Diving headlong into a world undulating pads, brisk drums and all-round summer vibes this latest production from Adrian Mart & Markyno sounds warmly inviting. Although, perhaps the height of the arrangement is reached at the breakdown as vocoder voices wash over cool keys while letting your imagination run riot.
Collaborating between the words fervent, experimental and funk comes this expression of sheer intoxication speaking an impulsive electronic language much more readily than it does of anything resembling the values of traditional music. Yet by the time Helix 7 reaches midpoint, circa five minutes, you are intimately involved with its burst of defiant energy, offset by a cast of modular rhythms and fiery punctuating snares. Incus, follows an even more rugged rhythmic path, although this time is undercut by splashes of emotive, film noir-esque keys contrasting the provocative drums.
Next, Lobule progresses into more structured territory fizzing with brisk pulses alongside twisted synthesized whirs that are best appreciated dark and loud. Completing the album is the excellent Cochlea featuring an innate sense of timing across the worlds of Jazz and Dub. Driven by the formers intense bass, which hovers over the loose structures of sounds coming and going, then taking an explorative turn eliciting the qualities of the latter provides a much more rigorous definition of soul, tempered with smouldering release. Par excellence.
Release: April 8
I meant to review this before its release, must have been distracted by unseasonal sunshine here in the UK. It’s a real pleasure to listen to this collection of Jamaican sounds spanning 1972-1973 produced by the legendary Joe Gibbs well before his masterpiece Chapter Three. Still containing that cutting skank from Ska the brew of words had already began to contain more message in the music. The deeper feelings expressed on the soulful end of things like The World Is on A Wheel by The Mediators seem as timeless then as now. While the Dub explorations seem just as spaced and revolutionary as More Dub by Joe Gibbs & The Professionals proves. The roll call of names appear from the breadth and depth of Augustus Pablo, Big Youth, Dillinger, Delroy Wilson and of course Denis Brown whose signature Money In My Pocket still exceeds expectation. There’s much more to discover than that though when paced alongside the sleeve notes detailed by Tony Rounce guarantee a continuing essential experience.
If you’re going to do a boxset then do it right, make it big. Totalling eight discs charting their album releases over the course of 1975 to 1980 this pays testament to the enduring legacy of the band in the national consciousness. While the final album Stepping Out succumbs to the schmaltz and musical clique characterising a lot of mainstream R&B as it drifted into the 1980’s it’s time to turn to that initial run of five albums which provided a wealth of soulfully charged, incendiary passion with songs such as the meaningful Love Epidemic contained on their debut. 1975 is of course a great place to start proceedings as the sounds of what became Disco had become well and truly established as the instrumental Trammps Disco Theme eloquently testifies. The legendary Zing Album contains the timeless Hold Back The Night and the rather beautiful Tom’s Song. But its perhaps by their third album that the band’s sound truly matures with numbers such as the exuberant title track Where The Happy People Go and Can We Come Together, alongside the quietly smouldering Love Is a Funky Thing.
The Trammps III released in 1977 contains one of my favourite tracks of the era, The Nights Went Out crystallising Early Young’s signature drumming alongside the powerful instrumentation and soaring vocals by Jimmy Ellis. More often than not The Trammps wrote about love and heartbreak but this song was about the Electricity blackout the same year. And it’s songs like these which give the band real depth of meaning. It is also well worth reading the sleevenotes by MOJO and Record Collector’s contributor Charles Waring for the bigger picture.
Release: March 25
Wacht approaches you like a wave of uncertainty crashing across the wash of stereo in unpredictable, unnerving patterns. If the drums weren’t there to provide guidance, to anchor the unearthly nature of it all, it would feel very much free of form with a life defining its own determination. While the compelling list of sounds offered range from warmly organic keys to the burst of dark sound effects parading throughout. Much like the remainder of the album combining ethereal moments with chaotic ones working particularly well on the proceeding Zielt.
Further highlights include the brighter horizon of Leuchtet employing the solace of melody in amongst its pallet, then Gewahrt competes for attention with a sequence of glorious, chiming drones. Maria Estrella’s breathy harmonies drift throughout the percussive pulse of Geweiht next as temperatures soar. The vocalist also appears on the wondrous Lasst Ios suggesting that perhaps the albums innate strength lies more within these landscapes of rich intensity, occupying the ambient escape of structure formulised by a signature timescale. Likewise the final and equally stunning Synthese Remix of the title track takes you down a similar path of intensity contrasting sunshine and shade as notes plunge into nervous territory alongside the defiant relief of joy.
Release: February 19
Beginning with an evocative splash of delayed reverberation time rapidly expands into the New Year as hopes, dreams along with a selection of desires tempt the mind. Once again Afterlife finely tune organic strains of music into likeminded thinking, this time round enveloping you in life reassuring instrumentation by replacing the clouds outside with a positive vibration of sunshine. This in ways feels lighter than previous releases and yet is so very beautifully uplifting until the very end
Chasing your own tail can be a distinctive, timely occupation that many of us will be familiar with. The by-product of some ancient tradition or due to more contemporary stresses and strains, either way if it’s good enough for dogs then why not humans. This latest number in the sequence sees Afterlife exercises the ghost of a bluesy past with haunting keys colouring the field of vision, drenched in history while reflecting questions about matters blue, until a wash of electronics rise across the background cementing emotion and content splendidly. I’m not usually one for fade outs but in this case it seems like the right thing to do as the music enters, makes its presence felt, then exists having spoken the universal language of understanding.
Simplicity in the complexity of the here and now isn’t always an easy piece of the jigsaw to capture but this combination of introspective impulses alongside a blissfully unaware uplift seeks out those corners in abundance. The sounds themselves sculpt moods that are as old as you may feel referencing a history of electronics that playfully disregard trends and fashion and yet are all the more rewarding for it. It’s also the beauty of the uncomplicated which enthrals here from the lonely chords populating Ether through to the bass heavy tones that ignite Infinite there is a commanding, haunting beauty to be found inside.
Release: August 27
Operating under the alias of Rework Daniel Varga, Michael Kuebler and Elmar Mellert join forces to deliver this late night tale of intrigue as Anything’s commanding low-tempo shuffle ignites their airwaves in a flurry of hot keys, swirls plus smouldering, breathy vocals. The brisker bounce of Cracked Edit follows fuelled by fabulously syncopated basslines alongside classic drum machines, leaving the beautiful sway of Always Done to complete via shimmering, gated notes amid deep low-end all coming complete with an uplifting sting.
Laurel Halo has made twelve pieces of music to accompany the 2018 film Possessed, which was produced by the artist collective Metahaven and Rob SchrÃ¶der. Created and crafted by Laurel Halo along with violinist, Galya Bisengalieva and cellist, Oliver Coates who play beautifully evocative accompaniment. The sounds are enough in themselves to guess at what the film is saying to you about privacy, technology and the invasive recordings of our daily actions at play, and equally as part of the act of new capitalism. Consequently you will experience the brutal, grainy strains of the drone fuelled Lead, while the piano coloured Hyphae offers up a contrasting divergence of emotion. That instrument also provides the interlude of Stabat Mater (Excerpt) in quietly exhilarating ways too, as on other moments, leaving the breathy ambience of Masks to suggest an altogether different circumstance to absorb. At many times this is a strange but always compelling listen that may leave you feeling certain about the uncertainty in modern life. Or perhaps not?
Release: April 10