Tectonic Recordings tend to showcase artists who exhibit an innovative or diverse approach to bass music, and in Pursuit Grooves they have an American producer who likes to use electronica to take the soul for a wander. Her debut album Frantically Hopeful is a minimalist effort with stabbing beats and evocative synths gently erupting from the speaker as words drift in and out of the compositions. The New Yorker, real name Vanese Smith, is inventive in her music, creating an engrossing album for the softly spoken.
Robert Hood used inspiration of The Omega Man, a 1971 movie starring Charlton Heston, to produce a minimal techno tour de force last year, and his live shows went on to pass the same tense energy you got form the CD and amplified it onto the dancefloor for pulsating performances. This live version of the album re-explores Omega tracks and adds new elements along with new material for another blistering ride.
Get the carnival started with the head honcho of Man Recordings who releases his debut album Rambazamba with a blend of contemporary club sounds from around the world. While “Kewok” will be familiar with its quirky hook which you can’t quite shake out of your head once you’ve heard it, Haaksman is far more at home with percussion-based tunes that don’t pause for breath and leave a warm smile on your face. It’s as if Haaksman’s mindset is a constant street party, and that comes across in on this fun first offering.
Mark McGuire has put out a plethora of releases across an array of labels in his work as part of Emeralds alongside John Elliot and Steve Hauschildt, but concurrently there has also been an abundance of solo records, totalling something in the region of 35, just in the last 4 years. That this prodigious artist is still only 24 makes the feat all the more impressive but also goes some way to explain the situation. The high rate of output, in interesting contrast to the relaxed nature and pace of the majority of material, is partly due to the accessible, easily available and sometimes very quick means of production and distribution in the present musical era
New label EPM Music’s first artist album makes good on their implied intent from their first compilation to release forward-thinking electronic dance music. Lee J Malcolm’s Folded Spaces sees the Leeds-based, self-taught musician mix techno and IDM for a rewarding listen.
Bristol-based duo The Beekeepers reveal their downtempo stylings on debut album Apiculture. Scott “Boca 45” Hendy and DJ Parker are undoubtedly talented producers with dub, dubstep, hip hop and reggae featuring on this 12-track collection, however the promise of the early tunes fades as the pair’s initially original sound is watered down into album filler.
Xander Harris is the latest in a recent line of Not Not Fun horrorholics, following in the shapely footprints of the similarly soundtrack-influenced Umberto and Ensemble Economique. Given that the fella (aka Austin, Texas’ Justin Sweatt) is most probably named after the character in TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the impression before the off is that Urban Gothic might draw on a more modern era to the aforementioned labelmates – and though not quite recalling Buffy’s late 90s heyday, it does deal in horror sounds akin to more recent decades than the other artists’ Frizzi, Ortolani and Goblin-inspired giallo-scapes.
Disco doesn’t come much more love-filled than Kraak & Smaak’s third album, “Electric Hustle”. The trio of Wim Plug, Mark Kneppers and Oscar De Jong have long enjoyed success with their upbeat tunes that has seen them perform at Glastonbury, the Big Chill and Coachella, while Annie Nightingale has been a supporter of the band. For Electric Hustle they are joined by guest vocalists in the shape of house don Romanthony, New York funk legend Lee Fields, UK bluesman John Turrell, Dutch songstress Janne Schra, Lex Empress and the band’s MC Sebastian.
emptyset’s eponymous debut album was a challenging affair. Multiverse label boss James Ginzburg and DJ Paul Purgas took a bass-heavy approach to techno, experimenting with an album of what can best be described as sonic arrangements that would break from recognisable rhythms at will in favour of explosive drones. Sub-woofers needed to be guarded carefully for this duo were not messing around – if you think you’ve heard bass at a dubstep clubnight, you need to hear emptyset on the same system and you’ll demand your money back.
Get Physical’s co-owners Philip Jung and Patrick Bodmer, aka electronic duo M.A.N.D.Y, return the Body Language mixes to their roots by helming the 10th entry themselves, just as they did the first. Counting DJ T, Hell, Modeselektor and Matthew Dear among the artists to get behind the decks in the meantime, Volume 10 is a typically varied affair from M.A.N.D.Y. which takes in their love for downbeat, deep progressive vibes, electro, disco, tech house and inventive electronica.
Two years in the making, Key is Red Snapper’s seventh album as original members Rich Thair, Ali Friend and David Ayers are joined by jazz saxophonist Tom Callenger and vocalists Gavin Clarke (UNKLE) and Mercury Prize nominee Eliza Carthy. After nearly 20 years together with a brief break in the naughties, Red Snapper have been enjoying playing their music to a new generation including shows throughout Europe. It seems this has given them a new lease of life and following Pale Blue Dot released on Lo Recordings in 2008, Key sees them adopt a diverse range of styles inspired by their recent tours as they turn from acid jazz to more blissed out stylings.
The first release on former Faith No More bassist Bill Gould’s new Koolarrow label, The Talking Book is an engaging collaboration between Gould and sound artist Jared Blum (aka Blanketship and boss of Gigante Sound).
The record mostly deals in sparse atmospheres, experimental ambience and drone, to the more melancholic and doomy end of the spectrum including moods of sci-fi and horror or hinting at western expanses and post-industrial lanscapes.
One of two initial releases on new Editions Mego offshoot Spectrum Spools, A Sort of Radiance is the debut LP from Chicago’s Fabric, aka multi-instrumentalist Matthew Mullane. Run by Peter Rehberg but curated by John Elliot the imprint has a mission statement of releasing “current, past and future electronic music works of the highest order”. With that and its title in mind, A Sort of Radiance displays the kind of ambient wondrance that you might expect. A delight for fans of kosmische and new age ambience old and recent, Mullane crafts an array of synth/computer atmospheres, of varying length, texture and density across the LP.
Innovation doesn’t come along very frequently with electronica acts but Alembic, the latest alias of musician, producer, designer and animator Sam Norland, is a genuine treat for the ears that mixes hip hop, traditional African music and electronic beats into an organic blend of sweet sound for the ears. Evoking revered Warp acts Clark and Flying Lotus, Alembic adopts a trip hop rhythem for his tunes as six track EP Shadow Tapes lays down an impressive first wave of material.
rude_NHS releases his debut album A Hundred Sides following EP Tango6 back in 2009 with a flair for embracing varied dancefloor genres from drum and bass and electro to the more experiemental electronica stylings he’s known for. Clearly wanting to put his name to an album that you can rave to, A Hundred Sides is a fine offering.
Kabanjak and Dogu, aka DJ and production duo Ancient Astronauts, follow up their debut We Are To Answer with a collaborative mix of hip hop, funky breakbeat, dancehall raggae and smooth grooves on Into Bass and Time. Combining Kabanjak’s love of blues and Dogu’s passion for 90s hip hop funk, the album sees the duo adopt a kaleidoscope of styles for a futuristic trip.
Following up on the delightful A Handful of O on which Mr O introduced us to his embracing electronica, A Fistful of O is a far more industrial affair on which he delivers new material with a hard edge. The EP siblings share Mr O’s impeccable taste for melodies, only this latest release acts as a Mr Hyde to the previous Dr Jekyllwith dark, aggressive beats pummelling ear drums obscuring the soft underbelly.
Compiling unreleased tracks from the likes of Robert Hood, Orlando Voorn, Sandwell District and Alexander Robotnik for release doesn’t happen overnight, but EPM’s relationship with the artists on this collection celebrates 10 years of artist management, PR, club promotion, radio plugging, DJ booking, publishing and digital distribution with these and many more respected electronic acts. This album also marks the launch of EPM’s own record label and continues to build on its respected reputation of working with purveyors of fine electronic beats.
Home Video, aka New Orleans duo Collin Ruffin and David Gross, are high-school frinds who have been collaborating since their first video short in 1997. Inspired by Boards of Canada, Depche Mode and Massive Attack, their first album was released on Warp Records. Their follow-up sees them do the releasing themselves, and their inspiration for The Automatic Process evokes Thom Yorke’s The Eraser sound and, before that, Radiohead’s Kid A. Strange, then, that Warp would overlook the intimate moments their melodies and haunting vocals generate.
Chaim Avital became known for a seductive house sound with subtle Oriental flavour, but for his debut Alive, he’s moved towards a deeper, progressive sound with fondly developed melodies that enchant with a harder, more intense feel. The Israeli from Tel Aviv used to had a series of influential releases and a successful collaboration with house superstar Guy Gerber before turning attention to Alive which recalls the rave sound in Israel when he was a teenager.
One of net label Bit-Phalanx’s first ever recruits finally releases his debut solo EP. T-Toe’s Value of Form sees the trombone-tooting electronica act merge classical sounds with the more modern dubstep style to create moments of tranquility interspersed with moments that have an eye on the dancefloor. A mixture of archive tracks and live favourites, T-Toe’s strength is in his view that he has no roots so prefers to mix all his influcences together.
Electro-punk outfit The Bloody Beetroots have been a sensation live, donning wrestler masks for their high energy sets full of hoovers, grainy synths and a killer bassline. Their album Roborama featured guest including Steve Aoki (on their most recognised tune “Warp 1.9”), Cool Kids, Vicarious Bliss and Lisa Kekaula. Their taste for relentless beats has seen them in high demand for remix duties of the top names in electro so it comes as no surprise to see an official remix album make an appearance on the shelves as the band look to build on a successful 2010.
So Unreal, from ex-Pocahaunted femme Brown’s LA Vampires project, follows her awesome collaboration with Zola Jesus with another team-up, this time with Matrix Metals (aka Sam Meringue aka Outer Limits Recordings), and the pair have created a weird kind of lo-fi 80s party record. A bleached-out record without the typical pace that accompanies that decades’ drugs, money and showy lifestyles but taking on a mood of laid-back jams at mid-pace rhythms.
Nails are a three piece featuring Todd Jones (ex Terror), Taylor Young (Cremetorium) and John Gianelli and Unsilent Death is 10 tracks and 14 full-on minutes of brutal hardcore grind. The record, recorded at Kurt Ballou’s Godcity Recording Studio, has been previously released on two different labels on short runs but is now presented to the wider world via Southern Lord.
The joy of Part Chimp has often come from their ability to bury a catchy song within a brutal barrage of noise, though an accompanying pleasure has also been to get caught up in those moments where the dense, heady grooves are just more openly full-on. As you would perhaps hope then, the two track You Decide/Big Bird 7” gives a bit of both approaches, and pleases with each.