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: 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: BOOM! Our favourites, Cititrax, roll the third editions of Tracks out onto our shelves, and the results are unsurprisingly strong on this excellent various artists comp. It's a mixed bag of skills, as per usual, and the sounds are those of a new NYC, fuelled by a new sort of post-industrial sensibility. Amato Y Mariana open with the tight beats and groove of "Queires Bailar", followed closely by the ominous compositions of the EBM-flavoured "Montgat" from The Sixteen Steps. On the flip, His Dirty Secrets bleeps out some morphed acid on "Structures", and "Another Stranger" from Further Reductions churns out a slow, mild-mannered house experiment with its roots clearly planted in the coldest of waves. Sick.
Review: There's a delightfully celebratory feel about this debut volume of Cititrax Tracks, a new 12" series from Minimal Wave offshoot Cititrax. As beautifully presented as we've come to expect, Tracks Volume 1 boasts a quartet of dancefloor-ready smashers from a blend of new faces and label stalwarts. Amato (aka The Hacker) kicks things off with the glistening EBM funk of "Physique" - all restless synth refrains and pounding bottom end - before LIES affiliate Tsuzing go all dark, psychedelic and twisted on the thrillingly intense, acid-flecked "King of System". An-I go all DAF (with a touch of Front 242) on the fuzzy and dystopian stomper "Mutter", before Cititrax regulars Broken English Club delivers a storming chunk of industrial-tinged analogue funk ("Glass"). Bravo!
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: Earlier this year Minimal Wave offshoot provided one of this year's most visceral dancefloor weapons in Kino-I, the debut from Doug Lee's new An-I project. Taking inspiration from techno, jack, industrial and punk, An-I successfully drew a line under some of the Berlin-based artist's previous disco-flavoured endeavours. And then some! If you like the Kino-I 12" you will love the new triplet of An-I productions housed on this appropriately titled Gutz 12". The title track alone should come with a health warning; such is the furious onslaught of machine funk it contains, whilst the unnerving "Rut" is the most schizophrenic production you will hear this year. Best of all id closing track "Save Us" sounds like a cross between in Aeternam Vale and Silent Servant. Pressed on a rather thick and dashing slab of magenta orange vinyl!
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: 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: Appleblim teams up with the Middle Eastern label Boogie Box once more for some hybridized explorations on the cutting edge of soundsystem music. "Vurstep" is a wildly psychedelic banger that keeps the rhythms broken while the sound design levels tap into the same delirious vein as his ALSO work with Second Storey. "Dream Wisdom" takes things in a smoother direction, riding on laid back breaks and plush threads of melody in a vintage ambient techno style. Shed steps up to remix "Vurstep" and delivers one of his pointed masterclasses in stripped, UK-leaning techno, and then Forest Drive West trips the whole thing out with a heavily dubbed meditation.
Review: Second time around for Icelandic neo-classical composer Olafur Arnalds' 2018 album "Re:Member". This version, pressed for Record Store Day 2019, boasts a fine bonus 7" containing strings-only re-recordings of three original album tracks ("Saman", "Momentary" and "Nyepi"). These are superb and genuinely compliment the original 12-track set, which was produced using specially created software capable of triggering new musical sequences on "two pianos chained to his primary instrument". This cutting-edge approach, combined with live percussion and the multi-instrumentalist's own considered electronics, resulted in an album that remains thoughtful, mesmerizing and entertaining in equal 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.
Review: Just the fact that the Shahr Farag imprint is from Iran is enough to grab our attention. This is both because it feels like a novelty to the scene, but also because that vast majority of arts that come out of the country are always so interesting. This time, label owners Lenta and Ahu are joined by Romanian minimal expert Vlad Caia, who serves an excellent, Eastern-minded quasi-dance rhythm in "Declination", and a purely abstract barrack of drones and low frequencies on "Neptune". Lenta himself drops a fuzzy wash of sounds and disparate beats through "Your Existence", while Ahu's "Blind By The Sun" has something in common with dub-techno, except that here the sounds that flutter up and down are grainy and imperceptible...and wholly wonderful. Tip!
Review: The well regarded Whities label invites you deep into a darkened world of coldwave soundscapes on its next 12". There are Arabic overtones to Carl Gari's music here, both explicitly in the meditative vocals from Abdullah Miniawy, but also in the exotic synth drones that hang heavy in the air. It makes for a spiritual eight track affair that has a beautifully bleak and spiritual feeling: tracks are largely empty, absorbing affairs with only suggested rhythms moving you forward. Part organic and human, part mechanical and synthetic, Whities 023 is a bewitching and otherworldly listen of the highest order.
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: REPRESS ALERT: Gravity Graffiti has been doing great things with its series of split 12"s already, but now the Italian label goes one better for its tenth release with this mighty double pack of heavy hitters. First up is the ever-untouchable Yoshinori Hayashi, who gets as straight up as he possibly could with the freaky house burner "Dissociative." Telephones is feeling particularly dubbed out and groovy on "Kalimbalimbo", while DB.Source and Riccardo Schiro take things strung out and textural on "Montevago". Dynamo Dreesen is in rave mode for the pepped up and delightfully weird "Reactivate", leaving the final side to Oyvind Morken & Kaman Leung's chugging "Tunnel Visjon" and the rubbery side swipes of Acidboychair's "The End (At Any Speed)".
Review: From Copenhagen with love. After two years of planning, tweaking and fine-tuning, Danish groove monkeys Kasper Marott and Alfredo92 are proud to present their new label Axces. Repping their local crew, the label represents a community of artists including this single's co-producers Carl Emil and Lauge. "Os To" (which translates to 'the two of us') is as cute as it sounds. Dreamy, cosy, unhurried. "Fest Pa Taget" (party on the roof) raises the psychedelic factor a little as unearthly bubbles and chimes spin 360 around a jaunty rolling percussive beat. The start of something exciting and fresh; everyone has access to Axces.
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: Adam Wiltizie and Dustin O'Halloran return to their A Winged Victory For The Sullen project with a complete edition of all their Atomos works for the electrifying Kranky imprint - the best of homes for cutting-edge sonics and scintillating soundscapes. After a preview 12" of "VII" out earlier this year, this full compilation contains all eleven tracks for your listening pleasure. Blissful drones, neo-classical strings and just the right amount of noise paint a rather special picture. Listen to those violins intertwine so majestically with the powerful electronic backdrops of sound. Lovely stuff.