Reviewed this week
The Hartnoll brothers return with their tenth studio album, having set aside their musical differences following a period of reflection. The break seems to have done them some good, because "Monsters Exist" contains some material that's every bit as beguiling and impressive as their most celebrated work. Certainly, there are hints of classic Orbital in the spellbinding electronics and enveloping gloominess of "Buried Deep Within", the ambient intergalactic symphony of "There Will Come a Time" (listen out for a guest spoken word vocal by rave's favourite scientist, Professor Brian Cox), and the title track's rapidly expanding paranoia. There are a few dancefloor-centric blasts from the past, too ("Hoo Hoo Ha Ha" and the festival-friendly bounce of "PHUK"), suggesting that the veteran twosome could be ready for a late-career revival.
Simon Shreeve's imprint serves up a killer split release that ripples with barely restrained menace. First up is label regular Overlook, with "Former Self", a spooky stepper that builds and builds to a darkly hypnotic high. Shreeve himself dons his M?nic pseudonym for the low-slung broken beats and clanging metallic percussion of "Stampede". He also teams up with Jan Grebenstein for "Cutting The Ties That Bind", a drawn out industrial jam. Remaining in this general field is Pessimist, who has released on Blackest Ever Black and Creme Organization. He delivers the death march dirge of "Indigo", which brings this wonderfully eerie release to a close.
Following up 2016's acclaimed Emergence album, Max Cooper has spent the last year working on his new LP for his Mesh imprint. He has explained that each track on One Hundred Billion Sparks 'is a score to a visual story stemming from this system of one hundred billion sparking neurones, which create us.' As with previous concepts, he has also ventured into some weird visual realms for the project, finding more beautiful ideas/scenes to bring to another one of his acclaimed live shows - his most ambitious thus far. Features the singles "Identity" and "Rule 110" in addition to other sonic highlights such as the deeply eheteral "Phi", "Emptyset" with its rich tapestry of hypnotic melodies or the sheer tension and suspense of "Identity".
Reece Walker's Carmel project is taking a very definite shape as more and more of his work is released. So far, the artist has only collaborated on a number of different electronic projects, such as EBS or Fishermans Friend, so this debut solo outing on London's Lobster Theremin feels like the perfect platform on to hopefully kick-start what seems to be a solid ambient project. "12 Hours" is a tune of startling beauty, opening on a wavey soundscape that has the essence of the ocean in its underbelly, creating a lovely movement from a limited set of sounds and manipulation; "Georgia", the title track, steps closer towards the house template, eventually transforming its placid drones into a solid dance rhythm...albeit subtle in its approach and limited in its composition.
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.
After a run of really well received original releases, J Shadow returns again with another highly experimental journey into future tech on this explosive two track selection courtesy of Car Crash Set. We begin by taking a look at the robotic expanses of the highly intuitive 'Hypnagogia', which weaves electronic creations together with stuttered industrial drum styles and unpredictable percussive stutters. On the flip side we are gifted 'IOK-1', a more breaksy driven composition, bringing some additional flavour, combining bleeps and blips with grinding moogy sub work in a really expansive composition.
Six tracks recorded live at various times by St Petersburg's Kito Jempere and his troupe of electronic experimentalists that show off their musical versatility. The Jimi Tenor-featuring title track and "Ampa (Live)" channel melancholic 80s synth-pop, "Tomahawk (Live)" conjures visions of an Arab souk in outer space, the energetic "Kusya (Live)" is without doubt the fattest, squelchiest Afro-acid fusion you'll hear all week, "Uohha (Live)" is a soul-infused downtempo cut, while "Ampa (Live TV" takes an unexpected turn into acoustic territory, complete with heartfelt, near-falsetto vocal. An EP that could find fans in the dance and indie camps alike.
Originally recorded in 1983, O Yuki Conjugate's Untitled EP is a dream record for Emotional Rescue. It's startlingly ahead of its time, featuring stiff drum machine beats, strange sampling and fuzzy, lo-fi synth work, shot through with the wonk of post punk that makes so much early electronic music of the era so captivating. "Beyond Control" has an almost motorik feel to it, with plenty of liquid delay processing and woozy tones melting around the march of the beat. "Disco Song" channels the dubbed out spirit of The Pop Group and gives it a plastic organ makeover, while "Clattering Song" lives up to its name and falls apart in your ears. "Beyond Control 2" completes the package with a wild line in reverse effects by way of a thoroughly primitive remix.
Exclusives
MUX - PLAYING 4 TIME (Elastica)
MIRROR BOX - Minimal Compliance (TRU)
LUNATIK SOUND SYSTEM - Music For Closed Eyes (Something)