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Reviewed this week
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After a couple of quiet years, Nicolas Jaar has hit back hard this year. As well as delivering a second album of crackly, intricate ambient compositions (the excellent Pomegranate), he's also found time to return to his dancefloor roots with the Nyphs II EP. This speedy follow-up to that 12" explores similar territory, with the 13-minute "Swim" rolling along on a wave of loose percussion, held-note bass and dusty, off-kilter samples in his usual eyes-wide-shut style. It takes a little time to really get going, but brilliant builds towards a dark, cacophonous conclusion. Flipside "Mistress" sees Jaar back in ambient mode, delivering a brilliantly atmospheric, high-minded piece for guitar and piano that's little less than stunning.
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Undoubtedly one of the most prolific Dutch artists currently working in electronic music, Boris Bunnik has put out a staggering amount of records in the eight years since he first surfaced. Presentism is his fourth full length under the familiar Conforce name and flips the script a little. Recorded following his recent move to Rotterdam, it sees the veteran Dutch artist blending glacial electronics, crystal clear melodies and spacey chords with elements of ambient, classic IDM and Detroit techno. As a result, it's a far more picturesque and set than his three previous albums, with an emphasis on mood and melody previously buried beneath industrial textures and razor-sharp rhythms. It could well be his best set to date, and that's saying something.
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Bobby Draino already appeared on 1080p alongside Xophie Xweetland with the Chrome Split tape back in 2013, as well as dropping some choice 12"s for 100% Silk and Adelaide Soundworks in his time. Now he fires up a new alias for the illustrious Smoke Tape, which journeys through plush and pleasant house-scapes pitched at balmy evenings on dappled balconies. There is a healthy thread of the kind of boogie infection that makes Andras Fox, Ruf Dug or Moon B such a pleasant proposition, but there is also space for some more rambunctious material in amongst the pleasantries. "Inside" should certainly get some pulses racing, but not at the expense of satisfying melodic content.
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Is this the end? It seems like this seventh edition of Demdike Stare's dancefloor brutalising Testpressing series is the final installment "for the time being", bringing to a close a rather vicious succession of rugged club killers and noisy experimental tracks dating back to 2013. If this is indeed the final one, Sean Canty and Miles Whittaker end Testpressing proceedings on a high note with another two track single that's up there with the best in the series. Up top "Rathe" begins in heavenly fashion before a sea of white noise brings about a left turn into AFX style distorted half step jungle - wait for the break at the 3 minute mark! It's matched by "Patchwork" which sees a deftly sliced vocal sample from a Wookie classic bounced around the channels as Canty and Whittaker draw vicious lines in the ground with a razor sharp 2 step pattern.
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What happens when you pair up noted UK sound experimentalist Mark Fell with Gabor Lazar, a Budapest-based musician who has exhibited an equally adventurous streak through his body of work to date. That's the motivation behind the latest release from Manchester's ace The Death of Rave label, The Neurobiology Of Moral Decision Making, which sees Fell and Lazar collaborate on ten hyperkinetic untitled tracks which draw out maximum sonic impact from a shared minimalist approach. If you were a fan of Fell's Sensate Focus series for Editions Mego a few years back you should definitely check out this album!
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There is little known about Haf Haf, the latest operator to sidle up to Danse Noire following turns from IVVVO and label boss Aisha Devi. The shadowy concern was last seen rocking up on Gang Of Ducks in 2014 with the eight-track Notch tape, and this time around there is a more concise three track offering to delve into backed up with a remix from Gatekeeper. Compared to the lo-fi rumblings of so many contemporaries, Haf Haf keeps a high level of digital processing at the heart of the music, even if the end result is still grubby and unsettling. "Blue Dragon" in particular does a fine job of marrying glossy melodic flurries with arrhythmic interference that would send the wrong kind of person crazy. For those who like the disorientation of bizarre sound design with a musical twist, this release comes highly recommended.
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Having evolved into an artist independent of scene driven trends, New Zealand's Fis makes the move to his debut album with an assured instinct for unconventional noise and ambience. Loopy is an appropriate home for such concerns, and The Blue Quicksand Is Going Now follows a logical path from previous appearances on Tri Angle and Void Coms. You can find thin slithers of rhythm tucked away in the likes of "Social" with its cloying layers of sonic mulch buffeted along by encrusted beats, while elsewhere the synths provide the guiding light on tracks such as "Happy Alone", resplendent in its regal avant-garde splendour.
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Dominick Fernow doesn't do things by halves. When he unleashed his sixth solo album under the Vatican Shadow pseudonym, Death Is Unity With God, it came on no less than six cassettes. Oh, and only a hundred of these six-tape packs were manufactured. Naturally, an online scramble for copies ensued. Happily, Modern Love has decided to reissue it, stretching the 20 tracks across three CDs. For those in love with his typically dark, murky and intense take on electronic music - think droning textures, foreboding electronics, glitch-influenced rhythms and bombastic post-dancefloor workouts - it should be essential listening. Given the sheer scale of Fernow's ambition, it's undoubtedly his most remarkable work.
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At one time it was commonplace to wait a long while for a new Anodyne release to surface, but these days Colin Cloughley is hitting a more productive streak. This new album on leading Irish digital label Acroplane Recordings follows swiftly on from the IV LP for Offshoot Records, and it plunges further into crisp, electro-powered electronica with a distinctly dark edge. There are feistier moments such as the uptempo breakbeat roll of "Darkenergy", while the likes of "Crossed Swords" nestle into snaking configurations of glitchy percussion, but the album as a whole hangs together very cohesively indeed.
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Before Lone became one of Britain's most celebrated kaleidoscopic rave fusionists with the R&S-released Echolations EP and Galaxy Garden LP, he was best known as a beat-maker with a passion for experimental MPC rhythms and dreamy exotica samples. The highlight of this portion of his career was undoubtedly debut album Lemuria, which here gets a reissue replete with new artwork from Konx-om-Pax. It still sounds just as magical, dusty, picturesque and otherworldly as it did back then, with brief moments of rush-inducing clarity nestling side by side with jazz-flecked workouts and shimmering, Boards of Canada-go-glitch beatscapes.
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A decade-long lunch is quite the time out! After lying dormant for some ten years, Out To Lunch returns with a new record from mystery production unit The Hangout Project. Overseen by Jens Kuhn, aka Lowtec, Out To Lunch was active between 1996 and 2005 and was seemingly put to bed soon after the Workshop label took flight. Kuhn's elected to relaunch Out To Lunch with the minimum of fuss and Sword Of Light is a worthy way to reintroduce the label indeed. Who The Hangout Project are hasn't been made clear but they have a clear and accomplished mastery of production, with the three tracks veering from luxuriant footwork on the title track to more low slung beatdown exercises. "Transfer" is quite lovely.
Exclusives
FELL, Mark/GABOR LAZAR - The Neurobiology Of Moral Decision Making (The Death Of Rave)
HAUSCHKA - 2/11/2014 (City Slang)
FIS - The Blue Quicksand Is Going Now (Loopy)