We welcome the LuckyMe collective into the Juno Plus podcast fold, with Éclair Fifi taking the controls for the 31st installment on a 30-minute mix that perfectly encapsulates the Scottish collective’s all encompassing musical approach.
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There’s no denying that the LuckyMe crew have got their game tight when it comes to sourcing the most iridescent of electronic music to beam out into the murk of the modern age. As such, the crafty signing of Lunice late last year for his debut solo endeavour, the Stacker Upper EP, made perfect sense alongside the likes of HudMo and Mike Slott, exuding an addictive re-figuring of hip hop traditions with a positively modern twist.
Returning to the label for his second official release, the technicolour talents of Lunice have been tweaked slightly, moving away from his reported b-boy roots to tackle a hinterland of styles. One thing definitely still remains, in that the melodic elements in the tracks have a naïve charm with which they snake around each other. Everything is produced so brazenly and with such clarity; there’s no sense of his striving for subtlety or surprise.
However, on the likes of “I See U” or “Juice” there seems to be more of a floor focus at work. The beats and synths are still minimal in their essence, pared down and devoid of excessive effects, but work towards a more mixable end. Dubstep rhythms will certainly afford these tracks a strong chance of providing some light relief amongst darker club material. “Juice” in particular stands out with its dramatic horn stabs and rapid fire snare trickery. “Guardian” reverts back to the hip-hop groove of the first EP while employing vast swathes of positively purple synths, whilst “& She Said” has a midsection that sounds like Art Of Noise’s “Moments In Love” tricked out for playing in a lowrider.
On the remix tip, The Blessings fail to bring much more to “I See U” than dropping an extra sample into the mix. Girl Unit does a better job, stamping his own bassweight calling card on the original with echo-chamber hits and a trancey arpeggio for a dramatic finish to the EP.
Machinedrum aka Travis Stewart is the latest US producer to benefit from the recent surge of enthusiasm for all aspects of the bass continuum (see also Starkey and FaltyDL) and perhaps the most deserving, given the producer’s prodigious output since his emergence in the late 90s. Stewart has of course been here before, with arch US opinion makers Pitchfork deeming him the “standard to which the next wave of imitators aspires” when casting their gaze across Now You Know – his debut set under the alias Syndrone for the Merck imprint back in 2001.
Fast forward a decade and Stewart is on the cusp of releasing his latest album, Room(s) for the increasingly niche genre fervent Planet Mu imprint. This time around you feel that wider recognition will finally engulf Stewart, with the ears of music consumers generally more receptive to the sort of kaleidoscopic soundscapes melded to juke rhythms that peppers Room(s).
It’s a smart move from the always classy LuckyMe imprint to drop this excellent twelve of Machinedrum mind fucks ahead of the aforementioned long player. We’re tempted to class the four tracks here as edits but really they blast through all notions of that word into something completely different. If you’ve frequented Boiler Room either physically or via the wonderment of the www in recent times, or checked the Jackmaster Fabriclive mix then it’s likely you will have been blasted in the face by the genre defying dizziness of “Alarma”.
If neither of the above describe your life in recent times, then the track essentially applies a demented approach to all aspects of song structure and is perhaps the most refreshingly fun thing we’ve heard in a long time. Brilliantly dusty percussion that sounds ripped from a classic DJ Shadow track ripples to its own rhythmic direction throughout; whilst all manner of buzzing synths, crazed klaxon horns ride the bumping mid range bass. It all makes for one of those tracks you can just drop, stand back and bask in the chaos it causes.
“I’mabrat” provides an all too brief interlude into twinkling teen crunk attitude before Mr Stewart recommences the deranged brilliance with the tempo shifting click clack hyper action of “Loveking” – the source material will be familiar to anyone with a cursory knowledge of contemporary R&B. The thick waves of bass on this pretty much demands club play. Finally, and quite intriguingly, “YNY” sounds pretty much like Machinedrum succeeding at what Tiger & Woods do best, flexing some slinky boogie into a mainframe of abrasive sonics.
Hailing from Montreal, Jacques Greene is a name already well known to those of you who follow the neon-tinged end of the underground music spectrum, with releases on Glasgow’s LuckyMe and London’s Night Slugs in 2010. Breaking through with The Look EP – which earned him fans from the UK’s go-to men and women on the tastemaking front – Greene showcased a unique style that was rooted in house – with deep Chicago hooks and acid synths – but also incorporated a garage swing and undisguised love for R&B. “(Baby I Don’t Know) What You Want” meanwhile was one of the standout tracks on the Night Slugs All-Stars Vol.1 compilation, capping a fine year for artist and label alike. The fact he’s been chosen to remix Radiohead’s “Lotus Flower” as part of a series that also sees Caribou and – probably – Flying Lotus retweaking the UK band’s new album highlights the esteem in which he is currently held. Juno Plus writer Helen Luu caught up with him before his live set at the recent MUTEK festival in Montreal to talk about his hometown, R&B and his new live show.
Big things have been expected from Lunice Femin Pierre II for some time. Ever since his first remixes slipped out on Big Dada and Top Billin’ back in 2009, the Montreal based dancer turned producer has been big news in leftfield hip-hop circles. Those who groove to the sounds of Mike Slott, Rustie, Hudson Mohawke and Nosaj Thing have been waiting patiently for a proper Lunice record to emerge.
Thanks to Glasgow’s premiere Luckyme imprint, that wait is now over. But is Stacker Upper, the 21 year-old’s first official single release, any good? Thankfully, it is. Whilst nowhere near as far-out, experimental or genre redefining as some of his LuckyMe labelmates, Lunice still offers a fresh new twist on hip-hop. It’s just that he makes music for people who dance, rather than worthy men with microscopic beards and oversized headgear.
The real genius is the simplicity of his sound. Somehow, Lunice is able to make memorable, hummable tracks with only a handful of elements. Take lead cut “Hitmanes Anthem” which despite being little more than a beat, bassline and rising/falling keyboard melody, sounds immeasurably big. The same can be said of the bassbin bothering “Hip Pop” or the analogue freakazoid crunk out of “Purp Walk”. Even the EP’s most complex track, the wonderfully sweet and melodic “Fancy Forty” comes cloaked in Lunice’s trademark production and there’s also a great Rustie rework to contend with.
As debuts go, it’s impressive and should be an essential purchase for anyone interested in the kaleidoscopic new world of next-level hip-hop. Expect even greater things from Lunice in the years to come.
Breaking out in a huge way, Canadian producer Jacques Greene has impressed a swathe of fans and tastemakers almost overnight. Despite being a mere 21 years old, his delicately euphoric beats have already been picked up by Night Slugs for their recent All-Stars Vol.1 compilation – providing the stand-out “(Baby I Don’t Know) What You What” – and have also been hyped by Mary Anne Hobbs (on her last ever Radio 1 show). Rinse FM, Hud Mo, Floating Points and Ben UFO have all shown him love, and now with this first EP on Glasgow’s LuckyMe, it won’t be long before you’re in the fanclub too.
While he joins James Blake in wearing his unabashed love of R&B on his sleeve, Greene’s tunes are still rooted in house – deep Chicago hooks, acid synths and post-garage beats all abound here. Title tune “The Look” is the most glossy of the set – chopping and subtly pitch-shifting vocal lines into something truly anthemic, while basslines and synths pop and gurgle over a clap-based drum track. With Greene’s arrangement skills shining through, the tune progresses beautifully and succeeds in sounding both familiar (in a 90s garage way) yet also completely fresh.
“Good Morning” however goes into a Detroit zone, fully loaded with tweaked enveloping pads, jacked-up beats and just the right amount of piano – again all arranged so well that there’s never a dull moment. On a future-funky tip, “Holdin’ On” layers snapping percussion and garage-patterned beats on top of subtle vocal chops and more epic pads, while the slower “Tell Me” sports a hypnotic arpeggio that’ll bore its way into your cerebellum after just a few minutes listening. Never a dull moment over the entire EP, thanks largely to a spot-on choice of vintage-meets-future instrumentation, Greene has really set his stall out ready for 2011.