Review: It's been four years since Is It Balearic? dons Coyote last graced our faces with an album. As you'd expect from two learned heads at the helm of such a musically rich label, their own offerings are brimming with laconic grooves and heady instrumentation, ranging from the pastoral patter of "Shimmer Dub" to the folky flex of "Ranura De Marihuana". For the most part there's a steady beat driving the loping basslines and reverbed keys, but there's also space for more ambient excursions too. "Sun Culture" is a beautiful, meditative piece to drift away to before we slip back into some more pronounced funkers to close out the B side.
Review: Here's a record perfectly suited to the Emotional Rescue sphere. International Noise Orchestra was born out of a collaboration between Berliner Ulrich Homberg and Algerian drummer Jol Allouche, first embarked on in the 1980s when they sought to combine 'new technology with old'. The results are wonderfully vibrant, evocative of the era but also packed with open-ended experimentation that sounds fresh more than 30 years later. There's a push and pull between the collaborating parties, but the frisson between cultures and methods is where this record gets its unique groove from, all delivered with a slick 80s cool it's hard to resist.
Review: Green Gartside is the Welsh frontman of cult band Scritti Polltti, here in solo mode on Rough Trade His latest 7" finally gets a release after various delays and on it are two covers of songs originally recorded by Anne Briggs, who is often regarded as one of the great British folk singers. The originals came out in 1971 on Briggs album The Time Has Come (and has also been re-released this year). In the hands of the so-called brainiest man in pop they become fresh propositions with interesting new perspectives.
Review: On its initial release in 2003, Ulrich Schnauss' second album "A Strangely Isolated Place" caused something of a stir, with many critics naming it amongst their highlights of the year. Listening back to this freshly remastered edition, it's easy to see why. It was the first time that Schnauss really nailed his now trademark sound, mixing ultra-bright, life-affirming electronic melodies with stirring ambient chords, gentle (but often distorted) beats, jangling guitars, audible nods towards shoegaze and warm basslines that drive the tracks forward. To our ears "A Strangely Isolated Place" remains his strongest album and thanks to Schnauss' smart re-mastering work, it has never sounded better.
Review: Ulrich Schnauss' re-mastered reissue series continues with a fresh edition of 2007 set "Goodbye", an album that saw him incorporate guitars and vocals for the very first time. Of course, these aren't standard guitars, and the 12 tracks stretched out across the CD draw more influence from the Cocteau Twins and Seefeel than they do rock or indie-pop records. By combining these glistening guitar sounds with his usual gorgeous synthesizers, ambient chords and gentle electronic beats, Schnauss delivered an album that was notably different from its lauded predecessors while still remaining in the same sonic ballpark. While it received mixed reviews at the time, "Goodbye" remains a gorgeous and largely life-affirming set that's well worth further investigation (especially now it sounds better than ever due to some fine re-mastering work).
The Kiwi Animal - "Woman & Man Have Balance" (3:21)
Rupert - "Soul Brothers" (3:50)
Stiff Herbert - "I Could Hit The Ceiling" (2:18)
Drone - "Nothing Dominant" (4:06)
Norma O'Malley - "Some Tame Gazelle" (1:45)
Headless Chickens - "Throwback" (3:16)
Blam Blam Blam - "Respect" (3:42)
Roger Knox - "Whole Weird World" (3:42)
Ludvigson & Gash - "Uallang Jnr" (3:35)
Ballare - "Dancing" (3:30)
Review: Here comes a fascinating collection of odd pop, world music, folk and experimental sounds from Starngelove. It is a personal inventory of music from 1980's New Zealand and hums with strange spirits, nocturnal voodoo and shamanistic melancholia that channels South Pacific magic into 11 hugely otherworldly tracks. There are avant-gard artists like Drone & Kim Blackburn, wave tinged disco cuts from Blam Blam Blam and proto-electro jams from Ludvigson & Gash and their "Uallang Jnr". Stiff Herbert offers a hugely catchy earworm, while Rupert's "Soul Brothers" is a warm, enchanting take on soul music. As far as musical adventures go, few are finer than this one.
Review: The translated title of this record from The Architect is "beach on the moon" and is a perfect way of describing the otherworldly balearic music that defines it. It is a truly widescreen affair that takes in a myriad of styles. Gently tumbling comedown drums overlaid with spoken word snippets, dreamy pads that drift off to an infinite horizon, and even some spaced out trap on "Run" feat. Raverie all make it a journeying album right from the off. Then there's also some contemporary folk, golden era hip hop and darker trip hop styles with further gets who lend lyrical wit to the well produced tunes.
Review: For the final part of his epic reissue series, Ulrich Schnauss has taken the chance to re-master and refresh 2016 set "No Further Ahead Than Today", which is now known as "No Further Ahead Than Tomorrow". As with its predecessors, the freshly polished set sounds gorgeous, with Schnauss adding extra sparkle to such positive and life-affirming downtempo gems as "Melts Into Air", the wall-of-sound shuffle of "The Magic In You", the undulating, morning-fresh ambient techno bliss of "New Day Starts At Dawn" and "Negative Sunrise", where Steve Reich style melodic refrains and Pat Metheny guitars vie for sound space alongside chiming melodies, crunchy beats and grandiose, enveloping synthesizer motifs. Even by Schnauss' standards, it's a big-sounding album, but that's certainly no bad thing.
Review: Some seven years after delivering his debut single, The Architect (the production alias of sometime French hip-hop scene stalwart DJ Mongkut) has finally finished his debut album. Inspired by the twin attractions of lazy aftetnoons on the beach and the cosmic potential of space travel, "Une Plage Sur La Lune" (a beach on the moon for those not versed in French) is variously psychedelic, deep, drowsy, hazy and surprisingly funky. It draws on the producers various inspirations - jazz, hip-hop, funk, trip-hop and, to a lesser-extent, reggae - to deliver a suite of vocal and instrumental tracks that recall the classic downtempo works of DJ Cam, Aim, Rae & Christian and Guru's Jazzamatazz project.
Review: For its second release, Climate of Fear proudly presents "So Nice," the debut LP from Soft Boi aka Pessimist aka Kristian Jabs. Following 2019's sludge-crawl collab with Karim Maas and the eco-hellscape new age of Boreal Massif's "We All Have An Impact," Jabs turns his attention to a new nightmare: dating.
Review: The brotherly duo known as Woo's latest mini album is a rare, previously unreleased piece of music that takes you on a widescreen trip to the cosmos. It is a series of dynamic ambient electronic pieces that unfold with a sense of journeying narrative, nebulous synths and astral pads that active your brain as well as your body. It is soundtrack music for lovers and loners thanks to the fusion of contemplative moments and more romantic vibes, with cinematic references next to subtle dance floor joints. This might have been recorded way back in the 70s and 80s but still sounds utterly fresh today.
Review: Five years on from their last full-length excursion, Darkstar return with "Civic Jams", a socio-politically charged set that Warp says was influenced by two decidedly disparate musical inspirations: the opaque, slowly shfiting sonic density pf shoegaze, and 30 years of the British bass music continuum. In practice, that means a striking fusion of tactile vocals, drowsy electronics, wall-of-sound chords and crunchy, off-kilter rhythms that tip a wink to hip-hop, grime, dubstep, breakbeat and more, while never sounding specifically like any of them. It's not a club-focused set, but it an undeniably impactful one, primarily because its inherent bittersweet beauty and weary melancholia seems in tune with these unusual, claustrophobic times.
Review: It may be his umpteenth studio album, but "Domesticated" feels like Sebastien Tellier's "comeback" set- a feeling enhanced by the genuine sparsity of material from the swooning Frenchman in recent years. He says his aim while recording the set was to create a "new lush, futuristic pop sound", and to a degree he has succeeded. Variously informed by warm ambient, vividly coloured future R&B, downtempo synth-pop, Balearica, '80s synth-pop and the deeper end of the electrofunk spectrum, the resultant songs are immersive, comforting and undeniably warming. While it's perhaps not cutting edge in the way he intended, it's wonderfully polished, slick and entertaining, with Tellier's distinctive drawl remaining the focal point throughout.