AlunaGeorge – Your Drums, Your Love

There’s been a raft of tracks in recent years where an already cracking instrumental has been taken on by some fledgling artist to create a more commercially palatable “vocal edit”. One that sticks out for me is Katy B – Katy On A Mission. Having spent a large part of my latter days in the capital listening back to Rinse FM shows and recordings of their acts’ live shows around the country, I had heard both the beat (Benga – Man On A Mission) and the vocal that later became famous on the Katy B track over a different song entirely (Katy B at Bloc festival 2010). I have to confess, I have a soft spot for the Katy On A Mission, it certainly didn’t ruin the original Benga tune for me, however the same cannot be said for all such “remixes”.

I am a massive fan of Glasgow producer de jour Rustie’s debut full length offering; Glass Swords. In particular the track After Light which I flagged up in a previous post (Glass Swords). I’ve got to say I was a bit of grumpy teenager crossed with a miserable old git (I’m half way between now so it was inevitable really) when I first heard the AlunaGeorge vocal edit. It added nothing for me, the vocal almost apologetic in it’s “soft” layering over the dance swell of the beat underneath.

First impressions count for a hell of a lot, so needless to say my expectation level was not at its highest when I was alerted to a new track by AlunaGeorge doing the rounds and being hyped to the hilt. What have I learnt from this? Don’t let those shoddy first impressions cloud your judgement.

Again, the first listen didn’t set me alight, but the more I hear from sweetly spoken Aluna (Francis) and George (Reid)’s glitchy yet engaging production, the more those first impressions fade into the distance, are forgotten and in fact, proven to be very wrong. Your Drums, Your Love (formerly Treading Water) pulls influence from things you know (there’s James Blake-ness in there that’s for sure) and others you don’t (some lovely clavichord style twiddles and subtle chug-rock guitar runs that I just can’t pinpoint), which when combined make for a very strong assault on the aural sense.

The time and effort that has gone into the presentational package which accompanies the song deserves as much attention as the track itself. The music video sees Aluna thinking out loud through song as she tours a gallery populated by a collection of diverse pieces from illustrator and sculptor Arran Gregory and an assortment of body popping punters. The glass Wolf is a particular favourite, alongside the bear.

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The moral of the story kids, cliche’s have their place and you should never judge a leopard by it’s stripes…or something like that.

Jessie Ware – Running

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Can you ask the same question about a remix? Simply put, no! Without an original track, what would there be to remix. That doesn’t mean to say that in order to discover a remix you need to know the original. Certainly that was the case with my first encounter (so I thought) with South London’s Jessie Ware.

Driving can be a great time to listen to music for the first time. If something doesn’t grab me on the radio within the first 15-30 seconds, the dial’s getting switched pronto. So it’s probably a good thing that the first time I clocked the Disclosure remix of Jessie Ware’s new release Running it was post drop (circa 1:17). As a rule, I don’t fall deep for 90s influenced, disco beat house tracks. This one however shot straight from the hip and planted itself firmly in my mind from the first listen. I waited anxiously to hear the track again and was rewarded two hours later when I arrived at my final destination, only to sit in the van, eyes closed, soaking up the full glory of what I have absolutely no doubt will become a terrace / dance floor / roller disco filler this summer.

The intro is sparse, like you’re late on in a dream and being woken gradually by a soft voice before being kick jolted out of your slumber. That initial post sleep haze is still in place before the first deep intake of breath, signaled here by the upward sweep into rapid vocals and expanding synth lines. All of this ushers you along before dropping you into an infectious 125 disco shuffle, all soft claps with equally soft vocals. There’s definite power behind the voice, it’s just not forced. The bass is deep and stutters subtly at times. All in all, you’re going to struggle not to be hooked in by this one.

So what of the original? I’ll be honest, I’ve been left feeling short changed before when hunting out an original after being introduced to a track through a super strength remix. Thankfully, this couldn’t have been further from the case with Running.

Having absolutely no knowledge or preconception of what this track may be like, I was in a good frame of mind when I got round to my first listen. At first you think you’ve been sucked into a sci-fi special, that is before the organic kick (complete with a slight rim shudder) beats its way into the track. The next thing to hit you is the soft parp of a horn (sampled, synthesised, I’m not sure, I don’t care, I do love it). The song keeps giving, next up is the beautifully layered vocal, with an even more seductive tone to it at the more relaxed tempo of the original. This continues throughout the track with the addition of simple yet devastatingly hooky guitars, 60s soul style backing vocals and a jumble of natural and artificial percussion.

Listen on the best pair of headphones you can get your mits on because the production values on this track are top, TOP drawer! The way sounds appear in exactly the right place at a level that complements all around it, whilst still holding their own at the same time. Jessie has Radio 1 new boy Julio Bashmore and The Invisible front man Dave Okumu to heartily thank for this. Nice job boys.

Ms Ware’s name is one I knew I’d heard before, but it was only after some iTunes searching that I fully appreciated her presence in the UK scene over the past year or two. She’s previously teamed up with SBTRKT on a few tracks from his (D&V rated) self titled debut. She’s also featured on tracks with fellow SBTRKT contributor Sampha and Bristol heavyweight Joker.

Whilst all being solid offerings, I think JW’s found her home with the sound of Running. And by all accounts that the direction we can expect from her debut album which is expected later this year. I know where I’ll be running to for that one!

P.S. Much love for the video. Watch…

Mikhael Paskalev – I Spy

I don’t want to say much about this video, and so, I’m not going to, it really does speak for itself.

What do I know of Mikhael Paskalev, not a lot other than he’s from Norway, studied at LIPA, has gigged alongside the likes of Jonas Alaska, sports a rather fine moustache and has something of a Joaquin Phoenix look about him.

Directed by Andre Chocron, the combination of stylish lighting, beautifully executed effects, Mikhael’s curiously hypnotic pelvic thrusting and semi-attire, the video for “I Spy” is a testament to how a very good song can be elevated in the mind to a great moment that you want to revisit over and over again.

Sadly, I Spy is only available on Norwegian iTunes at the moment, so for now, just enjoy the video. DnV out!

Kodiak – Spreo Superbus

All turbo charged and glistening with an aggressive retro sheen, juggernaut independent label Numbers have once again delivered the goods with their latest offering; Spreo Superbus from the now named Kodiak (I heard stories they were going to apply the moniker Milk at one point).

Retuning the engine to the big rig and possibly having a word with Jay Kay from Jamiroquai along the way, Fact described it as “[a] track that sounds like driving a Ferrari straight into the middle of a packed dance floor”, and you know what, that’s bang on!

Before hearing the original mix, I heard the Actress remix. A very different direction. It’s got the future laser blasts whilst also making you think you’re back in 1983, having a chin wag with Tony Montana early morning in the Miami harbour when he’s in one of his more sombre moods. There’s a healthy slice of grit thrown in mid way (shit, Tony’s flipping out on me), but it mellows down again nicely to round off.

It’s nice to see a bit of attention’s been given to the video angle too. Someone’s obviously remembered about that flight sim game you could get in Microsoft Excel back in the 90s, filmed themselves playing it a slapped some nice colours on the top. I think it works.

Kodiak – Spreo Superbus is released on Monday 5 March on Numbers. You’ll probably find it in a record shop like one of these // Piccadilly Records // Rubadub

Follow Kodiak on twitter // @k_odia_k

Mickey Pearce – Don't Ask Don't Get

Over time, people change, it’s a fact. They absorb the world around them, it influences them and they progress as individuals. Some even change their name! In the case of the artist formerly known as shortstuff, he’s moved on with certainty with his new moniker; Mickey Pearce and crowned this shift with a mighty release on Loefah’s Swamp81 vinyl only label.

The new name’s no secret, the man’s been wearing both hats for some time now, and the official shift happened a while back. I’ve been waiting (much like Ed with his SBTRKT show) for a fair while to finally get my hands on what had proved to be a pretty elusive track in the digital world of music that I often trawl, and wanted to wait until I had a copy of Don’t Ask Don’t Get / I Am firmly planted on the platter before I threw my tuppence worth down.

I’ve heard the title track Don’t Ask, Don’t Get snapping along on a few radio shows for the past 3/4 months now and was sold on stories of a late October / early November release. Only in the last week, upon hearing B-side I Am in full for the first time did I twig that the tracks were finally out.

Tribal in its introduction, industrial in its body and with a pulsing wave swell of bass rippling underneath, you catch yourself latching on to subtleties in the production with each new listen of Don’t Ask, Don’t Get. It’s a song of multiple movements, a full days travel packed into one six minute offering.

For a flavour of how this track should be embedded into a mix (which it should), listen back to MP’s mix for Mary Anne Hobbs’ XFM show late last month.

On the back of the limited press vinyl only release (don’t even bother trying to hunt this down digitally online, you’re going to need to smash the piggy bank and walk to the shops to have this one) is another stripped tribal affair. I am opens as more of a dance floor ready beat before dragging you under with its aggressive, again mechanical, almost alien sounding rasps and vocal splashes.

With a release roster that’s included the likes of The Bug, Kryptic Minds, Addison Groove, Skream and Ramadanman, Mickey Pearce’s first outing on Swamp81 is a progression for both the label and artist. Get your copy from Surus.