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Paraphoniks was formed when Shatrunjai Dewan and Sid Shirodkar began to explore their shared love for modular synthesizers. In 2016, the duo promoted their second release, ‘Yarns’, with a string of audacious surround-sound shows that featured their music in an 8.1-channel incarnation. Since then they’ve continued to evolve into an increasingly genre-agnostic project, embracing various forms of electronic music with a unique sense of sonic experimentation.
Their latest offering, ‘Silhouettes’, was conceived during a two-week writing stint in the Himalayan hills. It retains the synth-heavy sound the duo are known for, while elevating the production levels, treading more expansive musical territory and conceptual ground. Featuring collaborations with singer-songwriter Azamaan Hoyvoy and drummer Sahil Shah, the album’s non-linear narrative takes inspiration from various modern-day cults and quasi-religious movements.
Lillebittebock is a unique Danish artist breaking the conventions of hip-hop. With a breakthrough song about the suicide of his father when he was just 12 years old, the dark themes in the lyrics are accompanied by hyper-melodic, endorphin-filled beats. “Fortabt” (meaning “lost” in Danish), the rapper’s newest track, is a melancholy, emotive effort with a prominent guitar riff, describing the feeling of being caught in-between phases.
There’s a slang word Kenyans use for what French/Kenyan artist Stephane Stalon and producer KiliHippie have achieved with their collab track “IMMM.” The word ‘tamu’ (directly translating to “sweet” in Swahili) is hummed and howled by Nairobi audiences when they hear a silky smooth, jazz-infused track, led by laid back melodies and spaced out drums with brave lyrics and vocal vulnerability delivering subtly powerful truths. Stephane Stalon is a member of young music collective called “Bahati Bookings” on a mission to transform the Kenyan scene with their heartfelt energy, fearless fusion music and skilled lyricism, bridging the space between rap and jazz culture.
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Born parallel to the 2016 US presidential election in response to xenophobic declarations and actions against Latin immigrants, Tulengua identify themselves as “a bilingual hip hop supergroup from both sides of the most crossed border in the world”. Tulengua seeks to demonstrate how Mexicans and North-Americans, Spanish and English speakers, can be combined through the universal language of music to reflect the beauty of the neighbouring countries and dissolve political, geographical, linguistic and racial boundaries.
All the profits from their latest record ‘Baja Funk’ were donated to an immigrant rights organisation. With lyrics denoting awakening and conscience, the protest tone is evident, yet they maintain a message of hope and positivity; the band’s aim is to recover the humanity that unites people instead of dividing them, using music as medicine to heal the world of hatred and excessive division.
Smokey The Ghost has been a pioneer in the Indian hip-hop scene for the past 15 years. A socially conscious artist from Bangalore, Smokey has been involved in all aspects of the culture, from participating in rap battles to rendering his voice for commercial movies and giving due importance to collaborations. His raps emerge out of his observation and tackle various social issues; ‘Her Name Is?’ is a concept mixtape to be heard in sequential order, hailing from a personal experience that led to the realisation of the dishonourable oppression faced in various subtle forms by women on a regular basis. While the tracks form a coherent theme, the production is an amalgamation of the work of different producers based on different ideas emerging from the same concept of abuse of female identity.
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The child of a French father and a Venezuelan mother, Sophia Helena Fustec Briceño is a collage of cultures. A one-girl-band who composes, writes, sings, plays and produces everything in her home studio, her energetic creations convey common messages of faith and authenticity. Frequently known as La Chica, she affirms that her influences are widespread; when she’s not dedicated to her productions, she listens to sounds ranging from late-era Beatles and Radiohead to Caribbean artists such as Fania All Stars and Rubén Blades. Currently residing in Paris, international tours and concerts have been recurrent since the formation of her project in 2014. Her latest single “Sola” is an ethereal journey, as looped vocals and driving synthesisers build to a powerful electronic crescendo.
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Don Ngatia’s voice exudes an angelic melancholy spirit that belies his youth. Graceful melodies weave around a soulful plucked guitar, echoed by delicately layered harmonies to build a eerily beautiful atmosphere. Born in Kenya, Ngatia relocated to Boston after attending Berklee College of Music. His songs speak of mortal pain and resilient spirituality, painted by poetic lyrics revealing his deep-rooted romanticism. His 2014 breakout hit “Solitude” seamlessly ebbs and flows from sadness to joy, channeling raw acoustic energy to create a truly poignant piece of music.
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Danish trio CHINAH’s experimental R&B sound is delivered with artistic minimalism on their debut LP. Fine Glindvad, Simon Kjær and Simon Andersson originally formed in 2014 as a folk outfit before branching out and making waves with a number of dark synth-pop hits, drawing inspiration from off-kilter duo Smerz. Throughout the creative process behind “ANYONE”, lead singer Glindvad took the unorthodox approach of both writing and recording her vocals whilst fully horizontal on a sofa, capturing the natural fluidity and reflective intimacy that provides the essence of the album.
Fopchu are a three piece electronic band from New Delhi who create alternative music unlike any other band in India. Their effervescent sound evokes a loopy ride through time with synthesisers, samples, and a rhythmic guitar-driven groove, in an intoxicating brew of charismatic vocals drawn from soulful blues, jazz and gufunktry chants. The band explores the ominous world outside with their debut EP ‘Milk Bred’; an amalgamation of funk and rock, lead single ‘The Undulating Brood Swing’ sounds exactly like the title suggests, riddled with a contagious bounce that’s guaranteed to get you moving.
Today we take a look back 18 years, to recall a jewel from legendary Mexican duo Plastilina Mosh. Founded in 1996 by Jonas González and Alejandro Rosso, the band released their second album “Juan Manuel” in 2000; a 13-track masterpiece, the album features a diverse range of sounds that make it almost impossible to classify by genre, mood or language whatsoever, with lyrics in English, Spanish, German, Italian and Portuguese.
The journey begins with “Nordic Laser”, an entirely instrumental krautrock piece, perhaps the simplest piece of the album before the madness is unleashed; the grooves of “Boombox Baby” and “Bareta 87” give the album a retro dancefloor sensation, drawing on Giorgio Moroder-esque richness, while “Shampoo” and “Aropador” are subtle and seductive and the likes of “International Stereo (Bassass)” and “Let The Speaker Speak” demonstrate a raw aggressive energy.
A classic record that is powerful, unpredictable, and truly timeless.
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HAON celebrated the release of his debut project last month, encapsulating the development of a talented newcomer with huge potential. The winner of Korean hip-hop TV competition “High School Rapper Season 2”, the 18-year-old demonstrated ambitious determination and a youthful spirit to impress audiences across the nation, and has transitioned from amateur to professional rapper with ease. His first EP ‘TRAVEL: NOAH’ alludes to the biblical figure of Noah (also conveniently HAON’s name spelled backwards), as he describes his journey across seven songs. On the titular opening track, HAON delivers his mischievous vocals over a Latin-infused melody, holding his own as he ably exchanges verses with elite Korean stars Jay Park and Hoody.
Ape Echoes represent the creativity of the nascent Indian independent music scene. The brainchild of Mumbai based producers and multi-instrumentalists Nirmit Shah and Sid Shirodkar, the project sees the pair combining traditional acoustic and electronic instrumentation with experimental sampling, weaving together a complex immersive musical narrative. The duo formed in early 2016, with drummer Sahil Shah joining soon after, and their debut EP ‘Ape Machines’ was released in August 2017, moving through territories influenced by crossover jazz, electronica, noise, hip-hop, prog-rock, funk, and soul to create a distinctive original sound.
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In the Aymara language, “Churupaca” is a giant adaptable, multi-talented insect that can swim, fly, jump and hunt, amongst other skills; thus, the Buenos Aires neo-orchestra found the perfect name for their project. Formed by a diverse group of musicians of various disciplines, Churupaca stand out for their acoustic sentimentality and the romanticism of their lyrics. Together, members Juana, Fefo, Ricardo, Darío, Joaquín and Pablo gave birth to their second record this year, entitled “Antes de Mañana” (“Before Tomorrow” in English). The fifteen-track masterpiece guides us on a journey through countless textures and styles from across Latin America and the world, with folk and soul influences alongside classic elements of the tango, burlesque and waltz. The album’s instrumental exuberance is defined by the dramatic qualities of the wind and string sections, the sumptuous accordion melodies and Juana’s emotive, longing vocals, creating a rich, multi-layered body of work to be savoured.
“Oh Wah” is a powerhouse collaboration between Kenyan artist Blinky Bill and Nigerian singer-songwriter Nneka. Featured on Bill’s new album “Everyone’s Just Winging It And Other Tales”, the song showcases his rich production skills, as a heart-wrenching blend of echoing guitars, tribal chanting and driving percussion interweave beneath lyrics crying out for peace. The chemistry between Blinky Bill’s thick, low voice and cryptic wordplay and Nneka’s husky voiced howls creates a distinct energy, making for an infectious anthem with an important message from an African perspective.
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Claire Mortifee’s debut album “Medicines” possesses several gems and her collaborative track “No Rollies” with David Morin is one of the smoothest. The combination of Mortifee’s songwriting and Morin’s sweet vocals make for a timeless cut, with all the softness of old school R&B melodies, as harmony stacks and the suspense of a standout bridge bump against a warm fat bassline and shamelessly sassy snare hits. Active in her hometown community of Toronto, Mortifee pops up often in California for her uniquely dynamic live shows, displaying her depth of lyrical delivery and showcasing the physicality of her music as she snakes across the stage in metallic spandex with an endless smile and powerfully natural magnetism.
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Seedhe Maut represent the next stage in the evolution of Delhi’s hip-hop sound. Comprising of rappers Encore ABJ and Calm, the duo dole out verses packed with social and political commentary, mastering the art of sharp, antagonistic and inventive rhymes through their rapid-fire delivery in both English and Hindi. The first single from their upcoming debut album ‘Shaktiman’ is produced by Sez On The Beat, and constitutes a fiery declaration of working class struggles; riffing off the metaphor expressed in the cult Indian TV series of the same name, the track imparts an underlying emancipatory message of self-belief, encouraging listeners to break free from the shackles of everyday life and empower themselves.
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‘La Niña Quantica’ Julián Mayorga, is a perfect example of the enigmatic Colombian producer’s ingenious, surrealist creations. The “cumbia” begins and a continued mantra that spouts: “A la niña le gusta la física cuántica (the girl likes quantum physics)”; unexpectedly, the lyrics also describe the function of the theory of perturbations in quantum mechanics. With such irreverent themes in his writing, this track from his 3-track EP “Nixon en la Playa” uses tropical elements and Andean folklore alongside progressive electronic experimentation and a somewhat black humor, the most characteristic elements of Mayorga’s sound,
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Nairobi based artist Loa Myst drops her debut single “In The Waters”, a soulful blend of synths and live instrumentation side chained to the pulsing heartbeat of minimalist drums and a surprising bassline that slides across an intricately layered sonic collage. Myst’s voice is strong, smoky, soothing and sweet all at once, switching effortlessly from rich RnB melodies to percussive rap breakdown as the track’s production morphs fluidly as the track progresses; the song is produced by Kenyan artist Nu Fvnk, a co-founder of the fast growing Producer/DJ collective, EA Wave, producing an eclectic cross section of some of the most alluring alternative pan-African artists. The pair’s full length collaborative EP “WADE” is set for release in November 2018.
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Danish synth-pop duo GENTS are uniting the retro energy of the 80’s with a forward-thinking approach to create emotional, futuristic music. The band consists of Theis Vesterløkke’s productions and Niels Fejrskov Juhl’s warm, deep vocals, combining to create a distinctive rich sound; their latest release ‘Moments’ serves up a pair of airy, Bowie-esque songs with a consistent melancholic tone, building anticipation for their next moves in 2019.
Otura Mun, an African-American musician and Babalawo (high priest) in the Yoruba religion arrived in Puerto Rico in the late nineties, and quickly positioned himself as one of the most important producers on the island. Accompanied by musicians Rafael Maya, Beto Torrens, Anthony Sierra, Yarimir Cabán and dancer Pia Love, Mun founded the multi-national project ÌFÉ, a powerful progressive synthesis of electronic sound drawing on influences from Cuban rumba, Sacred Yoruba praise songs, Jamaican dancehall, and US R&B. IIII+IIII (pronounced “Edgy-Og-Beh”) is the title of the nine-song debut album from ÌFÉ, released last year. The 45-minute ceremony combines Mun’s fluid, percussive rhythms with spiritual lyricism oscillating seamlessly between English, Spanish and Yoruba. Genre-less yet focused and clear, serene and ethereal at times and determined and powerful at others, this is a record that in spite of its high production values is as unpredictable as it is natural and raw – an astonishing piece of music from a truly unique act.