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Danny Brown, Four Tet, Darkside and more reviewed in the FACT Singles Club, Sep 23 2013

Each week on the FACT Singles Club, 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 pages are a combination of 12″ vinyl releases, mixtape cuts, Soundcloud uploads and more. All are treated equally – well, most of the time. Among this week’s victors and victims: Danny Brown, Pusha-T and Kendrick Lamar, Tropic of Cancer, Hudson Mohawke, Four Tet and more.

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Danny Brown – ‘Dip’


Joe Muggs: I’m rapidly oscillating between thinking this is stupid-brilliant and just stupid, between it being a perfect encapsulation of the modern style and a cynical hack-job. So this middling mark is not intended to say that it’s an average track – it’s not, it’s extremely potent, whatever it is. Look, what I’m trying to say is “LOL IDK”, OK? (7)

Brad Rose: If anyone is gonna dethrone Rome Fortune’s or Gucci’s claim for rap record of the year, Danny Brown is one of the few left with a shot.  “Dip,” produced impeccably by Skywlkr, keeps hope alive. The track is totally gonzo, with frenetic synths underlining Brown’s always-on, run-you-over delivery, and on top of that it’s just plain weird, all of which bodes well for Old. It’s been a hell of a year for Brown (so many good guest spots) and ‘Dip’ just keeps it going. (8)

Chal Ravens: Slicker than the clunky and bizarre Paul White-produced ‘ODB’ from a few weeks back, this is Danny Brown exactly as I like him – shouting about drugs over a Skywlkr beat. The way the verse rushes up to the chorus and drops into that huge, spacious, thunking hook captures the vibe neatly, and while it’s hardly his most artful lyrical turn (observe the bald literalism of “I’m grindin’ on your bitch / while I’m grindin’ on my teeth”), we’re not in ‘Ebenezer Goode’ territory or anything. (7)

John Twells: See this is the Danny Brown I love, and he rarely sounds better than when paired with producer and touring mate Skywlkr. The beat just bounces off the walls, and Brown’s twitchy drug raps take me far closer the clubs I know than any of the usual iffy Molly raps that seem to be causing a Billboard pileup right now. (8)


Tropic of Cancer – ‘Court of Devotion’


Brad Rose: Never been a massive Tropic of Cancer fan, but this tune is decent enough even if it drags a bit toward the end.  So many things from the Blackest Ever Black axis sounds too bleak-by-the-numbers at this point, though, for me to get all that excited about it (though I anticipate being told that I haven’t experienced enough PAIN AND SUFFERING to fully grok this deep music or something). (5)

Chal Ravens: Comforting retro doom in the vein of any number of unsung ’80s cold-wavers. The faint ringing feedback off the guitar and the distorted drum thwacks are very astute touches, but I really, really wish she’d put her voice at the fore and let us have some lyrics to toy with. It seems such a 21st century move, to smudge out the words so no one can judge you on your thoughts and ideas – Ian Curtis would’ve been baffled. (6)

John Twells: There’s plenty to like about ‘Court of Devotion’ I know, and the sort of Cocteaus-go-goth mood should be right up my street but it doesn’t go all the way for me. There’s something a bit too mumbly and indistinct about the whole thing. (6)

Joe Muggs: Some really nice sounds, but ultimately boring. Sent me off on a coldwave listening spree though, and happily reminded me of this compilation which I’d not listened to in a bit, so that was nice. (5)


Jackson and his Computer Band – ‘Vista’ (Hud Mo remix)


Joe Muggs: One of the most extreme examples yet of the fact that nobody does ’80s cocaine treble overload like Hud Mo. Does my head in but I kind of love it… I guess it’s another “LOL IDK” then. (7)

Chal Ravens: There’s a strong whiff of the straight-to-video swords-and-spaceships flick to this, but if anything that just makes it more lovable. Needs a burst of airhorn for complete lift-off. (6)

John Twells: Finding it very hard to give a fuck about this, just gimme a regular Hud Mo track thanks. (3)

Brad Rose: This is good, but it’s not as massively different from the original as I hoped. I’m a sucker for those fist-pumping, stadium drums, though – not gonna lie. It sounds so huge. (6)


Darkside – ‘Paper Trails’


Brad Rose: Am I the only person in the world that remembers Mule Variations has existed for the past 14 years? (4)

John Twells: I don’t know if Dave Harrington and Nicolas Jaar could do much else here to make this track less appealing to me. The vocals are objectionable, the bluesy guitar ‘licks’ questionable and the pervasive ‘dub’ mood just laughable. I suppose the one saving grace is that Paul McCartney is nowhere to be seen. (2)

Chal Ravens: Wow, that’s some truly shitty sub-Knopfler guitar playing. Is it meant to be kookily amateurish? It sounds like me on guitar aged 14, ham-fistedly “grooving” along to some crappy MOR vinyl found tucked behind dad’s hi-fi. Really stinky. (3)

Joe Muggs: Awww, poignant, given it sounds so much like JJ Cale, coming so soon after his passing. No problem there, though – JJ Cale is no bad thing to sound like, and it properly grooves along. I don’t know if it’s just because I’m worn ragged this week but it’s really hitting the spot – this is 100% going in my “winter evening with wine” playlist. Might actually be my favourite thing I’ve heard from Jaar in fact. (9)


Kelela – ‘Enemy’


John Twells: Kelela’s just brilliant, and surely destined for big things, ‘Enemy’ is a good indicator of why; her voice is eerily familiar but not overly so, and her choice of beats is truly inspired. It’s got to help that she’s palling around with Bok Bok and chums, but this is all her. (8)

Joe Muggs: “I want someone who gives a fuck / but you don’t know how” is an absolutely killer lines. Every element of this is great in fact. I don’t love it overall yet – but I get the feeling I will in time. (7)

Chal Ravens: The basic idea is great, but I fear that the bass-heavy producers on Kelela’s mixtape (Girl Unit, etc) risk bludgeoning the sparkly, poppy mood with their club-ready percussion. This one in particular could do with adopting a lighter touch, Timbaland style, to frame Kelela’s vocals as the centrepiece rather than the embellishment. Sketchy, but promising. (6)

Brad Rose: Considering how good the beat on this is, everything else is gravy. That’s not dismissing Kelela at all, because there’s a fractured simplicity to her vocals that works perfect with said beat. Everything here is so sparse, I can’t help but get sucked in. (7)


Pusha T feat. Kendrick Lamar – ‘Nosetalgia’


Joe Muggs: Great loop, great beat, great bass, great rapping, job done. (9)

Brad Rose: I love when good Pusha shows up because when he’s on, he’s one of my favorite rappers around. And as much as I like Kendrick (and his verse is pretty good here), he’s not on good Pusha’s level. This beat is just so gnarly, too. So good. (8)

Chal Ravens: The mileage Nottz is getting out of those three or four elements is astonishing. This is the kind of minimal beat that requires a star performance from any rapper; luckily we’ve got Pusha and Kendrick simply delivering the goods and dusting off their hands. Enjoying Kendrick’s aggro mood of late, by the way. (7)

John Twells: The Boogie Down Productions sample is appropriate – rap was rarely more naked than on Criminal Minded, and ‘Nosetalgia’ reminds of those starker times. Thank fuck both rappers actually live up to expectations, with Pusha’s stony urgency proving an apt foil for Kendrick’s softer-edged witticisms. I guess sometimes you can believe the hype. (8)


Four Tet – ‘Parallel Jalebi’


Joe Muggs: Seems a bit like a missing link between Hebden’s recent, housier stuff and the Rounds / Everything Ecstatic material, pretty lush really. Coming into this straight after the Kendrick / Pusha track makes me want to hear great rappers on this, it’d work a treat. But couple of repeat plays and it works fine on its own, and makes me want to go to Plastic People instead. (8)

Chal Ravens: An improvement on the ‘Kool FM’ boo-boo, but I’m surprised he’s gone for a slower tempo cut to follow it up. Polite, pretty and aimless; a Pippa Middleton tribute of sorts. (5)

John Twells: It’s Actress without the really weird/good bits. (5)


Final scores:

Pusha T feat. Kendrick Lamar – ‘Nosetalgia’ (8)
Danny Brown – ‘Dip’ (7.5)
Kelela – ‘Enemy’ (7)
Four Tet – ‘Parallel Jalebi’ (6)
Jackson and his Computer Band – ‘Vista’ (Hud Mo remix) (5.5)
Tropic of Cancer – ‘Court of Devotion’ (5.5)
Darkside – ‘Paper Trails’ (4.5)

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