Favourite Mixes: Dego’s Selector Series Vol. 2

The Selector Series Vol. 2 mixed by Dego @ Scattered Snares (http://scattered-snares.tumblr.com)

Alright, I had this coming for a long time, but hey I’m a great procrastinator so it often takes a little extra time to put something down. Well, I’m part of a generation that grew up on (mostly jungle) mixtapes and later the mix CD, a format that had a much higher significance back in the nineties, before the internet, podcasts, even long before SoundCloud or Mixcloud. To me, the mix CD has often been the media that taught me about the music that was available in the clubbing landscape, probably even at a time when I was too young to actually go to parties. !K7, or Studio !K7 as they were known at the time, played a huge part in that with their influential DJ-Kicks series, which will see it’s 50th release this year. My obsession with that series went that far, that I ended up getting the unmixed vinyl of the DJ-Kicks series, for that was a way to own some amazing tracks from those mixes on vinyl — and ultimately broadening my interest in different kinds of music.

Today, I’d like to talk about one of my favourite mix CD, released in 2003 on West London’s Goya Music, at a time when mixed CDs had surpassed their peak time. Interestingly, this is also the first ever mix CD by 4hero co-founder and broken beat innovator Dego. The Selector Series itself was meant to be a way to showcase music released through Goya’s distribution services, selected and mixed by some of the top DJs involved in the legendary Co-op nights: IG Culture, Bugz in the Attic, Domu, Phil Asher and so forth. Instead, only two volumes were ever released.

Unlike Alex Attias‘ selection of „top tunes”, Dego picks more unexpected

01. Likwid Biskit – The All New Ummmph! Part 4 (Everglades Runnings)
02. Meikbar – Feelings
03. Blaktonez – Pleasure Ride
04. Soul Drummers – Space Time (Restless Soul Galaxy Mix)
05. Bugz In The Attic – Waiting
06. Ne-Grove – Let It Ride
07. Bah Samba – Sugar Beet
08. Swell Session vs. Ernesto’s Let Me Decide
09. Mark de Clive-Lowe – The Way That It Goes
10. Stephane Attias – Liquid Pleasure
11. Starlight Express – Starlight Express
12. SK Radicals – Reachin’ 4 Da Farside (Misa Negra Remix)

Lokiboi – Hood Cuts

Returning for another offering of instant dancefloor head-turners is Moscow born Lokiboi. Picking up where he left of after his last release ‘Night Swing’ on Telefonplan, Lokiboi treads a new path this time away from party anthems to a darker side in the form of ‘Hood Cuts’.

‘Hood Cuts’ has been realised on the Moscow ‘Capital Bass’ who have already and impressive CV with such releases as Pako’s dark and stylish ‘Legacy’. Kicking things off is ‘I know’ – it seems to rise from the ghetto depths, plateauing into a —beat to beat— kick and snare set. Slinking in behind is a layering of dark static that creates a canvas for the vocals to keep everything in check. The drum machine provides Lokiboi with a partner in crime throughout this EP setting up each tune with a ridged framework for the other elements to intertwine and swell the tracks out. This clever set of ingredients gives each track with self-assurance to express itself individually whether that be a minimal, stripped down attitude as in I know or the sci-fi powered ‘Dats’. Lokiboi creates an unusual three way partnership between tribal syncopation, sci-fi led synths and hard house hits in Dats – Lokiboi’s use of high-hats here really lay in parallel to early dubstep producers such as Silkie and Quest; the work both in unison with the beat but operate on their own skipping around this super cool track. This impressive work is another big hitter for Lokiboi, each hardware-packed track sets the regimented theme for the synths and vocals to float in and out uncontested.

Urge you to go and bag this one from Red Eye or Juno.

Recommended: Bass Culture, When Reggae Was King

Bass Culture – When Reggae Was King

My love for reggae, or dub in particular, dates back to my adolescence, the time when I emancipated myself from the listening behaviours of my peers at home and at school, the time when my musical interest was about to mature. Still, my relationship with Jamaican music remained superficial for the longest time. There were no specialist record shops anywhere near where I grew up, no radio stations with a reggae programme, and the internet was still unheard of. I caught a first glimpse of what dub was through No Protection, an album by a band from Bristol (Massive Attack) remixed by a Guyana-born, London-based producer (Mad Professor). In other words an entirely British affair, music produced about 7,500 kilometres (or 4,600 miles) from the motherland: Jamaica. While I got closer to that island over the years, I never was fully satisfied with what I got. Thankfully that was about to change after I reached out to my Twitter followers. This book by Lloyd Bradley was recommended to me by whoever operates the Hyperdub account on Twitter, and it’s what gave me an indepth education on Jamaican music.

On over 500 pages, Bradley writes down the history of Jamaican music since the 1950s. From early sound systems playing RnB records imported from the U.S., which eventually lead to the creation of ska and rocksteady, to the emancipation of Jamaican music through roots reggae, then later dub and dancehall. The book succeeds in putting all of that into a bigger picture, as it relates the the story of reggae to the history of the island. You will read about the politcal situation on the island, its independence, Marcus Garvey and Pan-Africanism, emperor Haile Selassie I., the role of rastafarianism, reggae conquering the UK, the Notting Hill race riots, Kool Herc bringing soundsystem culture to hip-hop – it’s all in the book.

Whether you can relate to what I said in the introduction text or simply want to broaden your horizon, Bass Culture is a book I can’t recommend enough!

Bass Culture, When Reggae Was King
Lloyd Bradley
Penguin Book
592 pages
ISBN 978-0140237634

Bass Culture on Goodreads, Amazon US, Amazon UK

Flying Lotus – You’re Dead!

So it’s here, as everybody on the planet already knows the new Flying Lotus album You’re Dead! is out now on Warp Records. In the last couple of weeks, I was overcome by the same awkward feeling that returns whenever there’s news about an album by Los Angeles native producer Steve Ellison. It’s an unsettling mix of fear, doubt and skepticism. What if he might has lost it, sold out. The big marketing machinerey surrounding such an event certainly plays its little part in this, for I don’t really care about those leaked tracks. Especially when I know a Flying Lotus track is best enjoyed in the context of the full album it’s released on — which at this point is still weeks away.

Anyway, I’m glad to say that there’s nothing to fear or doubt, Mr. Ellison outpaced everything you had in your books, doing it in such ease. So this is his jazz record? It’s what a jam session with Thundercat, Herbie Hancock, and rappers Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg and alter ego Captain Murphy sounds like? The Kendrick Lamar collaboration is a good example for those feelings I described in my intro, for I have to say I wasn’t exactly blown away when I heard it for the first time. But now it works so much better hearing it in the context of the full record. There are a lot favourites to choose from, yet interestingly for me it’s those little interludes with just him and Thundercat noodling on the bass, that I love the most. Well, „Coronus, The Terminator” has been a charmer before (by the why, who is singing on there?) and “The Protest” is an equal masterpiece.

You can buy your copy of „You’re Dead!” just about everywhere (Boomkat, iTunes, I said everywhere!) or stream it on Spotify. There’s an limited box set including the instrumental LP and I think you can only buy it on the Warp-associated Bleep store.

Oh, and let me recommend you this interview with in The Fader.

October 7, 2014 Read a track-by-track review by Flying Lotus himself!

C L N K – Anti EP

May sees the long awaited return of cryptic yet blissful producer C L N K. Following from the success of previous work ‘Black Ecstasy’, Romanian Silviu Badea, still staying true to label Error Broadcast steps back into musical black hole for a tour of darker side to his beats with this chilling EP.

Kicking off is the aptly named ‘Fuck Hype’, throwing itself into life with a disjointed bulshy synth line. Clarity is resumed once more following the introduction of the orchestral stabs and the high-hat driven beat as its partner. The piece ends with a set of meaningfully hits maybe acting as beacon of clarity in a chaotic world. I think there is a really important contrast between clarity and chaos throughout the whole EP, one moment you’re engulfed into an Orwellian nightmarish utopia, only to be landing on soft ground moments later with debris smashing around you.’Earn cash spend it all’ – a relative anomaly of the EP by some standards still uses the spine twitching static but is also accompanied by Flubber style syncopation up until mid-way through when the highhats reinvent the track, welcoming eerie run down circus synths to ebb and flow behind. Sci-fi hip-hop number ‘We are the mutants’ was a personal favourite, offering the same decayed and blood-sucked unknown as it’s colleagues but with a tight mid-level synth growl and neat ride cymbal hits to keep everything in check.

With four out of the five tracks featuring on his ‘Dark corners of the earth’ mix last year they are now joined by newcomer ‘Optimal time’ which twists and turns through an ominous and unhospitable soundscape. Also layered in is a sporadic ray gun sample placed over a warbling and pulsating synth drone. These two couple up to drive the track and the EP to its eventual fate in the darkness of space crumbling and decaying as it goes.

Anti EP by C L N K is available from the 12th May, order your copy from Boomkat, Beatport, or directly from Error Broadcast. Full stream available on Spotify.

Words by Untrst

Nils Petter Molvaer & Moritz von Oswald – 1/1

Nils Petter Molvaer & Moritz von Oswald - 1/1

Major label’s aren’t necessarily on my musical radar, so it was only by chance that I found about the new project by Moritz von Oswald (hat tip to Matthias!) In recent years, the dub techno veteran was involved in several collaborations, ranging from rather unlikely reworks of classical material to his fairly recent album with Juan Atkins. For his latest record, he teamed up with Norwegian jazz trumpeter Nils Petter Molvaer and the project was released on Universal earlier this month.

A few minutes into my first listen, and my mind already plays an updated version of Louie Malle’s 1958 movie Ascenseur pour l’échafaud, based in the cold concrete landscape of 21st century Berlin. The comparison is as simple and obvious as it might sound: Molvaer’s playing is taking the part of the original Miles Davis soundtrack, while von Oswald’s doings add a sense of reverbing urban night life. That said, one might argue whether the record would’ve worked better as an actual soundtrack, but in the end that depends on your listening habits or your willingness to submit yourself to an album of one kind of sound. To make up your mind, head over to German website Die Zeit for a full album stream.

1/1 was released earlier this month and is available on vinyl, CD and digital.

Comfort Fit – Worlds Falling Apart

Comfort Fit - Worlds Falling Apart

The impressively versatile beat-builder, Boris Mezga (aka Comfort Fit,) returns with his long-awaited fourth solo album, Worlds Falling Apart, recently released on First Word Records. Bringing the future to the now, Comfort Fit takes us on a genre-spanning and lushly-layered journey, replete with pristine soundscapes, boisterous beats, delectably catchy licks, and some darker, more experimental eartreats, erratically planted throughout the production. Assembled as an enormously dense and hugely satisfying musical sandwich, Mezga opens the album with an epic 11 min-long introductory track, “Space Cake Scenario.” Starting off with some bleaker vibes, the tracks take a minute or two to paint you a somewhat grim & futuristic setting, eventually breaking down into a progressive patchwork of hip-hop and garage-infused beats, effectively exhibiting a wide range of Mezga’s abilities in beat-sculpting and soundcraft.

“Bermuda,” a fun-filled, groove-ridden surf song (Comfort Fit-style) lightens the mood, continuing to expand our familiarity with Mezga’s versatility and unique interpretations of familiar rhythms and genres. “Moonshine Navigator,” one of my personal picks from the release, entrances with an even-paced, bass-heavy beat filled out with a variety of organic percs and spacey synthesized outbursts. It conveys a sense of illicitness, risk, and exhilaration — a soundtrack for space smugglers escaping through an asteroid field. “Hypnic Jerk” is an absolutely outstanding track: heavy syncopated rhythms, bouncing bleeps & bloops, mind-reeling swells, sultry sighs, and a swarm of effects layered beneath to create one of the most complex and hypnotic tracks of the album.

“Nitro” sticks more or less to the hip-hop formula, with a smooth & conventional beat, blasts of brass, and scratchy samples; however, Mezga applies his trademark production tricks to turn this catchy “traditional” number into yet another highly dance-able track from a not-too-distant future. “Guess There’s Nothing More To Say” is another track I couldn’t help but be impressed by; a futuristic acid-jazz-turns-garage track with a very intimate feel (for the first half in particular) thanks to a warm and fuzzy piano sequence and some romantic melodic vocal samples — some of the only vocals employed on the entire album. The progression from the swooning, jazzy theme to a swirling, spaced-out, bass-driven one is remarkable, and downright fun to experience.

My all-time favorite track from this exceptional release is “The Holy Moment.” It is a song to take into the desert with you, as you search for answers to questions you didn’t know you had. By far, the most somber (and possibly the most epic) number on the track list, the song invokes a strong feeling of nostalgia and summons some haunting imagery as it builds from a string-soaked operetta with a Western tinge and a near-classic jazz beat into an all out rhythmic melt-down, inducing a sense of rebirth as the percussive climax eventually unfolds back into a cinematic close. The title-track, “Worlds Falling Apart” is a soothing, down-tempo track; quite easy on the ears, if just a bit disquieting on a near-subliminal level. There is an undeniable level of cynicism in both Mezga’s lyrics and in his chosen chord progressions that make this song intriguing, yet harder and harder to listen to with each play.

The album’s final track, “Adolar Aluminium” is a 10.5 min-long drone experiment with massively saturated atmospheres, meticulously-placed bits of noise, and the swell of a brain-numbing pad here and there — void of rhythm or melody, but still unbelievably stimulating. Being a fan of drone and noise genres, I personally found it rather therapeutic — almost like a palette-cleanser for the ears and mind; giving the listener the opportunity to ponder and archive the experiences they garnished from the rest of the album — until the next listen..

Given the level of anticipation surrounding this release, I believe Boris Mezga has more than delivered the “goods” with Worlds Falling Apart. As a production, it is virtually flawless. Conceptually, I find it riveting and extraordinarily inventive. Emotionally? Perhaps a bit harrowing at times, but as with all good music, I appreciate its ability to affect me on an emotional level at all, even negatively. Fortunately, Mezga seems to have given quite a bit of thought to the placement of the tracks and the result is an emotive journey down an easy slope; at no point dull and consistently full of imagination and ingenuity — something I believe we can continue to expect and crave from the marvelously talented Comfort Fit.

Worlds Falling Apart is available now via Bandcamp.

Words by hmCm

Lokiboi – Late Reaction EP

The month of May sees the return of Moscow born now London beat affiliate Lokiboi. With only  a small arsenal of previous releases under his belt (quality may I add), he steps up off the subs bench and treats us all to his newest exciting choice cut – Late Reaction E.P. An inherent balance of old and new, managing to make the newest and freshest rhythms sound as if they were made in times gone by; (personal) parallels being easily drawn to the likes of El-B and 2562 purge the idea Lokiboi has his allegiance deep in both the garage and house camps respectively.

Being handed the baton as title track ‘Late reaction’ does not hang around in kicking off the show. Tribal hits accompany the tough guy- kick-snare-house-rhythm, they let off steam and explore as the piece progresses. This superb backdrop gives the warbling bass, pitched vocals and non-committal synths a chance to twist and churn their way to the four and a half minute finish line. Another notable favorite is the faultless ‘Love saves the day’ Lokiboi invites the ever popular Citizen in to deliver his own unique musical algorithms, giving this track the extra nudge it needs to become surely a loveable club favorite. Cute synths stabs ground the piece and create a plateau for this duo to run wild with. A lengthy head-bopper this puppy may be, but also the flagship of the house-side of this two tone E.P.

‘Help yourself’and ‘Keep on loving me dry’ wear the home colours on the garage side. Arguably not a strong as the house cuts but still an exhibition of Lokiboi’s talent in the production seat. Both peppered with Burial style vocal moans and spaced out skippy beats, it’s great to see him experimenting with some more minimal, sparse rhythms. As the curtain falls, ‘Keep on loving me dry’ blissfully swoops its last soft set of chords bringing an EP quite full of extremes to an unexpected yet fitting end.

Organised basslines, structured beats and well thought out vocal placement make this EP and solid bit of work for both business and pleasure. Available now from Somethinksounds Late Reaction is another sign of Lokiboi gradually wedging his foot in the future-music door.

Buy directly from Somethinksounds, Bleep or iTunes.

Words by Untrst

Ritornell – Aquarium Eyes

[I must preface this review by shamefully admitting that Aquarium Eyes was my first exposure to Ritornell, and though I have since heard what I hope is the extent of their discography, I am choosing to write this as I first experienced it, without point of reference or pre-set expectations. A completely fresh perspective, and a pure response to what I consider one of the most impacting albums I have heard this year.]

Ritornell - Aquarium Eyes

If it had to be summed in a single word, Aquarium Eyes is simply a dream. I, however, am full of words, none of which can do this release any true justice. The album takes you on an incredibly thought-provoking journey, alternating masterfully-crafted instrumentals and cryptically poetic lyrical tracks, featuring the unforgettable voice of Miriam Mone (aka Mimu Merz,) whose quivering gently-accented vocals add an appropriately haunting quality to the already spell-binding musical dreamscapes. Throughout the journey, there are delicious jazzy tidbits that belie the extensive training and thorough musical backgrounds of talented duo, drummer Richard Eigner and pianist Roman Gerold, in addition to subtle electronic “filler” that provides an even further level of audible depth and intricacy. However, the primary melodies are driven by a variety of stringed instruments, a soft, but poignant piano and an array of percussives that are deftly interwoven and expertly mastered for a truly incredible auditory experience.

The opening track, “The Morning Factory,” is an excellent forerunner for the slowish, but steady pace of the album, and perfectly exemplifies the instrumental expertise that prevails throughout this sonic journey. Not a single song on the release follows what many would consider a traditional format; there is little to no repetition and both melodies and lyrics tend to follow an unhindered stream of consciousness, which is perhaps just another aspect of the release that makes it stand out so strongly among the myriad of phenomenal releases we have seen so far this year. Even though each track is distinctly unique from the ones surrounding it, I still caught myself repeatedly rechecking the track list and finding myself shocked that 3-4 songs had passed since I noticed the transitions between them, much less that each song was at least 3.5 minutes long! They compliment and expound upon one another in a remarkably cohesive fashion, in spite of the randomness of the content–much like the dream sequences of a single night.

“Urban Heartware” is the first of a handful of word-driven tracks that are sprinkled into the release, and recounts a “dream” that could be dissected, analyzed, and interpreted to pieces, but I have never been much of a believer in “dream-interpretation” instead allowing the brain to reflect the heart of my subconscious, and often simply enjoying the journey for what it is. That is how I feel “Urban Heartware” is to be taken: at face value, with an unsullied appreciation for the imagery of another’s dreams, a detailed autodidactic accompaniment to one of the album’s more electronic and rhythm-driven tracks. This album is Mimu’s official debut as a vocalist, although she has been working with Richard and Roman for some time prior to this release. She has had her spoon in many pots over the years, ranging from the graphic arts to the conceptual ones, and now finally dabbling in the musical. She fills this new niche quite comfortably and she is planning her own debut in the (hopefully) near future! One can sense her wanderlust in her lyrics, and I personally greatly appreciate her diversity in creativity.

The third track, “In Every Dream Home A Heartache” is an overwhelmingly thoughtful and emotionally-saturated piece, featuring some stellar & plucky cello work, over a gentle, but persistent foundation of drawn-out, monotonic strings and an impressively-crafted jazz-based rhythm. The song makes references to houses and heartbreak and leaves the listener with an empty feeling, because these houses listed cannot be “homes” if the heart is not there. This is followed oh-so-appropriately by another instrumental, the title track, “Aquarium Eyes” which lends focus primarily to a plaintive piano, intermittent cello, and a wonderfully playful and multi-faceted percussive score. It is Incredibly calming and to me is the beginning of the next and darker chapter of this strange and fickle dream.

“Cherry Blossom” is perhaps my favorite of the vocal tracks on this release. I love the questions, the poetry, the breathy seduction of Mimu’s ethereal alto.. I think that her intent is to induce a sense of wonder and loss.. loss of your grip on reality–that moment when you realize you might be dreaming (or not), loss of faith in your god or your perceptions. Even if your god IS listening, “do [you] have the same problems??” The cherry blossom is known for its fragility and the lyrics/poetry of this song discuss the blossom being “disguised by the first frost” and Mimu ends this haunting expose with the admission that only chance will allow her to pick one at all. Such is our quest for answers.

“Ono” is a funky little jazz-driven number, also instrumental, though darker in tone than the instrumentals previously heard on our dream-journey thus far. The rhythm is glitchy and unpredictable, aided by a spontaneous piano, but both following the pace set by the ever-honest cello and a handful of electronic samples that once again are so effortlessly intertwined with the acoustic instrumentation. “I’ve Stolen the Moon” follows up with one of the most impressive instrumental pieces on the album, intense and heavily layered with constant and quavering cello lines, a manic xylophone or two (or three), and a handful of eerie electronic pads, all set to one of the albums more “traditional” rhythms (by which I simply mean ‘more predictable.’)

“Tremble” is without doubt the “nightmare” of this dream. The strings and piano creep and prowl throughout, the percussives swell and taunt, and in the meantime a man/beast snarls back and forth to himself, on a mindless hunt for whatever can be devoured. The track would perhaps inspire fear in some, though personally I find it to be the most fascinating song on the album. Then again, nightmares have always fascinated me.. albeit more so in the morning. Then tucked in the midst of these divergent instrumentals, there is the reprise of “Urban Heartware,” a considerably more toned-down and minimalist version of the original and much a much-welcomed rendition that is as equally enjoyable as the original, particularly in the context of the latter half of the album.

The close of the dream/album is prompted first by “As We Swim Against the Tide” which is reminiscent of a symphonic warm-up, giving you a sense of anticipation that relentlessly builds until the end of the track. To me, this is most dream-like of the instrumentals. I find myself lost in the sea of strings, almost forgetting where I am sitting and what I am in the midst of doing. Although the entire album is recorded with the utmost precision and pristine-ness of audio quality, this track stands out to me in particular with its depth of range and flawless leveling. Truly a marvelous example of what this talented duo is capable of. The album ends with “Musicbox.” An aptly-named disintegration into utter insanity, following no rhythm or discernible key, it simply plays us out, throws us into our own dreams, and continues to provoke thought long after the final chimes fade off into memory. I was fascinated to learn that this track was apparently created by 20 individuals each turning their designated music boxes simultaneously.

Aquarium Eyes is incredibly well-rounded and impressively complete, more than proving the capabilities of its creators and I must applaud the decision to incorporate the voice of Mimu in this collaborative dream. With each listen I was able to appreciate the various aspects of each track a bit more and compiled a greater understanding of the lyrical imagery and musical intricacies. It is an album that inspires a certain amount of introspection as well as a questioning of what one may have come to expect from a song. It is a healthy and cathartic journey; and one that I highly recommend.

Buy the album at Boomkat, Zero” or iTunes.

Words by hmCm

Mr Beatnick – Savannah EP

Did we mention Mr Beatnick‘s latest release on Don’t Be Afraid yet? It’s been ten months since we recommended his last one and the new one has just arrived in stores. In short, Savannah is nothing but another recommendation. At this point you’d often read about Mr Beatnick being the producer raised on hip-hop living out his love for house music on this trilogy of 12-inches, but while all of this is true, the description might transport a bit of a limited view of the London-based producer. I’ve come to know Nick as a walking knowledge base of good music from all kinds and ages, and I’m deeply impressed on how he keeps up with all of it. If you heard his show on NTS Live, you might have caught a glimpse of that. Yes, Savannah fits perfectly in the line of its predecessors, but while sharing certain sound qualities, it’s also the most versatile of the three. The title track has most in common with the previous ones, analogue warmth with a determined dancefloor drive reminiscent of classic Metro Area material. On Symbiosis he flexes his muscles and delivers a classic NYC house track, just to surprise you with the UK hardcore inspired Parallax Scroll. He ends the journey with Blue Dream, a track that reminds of early I:Cube, John Tejada and Ian O’Brien.

On my first listen, I was maybe a bit too quick on picking a favourite, with every other listen it left me more undecided and I think it speaks for the EP. You can pick it up in all good music stores, or buy it online at Boomkat, Rush Hour or Juno.

Yatha Bhuta Jazz Combo

Yatha Bhuta Jazz Combo - Yatha Bhuta Jazz Combo
In the decade since Parisian beat-maker Arnaud ‘Onra‘ Bernard bought his first MPC in 2003, he has not only explored several distinct music genres, but, with his already impressive discography of six full length albums, helped shape their development too. After releasing ‘Tribute‘, his debut collaboration with Quetzal, Bernard began work on the project that would elevate his status as a one-to-watch beatsmith, returning from a trip to Vietnam with a haul of 30 records from the 60s and 70s. ‘Chinoiseries‘, the album born from this find, replayed masterfully chosen Chinese samples with a signature neck- snapping swagger. ‘The Anthem’, the LP’s standout flip, quickly became an alternative anthem of choice for many a discerning DJ and currently boats over 600,000 YouTube plays.

Concept albums culled from Bollywood samples, 80s soul cuts and a ‘Chinoiseries’ sequel followed, but it is Onra’s latest project that has caught even his most clued up compadres off guard.

Over the last couple of years, Onra has been performing live shows with Buddy Sativa, who adds live keys to his infectious MPC antics, and, during rehearsals, the pair discussed their mutual love of jazz. ‘Indica’, their first collaborative lean in this direction, appeared on Sativa’s ‘Deus Ex Machina‘ LP on Favorite Records in 2011. Since then, their experiments continued, and this week, thanks to All City Records, a spiritual, deep jazz LP under the Yatha Bhuta Jazz Combo alias will be released.

The album opens with ‘Universe Is Love’, a tribute to Lonnie Liston Smith, whose ‘Visions Of A New World’ album is one of Onra’s personal favourites. The creative process employed on this cut and throughout the set begins with a crafted drum track or bass tone, onto which sheets of instrumentation are layered; mistakes, anomalies and off-kilter happenings are encouraged and embraced. The lone vocal on this otherwise instrumental outing comes from Brooklyn poet Aja Monet on ‘The Time is Now’, an introspective, questioning delivery that recalls the Nation African Liberation Arts Ensemble‘s masterpiece, ‘Children’.

A chance meeting with the late artist Mati Klarwein‘s son at an exhibition in Dublin led to the completion of this coveted package: the LP is beautifully housed by Klarwein’s ‘Conceptual Tree‘ painting, joining the ranks of other landmark albums graced by Klarwein’s magnificent art, including Miles Davis’ ‘Bitches Brew‘, Santana’s ‘Abraxas‘ and The Last Poets’ ‘This Is Madness‘.01. Universe Is Love
02. UFO Paradise
03. Dark Karma
04. 360°
05. The Muse Inside
06. Endangered Species
07. Honey, Hash, Rose
08. The Garden Of Heavenly Delights
09. The Time Is Now
10. Cos (x)
11. Untitled (afrojazz)
12. Wandering, Wondering

After a one week delay, the album should be in all good music stores starting tomorrow. Pre-order your copy from All City, Rush Hour (LP or CD), Juno or HHV.

Words by Gavin Kendrick

Clark – Lofthouse

Clark - Lofthouse

When Fact Magazine posted their two part series The greatest techno albums you’ve never heard, that got me thinking. The first thought that came into my mind was Clark‘s seminal record Lofthouse, a record which I think should’ve made it into such a selection. But let’s get two things out of the way first: this particular Clark is Mark Bell (opposed to Warp-signed Chris Clark), one half of LFO and producer involved in several of Björk’s records, among other things. Secondly, the album was anything but unheard of at the time when it came out in 1995 on the Planet E imprint. I remember hearing tracks from the album on Claude Young’s and Carl Craigs DJ-Kicks mixes, an accolade from two Detroit legends that few European artists have received (Maurizio did, too!) However, it seems that Lofthouse has become a record many have forgotten about over the years (or don’t know at all!), so here’s a little reminder.A1. Jak To Basics
A2. Primus
B. Lofthouse
C1. Christo*
C2. Clip*
D1. Dial*
D2. Knowledge*

* just to be sure you don’t miss the links I don’t recall many records that start with their weakest track and in a way I even wonder how Jak To Basics ended up on it, it’s so terrible that I’d almost understand if people didn’t bother to listen any further. From there on there are no fillers on the album, the fact that I have trouble picking a favourite should be a good indication. If you’re old enough, it would be hard to believe that you haven’t heard Clip or the title-track Lofthouse before, they were part of many sets. By today’s standard I’d pitch them both down just a bit, but well, those were the nineties! As for the rest of the record, you’ll mostly hear pleasantly warm machine music, that so-called High Tech Soul people keep reminiscing about. Especially Christo and Knowledge share the qualities of some of Carl Craig’s finest, Elements or Neurotic Behaviour, both taken from a record we incidentally wrote about today.

If you’re after this fine record, which you should, your only way seems to be the second-hand vinyl market, try Discogs or MusicStack. There is no and never has been a digital version of Lofthouse and as far as I can tell it’s not even on Planet E’s own streaming service. Good luck!

Astronautica – Replay Last Night

Astronautica - Replay Last Night
Pushing up and outwards from her self-titled EP released last year, young Edrina Martinez is the proud owner of her first full length album released this week under the covering fire of LA label Alpha Pup. With a wealth of west coast beat-makers before her there is some evidence of inspiration being drawn from such others as label mate Daedelusand the Brainfeeder entourage. With that said, Martinez has taken some graceful leaps in the right direction with this deeply impressive first album.

From start to finish this set of balanced, blissful and sun-drenched beats revolve around the headspace, calming and seducing any ear it comes into contact with. She tames her and quells her over-excitable percussion with a soft and a tentative women’s touch, never letting anything stray too far from the nest. An evident infinity with musical instruments and modern day production styles alike is layered onto each minute with love and care. Each track picking up the momentum forged by its previous and maintaining a cocktail of complex strung melodies, luscious synth lines and warming vocal pitches. This is not to say that the album is in anyway repetitive or predictable; each track really is neither homogeneous by name nor homogeneous by nature; a unique set of rules has been applied to each of the family of eleven giving them character and life.

Califlorida flies the flag straight out of the gate with a mesmeric combination of rhodes style bells, breath-like vocal drones and cute reverbed guitar riffs. They all flow neatly on a bed of machine gun high-hat rolls which churn and chop second after second. The title track Replay last night plays through a hazy percussion section; the clicks and claps fumbling along-side tightly tuned snare hits that echo off into the night albeit accompanied again by her now distinctive melted guitar melodies. Cruise – the track set for the single release later on in early March is possibly my favorite track of all; uniting all the overwhelming positives of the album into a neat four minutes. Drenched in heat Cruise propels you through a reflection of last night’s events, touching you down and soothing the hangover with a warm feeling of the LA sun on your face, the sand beneath your feet and the sea lapping at your heels.

Replay last night is a well-polished sound from a producer 10 years her senior would undoubtedly be proud of. Martinez’s youthful styles and techniques set a foundation which soon builds to a more and more intricate album with every listen. I know listening weeks from now I will still find stutters and jitters nestled deep in the ensemble performing an important part of the album as a whole. It is calm, cool, collected and provides obedience to class abundant amongst her contemporaries. Astronautica has landed and is here to stay…01. Califlorida
02. Cruise
03. ∞
04. Lowrider
06. Champagne Constellation
07. Weekends
08. Replay Last Night
09. You&Me
10. Lucid Dreams
11. Something About You

Replay Last Night will be available from February 26, get out and get this. Pre-order your copy from Bleep, Boomkat, Amazon or iTunes.

Words by Untrst

Soosh – Colour is Breathe

Soosh - Colour is Breathe
It is a very firm belief of mine that great music should always be felt. Physically felt. Whether it’s the vibrations of a subliminal bass line massaging your brain or the fuzzy tickle of a softly-textured synth on your eardrum; perhaps the moisture in your unwitting eye when you hear an old man croon his sorrow into his beat-up blues harp, or the slight twinge in your chest when a lonely woman’s alto caresses your heart. If the song doesn’t affect you on some palpable level, then the creator has failed. Many individuals dislike this line of thought because that would mean that the majority of what they listen to is the result of someone else’s failure. Perhaps I’m a bit radical, but I also hold to the belief that music is a universal language that not only has the power to convey and inspire a broad range of emotion, but can invoke a sense of spirituality and mysticism, and can unify humanity solely through their shared passions and common hunger for musical enlightenment.

Soroosh Khavari (aka Soosh) has presented me with an exceptionally difficult piece of work to define or categorize with his debut LP on Error Broadcast, due for release February 25, 2013. There is no genre at present that you could assign to this startlingly intimate production. But perhaps if I dispense enough futile metaphors in an effort to simulate this extraordinary experience in words, then you may be able to get just a basic idea of what you can expect from Soosh’s magnum opus.

As “For You” gently begins, your ears may be a bit confused to begin with. It’s okay though.. you didn’t download a bad quality format of some late night radio show for lovers. In fact, as you listen, you find that your ears acclimate to the variance in aural atmosphere, like your body would in a hot bath. The beat is barely there, in an invisible basement with pillows for walls, and there are voices too. You may feel like an eavesdropper as you strain to make out what is sung a-midst the growing confusion of wavering pads and tremulous synths. Until about two minutes in.. Just when you’re starting to feel a bit dizzy: “Do what you feel is right.” Next thing you know, you’re beyond the barrier of your own temporal reality.. but it’s alright. Do what you feel is right..

“Open Hearts” comes at you – straight out of the blinding sun of this uncharted wonderland of sounds, with a determined beat that will set the pace of your heart for you before setting you adrift in a brilliant void drenched in the rays of an alien sun. Thank the unfamiliar stars for those reassuringly tender vocals murmured by Soosh’s own sister, Carmel Khavari. She keeps a part of you close even though the rest of you may get swept off into the chaotic oblivion of Soroosh’s devise. Throughout the album, it’s as though Soroosh and Carmel play the parts of two supreme entities, creating a sense of yin vs. yang and you may often find yourself conflicted as to which you would rather prevail. Ultimately, this is inconsequential, because there will always be equal parts of both within the other, so you should probably calm yourself and embrace the qualitative aspects of both. Take a deep breath and let the Khavaris guide you along the unpredictable tides of a sea that rises and falls in accordance with the phases of eleven moons.

“The Space Between” undulates recklessly, like some lullaby for Martian infants. It’s spacious, meditative, and is perhaps the most hi-fi of Soosh’s otherwise deceiving renderings. “Loving” intrigues me with its unique take on what might have once been an 80’s R&B song that got caught up in a time warp and became the next big hit of the future. While a bit monotonous and discordant at some points, you’ll still find yourself bobbing your head to the bubbling bassy synths and the echoing discourse between Carmel and Soroosh. It ends on a bit of an ominous note, fading out to make way for “Chorus Dream.” This track has a sublimely down-tempo beat with wooden blocks at its core and a few renegade toms interjecting at will. On top, Soosh layers it with finely textured polyphonic synths, samples that sound like they were once harmless field recordings from a school playground and a chorus of perfectly timed vibraphones. Together they create a romantically dreamy atmosphere as Soroosh gently implores you, “Come dance with me… I…love…you.”

“The Way You” is one of my personal picks, though I’ve often been told my tastes favor the strange. This track is utterly captivating for me. Synth-master Soosh once again spins my head with his billowing saws, complex rhythms and wonderfully intimate vocals. Both his and his sister’s voices find their way into your mind, carried on the currents of sound that Soroosh has woven into an organic tapestry imbibed with the powers of flight. An incredibly seductive track that leaves you feeling tingly and just a tad bit reluctant to carry on to the next plane of this sensory journey through this multi-layered universe. “Uncertain” is yet another stand-out track for me, featuring an ultra-swanky beat and a catchy tin-wrapped lick from what might a Plutonian shamisen – if I had to hazard a guess.

The final two tracks appropriately wind down this compelling excursion. Soosh gently looses his grip on your consciousness, letting you gently re-acclimate to your personal reality. Though not without a great deal of melancholy and just a tiny bit of cowbell. “Light Shadow” is short, but sweetly charming and incredibly calming. For me, that is the true end of the album. The bonus track, “Touched” serves as more of a reminder – a track you would listen to when you didn’t have 46 minutes to devote to the album’s entirety. Distantly reminiscent, it draws from the whole of Soosh’s surreal compendium in modest and subtle increments, gently recalling the marvelous planes of the realm he has forged from rhythm and sound. Soosh has previously shown us his capabilities in the field of synth-crafting, but I feel it’s apparent that the EPs, his collaborations with like-minded artists, and various remixes were also reflections of his personal journey; albeit in a surprisingly condensed period of time. In Soroosh’s earliest works, created mostly with samples taken from his personal field recordings, you can hear the most uncertainty. A reaching-out towards a then-intangible concept; but even in the infant stages of Soosh’s experimentation, you could hear a distinction – an inspiration of a different ilk. It is here that I think elements of Soroosh’s family and religious backgrounds serve as vital segments of the foundation for his singular approach to music composition and manipulation of sound. It’s a compellingly heavy account, centered around the increasing religious intolerance within Iran, beginning in the early 1980s. The story is replete with a covert exodus in the dark of night under hot pursuit, a trying pilgrimage for freedom, and Soroosh’s own quest to reclaim his heritage. More can be read in this interview with the BBC dated April 24th, 2006.

I, for one, cannot help but be impressed by the results. Though Soosh has since evolved his style, upgraded his equipment, and honed his methods, this most recent work is still infused with poignant and intensely personal expressions of his own experience and an inherent desire to better his immediate reality. Accepting the risk of sounding like an occultist, I theorize that Soosh has managed to tear a small rift in the frail fabric that separates our physical world from the ones beyond, allowing us mortals to briefly savor a glimpse of parallel realms that can only be breached by music. Crossing spectral boundaries might not be your calling, but hopefully you take away an infectious enthusiasm to better your immediate reality through whatever means you are given.

Buy Colour is Breathe directly from Error Broadcast or get your copy at Boomkat, HHV or Amazon.

Words by hmCm

Samoyed – Sloe Eyes

Ameliorating away from his earlier releases Spit, Her Honey dripping behind and Malamute, Samoyed has proven his worth amongst his contemporaries with this two-track EP, giving a feel for his ever-growing ability within dance music.

The A side Sloe Eyes kicks things off with an energetic and ambitious four and half minutes, including some downright raucous stabs slicing and dividing up each second leaving nothing by head-nodding in their wake. Nestled in amongst rippling pads and detailed syncopation is the backbone vocal sample, perfecting and consolidating the tracks affections with a distant house past. Sloe eyes shrugs off some of the softer, stoical elements of Samoyed’s earlier work culminating in an ever increasingly lovable 4/4 big hitter.

On the flip side, Guts is a far more of a conservative and dreamy piece, starting out as a warbling see-saw sample creating a smooth foundation for the track to augment itself into a wilderness of complexities. The regimented 808 claps keep Guts in check, not letting the dogged sub bass get too out of control and keeping within the hazy confines as set out by the synth and sample back drops.

With this, Samoyed has dutifully found his place amongst the arsenal of producers already featured on the VASE label helmed by Jacques Greene. I strongly recommend following this guy as he paves the path of an evidently illustrious future.

Sloe Eyes and its partner in crime can be purchased here with the vinyl coming on the February 22nd.

Words by Untrst