Copeland - Because I’m Worth It
It is with great fortune that I still had a physical copy of Inga Copeland’s solo debut on vinyl to review. I had returned to my apartment after a three-week stay in Asia and the record arrived somewhere in between. I had found it separated from its mailer, orphaned in a sheet of gauzelike packing. Glaring underneath from a submerged puddle of rainwater was the face of Inga Copeland staring back accusingly. After a second full listen through I can’t understand what would convince whatever neighbour rifling through my mail to leave it let alone in such a sorry state.
If the stoic gaze is any indication, this outing is a far cry from a YouTube encoded descended punk angel spinning around in a tinfoil hat. A fierce work of cinematic composition is echoes some of the very tones of another beloved favourite female producer Mica Levi and her amazing soundtrack to Jonathan Glazer’s “Under the Skin.” It’s a work that nods even further back to great composers like Wendy Carlos and Karlheinz Stockhausen.
Opening with the growing fade of cellphone static, it evokes very early some of the same meditations on technology and rave-kraut aesthetics. But it is easily a challenging record to be made not only for a female but also for a musician. In an age where women particularly are in a constant battle between expressing individuality beyond gender or orientation in the industry, this record makes no mistake in aligned itself with a cause. If the standout duo with underground insurgent Actress is any indicator, “Advice to Young Girls” is more than a bit of an anthem. “The City is yours” being presumably a dancehall futurism fuelled tagline for gender empowerment.
But as much as those trappings can overshadow just how good a record is, it is one that nods to some very eccentric rave ideologies. The drifting on this record is in almost maxinquaye precision provided by the subtle footwork elements distorted through some sort of post techstep hallucination. It’s probably more akin to that voice in the mirror at some four am rave dungeon questioning your own very sorry existence. There is a bit of indictment on multiple listening’s that might just be perceived guilt.
Then again every good record out there isn’t always the easiest listen. Copeland’s outing however does a very good job of staying in the shadows just out of the reach of vandals. Which is to say whatever kind of idiot tries to steal an Inga Copeland record from me and decides to leave it on my porch in the rain, I thank you for at least letting me get to hear it in however shitty condition its in. It is truly a revelation.
Article by: Violet Systems
Traxman - Da Mind Of Traxman (Vol.2)
“It has only been some three odd weeks since the footwork community faced the loss of its international ambassador in Teklife’s DJ Rashad. A close personal friend and frequent collaborator, Traxman probably felt the blow deeper than most. Seeking comfort from his west side neighbourhood of Chicago and extended family on the Internet, Corky was already back in his studio just one day after. Throughout the barrage of press that followed, striking similarities began to surface about the spirit and ethic of both producers. "Da Mind of a Traxman Volume 2" had already been signed, sealed and delivered and yet all agreed that Rashad’s passing from a blood clot had brought everything to a sobering halt.
So to think of “Da Mind” series in context of the history of footwork at this point, it had already existed as a blueprint for a rank and file of experimental and hardcore producers. If we had learned anything from Volume One it was that Traxman’s voice was a very eclectic one. The weight of current events certainly could cast a shadow on Volume Two but in a very different light in hindsight. If anything it’s a triumph and a celebration of the life of one of the most genuine, hard working and diverse voices in Chicago dance music. At the same time it stands as a signpost towards the future of the genre and the long line of unlikely crossovers it will spawn in reaction.
If you look closely at the work of both Corky and Rashad beyond being musicians they are also at their very heart community organizers. Footwork exists as a scene and a movement in the hands of crews like Teklife and their subdivisions are an exercise in activism and empowerment. With an ever-rising murder rate, the Chicago police department and Mayor have struggled for years unsuccessfully to service the needs of west and far south communities. In the wake of almost constant tragedy, there is a long list of records dedicated to friends of the community that passed. These names are far less notable to the press and public than Rashad. And yet their names are championed on in the music most notably with Traxman with acid legends like Armando along with his brother in arms DJ Rashad.
Traxman will tell you point blank that he is first and foremost an educator and historian. His knowledge of music is so vast that it seems only fitting that the records he gives nods to on “Da Mind” help to create an incredibly complex journey. At first listen Volume two is a dense soundscape teetering on the edge of experimental sound art. Yet for Chicagoans at home with the movement it sounds authentic, raw and timely. Arguably this is a hip-hop record in the same vein as the fearless productions of Shocklee’s Bomb Squad. And at the same time it works on so many different levels with different audiences that its odd crossover appeal is infectious. This is future music coming some fifteen minutes west of my cozy apartment bottled up by the politics of the Chicago machine.
Both Traxman and Rashad broke through with a visceral mix of dance mutations but their sounds are miles away from each other. Footwork is a music that didn’t break itself free. It’s a diverse and dense genre of producers who put their neighborhoods on the map. Neighborhoods that are easy enough to visit by train but few bother to make the trek. And so to listen to “Da Mind” in this context its incredibly fascinating to hear music so fresh and daringly psychedelic coming from within the walls of your own city.
Amongst the seemingly endless stand out cuts, “Nothing Stays the Same” hits home skittering in and out with Diana Ross’s scathing proclamation “Its my turn.” Whereas volume one was a perfect introduction to the man, volume two plants you directly inside the head of a man lost in the music. Drifting back and forth from the hazy rhythmic drone of “Mic” to the stark autobahn sped up techno of “Computer Getto” it’s a record that reaches out to every edge of the genre. It has something for everyone and at the same time offers it under Traxman’s rules. Considering the wealth of material sitting in folders on Corky’s personal computer, we may have lost a legend but we gained a friend. “Da Mind of a Traxman Volume Two” carries on the torch driving us relentlessly into the future with a true Chicago legend at the wheel.
Article by: Violet Systems
HATE - Bad History (80 min Cassette, Limited Edition)
We have arrived at a time where early UK hardcore jungle sounds strikingly at home in context to the current 160 bpm revival. There are seemingly endless projects flirting with the sound. A number of stalwarts in the field tend to balk painfully when hearing an amen break paraded out from a dusty cdr or usb stick. Personally I’ve had a number of arguments about rave nostalgia with younger producers. At worst its a generation that is quick to reject their old school compatriots. All the while as they noodle away on some of the same breaks the real champions of hardcore had pioneered.
If "Pretty Boys Don’t Survive Up North" is anything other than an indictment towards that mentality it doesn’t mask much in regards to the project’s moniker. Hate is a trio of such stalwarts consisting of G.H., Andy Stott and Miles Whittaker. Most of which have released love letters to uk jungle before on their own imprints. But none have been particularly interested in taking the argument directly to the dance floor as effectively as their collective work. Now compiled on cassette tape and as of print completely sold out of their limited release, Bad History acts as a retrospective of a modernity that sounds deceptively old school.
Produced from collected floppies from an undisclosed source, the breaks sound beefy and rich. Their native eq’ing has been tailored for the massive sound systems they were played on back in the day. The main complaint with drum and bass nostalgia at this point for those who fought the breakbeat wars of the late nineties always is authenticity. Borrowing heavily from the noise and black metal scene’s aesthetic in terms of design and distribution, Hate makes no mistake of declaring license. Its a sound system in the most proper and historical sense of the word harkening back to the days when self ascribed “bad boy producers” had more dangerous things to say.
Collecting a total of eighty minutes of material including an exclusive session in Sweden, this is no doubt only for the headstrong. For those of us who would complain that this is more of the same yet continue to replay selected bits from the Source Direct back catalog, Hate is something of a revelation. Its dark and foreboding and yet tirelessly aggressive and cranky at the same time. During an era where everyone wants to be seen in the dance music industry, its refreshing to see a crew of hardcore Junglists hiding in the shadows actively ready to subvert it.
Article by: Violet Systems
Allison Chanic - Painlessly In Love
Forthwith threnodial dreamlike instances of a sound garbed in lamentation and introspection; ‘Painlessly In Love’, by Allison Chanic, embodies these qualities in its avant-garde vocals, its fixed tempo of kick drums beating like mallets of temporality in the atemporal cosmos of suppressed hi-hats, dreary pads, and pitched effects. Lakker’s remix treads on similar ground, retaining the vocal hum and complementing it with a heavier kick pattern and hi-hats resonating like smitten anvils, while introducing a rich sci-fi synth line that lingers in the mind pleasantly after listening. ‘Realm’ is as engaging as it is enigmatic, swishing about in a cauldron of disparate sonic ingredients; the constant siren-like sound begets an underlying dread; the various glitching and bursting effects embroider the track with an impressive artificial sheen, which is contrasted by the stereo whispers and spells of organic drumming.
Article by: Jason Nikolaidis