Ah, November! That time of year when you can still get good music before the tidal wave of cash-in best offs, and albums your granny might like begin flooding the market (hello Keane and The Killers). By JOHN BITTLES
As such there are some fantastic releases coming out right now that are so good they can send shivers up the spine. Either that, or it’s just the cold! We’ve got the futuristic footwork of DJ Rashad, the sonic ambience of Laurel Halo, the crazed house of Sano, the emotive electronica of Kaito, and much, much more. So, if you’ve recently lost your affection for music then have a read, have a listen and rediscover that love!
First up we have the fucked-up house of Gardland! Now, if you haven’t discovered the output of the label RVNG yet then please find an innocent child right now and ask them to kick you on the shin. You deserve it! The sublime Stellar Om Source album from earlier this year was pretty damn divine, yet, if anything Syndrome Syndrome by newcomer Gardland is even better! Alex Murray and Mark Smith work together seamlessly to create introspective techno and house with swathes of emotion so good it could make even the mighty Carl Craig suffer fits of jealousy. Over eleven tracks the listener is treated to a wealth of rhythmic complexities, mournful synths and the type of tunes that could make absolutely anybody fall head over heels in love with house music. It really is that good!
Fans of house music are really being spoilt this month since – as well as the album above – we also have Dancers by Tim Paris. Out right about now on that label for all things funky My Favorite Robot, the record ably demonstrates Tim’s status as one of the most talented and individual producers of these increasingly dangerous times. Rain has a wonderful analogue feel, while opening track Golden Ratio has a gorgeous sense of sadness skilfully reflected in the vocals of Georg Levin. Guest vocalists feature heavily in a set which is smooth, funky and has more than enough going on to warrant repeated listens a few years from now. Minireach with its gloriously sleazy vocals really has to be heard to be believed!
No less essential is Threads, the fourth album from former drum ‘n’ bass head Om Unit. With this record he has decided to slightly decrease the pace which means tracks like Folding Shadows, Healing Rain and Deep Sea Pyramids revel in the beautifully deep production values that recall the post dubstep vibes of Mount Kimbie and Burial. The languid pace is a real head-nodding delight and perfect for moments of quiet contemplation staring out the window on a cold rainy day. Basslines throb, beats skitter in and out of the mix, while guest singers are used sparingly in order to create a warm, intimate feel. All this adds up to what will quite rightly be one of my albums of the year!
If synth-pop with a large dose of introspection is more of your thing then let me introduce you to the so eighties sounding Miracle by Mercury. The fact that the duo consist of Daniel O’Sullivan from Grumbling Fur and Steve Moore from Zombi lets you know straight away that you’re more than likely in for a treat. Using influences as diverse as Friendly Fires, Human League, Kraftwerk and italo horror soundtracks the duo create something that totally immerses you into their unsafe, slightly paranoid world. This is a good thing of course! So, for all those thousands of people out there who wish that Depeche Mode still sounded like they did back in the day – this might well be the album for you!
The discerning music connoisseur may deem footwork to be little more than a poor man’s dubstep! Yet, there is no denying that some of the most thrilling and downright funk-filled music being created right now fits very neatly into this genre. As if to prove this point we have the rather excellent Double Cup by DJ Rashad! While some of his earlier releases have sounded a bit too raw and unpolished for these delicate little ears his debut album for Hyperdub takes the footwork template to serve us fourteen instalments of the type of music that makes you want to punch the air in delight. This is the perfect album to play when you want to feel a little ›street‹, or if you just want to impress your achingly cool hipster friends!
Also out on the ever reliable Hyperdub label is Chance Of Rain by the sonic experimentalist Laurel Halo. Creating a work that is both pushing boundaries and accessible isn’t easy for even the most gifted of producers, so the fact that Laurel Halo pulls this off with such aplomb marks her out as very talented indeed. More ambient-based than some of her previous work, tracks such as Oneiroi and Serendip contain rhythmic complexities that could make Autechre scratch their heads in both confusion and awe. This is far from an uneasy listen though since there is genuine warmth and a hint of playfulness here that subtlety grabs a hold of the listener until they unconsciously find themselves doing a little jiggle in their seat. Head music for your mind, your heart and your feet!
For those of you who like a bit of emotion with you beats Until The End Of Time by Kaito brilliantly combines house and ambience to mesmerising effect. Out now on Kompakt (swoon) the album’s ten tracks may not be a departure from his signature sound, yet they contain such an overflow of sentiment that the songs could cause Bastian Schweinsteiger to break down in tears. And while the record may feel a little light-weight in comparison to some of the other releases we have this month, to miss out on this would be an unforgivable loss.
If you only know the name Luke Slater through the nosebleed techno of his Planetary Assault System guise then prepare yourself for a very pleasant surprise. As L.B. Dub Corp he has given us Unknown Origin, ten echo-drenched tracks of the deepest, most profound techno known to man. Dub is, of course, a big influence here with huge subs, throbbing bass, and some roots based lyrics giving the LP a real reggae like feel. Yet, that is only half the story since piano house makes an appearance, as do techno synths and even the odd cheeky snippet of acid. What this all adds up to is Mr Slater’s most complete and enjoyable album since his 7th Plain project many moons ago. More, please!
Hinterland, the debut album by Berlin-based sound-smith Recondite will be in your friendly record emporium from the 11th of November, and a mighty fine listen it is too! Sounding not unlike some particularly vivid, glacial dream, the record resembles a quiet, fragile thing. Ghostly soundscapes and subtle melodies shift eerily in and out of the mix to create a sense of stillness and wonder that stays with you long after the last track ends. Fans of ambient and superior soundtrack work should really check this out!
Sometimes it seems like you need to have a degree in quantum physics and/or aural science to truly appreciate any release on the record label Pan. Niaiw Ot Vile, the new album by Dalglish at first seems like the perfect case in point, containing ten tracks of what, on initial listen, appears to be impenetrable noise. Out of tune strings are plucked randomly, synths drone purposefully, and somehow the whole thing can appear a tad arch. But if you play it on headphones in the dead of night you can suddenly hear those textures burst beautifully into life, making it a true treat for the headz.
If you’re old enough to remember the heyday of UK Garage then the name Nice ‘N’ Ripe will instil wistful memories of bouncing basslines and full-throated vocals seemingly designed to ensure you throw your hands in the air like you just don‘t care. Now the label has re-emerged from the house music wilderness with a label retrospective that has been lovingly compiled and mixed by those cheeky yet talented chaps Soul Clap. What we get is 30 (yes, 30) tracks spread over two cds that express everything good about 2step before it fell under the wheels of commercialisation and gross overuse. Grant Nelson, Strictly Dubz, Urban Myths and more treat us to a carnival for the ears. If you only buy one seminal UK garage comp mixed by Soul Clap this week make sure it’s this one!
Comeme can always be relied upon to release songs that sound utterly unique yet still make you want to dance around the room like a loon. The eponymous album by Columbia based artist Sano is no different! Anestesia opens proceedings with a low bass and a less-is-more aesthetic that instantly has you unashamedly shuffling your feet and wiggling your butt. What follows is track after track of house-based goodness that has you grinning wildly one minute before mouthing »What the fuck is this?« the next.
And finally, we have Treasure Hunting vol 2, a compilation of low-down, sleazy house and techno that throbs and wobbles in all the right places. Out now on Astro Lab Recordings tunes by Marc Pinot, The Deadstock ‘33’s, Hiem and David Shaw and the Beat sound like exactly the sort of thing you would expect Andrew Weatherall to play in some dingy Shoreditch basement. And trust me when I tell you that there is no higher praise than that!
And to think we never had time for: Justus Kohncke & The Wonderful Frequency Band – just as bonkers as it sounds, Eve by Booka Shade – a beautiful slice of emotive house, Bitter Rivals by Sleigh Bells – proof of the law of diminishing returns, Shangri La by Jake Bugg – a good present for your grandad if he’s given up on life, Third Culture by Noah Pred – a delightful house based stew and Pure Heroine by Lorde – Lana Del Rey lite, but not bad.
| JOHN BITTLES