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Albums - Issue 578

DJ Taye - Still Trippin’

DJ Taye

Still Trippin’

Hyperdub

Truly fancy footwork
8.0
The mighty DJ Rashad may no longer be with us, but the years since his untimely passing have shown that his legacy lives on in more than just the body of work he left behind — namely, from footwork artists new and old pushing the boundaries, keeping alive the sense of innovation that Rashad helped pioneer in the genre. DJ Taye is one such artist, naming Rashad as an inspiration for his debut while also focusing on creating something entirely fresh. ‘Still Trippin’’ is undoubtedly a footwork album, but soul, rap and jazz run deep through its veins, making for a visceral experience. Taye’s passion for MCing fuels several tracks and also leads to a more vocal-focused record, with the immense ‘Truu’ (featuring DJ Paypal and based around two simple vocal snippets) or ‘Need It’ with DJ Manny, a boundary-blurring minimal banger. Then there are tracks such as ‘Closer’, a brilliantly funky jam that shows footwork’s underexposed soulful side, ‘Smokeout’ — something approaching hazy hip-hop — and the slower, heartfelt ‘Same Sound’. There’s a huge amount of range here, but Taye’s biggest talent throughout it all is in controlling the different sounds and moods that he moves through, which he does like an absolute pro.
Tristan Parker
John Tejada - Dead Start Program

John Tejada

Dead Start Program

Kompakt

House comforts
7.0
Considering dance music remains dominated by short form releases, John Tejada is unusual in studio circles. It’s not that his singles and EPs haven’t been consistently impressive, but with ‘Dead Start Program’ marking his 13th long player, he’s one of the few producers in the house and techno scene that seems to feel truly at home working with the album format. On this latest effort, he’s hardly leaving established comfort zones of the past, instead combining some familiar noises while introducing some logical next steps. Marrying spacey breaks (‘Sleep Spindle’) and full-sounding warehouse pounders (‘Hypochondriac’), twisted downtempo electro (‘Autoseek’) with solid techno squelches (‘Detector'), rave-edged tech to crisp, deep plodders, the result is a solid overview of his many facets brought together in a compendium that somehow still feels forward-thinking rather than trapped in nostalgia.
Martin Guttridge-Hewitt
Everything Is Recorded By Richard Russell

Everything Is Recorded

Everything Is Recorded By Richard Russell

XL Recordings

Soul stars on speed dial
8.0
A co-founder of arguably the world’s most successful independent label, XL Recordings, Richard Russell has kept a low profile with his own musical output. Yet Russell (with Nick Halkes) was behind the 1992 rave classic ‘The Bouncer’ as Kicks Like A Mule. He also produced the final albums for two soul music greats, Gil Scott-Heron and Bobby Womack. Russell’s star-studded debut album as Everything Is Recorded builds on these intriguing foundations, inviting contemporary innovators Sampha, Syd, Kamasi Washington and Wiki to contribute. Indeed, it’s the influences of hip-hop and R&B that permeate this record most. ‘Wet Looking Road’ is a road rap/grime monster featuring Giggs spitting witty bars over a chopped up Keith Hudson reggae classic, while a pared-back cover of Gil Scott-Heron’s ‘Cane’ with Ibeyi is direct and effecting. Immaculately produced, it’s also a considered and occasionally beautiful record.
Ben Murphy
Moby - Everything Was Beautiful, and Nothing Hurt

Moby

Everything Was Beautiful, And Nothing Hurt

Little Idiot

Moby shows he can still play Moby shows he can still play Moby shows he can still play
8.0
Moby might have spent last year gnashing teeth over his country’s political apocalypse, though somehow he also found the time to record what is easily his best album in years. ‘Everything Was Beautiful, And Nothing Hurt’ is equal parts lush and moody trip-hop, as well as somewhat of a stylistic return to his biggest ever hit, 1999’s 12-million selling phenomenon ‘Play’. Avoiding ill-advised attempts at recreating past glories, Moby channels the gospel and soul that inspired ‘Play’, rather than simply Xeroxing it. While there’s nothing quite as iconic as ‘Porcelain’, Moby isn’t plundering samples here, creating instead a new canvas and drafting in LA soulstress Raquel Rodriguez to help him realise it. It’s a moody and haunting effort, though also extremely confident and accomplished, demonstrating Moby still has plenty to say decades into his career.
Angus Paterson
Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto - Glass

Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto

Glass

Noton

Shards of sound
8.0
‘Glass’ captures a live improvisation by Noto (aka Carsten Nicolai, whose Noton imprint this is released on) and Sakamoto recorded last year in Connecticut. It’s the seventh of their album-length collaborations since 2002, but their first since Ryuichi’s cancer diagnosis in 2014. Rehearsing for just one day before the performance, the duo play with a keyboard, mixers, singing glass bowls, crotales and the space of the building itself to craft a gorgeous, spectral sound as fragile and translucent as it is spontaneous and affecting. The feel is of being inside Superman’s crystal sanctuary, a universe of twinkling resonant sound to explore, peals of treated vocals suggestively blended into the peripheries. Redolent of Stars Of The Lid and the antarctic reach of Zoviet France, this is a bleak yet brilliant soundtrack to winter’s melting and spring’s tentative birth. Essential.
Neil Kulkarni
Cavern Of Anti-Matter - Hormone Lemonade

Cavern Of Anti-Matter

Hormone Lemonade

Duophonic Records

Gone to pothole
8.0
Brilliant though they were, Tim Gane’s former band Stereolab could occasionally be a confusing experience: stuffing indie guitars, Krautrock, lounge music and radical political philosophy not only into entire albums, but sometimes three-minute songs. His Cavern Of Anti-Matter project with Holger Zapf and Joe Dilworth almost takes the opposite approach, settling on a single groove and letting it casually unfurl over six minutes or more. But while ‘Hormone Lemonade’ is entirely instrumental, it keeps Stereolab’s earworm melodies as well as their oblique song titles. Although this third album is less guitar-driven than previous efforts, it’s once more heavily influenced by Can, using modular synths and a similar recording technique, patching together long jam sessions. But whereas many artists use Krautrock inspirations like a sixth-former putting a copy of Sartre in their pocket to display pseudo-intellectual pretensions, Cavern Of Anti-Matter actually understand what they’re referencing.
Paul Clarke
D Double E - Jackuum!

D Double E

Jackuum!

Bluku Music

Bluku bluku!
8.5
“Back in the day I used to merk jungle, now manna manna merking grime,” D Double E spits on ‘Back Then’. It’s a reminder of just how long the elder statesman of grime has been in the business, and for that reason it’s incredible to think that 'Jackuum!' is his debut album — even though the N.A.S.T.Y crew founder turned Newham General has enjoyed a healthy career that not many MCs could boast of. Cannily understanding that now is the correct time to drop a grime album, the lyrical farda nails the format, with guest slots reserved for the cream of the crop (Wiley, Kano, Skepta). Bringing his idiosyncratic ad-libs and trademark wit to hazy trap and Swifta Beater-produced 140, Double’s cuts feel like, as Skepta achieved on ‘Konnichiwa’, a next-level, benchmark-setting album rather than a collection of tracks.
Felicity Martin
Palmbomen II - Memories of Cindy

Palmbomen II

Memories Of Cindy

Beats In Space Records

A beautiful tragedy
9.0
We aren’t quite sure who Cindy is — or even if she is real — but she has been the muse of Los Angeles artist Palmbomen II for the last year. This album is a collection of the four EPs he has written about her since early 2017 and is a lo-fi and at times hallucinogenic work that traverses 20 tracks of frosty analogue house, mystic ambient and nostalgia laced chillwave. A sense of pain, loss and longing is palpable throughout. This is music that cannot help but turn you inwards and reflect on your own sadness. But rather than being an all out misery, there is some hope, even in tracks with names such as ‘Wilco’s Funeral’, which paints the passage to the next life with backlit melodic refractions, chopped vocal coos and heavenly chords. With its surreal and dreamlike qualities, then, ‘Memories Of Cindy’ is an intriguing listen.
Kristan J Caryl
C.A.R. - Pinned

C.A.R.

Pinned

Ransom Note

Lush electronic pop
8.5
The sometimes husky, sometimes spooky, sometimes angular vocals of French-Canadian former Battant frontwoman Chloé Raunet have found themselves adorning tracks from Maceo Plex, Ivan Smagghe and Red Axes. ‘Pinned’, meanwhile, is her second long-playing solo excursion as C.A.R. (standing for Choosing Acronyms Randomly), where she vacillates between glacial electronica, groovy post-punk and warming, introspective pop. Mixed by the legendary Steve Osbourne — he of Perfecto, New Order, Doves, and Happy Mondays fame — it all gleams like pristine bodywork. ‘Growing Pains’ smashes together the DNA of The Kills and Alison Goldfrapp, all bass-rasping moodiness. ‘Heat’ ups the tempo, with double claps and analogue whirrs, while ‘Swaggart’ is thick with lush pads, pulsating synths and slo-mo yearnings. ‘Strange Ways’ doles out bell clangs and bleak pop vibes. It's irresistible, as is the sublime dancefloor wig-out ‘Random Words’. Layered and fascinating, it's an album you'll gladly disappear into.
Ben Arnold
Jono McCleery - Seeds of a Dandelion

Jono Mccleery

Seeds Of A Dandelion

Counter Records

Under the covers
7.5
British singer-songwriter Jono McCleery returns with his fourth studio album, and trades out his own writing for cover versions of some of his favourite songs from the early 1940s until the present day. Instead of simply rehashing the original works, McCleery has reworked every selection around subtle string arrangements, studio instrumentation by some of his collaborators and friends and his own delicate baritone. There’s a markedly live feel to this LP, as it was all recorded over 10 days with minimal post-production or editing, and this helps convey the beautifully understated vibe that McCleery seems to be going for. This stripped back rawness is present throughout the album, from the sparse opening of Roy Davis Jnr and Peven Everett’s ‘Gabriel’ to a life-affirming rendition of Beyonce’s ‘Halo’ to the final, tender take of Sébastien Tellier’s heart-wrenching classic, ‘La Ritournelle’.
Zara Wladawsky
Nightmares On Wax - Shape The Future

Nightmares On Wax

Shape The Future

Warp

Dreamy soul
7.0
George Evelyn’s good ship Nightmares On Wax is unsinkable. After a dalliance with acid house at the beginning of his career, he’s sailed through trip-hop with ‘Smokers Delight’; through funk and Afrobeat on ‘In A Space Outta Sound’; and into Balearic rhythms with his latter records, mostly impervious to outside fads. For his eighth album, Evelyn’s not altered the formula vastly, but has a few new ideas. Lead cut ‘Citizen Kane’ is a zingy-fresh soul piece with skittering reggae drums, plush synth chords and electro bass, in addition to a mellifluous vocal from Mozez. ‘Tomorrow’, with long-time collaborator LSK, is a moody reggae lick with a classic N.O.W feel, and ‘Deep Shadows’ is disconsolate R&B with the vocals of Sadie Walker. This is where Evelyn’s expertise lies — as a craftsman of songs — and on ‘Shape The Future’, it’s the instrumentals that fade into the background.
Ben Murphy
Clarian - Television Days

Clarian

Television Days

Balance

Solo synth success
8.0
A few years after his well-received work as one half of synth-pop duo Footprintz, Montrealer Clarian steps out with his own debut album. Written largely on a Casio said to have been “found under the bed of an Airbnb,” it’s a record filled with chilly but heartfelt keys and real structure, rather than just club ready loops. Clarian’s own breathless, unassuming vocals also drift next to cosmic synths that sound as relevant now as they did during this sound’s '80s heyday. While tracks such as ‘Under The Gun’ float by like sonic daydreams, others, such as ‘Space Zap Forever’, have more pumping drums and angular percussion that get you on your toes. There are also honest and heartbroken efforts such as ‘Down And Out’ and acid-laced synth-house jams like ‘West Hollywood,’ which all make this a proper album filled with proper songs.
Kristan J Caryl
Dabrye - Three/Three

Dabrye

Three/Three

Ghostly International

Hip-hop heavyweight
8.0
Ann Arbor producer Tadd Mullinix’s follow-up to 2006’s ‘Two/Three’ sees him reuniting with indie-rap titans DOOM and Guilty Simpson. This time though, he’s mostly left the Omar-S-meets-Dilla setup for a jazzier, warmer, woodier chassis, his sights seemingly set on crafting a ‘real’ hip-hop set. Cutting a cleaner separation between Dabrye and his other aliases, ‘Three/Three’ could sound like an exercise, but this is expertly executed classicist rap, somewhere between Pete Rock and Mo Wax, with shades of Dam-Funk on ‘Sunset’ and Slum Village on ‘Vert Horitz’, bolstered by fine cameos from a vast supporting cast including Roc Marciano, Danny Brown and Jonwayne. Dabrye’s deep-focus straddling of techno and boom-bap surfaces teasingly on ‘The Appetite’, ‘Bubble Up’ and ‘Dr. Shroomen’, but if ‘Three/Three’ is Mullinix out to prove his worth as a trad-rap beat hand, it should silence any doubters.
Sunil Chauhan