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: Described in the accompanying press release as "the halfway point between Bollywood and Balearic", Rupa Biswas' 1982 debut "Disco Jazz" has long been a favourite of dusty-fingered diggers with a healthy bank balance and a penchant for the quirky. All four tracks are cheery, charming and superior to many "Bollywood disco" records produced in the same period. The sunny disco-boogie of "Moja Bhari Moja" is followed on side A by the delightfully eccentric, bass-powered AOR-disco/funk-rock fusion of "East West Shuffle" and the effortlessly Balearic cheeriness of "Aaj Shanibar". Best of all, though, is the exotic and intoxicating flipside cut "Ayee Morshume Be-Reham Duniya" which expertly joins the dots between cosmic rock and Balearic disco grooves for 16 spellbinding minutes.
Curimao (Sons Onomatopaicos E Folk Da Guine) (6:48)
Solito (Solo De Balaue) (4:29)
Danado Cantador (Balaue, Orquestra E Declamacao) (A Fagner) (4:46)
Review: For the first in a series of must-have reissues of obscure Brazilian treats, Optimo Music and Selva Discos have joined forces to offer up a new pressing of Fernando Falcao's superb 1981 debut, "Memoria Das Aguas". The eight-track set has long been considered something of a slept-on and hard-to-find classic, with Falcao conjuring up an octet of tracks that brilliantly join the dots between neo-classical movements, dreamy, percussion-led soundscapes (see the sublime "Amanhecer Tabajara (A Alceu Valenca)"), spiraling big band Afro-Brazilian jazz ("Ladeira Dos Inocentes"), intoxicating classical-jazz fusion ("Revoada") and experimental, beat-free sound collages ("Mercado"). In a word: exceptional.
Review: Some 19 years after it first slipped out, Bonobo's fine debut album "Animal Magic" gets the reissue treatment, this time on tasty looking yellow vinyl. Simon Green's style has evolved considerably in the two decades that have passed since the album first hit stores, but his ability to craft gorgeous tunes has never changed. "Animal Magic" was more sample-heavy than his later work, with Green combining killer vocal and instrumental lifts with jazz-flecked basslines and woozy musical motifs of his own with punchy beats that variously doff a cap to hip-hop, downtempo grooves, trip-hop and nu-jazz. In other words, it's an evocative, soothing and hugely enjoyable sample patchwork that remains a laidback classic almost 20 years after he first made it.
Review: Best known for being the backing band for countless soul singers - most notably Emilia Sisco, Willie West and Thee Baby Cuffs - Timmion Records regulars Cold Diamond & Mink have finally been given a chance to take centre stage. "Here Today, Gone Tomorrow" is the tight funk and soul combo's debut album and contains ten killer cuts from the Finnish combo in their usual jazz-flecked 1960s/early '70s funk and soul sound. Highlights are plentiful from start to finish, with the hazy bustle of "Remember Me", the super-sweet and glistening "Ain't That Love" and rush-inducing "This Is What Love Looks Like!" amongst our current favourites.
Review: It's the album that shot them to glory in one fell swoop, hitting stores at a time when the BBC had just listed Australia's great indie hope in the taste-making Sound of 2009 list. And, as this 10th anniversary special edition proves, the record has lost none of its emotional power or infectious musicality in that time. Opening with the pared back-yet-desperate "Love Lost", the tone is set for a record that packs as much punch as it does reel from the punishments life so readily hands out. Veering between bruised and ballsy, quiet and confident, tracks like "Rest" and lead single "Sweet Disposition" position them among the most vital and arresting guitar outfits on the scene. Soaring vocals, arpeggiated chords and frantic crescendos abound. On the stylistic flip, "Fools" and "Soldier On" showcase a far more delicate musicality, revealing a band as heartbroken as they are heartfelt.
Movement 2 - "Toto, I've A Feeling We're Not In Kansas Anymore" (6:03)
Movement 3 - Wherever Two Or More Are Gathered (8:24)
Movement 4 - Life In The Gravity Well (7:02)
Movement 5 - As The Earth Kissed The Moon (7:20)
Movement 6 - Something's Moving (7:35)
Review: Michael Stearns is perhaps less namechecked than many of the early ambient pioneers, but his expansive catalogue reaches back to 1977, when his first expansive synthesizer dreamscapes unfurled themselves on his own Continuum Montage label. Emotional Rescue have picked up on seminal 1981 album Planetary Unfolding, giving a much needed vinyl reissue to a classic slice of hyperboreal ambience spread across six long-form movements. Expansive, emotionally charged and constantly exploratory, this is deep space listening at its finest - an essential purchase for any lovers of truly classic, cosmic synthesizer music.
Carlton Jumel Smith - "This Is What Love Looks Like" (3:47)
Jonny Benavidez - "Tell Me That You Love Me" (3:45)
Pratt & Moody - "Lost Lost Lost" (2:57)
Nicole Willis & The Soul Investigators - "Paint Me In A Corner" (3:52)
Ernie Hawks & The Soul Investigators - "The Scorpio Walk" (4:57)
Wanda Felicia - "Until You're Mine" (3:19)
Bobby Oroza - "This Love" (part 1) (3:57)
Bardo Martinez & The Soul Investigators - "Bad Education" (3:53)
Emilia Sisco - "Don't Believe You Like That" (3:45)
Willie West - "I'm Still A Man" (4:31)
Review: Destination Helsinki: Daptone dig deep into the vaults of their friends at Timmion Records. Heavily championed by the likes of Nicole Willis, it's one of the most influential funk labels to come out of Finland this century, and this collection brings some of the many highlights together. The syrupy falsettos of Jonny Benavidez, the yearning lament of Pratt & Moody, the sincerity of Wanda Felicia and of course the driving focus and funk power of the Soul Investigators. The list of talent on Timmion goes on and on and this is a great snapshot of what they offer. See you in detention.
Review: Socio-political commentary abounds Sleater-Kinney's latest. The title references Yeats' "The Second Coming", and while the catalyst for this call for help isn't clear we are so desperately lost as a civilisation, bound by the chains of what Adam Curtis calls oh dear-ism, the specific sickness is irrelevant. Our symptoms are universal. This is clearest on "Can I Go On". In contrast to the aforementioned, with its furious guitars and anguished vocals, it's a poppier, almost-80s affair. Yet it discusses exhausted, wired-in people, questioning if we are worth saving. Perhaps "Love" will help? A jerking, proto-electro infused effort that charts (presumably) the band's early years touring in a van. When things made sense. But nostalgia isn't salvation, especially when the distorted vocals and scuzzy riffs of "Bad Dance" tell us to get down before it's all over. Hope lost in a deliciously textured, provocative record.
Review: The weight of expectation has been lifted. Having turned heads in the right places with breakout track "More Is Less", Dublin's The Murder Capital fulfil the promise of being Ireland's next great guitar hope by delivering a staggering debut album that's powerful yet subtle, uplifting and outward looking yet dark and introverted. No walking contradiction, it's an accomplished and entirely human record. It also sounds as tight as you could ask for. Produced by none other than Flood, whose credits are good enough to drop any jaw (PJ Harvey, Foals, New Order), for evidence just stop to consider the top end hooks and percussive detail on single "Green & Blue", invoking Liars in pared-back post punk mode. Or the tense, unnerving introduction to opener "For Everything". By the time you hit "Don't Cling To Life", arguably the most emotionally charged and reflective here, hopes of walking away unmoved are done for.
Review: Upbeat, upfront and wholeheartedly unapologetic, the return of Friendly Fires is about as proud as an album can be. After eight years off whatever soul searching took place has clearly paid off, even if only to give them the confidence to make these tracks. There's a pure 80s chart-disco vibe throughout the track list. From the breathiness of that "Baby I" line on "Can't Wait Forever" to the sexy and sleazy "Offline", which might as well be an homage to George Michael. It's no cheap parody, though, with enough accomplished musicality here to ensure that an instrumental pack would have club DJs with penchants for yacht pop chomping at the bit. Not least the frantic pace and punching kicks of "Almost Midnight", synth accents taking us closer to the outfit's debut than anything else here, perhaps with the exception of closer "Run The Wild Flowers".
Review: On his three previous solo albums as Blanck Mass, Fuck Buttons member Benjamin John Power offered up abstract but enjoyable blends of ambient, drone, IDM and electronics. On "Animated Violence Mild", his first full-length for two years, Power has decided to take a far more dystopian path, blending ear-catching, synth-pop influenced melodies with thrusting, doom-laden techno rhythms, growling aural textures, industrial strength noise and hybrid electronic power-pop. It's an ear-catching affair, with highlights including the boisterous, distorted techno-pop of "House Vs House", the post-apocalyptic power-trance rush of "Hush Money", the hypnotic, maximal ambient movements of "Creature/West Fuqua" and the pulsating intensity of "Wings Of Hate".
Review: London's contemporary jazz scene is so strong right now that there's not a week that passes without the release of a killer new album from one of its leading protagonists. The latest comes from Ezra Collective, which finally delivers its' debut album following a string of inspired live performances and a handful of must-have singles. Kicking off with a breezy chunk of hip-hop-jazz, "You Can't Steal My Joy" sees the hyped five-piece confidently bounce between intense, spiraling epics ("Why You Mad?"), reggae-influenced aural sunshine ("Red Whine"), polyrhythmic Afro-jazz ("Quest For Coin"), bespoke soul (Jorja Smith hook-up "Reason In Disguise"), live boom-bap hip-hop (Loyle Carner collaboration "What Am I To Do"), bustling Afro-Cuban jazz ("Chris & Jane"), picturesque piano pieces ("Philosopher II") and much more besides. As debuts go, it's mighty impressive.
Everyday (feat Reginald Omas & James Creole) (2:46)
Play This Game (Money) (1:53)
Cassava Pone (2:23)
We Can Change Now (feat Reginald Omas) (3:28)
The Thing (To Do) (1:41)
How I Do It (2:53)
Roots Now (feat Al Dobson Jr) (2:13)
Get You (I Say) (1:35)
Music Throughout The Night (2:44)
Hold You Down (feat Shepard Manyika) (2:07)
Latin Sisters (1:50)
Ancestral Rivers (2:20)
Phone Call Away (feat Reginald Omas) (1:52)
Real Diggers Only (1:14)
The Moon Revolution (0:40)
Review: Straight out of that bubbling South London jazz scene, Jeen Bassa comes correct with his debut solo album, rightfully landing on his natural home 22a. Anyone hip to the happenings on Tenderlonious' label should know the deal by now - Bassa much like his brothers Mo Kolours, Al Dobson Jr., Reginald Omas Mamode IV is gifted with that killer instinct for fresh approaches to beat science rooted in jazz culture but springing forth with restless, infectious energy. "Cassava Pone" is as cool headed and richly realised as you could hope, and there's a strong cast of guest spots from his nearest and dearest to further flesh out the sound. Perfect for summer months but with plenty to keep you cosy any time of year, this is a modern classic in the making.