Review: Given that it's been eight years since the last Boards of Canada album, Tomorrow's Harvest should, by rights, push Daft Punk's Random Access Memories in the hype stakes. Certainly, it's a fine set. During their sabbatical, Marcus Eoin and Michael Sandison have lost none of their power to amaze and impress. Chords drone, samples hiss, synths shimmer and beats swing. There are intense ambient moments and intoxicating, post-IDM dreamscapes. It is in turns icy, warm, introspective and blindingly picturesque. Throughout, Tomorrow's Harvest is impeccably atmospheric, conjuring images of windswept Scottish moors, becalmed Cornish bays and maudlin pagan ceremonies. As comeback records go, it's pretty darn good.
Review: As Apollo starts to spread its wings into a richer pool of artists in its second guise, so they look to Anton Zap for a healthy seven-track offering that brings warmth to the label that seemed to escape some of the recent releases. There's no doubt Zap is good at creating a mellow atmosphere, but as "Water" demonstrates he can also tease more earthly textures and tones into his ambient techno studies to create a greater depth and impact. There are some more house orientated turns such as the spaced-out shuffle of "Road Trip Song", while "Funky Man" rolls on a sassy beatdown groove and acidic bassline, providing a welcome diversity in amongst the mystical aura of Zap's productions and Apollo's downtempo remit.
Review: Following up the runaway success of Crooks & Lovers was always going to be a daunting task for Mount Kimbie, and they've wisely taken their time to come back with a step forwards from a sound which gave rise to the more folky strains of the dubstep aftermath. Sounding fresh and invigorated on their LP for Warp, Kai Campos and Dominic Maker have built on their love of shoegaze indie and brought their component parts into a clearer vision where they used to hide them behind heavy editing and microsampling. There are plenty of reminders that this is a Kimbie record, not least in the winsome melodies that shape the LP, but the duo have succeeded in shearing away their self-conscious trickery to write full-bodied songs that hit on first listen, rather than ten spins down the line.
Review: With the excellent Dark Matters Too compilation still very much on the office stereo rotation, Light Sounds Dark return with another excellent record in the shape of this slab of archival lopsided sonics from the vastly under-rated Mutant Beat Dance. An irregular project between Jakbeat pioneer Traxx and Beau Wanzer of Streetwalker fame, Mutant Beat Dance have deservedly graced some fine underground labels (LIES, Rong, Disco Capablancas and Rush Hour) with their incendiary brand of freeform house explorations. This Mutated Moods 12" draws from a pool of material recorded between 2006-2008 and has a primal, primitive energy that will appeal to fans of early Regis (think White Savage Dance) or In Aeternam Vale. Highly recommended!
Review: James Holden's career trajectory has been odd, to say the least. Having found fame as a fresh-faced teenaged progressive house producer, he's spent the last decade distancing himself from his early work (and, arguably, doing the same with his Border Community label). The Inheritors is his first album for nearly seven years, and you can tell. Whereas his debut set, 2006's The Idiots Are Winning, was rooted in tech-house and minimal - albeit with a sprinkling of IDM tracks - The Inheritors is a wonderfully out-there, atmospheric and occasionally uncomfortable set. Rooted in IDM, drone, ambience and leftfield beats, it flits between nightmarish oddness ("Sky Burial"), wide-eyed fluidity ("Inter-City 125") and intense, lo-fi electronica ("Seven Stars").
Review: Originally self released via bandcamp last year, Shrapnel Maestro gets remastered and released on LP format by the always on point UK indie outfit Merok. Tuff Sherm is of course the left of centre house project from Australian producer Eugene Hector that is that extra inch more accessible than his bass abstractions as Dro Carey and this eleven track album was up there with Hector's release as Tuff Sherm for The Trilogy Tapes in the quality stakes so it's great to see it get the vinyl issue it deserves. It's intriguing how someone with a self professed disregard for the constructs of club culture such as Hector can make such eminently danceable music as he does under the Tuff Sherm moniker, which is made all the more distinct by the subtle rhythmic eccentricities that complement the crunching kick drums. The rugged "Marrow" and crunched out "Ion City" are considered highlights.
Review: The nefarious joy of Death Waltz continues unabated with the soundtrack from Maniac, a recent slasher film starring Elijah Wood. In the increasing appreciation of droning cold wave synth music that sounds as though lifted straight from the 80s, Robin Coudert's effort is particularly on point. In the bombast of the compositions, Rob has captured the perfect nostalgic ambience for all the classic soundtracks of the era, not least John Carpenters. Of course, being a Death Waltz release you also get to enjoy high-grade artwork, plush packaging and fetching blood-spattered wax.
Review: Surfacing initially as a limited digital only release (such things are possible if people don't know where to look) LA's supremely Gifted & Blessed issues the 3 Aspects of One EP in the vinyl pressing it richly deserves. As recent transmissions for Eglo and Wild Oats have demonstrated, Gabriel Reyes-Whittaker has few peers when it comes to making pure analogue music for the soul and for the body and the four cuts her magnify this opinion further. Opening track "The Beginner" may move thanks to a tough, rippling electro mainframe but it's the delicate warmth brought by the increasing pools of melody that captivate. Alongside it, "The Sustainer" has a dextrous funk to it that's hard to fathom, whilst "The Seeker" seems to roll in several different rhythmic directions - it shouldn't work but it does.
Royksoop - "Ice Machine" (Exclusive Depeche Mode cover version)
FR David - "Music"
Prelude - "After The Goldrush"
Andreas Vollenweider - "Hands & Clouds"
Richard Schneider Jr - "Hello Beach Girls"
Byrne & Barnes - "Love You Out Of Your Mind"
John Martyn - "Small Hours"
Acker Bilk - "Stranger On The Shore"
This Mortal Coil - "Til I Gain Control"
Popol Vuh - "Aguirre I Lacrime Di Rei"
Benedict Cumberbatch - "Flat Of Angels" (part 2 - exclusive Spoken Word Piece)
Review: Given the wide-eyed, largely downtempo nature of their music, it's perhaps a little surprising that it took Late Night Tales this long to ask Royksopp to mix a volume in the long-running after-hours series. Royksopp are, of course, old hands at this kind of thing - they delivered an impressive Back To Mine comp back in 2007 - and use the opportunity to mix-up a typically heady selection of stoner soft rock (Little River Band, FR David), sparse dub-rock (Tuxedomoon), cinematic soundscapes (Johann Johannsen), psychedelia (Prelude), well-worn favourites (Acker Bilk) and folksy Balearica (John Martyn). Fans will be pleased to see a sprinkling of unreleased Royksopp fare, including intensely beautiful opener "Daddy's Groove".
Review: David Grellier, head of French label Valerie, and the creative force behind College has a lot to thank film director Nicholas Winding Refn for. Whilst the Nantes based label built up quite the cult following in the 2nd wave blog explosion thanks to their retro-futurist blend of electro inspired by the vivid aesthetic of 80s US pop culture, the fact the Danish director handpicked the College track "A Real Hero" as the main theme for Gosling vehicle Drive has opened up Grellier's work to a much wider audience. Here Geoff Barrow's Invada continue to invest their belief in the College sound with the issue of their 2008 EP Teenage Colour EP on vinyl for the very first time. If you loved 'that' track then you will certainly enjoy the colourful synth pop of this five track EP.
Review: After two sterling bouts from Powell, the burgeoning Diagonal label turn their attention to London outfit Blood Music, led by Simon Pomery. With a distinct nod to the focused noise of Sonic Youth, and the breathless vocals of Thurston Moore to boot, Pomery is on fire on EP opener "Rare Earth Material", all throttling drums and huge chords thwacks with a cavernous quality to them. "Speak Like Violence" is a slightly less direct affair, taking a meandering course through shifting phases of squall and distortion but no less energetic en route.
Many People Have Died To Bring You This Information
You Secret Lie
Magical Dogshit Man
My Daughter The Asteroid
Pipe Cleaners (Volume Two)
We Watch The Stars
Ding Dong Song
World Of Blue
The Joy Of Bowling
My Weave Of Love
Green Cross Code
Which Way Will They Turn?
Darks & Lights
I Hope This Day Will Never End
Review: This is something of a surprise blast from the past. There was a time, sometime around the turn of the millennium, that Nottingham pair Simon Mills and Nail Tolliday - aka Bent - were hot property. They've long since returned to their solo projects, but here deliver a reminder of their ability to make enchanting, unusual and intoxicating downtempo music in the shape of From The Vaults 1998-2006, a collection of previously unreleased tracks. For those who followed their progress, there's plenty to enjoy, from the wonky electronic disco of "Job Finder", and blissfully Balearic, Mudd-ish "The Gallery", to the grandiose, string-laden "Blank" and piano-laden breeziness of "My Daughter The Asteroid".
Review: As the title suggests, this 12" from the Stones Throw camp opens up the material from Chrome Canyon's Elemental Themes LP to remixes from an illustrious cast of producers you wouldn't necessarily associate with Peanut Butter Wolf's label. Parisian trio Chateau Marmont lend "Generations" some panpipes infused tropical resonance, whilst Aaron Coyes of Peaking Lights leads "Chasing The Dead" towards a typically second hand dub sound. Whomadewho's LA transplant adds to the synthesized epicness of "Car Fire On The Highway" with his own percussive glee which leads nicely into the more club friendly flips on the B-Side. Brooklyn based Saarid channels the spirit of EBM and New Beat on his recasting of "Memories Of A Scientist" which sounds like a chemically enhanced Nitzer Ebb with Moroder on vibes, whilst the White Wizard himself, Gavin Russom, somehow mutates "Branches" into what Justice might sound like if signed to DFA. Italians Do It Better boss Mike Simonetti lends this plate a more sombre tone with his remix of "Chasing The Dead".
Review: Veronica Vasicka's Minimal Wave label continue their experimentations with the 7" format here, issuing a one track release from obscure Dutch duo The Actor on a clear flexi-disc complemented by the usual array of attractive design trimmings. Formed of Breda based pair Marcel Reimer and Sander Horsthuis, The Actor emerged from the Dutch home taping scene in the early eighties inspired by the likes of DAF, Soft Cell, Depeche Mode and Fad Gadget. Signed by cult Dutch cassette label Trumpett, The Actor released two albums on tape format with this 7" culling the lead track off their debut album Exploding View. Described by Minimal Wave as the archetypal The Actor song, "Unreal Personality" was recorded using an array of primitive synth and drum machines and Reimar's sarcastic tone sounds all the better for being remastered from it's original analogue source tape.
Review: Hidden Hawaii main man Felix K links up with Drumkid on this ranging 10" of scuffed, experimental electronics. "Flanger Mouth" reveals much about its sonority before even listening to the track, which is a minimal affair that ticks along without the need for an obvious set of weighty drums, letting feathery top end percussion flutter out a mechanical pattern. "HUDR" is a softer proposition, as gentle and varied cuts of chord, note and hum spar with each other while managing to stay grounded in a teasing kind of funk. To keep you on your toes, "Uninvited Guest" opts for a juke-style rollick through rapid fire drums while the string samples that come jerking in have a staunchly hip hop air about them.
Review: Having taken their time to fully emerge on the release side of things, forlorn indie-steppers Cloud Boat swiftly follow up their EP for Apollo with their debut album. It's a format suited to the thoughtful tones of Sam Ricketts and Tom Clarke, as their guitar-rich sound and heartfelt vocals unfurl through a spread of bittersweet vignettes. Sometimes, they embrace a more beat driven structure as on album opener "Lions On The Beach", and sometimes they shed the drums in favour of delicate voice and drone arrangements, but at every turn this is a cohesively crafted sound world that the duo want you to fall head first into.