Review: If your musical tastes tend towards the more melodic and dreamily deep end of the dance music spectrum, we'd highly recommend this expansive, three-disc Summer Sampler compilation from All Day I Dream, an imprint that has long championed emotive, tuneful blends of deep house, progressive house and tech-house. There's no filler amongst the 12 tracks on show, just good quality cuts that combine solid grooves with ear-pleasing electronic instrumentation. Highlights include the slow burn, delay-laden late night hypnotism of Double Touch's 'Circles', the bass-heavy beats and fluid piano motifs of Makebo's 'Just a Dream', the ultra-deep bliss of Death on a Balcony's bittersweet 'The Source', and the simmering strings and subtle Middle Eastern influences on Nebula's tech-house shuffler 'Once Upon a Time'.
Review: If you've ever tried to track down Gaston's obscure funk-soul album My Queen, you'll know that second-hand copies of the 978 set regularly change hands online for eye-watering amounts of money. Happily, Soul Brother Records has managed to license it and have pressed 1,500 new copies of a special Record Store Day 2020 edition. Musically, it's one of the more interesting and hard-to-pigeonhole sets to come out of the North Carolina funk and soul scenes during the 1970s, with the obscure band offering up a mix of intoxicating, rock-tinged instrumental workouts (the decidedly cosmic 'Magnificent Choo Choo'), piano-laden Latin jazz-funk numbers ('Fantasy Garden'), sun-kissed songs ('Clock In', the twinkling 'My Dreams'), and hot-to-trot dancefloor cuts ('My Queen', the extra-percussive and alien 'Clap Song').
Review: REPRESS ALERT!: Amsterdam-based duo Wanderwelle presents their fourth full-length album titled A State Of Decrepitude. Inspired by the many aspects of impermanence and facets of decay, the duo composed their most intrinsic and detailed production yet.
After two successful albums on Silent Season and a recent collaboration album with Bandhagens Musikforening on Semantica, Phil van Dulm & Alexander Bartels have applied their talents to create a mysterious soundtrack focussed on the countless faces of deterioration. Recorded in 2018, Wanderwelle's first electroacoustic album is an anthological approach to a theme that is inseparable from our current global crises.
Review: Planisphere is exactly the kind of cult deep house and techno producer that For Those That Knoe are all over. David Swatten's last release was 20 years ago, and that one now fetches sky-high prices online, but fortunately the good ship Knoe has taken charge of the situation and commissioned this full-length release of sumptuous electronics. As you would expect for the label, the vibe is primarily classic ambient techno with a spread of different energies from heads down club grooves to blissful back room excursions, all expressed through vintage synth tones. Consistently brilliant throughout, this is the kind of album you could happily melt into from start to finish, as well as having plenty for the mix-minded to get busy with.
Review: The mysterious Sault troupe is back with a call to action and revolutionary soul soundtrack that really bangs the box. "Ain't nothing gunna keep us silent" the lead singer yelps on 'Stop Der', which is an immediate banger after the soothing ambience and closely mic-ed whispers of the opener, which muse on what it means to be black. The rest of the record is a hard hitting mix of crisp drums and empowering vocals, with elements of classic soul as well as contemporary jazz colouring the grooves. This is powerful music with an even more powerful message.
Alice Coltrane - "Journey In Satchidananda" (6:31)
Review: It would be fair to say that the latest instalment of Jazzman's popular Spiritual Jazz compilation series is one of its biggest yet. Stretched across three slabs of wax, it sees the label's dusty-fingered diggers raid the bulging back catalogue of one of jazz music's most important and celebrated labels of the '60s and '70s, Impulse!. It opens with 'Part One: Acknowledgement' from John Coltrane's brilliant A Love Supreme album and ends with Alice Coltrane's wonderfully exotic 'Journey In Satchidanada'; in between, you'll find essential slabs of cosmic and spiritual brilliance from such legends of the sound as Archie Shepp, Max Roach, Yusuf Lateef, Freddie Hubbard and Pharoah Sanders, as well as a handful of lesser-celebrated players.
Review: Mrs Dolphin by Pale Saints has only previously been available on CD in Japan, but for Record Store Day this year, 4AD finally press it to wax for the first time. It gets a full treatment, too, on limited, marbled green vinyl. The album is a compilation of early singles from both the group's early period 4AD EPs (Barging Into The Presence Of God and Half-Life) as well as a track that was on a Melody Maker compilation, Gigantic! 2, in 1990. As well as that, 'Colours and Shapes' is a track included here that was until now unavailable on vinyl.
Just (feat Pharrell Williams & Zack De La Rocha) (3:26)
Never Look Back (2:57)
The Ground Below (2:32)
Pulling The Pin (feat Mavis Staples & Josh Homme) (3:37)
A Few Words For The Firing Squad (Radiation) (6:46)
Yankee & The Brave (instrumental) (2:26)
Ooh La La (instrumental) (3:00)
Out Of Site (instrumental) (3:23)
Holy Calamafnck (instrumental) (3:57)
Goonies Vs ET (instrumental) (3:05)
Walking In The Snow (instrumental) (3:57)
Just (instrumental) (3:27)
Never Look Back (instrumental) (2:58)
The Ground Below (instrumental) (2:31)
Pulling The Pin (instrumental) (3:38)
A Few Words For The Firing Squad (Radiation) (instrumental) (6:40)
Review: Hip-hop super group Run The Jewels aka Brooklyn-based rapper-producer El-P and Atlanta-based rapper Killer Mike return with their fourth in their self-titled album series. Once again the American heavyweights call on a big roster of collaborators with DJ Premier, 2-Chainz, Pharrell Williams and Queens of the Stone Age's Josh Homme all appearing. The tracks remain hard-edged and direct, with cacophonous synths and oversized hits making each track an attention grab. The rhymes are of course on point throughout, with standouts including the machine gun bars of 'Walking The Shadow.'
Review: Since debuting on his own Simulacra Records imprint back in 2014, Todd Gautreau has released some seriously good ambient music as Tapes & Topographies. We attribute much of his success to a trademark style that blends fractured, heavily processed field recordings with opaque, comforting chords and melodies that are capable of winding their way into your subconscious. This trademark style once again comes to the fore on A Pulse of Durations, his first album for Past Inside The Present. Furnishing his usual fuzzy soundscapes with occasional melancholic piano motifs (see the gorgeous 'You Saw Nothing in Hiroshima'), swelling drone tones ('The Seashell & The Clergyman') and plucked strings ('The Modern Equivalent'), Gautreau delivers one of his most meditative and emotion-stirring sets to date.
Review: When it comes to modern soul albums of the mid-to-late 1970s, you'll find fewer more rare or sought-after than Timeless Legend's 1976 debut album Synchronized. Here the little-known Colmbus, Ohio-based group's masterpiece is given a special Record Store Day 2020 reissue courtesy of the soul diggers at Ohio Records. It's full of musically detailed, immaculately produced treats, with highlights including the summery grooves, dewy-eyed vocals and jazzy electric piano solos of 'Checking You Out', the snaking horn solos and impeccable group harmony vocals of 'Lonely Man', the heavy funk-rock-goes-R&B flex of 'River Boat Queen' and the pleasingly dubbed-out, effects-laden psychedelic soul of 'Ghost of Love'.
Review: Ole Mic Odd aka Michael Padgett is a hardware operator and DJ from Los Angeles and runs the wonderfully named label The New U.S. Government. Here he sweeps to power with four tracks across four sides of vinyl for the Zement label, two following a slower, punishing pulse that's like P-funk remade in a robot factory, only with tons of added bubbling acid, Drexciya-style filtering and Juan Arkins-like synthetic strings. The other two are way faster, Ice So Bright sounding like someone secretly spiked Kraftwerk's cocoa with something extremely sinister, sending them racing off on their bikes at treble speed. Echo Park has an even more distinct flanging acid flavour and hyper, hooligan electro foundations, again with those Model 500 misty clouds of synthesiser floating overhead. Absolutely cracking stuff.
Review: Seven months on from the label's last outing - a suitably trippy, acid-fired four-tracker from Justin Robertson's Deadstock 33's project - Tusk Wax returns to action with a fresh album from synthesizer fetishist and Giallo soundtrack specialist Antoni Maovvi. The Berlin-based Bristolian is at his atmospheric and far-sighted best, offering up a range of synthesizer and drum machine-heavy compositions that sound equally as good at home as they do in clubs. Highlights include - but are in no way limited to - the glistening, guitar-laden mid-80s bubbliness of 'Emotional Trigger', the hard-wired Italo-disco sleaziness of 'Disaster Code', the organ-laden horror-house of 'Insider', and the ever-rising starry brilliance of the album's standout moment, closing cut 'The Circle Remains Unbroken'.
Review: The fourth album from the English pop experimentalist was made over just six week in a "do-it-yourself" collaborative process with her fans. It is inspired by the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown and was executively produced by A. G. Cook and BJ Burton. Fans and critics alike fell immediately in love with the record which was also shortlisted for the 2020 Mercury Prize. Edgy experimental production and hooky pop songwriting have rarely collided as successfully as they do here, with plenty of hyper-energetic sounds and shimmering synths, bubblegum bass and mechanical motifs all making this as much an impromptu mixtape as a studio album. Truly, this is a work of its time.
Review: Terry Hall's album Home is the archetypal sound of gentle mid-90s pop rock, which is when it was released on Anxious. It was Hall's first solo record and spawned singles 'Forever J' and 'Sense', while much of the album was written with guitarist Craig Gannon and includes features with then-acclaimed musicians such as Ian Broudie of The Lightning Seed. As such, there are plenty of big jangly guitars, soaring and tender vocal deliveries and post-baggy grooves that might well still get festival crowds swaying along without a care int he world.
Just (feat Pharrell Williams & Zack De La Rocha) (3:26)
Never Look Back (2:57)
The Ground Below (2:32)
Pulling The Pin (feat Mavis Staples & Josh Homme) (3:37)
A Few Words For The Firing Squad (Radiation) (6:46)
Review: Hip-hop supergroup Run The Jewels aka Brooklyn-based rapper-producer El-P and Atlanta-based rapper Killer Mike return with their fourth in their self titled album series. Once again the American heavyweights call on a big roster of collaborators with DJ Premier, 2-Chainz, Pharrell Williams and Queens of the Stone Age's Josh Homme all appearing. The tracks remain hard-edged and direct, with cacophonous synths and oversized hits making each track an attention grab. The rhymes are of course on point throughout, with standouts including the machine gun bars of 'Walking The Shadow.'
Don't Let Your Life Go By On Automatic Pilot (12:33)
Vesper Sprites (8:01)
Review: We all know anything released on Mystic Quantum is worth buying for the cover art alone, and this mightily impressive return of Legowelt is certainly no different. Beautiful on the inside and out, it's packed with the kind of delicately detailed soundscapes we've come to expect from the revered producer, who proves every bit of the musicality we associate him with across seven very good tracks.
'Squirrel' is perhaps the exception to the rule, its frustrated and distorted rumbling breakbeat and chain-gang high-hats cry out for some monster or other to be fed through the arrangement. On the whole, though, this is far from club stuff, opening on the lush bleeped harmonies of 'Once At The In & Out Burger Academy', closing out on 'Vesper Sprites'' mysterious, breathy refrains and metallic percussive accents, by way of the cinema-worthy piano piece, 'Meekian Lovedance'. Enough to keep you going until next month's album.
Reinhard Vanbergen - "Blast From The Past" (edit) (4:15)
Jacob Gurevitsch - "In Search Of Lost Time" (Danilo Braca remix) (8:16)
Bongo Entp - "Soul Drums" (5:03)
Islandman - "Dere Boyu" (6:00)
Review: Kenneth Badger's Music For Dreams label has been at the heart of the ambient, Balearic and world music revival of the last few years. His own distinctive take on the genre is particularly soothing and cathartic for the soul and this Summer Sessions special for Record Store Day is another blissfully escapist collection. The boss himself kicks off with a gentle roller that takes you out to sea, and The Swan & The Lake keep you drifting without a worry in the world on an ocean of synth purity. Reinhard Vanbergen brings some exotica to the collection with his 'Blast From The Past' and Bongo Entp's 'Soul Drums' soars on some perfect trumpets.
Review: This is the solo debut album from legendary Belgian Jazz Keyboardist Marc Moulin, Originally issued in 1975 after Placebo disbanded. Having played the track B1 "TOHU BOHU" by Gilles Peterson (Acid Jazz Records), vinyl collectors and DJs were looking for this record fanatically. The members of Placebo were taken part in this album as support musicians.
Review: If you were judging Kieran Hebden's 11th Four Tet studio album merely on the way it's presented, you'd immediately think he'd spent the last two years immersed in early '90s ambient house albums. While it's unlikely he's done that, it's fair to say that New Energy does owe a debt to classic electronica sets from that period. For all the exotic instrumentation and subtle nods to post-dubstep "aquacrunk" experimentalism and chiming, head-in-the-clouds sunrise house, the album feels like a relic of a lost era. That's not meant as a criticism - New Energy is superb - but it is true that his choice of neo-classical strings, gentle new age melodies, sweeping synthesizer chords and disconnected vocal samples would not sound out of place on a Global Communication album.
Review: It's logical for Throwing Muses to re-release their startling, first-in-ten-years 2013 album Purgatory / Paradise right now. And it has nothing to do with the record's seventh anniversary. Until September's 'Sun Racket' arrived, this was the alternative rockers' most recent release and by all accounts the sprawling 32 track epic is among the finest Muses moments to date. So new fans will want to get properly acquainted, and vice versa.
The American alt-rock titans have a history stretching back to 1981, six years of inactivity around the millennium aside, but when it landed Purgatory / Paradise was only their ninth studio album. Think quality, not quantity in terms of discography - with this a case in point. Dense enough to lose yourself completely in, Kristin Hersh's effortless movements between wail and soft serenade, the jangling, hypnotic late-night guitar chords, groove-laden percussion and open-hearted tales of everyday characters are frankly incredible.
Review: Welsh multi-instrumental troubadour Gruff Rhys has never shied away from tackling expansive subjects, whether that's the American Interior or the plight of 21st Century Britain, as seems to be the case here. The germination for this collection of original recordings, demos and songs happened back in 2016, a year when Brexit was beginning to loom large, Bowie died, and this album become the last thing recorded at Ali Chant's studio - another creative space bulldozed to make way for redevelopment.
The tracks themselves are less obtuse about that backdrop than the 'Plague' in the title, but the classic intensity of Rhys is very much at play here. A guy who manages to hook us in with a very gentle kind of witchcraft, tracks built around locked guitar hooks and smoothly give way to sprawling overtures, but there's also a potent campfire intimacy here, too - the hushed master storyteller holding his audience from beginning to end.
Review: It's 52 years since Thelonius Monk played the show at a California high school which makes up this new long player on Impulse. It happened after a 16 year old student at the school held a concert to raise some money for its International Club, and some how managed to persuade Thelonious Monk's manager that his charge should be the headliner. Monk obliged and turned up with his quartet, and in this recording you can hear every single detail from the creaks of the piano bench to Ben Riley's swishing hi-hats on 'Ruby, My Dear.' The backstory alone makes this one an essential purchase, while of course the music itself isn't too shabby, either.
You Gon' Learn (feat Royca Da 5'9" & White Gold) (3:54)
Alfred (interlude) (0:29)
Those Kinda Nights (feat Ed Sheeran) (2:57)
In Too Deep (3:19)
Godzilla (feat Juice WRLD) (3:30)
Leaving Heaven (feat Skylar Grey) (4:24)
Yah Yah (feat Royce Da 5'9", Black Thought, Q-Tip & Denaun) (4:55)
Stepdad (intro) (0:15)
Never Love Again (2:57)
Little Engine (2:57)
Lock It Up (feat Anderson Paak) (2:52)
No Regrets (feat Don Toliver) (3:22)
I Will (feat KXNG Crooked, Royce Da 5'9" & Joell Ortiz) (5:05)
Alfred (outro) (0:30)
Review: Whether you appreciate the man himself, or even his music, there is no denying that Eminem's enduring ability to lay down the tightest wordplay and most cutting bars is second to none, even decades after he first shocked the world. His eleventh studio album - realised digitally back in January - shows off more of his technical skills and explores plenty of interesting ideas. The mood, as if often the case with this nasal rapper from Detroit, is defiant, and takes aim at critics as well as making superb use of a hook from Q-Tip, collaborating with 27-year-old Young M.A and plenty more besides.
Review: The Art Of Us (TAOU) begins with the story of Blair French, a cosmic messenger raised in a house of 7 on the outskirts of a historic city. From dancing at mom's disco parties at a young age, to releasing rap tapes in middle school, winning best soundtrack for the multi-award-winning film DETROPIA and hitting the Billboard charts with his Pure Sounds of Michigan compilation; ultimately French found a home in the world of all things Detroit, Pan-African, Balearic, and ambient. TAOU is his first instrumental LP under his own name, (despite a 25 year career), bringing together his closest musical compatriots.
Review: Under the BVDub alias, ambient, drone and electronica explorer Brock Van Wey has amassed a vast discography of full-length excursions, though very few of these have been released on wax. The American producer has therefore pushed the boat out for new album Wrath & Empathy, which comprises four lengthy tracks stretched across two green vinyl plates. It's a hugely enjoyable set inspired by what van Wey calls the "magical realism" of Japanese writer Haruki Murakami. We're not well versed enough in Murakami's work to spot the sonic references, but there's much to admire, not least the San Franciscan's uncanny ability to create musical gold with little more than layered and effected instrumentation, slow-release ambient chords, gentle IDM beats, tactile aural textures and melodies that linger long in the memory.
Review: Not all Record Store Releases are super special, but this one from Mello Musica Group certainly is. It is a never before released instrumental version of the critically acclaimed Retropolitan album. As such it is jam packed with tracks stripped back to the killer production from virtuoso Pete Rock, but is far more than just a collection of beats. Two legendary New Yorkers from different generations lay down their love letter to their home city and pull no punches in the process. Many of these cuts were made in the 90s, when Pete was working on the cult Was album Illmatic and in all the 12 tracks 12-tracks include features from Styles P, Benny The Butcher, Conway, Westside Gunn, Elzhi, and Raheem DeVaughn.
Review: Kashual Plastik have offered little clues to the concept behind their latest compilation of experimental electronica and hazy ambient soundscapes. What we can tell you is that the limited-edition release comprises a single vinyl album and bonus CD housed in a screen-printed sleeve. More importantly, the music contained within is largely superb. There are nods to creepy horror soundtracks, '90s ambient, the Radiophonic workshop, the Buchla works of Suzanne CIani, mid-70s German kosmiche, sludgy post-industrial beats, discordant noise artists, bleeding edge electronica, sound collage and much, much more, all presented with love in the most pleasingly DIY of ways. It's a trip, and one you'll want to take time and time again.
Gladys Knight - "It's A Better Than Good Time" (Walter Gibbons Acetate mix) (12:25)
TC James & The Fist O'Funk Orchestra - "Get Up On Your Feet (Keep On Dancin')" (Walter Gibbons mix) (11:05)
Sandy Mercer - "You Are My Love" (12" version) (7:32)
Bettye Lavette - "Doin' The Best That I Can" (Walter Gibbons 12" mix) (11:05)
Arts & Craft - "I've Been Searching" (Walter Gibbons 12" mix) (9:54)
Dinosaur L - "Go Bang" (Walter Gibbons unreleased mix) (12:26)
Luv You Madly Orchestra - "Moon Maiden" (12" mix) (8:48)
Review: With the capabilities of modern discology allowing for the current deluge of disco 'edits', most of which do little beyond extending an intro for ease of mixing, it would have been an intriguing prospect to see what disco edit progenitor Walter Gibbons thought. Sadly we'll never find out, but current edit profiteers could do worse than check out this retrospective of Walter Gibbons remixes compiled by Strut. Nominally split between the 70s and 80s, the first section documents the imaginative reworks of the Salsoul catalogue that helped cement Gibbon's reputation whilst the second focuses on the mid eighties period where he worked closely with Arthur Russell. It was a chance encounter at the Salsoul office which afforded the then 22-year-old Gibbons an opportunity to remix Double Exposure's "Ten Percent", which became the first commercially successful 12inch release. That mix is one of seven tracks which aptly demonstrate the percussion heavy style Gibbon's branded Jungle Music, with the closing 11 minute mix of Betty LaVette perhaps the most impressive example. The second section provides more sonic intrigue, starting off with a previously unreleased remix of Arthur Russell's "See Through", which is followed by Gibbons seminal take on Dinosaur L's "Go Bang" and perhaps the masterpiece of his career - a nine minute remix of Strafe's "Set It Off". Strut have delivered yet another superlative retrospective here. Released on a double LP with a limited bonus mix CD, this is not to be missed!