Review: Life & Death's next ambitious undertaking is courtesy of label chief DJ Tennis who teams up with Israeli indie-dance duo Red Axes. They were first introduced to each other by Superpitcher & Rebolledo (The Pachanga Boys) at a festival in Corsica - and the rest is history. Recorded on top of a decadent old shopping mall in the middle of Tel Aviv, the trio are said to have combined their "love of psy and Mediterranean influences" over a scheduled week of recording sessions together. The result is Redrago, a collection of tripped-out dancefloor oddities that take in everything from lo-slung punk funk ("Rave 'N' Roll), heady and (acid) bass-driven dancefloor narratives that cross over into vintage pop ("Il Veliero"), deep kosmiche ("Plastelina") and deep and tunnelling techno as heard on the epic "Ventilo".
Review: Over the course of her three year solo career, London-based Australian Carla Dal Forno has steadily moved from a dark, stylish and bleak all-electronic sound to something a little warmer and more organic in tone. On "Look Up Sharp", her third album, she continues this trend, complimenting her usual lo-fi drum machines and synths with low-slung post-punk bass and the kind of pastoral, traditional instrumentation more often associated with folk music (think flutes, recorders, clarinet etc.). It's a curious blend, but one that works wonderfully well throughout the album, and especially on those songs to which she adds evocative, often melancholic vocals.
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.
Sugar Foot (feat Jon Anderson & Prairie WWWW) (2:00)
Fort Greene Park (2:00)
Titanium 2 Step (feat Sal Principato) (2:00)
Hiro 3 (1:08)
IZM (feat Shabazz Palaces) (2:00)
Juice B Crypts (2:00)
The Last Supper On Shasta (feat Tune-Yards) (2:00)
Review: Plenty has changed since Battles exploded onto the scene as one of the freshest bands of that moment. Not least within the outfit itself, with departures and instability seeming to run through the very DNA of this troupe. Nevertheless, some things have certainly stayed the same - in particular the complexity and detail in their sound. Synth math prog rock, without wanting to put too fine a point on it. At times it's almost over-facing, that is until you cut through the chaos and start to truly appreciate how good the nuances and intricacies actually are. Highlights come thick and fast, from opener "Ambulance" which nods to playful classical; re-read through chip music before exploding into hypnotic mania. "IZM", which benefits from the appearance of hip hop duo Shabazz Palaces, nods to turn-of-the-century Beasties Boys or Chemical Brothers. And "Sugar Foot" which takes things down a more organic, vocal-driven route. Intelligent and intellectual, not that we expected anything less.
Alhaji (Chief) Prof Kollington Ayinla - "E Ye Ika Se"
Colomach - "Kassa Kpa Sama Kpa"
Geraldo Pino - "Heavy Heavy Heavy"
MFB - "Beware"
Tony Grey & The Ozimba Messengers - "You Are The One"
Sonny Okosuns - "Oba Erediauwa I"
The Wings - "Single Boy"
Geraldo Pino - "Power To The People"
Original Wings - "Igba Alusi"
Don Bruce & The Angels - "Sugar Baby"
Geraldo Pino - "Africans Must Unite"
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: BBE continue to explore the little-known catalogue of Ghanaian athlete-turned-musician Sidiku Buari, whose West African style takes on disco and boogie made him a surprise star on the New York underground in the late 1970s. Here they offer up a fresh pressing of "Disco Soccer", a brilliantly vibrant and over-the-top set of NYC disco floor-fillers that's been stretched out across two slabs of wax (the original album was a single LP) to ensure a more dancefloor-friendly cut. Highlights include the bass-heavy, Moog-laden hustle of "I'm Ready", the Patrick Adams-esque brilliance of "Hard Times", the intoxicating, high-octane thrills of "African Hustle" and the pitched-down sweetness of "Games We Used To Play".
Review: Heart-on-sleeve isn't always the phrase you'd use to describe Mark Lanegan. Yet here on his 11th studio album the gravelly-voiced rock icon seems intent on making his exact feelings clear, which seem to centre on his appreciation of some of the UK's archetypal post punk and proto-electronic-indie outfits. "Playing Nero" and "Dark Disco Jag" in particular seem to owe much to the likes of New Order and Joy Division. These are no cheap knock-offs, though, and instead cement Lanegan's status as a hugely talented powerhouse of a rocker who's unafraid to call upon influences from psychedelic to New Wave as and when he feels like it, turning the whole thing into a collection of inescapable genius and unarguable talent. Great to have him back, and long may his fine form continue.
Review: Earlier this year, PJ Harvey wrote the score to director Ivan van Hove's theatrical adaptation of award winning 1950 film "All About Eve". Like the play itself, the score won praise, with critics acclaiming its' combination of emotion-stirring new musical motifs and the creative way in which Harvey used elements of Franz Liszt's "Liebestraum", a piece of music that featured heavily in the original movie. You can now judge it for yourselves thanks to this recording by Harvey, two fellow musicians and play stars Gillian Anderson and Lily James (each sings one song). We were spellbound, and we think you probably will be too.
Review: Diego Krause is a key part of the effervescing Berlin underground thanks to his work as a DJ, producer and co-founder of Beste Modus. Here he steps out on Mulen's 20th EP with three slick tracks that perfectly straddle the divide between deep house, tech and minimal. Opener "Apogee" gets busy on supple drum programming with all sorts of astral pads spiralling round the groove and a burrowing bassline brings the funk. "Dive" hits harder but is still detailed with deft synths, alien motifs and warped pads that make it so much more than a purely functional track and the lithe and elastic closer "Dominion" is simply irresistible.
Review: Stroom's latest chunk of left-of-centre brilliance comes from Jan Van Der Broeke, an artist active since the 1980s who's arguably most famous for his work under the Absent Music, June 11 and The Misz aliases. 11,000 Dreams is his first career retrospective and draws on 30 years worth of self-released cassettes and CD-Rs. It's a sublime set, all told, pulling together dreamy, evocative, melodious and soft-touch tracks that blur the boundaries between ambient, skewed downtempo pop, blissful warmth, spoken word laden cheeriness (the odd but brilliant "My Lesbian Girlfriends") and spacey cuts laden with exotic instrumentation and whistling synthesizer melodies.
Review: Almost five years has passed since now legendary Japanese producer Susumu Yokota passed away. Lo Recordings, who worked with the experimental electronica, techno and ambient artist over a number of years, have decided to mark the occasion by releasing a posthumous album made up of recently discovered - and previously unreleased - Yokota recordings made around the same time as 2002 set "The Boy and the Tree". While there has been a little post-production work by label founder Jon Tye, those familiar with Yokota's work wouldn't be able to tell. Otherworldly, imaginative and hugely emotional in tone, the ten included tracks flit between neo-classical inspired Japanese minimalism, pastoral soundscapes, gentle new age aural dreams and the kind of hushed, life-affirming ambient works that were once Yokota's trademark.
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.