Review: Midnight Shift continues its fine run of form via a mini-album of bleak intensity from renowned modular electro/analogue rave fusionist Umwelt, an artist whose distinctive releases are always worth a listen. The French producer sets his stall out via title track "Superior Life Forms", an undeniably heavy and distinctively dystopian chunk of broken electro fuzziness, before reaching for even grimier electronics and gut-punching bass on "Computer Controlled". "Latent Existence" is a moody, beat-free soundtrack for urban decay, "Fragment" and closer "The Windfall" are teak-tough industrial techno stompers, while "Shadow Entity" is a suitably psychedelic slab of trippy acid electro. Not for those of a fragile disposition, but impressively intense and forthright nonetheless.
Review: REPRESS ALERT: As far as collaborative delights go, this really takes the cake. Miami boogie wildcard Noel Williams, aka King Sporty, throwing it down heavy with legendary Jamaican reggae axe man Ernest Ranglin - as you might expect, the results are incendiary. "Soft Touch" has a hint of the cosmic about it as it romps through insanely catchy chorus chants, stirring brass stabs and Ranglin's sweet licks. "Keep On Dancing" has a more uptempo feel, "In The Rain" slips into a laid back reggae skank and "Be What You Want To Be" turns the vintage disco heat back up. Throughout this wonderful mini LP, the duo switch between each other's strengths and bring out the best in each other, like all good collaborations should.
Review: Italian outfit Templebeat spent much of the 1990s offering up decidedly dark, dystopian and muscular blends of EBM, techno, new beat and industrial music on a variety of obscure, DIY labels. "Interzone" was one such release. It appeared in limited numbers on cassette in 1992, and is here given the vinyl reissue treatment for the very first time. It remains a distinctively murky and alluring set, with the band blending their own throbbing, arpeggio-driven rhythms, razor-sharp electronics, mind-altering synthesizer riffs and Nitzer Ebb style vocals with various spoken word snippets and sampled dialogue. It's a blueprint that makes for a fine selection of tracks, with thrusting and teak-tough dancefloor workouts being joined by occasional forays into moody, clandestine ambient.
Review: Dutch minimal techno hero Koos "Ion" Ludwig teams up with multi-instrumentalist Twan Sallaerts to present a collection of experimental and electro acoustic ambient journeys on this one for Berlin-based label Meander's Horizon Pi Series. Ludwig's singular sound is recognised by his penchant for all things esoteric and hypnotic, and although this is a non-dancefloor affair he still manages to channel that aesthetic into this collection of tracks, by way of Sallaerts' competent classical know-how on "Entre-Acte". The title track's mesmerising use of sparse melody and disorienting pads over a slow motion / skeletal drum groove is almost just a pitched-down version of Ludwig's usual work when you think about it, while the droning tension and suspense of the atmospheric "Towaknos Carpet" is much more of a departure. Elsewhere, free jazz and film score aesthetics collide on the moody "C.A.T. Track" and the cavernous and glacial ambient textures of "Ijsselzand" only add to the many moments of introversion offered here.
Review: This is when reissues feel like they truly do a service to music that would have certainly disappeared into obscurity - Desmond Coke was a gifted musician who sat in on sessions for the On-U Sound label amongst many other places. His sole solo record was a private press job that very nearly blinked out of existence, but Emotional Rescue have been on hand like the diligent diggers they are to rescue his heartfelt, mightily expressive boogie jams from the one dollar bin. Sunny, sweet and soulful, but also with enough depth and punch to stand up to big budget productions of the era, this is a truly wonderful find that will no doubt be a surprise to even seasoned selectors.
Review: Long before the electro revival sent producers scurrying into the studio to create their own Drexciya-inspired jams, Jeremiah R was ploughing his own intergalactic furrow for labels including Tabernacle, BAKK and Voodoo Gold. As this fine mini-album shows, he remains one of the most consistent electro producers in the business. The genius of "Tales From The Dark Reef" lies in the long-serving producer's ability to craft shimmering, sci-fi focused electronic music that takes the aesthetic appeal of the best electro records - the intergalactic aural textures, sci-fi intent, skittish rhythms and futuristic synthesizer sounds - and applies them to a variety of Detroit and Chicago-influenced grooves and soundscapes.
Review: Loraine James is the latest going talent to make a bold statement on Hyperdub. Her new album reflects the sounds of the London she grew up in while also exploring issues around identity and queerness. Grime, UK drill, electronica and jazz all colour the album and can be as abrasive and confrontational as it can sweet and soothing. Our picks are "London Ting/Dark As Fuck": a caustic brew of distorted drums and frazzled synths with angst ridden vocals and "For You & I" which is a soothing beauty despite its hyperdriven loops. A personal and expressive album that also acts as a fine snapshot of London as it sounds right now.