Review: The My Rules crew is back with its first release of 2019 and doesn't disappoint: this time they've come up with a much fawned over cosmic disco classic from Belgian outfit Candy Darling & The Viscounts. The original "Movin'" is a previously Japan only 12" promo mix of a disco cover of a Lee Hazelwood surf song that has edgy stabs and a squelchy bassline to die for. The flip side houses a special rework by Mt Rules label boss Justin Van Der Volgen. He tweaks the inner workings of the tune to draw out the key bits for utter dance floor destruction. Form the bar to the cub to the afters, this one is primed and ready to detonate.
Review: Headed up by jazz-man and broken beat hero Mark de Clive-Lowe, Tokyo's Ronin Arkestra is an all-star collective that includes members of some of Japan's leading jazz and electronic music outfits. We shouldn't really be surprised, then, that debut album "Sonkei" is rather special. It features some suitably grandiose and epic contemporary jazz workouts - see "Onkochishin", the wonderfully spiritual and dancefloor-friendly "The Art of Altercation" and loose-limbed closing cut "Tempestuous Temperaments" - but the influence of other forms of music (most notably dub, ambient and electronica) is evident throughout, often in subtle and surprising ways. In other words, it sounds like a future jazz classic in the making.
Review: For Brazilian music collectors, the two 1970s albums by sadly departed vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Ana Mazzotti have long been must-have sets. Listening to Far Out's new reissue of the second of those, 1977's self-titled "Ana Mazzotti", it's easy to see why. The album is warm, woozy and groovy, joining the dots between slick and summery samba-jazz, synthesizer-laden bossa-nova, Azymuth style jazz-funk/fusion (see the delicious and laidback "Sou") and the kind of atmospheric, otherworldly deepness rarely heard in Brazilian popular music during that period. Highlights are plentiful throughout, with "Cordao", the spacey and up-tempo "Eta Samba Bom" and languid "Bairro Negro" among the many standout tracks.
Review: Hozan Yamamoto is a widely revered figure in Japan, and a true icon of the seventies jazz scene. This album from 1971 is one of this best and a seminal work that effortlessly floats through fusion, soul and big band styles and has been basically impossible to buy in original format. Trust Mr Bongo to come correct with this fully licensed version which features his trademark flute playing and finds the maestro in a soaring, uplifting mood here. Big brass adds weight to his leads while well formed grooves drive the album along. Add in subtle Japanese stylings and it all adds up to a J jazz classic.
Review: Trailed as a direct sequel to his previous solo album, 2017's "Avanti", "Volume Massimo" sees Nine Inch Nails member Alessandro Cortini offer up another immersive trip through droning guitar textures, repetitive synthesizer motifs, exotic sitar parts and fuzzy electronics. It's effectively a series of "maximal" instrumental soundscapes with sounds so large and layered they rise above the "meditative" tag pushed by Mute's PR team. This is no criticism, though, just a reflection that while contemplative at times, one of the most joyous things about the album is Cortini's ability to build thrilling walls of sound.
Review: Having built up his self titled label alongside his sterling work as part of Oscillat, Lazare Hoche and Will & Ink, the one and only Malin Genie delivers his debut solo album. Moving beyond the pure club focus of his singles and EPs, the Genie has seized this opportunity to present a widescreen panorama of his sound, leading in with the subliminal ambience of "You" as a springboard to explore breaks, electro, techno, and especially IDM. There are so many ideas swirling round Anthropomorphic Sympathy, it's hard to know where to begin describing it. A true headphone commute for the deep listener to burrow into.
Review: Back in the heyday of the Scando-Disco scene, Jann Marius Dahle had a flurry of records as Fjordfunk and under his own name. Rightly recognised by the leaders in that scene, he's been quiet for the best part of 20 years, but now he returns with the stunning, fully-rendered wonderment of "Infinite Zest". This is an album bursting with colour and musicality, as gorgeous instrumentation meets with tenderly executed disco with a distinctly Norwegian mood. From the starry-eyed synth interplay of "Alina" to the noodling funk of "Nussing", Marius Dahle's skill as an arranger and producer is a revelation. A well-deserved, long awaited return to the fray from a rightful peer of Prins Thomas, Lindstrom et al..
Review: It's hard to believe that Enzo Siragusa's Fuse label has now been carving out its own niche in the tech house world for a full decade. To mark the occasion, the label boss has pulled together more key tracks for his second volume of "A Decade of Rave". This compilation is another treasure trove of club cuts that feature the main man alongside some of his key associates, Rich NxT, Rossko, Archie Hamilton and Seb Zito. The tracks are unwaveringly dubbed out and driving, with weighted bottom ends that will get any moody dancer moving. From warms up to peak time to afterparties, these are hugely versatile tracks.
Review: It's been 10 years since Alix Perez blessed the world with his debut album "1984". To celebrate, Shogun Audio are re-releasing the album with all tracks available on vinyl for the first time and it sounds every bit as good as you'd hoped it would. A stark statement of intent that's aged incredibly well, this is where the London Belgian sowed some of his deepest seeds; from the beat variation and playful twists of space on tracks like "Voices" to the evergreen soul of "Forsaken" (still the only Peven Everett-fronted drum & bass track to this date) via the glitchy grime of "Calm Of Cast", it was clear, even back then, that Alix would go on to set whole new levels and benchmarks. This is a pivotal slice of history.
Review: Hotmoods hits double fingers with another stellar selection of steamy disco sizzlers. This time served up on a heavyweight 12", "Esta Noche" leads the charge with Todd Terje style melodic magic chugging away to the skies. "Shabba" features joyous vocal harmonies and splashes of synths that take you to the beach, and "Looking Back" ups the funk with busy bass playing and a lead synth that rings out with infectious happiness. Last of all, "Wanna Be Lost" gets more romantic and up close and personal with female vocals layered over elastic drums. All in all, an essential slab of wax for any disco DJ.
Review: New funk delivered the old way; Original Gravity follow up the 2017 hype of Floyd James & The GTs debut "The Switchback" with this powerful four-track EP. Charged with a strong northern soul feel both "Keep Lifting Me Higher" and "The Sweetest Thing" lead with the beat as Floyd and his super-tight band bounce back and forth. Flip for more energetic mischief as "The Wig" goes turbo blues while "Sweet Sweet Soul" closes on an epic, riffy sing-along. The title speaks for itself.
Review: Far Out has decided to pay tribute to one of Brazilian music's most overlooked - and, let's face it, obscure - talents, Ana Mazzotti. She recorded just two albums in the 1970s before passing away from cancer in her early 30s a few years later. Both of those album have become sought-after, particularly 1974 debut "Ninguem Vai Me Segurar". This first ever reissue proves why. Warm, breezy and effortlessly soulful, it sees Mazzotti and her backing band sashay between languid samba-jazz, intergalactic bossa, soft-focus Brazilian soul and the kind of attractive jazz-funk/fusion that would later become the hallmark of Azymuth (not much of a surprise since two of that band's founder members were part of Mazzotti's backing band).
Review: Self-styled "minimal synth duo" Boy Harsher has released some fine music over the last few years, though little quite as on-point and majestic as 2018's "Country Girl" EP. Here they offer up a new-look "uncut" edition of the stylish set, which expands the original four-track set via a quartet of previously unreleased recordings from the same period. You'll find the original EP - complete with the throbbing but picturesque "Motion" and dreamy "Country Girl" - on side A, with the bonus material on the flip. Of these, we're particularly enjoying the gentle pulse of "Underwater", and the "Please" era Pet Shop Boys flex of "Send Me A Vision" and "Westerners".
Review: The latest instalment in Into The Light Records' ongoing "International Series" comes from Max Santilli, an Australian multi-instrumentalist previously best known for working alongside Jacob Fugar in Angophora. "Surface" is Santilli's debut solo album and has been compiled from an archive of home studio recordings made between 2016 and 2018. Predictably, it's rather good, with Santilli wrapping drowsy, slowly shifting musical flourishes (guitars, synths etc) around gentle, sun-kissed rhythms and suitably spacey chords. Throughout, the Sydney-based musician offers subtle nods towards his various inspirations (the ambient-jazz fusion of Michael Bierylo, Steve Hillage's timeless early ambient works and the intricate acoustic guitar playing of Steve Tibbetts and Miguel Herrero) while forging his own distinctly lo-fi and otherworldly path.
Review: Andre Sobota is Bungle, the Brazilian producer tearing up the contemporary drum & bass landscape with his hard hitting rhythms. He only tends to put out one EP a year, but that changes this autumn with three missives all landing in the space of two months. This is the first and features four cuts on two slabs of wax. "Mutant" starts out as an icy liquid roller before being ripped apart by rasping synths, "Dictate" is a glistening stomper with raga vocal stabs and melodic shimmers while "Enigma" is a dark, twisting and turning track that takes you down a rabbit hole. "Step Two" finishes things off in rump-wiggling jump up fashion and closes out a devastating release.
Review: Renowned studio wizard Prince Fatty finally follows 2015's "The Clone Theory" album with a second studio long player jam packed with heavy dubs and top notch guests. "In The Viper's Shadow" is a real hotlist of dub kingpins with the likes of Tippa Irie, George Dekker, Earl 16 and Horseman all contributing to a melting pot of sounds that spans multiple eras and influences. Many of these tracks have been popular during Prince Fatty's live shows over the last couple of years, from the soul infused cover of the Temptations' "Get Ready" to the sun kissed and lumpy drums and endless reverb of "Everything Crash". Timeless stuff.
Review: Vic Mars spent many years in Nagoya, Japan, and it shows in the delicate beauty of his compositions. Fusing understated elegance with the lilting folk traditions of the British Isles, his music is equal parts pastoral and ethereal. Following plenty of previous appearances on boutique London label Clay Pipe, he returns with "Inner Roads & Outer Paths", a thoroughly calming sojourn through fingerpicked guitar refrains, plaintive piano and plenty more instrumentation besides. There's a subtle tint of processing that lends an otherworldly edge to the ambience Mars is imparting - a truly soul-nourishing departure from the intensity of the modern age.
Custom Made (feat Ayo The Yung Afrika Pyoneer) (6:31)
Review: Jungle Brown's much anticipated second album is finally here, and packed with collaborations with exciting peers like Sampa The Great, Fliptrix and Terri Walker. The trio of Ric Flo, MAEAR & Tony Bones are in fine form with their ever soulful hip hop taking subtle hints from grime, house and trap. "Keep It Movin" and Huami" are for golden era fans, while "Sometimes" flips the script with a tight, bumping house beat and buttery raps. "Custom Made" is a rhythmically inventive, richly layered track and is one of many highlights on a standout album.
Review: Hiroki Takahashi has delivered compelling ambient long players to Not Not Fun, Muzan Editions and more besides, but his most prominent works to date have landed on Where To Now?. Following the "Where To Be Vol. 2" cassette and "Raum" LP, he's back with the frankly gorgeous "Sonne Und Wasser", an EP that further highlights his exploration of crystalline ambience. "Nymphaea" and "Pollen" hover in glacial suspension, with pealing chimes ringing out their richly resonant tones over sustained notes pitched to melancholic perfection. "Photosynthese" centres on fragile sequenced patterns, while "Wurzel" occupies its own particularly wistful mood, played in a key distinct from the three prior pieces.
Review: Enduring rock favourites Wilco are now onto album number 11. It is a stripped back affair but one that still offer sup the sort of singalong choruses fans keep coming back for, as well as lyrics that are as expressive as ever. They come from Jeff Tweedy who is in as fine form as ever, while guitars around him vary from acoustic and gentle to more raw and rousing. The drums are nicely deadened to lend the tracks some weight and various personal crises are mused upon through the course of another timeless record from these tried and tested indie heroes.
Review: No matter how hard they try, some bands struggle to make people dislike them. Take Los Angeles trio, Automatic. Sure, militant guitar fans might find a little to complain about, what with the distinct focus on synthdom here, but realistically that's like saying you hate pies because sandwiches also exist. There's more than a touch of Neu! and Suicide in this indie-post punk mix up, but we wouldn't want anyone to think they'd heard this before. Unless, of course, you actually have heard this lot before. Working within sounds that often feel explored to the nth degree, we're dealing with a band disinterested in convention but obsessed with making you feel immediately at home with them. From the rolling bass, distorted electro refrains and send-return vocals of "Too Much Money" through "Highway'"'s darkroom neo-dance bounce, to the slo-mo, anthemic closer "Strange Conversations", this debut album stands out for miles.
I Want You (She's So Heavy) (Trident Recording Session & Reduction mix)
Here Comes The Sun (take 9)
Because (take 1 - instrumental)
You Never Give Me Your Money (take 36)
Sun King (take 20)
Mean Mr Mustard (take 20)
Polythene Pam (take 27)
She Came In Through The Bathroom Window (take 27)
Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight (Takes 1-3)
The End (take 3)
Her Majesty (Takes 1-3)
Review: There's a chance this Liverpudlian four piece will be familiar by now. This, their 11th studio outing, first unveiled as the 1960s slipped into the 70s, is a bonafide epic from an outfit that weren't lacking in epics; in many ways a culmination of their time together, marking the end of their active years and beginning of their legacy. By this stage, then, they've emerged from years spent on the inner journey and time on the outer, space cadeting to the hallucinogenic fuelled tones of "Sgt. Peppers" and "Revolver". Of course, there's still plenty of explorations happening, but the gritty blues rock of opening track "Come Together" really sets the tone. Five decades on, it still sounds great and maybe even better than you remember. Even if you own the original, this anniversary edition is worth having.
Review: HTRK's debut album in 2007 proved to be a seminal one for fans of experimental noise. It cooks up impressively abrasive and caustic textures, crashing waves of white noise and sonorous pulses that speak of a future dystopian world. Tense and absorbing throughout, the lo-fi design and elements of post punk, post industrial and post techno makes it a modern analogy of the likes of Throbbing Gristle. 12 years later, the record sounds just as good, and arguably even more prescient in these twitchy times of digital surveillance, social anxieties and worldwide political tensions. It might be bleak, then, but that doesn't mean there is real beauty in this album's disharmony.
Tonis Magi & Music Seif - "Sa Haara Kinni Mu Kaest" (3:30)
Els Himma - "Keskoo" (2:44)
Valter Ojakaar - "Rasked Veosed" (4:05)
Uno Naissoo - "Marss Eksprompt" (2:49)
Gunnar Graps & Magnetic Band - "Leidmine" (3:17)
Eesti TV & Raadio Estraadiorkester - "Keskoosamba" (instrumental) (4:10)
Tarmo & Toomos Urb - "Valgud Peeglis" (feat Vanemode - short version) (4:59)
Eesti Raadio Estraadiorkester - "Malestuste Teel" (instrumental) (5:41)
Review: Several years deep into their quest to amplify their homeland's rich funk talent, Eastern European collective Estonian Funk Embassy level up with this exceptional compendium of tracks written and recording during Estonia's time under Soviet control. The first time most of these records have been released and distributed beyond domestic release, it's a total treasure trove of grooves ranging from upbeat, big band-led swing ("Keskoosamba"), thigh-slapping horn-heavy funk ("Rasked Veosed"), smokier, lounge-lapping jazzier influences ("Naed Vaid Oma Silmi"), sleazy disco funk ("Sa Haara Kinni Mu Kaest" and many shades in between. Capturing Estonia's musical legacy in all directions, this is a genuinely unique record.
Review: Root Down is an experimental album from 1994 when The Beastie Boys locked themselves in a rehearsal space and went to town on studio experimentation and live jamming. It came between "Paul's Boutique" and "Check Your Head" and resulted in two previously unreleased versions of the title track and snippets of music recorded while on tour in Europe. There is the typical Beastie Boys mix of floor rocking riffs but with funky new flows stitched in and thus charts the period in which the band went from their post punk guitar roots to a more new-groove driven sound.