David Kennedy usually powers his techno project, Pearson Sound, with funky, polyrhythmic percussion. However, his last release, 2017’s Robin Chasing Butterflies EP, found him at his most weightless and exacting—the murky “Eels” featured little more than a low-frequency rumble and eerie scratches, while the EP’s title track was a ricocheting, off-kilter electro groove. On his most recent track, “Pearls”—commissioned for the AUS Music label showcase mix Inside-Out—Kennedy splits the difference between experimentalism and dance floor appeal.
“Pearls” follows a straighter path than many of Pearson Sound’s tracks; the beat builds slowly and steadily, anchored by a muted clap. It’s modest and unfussy, never quite reaching the boisterous climax that feels like it’s lurking right around the corner. When the rolling 808 bass drum meets the gliding, G-funk-style bassline, “Pearls” feels closer to chrome-plated hip-hop than any familiar sort of techno. With its restrained intensity, “Pearls” maintains a low simmer, packing a punch without being pushed to extremes.
More Time Records was easily one of 2017’s most exciting new labels, treating us to music from the likes of Zed Bias, Mina, Bryte, Cardinal Sound and label co-founders Ahadadream and SNØW. Keeping their hot streak firmly in the red, the next release on More Time is a debut for London-based Trinidadian producer/vocalist Blasé Vanguard. His exciting AA-side has already been receiving heavy support from Toddla T, Benji B and Swing Ting, so you just know it’s gonna be good.
We’re premiering ‘Dahlin’’ – a heady concoction of soca and UK funky but married with the heads-down, rain-stricken introspection of early dubstep. Accordingly, the latter part of the track features Vanguard’s own vocals hanging mournfully in the background. The whole thing bubbles with tension but never quite spills over, showcasing a strange hybrid sound which is low-key but undeniably effective. Keep an eye out for Blasé Vanguard this year.
The Los Angeles-based, Baltimore-repping rapper/producer JPEGMAFIA is a noise-rap riot starter and master troll. His productions are incendiary and in-your-face, and he tags his songs on streaming services with made-up genres like “ghost pop” and “right wing trap.” Hell, he has an album called Communist Slow Jams. Earning a reputation as a provocateur can be detrimental to a young artist’s craft, but JPEG seems keen on living up to his attention-grabbing antics with equally explosive music. “Baby I’m Bleeding,” a standout on his latest album, Veteran, isn’t as raucous as much of his previous work, mixing elements of Baltimore club music with lo-fi boom bap drums—but it is just as subversive.
“Baby I’m Bleeding” plays like outright assault, building to its howling finish. JPEG’s vitriolic raps take aim at anyone in firing range, while all the while he’s “laughing at these SoundCloud niggas trying to be us.” The glitchy beat skips as he carefully measures each boast and threat. One benefit of having waded through so much noise in his past work is that his voice cuts through anything, always front and center, and here, his lines land like punches: “Strapped with a Kimber/All you yuppie purses getting swiped like Tinder/Now I’m at the White House/Looking for your President/Hop out the van pointing guns at your residence.” As he chastises dudes who align themselves with abusers and promises to “never go blonde like Kanye,” it’s obvious his disruptions are more than gimmickry; they’re bracing and impactful.
Describing their new album Gate 13 as a “portal into something progressive, futuristic, and fun”, eminent hip-hop Del the Funky Homosapian and Amp Live have recorded 16 tracks and brought in collaborators such as Goapele, Eligh, Simi, Zyme, Adult Karate, Mr. Micro, and James Melo to make the album, out on 20th April, a mix of hip-hop, funk and electronica.
To prepare for the album, Del studied comedy and battle rap. “I’m trying to be more concise with my writing and my art in general. I told Amp about it, and he kind of showed me what his interpretation of that would be. When I heard it, I thought it was tight. I didn’t even know he was going to do it,” he says. “Del has been talking about doing more straightforward, aggressive writing,” adds Amp. “Everything that I was messing with kind of had the same theme,” he says of the tracks. “Even when I flipped them after, I tried to stay true to the original feeling.”
Wheel of fortune is the first track taken from the album, and it opens with this edgy beat, with Del’s flow suitably cool and insightful. As it unfurls, it gets pulled through a reggae trip, which increases the intensity, Del calling out his rivals, while demonstrating why they shouldn’t take him on.