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Review: Various Retro>Future

Label: Functional Breaks

Aussie DJs Phil K and Ben & Lex offer two funky breaks mixes that sound more like mid-'90s West Coast than post-millennium Down Under. Phil K's set indulges in plenty of trancey overtones throughout, with most tracks sounding like they were plucked from some early AM rave set from around that time. Ben & Lex offer a more minimal and interesting ensemble that shifts into more relaxed grooves about halfway through. San Francisco's An-ten-nae delivers the strongest cuts on each of these two mixes, adding some much-needed electro beatwork to these otherwise dated offerings. Read more » 

Review: Various Nowe:Lle

Label: Viv

What we have here is a failure to communicate. With Nowe:le, the microscopic Vivo label pulls off a gutsy heist of the Clicks & Cuts template, uniting artists from Poland, Japan and the United States under one pseudo-experimental banner. Dime-a-dozen digital effects abound here, but Texas's Yume brightens things up with some inspired use of wind chimes as both percussive and harmonic instruments. Like too much computer-made music these days, Nowe:le plays like nothing more than middle-of-the-road esotericism, proferring seemingly aimless, unfinished pieces. Where's the love? Read more » 

Review: Various Jack to the Future

Label: Resopal

There are certain obvious links between the past and the present: the road paved by the Rolling Stones for the Strokes is an obvious example. Then there's the Duchamp-Warhol connection. Other associations, however, aren't always so easily discernible. Here, the evolution of house is summarized by producers like H?kan Lidbo, Misc. and Rob Acid, who all throw down previously unreleased tracks that blend the details of the modern micro sound with the luscious and pulsating hedonism of early dance music. Read more » 

Review: Various End050

Label: End

Mr. C's Subterrain night at The End nightclub in London has been credited with the birth of the tech-house genre. The superclub has invariably done as much for tech-addled fiends as End Recordings, which celebrates its 50th release with End050. The compilation is a smattering of artists represented by the label to date, such as Tigerhook Corp, Killer Loop, Tone Theory, Layo & Bushwhacka!, and Circulation. As a retrospective, End050 looks back over the eight years since End Recordings' inception, and brings a sense of resolution. Read more » 

Review: Various Ikebana: Merzbow's Amlux Rebuilt

Label: Important

Not exactly a remix album-how does one remix noise?-but a service provided by Merzbow, offering his Amlux album to a wide range of noise tinkerers to have their way with. Slutty, isn't it? Mostly, the artists hold true to form while the thread of noise holds the disparate collection together. As Plug, Luke Vibert uses the dull noise-scalpel to mash Amens; Negativland creates sarcastic dystopic space with the static; and Mouse on Mars uses searing noise to rot guitars. Indeed, selling his noise-soul works wonderfully-across the board, Merzbow adds depth and breadth to the works. Read more » 

Review: Various Brooklyn Keeps On Takin' It

Label: Record Camp

Evidently, the city of Brooklyn is taking some sort of substance that causes its inhabitants to make serious forward-thinking electro-fused IDM and hip-hop. There's a veritable truckload of examples on this vital collection, which hints at a grand future for this upstart label. Heat Sensor clatters along, invoking Manchester's finest. Celine's clarion-call voice from the heavens does battle with an array of sublime obliterating digital abstractions. Satellite Beach drags you to the beautiful electro disco atop Mt. Olympus. Read more » 

Review: Various Jazzanova Remixes

Label: Compos

After years of delivering hot remixes, Jazzanova calls in the favors and treats their track collection to a makeover, with pretty damn good results. There's something here for everyone: hip-hop/soul heads will enjoy Jazzy Jeff, Madlib and King Britt; Stereolab and Ian O'Brian dissect Jazza's catalogue; Domu comes with a broken-beat feel; and DJ GHE delivers on of the best downtempo cuts on the comp. While some of the tracks are exclusive to this collection, most have been floating around on twelve-inch format-it's nice to hear them all side-by-side on two CDs. Read more » 

Review: Xela For Frosty Mornings and Summer Nights

Label: Neo Ouija

John Xela does it up right for us old farts-chilled, melodic, complex IDM, as intricately detailed as later Autechre, but with infinitely more groove and soul. Coming in somewhere between Bola and Boards of Canada, Xela's debut for Metamatics's prolific imprint teems with spatial effects, textured sounds and emotional atmospheres ranging from icy ambience to warm headnodders with funky and heady beats that would probably sound great with a mushroom smoothie. While a few tracks are less than stellar, the majority of the album is an invigorating, if not uplifting, listen. Read more » 

Review: Stewart Walker Live Extracts

Label: Persona

Stewart Walker's departure from his usual isolation-induced compositions may be a function of his recent Discord collaboration with Geoff White. While Walker's past releases have resounded with a divergence from others, Live Extracts finds him working within his older, tech-derived frameworks in new ways. Walker lets loose: the truly live sound of the album lends more to booty-whomp than a desire to pore over the meaning of the conceptual title. A tendency towards polyrhythmic overlays streams an amorphous eventfulness through each beat sequence. Read more » 

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