Music | Bittles’ Magazine: The music column from the end of the world
After a short break, during which I twiddled my thumbs, baked cakes and listened to nothing but the sound of silence, I’m back with some great new albums to meet all your listening needs. Unless you have been eagerly awaiting the new Cliff Richard record there is bound to be something for you here. By JOHN BITTLES
We have the dub-laden dream-states of Deepchord, the seductive electronic urgings of Chloé and Lee Gamble, the 80s funk strut of Krikor Kouchian, some beat inspired ambiance from submerse, the lush techno rhythms of Midland and Extrawelt, and lots more.
So, prick up those ears and let us begin…
This week we’ll begin with the new offering from Rod Modell, a producer who has been creating spacious techno and deep dubscapes for over a quarter of a century. This autumn he returns to his renowned Deepchord alias with a brand new LP of patient rhythms, rich electronica and warming bass. Out now on Soma Records, Auratones contains twelve tracks high on atmosphere and depth. More beat focused than some of Rod’s recent ambient leaning releases, Auratones has an easy organic feel which seems to enrich your very soul. After the radio static intensity of Fog Hotel, Moving Lights utilizes a gentle rhythm track to stunning effect. Another early highlight is Wind In Trees, a song so deep you are scared to listen too intently for fear of getting completely lost within its groove. From here, Portofino is gloriously trippy, Underwater Galaxies has a mesmerising propulsive thrust, while Signals ends proceedings on a shiver inducing high. Indulgent and engrossing, Auratones is a record which won’t let you down. 9/10.
Former Kill The DJ artist Chloé returns to the long-player format this month with the slow, techno throb of Endless Revisions. Released on her own Lumière Noire imprint, the record explores an experimental yet accessible series of sounds which meld steady 70s influenced grooves with house and more. Opener Solarhys is short and pastoral, resembling a new age record with its soft pipes and hazy synths. Next, Outer Space sounds like Boards Of Canada given a healthy dollop of bass, while the dislocated voices and angular funk of third track Recall Feat. Ben Shemie have but the merest hint of a beat. Because It’s There is fantastically lush, containing a subtlety and a sense of depth stunning to behold. Other picks include the dark pop masterpiece Androgyne, which uses the whispered urgings of Alain Chamfort to discomfiting effect, the eerie soundtrack inspired Nuit Noire, and the melodic rush of lead single The Dawn. Endless Revisions is a record which will find favour with adventurous spirits and anyone seeking cerebral stimulation and emotional resonance with their beats. 9/10.
Next up we have the slick boogie funk of Krikor Kouchian. His new album Pacific Alley is out now on the always reliable L.I.E.S. Records imprint and is composed of eleven retro tinged jams. With a touch of Drexciya here, early Prince there, these largely instrumental songs conjure a world of images in the mind. Onda Vaselina opens side one in fine style, a slow melancholy drenched ride into the loneliness of neon lit nights. The excellent Reyes Del Barrio follows, tipping its hat to the more experimental side of 70s disco with an elastic sounding synth line, spoken word vocals and a sense of exotic sleaze. In other words, it’s great! Further in, Zulette is a heady low BPM master class which brings to mind open topped cruisers, huge portable stereos, and lounging in the sun, White Snow is a classy slice of laid back funk, while Niños Matadores has a bassline guaranteed to get even the most committed of wallflowers shuffling their feet. With every track formed of analogue gold, Pacific Alley simply begs for repeated plays. 8.5/10.
Always short and sweet, the music of submerse is something of a joy. On Are You Anywhere, his second LP for the reliably excellent Berlin imprint Project Mooncircle, the Tokyo based producer blends hazy hip hop, electronica and more with aplomb. Out now as a limited edition green coloured vinyl there is an air of misty eyed nostalgia to the majority of the album’s twelve tracks. Sleepover opens the record with some blunted beats and a lazy call to arms. Next up, Needs More Z’s is gloriously sunny, sounding like it could be heard in the opening credits to a drugged up version of Miami Vice. Other gems include the gently probing sexiness of Firstbase, the sedate 80s funk of Driving With Cosmopolyphonic, the stuttering slow jam of Wavedash, and the hushed majesty of the title track. Beautifully playful and sedate from start to finish, Are You Anywhere is a record designed to help you escape these stressed-out times. 8/10.
The Fabric mix series has been on a bit of a roll in 2017. From Steffi’s journey into the heart of electro and IDM to Midland’s joyful amalgamation of techno and house, each instalment of the long-running compilation series has been bloody ace. This October sees German house legend Roman Flügel step up with a gloriously eclectic selection for Fabric 95. The mix begins with the warm synth pulse of White Sky by Genesis P-Orridge & Psychic TV, before quickly morphing into the plaintive house of RoRic by RiRom and the crazed funk of Benjamin Fröhlich’s Long Journey remix of Tuff City Kids and Joe Goddard’s Tell Me. From here, the set takes in the deep acid of Oblivious Pool by Koehler, the choral driven rush of Pional’s take on Comes Home by Pale Blue, the ethereal crunk of Touch Absence (Intimidating Stillness Mix) by Lanark Artefax, the hypnotising strains of Birth Of Saturn by Solitary Dancer and more. Although there is the odd curveball which doesn’t quite work, Roman Flügel’s Fabric 95 is a mix dripping with personality. 8/10.
This month we’ll finish with the melodic techno thump of Extrawelt. Fear Of An Extra Planet is out now on Sven Väth’s esteemed Cocoon Recordings and finds the duo of Arne Schaffhausen and Wayan Raabe in excellent form. Completing the trilogy of albums started with Schöne Neue back in 2008 their new album retains the depth of production and the marriage of trance melodies with techno sensibilities with which the band originally made their name. Superposition is a great opener, its slow burn groove and steady 4/4 kick stimulating heart, feet and mind. Other picks include the loose and funky Oddification, the deeply hypnotic Das Grosse Flimmern, the gorgeously heartfelt sci fi soundscapes of Punch The Dragon, and the epic closer 2084. Resembling a soundtrack which never was, Fear Of An Extra Planet is aurally lush, yet still packs more than enough of a techno thump to make it work on all but the most commercial of floors. Fans of Traum and melody rich dance music take note! 8/10.
A special mention must also go to: Mnestic Pressure by Lee Gamble – For his first album for Hyperdub Lee Gamble presents a set of deconstructed techno which contains a visceral sonic wallop. With echoes of breaks, ambient and 90s IDM it is also one of the most enthralling records of the year, 9/10, Sis-Boom-Bah by Juju & Jordash – Warm and organic sounding, for their fourth LP the duo take in elements of jazz and improvisation to create something which is like nothing else around, 8/10, The Inner Out by La Mverte – Resembling a lost tape from the 80s, this is the type of new wave disco which could do serious damage in the right hands, 7.5/10, Twin Bang by Mirko Loko – Head straight for the Derrick May collaboration Mentors Heritage, a soft, sultry number featuring the Detroit legend’s vocals over gorgeous beats and strings, 8/10, The Centre Cannot Hold by Ben Frost – With the long winter nights acoming, these dark ambient pieces will sound perfect while the wind howls at your door, 7.5/10, Anxious by Rødhåd – Rødhåd’s debut LP is a tough, uncompromising affair, its cold snyth driven pulse sounding exhilarating in a club, but slightly alienating at home, 7/10, Scene From A Dream (Lost Diaries) by Miyagi – Melodic and romantic house music with a euphoric trance touch, 7.5/10 and Klockworks 20 by V/A – Ben Klock’s Klockworks label celebrates its 20th release with twenty tracks of tough techno which will sound epic in a darkened room, 8/10.
And let’s not forget: Belief System by Special Request – Paul Woolford returns to his bass laden alias with a bumper double disc collection of 23 tracks. The darkened soundscapes of the second half are so stunning it’s hard to keep your jaw off the floor, 9/10, Fool’s Paradise by Cold Specks – Graced with a voice which could melt even the coldest of hearts, Ladan Hussein’s third album is a thing of melancholic wonder, 8.5/10, 20 by Sofa Surfers – Austrian trip hop survivors Sofa Surfers make a welcome return to our stereos this month with the dark eclecticism of their new LP, 7.5/10, Sponsored Content by Antwood – Canadian artist Tristan Douglas returns to the label Planet Mu with an album whose dense sonic vignettes have the ability to fry your brain one minute, soothe your soul the next, 8/10, Into Existence by Glow In The Dark – Slow and woozy, the debut LP by Harry Miller merges the sexualised funk of Prince to the stoner indie grooves of Washed Out to winning effect, 7.5/10, Nothing Is Real by Celestial Trax – Delicate strings sit next to tough bass growlers in an engrossing record which resembles Dead Cities era FSOL, 7/10 and Dancing Down Orange Street by V/A – Originally released back in 1969, this cherished classic from the Trojan back catalogue receives a welcome reissue this month, now with thirteen bonus tracks. Needless to say, if you’re a fan of reggae music then tracking this down is a must! 8.5/10.