Planet Mu has announced the next album from label regular Ital Tek.
Titled Bodied, it’s the follow-up to 2016’s Hollowed album, and according to the label sounds “as if Hollowed’s detailed world has been fleshed out and filled with the spectre human voices.”
Bodied was written after a few years writing music for different projects, including a video game soundtrack. “I was getting up really early and sketching out lots ideas very fast, squeezing in quick bursts writing at the beginning or end long studio day spent working on other musical projects,” the producer says in a press release.
“It was important for me to define the world that the album was going to inhabit before taking it any further, so I put a much greater focus into the sound design and palette than I had before. I wanted to make the music sound very physical, geometric, and monolithic, as if it inhabited a physical space.”
Stylistically, the album is an evolution the ambient-leaning sounds 2016’s Hollowed, built around “acoustic elements and ghostly choral arrangements, refracted and transformed into atmospheric, alien forms”.
Bodied is released on September 7, but you can watch the video for brooding album track ‘Blood Rain’ below.
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Vicious Circles arrives in August – stream ‘God’ now.
Sinjin Hawke and Zora Jones are joining Planet Mu for the release a collaborative EP.
Titled Vicious Circles, the seven-track EP marks the first time the pair – who run audio-visual platform Fractal Fantasy – have collaborated on a full EP. It’s released on August 3 on digital and vinyl formats.
You can listen to EP track ‘God’ below, which a press release says pits a “sinister Bulgarian choir sample against a peak Timbaland-era rhythm”.
Over the past few years, Hawke has produced for Kanye West (on the Life Pablo track ‘Wolves’) and released his debut album, First Opus, while Jones released her debut EP 100 Ladies in 2015.
Both feature heavily on Fractal Fantasy’s two Visceral Minds compilations from 2015 and 2017, which included collaborations with Jlin, DJ Rashad, L-Vis 1990, Murlo, Martyn Bootyspoon and more. Earlier this year, Fractal Fantasy released a browser synth called Liquid Entropy.
Check the artwork and tracklist at the bottom the page and revisit Zora Jones’ FACT mix below.
01. ‘Vicious Circles’ 02. ‘God’ 03. ‘Source Of Conflict’ 04. ‘Lurk 101’ 05. ‘Solace (Interlude)’ 06. ‘BabyBoySosa’ 07. ‘And You Were One’
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FACT Rated is our series digging into the sounds and stories the most vital breaking artists around right now. This week Lewis Gordon speaks to Istanbul producer Sami Baha whose video games- and rap-inspired Free For All is out June 1 on Planet Mu.
On his 2014 breakout club track, ‘Chunk’, Turkey-born producer Sami Baha deployed the infamous Mortal Kombat sample “finish him”, an utterance usually accompanied with slapstick video game gore, amidst a writhing, ascendent trap instrumental. Describing it as the “god mode edition” in the track’s SoundCloud URL, Baha momentarily declared invincibility, perhaps for club-goers as much as himself, before entering back into the arena.
Free For All, his first album and second release on Planet Mu, continues the producer’s propensity for video game allusions. Another term for deathmatch, the mode in which online competitors face f against one another, Free For All channels not the violence the phrase but the sociability such an experience. Released from a digital context, Baha uses it to describe the energy, fizz and endorphin-rush acclimatizing to his new south London home. “You know in Peckham there’s so many cultures and you just become part a society that exists here — there’s African people and Latin people — everyone has their own culture and music. I think that’s like Free For All —all this information and all these people.”
It’s an environment not dissimilar to the noise and communality Istanbul, the city he grew up in before leaving in 2015. He fondly describes his own neighborhood, Tozkoparan, in the searing Anatolian heat as “actually very crowded — everyone outside, barbecues, kids playing football, everyone just blasting some kind music that they love.” Hanging out on the streets as an eight-year old gave him his first taste the rap music that would come to dominate his listening habits but it was only one part the local soundscape.
“People were playing rap, dancehall, some techno music, some POW POW POW — really like, ravey synths and kicking bass.” He also describes “bubbling”, a Turkish strand high-energy techno which blared from internet cafes, cars and mechanic workshops. Baha tells me the music he heard mostly sat outside the mainstream western pop and Turkish Arabesk, artists such as Ibrahim Tatlises and Müslüm Gürse. “This was a street culture kind music,” he says, a continuum he’s keen to situate his own music within.
Alongside his group friends in Istanbul, Baha would delve into American rap, falling in love with the output chopped and screwed pioneer, DJ Screw alongside the work Three 6 Mafia producer DJ Paul. He also rapped at freestyle parties with his highschool friend, Kufura, who’s featured on the album, although it was never a serious pastime. “I used to do freestyles but it was more a comedy rap type thing, more like mumble rap,” he says, laughing. “It was very local, these small events in random basement clubs. I just wanted to express myself.” Baha started making beats a few years later, recalling how he would lug his desktop computer across the streets Istanbul to Kufura’s home. “I had a lot fun during those times,” he says.
His memories the period surrounding the Gezi Park protests in 2013 are not so happy. What started as a challenge to the proposed urban development the Taksim Gezi Park in Istanbul turned into national protestation at the Erdoğan government. Sit-ins and marches across Turkey were sometimes met with excessive police force causing death and injuries to those involved. “It was a politically tough time and shocking that all these things happened,” he says. “After Gezi Park there was a depressive mood and people were trying to figure out what would happen after it.”
The events and their aftermath occurred while Baha was having a tough personal time. He worked a day job editing a television show about video games and spent his free time making music and barely sleeping. The tracks he created then would form part Mavericks, his 2016 EP. The cavernous bass and intricate arrangements are charged with an aggression and tension specific to the time, although creating the music allowed him to both process and avoid the worst parts the political turmoil. “I was in an escape kind mood,” he says. “I think that protected me a lot, mentally too, because I expressed myself in some way. That was a release.”
If Mavericks was the sound Baha transitioning from an oppressive, disheartening environment — the blasted trap beats almost a means cathartic therapy — then Free For All is a more open, outward looking record. It also channels the idiosyncrasies and incongruences Baha’s personality. ‘Path Riot’ digs into the producer’s love stoner rock and sludge metal, sounding like the Californian desert music Kyuss if Mike Will Made It had engineered the session. There are features, too, including Dimzy from UK drill group 67, Swedish rapper Yung Lean and Planet Mu label mate DJ Nate.
The most effective is provided by Dawsha and Abanob on ‘Ahl El M8na’, the two Egyptian rappers sparring over insistent clicks percussion, propulsive bass and a clipped guitar melody. It was recorded after the two MCs took him back to their studio in Cairo following a festival performance, an opportunity which allowed Baha to explore a culture and country he’s partially related to by family. ‘Ahl El M8na’ also gets closest to the Arabesk music Baha would hear growing up in his home. “My parents were dancing to Whitney Houston but then they were blasting Turkish Arabesk and Turkish funk music. The music is great because it’s so emotionally charged. When you listen you hear all the crazy arrangements, all these drums and synths — it’s a big composition on every record.”
Such a sound, or at least the feeling that sound evokes from Baha, is hard for him to to shake. It’s weaved its way into his own take on street music. “When you hear that music, it stays in your memory, you never forget the songs,” he says. “I think there’s something really mystic about that.”
Lewis Gordon is a freelancer writer. Find him on Twitter.
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