Read our five-point guide on the best new sounds from the periphery
Struggling to navigate the abundance of new music? We’ve made life easier for you by compiling a list of five distinct artists who are switching up the game. Acquaint yourself with the bars of Croydon rapper Hardy Caprio, the cinematic sounds of Lanark Artefax, experimental art collective Lifestyle, Minimal Violence’s brutalism and Ace Tee’s sophisticated R&B below.
Fans of late-aughts electronic pop may remember Lewis Rainsbury as a member of the R&S-signed Vondelpark. There, he meshed pop melodies with influences from dubstep and UK bass, but before Vondelpark, Rainsbury had also been connected creatively with longtime friend Luke Brennan – a figure in London’s peripheral punk scene. Now they’ve reunited as figureheads for South London experimental art collective, Lifestyle.
“Our individual separations from society and conformism lead us back together back with Lifestyle,” the collective told Crack via email (they answered collaboratively). “It’s a Tesla. We’re running the vehicle on endorphins and dodging speed bumps.” The language they employ – cinematic and vivid – is emblematic of their loose, experimental sound. By distorting vocals and integrating influences from across London’s underground musical map they create a sound which is driven by vignettes and recollections. “Aesthetics are important to us as they represent a choice made by each individual in terms of how they express themselves.”
Using spaced out trip-hop production tools, reverb-soaked vocals and gloomy, overcast filters, the Lifestyle sound is almost like a splintered disintegration of pirate radio frequencies. Aptly, their debut mixtape is called Calm FM. Thematically, the tape might fit in with the league of inner city deconstructionists like Actress or Burial, but Lifestyle’s decision to put vocals at the forefront make them a far more accessible proposition.
“Gossip is the opiate of the oppressed,” they told us, reflecting on the quietly sedating vibrations of Calm FM. “We’re not being melodramatic. We embrace that pain in the hope it brings about change.”
It’s undoubtedly a little pompous, but the kind of theatrical approach Lifestyle are taking to their output is intriguing, too. When we ask them what’s next, their answer sounds like a bourgeois, dystopian alternative to the Trainspotting monologue: “Think bitcoin, think DMT, think Über, think Berghain. We’re bringing people together, encouraging engagement with their our own Mecca.” See you on the other side.
Mount Kimbie / Burial
“My bro said my new joints are better than my dissertation.” This is what 21-year-old Croydon rapper Hardy Caprio tweeted the other day, as his latest track, Unsigned continued to clock up hundreds of thousands of YouTube views.
If he’s currently juggling finals and singles then he’s doing a good job of it. Unsigned is a gloriously infectious summer banger with a silky hook courtesy of One Acen. It’s a move into more poppier ground for Caprio who’s built a following on dextrous, smooth freestyles which sound custom-built for the kinds of garage instrumentals which played at clubs before he was old enough to get in. If he continues this winning streak, his dissertation will have a lot to compete with.
J Hus / Mist
Imagine, if you can, that esteemed noisemakers Lorenzo Senni and Amnesia Scanner conceived a musical lovechild in Drexciya’s ocean, and you’re somewhere close to the music of Lanark Artefax. The Aphex Twin and Björk-approved producer and All Caps alumni is riding a serious wave of hype since his EP release on Nic Tasker’s Whities label. According to the Glaswegian producer, the EP is centred on “the story of a youth/death cult of storm chasers”. It’s easy to see why he’s attracted such acclaim – its cinematic, glowing sound nudges you into sublime realms. We expect the dreamy breaks of Touch Absence will take many a discerning dancefloor to a higher plane this summer.
Lee Gamble / Holly Herndon
The first stirrings of Vancouver’s Minimal Violence – aka Lida Pawliuk and Ashlee Luk – were felt off the back of the Heavy Slave, a leathery, low budget house cassette on Canadian label Genero. In thrall to DIY aesthetics and post-punk squall, the tracks were of a piece with early Diagonal cuts or the clubbier side of BEB. Nonetheless, subsequent releases for Jungle Gym and 1080p saw the duo develop and strengthen their hardware-driven sound, though the gift for melancholy atmospheres and tape hiss remained. Their latest EP, Acid Lakes on for Lobster Theremin, should see break through once and for all, packing as it does their heaviest, most club-oriented material yet. But it’s not just mindless, blown out brutalism: squint into the sandblast and you’ll make out clever use of crowd noise, nostalgic synth washes, junglist rhythms and throwback acid lines. Deploy a track like Untitled Workout in any given industrial space and retreat to a safe distance.
Sporting Life / Young Male
While it might seem a little counterintuitive to have somebody on the New Music page with over 2 million YouTube views under their belt, the viral explosion of Hamburg rapper Ace Tee’s breakout hit Bist Du Down shouldn’t be written off as a one-hit-wonder. The German-Ghanaian rapper dropped the effortlessly sophisticated R&B track at the end of 2016 and has been riding off the momentum ever since. Promisingly, a quick trawl through the tracks on her SoundCloud page will show an artist gearing up to release a more developed exploratory project. Blending 90s nostalgia with an unbothered breathy flow, Ace Tee’s probably got an arsenal of hits in the locker. But we’ve got a feeling she’ll be playing the long game.
ABRA / Princess Nokia