Tag Archives: mishka

Review: Nero – Welcome Reality

NeroWelcome Reality (2011) [MTA] // Grade: D

With Daft Punk and Basement Jaxx recording soundtracks for sci-fi epics, it was only a matter of time before an act took it upon themselves to do the same, without the benefit of a film to score. On their debut album Welcome Reality, UK duo Nero aim for such orchestral grandiosity, adding a dubstep flair to the electro leanings of their predecessors. The result is a bloated companion piece for a Michael Bay flick that doesn’t exist.

Welcome Reality is over-the-top and formulaic, as if Nero took every stadium-friendly electronic music trend and simply added dubstep’s wobbly low-end to it. “Doomsday” is Bloody Beetroots’ mosh-pit electro; “Guilt” has the diva vocals and synth stabs of big room trance. Throughout the album, soaring guitar and synth lines battle four on the floor beats in a “cock rock vs. dance music” race to the bottom; the title of the plodding “Scorpions” has to be a hat-tip to the German glam rockers of the same name, right?

Du jour dance styles aren’t the only territory that Nero mines for Welcome Reality. Towards the end of the disc, there’s a suite of songs that rip mid-eighties pop without a sense of irony. Samples of the Jets’ “Crush,” Carmen’s “Time to Move,” and the coup de grace, Hall & Oates’ “Out of Touch,” prove that even your parents can enjoy dubstep!

Released more than a year after lead single “Innocence,” Welcome Reality has little in common with the sparse, luvstep romanticism promised on that track. “In the Way” is the only other time we get something that isn’t obnoxiously cranked to 11, its reverb-laced snares a brief respite from the album’s relentless synthesized explosions. The pair of tracks showcase how an act can combine dubstep’s aggression with poppy, mainstream sensibilities; it’s a shame Nero didn’t do more of the same elsewhere.

Originally posted on the Mishka Bloglin.

Serious Saturdays: Six Feet Deep With Tomb Crew

DJing and producing are two related but distinct skills. Not all beatsmiths can work a crowd, so when DJs with a reputation for destroying raves everywhere from Brixton to Brooklyn start making tracks, you know the beats will be battle-tested.

East London’s Tomb Crew is a perfect example of this. Since 2007, DJs Jamie Floodgate and Nick Bennett, along with hypeman Illaman (aka David Penning), have honed their craft across the globe, playing with nearly every UK bass luminary, including Zinc, Herve, Rusko and Sinden, to name just a few. Tomb Crew approaches DJ gigs like a live act, working the crowd into a bass-rattled frenzy.

After a string of successful remixes for acts including Crookers, Drop the Lime and French Fries, the Crew got to work on their own bass creations. With a sound that draws from all strands of bass music, Tomb Crew blends dubstep, club, kuduro, and jungle into a concoction more potent than anything you can buy at a rave.

This year, they released their first EP on Trouble and Bass, a perfect fit for their brand of bangers. Mixing old school jungle with new school bass, the tracks range from the tropical, horn-driven “Oh So Good” to the divebombing “King of the Tweets.”

On their recently released Watch This EP (on Black Butter Records), Tomb Crew continues to update throwback styles with an emphasis on the low end. “Yaphet Kotto Stole My Steez” – a candidate for best song title of the year – oscillates between housey breakbeats and the group’s trademark wobble (and you can download it for free on Soundcloud). The title track, featuring MCs Rubi Dan and Juxci D alongside Illaman, is a slice of tropical bashment perfect for carnival.

Tomb Crew always rocks Mishka, and the guys had a cameo in the Fall 2011 Lookbook teaser. Keep watch for the collection’s official release, and look out for Tomb Crew at a rave near you.

Originally posted on the Mishka Bloglin.

Mishka Presents Keep Watch Vol. XXVIII: Spooky

Grime is riot music. But as England burns, reactionaries who try to blame music for the violence have the cause and effect backwards. Grime is vicious because youth life in poor boroughs is vicious, not the other way around. That’s why grime has an energy and urgency like nothing else.

Fittingly, the latest entry in the Keep Watch series is Mishka’s first grime mix. Curated by East London producer Spooky, the mix is an unrelenting mix that captures the spirit of the resurgent sound. Spooky (not to be confused with the house duo or trip hop DJ of the same name) started DJing at 13, breaking out in 2006 when his bashment riddim “Joyride” became a surprise grime hit.

Since then, he’s produced and remixed tunes for a grime who’s-who that includes Slew Dem, OG’s, Skepta, Kele Le Roc, Family Tree, Teddy, Rude Kid, Infared, Brick & Lace and Mark Morrison. In addition to playing gigs all over London, he holds down three weekly radio shows and runs his Ghost House label. In 2010, Spooky scored another grime hit, the “300”-quoting “Spartan,” a banger reminiscent of those by Alias and J-Sweet. He’s also released tracks on the label that’s spearheading the grime renaissance, Oil Gang Records.

For his Keep Watch mix, Spooky lives up to his name, kicking off with a refix of Faze Miyake’s “Take Off” and never looking back. For nearly an hour, Spooky drops sawtooth bass, rumbling beats and verses from grime heavyeights P-Money, Blacks, Tempa T and D Double E with a turntablist’s touch. In the UK, grime is the soundtrack this week. And when the riots end, Spooky will keep starting fires.

Originally posted on the Mishka Bloglin.

S-X drops Swagged Out Grime on the "5000 Followers EP"

Love him or hate him, Lex Luger is running the hip-hop beat game right now. Sure, his Fruity Loops tend towards the repetitive, but you can’t argue with facts: “Hard in da Paint,” “B.M.F.” “H.A.M.” and “Grove St. Party” have dominated hip-hop playlists for a reason – and the dude’s only 20!

Looking for the next Lex Luger? Cast your eyes to the UK, where rising grime producer S-X has been the man behind some of the most hyped tracks in recent memory. His “Woooo Riddim,” “Bricks,” and “100 Bags” instrumentals have backed grime freestyles from heavyweights Blacks, P-Money, and Dot Rotten, among others. And while he might not have Luger’s chart positions, the young Sam Gumbley literally just turned 19.

To commemorate his 5,000 Twitter follower (as he did at the 3,000 mark), S-X dropped the 5000 Followers EP for free. Over nine tracks, S-X presents trunk rattlers that owe as much to Girl Unit as they do to Luger. While the tracks are formulaic – S-X combines orchestral strings, rat-a-tat hi-hats and a deep low-end every time – they’re never boring. His synth lines go from trancey and melodic on “Mask” to towering and brutal on “G Shock.”

Along with revised versions of “Bricks” and “100 Bags,” S-X also includes mellow grooves with “Ambience,” “Expensive Talk” and “Guidance.” The best bet for grime freestyles, however, is the very vogue “Swag Bitch Swag.” With beats like these, S-X better ready a 50,000 Followers EP.

Serious Saturdays: Get Rinsed With Roska

A journey across the UK electronic music landscape takes you from the badman bass of grime, through various permutations of dubstep, until you eventually end up at UK funky. The sound combines that last major UK movement, garage, with house, broken beat, and notably soca rhythms into something more dance-friendly than its underground cousins.

The don of the UK funky game, Roska, has taken a similar journey. Born Wayne Goodlitt, Roska began his musical career as a grime MC under the name Mentor in the late 90s. His shift from the mic to the producer’s chair was accompanied by a less aggressive sound and a new alias. As Roska, he first made waves in 2008 with “Feeline” and “Boxed In,” two prototypical UK funky tracks that force you to move.

Roska’s rising profile led to a residency on trendsetting Rinse.FM, just as the (then) pirate radio station shifted its focus to funky. Not only did it expose him to an even larger audience, but Rinse also released Roska’s debut album – the first full length LP on its eponymous label. Rinse Presents Roska is pure UK funky, from the shifty rave-whistles of “Squark” to the silky dancefloor-killer “Love 2 Nite” with vocalist Jamie George.

Last year was a hectic one for the producer. He opened the doors of his Kicks and Snares imprint to new artists like DJ Naughty, J:Kenzo and DJ MA1, and he compiled a 14Tracks collection that is as good as any when it comes to essential UK funky. And after remixing Untold‘s massive “Just For You” in 2009, the duo paired up on bass bangers “Myth” and “Long Range.”

This year’s Jackpot EP pushes the producer forward from funky to the difficult to pin down bass scene. Roska can still pump up an audience with something like “4th Blind Mouse,” but he’s also experimenting with elements of rave, tech and club that we haven’t heard from the South Londoner until now. “Blame the Speakers” is a choatic fist-pumper and “Roskallion” is a take on the dub-bashment of someone like Redlight. Roska has already seen a sea change in the UK electronic music world, and he’s definitely poised for the next one.

Originally posted on the Mishka Bloglin.

Serious Saturdays: Taking It Back With Toddla T

Toddla T is on top of the world. In the last couple of years, he’s obtained both a slot on BBC Radio 1’s In DJs We Trust and a residency at Fabric. So what’s behind Toddla T’s meteoric rise?

Let’s start at the beginning. Toddla T is Tom Bell, a 26-year old from Sheffield, a city in England that has contributed to everything from industrial (Cabaret Voltaire) to new wave (The Human League) to post-punk revival (Artic Monkeys). The Steel City has also been important to electronic music, as the home of the groundbreaking Warp Records and the birthplace of bassline. With that rich musical background in mind, Toddla T’s globe-trotting sound makes a lot more sense.

His stage name is a tribute to his early start: DJing in Sheffield clubs since 14, Toddla focused on music full-time at 16. Originally into hip-hop, he didn’t even like electronic music until going to parties run by Sheffield DJs Winston Hazel and Pipes. Techno, house, and especially dancehall would become the calling cards of Toddla’s sound.

Since 2008s much-hyped mixtape Ghettoblaster #1, Toddla’s mix of dancehall riddims, jump-up rave accents, and wiggly bass has filled playlists across the world. His unique style is on full display on his 2009 debut record, Skanky Skanky, especially on single “Shake It,” where MC Serocee commands the listener to “shake it, shake it / get naked, naked.”

Toddla T kept things moving in 2010, with the hands-in-the-air “Sky Surfing,” featuring vocalist Wayne Marshall. The video for the song shows Toddla’s fun-loving irreverence – a key to what separates him from his more dour counterparts in the bass world.

Toddla has remixed songs by artists as diverse as Hot Chip, Roots Manuva, and Ladyhawke. His finest moment, however, was giving the high-energy treatment to Gyptian‘s reggae anthem “Hold You,” with a little help from Double D on the mic.

His latest album, Watch Me Dance, is Toddla T at his most eclectic. There are plenty of the riddim-and-bass bangers that he’s known for, along with new experiments like the disco-funk title track and the Timbaland-influenced R&B of “Body Good.” The track that you’ll be playing on repeat, though, is the rave-throwback “Take It Back.” Like all of his songs, “Take It Back” is a feel-good jam designed for the dance floor.

Originally posted on the Mishka Bloglin.

Faze Miyake Brings the Dogs to the Trap (via Mishka)

The DJ drop is nothing new, a Pavlovian bell that lets you know who’s behind the boards. These little signals serve as trademarks on a producer’s work: Lex Luger’s metallic drummer boy synth, or Terror Danjah’s gremlin laugh. But rising grime producer Faze Miyake is taking this type of branding to another level, lacing his tracks with a steady stream of barking dogs. Not since DMX have I seen someone so obsessed with canines, but Faze’s Take Off EP (on the appropriately-named Woofer Music) makes it work.

Take Off does just that with a pair of beats that wouldn’t be out of place in the trap house. As of late, the title track has been the instrumental of choice for grime spitters; Boy Better Know laid it down viciously on Rinse. Its raucous horn melody and boom-bap rhythm make this a perfect track for war. “Bawse” continues in the same vein, adding machine gun hi-hats and dramatic sweeps to a slab of trap hop (Frisco and Skepta got their boss on over this one).

Faze hasn’t forgotten about the club, either, dropping a few tracks with their fair share of rave influences. “Jump” rides break beats and scratches; “Blackberry” wobbles with diva-ish cooing. Before closing the EP with a dubstep remix of “Bawse,” Faze includes the unrelenting “Screwdriver V.I.P.” And the barking continues.

In grime, the symbiosis between beatmakers and MCs is self-evident: the grimiest beat still needs some verbal venom on top of it, and vice versa. Take Off is incomplete in that sense, but it’s clear that Faze Miyake is a producer to keep an eye on. These tracks don’t just bark – they bite hard.

Originally posted on the Mishka Bloglin.