It was inevitable that the artist who has produced so much spine-tingling music over the course of the years now strips down sounds to reveal their hidden essence. This collection of pieces compiles ambient soundscapes alongside the more chilled side of Khristian K’s ever expanding output from various labels now neatly appear under the one umbrella release. The expansive, From opens the sequence via a breathy delivery of ideas that touch and release emotions while the rousing, swirling pads generated on Floating seem endlessly rewarding. The grainy electricity of Perpeetum contrasts beautifully as the haunting piano of It Could Be tears at reflective heart strings to complete this other side of the coin. Notable, life-enhancing music.
A magnificent piece of music which I have been waiting to review. Not least of all because it challenges, tearing at your heartstrings while unsettling you by the insistent, haunting atmospheres generated via the not-so-gentle whir of synthesized repetition. The fizzy electronics which only enhance the tension are then soothed and smoothed over care off the icy, yearning voice of Elizabeth Wight, who alongside Mike Simonetti form Pale Blue. As a casual aside it is also interesting to note that, You Stopped Dying could be reflected almost as clearly care of acoustic instruments but then that’s important music for you. However, the two remaining tracks remain firmly in the box with the fevered Acid tones produced by Daughter Of Babylon, and the brutal drums of contrasting Love both fizzing with the type of dangerous excitement thats demands you leave the edge of your seat.
Release: February 16
I couldn’t exactly explain why Rekids are quite so important at the moment. Obviously they release music that challenges, excites and moves forward but also perhaps because the simmering, violent intensity produced by P. Leone on Rose Petal Breaks is simply breath-taking. Add to that, at a relevantly short six minutes of brutal drums, brisk crisp stabs plus a heady rush of sheer energy this demands repeated play. Next, Noon Service gives cause for concern with its gritty combination of punctuated keys and quick-fire percussion which, is fair to say, leaves your brain in a confused state. The unforgiving tempo of Hold Me Down follows in rapid succession, leaving the not so introspective Sometimes I Feel Strong to end care of another blistering array of beats, bass and chaos. Beautiful Vinyl Only.
Silent-One aka Benedikt Merkl started transmitting ambient shapes back in 2016 via his label Intimate Silence. And today the dark, crumpled shapes are even more demanding of your time. Human Border, begins as heavy sounds unfold across the stereo teasing out uncompromising yet resolutely rewarding emotions which build upon a sense of trepidation. Although light relief comes in the form of strummed, guitar like notes offsetting the terse intensity. The, just as imposing, Decide Your Fate follows serving up ideas with a breadth of scope, determinedly asserting their authority. While the tingling anxious, grittiness of Sign of Anxiety again feeds the imagination with highly charged expectations as rolling, clipped arpeggios ignite the mind. Saving the title track to last, Lost Souls opens up to a more positive future, though melancholy is never far from sight, with voices suggesting and tantalising – even though I have no idea what they are saying to me. The music typically haunts the background, coming and going as pads and loops of sound expand and then dissolve into oblivion.
Release: February 12
An eternity of words has already been written about Nu Groove, and of course the Burrell Brothers specifically, that it almost feels like old ground re-treading the path. Although as music is timeless, or at least great music is, then revisiting these compositions is always going to be a tantalising pleasure. Started in 1988 by Frank and Karen Mendez the imprint and its accompanying logo have been sited and praised as influencing much that has been produced since and you can hear those musical strains coursing throughout recent history. Now remastered for 2018 and beyond this compilation chosen by Luke Solomon sees a variety of tracks excite technological potential at the same as delving deep into the heart of the matter. Beginning with Burrell’s X² Mix of Equation – The Answer you get a taste for the electronic, while Bäs Noir – My Love Is Magic represents what became the ‘Garage’ sound of the era. No selection of Nu Groove would be complete without N.Y. House’n Authority and here the sleazy, Detroit flavoured Fort Green House is the excellent choice. As is the inclusion of The Sound Vandals – On Your Way. Indeed it is easy to work your way throughout feeling in exactly the same way. Capturing the essence of House Music and its accompanying variations between 1988 and 1991 may seem like such a short amount of time to do so, but as the music is so rich and rewarding this says in abundance the value of Nu Groove’s contribution to history. And in ways you could say the label transcended all of that and was a form, and genre, all of its own: Nu Groove. Listen to the exquisite Aphrodisiac – Song Of The Siren, perhaps you might agree?
Release: February 23
This has the word, Class blazing all over it. It’s one of those records that you just know is special the moment you hear it. Not just because it is actually about something meaningful, rather than the so much else, but because the production sounds excitedly distinctive, resolutely individual. Based around the poem “Still I Rise” by American poet, author and civil rights activist Maya Angelou speaks for itself, while musically the impact is straight down to pounding drums plus a fiery array of sounds compacting all the simmering intensity. Danny Krivit edits the arrangement with the addition of crunchy snares along with an expansion of the musical landscape extending and then heightening the elements brilliantly.
Release: February 23
When someone says the clue is in the title in this case they couldn’t be more right. This collection of heart-warming numbers creates its own homely, reassuring sense of occasion which makes you want to keep reliving winters festivity all over again. The familiar, resonating strings of Stay K – Crosstown Rendezvous opens proceedings via jazzy reflections and let’s face it, is pretty much faultless. The haunting introspection of Mike Dominico – Mike’s Joint follows, though various theme’s develop as the countdown expands throughout the selection. Vanessa Daou’s beautifully, breathy delivery on – Snow (A Deeper Drift) sits effortlessly beside the joyus Ganga – Forgotten Dreams (feat. Ben Ghazi). And so the story goes. The fireside is equally attended to by Kevin Yost’s piano infused – So Far Away and beats plus rhythms are then picked-up to end via Larry Heard’s Nocturnal Mix of Ananda Project – I Hear You Dreaming, which transports you somewhere else entirely.
Release: February 2
If you are new to the music contained on this companion of the decade then I envy what you are about to experience – forget the agony, this is just ecstasy. Reading Bill Brewster’s sleeve notes for the compilation of releases between ’90 and ’97 who couldn’t escape that excitable feeling only Strictly Rhythm could generate. There was always a sense of trepidation with what you would get to hear next from the label and that translates crystal clear across the three discs of prime, reclaimed time. Founded by Mark Finkelstein and Gladys Pizarro transcendent music such as After Hours – Waterfalls would hit one minute while pulverising epics like Joint Venture’s Master Blaster exploded the next. Musical possibilities were expanded via the Latin tinged River Ocean – Love & Happiness featuring the beautiful voice of India, while The Believers seminal Who Dares to Believe In Me teased out Jazzier notes next. The tough, tribal beats of Armand Van Helden’s delicious Witch Doktor sounded like a new era all over again as did Wink’s now Acid standard, Higher State Of Consciousness. I guess it’s fair to say that the label had few, if any, equivalents at the time and very much came to define those sights and sounds from the 1990’s which can relive here at your own leisure. Is this essential? Of course it is.
Release: February 23
Ahh, the re-assuring bliss of classic instrumentation to soothe you all the way down. Sounds that reoccur and are endlessly satisfying. Sprung from the well of Jazz, compacted by House, accompanied by the breath of emotion that surrounds Lono Brazil’s effortlessly cool words which never lose their impact. Shinning a light on the path of a promise to a promised land and at over ten minutes the arrangement doesn’t lose sight of its goal, serving a succession of brisk bass and repeating keys augmented by string stabs and occasional sprinkles of piano. And that’s before we even get to the brilliant Dazzle Drums version. Which injects the rhythms with further percussion and breezier vibes that simply emanate soul.
Release: February 9
Siopis pitches this exquisitely moody number in your direction scoring high again for the label in the process. I like it when you know a track is good enough to command just its own original version of itself. That all the ideas contained are executed to the best potential. And so is the case here. The words dark and atmospheric trip easily off the tongue as rolling drums are offset by sleazy synthesizers and devilishly, edgy voices. Artwork is from Xavier Fajardo. And you can get lost in there too.
Release: January 29