The Grip “Saladin (Hello Skinny Remix)”

04 Nov 2014 — Richard Greenan

The Grip are are a London jazz group featuring progressive flautist Finn Peters, Oren Marshall on tuba and Tom Skinner on drums. Peters made a name for himself composing music using mind reading technology, while Marshall has been doing ungodly things to brass for years. Here the group cannibalises itself, as Skinner, under his solo guise Hello Skinny, transforms the meandering, eastern-tinged 'Saladin' into the shimmering mirage of a house track. This is a remix in the purest sense, as raw loops are fed into an MPC and caustically spat out, expertly pitch-shifted and chopped into something barely recognisable.

The Grip's new album Celebrate is out now on Slowfoot Records. You can listen back to Tom and Finn discussing the record and playing some inspirational tracks on NTS Radio.

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FIJI “Fave Hours (Ft. Hood Joplin)” + Manicure Records Feature (exclusive)

31 Oct 2014 — Andi Wilson

Today we speak to label boss Tom Mike (aka Ghibli) regarding the background, aesthetics, and future on one of the most forward-thinking & online-based pop labels we know, Manicure Records. Along with the interview, NFOP exclusively premieres a mega-catchy single by their newest signee FIJI, titled “Fave Hours (Ft. Hood Joplin)”.

Take us back to when Ghibli started (which was a pretty house-y project at that time). Did you ever expect it to somewhat grow into running your own label?

I started Ghibli around 2010 and was just figuring out how to use samples and trying to combine my love of beat music and choral compositions. I rediscovered my love of disco along the way and spent the next few years trying to figure out how to blend these disparate pools of influence into one big ocean. After eventually getting tired of sending out submissions to people and not getting any traction with other labels, I started my own little corner of the internet for me and my friends. I absolutely did not expect the amount of support and recognition that we’ve received in the past ten months.

The sounds of Manicure vary from electronic hyper-pop, trance, club, to most recently twisting heavily-commercial pop hits. For example reworking Ariana Grande's "One Last Time" and tagging tracks as '#manicured'. Not to mention creating your own blends of singles by producers that I only assume heavily influence Manicure, like Sophie's "Bipp". Now we're seeing very young, emerging producers come into the fold such as Guy Akimoto, lilangelboi, and ponibbi. Did most of the relationships that consist of Manicure's roster evolve from the web or is everyone from the same (somewhat underground) community in Edmonton, Canada? Who is currently involved?

Below is who’s currently involved based on chronologically going through the Manicure Souncloud:

Jasmine, who’s based in the UK, was someone that I had been emailing back and forth for a few years before Manicure became a vehicle for us/her. We bonded over Jam City mixes and she’s been really important in expanding the aesthetic of the label.

My good friend Kara sent over some lilangelboi tracks last summer and I became obsessed with nightcore. After starting Manicure we got him up to do shows in Edmonton (he was originally based in Calgary). Eventually he moved here where he’s been thriving since.

DJ Cashinout (formerly DJ Debussey Turnpike) is from the states and we linked up through submissions that he sent to me after I started the label. He is really young and has a lot of potential. I’m excited to see what he has in store.

ponibbi came up to me at a party last winter and stole a joint out of my hand while I was talking to someone else and walked away with it. We’ve been close friends ever since and he’s become an indispensable part and a rising star of the label.

I heard of KLSLWSK through Tielsie’s Soundcloud likes and became obsessed with his production style. We signed him just before the JACK댄스 world tour and he played his first live show at the Vancouver stop with us.

I met Guy Akimoto when Simon Whybray (founder of JACK) brought him on the Canadian edition of the JACK tour. He was both incredibly kind and talented, a really rare combination. We all became super down after seeing him live and we signed him a short while afterwards.

As for FIJI, Beaux Maris is the single strongest/smartest/nicest woman I know in the world, and Hood Joplin is the turn up queen and adds a lot of depth and character to the crew.
I’m incredibly lucky to know both of them.

Beaux/ponibbi/HJ are all from Edmonton. Every other relationship has been built online.

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Magic Fades “Eye 2 Eye” (exclusive)

31 Oct 2014 — Henning Lahmann

Last time we heard from Portland's Magic Fades was when the duo dropped their massive (and criminally overlooked) collaboration with fellow Oregonian post-internet hippie Soul Ipsum, Zirconia Reign, earlier this year. Only a few months later Mike Grabarek and Jeremy Scott return on their own again with follow-up full-length Push Thru, a release that's every bit as timely as Zirconia Reign. Relying on their signature tropes of glossy hyper-R'n'B, the music sometimes gets eerily close to what's actually hot on top-40 stations in the United States. The stellar "Eye 2 Eye" is a case in point: channelled through painfully crisp autotune, no one would probably notice if someone dropped this after any other generic pop tune. Which has to be intentional. Too sleek to be completely taken seriously yet too aware and crafty to be brushed aside, Magic Fades again fuck with our expectations regaring "underground" pop in the second decade of the 21st century: too post to analyse.

Push Thru is out November 25 via 1080p.

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Jire “SSTNSLNC” (exclusive)

30 Oct 2014 — Henning Lahmann

Again proving their immaculate knack for unearthing the finest talents of tomorrow's popular music canon, the folks over at No Pain In Pop present their latest gem Jire aka merely 18-year old London-based producer Nathan Geyer. More than just another gifted beatsmith, Geyer's upcoming four-track debut Kiowa Polytope is a supremely elaborate piece of music, built from intricate, deconstructed rhythm patterns, noise and found sounds, as well as interspersed tonal structures. Despite showing off a dizzying level of playful sophistication and hardly ever resorting to comforting payoffs, the tracks unfold an astonishing emotional warmth that fits right into NPIP's catalogue (think Ukkonen or Karen Gwyer, but above all Forest Swords). EP centrepiece "SSTNSLNC" revolves around a bunch of samples that Geyer recorded with an old dictaphone at the Sistine Chapel in Rome (hence the title: "Sistine Silence"), where the artist found himself alienated by "the noise and lack of general respect in the chapel" that had led to the loss of "any sense of spirituality or emotion" the chapel once might have had, having turned into a purely commercial commodity. Take a listen to the stunning piece below.

The Kiowa Polytope EP is out November 11. Order now over here.

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Stream: Lotic at Unsound (exclusive)

29 Oct 2014 — Henning Lahmann

Of the three different stages inside Krakow's decaying late-communist Hotel Forum – the venue where Unsound's main club nights are staged on the festival's closing weekend – Room 3 is probably the toughest to unleash a proper party in, at it's essentially a large bar by design, not exactly a dancefloor. Which is why, I'd argue, it takes some particularly talented or rather ruthless DJs to keep up the excitement for a whole night. Enter Berlin's Janus crew, who took over the room on Friday night, running on a bill programmed by Unsound together with CTM's Berlin Current project, as reported earlier. Unsound's Polish and international crowd didn't hesitate to buy into the vibe, providing a setting that in its best moments at least came very close to the most relentless nights at Janus' home base Chesters. As per usual, Lotic's hour was especially marked by a dazzling, unapologetic yet infectious eclecticism, and we're happy to exclusively present the live recording of his set below, which was kindly provided by London's NTS Radio.

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Review: Arca “Xen”

29 Oct 2014 — Henry Schiller

Xen is the debut album from London-based Venezuelan producer Arca (Alejandro Ghersi), a follow-up of sorts to last year’s self-released mixtape &&&&&. Just like &&&&&, Xen might be described as a rollercoaster ride. Xen is a twisting, sputtering loop-de-loop of an album, a structure you cannot appreciate until the harness comes down and the wheels start spinning, with jolts and jumps that cannot be anticipated until it's a moment too late. But Xen differs from &&&&& in a very significant way: Xen has a palpable element of relaxation.

Not to say that the music of Xen is itself particularly relaxing. If anything, Xen is more anxious and discomfiting than its more aggressive forebear. But Xen is an album produced by someone who is comfortable enough to step slightly away from the vicious – and brilliant – style of production that got him work on albums by heavy hitters like Kanye West and Bjørk. To bring yourself down from that takes a heaping of “Zen” most people do not have access to.

Xen is not, like the also excellent &&&&& was, a literal projection of tension and hunger. But it does meditate on these and similar topics. Xen is thoughtful and thought-out, at times even solemn (see “Failed” and “Wound”), coming closer to the work of Tim Hecker or Oneohtrix Point Never than the maddash hacking of Ghersi’s earlier work.

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M B Baker “Cairns”

29 Oct 2014 — Evelyn Malinowski

Canadian cooperative label Heretical Objects' latest release Cairns by M B Baker is a slow-burning acoustic guitar long night in the woods. Its dreamy aspects might arrive from cricket sounds, or likenesses to Animal Collective's Campfire Songs. Mostly, the ethereal vibe derives from patient chord progression which is at times beautiful and otherwise dissonant. "Two," the aptly titled second track on the album, bears this quality the most. "Six," another aptly titled track as it is the sixth track, is a raw, ambient scene, shimmering like a winter morning, complete with an effect which resembles snowdrift carried by bitter winds as heard from inside of a dwelling. It is indeed a beautiful track. "Sinister Purpose" is an experimental Cash-esque revenge track, and more straightforwardly structured than most of the other songs. The album as a whole is both vocal and instrumental, folky and psychedelic; I believe Baker's focus really is in delayed guitar cadence and the space between accentuations, the moments of silence between crackling wood. 

Cairns is out now and you can download or buy the limited edition cassette here.

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Review:  Kinlaw & Skyler

28 Oct 2014 — Richard Greenan

London's Joane Skyler and Bristol's Hamish Trevis, aka Kinlaw, join forces on another fine record from Reckno (and the UK label's first vinyl release). Skyler & Kinlaw finds the producers gleefully one-upping each other in a sort of affectionate sonic tussle. Skyler's fragmented rave sketches are present, as are Kinlaw's more murky, pummeling driftscapes. But the real magic of Skyler & Kinlaw emerges when we lose track of who's doing what. This happens during the majestic, sickly wooz of "くコ:彡", or the triumphant Bollywood daydream "RIPE". There's quite a lot of tape manipulation going on here, and maybe it's Skyler's hand on the speed dial that causes snares and breaks to ebb and flow like a spluttering two-stroke engine. And perhaps the fistfuls of trappy hi-hats, clustering weirdly over snippets of distorted conversation, are hallmarks of Kinlaw. But, as the project sets out, this is less a split, more a combining of powers. Droll as ever, Reckno kingpin Chris Catlin sums it up:

Apparently at one point during a difficult bit of drum programming Joane's skull turned to smoke, Kinlaw inhaled it and blew it back into the mixing desk then poured black syrup over the keyboards while Joane's hands hooked up the perpetual sunset plugin and turned the rainbow filter up to infinity. But I digress...

You can get hold of Skyler & Kinlaw digitally or in the form of a 12" vinyl LP via Reckno.

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