Tag Archives: ep review

Review: D Double E – Bluku! Bluku! EP

D Double EBluku! Bluku! EP (2011) [Dirtee Stank] // Grade: B

D Double E has been in the grime game for over a decade, first as part of the N.A.S.T.Y. Crew and then with the Newham Generals. The man behind last year’s nostalgic “Street Fighter Riddim” returns with his first solo EP, Bluku! Bluku! Released on Dizzee Rascal’s vanity label Dirtee Stank, the EP finds D Double E making his mark, mostly on the strength of its title track.

“Bluku! Bluku!” is everything that’s right about the grime resurgence, matching upstart producer S-X with two MCs vicious enough to take one his lethal beats for a ride. D Double’s rallying cry “bluku bluku” is an anthem onto itself. A revitalized Dizzee Rascal, with his first true grime bars in years, returns from the electro-rap wilderness and can’t help but stealing the spotlight (from one of his idols, no less).

D Double E has the irreverence of a battle-ready freestyler and a distinct, nearly nasal voice. His couplets are simultaneously (and paradoxically) carefully articulated and chewed and spit out. Yet the remainder of the EP has trouble matching the infectious nature of the title track.

D Double’s grime swagger dominates the lyrics. On “Lyrical Farda,” he challenges the listener to “name an MC that spit harder;” on “Put Your Money On It” he’s a “lyrical heavyweight like an elephant.” The latter pumps out some critical sub-bass waves, but lacks a hook. The same problem plagues “Let It Blow,” nearly wasting its death rattle synths.

“Be Like Me” dips its toe in the crossover pool, without sacrificing its grimey urgency. Fueled by a sparse dubstep click track, the song features Dirtee Stank prodigy Smurfie Syco on the auto-tuned hook. The lush, throwback jungle of the Toddla T-produced “Flava” is a surprisingly good pairing for a D Double lust song, but it’s not as surprising as the brutal D-n-B breakdown where lust gets a little rapey (“wanna cock back and pull my trigger / get straight up in her liver”).

The EP closes with the pure dubstep of the run-from-the-cops “Catch Me If You Can,” a track that proves D Double E can slow down and tell stories, too. As the final “catch me if you can” rings out, it’s evident that it’s not just a chorus – it’s a challenge to every grime MC in the UK.

Buy D Double E’s Bluku! Bluku! EP Over at iTunes Now!

Originally posted on the Mishka Bloglin.

EP Roundup: Hudson Mohawke / Dark Sky / Hard Ass Sessions VI

Hudson MohawkeSatin Panthers (Warp)

Hudson Mohawke’s first release since his seminal 2009 album Butter is a bit uneven, teasing for a few songs before delivering on its lofty expectations. “Octan” shimmers but doesn’t really go anywhere, and the synth line on “Cbat” is a little too squeaky, distracting from the future hop beat.

Then, finally, there’s the type of orchestral future bass that HudMo practically invented. “All Your Love” features a big R&B melody, thunderous drums, and tinkling synths that propel the song forward; the off-kilter rave piano that comes into focus about halfway through is perfect. The EP closes with “Thank You,” a super collider of drumline rhythms that is reminiscent of “FUSE.”


Dark SkyRadius EP (50 Weapons)

Dark Sky‘s Radius EP, on Modeselektor’s 50Weapons imprint, cements their place in the post-dubstep / bass music conversation. As their name suggests, Dark Sky makes foreboding, moody bass music. But it still is danceable – albeit in a very specific way: “Speeding Blue” and “The Lick” mix wobbly melodies with the scattershot riddims of UK funky and grime.

While Dark Sky has already established a well-defined style, the standout tracks on Radius couldn’t be more different from each other. “Neon” shifts from warm, house synths to chilly chiptune; both are equally addictive. On the other hand, “Be Myself” is a techy tribute to programmed beats and creepy samples.


Various artistsHard Ass Session VI (Enchufada)

Compiled by Buraka Som Sistema’s J-Wow, the latest volume in the Hard Ass Sessions brings together four top notch producers, each with a different take on tropical bass. Living up to the series’ name (“kuduro” translates to “hard ass”), Kry Wolf’s “Picadinho Di Pedalina” and Schlachthofbronx’s “Backup Run” are kuduro bangers. For cumbia fans, Cardopusher offers the surging “Tu Bizcochito.” The only outlier stylistically is “Waiting On.” The track is pure Brenmar, though, mashing together a hip-hop sample and vibrant, funky drums.

J-Wow’s 2011 Hard Ass Mix draws on these tracks, among others.


EP Roundup: DJ Ayres / Cedaa / Derek Allen

Rather than following artists for new releases, sometimes it’s best to follow record labels. Here are three new offerings from some of the most reliable, tastemaking labels in existence.

DJ AyresI’d Fuck Me EP (T&A Records)

Based on its title and cover alone (both homages to Silence of the Lambs), listeners might expect something darker here. But fear not: DJ Ayres isn’t Buffalo Bill – he just starts parties. “Flashing Lights” (named after a party that Ayres threw with Nick Catchdubs and Jubilee) is disco house theme music with a funky bassline that’s more Studio 54 than Public Assembly. “Liberation” is the kind of soulful tech house that collaborators Nadastrom are known for. It wouldn’t be a T&A release these days without a tropical jam: the evocatively-titled “Panty Crickets” fills that void with tribal drums, squeaky synths and an pitch-perfect rave whistle. The Tomb Crew, Swick and Grandtheft try to hypercharge these tracks, but sometimes the direct approach is best.


CedaaJasmin EP (B.YRSLF division)

I’ve been following Cedaa’s juke-inflected future bass for a while now. The follow up to the Old Growth EP is definitely more mellow, with the juke beats a pulse rather than an explosion. On title track “Jasmin,” saccharine synths play against guttural chanting. There isn’t much of Japan in “Nippon,” just an elastic melody and industrial undercurrents. Two collaborations round out the originals: “20K,” with Distal, might refer to Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, as it’s aquatic effects and waves of bass get pretty deep. “Windbreaker” with Slick Shoota is a juke-meets-rave banger complete with break beats, diva vox and airhorns. Remixes by Myrryrs, Chaos in the CBD, Sine, and DJ Hilti round out the EP and provide four new names to watch out for.


Derek AllenDJA EP (Mad Decent)

Long-time Mad Decent affiliate Derek Allen comes out from behind the boards for his debut record. Allen’s vocals are the perfect complement for these luvstep jams, his hip-hop and bass production skills on full display. Drums thunder on “Trying to Come Alive” and synths wobble on “Shoulda Listened;” the autotune on “Trying to Come Alive” is the EP’s rare misstep. “Susperia” (featuring Top Billin) feels like an 808s & Heartbreak outtake. Allen’s cover of “Spirits in the Material World” by The Police updates the song for the 21st century. The depth of the Mad Decent roster continues to impress.

EP Roundup: Nguzunguzu / Little Dragon / How to Dress Well

Remixed, remade, or rearranged, we are long past the point where songs exist separately from their other versions. Three groundbreaking artists demonstrate this fact on recent releases.

NguzunguzuTimesup

Ascendant masters of future bass Nguzunguzu have the honor of releasing the first EP on Kingdom‘s Night Slugs-affiliate Fade to Mind. There’s much more than namedropping here, though. The tracks bubble, surge, and sway with waves of bass, video game (not chiptune) synths, and big ass timpanis; the title of “Water Bass Power” is instructive.

Two remixes round out the disc. In true rhythm and bass style, Kingdom screws a Nicole Wray sample into the title track; contemporaries Total Freedom give “Wake Sleep” a violent, creepy edge.

[wpaudio url=”https://postcultural.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/water_bass_power.mp3″ text=”Nguzunguzu – Water Bass Power” dl=0]

Little DragonRitual Union

Little Dragon doesn’t stray from their sound on “Ritual Union,” the title track on their forthcoming album. The song bounces along with a slinky bassline, electronic chirps, ricocheting drums, and of course, Yukimi Nagaon’s silky smooth vocals.

Remixes from producers Maya Jane Coles and Tensnake accentuate different elements – the guitar melody and the percussion section, respectively – but the focus is on Yukimi (as is usually the case). Also included is a remix of “Nightlight” by Unknown Mortal Orchestra, who turn the song into a psychedelic tableau of Eastern-flavored rock.

[wpaudio url=”https://postcultural.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/ritual_union.mp3″ text=”Little Dragon – Ritual Union” dl=0]

How to Dress WellJust Once

The limited pressing Just Once gives R&B deconstructionalist How to Dress Well (aka Brooklyn artist Tom Krell) a chance to step out of the bedroom and into the orchestra pit. A tribute to a friend who committed suicide, the EP includes orchestral versions of formerly gauzy, ethereal songs from his debut, Love Remains.

Sinewy strings imbue Krell’s falsetto with an even greater sense of loss, heartbreak and sorrow. However, the beauty of these arrangements turns somber proceedings into something hopeful (or at least not as depressing as it could be). “Suicide Dreams 3″ will appear on the next HTDW album.

[wpaudio url=”https://postcultural.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/suicide_dream_3.mp3″ text=”HTDW – Suicide Dream 3” dl=0]

EP Roundup: Munchi / Bok Bok / Skream

Three major names in underground electronic music released EPs, and each deserves a close listen. Don’t sleep on any of these future grooves.

MunchiRotterdam Juke

Ever since his remix of Nguzunguzu’s “Unfold,” bassheads have eagerly awaited more juke from Munchi. With the release of the Rotterdam Juke EP, Munchi delivers: over six tracks, Munchi presents a unique view of Chicago from a Dominican living in Rotterdam.

After a few months of hardship, Munchi announces his triumphant return with “Mi Ta Bek,” which features the iconic “guess I got my swagga back” sample (Jay Z by way of Datsik and Excision). The track, along with “Mamajuana,” have the same type of colliding beats of “Murda Sound,” off the EP of the same name.

As always, Munchi’s melting pot style is on full display. The sweet sorrow of Dominican bachata compliments the rapid-fire toms of juke on “Andando,” and only Munchi has the audacity to sample Rage Against the Machine’s “Bull On Parade” – and the ability to pull it off – like he does on “Paperchase.” “Straat Taaki” (“Street Talk”) has less overt juke influence, but the raw, uneven traphouse beat is straight gangsta. The stand out track is “Yazzer Tin Air Max,” which is pure, uncut footwork.


Bok BokSouthside EP

Night Slugs co-founder Bok Bok takes a break from running the world’s hottest electronic label to release his first ever solo EP. With an 808 in one hand and a 303 in the other, Bok Bok is at his finest, crafting dark, sexy soundscapes that push the boundaries of post-dubstep/post-UK funky dance music.

On “Charisma Theme,” airy synths permeate a sensual beat that has that Night Slugs je ne sais quoi. “Hyperpass” is unrelenting tech house, and “Reminder” has exotic synth lines that give it an Eastern feel. Southside closes with the sinister grime of “Silo Pass” and “Look Dub;” the former is a more dense composition, but the latter imbues the empty space with eeriness.


SkreamSkream EP

While Bok Bok takes a break from his, Skream disengages from Magnetic Man for a major release on his own label. The self-titled EP on Disfigured Dubz brings together four tracks that Skream has been annihilating audiences with. “Heavy Hitter” and “Rigging” have the midrange wobble of “classic” dubstep; while done to death by other producers, the technique still feels vital in Skream’s hands. “Sea Sick” does the same, with descending synths that perfectly capture the feeling of the song’s title. The best track is “Hats Off,” where he returns to the well, combining a Loleatta Holloway vocal and the “amen” break into something more ravey than his breakthough hit “Burning Up.”


EP Roundup: Moombahton Edition

The moombahton movement continues, and while I can’t offer daily reviews (like some people), occasionally a few releases will come along that require special attention. On these three new releases, each moombahnista’s background shines through in service of personal, powerful tunes.

Pickster & MeloArizonaton

Pickster and Melo have held down the moombahton scene in Phoenix since the beginning. Together, the pair have had well-received songs on Summer of Moombahton and the Moombahton Massive III EP.

The Arizonaton EP opens with the soulful “Fat Booty,” which is built around the Aretha Franklin sample (“One Step Ahead”) that drives the Mos Def classic “Ms. Fat Booty.” Melo’s “Es Dificil” is a flip of a song by reggaeton performer De La Ghetto; this is the type of edit that only a DJ with deep reggaeton roots can pull off, which Melo has. Arizonaton has something for everyone, including the requisite moombahcore banger “Going Out to the Hardcore.”


Billy the Gent / Long Jawns / JWLSVibrate Chick

Billy the Gent is a producer to watch. Just a year ago he was killing ’em with wobbles and now he’s at the center of the moombahton scene. His secret? A firm grip on the zeitgeist and an easygoing, collaborative attitude; this is a dude everyone wants to work with.

With longtime collaborator Long Jawns, the Gent crafted “Vibrate” out of the Petey Pablo track of the same name. “Vibrate” is a perfect, booty-dropping peak hour track. Miami’s JWLS offers a remix of “Vibrate” and works with Billy on “Chick Like This.” The marching drums and gunshots on the latter are simply vicious; I want this song to play whenever I enter a club.


Philadelphyinz / Uncle Jesse / Obeyah8 Inches of Moombahton

May 19th is a special all-Moombahton edition of Tropicalismo in Philadelphia; 8 Inches of Moombahton marks the occasion.

Apt One continues to morph house tracks into smooth moombah ones. While David Heartbreak gave “Witch Doktor” a shot previously, Apt One’s take is superior. Skinny Friedman’s “Alison Brie Running in Slow Motion” is space-funk-moombahton, made even better by the best name I’ve seen in a while (knowing the reference helps). Obeyah gets to the heart of moombahton, slowing down “Like This,” while Uncle Jesse’s percussive “Art Attack” relies a little too much on the “bloodclot” sample.

Download: Arizonaton
Download: Vibrate Chick
Download: 8 Inches of Moombahton

EP Review: Sky Ferreira – As If!

When it comes to pop music, post-Rebecca Black, “we’re through the looking glass here, people.” The viral video hit takes teen pop to its logical conclusion: mind-numbing simplicity. But while Ark Music creations pump out the pop equivalents of pre-teen beauty queens, some artists have bigger things in mind.

Since featuring her in the Verge last August, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the debut album from Sky Ferreira. While that record has been indefinitely postponed, the LA lolita released the As If! EP this week. For reference, Ferreira was three-years-old when Clueless popularized that totally 90s catchphrase.

Lead single “Sex Rules” is a bouncing, glittery ball of 80s mall pop. The frank sexuality of the lyrics (don’t worry – she’s 18!) is kind of jarring at first, only because of the source. But in all fairness, the sex-positive lyrics are relatively tame to what kids her age (and younger) are actually doing.

“99 Tears” is more of the same, replacing sex talk with a broken heart. Another milestone in the dubstep-pop crossover is “Traces,” the wobble-filled ballad penned by Colin Munroe and Neon Hitch. It takes a page from BAR9’s luvstep-approved remix of Ferreira’s “One.”

[wpaudio url=”/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/02-Traces.mp3″ text=”Sky Ferriera – Traces” dl=0]

“Haters Anonymous” has a schizophrenic duality to it, with a synthpop chorus and spoken word verses. In the age of Facebook bullies, the lyrics resonate with her target audience – even if they come from someone deep in the LA social scene. As If! closes with its lone misfire, “108,” a song held back by its strange lyrical premise.

In another nod to 90s pop culture, Ferreira and “Sex Rules” are featured in the new ad campaign for ck one. Tired of Dr. Luke (or Ark Music) produced, derivative garbage? Sky Ferreira does slut-pop right.