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!
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.
Having previously impressed with their reissue of Patrick Cowley's brilliant, all-synthesizer soundtrack to obscure '70s gay porn flick School Daze, Dark Entries and Honey Sound System once again join forces to shine a light on the high energy disco pioneer's work for San Francisco's Fox Studios. Unsurprisingly, it's another impressive collection, and features material recorded for a number of different pornographic films. There are naturally more up-tempo moments - see "Somebody To Love Tonight", which would later be re-recorded with Sylvester, and the synth-weirdness-meets-jazz-funk brilliance of "5oz of Funk" - but it's the impressively cosmic and exotic ambient moments, such as the stand-out "Timelink" and "Jungle Magic", that really stand out.
Just when you thought that the world couldn't take more moody Italian techno along come Pact Infernal to deliver The Descent. There is a twist to this rather macabre tale however, with long-serving Stroboscopic Artefacts boss Lucy stepping in - quite literally - to redress the misery balance. On his 'Cosmic' version of "The Descent", he lets the groove roll and sway, but despite coming cased in a steely shell, this version has a light touch throughout. Better still is his 'Subterranean' take on the same track; the percussion parts are acted out by an uncoiled bicycle chain and coupled with the steely, stepping rhythm, makes for the stuff of countless teens' nightmares.
Well it's that time of the year again. Wolfgang Voight compiles the best in ambient for his beloved label and it's more of the same high calibre ambient excursions you'd expect, like in previous editions. Starting off in truly breathtaking fashion with Stephan Matieu's "April Im Oktober", we're then treated to some new material by British icons The Orb, who present us with "Alpine Dawn" further testament to their otherworldly sense for sound. Label mainstay Mikkel Metal appears also with the sombre yet mesmerising cathedral drone of "Titan", as does Leandro Fresco, twice in fact. With both his sublime remix of Dave DK's "Veira" and his own "Configuracion de Atequa" featuring gorgeously uplifting tones reminiscent of old Gas material. Speaking of which, Voight himself appears with his mindblowing "Ruckverzauberung" from 2012 getting a brilliant modern revision by Thore Pfeiffer. Yet again, it goes without saying; this is essential listening.
NYC sound artist and Software label boss Daniel Lopatin is back with his eagerly awaited eighth studio album. A self-proclaimed 'cybernetic rock' album influenced by his time touring with Nine Inch nails and Soundgarden in 2014. There's '"Ezra" which reaches near trance moments, the glitchy R&B digitalism of "Sticky Drama" which features a turn, mid track, reaching a level of mayhem comparable to Shapednoise. There is a moment of what we can only describe as 'indie trance' on the psychotic epic "Mutant Standard". Not forgetting the disturbed nu-gaze of "I Bite Through It", a real highlight on here. Commercial music was said to have influenced the album too. "Freaky Eyes" and "Lift" deconstruct pop music via sampling/resampling and loop points, adding Lopatin's own bizarre intricacies on top. He has undoubtedly become known as one of the most unique voices in electronic music today and this is further testament to his standing. Difficult listening for curious ears.
Having issued a mini-album from Fuxa earlier this year, Stuart Leath's tireless Emotional Response welcomes the Detroit band back to the label with an album recorded alongside Neil Mackay of Loop fame. Apollo Soyuz was originally released digitally earlier this year via bandcamp, but you can see why Leath would want to license it for a proper vinyl edition. The eight tracks form an exploration of the outer cosmos that is tinged with a deep psychedelia that will resonate warmly with fans of Emotional Response. From the space funk of the opening "Apollo Soyuz", Fuxa and Mackay lead the listener through galactic kosmische, spatial ambience and primal tape loop experiments and more with "Testz 1" a considered highlight.
Last year, David Moore's Bing & Ruth project - an ever-changing chamber music ensemble dedicated to blurring the boundaries between classic American minimalism, neo-classical and 1970s ambient - pitched up on RVNG INTL with the brilliant Tomorrow Is The Golden Age full-length. It was such a success, in fact, that the esteemed New York label has decided to reissue the group's hard-to-find 2010 album City Lake. They've thrown in a trio of tasty bonus tracks, but it's the original album - an emotion-rich mixture of Reich, Riley, Cage and Eno influences, cyclical themes, stretched-out builds and hauntingly distant vocals - that really sets the pulse racing. It truly is a thing of rare beauty, capable of stirring the sense through little more than subtle shifts in musical emphasis.
Much has changed since Mark Van Hoen debuted his melancholic take on electronic music with the ambient leaning Locust project for R&S offshoot Apollo way back in 1994. The producer has tried his hand at all sorts of experimental styles since - noise, drone, industrial etc. - but his commitment to the mood-shifting abilities of music remains in tact. Nightvision is typically evocative, utilizing modular and analogue synthesizers to create soundscapes that variously touch on neo-classical, ambient, cold-wave, post-dubstep (the brilliant "Bring It Back") and thrillingly hard-to-define downtempo workouts (see "Kojiki"). Throughout, it's Van Hoen's immaculate compositional skills that shine through.
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.
For this new project for his Versatile label, Parisian house veteran Gilb'r has embarked on a more academic venture that seeks the channel the work of pioneers such as Terry Riley, Duke Ellington and Robert Fripp into a series of live excursions with the help of musicians Fabrizio Rat and Giani Caserotto. Reportedly formed out of late night live takes based around various synthesiser sequences, the music is unsurprisingly compatible with early electronic music in all its explorative glory. The likes of "Three Worlds" gives you an immersive bath of undulating melody to bask in, but there's space for beats on "Disco Blind" as well.
Having previously dazzled with his diversions into non-techno music on The Space Between People And Things and further back into his career, Anthony Child once again leaves Surgeon behind to indulge in a more personal kind of project. Reportedly recorded whilst in a jungle in Maui, as the title would suggest, this album for Editions Mego finds Child at his calmest, fusing the sounds naturally occurring around him with his own melodic pulsations. Of course creative retreats are nothing new, but when someone with such experience takes the controls in such a setting it's little wonder that such magical results ensue.
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.
Brooklyn's Booker Stardrum serves up a curious selection of experimental excursions on Burlington, Virginia's NNA Tapes. Starting out with the dark soundscape of "Bells" he then gets stuck in to some harsh noise experiments on "Bee Hive" (with its screeching guitar feedback over a a shattering drum solo and wayward arpeggio, somehow locking together) and the erratic and paranoid "Drim Dram" whose freestyle DIY drums and nefarious Hitchcock style ambience gel together in a frightening fashion. "From For I & II" are two parts of difficult listening which showcase Stardrum's fine execution of musique concrete with various bell sounds processed through layers of delay and distortion. Final track "Dozier" focuses on a psychotic arpeggio that desperately climbs its way through dense, transcendental pads and sublime analogue strings on this slowly evolving epic. A brilliant release and highly recommended.