Graeme S + MynameisjOhn ft God Knows – The Struggle EP | Review

struggleIf two trains carrying vastly differing genres and cultures are traveling at a 160 beats per minute collide on the banks of the Shannon, how good will it sound? Pretty damn good, it would seem. That is if Graeme S + MynameisjOhn ft God Knows’ three track EP ‘The Struggle’, is anything to go by.

An exercise in cross genre, cross culture and cross musical pollination, the EP is sewn together with careful fingers, pulling the rhythmically charged lyrics of rapper God Knows through a net of pared back drums and floating samples.

The short EP’s first track, Save our Souls employs a ‘slowfast’ style. Jumping from deep bass to relentless snare it slows and speeds your heartbeat like you were about to have some sort of blissful stroke. God Know’s lyrics are dripping with racial consciousness and tongue and cheek self-deprecation, shot like a Gatling gun over some incredibly clean and polished sampling.

As a song for the marginalised, “Kids without fathers, girls who will never be models”,  it’s clear that it is God Knows own cultural integration into Irish life gives him a deep pool of angst to draw from. It is however the speed and precision of his lyrics which gives the EP its ‘cajones’.

While what would seem to be a fairly amateur fade out of the song’s title lyric “save our souls” sits incongruously into the otherwise unblemished track, the EP’s trio of tracks flow like a single song. The deep bass returns in STRUGGLE only differing slightly in tempo and again begins hammering at the heartbeat.

Classical samples are torn into little pieces and dotted throughout. In keeping with the contrasting genres, it mimics the racial and cultural bridges that the lyrics try to gap. Lyrics like “racists got me feeling like a parasite” are savage enough to make you pause and wonder about the culture of asylum seekers in Ireland; a culture most outside it wouldn’t usually spare a thought for.

The EP’s finale Shambala is a strange lyricless hybrid of African drum rhythms and vocal samples split open with gritty western samples. It gives both producers, Graeme S and MynameisjOhn a chance to showcase their ability to weave the two musical genres together. The vocal samples and bass of each track all run in the same key, creating the type of seamless transition which runs throughout the album; like an eerie soundtrack to the Lion King.

It’s an EP that deserves a serious listen, a rapper that deserves serious attention and producers who are more than capable at what they do. If it could be said that the EP is a window into a musically and culturally integrated Ireland, it should be played to those who God Knows mentions – those who are controlled by their prejudices – so that they can hear just how good a culturally diverse Ireland would sound.


Black Devil Disco Club – Black Moon White Sun | Review

black-devil-disco-clubDr. Who walks into a club, marches to the bar and orders a drink for himself. The drink is strong, he feels light-headed but decides to dance. The ‘Dalek’ DJ throws on Black Devil Disco Club’s new album, ‘White Moon White Sun’, and he loses his mind. Lasers and hugs are being thrown around the room and everyone feels good.

An odd daydream, yes but exactly the sort of fantasy that you fall into when this album begins, bongos beating and synth soaring it’s a feel good throwback to an age when electronica reigned supreme. Sun Dance Totem kicks off the journey, infectious bongo samples with strict marching drums leave the listener in a quasi-religious state of musical prayer, taking them out of their comfy chairs and marches them over hot coals.

For better or for worse the album continues in the same vein, making use of  an almost comical vocal sample, and lays on sheets of synth as it runs into Bee Boop and then into T.Hoo.  T. Hoo does manage to give a slightly ominous air as its bass synth is stifled and, to paraphrase Peep Shows Super Hans, contains the perfect level of dread.

A slightly light-hearted vocal sample, which sounds like a politician who has just accidentally touched a homeless person, takes the song out of the realm of ‘serious music’ (different to music which should be taken seriously) and in classic disco fashion puts a smile on your face.

This isn’t an album which takes itself too seriously, but then again neither did the entire genre of disco. Both Maymellow and Stardotcom follow down the same track, ascending riffs, extra-terrestrial tones and relentless snare bring you back to the first time you heard New Order’s Blue Monday, unconsciously head bopping and toe tapping. The Kid In Me begins with the same tone and sample usage but masks the blatant repetition with a some brilliantly cheesy lines like “I wanna’ see you naked till the end of time.”

While incredibly enjoyable, and frankly mood enhancing, the album begins to lose its lustre as it reaches Three Notes. Variety, while not wholly necessary, is totally lacking. With that being said it does allow the album to run seamlessly into itself and, by the time we reach the albums final tune Mexo Mambo, it probably doesn’t even matter.

By that stage we would have accepted our disco daydream fate and would be more than happy to get lost in it until someone explains to us that world hunger still exists. At least with this album we can forget about it for a while.

Black Devil Disco Club’s album doesn’t seem to have attempted to reinvent the wheel, but rather keep the wheel just as it had been in 1978 with the ‘Disco Club EP’. A wheel which just rolls without a care across a desert, down a waterfall and into your listening machines.