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Off! This Kill The DJ label just keeps on hitting new grounds, and this new collab between Car and Red Axes is further proof of just how exciting this collective really is. Car has already featured prominently for the label, but Red Axes has been churning out beast after beast for labels like ESP Institute, Hivern Discs and many others of the same calibre. Although we have labelled this as cold wave, because is does indeed transpire feelings of chilly melancholia, the EP is basically a collection of mindful techno tunes for the more explorative of DJ's. From "Incognito" through to "2040", there is a feeling of pensiveness and true romanticism, the sort you don't often hear anymore and one that we're always on the hunt for. A heavy artillery of remixes come demo Il Est Vilaine, and Tom Furse with two mighty versions. TIP!!!
So you think you're up on all things bass, eh? Don't worry, if you've yet to discover the wonders of 'Beijing bass' though, because the Do Hits label are here to educate and inform. Do Hits Vol 4 collects 13 truly unique jams that seductively blend the old and new - traditional Chinese instrumentation and ultra-modern hip-hop influenced beats. Highlights include Jason Hou and inner Mongolian multi-instrumentalist Yider's distorted digital electronica "Data Forest", Jyun Jyun's panpipe electro pop workout "Fire Monkey" and the futuristic neon strip club grooves of "Yin Kou Chi Nyu" by Duanger. Welcome to the future.
Danny 'Legowelt' Wolfers describes the music he makes under the Occult Orientated Crime alias as "an accumulation of 20 years of musical research and training, and what affect it has on the brain". Read into that what you will; in practice, his OOC output allows Wolfers to explore the more deep and cosmic end of the ambient spectrum, with sly nods towards jazz and movie soundtracks amongst the Motor City synthesizers, buried spoken word vocals and intergalactic chord progressions. The fantastically titled Just A Clown On Crack is the first OOC release to make it to wax, and effortlessly recalls the early '90s glory days of ambient house and intelligent techno, whilst still retaining many of Wolfers' stylistic trademarks.
Traum Schallplatten goes in large for this remix package of Mario Hammer's 2015 album as Mario Hammer and The Lonely Robot. German duo Extrawelt turn in two melodically sweet revisions of album opener "Mono No Aware", while Stil Vor Talent's Jonas Mantey does a white noise, techno booming remix of "Sirimiri (Hammersche Modularverschaltung)". The bleeps and Moderat-like soul on Sine Sleeper's remix to "Nyctophilia" gets real heavy, while ambient sessions come from Mario Hammer himself for an abstract, emotive and classical sounding remix to "Misodocktakleidist" - but it's Ian Max Mauch's Granular rework to "Mono No Aware" that hits the B Pitch Control, IDM chord the most.
Apron alumni Brassfoot, aka Tinto Brassalini, has been making all the right moves since his first appearance on Funkineven's label back in 2014 alongside Lord Tusk; along with a fine debut on UTTU he's committed two further 12"s to the Apron cause and slipped out some low-key cassettes with the unheralded J M S Khosah. Given his penchant for vintage electro motifs underpinning distorted percussion and wild electronics, it's no surprise to see Brassfoot has caught the cultured ear of Paul Du Lac who has duly invited the Londoner to contribute to his excellent Bio Rhythm label. At five tracks long, the Dreamstate Intercal 12" is quite the statement and the general corrosive feel of the music feels tight at home on a label that's championed the likes of Jamal Moss and Borft boss Jan Svensson.
The latest addition to the Sonic Groove roster is UNC, a producer from Italy. He opens his account on the US label with "Shesha", a spellbindingly hypnotic techno groove, which sounds like it was recorded at 20,000 leagues beneath the sea. By contrast, "Xellerate" is a densely tangled web of broken beats that is too abstract to work on the dance floor. "Anarchemy" sees UNC back in club mode with its dense, slamming beats and thundering, stepping rhythm hitting the listener like a breezeblock in the face. Finally, there's "Sanskrit Vinyasa"; with its nagging, insistent percussion and snaking bass, it is UNC's most subtle and sophisticated production so far.
It was about time that someone struck up a partnership between Fennesz and Jim O'Rourke, two respected names in the ambient kingdom and masters of the art form. "I Just Want You To Stay" is crest-fallen, a track dragged forwards by lonesome, dissolving synths that seem to melt and recompose with each new turn, making this an abstract song with plenty of momentum. "Wouldn't Wanna Be Swept Away", on the other hand, is less sculptured and loose around the edges, managing to retain movement and shape through its chirping bundle of bleeps and diluted melodies. You wouldn't expect anything less from these two.
With the likes of Batu drawing so much attention for his new bend on techno, how about a little appreciation for what Parris is doing. For an idea of what Parris has done with a 808 bass drum check out his Idle Hands debut then revert back to this 12"s woofing "Skeletal". With some light percussion added over the top, this track demands a proper dub soundsystem. It's a similar situation on "Bloom" too, only the bass has been turned down to allow for something a little more subtle... a little. Meanwhile "South East Of The Mountain" provides an alternative rhythm track with atmospheric marimbas and other African percussion giving the production as much an exotic flavour as it does an urban touch.
Ancient Monarchy welcomes back the darkly beats of Rhythmic Theory for a second time following the Bristol producer's Lucid State / Shores of Caladan 12" which opened the Berceuse Heroique sub-label's account last year. It's dropping around the same time as Parris' debut 12" on AM (don't miss that) with Rhythmic Theory still reeling from releases on Idle Hands and Blackest Ever Black's A14 imprint. This four-track EP serves up two syncopated techno cuts - "Travelling Without Moving" the hit - with "The Bends" simmering the bass in compensation for some extra reverb. The two beatless cuts veer into ambient dub techno territory with strokes of trance and rave thrown to not upset Echospace.
Much like the Fabric mix series, Late Night Tales has been a staple of the British compilation dynasty, and the label has somehow managed to consistently call upon some of the world's biggest and most interesting talents to demonstrate their skills behind the DJ decks, and to give us a tiny view into their tastes and influences. Iceland's Olafur Arnalds, a lo-fi artist who has steadily released nothing but quality on the Erased Tapes label, is asked to do the honours for the catalogu's 44th instelment, and we are seriously digging what this dude is into. Electronica is a bit of a cop-out term to describe this gear, but there is just so much diversity in here that it's simply impossible to categorise it under one roof. Maybe sci-fi electro soul would be a good term, as it manages to capture the mood and feel of these beautiful songs by the likes of Koreless, Jamie XX via Four Tet, Samaris, Arnois, and Arnalds' own music. Spot on once again, Late Night Tales!
The title track on Randomer's first release for Dekmantel is deceptive. Although the rhythm flails and rolls with the UK producer's usual sense of urgency, it is swathed in misty, hazy melodies. There is no such ambiguity on "My Ears Hurt"; earning its place on the label's UFO Series, the arrangement features a rhythm that weaves its way in and out of a myriad of tonal blips and bleeps. In contrast, "Rendell Pips" and "Music for Two Kalimbas" are powerful DJ cuts. In the absence of any unusual sideways turns, Randomer relies on tight drums, rolling rhythms and plunging breakdowns to lead the listener down the wormhole.
This second instalment of Adrian Sherwood At The Controls is as highly anticipated as the first chapter, and perhaps boasting even more quality across its 16 masterful re-edits of 80s and 90s dub-infused classics. The texture is Sherwood through and through, with the producer bringing that inimitable On-U Sound flair to each and every production he touches. Here, we have mainly material from the 1980s, a fine blend of post-punk and dub that makes total sense together; the highlights and must-haves include Pankow's "Boys & Girls" from 1987, "Music & Science Madness" by the great Lee Scratch Perry from the same year, and 1990's "Hold Some Version" originally from African Head Charge. To be fair, though, you should just hit the old ALL button when opting for download.
Mickey Pearce is back on Swamp81 with this highly anticipated new LP, the selfishly named Michael. However, we know that this is for good reason, because big dog MP is simply trying to say that he has a sound of his own; it's not one which necessarily does anything revolutionary, but it's certainly an individualistic stance within the bass-house spectrum. Surprisingly - for a Swamp release, that is - there are plenty of beatless shreds of ambient here, an introspective collection of sounds that develop into the more concrete pseudo house sound that we've come to associate with Mickey Pearce. Tunes like "Polyester" are the ones for the floor, but there are other beat-led moments such as "Cakes" which contain enough movement to be considered dance, but that still maintain a firmly leftfield stance. Whatever your tastes, Pearce is here to satisfy your needs.
Talk about art imitating life. Barotrauma is the second album on Subtext from Eric Holm, a commercial diver-turned musician. The title of this long player relates to a type of air pressure-related ear and lung injury that divers suffer from and the music therein is inspired by Holm's own time under water, specifically in the Nordic fijords. Featuring six tracks, the album manages to encapsulate the sense of calm and stillness, through passages of liquid ambience but also the occasional dread that isolation at depth brings. This is most audible on the black, brooding tones of "Enceladus" and the eerie flow of "Nereus Vent". It's a powerful, intense experience.
London's Touch imprint requires no introductions, and if you're even remotely into the experimental side of electronic music, you will have surely come across its timeless and genre-defining releases before. If the Touch label boss, John Wozencraft, finds new talent and release and album by them, then it's pretty safe to say that it'll be top quality material. Claire M Singer, as such, makes her debut here with seven spectral arrangements ranging from the utterly apocryphal to the downright moody. Much like the rest of her Touch associates, Singer is all about texture and kinetic form, transforming an incredibly abstract collection of sounds into something more melodic, and with a greater vision.
The opener of this expansive and often mind-altering LP had appeared on Room40 earlier this year as a taster, the dry and disparate sounds of "Dry Keys Echo In The Dark & Humid Early Hours" tempting listeners into something strange, wonderful and altogether surreal. In fact, much of this album is tainted in a noticeable glaze of decomposition and distortion; long tracks like "For A Language To Come", or the swampy "Sea Slug", and even the foreboding aura of "Unspeakable Within It", feel like they've been made with hands, not machines or software. Although the whole album is experiments with many different forms and styles, Toop's formula seems to be strictly DIY, a form of noise-filled ambient music that never strays too close to the darkness, but also never veers too much into the light. A fine work of balance and precision.
Barcelona-based Domestica deserves praise for releasing a second instalment of left of centre music from 80s band Son of Sam. The metallic drums and cut-up samples on "Hothouse" sound like a warped take on Art of Noise, while "Second Wasted Second" combines Siouxsie Sioux wails with white boy funk and wah wah guitar. In stark contrast are the noisy blasts and ambient, swirling sounds of "Come Here, Handsome", but it's only a temporary divergence as the Linn Drum kicks back in on the electro funk of "Playground" and "You Got Me". It makes for one of this year's more endearing reissues.
2016's has been an important year for French producer Kaumwald; he first came through on In Paradisum with a bit of nosebleed techno, and then immediately inserted himself into the Opal Tapes crew, coming through herein with his second EP for the label. Rap Nui Clan is noise music, there's no doubt about that, but we strongly feel that it's the sort of rhythmic noise that could potentially be danced to by the more expansive minds out there on the dance floors. "Rap Nui Clan" itself is the perfect example of this, a tune that is barely held together by a kick drum, but that somehow still manages to retain the warehouse and people's movement in mind. It's perfect material for Opal Tapes, who are always on the lookout for fine new music that is on the verge of total abstraction. Recommended.
Aria Rostami has already established herself in the contemporary ambient kingdom thanks to several excellent EP's for labels like Crash Symbols and Spring Memory, so this new chapter in her catalogue alongside newcomer Daniel Blomquist was received with both open ears and an open mind by our in-house leftfield team. Across six magnificent segments, Wandering Eye gives the impression of space and rhythmic freedom, with the four version of "Dome" and the two of "Ridge" all offering their fair share of pensiveness and reflection. Rather than going for a solely dark or bleak outlook, however, many moments over these carefully arranged sound experiments are full of peace and tranquillity. Wonderful.
To paraphrase the great Monty Python show, now for something completely different. Over the past decade, Evol - comprising Roc Jimenez de Cisneros and a shifting line-up of collaborators - has been releasing music that gnaws at the senses. As Do These so ably demonstrates, there is no sign of this merry group of pranksters stopping soon. Released on the Lorenzo Senni-curated label Presto!?, it consists of eleven pieces of music that by turns entertain, inspire and irritate. It starts with "One" and "Two", which consist of squelchy, frequency-shifting loops, followed by the insane builds and drops of "Three". In effect, "Four" and "Five" sound like vintage Rob Hood without the cold, doubled up beats. By the time de Cisneros and his pals reach "Nine", which sounds like the mass torture of hamsters, the joke has worn thin, but the journey to get there was enjoyable and excruciating in equal measures.
Exclusives
VARIOUS - Do Hits Vol 4 (Do Hits) - exclusive 25-06-2016
PLAID - The Digging Remedy (Warp)
CAR/RED AXES - Caraxes (Kill The DJ)