Review: Some 25 years after delivering his debut 12", Richard D James hasn't lost the ability to thrill or inspire. By his obtuse standards, the material that makes up the surprise Cheetah EP is actually rather laidback and melodious. "Cheetah2 (LD Spectrum)", for example, sounds like a slow house jam written by robots, while the even deeper "Cheetah7B" shuffles along in a metronomic fashion, seemingly oblivious to the increasingly aggressive World at large. Of course, those trademark skittish IDM rhythms are present and the Cornishman has thrown in a couple of hazy ambient cuts for good measure.
Review: Boom! Finally another reissue of Boards Of Canada's seminal Hi Scores LP from 1996! Along with the likes of Aphex Twin, LFO and Squarepusher, these guys have helped to define how we see electronic music today and this particular LP is arguably their most complete when it comes to the dancefloor. The title track is a twisted, floaty bindle of breaks and beats, but it doesn't end there. Tracks like "Nlogax" are inherently Detroitian in nature thanks to the bleepy drum machines inside, and all we can say is that if you haven't laid hands on this album yet, you shouldn't miss the opportunity to cop it now. It's still so relevant and contemporary, it hurts.
Review: Having previously been responsible for a number of themed compilations for Versatile Records, the Acid Arab crew has finally got round to delivering its' first album of original productions. Naturally, it continues their theme of blending North African and Middle Eastern sounds - be it vocals or instruments - with drum machine rhythms and vintage synthesizer sounds. This, though, is where the similarities to their previous work end. While there are a few house-influenced cuts dotted throughout (see the brilliant "Sayarat 303"), for the most part Musique De France veers further towards off-kilter electronic pop. Along the way, they doff a collective cap to new wave, punk-funk, and hazy indie-pop. While it may lack the crackling energy of their more dancefloor-minded productions, it's still a hugely enjoyable set.
Review: Back in 2008, noted experimentalist Alva Noto began a sporadic series of albums that were far more focused on dancefloor-inspired rhythms than his usual eccentric and inspiring fare. Unieqav is the third and, we're told, final part of the series. The album is apparently meant to be a sonic representation of an underwater dive, a conceptual theme which manifests itself through the storied producer's use of deep and atmospheric chords, fluid and occasionally glistening electronics, and rhythms that evoke images of ever-deeper dives into the dark, cold depths. Rhytmically, there are nods to electro, IDM, dub techno and Autechre, though the mood remains laidback and intoxicated throughout.
Review: Last summer, regular collaborators Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto joined forces for a one-off improvised performance at architect Philip Johnson's Glass House in Connecticut, a stunning building marked out by a lack of traditional walls. Using only a keyboard, mixers, microphones, singing glass bowls, crotales (tiny cymbals played with mallets), the "architecture of the building" and limited rehearsal time, the acclaimed experimentalists created a genuinely unique piece that drew influence from the surroundings. Here, Noton presents the recording of the "100% improvised" piece on CD for the first time. It's an undeniably arresting piece - think droning electronic textures, glass-blown ambience and icily atmospheric soundscapes - and one that requires more than a 30-second clip to take in. We can assure you, though, that it really is a spellbinding and at times jaw-dropping affair.
Review: Given that Amnesia Scanner collaborated with PAN boss Bill Kouligas as Lexachest back in 2016, it's little surprise to see them pop up on the acclaimed imprint with their second full-length excursion. "Another Life" is a curious and willfully obtuse affair, but also hugely enjoyable. It's stylistically varied, with the Finnish duo applying their love of doomy riffs, mangled and distorted drums, heavily processed vocals (both human, courtesy of label mate Pan Daijing, and inhuman, via some clever new software application) and noisy, redlined electronics to everything from IDM and ambient to future R&B, experimental hip-hop, UK funky and blistering techno.
Review: In line with the timely reappraisal of all things R&S related, the resurgent Apollo have seen the opportunity to bring one of their most celebrated records back for another round on CD. Aphex Twin's ambient recordings mature magnificently with age, sounding ever richer and more emotive as the rest of electronic music continues to play catch up all around. From the gentle breakbeats of "Xtal" to the aquatic techno lure of "Tha", the airy rave of "Pulsewidth" to the heartwrenching composition of "Ageispolis", every track is a perennial example of how far ambient techno could reach even back then. It's just that no-one quite had the arm-span of Richard D. James.
Review: The unveiling of an Apparat album is always cause for commotion with the artist influence enough to push radio stations to stream his music 24/7 upon release. Long passages of streaming synth-textures underline the loose and sparse percussive effects of Apparat's jazz and minimalism. The artist's signature bass pulses hit the sweet spot throughout the albums entirety, always inspiring a well of heavy feeling when they do. Touches of the artist's Bpitch Control days remain as does Apparat's always inspired approach when merging instrumentation with outboard gear and technology, beat making and sound design. A sound to cherish once more.
Review: As hinted by the stark but bold cover art, Stockholm-based experimental composer Ellen Arkbro has adopted a more minimalist approach on her latest album for James Ginzburg's admirable Subtext label. "Chords" comprises two lengthy pieces, each of which stretches out alluringly across a side of vinyl. A-side "Chords For Organ" sets the tone, with Akbro making merry with unsettling sustained notes, foreboding electronic tones and droning electronic pulses. It's pretty challenging, but strangely alluring in a mind-altering kind of way. "Chords For Guitar" applies a similar approach to effects-laden guitar passages, with individual notes - processed to resemble odd electronic tones - sparring with slowly strummed chords over 17 mesmerizing minutes.
Review: Last month, experienced experimentalists Arovane and Porya Hatami released their latest collaborative album, Organism_evolution. Billed as a "development" on the creepy, clandestine and hugely atmospheric vibes explored on last year's Organism, the set expanded on the original's fluttering, otherworldly ambience - created largely by layering and processing their own field recordings - with the addition of more electro-acoustic elements and a wider range of synthesis techniques. Here, you can judge the results for yourself, as both albums get bundled together on CD for the first time. If you take the time to sit and listen to both discs in sequence, you'll not only spot the subtle shifts in the pair's collective sound, but also feel like you're on a particularly memorable journey through a psychedelically enhanced imagination.
Review: By the time they released In Visible Silence in 1986, the trio behind the Art of Noise - JJ Jeczalik, Gary Langan and Anne Dudley - had broken free of producer Trevor Horn and ZTT Records' concept-loving media man, Paul Morley. The resultant album was arguably more musically rich and varied than its predecessors, even if their obsession with the creative potential afforded by the Fairlight-CMI sampling computer remained in tact. It remains a hugely enjoyable set, rich in Dudley's neo-classical flourishes, Jeczalik's cheeky sense of humour and ability to spot a killer sample, and Langan's brilliant beat programming and production. This expanded reissue accompanies the original 11-track album with a wealth of obscure, forgotten or unreleased bonus material, including alternative mixes, 12" versions and unlikely collaborations.
Review: By the time the Art of Noise released third album "In No Sense? Nonsense!" in 1987, the outfit was the sole preserve of sampling pioneer and Fairlight CMI specialist J.J Jeczalik and neo-classical composer Anne Dudley. Between them, the pair produced an impressively experimental, pop-tinged set, with critics praising both Jeczalik's advanced percussion programming and trademark sample collages, and the string-drenched sweetness and layered keyboard work that soundtrack specialist Anne Dudley provided. This "deluxe" reissue could well be the definitive version, featuring as it does the re-mastered original set, alternative remixes, dancefloor-focused 12" versions (something the band always excelled at), demos and previously unheard tracks. Surprisingly, these include previously unreleased collaborations with Duane Eddy and Sir Paul McCartney.
Review: The illustrious and complex catalogue of Robert Ashley is a many-sided dice with all kinds of points of entry. Fortunately reissue culture sees some of the most significant highlights coming to the fore, guiding you into the world of this visionary artist. "Private Parts" was Ashley's second studio album, preceding his widely hailed classic "Automatic Writing". It's made up of two long form pieces centred on Ashley's freestyle poetry, with a backdrop of synths and tabla creating a comfortable bed for his thought-provoking words. "The Park" is the more melodious, soothing creation, but the words drill in deeper over the rhythmic focus of "The Backyard." Either way, a landmark piece of work from a truly singular artist - to think it was originally released in 1978...
Review: You couldn't accuse The Assembled Minds' Matt Saunders - arguably best known as one half of 4AD outfit Magnetophone - of lacking a clear vision. With sophomore solo set Creaking Haze & Other Rave Ghosts, he claims to have created "techno-Morris-horror", via an aural "investigation into how a '70s British horror movie would sound, if a strange kind of proto-rave dance music had been at the director's disposal". In essence, this manifests itself in piano laden ambient tracks to tease and titillate zombie maypole dancers, discordant dancefloor slow jams peppered with creepy ice cream van chimes, and occasional blasts of loved-up, misty-eyed nostalgia.
Review: Over the last four decades, we've come accustomed to veteran electronic experimentalist Uwe Schmidt surprising us with each successive album. Even so, we were still pleasantly surprised by his latest Atom TM release, whose title - Walzeryklus ("Waltz Cycle") - offers a hint to his latest inspiration. Recorded with angel-voiced singer Lisokot, the album is entirely made up of tracks recorded in the 3/4 time signature of classic waltz. Naturally, these waltzes are unlike anything you'll have heard before, variously taking in neo-classical inspired ambient, eccentric left-of-centre synth-pop, bubbly electronica, fizzing Rephlex style "Braindance" and even a gtouch of wonky, mind-altering techno.
Review: Over the past few years, Be Svendsen's releases have showcased his growing maturity as a producer, with the straight-up club fare of old replaced by a range of far more intriguing and musically complex cuts. There are further signs of maturation on this long awaited debut album, which cheerfully shuffles between melodious, mid-tempo Balearic deep house ("Falling"), jazzy and folksy soundscapes (the brilliant title track), dub disco-influenced wonky synth-pop ("Drop The Gun"), Italo-disco revivalism ("Andromeda"), blissful ambient business (the delightful "Moments"), cosmic rock ("Hazy Eyes") and dewy-eyed vocal numbers ("October Letters"). In other words, he's finally delivered the album he's been capable of for some time.