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Review: Cooly G Hold Me EP

Label: Hyperdub

Cooly G (a.k.a. Merissa Campbell) has always been a difficult producer to pin down. Between her self-released Dub Organizer EPs and early singles for Hyperdub, the South London producer was one of the first to effectively blur the boundaries between UK funky, garage, house, and dubstep, injecting an ineffable quality into the mix with her simultaneously icy and emotive voice. Campbell's releases have often had one foot firmly situated on the London dancefloor and the other in deep, dubby, and sometimes decidedly song-based territory. Her Hyperdub debut, "Narst" b/w "Love Dub," is an excellent example, as it paired the aggressive, grimey a-side with the slower, 2-step-inflected balladry of "Love Dub." While her music has always balanced between these poles, what has made Cooly G so compelling to listen to over the years is the way these two sides consistently worm their way into the same tune—even at its most insistent and tracky, Campbell's music is suffused with a smokey ephemerality that is entirely her own. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 01/29/2014

Review: Supreme Cuts Divine Ecstasy

When Supreme Cuts released its debut album Whispers in the Dark in 2012, the Chicago production duo explored a slightly derivative take on cosmic, maximalist R&B and other percussion-rich styles, with flashes of brilliance hinting at the possibility of a looser, more experimental approach on the pair's next record. However, the arrival of sophomore LP Divine Ecstasy seems to indicate that the producers ultimately elected to take a different path, as they've dialed up the color contrast of their instrumentation and have fully indulged their pop sensibilities, resulting in a thoroughly conflicted sound. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 01/28/2014

Review: Todd Osborn Michigan Dream

Label: Blueberry

Detroit-based Ghostly/Spectral Sound affiliate Todd Osborn is one of contemporary electronic music's true characters and renaissance men. Equally at home building hovercrafts or flying airplanes as he is at making jungle as Soundmurderer, house as Osborne, arena metal as Musk, or acid with Tadd Mullinix as TNT, Osborn's restless, eccentric character makes him a truly fascinating personality. The idea for this EP, on the nascent Brooklyn label Blueberry Records, came about during a visit that label boss Drew Lustman (a.k.a. FaltyDL) made to Detroit in 2012. During Lustman's stay, his friend Osborn, in typically flamboyant style, picked him up in "his converted Police Cruiser with spot light" and took him to his house "to listen to unreleased joints by him and his heroes." Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 01/28/2014

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

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