Creating cavernous distances between deep percussive hits and her pitch-shifted vocals, “Signal” eventually picks up a steady beat and anxious bass line creating a linear canvas to fold in deep synth lines, crystalline sketches and late-night/early-am chopped-and-screwed vocals that communicate a push-and-pull between surrender to existential dread and the plunge into the desire to ceremonially push it back into the night through ever-cresting thud of the club.


Anchored by two guitars and a free-floating, aching cello, “Sunrise Teracotta” is a twisting and turning, but always linearly ascending statement of patient readiness to take in the beautiful things in life once storm clouds of depression break. Composed around two circling guitars that range from mathy progressions to distorted power chords and a bobbing and weaving cello, To Life creates quiet but stately beauty.


UK based sound artist and composer, Ben Laver is known for slavish attention to the minute. On “Temper” Laver folds in layer after layer of repeated piano line with slightly different textures until, at the song’s fulcrum, electronic percussion and pulls of synth and disembodied voice find their way out of the composition and scrawl themselves across the audio field. The result is disorienting and unforgettable.


Trading the fjords of Sweden for the deep, laid back tunefulness of Laurel Canyon, Sambassadeur perform swelling and swirling pop tunes full of twin guitar-monies (twin guitar harmonies), hazy filtered vocals that are cavity-inducing sweet. It’s a perfect song for lazy humid days and bittersweet recollections of misspent summer afternoons as a child.


Existing somewhere in that liminal space between sleep and awake, the Japanese pianist has created a patient, guiding melody that is heavy on resonance and decay – allowing notes to hang suspended in air for an extra quarter measure before picking up the next phrase. While a relatively short run time, “Jasmine” hangs heavy in the air like the perfume of a flower. Lingering just a few moments longer to make its full impact felt.


On “Slicer”, the Japanese duo craft a twisting and turning tower of composed beats and voices stacked on top and twisting around one another under a skittering beat pattern until reaching a climax of frantic kicks and a keyed up distorted synth lead running riot in the upper register. It’s a composition that barely keeps within the red during its most intense parts – incorporating elements of juke, footwork and downtempo restraint.

NGEGEN - "1"

It’s difficult to piece together much on this German sax, percussion and electronics project. But what we have, in this artifact mysteriously titled “1”, is a conversation between a saxophone improvising furiously in the upper-register, while a percussionist playing light snare and tom and a whole bevy of non-traditional percussive pieces keeps time with the squelching, rumbling, collapsing electronics imbuing this track with even more unease and combustibility.


“Thorn” the lead single from “Thorn Variations” is an arrangement built from the ground up from clapped polyrhythms as the percussive base. From these experiments in technique, Dirt Hand (Arun Roberts) improvises with a loose set of players around these rhythmic lines. Drums, saxophone, bass and guitar circling through and reacting to subtle variations of the very human and occasionally un-syncopated rhythmic core.


Sparse but propulsively rhythmic, “Restart” is built from two intersecting piano lines through various filters tuned to the last bit of afternoon haze giving way to the darker hues of evening. Several semi-improvised lines are woven throughout until caught in the updraft of a sturdy lo-fi beat.  It’s a perfect way to lose a few minutes in or a tool for intense concentration.

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“Don’t Leave It Alone” is a retro-house banger from a genre-shifting, 2019 prescient UK based artist. Riding-steady on a restrained space-disco infused sine wave reigning blood and glitter on the dancefloor, PC-L combines heavily squared synths with a bass-rattling deep house percussion palate strung together by “the Portobello Princesses” breathy come-ons.


This young beatmaker pulls from a deep pool of jazz standards and the fuck-all freeness of a genre-less internet to create a short, woozy beat run that layers stuttering percussive layers over sheets of piano chords fading in and out of time. It’s a nice opening salvo into a promising soundscape.


This Belgian duo have found a sweet spot in creating escalator-ascending synth arpeggios and slightly off-time percussion with just the right amount of augmented vocals before swimming the entire mix into a propulsive throb, snapping the entire track into a hazy, late-night focus. The duo has made their way into the graces of forward thinking electronic producers and a sense of clarity and purposefulness exudes throughout.


For a brief but formative time two bands that Jonathan Ford played in – Pedro the Lion and Roadside Monument – were my entire world. Out of the ashes of those thoughtful – yet mildly controversial – projects Unwed Sailor had moored him to deeper shades of post-rock, math rock, neo-classical and early 00’s instrumental ennui. “Moon Coin” is a bass-heavy post-rock burner recalling muscular riffs of Trans Am or Foxhole with the inherent tunefulness of late-era Mogwai.


Hailing from the Kingdom of Eswatini (FKA Swaziland) this young rapper and producer has created a track that ties together elements of some of the more exciting developments in Hip-Hop and filters them through a fresh ear. Starting with a lo-fi soul and string sample that incorporates a last syllable lilting up on his laid back flow, the track snaps into clear focus with clean kicks and rolling high-hats halfway through the first verse which chronicles an introvert’s incisive observations of relationships and scenes filled with snakes and pitfalls. Highly recommended.

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