Guide to the Week of Music: Mercury Prize, Mahalaka, new sounds and visuals

Welcome to the Guide to the Week of Music, a round-up of music news, media and releases from the wide musical world. This week, we recap the outcome of last night’s Mercury Prize ceremony, dip into some new music projects and check out some astonishing new visuals from Manchester and further afield.

Wolf Alice win 2018 Mercury Prize

Wolf Alice’s sophomore effort Visions of a Life — Drowned in Sound’s favourite album of 2017 — took home the 2018 Mercury Prize, last night. It was made in Los Angeles with producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen, whose production resumé already included M83’s Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming and The Raveonettes’ Pe’ahi – the latter of which had inspired frontwoman Ellie Rowsell to look up who had produced it. Described by the judging panel as ‘an exuberant tapestry of swirling pop, grunge and indie guitar rock,’ it pipped Sons of Kemet’s Your Queen is a Reptile to the post, although Wolf Alice themselves and many in the crowd were stirred by their performance of My Queen is Harriet Tubman, which brought the first standing ovation of the ceremony.

As well as having produced a deserving winner, Wolf Alice have show themselves to be a caring and conscientious group, helping to establish the Bands 4 Refugees arm of the Help Refugees charity and being Music Venue Trust trustees. They’re on tour for the rest of 2018, as are Sons of Kemet, who return to Band on the Wall in October. Check out the performances from both bands below.

Om Unit announces first Mahalaka release

Jim Coles has explored numerous style of bass music over the years: synthy DnB as Om Unit, hip-hop and turntablism as 2Tall and a footwork/jungle hybrid sound as Philip D Kick. This week, the producer and DJ announced his new Mahalaka project, a moniker dedicated to modern jungle. The Exodus/Desert Road is the first 12” release from the project, featuring unique hand-stamped logos and a beautiful all black aesthetic. Coles explained on social media that he’d, ‘been toying with this idea of an alias for Jungle productions for a while,’ and goes into detail about the history of Mahalaka in the release description. Check out the intense, amen break-fortified opener below.

New sounds

Astigmatic records announced Tutejsi, the debut release by Polish duo Sarmacja this week. More than two years in the making, their debut 12” has developed in response to its production delays, lead single Ziemia łapie oddech arriving in the form of a downtempo and atmospheric study in dub techno. Marta Tomiak has done the graphic design for the release, which you can check out below.

Having made his name with retro psychedelic pop ditties, recalling the likes of Pink Floyd and Philamore Lincoln, Jacco Gardner has taken his vocals completely out of the equation on new project Somnium. Instead, analogue synthesis is the lead component this new space rock direction. Check out the brief but tasty cut, Volva, below.

New Visuals

Manchester has done us proud again this week, with a batch of impressive art from Blind MIC, The Mouse Outfit and Black Josh. Blind MIC’s Zed Bias-produced single LIKE ME comes accompanied with a Jay Bannister visual, stoking anticipation for the Future Bubblers artist’s forthcoming album, Love & Retribution. We get some beautiful bubbly electric guitar work from Blind MIC, a rock solid groove from drummer Oscar Ogden and some feather light BVs from LauraEll and Agbeko vocalist Ellen Beth Abdi.

The incomparable Mouse Outfit released a visual for Jagged Tooth Crook track, Pass me the Ashtray this week, featuring fast-rising rap and RnB artist IAMDDB on the hook – her inimitable phrasing lifting the track to new heights. The smoky, kaleidoscopic video design plays off the instrumental’s woozy rhythm and dubbed-out trumpet and the track itself features Sam Vicary aka. Hunrosa on bass.

Levelz and Mouse Outfit affiliate Black Josh dropped a new video for his wavy cut Judge Judy, directed by feature artist Nah Eeto, a bilingual rapper whose vocal character and effortless flow are a joy to behold.

Szun Waves, the project of Luke Abbott, Laurence Pike and Portico Quartet’s Jack Wyllie, released a mesmerising jazz-inflected electronic record recently and follow the release with this new video for Moon Runes. Its pulsing spheres and tumbling meteors echo the desolate, spacey vibe of the instrumentation, matching the calming yet unsettling harmonic content of the track. It was shot at Static Gallery, Liverpool under the direction of Sam Wiehl.

Ghanian artist Bryte released his debut album Too Good For Your Liking yesterday, alongside a video for The Hustler, produced by The Busy Twist. Beats on the record range from 95 to 150 BPM, covering afrobeats, UK funky and rap. The Busy Twist’s cut splits the difference; a club-ready 125BPM banger with lurching bass and Bryte’s laid back flow gliding over the rhythm.

Finally, French voyageurs soniques Cyril Cyril release their beat heavy, string laden new record Certaine Ruines today, and shared the video for Colosse de Rhodes earlier this week. There’s a recognisable North African thread running through the record, which on Colosse de Rhodes is most evident in the hypnotic banjo riff and metallic percussion.

Photos via artist agencies, Sarmacja design by Marta Tomiak.