serves him well as he explores the realms of sub bass and epic drops. His progress has been increasingly interesting to watch. Keep an ear out for his forthcoming releases and collaborations, and prepare to be hypnotised.  

Coming up: Clarity – Clarity/Overlook EP (UVB-76)

At the forefront of the progression of drum and bass, Owen Hemming-Brown aka Clarity is set to release his first solo 12” EP Clarity/Overlook, 12th of June on Bristol-based Ruffhouse and Gremlinz’ cutting-edge underground sonic art label UVB-76.

There has been much anticipation within the drum and bass community growing for this core release. Clarity has built his reputation from the tender age of 14 as being one of the most skilled and inventive producers. He is a craftsman, creating a refined, stripped-back, minimalistic approach that offers-up unique groove and texture, informed by the structural potency of techno.

One of the two A sides is an imaginative remix of All Of Them Witches, a bona-fide modern classic from labelmate Overlook aka Jason Luxton, an artist who consistently executes cinematic elements to all his productions.

In this nifty reimagining, Clarity creates a dynamic and intricate rework, attenuating the bass weight of the original to a powerful, rumbling undercurrent. This accentuates the high-hats and snares to provide an atmospheric, surreal, dream-like element to a concise, compact, groove-laden remix.

On the flip, Torsion builds anticipation, a sublime opener with haunting synth undercurrents which swirl and resurface throughout.

A hard kick drum hypnotically allures and transfixes, as the monstrous core components loom and grow to eventually dominate all the intricate elements within the track. This is a deep roller with menace, tension and depth. Clarity’s approach is methodical, high precision, and utterly contemporary.

Stateless is a solid stomper that drives forward with infectious groove elements and  a distinctive atmosphere. Clarity’s creative vision has nuance, and a mind’s-eye visual expression that comes to life sonically through his pure and refined style. This one is destined to set any dance floor on fire, while simultaneously stimulating the brain. 

Taking Effect has the revel-rousing quality we love, with an undeniable, deep and purposeful groove which will prove irresistible to clubbers, movers and shakers.

In fine style, Clarity has interwoven his poise, precision and expressionistic sonic vision into these tracks, showing himself to be a true individualist within contemporary breakbeat form.   

DIY metal king Serotonin stares into the Masonic Abyss

Earlier in April, Masonic Abyss, the alias of versatile theatrical artist and musician Serotonin, released an album titled Music For The Void. The superbly executed ten-track, Gothic Industrial Metal solo project has a raw and uncompromising DIY aesthetic, and deserves to find admirers among the fans of Marilyn Manson, Rammstein or Ministry.

Music For The Void continues the journey begun by Serotonin after leaving behind the classic Masonic Abyss 4-piece, and leaning in to all-encompassing creative control. Taking charge of laying down all aspects of the writing and recording process allows him to channel exactly the atmosphere he wants, developing a rich and textured portrait of his alter-ego

Formed in 2008, Masonic Abyss has been through various former members – the playlist above showcases some of their earlier work. From 2011 onwards, Serotonin has taken the reigns, providing lead vocals, lyrics, guitar and bass, keyboards and drums, and the entire process of mixing and mastering.

maysonic-abyss-knife-image-1

“My alter-ego character Serotonin is a personal demon…” – Serotonin

This is a total contrast with his work as lead vocalist in Volcano X, a powerhouse heavy metal outfit formed in 2013 strongly influenced by NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal) bands.

Revel Rousers caught up with Serotonin to find out more about his alter-ego,  the shift from band to solo project, and what the character means to him.

“My alter-ego character Serotonin is a personal demon. He confronts everything on one hand, and is an outspoken in-your-face political activist on the other. The character is extreme in every fashion and sees things in black and white. It mirrors my shy and reserved real life character.”

Does he feel that those aspects of the stage character already live inside him? Or does he have the power to channel those qualities through this alt-character? “Performing brings about a different confidence in me I don’t usually have, so I guess those aspects of character are being eked out through the mask of Serotonin. I feel really at home when on a stage, or creating something behind in front of a camera.”

Masonic Abyss artwork

This album is rousing, with anthemic qualities. Within these well-produced tracks there is a mass of creative energy that unfllinchingly takes the pulse of today’s paranoiac, troubled situation, opening with Pandemic, a booming electronic industrial track. The album opens up into a mass of rousing, riotous songs, all with an uncompromising political edge.

Serotonin might be angry, but he never succumbs to nihilism. There is an empowering quality in his music and lyrics which asks the listener to rise up, be counted and fight. These tracks have gestated over several years, only to emerge at just the right cultural moment.

The atmosphere and tone of the album is showcased with visual flair in the official music video for Sick Sick, where Serotonin takes control of the filmmaking to produce something equally mysterious and terrifying. 

Music For The Void offers engrossing, truth seeking lyrics, agit-prop vocals over militant beats, guitar groove and interwoven electronics. Monstrously energetic and hugely atmospheric, Serotonin draws on influences like Machine Head, Gary Numan, Marilyn Manson, and even Rob Zombie’s grand guignol horror aesthetic. This is truly an outstanding DIY project that oozes creative passion and packs a big punch!

Coming up: Re.You – Maison (Connected)

Following three excellent EPs on Connected, the exceptional label run by 90s indie-rap legends Stereo MCs, producer and DJ Marius Maier aka Re.You strides progressively forward with his deeply dynamic, resolute full-length debut album ‘Maison’ dropping later this May.

The French title is inspired by the city of Paris. Most of the new album was written in the French capital, where Marius resided for a period of six months. “It was a truly inspiring place and time, so I thought I would give the album a French name. ‘Maison‘ means home. That’s what I feel, now I’m back in my German hometown Ulm, after 10 years of Berlin and a short stay in Paris.” 

Maier’s career stretches back to the early 2010s, with notable early releases on Moon Harbour, Kompakt and his own Younion label. The well-travelled producer also feels settled at the label where he has built his growing reputation: “I feel now is a good time to release my debut album on Connected, a platform on which I always felt at home,” he says.  

It was a truly inspiring place and time…
– Marius Maier aka Re.You

The album builds on his three EPs, enlisting guests such as label bosses Stereo MCs, plus, long standing Connected contributors Florian Busse & Ahmad, singer song-writer, Elli, and Afro-house duo Oluhle & Aaaron.

‘Maison’ is a slick and professional full-length debut, where Re.You continues to demonstrate his boldly innovative house music confections through a nuanced instrumental approach, with a distinctive production style. 

digital front maison 2

This purposeful and determined set of tracks pulsate with energy. The flair in Re.You’s production originates in a diverse set of influences, from afro-tinged trance, deep tech-groove, and emotionally-stirring trap-style house. This heady blend stimulates and enriches the essence of the album, marking it out from the mainstream.

Tracks such as ‘If You’ featuring the vocal talents of Elli deliver a no-nonsense, methodical, ‘get to work’ house belter, that gradually elevates from dancefloor burner into bright, hooky synth textures that gush towards the velvety vocal tones. 

Elli’s vocal draws together those tech-groove elements, whereas ‘Inyani’ featuring Oluhle & Aaaron catches you in a trance with tribal patterns, vocal chants, and suspenseful, spiritual chords. Re.You and his guests cast an alluring spell. 

‘Maison’ is an adventurous culmination of many years of artistic endeavour that brings plenty of fresh and exciting new perspectives to house music.

Preview by Miff Morris. Images courtesy of Connected.