The Best of 2016: Nick Duke

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In 2015, we reached out to a host of our comrades who had been involved with Birthday Cake For Breakfast somehow during the previous 12 months, getting their take on the best releases of the year. For 2016, we’ve looked closer to home – those who’ve contributed to the site itself and been influential in such a prosperous 12 months!
In the lead up to 2017, Birthday Cake For Breakfast will feature Top 5’s from our contributors. Take it away, Nick…

5: Childish Gambino – Awaken my Love (Glassnote Records)

It’s going to be said a THRILLION (new term, invented by me) times in the next few weeks, however 2016 was a total SHITFEST for awful news about musicians/artists. It was a fucking revelation to hear Donald Glover’s latest musical output on an off chance. The perfect mix of super universal funk, it lifts off from Parliament/Funkadelic, but puts the nu-soul spin of Thundercat on itself. It’s unashamed, unabashed, rough in places, certainly not perfect (by any stretch) but it has FEELING, and in that funksould vibe, that means so, so much.”

4: Strobes – Brokespeak (Blood And Biscuits)
“AT LEAST two years in the making. I’ve traveled the length of the country to see this band ONCE. Equal parts breakbeat, hip hop, funk, jazz, and math-rock. Featuring Matt Calvert of TTT fame, but not in any way playing on this fact. The low key release of ‘Brokespeak’ has all but been ignored by the math-rock fraternity for reasons unknown. It’s a masterclass in genre fusion, and understated technical proficiency on instruments. There are layers here you won’t find until the 30th listen. Well recommended and best heard in the flesh.

3: Mono/PolyCryptic
After dropping the sprawling and expansive ‘Golden Skies‘, you could have forgiven Mono/Poly for just slapping his name to any old ambient hip hop shit and cashing in on the Brainfeeder label notoriety, because when you get touched by the golden hand of Flying Lotus you’re set for life in the underground hip-hop-electronic scene….right? It was as if he’d told himself to fuck all that shit and go back to his roots. Drop all the hype bollocks, and create a brilliant (mostly) instrumental hip hop record AND keep it under 30 minutes.. No mean feat, but achieved in full. We get a tonne of early-DJ Shadow-esque sampling, mixed with weird Blaxploitation/70s sci-fi synth. J Dilla scatty beats aside, it’s a masterclass in an artist never resting on their laurels. Pushing themselves to respect their age old influences but expanding that vocabulary from which they draw.

2: Black Peaks – Statues (Easy Life Records)
I’ll be absolutely honest, I did not give a flying fuck about these guys until I was ordered to go watch them at 2000 Trees. Suffice to say, I’m a convert. Equal measures that sort of screamy, Converge-like riffery, and technically proficient drum wizardry. You can’t help listen to ‘Statues’ without being blown away. It must be consumed via the whole of the body – in a live situation – to be fully appreciated, but fuck me is it a blinding effort.”

1: Cult of Luna/Julie Christmas – Mariner (Indie Recordings)
It’s rare (these days anyway) that you find an album that makes you both re-evaluate a band’s output and go searching for a newly discovered artist. However ‘The Wreck of S.S Needle’ as a singular track did this for moi. I’ve never been the biggest fan of post-metal and have been a respectful admirer of Cult of Luna, however this one track convinced me I was a bit wrong, thanks to the addition of Julie Christmas. The blood curdling, throat wrenching screams swaying back and forth into emotional siren song from Julie have added layers of emotion and depth that i’d previously missed from C.O.L. Mix this in with the Blade Runner style synths, and a lush audio production makes for a claustrophobic, future facing, brand of post-metal that I’d not seen before. Like Aliens Vs Blade Runner, via post-metal. Such a perfect amalgamation of the best aspects of all of its feeder influences.”

Honourable mentions/I need to give them more time:
Helms AleeStillicide (It only came out recently; I’ve not had time to absorb it fully, but what I have heard is fucking mint)
Cleft Wrong (I always say Cleft are good, but this was a bittersweet album for me. Improving infinitely in production and songwriting from ‘Bosh!’ but still a fucking swansong. Ultimately, it’s probably the best album of 2016, but it has too much of an emotional charge for me to be truly objective, so i’ve abstained from including it in the list ‘proper’, because I’m too invested in it. Plus ATG 2016….FUCK OFF IF YOU WERENT THERE)
Meshuggah – The Violent Sleep Of Reason (AGAIN, another that I’ve listened to a BIT but need to fully ingest. Superb boundary busting progressive, but not prog, music)”

Listen to the sounds of 2016 for Birthday Cake For Breakfast in our jam-packed Spotify playlist!

Like what you see? Why not stick around and check out the other articles and interviews!
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