electronica album reviews

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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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Ela Minus: Acts of Rebellion review – techno-pop for dancing, thinking and resisting

(Domino)Making her debut album alone on analogue machines, Minus has come up with an inspiring manifesto for 2020 As acts of rebellion go, Ela Minus’s is an intimate yet powerful one. On her debut album, the Colombia-born, Brooklyn-based artist makes personal-is-political statements amid alternately soothing and rousing electronic soundscapes, all of which she crafted alone …

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Autechre: Sign review

(Warp)A surprisingly melodic proper album is welcome from the electronic pioneers, but its dystopian soundworld is now in a crowded market As the devastating and the downright uncanny both become normalised, few things still have the power to surprise in 2020. That said, few would have expected Autechre to conjure up an album-length album, actually …

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Róisín Murphy: Róisín Machine review – still inventing new moves

(Skint/BMG)Pop outsider and lockdown living-room star Murphy distils her disco expertise and musical idiosyncrasies in songs pulsing with dancefloor power The first thing you hear on Róisín Murphy’s fifth album is a snatch of spoken word, an extract from a monologue that appears in full later. “I feel my story is still untold,” she says, …

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