Roots Manuva – Bleeds [Album Review]

Roots Manuva Bleeds

Daily interviews and paparazzi harassment; such is the image evoked when one mentions the glamour and glory of the music industry. And then you have the underground side of things: years of mediocrity, wondering what could have been and a the younger generation who haven’t a clue who you are or why their Dad keeps raving on about someone who debuted some 10 years before their birth.

The latter is perhaps the closest thing to accurate when referring to one Roots Manuva. But to claim that this sentiment paints the entire picture would be an absolute injustice. The man has indeed been rather busy with the recent release of his 9th studio album Bleeds. When you’ve been actively releasing music for close to 20 years you run a real risk of becoming rather bland. The only other two options are finding a middle ground and hanging on for dear life or continually pushing the boundaries.

The lead single and Four Tet produced Facety 2:11 provides that aforementioned push of the boundaries. There’s a reason Roots Manuva has released every one of his albums exclusively through Big Dadda. One of the bigger British labels specialising in Hip Hop music but if only with a slight twist; Big Dada tends to work with artists who have found and mastered their niche, artists such as King Geedorah otherwise known as MF Doom. Me Up is a song that exemplifies this niche carving. With an eclectic soundscape not to be expected of your modern day Rap phenomenon, Roots Manuva complements this with his signature reggae inspired hooks.

If there is one qualm that I’m to pick from this album, then it’s the somewhat slim pickings. At ten songs long this release leaves you wanting a little bit more. Roots Manuva’s preceding album 2011’s 4everevolution, was a mammoth seventeen songs long. And not to mention 2010’s Duppy Writer was a fairly decent fourteen songs in all. Perhaps it’s for the best that Bleeds was kept short and sweet.

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Fallout 3 Soundtrack

Fall Out 3 Please Stand By
Fall Out 3 Please Stand By

One of the key ingredients that makes a brilliant video game idea such as Fall Out 3 into a timeless classic is the sound-engine behind it and it’s subsequent output. However, a special FX and algorithm based sound environment means naught if not for as emphatic and cinematic a soundtrack as that which is showcased in this legendary title. Every time I hear that main theme, in my mind I am instantly transported back into the wasteland, mid-battle a fight against some lowly raiders.

One of the key things that struck me about this particular soundtrack was the fact that it seemed to draw up the nostalgic feeling of a once great America. I can picture it now the revolutionary troops in red, blue and white fending off a foreign enemy. That is, until the inconceivable happened. And what what was left to remind the future generations of what once, is a blend of brass instruments backed by hits and big drum sounds.

What adds to the eerie yet immersive aura that this game evokes is the blend of 1940s big band and easy listening by the likes of The Ink Spots. The Ink who? I know what you’re thinking; you haven’t a clue who this group was. But trust me back in their heyday these guys were pretty big news.

The game’s main theme changes in demeanour, tempo and melody as your situation progresses into a fight to death between you and a highly irradiated mutated animal or the opposite ensues; as you emerge victorious, the music slows down again.

I believe that most gamers would agree when I say that the key ingredients of an effective video game soundtrack are melody, mood, emotion, tempo and of-course, well-constructed and functional algorithms. You could have the best visuals, a well constructed control mapping system, but if you lack the right sound environment backed by a killer soundtrack then you’ll fall just short of a good game, let alone a great one. I for one cannot wait to see or rather hear what Fall Out 4 has to offer in terms of sound and music.

Aphex Twin – Serge Fenix Rendered 2 – AFX [Single Review]

Aphex Twin - Serge Fenix Rendered 2

If there’s one thing that Aphex Twin has always been known for then it’s his ability to navigate multiple genres at once.

“Serge Fenix Rendered 2 – AFX” is Aphex Twin doing what he does best, which is to explore the soundscape and destroy any preconceived notion that you might have regarding ‘predictability’.

A pulsing synth remains a constant fixture throughout the song and it’s complemented by a strong drum track. This in turn is support by atmospheric pads that occasionally drop in and out making for a rather interesting listen.

Lapalux – Lustmore [Album Review]

Lapalux album cover
Lapalux album cover

For a man who got his big break as recently as 2012 through Flying Lotus’s Brainfeeder label with his two EPs in When You’re Gone and Some Other Time, Lapalux has rapidly built himself up to be a consistent producer. Having had his song “Make Money” featured on the GTA V soundtrack, the producer has a noteworthy follow up which comes to us in the form of his second album “Lustmore”.

In “Closure” we’re treated to a smooth R&B number with a ‘pinch’ of ambience. The resulting song capitulates what Lapalux’s sound is all about, and that’s constant change. Whilst “Midnight Peelers” is a natural progression from “Closure”, “Push N’ Spun” seems to expand upon the basic concepts behind those two songs. Around the midway mark all of the elements in this song heard throughout the interim, suddenly burst into life all at once.

“Puzzle” reconfirms the continual expansion of the artist’s vision. It’s a song built on a similar foundation to “Closure” but this time the vocal is subject to a lot more editing and effects. This song retains a live element in the form of a saxophone playing away in the back. In a sense, “Puzzle” is a song reminiscent of the early works of Flying Lotus.

At times, however, songs such as “Bud” seem to offer nothing refreshing. Whilst the melody is different, the textures and effects utilised in the song seem to fall directly in line with the themes of a number preceding songs. Whilst the song sounds repetitive, this ‘sameness’ shows consistency in Lapalux’s sound.

If ever there was a song written solely for synchronisation to film and television then “Don’t Mean A Thing” would be that song. The simple yet gripping melody is perhaps tainted by layers of ambience and effects. The result is a dark and alluring composition that would make a perfect companion for film.

With its melancholic aura “1004” appears to be the perfect song to usher in the end of an interesting, yet consistent album. “Make Money” is as far from being consistent with the album’s style as can be. It’s something you’d expect from producers such as Autechre or  Squarepusher, with all its glitches and imposing hi hats. “Funny Games” is soaked in reverb so much so that one can hardly make out what the singer is actually saying. But perhaps that’s the whole point.

Lustmore, whilst seemingly consistent, is filled with moments of sporadic and sudden changes in pace, all the while maintaining a dark aroma. If ever there was a perfect soundtrack album then this would be it.

Rudimental – Never Let You Go [Single Review]

Never Let You Go Single Cover
Never Let You Go Single Cover

Upon first audition, we admittedly fell in love with“Never let you go”. But, we also took the time to appreciate any significance that this song might carry. Whilst retaining a lot of the elements present in Rudimental’s debut album Home, this song hints towards a subtle progression as opposed to ‘the same old story’.

The Drum n Bass number is the leading single from the quartet’s upcoming sophomore album. The band promised previous collaborators John Newman and Ella Eyre, along with some supposed ‘legends’. So if this song is anything to go by, then we can’t wait to get our hands on this new album.

Rudimental – Home [Album Review]

Home Album Cover
Home Album Cover

Home is a Mercury Prize nominated, MOBO award winning, soundtrack inspiring and career-making album from the Hackney raised quartet. When Kesi Dryden was receiving a earful from his piano tutor for repeatedly forgetting his ‘book of rudiments’, who could have guessed that those moments would lead to one of the twenty-first century’s most eclectic bands.

Right from the get go, Rudimental’s Home manages to achieve a rather mellow vibe, whilst maintaining fluidity. Songs such as “Feel The Love” and “Waiting All Night” satisfy the need to fill that commercial front without ever feeling forced, whereas “Spoons” and “Hell Could Freeze” seem oblivious to such shallow pursuits.

Having featured some eleven different artists, the album is reflective of today’s somewhat splintered music industry. So it’s fitting that such a record would take five different record labels to make, in Black Butter Records and Warner Music UK, but to name a couple.

The album’s original run time of just over fifty six minutes is made even longer by the additional ten songs you get on the deluxe edition available on vinyl. Whilst this might prove to be too long for some, it’s time you won’t even notice due to the album’s listenability.

A cultured blend of different genres such as D&B, Break-beat, Jungle and Soul, amongst a few others, Home seems to achieve an oddly haphazard balance. The end result is a somewhat exhilarating rollercoaster of different influences and musical ideas. Something truly worthy a listen.

ILM: Bristol

ILM Kudzai & Betti ILM 3 ILM Kudzai ILM Betti ILM DJ Set 2 We went, we saw and we conquered. Well, sort of. Independent Label Market Bristol was everything we’d envisioned to be. Well, sort of. From the magnificent skyline to the bustling crowds, we enjoyed every bit of this beautiful city. We started our day by meeting the man behind it all, Joe Daniel. He turned out to be as pleasant as he’d come across in our emails. Though it was the usual rough and tumble come mid day, things were off to a fairly slow start. Along with the more well known names such as Ninja Tune and Lex, were some of the beloved local labels, far too many to list. Overall, we had a blast and we’ll certainly be coming back to Bristol.

Independent Label Market Bristol

Aesthetics NEW Promo Cover

Once again, the ILM or Independent Label Market is almost upon us. And this time we’ll be touching down in Bristol. This will be our 2nd such event, and to be able to do so in a city that we’ve always wanted to visit will be an absolute pleasure.

What should you expect you might ask. Well firstly, you can expect a real farmer’s market vibe to the whole fiasco. Secondly we’ll be setting up a stall full of music and jewellery offerings in partnership with upstart jewellers, Boho Lavaliere by Bernadett Marina Makula. And lastly, there’ll awesome merch and special edition offerings from the likes of Lex, !K7, Big Dada, Ninja Tune, and your favourite labels from Bristol.

Independent Label Market Bristol

So the news is out! We’re going to be at the Independent Label Market in Bristol on Sunday the 3rd May.

Some of our favourite labels are going to be at the event, so we are practically shaking with excitement. We hope to see you all there.

ILM Bristol Poster
ILM Bristol Poster