Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Singles of the year: 41-50


Welcome back to in love with these times, in spite of these times, the fanzine that will never accept “party” as a verb, “bake” or “invite” as nouns, or “obligate” as a word.

41. Scorzayzee “Gangsta Wraps (Take The Throne)” (Gangsta Wraps)

There aren’t so many rappers out there with a thing for sustainable food production, but then Scorz is no ordinary rhymer. This 12” - promoting the eco-conscious Gangsta Wraps brand - sees him re-indulge last year’s florid fantasy in which his GM-Unit raid McDonald’s to secure a niche for healthy grub, and it’s a sign of just how strong last year’s “Aeon (Peace To The Puzzle)” was that lead EP tune “Gangsta Wraps (Take The Throne)” – not even in the top 10 songs on the long-player, we’d posit - is still a chunkily strong single, all the more so when the 45 then hooks it up with fellow “Peace To The Puzzle” track (and Chester P collabo) “Double Dragon”; a more-fire remix of “Equestrianism” (Jehst and Micall Parknsun amongst the guest MCs); and a newie, the soulful soul-food cut “Gangsta Wraps (Take The Crown)”, which is really rather terrific as it rings with the funky beauty of all those ‘Ice Cube in New York’ tracks of the early 90s.

42. Sven Wittekind “Nimbus” (TK Records)

Tsk. SW moonlighting with singles on other people’s labels (in this case Torsten Kanzler, we’d hazard an ‘initial’ guess). Sven’s going to have to explain himself. To himself.

“Nimbus” is nimble and predictably flawless, if still a jog in the park for someone of Sven’s general artistry, and we’d sellotape it to our turntable if only anyone had bothered to put it out on vinyl. Plus, via Stuttgart Raphael Dincsoy cooks up a Fully Loaded Re-Work (more a sprint in the park, then). Basically, “Nimbus” is spotless (just like Mr MacKay’s wife) and if anyone at DExEU dares try to set tariffs on the import of German techno, we’re going to be incandescent.

43. Virgil Enzinger & Mantra Of Machines “Samgitaya” (I.Cntrl)

It’s often ‘VE Day’ round here, as the foundations throb to the Enzinger’s moody slabs of dark techno. Here, he collaborates with himself, basically, in his guise as Mantra of Machines. There’s a bit of a twist, too: in what may turn out to be our Virgil’s “Jullandar Shere”, he slows things down, succumbs to Eastern chants and rhythms and in doing so re-fashions a whole genre (yaaay). Sounds nothing like last year’s magisterial “Schlafendes Feuer” (the tune that launched 1,000 remixes), but it’s very nearly as magisterial. Also, best Austrian single this year.

44. Young Scum “Zona EP“ (Dufflecoat)

Reminding us of all sorts, from Math & Physics to Pants Yell! or early Aden, the lads of Young Scum range their fairly flawless and timeless American indie-pop skills over five strong songs, of the type that now surface all-too rarely on the indie disco wheels of steel.

45. Lewis Parker “Release The Stress” (King Underground)

I remember the moment I first heard Lewis Parker, because it was one of those old-skool record store epiphanies. I was hanging in Selectadisc on Berwick Street (pretty much my second home circa 2004) and they cued up his “Masquerades & Silhouettes” LP, a loose agglomeration of brainy UKHH released via Massive Attack’s major label hook-up. It was fresh and yet not rushed, and I bought the album then and there.

Strangely enough, it never sounded quite so good again as that first time (a bit like when your club gets a loanee, and they’re absolutely scintillating until you give them a permanent deal, and then the magic goes: hello Mark McKeever, hello Justin Channing), but there’s been a considerable upside in having been able to keep a weather eye on Mister Parker’s output over the years since, and this excellent (if extremely expensive) 12” on King Underground is a joy: especially as the woozy funk fug of the original is accompanied by an equally accomplished piano-bar, jazz trio remix.

46. Corvum “Harmony Corruption” (Gynoid Audio)

Corvum references Napalm Death! Er, not sonically though, and probably not entirely deliberately. Here, the ever-prolific Greek producer sensibly splits the 16 minutes of this particular composition into two tracks. Less nuanced and edgily nervy than his earlier 2016 gem “Serpentine”, “Harmony Corruption” I and II both essentially lock into yer cerebellum and pummel it for a bit before bowing and taking their collective leave. Not sure the four remixes add a great deal to the store of human knowledge, though - we’d have liked to see Sophie Nixdorf get her hands on this, if she or Corvum do requests.

47. Leon Switch “Intrepid” (Chestplate)

Yes, the battle with his old Kryptic Mindster Simon Shreeve was like “7 Reasons” vs “Getting Away With It”, or something. A tough-rooted wobblestep anthem on wax, this was easily one of our top dubstep twelves of the year. 

48. The Haywains “The Girl In The Holly Court Diner” (Whoops Records)

Time travel. We’ve finally cracked it. This might be no “I Wouldn’t Want That” or “Bythesea Road”, but it’s a wonderful, knowing and yes, cosy nod to their various outings for Vinyl Japan when the world was much younger, and the scattering of compilation tape appearances that had preceded those. Time has not, it is fair to say, withered the Haywains.

Um, in the spirit of people in the Haywains reforming bands, can somebody (Paul Towler would probably be best) please get on with some new Westfield Mining Disaster material now, please? The last WMD album was an absolute treat.

49. Jessica & the Fletchers “Marble Fountain” (Market Square Records)

Time travel, we’ve finally… oh, we’ve just done that one.

Anyhow, the press blurb thing rattles off the usual stuff about Talulah Gosh and Sarah Records. The first problem with this is that it doesn’t sound anything like any band that ever recorded for Sarah. The second is that apart from maybe a couple of songs, it doesn’t really sound anything like Talulah Gosh ever did. So what they should be saying is that, over the two sides of this great 7”, you’ll hear a bit of bands like Zipper, Free Loan Investments and the Garlands (all rightly fêted) and Strawberry Story (wrongly maligned). Maybe Vacaciones, even, when the Fletchers turn the keyboard up on the B-side. And, as we always say on these occasions, more bands should sound like this (it isn’t, truth be told, overly hard) but don’t. Until they do, this is just what the doctor ordered and we’re certainly not going to criticise it for being more daring.

50. Ultramantis Black “They Make Plans To Poison Us” (self-released)

Ah, the perfectly usual thing wherein an ex-professional wrestler plays eco-friendly, ear-unfriendly, meat-is-murder extreme hardcore and puts it out on a limited edition cassette in a handstamped sleeve made of recycled chipboard. If anything, this is even angrier and more uncompromising than his excellent Relapse Records EP in 2014. A magnificent reminder that despite Trumpism, there is much passion and principle abroad in that place over the water.

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