Review: After kicking things off with the killer "Mariachi Guadalajara" by Lewski, Or:la's Cead label returns with another emergent talent, Blu Terra. The Warsaw based producer comes on strong for this breakthrough release with the heavy slapping, sound design-enhanced electro of "Person Sans". Even if the opening track felt detailed, it's superseded by the barrage of information spilling out of crafty, distinctive acid monster "20,000". "Western/Eastern" spreads across the B-side in a nervous twitch of rave energy geared towards big dark spaces, perfect for that spine-tingling part of the night when the real world feels very far away indeed.
Review: BBE continue to explore the little-known catalogue of Ghanaian athlete-turned-musician Sidiku Buari, whose West African style takes on disco and boogie made him a surprise star on the New York underground in the late 1970s. Here they offer up a fresh pressing of "Disco Soccer", a brilliantly vibrant and over-the-top set of NYC disco floor-fillers that's been stretched out across two slabs of wax (the original album was a single LP) to ensure a more dancefloor-friendly cut. Highlights include the bass-heavy, Moog-laden hustle of "I'm Ready", the Patrick Adams-esque brilliance of "Hard Times", the intoxicating, high-octane thrills of "African Hustle" and the pitched-down sweetness of "Games We Used To Play".
What Shall I Tell My Children Who Are Black (Dr Margaret Burroughs) (3:20)
We Are Starzz (4:25)
Capetown (feat Asher Simiso Gamedze) (15:22)
The Oracle (5:38)
Review: Since turning up in the Windy city a few years ago, spiritual jazz singer, clarinetist and composer Angel Bat Dawid has become a stalwart of Chicago's vibrant avant-garde scene. Here he delivers a debut album that should, if there's any justice at least, propel her towards international superstardom. Both her melancholic clarinet lines and distinctive singing feature prominently throughout, alongside sparse percussion, occasional Afro-futurist synthesizer motifs, harp and guitars - all of which Dawid plays herself. It's a virtuoso display that more than confirms her status as one of the spiritual jazz scene's most authentic voices.
Review: Midnight Shift continues its fine run of form via a mini-album of bleak intensity from renowned modular electro/analogue rave fusionist Umwelt, an artist whose distinctive releases are always worth a listen. The French producer sets his stall out via title track "Superior Life Forms", an undeniably heavy and distinctively dystopian chunk of broken electro fuzziness, before reaching for even grimier electronics and gut-punching bass on "Computer Controlled". "Latent Existence" is a moody, beat-free soundtrack for urban decay, "Fragment" and closer "The Windfall" are teak-tough industrial techno stompers, while "Shadow Entity" is a suitably psychedelic slab of trippy acid electro. Not for those of a fragile disposition, but impressively intense and forthright nonetheless.
Review: Shahr Farang continues to blossom as a label, primarily as a vessel for the work of Sohrab Karimi and Rasul Gafarov, better known as Ahu and Lenta respectively. On this occasion, Ahu and Lenta have teamed up to present some intriguing clippings from two separate improvised studio jams. As is customary with the label, the primary mode of expression is minimal techno shrouded in hazy textures and atmospheric matter, but it veers more towards the kind of clicks and cuts you'd expect from a classic Scape record than anything geared towards the dancefloor. The steady tick of a 4/4 kick means this music isn't necessarily consigned to the headphones though - the right kind of warm up slot or backroom could be just the place to melt into these delicate productions.
Review: Under the Special Request alias, Paul Woolford has released some stellar music this year. Astonishingly, "Offworld" is his third album of 2019; it could well be the best, too. It explores different sonic territory too, drawing heavily on electro, futurist Detroit techno, Boards of Canada style IDM and the slick 1980s productions of Jam and Lewis. The result is a stunningly beautiful, spacey and far-sighted set that contains some of Woolford's most emotion-rich work to date - and that's saying something. It also finishes in stunning style with an impeccable remix/re-make of the Grid's "Floatation" that sounds like the best early 90s Orb remix you've never heard.
Review: An essential addition to any dub lover's racks, this new Pressure Sounds collection spans the career of venerated Jamaican Bunny "Striker" Lee from the late 70s to mid-eighties. Across two heavy slabs of wax it takes on rarities such as The Paragons' obscure "A Place Called Zion", as well as more notable classics (Don Carlos & Papa Tullo's "Lazer Beam (Nuff Stylee)) and some nicely extended 12" mixes featuring DJ verses by Devon Edwards, Simple Simon and others that showcase the excitement, experimentation and raw energy of this transformative period of Jamaican music. Well worth a pickup for new listeners and those already familiar with Mr. Lee's transformative rub a dub work.
Review: Three years on from his last outing on the label, Pessimist (real name Kristian Jabs) returns to UVB-76 with more heady fusions of techno and UK bass. He opens with a bang via the clandestine, claustrophobic and paranoid tribal techno-meets-experimental D&B insanity of "Burundanga", before creeping us out via the foreboding sub bass, horror soundtrack chords and analogue pulses of "Lithosphere". There's more end-of-days fodder on side B, where Simon Shreeve offers a dystopian, dub techno-meets-deep dubstep revision of "Paian" and Jabs unfurls the gritty analogue scariness of post-apocalyptic dancefloor number "Thug".
Paxton Fettel - "I'd Like To Know You Better" (5:50)
Kristy Harper - "Uncle Jungle" (5:27)
Manakinz - "Robopubez (Rust In Peace)" (6:59)
Maxime Alexander - "BSA Freestyle #1" (feat $hakes) (5:01)
Review: London-based Ben Gomori is back with the fourth installment of "Dialogues" on his Monologues imprint. It's another various artists affair featuring four choice cuts that pursue all things deep, emotive and sensual. Copenhagen's Paxton Fettel kicks off proceedings with some boompty and disco-fied vocal business on the loopy "I'd Like To Know You Better", followed by the smoky late night groove by Kristy Harper's "Uncle Jungle" featuring some infectious roaring diva vocals. On the flip, go deeper into the night on the sweltering and hypnotic vibes of Manakinz' "Robopubez (Rust In Peace)" where Sub Club resident Harri collaborate with his bud Max, and finally Maxime Alexander reps South Africa on the sultry mood music of "BSA Freestyle #1" with $hakes on the mic.
Review: There is lots to love about this one, from the tongue-in-cheek BBC moniker assumed by Bovell Brown and Cobby, to the unapologetic title, and of course on to the music. "Quality Weed" is a deep cut, heavy rolling rhythm with pitched down vocals that perfectly match the stoner mood. A noodling top line invites you to follow it to a higher state of consciousness and the warmth of the bass is truly irresistible. The remix on the flip is more upbeat and funkier thanks to the tight bass riff that rumbles away under the more house leaning drums.
Review: Just under 12 months ago, French imprint Arpege launched with a multi-artist EP rich in far-sighted and futuristic takes on tech-house. For the follow-up they've decided to flip the script, instead offering up a quartet of electro-focused cuts. The headline attraction comes from British electro titan Carl Finlow, whose "Fmseq" is a spacey and melodious mixture of body-popping beats, throbbing bass, lilting lead lines and sparkling chords. There's plenty to set the pulse racing elsewhere across the EP though, from the heady deep space bleeps and hybrid electro/tech-house grooves of Harry Wills' "Estren", to the drowsy electronic warmth, bubbly acid bass and skittish beats of A2's "Plonk".
Review: A new album from Sam Shepherd AKA Floating Points is always cause for celebration, but even by his standards "Crush" is rather special. Largely eschewing the ambient jazz soundscape shuffle of 2017's "Reflections - Mojave Desert", it sees the Shepherd showcase his musical dexterity in stunning fashion via cuts that wrap shimmering neo-classical strings around what sound like modular electronics and rhythms that variously touch on broken beat, off-kilter experimental D&B and Autechre-style IDM. Of course there are ambient and experimental soundscapes showcased, but it's the fact that the album contains a swathe of formidably dancefloor-focused cuts in the style that first made him standout that pleases us most. Highlights include recent single "LesAlpx", the dreamy "Anasickmodular" and the "People's Potential" style deep house intricacy of "Last Bloom".
Review: In 2016 the Olympians - an all-star soul combo featuring members of The Dap-Kings, The Expressions and the Menahan Street Band - landed on Daptone with a fine debut album. Three years on, the Toby Pazner helmed group returns to action with a brand new "45". A-side "Midnight Movement" is a particularly sweet and ear-pleasing affair, with the band layering sweeping strings and lilting horn parts over a jaunty, piano-dominated instrumental soul groove. Over on side B, "Stand Tall" is a sharper, punchier and slightly funkier affair, with the band's fuzzy horns and fluttering flute solos rising above a Blaxploitation era-influenced backing track.
Review: Three years after delivering a stunning debut album that cemented their position as this century's finest fusionists of Middle Eastern music and analogue electronic music, Acid Arab return with a sophomore set that's every bit as impressive. The basic ingredients remain the same - think Arabic vocals, instrumentation and percussion mixed with heavy drum machine rhythms, raw electronics and mind-altering TB-303 motifs - though the resultant tracks arguably draw on a wider range of electronic music influences. So as well as nods towards acid house and techno, the album also contains throbbing, dancefloor-centric workouts informed by EBM, Italo-disco, new wave, synth-pop and industrial. It's a subtle switch-up, but one wholly in keeping with the French quartet's distinctive vision.
Review: Melbourne producer Hysteric is becoming a go-to man for those looking for killer re-edits of obscure, left-of-centre Italo-disco and synth-pop oddities. Here he serves up a fresh batch of reworked gems for new label Fuego International, following inspired outings on Bordello A Parigi and Public Possession. The title track is a steamy, exotic Italo-disco gem blessed with electrofunk flourishes and AOR disco guitars, while "Discotheek De Marathon" is a throbbing, synth-heavy chugger that makes great use of extended drum solos and synthesized cowbells. Flip for the sweet, Afro-Italo fusion of "Pescara Beach", and the pitched down, electro-influenced new wave shuffle of "Southend Pier".
Tony Grey & The Ozimba Messengers - "You Are The One" (7:22)
Sonny Okosuns - "Oba Erediauwa I" (6:20)
The Wings - "Single Boy" (4:02)
Geraldo Pino - "Power To The People" (5:43)
Original Wings - "Igba Alusi" (7:03)
Don Bruce & The Angels - "Sugar Baby" (6:32)
Geraldo Pino - "Africans Must Unite" (5:51)
Review: Back in 2017, Soul Jazz offered up a superb box set of seven 7" singles featuring a wealth of 1970s Nigerian afro-rock, afro-funk and afro-disco. Since then the box has been changing hands for significant sums online, so they've bowed to pressure and decided to reissue it as a gatefold double album. It features the same combination of tracks from the likes of Geraldo Pino, Tony Grey, The Wings and MFB, though this time they've been included in a different order. For those interested in raw, raucous and life-affirming Nigerian dance music from the period, it should be an essential purchase (providing, of course, they don't already own the previous box set).
Review: Third time's the charm. Low Bias parallel project Dream Cycle returns to the ever-comfortable Sneaker Social with the next part of their annual series. Once again it's a barrage of two-step delights ranging from dank and mystic to deep and dreamy. "Told You" kicks off proceedings on a serious London bumpy flex, all sassy vocal snippets and a steam roller sub line. "Long Time" follows and takes us down a much deeper, contemplative path that's almost Detroit in its mood with those lush pads and spirited piano lines. Deeper again we strike the more technoid twangs of "Sensa" before "Untitled Dream" closes the EP on the deepest, wooziest tip of the EP, all downbeat, trippy and far too addictive for its own good. The Cycle continues.
Review: Having previously only appeared on WotNot Music in the past couple of years, K15 now slides over to Wild Oats to deliver a wholly appropriate slab of fluttering house romanticism rich in Detroit dreams and Chicago cheekiness, wherever the music might have been conceived. The cheekiness is no doubt most noticeable on "GWRH" with its homage to "Gypsy Woman", turning it into a fluttering Latino house jam, but before that comes the plush bump n rub of "The Story Of Her Life". "Insecurities" gets into a sexier kind of deep house funk, which "Gratitude" dutifully carries on until "Yellow" can round the record out with some largely beatless piano business.
Review: Almost five years has passed since now legendary Japanese producer Susumu Yokota passed away. Lo Recordings, who worked with the experimental electronica, techno and ambient artist over a number of years, have decided to mark the occasion by releasing a posthumous album made up of recently discovered - and previously unreleased - Yokota recordings made around the same time as 2002 set "The Boy and the Tree". While there has been a little post-production work by label founder Jon Tye, those familiar with Yokota's work wouldn't be able to tell. Otherworldly, imaginative and hugely emotional in tone, the ten included tracks flit between neo-classical inspired Japanese minimalism, pastoral soundscapes, gentle new age aural dreams and the kind of hushed, life-affirming ambient works that were once Yokota's trademark.
Review: In 2017, Jaimie Branch emerged from Chicago's spiritual and experimental jazz underground with a debut album of rare inventiveness. Two years on, the avant-garde, improvisational trumpeter is finally ready to offer up a sequel, "Fly Or Die II: Bird Dogs Of Paradise". It sees Branch wrap distinctive trumpet refrains - some played in a traditional manner, others mutilated by effects units - around a myriad of off-kilter and improvised backing tracks. While much of the instrumentation is from the jazz playbook, a number of tracks make great use of xylophone, mbira and other exotic but melodic percussion instruments. The album's standout moment, "Prayer For Amerikkka (Part 1 & 2)" sees her go even further, with vocalists and beat poets narrating a politically charged, future spiritual jazz anthem.
Review: There are no prizes for guessing the sort of music that defines Rave Or Die. Next up with some dynamite club tracks are Stranger and Umwelt, who take one side each of this new marbled 10". Stranger's "Motief" is a techno crescendo that builds on hard hitting techno drums. The urgent synths and increasingly brash hi hats work you into a manic state that is all consuming. Umwelt then gets even more abrasive with caustic synths and retro rave stabs, slapping metallic hits and pounding broken kick drums all forcing you to move on "Shut Up & Dance". This is truly arresting stuff once again from Rave Or Die.
Worship Me In The Sanctuary Of Transcendence (4:35)
Rodrigo Syntese System (6:48)
Ingesloten In Een Museum (8:04)
Norwegian Raven (part 1) (18:55)
Norwegian Raven (part 2) (19:29)
Review: For those who missed the memo, Occult Oriented Crime is one of several hundred alter egos occasionally used by Legowelt man Danny Wolfers. He first donned the pseudonym in 2014 for "The Occult Orientated Crime Album", a stunning but previously digital-only outing that has finally made it to vinyl for the very first time. From start to finish, the set prioritizes mood and atmosphere over club-focused rhythms, with Wolfers offering up a range of evocative, heavily electronic ambient soundscapes. While some cuts sound like Radiophonic Workshop doodles or Pete Namlook style immersive synth-scapes, others wrap delay-laden pianos around a whisper of electronic texture; throughout, Wolfers proves a masterful maker of meditative ambient bliss.
Review: Over the course of her three year solo career, London-based Australian Carla Dal Forno has steadily moved from a dark, stylish and bleak all-electronic sound to something a little warmer and more organic in tone. On "Look Up Sharp", her third album, she continues this trend, complimenting her usual lo-fi drum machines and synths with low-slung post-punk bass and the kind of pastoral, traditional instrumentation more often associated with folk music (think flutes, recorders, clarinet etc.). It's a curious blend, but one that works wonderfully well throughout the album, and especially on those songs to which she adds evocative, often melancholic vocals.
Review: The crew behind the Clut label has put together a fine debut EP here. It offers up a quartet of cuts from techno and electro producers renowned for the warm, melodious and emotive nature of their sound. To our ears, the best track comes from Riccardo Rizza, whose EP-closing "Mars" is a fine fusion of rolling tech-funk grooves, spacey chords and life-affirming, B12 style melodies. That said, John Shima's similarly-minded - and arguably even more positive - "Circulate" pushes it close, while Odracir's analogue bass-propelled bleep-out "Set" and Alec Falconer and Rob Amboule's wonderfully deep "Clarkspin" push it mighty close.
Review: Originally a white label promo, Mark Knight and Co. are finally letting this one out of the bag. A seriously classy and infectious record from the new UK duo Cashio, "Dancing (With Me)" is a record that's had everyone talking, including some of the worlds top DJs like Annie Mac and Danny Howard to name but a few. A proper, disco-fied funky house anthem (with infectious vocals) that harks back to the glory days of the late '90s popularised by Def Mix, Subliminal and Soulfuric et al - is this a comeback? With the Toolroom crew heading to ADE at the end of the month, we're sure this one will bang the party there, until the later part of 2019 and beyond!
Review: For their fifth release, Japanese label Eureka! presents Pablo Valentino: founder of Faces Records (with Motor City Drum Ensemble) for the "Space Tribe" EP. Kicking off proceedings is Berlin-based Kazuki Yamaguchi on the Detroit Beatdown influenced "Bananas" on which you'll hear the pair emanate plenty of soul and emotion, followed by the blunted urban blues of "Inspiracao" where Valentino goes into a wonderful downbeat hip-hop state of mind. On the flip is the EP's most poignant moment brought by the evocative and bittersweet mood music of the title track featuring British producer Simbad - this one goes ultra deep and we love every minute of it!
Review: Adam Monti aka ADMNTi heads up 4Plae Records out of London and joins Casey Spillman (who just debuted on Infuse) for his label's fifth release. Monti opens with the hypnotic, bass-driven and swing-fuelled loops of "0207", a sublime groove reminiscent of iO (Mulen) or Jack Wickham, while Spillman's contribution comes in the form of the very UK influenced bounce of "Juice Appeal". This takes the best of 2-step and garage (and even the mandatory "rewind") to create a sexy serving of late night mood music. On the flip they flip the script, with both artists remixing each other's track and for what it's worth we reckon it's all about Spillman's remix of Monti's - tough rolling and functional tech house that's aimed squarely at the main room at peak time!