Review: Over the last few years, the team behind the Moog Sound Lab has encouraged a range of forward-thinking electronic musicians to come and jam on its obscure (and very rare) Modular 55 System prototype. The latest edition in the ongoing series of session recordings sees intergalactic Afro-futurist Hieroglyphic Being treat us to The Replicant Dream Sequence - an eight-part modular electronic treat that moves from drowsy, surprisingly colourful ambience ("Seq 1") and foreboding deep space soundscapes ("Seq 3"), to dreamy electronica ("Seq 4") and hypnotic EBM (standout "Seq 6", which also features his distinctive spoken vocals), via blistering techno ("Seq 8", "Seq 2"). Unlike many of his own releases, the sound is sparkling and crystal clear, allowing the quality of his compositions and arrangements to shine through.
Review: For their latest deep dive into the world of little-known electronic gorgeousness, Holland's Music From Memory crew has taken a trawl through the impeccable and largely overlooked catalogue of Japanese ambient musician Toshifumi Hinata. The essential "Broken Relief" draws on material recorded by the musician between 1985 and 87, joining the dots between gentle beat-scapes, inspired new age soundscapes, warm ambient explorations and glassy-eyed instrumentals rich in fluid fretless bass, twinkling pianos, shuffling rhythms and chords so tactile you might want to go to bed with them. It's an inspired set all told, with an impressive number of highlights. These include the evocative piano lament "Ikoku No Onna Tachi", the spacey ambient swirl of "Colored Air", and the undeniably Balearic grooves of "Atarashii Yuhbokumin".
Review: Since debuting with the sublime With U last summer, Holy Other has become one of the Tri Angle roster's most compelling figures, and that rarest of things - an anonymous producer that is more than the sum of the hype surrounding them who is able to imbue their music with genuine personality. Though his sound is initially typical of the Aaliyah sampling Burial wannabes that are currently plaguing the internet, Holy Other manages to add extra layer of gothic drama to proceedings. Though the beats are there, they limp rather than skip (such as on opener "(W)here"), R&B tropes are inverted to create a ghostly frame draped over a skeletal structure ("Inpouring"). R&B isn't the only influence however; "Past Tension" is chopped and screwed 80s pop, while the heart wrenching chords and rumbling strings of "In Difference" could easily have come from Mogwai's Rock Action.
Review: Some 31 years after they were first conceived, the cuts that make up Anna Homler and Steve Moshier's Breadwoman & Other Tales remain thoroughly odd, out-there and entertaining. During the duo's mid-1980s collaboration, performance artist Homler channeled the spirit of a character she'd created called Breadwoman, delivering bizarre vocals - half sung, half spoken, in some kind of made-up dialect - she referred to as "divine speech". These were worked into musical pieces by experimental composter Moshier, who utilized cheap drum machines, battered analogue synthesizers, and chamber music players to create hypnotic, otherworldly tracks that remain hugely charming. The story of their creation and performance, told in great detail in the accompanying liner notes, is also fascinating.
Review: We never quite know what to expect from leftfield explorer Jon Hopkins, but we know it will be worth a listen. Immunity, his fourth solo album (he's recorded two others, one with Brian Eno and another with King Creosote), doesn't disappoint. Rooted in shuffling, forthright and occasionally off-kilter rhythms, it melds hazy, late night atmospherics and subtle melodies with intense, droning chords, woozy electronics and all manner of inventive noises. It's a blend that repeatedly pays dividends, from the mournful pianos and jumpy rhythms of "Breathe This Air', to the crystalline, soundscape ambience of "Abandon Window", and glitchy wonkiness of "Form By Firelight".
Review: Having taken time out to travel the world and experience new things (including psychedelic substances in California), John Hopkins planned to make Singularity, his ninth album, "a sonic ecosystem that starts and ends on the same note". He soon got frustrated by these limitations, so instead just laid down a fluid and hazy album that combines his usual luscious, ambient electronics with a variety of sparse, heavy and off-kilter rhythms. While undeniably laidback in parts, the album also boasts a number of foreboding techno workouts and uses a wider palette of instrumental sounds than we've come to expect (including some fine strings and his own intricate piano playing). The resultant set is rather impressive, all told, and while not quite a "sonic ecosystem", it's certainly an enjoyable journey.
Review: 30 years after ditching the Humanoid alias in order to form Future Sound Of London with Garry Cobain, Brian Dougans has decided to resurrect his rave-era solo project. The result is "Built By Humanoid", a delightfully skittish, off-kilter album of raw, ragged and mind-altering cuts whose wayward, out-there electronics were partially created using two custom-built synthesizers that Dougans co-designed. The resultant album is breathlessly brilliant and magnificently mind-mangling, with the veteran producer conjuring up cuts that giddily join the dots between Aphex Twin's most intense moments, the acid-fired "Braindance" of Ceephax Acid Crew, the doom-laden ambient and IDM oddness of Future Sound Of London and the sweaty breakbeat rush of early UK hardcore.
Review: "The Practice Of Love" is Jenny Hval's seventh full-length, and it's the sort of listen that can wash over you while you get lost in a reverie, or take you on a deeply involving inward journey if you tune in to the lyrics. Her voice is angelic, and muses on subjects like growing old, our place in the world, and the notion of intimacy. Highlights are plentiful throughout, from the fantastically strong title track with its vulnerable and tender spoken words, folky synth lullaby "Thumbsucker" and "Accident", which could well be a rave comedown with its lilting trance chords and dreamy keys. Quite the trip.