Rashad Becker's new full length album, Traditional Music of Notional Species Vol. II, is a newly developed continuation and exploration of work since his highly-acclaimed first volume (PAN 034LP, 2013). Incorporating more instrumental-sounding components, the record moves through both fluid and dissonant sounds, which take on different structural and sculptural challenges through carefully-layered compositions. Following Traditional Music of Notional Species Vol. I, Vol. II expands in various elements, distorted and warped, focusing in on the tension and energy of synthesized sounds that appear to exist, hauntingly physically. Known for his unrivaled attention to sonic detail across his work, Becker's unique techniques and expressive manipulations of sound are laid bare in an exhilarating new form, stylistically distinctive and uncompromising. The album is mastered and cut by Rashad Becker at Dubplates & Mastering. Artwork by Bill Kouligas.
Having recently partnered with Bill Kouligas to relaunch his Lost Codes imprint as Codes, Visionist takes a defining step forward with the release of his PAN debut album, ‘Safe’. The South London artist born Louis Carnell broke during a period of experimentation in UK music when, with the disintegration of the dubstep scene, emerging producers began looking to juke and Chicago house for inspiration. A pair of EPs on Lit City Trax (and a collaboration with Fatima Al Qadiri) in 2013 and ’14 introduced Visionist’s minimalist take on fractured R&B and liquid grime, establishing him as a leading voice in new-wave UK soundsystem culture. On ‘Safe’, Visionist sculpts and extends that signature into new terrain and makes his most personal statement yet. Distilling his influences down to a sparse palette of manipulated folk, pop and R&B acapellas, icy synths, and metallic drum samples, he plays off ever-present anxiety and his own battle not to let it overwhelm him. “Comfort, protection, salvation—this is what we search for,” he says. “We are taught that a life of no worries is better for us, and therefore we try to create one that is ‘Safe.'” But while safe as a musical concept implies conformity, ‘Safe’ as an artistic statement is anything but. At a moment when the UK scene, once known for innovation, has settled into rehashing old tropes, Visionist continues to propel his sound into more experimental territory. The album traces the arc of an anxiety attack, from its onset through to recovery. Following the stately discord of brief opener “You Stayed,” the grimy, ballistic assault of “Victim” sends its targets diving into mirrored corners. “I’ve Said” is a brutal, almost militant advance, its sound cutting in and out as though transmitted via shortwave radio. “Too Careful To Care” trades in skittering paranoia, with the soporific “Sleep Luxury” closing out affairs. Since 2012, Visionist has toured extensively throughout Europe, Unites States and Asia, appearing at industry standard clubs and festivals like Fabric, Berghain, Sonar and Unsound and as well as various underground venues. He has scored music for Kenzo, Liam Hodges and Roxanne Farahmand in the world of fashion, and remixed Kelis, Ghostpoet and Glasser. In 2014, he supported FKA Twigs on her first-ever UK tour.
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Joseph Abajian (DJ Jab) founded Fat Beats in 1994 with nothing more than a shoestring budget and an earnest obsession with the music, the culture, and the brotherhood of New York’s burgeoning rap scene. What began as a simple vinyl shop in Manhattan’s Lower East Side quickly became an integral hub for artists, both aspiring and established, to convene and collaborate on new projects. Joseph’s timing couldn’t have been more impeccable. When the 90’s cultural zeitgeist – and, in turn, the music industry establishment – chose hip-hop as its new arbiter of cool.
International tourists and touring artists alike flocked to Fat Beats for rare vinyl, kindred spirits, and exclusive in-store performances from Jay Z, Eminem, Gang Starr, Outkast, Slum Village, Mos Def, and more. One thing was clear: the Fat Beats phenomenon could no longer be contained in a single basement shop.
In the late nineties, Abajian proceeded to open new stores in Amsterdam, Tokyo, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. He further expanded the company’s profile to include global distribution and record label branches. Distribution has since proven to be the company’s strongest and most enduring enterprise. Today Fat Beats Distribution stands poised as one of the country’s pre-eminent distributors of vinyl & specialty item records: a proud survivor in an industry now famous for its mortality rate. Despite market fluctuations, technology innovations, and stylistic revolutions, Fat Beats has remained steadfast in its commitment to the timeless vinyl format and to the loyal community who keeps it spinning.
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