The conclusion of summer has seen release schedules kicking into overdrive, with blockbuster LP’s and low-key singles arriving with unrelenting regularity. As always our trusty team of writers are on hand to help seperate the wheat from the chaff and run down the best of the last month for you in our handy round up…
Leif – ‘Nour and Light’ (Sudden Drop)
Part of the much-loved Freerotation collective and owner of UntilMyHeartStops, Leif has been shining light on a thriving scene for house music in Wales for a number of years, and his latest EP for Sudden Drop is no different. ‘Solstice’ is a slow burner filled with woozy vocals and grainy white noise, while ‘With Your Sincere Heart’ is no less ethereal, with a few delicate pads and barely-there cymbals to take the listener to another place. ‘Once There Was Nothing’ continues on a similar tip, where blissful piano keys are the highlight above soft percussion.
It’s the final track, ‘Sintra’, which grabs me most, though, where Leif uses a palette of differing sounds and an intermittent bassline to great effect – it also received Joey Anderson’s approval on Soundcloud, which is always a winner in my book. On the surface, ‘Nour and Light’ is dreamy after party music, though with the right DJ (few can pull this kind of thing off in a club), vibe and sound system, any of these tracks are capable of creating memorable moments on the dancefloor.
Slow Life – ‘Changing Habits, Breaking Rhythms’ (Slow Life)
‘Empty Your Mind’ is filled with rolling snares and the kind of vocal which will likely melt minds on the dancefloor if used at the right time, while ‘As High As It Can Go’ is an unexpected forage into breaks, which ‘Just A Little Beat’ follows in a similar, slightly more sedate vein. Meanwhile, ‘Mostros At Work’ has razor-sharp hi-hats and eerie, jittery pads which eventually bring an atmospheric end to the release.
Granted, the vocals across the EP, which are often just a refrain of their respective track titles on repetition, feel a little frivolous at times, though that’s not to discredit the music overall, which has been some of the best stuff coming out of Berlin all year for me.
Sepia – ‘Glisten’ (Mindstep Music)
Taken from Sepia’s recent ‘Polaroids’ EP for Mindstep Music, ‘Glisten’ is a gorgeous listen – think trinket box melodies, delicate string notes and dark and fuzzy, Mala-esque sub. In keeping with the DMZ tagline ‘come levitate on bass weight’, this is how dubstep should always sound.
Cyphr – ‘Sun’ (Her Records)
Not sure what it is with me and melody at the moment, but this is another gem – this time from Her Records signee Cyphr. Complex layers of carefully constructed, beautifully executed atmosphere and streams of other-worldly melody collide in a heartwarming lunar tale all of Cyphr’s own making. Extraordinary.
Auntie Flo – ‘Sun Ritual II’ (Highlife)
Auntie Flo is back on the Highlife series with this original piece (well, actually a touch up of the original ‘Sun Ritual’ that came out on Kompakt). A euphoric number that keeps slowly building, never feeling static during its play time of over 10 minutes.
LV & Josh Idehen – ‘Shake’ (Keysound)
‘Islands’ has quickly become one of my favourite albums of 2014. ‘Shake’ begins with an infectious kalimba melody that forms an additive backbone for the piece, before LV build a half-time shuffle on top in a stylistic manner that is truly there’s.
Andras Fox – ‘Rock On’ (Mexican Summer)
We may be entering the gloomier months of the year here in Blighty, but this track – and the EP as a whole, is a slice of sunkissed musical escapism. Aussie producer Fox begins with a simple bassline that sidles in cheekily, worming around at the bottom of ‘Rock On’ for the duration, only complimenting it with the addition of a few parts and structural changes. Soft shakers, the occasional ebb of pads and charmingly cheap digital pan pipes keep the groove company and conjure up pool side vistas and rainforest excursions alike.
Marquis Hawkes – ‘Can’t Find A Reason’ (Houndstooth)
I feel begrudgingly obliged to preface my appraisal of this track with a quick Hater Alert: Yes this is teeth-rottingly sweet. Yes this is repetitive. Yes the vocal samples float towards Disclosure territory. None of these things impinge on my enjoyment of this certified banger from the prolific Marquis Hawkes one jot, such is its Faith Evans cut-up assisted brilliance. Sure some of the component parts may bear similarities to certain currently unfashionable strains of House, although like everything he does, there’s more than enough low end heft underpinning it to make ‘Can’t Find A Reason’ a damaging club weapon.
Bruce – Not Stochastic (Hessle Audio)
A very welcome return for Hessle. This 12” from UK artist and Livity Sound affiliate Bruce is their first release of 2014, and its a monster. The fiery, Tribal Techno hybrid ‘Not Stochastic’ flies out the gates. Looking forward to hearing this one played out.
Mickey Pearce – Instructions (81)
This ones a bit older – from a beat tape earlier this year, but its finally seeing a pressing on Loefah’s 81 imprint. A bold, relentless single, ‘Instructions’ is wonderfully refreshing in its near reckless approach. Its surely one of the years most immense Bass tracks.
Lapalux – ‘Movement I, II & III’ (Brainfeeder)
This man, in particular, never fails to make me happy. Lapalux teases forthcoming material for Brainfeeder with a rapturous seven minutes of reduced, stepping electric Jazz and bass works that sees his production skills coming strong as ever. The acutely pointed snares and fuzz bass of “Movement I” belies the deep romanticism at play here, as treated guitars surface and oscillate from the glitch throughout the second section, before a looped outro keeps the head snapping gang happy. He’s never sounded as on top of shit than here.
Peverelist – ‘Kinetics’ (Magic + Dreams)
Peverelist’s anthems always were of the unique variety. Here Tom Ford turns the clock back a full eight years or so, to a time when the fringes of Dubstep was the most creative place to be, and a string of productions from himself, Pinch and Gatekeeper were as exciting as they were forward thinking. Skittering percussion, pummeling montone bass pads and digi-dubwise horns that make me think of Calibre and S.T. Files’ much overlooked early noughties version ‘Red Light‘. Pure retrospective bliss.
Yaleesa Hall – Leyland (WNK004)
The Delsin affiliated label showing they mean business with the first release from an artist other than the owners. Dubbed-out tripping Techno that adds a string to the bow of an increasingly impressive label – one to keep an eye on.
Burnt Friedman & Daniel Dodd-Ellis – ‘Skies Okay Blue’ (Nonplace037)
A precursor to the forthcoming album from the duo and a wonderfully blissful EP to show off their collaborative talents. Dodd-Ellis providing the vocals through a range of spoken-word and haunting pitches, whilst Friedman employs experimental rhythms and beautiful whirring synths to keep the tone low down and deep.
Aphex Twin – ‘Syro’ (Warp)
A stunning return from Aphex Twin. A mature take on the hyper Drill and Bass of Drukqs with the honesty and depth of his earlier work. This is a guaranteed grower which will hopefully continue to surprise for years to come.
Roman Flugel – ‘Happiness Is Happening’ (Dial)
A surprisingly Electro LP from Roman capable of a giant funky sucker-punch. As much as I loved the atmospheric smooth House of his past work it’s an utter joy to hear his sound develop in such an unexpected way.
Baba Stiltz – ‘Reality Sparks’ (Studio Barnhus)
I’ve been watching the zany character that is Baba Stiltz very closely since we recruited him to drop a mixtape for the site a couple of months back. His debut album under his own name is about to drop on Axel Boman’s Studio Barnhus label and it’s straight up all killer no filler. ‘Reality Sparks’ is the tightest of jams, rich with glimmering textural embellishments for your synapses. Big things expected from this guy, watch this video and he might just become your new favourite person…
Max D/Hashman Deejay – ‘Shoegaze/Samba’ (Falstaff)
Two dusty slabs of lo-fi House form the debut twelve inch from Falstaff – a newly formed subsidiary of Maxmillion Dunbar’s superb Future Times imprint. The label head has donned his abbreviated hat for ‘Shoegaze’, a track that simply kicks hard to the tempo of your dreams. Mood Hut’s one and only Hashman Deejay has been recruited to demonstrate a shared love for blazed out sounds. Update cart!