Review: If you enjoyed Yu Su's brilliant EP on Second Circle earlier in the year - and, let's face it, who didn't? - there's a rather high chance that you'll enjoy her first outing on Ninja Tune offshoot Technicolour. "Watermelon Woman" is a superb chunk of bass-heavy house music positive - an inventive and hugely enjoyable fusion of unfussy drum machine rhythms, sampled tribal drums, toasty bass, dubbed-out effects, stargazing electronics, fluttering flutes and jazzy motifs that have just the right amount of breezy Latin flavour. The original version comes backed with a hazy and laidback Dub rework and a boisterous, off-kilter remix by Francis Inferno Orchestra that layers rubbery sounds and heady vocal samples above a skewed tribal house beat.
Review: Before becoming Belgian new beat and techno titans, Praga Khan and Chris Inger were collaborators in a new wave influenced band called Shakti. "Verboden Dromen" gathers together the best of the outfit's work recorded between 1987 and 1990, offering up tracks that join the dots between intoxicating synth-pop, moody new wave, hypnotic grooves and dark and sleazy dancefloor moments. All of the tracks have stood the test of time remarkably well, with highlights including the humid and exotic chug of "Kamasutra", the hallucination-inducing tropical fever of "Demonic Forces" and "Shanah", and the bustling, club-ready bounce of "The Awakening", which sounds like the Thompson Twins after one too many tabs of acid.
Review: Once a student of Terry Riley, the sadly departed Joanna Brouk excelled at making effortlessly atmospheric and intensely beautiful music that sat somewhere between ambient, new age and hypnotic American Minimalism pioneered by her college mentor. Many of her albums have previously been hard to come by, so it's fantastic to see "The Space Between", arguably her single finest set, finally get reissued. It's thoroughly magical: a wonderful mixture of twinkling piano lines, exotic Indian instrumentation, chiming melodies and just the right amount of reverb. The epic A-side title track is the standout, though the shorter pieces on the flip are also rather lovely.
Review: Silent Season's mainstay artist Segue returns with a new album, following up on the well-received immersion of his 2016 LP "Over The Mountains" with further explorations in the hinterland between dub techno, ambient and a more pastoral kind of palette. It's a field he's well versed in, and one that typifies Silent Season's approach as well, but there's plenty of fresh ideas to latch onto here as Segue weaves gorgeous threads of melody around tactile, mossy beds of sound and understated grooves that carry you to far away, inviting places. Even the more pronounced dub techno stylings of "Mirage", for example, sound vibrant and invigorating in Segue's hands - another sterling album from an accomplished producer.
Review: Veteran Toronto-based producer Gregory de Rocher's career spans over 20 years, where he has released on the likes of City Centre Offices, Ersatz Audio and his own Suction Records - which he co-founded in 1997 with like-minded producer Jason Amm (aka Solvent). They present a collection of salvaged tape recordings from 1996 under de Rocher's lesser known Pest(e) moniker. A fascinating assortment of analogue electronics originally intended as a demo, it was at one point almost released on seminal UK label Skam but de Rocher ended up releasing it himself under the Lowfish alias - this being his debut album under the moniker. He uses broad strokes to paint a picture across the various tracks: from the jungle reductions of "Sieve", cosmic electro of "Agamemnon", to the evocative IDM trip of "Polychromerats" and hypnotic drone piece "Lungs Of The Clock".
Review: For their latest must-check full length, Swiss ambient and jazz enthusiasts WRWTFWW have offered up a timely reissue of Satoshi Ashikawa's previously Japan-only 1982 album "Still Way". In some quarters it's considered a triumph of Japanese minimalism - an ambient set that was equally as inspired by Erik Satie as Brian Eno. The sounds are sparse, atmospheric and alluring, with simple harp, vibraphone, piano and flute motifs taking it in turns to rise and fall across the soundspace. It's intricate, soft-focus and hugely poignant, evoking memories of similarly lauded sets by Ashikawa's countrymen Hiroshi Yoshimura and Midori Takada. In other words, it's sublime.
Review: Riccardo Mazza, more commonly working as RM these days, last appeared on iDEAL Recordings back in 2016 with the "Unfit" LP. Since then he's been spotted on Yerevan Tapes, but now makes a strong return to the Swedish experimental behemoth with some fiercely individual electronica that pivots from a braindance attitude into more challenging tonal fare on the turn of a dime. It makes for an exciting listen, where beatless excursions weave and slide between dynamically programmed drum machine workouts. Mazza's style is exuberant and expressive even as it skirts on the outer realms of electronic music, making for a record you could happily return to for repeat trips.
Review: Earthen Sea adds to the Kimochi Sound with a soulful examination of indistinct margins, suffused with dusky haze. It's a heady atmosphere and has a palpable heaviness throughout. Starting the record are the concrete reverberations of You Don't Never Know, followed by the murky ebb and flow of Fly. 13 Beat(less) is diffused ambience.
Shielding fittingly closes the record, and weaves Earthen Sea's many textures with intricate syncopation.
Review: Tabernacle turn their attention towards the industrial side of their musical repertoire with this hard-hitting release from Russian and French outfit UVB76. Hot on the heels of their S A N album on Teenage Menopause, this formidable duo serve up a searing blend of classic EBM pressure and contemporary flair, veering from the Skinny Puppy-esque stomp of "Extend" to the bruising Vex'd-tinted dubstep flex of "Ckahep". "Rust" locks into a jagged, darkside techno rut, while "Helm" gets artful with space and noise sculpture. "Citizen" offers the most measured track on the release, an uneasily submerged kind of electro noir for tortured souls.
Review: After years spent offering up impressive blends of ambient, drone, electronica and experimental drum and bass as ASC, James Clements has decided to commit more time to Comit (sorry), an alternative project which first surfaced via a debut single in 2016. Here the San Diego-based Brit delivers a first full-length excursion under the alias. There's plenty to soothe and seduce on the eight tracks stretched across two slabs of wax, from the undulating, occasionally skittish beats and sweeping chord sequences of opener "Behind Dulled Eyes" and the icy, doom-laden electronic melancholy of "Reverie", to the early Black Dog Productions flex of "Clouded Over" and the dubbed-out, slow motion bliss of "Soft Focus".
Review: As Suburban Cracked Collective, Australian experimentalist and ex-Castings member Shaun Leacy has released a handful of CD-R and cassette-only albums. Here he makes his vinyl debut with an album of weary, becalmed compositions that join the dots between percussive free-jazz, drowsy drone textures, out-there ambient and fuzzy, off-kilter electronica. It's an intriguing and quietly impressive sound soup, with Leacy densely layering elements and smothering most musical motifs in copious amounts of delay, reverb and noise. The whole thing comes to a dizzying conclusion via "The Bird Ceased To Be Articulate", a 16-minute noise piece that sounds like the cavernous, echoing free space inside Donald Trump's head.
Review: Alexandra Drewchin's work as Eartheater reached a wider audience when it landed on Pan last year via the head-spinning "IRISIRI" album. Now she returns to the label she first emerged on, Hausu Mountain, for a reissue of her 2015 album "Metalepsis". It's a surprisingly direct record, even as it swerves from folky incantations to pastoral techno ruminations across nine bold and distinctive tracks. Both ambitious in scope and focused in execution, it's a perfect companion piece to "IRISIRI" that points out the skill and versatility at the disposal of this most crucial of contemporary artists.
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