Worldwide Awards 2012 @ Koko, London

Ever since hearing Hold On by SBTRKT last year, I was determined to see Messrs Sampha and SBTRKT perform live. The self-titled lp released on Young Turks marries garage and broken beat influences to create what Pitchfork strangely term ‘post dub-step’. The album includes huge vocal performances and flows seamlessly from start to finish. Unfortunately, 2011 was a year of fails vis-à-vis catching the live show. Glastonbury: couldn’t reach the tent in time. Brixton: SBTRKT were replaced by Big Pink as support to Friendly Fires. First headline London gig in 2012: sold out.

Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide Awards 2012 presented the perfect opportunity to see them live. Winners of the Worldwide award for best long player with the self-titled debut, SBTRKT’s performance at London’s Koko was just one of many highlights on a memorable night.

Take the Pyramids, whose 1970s ‘jazz cabaret’ was considered too future until they recently reformed. Their set was brought to life by charismatic front man Idris Ackermoor who switched to tap shoes part way through the show and won the Lifetime Achievement Award. Hudson Mohawke, Lefto and, fast becoming my favourite Brighton via LA dj, Kutmah, served up juicy disc jockey sets before Michael Kiwanuka enchanted the sell-out crowd with a beautiful vocal performance.

Kiwanuka, the BBC’s pick for Sound of 2012, has been criticised already for lacking originality. My view is that people hanker for wholesome music, particularly when delivered by gifted vocalists. Kiwanuka delivers on both counts, epitomised by Tell me a Tale and Home Again.

The award for best label went to Brainfeeder, Flying Lotus’ all-star roster which includes the likes of Daedelus, recent joiner Lapalux and Thundercat. The latter was in London to collect the award and play live alongside fellow label mate – and ridiculously gifted pianist – Austin Peralta. This set had everything Fly Lo’s at the Roundhouse didn’t – not least live music. From the lush, California sun-infused Is it Love? to the ethereal For love (I Come Your Friend), the poncho-wearing bassist glided effortlessly through his set. If you missed The Golden Age of Apocalypse last August (or were in two minds like me), give it a go.

Jamie XX followed, playing a bashment retake of Drake’s Take Care. This track started out as Jamie XX’s remix of Gil Scott-Heron‘s I’ll Take Care of You. Heron’s death last year ended a genre-defining career in music; his far-reaching influence was celebrated at the Worldwide awards.

Then the main event: SBTRKT live. The masked duo combined drums, keys, vocals and sequencer to full effect, pounding the heavyweight Koko soundsystem. Little Dragon‘s Yukimi Nagano joined for Wildfire but it was Sampha’s soaring vocal throughout the set that did most for the soul.

And so it was that I heard SBTRKT play Hold On live. What is it the people at Guinness say?

Flying Lotus @ Roundhouse (22.10.11)

Billed as one of only three live shows this year, the others in Paris and New York, expectation was high. Recommended in Time Out, Flying Lotus would be flanked by a vj set from AntiVJ and supported by Martyn and Kutmah, the former’s new lp already a Dash’n’Verve favourite.

So perhaps I started to let excitement get the better of me as we filed in to the excellent Roundhouse to hear Martyn drop Mega Drive Generation. Though he wasn’t the main event, the Chicago house inspired Masks and enveloping Popgun from the album Ghost People proved Martyn has a lot to offer FlyLo’s label Brainfeeder.

Kutmah with a warm up set next. an amazing version of Shugge Otis’ Aht Uh Mi Hed slinked through the mix and big bouncy r’n’b retakes reminded of the massive influence Hudson Mohawke has had on the genre.

And so to Flying Lotus. The big screen centre stage blinked with a galaxy of stars (or a windows screensaver as a Dutchman behind me quipped) and out Steve Ellison came, fresh white shirt and all. A couple of bass heavy hits in to his Ableton set, Flying Lotus appeared to apologise for something. Whilst it wasn’t clear what the apology was for, it felt to me as though something was supposed to be better. A quick post mortem on the performance…

The AntiVJ visuals were dull – like being trapped inside the crystal maze dome without a hope of reaching 100 gold tokens net. And from the guy who brought us Unexpected Delight, GNG BNG and the matchless Cosmogramma lp, the sound unfortunately matched the visuals. On the aforementioned lp tour, FlyLo drew on the fantastic Thundercat and Austin Peralta to do something truly live with the band Infinity. This was more like going to an expensive Italian restaurant and being served a Dr Oetker pizza.

Yes, the music was great, typified with FlyLo’s finale of Astral Plane followed by the Rolling Stones classic Paint it Black. But playing to thousands of punters paying 25 notes each, you need to offer more than a laptop and an apology.

Martyn – Ghost People

I’m excitedly awaiting an early end to the day so I can shoot down the road to Piccadilly Records and pick up a copy of Dutch born, US based, heavyweight producer Martyn’s new LP offering – Ghost People.

Martyn - Ghost People

After the release of his debut full length – Great Lengths – back in 2009, I’ve been a keen follower of his remixes, original cuts and mixes. His selection as the 50th act to represent the Fabric mix brand was a strong shout and brought me over the “Fabric” side after being a snobbish “FabricLive” only listener previously.

If the album lives up the expectations built in me by the first track I heard from it; Viper, then we are all in for a treat. Viper embeds itself in your head like a rapidly rotating sawmill blade, all gritty and aggressive with its metallic sounds. At the same time it retains a refined balance, never getting too wild as it builds through the introduction of sharp hats, breathy pipes and dampened disco claps.

The official video is up for your visual delectation on all your favourite video sharing websites. It reminds me of digital video technology from 1991 but with the colours and sheen of a 2011 production. Have a butchers yourself.

Brainfeeder, the generous tykes that they are, have given Mixmag the whole album to stream on a try before you buy vibe. I, being conscious of how limited people’s attention spans can be, have tacked all the tracks to the bottom of this blog.

Now go buy!