Review: Under the Special Request alias, Paul Woolford has released some stellar music this year. Astonishingly, "Offworld" is his third album of 2019; it could well be the best, too. It explores different sonic territory too, drawing heavily on electro, futurist Detroit techno, Boards of Canada style IDM and the slick 1980s productions of Jam and Lewis. The result is a stunningly beautiful, spacey and far-sighted set that contains some of Woolford's most emotion-rich work to date - and that's saying something. It also finishes in stunning style with an impeccable remix/re-make of the Grid's "Floatation" that sounds like the best early 90s Orb remix you've never heard.
Review: Holden's 2006 debut album was an astonishing one that gets a timely reissue on double crystal-clear splatter vinyl. A high watermark for proudly synthetic and computer made music, it was the bold arrival of an artist who endures as an innovator to this day. "The Idiots Are Winning" is a masterclass in unhinged grooves, glitchy electronic sounds and mutant sounds that set a new benchmark in experimental textures, sound design and dance floor clout. "Idiot" is the standout banger, "Lump" is more trippy and heat workout, and "10101" is the twitchy and mesmeric workout you cannot escape. Music as idiosyncratic as this doesn't come along too often, and even 13 years left it still sounds fresh.
Review: Texan psych-funk fun time outfit Golden Dawn Arkestra get some remix treatment via this double pack from Razor-N-Tape, which leads in with Austin Ato's positively dreamy deep house version of "Children Of The Sun". JKriv takes on "Cosmic Dancer" and makes it into a slick disco-fied workout that adheres to the RNT vibe, while Dicky Trisco takes the track and makes it into a suitably interstellar strutter heavy on the synth lines. Then then the second slab of wax offers up a side each to the original versions, from the Afrobeat-indebted "Children Of The Sun" to the sweet and starry-eyed disco of "Cosmic Dancer".
Review: Following a string of sizzling singles released over the best part of a decade, The Pendletons (AKA E Da Boss of Myron & E fame and Bay Area producer Trailer Limon) has finally got round to recording a debut album. It's something of a slick, soulful and groovy affair, offering a mix of breezy West Coast grooves, sun-kissed instrumentation, snaking horn solos, colourful synthesizer lines and oodles of soul-powered vocals from the group and guests including Howard Johnson, K-Maxx and Gizelle Smith. While it's something of a time capsule, stylistically at least, few do this kind of warm, glassy-eyed nostalgia better. Put it this way: it's every bit as good as we'd hoped for and much more besides.
Review: "Sonic Citadel" marks Brians Gibson and Chippendale's seventh studio album and it is one that finds them revealing a little more of themselves than before. "Blow To The Head" is an intense opener with caustic texture, dense layers and scuzzy noise that soundtracks a manic episode, while elsewhere there are much more angular and punk influenced rhythm tracks with deathly vocals mired in gauzy riffs engulfed in dirt, grit and sandpaper sonics. Standout track "Halloween 3" is a suitably horror fuelled track of high energy, lo fi fuzz that will keep any demons away.
Review: Given that it's called "Coloured" and appears on shocking pink vinyl, you'd expect Adam Longman Parker's debut album as Afriqua to be a decidedly vibrant and kaleidoscopic affair. It is, of course, with Longman Parker offering up tracks that mix tropical-sounding electronics, glassy-eyed synthesizer motifs, processed vocal sounds and evocative musical flourishes with jaunty, interesting rhythms that neatly sidestep conventional genre rules. It's a mixture that makes for hugely enjoyable listening, with highlights coming thick and fast. These include - though are by no means limited to - the densely layered dancefloor cheekiness of "Shout", the minimalist ambient bliss of "Noir", the hypnotic, intergalactic oddness of "Native Sun" and the bubbly club warmth of "Jumpteenth".
Review: "Dreams Are Not Enough" is not only the first Telefon Tel Aviv album for a decade, but also the first since the accidental death of founder member Charles Cooper the same year. It's perhaps understandable, then, that the album is bittersweet and melancholic in tone, with surviving member John Eustis offering up a range of drowsy, dream-like songs and instrumentals - think layered ambient, gentle Balearic synth-pop and tear-jerking late night soundscapes - that seem more laden with feeling than anything he or Cooper released during the band's successful early years. It's a genuinely beautiful, poignant and picturesque set capable of stirring emotions in even the most steely of listeners, and a fitting tribute - if, indeed, it was meant to be - to Telefon Tel Aviv's missing member.
Me! I Diconnect From You (BBC Peel Session) (3:07)
Down In The Park (BBC Peel Session) (4:18)
I Nearly Married A Human (BBC Peel Session) (6:38)
Review: Beggars Banquet turn to their Arkive arm for this 40th anniversary edition of Tubeway Army's classic early works. "The First Recordings", from 1979 has been identically sequenced as the original release with early versions of the tracks. Alongside hits "Replicas" and "Are "Friends" Electric?", our picks of the batch are "Me! I Disconnect From You", an archetypal deadpan delivery with mechanical grooves, the grungy and rock-laced "Only A Downstat" and lovable robo-pop "We Have A Technical".
Martha Reeves & The Vandellas - "I Can't Dance To That Music You're Playin'" (3:57)
The Jackson 5 - "The Love You Save" (4:17)
Bobby Taylor & The Vancouvers - "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" (3:43)
Sam & Dave - "Soul Sister, Brown Sugar" (3:18)
Aretha Franklin - "A Change" (3:33)
Sugar Pie DeSanto - "Go Go Power" (4:20)
Joy Lovejoy - "In Orbit" (3:52)
Judy Clay & William Bell - "Private Number" (4:30)
Review: Jobbing DJs will do well to pick this one up: it's a way to bring some original soul into your sets while also serving up some big tunes that people know and love. These careful edits pump up the sunny elements, layer in funky riffs, energetic strings and up the tempos of tried and tested classics from The Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye, Sam & Dave and plenty more golden oldies. Our picks: Bobby Taylor & The Vancouvers' fine cover of "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" and Sugar Pie DeSanto's hardcore swinger "Go Go Power" that's sure to get those hips moving.
Review: Last year, NYC based revivalist "gospel quartet" group the Harlem Gospel Travelers finally made their vinyl debut album after five years wowing audiences on the live circuit. 12 months later, they're finally ready to release their first full-length excursion. A nostalgic trip through 1950s and 1960s style gospel-based rhythms and blues, soul, funk and doo-wop, the album's greatest strength - aside from the authenticity of the music and production of course - is the group's incredible vocals. Brilliantly arranged harmonies play a big part, though the lead vocals (shared between all four members) are little less than stunning.
Shine On Through (feat Mountain & Karina Ramage) (4:11)
Kosa (feat Keeno) (5:58)
The Encounter (feat Bop) (5:40)
Miles Ahead (feat DJ Marky) (4:11)
Morning Sunrise (feat Danny Wheeler, G Force & Blu James) (4:55)
Tokyo '96 (feat SPY) (5:24)
Show Me How You Feel (feat Lorna King) (4:52)
Dive (feat Polaris) (5:42)
Liberta (feat Urbandawn) (4:34)
Living For (feat Paul T & Edward Oberon) (5:28)
Transparent (feat Whiney) (4:57)
Mystic Crystals (feat Technimatic) (5:16)
Nexus (feat Pola & Bryson) (4:13)
Merchant Blessing (feat MC Conrad) (4:31)
Review: Makato is often cited as one of the pioneering founders of Japan's drum & bass scene. He's now up to his sixth studio album and it finds his airy, rolling, sweet flowing beats all present and correct. "Tomodachi Sessions" derived from a series of collaborations with close friends who have all played a part in his 25 year career. DJ Marky, S.P.Y, Bop and MC Conrad all feature and lend their own personalities to an album that offers celebratory hands in the air tracks like "Shine On Through" next to more late night dancers like "Transparent" and melodic explorations like "Show Me How You Feel".
Review: In 1980, Don Slepian sat down with one synthesizer - a Korg PS-3100 - and a Mellotron and recorded two lengthy pieces inspired by a mixture of new age music, formative ambient sounds and American minimalism. The results - recorded live in two takes, with no overdubs - were released on a tiny label as "New Dawn - New Music For Digital Orchestra". As this licensed reissue proves, the music remains as beautiful and beguiling as ever, with both pieces offering slowly unfurling melodies, sustained chords and the kind of twinkling electronics that would later become the hallmark of 90s ambient producers such as Pete Namlook. If you love heady horizontal soundscapes and floatation tank atmospherics, this should be an essential purchase.
Review: Renowned studio wizard Prince Fatty finally follows 2015's "The Clone Theory" album with a second studio long player jam packed with heavy dubs and top notch guests. "In The Viper's Shadow" is a real hotlist of dub kingpins with the likes of Tippa Irie, George Dekker, Earl 16 and Horseman all contributing to a melting pot of sounds that spans multiple eras and influences. Many of these tracks have been popular during Prince Fatty's live shows over the last couple of years, from the soul infused cover of the Temptations' "Get Ready" to the sun kissed and lumpy drums and endless reverb of "Everything Crash". Timeless stuff.
Review: First released way back in 1992, Radio Tarifa's debut album "Rumba Argelina" has long been considered something of a global fusion classic. Reissued here on vinyl for the very first time - weirdly, it has only ever been available on CD in the past - the album has lost none of its charms. It's naturally rooted in various strains of traditional Spanish music - flamenco, Andalucian folk music and so on - but also incorporates musical elements from North African and Arabic music, with occasional nods towards tango and such obscure (but surprisingly enjoyable) styles as German medieval music.
Review: This 1988 debut album from Jungle Brothers eschews the use of the sampler, choosing instead to lay down these fresh beats by recorders, all looped by hand, eight bars at a time. The record also features Q-Tip for the first time on the excellent "Black Is Black" which features one of the few samples on the album as the voice of Gil Scott-Heron is stitched into the rolling beats. Smash hip-house hit "I'll House You" was added to later versions of the album and is included here with other gems like "Braggin & Boastin" and "Behind the Bush".
Smile (feat Ms Dezy, Aloe Blacc, Latoiya Williams) (4:12)
Fruitful (feat Sean Biggs) (4:31)
Big Mel (2:56)
Review: Cali-bred, Nevada-based couple G&D aka Georgia and Dudley have long been dealing in lyrically challenging hip hop that brings racial issues to the fore. More relevant and impassioned than ever in the era of Trump and his MAGA nonsense, Dudley says of this new album, "Truth fucks with people. This ain't just music; it's a message and a tool to raise up the spirit of the black race". As such the album mixes up those ideas with g-funk, soul, 70s funk, psychedelic sounds and contemporary beat making into an album that runs the gamut of emotions and will keep you coming back for more.