Review: If you want hugs on the dancefloor deep into the night, Late Night Tough Guy's (formally DJ HMC) "Bless The Rains" is the perfect drug. The Adelaide based luminary rehashes Toto's "Africa" in a heavily pitched down and simple edit fit for any fromage-laced discotheque. Skirting around the throbbing bassline and triangle hits of "My Body On Fire" is a vocal that will have some train-spotters pulling their hair out in frustration, while "Not In Love Anymore" will have both Warren G/Nate Dogg and Michael McDonald fans bumping and grinding to excess.
Review: Fresh as an Indian breeze, the unknown Sent In Sound set up shop on Point Loma with two deliriously dreamy pieces. Weighing in at over 25 minutes, Benaji Lattu's "Doving" is headphone hedonism as it draws you into a dusky, sitar-twanging mystic headspace. Tinopiras's "Skylover Tea" continues the spiritual sensation in a comparatively more direct focus with its sandal-dragging beats and heavy weaves of orchestration and melodic soars. Dive deep.
Review: If you've ever got a few hours to spare, check out Legowelt's discography - the Dutch analogue fetishist is astonishingly productive (and, of course Legowelt is simply one of Danny Wolfers' many pseudonyms). Here, he adds another label to the growing list with a surprise appearance on Andrew Morgan's Washington D.C-based Peoples Potential Unlimited imprint. Unsurprisingly, Wolfers explores many of his favourite themes on Puzzles in Life, merrily skipping between melodic, bubbling deep house (the excellent title track), slo-mo Detroit futurism ("Video Phone To Space"), super-slo stargazing boogie (the superb "Cruise Till The Sun Shines") and woozy, intergalactic ambience ("Los Alamos Motel"). In many ways, this is an unusual turn from PPU, but it's a calculated gamble that's more than paid off.
Review: More balearic goodness from Melbourne's Len Leise on his General Purpose imprint. The International Feel affiliated producer delivers sun-kissed island dream aesthetics, by way of celestial FM synth tones and neon-lit analogue synths on these three wonderful offerings. From the hypnotic bounce of "TFTC", the tropical polrhythmic bliss of "MITD" or the tunnelling "STTS" calling to mind George Thompson's Karamika project on ESP Institute.
Review: Second Circle's latest mini-album comes from the previously unheard Giuseppe Leonardi, a "young Viennese musician" whose heady, synthesizer-heavy style is reminiscent of some of the curious obscurities reissued on parent label Music From Memory. While experimental in nature - think skewed combinations of lo-fi analogue keyboards, sparse and dusty drum machine hits and all manner of manipulated voices - each of the five tracks is pleasingly melodious. Combined with a range of left-of-centre influences from the early-to-mid '80s (think new wave ambient, new wave and British post-punk dub), it makes for a heady and arresting collection of tracks that actually gets better with each successive listen.
Review: After a brief dalliance with Because Music, Little Dragon signed to Ninja Tune earlier in the year. "Lover Chanting" is the popular combo's first EP for Coldcut's venerable imprint, following a single-track hook up with BADBADNOTGOOD earlier in the year. Title track "Lover Chanting" is a killer chunk of reggae-tinged synth-pop/disco-pop fusion, with singer Yukimi Nagano providing a strong, ear-catching vocal that will lodge itself in your consciousness and stay there for weeks. Elsewhere, "In My House" is a sultry, off-kilter trip into heavily electronic deep house territory - albeit with some suitably Balearic flourishes and a pop-tinged vocal - while "Timothy" is a whistling voyage through wonky '80s soul/R&B pastures.
Review: Beyond Paradise's latest release comes courtesy of fellow Leeds resident Mark Crossley, a psychedelia-loving musician and producer who now records as The Local Beatnik. As you'd perhaps expect, there's a suitably hallucinatory feel to much of the music on the "Kirkstall Delight EP". Check first the Plantlife-do-mushrooms flex of opener "Mountain Walk", where Crossley's effects-laden vocals rise above sparse, loose-limbed drums, squelchy synth bass and meandering synthesizer lines - before acquainting yourself with the Turkish psych-funk and kosmiche influenced shuffle of "Eskase". Crossley reaches for the Sitars, tablas and slo-mo beats on "Travel", while "Eastern Dish" is a non-stop hum of backwards guitars, Ravi Shankar-esque sitars, dense beats and a sharp dancefloor sensibility.
Phantom Band/Linear Johnson & The Protons - "Rush Rush"
Drums Off Chaos - "Drums Off Chaos"
Review: The sadly departed Jaki Liebezeit was the kind of drummer whose influence will be continually recognised over the decades to come. Best known for his work in Can, there are also many more sides to this singular sticksman, and Emotional Rescue has chosen to shine a light on his post-Can period living in Stollwerck. On the A side of this 7" curio is the sound of Phantom Band with Linear Johnson & The Protons. "Rush Rush" has a spiky new wave bent to it, but still Liebezeit's drumming stands out. The B side "Drums Off Chaos" need little explanation - it's the sound of one of the all-time drumming greats letting rip in a ferocious blast of percussive abandon.
Review: Almost 40 years has passed since Danish duo Laid Back - they of "Sunshine Reggae" and "White Horse" fame - released their debut single. The pair is still going strong all these years later, offering up sun-kissed Balearic synth-pop shot through with gentle reggae rhythms and just the right amount of dub-wise special effects. "Healing Feeling", their first album for almost six years, uniformly hits the spot via languid, loved-up cuts that wrap their evocative, glassy-eyed vocals and jazzy guitar solos around horizontal grooves and sunset-ready synth sounds. There are occasional up-tempo missives scattered across the album - see "Enjoy The Vibes" and the AOR disco chug of their "House Of The Rising Sun" cover - but even these sound like they were recorded through a thick haze of ganja smoke.
Review: Lamb's first new material in almost four years and highly limited numbered gatefold on 180 transparent vinyl... This has got it all. Most importantly, it sounds beautiful, too. Picking up where they left us, Lou Rhodes' vocal is still as delicate and soul searching and Andrew Barlow's instrumentation and production is still as broad and contemporary. From the timeless piano/string ballad "As Satellites Go By" to the heavy bass jacker "Seven Sails" via the rim-shot wriggling space jazz of "Nobody Else", Lamb remain as alluring, exciting and relevant than ever. Unwinding material just went next level.
Review: Russia's Lapti has been away from the scene for a while, because his so called brand of 'vaporwave' is exactly the sort fo thing we're into when it comes to abstract moulds of ambient and drone. He returns to action after four years with blinding album on his native Ghost Zvuk label, bringing through a truly fresh and daring blend of electronic sounds. "Ushu", for instance, deserves no categorization thanks to its odd broken beats and swelling mutant bass, and the equally excellent "plague" is an experimental hip hop tune from the depths of the inferno. There's so much in this LP that it's almost beyond description; what we can say is that if you're looking for something that truly blurs the lines, then Lapti is the man for you. Very hotly recommended.
Last Night On The Planet (feat Pyramid Vritra) (4:35)
Review: Some three years on from the release of their acclaimed, self-titled debut album, Letherette's Andy Harber and Richard Roberts are finally ready to share the follow-up. Happily, it's another sublime set. Over the course of 10 impeccably produced tracks, the duo shimmies between dreamy instrumental hip-hop (the traditional Ninja Tune grooves of opener "Momma"), loose-limbed, jazz-flecked electronica, spacey Dam Funk style electrofunk (the brilliant "Shanel"), garage-influenced UK house ("Wootera"), blazed downtempo pop (the claustrophobic "Bad Sign"), and various strains of imaginative, colourful deep house ("Dog Brush", "Soulette"). They even find time to squeeze in one of the most beautiful cuts of the year, the crystalline "Rubu".
Review: Given that Alex Storrer released his first Lexx record way back in 2001, this album is way overdue. It's Storrer's first as Lexx following an abstract 2002 ambient set as Lexxodus. "Cosmic Shift" is as warm, groovy, Balearic and beguiling as you'd expect with Storrer joining the dots between yacht rock, dub, deep house, ambient, folk, new age and lazy Latin grooves. Interestingly, Storrer successfully takes to the mic on numerous occasions, while guests including Woolfy, Ella Thompson and Harriet Brown also lend a hand. The results are uniformly superb, which begs the question: why didn't he do it sooner? Let's hope it won't be 20 years before we get a sequel.
Review: It's been a while since we last heard from Swedish combo Little Dragon. Aside from a few remix singles, they've not released anything of note since acclaimed 2014 full-length Nabuma Rubberband. While that set was apparently something of a struggle to complete, Season High - their fifth album in total - feels spontaneous and life affirming. With James Ford handling production duties, the album offers a gleeful romp through hook-laden, high quality synth pop with nods to the likes of Prince, Pet Shop Boys and Janet Jackson along the way. Of course, there are a few chunks of skewed electronica thrown in to mix things up, but these are nowhere near as thrilling as their unashamed pop works.
Review: Christian Loffler has been producing pensive, cinematic electronic soundscapes for a long time now. 10 years since his first EP landed, the German producer presents his third studio album on his own Ki Records label. Once again Loffler has continued to grow through the album recording process, embracing more adventurous textural and sound design practices whilst also enriching his songwriting chops. The vocal turns from Josephine Philip and Mohna help deepen the seductive melancholy of his compositions, but even in its instrumental moments the pensive synth lines sing their own heartfelt messages. If you're a fan of Jon Hopkins, Nathan Fake and other such emotionally charged electronica artists, you won't want to miss this album.