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The inaugural edition of We Out Here arrived at a fortuitous moment for us. Following the immense disappointment of the cancelled Houghton, it promised a comparatively calm, expansive experience in a similarly picturesque niche of quaint rural England. It should not however sit in the shadow of Craig Richards’ leviathan – the line-up was suitably, refreshingly diverse and aimed squarely at the immense curatorial talent of Gilles Peterson. Performances from vast swathes of the Brownswood and Worldwide FM rosters were promised, alongside a motley crew of selectors and musicians offering everything from chilled out jazz to mind-bending tehcno.
Tom Graham chats to the Tobago Tracks affiliate about mumble rap, defining his style as ‘pop music’, and how he uses lyrical obscurity to heighten his music’s emotional resonance.
An absurdist exercise in musical volatility, an album trilogy largely consisting of Smash Mouth mashups, and ‘Old Town Road’. What do these things have in common? On paper they really shouldn’t work. And yet, somehow, they do. That wasn’t a punchline, but rather an observation indicative of a wider trend that has caught my attention. It’s related to the rising potential of the gimmick not only to disrupt the mainstream, but also to be utilised in the pursuit of something beyond mere schtick. Earlier this year, outsider pop duo 100 gecs released their outrageously eccentric debut album 1000 gecs, kicking up a real fuss amongst the usual suspects of online discourse, Pitchfork and The Needle Drop in particular.
Assembled by Georgie McVicar, Texture Tape 036 is a kaleidoscopic journey as refractive as their new album – the quietly stunning Tiny Grassland. The mix weaves a sea of samples and instrumentation into a blanket of many threads, a patchwork quilt of influences and musings. It’s a fitting accompaniment to the album and it’s adjacent book, both out now via Mutualism – get comfy and dig in.
Texture Tape 035 has been brought to life by ANE label head Mistareez. A distinguished producer in his own right, the mix covers the spectrum of contemporary ambient sounds, from dusty to dubby, spliced vocals to supple warmth. Drawing on a trove of mystery trax and personal influences, this one comes straight from the source. It’s the sound of a cozy day in or a hazy morning after. You decide.
Located on the site of a former S-bahn railway station bordering Kreuzberg – an area in Berlin that has experienced rapid gentrification over the past decade – Görlitzer Park (or ‘Görli’ to locals) is currently under threat by state attempts to ‘clean up’ the city’s shadier areas. Police crackdowns on rave gatherings and drug-dealing in the park are endangering the liberal values and counterculture that have made Kreuzberg one of the most tolerant and multi-cultural areas in Berlin.
It’s Friday night, and you’re heading round to a gaff with your pals from art school. It’s not your usual skeezy piss-up, it’s one of those parties where all the boys have tiny beanies and all the girls have new wave mullets. It is, for all intents and purposes, a Cool Party. It’s good fun, until you notice that the aux is working its way towards you. Christ. What will you put on? The fate of your interactions for the rest of your night rests upon this. 
A video frame centres on a pair of hands, steadily working their way through a dozen or so parcels. One by one, the goodies inside are revealed: a pastel anime girl on a white long-sleeve top, swim shorts branded with the SEGA logo, a candle shaped like a disfigured Roman bust. Out of shot, a voice cuts in, explaining that all these items are available at Vapor95, the “go-to” online store for clothing and accessories themed around ‘vaporwave’, a retro internet microgenre built from looped fragments of 80s/90s pop and lounge music.
To preface this article on music streaming and mental health, I want to first acknowledge that in the period between first completing the research for this piece and its publication Spotify have released a new feature for their platform known as Daily Wellness. These weekly playlists contain a “mix of music and wellness to guide you through your day” and while this is certainly a neat idea that I commend them for implementing, it differs from what I will go on to discuss in its formatting and execution. Critically, it is not a purely music-based tool, including some bite-sized mindfulness podcasts that, to my mind, interrupt the flow of some well personalised feel-good music. While some may well find this useful, listening to the same hackneyed tropes about self-care that I’ve heard repeated ad nauseum makes my eyes roll so hard that my retinas almost detach (see: “activating your purpose”, “creating stress breakthroughs”, “finding your resonant archetype”, etc.).
‘We love to surprise ourselves, in a myriad of ways’, says Gribs, DJ and co-runner of London-based label TT (fka Tobago Tracks). ‘We’re getting a better sense of what function we want the label to serve…and what it can be both in the music industry and in the wider world.’
Our next instalment of the Texture Tapes series comes courtesy of South London-based duo FYI Chris, whose eagerly anticipated debut album Earth Scum arrives on 5th March via Black Acre Records. They’ve already shared a handful of head-turning teasers from the album, including ‘Scum of the Earth’, a belter of a track which layers Thick Richard’s gnarly poetry over bruising broken beats.
You better buckle up because our first Texture Tape of 2021 is an absolute belter from start to finish. We couldn’t be happier to welcome L.A.’s Kaili to the mix series, nor could we feel more juiced up after listening to her turn up the pressure with pumping club workouts and raucous bootlegs. This mix is an exercise in how to chop tunes that are bursting with energy while keeping things tight and controlled. At a time where many of us are feeling spent after just 10 days of 2021, here’s some much-needed fuel to top up your tank.
Using burning synths and dusty guitar licks, Ben Khan taps into an aesthetic that is at once both futuristic and soulful. His latest instalment to his Crimson EP series, Crimson GEN2, is inspired by the time he has spent living in LA, documenting his experience of the “lonely sprawl of the megacity”. GEN2 oozes like candle wax, as Ben’s reverb-soaked vocals melt into a swirling fusion of indie electronica, alt R&B, funk and Pakistani hip-hop.