Review: New to Claremont but certainly not new to composing; Denis Leonvich has been writing for screen for over a decade and has amassed an impressive collection of heavier floor friendly cuts on the likes of National Techno. If these two rather warm and woozy Balearic debuts are anything to go by, his future cosmic output will be just as impressive; "Sunset Sparks" sways with a balmy mysticism with folk singing, an alluring hang drum and hazy pads while "Boma" takes a slightly darker route with psych sinewy arpeggios and a subtle but unforgettable brassy bass texture and sleazy guitar plucks. We look forward to Alterleo's next adventures...
Review: "Salmon Spungcake" was one of the last things Claremont 56 super-group Bison recorded before the sad passing of two of its' founder members, Holger Czukay and Ursula Kloss in the summer of 2017. Two years on from its initial release, Bison members Ben Smith and Paul 'Mudd' Murphy (also label boss) have decided to get it remixed, with original producer Conrad McDonnell (he of Idjut Boys fame) providing two suitably heavy dub disco interpretations, making this the band's first release since the passing of Czukay and Kloss. Check first the spacey A-side hypnotism of the "Zip It Shrimpy Mix", where melancholic chords and spaced-out vocal snippets wrap around a particularly percussive dub disco groove. Arguably even better is the stripped-back, bass-heavy and reverb-rich "I Think I've Got Gout Mix", which sounds like it was tailor-made to manipulate mangled minds at four in the morning.
Review: Bohren and Der Club of Gore has always been one of Germany's most intriguing and out there bands - a group rooted in grindcore and doom metal whose hard-to-pigeonhole output draws on a myriad of intriguing influences outside those intense styles. "Patchouli Blue", their tenth studio set since forming in 1992, is another moody and atmospheric gem: a challenging and experimental set that pits angst-ridden guitar textures against hallucinatory, David Lynch style cinematic sounds, hypnotic electronics and smoky, off-kilter jazz expressions. It's not a great departure from their previous albums, but when your sound is so distinctive - and inspired for that matter - why tear up the (Patchouli) blueprint?
Review: On its initial vinyl and download release late last year, Cherry was proclaimed by critics as being one of Chromatics' strongest albums to date. Given that the Portland band have now released seven acclaimed sets, that's some claim. This first "deluxe" CD edition adds previously unheard cuts and alternative versions, but it's the core set - featured on the first half of the CD - that really sparkles. As you might expect, it's not only full of the atmospheric, slow motion synth-pop with which they made their name, but also a swathe of cuts heavily influenced by the cinematioc soundtrack work Jonny Jewel has been concentrating on since their previous full-length dropped back in 2012. In other words, it's quite possibly Chromatics' most evocative and rounded set to date.
Review: Johnny Jewel's beloved band Chromatics made a lot of people very happy when they returned with this new album back in October. Now pressed to vinyl, Closer To Grey will be familiar to long time fans - it mixes up Italo, indie rock, pop and plenty in between into a lush soundtrack that is of no particular time or place. There is even a bit of trip hop on "Light As A Feather" and "Touch Red" and dalliances with chamber pop on "Move A Mountain." Its the tried and tested sound of Chromatics, then, but with some fresh new influences that only make it all the more essential.
Review: By the time they released "Amplified Heart" in 1994, Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn had spent a decade churning out admired but relatively commercially unsuccessful "lite-jazz" albums. Then, on the back of a string of on-point club remixes (Todd Terry's chart-topping version of "Missing" included), the set surprisingly became a runaway success. To celebrate the album's 25th birthday, "Amplified Heart" has been given the audiophile reissue treatment. It suits the album's gently breezy, emotion-rich feel, with Thorn's evocative, lovelorn vocals perfectly matching Watt's sunset-friendly blend of acoustic guitars, soft-touch double bass, trip-hop style beats and Balearic-minded electronics. It remains one of the duo's greatest albums and should be in every discerning listener's collection.
Review: ** Repress ** Having distinguished themselves with a series of superb retrospective releases highlighting the work of Leon Lowman, Gigi Masin and Joan Biblioni, Amsterdam label Music From Memory deviate from the path somewhat with his long overdue Gaussian Curve album. Ask yourself what would happen when a elderly Venetian who specialises in sublime ambient music spends a weekend holed up in a Redlight district studio with two of his biggest, most musically gifted fans. The superb Clouds is the answer, with 'Young' Marco Sterk and Jonny Nash following Masin's lead on an eight track exercise in sumptuous, calming composition. The wait has truly been worth it.
Review: Say yes! The definitive gossamer Italo floor fuel of Ida No and Johnny Jewel's Glass Candy outfit enjoys an expanded reissue here on sexy lavender vinyl after over a decade out of print. Nothing but synthetic positivity as both the title track and "Drumm" stride with an almost marching feel before "Where Time Sits Still" plunges much deeper into moody new romantic cinematics. Elsewhere other highlights include the slinky poignancy that lingers from every spacious bass pluck on "City Lights" and the trembling ambience and pressurised atmosphere of the finale "Sanctuary". Yes please.
Review: Music From Memory is a new label founded by Redlight Records duo Tako Reyenga and Abel Nagenast and fellow Amsterdam dweller Jamie Tiller and arrives with the mission statement "Giving overlooked and unreleased music that we love a second chance." Whilst there are plenty of labels going down the reissue path with varying degrees of musical integrity, its clear this trio have the best intentions at heart and their debut releases sets the bar truly high. The ocean loving Rhode Island based keyboardist and singer song writer Leon Lowman self released a series of albums in the early 80s dedicated to his hometown and the various women he tried to woo during this period. Executed as lo-fi beach funk and lazy synth jams in a manner that sounds way ahead of it's time, Lowman's work never received the wider acclaim it truly deserves and these albums have become highly sought after curios (check the Discogs listings for his debut LP Syntheseas) Material from both his 1980s albums features on Liquid Diamonds along with unreleased material that Lowman recorded at the time and this 12 track collection is likely to prove very popular with the musical historians out there!
Review: REPRESS ALERT: Emotional Rescue take one final trip into the archives of The New Morning - the Munich-based Afro-cosmic project active in the mid-'90s. This third round of tripped-out dancefloor delights draws on a global panoply of sounds once again, starting in a mystical mood with "Kongo Bina" before firing up the party stove with "Roots & Culture" and slapping down a heavyweight chug on the fierce n' slow "Flatline". There's plenty more fireballs on the B-side, not least the looped-up funk of "Satan (Dub)" and the heavy hitting percussion of "Riddim Of Inari (Tribal Mix)". "Anthems" finishes the final volume of this valuable reissue series on a stirring, melancholic note with powerful choral voices and sentimental melodic refrains - the perfect emotional set closer.
Review: REPRESS ALERT: Ever the educators, Emotional Rescue are now turning their attention to the 90s "Afro-cosmic" scene - a sound that spread through Europe following the influence of Daniele Baldelli and his pioneering DJing in Italy in the late '70s. Munich's The New Morning were amongst the many crews inspired by what Baldelli was championing, and they created incredible, unusual dance music that easily stands up to modern standards for its inventive fusions of global influences and electronic technology. From the heady house throw down "In Japan" to the cosmic dancehall flex of "Jay's Rhama", there's so much to vibe off here, all of it highly compatible with the adventurous sounds creeping into DJ sets in the current era.
Review: REPRESS ALERT: Emotional Rescue continue to explore the fruitful early '90s exploits of The New Morning, a Munich-based crew who took their lead from the Afro-Cosmic scene pioneered in Northern Italy by DJs like Danielle Baldelli and Beppe Loda. On this second installment of spiritually charged, low tempo club killers, you get the chants and percussion of "Riddim Of Inari", tightly looped West African funk of "Mi C'Yaan" and the stunningly evocative "When Will You Come Down?". There's more rolling rhythmic business to be enjoyed on "Picayune" while "Cricket (part II)" amps up the distortion without losing the groove, and then "Ancient Nomads" seals off this volume in style with a slow, hard-slapping beat to get fully entranced too.
Review: REPRESS: Rising Sun Psyche aka Berlin's hugely prolific but somehow rather lowkey Steffen Laschinski hits an amazingly bittersweet spot on his latest offering. It combines post-rave ambient, breakbeats, IDM and deep house into a real trip. "The River Experiment II" is a dreamy opener with gorgeous synths while "Back Home" is backlit with a celestial glow of melody and spoken word snippets that add to the reverie. There's gentle minimalism in "The River Experiment I" and followed by punchy and emotive number "Feel What I Feel" amongst many other highlights.
Review: It's been a while since we last heard from Tosca (three years, in fact), and even longer since they released a record that pricked the consciousness of downtempo dub connoisseurs. Thankfully, Odeon is something of an unlikely return to form. Opening with the atmospheric ambience of "Zur Guten Ambience", Richard Dorfmeister and Rupert Huber move through their entire repertoire of spine-tingling, horizontal sounds. Along the way, they touch on folksy iciness ("What If"), alien dub-house ("Heatwave"), Roxy Music-ish art-pop ("Jayjay"), bluesy dub ("Mexiner") and, most notably at all, post-punk funk-pop ("In My Brain Prinz Eugen"). It is, of course, pretty smooth, but that's all part of their stoned charm.
Review: Entrepot Records is a Brussels based imprint, founded in 2014 by UC Beatz - who some of you may know from his Underluxxe digital label The idea here is simple: to release raw house beats on wax. For their eighth edition the label chez himself takes on duties, with some fine slo-mo house grooves - perfectly suited to late summer nights. The A side features the lo-slung boogie down vibes of "Rainbows", but the real dancefloor burners belong to the flipside. The looped-up disco inferno "Playground" is covered in just the right amount of dust and grit that would make Phil Weeks stand up and notice, while the sultry "Nocturne" is a crafty edit of a fine vintage track that's rather familiar indeed.