Short Circuits 5 - By Volume

...was fond of your writing, it allowed me to see into you... The Hotelier - Discomfort Revisited
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Short Circuits 5

Tayyab moves his digital microscope to Jon Hopkins, Rashad Becker and Tshetsha Boys. Author: on July 17, 2013
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Tshetsha Boys – Bafana Bafana (Jiaolong, 2013)

The rise and rise of Shangaan Electro proceeds in the manner of a runaway train, an image which does justice to the highly kinetic, automatic-fire dance culture from southern Africa, known to reach, say, 180 beats-per-minute on a casual basis. Don’t let the unfamiliar tempo scare you off – it’s nothing like hardstyle, and has in fact found a friend in the underground UK electronic scene. Honest Jon’s Records, known for their prolific store in London as well as their various releases putting out the likes of Actress and Shackleton, were keen to promote the sound, culminating in a Meets Shangaan Electro series and a compilation full of remixes, Shangaan Shake (which I have yet to listen to, regretfully. I’m sorry, I won’t do it again, I promise!) The musicians include Shangaan ambassador Nozinja, as well as producers Tshetsha Boys. It’s no surprise they would find themselves releasing something on Daphni’s Jiaolong label. The UK-based imprint, run by Dan Snaith AKA Caribou, has two defining characteristics: on the surface level, all the tracks, whether they’re produced by Daphni, Toro y Moi’s Les Sins moniker, Junior Boys producer Jeremy Greenspan or otherwise, channel African spirits. Slightly more subtly, Daphni’s other ideology seems to be that the tracks must take a simple idea and go ahead and have some fun with it, letting songs take themselves wherever organically. This took place on Daphni’s full-length, and Tshetsha Boys’ “Bafana Bafana” follows suit.

Within the first thirty seconds, the track has distinguished itself from the UK style structurally, throwing in layers before they’d be expected. With barely two clauses cantillated by vocal lead Themba Manganyi, the shallow percussion beat is thrown in, with an emanating demeanour of pure energy that makes the style feel like a cousin to Chicago’s juke and footwork culture. Soon there’s already a paralysing amount going on for such physically moving music – vocal samples are chopped and littered to urge the music onward forcefully, while a sea of marimba melodies washes piano-like stabs down. The real star of the show is hiding in the midst of it all, in the form of a lilting synth each bar, harmonising the eclectic mix into the special, both gentle and vivacious piece it is.

Purity Ring – Amenamy (Jon Hopkins Remix) (Unreleased, 2013)

An issue I have with hazy, cloud-tier music that’s so popular these days is that, at times, the song will draw to a close and I will be positively nonplussed as to what had just occurred. This may have happened once more with this song, abut I will do my best to fill in the gaps – the many, many gaps. Fresh from the release of new album Immunity, Jon Hopkins takes on “Amenamy”, A Purity Ring track from their 2012 debut, Shrines. Hopkins manages to completely ditch the underlying Southern hip-hop aesthetic of the original for a downtempo feel, with a new kit of drums and ghost melodies of the ancestor dancing over the woozy analogue synths. Megan James’ echoing recitations of, “freer, and freer, and freer,” start the song as well as close it out, though they have much more substance by the end.

The m00nbird – Edandale (ft. Gonjasufi) (GERM, 2013)

Gonjasufi’s pained croaks have a knack for dominating their musical environment, and when The mOOnbird tracked down the part-musician, part-yoga instructor with a microphone and a lyrics sheet at an afterparty, the same almost held true. The mOOnbird’s production is subtly dissimilar to Gonjasufi’s own, and it’s interesting to see the two caw over mOOnbird’s rattling, on-edge atmospheric hip-hop that flirts with electronic music more so than Gonjasufi’s. Those electronic elements come in all varieties yet feel sparse, with pockets of air between ringing and pounding percussion, sweeping strings and ominous hums. It’s no surprise the lyrics are largely unintelligible, with only the occasional excerpts that might be like, “singers have souls are never known,” made out in the spook-story. With Gonjasufi’s voice recorded over The mOOnbird’s, it can also be hard to deduce who is doing what; it’s as if the teller of our tale carries a looming shadow that adds weight to each word – it’s unknown whether the double-edged voice is a vessel for a greater spirit or is simply that of a masterful storyteller, though there’s beauty and fear to be found within the mystery.

Redinho – Searching (Numbers, 2013)

Redinho has been producing and performing for the increasingly influential Scottish label Numbers for a few years now, though it’s been two since his last release. That’s not to say he hasn’t been busy; Considered as one of the label’s ‘secret weapons’ by Numbers boss Jackmaster, Redinho has an album due later this year – it’s set to be the label’s first full-length release in a scene where the album format has felt unfortunately overlooked. The emotive use of talkbox technology in previous Redinho records is prevalent during “Searching”, and the return is a triumphant one. Redinho’s modified voice bounces over an array of shimmering keys and synths leading the 80s summer saunter with aplomb. While well-produced, it isn’t entirely surprising on the whole, although that isn’t something immediately evident. The intro is where my love for the tune lies, as the beat ricochets against a melodic progression that sounds like earlier Hudson Mohawke without the punch though not lacking in flavour and charm. Sure to give DJs something to play with this festival season, the joyous moment where the track explodes into its own will bring plenty of smiles too.

Rashad Becker – Dances III (PAN, 2013)

At long last, judicious mastering engineer and artist on quality experimental label PAN, Rashad Becker is set to release his LP, Traditional Music of Notional Species Vol. I and good gracious, what on Earth is going on here? “Dances III” throws together the most unusual, distorted textures and pulls listeners into unknown grounds, cold with foreboding density yet warm with the thrill of exploration. If one could travel into the future and take field recordings of an aqueduct overflowing with decaying technology, then that is what Rashad Becker has done here. Moments within the noise conjure up fuzzy flashbacks of dial-up tones and flashforwards of flying automobile super-highways. The ambience bubbles and pops, as drones and whirs dabble in and out of the humanly-audible frequency range. Becker is concerned with the manner in which soundscapes may interact with one another, dissecting the means through which alien cultures communicate, laying the results on a platter. With the mastering of the song and the forthcoming album being handled by Becker himself, it’s assured that every anomaly is deliberate, every calculation precise and every feeling, however harmonious, is meticulously manufactured.

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