XLR8R - logo



Review: Actress Ghettoville

Label: Ninja Tune

To his credit, Darren Cunningham has remained a truly uncompromising and incomparable artist since introducing the world to his Actress moniker in 2004. His vision of what dance music can (or, perhaps, should) be consistently toes the fringe of genre expectations, setting trends in the world of house and techno as much as it bucks them entirely. So it's no surprise that Ghettoville, Cunningham's fourth full-length album, hardly sounds like anything previously released by Actress. His project has always been one of exploration and experimentation, but with its gaze locked on the dancefloor more often than not, helping to lend the music an air of levity despite being so cerebral. However, levity is a characteristic that Ghettoville conspicuously lacks. And in the absence of those hedonist inclinations, Actress colors in his dense, hour-plus-long LP with opaque smears of rhythm, sooty atmospheres, and decaying memories of pop music. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 01/27/2014

Review: Various Artists Pop Ambient 2014

Label: Kompakt

For more than a decade, Kompakt has only slightly tinkered with the formula which yields its annual Pop Ambient collection. Now on its 14th edition, the compilation continues to be curated by label co-founder Wolfgang Voigt and still largely depends on a revolving cast of producers, with regular contributors such as Mikkel Metal, Marsen Jules, and Thomas Fehlmann (along with Voigt himself, both under his own name and as Gas) appearing on Pop Ambient's latest incarnation. While the label's steadfast dedication to the original aims of the series is admirable, it may also explain why, in a rapidly changing musical environment, Pop Ambient can't help but seem less and less vital with each new arrival. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 01/27/2014

Review: FaltyDL "Danger" b/w "King Brute (feat. Shanghai Den)"

Label: Ninja Tune

The sound of New York producer FaltyDL (a.k.a. Andrew Lustman) has always been difficult to pin down. Over the course of the past few years, his sonic choices have come from a place of free-wheeling and good-natured appropriation; though his initial output was colored by IDM and he's often lumped in with the increasingly hard-to-define world of bass music, he uses his background as a filter to explore the far-flung and disparate corners of the dance music spectrum. Yet through it all, his personality has always come through in his melodic leanings. Lustman's music is often connected by his preference for enveloping, sometimes noodling, synthesizer playing. Last year, he released Hardcourage, an LP that created an accessible and stable point of entry that played down the more aggressive side of his output. However, nothing stays the same in Lustman's world for very long, and in the case of his latest 12", "Danger" b/w "King Brute (feat. Shanghai Den)," he's back at the task of reinventing himself. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 01/24/2014

Review: Holly Herndon Chorus

Label: RVNG Intl.

The first thing most people heard from Holly Herndon was her 2012 album Movement, an LP that evenly balanced granular studies on human breath with more kinetic, techno-derived sensibilities. Judging by Chorus, her new 12", this dichotomy is still central to Herndon's sound. The producer has an imposing pedigree—she's a Mills College graduate—but even her most experimental moments, on Movement and Chorus at least, have hooks. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 01/23/2014

Review: Container Adhesive

It shouldn't surprise anyone familiar with Ren Schofield's musical output that Adhesive, his new four-track EP under his current Container moniker, makes a wicked racket. After all, Schofield has been producing some variation on experimental noise since 2005. That said, the Container project is arguably his most focused attempt at music making, one that reassembles his influences into a propulsive industrial-noise-techno package. The first two Container LPs (each confusingly called LP) and the Treatment EP placed Schofield within a larger global movement, alongside artists like Regis (a.k.a. Karl O'Connor of British Murder Boys), Function, Cut Hands, and more minimal outliers like Silent Servant and Powell. Now, he's returned with Adhesive, the most hard-charging and brutal Container outing to date. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 01/22/2014

Review: Pangaea Fabriclive 73

Label: Fabric

As one third of the powerhouse Hessle Audio imprint (alongside Ben UFO and Pearson Sound), Pangaea (a.k.a. Kevin McAuley) has spent the last few years amongst the forefront of producers pushing the UK dance music world past dubstep and into a decidedly more hybridized territory. Yet Pangaea by and large hasn't found the same levels of acclaim that are frequently heaped on both of his fellow label heads. His output doesn't have the housier tendencies—not to mention the broader appeal—of Pearson Sound, and he similarly lacks the cultural cache and tastemaker status of Ben UFO, and while this has probably led to McAuley being overlooked in a broader sense, it's something that's also a reflection of his careful and considered approach to both producing and DJing. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 01/21/2014

Review: L-Vis 1990 Presents Dance System Dance System EP

For those who have been following Night Slugs and label co-founder James Connolly (a.k.a. L-Vis 1990) closely over the past year or two, Connolly's new, decidedly Dance Mania-influenced Dance System project is unlikely to come as much of a surprise. The launch of Night Slugs' Club Constructions series in 2012 with L-Vis 1990's own stripped-down, five-track EP clearly signalled the label's interest in mechanistic, hard-driving simplicity, and presented a logical counterpoint to the increasingly cerebral, abstract house mutations the imprint had been offering from the likes of Girl Unit and Jam City. Despite being the label's co-founder (alongside Bok Bok), Connolly's own music has often occupied a strategically tenuous position in relation to Night Slugs, and his career thus far has seen him release records on a diverse array of outside labels, including PMR, Mad Decent, and most recently, Clone's Jack for Daze subsidiary. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 01/15/2014

Review: Mouse on Mars Spezmodia

Label: Monkeytown

Back in the summer of 1994, Mouse on Mars joined what was then the freshest indie-rock/electronic-pop crossover hub of the day by releasing its debut LP, Vulvaland, via London's Too Pure. At the time, the label was home to PJ Harvey, Stereolab, Moonshake, Seefeel, and a number of other acts working the margins and intersections of shoegaze, German space rock, and dance. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 01/13/2014

Review: Alight Iridis EP

Alight is a new undertaking from Ross Tones, who is perhaps best known for his difficult-to-characterize Throwing Snow moniker, and who just this year released a debut full-length—A Small Murmuration—as one half of collaborative project Snow Ghosts. (He also works in tandem with his brother under the name Vellico.) Alight's debut release for Local Action finds the active producer operating in a form that is no less diverse than usual, but the Iridis EP is characterized by a decided jungle influence. However, rather than simply revisiting jungle as an exercise in 'hardcore continuum'-fetishizing nostalgia, the EP sees Tones fusing the harsher, more mechanistic sides of drum & bass with a liquid junglist sensibility and a techno backbone. Injecting plenty of baroque weirdness into proceedings, Tones has produced four original tracks—the EP also includes a remix from Bristol producer Ziro—that are heavy on space and atmosphere, and surely represent the deep end of the recent jungle revival. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 12/23/2013

Follow us on...

Get the lowdown weekly newsletter

XLR8R Downloads Player