Material (LP)

The latest from Davey Havok and Jade Puget’s electronic alter ego, Blaqk Audio. Produced and recorded by Puget, this is Blaqk Audio’s third release following 2012's Bright Black Heaven. Though best known for their work with AFI, Blaqk Audio’s love of electronic music runs deep.

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Star Wars Headspace (CD)

Rick Rubin compiles this album of producers scouring the Star Wars archives for sound effects and dialogue to craft a unique love letter to the films. Featuring Baauer, Royksopp, Flying Lotus and more, it speaks to the cool geek in all of us.

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Potential (CD)

Brooklyn producer James Hinton aka The Range scours YouTube for obscure samples of people singing and around them builds stunning tapestries of dubstep, jungle, and ambient music. Brilliant and very much of the moment.

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Days Gone By (CD)
Organic instrumentation mixed with smoky R&B house beats. Read more
Aa (CD)

Baauer’s long awaited debut album sets out to change contemporary American dance music. Aa is a record that could only be made by a kid born in New York inspired by rap and dance music culture, traveling the globe sampling and processing found sounds.

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Full Circle (CD)

Seemingly, all manner of ’90s nostalgia already has come up. But HÆLOS find a new place in the hallowed decade to mine, and they come up with gold on their debut record for Matador. Stringing together bits of trip hop and crossover new age (think Enigma), Full Circle forges a unique blend out of forgotten sounds that sounds utterly contemporary — imagine The xx if they were more concerned with upbeat grooves than breathy dramatics. The immediate thing that hits you about tracks like “Pray” are those delicious, turn-of-the-’90s house-inspired beats, but Lotti Benardout’s reverbed, soulful cry and Arthur Delaney and Dom Goldsmith’s hushed whispers keep you around. HÆLOS are preternaturally adept at layering sounds together, like the dueling vocal harmonies of “Earth Not Above” and warbling synths in the title track. But they also temper that with space to let the songs breathe, like the heart-stopping breaks in “Dust.” Full Circle is completely enchanting and easily stands strong beyond its influences. Sexiest album of 2016? It’s not too early to call it.

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Me (CD)
Honduran-American electro-pop artist Lorely Rodriguez exists in the mystery space between FKA Twigs, Lorde and Austra, combining fierce experimentalism with a powerful voice, hooks and beats. Read more
Collaborative Works (CD)

2015 might as well be renamed the "Year of Nils Frahm." He's released a new album of solo works (aptly titled Solo), original music for the German, single-take arthouse thriller, Victoria, and even a curated LateNightTales mix tape that runs the gamut from strange to ethereal to groovy vibes. Now the ultra-prolific neo-classical composer, in conjunction with Olafur Arnalds, a prince of delicate beats, brings us the deeply rewarding ambient album, Collabrative Works. With one disc of previously released EPs and 7”s and a new disc of works the two improvised in a sudden burst of creativity while gathering to promote their work, there’s plenty of textures to explore, from ethereal pieces of fluctuating synth waves to deep bass-driven pulses. Using the strengths of each individual musician, the sustained and melancholic beauty illuminates like a forgotten satellite in the atmosphere. Reaching a point of Cagean sublime beauty, Collaborative Works is the true spiritual successor to the ambient sounds of Harold Budd and Brian Eno. Feels as cozy as a warm blanket.

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In Colour (CD)

Producer and member of The xx Jamie Smith has just released a game-changing debut LP. Favoring melody and atmosphere over simply having a nice beat, In Colour is able to wrangle a wide variety of sounds into a living, breathing whole. Tracks like “Gosh” layer found sounds and field recordings underneath appealing synth lines. Mellower tracks like “Sleep Sound” and “SeeSaw” are terrific after-hours jams, like passing out outside a rave and letting the beats pulse through your dreams. The xx member Oliver Sim shows up to lend his narcotic vocals to the noirish “Stranger in a Room,” while fellow xx singer Romy Madley Croft smears black mascara all over the heartbreak beat of “Loud Places,” which makes wonderful use of a sample of Idris Muhammad’s “Could Heaven Ever Be Like This” on the song’s rousing chorus. Though it’s a bit jarring to hear rapper Young Thug and dancehall artist Popcaan on the following track “I Know There’s Gonna Be (Good Times),” the song itself is a worthy hip-hop crossover that enlivens the album as a whole. It may sound cheesy, but In Colour really does prove that trip-hop, post-punk, house and hip-hop can call reside under the same roof, as Smith expertly strings these sounds together into new nocturnal anthems. It’s not too soon to call this a new electronic masterwork.

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Why Make Sense? (CD)

Hot Chip’s latest album title, a sentiment borrowed from their forebears in Talking Heads, is a great guiding principle for the British electro-pop band. Their sixth studio album finds the group abandoning any art-pop pretenses as well as any desire to become overtly mainstream and produce some of its best music yet. “Huarache Lights’” synths pulse like sirens that push your ass to start moving. Over a cyborg beat, Alex Tayor sings  “we’ve been staying up all night, just deleting the days,” instantly summoning the decadence or temporarily losing yourself on the dancefloor. Hot Chip can get a little goofy, giving a potentially heartfelt ballad the lyrical content and title of “White Wine and Fried Chicken,” but things never approach Chromeo levels of silliness, elegantly striking the balance between earnestness and not giving a shit. This serves to make their sonic mining of ’80s genres like synth-funk and house work smoothly—they’re not too self-serious to pull off such sounds while still paying adequate homage to those influences. It doesn’t hurt that the band has never sounded more confident, nor has the music sounded so strong since their breakthrough second album, The Warning, particularly as on the sublime, ethereal house track “Need You Now.” Spin it a few times and the band’s sly hooks take hold and don’t let go. Why Make Sense? makes the case that Hot Chip continue to be the best band of their kind.

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