Music | Bittles’ Magazine: The music column from the end of the world
With a bumper package of great new albums by DJ Sprinkles, The Black Dog, Peshay, The Advisory Circle and more to review this week, we’ll skip the introductory bullshit and dive right in. By JOHN BITTLES
So, dig out your reading glasses, and let us begin…
Those who like their house music deep and groovy are in for a treat this month with Skylax House Explosion, a fab two-CD compilation of highlights and soon to be released gems from Skylax Records. With DJ Sprinkles and label head Hardrock Striker taking a disc each, the album is full of jackin‘ beats, soulful samples, acid squiggles and emotion rich grooves. CD1 sees tracks such as Club Called The Garage by An Expresso, Gasp by Nick Beringer, and the stunning All Night by Joey Kay mixed together by the revered DJ Sprinkles to take you on a deeply hypnotic journey you never want to end. Hardrock Striker meanwhile start their mix with the gorgeously atmospheric spoken word jam Again See Spring by Lady Blacktronika, before the gospel house joy of Sinan Kaya’s What’s Mine brings us rushing back to the floor. From here, A Feelin‚ by Love Island is a sunshine infused slice of Balearic gold, We Will Be Together Forever by Octo Octa is an epic feel good house anthem, while Kuba Sojka’s Walk On Moon contains a bassline so good it takes your breath away. Superb from beginning to end, if you only buy one mix CD this year, this is the one. 9/10.
The first of June heralds the return of drum n‘ bass legend Peshay with his brand new album Reflections. After a long absence from our stereos and sound systems, any doubts about Peshay retaining his powers as a producer are dispelled two minutes into opening track Capricorn when those funky assed breakbeats barge in. Sunny sounding synths, furious breaks and some succulent beats are all it takes to make Capricorn a grin making machine. Next up, Dangerous takes us back to the glory days of rave as classic breaks merge with house piano and more to recall the naïve enthusiasm of acts such as Altern 8. Feel It brings back the junglist rhythm sequences and feel good factor on a track guaranteed to make you move. Also be sure to check the loose bass strut of Jazz Chronicles, the euphoric call to arms that is Give Me Some More, the LTJ Bukem style tranquillity of the title track and the majestic breakbeat led closer Summer Breeze. Available on triple vinyl or download, Reflections is a record full of sunshine and soul. 9/10.
After releasing two acclaimed EPs (Night and Heartbox), Dublin based artist Hilary Woods set to work on her highly anticipated debut LP. The result is Colt, an album full of haunting vocals, hushed instrumentation and oceans of space. Recalling the goth tinged folk/pop of fellow Sacred Bones visionary Marissa Nadler, or the lonely soundscapes of Grouper, Hilary Woods‘ twilit ballads bewitch. The gentle, piano led Inhaler opens the album with five minutes of heartfelt melancholy, Hilary’s soft vocals pushed firmly to the fore. The intimate romanticism of Prodigal Dog follows, its soaring strings and regret filled air so exquisite it hurts to hear at times. Special mention must also go to the poignant guitar and treated vocals of Kith, a song which is sure to accompany many a lonely night, and the smoky dive bar soundtrack which is Black Rainbow. Out early June, Colt is a focused and alluring record which may just bring a tear to the eye. 8.5/10.
This May, To Rococo Rot member Robert Lippok follows the excellent Redsuperstructure and Falling Into Komeit albums with his latest solo LP. A stunning journey into deep electronica, Applied Autonomy is meticulously produced and engrossing, taking the techno template into previously unheard realms. After the short burst of noise which is Scene 1 the record gets into its stride with the dense technoid groove of the title track, where stuttering beats collide with atmospheric synths to produce a tune breathtaking to behold. Next, Varieties Of Impact is a playful sounding mid-paced head scrambler. Unbelievably hypnotic, this will cause moments of unbridled wonder when played at the right club. Other picks include the ambient interlude Drawing From Memory, the trance meets IDM pulse raiser All Object Are Moving, and the glacial magnificence of 14 minute long closer Samtal. A true pleasure for both mind and feet, the Berlin based producer’s latest is a deeply enthralling listening experience which draws you in time and time again. 8.5/10.
Ways Of Seeing by The Advisory Circle is the latest mystical masterpiece to come out on UK institution Ghost Box. Needless to say, if you haven’t heard of either artist or label yet then there is no space for you in my life (apart from you Mum. You’re OK!). Inspired by late 70s and early 80s library music, Jon Brooks has created an album which is hazy, enchanting, and gloriously sedate. Recalling the dub inspired ambiance of The Orb one minute, the wistful hauntology of Dream Catalogue the next, the record is a blissful listening experience which conjures a world of images in the mind. After the short intro of Ektachrom Logotone, the soft synthscapes of Be Seeing You! enchant with a lush mid-paced groove. Also worthy of your affection is the mournful piano ballad Time Shapes The Lens, the wide eyed optimism of Airborne Seeds, and the splendidly laid back High Climber. Everything here is excellent though, making Ways Of Seeing the perfect album for idle daydreamers and those not afraid to reach for the stars. 8.5/10.
Since teaming up with Richard and Martin Dust, Ken Downie’s The Black Dog project has hit a series of creative highs. This May, (June for the vinyl) sees the trio push the boundaries of electronic music ever further with, not one, but two new LPs. Post-Truth and Black Daisy Wheel should be considered companion pieces, with the former a series of warm techno rhythms while the latter is made up of deep ambient tracks. Post-Truth finds the band alternating tough, muscular machine music with the type of melody rich IDM that will have any fan of Spanners going a little misty eyed. Beautifully produced and meticulously paced this will sound just as good when played on headphones at home as on a Funktion-One sound system in a club. Black Daisy Wheel meanwhile is largely beatless, but no less essential, with songs such as Who He Was, Out Of Reach and We Must Repeat conjuring a series of haunted moods. With the vinyl limited to 500 copies apiece, my advice is not to sleep on this. 8.5/10 (Both).
This week we’ll finish with places, a stunning album of deep melodic ambiance and techno from Cologne native Thyladomid, out now on Traum. According to the press notes the record is influenced by the “different places which inspired him to write the album”. It opens with A Little Church In Amsterdam which begins with some soft atmospherics before fuzzy beats and a throbbing synthline join the fray. Heartfelt and sincere, this is the perfect riposte to those who suggest electronic music is devoid of emotion. Next, the Gui Boratto style melodic rush of Four Friends blossoms into a hair raising tune sure to be the highlight of any warm up set. Blossoming Limburg Feat. Mahfoud and Morgenhain Feat Mario Hammer And the Lonely Robot meanwhile, are simply gorgeous, with the mournful beauty of the latter a real stand out for me. Elegant and restrained throughout its fourteen tracks, places is a record you could cuddle up to anytime. 8/10.
A special mention must also go to: Lump by Lump – Mercury Prize winner Laura Marling and Tunng member Mike Lindsay conjure a beguiling record which sees the duo combine pastoral folk and IDM style electronics with aplomb, 9/10, At Ease by Will DiMaggio – Eight deep house jams guaranteed to bring the good times to any floor, 8.5/10, Turquoise Tortoise by Glenn Astro & Hodini – Jazz flecked and with a massive dose of funk, fans of DJ Shadow or early Ninja Tune should make a point of tracking this down, 8/10, Scenes And Sketches From the Lab by SCNTST – German producer Bryan Müller makes an eagerly anticipated return to the Boysnoize label with his third album of deep techno grooves, 8/10, Slowdown by Hannah Epperson – A beautifully produced mixture of electronics, pop, folk and attitude, 8/10, UrtÌis by hi.mo – Rich electronica gives way to stoner jazz flourishes and techno undertones on a record almost impossible to categorize, but very easy to love, 8/10, If Only – A State Of Peace by Nur Jaber – Head straight for the Harthouse style deep techno crunch of The Spirit Molecule, a track full of atmosphere and tension, 7.5/10, and America Gets Physical Vol. 1 by m.O.N.R.OE. – Jordan Postrel mixes together twelve tracks of jackin‘ tech house which is perfect for getting reticent dancers in the mood,7.5/10.
Let’s not forget: Compro by Skee Mask – An album of deep, heady techno which recalls the glitchy ambiance of Autechre one minute, the cerebral grooves of senking the next, 9/10, Vive La Void by Vive La Void – US label Sacred Bones do it yet again with the psychedelic funk of Moon Duo keyboardist Sanae Yamada’s hypnotic and electrifying debut solo LP, 8/10, High Life by Detroit Swindle – The Heist Recordings label heads return to their own imprint with the classic house grooves of their sophomore long-player, 8/10, Noordhoek by Oliver Koletzki & Niko Schwind – Out now on Stil Vor Talent, moments of quiet reflection merge with a succession of trance-laced chuggers to give us a record with highlights galore, 8.5/10, Light by Juliana Daugherty – The singer songwriter’s debut LP is a deeply personal and affecting record, recalling the acoustic melancholy of Phoebe Bridgers, 8/10, Crude Tracer by Tourist Kid – Fractured techno and Aphex Twin style electronica collide on a record where emotional resonance sits snugly next to leftfield beats, 8/10, We Take It From Here by Thomas Fehlmann/Terrence Dixon – This meeting of Berlin and Detroit legends will be enticing dance floors for months to come, 8/10, Cycles by Alexander Kowalski – Hard edged techno from the Berlin veteran which sounds superb when played loud in a darkened room, 7.5/10, and 1+1=X by V/A – A fabulous 20 track collection of all new material from London label Erased Tapes, featuring artists such as Rival Consoles, Nils Frahm, Kiasmos and more, 8.5/10.