Review: On his second album titled Siku, Ecuadorian producer Nicola Cruz continues his exploration into ancestral Latin American cosmology, as well as expanding his vision towards new stories and other cultures as sources of inspiration. The title is named after a wind instrument of Andean origin, highly symbolic in ancestral rituals. Cruz merges electronic and organic elements with symbolic/spiritual connotations, plus studies of the samba, cumbia and rhythms of African, Andean and Hindu origin. Hypnotic electronica merges with the folkloric on the title track and "Senor De Las Piedras", traditional music is respectfully explored on charming vocal-led tracks like "Hacia Delante" (with Chato) and he goes deep into the jungle on exotic journeys like "Obsidiana".
Review: One of the most sensual and passionate dances. In South America, tango is, as it were, part of the daily menu, to be imbibed with potent beverages. Tango Bar presents this concoction of fiery music in sophisticated bar surroundings. As always in the Bar series: nice digipak at a great price!
Christopher Cross - "Ride Like The Wind" (Joey Negro extended disco mix)
Thelma Houston - "I'm Here Again" (Joey Negro Ready To Roll mix)
Grace Jones - "Pull Up To The Bumper" (Joey Negro Bumper To Bumper mix)
Cheryl Lynn - "You Saved My Day" (Joey Negro Tell The World mix)
Willie Hutch - "Brother's Gonna Work It Out" (Joey Negro Return Of The Mac mix)
Norman Connors - "Stella" (Joey Negro Jazz Ride)
Jean Carn - "Time Waits For No One" (Joey Negro extended disco mix)
Loose Change - "Straight From The Heart" (Joey Negro Straight To The Groove mix)
Wanda Walden - "Don't You Want My Lovin'" (Joey Negro Back To 81 mix)
People's Choice - "Here We Go Again" (Joey Negro Philly Stomp mix)
Review: With the possible exception of The Reflex, no other producer can match the multi-track re-edits and remixes delivered by house maestro and long-time disco digger Dave 'Joey Negro' Lee. Having laid down a marker with 2013's Remixed With Love, the veteran producer has decided to emphasize his credentials with this similarly superb follow-up. Over the course of two action-packed discs, Lee skillfully re-arranges 20 disco and boogie favourites, using the inherent swing, funk and energy of his source material to create superb, dancefloor-friendly tweaks. Amongst the well-known cuts - think "Pull Up To The Bumper", "Keep The Fire Burning" and "Brothers Gonna Work It Out" - you'll also find sublimely soulful rearrangements of overlooked cuts from Nicolette Larson, Cheryl Lynn and Norman Connors.
Crystal Clear - "(Caught Between) A Rock & A Hard Place"
Joanne Ellis - "Bye Baby"
King David - "Trinidad Rock"
Don & Oli - "Superman" (Sean P edit)
BBRA - "Do What Make You Feel Good"
George & Glen Miller - "Easing"
HE3 Project - "Thesis On Love"
Fruitcake - "We Are Children"
Plunky & Oneness Of Ju Ju - "Electric Juju Nation/Keep It Moving"
Ed Watson & The Brass Circle - "Roforofo Fight"
Jimmy Spencer - "Summertime"
Les Femmes - "Yes, You Thrill Me"
Nostromo - "Around The World In 80 Seconds" (Sean P edit)
The Coalition - "Where Do We Go From Here"
Bobby Cash Redd - "Skate-Party People" (Sean P edit)
Medina & Mensah - "Kowree Sambazzi"
Natural Hi - "Fame" (Hi remix)
Yeow - "Give My Heart Away"
The Mark IV - "If You Can't Tell Me Something Good"
JP Robinson - "Y'Shua"
Sandy Mercer - "Give Me Your Love"
The Love Bite - "What Goes Up"
World Quake Band - "On The One"
The Stars - "(We Are The) Stars"
William C Brown III - "Come On & Go With Me"
Starship Gilbey - "Take A Train"
Darlene Davis - "Making It" (Sean P edit)
Review: Z Records' Under The Influence series, which peeks into the formative inspirations of notable crate diggers, is rarely less than essential. This fifth installment, from disco specialist Sean P, is, if anything, even better than its' predecessors. The veteran Londoner has opted to steer clear of obvious favourites, instead packing the two discs with killer rarities and lesser-known gems. Highlights come thick and fast throughout, from the breezy disco-soul chunkiness of Joanne Ellis's "Bye Baby", and thrillingly sweaty Caribbean disco madness of Sean P's own edit of Don & Oli's "Superman", to the slick, synth-heavy boogie shuffle of Les Femmes' "Yes You Thrill Me", and the sax-laden sleaziness of Starship Gibley's break-diggin' favourite "Take A Train".
Synergy - "More People Than Me" (feat Donnell Pitman)
Al "Man" Muntzie & The Embraceables - "We Are Steady Rockin'"
Are & Be - "If There Is No Struggle" (long version)
Juice - "Mercy On Me"
The GT's - "Let's Do It Together"
Eklips - "My Love"
Ms Victoria Barnes - "Never Too Late" (disco version)
The Olympics - "Do You Like It"
Suave - "Salsa Gon Gitcha"
The Rappers - "Funky Juice" (part 1)
Review: It would be fair to say that Winston is nowhere near as well known as some of the record collectors who've compiled volumes in the "Under The Influence" series (think Nick The Record, Sean P and Red Greg), but it seems his crates are every bit as deep. Check, for example, the unashamedly celebratory, slap-bass propelled disco-funk of Doug Payne and Polygon's "Holiday", the heady, high-octane disco thrills of Expose's "I Just Wanna Dance With You", the low-slung early funk-rap headiness of Jungle Band's "Jungleland (Part 2)" and the wickedly percussive salsa-disco heaviness of Suave's "Salsa Gon Gitcha". In other words, it's a killer collection of top-notch cuts that you'll never have heard before. What's not to like?
Tony Antoniou - "Send In The Night" (instrumental mix)
Spats - "Hot Summer Madness"
Banzai - "Runaway"
Review: For the latest volume in their crate-digging disco series, Under The Influence, Z Records has turned to long-serving British brothers Simon and Robin Lee AKA Faze Action. In keeping with the series' dusty-fingered ethos, there's plenty of brilliant rarities to set the pulse racing - see the smooth '80s boogie of Leston Paul's "All Nite Tonight", the sublime Afro-disco brilliance of Bebe Manga, the up-tempo hustle of Oscar Perry's "Body Movements" and the South American disco swirl of Don Lurio's "Ruba Ruba" - as well as a smattering of obscure versions of classic dancefloor hits (check Michele Claire's version of "In The Bush"). You'll also find a smattering of killer Faze Action edits, too, with their version of Midway's "Set It Out" and Mikki's freestyle-era boogie ham "Dance Lover" standing out.
Review: Many artists mellow with age. That's certainly the case with Sven Van Hees, a Belgian producer who started his career making tribal techno in the 1990s before slowly edging more towards a lazy, sun-kissed downtempo sound. It's that gorgeously warm and summery sound he explores on "Svensei", a veritable saucer-eyed stroll through languid Balearic beats, simmering slo-mo soul, gently jazzy grooves, tropical dub flavours and the kind of fragrant, thickset soundscapes that were once a staple of the mid '90s chill-out scene. In other words, it's the sort of toasty, mood-enhancing set that's capable of enhancing your mood even after the most testing of days.
I Know There's Gonna Be (Good Times) (feat Young Thug & Popcaan)
The Rest Is Noise
Review: In Colour is of course the long awaited debut solo album from The xx's in-house knob twiddler Jamie 'xx' Smith, arriving through regular home Young Turks backed with a whole host of guest appearances. The more obsessive Jamie xx fans out there (of which we wager there are many) will no doubt already have burned out their laptops and retinas basking in the all too colourful pre-release streams of In Colour, but it's always nice to grip an album in your hands. The eleven tracks on In Colours come across like a low key ode to the rave from Jamie and pals, with Four Tet, Romy & Oli xx, Young Thug and Popcaan featuring, and yes there is also plenty of steel pan. "Hold Tight", which sounds like Jamie's attempt at forest techno, is a definite highlight!
Review: Having previously worked with SBTRKT, Kanye West, Drake, Jesse Ware and Frank Ocean, amongst others, Sampha is no newcomer. This, though, is the British singer, songwriter and producer's debut album, and it's something of an understated gem. One particularly enthusiastic reviewer called it "an R&B album for the ages"; while that may be pushing it a bit, there's no denying that Process is an impressive collection of tracks. The beats are inventive, the electronics crisp, the samples carefully chosen, and the musical touches pitched just right. At the centre of it all stands Sampha, delivering thoughtful, heartfelt and sometimes poignant lyrics in his wonderfully evocative voice.
Review: There's a growing feeling both inside and outside jazz that Kamasi Washington could well turn out to be one of the style's all-time greats. He's certainly making all the right moves, delivering thought-provoking concept albums of eyebrow-raising length that simply refuse to settle on one sound, rhythm, style or sub-genre. Heaven & Earth, his first album for almost three years, continues this trend, comprising angry instrumental answers to America's growing issues with class division and racism, Rotary Connection style workouts, Sun Ra-esque spiritual workouts, funk and soul-influenced burners, spiraling choral and orchestral affairs, and electric fusions of rubbery synth-funk and mind-altering jazz-blues. Typically, the results are never less than sublime, with Washington's virtuoso saxophone playing taking centre stage throughout.
Review: Since 2016, Stockholm outfit Viagra Boys has offered up a swathe of singles that excitedly veer between heavy post-punk, krautrock and angry, riff-powered alternative rock. "Street Worms", their debut album, boasts the same swaggering, lo-fi approach as their previous singles, zipping between the fuzz-fuelled dancefloor stomp of "Amphetanarchy", the growling riffs and razor-sharp solos of "Shrimp Shack", the mangled sax solos, bellowed vocals and tempo-changing insanity of "Sports" and the low-slung brilliance of "Slow Learner", which boasts far more funk than much of the rest of the album put together. This CD edition includes a quintet of bonus cuts, with the skewed Americana-80s alt-rock fusion of "Beijing Taxi" and throbbing "Special Helmet" standing out.
Review: When The Prodigy's The Fat of The Land first appeared back in 1997, it captured the mood of the times. By blending the psychedelic obsession of the Chemical Brothers and the rock-obsessed rhythms of big beat with their usual rave-influenced nastiness, Liam Howlett and company blew the competition out of the water. Almost overnight, they became international dance music's most in-demand live act. 15 years on, the album's lost none of its sparkle. This celebratory edition presents the remastered album in full, alongside a sextet of remixes. While they don't all hit the mark, Major Lazer and Noisia's booming reworks of "Smack My Bitch Up" are pretty darn tasty.
Scott Garcia X Kurupt FM - "It's A Kuruption Ting"
Sunship - "Try Me Out (Let Me Lick It)"
DJ Zinc - "138 Trek"
Wookie - "Down On Me"
DJ Luck & MC Neat - "A Little Bit Of Luck"
DJ Dee Kline - "I Don't Smoke"
Agent X - "Decoy"
SIA - "Little Man" (Exemen remix)
Youngstar - "Pulse X"
Ross Young & RB - "Smooth Operator" (Kurupt FM remix)
One Waz Nice - "Messin Around" (Wideboys remix)
E.S Dubs - "Standard Hoodlum Issue"
Kurupt FM - "Suttin Like That"
XTC - "Functions On The Low"
Breakage - "Hard" (feat Newham Generals & David Rodigan - Kurupt FM dubplate)
Wiley - "Eskimo"
Jon E Cash - "Cash Beat AKA : Hoods-Up-Dub"
Cage & Danny Weed - "Creeper"
Dizee Rascal - "Ho"
Platinum 45 - "Oi" (feat More Fire Crew)
Wiley - "Igloo"
Jammin - "Go D"
Kurupt FM - "Get Out The Way" (Spooky remix - bonus track)
Review: Brentford's finest pirate radio crew turned BBC sitcom stars have finally made it onto CD. For those familiar with the ebb and flow of their acclaimed People Just Do Nothing series, The Lost Tape is something of a treat. Presented as a non-step Korupt FM broadcast complete with Chabuddy G intro, skewed Steves mixing and rhymes from Grindah and DJ Beats, it's a memorable romp through the history of British garage and grime with a few exclusives and never-before-heard tracks thrown in. Stylistically, it's eerily reminiscent of many pirate radio mixtapes from back-in-the-day - which, of course, is the idea - but with the added bonus of laugh-out-loud moments amongst the scene anthems from Sunship, Wookie, DJ Zinc, Youngstar, Wiley, Dizzee and the boys themselves.
Review: Boarding House Reach is the third solo album from Jack White, a man who really should need no introduction by now. Where 2014's 'Lazaretto' was a cohesive and indulgent gothic collage of country, soul, Americana and rock, 'Boarding House Reach' sees White ambitiously add layers of hip-hop, experimental and electronic influences. Twists and turns come thick and fast, from the fuzzy organ soul of 'Why Walk A Dog?', the poetic preacherman monologue of 'Abulia and Akrasia', the jittery and crunchy hip-hop 'Ice Station Zebra' to the stunningly laid-bare folk and wrought piano chords of closing track 'Humoresque'. This breadth of sounds makes the album compelling and unpredictable from start to finish, and a fascinating addition to Jack White's juggernaut of a discography.
Review: Given his innate ability to craft intensely atmospheric and often fundamentally unsettling music, it seems apt that Thom Yorke has finally got around to producing a film soundtrack. It's fitting, too, that said soundtrack is for Luca Guadagnino's weirdo remake of 1977 Italian horror flick "Suspiria". Yorke nails the brief, delivering a string of chilling, otherworldly instrumentals that not only draw on his well-established love of dark ambient and gruesome electronica, but also foreboding neo-classical movements and sparse, wide-eyed arrangements. There are a smattering of superb vocal moments, too, with recent single "Suspirio" - described by one broadsheet reviewer as "the saddest waltz you'll ever here" - standing out.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief (4:38)
True Love Waits (5:08)
Review: There was naturally much excitement when A Moon Shaped Pool, Radiohead's surprise ninth studio set, popped up on streaming and download services back in May. Here it gets a CD release, offering those who prefer physical products a chance to bathe in its' woozy eccentricities. Seen by some as a return to their arty rock roots following an extended period spend exploring electronics, the album's 11 tracks draw on a variety of influences (krautrock, ambient, Pavement, James Blake, Stockhausen, intense melancholia etc.), with predictably impressive results. Occasionally elegant, string-laden and grandiose, always beautiful, and sometimes intensely moving, A Moon Shaped Pool is undeniably up there with the band's best work.
Review: When he originally released his second solo album, Tomorrow's Modern Boxes, in 2014, Thom Yorke only made it available as a download via BitTorrent. The paid-for package proved popular, with over a million listeners scrambling to download it in the first week of release. Here it finally gets a physical release (a limited Japanese pressing in 2015 not withstanding). The album is naturally typical of much of Yorke's solo work, blending his fragile and dinstinctive vocals with heart-aching piano motifs, crunchy electronics beats and all manner of weird and wonderful sonic textures. Early reviews stated that it was Yorke's most challenging work to date, but one that just gets better with every listen. That remains a perfect summary of an alluring and deliciously odd collection of tracks.
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: Following the runaway success of their Mercury Music Prize nominated 2014 debut album, Jungle moved to Los Angeles to record the follow-up. It didn't work out for a variety of musical and personal reasons, so they headed back to London and recorded "For Ever" instead. While some of the lyrics reflect on their musical and personal issues during that time, the resultant songs are as soulful, polished and jaunty as you'd expect. Check, for example, the sun-kissed disco-pop of "Heavy California", the sumptuous lo-fi soul shuffle of "Cherry", the head-nodding grooves and lyrical melancholy of "Happy Man" and the grandiose, bittersweet brilliance of "House In LA".
Venus Covers Mars (Antoni- Maiovvi remix - bonus track)
Under The Red (Leather Strip remix - bonus track)
All You Can Eat (Ant People remix - bonus track)
Review: Synth pop veterans Boytronic - well known for hit single "You" but also for honing their sound at sex shows in Hamburg's red light district - are back after a ten year hiatus. After several personnel changes over the years, the latest line-up features old and new vocalists in Holger Wobker and James Knights respectively, and it could be the first time ever that a replacement and their predecessor have worked together on the same record. Importantly, they work well together, with plenty of 80s influences looming large over a wealth of danceable beats, tinny chords and woodpecker fills.
Review: Swiss label WRWTFWW has scored something of a coup here, securing the rights to release two near mythical film soundtracks by legendary experimentalist composer and music concrete artist Bernard Parmegiani. The soundtracks themselves - together on one CD after recently appearing on separate vinyl albums in very limited quantities - were originally composed for a pair of experimental films (1972's "Les Soleils de L'Ike de Paque" and 1965's "La Brulure de Mille Soleils") whose hallucinatory approach to cinematography offered Parmegiani a chance to let his imagination run wild. The results are predictably out-there and inspired, sitting somewhere between the Radiophonic Workshop, Stockhausen and the cutting-edge pioneering electronica of American composer Morton Subotnick.
Review: Back in the mid 1980s, Jun Fukamachi decided to establish his own label, Nicole. It didn't last very long. In fact, the imprint only ever put out one record: a promo-only collection of untitled instrumentals called '86 Spring & Summer Collection: Instrumental Images. Here, that hard-to-find set gets reissued on CD for the very first time. Heavily influenced by mid-1980s film and TV soundtracks, contemporaneous new age ambient and expressive experimental jazz, the synthesizer and drum machine heavy collection sounds like it was designed to showcase Fukamachi's library music credentials. Crucially, though, it contains some superb, life-affirming compositions that should thrill those who have been enjoying the previous reissues of both WRWTFWW and Holland's Music From Memory.
Review: Having previously served up new editions of a number of Midori Takada's solo albums, Swiss reissue specialists WRWTFWW have now turned their attention to her earlier work as part of the Mkwaju Ensemble. Ki-Motion originally appeared on legendary Japanese imprint Better Days way back in 1981, and saw the trio lay down a range of wonderfully breezy, melodious and life-affirming tracks that joined the dots between Glass and Reich style American minimalism, Berlin school ambient, Japanese new age bliss and gentle, proto-type electronica. It's perhaps not as rare or sought-after as some Takada-related releases, but it's still a delightful album: a melodious and sun-kissed affair that sparkles just as much as her sublime solo works.
Review: Second time around for "Lady Maid", a sought after set of minimalist new wave experiments and eccentric electronic collages that was initially released in 1981 on Agi Yuzuru's DIY label Vanity Records. The album was the work of a trio Japanese DIY musicians who were apparently obsessed by speak-and-spell vocals - check the clonking, Kraftwerk-inspired weirdness of "You Are Busy, I am Easy" and smooth, hypnotic "MUSIC" - bubbly drum machine rhythms (the trippy "KE-300") and the kind of abstract weird-outs that recall the halcyon days of Music Concrete. The album's greatest calling card is epic flipside "Fragment", a near 20-minute minimalist synthesizer soundscape that's little less than stunning.
Review: Having previously reissued Mkwaju Ensemble's inspired 1981 debut "Ki-Motion", WRWTFWW now turns its attention to their equally impressive follow-up from the same year, "Mkwaju". Beginning with a breezy chunk of Marimba-driven four-to-the-floor bliss, the album sees the Japanese trio - whose members included legendary percussionist and ambient artist Midori Takada - shuffle between hypnotic, Steve Reich-influenced minimalism ("Shak Shak"), melodious fusions of new age electronica and modern American classical ("Tira-Rin"), and glacial ambient soundscapes ("Pulse In The Mind"). Best of all, though, is "Flash-Back", a dense and intoxicating percussion workout that stretches out over 13 mind-bending minutes.
Review: Over the course of eight albums in only a decade, the remarkably prolific Woods have built up a solid reputation as purveyors of '60s-influenced psych-folk, channeling a spirit as eerie as it is earthy. Yet even their most ardent follower might have wondered when they might take some risks with their trademark sound, which makes 'City Sun Eater In The River Of Light' still more of a tonic for the troops. Taking on influences from reggae, Afrobeat and jazz without sacrificing any of the spooky charm and endearing grit that's elevated them to the higher echelons of psych festivals and bohemian playlists both.
Review: Nev Cottee may hail from Manchester (his former band Proud Mary were the first signing to Noel Gallagher's Sour Mash label) yet his heart and muse seem firmly attached to some outpost in the southern states of America, and the sun-kissed atmosphere and narcotically-enhanced mellifluousness of 'Broken Flowers' will have it taking pride of place in the more enterprising head's collection. Something akin to a Ry Cooder platter enhanced by the production and arrangement nous of Air's 'Virgin Suicides', 'Broken Flowers' is a thing of lazy majesty indeed.
Review: Rising up through the indie boom of the mid-2000s, New York's The Mystery Lights have landed once again to deliver a sound so fresh it may well just be the swinging 60s. Groovy. The raw, strummed guitars of the very indie "I'm So Tired (Of Living In The City)" harks back to a sound that bands like Manfred Mann popularised back in the day, especially when you hear the screaming howls of "Wish That She'd Come Back". It's a soundtrack for a surfer's safari trekking through the desert with a tambourine in hand, searching for that perfect wave, and with the analogue sound of space echos and reverb splashing throughout the album it's a much desired trip for the modern day.
Review: This fourth album by the Cleveland indie-rock troupe shows them honing both their songwriting and the incisive elegance of their sound with style, with mainman Dylan Baldi's introspective vocals married with indelibly poppy melody, surprisingly balls-out attack and impressionistic arrangements. Sounding, now as ever, like Death Cab For Cutie having had an injection of steroids, or New Order if they'd grown up on emo-hardcore records, this understated outfit have delivered their most arresting and addictive effort to date.
Review: Yeah yeah, Cleveland rocks, and of late it's Ohio's Cloud Nothings that, alongside Bone Thugs & Harmony and Nine Inch Nails, are keeping the city on the map as somewhere that still has something in the water. This latest album sees the group elevated to a release on Wichita - think Bloc Party, The Crips and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah among others - and it's the 11-minute "Dissolution", the freeform centerpiece of this album that really impresses. It's a short cry from the experimental rock of At The Drive In/Mars Volta while more emotional numbers like "The Echo Of The World" and "Another Way Of Life" bring to mind bands like Alexisonfire, Thrice and Sparta. If you like your punk with touch of Pennywise and Rancid too, Cloud Nothings set the tone.
Review: Having previously issued Akiko Yano's 1976 debut "Japanese Girl" - an eccentric set of East-West pop fusions marked out by the artist's distinctive vocals - Wewantsounds has returned to raid her vaults once more. "Iroha Ni Konpeitou" first appeared in 1977 and garnered great hype in Japan thanks to the success of its predecessor. It's a similarly eccentric but inspired set, with Yano confidently flitting between synthesizer-heavy instrumental soundscapes (see superb opener "Kawaji"), drowsy country-inspired songs ("A Long Wait"), seductive jazz-funk ("Hourou"), head-nodding reggae-boogie ("Hai Hai Gasa") and breathy, post-soul ballads ("On The Way Home", a song that boasts both pedal steel and synthesizers).
Review: When popular 1950s singer Jaye P Morgan first released this eponymous album in 1976, she would undoubtedly have hoped it would reignite her career. Sadly it didn't, but the album - a curious but hugely enjoyable mix of saccharine, synth-laden slow jams, disco-fired dancefloor workouts, Broadway style torch songs and fuzzy funk - went on to become a cult classic amongst Balearic-minded diggers. As this essential reissue proves, much of the material has aged rather well. Check, for example, the laidback AOR disco chug of "Can't Hide Love", the Barry White style seductiveness of "Here Is Where Your Love Belong" and the spine-tingling rush of Morgan's killer disco cover of Detroit soul staple "You're All I Need To Get By". Don't sleep!
Review: In recent years, demand for copies of Japanese keyboardist Hiroshi Sato's 1979 jazz-funk classic Orient has rocketed. Given that few have the means to pay several hundred pounds for an original vinyl copy, this reissue - the first on CD outside of Japan - is more than welcome. It remains a delightful set, full of fluid and ear-pleasing tracks that variously doff a cap to disco, Brazilian boogie, classic jazz-funk, low slung early electrofunk and the kind of woozy, laid-back soundscapes more associated with early '80s New Age and ambient sets. Naturally, Sato's playing takes centre stage throughout, but the standard of the musicianship elsewhere is incredibly impressive, too. Shigeru Suzuki's guitar playing, in particular, stands out.
Review: Although not that well known in Europe, Akiko Yano's "Japanese Girl" set caused a stir in the Japanese music scene upon its release in 1976, not least because her vocal style was closer to the intonations of breathy American pop than the more "girlish" approach prevalent in J-pop at the time. Here reissued by We Want Sounds, the album remains something of an unusual but brilliant J-pop classic. Its 10 tracks variously draw influence from country music, reggae, blue-eyed soul, jazz-fusion, West Coast rock, folk and traditional Japanese music, without particularly sounding like any of them.
You Can't Miss What You Can't Measure (Alton Miller mix)
Get Your Ass Off & Jam (Marcellus Pittman remix)
Cosmic Slop (Moodymann mix)
Music For My Mother (Andres Wo Ahh Ay vocal mix)
Undisco Kidd (Gay Marvine edit)
Super Stupid (Dirtbombs version)
Take Your Dead Ass Home (The Fantasy version)
Music 4 My Mother (Underground Resistance mix)
Let's Take It To The Stage (Amp Fiddler Laugin @ Ya mix)
Standing On The Verge (Anthony Shake Shakir & T dancer remix)
You & Your Folks (Claude Young Jr club mix)
Be My Beach (Mophno & Tom Thump mix)
You & Your Folks (Claude Young Jr dub)
Let's Make It Last (Kenny Dixon Jr edit - mono)
Looking Back At You (Ectomorph Stripped & dubbed)
Maggot Brain (BMG dub)
Review: Given the brilliantly simple concept behind this fine compilation - contemporary Detroit producers remix Funkadelic - we're rather surprised nobody's done it before. With 17 varied re-rubs stretched across two hugely entertaining CDs, there's plenty to enjoy. Highlights come thick and fast, from the deep house/P-funk fusion of Alton Miller's take on "Get Your Ass Off and Jam" and Andres' loose, hip-hop influenced revision of "Music For My Mother", to the thrusting loops and heady late night hypnotism of Anthony Shake Shakir and T-Dancer's version of "Standing on the Verge". While many of the versions stay relatively faithful to the original, the more "out-there" interpretations - see BMG's outer-space ambient dub of "Maggot Brain" and Moodymann's epic revision of "Cosmic Slop" - are also consistently impressive.
Review: Jaakko Eino Kalevi is a Finnish musician that grew up in Jyvaskyla. He started to release music in 2007 and has gone on recently to play on David Byrne's recent American Utopia album, and in 2016 was invited to join the line-up of cult Belgian new-wave band Aksak Maboul for a run of shows. His first self-titled album on Domino sublabel Weird World back in 2015 was shortlisted for the sixth Nordic Music Prize. For his follow up here, the 34 year old Kalevi explores the concept of living in an age of constant connectivity, and how 'switching off' has become one of the great luxuries. He explores what he calls this 'essential, blissed out' state across this wonderful collection of songs.
Review: It's not just in the album title that Newcastle bard Richard Dawson is ahead of his time. His dark sense of humour and sweaty barroom gig sonics break through the noise, identifying, tackling but not seeking to solve the problems currently facing British society. What could be more post-modern than that? The UK right now is a fractured and somewhat broken island struggling to come to terms with its own place in the modern world. It's also filled with people struggling to come to terms with this reality. Focusing on portraits of those lost souls, it's poignant, cutting and lyrically hard-hitting. A bold and mammoth concept for an album, the instrumentation is even bigger, easing up on the blues and folk of his formative years to allow more room for pop to break through. The result is proof that in times of desperation a nation can at least rely on its artists to offer some hope that all is not completely lost.
Review: With the addition of Sally Pilkington to Hen Ogledd, the band - now three albums young - go from trio to quartet. Hen Ogledd (or 'The Old North' in Welsh) this time around transgress from their acoustic origins and sound heard more-so on Bronze from 2016 to now flirting and experimenting with an electronic tip (nerds may spot that space echo delay) with high and hollering vocal performances still standing out in their indie, synth pop style. Find some Welsh poetry and spoken word on "Gwae Reged o Heddiw" and "Transport & Travel", while elsewhere "Sky Burial" hits those melancholic sweet spots, and it's as if Enya inspirations are in there somewhere. A patchwork of witty, evoquial, sweet intelligence.
Amalouna (feat Noura Mint Seymali, Stephen O'Malley)
Taqkal Tarha (feat Micah Nelson)
Takount (feat Noura Mint Seymali)
Iklam Dglour (feat Warren Ellis & Rodophe Burger)
Kel Tinawen (feat Cass McCombs)
Itous Ohar (feat Cass McCombs)
Mhadjar Yassouf Idjan (feat Warren Ellis)
Wartilla (feat Warren Ellis & Stephen O'Malley)
Review: Malian musicians have a rich history when it comes to turning the world on to organic, mystifying, exotic sounds. A country that - even for Africa - stands out as a hotbed of aural talent, artists hailing from the desert nation never fail to immerse and intoxicate us. Here tracks grow and groove like a hypnotist at work, embracing Western influences, not least psychedelic rock, to produce what might have happened if Jim Morrison went walkabout in the Sahara looking for inspiration. As an album, "Amadjar" is everything that description might make you hope for. Opening on the delicate, spatial guitar plucks of "Tenere Maloulat", you can see the oasis shimmering in the distance through heat vapour. Evocative stuff, from there it only pulls us in deeper into an amalgamation of sounds overflowing with an adventurous atmosphere.
Review: Three cheers for Berlin club institution Watergate, which this month celebrates 15 years of riverside raving in the heart of techno's liveliest city. To celebrate, they've gathered together two CDs worth of previously unreleased tracks from some of their nearest and dearest. Impressive contributions from resident DJs Matthias Meyer, Tiefschwarz, La Fleur, Cinthie and Jimi Jules are joined by equally inspired workouts from producers closely affiliated with the club, including Ellen Allien, Steve Bug, Hyenah (who has delivered some of the best music on Watergate's label in recent times) and Kollektiv Turmstrasse. While naturally rooted in techno, there's plenty of variety to be found throughout (think mutations of tech-house, techno, electronica and ambient), making it a fitting celebration of one of Europe's most iconic nighttime venues.
Review: Pitched somewhere between the gritty, propulsive beats of Los Angeles, and the exploratory jazz of Cosmogramma, Flying Lotus's fourth album, Until The Quiet Comes is arguably the most delicate record he's ever produced. Described as a "collage of mystical states, dreams, sleep and lullabies", it steers away from bigger moments, choosing instead to present an understated patchwork of breezy jazz samples, dusty hip-hop beats smeared vocals seemingly inspired by DMT hallucinations. While previous efforts were wildly futuristic at times, Until The Quiet Comes is confidently classicist - and seals Flying Lotus's position as one of our generation's visionary producers.
Review: Yves Tumor is undoubtedly an artist with a unique musical perspective. That was evident from his 2016 PAN debut, "Serpent's Head", an album of impossible-to-pigeonhole brilliance that drew on a dizzyingly disparate array of styles. Now operating on Warp Records, he continues to mix and match genre boundaries to suit his will on hotly anticipated follow-up "Safe In The Hands of Love". It's another doozy, with the Turin-based artist offering a thrill-a-minute sound soup that flits from pastoral folktronica, experimental IDM and mangled R&B futurism, to wall-of-sound indie-pop, doom-laden orchestral ambient and blissful, hallucinatory dream-pop. While putting Tumor (real name Sean Bowie) in a stylistic box is impossible, we can safely say that he'll soon be joining the top tier of maverick pop experimentalists.
Review: NYC sound artist and Software label boss Daniel Lopatin is back with his eagerly awaited eighth studio album. A self-proclaimed 'cybernetic rock' album influenced by his time touring with Nine Inch nails and Soundgarden in 2014. There's '"Ezra" which reaches near trance moments, the glitchy R&B digitalism of "Sticky Drama" which features a turn, mid track, reaching a level of mayhem comparable to Shapednoise. There is a moment of what we can only describe as 'indie trance' on the psychotic epic "Mutant Standard". Not forgetting the disturbed nu-gaze of "I Bite Through It", a real highlight on here. Commercial music was said to have influenced the album too. "Freaky Eyes" and "Lift" deconstruct pop music via sampling/resampling and loop points, adding Lopatin's own bizarre intricacies on top. He has undoubtedly become known as one of the most unique voices in electronic music today and this is further testament to his standing. Difficult listening for curious ears.
Review: No less than five years since his last mind-busting opus, "You're Dead!", the one and only FlyLo finally returns with a staggering new album. At this point all bets are off as to which direction the visionary beat scene maven will take his stellar sound, and true to form "Flamagra" departs from solid ground quicker than you can shout "lift off". From arrhythmic spirituals to futuristic soul, the Cali man known to his family as Steven Ellison has never sounded freer in his sound. The cast of guest spots is off the charts as well - George Clinton, Little Dragon, Solange, David Lynch and Anderson .Paak are just some of the dazzling talents involved. Need we say more - take a trip once more with one of the 21st century's most visionary producers.
Review: As Warp gears up to celebrate its 30th birthday, it seems fitting that the label should be putting out a fresh album from one of its longest serving artists. As Plaid, Andy Turner and Ed Handley played a significant role in defining the label's approach to electronic music during the "Artificial Intelligence" era in the mid 1990s. All these years on, they're still capable of crafting fizzing, melodious, off-kilter electronic listening music that defies lazy categorization. "Polymer" is a hugely enjoyable and entertaining set, with highlights including the jumpy beats, post-electro melodies and mind-altering acid lines of "Los", the metallic bounce of "Maru" - a kind of twisted take on Afro-tech that's amongst their most club-ready cuts of recent times - and the disturbed, Autechre-style clang of "Recall".
Review: Eight albums in and !!! are still as hard to define than the band's name is difficult to say. They've always managed to resonate with the sound and zeitgeist of the year in which they release, and "Wallop" doesn't differ from that modus. An amalgamation of tones at once uptempo and hedonistic yet brutally damaged, it's an electronic album built in the way the genres it pays homage to originally were - blueprint free. We've got dance-rock crossovers, straight up techno (albeit aimed squarely at non-die-hard-heads) and bouncing broken funk-house hybrids, so what more do you want? "Couldn't Have Known" nods to classic Basement Jaxx. "Domino" takes us down an IDM wormhole, where we meet the aptly titled "Ur Paranoid" and its pulsating intensity. Simultaneously referencing Primal Scream, trip hop, Madchester, whatever that track that set the club off last night was while sounding like none of the above, it's archetypal !!! business.
Review: Daniel Lapotin's recent rise has been remarkable. Further confirmation of his ascent to international IDM star status arrived via a round of recent interviews to promote Age Of, his 13th album, in which he expressed a desire to record soundtracks for Pixar movies and work with A-list R&B stars. Both of these disparate strands are explored on Age Of, alongside his love of fractured pop, intense and otherworldly electronica, and the kind of grainy, metal-influenced noise more often heard on the releases of one of the album's numerous guest musicians, Dominic Fenrow AKA Purient. One review described the set as bein like a "portfolio" and that's a fair comment; Age Of's greatest strength is the way that it shows off all sides of Lapotin's brilliant musical mind.
Review: It's startling to think Bibio has been comfortably nestled on Warp Records for 10 years now. The folk-leaning beatsmith has taken his sound in subtly shifting directions while staying true to his delicate, melodious identity. On this latest album "Ribbons" he's sounding sweeter than ever, twirling up a 60s reverie of finger-picking guitar and tender vocals guaranteed to bring on sunshine, real or imaginary, no matter what time of year you pop it on. There are some more crooked moments to be enjoyed for fans of the more beat-oriented Bibio sound - "Pretty Ribbons & Lovely Flowers" has a wonderful crunch to it, but for the most part it's a treat to get lost in the pastoral reverie of the album's main themes.
Review: After Beady Eye split in 2014, Liam Gallagher appeared conflicted about whether he would pursue a solo career, resolving in 2016 that this year's album was set in stone. Fans of previous work will undoubtedly be contented with solo debut 'As You Were', with it channelling the British pop influence, singalong riffs and the classic anthemic writing that Oasis were famed for. As expected from a Gallagher brother, the album is drenched in hubris, but Liam lets his guard down with surprising and rare moments of what seems to be vulnerability. Aside from the cocky rock and roll swagger, it's these moments that give 'As You Were' a little more depth than people were perhaps expecting.
Review: Following the indignant and charged agenda of 2016's 'Peace Trail', Neil Young has changed tack in releasing this fascinating collection of unheard material. As opposed to his usual polemical protest, 'Hitchhiker' provides refreshing and necessary solace from the increasingly insane zeitgeist. Recorded over one night in 1976 with Young's then-producer David Briggs, this previously unreleased set is thoroughly engaging through its purity and presence. The closeness with which the two worked together is audible through Briggs' intimate production, and this rediscovered gem serves to prove Young's continuing relevance and could provide an engaging introduction to a new generation of fans.