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Reviewed this week
Given his impressive track record, hopes are naturally high for Bonobo's sixth album, Migration, which is his first full-length since 2013. Happily, it's a majestic affair, with the producer delivering another sumptuous set of tracks. It was partly inspired by an extended period musing on the nature of personal identity, and the role that nationality plays in that. This concept is translated via thoughtful lyrics, and songs that draw musical influence from the four corners of the globe. It's not a big stylistic leap, of course - his bread and butter remains yearning, emotion-rich downtempo music built around gently jazzy grooves and impeccable live instrumentation - but given that few artists do it better than Bonobo, we'll forgive him for that.
Aussie adventurer Tornado Wallace seems to be getting better with age. Over recent years, he's delivered a string of brilliantly evocative, sun-kissed releases for the likes of ESP Institute, Beats In Space and Second Circle. Lonely Planet is his debut album, and it could well be his strongest release to date. The seven tracks are dreamy, trippy and atmospheric - we'd expect nothing less - and draw on a far wider palette of Balearic influences than we've heard on previous experiences. Coupled with a new-found desire to include more live instrumentation (particularly glistening, Peter Green style guitar passages, drums and exotic flutes), the result is an album that's as evocative, dreamy and humid as anything he's produced to date. In other words, it's a great album and comes highly recommended.
Munich minimal prankster Jichael Mackson is back! The producer known to his Mum as Boris Steffen appears for the third time on Vincent Lemieux and Stephen Beaupre's Musique Risque and it's his first return since 2010's fabulous Just In Time EP. The Catch 22 EP starts off with the deep and driving and, dare we call it: progressive house groove of "Troublermxshort" which is reminiscent of older tracks like "Hokus Pokus". There's also "GTI"; equally deep and on the proggy side but using an adrenalised and suspenseful sidechained melody which pumps away gloriously. Finally we've got the deep and immersive ambient house of "Bob In Motion". There's always a mellower and dubby track on Mackson's releases and for many they're favourites; this ethereal stunner does not disappoint.
Berlin-based Argentine Leo Grunbaum has a reputation for atmospheric, soundtrack style deep house music that draws heavily on Balearica, tech-house and nu-disco for inspiration. Interestingly, this outing on All Day I Dream appears to be his first single for nearly six years. He starts in confident mood, wrapping Aerial East's deliciously atmospheric vocals around twinkling pianos and tactile, tech-tinged grooves on brilliant opener "Bloom". Safa provides a brilliant, Balearic-minded downtempo remix of the same track, full of Flamenco style Spanish guitars and swirling atmospherics, before Victor Magro joins Grunbaum for the rich, jazz-flecked deep house jam "Amarone". The wavering sax lines, metronomic grooves and foreboding chords of "Cruxes Credo" complete a fine package.
Helmed by Asaf Samuel and Katzele, Malka Tuti transmits cosmic boogie sounds from Tel Aviv that come from lesser-known sources. On their fifth release they turn to The Kloom, a loose-fit operation of unknowns making a debut appearance with the powerful strut of "40 Gram Beton". Mixing slow disco grooves with ranging synths and warm piano notes, it's an infectious track that provides a prime jump-off point for the cast of remixers that round out the release. Die Wilde Jagd adds a more mechanical coldwave pulse to the track while Khidja gets lost in a swirling trip of a version, with the label throwing in a radio edit as a bonus.
UK duo Coyote have pretty much become the unofficial Balearic kings of the post 2000 era. Through their releases on Is it Balearic?, Coyote have kept the Spanish islands' tradition alive and kicking, and it's clear that they are mong the few to truly understand what constitutes a Balearic tune and what doesn't. This is not for us to worry about; the only thing we're concerned about is how stunning this new "Cairo" single is, a long, explorative journey of a track that uses a wide array of musical tones to express that inimitable style that can be heard at early mornings on an Ibizian beach. Gorgeous guitar riffs, progressive beats, and that laidback style that has come to define their sound. Check the dub, too, for an extra deep sonic massage.
What we love about the Fat! label is its ability to shine bright in whichever domain it likes to delve into. On top of that, it also never seems to disappoint in terms of scouting out new talent from across the electronic stratosphere. Ted Jasper is a newcomer to the scene, but the producer is clearly able to deliver the goods from the get-go, and this four-tracker sounds like it was made by a producer with quite a few years of experience behind them. We like to think of its as electronic pop, especially on the opening "Little Bit More", thereafter transforming into something more of an r&b experiment. James Blake is someone who this guy has much in common with, but Jasper's tunes are perhaps even more far-reaching in their ideas and influences.
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