Zack Martino delivers the feel-good energy that the summer season requires with his latest single, “Not Enough” featuring Tanya Lacey. Pulsing piano notes frame Lacey’s commanding vocals, absorbing the listener’s attention from the one-off’s first note. Positivity radiates throughout the production, which juxtaposes with the lyrics’ narration of a story of when love “is not enough.”
Talented New York rappers Wiki, Reed, and Hunnaloe have shared a new collaborative track called “Highs and Lows”. Over top of a smoky beat from DJ Lucas, the three rappers deliver clever verses that bristle with authenticity.
The instrumental for “Highs and Lows” is stellar, featuring dusky horns and raw guitars ringing out over top rich, slow-moving drums. Deep bass glues the instrumental together, providing an enticing groove that adds much replay value to the track. Moreover, the beat culminates in a smooth hook, containing a buttery vocal sample that draws the listener in immediately. Over top, Wiki, Reed, and Hunnaloe trade off some charismatic verses containing clever lyrics and entertaining flows.
Overall, “Highs and Lows” is a strong offering from rappers Wiki, Reed, and Hunnaloe and producer DJ Lucas. This laid-back, enigmatic track is groove-heavy and streetwise, providing the perfect soundtrack for cruising around the city on summer evenings.
Riot Ten has shared the first single “Control” from his forthcoming sophomore album. Featuring rock/rap band Add1ction, the rock and bass hybrid follows the El Paso-based producer’s previous 2020 projects such as his Hype or Die: Emergence EP and his electro-fitted BLKMRKT Vol.1 EP.
“Control” not only bridges Riot Ten’s genre-defying production abilities but also underscores his passions for rock, melding dubstep and alternative rap in a bold dub-rock crossover format. It’s a compelling preview of what’s to come on the Texas-born producer’s forthcoming LP on Dim Mak Records, and an extension of his genre-blurring history, considering that Riot Ten has a long and rich history of hosting indie-rock artists and vocalists alike.
The frightening, darkly beautiful music of Seefeel was revelatory from its early-90s debut. And now with a set of reissues and new projects, it’s the perfect time for David Abravanel to talk to the current Seefeel group. -Ed.
Do you ever get fascinated by music that seems so mysterious as to be scary?
When I discovered Seefeel’s sophomore album, Succour, as a teenager in the 00s, the band was already well into a hiatus and presumed finished. There were no decipherable words, but haunting vocals and echo-laden, claustrophobic loops from indeterminate instruments. It was the kind of listening that worked best for me late a night. It hit the same spot in my brain as The X-Files.
For many years, Succour and its follow-up Ch-Vox have felt like beautiful secrets from almost alien origins. With Warp’s new reissues of the two albums, alongside EPs and singles from the era and a generous wealth of previously-unreleased bonus tracks, this undersung period stands poised to be rediscovered and cherished by new generations.
Some history: when Seefeel debuted with a series of EPs and the full-length album Quique in 1993, the group was often categorized as a kind of experimental shoegaze band. Lush guitar beds were frequently present, and vocals were often blurred to texture. Loops and electronic manipulation were also common, with a clear influence coming simultaneously from electronic music.
In 1994, Seefeel debuted a very different sound with the “Fracture” / “Tied” single. More sparse, spacey, and bassy, the single represented a shift in sound, and in label, as the band had just signed to Warp Records. At the time – years before successes like Grizzly Bear and Battles – much was made of Seefeel being the first guitar band signed to Warp, a label then known for having championed bleep n’ bass and the then still-nascent “IDM” sound. Here was a four-piece band with actual roles – Mark Clifford (guitar & electronics), Sarah Peacock (vocals & guitar), Daren Seymour (bass) and Justin Fletcher (drums) – though many songs such as the ambient wash-outs “Meol” and “Utreat” sounded closer to the unsettling atmospheres of labelmates like Aphex Twin and Mira Calix.
Seefeel’s Warp years were fruitful, with their second album, 1995’s Succour, remaining a high-mark in beat-based music with ambient textures and mysterious (or sometimes mystical) presences and spaces. It’s not so far removed from Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works Vol. II; in fact, Seefeel’s third album, the very minimal and ambient (Ch-Vox), originally appeared in 1996 on Richard D. James and Grant Wilson-Claridge’s since-shuttered label Rephlex.
Following the release of (Ch-Vox), Seefeel entered a decade-long hiatus, before re-emerging in 2007, releasing a third album, Seefeel, in 2010, and touring on and off since. Since Seefeel ended its hiatus in 2007, Mark and Sarah have formed the core of the band, with Kazuhisa Iida (drums) and Shigeru Ishihara aka DJ Scotch Egg (bass) rounding out Seefeel mk. 2.
With the new reissues, new music in the works, and a new world for musicians, Mark Clifford and Sarah Peacock had lots to talk about (with some friendly occasional chatter from Sarah’s parrot), from their homes in Brighton and London, respectively.
Interview has been lightly edited for clarity and flow
Mark and Sarah in conversation
David: I’ve read elsewhere that you’ve both talked about how Succour had a very different reception to Quique. It’s a bit more stripped-back and minimal — and darker in points. The guitar is less clear. What’s the journey been like from the initial reception to this really gorgeous set of reissues? Does it seem like it’s built up over the years?
Mark Clifford: Yeah, I think it’s probably appreciated more now because I think that a lot of that type of music has bled into more mainstream music as well. I often wonder if we hadn’t done Quique before – if Succour was our first album – whether it would have been interpreted differently? Whether it was because people wanted something like Quique again, which made Succour seem even bleaker. I don’t know what people would have made of it as the first record. It probably was a bit of a shock for those who had bought Quique in the first place.
Succour sounds more layered and edited. You can hear the work of samplers and electronic manipulation more, while Quique sounds more like a “band” record.
Sarah Peacock: Yeah, literally! Quite a lot of Quique was written in the rehearsal room when we were rehearsing for live gigs, and Succour was pretty much built up from having a studio setup at home [Mark and Sarah were roommates during the making of Succour]. There were tracks on Quique that were made in a similar way – sequenced up and made in the studio – but Succour was pretty much all done in the studio, whether it was at home or at September Sound.
Mark: A lot of the tracks started as simple ideas and then they were developed; for example, “Plainsong” developed over quite a long time, playing live and rehearsing, whereas Succour was definitely a studio album. None of the tracks were played live before the record, as far as I can remember – maybe “Vex” was? – but it was definitely a studio record. It’s interesting, what you say about guitars, because really there’s just as much guitar on Succour as there was on Quique. In terms of layers, there’s probably more guitar on Succour.
Sarah: It’s just not always identifiable as guitar.
When I hear some of the ambient tracks like “Meol”, I wonder – is that guitar? Is it a synthesizer?
Sarah: There’s not a single synth on the whole record.
Mark: No synths on Succour.
Sarah: There is a synth on Quique, on “Through You”. Otherwise Quique is also all guitar.
Interesting – I always pictured “Extract” being a guitar in a sampler, the way that it’s played. Was that a loop that you recorded, then?
Mark: Yeah, that was a loop. I remember sitting on the floor at September Sound, doing that track. That sequence is basically the majority of the track, that and the vocal. There are some other slight overdubs with guitar, but it’s a very simple track, “Extract”.
The bass on “Extract” is gorgeous. There’s a lot of deep bass, thinking of a track like “Starethrough”, and a lot of immersing and enveloping sounds and spaces. Compared to Quique, Succour and the EPs seemed more weighted towards the bass sounds.
Mark: Yeah, Succour is definitely a heavier album. Again, there was no manifesto when we went in to record these records. There was no sense of, “this record’s got to have heavy drums, or it needs to be darker,” it’s just the way it happened.
Sarah: I think the way the guitars are, it feels like there’s more space. So the bass cuts through more, and it becomes more of an element that you notice. Whereas when it’s buried more in layered sounds, it’s not always so apparent.
Mark: When we did Quique and the early records, we’d just been signed, and we were going to lots of clubs and all-nighters and stuff. It was a different atmosphere. By the time we came to do Succour, we’d been playing a lot. I know it’s a cliché that you’ve been touring a lot, but it definitely had an impact on us as people.
You weren’t partying as much.
Sarah: We weren’t having so much fun together as people [laughs].
Mark: It wasn’t like we were fighting in the studio or anything like that, but it wasn’t this feeling of, “we’re living the dream” any more.
Sarah: After so many years of doing everything together, it’s bound to get a little bit fractious. That was the time for us, we just weren’t getting on so well.
When Quique comes up, you’re often lumped in with shoegaze at the time, because of the beds of guitars, but there’s a lot more space in these songs. Something I also found about this reissue period: this seems like really good headphone listening.
Mark: I can’t say that we were trying to make an album for headphones, particularly, but I think it’s probably that there’s more detail. Maybe also because the sound is slightly more claustrophobic, maybe it works in a more personal environment than Quique does. It’s difficult to say because obviously, I don’t hear it in the same way that someone else hears it.
Sarah: When you’re making music, your own perception of it is all you’ve got, really. You don’t really have any ambitions for it other than getting it to sound as good as it can to yourself.
Speaking of seeing the songs differently, one of the benefits of the mastering process is that you get someone who can see the track as a whole, while you see it as the parts. How did you come to work with Stefan Betke for remastering these albums and the bonus material?
Mark: In terms of Stefan, I already know him and his music, so in many ways, I just left him to it. I sent him some vague notes about certain tracks, but I trusted his ear about how he would master the record. He has a very good ear for sound, which made him a good person to master the reissues.
Do you have any opinion on formats for these albums? Are they better in a digital vs. analog listening format?
Mark: Personally, I’m not anti- any format. I still like vinyl, because that’s where I come from personally. If I had to order them, I’d probably put CD last, because I’m not a fan of the way they look aesthetically. Primarily, I’d always want a record to come out on vinyl. I can’t imagine just doing a CD and digital release, for example.
The whole argument about whether music sounds better on vinyl – I don’t know how much of that is true or how much of it is a fallacy. I don’t know, really – it seems to me that it sounds better on vinyl, somehow, but I’m not sure whether that’s just the experience of picking up the disc and putting the needle on, which is different to putting a CD in a tray.
When you were working on this record, in the mid-90s, the music technology landscape was changing significantly. What technology were you working with in your home studio? Was it tape, samplers, early software?
Sarah: A bit of both. We had a sampler, an Ensoniq ASR-10, and an Atari ST with Cubase. We had an ADAT 8-track tape that took video cassettes to recall multi-tracks. And loads of effects.
Mark: The setup for Quique was like a Tascam 4-track, but ultimately everything got dumped on to 24-track when we went into the studio. So the main difference on Succour was that we had the digital 8-track and samplers, so we didn’t need to then use a 24-track machine. Everything was basically recorded using the sampler and the ADAT, and synced together using tape striping for timecode.
Sarah, in your interview with Chal Ravens in the Wire, I read that Cocteau Twins were also working in September Sound while you were there. What changed in from the home studio to September Sound for Succour? Did you bring in more musicians? Was it a better way to mix things?
Sarah: Yeah, it was definitely a way to better mix things. For instance, they had some proper microphones, so we could do better quality vocals. For example, “Ruby-Ha”, the vocals were recorded at September Sound, whereas the vocals on “Extract” were done at home. At home, we had an SM-58, not a studio-quality vocal microphone.
We didn’t use any other musicians in the studio. There were technical people there, and we used to pick their brains – Mitsuo [Tate] and Lincoln [Fong], who sort of worked in the studio full-time for the Cocteaus. They were there to help out with any problems that we had, but it was all played by us.
Mark: There were two studios at September Sound. The main studio one, the 24-track studio, we didn’t use that studio. We used studio two, which was more of what you’d call a “MIDI room” today. It didn’t have a big console, but it was well sound-proofed and it had a nice sound in there. We didn’t use tape machines or mixing desks at the studio – we basically brought our own stuff with us, and just used the space more than anything.
Some of the percussion sounds have a really primal level, and a very interesting resonance — tracks like “Gatha” and “When Face Was Face”. Was there anything unusual that you recorded to get those percussion sounds?
Mark: Not especially. I can’t remember where a lot of them came from. Most of the sounds were either sampled by us or came from sample discs. But the sounds were messed around, and the ASR-10 especially had some really nice effects on it. For example, on “Fracture”, much of the sound comes from the ASR-10 rotary speaker effect, with a slight distortion on it as well. It’s the same on “When Face Was Face”, the kind of chiming, clangy percussion sound.
Sarah: I remember that as being a Gamelan sample, so that was probably from a sample disc, but manipulated a lot from its original state.
Mark: A lot of those sounds were pitch-shifted to start with to give them a slightly different timbre, then adding some slight distortion or really dirty reverb, to make it sit better in the mix compared to the guitars and the vocals and the bass.
As you ask these questions, I’m really trying to remember!
Sarah: A long time ago!
There aren’t a lot of decipherable words on Succour. In the past I’ve spoken to Alis, who often writes songs with indecipherable vocals because of how they’re layered, but they start out with words. Did the vocals mainly start as words or as vocalizations?
Sarah: A bit of both, really. They’re mainly improvised on the spot, so I certainly didn’t go away and work on them before I went and sang them on to tape. I never used to do that much, but there’s a few exceptions. “Charlotte’s Mouth”, from Quique, I had the instrumental version on a tape, and constructed the vocals with lyrics in a more conventional way.
There are words, but I’m singing them in such a vague way that I don’t want them to be understood as words. [laughs]
How have you found that the pandemic has affected working on music?
Mark: I don’t know if I’d say personally that I’ve done more, or if it’s coincidental that in the last year I can say that I’m more comfortable with the music that I’m making. I don’t know whether that comes from external factors, that you start to appreciate things more, and it changes how you see and hear things.
I wouldn’t want to release an album and say “this is the lockdown album,” because that would not be true. The music progresses constantly over time. I guess for musicians like me, it doesn’t really change things as much.
Sarah: We can go years without doing any live gigs, and we have done. Some years we’ll do loads, and other years we won’t do any. In that sense, missing the live stuff, it’s nothing unusual for us, really. Like a lot of musicians who had to cancel everything because they were going off on a world tour – that must be horrible. All the people that you employ, all the tech staff and people that work with you, out of work as well.
For my day job, I work at a venue in London. It’s been closed now, for well over a year. That’s been pretty difficult – a lot of people got laid off.
Mark: We got really lucky in terms of playing our live shows. We did our London show in October 2019, and then we did our US tour in November, and then the last show we did was Sonar in Istanbul in mid-March 2020. Lockdown happened about a week after we got back from that, so we managed to get all our live shows in.
One last question – I’ve heard that “When Face Was Face” was named after something overheard in a club bathroom. What’s the story there?
Sarah: Yeah! It was a girl talking about somebody she knew who’d gotten a facial tattoo. She was obviously not a native English speaker, and she something like, “no, I liked when face was face.” [laughs]
To anyone still sitting aboard the “bigroom is dead” train, ZAXX has a message for you: get off it. He’s held true to his word that he’d be reuniting with the sound that brought him into dance music more than a half-decade ago, and after getting the bigroom ball rolling with “CHAOS” at the top of March, the finish line for his genre comeback isn’t anywhere in sight.
When we spoke about ZAXX’s desire to get back into the bigroom ring, we said that Rave Culture remains inside a small circle of imprints that are forging forward in its modern-day charge, so it felt only fitting that W&W brought a touch of New York back to the Dutch label after ZAXX appeared under its Mainstage Music name in 2015. Unlike most tracks at the moment, “Diddy Bop” actually had an early crowd-testing opportunity when ZAXX hit the Ubbi Dubbi stage in April, only reasserting that his efforts to help reanimate the genre he’d previously left behind wouldn’t be in vain. At this point, ZAXX knows exactly what makes up a grade-A bigroom original, with “Diddy Bop” drawing in a more in-your-face house touch that makes it feel like we’re all back in 2014 again.
Josh Charm aimed to give back to rising, flourishing producers throughout the past year through a weekly demo submission series, and when he received an original from a relatively unknown producer out of Spain by the name of FERGO, it clicked the moment he pressed play. Deciding to polish off the demo and convert it into a formal two-way collaboration, Josh Charm sought out Martin Garrix’s seal of approval and has now delivered “U Got Me” on STMPD RCRDS.
Charm and FERGO wanted to provide of a ray of sunshine to anyone who has felt mentally or physically drained by the pandemic, coming together on one exceptional piece of gentle, therapeutic house music that lends itself to STMPD RCRDS’ unending queue of high-level releases this year.
Berlin and Milan-based music duo Anaté drop haunting new track “One Last Time,” taken from their upcoming debut album Confessions. With a musical style best described as downtempo, the duo channel a building tension in the cinematic, emotive soundscape, underpinned by singer-songwriter Ana’s powerful vocals and producer Andrea’s penchant for swooping, weaving rhythms.
Exploring themes of addictions and recurrent mistakes, the track is a vulnerable offering inspired by the human nature to latch onto an obsession at least once in their lives.
Cleverly leaving its narrative open to interpretation, the track teases listeners with intrigue of the unknown while simultaneously making it known that it’s saying something. On the message, Ana explained, “early listeners in our friends & family circle interpreted it in very different ways: an unhealthy relationship, substance abuse, addiction to a bad job, self-harm.”
With a suitably dark edge, fitting the oppressive yet relatable experiences the track delves into, “One Last Time,” is a minimalistic production that found its beginning as a purely vocal, piano-backed melody from Ana which was refined by Andrea’s ability to create immersive soundscapes.
Speaking of the production process, Andrea added,“I produced it while I was on the road in Croatia, so I had no access to my usual studio gear. This forced me to use more soft synths and samples, ending up with a sound way more electronic than our previous releases.”
The duo who met in Bruxelles early 2019 have consistently delivered music that spans a variety of genres with ease and expertise, pulling listeners in with their multi-dimensional sonic world built on the strong foundation of hypnotic vocals and soothing instrumentals brought together in a cohesive marriage of musical talent, and the impact of “One Last Time” is no different from their previous releases.
Rinse FM have announced a free summer party series featuring Eliza Rose, Tash LC, Karen Nyame KG, Yung Singh and more at London’s Dalston Roof Park.
The sessions will be free to attend and held each Thursday from 22nd July to 30th September. The bill also includes A Guy Called Gerald, Fabio & Grooverider, Marcus Nasty, Oneman, The Menendez Brothers, CVSS, Heartless Crew, Katy B, Gideön, Seb Zito, Helena Star and Pepperpot, AKA DJ Ron & Jumpin Jack Frost.
Individual lineups will be announced every Friday for the following week’s event. The venue itself is operated by Bootstrap Charity, with all profits used for work to empower young people and businesses. Karen Nyame KG recently contributed to DJ Mag’s Selections series, while Tash LC‘s 2019 Fresh Kicks mix is still available to hear. In January, Young Singh made DJ Mag’s list of artists to watch in 2021.
A new documentary on Birmingham’s grime scene has been released. ‘Risky Roadz 0121’ is available now on Amazon Music and Amazon Prime. Some of the city’s biggest artists feature, including Mist, Lady Leshurr, Preditah and Jaykae.
Produced by Two Yanks And A Brit, and named after its director, the famous grime documentarian Roony ‘Risky Roadz’ Keefe, ‘+44 Presents: Risky Roadz 0121’ is his latest non-fiction insight into Britain’s fertile MC culture, focusing on the West Midlands.
“UK music and culture are at the top of their game right now, with our sound topping the charts and stealing hearts,” said Keefe. “For me to use the Risky Roadz name again for a documentary it had to be a story worth telling: the Birmingham grime scene and the infrastructure that’s made it, is just that.
“When grime was quiet in London, Birmingham was still going strong. We’ve all come so far, myself included, and to really appreciate the journey you have to look at places that don’t always get the credit they deserve,” he continued. “Birmingham is one of these places and a place special to grime and myself. The DIY ethos lives strong here and Risky Roadz 0121 will show you everything you need to know about the independent mentality. You have an idea you want to make happen? Make it happen. The only person stopping you is yourself, so dream big.”
The original Risky Roadz Productions began in 2004 as a means of documenting the nascent grime scene and was predominantly centred on London. Head to the official website to see the team’s latest work. Check out the trailer for ‘Risky Roadz 0121’ below.
DJ Mag recently delved into the emerging Irish drill scene. Nova, the first grime artist to win Scottish Album of the Year, was recently featured in our Meet the MC series.
London’s fabric is introducing a “strict” no-photo and no-video policy when it reopens.
Announcing the news yesterday (June 28th) via social media, a post shared by the club said: “fabric is London’s home for underground music, always aiming to create a feeling of self-expression on the dance-floor. We are introducing a strict no photo, and no video policy at the club. Stay in the moment and put away your phone, enjoy the night.”
DJ Sunil Sharpe shared his approval of the new measures, writing on Twitter: “I hope more clubs and promoters follow. This is the most effective way for nightclubs to raise the value of the experience going forward. The distinction between clubs and festivals can be made clearer this way too.”
Professional photographers will still be permitted at the club, but the rule will apply to any unauthorised videos or photography. The venue, like all other nightclubs in the UK, currently hopes to reopen from July 19th when the UK’s COVID-19 lockdown is presently fully expected to end.
The club will present a duo of events on its reopening weekend, scheduled for July 23rd and 24th. The line-ups are yet to be announced.
Strictly Necessary Cookies
Strictly Necessary Cookie should be enabled at all times so that we can save your preferences for cookie settings.
If you disable this cookie, we will not be able to save your preferences. This means that every time you visit this website you will need to enable or disable cookies again.