Following on from our round-up of 2017, Shuf looks ahead to the new year at what lies on the musical horizon. Featuring a selection of promising new artists, exciting upcoming releases and the revival of a certain genre, check out some of our hopes and predictions for the next twelve months.
As the buzz around Craig Richard’s brand-new festival reached fever pitch in August last year, one promise of the weekend overshadowed the rest: twenty-four hour music. Houghton was a breath of fresh air, an antidote for a UK festival scene becoming increasingly afflicted by strict licensing laws. Priding itself on the fluidity of its programming, an all-encompassing range of DJs and artists played numerous sets across the weekend, delighting crowds with spontaneous b2bs or extended, engrossing sets. How strangely comforting it was to fall asleep within earshot of Ricardo Villalobos’ marathon duologue with the Houghton head honcho, only to awake hours later to the sounds of its elated 11am conclusion. If 2018 continues on with the very same formula against the gorgeous backdrop of its woodland lake epicentre, it’ll be another unmissable edition for this year's festival calendar.
Words: Josie Roberts
The unknown can uncover the good, the bad and certainly sometimes the ugly. However,
always one to take risks with my odd musical purchases, I picked up Yanya’s latest EP
Plant Feed from the November’s 2017 Independent Record Fair purely on the basis of the
cover art. A scanned medical packet adorned with a rose, against a baby pink back dropped
designed by the singer herself. Melding together fuzzy guitar led rhythms and enthused with a
touch of jazz, unfiltered lyrics and blasé vocal stylings, it’s no wonder she’s made the BBC
Sound Of 2018 list and just like mine should be your new obsession.
Words: Lois Browne
Sounds & Visions at the Barbican 11-14 May
Meeting at the convergence of music, art and social commentary, composer Max Richter and artist Yulia Mahr curate a weekend of unmissable concerts and film screenings at the Barbican this spring. Welcoming an innovative and varied line-up of guests including Caterina Barbieri and The London Syrian Ensemble, the programme's fusion of electronic and classical sounds promises to intrigue and delight in equal measure. One to especially look forward to is the scheduled performance of Richter's multimedia work Infra which examines 'the submerged sounds of the everyday, of the unnoticed, the overlooked and the forgotten.' Accompanied by performances from Shuf favourites Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith and Jlin, this is surely one not to be missed.
Words: Georgia Tobin
Raised by a punk rocker and northern soul boy, Benny Mails’s idiosyncratic brand of hip hop is created with a DIY ethos. Influenced by London’s grime scene and his favourite artist of all time James Brown, his latest release Aware, The Mixtape is a definitive collection of eight tracks with substance that lurk in the sombre darkness of his deep thoughts. Featuring a number of collaborations including with his fellow Transgressive label mate Marika Hackman on Aware, Mails proves that he’s not about generic conventions. Makes sense considering he started off performing as a break and contemporary dancer.
Words: Lois Browne
Suzanne Menzel Goodbyes and Beginnings (Frederiksberg Records)
As poetically harrowing as it is bubble-gum, introspectively yesteryear and decorated Frederiksberg heed the call to re-release a well kept secret of until recently, hushed Danish folk selectors. A stunning flagship of the genuine fusion encompassed by few so ahead of their time, Menzel as projected through Klaus Schønning's irresistibly bold vision presents a debut that has since been unmatched by most standards. Taking lead from 60s-style campfire folk and peppering the surface with drum machines and a deeply moving melancholia, what lies before us is something that surpasses the endless bland synth-pop or overly twee folk that would soon follow. Not a tiresome blend feigning pioneership - something truly new-age. Consume in winter.
Words: Rajan Sundavadra
With a regular Beats 1 radio show, a string of festival headline performances and of course the release of his long anticipated sophomore album Blonde, 2017 saw pop-R&B demigod Frank Ocean reemerge into mainstream popular culture in a big way. And if a recent Tumblr post is anything to go by, he may well be here to stay. "If you liked two thousand and seventeen then you'll love two thousand and eighteen", Frank displays in a teasingly ambiguous photo. Instilling hope that more new music may be on the way, let's pray that 2018 does indeed turn out to be an even better year than the last for Frank's devoted fanbase.
Words; Georgia Tobin
Daniel Avery Song For Alpha (to be released in April)
It's been five long years since Daniel Avery released his seminal LP Drone Logic - a crisp, club-ready record with hefty basslines and acidic synths which became a statement debut for the inimitable producer and DJ. There’s been a slow stream of EPs released since, along with a curated remix LP and his own DJ Kicks, but Avery’s been keeping us on our toes as we’ve eagerly awaited news of a second full-length addition to his discography. And last Friday, we were granted such a gift. Song For Alpha is to be released on his home of Phantasy Sounds on April 6, and in celebration we’ve got a new EP Slow Fade to tick us over ‘til then. Where “Drone Logic’s spiritual home was the dancefloor,” Avery affirms, “this record’s is definitely the road. Those late nights and hazy mornings, finding inspiration beyond the fog.” With the moody, spaced-out title track Slow Fade as our only album teaser, Song For Alpha is set to take us in an excitingly new direction – an introspective space within the club, “eyes closed ... a light emerging from the darkness.”
Words: Josie Roberts
SInce 2015 Bonzai Records have been regularly reintroducing early 90s Trance into the mainstream with mp3 release of classics - known and unknown. Purveyors of the genre, bar myself, have included Nina Kraviz who is always known for dropping one of many quality trance numbers in her sets, and we all remember Space Dimension Controller's iconic use of Ayla at Ava Festival. Those one off drops are what’s kept the genre as a talking point but now, more and more DJs are employing the trance drop. Credit to Lorenzo Senni for keeping the chat alive and introducing a new form of trance to the masses. This year I predict a reintroduction for the quality of old skool trance to break through the cheesy shackles and prove itself for the quality genre that it is. It's been bubbling under the club radar for a while now so this year it will finally reach the big time. There’s more to trance than Sandstorm, and 2018 is the year that'll prove it.
Words: Tai Kolade