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I.A. Bericochea Rojo

Label: Plus 8

It's only coincidence that Ignacio Aguilera Bericochea's name is so reminiscent of the cochlea, that bony, shell-shaped part of the inner ear that's the heart of our hearing, but how fitting it is. I.A. Bericochea's music, a profoundly thinned-out minimal techno that's more absent than present, offers the profoundest kind of intense listening, grounded with bass that reverberates deep in the body and graced with white noise that seems to graze the very surface of the ear drum, like summer grasses brushing against weathered cement. Read more » 

Sustainer Cuantico

Label: Italic

Infusing electronic music with an artistic aesthetic is certainly a more cultured production approach-but it doesn't guarantee great music. A nod to what his label calls new "Spanish Modernism," Barcelona's Alex "Sustainer" Alarcon models his stark tech-house after the same Basic Channel-styled grooves so recognizably purveyed by his German distributor, Kompakt. Yet while Alarcon's ambition is clear, Cuantico bears telltale signs of a novice producer. Read more » 

Various Branches and Routes: A Fatcat Records Compilation

Label: Fat Cat

In these very fragmented late-capitalist days, it seems record labels may not be as different from clothing labels as we may like to think. Not defined simply by putting out what's "good," labels increasingly cater to very particular tastes, dictated by ever-specialized demographics and transient in-sounds. But as the line between fashionista and record geek slims, certain labels-Soul Jazz, Warp, Smalltown Supersound and Lo Recordings, among others-are able to straddle this tenuous divide with splendor. Read more » 

Grand Agent Fish Outta water

Label: Interworld Agency

If you're not paying attention, this album can easily underwhelm. The overall sound is sparse, melodic and unobtrusive. Nothing about it grabs your attention or forces you to listen. But if you're checking for it, there it is: Grand Agent's way with words. He's slick, smooth and sly. In today's world of subpar MCs and superproducers, it's rare and refreshing to hear an album on which the rhymes outshine the beats. "You checking for the raps or the rapper?" he ponders on "What I Want." In Grand Agent's case''m checking for both. Read more » 

Various Rough Trade Spots-Post Punk 01

Label: Mute

If you're under 30 and experiencing the "new" disco punk movement for the first time, this is a perfect compendium, to educate yourself on what happened in the early '80s, the brief merger that's now heading into its official revival. You may have heard of bands like Gang of Four, Scritti Politti and Liquid Liquid from your youth (all of whom appear here), but it's those under-the-radar cuts, like Maximum Joy's "Stretch" and Delta 5's "Mind Your Own Business," that fully flesh out this enduring relationship between rocking and grooving. Read more » 

K.I.T.S and P.I.T.S K.I.T.S 'n' P.I.T.S. Presents Gumbo

Label: ISTS

If titling an album Gumbo seems forced-lots of influences, we get it-it's forgivable when that album comes through, as this disc does. A collaboration between P.I.T.S (a.k.a. P.E.A.C.E. of Freestyle Fellowship) and his cousin K.I.T.S, the album blends styles so easily all you notice is the end result. Read more » 

Defari Odds & Evens

Label: High Times

If the Likwid crew is a family, then Defari is the second cousin. Fortunately, he's got enough rhyming skills to justify his familial pedigree. And this album does contain some good, though it is a bit derivative. Defari's straight-ahead multi-syllablic rhymes sound fairly Eminem-influenced, and he's also picked up a bad Kurupt-like habit of rhyming a word with itself-including rhyming "bitch" with "bitch." Production is of the thumping variety, mostly courtesy of Evidence and E-Swift, but featuring a Dre-like sound. Read more » 

Desormais Iambrokenandremadeiambroken

Label: Intr_version

If looking for tangible clues regarding Mitchell Akiyama and Joshua Treble's duo Desormais, their name may not be the place to investigate. Translated from French as henceforth," Iambroken likewise urges you to come to your own conclusions, using ambiguity as a convincing instrument of suspense. Deconstructed guitars sprawl across the album's length, evoking Fennesz, My Bloody Valentine and Oval. Read more » 

S.A. Smash Smashy Trashy

Label: Definitive Jux

If Def Jux is running the indie rap school, these guys have D-hall on lockdown. Their dirty, shoulder-shakin' bounce-bounce what-what take may offend some backpack beatniks. After years of getting crunk with college kids in Columbus, Ohio, S.A. Smash duo Camu Tao and Metro immortalize their no-consequences tours with odes to booze, blunts and bitches. El-P provides beats 'n' soul on "Illy"; Aesop Rock raps sexy on "Love to Fuck." But the summer anthem for the sloshed has got to be "Get Home" ("How'm I Gon' Get Home?"). Not for the self-righteous, this party schtick is funny if you let it be. Read more » 

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