Review: Second time around for the third and final part of electro hero Gerard 'ERP' Hanson's "Evoked Potentials" series, which first hit stores way back in 2011. A-side "Repose" is (quite literally) classic ERP, with Hanson peppering Egyptian Lover style drums and funky synth-bass with chiming lead lines, starburst chords and deep space chords. It's tuneful and picturesque, but will also have you on your feet and throwing shapes in no time at all. Over on the flip, Plant43 (London electro veteran Emile Facey) turns in a very Drexciyan take on "Sensory Process", in the process wrapping Hanson's bittersweet strings and 33rd century electronic motifs around a suitably deep sea electro rhythm.
Review: From his appearances on Aesthetic Audio and Ornate through to his own Atmospheric Existence label, Miles Sagnia continues to be one of the best kept secrets of British deep techno, and that's no more apparent than on this stunning release for Common Dreams. There's a looped up insistence to "Heal", but it's offset by emotive movement in the synth lines and an overall spiritual quality that escapes much cyclical techno. "Plight" takes a slightly slower path, amping up the early UK electronica tones for an immersive experience shaped out by interlocking rhythms and snaking melodies. It's a truly classy statement that stays true to techno while saying something original.
Review: Back in 2016, legendary Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen approached techno pioneer Jeff Mills with the idea of working together. A series of live gigs and off-the-radar studio sessions followed, with the first fruits of their joint efforts finally appearing on this must-have 10". As you'd expect, the duo's collaborative work combines Allen's traditional Nigerian polyrhythms, traditional Afrobeat instrumentation, and the far-sighted, sci-fi inspired electronic futurism that has always marked out Mills' work. The result is a quartet of cuts that could arguably be described as retro-futurist Afro-tech - all delay-laden beats, basslines and organs subtly sparring with gentle acid lines, Motor City electronics, beguiling deep space textures and shimmering, 31st century motifs. It's arguably Allen's stylistic contributions that dominate, but that's no bad thing.
Review: D3 Elements clocks up release number five here by offering up a full EP to Zhao-Ski, who previously appeared on the VA EP release in 2014. What he serves up are a clutch of instrumental hip hop tracks that speak to the soul.
Zhao-Ski has been a key figure on the Detroit scene for years. A DJ since his teens and owner of the Black Operation Records label since the 90s, he has produced as part of collectives, played live with MCs and has been mentored by the famous Mad Mike Banks. As such his credentials and skills are long established, so he makes a welcome return to the D3 ranks.
'Enter the Void' opens things up with louche, sun kissed beats that immediately brighten up your world. 'Mischief Meadow' has tumbling drums, trilling keys and lots of dusty atmospherics and 'Warning Signs' marries spoken world snippets with jazzy percussive, slowly funky drums and woozy pads that lull you into a wholly relaxed state. On the flip, 'Tight and Upright' is all about the huge over sized drums, snares and cymbal splashes that are all miked up super closely, then 'Time Reimagined' starts with some filmic and evocative vocals and sound design before a trumpet led groove unravels in stoned trip hop fashion. Overall, this is a magically compelling and authentic little ride through the mind of Detroit's hip hop king, Zhao-Ski.
Review: The latest artist to deliver a volume in digital download specialists Masterworks Music's occasional "Master Series" of vinyl EPs is Dirtytwo, a Scandinavian duo best-known for their releases on Local k and Razor 'N' Tape Reserve. A-side "Consensual" is a genuinely deep and immersive affair driven forwards by echoing electric piano stabs, hissing ride cymbals and addictive bass, all topped off by glassy-eyed vocal samples of what sounds like Motown legend Marvin Gaye. Flipside "Get Down & Get With It" is an altogether sweatier and sleazier affair, closer in tone to the pair's various loved-up and peak-time-ready singles on Local Talk. It's rather good, though we still prefer the tactile and huggable A-side.
Review: PSYTH launches with the debut EP from Rob Shields. With a delicate urgency driven by a pulsating post-punk bassline, Shards
lavishes layer upon rich layer of sound, evoking the cool grooves of Peaking Lights and Chromatics, while a shimmering vocal
sample from Rebecca Sawyer adds an otherworldly sense of longing that echoes through the soul of the release. Silhouetted appears
more conventional and dance-floor friendly next to Shards, but under the surface is something unique and strangely exotic. A
mantra-like melody loop gives a nod to minimalist composer Terry Riley and his solo organ works, while world instruments such as
an African kalimba and Tibetan singing bowl only heighten the hypnotic and intoxicating quality even further.
Review: It's impossible to deny how tight the production on this experimental but highly workable and coherent double-A side actually is. Both tunes belong on the Everything In Its Right Place shelf, and each of those things seems to have been crafted with meticulous attention to detail. Opening on the original version of 'Kodokushi', there are more than a few clear references to the glory days of progressive breakbeat dance music, with the track a sparse, space-age set opener if ever there was one, gradually unfolding into a subtle and loose rhythm crying out for heavier beats to mix in. The Toulouse Low Trax remix goes someway to answering that call, bringing a gradually growing groove into the equation and heightening the percussive elements, leaving us somewhere between an instrumental of Massive Attack's 'Karma Coma' and Sasha's 'Airdrawndagger' LP.
Review: Those who've studied Tony Allen's distinctive drumming style often cite Art Blakey as an influence, so it's little surprise to find him paying tribute to the legendary jazz drummer on this superb album. Joined by his regular band, Allen covers a quartet of tracks written and recorded by Blakey and his band, the Jazz Messengers. The results are predictably impressive, with Allen's loose and polyrhythmic percussion providing a rock solid foundation for the horns, piano and double bass that sits atop. It's naturally closer to all-out jazz than to Afrobeat, but still bristles with the kind of punchy horns and life-affirming playing that characterizes Allen's work. "Thunder Suite", in which Allen drops a number of sweaty drum solos, is particularly potent.
Review: Belgian producer UC Beatz lands on Masterworks with two impeccable deep house cuts that nod to the sterling reputation he enjoys within the scene. "Mojoy" is a simmering jam with that raw 'in the room' flavour you'd expect from Moodymann, a sweet vocal sample and a rhythm section that teases as much as it moves. When the chords drop, it's sure to sway the crowd without losing the intimacy set up in the track's earlier moments. "Exotic Fruitz" has a similar production style, and that background bar chatter is back again to fill the space with a cosy atmosphere, but here the keys are more forthright and vibing in the direction of sunnier climes.
Review: Second time around for Julianna Barwick and Rafael Anton Irisarri's lauded contribution to the THESIS label's series of collaborative 10-inch singles. The 2017 set has been in high demand since it first appeared in stores, and with a limited number available outside the US for the first time we're expecting it to sell out in double-quick time. Musically, it's one of the most picturesque things that Irissari has been involved in. The untitled opener delivers a near perfect fusion of layered improvised vocals and wispy ambient electronics, while the track that follows brilliantly builds to a crescendo of Tangerine Dream style arpeggio melodies, densely layered textures and acid-esque motifs. The flipside opener is a more softly spun, deep ambient soundscape, while the EP's closing cut is sparkling, spacey and hugely alluring.
Review: Moochin' About's Record Store Day 2017 offering is something of a treat for jazz fans: a tasty 10" featuring an unreleased Alice Coltrane improvisation, recorded in Poland in 1987, on one side, and a delightful etching of a lotus flower on the other. Musically, the A-side sees Coltrane in harpist mode, delivering a spontaneous workout the rapidly jumps between strummed chords, plucked notes and frequent bursts of twinkling melody. At some points, it's blissful and becalmed, at others fizzes with the same kind of excitement you'd expect from freestyle jazz. At nearly 12 minutes in length it's something of an epic, but will hold your attention throughout.
Review: Maya's "Lait De Coco", a deliciously glassy-eyed chunk of mid-'80s Gallic pop with a decidedly Balearic bent, has recently undergone something of a revival is serious selector circles. Since copies of original 1987 7" copies have been known to change hands for eye-watering sums online, Attic Salt Discs has done the decent thing and offered up this tasty 10" reissue. Particularly alluring is the flipside Dub, which in true '80s instrumental style flits between spine-tingling ambient passages, delay-laden vocal selections, twinkling piano motifs and an even more glassy-eyed take on the warm and loved-up backing track. That said, the sax-laden A-side vocal version, the epitome of soft-focus European synth-pop goodness from the period, is also superb.
Review: For the latest missive on their fast-rising DET313 label, Gary Martin and Yossi Amoyal have dug deep into the archives of Martin's long-running Teknotika Records imprint. First up on the A-side is a re-mastered version of "A City At Night", a Martin cut from 1990 that mixes the futurist intent of Motor City techno with chunkier, UK style techno grooves and the kind of stabs and musical flourishes more associated with Robert Hood or Terrence Parker records. Side B boasts a freshly extended edit of another Martin gem - this time under the Gigi Galaxy alias - from 1994. "The Dream" more than lives up to its title, with Martin wrapping restless bass, starry lead lines, alien electronics and sumptuous chords around a hypnotic deep techno groove.
Review: Los Angeles has firmly established itself as one of America's electronic music capitals over the last ten years, with the city particularly fertile in more experimental ends, where rave, urban and downtempo collide in a haze of found sounds, samples and original loops. Kutmah pretty much encapsulates this point. Melding elements of hip hop, post-punk and industrial, 'New Appliance' is basically the producer's new calling card - a mini masterpiece that's so tight and well-executed it leaves no questions as to the creator's ability. 'Ramallah''s intoxicating Arabic references, crackling recordings of bells, haunting chants and exotic flutes. 'Stoned In Brixton' cries out for a sunset to soundtrack, nodding to the productions of DJ Krush or Bibio, with the latter similarly invoked on 'Tres Flores'. Smoked-out innovations by the kilo.
Review: Hot on the heels of "Mission" earlier this year, Shuya Okino's Kyoto Jazz Sextet troupe present another gem from last year's Unity album complete with a remix of the highest calibre. This time the cascading, Latin rhythm and frenetic horn leads of "Rising" are given the midas dancefloor touch by none other than Ron Trent. Maintaining the wily spirit of the original while coating in warm organ blasts and subtly bumping kicks, it's a precision translation that brings the original into a whole new context.
Review: In 1976, seven Cabo Verdean musicians going by the name Voz Di Sanicolau gathered in a small recording studio in Rotterdam where they laid down an album of fearsome coladeira songs inspired by the music of their home island of Sao Nicolau.
The album took only a few days to record, which may explain the unexpected urgency that fires each track. Treble-soaked electric guitar lines snake back and forth through percussion-and-cavaquinho driven rhythms rooted in the sound of the islands established by the previous generation of Cabo Verdean emigres; subtle keyboards wash through the background, and the vocals, traded between Joana Do Rosario and To-Ze, alternately push the music forward and soar above it. The resulting album is both deeply felt and fiercely executed, and in its grooves one hears the sound of some of the finest Cabo Verdean musicians of their era locked in complete unity of purpose.
It should have been the beginning of something extraordinary; but the pressures of making ends meet forced the musicians back to their day jobs, and Voz Di Sanicolau vanished as quickly as they had appeared, leaving their lone album, Fundo de Mare Palinha, as sole proof of their existence. Forty-four years later the album sounds as fresh as it did the day it was recorded. It is unknown if dutch sound engineer Frans Rolland, who oversaw the recordings, knew he was helping to make history: during these sessions, Joana Do Rosario, whose majestic vocals were crucial to the sound of Voz Di Sanicolau, became the first Cabo Verdean woman ever to appear on a long playing record.
Review: Spanish sound sorcerer Santana steps over to Porn Wax for a highly limited marble vinyl 10". "Disco Panorama" stomps with a beautifully sedate groove as clouds of synths cast a subtle spell over the beats. "Magic Words", meanwhile, is a more stripped back affair where the emphasis is focused squarely on the big lolloping bassline and a series of emotional chords ebb and flow over the top. Genuinely stunning. And with a guarantee of no digital and no represses, this really can't be missed!
Review: The always on point iNdicia Dubs invite you to get down to their latest riddim at the hands of Kibir La Amlak. Entitled '"Ancient Pulse" this new vinyl only missive has an enacting lead line that flutters away over this label's trademark drums: they are neon, steel plated, contemporary and do a good job of making you move. A tripper dub takes care of the A1 while on the flip there are even more whacked out versions with endless echo and reverb and natty keys, while "Divine Timing" is driven by a drilling bassline that burrows superbly deep.
Review: Kibir La Amlak is coming on strong in June with not one but two new offerings on regular home Indicia Dubs. "Lion Step" is another fresh and forward looking four track 10" with a thoroughly futurist twist on the tried and tested dub template. The shimmering leads glisten like buildings in some high rise metropolis, while the snaking leads and stoner effects all add to the escapism. The titular track leads proceedings in slick fashion, while "Lioness Step" slows down to a more meditative pace, with swagger bass for company.
Review: Back in 2015, jazz/electronica fusionists GoGo Penguin wrote and performed a live soundtrack to Godfrey Reggio's cult 1982 documentary "Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance". It was such a success that they have since performed the soundtrack live all over the world, and here deliver a fine mini-album inspired by their original "re-score". It's as vibrant, emotion-rich and stirring as you'd expect, with opener "Time-Lapse City" providing a dazzling mixture of intensely positive and restless pianos, bustling jazz drums and smooth double bass, "Ocean In A Drop" brilliantly growing in intensity throughout thanks to a superb new arrangement and closer "Nessus" sounding every bit as poignant and tear-jerking as it did when they first performed the score.
Review: A double dose of fun from Samosa Records here, as partners in crime De Gama (Stefano Gamma) and Les Inferno (Pierandrea The Professor) deliver a dancefloor delight each over two sides of wax. Gamma's solo cut "Sometimes Sometimes" resides on side A, with the long-serving Italian gleefully joining the dots between sumptuous, string-laden disco-soul warmth and filter-sporting deep house, with unsurprisingly sumptuous results. The flipside collaborative track is an altogether bolder and more peak-time ready affair. It sees Les Inferno add some chunky house bounce to a jaunty, electric piano-heavy chunk of gospel-influenced disco goodness.
Review: French edit maestro Chevals has been busy with releases on Whiskey Disco, Kolour LTD, Tropical Disco and Editorial over the past year. That should tell you all you need to know about how seriously rated this guy is in the scene, and it's no different as he lands on Masterworks with this tasteful 10" gem. "It's Just A Feelin" is an infectiously upbeat heater that brings out the best elements of disco and house in perfect synergy. "The Way U Move" is a dreamier affair with more overt funk stylings and a subtly cosmic tint to the keys - one to get starry eyed and sway to.
Review: Barefoot Beats is a series of EPs released on Mareh Music, a record label based in Sao Paulo whose people are also the curators of the Mareh music festival in Boipeba - a remote island in Bahia. For their label's ninth edition, Rio de Janeiro's Joutro Mundo (Midnight Riot/Outra) delivers an edit of a lovely neon-lit boogie down number on "Revele", while on the flip the man from New York City Jkriv (Razor-N-Tape) gets a deep, soulful and life-affirming number into the mix with "Povo De Zambi".