Monday, 21 December 2009

2009: A Year In Music


Sleazy McQueen & Anne Montone - Anna’s Due (Cole Vocal)

- Post discoid bliss.

Modernaire - Faites Vos Jeux

- A witty electro pop ditty from the sadly departed Modernaire.

Jack Peñate - Tonight’s Today

- An unexpected Afro house rhythm section backs Peñate’s homage to staying out until the next day.

Florence & The Machine - You Got The Love (The XX Remix)

- Candi Station & The Source’s perennial favourite goes all claustrophobic garagey thanks to The XX and Florence.

Mavado - Again & Again

- A beautifully restrained effort from the dancehall star.

Villeneuve - Death Race (Discodeine Remix)

- A hair raising journey.

Santé - Dambalaa

- A haunting record for the dancefloor.

Alaine - Never Done

- The everlasting nature of love is the message here.

Bon Iver - Woods

- Being lost and alone has never sounded so appealing.

Spoonface & Janet Kay - So Good

- An uplifting house gem.

Albums and Compilations

Phoenix - Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

- Synths and guitars collide on this album that upsets but also uplifts.

Desire - II

- A melancholic post-discoid beauty that thrills from start to finish.

Woolfy vs. Projections - The Astral Projections Of Starlight

- This may have come out in 2008, but The Astral Projections Of Starlight is gorgeous and I only discovered it in 2009.

V/A - Kitsuné Maison Compilation 7

- A perfect compilation of modern electronic pop.

The XX -XX

- Believe the hype, The XX are stunning.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Bei Bei & Shawn Lee - Into The Wind (Ubiquity)

East meets West with enthralling results on this cross continental collaboration between California based Guzheng maestro Bei Bei and London’s Shawn Lee. Bei’s soaring melodies have found a perfect home alongside Lee’s blunted beats and muted funked out grooves. This album could have only been made in the digital age, as the pair met only one time during the making of the LP. Album highlights include the magical Hot Thursday, gutsy East and touching Little Sunrise. Into The Wind is a stunning album from Bei Bei and Shawn Lee.

Georgia Anne Muldrow - Kings Ballad (Ubiquity)

A little less way out than some of her previous efforts, yet still nowhere near conventional, Kings Ballad is an excellent album from Ms. Muldrow. Using a plethora of instruments and studio trickery, Georgia Anne has created her own brand of soul hop that fits in with her contemporaries, but is at the same time worlds apart. Highs include the hopeful Doobie Down, groovy Simple Advice and the unapologetic Can’t Stand Yo Love. Kings Ballad is a soulful gem, Muldrow style.

Mayer Hawthorne - A Strange Arrangement (Stones Throw)

The local dignitary brings us an album of heart pulling falsetto’d songs that are backed by tight percussion. One part classic soul and one part modern hop, A Strange Arrangement is a lovely little long player. The title track is an ode to standing up to a no good lover, Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out tells it like it is and Green Eyed Love is an electric guitar blessed gem. A retro winner.

V/A - The Real Sound Of Chicago (BBE)

Not a 303 or a drum machine in sight, this is a celebration of underground Chicago music before the house revolution. Put together by Mark Grusane and Mike Cole of the Chicago based Mr. Peabody Records store, this wonderful compilation explores the discoid, soulful and jazzied dimensions of Chi-town in the 70s and early 80s. Disc 1 winners include Lajohn & Sheela’s teary eyed Too Far Gone and Ghalib Ghallab’s nostalgia laced School Days (Mr. Peabody‘s Edit). Disc 2 winners include The Moore Brothers’ triumphant Bass Come Back and Cold T‘s key driven Funky Preacher (Mr. Peabody‘s Edit). The Real Sound Of Chicago is a collection of dusty musical treats.

Hawke - +++ (Eighth Dimension)

It has been a number of years since Gavin ‘Hawke’ Hardkiss told us that Love Won Another. The Hawke is back with a beguiling album of sweet songs, trippy instrumentation and fine grooves. Highs include the cool opener that is Monday Comes And Goes, the pointed These Combinations Have Not Been Before and the soft Secret Lullaby. +++ is a dream of an album from Gavin Harkiss.

Mayra Andrade - Stória Stória (Sterns)

Mayra Andrade creates the sort of touching songs that at times put a smile on your face and at others make you stop and think. Andrade is truly a worldwise artist and the influences of living in places such as Cuba, Cape Verde, Senegal and France shows on this album. Recorded with a host of talented musicians in various locations, Stória Stória will uplift and delight. Highlights include the beautiful Tchápu No Bandera (Hold On!), encouraging Juána and loving Mon Carrousel (My Carousel). This is a sparkling second album from Mayra Andrade.

Sport Hit Paradise - A Word That Describes Something Extremely Romantic (Sport Hit Paradise)

This intriguing album is a collaboration between brilliant artist Elisabeth Arkhipoff and a number of musical masters, recorded as the mythical Sport Hit Paradise band. Arkhipoff is a NY based artist, who has worked with a range of fashion and musical clients and is known for work that often features cut out female features set against startling backdrops. For this project, each musical producer was given a brief and their creations impress. Discodeine’s Bikini Ballet is simply gorgeous, Villeneuve’s Christel Graffiti is a pained effort with uncontrollable brass and Munk’s Sunshine ou Noir is a macabre dream. Sport Hit Paradise is an excellent compilation and there is a related exhibition that features Arkhipoff’s work, which takes place at Espace 12 Mail in Paris.

V/A - Future Sound Of Brasil (BBE)

Future Sound Of Brasil? Well, this is an exploration of current electronic gems from the largest country in South America, as opposed to a compilation that charts the country’s rich musical heritage. Loosely based around a Brazil-centric club, it looks to various genres and features some excellent music from international stars and lesser known talents. Kids From Japan’s Hossomaki is a technoid dream, Marcelinho CIC’s Oceano hits with gorgeous keys and DJ Marky & SPY feat. Miri’s Days Go Slow is a sweet D&B number. The history of music in Brazil is well documented, but this compilation shows that today’s Brazilian producers have much to offer the world.

Editors - In This Light & On This Evening (Kitchenware/Sony)

Deciding to bring synths to the fore and letting the guitars fade into the background hasn’t done the macabre Editors any harm. Instead, their employment of synthetics has made their music more emotionally charged. In This Light & On This Evening is a magical album of dramatic stories and heartfelt melodies. The title track charts the deathly beauty of the English capital over swirling synths and heavy guitars, whilst Papillon is an uplifting effort and You Don’t Know Love is a heart wrenching tale. This is a dark yet delicious long player from Editors.

V/A - Soma Compilation 2010 (Soma)

It’s difficult to stay relevant as an OAP in the world of electronic music, but Glasgow’s Soma imprint has come up with the goods on their 2010 compilation. In recent years, the label’s output hasn’t always been outstanding, but they’ve sourced some amazing music for this release. Techy winners include Itamar Sagi’s soaring One Million Oaks, D’Julz’s bassy overhaul of Slam’s Positive Education and Ripperton’s groovy remix of Silicone Soul's Dust Ballad II. This compilation suggests that Slam’s Soma imprint is back on form.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Lucio Aquilina - Black Elf (Hideout)

The second outing from Davide Squillace’s Hideout imprint is a brilliant effort from Lucio Aquilina that shows just how exciting modern European techno can be. Black Elf features Paki Palmieri’s haunting drum work, which coats Aquilina’s smart beats wonderfully. I Got You is key led deep house dream and the warm bass is king on Out Run.

Alexander Kowalski - Puestra De Sol (Factor City)

Barcelona’s Factor City unleash a record from Alexander Kowalski that should come with its own health warning. Exploding keys and tidy beats chatter under a bass groove to end all bass grooves on this incredibly addictive record. Stimming supplies a more conservative mix that tames the bassline under angular beats and synthetic pressure, but the original holds its own.

Tony Senghore - Dism (Anonym)

Stockholm’s Tony Senghore is on fire at the moment, creating charismatic tracks that blur the lines between various musical lifestyles. Dism features firework synths, a demented bassline and crunching beats. The Reprise lets the possessed beats and a scary bassline run riot.

Hell feat. Bryan Ferry - U Can Dance (Gigolo)

Hell, Kruder and Bryan Ferry have created a stylish tribute to finding love and sorting one’s life out at the discotheque. Carl Craig supplies a pair of uplifting remixes, where sturdy synths and icy beats combine. Tim Goldsworthy opts for a light headed post-disco take and Simian Mobile Disco let the bass do the talking.

Tim Xavier & Camea - Velvet On Canvas (Clink)

Clink’s eighteenth offering is the sort of club record that has you dying to be transported to a dark basement at 4am, just so you can lose yourself to the title track in the proper fashion. Sturdy beats (think mid 90s Deep Dish) hit hard alongside lustful vocals and lost synths on the brilliant Velvet On Canvas. Beaded Sweat is another track for the dark hours, courtesy of its mind expanding synth play and cracking beats.

&Me / Fischer & Kleber - Various Artists Vol 2 (Souvenir)

Tiefschwarz may own this imprint, but they think nothing of taking a step back and giving the other members of the Souvenir family a chance to shine. &Me’s Bleed is a bass driven number that is futuristic yet retro in the best possible way. Fischer & Kleber’s Marcello is a mind melting effort, where harmonica and distorted keys have their wicked way.

V/A - EP E11 (Prime Numbers)

This outing from Trus’me’s Prime Numbers stable is an all singing and dancing various artists EP. The excellent Jack City drops popping percussion and an irresistible bassline in typical Andrés fashion. Got It by Motor City Drum Ensemble is all grooving keys and heads down beats, whilst Fresh Noodles from Kaidi Tatham and Mr. Scruff is a wiggly key and flute effort.

Lou Rhodes - There For The Taking (Motion Audio)

According to ex-Lamb frontwoman Lou Rhodes, the world is There For The Taking. Listening to her fragile vocals and the aching guitar work that underpins her words, it’s hard to not become a believer.

Atjazz - Fantasy (Maddslinky Remixes) (Atjazz Record Company)

Zed ‘Maddslinky’ Bias is on the money here with a couple of outstanding genre crossing remixes of the adorable Fantasy. Armed with a fattened bassline, cool strings and fractured beats, Bias has created two highly addictive mixes.

Stanley Brinks - End Of The World (Ciao Ketchup)

Onetime Herman Dune man Stanley Brinks aka Andre brings the spirit of the group to his one man performances, as his solo work embodies the group’s raw emotional sound. Backed by The Wave Pictures, Brinks charts his love for lady and his feelings about death over jangling percussion and emotive guitars.

Ada Fijal feat. Louie Austen - Take Your Time (Patpong)

Polish warbler and film star Ada Fijal and Austrian lounge lizard Louie Austen collaborated on this single, which sees the light of day on the Bucharest based Patpong imprint. They pair met following a performance in Krakow. Fate brought them together and with the help of producer Pawel Gawlik, they created a gorgeous disco keyed ode to waiting for that special someone. There’s a bunch of remixes, but this dish is best served in original form.

The Sexicanz - Bay Area Super Dank (Robsoul)

Dimitri SFC and his friends from California hit up Paris’s Robsoul for some mind bending house SF style. I’m From The Bay is an irresistible key winner, as Danky Fonk goes for offbeats and tripped out funked stylings.

C++ - Bounce To The Light (Vizual)

More floor filling Joshua output, this time under his C++ guise. You know exactly what to expect from this man and he never disappoints. Bounce To The Light is an excitable synth trip, whilst Iterator in both forms is a punishing bass mission.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Marc Poppcke - Far Away From You (Freerange)

Berlin may be home to all things musically anorexic, but despite hailing from this city, Poppcke sounds like he prefers the music of 90s Paris. Far Away From You is a groovy disco cut up of a house tune, with cool synths, tight percussion and an army of filters. Alex Niggeman’s remix cuts things up further, with a humongous bassline sealing the deal. Bonus cut Destination Disco sounds like its groove has been lifted from the work of a famous disco band, with cool keys and smart beats lending a hand.

Jammer - Party Animal (Big Dada)

Taking its cue from an acid house winner that charted going too far, Party Animal is a brash neo house record that has been produced by media darling Toddla T. As far as the remixes are concerned, HardHouse Banton proves his worth with a blissful synth driven Smoking Mix and a dark bassed Dub.