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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 » 

Review: David Toop Black Chamber

Label: Sub Rosa

David Toop makes the kind of music you'd expect from someone who recorded for Eno's Obscure imprint, writes essential books like Ocean Of Sound, and contributes to The Wire. His aesthetic is uniquely eclectic and exotic, intelligently designed, conceptually rigorous and ambient in the best way. That he's creating music this challenging (and disturbing) 30 years into his recording career testifies to both his fecund imagination, and to masterly collaborators like Tom Recchion, Lol Coxhill and Terry Day. Read more » 

Review: Ugly Duckling Taste the Secret

Label: Emperor Norton

Wow, what a fun record-perhaps the most entertaining and enjoyable release of the year so far. The overall sound and feel of Taste the Secret is straight out of the early '90s (and that's a good thing). Ugly Duckling don't use the golden era as mere window dressing-they exemplify it with witty rhymes and dusty production that's packed with breaks and fills that keep the beats from stagnating. Meanwhile, MCs Andy and Dizzy keep the fun-factor high from beginning to end, kicking skillful and hilarious rhymes. Read more » 

Review: Swamburger The Roots of Kin

Label: Eight Dimension

From the beat quality all the way up to the lyrics and delivery, this is a top-notch album. You could tell Swamburger was up for good things after his guest spot with BMF and Beef Wellington of Orlando's Eighth Dimension crew. The Roots of Kin seals the deal. Conscious rhymes and a quick delivery bring to mind groups like Binary Star, Zion-I, Digable Planets and early De La Soul, while Swam occasionally picks up the speed to rolling Outkast flavor. Funky guitars dominate the beats, which hint at an experimental electronic style. Read more » 

Review: The Gas man Remedial

Label: Planet M

Christopher Adam Reeves (a.k.a. The Gasman) apparently derives his recordings from cut-up old classical reel-to-reel tapes which he further mutates via a cheap PC. Around half his tracks have precedents in late-'80s/early-'90s rave, but Remedial particularly intrigues when The Gasman's music-making process produces ghostly aberrations not dissimilar to the reprocessed 1930s ballroom music on The Caretaker's Selected Memories From The Haunted Ballroom. Read more » 

Review: Splinter Group Blowing Down Blue Sky

Label: W.D.T.H.C.

While I'm about as technologically masterful as a toddler with a push toy' embrace, and am schooled in, theories of improvisation and experimentation. Which is frustrating when I enjoy artists like Splinter Group, yet have no idea how they created such intricate sound exploration. Basically, the process involved two members selecting beats to be programmed by engineer Wayne Peet, which were then fed back to the group to expand on as they envisioned. Each piece-anchored by Kaoru on vocals-is a marvel, building layer upon layer of sound to create a harmonious whole. Read more » 

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