Record Label: Fat Beats Records
In 2011, hip hop artists from Detroit have continued to create some of the most celebrated music in the genre, and no one is raising the standard in the underground as high as Black Milk and Danny Brown. After their collaborative track “Black and Brown” from Black’s LP Album of the Year became a fan favorite, the two decided to record an entire EP together, fittingly titled Black and Brown. While the aforementioned track appears on the EP, the remainder of Black And Brown sees Danny Brown exclusively handling mic duties, with Black Milk showcasing his masterful production.
Black Milk’s Album of the Year dropped in September 2010 to strong reviews and an impressive showing on the Billboard charts, and his stock has continued to rise ever since. Performing with a live band for over 80 shows on a worldwide tour in support of the album, he has established himself as one of rap’s best live performers. He also became the first rap artist to record and release music with rock superstar Jack White, who co-produced and played on the much-publicized “Brain” 7-inch single on White’s label Third Man Records. Never straying from his hip hop roots, Black Milk also serves as a member of the group Random Axe (with Sean Price and Guilty Simpson), and entirely produced their successful self-titled 2011 full-length release.
Danny Brown first gained wide recognition with the release of his album The Hybrid as a free download in March 2010. Since the release, he’s emerged as one of rap’s most distinct new voices. The shock value of his drug- fueled and sex-laden rhyming has been frequently compared to the early works of Eminem, and his ear for progressive beats as well as his unique fashion sense has made him a favorite with critics. His latest project XXX was released as a free download in August 2011, and was instantly hailed as one of the top rap albums of the year by artists and fans alike, while receiving heavy coverage from media outlets like Pitchfork, MTV, and The Fader.
M83 was formed as a musical vehicle by French electronic/dream pop artist Anthony Gonzalez in 2001. Gonzalez has released six albums under the M83 moniker to date, including the Grammy-nominated album Hurry Up, We're Dreaming in 2011. He has also provided material for the soundtracks to the two 2013 films Oblivion and You and the Night.Co-produced with Jean-Philippe Talaga and Antoine Gaillet, 2005's Before the Dawn Heals Us is M83's powerful follow up to the outfit's 2001 self-titled album and 2003 second effort Dead Cities, Red Seas & Lost Ghosts and the first full-length sans original duo member Nicolas Fromageau. The album radiates with walls of electronic drones, big rock beats and hauntingly beautiful vocals which seem to fly alongside everything seamlessly. Anthony Gonzalez consistently creates music with incredible maturity and vision, which in this day and age is truly unparalleled.
Released in April of 1995, ...I Care Because You Do is the third studio album Richard D. James recorded under the Aphex Twin moniker and it marks the end of his initial analog era. It’s also the crowning achievement in the Aphex Twin canon. Veering from his previous acid house, ambient and general techno undertakings, James builds compositions out of lengthy and intricate drum machine loops, elaborately layered analog synths and intermittent string pieces. The final product comes off like a Replicant dance-party. Never one to take his art too seriously, James infuses ...I Care Because You Do with in-jokes and innuendos. “Ventolin,” named after an asthma medicine, is one of the harshest tracks on the album and features a high-pitch frequency that mimics symptoms of tinnitus; “Alberto Balsalm” is named for a British line of hair care products; “Come On You Slags” samples dialog from a pornographic film. Additionally, several of the song titles are anagrams: Aphex Twin is reworked as “Wax the Nip,” The Aphex Twin morphs into “The Waxen Pith,” “Wet Tip Hen Ax,” and “Next Heap With,” and Richard David James becomes “Acrid Avid Jam Shred.” ...I Care Because You Do’s equal infatuation with hip-hop rhythms and melodic counterpoint provides an effective bridge between his pioneering early releases and the cunning explorations of his later work. As much as the front cover self-portrait captures a snapshot of the artist’s own image, the music inside provides a glimpse of an artist on the cusp of an invigorating new period of sound experimentation, but still producing his unique blend of melancholy and aggression at an elite level. Generally seen as one of the quintessential IDM releases of all time (and once named by Q Magazine as one of the top 20 loudest albums of all time), the album finds a middle ground between Phillip Glass and the Wu-Tang Clan. Fans of either will not be disappointed.
With recent reports from various think tanks predicting we have somewhere in the range of 15 years left before the collapse of society begins, it would seem like Kevin Martin's sonic predictions of dystopian London that were set out on 2008's London Zoo were pretty accurate. And if we are in fact declining rapidly to chaos, there's no better time then the present to take the focus of that sonic assault from earthly domains and blast it to the netherworlds above and below. London Zoo is where Martin, found his true voice. Pulling the fringes into a collective, unilaterally hateful assault. A psychological warfare driven by bass that on one hand captured a moment of London, yet also encapsulated a global message influenced by years of timeless and classic out-music.The latest offering from the The Bug, Angels & Devils, escapes the London cage, drawing on it for influence yet blowing it up into a world-view now seen from Martin's new Berlin home. A record that simultaneously draws on London Zoo, completes a triptych cycle which started with his Bug debut Pressure, and fills the spaces between and inserts what was missing previously. Both a year zero re-set and a continuation of what has been. Like the Bowie/Eno classic Low, or Can's Tago Mago, the album is split into two distinct themes and explorations of light & dark. Bringing the Angel & Devil voices together under a single common banner. Antagonist at times, but not solely for the sake of being antagonistic, there's a beauty and lush sparseness to be found within, even when at its most chaotic. Truly only The Bug could find the common ground between Liz Harris (of Grouper) and Death Grips and make it seamless. Angels & Devils stretches the polarity of its predecessor in both directions simultaneously and is even more extreme for its new found seductiveness and added intensity. Deep space is explored, and physical assault is administered. In these days of YouTube quick fixes, and single tune memory spans, its a joy to witness Martin actually charting a cohesive narrative that rejoices in celebrating life through sonic sex and violence, beauty and ugliness. This is an audio thriller that delights in pursuing its own singular path/vision.With the Angel side(s) up first, things kick off with Liz Harris (of Grouper) in the submerged lushness that is "Void." Followed by contributions from ex Hype Wiliams half copeland ("Fall"), the blissed out patois of touring partner Miss Red ("Mi Lost"), two truly zoned Bug instrumentals, and rounded out by Gonjasufi on "Save Me/" It's a collection of heady, dubbed out cinematic blissfulness with a lurking darkness before giving way to devils...Devils leads off with the return of long time collaborator Flowdan on the mic and the guitar of Justin Broadrick (Godflesh / Jesu) bringing a complete about face to the proceedings and setting the tone with "The One." Roll Deep's Manga steps up next with the instant Bug classic "Function," which is being currently smashed on dubplate, by Mala, Kahn and Logan Sama. Death Grips raise the antagonistic bar with "Fuck A Bitch." Flowdan and Justin Broadrick come back for the cinematic death crawl of "Fat Mac. "Warrior Queen steps in for hands down the nastiest vocal she's ever delivered (which is saying a lot) for "Fuck You," and finally Flowdan steps up again to round it all off with a Devils battle cry of sorts "dirty, fuck that murky..."The concept is completed by the artistic expression it's packaged in, courtesy of Simon Fowler (Cataract). Known for his work for Sunn O))), Earth, and others, Simon has delivered a stunning hand drawn illustration, that sort that would make Bosch proud, showing the duality of the proceedings. Utopian/dystopian, black/white, complexity/singularity, negative/positive...Angels/Devils.
You can spend all the time and money in the world trying to craft the perfect pop-music scenario, but sometimes the stars have to align all by themselves. Even though early on the members of The Postal Service jokingly referred to “Such Great Heights” as “the hit” on their debut album, Give Up, there’s no way anyone could have predicted the eventual impact made by a mail-order album designed in a pair of West Coast bedrooms. It’s been over 10 years since the little project that could from Seattelite Ben Gibbard (aka Death Cab For Cutie’s frontman) and Angeleno Jimmy Tamborello (Dntel, Figurine) emerged from seemingly nowhere and began to burrow into the ears of anyone who came into contact with the band’s infectious electro-pop. Of course, the band’s music was more than just electro-pop, and the force with which Jimmy and Ben captured the indie-rock zeitgeist of the early aughts made them more of a phenomenon than just a regular old band. That such artists as Ben Folds, Amanda Palmer, Streetlight Manifesto, and Confide have covered “Such Great Heights” is a testament to both the song’s magical spark and its melodic inclusivity. The band’s sound is such a touchstone that “Postal Service-esque” has become a generally accepted musical adjective. While it was impossible to anticipate how massive Give Up would become, it was obvious in 2003 that these guys had made something special.