Ninja Tune Turns 20: New Ninjas
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Apart from admitting to still reading the Beano, which doesn't conjure up or cement any traditional imagery of a prison-roughened rapper, DELS (see main picture) certainly sounds like a gritty young pup. He also has creative minds propping him up: Hot Chip's Joe Goddard is responsible for the churning grime electronica on latest single 'Shapeshift' and Micachu produced the chiming 'Violina' with all the raucous flourishes you'd expect from the oddball multi-instrumentalist. We'll see how scrappy the boy is when his full length is released next year. For now you'll have to make do with DELS and all of his 12,000 incarnations abuse his wardrobe and makeup crew:
Londoner Jono McCleery brings a temperate edge to the Ninja Tune roster; mournfully playing with well-worn folk traditions and more experimental, sparse soundscapes.
Upcoming single 'Tomorrow' (released next week) is a great introduction, having a full four minutes of maudlin lead in- with some semblance to Arab Strap boating across the Styx- before the jazz beat lifts the tempo (if not the tone) and McCleery's pensive croon sets in. Backed by the soulful verve of double bass playing, lean percussion and strings which occasionally bubble to the surface, McCleery sounds reminiscent of the wistful noises committed to tape in Nick Drake's dusty bedroom.
Straddling a murky boundary between trip-hop, dubstep and darkly austere pop, Emika has made no attempt to be a warm or welcoming artist on her first singles or E.P. Drop The Other. But plenty will find a lot to love in her stark and otherworldly collection of faltering beats, sharp piano melodies and cold, haunting vocals. Emika lived in London and Bristol before moving to Berlin, and the scattering of places she's called home offers some explanation for the bleak technologically driven approach to her music.
Though he is a member of Passion Pit, who produce intricate synth spindles to support the falsetto and loving odes of Michael Angelakos, at the helm of Shuttle Nate Donmoyer adopts a much harder electronic tone. Firmly entrenched in the remix culture, Shuttle has built up a catalogue of first class reworkings, injecting a pulse into songs by Body Language and Phoenix amongst others. In the reciprocal spirit of the culture, Shuttle's own tracks have been popular for cosmetic overhauls, including a beautiful take on 'Rotten Guts' by UK maestro Gold Panda. Here's to hoping he'll trump all of these with his upcoming debut of originals, and leading off with a great sludgy single like 'Tunnel' bodes well.