Review: Along with pal Black Zone Myth Chant, Low Jack has been responsible for some of the most intense, interesting and downright odd electronic music of recent times. Given this impressive record, it's unsurprising that Modern Love has snapped up Lighthouse Stories, his third full-length. Interestingly, it sees him move away from the dystopian, post-apocalyptic techno sound he's become famous for, instead delivering a set that mirrors the dark-and-light, slow-and-fast hybrid frequently showcased on Black Zone Myth Chant releases. Like that project, the music on Lighthouse Stories is damn near impossible to pigeonhole, sitting somewhere between uncomfortable intensity and exotic beauty.
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: The time is now for John Beltran, a much loved Detroit producer and too often unchampioned legend of the ambient melodica garde. A marquee artist on Delsin for some years now, The Season Series presents a collection of motif-tipped and colorful compositions that draw on beatless atmospheres that on two occasions blissfully trip through classic Detroit house in tracks like "Lustrous Orb" and "Sunflower". Elsewhere, the LP focuses on beatless bleep and melodica in "Euphoric Dream Ocean", "You Interalize Them" and "Lose You", to the almost Enya-like "I Can Chase You Forever". For John Betran fans, this is a must.
Review: Shooting the footwork blueprint into the ether, DJ Diamond returns to his world-beating 2011 LP Flight Muzik with this extended Japanese release that features additional offcuts from his time spent working with Planet Mu. While the appeal of footwork and juke in the UK has largely been for the futuristic qualities of the drum patterns and tempos, Diamond's approach truly builds on this potential by shearing away the necessary danceability of the music to wind up with a bugged out electronica that shimmers with the kind of production flair you might expect of Prefuse 73 working at hyped up tempos. With some choice tracks from the Bangs & Works compilations included here, there's plenty for the DJ Diamond completists to be digging into on this re-release.
Review: Since the dawn of the decade, A Winged Victory For The Sullen has delivered occasional albums for Erased Tapes that effortlessly blur the boundaries between ambient, electronic experimentalism and emotion-stirring neo-classical music. "The Undivided Five" marks their first appearance on mighty British independent Ninja Tune, and as a result seems a little more grandiose in scale and ambition than some of their earlier outings. It was recorded in eight different studios around Europe, with the pair combining atmospheric orchestration and traditional instrumentation with occasional glimpses of modular electronics. It feels like a stunning soundtrack to a movie we've not yet seen - unsurprising given that they have previously composed a number of scores - and genuinely gets better with each successive spin.
Review: If you were judging Kieran Hebden's 11th Four Tet studio album merely on the way it's presented, you'd immediately think he'd spent the last two years immersed in early '90s ambient house albums. While it's unlikely he's done that, it's fair to say that New Energy does owe a debt to classic electronica sets from that period. For all the exotic instrumentation and subtle nods to post-dubstep "aquacrunk" experimentalism and chiming, head-in-the-clouds sunrise house, the album feels like a relic of a lost era. That's not meant as a criticism - New Energy is superb - but it is true that his choice of neo-classical strings, gentle new age melodies, sweeping synthesizer chords and disconnected vocal samples would not sound out of place on a Global Communication album.
Review: On his first new album in three years, Kieron Hebden aka Four Tet proves why he is such a rare talent. Tracks like "School" and "Baby" see him merge ambient and electro-acoustic sounds together with vocal samples and tight dance floor rhythms, while on "Love Birds" he delivers tight drums and melancholic keys. What makes this so impressive is the fact that the dividing line between the organic and the electronic is imperceptible. Of course there is an accessible side to Hebden's style - the effortless warbles of "Teenage Birdsong" and the evocative "Harpsichord" being the stand out tracks - but in the same way that he blends the organic with the synthetic, Four Tet never lets this album dip into rampant commercialism.
Review: Issued on Running Back's Incantations offshoot, A Sagittariun's latest album is a diverse affair. While it features the kind of tripped out techno that this producer has become synonymous with over the years - check "Watch The Skies!" and "Life Is The Illusion, Love Is The Dream" - it also boasts off-centre tracks such as scuffled industrial funk of "Once Upon A Time" and "Last Of The Crazy Baldheads". Heights is also notable in that it features tripped out jams like the cosmic-disco of "Lazer Battle At The OK Coral" and "Dream Stealers" as well as the broken beats of "Version Excursion". It shows that A Sagittariun is a more rounded artists that some of his club releases may have suggested.