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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

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

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

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

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

NHK'Koyxen Dance Classics Vol. III

Label: PAN

Osaka-born artist Kouhei Matsunaga has been releasing experimental electronic music for nearly two decades under various aliases, many of them using some variant of the initials for Japan's public broadcasting organization, NHK. As NHK'Koyxen, he seeks to deconstruct techno with his own perverse logic. Following a similar mission statement as its previous volumes, Dance Classics Vol. III rarely sits still, instead shifting through as many permutations of techno as Matsunaga sees fit. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 12/18/2013

Robert Hood Eleven EP

Label: M-Plant

Techno veteran Robert Hood has had something of a banner year, releasing two singles from his Motor: Nighttime World 3 album, dropping several ace remixes, and, most notably, issuing the acclaimed Paradise LP and follow-up Phobia EP under his more soulful, house-oriented Floorplan moniker. Even after all of this activity, Hood has managed to slip in one final 2013 release via his own M-Plant imprint. The Eleven EP is almost diametrically opposed to his two most recent, aforementioned full-lengths; where Paradise was geared towards the dancefloor and indebted to the sonic tics of classic house and techno and Motor: Nighttime World 3 was thick with rich, neo-noir atmosphere, Hood's new EP serves up two tracks committed to austere, bare-bones functionality. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 12/18/2013

Various Artists Music for Shut-Ins

Label: L.I.E.S.

Ron Morelli's Long Island Electrical Systems label has become a critical darling over the past couple of years. Essentially the focal point of a certain brand of largely hardware-driven underground house and techno coming out of New York City (although the label includes artists from Paris and Berlin, among other locales, on its roster as well), the imprint's image has been bolstered by Morelli's singular, uncompromising vision—which includes a marked reticence to embrace digital formats and a passion for murky, lo-fi sonics. The label boss is also something of an ideological mouthpiece for the label, which he often defines in opposition to prevailing dance-music trends; it's all there in the title of this latest release, Music for Shut-Ins, which Morelli elaborates is "club music for people who hate going to the club." Continuing what will hopefully be an annual trend of releasing a double-disc compilation of the year's highlights along with previously unreleased material from the label's artists, Music for Shut-Ins follows last year's acclaimed American Noise compilation, and while that release felt like something of a coming of age and a reflection of the label's growing legitimacy, this latest collection digs deeper, highlighting the diversity and experimental tendencies of the L.I.E.S. roster. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 12/17/2013

Burial Rival Dealer EP

Pick
Label: Hyperdub

There is one pressing thought that every fan of Burial will have during their first listen of Rival Dealer: this is not the same producer who released the canonical Untrue LP almost seven years ago. Over the course of that time, the staunchly (almost absurdly) elusive artist has been slowly chipping away at his seemingly perfect style of downcast dubstep, attempting to excavate the essence of that music and apply it to another direction. The results have been scattered, with tunes like "Ashtray Wasp" from 2012's Kindred EP and the b-side of "Truant" b/w "Rough Sleeper" making for the best examples of Burial's attempt at producing episodic, longform tracks, and others proving to be too convoluted to resonate like his shorter pieces. With the Rival Dealer EP, his only release of 2013, Burial seems to have finally reached the core of what made Untrue so phenomenal, and has built around it three new tracks which are largely unlike anything he's made before, even though they thrive on the same lifeblood as his most beloved music. Read more » 

  • Filed under: review
  • 12/16/2013

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