Review: It's amazing to think that Jay Daniel is still only 25. Since making his debut five years ago, the producer has been responsible for some of the finest house music to emerge from Detroit in recent times. Interestingly, he's slightly modified his woozy and gently soul-flecked blueprint on this hotly anticipated debut album. For starters, many of the tracks - standouts "Paradise Valley" and "Knowledge of Selfie" included - feature live drums, played and recorded in his mother's basement. This rhythmic adjustment gives Broken Knowz a far looser and warmer feel than his previous work, in the process elevating his deliciously rich and musical deep house to a whole new level. In other words, it's an impressively assured and entertaining debut album.
Review: We were rather surprised to learn that "Eyes of My Mind" is Axel Boman's first solo single on Studio Barnhus, the label he co-founded, since 2013. It's also his first EP of any sort since 2017 (though 2019 did see the release of his fine "Le New Life" LP on Mule Musiq). The track is little less than a loved-up aural hug; a slow building, deliciously glassy-eyed affair in which dreamy chords, quirky vocal samples, droning bass tones and bubbly electronic motifs ride a bustling, loose-limbed drum track that sits somewhere between regular deep house, Max D's Dolo Percussion project and good old-fashioned breakbeat. Boman calms things down dramatically on "Echoes of My Mind", a swelling, wall-of-sound ambient revision of the A-side that's as comforting and meditative as they come.
Review: Four years since their last album British duo Darkstar return to Warp with a new single, Wolf, backed by two strokes of subliminal genius from John Talabot. The single itself presents a resonating nebula of sub-pop, R&B and electro, with metachronous tones evoking feelings of our current day with memories from post dubstep's collapse. With melancholia and shuttering drum machines at play too, Talabot's remixes shape the original's vocals, textures and breaths to fit deep tunneling minimalism for the Euro-heads, with the 'Materia' remix blending harder edged body music with rave and warehouse techno.
Review: Albums don't get more personal than The Fifty Eleven Project. Penned by Kasper Bjorke together with three of his friends - hence the quartet name - it's a musical soundtrack to his cancer diagnosis in 2011, followed by his treatment and recovery. While the Danish producer has said that it follows emotions both 'light and dark', it also contains moments where his fear of relapse surfaces. "Line of Life (Prologue)" and "Seminom Non Seminom" presumably represent the more positive side of Bjorke's journey, thanks to their beautiful strings and fragile synth lines. There are other, more brooding, tense pieces like "11" - possibly a reference to the year of his diagnosis - but in the main this is a celebration of life in the truest sense.
Review: To do their bit to support artists during the lockdown, music website Ransom Note has put together this compilation, with sees the participating artists receiving much welcomed support. It starts with left of centre post-punk sounds from Malcolm and Funderground, before moving into the gritty, lo-fi house groove of Local Suicide & Thomas Jackson's "Hit & Miss". On "Like To Lie", R Elizabeth & Burko conjure up a jittery electro track, while Bawrut's "Triangulo De Amor Bizarro" sees the compilation descend into low-slung jacking techno, accompanied by Chico Blanco's sleazy vocals. Otik & Tom VR's "Poly Echo 97", which is supported by broken beats and features eerie textures.
Review: Plaid duo Andy Turner and Ed Handley have been active since the late '80s and are as synonymous with Warp Records as Autechre or Nightmares On Wax. Plaid have few rivals when it comes to mixing choppy electronics with intricate melodies, an approach that seems as fresh and rewarding as ever on Reachy Prints, a tenth album of a celebrated recording career. According to Warp, the nine tracks here find Handley and Turner opening the listener up to the possibility of a sonic "journey into a subterranean world" and you might view such press release speak with a pinch of salt, but tracks such as "Hawkmoth" and "Slam" feel like vintage Plaid.
Review: Japanese producer Kuniyuki Takahashi has been known under many alises over the years, including Forth for dub techno/acid house, Frr Hive where he pursued downtempo/drum n' bass and of course Koss for techno - where he recorded several techno releases for local institution Mule Electronic/Musiq. Now Tako and Jamie Tiller at Music From Memory focus in on the veteran producer on this retrospective compilation. The first of two volumes, this release gathers together a selection of tracks from a small run of privately released tape only albums, highlighting selected moments in Takahashi's previously unknown musical output. At his home studio in of Sapporo, Takahashi recorded extensively between 1986 and 1993, experimenting with limited equipment he had gathered together. Driven to develop a musical language derived as much by an exploration of music technology and a desire to create, he was also looking to evolve the possibilities of what he refers to as a 'new Oriental sound'. Textured and glistening new age/ambient soundscapes for the most part featured here, but we really enjoyed the somewhat Tackhead/On U Sound sounding "Signifie" or the industrial beats of "Zero To One" reminiscent of early Chris & Cosey.
Review: A mighty 19 years since we last heard a solo album from Regis on Downwards, Hidden In This Is The Light That You Miss sees Karl O'Connor return with a post-era defining sound. Stripped-back, heavy, and broken beat techno swinging with tribal percussion and industrial malice, it's tracks like "Cracked Earth", "Calling Down A Curse" and "The Sun Rose Pure" that should appeal most to hardened Downwards characters. Find slower, more malevolent numbers in "The Blind Departing", made harder still by the moans and gnarly bass in "I See Fire", collectively plotted through a album of loose narratives and beatless sound design in tracks like "Eros In Tangiers" and "Alone Of All Her Sex". Long live Regis!
Review: Lovers of Move D & Benjamin Brunn will know it's been a long time coming since we've heard new material for the ambient house loving duo - no that we expected it! In this poetic display for Smallville it brings back haze, smells and memories from a time when we associated the label Smallville with STL's At Disconnected Moments and Songs From The Beehive, the duo's incredible second album. The pair's concept pushes even further into ambient pastures this time and you can expect baths of warm, think and heavy floating basslines being graced by waving pads, soft arpeggios and the pitter patter of spaced out, glitchy pops of percussion. Ambient house at its finest.
Review: Somewhere deep in Lyon's wilderness is Flore, a French producer whose music we've come to know over the past decade via her Polaar label. She makes deep, immersive and cinematically powerful synth, ambient and drums tracks that these days are good enough to soundtrack any post-dystopian film or thriller. With a sound reminiscent of Pantha Du Prince's cold wind chimes and snowy percussion in parts, Rituals marks Flore's second album in 10 years and brings together her three Rituals EPs released on Polaar between 2014-2019. The result is a savage energy that opens doors to new musical landscapes, constantly oscillating between interrupted daydreaming and furious tribal dances of pop, techno, experimental beat making and industrial sound designs.
Review: After two long years it's great to welcome back Archie "Romare" Fairhurst, a producer whose 2015 and 2016 albums on Ninja Tune were amongst the label's most potent releases of the last five years. We suspect there's a new album on the way; regardless, this two-tracker is a must-listen. We're particularly enjoying opener "Gone", a sweetly off-kilter affair that sees glassy-eyed chords, loved-up electronics and manipulated blues/jazz samples (piano and vocal) rise above a sparse but brilliantly programmed drum machine rhythm. Virtual B-side "Danger" is equally as potent, with more bluesy vocal samples and fuzzy, electric piano style motifs bubbling away atop a hypnotic, mid-tempo rhythm track and weighty analogue bass.
Review: Such has been the dizzying rise of Helena Hauff in recent years that the release of her second album, Qualm, feels like a genuine "event". Preceded by a limited, while label edition, the Hamburg producer's first full-length in three years is undoubtedly worthy of the growing hype surrounding it. By design, the 12 tracks are raw, distorted and lo-fi, with Hauff peppering heavyweight, redlined drum machine beats - think wayward Chicago jack, laidback electro and nails techno - with a mixture of razor-sharp acid lines, moody industrial textures and drowsy chords. The clattering intensity of the album's dancefloor moments is in sharp contrast to the creepy and evocative, soundtrack style electronic soundscapes showcased elsewhere on the album. These - ambient in ethos, but more experimental in tone - are frequently amongst the set's most inspired moments.
Review: Fake's Providence narrative continues with unique and innovative thrust as renowned experimental composer Olga Wojciechowska repurposes and re-orchestrates his most startling and original work to date. Rich, perplexing and full of drama, Nathan's signature abrasion is felt with even more emphasis and timeless scope as the eminent Polish composer works her magic. Also included is a breath-taking ambient twist from Konx-Om-Pax and live versions from Nathan himself. Providential.
Review: Given his meteoric rise over the past 18 months, it's no surprise to find Seven Davis Jr bringing his hard-to-pigeonhole brand of dancefloor soul to Ninja Tune. "Wild Hearts", his first release for Coldcut's veteran label, finds him in fine form, delivering the sort of dusty, off-kilter, floor-friendly effort that sits somewhere between the soulful, jazz-tinged deepness of Moodymann, the bumpin' swing of Derrick Carter, and the impeccable modern soul of Amp Fiddler or Peven Everett. It's arguably his strongest single for sometime, with the L.A-based producer's vocals riding a thrusting groove (blessed with rubbery jazz bass), warm organ chords and jaunty pianos. We await his LP for Ninja Tune with real interest.
Review: We all know and love Mark Pritchard. The Cornish producer has been one of Warp's finest artists since the '90s, and he has produced nothing but excellence from day one. We don't need to go into his history, as you should bloody well know it given the fact that you've landed here, but we will give you a little taster of what is at the heart of Under The Sun. The sound is definitely one that is shifting in shape, and while he has been known to make everything from techno to futuristic jungle, this LP is much more about mood and vibe, something that is clear from the appearance of Radiohead's Thom Yorke on "Beautiful People". That is not to say that the album is in any way too delicate or soft and, in fact, there are plenty of dark and foreboding moments that have rendered this dude's musical career so illustrious.