BadBadNotGood

IV
INNOVATIVE LEISURE

It's hard to believe that BADBADNOTGOOD have only been going for six years when you consider the wealth of material they've released. A few mixtapes, some collaboration with Frank Ocean and Odd Future, and five albums including one with Ghostface Killah, but they've all been consistently good.

The Canadian jazz hip hop group have now added a fourth member to their ranks, saxophonist Leland Whitty, who has worked with them previously, and his addition brings a more consistent jazz vibe than before. 2016 sees them release their latest effort, IV, and takes them away from working with Tony Stark, aka Ghostface, into more familiar territory.

IV is a largely instrumental album and an impressive one at that. It's a nice blend of upbeat and mellow tracks that make it an essential summer listen, with featured artists like KAYTRANADA, Sam Herring and Charlotte Day Wilson keep it fresh.

The standout track has to be the feature with Herring, 'Time Moves Slow', his smoky voice captivating you straight away. When vocals are featured, they are impressive.

Having been pleased with their production on the Ghostface album, for me it's nice to see IV is a lot longer than its 30-odd-minute predecessor, clocking in at just over 50 minutes. The extra time means there's more to enjoy, and IV feels more produced with better flow. If you haven't listen to them before, this is a great album to start with.

Brady Frost

Paper Tiger

Blast Off
Wah Wah 45s

Blast Off is an album of pure imagery. The music creates a vibrant landscape on which the lyrics are the landmarks and life forms. The album stems from an eclectic mix of several musical influences which is what sets Paper Tiger apart from many electronic bands with only one producer. It’s not clear if this is an electronic, jazz, funk or R&B album. But what is clear is that Paper Tiger have used elements of each genre artfully.

One device that made the aesthetic nature of the album clear was the stunning music video for ‘Weight in Space’ (feat. Shafiq Husayn). This existential journey of a woman in space is food for the imagination, hinting at a plot but never spoon feeding it to the viewer. In this track the vocals and the melody often become one, with rapper Husayn’s deep voice becoming the bass and the higher pitch of a mystery female vocalist melding with the synth.

The journey continues through the album as snippets of Oriental music fling us to the Far East and the sound of footsteps leaves us gaping at a vast army. You can let your imagination run wild when its endless subtleties of sound evoke so many ideas. This could be due to the large range of influences on the six-person band, from Japanese animation to apocalyptic space-rap. And their endless rota of collaborators means Paper Tiger’s sound avoids repetition and remains fresh.

Emma Nay

Plastic

Drop EP
Local Colour Records

With a sound akin to that of mellower Basement tracks, PLASTIC’s new EP feels drenched with the sorrows of early adulthood. Matt Awbery’s melodic yet achingly throaty vocals intertwined with the dense, tar-like guitars facilitate an angst that sticks to the sides of your brain.

The first track, ‘Dirty Air’, is steady yet comforting, a cut-off point from the rest of the world into which you can throw all of your troubles. The record feels like walking home in the heart of winter following an unwinnable argument. But this is more than teenage angst. In ‘My Ashtray Mouth’, chasmic shouts reveal a deeper motive, a strong and tearing heartbreak fuelled by the frustration of human relationships. Arguably, the track is similar in terms of rhythm and the guitars feature as little variation as ‘Dirty Air’, but what it lacks in this sense it makes up for in structural deviation - the changing vocals alone are enough to keep the tracks separate and memorable. ‘Spiral’ tells instantly of Nirvana influences with an impactful intro, palm muted verse, and lyrics that melodiously hum of self-hatred.

The record in its entirety is quite typically emo. It checks every box for the genre’s conventions without a doubt, but despite this, it still manages to stand as a promising start to an exciting band’s career. The sound does require some refining: a little sharper on the shouted vocals, a little more spice in the guitar. But my emo personality enjoyed it, and that’s good enough for me.

Sara Louise Tonge

Nawksh

MYTHIC TALES OF TOMORROW II
GURUGURU BRAIN

As Pakistan’s largest and most populous city, and the centre of a flourishing underground music scene, Karachi is fertile ground for creative expression.

One artist to emerge out of this scene is producer Nawksh. His debut LP, Mythic Tales of Tomorrow II, is a kaleidoscope of fluid and short-lived tracks, most well under two minutes, aside from the album’s twelve-minute closer, ‘Exile & Mirror’, which is itself a collection of transient, hazy loops. In this sense, the album might owe its patchwork quality to its birthplace. It's bustling, dense and unpredictable, but like Pakistan’s City of Lights, it’s also peppered with moments of shimmering beauty.

Despite this, the most obvious reference points come from outside of Karachi. Nawksh is clearly tapping into the sounds of Los Angeles’ psych-tinged beat scene, spearheaded by Flying Lotus’ label, Brainfeeder. Leftfield hip-hop beat ‘Scoop Out The Brain’ chops up acoustic guitar alongside sighing vocals, while on ‘Come On In Smile Snatcher’, dissonant and disoriented synths are scattered among frenetic percussion.

A bulk of the album is made up of slightly more structured, though still fairly abstract, tunes like ‘First Friend’, ‘Down The Rodent Hole’, ‘Where Would You Be’ and ‘WAG’. These moments showcase a more lo-fi, shoegazing edge, with pulsing drums and reverb-drenched vocals taking the place of glitches and drones.

If you’ve never thought about the cultural undercurrents of Karachi, let this album be your entry point. But it might take a while to regain your bearings.

Aidan Daly