MAGIC MIX

synthwave . electro-pop . alt-R&B . minimal wave

WEEK STARTING 25 May

Genre pick of the week Cover of Hairless Toys by Róisín Murphy.
Róisín Murphy follows up 2014's gorgeous Italophone EP, "Mi Senti" with her first long player in 8 years and it's well worth the agonising wait. A triumph of ambition, creativity and talent, "Hairless Toys" sees Murphy and long time collaborator Eddie Stevens take us on a catwalk stroll through a kaleidoscopic range of influences and styles without ever missing that crucial turn. Although the refined beats ensure we never stray too far from the dancefloor, the LP never comes close to losing itself in a formulaic mire, switching up tempo and groove like the most forward thinking selector. The wonky cosmic swagger of "Evil Eyes" and headturning dub-not-dub of "Uninvited Guest" bring to mind previous remixer Daniele Baldelli's classic sets, while "Gone Fishing" and "Exploitation" push sleek machine funk into the psychedelic fringes of alt pop. At the centre of the album, "Exile" offers us a moment of stoned contemplation as Róisín pulls us close into the swirling fug of hazy Americana, before she brings down the curtain with the leftfield electronica of "Hairless Toys" and "Unputdownable", a sublime album closer which updates the baroque pop of Kate Bush for a new generation. Murphy's vocals are clearer, smoother and stronger than ever, soaring and swooning over the sonically adventurous production to take us to the most dizzying heights. A strong contender for the 'end of year' lists, "Hairless Toys" is a career defining best from the astounding Róisín Murphy.

FORMAT INFORMATION

LP Info: 180g vinyl pressing.

Ajukaja & Andrevski

Looking For Something That’s Not There / Mesilind

Estonian duo Ajukaja & Andrevski return after last year’s incredible "Rare Birds EP" with two more pieces of wonderfully weird house music on Jon Rust’s label, Levels. Spun by Joy O on his Beats In Space mix plus further support from Tama Sumo & Lakuti, Jamie XX, Call Super. Skip stones on the lake of life with these oddball cuts! "Looking For Something That's Not There" has a gorgeous, languid, liquid quality to it. Like gently floating across a crystalline lake in a jeweled hovercraft while machine elves row softly and silently. "Mesilind" deploys fast paced hi-hats and crackly snares over a rich tapestry of synthesized textures and digitized strings. Ajukaja & Andrevski bring the sounds of your dreams into focus, and should be complimented on their forward thinking but completely sympathetic production. Vinyl only. Mastered at Dubplates & Mastering, Berlin. Each copy also comes hand stamped with an A4 insert.
* Pronounced Aa-yu-ka-ya and And-rev-skee for those in doubt.


Electronic

Electronic

    THe Smiths had split, New Order were on a hiatus, it was  1989  and a dream partnership was born.  It  took two years for Johnny Marr and Bernard Sumner's debut LP to  reach fruition but it was well worth the wait. What was immediately apparent was that Johnny had put Bernard in the driving seat and although a few tracks (most notably the gorgeous lead single "Get The Message") featured his fantastic guitar playing, it was mostly understated and as a compliment to Bernard's synths and beats.  Add into the mix a Pet Shop Boys ' cameo on "Patience Of A Saint" and you have a wonderful , modern pop group  for the 90's. 

    STAFF COMMENTS

    Andy says: New Order meets Smiths in a marriage made in heaven. Did not disappoint!

    Duncan Gray takes a  break from his Tici Taci imprint to drop a mother chugging four tracker of top notch synth sleaze on Andrew Weatherall's Bird Scarer. The multi-instrumentalist and the big man go way back, with Gray providing space guitar on a number of Wevvers' remixes over the years (apparently they call his guitar sound 'pink wray', arf). "Kick Intrusion" opens the EP in a swirl of circular synths, lop-sided rhythms and smooth sub bass, before the dub-chug of "Electric Razor" turns everything up to eleven and takes your head off. On the flip, "Engineer Salute" goes down the slow motion techno avenue, layering fizzing synthlines over a stomping beat, before "Now We Eat" rounds the package off in oddball kosmische fashion. This EP totally nails the ALFOS sound with a musicality and production quality which raises it well above the competition.


    London's Hejira follow up their critically acclaimed 2013 debut album "Prayer Before Birth" with the release of a new EP entitled "Name Surname". Produced by the band themselves and mixed with a little help from Eglo boss, Floating Points, the four track EP sees the three piece push the late night melancholy of their contemporary alt-R&B / synthetic soul into diverse, disorienting sonic spaces. Intricate, intimate and stripped back, each of the four tracks on the release delivers a bold emotional message whilst maintaining a necassary restraint. 

    It's fair to say Khijda's debut EP on Especial was one of the highlights of the label to date. "Mustafa" - in original form and remixed to distraction by Timothy J Fairplay - became the soundtrack for many a Summer party, while "Abdul" was perfect for those deeper late night afters. This time though (Emotional) Especial present a stand alone four track EP of original music so that Khijda's sound can be full explored. Starting with the title cut, the duo aim right for the dance floor, mixing throbbing live bass, guitar and a touch of Eastern mystic vocals that twist and rise higher and higher. This is followed by the deep dub vibes of "Aura", coming on as if the idjut Boys had relocated to Istanbul, the bass rumble and tripped out fx are overlaid with strings, xylophone and even a nice dose of (more) cowbell that is full of funk and ass-moving swing. On the flip things take a warped turn with "Indecis". It's incessant rhythm and Eastern flavour, mixed with 80s style cut up vocals, take the sounds championed by Baris K and Acid Arab to new (and bazar) heights. Finally then, the EP comes down with the beautiful Balearic grooves of "The Quiet Before The Red Stop". With a nod to their roots Khidja again forge their own journey, creating and carving out a sound of their own that is unique and at the same time compelling. Watch the skies.

    Lolina

    Relaxin' With Lolina

    Inga Copeland dons another moniker for another genre twist, this time trying out a fusion of synth-pop, future beats and alt-R&B. After initial MP3 and FLAC dispersal, 'Relaxin' With Lolina' now arrives as a super-limited three track CD EP for us physical formatters. Featuring an unnerving childlike quality on the one side (Copeland's treated vocals, nursery rhyme style lyrics) and a whole gravel load of surface noise and electronic interference on the other, 'Lolin' has an otherworldly, disorienting feel to it. 'Miss Understood' grabs dancehall riddims and fractured pop as its two ingredients, creating some weird alt-ragga-pop hybrid. Unsettling track of the week is 'Relaxx', which has no relaxing qualities at all. Creepy treated vocals and spidery, discordant piano lines, marimbas and mechanical noise make for queasy listening,


    Niagara

    Mustor & Falcão

    The second release on FTD is also the second release of Lisbon based production trio Niagara. Although they haven’t released a record since "Ouro Oeste" dropped on Príncipe back in 2013, their signature sound has travelled through many different guises. "Mustor & Falcão" charts such experimentations during this time, from the ‘fall-over drunk’ guitars on "Falcão", to the wedding bells and released hounds on "Mustor". Garnishing praise from players such as JD Twitch, Midland, Tim Sweeny, Surgeon and Will Bankhead amongst many others, it's the head turning, uncompromising production values that set the record, and the label ahead of the pack. Psychedelic without being hippy, twisted but danceable and exotic without being clichéd, this is the very definition of right now, right now. Fans of Huntleys & Palmers, Principe, Levels, Bleep etc, take note! 

    Since her last studio album "Highwire Poetry" in 2012, Karin has expanded her raw talents even further from her original electro-pop-princess persona down into darker territories. New album 'Apocalypse Pop' delivers just that; gloriously catchy rock-pop-synth tracks laced with deep personal lyrics.

    "I don't want forgiveness there's no-one to blame, like a moth to a flame" - 'Demons'.

    Karin seems to tell a story from start to finish. Every track feels like a statement and she cleverly accompanies them with a magical combination of sultry beats, buoyant drums, delicate piano, and dabbles with a touch of electronica. With titles such as "Life is Just a Dream", "Shake With The Devil", "Opium", and "Look What You've Done", the 'apocalypse' narrative is present throughout. Each track boasts solo personality going from strength to strength with every listen, teamed together they create a melodically brilliant collaboration of Karin's effortless vocals and talent.

    The individual and intimate nature of the tracks enables an instant connection boldly exposing Karin's torments, "she was the breath of air you needed to feel, whilst I was just the water on your wheel” - 'Stick to The Lie'. Karin stands apart from other pop artists doing her music her way, the attitude in her voice screams passion and drive yet she sings with an air of untroubled content. Technically her edgy, gothic vibes shouldn't work as a pop artist and in so many ways she isn't. But the relation between lyrics, vocals, and beats make "Apocalypse Pop" undeniably addictive.

    However it isn't solely Karin who makes this album a success. Her ability to melt easily with other talent creates a recipe for magic as seen on track "Hurricane", featuring renowned film maker and photographer Thomas Knights, the exploration of emotive sound meanders down the alleyways of deep dark dance.

    Continuing to create songs that can be released aside of an album, Karin flitters between genres throughout "Apocalypse Pop". We see a variation of different themes, from dance-synth-vibes on "Whipped Cream", to seductive, basey-rock on "Life Is Just A Dream" and progressive, animalistic, bangra influences on "Hard Liquor Man". On "Let My Love Shine", it's Karin's vocals and lyrical partnership that endeavor to carry the difference in tone from each track. Playfully experimenting with steel drums it leaves you relaxed at the end of an exclusive journey through Karin Park's mind.

    "Let my love shine into the blackness of your eyes, at night when you wake up and your heart is running wild, you'll be alright."

    'For some it might be Kraftwerk, but for me, my favourite electronic pioneers are probably Australia's Severed Heads. They were so far ahead of the game that they had to invent a lot of the technology they used. Inspired, playful, never boring and always sonically brilliant they pushed at the frontiers of electronic music more than most. By the late 80s they were pursuing a slightly more polished course and made a series of records that had the potential to reach a much larger audience. Possibly because of their name they never quite managed that, but they had several big club hits; the dub versions of which crossed over into the nascent house scene. I am honoured that I am able to make the dubs of those three 12"s from 1988 - 1990 available again. On side A is “Greater Reward (Dub)” which has possibly thee most beautiful piano in the history of dance music. Often sampled but never equalled, it still brings joy to dancefloors 27 years after it was released. Severed Heads original production and mastering was so ahead of the game that it needed only the slightest re-master. The original, while perfect in every way was always tricky to DJ with as THAT piano was right at the start so if it was mixed in, it wouldn't get heard until much later in the track. I've slightly rearranged it for DJ use but haven't added anything whatsoever. Side A also includes the majestic original. On the AA side. “Big Car (Crash Dub)” is a masterclass in how to make a track that chugs that is tedium free. At the time it had possibly the heaviest kick drum I'd ever heard and was akin to a mutant cousin of one of David Morales legendary Red Zone house dubs. “All Saints Day (Saints Day Dub)” rounds off the EP with future looking sound design, hypno bass and trademark Severed Heads edit magic.' - JD Twitch

    For me, the most exciting Optimo Trax record we've had in, and there's been plenty! Anyone with a penchant for the darker, more seedier side of dance music needs to check out these bombs. "All Saints Day" was a huge Jamal Moss number in his live sets (and on his Medussa series). The piano power edit of "Greater Reward" is pure hi-energy rave bliss with those strong late 80s drums riding true while "Big Car" should rock any retro-tinged 'Balearic Beat' dancefloor with its bright, feel good production values. Four absolute killers, make no mistake. Recommended.


    STAFF COMMENTS

    Matt says: "Greater Reward" and "All Saints Day" are possibly two of the biggest, yet little known mainroomers of all time! New beat meets early house in pre-1990 Australia! Madness but so, so good.

    Various Artists

    Cherrystones - Critical Mass / Splinters From The Worldwide New-Wave, Post-Punk And Industrial Underground 1978 – 1984

    Eight years have passed since Cherrystones stayed true to his word and compiled the sympathetic sounds of the psychedelic ghetto. We’ve reached Critical Mass and we need to wipe the slate clean. Cherrystones tunes us in to 14 groups separated by locale but united by a restless urge to create on their own terms. From Rizzo’s nihilistic Moogie-boogie to a pre-teen Chandra’s isolated no-wave. Through Dojoji’s Downtown-via-Lagos punk-funk and Fote’s dark, industrial groove, 'Critical Mass' presents a snapshot of an international underground enthralled with the possibility of the new.

    “This compilation was put together through records I was enjoying at that time - loose chips, fragmented discoveries, random punts and the true excitement from that hit of “What the fuck is that?!” It is an exercise in the good and the rad - solid jams from all corners of the world. A veritable platter to switch on the uninitiated or those who hear and feel the truth - it is not an exercise in rarity to make people feel alienated. I know what I feel and I hear the messages and feel the vibrations in these very songs - as will you if you allow them to” - Cherrystones 2015.

    Words on Critical Mass:
    “Cherrystones has rabidly dug through decades of twisted cables and dusty circuits to present a collection of wonderfully obscure yet utterly essential tracks from the dark recesses of a place and time where innovation was a priority and boundaries were non-existent.” - Trevor Jackson

    “Next to Weatherall, Cherrystones knows more about music than anyone I know. These killer post-punk rarities are a must for anyone who thinks they've heard it all but obviously hasn’t…” - David Holmes

    “Critical Mass perfectly captures that electric moment when punk mutated into apocalyptic, synapse-shredding, cyborg grooves.” - Steven Krakow - Plastic Crimewave / Galactic Zoo Dossier

    “Start to finish this compilation is a monster. Once again, Cherrystones makes me feel like I don’t know a thing about ‘post-wave-industrial’ or records in general.” - Gaslamp Killer

    “Tough beats and synthetics run throughout Critical Mass. I’ve been Cherrystoned.” Tom Furse - The Horrors.

    Various Artists

    Kitsune America 4

    Another nod at the America of our dreams but far away from clichés. The Kitsuné America compilation series takes a fresh and ambitious look at familiar Americana. As always there are no fillers on this 4th edition, it’s all about the tune. From Kacy Hill’s futuristic r’n’b, a Kanye West’s protégé, to Heat’s corrosive indie glam, every track is to be discovered at once in this, more on the pulse than ever, latest instalment. Open to radical forms of urban pop and other soulful hybrids the Parisian label, always enthusiastic and curious, keeps on treading exciting paths. And let’s not forget, as usual, some fine, blazing guitars, a recurrence chez Kitsuné. Just like style… edgy but dapper. So tune in to Kitsuné America 4 and get zapped to the sound of the emblematic tunes (or soon to be) of the moving & shaking North American scene.

    With exclusive tracks from Kacy Hill, Basecamp, Dutch Party, Beau, Joyce Wrice, Metoux, Milk & Bone, Mothxr, Ricoshëi, StéLouse.



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