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Marie Davidson

So Right

    “Marie Davidson’s voice is one of the biggest pleasures in contemporary electronic music.” - The Guardian

    Marie Davidson is a Canadian electronic producer and performer set to release THE ‘So Right’ EP on Ninja Tune. The single is taken from ‘Working Class Woman’, Marie’s fourth and most self-reflective album to date. Italo Disco, proto-industrial and electro influences leaden with gut-punching weight that makes the record more visceral than any she’s released before.

    Industrial heaviness is balanced by Marie’s spoken text (rather than spoken word); dark, textured soundscapes are counterweighted by statements that carry a darkly humorous edge, making observations on both aspects of club culture as well as more oblique critiques of the modern world.

    The ‘So Right’ EP includes an extended club version and a remix by John Talabot. The EP also includes new track ‘La Ecstase’, a collaboration with fellow Red Bull Academy attendee Lamusa II which is accompanied by a Silent Servant Remix.

    Marie is a member of Essaie Pas with husband Pierre Guerineau (DFA Records) as well as with DKMD with David Kristian (Giallo Disco Records). Marie has also collaborated on previous projects with various artists including Xarah Dion as Les Momies De Palerme, Sleazy with Ginger Breaker and Matana Roberts.

    For fans of Essaie Pas, Nina Kraviz, Lena Willikens, Not Waving, Axel Bowman, Mano, Le Tough, Optimo and Sasha.

    “There’s a tension and depth in ‘So Right’ that is absent in lots of dance music: It’s hilarious and groovy, but never self-serious, asking the listener to have a good time, then question why they’re having a good time in the first place.” - Pitchfork

    Little Dragon back with a self-proclaimed dose of F U N: 'For all the lovers out there, chant along! Dance for peace and unity in this world of madness!' declare the band. Lead singer Yukimi Nagano adds that the EP is about, 'The force of love. Not only between two people but the force of love in this universe as the ultimate ecstasy. Whether that is while you’re dancing at a disco forgetting where you are or just staring at the moon on a clear night, it can be anything. A swim in the ocean, a glance at a stranger - it’s a personal individual thing. Call it what you want but we have all felt it. So, embrace the great mystery of everything that your brain can’t grasp and lose track in the most beautiful sense.'

    The story behind the track’s origins is as idiosyncratic and left-of-centre as you would expect from a band that have spent their career consistently playing by their own rules. 'It started with Fred searching for a wedding march inspired by a Swedish prog funk folk keyboardist called Merit Hemmingson', explain the band from their Gothenburg bunker. 'Erik got inspired by the track and started singing! After Erik wrote his vocal verses Yukimi got a bit worried about his lyrical abilities and stepped in to add her part on the song. Håkan flew to Germany to record a beautifully tuned clavinet. Once the clavinet was recorded Fred and Erik added their flavour with some drums and deep synth bass.'

    The ‘Lover Chanting’ EP showcases the forward-facing, pioneering spirit that has cemented Little Dragon’s status as one of the most universally adored outfits working today. From early collaborations with Gorillaz, SBTRKT, Kaytranada & Flume through to recent tracks with Faith Evans, Raphael Saadiq and the previously mentioned BADBADNOTGOOD and Vic Mensa collaborations earlier this summer, Little Dragon have continued to be at the forefront of the collective music consciousness, consistently inspiring existing icons alongside a whole new generation of emerging artists. The band have also continued a longstanding tradition of working with some of the most exciting creatives across the arts. Having collaborated extensively with IB Kamara (i-D, Dazed, Vogue) and David Uzochukwu (Dior, FKA Twigs, Nike) on previous album ‘Season High’, the band worked with exciting newcomer Vicki King on the imagery for the forthcoming campaign.

    Marie Davidson

    Working Class Woman

    Marie Davidson’s new album turns the mirror on herself. "Working Class Woman” is the Montreal-based producer’s fourth and most self-reflective record: it’s a document of her state of mind, of operating within the spheres of dance music and club culture. Drawing on those experiences, as well as an array of writers, thinkers and filmmakers who’ve influenced her, Davidson’s response to such difficult moments is to explore her own reaction to them and poke fun. “It comes from my brain, through my own experiences: the suffering and the humour, the fun and the darkness to be Marie Davidson.” It’s an honest document of where she currently stands. As she puts it, “It’s an egotistical album – and I’m okay with that.”

    The sound of "Working Class Woman” is more direct than any of her previous outings. She still mines the same influences, from Italo Disco, to proto-industrial and electro, but leadens them with a gut-punching weight, making for a record that’s more visceral than any she’s released before. Industrial heaviness is balanced by Davidson’s spoken text – rather than spoken word, which she sees as a distinct tradition – dark, textured soundscapes are counterweighted by statements that carry a more darkly humourous edge than before, making observations on both aspects of club culture as well as more oblique critiques of the modern world. It’s something that’s encapsulated in the driving momentum of lead single ‘So Right’, which matches pared back lyrics with a melodic bassline and bright synths, her words sketching out a euphoric feeling that chimes with the music.

    Building on the dancefloor-minded trajectory charted by her previous record "Adieux Au Dancefloor” [Cititrax / Minimal Wave], which drew praise from the likes of Pitchfork (“a project that indicates exciting and near-exponential growth in her ability as a writer and producer”), The Fader and Resident Advisor, and opened up her sound to a new, wider audience, earning support from peers such as Nina Kraviz and Jessy Lanza. 

    Queen of the underground, leader of the new school and visceral techno genius Helena Hauff returns to the Piccadilly shelves with a new double LP on the evergreen Ninja Tune. The title has a duality that Hauff enjoys - the German word “Qualm” ( kvalm) translates as fumes or smoke, whilst the English meaning refers to an uneasy feeling of doubt, worry, or fear, especially about one's own conduct. True to form, the record is unapologetically raw and finds her returning to her original modus operandi - jamming on her machines - “trying to create something powerful without using too many instruments and layers”.
    A former resident of the Golden Pudel club in her hometown Hamburg, Helena’s profile and global standing has grown exponentially since the release of “Discreet Desires” in 2015, purely on the strength of her authenticity and her expertly curated DJ sets spanning acid, electro, EBM, techno and post punk. Gigging incessantly (and still lugging a box of records across the world) Helena’s reputation earned her an invitation to join the BBC Radio 1 Residency, she was the subject of cover features for Crack Magazine and DJ Mag, she played headline sets at Sonar (b2b with Ben UFO) and Dekmantel, and at the end of 2017 Crack Magazine declared Helena “The Most Exciting DJ In The World (Right Now)” and her ballistic BBC Essential Mix was voted the best of 2017.

    Born and raised in Hamburg, a self-confessed child of the 90s, Helena was obsessed with the music she discovered via the television on channels such as MTV and VIVA. She recalls her grandmother buying Technotronic's 'Pump Up The Jam’ at the flea market for her and watching coverage of iconic electronic music festival Loveparade in Berlin on TV. She has fond memories of borrowing CDs from the local library and making her own mixtapes - these days an archaic practice but from a curatorial standpoint these were her earliest outings as a DJ. Helena picks out Miss Kittin & The Hacker and Toktok vs. Soffy O as inspirations but it was the self-titled album from 2001 by electro icon Radioactive Man that was "a real eye-opener" providing the stimulus for her to dive in and immerse herself in the music and culture.

    At university Helena studied first for a Fine Art degree, but whilst she enjoyed the emphasis on experimentation and artistic freedom, she realised that she didn’t have an innate need to make visual art, the prerequisite for a career in that oeuvre according to her lecturer. However, she did have exactly that compulsion in regards to DJing: “I was obsessed with DJing, there was no question that I had to do it. It wasn’t about the money, I just wanted to DJ somewhere,” she explains. Next Helena enrolled on a degree in Systematic Music Science and Physics. Heading in almost the polar opposite direction to her Fine Art background, it was a highly technical syllabus incorporating maths, physics and acoustics but perhaps on some level this juxtaposition of science and art has shaped her approach to coaxing music from her machines?


    Barry says: Hauff brings the heat for her newest one for the legendary Ninja Tune, with shadowed beats clashing headfirst with snarling resonant 303 and clattering industrious ambience, a brilliantly produced LP, and a thoroughly rewarding listen.


    2xLP Info: 2LP black vinyl housed in a 5mm spined outer sleeve. Includes artworked 12” poster insert

    2xLP includes MP3 Download Code.

    British musician and producer Leon Vynehall is part of a vanguard of artists expanding the ambition of electronic music. Highly respected for his musical output, he has established himself as a genuine artist, releasing bodies of work that are layered with musicality and craftsmanship. Previous releases have consistently received critical acclaim. "Music For The Uninvited’ was widely praised and featured heavily on many of 2014’s Best Of Year polls including XLR8R (#3 album), DJ Mag (#3 album) and Mixmag (#6 album). Follow up "Rojus" (2016) received another long list of accolades including DJ Mag’s Album Of The Year. It also featured in Pitchfork’s Top 20 Best Electronic Albums Of 2016.

    "Nothing Is Still", released on Ninja Tune, sees the producer turn his hand to languid jazz meanderings, futuristic tropicalia and sun-baked downbeat. It's a slower and more deliberate operation than his frenetic, neon-tinged house music that's previously been his calling card. Here we find Leon in calm and sedate mood, rich in musicality and emotion and turning his back somewhat on the clubs and dancefloors occupied by the under 25s. 


    Matt says: Nice to see ol' Leon Vynehall spreading his musical wings here and offering up summat completely fresh. Ambient, jazz-tinged and most tropical, this is the producer taking a well deserved, horizontally-aligned rest; and we should all revel in its glory.


    LP Info: Heavyweight vinyl.

    LP includes MP3 Download Code.

    At last, Mr Scruff's 1997 self-titled (although often referred to as "Mrs Cruff") debut album gets re-issued! It's a fantastic collection of instrumental tracks indelibly marked with Scruff's sampladelic cheekiness and fat, deep BASS heavyness. Opening with the soundsystem-like "Sea Mammal", the album works its way through head-nodding hip hop breakers like "Bass Baby" and "Bonce", via the warm jazz moods of "Jazz Potato" and "Night Time" to the funky jazz-breaking "Crisps" and club smash "Chicken In A Box", setting out a statement of intent (fun, funky and fat) for all his future tracks. A welcome return of this northwest classic, I remember obsessing about Scruff early on in my music discovery and I'm proud to see after just over twenty years I wasn't wrong! - this still sound mega today! (not something that can be said about all of Matt's furtive musical steps... - ed).


    CD Info: CD includes three bonus tracks.

    Actress X London Contemporary Orchestra


    Following the release of the ’Audio Track 5’ EP and live performances at the Strelka Institute (Moscow), Barbican Centre and Tate Tanks (London), electronic producer and musician Darren Cunningham AKA Actress and the London Contemporary Orchestra (LCO) release a full album of their collaboration on Ninja Tune entitled ‘Lageos’.

    Originally performed at the Barbican in February 2016, the project was curated by Boiler Room and LCO with support from Arts Council England and Ninja Tune. The music created a synergy between both live electronic and acoustic components, not just in the harmonies but in the way the traditional instruments were spliced into new hybrid instruments. As part of the process, Actress and LCO augmented traditional piano and created sounds from objects as varied as temple bowls and plastic bags. The show, a massive sell-out success, eventually lead to the release of this much anticipated album.

    For the album, LCO recorded the individual instrumental parts as stems at Spitfire Studio then sent to Actress to manipulate, in turn delivering some truly unique new pieces. LCO also went on to reinterpret Actress classics ‘Hubble' and ’N.E.W' among others from his catalogue.

    "In many ways the collaboration is about exploring an ambiguity of sound that sits between electronic and acoustic spaces; something that we’re aiming to push further as part of the live shows,” says the LCO’s Hugh Brunt of the collaboration. “For much of the set we look to realize as close as possible the timbres and colours of Actress’ electronics through acoustic means (which he in turn responds to); something of a physicalisation of those synthesized or sampled sounds. That has involved utilizing various accessories: plastic bags (for white noise or to emulate an EQ’d hi-hat); keys; Blu-Tack (to dampen the piano’s upper strings); milk frothers on harp strings, etc."

    The project’s genesis was very much inspired by, as well as performed at, the mecca of brutalism – the Barbican Centre. Iannis Xenakis, a Greek composer and architect who would create buildings to fit his scores, and scores to fit his buildings was an inspiration, Actress and LCO took architectural layouts of the Barbican and created sounds directly inspired by its shapes.


    Barry says: A less beat-driven adventure for Actress, focusing mainly on the texture and interplay between found sounds and a classical orchestra. Fitting in nicely to his previous dusty electronic workouts, Lageos is a fascinating and impeccably curated suite of brutalist ambience and avant-garde electronica.

    Peggy Gou


      Currently the most glittering starchild in the house cosmos, Peggy Gou has enjoyed a meteoric rise in recent months, probably due to the fact she's fucking brilliant. Previous outings on Rekids, Phonica White and Technicolour have had us giddy with adoration and this latest EP on Ninja Tune keeps the times good and our cerebellum shuddering. The 12" opens with the magnificent "It makes You Forget (Itgehane)", an acid tinged taste of mechanical soul that's incidentally the biggest house heater of the year so far. Peggy's warm vocals (appearing for the first time, and in her native Korean no less), ride a wriggling acid B-line and rolling drum pattern, intersecting perfectly with the smooth vamps and crystalline chimes which lend the track the kind of naive and optimistic charm you may remember from early Prescription records, Dream2Science and your first pill. Switching over to the B-side you'll find the sci-fi synthery, propulsive groove and medicated charms of "Hundres Times" and lastly the spectral electro of "Han Jan". Immaculately turned out in Jee-ook Choi's spacey sleeve art - this is a must have!

      Cocoa Sugar, announced in November 2017 that Young Fathers had a brand new album and it has been highly anticipated since. The trio – Alloysious Massaquoi, Graham ‘G’ Hastings and Kayus Bankole – marked the news by previewing a brand-new song, ‘Lord’ and a subsequent accompanying video. Just like their previous standalone 2017 single ‘Only God Knows’ (written for the Trainspotting T2 film and described by director Danny Boyle as “the heartbeat of the film”), ‘Lord’ provided an enticing glimpse of what to expect from Young Fathers’ third full album; something typically unique and exhilarating, but leaner, more muscular and self-assured than ever before. Cocoa Sugar sees Young Fathers operating with a newfound clarity and direction, and is without doubt their most confident and complete statement to date.


      Millie says: Long awaited but is now finally here, Cocoa Sugar is refreshingly original as their new sound is bold and irresistibly good.


      Coloured LP Info: Limited edition for indies - 180g single blue vinyl gloss laminate printed 3mm spine outer sleeve designed by Hingston Studio with photography by Julia Noni. Lyric printed inner sleeve. Comes with Download code.

      LP Info: Single black 180g vinyl, gloss laminate printed 3mm spine outer sleeve designed by Hingston Studio with photography by Julia Noni. Lyric printed inner sleeve. Comes with Download code.

      CD Info: CD version housed in card wallet with a gloss laminate finish designed by Hingston Studio and photography by Julia Noni. Inner wallet also contains a lyric poster.

      Nabihah Iqbal

      Weighing Of The Heart

        The artist formerly known as synthwave sensation Throwing Shade steps out of the erm...shade and into the spotlight under her birth name Nabihah Iqbal. "Weighing Of The Heart" is a big statement in two ways: firstly because she’s taken her real name to stand proudly as a female British Asian artist making music and secondly, because she’s moved her music in a bolder, more expansive direction, with a greater focus on live instruments. Crunching percussion (think JAMC) lends the LP a lot of drive while spectral vocal fx and swirling guitars reference C86 indie and the psychedelic shimmer of shoegaze. 

        A phenomenal talent, Jordan Rakei is a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter/producer with an incredible soul voice, preparing to release his new album “Wallflower” via Ninja Tune on 22nd September 2017. The record frames soul and jazz in a truly vibrant oeuvre simultaneously recalling his predecessors The Roots and peers The Internet, Nick Hakim and Hiatus Kaiyote.

        Released digitally today, new single ‘Nerve’ is a sweetly swung groove founded on warm organ, bass and effortlessly understated guitar licks courtesy of Dave Okumu (The Invisible). “The song is about the concept of loving yourself wholly and truly before you offset that love onto others,” explains Jordan.

        The New Zealand born, London-based artist is riding high with amazing support from BBC Radio 1’s Annie Mac and Huw Stephens; Mistajam, Toddla T and Jamz Supernova at BBC 1Xtra; plus a coveted playlist spot over at BBC Radio 6 Music in addition to incredible support from Mary Anne Hobbs, Lauren Laverne and Gilles Peterson. He has played Pitchfork Avant-Garde Block Party, Annie Mac Presents, supported Jamie Woon and NAO, and collaborated with Disclosure, Taku, FKJ, Tom Misch, Loyle Carner and Richard Spaven. In 2016 he also released an EP of dancefloor-focused tracks via Rhythm Section under the moniker Dan Kye.


        Barry says: Brilliantly crafted funky rhythms and lush, textural twists in the latest outing from Australia's Jordan Rakei. Soulful, satisfying and irritatingly perfect from such a young soul. *discards music making equipment*

        Bicep - the Belfast-born, London-based duo of Matt McBriar and Andy Ferguson are mainstays in the current dance music climate. Fresh off the back of groundbreaking live performances across the globe (notably Dekmantel but also here at MCR's Parklife) they now present their debut album - as it its taken them this long! First coming onto our radar in 2010, the pair have come a long way since the initial 'NY house revival' that set their careers alight after running a tastemaking blog - Feel My Bicep. The perfect summation of the duo’s career to date - "Bicep" is a sonic tour of their history touching the cornerstones of underground club culture. Matt and Andy have pulled off the rarest of feats, to make a singularly unique electronic record founded on the blueprint of classic house, techno, electro and Italo disco, but flipped and morphed into a fresh design bearing the unique Bicep sonic signature. It’s a perfectly succinct album: loose, raw and energetic enough for the dancefloor, yet refined, artfully composed and contemplative enough for home listening.


        2xLtd LP Info: Debut album from Bicep on double heavyweight 180g black vinyl in a gatefold wallet with printed inners. Includes download code and 1 of 4 different front cover designs (selected at random).

        Remixes of tracks off The Invisible's "Patience" long player, released last year. The package includes a who's who of new musical talent, with Peckham's Chaos In The CBD and FYI Chris rubbing shoulders with Millionhand's owner Tee Mango and northern trio Darkstar. Up first, "Love Me Again" gets taken into broken beat territory by Chaos In The CBD. Sounding authentic as ever, with the soulful vocal fitting perfectly with the syncopated, warm beats and jazzy Rhodes licks. "So Well" gets fractured, pitched and re-arranged by Warp's Darkstar, providing a suitably angelic hybrid of electro-pop, glitch and techno across a succinct five minutes of post-pop brilliance. Flip the disc and we return to Peckham as Chris and Chris deliver a funky yet dreamy take of "Love Me Again", allowing an unhurried arrangement room to develop slowly but deliberately, shunting the trickski, shadowy grooves of previous releases for a more bright-eyed, optimistic outlook. Having only a couple of remixes under their belt previous to this, it's great to see the lads bring summat new to the table - top one! Finally Tee Mango takes time out from running a leading fashion brand to conjure up a shimmering slice of deep house majesty, transforming "K Town Sunset" and Connan Mockasin's melancholic delivery into a radiant, sunrise burner that should see a wealth of emotions pour out of anyone lucky enough to hear it play.

        Forest Swords, aka acclaimed Merseyside-based producer Matthew Barnes, returns with his eagerly anticipated new full-length record.

        “Compassion" engages with an uncertain world we’re experiencing, distilling it into a unique sound territory: Barnes' exploration of the mid-point between ecstasy and frustration, artificial and human feels timely and affecting. The result is an assured, compelling body of work, tying together the ancient and future: weaving swathes of buzzing digital textures, field recordings, clattering beats and distorted jazz sax with fizzing orchestral arrangements.

        "Like many, with all that's been going on since I started making the record, I've struggled to see any kind of light at the end of the tunnel," says Barnes, "so I realised there's some sort of power in trying to create our own instead. I'm inspired by the ways we're communicating now, for better or worse, and thinking about new channels we can distribute ideas. The idea of looking for flexible future ways of expression and language, that bends to our needs quicker, really excites me”. Barnes launched the record with a unique experiment in new ways to disseminate music, personally sending album tracks through messaging app WhatsApp to anyone who asked.

        The album shifts from 'The Highest Flood's skeletal bounce to 'Panic's claustrophobic paranoia; the rapturous hyperballad 'Arms Out' to the windswept and cinematic ‘Knife Edge’, navigating through the orchestral glitch of 'War It' to decaying jazz thump of ‘Raw Language’. The album is equal parts disorienting and immersive, balancing bold sweeping gestures and crumbling textures; tracks seemingly disintegrating and reassembling at points across the album. Blending both digital and specially recorded brass, strings and vocals, Barnes's processing never truly makes it clear what's new or old, sampled or unique, constantly blurring and toying with the line between digital and acoustic.

        There will also be a variety of multidisciplinary projects set to run through his Dense Truth umbrella over the coming year: collaborations across dance, performance, film and music. Previous Forest Swords projects include devising and scoring contemporary dance piece ‘Shrine’, composing for the ‘Assassin’s Creed’ video game, collaborating with Massive Attack on their new music, and scoring the first movie made entirely with drones – 'In The Robot Skies’ – which debuted at the BFI London Film Festival.

        Central to this enthralling world is “Compassion", an album that's as weighty as it is vulnerable, sculpting the most striking parts of his previous work into something that feels urgent and necessary, and cementing Barnes as one of the UK's most significant electronic artists and composers.


        Martin says: I’ve always had a soft spot for Forest Swords paranoid, rhythmic soundscapes. That the emotion that inspires Matthew Barnes' music is born of his view of the current political situation, the brooding angularity hung on its sparse frame is hardly surprising. An uneasy marriage of analogue and electronic fragments, shot through, reflecting the world situation perhaps, with a germ of hope.


        Deluxe LP Info: Deluxe version of the LP is a gatefold sleeve housing an additional 12” x 12” art booklet + 12” x 12” insert

        For me, Actress exists in a sparsely populated world of pure muses. Throughout musical history you have people at the very forefront of a generation or culture. Artists who relate to a time and environment rather than appeal to specific genre constraints of an fleeting aspect of club culture. Artists who truly put 'art' before anything else - often challenging the norm and usually way ahead of what the general consensus then later terms as cool. I put Darren Cunningham in this class, alongside Bowie, Kate Bush, Prince, Jamal Moss, AFX, Burial and Madonna. A grand statement I know but as the esteemed producer reaches album number five his artistic focus and future vision is unrivalled. The simplest you could say about "AZD" is that it’s art - the unique creation of a unique mind. There will be few more distinctive, brilliant or visionary suites of music released in 2017. Shimmering through a holographic prism its opening trilogy of tracks shines with new industry and broken societies; mixing dissonance with rhythm unceremoniously. Side B twists and churns through a multitude of audio processes, the very fabric of time space audible as Actress switches our receptors onto maximum sensitivity; offering up two painfully current club cuts in the process ("X22RME" & "Runner"). As side C slide gracefully in with the neo-orchestration of "Falling Rizlas" Actress prepares us for the demonically epic "Dancing In The Smoke" which defies categorization entirely, spinning old school hip-hop vox through an audio spiralizer and swirling metallic washes. Side D opens with the alluring "There's An Angel In The Shower", fluttering electronics gentle serenading us through highly emotive micro-chords. Finally "Visa" sees the Actress depart us in spritely, mischievous form, playful arpeggios rambunctiously motoring away as Cunningham pours hot white noise and electromagnet shards over the recording medium. It's been another awe inspiring, and at time uneasy vision of the future and how it's gonna sound, but Actress welcomes in the new with a wry smile and comforting gaze.


        2xColoured LP Info: Available to independent retailers as a deluxe 2LP edition pressed on clear vinyl and housed in a metallic silver bag outer sleeve.

        Nathan Fake has grown from his beginnings as an undeniably skilled, but relatively inoffensive purveyor of twee IDM (see the cutesy electronic rhythms and circuit-bent melodies of 'Drowning In A Sea Of Love') into a powerhouse of challenging electronics and innovative melodic constructions.

        The brash and stomping 'Feelings 1' could easily be stretched into a 6-minute long OPN track from his early catalog, but retains its impact and drive in part due to it's brevity, letting up after only a couple short minutes with a thematic segue into the thumping title track. Utilising his tried-and-tested technique of a filtered-out beginning into a revisitation of that theme, but injected with fiery percussion and swooning synthplay, Fake constructs a towering wall of chaotic arps and fizzling saturation, underpinned by distorted kick drums and dusty pads.

        'HoursDaysMonthsSeasons' is much more along the lines of Border Community heavy-hitters Holden or Luke Abbott, pitching tweeting modulars and syncopated throbs against a droning foundation of fire and brimstone. As with all of Fake's more recent work, this is a deep and rewarding experience, but gives as much as you do, revealing it's complexities through patence and perserverance. 

        Moving further along (we have convered the towering 'DEGREELESSNESS elsewhere), we move into ambient territory with 'SmallCityLights' which is a relaxing and much-needed respite (make use of it while you can) before the thudding dystopian sidechained duality of 'Radio Spiritworld'. Like a pack of robots fizzing and staggering towards a neon sun, we get chillwave guitars, industrial hammering and crackling electronic connections, coming together into a bracing mix of rampant retro-futurism and forward-thinking outsider 'tron.

        Providence is as contrary and (I imagine) divisive as anything Fake has accomplished thus far, founded upon his considerable talent for writing a dancefloor stomper, but abstracted into the outer realms of melodicism and rhythm. A challenging, towering behemoth of an album, that will confound and amaze in equal measure. 


        Barry says: Nathan Fake does OPN. Shimmering synths, soul-shaking drone and abstracted rhythms mashed together (amazingly) into a brittle and brutal amalgamation of conceptual genius and technical mastery. A++, Will listen again.

        Simon Green, aka Bonobo returns with his sixth album – the masterful, magisterial “Migration” – is a record which cements his place in the very highest echelons of electronic music and indeed, beyond. By turns lush, manic, beautiful, melancholy, joyful, packed with both emotion and technical skill, this is perhaps his most ambitious attempt yet to capture the very textures of human existence in his work, as Green says of the broad dynamics on the album, "Life has highs, lows, loud and quiet moments, beautiful ones and ugly ones. Music is a reflection of life."

        It is a theme with a personal as well as a sociological aspect to it. Last year, a close family member passed away. “My Family and I are all disbanded and spread to far corners of the earth,” explains Green, “In the end we did the funeral in Brighton. My own personal idea of identity, where I am from, and what home is, has played into this record and its migratory themes. Is home where you are or where you are from, when you move around?”

        It's tempting to relate Green's emotive aesthetic to his sense of dislocation. He grew up in rural Hampshire with a father heavily involved in the British folk scene. "We would have endless folk jams in the house. There would be random banjo and violin players crashing in the garage for the weekend.” Not that he was necessarily feeling his dad’s taste at the time: “I was a grubby little skater back then, listening to alt-rock, hardcore and hip hop”. But no doubt this phase was an early musical education, indeed Green started learning to play guitar, piano, 4-track tape recorders and effects pedals in this period, building up soundcscapes from an early age. His move to Brighton is also a key influence; his skill at drum programming harks back to his days DJing and producing in the small, musically fertile town. Under the initial guidance of Tru Thoughts' Rob Luis and at nights such as Phonic:hoop where he began to regularly play all-night DJ sets.


        Barry says: Has it really been almost 4 years since Bonobo's last full-length? Yes! yes it has, but the wait has been worth it. This is an altogether more soulful affair, still packed with the sort of downbeat rhythmic mastery you've come to expect but imbued with a melancholic and matured aura that only adds to mr Green's veritable mastery of his craft. A triumph.


        2xLtd LP Info: Double 180g, deluxe gatefold, with art cards and Migration ‘zine.

        2xLtd LP includes MP3 Download Code.


        Last Night On The Planet

        Letherette return with their second album for Ninja Tune. Imbued with the duo’s signature warmth and distinctive swing, “Last Night On The Planet” is ten tracks deep and runs the gamut from hip-hop (featuring raps from Rejjie Snow and Stones Throw’s Pyramid Vritra), to straight-up four-to-the-floor house trax, uptempo ‘80s R&B-inspired dancefloor heaters, and deeper, introspective downtempo moments (blessed by Jed & Lucia of Ubiquity Records). With a wide range of RIYL artists including Lone, MCDE, Lapaluz and Flako, don't let the street ready rap of "Momma" lull you into thinking this is gonna be a straight up hip-hop LP. "Rich & Dan" displays Letherette's ear for a warbled, head twisting sound design. "Shanel" treads the electrofunk / boogie route that we've seen Letherette rock so well in the past while tracks ""Wootera" and "Bad Sign" display Letherette's love for a banging house beat. The speed in which Letherette changes style and direction through the album is striking if nothing else, not only displaying the varied production talents of this artist but also a lesson in how to structure an album in a dynamically pleasing fashion. Excellent stuff!

        After bagging himself a top 20 finish in last year's Piccadilly chart, Romare returns to the long format with sophomore offering "Love Songs: Part Two", a set inspired by all aspects of L.O.V.E. But before you start thinking Archie's gone soft on us, cop a load of teaser 12" and LP highlight, "Who Loves You?", a sexy and sassy slice of disco house which keeps on pumping from start to finish. These ten tracks develop and expand upon the casual brilliance of his debut, "Projections", merging disco, blues, soul and jazz elements into a dusty set of crate dug brilliance. Whatever Romare does it’s held together by his own unique aesthetic, a sonic signature which stamps everything he does as his and his alone. LP opener "Who To Love?" keeps things slow and sleazy in a beatdown fashion before "All Night" locks us into a hypnotic disco groove which bleeds into the sample house madness of "Je T'Aime". "Honey" and "Come Close To Me" swirl and shuffle respectively while "Don't Stop" is a chopped and screwed groove for very late at night. Onto the C-side and we're cutting serious rugs to aforementioned club banger "Who Loves You?" and rolling shoulders suggestively to the seductive sounds of tropical interlude "L.U.V.", a breathy breather before the Paperclip People style stomp of the totally techy "New Love". The set closes in nocturnal soul mode with the laid back loops and spirit nourishing melodies of "My Last Affair". An original reaching the height of his game, it’s time to listen and fall in love - swipe right for Romare!


        Patrick says: London’s king of soulful sound collage returns with a head nodding, groin thrusting set inspired by L.O.V.E. Intricate, unique and right in the groove, this has all the ingredients to show you the night of your life.


        Coloured LP Info: Exclusive white double vinyl version available to independent retailers.

        Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

        2xLP Info: Double LP pressed on heavyweight black vinyl housed in black polylined paper inners. Original artwork by Romare, screen printed on outer sleeve.

        2xLP includes MP3 Download Code.

        Producer, DJ and NTS resident Illum Sphere (Ryan Hunn) returns to Ninja Tune with his second full length ‘Glass’. An album stretching nine dynamic but focused tracks reminiscent of Helena Hauff and Kassem Mosse.

        Hunn replaces the sharp turns and drastic shifts in altitude of 2014’s ‘Ghosts Of Then And Now’ with mechanical depth and a beating cohesiveness hinted at on his ‘Second Sight’ and ‘Spectre Vex’ 12”s. It’s a shift that’s bled into his acclaimed DJ sets and recent mixes for fabriclive and Dekmantel, previously drawing support from Benji B, Thom Yorke, Ben UFO and NTS.


        Patrick says: On this striking sophomore offering Illum Sphere fuses regimented drum machines and spectral techno with late night ambience and icy coldwave to create an audio snapshot of a lonely winter in Berlin.


        CD Info: Glass mastered black carbon CD in an uncoated softpack
        with clear matte varnish detail.

        Travis Stewaert aka Machinedrum returns with possibly his career-defining album. Written during the early stages of this year, which saw Steward move to California and start exploring esoteric and new age sounds. This concept of sound as a healer, or as a way of expanding our mind is something he's trying to carry throughout the execution of the album. From opener "Lapis", Machinedrum immediately grabs our attention - slowly an arpeggio ascending to heaven which, apparently building towards the mother of all drops, instead fades up and off into the ether. "Morphonogene" swiftly carries the listener into some skitty, future-proof beats backed by what will become the albums ident - pitched angel vox set to a half-tempo swagger. "Angel Speak" continues the theme with euphoric stabs building and rising before a huge snare roll signifies the drop into bass heavy wobble - the post-everything production ethos coming through strong on this number while MeLo-X offers understated, classy assistance.
        The music throughout is scintillating, stimulating and stylish; from the mind-candy riffs of "White Crown", the ecstatic d&b finale of "Do It 4 U" (featuring an absolute stand-out vox from singer-of-the-moment D∆WN). From the smile-inducing, melodic brilliance of "Colour Communicator" to the precision and build of "Dos Puertas" featuring Rihanna collaborator Kevin Hussein, one of those albums that displays perfectly what it sounds like to be alive RIGHT NOW, without a thought of looking backwards. There's a plethora of collaborations: the aforementioned MeLo-X; Jesse Boykins III offers a moment of astral r&b goodness on "Celestial Levels"; Rochelle Jordan provides the lift off as Machinedrum works the rhythm flips on "Tell U". There are also contributions from Ruckazoid, Roses Gabore and SK Simeon. It's a tour de force of future musica and we love it! Recommended. 


        Matt says: Thoroughly invigorating listen from Machinedrum, exploring new styles and sounds with ease and finesse. Perfect for anyone wanting a glimpse into the futuristic progression / hybrid of bass and pop music


        2xColoured LP Info: Independent retailers exclusive on special edition transparent / white marbled heavyweight double vinyl in a gatefold sleeve.

        The Invisible


        Listen to The Invisible’s new album, 'Patience', and what you will feel most strongly is the band’s sense of “joy and gratitude for being alive.” The experiences of Dave Okumu (guitar, vocals), Tom Herbert (bass & synthesizer) and Leo Taylor (drums) since the release of their last album, 'Rispah', both individually and collectively, mean that the group “have gained a deeper understanding of the value of life,” and a mission to communicate that to the listener. On 'Patience', they achieve these aims with a kind of effortless transcendence.

        From the opening bars of the wonderful “So Well”, (featuring their friend and collaborator Jessie Ware), the feeling of joy pervades the record. Although the group have worked on this record with Anna Calvi, Rosie Lowe, Connan Mockasin and Sam Shepherd (Floating Points) as well as Ware, the sense of collective excitement and pleasure in music-making is what holds sway. It’s an album which hints towards the London soul of Ware, but combines it with the experimentation of the LA beat scene (where Dave Okumu went to write many of the songs) and the raw funk of D’Angelo.

        Shortly before the release of Rispah (itself a heartfelt tribute to Okumu’s dead mother), Okumu was electrocuted while playing with the band onstage in Lagos, Nigeria. It’s possible that only the intervention of Herbert, who pulled his guitar off him, saved his life. This personal sense that the band have of deliverance has lead to Patience, not least their sense that they are “the luckiest men alive.”

        Joyous without losing any of its intelligence or compositional rigour, the record takes its title from an unfashionable but profound idea - that, if we want to solve problems we have to be prepared to work and to wait rather than expecting instant results. It was an idea clarified when Dave found himself playing in Paris only a week after the gun attacks which ripped through the city on November 13th 2015. On his way home he read an interview with the Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield in which he talked about a realisation that could only have come to him in space: “What started seeping into me on...seeing all the ancient scars, was the incredible temporal patience of the world.”


        Coloured LP includes MP3 Download Code.

        King Midas Sound / Fennesz

        Edition 1 - Instrumentals

        Ninja Tune keep the goodness coming with this collection of instrumental versions of the critically acclaimed "Edition 1" album. "Edition 1" is born from of a startling collaboration between The Bug’s Kevin Martin, singer / poet Roger Robinson, vocalist Kiki Hitomi and Austrian guitar virtuoso Fennesz. The first in a series of four collaborations between King Midas Sound and different artists, the album draws on the raw energy of The Bug’s 2014 album "Angels And Devils" with the experimental soundscapes of Fennesz’s 2001 album, "Endless Summer" and his more electronica-focused work on Touch.

        Deluxe heavyweight vinyl. Spot gloss pattern on HD matte sleeve. Artwork designed by Optigram.


        LP includes MP3 Download Code.

        King Midas Sound is comprised of Kevin Martin (The Bug), singer/poet Roger Robinson, and vocalist Kiki Hitomi. Their landmark 2009 debut 'Waiting For You' on Hyperdub quickly established them as falling sonically somewhere between sub-electronic lovers' rock, dub and the bleakest, slowest mutation of narco hip-hop, while on the live front they were nestled somewhere between the apocalypse and FX-drenched, shoegaze laments. In both arenas they are known as a brooding sonic force. With a move over to Ninja Tune and the release of 'Funny Love' an even deeper sense of spaciousness began to set in. That track’s dramatic tonal shift acted as a catalyst for the idea of a conceptual collaborative project to be born. Hence this first edition (in a series of four), appropriately titled 'Edition 1'.

        'Edition 1' features collaborator number one, Austrian guitarist / electronic musician Fennesz. His 2001 album 'Endless Summer' was a swirling mix of electric tonal guitars and sweeping emotional shifts which inspired and sparked an admiration within Kevin and Roger to bring him onboard. Utilising improvised guitar tracks, samples, and unreleased material from Fennesz's archive, 'Edition 1' took shape within the KMS framework. In the wake of Kevin's last Bug album 'Angels & Devils', he wanted to create a record focused on kaleidoscopic sonic beauty, bathed in the bluest emotional lyricism. This record reflects the group’s past, present, and a truly extraordinary future.

        'Edition 1' is a tide coming in. A fog reaching out into nothing, and encapsulating everything. An ultimate parting note drifting into absolute loneliness, swept up in a sumptuously blurred, dronal haze. Hallucinatory tone poems of heartbreak, despair, disappearance, and displacement. Seductively spatial sketches of long goodbyes. Music to cling to or to be used to move past. Sounds set adrift on their own tonal plain and reigned back in by Roger & Kiki's complimentary, yet extremely different deliveries. Cosmic blues meets a siren’s song. A zonal re-examination of "It's Raining Today" or an audio representation of a Sugimoto "Seascapes" photo... A high water mark forever etched to memory.

        Seven Davis Jr releases his debut album 'Universes' via Ninja Tune – his most honest and heartfelt musical statement to date. Recorded in LA, San Francisco, Amsterdam and London, it’s a unique exploration of his musical landscape, traversing tempos and flipping styles with typical panache but always embedded in the bedrock of soul and funk.

        Born in Houston, Texas, before relocating to Northern California, Seven Davis Jr was raised on the classics - from Michael Jackson and Prince to Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin. He studied gospel and jazz singing, inspired by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and Burt Bacharach. During his teenage years he discovered dance music, specifically house and jungle.

        SDJR’s early Bandcamp output was more closely aligned to Los Angeles’ vibrant left-leaning electronic underground. Nurtured by the Hit+Run crew, he owes his first official release to Kutmah (who bagged "Thanks" for his ‘Worldwide Family Vol.2’ compilation on Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood imprint in 2012). It was the only four-to-the-floor jam on an album curated by a DJ who is rarely drawn to that style and that fact alone is significant.

        When he’s making straight ahead house music, the swing is reminiscent of classic Todd Edwards and the drums bump ‘n’ shuffle like Tuff Jam and Derrick Carter. And the vocals… well at times it’s like he’s channeling the spirit of George Clinton, offset with the sweet character of Peven Everett - the perfect balance of rough and smooth - it’s that undeniable funk that hooks in the hip-hop fans, the cats that don’t generally mess with “house” music. "Good Vibes" (feat. Julio Bashmore) nails this dynamic in a whirlwind 3 mins 18 secs that recalls Daft Punk at their boisterous best - proof that sometimes all you need is a chopped-up disco loop and a hook.

        Elsewhere on "Universes" Seven brings a similar soulful energy that Moodymann or Theo Parrish purvey. "Sunday Morning" picks up where Seven’s "Wild Hearts" 12” left off, a mighty ditty with the cheeky mantra “I bet ya never had a love like this before?” sitting pretty upon bustling drums and bass punctuated with snatches of guitar. “It’s about having healthy confidence in yourself and what you can offer the world,” says Seven. There are more introspective moments on the record too – such as "Fighters" and "Afterlife" (feat. Kutmah) – that explore murkier downtempo depths.


        2xLtd CD Info: Exclusive indies-only 2CD edition with an additional disc featuring bonus beats from Seven’s ‘Life In Deep Space’ poetry opus.

        Annabel Lee

        If Music Present: By The Sea...And Other Solitary Places


          Independent record store (and Soho institution) If Music presents a magnificent alt-folk album by the little known duo Annabel (lee) for Record Store Day 2015.

          ‘By The Sea… And Other Solitary Places’ invokes the haunting classicism of Claude Debussy and Erik Satie, intermingled with the quiet folklore of Nick Drake and Joni Mitchell, tipped with the jazz stylings of Miles Davis and Billie Holiday. The duo’s moniker is the title of a poem by Edgar Allen Poe.

          “I had the pleasure of first seeing Annabel and Richard (on guitar) perform back in 2007, when we all did a gig at the Three Blind Mice’ in East London. From her first phrase to the last, I was completely enraptured by the compositions and Annabel’s angelic voice that, though new, seemed so hauntingly familiar” - Jean-Claude, If Music.

          Recommended if you like Beck, The Cinematic Orchestra, Joni Mitchell, Linda Perhacs, Vashti Bunyan.

          Both the CD and vinyl LP formats are limited to 500 copies.

          Although he piqued the collective interest with a couple of intricate and textured EPs on Black Acre, it wasn’t until the speaker smashing brilliance of "Roots" dropped on Ninja Tune in December 2014 that anticipation of this long player reached fever pitch. Taking inspiration from the vibrant collages of American artist Romare Bearden, London's Archie Fairhurst assembles his sampledelic productions from the building blocks of Afrocentric musical heritage. But don't confuse Romare with the myriad of sampler bashing producers without a creative bone in their body, "Projections" is the work of a true scholar of black music and culture, fluent in the musical language he's created and in possession of a sophisticated and inventive approach to production. There are hints of my favourite Detroit producers here, as we hear echoes of Kenny and Theo at their most samplistic, but the nuanced approach is Romare's alone. The disco house brilliance of ‘Roots’ is present but stands alone as a mainroom attraction amid an abundance of jazzy beatdown, relaxed footwork and future soul riches which sound as good on headphones or in the living room as they do over a system. This is without doubt an early contender for record of the year.


          2xLP includes MP3 Download Code.

          Since April 2013 Bonobo has travelled 180,000 miles and played live to over 2 million people at 175 shows in 30 countries as part of the epic career-defining tour around his latest album ‘The North Borders’. To document and celebrate this feat in all its glory, Ninja Tune present ‘The North Borders Tour: Live’. This special live release celebrates the tour ahead of the final ‘The North Borders’ show at Alexandra Palace, London in November 2014.

          The album will be released as a deluxe CD and DVD set in deluxe packaging with a 72 page portrait sized hardback clothbound book in wibalin fine linen wrap with cyclus offset inner pages containing live photographs, Bonobo Instagram tour diary, anecdotes from Simon, the band and crew and a foreword by Gilles Peterson. The DVD contains 60 minutes of live footage taken at Pula Amphitheatre (a genuine Roman Amphitheatre and among the six largest surviving Roman arenas in the World) and The Roundhouse, interspersed with documentary footage and extras including photo gallery, extra videos and a time lapse video.

          The live LP / CD includes newly mixed and mastered recordings from seminal Bonobo shows including Pula Amphitheatre (Croatia - Dimensions Festival 2013), The Roundhouse (London 2013) and live radio sessions at Maida Vale (London), KEXP and KCRW (US).

          Evelyn Jane Mason and Jeremiah Klein met in Vancouver in 2011 and connected via a shared love of bass music, R&B and pop. Though their work is collaborative, Jeremiah leans towards production, with Evelyn providing startling vocals and frank lyrics. The results are enthrallingly hazy.

          Popping up two years ago in February 2012 with a staggeringly brilliant 12" via Canadian creative collective and imprint King Deluxe, FACT compared Evy Jane's "frozen pop futurism" to the likes of Clams Casino and The Weeknd, whilst Pitchfork simply labelled it "stunning," giving it a Best New Track feature. Newly signed to Ninja Tune, Evy Jane's Closer EP neatly rounds up the duo’s sonic excursions since their explosive debut.

          Inherently DIY, Evelyn and Jeremiah draw upon Vancouver's mystical aura to create a world that mirrors and magnifies it. From self-directed videos to hypnotic songwriting, Evy Jane is inspired by the hooks and melodies of R&B as much as the sub low shudder of the UK’s shifting bass music spectrum and the ebb and swell of tidal synth washes and grainy atmospherics.

          Title track "Closer" draws the listener into its swirling electronic textures, catchy melodies and bass. The effect is to be caught helpless in its current, and the combination with the song’s lyrical plea for further closeness is heady. ‘Nothing So Great’ is a simply magical combination of synths rising gradually from heavy to urgent with commanding vocals describing the dark aftermath of sex. "Sosoft" is future R&B that charts the fear and wonder of romance via fathoms-deep bass and utterly beguiling vocals, dark veins spreading through lullaby softness. Final track "Worry Heart" ventures into dubbier territory, a recollected vision of failed reassurance seeing Evelyn’s vocals soar: "You are so damn fair. With your anchors gone, you are floating too free".

          The beautiful 'Closer EP' vinyl format features artwork by the amazing Leif Podhajsky.

          It’s a new Mr. Scruff album and you know what to expect, right? We widdle on about sexy potatoes and bouncy bacteria offering you a cup of tea, you have a little chuckle and actually make a brew, you stick on the album and… hold on. Because you see, quietly and without a lot of fuss (cos that’s not the way the Stockport Strepsil rolls) Mr. Scruff aka Andy Carthy has been evolving and developing his music.

          So yeah, you can still count upon a shedload of gritty funk and stony soul (not sure where this metaphor’s going..?) but the new record displays a stripped back musicality, a depth that maybe hasn’t been there before. It’s been coming across his last few releases, but this is the most complete, sustained exploration of where his music is at right now. In Carthy’s own pithy words it’s “tougher, sparser, less samples, more bass. More vocals and collaborations and shorter tunes.”

          If this record proves anything, it’s that there’s more, much more to the work of Andy Carthy than dancefloor grooves and funny cartoons.

          Don’t worry though - it is still one sexy potato.


          2xLP includes MP3 Download Code.

          If there's one thing occasionally lacking in the current crop of electronic wonders, it's fun. Fun is what sets Letherette apart, what makes them more than just another act in electronica, and what makes their self-titled debut a classic album. Letherette is, dare we say it, a classic of 'dance' music generally.

          The young duo from Wolverhampton have won hearts, minds and feet with four EPs, stunning remixes for Machinedrum and Bibio, and exuberant live shows. It's easy to see why they inspire such enthusiasm; they understand the cutting edge without feeling afraid to let themselves go, and their music is all the better for it. Letherette explores mood confidently, taking in introspective, melancholic moments as well as upbeat drive, and lending their debut extraordinary depth.

          If you're someone that wants to enjoy music as much as you admire it, Letherette will put a big, day-long smile on your face.

          'The North Borders’ is the eagerly anticipated fifth studio album from iconic Ninja Tune artist Bonobo, and features appearances from Erykah Badu, Grey Reverend, Szjerdene and Cornelia.

          Three years on from his breakthrough album 'Black Sands', 'The North Borders’ has kept to a similar widescreen electro-acoustic soundscape, providing us with another selection of upbeat downbeat gems. Opener 'First Fires' has the melancholy and post-dubstep clicks and blips of a James Blake production, given extra similarity by Grey Reverend's vocal. Bonobo has been playing with 2-step rhythms for a while now (check 'Black Sands' favourite 'Eyesdown'), and now with the UK garage revival in full swing, cuts like 'Emkay' and 'Know You' sound right on point for 2013. House cuts like 'Don't Wait' and 'Antenna' lead the way to an alternative dancefloor, while 'Cirrus' features a similar intricacy to Kieran Hebden's polyrhythmic creations. Star guest Erykah Badu adds typically sublime vox to string-laden wonky-hop cut 'Heaven For The Sinner', while upcoming singer Szjerdene is equally ear-catching on future R&B essentials 'Towers' and 'Transits'. 'Jets' expands on the kind of crackling atmospherics of a Burial production, adding lush strings and organic percussion. 'Sapphire' has a rolling dubstep rhythm, but with plucked harps and vocal samples sewn into the mix. Bonobo leaves us wanting more with the beatdown downbeat album closer 'Pieces', featuring sweet vocals by Cornelia and uplifting strings and woodwind.


          2xLP includes MP3 Download Code.

          Grasscut’s debut "1 Inch: ½ Mile" was named Electronica Album of the Month in Mojo magazine and was one of the Sunday Telegraph’s Top 10 Pop CDs of 2010. If that album featured a mix of songcraft and electronica, follow-up "Unearth" tips the balance towards songs. It’s a more vocal record and both the legendary Robert Wyatt and Gazelle Twin contribute - alongside main vocals from Grasscut composer, producer and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Phillips. Unearth proves once again that Phillips is a songwriter of note, truly traversing any notion of genre with seeming ease and considerable depth. Grasscut’s Marcus O’Dair features on double bass; Seb Rochford of Polar Bear guests on drums.

          Grasscut are uniquely concerned with place, with location, with the physicality of the world around us and how we represent that physicality through stories, poems, maps, myths and, most of all, music. "1 Inch: ½ Mile" carried this idea in its title, a reference to map scales, and in the fact that its nine tracks were accompanied by a map of the lost Sussex village of Balsdean. "Uneart"' continues and deepens this journey: it features ten songs shaped by landscape and memory, each inspired by a specific location in Britain.

          Inspired by Philip Larkin’s poem of the same name, the opening track, “Cut Grass”, was written after a visit to Spurn Head near Hull. Upcoming single Pieces, classical minimalism meets post-rave Penguin Café Orchestra, is set at a literal road to nowhere: an unfinished flyover in the outer reaches of East London. “Blink In The Night (East Coker Version)" began in a New York bookstore, with the chance discovery of the order of service from TS Eliot’s funeral, but ended up in East Coker, the Eliots’ family seat. “Reservoir", a harmonically unsettling string epic about a drowned village, is set at Lake Vyrnwy in Wales. “A Mysterious Disappearance”, a collision of electronic beats and 1920s lounge jazz featuring Gazelle Twin, is about Agatha Christie’s flight from fame to a Harrogate hotel. “Lights”, a dazzling cornucopia of strings, piano and vocals, was inspired by the 4.6 million shells of Margate’s backstreet Shell Grotto. “We Fold Ourselves” is a cyber duet between Grasscut’s Andrew Philips and 1950s contralto Kathleen Ferrier; it was inspired by Surrey’s ghostly Silent Pool, haunt of Alfred, Lord Tennyson. Robert Wyatt (backing vocals, pianos and cornet) guests on beautifully stripped backed closer “Richardson Road”.

          So far so simple. Ten beautiful, evocative songs. Ten locations. Ten double-exposed pinhole photographs in the album artwork. But the record, too, is double-exposed. There is also a shadow version of "Unearth", comprising alternative versions of each of the ten tracks. Each currently exists only on a single cassette, which has been concealed (with Walkman) in a box at each location around the country.

          "Hexagonal crystals have a unique directionality," says Slugabed, "which must be aligned and oriented with Earth's spin axis for every crystal in the inner core." This idea led him to try a computational experiment. If all the crystals must point in the same direction, why not one big crystal?

          Could an iron ball 1,500 miles across be a single crystal? Unheard of until now, the idea has prompted realisation that the temperature-pressure extremes of the inner core offer ideal conditions for crystal growth. Slugabed's high-pressure laboratories have conducted numerous experiments to test these theories.

          The article "Time Team" is a concise documentation of these experiments.

          Greg Feldwick is 23 years old and from Bath. He makes noises as Slugabed. His first releases were on Stuff, Ramp and then Planet Mu but now he is signed to the mothership, Ninja Tune. His music is suffused with a unique mix of humour, next level production, dancefloor smarts and melancholic emotion. “Time Team” is his debut album and we think it’s a belter. The album opens with “New Worlds", a heroic trudge across a vast space landscape, followed by the single “Sex”, a place of wildly suggestive synth squelch. He then takes us deeper, delving into the disembodied anime of “All This Time” and on to “Moonbeam Rider” which combines digital lyncanthropy with a kind of deep funk groove that ought to come with a warning label. Along with the nervous squeals of "Travel Sweets" and the widescreen spangling of “Unicorn Suplex” this is a record that evokes a very particular, very peculiar, but never less than beautiful worldview. An album highlight is “Mountains Come of The Sky”, which has a wonderful rolling rhythm and uplifting vocal, whilst the synth melody goes stratospheric at the mid-point. “Grandma Paints Nice,” distills yet more warmth and emotion from supposedly synthetic sounds, and “Climbing A Tree” sounds like the slow and wonderful death of a computer clinging on to its last, implanted false memory. Crowning the album, electro jam "Earth Claps" takes you on a field trip to the very core of the earth, melts you down and spits you out of a volcano. Lastly, the mood of dislocated melancholy is pushed almost to a nervous breakdown on the closing track “It’s When The Future Falls Plop On Your Head”.

          Asked to explain “Time Team,” Feldwick responds that “it's to do with deep feelings about mostly inexpressible things.” It is indeed an album full of feeling and warmth and humor, a remarkable feat for a record composed mainly on synthesisers and drum machines. You will be hearing a lot more of Slugabed.

          Something witty about crystals or whatever nonsense we were banging on about earlier.

          In early 2011 Luke Vibert told Ninja Tune that he had just found some long-lost never heard before DATs dated 1995-1998 and titled "Back On Time".

          In 1996 Blue Angel Recordings an offshoot of the legendary Rising High label released the "Drum & Bass For Papa" album by Plug AKA West Country king of kitschtronica Luke Vibert, whom at that time had only released under his Wagon Christ moniker. The album remains to this day one of the acclaimed records to emerge from the buoyant and hugely influential electronic scene of the south-west in the 90s. Alongside people like Aphex Twin and Tom Middleton, Vibert filled cassettes with new tunes, hijacked the pirates and revelled in all that was original, twisted and like nothing else before.

          So a few years later and somewhat ahead of the curve, Vibert shook up D&B. Avant-jungle that wasn't made for the 'club', the album was an eccentric bolt from the blue, it shocked many of Vibert's contemporaries but went on to influence many, most notably Squarepusher.

          Until now Plug has yielded just one album - possibly only a humble man like Luke Vibert would have a whole album of top-quality electronic tracks just sat around for over 15 years and not release them. The 10 tracks on offer here include the proto-garage vocal stylings of "Feeling So Special", the demented circus-organs of "No Reality", the hilariously titled "Come On My Skeleton", the old-skool rinse out of "Mind Bending", the skewed bollywoodisms of "A Quick Plug for A New Shot" and all with impeccably produced jungle credentials as the bed.

          Sounding brand new as well as being a lost classic from a electronic icon, "Back On Time" is a release that anybody interested in the progression of dance music should be very curious to hear and enjoy.

          Drew Lustman aka FaltyDL releases his debut EP with Ninja Tune and it’s an absolute cracker. Over its four tracks he shows the range and grasp of rhythm, atmosphere and melody which have made him one of the most exciting producers in electronic music right now.

          Title track “Atlantis” is distinguished by a complex, swinging, relentlessly danceable beat, unfeasibly low bass hits and a melancholic tune which sits somewhere between Four Tet and classic rave. “Can’t Stop The Prophet” shows the DNA of Wagon Christ (an early influence) spliced with the sonics of post-dubstep and the restless energy of an ADHD toddler, ending with a first-love junglist wig-out. “My Light, My Love”, seemingly sampled and built out of the sonic spaces between notes and beats, is perhaps the deepest moment on an incredible EP, while “The Sale Ends” takes us once more back to the skipping feel of a fractured, interplanetary 2-step.

          FaltyDL is one of the hottest names in electronic music right now and the Atlantis EP shows why. Immersed in the old New York and Chicago sound yet creating a more subtle and ultimately futuristic mash-up of influences, Lustman takes his influences and makes them fresh. The sometime sushi-chef and now New York resident has been turning heads since 2008, when Mike Paradinas signed his US-ified versions of UK garage to Planet Mu and released it on an unsuspecting world. Since then, Lustman has looked to expand and evolve his signature sound over two albums, an EP and three singles for the label. In addition, he has released an Afro-beat-inspired 12”, "Mean Streets Pt 1" with Loefah’s Swamp81 label, a single on Ramp backed with a remix from Jamie XX, plus remixes of his own for the likes of Mount Kimbie, The XX, Scuba, Photek, Anthony Shake Shakir and others.

          Is ignorance bliss? That’s the question Emika asks on the second single from her forthcoming and eagerly awaited debut album.

          Once again mixing pop with dark tones taken from dubstep and techno, the sonics reflect paranoid perspectives of relationships poised between fulfilment and collapse. Atmospherics were captured in Teufelsberg, West Berlin on a cold winter’s day. “Double Edge” revels in double-think and mirror logic. Do you want to know, or is it better not to? Do you understand yourself as yourself or as the self other people perceive? "Double Edge" is remixed by Pinch, producer and head of hugely respected Bristol label Tectonic, turning up the atmospherics another notch, ripping Emika’s vocals to pieces until they sound like the paranoid mutterings in a David Lynch movie.

          Emika shows her effortless way of combining cutting edge sonics, with a natural feel for melody and story telling, which stay with the listener long after the first listen.

          The third and final EP in a year-long arc of releases from Poirier on Ninja Tune, leading up to his brand new album in 2010. As with the previous two EPs in the series we get a high-energy mash-up of global beats and pieces, all fed through a 00s electro mincer. "Marathon" combines rough and tumble soca biff-baff beats with a cheeky 8-bit keyboard riff. "90's Backyard" is some futuristic dancehall rhythm track with dirty riffing electro synths. "Coco Drunk" keeps us in the dancehall with a fat drum track and super-fake reggae horn combination - sure to have the bmorebailefidgetelectrokuduro crowd in a spin. Lastly we get "Warehouse". I think that's a warehouse in Sao Paulo circa 2010, rather than one in Blackburn 1988, cos this is a dirty electro stomper just waiting for the inclusion of some live baile-funk MCing.

          With previous long players "Biscuits For Breakfast" and "Distance And Time" Fink has built up a reputation for quality understated singer-songwriting. New album "Sort Of Revolution" continues in the same style, forming a perfect trilogy of work. Although mostly acoustic, the album steers clear of folky trappings, opting instead for more of a downbeat style instead. It's an introspective, slightly brooding home-listening set.

          The Shuttle sound is boundless, genreless, and fresh. One of Ninja Tune's hottest new signings of 2009. Shuttle has an extensive remix history, under the name Etan, with credits including The Death Set, Daedelus, The Little Ones, Micachu and more. There is a massive blog hype already building and spreading fast, plus the track is going down a storm with DJs like Sinden and Diplo, who are both fans. The B-side, "Rotten Guts", features killer vocals from Cadence Weapon, and the package is rounded out with a remix courtesy of Brighton's High Rankin, which is like sheer heavy mental wonkiness and grime reworked with spandex.

          Mr Scruff

          This Way - Feat. Pete Simpson / Hairy Bumpercress

          Another essential vinyl offering from Scruff's CD only "Ninja Tuna" album. "This Way" sees Scruff team up with Manchester soul singer Pete Simpson for some wonderful percussive broken jazz grooves. This is a future uplifting classic, make no mistake. On the flipside we get exclusive track "Hairy Bumpercress" (or possibly "Hairy Bum Percress" - there's a gap in that Scruffy writing), a wicked atmospheric jazz breaker that cuts piano stabs and switches beats to create another floorfiller.


          12" Info: Limited edition 180g pressing comes with free download code.

          "Ninja Tuna" sees the triumphant aquatic-themed return of the reigning yet uncrowned world champion of fish-related cheekiness. Yes, Mr Scruff is back with a long player that's packed with pure funky loveliness from start to finish. The set opens with b-boy hip hop cut "Test The Sound" before heading straight into current single "Music Takes Me Up" featuring Alice Russell ("Donkey Ride" and "Kalimba" also feature), while other special guests include Roots Manuva, Quantic and Andreya Triana. As ever with a Scruff long player we get a nice mix of wobbly bass, funky breaks, jazzy grooves and soulful touches - sometimes all in the same song!


          CD Info: CD comes in deluxe embossed fold out recycled cardboard sleeve.

          Ghislain Poirier is one of the most commanding artists around right now exploring new terrains of hip hop, dancehall and electronic music fused with world riddim idioms. Quick-fast riddims with scattered snare chatting slap up against future electro-funk, fat beat stabs, and sub bass switch-ups. Grimy digital soca gets lit up beside laser beams slicing through congas. Electro-pop gets melodically crunked out. Bodyrocking meets necksnapping in all the right places. "No Ground Under" is a banging record, with enough bounce to make the dance floor quake and bodies shake.


          2xLP Info: Ultra limited vinyl pressing.

          The Cinematic Orchestra

          Live At Royal Albert Hall

          On November 2nd 2007, Jason Swinscoe brought an enhanced line-up of the The Cinematic Orchestra, incorporating the 24 piece Heritage Orchestra, to the Royal Albert Hall and played a show to a sold-out crowd of more than 4000 people. With over 40 musicians onstage at times, Swinscoe and his colleagues used the show as a unique opportunity to open out his chamber pieces into intense, beautiful and exquisitely realised epics which left the huge audience baying for more. Featuring vocal contributions from Heidi Vogel, Lou Rhodes (formerly of Lamb) and Grey Reverend, plus the return of original member PC on turntables, an intense, beautiful night is captured here in all its glory. History as it's lived, human emotion, love and rapture. You can feel it in the hairs on the back of your neck.

          Over the last decade, The Herbaliser's Jake Wherry and Ollie Teeba have established themselves as one of the most innovative and reliable production duos to come out of the UK hip hop scene. This has been achieved, in part, by the kind of constant self-improvement which makes "Take London" their best album yet. You can hear it on the instrumental tracks on the record – the tender, angry "Song For Mary", electro-funk influenced "Gadget Funk", wah-guitared space funk of "Kittynapper" or chase scene jazz of "Geddim'" - where attention to detail and love of sixties soundtracks and library music are all mixed up with a dose of geezer front and b-boy charisma. Of course, The Herbaliser have also always had an eye for a killer vocal guest. Jean Grae (formerly known as What What) has been a long-time collaborator and here she contributes to four tracks, including the storming posse cut "Generals", "Twice Around" and moving "If You Close Your Eyes". The UK end is held up by Nottingham's Cappo (who has released material through Son and Zebra Traffic) and the one and only Roots Manuva. Then, just to finish off – and perhaps remind people how broad the duo's tastes are - there's a scintillating tribute to Serge Gainsbourg, "Serge", with a monologue from Katerine.


          2xLtd CD Info: Limited edition CD in die-cut sleeve. Includes bonus disc of exclusive non album tracks.

          The Herbaliser

          Something Wicked This Way Comes

          Combining live playing by the Easy Access Orchestra, studio trickery by Jake & Ollie with guest vocals from Dilated Peoples, MF Doom, Blade, Wildflower and Phi Life Cipher, this is a cinemtic hip hop tour de force!


          2xLP Info: Hurrah, now in on vinyl.

          The Cinematic Orchestra

          Man With A Movie Camera

          Originally written for a one off live performance to accompany Dziga Vertov's classic 1929 Russian silent film 'Man With A Movie Camera', some of these tracks ("Evolution", "All Things"), and their 70s free-jazz inspired style went on to become the backbone of the "Everyday" sessions. Finally J Swinscoe and Co have gone into the studio and recorded the tracks (live) for this proper soundtrack LP.


          DVD Info: DVD (packaged like a hardback book, with an outer slipcase) includes all LP tracks and documentary, films of live recordings plus videos and gallery, biographies and weblinks.

          After the critical acclaim which has met Fink's two singles, "Pretty Little Thing" and "So Long", now it's time for the full length, "Biscuits For Breakfast". Completely recorded at his 7Dials studio in Brighton and already drawing comparisons to the mighty John Martyn, the album is a highly personal, beautifully executed journey into folk, blues, soul and dub overtones that sees the former dowbeat beatsman reinvent himself in a way that's more akin to a religious conversion than normal record company 'change of haircut' practice. From the very opening of the record Fink shows that his lyrical pre-occupations are very much his own. While he touches on themes which are in themselves familiar - love, sex, loss, bad jobs, the ephemera of everyday life - he treats them with such an attention to detail and to his own genuine feelings that they fly. Beautifully produced, achingly soulful, "Biscuits For Breakfast" is an album that will stand the test of time, because at root it's built on original, honest song-writing.


          Little Blue Mailbox / The Model

          "Little Blue Mailbox" is one of those epic, sweeping, magisterial pieces of music that quietly takes you by the hand, leads you into the middle of a beautiful storm and finally drops you back to a home where everything feels like it's been changed forever (all that in one song!). The track is a fantastic showcase for the sophistication and integrity which is woven into every note on the new album. On the flip is a truly unexpected version of Kraftwerk's "The Model", here re-imagined as a dub-folk relationship trauma of surprising warmth and beauty.

          If "Biscuits for Breakfast", Fink's debut album for Ninja Tune, traded, at least in part, on a seismic musical shift for both artist and label, then "Distance And Time" raises the game for both parties. This latest album is the result of a frenetic live schedule over the past year - Fink, together with bassist Guy Whittaker and drummer Tim Thornton, having played dozens of festivals and over a hundred shows. On this record Fink handed over production to Lamb's Andy Barlow, and the resultant album is noticeably bigger, and more sophisticated, than its predecessor. Boldly, "Distance and Time" starts not with a bang, but the whispered introduction of "Trouble's What You're In", so slight that you fear for its own safety. On "Make It Good" the paper-thin beats and almost acappella introduction reflect the fragile sentiment of the song itself - optimistically hoping to put a broken relationship 'back together, piece by piece'. The closing minutes of the album are perhaps most telling of Fink's time on the road, the epic "Little Blue Mailbox" having strayed as far from the DJ booth as can be.

          Taking their electro obsession to greater heights than ever before, "WRGB" finds Hexstatic dynamic duo Robin Brunson and Stuart Warren-Hill mashing up sounds and influences in search of the ultimate machine groove. From opening track "Red Laser Beam" they lay out their wares - crunching guitar samples, huge drum box beats and enough synths to drown a nation beneath a sea of (sine) waves. It's such a euphoric opening that it's hard to imagine how they can keep the pressure up. "Roll Over" quickly lays any fears to rest. Featuring new vocal find Sabirajade, this is a swinging groove of heavily-layered keyboards and soulful, sultry vocals. "Tokyo Traffic" takes the tempo up again for an acidic, glitchy, serialist pop-locker of a tune that just about makes sense of the term 'future-retro'. "Freak Me" features B+, a female MC from Oz, who effortlessly rides a more minimalist, sexy, funky riff. Continuing the sexy theme, "Prom Night Party" is a complete re-work of a classic 'lost' track from Mike Ladd's Majesticons project.

          DJ Kentaro is best known as a phenomenal turntablist and former DMC World Champion, but on this debut record, he's more concerned with showing his muscle as a music producer. Which is why "Enter" runs from the Bmore funk of "Free" to the dubby downtempo soul of "Tasogare Highway High", through the drum and bass attack of "Rainy Day", the live reggae feel of "Handmade Gift", the squelching dance aesthetic of "Space Jungle", on into the tribal space-jazz of "Harvest Dance", the epic turntablist cut-up of "One Hand Blizzard" and, finally, the cosmic hip hop of "Let It Go". It's not that he can't scratch the shit out of a piece of vinyl when he wants to (check finale track "Grateful To You") it's just that he understands that making a great album demands a wider palette. Utterly contemporary and yet completely rooted in hip hop's old skool aesthetics and with a magpie naivety which gives him a freedom within them.

          Want to hear Rakim duetting on the mic with Phil Oakey from the Human League? Rock drummer Cozy Powell trading beats with DJ Format? Maybe the funky film version of 'Are You Being Served' is more to your taste or some West Coast surf-psych in the form of The Dragons' rarity "Food For My Soul"? Resisting all the food puns one can think of, Ninja Tune present DJ Food & DK with "Now, Listen Again" - the sequel to the mix that kicked off the whole Solid Steel series in 2001. A dizzying, kaleidoscopic pile-up of musical styles and spoken word eclectica, all pieced together, layered and re-treated with the sort of attention to detail that only comes from nerdy obsession and record collections that need reinforced floor supports to be held safely. The emphasis with this compilation is on making the listener want to listen again and again, if not just to peel back the layers of the onion but just because it demands a repeat performance amongst the sea of data we consume these days.


          Sound Mirrors - Videos & Remixes

            Stunning collection of videos and remixes for the "Sound Mirrors" album, with a beautifully designed DVD menu and 32 page booklet packaged in a DVD box. Coldcut have always been fascinated with the fusion of sound and vision and so the idea of them curating a DVD version of "Sound Mirrors" (their recent critically acclaimed album) is a fitting one. In collaboration with freelance music video commissioner Vez they set about taking the medium of the music video out of the realm of MTV and the cheesy promo, instead making the work a purely artistic expression of the music, in a move that takes the director out of the realm of painter for hire and gives them the creative recognition they so hugely deserve, not only in the creative brief but in how they are presented on the DVD and that their fee is an advance against royalties for their work - the same as if they were a guest musician - an exciting and bold move. As well as the DVD you also get a CD collection of remixes of tracks from the LP.

            Since they started properly working together some six years ago, Chris Vogado and Neil Combstock aka Zero dB have been concocting a provocative, innovative and addictive brew of hard jazz, electro, latin, hip hop and house, laced throughout with their now signature dirty, heavy basslines. After releasing their early records on Vogado's own Fluid Ounce label, Zero dB are now signed to Ninja Tune who bring us their debut album, "Bongos, Bleeps & Basslines". The duo's main starting point is usually jazz, but they dip into a multitude of different influences and work with talented musicians and vocalists. In contrast to the general climate of somewhat old, tired, formulaic and unmemorable dance music, Zero dB's meticulous production forces their audiences to discover previously undeveloped musical places.


            CD Info: CD comes in a fancy fold-out box.

            Although there is the romance, silent movie comedy and a certain amount of swing on "Your Mom's Favourite DJ", the enthralling deftness and complexity you'd expect from Kid Koala is also here - woven together with classic hip hop beats, breaks and generous swathes of heavy guitars. Looking back to the seminal "Scratchcratchratchatch" cassette of a decade ago, the album also hints at the many projects Mr San has to come. There are references throughout to a book about a clarinet-playing mosquito that Eric is currently working on, also to the musical puppet show he has in development (honest).


            CD Info: CD features two long mixes with no track markers and bonus 'Cricket' mix.

            Released to coincide with the "Zen LP - A Retrospective" LP, Ninja Tune bring us their finest commissioned remixes from the past twelve years. Ninja faves like Coldcut, DJ Food, Bonobo, DJ Vadim, Mr Scruff, The Cinematic Orchestra etc are remixed by Domu, Irresistible Force, Luke Vibert, Four Tet, Wagon Christ, Manitoba, Squarepusher, Dr Rockit, Ashley Beedle, Cornelius and more.


            2xCD Info: 20 track double CD.

            Ninja Tune pick out a whole load of tracks for this 'best of' style retrospective, from 12 years of their existance, covering off kilter breaks and beats, dark jazz, hip hop and general weirdness. Includes DJ Food, Coldcut, Mr scruff, DJ Vadim, Amon Tobin, Wagon Christ, Hexstatic, The Herbaliser, Luke Vibert, Kid Koala, Bonobo, The Cinematic Orchestra, Funki Porcini etc.


            2xCD Info: 32 track double CD.

            Various Artists

            Solid Steel Presents - DJ Food & DK - Now, Listen!

              First in a series of Ninja Tune artist mix CDs. This is a multi dex 'n' EFX eclectic extravagnaza that should be familiar to fans of their "Solid Steel" radio show. Jeru, X-Ecutioners, Scruff, Peshay, David McCallum, Four Tet, Link "Amenity", Art Of Noise, Boards Of Canada etc... you get the idea - SLURP!

              Various Artists

              Zen TV DVD - Video Retrospective

                Welcome to ZenTV. Since the mid-nineties and the groundbreaking Stealth parties at the Blue Note in Hoxton Square, Ninja has been almost as well respected for its engagement with visuals as it has for its audio. Now at last, the two come together on this massive retrospective of almost a decade of experiment, innovation, humour and weirdness. The ZenTV DVD has twice the capacity of a normal DVD, containing as it does 35 promo videos from the label, a fifteen minute audiovisual mix and a 30 minutes audio mix from Hexstatic.



                Ace new LP from New York's 15 strong afro-beat outfit. Made up of musicians from The Soul Destroyers and The Daktaris, they play Fela Kuti inspired, authentic sounding 70s style afro funk. Even the sleeve is designed by Fela sleeve artist Ghariokwe Lemi.

                In a world where a succession of manufactured pop bands hog the number one spot, Liverpool collective Super Numeri don't so much seem from another era as from another dimension. It's one where the experimentalism of the sixties never stopped, where Altamont didn't happen and Syd Barrett didn't go mad, where tantric yoga is a staple of boardroom meetings and where the Beatles moved back to Liverpool and turned the city into a gigantic Ashram. You may have come across some of the group's members in some of their other guises: Karl Webb is a member of Loka, Snap Ant and Pop Levi who both record and release records for Invicta Hi Fi Records, a label set up by Danny Hunt of Ladytron. If you're very lucky you may have happened upon their "Enochian Way" mix CD on the Japanese Counter label, possibly the only compilation to include Sonny Sharrock, Yoko Ono, Brigitte Bardot, Fairport Convention, Velvet Underground, The Beach Boys and John Lee Hooker.

                Amon Tobin

                Out From Out Where

                Tobin continues his experiments in the land of leftfield breaks and beats, taking in electronica, cinematic soundscapes, dark and sleazy avant-jazz moods and Squarepusher style breakcore.

                Various Artists

                Ninja Cuts - Flexistentialism

                Ye olde Ninja compilation from back in the day (the day - er, year - being 1996). As well as all those quirky dubbydownbeatleftfieldhiphopbreaksandjazzbeats from your Ninja faves (DJ Food, London Funk Allstars, Funki Porcini, DJ Vadim, 9 Lazy 9 etc), there's a whole load of non-Ninja types (Ashley Beedle, Uschi Classen, Luke Vibert, Kruder & Dorfmeister etc).

                Dwight Trible & The Life Force Trio

                Love Is The Answer

                Over a remarkable career, this Los Angeles native has worked with everyone from Bobby Hutcherson and Charles Lloyd to Harry Belafonte. He is the vocalist with the Pharaoh Sanders Quartet and also the vocal director for the Horace Tapscott Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra, a Los Angeles institution with a history stretching back forty years and an active engagement in the city's Black community since the Watts Uprising. Enthused by the power of Trible's vision, Carlos Nino (one half of AmmonContact) started speaking to the new luminaries of the LA scene about collaborating with this elder statesman and before he knew it he had an album which combined sixties-inspired avant / spiritual jazz with the hottest beats the city had to offer. Sa-Ra Creative Partners, Madlib, Daedelus, members of Platinum Pied Pipers, Jay-Dee - wherever he went, Nino found only enthusiasm, and the project began to take shape. From "Equipoise", on which Sa-Ra revisit 80s synth funk and give it their signature loping twist, through "Freedom Dance" with its Stetsasonic-meets-Fela vibe, on into the sheer oddness of the Madlib-produced "Waves of Infinite Harmony", the more straight-up boombap of "The Tenth Jewel", and finally through a last third that probably peaks with the incantatory "Musician's Union" (by Ammoncontact) and the beautiful "Constellations" (which grew out of a piano loop contributed by Prefuse 73's Scott Herren to the Piano Overlord project), this is a record of pure sonic invention and all round goodness.

                FORMAT INFORMATION

                3xLP Info: Triple vinyl includes the full album plus the instrumentals LP too.

                2xCD Info: CD includes the full album plus the instrumentals CD too.

                Debut LP from the Polish duo of Marcin Cichy and Igor Pudlo, who, although acclaimed at home, have remained virtually unknown outside their national boundaries. Brought to the attention of Ninja Tune by DJ Vadim, they now reach a deserved wider audience. Drawing on their Eastern European jazz herritage, they update the sound with complex beat making and sometimes playful sample based themes.


                Dial M For Monkey

                Second LP from Brighton's Simon Green (ex of Tru Thoughts, now on Ninja Tune), and it's an absolute gem. He ploughs a similar melodic, semi-acoustic furrow to Lemon Jelly, but with more of a jazz edge, and none of the increasingly annoying whimsy that that duo employ in their music. A perfect mellow, gentle sound-of-the-summer LP.

                Various Artists

                Solid Steel Presents The Herbaliser, Herbal Blends

                Jake Wherry and Ollie Teeba weigh in with their selection for Ninja's "Solid Steel" sessions compilations / mix CD series with this ace mix up of classic hip hop, greasy funk, party breaks and spooky filmic weirdness. Includes Cherrystones, Rodney P, Harmonic 33, Easy Access Orchestra, Chicago Gangsters, DJ Shadow, Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra etc.

                FORMAT INFORMATION

                CD Info: 23 track CD is mixed. Extras include Wu-Tang Clan, Jay Dee, The Quantic Soul Orchestra, DJ Food, Steinski, Timezone and Deee-lite.

                Kid Koala

                Some Of My Best Friends Are DJs

                Second LP from crazy mixed up turntablist Kid Koala! It's a strange stew of beats, cut up samples, silliness and scratching, covering jazz standards played by drunken horn players from New Orleans, hip hop from the other side and ska like you never imagined it.

                FORMAT INFORMATION

                CD Info: CD comes with 52 page Nufonia cartoon booklet.

                The respected "Solid Steel" mix series brings you a unique recording of Amon Tobin live in Melbourne, Australia. This dark and dirty DJ mash-up features heavy breaks, hip-hop acapellas, weird electronic noises, classic d'n'b bangers and exclusive live reworkings of his own material. The set was performed using a software and hardware bundle called Final Scratch which meant that Amon could timestretch, tickle, tune, tweak and generally f*ck with his tunes on the fly in an entirely new way.

                Ninja Tune were introduced to the work of DJ Kentaro through his success at the 2002 DMC World finals where the Japanese turntablist won outright to become World Champion with a set of pure innovation using not just hip hop, but also reggae, drum & bass, house and electro, in the process achieving the highest score ever in a DMC Final. As such he seemed the perfect DJ to choose to produce a mix of the Ninja back catalogue for the Japanese market. A box full of vinyl and CDs was sent off to him and he began piecing together a selection from Jaga, Wagon Christ, DJ Food, Coldcut, Pest, Funki Porcini, Herbaliser and DJ Vadim to create a truly masterful mix. The CD came out in Japan in December 2004 and has since sold 15,000 copies in the territory. However, word of Kentaro's lightning skills spread way beyond Japan and it was decided it was time to share his talents with the world. To this end, a DVD was commissioned which showcases much of what is special about Kentaro. A mixture of live footage and animation (some of it 'visuscratched' by Kentaro himself), this selection of short films will appeal to the turntablist community but, as you'd expect, would also work well as audiovisual fodder for any party.

                FORMAT INFORMATION

                2xCD Info: CD comes with bonus DVD.

                Solid Steel continues its purveyance of the art of the mixtape by asking Brighton's Bonobo to get working on those crossfaders like there's no tomorrow. Simon Green brings us the seventh in the series and it's time for the man to step and show us how he rocks it whilst out on DJ duties across the world. The mix kicks off with the custom built and exclusive "Solid Steel Intro" before flinging us into the sublime "Sandcastles" by Diesler on Tru Thoughts - the people that brought out the early Bonobo releases. The slept-on gem "Exploration" follows from Karminsky, heading into a slightly tinkered with version of "Pick Up" by the man himself, before staying at the business end of the M23 with south coast soldiers Flevans and Black Grass. By now the mood is well established – expertly chosen dusty breaks combined with funked up loops, syncopated horns and double bass cuts. The impossible to find and gorgeous "Hidden" by King Seven precedes a new track from Bonobo's forthcoming album. It's always great to have an exclusive but rarely do you get one of the jaw dropping beauty and quality of "Recurring". The mix wraps up with the beautifully mellow end section led out by Amon Tobin and completed by Savath & Savalas' godlike "Paths In Soft Focus" and Ninja's own Super Numeri, whose sixty year old harpist shows once again why he is the man!

                Originally released in 2004 in the USA, "Living Water" finds singer-musician-storyteller Dwight Trible at the peak of his powers, displaying a virtuosity gained from a lifetime of refining complex techniques with the same dedication as dear-departed masters John Coltrane and Horace Tapscott, both major influences on his sound. The bold humanitarian stance of those legends frames the repertoire of this album, including originals like the heart-stopping acapella "Peace2, as well as new takes on jazz staples such as Andy Bey's "Celestial Blues" and Wayne Shorter's "Footprints". Pianist John Rangel, drummer Daniel Bejerano and bassist Trevor Ware are Trible's core band but the sound canvas is further enriched by guests like percussion maestros Munyungo Jackson and Derf Reklaw, flautist Joshua Spiegelman and poets Kamau Daaood and Blay Ambolley. Above all it is Trible who stands tall on the record. The depth of emotion as well as the technical brilliance of his voice places him in an illustrious lineage of singers that includes Andy Bey and the late, great Leon Thomas. "Living Water" is the sound of an artist in his prime, a man at peace with himself seeking peace for his fellow man.

                In "Sound Mirrors" Coldcut have made the best album of their long and illustrious career. Their production has never sounded better, their ideas have never been more varied or more interesting, they've never had such a great cast of guests and then integrated them into their sound so well. Dancehall-hip hop cut "True Skool" features Roots Manuva adding vocal weight, while the electroclash-edged "Just For The Kick" has eerie words from legendary singer-songwriter Annette Peacock. "Walk A Mile In My Shoes" features the legendary Robert Owens on an epic, building, hands in the air tune, while "Mr Nichols" combines a beautifully subtle piece of music with a superb, deadpan piece of writing from Saul Williams. Former Ninja Andrew Broder, aka Fog, offers wonky, melancholy lyrics over a faltering kitchen sink orchestra backing on "Whistle And A Prayer" and so it carries on, with the likes of Mpho Skeef, Dom Spitzer and Black American poet Amiri Baraka guest spotting later on.

                FORMAT INFORMATION

                2xLP Info: LP comes in die-cut sleeve.

                CD Info: CD comes in die-cut sleeve.

                Following the critically-acclaimed "Music By Cavelight", Tony Simon, aka Blockhead, returns with another set of deep, emotional hip hop / downbeat / hiptronica tracks for us. "Downtown Science" encompasses all the attitude, anger and edginess of his neighbourhood, the downtown area of Manhattan, where he grew up and has lived his entire life.

                FORMAT INFORMATION

                CD/DVD Info: CD also includes a 188 minute long bonus DVD which features the winners of the film-making competition that Ninja ran for ‘Music By Cavelight’. Running from traditional pop promos, to short films using the music more like a soundtrack, the whole of Blockhead's amazing first album is presented here in several visual forms.

                Pest are a five-piece collective taking in a classically trained cello player, hip hop DJ / MC, Bollywood Brass Band trombonist, techno producer and a guitarist who is so good that Gibson (not Mel) paid to put him through music college. The result of this combustible mixture of styles, attitudes and characters is to be heard all over "All Out Fall Out". From the fractured funk of "Delucid", through the fast guitar licks of "Pat Pong", on into the sweet melancholy of "Downward Steps", the cut-up symphonic rap of "Wu Ju", the locked African groove of "Click Bitches", the technoid G-funk of "Ogres", through the squelching attack of "Cous Cous" and on into the fairground psychosis of "Donde Pesta", this is an album that never sits still or plays to preconceptions.

                LA photographer and film-maker B+, fascinated with the raw material of hip-hop (the break) and where it came from, conceived a project to bring together and photograph four Los Angeles residents (Roy Porter, Earl Palmer, Paul Humphrey and James Gadson) who had contributed to the history of music through their work behind the drum kit. Between them they spanned the history of post-War music, having played with everyone from Charlie Parker to James Brown, John Coltrane to Marvin Gaye, Frank Zappa to David Axelrod, Frank Sinatra to Beck. By 2000, Roy Porter was dead, but nevertheless, the shoot went ahead, with the likes of DJ Shadow, Cut Chemist and members of the hugely influential Beat Junkies DJ team on hand in order to jam with Humphrey and Gadson. The fruits of this meeting were captured on film, and the resulting short 'Keepintime: Talking Drums Whispering Vinyl' toured film festivals of the world to considerable acclaim. All the participants were so energized by the exercise that B+ decided to bring them all together for a huge live show in Los Angeles, where DJs and producers including Madlib and NuMark (Jurassic 5) would jam live and create music with these two great drummers. The immediate results of these two unique events are captured here for the first time on DVD. But even then, the man behind the project wasn't finished. He now sent out the recorded multitrack parts from the live show to a host of the world's finest producers, who built on the rhythms and added their own individual touches to create a CD / LP of truly epic proportions.

                FORMAT INFORMATION

                2xCD Info: CD comes with bonus DVD featuring the film "Keepintime - Talking Drums And Whispering Vinyl" and "KeepinTime - A Live Recording".

                With a twiddled guitar loop, perfect bass stabs and the kind of rock solid beat that Vadim has made his own, the Russian percussionist builds the perfect platform on "Blue Bird" for Yarah and Blu Rum to trade witty, clever, melodic raps over. In the Native Tongues tradition of conscious, fun and, crucially, funky hip hop, this summery slice of rap should keep the underground happy whilst simultaneously igniting the passions of Kanye fans and even having the BEP fraternity raising their lighters (there's also an instrumental and acapella of this track). On the flip "Fear The Labour" finds One Self ramming home the political point over another classic Vadim rhythm, this time on a more folky, son of the soil type tip, while "Vision Of Visions" (the "Fear Of Labour" Revocal mix) goes international with the addition of the Spanish MC Tremendo.

                Avant-jazz noodlers Jaga Jazzist shorten their name and change direction for this new Ninja Tune LP. "What We Must" really is a breakthrough moment for the group, a kaleidoscopic take on rock stylings, rolling from early 90s British shoegazer guitar pop to 70s prog and jazz rock, all shot through with Jaga's own unique logic. After months spent writing new material, the band ripped it all up, went into an isolated studio out in the Norwegian woods and recorded the demo now known as the "Spydeberg Sessions". Put down in one take in one day, they found themselves creating music that was closer to their live sound than ever before, and began to whisper about their rock album. After testing the new material on the road, they returned to the studio and used the Spydeberg Session as the basis of the record which became "What We Must".

                FORMAT INFORMATION

                2xLtd CD Info: Limited CD comes with bonus "Spydeburg Sessions" CD.

                Los Angeles duo AmmonContact are at the centre of a flourishing current LA avant music scene involving Madlib, Build An Ark, Dwight Tribble, Sa-Ra Creative Partners and Daedelus. Flowing from track to track like one of Niño's legendary Spaceways radio shows, "One In An Affinity Of Ways" was made using an MPC 2000 and an ASR-10 for samples, combined with live instrumentation (synths, guitars, drums etc) and turntablism. Prefuse 73's Scott Herren has labelled the music 'machine funk', which isn't a million miles from where they're at, as long as you remember the playfulness which leads Carlos to claim that 'AmmonContact are all about having fun as well as trying to stretch the boundaries of hip hop'. Throw in guests that include Daedelus, sometime Scienz of Life and now KMD member Lil Sci, plus musicians from the legendary Build An Ark group and you have a record that doesn't need to shout to offer a classy, distinctive – and distinctively Californian – take on what is too often a bloated, melodramatic, attention-seeking genre.

                Fresh from his success as Kerrier District on Rephlex, and under his own moniker with the "YosepH" LP on Warp, Luke Vibert returns to Ninja Tune under his more off kilter guise as Wagon Christ. He seems to have brought along some of his disco and techno sounds from those two releases as well, mixing up clasic disco-P-funk breaks with squelchy digi-basslines, weird electronics, acid and lush keys. Totally off the wall!

                FORMAT INFORMATION

                2xLP Info: Limited edition green vinyl - 400 copies only!

                CD Info: Digi-pack CD.


                Chewing On Glass & Other Miracle Cures

                Following up releases on Vertical Form, Canadian producer Vaughn Squire (half of The Sebutones with Buck 65, beat builder and remixer for Anticon etc) collaborates with the likes of Can's Damo Suzuki, Godspeed You Black Emperor and Hanged Up on his debut Ninja Tune LP. As with other hiptronic productions, these compositions often have more in common with avant rock, psyche, electronica and jazz experiments than they do with mainstream hip hop, taking things on a seriously underground trip.

                The debut album from New Yorker, Blockhead, who's had production credits for the likes of Aesop Rock and Slug of Atmosphere. From the anti-fanfare of opener "Insomniac Olympics", through the elegaic strings and slomo disco-bass of "Carnivores Unite" on into the two-minutes-to-midnight atmospherics of "You've Got Maelstrom", the spread out reggaephonics of "A Better Place", and right on up to the flute and eastern violin anomie of title track "Music By Cavelight", this is a record that establishes its own emotional space and holds it from start to finish. A sublime slice of avant hip hop.

                Fog is Andrew Broder from Minnesota. He's a one man band, singing, playing guitar and scratching up beats - influenced by post rock, hip hop and folk in equal measures. Get the picture? Think Beck and Kid Koala stuck in a very lo-fi lift.

                The Herbaliser


                The debut LP from Ollie and Jake. It's got less vocals than later LPs, and is more hip hop breaks, samples amd jazzy flavours.


                Adventures In Foam

                  This is Amon Tobin's pre-Ninja Tune LP from 1996 - originally on the Nine Bar label. This Ninja Tune reissue contains a bonus CD of singles tracks from the same era - including "Brazilianaire".

                  Funki Porcini

                  Fast Asleep

                  Mr Porcini is back with a new LP on Ninja Tune after spending two years in bed (hey, i'm only quoting the sales notes here, he may well have spent two years in bed for all I know). It's a super somnambulance of sounds for the sleepy - mellow, jazzy downbeat and semi ambient grooves that drift along and send... zzzzzz... Oh, sorry, I dropped off there.

                  FORMAT INFORMATION

                  2xCD Info: Limited edition CD comes with an extra DVD of eight films to watch while playing the CD!

                  Our favourite scruffy chap returns with the wicked bumpin' broken jazz track from his "Trouser Jazz" LP. This double pack comes with nice new mixes by Amalgamation Of Soundz, who totally rework the track with a live jazz band feel, and Speechless, AKA Sasso, who brings us two lovely house mixes. One's on a soulful MAW style jazz-house tip, with all new vocals by Nke, the other's deeper, instrumental and more electronic.

                  Taken from their acclaimed "Necessary Measures" LP, "Chicken Spit" is the kind of oddball weirdness beloved by fans of Scruff and Treva. This 12" comes with new mixes too, one of which is a rather fetching broken beat style offering and rather tasty.


                  Beginningless / Airfling / Safe Self Tester

                  This Mersey divided three piece make music that 'provides a soundtrack for a world where ambiguous morality and perverted desires fraternize with an uneasy thoughtful calm'. Well, that's what the sales notes say anyway.. I'd be more likey to say they fuse a cinematic psychedelia with a loose jazz-rock feel, personaly.

                  A remix and collaborations package from the Brighton based avant music maker, spread over an extended CD single and two 12" EPs. There's quirky downbeat collabs with Kid Koala and Bonobo, noisier stuff made with P-Love, Steinski and Double Click. Remixes are by Prefuse 73, Topo Gigio, Kid 606 and Boom Bip.

                  FORMAT INFORMATION

                  CDS Info: CD single includes all five collaborations, four mixes of "Verbal" and a quicktime video for "Verbal".

                  Second LP from Fog man Andrew Broder, who's helped out by Tom Herbers (best known from his work with Low). The LP is full of quirky, ultra-lo-fi songs, recorded in sequence straight onto 2" tape. Sometimes gentle and melancholic, at other times noisy and in-yer-face, this is a collision of turntables, pianos and poetry.

                  FORMAT INFORMATION

                  2xLP Info: Limited edition LP comes with a full colour art booklet.

                  Jaga Jazzist

                  The Stix

                  The eagerly awaited follow up to "A Livingroom Hush", "The Stix" combines the digital-dancefloor-jazz-jiggery-pokery of their debut with the energy and exuberance of their live shows. As well as the gentle flowing loose avant-jazz grooves of previous tracks, "The Stix" includes much more upbeat tracks that take 70s jazz-fusion and time changing jazz-rock as a starting point and add modern production techniques to create fresh new sounds.


                  Necessary Measures

                  After a couple of singles for Ninja (and one previous to that too), Pest deliver a whole LP of their oddball breaks and quirky beats. If you like Scruff at his silliest, then you should check this out!


                  Too Fast

                  Taken from their ace "Flying Wonders" LP, "Too Fast" is a late night, quirky, easy kinda thing, with wonderful vocals by Seaming To (there's also an instrumental). On the flip is new track "Ground Running" and old track "Fairweather Friend". A Gilles Peterson favourite!

                  The Cinematic Orchestra

                  Every Day

                  Mind blowing second LP (i'm not including the remixes set) from J Swinscoe and Co. They're joined on three tracks by vocalists Fontella Bass and Roots Manuva, the other four are lush sweeping fusions of 70s style cosmic jazz, dreamy downbeat and nu-jazz. Very special... definitely one of the LPs of 2002!

                  Mr Scruff

                  Keep It Unreal

                  Scruff's debut for Ninja Tune, and it's just one of those essential LPs for fans of quirky, jazzy upbeat downbeat grooves. Includes the massive trad-jazz-house anthem (and advert favourite) "Get A Move On", as well as "Honeydew", "Jus Jus" with Roots Manuva and the silly "Shanty Town" and "Fish".

                  A product of post-acid house Manchester, Mr Scruff is a complete one-off; a cheeky innovator. His debut album is a bold statement, distinctive and confident. "Keep It Unreal" oscillates wildly between opposing styles - one moment Scruff's in deep, down-tempo dinner jazz territory, the next he's in Coldcut mode, chopping out superb big beat breaks with naughty hooklines to get you pogoing. At one extreme is the wacko humour of Spandex Man, bolshi breakbeat and a hooky 1920s jazz loop that'll make you grin. And then there's the even more ridiculous "Shanty Town", with samples of a Jacknory story about a whale. At the other end of the scale, is Scruff's accomplished acid jazz - like the serene, trip-hoppy "Midnight Feast" or the smoothie cocktail number "Honeydew", with it's loungey female vocals. This man is out there, the Salvador Dali of beats and breaks.


                  Jefferson Shuffle / Child Of The Deep Freeze

                  Two quirky funky oddball breaks and pieces tracks from Deptford's avant-beat outfit. These tracks are worth a listen if you're a fan of Scruff, Whatever etc. This is the kind of thing Ninja Tune thrive on.

                  Jaga Jazzist

                  A Livingroom Hush

                  Incredible LP of nu jazzual and Tortoisey flavours with d'n'b drum programming from this Norwegian jazz collective (members also moonlight with Jazzkammer, Biosphere, Big Bang, Bugge Wesseltoft, Bobby Hughes Experience, Motorpsycho etc). The combination of live playing (the drums and woodwind are especially outstanding) with electronic trickery is jaw-dropping and make this one of the freshest LPs of the year! Excellent.

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