Brighton Magazine

The Brighton Magazine

Selected Brighton Magazine Article

Tuesday 12 May 2020

Check Masses Surf A Psychedelic Nocturnal Fever Dream On New Album Nightlife

Check Masses forthcoming album Nightlife flits between the shadows, smudging the lines between cinematic hip-hop collages, expansive dub, wiry electronics, psychedelia and Lynchian unease. This Nightlife isn't chrome-finished bars and a taxi home by 1am, but a collection of stories tossing and turning in a nocturnal fever dream, offset by moments of sublime escapism.
Credit Laura Meek

Singer 'Philly' Angelo Collins, multi-instrumentalist Vic Galloway and producer Saleem Andrew McGroarty each railed against the "crassness of the mainstream disco pop culture" as teenagers in Edinburgh. 

Vic was in garage-punk bands with a love of underground rock'n'roll, soul, ska and reggae, while separately old pals Philly and Andy were into a "more cultivated music scene that revolved around black music." 

Philly recalls being 'othered' by the mainstream crowds: "Us being the freaks and them in their Burton suits and stilettos, dancing round handbags."

So when Check Masses explore the nightlife history of their home city on the album title track, they veer away from any rose-tinted revisionism. 

It's "relationships, temptation, paranoia and the fall-out from them all, both good and bad", says Galloway.

 And even though it's "the most overtly 'funky' song on the album", with a "stripped-back P-funk kinda vibe", that comedown, outsider feeling still permeates. 

From kicking out time in Edinburgh to an early-hours wander through North African streets, Moroccan Skies "recounts a dark night of the soul." 

It's Philly's account of crash-landing after the Gnawa festival in Essaouira, with the singer recalling the euphoria of feeling a "oneness being surrounded by black people and African culture", "but when everybody started to go home, the dogs started to come out and the grittiness of the streets and the 'darkness' of the night came down upon them." 

The tension weaves through a groggy, twangy hip-hop beat, which Andy nails down as "Dr Dre meets David Lynch."

A pioneer of the Edinburgh's hip-hop scene, after launching the city's very first hip-hop club The Big Payback, Andy's head and hard drive is crammed with beats and samples waiting for their moment. 

"Moroccan Skies was an instrumental that had been sitting around for years. 

"I had given it to a few rappers but none of them ever came back to me… I stuck it in the pot and it was one of the tunes we were really stoked with straight away."

More often, though, Nightlife, which is released on 1st July 2020,  is teeming with skewed thoughts and stories that only come out when the sun goes down — whether that's faded club stamps, neon-lit explorations, insomniac reruns of past lives or simply gazing at the moon.

by: Mike Cobley

Related links

Check Masses


Miss Represented, Brighton Dome's award winning creative learning project, has received a grant of £44,200 from the Youth Endowment Fund to support young women in Brighton & Hove.

United We Stream Brighton continues to showcase some of the city's best local artists and venues to help raise money for local charities and to keep the city's nightlife alive.

Taking place at the British Airways i360 venue on Brighton's beachfront, the award-winning Brighton Music Conference is set to return to the city this coming autumn.
Credit Olivia Rose

Mercury Prize 2020 shortlisted Kiwanuka looks inward and out, across widescreen sonic landscapes constructed in recording studios in London, Los Angeles and New York, and provides a showcase for the honey-poured mahogany of Michael Kiwanuka's voice.
Credit Phoebe Wingrove

Displayed across the suburbs of Brighton, a new work - A Simple Act of Wonder - by artists Walter & Zoniel celebrates human connection and our experiences of joy in unprecedented times.

An ambitious vision to help boost nature and drive a green economic recovery has been unveiled by the South Downs National Park Authority and partners.

A Virtue is the new single from Popcorn Fiend, and the second track to be lifted from the Scottish musician's debut album Distance, which occupies a space somewhere between the industrial rock of Nine Inch Nails and the melodic synth-pop of Chvrches.
Credit Alberta Whittle

Photoworks Festival is the reshaping of one of the UK's longest running photography festivals - Brighton Photo Biennial - and is an idea developed by Shoair Mavlian, Director, Photoworks, which asks what a photography festival can be and who they are for. 

Blake Auden is a writer, poet and graphic artist living in Hove. Inspired by his love for war poetry as a child, Blake's debut collection Tell the Birds She's Gone has sold out twice and has gained an ever-growing fan base of over 90,000 people.

Oska Bright Film Festival, the world's leading learning disability film festival based in Brighton, takes its programme to the small screen with Oska Bites, regular programmes of award-winning short films.

Bastille's new song, which features Blur guitarist Graham Coxon, might feel like a bit of a surprise release, not least to the band themselves, but as frontman Dan Smith says: “We finished the song and it felt urgent. We didn't want to sit on it.”

Quintet Junodream are drawing on a wider palette of sounds for new single Easy Life, with post-rock and modern prog blending into their expansive mix of shoegaze and psychedelia. 
Credit Jack McKain

Bedroom soul artist cehryl came to the United States from her native Hong Kong to attend Berklee College of Music in Boston and post-college found herself in Los Angeles forming a tight-knit scene with friends Zack Villere, Mulherin, Dijon, Alex Szotak and Soft Glas.

Brighton-based singer-songwriter and all-round alt-pop fireball Oz's debut single Money is a statement-of-intent, an uncompromising synthesis of Garbage's dark-hued rock/electronica crossover with the bass-heavy zest of contemporary alt-pop. 

Archive search

Search our archives for what's on and gone for the best of this city's theatre music comedy news and much more...

Organising a conference or event in Brighton?
See our Brighton Conference section.
Brighton web design by ...ntd