Review: The last 12 months have been a boon for fans of Luke Vibert, with the veteran Cornishman delivering a killer acid album for Hypercolour, and a slick, melodious set of disco-inspired jams under his Kerrier District alias. Here he returns to regular home Planet Mu with another typically entertaining set inspired by classic British electronic music. Utilising his battery of vintage music-making machines, Vibert giddily doffs a cap to early '90s intelligent techno, rave-era hardcore, bleep, Chicago acid and "braindance", occasionally veering off track via easy listening-inspired future jazz, Wagon Christ style hip-hop head-nodders (the title track, which doffs a cap to a forgotten, mid-90s remix he did for Ninja Tune) and squidgy, synth-propelled mutant electrofunk.
Review: The ex-Czars frontman had already set the bar very high on his last two solo platters, mapping out an idiosyncratic style that somehow managed to be confessional and soul-searching yet sardonic and wry, and with memorable and melodious songwriting in abundance. Yet his third, 'Grey Tickles Black Pressure' takes bolder steps onto the dancefloor as well as into '70s FM radio terrain yet without compromising his dramatic and poignant delivery, with stirring and spectacular results. Uncompromisingly emotional in tone yet suffused by hope and positivity even amidst the trademark dark humour, this is the troubadour's greatest triumph yet.
Review: San Francisco-based musician Doug Hream Blunt is something of a cult icon, despite releasing surprisingly little recorded music. His one and only album release, 2000's Gentle Persuasion, inspired the likes of Dam-Funk, Ariel Pink and Luaka Bop founder David Byrne. Here, the latter attempts to raise Blunt's profile with a deserved retrospective. The San Fran man's trademark style is loose and lo-fi, offering colourful and entertaining blends of off-kilter funk, soul, and '60s psychedelia, with twittering flute lines, tumbling guitar solos and attractive synthesizer wig-outs complimenting his hazy vocals. This results in a near endless stream of highlights, from the bongo-laden sweetness of "Trek", and George Benson guitar solos of "Caribbean Queen", to the crunchy freak-funk of "Big Top".
Review: Donato Dozzy's previous album, Sintetizzatrice, made beautiful, avant-garde music out of chopped-up and manipulated vocals. For The Loud Silence, he's attempted to do similar with the "marranzano", better known as the humble mouth harp or Jew's Harp. The instrument's distinctive twang can be heard throughout the album, providing inspiration for trippy, droning ambience ("Personal Rock"), glitchy electronica ("The Net"), abstract techno ("Downhill To The Sea", whose industrial influences are obvious), and triumphant, post-Orbital soundtrack electronica (closer "Exit The Acropolis", which is nothing less than superb). Of course, there are musty textures and off-kilter electronic textures throughout, too, but it's the alien-sounding mouth harp the draws Dozzy's disparate strands together.
Review: After a two-year hiatus, New York's finest purveyors of flash-fried power pop and disco-punk return with their sixth full-length. Despite being 18 years into their career, there are few signs of tiredness on the predictably vibrant As If. While potential sing-along moments are plentiful, it's the looseness of their grooves and the incessant funkiness of tracks such as "All U Writers", "Ooo", and the thrillingly low-slung "All The Way" - in which the Brookyln-based outfit brilliantly fuse springy dub-disco grooves, wild synths and classic house riffs - that catches the ear. Interestingly, the strongest influences this time round appear to be Prince and early Red Hot Chili Peppers, giving the album a particularly kaleidoscopic aural hue.
Review: Having previously set out his stall via a series of well-received singles on Tempa, Wheel & Deal, Osiris Music, Cold Recordings and Boka Records, Jack Gibbons' has finally got round to producing a debut album under his now-familiar Ipman alias. Pleasingly, Depatterning is a thrill-a-minute set with a genuine sense of purpose. Taking heavy, surging sub-basslines as his foundation, Gibbons gleefully lays down a range of tracks that giddily joins the dots between post-dubstep rhythms, early British hardcore, classic jungle, fuzzy 4/4 grooves, IDM, mutant two-step and ambient. Throughout, he retains the perfect balance between redlined funk, crackling soundscapes and the melodiousness of vintage electronica.
Review: Berlin's excellent PAN imprint returns with yet another stunning LP of daring electronics and harmonic, hard ambience from Visionist. The London-based grime futurist has made a name for himself since his debut back in 2011, and he's released on everything from Ramp to Lit City Trax in the process. His debut LP is a wonderful amalgamation of electronic r&b and UK bass, where dance tracks retain a soulful edge and more soulful tune contain a dance sensibility. It's a surprising addition to PAN at first, but given Bill Kouligas' passion for UK music, it's not a shocker. In fact, it fits in ever so well. Big!
Review: Bristol musician Pete Josef is probably best known for his role in The White Lamp, a collaboration with former Underworld man Darren Emerson that proved quite popular several years ago. Indeed, it was Sonar Kollektiv's licensing of The White Lamp track "Make It Good" that proved the genesis of Josef working with the German label which now results in his debut album Colours. Some 11 tracks deep, Colours features a real blend of styles with Josef's wonderfully warm vocals the one element that binds them all together. Brushed with jazz, soul, broken beat, and more, there is a clear sense of melancholy and nostalgia to much of Colours, with Josef impressively responsible for all elements of production and recording! A real gem from the SK crew
Review: In many ways, Coma is the epitome of a modern Kompakt act. Their sound is rooted in deep house, melodious techno and woozy synth-pop, but also draws on ambient and the kind of numb, opiate electronica that quietly stirs the senses. The Cologne-based duo is on fine form on this second full-length, which arrives two years after their similarly impressive debut, In Technicolour. Moments of synth-heavy cheeriness (see "Verse Chorus") and New Order inspired dancefloor deepness ("Poor Night") are joined by nods to the Junior Boys ("Happiness") and vintage trip-hop ("The Wind"), on a set that sparkles from start to finish.