Review: Irish duo Lakker have been on something of an epic musical journey over the last decade, beginning life as an experimental noise and industrial outfit (delivering an overlooked debut album in that style back in 2007), before expanding their sound to take in a far wider range of sounds and influences via 12" singles for Blueprint, Candela Rising and R&S. Here, they deliver their sophomore set, Tundra, a collection of intoxicating, atmospheric electronic compositions that joins the dots between early Aphex Twin style IDM chaos, creeping electronica, dystopian ambience and Actress style machine jams. It's hardly the cheeriest record you'll hear this year, but it's certainly a very good one. It suggests that we'll be hearing a lot more from Lakker in years to come.
Review: Having first joined forces to DJ together under the Taloboman tag some years back, Axel Boman and John Talabot first got together in the studio for 2014's Sideral 12". Three years on, the experienced duo has finally recorded a debut album. It's naturally imaginative, eclectic and atmospheric in tone, effortlessly gliding between humid, Afro-influenced deepness ("Midnattsol"), dark and spacey dancefloor moods ("Samsa"), fuzzy epics ("Six Million Ways"), hushed tech-house ("The Ghosts Hood"), stretched-out wonkiness (the hypnotic "Dins El Lit"), and a variety of intriguing downtempo explorations. It's largely left-of-centre and mostly not focused on the club, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Certainly, it's a fine collection of music.
Review: Irish duo Lakker return to R&S with Struggle & Emerge, an eight-track release somewhere between EP and mini-album driven by a unique concept. The RE:VIVE Initiative approached Dara Smith and Ian McDonnell to create a new work using archive field recordings and broadcasts from the Dutch national archive as the source material, all focused on the theme of "the Dutch and water". Considering the low-lying nature of the topography in the Netherlands, it's a pertinent subject for the country, and so Lakker spent time meeting academic experts in order to learn more about the issues behind this theme. Issues relating to the Second World War and the scale of Dutch flood defences all reportedly came into play, resulting in eight tracks that continue Lakker's uncompromising style even with a very different starting point to their previous releases.
Review: Having previously notched-up must-check Special Request releases on one vital rave-era record label, XL, Paul Woolford has now brought the hardcore and jungle-influenced project to another imprint that defined dance music in the early '90s, Belgian stable R&S Records. As you'd expect, he's in full-on bassbin-bothering, mind-mangling mode, with title track "Spectral Frequency" - a ruffneck, early jungle style workout with added intergalactic electronics - hitting home hardest of all. There's a bizarre (but kind of brilliant) backwards version ("Inverse Frequency") included on the A-side, before Woolford showcases the more melodious, ambient techno side of his multiple musical personalities on wonderfully warm and ear-pleasing flipside cuts "Family Doggo" and "No Other Way To See It".
Review: Juan Rico has many aliases to his name, but he's been doing some especially fierce work as Architectural with releases on Wolfskuil and Ellum Audio alongside his own self-titled label. Now he lands on R&S with this surefooted 12", which leads in with the distinctive P-funk techno slapper "This Is Not Purple". It's a heavy loop which hammers home on the one for eight minutes plus. On the flip, "Rhythms & Souls" has a more industrial bite - that's the Ministry version of industrial mind you - which merges perfectly with his club-geared techno sensibilities to make for a vitally exciting weapon for any adventurous DJ who wants some vintage crunch in their sonic palette.
People In Dresden Out For A Walk/Reisegenuss (0:13)
Happy Juno (2:32)
Back & Forth (3:26)
World Air (3:50)
Obviously Algebra (2:27)
Copy Of Crazy (1:05)
The Monkey In The Machine (2:23)
Review: Much was written about The Gamble, the debut album from the Nils Frahm-helmed experimental electronica trio, Nonkeen. While that set took almost 10 years to come to fruition, this follow-up appears a few short months after its' acclaimed predecessor. As you might expect, it explores similar musical territory, blending experimental elements (backwards loops, crackly textures, found sound etc.) with off-kilter jazz breaks, hazy Rhodes solos, trippy ambient interludes, occasional blasts of military percussion, and grandiose, post-Balearic mood-scapes. While hard to pin down stylistically, there's a hazy, freshly baked vibe throughout, with the trio's desire to blend live instrumentation and electronics being a particularly consistent presence.
Review: For the uninitiated, Maarten van der Vleuten is one of the Dutch techno scene's longest serving artists. He's been active since the late 1980s, delivering techno and electro material under a dizzying array of aliases. This fine double-pack gathers together tracks from the Dutchman's short-lived Integrity project, specifically two 1992 EPs originally released by forgotten R&S offshoot Outrage Recordings. It's a fine collection, all told, boasting largely timeless techno tracks that tend towards the melodious and futurist (think classic Detroit techno fused with elements of British intelligent techno/IDM). Interestingly, it also includes a couple of early collaborations with fellow Dutch veteran Aardvarck (AKA Mike Kivits), who was then in the very early stages of his production career.
Review: Given that it's called "Coloured" and appears on shocking pink vinyl, you'd expect Adam Longman Parker's debut album as Afriqua to be a decidedly vibrant and kaleidoscopic affair. It is, of course, with Longman Parker offering up tracks that mix tropical-sounding electronics, glassy-eyed synthesizer motifs, processed vocal sounds and evocative musical flourishes with jaunty, interesting rhythms that neatly sidestep conventional genre rules. It's a mixture that makes for hugely enjoyable listening, with highlights coming thick and fast. These include - though are by no means limited to - the densely layered dancefloor cheekiness of "Shout", the minimalist ambient bliss of "Noir", the hypnotic, intergalactic oddness of "Native Sun" and the bubbly club warmth of "Jumpteenth".
Review: In a fit of complex hybrid future funk, Second Storey and Appleblim consolidate their first three EPs for R&S into a long player that shows the full breadth of their sound in glorious technicolour. It's a thrilling world full of contorting shapes, glossy melodies and large doses of psychoactive fairy tale ingredients, with a gutsy techno heart pulsing away at the centre. Hearing all the tracks in one sitting gives a worthwhile context to the artists vision as they contort in and amongst each other, while new piece "Arpegmonger" opens the album in utterly glorious fashion. Craftily blending the notion of home-listening music and dancefloor madness, ALSO will have you twitching wherever it infects you.