Review: When you use words like "prickly", "abrasive" and "uncompromising" it's rarely flattering. Consider Kim Gordon's exceptional powerhouse long form one of the exceptions. As far removed from music for the masses as you could hope for, it takes a particular talent to deliver work like "No Record Home". Labels such as punk certainly apply, but it's less about mouths gushing spittle amid the deafening screams of guitars and raucous vocals, and more about overall attitude. No change there for this co-founder of the mighty Sonic Youth then. Loud and intelligent, forthright and yet heartfelt and tender in its own unforgiving way, it's as far removed from wall of sound discordance as it is anything you could describe as remotely over-explored. Marrying the bloody-lipped electro of Peaches and body blow lows of EBM with gritty rock 'n' roll chords, those looking for originality that oozes repeatability should consider their hunt over, for now at least.
Review: Three years on from the release of her acclaimed debut album, "Epoch Sinus", on Hotflush, Sophie Schnell once more dons the PYUR alias for a follow-up on Subtext. The Bristol-based experimental label says that the set explores Schnell's fascination with "the space between life and death"; it's certainly an unearthly, unsettling and occasionally hallucinatory affair that fuses neo-classical style musical elements (strings, operatic vocals) with evocative electronic motifs, crunchy IDM style drums and cutting-edge production techniques. It's a genuinely unique and mind-altering affair, but one that thrills and excites at every turn. A triumph!
Jarvis Cocker/David Cunningham - "The Interrogative Mood"
The Katzenjammers - "Cars"
Joseph & Louise Spence - "Won't That Be A Happy Time"
Andrew Wartts & The Gospel Storytellers - "Peter & John"
Bob Welch - "Don't Wait Too Long"
Alternative TV - "Cold Rain"
Serafina Steer - "Day Glo"
The Kings Singers - "After The Gold Rush"
Miranda July - "Rock Intro"
Morgana King - "It's A Quiet Thing"
Nina Simone - "Baltimore"
Art Garfunkel - "Waters Of March"
The Legendary Tigerman - "The Whole World's Got Eyes On You"
Cabaret Voltaire - "The Single"
Derek Cain/Derek Bowskill - "December"
Deanna Storey/John Brion - "Little Person"
Jake Thakray - "Old Molly Metcalf"
The Camarata Contemporary Chamber Group - "Gymnopedie No 3"
The Phoenix Foundation/Christopher Hitchens - "Corale/Thoughts On Religion"
Headless Heroes - "True Love Will Find You In The End"
Review: He will forever be known as the frontman of Pulp, but for many music lovers Jarvis Cocker has also won our affections with his erudite selections for his BBC 6 Music show. Entitled Jarvis Cocker's Sunday Service, it ran every week from 2010 to 2017 and now a selection of his personal favourites get the compilation treatment. Reflecting the mood of most Sundays, the music is soothing, soft and mellow, but always high quality. There are stunning covers or Beyonce by Anthony & the Jonsons and Gary Numan's "Cars" on steel drums, plaintive piano pieces from John Baker and a classic from Nina Simone amongst a whole treasure trove of gems.
Metal Banshee ( Mad Professor Mix One) (CD2: Mezzanine Mad Professor)
Angel (Angel Dust)
Teardrop (Mazaruni dub One)
Inertia Creeps (Floating On dubwise)
Risingson (Setting Sun dub Two)
Exchange (Mountain Steppers dub)
Wire (Leaping dub)
Group Four (Security Forces dub)
Review: Two decades have passed since Massive Attack signaled a new stage in their career with the dark, paranoid and claustrophobic brilliance of "Mezzanine", their third studio album. Given the current global political climate, it arguably sounds even more relevant 20 years after it first hit stores. This time round, the re-mastered original set comes accompanied by something none of us have heard before: Mad Professor's complete dub translation, which was slated for release around the turn of the Millennium but for one reason or another never came out. Like his take on "No Protection", it's an inspired set of revisions that takes 3D and Daddy G's dense and red-eyed originals into wild new bass-heavy places. Even if you own the original version already, it's well worth picking up this special edition just for that alone.
Review: He may now be 72, but legendary highlife vocalist Pat Thomas still has the desire to make new music. In fact his previous set, 2015's "Pat Thomas & The Kwashibuu Area Band" - a collaboration with producer Ben Abarbanel-Wolff, storied Ghanian highlife bandleader Kwame Yeboah and musicians including fellow West African heavyweights Tony Allen and Ebo Taylor - is arguably one of the strongest albums of his lengthy career. This belayed follow-up is equally as inspired, with the golden-voiced Ghanaian vocalist providing the attention-grabbing focal point throughout. Yet while Thomas's vocals are as sublime as ever, it's the quality and detail of the accompanying music - a mix of laid back and dancefloor-ready highlife in the style he made famous in the 1970s - that really stands out.
Review: The Allergies' debut album introduced the world to the way they effortlessly fuse funk, soul, disco, hip-hop and breaks into dancefloor-ready nuggets of ear candy. Taking classic sounds and reshaping them for the modern age is the signature that won them plaudits across the globe. Not ones to rest on their laurels, it hasn't taken long for them to deliver more of the goods on their second full-length album. As well as taking the successful formula of the first record and expanding on their sound, the band enlisted two giants of underground hip-hop to bless mics on the album as well. After a hugely successful collaboration on their debut LP, once again the dynamic lyricism and production skills of the inimitable Andy Cooper (Ugly Duckling) are present and correct in this new collection.
Review: The latest missive from crate-digging reissue imprint Rocafort Records shines a light on the halcyon period of Evasion Disques, an imprint founded by members of rebellious French rock band Les (Faux) Freres in the late 1960s. Comprising 12 little-known cuts released on the label between 1970 and '73, the collection does a terrific job in highlighting the wide-eyed, psychedelic era brilliance of some of the label's now forgotten artists. Listeners can expect to hear a mixture of bluesy psychedelic rock, low-down Gallic funk, dream pop, Ramsey Lewis style excursions (see Hand's brilliant "Shifting Leads") and slightly kitsch instrumental workouts guaranteed to put smiles on faces.
Review: With recent releases for Internasjonal and Tim Sweeney's Beats In Space Records, Los Angeles based producer Secret Circuit (otherwise known as Eddie Ruscha) has had a breakthrough year with his brittle synth jams, taking inspiration from Balearic disco and minimal wave alike. However, he's been a prolific producer since 1996, and this record on Emotional Response, entitled Tropical Psychedelics, collects productions from Rusha up until 2010 that have previously only seen the light of day on cassette releases. Described by the label as a "Balearic-Tropical-Afro-Psychedelic whirl", the album packs a rich palette of analogue textures into its ten tracks, from the Afro dub of "Afrobotics", through the hazy, beatless combination of piano and analogue synth on "Psouvenirs" to the psychedelic tropicalia of "Foggy Twilights".
Review: After Hamid kicked off the H+ label last year he returns with an intriguing double pack that draws on a wide variety of collaborators to turn out some truly innovative leftfield house music sounds. There's an overarching theme of micro house hovering around Methods For The Madness Vol 1, but it's far from run of the mill stuff. The opening cut featuring Josh Tweek is a sparkling, swinging affair that piles on the funk and the delirious effects, while Jesse Morrison's own turn on the closing track winds up in a haunting, abstract slice of refined reduction.
Wojciech Karolak - "Discopus Nr 1" (part 1&2 - If Music extended edit) (7:55)
Alojz Bouda - "Random (Naslepo)" (2:31)
Polski Jazz Ensemble - "Song For Ewa" (7:22)
Prince Igor Yahilevich - "Double Sun" (7:19)
Andrzej Korzynski - "L'Arme Du Milicien - Patkarz" (3:07)
Binder Quintet - "Sirato (Dirge)" (feat John Tchicai) (6:42)
Review: If Music duo Jean-Claude Thompson and Adrian Magrys head up this fine six-track forage through the '70s and '80s archives of Eastern Europe. Stylistically, there doesn't seem to be an over-riding theme, it plays out more like a diverse selection of archival cuts spanning Poland, Hungary, Russia and Slovakia that will delight the more adventurous dancefloors. Thus you get infectious Polish disco grooves from Wojciech Karolak and Andrzej Korzyn?ski nestled alongside the break-laden jazz bustle of "Song For Ewa" of the Polski Jazz Ensemble. Similar styles abound with Russian-born "Prince Igor" Yahilevich and Hungary's Binder Quintet, whilst Alojz Bouda delivers our personal favourite in the shape of "Random," a suitably-titled oddball synth banger that originates from the Slovakian's 1980 album Synthesizer Sound
Review: Since he's such a prolific collaborator and creator of bands, it's easy to overlook the fact that Will Holland hasn't released a solo album as Quantic for almost five years. "Atlantic Oscillations", then, is a welcome return - particularly since Tru Thoughts boss Robert Luis thinks it's Holland's "most cohesive and intricate album to date". It's certainly a strong collection, with Holland wrangling multiple styles, tempos and musical influences to create cuts that defy easy categorization. While there are downtempo moments, "Atlantic Oscillations" includes more bona-fide club cuts then he's delivered in recent years, with sun-kissed disco cut "September Blues", Cuban disco-funk workout "Atlantic Oscillations" and Afro-Latin house bumper "Motivic Retrograde" standing out.
Brian Auger's Oblivion Express - "Foolish Girl" (feat Alex Ligertwood)
The New Mastersounds - "Tantalus"
The Getup - "Hush"
Orquesta Akokan - "Mambo Rapidito"
Gizelle Smith - "Scared Of Something"
Menagerie - "Spiral"
Review: Craig Charles' annual "Funk & Soul Club" compilations are fast becoming as much of a Christmas tradition as turkey, dodgy decorations and ill-advised snogs at office parties. As with its predecessor, this sixth volume does a good job in showcasing the best in modern funk, soul, Afrobeat and heavy Latin jams, with a few stone cold classics thrown in (see the Mighty Ryeders' peerless "Evil Vibrations"). Look out for deep and heavy funk gems from the Bamboos, the New Mastersounds and Lance Ferguson's Rare Groove Spectrum, some suitably smooth fare from Courtney Pine and Omar, a scintillating, salsa-focused cover of "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" by Scotland's Grupo Magnetico, and a dash of dancefloor goodness from funk breaks scene stalwarts Smoove and Turrell.
Review: UK funk and jazz band, Smoove + Turrell, are back on the unstoppable Jalapeno Records with their fifth studio album for the label, making them the imprint's star residents. Alongside the deluge of LPs that they've released for Jalapeno, the outfit have dropped countless singles, each one of them showcasing one strand of funk and soul. Mount Pleasant is an undeniably festive collection of tunes, primed and ready for the summer months, full of zest and life for the dancers. The main ingredient is funk and jazz, but the power behind this memorable LP is the band's pop sensibility, coming through in everything from the vocals to the arrangements, creating a selection of tunes that are instantly memorable and painfully hummable. Is this the rise of the underground coming through above the line? Only time will tell, but we think these guys are the real deal.
Review: Last year, D&B heavyweights Serum, Voltage and Bladerunner joined forces to deliver two rave inspired EPs of heavyweight club jams under the Kings Of The Rollers alias. Here the experienced trio offers up its eponymous debut album, an unashamedly heavyweight affair packed to the rafters with punchy rollers, mind-mangling tech-step tear-outs and gargantuan future D&B anthems. It's a little more varied than their DJ-friendly EPs, with the pandemonium-inducing smashers being joined by a variety of vocal numbers (see the Inja-sporting "M-O-V-E", grandiose "The Sky Is Falling" featuring Lydia Plain and thrillingly weighty MC Bassman hook-up "Rockers") and occasional forays into jazzier and more melodious territory. Yet for all the subtle variety and surprise diversions, it's the sheer club-ready heaviness of the whole thing that really sets the pulse racing.
The Cosmic Rays - "Daddy's Gonna Tell You No Lie" (1:51)
The Cosmic Rays - "Dreaming" (2:43)
The Cosmic Rays - "Daddy's Gonna Tell You No Lie" (3:04)
The Cosmic Rays - "Bye Bye" (with Le Sun Ra & His Arkestra) (2:51)
The Cosmic Rays - "Somebody's In Love" (with Le Sun Ra & His Arkestra) (1:48)
Le Sun Ra & His Arkestra - "Medicine For A Nightmare" (2:38)
Le Sun Ra & His Arkestra - "Saturn" (3:03)
Le Sun Ra & His Arkestra - "Supersonic Jazz" (2:36)
The Qualities - "Happy New Year To You!" (1:50)
The Qualities - "It's Christmas Time" (2:46)
Yochanan - "Muck Muck" (2:48)
Yochanan - "Hot Skillet Mama" (3:13)
Le Sun Ra & His Arkestra - "Great Balls Of Fire" (5:28)
Le Sun Ra & His Arkestra - "Hours After" (2:48)
Review: Jeanne Dielman is the label in charge of the Sun Ra oddities this time, quite the task if you ask given the bottomless pit that is the man's work. The Italian label has chosen a specific angle, though, and rather than releasing his wackier and looser shades of jazz, we are presented with Ra's early work from the 1950's that sounds a little closer to pop, or even r&b. The Cosmic Rays make a fine addition with their chirpy vocals riding high above Ra's wayward arrangements; there's some more uptempo jazz in a classic Arkestra coating; but the distinctiveness of this particular compilation is in its tone and sense of romanticism, something that the deeper and more mystical Sun Ra releases do not contain. There's even a Christmas song in there...
Review: "Ma Fleur" is the first full studio album by Jason Swinscoe's Cinematic Orchestra since 2002's "Everyday". The record was written as the soundtrack to a specially commissioned screenplay for an imagined film (which may or may not be made). Shortly after finishing "Everyday", a piece of music which achieved great critical and commercial success, Jason Swinscoe relocated from East London to Paris. Here he began work on the instrumentals which would form the basis of his new record - more moods than finished tracks, a series of sketches or diagrams of directions to follow. Having completed a rough version by early 2005, he gave this to a friend who disappeared for three weeks and came back with short story scripts in which each scene represented a story of a different time in life, expressing the emotions which underpin the journey from birth to death. Jason then took this and worked some more on the tracks, and in turn gave this back to his scriptwriter, the two aspects of the project developing alongside one another. Gradually, Swinscoe recruited suitable vocalists for the atmospheres and themes he wanted to deal with. The remarkable Fontella Bass, who is now sadly in frail health, is the woman behind both legendary soul number "Rescue Me" as well as some of the Art Ensemble of Chicago's finest moments, had worked on "Everyday" and was an obvious choice to voice the parts of the elderly protagonist that Swinscoe envisaged. Mercury-nominated Lou Rhodes is not only a fantastic singer but a young mother and so perfect for the "mid-life" singer. The as-yet unheralded Patrick Watson, a remarkable vocalist from Montreal, became the youngest of the trio.
Review: Soma regular SLV is the epitome of techno cool; a producer who eschews press coverage and instead just serves up regular musical missives from his East Berlin studio. "Berlin: A Portrait In Music" is the shadowy producer's second full-length outing following last year's largely club-focused "Origin of Light" on Virgo. It has a very different feel to its predecessor, with SLV offering up a series of atmospheric ambient cuts built around evocative field recordings, gentle melodies, ghostly chords, crackling aural textures and occasional delay-laden percussion hits. While there is some contemplative positivity - see the impeccable sound design of "Forest Voices" and Jonny Nash style bliss of "Mirage" - the majority of the album is surprisingly poignant and melancholic, with SLV embracing the solitude and loneliness sometimes associated with living in a major European city.
Sex Murder Party (feat Jamie Principle & Zebra Katz)
She's My Collar (feat Kali Uchis)
The Elephant (interlude)
Halleujah Money (feat Benjamin Clementine)
We Got The Power (Version 2:18:482) (feat Jehnny Beth)
Review: 17 years on from the release of their infamous debut album, Jamie Hewlett and Damon Albarn's "virtual band" returns with a fifth full-length. This time round, they're rather angry, delivering a set that lyrically muses on everything from wars in the Middle East, the alt-right and racism, to mental illness, the Internet echo chamber and, most peculiarly of all, the importance of soul to Essex suburbanites in the 1980s. As usual, it's a thrill-a-minute mesh of musical styles and intermingling ideas, with a cast list of supporting characters that includes Chicago original Jamie Principle, De La Soul, Grace Jones, Jean-Michel Jarre, Mavis Staples and, most bizarrely given his history with Albarn, Noel Gallagher. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Malaria! - "Your Turn To Run (I Will Be Your Only One)"
Ausserhalb - "Zeitzelle"
Die Haut - "Der Karibische Western"
Aus Lauter Liebe - "Pingelig"
Mania D - "Track 4"
ExKurs - "Fakten"
Christiane F - "Wunderbar" (JD Twitch edit)
Sprung Aus Den Wolken - "Dub & Die"
P1/E - "Up And Above/Up & Above Dub"
Franz Erlmeier & Fritz Kostler - "Offnen Sie Mal Ihre Tasche"
Populare Mechanik - "Scharfer Schnitt (No 1)"
Andreas Dorau - "Fred Vom Jupiter"
Weltklang - "Veb Heimat"
Stefan Bloser - "Voyager One"
Matthias Schuster - "An Rah Robeel"
Review: When it comes to compilation making there's probably no two safer names in the art than Strut Records and Optimo's JD Twitch (and maybe the one Trevor Jackson too). This time around though, surprise surprise, Twitch collides a choice selection of oddball rarities and mythical classics from Germany's original post-punk and DIY scene, and in the process gives the behemoth Vinyl-on-demand label a dashing run for its money. There's a staggering amount of music to be discovered here that will send your mind running down one of Berlin's dank strasses or a Dresden ditch, but after hearing tracks like "Your Turn To Run" by Malaria! or Twitch's own edit of Christiane F "Wunderbar" you may be left wondering why you've been listening to Talking Heads and "Eisbear" this whole time.
Review: Thanks to an upsurge in interest in zouk, the synthesizer-heavy tropical style that emerged from the French Antilles in the early 1980s, reissues of superb but hard to find gems from the style's original heyday are becoming increasingly popular. This one from Strut Records is a peach. Originally released in 1988, "Las Pale" is the sole album from Feeling Kreyol, a female trio from Guadeloupe assembled and produced by local studio buffs Darius Denon and Frankie Brumier. It remains a brilliantly effervescent and colourful set, with the trio adding strong and attractive to distinctively tropical drum machine rhythms, shimmering synths, kaleidoscopic melodies and jangling guitars. In other words, it's a giddy blast of electronic tropical brilliance. Don't sleep.
Review: Five years have passed since Andrew Bayer made a big impression with his silky second album, "If I Were You, I'd Never Leave". While informed by his progressive house and Washington D.C techno roots, it was a largely downtempo and laidback affair that suited sofa-bound listening sessions more than sweaty club sets. This belated follow-up takes a similarly head-in-the-clouds approach, serving up a sensual selection of sweet songs that variously touch on Balearic two-step (the glistening "Open End Resource"), post-dubstep pop ("Hold On To You", the deliciously bass-heavy "Immortal Lover"), sweeping, hands-aloft trip-hop anthems ("Love You More") and melodius, radio-friendly dancefloor workouts ("Your Eyes", "End Of All Things").
Toast To Our Differences (feat Shungudzo, Protoje & Hak Baker)
Let Me Live (with Major Lazer - feat Anne-Marie & Mr Eazi)
Dark Clouds (feat Jess Glynne & Chronixx)
Walk Alone (feat Tom Walker)
Thula Ungakhlai (feat Ladysmith Black Mambazo)
These Days (feat Jess Glynne, Macklemore & Dan Caplen)
Sun Comes Up (feat James Arthur)
1 By 1 (feat RAYE & Maleek Berry)
Last Time (feat Raphaella)
No Pain (feat Maverick Sabre, Kojey Radical & Kabaka Pyramid)
Scared Of Love (feat Ray Blk & Stefflon Don)
Summer Love (with Rita Ora)
They Don't Care About Us (feat Maverick Sabre & YEBBA)
Do You Remember (feat Kevin Garrett)
Leave It For Tomorrow (feat Elli Ingram)
Adrenaline (feat OLIVIA)
Review: Rudimental's third full-length, "Toast To Our Differences", was originally slated for release back in September, but ended up being delayed. So was it worth the wait? It's certainly a colourful, vibrant and expansive affair, with the quartet drawing on a far wider palette of influences than were evident on their previous albums. Check, for example, the title track's glistening, South African style tropical pop, the piano-powered cheeriness of "These Days", the soaring power pop of previous single "Sun Comes Up" and the auto-tune heavy EDM-house stomp of "Scared of Love". Given their superstar status, it's unsurprising to see an impressive cast list of guests and collaborators - Major Lazer, Rita Ora and Ladysmith Black Mambazo included - while this "Deluxe Edition" includes a trio of extra tracks.
Review: This first album on Kode9's deeply-respected Hyperdub label comes from the mysterious Burial, who carves out a sound which sends the dormant slinky syncopations of UK garage, via radio interference, into a padded cell of cushioned, muffled bass, passing through clouds of Pole's dense crackle dub en route. 'Burial' - the album - explores a tangential, parallel dimension of the growing dubstep ouevre, using sounds set in a near-future South London submerged underwater. You can never tell if the crackle is the burning static off pirate radio transmissions, or the tropical downpour of the city outside, taking its loud-quiet aesthetic neither from the latest digital glitch software nor a mere nostalgia for vinyl's intrinsic physicality. In their sometimes suffocating melancholy, most of these tracks seem to yearn for drowned lovers, as haunted echoed voices breeze in and out, on roads to and from other times. The smouldering desire of 'Distant Lights' is cooled only by the percussive ice-sharp slicing of blades and jets of hot air blowing from the bass. Listen also for a fleeting appearance from Hyperdub's resident vocalist, the Spaceape, unravelling his cryptobiography. 'Burial' is a renegade signal from other frequencies, a tidal wave of seductive low-impact noise submerging all but the crispest syncopations, and is well on course to be universally welcomed as the standard-bearer for creative vision built upon the grime and dubstep blueprint.
Review: It's been a while since Ikonika dropped a full-length excursion. In fact, Distractions is her first album since 2013. It largely sticks to the bass-heavy fusion script she's been perfecting since making her debut on Hyperdub back in 2008. That means attractive and weighty R&B and hip-hop beats, aural ticks lifted from techno, the surging low-end movements that mark out British-made dance music, and occasional blasts of boogue-flavoured synth riffs. Pleasingly, the guest list of vocalists and collaborators includes MC Jammz, Andrea Galaxy, Jessy Lanza and Night Slugs' Sweyn Jupiter, all of who make fine contributions to enhance Ikonika's "futurist and industrial" approach.
Review: Ty Segall, one of the leading lights and most hard-working artists of America's west coast garage scene, perfectly balances quality and quantity with 'Freedom's Goblin', his tenth studio album under his own name (include his live records, aliases and collaborations, and the total body of work effectively doubles). Having seemingly ditched the songwriting rules he had set himself on previous albums, 'Freedom's Goblin' sees Ty Segall at his most explosive and full-throttle, inventively exploring the many avenues of sub-genres of rock and psychedelia. Consisting of 19 ironclad songs that clock in at nearly eighty minutes, this is an expansive and exhilarating album that never becomes tiring. The wild combination of flawless production (co-engineered by the legendary Nirvana producer Steve Albini) and Segall's balance of raw power and melodic sensibility, makes 'Freedom's Goblin' another astoundingly high-calibre addition to an already colossal catalogue.
Jam Session 3 (live at Club Tape Berlin MP3 Format - data track)
Review: The first two Jus-Ed curated mix CDs from Berlin's Tape club are now stuff of legend, and in May 2011 the Underground Quality don returned to Germany for a mid week night of nothin' but the finest house jams. On this occasion the Bridgeport don was joined by Panorama Bar resident Steffi and Virginia (who provided a couple of memorable vocal turns on Steffi's recent album), and the results were recorded and put on this here CD. No casing on this, just a basic white pouch - raw packaging for some raw tunes!
Review: Since leaving his hardcore metal drummer past behind, Olafur Arnalds has gone on to become one of the most lauded composers and producers of his generation, balancing experimental work that blends neo-classical movements with most rock and abstract electronics, with acclaimed work for film and television. Re:member is the Icelander's first album since working on the Broadchurch soundtrack and undeniably his most high profile release to date. It's also fiendishly cutting edge, utilizing specially created software to trigger new sequences (as well as randomized electronic feedback) on two pianos chained to his primary instrument. These elements, naturally mixed with strings, live percussion and the multi-instrumentalist's own considered electronics, combine to create a mesmerizing and thoroughly absorbing album.
Review: Since releasing his first Floating Points record back in 2009, Sam Shepherd has constantly surprised. Predictably, he's done it again with Reflections: Mojave Desert, an album created from impromptu recordings of his live band made during a visit to Joshua Tree National Park. Inspired by their surroundings and the natural environment, Shepherd's ensemble have created a five-track set - and accompanying Super 8 film, shot and edited by the band's traveling visual artist - that's as atmospheric as anything the producer has released to date. While a unique proposition with its own distinctive vibe, the tracks variously touch on ambient, new age, spiritual jazz, woozy electronica, post-rock and the kind of Stockhausen-inspired experimentalism explored on Ragnar Grippe's recently reissued "Sand".
Review: Since their widely lauded 2015 debut 'A Dream Outside', London based four-piece Gengahr have devoted a significant amount of time touring and working on 'Where Wildness Grows' a follow-up that stridently meets expectations. Their music builds on UK indie of the early-mid noughties, with doses of a contemporary psych-pop aesthetic. The songwriting here is ambitious and broad, tracks going from breezy sun-flecked pop, to Maccabees-esque epics, to reverberating soundscapes, to stark angular guitars over almost funk grooves. It's clear just how much time and care the band have put into the record, with every song showcasing their intricate writing, layering and structures. 'Where Wildness Grows' is a lush and urgent sophomore record, and a giant leap forward for the band.
Review: This release marks a new chapter for Levon Vincent's Novel Sound label. For starters, the fiendishly eclectic and left-of-centre set is the first imprint release not produced by the acclaimed head honcho. Instead, it comes from one of his oldest friends, record store worker turned producer Eric Maltz. There's much to admire amongst the six, hard to pigeonhole tracks, from the rubbery synth bass, glacial new wave synth melodies and bustling techno drums of "Bring You" and the seductive, wonderfully fluid Larry Heard style deep house of "We Have Power", to the drifting dub techno weirdness of "All The Things" and lo-fi rock-tronica of fuzzy opener "Drone Y Bassa". The album's obligatory ambient moment, "Symphony at Dawn", is also impeccable.
Review: When Fernando Corona's era-defining debut album "Martes" in 2002 it managed to gain plaudits and accolades from almost every end of the cultural spectrum, appearing at the top of numerous end-of-year lists and even managing to get a slot on BBC2's revered/mocked (delete were applicable) Late Review programme. Of course, it was never going to be an easy album to follow, so it's reassuring to see that Murcof's sound has folded itself inwardly instead of attempting to straddle altogether different sounds. Taking orchestral structures and incorporating layers of thrumming instrumentation and mournful strings to top it all off, Murcof has sculpted a sound which is immediately recognisable as his own despite consisting of a well worn selection-box of elements. Instilling songs such as "Recuerdos" and "Rios" with the kind of grandstanding scope that normally require 10,000 strings and your local rent-a-philharmonic, Corona can seemingly conjure a tarnished grandeur from a muted collection of elements that include razor edged beats, lazy horns and crackling backwashes. Clinical but earthy, 'Remembranza' is a fiercely assured album which will enrapture his existing fans whilst winning over those new to his sound. Highly Recommended.
Review: Earlier this year, Italian electronica veterans Fabrizio and Marco D'Arcangelo returned to action with a 12" on Happy Skull that marked their first new material for three years. We're told there's more to come, but here they revisit their past, delivering a compilation that includes their sought-after 1996 debut EP for Rephlex in its entirety, plus two fresh cuts (opener "Main Theme" and closer "Wane (Reprise)" and a swathe of tracks recorded in the late '90s for an aborted follow-up to their lauded first 12". Heavily influenced by Aphex Twin, industrial techno, twisted ambient and what would later become known as "Braindance", the material remains breathlessly imaginative and otherworldly all these years on. If anything, it's a master class in cutting edge electronica.
Review: Berlin's Office Recordings has always released sparingly, and this is perhaps what has saved them from becoming too attached to one genre or trend, and instead travelling at their own pace and on their own agenda. The label introduces newcomer Trux to the scene, a mystery artist who props up out of nowhere armed with eight pellets of ambient and drum experimentation - we're listening. Aside from the lo-fi, over-layered patterns of abstract pieces such as "Aziol" or "Pattern" itself, other tunes like "Ada" or Skarb" recall the Actress sort of dynasty, and the artist manages to conjure airy grooves made up of drone plates and intangible drum circles. It's an alchemistic sort of sound, and one that is surely set to earn Trux plenty of fans. Tip!
Review: Since defining the band's hybrid rock-rave sound with 1994's "Music For The Jilted Generation" and 1997's "The Fat of the Land", Prodigy main man Liam Howlett has largely stuck to his guns. He is, after all, incredibly good at what he does, and the formula has given us a string of bombastic, full-throttle singles and albums that have lasted the test of time. "No Tourists", Howlett and company's first full-length in three years, offers plenty of trademark festival-friendly workouts, hard-wired dancefloor smashers and fuzzy, all-action cuts. Judged on these terms, it's a triumph. Fans of the band's trademark brand of slamming sonic hedonism will love it.
Review: Building a formidable reputation as an artist with a diverse set of approaches in the field of electronic music, Ukranian producer Cape Cod delivers his debut album on Kiev House in a fine display of musicianship. From the opening track "Among The Stars" (which features Constantine on vocal) it's clear that this will be more than a straight up collection of dancefloor tracks. There are indeed some upbeat house tracks to be enjoyed, not least on the razor sharp garage bumper "We Don't Have To", but there's also equal space given over to more introspective jams such as "Put U Down".
Review: Little is still known about Butterfred besides the fact that their melting pot can withstand a lot of ingredients and influences. From lo-fi hip hop to grime to dancehall to UKG to bass to Detroit to bare naked experimentalism, the flavours are tangible. They also seem to be pretty prolific as this is the second album in less than a year. And, just like LP 1, it's a beguiling, far-reaching experience that spans from the broken b-boy grunts of "Make It Work" and "Now You Know" to the glacial slo-mo techno of "Magnesium" and the oceanic bliss of "Shove It". Vast and stark; we can believe it's Butterfred.
Review: John Blackford's career got an early boost when he won a Moby remix composition. He then released one rather good EP of electro workouts on Bot in 2008, before all but disappearing. Organism marks his comeback from that extended hiatus and is really rather good. He begins with the dark, moody and intoxicating "Third Eye", before rolling through melodious, evocative cuts that variously tip a wink to hip-hop/IDM fusion ("Dopamine"), post-Drexciya dark-scapes (the jazzy "Faust"), spacey electronica ("Implicit Memory"), clandestine ambient ("Dark Matter") and slowly unfurling beauty (the creepy-but-blissful "Organism"). As returns go, it's really rather good.
Review: The latest release from "distorted rave and industrial sweat" specialist is something of an epic. It boasts two previously unheard tracks - the pitch-black, red-lined electro/techno intensity of the undeniably creepy "Membresi Ekl", and the all-out, mind-melting dancefloor assault that is "For Varden Pikre" - plus a swathe of remixes. We're particularly enjoying the sparse, industrial-influenced machine funk of Max Durante's rework of "Membresi Ekl", Drvg Cvltvre's psychedelic, acid-driven techno remix of the same track, and Martyn Hare's blistering industrial electro interpretation of "For Varden Pikre". Chris Moss's breakbeat-driven acid-rave version of the latter cut is pretty darn tasty, too.
Review: Left Hand Path is a record label based in San Francisco run by Surface Tension's Nihar Bhatt and Chris Zaldua, who put on some impressive line-ups at their parties and were even featured on one of fellow Californian label Jealous God's short run mix CDs which used to come with vinyl releases. The label is "dedicated to liminal sounds and dancefloor transgression" according to their Soundcloud profile. CUBE is the project of Adam Keith of Oakland, California. He draws from a variety of influences on the My Cube LP; there's the brutal textured noise of dynamic opener "First", the lo-fi industrial swagger of "Favorite" or "Emblem" (which are reminiscent of the likes of Profligate) or the brazen post-punk antics of "Bargain Water" which calls to mind early Tropic Of Cancer.