Review: Icelandic label Lahar debuts with this highly impressive release from NonniMal, who was previously spotted dropping the classy "Freyja" 12" on AE Recordings back in 2016. Sound design is the order of the day on "Eitt" as a beautifully rendered set of percussive bell notes chime around a minimal rhythm section - a piece pointedly geared towards transcendence. "Tvo" has an intriguing slant to its groove, as the sharply oscillating synth wobble juts out against the grain of the drums. "Thrju" takes things in a bleak but captivating direction, while "Fjogur" cools the record down in a cloud of blissful, frostbitten ambience.
Review: While he's continued to offer up occasional singles, Bonn-based producer Dominik Eulberg has not released an album for eight years. It's for this reason that "Mannigfaltig", the former Traum Schallplatten regular's new set, is big news. Interestingly, it's nowhere near as club-focused as you'd perhaps expect, with Eulberg combining his usual glitchy, tech-house influenced beats and sounds with a range of intricate electronic motifs, sumptuous melodies and atmospheric aural textures. There are one or two club cuts, of course, but majority of the tracks bob along at a more sedate pace, with Eulberg offering up cuts that draw influence from IDM and hazy electronica. As a result, it may well be his most coherent and "listenable" album to date.
Review: German minimal/tech house veteran Christian Burkhardt makes a worthy addition to East End Dubs' ever reliable Eastenderz stable with this absolute thrasher of an EP. Although a native of Heidelberg, Burkhardt was associated with the "Mannheim Sound" over a decade ago, but has since carved out his own distinct style on tastemaker imprints like Oslo, raum...musik and Cocoon, in addition to his own Christian Burkhardt Sessions. He is in impressive form on ENDZ 030, which features the moody tough rolling main room banger "Vibration" on the A side, followed by the meditative tribal trance of afterhours cut "Foundation" as well as the bleepy minimal funk of closer "Nation" which harks back to his output in the late 00s.
Review: Half journeyman, half David Lynch bar scene, all twisted crooner-dom, and at least a little tongue in cheek, Mike Patton & Jean Claude Vannier are aiming straight for the alternatives with this 12-strong collection of bizarre ballads and obscure odes that will appeal to rarer tastebuds. There's the spoken word and strummed guitars guiding us through the various parts of "A Schoolgirl's Day". The Sinatra-does-sarcasm of closer "Pink & Bleue", and the way "Hungry Ghost" aurally recalls "Everybody Knows" by Leonard Cohen. Truly unique stuff, despite its debt of gratitude to troubadour totems, counterculture rock and The Rat Pack, it's as rooted in the 21st Century as anything you'll hear today. The production process involved two creators in two different parts of the world, Patton and band in L.A., Vannier with a full orchestra in Vienna. Not that you can tell considering how complete the record feels.
Review: Spain's Fanzine hits double figures by welcoming Nullptr (the alter ego of British artist Eddie Symons) for some heat that has made him a cult favourite over the last decade. The man behind Cambridge electro night Motherchip Connexion and his own [d]-tached label invites you to strap in and surge through the skies with him on a pulsating journey that finds him tease real funk out of his machines. From sombre and stripped back cuts of lonely electro to masterfully melodic affairs via devastatingly emotional groovers, this EP does it all in fantastic fashion.
Review: Long before the electro revival sent producers scurrying into the studio to create their own Drexciya-inspired jams, Jeremiah R was ploughing his own intergalactic furrow for labels including Tabernacle, BAKK and Voodoo Gold. As this fine mini-album shows, he remains one of the most consistent electro producers in the business. The genius of "Tales From The Dark Reef" lies in the long-serving producer's ability to craft shimmering, sci-fi focused electronic music that takes the aesthetic appeal of the best electro records - the intergalactic aural textures, sci-fi intent, skittish rhythms and futuristic synthesizer sounds - and applies them to a variety of Detroit and Chicago-influenced grooves and soundscapes.
The Return (feat Thando, Jace XL, Alien, Whosane) (9:16)
Don't Give Up (feat Mandarin Dreams) (4:51)
Made Us Better (feat Blue Lab beats, Boadi, Lori) (8:35)
Review: After Sampa's magic debut album it makes sense she's been signed by Ninja Tune for a follow up. Once again here the Zambian-born Australian singer-songwriter and rapper is in excellent form, delivering slick, complex verses that she says are "the most me to date". Exploring notions of race and relationships, amongst other things, her voice is couched in gorgeous broken beat, hip hop and r&b production. Highlights are plentiful throughout - "OMG" is a funky afro beat, "Any Day" is neo soul in the mould of Erykah Badu and "Final Form" is a trumpet lead, warrior queen anthem to get your chest pumping. Essential.
Review: Trinidadian Deep is a master of long, winding, enchanting house grooves that are deep but also spiritual and laced with afro percussion. Shelter acquires his latest two efforts and the glorious "Native Culture" opens things in subtly uplifting fashion. Trilling organ chords rise through the mix to give life to the jumbled drums and sustained pads in the background which keep things deep and ensure maximum hypnosis. "Eggun" has a more bubbling sense of rhythm, with vocal coos and surging chords peppering the track and bringing motion. Powerful stuff.
Review: Swedish house producer HNNY gave up DJing in 2016 but has still been working on music in the background, and we're glad he has, because the two cuts here for new label born out of a Stockholm audiophile bar, Hosoi, are lovely. A side "By" conjures a gorgeous mood with soft snares and what sounds like Spanish guitar strumming away beneath aching vocal coos. Flip over for "Hosoi", a dreamy downtempo groove with live sousing drum work and incidental chords that drift by on a warm breeze. This EP is a perfect tonic for those needing a break from busy modern life.
Review: This new one on Martyn's 3024 might be a various artists affair but the tracks sit rather well together, which is even more remarkable given the diverse backgrounds of those involved: Noire with his super hard drums, Metalheadz affiliates Gremlinz & Jesta who link here with Sin, and Parris who makes some truly bonkers club music. Martyn's own "Frozen Bread Snaps" is the opener that most impresses with its delicate and skeletal drum programming and heartfelt chords. Elsewhere, "Door Of Guf" is a high octane rough rider while "Ballas" is perfectly off kilter and funky. "Dusty Glass Bubbles" somehow sounds exactly like it should with that title.
Review: Let's get one thing straight: Ravanelli Disco Club is exquisitely named. The output has proven just as tasty, too, and with Eben Rees at the buttons of this latest EP, you'll want to tuck in once more. He serves up a brace of breezy disco house tunes: opener "Bongo Boulevard" is a funk licked and perfectly carefree sort of tune you'd drop at sundown to hint at the fun to come, while "Dyfal Donc" gets more upbeat with an eco system of cosmic leads and pads dancing above well swung drums. Freerange man Jimpster provides a remix laden with wet claps and funk riffs, and Tech Support's rugged disco arps will make any floor take flight.
Review: Young Marco's admirable Safe Trip label continues to explore the archives of Antwerp-based Van Elsen brothers, offering up more early '90s gems from their wonderful - and previously under-appreciated - ambient techno project Trans-4M. Both tracks here are alternative versions of cuts from the duo's brilliant "Sublunar Oracles" album. On the A-side you'll find a previously unreleased remix of "Arrival" that wraps jaunty, sunrise-ready synth stabs, psychedelic electronics and chiming lead lines around a chunky, floor-friendly groove and thickset bassline. It's superb, as is flipside "Amma (Moon Mix)" - a 1993 12" B-side that adds a little humid, dancing-all-night-under-a-blanket-of-stars vibe to an already impressive ambient techno classic (think boisterous beats, starry ambient motifs, dreamy chords and subtle tribal influences).
Review: A year on from their last deep dive into the unreleased archives of Dutch producer Erik "RX-101" Jong, Suction Records has re-opened the vaults and put together the artist's first ever full-length excursion. As with their previous archival RX-101 releases, all the material on "Dopamine" was recorded between 1997 and '99. It sees the little-known Dutch producer offer up a range of melodious and atmospheric IDM and ambient techno tracks that were massively influenced by the early-to-mid '90s output of Warp Records and the more meditative and luscious works of Richard D James as Aphex Twin and Polygon Window. It's a wonderfully emotive excursion all told; an impeccably produced and impressively sequenced set that should be considered a long lost classic of '90s electronica.
Review: Pure, infectious, filthy, brilliant club energy. Steve Marie takes the a-side by the horns, first with the ravey, jacked up acid cut "JuplVtrax", then the nimble drum work and ducking and diving synths of "Psychedelia", which brings to mind flickering old VHS of illicit field gatherings from the nineties. Astral Body then takes you even deeper down the rabbit hole with the manic 303 and hyperdrive drums of "Galaxy Beat". "Equinox" closes things out with surging solar waves, rippling acid modulations and kaleidoscopic colours that leave you breathless. Reach for the lasers, etc.
Review: If you're new to the Alex Giannascoli's world then make yourself comfortable - chances are, like us, you'll be here for a while. There are so many tangents, threads and stylistic shifts of shape it's possible to dive into his back catalogue and spend years never getting bored. It's now far quicker to understand what we're talking about, though, thanks to his latest album. There are multiple personalities at play here than you'd think could be coherent, but coherent this record is. Opener "Walk Away" sounds like an overview of the whole thing - growing from desperate cry into a grandiose, captivating thing of real beauty via reversed-out backing track and looped lyrics. All very Beta Band. From there we're locked-in, through the shimmering melodies of "Taking" to "Sugar"'s deep, tense atmospheric crescendos and vocoders. Ending on the stunning brass-accented blues rock of "SugarHouse (Live)", it's as complete a record as you could ask for.
This Love Is Magic (feat Chanel - Soul Rockers mix) (3:48)
When It Rains (feat Cleveland Jones) (4:39)
Review: It would be fair to say that Dee "Kejam" Majek (real name Oladisun Majekodunmi) is something of a veteran, with the Nigeria-born writer, musician and label owner producing his first released music way back in the early 1980s. This double seven-inch single marks his debut for Izipho Soul, and his first release of any sort since 2016 debut album "Majek". There's much to admire throughout, from the slick '80s soul warmth of Lisa Taylor collaborations "Can You Feel The Love" and "My Only Love" - the latter featuring a slight two-step soul feel - to the electrofunk-influenced R&B shuffle of Chanel hook-up "This Love Is Magic (Soul Rockers Mix)" and the toasty, dewy-eyed goodness of "When It Rains", which features lovely lead vocals from Cleveland Jones.
Review: Francois J Bonnet (a composer and electroacoustic musician) and Stephen O'Malley (the main man of metal band Sunn O)))) come together here for their first collaborative album. It combines O'Malley's doom laden guitar work with Bonnet's compositional skills to make for a dynamic soundscape that has the sort of grand ambient architecture that places you right at the heart of it all. Dark yet inviting, it is noise that nurtures and comforts you despite its rather foreboding overtones. Orderly yet alien, desolate yet filled with human emotions, "Cylene" makes for a compelling listen.
Review: Okbron are a new Russian label dedicated to giving unreleased dubs from the golden D&B oldies a fresh lease of life. Limited (naturally) so not to be slept on, the first in the vinyl series kicks off with Furney. One of the hardest working, underrated D&B craftsman to come through the Goodlooking school of the 2000s, both these cuts come with heavy samples (hence their unreleased status) and hit with epic levels of soul and funk. Timeless and perhaps timely as the classic big-balls liquid sound seems to making its way back. Either way, this is a highly impressive launch release from a label with serious promise.
Review: Prolific but underrated Motor City producer Detroit's Filthiest makes a comment on the falsehoods of society with his latest EP. But there is nothing fake about his talent: he manipulates his machines in compelling fashion here, pairing perfectly squelchy bass and synthetic synth textures with the most gorgeous and organic piano keys imaginable. "Baby Makin Music" is laden with romantic chords, while "Mothership Has Landed" is more edgy and unsettled. On the flip, "No Strings Attached" is a playful and jazzy electro cut that makes way for the equally excellent "Social Engineering". In these times of electro trendiness, this EP still manages to stand out.
Review: Considering their penchant for spinning yarns and the cinematographically-suited nature of much of their work, it's surprising "Days Of The Bagnold Summer" is only Belle & Sebastian's second shot at a movie score. The last was 2001's '"Storytelling", accompanying Todd Solondz's movie of the same name, and they certainly did a good job then. So, high expectations this time round. For those unfamiliar, their latest foray into the film world partners the directorial debut of Simon Bird, best known to many as one of "The Inbetweeners". The flick, an adaptation of Joff Winterhart's 2012 graphic novel, chronicles the life and times of a teenage metalhead and his single mother. The album perfectly accompanies but also contributes to that tale. Highly emotive instrumental tracks and classic B&S songs-proper, this OST is destined to go down well with the band's true believers.
Review: The man himself would probably say "it's Ed - Jus Ed that is!". To directly quote the Underground Quality chief himself, the man says he is back as Bridgeport Connecticut's all time champion of house and techno, undefeated since 2001 - and still! The guy sure ain't modest, but we couldn't have said it better. From the smooth and meditative vibe of "Favignana Sunset", to the fierce acid banger "I AM" as well as the brooding and doom-laden dancefloor drama of closer "Impulsive Curves", this is unlike anything we have ever heard from the UQ boss before.
Review: With the state of world politics at the moment, we could all do with the occasional pick me up. Enter The Pharaohs who link with Chicago natives Spencer Jackson Family for "Bring Back Peace To The World", which gets a timely reissue on Ubiquity. It's a spiritual bit of jazz funk with sax lines to get you grooving, deep soul vocals that stir you from the inside out and gospel overtones that get anyone ready to rejoice. Each part is as essential as the other and despite adding up to just over five minutes in total, both cuts will no doubt enhance your mood.