Review: Here's something to set the pulse racing: a first collaborative EP from underground electronica veterans Arovane (AKA German producer Uwe Zahn) and Synkro (Brit studio don Joe McBride). Fittingly, showcased tracks sound like they could have been featured on an Apollo release from the mid-1990s, rather than late 2018. Check, for example, opener "New Dawn", where Manna-ish ambient chords and twinkling melodies rise above a hybrid IDM/experimental D&B groove, or the classic, Selected Ambient Works-era Aphex Twin loveliness of "Facing North". Some may hear echoes of Boards of Canada is the blissfully melodious and rhythmically jaunty "Rhizome", while "AspenA" would not have felt out of place on an early Biosphere album. In other words, this is a superb EP of retro-futurist electronica.
Review: Who says smoking stunts your growth? Look at Smoking Sessions; 10 years in the game and never been bigger. Inhabiting that fertile axis between dub, garage, electronica and dubstep, its roster features some of the most innovative names in bass music such as Djrum, Geode, Synkro. Here we hit some selected cuts from the full 14-track anniversary album. Ranging from beautiful new moments such as Geode's mystic string-melting stepper "Ishikari" to out-and-out cult label anthems such as Synkro's perennial "Don't Know" and Djrum's measured and meditative "Plead With Me", this immaculate collection represents the label's distinctive and striking remit and sets us up for the next 10 smoky years. Spark up.
Review: Pretty dope two tracker from Manchester based producer Synkro on fledgling imprint Pushing Red, which has already brought us some next level business from Jus Wan, ASC and Ruckspin featuring Jack Sparrow. "Viewpoint" is dripping with the kind of soul and emotion that brings to mind the work of Sepalcure, with garagey beats drowning beneath deftly clipped vocal elements and the most delicate of chiming sonic touches. "That Girl" is more beautiful still - with what sounds like a pitched down R&B vocal cut buried deep under a crackling half step beat. Bliss.
Review: Has it been thirty years already? This celebratory R&S Records compilation doesn't just bring with it the nostalgic charm of tracks by names we shouldn't forget (Capricorn, Jam & Spoon, Second Phase and Mundo Muzique) and tracks we couldn't forget (Outlander's "Vamp" and Joey Beltram's "Energy Flash"), it also brings with it contemporary R&S classics like Tessela's "Nancy's Pantry", "Airglow Fires" by Lone, Vondelpark's indie-laced "California Analogue Dream" and Blawan's "Shader". 30 Years Of R&S Records takes the listener down memory lane, while lighting a path for what will hopefully be another 30 years.
Review: Kicking off with a VIP of one of the killer 90s jungle nostalgia anthems of 2010 - Bladerunner's "Back To The Jungle" - it's a great start to the next Critical compilation. Moving through the tough, percussive sounds of Break, soulful dub tinged efforts of Breakage, the blissed out Calibre in "Rockafella" to the sounds of man-of-the-moment, hotly tipped Enei with his fantastic "Forgive Me" around the halfway point, it's immediately apparent why Kasra's label has garnered such respect from his peers. Lomax - one half of Loadstar - provides a deeper incarnation to his Ram bangers in "Innocent X" and elsewhere, Rockwell's "Underpass" makes a re-emergence as does ubiquitous anthem "Redlines" which closes this utterly superb compilation.