Review: When it comes to interesting, inventive, off-kilter sounds, few labels can claim quite a strong a discography as Andrea Zarza and Matthew Kent's Mana imprint. Should you require further proof, we'd recommend checking out this superb debut album from hotly tipped "mystery artist" Pretty Sneaky. Like the shadowy producer/producer's previous, self-released work, the album offers up a take on dub techno that's loose, melodious and undeniably more fluid than most records in the style, with clear nods towards the likes of Pole, Burnt Friedman and spaced-put ambient dub. The rhythms are often thrillingly off-kilter, too, while the artist's extensive use of atmospheric field recordings makes each of the 15-minute tracks a calming, mood-enhancing event. Recommended.
Review: "In A Landscape" marks a welcome return to action for Sa Pa, a publicity-shy (correction: deliberately anonymous) artist renowned for his mutations of ambient and dub techno on Forum and Giegling. This is his first release of any sort for three years, but it's like he's never been away. Crafting dense, mind-altering soundscapes and hypnotic dancefloor excursions from a combination of field recordings, effects-laden/processed sounds, slipped machine beats, drowsy, deep space electronics and barely audible snippets of spoken word samples. It's pretty far-out in parts, but also very, very good: a superb example of the potential of sound layering and manipulation that never loses its inherent early morning groove.
Review: As time passes, the increasingly prolific partnership of Ricardo Villalobos and Max Loderbauer moves farther into the wilderness, both artists emboldened by their shared sense of adventure and peerless skill. Here, on this LP for Mana, they're shrugging off all shackles in an exploration of synthesis on a molecular level. What's so thrilling is that patterns and rhythms do emerge from within this primordial soup, winding up in some of the most gorgeous and beguiling works we've tripped on for some time. Otherworldly, but somehow grounded with an earthly instinctive-ness, "The Clouds Know" will take time to wrap your head around, but therein lies the beauty.