This week’s best new albums

All the albums you really need to know about this week

ALBUM OF THE WEEK

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Shame – Drunk Tank Pink (Dead Oceans)

Drunk Tank Pink may not be on the Dulux colour chart, but its historical backstory provides a glimpse into the headspace of punk five-piece Shame. Used in the 70s for prison cells, it’s a colour that psychologists suggest using to reduce hostility and aggression. However, for the infamously raucous band, the colour has inspired an introspective album filled with some of their best work to date.

Following 2018’s Songs of Praise, an album which saw post-adolescent angst rage throughout, the new album from the South Londoners sees a new-found maturity. Themes of anxiety and reflection are layered amongst high-octane and thunderous melodies harnessed with the instant fixation on frontman Charlie Sheen’s self-awareness.

Tracks are laced with post-punk undertones and textured with gritty rhythms from drummer Charlie Forbes and luring bass patterns from Josh Finerty. The frenzied ‘Snow Day’ is a chilling listen – an extension of Songs of Praise – while the panicked ‘Born In Luton’ sees an adrenaline rush of guitar lines from Sean Coyle-Smith and Eddie Green. On ‘Human, For A Minute’, Steen appears at his most vulnerable, with the instrumentation wrapping his vocals to protect and soothe, whereas ‘Nigel Hitter’ is punctuated with the mundanity of routine and post-touring existence.

Yet it’s the six-minute-plus album closer ‘Station Wagon’ that produces one of the records best moments. An underlying piano pattern creates a calmness prior to a catastrophic burst of energetic sound – a climatic pulse of anxiety that finishes the record with intent. There’s a clear gear shift in artistic choice for this record – for one, there’s less shouting. Despite trademark abrasive punk traits, there’s also a lightness to this record; an ounce or two of self-consciousness and tenderness. With an influx of ‘post-punk’ bands over the past few years cluttering the genre, Shame continue to stay a cut above the rest.
PS

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Pearl Charles – Magic Mirror (Kanine Records)
With 2021 starting in the same depressing vein as the year that’s just passed, music has become even more important as a tool for escapism. Enter Pearl Charles, the LA singer-songwriter whose hypnotic take on Americana evokes Californian sunshine and the freewheeling spirit of the Laurel Canyon scene. It’s well-trodden ground, with artists like Haim and Jenny Lewis presenting us with similar sounds. But like the legends she’s inspired by, she conjures a beguiling sense of time and place that juxtaposes the misery occupying the world at present.

The transportive quality of Charles’ music carries over onto her new album Magic Mirror. It retains the breeziness, slide guitars and the retro pop-rock sensibilities of her first outing Sleepless Dreamer, but it taps further into its brief flirtations with psychedelia and disco. Unabashed ABBA homage ‘Only For Tonight’ kicks the album off in party mood, with jaunty keys, irresistible slap bass and vocal harmonies that provide equal amounts of euphoria and blissfulness. ‘Don’t Feel Like Myself’ slows things down, but it’s impossible not to get lost in its luminous mix of country twang, elegant strings and its shimmering harpsichord melody.

Good vibes may be the name of the game, but Charles isn’t afraid to get contemplative. She often questions her creative purpose, especially on ‘Slipping Away’, where she deliberates the enduring impact of art on our lives over a ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper’-esque riff. The title track goes deepest of all, a piano ballad that drives home the album’s themes of reflection and growth.

Charles makes no secret of her influences, but it’s all delivered with sincere affection. Magnificently sequenced with beautiful vocals and vibrant production, Magic Mirror is perfect listening for those in need of a ray of positivity during the bleakest of times.
MDW

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Mika Vainio – Last Live (Editions Mego)

Mika Vainio was a Finnish artist who had multiple artist monikers and collaborative projects; most cited is the industrial noise act Pan Sonic. Vainio was loved for crafting original, physical sounds with hardware as opposed to computers and made the sort of dexterous sonic worlds you can inhabit.

The latest posthumous release is titled Last Live as it’s the last ever live recording of the seminal avant-garde producer. Recorded at Cave12 venue in Geneva in February 2017, just two months before he tragically passed away in France, you get to hear four movements that fill two LP’s. It’s an ambient affair but that doesn’t mean it’s easy going; the rich dynamic switches are part of the thrill. Experiencing this music is like going into an unknown jungle with no trodden path. There’s no way of anticipating where the musician will take you which makes for a breath-taking listen. Moreover, the haunting sonic details mean it feels like a giant mural of a darkly-psychedelic fever dream thanks to the whole body impact it has. By the time you’ve come out the other end of this concert, you’re left feeling shook but renewed and revitalised.

The quality of the recording is extraordinary, which is generally not the case with live albums. The level achieved is testament to everything coming off on the night back in 2017: Vainio’s high standards, the quality of modular synth gear he had at his disposal on stage. Plus, the fantastic post-production, which reads as who’s who of leftfield gods. To name a couple, Carl Michael von Hausswolff (yep, Anna von Hausswolff’s dad) mixed it, and Sunn O )))’s Stephen O’Malley did a pre-edit. With this in mind, and the fact the staunchly DIY Vienna-based label Editions Mego and Cave12 label are partnering on releasing it, it all adds up to portray a truly commendable, excellently done tribute to the legend. Hats off to them.
CT

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Sleaford Mods – Spare Ribs (Rough Trade)

Frontman Jason Williamson’s ability to expose the ills of Tory Britain through music continues apace on Sleaford Mods’ sixth album Spare Ribs. The album title is a metaphor for the way he sees the political class treating ordinary people (himself included): expendable, spare ribs. The title track verses feel integral in this regard, highlighting the reality on the high streets: people on spice in smashed bus stops, which is one of the symptoms of austerity.

Brexit, meanwhile (which Williamson has been a longstanding campaigner against) gets an uncensored takedown as he sings the track ‘Out There’: “Let’s get Brexit fucked by a horse’s penis until its misery splits. Ugly rich white men get shagged by it”. Another key theme – and a recurring one in Sleaford Mods’ back catalogue – is the takedown of bad art and social climbing. It’s often seen through the lens of someone getting itchy witnessing disingenuous behaviour in order to be popular: “You’re just a mind that’s saying and playing sod all,” he sings on ‘Nudge It’. Poverty tourists also get a lampooning on this cut, which features Amyl and The Sniffers’ Amy Taylor: “Stood outside a high-rise trying to act like a gangster”.

Instrumentally, Spare Ribs is going to content existing Sleaford Mods fans: simple beats, menacing basslines, dub-y bottom end all gloriously under-produced to bring the listener closer to what it sounds like being in the studio recording live at home, as opposed to a creating an illusion of grandeur. Fitting for a band who are honest with themselves and balk at others’ dishonesty.
CT

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Domenique Dumont – People On Sunday (Soundtrack) (The Leaf Label)

New releases from Latvian project Domenique Dumont are teasingly infrequent. They first charmed their way into our ears with the gorgeous, delicate Comme Ça in 2015, appearing on Parisian label Antinote and sounding to all intents and purposes like a perfect French dream pop curio. Reportedly the line-up has changed over time, and now Arturs Liepins works solo. This new album for Leaf comes in instrumental form.

People On Sunday is a German silent film from the 1930s, which Domenique Dumont was invited to soundtrack for a special screening at the Les Arcs Film Festival in the French Alps in late 2019. With or without the accompanying imagery, People On Sunday paints a beautiful picture that seems to capture the particular spirit embodied in that vague but wholly suggestive title. The Dumont disposition has always been one of wistful idealism, and here you might well be transported to your own lazy day idyll where the sun is perpetually shining, the grass is green and the mood is chipper.

OK, maybe that sounds quite distant from the winter of early 2021, but we can imagine, can’t we? If nothing else, this delightful album can serve as a little dose of romantic escapism, and that’s something we can all get behind.
OW

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Tusken Raiders – Bantha Trax Vol. III (Seagrave)

Of the many aliases Mike Paradinas has graced over the years, Tusken Raiders has to be one of the finest. The Planet Mu boss donned the George Lucas-baiting moniker for the inquisitive broken-beat techno excursion Bantha Trax on Clear back in 1995, but there were just a couple of other releases before he had to shuffle the name up as Rude Ass Tinker to avoid legal woes. The sound has varied over the releases, getting rougher and incorporating more hardcore and drum & bass elements while adhering to Paradinas’ penchant for angular experimentation.

Finally in stock after surfacing late last year, Seagrave gathered together some tracks left over from Paradinas’ sessions for Lunatic Harness (released as µ-Ziq) which seem to fit the Tusken arc and wayward hardcore stylings of the label perfectly. The combination of gnarly overdrive, squashed breaks and weird spatial drops sound shockingly current for pieces mashed out of grubby hardware nearly a quarter of a century ago. As with the best experimental breakbeat of the era, there’s a distinct lack of linearity here as the threads of wanton percussion, lurid bass flex and atmospheric pings meander at will – ‘Raiderz Skank’ is a fine case in point, but don’t mistake them for arty chin strokers. ‘Dystopic’ could tear up a dance with ease – here’s hoping it will some time soon.
OW

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Krust – The Edge Of Everything (Crosstown Rebels)

Bristol D&B don Krust has always treated albums as a deeper consideration than his club 12”s. His debut LP Coded Language was a razor sharp excursion into the creative scope within drum & bass and jungle in the late 90s. The Edge Of Everything takes that premise to a greater degree, reflecting personal development beyond the scene and more complex influences feeding into a work that needs some serious contemplation and absorption. After the initial pressing flew out, Crosstown Rebels are revisiting the album for a run of clear vinyl, and it comes at a good time to start further evaluating the epic scope of this masterstroke of an album.

High drama and a bold narrative arc dictate the flow of The Edge Of Everything, as Krust places his decades of D&B excellence in a cinematic framework that leaves the club behind in pursuit of something more abstract. There are cliffhanger gaps, shocking drops and formidable displays of sound design prowess from the off. For the most part, despite the wild sonics and bold arrangements, it still retains Krust’s sonic DNA, but at the album’s pivotal midpoint, ‘7 Known Truths’, the veteran junglist sounds more daring and inspired than ever before. Don’t pass up the chance to immerse yourself in this frankly astounding piece of art.
OW

Cinema
Cinema – Cinema (Nada Nada Discos)
In 1985, Brazil broke free from its nearly 20-year military dictatorship, ending the mass-censorship of media. Despite the regime’s rampant nationalism and torturing, the period saw a rise in economic growth (the “Brazilian Miracle”) from 1970. By the end, there was enough freedom and prosperity to cultivate a burgeoning underground avant-garde music scene.

Twenty years is a long time, enough for an album like Cinema collective’s self-titled LP to emerge. The group consisted of four mavericks – Alex Meirelles, Annabel Albernaz, Tetê Sá, and Ro Tapajós. if you look at Tapajós’ discography, you’ll notice a very not-coincidental 12-year gap in it, within the regime’s most brutal period from 1968 until c.1980. One of his last releases before this period, ‘O Gigante’, criticised how “square” it all was.

Now, obscure São Paulo punk label Nada Nada Discos has reissued the album. Undercutting the gargantuan resale value of the original pressing, they’ve recreated its former glory by remaking the cover and including new interviews from the collective.

The tunes form a crowning achievement in contemporary regional music, having been arguably the first to blend traditional, percussive Afro-Brazilian styles with electronics and synthesised elements. It plays back like the soundtrack to a forgotten arthouse movie, beginning with foggy vocal collages and synthscapes like ‘Falando Alto’ and ‘A Lua, As Estrelas’, before revealing a distinct darkwave cum dream pop sound. Cuts like ‘Ciência’ and ‘Sem Teto’ alternate between uptempo and reflective moods, but never force them out of the album’s surreal haze.

Most tracks sound like they’re being performed in a half-remembered concert hall. Breaking from this, though, closer ‘SP5 4R’ is a synthy detour, consisting of nothing more than a catchy lead melody which occasionally pitch-warps into an uncanny version of the original sound; it’s like the lost, lonesome shade of an ‘80s new wave hit. True to the name, no track on Cinema would sound out of place as diegetic music in a new Lynchian masterwork.
JIJ

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Helium – The Works EP: Original And Unreleased Mixes Bundle (Kalahari Oyster Cult)

Kalahari Oyster Cult has been one of the most active house labels over the past half-decade, releasing no end of aquatic bubblers and skittish cuts from the likes of Nathan Melja, Roza Terenzi and Urulu. They also occasionally function as a reissue label, having re-released ‘90s classics by the likes of DJ Trance and Tapp.

No matter their focus, though – whether they’re putting out a tried and true classic from a 50-something-year-old, or something clean and meticulous from a fresh-faced youngster – KOC’s music always has a particularly tricky, light-hearted feel. When listening, you’ll only ever emote in one of two ways: you’re either floating on clouds, or dipping your toes into mermaids’ waters.

Now, they continue their year – yes, we’re only two weeks into 2021 and this only one of two releases they’ve announced so far – with a stonking, three-part reissue of YouTube alogrithm cult find ‘The Works’. The EP was originally a one-off trance-house excursion from 1993 by Mon ‘S Jegers and Rob Verboven, together known as Helium. An outstanding achievement, KOC have not only remastered this odd, flute-laden rarity of an EP, but have also unearthed some until-now unheard remixes of the tracks.

Proving their infectious appeal isn’t just down to crackly vinyl ‘warmth’, the old tracks sound incredible in their remastered form in both digital and vinyl formats. The new remixes, too, take us one layer below – from dream, to dreamer dream-within-a-dream – with new vocal-packed versions of ’Try Me’ and ‘Out There’, as well as a guided meditation-style spoken word version of the ambient piece ‘Clouds’. The exclusives set KOC apart; not many reissues come with this level of effort and love poured into them.
JIJ

After a successful 2020 – with beautiful releases from Nashpaints and lastminuteman – mostly-cassette Dublin label Wherethetimegoes returns with a self-titled debut LP from mysterious act Frog Of Earth. Not much is known about the artist, only that they are a designer, DJ and producer associated with the DIY art collective Repeater, and that they make stunning ambient new age music.
JIJ

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Frog Of Earth – Frog Of Earth (Wherethetimegoes)

‘Frog Of Earth’ is an electronic concept album about a humble Frog. On ‘Lying Down’, our amphibian friend awakens from an innocent, primal slumber, to the tune of dripping rain and whacked-out minimalist tones. It hops about, carelessly frolicking to folk highlands ditties like ‘Means’, and meeting fellow animals of its kind on ‘Newt Dub’. By the time the album reaches ‘Settle For Less’, the Frog finds itself in total childish equanimity with the world, its satisfaction paralleled by nothing but the sheer crispness of this zither-laden theme tune.

Shortly afterwards, though, the Frog encounters some tribulations which force it to question its purpose in the world. It witnesses a freight train zoom by, and is thereafter struck and burdened by faint existential questions like ‘how?’ and ‘why?’. We reach ‘OH SEY UM’, which pushes into a strange mood with its trembling dancehall, mournful calls and paradisiacal bird squawks. ‘Salamander Dub’ is likewise a particularly heavy pit of darkness, a dubby sloshing of chords peppered by nothing else but the occasional sound of an alien rainmaker; the Frog wallows in the swampy ditch of depression the track has dug.

But, hark: as the album nears its end, the bad spell passes. The Frog – after being helplessly bustled about, and having been visited by an angel in the form of a bee – lets go of its absurd musings and fussy ribbits. We feel this sense of rejuvenation on ‘The Mouth’, a triumphant proto-grime coda on which cinematic, divine pads judder into the mix like sudden, relieving realisations. The final track, ‘Settle For Less (Ned’s VIP)’, is a mature reflection on the first version of the track, letting go of its zither but still marking the Frog’s return to its former chill. A protean album with glorious ambition.
JIJ

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Wondering O – 0° Heaven’s Trumpet

Wondering O is the brainchild of Mihkel Tomberg, a versatile, experimental electronic musician who has multiple projects on the go at any one time. From what we’ve been introduced to so far, the music under his noise/drone alter ego Ranchman Tiara, and uplifting trance moniker mariana trench is brilliant. Moreover, he’s in a duo called Algorütmid and in the Estonian Electronic Music Society, where he performs electronic music from graphic scores.

The musician studied composition at the Estonian Academy of Music in Tallinn, where his hero composer Arvo Pärt studied, which was fruitful in getting him off the ground. He now operates in a studio a stone’s throw from his old campus and runs his own indie label Heaven’s Trumpet from there, too.
What this musician’s achieved with 0° is nothing short of a miracle. This, the fifth album as Wondering O, is an achingly beautiful piano-led affair full of sonic manipulation. The arrangements on the album are generally sparse and played at a slow tempo offering space for contemplation. Each sound in there is a masterpiece. Whether it’s one touch of the piano or the atmospheric textures floating around the lead instrument, you can’t help but think ‘how did he get it to sound that good?’ A note on his Soundcloud goes some way to unveiling his magic, stating: “Recordings are sprinkled with wavefolder and FFT manipulation for diamond density.”

For all the ideas and techniques shown, Tomberg’s ability to self-edit is strong as the album is lean at just over half an hour, and captivating throughout. Tomberg’s ability to weave in hard-edged, ominous sounds in conjunction with more plaintive, thoughtful progressions keeps things dynamic. Some thoroughly deep tones are worth plugging in your best audio gear to immerse in, too. 0° would be best heard in the blistering midday sun whilst sitting at the foot of an ambient stage at a festival, or any time at home. Heck, just put it on repeat all day and enjoy discovering nooks and crannies you didn’t hear on first listen. You won’t regret it.
CT

This week’s house of reviewing representatives: Paige Sims, Cai Trefor, Matthew D Watkin, Jude Iago James, Oli Warwick, Ben Willmott.

This week’s best new albums

All the best albums this week, selected and assessed by Juno’s elite reviewing ninjas
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This week’s best new albums reviewed

Coil’s industrial noir leads the parade of great albums this week, as decided by the Juno jury…

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Coil – Musick To Play In The Dark (Dais)

There are musical artists whose body of work is so imperious it becomes a genre unto itself. Coil are undoubtedly one of those phenomena, with an alluring cult lingering around their entire oeuvre that leaves an indelible stain on anyone it touches.

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The best of this week’s albums

The cream of this week’s albums, as personally recommended by Juno’s crack reviews squad

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The Avalanches – We Will Always Love You (Universal)
Genre-bending is par for the course in 2020, but none have done it with as much originality as The Avalanches.

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Benjamin Brunn – Plastic Album

With a consistent, unflashy approach to presenting his craft, it can sometimes be easy to overlook Benjamin Brunn. The Hamburg-based producer has been releasing music for the best part of 20 years, although it is primarily since his collaborative work with Move D around 2008 that he has been more publicly visible, and yet he remains something of an outsider proposition. Musically, his is an easy confection to love, dealing in well-rounded, melodically rich electronics with an understanding of groove and enough kinks in the composition to hold your attention. 2012’s A Sun Life LP on Third Ear served as a perfect distillation of these qualities, sporting as it did a warming balance of techno and house laden with plush synth lines.

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NGLY – Cities of Illusion

Argentinean producer Sidney Reilly made his debut as NGLY back in 2014 with a four-track white 12″ as part of the White Label division of Ron Morelli’s L.I.E.S. that contained the brilliant “Speechless Tape”. With its ponderous vocals and raw, jacking groove, it brilliantly re-configured the soulful iterations of early Chicago house. It’s no surprise that it captured the imagination of many underground DJs and resulted in NGLY’S debut becoming a much sought-after record and getting a subsequent re-edition on L.I.E.S.

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RVDS – Shadows

How many different ways can a traditional box jam set up be approached? Considering the limits of hardware production and the instantly recognisable sounds that the most popular units yield, it’s a wonder that artists continue to find ways to express themselves in a unique manner when using vintage kit. Reaching for classic sounds can be a divisive creative choice when scores of producers have already covered the same ground, but therein lies the talent of some musicians in making the familiar sound fresh and satisfying on the ears. To be fair to Rupert von der Schulenburg, he has been involved in music since the ‘80s and so any predilection towards old-skool sounds is at the very least based on years of experience rather than contrived retro-fetishism.

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The Smoke Clears – The Smoke Clears

The Smoke Clears is a project from Irish producer John Daly which debuted back in late 2013 with the album. Clear, for Seattle outpost Further Records. Better known for his house releases, this second album from Daly as The Smoke Clears sees him explore an ambient/downtempo approach that is every bit as impressive as his dancefloor material. The timing and look of the release has been perfectly planned; All City has scheduled it for mid-September, a period when the summer starts to give way to autumn. Fittingly, the cover features a brown forest set against a dusky sky.

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Alpha 606 – Afro-Cuban Electronics

Armando Martinez is one the first electronic music producers to explore overtly political themes. Until now, the form’s most memorable articulations of this topic have tended towards the abstract and have included UR’s call to the oppressed to revolt, Drexciya’s hope that the experience of their forefathers provided inspiration for change and the more general concern expressed in electro records that the machines are taking over.

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VC-118A – Shift Register

Much has changed in the four years since Samuel van Dijk unveiled his debut album under the VC-118 alias, the Lunar Disko-released International Airlines. While Britain, in particular, basked in the feel-good glow of the London Olympics, the Dutch producer’s dark, paranoid and intoxicating blends of razor-sharp electro, pitch-black techno, dubbed-out soundscapes and ghostly IDM seemed out-of-step with the prevailing mood. Since then, the winds of change have blown through Europe, the Middle East and the United States, and van Dijk’s undeniably bittersweet music suddenly feels in step with our troubling times.

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Project STS – Hubble Telescope Series Volume III

The third and final instalment of the Hubble Telescope series features The Exaltics and Gerald Donald collaborating on music that is supposedly dedicated to the scientists working at NASA and the ESA. Whether or not the men and women of science in these respective institutions kick back to abstract electro in their spare time is questionable, but the pair nonetheless deliver a release that does at times sound like it has voyaged through the cosmos to reach its audience.

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Cristian Vogel – The Assistenz

Cristian Vogel’s contribution to electronic music is unquestionable. Along with Neil Landstrumm (Pure /Sativa) and Steve Bicknell (Lost), Vogel and his associates provided an anarchic counterpoint to the big club and festival apparatus that sought to surround techno music during the early to mid-’90s. Like the aforementioned Landstrumm, Vogel’s music was a vividly freeform amalgamation of influences.

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Various Artists – Scandinavian Swords II

When it comes to the work of Northern Electronics and other labels and artists that orbit this particular dimension of Swedish techno, the appeal is less about a dogmatic adherence to rules than it is about a sense of place. While the label’s output can range from tough rhythmic pulses to spacious ambience, the work of Varg, Abdullah Rashim, SARS et al is consistent in its evocation of an imagined place. Much music these days seeks to draw on worldly influences to fling the listener to far-out, exotic climes, but these artists have struck upon an aesthetic that heads in the opposite direction from sun-kissed lands and finds beauty in a cold, harsh environment. Considering the name of the label and the fact the majority of artists hail from Sweden, how much of this mental imagery is supposition? A lot of it, but not without merit, as Scandinavian Swords II demonstrates.

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Convextion – 2845

The cover art on 2845 from self-proclaimed “longest-established living space artist in the West” David Hardy features a space ship headed for an unknown world. It perfectly reflects the direction that Gerard Hanson has chosen for this his second album as Convextion. Championed for the past two decades by a steadily growing and always fiercely loyal fan base for his sporadic and sleek, deep techno releases as Convextion and evocative electro as E.R.P., the Dallas producer now pushes the former project farther.

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Best Available Technology – Twisted Ladder

Portland’s Kevin Palmer launched his own label, Working Nights, in 2014 after a series of releases for the likes of London’s Astro:Dynamics, Styles Upon Styles and Further Records. Working Nights is an all-too fitting title for Palmer’s music, as he’s previously alluded to “doing much of his production work in the small hours when his family are asleep.” The label first started out in familiar BAT territory with a series of cassette releases, beginning with the promising Gallery Tape. Two further Working Nights cassettes followed this year, and this newest offering, Twisted Ladder, marks the self-described ‘low key’ label’s first vinyl release.

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The Chi Factory – The Bamboo Recordings

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When discussing his original concept for ambient, Brian Eno has always emphasised not only the evocative, atmospheric nature of the music itself, but its relationship with the environment. Eno’s primary concern was, according to interviews, the relationship between the music and the space in which it is listened to. Over the years, many musicians and producers have interpreted this slightly differently, using field recordings to intrinsically link studio-based recordings with the places and spaces that initially inspired them.

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NHK yx Koyxen – Doom Steppy Reverb

DSR

Diagonal has never really been the place for techno, but by bending, warping and crunching the genre out of shape it can fit; like a parallelogram bashed to shape a nonagon. It’s these broken remnants and off cuts from the misfitting pieces that Diagonal celebrates, with Kohei Matsunaga, whose music as NHK yx Koyxen has always managed skirt the edges between what’s considered functional for the dancefloor and totally leftfield, delivering the label its most concentrated album of ‘club music’ yet.

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Vakula – Cyclicality Between Procyon And Gomeisa

Ukrainian producer Vakula first touched-down with his 2008 Hohol E.P on Uzuri, incorporating rhythmic tribal textures with traditional club sounds. Since then he’s continued to develop a brand of house and techno framed within the warming, ephemeral comfort of experimental music. His first full-length album, You’ve Never been to Konotop (Selected Works 2009-2012), showcased some excellent wide-ranging oddities, with the subsequent album continuing to make ranges into interesting territory. What I’ve felt lacking from the previous albums is a consistent narrative, rather opting to present a collection of tracks that don’t necessarily add up to a complete whole. The same can be said for his most recent release on Dekmantel, Cyclicality between Procyon & Gomeisa, a record that fails to maintain any continuity but still demonstrates an inherent musicianship from a talented producer.

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The 7th Plain – Chronicles 1

The Orb, Higher Intelligence Agency and Mixmaster Morris are usually reeled off whenever the phrase ‘90s ambient techno’ enters a conversation. This is as it should be as those artists contributed greatly to the emergence of that sound. However, one name that should always be part of that grouping is Luke Slater. It is hard to comprehend that around the time that he was releasing the white-knuckle intensity of records like X-Tront Volume 2 or In From the Night, the UK producer was also making wonderfully introspective electronic music as The 7th Plain.

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Equiknoxx – Bird Sound Power

From an outside perspective any genre can seem constrained by its formulas. A sardonic passer-by would claim house beats all sound the same, ambient is a generic mush of lift music and all metal is the same old dirge of screaming vocals and distorted guitars. Dancehall is no different, with plenty of familiar tropes that producers adhere to – after all, what would musical trends be without some kind of common stylistic approach? I have to profess that I am no authority on dancehall, but I know that unmistakable offbeat drum machine groove when I hear it.

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