Review: Some seven years after delivering his debut single, The Architect (the production alias of sometime French hip-hop scene stalwart DJ Mongkut) has finally finished his debut album. Inspired by the twin attractions of lazy aftetnoons on the beach and the cosmic potential of space travel, "Une Plage Sur La Lune" (a beach on the moon for those not versed in French) is variously psychedelic, deep, drowsy, hazy and surprisingly funky. It draws on the producers various inspirations - jazz, hip-hop, funk, trip-hop and, to a lesser-extent, reggae - to deliver a suite of vocal and instrumental tracks that recall the classic downtempo works of DJ Cam, Aim, Rae & Christian and Guru's Jazzamatazz project.
Review: Five years on from their last full-length excursion, Darkstar return with "Civic Jams", a socio-politically charged set that Warp says was influenced by two decidedly disparate musical inspirations: the opaque, slowly shfiting sonic density pf shoegaze, and 30 years of the British bass music continuum. In practice, that means a striking fusion of tactile vocals, drowsy electronics, wall-of-sound chords and crunchy, off-kilter rhythms that tip a wink to hip-hop, grime, dubstep, breakbeat and more, while never sounding specifically like any of them. It's not a club-focused set, but it an undeniably impactful one, primarily because its inherent bittersweet beauty and weary melancholia seems in tune with these unusual, claustrophobic times.
Review: 'Mordechai is another blissed-out record from Texan party-chill-psyche trio Khruangbin. It's also among the outfit's most defined and driven, a smooth, sticky hot funk odyssey made for hazy afternoon soirees. Leader Laura Lee is, as ever, unfathomably siren-like on vocals, her bass grooves aiding the process of seduction no end. Even at the most upbeat and anthemic, 'Time (You and I)', it's hard not to feel woozy and intoxicated by the pared-back breaks and guitar lick combination. Dance floor ammo for sure, as is Pelota. Overall, though, it's an album best savoured slowly, allowing you to fully appreciate every lackadaisical moment of opiate goodness, with tracks such as 'Father Bird, Mother Bird', 'One To Remember' and 'Shida' summoning stunning sticky, heavy, deep atmospheres.
Review: It may be his umpteenth studio album, but "Domesticated" feels like Sebastien Tellier's "comeback" set- a feeling enhanced by the genuine sparsity of material from the swooning Frenchman in recent years. He says his aim while recording the set was to create a "new lush, futuristic pop sound", and to a degree he has succeeded. Variously informed by warm ambient, vividly coloured future R&B, downtempo synth-pop, Balearica, '80s synth-pop and the deeper end of the electrofunk spectrum, the resultant songs are immersive, comforting and undeniably warming. While it's perhaps not cutting edge in the way he intended, it's wonderfully polished, slick and entertaining, with Tellier's distinctive drawl remaining the focal point throughout.