• 15 new albums to look out for in June

    By | June 6, 2018

    Next month’s wantlist.

    We’ve combed through the pre-orders, promos and release listings so that you don’t have to, showcasing a diverse selection of music from our favourite artists and labels, alongside newcomers we think you need to hear.

    Far from being doctrinal about it, we’ve extended June’s selection by five to capture just how much music we’re excited about this month. Expect dance floor mutations from Syclops, Martyn and Mutant Dance Beat, soulful musings from Kadhja Bonet and Sudan Archives, the spiritual awakenings of Kamasi Washington, Tenderlonious and Jimi Tenor, and a masterclass in ambient extroversion courtesy of Kate NV and the inimitable Jon Hassell.


    Hilary Woods

    Colt

    (Sacred Bones)

    Listen / Buy

    Due: 8th June

    From the moment we heard this Hilary Woods debut a few months ago, its inclusion was a given. The Dublin-born multi-instrumentalist channels the tender and assertive sound of Grouper and Lynch Collaborator Julee Cruise, weaving a sound world that is at once surreal and comforting – like finding a perverse joy in the depths of grief and loneliness.


    Jimi Tenor

    Order Of Nothingness

    (Philophon)

    Listen / Buy

    Due: 8th June

    Helsinki’s idiosyncratic multi-instrumentalist Jimi Tenor is something of a cult figure whose strains of wonky, jazz-inflected Afrobeat are beginning to sound very much like the Finish mushrooms he picks on his days off. With a CV that includes countless collaborations (not least with Tony Allen), here Tenor flits between a variety of horns and a shelved Extravoice keyboard to craft a record that blooms with psychedelic intensity and a wry playfulness that makes Connan Mockasin look positively earnest.


    Kadhja Bonet

    Childqueen

    (Fat Possum)

    Listen / Buy

    Due: 8th June

    Kadhja Bonet fuses soul and rnb vocals with classical and jazz-hued orchestrals in her second LP Childqueen. In the hands of a lesser singer the mix might verge on cloying, but not so with Bonet. If you’re in need of convincing, look no further than its first single ‘Delphine’, followed by ‘Mother Maybe’ with a sublime vocal breakdown at 3 minutes in, to wholly assuage you.


    Jon Hassell

    Listening To Pictures

    (Ndeya)

    Listen / Buy

    Due: 8th June

    Fourth World progenitor and legendary ambient musician, Jon Hassell launches his new Ndaya label with the release of his first record in nearly a decade. Apparently it is inspired by the process of vertical listening, which is “letting your inner ears scan up and down the sonic spectrum, asking what kind of “shapes” you’re seeing, then noticing how that picture morphs as the music moves through Time,” explains Hassell. If you’re rather confused by what that means exactly, you’re not alone. But with a record that sounds as beautiful as Listening To Pictures, no matter what direction it comes from we’re all ears.


    Tenderlonious

    The Shakedown ft. The 22archestra

    (22a)

    Listen / Buy

    Due: 15th June

    Cut in one single frantic 8-hour session during downtime at Abbey Road Studios, Tenderlonious’ debut proper has been teased in the last few months with a couple of tantalizing 7”s that have sold out in minutes. Alongside elements of his shape-shifting label house band (here including Yussef Dayes, Jean Bassa & more), Tenderlonious forges a record that fizzes with the speed and intuition of its creation, assimilating diverse influences like Yussef Lateef, Slum Village and Good Lookin’ Record without a moment to catch breath.


    Here Lies Man

    You Will Know Nothing

    (Riding Easy Records)

    Listen / Buy

    Due: 15th June

    A wild-card in last year’s favourite albums list, LA outfit Here Lies Man return with a second sucker-punch of distorted, psychedelic. The massive riffs remain, but it’s the rhythmic muscle bursting out from behind a wall of fuzzed-out psychedelic that really propels You Will Know Nothing to new realms.


    Syclops

    Pink Eye

    (Running Back // Bubbletease Communications)

    Listen / Buy

    Due: 15th June

    House pioneer Maurice Fulton is having one helluva year. Following the news that he’s produced a new collaborative 4×12″ series with Róisín Murphy, Fulton resurrects his experimental electro arm Syclops in fine fashion. Released digitally in the spring, Pink Eye gets a much deserved vinyl outing this June. Though less disco hued than I’ve Got My Eye On You, there are certified 100% rump shakers lying amidst these delightful weirdo musings.


    Leon Vynehall

    Nothing Is Still

    (Ninja Tune)

    Listen / Buy

    Due: 15th June

    Though technically his first full length album, Leon Vynehall has been releasing singular, instrumentally-led dance EPs (and medium-Ps) since 2012. If you’re unfamiliar, Music For The Uninvited with the essential ‘It’s Just (House of Dupree)’, Butterflies, Midnight on the Rainbow Road, and Rojus are must peeps, the kinds of records that thrill on first listen but absolutely get better with age. Inspired by photographs Vynehall discovered of his grandparents, Nothing Is Still takes his sounds away from formal dance floor machinations and into more ethereal – though no less impactful – terrain.


    Gang Gang Dance

    Kazuashita

    (4AD)

    Listen / Buy

    Due: 22nd June

    Absence doesn’t always make the heart grow fonder, but seven years on and news of Gang Gang Dance’s return has revived an awful lot of positive sentiment towards the experimental Brooklyn outfit. Lead track ‘Lotus’ already has the dreamy gravitas you’d expect from a comeback that deserves every bit of anticipation it’s receiving.


    Kamasi Washington

    Heaven & Earth

    (Young Turks)

    Listen / Buy

    Due: 22nd June

    How much grander can you go, Kamasi? The saxophonist who named his 3-LP debut The Epic, delivers his answer in the form of 150-minute Heaven & Earth LP this month, unloading a thunderous cascade of Black Jazz-esque spirituals and fevered improvisations across four discs. Like the second season of a Netflix show that has had its budget bumped off the back of rave ratings, Heaven & Earth is given a bombastic sonic upgrade thanks to the irrepressible chorus and orchestra on what promises to be an expansive addition to Kamasi’s canon. A massive effort, without doubt, but will somebody please find this man an editor?!


    Martyn

    Voids

    (Ostgut Ton)

    Listen / Buy

    Due: 22nd June

    Martyn’s signature post-dubstep meets UK garage sounds mixed with Nyabinghi, drum ‘n’ bass, and gqom, in fourth studio album Voids. Recorded in the wake of his recovery from a heart attack, unlike previous LPs, Voids doesn’t feature any guest appearances. Lucky for us, this solo outing leaves Martyn to explore his own percussive swings and roundabouts to the fullest – creating nine tracks that are filled with sheer rhythmic pizzazz, regardless of what genre you think they fall under.


    Sudan Archives

    Sink

    (Stones Throw)

    Listen / Buy

    Due: 22nd June

    Who knew the violin could sound so badass? Producer and vocalist Sudan Archives, that’s who. Given the love for her lauded debut self-titled EP, our favourite 12″ of 2017, the stakes (and anticipation) levels were high for what came next. With Sink, SA doesn’t fail to disappoint in the slightest. Weaving violin with electronics, North African influences and samples, she crafts six tracks that range from rnb ballads to the kinds of glitched-out beat explorations that’d make someone like Dilla proud. A stellar EP from one of the most unique and exciting new musicians we’ve heard (and seen) in time. A word to the wise: if you get a chance to see her live, don’t sleep.


    Binker & Moses

    Alive In The East?

    (Gearbox)

    Listen / Buy

    Due: 22nd June

    Almost bang on a year after the release of their album Journey To The Mountain of Forever – one of our favourite albums of 2017 – tenor saxophonist and drummer duo Binker & Moses are back. “A companion piece to Journey to the Mountain of Forever” and “full of vehement improvisation and shamanic spiritual free jazz trances”, its 10 tracks serve up heavy and hypnotic rhythms to suit all whims and fancies. Yazz to the continuing ascent of UK ‘jazz’.


    Kate NV

    для FOR

    (RVNG Intl.)

    Listen / Buy

    Due: 22nd June

    Although Kate NV’s RVNG Intl. debut is billed as a score to her native Moscow, it unfolds as though viewing the city in a petri dish – a magnificent, magnified symphony. Sharing some of Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith’s ability to bend electronic instrumentation into organic forms, like mutating microorganisms, для FOR is an intoxicating and inviting record that stands apart from the city to create a feeling of deep and utopian calm.


    Mutant Dance Beat

    Mutant Dance Beat

    (Rush Hour)

    Listen / Buy

    Due: 29th June

    You simply can’t call your outfit Mutant Dance Beat and expect people not to take notice. Traxx and Beau Wanzer bringing in Steve Summers for this 200-minute epic, that will be delivered across six records of varying formats (12”, 10” and 7”), and features what the label arresting calls “funky grooves, industrial soundscapes, nu age dancehouze, prototype disco dub, Detroit dirge, cryptic ankle bitter anthems and even a punk cover collaborating with members of LCD Soundsystem.” This one already sounds essential for those who like their dance floors on the gnarly side of respectable.

  • Editorial ear: Our favourite new music in April

    By | April 30, 2018

    From new music to reissues, radio shows and live performances, here’s what’s been moving the VF editorial team this month.

    Such is the size of the in-house team at VF that we rarely feel the need to put our names to things. After all, if you’ve been a fan of our round-ups, chances are you’ve read the words of either myself or Gabriela.

    So this month we’re changing things up a little, ditching our monthly round-ups in favour of something a little more personal in the form of a bite-size overview of everything myself and Gabriela have been moved by in the last four weeks.


    Anton Spice

    It’s hard to work at VF in April and not feel somewhat overshadowed by Record Store Day. And, in the interests of transparency, a full disclosure – I didn’t buy any records on Record Store Day, although WeWantSounds were kind enough to furnish the office sound system with two superb soundtracks in the form of Serge Gainsbourg’s Le Pacha and Dave Grusin’s The Friends Of Eddie Coyle.

    Records aside, it was a joy to cover RSD this year, with Phonica Records throwing another wonderful basement party (the streams of which you can watch here), while The Run Out in Peckham put on the off-RSD event of the day, keeping things local with label markets, limited dubplates and a line-up capped by a brain-frazzling live drone set from Coby Sey and Micachu.

    The latter also featured on one of my favourite new tracks this month, ‘What Can I See’, taken from saxophonist Ben Vince’s forthcoming album Assimilation A raking, glacial movement which has something of Arthur Russell’s World Of Echo about it, Vince’s tonal, textured playing provides a healthy antidote to the crisply, groove-based world of the UK’s current crop of dancefloor jazz rascals.

    Grasping backwards to first wave jazz dance, Brownswood followed up We Out Here by releasing Toshio Matsuura’s LOVEPLAYDANCE – 8 Scenes from The Floor at the end of April, placing the veteran DJ alongside the likes of Tom Skinner, Yussef Dayes, Yazz Ahmed and Nubya Garcia for a series of cover versions. While the motorik glory of ‘L.M. II’ stands out a mile, many of the headline covers left me feeling a little cold, like workouts that struggle to emerge from the shadow of their originals with anything like the personality these artists have brought to their own work.

    Speaking of cold… As the temperature drops back into single figures again, it’s hard to believe there were a few days in April when Duppy Gun’s Miro Tape was the only reasonable soundtrack – a mutant dancehall collab between Bokeh Versions’ Jay Glass Dubs, Seekersinternational and Abu Ama and the Duppy Gun Production House in Jamaica (founded by Sun Araw and M. Geddes Gengras). Rippling with electric energy, Miro Tape gets up in your face with an airhorn and it’s an exhilarating experience. I’ve been a fan of Bokeh Versions for the last few years and this truly cements its position as one of the most forward thinking labels in the UK today. ( A mention here also to Equiknoxx, who soundtracked Cecilia Bengolea’s performance at Palais de Tokyo earlier this month, set to be released on VF in due course…)

    On a different tip, we had the first taste of Optimo’s latest import in April, in the form of Sex Judas’ new album – a satirical disco project from Norway that’ll doubtless appeal to anyone who found Todd Terje’s capers a touch too saccharine. I’ve also revisited the new Arp Frique album on Rush Hour several times – particularly the melancholy afro-boogie of ‘Nos Magia’ – which is the stand-out track on a record that is stacked with dancefloor fodder, and features an intercontinental cast, from Carioca crooner Ed Motta to Nigerian disco originator Orlando Julius. In the month that Rush Hour also released Hunee’s Hunchin’ All Night compilation, The Colourful World of Arp Frique did the uncanny job of building the ethos of a border-hopping afro-disc DJ set into a live album.

    There were also first tastes of new material from Sudan Archives (we’ve made no secret of our admiration, with her debut EP last year’s #1 12″ on VF) and Anthony Joseph, who heralded his 6th album with one of his finest tracks to date – a lyrically dexterous exploration of the Caribbean diaspora from the London-based poet.

    In the quieter moments, there have been a few records that also resonated this month – particularly the galling realism of Daniel Blumberg’s Minus, which tackles the darkest corners of depression with a blunt numbness that recalls Mount Eerie’s grief stricken A Crow Looked At Me. It’s out on Mute in early May and is well worth tracking down. Grief also colours two new records we got a taste of this month – Tess Roby’s Beacon on Italians Do It Better, a shimmering Lynchian synth missive, which recalls the fringe ’80s pop of Linda Thompson – and Hilary Woods’ new album Colt, which is due on Scared Bones in June.

    Both provide a fitting segue to what has undoubtedly been my favourite reissue of the month, from Music From Memory. Like Bullion’s Pop Not Slop series, Uneven Paths: Deviant Pop From Europe 1980-1991 tracks the unheralded majesty of ’80s underground pop, as it dips in an around bo-ho jazz, art rock, new wave, and even acid house. Violet Eves, Pete Brandt’s Method, Sound On Sound, Ströer Duo – there’s so much to discover here, I suspect Uneven Paths will do for Europe what last year’s ground-breaking Outro Tempo did for Brazil. Both are reissues that challenge received narratives and re-write musical history, as any great compilation should.

    I also very much enjoyed Tompkins Square’s Entourage, collecting thirty instrumentals made by The Entourage Music and Theatre Ensemble between 1972 and 1977. There’s something very intuitive and unrestricted about the feel of this record, as the spiritual flourishes, and un-nerving camp-fire instrumentals unfold naturally within a minimalist structure that has both purpose and freedom to wander where it pleases. Recommended for anyone enchanted by Woo’s woozy tea-time miniatures, or a curiosity about where Four Tet gets some of his more obscure samples.

    Finally, the most impressive live events this month for me existed at two opposite ends of the spectrum – the raucous woodland punk-funk of Snapped Ankles, who cavorted like dosed wookies between, around and on top of the audience at Ghostnotes through a haze of driving motorik drums and psychedelic guitar licks – and Midori Takada’s theatre of minimalism, which enraptured the Union Chapel in secular homage to her gentle percussive rituals. I have a feeling the latter might have been something of a highlight for Gabriela too… – Anton Spice


    Gabriela Helfet

    Excitement fuelled by Japanese maestro Midori Takada reached a fever pitch this month, in both 2 and 3D forms. On the vinyl front, WRWTFWW announced that a long-awaited reissue of Takada’s rare 1981 MKWAJU Ensemble debut KI-Motion is on the way. A cause for celebration to all who have been patiently waiting for its return, myself included, in lieu of forking out an eye-watering £350+ to a Discogs shark for a mediocre copy.

    One week later, Takada’s celestial visions descended on London’s Union Chapel. A magical ode to rhythm with echoes of Noh theatre, the performance featured aforementioned MKWAJU music, Takada’s solo releases, percussive incantations, even an unassumingly affecting homage to a Coconut Tree. Only in the hands of Takada could the tropical coconut provider be turned into something so poetic…

    Whereas Takada drew all in attendance at Union Chapel into a collective state of awe, Kwake Bass’s monthly Balamii live show made me want to shimmy to and fro like a palm frond swaying in the breeze of Peckham’s Holdrons Arcade. I refrained myself to fervent head-bop meets toe tap, in the interest of it being early afternoon in broad daylight amongst a handful of people in the surrounding shops and whatnot. This episode featured a musician I was previously unaware of named Raven, laying down violin performances then sampling these instrumentals into mesmerising new sounds. Though still not online, it is 1000% worth keeping an eye out for; in the meantime you can check out past incarnations below. Also of note: Kwake Bass is dropping a new 12″ via his Done Studios collaborative label Dem1ns in June. Trust it will sell-out like wavy hot cakes, a lá the clothes.

    I won’t ask you to bust out a tiny (figurative) violin for me – there were many opportunities to get a dance floor freak on this month, with two of special mention.

    In early April, audio sherpa Charlie Bones returned to Total Refreshment Centre for his monthly Do You disco, with the most delightful and friendly crowd of attendees we’ve been surrounded by in time. As in his regular NTS shows, the tunes traversed everything from the essential (Larry Heard’s ‘Missing You’) to the sultry (Keysha’s ‘Stop It’) to the unexpected (Animal Collective’s ‘My Girls’), with requisite Sade thrown in for good measure. The tune that prompted a fervent id request though? The previously unknown, sweet sweet synth ascensions of Ghostwriters’ ‘Swizzle’, which also featured on Young Marco’s Dekmantel Selectors 002.

    The Selectors series was back in consciousness elsewhere, thanks to Lena Willikens’ 5th instalment. Described by Willikens as “a little trip through the dunes”, Selectors 005 largely features unreleased tracks that she has been playing, formed into a ‘set’ you might hear her deliver at Dekmantel’s festivals. The collection is a refreshing change from the the diggers rarities that populated previous iterations, with standouts from JASSS, Le Matin and towLie leading the way.

    Though Record Store Day was the subject of much ire (because every day is RSD and such), as per usual Phonica’s party was tops, with a stellar line-up that wasn’t revealed until the day of. Byron the Aquarius b2b Funkineven, and Peach b2b Jay were firm highlights, however there was one far and away favourite set, from man like KiNK.

    I’ve listened to it virtually every day since, on repeat via the video upload. KiNK’s vinyl-only power hour also included one of my favourite dance records of the month – Phil Kieran’s ‘Polyrhythmic’. A record that, when I heard it playing in Phonica, spurred me to hightail it back to the office like a crazed banshee for fear it might sell out in minutes. Needless to say it prompted similar elation this time around. File under: big time cowbell funk freakout jam.

    Taking your shakedowns out of the club and into your home, purveyor of d-floor delight Hunee released his Hunchin’ All Night triple vinyl compilation. Like his DJ sets, the collection has something to fit every mood from slung out dub chanting to horn-tooting Brazilian synth boogie and emotive xylophone-filled anthems, perfect for spring time wiling out no matter where you are.

    Speaking of Hunee favourites – though it was reissued in March, Pink Rhythm’s ‘Melodies of Love’ continued its heavy rotation through April, solidifying its position as an all-time great. In the words of Hunee, “imagine people all smiling, musically open, then the sun sets and you drop this track… I would never leave.” Neither would we. – Gabriela Helfet

  • Sudan Archives announces new EP on Stones Throw

    By | April 6, 2018

    The follow-up to our favourite 12″ of 2017.

    Singer, producer and violinist Sudan Archives will release her second EP Sink via Stones Throw in May.

    The follow-up her self-titled debut – our favourite in 2017Sink is heralded with new track ‘Nont For Sale’ which you can stream below.

    A unique blend of West African desert blues, syncopated violin riffs and future roots RnB, Archives describes the album as “inspired by my love of fluidity, movement of jellyfish and water,” moving freely between influences, eras and sounds.

    Last year, Sudan Archives also appeared in our short documentary inside the Stones Throw studio.

    Sudan Archives’ Sink is out on 25th May. Pre-order the single here and check out the artwork for ‘Nont For Sale’ and tracklist below.

    Tracklist:

    1. Sink
    2. Nont For Sale
    3. Pay Attention
    4. Mind Control
    5. Beautiful Mistake
    6. Escape

  • Our 20 favourite 12″s of 2017

    By | December 5, 2017

    From essential track IDs to crafted EPs.

    Having picked out our favourite 7″s and 10″s, we turn our attention to the 12″ in the second of our retrosepctive rundowns of the last twelve months.

    And just as 7″s no longer represent the year’s biggest chart hits, so has it been some time since 12″s were exclusively the domain of the dance floor.

    From the simple 2-track club banger to EPs that border on mini-albums, we’ve demanded that each 12″ offers something more than just an aggregation of the year’s best tracks.

    Some though, like Objekt, Denis Sulta and Bufiman do represent the year’s most urgent dance music, or in the case of Bicep, Four Tet and Nathan Fake distil new albums in more forms.

    This year, the 12″ has also been the friend of the UK’s burgeoning grassroots jazz movement, capturing the nascent scene as it grows and evolves, whether on Joe Armon-Jones & Maxwell Owin’s Idiom, Moses Boyd’s Absolute Zero or the improvised voyages of A.R.E. Project.

    And finally, the 12″ was also home to several beautifully crafted EPs, cementing concepts and musical ideas – from Fatima al Qadiri’s provocative sexual politics to LAPS’ DIY dancehall – that circumvent generic boundaries for something true to the musical diversity of 2017.

    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 50 favourite albums 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


    20. Bicep

    Glue EP

    (Ninja Tune)

    Listen / Buy

    Bicep may have dropped their long-awaited debut album, taking first place as the most track ID-requested producers of the year by a country mile in the process, but the audio pinnacle from this Belfast duo actually came in the form of their final release of 2017. The Glue EP delivered one of the LP’s finest cuts on the A-Side, plus fresh tracks which included the delightfully acid-tinged ‘DLR’ on the reverse. – GH


    19. Dazion

    Don’t Get Me Wrong

    (Second Circle)

    Listen / Buy

    This curveball dropped right at the start of 2017 and hasn’t left the record bag since. Lead track ‘Be A Man’ sashays across the dance floor with jasmin-infused disco pizzazz, lush synths and a belly-dance bassline underpinned by sharp-as-brass percussive shuffle. Things take a step down to Room 2 on ‘Rigola’, the groove staying in the pocket, with vibraphones to the fore. A triumph for the Music From Memory off-shoot that was heard far and wide this year. – AS


    18. Carla Dal Forno

    The Garden

    (Blackest Ever Black)

    Listen / Buy

    A VF favourite coming off the strength of last year’s debut full length You Know What Its Like and its accompanying singles, this year gave us four new cuts from Carla Dal Forno which made for more essential listening. An artist who sets out an alluring sound world of mysterious and uneasy pop music, The Garden carried on where her debut left off in its sparingly affective structures and ability to craft distinctive vocal hooks that work their way in with repeated listens. – JH


    17. Denis Sulta

    Nein Forteate EP

    (Sulta Selects)

    Listen / Buy

    Glasgow homebro Denis Sulta launched his own label with two choice EPs this year, the highlight of which was its inaugural release, Nein Forteate, featuring ‘Dubelle Oh XX (JVIP)’. The kind of synthy club anthem that Sulta is rightly becoming known for, its greatness lies about 3 and a half minutes in, when the track, seemingly at its peak, suddenly cuts out… Is it a mistake, a DJ faux pas, a power problemo? Nah. It’s Sulta bringing in a silky smooth “ohhhh yeah” vocal, before dropping the ole hook in back again to maximum effect. – GH


    16. Beatrice Dillon & Call Super

    ‘Inkjet / Fluo’

    (Hessle Audio)

    Listen / Buy

    One of our favourite collaborations of the year also appears on one of our favourite labels in sweet symbiosis, as Beatrice Dillon unites with Call Super for this Hessle Audio affair. As with many of the 12”s gracing this year’s list, the A-Side ‘Inkjet’ is a legit slice of aqua electronics, but it’s the flip – ‘Fluo’ – that we’ve been rinsing since it dropped. A soundtrack for the robot takeover to come, with Blade Runner-esque dial tones making way for exquisite saxxy breakdowns midway through. Proof, if ever you needed it, that no B-side should be left unturned. – GH


    15. Avalon Emerson

    Whities 013

    (Whities)

    Listen / Buy

    Avalon Emerson returns to Whities for the follow-up to her Narcissus in Retrograde EP – one of our favourite 12”s of 2016 – on a different, but no less excellent, tip. With this catchy double-dose, she continues her well deserved ascent as one of the most exciting producers around: ‘One More Fluorescent Rush’ serves glitchy, spaced out feels, before ‘Finally Some Common Ground’ takes off on a Soichi Terada-esque, one-way trip to the intergalactic mothership. – GH


    14. Four Tet

    ‘SW9 9SL / Planet’

    (Text Records)

    Listen / Buy

    Aside from a couple of split 12”s last year, 2017 marked something of a return to the prolific output we’ve come to expect from Kieran Hebden, releasing a handful of 12”s, a load of material via multiple Spotify aliases, some brilliant remixes, the year’s most ID’d edit ‘Question’, and a new full-length infamously made using just a laptop and a view over some unspectacular woodland. Thankfully, the album’s two stand-out tracks were also collected on this limited 12”. Propulsive, melodic dance music for the headphones or the dance floor, ‘Planet’ is Four Tet’s finest since There Is Love In You. – AS


    13. Craven Faults

    Netherfield Works

    (Lowfold Works)

    Listen / Buy

    Elusive, evasive, but delivered with unerring authority, Craven Faults is one of this year’s wildcards. Arriving on a mysterious label with a soaring two-track EP of airborne krautrock, Netherfield Works pays its dues to ’70s Düsseldorf and the San Francisco Tape Music Centre and casts them to the English winds, forging two sprawling tracks from within a nest of patch cables in an old Yorkshire textile mill. A modular synth record that, like recent works by Kaityln Aurelia Smith seems to shed its machined origins to become something altogether more organic, Netherfield Works overflows across two sixteen minute tracks that will appeal to fans of Cluster, Steve Reich and the like. – AS


    12. Fatima Al Quadiri

    Shaneera

    (Hyperdub)

    Listen / Buy

    Few EPs set out to challenge norms and hegemonies like Fatima Al Qadiri’s Shaneera, which riffs on the English mispronunciation of the Arabic word for “outrageous, nefarious, hideous, major and foul.” Reconstructing snippets of Grindr chats, online drag and femme comedy skits, and Iraqi proverbs into a hybrid vernacular built from Kuwaiti and Egyptian Arabic, Shaneera is an intoxicating listen – all menacing dubbed-out electronic arrangements – and a self-confessed “love letter to evil and benevolent queens around the world.” – AS


    11. Bufiman

    ‘Peace Moves’

    (Dekmantel)

    Listen / Buy

    Dekmantel celebrated a decade as a champion of left-field, dance floor meditations by delivering its strongest year yet, hosting an annual sell-out festival in Holland, a smaller soiree in Croatia, and releasing some of the label’s finest music along the way, including Dekmantel 10 Years 04 EP and Juju & Jordash’s Sis-Boom-Bah LP. However, it was Bufiman aka Wolf Muhler’s Peace Moves EP that best represented the weird af and wonderfully off-kilter sonics which have come to define the Dutch imprint. A seemingly bizarre combination of growling vocals and cranky, bent out of shape jack-in-the-box effects that sounds so wrong it’s right. – GH


    10. Moses Boyd

    Absolute Zero

    (The Vinyl Factory / Exodus)

    Listen / Buy

    Drummer and producer Moses Boyd exploded into the wider musical consciousness with ‘Rye Lane Shuffle’ in 2016, and this EP, co-released between VF and his own Exodus imprint, was his much-anticipated follow up. Ditching the horn stabs for shimmering krauty synths, Absolute Zero was born out of Boyd’s solo live shows but has since been reintegrated into the Exodus band with which he has sold out the likes of Corsica Studios and Jazz Café this year. Underpinned by his live-wire drum sound, this EP swells with a restless ease, referencing influences as broad as grime, ambient and hip-hop, rooting this new jazz mode in an urban context. One of the year’s breakthrough artists, expect to hear much more of Moses in the coming months. As objective as we can possibly be, the soft-touch laminate artwork by Optigram may also make this one of our favourite sleeves of the year. – AS


    9. Agnes Obel

    ‘Stretch Your Eyes (Quiet Village Remix)’

    (Phonica Special Editions)

    Listen / Buy

    You don’t need us to tell you how great it is to share a building with a record shop, let alone one as consistently on point as Phonica. So when manager Simon Rigg called us into his office one afternoon last summer with news of an extra special 12” on one of the shop’s in-house imprints we knew it was going to be good. Here Quiet Village pull apart Danish singer Agnes Obel’s ‘Stretch Your Eyes’ into a dark and dubby chorale, backed by an eerie a cappella imbued with the same haunting longevity of Massive Attack’s ‘Teardrops’. – AS


    8. SW. / SVN

    ‘Sued 18’

    (SUED)

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    Who needs things like track names when the music can do the talking? Not SW. that’s who. The producer follows up a close-to-perfect 2016 LP (appropriately called The Album) to team up with SUED co-founder SVN. SUED 18 kicks off with Pepe Bradock-esque house heaviness on the A-Side, plus a knockout, subdued techno ride on the reverse. – GH


    7. Floating Points

    ‘Ratio (Deconstructed Mixes)’

    (Pluto Records)

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    Though Floating Points debuted versions of the slow-rolling, emotional synth-filled ‘Ratio’ via live shows and DJ sets last year, it finally saw a long-awaited official release this October. Well worth the wait, ‘Ratio’ is a shimmering number that harkens back to Floating Points’ supreme ‘Myrtle Avenue’ and ‘ARP3’ fare. And though it may seem like a mere sales gimmick to release the track in ‘deconstructed’ parts, as he did on the B-side, it’s not. If you caught his live set this year, this seemingly fractured 12″ actually makes perfect sense because no live version of ‘Ratio’ was identical. An exciting hint that the best of his new material is yet come. – GH


    6. Joe Armon-Jones & Maxwell Owin

    Idiom

    (YAM Records)

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    A record that captures the jazz routes and roots coursing through London at the moment, tying together the convergent legacies of broken beat, house, 2-step and fusion that having been coalescing south of the river for some time. Aside from being assembled from a quintet of fiercely accomplished musicians (Armon-Jones & Owin are joined here by Nubya Garcia, Oscar Jerome and Jake Long), Idiom is a refreshingly playful record that never takes itself too seriously. With discrete improvisations woven into the fabric of each track, Idiom is greater than the sum of its parts, and a testament to the community that has helped elevate it. – AS


    5. Nathan Fake

    Providence Reworks – Part I

    (Ninja Tune)

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    A primer on how a track, in this case Nathan Fake’s ‘DEGREELESSNESSS’ from his Providence LP, can be turned into (two times the) greatness, thanks to formidable edits. A-Side sees Overmono assuming the rework duties to craft one of the anthems of 2017’s festival season, teasing out the most euphoric moments of ‘DEGREELESSNESS’ across seven and half minutes. Meanwhile, a no less worthy of rotation revamp from Huerco S brings a psychedelic, Middle Eastern-hued séance to send you into a zen-filled trance. – GH


    4. LAPS

    Who Me?

    (MIC)

    Listen / Buy

    LAPS are Ladies As Pimps, the Glasgow duo and Golden Teacher affiliates forging an industrial dancehall sound that’s unlike anything else we heard this year. If there’s one big hit here it would be title track ‘Who Me?’, which finds a sweet spot between the sensual, the confrontational and the surreal we had no idea existed. It’s a trick ‘Edges’ manages too, before rounding off the EP with the fragmented “pyjama house” of ‘Lady Bug’. A charismatic record that pulls no punches, and a fine first foray into new music for 2017 label newcomer MIC. – AS


    3. Objekt

    Objekt #4

    (Objekt)

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    If in January someone had told us one of the biggest tracks of the year would be a slowed-down two-step garage beat-meets-techno superjam, we would have been rather confused about what the year held in store. But so it was. TJ Hertz’s first release since 2014, a 12” on the club-focused white label series under his Objekt alias, stormed dance floors far and wide thanks to its unexpected B-Side. ‘Theme From Q’ is the kind of track that works in sets of all shapes, speeds and sizes, because it’s just that great. – GH


    2. Hieroglyphic Being, Sarathy Korwar & Shabaka Hutchings

    A.R.E. Project EP

    (Technicolour)

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    Arguably one of the UK’s most prolific and inspiringly creative musicians, Shabaka Hutchings leant his saxophone touch to a number of contenders for our favourite releases of the year, including the Comet Is Coming’s psychedelic jazz 12” Death To The Planet 12”. That said, A.R.E. Project, a unique and forward-thinking, improvised collaboration between Hutchings, Hieroglyphic Being and Sarathy Korwar was the obvious choice. Captured during a completely live, two hour performance aboard a studio moored inside a ship along the Thames, the EP sees cosmic sax merging with Indonesian folk music and space-age electronics for a truly one-of-a-kind result. – GH


    1. Sudan Archives

    Sudan Archives

    (Stones Throw)

    Listen / Buy

    One of this year’s most enchanting debuts came from violinist, producer and vocalist Sudan Archives, whose self-titled EP on Stones Throw takes the award for our favourite 12” of 2017. Channelling the bedroom RnB production that sustained her early forays into music into an outward-looking hybrid sound, Archives draws as much on North African melodies and instrumentation as Stones Throw’s storied left-field hip-hop tradition.

    A self-taught violinist, she weaves finger picking rhythms into the fabric of her productions, and uses its sawing melancholy to lend a gorgeous nostalgia to each song. And while ‘Come Meh Way’ might be the track you’ll have heard most, ‘Oatmeal’ and ‘Goldencity’ exude the same singular clarity, marking out a route between the percussive, earthy RnB of opening track ‘Paid’ and the syncopated folk musings of final track ‘Wake up’. A modest record, both utterly new yet uncannily familiar, we revisited this EP time and again this year, and can’t wait to hear what comes next. – AS


    Illustration by Patch D Keyes.

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