Egoless double down on the rootsy pressure of Dubkasm and Rider Shafique for Mala’s Deep Medi
Taking Stryda and Digistep’s 2018 riddim for Rider Shafique, Egoless follows in Mad Professors footsteps to return a weighty halfstep reduction of the vocal mix up top, backed with an extended dub version haunted by its bluesy croak and revealing its Drill-style bass, before it switches right into a noisy prang-out reeling with Zomby-esque 8-Bit arps.
Don't pretend you haven't heard it - Jose Gonzalez's Sony endorsed classic 'Heartbeats' is everywhere. From the Sony Bravia advert to any 'heartfelt' Channel 4 advertisement, you know it - and it's not even Gonzalez's song, yep that's what I'm getting to, it's the Knife, who have now (in a very timely fashion) seen it fit to release their latest album. Quite surprisingly for those unfamiliar with the Knife's back catalogue, this is very much an electropop affair, all vintage synth arpeggios, drum machines and effected vocals markedly distant from Gonzelez's Simon & Garfunkel-lite ditties. I can't say this is a bad thing though, for what the Knife do, they manage it very well, and the album is already getting hyped from all corners, Pitchfork already claiming this could be an early contender for album of the year. If you are in any way attracted to the sound of early Human League, John Foxx or Gary Numan, or got terribly excited (as we were) about the Junior Boys classic 'No Exit' album, you should really check out The Knife without delay. Emotional, electrified and with of attitude, if I wore make up then it would be dripping down my face right now. Right?
Over its sprawling 100 minute length, 'Shaking The Habitual' is a bold, almost overly self-aware statement from one of the most exciting prospects in pop music. Some of the reviews that have already surfaced have described the 'impenetrability' of the album, and while the originality and non-conformity at play is to be applauded, there is little on this album that would (or should) scare off anyone with an interest in music beyond the mainstream. It's the fact that The Knife's audience is so sizeable that makes 'Shaking The Habitual' such a tantalising prospect - they have access to the masses, and they are using that power wisely. Many of the tracks are long and don't follow any pre-determined formulas. from the 9+ minute drum machine powered 'Full Of Fire' (with an ace. elongated bassline that kinda makes the whole thing work, anchoring you to the floor), to the 7 minute 'Networking' (a track that seems to have modelled itself on Erik & Fiedel's classic 'Donna'), to the 19 minute minimalist/drone restructuring 'Old Dreams Waiting To Be Realised' and the Africanised brilliance of the opening 'A Tooth for an Eye' - it's all really good fun and quite often provocative, which is really what you would have hoped for from such an enigmatic duo. There are moments that grate - the vocal halfway through "Stay Out Here" that goes on about the collapse of the Euro is proper cringe-inducing (somehow reminiscent of Einar ruining so many good Sugarcubes songs) despite the fact that the drums are really nicely compressed and arranged, and overall you sort of wish that The Knife would relax a little about how original they are being (NO HABITS!) - but overall you just cant argue with an album that really isn't content to do the same thing over and over - and does what it does really well. Album closer 'Ready To Lose' is also the shortest and most conventional on offer - just to show you that they can do that too, and listening to it now, as it starts to fade out, we quite fancy giving the whole thing another spin straight away - which really tells you quite a lot about the enjoyability factor here. So yeah - it's a goodun.
Amit's sophomore album is a wide-ranging, deeply layered affair including a number of vocal contributions from Ursula Rani Sarma amidst his trademark halfstep D&B, darker Electro, and Techy rollers.
Rani's vocals beautifully flavour opener 'Lullaby For "Yerma"', setting a classically noirish tone for the duration. The low-slung droning atmospheres of 'Pripyat' and '68000' start the dance proper with shades of Scorn's blistered style amped for the 'floor, while the cinematic 'Atonal' has shades of Shackleton's drum cadences tucked under more experimental keys and Hermann-esque strings before diverting into strongback electro on 'RBMK 1000'. There's a genuine surprise to be found in the Joy Division-spiked Dread dub of 'Bloxit' and the industrial bassline of 'Social Dilemna', while displaying an impressive grasp of ambient cinematics on 'Dream Sequence'. The steppers should be warming up for the likes of '9 Times' or the wormhole twyst of 'Slug' (both featured on the 12" single) while the bonus tracks covers a diverse range of acidic steppers, grungy cyber-dub and droning basses.
Eartheater unfurls her operatic wings alongside the Leya duo in a chamber-like suite for PAN
Swanning on a year after Eartheater’s ‘IRISIRI’ album and her recent, self-released ‘Trinity’ LP, the four songs of ‘Angel Lust’ see her sylvan vocals harmonised with Leya’s and carried by their oneiric arrangements of prim but subtly detuned strings and drones, reprising their collaboration started on ‘666’ from 2018’s ‘The Fool’ cassette for NNA Tapes.
It feels a bit to our ears like a strange reflux of shoegaze, early-mid ‘00s freak-folk and nods to the magick of Julia Holter via Julianna Barwick, all neatly refreshing the timeless appeal of well-worn tropes with a mix of saccharine pucker and narcotic nose drip dissonance that really gets under the skin in their ‘Salty Eye’ and the curdled tones of ’Stronger’.
The master of Italo-electro makes a vital return with the powerful, playful and emotive drive of ‘W.O.W.’ for Vladimir Ivkovic’s Offen Music
Arriving some 25 years since Passarani helped shape the infamous Roman electro sound alongside characters such as Lory D and Leo Anibaldi, ’W.O.W.’ finds him tiling all the styles he’s touched on over the years - IDM, electro, acid, house and disco - with a crisp definition of his signature, razor sharp rhythm programming and lushly affective analog synth arrangements.
Where his earliest work was indebted to or paralleled the bold futurism of Detroit techno and its UK antecedents from AFX and the Rephlex crew, and later releases found him diving headlong into deep house inspirations and killer disco edits as part of Tiger & Woods, on ‘W.O.W.’ Passarani combines intense technicality with intuitive dancefloor suss in eight glorious parts that form a full image of his style.
From the early ‘90s new age promise of ‘Coldrain’ with its Plastikman-like slow/fast drums and melancholic euphoria, to the woozy deep house charm of ‘Strings Fair’, he charts a course thru 25 years of deep dancefloor history, coming off like Cybotron jamming with Alexander Robotnick in ‘Drumy Dream’, while ‘Get Down’ delivers screaming payload of Chicago house/EBM, ‘Innowave’ trades in exquisite instrumental synth-pop, and ‘Minerals’ works out an infectious blend of NYC and SoYo garage depths, before ‘’Talk To Me’ reels with ribboning chromatic arps, then momentarily turns into a Hoover driven house beast.
For the party, the car, the bedroom, this is a killer album.
L.A.’s choral maestro Julianna Barwick channels Enya in the very seasonal-sounding beauty, ‘Circumstance Synthesis’, her most significant solo outing since 2016’s ‘Will’ album
In five pieces for voice and synth, ‘Circumstance Synthesis’ presents the naturally gifted artist at her most effortlessly wondrous and sublime, drifting cloud-like from the bleary dawn of ‘Morning’ to the wide-open, noctilucent formations of ‘Night’ in an ambient ritual for everyday use that takes in the plumes of warm synth air and convective harmonies of ‘Noon’, the keening, tremulous ululations of ‘Afternoon’, and the breezy, brassy, Vangelis-meets-Enya promise of ‘Evening’.
Sturdy but trippy techno from Vladimir Dubyshkin on Nina Kraviz’ Trip,
Boomeranging back to Trip after shots fired on a handful of their compilations, ‘Budni Nashego Kolhoza’ is the definitive Dubyshkin trip to date. It gets into gear with the Italiante techno bass and nagging, folksy vocal loop and whistles of ‘Rural Woman’ and maintains playful swerve thru the tight, DJ Rush-like funk of ‘Grasshopper’s Opinion’, beside the tribalist techno pounding ‘Customs & Traditions’, plus soemthgin like a funky trance twist on rave classic ‘James Brown Is Dead’ with the frolics of ‘Elvis Has Left The Building’, and a lash of fast funky house in ‘Lady of the Night’.