Review: After Hamid kicked off the H+ label last year he returns with an intriguing double pack that draws on a wide variety of collaborators to turn out some truly innovative leftfield house music sounds. There's an overarching theme of micro house hovering around Methods For The Madness Vol 1, but it's far from run of the mill stuff. The opening cut featuring Josh Tweek is a sparkling, swinging affair that piles on the funk and the delirious effects, while Jesse Morrison's own turn on the closing track winds up in a haunting, abstract slice of refined reduction.
Review: With a story intrinsically woven into the fabric of the Deep Explorer catalogue, Leo Gunn presents his debut album in a sultry haze of natural, heartfelt deep house with all the soul the genre has to offer. The LP begins in a laconic fashion with the slow-ticking "Leo & Leo Jr" before "Journey Inwards" presents a more focused kind of track for steady warm ups and hazy mornings. "Digital vs MIDI" is equally a subtle kind of party starter with its solid rhythmic foundation and "Home Base" fixes its gaze on a more lively time of night, but here and throughout the mood is predominantly mellow, as it should be with a release on Deep Explorer.
Review: Planet Mu has long been celebrated as a genuine source of musical surprises, but even by their standards John Wizards, the debut album from the South African/Rwandan duo of the same name, is a bolt from the blue. Gloriously, it is near impossible to pigeonhole (or even accurately describe), offering a kaleidoscopic, near tropical fusion of gorgeous African pop, skewed electronica, traditional African songwriting, bright juju guitars, wonky British indie-pop, tactile R&B and loads more besides. That it not only makes sense but sounds great, too, confirms that these guys are a major talent. Recommended.
Review: Dutch producer Larry De Kat is finally back for the first time this year with a new clutch of off-kilter house treatments for the playful DJ to delight in. After the cat-tastic intro, "Moving Fingaz" lays out some choice keys and dusty, shuffling drums, while "7DJ" places everything on an impeccable shuffling minimal house beat. There's some offbeat disco reductions at work on "Insecure," and "Trapped" slows things down to a half step stagger for dubwise heads and boogie cruisers to get loose to. Whatever your persuasion, there's something for everyone on this rich and varied 12".
Review: Moscow's Isaiah Tapes are also the guys behind the great Baptismo Alpinismo and Longlife Python sub labels, which are doing great things at the moment. Next up for the label is Charles Torris aka Le Matin, who after a bunch cassette only releases over the past few years releases his first full length. The LP album's six tracks and accompanying bonus CD traverse the galaxy of lowdown smack electro; reminiscent of Dopplereffekt like on "Ma Voisine La Pute" or "Yeah", wacky modular synth improvisation as heard on the charmingly titled "Cat Vomit" or deeply sublime minimal techno as heard on "M05 Michel Platini". Brilliant album from start to finish. Tip!
Review: Former Evangelista member Dominic Cramp first made waves as Lord Tang with 2012's Hello, an eccentric but inspired debut album of quirky electronica on Gigante Sound. Butterflies is his first album since, following a couple of dub influenced 12" singles, and contains 12 more hard-to-pigeonhole explorations. Occasionally dreamy, sometimes sparse, and often odd, Cramp's tracks draw influence from many styles and artists - experimental electronica, drone, dub, Autechre, the Radiophonic Workshop, grime, Chris Watson style field recordings and deep space ambient - but always sound distinctive. This spacey, weird and trippy sound soup more often than not results in thrilling music, making Butterflies an exciting proposition.
Stanislav Tolkachev - "While You Are Drawing A Butterfly" (2:10)
Hoavi - "Aya Horizon" (3:57)
Review: Crimean label Krym Mryk returns with its sophomore release: a Various Artists collection putting the spotlight on several top musicians from Russia and Ukraine as well as a few newcomers to the scene. Highlights come fast and thick throughout; we're particularly loving the grinding cyclicality of Rim Menko's "Illusion", beatless yet hypnotic arpeggio workouts ("Amb Day Out" and "November Bad") by Pavel Milyakov (Buttechno), man of the hour Stanislav Tolkachev with slow-mo entrancer "While You Are Drawing A Butterfly" and Hoavi's "Aya Horizon", which closes the LP with its sublime ambience.
Review: It's not hard to admire the sheer bloody-mindedness that drives Tadd Mullinix's label venture, Bopside. In between the recent Charles Manier album and the upcoming JTC long-player - a contender for house album of the year - comes Skein. Produced under his birth name, it's a deeply experimental three-tracker. The title track is a succession of screeches, howls and white noise blasts, while "Hadopelagic Chime" sees the US producer map out a series of soundscapes against a low tempo backdrop. Closing track "Bridge Out" is a succession of abstract clatters, noisy interference and scattered dissected FX. God knows what demographic Mullinix is hoping to a appeal to - if any.
Review: As this collection on Ale Natalizia's Ecstatic proves, Gavin Russom's experiments with the far out reaches of electronic music dates back to the mid-'90s. Russom is perhaps best placed to explain the context: "Arriving in New York City I found myself surrounded by an incredibly intense field of stuff to take in; late night radio mixes which featured distinctly New York sounds like freestyle and hip hop, clubs where house, techno and jungle played to drugged-out and/or completely sober sweaty crowds and beard scratchers alike, no wave, new wave, disco, afro-Caribbean, art rock and experimental music records I would pick up at thrift shops or used record stores." This is clearly heard throughout Source Cognitive Eyes, a compilation of sonic sketches recorded between 1996 and 1998 which waves no faithfulness to any one genre of style. Instead, Russom paints a wild and distorted picture, one that has been replicated these days through labels like LIES or The Trilogy Tapes. This is cutting-edge gear for the time it was recorded, and it's no surprise that it is only now that Russom has been brave enough to resurrect the tapes.