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Reviews: Leftfield / Experimental


Review: Jaga Jazzist One-Armed Bandit

Label: Ninja Tune

If Fela Kuti recruited a nine-person band with modern electronics, fiery guitars, and a full horn section in Norway, Afrobeat might sound like One-Armed Bandit. Like Charles Mingus' big bands, Jaga Jazzist relies on well-schooled players to navigate multilayered song structures that practically demand 3-D pop-up charts to write out, then charge through them with an interlocking, untrammeled joy that transforms a potentially chin-beardy mix of instrumental jazz and post-rock into something closer to a cerebral-yet-gutbucket funk. Read more » 

Review: Radian Chimeric

Radian are no strangers to deconstruction. Through past albums like 2002's rec.extern and 2004's Juxtaposition, the Austrian trio has taken apart every aspect of their band—rhythm, melody, and songwriting—and rebuilt themselves into a glitchy, experimental post-rock outfit that defies categorization. Read more » 

Review: Zelienople Give It Up

Label: Type

Somewhat confusingly described in their press materials as a "jazz trio," Zelienople may share Bohren & der Club of Gore's fixation on Angelo Badalamenti's Twin Peaks music, but they cut that dreaminess with wandering clouds of guitar-nourished despair. It gives the proceedings a smudged and inconsolable soiled-American vibe similar to Steven R. Smith's music, with a few formal nods to ambient electronic. Read more » 

Review: Ernest Gonzales Been Meaning to Tell You

Label: FoF

Been Meaning to Tell You is an album whose actual music is only half the story. Released by the innovative LA label Friends of Friends, the latest record from Ernest Gonzales is accompanied by a book of art pieces for each track, a viral website, and a covers version of the album, as well as the preceding EP with extra non-album tracks. Read more » 

Review: Lightning Bolt Earthly Delights

Label: Load

Rhode Island duo Lightning Bolt is one of the rare groups you don’t want to change. Their m.o. is so potent, it would be misguided for them to deviate from it. Drummer/vocalist Brian Chippendale and bassist Brian Gibson make hyper-tense, swarming noise rock that moves with exhausting speed and power while avoiding cartoonish macho posturing. Read more » 

Review: Yura Yura Teikoku Hollow Me/Beautiful

Label: DFA

This 20-year-old Japanese trio's greatest liability is the psych baggage they're saddled with. On a major label in their own country, the band's previous releases were put out Stateside by Mesh-Key, a label run by Invisible Conga People's Justin Simon; Hollow Me/Beautiful finds the band on DFA for one of the label's most uncharacteristic releases. Their tenth album blasts off with smooth jazz saxophone rather than mega-fuzz guitar, and "Dekinai"'s two-note tremolo riff only sounds familiar in comparison—like someone dropped The Fall into an episode of H.R. Pufnstuf. Read more » 

Review: Massive Attack Heligoland

Label: EMI

Seven years in the making, Massive Attack's Heligoland doesn't quite carry the comeback expectations their Bristolian trip-hop compatriots from Portishead faced when releasing Third, but that's probably as good thing, as Heligoland isn't in the same league. Although it's better than their 2003 disappointment, 100th Window, and also sees the return of founding member Daddy G, the album is more of a continuation than a reinvention. Read more » 

Review: Shlohmo Shlomoshun Deluxe

Label: FoF

The re-release of LA/SF-based producer Shlohmo's mini-album, Shlomoshun Deluxe sounds fantastic if you're stoned. A clear-headed listen, however, reveals its production to be sub-par. Not that it sounds bad; the patron of beats and bass, known to friends as Henry Laufer, admits to using less-than-professional methods and second-rate gear, a not-uncommon practice in his peer group (see FlyLo's consistent vinyl crackle). Read more » 

Review: Four Tet/Toro Y Moi There Is Love in You/Causers of This

Two producers take very different paths to aural bliss.


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