Thursday, 08 September 2011
Two year since assisting the birth of the "chillwave" subset with debut 'Psychic Chasms - a 2009 end-of-year favourite from NME to Picthfork - Alan Palermo presents his second Neon Indian album. To assist the writing process he sequestered himself in Finland during the winter solstice months of 2010/11, and returned with a finely layered collision of shoegaze, electro-pop and chiptune memes which were tenderly masticated by producer Dave Fridmann (Flaming Lips, MGMT) and spat out as a chrome coloured bubblegum of ultra-modern, retro-fetishitic pop. Palermo sums up the forlorn mood of the album … Read more
Chaz Bundick is back with a new EP, apparently written and recorded in double-quick time earlier this year, that showcases the most luminscent pop side of his sound. In the main the tracks subscribe to a neat boogie template, replete with squeeling P-funk synths, elastic bass and syn-drums equally evocative of Scritti Politti and Wacko; things get most interesting on the title track, a ruthlessly catchy, plasticized new wave number rendered eerie by an extra dose of reverb and echo FX, but then our boy is actually pretty mad for the filters throughout, making 'Sweet' sound like Hall & Oates if … Read more
*Glitter-embossed cover* Emerging from a haze of hype circulated by Altered Zones and Ariel Pink, among many others, the Kaplan sisters deliver one of this year's finest dream-pop delicacies. Since debuting in 2009, Piper and Skylar have changed name from Pearl Harbor to Puro Instinct and added a few new bandmates, but still retained that tender blend of misty-eyed Ruski pop and West Coast cool which gathered them such momentum in the first place. Like a much more smudged version of label mates Ford & Lopatin, 'Headbangers In Ecstasy' transports us to a parallel late '80s simulacra… Read more
After stealing our hearts with their 2010 debut on Digitalis, Roll The Dice have signed to Leaf for their sophomore LP, a richly emotive and highly personal collection of analogue synth instrumentals. As even RTD's most ardent fans would corroborate, thus far out-and-out innovation hasn't been at the top of the agenda; their extraordinary first album was created firmly and lovingly within a tradition, namely that 20th century canon of cyclical, contemplative Kraut electronics headed up by Kraftwerk, Cluster, Schnitzler, Tangerine Dream et al (und alles?). The new album is more expansive. For a st… Read more
Highly anticipated fourth album from the much-loved dons of New York indie-disco. 'In The Grace Of Your Love' is an overdue return from the trio, five years on from 'Pieces Of The People We Love', and their recent single aside, at least four years since any other new material. It's been time well spent, evidently, resulting in a body of instantly pop sharp and dancefloor-rousing anthems, from the festival-ready pogo of 'Sail Away', to the glam-punky thrust of 'Blue Bird', an odd but successful sidestep into Balkan House on 'Come Back To Me', to the Beirut-reminiscent 'Roller Coaster', and the jerky wave-funk of 'Can You Find A Way'.
German duo Tarwater have been cultivating their oddball sound - somewhere between skew-whiff electro-pop and plangent post-rock experimentation - for more than 15 years, and for those who've been keeping an eye on 'em during this time, their evolution has been really impressive. Inside The Ships - something like their tenth album - finds them at the top of their game, their synthesis of guitar, electronic pulsation and pastorally psyched-out, swinging chamber instrumentation at times coming over like a hypothetical hook-up between Alan Vega, Robert Wyatt and Gong. There really are some beauti… Read more
For the last instalment in their Circa series (all limited to 300 copies), Preservation capture the debut collaboration from astral traveller Justin Wright (Expo 70) and electro-acoustic explorer Aaron Martin. Both musicians have established illustrious, singular catalogues of electronic music with quite varying approaches, but consolidate a common ground on 'Light Poured Out Of Our Bones', realising an epically deserted, widescreen psychedelia as potently transcendent as anything they've done individually. We embark the journey with the out-of-body witness of '… Read more
Iceage are a young bunch of Danish punk heroes who've just made one of the best punk albums of recent years. 'New Brigade' has found fans with a largely younger generation of punk fans and find themselves lined up alongside the likes of Fucked Up and No Age, playing a hi-octane hybrid of original '76 snot-and-blood punk with twinges of '80s American hardcore. Their live shows are reported to be pretty f*cking vicious affairs where young fans are notoriously described as "victims" and you can imagine the energy transferred from songs such as the rousing 'White Runes' or 'Broken Bone', and the effect … Read more
Raw but focussed, searching psychedelia from two beautifully attuned producers on Thrill Jockey. They first met as participants of NNF's Neon Commune festival in 2007, a label with whom they both share a great affinity, working deeper into those mutual similarities through four tracks oscillating between head-lolling ambient psych and more motorik krautrock. The Dub influence of Sun Araw is largely left at home in favour of a more linear lean, growing from swirling organ and guitar in 'Night Gallery I' to tentatively find a more percussive groove, so you're stomping by 'II', clawing at the sky by 'III' and on a dizzily slow descent by the epic conclusion of 'IV'.
Part of the Circa series (limited editions of 300 copies) is the second album from Nikolas Mohanna under his birth name after years of recording as Vakhchav. 'Reflectors' draws upon the rich sensory experience of living in the complex sprawl of New York, and his time studying with noted improvisor and sampling maverick Bob Ostertag, to create dense, dynamic and detailed electronic environments with a certain sense of sci-fi wonder. We can hear this in the quality of shifting layers in 'Neon Agents', which disperse and diffuse as through we're hovering through a misty alley in the sub-levels… Read more
Secret Name' was Low's full-length debut on Kranky, recorded by the Godlike Steve Albini, it slipped out after the glorious 'Songs for a Dead Pilot EP' and continues many of the themes they would later make their trademark. They tell me Low invented slowcore... well I can handle that, certainly on this 1999 album they were slower than any other band I can remember at the time, the thing is that they make it so damn inviting. I don't think there's another band who can make such obscenely depressing songs sound so beautiful, so damaged and so addictive. There's a bit of a fad at the moment fo… Read more
Pat Gubler's been pedaling his softly-spoken folk rock for long enough to call him a 'veteran' at this point, and 'Starry Mind' is exactly what you'd hope from someone who doesn't have to resort to dropping R Kelly references to get column inches. He might not be injecting anything particularly new into his songs, but there are few solo artists who do a better job of capturing the golden age of Neil Young and Van Morrisson (even Mr Young himself...) than P.G. Six. Gubler's songs chug when they need to chug and jangle themselves through fresh wet autumnal air - you'd almost think the early autumn re… Read more
Coming across like a weird hybrid of Dirty Projectors, Tom Waits and Susanna and the Magical Orchestra (really), ‘Strange Mercy’ is the third full-length from St. Vincent (aka Annie Clark). It certainly wasn’t what I was expecting either, with the critical (and most likely commercial, although I don’t have numbers in hand…) success of ‘Actor’, I wrongly assumed that Clark would ditch all her avant leanings in favour of some kind of post-Feist Levis fest, and that’s not even close to what we have on ‘Strange Mercy’. Rather Clark has honed her songwriting skills and allowed her imagination to ru… Read more
I probably shouldn't let myself go on about Low so much but they are one of those rare bands that never fail to impress me. 'Things We Lost in the Fire' is for most people Low's finest moment and on its release in 2001 was universally praised by critics for finally nailing what the band had been hinting at for so long. The album had fused the minimal experimentalism of 'Songs for a Dead Pilot' and the poppish flourishes of their early albums yet kept Alan Sparhawk's distinctive slow-core vision intact, leaving them with a coherent collection of accessible yet deeply personal a… Read more
Thursday, 01 September 2011
Brilliant retrospective covering the foundational East-West Psyche Rock and Folk fusions of Turkish legend, Erkin Koray. An iconic guitar player and ultimately the father of Turkish rock music - he formed the country's first rock 'n roll group in 1957 - Erkin would later find inspiration from the folk music of Turkey's Anatolian interior, and began mixing these styles with elements of Egyptian and Lebanese music to hatch an unprecedented and unorthodox style known as the Arabesque movement. Erkin would essentially lay the groundwork for artists such as Finders Keepers favourites Ba… Read more
Following essential reissues of 'Zug' and 'Ballet Statique', the latest Conrad Schnitzler album from M=Minimal is in fact produced by contemporary kosmische duo Borngraber & Struever, using sounds culled from the 74-year-old's vast tape library, which contains recordings of synthesizer experiments going back 40 years. As anyone who's heard Ballet Statique or any other Con classics will know, his music sounds as futuristic now as it did back in the 70s - any misguided attempt to "modernise" it would ironically result only in the creation of something dated. Credit to B&S… Read more
Now available on CD for the first time... Editions Mego's Spectrum Spools offshoot, curated by Emeralds' John Elliott, has brought us some right gems to date, but none hit the spot quite like Bee Mask's Canzoni Dal Laboratorio Del Silenzio Cosmico. Good folk that they are, the Spools are treating us to another album from the elusive American artist mere months later, and a double-LP at that. It's actually a selection of tracks culled from limited cassettes and CD-Rs released over 2003-10, personally chosen, "reimagined, reedited and remastered" by the artist himself, and, much like Mego… Read more
Thundercat is on the move, Thundercat is loose....etc. Seriously though, you can feel the magic and the roar on this debut full-length from LA's Stephen Bruner, hitherto best known for playing bass on records by Flying Lotus, Sa-Ra Creative Partners and Erykah Badu. It's on FlyLo's Brainfeeder that The Golden Age Of Apocalypse appears, and we have to say it's one of the more convincing and original-sounding of the label's glut of recent releases. Listening to Thundercat's future-soul grooves, at first you could be forgiven for thinking you're in a trendy West London boozer circa… Read more
The dreamily ecstatic vocal intoning "Something special, something pure" on Kolombo's opening salvo 'Waiting For' succinctly sums Kompakt's aesthetic on the label's 12th annual compilation. This year the line-up looks reassuringly familiar; with contributions from Superpitcher, Michael Mayer, Gui Boratto, Matias Aguayo, Wolfgang and Reinhard Voigt, but that's certainly not to its detriment. In fact the opposite is true. They're maybe not quite as unique in the field with so many copycat labels established over the last decade, but they're still distinguished and continuing to reap healthy crop… Read more
"Sóley returns with her first full-length, an album full of rhythmic makeshift creatures, of handclaps hidden in the undergrowth, tempting us to join in. The 13 tracks are sometimes incredibly catchy; amazingly quirky at other times: think cardigan-folk from the northern hemisphere, an ocean of stained glasses bopping up and down in the shared apartment's dishwater, leeward in limbo. The result is refreshing in its lack of edginess; think Joanna Newsom minus her harp, or the Casady sisters circa 2004, but then clearly better trained, less crooked. In other words: her voice, those loops moving around like… Read more
Thursday, 25 August 2011
*Now available on CD for the very first time* For the fourth release on Spectrum Spools, the label he operates in partnership with Editions Mego, John Elliott himself steps up to the plate with his old mucker Sam Goldberg (Radio People). Formed as recently as 2009, the duo have already advanced and honed their sound across two LPs and two cassette releases, so this latest really feels like the culmination of all they've learned. Together they conjure gleaming utopian vistas initially too bright and detailed to fully take in: building inexorably to a heart-bursting climax… Read more
Sinister, lo-fi wave witchcraft from the Robot Elephant camp. Cheap synths, busted R&B rhythms and darkside trance vibes overflow the cup, hitting some highlights on the bedroom float of 'Low', the Salem-do-industrial-Soca vibes of 'ADHD' and the face-chewing screw of 'Trance Dimension'. RIYL Mater Suspiria Vision, Salem, Glass Popcorn, Araabmuzik, or spending long nights on youtube with 10 gallon buckets of gatorade and a bag of plant food.
Zach Condon returns in fine style with his most accomplished set of songs to date. His third album has been some four years in the making, or at least it's been that long since 'The Flying Club Cup' LP, but it's not like he's been totally a.w.o.l; we still heard from him now and again on postcard-perfect singles like 'Elephant Gun' and the still memorable 'March Of The Zapotec' EP in 2009, and when the first 'Riptide' single 'East Harlem / Goshen' landed on our doormat earlier this year, it was a sure sign that this album would be special. His songwriting has settled down from wide-… Read more
*Limited edition cloth bound / foil stamped book style CD version* Zach Condon returns in fine style with his most accomplished set of songs to date. His third album has been some four years in the making, or at least it's been that long since 'The Flying Club Cup' LP, but it's not like he's been totally a.w.o.l; we still heard from him now and again on postcard-perfect singles like 'Elephant Gun' and the still memorable 'March Of The Zapotec' EP in 2009, and when the first 'Riptide' single 'East Harlem / Goshen' landed on our doormat earlier this year, it was a sure sign that this … Read more
*Much anticipated album from the elusive Balam Acab for the Tri Angle label* Following last year's extraordinary See Birds EP - a record that has inspired legion imitators but to our knowledge no credible equals - Balam serves up his debut full-length proper on Tri Angle. From opening track 'Welcome' on in, you know you're in good hands: disembodied vocal fragments swirl like ghosts around the chambers of a sunken galleon before a sudden loop of life-affirming strings bursts brightly and alters your perspective. The American artist's brilliance lies in his ability to coax an almost liturgical … Read more
**Debut album from Captured Tracks' psyche-pop outfit. Includes the haunting 'Harsh Realm' from their debut single, and the atmospheric swoon of 'Gun Shy' ripe for fans of Mazzy Star or Cat Power.** "The album, recorded at Rear House with Jarvis Taveniere of Woods, documents Widowspeak's inaugural year. In a relaxed studio setting songs born from those first jittery practices could breathe. The trio expanded their modest instrumentation while retaining a sparse aesthetic. The resulting record offers an eerie ambience, at times channeling 1950's jukebox pop, at others, 1960's psychedelia. While ga… Read more
Thursday, 18 August 2011
**Double CD edition in a book-style sleeve with 52-page colour booklet penned by Kourosh himself, plus rare photos and ephemera from the Iranian '70s rock scene. All music remastered from original tapes. Phew!** "Now-Again Records is proud to present Back From The Brink, the only legitimately licensed collection of the godfather of Iranian psychedelic rock, Kourosh Yaghmaei. Known within the Iranian diaspora simply by his first name, Kourosh's Pre-Revolution recordings were though lost after Islamic fundamentalists took control of Iran. They weren't: Kourosh had protected them - al… Read more
Classic selection of Augustus Pablo dubs, faithfully reissued right down to the misspelling of his name on the front cover! The legendary melodica-maestro is featured here on the organ with a supporting cast of Sly & Robbie on drums & bass, Bingy Bunny 'pon rhythm guitar, Sticky on percussion and Melodic Gladdy (wicked name!) on piano. As the title tells us, there's an African theme at its core, from the referential track titles such as 'Dub In Ethiopia' and 'Nigerian Dub Love' to 'Dubbing In Africa' to the sweeter guitar licks and the generally lighter-headed, sun-soaked charm of Pablo's spiritual, intuitive playing.
King Jammy was one of the dominant, and some may say most influential figures of the '80s digital dancehall era. 'Selectors Choice Vol.1' is a fairly definitive 4CD collection of killer productions from his Jammy's label, counting a whopping 79 tracks total and some of the biggest cuts of the digital era. Riddims include 'Sleng Teng', 'Tempo', 'Darker Shade', and 'Stalag' among others, and a wealth of vocalists such as Sugar Minott, Johnny Osborne, Nitty Gritty, Dennis Brown, Cocoa Tea, Echo Minott, Nicodemus, and many, many more! BIG!
Massive, 80-track, 4-disc boxset of later Jammy's productions spanning many classics of the digital dancehall era. It's hard to overstate the importance and influence of this era on so many forms of contemporary dancefloor music, especially in rooted UK styles like D&B/Jungle and Dubstep, so this is a bit of a goldmine for the natty digital diggers. Includes standards such as Admiral Bailey's national anthem 'Jump Up' and 'Kill The With It', plus Tiger's 'Bam Bam', Shabba Ranks' 'Get Up Stand Up & Rock', and so much more from Chaka Demus, Horace Andy, Pinchers, Dean Fraser, Frankie Paul, Admiral Tibet, and the list goes on and on! BIG!