Review: DJ Central presents three new aliases on this elegantly put together 12". Conjuring up the perfect recipe for a DJ Cake, Central blends and explores the likes of pulsating atmospheric techno on the track "Balast", smoothly escalating breaks on "Ko Ko Dak Dak" and hazy crackling ambient on the finale "Daeksel". Unique, inspiring and truly excellent works from the one they call DJ Central.
Review: Although the Lovers Rock label run by Daniel Martin McCormick - better known as Ital - has previously been an output for his own music, this year see the label expand operations with records from other artists. Although a future collaborative 12? between Ital and Mutual Dreaming's Aurora Halal has also been promised, the label first looks to the music of Earthen Sea, the musical project of San Francisco artist Jacob Long, who previously performed alongside Martin-McCormick as part of Mi Ami. Although Long played bass as part of Mi Ami, the Earthen Sea project - which has released a number of cassettes since 2003 - sees him utilise various electronic textures to create his own immersive style of ambient music, which takes both a rhythmic and beatless approach incorporating elements of dub techno, drone and minimalist composition.
Review: Early in the year, forthright lo-fi techno experimentalist Delroy Edwards released an eccentric, 22-track, download-only album called Rio Grande. Here, he makes some of the highlights of that set available on vinyl for the very first time. It's an intriguing and largely enjoyable affair throughout, with the sometime L.I.E.S man following the glassy-eyed, recorded-from-the-radio Balearic warmth of "When I Think" with the stripped-back, noise-laden jack-track "Sugar Shack". These kinds of juxtapositions continue throughout, as Edwards flits between sweet and tactile downtempo doodles (see "Rio Grande"), clattering proto jack-tracks ("Let It Rock!") and hissing 1980s deep house bliss (the woozy brilliance of EP closer "Wild Illusions").
Review: Felix K's Hidden Hawaii is now a staple of Berlin-style techno, but describing it as such doesn't really do the label its full justice. That's because this isn't just another bunch of relentless club tracks; instead, the label has always been careful to release material that is prone to opening one's mind and allowing the techno genre to broaden its general outlook. This year, Felix K himself, alongside frequent associate DB1, have been focussing heavily on their latest Elemnt moniker, and this new EP is the latest iteration of this project. Split from 1-4, each mix of "Water" offers something that's just out of reach, a blend of morphing, techno-reminiscent sounds that never quite manage to take a full shape, or dissolve into straight-edged dance music. The hollowness, and the kinetic energy within that, is what we've always loved about this fine imprint, and we urge you to find that same piece of inspiration.
Review: Yu Asaeda's been putting out a whole range of quality, bass-centric sounds under the name ENA since the late 2000s, but these have come out on a rather sporadic basis. Appearances for the infamous 7even Recordings was followed by material on Samurai Horo, the excellent Hidden Hawaii and, more recently, the Samurai label's offshoot, Horo. Divided: Body is so much more than a mere 'bass' EP, and it actually manages to veer off into some pretty strange and imperceptible sounds that remind us of the material emanating from the PAN consortium. For instance, the opening "11th Divided" manages to create a raw, loose groove out of fractured synth sounds, which is followed up nicely by the swarming drones operating in the higher ends of "12th Divided". Over on the flip, "13th Divided" launches a subtle yet hefty groove made up of what sound like bass pops made from a monophonic synth, which leaves "14th Divided" to linger in its dreary pool of fuzzy drones and washed-up sonics. A massive, merited TIP!
Review: As part of Mura Oka, Louis Vial has already been spotted on the excellent Latency label as well as delivering a solo EP to Collapsing Market earlier this year. He once again dons his Eszaid cape on this release for the equally fine Meandyou stable, tapping into the labels predilection for obscure variations on the fringes of house and techno. "777,7" is especially captivating in its insistent cyclical minimalism, drilling straight for the subconscious, while "Eyeless Mannekin" sets adrift in aqueous climes for a proper floatation tank dub techno immersion. Using subtlety as a powerful tool, Eszaid ably matches up to the quality that has come before on Meandyou.
Young Person's Guide To The Orchestra, Op 34 (17:12)
Review: This recording of the Philadelphia Orchestra performing Sergei Prokofiev's 1936 story and orchestral score Peter and the Wolf was recorded in 1977 and was originally released in 1978. The role of the narrator on the recording was initially offered to both Peter Ustinov and Alec Guinness who both turned it down, before David Bowie agreed to take on the role, supposedly as a Christmas present to his son. On the B-side is another equally as charming piece of recent classical history, Benjamin Britten's Young Person's Guide To The Orchestra as narrated by Hugh Downs.
Review: If there's one collaboration that we have bowed down to over the last few years, it's most certainly this new found friendship between London's Kevin Martin aka The Bug, and American doom metal guitarists, Earth. One wouldn't immediately make the connection between inner-city future-grime music and suburban stoner rock, but the two styles were in perfect unison, and this is because they're both fascinated with dark, looming clouds of bass. Whether that's through virtual synths or badass bass guitars, it doesn't matter, because the mood is mightily present. Concrete Desert is the alliance's debut LP, and it's all guns blazing from start to finish; tunes like "Snakes vs Rats" or "Metal Drone" represent exactly the sort of freshen-up that each respective act needed - on the one hand, The Bug could have done with some more external influences to the melodic constructions, while Earth needed a new framework to enter the minds of a new, European audience. We've dubbed this style 'metal drone', and we're pretty sure that it's gonna stick after you've played it out for a few minutes. A blinding collab, right here.
Review: Electric Capablanca is a mystery artistic outfit who, on this evidence, are lovers of pastoral landscapes, innocent lullabies and day dreaming. This collection is a spellbinding one with clean, crisp synths and distant pads, soft focus arps and, in some cases, gentle IDM patterns all washing over you time and again. The music here is too detailed and meaningfully structured to be classed as ambient: it demands close attention and rewards it in kind, either with soul soothing and diffusive moods or more edgy drone tracks, amongst a range of other immersive styles.
Review: It's hard to keep accurate tabs on Dark Entries this year, such is the rate at which the West Coast label is reissuing material and the range of music covered. This latest archival endeavour finds Josh Cheon's label once again tapping from the sizeable well marked Tom Ellard/Severed Heads, having previously reissued the Australian band's classic Dead Eyes Opened. This an altogether rarer proposition however, with 80s Cheesecake a rather special reissue of solo material Ellard committed to tape in the early '80s, specifically the self release 80s Cheesecake and Snappy Carrion. Some of the material has been collected for reissue before, most notably on Vinyl-On-Demand's exhaustive Adenoids 1977-1985 boxset, but this Dark Entries edition presents a more affordable insight into some music that still sounds way ahead of it's time some 30 years on.
Review: As one of the founding fathers of the ambient scene, any new beat-less missive from Brian Eno should be considered essential listening. It's years, though, since the ambient pioneer has put out something quite as mesmerizing as Reflection. As critics have pointed out, the single-track structure - think 54 minutes of mostly meditative bliss, with occasional darker moments, built around chiming notes that slowly shift and change shape as the piece progresses - recalls 1985's brilliant Thursday Afternoon. It feels more minimalist in outlook than other recent Eno projects, with the "generative" nature of the music (supplemented by an app that rearranges the music depending on the time of day you listen) recalling the musician's early academic approach. Either way, it's uttering beguiling.
Review: New York-based Eve Essex is something of an artistic whirlwind. She's a classically trained bassoonist, a successful sculptor and a member of a number of musical groups, so it's perhaps surprising that she's found time to record this intriguing debut album. It's an imaginative and notably left-of-centre affair, with Essex serving up a mixture of dystopian ambient pop (see fabulous opener "Grind Away" and the drowsy "Satisfaction Theories"), expressive free-jazz ("Immediate Communicator") and chiming "Fourth World" explorations ("Life of Service", "Hear Appear"). While there are plenty of purely instrumental cuts, it's generally those featuring Essex's distinctive vocals that stand out.
Review: A stirring musical translation of Georges Bataille's 1941 novel Mademe Edwarda, composer Mirco Magnani paints 11 stark chapters that range from modern classical to more abstract electronica, each one tessellating with the last. We're ghosted through history as Ernesto Tomasini adds spectral layers of stirring falsetto textures. Taking lines and passages from the book, there's a timeless, supernatural quality that's both alarming and arresting. A genuinely unique concept.
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