The label compilation can be a very big deal in marking out the story of a serious imprint. Since its inception in 2009, there’s no doubt that Boddika has been steering his treasured Nonplus stable with a razor-sharp instinct that has seen it become one of the defining outposts of the dubstep fallout. Rasping electro has sat next to deluded deep house, half-step drum & bass alongside decaying techno, rumbling 140isms against churning 110 bpm grooves.
The Boddika-helmed Nonplus have just announced details of their first label compilation, featuring new and exclusive tracks from the likes of Joy Orbison, Four Tet, Kassem Mosse, Pearson Sound and Martyn.
The first round of names have been announced for next year’s Field Day festival in Victoria Park, East London, with Animal Collective (pictured above), Four Tet, Daphni, Karenn and the Hessle Audio crew all confirmed to appear.
First things first: being comprised of tracks that have been released across six 12” singles spanning back to March 2011, can we consider Pink a proper Four Tet album? In all fairness, even the most ardent of Four Tet fans would have to admit that as interesting a producer as he has the ability to be, his albums have had the tendency to feel at times like a collection of ideas rather than a coherent statement – 2010’s There Is Love In You perhaps being a case in point, striking a middle ground between the sample based electronica of his early years and a desire to strike out into clubbier territory with tracks like “Love Cry” and “Sing”.
Anthony Naples is the man behind one of this year’s most insouciant debut records. Mad Disrespect, the first drop on Justin Carter and Eamon Harkin’s Mister Saturday Night imprint, combined snappy percussion indebted to the heyday of New York garage, woozy synths reminiscent of classic Detroit house and an underlying contemporary edge that hinted at the influence of British bass music. There was a whiff of intrigue and mystery behind the release – who was this Naples character, after all? – thanks to the raw yet incredibly accomplished sounds on display throughout the EP’s three tracks.
The release, it turns out, came about in the most organic way possible. Naples is a regular at the Mister Saturday Night parties hosted by Harkin and Carter, and handed in a demo CD which was then picked up for the party-cum-label’s first release in May. Since then his star has been on the rise – Four Tet is a confirmed admirer and has already tapped up the producer to remix his track “128 Harps” – while labels from both sides of the Atlantic have been circling in an attempt to secure his next release. Our New York based writer Nik Mercer went to visit Naples in Brooklyn to discuss everything from Skrillex to remixing, pushy record dealers and his plans for the future.
Smalltown Supersound are seemingly in the midst of a vintage year, treating our ears to material from the likes of Lindstrom, Idjut Boys and Todd Terje and now preparing to unleash one of the more interesting propositions in Neneh Cherry & The Thing.
The Cherry Thing, the debut album between the iconic singer and the jazz troupe arrives next month sporting a series of cover versions from artists as varied as MF Doom, The Stooges,Martina Topley Bird and the singer’s late step father Don. Another one of the album’s tracks, Suicide’s “Dream Baby Dream” has been given the re-rub treatment from Four Tet in quite excellent fashion. Stretching the originals proceedings out slightly to nearly nine minutes long, a sense of restraint is surreptitiously shown throughout until a glorious procession of percussion rains down on the final few moments unannounced.
You may have heard the hushed radio tones of Gilles Peterson delicately premiering some new Four Tet material over the course of the Bank Holiday in the shape of “Ocaras”, and now you can hear the track that complements it.
Despite his residency at London’s Plastic People, his championing of the current crop of young UK bass artists, and an obvious love for good dance music of all types, Four Tet (aka Kieran Hebden) isn’t really known for being a DJ. It’s probably fair to say that general conception of Four Tet’s sound stems from his Rounds era productions, but his career trajectory over the last few years has seen has material become gradually more dancefloor friendly, and anyone who has had the fortune to see him DJ will know that he just gets it. His Fabriclive mix is arguably up there with the most interesting in the series, and it’s clearly a statement of artistic intent from Hebden in the way that previous mixes certainly haven’t been.
The mix takes a strongly conceptual approach; moving between Fabric’s “rooms”, each half of the mix is joined by field recordings of the club itself. However, the mix’s joy lies not in its approach, but the sheer quality of the tracklisting. Anyone who has seen Hebden DJ will probably know that he has a love for UK garage, (that he has been known to unironically play the Shanks & Bigfoot hit “Sweet Like Chocolate” at Plastic People is proof of this) and garage makes up the majority of the mix. But there’s no dayglo chart hits here: instead the first half of the mix is devoted to dusty underground UK garage tunes lost in a pre-YouTube black hole.
There’s no real lead in as such, aside from the electro-acoustic tones of Michel Redolfi’s “Immersion Partielle”, and the mix begins in earnest with garage, and Crazy Bald Heads’ “First Born”. Surprisingly for a man whose productions are so steeped in melody, the first half is monochrome; even the inclusions from contemporaries Floating Points and Caribou, usually known for their own colourful excesses, are distinctly bass driven. In this sense the mix owes as much to techno as it does garage; the basslines are kept simple, beats are often clipped and glitchy, especially on KH’s “101112” and Genius’s “Waiting”, and offers a fascinating insight into the obvious influence of techno in early garage music.
The second half of the mix sees techno come to the fore, with selections from WK7, C++ and Ricardo Villalobos keeping things distinctly straighter. But the centrepiece to this section is undoubtedly Hebden’s own “Pyramid”, a straight up techno track which is possibly one of his most balanced productions to date. It also functions as a microcosm of the mix as a whole; being primarily steeped in murky bass tones, it mangles and clips its vocals in a similar fashion to the rest of the mix, whilst offering only a hint of melody – it’s undeniably one of the mix’s most exhilarating moments, and its scale perhaps conveys better than anything else on the mix the feeling of being in Fabric’s room one. Finishing with another Hebden original, “Locked”, it offers a particularly effective end to the mix; its melancholy, sun-drenched tones capturing the moment of stepping out into the unexpected light of a Farringdon dawn.
This mix has come at just the right time – the revival and re-appraisal of older UK garage sounds among younger producers has never been so popular, but its dark, mature tone shows that there’s more to this sound than saccharine vocals and neon synths. More importantly however, there’s no fetishisation of the music; quite simply Hebden has lived it, and it’s a mix that offers a love letter to his most treasured memories and influences.
Arriving at this year’s edition of Field Day soon after the gates opened, it was possible to watch Pearson Sound’s DJ set and bask in the festival’s humongous surrounds long before the rest of London descended. Whilst the notion of catching David Kennedy at 1 in the afternoon in the Bugged Out! tent seemed odd at first, it certainly didn’t put him off running through a typically upfront selection, with Auntie Flo’s forthcoming “Oh My Days” sandwiched in between his own Night Slugs bootleg and Four Tet’s dramatic “Locked”. The bleary eyed gathering quickly grew ten fold as his set progressed, rapidly adapting to the notion of an ice cold San Miguel at midday. His performance was of the high quality expected from the Hessle boss, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he turned up much higher on the bill again next year.