A name synonymous with Ibiza, Sven Väth has been visiting the island since his teens, evolving his experiences into the Cocoon night now entrenched in Ibiza club folklore. Väth’s nights at Amnesia are celebrated affairs and for this mix of tunes bringing together the sounds of his eleventh season on the party isle, he delves into his record collection to provide a taster of its atmosphere as nearly three hours of music forms a musical diary featuring regulars such as Speedy J, Plaid and Jacek Sienkiewicz alongside newcomers like BDI and Kabale und Liebe.
Bang Face favourite The Squire of Gothos are a duo who echo the club night’s ethos of providing neo-rave Armageddon. Mashing up hardcore, dubstep, jungle and techno their bassline rave is awash with humour, the pair never taking themselves too seriously, resulting in a debut album full of dancefloor mayhem with all four of their feet firmly on the gas.
The opening stabbing shanks of bass on the a-side title track comes on like The Walker Brothers’ “The Electrician”, offering all of the same intensity, but instead of the morose croon, the track continues to stir with keys and guitar coming on almost orchestral over the drone, and echoing vocals appearing as another texture in the muddied, spacey sound, altogether like some garage psych band who’ve continued the adventure despite the downward nature of the trip – Bobby Beausoleil’s Free Doom Orchestra perhaps.
Italian Daniele Gaudi has been fusing dub, world and nu-beat since the early 1980s and more recently has been enjoying a purple patch which has seen him nominated for a BBC World Music Award for his Dub Qawwali album collaborated with French musical inventor Michel Moglia which led to him performing to a crowd of 350,000 at The Coliseum in Rome and also worked with Grandmaster Flash among others. For No Prisoners he continues to pick an impressive array of talent to produce an album with reggae roots that draws on electronica, dubstep and breakbeat for an uplifting ride with political overtones.
Tectonic’s moody dubstep has been a breathe of fresh air for the dubstep scene this year as 2562 and label boss Pinch have been on fine form. Now its Jack Sparrow’s turn to move from singles to a full album, eclipsing his labelmates and established acts such as Burial and Martyn with lovingly-crafted tunes which encapsulate house and jungle into a dubstep model which is pushes to its limits.
When an artist brands his own music as “spazzcore fuckstep”, you have to approach their music with a little trepidation. Bristol-based breakcore mentalist, the ludicriously named Kramer vs. Kramer vs. Godzilla (aka KvKvG), is unafraid to present raw sounds as he skips through breakcore, electronica and gabber with abandon on a dark musical journey. Rarely is there a dull moment on Pomeranian in what is a madcap debut.
What do you get if you cross a DJ famed for championing dancefloor remixes with a musician with a penchant for techno-noise? Why, Losers of course! The teaming up of XFM’s Eddy Temple-Morris with Tom Bellamy of 1990s band The Cooper Temple Clause is a fusion of two men with similar takes on dance music – namely, that it should be a pumping joyride. This debut album, Beautiful Losers, is a lot of fun, though you feel they could do with a little more creative input to give their sound more depth.
Hoping to repeat for dubstep what Pendulum did for drum & bass, Truth are another dance act from Down Under about to make waves in the UK, only this time they hail from New Zealand rather than Australia. The deep riddims of Truth’s debt Puppets will have your bass speakers shaking your walls if the volume’s turned up even half way so with half-step stompers and thick layers of sound enlightened by enchanted vocals, it’s an accomplished effort.
Watching the Detroit Grand Pubahs perform live in Spain at Robert Hood’s launch of his Omega album was quite a spectacle. The mask wearing performers broke out the live saxophone for a sound sensation – rarely do electronic music and sax go together, let alone in a live show, but that’s exactly what the Detriot Grand Pubahs revel in doing – the least expected. Hence their fourth album Madd Circus is exactly that: a crazy show featuring all manner of genres mashed together and presented in their most entertaining form.
I never thought I would hear myself saying this, but there is something Lady Gaga about Wildbirds & Peacedrums third album Rivers. Worry not fans of the Swedish art-folksters — the duo have not gone all over-produced Madonna inspired pop on us, but vocally Mariam Wallentin shows echoes of the Gaga. This is not necessarily a bad thing, with Rivers demonstrating a more mainstream approach, comparisons to the current phenomenon will not go amiss. That said, a far more appropriate and striking comparison needs to be made first. Even in recent press photos, Mariam Wallentin is merging with the well respected Regina Spektor. There stripped back warblings are equally moving and inspiring. And I won’t even start on Tori Amos.
In principal there is nothing wrong with Drown You Heart Again, the debut full-length album from Portsmouth quintet The Strange Death Of Liberal England. Aided by famed New Order and Depeche Mode producer Dave Allen, the oddly named collection (their name is derived from the 1935 George Dangerfield book of the same name), the group Uncut declared “God’s own orchestra”, sound just like every other band who is hailed as the new indie hero. Drown Your Heart Again, while perfectly listenable, is totally uninspired and genially generic.
The Bit-Phalanx acts release one last collection of remixes for Finnish electro pop minx HK119 resulting from their remix album Fast And Cheap Mixes. This digital bonus EP of the haunting track, “Space Pt.1” is handed to Jilk, Jash, T-Toe and more to put glitch, abstract, IDM, folktronic and dark dubstep twists on the original.
Leeds based instrument swapping trio Quack Quack formed in 2005 and have since built up an enviable live reputation. Pair their fierce live rep with an enviably talented drummer — Neil Turpin (formerly Bilge Pump, Polaris and HiM) and oddly titled album Slow As An Eyeball is an exciting proposition.
Chus and Ceballos are famed for their Iberican sound — a rhythmic, percussive electronic house with a touch of soul stemming from the Iberian peninsula between Spain and Portugal. The duo’s Back on Tracks mix for Nervous Records is full of their trademark vocals over hypnotising, warm and inviting tribal soundscapes heard all over the globe in clubbing hotspots Montreal, New York and Miami.
Spaniard David Tort’s love for American house music has a soulful flavour heard on this mix for Nervous Records, the latest in their series of major DJ showcases and taking the baton from Tom Stephan’s selection. This year Tort has celebrated becoming a resident at Miami’s Space and has a fair few firsts to his name: he’s the first DJ to be sponsored by Nike together with being the fist (and only) DJ to be invited to play at the Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills. Here he provides evidence he’s got a musical ear that has earned these privileges with a varied tune selection that’s solid if unspectacular.
This efficiently produced pop-drum’n’bass makes a big play out of its old-skool inspiration and credentials, but in reality is a commercial-friendly version of the original raging junglist sound.
When German brothers Ali and Basti Schwarz joined rhythmic forces to become Tiefschwarz, or deep black, in 1997, the deep house duo put the then-sleepy Stuttgart on the map as a top nightlife destination and released debut album RAL9005. Ten years on and they’ve become a London favourite on their way to international acclaim for their progressive style. Having worked with Depeche Mode, Madonna and Spektrum among many others, they bring us a sweet treat in the form of third LP Chocolate, a smooth and deliciously dark slab of audio enjoyment.
Bristol’s thriving and ever-evolving music scene has many of the labels of choice for innovative electronic music with Multiverse at the centre. Formed in 2004, it’s network of labels includes Tectonic, Kapsize, Earwax, Caravan and Build, exploring sonic possibilities and delivery. This compilation celebrates the five years since its inception with 28 tracks over two CDs featuring luminaries such as Vex’d, Pinch, emptyset, 2562, Skream, Joker and Loefah providing choice heaviness.
Returnal’s opening track “Nil Admirari” is, unconventionally for Oneohtrix Point Never, full of distorted noise, glitchy metallic growls, dulled clatterings and hiss. The more expected echoing repetitions are here percussive and when becoming toned and almost like a melody are forced to compete for space to cut through the mass of scrawl and noise.
Due to a lactose intolerance, it’s rare that anything to do with cheese doesn’t make me feel queasy at the thought of it – and that goes for cheesy music as much as cheesy food. But the cheese-loving duo of Ost & Kjex are just too irrepressible to dislike. After seeing them by chance in Fabric’s cosy Room Three back in 2008, I was instantly hooked on their house and techno beats smoothed in Mr Ost’s high-pitched vocals. This, their second album, sees Ost & Kjex make a gospel house sound their own as they continue to share their love of cheese, though they’re careful to keep it only a mild feature in their sound if not their diet.
Crush Depth is the second full-length from the twelve-piece genre-bending phenomenon Chrome Hoof. Reportedly telling the story of a spaceship’s final moments before destruction, all from the perspective of “a lone ship’s biscuit” the record is expectedly a strange journey down a loud and intense path.
Robert Hood’s latest artist album is based on the 1971 classic science fiction film The Omega Man starring Charlton Heston and inspired by Richard Matheson’s 1954 novel I Am Legend (which was recently re-adapted into a blockbuster starring Will Smith). While the album is not a soundtrack to the movie, it does evoke the same sense of loneliness and danger that features throughout, and his minimal stylings make for a delectable encounter with a futuristic techno theme.
Bristol’s Caravan Recordings follow up the debut album of minimalist techno act emptyset with an inventive take on underground disco from Antoni Maiovvi. The Thorns of Love is Maiovvi’s third album of psychotronic dance built on layered soundscapes which tease you in until you are completely immersed and at their mercy. Billed as a Liebes-Arie to a broken heart, there is Italian drama and euphoric fear fixated on creating a lush and atmospheric album.
A Guy Called Gerald returns to Berlin’s Laboratory Instinct label with the follow-up to 2006’s Proto Acid: The Berlin Sessions. Tronic Jazz sees him emerge from a couple of years flitting through shadows on labels such as Perlon, Beatstreet and Sender like a peripatetic prophet of the Berlin underground. Where Proto Acid offered a seamless mix of 24 cuts, recorded in one epic session, the 13 tracks here are standalone giving them individual character harking back into his past and looking into the future of acid house and techno.
South London’s Mr O has been developing his brand of deep, melodic gitch electronica for many years now and is reaching a level of maturity matched by his confidence to take ambiance and combine it with the hustle and bustle of multi-layered, scattered beats. The influence of pioneering acts such as Autechre is easily identifiable on this selection of five tunes from his back catalouge, though he exhibits a gentler, softer approach here than the Warp stalwarts.