The found-sound clanks of ‘New Haven’, the rolling garage of ‘My Friends Will Always Say’ or the soulful breaks of ‘Some Day My Queen Will Come’ – the genre-jumbling back catalogue of FaltyDL is a dizzying delight. Hat doffed to a great 2015 then, notably a shimmering junglist solo outing as Drew Lustman and his return to the dancefloor for ‘Rich Prick Poor Dick’ earlier this autumn.

‘Rich Prick…’ was a thudding club stomp that shuddered the fillings from your rotting teeth. ‘Visceral’, then, comes as a surprise, not least with the uncomfortable realisation that it’s nothing like its name. ‘Visceral’ centres around an orchestral melody, almost adolescent in tone, that reminded me of the gentle theatrics of Plaid. Unlike those aforementioned teeth, this tune glints in the light, and is almost mathematically neat. The beat trips over itself later on, leading to a messier interlude that allows spatial dynamics typical of his previous work on In The Wild, but then, polish my gnashers with a toilet brush, the melody’s back, overriding things, making things safe, so fresh and so clean.

Although also orchestral, ‘The Ah Track’ on the flip side is more about the beat. Its two-chord lead sashays across frequencies with beautiful confidence, leaving the busy cymbals to drive the energy forward. It’s an earworm. I wonder if this should have been the lead track. Album number four beckons at Falty towers, and such variance between ‘Rich Prick…’ and ‘Visceral’ offers little clue of what’s to come.



Branches EP
Loci Records

On his new EP, Branches, Manchester’s very own Frameworks, aka Matthew Brewer, treats us to a symphony of warm, comforting, downtempo beats. Although bearing a resemblance to the likes of Bonobo, this is by no means a mere spinoff trading on the popularity of the man from Brighton. Instead it’s something different, and fresh enough to catch the ears of Emancipator, whose Loci Records label has released it and whom he supported at Mint Lounge back in 2013.

The titular track is bursting with sound, and although there’s a lot going on it still manages to retain a certain delicacy. It gradually builds towards its peak, tricking you by prematurely plateauing twice before beginning the climb again with more feeling behind it. The melodic, structured composition of the song is reminiscent of Kiasmos and BadBadNotGood, and is as suited to the dancefloor as it is to chilling out at home with a couple of drinks.

For me, the best is saved until last. ‘The Passenger’ incorporates a smart horn section alongside shimmering chimes and the more usual beats and snaps, elevating the track to a funkier plane, further diversifying it from the norm and showing that Frameworks isn’t a one trick pony. But more importantly it proves once more that creativity in Manchester’s music scene isn’t dead.

David Ewing

Jr Ambassador

b + bp / pis sity
Self released

Reminiscent of latter stage Dirty Beaches and the simmering jams of Bohren & der Club of Gore, Manchester’s Jr Ambassador here craft two slices of caustic, groaning ambience that radiate confidence and ambition. Tracks ‘b + bp’ and ‘pis sity’ make up a brooding and glacial take on elements drawn from free-form jazz, avant-garde excursions and tangential musique concrete. Despite their prominent virtues, they perhaps suffer from an occasional scattershot approach.

A tribal rhythm and reverberating, pulsating horns characterise ‘b + bp’, setting the oblique tone with dense textures and an acidic pitch. But it’s on ‘pis sity’ that the duo reveal a truly engrossing dimension of their music, allowing their trance-inducing drone to unfold and evolve through a series of atmospheres, a stoned drawl that seduces as much as it repels.

Its flaws are few but noticeable. The unnecessary drum section at the finale of side two somewhat cheapens the preceding brilliance, whilst the jittering interruptions of the first seem rushed and forced rather than an organic feature of the track.

This is undoubtedly the work of talented musicians wearing their influences on their sleeves, but is distinctive enough to qualify as a strong release in this niche genre. It will be interesting to observe how their music develops over future releases. Although they may instead continue to explore the current incarnation of their sound, if they do choose to evolve there is a sense that they may be capable of something special.

Kristofer Thomas

Roots Manuva

Big Dada

Roots Manuva is a name synonymous with hip hop in the UK. Forever changing and evolving his sound, his latest release, Bleeds, sees him working with the likes of Four Tet, Adrian Sherwood and young British producer Fred.

Covering everything from class and addiction to the benefits of a good cry, lyrically Bleeds is more of what you’d expect from Manuva. Tongue-in-cheek wordplay mixes with reflections on society and the personal psyche, a reaction to what he calls “today’s climate of get money, get laid, get high”. The sheer simplicity of the production on tracks like ‘Facety 2:11’ and ‘Stepping Hard’ couldn’t work better with this lyricism, the beats allowing the subject matter to come through and his delivery to shine.

If you listen to Roots Manuva for the bars, then it’s hard to fault Bleeds, but on occasion the production seems confused. ‘Hard Bastards’, with its string-heavy beat and anthemic chorus, won’t be to everybody’s taste. Neither will ‘Cargo’, a song about which the man himself says, “I’ve never played a stadium but I always thought I better have a stadium song, because one never knows what might come up in future.”

Bleeds is by no means a bad album. The lyrical content and Manuva’s ability to deliver it can’t be faulted. Tracks like ‘Fighting For’, with its strained chorus and piano loops, and the Barry White-sampling ‘Don’t Breathe Out’, are reminders of how good he can really be. It just means it’s even more of a shame when the production of some tracks lets this songwriting down.

George Springthorpe