I Am Demo Suzuki: Unsigned Sounds for April
, April 16th, 2013 07:04
Welcome to the first installment of the Quietus' new column looking at the best unsigned and self-released music that the suffering Sophie Coletta has found amidst the vile bog of shite online
It may not come as a surprise to many, but there is a lot of shit music on the internet. Honestly. Oozing out from every darkened corner of Soundcloud, Bandcamp and YouTube are colossal cesspools of ear-bleeding noises, hopelessly catalogued into endless self-released albums and demo tracks. I'm talking drone records recorded on iPhones that sound like 40 minutes of reverbed asthma attack; indie albums that sound baser than the sound of a hundred graphic t-shirts being loaded off the van into an awaiting Topman store; hip hop odes to spaghetti nervously rapped over 50 Cent's 'In Da Club' by skinny little white boys barely out of secondary school.
When I was initially asked to do this column I took it on without a second thought, oblivious to the heights of mild anguish it would take me to. I emerge, months later, physically exhausted, emotionally drained and hungry for the delicate, tranquil tones of silence. Here are some tracks and albums from artists that didn't make me want to slice off my own ears and stick my face into my flatmate's brand new Magimix 5100.
Possibly named after the Blue Öyster Cult song of the same name, more probably once a prefix to a teenage Hotmail email account, babyicedog is a project that explores the limitations of time and space in a world that never stops moving. There are currently seven tracks on Soundcloud, which have each been recorded between the UK, UAE, Sicily, Germany, and China, created whilst on trains and U-Bahns, in hotels rooms and airports; trapped within microcosms of transience that are inhabited briefly by the ever-moving human form.
Recorded on a bullet train travelling from Shanghai to Beijing, 'ni yao mo wo ma de jiji ma?' is a socially invasive composition, treading a narrative of minimal footsteps down carriage corridors and past luggage racks, stumbling through fragmented conversations, (“Say it again”/“No!”), breaching on moments of intimacy but only ever for a fleeting second. Vocals are much of a framing device in these tracks, that is until you get to 'Dolphins are Wankers', in which bubbling ripples of sound froth over into a continuous spoken mechanical vocal, Germanic and industrial in its delivery, before it stutters, fuzzing into a half sung, half spoken climax, becoming almost indistinguishable as either human or instrument. Apparently dolphins are prone to rapaciously attacking menstruating women when in their proximity. Maybe they are wankers.
As a product of the dot com era, I, like many others, like to know things. If I don't, and there is no one available to answer my quandary, I am straight to the nearest flat-screened device, frantically Googling until I am content that my thirst for knowledge has been satisfied. When I discover that there is virtually no information about The Fuzz swimming around on the internet other than the fact they're from Montréal, or have at least have indeed tagged themselves with the word Montréal, I'm understandably a little lost. After a series of unsuccessful Google trawls I try to picture them in my mind, but soon figure it's better to leave them to their enigmatic online presence. This is how an inaugural listening to new bands should be; no sycophantic press release attempting to feed plethora of old clichés into your mouth, putting you off before you've even listened to anything because at the top of the page is a photo of four floppy haired 'yuths' that look like they've non-ironically been fired out of a cannon straight through their local charity shop.
It's a good job really, because the music The Fuzz make is visceral, fleshy and indeed needs no visual accompaniment. There's something of a hint of British-ness to their short four online tracks – think Warsaw with a heavier, sludgier sentiment. 'Dead Horse' is storming and abrasive, and along with its at the bottom of the local swimming pool vocals, the track embodies a distinct lo-fi quality that probably comes more from a lack of financial backing rather than artistic decision. As I write, a fourth track appears on the band's Bandcamp page. Titled 'Liars' it runs at a svelte 1:51; guitars wrestling furiously, the vocals sailing back over the Atlantic towards a sound that more resembles Thee Oh Sees circa The Master's Bedroom Is Worth Spending A Night In.
Nacho Picasso and Blue Sky Black Death – Exalted (Self-released)
“Hey record labels, hey big wigs, you want to eat with me you better bring a big bib,” Nacho Picasso raps on his self-released album Exalted. Created with fellow Seattle-based production duo Blue Sky Black Death, Exalted was his third full-length of 2012, following the release of two free albums, Radio Edits and Lord Of The Fly. Whilst it is the habit of many unsigned rappers to freely wield the same exuberant pre-contract ego, it's difficult to argue that Mr Picasso's cockiness is unwarranted.
And anyway isn't that half the point of hip hop? Rulers out, proverbial dicks on the table? On the surface Nacho Picasso is your everyday rapper. The usual thematic content is all there: the drugs, the bitches, the hood – but throughout Exalted there also seems to be a broader set of cultural references at work; deliberated bars referencing Hunter S. Thompson and Tutankhamen running over Groundhog Day samples and Don Logan rants. His bars shift seamlessly from self-deprecating to cocky, occasionally even verging on humorous. The intelligence of BSBD's production is key here, often drawing parallels with the gooey, velvety lasciviousness of Clams Casino, Kingston Maguire and Ian Taggart's sleek, dark production allows Nacho a canvas on which to paint his convoluted lines without being overcome by the amateur over-808-ed production that betrays so many underground rappers.
Fergus 'Gus' McClements is a 25-year-old Scottish producer who throws out tracks online every month or so under the moniker of Guised. McClements' sound is one that hasn't seemed to have solidified as of yet, which means you can find a range of genres of songs floating around on his Soundcloud page.
Take 'Show Me' for example, a techno stomper with a looping bassline that whirls in and out of focus around your head like a never-ending migraine that has you habitually reaching for the aspirin. A clipped Mya sample veers over discontinuous caustic percussion, creating a sound that is categorically dancefloor fodder. It's club-friendly yes, but there are hints of something a little more sinister here; its warped contours following you home down every winding road and back alley and right up to your front door. By contrast, 'Nights' is a slow burning house track, preferring a preface of hazy airport-esque tannoy announcements that seep slowly into a patter of soothing vocals, delicate piano chords and car-key clunking percussion, ultimately giving way to a weightier, bass-driven summit. For those interested, Guised will be playing his first ever show at the Witness night at Sneaky Pete's in Edinburgh on 1st May.