First making waves with the almost cult level ‘Hype Williams’ project, and then more recently solo and as part of the group Babyfather, the new 8 track LP sees Dean Blunt step back into the shadowy role of producer for a new band called Blue Iverson.
It’s a vibesey one, this; digging a vein of smoke-hazed living/bedroom feels in eight parts that could almost be passed off as a Dam-Funk jam. Well, almost, but there’s still something off kilter and economical about the fidelity and mixing of the recording that hints it’s from the UK, or is even made to sound like the private pressed soul obscurities picked out by PPU.
Hotep strongly reminds of those lush soul bits from Yves Tumor’s Serpent Music or even selected Letherette cuts released on Alex Nut’s namesake label. The image of Lauryn Hill on the sleeve is a cherry on the cake.
Kutmah (pronounced koot/mah) will release his long overdue debut album “The Revenge Of Black Belly Button!” (or TROBBB!) via Big Dada on 28th July 2017. The record features an incredible cast of guests – Gonjasufi, Jonwayne, Natureboy Flako, Ta’Raach, Jeremiah Jae, Zeroh, Zackey Force Funk, N8NOFACE, Sach, Akello G Light and DJ Chris P Cuts – spanning experimental meditative, Zennist loops; crackly oddball beats and abstract raps; as far as outright punk/noise and even folk/blues. At its heart it’s an incredibly sentimental record, heavily referential to his past but also future-facing, and not just in its sonics. “I wanted to make a record for loners. You know some records have that ‘Hey! I’m at a festival!’ sound? Well I wanted to do the opposite of that,” he laughs.
It’s fitting that the album arrives via Big Dada – a label that helped shape his vision. “Big Dada started the same year I started DJing. Not DJing in clubs or making tapes. Literally when I first touched turntables,” he explains. “I knew I had to find that other type of music to fit where my head was at. Leftfield beats and abstract rhymes were what I was looking for and alongside Jazz Fudge, Mo Wax, Asphodel and Fondle ‘Em, Big Dada was what I was digging.”
Kutmah is a mercurial creative whether you’re talking art or music. As a DJ/curator, he has tirelessly searched for and championed new underground talent from across the globe. His passion, hunger and most importantly, his incredible ear for new music have made him Flying Lotus’ go-to warm-up DJ and also earned him the honour of compiling an album – “Kutmah presents Worldwide Family Vol.2” – for Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Recordings in 2012. It brought to the fore Kutmah’s gift for A&R, cemented when he founded his own label IZWID in 2013.
Justin McNulty was born in Brighton, England to an Egyptian mother and Scottish father. He moved to the United States when he was 12 years old and grew up in Los Angeles, California. In 2004 he co-founded the now legendary Sketchbook Sessions at Little Temple alongside Take, Eric Coleman (Mochilla) and DJ Nobody (Low End Theory). It was LA’s first instrumental beats and art night, and it paved the way for the city’s inimitable musical renaissance. The sonics and spirit are encapsulated in Kutmah’s monthly Sketchbook radio broadcast on NTS – now in its sixth year.
On 29th July 2010 Justin was deported from the US for 10 years. He spent 3 months in a detention centre in New Mexico before being flown to the UK. He lived in Manchester and London before relocating to Berlin in 2016.
“Everytime I play, I feel I’m planting seeds,” he muses, in relation to his move to Europe and his role as an albeit unofficial ambassador for LA’s blossoming beat movement. “The funny thing is I was an outcast even when I was in LA. Dancefloors weren’t really ready if I’m honest. People were still heavily into classic 90’s hip-hop, so they weren’t ready for some gnarly beats. I started DJing so late that there was no way I was going to get a reputation playing 90’s hip-hop – we already had DJs for that.”
The album was recorded in Berlin in Winter. Being in a foreign country around the holidays when one is supposed to be with family… that emotion of isolation weighed heavy on Justin: “For three weeks during this time I didn’t speak to a single person… I had no internet and no phone.” Accordingly, half of the record fits this season and these emotions. In Spring the sun came out and the flowers were blooming: “I started to cheer up a bit and so did the beats,” says Justin. “I like that there are polar opposite vibes on the record. Hopefully I’ll hear from some punk kid that they only like Part One, or from some hip-hop head that they only like Part Two… or some beat head saying they only like the instrumentals,” he laughs.
Close friend Dario Rojo Guerra (aka Natureboy Flako) played a key role in piecing the album together with Justin, acting as engineer and occasionally producer, in addition to providing a set of trusted ears. “Flako is the real MVP of the album,” affirms Justin. “I couldn’t imagine what the record would have sounded like without his input.” The album was mastered by Kelly Hibbert (AlmaChrome) who counts J Dilla’s “Ruff Draft” and Madlib’s “WLIB AM: King Of The Wigflip” in his discography – two massively influential and inspirational records in Kutmah’s musical DNA.
There’s a definite sense of contemplation and memory with “TROBBB!”. The title is a reference to Justin’s school days in Brighton. He would go to Egypt to visit family in the summer holidays and come back to school suitably tanned. One bully took to calling him Black Belly Button until one day Justin took retribution with his fists. The cover photo, taken by Justin himself is in itself highly symbolic: “It’s my homegirl Angela at lunch break at Hoover High in Glendale around 1992. We would always try to go where no dickheads were hanging out, so we would go chill by the bleachers and take photos of each other.” It was one of the only possessions that survived a house fire in 2007. “If you look at the right corner of the photo you can see the residue from the fire,” he says. “Having this be one of the few things that made it through the fire that was going to burn me alive if I didn’t wake up in time to rescue my housemate and jump out the window in our fucking underwear made the photo even more special, so I had to use it for my debut album.”
“The relationship between music and technology is always evolving … but true music can not exist without a soul. Some extraordinary musicians augment their natural talents with technology, adopting its benefits to fuel their own singular vision, and that is the basis of Deantoni Parks’ debut album Technoself.
Parks is one of the finest drummers working today, displaying a sleek and intuitive balance between raw rhythmic physicality and machine-like precision. He can play on one hand what many great drummers could not achieve with two – which he does frequently. His skills have seen him perform with artists such as John Cale, Sade, The Mars Volta, Flying Lotus and his own boundary-pushing group KUDU, among others. Notable collaborations aside, Parks is an artist in his own right, constantly in motion and expanding towards something new.
On Technoself, you hear Parks totally in control. Three of the tracks were recorded live in a session at Dub Lab, the others in a studio. In his own words, “The sound result of Technoself is a digestion of sounds being refined, filtered, and re-arranged in the time period of the average thought.” There are no overdubs or loops on this record. The sound is that of “segmented, split-second curated soundscapes atop a highway of refined, war-drum rhythms.” The album plays out like a percussive crash course winding through Parks’ diverse influences and moods, where the only constant is Deantoni’s unmistakable sense of movement. In this case, the most important piece of technology turns out to be the human body.”
A1Black Axioms 6:14
A2 Our Shadows 2:42
A3 Down 2:54
A4 Graphite 2:58
A5 Ashes 4:21
B1 Methodist 4:29
B2 Automatic 2:33
B3 Pebble 3:10
B4 Fosse In The Grass 4:46
B5 Bombay 3:28
B6 Orbis Magnus 4:26
A2 Vry Blk
Featuring – Noname (18)
Featuring – Lorine Chia
A7 In My Name
A8 Assata’s Daughters
A9 Blk Girl Soldier
Featuring – Chance The Rapper
B1 Emerald Street
Featuring – Saba (14)
B3 Always Loving
Featuring – Nico Segal
B6 Good Morning
B8 Way Up
B9 Holy (Reprise)
A1 CCCLX – I (Curtain
A2 Tha Doorz
A3 Drop Down
B1 CCCLX II (Intermission)
B3 CCCLX III (Costume)
B5 CCCLX IV (Black Out)
“The first vinyl album release on Rabit’s Halcyon Veil label comes from Vancouver’s Will Ballantyne aka City; offering a mercurial set of metal experiments with caustic, vaporized trance riffs emulating upward motion and weightless dynamics. Highly recommended if you’e into Lorenzo Senni, Logos, Rabit or Croww…”
A1 Provinces 1:28
A2 Your Stream 2:36
A3 Pain Power 4:2
A4 End Zone 3:00
A5 Mutual Life 2:12
B1 Inevitable 3:33
B2 The Good Soldier 2:04
B3 Of One Kind 3:18
B4 Ffaith 2:38
B5 SAR 7:03
B6 Immaculate 3:35
“CID RIM is Clemens Bacher: writer, producer & drummer from Vienna. Old friends with Dorian Concept and The Clonious, and co-head of Affine Records. Clemens has championed a hybrid stream of new electronic music from Austria which blends influences of hard bop, krautrock, the beat scene & electronica. A post-post-modern form that still denies simple category.”
AA Smoke Break
Gaika follows thru on Warp with electronica hooks and trap beat buoying his autotune vox on CHOP, before putting a UK styled acid- prefix on psychier ATL styles with SMOKE BREAK.
Princess Nokia – aka New York rapper Destiny Frasqueri – has been releasing music via Youtube and Soundcloud since she was in High School, and slowly bubbling up on the internet, garnering a rabid fanbase. Last year, with the self-release of her 1992 mixtape, she catapulted herself to the next level, solidifying her position as one to watch. Since its release, she’s toured the world over, selling out various venues across the globe in mere days, and racked up literally millions of views/listens on her tracks. She is not only a brilliant rapper & lyricist but a feminist icon who is unapologetically herself, and aligns equally with the values of punk rock and riot grrl, ‘90s R&B, and the best of forward-thinking hip-hop. This is powerful, passionate, outspoken, vibrant modern music with deep roots in both NYC and rap history.
Atrocity Exhibition is one of the freshest and boldest-sounding rap albums in recent memory, a sonic swirl inspired by the work of Talking Heads and Joy Division that nonetheless sounds like nothing else from the past or present. Featuring contributions from producers like Evian Christ, Petite Noir (who also lends vocals to the world-weary clang of “Rolling Stone”), Black Milk, the Alchemist and frequent collaborator Paul White, the album is full of laser-beam guitars, gym-teacher whistles, creaking vocal samples, and air-raid drones. It is the most intriguing take on hallucinatory rap since the heady heights of Cold Vein or Madvillainy.
Known for his wide range of collaborations, including everyone from Purity Ring, the Avalanches and Rustie to Schoolboy Q, E-40, and Ghostface Killah, Atrocity Exhibition sees a continuation of this carefully curated mix. Kelela lends her snaking vocals to the intriguingly murky “From the Ground,” Cypress Hill’s B-Real delivers “Get Hi”’s languid hook, and Earl Sweatshirt, Kendrick Lamar, and Ab-Soul all convene for the twinkling ominousness of album standout “Really Doe.” “When XXX came out, all of us were peers, and those were the three rappers who were the best,” Brown explains on having the star-packed trio appear on the track. “I felt like we were competitors, they made me want to step my game up. I wanted to put the hottest rappers in the game on there.”
This album is a highly personal take on Brown’s ruminations on life and the changes that have occurred -and those that didn’t – following the ups and downs of career success. Atrocity Exhibition makes for a thrilling third installment in the Danny Brown biopic, one not to be missed.
Music from the young Joshua Leary has been sporadic since he emerged on a wave of YouTube hype at the tail end of 2011, with only the Kings and Them mixtape and this year’s one-sided Duga-3release on Record Store Day, but given he received a production credit on Kanye West’s Yeezus album last year his relative silence can be forgiven. As such the Waterfall EP represents perhaps Leary’s first proper release, and it shows that he has come a long way since the early days of his career. Containing four tracks that bridge the gap between jungle, hip hop and ambient music, Waterfall is both delicate and savage in equal measure, especially on the closing title track, where plaintive piano and semi-automatic snares collide to thrilling effect.