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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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Helena Hauff – Shatter Cone

by on at 11:33am

It’s easy to be cynical about Helena Hauff and her fast rise to prominence. She’s the resident at an in-vogue club, has released on many of the ‘right’ labels and is playing a fusion of sounds  – acid, EBM and minimal wave – that are very much back in. Viewed this way, her ascension could even have the whiff of a premeditated campaign to it. However, such suspicions quickly dissipate with the release of Shatter Cone. It’s easily the German DJ’s best record so far, because it doesn’t play to stereotypes.

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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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Joey Anderson – Head Down Arms Buddha Position

by on at 09:05am

There was a hushed, reverential quality to much of Joey Anderson’s After Forever album when it dropped on Dekmantel earlier in 2014, and it’s a spirit that has embodied much of the East coast producer’s output since he first emerged some years ago alongside the likes of DJ Qu and Jus Ed. Not that the dancer turned producer has ever been afraid of a bite in his productions, but he’s always erred towards a more ethereal feeling in his tunes rather than anything too abrasive. That’s why on this release for DJ October and John Osborn’s TANSTAAFL PLANETS imprint the opening hit of “Head Down Arms Buddha Position” shocks with its ferocity as a positively rowdy square wave arpeggio blasts its way out of the speakers with a sweeping filter barely managing to keep the leering notes in check.

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Bloom – Hydraulics

by on at 16:04pm

When Belfast producer Bloom first emerged with “Quartz” on Mr Mitch’s Gobstopper label back in 2012, the fragmented take on the grime template was still in its relative infancy. Since then we’ve had a genre-defining album from Logos in Cold Mission, a mix CD from Pinch and Mumdance weaving the sound into something of a mission statement and a host of new names inspired by the futuristic sound of Jam City’s Classical Curves. The sound has been so prevalent this year that the term “deconstructed grime” has even fallen into regular use, a suggestion that things are developing at such a rate instrumental grime has already started to splinter off into completely different sub-categories.

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Mehmet Aslan – Mechanical Turk

by on at 10:16am

It would be fair to say that Andrew Thompson’s Huntleys & Palmers label has come of age in 2014. While the pleasingly open-minded imprint was started in 2011 as a vehicle for dancefloor-focused global fusion – based, in part, on the success of the parties of the same name in Glasgow and London – their releases have previously been sporadic, at best. Given the generally high calibre of these releases – not just those by the ubiquitous Auntie Flo, but also the cumbia-bleep heaviness of Alejandro Paz’s “Callejero”, and the kuduro-influenced dancefloor madness of DJs Pareja’s “Steps” – it was a source of constant frustration for those attuned to their thrillingly hard-to-pigeonhole blends of bass, house, techno and intercontinental rhythms.

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Various Artists – Lunes De Fiel Vol. 1

by on at 15:59pm

Not content with providing a sprawling platform for Italo acts new and old with Bordello A Parigi, Otto Kraanen’s latest project is to launch a house music sub-label. Given his track record, it’s fair to assume that Bitter Moon will be a lovingly curated and tastefully packaged imprint and won’t add to the slew of two-dimensional nouveau deep house records begin released weekly.

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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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Skarn – Revolver

by on at 09:28am

Not content with making one of this year’s finest albums, Alessandro Cortini has adopted the pseudonym Skarn for this dance floor-based release on Shifted’s label. It probably won’t come as a massive surprise to anyone who has been moved by the majestic textures of Sonno that Revolver isn’t a typical techno release. For starters, it eschews the preposterously gloomy Goth and industrial tropes that many contemporary artists working in that space have unwisely embraced. Just as importantly, Revolver boasts the same qualities that make the LA-based producer’s experimental work so captivating.

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Move D – The KM20 Tapes Volume 2 (1992-1996)

by on at 15:14pm

After the first volume received such a warm reception, it’s good to see another round of archive material from Move D’s early days being unearthed by Off Minor. It seems to be something happening with ever-increasing frequency these days, as a wealth of long-standing or long-forgotten electronic veterans dust off their old C-90s and see what gems might be lurking away ready for a new crowd to enjoy. In the case of someone as prolific as David Moufang one can only imagine how long this series could go on for, but of course a bit of curatorial muscle is no bad thing to sort the wheat from the chaff, and so Jordan Czamanski issues forth these occasional 12”s on his Off Minor imprint and we get to enjoy some delightfully raw relics.

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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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Dan White – Untitled

by on at 17:26pm

You didn’t count wrong – The latest release from Dan White on Jurg Haller’s dystopian Forbidden Planet label is arriving out of sequence: A pressing issue led to the temporary shelving of the Australian producer’s first four-track solo EP while Annanan’s caustic Lyser release took its place. But in the world of Forbidden Planet (where every slab of vinyl shares Paul Gondry’s unsettling cover art and gurgling-but-danceable techno variations), a non-sequential release schedule seems disorientingly fitting. The debut of Dan White (real name Rory McPike) also proves that some things are worth waiting an excruciatingly long time for – McPike’s music sounds incredibly self-assured, spanning a range of tones as wide and eclectic as the record collection he displayed in a recent home studio interview.

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Michal Wolski – Blank Slate 008

by on at 09:13am

Continuing the release pattern that has driven Blank Slate from the off, Michal Wolski is making his solo vinyl debut here following an appearance on the Various Artists 006 release for Soren Jahan and Kamal Neem’s label. It’s a smart strategy that throws the tastes and styles of the label far and wide before homing in on particular facets, giving us the chance to keep up with Blank Slate’s enthusiastic A&Ring without passing over an particular gems. Wolski’s previous contribution, the crunching psych-out techno of “Derivate”, makes for a perfect primer to the full EP, where the many-layered characteristics of the single track get expanded upon over four separate cuts.

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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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Talamanca System – Balanzat

by on at 15:38pm

It wasn’t so long ago that Mark Barrott, the man behind the International Feel label, was thinking of calling time on his much-loved, Balearic-minded imprint. In fact, around the release of the label’s third anniversary compilation in 2012, he went on record as saying that “this could be the end”. Of course, the imprint’s hiatus was short-lived. After recharging his batteries and recording a serious amount of music at his Ibiza home – he relocated from Uruguay, where he founded the label, around the same time – the former Future Loop Foundation man returned with a string of new records. There was the slow acid-meets-Berlin techno chug of the Sonic Aesthetic 12”, then his first solo album under his given name – the decidedly ambient and picturesque Sketches From An Island. At the same time, he felt confident enough to reveal what most dedicated listeners already knew: much of the label’s “mysterious” output – those hard-to-find 12” singles by EFEEL, IFEEL Studio, Rocha, Bepu ‘N’ Gali, Young Gentlemen’s Adventure Society and Panda 88 – were all his handiwork.

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