A music blog from Ireland.
On the basis of all the sweet, summer-vibed tracks you could be forgiven for thinking that music producers have of late been dead set on making shiny happy songs. The ‘electronic’ tag is used liberally in descriptions which means that by sheer numbers, electronic music is one of the busiest grounds for new music to be found. Here on the small scale of Irish music, artful minds all over the country, not hemmed into one field, have established sound identities and idiosyncracies as producers that stand out. Right now, these are the new releases, remixes, tracks and mixtapes that’ve been making a real dent in what I’m listening to. They fall somewhere between electronic and hip hop, and in order to give this piece some structure I kept the tracks strictly relevant to the 3-month timeframe of new music since Christmas. Maybe you know all these guys or not but I think as a quick digest, it shows the quality of new sounds is nice and green. There’s an amazing amount of more concentrated, older stuff but to source the real gold we’d have to dig deep and go way back…I’d love to do that at some point. For now, these numbers are standing tall.
Little has been made of the formidable work ethic that propelled SertOne forward in 2011. Since releasing The View From Above EP on Melted Music last February the Liverpool-based, Portadown producer has attained a respected reputation by word of mouth for his explorative hip hop instrumentals and inspired remixes, with a prolific output that’s seen him chain live dates together left, right and centre. A dyed-in-the-wool hip hop fan, there’s a kookiness along with dilligence, bearing down hard in pursuit of art with tracks that work on multiple levels of character and styles. Recently up with a birthday salutation to the departed J Dilla, the new SertOne EP Quesadillas is a brief but substantial breath of life into the great man’s beats, and it’s in this way that pioneering techniques live on and new listeners (like me) learn.
Godspeed is David Balfe’s sidestep into the Good Grief EP. He came to light after his video for Breathe as Young Shields surfaced and that hardcore experimental background means the inclusion of Godspeed may seem out-of-place at a glance. Listening to the Good Grief EP however, the heavy beats are right where they should be. This is also an oddity because it’s a producer working with voices as instruments, with definition and emphasis placed upon vocals to yield different timbres and enhance inflections. Speaks Of shows this with its animated, manipulated sample of educational crusader Viktor Frankl’s famous Search For Meaning speech adding an exotic Austrian twist. It’s messy work, but messy in the sense of someone who quickly tidied a dirty bedroom that lay in the path of a tornado: the final result is very powerful.
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Having released one of the best songs of 2011 in Strays, Monto showed himself as a formidable enemy of the blandness of Irish producers, demonstrating that youth is no hindrance and even the youngest contenders can create and arrange intense, solid tracks which progress and develop within themselves. Coming from a hip hop grounding, it seems as though electronic sounds are the new galvanising direction for his music. Although Monto contributed to the new ERICollective and Lyfstyl compilations, as an artist, he’s the only one without an official release under the belt…yet. Signed to Melted Music alongside SertOne and Sketch Nine, it won’t be long to wait.
Christopher Buckley, the 21 year-old Dublin northsider working under the alias of G.I, is making ripples with his hip hop instrumentals, smearing elegant melodies over beats that pack the punch rapping requires. Though a (savage) MC too, it’s clear G.I.’s ear is attuned to instruments and while the melodies are airy, the beats are slung like a backbone to support the weight of cerebral lyrics. It’s city music that is meant to add some beauty to the grimness of a grey environment and succeeds: G.I.’s skills are best heard set to great effect in Lethal Dialect’s LD50 albums.
Jimmy the Hideous Penguin is skilled in the deft art of scratching and a mainstay of the Community Skratch Crew, a co-operative who promote and release through Nozl Recordings, their tireless efforts putting Galway on the world turntablism map. Jimmy Penguin also turns his hand to producing his own instrumental tracks, with a proclivity for fragile, ambient pieces like this one that shifts perfectly from synthetic electronic sound to the rich, natural frenzy of Brain. It stood out on a free album at Christmas that since seems to have disappeared – a new one, Ninjenisid took its place in January.
Another fine example of a turntablist, Mynameisjohn is a year on from There Is A Policeman Inside All Of Our Heads and the Clare producer has come forward with The Thinker & The Prover. Just stalling on an underconfident Bandcamp page, I misjudged its step upwards like a wayward stair, finding a far higher standard than the impressive Stress Debt Chest Pains debut. She Always Let Me Leave is the centerpiece of the new record, a downcast three minutes that teems with samples and hot, scratchy nerves that pulls itself together at the end with a glimmer of hope…or cold fear.
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Major Grave set the ball rolling for this article when the filthy Easy Does It popped up for limited download on Smoke/Less/Fuels as a 4th birthday freebie a few weeks ago. It sank in as if my ears had turned to quicksand and has been playing every day since. No longer available to download, GrimeForum snapped up Major Grave for an exclusive mix of his own hand-picked tracks. Download it, along with the instrumental EP Major Beatz v.1 on Bandcamp – word is the second’s ready to drop any time now.
All of these artists have recently put their music out and you can find more simply by clicking the link in their name. SertOne and Monto are both members/artists/collaborators in Lightbox, a crowd-funded tour that hits Belfast and Dublin this weekend with Bantum, Simon Bird, Tenaka, Reid and the visual art of FeelGoodLost.