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Monthly Archives: June 2014

sumochief

 

Hip-hop and jazz are genres which, while not necessarily standardly associated with one another, have something of a natural affinity: that similar inclination towards boundless, exciting, uninhibited free-styling and improvisation.  Think of The Roots and their bluesy, soulful off-the-cuff sounds; the sultry vibe of Mark Farina’s Mushroom Jazz compilations; Robert Glasper’s mesmerising musical explorations; or, indeed, the slick, seamless beats and production of J Dilla.

Thus enter Londoners SumoChief, straight out of the spectacular creative hub that is Steez, bringing live instrumentation back to the forefront of the game with their new ‘Sumobeats’ EP, out last week on Lunatick Records.  The sound is fresh and fairly minimalist, with pretty trills of keyboard, chilled, airy beats and sweet, fluid lines of guitar rippling over the top in track ‘1 of 1’.  The sublime ‘Gator Season’ has a somewhat more urban feel, with beautiful piano samples and a perfect dusky feel which just begs to have some verses spit over the top – a sentiment that makes the reworking of the song into ‘It is What It Is’ with guest bars from MadLean a very welcome addition to the end of the EP.  Slam the Poet and Cecil B Demented feature too, on the sweet and breezy ‘Segundo’, while ‘Happy Joy’ is a little odd – if gratifyingly so – with a recording of Alan Watts expounding on music interspersed throughout the pleasantly laid back, immersive melodies.

There’s a nice immediacy and freshness to their use of live instrumentation in hip-hop, and there’s something incredibly telling about the sample in ‘Gator Season’ where the speaker laments, “There’s a whole generation that attends concerts now who has no idea what live music is supposed to be about”. Sumochief could be bringing this new generation of hip-hop fans back to that exquisite rawness that only comes with live music.  It’s not groundbreaking, certainly, but ‘Sumobeats’ is a welcome start: a respectful nod to those in the genre before them, and a looming promise of exciting future collaborations to meld with their crepuscular sounds.

TT_hi (by Robert Glowacki)

Technology and teamwork are both words one might associate with the World Cup, a sporting event which I essentially stay aware of and mention for fear of otherwise being socially ostracised.  Topical reference to prove my worth now made, Technology+Teamwork are in fact a band comprising of Anthony Silvester (of XX Teens) and Sarah Jones (of both Hot Chip and NYPC).  After meeting at Bestival, the pair decided to create music together, and thus exists the strangely entrancing new debut single, Small Victory.  It’s an odd track – slightly jarring and dissonant with its ethereal, dislocated vocals singing the sweet little refrain of “You saw something in me (I didn’t know what you were looking for) / something no one else can see (I didn’t know what you were staying for)”, both their disconcertingly electronically-treated, robotic yet warm voices melding together over the top of eerie, whirring, whooshing melodies and beautifully light, frenetic rhythms.  Then there are the yet-to-be released remixes – a squelchy, upbeat version from Joe Goddard that vaguely recalls New Order, and a gorgeous, dazzling, slow yet funky take from Grosvenor.

The single is out via Parlour Records on 21st July [pre-order here], and is very much worth a listen if somewhat disarming, unusual synth-pop is your thing.