Review: It's been a great year for Belgian basssmith Zygos. Having kicked off the year on Chad Dubz Foundation with the "Future" EP and appearing on Encrypted, Rarefied and Subaltern throughout the year, he now ends 2017 with another precision sub-low serenade. "Erf" is the creeper of the set, all foggy and graveyard stomping, "Nostromo" is the emotional moment with a swooning slo-mo Q&A that's pregnant in hope while "Agite" plays the consummate cosmic piece with sci-fi flurries zipping back and forth over a loosely-hemmed drum arrangement. Finally "Dwaas" ends on a motely note as Zygos teams up with Tosti for a sense-rattling finale where the percussion is scattered over the bass in a funky cascading way. Time to fly.
Review: White Peach / Fent Plates bossman Zha returns with another delicious naan platter. "Mumbai" is like a spicy roti - crisp in its flavour, a pepper packing punch in the twisted shehnai blasts and scorched bass grunts. "The Tale Of She" is more of a puran poli. Deep, sweet flavours but don't think you won't have anything to chew or digest; there's a lingering wholesomeness running through the whole dish. Best served warm and with friends.
Review: Hot on the heels of Phil:osophy's latest treasure trove comes another bounty of bliss from Artificial Intelligence's Integral. This time with old friends Zero T and longstanding vocalist Steo. "Can't Hide" is pure soul heaven; delicate layers of Steo's harmonies arranged softly over a spacious beat and lilting pianos, it's T and Steo at their most evocative and feel-heavy. "Make Time" kicks with more urgency as techno-like synths stab hypnotically, balanced by Steo's falsettos and gently rising instrumentation. Elsewhere the unstoppable Monty gives their evergreen 2016 soul-out "Too Close To See" a bittersweet twist. There's no hiding from this one.
Review: Last year, Zero 7 duo Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker returned after three years with an eponymous retrospective of career highlights. It now appears that they were tidying up a few loose ends before their real return, which begins with "Aurora", their first new single in four years. A little less drowsy and happily stoned than much of their previous work, the title track is a wonderful chunk of lilting ambient pop with subtle folk undertones, spacey electronics, distinctive vocals and a sprinkling of psychedelia style backwards instrumental parts. "Mono", meanwhile, is similarly impressive, sitting somewhere between slacker indie, Terry Callier and lo-fi Afro-pop.
Review: The Zenker Brothers and their Ilian Tape venture get stronger by the minute, and here Marco flies solo with this latest EP, sounding in utterly rude health with it. "Geezin" is a distinctive opener, ditching standard 4/4 propulsion in favour of an airy drum machine arrangement infected with the slightest flurries of hardcore breaks and offset by wistful synth patterns. It's a curious combination that works magnificently, but for those wanting something a little more direct "Splifer" is on hand to deliver a more classically Zenker techno mantra. "Darai" brings the swing back in fine style, throwing down a chunky stomp to match the sizzling hats, and then "Lubiana" wrecks the surroundings with its magnificent pummel of low end percussion and gritty production values.
Review: Cultures Of Soul's Brasileiro Treasure Box Of Funk & Soul unleashes two more once-rare gems on 45: recently spotted on The Man From Unkle soundtrack, tropicalia fusionist Tommy Ze gets fuzzy and frenetic with "Jimmy Renda Se". With its deep cut, loose string riff, rhythmic Q&A vocals and occasional strings, it's one of many reminders of how out there Tommy was. Flip for the equally unique and alluring "Kizumbau" where Eduardo and his troupe let us imagine what life would have been like if The Doors and Babe Ruth were Brazilian and collaborated.
Review: Sex Tags Mania chief Sotofett has had an ongoing friendship with Sydneysider Carlos Zarate, since appearing on the latter's Thug imprint with their collaborative Planetary Involvement EP back in 2016. Much like their previous outing, Arjun is another brazen tribute to the classic sounds of Detroit techno. From the classic hi-tech soul aesthetic of the title track with its celestial pads backed by bombastic electro-bass beats, plus sleazy G-funk leads. Speaking of which, the intergalactic funk of "Afroz" likewise gets its bass-heavy boom on, with melancholic strings and a wonky synth bass that's reminiscent of the Motor City's first wave - in particular Derrick May's Rhythim Is Rhythim releases.
Review: Rising star Al Zanders (real name Alex Buchan) returns to action, with regular vocalist Sheyi getting a shared credit for the very first time. Her contribution to A-side "Get It Together" is particularly strong, with her distinctive vocals perfectly complimenting Zanders' ear-catching combo of jazzy broken beat grooves, Maurice Fulton style electronics and cosmic soul synths. The bruk-up synth-soul vibes continue on near Balearic B-side opener "Satisfy", before Zanders abandons all caution with the ten-ton sub-bass, crunchy drum machines and sweaty broken beat rhythms of late night delight "GIT (Dub)", a notably heavier instrumental revision of the A-side opener.
Review: Yves Tumor is undoubtedly an artist with a unique musical perspective. That was evident from his 2016 PAN debut, "Serpent's Head", an album of impossible-to-pigeonhole brilliance that drew on a dizzyingly disparate array of styles. Now operating on Warp Records, he continues to mix and match genre boundaries to suit his will on hotly anticipated follow-up "Safe In The Hands of Love". It's another doozy, with the Turin-based artist offering a thrill-a-minute sound soup that flits from pastoral folktronica, experimental IDM and mangled R&B futurism, to wall-of-sound indie-pop, doom-laden orchestral ambient and blissful, hallucinatory dream-pop. While putting Tumor (real name Sean Bowie) in a stylistic box is impossible, we can safely say that he'll soon be joining the top tier of maverick pop experimentalists.
Review: If you enjoyed Yu Su's brilliant EP on Second Circle earlier in the year - and, let's face it, who didn't? - there's a rather high chance that you'll enjoy her first outing on Ninja Tune offshoot Technicolour. "Watermelon Woman" is a superb chunk of bass-heavy house music positive - an inventive and hugely enjoyable fusion of unfussy drum machine rhythms, sampled tribal drums, toasty bass, dubbed-out effects, stargazing electronics, fluttering flutes and jazzy motifs that have just the right amount of breezy Latin flavour. The original version comes backed with a hazy and laidback Dub rework and a boisterous, off-kilter remix by Francis Inferno Orchestra that layers rubbery sounds and heady vocal samples above a skewed tribal house beat.