- I've been kind of amazed at how fast new styles of beats have been leaping out across the world. Started by starving, street-level producers on the mean-streets of Chicago one second, taken up by eager beat nuts everywhere from Edinburgh to Melbourne the next and before you know it Kanye'll be banging 'em out too, with Rihanna singing sweetly across the top. I remember when beats had to do the hard yards, go through an apprenticeship, it's not like the old days, yada yada. Whatever, it has to be the internet which is doing it: from you to youtube to the world in five seconds flat. It definitely has its downside; take dubstep: from deep underground to world-wide sensation to smoking ruin, all in the time it takes to witness a horrific car accident. The upside is that, wherever you are (with an internet connection) you and your peeps don't have to feel like the ignorant country cousin any more, the beats you've got are every bit as up to the minute as anywhere in the world. You could be in Western Australia, for instance, like Perth producer Ta-ku. He's associated with those friendly beat-collective folks The Community and Paper Chain records. I should confess, that despite the instantaneousness of the web, Ta-ku has actually done his apprenticeship, at the Red-Bull Academy. He hooked up with all sorts of famous folks there and absorbed their knowledge and has been making exciting connections around the world ever since, be it collaborating with Chet Faker or appearing on a Gilles Peterson comp. In the spirit of the above, I read about him on a blog, and, like, a minute later I'd downloaded his new album Retwerk from his bandcamp site. Glad I did too, it's neat, if a lot like a trade-expo for every style of beat dropped in the last five minutes. It starts in avant-r'n'b, melodious slivers of vocal sample raining over the hyperactive, tinnily snapping snares and the seismic bass. Those beats belong to Footwork, or maybe trap, honestly, I'm sure I'll get in trouble for saying this, but sometimes I have trouble telling the difference. Just to clear things up, a couple of tracks you'll hear the archetypal Footwork of Hustle, with its pitch-shifted vocal sample booming 'bass-bass-bass', just as it should. Straight after it we bump into Hey Justin, grooving to the hand-crafted sounds of Wonky, stumbling along, but, excitingly, changing things up with an injection of really speeding beats, before plummeting down into huge, synthy bass to take us out. Just about my favourite is definitely the most subtle. A collaboration with Noyce (I do not know who that is) Buggin' Me (Unsure) maxes out on ambient atmosphere and quiet, bell-like synth and throws down an r'n'b vocal so cut-up it sounds like the aural equivalent of a ransom note created out of words cut out of various newspapers. That's just really original and it gives me the good kind of chills every time I hear it. On top of the collection of shiny new original productions there's a collection of remixes produced for a real variety of folks from Hermitude and Kendrick Lamar to Snakadaktal of all people. They're all good, rounding out a pretty sweet record.
- Chris Cobcroft.