Review: International specialists Soundway provide some superbly soothing and cathartic electronic beats here from Reuben Vaun Smith. The debut album follows on from his vocal and production work on
Expositions's Yellow Haze EP early in the year on the First Jams label. The seven tracks that make it up are all different perspectives on chill, with mature musical motifs, seaside sounds and trips down to the beach at sunset all checked off the list. Spare a moment to admire the artwork, too, a seamless fusion of pastel colours, 80s graphic design and tropical escapism.
Review: American composer Rafael Anton Irisarri is a mainstay of the ambient, noise and drone world. He has engineered for plenty of key names, but also turns out exquisite works of his own that show a real dedication to and understanding of his craft. Always at the modern end of the ambient spectrum, he laces oceanic symphonies with tape loops, electric guitar and washes of electronic sound. The result is music laden with layers of emotion and narrative arcs that reveal subtle new details each time. This stylish long player is another fine entry in his perfect discography.
Review: Ninja Tune welcome label debutant Julianna Barwick for a solo album born from imporovisaitozl sessions and endless loops of her own vocals. The LA-based artist has said the album was written during an emotional time and so it all comes from the heart, direct to you, with no real goal, aim or MO, other than making the sounds she feel at the time. "It brought me to tears a little," she has said of the process, and Nosaj Thing, Mary Lattimore and Jonsi al feature across the album's eight cuts of moody and evocative ambient drones. From heavenly and happy to more intense and introspective, it's a perfectly honest work.
Review: The Ninja Tune renaissance has been underway for around a decade now, with the UK imprint, founded by Coldcut way back when, firmly cementing its status in the techno, rave and future bass world post-millennia. So good is the heavier end of the stable output we really needed Julianna Barwick to come along and remind us of the imprint's more delicate moods. Known for her deep compositions that look to celebrate, explore and consider the human voice in its many facets, 'Healing Is A Miracle' is a perfect calling card for the artist in question. Utilising a spine-tingling vocal range, and taking us directly into worlds where sound itself is a form of art, not just when arranged, the record was apparently born from an improvisation session on her looping equipment, which in turn directs the construction of the individual tracks. The serene but complex, minimal but layered and heavily textured work of a synth siren.
Review: Besides his love for giving his releases sequential numerical titles and his ability to whip up some serious moods with minimal ingredients, still little is known about this Buttery Fred but when the music sucks you in as much as this, it's really not a problem. Taking elements of jungle, electro, hip-hop and techno and deconstructing them around super spacious beats, he's created a unique sound in a busy scene. Highlights on this third annual LP collection include the strangely Photekian "Sub Dynastee", the jazzy soul of "Zepta" and the graveyard tip-toeing creepy climax "Phantom". Greasy.
Review: Macintosh Plus is perhaps not the best-known pseudonym of Ramona Andra Xaxier - she's much wider known for her work as Vektroid - but it's certainly one of her most historic. Xavier released an album under the alias way back in 2011 but has done little with the name since. "Sick & Panic", a fresh single-sided salvo pressed to an attractive and eye-catching picture disc, is therefore a more than welcome return. Musically it's a vibrant but fiendishly experimental affair, with Xavier delivering a madcap, 12-minute sound collage rich in glitchy, cut-up samples, Vaporwave synth sounds, fizzing electronics, wild electric guitar solos, tipsy bursts of mind-altering digital noise and occasional leftfield rhythms. It's alluringly odd all told, and thanks to some clever construction the whole thing makes perfect sonic sense.