Review: Copenhagen-based producer Rune Bagge (Northern Electronics/Ectotherm) presents the third installment on Courtesy's Kulor imprint. "Ingen Tak Til Systemet" (English translation: No Gratitude Towards The System) is a four track exercise in pure unadulterated sonic ultraviolence - if we've ever heard such a thing. From the pummeling and strobe-lit warehouse onslaught of opener "Secret Solutions", to the guttural and contorted noise terror of "Repulsion" followed by the frantic peak time mentalism of "I Am The Solution" which then gives way to the hyperspeed IDM of "Coup D'Etat" - there's truly no rest for the wicked on this one!
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: The latest instalment in Into The Light Records' ongoing "International Series" comes from Max Santilli, an Australian multi-instrumentalist previously best known for working alongside Jacob Fugar in Angophora. "Surface" is Santilli's debut solo album and has been compiled from an archive of home studio recordings made between 2016 and 2018. Predictably, it's rather good, with Santilli wrapping drowsy, slowly shifting musical flourishes (guitars, synths etc) around gentle, sun-kissed rhythms and suitably spacey chords. Throughout, the Sydney-based musician offers subtle nods towards his various inspirations (the ambient-jazz fusion of Michael Bierylo, Steve Hillage's timeless early ambient works and the intricate acoustic guitar playing of Steve Tibbetts and Miguel Herrero) while forging his own distinctly lo-fi and otherworldly path.
Review: Andre Sobota is Bungle, the Brazilian producer tearing up the contemporary drum & bass landscape with his hard hitting rhythms. He only tends to put out one EP a year, but that changes this autumn with three missives all landing in the space of two months. This is the first and features four cuts on two slabs of wax. "Mutant" starts out as an icy liquid roller before being ripped apart by rasping synths, "Dictate" is a glistening stomper with raga vocal stabs and melodic shimmers while "Enigma" is a dark, twisting and turning track that takes you down a rabbit hole. "Step Two" finishes things off in rump-wiggling jump up fashion and closes out a devastating release.
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: Vic Mars spent many years in Nagoya, Japan, and it shows in the delicate beauty of his compositions. Fusing understated elegance with the lilting folk traditions of the British Isles, his music is equal parts pastoral and ethereal. Following plenty of previous appearances on boutique London label Clay Pipe, he returns with "Inner Roads & Outer Paths", a thoroughly calming sojourn through fingerpicked guitar refrains, plaintive piano and plenty more instrumentation besides. There's a subtle tint of processing that lends an otherworldly edge to the ambience Mars is imparting - a truly soul-nourishing departure from the intensity of the modern age.
Review: Since he released his first album 11 years ago, bandleader, trumpeter and composer Matthew Halsall has proved to be one of British jazz's standout talents. In recent years he's delved into soul-jazz and big band jazz territory, so it's intriguing to find that "Oneness" is a much more spiritual, pared-down and minimalistic affair. Using a mixture of droning Indian instrumentation, languid and leisurely harp motifs, selective horn solos, melancholic trumpet lines and occasional traditional jazz instrumentation, Halsall has conjured up a series of meditative pieces that count among his most beguiling works to date. It may surprise a few listeners, but many more will find it enchanting, otherworldly and emotion-rich.
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: Hiroki Takahashi has delivered compelling ambient long players to Not Not Fun, Muzan Editions and more besides, but his most prominent works to date have landed on Where To Now?. Following the "Where To Be Vol. 2" cassette and "Raum" LP, he's back with the frankly gorgeous "Sonne Und Wasser", an EP that further highlights his exploration of crystalline ambience. "Nymphaea" and "Pollen" hover in glacial suspension, with pealing chimes ringing out their richly resonant tones over sustained notes pitched to melancholic perfection. "Photosynthese" centres on fragile sequenced patterns, while "Wurzel" occupies its own particularly wistful mood, played in a key distinct from the three prior pieces.
Custom Made (feat Ayo The Yung Afrika Pyoneer) (6:31)
Review: Jungle Brown's much anticipated second album is finally here, and packed with collaborations with exciting peers like Sampa The Great, Fliptrix and Terri Walker. The trio of Ric Flo, MAEAR & Tony Bones are in fine form with their ever soulful hip hop taking subtle hints from grime, house and trap. "Keep It Movin" and Huami" are for golden era fans, while "Sometimes" flips the script with a tight, bumping house beat and buttery raps. "Custom Made" is a rhythmically inventive, richly layered track and is one of many highlights on a standout album.
Review: Batu's Timedance label is in red hot form and Aussie talent Air Max 97 only stokes the fires with this scintillating two tracker. It comes hot on the heels of his link-ups with Loft and TSVI on the "Falling Not Walking" EP back in summer and hones in on tight, well trimmed dance floor dynamite. "Ice Bridge" is post-jungle madness with bold sub bass underpinning a scampish brew of steel plated drums and hits. "Bruxis" is a crowd teasing slow jam with heavy, dragging drums and twisted vocals that will leave you begging for more as you tumble freely through a darkened corner of the cosmos.
Review: HTRK's debut album in 2007 proved to be a seminal one for fans of experimental noise. It cooks up impressively abrasive and caustic textures, crashing waves of white noise and sonorous pulses that speak of a future dystopian world. Tense and absorbing throughout, the lo-fi design and elements of post punk, post industrial and post techno makes it a modern analogy of the likes of Throbbing Gristle. 12 years later, the record sounds just as good, and arguably even more prescient in these twitchy times of digital surveillance, social anxieties and worldwide political tensions. It might be bleak, then, but that doesn't mean there is real beauty in this album's disharmony.
Review: Portuguese pair Antonio and Manuela Duarte made plenty of music together in the mid-to-late 1980s - mostly offering an intriguing fusion of Ash Ra style meditative kosmiche, ambient electronics, new wave style and Iberian instrumentation - but very little of it was ever released. Hence "Electricidade Estetica", a debut album made up of previously unheard recordings that have sat dormant on reel-to-reel tapes for well over three decades. It's a fine collection of tracks, all told, most of which are near impossible to accurately describe or pigeonhole. Fundamentally, they're all inventive, atmospheric and ear-pleasing, offering a fine collection of head-in-the-clouds cuts that rises above its lo-fi roots to present the Portuguese pair as previously unheralded Balearic pioneers.
Review: Eyes Down takes its name from the period in 1991 where subway riders in New York City were told to keep their eyes down for fear of upsetting someone and provoking them into a stabbing or similar. It was the mostly deadly time in the city for murders per capita and there is certainly an unsettling, paranoid air to the gritty synth sounds of Mr Eff's latest album. The automation of the trains, the darkness of the tunnels and the daydreaming mindstate of riding late at night also feature across its 10 cinematic and evocative tracks
Tonis Magi & Music Seif - "Sa Haara Kinni Mu Kaest" (3:30)
Els Himma - "Keskoo" (2:44)
Valter Ojakaar - "Rasked Veosed" (4:05)
Uno Naissoo - "Marss Eksprompt" (2:49)
Gunnar Graps & Magnetic Band - "Leidmine" (3:17)
Eesti TV & Raadio Estraadiorkester - "Keskoosamba" (instrumental) (4:10)
Tarmo & Toomos Urb - "Valgud Peeglis" (feat Vanemode - short version) (4:59)
Eesti Raadio Estraadiorkester - "Malestuste Teel" (instrumental) (5:41)
Review: Several years deep into their quest to amplify their homeland's rich funk talent, Eastern European collective Estonian Funk Embassy level up with this exceptional compendium of tracks written and recording during Estonia's time under Soviet control. The first time most of these records have been released and distributed beyond domestic release, it's a total treasure trove of grooves ranging from upbeat, big band-led swing ("Keskoosamba"), thigh-slapping horn-heavy funk ("Rasked Veosed"), smokier, lounge-lapping jazzier influences ("Naed Vaid Oma Silmi"), sleazy disco funk ("Sa Haara Kinni Mu Kaest" and many shades in between. Capturing Estonia's musical legacy in all directions, this is a genuinely unique record.
Review: Liondub's 10 year anniversary celebrations continue with this savage slab of ragga jungle. This time the captain Liondub takes to the controls himself alongside fellow US jungle veteran Jah Boogs while vocal guidance comes from one of the most distinctive MCs in the game: Bristol's Blackout Ja. Here we find him in fiery form as "Touch Up The Key" brocks out in all directions over a precision-tuned subby bass wobble. "Dread" flips for a sunnier side of the stack as Blackout pays homage to his roots with more of a melodic flow to his signature gravel-toned bars. Loaded!
I Want You (She's So Heavy) (CD2: Abbey Road Sessions - Trident Recording Session & Reduction mix)
Goodbye (Home demo)
Something (Studio demo)
The Ballad Of John & Yoko (take 7)
Old Brown Shoe (take 2)
Oh! Darling (take 4)
Octopus' Garden (take 9)
You Never Give Me Your Money (take 36)
Her Majesty (Takes 1-3)
Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight (Takes 1-3)
Here Comes The Sun (take 9)
Maxwell's Silver Hammer (take 12)
Come Together (CD3: Abbey Road Sessions - take 5)
The End (take 3)
Come & Get It (Studio demo)
Sun King (take 20)
Mean Mr Mustard (take 20)
Polythene Pam (take 27)
She Came In Through The Bathroom Window (take 27)
Because (take 1 - instrumental)
The Long One (Trial edit & mix - 30 July 1969)
Something (Tale 39 - instrumental - Strings Only)
Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight (take 17 - instrumental - Strings & Bass Only)
Abbey Road (Blu-Ray Audio)
Review: There's a chance this Liverpudlian four piece will be familiar by now. This, their 11th studio outing, first unveiled as the 1960s slipped into the 70s, is a bonafide epic from an outfit that weren't lacking in epics; in many ways a culmination of their time together, marking the end of their active years and beginning of their legacy. By this stage, then, they've emerged from years spent on the inner journey and time on the outer, space cadeting to the hallucinogenic fuelled tones of "Sgt. Peppers" and "Revolver". Of course, there's still plenty of explorations happening, but the gritty blues rock of opening track "Come Together" really sets the tone. Five decades on, it still sounds great and maybe even better than you remember. Even if you own the original, this anniversary edition is worth having.
Review: Paris based producer Von D is having a busy and year having already worked with Moresounds and Rider Shafique in 2019. This time out he links with Jamaican vocalist Blackout Ja who himself has contributed to this label before now. This latest excursion is a big dancehall stepper that manages to unite authentic old school reggae with contemporary digital vibes. It features huge oversized hits and watery chords, droplets of synth and tinkling keys that all coalesce round a meandering bassline. A surefire hit that will resonant with fans all over the world.
Review: This new album from Warmth is made up of condensed compositions from their third ambient album 'Parallel' and showcase their mastery of spiritual, pure and cathartic synth work. Listening to this is what you might imagine passing from this life to the next sounds like - all consuming and intense yet somehow empty and utterly devoid of distraction. It is a meditation in sound that subtle evolves with intricacies that real themselves upon close headphone listening. Alternatively, put it on to sooth a busy mind and allow it to send you off to sleep.
Review: Root Down is an experimental album from 1994 when The Beastie Boys locked themselves in a rehearsal space and went to town on studio experimentation and live jamming. It came between "Paul's Boutique" and "Check Your Head" and resulted in two previously unreleased versions of the title track and snippets of music recorded while on tour in Europe. There is the typical Beastie Boys mix of floor rocking riffs but with funky new flows stitched in and thus charts the period in which the band went from their post punk guitar roots to a more new-groove driven sound.
Review: He may now be 72, but legendary highlife vocalist Pat Thomas still has the desire to make new music. In fact his previous set, 2015's "Pat Thomas & The Kwashibuu Area Band" - a collaboration with producer Ben Abarbanel-Wolff, storied Ghanian highlife bandleader Kwame Yeboah and musicians including fellow West African heavyweights Tony Allen and Ebo Taylor - is arguably one of the strongest albums of his lengthy career. This belayed follow-up is equally as inspired, with the golden-voiced Ghanaian vocalist providing the attention-grabbing focal point throughout. Yet while Thomas's vocals are as sublime as ever, it's the quality and detail of the accompanying music - a mix of laid back and dancefloor-ready highlife in the style he made famous in the 1970s - that really stands out.
Review: Alchemy Dubs have cooked up more heat here with a ninth 7" that is a collaboration between Ojah and Jamaican singer Ras Tavaris. "Long Run" is a live mixed, proudly analogue cut with a stepper rhythm overlaid by Tavaris' important lyric work that muses on plenty of contemporary issues. Some lively percussion adds character and a flip-side instrumental dub lays even more fantastic studio work. That this one comes in a hand-stamped, hand-numbered, thick custom sleeve and is limited to 500 units makes it all the more collectable.
Review: A true hot stepper and one of the best of its kind, this 1984 masterpiece from Ini Kamoze is heavy, real and authentic. It was actually Jamaican born artist Cecil Campbell's debut album and features spacious, slow motion dubs that invite you deep within their cavernous drums. The chattery percussion, echoing hits and loose percussion all make a real mark. "World-A-Music" has a beat fans of Damien Marley will recognise, and "General" features some of Campbells more vulnerable vocal work. For fans old and new, this is a perfect roots album with a unique perspective.
Review: Local Talk hits the rather significant catalogue number of 100 with a forward thinking EP that stays true to its MO over the last few years. It finds MLiR aka Modern Life Is Rubbish joined by Arnau Obiols to serve up a brace of brilliant tunes that blur the lines between a myriad different dance styles. "Lajbans" is a playful, fun tune with tooting arps and cosmic melodies all married to a chugging beat that Todd Terje would be proud of. The Bellaterra dub on the flip reworks it with plenty of space echo, knob twirling effects and sci-fi atmospheres. A tidy little package.
Review: The late Icelandic composer Johann Johannsson's second studio album from 2004 is one ambient-influenced classical piece that makes use of the same phrase throughout but, for technical reasons, is divided into four parts. It features a host of musical instruments, from tubas, horns, organs and trumpets to glockenspiel and bass. It's a masterpiece in minimalism and repetition, of non-linear music that traps you in the here and now, and it is a beautiful place to be when you listen to the whole album in one immersive sitting.
Round & Round (feat Darrion - Living Room version) (4:44)
Review: SimonAyEm has been collecting records and generally immersing himself in rap for a quarter of a century. He makes his own beats, held a rap show on Swiss national and here one of his homemade demos is presented on Burning Sole. The first version was a raw, made in the kitchen jam with rough drums and noodling keys next to a heady whistle, while the flip side is a more refined lounge version with a fuller, richer, warmer sound and more steamy chords, as well as a hook sung by the producer's own young son. Nice.
Review: It's the release that recently moved Skream to tweet he'll make 140 music again, Rarefied dig deep back over the vaults for their first remix release. First up is the Skream co-signed remix of T. A. R.'s "Amplivagant" in which Navy Cut captain J.Sparrow flips the bassline into a steamroller of a mix where the groove has a technoid mind of its own and the demolished results speak for themselves. Flip for Crypticz twist on Primer's "Signals". Switching out the skittering two-steps for ghostly amen echoes while keeping the tone and vibe just as eerie and haunted, it's another remarkable remix. Absolute solid gold.
Review: It's been a long time since the dank and dirty one last appeared on DUPLOC. 2015 to be precise. During that time DUPLOC have gone from strength to strength as a platform and Enigma Dubz has honed his sound to incredible levels. Warm, wet, trippy and loaded with a funk that seems to come out from nowhere, his signature and style is here in all its glory across four tracks. Highlights include the spooked-out desert charm of "ET" and the classic samples and barrelling sub swagger of "Lurkin". Don't take our word for it, the whole EP needs your attention.
Review: Many may know Seungyoung Lee AKA Mogwaa from his superb EPs and singles on Starwave, which sit somewhere between chillwave, boogie, proto-house and Italo-disco. There have been plenty of signs of his musical dexterity, though, and its' this side of his chameleon-like character that come to the fore on debut album "07307". While decidedly Balearic in vibe and tone, the album's nine instrumental soundscapes draw on a dizzying array of influences, from the synthesizer-based sounds he's known for to jazz, ambient, new age, dubbed-out synth-pop, Turkish style psychedelia and spaced-out movie soundtracks. In other words, it's a hugely enjoyable, atmospheric and alluring musical trip that surprises and delights at every turn.
Review: Since initial release in 2003, this classic from Atmosphere has been in and out of print and received various represses as a result. It is the gift that keeps on giving, frankly, it is an album takes you on a metaphorical journey through politics, emotions and the physical. Personal stories and vulnerable truths come from Slug's rich writing and richer delivery combined with complex rhythms, cosmic synths and funky drums that all help elevate the record yet further. It might not get the props of many of its peers, but this underrated gem should be on the shelves of any discerning hip hop collector.
Review: Jamaican ska vocalist Justin Hines was one of the many popular jewels on Duke Reid's Treasure Isle label. He often worked with the Dominoes backing singers and their first album, reissued here by Music On Vinyl, was reportedly a firm favourite of Bob Marley. Pure roots at its finest and straight from the mid-seventies, this is feel good music that brims with warmth and earthy vibes. It's a celebration of dreadlock culture, the beauty of the Jamaican motherland and a fine reflection of the horizontal pace of life out in the Caribbean.
Review: French DJ, musician and producer Kid Loco has a storied career that dates back to the birth of his own Bondage Records in 1982. Since then he has become a real reference point for alternative sounds that sit at a junction between the worlds of rock and electronic music. Sometimes sampling, sometimes playing the music himself, he has made an entry into the hallowed DJ Kicks mix series and now returns with a new album that draws on trip hop, downtempo and indie pop. "Venus Alice In Dub" is the sort of lushly detailed tack that is perfect for modern audiophile bars and "Yes Please, No Lord!" could become a cult curveball for brave DJs, amongst many other highlights.
Review: Since first emerging 23 years ago, Turkish outfit Baba Zula has developed a distinctive take on their homeland's psych-funk and psych-rock traditions, offering up albums that combine elements of occidental musical culture with low slung psychedelic rock grooves, spacey electronics and the delay-laden hum of dub. It's this unique fusion of past, present and future sounds from Middle Eastern and Western culture that makes their latest album - their first for five years - such a rewarding and enjoyable listen. While unique and hard to pigeonhole, each of the ten tracks is undeniably impressive, wonderfully evocative, genuinely atmospheric and - as you'd expect given their roots - more psychedelic than tea with Timothy Leary on the moon.
Link Up (feat Matthew Allman, Illaman & Black Josh) (4:54)
Hustle & Flow (feat Illaman) (3:05)
King On The Throne (feat Rodney P) (4:20)
Some Of Us Love Rum (feat Rebel ACA) (3:41)
Trilogy (feat Killa P & Harry Shotta) (4:08)
Review: Spragga Benz first made his mark in the mid 1990s, rising to become one of Jamaica's leading dancehall and reggae artists at the turn of the century. He's been rather quiet of late, though, with "Chiliagon" marking his first album release for almost a decade. It includes plenty of auto-tune-laden contemporary updates of his dancehall sound - with his trademark flow often laden in digital effects - but also touches on more traditional roots reggae, ragga, full band hybrid hip-hop/rock (intriguing opener "Move To The Music (feat Rebel ACA)"), ragga-jungle ("If Yuh Ready" with General Levy), grime ("Hustle & Flow") and the kind of ragged, punchy, heavily electronic club fare popularized by Switch and Diplo's Major Laser project.
Review: Often cited as the sort of album that took hip hop in credible new directions and opened it up to a broader audience who had previously been put off by rap and all its streetwise slang and urban references, Hieroglyphics' "3rd Eye Vision" landed in 1998. It has been cited as one of the best indie hop hip albums of all time thanks to its lavish instrumentation and stellar production from Domino, with contributions from A-Plus, Opio, Del and Casual. Each of the 20 tracks tell their own stories but mesh them together and it's a coherent album overall that proves going your own way, away from the majors can be a scary but rewarding move.