Review: UK artist and former Monkeytown associate Alex Banks finds himself in recent times as a marquee artist for Max Cooper's Mesh label. In 2019 the artist released his second full length album and first for Mesh entitled Beneath The Surface which in 2020 was given the remix treatment by the likes of Ital Tek, Robert Koch, Nicolas Bougaieff and Max Cooper himself. Adding to Banks' reinvigorated flow is this Tephra EP, five deep and melodic tracks that emerged from two months of production in the rugged, black volcanic surroundings of the Canary Islands. Full on, heavy and progressive drums bring to mind the productions on Tresque (see "Vegueta") with all tracks striking at a middle ground of hope, melancholia, disdain, lust and beauty (in particular "Siren Call"). With subtle breakbeats submerged between the bleeps and distortion of the title track, "Uber Dem Vulcan Wolken" flirts with ideas of dubstep alongside the peaceful ambience of beatless track "The Space Between".
All You Could Do (feat Elizabeth Bernholz) - (4:16) 163 BPM
Initiate - (7:38)
Lights - (4:14)
Phosphorus - (5:56)
A Matter Of Time (feat Elizabeth Bernholz) - (7:06)
Sheya - (5:35) 140 BPM
Hush - (4:21)
Unknown - (7:58)
Review: Alex Banks has endured something of a stop-start career, first hitting record shelves in 2007 under the Munk 777 alias before finally returning - largely as a renowned DJ and remixer - a couple of years back. Here the Brighton producer finally fulfils his early promise with an excellent debut album for Modeselektor's Monkeytown Records. Illuminate sits somewhere between grandiose post-dubstep, sinewy string-laden deep house, jazz-flecked techno, murky glitch-hop and folksy electronica, with grandiose dancefloor moments (the gloriously rushing "Inititate") nestling side by side with woozier, more introspective pieces (the Bonobo-goes-electronic jazz of "Lights"). Immaculately produced and impressively atmospheric throughout, it's the sort of debut album that should propel Banks towards the upper echelons of electronic music.
All You Could Do (feat Elizabeth Bernholz) - (4:23) 163 BPM
Phosphorus - (5:56)
All You Could Do (feat Elizabeth Bernholz - Phon O remix) - (6:07) 140 BPM
All You Could Do (alternate version) - (3:54)
Review: Ahead of his debut album dropping on Monkeytown, Alex Banks gives the world a sneak peek at the sound he has been conjuring up by way of this single. The title track features the haunting vocal tones of Elizabeth Bernholz, whose siren song peals out over a frenetic mash of electronic beat mangling that calls to mind earlier strains of Clark. "Phosphorus" also gets busy in the edit, as infinitesimal sonic details bounce off of each other with the swagger of 2-step and some emotive synth work. Phon O reworks "All You Could Do" with a taut, stepping techno rhythm and a hopeful synth lilt, while Banks himself offers up an alternative version that moves in a slower, more spacious manner compared to the original.
Review: Veteran Berlin outfit Modeselektor take their "selektion" very seriously indeed. Perhaps this is why each instalment of Modeselektion, their painstakingly curated compilation series, takes so long to arrive. Here we finally have another sampler from part three. Highlights of these four tracks include the blissful synth fest of Alex Banks' "Be The One", the quirky, live electro-pop of Heinrik Schwarz's "We Are Bankrupt" and the off-kilter, acidic soulful hip-hop of "Jungle Love". Looks like the full-length album will be worth the wait.
Review: The first slab of tracks curated by Modeselektor for Modeselektion Vol. 3 may have been on a more introspective tip, but there's no such holding back to be found on Part 2 as bold colours and tough rhythms abound for the party-starting side to the German duos repertoire. L-Vis 1990 brings the heavyweight boogie influence while Illum Sphere marches forth with an electro urgency, Onra drops some cosmic '80s flourishes, and Brandt Brauer Frick link up with OmMas Keith and Vic Mensa for a mad intersection between broken beat, techno, R&B and plenty more besides. As ever eclecticism and a taste for the unusual define Modeselektor's choices, and they pull it off with style.