electronica album reviews

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Sal Dulu: Xompulse review – boom-bap dreamscapes

(Duluoz)Jazz, ambient and soul harmonise in the Dublin-based producer’s gently daze-inducing debut Dublin-based producer and instrumentalist Sal Dulu makes calm, expansive beats that swim with the cinematic possibilities of the night-time. Xompulse is his debut album, and comprises a subtly enticing collection of tracks that marry everything from boom-bap, classical, jazz, ambient, warm licks of …

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Pauline Anna Strom: Angel Tears in Sunlight review | John Lewis’s contemporary album of the month

(RVNG)Strom’s first album in 30 years – and last, following her death in December – is a quiet riot of digitally manipulated drones and noise The music of the San Francisco-based composer Pauline Anna Strom, who died just before Christmas, aged 74, might be described as new age – a mystical, trance-like synthesised babble that …

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Madlib: Sound Ancestors review – hip-hop visionary tells wondrous stories in sound

(Madlib Invasion)Arranged by Four Tet, the producer’s stunning album is poignant and sincere, combining beats, jazz, reggae toasts and vocal snippets into a kind of folklore There are more ways to fall in love with Madlib’s myriad music projects than not. For many it’ll be his charismatic beats for the late, great MF Doom, his …

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Bicep: Isles review | Alexis Petridis’s album of the week

(Ninja Tune)The Northern Irish bloggers-turned-DJs-turned-producers kick over the dinner-party table with an album that matches the scope and ambition of 90s dance artists The progression from record collector to DJ to artist is a common one in dance music: the difference with Northern Irish duo Bicep is they have done it all in public. They …

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Four Tet: 871/Parallel review – chaotic ambition with bells on

(Bandcamp/Text)Veering from squalling howls to symphonic loveliness, Keiran Hebden’s two new albums are equally rewarding In recent weeks, producer Kieran Hebden’s Four Tet has released two new songs with Thom Yorke and Burial, alongside these two new albums. Each track on 871 and Parallel is prosaically numbered in sequence, which hints these are end-of-year data …

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Yvette Janine Jackson: Freedom review | John Lewis’s contemporary album of the month

(Phantom Limb Music)The composer’s two new works, exploring slavery and homophobia, are like immersive non-visual films On paper, the latest album by electro-acoustic composer and installation artist Yvette Janine Jackson isn’t the most inviting of propositions for these miserable days. It features two lengthy soundscapes: the 23-minute Destination Freedom is a sonic representation of a …

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Farhot: Kabul Fire Volume 2 review – gut-shaking sonic collage | Ammar Kalia’s global album of the month

(Kabul Fire Records) The Afghan-born producer skilfully explores his heritage with an unruly collage of vocal samples blended with diasporic sounds For producer Farhot, the cut-and-paste method of sampling in hip-hop serves as an apt symbol for the assembly of his immigrant identity – he sought asylum in Germany from his native Afghanistan in the …

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Flohio: No Panic No Pain review – rapper leaves no mould unbroken

(AlphaTone)The south Londoner broadens and deepens her emotional range, while continuing to select unexpected production partners Flohio escapes labels. In fact, she actively contests them, asserting she’s not a grime artist as so many observers assume London rappers are. Since 2016 the Bermondsey rapper, who goes by a portmanteau of her real name Funmi Ohiosumah, …

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Cabaret Voltaire: Shadow of Fear review – a fittingly dystopian fantasy from Sheffield’s industrial pioneers

MuteThe first Cabaret Voltaire album in more than two decades feels oddly of the moment, their grim presentiments about disinformation, curfews and crackdowns fulfilled Between 1974 and 1994, Cabaret Voltaire made a career out of being slightly ahead of the curve. They may well have been the world’s first industrial band. Throbbing Gristle coined the …

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Sun Ra Arkestra: Swirling review – out of this world

(Strut)The Arkestra’s first album in 20 years is an intoxicating, cosmic tribute to Sun Ra For much of his long, prolific career, the late Sun Ra (born plain Herman Blount) found his music marginalised. Though rooted in jazz tradition, its atonal tunings and proto-electronica, along with its space-age themes and gaudy costumes, were too way …

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