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Newness for your ears: CHIMIQ, Pumpkin & Vin’S da Cuero

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Cover artwork for CHIMIQ

Yes, this blog has been pretty much abandoned, but there’s always a day when an album comes out that is so excellent I can’t but tell you about it straight away, in more than 140 characters or a quick Facebook post. Today’s project is courtesy of French favourites Pumpkin and Vin’S da Cuero. Before I tell you about them and the brand-new “CHIMIQ” EP, I have to admit that I have been listening to it on repeat since I received the email from Bandcamp in my inbox an hour or so ago and I’m so obsessed about it already and so eager to share it with you that I took a break from work, after barely getting started. Oh, well.
Also, Pumpkin is one of the few artists whose projects I ALWAYS support and buy (or even preorder in this case). My slowly growing vinyl collection therefore includes most of her previous solo albums, as well as “LE BEAU TEMPS” EP and “PEINTURE FRAÎCHE” LP, her previous two projects as a duo with her partner in crime and official producer Vin’S da Cuero, and I look forward to getting my hands on this one.
Now, about the album itself… WOW! is pretty much how I would sum up my reaction after listening to it for the first time. I had already listened to the title track, which was released recently and complemented by an excellent, original and cheeky video that I highly recommend you watch (link below), and it made me very impatient to discover the whole project. What I can always count on with Pumpkin is a crazy flow and crazier lyrics, which often make me smile and/or utter this succinct but pretty accurate “WOW!”. I use crazy in a good way, of course, and I usually feel pretty bad for people listening to her music who are not francophones, because even if music is a universal language and all that, let’s be honest, they’re missing out. The level of lyricism, technicality, wit and smartness is simply impressive. I was already pretty blown away with “CHIMIQ”, but “SCIENCE FRICTION” (pretty clever pun) is on a whole other level in terms of power and emotion. I’ll get back to the subject matter in a second, but simply in terms of lyrical prowess, Pumpkin definitely stands out. To say she has a way with words would be an understatement and it’s always a pleasure for me to listen to her tracks. Hip-hop is not dead, y’all!
Besides the MC’s skills, another quality of the “CHIMIQ” EP is of course the music, with a return to “boom-bap” hip-hop, after experimenting with electronic sonorities on previous projects. Percussive drums, scratches, and beatbox; you can find all the ingredients for an excellent soundscape that welcomes Pumpkin and the guests’ voices and flows perfectly. Yes, it does make me think of the “Golden Era” of hip-hop but of course it’s very current and another proof that you can pay homage to the past while representing the present. This is also a reminder that Vin’S da Cuero is pretty comfortable with various genres and that’s something you can’t but appreciate from a producer. Also, the aforementioned guests are a most welcome addition to the project, from frequent collaborator Sarah Gessler (Beatspoke) to Vicelow and Sly The Mic Buddah aka Sly Johnson aka TAGi, as well as Neue Grafik and Scratch Bandits Crew on remix duties, and frequent collaborator DJ Lyrik (aka A Cat Called Fritz) on scratches.
Last, but definitely not least, the concept and subject matter of the short project is highly relatable and explored in a wonderful way, from “friends with benefits” aka fuck buddies aka “plan cul” for the French speakers, to how to cope with life’s highs and lows, and domestic violence. “CHIMIQ” is an exploration of how chemistry rules our lives whether it is with sex, relationships or depression. As I was mentioning earlier, “SCIENCE FRICTION” really blew me away, dealing with domestic violence in a very clever and powerful manner. Art is a way to spread messages and I commend Pumpkin for dealing with such an important topic that is too often ignored or downplayed. Once again, that’s quite an incentive to get your French lessons on…

Now that you know more about “CHIMIQ”, you can head to Mentalow Music’s Bandcamp page, or simply click on the link below. Listen, enjoy, and support!

 

 

And in case you need some visual incentive, enjoy the official video for the EP’s title track and get up close and personal with Pumpkin & Vin’S da Cuero.
 

 

Find out more about Pumpkin & Vin’S da Cuero on the Mentalow Music website and Facebook

Newness for your ears: The Foreigner, KRTS

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Cover artwork for The Foreigner

Yesterday was just another day for me. I have never really been a huge fan of Christmas, except maybe when I was a child and it meant gathering with the whole family and enjoying some delicious food, so I decided to fill this day with music. Lots of music. Among the numerous albums I listened to yesterday, The Foreigner by KRTS is one of the few that really blew me away. Hence why I am sharing it with you now.
I just realised that I haven’t really featured any “new” artist on the blog in a little while. Also, I have been a fan of most of the projects released by Project: Mooncircle for quite a long time now and it was high time I mention them here. Based in Berlin, the label has a roster of incredible artists coming from diverse horizons and their music never fails to touch me. As for KRTS, I’ve always liked his work ever since I discovered him, even though I haven’t really followed his career scrupulously. The Foreigner is without a doubt my favourite project by him, for several reasons. First of all, despite the fact that my move from France to England didn’t involve the same type of adaptation skills, I, too, am “the foreigner” here in London. While KRTS, a Brooklynite, had to learn a new language and discover a very different culture, I simply used my knowledge of English and easily got used to the British ways. However, I can understand what it feels like to be the other, to never really feel like the place where you live is home. Through the music, KRTS shares his feelings and experiences, in the most beautiful way. From the moment he arrived in this Foreign Land, to his encounter with Berlin Girls, until his realisation that This May Be Home, the producer takes us on a journey and invites us to follow his footsteps as he gets acquainted with the German capital and settles, little by little. Two tracks I didn’t mention, because they hold a special place in my heart and deserve to be singled out, are the incredible Sunrise Over Warshauer and Nothing Grows In Red Soil, which closes the EP in the best possible way. Taking advantage of my newly-acquired speakers, I could really indulge in the music and literally feel it, while picturing myself admiring the red and orange hues of this German sunrise or wander in the streets of the capital and observe the trains passing by under the bridge as KRTS seems to have done numerous times. The whole atmosphere of the EP varies from dreamy to emotional, always making it easy for me to relate to the feelings expressed by the talented producer. Whether you are The Foreigner as well or not, you will most probably let the lovely notes and instruments touch your heart and soul.

Now that you know a little bit more about The Foreigner, I invite you to listen to it and purchase it on Project: Mooncircle’s Bandcamp page, or simply by clicking on the link below. Enjoy the journey!

Because I’m sure you have been good girls and boys, here is a little gift for you, with the official video for the hauntingly beautiful and deeply emotional Don’t Need Your Love.

Find out more about KRTS on Facebook and Twitter

UK talent: Pencils Not Pistols EP, Imperial x K.I.N.E.T.I.K.

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Cover artwork for Pencils Not Pistols

K.I.N.E.T.I.K. is no stranger to this blog and after I first told you about him and his Kinesis Thesis Vol. 3 last year, I am very pleased to let you know about his brand-new release. Teaming up with fellow UK artist and talented producer Imperial, the incredible MC presents the Pencils Not Pistols EP. Following a first collaboration between K.I.N.E.T.I.K. and the Illect Recordings affiliated producer for a single, and because the two artists have a common vision, they decided to keep on working together and create a project together. The result is a wonderful treat for your ears, with a blend of spotless, soulful and jazzy production courtesy of Imperial with K.I.N.E.T.I.K.’s trademark lyricism and compelling rhymes. Dealing with anything from inspiration and motivation (Go HardCount Your Blessings) to relationships (Just The Way I Feel) and the need to unwind or modern ways of so-called communication (Zoning Out), among other interesting topics, the MC always laces his bars with great wordplay and well-researched information. The overall vibe of the Pencils Not Pistols EP is very chilled and engaging, which guarantees a lot of head-nodding and smiles on the listeners’ face. In addition to the quality of the music and the MC’s skills, our ears are also blessed by singer Tone Richardson’s suave’s vocals and Joanne Francis’ engaging hook. Offering an EP that stays true to the basics of hip-hop, Imperial and K.I.N.E.T.I.K. also prove that The Pencil Is Mightier Than The Pistol indeed! In short, this project gives you the perfect balance between positive energy, education and emotion. Listening to it now, while feeling somewhat down for various reasons, I can’t but feel uplifted by the different songs, and especially Count Your Blessings, which reminds me that no matter what happens in my life I don’t have any reason to complain. To finish off the project, Put Your Pencils In The Air adds a little humour, just to make sure that you indeed feel good and smile after listening. Imperial and K.I.N.E.T.I.K.: mission accomplished!

Now that you know a bit more about Imperial and K.I.N.E.T.I.K.’s Pencils Not Pistols EP, discover the album on Illect Recordings’ Bandcamp page, or simply by clicking on the link below. Enjoy and tell your friends and pencil lovers about it!

Find out more about Imperial on his website and K.I.N.E.T.I.K. on Facebook & Twitter

UK talent: The Brilliant EP, Breis

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Cover artwork for The Brilliant EP

Breis’ name had been on my radar for quite a while but I have to admit I didn’t really check out his music until quite recently, after I discovered his amazing collaboration with French producers HornDogz for Movin’ On, a wonderful track that also features London MC Ty and singer Peeda (in case you missed it, watch the beautiful video for Movin’ On). When he shared the link to my podcast, where I played the track, I felt compelled to have a look at his page and the various links he posted. I had actually seen him post about The Brilliant EP but didn’t take the time to check it out (shame on me, I know…). The timing was perfect then though, and I am quite happy I clicked play. As soon as I listened to the first track, wittily called Landmarks & Spencer, I knew I would not only love the project but feel “homesick” for London. Full of wordplay and references to the English capital only people who visited or lived there can catch (and I’m quite proud to be one of those), the track is therefore a great introduction to the EP and sets the tone perfectly. A wonderful blend of hip-hop, afro-beat and various other influences, the album sounds like a snapshot of Breis’ universe and what life in London town can be. From the lively and enticing Strictly to the short but funny interlude Jammin’ On The Bus, or the more personal Fear of Failure and Mocking Bird, among other amazing tracks, the MC takes the listener on a very interesting journey through his mind where the thoughts and feelings he shares are easily relatable. It is always a pleasure for me to discover a new artist and realise that I can actually “get them”, that I can understand the experiences they recount and be touched by the creative ways they use to express themselves. The Brilliant EP may touch upon dark topics at times, as is the case with Sharon, but there is always a ray of hope and a conviction that things will be alright eventually. The others tracks I mentioned earlier, Fear of Failure and Mocking Bird are probably my favourite, as they allow Breis to bare his soul and share some emotions I know oh too well. While the lyrics are always perfectly written and Breis’ flow is seamless, the music also accompanies the MC in the best possible way, only enhancing the positivity or emotion, depending on the songs (those strings on Mocking Bird!). All in all, and I am sorry if I was not able to resist the temptation, it is indeed a Brilliant EP that Breis offers the listener! From the high energy, bouncing initial tracks to the more delicate and heartfelt final ones, the album evolves in the same way as a day does, with the rising of the sun followed by darkness. The beauty of it is that we know the light will be back. It has to be back. Thank you Mr. Breis, for this beautiful reminder!

P.S. I absolutely love the album cover!

You can listen to and purchase The Brilliant EP on Breis’ Bandcamp page, among others, or simply by clicking on the link below. Enjoy the ride and pass it on!

Find out more about Breis on his website, Facebook & Twitter

Newness for your ears: Anecdote EP, Rachel Brotman

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Cover artwork for Anecdote EP

I became acquainted with Rachel Brotman and her music through a Bandcamp recommendation by her fellow artist and collaborator Diggs Duke a few months ago. When I listened to her songs for the very first time, I was immediately mesmerised by the magnificence of  the music. I found it very peaceful and soothing yet extremely powerful and emotional, while Rachel’s voice was the icing on the cake and sent my ears on a direct flight to cloud 9.
On Anecdote, the singer wrote most of the music and  lyrics, but she is joined by a group of talented musicians who create an amazing soundtrack for her to delicately deliver her soft vocals. Infused with jazz, the EP is a wonderful collection of lovely tracks that is best appreciated on a quiet, overcast day, when the music is like a smooth balm for your heart and lifts your spirits as Rachel’s voice rises. While it is not necessarily sad or melancholic, the music has this particular quality that fits introspective moments perfectly. There is also an apparent simplicity in this project, some sort of innocence and humility, that is only enhanced by the angelic texture of the singer’s vocals. I don’t know what heaven sounds like if it exists but I have a strong suspicion it wouldn’t be too different from Anecdote More

Newness for your ears: Her Imaginings, ArinMaya x Theimagination

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Cover artwork for Her Imaginings

When I first listened to ArinMaya’s music, I stepped into a whole new universe where everything sounded fresh and innovative. With The Sound of ArinMaya, I got acquainted with the singer and I immediately fell in love with her unique style and voice. While the music was clearly rooted in soul and gospel, there was an electronic edge to it that gave the EP a sound that was unlike anything I had heard before. After that, I discovered the beautiful Let The Love Come, an album of acoustic music she released in association with guitarist Nick Cassarino. It was a way for the singer to showcase different skills and prove how versatile she could be, delving into folk music and giving a new life to a few famous songs.
Now, with Her Imaginings, the brand-new project she just released with frequent collaborator Theimagination, she is once again flipping the script and providing the listeners with a diverse selection of tracks filled with an electronic soulfulness that is deeply satisfying to my ears. Her Imaginings is actually the name of the group they formed and I dare hope for future releases from the duo. If this is the first project they put out as an official group, not all the tracks are recent on Her Imaginings, as is the case with Do You Think, a song that was present on The Sound of ArinMaya and that never failed to move me. More

Newness for your ears: Uncertainty, Elle Winston

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Cover artwork for Uncertainty

I first told you about the amazing Elle Winston almost a year ago, when her debut EP Who Said It Was Simple? dropped (shout out to Sincere Vega for the discovery!) and I am quite excited to present to you her brand-new release. The sophomore EP, simply entitled Uncertainty, came out today and it has already secured it’s position among my favourites for 2013. While her first project was a way for Elle Winston to introduce the listener to her musical universe by showcasing her versatility and eclectic influences, this new EP sees her delve deeper and touch upon some topics that are more intimate and personal. As the title suggests and according to the singer herself, this is her most sincere work to date and was written at a time in her life where she was struggling and questioning herself. Using this Uncertainty as creative fuel, she crafted some intense songs that are as beautiful as they are touching and compelling. From the very first notes of Waitin’ On, I was caught in the rhythm of the beat and as my head nodded I could appreciate the heartfelt lyrics and Elle’s unique, sultry voice. Very easy to relate to, the first song is probably the one that touched me the most, but the incredible Sisters (which was available as an exclusive on The Wonderful Year of Carminelitta Vol. 3) and My Black, more specifically, are extremely candid and powerful. Dealing with what it means to be a black woman in today’s world, both songs ask rhetorical questions or expose situations that are sure to make you pause for a while and ponder. More

French touch: Silence Radio EP, Pumpkin

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Cover artwork for Silence Radio EP

Pumpkin is an artist I discovered quite recently, thanks to her frequent collaborators Supafuh and Teru, but I have since then caught up with her work, to my ears’ delight. When I interviewed her a few months ago in London, I met a passionate and determined woman who was eager to express herself through music and share her views on the world.
Today is a very important day for Pumpkin, as she releases her new EP, Silence Radio, a wonderful project she has been crafting for a long time. Patience is a virtue and it definitely pays off here, both for her and for listeners, who are in for a treat. With features by 20Syl (Hocus Pocus), Ty, Pugz Atoms or Metropolis (Foreign Beggars), to name just a few, the EP still remains imprinted with the “Pumpkin touch”, as the young woman decides to venture on more experimental territories while touching on topics that are in turn personal tales and social observations she is well-known for. In addition to the aforementioned MCs joining Pumpkin on the mic, talented producers Supafuh, Vin’S da Cuero, Quiet Dawn, Josh Fontan (Beatspoke) and DJ Vadim come to reinforce an amazing team and create refreshing instrumentals that allow the lyricists to shine. More

UK talent: Lost & Found EP, Lianne La Havas

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Picture of Lianne La Havas

I first heard of UK singer Lianne La Havas about a year ago, with the “Black Cab Sessions“, and she literally blew my mind. Months have passed and she is getting more and more recognition, deservedly so. After several releases and many performances, the talented lady finally released her debut EP, the incredible Lost & Found EP. I know I have a tendency to use this sort of adjective a lot and anything I post on this blog is always something I love, but some artists or projects touch me more than others. In that case, I sometimes feel words are not really appropriate to express the depth and extent of what I feel when listening to the music.

While I already loved Lianne La Havas’ voice and style before, I have to admit the single, and more precisely the video, Lost & Found moved me so intensely I couldn’t help but cry. I won’t go into details, but suffice to say that I could relate to the words and feelings expressed. The wonderful video only enhanced the atmosphere of the song and made it all the more powerful (props to Colin Solal Cardo for this masterpiece). As I was thinking about the song yesterday, I realised that this is the kind of music that is deeply personal, as it comes from the artist’s own experience, but also universal as people can relate to it, even though they haven’t been through exactly the same thing. I believe that is one of the reasons why this particular song is so beautiful and precious. More

Newness for your ears: Patchwork The EP, Szjerdene

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Cover artwork for Patchwork The EP

The first time I read about London singer Szerdene was back in January 2010, when I discovered her Collage: The Demo on SoulCulture. Over the months, I was always delighted to discover her new singles and collaborations, including her work with Dutch singer Mar (if you have never heard their rendition of April 14th, do yourself a favour and head over here). It is therefore with great pleasure that I learned about her brand-new project, Patchwork The EP, released via Wonderful Ear Records. Of course, I couldn’t not share such beauty with you! In case you are not familiar with Szjerdene’s music and her amazing voice, this should serve as a great introduction, before you discover her previous releases. Freshly signed with Plug Research label, the young Londoner is getting more and more shine on the independent soul scene, deservedly so.

With Patchwork The EP, you get a glimpse of what Szjerdene can do and with only four tracks, it definitely sounds as an appetiser which will make you eager to listen to more from the talented lady. Opening the project, we have Blue Lullaby, whose original version was featured on Collage: The Demo and which remains one of my favourite songs of hers. Deeply personal and emotional, it never fails to bring me close to tears, while Szerdene’s voice is sheer purity and perfection. Then, the delicate Turn also has a very honest element and the beautiful, discreet melody underlines the lyrics perfectly, allowing the listener to focus on every word and feel their power. More

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