With the world of music still reeling from the new Daft Punk album it’s hard to believe that there’s loads of great new music out there desperately vying to be heard. With all the hype about this release you could easily come to the conclusion that all people want is a load of regurgitated pop-disco crap. Hopefully that is not the case and there will be many who’ll be excited at the mountain of fantastic new releases coming out this month. Boards of Canada, Gold Panda, Jagwar Ma, Lust For Youth and loads more are hitting us with epic sets that renew ones faith in loud guitars and crushing beats. By JOHN BITTLES
First up, and running those French robots pretty close in the hype department, we have the return of strange electronic chaps Boards of Canada. The fact that neither of the band are boards or Canadian shouldn’t be allowed to detract from the wealth of sublime music they have given us over time. New album Tomorrow’s Harvest is not only a fantastic achievement but it is also the duo’s first release in eight years. Utilising a marketing campaign to die for has ensured that the albums release was the most anticipated announcement since news of Then Jerico’s return, (or maybe that was just me). Hype etc is all very good, but the main question as always is, is the music any good? While the album cannot be defined as a massive progression from previous release Campfire Headphase it is still a strangely compelling and disorientating listen. Hushed electronics and spooky samples create a wonderfully evocative world that may not be for beginners but is sure to enchant and gratify those who search its haunted corridors for melodic delights.
Sounding like the cherished love-child of a Screamadelica era Primal Scream and an overly loved-up 60s pop group, Howlin’ the debut album by hotly tipped newcomers Jagwar Ma puts a smile on your face while good humouredly suggesting you get up on the floor and groove. The indie-dance genre has gained quite an atrocious reputation over the years but the music created by these two Australian lads might just be enough to make tired old cynics like myself change their minds. That Loneliness sounds like a lost Monkeys anthem if only they had discovered the delights of acid house, Four will rock any party you could care to mention, while The Throw is so sunny sounding it gave me a tan while listening to it on repeat. Clearly dance rhythms with guitars is nothing new, yet if you give this album a chance it is sure to win a place within your heart.
Those who want a lot more guitars in their rock should find much to enjoy in Clarietta by Charlie Boyer and the Voyeurs. This band have been bubbling along for a while now so if you haven’t heard of them before then feel free to hang your head in shame. They may not be the saviours of rock that NME etc crave but then again who could save that horribly bloated beast that we now call rock? Charlie Boyer and the Voyeurs’ music takes the glam rock of the 70s, mixes it liberally with some garage style grooves and lashings of art-punk attitude to create a fearsome rock behemoth that whispers sweet nothings in your ear while sneaking its hands down your pants. Is this a good thing? In my world it is! Just check out I Watch You, Be Glamorous or Go Blow a Gale to discover just how good this band are.
Gold Panda’s debut album saw him gain a lot of praise in the UK yet left this listener somewhat cold. Sure I could appreciate the soft leaning music that worked together with the naïve production style, yet, for me, there was something vital missing. Thankfully his new record Half Of Where You Live is much better! Out now on Ghostly International and sure to delight those who are into Four Tet or the more organic strains of house, the album positively bristles with laid-back emotion. Opening tune Junk City II immediately sounds like it should be soundtracking an epic scene in your favourite movie, while songs such as Brazil, Community and Enoshima wash over the listener with waves of positivity and emotion. The album was apparently influenced by the idea of the modern city which is evident in the record’s global influences that highlight the multi-cultural aspects of contemporary life. That this long-player is a lot easier to love than its predecessor makes it a very fine listen indeed.
Jon Convex’s label Convex Industries have systematically set about releasing some of the most absorbing and emotional electronic music of recent times. Idoru by Jon himself and the Wraetlic project by techno terrorist Alex Smoke took ice cold electro and gave it a loving human touch. Their next record is 36-26-36 by Femme En Fourrure which ably maintains the label’s previous high standards. Electronic gurgles and warm hearted synths mix splendidly with sweet and sexy samples to create a sharp and cheeky listen that simply seduces the listener into consenting to repeated plays.
If the pairing of Juan Atkins and Moritz Von Oswald doesn’t get your knickers overly twisted then may I deduce that you are not much of a fan of techno? This is no bad thing by the way, but when you consider the range of seminal records that these two have been responsible for in the past it is enough to make anyone feel a little bit faint. Borderland is out now on Berlin institution Tresor and sees our sonic scientists investigating jazz-shaped down-tempo moods. The album is a deep sensual experience that is much more suited to home plays than to a DJ looking to rock a club. The eight tracks blur together to create a gently soothing ambience that urges the listener to go deeper and deeper until they get lost within the grooves. Electric Dub, Footprints, and Digital Forest are mere highlights in a set that is something of a chin strokers wet dream.
If house music is more of your thing, then please check out Plaited by Karocel out on Freude Am Tanzen at the end of June. Its ten tracks contain a yearning warmth mixed with huge dollops of dancefloor goodness that is strong enough to make you think the sun is still shining while you shuffle your feet in a cold dank room. Watts has a rare funk vibe which is finger-clickingly good whereas Undo and Vox explore luscious deep house templates that have an almost Chicago like sheen. Some might find the album a bit too smooth and over-produced yet for me it’s like a little slice of aural heaven that is a delight from beginning to end.
Title track Water opens up the debut album by Muscovite Anton Zap with stilted chords and a wickedly bubbling bass that combine beautifully to make even the coldest of hearts swoon. That this is music to get completely lost in may well be a cliché but in this case it is absolutely true. This is a set that will work when you are lying in the sun on a hot summer’s day, sitting at home contemplating the world, looking for a nice set of warm-up tunes, or after you’ve had a long stressful day. Pieces such as Road Trip Song and Captain Storm up the pace slightly from the album’s general languid glide and help maintain a rich and varied tone. Yet this is about as far from head-fuck techno as it is possible to get since there is a sense of stillness and tranquillity that settles over each and every track. I have already used this album many times to calm down my overly hysterical cat. And I can’t think of a better recommendation than that.
The label Ostgut Ton are on such shit hot form right now that they could release six minutes of dogs howling and I would still be tempted to give it a couple of plays. Luckily Marcel Fengler’s album Fokus is a far more pleasurable experience than that! What it does contain is eleven tracks of experimental techno that do what so little music does nowadays; shock and surprise. Opener Break Through is eerie sounding in its dark ambience while Mayria and The Stampede use percussion in such a unique way that it literally makes you gasp in delight. For those of you who consider themselves sonic explorers, I cannot recommend this album enough.
Coming out on Smallville in July Disconnect to Connect by Steven Tang may not take you to places you haven’t been before but it is a good solid collection of the type of deep house that can’t help but make you move. Interstice is lush ambience, while the title track sounds like classic Chicago house if it was having a quick nap. Some Solace sounds almost like classic Warp whereas Eternal and Sunspot feature sweet synth swirls that feel like an aural massage. A debut album has been a long time coming from Mr Tang. Lets hope we don’t have to wait so long for the follow-up.
Recalling the glory days of trance when a certain Mr Paul Van Dyke was king, 1977 the debut album by Rene Reilly Kölsch is a glorious thing indeed. Opener Goldfisch is mere minutes in before hands are in the air and a cheeky grin has swept its way all over your face. This is emotional dance music which has seemingly been custom created for glowsticks and having a good time. This together with the fact that the album contains more hooks than needed to catch a killer whale could well make 1977 the feel-good album of the summer. Bappedeckel sounds like Paul Kalkbrenner while Der Alte recalls the joyousness of 90s style piano house. Overall this is mighty fine party music that may not do much for the cerebral matter but is quite content concentrating on the movement of feet.
Finally we have Perfect View by Lust for Youth on one of my favourite record labels right now Sacred Bones. To say that this record sounds like nothing else around doesn’t even begin to cover just how ‘out there’ this album is. Part of it is rave, some of it is rock without the guitars, while the entire set sounds like some sort of mesmerising mess. Most songs are instrumental yet some feature Hannes Norrvide shouting inanities over music so fresh sounding that you simply want to pluck it from the vine. If you haven’t already guessed I am pretty much in love with this album and I think you owe it to yourself to have a listen before everyone else realises just how good this guy really is.
And to think I never had time to mention such great releases as the gorgeously melancholic You Will Find That Life Is Wonderful EP by Sad City, or the intriguing and equally disappointing The Keys by Matt John on Cocoon. Then there is the fabulously funky Them Crowd Kids by Quell and the timeless sonic delights of With Love by Zomby on 4AD. Oh wait, I just have!
»Borderland2« Photo: Marie Staggat
| JOHN BITTLES