Dave Wins the 2019 Mercury Prize
Dave, the 21-year-old rapper and songwriter from South London, has won the 2019 Hyundai Mercury Prize. Making the announcement at the Eventim Apollo in Hammersmith last night, judge Annie Mac praised the courage and musicality on show in his debut full-length album, Psychodrama. The award follows recent recognition at the GQ awards, where Dave was named the ‘Breakthrough music act’, plus two awards at the AIM Independent Music Awards for ‘Best Independent Album’ and ‘Best Independent Track’.
Dave’s emotive performance at the Mercury Prize ceremony was one of the night’s more toned-down live tracks, as high-energy, high-octane performances from Black Midi, Slowthai and Idles sought to grab the audience with their intensity. Elsewhere, we saw former Jazz Directors Series participant Chelsea Carmichael take to the stage with the Cassie Kinoshi-led SEED Ensemble, and we saw various nominated acts photographed with the ‘no music on a dead planet’ banner, a slogan from the Music Declares Emergency group of artists and industry professionals standing to declare a climate and ecological emergency.
Watch’s Dave’s performance of Psycho below and revisit the full televised award show on BBC iPlayer.
The Repeat Listen: Ecstatic Vision – For the Masses
With the release of 2018’s Under the Influence, Philadelphia-based quartet Ecstatic Vision laid bare the cluster of artists who’ve influenced their navigation through the realms of heavy psych-rock experimentation. From the extended jams and suitcase synthesizers of space-rock group Hawkwind, to the immediate garage rock sound of MC5 and the deeply groovy rock stylings of Zambia’s WITCH, they paid homage to a range of the groups that they love. Album number four, For the Masses, hears them returning to original material, and crafting a jam album that carefully balances the sonic and structural freedom of space-rock with the immediacy of riff-based hard and garage rock.
From the opening seconds of Sage Wisdom, their swirling, frequency-spanning synth work is at the forefront, blending intriguingly with fast-paced hand percussion and a dubbed out sample of a lecturing spokesman. As that primer bleeds into Shut up and Drive, their heavy psych riffage seizes the baton, leading a free-flowing modal workout over distant acoustic rhythms and delay-drenched, guttural vocals. Like A Freak is a standout cut, with gutsy energy and a more rigid song structure providing a welcome midway reprieve, before The Magic Touchpulls the listener back into a spacious, timeless headspace, with meandering vocal melodies and shimmering Tomita-esque synth textures, the chunkiest of bass licks and gritty utterances of “she got the magic touch!”
The band’s reverence for seventies psychedelic and hard-rock is as present here at is was on Under the Influence, but their original material has something meaningful to add to the legacy of that musical movement.
New Sounds and Visuals
Dub reggae pioneer Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry builds upon his fruitful collaborative relationship with On-U Sound’s Adrian Sherwood with the forthcoming dub LP Heavy Rain. A new video for its first single, Enlightened, sees Perry casting a balloon carrying a spiritual message into outer space. The original footage comes from the 2003 Higher Powers feature film, directed by Peter Harris, and further animation comes from Llyr Williams and Eranga Sanjeewa.
Moor Mother has releases the track Black Flightfrom her forthcoming album Analog Fluids Of Sonic Black Holes. It features a verse from poet, filmmaker and visionary thinker Saul Williams, while taking shape around Throbbing Gristle-esque percussive electronics, rumbling bass, and Moor Mother’s low-register, percussive rhymes.
YĪN YĪN have released the track Pingpxng from their forthcoming album on Bongo Joe records. The Dutch four-piece draw influence from music originating in South East Asia, crafting a percussive and riff-led brand of instrumental psychedelic rock.