In the midst of getting ready for the event, which 200 Words has so proudly promoted with an ad, with among others Ifan Dafydd, Bodhi & Änimal, I see Nicolaas Jaar dropping a new track: probably one of the most perfect songs for getting ready for nights like this. The funny thing about releasing a song for free today is the fact that it’s Black Friday, the day on which all stores in the US sell everything cheaper. Though cheap and free usually doesn’t bring you quality, Nicolas Jaar always does. The Ego features a monologue by Theater Roosevelt, which sound like election soundbites filtered so that it sounds like Jamaican. For example: Jaar chopped up someone saying “the economy” and made it sound like someone saying “The Ego”
For me the part featuring Theater Roosevelt was quite rough to get through at first, but once you get used to it and start to hear the beat and synth underlying it’s a fun addition. With The Ego Nicolas Jaar shows precisely why he is considered one of the most forward thinking electronic music producers out there, combining a beautiful synth progression with low percussion, a simple but highly effective bassline and of course Theater Roosevelt’r, or -as he is also called- Teddy’s Ghost’s monologue.
One of the game-changing albums in the past few months has been Chromatics’ ‘Kill For Love’. It’s an album of which all tracks seem to build a story together and all songs are almost equally good, which doesn’t happen too often. Sometimes when listening to ‘Kill For Love’ it felt like it could easily have been one long and beautiful song, like Sufjan Stevens’ Impossible Soul for example. Now the formation led by mastermind Johnny Jewel is busy touring with those beautiful songs and the frontman still found the time for something I hadn’t seen coming: a free mixtape of songs that didn’t make the album and alternative versions of album-tracks. Yes, you heard that right. A combination between an album and one long song: a mixtape where every song fades into the next one.
The night after playing in Amsterdam’s Paradiso Johnny Jewel uploaded the ‘Running From The Sun’ mixtape and it is as I’d hoped and secretly expected. The mixtape sounds like a more stripped down take on the album and all tracks evoke an emotion similar, though less energetic, as the emotion evoked by ‘Kill For Love’. You can download the mixtape here and check the tracklisting and Johnny Jewel’s accompanying notes here.
I’m noticing a shift in the music scene, in the major label scene to be precise. They are finally starting to realize that great singers need forward-thinking producers to turn their music into something special. This is something that smaller labels realized earlier and it’s a good thing major labels like Sony and Universal are starting to acknowledge it too, with releases by the likes of Jessie Ware and Charli XCX, creating forward-thinking pop music. An artists that awaits a similar successful future as say Jessie Ware, or at least that’s what I’d expect, is Mikky Ekko. His most recent output, the single Pull Me Down, is a collaboration with Clams Casino, a producer that is basically known for his forward-thinking-ness.
Besides being forward-thinking Clams is a master of ethereal beats and the combination of his production and Mikky Ekko’s voice sounds like a match made in heaven. Somehow, somewhere deep down inside Pull Me Down reminds me of the equally ethereal and quite poppy Coldplay song Lost in a way, a good way. Alongside Clams Casino, Paul Epworth and Dave Sitek will be handling the production for Mikky’s album that will be released in 2013. Be sure to grab the download of the single on Ekko’s SoundCloud.
Disco is an interesting field nowadays with outputs by the likes of Todd Terje and Ed Banger’s Breakbot. One of the other names well known in the disco field is RAC, a trio that’s most notorious for it’s reliably awesome remixes. The trio was started in 2008 and the Portland-based team has produced over 180, yes 180, tracks in the past years, of which almost all are of great quality. This time they got a request from one of my favorite singers of the moment, Mayer Hawthorne, who released his sophomore ‘How Do You Do’ a while back and just released his remix EP for that.
Hawthorne’s songs are incredibly soulful, mostly sung in falsetto and very old-school, but RAC gave No Strings their signature style twist by adding an amazing amount of funk to make it ready for the dance floor. They have added a funky bass-line while leaving most of Hawthorne’s vocals and the original brass riffs intact. Just like approximately eighty percent of the remixes RAC produces, RAC’s remix of No Strings is incredibly awesome and very danceable. Be sure to check out the other remixes of the ‘How Do You Remixes’ EP as well as soon and grab this one for free.
UK-beatmaker Lapalux is working on his highly anticipated second EP which will be released on Brainfeeder just like ‘When You’re Gone’. A few weeks back Stuart Howard, as his passport shows, already shared The Hours, a track that won’t be on his EP but does show the direction he’s heading. Forgetting and Learning Again will be on his EP and is it’s first single, featuring vocalist Kerry Leatham.
Forgetting and Learning Again starts of with a beautiful slow strings and humming filled beat and features a heavy drop around the 2:30 mark. You can surely hear Lapalux’s ear for detail throughout the length of this track, with small twinkling synth effects, filtered piano-playing and incredibly well recorded and well sung vocals. For what I’ve heard, I imagine his new EP being at least as good as ‘When You’re Gone’, filled with beautiful texture and interesting bass-heavy beats. Though it is part of his new EP which still needs to be released, Lapalux decided to put in a free download link and I can only thank him for that. Howard’s new EP, including Forgetting and Learning Again, will be released on FlyLo’s imprint Brainfeeder on the 16th of October.