Review: Lars Bartkuhn is the co-founder (alongside brother Marek Bartkuhn and Yannick Elverfeld) of revered Frankfurt label Needs Music. The Nomad EP features the absolutely sublime "Nomand (Full Experience)" a bittersweet and emotive journey through techno-soul that's reminiscent of Jazzanova via John Beltran; this track is pure ecstasy and when that Spanish guitar comes in, it's one of those 'wow' moments! The reprise of the track is pure bliss, focusing in on that guitar sound and some immersive ambient atmosphere. On the flip we've also got the uplifting deep house vibes of "Tokyo Burning" which sounds more on the Ron Trent tip; this one's great too!
Review: On previous outings, Lars Bartkhun has expertly shuffled between techno-soul, dreamy deep house, and the kind of luscious, club-ready electronica that defies easy categorization. On the impeccable "Massai (Part 1)" he subtly doffs a cap to Early Sounds Recordings types Mystic Jungle and Nu Guinea, melding jazzy guitars, dreamy chords and vibrant synthesizer lines to a loose, Afro-influenced jazz-funk groove. At nearly 11 minutes in length, it's something of an epic, but one that stands up to repeat listens (it does ebb, flow and build rather magnificently). Turn to the flipside for the warm and gently unfurling ambient house bliss of "Massai (Part 2)", which sounds like the kind of thing you'd find tucked away on a DFC release from 1989.
Review: Ben Sun unveils his debut album to the world: First Light under his new project Earth Patterns. Easing off the gas and taking in a wider vista, conceptually the album is a homage to the small encounters and connections that linger and influence in profound, unforecastable ways. Sonically it's an emotional trip that explores the groove gamut, living up to every kind of journey analogy; the long misty road ahead on the synth-led "Sunflower", the rising momentum and sense of a new day on the cascading afrobeats and far-away strings on "Horus Rising", evocative heat of the moment direction on the Mr Fingers-style "Transit Pan" and the graceful Bob James-style jazz-tinged finale "Eight Circles". An exceptional excursion you'll keep coming back to time and time again.
Review: The Berlin-based artist occasionally known as Opal Sunn makes his debut on Utopia with this alluring six track EP. Laced with a touching, restrained and emotional feel throughout "Olson Waters" sets the tone with its beatless framework and gently cascading arrangements while "Hidden Tropics" adds a little momentum with soft rolling beats, drifting pipes and rising chords that sound reminiscent of Reduction era Art Of Noise. "Bells Of Ukyo", "Birds Of Bahia" and "Quiet Dawn" build on the ambient thread with Foly sound and deep meditative textures while a beatless take on "Hidden Tropics" closes the show with poignancy. Stunning.
Review: Longstanding Greek avant-garde pop pioneer Vangelis has been diligently crafting away since the mid 80s but only really came into context a few years ago with the reissue of his fittingly titled "Sleeping Beauties". Re-engaged with a new techno language he returns with a seven track odyssey that takes us on a true musical roadtrip - the smoky waves of jazz on cuts like the off-beat lounge dreams of "Tore" and the woozy "Liquidity", the cosmic harmonies and surges of euphoria on "All The Blue Skies" and beatier technoid soul of "Grand Delusions" are all alluring waymarks on Vangelis's unique trip. Elsewhere we're entranced with over-lapping synthesis cascades on "The Slipping Beauties Part II" and wrapped up in a blissful horn and piano duvet and rocked gently by the stunning title track finale. The time is now.
Review: Since being introduced to a new generation of listeners via 2014's superb The Sleeping Beauties retrospective, veteran Grecian musician Vangelis Katsoulis has enjoyed something of a career revival. The man once dubbed Greece's "king of electronics" is in fine form on If Not Now When, his first new album since the turn of the decade. Musically, it inhabits a similar aural space to his acclaimed 1980s work - think new influenced melodies, complex neo-classical arrangements, Gigi Masin style chord progressions, and breathtaking beautiful instrumentation - and often feels cinematic in tone. There are occasional curveballs - see the minimalist ambient techno of "Grand Delusion" and pleasingly percussive, jazz-flecked "Tsake Take Tundrum" - but these merely emphasize the quality of Katsoulis's compositional skills.
Review: Dominic Hugo Jacobson has been making music under the Modaji moniker since the late 1990's, so every time there's a new drop from the man we have complete confidence that he'll deliver the goods in fine style. We're talking house here, of course, and as deep as it can get. After all, the man deliver in broken beat back in the early 2000's, so he knows how to lay down some truth. He comes through on Utopia Records, a UK label ran by Alex Bradley, and on the A-side he's got three versions of "Belle Epoque", a beautiful slice of house music that is first coated in a layer of deep, sub harmonics on the 'Bellevue' mix, then reduced to a placid flutter of sonic waves on the 'Alucidation remix', and finally given the complete wash-over on the more balearic 'Ambience' version. "Espiritu Santo (Dance)" is a warm, glowing flush of house magic, which is followed by a magnificent ambient remix, and the sparse soundscape that is "17".