Reviewed this week
Three years on from his first Talamanca System collaboration with Tuff City Kids duo Gerd Janson and Phillip Lauer, Mark Barrott gets the gang back together for an album of typically loved-up excursions. International Feel's eccentric press release describes it as "a sunburned imagination of a day and night spent on Ibiza during a moment in time that probably never was". Given the album's repeated nods to baggy, piano-laden Italian house, the saucer-eyed, sunrise-friendly brilliance of 808 State's "Pacific State", sun-kissed post Italo-disco chuggers, percussion-laden tropical workouts and head-in-the-clouds ambience, it's actually rather an apt description. It's shamelessly Balearic from start to finish, but pulls it off with an authenticity that others could only dream of.
Having spent much of 2016 focusing on the 20th anniversary of his impressive Freerange label, Jamie "Jimpster" Odell returns with his long-awaited sixth full-length, his first album since 2013's much admired Porchlight & Rocking Chairs. As you might expect, Silent Stars is a musically expansive affair, with the producer's usual floor-friendly deep house workouts being accompanied by tracks that pay homage to starry jazz-funk (brilliant opener "Migrations"), synthesizer-heavy new age ambient (the wonderful "Sylvanshine"), loose and languid Balearica (Jinadau collaboration "The Sun Comes Up"), Floating Points Ensemble style jazz ("Tau Tona"), modern soul ("Everytime") and even a touch of Osunlade style tribal bounce ("Silent Stars"). In other words, it's superb.



Escape From New York's 1984 cut "Fire In My Heart" has long been considered something of a Balearic classic. Original copies of the Rollerball Records release 12" are hard to come by, though, so this digital version is more than welcome. The original version - all slo-mo electro drums, rubbery dub bass, exotic melodies and intoxicating vocals - is joined by the now infamous Instrumental Dub version, which has been a staple in Balearic DJs' sets for more than 30 years. If that wasn't enough, there's also a chance to savour to woozy, dub-influenced synth-pop of original bonus cut "Won't Be Your Fool".
More than a few eyebrows were raised when Sasha returned last year with an album of previously unheard ambient and IDM cuts recorded over the course of his lengthy career. Here, that set gets the remix treatment, with a mixture of scene stalwarts and rising stars behind the mixing desk. While there are some gentle dancefloor revisions - see Max Cooper's melodious and atmospheric tech-house interpretation of "Channel Deq" and Matthew Dear's hypnotic, late night take on "Pontiac" - many of the most rewarding and entertaining remixes are those that take a more horizontal approach. In this category, you'll find Sasha's own rising, near symphonic version of "Pontiac" and a stunning, standout mix of "Abacus" by Warp Records veterans Plaid.
Earthboogie - aka London soundsystem owners Izaak Gray and Nicola Robinson - make their wax debut with three raw, groove laden disco blends. Digging deep into both afrofunk and Italo roots, there's a universal musical language that grabs you physically across all three cuts. "Mr Mystery" sits between Booker T & The Mgs and Daniele Baldelli while "Route Ten To Interzone" is an energetic township jam with added synth sheen. Finally we're seduced by the Balearic weaves, ripples, twangs and horns of "The EB Theme". A rainbow of vibes from start to finish, this one's hard to put down.
The 14th release on the fast-rising Play Pal imprint comes from Skelesys, whose previous outings have been on the techier side of house. This time round, the Beunos Aries born, Berlin-based producer has decided to flip the script. Opener "Nebula" is a pitched-down chugger laden with heavy analogue bass and warped electronics, while "This is Our Favourite Day" wraps stylish, post punk style guitar solos around a Nein style psychedelic nu-disco groove. There are more eyes-closed guitar solos to be found on "The Path", a dark and foreboding number full of incessant drum machine handclaps, wonky electronics and twisted bass. Of the three accompanying remixes, it's Peza's sparkling, Italo-disco influenced re-make of "Nebula" that stands out.
Coyote's wide-reaching assortment of post-balearic disco sounds never ceases to please our demanding eardrums, and the duo have done it once again with this tidy EP to launch the Eclectics imprint. "Too Late To Be Scared" travels majestically from start to finish, swaying its groove with slow, liquid-like synths that melt over mid-tempo house drums; there's a Dark Drift mix which ups the tempo a notch and lands on heavier 4/4 territories, while the ambient version revels in an airy, almost angelic wave of sounds that bounce along with the help of subtle subbass injections. A class outing.
Any new release from reclusive Norwegian ambient colossus Geir Jennsen is cause for celebration. The Petrified Forest was inspired by a 1936 movie of the same name, the plot of which revolves around a world-weary British writer meeting a fellow idealist in an isolated diner in the middle of the Arizona desert. Jenssen's music has always been cinematic in tone - think widescreen visions with multiple related movements, sitting somewhere between icy loneliness and comforting homeliness - so it's little surprise to find that The Petrified Forest regularly hits the mark. Evocative, atmospheric and quietly melodiousness, it's a mini album chock full of brilliant downtempo electronica.
Edinburgh's Hidden Orchestra are back on Tru Thoughts with that fine jazz-ambient crossover, a particular strain of pseudo electronica that pretty much no one else has ventured down. This is primarily because this kind of stuff is rather complex to put together - a tune like "Still" requires you to appreciate the intricacies of jazz drumming while still being in tune with the looseness of drone and sparse sonics. There's a tougher edit which follows, and a total ambient mix without drums! Beautiful.
Nicolai Kornerup and Hannah Schneider were originally 'companions' before looking to each other with artistic intentions in their eyes. The result was an improvisational electronic act called AyOwA. Following a summer spent experimenting with vintage synths, reel-to-reels tape machines, and Schneider's ethereal voice, they came up with a series of dreamy, fuzzed-out arty synth pop songs. Quickly snapped up by Music for Dreams in the US, we now the six tracks of "Eremit" to swoon over, and frankly, we've fallen head over heels...just as you will too!
Fred V and Grafix continue their seemingly never-ending run of form for the Hospital crew, and they don't even need to release full EPs to get people's attention these days; a simple, one-track monster is all that's needed to satisfy the eager masses. Travelling at a tempo that seems to balance between r&b and dubstep, these two know the right formula to success, and its clear that "Sugar" is one track that's intended to attract the lovers. What we love about it are those crescendos that continue to tease throughout the tune; when you think a massive baseline and a fast rhythm is going to drop, the duo somehow manages to pull it back to a sexy, seductive pop vibe that we're digging big time. Yes.
Following last year's compilation of archival recordings by Suso Saiz, Jamie Tiller and Tako's Music From Memory present their twentieth release with an album of new works by this Spanish electronic music pioneer. Recorded in Madrid between January and February 2016, these are Saiz's first presentations of new music in nearly 10 years. Suso, his son Emil and pianist Raph Killhertz set out to explore a rather conceptual album where according to MFM it "became something of a mystical journey, drawing on aspects of minimalism and modernism." The music is embedded in textured natural soundscapes and spoken word passages, which were recorded and processed by Suso himself. Whilst it sounds very much like an electronic album, there were also many acoustic elements played in Suso's inimitable hypnotic way, slowly drawing the listener into a transportive state or lucid dream.
Matt Flores' material spans all the way back to the mid 2000's, when he was delivering minimalistic waves of house and techno for labels such as Compost Black, so it's safe to say that this dude ain't no newcomer! In fact, it's also clear that Flores' style and outlook has developed significantly since then; whereas his tunes used to be composed of fairly rigid dance formulas, this new LP for O*RS is a much vaster and introspective journey. The breadth of Sidechained Escapism surpasses all expectations; Flores has clearly focused his efforts on painting a much wider sound, one which digs deep into deep and lingering electronics. With hints of IDM and synth-pop in here, this is a colourful electronica LP that makes for the perfect companion to moments of relaxation and deep thought. Cooling, seductive and elegant, this is Matt Flores' most complete work to date.
Junto Club kicked off Snap Crackle & Pop late last year, and now the label returns with the debut solo release from London-based outfit DEEDS. While Rollo and Kiri Inglis may have previously popped up on an obscure compilation on Anti-Ghost Moon Ray, this record should see their coldwave sound shoring up with many more adventurous listeners. "Video Dreams" is a beautifully melancholic slice of electronica while "Unknown" reaches for euphoric heights. Remixes from Bezier and The Field round the record out as a wonderful exercise in emotive home listening electronics for sensitive souls.
Some lovely vocoder pop courtesy of London duo Alexander Keefe & Joakim Kristiansen aka Teachers: actually real life teachers in fact. One of the guys released previously on WT as Tagwell Woods and the label claims that this "works at home or in the club." True that. This is convincing '80s synthpop from the machines right through to the methodology and recording techniques (it seems!) and even hints at taking influence from legends such as Erasure, Pet Shop Boys or Stephin Merritt's Magnetic Fields project. Comes with colour picture sleeve with photo realistic painting by Gabe Benzur.

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