Review: Way back in 1998 when Massive Attack's career-defining "Mezzanine" was first released, legendary dub technician Mad Professor cooked up some radical reworking. They now get their first official release alongside dubs of two tracks that never actually made it onto the album - Metal Banshee: a dub version of "Superpredators" which was a cover of Siouxsie and the Banshees' "Metal Postcard", and "Wire", which was actually recorded for the film "Welcome to Sarajevo". Wild effects, plenty of knob twiddling and oodles of reverb define this freaky late night collection and mark another essential release in the catalogue of the already legendary Mad Professor.
Review: Kris Baha has been on a serious roll over the past few years, notching up releases on Bahnsteig 23, Pinkman and many more besides. Now feels like the right time for him to drop an album, and where better to do such a thing than Cocktail D'Amore? The Berlin-via-Melbourne producer's sound comes through loud and clear - minimal wave and industrial influences abound, executed with ferocity and flamboyance in equal measure to create a many-shaded set of deviant dance bangers. "Living Nothingness" is the ultimate nihilistic beatdown, "Steel Sands" channels early Nine Inch Nails to perfection, and "Defied" has a propulsive thrust that would make Al Jourgensen proud. Baha wears his influences on his sleeve, and why not? They're great influences that he creates stunning music with.
Review: Eliphino continues to explore his emotionally charged, modern sound with this new mini LP for Secretsundaze. Following the trend laid out by his previous turns on Hypercolour, The Love Below and Meda Fury, he unfurls a richly harmonic sound that places emphasis on melodic progression to tell a particularly personal story, ranging from the emotive "Studio Time" to the crooked break-flecked "Old Lemons". "Second Sunday" flirts with electro and "Breaking Up Is Hard" veers towards jungle, but throughout Eliphino's personality binds the record together in fine style. Thoroughly contemporary and unbounded by genre restrictions, this is the sound of someone making the record they want to make.
Review: Three months after rapper turned singer Lizzo's major label debut first appeared on CD and digital download, Atlantic has decided to offer up a deluxe vinyl edition of the well-received set featuring three bonus tracks. Prior to release, Lizzo admitted she wanted to become "this generation's Aretha Franklin"; while she's not at the late soul legend's standard just yet, there's enough on "Cuz I Love You" to suggest that she's going in the right direction. Her vocals are variously confident, powerful, strutting and tender, with the accompanying backing tracks mixing hip-hop and R&B style beats with raucous guitars, bombastic basslines, Daft Punk style synth stabs (think "Robot Rock" and "Technologic") and occasional nods towards more pastoral, semi-acoustic sounds. Above all, though, the album is funky, forthright and hugely entertaining.
Review: Jazz-man Greg Foat has always been more open-minded and eclectic than many give him credit for, delivering nods to pastoral folk, movie soundtracks and library music amongst his more jazz-focused output. Even so, "Photosynthesis" is still a curveball, featuring as it does drowsy and mostly leisurely soundscapes that move from Radiophonic Workshop influenced weird-outs and mutant lounge music, to stoned horizontal grooves and post trip-hop soundscapes. Interestingly, some of the album's standout moments come laden with woozy electric pianos and the kind of hazy, slow motion guitar motifs that evoke mental images of long, drawn-out sunsets.
Yellow Dandelion (feat Georgia Anne Muldrow) (5:05)
Gnawa Sweet (6:03)
Icy Roads (Stacked) (4:17)
(To) Know Where You're Comin From (5:41)
The Leo & Aquarius (feat Jehst) (6:49)
You Didn't Care (feat Nubya Garcia) (5:12)
Self: Love (feat Obongjayar) (6:23)
Review: Joe Armon-Jones has been a driving force in the resurgence of contemporary jazz and now makes something of a victory lap with this new album on the always essential Brownswood. It's a very modern mix of bass and dub, du jour club culture and his own jazz styles featuring peers like Moses Boyd and Nubya Garcia. Frankly, the whole record is silky, starry-eyed and sublime and the excellent artwork also hist at the cosmic subtleties of this album, but our picks of the bunch are the neo-soul, summery stroll through the park vibes of "Yellow Dandelion", "Gnawa Sweet" which glows with mellifluous Rhodes chords and the uncompromising yet accessible sax and big brass action of album highlight "You Didn't Care".
Review: It's cult records and mythical artists like this that record collectors fawn over for years. Well this particular wait is now over as for the first time ever on vinyl you can now own two super rare 1980-82 tapes by Two Daughters. They were a mysterious pair affiliated with Throbbing Gristle and recorded all sorts of dark and haunting noise in Brixton for Nurse With Wound's United Dairies. This session is as freaky as they come, with muffled voices appearing out of the noise like apparitions. Hypnotic and daunting, droning and bleakly mesmeric, this music sounds to us like the shadowy corridors of an old lunatic asylum in the dead of a winter's night.
Review: Apparently inspired by 1980s computer game soundtracks and the synth-heavy scores to fantasy films, M83's "DSVII" is slated as a sequel to the band's 2007 set "Digital Shades". If so, it's a rather belated one, especially considering the French outfit has released three studio sets and a swathe of soundtracks since then. Regardless, the material here is deliciously evocative, emotion-rich and atmospheric, mirroring the ebb and flow (and peaks and troughs) associated with soundtracks whilst relying entirely on i80s-sounding synthesizers and drum machine hits. It's basically synth-wave, with Symmetry's "Themes From An Imaginary Film" - itself based on music initially intended for the "Drive" soundtrack - being an obvious comparison.
Review: Tribe Of Colin have done a good job of keeping their identity unknown despite plenty of well received releases. Honest Jon's gets a fourth album from the enigmatic artist(s) that deals in sludgy techno, dubby steppers and pulsing electronic music that harks back to the streets of Detroit as much as hinting at a future London landscape long after humans have long gone. Twisted synths, shimmering percussion, dark chords and complex rhythms are interwoven with gritty textures and field recordings from around the world to make it a spellbinding listen. Fans of Actress and Andy Stott will love.
Review: Whether offering up dreamy, loved-up synth-pop or languid Balearic beats, Michael Silver's work as CFCF has always tended towards the summery and sun-kissed. Yet even by his high standards, "The Colours Of Life" is extra-special. The album first appeared on Canadian tape/download imprint 1080p back in 2015, becoming something of a cult item amongst ambient and Balearic collectors. The good news is that it's finally made it to wax, and not a moment too soon. The album's mixture of lazy, elongated chords, bubbling synthesizer melodies, soft focus beats, seductive aural textures, gentle new age motifs and occasional heartfelt jazz guitars is a treat for the ears: an aural bubble bath whose sonic smelling salts will tickle and tingle the senses.
Review: When you think of the way we were when Blink 182's angsty punk-pop was tapping the top of the charts one word comes to mind - innocence. Compared to this era of impending existential doom it was easier to work out solutions then, even if solutions weren't put into action. So welcome to the new age, and a new Blink 182 intent on carving a fresh place for themselves in this frighteningly complex point in history. It's as though 2016's "California" was a cathartic and temporary rekindling of old flames, giving closure and helping the band move forward properly. Here they take us into territories barely on their radar before. Not that opener "The First Time" doesn't nod to past glories. "Darkside" brings arty, experimental punk, "Heaven" is a main stage overture, "On Some Emo Shit" is a desperate call for help and admission of the universality of fragility.
Review: Talk to anyone about Stranger Things and it will only be a matter of minutes before the sensational soundtrack is mentioned. The future retro synths of Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein have a huge impact on deepening the occult feelings you experience when watching the show and that continued through Series 3. Now you can grab the accompanying tracks on neon pink vinyl, which features the vulnerable "You're A Fighter", celebratory 80s synth pop stomps of "Starcourt" and meditative charms of "The Ceiling Is Beautiful" amongst other nuggets of gold. The producers themselves have said this is less a score and more a series of cues, and it certainly got us thinking.
Review: Shadowy Swedish duo SHXCXCHCXSH are back with another full length on Shifted esteemed Avian imprint, with SsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSsSs. Always the pranksters, their cryptic language pushes the threshold yet again with the LP's 15 tracks (most come in at around three minutes) taking on increasing variations of lower and upper case. Dark and challenging freeform techno that turns the usual conventions of techno on its head, featuring harsh and textural power electronics plus the blatant abuse of looping, tape delays and excessive overdrive. Deconstructed rave aesthetics drowned in field recordings and surface noise throughout: heavy!
Review: "Sulla Pelle" marks the first collaborative release between London based Italian Valentina Magaletti and Swiss artist Julian Sartorius. Made using The Heliocentrics' 1970s BBC mixing desk, it is a meditation on rhythm, off grid grooves and stuttering percussive lines that will loosen every bone in your body. There is a delicacy and minimalism to the hypnotic ten minute opus "Micro Tormento", but "Tre Port" is a darker, more sparse affair with loose hits and tumbling drums. Opener "Sobaka" is the prickliest of the lot and the title track is the busiest and most restless, making for a fantastic trip over all.
Review: From 1986-1991, Uruguayan vocalist and musician Mariana Ingold was a pivotal figure in the evolution of the indigenous Candombe rhythms of her homeland. She took the sound in new directions with artists like Eduardo Mateo, Jaime Roos, and Hugo Fattoruso across a series of albums that made use of the newly emerging synth technologies of the time. The result is a folk-y album of found sounds, acoustic guitars and majestic harmonies that are all tied together with Ingold's own delicate, elegant vocals. This collection draws her best work into one beautiful anthology that has upbeat numbers like "Trasnoche" next to soothing lullabies such as the heavenly "Tiempo Leve".
Review: Ambient label and blog Past Inside The Present here present their first album from Benoit Pioulard, an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and photographer who has long been making his own field recordings and lo-fi compositions. His past tapes have become hugely sought after and albums on Kranky and Moodgadget are not far behind. "May/Atra" is beautiful and cathartic, a place for lost souls to drift amongst dusty soundscapes that evoke nostalgic memories. It's music for day dreamers and those happy to get lost in their own thoughts while being nudged along by these emotional aural cues.
No Mo Fux (feat Amiiiritafari & Triiinitytafari) (2:36)
Peace God (feat Jeremiah Jae) (3:03)
Praise God (feat The Afr0dite) (1:17)
Melanin (feat Pyramid Vritra) (5:34)
Review: Famously busy and productive L.A.-based rapper Pink Siifu's latest album came last year, but now arrives on vinyl for the first time. It's a beguiling collage of spoken word interludes, ace beats, and low-fi production that has you in a spin as you try to keep up with the stories and unfinished sonic sketches as they unfold. Mood wise it delves into gorgeous neo-soul, sun-kissed California hip hop and Flying Lotus style digital sound art. It's the sort of fast paced, multi-layered album that will keep you coming back for more as you endlessly try to unpack its smartly sampled goodness.
Review: The Studio One catalogue is the gift that keeps on giving, and Soul Jazz continually play Santa. This latest comprehensive collection is a great compilation of some of the best DJs and MCs to have been involved in reggae. Vital Jamaican stars like Dillinger, Prince Jazzbo and Lone Ranger all feature next to more hardcore names and some choice rare cuts. Spanning the 70s and into the mid-1980s, this 18-track offering gives a glimpse into the evolution of reggae to more digital and dancehall styles that come later, all with specially commissioned sleeve notes by Fashion Records head honcho Chris Lane.