The last couple of years have seen producers round the world blurring the lines between hip hop, jazz, house and beats (whatever that means) and flinging out joyous, mind-bending new music like Gods chucking stars across the sky. This column trawls the internet to try and make sense of it all. Here is the Latest News from Neptune.
Principe Records – DJ Nervoso & Niagara
More Lisbon butter from the ever trail blazing Principe. Niagara use their EP to push further from any recognisable house template out into jazzy syncopation – it’ll be interesting to see how far and wild they can take this new direction. But for me the real killers come from Nervoso; he’s one of the most underrated DJs on the planet, and these 5 grooves tell you everything you need to know. There’s hardly anything to them- just sets of Fruity Loops drum patterns marching on and on in with zero fucking about. He’s barely bothered to process his hits, there’s a minimum happening at any point, and somehow the result is hard, knocking dance music that could wake the dead. If you’re getting sick of fussy production and tracks built from tricks more than ideas, Nervoso is the antidote.
Kxngs – Earth Signal
Kxngs is a Brixton producer doing a good job of taking global influences and given them a London spin. I’d be hard pushed to name all the places he’s is cribbing from, but there’s a whole load of Kuduro and Afrobeat samples flying all over the gaff. This sort of project can easily degenerate into a mess of dubious appropriation and worthy ‘tropical’ rave bullshit but Kxngs sidesteps this by actually engaging with the material he’s sampling from. Rather than bunging an ‘exotic’ sample over an intro then mindlessly dropping into whatever the current bass genre is (I feel like Americans are probably the biggest offenders for this sort of nonsense), Kxngs is brings melodic sensibility, and grimy hardness evident in the depth of his production and with his well-chosen percussion; basically it all slaps without resorting to cheap build and drop tricks. This is the debut release on Ex Local, and it’s boding well for the future.
Scratcha DVA – NOTU_URONLINEU
It would be some kind of mistake to claim that this album of intense inner city instrumentals from Scratcha is electronica rather than grime. It is, in fact the logical progression of grime – a genre that was (at its early 00s peak at least) as obsessed with producing entirely new sound palettes as it was with rewind bars. There’s little here that’s going to get pulled up in any but the most leftfield of raves, but plenty to enjoy over the headphones. The most cohesive track is ALMOSTU, a fractured RnB ballad that sounds like the love song of a lonely algorithm. Elsewhere DREAMFLIX is an update of 80s synth soundtrack, like John Carpenter soundtracking an alien invasion of Bow. The majority of the rest of the record is formed from space, bleeps, drum skitter and skunk haze. The sound design is exemplary, the mood is spacious and paranoid. Scratcha continues his career ploughing his own weird furrow through grime, out now on Hyperdub and well worth giving a look.
Jammz – Warrior EP
For a more ‘straight’ shot of grime, Jammz has got you; 5 vocal cuts, largely self-produced, and full of hard bars. This is probably the first grime project to have name checked Homebase, which is testament to Jammz ability to place his lyrics in the everyday. On It’s A London Thing he flips the Scott Garcia garage classic into a horn driven agger, whilst dropping reload lyrics on rising rent, drugs in the ends, and an uncaring government. He’s swiftly becoming the best argument you’ve got that grime is some sort of protest music – the EP drops at the start of November, and if you want it on vinyl I’d highly recommend you get your pre-orders in now; the way that limited grime 12”s are shifting at the moment it’s very likely that this will have sold out within a month (or perhaps shorter) of dropping.
Jeremiah Meece – Vocal EP 1
There are 6 tracks of excellent, oddball RnB on this EP from Meece. Unlike most of the stuff that gets lumped with the horrible Future RnB tag, Meece doesn’t bother getting fussy with over-producing his sound. Instead there’s a lo-fi looseness to his tracks; they sound spontaneously confessional; you get the feeling that he’s in the moment too much to start taming the occasional stray sample level, particularly in standout cut Falling Down. Later on, on Simulacrum he descends into the truly strange, dropping drones, Eastern melodies and watery samples before flipping up into sprawling psyche pop track about being a simulacrum. It’s enough to suggest Meece has got a lot more to offer – definitely one to keep an eye on.