Absolutely fire showcase of St. Lucia’s Kuduro Soca or “Dennery Segment” sound, a local style notorious for slack lyrics and its hi-NRG pace, here served up spicy as fuck by one of the Caribbean island’s premiere DJs for Uganda’s Nyege Nyege Tapes.
Packing pure heat from the town of Dennery in St. Lucia’s Mabouya Valley, DJ Chengz’ mixtape extends an unmissable introduction to Dennery Segment, a fast and grimy offshoot of the Angola “Hard ass” style of Kuduro that’s been banned in the region for its blend of salacious lyrics and rave-inciting rhythms. Also incorporating strong influence from Zouk and Lucian drums, Dennery Segment is a super strong example of punkishly road level party music from the Afro-Caribbean diaspora that highlights the pronounced, technoid Portuguese accent dominating global dancefloor dialogues right now.
Catching 67’ of rudely stripped down drum loops and hooks locked with MCs chatting sexually charged filth in Kwéyòl (Saint Lucian Creole), the mix arguably recalls the energy of Carnival as much as the grime and Soca that went into UKF, and bristles with the electric rawness of early Marfox and classic Príncipe. But the defining feature is really the raunchy lyrical content, working in a long tradition of XXX-rated Soca styles but with a bang up-to-the-second sense of economy and directness touching on everything from alcohol problems to “Sex like spaghetti”, and galvanised by the jabbing, gruffly rhythmelodic urgency of the productions.
Little known beyond the region, perhaps aside from diaspora carnivals in US and EU, the infectious percolations of Dennery Segment are bound to incite fervent reactions with all discerning dancers and listeners who love it as rugged and rawly stylish as it comes. DJ Chengz’ expertly selected and blended mixtape is the ideal entry point to Kuduro’s latest mutation for anyone with hips and ears attuned to thrilling new music from the tropics.
Following the remarkable gothic pop excavations of her recent ‘Birthmarks’ album, Hilary Woods provides the 7th instalment in our Documenting Sound series, recorded in County Galway earlier this year and conjuring a claustrophobic and fractious fever-dream somewhere between suffocating Lynchian interior and Deathprod’s astral/metaphysical gateway.
Woods’ backstory is by now well known, she was the bassist for JJ72 while still a teenager, left the band in 2003 to study film and literature and eventually returned to music solo, culminating in that incredible ‘Birthmarks’ album earlier this year, co-produced with Lasse Marhaug and for our money one of the most brutally beautiful albums we’ve heard in a long time.
The three pieces on this tape were made in the weeks just after that album was released - right at the cusp of lockdown - and reveal an artist coming to grips with the minutiae of everyday existence. Quiet field recordings are drowned out by anxious drones; immense, shuddering bass rumbles approach on the horizon, a vision of bowed strings circles above like a swarm of insects you can’t see - intensifying and curdling until there’s a complete loss of vision, all that’s left is quiet dread.
On the closing piece, the gaze turn inwards. The incessant mechanism of a polaroid camera provides spatial fuckery. Hilary’s voice is there for the first time as well, but it's only right at the end - in the closing moments - that she lets you hear what she has to say.
New on Shelter Press; endless* piano and tape loop variations by Australian composer and multi-disciplinary artist, Lisa Lerkenfeldt; "An unfolding fantasy through the field of time.” (*not literally endless, like, 40 mins).
We know, we know, "ambient" piano music has been lacking gas since long before Spotify-sponsored neo-bourgeois chill-out terror cells got anywhere near The BBC Proms, but hear us out. Influenced by key-gaze OG and prominent Cocteau Twins collaborator Harold Budd, Aussie composer Lisa Lerkenfeldt offers here an ivory hued fever dream - an endless piano and tape loop variation for isolated states.
"A Liquor Of Daisies" was written for three pianos, suggested as a proposal for "multiple players and machines" and dedicated to a plant: Melbourne's Xerochrysum Viscosum, the everlasting daisy. And while not much happens in almost forty minutes, it offers a much-needed glacial foil to the rapid-fire news cycle and infinite doomscroll. Slow, saturated piano tones gently toss and turn, marinating in their own hazy reverb trails. The duration and repetition pinpoints a feeling of anti-social distance and of reflection and meditation as the world contorts itself around us. Radical softness? Sure. Fans of Akira Rabelais' frosty "Eisoptrophobia" should investigate immediately.
Kevin Drumm takes us to the precipice of loss and melancholy on this stark 8th instalment in our Documenting Sound series. Fuelled by feelings of saudade and isolation, Drumm takes the concept of field recordings to a different place; asking someone else to record their life - so that he can re-construct.
On one side: Drumm recording at home, on his own. ‘Double the room’, because there should be someone there with him, a close family member. It’s a field recording of that space; processed, alien, isolated, like trying to tune a shortwave radio - there is life somewhere, but too much interference to find it.
On the other: 'The Better Space’, the place where that family member is, somewhere Drumm can’t be. Here, he’s asked them to make a recording for him, so he can take part in it for a moment. There is more colour and warmth, fragility - but viewed from afar. A sound like a cymbal offers metre, a measure of time, fleeting and endless. Right at the end, a weight is lifted. Strings waft from a distance, tiny movements, breathing, no words.
Kelman Duran gives up the sixth volume in our Documenting Sound series with half an hour of spectral, humid and downbeat dembow, recorded in Peckham last month and hugely recommended if yr into DJ Python’s epic Mas Amable album, Florentino, Burial.
Infused with the same enigmatic elements that have permeated even the most uptempo cuts on his two excellent albums 1804 KIDS and 13th Month, the 9 tracks here flow from his by-now trademarked style of bumping and morose world-building; danceable cuts lost in contemplation, high on atmospherics but still swinging.
The fast production style suits him; these tracks are shorter and less wrought then pretty much anything you’ll find on his last album; where edits so often function as optimisations for the dance, here - for obvious reasons - they take on a more ghostly and solitary quality.
It all comes to a head on the closing edit of ‘die here’ - surely the most doe-eyed, sticky and beautiful thing in all his catalogue.
Composed, performed & mixed by Heather Leigh "at home with the window open” in Glasgow, the fifth release in our Documenting Sound series is a shocking half hour of music; a 13 track opus that is, by any measure, nothing short of a modernist folk masterpiece. Recorded quickly and instinctively in April this year and described by David Keenan as sounding like "a cross between Meredith Monk, DOME and A Guy Called Gerald", it continues to reveal new dimensions with every listen.
Heather Leigh is a musical polymath in the truest sense of the word; primarily known as an influential practitioner of pedal steel guitar, her work is impossible to pigeonhole - all-over-the-place in the best way, from collaborations with Peter Brötzmann and Shackleton to a properly mind-bending duo of albums for Stephen O’Malley’s Ideologic Organ and Editions Mego - hers is a sound that’s both highly sensual and aesthetically aggressive, beautiful and fearless, always exploratory.
Played on pedal steel guitar, synthesiser and cuatro, and featuring Heather Leigh’s voice throughout, the songs here capture a sense of physical longing wrapped up in a boundless creative energy. What started out as hours of diaristic recordings quickly became honed and crafted into powerful and highly memorable songs - vast in scope and depth of feeling. It’s hard to fathom that these 13 songs were made on the hoof, they capture that most elusive of artistic qualities - a compulsion to evolve.
Working on this series has been a real eye-opener for us, a thought experiment turned real - what happens when an established artist is asked to produce material quickly and without much pre-planning or afterthought? The answer, so often, has been an immense pleasure to behold. But this one, this one’s unreal.