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Recommended Albums: March 4th

by AdamTait
AdamTait
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on 04 March 2013 in Features

Quasamodo - 'Can't Hold Me Down EP'

8/10

From the incessant opening of the title track, the listener knows they are in for a fun ride with fast funk, horns and a playful rhythm that is both endearing and keeps the feet moving at a hundred miles per hour. With Thaliah adding her vocal talent, it further adds weight to the uplifting soulful beats. The man behind the music, Dimitri Nassios, has been a rising star with ridiculous talent for some time now and is well known in the funk world having released songs on the reputable Freestyle Records as Q Orchestra, as well as with Basement Freaks as Smokey Bandits. Whatever name he goes by, what is guaranteed is funk of the highest quality and usually numerous cameo casts from singers. ‘Change Is Strange’ is massive and the groove impeccably relentless with a charming old school pace to it that many have struggled to match in recent years. ‘Son of Shaft’ swaggers along with a head down confidence and is a masterpiece in pure funk beats. ‘Funkenstein’ completes the four-track EP with gusto and proves that this one man master is at the top of his game and can barely be touched by any of his peers. Thrillingly funky stuff!

- Alex Jackson

Suuns - 'Images Du Futur'

9/10

A raw, cavernously echoed guitar and squalls of feedback – half Jesus and Mary Chain, half Sonic Youth – careers from the speakers in the opening bars of ‘Powers of Ten’, heralding the launch of Suuns’ Images du Futur. Low-slung bass grooves that would be comfortable on any vaguely psych-hued or baggy-tinged indie release are given entirely different meanings when placed against swirling discord and Ben Shimie’s snarling Steve Albini-like vocals. Contrasts abound: the breezy surf tones of ‘Mirror Mirror’ are entwined with a trippier vibe and rent with blasts of feedback. ‘Edie’s Dream’ promises ‘a stark, skeletal boogie’, and delivers it, too, a slow-burning shimmer that meanders dreamily but feels anything but aimless. And herein lies the key to the album’s greatest achievement: simple songs are layered up until they’re much more than the sum of the parts – yet at the same time, they maintain their minimalism. And the band make it all sound so natural, so effortless. Imaginative, inventive and consistent, it’s an early contender for one of the albums of 2013.

- Christopher Nosnibor

Olafur Arnalds - 'For Now I Am Winter'

9/10

Ólafur Arnalds is a modern day classical composer who has been around for a number of years with a large back catalogue of releases put out by the record label Erased Tapes. For Now I Am Winter is Ólafur’s first venture on his new label Mercury Classics and his first on a major label. But the trend of emotive, well thought-out, captivating compositions is one that does not abate on For Now I Am Winter. Every subtle nuance is considered and methodical Ólafur is pushing boundaries that he himself has set with this new record. It also features Ólafur’s first arrangements that include a vocal element; this change adds a new flavour to the mix and one that works beautifully. Given Ólafur has already proven he has a winning formula when it comes to writing classical music he’s also shown he’s not one to back down from taking on new ventures either. For Now I Am Winter is an album, which showcases an artist hitting high notes once again and despite the changes made in order for this record to be released, the quality of Ólafur’s writing capability is showing no signs of fading and instead is even gaining in strength.

- Jamie Brooker

C2C - 'Tetra'

8/10

So far I've heard Tetra described by various people as a brilliantly infectious piece of big beat, and the biggest piece of repetitive, derivative bullshit to ever grace an iPod. To be honest, it’s hard to settle on one opinion of Tetra. The fact is that there’s more truth in the disparity between those two description than there is in either one of them as an accurate summing up pf the record. At times it feels genuinely great, with menacing, digital basslines writhing on to top of huge beats (‘Arcades’), or funked-out grooves and snappy lyrics coming together to create something with the easily likeable qualities of the best pop and the hearty, sturdy rhythms of funk and dance music (‘Genius’, ‘Together’). But at other times Tetra sounds plasticky and, admittedly, derivative. It seems to lean towards techno/electro repetition in the wrong ways at the wrong times. Part of the issue is that Tetra works as an album in a way that none of the tracks do individually. Listening to a lot of the tunes in isolation, you find yourself wondering how something so awful could’ve found its way on to your computer; it sounds like poor pop music trying hard to sound like dance music. But when you hear those same tracks in the context of the album they seem the perfectly selected components of a brilliantly crafted whole. Listening to Tetra from start to finish what stands out are the immensely enjoyable songs, the energising beats and the knack for turntablism that took the four French DJs to being DMC World Team DJ Champions four years in a row. As a first full-length production effort from four DJs is a terrific effort. Not only will there be people who don’t like this album, there’ll be people who hate it. But there’ll be more people who think it’s amazing.

- Adam Tait

Rhye - 'Woman'

8/10

Rhye aren’t the first band or artist to retain total anonymity for longer than one would think possible in this highly intrusive 21st century we find ourselves in, (Mercury nominated Burial had us baffled for years). However now that all the cloak and dagger shenanigans are out the way and we know the identity of the duo, Los Angeles based pair Robin Hannibal and Mike Milosh, the music and in particular their debut LP Woman can become the focus. Previous releases Open and The Fall kick things off strongly; both as sexy and smooth as they sounded last year. Vocalist Milosh’s voice is especially stunning on The Fall, it’s about as sultry and seductive as pop music gets. Elsewhere the duo manage to demonstrate they are just as astute at something with a funkier edge, standout 3 Days begins with a subtle harp performance before being transformed by incredibly addictive synths. Woman is a deeply affecting piece of work that explicitly details both the ecstasy and agony that inevitably accompany the record’s recurrent themes; those of love and sex. These beautifully dissected and potent lyrical themes combined with the timeless and soulful production result in perfectly structured, deep, emotional and entirely relevant pop record.

- Alex Walker

 

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