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In the second of two new feature series introduced to FACT’s pages this week (here’s the other one), a selection of our writers work their way through the new music of the week gone by.

With the way individual tracks are now consumed, the idea of what constitutes a single has shifted dramatically in the last half a decade, and its for this reason that the songs reviewed across the next seven pages are a combination of 12″ vinyl releases, mixtape cuts, Soundcloud uploads and more. All are treated equally – well, most of the time – with Ciara, Rustie, Katie Got Bandz, Azealia Banks, Walter Ego and more in the line of fire.

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Ciara – ‘Body Party’ (Average score: 7.4/10)

Joe Muggs: This is basically amazing I think, but I grew up in the 80s and all the 80s soul slowie elements in this, especially the huge snare reverbs, are so inexorably tied up in my mind with “grab-a-granny” moments at the school disco – not knowing where to put your hands, awkwardly cupping buttocks, a taste of Lambert & Butler on the lips, fear of acceptance being as bad as fear of rejection, Hard Rock hairspray on bad perms, the smell of plimsoles in the school hall, brastraps for goalposts isn’t it, wasn’t it, mmm… – that hearing them rewired through some 21st century hypersoul production machine is like being thrown into a virtual reality recreation of the most awkward moments of existence, uncanny valley opening up to swallow me, oh mother! It’s all a little bit freaky. (7)

Joseph Morpurgo: Like the Rustie track, ‘Body Music’ is a physical experience; where ‘Slasherr’ pins you to the wall, Ciara’s effort is like tumbling into a floatation chamber. Mike WiLL Made It’s productions often favour lustre at the expense of character, but ‘Body Party’ uses its sass like a weapon. Ciara’s vocal nails the song’s give-and-receive sentiment, and Future’s spectral presence hangs heavy, like some great AutoTuned Mufasa. (8)

Steve Shaw: Love Mike Will Made It. Love Ciara. This is let down by a pretty forgettable vocal melody though; when the production is so purposefully sickly-sweet, she could’ve gone harder, or at least a little less predictable. Still, great combination of talent. (7)

John Twells: This one isn’t a hard sell for me, Mike Will is probably my favourite producer right now, and Future was responsible for my top album of 2012, so even without Ciara on it at all I’d probably still give it two thumbs up. Still, she’s on it, and she rocks it – three thumbs up? (9)

Chal Ravens: Concerned for Ciara. Like a bunny boiler companion piece to Jeremih’s ‘Birthday Cake’, she’s convinced herself she’s “having so much fun with you” when she’s clearly spent her last hundred bucks in Victoria’s Secret and got a taxi over to yours at 2am. “My body is your party,” she whimpers, voice cracking over a tune cleverly pitched way too high for her, making her sound spectacularly desperate and deranged. Preferred her in baggy sweats and Air Force 1s, but Ciara’s always welcome. (6)

Mr. Beatnick: Ciara, Mike Will and Future is definitely a winning combination, this one has grown on me. At a push I’d say this holy trinity are capable of something even better.  Certainly one of the best r’n’b songs in this vein I’ve heard in a while. (7)

Joe Moynihan: Mike Will had already proved he knew how to make the late night a great night on Jeremih’s ‘773 Love’ but it sounds like he might have consumed every aphrodisiac imaginable in preparation for this new Ciara and Future joint. Aside from featuring the best flip of ‘My Boo’ since Omar S’ ‘Set It Out’, ‘Body Party’ sees Ciara set the bar early for r’n’b sex jam of the year over gorgeously filtered synths and an appropriately thick low end. Based on the typically unrestrained YouTube comments, if Cici’s serenade of “your love is always on my mind” doesn’t soundtrack someone turning off the lights at least a hundred times this year I’ll eat my bloody hat. (8)

Rustie – ‘Slasherr’ (7)

Joe Muggs: Rustie is, of course, brostep and trap for people who hate brostep and trap. And he’s a god among men. This is a little bit under developed as his tracks go, but I’m sure it will “go off” in the rave. Solid. I wish he’d do another record with Joker. (7)

Joseph Morpurgo: Like Gary Shteyngart or Milton Jones, Rustie is a genuine master of concision, able to present euphoria in as concentrated a form as possible. Anyone with a passing knowledge of Glass Swords now knows the drill – mutant trance signifiers, relentless high-to-mid, long builds and rug-pulling drops. It’s testament to Rustie’s art, then, that ‘Slasherr’ can be both entirely predictable and remarkably effective. It’s IMAX music, and the moment where he suddenly turns on the lights 50 seconds in is one of the most impressive set-pieces of the year. (9)

Steve Shaw: I know exactly what this tune is; it’s the one I stop dancing to in the club while everyone else is going apeshit. The repetition, builds and compression is draining for me; it sounds like Rihanna, but without an interesting lead melody to compliment it. Nice spang on the 4 of the drops though. (5)

John Twells: Jeez, track of the year already and we’ve only barely hit March? This is one of those rare tunes that I wanted to play out within about a minute and a half of listening for the first time, basically as soon as the bass dropped. Horribly smart (I’m jealous) and exactly the kind of shit I want to hear from Rustie. (10)

Laurent Fintoni: Maybe I don’t get it, but this is about as exciting to me as watching someone argue in a YouTube comment thread. Though I guess like the comment threads it’s mildly entertaining if you’re drunk. (2)

Chal Ravens: Still very much within the Glass Swords mould, but ‘Slasherr’ has the feeling of a dancefloor 12” with its pounding (and beautifully distortion-free) bass, hands-in-the-air mid-section and satisfyingly predictable drop. Only three-and-a-half minutes though, so itching to hear the other half of this double A-side. (8)

Joe Moynihan: It’s a bit of a shame that once you’ve made a record that excels beyond imagination in every fathomable direction — concept, execution, presentation, emotion, experimentation (I’d carry on, but you all remember how brilliant Glass Swords was in every way, yeah?) — it’s inevitable that anything that follows will be held up in comparison, regardless of context or format. Because of this, I can’t shake the idea that ‘Slasherr’ sounds slightly ‘After Light’-lite, carrying the same buzzing ingredients but missing the emotional punch. That said, it will probably still sound bolder and more colourful than any other tune in a DJ set for a good while and let’s be honest, ‘After Light’-lite is probably better for our health anyway. (7)

Mr. Beatnick: More technicolour mayhem from Rustie in the vein of Glass Swords, but with a slight hat-tip to TNGHT’s ‘Higher Ground’ this time around. Favourite bit is the middle eight which sounds like a Steve Reich inspired pokeman xylophone jam on Rainbow Islands. (8)

Katie Got Bandz feat. King Louie – ‘Pop Out’ (5.1)

Joe Muggs: Have they got heartburn? That sort of hiccup between words is like when you’re talking to a fat cabbie with a stomach ulcer and he has to keep choking back gastric reflux. It’s all a bit odd, and not very good really. Also “pop out” sounds like a prolapse, or a dog’s willy. Or an old lady going to the shops. (3)

Joseph Morpurgo: Katie Got Bandz doesn’t get anywhere near enough credit – her barely-bothered, Rizla-thin flow is arguably drill’s finest instrument, bringing the music’s innate eerieness to the fore. For all the perfunctory box-ticking – sing-song cadences, mumbled trash-talking, an anonymous BlocksOnDaTrakk instrumental – ‘Pop Out’ nails the catchy/creepy balance. King Louie acquits himself well, but ‘Pop Out’ rides on Katie’s hypnotic anti-charisma. Bonus point for calling her mixtape Drillary Clinton. (7)

Steve Shaw: Much more likely to dance to this, it’s raw. Not really into her flow on this cut, but I like what she’s saying, and King Louie’s verse is pretty sick. The instrumental’s solid too, those string stabs remind me of bashment. (7)

John Twells: Love Katie Got Bandz, love King Louie – there’s got to be something in the Kool Aid over in Chicago at the moment and it’s all over ‘Pop Out’. It’s not either rapper’s strongest moment but the track bangs hard and makes me antsy for the truly awesomely titled Drillary Clinton. (7)

Chal Ravens: Drillary Clinton puts her foot on the accelerator in Chicago’s race to the bottom. Lacks the maladroit charm of ‘I Need A Hitta’, but still a bit like watching your mate pierce her own ear – gruesome but commendably DIY. For these reasons it’s both 2/10 and 8/10. (6)

Mr. Beatnick: Jeez, someone take the mike away from this young lady. What is that delivery about? She really can’t rap at all. Records like this illustrate precisely why hip hop sucks in 2013. I can’t find anything to like here, fire the A&R man who signed her. (1)

Walter Ego – ‘Wavey’ (7.4)

Joe Muggs: This is great, what is it? Is it hip or something? It sounds sweaty. Sounds just like the sort of thing that’s been played in warehouse raves and free parties full of grubby people for years and years. It makes me laugh that warehouse techno / electro / whatever is fashionable again now, are people going to start wearing clip-on white-man dreadlocks soon? (8)

Joseph Morpurgo: Bleepy sort-of-grime, apparently grafted together from Crash Bandicoot SFX. Unlike contemporaries like LHF, Ego manages to incorporate tribal sounds in a way the feels playful rather than self-serious. ‘Wavey’ lacks the muscle and the fangs of, say, Bloom or Champion, but the straight-from-the-crypt feel works a treat. (7)

Steve Shaw: Interesting cuts here; ‘Wavy’ is too clean for me in the keys, but the beat is tough. ‘Miltary Mind’, on the other hand, comes out crunchy when I think he might have been going for that overblown sound, although it’s still my favourite of the two. Reckon this will fit well into sets of modern grime, especially with MCs. (7)

John Twells: This is probably the best material I’ve heard so far from Walter Ego – the lead track ‘Wavey’ is a nice slow burner but it all goes out the window on ‘Military Mind’ which is totally ragged. All distortion and wheezing sounds – sort of like Emptyset making grime instrumentals… so good. (7)

Chal Ravens: Two symbiotic tracks here – on one side you’ve got ‘Wavey’, a dark and synthy, nightmares-by-Numbers affair, while on the other is its sicko alter ego ‘Military Mind’, all white noise drums, one-note melodies and grimey dissonance. Very good. (7)

Joe Moynihan: In a relatively short space of time Coyote Records has established a notable presence within the>cluster of labels that are currently spearheading an evolved form of instrumental grime — one that’s more aligned with the dancefloor than MCs. Their third release, the ‘Wavey EP’ from Sheffield’s Walter Ego, is a further testament as to just how strong that scene is right now. It’s lead track twists and turns from swirling synth melodies into an aggy bass pulse while the ruff, scattershot and fuzzy percussion of ‘Military Mind’ recalls some of Bandshell’s recent ‘Caustic View’. It’s pure 96kbps of revenge, but rarely has grimy distortion sounded this tough.

Mr. Beatnick: Enjoyed this. A couple of truly oddball, grimey instrumentals with inventive sample usage and a touch of mentalness, as you’d expect from Walter Ego. What’s not to like? (7)

Para One feat. Cam’ron, Irfane & Teki Latix – ‘Every Little Thing’ Remix (6)

Joe Muggs: Para One’s an amazing producer, Cam’ron’s voice is a thing of joy, I love the little vocoder interjections too… but the sung parts of this have a bit of a whiff of novelty, like Har Mar Superstar or something. Maybe it’s easier to take seriously if you’re drunk? It sounds like a drunk song. (5)

Joseph Morpurgo: Seapunk R&B, heavy on the gloss and lacking in guts. With a bit of grit and a jot of personality, this could work in a cheery Routes sort of way. That hook, though, straight from The D.O.T. school of set-chewing melodrama, sounds like a sottish Dad pestering the widows at parents evening. Wheedling.  (3)

Steve Shaw: This is interesting, definitely got a bit of TTC influence. The sung lyrics are pretty great, and when Cam’Ron gets going it’s pretty fun in a cringey way. Production’s a little thick for me – prefer the space in, say, Late Nights with Jeremih. Still – ‘I really didn’t want to come across like a lonely man’? Forward, every time. (7)

John Twells: Every little thing about this track winds me up; the vocal’s annoying, the beat sounds like a scrapped Jamie Lidell B-side, and the inclusion of Cam’ron sort of pisses all over my fond memories of Purple Haze to be honest.  Not that he wasn’t capable of doing that all on his own or anything, but you know what I mean. Irredeemable. (3)

Laurent Fintoni: I’ve not been into much of Para One’s post-TTC output but this is nice – clean, pop-y with a bounce. And getting Cam’ron on something like this in 2013 is really what rap should be more about. (7)

Chal Ravens: “Wet like a fountain, booty like a mountain.” Cam’ron’s here! And he’s talking lurrrve over some squelchy French electro. I don’t understand it either, but it’s really quite heart-warming. (6)

Mr. Beatnick: Like the beat, like the concept, Teki and Cam’ron in tag team mood is an innovative idea, doesn’t gel quite as well as it could do as you’d expect from such a contrasting line up, but I’m sure the Girl Unit remix will bring things together a bit more. (7)

Joe Moynihan: ‘Every Little Thing’ was one of my personal favourites off Para One’s excellent Passion  LP last year. In a somewhat surprising twist, Cam’ron has hopped on board for the remix and, despite — as one Fader commenter pointed out — sounding a little like his verse was recorded on an iPhone, is a more than welcome addition. A Dipset / TTC combination makes me want to surround myself with neon lights and drink colourful booze in slow motion – more tunes should attempt to evoke that feeling. (7)

Azealia Banks – ‘Barely Legal’ (4)

Joe Muggs: It took me three listens, but I love this. Is that bad? Does everyone hate Azealia yet? Does this mean Americans are making UK garage now? Is it a tribute to everyone’s favourite petite white grime DJ? Can we just always have Strokes songs done by other people so we don’t have to see their stupid faces? So many questions. (8)

Joseph Morpurgo: On paper, ‘Barely Legal’ is the most objectionable single of the week: increasingly frustrating New Yorker takes on increasingly frustrating New Yorkers isn’t exactly a killer sell. Still, considering this really ought to be destined for Live Lounge Hell, it’s far from a whitewash. The whole Sweet Female Attitude vibe is a good look, and the vocal, although annoyingly over-performative, makes a welcome change from Banks’ thoroughly familiar go-go flow. (5)

Steve Shaw: As far as modern 2-step goes – with all those VST plug-in portamento supersaws – this is pretty wicked. It ain’t deep in the slightest, and the half-time and jungle references are totally unnecessary, but this is going to hit the spot for so many people. Banks’ voice is on point too. (7)

John Twells: I’ve never really had an opinion (good or bad) on The Strokes, so it doesn’t seem as big a deal that Banks is covering them as it probably does for everyone else.  The autotune on this track is horrible though, if you’re gonna do it make it count (hello Future). She’s more interesting on Twitter these days isn’t she? (4)

Chal Ravens: Surveys say silky dayglo synths and copy-pasted wub-wubs make Azealia’s discomfiting Strokes cover twice as appealing to casual users. (2)

Mr. Beatnick: Just awful, her steady decline since ‘212’ is more of a vertical drop down an elevator shaft when you consider this is what she’s doing now. I don’t ever want to hear this again, and that venomous internet persona isn’t exactly doing her any favours when the music is this bad. (1)

Glass Candy – ‘The Possessed’ (6.8)

Joe Muggs: Is there a point where synth-pop stops being “80s” and starts just being something people do? This reminds me of hot druggy goth girls in Brighton who behind the theatrical poise are either going to be incredibly hard work and annoying or a brilliant laugh, and you never know which it’s going to be. It reminds me of Claudia Brucken a bit too… It’s actually pretty good. (7)

Steve Shaw: This fits nicely into the modern No Wave/Minimal Tapes canon, can imagine it working well in a DJ set of things like that. I never listen to stuff at home particularly, but reckon this’ll get a lot of attention for fans of this kind of sound. (8)

John Twells: I won’t make any effort to cover up the fact I dig everything Glass Candy do, and this is no different. I wouldn’t mind if they changed it up a bit though, if this track had cropped up on one of their earlier records it wouldn’t have sounded out of place. Still, it’s not an ‘ironic’ cover of The Strokes. (6)

Chal Ravens: Ryan Gosling has a lot to answer for. More Drive OST-indebted loveliness than you can shake a gearstick at, for one. As an offshoot of the always-excellent Chromatics, Glass Candy definitely predate the current fad for all things Italo and pulsating, but this track is still very much on that wavelength – check the lo-fi, nostalgia-drenched video for proof. (6)

Joe Moynihan: With its sinister and sluggish electro pulse ‘The Possessed’ sounds like a cut that may have blossomed from Johnny Jewel’s Symmetry project, which in part repurposed his shelved soundtrack for Drive. While still carrying the same Italo disco and Blondie influences as his previous work for Glass Candy, ‘The Possessed’ does inject Ida No’s already ectoplasmic vocals with an increased sense of unease and gloom. It’s certainly effective, resulting in a deeply seductive track that keeps my optimism for what the third album may bring pretty high.

Mr. Beatnick: I thought this video was superb, channeling a really scary ’60s / ’70s Giallo movie vibe with the dummy heads, spooky fairground etc. Sung vocal isn’t really to my taste but I really like the chugging Italo backing track and verby claps, and above all the atmosphere. Props for reviving this horror soundtrack aesthetic, and I’d like to hear more from them. (7)

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