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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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Population One – Theater Of A Confused Mind

by on at 15:36pm

Terrence Dixon enjoys the kind of media profile that would make Howard Hughes look like a soundbite-junkie but a few months ago, in a rare online communication, he announced that he was going to retire from music-making. Despite making this statement, this most enigmatic of Detroit producers shows no signs of slowing down just yet. Following on from last year’s Badge of Honour, Dixon now delivers the first Population One album in twenty years.

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Neel – Phobos

by on at 09:27am

Wet rocks. Throw a handful down a dank well whose dark abyss leads to the uninhabitable cracks between earth’s tectonic plates, record it (somehow), and the results I imagine would sound like Phobos. Giuseppe Tillieci, as he’s proven, is a versed producer of modular electronics; a producer whose name continually follows Donato Dozzy’s when their Voices From The Lake collaboration is concerned. He is, however, a formidable DJ, as well as the go-to mastering engineer for Prologue, Northern Electronics and Morphine Records. And after years of self preservation from the centre stage of electronic music – as lauded as his work with Dozzy is – Spectrum Spools finally bring to light the lone talent of Neel.

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Torn Hawk – Let’s Cry And Do Pushups At The Same Time

by on at 09:50am

In Native mythology, Torn Hawk (aka Luke Wyatt) might fit the archetypal “trickster” persona – the Coyote whose hunger leads him to cleverly deceive those around him, or the shape-shifting Nanabush, whose duplicity comes from a knack for survival. Wyatt has skirted around dance music’s fringes for years now in a number of morphing identities- sometimes taking the form of his “video mulch” productions for Steve Summers, or directorial collaborations with Aurora Halal & Ital. Other times, his creations extend to the verbose, drunken prose that accompanies Juno Plus mixes and interviews, as if the keyboard he’s typing from is soaked in bourbon, regret, and decades of memories.

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Vladislav Delay – Visa

by on at 16:30pm

Sasu Ripatti means different things to different people, but even for a man with a whole lot of names and friends to bounce creatively off and 15 years to set out a slightly intimidating breadth of work, there’s always been a plasticity and a connecting thread that makes each new thing sound strangely familiar. Some shared sensitivity in the way textures and composition is handled perhaps – maybe a hallmark of the oft-touted jazz percussionist training – that focuses on micro-detail and macro-beauty and tends to make even the more complex or niche turns of his hand unusually accessible. Even Ripatti’s takes on austere genres like glitch or minimal tend to exude an elegant delicacy and refinement, a sense that the music is there to challenge but not defy the listener. Quite frankly, it’s still a rare and wonderful thing.

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Shinichi Atobe – Butterfly Effect

by on at 08:55am

How many secret, forgotten techno artists can be left out there to rediscover and re-release? It’s perhaps one of the great justices of the reissue culture and information exchange that once unsung heroes are getting their dues left right and centre where once their craft lingered in obscurity or at best cult status, and there’s certainly plenty of them lurking about in dusty corners of seminal labels and far beyond. Shinichi Atobe is one such character with one highly revered single on seminal dub techno imprint Chain Reaction from 2001, leaving a wake of fervent collectors wondering who he might be (an alias for Vainqueur seemed to be a popular theory).

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Pyramids Of Space – Pyramids Of Space

by on at 09:56am

Shrouded in the kind of mystery that has kept the electronica scene thriving with nerdy fervour since its inception, this album by Pyramids Of Space has been issued with not-a-lot-of fanfare on Mordant Music. As the noble Baron Mordant would have us believe, this is an archive recovery from a dusty vault long-since forgotten by an unspecified collective of Cornish artists. Throw into the mix that these tracks were supposedly recorded between 1992 and 1996 and pulses set racing thinking about who could be responsible, and listening to the music doesn’t help stem that flow. After all it’s fun to speculate when you can atleast think of messrs James, Vibert and Middleton knocking around the area at the time. Whatever the case, we may never know the back-story and it may never matter, because regardless the music alone is worthy of some serious shouting about.

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Mind Fair – Mind Fair

by on at 09:22am

There’s something particularly fitting about the minute-long blast of carousel organ and fairground sound atmospherics that gently ushers in Mind Fair’s debut full length. With this aural shorthand, Ben Shenton and Dean Meredith are promising a trip to the musical funfair of your dreams. In many ways, it’s a bold objective. While the reality of travelling funfairs is fairly seedy and disappointing – dodgy rides and rigged sideshows, some flashing lights, loud music and copious amounts of candy-floss – the picture postcard fantasy remains alluring, regardless of your age. Framing an album around this unattainable funfair fantasy is a bold move, but a clever one; straight away, Shenton and Meredith have carte blanche to go in any direction they want, safe in the knowledge that they have a narrative device to draw all their disparate strands together.

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Various Artists – Down To The Sea & Back Volume 2

by on at 09:25am

Emblazed on the sleeve artwork of Balearic Mike and Kelvin Andrews second Down To The Sea & Back Volume compilation is the subtitle The Continuing Story of the Balearic Beat. While this may not mean much to most, it’s a reference – presumably willing, given the two DJs’ veteran status – to a release that effectively introduced the Balearic musical ideal to a wider audience. 1988’s Balearic Beats Volume 1 remains a landmark collection. Put together by Pete Tong, Paul Oakenfold and Trevor Fung, it was primarily made up of tracks that rocked the Shoom parties in London, and before that DJ Alfredo’s various residencies in Ibiza. It was the first serious attempt to define what could be considered “Balearic” – a ragtag, anything-goes hotchpotch of baggy house, loved-up pop, humid electronics, forgotten Italo-disco, throbbing EBM bangers, the Woodentops and Mandy Smith.

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Plant43 – Scars of Intransigence

by on at 09:29am

Arriving soon after Jo Johnson delivered her fine debut album for the Further label, another Bleep43 operative, Emile Facey, returns with a second Plant43 long player Scars of Intransigence. While Johnson’s Weaving is a subtle, ambient work, this Plant43 album is a different matter entirely. Inspired by Facey’s beliefs about the state of the world, it seeks to raise awareness among the listener about issue such as privatization, the use of fossil fuels and the imbalance between the wealthy and everyone else.

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Andras & Oscar – Café Romantica

by on at 15:12pm

There’s no doubt that Andras Fox (AKA Melbourne-based producer Andrew Wilson) is on a roll right now. This year alone, he’s treated us to a slew of sinewy, seductive releases that variously touch on new age ambience with the brilliant Overworld LP under his alternative A.R.T Wilson alias, toasty modern boogie for Omega Supreme Records and  the classic deep house influenced instrumental Balearica of the Vibrate On Silent EP for Mexican Summer. All three of these releases – and the latter in particular – make great use of vintage synthesizers and drum machines, while focusing attention on Wilson’s superb use of melody and manipulation of mood. Put simply, Wilson is become a masterful exponent of electronic melodica – the kind of melody-rich, occasionally dancefloor-friendly music that mixes Larry Heard, Sound Source, Lamont Booker, Bobby Konders and Ben Cenac influences with echoes of Balearic synth-pop, Vangelis, Gigi Masin and soft focus ‘80s soul.

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Skanfrom – Postcards

by on at 09:06am

To anyone unfamiliar with Roger Semsroth’s work outside of the Sleeparchive project, Skanfrom could indeed come as quite a surprise. It’s fair to say that Sleeparchive commanded its fair share of attention throughout the peak of the minimal techno era, and is still held in reverence by those carrying a torch for the more creative manifestations of the genre. Skanfrom meanwhile predates those spacious and unsettling bleeps and bloops, although the project was put on ice in 2002 following a retrospective release on Suction Records (also home to the likes of Solvent and Lowfish).

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Various Artists – Permanent Vacation 3

by on at 09:03am

Back in 2006, the launch of Benjamin Fröhlich and Tom Bioly’s Permanent Vacation label wasn’t marked with a single from a new signing, but rather a taster 12” for the imprint’s first compilation. Few labels choose to begin life with an EP of licensed material, but in many ways it made a lot of sense. What better way to outline your new label’s approach than to gather together material that sums up your musical outlook? Certainly, the Permanent Vacation 12” and the full-length CD that followed did just that, gathering together evocative Balearic, nu-disco and deep house cuts from the likes of Maurice Fulton, Kelley Polar, Ilya Santana, Manhead and Lindstrom.

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