Friday, 4 March 2011
SR Mix #71: Light Club (Slow Hand Motem & Coco Bryce) [Myor]
Further exploring the power of 2 in this, our ‘second birthday period’ here on the world wide web, this week’s SR mix is by a super talented duo. Light Club is a collaborative project between two beat makers who reside miles apart from each other. One, Coco Bryce, we’ve featured heavily before and the other? Well Slow Hand Motem is someone whos work has slowly but surely beguiled us. Working together on a collaborative 7” released on Coco’s Myor label, a homespun imprint that’s already put out two stunning 12”s in the Tropical Heat series, Coco lives in Holland and Motem rests his head in Canada but from talking with them both its obvious that the gulf in their social geography doesn’t halt their processes one bit.
Taking cues from each other’s music, with Coco’s lineage mainly in hip hop instrumentals and Motem’s pedigree as a singer and fractured drum mechanic always prevalent, their debut EP as Light Club mixed the weirdo synthesizers they’ve both harnessed individually with a certain type of pressing melodrama. The limited edition Night Bulbs EP - freshly released in an expanded digital format with remixes from people like V.C. and Boss Kite – is built around the musical clusterfuck ‘Scirocco Night Drive’ (which you can hear below) but also holds gems like ‘Ghost,’ a woozy nightmare that flips into a 4x4 strut and the criminally short ‘Nick Nolte’ which swaggers maliciously.
Having just released his debut album, ‘Boesoek,’ on the Fremdtunes label Coco remains calm conducting himself in the same way all our exchanges to date have gone: speedily and incredibly direct, leaving me playing a methodical game of catch up.
“It definitely was a task to sort out the tunes that fitted together as best as possible from the pile of tracks I'd made over the last years,” he concedes when pressed on the spine like thread that hooks the 10 tracks together. “There's some pretty old ones on there and on the other hand I did quite a few new ones that didn't make it onto the album, simply because we (DJ Mace, one of the Fremdtunes head honchos, and myself) didn't see them fit in so well with the rest. This was kind of the first time that I really spent a decent amount of time on that, you know, to make sure it wasn't just a collection of tunes, but a real album instead.”
And even though it sounds cliché - to produce an album rather than a collection of beats - you can hear that he’s unified his productions. He can range from fist poundingly intense boom bappers, to meandering synthesizer heavy skweee explorations, and for this outing his beats are concise, with only one passing the three and half minute mark. They’re pretty much all an exploration of a certain idea, a certain groove or a kind of sound sentiment that he’s shooting for, for example ‘Embarcadero’ is constructed simply around laid back chords, leaving a long woozy linger whilst ‘Wobble Trouble’ winds up and smacks hard powered by an insistent jagged chord progression.
“Skweee is more of a departure from the boom bap stylings for me,” he offers when we discuss the variety on offer. “I've been doing hip hop instrumentals for quite some time now, and I hadn't even heard of skweee until about 2 years ago. But, apart from the drums, I think ‘Boesoek’ is pretty skweee'ed-out. At least that's what I meant it to sound like, what with those high-pitched synths and all.”
Defined by a few stand out labels and compilations, imprints such as Harmonia and Flogsta Danshall and compilations like International Skweee and Skweee Tooth, the skweee sound – so called because the pioneers were squeezing out every sound possible from their primitive equipment – the sound is developing at a glorious rate with producers a great distance apart sonically managing to stand side by side.
“When the skweee guys first started to embrace me or whatever, I was almost like ‘do you really think I’m skweee?’” Motem reveals to me over a late night Skype connection. “I do funk music so I’m like ‘am I really skweee?’ but all the guys were like ‘you don’t need to worry about that. That’s stupid.’ Especially Randy Barracuda, he was like ‘you know when its skweee, because you feel that its skweee.' Its more like, just a feeling, its not like it has to sound super Scandinavian or Arabic or whatever. That’s not the case.”
The tracks that I do now are growing,” he continues, “like I listen to the new Poisonous Gases Skweee Cruise and stuff and the music is growing, like it is super young music still. Its definitely based in older things, standing on the shoulders of its predecessors but it’s a fresh music.”
In his track ‘Supernatural’ Motem croons in his very singular and iconic way, “the funk that I present you today // is serious but in a playful way // mis-use of words, is a big nae nae // and nature, keeps my being in check.” And its this sentiment that rings true when you talk to him. Repeatedly he tells me “I’m just doing me, I'm playful. Like a cat,” and from spending an hour in his company, whether that be just looking at a caricature like face in a laptop screen or otherwise, he is really like the character he portrays in his lo-fi youtube videos. He’s passionate and enthusiastic, fumbling over himself to tell me as much as he can in as much detail as possible. He’s funny, like laugh-out-loud-repeatedly, kind of funny and by using his body and face as much as he uses lyrics, he successfully manages to channel that charisma into his visual representations of his songs.
And they are songs. He does beats too like the tuba sampling ‘Go Rilla’ I played a couple of weeks back on our Hivemind.fm show, but he’s at his wonderful best when fumbling over lyrics atop his music.
And that’s why Light Club is a project that intrigues so much; Coco has the beat polish, and Motem the lo-fi weirdness. It’s a combination that works so well in principle and in practise.
“We were both on Harmonia’s International Skweee Vol 2, right? He had that track ‘Ghetto Freaks’ and I had ‘Smells Like Randy Barracuda’” Motem recalls when pressed upon the inception of the partnership. “It was in the dying days of myspace and he was like ‘I really like your track and it’s a great title’ and I was think ‘oh… thanks man’ and he was always really good about getting back to me on the emails. There was this time when I wasn’t really going out, I was just holed up making tracks and he’d always be shooting me back these emails super fast and I was like who is this guy!? He’s really on it.”
He started sending me tracks right away trying to get me to sing on them and then I sent him some tracks. It was very natural, it doesn’t matter that its an impersonal medium like email, it just felt super natural and then he was just like we should do an EP where you do some tracks and I do some tracks – so that was Slow Hand Coco, like the first run – and then he was like lets do a seven inch [Night Bulbs EP]. So I sent him the ‘Ghost’ track and he was like this is very, very different, ‘we’re expanding the whole thing of skweee’ so that’s what, I mean I don’t think we ever set out to do anything, but that’s what happened really. Its like beyond skweee or something.”
The ‘Night Bulbs EP’ is available now from the Myor bandcamp. ‘Boesoek’ is out now on Fremdtunes and you can grab a whole heap of Motem material, including his latest work, ‘Tales from the Cryptid,’ over at the Gebbz Steelo boutique
Words: Oli Marlow
DOWNLOAD: Light Club – Sonic Router Mix #71
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