Are Szare trying to imbue techno with meaningful messages or merely injecting some fun into a musical form not known for its humour? This writer suspects the former is the case. While track names like "Crop Failure" suggest that they have an environmental agenda, the reality is that Rain God is a continuation of the stepping techno sound they explored so articulately on last year's Lost Shapes album. Tracks like "The Silver Number" and the aforementioned "Crop Failure" resound to percussive whirrs and robust, lurching bass tones. There are deviations from this sound on the more abrasive, snare-rolling "Buried Rails" and the rumbling, organic drums of "Overcharged by the Pump", but in the main this is skilfully executed techno served up with a wry sense of humour.
Zora Jones might be just a newcomer to you and I, but her tunes tell a different story. For starters, tunes like "Oh Boy" sound fit for almost any label that dabbles in a bit of experimental electronica, and her lo-fi feel remind us of artists like Hype Williams. However, on tracks like "Too Many Tears" or "Zui", Jones injects a clear dose of soulful UK vibes, and it's no wonder these tunes are getting playback on all of London's underground stations. Our track of choice on here has to be "Psilocybin", though, as we're kind of in to that wonky, psychedelic electro-grime. Definitely one to check!
PC Music affiliate and rising star SOPHIE is up next on Glasgow's Numbers imprint. Having previously worked with the likes Madonna and LE1F, he brings his already established take on pop to this full length. Somewhere between post UK bass, electro-pop and minimal R&B would be the best way to describe the oddball music on offer here. There's the vocal led pop mutations on "Bipp" and "Just Like We Never Said Goodbye" but not forgetting the gorgeous symphonies on "Elle" . "Lemonade" and "Hard" are proper bass assaults merged with Top 40 sounds if they were on acid; an unholy mixture that somehow works. The album is wildley diverse with "Msmsmsm" merging electro, trap and trance aesthetics in unorthodox methods while towards the end "L.O.V.E." is a beatless and experimental exercise.
Having previously dazzled with spool-based outings on Reckno and Sweat Lodge Guru, Andrew G Thomson brings his prolific, expressive sound to Speaker Footage, a label started earlier in 2015. There is a lot of information to take in on All Threes Again, as 13 full-bodied musical experiments veer between lo-fi synthesised madness and a more organic, indie-led sound. There is also space afforded for off-kilter field recording hooks, as on the title track, while the raw drum machine thrill and oddball vocal wobbles of "Sweat Saliva" sticks in the mind a treat, all adding to the distinctive charm of this curious album.
Rocketnumbernine, the project of brothers Tom and Ben Page, has been closely tied to a very specific type of London sound ever since their debut as a duo on Kieren Hebden's Text Records. Since then, they've also released on London's Soul Jazz Records, and have offered a wonky, experimental yet richly musical sort of house music. They now land on the excellent Border Community with two new tracks, the first one being too far from both electronica and house to properly categorise it in either one. The point is that the pair's music is deep and explorative, blurring the lines between electronic genres one bit at a time. Certainly recommended.
Having recently stepped out with Mika Vainio for the Peau Froide, Leger Soleil album on Cosmo Rhythmatic, celebrated French guitarist and experimentalist Franck Vigroux has now linked up with British pianist Matthew Bourne for a track on Leaf that finds the pair covering Kraftwerk's "Radioactivity" for the Radioland covers compilation. In their hands the pioneering track drifts into star-gazing, hopeful electronics the likes of which have soundtracked optimistic cosmos documentaries for decades. With ebbing tides of arpeggios and iridescent blasts of chiming synths the pair chart an upward course on a grand scale befitting of the source material.
It's been a rapid rise over the past few years for Alejandro Ghersi's Arca alias. Following some years spent as Nuuro, his current project launched with aplomb on UNO in 2012 before moving on to Hippos In Tanks, and then last year shored up at Mute with the Xen album in a demonstration of true ascendance through the leftfield ranks. Now Ghersi returns to Mute with a new album Mutant, which sees further exploration of his detailed, unusual style touching on elements of noise, bombastic ambient and neoclassical. "Soichiro" lays down wispy threads of trap in amongst dramatic stop-start dynamics while "En" flirts with lingering piano and static interference in the most artful of ways, just two examples of an album loaded with surprise and intrigue.
We Manage With Love, often stripped-down to simply WMWL, is a Scandinavian booking agency with a very particular type of aesthetic, and that's a great thing seeing as they've just started a label and proceeded to drop bombs, left, right and centre. Their second release comes from the shadowy Christian Lappalainen, who debuts here with an album made up of bizarre electronic patterns that somehow recall the spirit and the energy of the Northern hemisphere. Patterns are slow and glacial, the sonics themselves bound in a sort of folky village charm. It's electronic music that is both playful and singular to the ear. Is there even a little bit of 303 going on in there? Dig in!