electronica album reviews

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Holly Herndon: Proto review – dizzying beauty and bracing beats

(4AD) Related: Holly Herndon: the musician who birthed an AI baby It’s credit to Holly Herndon’s skill as a musical guide that her third album, though up to its elbows in complex ideas, feels so invigorating. Her boldest attempt yet to reconfigure modern dilemmas musical, technological and philosophical, it looks back, finding inspiration in the …

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Laurence Pike: Holy Spring review – cosmic drum trips

(The Leaf Label) A solo album by an improvisational drummer would in most circumstances elicit a wary groan, but Australia’s Laurence Pike is no ordinary percussionist. He’s played with a miscellany of jazzers (notably pianist Mike Nock), and embraced genres from psych to electronica to spiritual jazz. Nonetheless, his 2018 debut, Distant Early Warning, was …

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Ishmael Ensemble: A State of Flow review | John Lewis’s contemporary album of the month

(Severn Songs)Combining genres from jazz to minimalism with a great city’s musical heritage, without resorting to pastiche, is no mean feat Ishmael is a saxophonist, DJ, producer and bandleader, known to his friends as Pete Cunningham. Over the past few years, he’s conducted some madly varied DJ sets, created stately remixes of tracks by Detroit …

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The Matthew Herbert Brexit Big Band: The State Between Us review – spacious political elegy

(Accidental Records) The Matthew Herbert Big Band are attempting something that so far seems beyond our politicians: “To work out what a new kind of relationship with our European neighbours may look like.” This BPI-funded project has taken Herbert to Syria, China and Russia and has provided work for more than 1,000 musicians from across …

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Jayda G: Significant Changes review – inclusive manifesto for dancefloors – and oceans

(Ninja Tune) Berlin is famous for its vast nightclubbing landscape, with destination venues existing alongside an endless supply of spots for house-music enthusiasts, just off the beaten track. Yet it also harbours a reputation for having drained the genre of all colour, sometime during the course of a transatlantic cultural dialogue that would reshape the …

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Stephen Malkmus: Groove Denied review – stark, forbidding soundscapes

(Domino) With a couple of honourable exceptions – specifically his self-titled 2001 solo debut and last year’s excellent Sparkle Hard – Stephen Malkmus has too often during his post-Pavement career found himself bogged down in amorphous, sub-Grateful Dead jams. Indeed, Frank Black aside, it’s hard to think of a solo canon that’s been quite so …

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The Cinematic Orchestra: To Believe review – heartbreakingly brilliant

(Ninja Tune) I’ve always found the Cinematic Orchestra too pretentious, too austere, a band whose ambitions outran their abilities. With this fourth album, 12 years after their last, that austerity is over. To Believe is heartbreakingly brilliant: a collection of exquisitely assembled songs that appear delicate from a distance before revealing a close-quarters core strength. …

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Teeth of the Sea: Wraith review – sonic dystopians explore ambient brass

(Rocket Recordings) The trumpets that permeate Teeth of the Sea’s fifth album act like the prophetic horns of Jericho. Laid thick with reverb, they herald the dystopian landscape the London-based trio create through nine tracks of scattering electronic percussion, earthy bass lines and eerie ambience. Largely instrumental, Wraith plays more like a slab of techno …

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Sleaford Mods: Eton Alive review – damning details of life on a frayed isle

(Extreme Eating)Always recognisable and always evolving, Andrew Fearn and Jason Williamson’s barked social snapshots turn melodic Sleaford Mods’ frontman Jason Williamson recently revealed that lately he’s been listening to Alexander O’Neal, Chaka Khan and Luther Vandross, although the Nottinghamshire duo haven’t suddenly gone soul or R&B. However, Andrew Fearn’s backing tracks are forever evolving and …

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