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Albums - Issue 592

Paula Temple - Edge Of Everything

PAULA TEMPLE

Edge Of Everything

Noise Manifesto

RESIST!
9.5
Paula Temple has been one of my favourite techno artists for a while; her impeccable sound design, punishing live sets and relentless productions are a singular force. Unsurprisingly, her debut album ‘Edge Of Everything’ delivers all this and more while going deeper into experimental and noise realms on this epic masterpiece. Thematically, the LP is a call to arms in response to the current dire political climate. One can almost feel a sense of marching into action across these twelve tracks as they careen between bracing onslaughts and cinematic beatless passages. Sonically, these vast soundscapes combine searing granular synth lines with frenetic and thundering percussion, mixed with such intensely high definition that it’s simultaneously breathtaking and unsettling. ‘Edge Of Everything’ may be an exhausting listen, but it’s a necessary one, and it brings current events into sharp relief as it empowers us to take back control.
Zara Wladawsky
Crazy P - Age Of The Ego

Crazy P

Age Of The Ego

Walk Don't Walk/!K7

Crazy politics
8.0
On the surface, it could be argued that not much has changed on ‘Age Of The Ego’, Crazy P’s bouncy eighth album. There’s plenty of familiar but effective tropes; the wriggling bassline of ‘The Witness’, the bubbling euphoria of ‘Is This All It Seems’ and ‘Lean On Me’ is electrifying in charge. So far, so disco-flecked. But what’s most interesting is the darker themes that the album explores, the band taking aim at the depravity of UK politics and modern-day media manipulation with stomping club beats and instrumental flourishes. Never has the hook “We will fuck you up” felt so joyful on the acid-tinged track of the same name, while ‘S O S’ is perhaps the only plea for help with a soaring saxophone solo. It all builds to ‘Night Rain’, a brooding farewell that cements Crazy P’s position as rulers of undeniably fun but introspective dance music once again.
Lee Wakefield
Nathan Micay - Blue Spring

Nathan Micay

Blue Spring

LuckyMe

Essential escapism
The artist formerly known as Bwana does what anyone should when serving up a debut album: go deeper, further and more completely into their own sound world than ever before. Over the last five years, the Berlin-based Toronto artist has hinted at his skills with a range of big, glossy house cuts tinged with trance and prog. They have come on labels like Aus and 17 Steps and fit in perfectly with the revival of those styles by acts like Dusky and Bicep. What they lacked, though, was the sense of authority and identity that an artist needs to standalone. On ‘Blue Spring’, however, the Bwana alias is shed, Micay assumes his own name and stamps his own personality on his music to cook up an utterly immersive and journeying record in the mould of greats like Future Sound of London. It’s a conceptual long player that comes with a comic (scripted by Micay, adapted by Peter Marsden and illustrated by Dominic Flannigan) that tells the tale of a young data miner raving in the woods before the party is interrupted by a futuristic police state. As such, elements of a cyber techno fantasy are mixed with spoken world police reports from the Castlemorton raves while angelic, impish voices speak about being free, transcendental passages of ambient bliss paint pictures of some watery utopia and sci-fi interludes layer up digital and analogue sounds in perfect harmony. There are also retro computer game soundtracks next to the sort of meticulously crafted melodic techno that recalls the landmark Northern Exposure mixes. ‘Blue Spring’ is a brain-cleansingly pristine and beautiful record that is part idealised escapism, part dejected reality, but always fully realised.
Kristan J Caryl
Claude Fontaine - Claude Fontaine

Claude Fontaine

Claude Fontaine

Innovative Leisure

Fontaine of knowledge
9.0
Just exquisite. So perfect is the sound American born, London-based chanteuse Claude Fontaine pulls together on this, her debut album, I’m reminded of nothing less than Gwenno’s astonishing ‘Le Kov’ from 2018. Like Gwenno, Fontaine aims for a deliberately dated sound but manages to suggest a future in so doing, trusting her songwriting to make this more than mere simulation. Crucially, in order to create her confections she’s collected an astonishing group of musicians including reggae legends Tony Chin and Ronnie McQueen as well as a host of Brazilian genii including Airto Moreira, Gibi Dos Santos and Fabiano Do Nascimento. On Side A you get the reggae side of Fontaine’s obsessions – peach perfect lovers-rock like ‘Cry For Another’ and ‘Little Sister’ shot through with Fontaine’s gorgeous haunted Birkin-esque vocals. Flip the record over and you get a sublime suite of tropicalia and Brazilian jazz-pop, very reminiscent of Astrud Gilberto but always given enough space to not just be a homage, to actually allow Fontaine’s uniquely catchy and compelling songwriting take hold. A stunning album and one of the year’s highlights already.
Neil Kulkarni
Deft - Cracks

Deft

Cracks

20/20 LDN

Electronic symphony
9.0
‘Cracks’ is a debut album from Deft that was largely written as a way of coping with his sister’s battle with terminal cancer. Unsurprisingly, there is an emotional heaviness to it that makes it all the more resonant, but there’s also plenty of beauty to be found in its insular tracks, which draw on elements of IDM, drum ‘n’ bass, ambient and future soul. They’re made from harmonic drones, suspensory drum programming and myriad samples, and often sunk in oceans of endless reverb. This combination of hallucinatory, heavenly aesthetics means you often feel cast adrift and lost in your own daydreams. There are lazy beats, ‘On The Wire’, a sci-fi hall of mirrors on ‘Pollon’ and the distant hum and glow of a late night metropolis on ‘Scope,’ and all offer comforting places to be thanks to the cinematic style of Deft’s excellent sound designs.
Kristan J Caryl
DJ Spider - Democide

DJ Spider

Democide

Green Village

Web of intrigue
8.0
New Jersey’s DJ Spider (real name Rob Hampton) is an underappreciated techno maven. The co-founder of Plan B Records, he’s the author of many a killer track dating back over ten years on imprints such as Trilogy Tapes, Rekids and Killekill. This latest album, and his first long-player for another label, finds him concocting 12 venomous cuts with deadly bite. ‘Democide’ is also diverse, with ‘Warhead’ a woozy trip-hop cut, and ‘Repeat Offender’ like a woozy, synth heavy DJ Premier. ‘Enemy Of The State’, meanwhile, leans towards gently trippy house. Don’t get it twisted though – elsewhere, it’s all about murky four-four, as proven by ‘1984’s tribal percussion and air raid sirens, and ‘Doomsday Counsel’s deeply submerged pads and sporadic dystopian spoken word samples. Spider’s headspace is a surreal, hypnotic place, and those who enjoy the more psychedelic, mind-warping end of techno will find a lot to enjoy on ‘Democide’.
Ben Murphy
Logos - Imperial Flood

Logos

Imperial Flood

Different Circles

Absorbing ode to emptiness
8.0
Logos’s work is defined by how weightless it seems. In the past, both solo and with Different Circles co-founder Mumdance, he has taken grime and jungle to pieces and rebuilt them with large parts missing. His debut album ‘Cold Mission’ was a triumph, and this long overdue follow-up is just as essential. This time, though, prickly rhythms and an underlying mood of urban menace have been replaced by pastoral openness that shifts by slowly, and without any drums but for the overdriven breakout of the Mumdance collaboration at the midway point. Broad synth smears extend to infinity like a rolling landscape, flocks of birds pass overhead, gloomy rain clouds drift up top and thunder rumbles in the distance. It’s an evocative and provocative work of electronic minimalism and dark ambience that makes for a beautifully bleak soundtrack.
Kristan J Caryl
Chris Coco - Indigo

Chris Coco

Indigo

Chris Coco Music

You go Chris Coco!
6.5
Though he’s released music for decades, Chris Coco’s newest full-length strikes as very personal – not only because it’s self-released. Brought on by several trips to Japan, the journeyman producer attempts to represent the colour indigo in sound. In doing so, he draws for the mellow, the airy, and the balearic (in the case of the title track); crickets chirp and wolves howl, synths sooth and drum machines purr. The ambient sections of ‘Indigo’ come from the same school as Mixmaster Morris, while the slo-mo house tracks – like ‘Onda’, with its playful 303 line – border on too progressive. Yet moments like ‘La Torre’, and the final track, ‘Event Horizon (Out)’, itself an extended version of the first, deal in delicate tones, leaving the listener feeling anything but blue. Indigo, perhaps?
Jack Pepper
The Chemical Brothers - No Geography

The Chemical Brothers

No Geography

Virgin

Sublime
9.0
In the years since Tom and Ed last graced us with an album plenty about the world has changed, but the benchmarks set by their preceding two LPs remain. ‘No Geography’ doesn’t offer the level of experimentation as predecessor ‘…Echoes’, nor is it as resoundingly uplifting as 2010’s ‘Further’, but it’s quintessential Chems business nonetheless – genre-demolishing, assured, unashamedly huge. The title track is a prime example; messages of unity (not the only thing here you could read politically) and euphoric synth work destined to cause scenes live. Early single ‘Mad As Hell’ has reintroduced frenzied acid to mainstream radio. ‘We’ve Got To Try’ brings e-funk via head-nodding breaks and diva samples. ‘Gravity Drops’ is a slice of warm, stripped, downtempo beauty. The sum total being exceptional proof we’d be poorer without this duo in our lives.
Martin Guttridge-Hewitt
Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry - Rainford

Lee 'Scratch' Perry

Rainford

On-U Sound

Let the old times roll
8.0
For someone of 83, Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry sounds increasingly lucid. Sure, ‘Makumba Rock’ has the Jamaican artist babbling conspiracy theories in the surreal style familiar from his previous zillion albums, but the reflections on ‘Rainford’ mainly come from the heart rather than a tinfoil hat worn to ward off mind control rays. ‘Let It Rain’ and ‘Children Of The Light’ meditate soberly on Rastafarian beliefs, with long-time collaborator Adrian Sherwood’s rootsy rhythms draped in gospel choirs, mournful strings, melodica and horns. ‘Autobiography Of The Upsetter’ sees the man who often plays the cantankerous clown honestly addressing the highs and lows of a life that has included working with Bob Marley and burning his own studio down. Taking its title from his real first name, ‘Rainford’ shows why the man nicknamed ‘Lee’ for ‘little’ because of his short stature has had such a towering influence.
Paul Clarke
Kornél Kovács - Stockholm Marathon

Kornél Kovács

Stockholm Marathon

Studio Barnhus

Making friends
9.0
Kornél Kovács’ last album, 2016’s ‘The Bells’, was “the result of sitting alone in dark rooms for years,” he’s said. Its follow-up, ‘Stockholm Marathon’, finds the Studio Barnhus co-founder comparatively more sociable, surrounding himself with his friends and close collaborators. The album, therefore, taps some of the Swedish-Hungarian’s closest Stockholm pals (Matt Karmil, Rebecca Scheja and Fiona FitzPatrick aka Rebecca & Fiona, jazz musician Niclas Skagstedt, among others) for a work inspired by his “beautiful, boring” hometown that he “never quite manage[s] to move away from”. Despite all this co-working, Kovács has described the record as his most personal to date – and it comes stamped with emotional touches, from the sparkling vocal-led pop of opener ‘Purple Skies’ to the nostalgic piano keys of ‘Rocks’, to the dusty jazz-house of ‘Szombat’. Across eight tracks of warm beats, disjointed breaks and sprightly disco, Kovács seems more determined than ever to show off his ability to disjoint house from its self-imposed boundaries and introduce melodies you won’t be able to get out of your head. Packed with heaps of character, ‘Stockholm Marathon’ feels like a host of treasures you’d discover after a long bout of crate-digging, only they’re all in one place.
Felicity Martin
DJ Nate - Take Off Mode

DJ Nate

Take Off Mode

Planet Mu

Return of the footwork king
8.0
Chicago’s DJ Nate was there at the very birth of footwork. He was Planet Mu’s first such signing back in 2010, and this is a glorious return after nine years since a last album. In between, he had an accident that rendered him paralysed from the neck down, but has happily recovered and finds plenty of form on ‘Take Off Mode’. Tracks race by at hyper-speed, often lasting under three minutes, but still manage to make an impact because of the yearning vocal chop ups that are so pained and emotive. Kick drums dart around the mix like kernels in a popcorn machine. Gunshots, gorgeous strings or piano chords colour in the spaces in between, and the whole thing is a spell-binding fusion of abstract digital design and very real human emotions.
Kristan J Caryl
 Reginald Omas Mamode IV - Where We Going?

Reginald Omas Mamode IV

Where We Going?

Five Easy Pieces

Going places
9.0
If, as a mean friend proposed, Benji B is Gilles Peterson who can actually mix, then the world he presides over is one where the music of the past mixes naturally with the grooves of the present. It’s here, in our mind’s eye, that Reginald Omas Mamode IV exists. Based out of Peckham, his music is cut from a similar cloth to Rhythm Section, with jazzy melodies and live percussion giving it a distinctive swagger. Partly recorded in the Mascarene Islands on a trip to trace his family roots, this third album also incorporates the sounds of Sega and Maloya alongside music from Africa and the Caribbean, adding a richness to the sonic palette. With Reginald’s soothing voice imparting conscious lyrics, it’s an accomplished project and should make his as well know as Henry Wu, who he’s part of the 22a collective with alongside Mo Kolours, Jeen Bassa, Al Dobson Jr and Tenderlonious.
Joe Roberts