A Brief Primer on the Contemporary Glitch-Hop Scene

Kursa

Photo by Daniel Lucia

Glitch-hop is an elastic, freeform musical style with songs that flex between 80 to 130bpm (often settling around 110-115) and contain any musical reference point the artist sees fit: hip-hop, dubstep, breaks, big beat, electro, halftime, ghetto funk, mid-tempo funk, trap, even tropical, chill, and neuro drum & bass—all are fair game. The only common throughlines are the gnarled, low-end textures, swaggering breaks, and a lineage that can be traced back to the late ‘90s/early ‘00s when genre pioneers like Tipper, Bassnectar, Push Button Objects, and The Glitch Mob’s edIT emerged from the burgeoning breakbeat sound with slower, heavier sounds and a hip-hop mentality.

Since that time, the glitch-hop blueprint has been torn up and redrawn with every new generation. And while few artists would strictly categorize themselves within any particular genre, many of its leading protagonists—such as Culprate, ill.Gates, Opiuo and Mr Bill—operate in similar ways; they’re serial collaborators who run their own production courses, build their own fan base, and encourage cross-pollination between genres. They seem driven by a sense of community and cooperation between peers, making use of live streams on channels like Twitch, as well as input from their listeners; it’s an attitude that reflects their anarchic, “musical melting pot” mindset.

Tipper

Tipper is the godfather—not just of glitch-hop but of all things broken, left-sided and low-end. Active since the mid ‘90s breakbeat days as a producer, DJ, and co-founder of Fuel Records, his sound is a constantly mutating gumbo of broken beats, strange basslines, and mixed tempos. For a deep dive into his gurgly glitch-hop, head for his EP Trilogy. Twelve tracks of Dave Tipper at his dancefloor finest, the series features the quintessential glitch-hop anthem “Ton Of Brix.”

Beardthug

Beardthug

Providence duo Beardthug emerged in 2016 with a subversive electro-tinged take on the Justice vs. Simian classic “We Are Your Friends.” In the two years since, they’ve poked their noses into a variety of bass-related styles, from trap to dubstep to drum & bass. Trace elements of glitch can be found across most of these explorations (especially in their track “Girthworm Jim”), but this year’s single on MalLabel, “You Won’t Like This,” is glitch-hop to its core. From the pure theatre of “Morning Mimosa” to the haunted house skanks and sludgy funk of “This Falafel Has Drugs In It,” it’s weird, exciting, dramatic, and, ultimately, the sound of an act digging deep into their signature sound.

Culprate

Recently listed in a trip-hop roundup here on Bandcamp Daily, Bristol’s Culprate should also be considered in any glitch guide. You could also file him under dubstep and drum & bass, but glitch is where he started; it’s what underpins everything he does. That’s felt stronger than ever in his Unity Project, a series in which he actively collaborates with peers and new-generation talent alike. One of the finest examples of his work and creativity so far, however, is Deliverance. His third studio album, released in 2014, the album came about through a well-campaigned crowdsourcing project, and involves a wide range of session musicians who helped realize some of Culprate’s wildest ideas to date. Essential listening.

AK

Vermont’s AK released his first album Tekmusiq (his mum accidentally helped him name it) in 2014, and has followed with five more staggering LPs. They’re all rich glitch odysseys and come with a concept or theme. Some are mathematical (see 2016’s Function() {), some are personal (last year’s Manifesto), and some, like the album he released this year, are just very clever. Released last month, FAQ riffs off the idea that music should ask just as many questions as it answers. Each pair of tracks throughout the album comes with a question and answer within their title and theme. It’s a unique concept from a unique glitch operator.

Gramatik

Gramatik represents the funkier, more soulful side of the glitch movement. To date, he’s built up a vast, nine-album body of work that moves from languid-but-lolloping hip-hop instrumentals (as heard on his early SB albums series) to the outrageous bass filth of “Future Crypto” on last year’s inaugural Re:Coil volume. Refusing to remove his tongue from his cheek, Gramatik (real name Denis Jašarević) operates with wry humor and a sense of playfulness in both his internet patter and his music. “Aymo” is proof; it’s a track that has the audacity to pair legendary rapper Talib Kweli with a brazen Balkan beat and makes it work.

CloZee

French producer CloZee probably wouldn’t categorize herself as a glitch-hop producer; her palette is too vast and cinematic to fit within any genre. But she broke through in the early 2010s with a slew of bass-heavy blast-offs such as her Dubious EP and, as the title track of her recent Harmony EP proves, she’s still a glitch master with toxic basslines running through her veins. Dig deep into her back catalog and you’ll find she’s just as handy on a guitar, with an album packed with impressive acoustic covers of well-known mainstream hits.

ill.Gates

Ill Gates

Another upstanding glitch citizen, ill.Gates seems driven by community and unity. One of the most approachable and helpful artists in the scene—he actively encourages collaboration and interaction with fans—Gates’s producer DoJo and production education website Class Of 808 are dedicated to pushing the craft forward into the next generation, providing courses, tutorials, and heaps of advice for free. It’s been this way for the Toronto-born, San Francisco-based artist for over 15 years, across four albums and enough tracks and collaborations to soundtrack an entire festival. His finger-drumming solos in his live sets are the stuff of legend and he’s a dab hand with the art of Foley sounds. Hell, he’s so glitch, he welcomes promoters to photoshop his image on their flyers (as long as he looks good, and is cuddling at least one kitten).

Kursa

Kursa is a master of the darker glitch arts; sometimes it’s moody and pensive, other times brash and guttural, and always liable to take strange melodic twists (like the track “Wifey”). It’s been this way for some time now as he’s steadily dished out a broken bass banquet over the years. At times, almost literally; over the course of 2016 and ‘17, he delivered a 28-track album entitled You Can Eat Whatever You Want For Breakfast. His prolific feasts continue to drop on the regular via his Kurs’d Earth subscription base and via the razor sharp Slug Wife label, where he releases work from fellow innovators such as Seppa, Maru, and U.K. bass maverick Reso.

Father Of Chrome

Contrary to the title of his latest album, Father Of Chrome isn’t dead at all. He’s alive and kicking ass with slo-mo power breaks and strange, gloopy cosmic slop bass that hangs off every kick. Operating out of Long Beach, FoC (real name Jesse Jacobelli) first emerged five years ago with a much more aggressive, electro, and dubstep-inspired glitch-hop sound. He’s since settled into something much more singular and hip-hop-like. “Carnivore” is a prime example of Jacobelli’s experimental prowess, whipping up a vibrant but militant fusion storm that could quite be labelled “rainbow trap,” if such a genre existed.

Mr Bill

Mr Bill

Photo by Silky Shots

Sydney’s musical maverick Mr Bill has shoved his fingers in a smorgasbord of sonic pies since he emerged in the late ‘00s, from psy trance to electro. But the bedrock of his mind-boggling output is a beautifully weird and wonky glitch funk fusion that ranges from his Art Of Mr Bill series (which is based around his tutorial sessions to help up-and-coming artists) to his Corrective Scene Surgery project with Funilab, where each release forms an extended narrative. A serial collaborator with a strong sense of community, Bill is clearly passionate about sharing knowledge with courses, samples, and project parts to all his tracks on his website. The future of glitch-hop is in very safe hands with this mister.

Opiuo

Recently spotted leading the 20-piece Syzygy Orchestra into a bass frenzy at iconic venues like the Red Rocks Amphitheatre, the New Zealand-born, Melbourne-based fusionist Opiuo is taking glitch-hop to new levels. He’s recently translated their collaborations into a five-track EP entitled Syzygy 01, the latest in a nearly 10-year body of work that’s been grounded in glitch-hop since day one. More is expected to follow. Check out his earliest work Physical Symptoms from 2009 to hear him sowing seeds for the madness he’s conducting—quite literally—today. 

Stickybuds

Landing somewhere between raw, loose-limbed funk and powerful bass music, Canadian funkateer Stickybuds is just as comfortable blasting out a 170bpm drum & bass breezer as he is getting mucky in 110bpm bass swamps. What remains consistent throughout his work is a powerful hip-hop attitude (which secures his place on this glitch-hop list), and a growing political message that reached new peaks with his exceptional debut Take A Stand, an album that salutes the the 99 percent. Everything you need to know about Stickybuds’s sense of groove and justice can be found in the above track “Crooked Politicians.” Stand up!

Vancara

A brand new act bubbling away deep in the bottom of the glitch cauldron, London brothers Mike and Jim Benwell represent the future of glitch’s mid-tempo melting pot as Vancara. Though their first dispatch was February’s Exploration EP, the duo sound as if they’ve spent years honing their production prior to the release; there’s a clear sense of musicality and live instrumentation in their work so far. Yet more proof that the future of glitch-hop is in safe hands, all the co-signs for Vancara are in place; they’re breaking through on Melbourne’s Adapted, the same label the likes of Kursa, Haywyre, Audeka, Au5, Stickybuds, Skope, Cheshire, and many more innovative bass talents all cut their teeth.

-Dave Jenkins

6 Comments

  1. tipperottfan
    Posted August 26, 2018 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

    Thank you bandcamp daily… I was beginning to think you have forgotten about this fine independent scene altogether. For years it seems like the whole music industry (INCLUDING even alternative scenes like bandcamp daily) has intentionally been bullying/ignoring these hard working, visionary artists into oblivion.

    What I still miss is some love for acts like Shpongle and Ott, who were the early psy downtempo precursors of glitchhop.

  2. RPL
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 2:39 am | Permalink

    TOP TOP rec’s all round, and in comments. Have to mention Barry Koota. Volume UP!

  3. Posted August 22, 2018 at 1:06 am | Permalink

    I’d like to mention “Bogtrotter”. You are all welcome!

  4. Posted August 21, 2018 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    brief?
    this is incredible, an adequate view of a ridiculously large genre, learned a LOT here new artists GALORE for me and some favorites, ALL FAVORITES NOW i am reposting this everyEVERYWHERE

  5. Posted August 21, 2018 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    Unfinished Monkey Records also teases alongside the glitch hop scene…

  6. Posted August 20, 2018 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Supersillyus the master of psychedelic glitch

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