Richard Smith, AKA L/F/D/M, made his debut on Optimo Trax in 2013, with an EP bristling with analogue acid and robust machine jams. Last year's follow-up for Clan Destine Records, LHF 3, was similarly minded. This debut album switches things around a little, supplementing his usual hard-wired, hypnotic rhythms, motorik attitude and hazy melodies with a gaggle of more experimental cuts (see the freaky ambience of "New X" and new wave-era shuffle of "Book of Five"). It's not a dramatic stylistic leap, of course, but one that makes perfect sense.
Just four months after the release of the long-awaited Syro, Richard D. James has dropped an EP of all-new material, more than making up for his 13 years of radio silence. Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments Pt 2 is an album comprised of music that's just that, making for one of the most unique collection of Aphex Twin tracks of James's entire career. From intricate piano miniatures to almost jazz-inspired drum rhythms, it's essential listening for those willing to delve deep into the strange sonic world of the producer.
It's been a long time coming for Marco Shuttle's eagerly awaited debut album and the results are huge. Take one listen to "Beyond The Mass" and you won't need further convincing. The first half of the eight-track album provides an industrially vamping, static heavy collaboration with Donato Dozzy, while "And Then" is an atmospheric tingle of analogue statics and booming gongs. For deep, tripped-out techno check out "Masay Lama" and for a cinematic call to arms "Elephante" is a bedroom DJ's wet dream to play in Berghain. Shuttle then goes to similar depths as Joey Anderson on "Volts" and closes out his first long player with the rejuvenating synth play of "The Way Out". We have lift off.
Nine months on from the release of his debut album Club Amniotics, NYC-based dancefloor experimentalist Max McFerren returns to 1080p with a similarly minded sophomore set. Like its predecessor, Lawd Forgive Me is playful, colourful and eccentric, with McFerren serving up a thrill-a-minute blend of dayglo rave stabs, UK garage steppiness, classic house riffs, mangled vocals and energetic, off-kilter rhythms. The result is a fast-paced brimming with ideas, curious samples and, most potently, the relentlessly upbeat attitude of contemporary British bass music. It's difficult to pin down, but that only adds to the album's gleeful, kaleidoscopic charm.
London's legendary Honest Jons Records has lined up a rather special release schedule for the new year, and this first release by Crying Lion is just a taster of what's to come from the Ladbroke Grove massive. Recorded in a church in Glasgow by several members of Trembling Bells, this LP contains all elements of the mystical and magical, gliding across nine songs of medieval folk chanting peppered with a dash of electro-acoustic wonder. It's music for true outsiders and an album guaranteed to transport you into a distant world, a different sort of atmosphere. It's also a fine addition to the label's stellar catalogue. There's plenty more to come from both the imprint and artists. A must have, don't miss it.
When it comes to a quantity of quality ambient music, Chloe Harris's Further label has set itself up to be a major port of call. The Dose LP was Harris's second album, originally released on tape in 2012, and even though full-lengths on Digitalis and Gretta Cottage Woodpile followed, this still remains one of her best. Synthesised textures and low end pulses mixed with fluttering clusters of busy sound design and effects make Dose a dreamy and at times surreal listen, with tracks like "Harchone" the most challenging. It's album opener "Satmor", "Slep_Non", "Watr Dragn", "Skrt" and the concluding "Entridam" that will appeal most to ambient enthusiasts.
After several outings on Richmond Tape Club, the enigmatic Anduin lands on Infinite Greyscale with a rather handsome remix package. His "Last Days Of Montrose House" track - a sparse, airy, beat-driven and drone-fuelled affair - is revamped by the likes of Stephen Vitiello, who throws in a 4/4 kick and makes things relatively more stable (but nonetheless abstract) and Radere with a power electronics version among others. Elian's take is our pick, a stunning whirlpool of dicing electronics and humming, ominous drones. A gloriously forward-thinking release.