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Review: Huxley Blurred

Label: Aus

A radio-ready UK garage album is a destination that Aus has been heading towards for a while. The eight-year-old imprint is a house label, but most artists on its roster have grown up on a resolutely British diet of dance music. One of its best records, Joy Orbison's The Shrew Would Have Cushioned the Blow EP, is a seminal exchange between melody-rich house and dubstep's asymmetrical gallop, and it gave Aus, and many other labels like it, a renewed confidence about their own heritage. More recently, acts like Dusky and Huxley have offered Aus a route into the sort of easy-on-the-ears house music that has begun to populate the UK's commercial radio playlists. Blurred, then, is an album—the first one Aus has ever released—that confronts both of these ambitions from an artist who is as good a representative as anyone for the label's sound these days. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 10/23/2014

Review: Cooly G Wait 'Til Night

Label: Hyperdub

Fans of Cooly G (a.k.a. Merissa Campbell) have come to expect certain things from her music at this point—sultry, rippling house, laced with a lot of dubby whispering of sweet nothings—and Wait 'Til Night, her latest LP, still bears traces of her signature sound. However, the album's title is no joke. One could swear that Campbell used to be more subtle. A few years ago, her scattered drums would form the backbone to a repeated "missing you," or some commonplace phrase like that. It was possible to listen to her tracks during the daytime. The content on Wait 'Til Night, however, sounds wildly out of place anytime before sunset, because the new record finds Campbell constantly pinpointing a very specific eroticism. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 10/22/2014

Review: AnD Cosmic Microwave Background

In the spirit of AnD's approach to its debut album, there's no simpler way to put this: Cosmic Microwave Background is fucking hard. It's a techno record forged in the harshest industrial environments by Manchester-based duo Andrew Bowen and Dimitri Poumplidis, whose prolific workrate has thus far suggested an intuitive approach to making music. This album, however, also bears the intensive focus of two artists who have spent the last five years honing a style of techno that is getting, in their own words, "harder and harder and harder." Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 10/21/2014

Review: Objekt Flatland

Label: PAN

From its opening blast of shattering "glass," it's clear that Flatland, the debut LP by Berlin-based artist Objekt (a.k.a. TJ Hertz), means to make a statement. That initial note is a showoff-y bit of sound design that would sit as a highlight in the middle of a lesser album, but Hertz has a high pedigree; he's worked for Native Instruments and previously self-released a highly regarded series of 12"s, among other accolades, and PAN, Flatland's backing label, is nothing if not esteemed. Some artists like to let their machines think for themselves, letting sounds blur together and emphasizing accidents; Hertz, however, is a control freak, and Flatland showcases this with intensity. As such, it would be difficult to say anything detrimental about the sheer skill required in making it. This is the kind of release that's going to make a lot of producers feel inadequate. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 10/20/2014

Review: John Barera & Will Martin Graceless

Label: Dolly

In a word, the debut long-player from Boston DJs/producers/roommates John Barera and Will Martin is solid. Over the course of the album's eight tracks, there is simply nothing to object to. Essentially a collection of hardware-formed, soul-sampling house productions, one might assume that the record's unblemished run is the result of Barera and Martin playing it safe, but that would be shortsighted. In truth, Graceless is effortlessly refreshing in its conceptual simplicity; these are tracks for tracks' sake, and ones that again prove that a good sample, smart drum programming, and genuine musicality can still make for potent (and pleasantly uncomplicated) dancefloor music. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 10/13/2014

Review: Hieroglyphic Being and The Configurative or Modular Me Trio The Seer of Cosmic Visions

Label: Planet Mu

Chicago's Jamal Moss, who operates as Hieroglyphic Being and under a host of other aliases, has lately enjoyed a peak in popularity. For years, Moss worked in relative obscurity, turning out low-key releases while simultaneously weirding out a lot of people with his intense, and at that time high-pitched, sound (some of those gnarly pitches are easily evened out with a mixer, by the way). He incorporates a slightly slicker, more bass-heavy approach now, which is evidenced in places on The Seer of Cosmic Visions, a new compilation of his work (with "The Configurative or Modular Me Trio") from UK label Planet Mu. Moss' records aren't especially tough to get ahold of, but there are a lot of them, so this attempt to organize the artist's output is welcome. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 10/09/2014

Review: Second Storey Double Divide

Formerly operating under the name Al Tourettes, London-based artist Alec Storey began creating music as Second Storey in 2013 with his Margosa Heights EP. The four-track release confidently marked the addition of yet another talent to Houndstooth's impressive and ever-increasing roster, and now he's returned to the Fabric-housed label with his new LP, Double Divide. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 10/08/2014

Review: Caribou Our Love

Label: Merge

Swim marked a huge shift for Dan Snaith (a.k.a. Caribou). Although the Canadian musician's playfully opaque pop had long been the subject of critical acclaim, the release of his 2010 LP prompted a whole new level of accolades. In the intervening years, he's toured the world several times, supported the likes of Radiohead, and has somehow also made time for his club-focused Daphni moniker, fleshing the project out with 12"s and eventually an LP on his own Jiaolong label. Jiaolong took an instinctive, off-the-cuff approach to house and Afrobeat pastiche, with less intricate (but still realized) productions than his main project. It was Snaith's reaction to popular dance sounds, which he found "really macho" and "super-aggressive," and this dalliance with the club world seems to have changed him. Moreover, it helps explain why Our Love is the most accessible record Snaith has ever released. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 10/07/2014

Review: Flying Lotus You're Dead!

Label: Warp

Steven Ellison has been preoccupied with death for a long time. Before his latest LP as Flying Lotus, he released Until the Quiet Comes—a title which seems pretty self-explanatory—and even earlier, his LA beat-fusion classic Cosmogramma was greatly inspired by his mother's passing. Over the years, friends and mentors such as J Dilla, pianist Austin Peralta, DJ Mehdi, and many others in Ellison's life have died tragically young, and they've all continued to influence his creative work. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 10/06/2014

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