Review: Synth pop veterans Boytronic - well known for hit single "You" but also for honing their sound at sex shows in Hamburg's red light district - are back after a ten year hiatus. After several personnel changes over the years, the latest line-up features old and new vocalists in Holger Wobker and James Knights respectively, and it could be the first time ever that a replacement and their predecessor have worked together on the same record. Importantly, they work well together, with plenty of 80s influences looming large over a wealth of danceable beats, tinny chords and woodpecker fills.
Review: First released way back in 1992, Radio Tarifa's debut album "Rumba Argelina" has long been considered something of a global fusion classic. Reissued here on vinyl for the very first time - weirdly, it has only ever been available on CD in the past - the album has lost none of its charms. It's naturally rooted in various strains of traditional Spanish music - flamenco, Andalucian folk music and so on - but also incorporates musical elements from North African and Arabic music, with occasional nods towards tango and such obscure (but surprisingly enjoyable) styles as German medieval music.
Review: Hiroki Takahashi has delivered compelling ambient long players to Not Not Fun, Muzan Editions and more besides, but his most prominent works to date have landed on Where To Now?. Following the "Where To Be Vol. 2" cassette and "Raum" LP, he's back with the frankly gorgeous "Sonne Und Wasser", an EP that further highlights his exploration of crystalline ambience. "Nymphaea" and "Pollen" hover in glacial suspension, with pealing chimes ringing out their richly resonant tones over sustained notes pitched to melancholic perfection. "Photosynthese" centres on fragile sequenced patterns, while "Wurzel" occupies its own particularly wistful mood, played in a key distinct from the three prior pieces.
Wartilla (feat Warren Ellis, Stephen O'Malley) (4:08)
Review: Malian musicians have a rich history when it comes to turning the world on to organic, mystifying, exotic sounds. A country that - even for Africa - stands out as a hotbed of aural talent, artists hailing from the desert nation never fail to immerse and intoxicate us. Here tracks grow and groove like a hypnotist at work, embracing Western influences, not least psychedelic rock, to produce what might have happened if Jim Morrison went walkabout in the Sahara looking for inspiration. As an album, "Amadjar" is everything that description might make you hope for. Opening on the delicate, spatial guitar plucks of "Tenere Maloulat", you can see the oasis shimmering in the distance through heat vapour. Evocative stuff, from there it only pulls us in deeper into an amalgamation of sounds overflowing with an adventurous atmosphere.
Review: Finnish jazz scene heavyweights Timo Lassy (saxophone) and Teppo Makynen (drums) are old studio buddies. They've released a number of collaborative singles, but this self-titled set is their first joint album. After kicking off via the slow-burn ambient jazz creepiness of "Fallow", the pair shuffles through sparse but engrossing cuts that combine Lassy's meandering headline-grabbing saxophone solos with Makynen's ambidextrous drum rhythms and melodic percussion parts (think xylophone, marimba, kalimba etc). It's very experimental in nature and closer in spirit to free-jazz than some of their collaborative work, though the results are uniformly impressive and strangely alluring.
Sly & Robbie - "Night Nurse" (feat Simply Red - radio mix) (3:45)
John Holt - "Police In Helicopter" (3:33)
Eek-a-mouse - "Ganja Smuggling" (3:46)
Don Carlos - "Rivers Of Babylon" (3:16)
Freddy McGregor - "Big Ship Sailing" (3:12)
Jacob Miller - "Tenement Yard" (2:33)
The Congos - "La La Bam-Bam" (3:50)
Alton Ellis - "I'm Still In Love" (4:22)
Dennis Brown - "Revolution" (4:15)
Errol Dunkley - "OK Fred" (2:55)
Groundation, Don Carlo & The Congos - "Jah Jah Know" (5:57)
Black Uhuru - "Sinsemilla" (5:14)
Ini Kamoze - "World A Music" (2:45)
Yelloman - "Zungguzungguguzungguzeng" (6:29)
Lee "Scratch" Perry & The Upsetters - "Soul Fire" (3:51)
Alborosie - "No Cocaine" (4:05)
Chaka Demus & Pliers - "Murder She Wrote" (4:04)
Review: Classics are classics for a reason, and this compilation champions them across two slabs of wax. All four sides are jam packed with firm reggae favourites from Bob Marley's stirring "Soul Rebel" to the buttery croons of Gregory Isaacs on "Babylon Too Rough". Mick Hucknall's inclusion will raise some eyebrows, but there is no denying his version of "Night Nurse" with Sly & Robbie has something going on. Smokers will delight in ganga odes from Eek-a-mouse and the lovable innocence of The Congos hit "La La Bam-Bam" will always have a place in anyone's affections.
Superdiscount Presents Air - "Soldissimo" (Etienne De Crecy remix) (5:26)
Guts - "What Is Love" (3:47)
Alex Gopher - "The Child" (radio edit) (3:39)
Kazam - "Swag On" (2:13)
Flume - "Holdin On" (2:32)
Chinese Man - "I've Got That Tune" (4:08)
Deluxe - "Pony" (3:27)
Fakear - "Morning In Japan" (3:06)
Bonobo - "Terrapin" (4:40)
Nightmares On Wax - "Les Nuits" (radio edit) (3:31)
Review: Thanks to Massive Attack's recent anniversary reissue of their touchstone "Mezzanine" album, trip-hop is back in the headlines. While we don't expect a full-blown revival just yet, it's always worth dipping into the style and its hazy, dub-flecked and sample-heavy sound. This triple-disc genre retrospective from Wagram should be an essential listen for both confirmed trip-hop heads and newcomers alike. It contains plenty of well-known classics - see the contributions from I Monster, Tricky, Smith & Mighty, Kid Loco, Moby, Boards of Canada, Kruder and Doefmeister, Tosca and Nightmares on Wax, for starters - as well as under-appreciated underground hits and lesser-celebrated selections (Sabres of Paradise's remix of Red Snapper's "Hotflush" being the undoubted highlight).
Review: French DJ, musician and producer Kid Loco has a storied career that dates back to the birth of his own Bondage Records in 1982. Since then he has become a real reference point for alternative sounds that sit at a junction between the worlds of rock and electronic music. Sometimes sampling, sometimes playing the music himself, he has made an entry into the hallowed DJ Kicks mix series and now returns with a new album that draws on trip hop, downtempo and indie pop. "Venus Alice In Dub" is the sort of lushly detailed tack that is perfect for modern audiophile bars and "Yes Please, No Lord!" could become a cult curveball for brave DJs, amongst many other highlights.
Walking In A Spiral Towards The House (part 1) (11:26)
Walking In A Spiral Towards The House (part 2) (16:48)
Review: Since debuting as Grouper back in 2005, Liz Harris has delivered a swathe of experimentalist albums that explore almost every aspect of ambient and drone music. Here she launches a new project, Nivhek, via an expansive double-album of sparse, atmospheric compositions that tend towards the epic. Really, it's two albums in one. The first slab of wax is entitled "After Its Own Death" and boasts a two-part, non-stop suite of tracks built around echoing choral vocals, dark electronics and blissful bells. It's alternately melancholic, blissful and grippingly intense. In contrast, "Walking In A Spiral Towards The House", the piece stretched across both sides of the second record, is breathtakingly beautiful - a meandering, soft focus trip through chiming, reverb-laden motifs and gentle music box melodies.
Review: It's cult records and mythical artists like this that record collectors fawn over for years. Well this particular wait is now over as for the first time ever on vinyl you can now own two super rare 1980-82 tapes by Two Daughters. They were a mysterious pair affiliated with Throbbing Gristle and recorded all sorts of dark and haunting noise in Brixton for Nurse With Wound's United Dairies. This session is as freaky as they come, with muffled voices appearing out of the noise like apparitions. Hypnotic and daunting, droning and bleakly mesmeric, this music sounds to us like the shadowy corridors of an old lunatic asylum in the dead of a winter's night.
Review: This cryptic debut from Belgian AIR LQD mixes up science fiction, social criticism and punk ethics into a futuristic sound world where urban decay and artificial intelligence have really taken hold. The brittle, icy electronics of these tracks reminds of Kassem Mosse's experimental lo-fi house work on Workshop. "Repeat Itself" is interspersed with dehumanised voices from a darkened dungeon and leads to some brilliantly unsettling sounds. Abrasive textures rub up next to looping echoes, crashing metal hits and rubbery bass. Though wholly unnatural, paranoid and occult, it all feels so damn right.
Review: Although the titular track might have been somewhat spoiled by a certain TV advert, the rest of Gregory Isaacs' most well known album still stands up. Lazy reggae rhythms are permeated by sparkly synth work from Wally Badarou, which at the time was a brave and progressive move away from traditional reggae and toward the ensuing sound of dancehall. Isaac's own buttery, laid back musings are front and centre, crystal clear and delicate throughout, always complimented by dainty piano chords that sink you deep into a dreamworld. The production throughout is first class, too, making this a true classic.
Review: Root Down is an experimental album from 1994 when The Beastie Boys locked themselves in a rehearsal space and went to town on studio experimentation and live jamming. It came between "Paul's Boutique" and "Check Your Head" and resulted in two previously unreleased versions of the title track and snippets of music recorded while on tour in Europe. There is the typical Beastie Boys mix of floor rocking riffs but with funky new flows stitched in and thus charts the period in which the band went from their post punk guitar roots to a more new-groove driven sound.
3rd Acts: ? Vs Scratch 2...Electric Boogaloo (0:53)
You Got Me (feat Erykah Badu) (4:20)
Don't See Us (4:36)
The Return To Innocence Lost (5:29)
Act Fore The End? (4:53)
Table Of Contents (part 3 - bonus track) (3:19)
What You Want (bonus track) (4:11)
Quicksand Millennium (bonus track) (4:09)
We Got You (feat Jaguar - bonus track) (1:13)
You Got Me (Drum & Bass mix - bonus track) (4:59)
You Got Me (Me Tienes remix - bonus track) (4:26)
Act Too (The Love Of My Life) (remix - bonus track) (3:29)
Y'all Know Who (bonus track) (4:04)
The Lesson (part III - bonus track) (4:53)
New Years At Jay Dee's (bonus track) (2:49)
Review: In our eyes, Questlove is one of the best drummers of the modern era. His playing skills have held down killer grooves by everyone from D'Angelo to Jill Scott, Erykah Badu to Soulquarians. His own Grammy Award winning band The Roots brought thrilling musicianship and live instrumentation to the hip hop game and are widely regarded as one of the best live acts in the genre. Their fourth album, Things Fall Apart, was their real breakthrough and is now presented here, remastered, with bonus tracks, rare photos, essays from Black Thought and Questlove and liner notes from Questlove. Essential.
Review: Way back in 1998 when Massive Attack's career-defining "Mezzanine" was first released, legendary dub technician Mad Professor cooked up some radical reworking. They now get their first official release alongside dubs of two tracks that never actually made it onto the album - Metal Banshee: a dub version of "Superpredators" which was a cover of Siouxsie and the Banshees' "Metal Postcard", and "Wire", which was actually recorded for the film "Welcome to Sarajevo". Wild effects, plenty of knob twiddling and oodles of reverb define this freaky late night collection and mark another essential release in the catalogue of the already legendary Mad Professor.
Review: Moonchild are one of the many jewels in the Tru Thoughts fam. Their mellifluous sound melts jazz chords, angelic neo-soul vocals and broken beats to cathartic effect, and "Little Ghost" marks the LA-based band's third album on the label, fourth overall. There are no great deviations from their signature formula here, but that's not a problem: there will always be space in anyone's collection for the golden late night grooves of "Too Much To Ask," twinkling keys of "Sweet Love" and romantic Sunday morning sounds of the enchanting "Strength," amongst many other highlights.
I Am An African (feat Micall Parkunsun & Big Cakes) (4:16)
Amplified Sciencce (feat Anyway Tha God) (3:23)
The Alchemist (feat Fae Simon) (4:56)
Admiral Byrd (3:17)
From Nibiru With Love (4:07)
Review: UK duo Gawd Status is producer King Kashmere of Strange U and MC Joker Starr and they make raging and tribal hip hop that aims to rewrite the blaxploitation manifesto. Versatility and eclecticism define an album that touches on everything from AI to slavery, false gods to catholic priests, all packaged in raw, off kilter beats, strange soul and colourful psychedelia. There's a thrilling mix of the analogue and the digital in this album which lends it an urgent and arresting edge as moods lurch from confrontational ("I Am An African") to cathartic ("The Alchemist"). Refreshing indeed.
Review: Since opting to release more music under his given name, DeepChord man Rod Modell has largely stuck to dubbed-out ambience and heady drone soundscapes. His latest full-length is a little different, though, offering up club-focused cuts that mix his usual fuzzy aural textures and dub-fired motifs with up-tempo techno rhythms. By his standards, it's a very forthright set, with highlights including the noise-soaked stomp of "Reiki", the thrusting heaviness of "ITO", the hypnotic slam of "Jade" - where breezy, early morning electronics flutter away above tough drums and a mind-altering bassline - and the boisterous peak-time techno anthem "Scrawler".
Review: This 1988 debut album from Jungle Brothers eschews the use of the sampler, choosing instead to lay down these fresh beats by recorders, all looped by hand, eight bars at a time. The record also features Q-Tip for the first time on the excellent "Black Is Black" which features one of the few samples on the album as the voice of Gil Scott-Heron is stitched into the rolling beats. Smash hip-house hit "I'll House You" was added to later versions of the album and is included here with other gems like "Braggin & Boastin" and "Behind the Bush".
Review: Best known for being the backing band for countless soul singers - most notably Emilia Sisco, Willie West and Thee Baby Cuffs - Timmion Records regulars Cold Diamond & Mink have finally been given a chance to take centre stage. "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow" is the tight funk and soul combo's debut album and contains ten killer cuts from the Finnish combo in their usual jazz-flecked 1960s/early '70s funk and soul sound. Highlights are plentiful from start to finish, with the hazy bustle of "Remember Me", the super-sweet and glistening "Ain't That Love" and rush-inducing "This Is What Love Looks Like!" amongst our current favourites.
Review: "Sonic Citadel" marks Brians Gibson and Chippendale's seventh studio album and it is one that finds them revealing a little more of themselves than before. "Blow To The Head" is an intense opener with caustic texture, dense layers and scuzzy noise that soundtracks a manic episode, while elsewhere there are much more angular and punk influenced rhythm tracks with deathly vocals mired in gauzy riffs engulfed in dirt, grit and sandpaper sonics. Standout track "Halloween 3" is a suitably horror fuelled track of high energy, lo fi fuzz that will keep any demons away.
Review: These are heady times for fans of rare and obscure jazz albums, with essential new reissues dropping every week. Here's another, from lesser-known quintet Griot Galaxy. "Kins", their debut, was recorded over two days in September 1981 and originally appeared in stores early the following year on tiny imprint Black & White Records. This reissue replicates the original artwork and tracklist, with the cuts now sounding better than ever thanks to a tidy re-mastering job and extra-deep grooves. Musically, the six cuts on offer are wild and intergalactic in tone, with Griot Galaxy expertly combining elements of modal, spiritual jazz, free jazz, jazz-fusion and, on dancefloor-ready standout "Zenolog Aintro", bustling jazz-funk.
Review: When bands hit album four, two things can happen - or three. Some suffer from a crisis of creativity, opting to regurgitate or, worse still, stagnate. Others opt for reinvention, with as many getting it right as going well off-piste, alienating faithful fans in the process. The lucky ones, meanwhile, hit the nail on the head with their most accomplished and complete work to date. Consider Frankie Cosmos among the lucky ones, then, not that luck had much to do with it. Recorded in their New York hometown, everything about the record feels comfortable in that there's nothing forced, and yet it engages and grabs from the off. Lilting, lo-fi rock 'n' roll odes to love, life and the genre itself, anyone who's ever wondered what Cate Le Bon might sound like having a pancake breakfast with The Orielles should grab a seat at this table.
Review: Recorded in New York in 1966, Miriam Makeba's "Pata Pata" - her first for the legendary Reprise Records imprint - has long been considered one of the most important and influential South African albums of all time. Strut certainly thinks so and has offered up a "definitive version" that contains both mono and stereo mixes of the album, alongside new sleeve notes that tell the singer's remarkable story in vivid detail. Musically the set is rooted in jazz, but also incorporates sounds, rhythms and instrumentation not only reflective of Makeba's home country, but also nods to American soul, Latin rhythms and calypso (the latter showcasing the influence of her mentor, Harry Belafonte).
Ian Dury & The Seven Seas Players - "Spasticus Autisticus" (version) (6:57)
Material - "Over & Over" (long version) (5:38)
Was (Not Was) - "Wheel Me Out" (7:12)
Dinosaur - "Kiss Me Again" (6:53)
Don Cherry - "I Walk" (3:14)
Common Sense - "Voices Inside My Head" (6:29)
Nicky Siano - "Move" (5:45)
Indian Ocean - "School Bell/Treehouse" (10:13)
Review: Second time around for Joey Negro and Sean P's peerless collection of post-punk era New York club cuts, a compilation that proved hugely influential when it was first released way back in 2000. The track listing strangely omits one track present on the original release (the full 16-minute version of Steve Miller Band's "Macho City"), but otherwise it's a faithful reproduction. Highlights come thick and fast throughout, from the eccentric electrofunk of Yoko Ono's "Walking On Thin Ice" and P-funk influenced strut of Material's "Over And Over", to the skittish jazz-goes-dub disco bustle of Don Cherry's "I Walk" and the low-slung percussive voodoo of Nicky Siano's "Move". The undisputed master of NYC leftfield disco, Arthur Russell, is represented via cuts from Loose Joints, Dinosaur and Indian Ocean.
Review: Canadian collective The Soul Jazz Orchestra's latest studio album is a cheery tonic for our troubled times. That's not to say it doesn't engage you with some thought-provoking moments along the way (the pay gap, dodgy landlords, police brutalities, the current US administration) but generally the musicianship is uplifting and hypnotic. The album draws on funk, jazz and soul with Latin, Caribbean and Afro twists that make it work on the dance floor as well as home stereo. Anthems like "General Strike" exhibit some 2 tone swagger and "Sky High" is pure disco dynamite.
Review: Portuguese pair Antonio and Manuela Duarte made plenty of music together in the mid-to-late 1980s - mostly offering an intriguing fusion of Ash Ra style meditative kosmiche, ambient electronics, new wave style and Iberian instrumentation - but very little of it was ever released. Hence "Electricidade Estetica", a debut album made up of previously unheard recordings that have sat dormant on reel-to-reel tapes for well over three decades. It's a fine collection of tracks, all told, most of which are near impossible to accurately describe or pigeonhole. Fundamentally, they're all inventive, atmospheric and ear-pleasing, offering a fine collection of head-in-the-clouds cuts that rises above its lo-fi roots to present the Portuguese pair as previously unheralded Balearic pioneers.
Catherine Brenot - "Et Tout Est Yin Et Tout Est Yang" (club mix) (5:19)
1 Plus 1 - "Coming Up For Air" (instrumental) (5:25)
Fragile - "We've Got Tonight, Boy" (6:13)
Jarmaz - "Night City Life" (Disco remix) (3:55)
Friend Of Mine - "Just Your Pride" (4:47)
Mac & Monica - "You’re So Good To Me" (6:29)
Sala & H - "Feel The Love" (4:00)
Alexandra - "Fantasia (Fantasy)" (4:45)
Gioia - "No Secrets" (instrumental) (7:43)
Janelle - "Don't Be Shy" (dub) (6:40)
Alessandro Scellino - "Dinner In The Jungle" (Erotic mix) (6:49)
Brian Tatcher - "Hot Love" (instrumental dub version) (6:48)
Preludio - "Mysterious Nights" (4:46)
Review: Ilan Pdahtzur is as obsessive a record digger as any of his more visible peers. His particular niche is early to mid-eighties club music, and now he gets a platform to show off his skills thanks to the Spacetalk label. "Night City Life" is about music to match that exact setting - nocturnal urban metropolises with glowing neon lights shimmering in the darkness. There's a lot to love across four sides of vinyl here, from Italo disco to steamy boogie cuts and iridescent synth jams. It will make you nostalgic for a time and place you've never experienced (at least not as perfectly as this) and no doubt get plenty of dance floors on their feet.
The One O Ones - "Radio Cosmos 101" (Bals edit) (4:27)
Gemini - "Take A Chance" (4:34)
The Clean Hands Group - "Night Fly" (4:24)
The CVQ Band - "Whatever You Do" (instrumental) (4:38)
Miss - "Hip Hop" (3:06)
Metal Voices - "At The Banks Of The River" (3:44)
The Clean-Hands Group - "Shake It On" (4:03)
Gigi Flag - "Nymphomaniac" (instrumental) (5:58)
Eddy La Viny - "Havan' Hamac" (3:43)
Review: BeachFreaks Records co-founder Charles Bals is a man who knows about records - and obscure European ones at that. Club Meduse, his first compilation for Spacetalk (a label with a track record for producing these kinds of killer, crate-digging comps), is loosely designed as the soundtrack to life around a mythical (IE imaginary) Cote D'Azure resort. Musically, it gathers together the kind of hazy, soft-focus and life-affirming cuts that you would have heard at resort discos in the mid-to-late 1980s. Suffice to say that Bals' selections tend towards the rare, magical and undeniably Balearic, from the glassy-eyed, cascading jazz-funk of the Keyboys and loved-up post-boogie sweetness of Gemini's "Take a Chance", to the sparkling Euro-electro of Miss' "Hip Hop" and pitched-down drum machine chug of Gigi Flag's "Nymphomaniac (Instrumental)". Essential.
Review: Curiosities is the second album in the trilogy from in-demand New Zealand multi-instrumentalist and producer Lord Echo. Six years after initial release, this reissue sounds as vital as ever and is extra DJ-friendly given that it is spread across two slabs of wax. It covers plenty of ground from escapist tropical ambient to lovably lazy dubs via vivid disco-funk. Highlights come in the form of "Molten Lava" and its heart wrenching vocals and the gospel grooves of "The Creator Has A Master Plan". Winter might be fast approaching, but so long as you have sounds as warm and sunny as these around, summer will never feel too far away.
Review: When it comes to offering up albums of carnival-ready Latin-soul, it could be argued that Gabriele Poso is in a league of his own. Certainly, his 2018 set for BBE, "Awakening" was superb, and this follow-up on Soundway is every bit as good. The South American influences - think samba, Azymuth sytle jazz-funk, Brazilian boogie, MPB etc -catch the ear throughout, alongside his extensive use of warming synthesizers, sun-kissed electronics and his own voice, which seems to get richer and more seductive with each successive release. The quality threshold remains so high throughout that it's barely worth picking out highlights: it's literally "all good", and you really should check out the album when you get a chance.
Tony Grey & The Ozimba Messengers - "You Are The One" (7:22)
Sonny Okosuns - "Oba Erediauwa I" (6:20)
The Wings - "Single Boy" (4:02)
Geraldo Pino - "Power To The People" (5:43)
Original Wings - "Igba Alusi" (7:03)
Don Bruce & The Angels - "Sugar Baby" (6:32)
Geraldo Pino - "Africans Must Unite" (5:51)
Review: Back in 2017, Soul Jazz offered up a superb box set of seven 7" singles featuring a wealth of 1970s Nigerian afro-rock, afro-funk and afro-disco. Since then the box has been changing hands for significant sums online, so they've bowed to pressure and decided to reissue it as a gatefold double album. It features the same combination of tracks from the likes of Geraldo Pino, Tony Grey, The Wings and MFB, though this time they've been included in a different order. For those interested in raw, raucous and life-affirming Nigerian dance music from the period, it should be an essential purchase (providing, of course, they don't already own the previous box set).
Review: The Studio One catalogue is the gift that keeps on giving, and Soul Jazz continually play Santa. This latest comprehensive collection is a great compilation of some of the best DJs and MCs to have been involved in reggae. Vital Jamaican stars like Dillinger, Prince Jazzbo and Lone Ranger all feature next to more hardcore names and some choice rare cuts. Spanning the 70s and into the mid-1980s, this 18-track offering gives a glimpse into the evolution of reggae to more digital and dancehall styles that come later, all with specially commissioned sleeve notes by Fashion Records head honcho Chris Lane.
Martha Reeves & The Vandellas - "I Can't Dance To That Music You're Playin'" (3:57)
The Jackson 5 - "The Love You Save" (4:17)
Bobby Taylor & The Vancouvers - "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" (3:43)
Sam & Dave - "Soul Sister, Brown Sugar" (3:18)
Aretha Franklin - "A Change" (3:33)
Sugar Pie DeSanto - "Go Go Power" (4:20)
Joy Lovejoy - "In Orbit" (3:52)
Judy Clay & William Bell - "Private Number" (4:30)
Review: Jobbing DJs will do well to pick this one up: it's a way to bring some original soul into your sets while also serving up some big tunes that people know and love. These careful edits pump up the sunny elements, layer in funky riffs, energetic strings and up the tempos of tried and tested classics from The Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye, Sam & Dave and plenty more golden oldies. Our picks: Bobby Taylor & The Vancouvers' fine cover of "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" and Sugar Pie DeSanto's hardcore swinger "Go Go Power" that's sure to get those hips moving.
Review: As long as there is hip-hop, debate will rage as to which album by A Tribe Called Quest is their finest. Of course, they're all superb, but 1993's "Midnight Marauders" - their third full-length - may well be the best of all. That's a big call, but we'd ask any doubters to give it another listen. The New York crew is in particularly fine form on the mic throughout, while the backing tracks, which make great use of crunchy, head-nodding beats and hundreds of superb, hand-picked samples, are amongst the most intricately produced, groovy and deep ever committed to wax. It's one of those hip-hop sets that should be in the collection of any committed music head, and not just rap fans.
Between The Lines (feat Keyon Harrold & Sparkz) (4:42)
Introspection (feat Theo Croker) (5:00)
Cranes (In The Sky) (5:47)
I Still Believe (feat Milton Suggs) (5:41)
Elipsis (interlude) (1:07)
Dark Honey (4TheStorm) (feat Makaya McCraven) (5:48)
Pressure (instrumental) (4:41)
Lullaby (Rise & Shine) (feat Judi Jackson) (3:55)
Battle (feat Binker & Moses) (4:32)
The Mighty (feat Ben Marc) (3:31)
Review: South London pianist and composer Ashley Henry is a versatile musician who can move between all niches within his musical realm: hip hop, broken beat, jazz and fusion flows from his finger tips and all characterise his expansive and expressive new album "Beautiful Vinyl Hunter". Stellar collaborators Makaya McCraven, Judi Jackson and MC Sparkz amongst others all help enrich this album as it flows from post-bop to classic jazz to neo-soul in thrilling fashion. Rooted in tradition but with a distinctly London edge that soars to new heights, this record sets a new benchmark for the contemporary scene.
Worship Me In The Sanctuary Of Transcendence (4:35)
Rodrigo Syntese System (6:48)
Ingesloten In Een Museum (8:04)
Norwegian Raven (part 1) (18:55)
Norwegian Raven (part 2) (19:29)
Review: For those who missed the memo, Occult Oriented Crime is one of several hundred alter egos occasionally used by Legowelt man Danny Wolfers. He first donned the pseudonym in 2014 for "The Occult Orientated Crime Album", a stunning but previously digital-only outing that has finally made it to vinyl for the very first time. From start to finish, the set prioritizes mood and atmosphere over club-focused rhythms, with Wolfers offering up a range of evocative, heavily electronic ambient soundscapes. While some cuts sound like Radiophonic Workshop doodles or Pete Namlook style immersive synth-scapes, others wrap delay-laden pianos around a whisper of electronic texture; throughout, Wolfers proves a masterful maker of meditative ambient bliss.
Review: Aside from a pair of releases on Horizontal Ground, and one appearance for the magnetic Edit Select, the enigmatic SNTS has chosen to reserve his/her releases for his/her own self-titled label. While the artist has only released EP's in the past, The Rustling Of The Leaves marks a debut LP effort. As you'd expect, the work is made up of chilling soundscapes, sinister sonics and grey-scaled ambient, but it's the way in which SNTS assembles beats around these elements that is impressive. "Backwoods", for example, flutters its subtle beats seamlessly into a hollow cave of drones and religious chanting, while a tune like "Remission" is what the inside of a power station would sound ike at night. For those who love their techno textures dark and sparse, this is it.
Review: On his 2008 debut album "Where You Go, I Go Too", Hans-Peter Lindstrom offered up a grandiose vision that was almost cinematic in scope. His new album, "On A Clear Day I Can See You Forever", opts for a similar approach, delivering a quartet of atmospheric, moody and filmic cuts that slowly rise, fall and unfurl throughout their duration. Whether or not he becomes Norway's answer to Vangelis, that's the kind of vibe we get from stunningly icy and alien ambient opener "On A Clear Day I Can See You Forever" and the bubbly, uptempo throb of "Really Deep Snow". It's there, too, on the outer-space bliss of "Swing Low Sweet LFO" (we chuckled, at least) - think Radiophonic Workshop meets Jean-Michel Jarre - and the melancholic, modular-sounding beauty of clicking and echoing closing cut "As If No One Is Here". In a word: stunning.
Review: Barely six weeks after dropping her debut single on River Rapid, Henrietta Smith-Rolla pops up on Skam with a surprise debut album. As first full length excursions go, "Break Before Make" is undeniably impressive. Beginning with the spooky, minor key electronics and angular IDM rhythms of "Day Turner", the 14 track set sees Smith-Rolla successfully turn her hand to bittersweet synth-wave ("And!"), dystopian pitched-down electronica ("Guess What"), spacey electro ("Work It", "Wtfwtfwtf"), clandestine electronic soundscapes (the panicked shuffle of "Blanket Ban") and grandiose sci-fi soundtrack fare ("The Middle Middle"). Throughout, the Manchester-based producer consistently delivers otherworldly musical melancholia with a panache not associated with a producer of her relative inexperience.
The Hungry Ghosts/We Live In An Old Chaos Of The Sun (20:34)
The Silence Of Animals/The Truth Is, It Wanted To Cave In (22:50)
Review: Set as a soundtrack to a series of choreographed performances from the Iceland Dance Company, "Variations On Darkness" may arguably act as a counterpart to separate Record Store Day exclusive "22 Lunar Halo". This release is a culmination of various moments of Sigur Ros' career awashed with discordant, penetrating soundscapes across the two epics, "The Hungry Ghosts/We Live In An Old Chaos Of The Sun" and "The Silence Of Animals/The Truth Is, It Wanted To Cave In". Our pick is the latter which is something of an intoxicating build-up, brought together by haphazard, glitchy samples that may even cross the IDM territory, before concluding with a suitably grandiose ending to an epic trip. A tough listen, for sure, but all the more rewarding.
Review: Shogun duo Technicolour and Komatic cut their third album to deluxe wax comprising two white 12"s and two coloured 10"s... And it sounds every bit as good as it looks. Soulful yet varied in its scope and range, it's the most confident and clearest LP the duo have given us so far as it ranges from the darker, gnarlier minimal twists of "True Believer" to the more signature flourishing orchestration of cuts like "Weightless (feat Lucy Kitchen)" and naked introspection such as "The Nightfall (feat Jono McCleery)". And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Potential drum & bass album of the year.
Review: Margaret Chardiet's semi-regular album outings as Pharmakon are always worth a listen, if only to recoil at the intensity of her unsettling blends of buzzing industrial noise, paranoid vocal screams, throbbing aural textures, forthright mangled guitar riffs and rusty, razor-sharp power electronics. "Devour" is the artist's fourth album for Sacred Bones and her first new set for two years. It explores similar sonic territory to its predecessors, offering claustrophobic, mind-mangling soundscapes that are creepy, disturbed, awe-inspiring and sonically challenging in equal measures. In some ways, calling out individual tracks as highlights seems pointless: this is a singular, ever-changing work that sees Chardiet escort us on a nightmarish journey through experimental extremes.
Review: "The Practice Of Love" is Jenny Hval's seventh full-length, and it's the sort of listen that can wash over you while you get lost in a reverie, or take you on a deeply involving inward journey if you tune in to the lyrics. Her voice is angelic, and muses on subjects like growing old, our place in the world, and the notion of intimacy. Highlights are plentiful throughout, from the fantastically strong title track with its vulnerable and tender spoken words, folky synth lullaby "Thumbsucker" and "Accident", which could well be a rave comedown with its lilting trance chords and dreamy keys. Quite the trip.
Review: Unlike much of Ennio Morricone collaborator Alessandro Alessandroni's work, 1974 set "Prisma Sonoro" was not the soundtrack to a well-known film or TV show, but rather a collection of instrumental pieces composed for a music library. It's long been regarded as one of the finest examples of Italian library music around, so it's great seeing it get the reissue treatment. Much of it is pleasingly cheery, sunny and laidback, with Alessandroni doffing a cap to folk, samba and MPB as much as easy listening, classical and soundtrack style jazz. It's typical of his versatility, of course, with the intricacy of the arrangements and subtle musical details making it a set that you can return to time and time again.
Review: Since initial release in 2003, this classic from Atmosphere has been in and out of print and received various represses as a result. It is the gift that keeps on giving, frankly, it is an album takes you on a metaphorical journey through politics, emotions and the physical. Personal stories and vulnerable truths come from Slug's rich writing and richer delivery combined with complex rhythms, cosmic synths and funky drums that all help elevate the record yet further. It might not get the props of many of its peers, but this underrated gem should be on the shelves of any discerning hip hop collector.
Review: Given that it's called "Coloured" and appears on shocking pink vinyl, you'd expect Adam Longman Parker's debut album as Afriqua to be a decidedly vibrant and kaleidoscopic affair. It is, of course, with Longman Parker offering up tracks that mix tropical-sounding electronics, glassy-eyed synthesizer motifs, processed vocal sounds and evocative musical flourishes with jaunty, interesting rhythms that neatly sidestep conventional genre rules. It's a mixture that makes for hugely enjoyable listening, with highlights coming thick and fast. These include - though are by no means limited to - the densely layered dancefloor cheekiness of "Shout", the minimalist ambient bliss of "Noir", the hypnotic, intergalactic oddness of "Native Sun" and the bubbly club warmth of "Jumpteenth".