Review: Given that it's called "Coloured" and appears on shocking pink vinyl, you'd expect Adam Longman Parker's debut album as Afriqua to be a decidedly vibrant and kaleidoscopic affair. It is, of course, with Longman Parker offering up tracks that mix tropical-sounding electronics, glassy-eyed synthesizer motifs, processed vocal sounds and evocative musical flourishes with jaunty, interesting rhythms that neatly sidestep conventional genre rules. It's a mixture that makes for hugely enjoyable listening, with highlights coming thick and fast. These include - though are by no means limited to - the densely layered dancefloor cheekiness of "Shout", the minimalist ambient bliss of "Noir", the hypnotic, intergalactic oddness of "Native Sun" and the bubbly club warmth of "Jumpteenth".
Review: Kris Baha has been on a serious roll over the past few years, notching up releases on Bahnsteig 23, Pinkman and many more besides. Now feels like the right time for him to drop an album, and where better to do such a thing than Cocktail D'Amore? The Berlin-via-Melbourne producer's sound comes through loud and clear - minimal wave and industrial influences abound, executed with ferocity and flamboyance in equal measure to create a many-shaded set of deviant dance bangers. "Living Nothingness" is the ultimate nihilistic beatdown, "Steel Sands" channels early Nine Inch Nails to perfection, and "Defied" has a propulsive thrust that would make Al Jourgensen proud. Baha wears his influences on his sleeve, and why not? They're great influences that he creates stunning music with.
Review: Michigan producer John Beltran is a master of atmosphere and emotion. His ambient has been used for countless seminal TV shows, he's been cited as an inspiration to Four Tet and has put out key albums on labels like Delsin and Peacefrog. Here he is in a distinctively club-focussed mood, but the synths still very much speak to your heart. "The Lake" is pure Motor City techno soul, and the ambient reprise allows you to wallow in his pads even more. "Twilight" then bustles with shimmering metal hits while pixelated keys drift about like a million fire flies in a warm night sky. Lush.
Review: Secretsundaze return with a second volume of their new mixtape series. After the success of the Joe Claussell tape they turn to Carista for another introspective mix aimed at a relaxed home-listening session.
In May 2018, Carista performed one of her first international gigs at Secretsundaze in London and went on to play 2 other shows for them that year. A year later, she has become a mainstay on the European club & festival circuit, playing to an ever growing, passionate and loyal fanbase week in week out, already playing shows that most DJs would only dream of, including closing a stage at Lowlands festival to an audience of 10000. No wonder a recent Mixmag article crowned her as "A DJ star in the making".
Her residencies on NTS and Red Light Radio showcase her love of house, boogie, broken beat, disco, funk and beyond. Her DJ gigs can also see her explore further into house and techno but this mixtape showcases a different, softer side of Carista blending ambient soundscapes, jazz, dub and soul as well as some poignant words from Nina Simone.
This is Carista's debut physical format release so don't sleep!
Review: Whether offering up dreamy, loved-up synth-pop or languid Balearic beats, Michael Silver's work as CFCF has always tended towards the summery and sun-kissed. Yet even by his high standards, "The Colours Of Life" is extra-special. The album first appeared on Canadian tape/download imprint 1080p back in 2015, becoming something of a cult item amongst ambient and Balearic collectors. The good news is that it's finally made it to wax, and not a moment too soon. The album's mixture of lazy, elongated chords, bubbling synthesizer melodies, soft focus beats, seductive aural textures, gentle new age motifs and occasional heartfelt jazz guitars is a treat for the ears: an aural bubble bath whose sonic smelling salts will tickle and tingle the senses.
Review: Trailed as a direct sequel to his previous solo album, 2017's "Avanti", "Volume Massimo" sees Nine Inch Nails member Alessandro Cortini offer up another immersive trip through droning guitar textures, repetitive synthesizer motifs, exotic sitar parts and fuzzy electronics. It's effectively a series of "maximal" instrumental soundscapes with sounds so large and layered they rise above the "meditative" tag pushed by Mute's PR team. This is no criticism, though, just a reflection that while contemplative at times, one of the most joyous things about the album is Cortini's ability to build thrilling walls of sound.
Review: This is the third and final entry in Nils Frahm's Encores series and it finds the celebrated contemporary piano man layer in more percussive and electronic elements than the previous two instalments. The source music was made as part of the sessions for his last album "All Melody" and honed during live performances. As fans will know, "All Armed" here has been a staple of those live sets for some time and is 12 minutes of plaintive piano playing and wallowing synths that will sink you deep into the German's expressive world.
Review: It would be fair to say that Ernest "Ernie" Hood was ahead of his time. During the early 1970s, he was one of the few musicians in Portland, Oregon to embrace synthesizers. He was also a keen zither player and in his spare time made nostalgic field recordings of suburban neighbourhoods that matched those he grew up in. All of these things came together on his sole solo album, "Neighborhoods", an obscure - but rather brilliant - set that still sounds miles ahead of its time. It has a nostalgic tone, but is as evocative and atmospheric as you'd expect given the sonic ingredients Hood spooned into the mix. This re-mastered edition expands it to two discs, too, allowing louder, clearer reproduction of Hood's far-sighted sounds.
Review: 12th Isle's latest must-check chunk of entertaining experimentalism comes from Lo Kindre, whose dub-wise 2017 debut on Optimo Music was arguably one of that year's most overlooked EPs. "Chlorophytum", the producer's first solo missive since then, is another lo-fi electronic dub treat. Of course, it's not all gentle bass-heavy rhythms, endless delay trails and cute electronic melodies - closing cut "For Sleep" is a buzzing electronic raga, for example - but it's on these bass-heavy excursions that Lo Kindre most frequently hits the spot. Highlights include the extraordinarily sub-heavy shuffle of "Sounder", the ambient dub wooziness of "Aibell" and the creepy alien-dub oddness of "No Hiding".
Review: Having built up his self titled label alongside his sterling work as part of Oscillat, Lazare Hoche and Will & Ink, the one and only Malin Genie delivers his debut solo album. Moving beyond the pure club focus of his singles and EPs, the Genie has seized this opportunity to present a widescreen panorama of his sound, leading in with the subliminal ambience of "You" as a springboard to explore breaks, electro, techno, and especially IDM. There are so many ideas swirling round Anthropomorphic Sympathy, it's hard to know where to begin describing it. A true headphone commute for the deep listener to burrow into.
Review: Many may know Seungyoung Lee AKA Mogwaa from his superb EPs and singles on Starwave, which sit somewhere between chillwave, boogie, proto-house and Italo-disco. There have been plenty of signs of his musical dexterity, though, and its' this side of his chameleon-like character that come to the fore on debut album "07307". While decidedly Balearic in vibe and tone, the album's nine instrumental soundscapes draw on a dizzying array of influences, from the synthesizer-based sounds he's known for to jazz, ambient, new age, dubbed-out synth-pop, Turkish style psychedelia and spaced-out movie soundtracks. In other words, it's a hugely enjoyable, atmospheric and alluring musical trip that surprises and delights at every turn.
Neuzeitliche Bodenbelage & Sam Irl - "Faeden" (5:35)
Review: Earlier in the year, Fantastic Twins' Julienne Dessagne offered up the first volume in a new series of multi-artist EPs with a decidedly psychedelic electronic bent. Four months on, she's assembled another team of musical miscreants to deliver more audio "Microdosing". Oceanic kicks things off with the Steve Reich style melodic loops and gently pulsating electronic rhythms of "Parallel Lines Of Stripes", before Versatile Records founder Gilb'R dives deep into swirling ambient waters via the multi-speed oddness of "Cosmogonie". Over on side B, Lucas Croon fuses post-dubstep rhythms, skittish drum solos, twisted acid lines and intergalactic electronics on "Threshold Stimulus", while Neuzeitliche Bodenbelage and Sam Irl join forces for the kosmiche throb of "Faeden".
Review: By now, we've come accustomed to Dark Entries digging deep to find curious material to reissue. Even so, few would have expected them to turn to the Greek synth-pop/new wave scene for inspiration. Gallop, the sixth album from Greek musician Lena Platonos, originally came out back in 1985. It remains an impressive, if unusual, set, with Platonos variously speaking and singing over backing tracks that veer between spooky, piano-laden oddities, sparse but seductive drum machine grooves and thrillingly spaced-out synth-scapes. Those without a grasp of Greek will no doubt wonder what she's musing on, but in many ways it doesn't matter; aesthetically, Gallop is a thrillingly imaginative and out-there album worthy of further investigation.
You Hung - "The Truth Was Different" (live) (5:04)
Fret - "Helicopter Rig" (4:51)
Concrete Fench - "Track 5" (2:46)
Simon Shreeve - "The Space Between Cultures" (4:50)
Obelus - "Scale Reference" (4:29)
Layne - "Raising Up, Removal" (4:22)
Khrone & Mjolsness - "5th Recording 7" (5:43)
DVA Damas - "People Say I'm Cool"
Review: This fine compilation from Regis' Downwards label has been trailed as a kind of "family portrait" of where the imprint stands in 2019, offering a slew of exclusive tracks including a heap of cross-generational collaborations. There is plenty to set the pulse racing throughout the collection. "EBM supergroup" You Hung impresses via the moody and clanking, mid-80s industrial vibes of "The Truth Was Different (Live)", while Obelus' "Scale Reference" sounds like Richard D James after a particularly potent bong hit. Simon Shreeve's "The Space Between Cultures" is a creepy slab of ambient/noise fusion, Layne's "Raising Up, Removal" is a delightfully out there journey into metallic electro headiness and DVA Damas' sub-heavy cut "People Say I'm Cool" is as stylish and, let's face it, cool as the title suggests.
Review: Roy Of The Ravers returns to his Acid Waxa stomping ground with a much needed vinyl pressing of last year's insanely good "Who Are Ya??" album. Keeping tracks these potent trapped on cassette would have been a crime, but fear not as they've been cut in all their squelchy, 303-baiting glory. There's a particular snappy appeal to Roy's style that makes it some of the most refreshing acid we've heard in some time, whether it's the proper naughty "Roy Shat Over Ref" or the slow-creeping acid of "All Aboard !!!" The vibe is raw and nasty throughout, just like how proper acid should be.
Review: Jazz-man Greg Foat has always been more open-minded and eclectic than many give him credit for, delivering nods to pastoral folk, movie soundtracks and library music amongst his more jazz-focused output. Even so, "Photosynthesis" is still a curveball, featuring as it does drowsy and mostly leisurely soundscapes that move from Radiophonic Workshop influenced weird-outs and mutant lounge music, to stoned horizontal grooves and post trip-hop soundscapes. Interestingly, some of the album's standout moments come laden with woozy electric pianos and the kind of hazy, slow motion guitar motifs that evoke mental images of long, drawn-out sunsets.
Review: Tribe Of Colin have done a good job of keeping their identity unknown despite plenty of well received releases. Honest Jon's gets a fourth album from the enigmatic artist(s) that deals in sludgy techno, dubby steppers and pulsing electronic music that harks back to the streets of Detroit as much as hinting at a future London landscape long after humans have long gone. Twisted synths, shimmering percussion, dark chords and complex rhythms are interwoven with gritty textures and field recordings from around the world to make it a spellbinding listen. Fans of Actress and Andy Stott will love.
Review: It's cult records and mythical artists like this that record collectors fawn over for years. Well this particular wait is now over as for the first time ever on vinyl you can now own two super rare 1980-82 tapes by Two Daughters. They were a mysterious pair affiliated with Throbbing Gristle and recorded all sorts of dark and haunting noise in Brixton for Nurse With Wound's United Dairies. This session is as freaky as they come, with muffled voices appearing out of the noise like apparitions. Hypnotic and daunting, droning and bleakly mesmeric, this music sounds to us like the shadowy corridors of an old lunatic asylum in the dead of a winter's night.
Review: Stroom's latest chunk of left-of-centre brilliance comes from Jan Van Der Broeke, an artist active since the 1980s who's arguably most famous for his work under the Absent Music, June 11 and The Misz aliases. 11,000 Dreams is his first career retrospective and draws on 30 years worth of self-released cassettes and CD-Rs. It's a sublime set, all told, pulling together dreamy, evocative, melodious and soft-touch tracks that blur the boundaries between ambient, skewed downtempo pop, blissful warmth, spoken word laden cheeriness (the odd but brilliant "My Lesbian Girlfriends") and spacey cuts laden with exotic instrumentation and whistling synthesizer melodies.
Review: For the past six years Jazzy Couscous has been exploring nooks and crannies of Japanese music culture in search of overlooked gems across all kinds of styles. After the success of the first installment of "Kumo No Muko", label boss Alixkun returns with another expansive collection of ambient, new age and smooth jazz reflections from a range of artists. The mood is consistently pretty, not to mention delicately executed, whether veering towards the sweet string refrain of Ayuo Takahashi's "Mizu Iro No Kagami" or the bittersweet prog guitar licks of Toru Hatano's "Kanki". There are bleepy synth trips like Akira's "Essence Of Beauty" and beat-embellished grooves to sink into - miss this rare and beautiful record at your peril.