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: 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.
Review: Since Upsammy emerged in mysterious fashion for Die Orakel in 2018 the producer has established herself as a fresh entity breaking new ground in abstract and experimental dance music. With a split release on Whities and a debut album for Nous'klaer Audio adding to the hype surrounding Upsammy's music too, this Zoom LP adds yet another shade of sound to her growing discography, in this case for Dekmantel something metallic, bit-graded, and tropicana. With bleep culture, jungle and future sub-pop influences meeting higher tempo percussion and Afro-centric rhythms, these inspirations are woven together furthermore by dub, some nerdy synthesis, broken beats and syncopation. Zoom in, Sammyup!
Review: Here's an unexpected collaboration, as the long running Muir & Digweed partnership teams up with sci-fi writer John 12 Hawks. This album doesn't feature the typical hypnotic house the Bedrock pair are best known for, instead seeing them veer into textured ambience ("First Line" and "Am I Awake") as well as the detuned riffs and stepping rhythms of "Damned By The Flesh" and the whirring modem and broken beats of "Live Off The Grid". Best of all is "Capoeira"; it sees the collaboration explore dubby bass before unravelling through a backdrop of jazzy chord sequences and outer space squiggles.
Review: The genius of Music From Memory has always been the label's ability to shine a light of sublime music that most will have missed. Certainly, very few will be familiar with the work of Geoffrey Landers, a Denver, Colarado-based multi-instrumentalist who recorded three albums and one single between 1982 and 1987. This superb retrospective contains material from all of these releases, deftly showcasing Landers' intriguing musical palette - a trippy mixture of vintage electronics, experimental new wave influences, strange spoken word snippets, occasional dub influences, effects-laden guitar passages, post-punk attitude, minimalist synth-funk and what would now be considered discordant art-rock. It's a stylistic melting pot that makes for wonderful listening.
Review: Primitive kosmische electronics all the way from St. Petersburg via Edinburgh label Firecracker! Evocative of a score for imaginary protoplasmic oceans, surreal, sepia-tinged space operas and Russian sci-fi folk tales, Meet The Fauna, they say, is as much of a cheeky nod to The Residents and Coil (or even Haroumi Hosono and John Hassell) as it is to the likes of B12, Black Dog, Richard H Kirk. For us it all begins and ends with "Alteration", this record's opening track that gets as close as anyone has to that epic "You're Not Alone" feeling. Experience cinematic shades of new age ambient pop in "A Sense Of Meaning" with tougher drums and basslines thundering down in "Access". Always floating, there's higher tempos in "Erasing River" and a touch of space rock in "Union Shift". Home listening gold.
Review: Turin techno stalwart Andrea has been serving up slabs of goodness on Ilian Tape since way back in 2012, though "Ritorno" is remarkably his very first full-length excursion. The 12 track set is far more varied than his fine club-focused singles, with the Italian variously turning his hand to swelling, Global Communication style ambient techno ("Attimo"), ultra-deep breakbeat dreaminess ("SKLYN"), melodious, jungle-influenced IDM ("LS September"), bassbin rattlers ("TrackQY", the skittish brilliance of moody roller "Reinf"), dreamy soundscape techno ("LG_Amb"), angular fusions of bass music and dark Italo-techno ("Drumzzy") and picturesque ambient dub slow jams ("Twin Forests").
Review: Italian producer Fango returns on his always impressive Degustibus imprint, serving up some truly unique electronic music that has earned him accolades from top producers such as Michael Mayer and Marcel Dettmann. Here the Venetian serves up a full length release in the form of Gea: a 10-track trip of eclectic flavours, spanning across various moods and tempos. It's a departure from his contorted takes on techno that he's presented in recent years. Flexing his matured production credits, Fango fuses cosmic/prog rock on "Oceano" and "Aura", neon-lit disco on "Crono" and psychedelic influences on the epic "Crono" - meticulously put together on his machines resulting in a spectrum of sounds to satisfy most palettes. It's a serenade from Gea to Ouranos: the Greek gods of earth and sky.