Bittles‘ Magazine | Record Review
As Autumn wraps her chilly arms around the country we look to music for the comfort that we can no longer get from happiness or the sun. Luckily, this time of year tends to be when great new bands get off their asses and go out on tour, while it also seems like there is another fantastic new album to delight us every single day. By JOHN BITTLES
In fact, there are so many great new releases this month that there is absolutely no chance of squeezing them into one single article. This week alone I will be reviewing Caribou, Gui Boratto, The 2 Bears, A Winged Victory For The Sullen, and tons more. While, next week we’ll have new albums by Slam, Distal, Huxley, DJ Koze among others. So, make yourself comfy, turn off the phone, geta nice glass of wine, and let us begin.
As lead single ›Can’t Do Without You‹ won both our hearts and minds this summer it is only fair to commence with ›Our Love‹, the much anticipated follow-up to ›Swim‹ by Caribou. The aforementioned ›Can’t Do Without You‹ opens proceedings in, sadly, edited form, yet that doesn’t stop it from being one of the most touchingly beautiful four minute pop song you are likely to hear all year. Next track ›Silver‹ keeps the emotional trance elements to the fore, while alternate sounds are explored with ›All I Ever Need‹ utilizing UK Garage style bass over Dan’s falsetto and the title track›‹ recalling a time when the Es were good, and hugging strangers was par for the course. The second half features the Jessy Lanza collaboration ›Second Chance‹, while ›Julia Brightly‹ swells and throbs like the dance is never gonna end. The album finishes on a high with ›Back Home’s‹ indie-tronica before ›Your Love Will Set You Free‹ makes you feel unbelievably glad to be alive. If you haven’t heard this already then there is no excuse for delays.
Imagine finding yourself in a world where everything is achingly beautiful. But, each time you reach out to touch anything it skips away, leaving you back in the loneliness of your room. Still, the sights, smells and sounds are so enchanting you could spend the rest of your life there without a moment of regret. ›Autumn Bells‹, the new album by Gidge would form the perfect soundtrack for this experience. Sounding like an aural representation of our most evocative dreams, the album’s heart-stopping melodies and soft-focus beats collide in a record that is, perhaps, the best thing I have heard all year. ›You‹ and ›Dusk‹ sound like dub techno done with heart and soul, ›I Fell In Love‹ recalls the melancholy ambience of Moby, while ›Huldra‹ is slowed-down trance so good it can make you fall in love with the genre all over again. I really can’t recommend this enough!
›The Night is Young‹ by The 2 Bears may not be as essential as the first two albums reviewed, yet it is undoubtedly a lot of fun. Joe Goddard and Raf Rundell’s follow-up to 2012’s ›Be Strong‹ is out on the 11th of October and sees the duo attempt what can best be described as cross-pollination house. Gospel house, dub, reggae, techno, ska and more get thrown into the mix in a collection of songs where you simply don’t know what is going to come next. While the first half of the album is made up of predictable and safe vocal house numbers like ›Get Out‹ and the single, ›Angel (Touch Me),‹ it is in the second half where things really get going. ›Modern Family‹ attaches skewed sonics to Raf’s thoughtful lyrics in a mid-paced gem, ›Mary Mary‹ has a lush downbeat dub chug, while ›Run Run Run‹ is dark reggae at its very best. ›My Queen‹ is a dancefloor bomb, the title track is a sliver of sun-kissed Balearica, leaving it to ›Sleepwalking‹ to finish things off resembling James Blake with a stiffy. An album of two halves that is best enjoyed with the skip button to hand.
Cologne institution ›Kompakt‹ are so shit-hot right now that you are almost scared to play their releases in case they set the decks on fire. A case in point is ›Abaporu‹, the new album from label mainstay and laid-back trance warrior, Gui Boratto. Soaring melodies and glorious synth-work are the order to the day in an album which sparkles and shimmers even as it drips and heaves with the sweat of the club. The opening trio of songs: ›Antropofagia, Joker‹ and ›Please Don’t Take Me Home‹ are so warm and euphoric sounding that even I almost broke into a smile. Easily his best LP since ›Chromophoria‹, if you are already aware of his work then you probably have this already. But if you don’t then I highly recommend you give it a go.
Over the last few years ›Kranky‹ have released some of the finest downbeat music known to man. This October they present the impressively immersive soundscapes of ›Atmos‹, the new album by the superbly named A Winged Victory For The Sullen. Completely all-enveloping and jaw-droopingly beautiful, the album’s twelve pieces resemble modern classical, ambient and the soundtrack of your dreams. Created as a score for a ballet, the music is so strong, and emotionally rich that it really doesn’t need any visuals in order to come alive. Brimming with a sense of sadness and resignation these tracks contain a heartfelt yearning that haunts you throughout your days. In a good way of course!
London’s ›Houndstooth‹ label have been slipping out a seemingly endless supply of top-notch electronic goodies over the last couple of years. So much so that they have firmly stepped out of the shadow of sister institution ›Fabric,‹ to become a global brand in their own right. This October they give us ›Double Divide‹, the debut album by Alec Storey under his Second Storey guise. Better known as Al Tourettes, ›Double Divide‹ sees him investigate a world of dense, glitch-filled IDM style electronica that will be an instant turn-on for those who like their music cerebral, arrhythmical and deep. Perhaps a bit complex for some, the album is at its best when adopting the more sedate pacing of tracks like ›Reserved‹ and ›Chordelia‹. An interesting listen rather than essential, this is about as far away from pop music as it is possible to get.
Much better, and also out on ›Houndstooth‹ right about now is the rather excellent ›Suzi Ecto‹ by Call Super. Elements of ambient, house, techno, bass, and broken beat collide in an album so futuristic sounding that you have to check the date on the newspaper to ensure you haven’t, once again, time-travelled by mistake. ›Dovetail‹ is super-deep electronica that exists in a dusty haze while ›Sulu Sekou‹ has such a relaxed air that my stereo gave up the ghost for half an hour so it could have a nice rest. ›Fold Again At Last‹ creates a series of beautiful sounds from the most unlikely of sources, which leaves it to ›Acephale I‹ to end the record by creating an eerie world which we can almost recognise even though it seems completely different from our own. A gorgeous head-trip of a record!
Continuing ›Hyperdub’s‹ epic10th anniversary celebrations is the third part of their series of compilations ›Hyperdub 10.3.‹ While the first part focused on the dance floor, and part two on soul inflected songs, volume three highlights the murky, twilit world of ambient and beatless experiments which are often the highlight of many a ›Hyperdub‹ release. Tracks from Burial, Dean Blunt, Kode 9, Lee Gamble, Ikonika and more entice the listener into a strange world where shadows creep up behind you, and nothing is quite as it seems. All of which make this a great collection of tracks perfect for when you fancy a brain massage, or just want to freak out your friends.
Moving on slightly from his imperious previous LP ›Neo Neo Acid‹, ›Ode‹ exposes a more versatile side of producer Tin Man. That’s not to say that the sublime, melancholy 303 laced techno with which he made his name is absent! ›No New Violence‹ is stunningly deep, with the acid melody gently crying forlornly into your ear, while ›Memorphillia‹ is a soft, seductive affair, and the title track ›Ode‹ is a spooky, all enveloping piece of techno that recalls ›Musik‹ era Plastikman. In contrast, ›In Your System‹ uses the 303 sparingly to create a dense brooding vibe, ›Vertigo‹ examines a cold and alien world of Detroit techno while the vocal versions at the end of the album find Tin Man in surprisingly fine voice. Maybe not up there with ›Neo Neo Acid‹, yet, for those who like it deep, ›Ode‹ has much to admire.
This week we will finish as we began; with some emotion laden trance music good for soothing those difficult to reach parts of your heart and soul. ›Transition‹ is the debut LP from Egokind and Ozean, and is out now on the ever reliable record label ›Traum‹. The album was recorded using elements of guitar, Rhodes, piano together with severely manipulated vocals, which were then moulded and transformed into the type of electronic music which will sit just as well in darkened clubs, festival fields, or headphones during the journey home. As both artists study in the ›School Of Arts‹ in Berlin they really know how to craft a special moment or two in a song. Over the course of the record we get a rich, textured sound spread over fifteen impeccably produced tracks with ›Silverbird Wake Me Up‹ and ›Diamond Days‹ being more than good enough to take home to meet your Mum.
A special mention must also go to: ›With One Another‹ by Massimilano Pagliara – sublime house music that is for much more than just for the club, ›Balance 26‹ mixed by Hernan Cattaneo – A very nice compilation of melody rich electronic music with the down-tempo first disc being especially good, ›The Seers of Cosmic Visions‹ by Hieroglyphic Being – Out on ›Hyperdub‹, this is tough as nails house music, which, while slightly one-dimensional, will find favour with those who like this sort of thing, ›Wonder Where We Land‹ by SBTRKT – some top tunes in an album which is easy to like, but not so easy to love, and ›Kallias 01‹ mixed by Bebetta – A fun funky/minimal house compilation that’s not afraid of a cheesy vocal or two.