Music | Bittles’ Magazine: The music column from the end of the world
Finding great new music can be difficult in today’s over-saturated cultural landscape. With a glut of new releases hitting the likes of Spotify every week, trying to sort through the crud to find something worthy of your time can seem overwhelming. Over the last few weeks I have spent countless hours doing just that to bring you the bona fide crème de la crème of what’s on offer. By JOHN BITTLES
We have the hypnotic psychedelica of Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation, the deep electronic spaciness of Gramm and Ethik, some timeless house grooves from Francis Harris and the Toy Tonics crew, the Balearic swells of Ghost Vision, and lots more.
So, prepare yourself for a journey through time and space, and let us begin…
Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation’s third album Sacred Dreams is the sort of thing any good mother would warn you about; trippy, dangerous and addictively good. Out now on Rocket Recordings, the London-based band’s new LP is full of fuzzy riffs and acid-drenched rock jams. Feel The Sun opens the record with some squelchy synths, a driving groove and Josefin’s whispered lyrics to form a track which gets the adrenaline flowing from the off. After the heady electronica of Honey Slumber, I Can Feel It merges I Feel Love style synths, loose guitar licks and rising vocals on a song which is going to sound like explosions going off in the brain when heard live. From here, Desire is deep and sexy pop music with a gothic heart, Hey Little Boy sounds like The Velvet Underground at their most languid, Baby Come On shows how rock music doesn’t have to be intricate to excite, Caramel Head is gorgeously hazy, while the dirge-like groove of Let It Come is worth the price of admission alone. Recalling the psychedelic majesty of fellow Londoners Toy, Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation are a band tailor-made for these fucked-up times. 9.5/10.
Scissor & Thread label head Francis Harris’ Trivial Occupations album was one of the highlights of last year. This April saw two tracks from the LP revisited and revised on the fabulous Trivial Occupations Remixes EP. Containing two long, lingering mixes by Spiritual Life head Joaquin Joe Claussell and LNS, these subtle re-interpretations honour the originals while expanding upon what was already there. Joe Claussell’s Cosmic Arts Version of Minor Forms opens the A-side with some twinkling piano, gentle atmospherics and muted kicks, before the introduction of lush horns, soft vocal samples and some jazz licks takes things into the stratosphere. A track which ever so subtly enriches your soul, this is the type of music which is easy to get over-excited about. Over the flip, Laura Sparrow aka LNS enhances the tender atmospherics of the original of St. Catherine And The Calm. Soft breakbeats, piano, vibraphone and, with her sister Nadia Sparrow on flute, it is every bit the equal to the A-side. Enveloping the listener in a warm aural hug, both these tracks will be the highpoint of any warm-up set while also sounding amazing on a good stereo at home. 9.5/10.
First appearing on the revered Source Records imprint back in 1999 Personal Rock by Gramm is the project’s only full release to date. The work of electronica don Jan Jelinek, early April saw this much beloved micro house gem reissued. Out now on Faitiche, the album’s eight tracks touch on house, techno, IDM, jazz and more to conjure a unique sounding aural stew. Legends/Nugroove TM gets things off to a stellar start, its deep techno pulse recalling Move D one minute, Deepchord the next. Rich and satisfying, the track ably demonstrates why people were prepared to pay outrageous fees on Discogs to have this in their box. Next, St. Moritz is the sound of a dubbed-out jazz troupe after smoking too much weed. In other words, it’s excellent! Other picks include the heady ambiance of Type Zwei, the trippy deep house swell of Non-Relations, the fractured dubstep atmospherics of Type Eins, and the Artificial Intelligence style electronica of closer Siemens.Bioport. A deeply immersive experience, Personal Rock is an LP you can get lost in for a very long time. 9/10.
The excellent Toy Tonics imprint storm back onto our decks this month with not one, but two new twelves guaranteed to get even the most passive of dance floors into a tizz. First up, New York indie disco dons Phenomenal Handclap Band follow their fabulous Judge Not single with the pop/house gem Jail. A gorgeously deep synth line underpins lush vocals on a track which skilfully mixes daytime radio cheese with Balearic brilliance. Of the remixes, Waajeed’s Funkytown Remix is a Theo Parrish style deep house anthem, Marcel Vogel injects a massive dose of 70s cool into his version, while label head Kapote extends the original with an edit you never want to end. Next, the legend that is Dimitri From Paris teams up with DJ Rocca for the discofied four-tracker Works. Ray Mang’s Flying Dub mix of Glad To Know You opens the package in stunning style, giving us an eleven minute epic of deep, dubby house music which gets better with every play. Also be sure to check the Italo-laden Ero Disco Theme and the cheeky funk strut of I Love New York. With both these titles sure to sell out, time is of the essence when tracking them down. 8.5/10.
As any record buyer will know the yearly indulgence of Record Store Day has long become something to be avoided, or at best, endured. But in amongst the Bastille and Bananarama ‘rarities’ there is the odd treasure to be found. Case in point is the welcome reissue of Ethik’s sublime Music For Stock Exchange LP. Originally released on CD back in 1993 at the opening of the Delirium (later to become Kompakt) record store, the album saw Jörg Burger and Wolfgang Voigt join forces for an album of enveloping electronica. Opener, The Tulip Theme sets the agenda with a low-slung synth line merging with some Warp style bleeps to give us a tune which does strange, yet wonderful things to the brain. Next up, Bluebelle is simply stunning, a beautiful melody underpinned by hazy beats and loose bass to form the basis of a track which instantly sets up home in your soul. Also be sure to check the gentle techno thump of Coral Caves, the shuffling breakbeat led head nodder Trump Tower, The Glass Dome’s welcome ode to the dancefloor, and the vintage Sven Väth style trance of closer Sascha The Flower Thief. Sounding every bit as good today as it did back in the 90s, Music For Stock Exchange is pretty damn divine. 9/10.
After the rich psychedelica of Saturnus from last year Ghost Vision step back into the limelight this month with the double headed 12” Mirador/Ozen. The brainchild of Dan from Psychemagik and Thomas Gandey of Cagedbaby fame, Ghost Vision specialize in slow-burn disco-flecked house music perfect for Balearic floors. After lauded releases on Kompakt and Love On The Rocks, the duo’s third EP arrives on the P&F imprint early May. Mirador takes charge of the A-side, a gorgeously atmospheric slice of loveliness which is the type of song I could play all day. A song so beautiful you have to listen twice just to make sure that it’s real, Mirador ably recalls those first moments of falling in love. Next up, Ozen is a deep cosmic groover, it’s twelve minute plus running time helping lend it a chilled, unhurried air. With a decidedly new age feel, Ozen sounds like something Andrew Weatherall would play in a warm up set, (a good thing of course). Go buy! 8.5/10.
This month we’ll end with some noise-laden techno, in the form of InDreams, the debut LP from Vancouver duo Minimal Violence. With a manifesto of ‘the body is meat, the mind is unlimited’ displayed on the front cover, the pair of Ashlee Lúk and Lida P give us a raw, visceral set full of abrasive bangers and analogue grooves. Untitled Dream Sequence opens proceedings with some dense atmospherics, before unrestrained electro squelches and uplifting synths enter the fray. Surprisingly euphoric, it takes the ghost of 90s rave and gives it a modern rub. Next, L.A.P. sounds like a lost Nitzer Ebb track from back in the day, heavy beats mixing with an ominous sounding score on a tune which will have the easily frightened running for the door. From here we have hardcore gabber (June Anthem), tough electro (New Hard Catch), crazed acid (InDreams), and lots more. While InDreams isn’t an album for every occasion, it is thrillingly engrossing, battering the listener into submission over eleven drum machine heavy jams. 8/10.
A special mention must also go to: Serfs Up! by Fat White Family – Elements of reggae, disco and more feature on the London rockers’ excellent new LP, 9/10, Monsoon by Artefakt – The always reliable Semantica label return this May with the deep techno rhythms of their sophomore LP, 8.5/10, Invitation by Heather Woods Broderick – With a voice which could bewitch an irate beaver, Heather Woods Broderick’s spacious new album is a truly wonderful thing, 8.5/10, Valis by Reptaliens – An album of feelgood indie pop nuggets from the Portland-based band which will bring a small slice of joy to anybody’s day, 8/10, Dimensions by Richie Hawtin Presents F.U.S.E. – Celebrating the 25th anniversary of Mr. Hawtin’s revered debut LP, this limited edition boxset contains a remastered version of the album and lots more, 8/10, Mirrors by Odd Nosdam – Eight instrumental hip hop joints composed entirely of rare found sounds, the Anticon Records co-founder’s new album is a heady delight, 8/10, SSSS-3 By Hammer/Atlus – Denis Sulta’s Sulta Selects Silver Service imprint presents a pair of club-slaying weapons with a double-header from Belfast artist Hammer and Sulta’s Atlus alias, 8/10, Mazy Fly by SPELLING – Out now on Sacred Bones, the Bay Area artist’s second LP is impressively haunting and sounds like nothing else around, 7.5/10, and Weaving Genres Vol. 2 by Hector Romero – With tracks and mixes by Severino, David Morales, Satoshi Tomiie and more, volume two of this excellent mix series is guaranteed to get any dancer in the mood, 9/10.