Review: The inimitable Theo Parrish is in a class of one. His brand of music is impossible to categorise as it draws on so many unique sounds in so many unique ways. This new album is another spellbinding affair that takes scuffed up house rhythms and intertwines them with freeform percussive patterns and off-grid synths that get pulled apart then rebuilt before your very ears. It is experimental music with an improvised jazz mindset that can range from complex and dense tapestries like 'Radar Detector' to the more upbeat and playful 'Hennyweed Buckdance' via fucked up drum sketches like 'All Your Boys Are Biters.'
Review: Long-serving Swedish producer Joel Mull, previously best-known for his club-focused techno sets, first started work on Nautical Dawn, his first album under his occasional Damm alias, over a decade ago. Inspired by the natural phenomenon of 'nautical dawn' - that point when the sun is not yet above the horizon, but bathes the sky in vivid colours - he wanted to make music for the break of dawn that combined home-made field recordings with suitably drowsy, opaque electronic motifs, slow-burn ambient chords, tactile aural textures and, when the mood took him, horizontal and hypnotic beats. It may have taken him a while, but the resultant set is little less than inspired: an evocative set of enveloping compositions that tease and tingle the senses.
Review: Just a few weeks after Abel Tesfaye's seventh album, After Hours, hit stores, he decided to put out a 'Deluxe Editon' of the album that replaced some of the original mixes with brand-new alternative takes. Initially, this tweaked edition was only available on digital formats, but finally his label has relented to pressure and released it on wax. By now, we should all know what to expect, namely chart-bothering fusions of R&B, hip-hop and synth-pop topped off by his own slick, soulful vocals and plenty of nods towards other artists work (think Elton John and Daniel Lapotin for starters). It's a slick, radio-friendly mixture of songs, some of which gleefully doff a cap towards dancefloor-friendly styles old and new (think electrofunk, dubstep and, most surprisingly, drum & bass).
Review: Nicolas Jaar has been one of electronic music's most consistently hard to predict and innovative artists for a decade. The Chilean-American now offers up a full length on his own Other People label that he says is for inner battles. It is a work of masterful atmosphere that can be at times dense and gloomy, at others ethereal, and was written in isolation away from any form of stimulation-inducing drink and drugs. A constantly shifting sound means listeners are slipped in and out of reality as it plays out, making it tense, sombre and at times furious. This is yet another audacious record from the unrestrained mind of Nicolas Jaar.
Review: Originally unveiled in 1992, Blue Day represents one of the most exciting periods in the evolution of British shoegaze heroes Slowdive - their formative years. Comprising the first three EPs, or at least a good chunk of each and the entirety of the seminal Morningrise, it's less of a history lesson and more a reminder of just how well the seven-piece's music has stood the test of time.
There are some notable omissions, it's true. So the Slowdive songs here are missing 'Avalyn II'. And there's no 'Catch The Breeze' or cover of Syd Barrett's 'Golden Hair' included from Holding Our Breath. Still, with the ethereal yet jangly rock of 'She Calls', 'Losing Today''s dark, almost choral atmospherics, and the white noise and discordance of 'Albatross', ain't nobody complaining here.
Review: First released on CD way back in 1998 and now getting a deserved reissue on wax, "Sacred Art of Dub Volume 1" sees two of Britain's longest-serving dub outfits - Alpha & Omega and Jah Shaka affiliate Russell Bell-Brown AKA The Disciples - put a new spaced-out spin on each other's weighty, bassbin-bothering riddims. It offers a great snapshot of late '90s UK dub, with highlights including the hot-stepping, Melodica-sporting dancefloor goodness of "Philosophers Stone", the weighty bass and soulful vocals of "Dancing On A Rainbow", the rolling, snare-heavy roll of "Elixir" and the cheery digi-dub business of jaunty bonus cut "Eternal Dub".
Review: Indica Dubs and Music Mania link up once more for their 18th release, which comes from two of the UK dub top legends and pioneers in Alpha & Omega and The Disciples. This album was first put out in 1998, but only in CD format. Now two deuces later it makes its first ever appearance on vinyl and is as crucial as ever, with its crisp and fresh, steel plated dub sounds and warrior leads. The iconic 'Roaring Lion' is a well known anthem in the dub scene, loved and admired by all, so gets a welcome inclusion and is sure to once again be heard everywhere as soon as we can enjoy some real life sound system action .
Review: This majestic jazz love letter was written in 2015. It was Hokkaido pianist Ryo Fukui's last album and now gets an official reissue allowing us all to once again sink into his personal contemporary jazz offering. Fukui is celebrated for his delicate styles and miraculous albums such as 1976's Scenery and a year later, Mellow Dream. He was not only a player, but also a club owner having linked up with his wife Yasuko to open his very own jazz space, Slowboat, in Sapporo in 1995. In the years after he honed and perfected his craft, taking it to new labels as heard here.
Review: American hard rock band Guns N Roses are one of the most iconic to ever do it. Their Greatest Hits album is jam packed with smash hit after smash hit. Released by Geffen Records in part because of the delay in the making of Chinese Democracy, it came in 2004 amidst some infamous legal challenges from Axl Rose and former band members who weren't too pleased with its tracklisting. It got no promotion as a result but still topped the UK Albums Chart and no wonder with 'Sweet Child O Mine', 'Welcome to the Jungle' and 'Paradise City' all featuring amongst plenty more.
Review: Japanese jazz pianist Ryo Fukui is one of the most delicate and skilled payers of his generation. The Hokkaido pianist also owned his own jazz club, Slowboat, with his wife Yasuko, and this month two of his bets loved albums are being reissued with a special half speed remastering job. This one is a recording of him playing in New York with Lisle Atkinson on bass and Leroy Williams on drums. It was laid down in 1999 and inspired by Ryo's mentor Barry Harris. There are plenty of poetic reworks of classics and glowing piano pieces that easily wander their way into your heart.
Review: It seems like almost every single new week brings with it a new album from dub icon Lee "Scratch" Perry. And who are we to complain, because rarely does the quality drop when it comes to this weed loving, purple-bearded and mystic musical maestro. This time out we are treated to a special, heavyweight Record Store Day pressing of his To Drive The Dub Starship Through The Horror Zone album made with Daniel Boyle. It's a record with its head in the cosmos, with oodles of reverb making cavernous universes in which you float next to mutterings for the man himself. Made exclusively on 70's and 80's analogue equipment and with Lee's signature Black Ark sound, this is another classic in his cannon.
Review: Japanese heavyweights HHV continue their ongoing trawl through the back catalogue of long-serving hip-hop producer, DJ, record collector and self-styled King of Diggin', Muro. Here they present the second part of the dusty-fingered hero's turn-of-the-millennium Pan Rhythm series of 12" singles, this time presenting it on a tidy seven inch single. 'Hip-Hop Band' is a weighty, floor friendly, horn-heavy re-make of the Stetsasonic song of the same name, with local mic man Boo delivering tweaked versions of the U.S crew's verses in his native Japanese. While jazzy, the bombastic backing track - which can be heard in full on the flipside instrumental version - is forthright and club-ready, making the single a must-have for working hip-hop DJs and those who love the more up-tempo end of the rap spectrum.
Gbagada, Gbagada, Gbogodo, Gbogodo (feat Francis Mbappe) (8:58)
G-Force (feat EOL Soul Brothers) (4:52)
Aquilas Coisas Todas (8:35)
Play For Me (feat EOL Soul Brothers) (5:03)
Review: For his next album project, the Master at Work that is Louie Vega links with Luisito Quintero, a veteran percussionist who has played with La India and others in the New York scene. He is as creative and original as they come and fuses afro-Latin rhythms and bossa nova sounds into fresh new forms and now serves up Part One of his Percussion Madness album. It ranges from seductive deep house to swaggering Stevie Wonder style funk via irresistible afro beats. Luisito has shared the stage with Robert Plant, Lauryn Hill, Alicia Keys and more, but deserves just as many plaudits for his own solo work.
Kolsch is one of the artists who has been at the forefront of the melodic techno and progressive house resurgence of recent years. He is one of the bigger weapons in the Kompkat arsenal and here they unleash him across a double album that really shows off a full and widescreen spectrum of synth heavy sounds. There are darker, more retro tinged stompers like 'Great Escape' next to city, electro styled cuts with epic synth lines soaring the heavens, and deeper, more slow burning mounters designed to get large crowds in a trance. It's an openly emotional sound from Kolsch that is sure to connect with fans old and new.
Review: For some reason, Alton Miller never seems to quite get the headlines of many of his Chicago peers. Maybe this expressive new album on the Music Institute label will go some way to correct that. It's as lush and musical as house gets, with bumping vocal tunes that are laced with golden chords to percussive workouts like 'Long Time Comin' sure to work floors into a lather. There are even slow jams like the seductive 'Time Is On Your Side' showing off another side to Miller's sound. Whatever he does, there is s sense of spirituality and inescapable emotion that makes every cut here a thing of beauty.
Review: Over the last three years Dragut Adrian AKA Dragutesku has firmly established himself as one of Romanian minimal techno's leading lights. It's for this reason that Dualism, his first full-length excursion, is so hotly anticipated. So, does it hit the spot? Undoubtedly. Dragut is particularly good at crafting wonky, off-kilter tech-house and minimalistic techno tunes that are sparse and unusual, but also boast tons of percussive funk and swing. These kinds of club-ready tunes form the DJ-friendly backbone of the album, with occasional deeper, darker or even stranger deviations (see the creepy 'Paranormal' and squelchy, electro-fired melodiousness of 'Apus') providing welcome variety. As a result, it's a set you can listen to from start to finish, despite the dancefloor-focused nature of its construction.
Grounds (feat Colin Webster & Warren Ellis) (2:57)
Mr Motivator (feat Colin Webster) (3:24)
Anxiety (feat David Yow) (2:58)
Kill Them With Kindness (feat David Yow & Jamie Cullum) (3:39)
Model Village (4:03)
Ne Touche Pas Moi (feat Jehnny Beth) (2:34)
Reigns (feat Colin Webster) (4:23)
The Lover (feat Colin Webster & David Yow) (3:18)
A Hymn (5:14)
Review: This is not the first time we've asked if IDLES are the most important rock band of this century, and even if it was we wouldn't be the first to ask that question. The Bristol punk juggernauts refuse to be forgiving or compromising when it comes to tackling the issues they focus on - from racial prejudice and immigration to income inequality - and never fail to make a massive impact in the studio (and even more so on stage).
Ultra Mono is album number three, and it packs something serious. Well, actually an arsenal of serious things. Much like its predecessor, this is straight up sonic warfare being declared on the right wing patriarchy, weapons brandished from all directions. Staccato stomper 'Grounds' does more than reference thunderstorms, it sounds like the uprising has begun, with other highlights including 'War' and the electronic chaos of 'Squalls'. Exceptional, as ever.
Review: It was way back in 1998 when Japan's undisputed King of Diggin', DJ.producer/mix-maker and dedicated record collector Muro, first released 'Han-Tome'. These days, it's regarded as a Japanese hip-hop classic, and listening back to this reissue it's easy to see why: the beats are dope, the producer's jazz and orchestral samples beautifully incorporated into the backing track, and the combination of Japanese rap verses and R&B style sung choruses every bit as good as those you'd expect on big-name American tracks from the same period. As it did first time around, the track comes backed by the superb 'Flutestrumental Mix'. This adds sun-kissed keyboard stabs and flighty flute solos to Muro's formidably head-nodding beats..
La Tristesse Durera (Scream To A Sigh) (Chemical Brothers vocal mix) (6:32)
La Tristesse Durera (Scream To A Sigh) (Chemical Brothers dub mix) (6:33)
Roses In The Hospital (Ashley Beedle OG Psychovocal remix) (4:50)
Roses In The Hospital (Ashley Beedle OG Psychomental remix) (4:20)
Review: Here comes another special record for this year's delayed Record Store Day - four different versions of The Manic Street Preachers' 'La Tristesse Durera (Scream To A Sigh).' The hard hitting original landed in 1992 on the Generation Terrorists/Gold Against The Soul album and now gets some special Chemical Brothers treatment. Of course, the Dust Brothers layer in wiry electronics and crashing big beats to make it a festival anthem and Ashley Beedle's OG Psychovocal remix also layers in some churning drums to add extra oomph.
Review: Music For Dreams' compilations are rarely less than essential, and this collection of curated Japanese music from the last three decades is no different. Compiled by Ken Hidaka, Tokyo-based Max Essa and Test Pressing co-founder Dr Rob, the set starts with a beautiful and becalmed ambient piece by Yoshio Ojima (the sublime 'Sealed') and ends with the lapping waves, vocal harmonies and twinkling pianos of Takashi Kokubo's 'Quiet Inlet'. In between, you'll find the Steve Reich-ish marimba movements of Yoshiaki Ochi, the dubbed-out, piano-laden downtempo grooves of Little Tempo, the jazzy Balearic house of Schadaraparr, the sun-kissed dancefloor grooves of Little Big Bee and much more besides. As you'd expect, Hidaka, Essa and Dr Rob's selections are uniformly superb.
Review: This Record Store Day coincides with the 50th anniversary of Al Green's Green is Blues album, which was his second full length and comes with full liner notes. The whole record is powered by the tight arrangements of Memphis' renowned Hi Rhythm Section, as well as being paired with fine production from co-writer Willie Mitchell, both of which provide a perfect vehicle for Green's buttery, soulful and refined vocal excellence. The album ushered in a new era for the Memphis Sound and started a run of successes for Green that made him one of the most dominant artists of his generation and beyond.
Review: This year's Record Store Day also happens to mark 40 years since Bob Marley put out one of his most enduring tunes. 'Redemption Song' carries the same emotional weight now as it always has and on this special, limited edition clear vinyl it comes backed with a band version as well as a live version of 'I Shot The Sheriff.' It's all about that A-side, though, with its acoustic guitars, a subtle backing for Marley's pained and vulnerable vocals. The band version is fleshed out with some swaggering dub and the live version of 'I Shot The Sheriff' is filled with atmosphere and noodling bass riffs.
Theme From Blue II/(Silence)/The Hills Are Alive (11:10)
Review: If anyone sees the mind-bending 1980 movie Altered States, tell it we have its soundtrack. Or not. Perhaps late to the sensory deprivation tank party, Coil made much of the music here to accompany filmed scenes of erotica, as the title suggests, although this is more about tantric suggestions of cheekiness and sensuality than most of the orgies you might have in mind.
All very New Age, its crystalline sounds gradually move into more rhythmic tracks, like the suggestively-titled hypnotic pop of 'Happy End'. Polished off with the added bonus of a few cuts taken from the band's work Themes For Derek Jarman's Blue, this is very much one of those archive collections that anyone who knows needs to own, and those who don't need to learn about.
Review: Here's something to seriously set the pulse racing: a limited-edition quintuple "Brazil 45s" boxset curated by the effervescent DJ Format, and featuring ten tracks unearthed on his most recent crate-digging trip to South America. In keeping with his much-loved style, most of the material can be loosely described as "psyche break-beat", all of which was initially recorded and released in the 1960s and '70s. That means a blend of hallucinatory Brazilian funk and soul rich in sweaty, often densely layered drums, booming basslines, trippy vocals, eccentric production, mazy Hammond organ lines and rousing horns. The quality bar is set so high that picking individual highlights is tough; suffice to say, you need all ten tunes in your life (and in your record box).
Review: Smoked-out Texan psych troupe Khruangbin have picked a pretty apt moment to release this recording of their live show at Villain, Brooklyn. For starters, it's summer 2020, and if it weren't for a global pandemic there's a good chance a few of us would be recovering from the night before to a late-afternoon, or better yet early-evening performance from this lot at some festival or other. Secondly, because of said health crisis, we're all starved of the unique qualities that come from a band playing in the flesh. Dinner is definitely served here, then, via generous helpings of Laura Lee's bass-laden grooves and gorgeous, intoxicatingly airy vocal delivery. First laid down in 2018, when Khruangbin were touring in support of their second album, while 'Con Todo El Mundo' provides the majority of musical moments here, really 'Live At Villain' is a self-contained record - an hour or so of the band's typically magical and engrossing stage stuff, captured for keeps.
Review: When it was initially released three decades ago in the summer of 1990, Slowdive's eponymous debut EP was heralded as an instant shoegaze classic: a drowsy, dreamy collection of hazy wall-of-sound, reverb-drenched songs that put the Reading band right at the heart of a growing musical movement. As this 30th anniversary reissue proves, it remains a fine collection of cuts. While lead cut 'Slowdive', a more orthodox fusion of shoegaze, dream-pop and indie-rock, was the one that chimed with listeners at the time, it's the two-part soundscape 'Avalyn' - and in particular the epic 'Avalyn II' - that resonates loudest in the 21st century. The latter track is so good that it's worth buying the EP just to get your hands on it.
Takeo Yamashita - "A Touch Of Japanese Tone" (4:21)
Tadaaki Misago & Tokyo Cuban Boys - "Jongara Reggae" (3:38)
Chikara Ueda & The Power Station - "Cloudy" (6:08)
Chumei Watanabe - "Downtown Blues" (3:38)
Kifu Mitsuhashi - "Hanagasa Ondo" (2:51)
Monica Lassen & The Sounds - "Incitation" (5:29)
Norio Maeda, Jiro Inagaki & The All-Stars - "Go Go A Go Go" (3:19)
Akira Ishikawa & Count Buffalo & The Jazz Rock Band - "The Sidewinder" (2:41)
Masahiko Sato, Jiro Inagaki & Big Soul Media - "Sniper's Snooze" (6:42)
Review: Some compilations manage to both educate, inform and educate in equal measure; this fine collection from Japanese crate diggers DJ Yoshizawa Dynamite and Chintam is one such set. Comprising mostly little-known tracks recorded by Japanese artists between 1968 and '70, it offers up a wealth of cuts inspired by American jazz-funk "rare groove". There's much to admire across the ten tracks, from the mazy Rhodes solos, fizzing big band jazz grooves and traditional Eastern instrumentation of Toshiko Yonekawa's "Soran Bushi", and the languidly-slung brilliance of Tadaki Misago and Tokyo Cuban Boys' multi-faceted musical fusion "Jongara Reggae", to the Jimi Hendrix-goes-funk heaviness of "Incitation" by Monica Lassen & The Sounds, and the drums-driven dancefloor madness of Masahiko Sato Jiro Inagaki & Big Soul Media's "Sniper's Snooze". Recommended.
Review: You can never really understate the impact Polly Jean Harvey had when she landed on the UK music scene, and the radars of tastemakers like John Peel, in the early-1990s. Guitar tracks at the time were usually split into unashamedly lager-soaked upfront Britpop, or nihilistic and self-sabotaging grunge and metal from the US. PJ Harvey was neither, and on 'To Bring You My Love' she perfected a particularly UK take on heavy, darkroom rock.
Pressing play means stepping into a world where the blues can either be a sparse, pitch black tome ('To Bring You My Love') or stomping and sweat-soaked juggernaut ('Meet Ze Monsta'), and that's just referencing the first two songs. Compare either to the trip-hop infused downtempo melancholia of 'The Dancer', and it's pretty clear why this was one of the albums of its decade.
Review: It's only six months since The Heliocentrics released their last album, 'Infinity of Now', but boy how the world has changed since then. To reflect that, this new collection of songs is more intense, dark, paranoid, uncertain and, well, angry. It makes for a typically out there record that pulls together disparate worlds and defies familiar conventions. There are moments of sweetness and light such as "Space Cake" but also pixelated realms of jazz complexity that glisten and glean. This is an album that will lead you to strange, thought provoking places, but will also greatly reward any time you spend there.
Orquesta Olivieri - "Los Muchachos De Belen" (3:56)
Orquesta Olivieri - "There's No Other Girl" (3:22)
Ozzie Torrens & His Exciting Orchestra - "Mia's Boogaloo" (3:21)
Ozzie Torrens & His Exciting Orchestra - "Boogaloo In Apt 41" (3:19)
Brooklyn Sounds - "Ha Llegado El Momento" (45 edit) (4:27)
Brooklyn Sounds - "Guaguanco Tropical" (3:42)
Review: During the late 1960s and early 70s, New York's Latin music scene was the envy of the world, with a swathe of immigrant musicians from Central and Southern America joining forces to perform and record new variations on traditional themes and hybrid fusions of multiple styles, most notably Harlem-born Boogaloo. This Rocafort Records release pays tribute to some key NYC Latin combos of the period, delivering two tracks apiece from three acts over a trio of seven-inch singles. It's a hugely vibrant and enjoyable set, with highlights including the jaunty salsa of Orquestra Olivieri's 'Los Muchachos De Belen', two fiery boogaloo heaters from Ozzie Torrens and his brilliantly named "Exciting Orchestra", and the carnival-ready rush of Brooklyn Sounds' 'Guaguanco Tropical'.
Review: Planisphere is exactly the kind of cult deep house and techno producer that For Those That Knoe are all over. David Swatten's last release was 20 years ago, and that one now fetches sky-high prices online, but fortunately the good ship Knoe has taken charge of the situation and commissioned this full-length release of sumptuous electronics. As you would expect for the label, the vibe is primarily classic ambient techno with a spread of different energies from heads down club grooves to blissful back room excursions, all expressed through vintage synth tones. Consistently brilliant throughout, this is the kind of album you could happily melt into from start to finish, as well as having plenty for the mix-minded to get busy with.
I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know (Timmy Regisford original version) (5:48)
I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know (Joaquin edit & Overdub version) (7:06)
Review: Second time around for Timmy Regisford's inspired rework of Donny Hathaway's 1972 classic "I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know", an unofficial revision that first slipped out on white label a couple of years ago. Regisford's revision is inspired, with the veteran New York producer layering Hathaway's heartfelt vocals and select instrumental elements from the original mix (guitar, orchestration) over a bed of rolling house beats and layered percussion. It's an emotional, life-affirming affair that re-casts the melancholic original as a stirring house classic. Over on side B, Joaquin 'Joe' Claussell offers an equally fine "Edits and Overdubs" version that adds some brand-new synth solos, spacey electronics and sweat-soaked percussion to Regisford's impressive revision.
Review: The mysterious Sault troupe is back with a call to action and revolutionary soul soundtrack that really bangs the box. "Ain't nothing gunna keep us silent" the lead singer yelps on 'Stop Der', which is an immediate banger after the soothing ambience and closely mic-ed whispers of the opener, which muse on what it means to be black. The rest of the record is a hard hitting mix of crisp drums and empowering vocals, with elements of classic soul as well as contemporary jazz colouring the grooves. This is powerful music with an even more powerful message.