Albums

€9.59

Electro - Released March 29, 2019 | Touch

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
Christian Fennesz made Agora in his flat after losing access to his proper studio. He recorded everything through headphones, and didn't go through the trouble of connecting every piece of equipment he owned. Understandably, the result isn't quite as intricately detailed as previous works like Venice or Bécs, but it brings to mind Moodymann's famous dictum that "it ain't what you got, it's what you do with what you have." These four compositions have a hazy quality which most likely would have been scrubbed away in a state-of-the-art studio, and they feel much more exploratory than his usual studio work, edging toward the improvisational spirit of his live performances and collaborations. Opening piece "In My Room" continues in the lineage of Fennesz's previous allusions to the Beach Boys, including his abstract "cover" of "Don't Talk (Put Your Head on My Shoulder)," and of course his 2001 masterpiece Endless Summer. Sounding as isolated and reflective as its title, the piece consists of softly vibrating static waves and filtered noise sweeps, resembling a very tranquil space probe. "Rainfall" and "We Trigger the Sun" have a bit more of a rhythmic underpinning, although it's still closer to waves than pronounced drum beats. "Rainfall" begins with a slower section graced by shoegaze-like swirling guitar as well as soft, blurry vocals. The second half has more of a rapid flickering, almost like a fast-forwarding compact disc, yet this sense of forward momentum still feels a bit obscured by nebulous droning. "We Trigger the Sun" is filled with lush, glowing organ-like tones, and seems to hint at Endless Summer's pop-influenced melodies, but at a much more sprawled-out pace. The unpolished feel of Agora is a bit striking for a Fennesz release, but it's clearly just as carefully considered as his other albums, and makes a welcome addition to his catalog. ~ Paul Simpson
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Ambient - Released September 28, 2018 | kranky

Hi-Res Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
Tim Hecker recorded most of Konoyo in Japan, working with members of the gagaku ensemble Tokyo Gakuso, who play a variety of traditional wind and percussion instruments. Hecker's previous album, Love Streams, featured vocals by an Icelandic choir, who sang in a nonsensical language and were twisted into bizarre, alien forms. Hecker does similar business with the gagaku ensemble on Konoyo, sometimes rendering the source material nearly unrecognizable, letting it seep through the mix in subtle ways. The album is informed by ideas of negative space, and there's certainly more of a sense of restraint here compared to other Hecker releases, and not as much charred feedback. That said, there's still an enormous amount of detail to these highly immersive sonic constructions. Opening with distressed siren-like tones which slowly swoop down, "This Life" features woozy clusters of notes which bring to mind Arca's melodies, with frayed distortion bubbling up and swerving around, as well as a tangible sense of things being physically pushed and pulled. The acoustic instruments are much clearer on "In Death Valley," which has delicately plucked strings and knocking drums joined by the sideways thud of Hecker's scattered, crystalline synths. Tracks such as "Keyed Out" are punctuated with high-frequency whistling from instruments such as the ryuteki and the shō. These tones can seem disarming at first, but they contribute to the urgency of the music, in addition to feeling like glimpses into a distant past. Konoyo takes several listens to fully appreciate, as do most Hecker releases, but it's another excellent example of the distinct mixture of bleakness and majesty which he excels at creating. ~ Paul Simpson
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Electro - Released June 15, 2018 | Transgressive

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
SOPHIE is one of those artists who inspire fascination right away, as much thanks to the mystery of their personality as the ineffable quality of their sound. We first met her in 2006 on the London label PC Music, and Samuel Long (SOPHIE's real name) was already producing music that was stranger than the output of all the rest of that crew (which is saying something). Her first official sally, Product from 2015, already presented the basics of her musical world, with a side of chiptune, and a dash of kawaii. With a smooth production wrapped in latex, spacey sounds and completely aseptic vocals, the like had never been heard; you'd think you were on a dancefloor, suffocating in a too-tight Batman costume. While the overpoweringly cheesy pop is a crucial component of the "SOPHIE sound", it is completed by an unexpected, metallic, glacial electro with a lightsaber thrum. Unique, bizarre, extreme, uncompromising, sincere... These are words that come to mind when trying to describe SOPHIE's music in an article in the specialist music press, where people are asking the question:  "Is this the future of electro? That's reasonable when you think of the artists who have made use of her services (Madonna, Charli XCX, Vince Staples, Cashmere Cat…). And, as everyone scrutinised her first album, she took off on a tangent, delivering this protean and inclassifiable record: challenging from the off, twisting in the middle with a long ambient passage, and classic PC music to finish. No, this album is not easily accessible. It could even put listeners off, given the way that it kicks against convention, as a certain Icelandic woman did twenty years ago. But isn't that the point of art? And the mark of great artists? © Sylvain Di Cristo/Qobuz
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Electro - Released May 4, 2018 | Domino Recording Co

Hi-Res Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
Singularity is the proper follow-up to Jon Hopkins' 2013 breakthrough Immunity, a spellbinding album of highly intricate, glitchy techno which nevertheless felt organic, and even classical at times. Like that album, Singularity is filled with frayed feedback, skillfully crafted beats, and gentle piano melodies, as well as the occasional breathy vocals. This time out, there seems to be an extra shot of adrenaline added, and the album seems to reflect a deeper spiritual quest, both inwards and outwards. Hopkins still writes lengthy tracks which steadily build, but these are more suspenseful, and there's a greater impact when a heavier beat drops or a more transcendent synth tone emerges during the second half of cuts like "Singularity" and "Neon Pattern Drum." First single "Emerald Rush" progresses from a heartbeat-like pulse, lightly swirling arpeggios, and stark piano notes to a slow, jagged thump of a beat, which feels jarring when it finally kicks in. As additional sounds pour in, the intensity increases, making the track feel like it's speeding up a bit, even though it isn't. Ten-minute epic "Everything Connected" is easily one of Hopkins' most "progressive" tracks yet, with an ambient/shoegaze shimmer floating over its shaky rhythm, which seems like the only thing preventing the track from ascending to the heavens. Hopkins expands on this celestial state with the beatless "Feel First Life," which spotlights the London Voices choir. "Luminous Beings," the album's lengthiest track, begins with anxious static and suspicious murmurings, but soon reaches clarity, with a simple, resonating triplet melody leading toward peace of mind for much of the piece. The sparse, pretty piano comedown "Recovery" is an entirely fitting conclusion to such a deeply introspective journey. As striking as Immunity was, Singularity feels more developed, and it's ultimately a tough call as to which album is more exciting. ~ Paul Simpson
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Electro - Released February 17, 2018 | Other People

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
Few people, even among Nicolas Jaar’s fans, know that it’s actually the American-Chilean who is behind the alias A.A.L. (Against All Logic). This project, the “club” alter ego of one of the most acclaimed electronic artists of the last few years, is reminiscent of the deep house and four-on-the-floor style of his beginnings on the label Wolf + Lamb – before his experimental faze –, in which he released in 2010 one of his classics, the hit Time for Us / Mi Mujer. Good news for his nostalgic fans! 2012 - 2017 is a compilation of previously unreleased titles and is to this day the largest track collection released by Nicolas Jaar under this A.A.L. alias. And as it is often the case with the fiercely independent artist, the result is both a total surprise and a great success. Between two genuflections, kicks, synthesiser filters and old gospel samples, it will undoubtedly remind connoisseurs of the mysterious tracks Jaar has been performing in his live shows for years that have become an unavoidable topic of discussion, with the remaining question: how can we get them? © Sylvain Di Cristo / Qobuz
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New Age - Released November 3, 2017 | Empire of Signs

Hi-Res Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
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Ash

Electro - Released September 29, 2017 | XL Recordings

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Pitchfork: Best New Music
Everyone knows the English language. Fewer people are familiar with Yoruba… Thanks to Ibeyi’s first eponymous album released at the beginning of 2015, most people have been able to discover or rediscover this African language imported into Cuba in the 17th Century by slaves coming from the country that is now Nigeria. Ibeyi is the name of this duo led by two French Cuban twins of Venezuelan descent who shape a beautiful soul music, both driven and spiritual. Therefore they sing in Yoruba, but also in English and in Spanish. After offering large sections of melancholy that they sometimes transform into percussive hymns, Naomi and Lisa-Kaindé Diaz continue with Ash to mix music from their Afro-Cuban heritage (their father was none other than Anga Diaz, the drummer from the band Irakere) and from their own time, from electro to rap to pop. It’s a blending that they also apply to instruments, whether acoustic, electric or even electronic. Ibeyi even has some fun with Auto-Tune here! Finally, it’s worth noting that this second album is also a confluence of people with good taste, as we cross paths with the atypical Canadian pianist Chilly Gonzales, the furious Californian saxophonist Kamasi Washington, the bass player Meshell Ndegeocello and the Spanish rapper Mala Rodriguez. © MD/Qobuz
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Electro - Released September 1, 2017 | DFA Records - Columbia

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Pitchfork: Best New Music - Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik
LCD isn't dead! After having solemnly interred his group at a farewell concert in April 2011 in Madison Square Garden in his native New York, James Murphy has reawakened the beast, six years later, with American Dream. Dressed up like a twenty-first century David Byrne (striking on Other Voices, whose chorus sounds like classic-era Talking Heads), the leader and his motley crew have brought out a fourth album organised around blends of rock, punk, funk and electro. This album is LCD Soundsystem through and through, with more classic songs (Call the Police, an interesting meeting of David Bowie and U2), and fewer purely dancefloor numbers (Other Voices will get you up and dancing all the same) Talking Heads, then, as ever: but also Berlin-era Bowie (Change Yr Mind and Black Screen), as James Murphy's other major influence. A whisker off a half-century old, he didn't need to reinvent LCD Soundsystem - but rather, to bring their unique sound into bloom: to enshrine this music which he has sculpted since the mid-2000s, blending punk swagger, electro sounds, new wave gloom, the hedonism of dance, and the weight of the political context of the moment. © MD/Qobuz
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Electro - Released May 19, 2017 | Planet Mu Records Ltd.

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
The unexpected but wholly deserved shower of acclaim over Dark Energy, the debut full-length by Gary, Indiana-based producer Jlin, resulted in one of electronic music's most inspiring success stories of the mid-2010s. Jerrilynn Patton created the album over the course of several years in between working shifts at a steel mill, taking the tense, aggressive Chicago footwork sound pioneered by producers like RP Boo, DJ Rashad, and Traxman into darker, more personal territory, motivated by fear, anger, and depression. After Dark Energy appeared on numerous year-end album lists, Patton quit her day job in order to focus on writing and performing music, feeling that there were far more opportunities waiting for her outside of the steel mill. Black Origami demonstrates the astonishing amount of growth that has occurred in the two years since Patton's debut; in fact, she no longer considers herself part of the footwork genre. Her production style is so much more intricate and knotty this time around, and while it's still highly intense, it's more cerebral than aggressive. There's a sense of spaciousness here, and the presence of a collaboration with ambient composer William Basinski therefore makes more sense than it might originally seem. While Dark Energy still had enough booming bass to serve as a soundtrack for the dance battles traditionally associated with footwork, Black Origami is much more fluid and delicate, and informed by ballet and contemporary dance in addition to more club-oriented dance styles. Patton has collaborated extensively with Bangalore, India-based choreographer Avril Stormy Unger, and had announced plans to work with award-winning British choreographer Wayne McGregor on a stage production titled Autobiography. An expansive, globally conscious perspective and ambition inform all of the album's tracks, which are constructed from a multitude of percussive sounds, instruments, and voices. These range from marching band drum lines to djembes to nearly operatic vocal samples. While still somewhat dark and sinister, some of these tracks sound festive compared to Patton's earlier material; one could imagine Omar Souleyman singing over "Kyanite." There's also a devilish playfulness to "1%," Patton's second collaboration with Holly Herndon, which is filled with phone messages and samples proclaiming "You're all going to die down here" and "This is an emergency," along with sirens and punishing bass bursts. "Never Created, Never Destroyed" is the most overtly hip-hop-sounding Jlin track to date, with mutated trap-like beats and the chopped vocals of South African MC Dope Saint Jude. In comparison to another dense, dizzying Planet Mu release, Black Origami seems poised to gain an audience far outside the footwork circle the way Venetian Snares' Rossz Csillag Alatt Született has become the most well-known work to originate from the breakcore scene. Black Origami is a monumental achievement, yet it still seems like Jlin is just getting started. ~ Paul Simpson
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Electro - Released April 7, 2017 | XL Recordings

Hi-Res Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
Self-titled albums often mean an artist is making a definitive statement, and Arca is a prime example: Alejandro Ghersi's third album as Arca is by far his most revealing, putting his voice, and the beauty of his music, at the forefront in a new and often stunning way. Considering how often electronic producers rely on others to provide vocals for their music, it's remarkable that Ghersi not only sings, but sings so well. On "Anoche," his voice is equally powerful and delicate, sweeping across its full range on what sounds like a traditional Venezuelan folk song given a radical electronic arrangement; the juxtaposition of his soaring vocals with crunching beats rivals Ghersi's collaborator Björk at her most affecting. On the stripped-down "Sin Rumbo," which first appeared on the mixtape Entranas, he swings from an impressive falsetto to richer tones that recall Anohni. Elsewhere, Ghersi reaches back to his synth pop project Nuuro, filtering it through Arca's experimental lens on highlights such as "Desafio" and "Reverie," both of which sound like excerpts from a futuristic opera. To make room for his voice, Ghersi trades some of his music's mechanical precision and noise for a more open approach. Where many of his previous releases were claustrophobically packed with ideas, Arca explores the drama of wide-open spaces, letting elements of his music flow and crash into each other on tracks like "Castration," where metallic synths duke it out with a haunting piano melody. Later, he returns to the physical quality of his earlier work: "Saunter"'s strut lives up to its name, but there's a welling sadness in its wobbling synths, as if the track could stumble at any moment. And lest anyone think Ghersi has gotten too soft, "Whip" pairs a wildly ricocheting rhythm with lumbering drones. More often than not, though, Arca's songs are joined -- if not exactly grounded -- by their emotional impact. The melodic melancholy that bubbled under on Xen swells to the surface on the gently beckoning "Fugaces" and "Coraje," which blankets Ghersi's vocals in luminous electronics. The ominous undercurrent of Arca's work is never far away, though. Few things are as terrifying as revealing one's self completely, and Ghersi telegraphs this with "Piel"'s fearsome synths and the dark, lumbering finale, "Child," which plays like the summation -- and roots -- of the album's turbulent emotions. As always, Ghersi pushes his boundaries on Arca, and the vulnerability he displays makes it some of his most exciting and moving music yet. ~ Heather Phares
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Electro - Released April 7, 2017 | XL Recordings

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
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Electro - Released February 17, 2017 | RVNG Intl.

Hi-Res Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
For their debut album as Visible Cloaks, Spencer Doran and Ryan Carlile produce sparkling, holographic tone poems that utilize generative processes and MIDI. The music is heavily inspired by early new age music, '80s Japanese artists like Mariah, and pretty much anything that fits under the "fourth world" umbrella. The pieces are generally short (only a few are over five minutes), and they're actually quite busy -- there might even be too much going on for this to really be considered true ambient music. Yet it still registers as a soundtrack for relaxation; it's incredibly easy to lie down and float away to this album. The music rewards heavy concentration, however, and headphones are highly recommended in order to absorb everything that's going on here. The pieces generally consist of soft, bubbly, rippling tones, as well as digital approximations of mallet percussion, woodwinds, and other instruments. On a few tracks, there's gentle computerized singing, and at other points (such as "Mask") there are fluttering, buzzing sounds that seem to imitate birds, insects, and other natural beings. Some moments are glitchy, but not in an abrasive way (although the sharp, sudden sweep in the middle of the Motion Graphics-featuring "Terrazzo" might shock you if you aren't prepared for it). Miyako Koda of cult Japanese art pop duo Dip in the Pool guests on two versions of "Valve." The first features sporadic spoken words, and is interesting, but the bonus "Revisited" version (co-credited to Dip in the Pool proper, as Tatsuji Kimura co-wrote it) is a truly lovely ambient pop song. Matt Carlson of Golden Retriever contributes to the slippery, vocal-centered "Neume." The album is intriguing and accessible, yet just strange enough to stand out among all the other experimental electronic artists mining the early new age era for inspiration. ~ Paul Simpson
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Electro - Released February 3, 2017 | Young Turks Recordings

Hi-Res Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
The categorically elusive Sampha arrived in 2010 with a co-headlined SBTRKT collaboration and a solo EP, then became known more for supporting roles as a songwriter, producer, vocalist, and keyboardist. After he recorded with fellow Brits Lil Silva and Jessie Ware, his commercial presence was magnified by Drake, whose Nothing Was the Same featured him on a couple tracks. Within a few years, Sampha had collected credits on works by a slew of mainstream artists, including Beyoncé, Kanye West, Frank Ocean, and Solange, as he assisted comparatively marginal but significant figures like FKA Twigs and Bullion. He also inched toward the completion of Process, an artful and accessible debut full-length. Admirably, the album is without opportunistic reciprocal collaborations, unless one inconspicuous Kanye West co-composition counts. It's largely a solitary and intensely personal effort, co-produced by Rodaidh McDonald, ranging from placid piano ballads to urgent electro-soul. All the narratives, expressed in anguished, repentant, and haunted terms, befit a voice that always sounds as if it's on the brink of choking back tears. Sampha's vocals can be an acquired taste, but they're instantly identifiable and heartfelt. They're all the more compelling when detailing interpersonal ruptures, drawing imagery like "I took the shape of a letter, slipped myself underneath your door," or in a state of agitation, "gasping for air." The album reaches its most stirring point in "Kora Sings," built on an alternately serene and jittery production, over which Sampha sings to his dying mother, trailing off after "You don't know how strong you are." None of it is particularly light. Sampha's exquisite melodies and detailed productions nonetheless make all the references to longing, disturbed sleep, injurious heat, and shattered glass go down easy. "Reverse Faults," sparkling low-profile trap with a dizzying combination of smeared glints and jutting background vocals, might be the best display of Sampha's skill set. Another marvel is the hurtling, breakbeat-propelled "Blood on Me," its last 40 seconds juiced with some of the nastiest synthesized bass since Alexander O'Neal's "Fake." In a way, this all makes the previous output seem merely preliminary. ~ Andy Kellman
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Electro - Released February 3, 2017 | Young Turks Recordings

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
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Electro - Released September 30, 2016 | Other People

Booklet Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
Sirens, the third album from Nicolas Jaar, falls somewhere between the contemplative microhouse of first album Space Is Only Noise (2011) and the glossier follow-up Pomegranates (2015). Introduced with the haunting 11-minute track "Killing Time," Jaar integrates new elements into his sound, from the synth pop of "Three Sides of Nazareth" to the jungle of "The Governor." The continuous presence of vocals makes it Jaar's most emotional work yet, opening the door to a wider audience. ~ Rovi Staff
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Electro - Released September 16, 2016 | RVNG Intl.

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
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Electro - Released May 6, 2016 | Polydor Records

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Pitchfork: Best New Music
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Electro - Released May 5, 2016 | Polydor Records

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
Little was heard from James Blake throughout an almost three-year period that followed Overgrown, his second straight Top Ten U.K. album. He appeared on an Airhead track and released a 12" on his 1-800-Dinosaur label, yet it wasn't until February 2016, during his BBC Radio 1 program, that listeners got their initial taste of album three. Drawn like a scene from a dissolving relationship that immediately precedes release and relief, "Modern Soul" hinted that the album could be a bit brighter with less of the anguish that permeated the singer/producer's first two albums. Another song, a vaguely aching minimal dub ballad, was aired two months later, possibly chosen because it too had a title, "Timeless," that could potentially wind up detractors. In late April, when it seemed like he might spring on his audience a tune named something like "Proper Music," Blake received a profile boost from Beyoncé, whose Lemonade prominently sported a pair of songs featuring his assistance. A couple weeks later, the long-delayed The Colour in Anything materialized at a length nearly that of his first two albums put together. Recording began in London. Once stalled by creative fatigue, Blake decamped to Rick Rubin's Malibu studio. The sunnier environment had no evident effect on the album's outlook. Regardless of location, Blake continues to deal in fraught romantic trauma, setting the album's tone immediately with "Radio Silence," a mix of mournful gospel and surging synthesizers in which "I can't believe this, you don't wanna see me" is stated something like ten times. As he sifts through the wreckage in puzzled and lucid states, he still stretches and distorts his frail but transfixing choir boy voice. A few lines are expressed with Auto-Tune fillips, some are enhanced through fine layering, and others are left unembellished, sometimes sunk into the mix of basslines that tap and thrum, percussion that gently skitters and scrapes, and synthesizers, applied like coating, that swell and swarm. Most disorienting is "Put That Away and Talk to Me," akin to a malfunctioning lullaby mobile playing a late-'90s Timbaland knockoff. Blake sought some help, not only from Rubin, who co-produced the Malibu sessions, but from Justin Vernon, who assisted with two songs and is heard on "I Need a Forest Fire," while Frank Ocean co-wrote another pair, including the all-voice closer, where Blake solemnly resolves -- ta-da -- that contentment is up to him. Compared to the self-titled debut and Overgrown, this a more graceful and denser purging, one that can soundtrack some intense wallowing or, at a low volume, throb and murmur unobtrusively in the background. ~ Andy Kellman
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Electro - Released February 19, 2016 | !K7 Records

Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
Two decades after fellow Detroiters Carl Craig, Claude Young, and Stacey Pullen were among the first contributors to !K7's DJ-Kicks, Kenny Dixon, Jr. adds to the series with a largely low-key, genre-spanning set. The selections suggest that the mix, or most of it, was knocked out long before its February 2016 release; not one of the tracks was first issued later than 2014. Perhaps Dixon was content to wait out a protracted licensing snag, though it's not as if he has a rep for spinning strictly new arrivals. Besides, the man does tend to take his time. Certain coveted KDJ productions have surfaced years after they were first whispered about, and he hasn't been all that quick to capitalize on re-pressings of his output. Take one of this set's highlights, Andrés' "El Ritmo de Mi Gente!," which quickly multiplied in cost after Dixon issued it in 2008. Though Dixon doesn't include any of his productions and, just as unfortunate, abstains from the shout-outs and other vocal interjections for which he is correctly celebrated, his presence is felt beyond the frequent but easy transitions. The Andrés cut samples the same Letta Mbulu-fronted piece from Quincy Jones' Roots score heard on Dixon's own "Meanwhile Back at Home." Dopehead's rugged "Guttah Guttah" comes from Detroit's underground hip-hop scene, where Dixon got his start, and was produced by Nick Speed, another one of his Mahogani Music artists. The Motor City is also represented with the wobbling Platinum Pied Pipers remix of Rich Medina and Sy Smith's "Can't Hold Back," and a neo-electro jam from Marcellus Pittman. Though Dixon has no evident connection to the Rodney Hunter remix of Fort Knox Five's "Uptown Tricks," it shows that his spot for Chic-styled disco remains as soft as when he released the Sister Sledge-sampling "One Night in the Disco." Additionally, Dixon judiciously edited over one-third of the tracks to facilitate flow, his craftiness most evident in the way Talc's breezy part-soft rock/part-Daft Punk hybrid melts into one of Beady Belle's graceful lounge laments. Dixon's taste dips back several decades, but he keeps it relatively contemporary all the way through. The oldest track is Nightmares on Wax's "Les Nuits," which bubbles out of Flying Lotus' "Tea Leaf Dancers" and, once more, draws from the Quincy Jones catalog. ~ Andy Kellman
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Electro - Released November 6, 2015 | 4AD

Hi-Res Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
Her album Visions illuminated 2012. With her 4th studio album Art Angels, Grimes succeeds once again - excelling in the field of electro pop and ferverish eclecticism. This time the Canadian rounds off a few more angles, producing a range of melodies that are undeniably more 'pop', but also irresistibly catchy. The result is a diluted and diverse experience compared with past efforts, but without losing her unique identity and artistic singularity. Indeed, Grimes does not do electro pop like her counterparts. Each song from Art Angels comes with a slight twist or the vital dose of quirkiness necessary to makes it a fascinating composition. Note the presence of Janelle Monáe on one of the tracks. © MD / Qobuz

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Electro in the magazine