M&M Vs Andrei Swipe - "Analog Express" (Don Carlos remix) (7:29)
Review: There's an undeniable air of quality that lingers over the 12"s emerging on 14th Level Of Paradise, the mysterious label presenting originals, edits and repressed tracks for true house devotees. First up is a little known track from Sasha Makin and Suntetic, given a shimmering polish by Don Carlos and Steven Perri to become a heavy funking masterpiece, before Joe Claussell drops in a percussive dub delight on Monday Michiru's "Higher". On the flip, Vincent Inc and LA get things pumping with the slow but chunky, jazz-licked "Red Room", before Carlos returns for another deep house reverie as he remixes M&M and Andrei Swipe's "Analog Express".
Review: It's not hard to understand why people so often ignore album release blurb. Sales-y, hyperbolic, and on more than the odd occasion rather poorly written, it's hardly required reading in order to get the most out of the record. That is unless it's Big Thief's 'Two Hands', a collection of music that genuinely makes more sense when you know the back story. For one thing this long form offering is arriving just months after its predecessor, which is always either the sign of a band that don't need big ideas to facilitate rapid-fire output, or a band that have so many big ideas they literally can't stop the momentum. This is a case of the latter. Timescale aside, "Two Hands" genuinely feels as though it was born in the Badlands, epic songs that invoke endless vistas across barren settings in a way that makes you feel as small as you actually are in a global context. Like cosying up in a log cabin away from the chilly endless dark of a desert night.
Review: A Vision Of Panorama continues his synth exploration, expanding his vision towards new synthesizer motifs and dreamy chords on a vast array of late night cosmic g-funk grooves, modern funk and boogie inspired tracks. This time covers a different spectrum of sounds and atmospheres which merge to form a harmonious whole that can stands on territories of accomplished future soul, jazz and funk. Distinctly deeper and visibly more emotive deep house than just a technique of smooth Balearic instrumentation.
Review: When you use words like "prickly", "abrasive" and "uncompromising" it's rarely flattering. Consider Kim Gordon's exceptional powerhouse long form one of the exceptions. As far removed from music for the masses as you could hope for, it takes a particular talent to deliver work like "No Record Home". Labels such as punk certainly apply, but it's less about mouths gushing spittle amid the deafening screams of guitars and raucous vocals, and more about overall attitude. No change there for this co-founder of the mighty Sonic Youth then. Loud and intelligent, forthright and yet heartfelt and tender in its own unforgiving way, it's as far removed from wall of sound discordance as it is anything you could describe as remotely over-explored. Marrying the bloody-lipped electro of Peaches and body blow lows of EBM with gritty rock 'n' roll chords, those looking for originality that oozes repeatability should consider their hunt over, for now at least.
Metal Banshee ( Mad Professor Mix One) (CD2: Mezzanine Mad Professor)
Angel (Angel Dust)
Teardrop (Mazaruni dub One)
Inertia Creeps (Floating On dubwise)
Risingson (Setting Sun dub Two)
Exchange (Mountain Steppers dub)
Wire (Leaping dub)
Group Four (Security Forces dub)
Review: Two decades have passed since Massive Attack signaled a new stage in their career with the dark, paranoid and claustrophobic brilliance of "Mezzanine", their third studio album. Given the current global political climate, it arguably sounds even more relevant 20 years after it first hit stores. This time round, the re-mastered original set comes accompanied by something none of us have heard before: Mad Professor's complete dub translation, which was slated for release around the turn of the Millennium but for one reason or another never came out. Like his take on "No Protection", it's an inspired set of revisions that takes 3D and Daddy G's dense and red-eyed originals into wild new bass-heavy places. Even if you own the original version already, it's well worth picking up this special edition just for that alone.
Review: Music For Dreams' latest must-have compilation of obscure Balearic treats comes courtesy of noted digger Basso, a DJ, producer and re-editor who has previously released some killer scalpel jobs on Joe's Bakery and People Must Jam. You'll find one of his edits tucked away towards the end of the EP - a tidy extension of Wolfsmond's sun-kissed, Chris Rea-esque German language number "Fuhl Dich Frei" - alongside stunning selections that variously touch on stoned West Coast jazz-rock, new age, ambient, drowsy 80s pop, kosmiche and loved-up late night AOR shufflers. An inspired collection of pretty much unknown gems; what's not to like?
Review: It's taken a while, but finally Thom Yorke's impressive third solo album, "ANIMA", is available on wax (and in a fetching shade of orange, too). A future classic that continues the legacy he started with XL Recordings back in 2006 (with his solo debut The Eraser), ANIMA is well worth picking up, as Yorke and co-producer Nigel Godrich offer up evocative, off-kilter songs built around the twin attractions of the Radiohead man's distinctive vocals and skewed backing tracks rich in layered electronic noise, body-bending sub-bass, discordant synthesizer parts and intriguingly jaunty drum loops. Highlights are plentiful throughout, from the creepy, lo-fi ambient swirl of "Last I Heard (...He Was Circling the Drain)" and "Dawn Chorus" (a blissfully dewy-eyed early morning soundscape), to the low-slung, post-trip-hop hum of "I Am A Very Rude Person" and the fizzing, jazz-fired thrust of "Impossible Knots". Melancholic, yes. Deep and self-effacing, of course. Nihilistic, not really. Percussive futurist sub-pop is back.
Review: Faze Action last teamed up with Zeke Manyika, formerly of 80s funksters Orange Juice, for the effervescent "Mangwana" back in 2016. Now they're back in collaboration for more classically rooted house music with a deeply infectious African twist. "Kubatana" is punchy where it counts, but it's a light and springy proto house burner first and foremost, with Manyika's vocal sounding as smooth as silk in the middle of the mix. "Hapana" is equally rich in musicality and personality, albeit on a more simmering, meditative tip. On the B side, "Kubatana" gets reworked by Rudy Midnight Machine and Paradise, who turn in distinct versions without losing the overall 80s aesthetic that powers the release.
Arctic Monkeys - "Leave Before The Lights Come On"
The Newell Octet - "Baby I'm Yours"
Review: A brand new studio recording of the now live smash "Leave Before The Lights Come On" shows Alex Turner and gang further honing their songwriting craft with a track which could well turn out to be one of their finest.
Review: Belfast pair Bicep are smart operators. Having previously doffed a cap to both Italian house and classic New Jersey garage, recent releases have seen them play around with a variety of rhythmic patterns and more advanced musical elements. They're at it again here on their latest outing for Aus. Opener "Just" is pleasingly cheery, with simple but addictive electronic melodies and sweeping chords nestling above a head-nodding, hip-hop influenced groove. "Celeste" is undeniably Balearic, with sun-kissed pianos, dreamy pads and drifting vocal samples stretching out over delay-laden, African-influenced percussion. Finally, they return to their rush-inducing best on "Back 2 U (Tranz Dub)", a loving fusion of vintage progressive house builds, winding melodies and mid '90s beats.
Review: IIB next release comes from French duo Baptiste & Pierre. 2 tracks of warm tropical goodness. Virage is a deep mellow afro tinged tropical workout. Muted guitar hook and nature sounds conjuring up far flung deserted beaches. Ruf dug beefs it up a touch and moves it indoors giving it a more afterhours feel. The second track has the same evocative feel as Virage with added atmospheric pads and a bouncy melody. Like a closing track on an 80's road movie. Full of emotion. Italian maestro Deep 88 creates a truly authentic slice of early ninetoes deep dreamy house. Perfectly wrapping the original in warm analogue drums. Another quality release from IIB.
Review: Love Circle returns for a second release, digging deep into the misty past of golden era disco and finding rare gold for the reissue market to rejoice at. This time it's the work of Barry Blue and two projects he produced in the early 80s, lovingly re-edited for maximum dancefloor pleasure by Velvet Season & The Hearts Of Gold (aka gerry Rooney and Joel Martin). First up is surefire party starter "Breakin In" by Javaroo, and on the flip it's low down seduction workout "Love The Way You Love Me" by Marti Cane getting a fresh airing for all vintage-minded dancers and DJs.
Review: The mysterious Shelved Recordings imprint is not your average re-edit label, with the producer behind the series (sometime Ruf Kutz and Magic Wand contributor Andi Hanley) focusing not on disco, but rather the more Balearic side of 1980s pop. The label's second outing - which is being released in two parts - begins with a hazy, sun-kissed version of what sounds like a little-known Japanese Balearic-pop masterpiece, where dewy-eyed female vocals rise above a slo-mo groove, marimba style synthesizer motifs and twinkling pianos. Over on side B, "All Night Long" is a suitably chugging, spaced-out take on Godley & Creme's quirky 1981 classic "Babies", while "What?" is a hypnotic, largely instrumental interpretation of The Who's "Eminence Front" that wisely emphasizes the original's most atmospheric elements.
Review: Last month's debut salvo from off-kilter Balearic pop edit imprint Shelved Recordings sold out in record time, so it's likely you'll have to act fast to secure a copy of this speedy follow-up. Editor Andi Handley gets things going via the blissful bubbles of "Up and Down", where sustained synthesizer chords and meandering melodies stretch out across a sparse electronic rhythm, before diving even deeper into delay-laden slow-motion synth-pop pastures on the tactile and emotive drowsiness of "Stop Me". Best of all, though, is extended flipside edit "What Are You Fighting For", a typically dubby and on-point revision of an arpeggio-driven, guitar-laden alternative pop/post-punk cut by Marianne Faithfull.
Review: Who can deny anything Roy Ayers, really? Japanese pianist and electronic music producer Kan Sano reworks the American soul, funk and jazz legend's infamous hit "Everybody Loves The Sunshine". He breaks down the sugar-dusted original into something freeform, downtempo and acid jazz leaning, while on the flip, "Music Overflow", sounds exactly like a production you would make after being inspired by sunshine, soul, Roy Ayers and a room full of drum machines and synthesisers.
Review: For the latest release on the weird and wonderful Udacha label, Moscow based artist and producer Vasiliy Stepanov aka P SH steps up to the plate. With a selection of abstract and warped electronics, the Russian artists presents a wide variations of cuts, including pop, dub, soul, fourth world, tribal, comedic and all other distinctive and magical vibes. With highlight tracks such as Naam Drops, Indigo Swamp and pretty much every composition, the LP should appeal to all the lovers of the other dimensions
Review: It's been ticking on three years since Cate Le Bon gave us Crab Day, the Welsh singer-songwriter's third album before now. With horns very much a focal point in Le Bon's unique sound throughout the album, it's their fusion with synths that really accent their impact. Breezy, post-90s jazz numbers that nudge at memories of shoegaze and The Cranberries make their way into early sections of the album too, with playful French pop gestures finding their way through motifs of art rock and New Yorkian post punk and new wave. Given a slighty different slant as it's sung through a welsh guise, Le Bon's ability to carry celtic-like themes through her music furthermore adds to a subtle mysticism in her sound that's playful and bluesy with a folk touch.
Review: Unpredictable Dublin label maintain their capacity to surprise here, digging into the vaults of Ethiopian funk mob to reissue their 1984 accidental houser "Kalatashew Waga". Originating from the sole Admas album, Sons of Ethiopia, "Kalatashew Waga" has grown into something of a cult player amongst the more considered selectors over the years and gets pressed up for 12" by Major Problems replete with a fresh remastering job from the master Thomas P. Heckmann. Fans of the gliding style of lo-fi boogie PPU specialise in will love this track. Complementing the original, Major Problems have scored a brand new remix from long term Admas fan Andras Fox that brushes the track with some soft-hued new age bliss.
Review: Elaine Kibaro is a French singer who grew up in Tunisia before enjoying a reasonably productive career in the late 70s and through the 80s. Emotional Rescue caught on to her fine contributions to the disco world via the Pour L'Amour collection, and now they offer up a pair of alternative cuts that add to the overall legacy of her career peak. "Fajrann" is a re-vocalled version of Kibaro's biggest hit "Aurore" sung in Arabic, speaking to her Tunisian roots, while "Ne Doute Pas" appears in its instrumental form for those who want the punchy Linn Drum beats and dazzling synth lines in all their glory.
Review: Emotional Rescue again delves in the world of private pressings, with a reissue of British electronic pop meets proto-House duo 4AM. With copies of their self titled album now highly sought after, this timely reissue presents two of their songs as a stand alone 7".
Consisting of multi-instrumentalist Steve Kirby - piano, guitar, bass, programming - and vocalist Kevin Finch, 4AM came together after youths filled with a love of music. Following a string of band attempts, Steve dived in to the world of midi, allowing him to build a studio set up and play solo. A meeting with new work colleague Kevin quickly developed to joining forces to expand on his early demos.
Their melodic, dance-influenced pop draws on a love of Japan, OMD and The The, but also ECM jazz and a touch of "white boy soul". The TR-808 drum and hi-hats, string stabs and random acid squelches - although no TR-303 was used - highlights the influence the nascent House sounds emanating from the "second summer of love" of 1988 / 89 had in their music melting pot.
Over this, personal lyrics flow, full of honest emotions and a touch of youthful naivety thrown in - of relationships, love, sex and passions. Intended as a personal artifact, the original album was released in 1990 with no promotion or live shows and has taken until now, some 30 years, to find a cult audience. I want you with a Passion.
Review: If you're new to the Alex Giannascoli's world then make yourself comfortable - chances are, like us, you'll be here for a while. There are so many tangents, threads and stylistic shifts of shape it's possible to dive into his back catalogue and spend years never getting bored. It's now far quicker to understand what we're talking about, though, thanks to his latest album. There are multiple personalities at play here than you'd think could be coherent, but coherent this record is. Opener "Walk Away" sounds like an overview of the whole thing - growing from desperate cry into a grandiose, captivating thing of real beauty via reversed-out backing track and looped lyrics. All very Beta Band. From there we're locked-in, through the shimmering melodies of "Taking" to "Sugar"'s deep, tense atmospheric crescendos and vocoders. Ending on the stunning brass-accented blues rock of "SugarHouse (Live)", it's as complete a record as you could ask for.
Review: God bless Metronomy. Pioneers of a dance-indie crossover that was less garish and day-glow hued than the Nu Rave movement dominant back then. Their sixth full-length comes in the 10th anniversary year of their first, and proves the band have grown and fine-tuned, rather than got lost and forgotten why they came out to begin with. Despite clear development, though, the spirit of that inaugural effort is still here, and arguably in more generous helpings than any outing between then and now. Equal parts playful and earnest, there's plenty here to fall in love with. Single-worthy outings like the bouncy, floor-filler "Salted Caramel Ice Cream" and the appropriately titled pairing "Wedding" and "Wedding Bells" are confident and big room sounding. "The Light" veers into dubbier, more introverted directions, whereas "Upset My Girlfriend" shows them at their most heart-achingly beautiful and human. Exquisite, as usual.
Review: Alexis Georgopoulos and Jefre Cantu-Ledesma's Fragments Of A Season was one of the highlights of Emotional Response's output in 2017, centred around blissful, Balearic instrumentation that shone a spotlight on the considerable talents of these accomplished artists. Now the label is revisiting the material with a couple of finely selected versions, the first coming from Emotional regulars Woo, who dutifully inject "Marine" with their effervescent, otherworldly expressions and create a glistening masterpiece in the process. Felicia Atkinson then tackles "AA Cleo" and sends it out onto the horizon in a haze of reverb romanticism, muffled percussive rumbles and murmuring vocals.
Review: Emotional Response welcome Detroit's Fuxa to the label with a mini-album that takes their trademark pyschedelic guitar and synth instrumental rock and showcases the more spiritual and ethereal creativity running within. Specially curated from Fuxa's two recent digital only albums - "Dirty D" and "Frequencies for Physical, Mental and Spiritual Healing" - this special 8 track selection sees each album represented on one side of vinyl. Highlighting band leader Randall Neimann's talent, a mastery of the studio that creates a wall of (mellow) sound that envelops and encases in equal measure. While very much Randall's band, the colloborative nature of the project sees numurous artists appear, with members from Mazzy Star, Add N To (X), Dean & Britta, Spiritualized and founding member Ryan Anderson all providing willing support to seek his primal sound. Noteworthy too is his first appearance as lead vocalist. It is the uplifting to hear his voice on the celebratory Shout Out Loud, the paean of Dream (Don't Give Up) and finally the blissedout-surf-psychedelia of Amen. Dirty Frequencies is a welcome departure for the label, a pyschedelic turn in the mold of the Nick Nicely (ERS005) release, but all the better for it because these sounds and ideas deserve to be heard. An inner trip yes, but really a celebration of the deeper part of the soul - a way to connect.
Review: With recent releases for Internasjonal and Tim Sweeney's Beats In Space Records, Los Angeles based producer Secret Circuit (otherwise known as Eddie Ruscha) has had a breakthrough year with his brittle synth jams, taking inspiration from Balearic disco and minimal wave alike. However, he's been a prolific producer since 1996, and this record on Emotional Response, entitled Tropical Psychedelics, collects productions from Rusha up until 2010 that have previously only seen the light of day on cassette releases. Described by the label as a "Balearic-Tropical-Afro-Psychedelic whirl", the album packs a rich palette of analogue textures into its ten tracks, from the Afro dub of "Afrobotics", through the hazy, beatless combination of piano and analogue synth on "Psouvenirs" to the psychedelic tropicalia of "Foggy Twilights".
Review: The legendary Dead Can Dance return with their first studio album in six years! Coming from a school of Australian music pioneers that include Severed Heads and Essendon Airport among their class, this latest missive sees the duo maintain their psychedelic, exotic and mystic sound, with hints of witchcraft and ritualisms eternally abound. The album pays homage to Dionysus, Greek God of wine, fertility and religious ecstasy, and naturally the album oozes these qualities itself. Across the LP Brendan Perry plys his hand to a mass of instruments heard as otherworldly to the west, with a specific set stemming from the Balkans with an ensemble use of zournas, gadulkas and gaidas. Meanwhile Lisa Gerrad's exquisite voice remains as haunting as it ever was, be up front in the mix or lurking amongst the album's lush atmospheres. The Dead Can Still Dance.
Review: Given that Balearic Gabba Sound System are big fans of Walter Del Vecchio's work under the Quiroga alias, it's little surprise to find him popping up on the Hell Yeah label they call home. Like many Napoli-based producers, Del Verchio is a master at joining the dots between languid, synth-heavy Balearica, pitched-down deep house, and the kind of kaleidoscopic electronics that were once the backbone of Italy's dream house movement. All of these elements can be found on superb A-side "Viaggio A Tulum", alongside some blissfully brilliant electric piano flourishes. On the flip, he slows things down to a mind-altering pace on the dubbed-out acid trip-hop of "Non Dire Notte" and presses the button marked "drowsy ambient" on "Prati Bagnati" and closer "Bava".
Review: Is It Balearic releases a debut EP from Clandestino's Joe Morris. 4 tracks of lush electronic grooves. The title track Golden Tides is a mid tempo houser with beautiful pads and soft arpeggios. Late afternoon sundowner vibrations. The second track Bayou has touches of Sueno Latino about it., an afterdark evocative tropical house trip. On the flip the first track Light Of The Moon is a more reflective slo mo affair. Warm pads and 808 sounds melting into cicadas. Finally we come to Mpondo Theme. Sounds of nature , Kalimba and loose percussion all sit together and watch the sun dip over the savannah horizon. A proper EP this covering all shades.
Review: Emergent duo Broken Arrows were previously spotted lurking around Giallo Disco back in 2015, so you should have some idea of the kind of lurid late night machine sleaze they like to get their hands dirty with. They've now slid over to the sympathetic but marginally more techno-minded Vivod imprint with a new clutch of deviant heaters for those adventurous dancefloor spaces where B-movie sounds reign supreme. "Female Predator" is a tough EBM-tinted workout with plenty of jack in its stack, while "Fear Eats The Soul" takes a more synth-wave approach with some speech samples thrown in for good measure. "Edge Of Darkness" is a more tense affair that pings arpeggios around a minor key refrain, and then "Basic Structure" whips out the hardest track on the record, a lithe industrial stomper laden with rhythmic noise and a mean synth bassline that will hit your solar plexus like a battering ram.
Review: REPRESS ALERT: Uzuri can always be trusted as an on-point barometer of the strongest currents in contemporary deep house, and here they welcome a new talent into their midst in the form of Panama Keys. "Panamarama" is a gorgeous suite of organic instrumentation, all Spanish guitar licks and pattering bongos, which then get handed over to the mighty Joe Clausell for the soaring, energised "Harvest Remix". "Vyrgin Island" may well be the stand-out track on the record with its infectious flute lines, chiming vibes and sensual, punchy bassline, but don't overlook the blissful ambience of final vignette "Flying Whiles".