4th Album from Andy Stott, a follow-up to 2014’s Faith In Strangers, featuring Fourth World pop variants joining the dots between Haruomi Hosono & Ryuichi Sakamoto, Newworldaquarium, Ruff Sqwad and Theo Parrish...
Too Many Voices is the fourth album from Andy Stott, recorded over the last 18 months and drawing for inspiration from the fourth-world pop of Japan’s Yellow Magic Orchestra as much as it does Triton-fuelled Grime made 25 years later. Somewhere between these two points there’s an oddly aligned vision of the future that seeps through the pores of each of the tracks. It’s a vision of the future as was once imagined; artificial, strange and immaculate.
The album opens with the harmonised, deteriorating pads of the opening Waiting For You and arcs through to the synthetic chamber-pop of the closing title track, referencing Sylvian & Sakamoto’s Bamboo Houses as much as it does the ethereal landscapes of This Mortal Coil and Dead Can Dance. In between, the climate and palette constantly shift, taking in the midnight pop of Butterflies, the humid, breathless House of First Night and the endlessly cascading Forgotten.
Longtime vocal contributor Alison Skidmore features on half the tracks, sometimes augmented by the same simulated materials; voicing the dystopian breakdown on Selfish, at others surrounded by beautiful synth washes, such as on the mercurial Over, or the dreamy, neon-lit New Romantic.
It’s all far removed from the digital synthesis and the abstracted intricacies that define much of the current electronic landscape. The same cybernetic palette is here implanted into more human form; sometimes cold, but more often thrumming with life.
Minimal master Robert Hood underlines Junior Boys’ Big Black Coat with a sleek motor city groove, isolating fragments of the vocal as Tour De France-style gasps-as-percussion accompanied by highway chord/gear changes and re-treaded with thumping 313 kicks. Highly effective.
Absolutely killer full-length dancefloor debut from Marie Davidson, long-time member of Essaie Pas, newly delivered via Minimal Wave's Cititrax imprint.
Montréal’s Marie Davidson serves her strongest, most elaborate batch of dancefloor material to Minimal Wave’s Cititrax label after a series of head-turning early solo releases with Weyrd Son and HoloDeck (S U R V I V E) circa 2014-15 which highlighted her devilish take on techno-pop and ‘80s electro-wave.
As a keen participant in Montréal’s fertile experimental music scene, Marie’s range takes in the sophisticated synth pop élan of her DKMD and Essaie Pas does with David Kristian and Pierre Guerineau, respectively, as well as her sometime role in Sam Shalabi’s Land Of Kush ensemble, which all proves, if nothing else, that she’s no one trick pony.
We could already tell from last year’s Un Autre Voyage that she’s a master at working nuanced detail into each piece, rather than simply imitating a style, and with Adieux Au Dancefloor we find Marie tending to her own devices with scrupulous swerve.
The devil is in the detail with this one, and it informs all the best aspects here; whether it’s in the switch up from cold, crisp EBM jack to skittish 150bpm stepper in I Dedicate My Life, studded into the leathering EBM tilt of Interfaces and the spiders webs of FX in Denial, or kerned with a louche pop sensuality in the vocals and groove of Good Vibes (Mocking Birds), or the sugary chanson craft of her title track which brings us to the run-out groove.
Most importantly, Marie treads that finest line between reverence to classic form and the freedom to mess with it, whilst keeping her eye trained on the ‘floor sharper than ever, making Adieux Au Dancefloor a synth-pop album for the times and not just today.
Overdue but well on-point, Kassem Mosse’s 2nd solo album proper - his debut with Honest Jon’s - is a time-and-space bending set of ancient yet modern-sounding techno deviations that makes the rest of his field seem like frustrated, gridlocked passengers.
Blending the drum machine of Jeff Mills with the hi-tech jazz chops of Mad Mike and a wondrous feel for plasmic radiophonics and dustily organic textures, Disclosure is patently KM’s definitive artistic statement, largely steering shy of any easy anthems in favour of pursuing a mystic, abstract muse deep into the wires.
No doubt at all it will piss off the bro’s fishing for big tuna, but for anyone else who can dance outside of the lines there’s stacks of crafty time-signatures, alien electronics and loose-limbed patterns to get with, from the bitter dissonance of Stepping on Salt to the frayed bustle of Drift Model and the sun-melted techno of Galaxy Series 7, whilst Monomer trades in Tevo Howard-style Chicago class and it’s hard to deny the Memphis-style percolations of Aluminosilicate Mirrors or the Molecular Memories’ Africans With Mainframes-esque projections.
Optimo’s JD Twitch ropes in some fresh meat - Helena Hauff, Powell, Kübler-Ross - to boot four zingers from his well-received So Low compilation; a collection of EBM, post-punk and industrial anthems on regular rotation at his Glasgow club night of the same name.
Powell chops up and slathers extra MS20 on P/1e’s 49 Second Romance with ice cool, stepping momentum faithful to the original but with his own stamp of barely-hinged funk; whilst JD Twitch understandably drew first dibs to have a go on the brilliant Gerry & The Holograms, giving it a sleek, new, DJ-friendly chassis of sparking drum machines.
At Helena Hauff’s digits, The Klinik’s Belgian EBM classic Moving Hands is reduced and pinched to a snaky writhe, and Glasgow legend Dave Clark a.k.a. Kübler-Ross furnishes a female cover version of John Bender’s Ross Victims Of Victimless Crimes.
Key Detroit player, Omar S sticks to his guns - an Uzi, plus a Linn Drum machine and Roland MC 500 by the looks of the inner sleeve image - with the rugged soul punch of The Best! for his home-brewed FXHE stronghold.
On his 5th album, arriving just over ten years since his debut Just Ask The Lonely, it’s safe to say that Alex “Omar” Smith owns this particular corner of 313 real estate, drawing out the best vocals and collaborations from a close knit circle of pals and producers.
Straight-up hitting a timeless vibe, this record could arguably have been made any point between 1989 and now, and we’d hardly know the difference. The vocals from Amp Fiddler, John F.M., Divinity and Big Strick are attuned to the deepest seam of Detroit soul, will a roll call of instrumental hands-on-deck likewise share so much in common with your man that no-one outshines anyone; it’s all part of the same body.
Initial highlights come from the burning, swinging sensations of Heard’Chew Single with its militant snare rolls and mesmerising keys sparked off by John F.M., or the barrely hinged acid clatter of Bitch,,,, I’ll Buy Another One!!! for more rugged, technoid thrills, and we’re pretty smitten with that daring fusion of dub house and distant flutes (?) in Chama Piru’s. But, y’know, it’s all good.
What were the clouds like when Huerco S was young? The Kansas-raised, New York-based producer’s absorbing ambient album For Those of You Who Have Never (And Also Those Who Have) goes some way to answering The Orb’s fluffy little proposition…
Brian Leeds a.k.a. Huerco S’s 2nd album, following Colonial Patterns (2013) finds him working between the cracks and fissures of what we’ve previously heard from him, drawing out nine pieces of mineral ambient textures and non-percussive rhythms marking his best work since the 20 minute Untitled track off his debut for Opal Tapes in 2012.
Defined throughout by a low lit, low-lying sense of intimacy, rather than oceanic or celestial tropes, Leeds’ appreciation of lower case nuance is in warm, crackling effect with a hazy hummus like grain and bonfire glow that recalls Wanda Group’s earlier outing as The Hers, or the sweeter touches of Bellows.
Like a well timed gary, once it really begins to sink in, the warbly electronic pitches and subtly chaotic ferric details really get to work in hypnotising and making you forget where you started, suspending disbelief for a 50 minute window of time just long enough to let your mind wander over the horizon.
Time will tell, but this is surely a future ambient classic.