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Review: Mouse on Mars 21 Again

Label: Monkeytown

Andi Toma and Jan St. Werner are better placed than most to tackle the uniquely hazardous task of putting out a double album. Mouse on Mars is 21 years old, after all, and so the simply titled 21 Again is a reflection of a hard-won confidence and maturity after more than two decades of making music. During that time, the pair has covered a lot of ground; each Mouse on Mars album has seen the duo explore and absorb a diffuse array of styles and influences that, while mostly electronic by definition, have delved into the outer reaches of post-rock, hip-hop, R&B, noise, and ambient music. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 10/31/2014

Review: DJ Koze Reincarnations Part 2

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Label: Pampa

When it comes to remixes, DJ Koze (a.k.a. Stefan Kozalla) doesn't follow a strict formula. In fact, the only sure thing about his reworks is that they will always be of a certain quality, because the German dance music curio is not someone who simply loads up a trademark Koze synth and lackadaisically layers it in before firing the results back to whoever commissioned his services. On the contrary, Kozalla's remixes run the gamut: some are subtle reworkings, some tease out only the slightest elements of an original, and some are wholly unrecognizable, but that's what makes him great. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 10/29/2014

Review: Dorian Concept Joined Ends

Label: Ninja Tune

When plotting artists' development, most seem to follow a smooth, upward trendline in which talent, songwriting, and personal voice are all developed in unison. However, on occasion, an exceptional talent like Oliver Johnson (a.k.a. Dorian Concept) comes along and carves out a very different path. Early tracks like 2008's "Trilingual Dance Sexperience" and 2009's "The Fucking Formula" showcased an unrestrained, youthful brashness and also proved that Johnson was capable of creating truly exciting and unique music that was simultaneously novel and heady. Several years later, he's returned—following a lengthy period of relative quiet—with his second LP, Joined Ends, and from the album's opening movements, it's apparent that he's learned to rein in his eminent musicianship while producing something that is both cohesive and edited. His voice has caught up to his talent. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 10/28/2014

Review: 2562 The New Today

Like many of his peers who first rose to prominence toward the end of the '00s, Dave Huismans hasn't made dubstep for a while now. Prior to 2010, his 2562 alias (he also produces as A Made Up Sound) was a vessel for music that was fast, agile, and rhythmically complex; moreover, his tracks had a lightness to them that seemed in opposition to most dubstep artists at the time, who, to varying degrees, applied reverb and sub-bass in thicker, sploshier strokes. That Huismans has retained the 2562 name in 2014 feels significant, because while he's abandoned the lung-busting 140 bpm tempos—like almost everyone else—his music has retained the bristly textures and smog-like atmospheres of his formative early output on Pinch's Tectonic imprint. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 10/27/2014

Review: Fantastic Mr Fox "You Turn"

Label: Black Acre

Many producers claim to have begun making beats in their early teens, but with Fantastic Mr Fox, one suspects that he really did. After all, just about everything he puts his name on positively leaps out of the speakers, leaving the listener to wonder just how the Berlin-based Brit gets them coated in such a visceral sheen (not to mention why he hasn't crossed over more). With drums that ping with irresistible pop precision, wondrously colorful synths, and glossy, lissom grooves, Fantastic Mr Fox's tunes are translucent, the kinds of tracks that should fill up dancefloors and race out of record stores alike. As such, he's been the jewel in Black Acre's crown since 2009, and with his debut full-length pencilled in for early 2015, that isn't likely to change anytime soon. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 10/24/2014

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

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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
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