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London's pioneering Warp imprint has gone through many transformations and guises over the last two decades - all of them on-point, of course - but they've really done it this time with these Cargaa series, a batch of releases dedicated specifically to the recent Lisbon sound that has been jump-started by the Principe label. There's six smoking joints on here, all of them wet, wild and heavy on the Angolan-style percussion. The full marks here go to DJ Maboku's remix of DJ Lilocox's "Terraxo Electrico", a broken down mass of deranged and grimey house beats, and "Somos Todos Malucos" by DJ Firmeza that you gotta hear to believe!
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Having come to light through her captivating Movement LP and a series of singles for Rvng Intl, Holly Herndon is a shining example of the ground that can be covered through the academic approach to electronic music production. That so much of her distinctive sound is powered by the canny processing of her own voice only adds to the impact, and so it is on her follow up album which lands on indie giant 4AD. The drama and shocking sound design is palpable at every turn, with more noticeably song-based structures coming through at times, only to be side-swiped by brutal drum programming at others. With a style that no-one else could dream of coming close to, Herndon has confirmed herself to be amongst the great electronic artists of our times.
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Having wowed hearts and minds with his Dinas Oleu LP for Fear Of Flying, Leif has been quietly issuing out singles for sister label Sudden Drop, but now this new release finds him branching out to pastures new for Bristolian imprint Idle Hands. With the new territory comes a new slant towards broken beat productions, as "Life Through Analogies" layers up all manner of disorientating found sounds around a shaking beat. Leif's knack for serene melodies is still intact though, as is evident on the sumptuous "My Heart Stopped Beating", while "Salix" represents the moodiest of all the tracks. It's a marvelous fresh move for an ever-developing artist, and it sounds right at home on Idle Hands.
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Back in the early 2000s, Capetown's Felix Laband seemed destined for greatness, with his 2004 full-length for Compost, Dark Days Exit, being an off-kilter Balearic delight. Eleven years have passed since then, with Deaf Safari - an album some three years in the making, apparently - delivering his first material of any sort since 2006. It's something of a tour de force, all told, with a huge range of samples - African preachers, gospel singers, local politicians, blues men and whispering children all feature - accompanying a range of melodious, atmosphere and breezy tracks. It touches on many styles, too - deep house, downtempo beats, ambient, Balearica, deep two-step and glassy-eyed electronica, for starters - but retains a unique perspective and musical voice throughout.
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You have to admire Dark Entries for their dedication to sourcing obscure music. These tracks were recorded in a Copenhagen suburb during the early 80s and subsequently released in a limited edition of just 100 cassettes. Now the US label has re-mastered and reissued them on vinyl for the first time. Guld boasts a naive, lo-fi feeling, from the dreamy synths of "Fortryliet" and the sensuous "Bent" to the scratchy guitar and post-punk pop of "Alices Udvej" and the primitive rhythm of "Leifs Jamre". It's not all wide-eyed reveries though and the eerie synths of "Den Kolde Skulder" suggest that Guld had a more malign streak. Whether Dark Entries can unearth more of his material remains to be seen, but if anyone can do it, the San Fran label can.
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Schleissen 1 marks the beginning of a major, four-part project from Stuart Leath's Emotional Response label; an in-depth exploration of the "outer reaches" of drone and ambient. It's a grand scheme, highlighted perfectly by the grandiose scale of Serbian maverick Abul Mogard's opener - a hypnotic, 19-minute exploration of modular drone music that's as freaky as it is beautiful. Stefan Schwander dons his now familiar Harmonious Thelonious alias on the flip, laying down two brilliantly melodious synthesizer pieces inspired by the cyclical compositions of acclaimed minimalist composer Steve Reich. Both pieces are borderline stunning, and more than worth the admission price.
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2015 is Planet Mu's 20th anniversary year and it's fair to say they are completely bossing it with a succession of already classic albums from Jlin, Drew Lustman, and John T. Gast. We can add to this growing pile Reflekzionz, the latest album in a thoroughly compelling recording career from Nick 'Ekoplekz' Edwards, and a third for Planet Mu following the two he committed in 2014. Described by Planet Mu as invoking a "blurry, saturated false-memory of the leftfield electronica" that soundtracked Edwards' formative years in the early '90s, the 12 tracks come across as vintage Ekoplekz with red-lining synths and bubbling percussive processing in abundance.
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When two producers at the edges of house and electronica like Fell and Erik 'Errorsmith' Wiegand get together, it is no surprise that the results sound out of this world. The only reference point is Workshop's roster, but Protogravity is situated at the very fringes of that sound. The title track is pieced together from tinny, hollowed out drums and fragmented, spliced vocals. In a similar vein is "Atomic 80", with its dark, drum-led rhythm and subtle samples. However, neither track can compare to "Cuica Digitales". Underpinned by tinkling bells, its chanting vocal sample is more hypnotic than a vat-load of peyote.
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A couple of years back, Death Waltz decided to pair up Umberto and Antoni Maiovvi for a live re-score of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. That resulted in the brilliant - and now suitably hard-to-find - The Hook & Pull Gang 12". Here, they join forces once more, this time for a full-length soundtrack to an imaginary film, Law Unit. Unsurprisingly, horror influences, vintage synthesizers, frightening textures, John Carpenter references and thrusting drum machine grooves abound, as the duo focuses on being simultaneously creepy and riotously entertaining. For the most part, it works brilliantly, resulting in a wide variety of downtempo and upbeat mood pieces, heavy on evocative aural imagery.