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Album Review> Daedelus' Bespoke is a Mess of Pop and Noise

Daedelus deserves credit for his influence on the LA beat scene and album after album of truly original music. But…

Image credit: Ninja Tune

Bespoke ventures a bit too far into unconventionality. When it comes to pure listening experience, the record doesn’t satisfy, though everybody’s giving Daedelus props for collaborating with different vocalists and theming his album with the concept of tailored suits.

While those two elements are interesting, the songs themselves are the most muddled collection of tracks he’s come out with. Daedelus’ started in the vein of abstract hip hop and jazz and has moved onto avenues of abstract everything else.

As time passes and albums drop, his music becomes more of a challenge to listen to. That’s a good thing, but Bespoke is one step too far.

Daedelus has always had a skill for putting a few dissonant sounds together and making them into a hot loop (for example, this gem). Sometimes it’s more hip hop oriented, sometimes it’s more jazzy, and this time, it’s more pop; dance beats, repetitive parts, and vocals all over the place. There are mismatched sounds played at the same time, but instead of a charming, delicate balance, it sounds like he’s playing every sound he tested for the loop at once without regard for which ones work and which ones don’t.

There’s simply too much going on for this to be an enjoyable listen.

It’s true that sometimes records that bewilder in the present are ahead of their time, and five years from now Bespoke may be revered as a groundbreaking record. But for now, stick to listening to Daedelus’ Invention and Rethinking The Weather, and put Bespoke somewhere where you can find it a little while from now.

[April 26, 2011; Ninja Tune]
Order directly from Ninja Tune.


Written by M

April 4, 2011 at 2:58 pm

Posted in Music, Reviews

Tagged with ,

Album Review> New York Dubstep Crew Sub Swara Reloads, Pulls Triggers

Sub Swara drops another edition of their South Asian infused dubstep. This time the duo of Dhruva Ganesan and Dave Sharma ventures into other beat styles often within the same track. Their new album Triggers is an experimental permutation of the straightforward style introduced by the New York crew on their debut Coup d’Yah. On Triggers, the crunk, easy flow of dubstep frequently meets four-to-the-floor beats, tribal rhythms, and features guest MCs flowing over glitch hop, a trend that seems to be catching on.

sub swara, dubstep, bhangra, lyrics born, antibalas, dead prez

Subswara's 2nd album, Triggers

The record opens with something different; a dubstep beat in 3/4 time, sounding dance-y at first but turning out to be headphone music upon closer inspection. This theme carries throughout Triggers. Sub Swara’s production style has palpably matured since their last release and there is more food for thought on this one.

The hip hop element becomes apparent quick, with the boom bap and compounded snare of “October,” immediately followed by a collaboration with Dead Prez, “Speak My Language.” Classically gritty rhymes meet jarring synth-bass to create an effective blend of the two styles.

“Bend You” and “Vagabond Knowledge” each follow the dubstep tempo into quicker beats, slow transitions leading into two-step swing. Immediately following is a track with up-and-comer Freddie Mills laying down two short verses the beat could have done without. His sparse flow does little to bless the hard-hitting, layered chaos of the track.

The most notable MC feature on the album is “Fire It Up” with Lyrics Born. One wonders how Quannum’s soulful, sing-songy rapper will fare over a new school beat, but his adaptable style delivers perfectly. Another bold collaboration is “Bird of Paradise,” bringing part of Antibalas’ horn section in on a track. The result is something like Sub Swara’s remix of “Balkumbia” by Balkan Beat Box, albeit a little less spastic.

Beneath the guest appearances, Sub Swara’s production is growing more sophisticated, yet retains a raw edge with buzz saw melodies and big, compounded drum sounds. The creative chances they take on Triggers more than pay off, pushing dubstep in new directions.

Triggers is out now. Sub Swara has also dropped little bonus mixtape in conjunction with this release.

PS. Any production nerd who digs this will want to mess around with the bits and pieces in the Triggers Sound Library that comes with the album.

Want to hear the album? Stream Triggers right here:

Check out the making of the Triggers album:

Written by M

November 10, 2010 at 6:02 pm

Album Review> UK Producer Tipper’s Broken Soul Jamboree

These days, the UK blows through club beat trends like so many pairs of dirty knickers. Yesterdays jungle beats get tossed out for today’s broken beats, and so forth. Transcending the club scene is Tipper, a UK producer who simply puts out what he thinks is good on his own imprint, regardless of what every other DJ is playing. His independence in production and distribution are the two prongs of Tipper’s self-imposed carte blanche, making each album a journey into his methodical yet positively tripping head. His newest release Broken Soul Jamboree is a brand new trip.

breakbeat, idm, uk, dubstep, trip hop

Tipper releases another record that will wow production junkies. Photo credit: Tippermusic

Some of the low and farty bass tones from his previous release Wobble Factor are present here, but are not nearly as accentuated. Tipper has traded much of the low end for melodic bell and string sequences similar to those heard on 2003’s Surrounded. The melodies are produced with more maturity this time around, falling in with Tipper’s habit of raising the technical bar for himself with every release. He continues to move toward using varied and sparsely occurring sounds to weave together harmonies, a technique mastered and pioneered by Aphex Twin, as exemplified on 1996’s IDM staple Richard D. James Album.

Every Tipper album has a personality, and this one encompasses deep emotion. In the same way that DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing conveys speechless sadness and hope through sample layering, Broken Soul Jamboree tugs at the heartstrings with synthetically rooted sounds masterfully molded into Tipper’s collection of organic sounding instruments. Sequenced tablas and droning, ambient sitars appear on “Brocken Spectre” and the producer rehashes some of his old orchestral sounds on “Tit for tat”, one of several tracks that gives up classic 4/4 time for 3/4 rhythms. The varied meters begin to slow down toward the end of the record, with jazz beats timidly driving “Reality Harshness Defender” and “Royal Dragon Sir”. For the last two tracks, Tipper descends into unique takes on gamelan drums, each manifesting in a beat that is classically and undeniably his own; down-tempo with some seriously compounded snare sounds.

It’s fun to follow the career of a maturing artist, and most sticklers for technical production would have called Tipper a master four albums ago. That’s what makes it such a pleasure to hear a Tipper album in its entirety for the first time; he’s constantly pulling out new tricks and applying them cleanly to rock solid technique. Broken Soul Jamboree will remain his finest work until his next album comes out.

Broken Soul Jamboree
[November 15th, 2011, Tipper Music]
Order from Tippermusic.

Written by M

November 3, 2010 at 4:38 pm