Stubborn Heart’s post-dubstep and Imaginary Family’s pretty storytelling


When you search for Ratking on Wikipedia, you find a bunch of things: it’s a folktale about rats whose tails grow together and spread the plague, it’s a character in the movie The Penguins of Madagascar – heck, there’s even a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turle called Ratking. What Wikipedia forgets to mention, however, is that Ratking is also the name of a hip-hop crew from the depths of New York. The crew currently consists of four members: Wiki, Hak, Ramon and producer Sporting Life and they recently signed to XL-imprint Hot Charity, thus joining the roster alongside post-blues crooner Willis Earl Beal. Last week, the crew’s debut EP Wiki93 was released – it’s actually a re-release of member Wiki’s EP which he uploaded to his Bandcamp earlier this year (though you won’t find it there anymore), which eventually led to the entire crew signing a deal with Hot Charity. Complex have done an insight piece on Wiki and its history, and call his EP “nothing short of excellent”. It’s an energetic brew of 90’s inspired beats topped with some well-written rhymes; basically, a formula for success.

Stubborn Heart

SBTRKT and James Blake are just some of the first producers to break through with this modern, electronic sound that has been referred to by many as “post-dubstep.” People were intrigued by it and started paying a lot more attention to producers, which resulted in a bunch of them receiving a lot more recognition. It also inspired others to make music of their own in this so-called genre. Stubborn Heart, the duo compromised of Luca Santucci & Ben Fitzgerald and formed in 2010, are one of them. One Little Indian (home to Björk) heard their early demos and signed them, which eventually led to the long-awaited self-titled debut album that was released last week. On “Stubborn Heart”, the duo mixes a 2012-electronica with a soft touch and a high falsetto – you can dance to it if you want to, but there’s a “pretty” aspect to the music as well. Album closer “Need Someone” lasts over 5 minutes but covers everything in between “listening” and “dancing” music. The rest of the album contains more of these well-produced electronics with plenty of highlights – you don’t want to miss out on it. The Guardian calls it “Hurts meet Skrillex” – we don’t completely get the comparison, but there’s definitely something of both to be found in Stubborn Heart.

Imaginary Family

Imaginary Family is the moniker of the 20-something Joanna Isselé, a young lady born in the French Alps but currently more at home in Ghent. Her mum got her a guitar for her 23rd birthday; a right-handed one, even though she’s left-handed herself. Because she was very happy with it and really wanted to play, she taught herself to play it upside down. Her sound is a very charming, story-telling kind of romantic folk. Joanna Newsom plays 10-minute songs in which she tells stories, and Imaginary Family is basically the lite-version of her: far less orchestral, yet very imaginative and pretty. Respected blogger Yvynyl is reminded of Mariee Sioux and calls EP opener “The Bird Watcher” “lovely.” Her 5-track debut EP “Hidden” (out now on the Belgian label Unday) is the kind of 10″ we put on our vinyl player around this time of year while we dive into our couches with a blanket and a hot cacao (or stronger).