Thursday, 23 May
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.
A tuff trio of weaponised jackers from the Aztec Mystic, who appears on Berlin's Ostgut-Ton for the first time since 2011's sound 5 To 9 EP. 'D&N's' teams splashy Detroit synths and a warm, hyperactive UR-style bassline with robust drums deployed at stentorian house tempo; it's a dead simple track really, but skilfully executed by a man of unquestionable pedigree. 'We Will' is is a livelier, min-to-max techno tool with an abundance of funk squeezed into its stomping gym-bunny physique, and you can imagine it being deployed mercilessly by the Berghain boys. But when it comes to the crunch, it's all a… Read more
Gorgeous solo follow-up to the heart-rendingly Grouper-esque 'Horrorism' from LA's lonely soul, Lee Noble. With 'Ruiner' Lee shows that's he's really toned his pop songwriting flex with nine sensitive, slow and yet nimbly arranged tunes. We might still struggle to make out what's he's saying, but the sentiment comes across stronger than ever as the glossolalic yearn of 'December ∞' has similar impact you might imagine from Thom Yorke with acute SAD, and 'Rewilding' could be a mid-op Julianna Barwick crooning to herself in the bathroom before undergoing surgery. But Lee's voice isn't the only big att… Read more
'No Becoming' documents Lee Noble on the cusp of morphing from more drone-based composition to atmospheric, avant-pop arrangements. Originally issued in 2010, prior to his 'Horrorism' LP and the wonderful 'Ruiner', both also for Bathetic Records, it feels almost caught between worlds, tugged into orbit by freeform noise and kosmiche tendencies, while at efforts to stay grounded by imposing more rigourous compositional techniques. In some ways it parallels Julia Holter's development from avant-garde to pop, both in its dreamy aesthetic and bedroom fidelity, but while Holter's songs always felt c… Read more
Tropics presents his sensitive pop-soul ecologies on London's burgeoning Five Easy Pieces imprint. Sweeter than his previous for Svetlana Industries, 'Home And Consonance' glydes in on a bed of chiming melodies and rustling jazz-funky drums smudged deep in the mix, before he links in duet with the equally effete vocals of Gavin Turek on the femme-friendly late night boogie soul of 'Courage'. Sustaining that velvety atmosphere, 'Don't You Know' strokes in some tidy rhodes and lowlit jazz drums and 'Fleeting Haunt' rides into the sunset/dawn with a cotton-headed soul buzz on.
Coki goes on a grimy tip with MC Blacks for the 2nd drop on his Don't Get It Twisted label. While his riddims have been vocalled plenty of times, as far as we can tell 'Hold On Wait' is officially Coki's first tune featuring an MC, and ultimately a successful fusion of aggy chat and radioactive, road-burning bass madness. B-side 'Bedouin' keeps the energy levels red-lining with dramatic intro and a ruthless slew of gut-punching, spine-slashing bass rollige and sawtooth synth pressure.
Loefah's School label cuts to the 'floor with two buff-but-rugged swingers by Manchester's Paleman. With measuredly restrained and efficient production values the 19-year old juices optimal swing from woody snares and fat round bass hits and not a lot else, leaving loads of room for dancers to carve up or tuck into their groove. A-side 'Half Out' steps and rolls with that fine balance of nonchalant swagger and insistent, get-down gorilla swing, whereas 'Chapel' wears a more upfront and menacing tribalist tech vibe with its dread subs and sheer, cyber-dubbed sound design.
Sterling debut stirrings from the Memories On Wax imprint courtesy of Downbeat's Jose Rico and his Chicago bro, Andres Ordonez aka Specter. Keeping the tempo gauge ticking no higher than 110bpm, Rico and Ordonez play out four tracks of stoned, serpentine slow house pushed by viscous bass and tempered with psychedelic deep house detail. A-side features the woozy chug and wheezy modulations of an 'Empty Wallet' and the debonaire, Claro Intellecto-styled square bass romance of 'We Live This Life'; B-side enters stranger sci-fi headspace with the rugged bump, orbiting synthlines … Read more
*RIYL: Stumbleine, Burial, Synkro, El-B, Phaeleh, Scuba, Kahn, Swarms, Clubroot… * "Dreamstone’ is the debut long-player from UK producer Sorrow. True to his moniker, Sorrow’s music has an underlying current of melancholy, with mournful strings and piano and ghostly vocals, but he balances the mood with beats and a wonky sense of humour that emerges unexpectedly here and there. In ‘Dreamstone’, the strings and languid zig-zag beats of ‘Embrace’ flow into the Bossa Nova lounge of ‘Maelys’, which in turn yields to the darker, more experimental tones of ‘Supernova’…"
**Includes digital download code redeemable from the label** "Sean Nicholas Savage is a gifted narrator, driven by his own melodic and emotional odysseys. A fixture of the Montreal music scene, Savage expresses both the strength and fragility of the human experience. In his writing, Sean has the keen ability to articulate the intricate emotions of everyday life and romance with a measure of specificity and maturity uncommon to most singer-songwriters. This is a collection of deep and personal songs, which showcases a focused, darker side not seen on his previous titles. Welcome to Savage's Other Life."
Stimming, Sleepers, Netik and Torb give dramatic dancefloor remixes to 'Kyrie' by Francesco Tristano and co's Aufgang trio. Netik mixes Ed Banger-style electro and dubstep with a mannered swing; Stimming affords a classy triplet tech-house mix making use of the original's operatic elements; Sleepers Work hear it as a muggy downtempo chug with somnolent pads and sparse dubbing; Torb gives an energy boosting Italo-esque mix with hints of classic Goblin.
**2013 Deluxe Reissue - Expanded with demos unearthed from a box in Damien's basement. Comes with a download code redeemable from the label** Damien jurado is the sort of songwriter who straddles rock’s past and future, and with each record contributes a new chapter to an ever fruitful body of work This is his fifth ful length, his first for the burgeoning secretly canadian label, and is a beautiful collection of ten raymond carver-esque vignettes of terror and bliss in middle america. Mostly acoustic with sparse band arrangements, Jurado puts the darker, more complicated side of the heartland back on the map. Check.
**Includes digital download code redeemable from the label** "Majical Cloudz is the voice of Montreal songwriter Devon Welsh, exploring the negative space within electronic music, using his powerful vocals to say “no” to the infinite possibilities digital instruments provide and instead choosing to focus his attention inwardly. Joined by Matthew Otto to collaboratively produce and perform his songs, the 2012 debut album ‘II’ and the ‘Turns Turns Turns’ EP released on Arbutus / Merok in December gained praise for their simplicity and honestly. Now, ‘Impersonator’ brings Welsh’s songs int… Read more
Fifth album of post-lapsarian lullabies from Cocorosie's wyrd sisters, and it's by some distance their most labyrinthine and fully-realised work, benefiting from collaboration with Icelandic composer Valgeir Sigurðsson. The sound is a pert, punchy mix of electronic and acoustic elements, at times recalling Joanna Newsom, early Knife or Post-era Bjork - right down to Bianca's faux-naive vocals. Antony Hegarty's unmistakeable vibrato illuminates 'Tears For Animals', and regular CocoRosie sideman Tez supplies synthetic rhythms throughout - giving even a downcast piano ballad like 'Harml… Read more
*Vinyl includes a copy of the CD free inside. This is the first ever retrospective of fabled band Rodion G.A., one of Romania’s best kept musical secrets of the last 30 years* "As a band, Rodion G.A. were a unique phenomenon in their homeland, operating in their own universe during a prolific period of recording from 1978 to 1984 at a time of significant political repression under the Ceausescu regime. Bandleader, Rodion Ladislau Rosca, was an enigma. As half-Hungarian, half-Romanian, he lived near the border in Cluj, a city with a healthy music culture which had spawned important prog rock… Read more
Lean and supple groovers from the top dog of American tech-house. The follow-up to his widely acclaimed 'The Predicting Machine' offers up the slinky, slightly sleazy swing and piquant modular synth tweaks of 'Somewhere' on the A-face and the ruggedly pendulous, claps-driven rhythm and smooth, bubbling chords of 'Elsewhere' for nice contrast on the flip.
**Clear vinyl edition of 250** South London's famed music scene yields sweeter, rooted pop by Barnaby Keen's Flying Ibex. Taking inspiration from African tapes, Brazilian Maracatu, and vintage analogue gear, this taster from their 2nd album incorporates bassist Nathaniel Keen and drummer Dave De Rose on the lilting Afro-beat snares and Caribbean bass bobbing beneath Barnaby's vocal on 'You Dared Me', and tucked tighter in-the-pocket with choppy guitars for the breezy B-side shuffler 'Something Was Cured'. RIYL King Krule, Bullion, Vampire Weekend.
"The C.S. Crew's Funky Pack can be best described as Nigeria's own blend of Kool & the Gang, Mandrill and the Ohio Players - with a Moog synthesizer thrown in for good measure. Reissued for the first time this late 70s Nigerian raw funk masterpiece includes bonus tracks from the related group Youths of the Universe and liner notes written by Comb and Razor label owner (and Nigerian record collector extraordinaire) Uchenna Ikonne. Funky Pack features nine cuts of rare Nigerian funk including the sweaty and growling tracks Bread Power, Doin' the Good Thing and Freaky Funkyfied Fix, along with the p… Read more
UK garage-house laced with extra bass for the cool kids. A-side 'Late Reaction' is the one - meshing Funky house drum cadence with full sunk subs and a cheeky Mancunion bridge to 'floor-winnign effect. 'Help Yourself' is more stripped down, sensuous, shaking 2-step drums and smothered soul vox in a hollowed-out and glowing groove, whilst flipside gets Citizen on the action for a strutting, electro-flecked overhaul of 'Love Saves The Day' and 'Keep On Loving Me Dry' swings with whirring 2-step soul syncopations.
Diverse debut album from the Danish producer. Over nine tracks Tobias Pedersen aka Beastie Respond builds on the crooked techno and smudged funk of his previous 12"s, yielding a wider spectrum of electronic emotions and rhythmic patterns. From the top 'Werk' pulls off a cool blend of Carpenter-esque synth intrigue and swinging electro, Autonomic styles, and 'VV10' leans on a fruity boogie tip. 'Please Stop Running' pairs Emilie Reimers with a dBridge-styled emo-electro rhythm and 'The Busdriver' sits on a muggy mission boogie vibe. Flipside the rugged Linn3 smack and colourful bu… Read more
Fabric resident Craig Richards swings out three cuts on his Nothing Special label. A-side is a side-stepping minimal tech-house play; B-side he flexes his experimental muscle with one shot of slow/fast dubstep delay trickery and another echo chamber exercise.
Dungeon-steppin' dubs from the OG Macabre Unit label. 'Music Mi Luv' is proper dread dub weight carved from a steely techno palatte inna Kryptic Minds style. 'Badman Culture Pt.2' is ice-cold rollige buttoned up with precise, 'ard-ass drums and bowel-worrying subs; label boss Demon gets in on the action with a slicing halfstepper called 'Cursed'. Big with Youngsta and Hatcha.
One for the London tech-house set: three tracks of stripped down swing from Sui Generis. A-side side is a tougher piece of shunting bass, clunky drums and incessant synthlines, the sort that make you wonder what you're still doing out at 5am. B-side features a bouncier little number driven by percolating chords and a hiccuping vocal for the swingers, plus a darker warehouse kink.
"Peter Jefferies’s extraordinary debut solo album, The Last Great Challenge in a Dull World, first saw life as a cassette via the Xpressway label of Port Chalmers, New Zealand, in 1990. As a result of some international underground acclaim in fanzines and mailorder catalogs – for both the album and a striking 7-inch, “The Fate of the Human Carbine,” released around the same time – it soon appeared on LP and CD as well, through the Ajax label of Chicago. Within a handful of years it slipped out of print and out of sight. Roughly 20 years later that situation is… Read more
Diverse trio of analogue techno trax by Ruff Cherry, backed with A Sagittariun remix. 'The Empath' starts off with Scanners-like sci-fi techno in classic AI style, while 'Wolf In The Fold' knuckles down to driving kicks and pensive, darker Detroit/UK techno. The clear highlight is a Mayday or Claude Young-like samba-techno dream called 'The Cloud Minders', which A Sagittariun duly flips as a Black Ark-inspired downbeat dub excursion.
"For outsider gospel visionary and Detroit native Otis G. Johnson, the Holy Ghost was in the machine: in this case a rhythm-equipped Hammond organ. Everything / God Is Love 78, a singular 1978 mid-fi document, features android percussion against chords of Otis's own invention, possessed by minor tonality and frequent bum notes. Lifting it further are extemporaneous vocal homilies to the rapture, love, and everything, plus occasional 'other' voicings that scratch at the periphery of the mix. Homespun gospel rarely entered this dirge-like, intuitive space, nor did it commonly achieve such a spectral and captivating hymn to its darkest conventions."
Big room house movements backed with uplifting Jerome Sydenham remix. 'Time To Dance' works out shoulder-dropping, hip-slippin' kinks and stuttered drums for the swingers across the A-side; 'One More Time' gives up percolating chords and tense, elegant strings underpinned by muscular swing motion. Jerome Sydenham gives the latter a lick of gospel-style vocal stabs and tighter tucked, kick and clap-synced rhythm.
'Teenage Color' is the debut EP by David Grellier's College, who is best known as the guy behind Drive OST's mighty anthem, 'A Real Hero'. It was first issued back in 2007/8 and should now find a very receptive new audience to its perfect synthesis of '80s American movie themes and pop culture. All five tracks are entirely instrumental and packed with the kind of nerve-tweaking melodies and adrenalising drum machines that gave you brainfreeze as a kid watching French/Japanese cartoons and John Hughes movies. It's only 17 minutes long, but we can clearly hear those classic hooks in germination, primed for canny DJs and lovers of the most romantic electro-pop.
'Secret Diary' is the debut album by David Grellier's College, who're best known for penning Drive OST's pivotal anthem, 'A Real Hero'. Originally issued in 2008, it's a deeply nostalgic reverie synthesizing the music he grew up with - from '80s movie scores and soap themes to American pop culture, Daft Punk and DJ Falcon - in a perfectly retro-futurist cycle of 14 emotional electro-pop paeans. There are three vocal tracks, 'The Energy Story' starring Futur Records boss Minitel Rose, his soaring 'She Never Came Back' featuring Electric Youth, and the beautifully cinematic 'Fantasy Park' with Ano… Read more
Late '80s soul-and-house-inspired homage from Christophe and remixer, Casino Times. 'Comeback' is a natty throwback to swinging '86 boogie and arre groove sounds with grubbing bassline, fresh poppin' drums and silky female vocal by Crazy P's Danielle Moore. Casino Times give the same track a chugging modern house overhaul. Flipside Christophe and Lukas give a Detroit-style Mastermix of 'Comeback' and the original instrumental.