Review: Ryuichi Sakamoto's latest collaborative release sees him join forces with Kukangendai, a Tokyo-based experimental rock trio who've been putting odd and inspired releases in their native Japan since 2006. A-side "Zureru" offers a perfect blend of both parties' styles, with Sakamoto adding trippy production and mind-altering effects to Kukangendai's loose, post-rock sounds, free-jazz drums and wayward vocalizations. Over on side B, we're treated to two versions of "Suuji": Kukangendai's hypnotic, wayward and ear-pleasing original take, and a sublime re-interpretation by Sakamoto that re-imagines the track as a slowly pulsing journey into intergalactic ambient territory, where ghostly vocal snippets and shards of re-contextualized guitar drift across the sound space.
Review: Legendary alt-rock group spearheaded by Robert Pollard delivers a massive 32-track double-album called Zeppelin Over China. Guided By Voices have released more albums than you can poke a fender at, and this whopper makes it 10 LPs in 10 years, straight. In a sentence, it's an album of balanced positivity avoiding the pitfalls of nihilism to a degree, and perhaps best suited for that whiskey drinking malaise. Deep inside the music you'll hear references (owing or given to) from the likes of Pearl Jam and David Bowie (most obviously), with nothing to be taken away from Pollard's songwriting and vocal presence, and along with the band's lucid technique, it's 75-minutes of the good stuff, neat or on the rocks.
Review: Originally released back in 1997 on the seminal (now defunct) imprint Mille Plateaux, Zauberberg was the second album by Wolfgang Voit under his Gas moniker and considered as his most foreboding piece of work since. This reissue on his own revered Kompakt comes on 180 gram vinyl featuring all seven tracks. Breathtaking drone excerpts and cavernous, all consuming dub techno journeys merge with awe-inspiring orchestral arrangements (samples from legendary composers such as Richard Wagner, Alban Berg, and Arnold Schoenberg) on this tremendous opus that remains an essential listening after all these years.
Review: In 1972, Marvin Gaye set to work recording what was scheduled to become the follow-up to his greatest single studio album, the previous year's "What's Going On". In the end, only one single from that mooted set ever appeared - "You're The Man", a weary assessment of that year's U.S Presidential Election - and Gaye's bitter arguments with Motown continued. This intriguing album tries to set the record straight, gathering together work completed for the shelved album with newly mixed songs based around previously unfinished works. There's much to admire throughout, with the material flitting between the kind of lusciously orchestrated, conscious songs featured on Gaye's previous set and more commercial-sounding Motown pop (much of which was produced by Willie Hutch).
Review: London's contemporary jazz scene is so strong right now that there's not a week that passes without the release of a killer new album from one of its leading protagonists. The latest comes from Ezra Collective, which finally delivers its' debut album following a string of inspired live performances and a handful of must-have singles. Kicking off with a breezy chunk of hip-hop-jazz, "You Can't Steal My Joy" sees the hyped five-piece confidently bounce between intense, spiraling epics ("Why You Mad?"), reggae-influenced aural sunshine ("Red Whine"), polyrhythmic Afro-jazz ("Quest For Coin"), bespoke soul (Jorja Smith hook-up "Reason In Disguise"), live boom-bap hip-hop (Loyle Carner collaboration "What Am I To Do"), bustling Afro-Cuban jazz ("Chris & Jane"), picturesque piano pieces ("Philosopher II") and much more besides. As debuts go, it's mighty impressive.