Review: New kids on the reissue block, New Zealand's Strangelove Music are off to a flying start with this beautiful 1983 art pop record from subversive chanteuse Lena D'Agua. "Jardim Zoologico" fuses electro boogie with Afrofunk with healthy measures of cosmic polish while "Tao" is a straight up Balearic gem that sparkles with sentiment and horizontal soul. Only ever released on Portuguese label Valentim De Carvalho, this reissue is over 30 years overdue.
Review: Canada's foremost re-edit imprint continues to churn out the hits, largely by delivering dub disco and Balearic-tinged interpretations of long forgotten or little-known cuts. Common Edit regulars Dane and Khotin join forces on the A-side, delivering a sweet chunk of boogie-era synthesizer reggae ("Imho"), before heading futher towards peaktime territory with the low-slung, late night AOR disco of "System". Eddie C digs delves into his seemingly bottomless crates of obscurities for inspiration on "I Want More", a gorgeous chunk of piano-laden Balearic disco sweetness. Finally, Dane lights up something medicinal, closes his eyes and delivers the smacked-out, guitar-laden ambient chug of "One For Dane". It's an absolute beauty, if truth be told.
Review: Brand new anonymous edit collective Delicate Wash start the spin cycle with four absolutely stunning slices of deeply dug funk soul. Laden with cosmic and Balearic nuances, from the Fleetwood Mac-esque twangs and glides of "Oh Michela" through to the playful slapbass, bluesy drama and raw uplift of the K&D recalling "Christian Does It Better" via the psychedelic subtleties and mild trippiness of "Web Objects" and the wilier jazz informed spirals of "La Salvazione Meravigliosa", these are four superbly polished and sculpted finds that will clean any floor you're faced with (delicately of course).
Review: The first Money $ex release of 2017 is something of a woozy, soft touch treat. It comes from German beat-maker Dexter - not to be confused with the Dutch electro legend - and contains as sextet of drowsy, melodious, sun-kissed workouts. It sounds like it may have been made with an MPC and a small but perfectly formed collection of analogue synthesizers, but don't quote us on that. The producer's specialism seems to be the fusion of languid chords, tumbling melody lines, spaced-out post hip-hop beats and carefully chosen samples. Of course, there are a few more upbeat moments jotted throughout - the brilliant soundscape synth-funk of "Bells of Lorenz" and deep house inspired boogie shuffler "Off Shore" being the best examples - but for the most part it's a pleasingly horizontal affair.
Elkin & Nelson - "Abran Paso - Ahoa (Enrolle)" (4:08)
Van McCoy & The Soul City Symphony - "Spanish Boogie" (3:33)
Review: Soon, DJ Harvey will release The Sound of Mercury Rising, a compilation themed around some of the music championed at his summer residency at Pikes Hotel, Ibiza. This four-track taster 12" not only acts as a sampler for the CD version, but also offers the chance to own four excellent and hard-to-find gems. You'll struggle to find a more Balearic disco cut than Danish outfit Tore's 1979 killer "She's a Lady" - think the Bee-Gees with Flamenco guitars - while Elkin & Nelson's "Abran Paso - Aboa (Enrole)" is a spiraling chunk of flamenco-psychedelia fusion. Elsewhere, Van McCoy & Soul City Symphony's "Spanish Boogie" is a jaunty disco number full of crunchy Clavinet lines and rising horn lines, while Tony Esposito's "Danza Dell'Acqua" is as eccentric and wide-eyed as they come.
Review: We are, of course, always keen to receive any new music that comes through from the Don't DJ collective - particularly on their own Diskant imprint - but we'd been waiting on this appearance for Japan's EM Records for a long while now. There's just something unashamedly right about this collaboration, from the music itself right down to the artwork and the rest of the like-minded artists that reside on this wonderful catalogue. The Don't DJ brothers have gone deeper than previous releases here, starting with the Nippon-minded dubbiness of "Hyperspace Is The Place", followed by the earthier, more vibrant melodic textures of the wavy "Forest People Plot". On the B-side, "Hyperspace Is No Place" bangs out a steady kick drum over deep, aqueous bleeps washed amid a sparse ocean of ambient delight, and "Evolve Version" provides the 'housiest' moment on this four-tracker in the form of an ethereal bombshell with a subtle balearic charm. Wonderful - you can't miss it!
Review: Dubbyman is on a roll with his releases at the moment, not least thanks to his incredible Deep Is Dead album landing recently on Deep Explorer. This time the Spanish deep house maestro is helping launch First Floor with an original jam that revels in a blanket of fog. "So Far" is the deepest of house jams, rolling along slowly and smoky without losing its presence, thanks in no small part to the soulful croon of the unnamed vocalist. Leo Gunn then steps up for the B-side, remixing "So Far" into a sprightly terrace anthem replete with snappy piano chords to warm your cockles, but fear not because that all-encompassing Dubbyman vibe persists throughout this release.
Review: Golf Channel and Emotional Response embark on a mission to bring together two generations of Kraut excellence as Dunkelziffer's Dominik Von Senger collaborates with the Montezumas Rache pairing of Jan Schulte and Christian Pannenborg. As you'd expect, the resultant EP is rather fine. They set the tone with "Rheinfaren", where a low-slung, dubbed-out groove is complimenting by twinkling guitars, delay-laden Jew's harp parts, and other sun-kissed elements. "Tangerine (Krauter Mix)" doffs a cap to Tangerine Dream and Dunkelziffer, with tumbling guitars - some effected by a wah-wah pedal - and vintage synths combining to create an effortlessly Balearic mood. Closer "Guten Morgen Bromio" is a fuzzier affair, combining grooves and sounds reminiscent of Pink Floyd's Animals full-length with the out-there attitude of classic krautrock.
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: Back in 2011, Nicolas Jaar joined forces with fellow Clown & Sunset contributor Dave Harrington for the Darkside EP, an impressive trio of untitled tracks that pitted the formers scratchy, near-paranoid production style against the latter's penchant for lo-fi indie-rock inspired fuzziness. Here, the duo dusts down the Darkside alias once more for a first collaborative album. Predictably, it's an impressive set, offering a collection of downtempo tracks that shuffle between crackly, out-there atmospherics ("Sitra", reminiscent of much of Jaar's Space is Only Noise album), echo-laden alt-rock experimentalism ("Heart") and heart-aching fragility (the James Blake-ish "Greek Light").
Review: Following DJ Richard's crucial LP Dial round out another fine year with a debut album from self-styled "open collective" Dawn Mok, whose debut came with a fine contribution to the 15th anniversary compilation. Featuring creative input from an international cast of musicians encompassing the US, Asian, and European heritage, Dawn Mok are a curious addition to the Dial cause. Spearheaded by collective founder Felix Mura and vocalist Bundi, Eternal Love shares more with r&b than house or techno, but the best part is that we hadn't heard this type of music ever come out of this label. There are plenty of more abstract moments too, of course, and the tracks that are more on the pop side of things are still drenched in a thick layer or ambient gloom. It's minimal r&b, Dial style.
The Seraphims - "Conciousness Of Happening" (2:13)
Gary Davenport - "Sarra" (5:00)
Some Of My Best Friends Are Canadians - "Feeling Sheepish" (4:09)
The Rising Storm - "Frozen Laughter" (3:12)
Warfield Spillers - "Daddy's Little Girl" (4:50)
Joyce Heath - "I Wouldn't Dream Of It" (2:17)
Joe Tossini & Friends - "Wild Dream" (4:29)
Scott Seskind - "I Remember" (2:52)
Angel - "Driving (Down)" (4:28)
Nini Raviolette & Hugo Weris - "Slow" (1:05)
Nora Guthrie - "Home Before Dark" (2:38)
Once - "Joanna" (3:17)
Review: Sky Girl is the work of two noted (but arguably under-appreciated) crate diggers, DJ Sundae and Julien Dechery, and gathers together a veritable treasure trove of obscure material loosely connected by (in the label's own words) "the same longing sentiment". Its' fifteen tracks touch on a variety of hazy, down-tempo styles, and were recorded at various points between 1961 and '91. There's much to admire throughout, from the folksy psychedelic pop of The Rising Storm's "Frozen Laughter", and spoken word eccentricity of Scott Seskind's "I Remember", to the dreamy, eyes-closed ambience of Nini Raviolette & Hugo Weris' "Slow" and string-laden samba-folk of Nora Guthrie's "Home Before Dark".
Review: Last year, long-serving "global pop" innovators Deep Forest (now a solo project by co-founder Eric Mouquet) returned to action with a collaborative album co-penned by fellow "Worldbeat" veteran Daniele Gaudi. Here Moquet presents the first solo Deep Forest set since 2015, a breezy and sun-kissed set inspired by the music of Brazil. What you get is a dreamy and effortlessly melodious blend of indigenous rhythms, electronic instrumentation, dreamy chords, heartfelt vocals (in this case largely in Portuguese), ambient atmospherics and slow-motion synth-pop sensibilities. There are few surprises, but then you wouldn't expect them: after all, Mouquet is a master at producing this kind of accessible pop. If you're a fan of Deep Forest, you'll love it.
Review: Emotional Rescue turns its attention to Spanish artist Luis Delgado, who made a name for himself fusing traditional folk music from across the globe with experimental electronic practice. His first album Vathek stands as one of his masterworks, originally released in 1986 and featuring a range of different electro-acoustic approaches that draw you in with their strange, dynamic textures. There's a whiff of Jon Hassell's treated trumpet about "La Puerta De Ebano" while "El Sacrificio De Catoul" deals in a dense weave of chimes and percussion. Diverse, engrossing listening from the outer reaches.
Review: The Desire trio is made up of John Padgett, Megan Louise, and Nat Walker. Together, they've released a handful of EP's and an LP for the excellent Italians Do It Better, and they return to the label with a new six-tracker of off-the-wall, sultry synth disco. "Under Your Spell" is a soundtrack kind of tune, where Louise's vocals ride ever so well amid crunchy, mid-tempo drum machine beats, but there's also plenty of uplifting discotheque fun such as "Don't Call", and the supremely funky "Mirroir Mirroir". The B-side features a moodier vocal mix of the title track, the quirky bleeps and beats of "I Can Dream About You", and the beatless vocal mix of "Don't Call". Whether you're into synth pop, coldwave, or disco, Desire is sure to please your needs.
Pamela Nivens - "It's You I Love" (instrumental mix) (4:07)
Hugh Mane - "Real Sucker For Your Love" (6:36)
Switchdance - "Arabian Ride" (6:11)
Mr Marvin - "Entity" (Jazzy mix) (4:22)
Review: Almost two years on from the release of his brilliant "The Sound of Mercury Rising" compilation, DJ Harvey returns with another brilliant selection of tracks he's championed at Pikes in Ibiza. As with its predecessor, volume two offers a giddy skip through the dustier corners of his notoriously eclectic and off-kilter record selection. Along the way, he offers up chiming, synth-heavy Balearic classics (Mandy Smith, Hugh Mane), weirdo European disco (Marta Acuna), evocative electronic soundscapes (System Olympia), blue-eyed synth-pop (Pamela Nivens), drum machine-powered Middle Eastern madness (Switchdance's sublime "Arabian Ride") and a swathe of tasty contemporary cuts (the jaunty jazz-funk of Midlife, Das Komplex's ace "Slap", Nu Guinea's splendid "Je Vulesse" and Peaking Lights remix of Land of Light being the highlights).
Review: Krush's eighth - and last - album Jaku is up there with Endtroducing and Donuts in terms of seminal, influential and forward-thinking beat longer players. 10 years since its release and it still sounds as timeless, unique and exciting as it did in 2004. The slick licks of a young Mr Lif on "Nosferatu", the post-apocalyptic tension of "Univearth" the sludgy, swampy cosmic hip-hop of the Aesop Rock-featured "Kill Switch" and the unashamed sax sex of "Slit Of Cloud"..... Do we need to go on? Limited edition, 180g transparent vinyl; even if you already have this in your collection this is a very, very appealing investment.
Review: Portuguese pair Antonio and Manuela Duarte made plenty of music together in the mid-to-late 1980s - mostly offering an intriguing fusion of Ash Ra style meditative kosmiche, ambient electronics, new wave style and Iberian instrumentation - but very little of it was ever released. Hence "Electricidade Estetica", a debut album made up of previously unheard recordings that have sat dormant on reel-to-reel tapes for well over three decades. It's a fine collection of tracks, all told, most of which are near impossible to accurately describe or pigeonhole. Fundamentally, they're all inventive, atmospheric and ear-pleasing, offering a fine collection of head-in-the-clouds cuts that rises above its lo-fi roots to present the Portuguese pair as previously unheralded Balearic pioneers.
Review: Karen O and Danger Mouse are both serial collaborators, so when this joint album was announced we weren't all that surprised. Even so, we never thought the resultant set would be quite as good as this. Atmospheric, rich and full of songs that variously touch on sweeping cinematic soundtracks, driving Motown soul, fuzzy funk-rock, vintage trip-hop and hazy electronica, "Lux Prima" manages to showcase the best of both artists' talents while refusing to settle on one neatly defined sound. The set's dizzying highs - particularly the near 10-minute title track - are almost breathtakingly good, and there's enough jaunty moments to offset the heart-aching melancholy and emotional pain that's barely concealed throughout.