Electronic-Dance

Damogen Furies (CD)

In 2015 the overload of the senses is rather hard to impress upon humans. As information flows freely at a breakneck pace, anesthetized youths engage in a barrage of cultural and emotional assaults on the daily. There seems to be an infinite capacity to the modern humans’ sensory intake. Enter Tom Jekinson AKA Squarepusher. IDM’s antidote to the sonically apathetic. In Damogen Furies Squarepusher has concocted a Free-Jazz inspired unity with the current sound of EDM. The unifying qualities however tend to sound more like an affable acknowledgement of the times backed with an uppercut of unpredictable drill and bass. This unpredictability is due to the spontaneous recording techniques at Jekinson’s disposal. A setup that he created on the road to imitate his home studio, which allows him to record and mix everything in one take. Once that fact comes into view the epic club banger vibe of the opener “Stor Eiglass” or the proficient build of the '80s synth-scape “Exjag Nives” all the more impressive. The bombastic spontaneity of Damogen Furies is equally as innovative as Squarepusher has known to be in the past, with a brutality that matches the current landscape. Brace yourself.

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Black Metal (CD)

Dean Blunt’s Black Metal exists in some mystery universe between King Krule, The Weeknd and Galaxie 500. On one hand, the experimental pop artist, who put out the acclaimed sound collage mixtape The Redeemer, last year and who was once one-half of the duo Hype Williams, touches on the indie-pop past of his label, Rough Trade, with airy guitar-and-piano soundscapes. But unexpected elements, like an ‘80s pulse on “X,” cut-up beats on “Forever” and female counterpart vocals on songs like the jangly “100,” keep things endlessly intriguing, while Blunt’s dry delivery cuts through dreamy tracks like “50 Cent,” giving them an urgency that contrasts sharply with the austere music. On one hand, it can be a little jarring to hear such disparate sounds on one record, as Black Metal’s second half takes electro/hip hop detours that sound pulled from an entirely different album. But when Black Metal works, it really is seamless, and music that sounds messy on paper is nothing less than sublime on record.

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Wonder Where We Land (CD)

SBTRKT is modern music's demagogue. Is he electro weirdness? R&B bedroom jams? Dancey club hits ready to get turned up at midnight? He's everything and it's why he has such an audience! Three years since his debut album, he returns to unleash a new series of jams that are ready to chew you up with cathartic lyrics and music sculpted by syrupy-thick bass lines, electronic ambiance and vocalists like A$AP Ferg who can keep up with the intense beats.

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III (CD)

This trio is changing the rules on improvised instrumental music and taking jazz into the future. III is their biggest project yet, ushering in the group’s newest explorations that are proving to be limitless.

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Human Voice (CD)

Dntel, solo producer by the name of Jimmy Tamborello has long been creating soundscapes for others to put their human voice over. With Human Voice Tamborello has refused listeners the rights to their own language. Instead, he has created a world where connection is fleeting, melody is deconstructed, and all “voices” mechanized. An interesting proposition when the bulk of your listeners associate your music with Death Cab For Cutie’s emotive crooner Ben Gibbard. Nevertheless, the gambit pays off. Amidst the bits and grids of Human Voice, the mechanized voices morph through layered synths and staccato beats from the unintelligible to a distinct melodic pattern and back again. After 8 tracks It gives the listener the feeling of having communicated with a being not unlike a robot Ben Gibbard.

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Down To Earth (CD)

With the help of some ace vocalists, Aussie producer duo Flight Facilities have a seductively cool debut album on their hands. Singer/songwriter Emma Louise sells the soft and sensual “Two Bodies.” “Comedy Bang Bang’s” Reggie Watts proves a soulful crooner on the groovy “Sunshine.” The whistling, beat-driven “Stand Still” leaves you doing anything but, while singer/producer Stee Downes helps the duo remake adult contemporary synth-funk on “Hold Me Down.” The non-vocal tracks are just as sweet, with found recordings serving to add a dose of drama to the duo’s silky synth sounds. Flight Facilities could go further to distinguish themselves, but what they do, they do very well. And songs like “Crave You” have a lot of personality—pop singer Giselle pines away, “Why can’t you want me like the other boys do? They stare at me, while I stare at you,” over the duo’s jazz-inspired production. Consistently engaging and immaculately made, it’s a project that ultimately soars.

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LP1 (CD)

Beautiful and talented U.K. singer/dancer FKA Twigs’ first full-length album is here to explode some minds. Her voice transports you to a world where reality and imagination is blurred to the point of pure ecstasy. Her style of unique ethereal R&B with a little bit of trip-hop is like a breath of fresh air with a cherry on top. - Nick@Nite, San Francisco my friend chris sent me a link last year and i was intrigued. minimal and eccentric, this record is so textured and effortless. it doesn't feel manufactured or forced, and the eerie wash of abstract sound comes alive with the whispery vocals. it is sensual and compelling and… rich.

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In A Dream (CD)

Post hardcore guitarist turned electronic musician John Maclean teams up with post LCD Soundsystem vocalist Nancy Whang to release In A Dream. The record has an immediate dancability indicative of any DFA release. However, the pedigree between these two lends a familiarity that gives the record a certain timelessness. During the last days of LCD System Nancy Whang was asserting herself as a creative force in that group. With the dissolving of LCD Soundsystem, Nancy has turned it way up as the prominent vocal feature on Maclean’s record. Maclean churns out some killer pop-disco synth bangers, while Whang keeps the hooks coming. The single “A Simple Design” highlights the partnership that Whang and Maclean have, and leaves hope for a new definitive duo for the DFA label.

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Ibeyi (CD)

Twin sisters Lisa-Kainde and Naomi Diaz draw upon their Afro-Cuban heritage for their bewitching electro-soul debut. The sisters’ close harmonies and unison chants spill out hauntingly on “Oya,” an invocation to a Santeria spirit built on a digitally scuffed tribal beat. The sisters are the daughters of Buena Vista Social Club percussionist Anga Diaz, who died when the girls were pre-teens, and his spirit (as well as that of their deceased older sister) hangs overhead, but however ceremonial Ibeyi can feel at times, it’s rarely funereal—“my ghosts are not gone,” they sing, but “Ghosts” pulsates with lively chants. Only on standout “River” does it feel mournful, the sisters’ minor-key, gospel-influenced harmonies creating gothic atmosphere alongside a creeping piano and knocking beat. Ibeyi feels strange, its spare beats, eerily clipped sounds and occasional corroded hip-hop beat jibing uneasily with the sisters’ ritualistic vocals, but that underlying feeling of pain also serves to make the album’s spare landscapes feel oddly soothing in a cathartic sort of way. Perhaps it’s the Diaz’s directness—on “Behind the Curtain,” they sing, “dear audience, sweet spectator, we’re together for good,” and you can’t help but feel the connection. It’s an impressive and endlessly intriguing debut from the 20-year-old Diaz sisters.

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Junto (CD)

After a five-year hiatus, Basement Jaxx has returned with their seventh studio album, Junto. The album opens with the words, “Lords, ladies and lowlifes, welcome to the world of Basement Jaxx!” While the intent is noted, the music that follows seems more suited for lords, ladies and the bourgeois. Heavily Latin flavored, each track on Junto combines styles ranging from tropicalia to trap to dancehall. Even though Simon Ratcliffe and Felix Buxton are still genre hopping and focusing on catchy party anthems, there is a feeling of maturity and sincerity to this work that separates it from its younger contemporaries.

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