So here we are with the final four albums of our twelve that make up the Universal Wax top 12 of ’12. This time it’s Toms selection which is as broad as ever and features some really fantastic records. I couldn’t agree more with the inclusion of the Journey OST which has been one of the most beautiful scores I’ve heard for a long time and as any long time readers may recall we’re already big Andrew Bird fans here at Universal Wax. This will be our final post of 2012, however we’ll be following this one up in the new year with our notable mentions (those that didn’t quite make our top twelve) and some upcoming artists to look out for in 2013. In the meantime, from all at Universal Wax, we hope you have had a wonderful Christmas and are about to have a fantastic New Year, enjoy our now complete Universal Wax Top 12 of ’12 and let us know what you think in the comments below! – Sam
I Used To Be, Chris Stolz’s second album under the TiredEyes monicker, was one of my favourite and most played records of last year. Its jazzy beats and laid back feel made for fantastic summer listening with some infectious melodies that really stuck. Dusty analogue vibes, warm production and an unhurried pace set a bar that any musician would be hardpressed to top. And so, just over one year on, Constellations arrives in time for the last month or two of warm weather (here in the UK anyway).
Where I Used To Be arrived with a shot of energy on title track I Used To Be, Constellations takes a subtler route and opts to build slowly with the smokey Cosmic Echoes. It’s lazy, considered, and thoroughly cinematic. And this is what sets Constellations apart from debut There in the Shade and last years I Used To Be. It’s that experience from three albums under one project. A confidence and swagger that can only become apparent after the foundations have been laid and then tested.
Tracks build, vocal samples tease, beats reverberate; crackles, hissing and pops layer onto a wide selection of instruments. It’s a pleasure to listen to and if stuck with, will reveal a surprising level of detail that a quick listen might mask. The latter half of the album really shines with tracks like Nylon Trees and Stay Inside being stunning examples of what Stolz can do, the latter containing a great sample from Peggy Lees Johnny Guitar. It’s moody, sweeping and cinematic.
So how does Constellations stack up to I Used To Be? It effectively continues right where its predecessor left off, in fact it wouldn’t sound out of place if it were a side two – just a slower and more confident side two. That’s not to it’s detriment though, Constellations is still a superb record through and through and familiarity is as much as a good thing as a bad thing. Change for changes sake is not always a good thing and this is a perfect example when you’ve hit a great formula not to mess with it too much. As above, what is there however is a far more polished experience; further refined, cinematic and confident. Stolz’s beats sound just as organic, his sampling tighter and the details finer. This is what makes TiredEyes stand out from a large number of the other beatmakers at the moment, fine detailing. It’s exciting to put a pair of headphones and come out so rewarded and Constellations does not disappoint.
Constellations is available for download from TiredEyes bandcamp page for $10 (USD)
Tracklisting is as follows,
- Blast Off (00:51)
- Cosmic Echoes (03:26)
- Orbital (03:10)
- Golden (02:09)
- Pain (03:01)
- Imagery (01:48)
- Maydrum (01:53)
- Move Like This (02:41)
- Run Free (02:32)
- Such A Sky (01:36)
- Lean Back (02:27)
- Sit By The Door (02:56)
- Empty Chamber (01:15)
- We’re Not Home (01:49)
- Mellow Breeze (02:08)
- Space Bass (03:53)
- Nylon Trees (02:51)
- Stay Inside (03:31)
- Obedient Workers (01:54)
Geoff Barrow of Portishead fame; under the moniker of Fuzzface, has a new hip-hop project called Quakers.
Barrow, producing the project along with Portishead engineer 7-Stu-7 and Australia’s DJ Katalyst, worked with over 35 artists to create a 41 track album.
The album started when the producers uploaded a series of beats to their Myspace page for anyone to download. People were then encouraged to rap over the samples and return them to the group. Entries that the group liked were then included on the album. Artists that contributed include Dead Prez, Prince Po, Aloe Blacc, Guilty Simpson, and M.E.D.
The reasoning behind the project is that the three like-minded producers, disillusioned with the current hip-hop landscape, wanted to create a record that they would like to listen to themselves. The method they used, meant that a wide range of genuine talent could be be showcased on the project, not just the current hottest names. Hence the name Quakers; it comes from ‘earthquake’ – they’re here to shake the foundations.
The various vocal talent is held together with a heavy, lo-fi and gritty production style, that can be heard to great effect on the first track released – Fitta Happier. The track features Guilty Simpson and M.E.D rapping over what seems to be a marching band covering Radiohead’s ‘National Anthem’.
Listen to Fitta Happier (ft. Guilty Simpson and M.E.D.) below
I really like the sound of this track and I’m looking forward to the album that comes out on 27th March.
The album will be available on Stones Throw Records as 2/LP, Digital, and 2/CD (vocal disc & instrumental disc).
The self titled Lilacs & Champagne debut will be released next Tuesday (31st January). Alex Hall and Emil Amos of instrumental rockers Grails are presenting us with, in their own words, “hip-hop, tape-collage and the darkest creases of 70′s film-soundtracks with their lysergic and perverse style of head-music.” Sounds intriguing doesn’t it. You can hear the superb Everywhere, Everyone taken from the self-titled below. Definitely looking forward to this one.
Head over to Mexican Summer to pick up a copy.
K. Flay has a new track up from her imminent EP Eyes Shut which is ready to drop in the new year. You can hear it either on her facebook page or head over to HIPHOP DX to check it out there if you’re not a facebooker. It’s got a big, in your face agressive sound as you can probably guess from the title We Hate Everyone and it’s full of big beats and K. flays usual vocal style. It’s brilliant. Eyes Shut couldn’t come soon enough.