|MOTION SICKNESS OF TIME TRAVEL|
Luminaries & Synastry
LP+CD // £13.99
**Limited first vinyl pressing, comes on coloured vinyl and also Includes a CD copy of the album that features two extra tracks not on the vinyl** Rachel Evans left many listeners stunned with her debut album ‘Seeping Through The Veil Of The Unconscious’, released on tape and vinyl to pretty much universal acclaim at the end of last year. Her follow-up proper, ‘Luminaries & Synastry’ is a divine, subtly dizzying descent from the heights of that album, catching Rachel cocooned in a feather-like freefall to more pastoral climes without ever actually touching down to solid ground. The simplicity of instinctively layered, ethereal vocals and seemingly infinite arpeggios make for a mesmerising take on pop music, where the atmospheric composition contains far more nitrous oxide in a lower pressure system, and duly everyone floats about dazed in a state of post-rave/orgasmic bliss. This suspended sensation is unmistakable on opener ‘Luminaries’, those whispered vocals condensing around beads of glinting machine rhythms and convective synth swirls, precipitating the mood of things to come. Following this, ‘Synastry’ provides a poignant moment of clarity where you can almost make out whole phrases through the pillow of gaseous drones, slowing the systolic rate for the twilight glide of ‘Late Day Sun Silhouettes’ and the lambent organ glow of ‘Ascendant’ or ‘Athame’. Entering the kosmische vortex of ‘Day Glow’ and ”Moving Backward Through The Constellations’ the mood turns less blissed and more viscerally tactile, where creeping arpeggios envelope Rachel’s haloed vocal in a tangle of bittersweet dissonance, before the gaseous glades of ‘Eight Nineteen’ opens out, eyelids fluttering, to the scenery of ‘The Walls Were Dripping With Stars’. The LP features artwork by Hobo Cult’s Frank Ouelette, mastering by Brad Rose and a cut by D&M, the first pressing of the last album sold out in less than a week so check in early. Sublime.
BEATS / DOWNTEMPO / BOOGIE
LP // £7.99
Clams Casino might just be the hottest producer on the planet right now. For some time his electrifying beats have been lighting up mixtapes for Lil B, Soulja Boy and other unique personalities in the new rap underground, but recently he’s stepped out of the shadows to become acclaimed in his own right, releasing his own instant-classic Instrumentals mixtape, and now proffering a timely EP on Tri Angle, his debut release proper. Those expecting more of the ruggedly romantic R&B infusions he’s best known for will be initially surprised, but ultimately enchanted, by the more knotty, abstract direction he’s taken for ‘Rainforests’. With its foregrounding of crackle, ‘Natural’ could almost be mistaken for The Caretaker making hip-hop, were it not for the generous dosage of Clams’ signature whooshing synth atmospherics and amorphous vocal moans. ‘Treetop’ is just beautiful, wistul techno arpeggios and barely-there beats foraging forlornly through an ambience of exotic birdsong and high-altitude air pressure. Rhythm is back in the foreground for ‘Waterfalls’, but again this is a tune built to deliver a substantial emotional payload rather than cheap club thrills; ‘Drowning’ maintains the almost gothic sensibility of the EP, pattering snares, piano chords and sepulchral synth jabs ebbing and flexing in the ether. There’s a release of sorts for ‘Gorilla’, razor-sharp strings lifting the blunted percussion heavenwards, but this vertical ascent isn’t quite enough to suppress the all-pervasive feelings of heartache and listlessness. Rainforest is an isolationist hip-hop epic that accords perfectly with the Tri Angle aesthetic while also affirming and deepening Clams’ singular production style; it’s a new benchmark in the bedroom hip-hop revolution, the real sh*t, and totally essential.
|KEITH FULLERTON WHITMAN / BEN VIDA|
LP // £14.99
**Finally available on this deluxe and limited vinyl pressing – astonishing new synth heat from Keith Fullerton Whitman and Ben Vida on Amish Records`**. The tidy New York label that brought us Ensemble Economique’s ‘Standing Still, Facing Forward’ presents the third instalment in its brilliantly named Required Wreckers Series, a split LP from two of the US underground’s most intrepid explorers of electronic sound. Ben Vida’s side sees him using both analogue and digital control sources, and creating a complex web of patches that results in a really angsty, wheedling sound. Vida was looking to create something which “refuses to slip into contemplative or mystical arenas that so many in today’s electronic music reference” and boy, he’s succeeded. While ‘Aggregatepulseripper (Damaged III)’ is heavy-going, it’s completely engaging, at times dropping – momentarily at least – into a kind of lurching, erratic funk. On the flip Keith Fullerton Whitman rolls out the kind of uncompromising but characterful hardware shred-fest that has seen him earn the praise of everyone from the power electronics community to advanced techno noggins like T++. Recorded in January 2008 in Somerville, MA, it documents one of his solo synthesizer sets based on a theme, and a circuitry, of economy. Using audience noise, ambient room-tone and the output from different-sized speakers as sound sources, he feeds the signal into different patches, and lets rip. It’s another thrilling example of what wonders can be achieved at the interface between analogue and digital, and apart from a single 4096 bd delay, the recording has not been subjected to any kind of treatment, overdub or sequencing. As ever with Whitman, there’s a curious rhythmic flex to even his most out-there experiments – as the globs of electronic sound on ‘080114’ cluster and coagulate they from brittle, near-‘ardkore beat patterns in Ae/AFX style, before dissolving into a harsh, wailing climax that comes over like a disaffected teenage robot taking his anger out on Guitar Hero, if Guitar Hero was programmed by Mark Fell and Florian Hecker. Vanguard synth/noise experimentation honestly doesn’t get much better than this…
CD // £10.99
Okay so this is weird – in February 2011 Gier Jenssen finished an album dedicated to the Japanese post-war reconstruction and, specifically, the country’s futuristic nuclear program. After surveying numerous photos he became fascinated by the idea that nuclear power plants could be built so close to the sea in earthquake-prone areas, and this slowly became the focus for his recordings. A few months later and, alas, the album has gained considerable poignancy – we are now in the aftermath of one of Japan’s most serious disasters and Jenssen’s concepts have a strangely prophetic quality to them. The music itself is hardly melancholy, but has a damaged, cold, digital edge which mirrors the clean architectural perfection of the ominous structures, pre-earthquake of course. As Jenssen’s clipped, purposeful rhythms slowly make their way into synthetic patterns, they guide the record and imbue proceedings with a fitting Kubrickian haze. ‘N-Plants’ almost reminds of early SND (think ‘Stdio’ or ‘Makesndcassette’) but played at the wrong speed. These are slow, booming passages of sound carried out with a masterful ear, displaying the razor sharp precision of a true veteran of the field. Lazy, lackadaisical witch-house this is not, but ‘N-Plants’ shares threads with its purposeful slow-down of dance music tropes. It’s a powerful record: without the context ‘N-Plants’ is an affecting, engrossing listening experience, but with the added air of melancholy, it becomes all the more haunting and memorable. Highly Recommended.
Wicker & Steel
TECHNO / HOUSE
CD // £10.99
Debut album of industrial-strength techno from the UK’s Perc. This producer can do disciplined, patient minimalism – for all its drama, lead single ‘My Head Is Slowly Exploding’ is nothing if not a masterclass in sustained tension – but he’s also capable of cutting loose, with often jaw-dropping results: ‘You Saw Me”s natty drum syncopations and cold wave atmospherics sound like Sandwell District trying their hand at UK Funky, while bruising highlight ‘London, We Have You Surrounded’ is a fleet-footed update of the tribal techno violence of vintage Downwards; ‘JMurph’ is industrial with a capital ‘I’, its unbelievably tough, war-ready rhythm constructed out of beaten and battered metalwork. There’s great variety within the munitions factory aesthetic: see ambient scene-setter ‘Choice’, the beatless but still brutal ‘Pre-Steel’ and future-primitive roller ‘Snow Chain’, all of which make explicit Perc’s debt of lineage to TG, Chris & Cosey, Cabs, DAF et al. But really this album is about as gentle as a kick in the face, and if you ask us that can only be a good thing. Highly recommended for fans of Ancient Methods, Peter Van Hoesen, Scion, British Murder Boys and all the hard, uncompromising stuff.
|VARIOUS / SOUL JAZZ|
Invasion of the Killer Mysteron Sounds in 3-D
DUBSTEP / GRIME / FUNKY
2CD // £12.99
**Double CD with graphic novel by Paolo Parisi** Soul Jazz present a lucubrate compendium of digital dancehall scanning the spectrum of computerised dub from 1985 up to the present day. Reggae expert Stuart Baker and electronic dub general Kevin Martin (a.k.a. The Bug) have cherry-picked 35 tracks between them, spanning out-and-out obscurities known only to the hardcore heads, and a clutch of related goodies from producers heavily under their influence. Like Mo’wax’s ‘Now Thing’ compilation a decade ago, this set will likely expose a lot of heads to the incredibly diverse and unique arrangements of instrumental Digi-dancehall, clearly showing their connections with Techno, Electro, D&B, Grime, Dubstep and the whole digitized Bass music diaspora. The way it’s all tied up with Paolo Parisi’s graphic novel is gravy on the dumpling. So, inside you’ll find some total killers, from the original movement of King Tubby’s ‘Fat Thing’, through influential killers like Lenky’s ‘Diwali Riddim’, to the infectious bubble of Jammys’ ‘Peenie Peenie’, but it’s the bits in between that you gotta watch out for! Productions such as Henfield and Shadowman’s snake-psyching ‘Babatunde’, Sly Dunbar and Christopher Birch’s rudee ‘Corners Boy’, or the acid burn of Fat Eye’s ‘Clothes Pin Rhythm’, all filling in gaps that many won’t even know existed. If this was a clash, Kevin Martin delivers some killer blows not least for the inclusion of Redlight’s nexx-level ‘M.D.M.A’, but overall Stuart Baker takes the title for sheer “what-the-fook?” factor. Don’t miss this. It’s too wicked. Highly recommended!!!
BEATS / DOWNTEMPO / BOOGIE
CD // £9.99
We were well impressed with Pursuit Grooves’ 2010 EP Foxtrot Mannerisms, which at the time seemed like an unlikely offering to come from Bristol’s dubstep stronghold Tectonic. For her debut album proper (following two self-released CDRs), Frantically Hopeful, the New Yorker seems to have absorbed more obviously UK influences into her grounded future-soul sound, but overall the vibe is firmly in keeping with that of her hometown’s musical melting pot. ‘Revolutionaries’ is the kind of scuffed steppers’ house you might expect to come from Pangaea, elevated by Grooves’ oak-smoked croon, but it’s a deceptive opener, more obviously dancefloor-oriented than what follows. Tracks like ‘Type Send Universe’ and ‘Mars Is Rising’ essay the kind of psychedelic boogie-funk styles that will appeal to fans of Dam-Funk, Theo Parrish and Madlib alike, while sub-heavy broken beat numbers ‘I Sink’ and ‘Peace Talks’ could almost be warehouse finds from 2000Black. Every track’s a winner, if truth be told, but right now we’re particularly digging Chicago house homage ‘Transformation Of Consciousness’ and ‘What About’, which teams a longing vocal take and French movie dialogue samples with slouchy, sleep-deprived breakbeats. This album is a remarkable achievement, and a big evolutionary leap forward for Pursuit Grooves, with pop nous to match its bold experimentalism. Highly recommended for fans of everything from Alice Coltrane to Urban Tribe.