Welcome to our Guide to the week of music, a round-up of music news, media and releases relating to the Band on the Wall program and wider musical world. This week, we delve deeper into East Man’s exceptional LP Red, White & Zero, exploring the critical ideas underlying its sound and presentation. In addition, we explore new sounds and visuals from a week’s worth of browsing.
East Man discusses the creation and cover shot of Red, White & Zero
Anthoney J Hart is a diligent producer and arguably, one of British electronic music’s contemporary visionaries. His ‘Hi Tek’ sound is a reconciliation of his musical background and the influences that informed his previous projects – a sound written large on his astonishing East Man LP, Red, White & Zero.
There’s no lustre to the Hi Tek sound; East Man’s beats are coarse, gritty and angular. Each rhythm has a disruptive quality and every patch used, a colour and depth. It’s as if each element cannons around a tower block stairwell, picking up traces of matter from the myriad concrete, steel and plastic fixtures it collides with. The MC’s who collaborate on the record: Killa P, Darkos Strife and Kwam amongst them, rise to the immediacy of these rhythms – fuelling the fire with authentic, energetic bars.
Hart isn’t certain what motivates him to produce, but suggests that it’s ‘something I do naturally,’ quickly countering, ‘or perhaps it just seems natural now as I have been doing it for so long that it has become a compulsion.’
Teaming up with Paul Gilroy – the academic, theorist and writer behind There Ain’t No Black in the Union Jack and Black Britain: A photographic history – gave the project a significance beyond its audible qualities. Gilroy’s accompanying essay helps the listener to identify with the social history predating the record, providing context to the music and reflecting Hart’s desire to engage with the social, racial and economic subject matter that matters to him.
Hart and Gilroy struck up a relationship after Anthoney had reached out to Paul ‘regarding some personal research’ he was conducting. Gilroy features among the crew on the records cover – a beautiful piece of photography with its own intriguing story.
‘The photo was taken by Lola & Pani.’ Hart explains. The concept and location were Anthoney’s, as he explains, ‘The location is Cafe Music studio in Bow. My friend Mark owns the studio and my friend Cherif works there. Cherif also recorded some of the vocals for the album there. Bow is significant in a couple of ways, firstly and most obviously because of the connection to Grime, although this isn’t technically a Grime album, but on a more personal level Bow is significant because both my grandparents on my mother’s side were from Bow and my mother was born there. The idea to have everyone together on the cover I thought was important as it tied in to my repurposing of the title ‘Red, White & Zero’ from the Lindsay Anderson film, as well as shows the diverse range of ages and people and backgrounds that not only contributed to making this album, but that contribute to making up what London is. And at this time I felt that it was an important statement to make.’
Hart describes the making of the record as a natural process, ‘A fortuitous confluence of events and meetings.’ The beats were produced prior to the release of his two Basic Rhythm LPs, before Hart had made contact with several of the MCs involved. ‘These were things that I have become interested in over the years,’ Hart says of the record’s subject matter, ‘…even more so over the past few years with the rise of a dominant monoculture coming in from the arts and taking over the music world.’ He started work without a label or personnel list in mind, allowing the pieces to gradually fall into place.
‘Someone suggested I send what I had to Planet Mu, and they picked it up. Mike at Mu was really into the idea and basically let me continue to do what I wanted. Regarding the writing from Paul, again that was just a natural thing. Paul and I had become friends over the years after I had reached out to him regarding some personal research I was doing. Towards the end of recording the album it occurred to me that a lot of what we talk about when we meet up had some connection to the album, so I simply asked him if he would write something to accompany the album, and he very generously said yes.’
You can find the LP and accompanying essay on Planet Mu’s website and check out the brand new Red, White & Zero freestyles via FACT. Hart recently began a collaboration with producer Walton, whose Black Lotus LP features the likes of Riko Dan and arrives soon courtesy of Pinch’s Tectonic label. We’re looking forward to the next chapter of the East Man project and despite the artistic barriers Hart and his peers face, are confident they will produce the goods time and again. Keep up with East Man on Twitter, SoundCloud and stream the record on Spotify.
Singer, songwriter and record producer Israel Nash shared the first track from his ‘modern day hippie-spiritual’ Lifted this week. The record was produced at the creative sanctuary of his own making and its single Rolling On is something of a fresh take on the classic rock sounds of Leon Russell, Neil Young and other such American rock idols.
Trevor Powers also returned with two forward-thinking tracks this week. Drawn from his first studio album since the conclusion of his Youth Lagoon project in 2016, Ache and Plaster Saint are laden with challenging and interesting ideas, set apart by Powers’ ever-recognisable timbre.
LUMP have shared the third single from their collaborative debut, released today on Dead Oceans. May I Be The Light deploys the 5/4 time signature and evolves gently, hearing Marling and Lindsay venturing further from their sonic origins. They make bold use of electronics on the cleverly arranged track, described as ‘beautiful and light’ by Stereogum’s Gil Green.
It’s wonderful to welcome another record from Norma Waterson and daughter Eliza Carthy, after the bout of ill-health from which Norma has thankfully recovered. Recorded at the Fisherhead Congregational Church in Robin Hood’s Bay, Anchor was co-produced by Neill MacColl and Kate St. John and and is a beautiful and dynamic folk record. Lead single The Elfin Knight is ‘a song collected by Ewan [MacColl] and Peggy [Seeger] in the 1950s’ and the band’s arrangement of it is tremendous: banjo, fiddles and a chorus giving it drama and edginess.
Finally, Arp Frique welcomes us into his colourful world today, with an LP featuring contributions from Orlando Julius and Brazilian favourite Ed Motta among others. It’s second track is entitled African Reggae Disco and provides an apt description for the entire record. Check out his Red Bull session here.
Datashock shared a DIY video for their ace track Hullu Gullu, wir liefern Shizz this week. Released on Bureau B – the German label responsible for the re-issuing of several Kosmische Musik classics by Peter Baumann, Sven Grünberg and others – the track centres around a motorik groove and is packed with psychedelic sound.
Vocalist and violinist Sudan Archives dropped a stunning video for her EP track Nont For Sale, this week. As the video’s style director Bukunmi Grace told Vogue, the choice of clothing for the shoot “was an amalgamation of her [Sudan Archive’s] origins, personality, and inspirations. I wanted elements that showcased that she’s an Afrophile but also highlighted her Midwest ’90s roots.”
Finally, two outstanding West African acts made appearances on Later…with Jools Holland during the past seven days. On Friday, West Africa’s ‘first all-female supergroup’ played an incredible rendition of Doona with Malian vocalists Mamani Keïta, Awa Sangho and Rokia Koné on vocal duties. Tuesday saw Femi Kuti appearing on the show. Check out Les Amazones D’afrique’s performance below and catch Femi Kuti live again tonight.
Photo credit Elly Lucas (Norma Waterson & Eliza Carthy)