I think we’ll find this to be Tobacco’s defining record. Maniac Meat, the latest full-length from Black Moth Super Rainbow vocoder addict Tom Fec a.k.a. Tobacco is very much, and finally so, his record. 2008’s Fucked Up Friends was, to be fair/hyperbolic, something like a slightly noisier Dandelion Gum with hip hop beats. We saw BMSR’s reaction to that, a cleaner, poppier record in 2009. And Tobacco took his solo work and went the exact opposite direction. What we get is a bold, powerful, batshit insane record.

We’re greeted with that warm familiarity of beehive bass and vocoder lyrics about berries, maybe enough to be lulled into anticipation of the expected.  And then a refreshing pound of thunder-clap cymbals and huge synth leads bursts like a gunshot into the mix. Beck’s guest appearances are skillfully and artfully done; his glitchy, scampering, nonsensical vocals on “Fresh Hex” make the track. Hell, they make the track, barely two minutes in length, one of the catchiest I’ve heard in a while. The almost mockingly seventies/eighties electronica aesthetics work even better (see “Creepy Phone Calls,” “Six Royal Vipers,” “Stretch Your Face). The loose racetrack sweeps of “Lick the Witch,” the fuzzed-out, wobbling synth of “Motorlicker” represent a shade of something fresh. “Sweatmother” with its overdriven tones and snarlingly vocoded bray sounds to me like the soundtrack to the funkiest rape scene ever. I’m not saying Tobacco’s reinvented the wheel here, merely he’s gotten a lot close to perfecting his sound. And in the process, he’s made one of the most satisfying and compelling electronic records of the year.

-Brian S

Tobacco – Sweatmother by Hypetrak

Buy it here

Alright, here it is. The first album of 2K10 that I just fell instantly and hopelessly in love with. The one where the sounds just hit that sweet spot so perfectly that listening to anything else, even time-honored favorites, leave you with nothing but a bigger jones for this new young pony. Baths is the project of one SoCal producer named Will Weisenfield, who marries ecstatic melodies and emotional sentiment with abstract hip-hop better than anyone since Bibio dropped Ambivalence Avenue last year. Seeing how that record hasn’t really left my rotation since I first heard it 10 months or so ago, I was beyond stoked to find someone up to the same tricks.

Much like Bibio, Will’s not afraid to use his own voice to put a fingerprint on these songs (and that’s what they are- not tracks, songs). His faux-funk falsetto on ‘Lovely Bloodflow’ might seem odd and silly at first, but taking into account the delicate lyrics and sparse, melancholy instrumental reveal that it and all of the other idiosyncrasies and personal inflections that make this more than just great beats and cool instrumentation (not to say that this record lacks either of those things at all). Baths also makes effective use of spoken word samples, mostly from women and children, to further exhibit the human element that can still be found in this electronic, “point-and-click” music if the artist is willing to put it there and sophisticated enough to pull it off without cheese. After enough repeated listens, they almost become characters within the song, and once you get to know the structure, you anticipate their arrival and contribution.

The albums arguable highlight is the least hip-hop influenced of them all. ‘Rain Smell’, with its percussion that consists of barely more than fading a noise signal in and out over handclaps while a lonely piano figure plays in some other room in some other house in that neighborhood you moved out of years ago. There’s just something really fucking affecting about it, and I still haven’t really figured out what the lyrics Will repeats over and over for almost six minutes. It hits me hard. It’s beautiful. Being able to capture this much feeling inside a machine shouldn’t be possible.

This couldn’t have come at a better time. The sun is shining (well, not right now in Chicago actually), birds are singing, leaves are appearing, and these wonderful, catchy, warm, upbeat, vulnerable, funny, and truly forward-thinking songs are pouring out of my speakers for hours on repeat. It’s about as much as you could ask for.

For Fans Of: Bibio, Toro Y Moi, Flying Lotus, Keaver & Brause

MySpace

Brian B.

FINAL EDIT: Corrected the final album title and art, and took down the link because a.) it was incomplete and b.) because this is damn good and I really really really want people to buy it when it drops in June on Anticon. Some of the best songs are on the MySpace so go listen there.

It always makes me feel a little stupid when someone younger than I am is releasing dope music, but that feeling’s easy to get over when the product is this good. 19 year old L.A. native Shlohmo never strays too far from the woozy blueprint established by his neighbors in the Brainfeeder and Alphapup camps, but his decidedly more ‘bedroom’ approach makes his ability to hang with those producers all that much more impressive. According to an interview I read while taking this in, most of the sounds were either cheaply recorded found sounds or old synths ghetto rigged to a laptop, which were then chopped and edited into these stumbling, glitchy jams. Standout ‘Hotboxing the Cockpit’, which has already gained the ear of Pitchfork and XLR8R, layers cascading, Joker-esque 8-bit synths over some molasses thick bass, avian field recordings and that classic Los Angeles swerve.  This digital-only deluxe edition also comes with a slew of remixes, including one from Brainfeeder’s Tokimonsta. Pick this one up and hear how LA’s future-hop scene continues to flourish and thrive.

Standout tracks: ‘Hotboxing The Cockpit’, ‘Spoons’

For Fans Of: Flying Lotus, Joker, Nosaj Thing, Rustie

Buy

Brian B.

UK production duo Keaver & Brause first came to my attention with their remix of Bibio’s Fire Ant on that artists’ The Apple And The Tooth EP. I picked up pretty much everything by the producers involved with that EP, but Keaver & Brause’s The Middle Way hooked me like none of the others could. If you discovered K&B through Bibio the way I did, you’ll find a lot in common with the way Bibio and K&B take quaint, organic samples and rig them into bangers. The pace and tempo of this album makes it great, with the anthems and the quieter passages melting into each other perfectly. The Middle Way explores what happens when you take the time-honored method of vintage hip-hop sampling into more arboreal regions of sound, and the result is a relaxing, groove-filled excursion.

For Fans Of: Bibio, Four Tet, Flying Lotus, Dabrye

Buy @ Boomkat

Brian B.

First there were jazz bands, doing unlikely covers of songs of every genre, then DJs, chopping up tracks manually with turntables. Samplers brought us into an era of “techno remixes” but those were garbage. The digital age has brought us the classic “mash-up” throwing two or more songs together to make a new creation. This can be a career maker for you if you do it right (see DJ Danger Mouse), but most of the time a concept that has high hopes can maybe produce one good track, and the rest of an album is a stretch. Montreal based producer Tor took up an interesting project by putting great rap tracks over top of beats composed of Sufjan Stevens samples. My girlfriend sent this to me originally, and it kind of sat in my iTunes…bugging me…until i happened to turn it on…what could he have done with my Sufjan?! Well, Tor has done it properly. He tastefully blended the soft style of Sufjan Stevens and his multi-instrumental creations and soft subtle beats to make an impressive backdrop for his rap tracks. My favorite track, the opener featuring Aesop Rock even has dabbles of Sufjan’s voice in the chorus to counter the harsh lyrics of Aesop. Overall this is a great listen, and the instrumental versions provided serve as an audition, hopefully, for some of the rappers featured to throw some production business Tor’s way.
Love them or hate them, and note my careful choice to leave Girl Talk out of this discussion, mash-ups serve a purpose in music. They serve as a launching pad for fledgling producers (no offense, Tor) but mostly they prove to lame white guys like me that hip hop can be a wonderful thing if it is done properly. Generally, rappers are so focused on their rapping that they stick a half assed beat behind it and call it a day, but if someone cares enough for the backing music, then the product quality increases exponentially.

Dave

XLR8R Magazine posted this wonderful mix by Nosaj Thing a few weeks ago. Plenty of incredible, unreleased stuff in here from LA’s top producers (Flying Lotus, Daedalus, Ras G, and Nosaj himself), proving why Los Angeles’ trademark glitch/future-hop is rapidly making it the center of progressive electronic music.

tracklisting

  1. Teebs – My Whole World
  2. Flying Lotus – Unreleased
  3. Free The Robots – La Lune
  4. Tokimonsta – Doing It My Way
  5. Exile – Summer Sun (Take rmx)
  6. The Gaslamp Killer – Anything Worse
  7. Ras G – Disco 4000
  8. Daedalus – LA Nocturn
  9. Samiyam – My Buddy
  10. Kab & Tully – Unreleased
  11. Teebs – Unreleased
  12. Nosaj Thing – Us
  13. Flying Lotus – Camel (Nosaj Thing rmx)
  14. Nosaj Thing – Ice Cube Remix

>>> Download from XLR8R.com

Brian B.

Chicago’s best masher-uppers are back with the fourth installment of their free mixtape series. As with any series of mashups, there are a few misses (Drake vs. The Rapture fails particularly hard), but this is definitely their most consistent collection to date. Bringing together the best of the indie/electro and hip-hop worlds, the Hood always bring party. Best mashes: Passion Pit vs. Juvenile, OJ Da Juiceman ft. Gucci Mane vs. Discovery, Michael Jackson vs. Ratatat. Get it!

– Brian

Somehow, some way, it’s taken me this long to finally check out the work of Ninja Tune producer Blockhead. I’ve been missing out on an entire decade of classically grounded yet forward thinking instrumental hip-hop, as well as production work with some of the best MCs of the past few years, including Aesop Rock. I’ve heard few records with such an organic, layered depth of sample work; gorgeous orchestral swells tangle with rambling jazz, while old, distorted soul samples soar over Hendrix-like guitar solos, all of which unfold over Block’s massive, vintage-sounding percussion. Each beat demands to be picked apart, its layers explored and scrutinized. Your head won’t stop bobbing, and your ears won’t stop thanking you.

This edition also includes five bonus Aesop Rock instrumentals produced by Blockhead, including ‘Daylight’.

UK electronic label Hyperdub has compiled new and classic works from some of the best producers of left-field electronica today on this massive compilation. 5‘s first disc contains brand-new cuts from front runners such as Burial, Zomby, Flying Lotus and Samiyam, while the second disc compiles some new classics from the young and thriving dubstep, UK funky, and abstract hip-hop scenes that Hyperdub artists have been writing the rules for. The artists within are those defining electronic music in 2009, twisting the bass and synths of the club and the rhythms of hip-hop, reggae, and dub into decidedly more sinister, off-kilter, and futuristic compositions. Read the rest of this entry »

Oh No has some pretty serious family ties to live up to. You would too if your older brother was none other than legendary Stones Throw producer Madlib.

Oh No’s debut release, Exodus Into Unheard Rhythms, showed that younger Oh No was able to stand nearly as tall as his brother, if not very far away from him. By only sampling the work of Canadian composer Galt MacDermot and featuring a line of Stones Throw mainstays such as Aloe Blacc, he made a solid, if not particularly unique statement.

In 2007, Oh No came back with the release of Dr. No’s Experiment. Instead of the cut-up soul and funk samples that had become second nature, Oh No found a different muse in the music of mid-20th century Mediterranean folk, rock, and funk. Oh No flexes his ear for obscure quality over the course of 28 instrumental tracks, most not lasting over a minute and a half. Despite this seemingly schizophrenic format, Dr. No’s Experiment demands to be listened to as a whole, as the exotic sounds and sweltering Mid-East samples playing off of each other tie everything together. Deep, fuzzy basses and drums mixed with the scratchy riffs and smooth, distant funk make for a perfect album for those dog days of summer.