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Robert Hood – M Print: 20 Years of M Plant

by on at 09:24am

Everywhere you turn, techno artists and labels are celebrating anniversaries. This is no surprise; this sound has been developing over the past three decades and has the kind of longevity and worldwide reach as other established forms. Despite electronic music being made by producers all over the world, it’s important to understand where the music came from. In many instances, this process leads back to Detroit and to artists like Robert Hood and his M-Plant label.

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Marco Shuttle – Visione

by on at 14:54pm

Though Marco Sartorelli has always stated that he perceives techno “as more of a musical expression rather than a tool to make people dance,” the majority of his output until now has killed two birds with one stone. When the drums on 2011′s “The Vox Attitude” double up on themselves, it makes even the smallest dancefloor feel like it’s plummeting down an abyss, and 2012′s “Don’t U Want” repackaged a First Choice vocal sample into a cavernously addictive record. And while recent work such as this year’s Fanfara EP saw him gravitating towards the dronier, abstract side of the techno spectrum, Visione continues that trajectory, moving him entirely away from four to the floor rhythms entirely.

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Various Artists – Vidal Benjamin Présente Disco Sympathie

by on at 09:21am

The explosion in archival disco and boogie releases in recent times poses a problem for those thinking on entering an already crowded compilation market. Where once you could get away with simply gathering together a mixture of classics, rarities and in-demand cuts, an increasingly informed public now demand more. In order to stand out, labels have to dig deeper, have a solid concept – something not seen before, ideally – and a track list that focuses on the sort of dusty, little heard tracks that will intrigue record collectors and casual selectors alike. If you can work with a renowned crate digger, that’s even better.

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Afrikan Sciences – Circuitous

by on at 17:06pm

Eric Douglas Porter has been on an increasingly prolific tip of late, gaining exposure for his craft while managing to be totally singular and independent of any particular movement or scene. He is of course affiliated to Aybee and the Deepblak stable, forming one of the central tenets of the Oakland label, but he moves in his own orbit much like the way Ras G holds his own space despite being an central figure in the Brainfeeder story. Even when he and Aybee collaborated for the sublime Sketches In Space LP earlier in 2014, Porter’s voice shone through true and tangible, arguably sending his collaborator’s reasonably loose sound out into the even braver frontiers in which Afrikan Sciences resides.

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Ike Release – Noir

by on at 10:15am

Ike Release is one half of the excellent Innerspace Halflife project – Hakim Murphy is the other member – but can his solo debut album scale the same dizzying heights as the two Innerspace long players? Unsurprisingly, Noir is based on the same classic electronic music influences as Release’s collaborative work and was realised predominately with hardware (although there were some iPad apps used, according to the accompanying press release) The key difference to the Innerspace Halflife material is that Noir is more streamlined and functional than this year’s Astral Travelling album.

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Juju & Jordash – Clean-Cut

by on at 14:46pm

With a title like Clean-Cut and a confident statement about “not hiding behind a hazy screen of FX”, you would be forgiven for wondering if Juju & Jordash were heading for some kind of smooth, Balearic yacht confection on their third album proper. Perhaps those countless smoky sessions summoning up deep techno incantations with Move D had finally tipped them over the edge and they made a dash for less woozy climes? Breathe a sigh of relief then as the title track kicks off the album with gusto and a chunky drum machine meets some snappy synth lines with all the rawness you would hope for from such well-schooled hardware heavyweights. Of course the duo’s reference to their approach on this album was more about a direct kind of composition and production style, not a complete change in tact, and after the flurry of ideas and experiments that melded into Techno Primitivism, it’s no bad thing to find the pair punching their ideas out into fewer but more fully realised tracks.

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Jovonn – Goldtones

by on at 09:30am

It’s been almost 25 years since Brooklyn’s Allen Jovonn Armstrong came out with his first hit, a Billboard top 10 surprise smash in the form of “Turn and Run Away”. Employing little more than a clashing drum machine and vocals layered on top of themselves, its success seemed to reach from two different camps of dance music- the mechanical jacking consistency of Dance Mania cuts like Steve Dexter’s “Work That Muthafucka” and cascading soulful shouts giving it the playful harmonization of a cut like Groove Theory’s “Tell Me”.

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Gala Drop – II

by on at 09:50am

Throughout their eight-year career thus far, Lisbon act Gala Drop have undergone numerous changes in both style and personnel which has been reflected in the shifting emphasis of their output. These releases – two EPs and a single album in six years – have featured a myriad of influences. Humid tropical rhythms, krautrock, experimental disco, Balearica, dub reggae, punk funk, drone and ‘60s West Coast psychedelia all play their part to varying degrees in the dense, loose and trippy sound Gala Drop have cultivated.

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The Actor – Exploded View

by on at 09:45am

In one word; classic. The Actor’s Exploded View is one of those reissues that you’re either going to have loved already or that you’re going to feel like you’ve already loved, if this time round is your first listen. A welcome addition to the ongoing restoration of the European electro-wave archive, this 1982 Dutch showpiece had and still has everything going for it: it’s a black car, rainy day, cinematic kind of record. It hits on all the clichés of early 1980s gloom but always very consciously and intelligently – and in fact it enjoyed its fame in the Dutch tape panorama, has had underground cult status for years and, while some tracks have reappeared more prominently than others (notably “Lights” and “Covergirl”), the record has deeper, surprising folds. It’s worth listening to it again and as a whole because there’s a thread that runs through it, there’s a logic, a story.

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Reagenz – The Periodic Table

by on at 09:00am

There’s something stoutly timeless about the Reagenz project. In so many ways it’s a venture that sounds forever in thrall to the heady early 90s pastures of deep techno that members Move D and Jonah Sharp arose from, thanks largely to the tools used and their warm and soulful deployment. At the same time it doesn’t have any of that contrived attempt to sound ‘old-school’ but rather gazes to the future with the devices of yesterday, like any great piece of vintage sci-fi. It’s also one of those tantalizing treats that manages to maintain the veil of mystery that accompanied leftfield electronic music in the pre-internet era, where sporadic appearances make each release significant for those already tuned in to the Reagenz frequency.

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Positive Centre – In Silent Series

by on at 08:54am

Mike Jefford’s debut album as Positive Centre is also the first long-player on Sigha’s Our Circula Sound label, and as opening statements go, it’s on a grand scale. In Silent Series sees the Berlin producer cast his gaze far and wide to create an album that is united by an underlying ferocity but which still draws on disparate and occasionally unexpected influences. On the brilliant, nihilistic “Back to Steaming”, Jefford reaches Orphx-like levels of industrial intensity, combining pounding broken beats and deranged siren shrieks, “Ashes in Exhalation” is propelled by an insistent kick drum and relentless filtering that repeatedly races up and down the frequency scale and “Out Was The Old In” channels the relentless percussive hum and hiss and clanging metal rhythms of MDR-style purism.

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Lawrence – A Day In The Life

by on at 09:09am

In his sizable and celebrated career Peter Kerstin has often displayed a propensity for ambient music. From his first Lawrence LPs and singles on Dial and Ghostly through the long association with Mule Musiq and Ladomat 2000 amongst many others, even his housiest moments have been shot through with that winsome, ethereal musicality that would sit comfortably in the chill-out room were they stripped of their rhythm section. There have been some outright ambient tracks that have appeared scattered throughout his releases, but here on this new album for Mule we get to take a long form ride through the softest, most gentle sides of Kerstin’s output.

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Andy Stott – Faith In Strangers

by on at 15:57pm

There’s a moment towards the end of Faith In Strangers when you momentarily forget you’re listening to an Andy Stott album. The melody that emerges about a minute into the album’s stunning title track breaks through like a sunshine breaking through heavy cloud cover on a grey, drizzly day in the Lake District. While most of Stott’s music over the past few years has sought to crush the life out of you either physically or emotionally, “Faith In Strangers” feels more like an embrace. More than that, it’s a bonafide pop song, and one of the best you’re likely to hear this year.

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Happy Meals – Apéro

by on at 09:07am

It would be fair to say that something special is happening at Glasgow’s Green Door Studio, and has been for some time. The West End institution, founded by local scene stalwarts Emily McLaren, Stuart Evans and Sam Smith, has prospered in recent years by offering local musicians subsidised production courses, free studio time and a thrillingly open-minded attitude to the possibilities of musical creation. This opportunity-for-all attitude, combined with a studio space packed with dusty old analogue kit, has paid dividends. To date, the studio has played a role in the creation and development of inspired records by Golden Teacher, Organs of Love, LAPS (AKA Ladies As Pimps, whose recent EP on Clan Destine was something of a dark, woozy masterpiece) and Hausfrau, plus a veritable skipload of obscure cassettes and 7” singles by one-off projects, unlikely supergroups and experimental combos.

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Ena – Binaural

by on at 15:47pm

A storm is brewing over Samurai Horo, but whether it will grow beyond the label’s Berlin tea cup is yet to be seen. Horo is the sub-label of Geoff Presha’s Samurai Music which homes a more experimental fare of what can loosely be described as drum and bass, to the lament of Geoff Presha. Horo, however, goes one step further than its sister label, Samurai Red Seal, an offshoot described as a platform for “deeper drum and bass and 170bpm electronica”, by demonstrating an absolute willingness to delve further into a sonic abyss derivative of drum and bass liberated from framework, BPM or genre.

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The Cyclist – Flourish

by on at 09:00am

After he wowed many a heart and mind with the release of his Bones In Motion LP on Leaving Records, Andrew Morrison returns with a mini album for All City, a natural fit for his grubby tape-baiting ways. His previous long-player was a startling and impressive effort that wielded its lo-fi charm with compositional deftness; even if the frays sometimes threatened to overshadow the ideas, the album came off as a resounding success from a precocious young talent. The hope from that point was always that Morrison would maintain his creative flair and refine his approach without losing that distinctive spark that sets him apart. Fortunately these seven tracks suggest he is heading in exactly the right direction.

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Arca – Xen

by on at 14:31pm

There was a certain malleability to Alejandro Ghersi’s early tracks as Arca, released on UNO in 2012, made all the more explicit by being collected under two numbered EPs called Stretch. He was pegged as a hip hop producer of sorts, leading to work with Kanye West and FKA Twigs, but the real reason for his music sounding like rubber was something much more personal. “It was about different voices that came from completely different parts of my mind or my heart, shouting at each other in this crowded room,” Alejandro Ghersi recently told The Fader recently. “Kind of settling into your body sexually. It was a lot about flexibility and elasticity, things wrapping around themselves in a very charged way.”

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Illum Sphere – Fabriclive 78

by on at 09:11am

The great beauty of music is, in part, its constant capacity to surprise, and make you question your preconceptions and judgements formed from a lack of knowledge. Let’s take this Fabric mix from Illum Sphere as an example. The way I feel about the mix tapping away at the keyboard now is vastly different to the underwhelming feeling I felt when news of Illum Sphere signing up first slipped through the channels. Where does this feeling stem from? It’s hard to reveal without coming across as a total ignoramus, but I’ve never heard or seen Illum Sphere DJ before or really paid close attention to his music. There’s nothing malicious behind either of these facts, just a by-product of the current state of music where there is so much to take in.

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Various Artists – Beats In Space 15th Anniversary

by on at 16:17pm

It was 1999 when a radio-obsessed college student and part-time club DJ called Tim Sweeney began a weekly residency on WNYU, New York University’s well-regarded FM station. Sweeney was at best ‘little-known’ in the city at the time. He knew he wanted to create a show that represented the best in dance music, joining the dots between the city’s rich musical heritage and the best new music he could get his hands on. To help his quest for radio perfection, Sweeney spent time interning at DFA Records and learning from Steinski, the legendary cut-and-paste NYC turntablist who would famously spend an entire week prepping a two-hour radio show. It wasn’t long before Sweeney’s Tuesday night session, Beats In Space, became a must-listen for those in the city; later, Internet streaming and a vast archive of shows would help attract a worldwide fan base.

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Patrick Cowley & Jorge Socarras – Catholic

by on at 09:01am

Recorded in fits between 1975 and 1979, Catholic was originally offered to and rejected by the Megatone label in the early 80s. Given that we are in the middle of reissue-mania, it’s hard to imagine anyone turning down the disco icon’s overtures these days, but it’s also true that hindsight and clarity make great companions. In some ways, it’s understandable why Megatone didn’t release Catholic. Cowley’s reputation was based on a stream of distinctive high-energy disco and here he was, collaborating with Indoor Life vocalist Jorge Socarras on an awkward collection of tracks.

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