Kassem Mosse – Workshop 19
Kassem Mosse brings his surprise debut album to land with minimal fuss or fanfare on Workshop. In case you don’t know, Kassem is responsible for some of the finest, most definitive techno-house productions of the last decade, racking up soulful, forward-facing anthems for FXHE, Trilogy Tapes and Nonplus and, of course Berlin’s Workshop, which remain firm favourites in myriad DJs boxes. For his low-key debut album, he sticks to the shadows and the eerier, sensual spaces between house, techno and electronica, finding a graded mid-ground between midnight Detroit beatdown and European electronica. The tempos rarely trouble 120bpm and the vibes are consistently low-lit with no unpredictable detours or shocks to disturb the loose but carefully constructed atmospheres. It contains a lovely, beatless reduction of *that* A1 track from his Workshop 08 single, sitting pretty beside some gamelan/marimba-style piece, plus a number that sounds like the Knight Rider riff gone mooching in Detroit, plus a delectable Korg M1-rider that we can’t wait to hear out, and that’s about all you need to know. Recommended!
Various – EP 1
A much needed reissue of this ace little 10″ from Glasgow’s Firecracker crew originally released back in ’04. Linkwood family head up the A-side with a wicked Moodymann styled slack soul heads cut for the floor with ‘Miles Away’, a superbly velveteen homage to detroit beatdown styles with deliciously burnished horns and lights-down-low soul vox from Compost rec’s Joseph Malik, butter stuff. Family friend Fudge Fingas contributes the irresistible vibes of ‘Gettin’ together’ on the flip, a slow burning floor trak strictly for the heads with some perfectly studied classic soul edits woven into a loving homage to the Motor city more soulful side. Linkwood does the solo thing on final track ‘fate’ with a heady swirl of piquant keys and patchworked rhythms lending a fresh and psychedelic twist to the proceedings, brilliant stuff.
Elaenia is a record that feels like it’s taken six years to make. Some might see this level of craft to Elaenia as an affliction – middle parts of the record are slow but they’re intentionally so. It certainly demands an attentive listen, and such a listen is best started from the beginning . “Nespole” opens the journey in taunting fashion: a muffled shuffle, various loops, rising, fading, fluctuating – but never dormant. Half way through a bassline starts drawing parts together – slowly growing in potency – and yet “Nespole” never gives you the satisfaction of bubbling over. A clue that patience may be a part of this album, it instead gives way to “Silhouettes (I, II & III)”. At just under 11 minutes, a review of this one track could quite easily extend beyond the word length of this entire spiel. It’s ethereal, unique, and quite remarkable.
Of all albums this year, Elaenia is one that could be – probably will be – discussed for some time. It’s as impressive and rewarding as you want to be. If you’re looking for some music to jog to, this probably isn’t it. But for an album to lose 40 minutes in – to remember what it feels like for an LP to challenge the listener to stay enveloped for its whole duration – look no further.
Biosphere – Substrata
Substrata is often described as “Arctic ambient.” Though this perception is no doubt colored by Biosphere mastermind Geir Jenssen’s passion for mountaineering and his northern Norway home, it’s an apt description. Jenssen’s heavy use of reverb and echo, particularly on the guitar that pops up throughout the album, creates the illusion of being in a vast space–an ice plain, perhaps, or a mountainous valley. But again, this reference point is slippery. Nearly half of the tracks here are named after plants, and the album’s last third feels more underwater than anything else.
Brian Eno stipulated that ambient music must be as “ignorable as it is interesting.” Substrata is not ignorable. You’d be hard-pressed to find an ambient album this interesting, that crams as many experiments and styles into a flowing piece of work and pulls all of them off so successfully. The more challenging pieces are often just as beautiful as the calmer ones. Much of this owes to Jenssen’s melodic gift; he doesn’t rely on drones to evoke beauty as much as chord progressions and even simple riffs.
This is one of the best sounding ambient albums. Jenssen uses every nook and cranny of the stereo field, and hearing the sounds on “Poa Alpina” slosh from left to right is blissful on headphones. But this isn’t just a headphone album; it’s thick and bass-heavy enough to translate equally well through room speakers. Though you won’t get as much out of it through laptop or phone speakers
Not long before Substrata, Jenssen had been making the sort of Orb-indebted ambient techno that was in no shortage in the ’90s. Shedding rhythm in favor of pure texture is such a common career trajectory for techno producers it’s almost a cliché. But few abandon their old style as thoroughly as Jenssen did for Substrata. Fewer yet come up with something this unique, rule-breaking, and fascinating, let alone one that covers this much ground.
Harlem Pop Trotter – Harlem Pop Trotters
In 1975, French producer François Rolland and A&R Director Jean-Claude Pierric conceived this album on their Les Tréteaux easy-listening label. Usually they recorded cheesy covers of hits of the day plus some groovy original intrumentals. But this album is a groovy and funky jazz rock masterpiece. Grab it if you can, it has been reissued .A Jazz Rock and Funk fusion masterpiece, this lost holy grail has been reissued for your listening pleasure. Harlem Pop Trotters is an ensemble of terrifying good musicians and producers,like Jean Claude Pierric, which might ring a bell if youre into obscure library music.While the original 75 release fetches hundreds on the market get this official reissue while its around..its absolutely fantastic.