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ALBUMS REVIEWS


Teengirl Fantasy


Tracer R&S


10 Electronic dance muzak?


EXPERIMENTALISM may lace the DNA of electronic music, but the dance formula still fell out of favor with arty hipsters Stateside throughout the early part of the ‘00s. Today it’s very different, though. Sprouting from soil laid by DIY forefathers Black Dice (DFA/Fat Cat/Domino), the convergence of house, noise and avant-garde pop (in Brooklyn especially) has recently been cultivated under the watchful eyes of (to name a few) Blondes, Grimes and Teengirl Fantasy — the duo responsible for this stunning LP. If their first, ‘7am’ — a clever pastiche of all things Chicago, Detroit and ‘80s pop — set their stall out as an exceptional off-beat dance duo, then ‘Tracer’ has landed a shopping centre


the size of Westfield. Wispily constructed of brooding bottom-end drones, sporadic percussion and chiming synth crescendos, opener ‘Orbit’ is so irregular it barely seeps into cognition, only to plume indefinitely until the stark, wonderful arrival of ‘EFX’ — with its neon tropical chords, Sonic The Hedgehog woodwind and Kelela’s dulcet TLC vocal cries. ‘Eternal’ is an earworm so familiar it could be Infectious — or worse, Baby D — framed by a spacious soundscape scattered with enough clattering 909s to rival Lone. Laurel Halo features on ‘Mist Of Time’ and the effect is like hearing Enya from within an aquarium tank, while ‘Do It’, featuring Romanthony, mirrors Daft Punk at their


saccharine finest. The piece de resistance, however, is ‘Timeline’; a Future Sound Of London-style journey into nostalgic broken beat hardcore brought bang up-to-digital-date. On a seamless album where nebulous abstraction hangs in perfect balance with unashamed, heart- bleeding moments of pure pop, TF make their playful modus operandi perfectly clear. The current US sound du jour aside, this duo knowingly push a different, post-modern form of “EDM”: “electronic dance muzak”, if you will — as overtly accessible as it is subversive. Adam Saville


9.0


Matthew Dear Beams Ghostly International Ray of light


You didn’t catch us high fiving like a frat-boy locker room with the news techno genius Matthew Dear would be veering even further into full live band territory on sixth album, ‘Beams’. Similar ventures by similarly great architects of the electronic form became — to be frank — a bit of a damp squib (just take Apparat’s ‘The Devil’s Walk’ for example) but ‘Seams’ is no such disappointment. Incorporating live elements — electric guitars, drums, real basslines sampled — without turning his back on what he does best, Dear’s meticulous sequencing ensures this LP is a triumph. Drawing upon strict 4/4 patterns and synth-pop melodies to frame his characteristic glottal vocals, it’s clear he’s found his formula — one that garners a whole lot more funk amid a host of song- based fancies. Distinctly more poppy than 2010’s ‘Black City’, ‘Beams’ really is a ray of light.Adam Saville


064


Holy Other Held Tri Angle Holy are you


Holy Other’s gift for wrapping silken R&B textures around the ghosts of garage has been apparent since his first ‘We Over’ 7” back in 2010. His debut album for Tri Angle, though, proves how ahead of everyone else doing this kind of thing he really is. It’s enchanting sensuous sound after sound, fluttering and touching in a way rarely achieved since Burial first began, both uplifting and beautifully sad all in one. The first crackling notes and beats of ‘(W)here’ roll out, and from then on, it’s music so immaculately pieced together it makes you want to reach out and touch it. From the breathless twitch of ‘Impouring’ to the graceful piano and ringing vocals of title track ‘Held’, it’s a masterpiece of tension and emotion, heart and soul, light and dark. Tamara el Essawi


8.5 LV


Sebenza Hyperdub


South African success story


South London trio LV continue their label- conquering rise, following up excellent 2011 debut ‘Routes’ with ‘Sebenza’, taking a more defined, thematic route by exploring twisted Afro-funk and kwaito — thanks to the appearance of three South African MCs — alongside their own low-lit UK funky vibe. It’s an utterly listenable and engaging affair, with LV’s subtle but spot- on production complementing the loose, relaxed rhyming, which often becomes the most compelling element, playfully, humorously pawing around contemporary cultural references, such as the faux-social media fawning of ‘International Pantsula’. Other highlights include the ruffled garage bounce and sizzled synthline of ‘Animal Prints’ and the kwaito electro-carnival of ‘Thatha’, but there’s not a dud in sight anywhere. And even with a gentle refusal to mainline any one genre, LV still retain a strong musical narrative, giving further character to an album brimming with personality and punch. Tristan Parker


www.djmag.com


8.0


Royal T Rinse Presents Rinse Post-grime


If Royal T really does tout what he calls “the new generation of grime” on his debut LP, then grime is no longer, well, grime. Elements are still there. A hyped MC only appears on opener ‘Cruel To Be Kind’ in the form of P. Money (sounding too cheerful to be considered “grime”), but synth keys are pitched high and the bottom line is adequately guttural. Though, while it does slam in at 140bpm, its hammering 4/4 is basically bassline fitted for the Radio 1Xtra generation. ‘Inside The Ride’ is two-step at breaks tempo; ‘Missing Aurora’ is moody garage and ‘Work Your Body’ is jungle but with extra rave stabs. The closest to actual grime is ‘Music Box’ — mostly down to Terror Danjah’s involvement — but even that sounds more like Rustie than JME. If this is the future of grime, we like it. A lot. Adam Saville


8.0


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