Reviewed this week
Young Marco and A Good Christian draw the curtain down on their brilliant Italian dream house retrospective series, Welcome To Paradise, with a third and final instalment that's every bit as good as its predecessors. After opening with the previously unreleased brilliance of Jacy's "Resounding Seashell" - the kind of cut that deserves to be played at languid, laidback afternoon pool parties - the Dutch duo variously serves-up sought-after gems (Leo Anibaldi's Larry Heard-esque "Universal"), humid and intoxicating early morning anthems (the tribal chants, kaleidoscopic chords and New Jersey organs of Green Baize's "Tramp Heart"), early ambient house anthems (Deep Blue's "Deep Blue (The Inner Part of Me)") and stone cold classics (Don Carlos's "Overture").
Pentagram is Boratto's first album in four years, but it sounds like his time has been well spent. Expertly produced and crafted, it is also the Brazilian producer's most diverse release. It moves in style from the low slung electronic disco of "The Walker" into the live drums and guitar of "The Black Bookshelf" and the smart dance pop of "Overload", which features Luciana Villanova on vocals. Of course these could all be signs that Boratto has grown up and got serious - after all '"Forgotten" sounds like an adept take on punk funk and he veers into neo-classical on the sweeping strings and keys of "Scene 2". However, this album demonstrates that he is still capable of delivering the kind of spine tingling trance he made his name with, as the hands in the air trance-techno of "Alcazar" so effortlessly reminds us.
Famously, George Evelyn's Nightmares on Wax project is the only surviving link to Warp's early days as a bastion of Yorkshire house and techno. Of course, the Leeds native left that style behind years ago - though, interestingly, two tracks on this belated seventh album ("Eye (Can See)" and "Tapestry") touch on soul-sampling house - instead turning his attention to slinky downtempo grooves. For the most part, Feelin' Good sticks to the plan, offering up slow, laidback, summery fusions of soul, dub, funk, instrumental hip-hop and string-drenched Balearic moods. It's something of a return to form after a string of so-so sets, recalling Evelyn's two greatest moments, 1990s' downtempo classics Smokers Delight and Carboot Soul.
Although winding down their Welcome To Paradise series of Italian dream house compilations, Young Marco and A Good Christian continue to release some sublime music on Safe Trip, with the return of Darling and his fourth release on the imprint. This time around though it's a full length effort in the form of Tulipa Moves, featuring a collection of sublime moments and the deepest strains of electronica. It has a celestial/new-age aesthetic all throughout, a trademark carried on from his previous efforts for the label - that sits somewhere between The Abstract Eye's downbeat techno experiments or the aquatic bliss of Move D & Benjamin Brunn's Songs From The Beehive. You will note that the tracks utilise a variety of rhythmic patterns and percussive elements, exploring a range of unearthly but attractive sounds and are capable of stirring different emotions in human listeners.
Following outings on Running Back and his own Good Timin' imprint (the latter as one half of Conga Radio), Jex Opolis was arguably one of the underground success stories of 2015. He's at his best when focusing on vintage drum machines and synthesizers, knocking out cuts that sit somewhere between proto-house, early Chicago deep house and melodious, AM radio-friendly boogie. He touches on all of those influences for Good Timin', variously impressing with the sun-kissed beauty of "That's My Beach", the Moon B on anti-depressants brilliance of "Stay Cold", and the synth-heavy, house-flavoured dancefloor goodness of "Circle of Drums" and "Echo Harp".
Since the release of Jon Hassell's last album in 2009, there's been an upsurge in interest in the "Fourth World" style he pioneered alongside Brian Eno way back in 1980. It seems rather fitting, then, that the 81 year-old trumpeter turned experimentalist has returned to show the pretenders how it should be done. Listening To Pictures (Pentimento Volume 1) is every bit as alluring as you'd expect, with Hassell delivering thrilling new soundscapes that pull the Fourth World template (think combinations of American minimalism, ethnic styles from around the world, advanced electronics and manipulated trumpet sounds) in a variety of directions. It's in turns trippy, hypnotic, beautiful, poignant and otherworldly, with each ambient composition being accompanied by another where Hassell draws influence from contemporary IDM or drowsy experimental jazz.
Jazzanova's output has been particularly important to Germany's Sonar Kollektiv as of late, with the electronic producer providing exactly the sort of ethereal vibes needed to make sense in a musical world led by disparity. Jazzanova brings the peace and unity to the equation, balancing out the styles and providing something that everyone can find comfort in, such as this latest outing, which sees the artist remixing her own "Rain Makes The River" into a gentle, wide-eyed form of electornic r&b. Photay rewires the original, too, transforming it into a wonderfully sparse and pensive abstraction that has romance spewing from every angle. Terrific stuff.
Efficient Space is a Sydney based retrospective label operated by Noise In My Head. Here they are honoured to share the rare recordings of Yolngu musicians Bobby Bunnungurr, Jimmy Djamunba and Peter Milaynga (d. 2007) - working in collaboration with musician Peter Mumme. Yolngu are the indigenous people of Arnhem Land in Northern Territory, Australia. Their songs are of instruction, story and ceremony. Mumme explains that the aim was to produce something that is new, but what emerges from the combining of existing ideas. Waak Waak ga Min Min (Black Crow, White Cockatoo) combines the previously unreleased "Gandi Bawong" with five contemporary versions from the original album, and a new cover painting by Bunnungurr. Tracing 1997 back to many millennia ago, this is a captivating window into the richness of Aboriginal culture and collaboration.
Saucer-eyed ambient sorts Seahawks may well be impressively prolific (especially for an outfit dedicated to decidedly horizontal sounds), but they rarely disappoint. Astonishingly, Eternal Beams is their 13th studio set since 2010, suggesting a work rate that would make one of their inspirations, Tangerine Dream, proud. As usual, they combine drowsy, head-in-the-clouds ambient movements with the kind of thickset aural textures usually found on drone and dub techno releases. There's a little less sun-kissed Balearic cheeriness than on some previous sets, with the duo instead inviting legendary New York artist Laraaji (he of zither playing and laughter therapy fame) to put his decidedly cosmic stamp on a number of tracks. The results are, as you'd expect, predictably impressive.
Bristol's Chaouche touches down on our digi charts with her third instalment of LateNightTales, providing you with 12 beautiful segments of electronic delight, blurring the lines between electronica and modern UK r&b. This is a mood album from start to finish, with the artist's prophetic voice reigning supreme on every single one of these tracks, making it a special treat for anyone who's in the mood to vibe and chill out. It can be nostalgic in places, and ever so euphoric in others. In short, it is an album that both strikes a chord with the romantics out there, and which fits supremely well into the label's existing emporium of sounds.
Hampshire & Foat project is comprised of Greg & Warren. They are influenced heavily by not just Jazz, but the library sound of the '60s and '70s, along with film soundtracks from the same golden era. They are avid collectors of this music and this constant search sends them down new musical pathways - often sparking a whole new concept for projects. This collection of library tracks has been a much talked about project that was a long time coming, according to Edinburgh's Athens Of The North - and it was sure worth the wait! Highlights include the folky balearica of "Antonio's Theme" or "Coastal Drive" and pretty much any mix of the dreamy and mysterious "Nightshade".
Mexican producer Roderic delivers his second release for Berlin's Katermukke, developed together with his friend matt.i. He plays a number of instruments on the EP - he was born into a family of musicians, so knows which elements a song needs and what organic electronic music means. From the slo-mo balearica of "Passengers" (feat Asali) or "Serendipity" featuring sultry vocals by Isabel Sesma, to the deep and dreamy tech house of "It All Depends" (Deep version) and the moody dancefloor drama of the sublime "Jacaranda" - we are equally impressed by this fine effort by Roderic.
The mysterious Destino is here once again, bringing through his personal form of etherealism with this new EP for La Belle. Downtempo goes someway in describing this sound, but its quality rests in its hidden funk and dubwise mannerisms. "Louis", for instance, grooves along at a steady pace, guided by wonderful shades of low frequencies, whereas "Isla Grande" goes on a more 'digi' tip with its subtle bleep shapes and electro bass wound down to a mid-tempo haze. Alek Lee's remix of "Louis" adds yet more charm and mystique to an already deep and ethereal production that drives way out into the ether.
Following up great releases on Traum, Trapez and Novamute, French-Canadian Nicolas Bougaieff presents a three track EP on Max Cooper's Mesh imprint. Dust borrows its name from a book by Greg Egan, a sci-fi story where humans gain immortality by duplicating their consciousness via software. From the full throttle energy of the title track, where its austere elements are contrasted by sublime use of melody - altogether pulling you into the vortex. The intricate and multi-layered electro journey "Bremsstrahlung" showcases the dynamic producer's talent for impeccable sound design on this dystopian electro number, and "Dust Theory" is a nefarious dark ambient journey that isn't shy of using some serious overdrive and distortion.
For this extended compilation, the Atomrise Sounds Collective have pulled in some of their top names for a weighty selection, encompassing the vast breadth of modern breakbeat composition. There's something for everyone, be it on the 8bit driven drum cycles of KJK9's 'Total Error' or on 'Sugar' from CJ Alexis which combines acid inspired synthesis with eclectic drum sounds. The smooth summer vibes of Beatmatt's 'Physco Hedgehog' also sticks out from the pack, along with the powerful drum work of Fish Fugue's 'Rain Man'. This is one for a trained ear, prepare for the unexpected!
Much like the rest of the labels who have re-released Alessandro Alessandroni's material over the last three or four years, Four Flies Records have understood what this Italian maestro represented to the wider electronic movement. Sadly, the man passed away almost one year ago, but he has left a dynasty for years to come, and this is made all the more true given that this latest release, Lost & Found, has never even seen the light of day, until now. Branded as a soundtrack, this is a perfect representation of what the man did, and that was to produce music with a vision and a theme in mind, regardless of whether it truly existed or not. In fact, these gorgeous slices of exotica would certainly make for a delightful OST, with everything from ambient to disco, jazz and funk featuring across its 15 masterful tracks. This is inimitable gear - and warmly recommended.
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