Dim Mak 20th Anniversary (CD)

Steve Aoki’s homegrown LA record label reaches the two decade mark this year, and to celebrate they’ve put out a comprehensive retrospective featuring 20 of their most seminal releases. Dim Mak first made its mark in the 2000s, releasing essential material from indie bands who would go on to immense success, such as Bloc Party and The Kills. They later positioned themselves at a forefront of the burgeoning EDM scene, as reflected in the album’s opening cut, the now-ubiquitous “Warp” by the Bloody Beetroots. Dim Mak’s eclectic approach is displayed in Aoki’s selections; this compilation pulls from a diverse pallet of sounds and attitudes, but congeals around its shared mission of releasing music that is energetic and impossible to ignore.

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The Colour In Anything (CD)

English songwriter/producer James Blake’s latest LP is contemplative, lush, and lovely. His melancholic, velvety voice rises and falls over textured, rich soundscapes inspired by gospel, R&B, garage, and Burial-style dubstep. Blake has always been the master of his own unique brand of intelligent, emotional electronica, but this time he’s brought a few interesting collaborators into the mix, namely Frank Ocean, Justin Vernon (aka Bon Iver), Connan Mockasin, and Rick Rubin, who co-produced seven of the tracks. The overall effect is vivid, but it’s not necessarily easy listening; The Colour in Anything is a cathartic, sometimes achingly vulnerable statement on lost love, healing, and self-discovery.

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Slow Knife (CD)

Slow Knife, Kuedo’s second full-length album, provides an atmospherically icy synth soundtrack to a non-existent film. Although the film may be an invention, the imagery conjured by Kuedo’s electro sorcery is vividly suspenseful as it follows hunted prey through perilous night terrain. At times the music is dark enough to incorporate hints of occult knowledge just beyond the shadows. Perhaps not so surprisingly, Kuedo admits the album is inspired by the soundtracks for Manhunter, Angel Heart, and Night of the Hunter, as well as by the moody and esoteric TV series True Detective. A few surprise guests appear within the universe of Slow Knife, including Hayden Thorpe from the British indie band Wild Beasts, whose vocals are diffused into the spooky tapestry of layered sound on “In Your Sleep.” Also, listen for sound designer Koenraad Ecker’s chill-inducing cello on the most experimental of Slow Knife’s tracks, “Broken Fox - Black Hole.”

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Woman (CD)

French electronic duo Justice are back with another ‘80s funk, house, and disco-inspired album guaranteed to put a smile on your face and your feet on the dance floor. Woman is vibrant, alive, and glittering; it’s a tribute to the power of dance music to improve our lives. “Safe and Sound” is shimmering with an uplifting disco diva chorus. “Alakazam!” is propulsive and hypnotic, and “Randy” is a throwback to the French Touch scene of the late ‘90s and early ‘00s. This is life-affirming, hands-in-the-air electronic music. Do something good for yourself and turn it up loud.

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Days Gone By (CD)

Using organic instrumentation mixed with electronic production, Bob Moses draw on the two poles to vividly resonate across both. Alternating between dancefloor burners and moments of reflective repose, Days Gone By weaves a rich spectrum of sensation over the course of its ten tracks.

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99.9% (CD)

Kaytranada's long anticipated debut release, 99.9%, is a perfect blend of soul, funk, and electronic jams. He is well known for his reworks of R&B joints like Janet Jackson's "If" and Teedra Moses' "Be Your Girl," but his original creations on this effort will get him in well with the people who weren't aware of his eclectic sound, and it gives those who already know his vibe more of what they've been loving. The album features vocals and appearances from some of the urban alternative scene's brightest stars, including Anderson Paak, Alunageorge, Badbadnotgood, Karriem Riggins, Syd Bennett, Little Dragon, Phonte and more.

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These Systems Are Failing (CD)

Whoa. On These Systems Are Failing, the first official release from the DJ/producer’s Moby and the Void Pacific Choir project, the artist behind southern soul and gospel sample-heavy classic "Porcelain" and ‘90s rave essentials like Moby and Everything Is Wrong is unrecognizable. There’s a hint of Moby’s Animal Rights era work here, but the music is even more confrontational, frantic, and bold (which is fitting for a sociopolitical work that has its own manifesto.) Moby dives headfirst into genres from post-punk to Britpop to industrial; there’s a definite Public Image Limited influence on “Don’t Leave Me” and other listeners, of course, will pick up on inspirations from other rock innovators. This latest album is more than just “art” — it’s a call to action.

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Skilled Mechanics (CD)
The latest album from UK musician/producer Tricky employs help from DJ Milo, Oh Land, Luke Harris, and others. Features eleven new tracks plus covers of songs by Corey Taylor (Slipknot) and Porno For Pyros. Read more
Under The Sun (CD)

It's hard to pin Mark Pritchard down. Techno party master; experimental ambient composer; electronic exotica; Pritchard's works (often under various pseudonyms) are so incredibly expansive that they can only could come from the era of obsessive record collectors and MP3 hoarders that know that history of recorded sound. Under The Sun, Pritchard's third album for Warp, drops the footwork and jungle sound of his previous singles and EPs, getting simultaneously more precise and clean while dropping the barriers of dance music. His tracks no longer feel like another jam waiting to get blasted loud in a late night warehouse party. They feel more at place in your home with a hot drink or an evening stroll with a cold breeze blowing. "Beautiful People" features Radiohead's Thom Yorke whose voice is at its most delicate among the Moondog-esque drum sample and the ambient textures that together sound absolutely heavenly. The titular track "Under The Sun," with its pop vocal sample, feels more in touch with the world of Brainfeeder's Flying Lotus as the quietest bass drum loop is repeated over the music, echoing and reverberating until it's just spectral ear candy. The yin to the yang of Mark Prichard's previous works, Under the Sun feels like the good vibes and drunk/drugged memories of his electronic dance days have taken a major step back for music that's more contemplative, meditative, and ethereal. No other album this Spring is as hauntingly beautiful.

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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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