Class A wind-up merchant and new beta techno mutant, Powell bends expectations to the fullest with a remarkably emotive, hook-riddled and tumultuous debut album called Sport for the original rave mongrels at XL.
It’s his most detailed, variegated and even vulnerable record to date, and, for the first time in his music, features a handful of original vocals by Jonnine Standish (HTRK), Dale Cornish, Melvin Oliphant III and Loke Rahbek (Damien Dubrovnik, Lust For Youth) which perfectly accentuate and jar with his demented arrangements.
Landing five years since Powell opened his Diagonal account with the bare bones, rictus func of The Ongoing Significance of Steel & Flesh, his debut album fulminates a reactive blend of everything that was there at the start - nods to Suicide’s wiggy MS-20 jabs; the clattering attitude of Big Black; Pan Sonic’s brunt physicality; the jumped-up industrial templates of Liaisons Dangereuses - together with a new found feel for bouts of surprising emotional clarity, skizzy nuance and stupid in-jokes.
We’re not going to say his sound has matured, but he uses the expanded canvas of Sport, which runs to 14 tracks and songs in 46 minutes, to explore a finer range of feels in the album context, from the cochlea-scouring aperitif FiT and the wildly-layered, dissonant expression of Fuck You, Oscar, to an unmistakably sore come-down in Mad Love making poignant use of Loke Rahbek’s disaffected drawl.
In the decimated space between he works like a back alley Frankenstein, harvesting rock and dance music’s distended organs and splicing them into fucked-up instrumentals such as the pint-sloshing bar room brawler Junk and the horny rampage of Her Face, along with some stinging shorts such as Beat 20_194r or Gone a Bit Bendy [NTS Chatroom Version] - we’d love to hear more of these! - which, when held up against the curdled cock rock guitars and pitching vox of Dale Cornish in Do You Rotate? and the coldly sobering monologue in Plastic, portray Powell as one of his generation’s most unhinged characters.
Sport plugs a gap that Powell has identified and made his own, whether you like it or not. Only time will tell, but he’s arguably made an album for the ages; combining post punk’s innovative spirit with an asymmetric inversion of industrial rock’s macho daftness and a sarky twist on techno stoicism, all quite ludicrous yet somehow necessary.
EMS Synthi 100 explorations from Canadian electronic composer for the justly-named Important Records.
Celebrated synthesist Sarah Davachi makes the first of two late plays for the EOY list season with Vergers, a sumptuous three-track meditation that finds a welcome home on Important. Whereas previous work from Davachi, such as last year’s Students Of Decay stunner Baron’s Court, saw the Canadian display her prowess and compositional skill with a multitude of synths, Vergers finds her focussing on just the rather large and unwieldly EMS Synthi 100.
In Davachi’s hands, the Synthi 100 becomes a beast of great power and emotion, and Vergers catches you from the off thanks to 21-minute opener Gentle, So Gentle. Subtle compositional shifts make this an enveloping exercise in minimalist drone, Davachi’s own voice and violin delicately intertwined with the glacial flow.
Ghosts And All sees Davachi bring the violin to the fore, the instrument offering a stark tonal voice over the simmering EMS murk beneath, whilst closer In Staying sees Davachi at her most foreboding.
Spellbinding transmission from the esoteric melting pot of early ’80s L.A.; an expanded reissue of the eponymous debut release by Anna Homler & Steve Moshier’s sound art duo, Breadwoman, including two bonus, previously unreleased pieces.
First kneaded in 1982 by performance artist Anna Homler, Breadwoman arose as a “being who exists outside of time”, intersecting various strands of L.A.’s art scene - gallery culture, DIY avant-garde, meaning-making mysticism - with a combination of gauzy electronics, glossolalic vocalese, and a costume made out of bread.
You can certainly colour us beguiled at Breadwoman & Other Tales, presenting the original tape’s alien song cycle - from the primordial shuffle and curiously Japanese-sounding vocalese of Ee Chê, thru the floating prisms of Oo Nu Dah, to the Rashad Becker-esque electronics of Giyah and kosmiche crème of Yesh’ Te - whilst the two bonus tracks angle far, far-out into stunning cinematic abstraction sounding like Helge Sten scoring a Lynch flick with the 12 minute Sirens, whereas Celestial Ash scries a precedent to everything from Enya and Julia Holter to Anna Caragnano & Donato Dozzy’s Sintetizzatrice.
Can easily predict this becoming an end-of-year favourite. Recommended!
Houndstooth's most striking new signing commits a strong debut LP under her birthname, Aïsha Devi, with the 4th world techno-folk interzone, 'Of Matter and Spirit'.
In pursuit of a more personal, borderless sound drawing upon her unique Swiss-Tibetan roots, Aïsha has consistently wowed us over the last few years with a pair of 12"s for her own Danse Noire label, beside a pair of choice linx with Italian new wave stars Vaghe Stelle and Dave Saved for Gang of Ducks.
'Of Matter and Spirit' dilates the ideas of those 12"s and remixes with unswerving vision to shape bold new electronic dimensions bridging the temporal and spatial gaps between T C F's deep trance topographies, the bittersweet dance-pop of Grimes, and Katie Gately's scything sound designs.
Her oxygen-depleted, helium-effected free-soprano pulls remarkably controlled acrobatics over lustrous synths and birds-eye-viewed beats, just as heard in the highlights of her 'Conscious C*nt' single, included in its entriety alongside seven new pieces.
Of those, we're smitten with the Professional Widow-breakdown styled vocal ohrwurm of 'Mazdâ', and relish the mental flashcore roil of 'Numen J' and '1%', but the album's highlights are arguably saved for the giddy post-rave-pop piece, 'Anatomy of Light' and the keening discord and electronically possessed chorales of 'O.M.A.'.
Much more of this, please.
50th anniversary reissue for the original Italian edition of Ennio Morricone's Gruppo Di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza's hugely important and super rare debut album (also known as The Private Sea of Dreams).
At last, the Italian avant-garde pioneers’ earliest work turns up for reissue on Schema’s invaluable series, documenting a vital, way-ahead-of-its-time intersection of disciplines - jazz, serialism, musique concrète, tape music, and other avant strategies - colliding and sparking against each other in an unprecedented, improvised, and innovative style at their Rome studio in 1967.
As Europe’s first and (then) only collective of composers, founded in Rome, 1964 by Franco Evangelisti - owner of the R7 Studio - Gruppo would build on the contemporary classical techniques of Giacinto Scelsi and Luigi Nono by incorporating a number of similarly forward looking European notables such as Egisto Macchi and his close friend, Ennio Morricone - whose score to The Good, The Bad and The Ugly was issued only a year prior to this LP - with whom they would go on to provide innovative sounds to a number of his subsequent film scores.
Operating at precognitive levels of musical understanding, underlined by rich individual histories, the core members and players including Roland Kayn, Frederic Rzewski, Mario Bertoncini and John Heineman arrived at a fascinating sound which loosened classical strictures to allow a more abstract, impulsive sort of expression to bleed thru, resulting a bewildering range and depth between their possessed vocal techniques, spectral timbres and prototypical horror movie-style gestures.
Most intriguingly for us, it’s possible to hear the roots of Roland Kayn’s later experiments in the field of cybernetic music embedded in the taut harmonic gradients of String Quartet (his first volume of Cybernetics followed in 1970), and likewise marvel at the levels of disciplined ingenuity at work, especially in their shocking use of lacunæ and unpredictable attacks in Improvvisazione Per Cinque.
Now, on the album’s 50th anniversary, it’s clear to hear its influence over, or at least precedence to, reams of experimental music ever since, from Demdike Stare at their most unheimlich, to the group practice of Æthenor or even the most recent Scott Walker outings.
An incredible doument, still startling half a century later.
Another reminder of African Head Charge’s innovative, dub-wise brilliance, collecting eight previously unreleased versions of original, early classics created circa 1981-1986 at Adrian Sherwood’s studio.
In a congregation of styles perhaps very particular to that era, dub and tribal drumming are refracted thru freeform post-punk attitudes, psychedelic African roots and Adrian Sherwood’s massive mixing desk to forge a sound they could, and still can, happily call their own.
Make sure to check for the palpitating percussion and wigged out concrète sampledelia of Conspired and the truly messed up wickedness of Slippery Heel for the wildest tastes, or the Thai folk-dub styling of Further for a smart precedent to the sound of Maft Sai & Chris Menist’s Paradise Bangkok Molam International Band, and some downright trippy jazz-dub skronk in Low protein Snack.
Think Count Ossie meets Can at Muslimgauze’s gaff…
Bedouin Records wrest the gnarliest, distorted electro-acid missiles from Roel Dijcks a.k.a. Ekman.
Honestly, this is elfin’ evil stuff, pulverising the senses with ultra-salty boom-clap syncopation and atonal snarl in كيمياء, and drying out to bone and gristle tweaked with nerve-biting hooks in سبعة عشر.
تكوين offers a more puckered, astringent sort of acid drill and التوازن really gets our attention with its uniquely discordant electronic scales and grubbing 2-step.
Light-headed but driving ambient techno from Sage Caswell, rejoining the ranks of San Fran’s Spring Theory - inc. Avalon Emerson, Keita Sano, Aria Rostami - with a sublime debut album of fluttering chords and insistent, rolling pulses knitted together with an elusive, mystic aura.
Hoop Earring frames Caswell at his most tactile and seductive, convecting ten mutable tracks equally balanced between the needs of floating, 4am ‘floors and ketamine-induced couch sessions; reaching back into the beating, fluffy, shoegazing heart of ‘90s electronica and diffusing its spirits into the contemporary sphere.
It takes a steady hand and patient mind to pull this sound off properly, and Sage Caswell is evidently in possession of both. Fizzing into view with Ray of Light 95’s pink hued preface, the road opens out with the purring nocturnal drive of Introduction to WS and the thrumming Detroit thizz of Danny’s Telephone Voice, curving gently into something recalling The Field’s 100bpm dream sequences in Y’all, and melt-on-the-mind nostalgic pads in Here We Guard Upon The Soul.
That nostalgic aura percolates richly into the chamber-like refrain of 31514726 (Step 2), emitting an uncannily wistful vibe redolent of John T. Gast meditations, whilst Joy Tel feels like a moment from SND’s Tender Love left to modulate into infinity, with the deep house sensuality of DYC serving us right back to the ‘floor like it’s ’97 again, and the ambient cushion of Zora Scales (Step 1) as a buffer for hearts racing faster than the head.
RIYL Lee Gamble, Perfume Advert, Nadia Khan, Manta…
J. Albert’s Exotic Dance Records turn up a debut slab of squashed breakbeat calligraphy from the imaginary handle, Deejay Xanax.
Your guess is as good as ours: who’s behind DJ Xanax? We could cue up a whole ruck of reference points - Zomby, Dego, HATE, Sotofett - but it’s probably none of them. Either way, you’ve got five killer breakbeat twysters, sustaining a wonderfully weightless tension with the rattlesnake rhythms and prickling blips of No Title Whatsoever (Blue Football Mix) which he nimbly diffuses into AFXian figures with Jjxana2 and the Astrobotnia style meter of (((Iwantutoholdmetight)), ending with a magickal, far flung drum trip entitled Somewhere’s Home.
Incredibly colourful and animated traditional folk music from Vietnam, recorded on location by Eisuke Yanagisawa. Sounds like little you’ve heard (unless you’re familiar with the Bahar people from the Central Highlands of Vietnam)
“This LP is a collection of music from the Bahnar people who live in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. The Bahnar are famous for their rich musical culture and this is perhaps the first-ever release to introduce the full range of Bahnar musical instruments and styles, including gong ensemble, bamboo zither, bamboo xylophone, bamboo fiddle with mouth resonator, and folk songs. Melodic and hypnotic, this music was selected from recordings made in the Kon Tum province from 2006 to 2015 by Eisuke Yanagisawa.
One of many highlights of these recordings is a most unusual and stunning instrument - the bamboo fiddle with mouth resonator – which creates an effect that is on one hand an organic auto-tuner of sorts and on the other Peter Frampton coming alive on his 1970s talkbox. The Bahnar’s music has been passed down through the ages in each village but is now endangered because of cultural assimilation related to changes in their lifestyles and living environment. These recordings preserve for us the vestiges of a traditional music culture that might no longer be heard in the near future.”
Krakow’s Lutto Lento curves back to Charles Drakeford’s F T D with a drizzly, wigged-out and slightly seasick collage/avant-house sound on Wild Wishes, arriving some two years since FTD001 and a gush of 12”s for WTN?, Proto Sites and Transatlantyk issued over the interim.
There’s an optimistic sense of adventure to this EP, not in the futuristic sense but more in a day-dreamy, rambling, lets-see-where-this-road-takes-us way; getting on track with the slompy, zig-zagging groove and caterwaul of Wild Wishes, turning the page to the lo-fi, puddle-skipping swinger Profondo, and putting away a fine bit of STL-style rawness in Coarse Morse, with a narky dash of neck-snap hip hop to taste in Crow Boys.
Aussie soul boy Jordan Rakei breaks out his alter ego for some housey swerves on the South London stronghold.
Bradley Zero’s Rhythm Section family expands once again, scoring a quartet of soulful house bumpers from London-based Australian crooner Jordan Rakei. One of those annoyingly talented musicians, Rakei turns out all manner of styles under his given name, as demonstrated on his recent debut LP Cloak. The Dan Kye alter ego finds Rakei the London-based artist squaring down on a rugged, cuffed house sound most recently explored by Seven Davis Jr and Rekchampa’s tracks for PPU.
You can envisage Joy, Ease, Lightness has been causing a ruckus down the RS pool hall, rolling out with the percussive jitters of Change before hitting a disco rush of rawness on the KDJ-worthy Like You Wanna. The best track here, iigo is hidden on B2, Rakei snapping down hard on a groove that hits you right in the hip.
One of modern, retro-vintage house music’s finest sculptors comes correct with a debut album of rarely paralleled breadth and depth, blooming with jazzier, expressive integers between his patented deep house mutations.
As evidenced in his dozens of productions as John Swing, and as part of Vinalog, Appointment and The Shippers, your boy has a really deft knack for finding new niches and unusual kinks within his chosen style, and also for subtly, tactfully bringing them out within the mix, meaning his drums really insist, and his basses feel properly physical and warm.
As implied by the name of his label, LiveJam Records, these are live jams on record, finding Swing loosely following his nose in ten lithe and smokily obfuscated grooves that are often happy to go nowhere, are we’re very happy to follow him.
You could use many of these on the right ‘floor, but Assorted Moods is better considered a home listening affair for late evenings and even later mornings, the sort you can let roll thru and wash over you without any snags or hard corners.
Fit Sound get their kicks from Moscow, Russia, with two smart bumps of Detroit-flavoured breakbeat and house hustle by Oleg Buyanov a.k.a. OI, pursuing the vibes of his Meda Fury and Faces Records aces deep into debonair, late night styles.
Judging from the nuanced guile and textured haze of the recording, you’d be forgiven for thinking this record was produced by an original Detroit player. A-side he turns out the super loose and swanging Lada Passenger with discrete layers of melted bass and strafing drums knit in a deeply infectious syncopation with breezy chords out of the Theo Parrish handbook. B-side, he simmers down to the deadly, jazzier burn and shuffle of Study Drum and a lip-smackingly sweet bit of filter-disco-house in Life Span.
Batu grips Laksa in killer mode for his first jaunt beyond Beneath’s Mistry label, packing some smartly distinguished, affective emotional and physical weight in all three instances.
Contrasts gives the set a firm boot to the ass with cranky, wall-banging kicks and scratchy percussion done to shake you in a different way, especially when that glorious pads breaks thru the murk and blesses the whole scene.
Lost Code provides a bluer counterpoint or low ebb, receding backwards into the echo chamber at a beatdown tempo and under haunting, SAW-style melodies which complement and measure out the right atmosphere Buried’s farther explorations of early EBM drum palettes and spectral electronics, à la Aphex Twin in his most classic, prototypical phase. Yeh yeh we use that analogy a lot, but check this. It’s as close as we’ve heard in some time.
BEB at their most nicotine-strained and claggy, thanks to the grubby indie-pop doodles and rugged dub collage of Jesse Dewlow a.k.a. People Skills. Littered with coy pop hooks and smudged with prescription pharmaceutical effect somewhere between Gray, Mica Levi and Forest Swords.
“Graciously welcoming the second full-length lp from Philadelphia’s Jesse Dewlow, recording under the moniker People Skills. The follow-up to 2014’s Siltbreeze set Tricephalic Head. Ten sunken songs, derisively adorned with rhythm and rudimentary dub effects. Bedroom elegies for the lost and irretrievable, last-ditch spells for transformation and renewal. Thurston Moore and Byron Coley likened the previous record to “South Island NZ pop played inside of an armored car”, and that description holds here: underneath the hoods of these wracked and weather-beaten recordings are melodies of disarming beauty and optimism, bordering on the (wilfully) mawkish, bubblegum ground underfoot.
Each piece as time-stopping and evocative as an old photograph of someone who used to mean something. Whether speaking through stately keyboard pastorals (‘Mint Julep’), rat-arsed rock ‘n roll slur (‘89¢ Public Render’) or sulphurous aggro-electronics (the two-part title track),Gunshots At Crestridge exposes, then seeks to redeem, all our tiny acts of self-sabotage, all our sins against time. When to stay, when to go...you never got it right, not once.”
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.
Oh my gosh! Huge platter from Dug Out, dispensing Gregory Isaacs’ Temporary Lover (1997) heavyweight on 12” in multiple version and dubs. These will sound incredible on the biggest rig you can get a hold of!
“Masterful Gregory from 1997, sounding spooked and hunted over a juddering, propulsive Music Works rhythm, fulgent and full-on, with deep, pounding bass, clattering percussion, parping horns, classy backing vocals and harp starbursts… top-notch Gussies. Two extended vocal versions, and two dubs, all quite different. Bimmety bim bim.”
Killer addendum or prequel of sorts to Playgroup’s Previously Unreleased archive raid, which was recently tied up in 2CD and digital formats after the release of 9 x 12”s.
There are five progressively unbuttoned and humid shots of disco heat inside, arching up with the slashing strings and slamming boogie bass of Dirt Biter and his swaggering Don’t Stop Dub, before opening up the filters and engulfing the ‘floor with the Major Force West styles of C’mon C’mon.
Downtown he comes tuffer than ever with the jackin’ Italo horn of No Lube, keeping the disco priapic with Perc Up, and breaking it down with the stone cold electro-funk freak, Do It!
Fascinating and very rare insight to the traditional funerary practices of a remote area in Borneo: Enchanting gong music and chants hardly heard beyond the privacy of the Dayak Benuaq people’s homes
“Numbering less than 1000 people, the Dayak Benuaq from the Eastern Kalimantan region of Indonesian Borneo still practice many of their traditional ceremonial customs. This album of field recordings presents the music associated with the kwangkay, the secondary mortuary ritual celebrated by the Dayak Benuaq, recorded live on location by Vincenzo Della Ratta. According to the Benuaq belief system, upon death the soul of the human being is transformed into the liau, associated with the physical body, and the kelelungan, associated with the intellect or the head.
Both the liau and the kelelungan temporarily reside in a sort of cosmic location, connected respectively with the bones and the skull of the deceased, who has entered a state of deep unconsciousness, as yet neither pertaining completely to the realm of the living, nor to that of the dead. Music plays a key role within the kwangkay, as it is crucial for guiding the liau and kelelungan spirits to their final destinations. It is also intended to please the spirits of the dead by providing them with entertainment. This ritual includes a night dance performed for the spirits and accompanied by a musical piece known as the ngerangkau. These rites and ceremonies are often dedicated to several deceased persons and are held within a house belonging to one of their family members.
Featured here are two different versions of the ngerangkau, with their long, trance-inducing rhythmic gong patterns. There are two more tracks on the album which are not specifically related to the kwangkay. Titi mati is a gong piece commonly played to proclaim the recent death of a villager. And finally, the nocturnal soundscape of a village by the river Mahakam, a channel of transport and communication which is essential for the local people of the Benuaq territories.”
Another blinder from Basic Channel's Wackies re-issue programme finally gets its long awaited release.
Between stints in Jamaica for legends like Glen Brown and Junjo Lawes, Wayne Jarrett travelled from his Connecticut base to record this album during the same weeks as the sessions for everyone's favourite - Horace Andy's Dance Hall Style. These are two of the great vocal reggae LPs of all time - no questions asked. With Clive Hunt in full effect, Showcase Volume One follows the six-track dub-showcase format and Wayne never sounded more like Horace with his yearning throaty gargle! Blues afficionados might even want to discuss the influence of the late, lamented Bobby 'Blue' Bland on reggae vocals, but that's by the by. Including four unmissable Studio One versions - Azul's deadly Rockfort Rock, Sleepy's Every Tongue Shall Tell (with outrageous Isley fuzz), yet another Heptones cut via Leroy Sibbles, and a killer Drum Song. My personal favourite Wackies album of all - outright winner!
Gregory Isaacs’ infectiously yearning bubbler, Nobody Knows, taken from his New Dance (1988) LP and pressed on 7” for the 1st time by the Hardwax/Honest Jon’s-affiliated Dug Out.
A-side, Isaacs’ dulcet croon floats over the oriental casio licks and clipped digi dub torque of Firehouse Crew’s riddim, produced by Bunny Gemini and Triston Palma and revealed in full fat instrumental Club Mix on the B-side, with the drums and bass properly pushed forward in the mix.
Buy two and get jugglin’!
Touch Sensitive surprise once again with an album for the “post-Brexit Dystopia” from local act Gross Net.
There's a whiff of the record collector to the manner Belfast’s Touch Sensitive operates; dabbling in soundtrack work from the city’s celebrated son David Holmes, scoring a Cherrystones compilation to putting out an LP from Barry Boxcutter’s conceptual side project The Host and reissuing obscure mid-70s psych rock on seven inch.
The label’s latest outing presents local Belfast act Gross Net, which began life as a joint project for Phillip Quinn (Girls Names) and Christian Donaghey from DNS act Autumns to explore other themes and ideas. After a debut, self-titled tape, Donaghey departed to concentrate fully on Autumns, granting Quinn full creative freedom of Gross Net.
Quantitative Easing expands on the Outstanding Debt tape Quinn released earlier this year, trading the odds and sods nature of that collection for a more fully-realised document of the Gross Net sound. This is a stark listen, suggesting Quinn’s outlook to be bleakly satirical as he runs the gamut of post punk angst and industrial darkness. Quinn might just get a call from Nic Winding-Refn’s music licensing minions if the highly-stylised director hears the slowly smouldering synth noir of opening track Citadel, whereas Citalopram and Still Life possess echoes of Karl O’Connor’s snarling White Savage Dance. The Body recalls the strobe-lit, saucy Cold Wave pump of Eleven Pond, dovetailing neatly with the heavily-sedated, slack-jawed psychedelia of Side Effects and the smattering of abstract electronic vignettes.
Dug Out flashing top drawer digidub from Dennis Creary, first fired in 1989, now remastered replete with a wicked dub. Irresistible, five-star stuff
“Tearaway sufferers anthem, roaring out of the blocks in 1989. Piercing, unforgettable song-writing by the Tetrack spar — jam-packed with anecdote, observation and warning — over a sick, breakneck, apocalyptic rhythm, with an ace dub. A digi classic.”
Not sure how he does it, but John Tejada packs roughly 10% more punch than the average producer in everything on show in the Therapy EP; rubbing out some super rugged electro-dub-house swerve and wonky tech-house up top, and then with a defter breakbeat hustle and a melodic nerve tweaker on the other side.
Ratking’s beat broker, Eric Adiele a.k.a. Sporting Life, collects all three volumes of his diverse Slam Dunk series in one chunky beat tape on wax.
Sporting Life’s sound positively comes alive on vinyl, which, it becomes patently clear, is the most sympathetic format (along with tape) for the hazy depth of field and dusty drum crack of Adiele’s celebrated production style.
The first plate tees up Hydrate The Hustle’s hypnotic percolations and shoegazing R&B coos beside other highlights in Space Jam Money, which almost tips into a trap inversion of Origin Unknown’s Valley Of The Shadows, the Clams Casino style crack of Kill That Shout and a haunting soul burn in Court Vision starring Evy Jane.
Second plate is just as strong. His Ratking bandmate Wiki jumps on the cloud-soul flex of Nothing To Hide accompanied by Devonte Hynes a.k.a Blood Orange, whereas Jumpball twists down like some stray from Actress’ Ghettoville, and grimy kingpin Novelist cools out, UK R&G style, on No More Stress.
Back on his I Am Grime label, Jammz follows his Local Action dealings with three vocal bangers
Shemzy sends for Theresa May in the highly strung Right Now; Scott Garcia jumps on It’s a London Thing featuring possibly the only reference to Homebase in a grime tune, ever; P Money goes at 100mph over the swampy murk of What’s Man Saying?
Teklife’s Taso pumps a full barrel of west coast footwork zingers featuring his pals, DJ Rashad, DJ Spinn, Gant-Man, DJ Manny, DJ Tre, and DJ Taye.
We’re detecting some strong UK flavours on three of the eight cuts, from the hybrid liquid D&B roll of Bussin to a sort of iced-out grime/trap feel licked into In The Green Room, and the unmistakable dubstep/jungle influences that riddle the jump-up mongrel, Murda Bass.
The rest of the set leans toward dopest west coast-meets-Chicago styles, whether in full swing boogie mode with New Start feat. DJ Rashad and DJ Spinn to the hair-kissing soul swerve of AM Track, with a booming drop of rudeness in Don’t Get Mad for ruffneck balance.
Killer minimalist rhythms. RIYL Mark Fell, Rian Treanor, Dale Cornish, Ripatti
CPU’s Computer Club follow NYZ’s cracking ALG 118B with a taut lesson in pure, rhythmelodic machine cadence from Aesthete.
Sheffield-based musician, cycling enthusiast and clothing designer Thom Barnett is behind Aesthete, whose Obfuscation is one of the niftiest experimental techno EPs we’ve heard in 2016.
Working with the barest palette of bass kicks and spare Roland percussion, Barnett treats the grid like a noumenal loom, weaving and warping his rhythms with needlepoint precision.
The staccato micro-mechanics of Too Keen appear to kern the dynamics of Mark Fell’s Sensate Focus volumes close to Dale Cornish’s Clap exercises, whereas the super dry but playful swerve of Zaire splits the difference between Jlin’s unique syncopation and Rian Treanor’s stinging minimalism, and Igloo is just ice cold techno futurism, clipped and cut tight in-the-pocket.
Terrific piece of retro-vintage electro-pop and breaker’s funk from FM synthesis whizz Tom Parker a.k.a. Daddy Long Legs.
Steeped in the styles of The Human League, Japan, New order, Intergalactic Lover sounds like some long lost northern english pop gem from the early ‘80s, whereas The Club is a super tight slice of electro-funk looking to latin Miami and New York for fecund inspiration and glowing perspiration.
Clod-hopping industrial ructions from December, inscribing his name on Mannequin after touring the houses of Blackest Ever Black’s A14, Jealous God, In Paradisum and Where To Now? since 2014.
These are some of the French producer’s chewiest joints, giving something gristly to gnaw on with the sloshing EBM prods, 2 and Park 1, whereas Bright Red dips to a grotty, recoiling steppers’ schematic glancing at Powell or Beau Wanzer, and The Pit canters like a prime Arabian steed flashing its teef under the darkroom UVs.
This stuff works.
Niche N Bump, the promising yung London label inherently affiliated with the Wifey club nights, turns out two eerily rugged Beneath riddims backed with a badbwoy Swing Ting remix.
Man-of-the-moment, Beneath brings a Sheffield-meets-London warehouse sound with spooky organ chords and pensive atmosphere punctuated by woodblock ricochets and swaggering subs on 'Strike A Pose', and proper death knell dread vibes with the brute UK house torque of 'Bellz' on the flip. Wifey's Manchester-bassed cousins, street rave commanders Swing Ting, give the latter a lick of dapper Northern pressure with tight, in-the-pocket synth fibrillations and retuned subs for a smoother, gangsta-style ride. TIPPED!
Crystallised bleep techno, hard house and acid jackers from ya boy Vin Sol; hitting up the glass-rubbing tweaks and rolling subs of Creepin’ In alongside the electro-acid tang of Ineffect and a Paranoid London-esque jacker named Red Alert, before going all Robert Armani on your ass with the wall-bucking likes of Sky Pager and the Roland shunt of 808 Trash Pile.
Featuring one of the greatest switch-ups of any techno record, ever, Maurizio’s 12 minute Domina spends precisely half the track lulling you into the deepest trance before an immense 2nd wind sets the whole thing on a kicking new course. Doesn’t sound that special on paper but f**k me it works. Flipside is Carl Craig’s immense Mind Mix, filleting the original sample of Manuel Göttsching’s Die Dominas into the deepest Detroit dream sequence. An almighty record.
Finally the missing piece of the puzzle arrives, the early and absolute classic slice of genre-defining techno from Basic Channel under their Quadrant guise.
Infinition was originally licensed to Carl Craig's Planet E imprint in 1993, and also Renaat's now sadly defunct R & S label, and became an instant sell out on both slightly differing versions and has been sought after ever since. Here Moritz re-masters the two cut's Infinition and Hyperprism onto a loud and crisp 45rpm press. The demand for Basic Channel records has been hyped of late due to the 10th anniversary re-press of the original 9 releases, this further 12" completes the early evolution of their sound, and the bare 909 drums and classic washy synth's show the early leaning's toward the Phylyps Trak style cuts, and their first foray in to the annals of techno history.
Hyperprism has a more acidic feel, and a definite Planet E/Detroit sound with the lush strings backing the modulating acid line, while the subtle drum programming makes the groove sit superbly under the music, a lush and deep as you like vintage cut from Basic Channel finally available. An unmissable re-issue of a bona-fide classic, and remember kids - we've been waiting for far too long for a record to land with a new Basic Channel catalogue number - here it is. Legendary.
Deary me, the best has very definitely been saved til last with this quite remarkable final installment for Basic Channel's 'See Mi Yah' series of remixes.
Volume four goes way back to Basic channel's roots for a double-headed session that features one of Carl Craig's most astonishing remixes on the A-side and a simply terrifying, almost unfathomably deep spacious techno reworking from Basic Channel themselves on the flip. Short of Mark and Moritz resurrecting Techno's most infamous label and delivering the fabled 10th installment in its peerless catalogue, it really is hard to imagine anything else delivering quite the same sense of satisfaction to anyone who's ever followed their flawless work to date.
(Suburban Knight + DJ Pierre’s Wild Pitch Mixes) ÷ King Tubby x X³ = Basic Channel’s Q1.1. Or something. Stone cold essential techno classic. As ever; mastered and cut at Dubplates & Mastering, pressed at Pallas.
Semtek provides a pair of ruggedest, weirdest house rollers on Niche N Bump's annual outing.
The Don't Be Afraid label boss swaggers up with sullen subs and glass-rubbing synth tones in the crooked 'Bad Teeth' landing somewhere between Beneath's dread rollers and the bashment budge of Swing Ting's Samrai, both previous contributors to the tightly defined label. However, 'John Of Worcester' is a much stranger number, bringing forward those piercing synths over melting subs and slo-mo junglist tics to sound something like the mutant 'ardcore offspring of Arpanet. TIPPED!
Etch adopts a Cosmic B-Boy lean for his local Brighton bro’s at Purple City Soufflé after acclaimed breakbeat assaults on Sandman Chronicles, Wisdom Teeth, Keysound and many more.
The vibe is turnt down this time, keeping it hazy mazy for lazy days on the green and such with six track of squashed groove and crimped hooks colliding US and UK sensibilities side-on.
Basic Channel present a full 14 minute version of 'Q-Loop' backed with first ever vinyl cuts of 'Q 1.2' and 'Mutism' - previously found on the 'BCD' (1995) and Scion's 'Arrange And Process Basic Channel Tracks' releases.
Need we say any more?
Absolute masterpiece: a seminal lesson in the art of purified dancefloor minimalism and hypnosis. Goes with quite literally any other house or techno record at the same tempo and makes it infinitely better. We could listen to that bassline All. Day. Long.