Review: After kicking things off with the killer "Mariachi Guadalajara" by Lewski, Or:la's Cead label returns with another emergent talent, Blu Terra. The Warsaw based producer comes on strong for this breakthrough release with the heavy slapping, sound design-enhanced electro of "Person Sans". Even if the opening track felt detailed, it's superseded by the barrage of information spilling out of crafty, distinctive acid monster "20,000". "Western/Eastern" spreads across the B-side in a nervous twitch of rave energy geared towards big dark spaces, perfect for that spine-tingling part of the night when the real world feels very far away indeed.
Review: A new album from Sam Shepherd AKA Floating Points is always cause for celebration, but even by his standards "Crush" is rather special. Largely eschewing the ambient jazz soundscape shuffle of 2017's "Reflections - Mojave Desert", it sees the Shepherd showcase his musical dexterity in stunning fashion via cuts that wrap shimmering neo-classical strings around what sound like modular electronics and rhythms that variously touch on broken beat, off-kilter experimental D&B and Autechre-style IDM. Of course there are ambient and experimental soundscapes showcased, but it's the fact that the album contains a swathe of formidably dancefloor-focused cuts in the style that first made him standout that pleases us most. Highlights include recent single "LesAlpx", the dreamy "Anasickmodular" and the "People's Potential" style deep house intricacy of "Last Bloom".
Review: Ex-Terrestrial associate Richard Wenger - better known as R Weng - dons a new alias here, for an album that's apparently the result of a "three-year experiment in minimal synth maximalism". In practice, that means a hugely enjoyable trip through Radio Workshop style synthesizer motifs, hypnotic machine rhythms, 1970s style electronic music soundscapes, jaunty turn-of-the-90s IDM and occasional forays into decidedly dubbed-out, synth-driven grooves. It's a hugely enjoyable collection of cuts, with Wenger providing finished tracks that sound like they could have been made in 1979 (or in some cases, '69) rather than 2019.
Review: While he enjoyed a brief career as a musician in the 1960s, by the time he recorded debut album "Down On The Road By The Beach" in 1983 Steve Hiett was better known as one of the world's leading fashion photographers. In fact, it was at the suggestion of a Japanese gallery owner that he got back in the studio to record what has long been regarded as an impossible-to-find Balearic gem. Hiett's reverb and delay-laden Peter Green style guitar passages take centre stage throughout, winding in and out of languid grooves and ambient electronics to create what some have called "the ultimate desert island disc" - a record of such lazy, sun-kissed beauty that it sounds tailor made for drowsy days waking up on the beach.
Review: Dutch minimal techno hero Koos "Ion" Ludwig teams up with multi-instrumentalist Twan Sallaerts to present a collection of experimental and electro acoustic ambient journeys on this one for Berlin-based label Meander's Horizon Pi Series. Ludwig's singular sound is recognised by his penchant for all things esoteric and hypnotic, and although this is a non-dancefloor affair he still manages to channel that aesthetic into this collection of tracks, by way of Sallaerts' competent classical know-how on "Entre-Acte". The title track's mesmerising use of sparse melody and disorienting pads over a slow motion / skeletal drum groove is almost just a pitched-down version of Ludwig's usual work when you think about it, while the droning tension and suspense of the atmospheric "Towaknos Carpet" is much more of a departure. Elsewhere, free jazz and film score aesthetics collide on the moody "C.A.T. Track" and the cavernous and glacial ambient textures of "Ijsselzand" only add to the many moments of introversion offered here.
Review: In 2017, Jaimie Branch emerged from Chicago's spiritual and experimental jazz underground with a debut album of rare inventiveness. Two years on, the avant-garde, improvisational trumpeter is finally ready to offer up a sequel, "Fly Or Die II: Bird Dogs Of Paradise". It sees Branch wrap distinctive trumpet refrains - some played in a traditional manner, others mutilated by effects units - around a myriad of off-kilter and improvised backing tracks. While much of the instrumentation is from the jazz playbook, a number of tracks make great use of xylophone, mbira and other exotic but melodic percussion instruments. The album's standout moment, "Prayer For Amerikkka (Part 1 & 2)" sees her go even further, with vocalists and beat poets narrating a politically charged, future spiritual jazz anthem.
Review: Since turning up in the Windy city a few years ago, spiritual jazz singer, clarinetist and composer Angel Bat Dawid has become a stalwart of Chicago's vibrant avant-garde scene. Here he delivers a debut album that should, if there's any justice at least, propel her towards international superstardom. Both her melancholic clarinet lines and distinctive singing feature prominently throughout, alongside sparse percussion, occasional Afro-futurist synthesizer motifs, harp and guitars - all of which Dawid plays herself. It's a virtuoso display that more than confirms her status as one of the spiritual jazz scene's most authentic voices.
Review: When it comes to dub-fuelled, mind-altering insanity, few are capable of setting the pulse racing quite like German veteran Bernd "Burnt" Friedman. For proof, check this essential new EP. By his standards, it's particularly wild, utilizing psychedelic electronics, exotic and occasionally droning Indian sounds, weighty bass and ambidextrous rhythms that variously doff a camp to grime, dubstep and the polyrhythms of Africa. Our picks are intoxicating and fragrant opener "Broken Royal Shank" - Asian dancehall via Coburg - and the trance-inducing dub techno hypnotism of "Contrarian", though closing cut "Cabin In The Sky" is pretty darn tasty, too.
Review: Matasuna Records' latest release offers up two sought-after tracks from Bossa 70, a relatively short-lived Peruvian band whose ultra-limited 1970 releases (a total of 400 copies were pressed of their sole single and eponymous debut album) brilliantly joined the dots between jazz, bossa, soul and funk. Listening to these cuts for the first time, it's easy to see why Matasuna has gone to the trouble of licensing them: A-side "Si Voce Pensa" is an inspired Peruvian funk cover of a 1968 Roberto Carlos track rich in bustling breakbeats, punchy horns and confident female vocals. Just as potent is the band's flipside cover of Baden Powell's "Berimbau", which puts a funk-soul twist on a certified bossa-nova classic.
Review: Ubiquity is back with another of its two part 7"s, this time from contemporary soul group The Soul Surfers. Experts at covering the greats, they recently turned their hand to a classic from The JB's, while this time out it is Kool & The Gang's classic "Summer Madness" that gets a deep-cut and sexy make over. Part 1 is a sensuous slow burner with downtempo drums and heavenly guitar playing, while part 2 has harder drum grooves and dreamy , psyched-out guitars. It's another ageless rework that you need in your life.
Review: Dynamite Cuts lives up to its name with this limited 7" from acclaimed Brazilian jazz singer Tania Maria. Two driving and dancey tracks pressed nice and loud for the first time on 45, "Fio Maravilha" is a busy arrangement made up of wild piano, big raw drums and Maria's impassioned, lung-emptying singing that whizzes along at pace. "Bedeu" has a little more Latin flavour, bossa nova swagger and space in the mix for the soul to shine through. Drop either one and take shelter, cause both of these cuts are bombs.
Review: Originally pressed (on a limited run) in 2013, LA Latin funk troupe Boogaloo Assassins have reissued these two spellbinding cover versions again due to public demand. Still on a highly limited run, both cuts need to be in your collection: Dawn Penn's "No No No" gets a strict samba switch with lavish percussion and consistent vocal harmonies throughout while Sonny Henry's "Evil Ways" (best known from its Santana cover) gets the dreamy instrumental treatment where the horns and glocks do the narrating over a tight bed of wood blocks, shakers and liquid Rhodes. Killer stuff and Juno is one of the few stores outside of USA which is carrying the 45. Don't Sleep !