Review: The latest outing on Vatos Locos' "Limited" series comes courtesy of Amo, an artist whose last solo outing - a decent but largely overlooked debut EP on Dissonant - was released way back in 2013. There's plenty to admire across the four-tracks, with opener "Find Turn" delivering an impressively deep, woozy and hypnotic blend of soft-touch electronics, drowsy, effects-laden vocals, dubbed-out aural textures and shuffling tech-house drums. Elsewhere, "Spitgame" is a more bass-heavy affair rich in wonky vocal snippets and bouncy drums, while "Whattosay" is a mind-altering chunk of early morning tech-house smothered in trippy electronics. To complete the package, Hector and David Gtronic join forces to deliver an off-kilter, club-ready minimal house revision of "Find Turn".
Review: There's a pleasing contradiction at the heart of James Blake's new album, the much discussed "Assume Form". Lyrically, it's a weighty affair, with Blake musing on mental health and other serious issues. His distinctively emotive delivery remains heart aching and poignant, making each of Blake's utterances sound like they're shot through with genuine sadness. Yet musically, "Assume Form" is surprisingly chipper by the artist's usual downbeat standards, offering a blend of chunky R&B beats, swirling strings, memorable piano lines, crystalline melodies and glassy electronics. It's this fusion of darkness and light that makes it such a rewarding listen, and arguably Blake's most well rounded LP to date.
Review: Shape-shifting post-punk quasi-legends Bourbonese Qualk are finally getting a bit of the shine they so richly deserve after years in obscurity, not least thanks to the retrospective compilation on Mannequin back in 2015. Now Platform 23 are reissuing their classic album "Laughing Afternoon", originally released back in 1983 and having lost none of its impact. It's a slippery, shape-shifting creation that veers between uneasy soundscapes and gutter-dwelling funk, with some truly visionary signal processing, electronic textures and more besides in the mix. It's a crime this crew aren't held in the same regard as their other early 80s post-industrial peers, but at least the wrongs are being righted now.
Review: Staggeringly, "What A Mess!" marks Pepe Bradock's first full-length excursion for over two decades. As you might expect, it's unusual in the extreme, with inspirations including a "special diplomatic elephant" and a sound shaped via "a few mundane terms, picked randomly, then coupled with frequencies chosen in a spontaneous way for their presupposed properties or synchonicities". Musically, the LP stretches one continuous suite of title-less tracks over two sides of vinyl, with Bradock cannily combing far-out ambient sounds, deep space electronics, off-kilter rhythms, layered spoken word snippets, mind-altering lo-fi bass and deliciously weird experimental electronics. It's akin to the sort of fuzzy, out-there sample collage you'd get on a Tolouse Low Trax mix tape, but that's no bad thing. In fact, it's a very good thing indeed.
Review: Last year Cardinal & Nun successfully set their stall out via a decidedly lo-fi cassette of wayward techno, EBM, industrial and new wave fusions. Here the Marseilles-based outfit steps it up a notch via a debut 12" for Ron Morelli's L.I.E.S. label. The four tracks are suitably loose, dark and otherworldly, with title track "I Met The Devil" - a pitch-black fusion of early Joy Division, throbbing new wave and late '70s Cabaret Voltaire - leading the way. "Go Away" sees them apply the same DIY fuzziness to EBM, while "Empoisonne" wraps discordant guitar solos and gravelly vocal snippets around another arpeggio-driven groove. They round things off via "Disintegration", a slower and druggier trip into thrusting, arpeggio-driven territory.
Patrick Cowley & Jorge Socarras - "You Laugh At My Face" (Tobias version) (7:15)
Half Hawaii - "Watch The Flash" (6:07)
Review: For the latest release on his quietly impressive Foom label, Ben Freeney has secured the rights to release two killer cuts, both of which are significant in their own way. On the A you'll find a previously unreleased Tobias Freund remix of "You Laugh at My Face", an obscure late '70s proto-new wave collaboration between legendary disco producer Patrick Cowley and art-punk vocalist Jorge Socarras (best known for being part of San Fran band Indoor Life). Freund's version is undulating and evocative, with spacey analogue synth motifs and drowsy vocals rising above a pitched-down breakbeat groove. On the flip, German duo Half Hawaii return to action after a six-year break, offering up a slow-burn delight rich in drowsy, melancholic motifs, shuffling drums and dewy-eyed vocals.
Review: Best known for his distinctive graphic design and illustration work, Bristol-based DJ/producer Deep Nalstrom (real name Guillaume De Ubeda) is finally ready to unleash his music on the world. "Naive Melodies" sees him pitch up on Nummer's Natural Selections label with an almost perfectly formed debut album. Analogue-rich, evocative and atmospheric, the seven cuts expertly blend elements of ambient, new age, dub, tropical textures, curious (sampled) spoken word vocals, intergalactic electronica and gentle tribal rhythms. Highlights include - but are no way limited to - the bass-heavy, delay-laden shuffle of "Inner Collapse", the sun-kissed warmth of "Albatros", the ambient dub haziness of "Liquid Diamonds" and the Sotofett/Fett Burger-esque "The Dream People".
Review: Best described as 'outer rim junkyard elektro', Ghostride The Drift is an American/Canadian alliance: a collaboration between house music outsiders Shy (also known as Uon, Caveman, LSD among others), Naemi (Exael) and of course Brian Leeds aka Huerco S./Pendant. Recorded in Berlin 2018, expect leftfield techno experiments, lo-fi ambient drifters, slo-mo dubs and challenging soundscapes dwelling on the outer limits. A fantastic inaugural release brought to you by D. Tiffany & Uon's XPQ? - a subsidiary of Plush Managements Inc. & Experiences LTD. out of Montreal.