Nov152018| November 15, 2018
From soundtracks for air conditioners to stationary shop music.
Light In The Attic has announced the latest instalment in its Japan Archival Series will be released this February on triple vinyl.
Kankyō Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental & New Age Music 1980-1990 collects 25 tracks on 3xLP, many of which are being released outside of Japan for the first time, with tunes by artists including Joe Hisaishi, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Yasuaki Shimizu, Haruomi Hosono and Jun Fukamachi.
“Kankyō Ongaku, which translates to “environmental music,” is an umbrella term used to describe the soundscapes, architectural acoustics, and incidental music that soundtracked the spaces, products, and experiences of 1980s Japan,” explains the label.
The vinyl package includes extensive liner notes, artist bios, an essay by compilation producer Spencer Doran of Visible Cloaks, and a cover photograph by Osamu Murai.
“As this music continues to echo in modern times and resonate with a new generation of listeners, I’m very happy to help present a window into its universe,” shares Doran.
Kankyō Ongaku follows Light in the Attic’s reissues of five Haruomi Hosono albums in September, as well as the compilation Even A Tree Can Shed Tears: Japanese Folk & Rock 1969-1973 – one of our favourite reissues of 2017.
Pre-order a copy here ahead of its February release, listen to Yasuaki Shimizu’s dreamy ode to a printer ‘Seiko 3’ and check out the track list below.
1. Satoshi Ashikawa – Still Space
2. Yoshio Ojima – Glass Chattering
3. Hideki Matsutake – Nemureru Yoru (Karaoke Version)
4. Ayuo Takahashi – Nagareru*
5. Joe Hisaishi – Islander
6. Yoshiaki Ochi – Ear Dreamin’
7. Masashi Kitamura + Phonogenix – Variation・III
8. Interior – Park
9. Yoichiro Yoshikawa – Nube
10. Yoshio Suzuki – Meet Me In The Sheep Meadow
11. Ryuichi Sakamoto – Dolphins*
12. Toshi Tsuchitori – Ishiura (Abridged)
13. Shiho Yabuki – Tomoshibi (abridged)
14. Toshifumi Hinata – Chaconne
15. Yasuaki Shimizu – Seiko 3
16. Inoyama Land – Apple Star
17. Hiroshi Yoshimura – Blink
18. Fumio Miyashita – See the Light (abridged)
19. Akira Ito – Praying For Mother / Earth Part 1
20. Jun Fukamachi – Breathing New Life
21. Takashi Toyoda – Snow
22. Yellow Magic Orchestra – Loom
23. Takashi Kokubo – A Dream Sails Out To Sea – Scene 3
24. Masahiro Sugaya – Umi No Sunatsubu
25. Haruomi Hosono – Original BGM
Oct252018| October 25, 2018
Hear its title track now.
Maestro composer and musician Ryuichi Sakamoto and indie wunderkind (Sandy) Alex G will feature on Love In The Time Of Lexapro, a new EP on Warp Records from Oneohtrix Point Never.
The four-track release features a Sakamoto rework of Age Of track ‘Last Known Image Of A Song’, an acoustic rendition of ‘Babylon’ with (Sandy) Alex G and brand new track ‘Thank God I’m A Country Girl’. Fan favourite title track ‘Love In The Time Of Lexapro’ has been a staple of Oneohtrix Point Never’s recent run of live shows.
The EP follows this year’s exceptional Age Of, as well as singles ‘The Station’ and ‘We’ll Take It’, all of which were released on Warp Records.
This is not the first time Oneohtrix Point Never and Sakamoto’s musical worlds have collided. Last year, OPN contributed a rework of Sakamoto’s ‘Andata’ to his Async – Remodels remix album.
Pre-order a copy of Love In The Time Of Lexapro here ahead of its 23rd November release, check out the Ecco-referencing cover art and track list below.
Sep122018| September 12, 2018
Ryuichi Sakamoto’s BTTB LP will be reissued for the first time – in a new 20th anniversary edition, this November via Milan Records, reports RA.
Read more: An introduction to Ryuichi Sakamoto in 10 records
Originally released in 1998, BTTB, which stands for Back to the Basics, features Sakamoto’s solo piano versions of 18 tracks including Yellow Magic Orchestra number ‘Tong Poo’.
The remastered reissue contains liner notes by famed Japanese author Haruki Murakami, whose forthcoming book Killing Commandante will be released in October.
As Murakami writes in the liner notes: “Personal and intimate music—somebody (an anonymous somebody) sitting alone in front of the school piano early in the morning, weaving a melody, exploring harmonies. Music that gradually fills a space with high ceilings that contains the wafting presence of rain.”
“But music that leaves gaps where necessary. Once in a while, we need music like this and this way of being…no, perhaps all the time. We need it as much as we need hot black coffee at the break of dawn and a cat napping next to us in the afternoon.”
In August, Murakami also hosted his first radio show, where he discussed writing, running and records.
A 2xLP version of BTTB will also be released in 2019.
Listen to ‘energy flow’ ahead of BTTB‘s November release, and check out the track list below.
4. lorenz and watson
5. choral no. 1
6. choral no. 2
7. do bacteria sleep?
10. distant echo
15. energy flow
16. snake eyes
17. tong poo
May242018| May 24, 2018
Told via the making of recent album async.
A new film about iconic Japanese composer and musician Ryuichi Sakamoto is being released this June.
Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda looks at Sakamoto’s life and influences as he recorded his most recent album async, one of our favourite albums of 2017.
Directed by Stephen Nomura Schible, the film explores “how Ryuichi Sakamoto’s awareness of environmental, social and even his personal crises have brought change to his musical expression,” explains distribution company Modern Films.
async was recorded following Sakamoto’s diagnosis with throat cancer, as well as in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and features a piano recovered from one of the worst affected regions.
Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda will be released in the UK alongside a live concert film of async, as part of Sakamoto’s forthcoming MODE event series in London this June.
Head here for more info.
Apr182018| April 18, 2018
The best of this year’s exclusives.
In recent years, response here at the office to the Record Store Day list has followed a familiar pattern: mild dread, followed by irritation, followed by a sense of emptiness.
Piercing the black wax clouds of needless reissues and major label sewage clogging your favourite indie shop for the next few weeks are a few rays of gleaming vinyl sunshine. 25 rays to be precise.
To help you make the most of your time in the queue, we’ve highlighted the releases to make a bee-line for and just why they might be worth getting out of bed for – focussing on new and archival releases where possible.
Analog Africa deliver a long awaited reissue of Antonio Sanches’ Buli Povo, a 1983 LP which fuses the far out Funaná funk with synth, African rhythms and Portuguese instrumentals. His eerie sci-fi funk track ‘Pinta Manta’ opened the label’s fantastic Space Echo compilation back in 2016.
Sounds of the Studio
The kind of niche release Record Store Day was made for, London jazz label Gearbox Records gain access to UK sculptor supreme Antony Gormley’s “cathedral-like” studio to capture the sounds that emanate from the hammers, grinders, fans and welders involved in making the magic happen.
Brian Eno with Kevin Shields
‘The Weight Of History’ / ‘Only Once Away My Son’Opal
Brian Eno teams up with My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields for this double a-side affair, which includes new track ‘The Weight of History’ alongside their 2017 collaboration ‘Only Once Away My Son’.
‘Zen Drums’/’Dada Drums’
Bibio takes a left turn for a 12” of new material released by Warp on RSD this year, crafted from live drums and synthesizers. Produced in collaboration with calligrapher Timothy Dickinson, each of the 1,000 copies is hand-painted and utterly unique. Talk about zen.
Né La Thiass
An essential reissue of Cheikh Lô’s 1995 cassette, produced in Senegal by Youssou N’Dour. Not a record we were previously familiar with, this one hasn’t left the turntable since, fusing Mande, Wolof and Congolese music with Lô’s passion for Cuban rhythms. Gentle, persuasive, melancholy, and deeply spiritual, this is a must for fans of Awesome Tapes, Mr Bongo and beyond.
Speaking of which… Mr Bongo delivers two remastered Cymande album reissues, for a double hit of of sunshine-filled soul funk. Though Second Time Around is worth a peep, the more elusive and anthemic Promised Heights is our favourite.
Song Of Innocence
The first in a series of reissues of legendary producer David Axelrod’s Capital Trilogy, Song of Innocence is one of his most continually referenced works, regularly sampled and “celebrated as psychedelic, the birth of jazz-fusion, the harbinger of hip-hop.”
‘Let’s Dance’ demo
(PLG UK Catalog)
As per usual, there are a bevy of Bowie releases this RSD. The highlight is a ‘Let’s Dance’ full length demo version, mixed by Nile Rogers, who also co-produced the original track with Bowie, released on vinyl for the first time. Its B-side includes a live version from a 1983 concert in Canada.
Ed Motta presents…
Too Slow To Disco Brazil
(How Are You?)
The man, nay, the legend Ed Motta takes the Too Slow To Disco series down to Rio for a journey through the country’s chugging AOR underbelly. Hell, the man has 7 copies of Steely Dan’s Aja, so who else would you trust? In his words, before listening, please acquire: “A Hawaiian shirt à la Magnum PI, loafers without socks as in Miami Vice, [and] jump in your convertible and drive under the coconut trees.”
Prelude au Sommeil
Great electronic innovator and madcap experimentalist Jean-Jacques Perrey release his first record, Prelude au Sommeil in 1957, and is presented here on vinyl in its entirety for the first time. “Funeral-parlour Muzak in a mausoleum on the moon”? Sounds like the perfect post-RSD soundtrack.
Marquis Hawkes is no stranger to harnessing the power of almighty soul voices and turning them into exultant house anthems. For this RSD release on Will Saul’s Aus label, he takes on two titans of RnB, serving up a duo of dance floor ready reworks.
‘Take Me I’m Yours’ / ‘You Got Your Hold On Me’
(Soul Brother Records)
A seminal profession of love, delivered in a disco soul package, Mary Clark’s original 45 edit of ‘Take Me I’m Yours’ gets its first official reissue, with the equally essential slow jam ‘You Got Your Hold On Me’ on the flip.
A four-track teaser EP from Rubberband, the long lost 1985 album by the one and only Miles Davis, released later this year. Should this have remained lost? Perhaps… But with Chaka Khan and Al Jarreau slated on the original, this might be the closest we’ll ever come to finding out.
Incontro Al Club Ventuno
More funky, ‘70s facing electro-synth workouts from Naples’ Filippo Colonna Romano aka Modula, who channels his recent VF mix of obscure Italian soundtracks into a homage to the country’s rich and kitsch history of crime b-movies. One of those “off-RSD” releases you’ll need to be extra lucky to find.
These Things take Time
(Night School Records)
A favourite of ours at VF, Molly Nilsson’s debut was first self-released on CD-r in 2008 in true DIY style. Pressed in an edition of 500 on clear vinyl, it’s a captivating introduction to Nilsson’s otherworldly musings.
John Luther Adams’ Canticles of the Sky
Mica Levi, Radiohead and Actress collaborator Oliver Coates’ interpretation of the John Luther Adams composition, stripped back to 16 cello parts, played and overdubbed entirely by Coates.
Six reworks from Malian legend Oumou Sangaré’s Mogoya Remixed get released on white 12″ for the first time, including edits by Sampha, St Germain, and Natureboy Flako.
A two-track 12″ of ethereal and delicate new material from maestro Ryuichi Sakamoto, whose album async was one of our favourite records of 2017.
The Body Is A Message Of The Universe
Receiving only one small-scale release on a tiny Japanese label, and sounding like an underwater animé set on Jupiter, Shiho Yabuki’s meditative and serene Japanese ambient album from the 1980s gets its first ever reissue, on breezy translucent pink vinyl for maximum zen.
The first full release for the cult Serge Gainsbourg soundtrack from 1967, which features a short cameo from the man himself in typically louche form. Low slung, smoked-out jazz modes abound in what is a crucial addition to the Gainsbourg canon. Look out for WEWANTSOUNDS’ The Friends Of Eddie Coyle soundtrack release on the day too.
Iceland’s post-rock immortals are overseeing four releases on Record Store Day, with Route One probably our pick of the bunch – capturing the best of the band’s 1332km drive around the island’s epic coastal path, created using generative music software and the stems of the Sigur Rós song ‘ovedur’. The other three include Liminal Remixes, featuring Paul Corley and Alex Somers remixing classic tracks, a new album from the latter, drawn from his experience scoring Captain Fantastic, Black Mirror and more, and a deleted EP from frontman Jónsi & Alex.
Studio One Dub Plate Special
(Soul Jazz Records)
Soul Jazz Records collects 10 rare and unreleased dub plates from legendary Jamaican label Studio One, for this special 7″ box set, featuring tracks by Alton Ellis, Cedric Brooks, Brentford All Stars and more. Look out for a brace of other box sets from the label also out on the day.
The American Dreamer OST
(Light In The Attic)
The soundtrack for a documentary about Dennis Hopper’s surreal film The Last Movie, reissued for the first time on red vinyl with an 18×24 film poster.
Taking the first decade in its stride, Erased Tapes releases a new compilation that’s crafted in the communal spirit of the label. Recording twenty exclusive songs in Berlin, expect input from big hitters like Nils Frahm, Rival Consoles, and Kiasmos. The 3LP set is housed in a bespoke white box with a photo book that documents the recording process.
Straight out of Melbourne’s cracking contemporary jazz scene (Familiar to fans of Hiatus Kaiyote and Rhythm Section’s recent 30/70 LP), WVR BVBY’s self-titled debut blends more spiritual elements of the modern sound with hip-hop referencing in-the-pocket grooves.
Jan122018| January 12, 2018
Your essential guide to the new year’s best new music.
Picking up where Sampha, Sudan, Kendrick and the rest of our favourite records of 2017 left off, we’ve picked out eighteen albums for you to look forward to in the next few months.
All either available for pre-order or fully confirmed, the Alpenglow from these records is already giving us fresh energy to tackle the relentless grey skies, spanning a range of moods you need to add to your record collection.
Expect new music from big names like David Byrne, Nils Frahm, Jack White and Ryuichi Sakamoto, alongside some of a taste of what’s bubbling below the radar, with our favourite independent labels like On the Corner, Jazzman, Hyperdub, Growing Bin and Awesome tapes From Africa already lining up heat for the cold months ahead.
Got something you’re particularly looking forward to? Let us know in the comments below.
(On The Corner)
Due: 19th Jan
Dance floor ready afrofunk meets Latin rhythms and lo-fi electronics in this third album from London-based ensemble Penya. A follow-up to their Acelere EP, Super Liminal mixes hypnotic, syrupy percussions, with bata drumming extravaganzas, trombone improvs and dubby blips and bops. Sure to provide much needed heat to fuel the shoulder shimmies and hip grooves for many months to come.
Due: 26th Jan
Nils Frahm’s seventh studio album sees him tickling the emotional classical ivories once more. Recorded in Saal 3 inside Berlin’s iconic 1950s East German Funkhaus, Frahm reconstructed the entire studio space to create an environment perfectly suited his cinematic keyboard patter. “This record includes what I think sticks out,” shares Frahm “and describes my recent musical discoveries in the best possible way I could imagine.”
Con Todo El Mundo
(Night Time Stories)
Due: 26th Jan
Texan trio Khruangbin shift their radar away from Thailand for a new release that promises to channel the global psych sound – a musical vernacular articulating protest, dissent and freedom of expression from Iran to Latin America. Expect heavy breaks, reverb and in the pocket grooves.
We Out Here
Due: 9th Feb
Showcasing London’s vibrant and inspiring young jazz scene, Gilles Peterson imprint Brownswood assembles an all-star selection of the city’s finest jazz musicians. Recorded over the course of three days, the 2xLP We Out Here collection features 9 new tracks from Moses Boyd (who released his Absolute Zero EP on VF in 2017), Maisha, Ezra Collective, Moses Boyd, Theon Cross, Nubya Garcia, Shabaka Hutchings, Triforce, Joe Armon-Jones, and Kokoroko. Future’s looking so bright you’re gonna need some serious shades.
Wolf Müller & Niklas Wandt
Instrumentalmusik von der Mitte der World
Due: 9th Feb
If Jan Schulte aka Wolf Müller’s Tropical Drums of Deutschland comp last year made Germany’s percussive heritage abundantly clear, Instrumentalmusik von der Mitte der World is something of a contemporary addendum – Müller adding his own flowering rainforest-tinged productions to a tradition no-one really knew existed. This time he’s got German drummer Niklas Wandt on board to propel a fairy-tale excursion through the exotic dance floor undergrowth. #DrumsForPeace
Go Dig My Grave
Due: 9th Feb
Following her ambitious, electronic opus Triangle in 2016, Norwegian singer and songwriter Susanna returns to the acoustic realm, with accordion, harp and fiddle in tow to reinterpret ten songs from markedly different worlds. Look out for music by Joy Division, Lou Reed, Purcell, alongside a once-banned poem by Charles Baudelaire.
(Awesome Tapes From Africa)
Due: 16th Feb
Funky Ethiopian keyboardist and accordion player Hailu Mergia is back with his first studio album in 15 years. A comeback album of sorts following his recent revival thanks to a series of LP reissues on Awesome Tapes From Africa, Lala Belu “is very different from all the albums I did after I left Ethiopia” shares Mergia. With first single ‘Gum Gum’ already in heavy rotation, we can’t wait to hear what the maestro’s full length holds in store.
(Ghostly International )
Due: 16th Feb
Tadd Mullinix returns under his Dabrye alias for the first time in 12 years to deliver his signature instrumental heavy hip-hop. Three/Three is the final instalment of a 3 LP arc following 2001’s One/Three and 2006’s Two/Three. If blazing first single ‘Emancipated’ featuring Ghostface Killah is anything to go by, Three/Three will be very much worth the wait.
Answer Code Request
Due: 23rd Feb
Answer Code Request aka Patrick Gräser is back with Gens, the follow-up to his excellent 2014 Ostgut Ton debut. Throwing even more shades on Gräser’s first LP, Gens sits requisite eyebrow singeing techno alongside moody instrumental synth, electro and even ethereal ambient. The result is a unique and forward-thinking view we hope to see across dance floors all year long.
Due: 2nd March
“When Rashad passed away I felt inspired to continue evolving the music that I loved so much coming up in this world,” says DJ Taye, for whom the passing of footwork pioneer was the catalyst for the sixteen soulfully rhythmic firecrackers on Still Trippin’ that promise to push the music forward once more. Big tip.
Ryuichi Sakamoto / Ryuichi Sakamoto & Alva Noto / Alva Noto, Ryoji Ikeda, Mika Vainio
async remodels / Glass / Live 2002
(Milan / NOTON / NOTON)
Due: 2nd March / 16th Feb / 20th Jan
Three releases rolled into one entry here as Ryuichi Sakamoto, Alva Noto, Ryoji Ikeda and Mika Vainio join forces in various iterations. First up, one of our 10 favourite albums of 2017, Ryuichi Sakamoto’s async has been treated to a selection of remixes by admirers from across the electronic music spectrum (Oneohtrix Point Never, Arca, Jóhann Jóhannsson). Then there’s Sakamoto and Alva Noto’s live improvisation Glass, which is described as “like a baby observing raindrops on a nocturnal window for the first time.” Finally, a 2002 live performance between Noto, Ryoji Ikeda and the late Mika Vainio is also set for a release on Noton. Phwoar.
Due: 2nd March
Listen / Pre-order
The debut album from 박지하 Park Jiha mixes traditonal Korean music with modern jazz and minimal classic to a hypnotically atmospheric and otherworldly effect. Featuring piri (double reed flute), saenghwang (mouth organ), and yanggeum (hammered dulcimer), Communion is both strangely familiar and beautifully unknown.
Due: 9th March
2017 was pretty rough, even David Byrne knows this. To help us all with positive thinking, Byrne launched multi-media project Reasons To Be Cheerful, and announced his first solo LP release in 14 years, inspired by the project. With collaborations including Brian Eno, producer Rodaidh McDonald alongside contributors Daniel Lopatin (Oneohtrix Point Never), Jam City, and Sampha, whose Process LP was our favourite album of 2017, the prospect of Byrne’s American Utopia has us feeling better already.
Due: 9th March
Mancunian saxophonist Nat Birchall has been blowing the horn for spiritual jazz long before the new wave of UK musicians made it hip again. Expect Birchall to channel his modal vocabulary in the Alice Coltrane/Yusef Lateef tradition once more with Cosmic Language, drawing influence from India and West Lancashire in equal measure.
Cavern Of Anti-Matter
Due: 23rd March
Stereolab’s Tim Gane returns for a third album of motorik analogue synth excitement with Cavern Of Anti-Matter. Throw in some home-made drum machines, hypnotic overdubs and retro-industrial artwork and you’ve got all the ingredients for a particularly intoxicating soft drink.
BOARDING HOUSE REACH
(Third Man Records / Columbia)
Due: 23rd March
Jack White’s third solo album was heralded with a tri-colour 7″ release earlier this week which, it’s safe to say, only received a lukewarm reception. However, that’s not to say you should throw the baby out with the bathwater, and knowing White’s penchant for extravagant vinyl editions, we’re holding out for all kinds of novel trickery on this one too.
Sons Of Kemet
Your Queen Is A Reptile
Due: 30th March
Continuing to lay claim to the title of most prolific member of the UK jazz scene, Shabaka Hutchings (who also appears on this list via the We Out Here compilation) is back with his Sons of Kemet crew. Little has been revealed about the album aside from its title, track names and liner notes, but with a band that includes Hutchings, alongside Theo Cross on tuba plus Tom Skinner and Eddie Hick on drums, little else needs to be said to get our anticipation levels dialled up to 11.
Chris Carter’s Chemistry Lesson Volume 1
Due: 30th March
Throbbing Gristle’s Chris Carter releases his first solo record in 17 years in March, proving once and for all that industrial music is as crucial as Auntie in British cultural history. Inspired by ’60s BBC Radiophonic Workshop soundtracks and incidental musics, Chris Carter’s Chemistry Lesson Volume 1 also promises to weave ingrained old English folk melodies into the record’s electronic DNA.
Jan092018| January 9, 2018
Featuring Oneohtrix Point Never, Arca, Jóhan Jóhannsson and more.
Ryuichi Sakamoto is releasing async Remodels on vinyl, this March via Milan Music.
The LP includes 11 reworks, edits and remodels taken async – one of our top 10 favourite albums of 2017.
Though Sakamoto released some of the remixes featured in this album via digital streaming platforms, and topped the list of our favourite digital albums of 2017 we wish were available on vinyl, this is its first physical release.
Sakamoto is also releasing live album Glass with Jóhannsson in February.
Listen to Cornelius’ remix of ‘Zure’ ahead of async Remodels‘ 2nd March release and check out the track list below.
1. Andata (Oneohtrix Point Never Rework)
2. Andata (Electric Youth Remix)
3. Disintegration (Alva Noto Remodel)
4. Async (Arca Remix)
5. Fullmoon (Motion Graphics Remix)
6. Solari (Fennesz Remix)
7. Solari (Jóhann Jóhannsson Rework)
8. ZURE (Yves Tumor Obsession Edit)
9. Fullmoon (S U R V I V E Version)
10. ZURE (Cornelius Remix)
11. Life, Life (Andy Stott Remodel)
Dec222017| December 22, 2017
Skriiiiap and a pop pop pop, get these in a record shop.
Vinyl sales continued to soar this year, as pressing plants struggled to meet demand.
Though everyone from budget airlines to supermarkets got in on the record game during the past twelve months, some of our favourite music of the year didn’t make it onto wax.
Aside from 2017’s obvious almighty supreme banger Big Shaq’s ‘Man’s Not Hot’, which we are awaiting on flame coloured 1x-tra limited 12″, here are our favourite EPs, LPs and collections that should be released on vinyl asap.
You may have also noticed that we’ve changed the emphasis of our lists this year, away from the tired, arbitrary and frankly over-used ‘best’, to the more openly subjective ‘favourite’. We believe this more accurately reflects the fact that these rundowns are essentially recommendations of what we’ve enjoyed most this year, as selected VF’s editorial team, Gabriela Helfet and Anton Spice.
What were your favourites? Let us know in the comments below.
(Jamla Records / Roc Nation)
Kendrick may have topped 2017’s albums of the year lists, but Rapsody is coming in fast for his throne. The best part is how effortless she sounds while doing it – seamlessly bringing her quick verse to a mix of old-school meets new school sounds. With echoes of Outkast, The Lox, NxWorries and Mos Def, plus guest appearances including Kendrick himself, Anderson. Paak and Busta Rhymes, Laila’s Wisdom was one of our favourite albums all year. In 2018 we’ll be (im)patiently waiting for its overdue vinyl release, and for what’s next from hip-hop’s future queen. – GH
Jay Glass Dubs vs Guerilla Toss
Jay Glass Dubs vs Guerilla Toss
(Bokeh Versions vs. DFA)
Another super year for nascent digi-dub unit Bokeh Versions saw the label release one of our favourite reissues of 2017 in Tradition’s Captain Ganja & The Space Patrol. Elsewhere though there was lots to admire too, none more so than this cassette & download release in collaboration with NYC institution DFA. Athens-based Jay Glass Dubs (whose Dubs collection was released on Ecstatic at the end of the year) steps up to string out Gorilla Toss’ punk-funk-video game mania ‘Skull Pop’ something far more reverberant and post-apocalyptic. A killer four-track that sounds good on tape but would sound even better on vinyl. – AS
⣎⡇ꉺლ༽இ•̛)ྀ◞ ༎ຶ ༽ৣৢ؞ৢ؞ؖ ꉺლ (Four Tet)
(*¸.·* ´¨・*・ .°。·´¨´ *´¨゜. ´¨゜. .· ・*. *¨°。. ・*。¸.·* ´.·*¨.· ・)
Though he wasn’t shouting it from the tweet tops, Kieran Hebden had a rather busy 2017. In physical formats, Hebden released an LP and multiple singles as Four Tet – including ‘Planets’ one of our favourite 12″s of the year, plus the ‘Question’ edit that filled dance floors all summer long as KH. Meanwhile, Hebden quietly dropped digital music under three new aliases, revealed via inclusion of these mysterious tracks in his regularly updated, excellent spotify playlist. Under the binary code alias 00110100 01010100 (which translates to 4T in English) came a Rounds-esque LP called 01810, and via the wingdings-ish △▃△▓ and ⣎⡇ꉺლ༽இ•̛)ྀ◞ ༎ຶ ༽ৣৢ؞ৢ؞ؖ ꉺლ came five additional singles. All are worth peeping but ⣎⡇ꉺლ༽இ•̛)ྀ◞ ༎ຶ ༽ৣৢ؞ৢ؞ؖ ꉺლ’s )✧⃛* is our favourite, filled with the kind of signature, twinkling electronics that deserve to be played well beyond the confines of a computer screen. (NB: We have tried to process these wingdings into English to no avail.) – GH
TB Afro Chronicles: Volume One
A breakthrough year for the London collective who’ve pushed the conversation around black-oriented music in the underground forward with a fine series of NTS shows, talks and events. In TB Chronicles: Volume One, they have their first release proper, channeling the spirit of Sun Ra, Digable Planets and Dilla across 12 tracks of jazzy beats, spoken word and soul. Released as a cassette and download, expect the collection to further confirm Touching Bass as London’s modern day Soulquarians. – AS
‘Afro-Synth Machine’ (Against The Clock)
(Not on Label)
So this is a bit of a different one, but here goes. Helming an episode of FACT Magazine’s Against the Clock series, in which producers must make a track from scratch in just 10 minutes, Esa turned out the propulsive ‘Afro Synth Machine’, merging traditional instrumentation with an oddball house vibe. Proving that good music can be born out of the tightest restrictions, where quick-fire improvisation can sometimes produce greater moments of magic than laboured studio time, this was one of the best from the series in 2017 and a track we would have loved to play out. – AS
Ryuichi Sakamoto’s async was one of our 10 favourite albums in 2017. A stunning return to some of his most engaging work, it was accompanied by a remix LP connecting Sakamoto with some of the most exciting contemporary musicians, all of whom would doubtless cite him as an inspiration. So much so that when we contacted Milan about doing a Sakamoto tribute mix, Icelandic composer Jóhan Jóhannsson stepped up immediately to deliver a stunning tribute for VF Mix 100. Looking at the list of artists joining him on the record – Arca, Oneohtrix Point Never and Alva Noto among others – it’s clear why this one should get a vinyl release, and one we’re hoping for in the new year. – AS
Lukas Nystrand Von Unge
How Lukas Nystrand Von Unge is still so under-the-radar is a total mystery to us, given his excellent Studio Barnhus EP releases and how much sample-filled goodness the Swedish producer drops on a regular basis via his Soundcloud. There’s Missy Elliot dub, there’s acid, there’s emotional house, hell there’s even a poetic disco ode to gyros. We’ve selected Volume Two because it collects many of these tracks from 2017 into a playlist that could easily form an LP. “This is my audiodiary of sketches, stupid ideas, lesser hits and other silly stuff that sounds,” explains Von Unge. “Have veeery little sparetime at the moment.” If this is what Von Unge calls stupid ideas, lesser hits and silly stuff imagine what the good shit sounds like. – GH
London duo Dark Sky dropped their full-length LP Orthona in spring, and this Lossless collection was a very unexpected autumn release. After having their studio broken into and all of their equipment stolen, Dark Sky released this album of unheard tracks salvaged from the back catalogue for free, as a thank you to everyone who supported them following the break-in. Less polished than Orthona but all the better for it, many of these 12 tracks harken back to the duo’s soulful, early 12″s on Mister Saturday Night. Out of an awful situation comes an album that we’d love to buy on vinyl. – GH
Produced by Starseed Diva Dompé for her monthly guided-meditation Yialmelic Transmissions show, this hypnotic album was the first release in a digital series she launched this year. Its self-described “alien-ambient” music is exactly the kind of soothing, audio zen that lends itself to being played on a turntable in leisurely, kaleidoscopic sound. Namast-heyyyyyyyy we’d like this as a 12″ please. – GH
Pink & Blu EP
London DJ turned producer NARX came onto our radar via his regular NTS spot – its sharp rnb mixed with future garage and bass to fuel some seriously questionable, weekday chair boogie. A quick peruse of his previous shows soon lead us to NARX’s production work, and this Pink & Blu EP. Featuring guest vocals from NAO, the result is equal parts Jai Paul meets early SBTRKT – the kind of sultry jams you want to hear on loop when the dance floor lights turn down low. – GH
See the rest of our 2017 review:
Our 50 favourite albums of 2017
Our 20 favourite 12″s of 2017
Our 10 favourite 7″s of 2017
Our 12 favourite reissue singles of 2017
Our 30 favourite reissues of 2017
Our 12 favourite soundtracks of 2017
Our 12 favourite record sleeves of 2017
Dec182017| December 18, 2017
Featuring tracks by Ryuichi Sakamoto, Giorgio Moroder, Psychedelic Furs and more.
Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name soundtrack is being released on 2xLP, this January by Music on Vinyl.
The film is a love story based on the novel by André Aciman of the same name, with music spanning from classical to post-punk to Italo disco.
The 17-track album features previously released material by artists including Ryuichi Sakamoto (whose solo LP Async was one of our favourite albums of 2017) alongside two new songs recorded by Sufjan Stevens for the film.
Call Me Be Your Name 2xLP, which also comes with an exclusive poster, is available in limited 1000-copy blue and standard black variants.
Pre-order a copy here ahead of its 12th January release, check out the track list, and watch a dance party scene from the film below.
1. John Adams – Hallelujah Junction – 1st Movement
2. Ryuichi Sakamoto – M.A.Y. In The Backyard
3. Loredana Bertè – J’Adore Venise
4. Bandolero – Paris Latino 0
1. Frank Glazer – Sonatine Bureaucratique
2. Alessio Bax – Zion Hört Die Wächter Singen
3. Giorgio Moroder & Joe Esposito – Lady Lady Lady
1. André Laplante – Une Barque Sur L’Ocean
2. Sufjan Stevens – Futile Devices (Doveman Remix)
3. Ryuichi Sakamoto – Germination
4. F.R. David – Words
5. Marco Armani – È La Vita
1. Sufjan Stevens – Mystery Of Love
2. Franco Battiato – Radio Varsavia
3. The Psychedelic Furs – Love My Way
4. Valéria Szervánszky & Ronald Cavaye – Le Jardin Féerique From Ma Mère L’Oye
5. Sufjan Stevens – Visions Of Gideon
Dec062017| December 6, 2017
The year on record.
Having looked at 7”s and 12”s, our new music round-up ends, as ever, with LPs. What follows is a reflection of the records that have excited, stimulated and moved us in 2017, the only stipulation being that each album has to have appeared on vinyl in the last twelve months.
As ever we have sought to balance records you may have heard of with those that deserve more space, reflecting the breadth of independent music we covered this year on the Vinyl Factory.
We also hope this list reflects some of the year’s major stories, starting in the first instance with the explosion of talent in the UK jazz scene. The enthusiasm of the community which rallied around it was a breath of fresh air, as the music embraced a huge range of genres and influences to establish itself as one of the most urgent enclaves of creativity and cultural dissent.
It’s also been exciting to see how jazz, in the broadest sense of the word, has taken from and influenced new grime and hip-hop records coming out of the US and UK. Kendrick Lamar of course, but debuts for J Hus, Stormzy and Loyle Carner also sought to position themselves as inheritors of soul and gospel traditions.
In that sense, 2017 also saw acceleration in border and era-transcending cross-pollination, as our reissues rundown will testify. Fragments of Japanese ambience, West African rhythms and free-jazz bled into new releases by artists as varied as Visible Cloaks, Golden Teacher and James Holden, with many seeking to synthesize and disrupt generic boundaries.
Even those major artists like Björk, Ryuichi Sakamoto, or The National, with whose sound we have become familiar over the years, chose 2017 to stretch the parameters of their work.
However, the records we enjoyed most this year are the ones that are original, ambitious and uncompromising in their individuality. They’re records that revealed more with every listen, and that we believe would be rewarding additions to your record collection.
You may have also noticed that we’ve changed the emphasis of our lists this year, away from the tired, arbitrary and frankly over-used ‘best’, to the more openly subjective ‘favourite’. We believe this more accurately reflects the fact that these rundowns are essentially recommendations of what we’ve enjoyed most this year, as selected by our weekly contributors Patrick Ryder, James Hammond and Chris Summers, alongside VF’s editorial team, Gabriela Helfet and Anton Spice.
What were your favourites this year? Let us know in the comments below.
See the rest of our 2017 review:
Our 20 favourite 12″s of 2017
Our 10 favourite 7″s of 2017
Our 12 favourite reissue singles of 2017
Our 30 favourite reissues of 2017
Our 12 favourite soundtracks of 2017
Our 12 favourite record sleeves of 2017
(One Little Indian)
If 2015’s Vulnicura was a cathartic diary of separation and sadness, then Björk set out here to prove that melancholy is not the only muse. And while Utopia never plumbs the devastating depths of ‘Black Lake’ or the complex observations of ‘Lionsong’, it does maintain a quiet ebb and flow that communes again with the world beyond her aching heart. In doing so, Björk locates the minutiae of emotional attachment in worldly objects (mp3s, familiar beards, etc.) and pitches it against that supernatural, Nordic baroque she and Arca have made their own. It may be doe-eyed and a little soft round the edges, but who isn’t relieved that Björk is happy again? – AS
49. Vangelis Katsoulis
If Not Now When
From Utopia to Utopia Records… The follow up to Into The Light’s 2014 reissue of Greek composer and electronic avant-gardist Vangelis Katsoulis’ early synth works, If Not Now When is a snapshot of his contemporary output. Combining a minimalist sensibility with an organic instrumental flair, whether on the motorik opener ‘All The Blue Skies’ or the Gigi Masin-esque dreamscape ‘Liquidity’, this is a rich and textured record that should appeal to soundtrack heads, adventurous dance music fans, and late-night incense burners alike. – AS
48. Here Lies Man
Here Lies Man
Here Lies Man fucking rule. Simple as that. Formed by Marcos Garcia of Antibalas they straddle the line between the magic of Onyeabor and the riffs of Zeppelin, with their rock solid drums and guitars set to maximum fuzz. Its hip-hop level ain’t too bad either, making it a surefire bet to be heavily sampled in the future. This shit swings like a mother and I defy anyone not to let loose on the dance floor to this. – CS
47. The National
Sleep Well Beast
Whether or not the oblique reference in the title to the roused beast of W.B. Yeats’ ‘The Second Coming’ is intentional, this is an album that directly connects with the political upheaval of 2017’s widening gyre. “I don’t understand why people separate love and politics in their art,” singer and lyricist Matt Berninger has said of the album, which is as pre-occupied with the redemptive power of dreams and nightmares as it is with providing answers for real life. Tracks like ‘The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness’ and ‘Walk It Back’ are emblematic of that desire to ride out personal and political tragedies in the hope of a more positive time to come. – AS
46. Trio Da Kali and Kronos Quartet
Gospel-infused Malian rhythms meet experimental western orchestrals in Ladilikan, a collaboration between griot (storyteller) musicians Trio Da Kali and Kronos Quartet. The result is a uniquely uplifting combination, merging lesser-known, traditional instrumentals like balafon (xylophone) and bass ngoni (lute), with the kind of playful strings you might find in a deep grooving Salsoul disco track. – GH
45. Jane Weaver
Jane Weaver has been a firm favourite here at VF for some time, and in Modern Kosmology she has her most sophisticated, crafted album to date. While Weaver wears new wave and krautrock influences on her sleeve, Modern Kosmology operates in its own orbit, synthesizing a “worldly feminine pop” where the shimmering brutalist sci-fi of ‘The Architect’ (recently released as a stand-alone EP of its own) dictates the gravitational pull. – AS
44. Tyler, The Creator
Scum Fuck Flower Boy
Tyler, the Creator finally embraces his multiple personalities on fourth album Scum Fuck Flower Boy, a record that calls to mind Outkast’s Speakerboxx/The Love Below in its ability to fuse one’s inner Jekyll fuckboi with a Hyde Casanova smoothie in equal measures. A rotating cast that includes A$AP Rocky, Frank Ocean and Estelle helps him navigate through these many faces along the way. – GH
43. Zola Jesus
Another vintage year for Sacred Bones, with Moon Duo’s motorik Occult Architecture diptych a close second to this nerve-shredding LP. The Slavic word for ‘shackles’, Okovi hears Zola Jesus throw off hers for a strident and surging new album. Exploding into life on ‘Exhumed’ which begins like the soundtrack to a Yorgos Lanthimos thriller, Zola Jesus grapples with darkness and death throughout an album perforated with personal experiences and woven together with fictitious narratives. Sonically, Okovi inhabits a vast and agoraphobic landscape, whether through the operatic grandeur of ‘Ash To Bone’, electronic drone pop of ‘Siphon’ or the cello-balladry of ‘Witness’. An exciting, liberating album. – AS
Arca’s third full-length LP and the first to expose his sheer and brittle voice to record. Vulnerable and controlled, the album begins with the elegiac ‘Piel’, his voice echoing tenderly within the cathedrals of sound he is so adept at creating. The track points to a shifting relationship that the voice adds to Arca’s work, where his maximalist, claustrophobic sonic structures appear somehow more distant and spacious, as if allowing his voice to physically inhabit them. Grandiose and heaving with operatic melodrama, it’s an album that somehow makes everything which came before seem incomplete. A self-titled rebirth, it’s as if we were finally introduced to the real Arca. – AS
41. Dego & Kaidi
A So We Gwarn
Though broken beat dream team Dego and Kaidi have been collaborating for the better part of 15 years, A So We Gwarn – released on Theo Parrish’s likeminded Sound Signature label – marks their first full-length LP. As is to be expected from the veteran duo, the album consistently serves up their trademark, jazz-hued goodness, alongside guest spots from Mr Mensah, trumpeter Yelfris Valdes and singer Nadine Charles. – GH
40. Alessandro Cortini
(Point of Departure)
With Avanti the NIN synth maestro made good on some spellbinding live outings of this material and delivered an LP that stands out as one of the most affecting works of synthesized music that 2017 brought forth. Conceived as a reflection on his grandfather’s home movie collection, and recorded entirely on the legendary EMS Synthi AKS, Avanti embraces nostalgia and the senescence of memory, creating a personal album that managed to avoid the navel gazing that such themes could encourage amongst lesser practitioners. – JH
LA native Nicky Benedek returned to Leaving Records after an excellent EP, keeping things way cool with this sleazy collection of sun blushed strollers and West Coast rollers. As with previous offerings on PPU and Superior Elevation, Benedek continues to reimagine the stoned drum machines and languid basslines of boogie and proto-house, though this time around the arrangements are tighter, rhythms tougher and hooks way more infectious. Whether he’s bringing those bubbling basslines and steam kettle synthlines to your BBQ, beach party or basement, Bene’s always on point. – PR
Following the release of game-changing archival collection Bird Sound Power, which flew in at the last and stormed the end of year charts in 2016, Jamaican production duo Equiknoxx released their ‘debut album proper’ Colón Man in late 2017 to a similarly electric reception. Recorded in just 11 months, there’s a creative freedom and liberation to the fractured hyper-concise dancehall riddims here, referencing past heights (check out Time Cow’s Dennis Brown VF Mix for an indication of where these roots lie), while striving for a sound so crisp and future facing as to bamboozle even the most de-fragged musical consciousness. It may have the most boring name on the record (‘Enter A Raffle Win A Falafel’ being a personal favourite), but seek out ‘Flank’ for maximum gravitational discombobulation. – AS
(On the Corner)
An artist and label that made great strides in 2017, The Search really exemplifies what both Collocutor and On the Corner are all about. A self-confessed “accidental concept album” that entwines OtC’s post Miles Davis electro-acoustic aesthetic with a gutsy cross-cultural jazz sound, The Search showcases saxophonist Tamar Osborn at her most articulate, whether riding high on deep funk grooves or tip-toeing between the album’s quietly experimental moments. With a new Collocutor 10″ on the way, fans of 12-person xylophones, east African electronics and percussive dance floors should also check the rest of OtC’s 12″ output this year. – AS
36. Davy Kehoe
Short Passing Game
(Wah Wah Wino)
We first heard the devastating ‘Storm Desmond’ get a pull up on Charlie Bones’ Do!! You!!! NTS breakfast show and spent the next few months typing misspelled variations of “Davy Kehoe” into Google to try and track it down. When it finally surfaced on his Wah Wah Wino debut Short Passing Game, it was joined by a high-octane taki-taka of precision drum machine stretches, dislocated krautrock sprints, and jazzy, Zizou-esque orchestrations. And while Kehoe’s game may not yet be totally refined, there’s so much raw energy here for the whole album to be a compelling listen. One to watch for fans of Can and Arthur Russell. – AS
Cerebrally impulsive in its frenetic rhythms, yet mastered to hit the body as well as the mind, Jlin’s sophomore effort rejected singularities and easy pigeonholing, and further exploded the ideas of her lauded debut to reveal a truly distinct and vital approach to rhythm and electronics. Blurring lines between minimal and maximal, the cross-fire, drum oriented approach that Jlin has fine-tuned here confounds and allures as these tracks spread out to form rhythmic frameworks of their own design. Black Origami feels like the kind of work that will continue to resonate in future years. – JH
34. Tornado Wallace
Following in the footsteps of fellow Aussie’s Andras Fox and Len Leise, Melbourne’s Tornado Wallace packed up the ute and headed off into the outback with his debut LP, harnessing the natural world into a septet of exotic and expansive compositions. Employing the same cross genre approach one hears in his DJ sets, Lewis (as his mum knows him) dips his brush in new age, new wave, trance and dub to create a dreamlike landscape of dense foliage and dazzling vistas. Pulsing sequences dart through the undergrowth, airy pads mist the air and ’80s guitar licks soar high above the canopy – and we’re right in the middle of it all, marvelling at the other worldly beauty of Tornado’s Lonely Planet. – PR
33. Luka Productions
An under-the-radar gem we were put onto by friend of VF Chal Ravens in the spring and hooked on by summer, Fasokan moves between Balearic dreamscapes, cosmic mantras and a fourth world ambience that’s practically impossible to place in space or time. Afro-cosmic-ambient-new-wave? No combination of hyphenated genres really gets close to what Bamoko rapper, and multi-instrumentalist Luka Guindo has made here, but we love it. – AS
32. DJ Seinfeld
Time Spent Away From U
When Armand Jakobsson aka DJ Seinfeld caught his longterm partner cheating on him, there were only two things he was able to do: watch a certain New York sitcom, and create this music. Jakobsson, however, never intended for anyone to hear these tracks. Thankfully Lobster Fury – a label collaboration between Meda Fury and Lobster Theremin – had a different idea. Time Spent Away From U is a shimmering mix of Brandy-fuelled ’90s rnb with Chicago house and echoes of future garage, spun into a sound equally able to fuel late night shapes or serve as an audio shoulder to cry on in your fluo-lit bedroom. An affecting and refreshingly saccharine-free ode to heartbreak via the dance floor. – GH
31. Moses Sumney
As the title suggests there’s a classicism to much of this record, which shines through most vividly on the orchestrated movements of ‘Don’t Bother Calling’, where shades of Thom Yorke and Billie Holiday vibrate like ghosts among Sumney’s fragile falsetto. It’s in these moments that Aromanticism really connects, and the textbook crescendoes of tracks like ‘Lonely World’ feel forced in comparison. While Sumney’s voice is an acquired taste, especially after 11 tracks, Aromanticism has enough textured understatement to hold its own. – AS
30. Kelly Lee Owens
Kelly Lee Owens
Building on a pair of self released 12″s and a fine four tracker for Norwegian institution Smalltown Supersound, Welsh wonder Kelly Lee Owens made light work of the longer format this year, sticking with Oslo’s finest for this self-titled release. Paying little attention to preconceived genre confines, Kelly combines the delicate dream pop of the Cocteaus with the immersive sonics of MBV or JAMC before driving the whole thing home with the rhythmic thrust of America’s midwest. Moonlit, moody and saturated with a Lynchian haze, the LP combines subtle synth pop, cerebral techno and sensual electronics into a perfect listen for the post club daze or morning haze. Blessed with a crystalline voice, refreshing approach to production and rare ability to fuse diverse styles into a sound all of her own, this is just the start for this startling talent. – PR
29. Fabiano Do Nascimento
Tempo Dos Mestres
The Brazilian guitarist behind one of our favourite albums of 2015, Fabiano Do Nascimento returned to Egon’s Now-Again Records to stretch his virtuoso chops on another melancholic, uplifting snapshot of contemporary Afro-Brazil, as passed down from Bahia-born legends like Gilberto Gil & Caetano Veloso. As with his debut, there’s so much to fall in love with here, with the gentle rhythmic majesty of tracks like ‘Baião’ and ‘Canto de Xangô’ vying with the yearning melodies of ‘Oya Nana’ for top spot in our affections. A record that combines virtuosic musicianship with proper heart. – AS
28. Kuniyuki Takahashi
New Wave Project
While Japanese producer and sound designer Kuniyuki Takahashi’s name might be unfamiliar, he’s been releasing music under a variety of guises since forming the now disbanded industrial duo DRP in the late ’80s. Extremely prolific production history aside, Kuniyuki’s bubbly New Wave Project will hopefully bring the producer long overdue recognition, with tracks to suit every whim and fancy including stuttering techno flute (!!) crescendos, rumbling bass face summoning rhythms, freaky theremin witch incantations and beyond. – GH
27. Msafiri Zawose
Tanzanian gogo music meets electronics on Msafiri Zawose’s Soundway debut. A jack-in-the-box of live-wire instrumentation and lush fx, tracks like ‘Nosaga’ pop and fizz with slow-mo grace, redolent of Crammed Discs’ most adventurous ’80s outings, while at the other end of the spectrum ‘Kunyemo’ rattles with high-octane drums and a Four Tet-esque propensity to bring euphoric syncopation to the dance floor. With a cover design that nods to cult Afro-electro record Noir et Blanc, this should appeal to those on the weirder fringes of the disco and Balearic scenes, bringing the prolific Tanzanian artist to a wider audience for the first time. – AS
26. Karen Gwyer
(Don’t Be Afraid)
It’s no secret that we’re fans of Karen Gwyer’s hardware oriented take on techno, and this first LP for Don’t Be Afraid is another worthy refinement of her craft. Inspired by her youth in Ann Arbor, Michigan and shaped into being across a steady stream of visceral live shows, Rembo brilliantly translates Gwyer’s ear for risk taking in the live arena, and makes many of her contemporaries appear positively unadventurous by comparison. – JH
25. Hello Skinny
Drummer and producer Tom Skinner returns as Hello Skinny for an album that’s as much his own as the result of a series of fruitful collaborative sessions with Peter Zummo – the downtown legend, former Arthur Russell trombonist and Optimo-affiliate with the uncanny knack of bringing the avant-garde into the club. What emerges is an enjoyable album that’s just as at home in dubbed-out disco mode (‘Mr. P.Z.’) as in the echo-laden soundscapes of ‘Bluebells’. Throw in a nod to footwork legend DJ Rashad, some Dennis Bovell-esque studio trickery and leftfield spoken word à la John Giorno, and Skinner’s ability to synthesize influences into a coherent whole feels all the more impressive. – AS
Hear Tom Skinner discuss the record on our recent radio show here.
On his debut 東方不敗, released by Ron Morelli’s L.I.E.S. imprint, Malaysian-born, Shanghai-based Tzusing fuses non-Western dance music and reed-instrument like synths with heavy-hitting techno. The result sounds like a dystopian, Chinese sci-fi warrior flick set 300 years from now in a demonic future. Hell-raising, one-of-a-kind, and highly trippy. – GH
23. Loyle Carner
(AMF Records // Universal Music)
Rapper Loyle Carner’s January debut has been on continual repeat thanks to its casual drawl mixed with jazz, downtempo, soul and gospel. Yesterday’s Gone sees Carner deftly tip toeing across cerebral Hieroglyphics Crew-style hip-hop before landing firmly in London, bringing the city’s vibrant and diverse music scenes with him as he does. – GH
22. James Holden & The Animal Spirits
The Animal Spirits
Exhilarating stuff from James Holden, who enlisted a gang of long-time collaborators and ‘fellow travellers’ on an album that was somewhat unfortunately trailed as full of “synth-led folk-trance standards”. And yet, while there sure are synths, wisps of folkloric tinkering and pagan incantations, The Animal Spirits finds a truly luscious harmony between the electronic and acoustic beasts of this sonic forest. So detailed and off-kilter in the minutiae, yet so resolved as a whole, it’s got just about everything you might want from a woodland, acid-folk, kraut jazz epic: marauding flutes (‘Spinning Dance’), raking drone-like sax solos (‘Thunder Moon Gathering’) and mayfly-esque synth-flights (‘The Neverending’). The kind of record that’ll make you want to strip down to your undies and dive headfirst and ecstatic into the undergrowth. – AS
21. Mount Eerie
A Crow Looked At Me
(P.W. Elverum & Sun)
Recorded in the wake of his wife’s death following her battle with cancer, Mount Eerie aka Phil Elverum’s detailing of what life is now like for him and his infant child is often overwhelmingly difficult to listen to. From the literal scenes – taking out the trash or brushing teeth – to the cerebral ramblings – what kind of existence his daughter will face growing up without a mother – A Crow Looked At Me sometimes feels so unfiltered it veers on cloying. This quality is also why the album is so remarkable in its encapsulation of the inescapable and suffocating fugue of grief that follows the loss of someone you love. – GH
20. Call Super
Like many of the fellow albums who grace this list, as well as in Call Super’s ‘Inkjet’ / ‘Fluo’ collaboration with Beatrice Dillon, which appeared in our favourite 12”s list, Arpo isn’t a record that immediately reveals its greatness. Slowly but surely though, these intricately-layered, cosmic jazz excursions and technotronics – delivered from the Milky Way via a pitstop in Berlin – will synchronise into your psyche. – GH
19. Awa Poulo
(Awesome Tapes From Africa)
Having notched up 10 years in 2016, Awesome Tapes From Africa kicked off its second decade with a reel of enchanting songs from the Mali-Mauritania border. Unlike many of the label’s projects, this release showcases Peulh singer Awa Poulo’s newest work, a dexterous pop-folk collection that weaves her enchanting vocals with acoustic flute riffs, shuffling percussion and the odd moment raking guitar distortion. – AS
Gang Signs & Prayer
Big ups are very much due to Stormzy for serving us the most entertaining album of the year. Yes, there’s excellent grime on here. But he also croons! He changes the way the UK pronounces boots into a bueeets-iful new variant! He enlists Ghetts and J Hus for 2017’s finest rap smackdown! He even includes a slow jam featuring the best chipmunk backing vocalist we’ve ever heard. (Technically it’s a sped-up NAO sample but no one needs to know this.) As Stormzy himself proclaims on second to last track ‘Shut Up’: “if you don’t rate (me) shame on you”. – GH
17. Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith
Following up on last year’s stunning Ears LP, 2017 saw Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith take yet another leap forward in her electro-acoustic song-craft with The Kid. Re-envisioning the possibilities of pop music at the frontiers of experimentation, with The Kid Smith managed to articulate a vivid and enchanting sound world and further meld both the acoustic and electrical to a will of her own – with her skills on the Buchla music easel finding equal match with her vocal work and visionary compositions throughout. One that rewards repeated listens, these joyous, ambitious and unabashedly blissed-out pieces were a welcome reminder that there are other frequencies out there to tune into. – JH
16. Mount Kimbie
Love What Survives
Seven years since Crooks and Lovers, and Mount Kimbie sound like they’re finally settling into a new phase, making their peace in the transition from production duo to band. Reunited with James Blake (with whom they shared the post-dubstep limelight at the turn of the decade) for two of the stand-out tracks on Love What Survives, Mount Kimbie settles into a propulsive post-punk stride by the beginning of ‘Audition’, while the gentle, lilting collab with Micachu is another highlight on an album that reveals itself as more detailed and considered with every listen. – AS
15. Yazz Ahmed
Yazz Ahmed’s La Saboteuse was one of the great surprises of 2017, a controlled and intricate contemporary jazz record that seamlessly weaves Middle Eastern themes with funk-laced Return To Forever fusion. A record we returned to time and again this year, La Saboteuse adds a mystical depth to the contemporary conversation. For more context, read Yazz Ahmed’s urgent editorial on the challenges facing women in jazz today here. – AS
14. Visible Cloaks
Another vintage year from RVNG Intl. means it’s particularly difficult to pick one stand-out record. In the end it came down to Visible Cloaks or Greg Fox, whose percussive free-jazz suite The Gradual Progression was an arresting advancement to the legacy of astral elders like Rashied Ali. In the end though, we handed the gong to the Portland duo, whose exploration of high-res ambient tones and Japanese musical influences most resonated with the year of 2017. With guest spots from Motion Graphics, Matt Carlson and cult Japanese act Dip In The Pool’s Miyako Koda, Reassemblage was the brittle soundtrack to the late winter and well worth revisiting as it rolls round once more. – AS
13. Golden Teacher
No Luscious Life
(Golden Teacher Records)
After a string of fine 12″s on Opitmo and Sounds of the Universe, long-time VF favourites Golden Teacher finally have their debut album. The international Glasgow outfit come on like a cosmic sonic explosion of 99 Records, Fela Kuti, Talking Heads, ACR and early DFA records but add their own drop of soul, swing and disco magic. They’ve got tunes sprinkled in golden glitter and grooves that are wonky on poppers. – CS
Read our recent interview with Golden Teacher here.
12. Shinichi Atobe
From The Heart, It’s A Start, A Work Of Art
Good things come to those who dig is a mantra we fully support. It is also the reason why DDS discovered enigmatic Japanese producer Shinichi Atobe, unearthing a dub plate from the mysterious producer that then sparked a hunt to track him down. A combination of new and unreleased material, From The Heart, It’s A Start, A Work Of Art is soulful, exquisitely formed techno and house, able to seamlessly blip and bop across fuller, early Daphni-esque cuts like ‘Regret’ to the minimal visions of ‘First Plate 2’ and back again with a maestro’s touch. – GH
11. J Hus
(Black Butter Records)
J Hus’s debut Common Sense was another strutting example of how the UK’s rap scene transcended the genre to deliver some of the most exciting music going in 2017. Though he made an appearance on Stormzy’s Gang Signs & Prayer, which also made this list, Common Sense came out firmly ahead, thanks to the impressive variety of J Hus’ flow coupled with sounds whose influences are flung far and wide. The album mixes more traditional but no less fresh grime hooks alongside RnB, exultant strings and calypso tinkles, dutty wine shimmies, afro-beat, reggae and a dash of soul to create a next-level-catchy, sample ride. – GH
10. Ryuichi Sakamoto
Drawing upon a vast sound palette of piano experimentation, Satie-like motifs, pulsing synth and the ambient and fourth world sounds that Ryuichi Sakamoto has developed over the past four decades, with his 16th solo record his ideas met the influence of Andrei Tarkovsky for an imaginary soundtrack of sorts. Whilst the vinyl became entangled in a 6-month delay, it’s now finally with us, and certainly worth the wait, comfortably fitting in amongst some of Sakamoto’s finest works. Well worth picking up for hardened fans and newcomers alike. – JH
Listen to Jóhann Jóhannsson pay tribute to Ryuichi Sakamoto in VF Mix 100 earlier this year.
Take Me Apart
For an artist that’s been present at the vanguard of her very own future RnB genre for almost 5 years since the brilliant Cut 4 Me, it’s hard to believe Take Me Apart is Kelela’s debut LP proper. But where that mixtape was a masterpiece for its radical deconstruction of electronic pop forms, Take Me Apart has taken its time in assembling fully formed, immersive worlds, where love, sex and sadness entwine in minute details that evoke the largest emotions. An album that never lets the tension slacken, tracks like ‘Blue Light’, ‘Frontline’ or the title track (produced by Cut 4 Me collaborator Jam City) reflect her meticulous song-writing ability, delivered with conviction and controlled drama. – AS
8. Laurel Halo
This year Laurel Halo followed up 2013’s Chance Of Rain for her third and most accomplished album for Hyperdub. Returning in part to her treatment of the human voice from debut LP Quarantine, Dust has an almost virtuoso quality, tip-toeing light-footed across avant-garde incantations (‘Arschkreicher’), buoyant pop fragments (‘Moontalk’) and estranged RnB (‘Jelly’). Restless and refusing to settle into pre-defined forms, Dust was one of the most ambitious records of 2017. – AS
After a 13 year hiatus, Errorsmith is back, and he’s bringing a kaleidoscope of wonderfully weird beat machinations in tow. From robot rap bass opener ‘Lightspeed’ through the ‘Township Funk’-esque title track to the techno skitscatskadoo of ‘My Party’, Superlative Fatigue is the opposite of tired hyperbolics. It’s a formidable and welcome return, sure to fuel booty shakes for many moons to come. – GH
A Flame My Love, A Frequency
(Thrill Jockey Records)
French multi-instrumentalist Colleen, whose Captain of None came in third on our favourite LPs of 2015 list, ascends to the top once more. This time she’s traded in her signature viola da gamba for Moog pedals, and Critter and Guitari synthesisers on A flame My Love, A Frequency. A suite of beautifully delicate electronics, its heart-rending eight-tracks feel like the score to an eighties Studio Ghibli aqua love story you never knew existed. – GH
5. Tom Hang
To Be Held In A Non Position
As much as any other on this list, To Be Held In A Non Position is an album that deserves to be listened to the whole way through. Sure, the LP has tracks which could top our favourite 12”s list if released as singles, especially seen in the glittering, celestial builds of ‘Everything Is Ending’ or the basement ready drum freakouts of ‘Love Song For A Hammer’. But dicing the LP up into bite-sized digestibles would defeat the point – in its entirety To Be Held In A Non Position transforms into something far greater than the mere sum of its parts.
Captured in a single take during a live performance, the sublimely ethereal ambient and drone explorations of Tom Hang (aka Lobster Theremin founder Jimmy Asquith) recall the work of master percussionist Midori Takada who shares an ability to stretch out a sound or a sample out into strikingly unexpected and emotive realms. For example: a crashing wave becomes pulled apart into a reverberating cymbal loop that assumes its upper echelons to morph into an incandescent wind chime.
That To Be Held In A Non Position culminates a year when Asquith’s label released over 30 quality dance records makes it even more impressive. – GH
4. Les Amazones D’Afrique
(Real World Records)
Few records blew our socks off on first listen quite like high-octane debut from all-female west African group Les Amazones D’Afrique. In the first instance, République Amazone is a protest record targeting the repression of women both on the continent and around the world – or as they said in a recent interview, “a love letter to men” – and one where the music is as powerful as the message.
Produced by Mbongwana Star affiliate Doctor L (Liam Farrell), it seamlessly crafts a contemporary sound from fragments of the region’s griot tradition, and welds them intuitively into syncopated synth-heavy funk and stack-rattling bass music. Quite possibly one of the most under-rated party records of the year, political or otherwise. – AS
3. Kendrick Lamar
(Top Dawg Entertainment)
Just over 50 years on from Dylan’s raucous middle finger at the folk faithful, and Kendrick’s gone electric. Though he garnered unwavering acclaim for the heavily politicised To Pimp A Butterfly, the Compton native opted to shun the whole ‘voice of the people’ tag, swerve the statesmanship, and deliver his most personal and powerful album to date. And while he may be keen to avoid the podium or pedestal, Kendrick certainly makes a statement with DAMN., an LP comprising of fourteen one word tracks (all Caps), concerned with the rapper’s history, legacy, and place within contemporary America. The rage which characterised To Pimp A Butterfly remains (most notably on hard hitting hood bangers ‘DNA’, ‘HUMBLE’, and ‘ELEMENT’) but the focus is shifted from societal prejudice to private beef and public criticism. Taking a more reflective stance, Kendrick explores the conflict between the material and spiritual, the connection between satisfaction and sin and the challenge to keep a firm hold on your identity in the face of self doubt.
Musically, DAMN. stands out as Kendrick’s most diverse, switching between the optimistic R&B of ‘LOYALTY’, ‘LOVE’ and ‘GOD’, the jazzy hip-hop of ‘FEEL’ and ‘FEAR’ and the rowdy trap of ‘DNA’ and ‘HUMBLE’. Elsewhere the psychedelic soul of ‘PRIDE’ and ‘LUST’ sounds like an unlikely studio encounter between Connan Mockasin, Sly Stone and Andre 3000, allowing a softly spoken Kendrick to deliver his most melodic verses to date. Lyrically, Kendrick reaffirms his standing as the greatest rapper of all time, tackling innovative rhyme schemes and utilising repetition and release on album stand outs ‘FEEL’ and ‘FEAR’, before closing the set with ‘DUCKWORTH’, the deepest story-song since Slick Rick was the ruler.
If you’re looking for a conscious listen to nod along to while you reorganise your collection of in-box sneakers, you’re out of luck. This isn’t a ‘good old days’ throwback to the golden age of snapbacks and backpacks, it’s an unapologetic embodiment of contemporary hip-hop, with all the production shout outs, A-list guest spots, and genre-blending beats. This is the sound of rap music in 2017, and it’s brilliant. – PR
2. Binker & Moses
Journey To The Mountain of Forever
Read Binker Golding’s superb guide to listening to John Coltrane and it’s clear this talented young saxophonist doesn’t take himself too seriously. But sorry mate, nothing excuses the Roger Dean-meets-Game Of Thrones gatefold that houses what is otherwise an extraordinary record from two of London’s young jazz innovators.
Heirs to the Coltrane sound (maybe the title could have been toned down too), the pair are just as content to groove in the pocket as soar to revelatory heights, as they do on the superb ‘Intoxication From The Jahvmonishi Leaves’. Both powerful and agile, Journey To The Mountain Of Forever is full of deep spiritual improvisations that belie the respective ages of its makers, and our favourite jazz record to emerge in what has been a breakthrough year for this young crop. – AS
Read our recent interview with Moses Boyd here.
Like many of the greatest romances between music lovers and their favourite albums, the realisation that you are head over heels with Process probably won’t hit you on the first, or even the fifth listen.
That’s not to say Sampha Sisay’s long-awaited debut LP – a subtle and intimate journey following the loss of his mother to cancer – won’t affect and surprise you from the start, because it will. Glimmers of his unique brilliance appear the whole way through, from the flip on opener ‘Plastic 100°C’ about 3 and a half minutes in, to the stripped back tribute ‘(No One Knows Me) Like the Piano’, and the hypnotically catchy snaps of ‘Under’.
And it is distinctly Sampha-esque that his debut album doesn’t shout for your attention, but reveals itself slowly. It’s a feeling echoed across all of the music he creates, be it as a solo artist or any number of collaborations, from an early SBTRKT guest spot back in 2011, to his work with Solange on our favourite LP of 2016, A Seat At The Table.
Though very much our album of the year in its own right, the other forms that Process took powerfully reaffirmed this sentiment. Joining forces with director Kahlil Joseph, he released a mesmerising film about the album that weaves its audio stems into a visual tapestry taking you from London to Sierra Leone and back again, illuminating how Sampha’s mother’s death inspired this heartbreaking love letter from child to parent.
Anyone who caught his live shows also witnessed Sampha breathing a different life into these songs; rare is the performer who can move thousands of people into such a collective state of silenced awe like he can.
After nearly a decade quietly shaping the face of music from the shadows, in 2017 the spotlight well and truly belongs to Sampha. – GH
Illustration by Patch D Keyes.
Sep012017| September 1, 2017
Our 100th mix is here and it’s a really special one.
At the controls is Icelandic musician Jóhann Jóhannsson, who has become one of the most sought after film composers of his generation. In his record bag is the work of one of the 20th century’s most influential musicians. From Yellow Magic Orchestra to the avant-garde electronics of his later albums, Sakamoto has reinvented himself time and again and remains a crucial touchstone for today’s young artists.
As if to make that point, Sakamoto’s latest album async has now been remixed by a stellar line-up of musicians, including Oneohtrix Point Never, Arca, Motion Graphics, and, of course, Jóhann Jóhannsson.
To mark the release, due on Milan Records on 8th September, and bring up a century of VF mixes, Jóhannsson has provided us with a stellar selection of music from across Sakamoto’s oeuvre. Dive in below.
1. Ryuichi Sakamoto – The Revenant OST
2. Alva Noto and Ryuichi Sakamoto – ‘Reverso’, Summvs
3. Ryuichi Sakamoto – Love is the Devil OST
4. Ryuichi Sakamoto – ‘Nostalgia’, Three
5. Ryuichi Sakamoto – The Last Emperor OST
6. Ryuichi Sakamoto – The Sheltering Sky OST
7. Ryuichi Sakamoto – ‘Zure’, Async
8. Ryuichi Sakamoto – ‘Gohatto’ (Piano Version)
9. Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto – ‘Iano’, Insen
10. Ryuichi Sakamoto – Pearl Harbor, Wild Palms OST
11. Ryuichi Sakamoto – Wild Palms Wild Palms OST
12. Ryuichi Sakamoto – Finale, Wild Palms OST
13. Ryuichi Sakamoto, Illuha and Taylor Deupree – Movement, 3, Perpetual
14. Ryuichi Sakamoto – Main Theme, Little Buddha OST
15. Ryuichi Sakamoto – Bibo no Aozora / Endless Flight, Babel OST
16. Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto – Duoon, Vrioon
Jul172017| July 17, 2017
A 1980s synth gem from one of Japan’s greatest.
New UK-label Lag Records are releasing the first reissue of ‘Neo-Plant’. A collaboration between Koharu Kisaragi and Japanese maestro musician // composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, ‘Neo-Plant’ was the only single released off of Kisaragi’s 都会の生活 (Tokai No Seikatsu) LP. The 1986 record follows Sakamoto’s time with electronic innovators Yellow Magic Orchestra.
A-side ‘Neo-Planet’ has echoes of Grace Jones’ ‘My Jamaican Guy’, through a YMO sieve, before LL Cool J put his spin on it. The flip is completely different. ‘Traumerei’ is a playful folk track – driven by Kisaragi’s vocals – in the vein of Yasuaki Shimizu, while ‘Tail’ is the love child of traditional Okinawan Ryukyuan music and minimal ’80s Nippon electronic blips and bops.
Marking new label Lag Records’ first release, the reissue was cut using the original master and is limited to 500 copies worldwide, with an insert that includes both English and Japanese lyrics.
‘Neo-Planet’ is out 30th October 2017. Head to their website to pre-order a copy now.
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Registered in England and Wales under no. 04184222.
16-18 Marshall Street
London W1F 7BE
Registered in England and Wales under no. 04184222.