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Reviewed this week
2013 was the last time we heard from Praveen Sharma aka Braille and Travis Stewart aka Machinedrum, who together have always made music as Sepalcure. In fact, it was this project that allowed them to make a name for themselves via Scuba's Hotflush Recordings, and the duo return to the the label with this new album, Folding Time. The best way to describe these scorchers is to dub them under neo-R&B, a rather wide banner, we know, but it really gets the mood of these tunes across. Electronic beats are always an important part of the arrangements, but the melodies and vocals are soulful, drenched in a spiritual pop flair that makes this LP as smooth as f***, and a perfect comeback to this great project.
We all know and love Mark Pritchard. The Cornish producer has been one of Warp's finest artists since the '90s, and he has produced nothing but excellence from day one. We don't need to go into his history, as you should bloody well know it given the fact that you've landed here, but we will give you a little taster of what is at the heart of Under The Sun. The sound is definitely one that is shifting in shape, and while he has been known to make everything from techno to futuristic jungle, this LP is much more about mood and vibe, something that is clear from the appearance of Radiohead's Thom Yorke on "Beautiful People". That is not to say that the album is in any way too delicate or soft and, in fact, there are plenty of dark and foreboding moments that have rendered this dude's musical career so illustrious.
There's no doubt that Berliner's Max Graef and Glenn Astro are some of the biggest success stories to emerge from the deep house sound and creating their own signature style that's often copied of late, but seldom ever matched! Sure, the dusty hip-hop inspired jams are no doubt indebted to Detroit legends such as Theo Parrish or Andres but they've certainly put their own slant on it and created a new sound for the German capital to be synonymous with. Testament to their success is this LP for the legendary Ninja Tune; The Yard Work Simulator. Nearly a dozen tracks of chilled, sampledelic, MPC driven dope jams that are the perfect soundtrack for a misspent youth in Berlin this Summer. In particular check the raggedy junkyard joint that is "Where Fuck Are My Hard Boiled Eggs" or the psychedelic urban soul jam that is the title track.
A year on from the woozy, experimental oddness of their simply titled debut EP I, Guido Zen and Joel Martin re-ignite their Vactrol Park production partnership. II sees them exploring similar sonic pastures, offering up moody, atmospheric, analogue-heavy workouts that join the dots between krautrock, drone, ambient, leftfield techno and curiously distorted, dubbed-out experimentation. The hypnotic, slowly unfurling opener "Tired & Feathered" is probably our pick of the bunch, though similarly epic, slo-mo closer "Grottaferato" - a creepy exercise in sparse, dubby electronics and Ket-addled rhythms - is not far behind. "Hump", a trip into the furthest realms of the duo's collective subconscious, is also strangely fulfilling.
Atlas' debut on Keysound comes as no surprise whatsoever and, in fact, we were expecting to see someone of hi calibre pop up on the label. "Solitude" is a little work of art, a deep and enthralling web of bass and wide-eyed synths that bring to mind the start of something new fantastic, and it also fall neatly into the sparse folds of low frequencies present on the sonic massage that is "On The Cusp". "Alone In A Timespan" is all icy synths drone twisting carried forwards by a heavy percussion muscle, while "Calm" switches the mood and drops a heavy groove over masterfully executed licks of bass and melodies. Big tip right here.
If you've ever wondered who runs the magnificent Editions Mego label, you've finally got your answer and you can actually hear their sounds. Pita aka Peter Rehberg is veteran of the experimental electro-acoustic scene, and his earliest work dates back to the mid-1990's; it was only a few years after that when he started his label, originally name simply Mego. Get In is the natural follower to 2008's Get Out, and if you were looking for docile, pale-faced ambient music, then this might be a bit marmite. We absolutely love it, it's the right blend of force and subtlety, and it stands there among the best of Mika Vainio's recent work. As a matter of fact, Pita's airy yet harsh sonics have a lot in common with the whole Sahko label and the Finnish school of noise. Clean, precise, loud and in your face.
Klara Lewis made her debut with an LP for Editions Mego back in 2014, and she's been relatively quiet on the Western front since then. She's returned to the label with a new album, however, the unambiguously named Too. Much like her previous work, this is an album of pure experimentation and subtlety, bound together by Lewis' refreshing take on drone and ambient. Although the sounds themselves aren't revolutionary, it's Lewis' arrangements and production that render these hollow segments into living, breathing animals. Another fine instalment of the mighty Editions Mego.
Wildlife! is a bass explorer in every sense of the word. The under-cover, low-profile production room junkie never likes to steer too close to anyone genre, and this has been true throughout all of his releases. He's up on Mixpack this week with an extended EP, a kind of ode to original dubstep that goes beyond and pushes the low frequencies to their very limits. The track might be nameless, but their sound is very much locked into a very specific sort of vibe, one that flirts with that infamous 'wobble' step, but branches out significantly into distant, alien-like rhythms that are both refreshing and irritatingly alluring to the ear. Check it, it's the shit right here!
Long players from L'estasi Dell'oro, D.A.R.F.D.H.S and Kartei signalled a move into artist albums from Dutch label Field that felt wholly right, and they've scored a real treat again in securing this Cold Radiance LP from Japanese artist IORI. Known for a potent brand of deep techno that has seen releases on Semantica, Prologue and DJ Nobu's Bitta label, Iori Asano is offered the chance to explore something different on this, his second album. Encourage to dabble in more explicitly ambient and experimental composition, Asano positively revels in this creative freedom for an eight-track album he himself likens to an "aerial sci-fi movie soundtrack." The gravelly sonic tones of opener "Transmission" sets the scene for what turns out to be one of the most enjoyable ambient techno albums of 2016 so far.
Michal Wolski's sixth album in as many years sees him refine the deeply contemplative techno sound that has become his signature. "Mer Caspienne" opens with gentle ambient soundscapes before moving into the low tempo pulses and found sounds of "Mer Noire". The somewhat chilling ambience of "Mer De Beaufort" follows and the mood shifts; "Mer De Siberie Orientale" sees Wolski send out sonic blips over a foggy tapestry while "Transatlantique" marches to distorted drums before veering into a mysterious ambient whirlpool. By the time the droning, thudding sprawl of "Mer D'Arabie" is audible, Wolski has brought the listener on an unforgettable journey across imaginary oceans.
Helm and Decimus weren't our first prediction for a new Opal Tapes EP but, in fact, this makes total sense, and we're super happy to hear our beloved Helm branch out to new labels and forming new partnerships. This simple yet complex two-tracker is a masterful blend of noise and nu-school power electronics; that is, "Any Surface Will Do" contains a sonic spill so loose and eerie that is would sound almost too cavernous without the help of a pseudo drum groove holding it together. The same goes for "Saved Alone, What Shall I Do?", a spectral wall of sound that somehow manages to find sanity through broken rhythm.
Between Pye Corner Audio and Dalhous, the pair two sets of producers have pretty much released on the best electronic label out there. The former has been on everything from Type To Dealth Waltz, while the latter have been an important part of Blackest Ever Black's rise to success over the last three years. The artists come through with a pair of tune each: Pye Corner Audio is all steaming dread with "Steam Four", while "The Simplest Equation" is a mild, subdued house record that's been washed by a sea of sonics; Dalhous' "The Essential Wonder" is a stop-start groove that packs a mean industrial punch, and "Another Witnessed By Resolution" dips into totally placid waters with a calm but deeply eerie and unsettling string of distant chimes.
NoCorner is fast becoming synonymous with the experimental side of 'bass', and the imprint are stacking bomb upon bomb to their catalogue. This time its newcomer Asda, an artist we know little to nothing about, but that doesn't matter because his beats and general musical patterns are beyond absurd...and absolutely killer. The opener "Killer Of Men", for instance, is a noisy escapade down distorted walls of bass and industrial vocals seeing from all angles, while other songs like "Smoke & Gospel" verge onto the spoken word end of things in a way that we rarely hear. All in all, though, this is a totally refreshing take on post-punk and industrial, and one that carries through the tradition laid out by the likes of The Fall. TIP!!
If Ninja Tune's recent signing Glenn Astro & Max Graef are the biggest success stories of the deep house sound of late, there's no doubt that Irishman Space Dimension Controller partially laid down the groundwork, helping to popularise the deep house sound as far back as six years ago with his lo-tech soul experiments. This is Jack Hamill's second album since 2013's Welcome to Mikrosektor-50 on R&S and it's really impressive. Check the first single from the album "Gullfire" and it's a great introduction: broken and funky Jupiter jazz via electro that's rich in emotion. The man from Mikrosektor-50 has landed once again!
Christian Naujoks fits right in with the whole Dial aesthetic. The visual artist, composer, singer and DJ is obviously a multi-talented force who has no boundaries in terms of artistic engagement, and this new album on the imprint is perfect testament to his style. It is ambient music, yes, but all of the tunes on Wave follow a very similar path, and from the opening cascading guitar riffs of "Little Dume", through to the endlessly spacey "Wave", and the improvisational strings of "Pacific Street", Naujoks paints a very detailed and precise portrait, one that is effortlessly enjoyable and deeply pensive. Beautiful.
Mike Paradinas has been a cornerstone of the Warp imprint for years, and this compilation of tunes under the 'RY30' banner were being recorded all the way back in 1995, while the man was prepping other timeless material that saw the light of day. Luckily, Planet Mu have come in for the licensing and represented this incredible material over twenty years on. The first thing that should be said is that, much like the rest of U-Ziq's music, this is incredibly versatile music that has no age or genre. Of All of these tunes could literally have been produced yesterday in a flat in trendy east London, so in essence, Paradinas got there two decades before everyone else. The second thing is that these are songs that can be enjoyed by anyone, from techno lovers to soul slingers, precisely because they are largely genreless and deeply musical. It's a world of its own, and one that comes warmly recommended. Strong.
London-based Vester Koza makes the move from Maslo to Houndstooth. It's a shred signing by the Fabric-backed label, as "OT_R~cord" shows. Fusing glitchy elements with early 90s Warp melodies, it's a twitchy but entertaining affair. "Robocow Exe" is cut from the same glitchy, low-tempo sources, although on this occasion, it feels like Koza is drawing on jazz influences. "Served_On_Barm" sees the upcoming producer create a mysterious dub odyssey, where eerie textures flow and ebb, while closing out this release is the understated, reflective minimalism of "Zrtp (P-Bass Special)", which sounds like Akufen on downers.
Joshua Eustis and Turk Dietrich are not the most prolific duo out there, the former being limited to one EP on Bpitch Control back in 2011 and the latter a compilation for Distance Recordings, but their new Second Woman moniker has warranted the attention of the excellent Spectrum Spools and, to us, that is a certified seal of approval. In reality, though, it's easy to hear why they've picked these tracks up; each one of these nine segments are both refreshing and deeply alluring, with drug patterns being given new and exciting shapes by the duo. In fact, the whole LP seems to be made up of a new interpretation around percussion, where Second Woman's jarring sonics are haphazardly folded around layers of brittle drums and noisy electronic manipulations.
Since donning the Prostitutes pseudonym back in 2011, Cleveland's James Donadio has plied his trade on a variety of hyped labels, including Diagonal, Opal Tapes, Night School, Blowing Up The Workshop and Spectrum Spools. Here he returns to the latter with his sixth album in five years. Ghost Detergent is a typically fuzzy, forthright affair, with Donadio variously joining the dots between crusty electro, experimental techno, Cabaret Voltaire style industrial murkiness, mutant ghetto-house (the mad but brilliant "Skeptalepsy"), sludgy electronica ("Pregnant Toad"), and fluid, out-there electrofunk (the Dam Funk meets L.I.E.S wobble of "Fake Hawaiian Suit").
For their latest trip into the outer reaches of electronic music, Ivan Smagghe and Leon Oakey has recruited one-time Pleasant Vitality duo Save! Their formula is eccentric but intriguing, with poetic, spoken word vocals (and occasional sung parts, of course) riding a variety of weird and wonderful, synth-heavy grooves. Sometimes, these sail close to minimal wave territory, at other times they're more akin to, say Junior Boys. At one point, they even doff their cap to Balearic-influenced, reggae-pop (the odd but entertaining "Rainy Monday"); throughout, their imaginative approach to production and songwriting shines through. Brilliantly, this CD version also includes the extended version of previous single "The Light".
Exclusives
AVALON - Revisited 1993-2001, Vol 3 (PJ Mastering)
WILDLIFE! - Patterns (Mixpak)
MOUNT BANK - Counter Real (Donky Pitch)