Sahara Swing is currently being touted as an album of Afro-flavored funk, but the term doesn't really sum up the musical content of the release. Working with Poets of Rhythm producer Jay Whitefield, Karl Hector has crafted an album that's as much James Brown as it is Fela Kuti, as evidenced by swinging guitars, slinky basslines, and scattered snares on the title track. Hector has, to date, only appeared on one 7", but this album, release via Stones Throw affiliate Now-Again, should ensure his persona brought to life in full.
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The cover of this disc–a girl clad in white standing in a bleak, wintery woodland–hints at the contents of this release, the latest from Midwest-born producer Erik Schoster. Combining dreamy pop music with experimental electronics (not to mention an arsenal of bells, harps, acoustic guitars, laptop-processed bleeps, and static), he has created an album that would please both laptop scientists and kids wanting something pretty to listen to while driving a car. And yes, the album is named after the George Eliot novel.
Journalists and critics love to pontificate about "new media" and the phenomenon of "media convergence" and more often than not the discussions devolve in semantic arguments or grandiose visions of a future that never quite seems to be now. Well, beneath the chattering of people who love to hear themselves speak are the sounds of people who are pushing the limits of digital technology and making that grandiose future exist right now. Take digital-renaissance-man Peter Prautzsch as a shining example; the music he makes as Palac nary enters in the material world. From his field recording sources and electronic compositions to WAV/MP3 only releases, his Palac tracks float instantly from person to person without ever touching anyone's hands. Take a quick look around his website and you'll find his video and design work, as well a link to Frozen Elephants, the "Creative Commons Netlabel" he co-runs to release electronic music for free. Of course, it wouldn't matter that much if his oeuvre weren't so deeply in tune with a warm, material world that the work itself never exists in. Wyatt Williams
The Living Legends crew counts eight west coast members among their ranks, spread mostly between Los Angeles and Oakland, California. Prolific crew member Corey Scoffern, known as the The Grouch, has been releasing solo and collaborative albums for well over a decade now, notably recording with fellow Living Legend Eligh as G&E and appearing on a ceaseless stream of singles. Scoffern gave XLR8R a peek into the touring life in Issue 118 and talked about eating healthy, driving his veggie oil/biodiesel powered Ford F-350, and hanging with RZA at The Roxy. "Artsy" comes from Show You The World, a solo album inspired in part by his latest collaboration-parenting. Wyatt Williams
Don and Roel Funcken, brothers from the Netherlands, have made bass-heavy music as Funckarma for nearly ten years - mostly crafting dark, electronic hip-hop beats while also working in the science-fiction-tinged rap group Shadow Huntaz. The recent explosion of dubstep seems to make perfect sense with their style and the new Dubstoned EP1 isn't shy about it. "Senservice" makes some of the shadowy beats and bass we've been hearing so much about lately. Wyatt Williams
In the somewhat faceless world of techno music, Ellen Allien is a shining star. Over the years, her albums and collaborations have rightfully propelled her further into a spotlight that inches close to crossover-pop success, but, her fourth solo album, SooL, is a bit of a deviation from this, steeped as it is in the underground sounds of minimal techno. Her latest tracks capture the heavy and sparse atmosphere of dim gatherings in Germany's reunified capital. The whispered hook on "Bim" is as catchy as it is uncanny, reminding us that Allien can play anything she wants and still keep her subtle touch. Wyatt Williams
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