Since it was founded in 1998, Cologne's Kompakt has become both a dance-music icon and an empire of sorts; today, the enterprise includes not only the record label (and its many sub-labels) but also a distribution company, booking agency, mail-order operation and retail record shop. Kompakt's influence looms so large in independent dance music that it's easy to forget, however, how humble its origins really are. It began with a record store called Delirium, the… more »
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New York's RVNG label was never exactly a straightforward proposition. At first, it served as a clearing house for limited-edition mixes — pressed on CD-R and housed in elaborate, silkscreened fold-out packaging — from oddball curators like Mike Simonetti, Dan Selzer and Tim Sweeney. Diabolic and Julian S. Process's RVNG mixtape began with the Butthole Surfers and ended with Deee-Lite; Sweeney's tapped Can, Throbbing Gristle, Aphex Twin and Cat Power, because why not? There followed… more »
Australia's Cut Copy first emerged in 2004, their name — a dry reference to routine computer functionality — belying the hedonism that's always been a crucial part of their sound. Their debut album marked them out as big fans of New Order, but they made that indie/dance union sound fresh and vital, replacing untouchable cool with warmth, sincerity and unselfconscious fun. Their next two albums were similarly stuffed with shimmering, disco-pop hooks, but for Free… more »
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2014 | Label: Astralwerks
Marco Niemerski’s breakthrough as Tensnake, 2010′s mostly instrumental track “Coma Cat,” demonstrated funky-yet-urbane production skills that recalled the dub-inspired ’80s club grooves of legendary Paradise Garage DJ Larry Levan — skills that now suggest that if he applied them to actual songs, Tensnake could be the next house act to follow in Disclosure’s crossover footsteps.
Glow attempts this and more. Its first single, “58 BPM” is literally set at 58 beats per minute, slower than even half the tempo of the average house track: Mostly sung by Australian newcomer Fiona, it’s… more »
2014 | Label: The End Records
For an artist with a subterranean profile who is releasing his debut album, Neil Davidge sounds awfully familiar. A long-term collaborator with Massive Attack, he produced their most commercially successful album to date, 1998′s Mezzanine, and became a de facto member of the band for its follow-up, 100th Window. He has also produced and collaborated with artists as various as Snoop Dogg, David Bowie and Damon Albarn, but it’s Massive’s sonic footprints that are all over Slo Light. Like those venerable Bristol trip-hoppers, its default mode is foreboding electro-noir that… more »
2014 | Label: Arts & Crafts / The Orchard
In the two years since their brooding, coldwave-inspired debut album, Trst, Toronto synthpop outfit Trust lost a member (Maya Postepski, who left to focus on her band Austra) and became an alias for singer Robert Alfons. The switch-up seems to have given Alfons a new sense of clarity — on his new album Joyland, he mostly abandons Trust’s typically surly lo-fi sound for production that’s polished to a disconcertingly perfect sheen.
Alfons, a nightlife photographer-turned-musician, also exhibits some surprising new influences, channeling the buoyant dance-pop of mid-’90s groups like Ace of… more »
2014 | Label: Warp Records
“I can’t hear my own music. I don’t know what my music is; I don’t know what it sounds like.” So said enigmatic London-based producer patten of his 2011 debut album, GLAQJO XAACSSO, whose keyboard-mashing title reflected not only his bewilderment as to what his work might represent, but also his fascination with codes, connections and process. Not as related to music technology, but to our own, endlessly seething minds.
If that suggests that patten’s records are dry exercises in deconstruction, then nothing could be further from the truth. His debut… more »