Ivan Ave & Mndsgn play an experimental hip-hop set at Electric Circus as part of their European tour. The two support acts are both home-grown talents from Edinburgh: Cracked Hands give a cut-up, eerie, electronic ambience with vocals somewhere between Björk and Grimes, while Haptics (Jack Elliot) muses about how he has always wanted to be on Steve Wright’s Sunday Love Songs and shares his frustration over faulty Windows computers. Chatty as he comes to the small stage, Elliot fumbles through new songs and random anecdotes, giving a mixture of soft guitar ditties as well as spoken word over a fast electronic backdrop.
A member of Oslo-based collective mutual intentions, and signed to Jakarta Records (including Ta-Ku, Kaytranada, L’Orange), Ivan Ave is a young, excitable addition to lyrical hip-hop and rap. He comes on stage first, introducing his new Helping Hands LP, produced by Mndsgn. He mixes up old and new materoal, including Low Jams’ EP track ‘Toast’, with its jazzy, acid hip-hop feel. The intimate setting at the Electric Circus allows for an almost conversational feel among the audience; Ivan Ave reaches over the stage between verses to clink glasses with whomever is at the front, breaking off with a laugh and picking up the beat again. It is hard for the audience not to appreciate his showmanship, evidently enjoying the set as much as they are.
Representing the underground hip-hop label Stones Throw, Ringgo Ancheta, aka Mndsgn (pronounced ‘Mind Design’) comes to the fore with tracks such as ‘Camelblues’ (also covered by DJ Koze in his 2015 DJ-Kicks edition). Mndsgn represents only some of the exciting new talent coming out of Stones Throw, made famous by J Dilla, Madlib and Peanut Butter Wolf, among others. His introduction, to hip-hop begs one to believe it was predestined: having fled from the Philippines and raised without electricity in a remote part of New Jersey, Ancheta recounts a trip to Philadelphia: “The first guy I met on the street introduced me to the world of music and beat making. Within a day I was making my own beats on his sampler.”
On the night it is not hard to notice his familiarity behind the keys, creating the soft ripples of an electric organ, and the tinny rasp of a snare. Not one of the duo’s tracks fall flat: the innovative combination of Mndsgn’s slow and simple rhythms and Ivan Ave’s articulated rhymes creates a magnetism with the audience.
Signing off on an improvised loop of ‘Camelblues’, the two invite everyone for a cigarette outside, continuing with the same carefree nature while they chat with people outside as they had on stage: the first thing Ancheta asks the person next to him is how the hell he is meant to pronounce ‘Edinburgh’. Helping Hands is out now.