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.
Cameron Allen & Graham Bidstrup - "Bikini Atoll" (3:40)
Foot & Mouth - "I Want My Mummy" (4:15)
Review: An intriguing confection put together by two Antipodean crate-diggers with an ear for the eccentricities and heroic creative travails of a generation of yore, 'Midnight Spares' chronicles a predominantly '80s era in which bedroom musicians took a post-punk DIY sensibility to create work that still rings out with originality and ingenuity decades on. Collected from manifold unusual sources, this compendium takes in early synth-pop, menacing lo-fi soundtrack work, a stray emigre member of The Flying Pickets, and even an early foray into recording from the members of legendary Ozpunk scamps God. Lurking somewhere between the spirit of John Peel and the world of outsider art, the resulting assemblage is a must-have for chroniclers of the weird and wonderful.
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: Originally released in 1996, Aphex Twin's fifth album in as many years meant business from the very moment the wild and whimsical opener "4" scribbled it way through the speakers. With jaunty jams such as "Cornish Acid" and "Fingerbib" running amok mid-set, Richard D James Album acted as a fine mission statement to expect the unexpected and never anticipate formula or form. And it still carries that very same message today. Essential.
Review: It's rare that an electronic album is the biggest album of the year, or at least the most hyped. That's certainly the case with Syro, Richard D James first official release under his Aphex Twin moniker for some 13 years. So, is it in any good? For starters, it sounds like an Aphex Twin album. Listen through to the 12 tracks, and many of his familiar staples are present - the "Digeridoo" era rave breakbeats, the mangled synth-funk mash-ups, the intoxicating ambient-era melodies, the warped basslines and the skittish drill & bass style rhythms. There's madness, beauty and intensity in spades. In other words, it's an Aphex Twin album, and - as so many have pointed out since the album's release was announced - there's no-one else quite like Richard D James.