Review: If you're new to the Alex Giannascoli's world then make yourself comfortable - chances are, like us, you'll be here for a while. There are so many tangents, threads and stylistic shifts of shape it's possible to dive into his back catalogue and spend years never getting bored. It's now far quicker to understand what we're talking about, though, thanks to his latest album. There are multiple personalities at play here than you'd think could be coherent, but coherent this record is. Opener "Walk Away" sounds like an overview of the whole thing - growing from desperate cry into a grandiose, captivating thing of real beauty via reversed-out backing track and looped lyrics. All very Beta Band. From there we're locked-in, through the shimmering melodies of "Taking" to "Sugar"'s deep, tense atmospheric crescendos and vocoders. Ending on the stunning brass-accented blues rock of "SugarHouse (Live)", it's as complete a record as you could ask for.
Review: The Philadelphian Alex Giannascoli has managed to hammer out eight solo albums in less than seven years, and one would be forgiven for assuming he's confused quality with quantity, were it not for the fact that 'Rocket' is unquestionably his most coherent, most memorable and most diverse work yet - replete with the same bleary-eyed charm that has always characterised this amiable slacker's work, yet with sharply constructed songs that bear the stylistic wanders from bucolic folk-pop to Elliott Smith-style angst to Beck-style bewilderment with ease. A piece de resistance from an increasingly fascinating ingenue.
Review: After spending last autumn working alongside Rampa and Adam Port (see the trio's excellent "You Are Safe" album on Keinemusik), Andre "&Me" Boadu has enjoyed a quiet 2018. In fact, this outing on Pampa is his first release of 2018. He begins with the atmospheric and undulating delight that is "In Your Eyes", a slightly jazz-flecked rolling deep house excursion that brilliantly builds energy throughout. Boadu accomplishes this using two contrasting melodic elements: fluid piano solos and a foreboding electronic motif that increases in prominence and intensity as the track progresses. Over on side B, "As Above So Below" is an altogether deeper proposition, with hushed, cymbal heavy percussion, tech-tinged drums and a spacey, undulating synthesizer melody combining to create a hazy late night mood.
Review: It's common knowledge now that #.4.26. is Ilian Tape mainman Dario Zenker, who under this alias released a slew of hard hitting DJ tools on cult label Frozen Border - and this is his first new material under the name since five years. From the sheer terror of dynamic opener "Mono Middle", a dystopian electro number saturated in dense lo-fi fuzz, the broken beats continue on the minimal boom and thump of "Whenever Voi". But it's the B side that proclaims no more Mr. Nice Guy here, with the slamming old school energy of "Free Upload" calling to mind the early '90s sound of Djax or Pro-Jex, while "Van Cul" again demonstrates Zenker's fine ability to weave broken beat arrangements into epic, big room techno bangers.
Review: Florence based label Bosconi is back with 100 Hz aka UK legends Lee Renacre and James Chapman who have been around since the late eighties. This is their second release on the Italian imprint; their Mila EP was their first for the label back in 2009. On the A side we have a re-issue of their 1989 track "Shoot The Bar" a sturdy and cyclical house groove on the tougher side of things with a nice double bass holding the track above a tight rhythm and dreamy Rhodes piano. "Primary Colours" sounds more like minimal, but given more of an edge by all the dusty and lively analogue machines that power it along. Its bumpy bass and restrained synth stabs supporting some simplistic rhythms and works quite well. Finally "Oliva Funk" is more of a classic NYC house cut, those rapid fire cowbell strikes will help it bear even more resemblance to classic Kerri Chandler style vibes.
Review: More wicked grooves from the vaults of UK legends 100 Hz. Comprised of Lee Renacre, James Chapman and Doran Walker, the team behind the seminal Format imprint have had retrospective works reissued on the likes of Bosconi, Slow Life and Howl in recent times - so indeed you can recognise the trio's influence on a new generation of underground house producers. Here they inaugurate Doozy Cult from Lisbon, with some timeless snapshots of bleep techno as heard on the cyclical hypnotism of "Tomfoolery", the tunnelling minimal techno of "Lapiz Boof" and the ethereal shuffle of "Neptune" on the flip - that is just as suited to present day afterhours parties as it was way back when.
Review: Hot Piroski is a newly minted label that promises to serve up "a boisterous mix of space disco, deep funk edits and Balearic beats" all commandeered by Barcelona producer 12Tree. Things get off to a sultry start with the cosy undulations of "Lazers", which sports a housey strut to carry its wistful melodic tones. "Gamma Ray" is a spicier affair with rugged bass that firmly plants the tune in the dirty disco department. "Swamp Love" has more of a classic edit feel with its dusty, looped up samples and choppy edits, but it's equally a delightfully laid back groover to suit a whole plethora of situations.
Review: Sneaker Social Club are not messing around! Following their previous outings from the legendary trio 2 Bad Mice comes remixes from two impeccably forward thinking break crafters; Sully takes "Gone Too Soon" into some fantastical places as the breaks scream jungle but the big breeze pads scream Alex Reece but both elements work together emotively. Falty DL, meanwhile, gives us a hardcore schooling on "Limit Of Paradise" with its heavily layered breaks, wall of sound pads and dynamic drops into spacious hooks. Bad to the (clear vinyl) bone!
Review: Frustrated Funk, Shopwrec and Central Processing Unit are just some of the quality labels on which the enigmatic 214 has delivered his wayward strains of electro and techno. This new single for Lunar Disko is straight-up, high calibre business, as per usual, starting with the mesmerising pads and alluring soundscapes of "The Breakfast Club", a beat-driven escapade through a wave of majestic synths. "Lunar Landing" is more on the Dutch electro side of things, thanks to its sub-aquatic beats and general demeanour while, on the flip, "Jade" injects some Chicago house live through an industrial filter, and "Hurley" liquifies its synths down to a thick pool of sonics and subtle beats. Gorgeous music.
Review: Fresh from an inspired outing on 20:20 Vision, Chris Roman once again dons the 214 mask for a four-track missive of Steffi's resurgent Klakson imprint. Fittingly, opener "Soapdish" - a proper peak-time Rotterdam electro workout - utilizes synths sounds and ragged riffs that invoke memories of Dexter's Klakson classic "Intruder", while "Synthesizers Made of Paper" brilliantly wraps spacey, life-affirming electronics motifs around a suitably crunchy machine beat. Over on side B, "Snow Banks" is a mildly foreboding, surprisingly melancholic chunk of deep electro brilliance and closer "Pattern Rotate" buries chiming lead lines below a deluge of twisted acid lines and distorted, funk-fuelled electro drums. Simply essential.
Review: The 3rd Generation Band hail from Ghana, recording only six tracks in their time together, all for the Essiebons label and now Mr Bongo reissue these two super rare tracks. The life affirming Afro Rhythm & Blues of "Because Of Money" was also featured on Soundway's Ghana Soundz compilation previously. It was compiled by Andrew Edwards. The band was formed in the late 70's by leader Rockson, a soldier at the time. The original record is extremely rare and this reissue is a replica 7", including the original picture paper sleeve that was carefully restored by Andrew Edwards. B side track "Obi Ye Saa Wui" is African style soul-funk, very influenced by James Brown.
Review: Having soared us through the dense black marsh earlier this year, Portuguese deepsmith 3WA takes us through even swampier, intense territories with this Crucial debut. "Viagem" is like stepping into a deep boggy cave where the drips from the stalactites get heavier and the ground swallows you like quicksand. "Encanto" then hauls your keister out of there with insistent hang drum percussion and rolling kicks before blowing you dry with powerful flutes and pipes. Charmed.