Sam Shepherd has long been a master of the kind of ultra-deep, rolling, soft focus deep house that raises the spirits and soothes the soul. Even so, there's something incredibly special about "Nuits Sonores", the lead track from this must-have EP. Based around a deep, tactile groove and blessed with rising synth solos, dancing acid lines and his usual fireside Rhodes antics, the track rises magnificently for 12 spellbinding minutes. As it progresses, further elements make their way into the mix, until it reaches the kind of organic deep house climax that makes even the grumpiest souls go weak at the knees. Flip for "Nectarines", the kind of loose-limbed fusion of deep house sassiness, Detroit techno electronics and fluid jazz drumming at which Shepherd has always excelled.
It's been a while since the last fresh outing of James Blake material, and he surfaces on his plenty active 1-800 Dinosaur imprint with some typically esoteric material that confirms he still exists in his own unique sound world. "200 Press" is a track that evolves with elegance, with an electro thread powering the track while around drift wild bass notes, displaced vocals and occasional chimes, and still it grows into a spellbinding crescendo infected with ghetto swagger. "200 Pressure" takes a more obscure and yet bombastic approach with strange punk inflections, lurid synth intervals and a lot of found sound disturbance. "Building It Still" by way of comparison lets a little of the more classical musicianship sneak in, leaving odd poem "Words That We Both Know" to round off the EP on an ambiguous but personal note.
Arriving in expanded form, complete with remixes from Com Truise, Bibio, Beacon and Christopher Willits, Tycho returns to regular home Ghostly International with Awake, his fourth full-length. It sees him in fine form, delivering a sun-bright set that melds blissful guitars and shoegaze textures with hazy electronics, warm grooves and orange-hued atmospherics. Hansen is a master at creating unashamedly positive, evocative music, and Awake is full of these kind of smile-inducing moments. Aside from being impeccably well made, it is also pleasingly cheery. If you've yet to succumb to his charms, Awake is a great place to start.