Shape The Future Before It Shapes You: New Album Reviews

Music | Bittles’ Magazine: The music column from the end of the world

After last week’s look back at the albums of 2017 this week sees us celebrate the now with some new albums which make January 2018 a mighty fine place to be. We have the fresh house sounds of Skream, the soulful hip hop of Nightmares On Wax, the garage rock cool of The Limiñanas, the ambient beatscapes of 1954 and tons more. By JOHN BITTLES

So, before 2018 whizzes past in a half remembered blur, we had better begin…


Nightmares on WaxLong-time Warp affiliate Nightmares On Wax makes a welcome return to the label this January with the smooth soul and stoned hip hop of his killer new LP. Shape The Future is out now and contains twelve funk filled gems. Recalling his 90s classics Smokers Delight and Carboot Soul, George Evelyn’s first long-player since 2013’s Feelin‘ Good finds him blending soul, trip hop, dub and more to create a wondrously eclectic musical stew.

Opener Back To Nature is a gloriously downbeat ode to spiritualism and utilizes the vocal talents of Kuauhtli Vasquez and Wixarika Tribe over a loose piano line and smooth atmospherics. Beautifully chilled, it sets the scene nicely for the joys to come. From here we have the slow funk strut of the title track, the lush jazz instrumental On It Maestro, the spooky dub jam of Tenor Fly and the joyous groove of lead single Citizen Kane. Picking favourites is a futile endeavour though as everything to be found here is shockingly good. Go buy! 9.5/10.


1954 A Part Of MeIvan Arlaud is a musician from Lyon who records under the alias of 1954. His debut LP, A Part Of Me has just been released on the Project Mooncircle label and is as calming as dunking a jammy biscuit into a nice cup of tea. Quiet, thoughtful and with a soft mournful air, the record’s twelve tracks merge the smokiness of trip hop and the low bass pressure of artists like Burial with a widescreen pop sheen. With moments of heart stopping beauty, A Part Of Me is the type or record which will sound great no matter the occasion.

Opener Flowers Of The Dead Man uses distorted voices and fractured breakbeats to create something which recalls the spectre of drum n‘ bass and nights of dancing which never came to pass. Further in, It Was Love sounds like a woozy Romare, Colored Lies is a Dream Catalogue inspired electronic throb, the muted jazz of Blue Boy is achingly bittersweet, while Mean is the sound of urban isolation made real. At times light and playful, others reflective and melancholic, with his first LP 1954 has created something which will live long in the mind. 8.5/10.


Shadow PeopleIn the press notes one half of French duo The Limiñanas, Lionel Limiñana states that their new record Shadow People tells the story of a teenager reaching high school who builds his personality by discovering rock’n’roll in the early 80’s. If this statement alone isn’t enough to get you a little excited then, really, I don’t know what to do with you! On their latest LP the band fully embrace groove and discordance to craft a record which confidently swaggers its way under your skin.

Fans of labels such as Sonic Cathedral and Sacred Bones will find much to enjoy in Shadow People’s delirious psych-rock. Ouverture opens proceedings with some surf rock cool before lead singer Lionel puts on his Serge Gainsbourg persona, drawling the words to Le Premier Jour. Other picks include the fantastically sleazy Istanbul Is Sleepy which features Anton Newcombe at his disinterested best, the krautrock haze of Dimanche and the Jesus And Mary Chain indebted Trois Bancs. Whether you consider yourself a creature of the night or just like music with a bit of dirt and groove, Shadow People could well be the record for you. 8.5/10.


Skream FABRICLIVE96London club Fabric’s long-running FabricLive mix series reaches the heady heights of 96 this month with one-time dubstep pioneer Skream. For those who don’t know, Skream rose to fame with his Stella Sessions radio show on Rinse FM before that remix of In For The Kill became the sound we all loved back in 2009. Since then he has moved away from bass heavy sounds to explore a funky yet raw take on techno and house. His new mix opens with the jazz house stylings of Hieroglyphic Being, Sarathy Korwar & Shabaka HutchingsAshrams and Peace Moves by the superbly named Bufiman before gently, yet relentlessly upping the pace.

From here the set takes in the dub techno pressure of Yonqui by Alexkid, Skream’s own disco-flecked An Ode To Mr. Smith, the tough gospel house of Made Up My Mind by Floorplan, the mid paced electro thrust of Agraphobia by LA Synthesis and more. Well paced and featuring a wealth of musical talent FabricLive 96 is sure to find favour with any self-respecting house head. 8/10.


LIVERPOOL- Revolutionary-SpiritAfter the success of their Manchester based retrospective (Manchester North Of England) the good people at Cherry Red visit neighbouring city Liverpool with a jam-packed five CD set celebrating the musical diversity of the land of The Beatles. Revolutionary Spirit: The Sound Of Liverpool, 1976-1988 is out now and is chock-full of hits, misses and leftfield gold. Music by big hitters such as Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Echo And The Bunnymen, OMD, The La’s and The Lotus Eaters abounds, yet as always with Cherry Red compilations the real joy is to be found in unearthing those previously unheard gems.

Touch by Lori And The Chameleons is a gloriously cheesy slice of disco magic, Dalek I Love You (Destiny) by Dalek I recalls the majesty of Talk Talk, while Pink Industry’s Don’t Let Go is fabulously strange. Yet, with too many songs not standing up to the ravages of time, Revolutionary Spirit is an album you probably won’t find yourself listening to from beginning to end. 7/10.


TIIF 2017A special mention must also go to: TIIF 2017 by V/A. Head to the This Is It Forever Bandcamp page for a wonderful free compilation of airy ambiance and slow focus house, 9/10, Ringthing by Jaguwar – Berlin band Jaguwar follow up their well received EPs with the melodic thump of their debut LP which melds hints of shoegaze, indie and pop to form a very satisfying whole, 8/10, The House by Porches. DIY pop meets synth pop on Aaron Maine’s excellent new LP, 8/10, Boom Boom Boom by Tosca. Last year’s Going Going Going album is revisited with a varied selection of remixes by Brendon Moeller, Steve Cobby, Megablast and more, 7/10, Fairytales Of The Supersurvivor by Marsmobil. Full of leftfield turns and loveable quirks, Roberto Di Gioia’s strange yet beguiling pop music recalls the electronic kitsch of Air, 7.5/10, Martika’s Kitchen by Martika. Lovingly remastered, and with a bonus disc of remixes and edits, the singer’s sophomore album features collaborations with Prince amid a colourful array of songs, 8/10, and I-Robots. Reconstructions 2007-2017: 10th Year Anniversary Chapter I & II by V/A. The excellent I-Robots label celebrate a decade of releasing their own unique blend of disco, house, electro and Italo with a 45 track double CD which will have even the most level-headed throwing their limbs about like a loon, 9/10.


Nabihah Iqbal - Weighing of the heartAnd let’s not forget: Weighing Of The Heart by Nabihah Iqbal. The artist formerly known as Throwing Shade embraces live instrumentation and the ghosts of shoegaze in a smoke-filled dream of an LP, 8.5/10, Remix Collection IV by Mollono.Bass. Anyone who likes their house music soulful, melodic and funky will probably already be fans of the 3000Grad Records label bosses‘ sound. This remix collection gathers together 14 lush grooves, 8.5/10, Resolve by Poppy Ackroyd. Full of mournful melodies and gentle instrumentation, this will make the perfect soundtrack for relaxing on a warm spring day, 8/10LiE by Mudhoney. A live album from the grunge survivors which will bring out the inner 13 year old in anyone, 7/10, Microshift by Hookworms. Out early February, Hookworms third LP is a fast, frantic piece of alt-rock action, 7/10, Nasadiya Sukta by Certain Creatures. A welcome blast of shadowy ambiance from Brooklyn artist Oliver Chapoy, 7.5/10 and Acid Love Vol. 1 by V/A. Get Physical head Roland Leesker compiles and mixes 13 acid-tastic cuts from the likes of M.A.N.D.Y., Luke Solomon, Phuture, DJ Pierre and more. Needless to say, if the sound of a roaring 303 floats your boat then tracking this down is a must, 8.5/10.


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