Finally - Diagonal pull out a zinging art-techno curveball with the 2nd release from Glasgow’s hottest new prospect and Golden Teacher splinter cell The Modern Institute; an iconoclastic trio of agitators that have made one of the freshest and most vital blends of post-punk, art-school and techno sensibilities to emerge in recent memory.
Aimed as a snark at the middle class art gaze as much as a slippery engine for the ‘floor, Another Exhibition at the Modern Institute reels six mercurial fusions of scudding, techy rhythms and sheer electronic contours strewn with drily observant vocals describing hypersensual scenarios. It’s a sound perhaps purposefully located lightyears away from Golden Teacher’s charming retro-vintage styles, and effectively gives that group’s rhythmic engine of McMaster and Pitt a space to express their more contemporary concerns.
Forming the 2nd blow of a Glasgow-centred 1-2 after Russell Haswell and Sue Tompkins’ Respondent EP, The Modern Institute swarm in formation from a white-hot electro-stepper IV Cheeks to somewhere darker, almost paranoid by the close of Dozen Cocktails, taking in a sound like Errorsmith producing for MES in Limitless Light, or Hecker doing footwork on the new beta anthem Quicksilver Lips, whilst Unbreakable Pulse and the pinging ballistics of Molton Gold short circuit the deep rooted transatlantic connection between Glasgow art punks’ afterparties and Detroit ghetto styles with a deadly swagger.
It’s a must-have for fans of Chris Carter, DJ Stingray, Toresch, Dale Cornish, Cabaret Voltaire and, of course, Golden Teacher.
Alongside soundtrack composer Francesco Fantini, Lorenzo Senni makes a naturally graceful move to orchestral composition with their plush soundtrack to Yuri Ancarani’s The Challenge, a film which Warp describe as “an anthropological documentary observing the curious hobbies of rich in the desert.”
Set to images of people bezzing around the desert in Lambo’s with leopards in the passenger seat and hawks in their private jets, the soundtrack fits these scenes and themes with a suitably opulent sound full of sweeping strings and elegant woodwind describing motion and flight.
It’s really no stretch to draw a line between the flouncing weightless dynamics of Lorenzo’s pointillisticT trance deconstructions and the four pieces in The Challenge. They may be much plusher, and with a different purpose, but there’s a striking symbiosis between the way his early work strove for a balletic freedom of dance music, and the classicist discipline of expression, a fleeting play of emotion and lightness of touch, in Senni’s newly chosen form.
Uniquely wicked package from Lisbon’s Príncipe label, hustling cuts from DJ K30, DJ NinOo and Puto Anderson under the crew’s mantle, Firma do Txiga, which translates to english as something like “Come Close”, and coolly signifies the set of ideals which ties their styles together.
After shots dispatched on the Cargaa 3 and Mambos Levis D’Outro Mundo compilations, K30 steps to his solo debut plate with the most mercurial vibes of all three. A-side he explores “a more synthetic approach to the syncopated PALOP sound of the streets, a sort of avant-garde technoid expression of the bated identity” with four mercurial grooves dancing from the plasmic string licks and syrupy bump of Era Uma Ve(z) to curdled organ riffs and nimble drums in Hora da Casa and one rot the oddly stark turn of System and the BIG highlight of warped techno chords, thizzing pads and brittle shuffle in Melodias do K30.
DJ NinOo follows with a deeply sweet but rugged pair on his plate, forming a perfect introduction tot he world at large with the Moments In Love-styled choral voices and downtempo romance of Ambientes Leves backed by the wistfully dusky and up-shuffled bustle of Saudades do Russel, before Puto Anderson charges up the final plate with two archival zingers; the hypnotic pressure of Éh Brincadira and the completely inimitable, scuffling woodblock cadence and parry of Gritos do Infinito, which is surely one of the maddest, distinctive grooves we’ve heard in years.
A total no brainer, this. Highly recommended!
Mystical, mesmerising jakk trax by Portuguese brethren, Photonz - one of the early releases on one of 2013's finest imprints, Príncipe.
Originally released in 2011, these two trax depict Photonz at their most epic and stellar, stretching out over 11 minutes of roiling 303, lush pads, discordant electronics and 'floor-screwing darkside drops in 'WEO', and churning up a mind-melting mix of body-tugging drums, squirrelly synths and oceanside atmosphere in the ten minutes of 'Chunk Hiss'.
Outstanding debut album from Príncipe’s first lady, Nidia Minaj, following up the huge buzz around her debut 12”, Danger  with a 14 track portrait of a thrilling yung artist following her instincts for the good of dances everywhere.
Since that electrifying Danger 12” she really left us hanging, with only Pra Fachar and the raucous Festive delivered on compilations in the meantime to keep us sated. Now, after carving up clubs and festivals all over the shop, she’s followed her nose and fed that energy into a battery of unpretentious, hard-hitting and bittersweet aces; a full clip of short sharp shocks designed to be flung in and out of DJ sets and light up BBQs and parties with infectiously driven rhythms and stinging, hi-tension rhythmelodies.
You want highlights? Run come get ‘em in the maaaad synths of Biotheke and militant snares of Shane Noah; from the trampling force of Toma; in the hard but homesick melancholy of I Miss My Ghetto; and especially in those super succinct shots of wrapped vocals such as Indian and Mulher Profissional, and the lip-bitingly strong grind of Puro Tarraxho.
Biggest tip to fans of killer new dance music!!!
Portugal’s freakiest house band, Niagara, get loosey goosey on return to Príncipe with four jazz-fizzed and earthen jams mixing punk-funk and Afro-Latin rhythms in a way they can happily call their own.
OK they may display shades comparable with Hieroglyphic Being at his bendiest, or even traces of Pop Dell’ Arte in their musical DNA, but there’s some defiantly offbeat and textured to the bittersweet, cranky yet playful jazz-house of Asa, and even when they simply put a big kick under it, like with IV, they still manage to make it sound warped in their own image; a proper grinning/gurning fizzog.
When they lock down to a beat, they really juice it for all its worth in burred, ferric disco psychedelia of Amarelo, but equally know how to swivel your bones in distinctly fresh but tribalistic style with the splayed snare patter and lysergic, flanged-out flute tickles of Laranja.
Whatever, they’ll make your ‘floor feel weird and bring out the best dancers.
Wile-out Kuduro madness from DJ Marfox, kicking off the promising Príncipe label with a rambunctious 4-tracker. The 'Eu Seiquem Sou EP' is his debut release but he's already well known in his native Portugal for his legendary 'DJ's di Ghetto' mixes which have earned him notoriety from Europe to Africa. A-side features the polyrhythmic frenzy of the title track, all cascading fairground melodies and nutty drum pressure, plus the hooting Batida hoedown 'Bit Binary'. Flipside starts the ruckus with exhilarating drops and carnival momentum on 'Mitologia' next to the Garage-infected flex of 'Pensamentos'. If you loved Mental Groove's 'Bazzerk' compilation, this is a must!
Terekke herds his wooliest flock of ambient Improvisational Loops for Music From Memory following the cultishly-acclaimed Plant Age album for L.I.E.S.. This time he evaporates any trace of percussion to leave listeners wrapped up in billowing harmonic structures with a deeply meditative, almost anaesthetising effect set to resonate with a raft of new ears.
It’s perhaps not surprising that Matt Gardner a.k.a. Terekke conceived his second LP as an aid for yoga in the esoteric-functional style of those late ‘70s/early ’80s new age pioneers whose work is having such a strong effect on contemporary styles. As the original new age gear was crafted in response to emerging thoughts of AI consciousness, secular spirituality and as a means detach oneself from the capitalist reality of Reaganomics, in 2017, at the dog-end of capitalism, perhaps the need for this stuff is as great or greater than ever?
Unless you exclusively fxck with harsh noise or are a bit of a bastard, Improvisational Loops is almost guaranteed to melt your worries and soothe your mind, running the equivalent of a hot bath while simultaneously massaging your temples and holding a zoot to your lips so you don’t get the roach wet. Just bliss. It’s that good!
Berlin mainstays, Max Loderbauer (Sun Electric) and Tobias Freund (tobias., Hypnobeat) reprise their exploration of quietly refined electro-acoustic dimensions, variously touching on Satie-esque solo piano works, strung-out desert blues, Lakeland Kirby-like midnight etudes, warbling gamelan-like tones and a spectrum of shadowy integers between them
“A decade has passed since Tobias Freund and Max Loderbauer aka Non Standard Institute (NSI) released their enigmatic collection of ‘non-standards’. Playing with mystery is the name of the game here as well. The new CD, entitled with the code ‘5863′, is the result of collecting creative moments over years and stringing together twenty short pieces that jointly amount to almost an hour of playtime.
Meditative, reflective, introspective, but also occasionally exhilarated… All these descriptions come to mind. But there’s more to the story line which emerges in patient increments as the album unfolds. Music comes mostly in the form of sparse but evocative piano improvisations, layering personal expression and subtle references anchored within the depth of the musicians’ experience. As the cryptic title suggests, the scope of examined experience can be symbolized through dates or years. But what counts for much more here is the sonic narrative itself with all its openness to interpretation. Some of these concise tracks can swiftly transport the listener to iconic harmonies of other musical contexts as they seamlessly relink the piano avant-gardism of Erik Satie with echoes of modern psychedelia and futuristic soundtracks.
As a whole, however, the minimal instrumentalism of NSI is as much about the notes and emotions that punctuate the electronic soundscapes generated by Tobias’ unerring use of studio as it is about the space created between them.”
Though her instrumentation is sparse - usually just guitar, saxophone, and drums - and her voice is mellow, Yanya’s hooks are always rife with dizzying romantic insight […] NilüferYanya cements her status as one of the most promising new artists of the year.” - Pitchfork