Review: After years spent offering up impressive blends of ambient, drone, electronica and experimental drum and bass as ASC, James Clements has decided to commit more time to Comit (sorry), an alternative project which first surfaced via a debut single in 2016. Here the San Diego-based Brit delivers a first full-length excursion under the alias. There's plenty to soothe and seduce on the eight tracks stretched across two slabs of wax, from the undulating, occasionally skittish beats and sweeping chord sequences of opener "Behind Dulled Eyes" and the icy, doom-laden electronic melancholy of "Reverie", to the early Black Dog Productions flex of "Clouded Over" and the dubbed-out, slow motion bliss of "Soft Focus".
Review: Silent Season's mainstay artist Segue returns with a new album, following up on the well-received immersion of his 2016 LP "Over The Mountains" with further explorations in the hinterland between dub techno, ambient and a more pastoral kind of palette. It's a field he's well versed in, and one that typifies Silent Season's approach as well, but there's plenty of fresh ideas to latch onto here as Segue weaves gorgeous threads of melody around tactile, mossy beds of sound and understated grooves that carry you to far away, inviting places. Even the more pronounced dub techno stylings of "Mirage", for example, sound vibrant and invigorating in Segue's hands - another sterling album from an accomplished producer.
Review: This is when reissues feel like they truly do a service to music that would have certainly disappeared into obscurity - Desmond Coke was a gifted musician who sat in on sessions for the On-U Sound label amongst many other places. His sole solo record was a private press job that very nearly blinked out of existence, but Emotional Rescue have been on hand like the diligent diggers they are to rescue his heartfelt, mightily expressive boogie jams from the one dollar bin. Sunny, sweet and soulful, but also with enough depth and punch to stand up to big budget productions of the era, this is a truly wonderful find that will no doubt be a surprise to even seasoned selectors.
Review: Described in the accompanying press release as "the halfway point between Bollywood and Balearic", Rupa Biswas' 1982 debut "Disco Jazz" has long been a favourite of dusty-fingered diggers with a healthy bank balance and a penchant for the quirky. All four tracks are cheery, charming and superior to many "Bollywood disco" records produced in the same period. The sunny disco-boogie of "Moja Bhari Moja" is followed on side A by the delightfully eccentric, bass-powered AOR-disco/funk-rock fusion of "East West Shuffle" and the effortlessly Balearic cheeriness of "Aaj Shanibar". Best of all, though, is the exotic and intoxicating flipside cut "Ayee Morshume Be-Reham Duniya" which expertly joins the dots between cosmic rock and Balearic disco grooves for 16 spellbinding minutes.
Curimao (Sons Onomatopaicos E Folk Da Guine) (6:48)
Solito (Solo De Balaue) (4:29)
Danado Cantador (Balaue, Orquestra E Declamacao) (A Fagner) (4:46)
Review: For the first in a series of must-have reissues of obscure Brazilian treats, Optimo Music and Selva Discos have joined forces to offer up a new pressing of Fernando Falcao's superb 1981 debut, "Memoria Das Aguas". The eight-track set has long been considered something of a slept-on and hard-to-find classic, with Falcao conjuring up an octet of tracks that brilliantly join the dots between neo-classical movements, dreamy, percussion-led soundscapes (see the sublime "Amanhecer Tabajara (A Alceu Valenca)"), spiraling big band Afro-Brazilian jazz ("Ladeira Dos Inocentes"), intoxicating classical-jazz fusion ("Revoada") and experimental, beat-free sound collages ("Mercado"). In a word: exceptional.
Review: Militant Detroit techno crew Scan 7 have learned much from their association with Underground Resistance, not least the benefits of myth-making and mystery. This is one of the reasons that "Between Worlds" is fast becoming one of techno's most talked about releases of 2019. Of course, the fact that it's also the seven-piece crew's first album since 2002 has added to the hype, too. So is it any good? Oh yes. Variously deep, spacey, futuristic and foreboding, the album's 13 cuts range from pitch-black acid-fired techno ("I'm Covered") and fizzing techno-funk ("Trackmasta Hoop"), to percussion-laden deep house melancholia ("Deep Roots") and punchy club electro ("It's Time"). For the most part, though, what you get is uplifting, emotion rich techno in the style of their fellow Detroit greats.
Review: Upbeat, upfront and wholeheartedly unapologetic, the return of Friendly Fires is about as proud as an album can be. After eight years off whatever soul searching took place has clearly paid off, even if only to give them the confidence to make these tracks. There's a pure 80s chart-disco vibe throughout the track list. From the breathiness of that "Baby I" line on "Can't Wait Forever" to the sexy and sleazy "Offline", which might as well be an homage to George Michael. It's no cheap parody, though, with enough accomplished musicality here to ensure that an instrumental pack would have club DJs with penchants for yacht pop chomping at the bit. Not least the frantic pace and punching kicks of "Almost Midnight", synth accents taking us closer to the outfit's debut than anything else here, perhaps with the exception of closer "Run The Wild Flowers".
Review: Some 19 years after it first slipped out, Bonobo's fine debut album "Animal Magic" gets the reissue treatment, this time on tasty looking yellow vinyl. Simon Green's style has evolved considerably in the two decades that have passed since the album first hit stores, but his ability to craft gorgeous tunes has never changed. "Animal Magic" was more sample-heavy than his later work, with Green combining killer vocal and instrumental lifts with jazz-flecked basslines and woozy musical motifs of his own with punchy beats that variously doff a cap to hip-hop, downtempo grooves, trip-hop and nu-jazz. In other words, it's an evocative, soothing and hugely enjoyable sample patchwork that remains a laidback classic almost 20 years after he first made it.
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: It's the album that shot them to glory in one fell swoop, hitting stores at a time when the BBC had just listed Australia's great indie hope in the taste-making Sound of 2009 list. And, as this 10th anniversary special edition proves, the record has lost none of its emotional power or infectious musicality in that time. Opening with the pared back-yet-desperate "Love Lost", the tone is set for a record that packs as much punch as it does reel from the punishments life so readily hands out. Veering between bruised and ballsy, quiet and confident, tracks like "Rest" and lead single "Sweet Disposition" position them among the most vital and arresting guitar outfits on the scene. Soaring vocals, arpeggiated chords and frantic crescendos abound. On the stylistic flip, "Fools" and "Soldier On" showcase a far more delicate musicality, revealing a band as heartbroken as they are heartfelt.
Last I Heard (...He Was Circling The Drain) (5:10)
Dawn Chorus (5:34)
I Am A Very Rude Person (3:52)
Not The News (3:57)
The Axe (6:58)
Impossible Knots (4:19)
(Ladies & Gentlemen, Thank You For Coming) (4:57)
Review: It's taken a while, but finally Thom Yorke's impressive third solo album, "ANIMA", is available on wax (and in a fetching shade of orange, too). A future classic that continues the legacy he started with XL Recordings back in 2006 (with his solo debut The Eraser), ANIMA is well worth picking up, as Yorke and co-producer Nigel Godrich offer up evocative, off-kilter songs built around the twin attractions of the Radiohead man's distinctive vocals and skewed backing tracks rich in layered electronic noise, body-bending sub-bass, discordant synthesizer parts and intriguingly jaunty drum loops. Highlights are plentiful throughout, from the creepy, lo-fi ambient swirl of "Last I Heard (...He Was Circling the Drain)" and "Dawn Chorus" (a blissfully dewy-eyed early morning soundscape), to the low-slung, post-trip-hop hum of "I Am A Very Rude Person" and the fizzing, jazz-fired thrust of "Impossible Knots". Melancholic, yes. Deep and self-effacing, of course. Nihilistic, not really. Percussive futurist sub-pop is back.
Movement 2 - "Toto, I've A Feeling We're Not In Kansas Anymore" (6:03)
Movement 3 - Wherever Two Or More Are Gathered (8:24)
Movement 4 - Life In The Gravity Well (7:02)
Movement 5 - As The Earth Kissed The Moon (7:20)
Movement 6 - Something's Moving (7:35)
Review: Michael Stearns is perhaps less namechecked than many of the early ambient pioneers, but his expansive catalogue reaches back to 1977, when his first expansive synthesizer dreamscapes unfurled themselves on his own Continuum Montage label. Emotional Rescue have picked up on seminal 1981 album Planetary Unfolding, giving a much needed vinyl reissue to a classic slice of hyperboreal ambience spread across six long-form movements. Expansive, emotionally charged and constantly exploratory, this is deep space listening at its finest - an essential purchase for any lovers of truly classic, cosmic synthesizer music.
Review: Since joining the label at the turn of the millennium, Scott Morgan AKA Loscil has become one of the admirably experimental imprint's most prolific artists. "Equivalents" is Morgan's ninth album for the label and sees him offer up eight meditations on a hazy, spaced-out theme. It's a slow-burn affair, where processed melodic elements, held-note chords and drone style aural textures slowly move across the sound space. It's a formula that guarantees goodness from start to finish, with the pulsing "Equivalent 3", ghostly "Equivalent 6", Mr Cloudy-esque "Equivalent 2" and the becalmed and poignant "Equivalent 8" standing out.
Shared Stories Of Rivals (Keita) (feat Saul Williams) (4:38)
Forevergirl (feat Chris Turner & Mike Larry Draw) (5:37)
Diviner (Devan) (3:48)
Songs She Never Heard (feat Logan Richardson) (5:56)
Ritual (Rise Of Chief Adjuah) (6:00)
Before (feat Elena Pinderhughes) (6:15)
Double Consciousness (3:52)
Ancestral Recall (feat Saul Williams) (6:08)
Review: New Orleans trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah returns with his first album in almost two years, an essential set of spiritually conscious Afro-jazz that wraps his bold, mesmerizing and memorable trumpet solos around a variety of skittish tribal rhythms, Mariachi style horn riffs, soulful vocal arrangements and 21st century jazz instrumentation. It's a unique and thoroughly absorbing signature sound, with the assembled guests - most notably Saul Williams, Elena Pinderhughes and Logan Richardson - adding much to Scott aTunde Adjuah's intoxicating sound soup. Highlights come thick and fast throughout, from the slow burn soundscape of "Diviner (Devan)" and wonderfully percussive "Ritual (Rise Of Chief Adjuah)", to the intergalactic drowsiness of "Prophecy" and breezy "Double Consciousness".
Review: With so much at stake when seminal outfits decide to get back together it's understandable people usually greet the news of reunification with a degree of skepticism. But if RIDE's first epilogue didn't confirm it, their second post-comeback album should; sometimes a return is exactly what we needed. Tracks like "Future Love", "Jump Jet" and "Fifteen Minutes" stand up as excellent in their own right. At its most adventurous and confident, "This Is Not A Safe Place" is a startling work of extraordinary daring. RIDE sound as powerful and room-filling as it does hypnotic. "Repetition" vacuum packs a party in sharp, staccato goodness, "Kill Switch" takes us into dark, edgy territories, high pitched chord refrains and crashing cymbals creating an air of menace. So, if we didn't say it already, welcome back.
Review: Socio-political commentary abounds Sleater-Kinney's latest. The title references Yeats' "The Second Coming", and while the catalyst for this call for help isn't clear we are so desperately lost as a civilisation, bound by the chains of what Adam Curtis calls oh dear-ism, the specific sickness is irrelevant. Our symptoms are universal. This is clearest on "Can I Go On". In contrast to the aforementioned, with its furious guitars and anguished vocals, it's a poppier, almost-80s affair. Yet it discusses exhausted, wired-in people, questioning if we are worth saving. Perhaps "Love" will help? A jerking, proto-electro infused effort that charts (presumably) the band's early years touring in a van. When things made sense. But nostalgia isn't salvation, especially when the distorted vocals and scuzzy riffs of "Bad Dance" tell us to get down before it's all over. Hope lost in a deliciously textured, provocative record.
Review: To tie in with the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landings, Brian Eno has decided to put out a new edition of his decidedly spacey 1983 ambient album "Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks", which started life as the soundtrack to a long-forgotten documentary about NASA's space program. The edition is rather special, not only because it contains a remastered version of the original set created by Eno, his brother Roger and regular collaborator Daniel Lanois, but also because it contains a second disc of previously unheard material. This is not old, though, but rather brand new recordings - described as "new interpretations of the film soundtrack" - made by the Lanois and the Eno brothers late last year in a similar style. In a word: essential.
Review: The last ten years have seen no shortage of bands with their delay pedals set to stun intent on capturing an aura of dreamlike radiance. Yet Texas 'pop-noir' troupe Cigarettes After Sex are no ordinary shoegazers, for a variety of reasons - frontman Greg Gonzalez' androgynous and dulcet tones may be part of the appeal, yet moreover it's the quality of the songwriting here, which never falls prey to the style-over-substance traps of their peers. Indeed, this debut is more than enough to justify the considerable hype around this outfit, being a collection of ditties as sultry as they are atmopsheric.
If Loving You Is A Crime (I'll Always Be Guilty) (2:37)
Never In My Life (2:43)
I Can't Take No Chances (2:48)
Dark End Of The Street (3:23)
She's A Bad Girl (3:01)
Pouring Water On A Drowning Man (3:04)
What Do You Do? (4:15)
Review: Southern soul legend Lee Moses is arguably best remembered for his sublime and sought-after 1971 album "Time and Place", a set previously reissued by Future Days/Light In The Attic. Moses had been unsuccessfully trying to find fame in the six years leading up to the release of that set, offering up a string of singles recorded with Atlanta producer Johnny Brantley. This fine compilation gathers together all of those rare singles and B-sides, thus completing Moses' compelling musical story. There's much to set the pulse racing, from his bustling version of soul classic "Reach Out, I'll Be There" and a riotous funk cover of the Beatles "Day Tripper", to the sensational "Bad Girl", to the touching "You Are Too Much For The Human Heart" and full-throttle "Never In My Life".
Review: On his three previous solo albums as Blanck Mass, Fuck Buttons member Benjamin John Power offered up abstract but enjoyable blends of ambient, drone, IDM and electronics. On "Animated Violence Mild", his first full-length for two years, Power has decided to take a far more dystopian path, blending ear-catching, synth-pop influenced melodies with thrusting, doom-laden techno rhythms, growling aural textures, industrial strength noise and hybrid electronic power-pop. It's an ear-catching affair, with highlights including the boisterous, distorted techno-pop of "House Vs House", the post-apocalyptic power-trance rush of "Hush Money", the hypnotic, maximal ambient movements of "Creature/West Fuqua" and the pulsating intensity of "Wings Of Hate".