Tuesday, 21 May
This week's selection sways from wistful drone pop to gauzy ambient and modern compositions; collecting 14 songs with an elemental, folksy awareness which share a rarified, surreal atmosphere. We've picked those with a timeless sense of romance and an elegant, breezy feel for space, spanning the work of preternaturally gifted vocalists such as Liz Harris aka Grouper, Turkey's Ekin Fil and L.A. nightingale Julia Holter, and boundary-pushing experimenters AGF or Chaines, plus gorgeous, chamber-like pieces from Loren Connors, Lee Noble, and Dirty Beaches alongside the wides… Read more
Monday, 20 May
Pearson Sound shares four lean, moody and experimental riddims on his eponymous imprint. Up front he unleashes the strafing, darkside synthlines and fractured steppers flux of 'REM' and a daedly body swerve entitled 'Gridlock' laced with proper subbass pressure and almost Anthony Shakir-style percussive edits. Down town, 'Figment' figures Mr. Kennedy at his most reflective, jettisoning the beats in place of Popol Vuh-style chorales and piquant synth sparkle, and almost acting as an intro for the rugged, filtered 'ardcore tessellations of 'Crimson (Beat Ritual). Really strong twelve...
Delta Funktionen returns to Delsin for the first time since last year’s Traces LP, supported with a remix from the increasingly ubiquitous Karenn. A side ‘Sun Storm’ is solid DJ gear attempting to reconcile the intimate, sweaty basement jack of Larry H’s ‘Washing Machine’ with big-room techno dynamics, while the other Delta original, ‘Challenger’, is moody, night-drive-thru-atlantis electro that nods to Drexciya’s Grava 4. Blawan and Pariah do their Karenn thing on ‘Onkalo’, a properly rough-and-tumble, heavy-industry techno banger that can’t really be argued with - it’s at once their grottiest, most degraded production to date, and the hardest-hitting.
Yes Fit!!! One of Detroit's most exciting current imprints pulls up three deeply Afro-futurist grooves from Howard Thomas aka H-Fusion. The keen-eared jocks and D-heads might well remember Howard's 'Experiment #1' 12" released on Sound Signature back in 2005, surely one of the strangest, most compelling records to emerge from the motor city of the last decade. Well, it's was no fluke, and Howard's not easing up on the oddness here, playing relatively straight yet sickeningly hypnotic groove 'Wicked Bitch Witch' with Marcellus Pittman on the A-side, before really cutting loose with the noisy,… Read more
Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti have spent the last couple of years absorbed in collaboration (chiefly with Nik Void in Carter Tutti Void) and laying the body/ghost of Throbbing Gristle to rest, so it’s really good to have them back functioning as a self-contained duo, the well-practiced configuration that’s yielded so much distinctive and prophetic material in the past. ‘Coolicon-A’ is brilliant, a dense, Fourth World technoscape that reminds us of late Clock DVA and early 90s, heatsick cyberfunk offerings from Richard H Kirk, Dean Dennis, et al, but rendered in a more sophisticated, in… Read more
Legendary house bod, Herr Flügel gets loose and freaky on two tracky, Chicago-style jams. Up top, 'Even More' carves out a stripped-down and bumpy swing from natty organ hook, silvery cowbells and early Relief-style bass bang, but if you've got a party to fuel look no further than the incredibly pendulous B-side 'More & More & More' for an irresistible combination of infectious vocal, daft melody and booty-churning bass. Sounds like he had a lotta fun making these!
Clone's West Coast Series take a deep breath and dive deep with Boris Bunnik (Conforce) on his debut LP of icy electro as Versalife. Dues are paid to classic Drexciya with proper Water Men finesse, reflecting the landscapes of his below-sea level home in Friesland, Holland over eleven immersive cuts of hydrodynamic machine groove awash with fluid synth strokes and pumping bass. The overall effect is coldly stoic but very emotional at the same time, reaching into a deep sunk unknown where the light rarely penetrates. Gorgeous stuff, recommended to all aquanaut adventurers.
It makes sense that Mark Ernestus's investigations into the grain and grammar of rhythm have led him to Senegal - where Mbalax, an ecstatic fusion of Western music styles and traditional Senegalese drum music (sabar), has been flourishing since the 1970s. Hard-grooving, hypnotic, fiendishly swung - and with an instrumental palette comprised largely of talking-drums and sequencer-like marimba synths - it's easy to understand why it appeals to both the technical and intuitive sides of the Basic Channel/Rhythm & Sound don's brain, whose burgeoning interest in Africa … Read more
Various Production twyst-up with future junglist torque on this one-off bomb. Flighty quick-step rhythms are subject to a tonne of high pressure atmospheric disturbance, churning up far-away chants, disembodied duppies and splintered breakbeats in its cyclonic force. We never know where Various are going next, but we always wanna go there. Tipped!
The second in Touch's vinyl/DL-only series of archival editions spirits us back to 1985 and a live set played by the Walo Shatan Gwari ensemble. A recording of the performance - which took place as part of the African Music Village event at the Commonwealth Institute in Holland Park, London - was released under the name Drumming For Creation on cassette by Touch in '85, and 28 years later it's lost none of its lustre, as the ensemble (led by Malam Walo, and hailing from an agricultural region of Northeastern Nigeria) tear through its hypnotic, cyclical, powerful drum-songs… Read more
**Includes a bonus track** Mindset come with three lean and funky tech-house trax by Goldffinch. Stealthily evolving the styles heard on his Numbers and Audio Culture aces, the Belgian producer squares the tightly tucked, swinging and rolling torque of 'Digital Dysfunction' on the A-side, and gets down to a tuffer techno style almost reminding of Marcel Fengler with the concatenated drive and late night pads of 'Pixel Perfect', while '828' delivers a payload of pendulous subbass swing and minimal percussion reminding of Wolfgang Voigt's Studio One classics.
Basement ready house gear from George Fitzgerald for his spiritual home, Hotflush. Both sides are built to move; 'Thinking Of You' following a trancey/dubstep-y course of builds and drops with a chunky tech-house palette; 'Nighttide Lover' working with whirring, bubbling, swinging drums for the shape cutters.
Following last year's one-off hook-up with Blackest Ever Black, which showcased storming versions from Regis and Monoton, Desire Records go it alone on their second volume of Ike Yard remixes. Tropic of Cancer get top billing with their take on the NY post-punk minimalists' 'Half A God': they offer up a cold-to-the-touch, marbled slab of sepulchral, introspective dub, Camella Lobo's phantasmal vocal presence and reverbed guitar beckoning you into a colour-bled zwischenwelt; deadly sparse and unforgiving, at times it sounds like it could be a lost instrumental sketch from Han… Read more
Amazing return from Alex Zhang Hungtai's Dirty Beaches; a sprawling double header opus of labyrinthine darkwave pop, knackered electronics and chamber experiments. We're usually impressed by his work but this one is really something else, feeding forward the traces of dilapidated rockabilly, blues and garage that informed his brilliant 'Badlands' into a deeply captivating new sound more akin to Suicide, Andy Stott or Loren Connors. Crafted over the course of winter 2012 while living between Montreal and Berlin, it's leaden with heartbreaking gravity and existential self-r… Read more
Mike Paradinas, boss of the sprawling Planet Mu imprint, does what he does best with his first new µ-Ziq material in over half a decade. 'XTEP' is flush with the sort of nostalgic melody, rave romance and charm that endeared him to so many in the first place. It's an unashamed return to his roots, from the bubbling pastoral melody and proggy chimes of 'XT' to the happy-as-larry piano house of 'Ritm' and 'Pulsar''s nEuro-electro futurism, while the footwork-style drum flux and swooning, emotional melody of 'Monj2' and the bluer swing of 'New Bimple' concede to current trends but not at the expense of his integrity.
Infectious Afro-futuristix from the inimitable Portable, backed with Anthony Shakir and Kowton remixes. His original 'Albatross' is a deadly lesson to all the blandbag house swingers in the art of getting the f**k down, dealing the maddest mechanical kinks and zipping electronics topped with those ever intriguing vocals , no drops, no daft detuned vocals, just proper, hi-tech funk. Equally Kowton gets the vibe, tucking its tetchy itchiness into pressurised subs and rhythmelodic patter with a grimy, bittersweet flavour. And who better to complement that feeling than Anthony Shakir with his manic, banging B-side remix. 'Madmen' indeed!
Visionary DJ/selector and sonic theorist Steve Goodman aka Kode 9 mans what is inarguably Rinse's most crucial mix CD to date. With mercurial sleight of hand he blends 37 tracks spanning the rhizome of techy, contemporary, bass-rooted funk and leaves most other selectors for dust. Bridging tempos, styles and patterns from myriad sub-strains of house, garage, hip hop, grime and footwork, he sums his intentions thusly; "This style has emerged out of me trying to fit all the stuff I want to play in a set… Generally these sets start relatively simple rhythmically and then get more f*cked-up as the mi… Read more
Raffertie's reinvention as a future soul boy is complete with the Mary Anne Hobbs-championed 'Build Me Up' EP. Stepping further from rave styles, he alloys blue-eyed soul croon with more subtle R&B/electro dynamics in 'Build Me Up' and a cover of Hot Natured + Ali Love's summer anthem 'Benediction', beside a warbling organ and vocal duet with YADi, 'Trust', and the Tri Angle-ready gloom of 'Known'. RIYl oOoOO, HTDW, Jamie Lidell.
Black Acre follow up their issue of Memotone's debut album with this RSD exclusive. Industrial percussions clank, cloaked by gloomiest atmospheres and dread dubbing on 'A-side, 'Koma', and 'Goldair' offers throbbing bass pulses toiling below aerated samples with hints of Senufo Editions or The Caretaker releases.
Nancy Elizabeth returns with a graceful third album that isn't afraid of its own intelligence. Opener ‘The Last Battle’ is indicative of the Manchester-based talent's present ambition, her voice multi-tracked into a dramatic, Morricone-style chorus, the sighing strings and vibrato guitar underlining that spag-western vibe and also nodding to the mariachi-flavoured psych of Love’s ‘Alone Again Or’. ‘Heart’ sounds like a less fragile Julia Holter, precious vocal harmonies and subtle synth zaps orbiting an almost new jack swing-style rhythm, but Elizabeth doesn’t settle into a predictable pa… Read more
*An Omar S co-production* Proper head jamming gear from Theo Parrish unleashing one of the most exciting Soul Signature tracks in years on the amazing 'Space Station' backed with a typical Theo soul cut on 'Going Through Changes'. So a little close attention reveals that the mind melting A-side is actually produced in conjunction with Omar-S, who is credited with "Sound Selection Arrangement & Engineering", with the "Written & Produced by" credits going to Theo. It's basically a proper club stunner, riding in with a scene setting intro before deploying a restlessl… Read more
The Fabric Live mix series reach it’s 69th episode with a dumb-and-proud rinse-out from Theo Keating, aka Fake Blood, aka big beat survivor DJ Touche. Buzzsaw electrohouse, impertinent fidget and route 1 techno are the order of the day, and for a certain type of big room raver, it’ll push all the right buttons. It’s a no-frills ‘n cheap thrills approach Keating adopts, sometimes vaulting gleefully over the line that divides DJ-as-entertainer and DJ-as-clown, but he does it with a flair and technical skill that most peddlers of similarly lurid tackle couldn’t hold a candle to; … Read more
Dave Clarke unveils his first original _Unsubscribe_ production alongside new studio spar, Mr. Jones, for Fabric's Houndstooth label. 'Spek Hondje' is a posh pounder par excellence, refitting the uncompromising, stripped down structures of Clarke's classic Red series with a refreshed production palette of digital studio ghouls and the gutter-steeped vocal of Bear Who? to gripping effect. Both the growling, vocal-driven original and B-side instrumental deliver exactly the sort of ruthless, peak time-intensive energy transfer we'd expect at Fabric come 4am, designed to trigger all kinda primal, nocturnal behaviours without a whiff of regret. Welcome back Mr. Clarke.
Ninja Tune's chill-out sophisticate Bonobo branches out with a pair of vocal collaborations underpinned by undemanding beats and lush-going-on-mawkish string arrangements. Inexplicably, Erykah Badu gets only second billing, with Grey Reverend taking the mic for competently executed but ultimately generic lead track 'First Fires'. The Badu-led 'Heaven The Sinner' is far classier and more absorbing, a piece of smoky, smartly turned-out future-soul with an elegant, jazzy sway to it; here the lavish orchestration feels earned. Recommended if you're into Bonobo (obviously), Jazzanova, Jaga Jazzist or Cinematic Orchestra.
Tenderised torch song backed with Ghosting Season and Flako remixes. 'Youthern' is heartbroken folksoul in the mould of James Blake - whom they recently supported on tour - and 'Hammerspace' weeps Forest Swords-style guitars and over-egged vocals on a dubstep rhythm. Ghosting Season join in with a post-rock-styled, bass-heavy remix of 'Youthern' while Flako tackles the original with a delicately bleepy variant.
Koreless returns with his first proper offering of 2013, an EP on Young Turks. Less club-focussed than last year's 12" on Jacques Greene's Vase, the Glaswegian seems determined here to prove there's more to him than nicing up the dance. There are certainly some good moments: opener 'Ivana' affects a nice Vangelis synth-glide but is compromised a little by its glottal, percussive vocal edits, which persist on into 'Sun', another trancey, string-led number which, despite a dressing of sub-footwork drum patter, is effectively beatless. On the EP goes, laying the stargazing synths on thick, never quit… Read more
Still operating incognito, Adesse follows up his edits 12" with a sterling trio of house and dope slow/fast grooves for Trus'me's Prime Numbers. A-side, 'Untitled Love' is a pendulous tech-house ace with some seriously canny swing synch that could only be the work of someone with lots of experience in this field. B-side, better yet, his slowfast roller 'Supernal' is quite possibly the best thing on Prime Numbers to date; a rugged-as-hell yet somehow delicate piece of low sunk subs and mosquito hi-hats with a hypnotic vocal stab that's got us bouncing the hydraulics on my office chair. Ret… Read more
**Upfront exclusive** Tomas More's woozy, abstract fusion of Badalamenti-esque pads and opiated groove, 'Break O Dawn' is served with two frayed and psychedelic remixes by Madteo. His 'Meglio Subito Che Mai Mix' stumbles and sputters around the groove, constantly in stereo flux and barely standing but still buoyed with bumping bass hits. His 'A Dawn Cracker Fascion House Mix' is more blunted yet, practically forgetting the groove and rambling off into smoked-out head zones.
Speedy J and Stroboscopic Artefacts' Lucy debut their Zeitgeber (German for "synchroniser") collaboration with two scuffed and craftily experimental rollers. 'Body Out' tucks a crumpled groove of offset bass hits and spidery hi-hats below elemental, droning synth dissonance and barely tamed noise disturbances, marking their most freeform and psychedelically engaging work.'Body In' doesn't even bother with a rhythm, falling deep into an abyss of metaphysical noise and shimmering, church like harmonics.
Spatial powers up four gritty garagehouse bangers for WNCL. From the top, the technoid funk of 'Set Apart' deploys much more noise and distortion than we're used to, and it's all the better for it, coming off like Pepe Bradock meets Marcus Nasty and setting a precedent that runs thru the EP from 'Lost''s radgy, up-all-night warehouse shunt to the filter-disco-gone-grime vibes of 'Right Now' and the 'floor-grinding rave extremity of 'Syn Cop'. RIYL Analogue Cops, Blawan, EDMX…