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Review: Various Artists It's a Berlin Thing Vol. 2

Label: Dangerous Drums

If the first volume of this series from last year didn't put the world on notice about Berlin hometown's exploding beat culture, this 30-track double-CD will leave no doubt that the city's truly on fire. Though Dangerous Drum's focus since it's '01 birth has ostensibly been on uptempo breakbeat, It's a Berlin Thing Vol. Read more » 

Review: Four Tet Rounds

Label: Domino

If some artists make "bedroom" music, Kieran Hebden's is gloriously, unequivocally "outdoors" music. His pastoral Pause was summertime incarnate, hazily ripe and warm "folktronica." Rounds sees Four Tet again creating beauties that are at once densely swarming and breathtakingly expansive as it sets out for journeys across windy bridges by foot. It's a far more dynamic album, with chimes and leaves and scraps of static scuttling along the ground, getting swept into tiny, dizzying vortexes. Much of Rounds feels a shift in cycles, a change of seasons in the air. Read more » 

Review: Lee Fields Problems

Label: Soul Fire

I've considered Lee Fields's "I'm the Man" to be one of the finest pieces of new-school funk for years, and finally it's on an album, surrounded by songs of equal quality. Comparisons to James Brown are inevitable given Lee's vocal style, but Problems is much more than an attempt to ape the Godfather. The production is perfect for this material, full of grit and open spaces, and-perhaps with a nod to future samplers-there are open drumbreaks galore. Read more » 

Review: Souls of Mischief Spark

Label: Chocolate Industries

I'm a Souls of Mischief fan, so I automatically raise the bar on quality. "Spark," to me, is a good song-nice head-bob beat and the rhymes are cool, but sound compromising. These guys are better than what they portray on this record. I would suggest they listen to the Politics of the Business album and re-record their material. Read more » 

Review: David Duriez Reborn EP

Label: Gourmet

Gourmet offers up "spiritual awareness" from Brique Rouge label founder David Duriez. With its spoken-word message, this tightly produced record is strong enough 2 exorcise any demon on the dancefloor and dark enough 2 shine through the soul. Read more » 

Review: I'm Not a Gun Everything At Once

Label: City Centre Offices

He's a slippery character, that John Tejada. Just when you think you've got a hold on where he's coming from-along comes another project, or alias, and he wriggles free. Everything At Once, sees the prolific producer pair up with guitarist and bassist Takeshi Nishimoto-with heavily folk-accented electronica the end result. Perhaps ironically, on an album dominated by subtlety and soft swathes of sound, the urgent "Make Sense And Loose"-where the guitar is underpinned by sharp beats and distorted bass growls-proves a standout, and a possible hit on the more adventurous dancefloor. Read more » 

Review: Gold Chains Young Miss America

Label: Pias

Gold Chains's debut full-length is full of musings on the evils of fame and crass materialism, although to try to make out any sort of linear storyline from his lyrics would be a total waste of time. Chains bounces back and forth between rapping about sex and offering social commentary, throwing in plenty of metaphors along the way. Read more » 

Review: Various Artists Blueprint 3

Label: Slip n Slide Blue

Gathering tracks from some of the most ultra-reliable labels on the globe at the moment (Ubiquity, 20:20, Guidance, Mantis) Slip n Slide Blue's latest outline of deep house and broken beats is as delightful as ever. Mixed by Aloha Pussycat Steve Jones, there's precious little here that won't enchant you. While the likes of Silicone Soul's remix of Random Factor and Q-Burn's "This Time" are serene floaty stuff, the later stages throw up a few quirkier gems like Annie's "Greatest Dub" and Wordless People's squeaking exclusive "Sunrise." True house with a special twist! Read more » 

Review: Gotan Project Santa Maria (Tom Middleton's Cosmos Mix)

Label: XL

Ex-Jedi Tom Middleton adds his signature Cosmos touch to this Gallic tango trio's "Santa Maria," taken from their debut album. Middleton spices up the original with sizzling synths and building beats on the main side, while Peter Kruder weighs in on the flip with a quirky, off-kilter, beat-driven retool. A tasty little package. Read more » 

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