Review: You might have heard about this LP..... After a pre-release campaign that took on Hollywood-esque proportions, French pair Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter return as Daft Punk with their fourth studio album Random Access Memories sporting a A-list cast of guests and contributors. Given the input of disco icons Giorgio Moroder and Nile Rogers it's entirely understandable that the overbearing sound on Random Access Memories is one of classic disco with lead single "Get Lucky" a good indicator for what to expect. There's also a smattering of yacht rock within the thirteen track set, whilst the ubiquitous Panda Bear turns up on the midnight stutter funk album highlight "Doin' It Right". Those expecting a return to Daft Punk's Homework heyday will be disappointed but Bangalter and de Homem-Christo are touching forty so the polished, expertly constructed disco direction makes perfect sense.
Review: Following 2012's fourth volume that celebrated the existential work of Tim Maia, here we find Luaka Bop exploring the legacy of William Onyeabor. A high chief and Kenyan diplomat who allegedly refuses to discuss his music, he self-released eight albums in the 70s and 80s and these are some of the many highlights. Stretching from the New York-influenced post-punk synth funk of "Good Name" to the most authentic Afro fusion of "Why Go To War", Onyeabor's range not only reflects his clear creative skill, but also the ever-developing international language of music during the fruitful period he was active. Who is William Onyeabor? Press play and find out yourselves...
Review: Brownswood Recordings has high hopes for this debut album from the previously unheralded Yussef Kamaal, which brings together hyped producer Kamaal Williams (AKA Henry Wu) and fast-rising Afrobeat drummer Yussef Dayes. With such talent to draw on, you'd expect Black Focus to be rather good. Happily, it is, with the duo delivering a typically London-centric take on jazz funk. That means that they take as much inspiration from the work of Kaidi Tatham as, say, Herbie Hancock. The key to the album's success - and, yes, it is generally as special as Gilles Peterson suggests - is the fluid combination of Dayes' brilliant drumming and Williams' superb synth solos and effortlessly groovy Rhodes playing.
Review: He's taken his time, but finally Norwegian nu-disco legend Todd Terje has delivered a debut album befitting his immense talents. While there are plenty of examples of his vibrant, synth-heavy dancefloor style on It's Album Time - see "Delorean Dynamite", "Inspector Norse", "Strandbar" and the Lindstrom-ish grandiosity of "Oh Joy" - what really makes it such an essential set are the curious turns and oddball moments. Samba, jazz and easy listening get the Terje treatment on "Alfonso Muskedunder", "Leisure Suit Proben" and "Svensk Sas", while there's a welcome dose of wide-eyed Balearica on the tweaked "Swing Star" (one of a string of previously released cuts on the album). Most interesting of all, though, is "John & Mary", a woozy, Roxy Music style cover of a Robert Palmer classic featuring the effervescent Bryan Ferry.
Review: Originally issued back in 1998, Mezzanine remains the most commercially successful album released by Bristol troupe Massive Attack, thanks in no small part to the Liz Fraser-featuring "Teardrop". This third album signalled a change in sonic direction that played more explicitly on the darkness and tension that was always an undercurrent of their much loved debut Blue Lines and successor Protection. After numerous bootlegs over the years, Virgin have done the right thing and presented this official reissue of Mezzanine to appease fans of Massive Attack and it's clear the LP has lost none of it's bewitching power. The Quincy Jones and Isaac Hayes sampling "Exhange" and "Exchange" remain a delight in particular.
Review: We've been waiting on this one since "J&W Beat" six years ago; there's something about Floating Points sound that instantly lends itself to full-length album immersion. It's clear he feels this way too; using the album to delve deeper into electronic deconstructions and delicate ensemble arrangements. At its most adventurous and contemporary classical "Argente" is up there with Frahm, at is dreamiest and jazz-influenced "For Marmish" is a deeply cosmic affair with disparate chords making more sense than they perhaps should. At its most traditional Floating Points we hit the finale "Perotation Six" where the brushed drums are buried under layers of sound and elements in a way that's not dissimilar to Radiohead. Well worth the wait.
Review: Inspired by the slightly unlikely collision of the Thai music of the '70s and The Shadows, Khruangbin - the name means 'aeroplane' in Thailand - are purveyors of a deliriously mellow and beguiling form of jammed-out power-trio guitar music - far removed from standard notions of psych and dreampop, partly owing to its pan-global influences, its nonetheless both psychedelic and dreamy, not to mention possessed of an unhurried, reflective and spacious lilt that renders this Texan-London outfit a rare treat in an information-saturated age, taking on delicate soul and funk with exotic atmospheres and making the journey feel both blissful and effortless.
Lexy Mella - "On The Air" (Rap mix - Frankie Francis edit - bonus 7") (3:47)
Review: Soundway offer us a new compilation featuring 20 rare tracks from the currently much talked about world of Nigerian pop music; a zeitgeist of their early 1980s club culture. The country's economy was booming at the time and so was its recording industry. Strongly influenced by '70s disco and funk, this new generation were, as the liner notes explain "Eager to sound as American as possible with no hint of the fervour for afro-beat, afro-rock and afrocentric thinking that the 1970s had thrown up". The original albums that many of these singles came from go for exorbitant prices online, so here's a chance to snap up some of the periods finest music, remastered across three 12"s.
Review: Last year, someone set up an online petition calling for Warp to re-release The Other People Place's brilliant Lifestyles Of The Laptop Cafe album on wax. Happily, Warp has responded to the strength of feeling from electronica fans - most of whom bristled at the high online prices for second hand copies - and re-pressed it. Drexciya man James Stinson's 2001 solo set remains a timeless electronic classic; a perfectly pitched and immaculately produced fusion of downtempo electro rhythms, spacey electronics and twinkling synthesizer melodies. In fact, you'll struggle to find a better electro album full stop, making this reissue an essential purchase for anyone not lucky enough to own an original copy.
Review: "In Rainbows", Radiohead's seventh album, finally gets a physical release! It's one thing downloading this landmark album, but to actually hold this is something special. Not only do you get increased sound quality, but you also get the amazing artwork from Stanley Donwood. This album includes "Nude", a live favourite for many years that was originally written during the "OK Computer" sessions. More minimal that their "Kid A" period, "In Rainbows" does something that very few albums have done - its sound is distinct from previous Radiohead albums, but is still clearly Radiohead. Hail to the kings, they are back on top form. Get this album while you can.
Review: Surely not even the most ardent Bowie fan saw any of this coming. Yet to offset the justified grief and mourning at the most otherworldly and mercurial of all musical icons departing our realm, he's left us with one of his greatest albums to date and certainly his best in a full quarter century - one that returns him spiritually to the dizzying collision of bracing experimentation and melodious drama that typified the so-called Berlin trilogy of the '70s yet transplants that ambience to a new more complicated age. Jazzy inflections, electronic filigree and stark soundscapes collide elegantly amidst that stentorian voice, and whether or not Bowie put this together as a farewell, he couldn't have done it better if he'd tried. We'll truly never see his like again, alas.
Review: The Spacetalk label returns with this fine compilation by French house shotter, Jeremy Underground. We know him, and you surely know him, though his My Love Is Underground label, an imprint that has produced some of the best deep house in the last five years. He's not in house mode today, though, and instead the DJ shows us his soul roots. Ron Rinaldi's opener "Mexican Summer" is a real peach of a song, then there's some Brazilian disco-funk through Leila Pinheiro's "Tudo Em Cima", and the supremely deep and sensual "Superstar" by NCCU. Other favourites include Maureen Bailey's bittersweet anthem "Takin' My Time With You", and June Evans' "Hardly Need To Say", a tune that we could just leave on repeat. A highly recommended comp!
Review: Although Omar S' excellent Thank You For Letting Me Be Myself album was released on CD a few months ago, it's the deluxe vinyl version that the real "Homie's and Tender Roni's" have been waiting for. Only Omar S could get away with spreading all of its 14 tracks across 4 12"s, split into two parts, but for those yet to sample its delights, the album's superb selection of tracks more than justifies the expense; Part 1 features the superb vocal turn from L'Renee on "Rewind", the insanely feelgood house of "The Shit Baby", the experimental dubbiness of "Helter Shelter" and thick set deep house of "Amalthea".
The Staple Singers - "Slippery People" (club version) (6:31)
Brother Resistance - "Can I Get A Witness" (5:56)
Legacy - "Monday Blues" (4:02)
La Banda De Martin - "Mi Dueno" (3:29)
Devon Russell - "Move On Up" (3:53)
Costa & Chyps - "Detroit City Cats" (instrumental long version) (7:30)
Wilfred Percussion - "Andei" (3:01)
Review: Crown Ruler Records co-founder Jeremy Spellacey is highly regarded within the crate-digging community, primarily for his ability to sniff out copies of obscure - but, naturally, high quality - boogie-era disco records from Africa and the Caribbean. On this fine compilation, Spacetalk has offered the New Zealander the opportunity to showcase some of those finds, alongside a smattering of better-known favourites and more recent cuts (see Mike Fabulous's overlooked modern boogie gem "Wang East"). Predictably, Spellacey has delivered the goods, serving up humid, exotic and loved-up gems galore, including the fluttering brilliance of Stimela's "I Love You", the marimba-laden Balearic boogie of Feladey's "Forest Music" and Devon Russell's impeccable reggae-soul cover of Curtis Mayfield's "Move on Up".
Review: Madvillain is the collaboration of the most dynamic duo from today's hip-hop underground, MF Doom and Madlib. "Madvillainy" has witty, mental lyrics combined with rugged beats fashioned from every possible source material, resulting in a truly unique album pointing the way to hip-hop's future.
Review: In 2015, Texas & London-based trio Khruangbin's debut album 'The Universe Smiles Upon You' garnered wide critical acclaim and captured attention for its seamless genre-blending and internationally shaped sound - one that evidently has deep roots in Thai-funk cassette culture. Similarly to their debut, sophomore record 'Con Todo El Mundo' is a cocktail of largely instrumental surf-rock, afro-funk, middle-eastern and far-eastern influences, mixed with warmth and soul. As if their pallette wasn't diverse enough, the additions of the pared back boogie on 'Evan Finds The Third Room', the widescreen dream-pop of 'A Hymn' and deeply intricate writing of closer 'Friday Morning', are illustrative of a band who have worked hard to broaden their horizons while keeping their roots in mind and, despite transatlantic bases, clearly remain a stunningly cohesive and well-matched outfit.
Review: Anders Trentemøller is one of the rising stars of the dance music scene, his remixes and productions have gained critical acclaim from a broad range of DJs and producers including Pete Tong, Sasha, John Digweed, Switch, MANDY, Mylo, Nathan Fake and Freeform Five. Released on the influential Poker Flat label this is set to be one of the definitive releases of 2006. Available as a limited edition double CD and double LP. Trentemøller is currently the most in-demand remixer (recently delivering critically acclaimed mixes for The Pet Shop Boys, The Knife, Royksöpp, Sharon Phillips and Moby) with releases on Naked Music, Get Physical, and of course Poker Flat/Audiomatique.
Review: Given that this is the first album from the great Theo Parrish since 2007, it's unsurprising interest in American Intelligence has rocketed over the course of the year as Sound Signature left a trail of hints. Happily, American Intelligence is a fine album; deep and woozy in parts, undeniably soulful, shot through with jazz influences and full to bursting with killer cuts. By now, everyone should know the brilliant "Footwork" single (arguably one of the records of 2014); soon, clubs will swing to the off-kilter dancefloor jazz of "Make No War", the 21st century broken house of the epic "Fallen Funk" and the decidedly odd - but brilliant - "Helmut Lampshade".
The Ecstasy Boys - "Chi Chi Chi Gan Kanon" (feat Shiro Amamiya)
Jazzadelic - "I Got A Rhythm" (1991 original mix)
Akiko Kanazawa - "Sawauchi jinku" (Terada mix)
Yutsuko Chusonji - "Blessing" (Magic Ware remix)
YPF - "Trance Of Love" (Tokyo Offshore mix)
Yukihiro Fukutomi - "It's Gonna Be Alright"
Hiroshi Matsui - "Crazy Miracle dub"
Takeharu Kunimoto - "Home" (6AM mix)
Violets - "Sunset"
GWM - "Deep Loop" (edit)
Fake - "Square"
Hiraku Nagasawa - "Matrix Track"
Dan K - "Turquoise Love"
Review: REPRESS ALERT: Brawther and Alixkun present a collection of 15 underground Japanese house tracks from the early days of electronic dance music, back when the genre was sweeping across the globe. Ahead of a related documentary project titled 'HOUSE' in Japanese characters, the compilation is the first to showcase the works of Japanese house on an historical and global level, with classics and rare-as-a-hen's teeth tracks. Carefully selected by Brawther and his sidekick Ailxkun, this is a nectar of deep grooves and blissful melodies that form the blueprint of the Japanese House Sound. Legends like Soichi Terada, Yukihiro Fukutomi or The Ecstasy Boys are back to back with unsung hearoes like Takecha, Magic Ware or Katsumi Hidano. Aimed at the house music lover and overall music enthousiasts, this compilation is the one stop shop of all things early Japanese House, unveiling the mystery behind it all and shining a brand new light on it, dusted and remastered, for your listening pleasure.
Review: Italian duo Nu Guinea has previously proved adept at creating humid, sultry deep house and tropical-infused electronics. Here, they focus a little more on the latter with a concept album based around the distinctive Afrobeat rhythms of legendary drummer Tony Allen. With his blessing, and that of the Comet label on which he's been releasing since the 1980s, the Early Sounds Recordings pair has cut-up and re-constructed Allen's drums, combining them with their own steamy electronics, vintage synthesizer lines and classic drum machines. It's an intoxicating and hugely entertaining blend that sits somewhere between their previous outings, Danny Wolfers' material under the Nacho Patrol guise, and the dreamy late '80s/early '90s work of forgotten Italian producer Mr Marvin.