Taiga is a pop album, but its creator has made that way intentionally while retaining, and perhaps improving upon, her artistry. Rather than cashing in, the album finds Zola Jesus (aka Nika Rosa Danilova) returning to her roots of sorts, as she largely wrote Taiga on Washington’s Vashon Island, as though returning to the rustic forests where she was raised in Wisconsin, singing “do you wish you could go back to it all?” on the creaking opening title track, which erupts into a jungle beat. From here, we head into powerful pop songs like “Dangerous Days” that find Danilova singing clearly and boldly over dance-pop beats, but with the same paralyzing strength her voice has always commanded. “Go (Blank Sea)” is a little sultrier, built on a slower beat that swells into big, booming pop chorus and disintegrates into fluttering synthesizers, while Nika Roza Danilova’s voice rises and falls with soul and precision. “Hunger’s” hyperkinetic beat and incisive synth riff make for some of the album’s most grabbing moments. And though “Lawless’,” beautiful melodies sound buried under the ice, they’re still firmly pop. Perhaps because of the way in which it was written, the album has a certain isolation to it that comes through on tracks like “Ego,” in which Danilova undergoes thorough self-examination (she pairs similarly painful reflections “I fought against the ego, I know it brought me closer to losin’” and “I fed into the ego, I knew it brought me closer to hubris”), while synthesizers and strings quietly battle around her, sounds creaking cavernously in the background. On Taiga, Danilova sounds as though she’s faced her inner demons and come through on top with an album of powerfully moving pop music.
Out Sept. 23
The Internet pretty much exploded when Richard D. James announced Syro, and with good reason. It’s the ambient/electronic artist’s first album in 13 years, and from the sound of the glorious “minipops 67 [120.2][source field mix]” (OMG vocals), it’ll have been worth the wait.
Out Sept. 23
Why release Jersey-inspired house when you can reissue the real thing? The “Meat Mixx” and “NYC Dub” of this Whitehead/Murk collaboration are compiled here, along with present-day remixes. The original NYC Dub is a transcendent example of American garage house - all vocal cutups, pristine piano, swung drums and organ steps.The Meat Mixx makes full-use of Whitehead’s powerhouse ( vocals. A1, the remix by Willie Graff and Tucillo provides an airier interpretation of the NYC Dub’s organ stabs and Whitehead’s soaring vocals, and adds a subtle acidic squelch. The Florian Kruse mix has a classic Strictly Rhythm vibe while Max Jacobson takes a deeper approach - looping a wordless sample of Whitehead’s vocal, but buoying the track with live-sounding bongos. Great release!
Purchase Under My Spell
Their status as LA’s premier live dance/balaeric/kraut/? band cemented, the group of talented producers and music nerds (Pharoahs’ core consists of former Amoeba employee Sam Cooper, Dublab dude Ale Cooper and rising producer Suzanne Kraft) make the move to fellow diviner Lovefingers’ label for their most realized effort yet. “Ahumba” is named after surfer Cooper’s dream beach in Zanzibar - and the song reworks windswept digital beauty of the Innovative Communications label for the dancefloor. Sublime guitar arpeggiations color the tropical tracks. “If It Ever Feels Right” is a live staple that never comes out quite the same - a testament to the massive amount of improv that makes Pharaohs such an exciting group. The basis of the track is a descending Juno 60 arpeggio - delayed uptown sax, a far-off pad and varied percussion fill this out into perhaps the most floor-friendly track on the record. The insistent bassline eventually ends up scoring some light jacking and zonked sax-work worthy of Roland P. Young. Island Time successfully focuses on rhythm rather than the synth acrobats of the other tracks, bringing the tide back out for this great EP.
Look Right Through12”
Morgan Geistʼs new project STORM QUEEN marks a return to his roots with an analog approach towards modern house music with a disco pedigree. STORM QUEEN is made for DJs, but doesnʼt sacrifice atmosphere and songwriting. STORM QUEEN owes a debt to classic house music from New York, Chicago and Detroit, as well as disco and boogie.
Listen to "Look Right Through" here:
BIG PIANO 12"
Ireland's JOHN DALY brings this 4 track EP of house perfection. The title track brings back the feeling of 90s KERRI CHANDLER; "REACH" continues the deepness with a warm sound; "LONG DISTANCE" adds more of a tech texture & "ATLANTIC DRIVE" finishes the 12" with a serene mood.
Listen to "Big Piano" here:
Shake Your Body Down 12”
Born from a live studio jam this track is a real club groover inspired by early Chicago acid house and old skool Detroit techno. Infectious bassline guaranteed to get the crowd moving. B/w "TWILIGHT" an edited DJ session cut. Cover art done by DISCREET UNIT himself.
Penner & Muder
Let The Music Play 12”
NILS PENNER & JOHN MUDER bring 3 single cuts from their album "SAME MONKEYS DIFFERENT ZOO". The 1st is a hot track with an uplifting late night feel. "TIME HAS COME" is a deep vocal driven track and "ACROSS MY HEART" ends the EP nicely with real nice chugger complete with filtered synthlines & vocals.
Listen to "Let The Music Play" here:
Jack Parsons Lab
Followup to their successful debut that garnered support from HARVEY, RAY MANG and more. Two Balearic tracks ("less Pacha, more Cafe Del Mar") that quietly uphold the West Coast soft rock tradition. B/w "FOREST ELECTRIC". Sleeve features a full color cover painting by Cali artist JAY NELSON.