I have a lot of new music this time around, but I will start with a couple of things to read:
Article: “Risk Ahoy: Maersk, Daewoo Build the World’s Biggest Boat” by Drake Bennett
The Dutch shipping company Maersk has a shipyard in Korea building 20 container ships, known as Triple-Es, each of which is as long as the Empire State Building is tall. They can carry about 9000 40-foot cargo containers; they are crewed by 22 people. The scale of this whole things is mind-blowing. Being Businessweek, the focus here is on the risk that the purchase represents for Maersk, given that the ships take a year to build and global business conditions can change a lot between placing the order and getting the ships. To me, though, the interesting thing is the bare fact that we can make something— twenty somethings— this large, and send it around the world carrying anything and everything.
Article: “Mind Control” (interview with Janelle Monáe) by Carrie Battan
Janelle Monáe is an interesting person and an interesting artist, though in general I have found more to admire than to love about her music. However, this article also has some of the coolest web design I have ever seen, and it’s worth scrolling through for that alone.
Song: “Water Me” by FKA Twigs
Apparently nobody knows anything about this person, even her real name (is that really possible? I don’t know), and she has released only a handful of songs. Apparently there is an album coming out somewhere, sometime soon, but who knows. In any case, this song is lovely, showing that you can have cutting-edge production and a good song, in the most traditional sense, at the same time. I find the video just a little freaky, but you can ignore it and focus on the song itself.
Song: “Gunshotta” by Machinedrum
This sounds a lot like Burial. If you feel as I do about him, that is all you need to know. It’s a bit faster and a bit denser than most of Burial, but it’s in the same emotional register and shares a lot of his palette of sounds.
Mix: XLR8R Podcast #311 by Prefuse 73
Prefuse 73 is often described as an instrumental hip hop producer, and most of this mix is in that vein— in a very general sense, having more to do with rhythm than anything else. I am not sure about the King Krule track toward the end, but otherwise it’s all good stuff. I can’t embed this one, but from that page you can stream it or download it.
Mix: “&&&&&&” by Arca
Say what you will about Kanye West— and there is a lot to be said— but the guy has an ear for production, and he is not afraid to take risks or be adventurous. One of the key producers on Yeezus was this guy, Arca, and he has just made a mix tape of new stuff available. It’s weird, a lot of it, but in a good way.
List/Mix: “Alien Resurrection: Slackk’s Guide to the New Wave of Grime” and accompanying mix (embedded below).
Grime, as you probably know, is a genre of electronic music, primarily from the UK, which takes elements of UK Garage and American rap, and breaks those beats’ kneecaps. In its earlier incarnations it usually involved MCs, of whom Dizee Rascal and Wiley were perhaps the best known, but more recently it has developed into a mostly-instrumental genre. It’s also where some of the most interesting production is happening. Slackk is an interesting producer in his own right, but he’s also one of the most vocal and active advocates of Grime; this is a short guide he wrote for Electronic Beats, featuring some of the more interesting current producers. There are several songs embedded in the list, which is great, but the mix on Soundcloud is much more extensive (and fully mixed).
Slackk also does a monthly grime mix, which is pretty uniformly excellent (though September’s is a bit late; check out August’s mix here). Those are available to stream or for free download. If you want even more grimey stuff, another one of the more prominent DJs, Mr. Mitch, was featured in Vice’s “Touching Bass” series recently, and there’s another free mix there to stream or download.
UPDATE: Of course, Slackk put up the September mix just hours after I posted this; get that here.