Saka Dit The King - "Ody Ody (Tsy Mentsy Mandroso)"
Michael - "Razana Tsy Ho Meloko"
Falafa - "Rapela"
Los Matadores - "Andeha Hanarato"
Nino Rafah - "Oa Niny E"
Kaiamba Orchestra - "Tokatoka"
Atrefy Andriana - "Zaka Tiako Mamolaka Keriko"
Review: It would be fair to say that few of us are familiar with the music of Madagascar, a notably beautiful island in the Indian Ocean whose indigenous culture has rarely registered in Western Europe. Yet as this fine compilation from Strut proves, the nation once boasted a vibrant recording industry whose distinctive sounds blended strong East African influences with more traditional local sounds and the ever-present inspiration of American soul, funk, disco and boogie. "Alefa Madagascar" tells this story through sound by focusing on some of the fuzzy, electrified blends of salegy, soukous and soul popular in the country between 1974 and '84. It does a bang up job, offering up 18 essential cuts that all but the most dusty-fingered crate diggers will never have heard before.
Review: According to Brownswood Recordings, Dayme Arocena took a conscious decision to opt for a more "stripped back" sound on her latest album, which marks her fourth full-length excursion for Gilles Peterson's admirable imprint. That's certainly the impression given by the opening track, "Nangareo", which sees the Cuban singer layer her own spoken and sung vocals over the sounds of lapping waves and moody, elongated synthesizer chords. It offers a striking introduction to an Afro-Cuban jazz set that smartly incorporates elements of both samba and the distinctive drum rhythms associated with her home country (as well as some superb chanted vocals). As a result, "Sonocardiogram" has an ear-pleasing vibrancy that encourages repeat listens.
Review: When bands hit album four, two things can happen - or three. Some suffer from a crisis of creativity, opting to regurgitate or, worse still, stagnate. Others opt for reinvention, with as many getting it right as going well off-piste, alienating faithful fans in the process. The lucky ones, meanwhile, hit the nail on the head with their most accomplished and complete work to date. Consider Frankie Cosmos among the lucky ones, then, not that luck had much to do with it. Recorded in their New York hometown, everything about the record feels comfortable in that there's nothing forced, and yet it engages and grabs from the off. Lilting, lo-fi rock 'n' roll odes to love, life and the genre itself, anyone who's ever wondered what Cate Le Bon might sound like having a pancake breakfast with The Orielles should grab a seat at this table.
Review: Destination San Francisco: Artikal snap-up Saule for his debut EP release. Long-time selector but an emerging producer, he's pushing all the right buttons here. Opener "Zeroes" is all flabby moving subs and shimmering theremin harmonics, "Baro" hits with more of an industrial twang in the percussive textures without losing any sense of warmth, trippiness or weirdness (watch out for the danked-out breakdown, though). The final shots are fired on "Pistola" as things take an even stranger turn; tones melt, drums turn into pistons and the sub wobble is off the chain. From "Zeroes" to heroes - this one is a keeper.
The Heart Of A Man, The Desire Of A Monster (5:06)
Psajcedelic Power (3:17)
X20000 (Open Source) (6:01)
The Dominance Of Blood Worship (7:24)
Review: Swiss minimal electro pranksters Les Points return with another mysterious release under the alias of Elektronische Sequenz Proleten. We aren't exactly sure which members of the collective are responsible for this one, but you can sure bet it's jam packed with more zany retro shenanigans than you can swing a modular at. Early '90s industrial seems to be in the heart of side A, as heard on the muscular stomp of "The Heart Of A Man, The Desire Of A Monster", while the pounding rhythms and stuttered samples of "Psajcedelic Power" call to mind early acts like Front 242 and Frontline Assembly. On the flip, we have two mental and full throttle acid cuts which are not for the faint-hearted.
Review: Don't believe everything you read - the fifth Bat For Lashes album confirms this girl (or woman) found herself musically and thematically some time ago, freeing up creative energy to explore new approaches to deliver her often mournful, always heartfelt songs inspired by personal crises and private longings. On this outing there's more than a hint of 1980s pop evident in the mix. Shades of Prince ("Feel For You"), Madonna ("So Good"), Bowie's Berlin days and electro-era Gary Numan (the stunning, infectious instrumental "Vampires") cast the record in a nostalgia that suits the sense of yearning that always seems to pervade Natasha Khan's work. Simply name-checking reference points is lazy and unfair, though. This is an incredible collection of tracks moulded in the artist's own image - bold, beautiful and instantly captivating. Then again, it would be surprising if anyone had expected anything less.
Review: Throbbing Gristle's second studio album is an essential work that conjures some of the most harsh and nauseating music you can imagine (not a surprise given "Hamburger Lady" is a piece about a patient burned from the waist up and forever contained in a hospital). It was pioneering in texture and technique, and mixes both live and studio recordings into one of the band's most stylistically varied works. Creeping and haunting, confrontational and challenging from front to back, the spoken word samples from children and mutated voices will probably haunt your dreams forever, so listen with caution.
Review: "Say Yes To No" is the debut record from iDEAL Recordings label head Joachim Nordwall, aka the iDEALIST. It is an experimental affair couched in dub but run through with a sense of dread and plenty of noise. Expertly manipulated sound characterises each track - the distant drone of a factory floor, the hum and fizz of machines at work and the lumpy, loopy drums of automation. Fans of Adrian Sherwood's brain frying, punk influenced work are sure to lap up this most dark and dystopian dub exploration, and arresting vocal appearances from John Duncan and Jamaican poet Nazamba only heighten the whole experience.