Review: Are there two more consistently - and rightfully - fawned over names in electronic music than John Peel and Aphex Twin? A coming together of two giants is always going to be worth hearing and so this second Peel Session recording proves. One of only two radio broadcasts Richard D. James recorded as part of a special set of radio themed vinyl releases from Warp, it's hypnagogic electronic pop meets ambient techno on this instalment with the trademark timbre and tonality of James lighting up each and every track in ways that are somehow both heavenly yet of high physical impact.
Review: Since it was Area that started the Kimochi Sound revolution just under a decade ago, it seems fitting that the publicity-shy artist has delivered the label's first release of a new decade. There are no new Area tracks here though, but rather a quartet of fresh reworks of classic cuts. Natan H kicks off proceedings with a deep, hypnotic, trippy and undeniably wonky revision of "Dare To Be Different", before Leif weighs in with a deliciously melodious, soft-focus revision of picturesque track "The Face Yours Reminds Me Of". Benjamin Brunn takes over on Side B and delivers two contrasting versions on "Effortlessness": the deep, wayward electro-meets-dub house drowsiness of the "Gold Plated Diamonds" mix and the heady ambient techno brilliance of the "Chrome Plated Diamonds" mix.
Review: Second time around for Icelandic neo-classical composer Olafur Arnalds' 2018 album "Re:Member". This version, pressed for Record Store Day 2019, boasts a fine bonus 7" containing strings-only re-recordings of three original album tracks ("Saman", "Momentary" and "Nyepi"). These are superb and genuinely compliment the original 12-track set, which was produced using specially created software capable of triggering new musical sequences on "two pianos chained to his primary instrument". This cutting-edge approach, combined with live percussion and the multi-instrumentalist's own considered electronics, resulted in an album that remains thoughtful, mesmerizing and entertaining in equal measure.
Review: Speak to anyone who lived through them about the glory days of IDM and German producer Arovane (aka Uwe Zahn) is probably one of the first names they will happily reel off. Between the late '90s and his apparent retirement in 2004, Zahn was responsible for birthing a clutch of classic IDM longplayers like Tides and Lillies, the 2004 LP for City Centre Offices that seemed to signal his withdrawl from music. However, the production bug bit him again in 2013 and there has been a steady stream of Arovane output leading up to this Aarlenpeers EP. Issued on the Touchin' Bass label operated by self professed Arovan fan Andrea Parker, these two cuts bristle and pulse with abstracted electronic life in a manner one expects from Zahn. "Il_Eth" is quite epic.
The McDonald's Prayer (Japan Blues regrind) (5:58)
The McDonald's Prayer (Ossia Milkshake mix) (3:19)
Review: Seb Gainsborough and Chester Giles' ASDA project has been one of our highlights over the last couple of years. Through their punky, deranged aesthetic, the duo have given new meanings to the spoken word disposition and, in the process, left the doors wide open for interpretation. The music scene needs that. We need that. It's as if their work has cleansed the air for us and taken our minds back to a time when genres weren't such a big deal; a palette cleanser, if you will! "The McDonald's Prayer" marks their second outing on for No Corner and, much like The Abyss LP, the tune blazes through poetry with disparate shots of bass and sparse percussion stabs. This is all rendered all the more special thanks to a remix from London's Japan Blues, whose remix duties ever since that pair of bruisers for Place No Blame have become household favourites of ours, and he's on form here; a lo-fi slew of bass moulds around hazy claps and peaceful melodies to create a masterful groove. Ossia comes in for the second remix, this time stretching the original out onto some vintage Metalheadz vibes... minus the breaks. Sick.
Review: Floating between their own B12 imprint and the mighty Warp Records, the UK's Michael Golding and Steve Rutter, also known as B12, have been important in the development of the Anglo techno and IDM scenes up to this day. In 2015, after a lengthy hiatus which saw them release their last 12" in 2007, the duo make their return and it's on Slam's legendary Soma imprint. A good British showdown, indeed. "Into The Void" is a pile of broken drum machine twists, while "Descension" leans towards classic electronica patters and 'intelligent' techno routes. On the flipside, "Unsound Mind" clicks and steps its way through eerie pads and heavy slices of kick drums, whereas "Terra Incognita" enters the ambient kingdom, a habitat only mildly populated by percussion. Terrific.
Review: Kris Baha had a big year in 2019 with the release of his debut album on CockTail d'Amore and an EP on Pinkman, and now the Australian body music man in Berlin is back with a high-pressure heater for [Emotional] Especial. "Barely Alive" is the kind of sinewy proto-industrial cut that will appeal to fans of Ministry's earlier work, when the synths reigned supreme and there was pop to match the noir. Especial then call on a cast of remixers to interpret the track in different ways, from Timothy J Fairplay amping up the dystopian disco tropes to Das Ding creating a sleek electro-funk twist with the original's gothic undertones intact.
Review: Having shot into the limelight in 2012 with a 12" on Hessle Audio followed up by an outing on Liberation Technologies, Bandshell has since been on covert operations largely centred around releasing his music himself via Bandcamp. Now he's extended that practice into the B.S.Hell label, providing a physical presence to his wayward experimentation on the fringes of bass music. It's a sound that naturally aligns with the likes of Batu and Laksa, but also defiantly makes its own statement as well. With five tracks of distinctive drum science and textural voodoo to indulge in, this is a welcome return to wax for a thrilling, self-motivated producer.
Review: After initial outings from phile and Ptwiggs, the Deep Seeded crew welcome phile member Barking into the fold for another excursion into crooked techno from the outer realm. There's a lingering sense of industrial malaise emanating out of "Singularity" thanks to some dense signal processing, while "Clay Passage" pings off into a strange but utterly accomplished trip into Fourth World techno that packs a serious rhythm without the need for obvious drum lines. "Pathos" matches malevolent beats and tones with dominant ambience to create a proper push 'n' pull of a track, and then "Prone" rounds the EP off with some gutsy analogue demolition for the broken techno and electro crowd to get wild to.
Review: Second time around for Julianna Barwick and Rafael Anton Irisarri's lauded contribution to the THESIS label's series of collaborative 10-inch singles. The 2017 set has been in high demand since it first appeared in stores, and with a limited number available outside the US for the first time we're expecting it to sell out in double-quick time. Musically, it's one of the most picturesque things that Irissari has been involved in. The untitled opener delivers a near perfect fusion of layered improvised vocals and wispy ambient electronics, while the track that follows brilliantly builds to a crescendo of Tangerine Dream style arpeggio melodies, densely layered textures and acid-esque motifs. The flipside opener is a more softly spun, deep ambient soundscape, while the EP's closing cut is sparkling, spacey and hugely alluring.
Review: Brothers From Different Mothers stalwart Basses Terres is a producer to whom easy categorization cannot be applied. For example, on his 2016 debut, he rushed between a quartet of experimental techno, leftfield and electronica excursions, while 2017's "Counting Pulsations" cassette was a druggy trip rich in ambient, dub and "dungeon synth" flavours. So what's on offer here? More intoxicating, otherworldly concoctions, that's what. Highlights include the dark tropical ambient of "665 Moths", the dubbed-out post-dancehall weightiness of "Wilfred Doricent", the slipped and spacey electronica of "Deliae" and the fluid dreaminess of gently percussive closing cut "Sentiment Oceanique".
Review: Battista, John Swing and EMG's first hook-up under the SPS moniker - the thrillingly hard-to-pigeonhole Sintomi Di Gravita 12" - was arguably one of 2014's most slept-on records. Here they join forces for round two, delivering another two tracks that neatly sidestep the accepted norms of house and techno. A-side "Movimento (Consico Mix)" is a wonky chunk of well-swung, jazz-flecked deep house, smothered in filters and tipsy chords. Flip for the Inconsico Mix of the same track, a brilliantly far-out fusion of odd electronics, glitchy rhythms, shimmering synths and bubbling found sounds. It's hardly dancefloor-centric, but it's certainly really, really good.
Review: Michigan producer John Beltran is a master of atmosphere and emotion. His ambient has been used for countless seminal TV shows, he's been cited as an inspiration to Four Tet and has put out key albums on labels like Delsin and Peacefrog. Here he is in a distinctively club-focussed mood, but the synths still very much speak to your heart. "The Lake" is pure Motor City techno soul, and the ambient reprise allows you to wallow in his pads even more. "Twilight" then bustles with shimmering metal hits while pixelated keys drift about like a million fire flies in a warm night sky. Lush.
Review: Tucked away in his Peak District hideaway, Jack Lever has been laying down sumptuous fusions of dusty ambience and lo-fi electronica for some time now. He first rose to prominence via a fine 12" on Apollo in 2013, before heading back to Derbyshire to self-release music from the archives on cassette and download. This return to wax is well worth a listen, if only for the drowsy, 6AM ambience of "Convair", which wraps shortwave radio crackle and yearning chord progressions around gentle acoustic guitars. "Torches" is a blissful and dusty outsider house shuffler, while lead cut "Roads" is a terrific, dancefloor-tempo trip-hop head-nodder rich in distorted guitars, cascading instrument solos and beefy dub disco bass.
Review: Analogue synthesizer enthusiast Bezier first surfaced on Dark Entries in 2012, delivering the hard-wired retro-futurist fantasy Ensconced. Two years on, he's finally ready to release the follow-up, the similarly sharp and sci-fi themed Telemores. As with his previous output, the influences are obvious - think Radiophonic Workshop, electro, minimal, new wave and Italo-disco - but he smartly steers clear of pastiche and empty revivalism. Instead, we're treated to a range of dancefloor-friendly instrumental cuts, cyborg jams, and intoxicating robot rinse-outs. Closer "Fukushima", in which he doffs a cap to the synthesized horror-disco of John Carpenter, is particularly potent.
Review: German producer Bhed takes charge of the ninth EP on the vital Trusik label. His mastery of ambient, dub, techno depths and bass weight are all present and correct here, never more so than on the fantastic opener "Eighteenhundred". Taking up the whole of one side of wax, it is more than deserving of that indulgence as it slowly trips through floating pads, icy hi hats and supple rhythms that soothe the mind, body and soul. "Apatheia" is a more edgy track which is just as cavernous but has you looking over your shoulder, and closing cut "East" is a pure and dreamy dub beauty.