Posts by Emily Onofrio
Last summer I read a Khalil Nova interview where the young Atlanta rapper describes his music as having “angels channeled through it”, a Kanye-esque statement if I’ve ever heard one, but an assertion that stood out to me nonetheless in a time when the underground scene was permeated with dark, angry rap and upside-down crosses. With only this in mind, I approached his forthcoming release, 808s of Life. Turns out that it was less of a boast than it was an honest introduction to a creative space that's uniquely Novas, and although a quick listen to the emcee's low, chant-like vocals might yield comparisons to Spaceghostpurpp, the production is both murky and delicate, the content lacks the unforgiving misogyny that permeates Purpp's work in exchange for conversations on weed, spirituality, and the universe.
Nova's beats are twinkly, sometimes muddy walls of sound that blend perfectly with his decidedly lo-fi vocals. In “Mercury Diamondz”, Khalil, who doubles as his own producer, marries seductive club chords with 80s hip hop production, a fresh take on an old school sound that starts the joint out casual until Nova buries it with a swelling, repeating surge of lo-fi bravado: “Everything I touch turn to diamonds/yeah man/Everything I touch turn to diamonds." It's slow and reassuring -- a perfect contradiction to the flirtatious throwback drums, which may or may not have been a well-planned diversion planted to give the chorus its perfect set-up. Best of all, it features my favorite sort of transition -- no build-up, no filter sweep, just the stripping of elements before the heaviness crashes down, sonic contrast at its finest.
808s of Life is out May 21st on Mishka Records.
Wiki first came to my attention by way of freestyle video a few months ago. What I saw on the screen was another misplaced, decidedly average-looking high school boy clad in jeans and a white tee shirt. What I heard was unmistakably different-- a voice that commanded full attention, a lawless mind seeking solace in its newfound audibility, but most notably, a kid who seemed to know exactly what he was doing.
Prone to baggy clothes and sporadic facial hair, eighteen-year-old Patrick “Wiki” Morales has lead his four-piece rap group, Ratking, from the depths of the sewers into the streets of New York, a markedly more appropriate landscape. The team exudes the oppressive side of the city and the associated tribulations of well-off '90s babies and beyond in a style that's reminiscent of Black Moon’s Enta Da Stage filtered through the lens of a kid from the Upper West Side and his pack of hooligans. Just the other day they released Wiki93 through XL Recordings, the second version of an EP that went largely unnoticed upon its initial release in October 2011. This time around the outcome is shaping up to be vastly different, as Wiki, fellow Ratking rapper Hak and producers Sporting Life and Ramon make their presence known by way of video and a promising label deal-- the group has already secured Jay-Z’s engineer Young Guru to work on their full-length album.
Wiki93 feels like New York in its aggressive sensibilities, albeit more subdued in that the hostility directs itself inward, its self-loathing both wry and relatable (“Girlies ain’t my forte/Sip forties for days/All day/Find me walking down Broadway”). Over principally '90s style production, Hak and Wiki discuss the bleakness of New York adolescence, referring to the city itself as “the dungeon”, often cracking self-deprecating jokes about masturbation and alcohol in a way that's dejected yet not delinquent.
“Comic” is an enigma of a video, fast-paced and feverish with an opening monologue that casts an eerie light on the group as Wiki and Hak spit and dance in frenzied fashion. It serves as a great introduction to what Ratking has to offer, though waiting to see what comes next seems like an equally exciting prospect.
Wiki93 is available now via XL Recordings.
"Bruxa" isn't just a phonetic gem of a band name-- in fact, it's a folkloric term most often used to describe a female vampire with a voluptuous body and an insatiable appetite for blood. With that in mind, we approach the producer trio's sophomore release, Victimeyez, which is, quite frankly, unlike anything I've heard in some time. Truth be told, it isn't just one aspect that stands out-- it's a multitude, and as I contemplate each one, it comes as no surprise that these are the sounds of a band whose self-proclaimed influences include "DIRTY SOUTH", "THE COSMOS", and "NIGHT TERRORS", to name a few.
The tracks, in addition to exemplifying a vast array of influence, possess an obvious attention to detail-- from the rhythmic, gritty swagger of industrial to the unapologetic tumult of classic dubstep, the album's production value is rich, dark, and intricate beyond belief. Couple Bianca Rad's sensual vocality with heavy, screwgazey rap straight from the soiled tongue of an all-knowing, lean-sipping bloodsucker and you have an album that couldn't possibly be genre-tagged in one sitting.
Victimeyez is being released by Mishka and is available for free download on their Bandcamp-- stream it below.
This July, Chicago-based R&B duo The-Drum released a killer EP of glowing soundscapes accessible to both sex jam purists and dancefloor fiends. But if you thought The-Drum's polished goodness was the end-all-be-all of smooth-yet-ever-so-frenetic R&B production, you haven't looked far enough. Neuport's edit takes "/BZE" to the next level as he tranquilizes it with his signature touch-- the bass becoming that much more profound-- the lilting, hypnotic vocals twice as mesmerizing.
Never underestimate the Jersey Club aggression of DJ Sliink, least of all when he teams up with Garden State affiliate Tray and slaps four more-or-less unknown rappers on a mind-blowing club-centric beat-- all of whom ride the bass throb with the unbridled ease of veteran dancefloor assassins. Yes, it all works smashingly well, and yes, you're probably gonna hear this one on your next weekend excursion.
Sliink's Vibrate EP dropped just last month via BodyHigh.
It's been ten years since Brooklyn noise outfit Zs began making music, and a considerable ten years it has been. Trumpeted by the New York Times as "one of the strongest avant-garde bands in New York", Zs has maintained a withstanding presence in the post-minimalist, experimental rock scene since the release of their first EP, Untitled, in 2003. Although the band has endured numerous line-up changes-- the only remaining original member is tenor saxophonist Sam Hillmer-- their artistic goals remain the same: to challenge the conventions of music and test the mental and physical limits of performers and listeners alike.
To commemorate ten solid years as a band, Zs will release SCORE - The Complete Sextet Works From 2002-2007, a massive 4-disc box-set containing over four-and-a-half hours of music from their first five years of existence.
Catch the Box-Set Record Release Show/Ten-Year Anniversary Celebration at 285 Kent on Wednesday, August 29th as they launch into their second decade with new material and a brand new line-up. SCORE will be available in stores on 9/11.
Transcendent synth pop princess Nite Jewel has just announced the reissue of her debut album, Good Evening (2008), through Secretly Canadian. In addition to the original content-- woozy, lo-fi lounge-pop creations saturated with R&B sensibilities-- the release will include two bonus tracks, both of which are now streaming for a week only on the label's soundcloud. "Kamera Song" is a nod to celebrated krautrock forebearers, Can.
Good Evening will be available for purchase November 11th.
Teams and Jónó Mí Ló of Daytime Television got together and recorded a series of exciting instrumental tracks between 2008 and this year, all of which can now be heard on Champion, their latest collaborative album. "Ryan Visions" is an atmospheric cut, laced with reverberating drums and ominous, fleeting textures.
Champion is now available on Orange Milk.
Funk-infused hip hop is a fine thing, though only when done correctly. Lucky for us, Baltimore's Rick Rab seems to have everything under control. "I GOT U" is a shameless launch into the producer's world of deviant dance music, and if it's any indication of his LP's direction -- a swift push to the dancefloor -- it's certainly a release to stay tuned for.
The Prance LP is set to drop later this month via Hoss Records.
The soundtrack to one of the most celebrated cult films of all time is to be commemorated with a reissue this week via Sacred Bones Records. David Lynch's uncannily beautiful tale of isolation and industrial collapse, Eraserhead, made its way to the forefront of underground cinema years after its initial release in 1977. Though wrought with both cultural and historical significance, perhaps the single most remarkable aspect of the film is its sound design. Together with the legendary Alan Splet, Lynch conducted countless experiments-- some in bathtubs-- to achieve his results: a world of incredibly crafted urban soundscapes that sing of desolation and decay, nightmare and noise. Says Lynch, "I think, if you turn the lights down and play this [album] in full, a whole world can emerge in your head. And it will be really, really beautiful."
Below is a recently unearthed recording of what is widely regarded as the film's most notable composition, "In Heaven", words written by Lynch and composed by Peter Ivers, who we chronicled here.