This week has seen Egypt descend into a political-hatred fuelled war zone and Jeremy Paxman grow a beard, so if you’ve had enough of all these gruesome images and coverage then here are five pieces of pure joy in aural form to get you through the next seven days:
1) Kwes – “36″
I like to think of Kwes as a musical teddy bear; singing in his soft falsetto and producing ethereal yet comforting beats that make me feel all warm, fuzzy and happy inside. Following the release of his debut EP Meantime last year, the xx, Bobby Womack and Damon Albarn collaborator and singer-songwirter is gearing up for his first full-length release ilp. Lead single “36″ is a beautiful soundbed of flowing keys, compressed hip-hop drums and a grooving bassline all sitting underneath Kwes’ own delightful falsetto. Take a listen and smile (a lot).
2) Kaytranada – “Seeu Enni Way”
20 year-old Montreal-based producer Kaytranada is a relative newcomer, but he’s building his chops in a big way with the release of his latest track, “Seeu Enni Way,” a laid back Hip-Hop number that takes its cues from ’90s R&B samples and jerky J Dilla beats. Beginning with a fractured drum-beat intro, the groove soon settles under a flowing bassline, splaying in funk-inflected vocals, synths and some twisted EQing. In a typically unpredictable style, Kaytranda also showcases a Motown-inspired influence in the last thirty seconds, fading out with a soulful funk breakbeat. It’s a surprising yet easy to listen to offering and will sound excellent with the addition of some choice verses laid on top.
3) Chase & Status f/ Moko – “Count On Me”
I’m not normally one to champion the pop/dubstep/drum n’ bass/electro sounds of Chase & Status and their swarm of Pendulum-esque followers, but I have to admit that they have always had a knack for mixing production value and a love of genre-defining classic dance music with easy appeal and memorable tunes. With “Count On Me” they deliver once again, taking cues from the house and acid scene of the 1990s with the track’s shuffling 2-step drums and synth stabs whilst adding an infectious falsetto vocal hook and forceful delivery courtesy of singer Moko. The song brings to mind a heavier Robin S thanks to the bass-heavy backing for the vocals and will be a perfect addition to the late festival season and those cold winter club nights ahead.
4) Kelela – “Enemy”
Some like to divide time Before Christ and After Christ, I however prefer to measure mine as pre and post R&B goddess Aaliyah. Someone else who shares my horological fetish is up and coming experimental R&B singer Kelela. With her esoteric production tastes and floating vocals, Kelela seeks to emulate the Aaliyah-Timbaland golden age of commercial R&B that still used unusual arrangements and tasteful instrumentation. She says herself that ”the music’s not just weird, it’s deliberately offputting, it’s designed to interrupt the space. I want people to be, like, ‘What the fuck is going on?” With production credits from the likes of Night Slugs founder Girl Unit, her debut mixtape, Cut 4 Me, straddles electronic and urban genres, making for an unusual yet satisfying listen. “Enemy” is all grime breakbeats and Wu-Tang inspired Japanese string-lines combining to create a track that’s just as welcome in a club or in the car.
5) FKA Twigs – “How’s That”
This is just a beautiful song, pure and simple. Twigs’ soft vocals sit on a Massive Attack-inspired production arrangement and combine to create the most blissful listening experience. Close your eyes and you might even reach a higher level of conciousness. Open them for a bit, though, only to check out the wonderfully strange yet appropriate animated visuals for the video. Twigs, who is signed to the xx’s Young Turks label, is most definitely one to watch, mixing a pure visual aesthetic with some cleverly arranged production, she’s set to give The Weekend and his imitators a serious run for their money.
That’s all for this week. If there’s any aspiring musicians out there, send me a link to your stuff (through comments or Twitter) and I’ll give it a shout if it’s worthy.