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Gábor Lázár

Source

    Gábor Lázár's colourful discography extends from sound art to his more recent dancefloor detonations. From his first release on Lorenzo Senni's Presto! label to his collaborations with Russell Haswell and his popular 'seizure inducing' team-up with Mark Fell entitled 'The Neurobiology of Moral Decision Making' to his last album 'Unfold' on The Death of Rave, where he balanced relentless, snappy rhythms and wonky melodic tones against more measured chords to create a deliciously fruity futurism.Gábor has now signed to Planet Mu for his new album 'Source' which moves forward with the dance music direction he started to formulate with 'Unfold'. Gábor first fell in love with electronic music simultaneously through dance music and it's IDM offspring, and also with harsher, noisier computer music on labels such as Editions Mego.

    This collection, which develops slowly over 8 tracks, works its way through his own take on these influences, moving across themes and loops as if each track is a different stage in a process. All these tracks sound incredible on a club sound system. The listener can hear nods to hoover bass and 2-step in 'Phase', or trance techno in ‘Excite', the dive-bombing bass of dubstep in 'Effort ' or the frantic techno influence of 'Route', emulated in the minimal forms Gábor has created with a sound artist's precision and a strict adherence to his vacuum-like grids. Gábor bends his sounds, abstracts them and re-contextualises them; basslines fire out of the grid at strange angles and squirm as if they've come alive, shards of melody shoot off at wild angles, attacking with drama and a thrilling sense of energy.

    Ital Tek

    Outland

      Ital Tek (a.k.a. Alan Myson) returns to Planet Mu with his sixth album ‘Outland‘. The album was written during a period of new beginnings following a move out of the city to a quieter space and the birth of his first child. During this time of self-imposed isolation Alan recorded a huge amount of source material and spent weeks and months sitting up at night with his newborn, listening back and making notes on how the new record should take form, focusing and developing ideas to shape this lean ten-track album. Alan talks of the record being a collaboration between two parts of himself, something that definitely comes across as the album unfolds.

      Textures are something Alan excels at and on his last album, the largely beatless ‘Bodied’, it felt as if he was building a new sound-world. On ‘Outland’ he expands upon this. The album brings together the extremes of Alan's sound, contrasting roughened bass and beats with starker more detailed atmospheres and emotions. The most beat-driven song here is ‘Deadhead’, with its gnarled bouncing bass, angular distorted melodies and cavernous textures.

      On tracks like ‘Bladed Terrain’ the contrasts are even more defined with buzzing drones and razor sharp drums plunging into a grainy fog, giving the track a dramatic 3D feel. Then there are the stop-start pauses of ‘Leaving The Grid’, where the song evaporates into space before reemerging with shuddering rhythms and ghostly textures. Melodies crawl around these tracks as if they’re just waking up, as heard on the atmospheric ‘Angel In Ruin’. The sleep-deprived fraying of the senses became Alan’s routine and one which he says gave him a renewed creative energy; half-asleep, working through the night, and then into the daytime super-focused but exhausted. Prone to audio hallucinations whilst writing the album, he aimed to capture these distortions in his perception of pitch and time, and you can hear these effects interpreted on tracks like ‘Endless’ and ‘Open Heart’ as melodies phase and slip out of time like an emotional Doppler effect. This is also true of the soaring atonal synths at the peak of ‘Diamond Child’, which feel like the aural equivalent of eye floaters. These intuitive feelings and functions are a difficult thing to capture in sound, but Alan manages it beautifully and always makes the result feel warm and adventurous, heartfelt and epic.

      Speaker Music

      Of Desire, Longing

      DeForrest Brown Jr. is an outspoken theorist, journalist, curator, visual artist and musician. Raised in the deep South, DeForrest moved to New York a few years ago and has been shaking things up IRL and online ever since. He asks difficult questions that make us relook at how we think about race, class, post-racial ideas, historical events and the social structures in America. His work defies narrow bags and he’s truly a unique cultural polygot comfortable booking an artist like Felicia Atkinson at Issue Project Room or shaking up people on the street with his 'Make Techno Black Again' hat line.

      His project Speaker Music was inspired by Rhythmanalysis, a book of essays by urbanist philosopher Henri Lefebvre as well as considerations of momentum and the 'chronopolitical' from British cultural theorist Kodwo Eshun. Mobilizing freely improvised electronic percussion and stereophonic audio recordings, Speaker Music yearns to caress, engineer and sculpt sentiment into a multi-textural rhythmic body, quivering moments into a collapsed nonpulsed time.

      His debut for Planet Mu centers around weary sonic portraiture of sonorous and cybernetic energy music - a music encoded with an encrypted heat but made with empathy and without excess. His touching of frequencies unveils a romantic abstraction of sonic narratives that recalls previous innovations by musicians such as Les McCann, Urban Tribe and James Stinson.


      STAFF COMMENTS

      Matt says: If (un)found sounds and deeply atmospheric textures are your thing, then look no further than this incredible offering from DeForrest Brown Jr.'s Speaker Music project...

      “Sleepmoss is a romantic eulogy to autumn and winter. A time for peaceful inner reflection, amidst the backdrop of British woodlands, dramatic skies and turbulent storms. Finding peace with mental health and being mindful of the beauty in death and endings.”

      'Sleepmoss', the second album from Meemo Comma a.k.a. Brighton-based producer Lara Rix-Martin, is an adventurous, unusual and very contemporary sonic take on the impact of landscape. It’s a kind of storytelling, inspired by the shifting landscapes of her daily walks with her dog on the South Downs. Discussing her under-the-radar debut album 'Ghost on the Stairs' with Aimee Cliff at The Fader in 2017, she noted how she is “drawn to eerie sounds in my work.” This fascination remains on 'Sleepmoss' but the context has changed from the interior and inwards gaze to a much wider, wilder viewpoint. Lara describes her new record as being “about getting lost in the sumptuous divinity of the dark months in Britain. It is in many ways the opposite reflection of 'Ghost on the Stairs' which was about internal processing of sounds, specifically human speech. The last album was almost an exorcism of issues troubling me but this album is about the glory of solitude and the richness of romance that can be found in nature.”

      ‘Sleepmoss’ challenges us to rethink our perceptions of the “pastoral” and to look at nature afresh with new eyes. For not only are the landscapes around us an escape: much more lies there, it's this turbulence we need to find peace with, and Sleepmoss grapples with the physicality of the landscape in a fresh and intuitive way. Rix-Martin notes “Musically, we have never truly embraced rugged landscapes in their full glory and I felt this when I thought about the many different composers over the centuries, their work seemed uptight and far too human in scale. For instance Vaughan Williams had unquestionably beautiful moments in The Lark Ascending, but it's too clean, too controlled. I wanted to channel a take on classical music that was hyper-real, focusing on letting the elements speak to us, not the other way around.”

      A visual influence is J.M.W. Turner - “his work with changing light and storms that are raw and expressive.” and the abstract way in which Turner boldly revealed both horror and beauty (some would say “reality”) is reflected in the sonic approach throughout Sleepmoss. The album’s timeline starts out with summer's end, and the feeling of the air changing. Within this timeline, Rix-Martin describes the drama of her songs as visual stories. “The sounds around us are totally different depending on the season, I always assumed it was to do with the change in water vapour and heat in the air. Summer is much too high pitched and spiky.” To pull out a couple of our favourites, the songs 'Night Rain' and 'Murmur' are “the story of predator and prey, death and life, one fortifying the other while a storm rumbles. The next morning the woods are clear birds sing in the breeze from the night’s storm.”

      ‘Sleepmoss’ captures not only a unique perspective on nature but like nature itself, reflects the shifting times we live in. As Rix-Martin points out, Nature is often seen as “something to be controlled, neatened, conquered.” Sleepmoss interprets and admires nature in all its glory.


      Felix Lee has created a world for his debut album "Inna Daze". A kind of post-human environment where the sun never really rises and everything is lit with a burnt out glow. These are survival ballads for the near future, whose vocals, mutated to fit into this setting, drift in a haze of dissociation. Musically, at first glance, it's sparse and minimal but with continued immersion, subtle iridescent-light shadows shimmer around grainy colour, sub bass rises through kicks and snares retooled from their surroundings, not so much refixed as decaying. Felix has been here before in his incarnation as Lexxi, making his debut appearance on Total Freedom’s 2012 “Blasting Voice“ compilation, and as a co-producer on Elysia Crampton's “Demon City“ album.

      He then went on to release his first instrumental EP “5TARB01” in 2016 on his own imprint Endless. He also runs an NTS show of the same name, along with previously holding raves, cross pollinating and interacting with the vanguard of the electronic underground. The punky crunch of those earlier releases is reflected in tracks like “Smoke” made with long time collaborator and southside resident Kamixlo. These club moments inevitably give way to the vocals, conveying a feeling of loss and renewal. Intended to exist both inside and outside the club, it's an electronic music that at times feels like a skeletal take on shoegaze, solidifying that feeling with the intense rising synths of the album closer “Slow Decay“. Inna Daze's features include Drain Gang members Ecco2k and Whitearmor, Yayoyanoh, Quantum Natives' Oxhy, and Gaika, as well as Felix making his debut as a vocalist, his voice filtered through effects to give it a slippery, steam-like texture, echoing around the songs, giving them a second skin of sensed abstraction. One of the most thoughtful and interesting debuts of 2019, “Inna Daze“ beckons the listener into its simultaneously toxic and beautiful sound-world. Keeping enough distance to provoke more questions than answers, the album unfolds in a different way on every listen.


      Basic Rhythm follows up his album 'On The Threshold' with an EP that lays out the explicit connections between hardcore and footwork. A connection made even clearer by the inclusion of a rare remix by Chicago footwork originator RP Boo. "2 Da Core"'s punchy rolling drums are levelled up against rough samples and a vocal hook pitched up and down in classic hardcore style. "Get Up" runs a tubby bass under hazy vocal samples and weird sound effects. RP Boo's remix of "2 Da Core" disassembles the track into pieces, building a stalking helicopter-like rhythm which plays hide and seek with the samples, while the closing track "Nuh Ramp" rounds off the EP with tumbling micro-edited rhythms and a melody built from small colourful sounds that draw on the Caribbean roots of this music. 

      In an unexpected turn of events Planet Mu welcomes back DJ Nate for a new album "Take Off Mode", a full nine years after his debut album "Da Trak Genious" was released on the label. A quick update: DJ Nate is from the West Side of Chicago and was the label's first ever footwork signing back in 2010, when Myspace was still a place to contact artists. His strange, maximalist, trippy and sample-heavy sound was the acid test to introduce footwork to a wider audience, outside Chicago and certain aficianados, and it created the opportunity for Planet Mu to release the two "Bangs & Works" compilations and numerous albums and singles from the genre, introducing the world to such artists as DJ Rashad, Jlin and Traxman. In the decade since "Da Trak Genious" was released, DJ Nate has been a popular R&B and Hip Hop producer and performer with a strong local following.

      The highlight of this part of his career was "Gucci Goggles" which was an underground hit outside Chicago. His rise was slowed after he was paralysed from the neck down two years ago, an accident which he's recently recovered from. As well as his R&B, Nate has still been making the occasional footwork track, often putting videos out on youtube, and it's these tracks, uploaded between 2010 to now, which caught our ear. This selection of tracks feels like they're in direct continuity with his debut, perhaps not quite as chaotic as certain moments of "Da Trak Genious", but still with his trademark yearning vocal samples, cutting them into strange new pitched up and down musical motifs, his shout outs and rough beats intact

      Rian Treanor releases his anticipated debut album ‘Ataxia’ on Planet Mu this week. The striking full-length follows singles for The Death Of Rave and Warp’s Arcola imprint as well as live sets at Boilerroom x Genelec, Nyege Nyege festival, tours in India and various high profile EU shows. The title ‘Ataxia’ means 'the loss of full control of bodily movements' and relates to Rian's music which is “intended to make people’s bodies move in unpredictable ways.”

      He adds “the angles in the letters, the phonetics seem to mirror the geometry and idiosyncratic patterns in the music.” Rian explains that components of the tracks were made by generating a series of irregular events and re-structuring them, or by destabilising a pattern that is constant. The roots of Rian's playful sound are directly linked to his love of the music he grew up with. Coming from Sheffield, you can hear elements of industrial, synth-pop, bleep, extreme computer music and speed garage at play. From Cabaret Voltaire to Warp and beyond; the sound of his city has been, and is, an integral part of his musical development and is still a direct influence. 

      Jlin

      Autobiography (Music From Wayne McGregor's Autobiography)

      Jlin's "Black Origami" album dropped in May last year - firing the Gary, Indiana (same location as rapper Freddie Gibbs..) based producer into the limelight and being one of the most discussed and well lauded albums of the year. Since then she's toured extensively garnering a loyal fan base and high praise from the media.

      "Autobiography" is a score written in collaboration with choreographer Wayne McGregor and curated by Unsound. Serendipitously, "Company", one of Wayne's highlight performances, was the first show Jlin ever attended, and the producer has obsessed about making music for dance since then - making this release even more personally special.

      The sounds, as one might expect, are mind-blowing futuristic, yet tight, controlled and succinct throughout. Apart from being informed by a wide spectrum of modern dance music (in particularly, footwork, IDM, glitch and modern dub), you can tell straight away that every nuance, thud and frequency has been well plotted by (real name) Patton. She avoids lavish, self-indulgent arrangements or random synth patterns for a precise and impacting aesthetic that owes as much to its drum programming as it does its technical prowess in the lower frequency ranges.

      Jlin's whole focus is to create a rich new sonic life form, unlike anything that's previously existed; therefore, drawing comparisons with other producers is difficult. That said, tracks like "The Abyss Of Doubt" sound like a mix of Autechre, AFX, Tolouse Low Trax and Demdike Stare - and yes, it's really that good! Highly kinetic, unfathomably fresh and tailored with headphones and soundsystems in mind, this is a satisfyingly overwhelming and engrossing listen; and likely to cause as much furore as last year's "Black Origami". Totally, utterly recommended!


      FORMAT INFORMATION

      2xColoured LP Info: Red Vinyl Indie Shops Exclusive.

      Ital Tek

      Crocodile Tears And The Velvet Cosh

      Follow up to his acclaimed 2016 album 'Hollowed'. Stepping in a different direction from that album, It’s as if Hollowed's detailed world has been fleshed out and filled with the spectre of human voices. As on his last album, the sounds on 'Bodied' are highly designed, but this time barely a whisper of dance music remains. Instead it's built around acoustic elements and ghostly choral arrangements, refracted and transformed into atmospheric, alien forms which are given the time to settle and transform.

      Rhythm is used only as a tool to give his world a sense of dark, mechanical momentum. Alan explains; "After completing 'Hollowed' I had over a year away from writing any of my own material. I was working, composing music for a video game and a number of different projects. I needed to find a way back in and I rediscovered the joy of music being a release as opposed to a job. I was getting up really early and sketching out lots of ideas very fast, squeezing in quick bursts of writing at the beginning or end of long studio day spent working on other musical projects." "It was important for me to define the world that the album was going to inhabit before taking it any further, so I put a much greater focus into the sound design and palette than I had before. I wanted to make the music sound very physical, geometric, and monolithic, as if it inhabited a physical space." "On 'Bodied' the music focuses on the interplay between the minuscule and the vast, beauty and brutalism.

      With this album I was much more concerned with dynamics and the discipline of holding tension; the use of space and silence to provide a counterpoint to the intensity.""Most importantly, I was keen for there to be a human acoustic foundation, so I did a lot of live recording of cello, violin, harp and guitar - anything I could get my hands on. I was certain that I wanted there to be a greater vocal presence - nothing lyrical or at the forefront but to give it an underlying organic quality - to impart some humanity into the music."As Ital Tek moves further from his roots, he's creating new sounds and spaces in which his music can exist. It's up to the listener to decide what kind of world 'Bodied' evokes, but it's certainly one that's beautiful and rewarding to spend time in. 

      Sami Baha is a Turkish producer based in South East London. His music was introduced to the world via his 2016 EP 'Mavericks'. Sami got into producing through being a rapper himself, working with local rappers in Turkey and producing beats for them, before setting his sights outside the country. 'Free For All' features MCs from all corners of the globe: UK drill squad 67's Dimzy, Stockholm's Yung Lean and Chicago rapper and singer DJ Nate (aka Flexxbabii). The record also features Egyptian MCs Dawsha and Abanob. Sami's production is refined and elegant, familiar tropes are reassembled in original ways, the instrumentation reflecting his background and influences simultaneously. Everything Sami brings to the album sounds relaxed and minimal, but tough, built from thoughtful arrangements and instruments, shot through with emotion and a dreamy night-time feel. 

      It’s about love, loyalty, family and the start and end of relationships, with an overarching theme about becoming a father, all delivered with warmth and emotion. Miles even sings and so does his eldest son Milo on one track. About the theme he says, “we all know the stereotype of the black dad with multiple children from multiple partners who is absent from the child’s life, we see it consistently in popular culture. I want to champion the alternative, which to me is just normal.” As well as being a producer Miles is the co-founder of the Boxed nights, which have been a tight incubator of a music scene dedicated in the main to re-thinking and expanding what grime means, especially instrumental grime.

      Mitch has always taken it further than most in a unique direction, defining his music led by his own personality rather than deferring to a scene consensus. An early example was his development of ‘peace edits’ in response to the aggressive ‘war dubs’ craze amongst other grime producers, around the time of his first album. Production-wise Mr. Mitch has always been a minimalist at heart, pushing detailed sound and melody around in space, but on Devout everything is more ambitious, emotive and polished, taking his music in an epic and well defined pop direction, albeit from a sideways angle, re-imagining what an album by an underground producer can be. Devout’s cast of male and female allies, MC’s and singers each deliver songs that cast perspective around the album’s theme.

      Mr. Mitch sets the scene with the graceful honesty of the piano led intro, then P Money drops a heartfelt and emotional lyric about the charge of love and responsibility experienced on becoming a dad. Denai Moore’s song ‘Fate’ is open about being sceptical in allowing yourself to fall for someone at the start of a relationship, while Palmistry’s track ‘VPN’ explores his feelings after separation. The warm centre of ‘Devout’ is ‘My Life’s heart-tugging Sakamoto-like melody and bent keys, with Miles gently intoning “It’s yours” and final song ‘Oscar’ tells a newborn his brother will be an elder brother. "Devout" is a beautiful, grown-up pop record with its foundation in grime.


      STAFF COMMENTS

      Millie says: Grime hero Mr Mitch bursts out of the underground with a polished LP of sleek, minimal and soulful RnB. Fans of Sampha, FKA Twigs and The Internet need to hear this!

      Few artists have the ability to totally seduce over a few spins like Italy’s Herva. What may seem messy at first listen starts to fall into sharper definition and ‘Hyper Flux’ makes a very strong case for being his most seductive and mature record yet. The album has dismantled the broken beats of his early records and drifts, dives and shivers, its beats blended into the haze, everything approached from unusual angles with none of the music sounding entirely digital as it smudges between manipulated live instrumentation and field recordings coupled with synthesis and space - there's a warm heart at the centre of this music. 

      Mike & Rich

      Expert Knob Twiddlers - Planet Mu Edition

      A collaboration between Aphex Twin (Richard D. James) and µ–Ziq (Mike Paradinas), Mike & Rich - ’Expert Knob Twiddlers’ was made back in 1994. Richard edited the tracks into shape later in 1996 with his new Apple Mac computer and it was released later that year on Rephlex, the label he co-owned and which released the first two albums by µ-Ziq. This new reissued version has been carefully cleaned up, re-edited and remastered from the original DAT tapes, put into a more fitting order and, more excitingly, seven new bonus tracks and alternative versions have also been added. The album was recorded over a few days during the 1994 World Cup, back when Richard lived in a big shared flat in Stoke Newington. Richard had tried to collaborate with a few other likeminded artists but something clicked when Mike and Rich worked together and the sessions have a unique feel; playful and at times actually drunk. These are fun experiments in the spirit of lighthearted moog pop and ripe 70s British TV themes, standing out from the po-faced electronica of the time with a garish glee. The record was made on what is now seen as pretty primitive gear - an Atari, Roland MKS-80, Memorymoog, Roland R8 and a handful of samples on a Casio FZ-10M - but it’s to their credit that it resonates well with the hardware workouts coming out today. There's a broadminded but sloppy funk to the record, even whistling, singing and harpsichord in 'Reg' and wonky beat pile-ons in 'Jelly Fish'. There's latin piano and wheezy drunken techno in ‘Vodka’, or the sleepy spaced out ambience of ‘Bu Bu Bu Ba' with its barely contained laughter which seems to reflect the absurdity. The new versions and bonus tracks are an absolute delight - from a trancier version of ‘Vodka' to the wonky bounce of ‘Portamento Gosh', The 3/4 dub of 'Waltz,' the banging door bass of' Brivert and Muonds', the creepy seasick atmosphere of 'Clissold Bathroom' and finishing with the strangely graceful and serious 'Organ Plodder'. A generous and welcome return to the racks. 

      STAFF COMMENTS

      Barry says: What can we expect from two stone-cold stalwarts of the electronic music scene? Excellence, that's what. Analogue funk to the high heavens, acidic breaks and groovy sample mayhem. There really is something for everyone here, and it couldn't be any more of a perfect match between Paradinas' footwork/jazz/twee stylings and Mr. Twin's gritty machine worship. There are some proper tunes on here, and a lot of them. A historic catalogue, and a collaboration made to delight.

      RP Boo - AKA Kavain Space - is a man who is revered and respected amongst the dance music cognoscenti. He's cited as one of the originators of footwork, the fast, repetitive, rhythmically syncopated music and dance style that’s a grandchild of Chicago house and which has been brought to the wider world via releases from Planet Mu and others, alongside internet archaeology from fans, experts and enthusiasts. Going back to the roots of this music, his self released track ‘Baby Come On’ made in 1997, sampled and looped up ODB over tough syncopated drums, and in doing so spawned one of the first tracks to solidify the style called footwork. Later on, in 1999, his track known as ‘11-47-99’ ('The Godzilla Track') was monumental in the evolution of sampling in footwork, chopping up the Godzilla theme taken from ‘Simon Says’, by Pharoahe Monche and setting off a trend for footwork versions of hip-hop tracks. Many cite RP Boo as the originator of footwork music, and it's hard to argue, when the scrambled, syncopated drum patterns common to footwork can be largely traced back to him. Kavain was born in West Chicago and moved to the Southside in the 80s.

      Like many of footwork’s originators, he was brought through into production through associations with the legendary house and juke dance clique House-O-Matics, DJing alongside DJ Deeon and DJ Milton, then getting shown how to produce by DJ Slugo. The machine Kavain learnt to produce on was a display model of the Roland R-70, a drum machine which gave access to all previous Roland drum sounds and the ability to punch in rhythms on the fly, it’s the machine he still uses today. RP Boo’s music is singular and unusual in footwork, featuring raps and dialogue adopted from juke, often in combination with sharp-edged and incidental samples giving some tracks a paranoid atmosphere. Take ‘187 Homicide’s bleak feeling and question and answer vocals, ‘Area 72’s alien landing scenario or ‘Speaker’s R-4’s audio walk-through. His music is often hectic, seemingly built to to almost psyche-out the listener or offer challenges to dancers; it’s this playful and imaginative quality, along with his sometimes baffling-but-it-works rhythms and sub, that give RP’s tracks their totally unique feel.

      You might be familiar with Konx-om-Pax previous work without already being aware of it. His real name is Tom Scholefield, he’s from Glasgow, and as a 3D film director and graphic artist he’s made videos for locals Hudson Mohawke and Mogwai as well as Martyn, Jamie Lidell, Kuedo and Lone, created sleeve artwork for Oneohtrix Point Never, Rustie, King Midas Sound and others, plus he has toured with Mogwai as a DJ.

      So how on earth does he find the time to make music, or the energy? Tom explains that he makes music to chill out, a form of creative self medication. In contrast to his bright, synthetic and colourful artwork and videos, his music is more mossy and analogue. Often beatless, personal and located in a transporting surrealism, it's sometimes inspired by the idea of rescoring films and TV. 'Glacier Mountain Descent', for instance, is a re-imagining of the start of Werner Herzog’s 'Aguirre'. At other times tracks are inspired by nostalgia for childhood feelings, while watery immersion is a running theme, and a sense of Scottish surrealism is another. Tom started out making tracks in his teens, copying the synth lines he’d heard on prog house CDs, before graduating to a deep fascination with Jeff Mills and Drexciya’s hermetic imagery and alien funk after hearing them on John Peel’s show. This led him to creating lo-fi techno, then DJing and promoting events at art school, which developed his knowledge, driving him to formulate an aesthetic of unpolished, textured and emotive music. 'Regional Surrealism' works largely like a film. Vignettes like 'Isotonic Pool' transition into larger more dramatic pieces like the deep 'At Home With Mum and Dad' which takes an early Aphex sounding ambient track and fills it with odd drama. 'Sura-Tura-Gnosi-Cosi' featuring mysterious U.S. artist Steven Retchard is full of tape-hiss and unsettling spoken word, while 'Zang-Tumb' - with guitar played by Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite - works in bruised and twisted Ash-Ra Tempel territory. Elsewhere 'Slootering' finds a sweet spot between Drexciya and Oneohtrix Point Never, while 'Lagoon Leisure' lets you get lost in musique concrete space and drops. Later on 'Hurt Face' rubs static and raw electronic textures together and 'Chambers' follows it up with a sunny glow. The album finishes on the water-themed 'Let’s Go Swimming' which indulges in a slow-motion nostalgia, sending you away happy.

      Various Artists

      Bangs & Works Vol. 2 (The Best Of Chicago Footwork)

      In 2010 Planet Mu released "Bangs & Works Vol. 1". The carefully curated compilation showcased Chicago footwork, one of the most forward-looking, innovative new styles of electronic music on the planet. Since its release, interest in the scene has grown with the sound beginning to spread outside of Chicago, influencing productions by not only Planet Mu artists such as Machinedrum and Kuedo, but many others as well. "Bangs & Works Vol. 2" brings the focus back onto Chicago’s own producers, showing where the real innovation still lies.

      While its predecessor sticks mainly to the more hallucinatory and left-field elements, this one has a wider remit, ranging from mad techno-style tracks such as DJ Metro’s “Tekno Bangz” or DJ T-Why’s immense “Juice” and ‘Finished” to those that sound like musique concrete gone footwork, like Young Smoke’s “Space Muzik Part 3.” Others like Traxman’s “Funky Block” and DJ Clent’s “DJ Clent #1” display the obvious influence of flipping samples, hip hop style to the rhythms of footwork, while DJ Rashad & Gant-Man’s amazing “Heaven Sent” shows the influence of P-Funk and Detroit’s hi-tech soul. On the whole, footwork’s synapse-snapping intensity is ever present, but this selection shows an even wider diversity to the genre’s independent and unique production focus.


      Tropics is Chris Ward, a British producer and multi-instrumentalist in his early 20s signed to Planet Mu. Since the release of his debut single ‘Soft Vision’, things have moved on. The synth-pop of his early tracks has evolved into a more substantial and personal sound on this, his debut album. ‘Parodia Flare’ features Chris as a multi-instrumental auteur, playing drums, guitar, and a range of synths and electronic boxes, as well as singing on these songs.

      Coming from a family where music was always played, it made sense as a musician for Chris to act almost as a conduit by wiring the sounds he enjoyed growing up with into his own creations. The music he makes weaves vintage sounds and Rhodes keyboards, alongside banks of old synths, software and guitars, live drums and electric bass. Tropics is a suitable name for Chris’s music as each song is like a warm analogue jungle of sounds, drawn into focus by Chris’ naive singing voice and his knack for a lush melody. Given that the album was recorded in a walk-in wardrobe at his house, the steamy heat that the album gives off is a testament to his imagination.

      The opening short 'Navajo' sets the scene with atmospheric clouds of reverbed chords and electric guitar, quickly followed by recent single ‘Mouves’ with its gently sung verses disappearing into clouds of echoey Rhodes chords and floating synths with low-slung New Order-esque bass and soft drums keeping the track in shape. Next up ‘Parodia Flare’ majestically stretches shimmering keyboard tones and a light guitar over a tight bass and drums, gently teasing out the serene atmosphere. ‘Going Back’ features a keyboard refrain borrowed from a 70s jazz fusion track, with a low bass and Chris snowy voice cutting through the middle of phased guitars.

      ‘Wear Out’ is the morning after, sounding like an exhausted take on late period Beatles, with a lolloping drum beat and horns that sound like they’re drunk, interrupted by shimmering marimbas while cold keys screech in the background. ‘Celebrate’, revised for the album, is a vortex of aerial dub, with echoes and reverbs layering and looping over a very minimal drum and sub-bass, the whole track moving in glorious slow motion. 'Figures', meanwhile, delicately projects Chris's whispered vocals onto a chord borrowed from late 80s Detroit techno, inside a chilly electronic atmosphere that gradually breaks into an 80’s electro funk bassline.

      ‘Telassar’ is a soft focus 80s synth epic, while 'Playgrounds' is more upbeat, with lyrics remembering the past. ‘After Visiting’ is made out of a strange airy atmosphere, full of tiny dropped-in details and smudged synths stretched over minimal drum pads borrowed from dubstep, while 'Sapphire' is based around a repeating piano refrain, guitar, sax and vocals. Final track 'On The Move' sounds like prime Chicago post rock but with the Mizell brothers on production, it’s musical mixture that tidily bookends the album.

      Terror Danjah’s back on Planet Mu after last year’s "Gremlinz" compilation reintroduced him to the world at large. Since then, as well as Planet Mu, he’s released a single on Hyperdub, one on Butterz with more to come. Well the Gremlinz are back again on Planet Mu with this punchy eight track mini-album of experimental grime that showcases a breadth of new music, that swallows r'n'b and dubstep into Terror's self made matrix. The tracks range from the spikey, minimal 'Space Traveller' to synthy beasts like "Twisted", to the vicious "Power Grid" that pits shuffling 2step drums against a fierce, dark bassline and the occasional firing ravey breakbeat. "Upton Lane" contrasts a twinkling synth melody with big kick drums and nervy chords, while 'Horror Story' goes cold and minimal again with a shivery bassline, slippy slidy drums and spooked out harp chords.


      The Internal Tulips

      Mislead Into A Field By A Deformed Deer

      The Internal Tulips is a new project from two guys who have a history in American Bands such as Medicine and Savage Republic and who have separately released more abstract electronic music on Planet Mu in the past; they are Brad Laner who was Electric Company and Personal Electronics and Alex Graham who is Lexaunculpt, and they continue continue these experiments in pop. The project has a Beach Boys / Brian Wilson/Beatles influenced sound, but it manages to avoid being another exercise in retro comfort music because Brad and Alex use laptop trickery learnt form their more experimental pasts to bring their sound firmly into the present.
      Aside from making beautiful songs, sung in Brad's delicate multi-tracked falsetto, The Internal Tulips give their whole project a very modern, psychedelic production, treating their slow burning but gently arranged Americana to unusual treatments that blur the layers between acoustic and electronic sounds, cutting and editing vocals and instruments and adding depth and clarity to the arrangements, giving them an extra sense of the dreamlike. It's an album that feels immediately familiar; we're used to Grizzly Bear and the Fleet Foxes, bands you could superficially compare to Internal Tulips, but after a few listens the modern abstraction and production at the heart of the album will pull you in and take you somewhere else.


      "Human Meadow" is the stand out track from New York garage / 2-step / dubstep / hip hop / electronica artist FaltyDL's debut album "Love Is A Liability" and on this remix 12" he gets the Planet Mu treatment by some of the biggest names on the label. First to step up to the challenge is Boxcutter. Remixed during the period of writing that led to his new release "Arecibo Message", it has the same lush sound as that album. Second to take the remix stand is label owner U-Ziq aka Mike Paradinas. The final mix comes from veteran of Planet Mu Luke Vibert.

      U-Ziq

      Duntisbourne Abbots Soulmate Devastation Technique

      "Duntisbourne Abbots..." is U-Ziq's first new album for four years and first new material released since 2005. It's a more reflective body of work compared to the whirlwind of chaos that was "Bilious Paths"; introspective and rather melancholic, U-Ziq revisits his roots in the early 90s ambient techno scene pioneered by, among others, The Black Dog, Aphex Twin and himself. Amongst these 17 tracks of off-key melodies, nauseous harmonies and woozy beats can be found gems such as the beautiful "Strawberry Fields Hotel" in which a lone bassline strikes out a refrain of unexpected simplicity while bees swarm overhead around a fig tree. And "Drum Light" where a five-part melody gives way to a startling noise assault. "Acid Steak Night", a collaboration with label-mate The Doubtful Guest, is a more straightforward techno number with 303 basslines warring it out with spooky melodic synth lines. A melodic tour de force.


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