Review: To tie in with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landings, Brian Eno has decided to put out a new edition of his decidedly spacey 1983 ambient album "Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks", which started life as the soundtrack to a long-forgotten documentary about NASA's space program. The edition is rather special, not only because it contains a remastered version of the original set created by Eno, his brother Roger and regular collaborator Daniel Lanois, but also because it contains a second disc of previously unheard material. This is not old, though, but rather brand new recordings - described as "new interpretations of the film soundtrack" - made by the Lanois and the Eno brothers late last year in a similar style. In a word: essential.
Last I Heard (...He Was Circling The Drain) (5:10)
Dawn Chorus (5:34)
I Am A Very Rude Person (3:52)
Not The News (3:57)
The Axe (6:58)
Impossible Knots (4:19)
(Ladies & Gentlemen, Thank You For Coming) (4:57)
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.
Movement 2 - "Toto, I've A Feeling We're Not In Kansas Anymore" (6:03)
Movement 3 - Wherever Two Or More Are Gathered (8:24)
Movement 4 - Life In The Gravity Well (7:02)
Movement 5 - As The Earth Kissed The Moon (7:20)
Movement 6 - Something's Moving (7:35)
Review: Michael Stearns is perhaps less namechecked than many of the early ambient pioneers, but his expansive catalogue reaches back to 1977, when his first expansive synthesizer dreamscapes unfurled themselves on his own Continuum Montage label. Emotional Rescue have picked up on seminal 1981 album Planetary Unfolding, giving a much needed vinyl reissue to a classic slice of hyperboreal ambience spread across six long-form movements. Expansive, emotionally charged and constantly exploratory, this is deep space listening at its finest - an essential purchase for any lovers of truly classic, cosmic synthesizer music.
Everyday (feat Reginald Omas & James Creole) (2:46)
Play This Game (Money) (1:53)
Cassava Pone (2:23)
We Can Change Now (feat Reginald Omas) (3:28)
The Thing (To Do) (1:41)
How I Do It (2:53)
Roots Now (feat Al Dobson Jr) (2:13)
Get You (I Say) (1:35)
Music Throughout The Night (2:44)
Hold You Down (feat Shepard Manyika) (2:07)
Latin Sisters (1:50)
Ancestral Rivers (2:20)
Phone Call Away (feat Reginald Omas) (1:52)
Real Diggers Only (1:14)
The Moon Revolution (0:40)
Review: Straight out of that bubbling South London jazz scene, Jeen Bassa comes correct with his debut solo album, rightfully landing on his natural home 22a. Anyone hip to the happenings on Tenderlonious' label should know the deal by now - Bassa much like his brothers Mo Kolours, Al Dobson Jr., Reginald Omas Mamode IV is gifted with that killer instinct for fresh approaches to beat science rooted in jazz culture but springing forth with restless, infectious energy. "Cassava Pone" is as cool headed and richly realised as you could hope, and there's a strong cast of guest spots from his nearest and dearest to further flesh out the sound. Perfect for summer months but with plenty to keep you cosy any time of year, this is a modern classic in the making.
Tears For Fears - "Head Over Heels" (Sketches From An Island Sunrise Mediation) (9:03)
Trance - "Ambiente" (7:49)
The Advisory Circle - "Sundial" (3:32)
Richard Torrance - "Anything's Possible" (4:26)
Swing Out Sister - "After Hours" (4:51)
Mark Barrott - "Mokusho" (5:13)
John Stammers - "Idle I'm" (Colorama Coloured In remix) (3:17)
Review: Given their insanely strong Balearic credentials, you'd expect any album compiled by Pete Gooding and Mark Barrott to be stacked to the rafters with drowsy, sun-kissed gems. That's certainly the case with the latest volume of the La Torre Ibiza series, which is the third in total. There's much to enjoy throughout, from the exotic dub shuffle of Jah Wobble and Bill Laswell's "Alseema Dub" and the Penguin Cafe Orchestra-esque "Mornings At Made's" by Pacific Coliseum, to the new age ambient warmth of Satoshi & Makoto's "Crepuscule Leger" and the glassy-eyed blue-eyed soul brilliance of Richard Torrance's "Anything's Possible". Barrott's production and remix contributions are naturally stunning, with his epic Sketches From An Island remix of Tears For Fears' "Head Over Heels" being particularly worthy of mention.
Review: If you enjoyed the loose, warm and organic musical fusions of Italian outfits Nu Guinea and Mystic Jungle, we'd recommend checking out this fine debut album from fellow countrymen Aura Safari. The Perugua-based quartet explore similar influences - think jazz, jazz-funk, dusty deep house, Afro-cosmic, Balearica and boogie, for starters - and rely on a similar blend of vintage synthesizer sounds, live and programmed drums, jazz-friendly brass instruments and elastic bass guitar. The resultant album, then, feels like it comes from a similar sonic place, even if Aura Safari's distinctive musical blend is even more eclectic, emotive and atmospheric than that offered by their aforementioned contemporaries. Either way, it's a superb set.
Review: Given his stargazing, intergalactic ethos, it's perhaps unsurprising that sci-fi techno overlord Jeff Mills has decided to mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo XI moon landing by releasing an album containing his musical "interpretations of Earth's moon". As you'd expect from an artist of Mills' standing, it's a very good album. Evocative, atmospheric and hugely spacey - this is Jeff Mills after all - the seven-track set moves from scene-setting, string-laden ambient ("Control, Satva and Rama") to sparse, acid-flecked dub techno ("Electromagnetic") via a string of fine cuts that variously touch on electro-fired broken techno ("Stabilizing The Spin"), Steve Reich style minimalism (the brilliant "Lunar Power"), and semi-orchestral electronic positivity ("The Tides").
Save Your Love (feat Boogie Back & David A Tobin) (5:19)
Sexability (feat Kevin East) (4:56)
Slow Burn Love (feat D Train) (3:55)
No Matter What (feat Yolanda Lavender) (5:28)
Keep On (feat Matthew Winchester) (4:51)
Come Back Home (feat David A Tobin) (5:03)
Share The Light (feat Janus Soliand) (5:06)
Your Move (feat Sophie Ripley) (4:51)
Summer Rain (feat Faye B) (4:38)
Review: Over 10 years deep and sounding Stronger than ever (not sorry) Cool Million return with their fifth album and it's delicious in all directions. Still smacking with that powerful early 80s soul, boogie and RnB blend, still packing heavyweight vocalists, still stacking serious levels of musicianship, Stronger runs the gamut. From juicy feet-tickling boogie ("Stronger", "Keep On") to sultry ballads ("Share The Light") and steamy soul jams ("Come Back Home") with killer vocals from the likes of the legendary D-Train plus Janus Soliand, Jasmine Franklin and David A Tobin, "Stronger" is one of the Danish/German duo's most accomplished albums to date.
Review: Before becoming Belgian new beat and techno titans, Praga Khan and Chris Inger were collaborators in a new wave influenced band called Shakti. "Verboden Dromen" gathers together the best of the outfit's work recorded between 1987 and 1990, offering up tracks that join the dots between intoxicating synth-pop, moody new wave, hypnotic grooves and dark and sleazy dancefloor moments. All of the tracks have stood the test of time remarkably well, with highlights including the humid and exotic chug of "Kamasutra", the hallucination-inducing tropical fever of "Demonic Forces" and "Shanah", and the bustling, club-ready bounce of "The Awakening", which sounds like the Thompson Twins after one too many tabs of acid.
Review: George Otsuka Quintet were active in the Japanese jazz scene of the early to mid 70s, led by famed jazz drummer George Otsuka and with a modest grip of LPs to their name. It's been a while since anyone turned their attention to this visionary outfit, but now the stunning, freewheeling 1976 album "Physical Structure" has received the reissue treatment via Le Tres Jazz Club, and it's a good thing too. This incredible session finds Otsuka leading his band down limber, energised avenues of rhythm and groove, constantly skittering from scene to scene without missing a beat. The album even wraps up with a take on John Coltrane's evergreen "Naima" that leaps off the platter with joy in a fitting homage to the original.
Review: It's been nearly three years since the release of Christian Fennesz's last solo album, which is almost an eternity given his track record of serving up several albums a year. The gap is in part down to a lengthy period between studio spaces, a situation that forced the Vienna-based experimentalist to go back to basics and record with minimal equipment in his bedroom (a similar process to that used in the early days of his career). Impressively, the results are every bit as beguiling as you'd expect, from the slowly unfurling manipulated guitars, swelling chords and heartbeat pulse of opener "In My Room", to the shoegaze ambient warmth of "We Trigger The Sun", via the fuzzy field recordings, thunderstorm electronics and emotion-stirring melodies of "Rainfall".
Festa Para Um Rei Negro (Samba Enredo Do Salgueiro/71) (3:42)
Selecao De Mangueira (4:57)
Refem Da Solidao (2:19)
Review: Little is known about DIla, a Brazilian singer who tragically died in a car crash weeks after the release of her self-titled debut album in 1971. All that remains is the album - here reissued for the first time by Far Out Recordings - and a handful of references in the Brazilian media to her tremendous talents. "DIla" is a sensationally good album; a wonderfully summery, sun-kissed and soulful collection of samba songs that veers from bluesy jazziness (see the laidback and smoky "O Morro Nao Tem Vez"), to sweaty, carnival-ready dancefloor workouts (the brilliant "Saberas"), via the attractive, horn-heavy jauntiness of "As Paredes Tem Ouvidos").
Review: Some five years on from the release of his brilliant debut album, "Biology", Young Marco has finally got round to producing another full-length excursion. This one is similarly special and forms part of Island of the Gods' excellent "Island Explorer" series. It sees the colourful Dutch producer deliver a range of ambient and new age tracks that fuse his usual ear-catching electronics and 1980s synthesizer sounds with traditional Indonesian instrumentation recorded on a trip to the country a few years ago (one of his grandparents hails from the Asian nation, so it was a pilgrimage of sorts). It's all hugely atmospheric, evocative and entertaining, offering a humid but sparkling array of soundscapes that reminded us a little of Hanyo von Oosterom's work as Chi Factory.
Review: The criticism of Anderson .Paak's last album, the glossy, big-budget "Oxnard", was so voluminous that his mum took to social media to defend it. The fast-rising rapper laughed off the haters at the time, but it must have hurt. Either way, he's changed direction again on "Ventura", a follow-up that's noticeably more refrained than its predecessor. Musically, what we're offered is stripped-back '70s soul and Prince style purple funk instrumentation fused with head-nodding hip-hop and R&B beats. Paak is lyrically on point throughout, eschewing some of his more sexually explicit lyrics in the post #MeToo era. To complete the picture of an artist going back to his roots, the assembled guests (Outkast's Andre 3000 included) are generally pushed to the background in an unobtrusive manner.
Review: By the time they released "Amplified Heart" in 1994, Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn had spent a decade churning out admired but relatively commercially unsuccessful "lite-jazz" albums. Then, on the back of a string of on-point club remixes (Todd Terry's chart-topping version of "Missing" included), the set surprisingly became a runaway success. To celebrate the album's 25th birthday, "Amplified Heart" has been given the audiophile reissue treatment. It suits the album's gently breezy, emotion-rich feel, with Thorn's evocative, lovelorn vocals perfectly matching Watt's sunset-friendly blend of acoustic guitars, soft-touch double bass, trip-hop style beats and Balearic-minded electronics. It remains one of the duo's greatest albums and should be in every discerning listener's collection.
842 Colours (feat Hrdvsion - Eddie C Elektro Funk remix) (3:42)
Musli Funk (3:45)
Review: Three years on from his last acclaimed outing on Endless Flight, Berlin-based Canadian Eddie C returns to the Japanese label with another high quality full-length excursion. Those who've followed his career over the last six or seven years will feel at home straight away. Opener "Hello baby" is a quirky, break-driven head-nodder rich in dub disco bass and quirky samples, while the cut that follows, "Carbon Date", offers a deeper and more spacey take on the same heady blueprint. From then on its' a loved-up, saucer-eyed jaunt through laidback Balearic disco grooves ("In The Park"), spaced-out punk-funk ("Way Uptown"), percussion-packed Latin beats ("Batacuda"), bustling breakbeat house ("Berlina"), warped digital dub ("Dancin' Music") and spaced-out broken beat ("Listen"). In a word: superb.
Review: Time marches relentlessly on as does the immortal sound of iconic Manchester band Joy Division. At the heart of Unknown Pleasures was the alarming vocal talent of Ian Curtis. His alien wails, echoed expressionistic vistas of urban alienation over No Wave tribal beats and Gothic guitar impressions. And despite the breathtaking intensity of the angular acid comedown "She's Lost Control", the soaringly depraved detachment of "New Dawn Fades" and the proto-slowcore "Candidate", opening track "Disorder" remained the piece years ahead of its time and most immediately enduring. This anniversary record arrives almost forty years to the day after it was originally released, splashed out on 180g ruby red vinyl with an alternative white sleeve to resemble the original and legendary cover design. Unquestionably authentic, Unknown Pleasures was a vision so uncompromising and haunting that each track was worth its length. This commemorative reissue, then, continues the celebration of one of the most important albums of our time as well as highlighting the record as a landmark in music-design crossover history.
Review: Like Delsin label mates Conforce and Claro Intelecto, veteran producer John Beltran seems incapable of producing duff albums. "Hallo Androiden", his first full length outing for two years, is another wonderfully atmospheric, melodic and emotive set that recalls the producer's impeccable 1990s output. The nine tracks are as lushly produced as you'd expect, with Beltran effortlessly drifting between eyes-closed ambient techno, lilting electronica, slowly shifting sunset soundscapes and the kind of grandiose, life affirming ambient compositions that have long been a feature of the veteran producer's work. As with much of his output, there are enough intricate details and emotion-stirring motifs to suggest that the album will sound just as good on the 50th listen as it does the first.
Review: With their penchant for off-kilter psychedelic explorations, deep-rooted spiritual jazz excursions and cacophonous, otherworldly workouts, The Comet Is Coming is undoubtedly one of the most groundbreaking and essential jazz combos of recent times. It's for this reason that "Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery" - their first outing on legendary jazz label Impulse - feels like an event release. It is another stunning album, with the inspired trio flitting between sweaty, dancefloor-ready tracks soaked in psychedelic electronics and more melodious, laidback numbers that sail closer to traditional jazz pastures. Throughout, the level of imagination, creativity and uniqueness remains dizzyingly high.
Review: Astral Industries have shaped a sizable portion of their catalogue around the work of The Chi Factory, and so it continues with this release from core member of the Dutch group, Jacobus Derwort. "Bamboo Music" gathers together some of the music Derwort released on tape back in 1987 along with other unearthed curios, all stitched together into the mystical trip that defines all Chi Factory releases. This is Fourth World voyaging for the deep divers, an evocative delight from imagined lands steeped in organic warmth and cosmic mysticism, and we should be very thankful Astral are on hand to do the fine job of pressing it to wax, not least in those fantastic Theo Ellsworth sleeves.
Review: Performed by an ensemble sporting an intriguing array of instruments (harp, bass clarinet, flute, violin, pedal steel, piano, synthesizer and vibraphone included), Jefre Cantu Ledesma's latest album is a wonderfully drowsy and evocative affair full of drifting ambient motifs, slowly shifting melodic movements and gentle, blink-and-you-miss-them solos. The scene is set magnificently by 21-minute opener "Palace of Time", where effects laden instrumental passages meander across the soundspace to the accompaniment of sporadic percussion and a lone, operatic voice. The aptly titled "Joy", with its haunting clarinet refrain and woozy vibraphone melodies, comes and goes all too quickly before "Tracing Back The Radiance" offers a triumphantly blissful conclusion to a brilliant and beguiling album.
Review: U.S label Light In The Attic has previously served up compilations exploring various Japanese takes on Western music, most notably folk, rock, ambient and new age. Here they switch tack, curating a brilliant double-album set that showcases the best Japanese synth-pop, AOR and boogie recorded between 1976 and '86. The quality threshold remains impressively high throughout, from the blue-eyed-soul breeze of Taeko Ohnuki's "Kusuri Wo Takusan" and the Chaz Jankel-meets-Thompson Twins style throb of Haruomi Hosono's "Sports Men", to the talkbox-sporting late night AOR-pop flex's Hiroshi Satoh's "Say Goodbye" and the glistening, Latin-influenced jazz-funk brilliance of Masayoshi Takanaka's steel pan-sporting "Bamboo Vender".
Review: Having previously introduced the world to Pastor TL Barrett and The Youth For Christ Choir's 1971 private press gospel funk classic "Like A Ship", Numero has decided to give their follow-up the same deluxe reissue treatment. Astonishingly, the honey-voiced Barrett was just 29 when he wrote, arranged, conducted and co-produced "Do Not Pass Me By Volume 2", a superb collection of gospel funk and soul rich in uplifting group vocals, bustling grooves, Tambourine-heavy drums, wild organ lines and rousing horns. With Barrett handling lead vocals throughout, the ten tracks veer from sparse and laidback spiritual meditations to surging sing-alongs that will make the hairs on the back of your neck stand to attention.
Os Quentes De Terra Alta - "Praia Do Algodoal" (3:21)
Pinduca - "Pai Xango" (3:36)
Janjao - "Meu Barquinho" (3:13)
Messias Holanda - "O Galo Canta, O Macaco Assovia" (3:33)
Vieira E Seu Conjunto - "Lambada Da Baleia" (2:55)
Verequete E O Conjunto Uirapuru - "Mambo Assanhado" (3:25)
O Conjunto De Orlando Pereira - "Carimbo Para Yemanja" (2:19)
Pinduca - "Coco Da Bahia" (3:06)
Messias Holanda - "Carimbo Da Pimienta" (2:29)
Verequete E O Conjunto Uirapuru - "Da Garrafa Uma Pinga" (3:11)
O Conjunto De Orlando Pereira - "Maruda" (2:00)
Magalhaes E Sua Guitarra - "Xango" (3:20)
Vieira E Seu Conjunto - "Melo Do Bode" (3:45)
Grupo Da Pesada - "Voa Andorinha" (2:43)
Grupo Da Pesada - "Lundun Da Yaya" (3:15)
Mestre Cupijo E Seu Ritmo - "Despedida" (4:09)
Review: Analog Africa's latest must-have release focuses on the little-known musical culture of the Para state on Northern Brazil, and specifically the port city of Belem. Since the 1960s the city's musicians have been serving up unique and exciting new styles that draw as much on West African, Cuban and Caribbean music as they do the rhythms and instrumentation of the Amazonian tribes based nearby. It's these kinds of unique and exuberant fusions - think heavy bass, bouncy ska-style rhythms, punchy Afro-Cuban horns, densely layered drums, celebratory vocals and tropical guitars - that make "Jambu E Os Miticos Sons Da Amazonia" such an essential listen. Context is provided via the included 24-page booklet, whose extensive liner notes track the development of Para's unique musical culture.