Review: Admas' debut album, Sons of Ethopia, is probably best known for "Kalatashew Waga", a polyrhythm-fuelled chunk of melodious synthesizer funk that was memorably remixed by Andras Fox back in 2015. Here, the in-demand album gets an official reissue for the first time since it first appeared on the obscure African Heritage Records label way back in 1984. The band's unique blend of styles and instruments - think synthesizer-heavy instrumental boogie, electronic Afro-beat, dewy-eyed AOR soul and cheery highlife - remains as alluring and surprising as ever. Given that original copies are almost impossible to find, this is a much-needed reissue.
Review: Irish post-punk band Fontaines D.C only waited 18 months between their debut and this sophomore follow up album. Ot still manages to veer away from what you might expect, with acts like Suicide and The Beach Boys apparently more influential on the writing process than the post-punk outfits you might expect. Still the record features anthems about flirting with self-destruction and gargantuan tunes that have fast and frenetic grooves. Touches of the surrealism they experienced while on a constant and busy tour pervade the album and make it a fine follow up that show the band still have a great knack for writing urgent songs that are both personal yet relatable.
Review: In 2018, the idea was introduced by Jeff Mills to address the lack of artistic collaborations within and from the city of Detroit/USA. The city had always been an engine of new innovative ideas related to music, art, dance, poetry and all other arts. It was thought of as a way to demonstrate the commonality people possess from various art forms and that by mixing ideas visions and perspectives together are might produce unexpected and often provocative results.
The project started when Mills reached out to one of Detroit Techno's founder and legendary DJ/Producer Eddie Fowlkes. Though the two are known and connected to Detroit Techno and knew each other for decades, they never worked together so the first few meetings and conversations were marked with finding all the common links that have built both of their careers. During this time, Mills wanted to find a third person for the project, one that was from Detroit, but not a musician. His idea and theory was that by engaging two other creative thinkers would most likely produce something unique as emotions would become linked together to find that common, but higher level. While browsing the web, Mills discovered a post that featured the Detroit-born poet Jessica Care Moore. Struck by her words and the energy she mastered to say them, Mills knew immediately that she would be the perfect artist to approach for this creative venture. As with most artists that grew up in Detroit, they immediately opened up the links in their past, present and future outlook. He presented the case and explained to her how he thought it might work. She liked the idea and agree to join.
THE CRYSTAL CITY IS ALIVE. (A phrase extracted from Moore's words), puts the Detroit, America and the World on notice. The alarm has sounded and it is now time to mobilize all creative units to the frontline.
Review: Luke Vibert is an ever green sonic inventor who can do whatever he pleases with sound. The latest in a long line of projects with Hypercolour and its associated labels is another gem: Rave Hop mixes up downtempo beats, hip hop and r&b with twisted electronics, rave and techno. It's something that could go horribly wrong in the hands of a lesser producer, but here the fusions are amazingly seamless. "No Competition" is a classic era boom bap tune with lush piano chords, "Styles" sounds like a reworked Slick Rick tune with huge breakbeats and "All Night" is as smooth as silk thanks to a buttery vocals and long legged drums that sink you in deep.
Review: Romare's third album is another exercise in finding the exact sweet spot where happy and sad collide. By now he is something or a master at it and here laces those sorts of sounds with a sense of spirituality, hints of disco, touches of identity and plenty of funk. These more serious influences come as a result of the artist becoming a father, but the album never grows too sentimental (though "Deliverance" sure is a nice adult lullaby.) Elsewhere there is slow acid on "High" and joyous, heartfelt melodic house on "Dreams." Versatile, emotional, dancey - what more could you want?
Review: Whether offering up club-focused Motor City techno, futuristic tech-jazz, bubbly electronica or sofa-bound ambient compositions, John Beltran always wrings the maximum amount of beauty and soul from the machines he uses to make music. He's at it again on "The Season Series", an inspired album of picturesque electronic compositions on Delsin. Variously fusing swelling, almost classical chord sequences, stirring melodic refrains, effects-laden shoegaze guitars, effected vocal snippets and beats (when used) that touch on many of Beltran's main influences (think IDM and Detroit techno), Beltran has produced a simply stunning album that amply rewards those who give themselves in to its positive, emotion-rich charms.
Review: Jim Brooks, the artist formerly known as King of Woolworths, has delivered some of his best work since first donning The Advisory Circle alias in the mid-2000s. Arguably his greatest single album under the moniker - so far, at least - is "Ways of Seeing", an unashamedly synthesizer-heavy 2018 set produced in tribute to heavily electronic library music of the late 1970s and early '80s. As this tasty gold vinyl reissue proves, there's a definite "Open University meets Pages From Ceefax" feel to some of the material, but that's no bad thing. The key to the album's success is undoubtedly Brooks' ability to eke every last drop of emotion from his machines, combining spacey chords, ear-catching melodies, atmospheric electronic textures and lo-fi drum machine rhythms to uniformly impressive effect.
Review: It's been three years since their last LP, but ESCAPE marks Peaking Lights's sixth full length record overall. By now, the Californian psych-dub duo are masters of lo-fi and dreamy pop, escapist grooves that feel somehow retro and familiar yet also fresh and forward looking. It's music for cruising down the motorway in hot sun, or for zooming from day into night on a sun kissed terrace. It's loveable homemade DIY stuff with percussive loops and motorik kicks making for powerful and dynamic grooves that really move you. Add in hypnotic and haunting vocal hooks and you have a fantastic record.
Flying Between The Clusters Of Trees Without Buoyoant, Floating Wing Beats (6:11)
He Was Beginning To Despair Of Ever Knowing (3:58)
Like Sleepwalkers Ghosting Through A Dreamscape (4:31)
Lions In The Supermarket Don't Sound Like Humans (3:45)
Misty Fog Covering The Side Window (3:07)
He Or She Will Then Drill Into The Pulp To Reach The Root Canal (3:30)
Into Your Brain - A News Report Said The Line Carried 13,000 Volts Of Electricity (2:53)
The Film Is About A Clown Who Leaves His Circus & Lives In A Building Near The Railway Station (1:47)
She Wanted Her To Grow Up In A Nice House With A Backyard, So She Could Play (7:06)
The Drawings Were Rearranged, As If By Magic (6:41)
He Didn't Seem The Kind Of Guy Who Would Just Get Talking To A Stranger (7:48)
Pigeons Dancing On The Roof (7:00)
When They Returned Home After Midnight (6:17)
I Wanted To Hold Her Close & Whisper In Her Ear That She'd Be Fine (2:36)
Good Bye My Love (3:17)
Review: We've all seen sledgehammer techno DJ-producers head off on a personal pilgrimage into the ambient drone wilderness. Many heads have got lost in endless seas of timbre and refrain, only to emerge the other side with something void of personality and littered with sonic cliches born from 'intelligent' warm-up sets packed with beatless B-side gems. RODHAD certainly fits the bill in terms of powerful club players, a guy whose own Dystopian parties, not to mention global guest bookings, refuse to take any prisoners from dark, sweaty dancefloors. Thankfully, though, this career landmark (if nothing else, it's the first outing on his new WSNWG - Back To Basics imprint, designed to provide a home for solo experimentations) manages to steer clear of overly-trodden paths. Made from field recordings, gorgeous hypnotic loops, layers of subtly ethereal synth work and plenty of nods to dance culture, it's impressive stuff.
Review: Considering the impact and prominence of Croatia's festival scene - pre-COVID at least - it seems perfectly reasonable and accessible to start describing Double Geography's exceptional debut album with something like "Barbarella's in slow-mo groove mode". Tracks like 'Norfolk Island Palm' and 'Golden Pothos' invoke the open-air venue set among lush Adriatic vegetation, specifically when the crowd is warming up for a night of trippy, hypnotic, Balearic-influenced, weird and wonderful leftfield tunes. Melodic and warm, groovy but never locked, tracks seem to unfold and grow on inviting vibes, a fitting visualisation considering the record's floral theme, their rhythms hook you without necessarily revealing their intent. Resistance is useless, but you don't initially realise how far you're being drawn in. Even the most abstract moments, say 'Saint Paulia', are built around focused production, rather than glassy-eyed waviness, making for a curiously commanding but relaxed listening experience.
Review: Sic US are in a fine run of classic rap reissues that includes the likes of Gangsta Pat's Deadly Verses as well as Young Ed's Time To Stack from 1996. It's a straight up gangsta collection from the San Fran artist who was also a member of The Cartel along with Mac Boo-Rue and Mac Moose, and who now goes by the name of Bread Ed. There are hard hitting and confrontational joints next to more sultry and steamy late night, low slung cruisers. The vocal flow is tight and twisted, while the production still sounds fresh almost 25 yers later. A true classic.
Review: Gangsta Pat was a fixture of the underground rap scene that emerged in Memphis, Tennessee in the late 1980's. Deadly Verses is the artist's most famous album and features tongue-twisting flow popularized by Lord Infamous and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. The music is dark and involved, almost possessed, and is hardcore rap with plenty of menace at its heart. There are odes to the virtues of cannabis, creepy melodies and low slung g-funk synths. All this make it one of the most definitive early albums of the South's still emerging rap scene.
Review: To many this is where Brazilian jazz truly began: 1966, the legendary saxophonist and composer Victor Assis Brasil laid down his debut album at just 21. Still as smoky and sentimental as it was 50 years ago (but sadder knowing his life was cut short by a rare disease just 15 years later), the playful sense of space, rhythm and technique displayed (and a slight freedom from the US and European sounds of the time due to him living in Brazil) are delivered with a rawness, clarity and sense of fun such as the R&B double bass backdrop of "Simplesmente" or the cat and mouse style counterplay between the horns on "Dueto". A touching and ultimately timeless piece of jazz history.