Review: From his appearances on Aesthetic Audio and Ornate through to his own Atmospheric Existence label, Miles Sagnia continues to be one of the best kept secrets of British deep techno, and that's no more apparent than on this stunning release for Common Dreams. There's a looped up insistence to "Heal", but it's offset by emotive movement in the synth lines and an overall spiritual quality that escapes much cyclical techno. "Plight" takes a slightly slower path, amping up the early UK electronica tones for an immersive experience shaped out by interlocking rhythms and snaking melodies. It's a truly classy statement that stays true to techno while saying something original.
Review: The latest artist to deliver a volume in digital download specialists Masterworks Music's occasional "Master Series" of vinyl EPs is Dirtytwo, a Scandinavian duo best-known for their releases on Local k and Razor 'N' Tape Reserve. A-side "Consensual" is a genuinely deep and immersive affair driven forwards by echoing electric piano stabs, hissing ride cymbals and addictive bass, all topped off by glassy-eyed vocal samples of what sounds like Motown legend Marvin Gaye. Flipside "Get Down & Get With It" is an altogether sweatier and sleazier affair, closer in tone to the pair's various loved-up and peak-time-ready singles on Local Talk. It's rather good, though we still prefer the tactile and huggable A-side.
Review: Back in 2016, legendary Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen approached techno pioneer Jeff Mills with the idea of working together. A series of live gigs and off-the-radar studio sessions followed, with the first fruits of their joint efforts finally appearing on this must-have 10". As you'd expect, the duo's collaborative work combines Allen's traditional Nigerian polyrhythms, traditional Afrobeat instrumentation, and the far-sighted, sci-fi inspired electronic futurism that has always marked out Mills' work. The result is a quartet of cuts that could arguably be described as retro-futurist Afro-tech - all delay-laden beats, basslines and organs subtly sparring with gentle acid lines, Motor City electronics, beguiling deep space textures and shimmering, 31st century motifs. It's arguably Allen's stylistic contributions that dominate, but that's no bad thing.
Review: A limited yellow vinyl funk odyssey from Record Store Day, "I Get Lifted" is taken from KC & The Sunshine Band's second album (1975) Still sounding shiny and floor-minded, the original stands the test of time incredibly well. Todd Terje's edit, however, takes it to another level; upping the tempo (and, possibly, the key), he's extended the right places, added a little more emphasis on the kicks and made sure we can't miss the breakdowns and instrumental sections.
Review: D3 Elements clocks up release number five here by offering up a full EP to Zhao-Ski, who previously appeared on the VA EP release in 2014. What he serves up are a clutch of instrumental hip hop tracks that speak to the soul.
Zhao-Ski has been a key figure on the Detroit scene for years. A DJ since his teens and owner of the Black Operation Records label since the 90s, he has produced as part of collectives, played live with MCs and has been mentored by the famous Mad Mike Banks. As such his credentials and skills are long established, so he makes a welcome return to the D3 ranks.
'Enter the Void' opens things up with louche, sun kissed beats that immediately brighten up your world. 'Mischief Meadow' has tumbling drums, trilling keys and lots of dusty atmospherics and 'Warning Signs' marries spoken world snippets with jazzy percussive, slowly funky drums and woozy pads that lull you into a wholly relaxed state. On the flip, 'Tight and Upright' is all about the huge over sized drums, snares and cymbal splashes that are all miked up super closely, then 'Time Reimagined' starts with some filmic and evocative vocals and sound design before a trumpet led groove unravels in stoned trip hop fashion. Overall, this is a magically compelling and authentic little ride through the mind of Detroit's hip hop king, Zhao-Ski.
Review: PSYTH launches with the debut EP from Rob Shields. With a delicate urgency driven by a pulsating post-punk bassline, Shards
lavishes layer upon rich layer of sound, evoking the cool grooves of Peaking Lights and Chromatics, while a shimmering vocal
sample from Rebecca Sawyer adds an otherworldly sense of longing that echoes through the soul of the release. Silhouetted appears
more conventional and dance-floor friendly next to Shards, but under the surface is something unique and strangely exotic. A
mantra-like melody loop gives a nod to minimalist composer Terry Riley and his solo organ works, while world instruments such as
an African kalimba and Tibetan singing bowl only heighten the hypnotic and intoxicating quality even further.
Review: The always on point iNdicia Dubs invite you to get down to their latest riddim at the hands of Kibir La Amlak. Entitled '"Ancient Pulse" this new vinyl only missive has an enacting lead line that flutters away over this label's trademark drums: they are neon, steel plated, contemporary and do a good job of making you move. A tripper dub takes care of the A1 while on the flip there are even more whacked out versions with endless echo and reverb and natty keys, while "Divine Timing" is driven by a drilling bassline that burrows superbly deep.
Review: It's impossible to deny how tight the production on this experimental but highly workable and coherent double-A side actually is. Both tunes belong on the Everything In Its Right Place shelf, and each of those things seems to have been crafted with meticulous attention to detail. Opening on the original version of 'Kodokushi', there are more than a few clear references to the glory days of progressive breakbeat dance music, with the track a sparse, space-age set opener if ever there was one, gradually unfolding into a subtle and loose rhythm crying out for heavier beats to mix in. The Toulouse Low Trax remix goes someway to answering that call, bringing a gradually growing groove into the equation and heightening the percussive elements, leaving us somewhere between an instrumental of Massive Attack's 'Karma Coma' and Sasha's 'Airdrawndagger' LP.
Review: Second time around for Julianna Barwick and Rafael Anton Irisarri's lauded contribution to the THESIS label's series of collaborative 10-inch singles. The 2017 set has been in high demand since it first appeared in stores, and with a limited number available outside the US for the first time we're expecting it to sell out in double-quick time. Musically, it's one of the most picturesque things that Irissari has been involved in. The untitled opener delivers a near perfect fusion of layered improvised vocals and wispy ambient electronics, while the track that follows brilliantly builds to a crescendo of Tangerine Dream style arpeggio melodies, densely layered textures and acid-esque motifs. The flipside opener is a more softly spun, deep ambient soundscape, while the EP's closing cut is sparkling, spacey and hugely alluring.
Review: Los Angeles has firmly established itself as one of America's electronic music capitals over the last ten years, with the city particularly fertile in more experimental ends, where rave, urban and downtempo collide in a haze of found sounds, samples and original loops. Kutmah pretty much encapsulates this point. Melding elements of hip hop, post-punk and industrial, 'New Appliance' is basically the producer's new calling card - a mini masterpiece that's so tight and well-executed it leaves no questions as to the creator's ability. 'Ramallah''s intoxicating Arabic references, crackling recordings of bells, haunting chants and exotic flutes. 'Stoned In Brixton' cries out for a sunset to soundtrack, nodding to the productions of DJ Krush or Bibio, with the latter similarly invoked on 'Tres Flores'. Smoked-out innovations by the kilo.
Review: Belgian producer UC Beatz lands on Masterworks with two impeccable deep house cuts that nod to the sterling reputation he enjoys within the scene. "Mojoy" is a simmering jam with that raw 'in the room' flavour you'd expect from Moodymann, a sweet vocal sample and a rhythm section that teases as much as it moves. When the chords drop, it's sure to sway the crowd without losing the intimacy set up in the track's earlier moments. "Exotic Fruitz" has a similar production style, and that background bar chatter is back again to fill the space with a cosy atmosphere, but here the keys are more forthright and vibing in the direction of sunnier climes.
Review: Moochin' About's Record Store Day 2017 offering is something of a treat for jazz fans: a tasty 10" featuring an unreleased Alice Coltrane improvisation, recorded in Poland in 1987, on one side, and a delightful etching of a lotus flower on the other. Musically, the A-side sees Coltrane in harpist mode, delivering a spontaneous workout the rapidly jumps between strummed chords, plucked notes and frequent bursts of twinkling melody. At some points, it's blissful and becalmed, at others fizzes with the same kind of excitement you'd expect from freestyle jazz. At nearly 12 minutes in length it's something of an epic, but will hold your attention throughout.