TV On The Radio ATP: Preview Part One

With Death Grips, El-P, Dark Dark Dark, Antibalas and Dragons Of Zynth...
Death Grips live by Paul Sethi

In the first of two preview pieces profiling some of the act playing the forthcoming TV On The Radio-curated All Tomorrow’s Parties festival, held in Camber Sands May 10th-12th, Clash here aims its ears the way of five standout participants.

Says TVOTR’s Tunde Adebimpe of the acts:

"We chose all of the bands/performers – and lots of others who are not mentioned – because we love them and are excited to see them play. 

"They are all equally incredible in our eyes, and ears, and the fact that they're all going to be playing in the same place, in the same stretch of time is insane and something we're intensely happy to have helped make happen.  

"Honestly, if you miss it, you're gonna feel like a big steaming pile of shit."

Told

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Dark Dark Dark

Minneapolis might be the city of lakes, but plenty of water flows through it, too. Always stirring, the Mississippi splits the settlement in two, a major vein through the buzz and bustle.

It carries hopes and dreams, just as the music of Dark Dark Dark does, the folk-ish ensemble a sonic manifestation of deftly controlled (emotional) turbulence.

2010’s second set, ‘The Wild Go’, was a truly transporting experience: the sort of record that sucks one’s attentions into it, completely, consuming a commute. It’s a tear-shedder, a heartstrings-tugger. It’s incalculably beautiful.

Their 2012 follow-up, ‘Who Needs Who’, mined comparable seams of heartache. It’s too easy to call music “otherworldly”, but Dark Dark Dark’s dreamy fare suggests, at times, that they’re truly not of our plane. Lay back and let them take you.

Official website 

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Death Grips (pictured)

Where to begin? The whole major-label thing? The dick on the album sleeve? The cancelled shows, the rearranged shows… the phenomenal shows?

How about the music: which is nothing short of utterly, terrifyingly incendiary. Since bursting into the public sphere with their Ex-Military mixtape of 2011, the Californians have maintained a tunnel-vision ethos sonically: punishing beats and attacking raps, oddly melodic despite the carnage it can leave in its wake.

There’s politics here. How can there not be with music so alarmingly confrontational? This must have been what it was like to experience a pre-breakthrough Public Enemy as they found their voices within the Bomb Squad mix. It’s compelling. It’s caustic. It’s tremendous.

Official website / Clash interview

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El-P

New Yorker Jaime Meline’s most-commonly-employed musical moniker mightn’t leap straight to mind amongst the General Public when the question is asked: “Who is your favourite MC?”

But El-P’s CV is impressive indeed, his work spanning three decades and continually attracting critical acclaim. From Company Flow in the 1990s, to his debut solo set ‘Fantastic Damage’ (2002), to his production work on Killer Mike’s phenomenal ‘R.A.P. Music’ album of 2012, this is an artist whose quality control is impeccable.

Meline’s latest solo album, last year’s ‘Cancer 4 Cure’ (review), followed previous trends in accumulating some impressively positive column inches. Featuring collaborations with Danny Brown and Interpol’s Paul Banks, it was a considerable standout amongst 2012’s hip-hop crowd. And El absolutely kills it live, too.

El-P’s back on radars right now, too, with his Killer Mike collab project, Run The Jewels. Expect the pair’s album to emerge in June, and expect it to be a free download.

Official website 

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Antibalas

Translating from Spanish as “bulletproof”, there’s certainly an untouchable quality to New York’s premier afrobeat ensemble. Their reputation truly precedes them, and their set at ATP is certain to be amongst the liveliest of the weekend.

A going concern for some 15 years now, Antibalas has seen its profile rise slowly but appealingly organically. Some came to the band early on, and caught them live at the stars of the ‘00s; others were turned on by their collaborations: with Foals, on their ‘Antidotes’ album, and on a handful of TVOTR sets.

However one finds Antibalas, though, they’re an act not easily forgotten. Channelling an infectious energy, carried by bubbling brass and squealing keys, their sound connects the dots between underground cool and world-minded accessibility. There are no boundaries, no barriers – Antibalas make music for a world turning at the same speed whatever continent you’re standing on.

 Official site 

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Dragons Of Zynth

Cleveland-raised and Brooklyn-based, the core members of Dragons Of Zynth engineer their band’s music so that it immediately sets their stall out. This is gently roaring, psychedelic-hued rock with just a whisper of R&B in places, that takes cues from then but powers through to the now with real class.

Its beauty lies in the lightness of touch evident: it’s one thing to generate a rousing racket, quite another to balance this tendency to freak out with more cerebral passages that connect with an audience’s pleasure sensors in a way that’s akin to slow courtship.

Music that can both patch up and (re)fracture ATP minds: Dragons Of Zynth are a multifaceted manifestation of daydream trips to lurid highways.

Official site 

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Hear a special mixtape featuring these acts here.

Get more information on the TVOTR-curated ATP weekend – May 10th-12th, at Camber Sands, East Sussex – and buy tickets for the event here

Death Grips photo by Paul Sethi

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