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Latest reviews

Nils Frahm - Old Friends New Friends
Trying to keep up with Nils Frahm's discography is nothing short of dizzying. We struggle to think of anyone who can put out so many long form albums without letting the quality suffer a little, yet the German composer seems to be incapable of doing anything other than the finest quality work, laying claim to a back catalogue of piano tracks which can be sad, reflective, poignant, innovative, captivating, or euphoric, and always impossible to forget. He's done so much, in fact, that he's still unearthing parts of his oeuvre people haven't really heard before. As is the case here. Old New Friends is as fitting a title as they get, with everything here first recorded between 2009 and this year, representing what the artist describes as "an anatomy of all my ways of thinking musically and playing." Simply put, if you like even just a little of what you've heard before, this is essential.
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Valentina Goncharova - Recordings 1987-1991 Vol 2
According to what has been written on Valentina Goncharova, the Ukrainian experimental artist's career trajectory followed a similar path to many involved in the rather vaguely named, loosely associated 'new music movement' of the 20th Century. Born in Kyiv, she would spend her early years immersed in the study of classical sounds approved by the Soviet state, moving to Leningrad (St. Petersburg) at the age of 16. Already an expert violinist and garnering a reputation as a lauded street musician, she would soon begin exploring alternative playing styles, often working with pianists to realise avant garde arrangements. Soon finding influences from free jazz and abstract rock scenes in the city, this collection of her work shows just how wild things got in terms of form. In moments, it feels like you've landed on another planet in a scene from the first series of Star Trek, other instances are pure serene beauty. All of it is absolutely mind-blowing.
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U makes his 7" debut for Where To Now, and offers a great example of why the MPC machine should never be limited to MPC-sounding beats. It's a versatile instrument in the right hands, and there's no question in our minds that the producer in question here has the right hands. Offering three snapshots of a mind evidently packed with far-reaching, varied ideas, the musicality is surprising considering the process and the concepts at play utterly breathtaking. From '2 Good 4 Me''s manipulated-yet-deep drum patterns, reversing in and out in a playful way while being cast in the dim light of a rainy, moody overhead arrangement, to the stepping, shuffle-inducing 'Almost Man', and its jazz-infused, candlelit vocal sections, this is quite possibly the most sophisticated electronic music you'll hear in some time.
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Nobody could accuse Spanish producer JASSS of being backwards and coming forwards on this, her Ostgut Ton debut. The Berlin-based label, Berghain's recorded outlet, usually conjures sonic images in line with the stereotypical soundtrack of the club's main hall, but anyone who has spent a reasonable amount of time in the imprint's back catalogue will know that's a reductive assumption. The crew regularly veer into all kinds of leftfield electronic avenues. Even so, JASSS' arrival marks one of the wildest rides this platform has ever offered listeners. From the resoundingly emotional and joyous opening wide bands of synth, 'Birds You Can Name', to the euphoric industrialism of 'Busto' and the operatic, neo-tropical pop of 'A World of Service', this is benchmark-setting curveball stuff we cannot get enough of.
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Calvin "Popcorn" Ward is one of those legendary musical figures form time gone by. He put out just one album and a couple of Eps, but they were good enough to secure him an enduring elegy with funk and soul fans. His Prime Choice album came on Shanell in 1983 and the one copy currently for sale on second-hand sites is over 630 quid. Thankfully Mad About has assembled this heavyweight reissue. Sentimental soul, analogue disco and lo-fi funk all characterise each tune, as does Calvin's own vocals which range from upbeat and positive to heartbroken and raw. A real gem.
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Fuga Ronto - Greatest Treasure
A relatively new duo consisting of Zurich musicians Schweizer and Shiller, Fuga Ronto's original music is the epitome of what new music heads know as 'balearic chuggers' - or 'bluggers', as we like to call them. With elements of synthfunk, dub and new wave, standouts from this sweat-glazed, beachside-worthy mini-album include 'Falling Star' and 'Wobble In The Pool', throwing all manner of domestic samples and adventure film quotes into the mix for good measure. Nailing fusions between song and film - resulting in the sonic equivalent to an exotic voodoo voyage - each track title reads like the name of a forgotten B-movie. Now you can snaffle up the first press of this slap-bassing, multilingual dance project on limited black vinyl.
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