Without Portfolio – Part 3: Groove On

As we draw to a close this little odyssey of unsigned, we stop to appreciate not just love but something greater and more terrible. We pass from devotion to obsession. Groove On is a project encapsulating both artist and audience. It is, almost certainly, post something or meta another.

As audience, they busy themselves with weekly mixes of fresh vibes which you can catch at their website or soundcloud. As artists they produce exquisitely modern music with heart and balls. And hooks, lots and lots of lovely hooks.

Of late I have been exploding at anyone within earshot about the sheer excellence of a couple of them, in particular. Over on sharp beats and clever moves we have Stevie, while on vocals we have the have an ethereal Clair Rosengren lost somewhere between folksy melancholia and unruffled R ‘n’ B.

Prototype – by Stevie – is a pulse, a beat that keeps you moving as you stagger homeward after too much, too old. It is the trees and street lights speeding to blur as the bus bustles and bumps it way through the dying of the night. It is steady when you are swinging, the calming hand of an old friend on your shoulder:

On one level, Thinkin’ Bout U is a simple guitar and some cleverly interwoven vocal harmonies. On another it’s the moment between moments, a graceful pause in the torrent of being. Yes, the source material is great (I can’t name a better Frank Ocean song) but this version is transcendent:

Best of all, as these two artists are in the same gang/project they’ve found a bit of time for some colloboration. I’ll leave you with I know, a dark, silky pool of late-night reflection:

I know featured on last month’s Skewed Quiff, which you can check out here. It’s definitely worth a few minutes of your time:

 

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Without Portfolio – Part 2

It’s like sleepwalking in your pajamas while being wrapped in a blanket of marshmallows while it’s snowing indoors, but you’re still warm and getting milk from the fridge to go with the peanut butter sandwich you just made.

You’re 17 and still in school. Your music totals some quarter of a million listens on Soundcloud and you’ve just been asked to describe your sound. How do you respond? Personally, I’d shit a brick.

It takes a certain preternatural confidence to answer it seriously. A stony self-belief that the questioner will not just laugh, a resolution that however pretentious you may come off that honesty is the best policy. The above response is not a typical music industry response because Ani Bharadwaj is not a run of the mill Internet sensation.

Prodigious teenagers are hardly a new thing to music – even before the Internet there was the marvel of Roddy Frame getting signed at 16 and having a hit single with Aztec Camera by 19 or The Arctic Monkeys exploding from a Sheffield garage to stardom within a year. In recent times, I’ve repeatedly pushed the greatness of Mura Masa, who may be the greatest thing ever to emerge from Guernsey. But, Ani is so grounded both musically and personally it’s a little frightening.

His music is like play-fighting with a sleepy Tiger –  warm, fuzzy and reassuringly deadly. Music made of blood and sinew and love. Wishing Well, from his wondrous As We Know EP is a watery electronic echo, a rattle of sticks and barely tune piano, punctured by bone-jangling bass. It is both serene and shattering:

Who Knows is waking slowly and unwillingly at the wrong time; your body and mind lost between sleep and fear, the twisting lights of nearby traffic bouncing off the crazed shadows of night-time furniture, noise filtered through a broken kaleidoscope. It is delirious and delicious:

You can purchase the As We Know EP from Ani’s bandcamp including, should you have the inclination for such things, the vinyl pressing which should ship in the next few weeks. Listen and love, folks.

Weird Inside featured on Skewed Quiff a couple of months back – it’s taken me a while to get round to blogging about him – and you check out the full mix here:

Or check out the most recent selection of beautiful, sad, angry, uplifting music here:

 

 

 

 

Without Portfolio – Part 1

I’ve been away for a while, lost in the dull chaos of existence, my attention focused on necessary mundanity, and in all that time this blog has been retained it’s shape and purpose like a gift waiting to be unwrapped. This is unusual for me as I find that generally, ideas – infernal,ephemeral whispers that they are – disappear if I even dare to look away. Hopefully it means that this is a good blog or at least that I believe it to be an important one.

I’m gonna highlight a few unsigned artists whose work deserves much greater public awareness. I don’t know any of these people, I don’t know much about them and, most importantly, if they paid me to do this I would choose instead to ignore them. This blog is born of love.

First up, the world should prepare itself for the general excellence of Leach, another graduate from the ever-fecund Austin, Texas scene. Self-releasing through bandcamp and his website Leach’s new record, Millenial Spirituals is a folksy, electronic catherine wheel of a record, spinning endlessly and unpredictably but always drawing your attention. Take Cloud Nine, a track about the misery of being trapped, about knowing that you only escape if you can overcome that misery but that you can only overcome that misery when you escape. You’ve got to appreciate contradiction that sounds so lovely:

 

The stand-out track on this 7 tracker is Bad Luck – a fuzzy, frazzled fuck up of a song; a relationship that doesn’t relate; an excuse that isn’t an excuse. This is someone hating themselves but trying not to and it’s wonderful:

 

Where Leach goes from here is both abundantly clear (he’s moving to Brooklyn) and absolutely unknown (there are no announcements of new music) so if I were you I’d sign up for his mailing list and spend a paltry fiver buying his latest record.  From here, he could disappear or conquer the world.

Leach featured on April’s rather marvellous playlist which you can check out here:

 

 

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