Review: New label Tell Zero Records hits the ground running with a 10" ambient white label that really impresses. There is some lush, slow motion tribalism on the A side that dives deep into the exotic. On the flip, the second beatless journey features some sombre and evocative Olafur Arnalds style piano playing over some haunting field recordings assembled into a captivating collage.
Review: Back in 2016, legendary Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen approached techno pioneer Jeff Mills with the idea of working together. A series of live gigs and off-the-radar studio sessions followed, with the first fruits of their joint efforts finally appearing on this must-have 10". As you'd expect, the duo's collaborative work combines Allen's traditional Nigerian polyrhythms, traditional Afrobeat instrumentation, and the far-sighted, sci-fi inspired electronic futurism that has always marked out Mills' work. The result is a quartet of cuts that could arguably be described as retro-futurist Afro-tech - all delay-laden beats, basslines and organs subtly sparring with gentle acid lines, Motor City electronics, beguiling deep space textures and shimmering, 31st century motifs. It's arguably Allen's stylistic contributions that dominate, but that's no bad thing.
Review: Speak to anyone who lived through them about the glory days of IDM and German producer Arovane (aka Uwe Zahn) is probably one of the first names they will happily reel off. Between the late '90s and his apparent retirement in 2004, Zahn was responsible for birthing a clutch of classic IDM longplayers like Tides and Lillies, the 2004 LP for City Centre Offices that seemed to signal his withdrawl from music. However, the production bug bit him again in 2013 and there has been a steady stream of Arovane output leading up to this Aarlenpeers EP. Issued on the Touchin' Bass label operated by self professed Arovan fan Andrea Parker, these two cuts bristle and pulse with abstracted electronic life in a manner one expects from Zahn. "Il_Eth" is quite epic.
Review: You could say that Kodiak Bachine is Brazil's greatest ever Brazilian electronic producer. That would not be an overstatement, it's just a simple fact. It was 1982 when he first released this EP, and it's been a classic, and a favourite of ours, ever since. In fact, "Electricidade" is so powerful because it sounds like it could have been made today; its tenebrous synths filling the airwaves from every angle, giving the track a strange sensation of lust and wonder. The flip, "Espirito Das Maquinas", is another enchanting ride through broken electric cables and abandoned power plants, a place where Bachine clearly thrives and surpasses all expectations. Highly recommend reissue!
Review: Tucked away in his Peak District hideaway, Jack Lever has been laying down sumptuous fusions of dusty ambience and lo-fi electronica for some time now. He first rose to prominence via a fine 12" on Apollo in 2013, before heading back to Derbyshire to self-release music from the archives on cassette and download. This return to wax is well worth a listen, if only for the drowsy, 6AM ambience of "Convair", which wraps shortwave radio crackle and yearning chord progressions around gentle acoustic guitars. "Torches" is a blissful and dusty outsider house shuffler, while lead cut "Roads" is a terrific, dancefloor-tempo trip-hop head-nodder rich in distorted guitars, cascading instrument solos and beefy dub disco bass.
Review: A special release from Minimal Wave here as the uber rare Irene & Mavis EP from UK synth poppers Blancmange is granted a reissue! Those with a pub quiz winning level of knowledge of UK synth pop will no doubt be familiar with the 80s hits of Blancmange duo Neil Arthur & Stephen Luscombe, yet this debut EP dating back to 1980 will still sound revelatory. The self released Irene & Mavis EP marked Arthur and Luscombe to be fully willing to experiment with DIY electronics, impressing Mute founder Daniel Miller sufficiently to proclaim them "maiden aunts of electronic music," and thus more than suited as a subject of focus from the Minimal Wave label. There are definite similarities between this nascent stage of Blancmange and the output of Cabaret Voltaire from the same era, particularly in the masked and disembodied nature of the vocals, whilst "Holiday Camp" and "Just Another Spectre" are wonderful examples of instrumental synth music. Despite originally being released in 7" format, the six newly remastered tracks are presented here in 10" format by Minimal Wave with the distinctive artwork retained!
Review: Naturally, there's been plenty of hype surrounding this new Hyperdub 10", which features Burial indulging his often-discussed ambient influences. It's a typically creepy and ghostly affair, with the lack of beats - if not rhythmic elements - only serving to amplify the shadowy producer's impeccable sound design and brilliant use of manipulated field recordings. A-side "Subtemple" is particularly paranoid in tone, featuring as it does chilling melody loops, curious vocal samples, looped vinyl crackle and all manner of layered background noise. Flipside "Beachfires" is, if anything, even more dystopian, with Burial basing the action around the kind of pulsing chords that gust back and forth like an autumnal breeze.
Review: Firecracker Recordings' Unthank label has been a decidedly intermittent concern since it's eye catching arrival back in 2010 with the Parris Mitchell mangling antics of Berlin dwelling Estonian producer Bakey USTL. It makes for somewhat poetic reading that the label's sixth release should usher in the return of a producer whose last apparent production credit was a contribution to the Fudge Fingas cut "Fidgety Friends" way back in 2007! Quite what the West Yorkshire based Denaji has been doing in the subsequent years is not clear, but your focus should be on his contributions here, with the Wuhti 10" quite sublime. The title track and "Dharma Dharma" are the sort of star gazing boogie and fizzing deep house that fit snugly into the overarching Firecracker sonic canon and do check the wondrous remix of "Wuhti" from Norwegian Sex Tags mastermind DJ Sotofett.
Review: Laurene Exposito is back on Amsterdam's Knekelhuis with a follow up to her well received debut album. This new record is said to be very personal - life changes and her love life are said to be central themes. All tracks have been recorded at Exposito's home in the Rennes, France using all analogue equipment. Starting out with the seductive coldwave tribute "Yellow Density" which features some inventive synth action that reaches near acid moments over her deadpan vocals. On the flip, title track "Cocktail Mexico" goes for some Dopplereffekt style electro shenanigans and "Go Forward" conjuring up comparisons to early Tropic Of Cancer on this hazy lo-fi goth journey.
Review: The mythical Transdance from UK duo Night Moves is given a much needed official repress by Domestica Records and the Barcelona label have spared no expense. A limited pressing of 400 10"s come housed in hand screen printed sleeves accompanied by a leaflet with complete biography of the band. Despite the paucity of Night Moves discography, it's clear the duo of Michael Guihen and John Davis have had an everlasting effect on the canon of synth music with their much admired debut. Transdance was originally released as a limited 12" white label in 1981, finding favour on the dance floors of Europe and New York City yet never really gained the wider exposure it richly deserved. Original copies of the GC1 pressing of Transdance still command slightly ridiculous prices on Discogs so kudos to Domestica for this rather special presentation which features a previously unreleased demo cut "Life Up" on the flip.
Review: Ali Wells's Perc Trax has done incredibly well over the years, and in fact, this latest EP (the third in the series) marks the label's ten year anniversary! Patrick Sottrop aka Kareem drops "Just When You Thought It Was Over" on the A-side, unleashing a militant and subtly dubbed-out warhead for the peak time hours, while Wells himself touches down as Perc with the stormy, wide-eyed sound sculpture that is "Volley". Surprisingly, the kick drum - a menacing pound to the head - only pops up well into the track, leaving space for all other sorts of atmospherics and distortion to surface. Excellent, as per usual.
Review: Martin Jenkins dons the Pye Corner Audio alias once more, transferring to Death Waltz in order to deliver the soundtrack to an imaginary horror film. It's naturally an all-analogue affair, with Jenkins making the most of his impressive collection of vintage synths, analogue drum machines and effects units. There's much to enjoy from start to finish. Check, for example, the ghostly chords, foreboding bassline and spacey electronics of "Do You Hear Then", the creepy, Carpenter-ish horror-ambience of "It May Not Be Real", the evocative late night paranoia of "Descent" - which is similar in tone to some of Jonny Jewel's soundtrack work - and the clattering dancefloor throb of "The Spiral", whose bassline, beats and darting melodies are just begging to be played over a booming club soundsystem.