Review: This classically trained Manchester trio, comprising Chris Illingworth, Grant Russell and Rob Turner, has almost attracted more attention for their name than for their rousing live performances. However with the release of their debut album "Fanfares", we imagine that the outfit, who count the equally fantastically monikered Django Bates as pals, will be gaining all the attention for their music alone. Over the course of the albums seven tracks we get treated to a bewitching fusion of both vintage and thoroughly modern instrumental jazz with a melodic pop-rock accessibility. Expect big things!
Review: Phil France's only existing piece of work, the brutally minimalistic album entitled The Swimmer, has not waned in popularity ever since its 2013 release. It has dropped on all formats, and now it's time for a purely digital release which will surely please a large number of fans who have been keeping a close eye on the producer. While many ambient albums of Eps paint a very sparse and abstract picture of the genre, Phil France's seminal LP is full of colour and movement, branching out into the neo-classical across most of its duration. "The Swimmer" itself is a gorgeous wave of melodies, and the same can be said for other tracks like "Transition" and "Joy Of Brass". If you haven't heard it already, you're in for a beautifully introspective journey through winding pads, eye-opening synths, and an altogether pensive 45 minute of sonic thrills. Excellent.
Joy Of Brass (Mr Scruff Bumpy dub) - (5:28) 107 BPM
Review: Following the re-release of his 2013 album The Swimmer, Cinematic Orchestra's Phil France provides the delicate parts of his modern classic piano composition "Joy Of Brass" to card-carrying Gondwana fan Mr Scruff and gets two exceptional remixes in return: the main remix shuffles with a soft, slow lolloping jack and some beautiful yearning chords soaring over the top in an almost Nordic cosmic style. His Bumpy Dub, meanwhile, taps into the bruk renaissance with a smoky halftime break and a bassline that borders on KOAN territory. In a nutshell? Scruffy's turned in two blinders here.
Review: Matthew Halsall founded Gondwana Records in 2008. An independent label based in Manchester, it's gone on to release music by Dwight Trible, GoGo Penguin, Nat Birchall and Halsall himself. The label has won acclaim across the world and can claim the likes of Gilles Peterson, Mr Scruff and Bonobo as fans. Next up are the Mercury Prize nominated Portico Quartet with their powerful new album Art In The Age Of Automation: where they're now rebooted as a quartet after a brief spell as the three-piece Portico. They have always been an impossible band to pin down; taking in aspects of jazz, electronica, ambient music and minimalism but the group have undoubtedly crafted their own singular sound. There's the dashing and cinematic bliss of "Objects To Place In A Tomb" and the hypnotic live drum and bass of "A Luminous Beam" amongst other highlights.
Review: This has sort of taken us by surprise but, yes, here you are, a` new Portico Quartet album! The British outfit have grown and grown since their early releases back in 2006, seemingly ahead of their time at every turn, and a new release from them is always seen as a breath of fresh air around Juno HQ. Jack Wyllie, Duncan Bellamy, Milo Fitzpatrick and Keir Vine return to Matthew Halsall's Gondwana Records, out of Manchester, with the trippy, explorative sounds of Untitled (AITAOA #2). Jazz doesn't really describe it fully enough, and ambient is way too loose a word for this smart and complex medley of harmonies, but those are precisely the first things you hear when Portico Quartet hit you speakers. Plenty of rhythm, energy and even a little bit of dread go into making this an experience from start to finish. Recommended!
Review: The STUFF quintet are back with a roaring new LP, this time on the Gondwana label, entitled Old Dreams New Planets - tip alert! Going even further into the fusion abyss than their debut album back in 2015, the group have put together nine endlessly experimental cuts that span pretty much the entirety of the hard-core continuum...and more, much more. Tunes like "Strata" or "Delta" are undefinable in terms of genre names and they manage to fuse all sorts of different influences, from dubstep to house and plenty of 'balearic' vibes. In fact, there isn't a tune on here that we couldn't imagine vibing out to on a beach, staring way, way out into the horizon. "Fulina" is a wonderful example of their hybrid nature, slowing down and speeding up while at the same time maintaining a constant aesthetic and vision. Among the producers who mash things up, these guys are the best out there.