Listening Post #7

by Alex Brammer

1. beatboxbandit – plz;not this dream again

I’ve been listening to beatboxbandit for a couple of years now after discovering him while raiding Bandcamp tags in late 2014, but I thought he’d already peaked with “your love [interlood]”, a nifty minute-long loop which is up there with some of the work of the endlessly cloned Nujabes. I’m pleased to say that this loosie has toppled it from its best-BBB-track throne. It’s still a pretty similar set up – drum loop, female vocals, a little snatch of instrumental sample, but this has hit the right balance between Kaytranada bounce and melancholy. Look up beatboxbandit, you won’t regret it.

2. Panama Fleets - Kingsview

I’m proud to say that I’m a day-one fan of Sparkwood Records. Sure, they’re not one of the big Bandcamp labels like Beer on the Rug or Cryo Chamber, but they’ve put out some of the best ambient albums ever to grace the site, like Above! Convenience Store’s Building In Search of the Sun (one of the few dark ambient albums I’ve ever enjoyed) and eyesix’s Limerence (who’s now known as Any Colour You Like, but should really have changed his name to Boards of Ireland instead). I’m pleased to say that their knack for discovering talented unknowns hasn’t gone away – with the Last Outpost EP, Panama Fleets has given the world a fantastic taste of a new talent. Kingsview is a wide-open and wide-eyed ambient take on what a breezy summer evening should sound like. The IDM beat in the background is more or less forgettable, but Panama Fleets has a lovely take on drones, and it’s the drone-solo sections, along with a nostalgic but vaguely unsettling vocal sample about Boy Scouts, that’ll stick with you.

3. Andre 3000 – Solo (Reprise)

It would be criminal of me to allow a fresh 3 Stacks song to pass along unnoticed by this column, and it’s as ever lovely to know that he’s still got it. We’ll get that solo album or OutKast comeback any day now, any day… In any case, this track is a tasty little minute-long tease, with stunningly vivid imagery, like the rending of his own clothes by ripping off the horse logo from a Polo, or jumping off a building without having the time to scream. The relatively low-key instrumentation is appropriate – Andre is one of few rappers I could enjoy listening to a capella, and there’s so much to drink in in terms of lyricism, flow and meaning here that anything more would feel distracting. Keep your heart, 3 Stacks, keep your heart, but please give the people more music.

4. Vince Staples – Loco

Prima Donna has the biggest gap in quality between the album’s cover and the actual music since City of Syrup.. This is easily the EP’s best track – the overlooked female rapper Kilo Kish actually gets a verse during a guest appearance, which happens far too infrequently and which is all too brief here. The beat, meanwhile, is just as fantastic as you’d expect from DJ Dahi. It lands somewhere between Future’s Move That Dope and Danny Brown’s recent singles, with the same unending sense of buildup as When It Rain. It’s the kind of beat which calls for energy on the MC’s part to avoid being overshadowed, and boy does Staples bring it here. He’s improved on the rapid-fire, crystal-clear lines about gang life he had all over Summertime ’06 and shrunk down the bars simultaneously, so we get snappy little lines like “I load the .44 / Then paint the Van Gogh” or “I write the James Joyce / Don’t need the Rolls Royce” peppered in our ears like shotgun pellets one after the other. It’s a hungry track from a rapper who’s surely got to be approaching his peak soon.

5. Frank Ocean – Self Control

Blonde is suffering the same fate as Blank Face in that I’m doubling down on tracks for Listening Post. To be honest, there isn’t really much I can say about any of the tracks off Blonde that hasn’t already been said much better by loads of other people, but Self Control is too good for me to pass up talking about. The pitched-up chorus is a bit odd, but I’m glad it’s there just because it validates my unpopular opinion that Yung Lean is actually pretty good. It’s the outro where this really shines, though: listening through to Channel Orange before coming back to this track is like cleaning your sunglasses. Everything looked nice through them before, but wow, it’s a lot clearer now. I didn’t think he’d be able to improve on CO, but he’s only gone and done it. Go listen to the whole album.

Listen to the PearShaped Listening Post #7 Playlist below.