Short Circuits 4 - By Volume

She goes on and on and on and on about love. But am I ever enough? Our Fold - She Goes On

Short Circuits 4

Tayyab's fourth excursion battles with Moderat's old ghosts, a Helena Hauff song for which the word "bananas" was secretly invented, and "Misty Cold", baby. Author: on July 4, 2013
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Jessy Lanza – Kathy Lee (Hyperdub, 2013)

When Hyperdub comes to mind, words like consistency and longevity follow. At the same time, the label is hardly becoming stagnant; having surprised everyone with the announcement of DJ Rashad’s release earlier this year, the label revealed another sleeve-trick as chief sub-bass samurai Kode9 mentioned there are six full-lengths due for release before the year is out, from the likes of Rashad, Morgan Zarate, and previous Short Circuits fare Laurel Halo. No mention of Burial, and then no mention at all – the statement was later retracted.  But now we’ve been introduced to a new addition to the Hyperdub roster due to drop an LP in the coming months: Jessy Lanza.

Lanza is probably best known for her guest vocals on a recent Ikonika tune, though that’s all about to change as she makes her presence known on “Kathy Lee”. Hailing from Ontario, Lanza proves she’s more than just a voice on the co-written, co-produced R’n’B-electronic pop hybrid which fits right into place in 2013’s musical landscape. Rather than be lost in the mix, I think the gimmicky “Kathy Lee” sample will help the track stick. Thankfully, it has plenty more to offer, including whimsical bass, kicks and shuffles that induce the bitter-sweet mood in a bare-bones manner. Two-thirds of the way through, an undercurrent of techno synths run beneath the track, combining with Lanza’s smearing vocals. There’s a hint of demand and attitude tied to the pop. The simple nature of “Kathy Lee” is where it hits a sweet spot, and it suggests Lanza might become another exciting artist for Hyperdub to champion.

Moderat – Bad Kingdom (Monkeytown, 2013)

Sascha Ring, Gernot Bronsert and Sebastian Szary will be the first to tell you Moderat is not a techno supergroup. It’s made up of Ring’s Apparat moniker and the latter duo’s Modeselektor project, but Moderat isn’t about the past: it’s just three musically-inclined Berliners in the studio doing what they want to do. Their self-titled first album’s success didn’t serve them well if they were trying to dispel such myths, such was its influence and achievements. With the release of a second album looming, it seems Moderat have gone out of the way to solidify their uniqueness, trying to finally walk without the shadow of Apparat and Modeselektor. They’ve emphasised this in recent interviews, but the lead single from Moderat II tells you everything you need to know about it.

“Bad Kingdom” isn’t exactly a change in direction, and in fact it feels like the new album’s “Rusty Nails”. It does, however, seem to be a change of pace and style in less immediately obvious ways. The zipping bassline and bonkers elephant sample both fit their producer profile perfectly, as does the rolling percussion. There’s a distinct lack of harder techno elements that were ever present throughout their first LP, and the new single is very much a more poppy affair. The strings augmenting the final chunk of the track are also somewhat surprisingly delicate from Moderat, but perhaps not unexpected from Apparat, whose singing comes across as delightfully improved. “This is not what you had in mind,” he repeats to listeners, in a slightly puzzling but very pleasant toned down introduction to the new material, and perhaps to his group, who seemingly haven’t paved as much new ground as they may have hoped.

Helena Hauff – Actio Reactio (Werkdiscs, 2013)

Resident DJ at the elusive Hamburg’s Golden Pudel basement club, known for little more than its fantastic flyer designs to the uninitiated, Helena Hauff has been long refining her craft. “Actio Reactio” is the first piece to surface from her new release of the same name, forthcoming on Actress’ Werkdiscs imprint, which pretty much guarantees it’s going to be something unconventional, provocative and weird. Such is Actress’ job as curator: get the heads scratching. Hauff’s music embodies all those attributes in this ten-minute, percussion-heavy techno odyssey. Bubbling melodies clatter with varying clap bursts and a dangerous dosage of cowbell. It’s essentially a racket of different forms of drums that manifests itself as a jam session. At times the elements reach synergy and hit serious groove, and at other times pieces might get stealthy, take a breather and let other parts embark on adventurous solos. Primal yet precise, and overflowing with energy, “Actio Reactio” is set to stun dancefloors and leave people wondering what on Earth the wondrous cacophony they’re listening to could be.

Maya Jane Coles – Come Home (I/AM/ME, 2013)

The first thoughts on hearing about Maya Jane Coles’ debut album: “Yes!” Then, more analytically: “Wow, that sure is a lot of features.” Coles prefers to be hands-on with all aspects of the productions she puts out:  making the music, contributing with her vocals, even drawing the release artwork for releases on her own label. The number of guests on the LP seems somewhat unusual as a result, but they never feel out of place. “Come Home” is a welcoming return to a sound 100% Maya Jane Coles, drawing parallels with her time as a DJ. Her meteoric rise over recent years means she rarely has time to focus on her deep house creations between DJ sets all over the world, and though her life can bring her amazing experience after amazing experience, it can  also bring the fatigue and longing sensed in the track’s sultry, echoing melodies . Coles comes across as completely genuine when she finally gets a moment to herself, singing “I just wanna come home,” to round off a monumental chapter of her tales.

Ruff Sqwad – Misty Cold (XTC Remix) (Ruff Sqwad white label, 2004)

It’s hard not to get misty-eyed about a classic like XTC’s take on “Misty Cold”. The year was 2004 and grime had barely lost its umbilical cord before garnering mainstream attention, having been birthed on the street as a result of some unholy affair between garage, drum and bass, dancehall, and whatever else that would find its way onto London’s pirate radio stations. Production supergroup Ruff Sqwad, who included nowadays-pop-star Tinchy Stryder, were three years old and already renowned for their style; artists such as themselves, ‘Godfather of Grime’ Wiley and Dizzee Rascal were pioneering new sounds with technology they were just then learning to use, imbuing their productions with gritty soul and multi-layered character organically, and as they found their way.

Sqwad member Dirty Danger’s “Misty Cold” had already been put out as an A-side, thanks to the signature key melodies and ominous, adventurous strings. XTC turned the instrumental into a song, adding an inimitable bassline that really tied the sounds together into music more than just something for an MC to flow over. The more thinly-textured elements of the original are padded out with otherworldly, unintelligible samples and powerhouse claps. Today, XTC’s “Misty Cold remix” doesn’t just sound good, it feels good. It’s an ode to how far Ruff Sqwad had come, and it’s also so ahead of its time that successful artists today are still taking cues from the sound. (See: the headline-baiting, and thus By Volume-immunised Zomby.) With the beautiful “Functions On The Low” as a B-side, it’s no wonder the white label record, released outside of Ruff Sqwad’s main label project, is hard to afford and even harder to find.

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