On 2012's Luxury Problems, Andy Stott delivered his most rewarding work yet - an impeccable exploration of the twin attractions of lightness and darkness that was near impossible to pigeonhole. Faith In Strangers, that album's belated follow-up, is similarly minded. Peppered with audible references to his many inspirations - field recordings, found sounds, dub techno, IDM, ambient, post-dubstep and trip-hop, in particular - it's a set that quietly drifts between sludgy dreaminess and pin-sharp late night horror. As such, it's an inspired set, with Stott's use of odd instrumentation and the evocative vocals of Alison Skidmore significantly enhancing the experience.
Swaggering out of the cassette-based hinterland, Angel 1 has already issued forth a selection of choice tapes over the past couple of years, fusing together many a disparate electronic style into a surprisingly cohesive whole. So it is as the mysterious artist possibly known as Colin Fields steps up to 1080p with this wild seven-track ride through scattershot ideas and reference points. There are moments of synth-rich calm with a vintage twist, while elsewhere you may get suckerpunched by splats of jungle breaks wrenched into heavy thudding half-step. The ideas dart around the mix, produced with a charming starkness that seems at odds with the murk of most cassette output, and it makes for a standout release.
Interlude (Variation On Section 12) - (1:19) 65 BPM
Section 9 - (5:20) 59 BPM
Section 10 (1st & 2nd Movements) - (3:34) 75 BPM
Section 13 - (5:25) 60 BPM
Interlude (Variation On Section 6) - (1:12) 66 BPM
Section 12 - (6:54) 95 BPM
Section 10 (3rd Movement) - (1:10) 60 BPM
Section 8 - (4:27) 80 BPM
Finale Section - (3:23) 61 BPM
Perennial man-of-mystery Arandel returns with the belated follow-up to his acclaimed 2010 debut album In D, the title of which offered a cheeky nod to the work of Terry Riley and other American avant-garde composers. Like its predecessor, Solarispellis was composed entirely using his own instruments and analogue gear, with no MIDI, plug-ins or contemporary trickery. Flitting between unearthly ambience, bubbling themes for imaginary computer games and loose, high-minded tributes to American minimalism, it's a surprisingly wide-ranging set. While it's his love of modern classical music that inspired the more complex pieces, it's the electronic-only curiosities - like library music from another dimension - that impress the most.
Berlin duo Duct Tape like to embellish of the truth a little (one of them's called Batsauce), claiming to have both been born on a moon of Saturn. It's also stated that their music is informed by their intergalactic travels! All interesting stuff, considering that the other member, Wynton Kelly Stevenson, is the offspring of the late great (and earth-based) musician Rudy Stevenson. Less We Can features 16 tracks cut from long jams on "cheap 80s keyboards, guitar pedals, a beat machine, a bass guitar, and a cheap microphone", resulting in a suitably spacey listen.
Vancouver-based video game music creator Scott Morgan - aka Loscil - comes through with his fifth LP for Kranky, and it's no surprise that it's another winner. Entitled Sea Island, the music aptly contains a rather aqueous approach to sound design thanks to its floaty, dense drones and walls of sonics. It's a purely meditative affair, and track like "In Threes" or "Sea Island Murders" share a common air of hedonism and trance in their arrangements, loosely held together by deep swirls of low-end and sporadic clicks. If you're into Fennesz or anything on Touch, then this one's for you.