Put simply, Sylvan Esso are the band we all need right now. Let them take you to your happy place with their hotly anticipated third album Free Love which dropped on Friday. Ferris Wheel, Frequency, Free and Rooftop Dancing were all released before, but my pick is Numb (and Frequency is also bit nice).
To present the release they hosted a virtual album launch. It is full of live performances, behind the scenes content, bits of art, and little previews of things to come on the album. Also a sensationally dodgy DJ mix by one of their mates. But anyway, all wholesome. All lovable.
Some history: founded in 1996, Hospital Records are pretty much responsible for bringing drum & bass out of the shadows and into UK mainstream dance music. Hospital is known for popularising a sub-genre of drum & bass called ‘liquid funk’*. It is now thought of as the mother of Hospitality events, and the home of Netsky, Danny Byrd, Camo & Krooked, Logistics, etc. but basically it is founder Tony Colman’s baby. When Tony isn’t being the label boss, he produces under the name London Elektricity. London Elektricity is one of the most important drum & bass producers of the last two and a half decades. With me? Basically, Tony Colman is one of the most important people in the history of drum & bass.
Syncopated City is one of LE’s most famous albums – but I don’t think it will it go down as his best, or most impactful – but it is really interesting, and broad stylistically. Anyway, I wanted to post this one because: i) it has some bangers and; ii) it came out in 2008 so has some serious iPod-era nostalgia value for me.
For the tl:dr crew, listen to Just One Second with Elsa Esmeralda. Proper goosebump material. From South Eastern Dream to The Point of No Return (tracks 5-7) the album picks up momentum with some really nice jungle loops. See what you think, and don’t miss the final track – Syncopated City Revisited – which brings the album to a nice jazzy conclusion.
Bonus track: taking Just One Second onto the dancefloor, with the help of Apex. Iconic. RIP Rob ‘Apex’ Dickeson.
*personally, that descriptor really annoys me, but hey, what am I gonna do about it?
Just in time to capture the last of the UK summer sun, here is some Afro goodness coming for your ears. What’s more, Keira means ‘peace’ which is probably something all of our brains could do with right now.
This one-off album is the result of an unplanned collaboration between London resident and bassist, Huw Bennett, and a group of traditional Gambian musicians from the Mandinka people. Huw was originally travelling to broaden his musical horizons, but was so welcomed into the local musical community that he was inspired to infuse his own sound, and to try and showcase Gambian music to the world.
My two picks are Ansumana and the final track on the album, Son Kunda. Enjoy!
Laurence Guy always delivers. Two 2020 EPs on Shall Not Fade consisting of 7 tracks for your listening pleasure today.
First up, the wonderfully titled, The Sun is Warm and Directly Above You. My pick is Untitled Needs – it wanders and sprawls, all the while punctuated beautifully by Laurence’s trademark piano chords. Healing and heartwarming. The title track is equally picturesque. What stands out for me is the gentle chatter sample that lives in the background – it gives me the feeling of being surrounded by people I like, having a good time – a feeling that is seemingly tough to create in 2020.
Your Good Times Will Come – how sweet is that? My favourite is The Spirit. It has, you guessed it, stunning piano chords, and also a bass section that resonates and vibrates with warmth and beauty. Also a shout out to Experience Health which somehow manages to create a meditative acid vibe; strings and gurgles combine in a way that I didn’t think was possible.
More of my favourite LG here and here. I’m a bit of a fanboy. Sue me.
Over much of Europe lockdown may be easing (for now) but there is one thing that we are all still missing: live music.
This is a beautiful recording filmed in Sylvan Esso’s homestate of North Carolina in November of last year, with behind the scenes content that ramps up the intimacy. Live music at its tip-top, spine-tingling, goosebump-raising best. I honestly can’t recommend this enough.
Their third full album, Free Love, drops on the 25th. Two singles, Rooftop Dancing and Ferris Wheel are already out – check them out now.
Remember New Navy? Well the producer from that (James Chave-Dubois) is back on the airwaves. He has combined with singer Jazz Barry to create Pèt Nat. Probably your new favourite Australian indie electronic duo. Their debut single is Thin Skin, it’s out now, and it’s lovely. Keep your eyes out for more soon.
Bonus track: fun fact, I once convinced a random American that I was on tour as a part of New Navy. Just about obscure enough to get away with…
Another release from Disclosure, another banger. This first featured in their Streaming From Isolation set for Boiler Room and they’ve been good enough to grace us with the full release just as the sun comes out.
The prolific pair team up again with Malian singer-actress Fatoumata Diawara (if you like this, check out the 2018 release Ultimatum), who gives an impassioned tribute to her home country, heralding its ‘unity, harmony, love and brotherhood’. An uplifting message over characteristically uplifting beats from Disclosure which will transport you from home office onto a sweaty, packed, carefree dancefloor (remember those?) in an instant. The video is great; it was shot via drone during lockdown in Jo’burg, Como and NY and features phenomenal scenery and dancers alike. Disclosure’s new album ENERGY drops end of August…
Drum & Bass / Jungle pioneer Photek released this drifty, meditative soundscape in 1995. One of his less-known tracks, it is pretty much impossible to find (Discogs only baby) but it always sends me deep every time. Mad to think it was released 25 years ago.
A couple of side-notes for the nerds. If it sounds familiar, it could be for two reasons. Option 1 is pretty cool, the 1971 jazz track Astral Traveling by Pharoah Sanders:
Option 2, is well, less so. The backing track to FA Premier League Football Manager 2000 on PS1. Yep.
Big ol’ housey banger. It’s strange, it’s creative and it’s large.
This is a track that I cannot wait to hear out. As in out out.
I came across this little beauty in another of Boiler Room’s Streaming From Isolation mixes. Peggy Gou from the highest point in Seoul. Solid. Very solid indeed.
P.S. A divisive question for you: is Peggy Gou…
a) fucking awesome – the incredible global female DJ superstar from a traditionally underrepresented minority that the whole world needs, OMG I love Peggy!
b) a bit basic?
I’m hearing both sides of the argument. Let me know please