“Electronic atonal noise never stops fascinating the serious music men. harmony & melody just too cunt for them.”
Acting as a lightning rod again, Fatima Al Qadiri set off a slew of charged debates and recriminations with her tweet at the weekend. Earlier in the month, SPF666 referred to the “thundering sound of the white post-club/grime rush to noise/industrial after brown folks made it hot again,” another indictment of the constantly re-manufacturing nature of the hype cycle.
Noise music has always been a realm fraught with inconsistencies, and as younger producers and DJs attempt to graft the typically male energy of non-melodic musics onto existing rhythmic patterns and structures, it’s difficult to see it as anything but a dishonest enterprise. Meanwhile, Jersey club and footwork is as popular as ever and UK funky and dancehall are popping up in the Drake-verse, pushing formerly niche sounds into mainstream contention and offering up routes for artists from Newark, Chicago, Baltimore and beyond to flex their skills to ever wider audiences.
It’s probably harsh to look at successful projects from the likes of TT The Artist, DJ Sliink and Teklife as directly causing the trend towards noisier, more industrial sounds, but there’s no doubt that a rather close-minded rejection of the melodically and harmonically focused elements of those sounds has occurred. As we all strive to progress and explore new sounds, it’s easy to forget that quality control is important and even easier to forget the roots of the culture we exist in and engage with.
Noise and industrial music have a lot to offer, but blindly jumping into that abyss to differentiate oneself from the masses is an ugly prospect.
‘Panda’ (ft. Beek)
Whatever your thoughts on the original ‘Panda’, the premise of Divoli S’vere and Beek going in over a revamped version of the Menace-produced track is massive, and the two don’t disappoint on one of the hardest tracks in either artist’s discography.
Already known as two of the fiercest MCs in the ballroom world, Divoli and Beek trade off hyper-sexual bars in more traditional fashion over busy production full of crashes and Desiigner’s rapid fire ad libs, showing that the two can flow with Brooklyn’s finest while also checking off all the relevant boxes for a contemporary club banger.
SHALT x Supremes
‘Unconfined’ (Dis Fig Bootie)
One half of the team behind the Call Dibs show on Berlin Community Radio and a member of the Purple Tape Pedigree crew, Berlin’s Dis Fig has been on fire as of late, impressing on BCR and churning out a series of excellent, often brutal mixes. She extended her skill set into the world of blends with a chopped up version of Rabit’s ‘Trapped In This Body’ and Lamb’s ‘Strong The Root’ and, most recently, with SHALT’s ‘Unconfined’ and The Supremes’ ‘You Keep Me Hangin’ On’.
‘Unconfined’ is an obvious favorite as it came out through The Astral Plane label, but matching it with The Supremes was entirely unexpected and Dis Fig’s placement of the vocals shines an entirely new light on the original.
Despite being the shortest track on Chino Amobi’s recent Brian Eno-riffing Airport Music For Black Folk, ‘Milan’ packs the most punch, splaying the throaty, vocodered vocals found throughout the release over a reverb-heavy production that feels like its trying to scratch and punch its way out of the most resilient paper bag ever created.
‘Rotterdam’, another highlight from the tape, approaches the same set of vocals from a more paranoiac perspective, exposing the inherent risk and instability of black and brown bodies traveling through airports and transport hubs throughout western Europe and beyond. Airport Music For Black Folk is out now on the newly christened NON WORLDWIDE.
Given the Total Freedom seal of approval on the latest Fade to Mind show on Rinse, Nunu’s ‘Heels’ is an exemplary use of space and Foley sounds, equal parts silence and an array of squeaks, clangs and improvised crashes.
‘Heels’ feels like the work of many other producers riffing on the more metallic/industrial side of Baltimore and Jersey club, but like the work of Skyshaker, takes on a more febrile, textural quality by use so many less traditional noises and effects. Look out for more Nunu this summer.
Part of the extended NAAFI family, Spaceseeds has impressed over the past year with a series of oddly distended edits and blends, matching major vocals with minor chords, soaring crescendos with breakneck percussion and empty space with sensual come-ons. His source material is generally familiar (T-Pain, Que, Arca, Rabit, etc), but the final result rarely recalls the original and his contributions to NAAFI’s Pirata 2 are some of the best on the compilation.
‘Ela Parou’ is one of the only original works we’ve heard from the Tepic-based producer and the first since ‘Pressure’, his powerful collaboration with Resla. It exudes the confidence of a seasoned producer, loping along at a languid pace before exploding with baile funk bombastics. If the slightly disturbing baby cries don’t draw you in, the carnival-esque lead synth certainly will.
Los Angeles-based label TAR’s next release comes from Helsinki-based 111X and is full of the sort of noisy electronic, hard-hitting sub bass and trance motifs found in recent work by artists like Eaves and Kid Smpl. ‘Inner Peace’ is brief, but takes on a world-building quality, like an abominable machine struggling across an inhospitable landscape.
Its accompanying video hits on an entirely different level, pairing cloying shots of a made-up woman with brief interludes of industrial destruction, giving the track’s more obvious light-dark tropes a visual analogue.
We might as well reserve a spot in every edition of For Club Use Only for Nkisi at this point as the London-based Congolese-Belgian artist doesn’t appear to be letting up anytime soon. In between a must-listen NTS show and a near-constant stream of tantalizing one-offs, Nkisi’s work rate is off the charts and a few weeks back she dropped DJ KITOKO VOL. 1, a blistering four-track effort featuring enough haunting melodies, seductively funky basslines and chopping polyrhythms to keep us going until, well, next month.
Every track on the release is quality, but ‘KARMA’ get the pick this time around, due in no small part to its swaggering horn line and beckoning vocal refrain.
Sicko Mobb x DJ NJ Drone
‘Foreign Kakao’ (Chai-T Blend)
DJ NJ Drone’s Mind Club outfit isn’t for everyone, but if you’re into maximum energy, 140+ workouts, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better source of material than this New York crew.
Chai-T’s latest blend comes through as perfect example, taking the Sicko Mobb portion of the bop group’s ‘Foreign Sik’, a collaboration with Keyani, and smashing it against DJ NJ Drone’s ‘Blood Kakao’, the two barely sticking together, but still resulting in maximalist fireworks. Again, not for everyone, but just try not to sing and bump along to this one.
‘Don’t’ (Capital Kaos PUMPDABEAT Remix)
Bryson Tiller is already massively buzzing and is likely to become even huger over the coming months and years so it’s probably fair to assume that we’ll soon be receiving a deluge of bootlegs, edits and blends of the Louisville crooner’s work.
In the meantime though it’s Pumpdabeat’s Capital Kaos coming through with the propulsive rework of 2015’s ‘Don’t’, flipping the spacious original into a claustrophobic anthem that eventually slips into a bouncy, stripped down percussion workout for the last minute.
One of the most prolific remixers in the world of Jersey club, Newark’s Ase Manual has taken on everything from Drippin, Dark0 and Murlo to Beatking, Peewee Longway and O.T. Genasis, but it’s his original work that’s caught our gaze as of late, offering up a brightly textured version play on Jersey’s spartan rhythms that are as likely to trigger intense synaesthesia as they are to light up dancefloors.
With samples that include DJ Haze’s classic call-and-response ‘Eastwick Anthem’, baile funk and what sounds a bit like Fetty Wap’s ‘Promise’, the track runs the risk of becoming a platform for its influences, but the Sweat Equity representative reigns it in once the stomping kicks enter the picture and the track takes on a more playful edge. Sinjin Hawke might have something to say about those vox though.