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Second Storey – Double Divide

by on at 15:55pm

It’s been a good long while that Alec Storey has been rounding out his own brand of electro funk. Formerly operating under the Al Tourettes moniker, his emergence has been nothing if not slippery, flitting between moments of great recognition before nestling back under the radar with his not-easily-defined musical character. From soundtrack turns on Black Swan to a fruitful partnership with Appleblim, playing drums for Will Saul to a thorough championing from Mary Anne Hobbs, there have been plenty of bouts of recognition for the skills the producer possesses, but this emergence of the Second Storey alias and the linking to Houndstooth feels like the most decisive step forward for the London-via-Norfolk-and-Bristol artist.

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Ekranoplan – Wing In Surface Effect

by on at 09:30am

Even though the All Caps label name might imply a certain aggressiveness (at least, that’s what this writer imagines ALL CAPITALIZED WORDS imply), the Glasgow label’s output has recently been bustling with what seems like a second wind of creative inspiration – a distortion-laced DJ Guy re-issue from 1996 and Bluntman Deejay’s smoked out Esoteric Communion EP are two releases which pushed the label in a slightly more experimental direction. That’s not to say that earlier releases by Helix & Kowton didn’t have their groundbreaking moments, but their functional, non-nonsense aesthetic and blistering drum patterns signified that they were, if not “for club use only”, at least primarily intended for crowded rooms of perspiring dancers.

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Guyer’s Connection – Portrait

by on at 09:13am

There’s something to be said for a certain purity, isn’t there? So often it’s the records that weren’t even expecting to be bought, the bands that never thought anyone would show up to see them live, the songs made as if nobody was ever going to listen that end up have lasting effects. And it isn’t only archival festishism – some albums, like this one, attest to the fact that solitary experiments sometimes become pivotal in the story of a music. Tibor Csebits and Philippe Alioth self-released Portrait in their hometown of Basel – even singing in the Basel dialect at times – when they were about fifteen years old. They liked synthesizers so they experimented, they wrote some songs, they had a lot of fun, and ended up defining a certain kind of minimal synth while they were at it.

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Stéphane Laporte – Fourrure Sounds

by on at 09:13am


Quentin Vandewalle’s Antinote is a rare beast: a label that is almost impossible to pin down. Though the Paris label first surfaced with the archival proto techno of Iueke, Antinote has developed into an increasingly open-minded concern, hopping between the John Carpenter-inspired synth-wave of Nico Motte’s excellent Rheologia, the Future Times-ish tropical wizardry of DK, the cozy dream-pop of Syracuse, And that’s before we get to the dense and off kilter rhythms of Albinos.

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LAPS – Ladies as Pimps EP

by on at 15:58pm

The hive of activity centred around Glasgow creative space The Green Door Studio comes up trumps once more, as one half of Organs Of Love joins forces with a Golden Teacher to form LAPS for the latest slab of excellence from the Clan Destine label. As LAPS, Alicia Matthews of Organs Of Love is Sue Zuki and Golden Teacher’s Cassie Ojay becomes Lady Two Collars; any worry of this sounding like the makings of a discarded Mighty Boosh episode is however put aside, as the pair rip through seven tracks that throw elements from all corners of their musical influences into the mix with the odd bit of assistance from their friends and contemporaries.

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Austin Cesear – West Side

by on at 09:00am

For someone with reasonably limited exposure, Austin Cesear has managed to leave quite an impression with his releases thus far. It helps of course that his sound has found favour with those steering such vaunted ships as Opal Tapes, Proibito and Public Information, for whom he returns to serve a follow-up to his Cruise Forever debut, but such affiliations only speak to the quality of the music rather than some notion of right-place-right-time hype. His first long player on Public Information was certainly a striking affair that drew on all manner of house and techno abstractions to make its presence felt, with plenty of dubby sensibilities rubbed into its muscles and ample breathing room for experimentation. It’s a premise that continues with West Side, a six-tracker reportedly written in homage to the docks of Oakland, California; although music of this nature is fairly wide open to thematic interpretation.

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Various Artists – Rock The Box Volume 1

by on at 09:39am

There’s something refreshingly honest about the kaleidoscopic, drum-machine heavy retro-futurism of Benny Badge and Inkswel’s Hot Shot Sounds label. Hot Shot has never hidden it’s influences; it’s raison d’être is simple: to deliver synthesizer-heavy music inspired by “electronic soul” from the ‘80s and, to a lesser extent, early ‘90s. There’s not much more to it than that, meaning the label’s reputation rises and falls on the quality of the material; not so much whether it ripples with the aural trademarks of 1980s funk, soul, disco and electro – for the record, it usually does – but whether each track is good enough to stand on its’ own two feet.

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Richard H Kirk – Never Lose Your Shadow

by on at 09:24am


Originally released in 2004 as part of a double CD Richard H Kirk retrospective called Earlier Later (Unreleased Projects Anthology 74-89) on the Mute archival label The Grey Area, “Never Lose Your Shadow” gets its first ever vinyl release courtesy of Minimal Wave. Label founder Veronica Vasicka has been playing the track in her sets and it does sound very familiar, but maybe it’s also because Kirk’s influence has loomed large over electronic music.

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JTC – Escalator To Sorga EP

by on at 13:45pm

Everyone’s favourite contemporary acid troubadour is at it again. Tadd Mullinix is a restless musical soul, whether turning out the sweaty, scatty box jams as James T Cotton, the bugging hip hop business as Dabrye or turning his hand to the rudest jungle as SK1. The ideas have always run ahead of the stylistic tributaries of Mullinix’s musical career, ensuring his output has been defined by a distinctive flair that leaves the competition struggling to catch up, and he shows no signs of slowing down.

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DJ October – Gate 2 Yesterday

by on at 09:33am

Consistency is an enviable trait, and in thinking of something to apply to DJ October’s signature blend of dub techno, five o’clock shadow house and ambient – and this review – it’s tempting to deliver that line and be done with it. I will always download an October release, always enjoy it. I like this new one too! Consistency sometimes seems such a backhanded compliment though; can’t think of much else to say, the records are always good right? Consistent.

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Manuel Gonzalez – Filth

by on at 15:59pm

It would be fair to say that Manuel ‘MGUN’ Gonzalez doesn’t fall into neat Detroit techno stereotypes. Despite hailing from the Motor City, Gonzalez’s taste in techno is altogether darker, bleaker and murkier than the city’s traditional far-sighted, sci-fi influenced futurist sound. Of course, Detroit has produced many techno titans who prefer their beats raw and pounding – Robert Hood springs to mind, with honourable nods to the darker material of Jeff Mills and Drexciya – but these have largely been one-offs; acts who swam against the general air of intergalactic positivity. Even Kyle Hall, a young producer capable of intense workouts that push the raw ideal to its’ very limits, made his name with relatively melodious, futuristic productions.

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Bruce – Just Getting Started

by on at 09:29am

As the Livity Sound sublabel continues its mission to draw in external producers that share in the particular vision of Pev, Kowton and Asusu, so they turn to a completely fresh proposition in the shape of Bruce. While he may be a young producer, his approach feels like a logical continuation of the path laid out by Alex Coulton, Batu and Hodge in furthering the distinct message Livity Sound is conveying. Weight of production and a soundsystem sensibility have always been key to the labels, and from the outset Bruce has those prerequisites in spades. On the increasingly fragmented dirt road between techno and dubstep both of the tracks on Just Getting Started draw on the energy of both camps as they impart the addictive, show-stopping fireworks that make a Livity track stand out in the heat of a loaded dance.

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Maxmillion Dunbar – Drizzling Glass

by on at 09:42am


Andrew Field-Pickering seems to have a 24 hour direct line available to feelings of wonderment. His work with Ari Goldman on the Beautiful Swimmers LP Son seemed to literally manifest the summertime if you closed your eyes while you played it – full of boisterous Balearic riffs, vocal clips extolling the virtues of smoking pot while getting erotic on a waterbed, and even some jazz-scatting thrown in for good measure, it’s impossible not to feel uplifted when “Swimmer’s Groove” comes on.

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Jo Johnson – Weaving

by on at 09:42am

The most recent Separate Mind column from this writer asked ‘what’s in a name?’ and for ambient producer Jo Johnson, it seems that her membership of the riot grrrl band Huggy Bear continues to play a big part of her public persona. This association was one of the first things that nearly every online news item about the release of debut album Weaving led with – despite the fact that it was over 20 years since she played with the band.

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Al Dobson Jr – Rye Lane Versions

by on at 17:12pm

For those of us who review music for a living, the laziness of both artists and labels can be a constant source of frustration. This is particularly true when it comes to the humble remix. So often an afterthought or a simple marketing exercise, the power of the remix has waned in recent years thanks to a combination of sound-alike versions, limp revisions and needless, big name tweaks. That’s not to say that inspired, next-level remixes aren’t being released – see Maxmillion Dunbar’s schizophrenic, juke-goes-jack revision of Adjowa’s synth-laden “Science of Soul”, or Cloudface’s inspired, pitched-down new age house take on Bantam Lions’ “Recollections” for recent examples – it’s just that they seem increasingly few and far between.

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Tin Man – Ode

by on at 10:42am


Although at this stage he is ten years into his releasing career, most would agree that it is in the last couple of years that Johannes ‘Tin Man’ Auvinen has reached the wider electronic music consciousness, helped in no small part by allegiances to such respected institutions as Killekill, Pomelo and the Acid Test series from Absurd Recordings. Likewise his collaborations with the likes of Cassegrain and Donato Dozzy have contributed to this recognition amongst the house and techno cognoscenti, but really Auvinen’s success lies past these surface signifiers, instead emanating from his gifted reappraisal of one of the most well-worn sounds in electronic dance music. By rights acid should have hit a creative cul-de-sac a long time ago, and there is no shortage of artists flogging the same lysergic rave style for lack of a new path to tread, but Auvinen has always stood head and shoulders above the pack as a force for creativity and invention around the nexus of a TB-303.

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Bantam Lions – Recollections EP

by on at 15:30pm

With a few notable exceptions, record labels rarely get it right first time. In truth, it can take any imprint a little while to find its’ identity, develop a solid roster of artists, and really start hitting its straps. Once has label has found that place – be it the tropical fluidity of Mood Hut, the blistering intensity of L.I.E.S, or the star-gazing leftfield disco vibe of Beats In Space – then magic usually follows. With this release from hometown producer Bantam Lions, Liverpool’s Scenery Records may have finally come of age. It’s been nearly two years since the label launched, and in that time their releases have been steadily improving.

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Function & Vatican Shadow – Games Have Rules

by on at 10:10am


For two artists whose records are characterised by dramatic flourishes, iconoclastic imagery and distinctive sound palettes, the Games Have Rules collaboration is a decidedly understated affair. While it focuses on a largely ambient approach, the album was conceived in and inspired by New York and is fuelled by a sense of quiet determination and undulating vitality that defines that city. If there are prior reference points in either producer’s back catalogue, they are traceable back to Dave Sumner’s releases. The former Sandwell District member has recently been engaged in a series of projects that brought him back to his roots since the techno collective closed its doors. First, there was his debut solo album, Incubation, which contained influences from the 90s output of Speedy J and Plastikman in its sleek rhythms and teemed with acid ticks and trancey synth bursts.

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Lee Gamble – KOCH

by on at 10:09am


What you’ve got is a whole… miserable subculture“. Spoken by an anonymous voice, these words are the only ones uttered in the entirety of Lee Gamble’s KOCH. Given the London-based producer’s penchant for revisiting the past, the statement could easily be interpreted as ironic – maybe the clip has been plucked from archival footage in the ’90s, maybe from a news segment extolling the dangers of jungle music.

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LV & Josh Idehen – Islands

by on at 10:05am

After the runaway success of Routes in 2011, LV and Joshua Idehen have linked up once again to deliver a second long-player that fuses the playful electronics of the production outfit with Idehen’s dexterous and devastatingly poetic postulations on modern city living. Vibrant with originality, accessibility and unpredictability, the first album managed to place itself outside of standard scenic currents and exist as a singular artistic statement, and now its only peer is its successor. This isn’t a case of repeating the same trick twice however, but rather a logical continuation of the intriguing path down which the combined creative forces of LV and Idehen are heading, and it’s a damn fine trajectory to return to.

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