buachaill bán – ancestry [EP review – techno]

Influenced by modern day titans such as T47, Paula Temple and Umwelt, Buachaill Bán’s debut on Ireland’s Sweet Tooth label is a tour de force of ferocious techno.

Hunger kicks Ancestry off with a bang and immediately sets the theme of primal needs and urges to be drawn upon throughout the EP. Featuring crisp hi-hats and masterful shifts in dynamics, the production really shines through on the opener.

The relentless thump of kicks, bass and menacing call and answer synth lines triggers the adrenaline of a hunter about to spear his prey.

 

Instinct features a rolling triple kick drum pattern which sends the listener down a mine-shaft in a rickety cart. The rhythmic style here aims to repeatedly prepare the listener for the next bar, creating a relentless banger.

Throughout the short-player, affected atmospheric noise is used to great effect, capturing the industrial sound in all it’s scraping, hammering glory. There are moments of respite in the form of Homecoming, an experimental cut which takes the finger off the trigger before Offering delivers the kill-shot with an expansive, floor-filling sound to round off an impressive debut.

The concept of this EP is tied together in a way that is often missing in electronic releases. The consistency of the sound palette and theme makes, together with a carefully paced track-list makes Ancestry an immersive listen from beginning to end, whether listened on high-end speakers or ear-buds.

*Ancestry is available for download on Bandcamp.

*Follow Buachaill Bán on Soundcloud here.

*Mastering by Chris McCormack of Blacklisted Mastering.

*EP artwork produced by @endless_prosperity (Instagram)

 

what business opportunities does the COVID-19 pandemic present?

We exist in the grips of a world plagued by uncertainty, doubt, fear and inevitably, opportunity.

We, the people are flailing in unchartered waters. The COVID-19 pandemic has not only claimed human life by the boatload, but has affected the prospects of small businesses which need the most support. We are all on this boat together, and only by working together can we overcome this threat.

As you sit reading this, coffee in hand, roughly half the Earth’s population are in self-isolation or government-run quarantine, endlessly scrolling their social media feeds. This presents a vital opportunity to re-brand your businesses website and logo, and attract potential customers who have seemingly endless free time to plot their business strategies. The difference is willingness to engage in this difficult time. This presents a chance to get a leg-up on your competition by demonstrating your aesthetic, values and ethics.

Crisis management is a crucial element of any business, large or small. How we deal with this decides how our brands are viewed in the long-term. For some businesses, re-branding means survival. For some, it means continued prosperity. Most importantly of all, it gives the opportunity to present a fresh face in preparation for the aftermath of an event we all hope to soon see disappearing in our rear view mirrors. Possible months of quarantine are on the cards and we will all look back and ask – “what have I achieved?”

If the answer to this question on a personal level is “not much”, there is no need to worry. While some have taken up exciting new hobbies, many people are struggling and the take-home message is that we all move at our own pace. As Teddy Roosevelt succinctly stated, “comparison is the thief of joy”. My advice is to plan for the worst, hope for the best and probably land somewhere in-between.

bright eyes – forced convalescence [track review]

The eagle has landed. Bright Eyes’ second single in rapid-fire succession, Forced Convalescence features some impressive additions to the usual line-up. The band have recruited Flea (of Red Hot Chili Peppers fame) on bass, Jon Theodore (Mars Volta and Queens of the Stone Age) on drums and percussion as well as Kip Skitter on additional percussion.

Forced Convalescence is an uplifting counterpoint to initial single Persona Non Grata. A few years back, around the time of the release of Oberst’s collection of demos which became known as Ruminations, the front-man was diagnosed with a cyst in his brain. The instrumental of this track chugs along, propelled by Flea’s bouncy yet subdued bassline as Oberst rattles off word-association style lyrical gems. A booming backbeat accentuated by arpeggiated guitar and a dreamy atmosphere leads into a earworm of a chorus complete with vamped piano and drum rolls. At face value, this is a cheery track, reflected in verbal passages such as:

“Now I’ve recovered completely,
Life is easy,
Hula-hooping around the sun,
The calendar’s little boxes,
All these presents,
Get to open every one”

To quote a Bright Eyes deep cut from several lifetimes ago, there is “joy in acceptance” here, as we hear a fully realised band with clean production and more mature lyrical themes.

“I’m not afraid of the future,
Have to suffer and repeat”

Conor Oberst has stated in interviews that if he wished to tell a fully autobiographical story, he would write a book instead of producing music. It’s impossible to completely separate the art from the artist in this instance, particularly when it comes to Oberst and his well-acknowledged struggles with addiction. Fans may be disheartened to hear yet more references to “needle(s) to oblivion” as well as a mention of Seroquel, a drug used to combat schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder, which Oberst states is “fighting (his) fantasies.”

The truth is that Bright Eyes and Oberst’s best music has always come from a dark place, and this new track, despite its happy demeanor, promises that a classic Bright Eyes LP is on the way. Bright Eyes’ central appeal for many fans is a feeling that they are not alone in their struggles, so this appears to be a perfect time to make a long awaited comeback.

earl sweatshirt – WHOLE WORLD feat maxo (prod Alchemist) track review

Following a double whammy of divisive releases in the form of 2018’s Some Rap Songs and 2019’s increasingly experimental Feet Of Clay, Thebe Neruda Kgositsile AKA Earl Sweatshirt is back.

The Alchemist is on production duties on WHOLE WORLD. This isn’t the first time he’s worked with Earl. E. Coli and Wind In My Sails are familiar to Earl fans as treasured deep cuts, as well as his more recent work on 2019’s MTOMB. The surprise appearance here is Maxo’s understated verse, which suits the tone of The Alchemist’s drugged-out bass-heavy beat. The track slithers along like a snake trying to eat its own tail, only to be resolved by the next bar. Earl is defying expectations here by minimising his sound, perhaps to the delight of critics of Feet of Clay. As he rapped on Azucar, Sweatshirt “shook tradition, did it (my) way”, and it’s worked out – WHOLE WORLD is a home run.

How much shrapnel can your soul take?” Earl ponders, as he floats with effortless mastery over the beat. The two rapper’s verses are punctuated by Maxo’s prophetic refrain:

“Got the, whole world round me
Whole world round me crumblin’”

 

call my phone thinking i’m doing nothing better – the streets x tame impala (review)

When an Instagram snippet was shared on April 1st claiming a collaboration between Tame Impala and The Streets was on the way, many assumed it was an April fools joke.

How could two artists mesh such distinct sounds? How could Mike Skinner’s spoken-word and UK grime music leanings form a cohesive bond with psych-rocker turned discotheque titan Kevin Parker?

The answer is: beautifully. This track grabbed me from the opening seconds. Skinner and Kevin Parker swap hooks before the song devolves into The beat slaps like a lost cut from Original Pirate Material. The piano chords resonate from A Grand Don’t Come For Free. This is an anthem acknowledging a world where people have lost sight of human connection in favour of virtual communication. Skinner’s unique lyrical bent has endured –

“How funny family is actually fuckin’ has you in bits
Your mum has good genes, but Dad’s are ripped”

The unlikely duo complement each other, with Skinner’s beats bringing the necessary garage-influenced rhythm while the rough edges of Skinner’s mockney accent are sanded and smoothed out by Kevin Parker’s dreamy vocal breaks. Call My Phone is undoubtedly a summer track for the socially anxious.

thundercat – dragonball durag review

Stephen Lee Bruner, better known by the alias Thundercat is back and as ludicrous as ever.

thundercat-siachen-studios

The Californian singer/songwriter /bassist extraordinare has been involved with some of the most critically acclaimed musicians of recent years, including appearances on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly and much of Brainfeeder colleague Flying Lotus’ music. Despite his undeniable talent, Bruner doesn’t take himself too seriously, as you can see from the video for Dragonball Durag, the teaser track from his new LP It Is What It Is.

Take 2 vials of incredible technical ability, 1 vial of wacky humour and a sprinkle of psychedelia, shake well and you have the recipe for a Thundercat.

Dragonball Durag is a juxtaposition of a melodic pop song with the absurd, reminiscient of Frank Zappa’s I Have Been In You. Sugary vocal melodies soar above Thundercat’s unmistakable stuttering baselines as he waxes poetical about his durag. Accompanied by swaggering percussion and gentle keys, the hook on which Bruner asks “Baby girl, do you like me in my durag?” is an earworm of upper echelon quality.

The mix leaves layered vocals dripping in honey. It’s saccharine to the core and may cause diabetes and restless leg syndrome but comes with a 100% guarantee of a funky jam to bop along to.

Favourite lyric: “I may be covered in cat hair, but I still smell good.” Continue reading