Record Of The Week

JORDAN GCZ - INTROSPECTIVE ACID (RUSH HOUR)

⁣ Jordan ‘GCZ’ Czamanski follows up his excellent 2018 ‘Pinball Lizard’ EP and last year’s ‘Outnumbered’ (a collabo with the mighty Terrence Dixon) with a whooping new EP for Rush Hour - his most elaborate and probably his best so far.

‘Introspective Acid’, the title track of his new four track EP, is a spacey eight-and-a-half minute 303-infused house track that sounds like it’s made for navigating endless deserted highways in the dead of night - a ride through a timeless dimension of slowly moving objects and softly pulsating lights.

On ‘Jaguar Dreamin’ Jordan veers towards a more Detroit-inspired deep space techno sound not unlike some of Jeff Mills’ more recent work, but with a softness hinting at some of the more accomplished nineties UK techno.

The tempo is cranked up three notches on ‘Spring Has Sprung’, a restlessly neurotic techno belter that sounds like an early Kenny Larkin outtake on speed. A track that’s followed by the almost equally frantic ‘Wild Bounce’, this time putting more emphasis on the percussive elements, closing out this near-perfect mini album in style. (RO) ⁣

An Anomaly - Decadent Skies (Offen)

⁣ One particular record has been punishing our Klipsch speakers for a solid week now: ‘Decadent Skies’ by mysterious outfit An Anomaly on the ever reliable Offen Music imprint.

Firmly built on the legacy of Belgian EBM/new beat/early European house bastions Liaisons Dangereuses Radio and Boccaccio (do check out the excellent ‘Sound of Belgium’ documentary if you have the chance - it’s on YouTube) it perfectly captures the excitement and grit of the Belgian late eighties sound while dragging it into the 21th century pants down.

Opening with the raw and demented electronic body music drums of the primitive sample-heavy ‘Concrete Chorus’ and the sleazy darkroom beating that is ‘Eye For An Eye’, An Anomaly’s intentions are clear from the get go: they’re not here to make friends.

The hypnotically zooming ‘Dialog of Dr. No’ and commanding ‘Velocity’ are further shop favorites here, while the acidic ‘Sky 13’ and ‘Sunset Storming Heaven on LSD’ are perfect for zoned-out after hours in desolate places. It’s dirty, deprived and decadent and we love it from A to Z. (RO) ⁣

Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & the London Symphony Orchestra - Promises (Luaka Bop)

⁣ Here’s a record that’s destined to be all over 2021’s end-of-year-lists: Floating Points’ collaboration with Pharoah Sanders, the spiritual jazz master who has worked with both John and Alice Coltrane extensively and is responsible for some of the most memorable masterpieces in jazz history - cornerstone compositions like ‘The Creator Has A Master Plan’ and ‘You’ve Got To Have Freedom’. To name just a few.

Now 80, the maestro who was once described by fellow jazz giant Ornette Coleman as ‘probably the best tenor player in the world’ is now well beyond his wilder years, but he certainly hasn’t lost any of his rich, meditative aesthetic. The awesome power of his younger years is still there, but he chooses to use it more wisely, playing in a more subdued and introverted fashion most of the time - and it’s absolutely beautiful.

Centered around a brilliant little seven note melodic theme that turns into a mantra over time, Sam Shepherd (Floating Points’ real name) paints a subtle yet rich backdrop both in pastel and brighter colours that’s augmented by the strings of the London Symphony Orchestra. A backdrop that varies from sparse and delicate to dense and mesmerising without ever being overpowering, giving ample space to the master who can even be heard when he’s not playing here. It’s this thoughtfulness on Shepherd’s part and Pharoah Sanders’ unrivalled level of mastery that makes ‘Promises’ one of the best albums of the years so far. (RO)

SWAVE VILLI US (BACKATCHA)

⁣ Special attention for one of the coolest compilations we’ve heard this year so far: ‘Swave Villi Us’, a stellar compilation that contains sixteen sought after independent soul cuts that were recorded between 1971 and 1984. ⁣

Named after the b-side of a crazy rare and equally beautiful New Mexico spiritual soul seven that was only handed out to family and friends when it originally came out in 1978, ‘Swave Villi Us’ is a veritable treasure chest of gold nuggets that failed to reach a larger audience the first time around but are worthy to be heard by all. ⁣

There are no household names here (let’s face it: you just don’t trip over records by the Nassauvians, AKA Shaic, Ivan R. Sturdivant and the Antwants on a day-to-day basis), but obscurity is certainly not a goal in itself here - the aim is pure unadulterated awesomeness. And there’s more than enough of that to go around here. ⁣

Just check out the wonderfully slick slice of Bahama funk that is ‘Slacking Off’ by the Nassauvians, Theatre West’s bittersweet tingling ‘Children of Tomorrow’s Dreams’ (both rereleased as a 7” and 12” respectively prior to this album) or the Terry Callier-inspired vibes of No I.D.’s ‘Changes’ for further proof - this is a clear case of all killers, no fillers. (RO) ⁣

ALTIN GÜN - YOL (GLITTERBEAT)

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Ever since their first seven inch ‘Goca Dünya’ hit the store in 2017 Altin Gün’s music has been a staple at Rush Hour. On their third album ‘Yol’ they successfully try their hand at experimenting with new influences.

Although still firmly rooted in psychedelic Turkish folk, rock and funk (the music of Baris Manço, Selda Bağcan, Erkin Koray and Neşet Ertaş has always been at the core of Altin Gün’s work) the Grammy-nominated Amsterdam band is clearly looking for ways to evolve their signature sound. A sound they crafted on their debut album ‘On’ and perfected on ‘Yol’’s predecessor ‘Gece’.

The new direction is manifested straight away on the eighties synth-laden opening sequence ‘Bahçada Yeşil Çınar’ and the sleek neon-lit ‘Ordunun Dereleri’ that has a glowing newfound yachtrocky city pop sensitivity that works wonderfully well with the underlaying Anatolian melodic richness.

The production veers towards a slicker eighties pop sound throughout the whole album (Dutch eighties pop idols Doe Maar are a particularly big influence on the spiky and smart ‘Bulunur Mu’), but if anything this new approach only adds extra flavour to the overall sound, giving the funky Anatolian guitar licks and swaying vocals the new dimension that was needed to move the band forward. ‘Yol’ is Altın Gün 2.0 (RO). ⁣

Angel Bat Dawid & Tha Brothahood - Live (Intergalactic Mantra/International Anthem)

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Since her debut album ‘The Oracle’ hit the store in late 2019 we’ve been total fans of Angel Bat Dawid, the Chicago-based instrumentalist, composer and bandleader who carved out her own unique path in modern spiritual jazz.

Recorded live at the Berlin JazzFest, Angel’s new double album catches her at her fiercest after her longtime collaborator Viktor Le Givens was hospitalized when he passed out en route to the airport, subsequently missing his flight to the gig. When contacted the festival organizers simply told her that it was ‘her problem, not theirs’, unwilling to work out a solution, much to Angel’s dismay.

The band did eventually make it to the gig, playing their hearts out, with an unleashed Angel raging over what she felt was blatant racism - the same racism she and so many others had experienced so many times before. ‘“We’re human beings! I’m just human!”, she cries out on ‘Black Family’ (“black family is the strongest institution in the world!”). The sheer intensity is enough to bring you to your knees, especially when she proceeds to launch into the hauntingly beautiful piano-led ‘What Shall I Tell My Children Who Are Black’, based on Margaret Taylor-Burroughs’ poem of the same name.

It’s that tension between Angel’s anger, frustration and despair on one hand and the deep spirituality and beauty that’s always shimmering under the surface on the other that makes this essential listening. Angel’s band Tha Brothahood (a band that includes Capetown drummer Asher Gamedze and multi-instrumentalist Adam Zanoline) is on fire here and they use that fire both to start a riot and to light a candle - not to mention a stick of incense. The smoke clearing halfway through ‘We Are Starzz’ after seven intense minutes to make way for a gentle piano melody brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it - and I’ve played this many times already. (RO). ⁣

Benedek - Mr. Goods (L.I.E.S.)

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It’s been buzzing around Rush Hour’s headquarters for a bit, but now it’s finally in: the new album by L.A. producer Nicky Benedek for New York bad boy corporation L.I.E.S..

Benedek, who’s been releasing records on P.P.U., Leaving and Superior Elevation over the last eight years, has a gift for taking all sorts of mostly eighties-inspired musical elements and turning them into something new - a meticulously produced hybrid of memories that never were.

Opener ‘Fever’ is a prime example of that sound: primitive Chicago house percussion that screams ‘1986’, dito NY freestyle ramblings and a creeping little distorted acid line are thrown into the equation until the perfectly timed neon-lit synth sweeps demand your full attention. You’ve heard it all before - but not quite like this.

‘Doodat’ is classic eighties New York electro with a nod to same era Detroit techno. ‘Lighten Up’ is exactly the other way around. Firmly based on early Transmat, the track is gradually taken over by NY freestyle including cut ‘n’ paste vocal samples and matching scratches. It’s all distinctively retro, but it could only have been made in hindsight. ‘Mr. Goods’ is an incredibly well produced album that’s filled to the brim with great ideas, but most importantly, it’s all great fun. (RO)

Biosphere- Angel’s Flight (AD 93)

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Ever since he debuted on Origo/Apollo with the groundbreaking ’Microgravity’, now thirty years ago, Geir Jenssen has been a major force in ambient techno, steadily building a catalogue that’s rivalled only by few.

After three wonderful albums on Biophon (2018’s ’The Hilvarenbeek Recordings’, that has Jenssen samplng a broad palette of Dutch farm sounds is a total store favorite) the Norwegian maestro has now landed on AD 93 with a thoroughly unique album.

Originally composed in 2019 for Uncoordinated Dog, a dance production by the Norwegian Ingun Bjørnsgaard Prosjekt, It features twelve tracks based on Beethoven’s infamous String Quartet No. 14 - a piece that Beethoven himself considered to be one of the best works he ever composed.

Jenssen manipulates and morphs the classical masterpiece into something entirely his own, giving the string harmonies a thin veil of Northern light on the first four parts before catapulting the German giant into space on the fifth and sixth movements.

Proceedings get downright depressed on the heavy-hearted seventh movement ‘As Pale As A Pearl’ (which is, of course, not necessarily a bad thing), before Jenssen loops up some of the fourteenth most recognizable micro-melodies into two of the most striking pieces on the album in a way that resembles Akira Rabelais’ approach on the classic ‘Spellewauerynsherde’ and ‘Eisoptrophobia’ albums.

It’s those two tracks (‘Faith and Reverence’ and ‘Unclouded Splendor’) that form the heart of this ominous and at times pitch-dark album that has Jenssen successfully crossing over from Nordic ambient to avantgarde postmodern classical. And although ‘Angel’s Flight’ may not be for everyone, it’s one of his most accomplished albums to date and one of the most interesting albums to come out this year so far. (RO) ⁣

DOMENIQUE DUMONT - PEOPLE ON SUNDAY (LEAF)

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Latvian man of mystery Domenique Dumont creates a new soundtrack to an ninety year old silent movie. The results are stunning.

‘People on Sunday’ (original title: Menschen am Sonntag) is a 1930 German silent drama film directed by Robert Siodmak and Edgar G. Ulmer from a screenplay by the great Billy Wilder. Part documentary, part fiction, it’s a everyday depiction of life in Berlin between the two world wars. A true classic and still a great watch some ninety years later (check out the restored version on Daily Motion if you have time to spare).

Although Domenique Dumont’s soundtrack is far from the first new musical interpretation to accompany Wilder’s Weimar classic, it does add a new dimension and flavor to the storied original. The Latvian producer’s subdued approach - a gentle and often sparse one, is perfectly in tune with the feeling evoked by the movie itself.

Created with a wide palette of vintage synthesizers, Dumont’s movie music sometimes resembles the sound of both Hiroshi Yoshimura’s ambient masterpieces ‘Green’ and ‘Music for Nine Post Cards’ and Mort Garson’s ‘Plantasia’ (no shabby references) without ever trying to emulate any of those masterworks. Dumont is too good a composer to simply imitate others.

Just check out the circular opening track ‘Arrival’, built around a gently rotating melodic loop evoking the feeling of times less complicated. Or the shimmering ‘Sunshine in 1929’ (‘29 was the year the movie was actually shot) - three minutes and forty-five seconds of pure naive bliss. Something we can all use more of right now. (RO) ⁣

YU SU - YELLOW RIVER BLUE (MUSIC FROM MEMORY)

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In 2019 Kaifeng born, Vancouver based artist Yu Su released the excellent ‘Roll With The Punches’ on Second Circle. ‘Yellow River Blue’ is her stunning debut album for Second Circle’s parent label Music From Memory.

A collaboration with the Beijing-based bié imprint (yes, that lowercase is intentional), ‘Yellow River Blue’ is a tribute to the mighty Huanghe river that flows all the way from the Bayan Har mountains in Western China to the Bohai Sea with an estimated length nearing 5500 km, but also a testament of Yu Su’s personal journey to the other side of the world.

Yu Su’s freeflowing approach allows her to translate this personal journey into a unique musical universe that’s influenced by anything from traditional Chinese folk and avantgarde modern classical music to plastic eighties pop, pulsating dub and dusty nineties-inspired triphop without ever fully committing to any one style to make sure her music stays intangible at all times.

This approach results in a one of a kind debut album with eight compositions that all sound totally different but somehow form a beautifully coherent whole, thanks to Yu Su’s highly personalized style of looking for new angles and a plethora of good ideas, culminating in one of the coolest records to come out this year so far (RO). ⁣

BRIDGE - CRYING FOR LOVE (HIGH JAZZ)

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These last few years so many good records were unearthed and rereleased it’s almost impossible to keep track of them all, even for the most seasoned and fanatical of record buyers, but Bridge’s ‘Crying for Love’ is something else entirely.

Recorded over a four week period in a Boulder, Colorado studio for CBS subsidiary Bang, the tracks on Bridge’s ‘Crying for Love’ were never released. After years of playing the Bay Area, the studio sessions proved to be the beginning of the end for Bridge. Arguments over money and the fact Bang brought in their own producers and session players didn’t sit well with the incredibly gifted outfit, that had all but completely disintegrated by the end of the month.

A crying shame, since Bridge was just as good, if not better than most of the big name outfits of the time, playing ultra tight modern soul, bumping boogie and stellar funk with heartbreakingly beautiful vocals by Debravon Lewis (just check out the title track and prepare to be blown away completely) and Derick Hughes, whose sound and range strongly resembles Donny Hathaway - and that’s saying something.

Drummer Paul Tillman Smith, who wrote songs for Cold Blood, Norman Connors, Pharoah Sanders, Jean Carne and Webster Lewis penned the songs for the ill-fated album by the band that should have been a household name, using some of the best material of his career. There are literally no weak moments on this stunning collection of winners, making you almost feel sorry for the generation that missed out on this - this could well be the greatest modern soul album that never was (RO). ⁣

Terrence Dixon - From the Far Future Part Three (Tresor)

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If we were to name one artist that has carved out a singular musical path for himself without ever wavering it would be Terrence Dixon. After more than a quarter of a century the groundbreaking Detroit techno producer still proudly sounds unlike anyone else, his powerful sound untouched by fads and trends that came and went throughout the years.

It’s safe to say we’re all fans of the artist also known as Population One here at Rush Hour. So much so, in fact, that the store was actually named after a track that was featured on one of his early releases, ‘Hippnotic Culture’ on Claude Young’s Utensil Records. The Dixon connection has always been a strong one and was cemented by two different rereleases of the track that gave our store and label its name and 2014’s magnificent double album ‘Theater of a Confused Mind’, a project we are still very proud of.

The Detroit don has always had a strong Berlin bond too, with a string of rock steady releases on the mighty Tresor imprint. The monumental first part of ‘From the Far Future’ was released in 2000, its equally strong follow-up in 2012. Some eight years later Part Three proves Dixon is still one of the major forces in Detroit techno. If anything he has only gotten stronger.

‘FTFF3’ is an instant classic concocted from the usual ingredients. Chaos, space, science fiction, afrofuturism, gravity, minimalism, shifting patterns, darkness and light all play their part in Dixon’s parallel universe of alienated soundscapes and hyperenergetic machine funk. It’s a sound that’s instantly recognizable, yet has only gained power over the years. In 2020 Dixon is still light years ahead of most, if not all of them, sending back coded messages from the far future for us mortals to decipher. (RO) ⁣

DEZRON DOUGLAS & BRANDEE YOUNGER - FORCE MAJEUR (INTERNATIONAL ANTHEM)

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With their steady flow of mind-altering new releases by Makaya McCraven, Angel Bat Dawid, Anteloper, Jeff Parker, Emma-Jean Thackray and Carlos Niño & Miguel Atwood-Ferguson the Chicago-based International Anthem imprint has fast become one of our favorite jazz labels in recent history. Their latest release by bassist Dezron Douglas & harpist Brandee Younger is another work of pure beauty.

Like most of us Douglas and Younger, who are partners both in music and in real life, were stuck in their house earlier this year (in this case a Harlem, New York apartment) but unlike many of us they decided not to waste any time. The two, who have worked with Pharoah Sanders, Ravi Coltrane, David Murray, Jack DeJohnette, Charlie Haden, Stevie Wonder, The Roots, Lauryn Hill, Moses Sumney and many others started hosting live-stream performances from their living room, playing their interpretations of classic tunes for friends and family every friday.

Some of the highlights of these sessions are captured on ’Force Majeure’, an album that has the duo playing spirited lockdown interpretations of songs by Alice & John Coltrane, The Stylistics, The Jackson 5, Pharoah Sanders, Kate Bush, Sting and The Carpenters, all presented ’as is’ in a pure and honest way - without the fancy studio equipment and endless overdubs. It’s that spontaneity that greatly adds to the beauty of it all. It’s as if you’re there, sitting in a corner quietly, just listening. Something most of us have been missing - getting together without any restrictions to celebrate life and listen to good music.

The duo’s brilliant take on Pharoah Sanders’ classic spiritual jazz anthem ‘The Creator Has A Master Plan’ is a firm favorite here (are there songs more beautiful to begin with?), but there are no weak moments on this wonderfully understated album. These two can take on anything, flip it, make it their own and win you over instantly - just check out their bittersweet version of The Stylistics’ schmaltzy soul-pop evergreen ‘You Make Me Feel Brand New’ for further proof (RO). ⁣

Celebrity BBQ Sauce Band - Celebrity BBQ Sauce (Mahogani)

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At Rush Hour we’ve been dedicated Moodymann fans since our inception over 23 years ago, so if something new comes up on his esteemed Mahogani label you can be sure we’re paying attention.

‘Celebrity BBQ Sauce’ is a project led by infamous Detroit keyboardist and producer Gerald Mitchell (Los Hermanos/Underground Resistance) and vocalist Billy Love (Members of the House/Sound Signature), two seasoned veterans (no pun intended) who have both made a huge mark on the history of Detroit house and techno and are now coming up with a double dose of slick funk and dirty boogie.

The Roy Ayers and Herbie Hancock vibes of ‘Please Don’t Fail Me’ make it clear straight away that ‘Celebrity BBQ Sauce’ is all about the groove, something that’s underlined by the discofied boogie joint ‘Formula of Passion’.

The title track is the centerpiece of the album - a twenty one and a half minute P-funk jam in the best Funkadelic tradition, complete with Clinton-style vocals, extensive guitar solos and a Funky Worm-inspired ARP synthesizer theme that would make the late great Junie Morrison proud. It’s the sort of groove that just won’t stop.

The house and techno background of Mitchell and Love is most evident on the four-to-the-floor disco stomper ‘Music is My Hustle’ and the fast technoid funk jam ‘Live It, Walk It, Wear It’ that closes off this great album, making sure there’s a little something for everyone here (RO). ⁣

MP Productions - EP1 (Warp)

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With a career dating back over three decades Mark Pritchard (Global Communication, Jedi Knights) has always been one of the most powerful producers in British electronic music when it comes to sound architecture and sonic innovation. His sensational first EP as MP Productions proves he’s still miles ahead of the pack some thirty years after he started.

Opener ’Be Like Water’ is based around a mesmerising harmonic synth loop, a heavy UK snake bass and a plethora of lush oriental strings and flutes and mainly serves to open your senses to the relentless sonic attack that is ’Rakatak’ - a 150 BPM breakneck batucada track that can turn a dancefloor into a Category 6 tribal frenzy. A track so riotous it almost tore the entire place down when it was played by Antal at the Lowlands Festival after a long eventful night last year.

Another obvious highlight here is ’LFO Special’, a rather bold experiment in advanced crowdfuckery that starts with the first 15 seconds of LFO’s classic 1990 self-titled debut single before it’s broken down into a midtempo dubsteppy dancehall riddim.

’One Way Mirror’ starts off as a harsh take on Dopplereffekt’s particular brand of scientific Detroit electro before the hoover kicks in, augmented by some of the hardest beats west of The Hague. Halfway the whole thing evaporates into a brilliantly ironic neon advertising nightmare that flows into the hectic hyper-IDM of ’In My Heart’ - the perfect conclusion to this exceptionally versatile EP that needs to be heard to be believed (RO). ⁣

Sauce and Dogs - S/T (Not on Label))

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Very little is known about the debut album by Sauce and Dogs except for a rather vague and ultra-short description accompanying the release (“a mysterious but obviously very experienced group”), but at Rush Hour we tend to trust our ears - there’s something special going on here.

A cloud of vagueness surrounds this ten track album that looks like a charming DIY project (the only other info available says “actual sleeves are hand printed in London”), but the contents clearly give away this is the work of a bunch of highly skilled professionals on a mission. It’s been on high rotation at the store all week, even though we’re not even sure how we got these. In fact there’s so little information about this album out there that I was immediately presented with the answer to one of life’s bigger questions when I tried to Google it: “can my dog eat spaghetti sauce?”

What we do know about Sauce and Dogs’ self-titled album is that it’s a solid group effort that merges elements of post-punk, dub, spiritual jazz, samba and psych into something truely unique. A sound that’s augmented by impeccable production.

A wavey bassline, jazzy percussion and a wide array of free-floating string instruments set the tone on opening statement ‘Spit and Sawdust’. ‘Wax and Buff’ is cut from a different cloth - a heavy samba tune dipped in psychedelica. Things get trippy on the weirdly wonderful ‘Bun and Cheese’ and the hazey title track that melts dreamy shoegaze, slo-mo bossa and spacey dub into four and a half minutes of pure bliss. And that’s just the A-side.

“OK, But what about the bigger question?”, you’re asking. Well, apparently it’s not a good idea to feed your dog spaghetti sauce. “Tomatoes contain significant quantities of the toxic alkaloid that is bad for dogs, although a single ripe red tomatoe is essentially harmless. However, do not feed Fido ketchup or pasta sauce, as they contain several other ingredients that are bad for him, such as onions, chives, and even garlic in large doses.” (RO) ⁣

PLOY - UNLIT SIGNALS (L.I.E.S.)

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UK post-bass producer Ploy pours his dark soul out on his intensely captivating debut album for L.I.E.S.

Here’s a record we were exceptionally curious about since it was first announced early this year: the debut album by UK technoid post-bass don Ploy of Hessle Audio and Timedance fame for NYC’s tough guy corporation L.I.E.S. After all it’s quite a long way from the grimey streets of South-London to the seedy sewers of New York - sonically speaking, we mean.

First issued as a cassette-only release in early summer, ‘Unlit Signals’ is one of this year’s biggest musical surprises. It’s a dark and dense album that sounds like a spooky nighttime ride on a deserted neon-lit rollercoaster somewhere at the edge of the world.

The ominous opener ‘Gulch’ sets the whole thing in motion with a doomy prepared piano emerging from a sinister half sunken soundscape that leads to the intense beating that is ‘Clubtek’, with militant percussion beating on top of a desolate post-industrial setting. ‘Dog Ants’ is next, a ritualistic, menacing bass exercition rotating like an ancient dervish.

‘Pax Cultura’ is another shocker - a slow and low post-dancehall riddim overridden by frantic marching band percussion - another unexpected combination that works wonderfully well. It leads up to the sample-heavy highly explosive breakbeat monster that is ‘Molotov’.

‘Busy’ is another mindbender, starting out as a modern-day b-boy anthem before slowly morphing into something of a sonic nightmare leading up to the ultra heavy ‘Keys in the Dark’. There’s no letting up on the doom and gloom here and that’s definitely a good thing. ‘Unlit Signal’ is another strong contender for the title of Record of the Year (RO). The New Jersey garage-inspired ’Timeless’ proves Byron hasn’t completely forgotten about the househeads after all, even if they have to wait until the very end. ’Ambrosia’ is a creative triumph for Byron the Aquarius - one that also marks a new direction for Detroit techno titan Jeff Mills’ monumental Axis imprint (RO). ⁣

BYRON THE AQUARIUS - AMBROSIA (AXIS)

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Stepping your game up from making jazzy house and hiphop-influenced downtempo joints to come up with a fully-fledged high quality jazz album is no mean feat, but Byron the Aquarius has done just that with ’Ambrosia’.

Jazz has always been a major influence in house music when it comes to key patterns, percussion and song structure, but on his new album for Jeff Mills’ mighty Axis Records the Birmingham-born house don is not content to merely use it as a main ingredient, opting for a fully organic sound with a touch of house instead.

Recorded in his native Atlanta over a couple of days with the help of a select crew of musician friends just before COVID-19 shut down large parts of the country, the heartbeat of this accomplished double album is provided by veteran drummer Lil John Roberts and Brazilian bass player Chocolat Costa giving the whole project a distinctly funky feel, with trumpeter Dashill Smith and flutist Rasheeda Ali adding extra colour and flavor.

Herbie-ish keys, raw sounding bass and shuffling percussion interact beautifully with Rasheeda Ali’s spirited flute playing on opener ‘New Beginning’, before going for a more streamlined discofied jazzfunk sound on ‘Space & Time’.

Things get a bit deeper on the loosely-knit improvisational eight minute jazzdance stepper ‘Edgewood Ave’, followed by the funky latin-infused ‘Spirit Of Juju’, that’s the perfect showcase for Lil John Roberts’ impressive drumming skills.

The New Jersey garage-inspired ’Timeless’ proves Byron hasn’t completely forgotten about the househeads after all, even if they have to wait until the very end. ’Ambrosia’ is a creative triumph for Byron the Aquarius - one that also marks a new direction for Detroit techno titan Jeff Mills’ monumental Axis imprint (RO). ⁣

SURGEON - EUROPA CODE (ILIAN TAPE)

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‘Europa Code’ is the unwavering UK techno flagbearer’s second record for the esteemed Zenker Brothers imprint this year and it’s just as good as its incredible predecessor - if not better.

In February Ilian Tape released Surgeon’s label debut ‘The Golden Sea’, a sturdy yet adventurous techno stomper with aquatic undertones that somehow sounded perfectly at home at the label that has grown to become one of the most forward-thinking labels in techno over the last few years, thanks to a series of stellar releases by Skee Mask, Stenny, Andrea and label heads Zenker Brothers themselves - despite being a whole lot tougher.

‘Winged Assassin’ starts off as a trademark unforgiving Surgeon stomper with a nagging distorted acid line before it’s gradually taken over by ominous synth sweeps that are part menace, part melancholy. It’s followed by the relentlessly percussive kickfest that is ‘Crater 101’, leaving the sort of serious dents the title suggests.

Things get deeper on the B-side with ‘Place of Angels’, a sturdy yet emotional post-Detroit mini masterpiece that sounds like an updated power version of Dan Curtin’s groundbreaking early-to-mid-nineties work for Metamorphic.

It’s the title track ‘Europa Code’ that’s the biggest stunner here though - an introverted yet sweeping downtempo electro vision of a future dystopia that should have been a better world - making this EP compulsory listening. And while you’re at it also make sure to check out Surgeon’s recent mix in the Ilian Tape podcast series on Soundcloud - you owe it to yourself. (RO) ⁣

THE TWILITE TONE - THE CLEARING (STONES THROW)

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Although he’s been in the game for more than three decades, ‘The Clearing’ is the debut solo album by Anthony Khan, the producer/musician who’s probably best known as Twilite Tone.

Coming from a musical household - his uncle is the legendary Chicago bass player Hassan Khan, while he’s also related to bass giant Richard Davis - Twilite Tone has soaked up the sound of the Windy City since the early seventies, producing house tracks under a bunch of secretive aliases in the mid-to-late eighties, while simultaneously forming a group with and DJ-ing for Common.

That collaboration resulted in the 1992 co-production of Common’s classic debut ‘Can I Borrow A Dollar’ (1997’s seminal Lowrell and Patrice Rushen-sampling ‘Reminding Me (Of Sef)’ is also a Tone production) - before moving on to work with big names like Gorillaz and Kanye West.

Armed with only an MPC, a Korg Triton Workstation and what he calls a ‘secret Moog-like module’, Tone cooks up fourteen beatscapes on ‘The Clearing’, navigating between hiphop, funk and house - much like the city of Chicago itself. A sound he himself describes as ‘transgenre’.

Zigzagging between headbopping machine funk (opener ‘Journey Into Sound’, ‘The Lite’,) and spaced-out instrumental hiphop jams (‘Ancestors and Angels’, ‘The Sound’), Tone veers towards a more housey sound as the album progresses, concluding his fourteen track journey with the buzzin’ ‘Taxi Cab Confessions’, a track that’s equal parts Dilla, Theo and early Dance Mania - a modern yet timeless sort of sound that refuses to be tied down to any one genre but is a perfect addition to Stones Throw’s illustrious beat tape tradition. (RO) ⁣

Arp Frique - Minina Bem Li (Rush Hour Store Jams)

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I first got introduced to Arp Frique at the Magia Festival he organized in Rotterdam, a celebration of music based around the ‘Nos Magia’ theme. Arp Frique had the sort of sound that was instantly familiar, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on exactly where I heard it before. I wasn’t even aware of who created this music.

Was this eighties music? Was it released somewhere before? And was that legendary Cape Verdean musician Americo Brito on vocals? I had a lot of questions, so not much later I decided to give Niels Nieuborg aka Arp Frique a call.

Niels then proceeded to tell me the whole Arp Frique story. He had been a booker and event organizer for many years already, making music on the side and recording with a variety of artists of Cape Verdean and Surinamese descent, being deeply rooted in the Rotterdam scene and constantly developing new musical ideas.

I asked him about ‘Nos Magia’, the theme song of the festivaI and a song I was really into. It turned out to be new material, so I asked him if we could release it on Rush Hour. That’s how the first Arp Frique EP on our label came about.

Fast forward to 2020 - Arp Frique has outdone himself yet another time. After the full album that was released in 2018 he now delivers a strong four track EP which again dives into the world of Cape Verdean funana and Caribbean zouk, but this time with a more eighties feel.

Americo Brito is on board once again, as is Marissa Nyamekye, both integral parts of the Arp Frique family. There’s an exciting road ahead of them with loads more great music to share, as exemplified by the strong title track ‘Minina Bem Li’, ‘Mindelo Aoje’ and clubhit ‘Voyage’. (AH) ⁣

LARRY HEARD - SCENERIES NOT SONGS, VOLUME ONE (ALLEVIATED)

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You can imagine the excitement here at Rush Hour HQ when we heard ’Sceneries Not Songs’ was finally getting a proper reissue earlier this year. It’s safe to say each and every one of us here is a dedicated Larry Heard-fan and ’Sceneries’ has always been one of his most elusive albums, a mint copy fetching rather hefty prices on Discogs and Ebay, so getting our hands on a good copy (personally I’ve been looking for an affordable replacement copy for years) has always been somewhat of a challenge for most if not all of us.

Originally released in 1994 on Black Market, ’Sceneries not Songs Volume One’ (the second volume being better known under the alternative title ’Ice Castles’), the first album released under his own name, marked a departure from the four-to-the-floor deephouse sound Heard co-created in the mid-to-late eighties to dive deeper into the more introverted sound he started experimenting with on ’Introduction’ as Mr. Fingers.

There are only three four-to-the-floor house tracks here (albeit of the usual super high-end quality), the rest of the album consisting of blissed-out downtempo sceneries (not songs!) that could be considered lounge avant-la-lettre, but not in the sense of the dull and lazy sort of music that died out in the early 2000’s - Heard’s downtempo excursions are exquisitely detailed, beautifully sensitive and emotionally charged.

Despite being decisively downtempo, sceneries like ’Tahiti Dusk’ and ’Summertime Breeze’ (a veritable chill-out classic) easily rank among his best work, balancing a timeless melancholic Heard-specific longing with flawless production values. A dreamlike sound that transcends the trappings of everyday life and music, perfect for escaping the uncertain times we live in right now, making ’Sceneries Not Songs Volume One’ a strong contender for Reissue of the Year (RO). ⁣

V/A - New Horizons (Afrosynth)

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Here’s a record that’s been long overdue - Afrosynth’s ‘New Horizons’, a compilation of contemporary South-African jazz sounds - the very first of its kind.

In case you’ve been living under a rock for much longer than COVID-19 has lasted so far: it’s an exciting time to be alive for jazz enthusiasts, with incredible streams of forward-thinking jazz emerging from all sorts of places, South-Africa being one of the most notable.

Compiled by Mabuta bass player and allround creative force Shane Cooper (check out Mabuta’s 2018 masterpiece ‘Welcome to this World’ if you haven’t already) and Afrosynth labelhead Okapi, ‘New Horizons’ (not to be confused with the recent Bristol jazz comp of the same name) offers a perfect glimpse into the thriving local scenes in all assorted flavors.

Kyle Shepherd’s beautifully striking first chords on opener ‘Evolution part 2’ by the Benjamin Jephta Quintet alone should be enough to warrant the purchase of this veritable treasure box - even before the mindblowing trumpet an sax kick in.

Shepherd’s inspired piano playing is also key on the soul-stirring ‘Dream State’, the kind of instant classic that makes you stop in your tracks immediately, regardless of what you’re doing. It’s followed by Lwanda Gogwana’s pleasantly upbeat ‘Maqundeni’ and the extraterrestrial spirit chasing of Siya Makuzeni’s haunting ‘Out of this World’.

Other highlights on this impeccable double album compilation include the contemporary postbop sounds of Bokani Dyer’s ‘Fezile’, Vuma Levin’s short and square ‘Hashtag’, The spaced-out jazz psychedelics of Reza Khota’s ‘Lost in a Place’ and Zoë Modiga’s afro-Brazilian flavored London jazz-inspired ‘The Healer’, but I assure you there are no weak moments to be found here. ‘New Horizons’ offers a unique window into a world that’s waiting to be discovered by all. (RO) ⁣

OCEANIC & GREETJE BIJMA - SWALLOW A PARTY (YEYEH)

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Make sure you don’t sleep on one of the most interesting projects of the year - the unlikely collaboration of young electronic music maverick Oceanic (not to be confused with the cheesy UK eurohouse outfit of the same name) and Dutch free jazz improvisation diva Greetje Bijma.

Oceanic, who recorded for Nous'klaer, Bakk and De Nieuw (the Rush Hour bestseller ‘Live at De School’) met the awarded avantgarde vocalist who is best known for her work with groundbreaking artists like Jasper van ‘t Hof, Willem Breuker, Louis Andriessen and Han Bennink by chance and decided to pop the question straight away.

A bold move that resulted in an album that sounds great on paper, but even better on vinyl. It’s a combination we would never have thought of, but works out even better than expected.

Starting off with the understated title track, Bijma is quick to bend her vocal chords towards the unexpected, switching from conventional singing to indecipherable throat tones and strangely pitched operatic notes and back in a matter of seconds.

Things get even more interesting when Bijma’s vocal utterings are used as a more rhythmic companion to Oceanic’s more dancefloor-oriented backdrops. Quirky scats are woven into hypnotic patterns on the Stingray-inspired broken electro stepper ‘Step Snakes’ and ritualistic utterings, animalistic howls and operatic notes dance around in a frenzy on the housey ‘Never Done’.

Short vocal snippets are cut and flipped to match the breakneck speed of the neurotic ‘Technicolour Memories’, with Oceanic and Bijma moving into minimal music territory on ‘Mist and Tide’ and postmodern classical on ‘A Window Drifting’, resulting in a bold and freeflowing album that’s certainly not for everyone, but a feast for the open-minded (Ro). ⁣

FURTHER REDUCTIONS - ARRAY (KNEKELHUIS)

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Three years ago Knekelhuis released 'Disparate Elements', an EP that quickly became somewhat of a Rush Hour staple. The Brooklyn duo's second EP for the Amsterdam powerhouse imprint was worth the three year wait.

'Array' perfectly balances Shawn O' Sullivan's love for clunky beats and hypnotically atmospheric textures with Katie Rose's (dream)pop sensibility, resulting in a hazy yet infectious work of pure bliss that gets more extraverted by the track.

The aptly titled 'Dense as Smoke' opens the Array EP in a sultry cloud of mist - a sonic fata morgana that has Rose reciting dreamlike poetry hiding somewhere behind an atmospheric thousand and one nights backdrop.

The sound opens up a bit more on the hypnotic title track, a slowly rotating thumper with spaced-out shoegaze vocals, before the tempo and mood pick up on 'Only in my Mind', that sounds like a drugged-out after hours take on a forgotten Gesloten Cirkel track.

The duo closes this great EP in style with the addictive 'More Than Just a Dream', a lingering earworm with stuttering Blue Monday-beats, droney bleeps and nagging synth loops that pull you in whether you like it or not. Another great EP by Further Reductions and a great addition to the ever expanding Knekelhuis catalog (RO).


DYLAN HENNER - THE INVENTION OF THE HUMAN (AD 93)

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Very little is known about Dylan Henner, who appeared on the ambient scene last year with cassette- and digi-only releases for Brighton-based Phantom Limb and Belgian label Dauw and now makes his debut for the label formerly known as Whities.

Henner is not to keen on promoting himself on socials, instead choosing to communicate mostly through wondrously imaginative soundscapes and disarmingly poetic song titles (’The Sun Made the Sea Look Gold’, ’Marie Fell Asleep Witn Her Shoes On’, ’A Spring With The Remains Of A Fire’) and dito visual artwork.

Henner’s first full vinyl longplayer ’The Invention of the Human’ attempts to tackle a set of basic philosophical questions - what exactly makes us human? What good is civilisation when there’s so much misery attached to it? How will technology affect humanity in the long run? - through the mind and soundcard of a computer.

The result is a collection of superbly constructed human-not-human soundscapes built from synthesized vocals that are morphed into two pocket symphonies, with moods ranging from serene and cerebral to alienated and desolate, referencing classic Japanese ambient and more recent Visible Cloaks material.

‘The invention of the Human’ is a bleak vision of a future in which humans are only a small part of the equation. A new world that’s neither utopic or dystopic, with nature and technology in a strange yet perfect balance (RO).

JON HASSELLL - SEEING THROUGH SOUND (PENTIMENTO VOLUME 2) (NDEYA)

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Earlier this year ambient pioneer Brian Eno wrote a note on behalf of fellow innovator Jon Hassell, who had ‘fallen on hard times due to long-term health issues’, setting up a GoFundMe page in order to ‘obtain a ‘safe and sustainable living situation’ (you can check it out and donate here: https://gf.me/u/yjru8n).

In his letter Eno, who worked with him on his monumental breakthrough album ‘Fourth World Vol. 1 - Possible Musics’ calls Hassell ‘one of the most influential composers of the last 50 years’. ‘His invention of what he called ‘4th World Music’ opened the way for a fresh look at, and deeper respect for, the music of other cultures around the world. His recordings have had a big impact on other musicians, and, through them, have changed musical tastes dramatically.’

At 83 (!) his innovative spirit and desire to push musical boundaries is still what makes Hassell a unique force, creating one-of-a-kind material like 2018’s stunning ‘Listening to Pictures’ (the first part of Pentimento) and his beautiful new album ‘Seeing Through Sound’ (the second part). No small feat, considering his fragile health and the fact that he’s been composing groundbreaking music since the early seventies, working with anyone from David Sylvian to Talking Heads.

‘Seeing Through Sound’ has Hassell once again exploring new pathways through a vast forest of both worldly and otherworldly soundscapes, moods and spheres. The characteristic sound of his modified trumpet is both strangely familiar and distinctly out of this world on this exceptional album that uses elements of ambient, dub, minimal music, sound manipulation, electronica, world music (for lack of a better term) and jazz to create a parallel dimension that makes total sense in Hassell’s universe - a Fourth World that’s only accessible to those who are truely willing to listen.

HIROSHI YOSHIMURA - GREEN (LIGHT IN THE ATTIC)

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Ever since the first copies of the reissue of Hiroshi Yoshimura’s ‘Music for Nine Post Cards’ hit the shelves of our store in 2017, it has been a certified Rush Hour store staple. An album of staggering beauty, it has become one of the most loved and best sold ambient albums in Rush Hour history. And for good reason.

‘Green’ was released in 1986, almost four years after ‘Music For Nine Post Cards’, and has been a cult classic since. Although it went largely unnoticed outside Japan for decades it has become one of the most sought after Japanese ambient albums in recent years, a clean original copy going for a neat six hundred euros on any given day.

Yoshimura, who died of cancer in 2003, was a true polymath; a composer, designer, historian and architect pushing the boundaries between sound, construction and art while composing music for exhibitions, installations, fashion shows and subways. Music that was always as functional as is was beautiful. Not art for the sake of art, but art for the sake of beauty.

It’s a philosophy that’s best demonstrated by the breathtaking title track,. Based around a simple electro-acoustic melody. It has Yoshimura cracking the code for composing the perfect amalgam of synthetic and organic sound, caught in a deceptively effortless composition.

While the title track alone should be enough to justify the purchase of this stunning album, there are no weak moments on this meticulously produced work of pure beauty. Could this be the best reissue of the year?

FABIANO DO NASCIMENTO - PRELUDIO (NOW AGAIN)

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‘Prelúdio’ is the third album by Fabiano Do Nascimento, the virtuoso Brazilian guitarist who traded in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo for L.A. to become one of the most sought after players of the Brazilian musical diaspora.

Three years after ‘Tempo dos Mestres’ - somewhat of a Rush Hour store classic - Do Nascimento returns to Los Angeles powerhouse imprint Now Again with another perfectly executed and meticulously produced masterpiece that’s rooted in the classic bossa nova tradition of the sixties and seventies, with some extra samba, MPB and tropicalia influences thrown in for good measure, playing like a modern day Baden Powell without the extra cheese.

Baden Powell, Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes are the most obvious influences here (just check out the stylistic similarities between the opening track and the classic ‘Berimbau’), as is the breezy melodic approach of the unsurpassable Edu Lobo.

Do Nascimento’s virtuosity is most apparent on fast-paced compositions like ‘Partiu’ and ‘Trem-Bala’, but he never lets his incredibly skilled playing get in the way of the sensitivity of his work, the same way he makes sure his elegance doesn’t turn his compositions into light music - A risk that’s always there when playing largely instrumental bossa-based music.

‘Prelúdio’’s timing couldn’t have been better either - it’s presented just in time for those long hot late summer nights (to prove my point: this was written on an all but deserted beach under the last rays of the blistering Portuguese sun). Now excuse me while I go get another caipirinha.

LARS BARTKUHN - LOST TRACKS VOL. 2 (NEEDS)

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Ever since his first releases as part of the Needs (Not Wants) collective (with his older brother Marek and DJ Yannick) Lars Bartkuhn has been one of the brightest lights in the international deephouse scene, but simply calling his music ‘deephouse’ wouldn’t do him any justice.

A multi-instrumentalist by ear and a jazzcat by heart, Bartkuhn always infuses his house compositions with enough musicality to stand out from the crowd of modern deephouse producers - broken beat, jazz, funk, fusion, ambient influences, it’s all in there somewhere without ever sounding contrived or passé. Bartkuhn has a natural gift for natural sound setting him apart from the rest.

On ‘Lost Tracks Part 2’ (the follow-up to 2003’s first part that was just credited to ‘Needs’) he delves deep into the archives to come up with a beautifully sultry house scenery that easily ranks among his best work to date - warm pads, swirling melodies and hypnotic percussion sounding like a sunlit ride to a secret beach on a remote island somewhere. Beautiful, timeless stuff.

Sultriness is also key on ‘The Chase’, a bouncy but smooth broken house fusion affair with freaky seventies-inspired jazzfunk keys, funky wah wah licks and a driving nu jazz groove.

Don’t be misled by the title of this EP - ‘Lost Tracks 2’ is nothing but premium material.

BELIZ – MEMOIRES (BEAUMONDE)

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Memoires by Beliz already came in a few weeks ago, but it was on such heavy rotation at the store it would be unfair to not let you know about this great record, especially since it turned out to be somewhat of a grower.⁣⁣

⁣ Hailing from the beautiful island of Guadeloupe (or archipelago, to be exact), it is centered around the sounds of percussionist extraordinaire Olivier Maurières, Edmony Krater, former member of Gwakasonné and much loved around here for his albums ‘Tijan Pou Velo’ (with Zepiss) and ‘An Ka Sonjé’ and the serene and compelling harp sounds of Anne Bacqueyrisse. Recorded over ten years ago, It’s an unlikely meeting of the minds that sounds both completely natural and fresh.⁣⁣

⁣⁣ Opener ‘Gwadloup’ (a largely acoustic version of an earlier Edmony Krater et Zepiss track) has become something of a store mantra over the last weeks. A trance-like modern gwo ka composition that is seized halfway by Bacqueyrisse, slowly building her harp patterns from a gentle breeze to a sweeping tropical whirlwind. A recipe that is repeated on uptempo tracks ‘Mazunga’ and ‘Natibel’. ⁣⁣

⁣⁣ The title track ‘Memoires’ is another favorite here - a timelessly melancholic and slowly swirling folk song evoking ancient memories. It has a serene and uplifting vibe similar to that on the exceptional ‘Metamorphoses’, that is highlighted by Bacqueyrisse’s beautifully transcendental melodic patterns.⁣⁣

⁣⁣ ‘Arawak E Karayib’ is a tribute to the native West-Indian people that has Krater reciting his poetry to a powerful grounation-style rhythm to great effect before getting into a meditative state with closing tracks ‘Armelance’ and ‘Nou La’, concluding an album of pure bliss - a perfect companion for advanced mind travelling.

ANGEL BAT DAWID - TRANSITION EAST⁣ (INTERNATIONAL ANTHEM RECORDING COMPANY)

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If you haven’t heard of her before, now is the time to start paying attention to Angel Bat Dawid, the Chicago composer, clarinetist, singer, multi-instrumentalist and spiritual jazz whirlwind that debuted with ‘The Oracle’ on International Anthem last year - a stunning album she created entirely by herself performing, overdubbing and mixing all instruments and recording the stellar results on a mere Iphone. A rare work of limitless free flowing creativity that deserves a much wider audience.⁣

⁣ Bat Dawid’s latest effort was created in response to Emma Warren's 2019 book ‘Make Some Space’, that chronicles the history of London DIY music institution Total Refreshment Centre. The wondrous three-and-a-half minute workout was composed and recorded alone in her space on the Southside of Chicago and named ‘Transition East’ in commemoration of the legendary Chicago community center that was a hub for the AACM and icons from the Black Arts Movement in the 1960s. Centered around a rambling yet insistent rhythm box it has Bat David playing her imaginative melodies proudly looking East in the finest Yusef Lateef-tradition.⁣

⁣ ‘No Space Fo Us’ was recorded in Salvador de Bahia with fellow Chicagoans Ben LaMar Gay and Damon Locks and Brazilian artists Edbrass Brasil, Romulo Alexis, Tadeu Mascarenhas, Nancy Viégas and Germano Estacio. It’s based around a repetitive minimal music-inspired piano pattern somewhere halfway between John Cage, Philip Glass and Sun Ra with Angel ripping on clarinet sounding like she’s chasing a ghost on this haunting composition. ⁣

⁣ Take it from us - you owe it to yourself to tune in to these cosmic vibrations or you’ll be missing out. Be sure to also check out the healing frequencies of Bat Dawid’s 2019 album ‘The Oracle’ if you haven’t already and prepare to be blown away completely.

UPSAMMY – ZOOM (DEKMANTEL)

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Ever since her early contributions to Whities, Nous'klaer and Die Orakel in 2018 Upsammy (real name Thessa Torsing) has been regarded as one of the biggest promises of Dutch electronic music, carving out a sound that's quite unlike anything else out there at the moment. With 'Zoom' she's keeping that promise and more.

Opener 'Melt in My Heated Hands' has Upsammy sculpting an otherworldly dream forest echoing both early Black Dog productions and Arca's work on Björk's 2017 masterpiece 'Utopia' before moving firmly into nineties braindance territory with 'Growing Out of the Plastic Box' and the expertly fragmented polyrhythmic 'It Drips', that sounds like early Squarepusher abducted by friendly aliens.

Side B of this well-balanced double album ventures even deeper into the brightly coloured soundscapes of nineties UK IDM (think of an updated DIY version of Bola and Black Dog’s side project Plaid, with darker traces of Autechre thrown in for good measure), but somehow Torsing always manages to sound like herself. She does get all Aphexy on 'Overflowering' (check out the similarities with 'Fingerbib', one of the key tracks featured on the classic 'Richard D. James' album), but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

The three closing tracks on 'Zoom' seem to hint at future directions for Upsammy, veering towards a faster and more bass-heavy sound that sits somewhere in between the hectic stumble sounds of modern-day Squarepusher and the advanced sound design of Four Tet and Floating Points' most recent albums, all underlined with a clearly written Upsammy signature, sounding more handcrafted than your average.

‘Zoom’ is a double dose of picture perfect headphone isolation music and one of best albums we've heard this year so far. ⁣

LCSM (LIKWID CONTINUAL SPACE MOTION) – EARTHBOUND (SUPER-SONIC JAZZ)

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If you visited the store this last week, chances are you walked in to the sounds of IG Culture’s new LCSM (Likwid Continual Space Motion) project, which has been on heavy rotation for a few days now.⁣

We’ve been IG Culture fans since the inception of Rush Hour, but since the UK broken beat don has always operated on an exceptionally high level it’s hard to see how he’d be able to take his sound to the next after thirty years in the game. With ‘Earthbound’ he’s done just that. ⁣

Originally conceived as a score for the accompanying science fiction theatre production that goes by the same name, this rare work of art is based on the work of author Zecharia Sitchin, who translated ancient Sumerian tablets that explain the origins of humans. The story revolves around the ancient people of Nibiru who return to earth, only to discover that the humans they had once passed down their knowledge are now living in a world of chaos. A tale that couldn’t be more timely for the world we live in today.⁣

The resulting album is a steaming concoction of grade A broken beat (or London bruk boogie, as the man himself calls it) and post-space age jazz with subtle traces of UK garage and Detroit house that seem to have seeped into the boiling pot. The storming ‘The Box’ is a firm favorite here, but each and every one of the eighteen tracks on this triple album is a trip. The fast-paced and fittingly titled ‘World Order is Chaos’ for instance, a fierce jazzstepper that’s propelled forward by a frantic sax and zooming keys. ‘Weapon X’, ‘Ma’at Life’ and the title track are roughly made of the same cloth - insistent, hypnotic dancefloor stormers that keep on moving forward relentlessly without ever dropping the pace. Bustling organic energy is key on this stunning piece of work that will no doubt prove a strong contender for the Album of the Year lists. Great artwork by Machine too! ⁣

PLAFOND 06 - CUCINA POVERA & HARON (BAKK)⁣

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Plafond 06 is the long-awaited follow-up to Haron’s 2018 tour de force ‘Wandelaar’, a largely piano-centered modern classical ambient album that appeared in a whole bunch of end-of-year lists that year. For his new project on Bakk Haron enlisted the talents of Finnish-Glaswegian artist Cucina Povera (make sure to check out her totally awesome 2018 album ‘Hilja’ and the more recent ‘Zoom’ and ‘Tyyni’ if you have the chance), whose ethereal experimental vocals add a new dimension to Haron’s exquisite soundscapes. ⁣

⁣ By trading in the piano that was a dominant factor on ‘Wandelaar’ for a more organ-based sound, Haron is directing his artistic vision into new directions to great effect. Opener ‘Riffittelyä 1’ starts out as an esoteric dreampop lullaby that morphs into an abstract sound collage slowly giving way to the eerily quiet poetry of second and third parts with its ominous cinematic strings. The last part of ‘Riffittelyä’ may well be closest to a song in the traditional sense of the word - a melancholic and slowly meandering sound saga with vocal experimentation in the finest Enya/Elisabeth Fraser-tradition with a DIY-twist, underpinned by a heavy yet crystal clear church organ. The instrumental ‘Maandag, Spiegeldag’ (‘Monday, Mirror Day’) is the most introverted piece here. It’s an emotionally charged ambient piece that leaves plenty of room for reflection. Povera experiments with ancient Northern song structures and vocal drone on closer ‘Ajatus’ by layering harmonies and melodies to mesmerizing effect. It’s the perfect finale to this wondrous and wonderfully adventurous miracle music mini album that can turn from ominous to pretty in a matter of seconds at any time without ever losing its unique charm ⁣

RECORD OF THE WEEK - CE ES MUSIC - JORDAN ZAWIDEH (NO 'LABEL')

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Less than a minute into the first track of 'Ce Es Music', Jordan Zawideh slams a relentless loop of a chopped lo-fi vocal sample: a jacking "House Me!". That sample will linger, distorted and reassembled, throughout this double-pack, freshly released on the consistently unpredictable No 'Label'. Zawideh channels the raw and ardent machine rhythms of classic early Chicago house era. Interspersed literal and hypnotically repetitive short vocal loops recall the Muzique crew's edgier iterations of this classic sound. It's a relatively straightforward idea, but one that's meticulously executed with such an individual touch to shape classic tropes into refreshing and unorthodox sonic forms.

Jordan Zawideh's music reflects, in a way, his personal migration from native Detroit to the birthplace and spiritual Mecca of house music, Chicago. Witnessing the warehouse party scene in Detroit from the early to the late Nineties, Zawideh relocated to Chi-town in his 20s: a stalwart presence as a DJ and producer for almost two decades, you could have also found him behind the counter of Kstarke Records (the city's legendary record shop and label). It should come as little surprise that his sonic output is deeply rooted into the rich music heritage of both these cities. His previous material released on Kstarke, Nation and Detroit's Interdimensional Transmissions shares an appreciation and genuine love for the raw power of the cassette era of Chicago house. Twisted acid, slamming Jakbeat and an encompassing DIY warehouse vibe, make this sound highly compatible with output from fellow artists such as Traxx, JTC, Deecoy, Hieroglyphic Being and Beau Wanzer.

Most of the tracks on 'Ce Es Music' are dancefloor demolishers: from the acid-leaning, percussive 'Work Delay' and 'I'm Busy', to 'House Me', 'Music Music', 'In A Dream', where chopped vocal loops establish busy rhythmic patterns, repeating sound is bruised into new forms, or is sliced up into further percussion. The DJ tools that are included stand alone too. 'House Me Accapella' & 'Oscillator Accapella' are radical lo-fi reassemblies of voice and drum samples - at times expanded or contracted past breaking point that find new and danceable senses in the phonemes.

It might sound trite when describing a record that falls into the 'dance music' category, but these are tunes that will quicken your pulse and stir your body into a cathartic dance. Dancing like nobody's watching. Whether in a club or, more likely given the time of it's release...your own living room.

Jordan Zawideh's latest release proves that you can push musical boundaries while staying true to the roots of an established music tradition. A testament to the continued vitality of the Chicago house sound, it reveals its endless potential. As D. Morris puts it in Frieze mag, "the experience of something constantly reconfigured from within its own constraints is what makes such scenes so vital and exciting."

CE ES Music was recorded in Chicago, 2019. Ltd Edition Double Pack. Artwork By Cosmo Knex

( Ivana H.) ⁣

RECORD OF THE WEEK 16 - TWYLYTE '81 - THE FIRST COMING ⁣

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Here's another record we've been playing a lot in the store lately: Favorite's impeccable reissue of Twylyte '81's 'The First Coming', a⁣⁣ criminally overlooked and notoriously hard to find soul jazz album that sank without a trace almost directly upon release, but sounds more beautiful than ever almost forty years later. Led by the honey-voiced Frank Jones Jr, whose voice sits somewhere between Jon Lucien and Leon Thomas sans acrobatics, the trio only released one record that sounds wonderfully accomplished considering the three were all only around 18 at the time. From the first bass notes of opener 'Like a Ferris Wheel' you know you're in for something special. 'Ferris Wheel' is a deep and spiritually charged soul jazz statement that echoes the warm and folky⁣⁣ sound of Terry Callier, an influence that can also be heard on the slow and compelling 'Chance To Love' that's carried by John Belzaguy's plucky bass guitar and session player LeeAnn Ledgerwood's beautifully lyric⁣⁣ piano. 'A Dreamer' is the centerpiece of this album. Ledgerwood absolutely kills it with her hypnotic piano patterns creating the⁣⁣ perfect backdrop for Belzaguy to go all out on bass in the elongated instrumental part of the song before the whole thing suddenly drops into a breakfest deluxe (get your samplers out, everyone!).⁣⁣

⁣⁣ The jury is still out on 'The Love We Lost', a brave but ill-advised organic attempt to attack high energy disco that nonetheless has its moments. The disco experiment works better on 'Time', but 'Some Go Up'⁣⁣ makes it clear that the trio is at its best when they reach for a higher spiritual plane. That doesn't mean the tempo has to be low though; the dazzling jazzdance stepper 'Can I Change' proves they have the capability to shine bright at any tempo, as long as they refrain from attempting to go full disco. Just to be clear: the disco discussion doesn't take anything away from this fantastic album that easily ranks among the best reissues we've heard this year (RO).⁣⁣ ⁣

RECORD OF THE WEEK 15 - KNXWLEDGE - 1988 (STONES THROW) ⁣

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Knxwledge has always been one of our favorite hiphop producers of the post-Dilla era. We all love his beat tapes here and ‘Hud Dreams’, his 2015 debut album for Stones Throw, is nothing short of a Rush Hour store classic.

Personally I may have taken it a bit too far with the Knxwledge love though - in the months after the Anderson Paak collabo NxWorries came out (an album that arguably features Paak’s best work to date and that’s saying something) I played it in the store so much I was repeatedly asked to please put on something else for god’s sake by my esteemed colleagues - something known here as the Quasimoto-effect. Apparently you can have to much of a good thing.

‘1988’ is only his second proper solo album for Stones Throw, but that doesn’t mean he’s been taking it easy recently. It’s been raining digital Knxwledge albums, EP’s and tracks on Bandcamp for years now, but he’s clearly been saving up some of his best beats for this one.

‘1988’ (the title referencing to Knxw’s year of birth) still has the character of one of his many beat tapes, morphing 22 tracks into a thrilling 38 minute collage of slick grooves and blissed out loops borrowed from seventies symphonic soul, bouncy boogie, jazzy modern soul and syropy swingbeat, interspersed with clever samples and spot-on vocal appearances. Sultry and understatedly funky, it’s the perfect companion for comfy home listening - and we need way more of those right now (RO). ⁣

RECORD OF THE WEEK 14 - JAMIE 3​:​26 PRESENTS A TASTE OF CHICAGO ⁣

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It's one of the coolest comps out there right now: BBE's 'A Taste of Chicago', lovingly compiled by extended Rush Hour family member Jamie 3:26, the broad smiled Windy City veteran who's been dominating dancefloors for decades with a potent mix of raw Chicago house, bold disco, heavy funk and whatever else works to whip the crowd into a frenzy. On 'A Taste of Chicago' he shares some of his secret dancefloor weapons in the form of personalized edits and reworks of both timeless classics and lesser known floorburners, opening with a track that falls firmly into the latter category, an edit of one of Chicago's best kept secrets, BSTC's highly percussive 'Venus & Mars'. It's followed by one of Jamie's biggest crowdpleasers, the crazed out scat track that is 'The Lesson' by Mighty Science. Jamie moves into classic Chicago house territory with his rendition of Jungle Wonz' deephouse anthem 'The Jungle' and Quest's equally anthemic 'Mind Games' only to crank it up another notch with the high energy handclapping house of Braxton Holmes' 'Stomps & Shouts'. Proceedings slow down a bit on Chip E's mechanic 1985 house banger 'It's House', before Jamie goes all out on his version of raunchy New Jersey funk outfit Calendar's 1976 monster 'Comin' on Strong'. Anything goes with Jamie, as long as it's funky and lights up the dancefloor - It's that Chicago attitude that makes this compilation for BBE such a strong one (RO).⁣ ⁣ ⁣

RECORD OF THE WEEK 10 - LEISURE CONNECTION - R=A+7=6 (R=A)

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A pair of high voltage fairy-tales from the ever psychedelic Leisure Connection crew.

Leisure Connection is a side project of Rahdunes, a band comprising of Aaron Coyes (50% of Peaking Lights) and his long time friend and partner in noise, Nate Archer. The band carved out their sound jamming endlessly for days on homemade equipment and have colourful history together - back in the early 2000s they would turn up at underground parties with tons of electronic gear, load in like they were booked and just start playing. They also performed live on cult US cable TV show 'Lets Paint TV' (youtube that!). The L.C. guise came seemingly out of nowhere in 2013, when the duo dropped two highly original percussive pounders on their, now classic, No 'Label' 12". Aside from a few remixes that followed, no new material surfaced for a long time. That was until a year or so ago when they announced completion of the soundtrack to an obscure indie movie by L.A. by artists, the Haas Brothers. No release was initially planned, but now two pieces from the OST have found their way to this cracking 7" vinyl release.

The tracks have twists and turns aplenty along the way, with the studio sounding gloriously badly wired and sparking. March of the Imbecile is indeed pretty stupid.... stupidly pretty that is. It's a fantastical and aptly cinematic ride through immersive harmonies and gorgeous tape bent melodies that are underpinned with a solid, plodding old school drumbox. Worries go on hold during this the duration of this one. Every spin. Over on the flip, Love from the Astroplane begins with an obscure, synthetic, field recording like scene, then takes a stark dive into thundering psychedelic tribal realms. There's a wild atmosphere on this one, like a vivid scene from Jodorowsky or Kenneth Anger movie.

This record is a good example of how some things just really work on a 7". R=A are channeling their love of the format - putting out nuggets from the electronic sphere, involving Beau Wanzer, Robert Bergman, Tribe Of Colin, Jamal Moss & Black Deer to name a few. Check them out.

( Ivana H.) ⁣

RECORD OF THE WEEK 9 - AUX 88 - COUNTERPARTS⁣ (DIRECT BEAT CLASSICS)⁣

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At Rush Hour we have a few artists we would follow to the end of the earth and beyond. Aux 88 is one of them. The Detroit electro legends’ new album ‘Counterparts’ has been awaited here with bated breath, so we are delighted to dedicate this week’s ROTW to them. ⁣

⁣ ‘Counterparts’ is a yet another masterpiece of topnotch timeless retrofuturism by Keith Tucker & co. The double LP starts with a Kraftwerky vibe that crescendoes into classic Detroit techno. You Don’t Want None Of This warns listeners with the title before launching into a futuristic instant electro classic. The vocals maintain that almost robotic feel that Aux 88 is renowned for. It’s a definite club shaker. Moon Walker experiments with leftfield electronics, creating a bassline few artists can pull off to this standard. Electro In The Key Of Funk is slightly slower, again maintaining the classic electro sound in an electronic undulation of wonderfulness. ⁣

⁣ There is an almost computer game feel to Pothole Paradise. The track is fast, funky and melodic with its long synths, paying homage to the Detroit jitters. Manic sounds just that - manic. It has an incredibly heavy-hitting bass and is hectic but mystical, nodding to space like sounds that are consistent through the album. Personally, this is my favourite, it draws out everything I love about electro, a heavy but surreal vibe. The message that this album is futurist and space-like has been pushed enough, but no track encapsulates that like My Electro Visions Acapella. It takes a step away from the heavier sounding tracks, relying on distorted vocals and lyrical genius to create another Aux 88 classic. My other favourite track from this album is undoubtedly Stereolized, it captures the repetitive harsh-sounding yet playful tones that have always been a given in their earlier work. The final track My Electro Vision is intense with an almost B-Boy beat and again, elements of Kraftwerk with an added Detroit spice. It concludes an album that easily lives up to expectations and is absolutely essential for anyone who has even a mild interest in Detroit electro. (KAT)

RECORD OF THE WEEK 8- PRISCILLA ERMEL - ORIGENS DA LUZ (MUSIC FROM MEMORY)⁣

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Brazilian composer and multi-instrumentalist Priscilla Ermel has been long-loved by Music From Memory, and this LP, “Origens Da Luz”, is utterly Brazilian, with influences from all around the world, resulting in an ethereal and relentlessly beautiful concoction of fifteen tracks that each encapsulate the nomadic question: where is the line that separates and defines global sounds? Priscilla blurs it entirely.⁣

⁣ Luar is the first track, opening with an eerily stunning classical melody that sets the scene of a romantic summer evening, bird sounds to boot. Martim Pescador is both calming and chaotic, with clunky offbeat percussion, it is both unique and borderless. Campo Des Sonhos encapsulates an almost Studio Ghibliesque tone and immediately makes everything feel slightly more exciting in a melancholic animated way. Origens Da Luz is hypnotic, the instruments combined with haunting voices create an unusual atmosphere and appear to draw on Priscilla’s anthropological roots. Meditaçâo is calm, melodic and classically Brazilian in its tone and delivery. Americua is upbeat and really shows how Priscilla’s music opens up a mystical space. Cine Mato Gráfico integrates a slow pace, merging and connecting a multitude of cultures simultaneously. The intense echoing slowness of Cristal De Fogo is simple yet effective, it underlines the point where ancient and modern music evolves into a new language. ⁣⁣

⁣ Sete Quedas highlight’s Priscilla’s flawless vocals once again, the track is layered and tells a story of its own. Following on from this, the dramatic and heavy hollow tones of Corpo Do Vento have an almost warlike drum beat, with whining melodies and a wobbling mouth harp that creates an incredibly beautiful tribal feel. It is 15 minutes long and in that time, we are taken to... (read more via link below or in bio) (KAT)⁣ ⁣


Record of the week 7- THANASIS ZLATANOS - A RETROSPECTIVE ( OSÀRE! EDITIONS)

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Elena Colombi created the label Osàre! Editions in 2019 to shine a light on daring and future-facing artists “rooted in free-spirited musical abandon”. Her releases are deeply thought through and represent a unique and refreshing approach to music, therefore it isn’t surprising that “A Retrospective” by Thanasis Zlatanos has caught our eye for Record Of The Week. This compilation album has been prepared by Elena and Zlatanos, pulling tracks from his previous work to shine a light on an inventive and imaginative artist who has previously been overlooked. ⁣

⁣ “A Retrospective” links genres while simultaneously obliterating the need for them altogether. Wave, pop, ambient, proto electronic and Macedonian folk music are all heard, but the overall tone is something that certainly cannot be put in a box. The album’s opening track, “Master Chameleon”, has a plinky melody that takes you into a dreamy daze alongside a grounding, darker sounding synth. “Nor The Reflection” is rough around the edges, with effortless wave-style vocals and a Lo-Fi sound. The third track of the album, “Without us” is dramatic and theatrical. The folky voice, over heavy percussion, is suddenly interrupted by a grounding vocal. “Psychedelic Clown” is slightly offbeat, giving a feeling of confusion and slight creepiness, something the title already adheres to. This is one of my personal favourites from the album, it’s weirdness is on a different level and it sounds like nothing I’ve heard before. Time to chill out a bit, with “The Crystal Sight (Excerpt II)”, the ambience is ghostly but calming and beautiful. The next track is titled (and sounds) “Distorted”. It maintains a sereness but in an intrusive way that conjures the image of a weird hymn. ⁣

⁣ The slow-paced, undulating eerieness of "Surreal Moment", blends perfectly into the warping continuum and beautifully quirky lyrics of "No Explanation", which sounds like a trippy pop song for the early hours and is another personal favourite. "The Crystal Sight (Excerpt I)" isn't at all similar to its sibling track. It has more of a new-age electronica feel, with a futuristic, space-like vibe, clinking and plinking into a satisfying abyss. "The Dead Don't Remember" is wonderfully robotic, again with a hymn feel and lyrics that sound like a mantra. "The New Barbarians" is Vocoder-laden, operatic, performative and marvellous. "Macedonian" is heartbreaking. The melody feels hopeful and agonising simultaneously. The album concludes with "The Light", a guitar solo piece that is completed with electronic-effects that make it, like most of the tracks on this album, unlike anything else. Listen to "A Retrospective" in one sitting and you will be taken on a journey into part of your brain that is rarely visited. It is truly a masterpiece, Thanasis Zlatanos and Elena Colombi both deserve praise and left no question in our mind when choosing Record of the week (KAT). ⁣


Record of the week 6- Trenton Chase - Planar Array (Artificial Dance)

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Artificial Dance has released yet another banger of an album, this time from Trenton Chase. As half of Manie Sans Desire and the co-owner of June records, he’s known for his uncompromising sound that touches a wide range of genres. His latest LP, titled “Planar Array” is no different. The release is heavy-hitting with distorted vocals, industrial textures and dagger-like synths. It’s a satisfying array of wave, EBM and experimental music. ⁣

Transit Decay has a consistent clunky bass line and depth at its core. Its tone is hostile, something you can definitely imagine spurring excitement in some smokey dark room at the dead of night. Wind Shear is like riding around in a convertible Chevrolet in the 80s. It’s uptempo and exciting, with drone sounding synths that are simultaneously melodic and chaotic. Narked is defined by its aggressive electronics. The kick is consistent and angry, with distorted vocals scattered here and there, giving it an unusually uncomfortable vibe. ⁣

The title track Planar Array deserves an extra bit of attention, it stands out. It merges the classic tones of wave, EBM and experimental all at the same time. It’s melodic high synths compliment the almost calming vocals in the intro; it will be a popular one out and about this spring. Anamnesis is probably the most cheerful track of the album. It maintains the heaviness that runs through the LP, but is full of melodic, positive synths. Rto again has a slightly lighter, more synthy sound, however its harmony is less bouncy and more minor. Doppler Shift is dreamy. It’s clunky and offbeat, with a weird metronome feel that has you bobbing your head very slowly. The result is an excellent album that gets progressively more destructive. It really deserves its title as this week's Record of The Week. (Kat)⁣


Record of the week 5 - V/A - America Invertida (Vampisoul)


Let’s face it. Especially this last decade so many new archival compilations were thrown at the record buying public (which is ultimately a good thing - don’t get us wrong - there’s always room for more music) that by now it’s virtually impossible to still come up with something new or cover new ground. The infamous Vampisoul imprint has done just that with ‘America Invertida’, an essential collection of rare Uruguayan music from the eighties.

While the music of larger neighbouring countries like Brazil and (to a lesser degree) Argentina has been documented extensively, there has always been a shortage of good Uruguayian music on the market, even though we knew it was out there somewhere. That’s what makes ‘America Invertida’ a true treasure chest with glistering diamonds and other precious gems that have been hiding under the surface for decades.

Opener ‘Desencanto’ sets the tone perfectly, starting out as an ethereal folky groover that slowly moves further into bossa territory. It’s followed by the stunning ‘Tras Tus Ojos’ by Estela Magnone and Jaime Roos - a beautifully intricate and wonderfully groovy slowstepper with breathtaking ethereal shoegaze-avant-la-lettre vocals (think Slowdive and Lush five years before they even existed). A song so beautiful it would be worth getting the album for alone, but there are no weak moments on this stellar comp. Things get a bit more psychedelic with ‘De Los Relojeros’ and ‘Kabumba’ before the unmistakingly eighties smoothness kicks in on the B-side with ‘Llamada Insolita’ and ‘Y el Tiempo Pasa’. Another undisputed highlight is the chilling ‘A Ustedes’ by Fernando Cabrera, a menacing minimalist statement that ends in a dark haze of haunting choir vocals. ‘America Invertida’ is an absolutely flawless and amazingly accomplished work of art opening the gate to a beautiful, largely unknown musical landscape that’s waiting to be rediscovered (RO).⁣


Record of the week - Vegyn - Only Diamonds Cut Diamonds (Plz Make It Ruinz)


Vegyn is by no means the new kid on the block. You probably know him as the producer of Frank Ocean’s legendary albums “Endless” and “Blonde”. ROTW is Vegyn’s debut album “Only Diamonds Cut Diamonds”, an incredible piece showing his stand-alone work is set to be as iconic as his collaborations. The album is hard to define to one genre, it has chasms of hip hop, jazz and electronic sounds with an esoteric dream-like edge. What stands out about this is the contrast within the tracks, making the personality of this album multiply the further you listen.

We start with a dreamy futuristic vibe, the track “Blue Verb” is wintery with echoing vocals. These continue into “Nauseous/Devilfish”, in the breaks between verses from JPEGMAFIA. “That Ain’t No Dang Cat!” is a crescendo of hecticness, mellowed out only slightly by the glitchy but slow and melodic “Aspenz”. “Cowboy ALLSTAR” is the track on this album for me, it’s complex, melodic and spicy all at the same time. “Thoughts Of Offing One” again feels more emotional, whereas “Debold” has a broken beat, with abstract breaks and an atmospheric tone. “Fake Life” is beautifully constructed, and really fits into the genre of modern classical music, this contrasts entirely with “I Don't Owe U NYthing”, a more off-kilter hip hop track from the London talent Jeshi. “Fire Like Tyndall” crackles and opens into a slow jam, with trap-like rhythms and distorted vocal recordings. “Unknown, Forever Unknown” again points to modern classical music, the delicate melody is just beautiful, “Retro OTW” is equally as calm and classical, enriched by the beautiful monotone voice singing. “When I Strike” is a mashup of everything mentioned previously; it’s broken beat, melancholic, futuristic and glitchy. “You Owe Me” is another favourite of mine, simultaneously hectic and dramatic and calm. “It’s Nice To Be Alive” lives up to its title, the positive chords shine through. The album finishes with “Blue Verb Reprise”, a fuller version of its opening counterpart with a calming outro. The intensity changes, the style is eclectic, yet within all this Vegyn maintains a consistency of the utmost skill.⁣