electronica album reviews

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Jóhann Jóhannsson: 12 Conversations with Thilo Heinzmann | John Lewis’s contemporary album of the month

(Deutsche Grammophon)Jóhannsson’s piece, inspired by artist Heinzmann, lacks the composer’s electronic trademarks, but it is full of poignant beauty in this reworking by Echo Collective Since his death in February 2018 aged 48, the Icelandic composer Jóhann Jóhannsson seems to have spawned a posthumous catalogue to rival Tupac Shakur’s. In the last 18 months, we’ve …

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Octo Octa: Resonant Body review – upbeat, free-spirited electronica

(T4t Luv Nrg)Octo Octa’s trans journey is mirrored in her electronic palette, using crunching beats, ambience and supple synths on celebratory tracks For Octo Octa, music has been a journey of self-discovery that’s mirrored the development of her own identity. The electronic music producer and DJ publicly came out as trans in 2016 and refers …

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Ami Dang: Parted Plains review | Ammar Kalia’s global album of the month

(Leaving Records)Dang’s self-assured album brings elements of unease to stillness, with keening melodies and multilayered sounds The line between ambient music and muzak can be a fine one. The former is “an atmosphere, a surrounding influence: a tint” to envelop the listener, music “intended to induce calm and a space to think,” according to Brian …

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Flying Lotus: Flamagra review – stuck in a cosmic time-warp

(Warp) Steven “FlyLo” Ellison usually releases an album of his collapsed nu-jazz every other year to roaring acclaim, but has spent much of the past half-decade producing for Kendrick, mentoring Thundercat and rowing back his imbecilic defence of alleged rapist the Gaslamp Killer. This long-delayed sixth album, weakly based around the concept of fire, is …

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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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