Review: You can always count on Afrikan Sciences to flip the script with what you think soulful electronic music should sound like. Tearing the grid up and pinging off on a cosmic voyage in between the notes, this is futuristic, jazz-minded machine music of the highest order. "Reciprocess" is a shuddering, but surprisingly focused exercise in cracking open the house music structure, while "Hullman Z" gets into a brilliantly futuristic boogie. "Just In Case I Do" takes a more laid back approach without eschewing the essential dose of freakiness, and "Son Shine" takes things in an explicitly broken beat direction with spellbinding results.
Review: Thankfully, Richard D. James has decided to finally release at least some of the output that he's been banging on about since mid-2000s. In a number of interviews, the might Aphex Twin hinted that he has vast artilleries of tracks stacked up and unreleased, probably more on purpose than out of laziness...or maybe not. What we do know is that AFX is reborn after the string of acid 12"s released about 10 years ago on Rephlex, that saw the alias become one of the most popular of James' alter egos. Orphaned Deejay Selek is a collection of tunes that contain all of the Twin's magic and unpredictably, but that also cut straight to the point and head to the middle of the dance floor. This is banging brain dynamite coated in the man's iconic style and flair. Welcome back AFX, and many hats off to Warp for making it happen.
Review: Chicago label Chained Library present some contemplative minimal noise experiments courtesy of the mysterious Agnes who presents the 012016002001 EP and it is mastered by the one and only Rashad Becker: which is fitting really. Fans of Becker's recent works will really appreciate these extreme and at times challenging sonic workouts on both sides, approximately 15 minutes each. Both extended pieces are reductionist electronic sound art at its finest. Very intrigued as to what this imprint is up to next.
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: The latest outing on Vatos Locos' "Limited" series comes courtesy of Amo, an artist whose last solo outing - a decent but largely overlooked debut EP on Dissonant - was released way back in 2013. There's plenty to admire across the four-tracks, with opener "Find Turn" delivering an impressively deep, woozy and hypnotic blend of soft-touch electronics, drowsy, effects-laden vocals, dubbed-out aural textures and shuffling tech-house drums. Elsewhere, "Spitgame" is a more bass-heavy affair rich in wonky vocal snippets and bouncy drums, while "Whattosay" is a mind-altering chunk of early morning tech-house smothered in trippy electronics. To complete the package, Hector and David Gtronic join forces to deliver an off-kilter, club-ready minimal house revision of "Find Turn".
Review: Despite releasing a series of inspired, out-there 12" singles on Tabernacle, Offseason and Going Good, we're no nearer to discovering the identity of Anom Vitruv. In many ways, it doesn't matter. The music he produces - a ghostly blend of curious found sounds, crusty ambience, mawkish deep house and unsettling techno - seems to revel in its unmarked, untitled nature. This long player for Canada's Total Stasis continues on his now familiar theme, quietly shuffling between eerie soundscapes, experimental interludes, dubbed-out minimalist oddness (the weird but immersive "Track 3") and clanking, industrial house (the alien electronics and metallic percussion of "Track 4").
Review: Automatik-Datamatik is a label based in western Germany and founded in 2008 by Adalbert C. Kupietz. He would like to present you with this release, which is a tribute to his late father Leszek J. Kupietz. He was passionate drummer in the 70s/80s and is said to have toured intensively with his band all over the world. Although they never had the opportunity to collaborate directly, Adalbert had access to some of his recorded drum skills on this record. Electronically packed with analog synths accompanied by Leszek's Sonor drums. Used extensively on the album were PPG Wave 2.2, Fender Rhodes, Rhodes CHROMA, Hohner Clavinet, Yamaha CS-50VP-330 diverse ARPs, Korg and Roland Synths.
Review: Gravity Graffiti present more mesmerising sounds from far-flung reaches, this time showcasing the music of debutant Thai producer Anurak Boonliang. According to the label, Boonliang is steeped in classical Thai music training, and now applies his background to drum computers and synthesisers. The results are astounding, characterized by nimble melodic and percussive programming that moves between regimented rhythmic shapes and more free-flowing patterns with grace and elegance. "Reality" brings Boonliang's roots into focus with a field recording of what we assume is a traditional Pi Phat musical ensemble. If you're in the mood for fresh electronics unbound by the familiar structures embedded in Western culture, look no further.
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 - see the B-side's lead cut - and the Cornishman has thrown in a couple of hazy ambient cuts for good measure.
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: One of the great joys of James Clements' music as ASC is its thrilling unpredictability. While his productions have always been rooted in drum and bass, he's released little straightforward D&B for the best part of a decade. His latest outing on Samurai is dark and hard to pigeonhole, offering tracks that variously mix and match elements of intense acid, Autechre-style IDM, the sub-weight of D&B culture, the aural haziness of ambient and the skittish post-D&B rhythms that have long marked out his work. Our picks of a very strong bunch are the buzzing experimental techno psychedelia of acid-laden closing cut "Currents" and the sparse, sub-heavy haziness of opener "The Siren", where high tempo acid lines bubble away above a suitably hazy and paranoid backing track.
The McDonald's Prayer (Japan Blues regrind) (5:58)
The McDonald's Prayer (Ossia Milkshake mix) (3:19)
Review: Seb Gainsborough and Chester Giles' ASDA project has been one of our highlights over the last couple of years. Through their punky, deranged aesthetic, the duo have given new meanings to the spoken word disposition and, in the process, left the doors wide open for interpretation. The music scene needs that. We need that. It's as if their work has cleansed the air for us and taken our minds back to a time when genres weren't such a big deal; a palette cleanser, if you will! "The McDonald's Prayer" marks their second outing on for No Corner and, much like The Abyss LP, the tune blazes through poetry with disparate shots of bass and sparse percussion stabs. This is all rendered all the more special thanks to a remix from London's Japan Blues, whose remix duties ever since that pair of bruisers for Place No Blame have become household favourites of ours, and he's on form here; a lo-fi slew of bass moulds around hazy claps and peaceful melodies to create a masterful groove. Ossia comes in for the second remix, this time stretching the original out onto some vintage Metalheadz vibes... minus the breaks. Sick.
Review: Helena Hauff's label is back, this time presenting a various artists 12" that heralds the start of the No Return series. The release starts on a mystical bent with the Eastern-tinged death electro of "El Carmel", sounding ripe for a Hague-friendly warm-up session. Neud Photo then take over with a dystopian trip through rich synth tones coloured in dark hues for the bleakest of robotic fantasies. Antoni Maiovvi fills the B-side with the slow grinding bombast of "The Dig", bleeding out a noirish take on coldwave for the darkest hearts to swoon to.
Review: Local Talk hits the rather significant catalogue number of 100 with a forward thinking EP that stays true to its MO over the last few years. It finds MLiR aka Modern Life Is Rubbish joined by Arnau Obiols to serve up a brace of brilliant tunes that blur the lines between a myriad different dance styles. "Lajbans" is a playful, fun tune with tooting arps and cosmic melodies all married to a chugging beat that Todd Terje would be proud of. The Bellaterra dub on the flip reworks it with plenty of space echo, knob twirling effects and sci-fi atmospheres. A tidy little package.
Alessandro Adriani - "Do Not Deliver Me Into The Enemy's Hands" (6:01)
Raw Ambassador - "Attack, Attack!" (5:49)
Review: New Italian label Hiroshima 45 Chernobyl 86 Windows 95 present Pubblicazione 001. Starting off on the A side is Penelope's Fiance from Thessaloniki, who serves up a lo-fi and coldwave perspective of the Boards Of Canada on "Run & Gun", while Italians Rawmance and Security team up on the slo-mo EBM mutation of "Un Bon Flic" - bringing you the sound of latter's Knick Knack Yoda burger club in Rome. On the flip, Mannequin boss Alessandro Adriani gives us the gnarly 303 acid epic "Do Not Deliver Me Into The Enemy's Hands" and Raw Ambassador aka Antonio Barbetta gives us the early industrial sounds of "Attack, Attack!" with its rusty aesthetic calling to mind the classics of Portion Control or Skinny Puppy.
Review: Ziggy Stardust's yet unheard instrumental album after he returned from a trip on his Gemini spaceship. Not much is known of the shadowy producer (yes, despite the compelling pitch we gave you before!) as yet, but this just adds to the mystery surrounding the release as a whole. From hazy balearica to blunted hip-hop beats, deep country-infused exotica (if we've ever heard such a thing!) to lo-slung psychedelia - it's a captivating journey from start to finish. Will certainly appeal to fans of life in the slow lane, best presented recently by Marcus Worgull and Motor City Drum Ensemble's Vermont project or pretty much anything on London's Claremont 56 imprint. Highly recommended. Tip!
Review: ACT! denotes a new chapter of creative output from David Psutka, via his new Halocline Trance label. The Toronto based musician builds on a diverse body of releases as Egyptrixx, Ceramic TL, Anamai (and various other collaborations) with the Universalist LP. It conjures up 'baroque, kaleidoscope electronics; (a) material sound for a disembodied world.. indebted in spirit to the masters of psychic jazz as much as the physical euphoria of the club.' From the freeform FM arpeggio madness of "Ecstatica/On Patrol", "Para" exploring video game aesthetics via hyperaware tempos, or the sonic gradients exposed via texture/tone on tracks like "BTHL". This is a contemplative and strangely celestial experience.
Review: "It's like painting with button and sliders... Melting and dripping, seeping yourself liquid into the machinery." So said Darren Cunningham when discussing the creation of R.I.P, his long awaited follow up to Splazsh. It's a compelling image that works in practice too. R.I.P creates microcosmic sound worlds within each track: "Holy Water" for instance tumbles in on itself in a melange of shimmering sinewave droplets, while the pitchshifted waves of "Tree Of Knowledge" seem to inhale and exhale like a living being, crumpling inwards on itself to repeat the same motion ad infinitum. And although it uses much the same, occasionally abrasive sonic building blocks as Cunningham's been developing for many years, the pastoral tones of "Uriel's Black Harp" and the Alva Noto styles of "Jardin" make R.I.P a surprisingly graceful album. It may not be techno as many will know it, but Cunningham has never made techno in the traditional sense anyway - and it's clear on listening to R.I.P that he's only just beginning to realise the musical forms that have been swarming inside his brain for years.
Review: Since releasing his fine debut album Offseason Traveller in 2013, Aera releases have been sporadic at best. Although there have been odd singles here and there (including a brilliant 2017 out on Hivern Discs), fans have been made to wait for this long-promised sophomore set. Aera (AKA Aleph Music founder Ralf Schmidt) claims it's his most personal and coherent work yet, and we tend to agree. Largely unconcerned with making people dance, the album offers up a melodious, far-sighted and largely ear-pleasing blend of ambient, electronica and IDM cuts variously inspired by new age, kosmiche and krautrock. Of course, there are hints of the producer's usual left-of-centre take on house and techno throughout, but it's the uncluttered beauty of the album's more downtempo tracks that makes the biggest impression.
Review: Given that it's called "Coloured" and appears on shocking pink vinyl, you'd expect Adam Longman Parker's debut album as Afriqua to be a decidedly vibrant and kaleidoscopic affair. It is, of course, with Longman Parker offering up tracks that mix tropical-sounding electronics, glassy-eyed synthesizer motifs, processed vocal sounds and evocative musical flourishes with jaunty, interesting rhythms that neatly sidestep conventional genre rules. It's a mixture that makes for hugely enjoyable listening, with highlights coming thick and fast. These include - though are by no means limited to - the densely layered dancefloor cheekiness of "Shout", the minimalist ambient bliss of "Noir", the hypnotic, intergalactic oddness of "Native Sun" and the bubbly club warmth of "Jumpteenth".
Review: Air Cushion Finish formed in Berlin in 2007 and is comprised of composer JayRope and 'natural vocal synthesizer' Lippstueck, who have graced Berlin's underground scene together since the 1990s. Lippstueck sings wordless and backwards in time, while partner JayRope uses a combination of electronic and string instruments in an improvised, DIY fashion. According to Amsterdam based label Lullabies For Insomniacs, their ever evolving setup is imperative and 'subsequently music is programmatic to the band, resulting into an unforeseeable slow motion cacophony of whispers, bleeps, rhythms and harmonies.' The Flink LP is the duo's sixth studio album; a collection of experimental electronics, assembled in freeform fashion alongside some curious field recordings that you can fully immerse yourself in.
Shanzhai (For Shanzhai Biennial) (feat Helen Feng)
Review: Multidisciplinary artist Fatima Al Qadiri aligns with Hyperdub to release Asiatisch, a keenly anticipated debut album that's described as a "simulated road trip through an imagined China". First coming to prominence on the UNO label in 2011, Al Qadiri has subsequently provoked critical acclaim for the 2012 Desert Strike EP for Fade To Mind that played on her time spent living in Kuwait as a child, while her work under the Ayshay moniker for Tri Angle explored vocals in a unique manner. Asiatisch expands on the political themes of Desert Strike in a new and unexpected way, and acts as a homage to the style of grime known as "sinogrime". Asian motifs and melodies are prominent throughout whilst conceptually Al Qadiri runs through "the fantasies of east Asia as refracted through pulpy Western pop culture". If that wasn't enough to sell you on the concept, opening track "Shanzhai" is a "nonsensical Mandarin" language cover of Sinead O'Connor's "Nothing Compares 2 U".
Review: First reissue of this LP by Italian pioneer and Ennio Morricone cohort, Alessandro Alessandroni. Originaly released on Munich based experimental label Coloursound. Alessandroni at his best: very refined Italian cinematic sound, tense 12 strings guitar themes, synth sequences, beautiful sound of chamber classical music mixed with psych choir. You can feel Alessandroni's magical touch for melodies and arrangements on each song and at the same time, some Francois de Roubaix reminiscence on themes like "Dramatic". No doubt each track of this underrated masterpiece could have been a classic soundtrack theme.
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: Amandra is a French producer, who with partner Ovend runs Ahrpe: a record label founded in 2014. Other than that, he's fresh of a killer split EP on Konstrukt with grey area specialist ASC, in addition to an appearance for Spanish imprint Semantica. His second full length entitled 'Dame De Bahia' comes courtesy of Obscura, run by Southern Italian power trio Agents Of Time. A collection of lush and hypnotic tracks that dwell on the deeper end of techno spectrum yet creating a cohesive whole - a compelling listen overall. Highlights include the dry and broken analogue jitter of "Polichinela" which calls to mind the work of Sebastian Mullaert (wait until that acid comes creeping in), the transcendental tribalism of the title track would make even Refracted stand up and notice, while the downbeat trance induction of "Matisa Anse" will have you levitating in no time.
Review: Since 2012, much of Oren Ambarchi's solo has been focused on the intense potential of driving rhythms. "Simian Angel", the experimentalist guitarist and percussionist's 21st solo set, is a far more picturesque and slowly shifting affair. While there are distant drums present on opener "Palm Sugar Candy" (provided by Brazilian percussionist Cyro Baptista), these are buried a little in the mix, with Ambarchi's becalmed electronic tones, slow motion ambient chords and distinctive, effects-laden guitars taking centre stage. The results are warm, inviting and sun-kissed. The same could be said about title track "Simian Angel", an opaque, sun-bright suite of interconnected movements marked out by intricate piano solos, hazy guitar tones and visceral aural textures.
Review: Vancouver scene stalwarts Sophie Sweetland and Dan Rincon renew their Ambien Baby partnership with an expansive follow-up to 2018's acclaimed project debut, "Transfusion EP". While that was very good, "En Transito" is arguably even better thanks to the duo's giddy mixing and mangling of interconnected electronic sounds and styles. Highlights are plentiful throughout, from the yearning sunrise melodies and Wagon Christ style drums of "Cosa", to the druggy ambient techno of "Seven Minutes In Heaven" and slo-mo acid chug of "Sequential", via the mid-'90s Ninja Tune style head-nodding beats of "Light & High". In other words, it's ace.
Review: Amnesia Scanner, the duo made up of Martti Kalliala and Ville Haimala, have quickly established themselves as important artists operating in the field of experimental electronic music, with a distinct focus towards noise, sound collage and abrasive synthesis. After last year's "Another Life", they return to Pan in collaboration with label boss Bill Kouligas, resulting in the startling, challenging and compelling "Lexachast". It's an album that veers in mood from track to track - at times intimate and furtive, other times bold and aggressive. There are whispers of beats thrown tauntingly to the edge of the mix, while elsewhere acoustic sound sources strain to be heard, but the focus is really on jagged shards of processed sound. It's a powerful, unapologetic listen from artists and a label proudly stabbing into unknown sonic territory.
Review: In the info sheet heralding the release of his second studio album, "Hands Rest", German experimentalist Aparde states his desire to fuse "the essence of the Berlin club scene" and "dive deep into personal emotions" via the medium of avant-garde pop. You can judge whether he's achieved that, but from where we're sat Aaparde has done a pretty good job at hitting those aims. Rhythmically and sonically there are nods towards the city's techno scene (see the late night throb of "Layers"), but these aspects often act as background textures in support of the artist's ambient-pop electronics, early morning soundscapes, atmospheric chords and yearning, soft-touch vocals. It's a brilliant blend.
Review: Just four months after the release of the long-awaited Syro, Richard D. James has dropped an EP of all-new material, more than making up for his 13 years of radio silence. Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments Pt 2 is an album comprised of music that's just that, making for one of the most unique collection of Aphex Twin tracks of James's entire career. From intricate piano miniatures to almost jazz-inspired drum rhythms, it's essential listening for those willing to delve deep into the strange sonic world of the producer.
Review: Apparat has been working closely with London's infamous Mute records for a few years, and it's borne some rich fruit. We finally have a new LP from the man which we've been waiting impatiently for and its as excellent as you'd expect. The opener "44" is actually something slightly unexpected from Apparat, where solemn cellos twine graciously to their own rhythm, but things are soon engulfed into a familiar electronic shade one the noise version. "LightOn" is a near perfect amalgamation of shuffling clicks, euphoric pads and one hell of a bassline; but there's other highlights here for sure, such as the irresistibly seductive whale chants on "Blank Page" or the modern classical piano keys and violins merging on "K & F Thema (Pizzicato)" and the closing track "A Violet Sky" - something which surpasses all expectation thanks to its almost synth pop vibes.
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: The music Venezuelan artist Alejandro Ghersi makes as Arca first came to the fore via UNO, the New York label who issued a trio of compelling releases in 2012. Arca's brand of glossy, high grade beat experimentation has seen him go on to work with Kanye West and FKA Twigs as well as release on venerated US indie Hippos In Tanks. An album deal with Mute may seem unexpected yet the UK label have a long and proud tradition of challenging conventions. Entitled Xen, Mute have described the 15 track set as full of "mercurial forms, fluxing unpredictably from smooth to spiked to sweet" and you wont get much of an idea from the soundclips. If you were charmed by the FKA Twigs set this is an album that will get your serotonins bubbling.
Review: It's been a rapid rise over the past few years for Alejandro Ghersi's Arca alias. Following some years spent as Nuuro, his current project launched with aplomb on UNO in 2012 before moving on to Hippos In Tanks, and then last year shored up at Mute with the Xen album in a demonstration of true ascendance through the leftfield ranks. Now Ghersi returns to Mute with a new album Mutant, which sees further exploration of his detailed, unusual style touching on elements of noise, bombastic ambient and neoclassical. "Soichiro" lays down wispy threads of trap in amongst dramatic stop-start dynamics while "En" flirts with lingering piano and static interference in the most artful of ways, just two examples of an album loaded with surprise and intrigue.
Review: Area returns to his Kimochi label to deliver a rich musing on ambient approaches from a techno mindset, and he's brought some esteemed friends along for the ride. "Through The Wall" is a magnificent slice of melancholy that leads the A-side in a cloud of billowing chords that undulate through modulation, while "Everything Thrown Away" takes a more intimate approach with quietly drifting synth tones and subtle FX processing. Donato Dozzy's "Genesis Chamber" mix of "Entireless" is a more extravagant affair with layers of noise and feedback working into the beatless space, and Eltron John's guest spot on "Pop Life" adds further aquatic shapes to the fluid tones contained within.
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: Attraktta is the new project of Brighton based Steve Hyland, who recorded under his birth name and Normal for Clone sub label Ai many years ago. Echo Principle is his second album that follows up last year's Massive Irretrievable Data Loss (on Touched - Music For Macmillan Cancer Support) where Hyland explores the outer limits of electro, IDM and techno across the album's half a dozen or so tracks. From the industrial edged offworld futurism of "Pulse Echo", the evocative "Distance In Ultrablue" that is reminiscent of early Autechre, through to bass driven futurist beats as heard on "McMurdo Sound" or the title track. All in all, Berlin's FILM imprint have offered up some timeless tracks by Hyland here.
Review: 21 years since its release and a good 15 years after its last vinyl repress, Tri Repetae's new vinyl revitalization is incredibly welcome news to fans old and new. Without wanting to preach to the choir but everything about this body of work remains ahead of its time and on its own. From those opening robotic purrs and mechanical breaks to those final tubular space echoes on "Rsdio", the whole album still sucks you in with such alien, otherworldly allure. How they made those sounds and arranged them in such a way with the technology at the time blew minds back then and blows even more in hindsight. A serious document.
Review: It's hard to over-emphasize the impact made by Autechre's debut album, Incunabla, on its initial release back in 1993. While they'd ruffled a few feathers already with their 1991 debut 12" - an explosion of off-kilter hardcore and techno - the album was an altogether different beast: a collection of timeless "intelligent dance music" numbers that skillfully fused far-sighted, Motor City electronics, teak-tough drums, metallic percussion hits, spacey ambience, and the kind of intense, off-kilter computer rhythms that would later become their trademark. Should you need persuading of its enduring brilliance, check out the feral thrust of "Basscadet", the bubbly, intergalactic hum of "Windwind", and the icy snap of "Autriche".
Review: While undoubtedly one of dance music's greatest party-starters, Daniel Avery has never been a dance music purist. Over the years, there have been various quirky, downtempo-minded side projects and DJ mixes that show the impressive breadth of his musical knowledge. It's for this reason we're not that surprised to find that Song For Alpha, his first album since 2013, combines deeper and more trippy takes on his club-ready sound (home listening fodder, despite the drums) with escapist, early morning cuts inspired by ambient greats (Brian Eno, John Hassell etc.) and the after-hours electronica of Warp's pioneering Artificial Intelligence series. By mixing things up in this way, Avery has delivered what could well be his strongest body of work to date.
Review: Glasgow's 12th Isle collective describe themselves as a "label, nightlife institution, and occasional radio broadcaster," and their debut release will find favour with anyone that keeps up to date on the inner workings of Going Good, Firecracker, Mood Hut to SUED and Acido. Thoughtstream is a truly delightful album recorded by St. Petersburg-based duo Dices + AEM, spanning some 11 tracks recorded over the duration of 2015 by the Udacha and Gost Zvuk affiliates. Influences from early sequence-based electronics and vintage space rock abound throughout Thoughtstream, paired up with a diverse rhythmic approach that is quite reminiscent of the Aquarian Foundation album that Going Good put out a few years back. Extra points are awarded for the superb silk-screened artwork courtesy of 12th Isle's own Al White.
Review: Marionette's latest release is an intriguing proposition: a collaborative full-length that brings together Swiss percussionist Michael Anklin and modular synthesizer experimentalist Kilchhofer. According to the accompanying press release, the music on "Moto Perpetuo" was inspired by the duo's rural surroundings, and more specifically "a never-ending quest for an 'un-klang': a primordial, ancestral music". In practice, that means an intriguing but largely hugely attractive blend of alien electronics, droning aural textures, spaced-out percussion hits, dark rhythms, crackling noise and metallic chimes, all mixed and mangled to produce a sextet of unique and mind-altering audio explorations.
Review: For her latest immersive and impressive work, composer and producer Anna Meredith has joined forces with the Scottish Ensemble - a strings-only orchestra from Glasgow - to create a seamless album inspired by Vivaldi's Four Seasons. In many ways, Anno is a re-telling of the much-loved orchestral piece, with Vivaldi's familiar compositions squeezed between wonderful new pieces by Meredith that combine neo-classical string movements with bubbly electronics, subtle beats and field recordings of various natural phenomena. Interestingly, even the more electronic-minded compositions don't sound out of place amongst Vivaldi's familiar suite, suggesting that Meredith's unique approach to musical fusion is both far-sighted and sympathetic.
Review: Back in 1996, Richard D. James and Planet Mu boss Mike Paradinas collaborated on a bizarre self-titled album under the name Mike & Rich. A cult addition to their respective highly-regarded canons that saw the pair applying their braindance template to easy listening and funk, the album soon came to be known as Expert Knob Twiddlers thanks to the excellent cover art. Newly reissued on Planet Mu, the album has been "carefully cleaned up, re-edited and remastered from the original DAT tape [and] put into a more fitting order." Some twenty years on the album remains a playful listen made all the more compelling by the addition of seven previously unheard tracks. A must for any fans of Aphex Twin and u-ZIQ.
Endless Memento/Regression/Wading Through The Underworld (14:23)
The Future Is Hurt/Dirt & Fields (15:43)
Hinter Der Vitrine (14:03)
Our Sharpened Blade/Rid Yourself Of The Parasites/Endless Longing (19:21)
Review: For his latest full-length, post-dubstep innovator turned dystopian soundscape specialist Shackleton has joined forces with British-German singer-songwriter Anika. Her drowsy, chilling tones provide the perfect foil for the producer's alternately paranoid and ethereal musical compositions; stretched-out pagan epics that sit somewhere between the soundtrack for The Wicker Man, the wind-swept ambience of Firecracker's Mac Talla Nan Craeg - compilation, and the experimental sound collages of the Music Concrete movement. It makes for a heady, intoxicating and at times otherworldly listening experience, even if it features numerous pastoral elements. Prepare to be thrilled and scared in equal measure.