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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

Review: West Norwood Cassette Library 8 Track Cartridge EP

At present, there's no shortage of dance music mining the sounds of classic house, garage, and jungle for inspiration. West Norwood Cassette Library—the alias of West London producer Bob Bhamra—could be filed into this category, but his work also offers a refreshingly skewed take on dance music's past. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 12/23/2013

Review: Huxley Inkwell

Label: Aus

Following several high-profile releases on Rinse and Hypercolour over the past couple of years, UK producer Huxley (a.k.a. Michael Dodman) has now issued his debut for Will Saul's Aus label. The three tracks—along with a digital bonus track—that make up the Inkwell EP continue in the vein of bass-heavy, big-room garage-house that Dodman has mined with considerable success in his releases to date. Like those previous releases, Inkwell provides a nice balance between melodic hooks and easy accessibility, and includes some deeper, darker strains that are carried forth by Dodman's penchant for seriously formidable basslines. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 12/20/2013

Review: Hackman Change My Life EP

Over the past few years, with releases on RAMP, PTN, Greco-Roman, Well Rounded, and a smattering of other labels, Hackman has steadily honed a sound that draws from R&B, house, UK funky, and garage. His latest release is his first via formidable Bristol imprint Futureboogie, and it sees the producer leaning further than ever before towards vocal-based, R&B-influenced house of a decidedly commercial (at least in the UK) bent. The resulting Change My Life EP is a distinctly soul-tinged affair, one full of well-rounded bass notes and sweeping synths, but the record ultimately presents a sound that is arguably well past its saturation point. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 12/20/2013

Review: Divvorce Vanessa (A Dreamer) EP

Label: Fifth Wall

Fledgling Brooklyn label Fifth Wall is starting to gain some much-deserved traction, and the second EP from co-founder Divvorce is an apt demonstration as to why. The label's releases so far—which include EPs from Physical Therapy, Clouds, Matrixxman, and label co-founder Hound Scales—have walked an intriguing line between bare-boned, stony-faced techno and gestures towards the more playful ends of the rave and bass spectrums. Consisting of two originals and two remixes from labelmates Physical Therapy and Unklone, the Vanessa (A Dreamer) EP purports to be influenced by "pretentious sources" such as Franz Kafka, Darren Aronofsky, and a solitary walk through Paris during Fashion Week, but it's surprisingly lacking in chilly austerity. Instead, as the record's humorous press release suggests, the EP exhibits a very self-conscious brand of seriousness that isn't afraid to have its tongue slightly in-cheek. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 12/19/2013

Review: Sparky Portland EP

Label: Numbers

The reissue of Glaswegian Dave Clark's little-known "Portland" single on Numbers comes with an intriguing and drawn-out back story. Originally issued by the short-lived Stuffrecords label—an early incarnation of Numbers—under Clark's Sparky moniker back in 2002, it was later discovered by the Numbers team that Ricardo Villalobos was a huge fan of the record, setting in motion a plan to have the track reissued with a remix from the minimal legend. The resulting release pairs the electro, Drexciya-tinged title track with an additional pair of previously unreleased tracks from the 1998 sessions that birthed "Portland" and a mammoth, 30-minute-long, two-part remix from Villalobos. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 12/19/2013

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