Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

AMNESTY WEEK 2K10: Girl Unit – Wut

With that name, you’d really want a publicity photo that makes you look a bit less grubby, wouldn’t you?…


Zach Lyon: I feel like I’m missing out on something here. I’ve heard nothing but detailed accolades for this, when it mostly just fades into my background. At its pleasant best, it’s still a little annoying. I could probably use some contextual education as I don’t listen to much dubstep, but if I’m not into this, could I ever really be converted? Apparently all these hip-hop signifiers are a big deal! It’s still kinda boring.

Chuck Eddy: Considered docking these whatever-they-ares points for the stupid spelling, but I shouldn’t hold nitwits posting on message boards against them (or him or her), should I? Plus, at least with a song title, the lack of a question mark is a non-issue. And there’s enough reverberating space and beauty here that I really don’t mind (I apologize in advance for not comprehending the music’s “context,” btw. But context is overrated).

Michaelangelo Matos: This just came up on the RA Label of the Month Mix for Night Slugs — after Rush Hour, which ruled in new and old dancefloor music (some trick), Night Slugs is the label of the year — and it sounds more glorious than ever, really. Girl Unit is my DJ of the year, without question: fabulous mixes and podcasts all over the place, two or three of which are strong contenders for a Top 10. It’s an amazing run from a new talent, but even if we weren’t able to keep up from our living rooms with music in far-off places (and so frequently), Girl Unit would have my ears going if all he’d done was release two 12-inches, “I.R.L.” and this one, which mesh the usual assortment of rave-oriented precedents in ways that consistently surprise and deliver. There’s a smear to “Wut” that evokes the delirious feel of early-’90s hardcore: there’s some kind of subconscious echo of DJ Seduction and other early happy-hardcore heroes. But the bass makes it feel slower, and that gives the throwback quality its poignancy. It’s a memory and a new dream at the same time.

Alex Macpherson: In 2010, Night Slugs exploded from being one of many minor club nights with their sights set on more to being the label running things creatively in London clubs — and indeed electronic music full stop. Girl Unit’s “Wut” is the crown jewel in a remarkable discography (all the more so, given that the imprint’s debut release came as recently as January). It sounds like little else — in clubs, it doesn’t so much blend into its surrounding tracks as crash through them, rupturing the set in the best possible way. It’s delicate: that pointillist, quasi-pizzicato melody and its twinkling, star-spangled echo. It’s opulent: the lush, layered synths reaching outwards, textures pitched somewhere between grime’s homemade rawness and The-Dream’s velvet luxury, a red carpet stretching through space. It’s emotional: Girl Unit understands how R&B singers pack pure feeling into their vocals, and his loop of K. Michelle’s “Self Made” provides repeated, undiluted waves of the stuff — both brittle defiance and yearning ache. It’s the single of the year — its status is reinforced by equally astonishing B-sides “Every Time” and “Showstoppa” — and I want them all scored for orchestra post haste.

Iain Mew: The first minute of this, taking superficially ugly high pitched keyboards and pushing them to their limits to come through the other side as something beautiful, is Gold Panda-level amazing, and initially had me intrigued at where it could go from there. The vocal interjections go on to very effectively offer a focal point for it to build and expand around, but at the same time they bring it back to being a bit too of-this-world. Still, seven minutes go by really easily and I’m interested to hear more.

Katherine St Asaph: Good, you found the presets and can sample. Next step, make this go somewhere.

Martin Skidmore: A glittering, slow dance number with a very strong hook sample, skittering beats and rather trancey chords. It’s hard to describe or categorise — the way the vocal is created, which really is insanely catchy, reminds me of Southern hip hop, if that was keen on very high-pitched vocals, and I guess there is some dubstep in here somewhere, but the whole of it is just so swoony and beautiful and irresistible. One of my favourite tracks of the year.

Frank Kogan: This sounds as if the most passionate, wailing music in the world were frozen into glistening stalactites, shimmering above us in exquisite, helpless sorrow. Not sure how I’d dance to this – more likely twitch and stare.

Kat Stevens: Where dubstep is concerned I have been somewhat of a bewildered onlooker for the last couple of years, not really getting how anyone could dance to an incoherent clicky vorgey mess with no 4×4 beat or bass line to tie it together (see also psytrance). No longer! Dubstep and I have now come to an amicable agreement, largely thanks to big ravey melodic pop bangers like this one that add up to a round number. It has the same super-processed tweedly-echo vocals that annoyed me when Burial did them, but replacing ticks and clicks with the 8-bit Nintendo noise seems to have done the trick. The same goes for Ikonika — this sort of stuff even sounds good when there’s no bloody bass on your laptop speakers. Unfortunately it also sounds good when you are three hipsters sat on the Overground platform at Dalston Kingsland blaring it out of an actual ghetto blaster at 7pm, wearing large plastic glasses with no lenses in them.

Tal Rosenberg: It’s not that Girl Unit realizes that the rhythm is the bass, it’s that the base is the treble. Everything here is stretched into string, the keyboards and chimes and the voices. And they keep stretching and stretching, pinched to the brink, and then the bass drops. The treble is the buildup, and it’s built to the top. Then the voices freak out in panic: WUT WUT IMMEE IMME AYUHNUH AYUNUH: AIIIIIRRRRRHOOOOORRNNN: BOOM!

Jonathan Bogart: Basic trap rhythms (complete with FUCKING AIRHORNS) with cut-n-paste vocals out of circa 2000 glitch = something exciting? It’s good nighttime driving music, to the extent that every time I’ve listened to it at least half of it has slipped right past my attention, but I’d be curious to know what uses it has besides wallpaper.

Alex Ostroff: Late-night twinkling chimes, air sirens, Dirty South snare rolls, chopped and treated emotive vocals, endlessly repeating “Wut”… Its component parts are nothing dance music hasn’t thrown at us in the post-dubstep world (or the pre-dubstep one, to be honest), but they’re slotted together beautifully into a gently rolling sea of synths constantly fading away, only to pull you back in. Midnight music to file away with The xx, Burial and Jackie Chain’s “Rollin’”.

Mallory O’Donnell: Everything I’ve heard from L-Vis, Bok Bok & Night Slugs has been pretty stellar, and this is no exception. Trippy electro, breakbeat and classic-era house with just a hint of freestyle collide in a sticky, city-as-fuck beat that swallows you up like a cloud of hash smoke. The only thing less-than-perfect about this is the vocal, which I could honestly use just about 30% less of. But then, you can’t be 24 forever.

15 Responses to “AMNESTY WEEK 2K10: Girl Unit – Wut”

  1. What uses it has? These are the uses it has.

  2. Some of my other amnesty week contenders, btw:

    Brenmar – Taking It Down
    Kingdom ft. Shyvonne – Mind Reader
    Teairra Marí ft. Mavado – Coins
    Jam City – Arpjam
    Fantasia – Man Of The House
    Diamond – Lotta Money
    Chan Dizzy – Nuh Strange Face
    Funk Butcher ft. Shea Soul – Pull Me Close
    Jamie Woon – Night Air
    Kourtney Heart ft. Magnolia Shorty – My Boy
    White Ring – Ixc999
    Roach Gigz – Pop Off
    Doorly ft. Lady Chann – The One
    Die Vögel – Petardo
    Lady Leshurr – Shurr
    Glasser – Mirrorage
    Storm Queen – Look Right Through
    Horror Inc – Aurore

  3. I didn’t blurb this partly because I didn’t want to bring the average down, knowing how much people love this track. Pretty considerate huh?

  4. I came very close to doing the same thing. This is the second song I’ve kept out of the #1 spot (I didn’t see that coming). Oops! I don’t wanna be the Jukebox heel…

    Also feel bad cause I do feel like I could imagine certain contexts in which this would be fitting or more enjoyable, but I don’t want to rate a song theoretically.

  5. Also I just checked out Glasser based on Lex’s list…wowowowowow! Love at first listen..

  6. I really wanted to like this a lot more than I did. As it stands, I kept wanting to hear whatever song the vocalist was plucked out of. (It isn’t Katy B, is it? Dead ringer for her if not.)

  7. It’s K. Michelle’s “Self Made”, linked in my blurb. (Though Girl Unit has remixed Katy B’s new single “Lights On”, which is released on Monday!)

  8. “Mirrorage” is amazing, love the whole album but that one is the clear standout.

  9. those wallpaper commenters, you guys need to go to a club where this track will be played, stat

  10. I really want an honest to god house re-edit of this that keeps all the great bits of the original (bass, synths, pitched up rnb vocals, AIRHORN NOISE) and fixes the only real problem (slightly weedy beat). But yeah, great track, and if we’re going to have a big dubstep-non-dubstep consensus single this year I’ll take this over last year’s Hyph Mngo any day.

  11. I can guarantee it would be met with puzzlement and disgust at most clubs within driving distance from me. (Airhorns I’ll never give up on hating. Too many douchebags, too many parking lots.)

  12. I forget which state you live in, Jonathan, but Bok Bok, Girl Unit and Kingdom are touring the US next March, so that will probably change! I mean just loo at the crowd reaction to “Wut” in the video I posted, so amazing – those are the moments you live for. It’s a motherfucking monster.

  13. I’m in the deeply uncool state of Arizona. We can just about get it up for David Guetta or Pitbull; anything with stronger pretensions than that and we start muttering about fancypants intellectuals and reaching for our legislature.

  14. Girl Unit has already headlined an Arizona club!

  15. This is just amazing …