A fascination with imagined landscapes seems to have been evident in the work of Daniel Lopatin since the beginning or his career – and probably since before then. Betrayed In The Octagon, his debut as Oneohtrix Point Never, seemed to create towering crystalline structures out of its drifting arpeggios and indistinct chords, placed within an landscape that seemed to exist within a vast alien dimension filled with violet skies (something perhaps best represented on the cover of the Rifts LP which collected its tracks). In 2010’s Returnal, this space became more turbulent, rocked by rougher textures. 2011’s Replica took a different approach entirely; taking samples from 1980s commercials and forming them into a unique musical language. It was an occasionally claustrophobic album inverting his usual space into something much more concentrated. Rather than a panoramic listening experience Replica was introspective, seemingly designed to muddle the brain and force the listener inside their own imagined space rather than one of Lopatin’s design.
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It’s been a long time between drinks for Boards of Canada pair Mike Sandison & Marcus Eoin. While they were never forgotten – thanks, primarily, to the cultish following they’ve built up over the years – it’s fair to say that much has changed in the musical landscape since the release of their last album, 2005’s The Campfire Headphase.
Warp Records have announced full details of Mount Kimbie’s long awaited second album, Cold Spring Fault Less Youth.
Exai is not an easy record. Across its two hours Sean Booth and Rob Brown’s eulogy to dying machines clanks and pounds like the engine room of a coal-powered ocean liner. Alien sounds emerge through smoke in fleeting clarity, then dissolve back into ether. It takes concentration to peer through the miasma, to gradually make out shapes and sounds and grow slightly more accustomed to Exai’s peculiar landscape without bumping into things. It’s an album that demands, and rewards, the attentive listener.
Veteran producer Jamie Lidell will release his fifth solo album in February 2013 – get an idea of what to expect from “What A Shame”, streaming below.
Warp Records have just announced details of the next album from electronic and ambient pioneer Brian Eno.
London based duo Mount Kimbie today announced they have signed to venerable UK electronic music label Warp Records.
As the bleak 1980s turned to the hopeful 90s, a new sound was taking shape in a handful of shellshocked Yorkshire towns and cities. In makeshift bedroom studios in Bradford, Leeds and, most famously, Sheffield, young producers were crafting a sound that would announce the arrival of Warp Records and change British electronic music forever: bleep.
Although largely forgotten, bleep – sometimes referred to as “Yorkshire bleep and bass” – remains one of Britain’s most thrilling and eccentric musical developments. Personally, I would argue that it was the first example of a truly homegrown British style of dance music. Previously, British house and techno music had largely offered little not provided by the titans of Detroit, Chicago and New York. Even the most famous British house records of the era, for example “Voodoo Ray” or T-Coy’s 1987 Latin-themed “Carino”, sounded like they could have been made by Americans.
Bleep was like nothing the world had heard before. Alien, sub-heavy, otherworldly and unashamedly bassy, it sounded like the party-minded soundtrack to terminal industrial decline. The exact catalyst for this musical revolution remains a point of much discussion – not to mention inter-city rivalry between Leeds and Sheffield – but the genre’s unique aesthetics appear to have risen from the cross-pollination of dub soundsystem culture and contemporary electronic music in both cities’ underground clubs (most notably, perhaps, Occasions and Jive Turkey in Sheffield).
While Bradford natives Unique 3 started it all with their 1988 12” “Only The Beginning” and subsequent hit “The Theme” (1989), the record that would become the blueprint for an entire genre was Forgemasters’ “Track With No Name”. Partly produced by a Sheffield soundsystem builder and studio engineer called Rob Gordon, it sent shockwaves through clubs not just throughout Yorkshire, but worldwide. It also announced the arrival of a label that would become synonymous with bleep, Warp Records.
It wasn’t long before other Yorkshire DJs and producers began to make their own bleep records. There was LFO and Nightmares on Wax from Leeds, and Sheffield’s own supergroup, Sweet Exorcist. Arguably, it was the latter who left the greatest legacy in terms of authentic bleep productions, as RetroActivity, a long-overdue anthology of their productions, attests.
Sweet Exorcist had credentials. It was a collaboration between one of Sheffield’s most visionary and celebrated electronic producers, Cabaret Voltaire man Richard H Kirk, and Jive Turkey resident DJ Parrot (later of the All Seeing I, and soon to release new material on Classic). The fruits of the duo’s first studio session were dynamite: “Testone”. In many ways, the suite of “Test” tracks released in 1990 are the best remaining examples of bleep in its purest form. Raw, spooky, uncompromising and focused on the twin attractions of unfeasibly heavy sub-bass (provided by accidental bleep overlord Rob Gordon) and a simple but devastating melody, “Testone” through “Testsix (Toneapella)” remain powerful and unique dancefloor records. RetroActivity showcases them – alongside an early demo of of “Testone” minus its famous melody – in remastered form. It goes without saying that they sound fantastic.
But Sweet Exorcist didn’t stop there. Over the next year, they released a couple more 12” singles for Warp and an album, C.C.I.D. While the latter – included here in its entirety – largely featured 808-heavy house productions with the duo’s distinct bleep touch, it’s their techno productions that still bristle with clanking industrial intent. Check, for example, “Samba”, “Bonus Samba” or the various versions of the eerily dystopian “Clonk’s Coming”, which recast Xon’s “Midnight Express” (a lesser-known bleep-era collaboration between Kirk and Rob Gordon) as an uneasy fusion of star-gazing futurism and clattering industrial percussion. Whether the empty factories that then dominated Sheffield’s Wicker and Attercliffe districts were an inspiration is unknown; to these ears, at least, it certainly sounds that way.
RetroActivity is a fitting tribute to both Sweet Exorcist, whose star burned all too briefly, and bleep techno – a revolutionary genre whose stark, post-industrial narrative offers a uniquely British story to match that of Detroit’s earliest electronic pioneers. The Attercliffe Two doesn’t have quite the same ring as the Belleville Three, but Kirk and Parrot’s influence on British techno was almost as great.
A group of producers selected by former Blur frontman Damon Albarn will release an album made in collaboration with more than 50 Congolese musicians, with proceeds going to Oxfam.
There has, naturally, been a certain amount of hype surrounding Africa Hitech – and with good reason. For starters, it seems a partnership capable of great things. Individually, Australian dwelling Englishmen Mark Pritchard and Steve Spacek have achieved much in electronic music; the former as Harmonic 313, and as part of such seminal acts as Global Communications, and the latter as the creative force behind tech-soul legends Spacek. They’ve got the skills, the ideas and the track records to collaboratively produce something very special indeed.
Then there’s the Africa Hitech concept itself. Based primarily on offering a hard-edged, futurist take on what is sometimes glibly called bass music, it offers almost endless possibilities for two of electronic music’s most inventive producers. Thankfully, 93 Million Miles is largely worthy of the hype. It feels like an “event” album – one of those occasional punctuation marks in the underground music timeline that captures the zeitgeist perfectly. As such, it should be essential listening not just for oversized cap wearing bassheads, but anyone with a passing interest in the continued development of electronic music.
With its warped fusion of percussive sounds and styles (digital dancehall, footwork, house, dubstep, techno, grime, jazz etc), rough analogue electronics and, most importantly, seriously heavyweight basslines, it’s simultaneously outrageously far-sighted and comfortingly retrospective. Along the way, there are anthemic moments (the already huge “Out In The Streets”, the Chicago Juke-inspired “Foot Step”), forays into wonky tech-soul (“Our Luv”, “Spirit”, “Don’t Fight It”), sweet space-jazz jams (“Cyclic Sun”) and bassbin-busting speaker assaults (“Gangslap”) – all wrapped up in Pritchard and Spacek’s immaculate space-age production. For a fleeting moment, the future has arrived. Plug yourself in and enjoy the ride.
Not content with releasing one of this year’s most captivating albums in A Sufi & A Killer, Warp enlist a veritable trove of production deities to add some new weight to the distinctive vocals of LA yoga teacher turned mystical sonic wizard Gonjasufi. Amidst a sea of praise and applause for Gonjasufi’s debut album, the only real complaint was a sense of unease at Gaslamp Killer’s production credits for a wholesale plundering of samples and breaks. A problem which is more or less remedied on The Caliph’s Tea Party - furthermore there are some truly stunning reinterpretations within. Commencing with the ambient Morricone hues of Mark Pritchard’s “Ancestors” remix, what really impresses is Warp’s decision to call in rising production talent like Dam Mantle and Dem Hunger. Indeed it’s the former who excels on a remix of “Ageing” that dices up the vocals over pulsing bass led half step stutter that burst with soul when the organ riffs drop. Elsewhere Bear In Heaven go all Axelrod on the ripping remix of Love of Reign and Oneohtrix Point Never delivers the highlight with a stunningly beautiful rendition of “She’s Gone”.
Music thrives on mystery, and Tom Jenkinson aka Squarepusher has provided it in spades since his early singles in the mid 90s. His esoteric appeal is almost unparalleled, thanks to his 20 minute bass solos, Amen-sampling end-of-the-world drum and bass and excursions into ambient jazz. His fan club includes Andre 3000 and Thom Yorke, while Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers once declared Jenkinson “the best bass player in the world”.
His new project, Shobaleader One, was formed when a troupe of musicians – who, true to form, shall remain anonymous – approached Jenkinson to put into reality a daydream about watching a “crazy, beautiful rock band play an ultra-gig” that he mentioned in the sleeve notes of his 2008 album Just A Souvenir. The Shobaleader One album is ostensibly his most accessible work to date, but it still came as a surprise to many when the debut single was released not on Warp, but on Pedro Winter’s Ed Banger. The French imprint is best known for its electro club tackle, although it does harbour its own small stable of leftfield thinkers (chiefly Krazy Baldhead and Messer’s Flash and Oizo). Indeed it was the latter who provided a suitably off kilter remix when the Cryptic Motion EP hit the shelves in September. With the full album, entitled D’Demonstrator, set for release on October 18 – this time back on Warp – Juno Plus editor Aaron Coultate caught up with one of electronic music’s most revered characters.