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March 2020

Album releases

Rob Clouth — Zero Point Highly recommended!

Zero Point reminds me of one of my favorite albums of all time, Amon Tobin’s Supermodified. Both records have incredible scope and detail in their sound design but still remain extremely musical. Early tracks like Casimir cuddle you with static and delicate piano notes but the back end of the album hits like a sledgehammer. Play this through your best sound system and be transported.

Mujuice — Rytm Moskva Highly recommended!

I often struggle to stay engaged with a full album of four-on-the-floor music, but Rytm Moskva is an exception. Every song is a cocktail of warm fuzz and microchips and the record works just as well in your headphones as it would on a dancefloor.

Huntsmen — Mandala of Fear Highly recommended!

This was one of my favorite metal records in quite some time. The music is properly heavy in places but the band isn’t afraid to take chances; they sing clean, mix up the guitar tone, and even let the rhythm section get a bit funky. Production values are very high, too. Absolute A+ record.

Helen Money — Atomic Highly recommended!

Minimalist industrial compositions for cello, harp and other intruments: like a vision of a dystopian future, tinged with a faint memory of the fragile beauty we lost. It’s a unique and riveting listen, even if it is a bit challenging at times. I recommend giving this one a try even if this description doesn’t sound like your normal fare.

The Cinematic Orchestra — To Believe (Remixes)

It’s not an essential listen unless you’re a TCO completionist (like myself), but there are definitely some good tunes here. My favorites were Dorian Concept’s airy interpretation of Lessons and the brooding, intense Fennesz remix of A Caged Bird/Imitations of Life.

Pat Metheny — From This Place

A lush, theatrical release from Pat Metheny’s new quartet. I think it’s a pretty ambitious record but the band is up to the task and they have a real energy together. String arrangements and vocals both add breadth, although The Past in Us features a harmonica lead which I couldn’t get into, no matter how hard I listened.

Momocurly — Cosmic Lips

A funky, loungy, jazzy, catchy record with dreamy vocals and mesmerizing rhythms.

Four Tet — Sixteen Oceans

I’ve really enjoyed the gradual evolution in Four Tet’s music from downtempo sample-based stuff to incorporating more digital sounds and straight-ahead dance music. This record is a good showcase for his modern sound; fresh house tracks like Love Salad appear along with more introspective pieces like Mama Teaches Sanskrit.

Skalpel — Highlight

Skalpel’s crate-digging sound is augmented here by some extra electronic noises. This could be a route to boring “nu-jazz” territory, but luckily Highlight avoids that by keeping the focus on dusty vinyl samples and a smoky lounge aesthetic.

J Balvin — Colores

I don’t listen to much pop music but J Balvin’s production is just irresistible. The rhythms of salsa & reggaeton rarely diverge, but his sounds are always just a little more interesting, more digital, more funky. Colores is extremely danceable, but honestly, I’ll just put it on for the vibes.

Luo — Unspoken

A funky and frenetic blend of bass, breaks, and djent riffs from this Brighton 2-piece. You might raise an eyebrow at this description, but this music stands very far out from the sawing monotony of a typical “breakcore” record. It’s worth a close listen.

Avishai Cohen's Big Vicious — Big Vicious

Avishai Cohen’s new combo puts out a cool and collected record here. It’s got the introspective trumpet tone you’d expect but also brings some more groovy and adventurous tunes. Come for the fairly faithful cover of Massive Attack’s Teardrop, but stay for the whole album.

Ghost Toast — Shape Without Form

A cinematic prog metal album that plays it fairly straight on the few first tracks, but gets more and more adventurous as it goes. Hunt of Life is a like a… gypsytronica (?) track that doesn’t even bring out riffs until three-quarters of the way through.

DJ Krush — Trickster

I remember back in the day DJ Krush was the epitome of the soulful, laid-back, beats & breaks style producer. Somewhere along the way that changed, and now his music has taken on a grittier, darker edge, laced with heavy bass and halfstep/garage influence.

Jah Wobble & The Invaders of the Heart — Ocean Blue Waves

Knowing nothing about Jah Wobble, I expected this to be, well…. a dub record. Imagine my surprise; it’s actually a great slice of jazz-funk with some pop sensibilities scattered here and there. If, like me, you want to learn more about this character, check out his interview at Quietus.

Singles/EPs

Alfa Mist — On My Ones

An EP of dynamic and expressive solo piano compositions from Alfa Mist. Not what I expected after hearing Antiphon and Structuralism, but I really liked these songs.

Rockwell — Isolation Ritual

I don’t know how he does it, but few producers sound quite as… cybernetic? digitized? as Rockwell. Here’s four high-energy bangers that sound like they traveled back from the future to assimilate you.

Natureboy Flako — Besito

An EP of clangy, stuttering dancefloor killers, soaked in bass and garnished with just a touch of Flako’s trademark soulful texture. Turn this one up and get your neck workout in.

Emperor — Daft Funk / Convex

Not too much to say here, it’s just two crunchy neurofunk tunes with Emperor’s trademark 24th-century production.

Carl Stone - Au Jus / The Jugged Hare

This is my first exposure to Carl Stone and it was delightful. His micro-sampling approach on these cuts reminds me of replaying Akufen’s My Way over and over back in 2002. That was a sweet record and so is this one!

New to Me

Alaskan Tapes — Views from Sixteen Stories (2019)

An apt name; this felt like the perfect music for sitting in an armchair and looking out over a crystalline, frigid tundra.

Westerman — Ark (2018)

It’s like an artificial intelligence was trained on a corpus of Beach Boys songs and then set loose on a big collection of drum machines, synths and guitar pedals. A lovely and unique listen.

Mary Lattimore & Mac McCaughan — New Rain Duets (2019)

A mysterious little record of collaborations between harpist Mary Lattimore and Merge Records boss Mac McCaughan on synthesizers. It’s minimalist, but not ambient; there’s a lot going on here.