Review: Felipe Salmon and Rafael Pereira aka Dengue Dengue Dengue's third album is an exploration of Afro-Peruvian musical traditions laced with their usual sense of so-called tropical futures and off beat rhythmic patterns. It makes for hypnotic grooves that are loose and jumbled, organic and fully authentic especially when members of the Ballumbrosio family, who are experts in traditional rhythmic styles like lando, festejo and crioullo music, as well as traditional dances and instruments like the quijada, have helped create this album. Fleshing out the drums are fizzes and woodblocks, smeared synthwork and occasional Latin vocals that drift to the top as the bass roams down low. An intoxicating listen that transports you to another world entirely.
Review: Fresh in the chem trails of his Bandulu release, the inimitable Bengal Sound crash lands back into our psyches with his disarming, not-of-this-world take on 140 music. "Young Skeleton" arrives just in time for Halloween, scaring the dickens out of us with its warped humanised tones, dusty atmospheres and distant chimes. "Coroners" takes us from the graveyard to the morgue... But with these hazy arpeggiated trinkles and eerie shimmers are we stepping towards the light or simply waking up? That's for you to work out.
Review: Many disco-era modern soul collectors regard, Larom Baker's "You're The Best", which initially appeared in 1978 on an impossible to find, single-sided 7" single, as one of the style's genuine "Holy Grail" records. It's good news, then, that Athens Of The North has secured the rights to reissue it, releasing the full studio version (rather than the shorter edit that was released all those years ago) for the very first time. It's a genuine gem, with Baker's deliciously breezy West Coast soul vocal seemingly floating over a killer backing track rich in hazy horns, bustling slap bass and crunchy Clavinet lines. Turn to the flipside for the more disco-minded "Train Of Thought", one of a string of recently discovered Baker recordings that form the basis of a forthcoming album of previously unreleased tracks.
Review: The hardest-working man in West London is back! By now we've become accustomed to Kaidi Tatham offering up regular doses of soul and jazz-funk-fired dancefloor goodness, but even by his high standards "You Find That I Got It" is something special. Warm, woozy, groovy and full of intricate musical details - brief synth solos, subtle orchestration and so on - the A-side title track is a wonderfully sunny slice of instrumental boogie-soul. Tatham's world-renowned keys playing comes to the fore on the organic broken beat/jazz-funk fusion of "Mjuvi", a flipside cut that's almost as good as the exceptional title track.
Review: Latin trap star Bad Bunny's debut album got widespread acclaim when it was released at the end of last year. Now "X 100pre" (which is an abbreviation of "Por siempre" in Spanish, meaning "Forever") gets a vinyl release complete with cuts featuring Diplo, Drake and El Alfa. Even without speaking the lingo, the production tells its own story and conveys a wide range of feelings from, you suspect, dejection "Otra Noche En Miami" to empowerment ("Ser Bichote") and romance on "Como Antes." It is a vibrant and crisp debut from the Puerto Rican that is powerful as well as off kilter.
Review: These are tracks designed to rattle ribs and loosen the foundations of any building. They mark another step up for the esteemed bass talents of Samba after releases on the likes of System and Encrypted. "Winona" has a floaty light flute and devastating drums that makes for a nice juxtaposition. "Worms" is darker and more writhing with industrial sound designs and prowling beats, while "King Kan" is a wobbling, shimmering bit of bass gold. "Snakes. Egos" is creepy and unsettling thanks to the freaky synth motifs and closes out a well formed EP.
Review: The seemingly bottomless Greensleeves vaults turn up more gold here with two prime cuts - Wailing Souls' "Who No Waan Come" and Al Campbell's "Unfaithful Children" - that are treated to a first new pressing since 1981. "Who No Waan Come" is silky and sedentary as they come, with kick drums just about managing to propel things along beneath gorgeous doo-wop harmonies. The Linval Thompson produced "Unfaithful Children", however, is a more driven affair with authentic roots. Psyched-out effects, endless reverb and hits that ricochet around, making it a widescreen dub that draws you in and takes you along for the ride.
Karate Boogaloo - "Do You Even Know What A Passport Is" (4:35)
Review: The second salvo from Aussie imprint College Of Knowledge offers up two sizzling sides of revivalist instrumental soul and funk from bands who've yet to make their mark outside of the Southern hemisphere. Surprise Chef, who helped launched the label earlier in year, handle side A, offering up a loose, percussive and hugely attractive number rich in mazy organ lines, fuzzy bass and classic funk guitar licks. Karate Boogaloo take a slightly more relaxed approach on the flip, layering fluid guitar solos and sustained, elongated Hammond organ chords over a bluesy soul groove.
Review: Aphelion is a Greek producer who is part of the Equations Collective, and here he offers up his first ever release. Clearly well schooled in production, the atmospheres of his tracks belie his debutant status as he kicks off with the mutant bass and pounding kicks of "Volatile Radiance". More warped bass characterises the sparse and eerie "Cosmic Vibrations" before Silicon Scally aka Carl Finlow heads off in a more menacing direction on his remix of "What You Want". The original is a more haunting and paranoid affair that has you looking over your shoulder.
Review: FunkinEven's Apron label rarely, if ever, puts a foot wrong, whether putting out ragged techno, raw hip hop or whatever in between. It is Molinaro who steps up now after first landing on the label back in December 2017. The NTS host has long been a firm part of the London underground and has a lo-fi, frazzled sound that blurs the lines between a number of different genres. Here he offers spaced out and grizzled drum tracks, unsettling machine-made ambience and rough and ready beatdown that Theo Parrish would admire. It's been a long wait since his last release, but this EP was well worth it.
Review: Bjarki's BBBBBB label has carved out its own unique niche in the techno world and next to occupy it is core label artist Stian "EOD" Gjevik. The former Rephlex artist shows off his magnificently complex and busy yet harmonic and melodic sound across five fantastically restless cuts that has lead synths taking you down a number of rabbit holes. Calming pads vie for your attention on "(Untitled) (W-R6)" while the acid laced "The Battery Poles (Are Conic!)" is so bright and shiny it'll have you reaching for your sunglasses. Few people speak so freely through their machines as this man right now.
Review: For the past six years Jazzy Couscous has been exploring nooks and crannies of Japanese music culture in search of overlooked gems across all kinds of styles. After the success of the first installment of "Kumo No Muko", label boss Alixkun returns with another expansive collection of ambient, new age and smooth jazz reflections from a range of artists. The mood is consistently pretty, not to mention delicately executed, whether veering towards the sweet string refrain of Ayuo Takahashi's "Mizu Iro No Kagami" or the bittersweet prog guitar licks of Toru Hatano's "Kanki". There are bleepy synth trips like Akira's "Essence Of Beauty" and beat-embellished grooves to sink into - miss this rare and beautiful record at your peril.
Review: Not An Animal regulars Ess O Ess are back with an effervescent 12" that spans starry-eyed electro and pastoral electronica. "Voice Inside" comes in French and English versions, depending on what flavour you want from the sultry spoken word turn on the top of the plush harmonics of the production. As well as the killer original track, there's choice remixes on offer too from The Backwoods and Craig Richards. The former takes a cosmic, trippy approach to the track, but keeps the focus sharp thanks to a snapping 4/4 beat. Craig Richards meanwhile takes things far away from the original with a brilliant slice of discordant electro weirdness for the after hours crowd.
Review: Back in April, Blawan and Pariah rebooted their hardware-based Karenn project after a five-year hiatus via a rugged EP on their freshly minted Voam imprint. Here the pair inaugurates a new series, Voam Club Archive, in which they'll offer up tracks recorded during live performances. For fans of raging, hard-wired club techno, there's much to enjoy, from the intoxicating, acid-fired stomp of "Berlin - Live Cut 1" and the redlined intensity of the dark and distorted "Berlin - Live Cut 2", to the Sheffield style bleep melodies, wild electronics and Lory D style grooves of "Rome - Live Cut 1". Arguably best of all, though, is the metallic, forthright insanity of closing track "Amsterdam - Live Cut 1".
Review: The late Icelandic composer Johann Johannsson's second studio album from 2004 is one ambient-influenced classical piece that makes use of the same phrase throughout but, for technical reasons, is divided into four parts. It features a host of musical instruments, from tubas, horns, organs and trumpets to glockenspiel and bass. It's a masterpiece in minimalism and repetition, of non-linear music that traps you in the here and now, and it is a beautiful place to be when you listen to the whole album in one immersive sitting.
Review: Cumbia champs Philthy Dronez have been turning out their quirky and curious takes on the genre since 2005. For their next outing on San Fran's Disco Mas they link with Su Brigada De La Cumbia for a brace of bonkers beats. Opener "Vamos A La Playa" is characterised by a big and wonky accordion line that reminds us of global dance smash "Heater" by Samim from a few years ago. It's as silly as it is fun, while "Sabor De La Cumbia" is a much heavier and grittier affair. Shades of digital dub define the grooves while a rather haunting lead keeps you on edge as it trundles along.
Review: Roots, reggae and dub all permeate this silky suite of cuts from Digital English, which look as far back as they gaze into the future for their inspirations. There are digi-vibes on Lin Strong's "Valley Of Elah" before the clean and crisp riddims of Chazbo's "Over The Mountain" are lit up by harmonic chords from the heavens. An echo-drenched dub version then leads into the bumping "Running Away" which implores you to confront your fears, while Kniox's "Chatty Mount" has a meandering lead synth that drifts in the distance. Arguably best of all though, is Digital English's closing cut "Chatty Dub" - a real killer with crisp hits and endless bass ripples.
Review: Kalita Records has thus far proved adept at sniffing out obscure, overlooked classics and reissuing them. Their latest "flip" is as rare, little known and hard-to-find as they come: a one-shot 1985 Caribbean boogie cut from Bahamian musicians Stirling March (now a minister and gospel singer) and bassist Rocky Rolle. "Under Cover Lover" is bright, breezy and sun-kissed, with jaunty synthesizer lead lines and hammered-out piano parts dancing above a tasty groove that fully showcases Rolle's boogie bass skills. Stirling March's lead vocal is superb too, with the Bahamian slickly delivering the loved-up lyrics with aplomb. The flipside "Instrumental" version is typical of New York style boogie dubs of the period, with more attention on the drums, bassline and ricocheting vocal snippets.
Review: Stefano Tirone has been a stalwart of the Italian scene since making his debut on legendary Italian house label Calypso Records way back in 1992. Since then, his productions have become increasingly more jazz and soul focused, with a sizeable side order of groovy downtempo beats. His latest seven-inch single begins with "Try My Love", a hazy chunk of head-nodding jazz-funk/soul fusion rich in languid synthesizer solos, lazy grooves, hazy horns and soulful vocals. It's really good all told, though we'd argue that flipside "Odoya" - a wiggling chunk of Afro-tinged mid-tempo funk - is even better. Either way, it's another rock solid release from the effervescent Tirone.
Review: Over the last few years, the occasional studio collaborations between Factory Floor's Nik Void and Throbbing Gristle heavyweights Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti have proved to be faultless exercises in industrial music/techno fusion. They're at it again on third album "Triumvirate", a collection of dark, intense and mind-altering concoctions that veers from ricocheting, delay-laden alien funk ("T3.4") and surging, club-ready hypnotism ("T3.2", "T3.3"), to raw, Surgeon-esque assaults on the senses ("T3.5") and clanking, concrete-clad fare that recalls the best of Carter and Tutti's early '80s TG work ("T3.1", "T3.6"). There are few surprises, just a series of angry, on-point instrumental excursions that should delight all of those of an industrial persuasion.
Superdiscount Presents Air - "Soldissimo" (Etienne De Crecy remix) (5:26)
Guts - "What Is Love" (3:47)
Alex Gopher - "The Child" (radio edit) (3:39)
Kazam - "Swag On" (2:13)
Flume - "Holdin On" (2:32)
Chinese Man - "I've Got That Tune" (4:08)
Deluxe - "Pony" (3:27)
Fakear - "Morning In Japan" (3:06)
Bonobo - "Terrapin" (4:40)
Nightmares On Wax - "Les Nuits" (radio edit) (3:31)
Review: Thanks to Massive Attack's recent anniversary reissue of their touchstone "Mezzanine" album, trip-hop is back in the headlines. While we don't expect a full-blown revival just yet, it's always worth dipping into the style and its hazy, dub-flecked and sample-heavy sound. This triple-disc genre retrospective from Wagram should be an essential listen for both confirmed trip-hop heads and newcomers alike. It contains plenty of well-known classics - see the contributions from I Monster, Tricky, Smith & Mighty, Kid Loco, Moby, Boards of Canada, Kruder and Doefmeister, Tosca and Nightmares on Wax, for starters - as well as under-appreciated underground hits and lesser-celebrated selections (Sabres of Paradise's remix of Red Snapper's "Hotflush" being the undoubted highlight).
Review: Essential repress! Tomas Bangalter's stone cold classic Roule 12" Trax On Da Rocks makes a return. The five tracks on offer - "On Da Rocks", "Roule Boule", "What To Do", "Outrun" and "Ventura" - have acquired legendary status, standing as sublime examples of the rough, raw end of the filter-soaked French house sound. Some 17 years since they were first released, these tracks have lost none of their madcap brilliance; if this isn't already a cherished part of your record collection, here's your chance.
Review: Metalheadz might be celebrating 25 years in the game in 2019, but they are not spending too much time looking back. Instead, Goldie's vital label continues to serve up forward looking drum & bass, this time from Jem One. A year after his debut on the label he's back with another varied three tracker. Form the swirling pads of liquid roller "Lotus" to the more angsty, tightly coiled drums of old school jungle cut "Transpose" and on to darkened minimal stepper "The Hardcore", there is a lot to love here.
Review: Transhumanism is a collective of Dutch producers who first met on the dance-floor at Dave Clarke's Whip It party at Melkweg in Amsterdam, so that will give you a reliable indicator of their sound: it's brash, serrated electro that fires your synapses and awakens your every sense. Juan Atkins and Helena Hauff have been dropping it all summer and it's easy to see why. There is strobe lit action from Slaves Of Sinus, walls of high intensity sound from RXmode, rave tinged stuff from W1b0 and a more throwback jam from TFHats to round out a high impact EP.
Review: Liondub's 10 year anniversary celebrations continue with this savage slab of ragga jungle. This time the captain Liondub takes to the controls himself alongside fellow US jungle veteran Jah Boogs while vocal guidance comes from one of the most distinctive MCs in the game: Bristol's Blackout Ja. Here we find him in fiery form as "Touch Up The Key" brocks out in all directions over a precision-tuned subby bass wobble. "Dread" flips for a sunnier side of the stack as Blackout pays homage to his roots with more of a melodic flow to his signature gravel-toned bars. Loaded!
A Strong Move For Truth (feat Nadine Charles) (3:19)
Good Morning (feat Samii) (2:40)
Remini Dream (feat Ivana Santilli) (3:46)
I Don't Wanna Know (feat Obenewa) (3:21)
Unknown Faults (3:59)
Life Can Be Unreal (feat Sarina Leah) (3:26)
Too Much (feat Sharlene Hector) (1:58)
You Are Virgo (5:05)
Come Of Age (3:28)
Just Leave It (feat Lady Alma) (4:52)
Ogawa Okasan Said Just Play (4:45)
A Where Pringle Deh? (2:14)
My Standards Are (Not) Too High (8:40)
Review: In our eyes, 2000 Black lynchpin Dego can do no wrong. You'll therefore be unsurprised to hear that we're huge fans of the 4Hero founder member's latest solo album, a belated follow-up to 2015's "The More Things Stay The Same". It is, of course, superbly soulful, slicky produced and wonderfully paced, moving from the heady soul sweetness of "A Strong Move For Truth", to the deep jazz-funk/broken beat vibes of "My Standards Are (Not) Too High" via 12 other warm and seductive cuts of an equally high standard. Highlights include the summery bruk-soul bliss of "Remini Dream", the toasty boogie revivalism of "Unknown Faults" and the Clavinet-sporting brilliance of Lady Alma hook-up "Just Leave It".
Shine On Through (feat Mountain & Karina Ramage) (4:11)
Kosa (feat Keeno) (5:58)
The Encounter (feat Bop) (5:40)
Miles Ahead (feat DJ Marky) (4:11)
Morning Sunrise (feat Danny Wheeler, G Force & Blu James) (4:55)
Tokyo '96 (feat SPY) (5:24)
Show Me How You Feel (feat Lorna King) (4:52)
Dive (feat Polaris) (5:42)
Liberta (feat Urbandawn) (4:34)
Living For (feat Paul T & Edward Oberon) (5:28)
Transparent (feat Whiney) (4:57)
Mystic Crystals (feat Technimatic) (5:16)
Nexus (feat Pola & Bryson) (4:13)
Merchant Blessing (feat MC Conrad) (4:31)
Review: Makato is often cited as one of the pioneering founders of Japan's drum & bass scene. He's now up to his sixth studio album and it finds his airy, rolling, sweet flowing beats all present and correct. "Tomodachi Sessions" derived from a series of collaborations with close friends who have all played a part in his 25 year career. DJ Marky, S.P.Y, Bop and MC Conrad all feature and lend their own personalities to an album that offers celebratory hands in the air tracks like "Shine On Through" next to more late night dancers like "Transparent" and melodic explorations like "Show Me How You Feel".
Review: Since it was released on Springfield, Missouri label American Artists in 1975, Kansas City Express' sole seven-inch single has become something of a collector's item amongst dusty-fingered funk diggers. We should all thank Ocean Of Tears, then, for offering up this fully licensed reissue - the first time the "45" has been made available to a wider audience. "This Is The Place" is a wonderfully sweet and melancholic affair - a seductive, poetic soul song featuring both male and female lead vocalists and a languid, superbly produced backing track full of lilting trumpet lines, glacial vibraphone solos and jazzy guitars. That instrumental backing track takes pride of place on Side B, where you can hear the vocal-free mix for the very first time. Spoiler: it's superb.
3rd Acts: ? Vs Scratch 2...Electric Boogaloo (0:53)
You Got Me (feat Erykah Badu) (4:20)
Don't See Us (4:36)
The Return To Innocence Lost (5:29)
Act Fore The End? (4:53)
Table Of Contents (part 3 - bonus track) (3:19)
What You Want (bonus track) (4:11)
Quicksand Millennium (bonus track) (4:09)
We Got You (feat Jaguar - bonus track) (1:13)
You Got Me (Drum & Bass mix - bonus track) (4:59)
You Got Me (Me Tienes remix - bonus track) (4:26)
Act Too (The Love Of My Life) (remix - bonus track) (3:29)
Y'all Know Who (bonus track) (4:04)
The Lesson (part III - bonus track) (4:53)
New Years At Jay Dee's (bonus track) (2:49)
Review: In our eyes, Questlove is one of the best drummers of the modern era. His playing skills have held down killer grooves by everyone from D'Angelo to Jill Scott, Erykah Badu to Soulquarians. His own Grammy Award winning band The Roots brought thrilling musicianship and live instrumentation to the hip hop game and are widely regarded as one of the best live acts in the genre. Their fourth album, Things Fall Apart, was their real breakthrough and is now presented here, remastered, with bonus tracks, rare photos, essays from Black Thought and Questlove and liner notes from Questlove. Essential.
Review: It's been seen years since ambient maestro Jonny Nash realised with Kyle Martin as Land Of Light. This return is a glorious one, however, and was written and composed over the course of two years. It is a fantastically spacious record that places you in the middle of the stereo field as acoustic instruments, contact microphones and Martin's self-built modular synthesiser all add timbre, texture and tone to the mix. Organic yet otherworldly, it is music that soundtracks a beautiful void and will leave you feeling utterly replenished over the course of eight subtly majestic and absorbing tracks.
Review: Here's something to excite those who dig quality 1970s funk, soul and disco: a tidy 7" containing two stone cold classics from the Rod Temperton-helmed, UK-based "international band" Heatwave. Side A boasts one of the standout moments from the group's much-loved 1977 album "Central Heating", seductive, string-laden love song "The Star Of A Story". It's superbly arranged and brilliantly produced, with warm keys, Spanish guitar solos and rich orchestration combining beautifully with the band's slick and smooth vocals. Side B is taken up by 1976 single "Ain't No Half Steppin'", a bolder and more dancefloor-friendly chunk of warm and woozy dancefloor soul.
Review: Aside from a pair of releases on Horizontal Ground, and one appearance for the magnetic Edit Select, the enigmatic SNTS has chosen to reserve his/her releases for his/her own self-titled label. While the artist has only released EP's in the past, The Rustling Of The Leaves marks a debut LP effort. As you'd expect, the work is made up of chilling soundscapes, sinister sonics and grey-scaled ambient, but it's the way in which SNTS assembles beats around these elements that is impressive. "Backwoods", for example, flutters its subtle beats seamlessly into a hollow cave of drones and religious chanting, while a tune like "Remission" is what the inside of a power station would sound ike at night. For those who love their techno textures dark and sparse, this is it.
Review: Synth pop veterans Boytronic - well known for hit single "You" but also for honing their sound at sex shows in Hamburg's red light district - are back after a ten year hiatus. After several personnel changes over the years, the latest line-up features old and new vocalists in Holger Wobker and James Knights respectively, and it could be the first time ever that a replacement and their predecessor have worked together on the same record. Importantly, they work well together, with plenty of 80s influences looming large over a wealth of danceable beats, tinny chords and woodpecker fills.
The Return (feat Thando, Jace XL, Alien, Whosane) (9:16)
Don't Give Up (feat Mandarin Dreams) (4:51)
Made Us Better (feat Blue Lab beats, Boadi, Lori) (8:35)
Review: After Sampa's magic debut album it makes sense she's been signed by Ninja Tune for a follow up. Once again here the Zambian-born Australian singer-songwriter and rapper is in excellent form, delivering slick, complex verses that she says are "the most me to date". Exploring notions of race and relationships, amongst other things, her voice is couched in gorgeous broken beat, hip hop and r&b production. Highlights are plentiful throughout - "OMG" is a funky afro beat, "Any Day" is neo soul in the mould of Erykah Badu and "Final Form" is a trumpet lead, warrior queen anthem to get your chest pumping. Essential.
Review: French DJ, musician and producer Kid Loco has a storied career that dates back to the birth of his own Bondage Records in 1982. Since then he has become a real reference point for alternative sounds that sit at a junction between the worlds of rock and electronic music. Sometimes sampling, sometimes playing the music himself, he has made an entry into the hallowed DJ Kicks mix series and now returns with a new album that draws on trip hop, downtempo and indie pop. "Venus Alice In Dub" is the sort of lushly detailed tack that is perfect for modern audiophile bars and "Yes Please, No Lord!" could become a cult curveball for brave DJs, amongst many other highlights.
Review: Amerigo's The Big Payback series finds him bring together some fantasy all stars for his "J.B. and The Soul Mates" tribute concept. Here, James Brown's music is reworked, edited and chopped together with the work of hip hop giant Notorious BIG. It results in speaker blasting, floor filling, ass wiggling jams that mash up all the most iconic verses and choruses from each singer with their most recognisable guitar riffs, drum breaks and samples. It's a colourful collage that is as fun as it is funky.
Review: Edanticonf has been a mainstay of Silent Season for many years now, first delivering an album and EP to the Canadian label back in 2012. Since then he's travelled to labels such as M_REC, Wolfskuil, Phorma and Linear Movement, but he's back home to roost with this gorgeous four-tracker that plays on his trademark sound. Rich with melancholic synth work and moving with a purposeful but thoughtful pace, this is exactly the kind of evocative techno that makes Silent Season a buy on sight label. Every track tells its own story, but the starry twinkle of "The Metamorphosis Of Plants" is especially captivating.
Review: Michigan producer John Beltran is a master of atmosphere and emotion. His ambient has been used for countless seminal TV shows, he's been cited as an inspiration to Four Tet and has put out key albums on labels like Delsin and Peacefrog. Here he is in a distinctively club-focussed mood, but the synths still very much speak to your heart. "The Lake" is pure Motor City techno soul, and the ambient reprise allows you to wallow in his pads even more. "Twilight" then bustles with shimmering metal hits while pixelated keys drift about like a million fire flies in a warm night sky. Lush.
Digid & Dubbing Sun - "The Journey" (feat Ras Addis) (4:25)
Digid & Dubbing Sun - "Journey Dub" (4:27)
Bukkha - "Journey" (remix) (4:39)
Digid & Dubbing Sun - "Track 4" (3:17)
Review: This is a serious weight serving of dub that sounds truly deadly on the right system. It comes from a gaggle of producers and MCs as far as Austria (the Dubbing Sun collective), Spain by way of Louisiana(Bukkha) and Belgium (Digid) all mixed in with a healthy dose of Babylon bliss. Opener "The Journey" has rumbling kicks stumbling beneath taut electronic chords as Ras Addis' mutterings continually melt away. This is followed by a more upbeat and driven remix before the tense beatless version closes things out.
Review: Holden's 2006 debut album was an astonishing one that gets a timely reissue on double crystal-clear splatter vinyl. A high watermark for proudly synthetic and computer made music, it was the bold arrival of an artist who endures as an innovator to this day. "The Idiots Are Winning" is a masterclass in unhinged grooves, glitchy electronic sounds and mutant sounds that set a new benchmark in experimental textures, sound design and dance floor clout. "Idiot" is the standout banger, "Lump" is more trippy and heat workout, and "10101" is the twitchy and mesmeric workout you cannot escape. Music as idiosyncratic as this doesn't come along too often, and even 13 years left it still sounds fresh.
Review: New York's Blank Forms Editions welcome back Catherine Christer Hennix for a second album in quick time after her widely acclaimed debut last year. This one manages to hit even harder than that debut across four twenty minute suites that defy many western musical conventions. It is drone music with a difference, weird synth sounds drawn out and contorted before your very ears. It's caustic, challenging listening that plays out like the soundtrack to a horror movie in your own mind. Experimental music as occult as this truly sounds as if it comes from another planet, and tuning into it is a real thrill.
Review: Who remembers when Hip Hop was a force for good? A happy, colourful sound brimming with positivity and realness, rather than the blingy boasts of studio gangsters? Whether you do or don't, this new Daisy Age compilation by Saint Etienne's Bob Stanley is a timely release that shines a light on that small but golden era back in the late 80s. Key protagonists like Jungle Brothers and A Tribe Called Quest, as well as De La Soul, whose "3 Feet High and Rising" album was at the centre of this micro-movement, all feature alongside Pop and R&B with a similarly positive outlook. Essential.
Review: Whether offering up dreamy, loved-up synth-pop or languid Balearic beats, Michael Silver's work as CFCF has always tended towards the summery and sun-kissed. Yet even by his high standards, "The Colours Of Life" is extra-special. The album first appeared on Canadian tape/download imprint 1080p back in 2015, becoming something of a cult item amongst ambient and Balearic collectors. The good news is that it's finally made it to wax, and not a moment too soon. The album's mixture of lazy, elongated chords, bubbling synthesizer melodies, soft focus beats, seductive aural textures, gentle new age motifs and occasional heartfelt jazz guitars is a treat for the ears: an aural bubble bath whose sonic smelling salts will tickle and tingle the senses.
Review: Previously only available on CD back in 2001, this Best Of Fad Gadget collection finally lands on vinyl with inners including liner notes by Paul Morley. It draws on four of the cult band's most acclaimed albums and includes early singles like "Back to Nature", " Ricky's Hand; Handshake" and "Lady Shave." An undoubtedly large influence on the ensuing noise, industrial and EBM movements around Europe, this album highlights just how ahead of its time this music was with its angular guitars, dead pan vocals and twisted electronic sounds. Artful, roguish and energetic while being prescient on subjects like sexuality and mass media, this is an essential collection.
Review: It's been four years since Fat Freddy's Drop's "Ten Feet Tall" and the ongoing remix series that joins the dots between the New Zealand outfit and the best beat makers in Berlin. Winnie & Somow are house and reggae aficionados who straddle that divide on a remix that has a rumbling bottom end and super silky lead vocal from Joe Dukie. As much as it makes you want to move, it also tugs at the heartstrings. LoYoTo then layer in endless reverb to their remake, which is invitingly cavernous and dubbed out as they rework Dukie's vocal into something more detached and blissed out.
Review: Last time we heard from London's Lord Tusk, he was joining the dots between deep house and dub via a fine 2018 EP on MIC. Seven-inch single "Tell Me" is an altogether different beast, with the A-side title track offering a spacey, guitar-laden trip into lo-fi rock/intergalactic synth-pop fusion featuring the woozy vocal talents of sometime Unklejam member Tyson. Turn to the flip for "Healer", a gloriously reverb-heavy trip into late night Fleetwood Mac/AOR guitars, skittish drums, tipsy lead vocals and all manner of starburst dub effects.
Review: For their first album away from spiritual home Claremont 56, Ben Smith and Paul "Mudd" Murphy have decided to put a decidedly Balearic slant on the kind of atmospheric and quirky music that once was the mainstay of library music stalwarts KPM Records. Given their influences and seemingly innate ability to create heart-stopping, mind-soothing soundscapes, it's a canny move. Certainly, the music contained on "Tea With Holger" is impeccable, combining picturesque guitar and piano motifs with lilting easy listening orchestration, heady choral vocals, razor sharp strings and nods to various well-known TV and film soundtrack styles. Yet for all the knowing nods to old library music sounds, it's the quality of the duo's emotive and inspiring compositions that stands out.
Review: The jazz and broken beat revival continues apace as we race through 2019, so original pioneers of the sound are rightly coming back into focus. Enter the Brand New Heavies, one of the key acts of the mid-eighties who sound as good on this brand new album as ever. It's littered with funk-licked pop, crystalline acid jazz and singalong songs that range from tender ballads to soaring soul. Angie Stone, Beverley Knight and other vocalists lend their tones along the way, but importantly TBNH is not a revival or self-satisfied celebration. Instead, it feels like a forward-looking and accomplished album that takes the band in subtle new directions.