Review: REPRESS ALERT! Best Record Italy take the time machine all the way back to 1979 to revisit the wonderful Italo-Disco delights of Adolf Stern, whose "More... I Like It" represents the strangest end of the genre as it was taking shape. With heavily processed vocals injecting some serious strangeness into the chirpy disco backdrop, it's the kind of track to turn heads without a doubt. "Twenty Seven" on the B-side is equally magical in its capturing of the era, with the more obvious surface elements underpinned by a truly intoxicating line in synth arpeggios. Once again Best comes up trumps refreshing the history of Italian music of all shapes and sizes.
Review: EYA Records presents a double 12" of plush techno and house spanning styles, giving four producers the chance to showcase the breadth of their sound with two tracks each. Innershades brings emotive 90s swoon and peppy acid to the A side, before Two Phase U slips in a little uptempo robo-disco sauce and a feisty jack track. Otis takes things in the direction of wiggy proto-trance and bleep techno, and then Zots finishes up with freaky synth work dripping with mischievous personality. This is a set of tracks that demands to be noticed - don't sleep.
Review: Afrodesia may come on like another dusted down gem from those dedicated detectives at Best, but it is in fact a modern construction from the talented studio trysts of Mystic Jungle and Whodamanny from the Periodica camp. These Italian producers have more than proved their knack for crafting sublime, honey-smooth jams with a nod to the golden studio era of the 70s and 80s, and they're more than up to the task on this killer 12" of heavy funking jams with a dose of boogie and a nod to Ivory Coast disco. It's quite simply perfection, rendered with love and attention to detail, but utterly natural in its feel and flavour.
Review: Hold tight for another dose of seriously sassy Italo brilliance lovingly reissued on Best. This time it's Plustwo and their outrageously fun "Melody" getting the treatment, with the A side given over to the catchy vocal version and the previously unreleased dub version. "Stop Fantasy" on the flip is another sugar-coated trip through poppy dancefloor perfection, with some cheeky acidic undertones for those listening with the right ears. You'll recognize this one as a crossover hit that's snuck up in deep digging sets - now you can get your mitts on it too.
Review: When you use words like "prickly", "abrasive" and "uncompromising" it's rarely flattering. Consider Kim Gordon's exceptional powerhouse long form one of the exceptions. As far removed from music for the masses as you could hope for, it takes a particular talent to deliver work like "No Record Home". Labels such as punk certainly apply, but it's less about mouths gushing spittle amid the deafening screams of guitars and raucous vocals, and more about overall attitude. No change there for this co-founder of the mighty Sonic Youth then. Loud and intelligent, forthright and yet heartfelt and tender in its own unforgiving way, it's as far removed from wall of sound discordance as it is anything you could describe as remotely over-explored. Marrying the bloody-lipped electro of Peaches and body blow lows of EBM with gritty rock 'n' roll chords, those looking for originality that oozes repeatability should consider their hunt over, for now at least.
Review: REPRESS ALERT!: Giorgio Gordano and Giorgio Dolce originally produced "KKK" back in 1983, and the track was taken into the hearts of the blossoming Balearic scene hovering around DJ Alfredo at Amnesia. It's as gentle and sweet natured as Italo disco can be, and of course it makes perfect sense that Best Records would dig it out of the archives and give it the shiny new reissue it deserves. The "Club Mix" of "KKK" is a feast of simple, charming programmed melodies and crisp drum machine rhythms with the innocence of the early 80s in its heart. The "Dub Mix" and "Bonus Beats" on the flip are handy for the technical DJs out there, but the "Club Mix" is where it's at for the lovers.
Review: It's not hard to understand why people so often ignore album release blurb. Sales-y, hyperbolic, and on more than the odd occasion rather poorly written, it's hardly required reading in order to get the most out of the record. That is unless it's Big Thief's 'Two Hands', a collection of music that genuinely makes more sense when you know the back story. For one thing this long form offering is arriving just months after its predecessor, which is always either the sign of a band that don't need big ideas to facilitate rapid-fire output, or a band that have so many big ideas they literally can't stop the momentum. This is a case of the latter. Timescale aside, "Two Hands" genuinely feels as though it was born in the Badlands, epic songs that invoke endless vistas across barren settings in a way that makes you feel as small as you actually are in a global context. Like cosying up in a log cabin away from the chilly endless dark of a desert night.
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.