Underground Chicago producer Steven Tang with three cuts of dreamy analog house. The title track is a spacious, jacking highlight, full of rhythmic invention and lush pads. The end result feels like a Drexciyan take on new age music. Elsewhere, Tang opts for a swinging deep house sound that maintains a feeling of ethereal introversion.
Bicep attempts to shed their reputation as forbears of the 90s house revival tidal wave with this harder edged EP. "Circles" is a Detroit-techno inspired roller that has the duo in a more robotic way than usual - the swinging hi-hats, a constant in their work to date, remain.The B, "NRG106", is a sci-fi epic influenced by Carl Craig's early work.
Fred P remains on that vibe treating his deeper than deep sound with subtle dub effects. "Distant Rain" recreates nature's unruly clatter with chaotic synth arpeggios. The B side is more what we expect from the NYC producer, a hypnotic, subdued exploration with a delicate guitar sample.
Admirable abstraction from the a/v duo. Expansive, glitchy stuff, like the bastard child of Warp's IDM stable and Black Dice's distorted nature hymns. Sculpture emphasizes texture, allowing small glimpses of pop brilliance through a serrated rhythmic canopy. "Unhitch Your Program" is playful modular murk, while "Polymorphic Operator" latches onto a pulsing tribal rhythm while managing sound in totally alien. "Distraction Display" sounds like a group of children stumbling upon beatless brilliance - the beeping rhythm sounds could be sourced from Mario Kart and intermingles with haphazard piano, digiclav and xylophone. A graceful string hovers above it all, suggesting there is method to this madness.
Spacious full-length from the Night Slugs co-founder. These tracks have the actual air of grime and the liquid funk of boogie for a listen that's at once futuristic and familiar. The cover portrays a rendering of a hardware studio looking out on a hyperreal, lush greenhouse. The "Greenhouse (Day)" track is a beatless ambient track with pretty analog strings - a far cry from the floor-minded material Bok Bok/Night Slugs typically gravitate towards. "Da Foxtrot" is a sexy, accomplished track built around Rhodes chords, abstract percussion and cheeky, disco-indebted vocal sample. Bok Bok pushes things forward without needing to be difficult.
Cool, foreboding acid trax from the long-running trio. B-side "To Find a Way" is the highlight here. A deflated tom pounds out a rapid pattern while a loose bassline weaves. A single pulse is the track's melodic center while a digital whine sails in and out of the mix. It's nuanced and kinetic, but unlike most jack tracks, you probably haven't heard anything quite like it.
A romantic set from the prolific Philip Lauer. In interviews, Lauer's Tuff City Kids partner Gerd Janson states he tries to rein in Lauer's musician tendencies in favor of a more streamlined dancefloor sound. Left to his own devices, Lauer's arrangements are of the new romantic 80s variety, but adjusted to the dynamics of today's dancefloor. "Ward" in particular is a Bernard Sumner-style tear jerker, sounding like the best part of an early New Order demo looped to perfection.