We're not complaining, but every day our inboxes are filled with pleas from artists, managers, labels, and PR jockeys pleading with us to write something about their or, more often, their client's music. So sometimes it's nice when an artist we know simply passes something along without any sort of self-promoting agenda. That happened yesterday when Dubbel Dutch sent us a link to fellow Austin producer Arms & Suites. There was no sales pitch and no back story, just a link and a note that said "deep spacey bass weirdness." As it turns out, his brief description pretty much nailed it. Arms & Suites' music takes all the shuffle, offbeat rhythms, and chopped vocal samples of UK funky and London bass music and places them in a freezer, putting a whole new spin on what is often a high-octane genre. Even better, the producer's self-titled EP is available for free download via Bandcamp. All the songs are quality, but "Brainwash" particularly won us over with its use of a mellowed-out tribal guarachero beat.
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The original version of Hardhouse Banton's "Reign" surfaced in 2008, back when most of us were still saying, "UK funky? They're really calling this genre just 'funky'?" Nonetheless, the track's tropical percussion, garage-like shuffle, and flirtation with house music helped set the blueprint for what has become a global movement. The song obviously has staying power, as earlier today UK funky heavyweight Roska gave away his own remix of "Reign" for free via Twitter. Roska's version features his patented kicks and snares, and also inserts a little more space into the track, giving it a sexier, less manic vibe. At this rate, we all might be hearing "Reign" for another two years, and that's just fine with us.
Brooklyn quintet Extra Life might not make the sort of music we're really into here at XLR8R, but the Tyondai Braxton remix of their "Head Shrinker" single is definitely up our alley. Braxton essentially turns a somewhat regal chamber-pop tune into an abstract techno jam worthy of inclusion on a Submerge Records compilation—the original's vocals are reduced to bug-like alien robot-speak, the instrumental stems become whooshes and stabs of sound, and a sickeningly distorted backbeat grounds the whole piece. Mix it with some juke or jit and get busy!
Well, now we've heard just about everything. Dubstep producers are copping samples from opera now, so pretty much anything goes at this point. On their debut collaborative effort, Dev79 and Thrills grabbed a bunch of pieces—including a clip of a wailing opera singer—from UK producer SDUK's "Clunge" track, and reformed the elements into a dirty piece of future-garage heavy with low end. The duo's rework is featured alongside the original and remixes from NastyNasty, Scott Matelic, and Phaseone on the Slit Jockey release, out now.
The UK's Gold Panda is an ace beatmaker who shares more in common with the current LA beat scene than chillwave artists like Toro Y Moi or Baths, but this remix from Seams shows an undeniable affinity with the latter crop of young producers. Using miniscule sections from the original's miniscule vocal samples, Seams allows his remix of "You" to build slowly, going from repetitive, one-note loops to multi-channel, syncopated summer hiss. While the original's crisp hip-hop beats are somewhat missed, there is a weirdly hazy quality to this remix that really satisfies the ears. Gold Panda's You EP will be released on June 15, and also features remixes from Osborne, Dam Mantle, and Minotaur Shock.
LA's Ja Prawn might be one of the weirder bands we've heard in while— after all, combining boogie-funk, analog synth fetishism, and weird prog-rock song structures isn't typical, but "Suicide Party" is proof that the eclectic mix really works. With a bassline that could have come from an early Larry Heard project, gauzy synths recalling '70s AM rock radio, and electric guitar bits that wouldn't be out of place on a Journey reunion tour, "Suicide Party" is a strange yet extraordinarily catchy earworm. Be sure to check out the rest of Ja Prawn's first album here, where it is available for free download.
Taken from Javelin's second full-length, No Más, "Off My Mind" contains some of the sonic elements one would expect from the tropicalia-loving Brooklyn cousins, as well as some surprises. While bells, a nicely synthesized West Indian rhythm, and squeaky keys make their presence known, the multi-tracked vocal harmonies are more reminiscent of something from the Avalanches, or even Stereopathic Soul Manure. In other words, "Off My Mind" is a little bit more twee than one would expect, but is still a lovely slice of sentimental heat, perfect for warm, rainy days.
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