Euphoria – KVRVBO

KVRVBO is the project of Karabo Moloi, a South African producer from a township in Johannesburg. He released his debut album Euphoria in July. In it he brings in no fewer than 8 collaborators, most of whom are also South African.

If you are being critical, you might say that for a deep house album, it is slightly lacking in outright bangers. However, what it lacks there, it more than makes up for with real depth and variety. Each of the featuring artists bring their own flavour, putting together a really nice 80 minute listen.

My top tracks to listen out for: Billow Made Me Do It, In the Jungle (featuring Bongani Mehlomakhulu) and Celestial Dreams.

Mirrors – DJ Seinfeld

After a little Summer break I’m coming back at you with a few new stellar releases over the next few days.

First up it is the wonderfully-named DJ Seinfeld with his debut full length album, Mirrors.

Mirrors is a set of tuneful electronic jams, and it comes with a sweet story attached. When DJ Seinfeld shot into the limelight out of nowhere in 2017 with his now-trademark dusty lo-fi house sounds, you might have noticed that the track names and general vibe were a tad depressing. At the time our man Armand Jakobsson was going through a break-up. Fast forward 4 years and he has found love. Out with the I Hope I Sleep Tonight and the I saw Her Kiss Him in Front of Me and I Was Like Wtf? and in with the She Loves Me, the Walking with Ur Smile and The Right Place. Ain’t that nice. Live your best life Armand.

DJ Seinfeld’s other project is also worth getting to know, under alias Rimbaudian.

Finally, he is playing live at EartH in Hackney in October – see you there.

Goodbye Country (Hello Nightclub) – Groove Armada

They just don’t make albums like this anymore. Throwing it back to 2001 with Groove Armada’s seminal third album, Goodbye Country (Hello Nightclub). Andy Cato and Tom Findlay shot to stardom with their previous album Vertigo; that release was certified Platinum in the UK and is a huge lounge record – think Inside my Mind (Blue Skies). Then, just one year later, as the title of the album suggests, they left the lounge behind to craft some bigger beats. This move was not a simple one, since ‘Chill Out’ was at the crest of a wave in 2001 (a movement that they had a hand in creating). The move also alienated some of their fans, but you have to say that history has proven them right on this one.

There is so much to love about this album. First up, Suntoucher. Six and a half minutes of the highly talented Jeru the Damaja channeled into a new world of groovy electronica. “Focus like a samurai, stronger than a Mai Tai”. Massive rhymes. You can read more of my thoughts on Jeru and this track here.

Suntoucher is followed by Superstylin’ which still hits different. The BBC wrote at the time that its bass line was “big enough to bowl over a bungalow.” You’ll understand when you listen to it.

And then we have My Friend. Try and listen to the opening two seconds and not get carried away.

Finally, a new find for me is Fogma. Groove Armada pick up a sample from the (now heavily overplayed) Bam Bam by Sister Nancy and take it into pretty brutal Chemical Brothers electro club territory.

All in all, the album is a classic. Not much more needs to be said.

Eye of the Storm – Justin Martin

I have to admit, this new snorter from Justin Martin really caught me off guard.

The build up is a relentless industrial hum which didn’t fill me with confidence. But wait until 2 minutes in (by which point you’ll feel fucking on edge) and there is a massive hi-hat-led drum fill which fires into colossal synths and plucked melodies that just shine. Real ‘shivers down your spine’ territory this one. Turn it loud.

My only criticism, and this is a serious one, is that the track is so short. At 3 mins 33 secs it only has time for 1 minute of the good stuff, and then it exits as quickly as it came. I’ll be keeping my eyes out for an extended edit.

Bonus tracks: Justin doesn’t play about does he? I’ve posted another solid gold Justin Martin number for your delectation below. Or you can also read my thoughts on his remix of Marshall Jefferson’s Mushrooms here.

It’s A Business Doing Pleasure With You – Panthera Krause

Coming at you this fine Wednesday morning with German producer Panthera Krause’s It’s a Business Doing Pleasure With You. It has been described as “…lush, funky and highly infectious…” and who am I to disagree?

My pick is Birthday Club. It has an inventive double time synth line that might be annoying if it wasn’t so goddamned groovy. Imagine the kind of track that Project Pablo and Matthew Herbert would get silly to and you won’t be far off.

Another fave is the title track from the album which closes out the release. The piano chords have a touch of the Harvey Sutherland’s about them, which is never a bad thing. Enjoy.

Animal – LUMP

As the final track will tell you, LUMP is the product of Mike Lindsay and Laura Marling. Laura Marling hardly needs an introduction, as one of the leading folk artists over the last 15 years. Mike Lindsay is best known for his role in the folktronica band Tunng, but has an impressive list of producer credits spanning pop, rock and R&B. Their co-creation is LUMP, which they characterise as both a mythical creature and a creative mindset that the pair invoke to create music together.

So, Animal; the talent of Laura as a writer and vocalist is evident throughout the album. Her vocals have a unique, instantly recognisable quality that work just as well in this more electronic setting as her usual acoustic folk. Similarly, Mike’s production quality is high. The music for each track (with the possible exception of Phantom Limb) is interesting to the ear, but without being jarring. Pairing those qualities is a tough thing to do. Contributing to this, some of the album is written in a 7/4 time signature – it gives it a sense of urgency, but never feels forced. The third single from the album, also titled Animal, is where this combination comes together best. The final single, We Cannot Resist, is another pleasing pop track (although slightly marred by the use of a gimmicky vocoder).

There is a lot to really like about the the album, which leaves me questioning why I like it but don’t love it. I think the answer lies in my favourite track on the album, Oberon. It is 2 minutes of beautiful, heartbreaking songwriting. The tenderness of the music and the lyrics feel perfectly in sync. This level of synchronicity feels within reach throughout the whole album, but the energies of singer and producer never align as well as they do there. This is illustrated by the final track Phantom Limb which immediately follows and seems to have been written in an intentionally discordant way. Maybe I just don’t get it, but it doesn’t land for me. That said, overall Animal is a really intriguing listen with a good number of really high quality tracks.

As a sidenote, I had the pleasure of listening to the Premiere of Animal at a Pitchblack Playback event – a blindfolded immersive album-listening experience – I highly recommend checking out their events if you are London or Auckland-based and see an event that piques your interest.

Photo credit: Christian Cargill

Love Cry – Four Tet

This is just an absolute beaut of a track from 2009. Four Tet at his haunting best.

The energy for the track is brought by the drums; really raw and tribal. And then halfway through the vocal sample comes in with the mystical aura of a Buddhist chant. It lasts for 9 minutes, but it could be double the length and I’d be happy. Only Four Tet eh?

Bonus tracks: Four Tet has a stunning knack for picking a sample. The two vocal samples in this are straight-up pop classics by none other than Brandy and Cassie.

Bad Kingdom (DJ Koze Remix) – Moderat

A short story: the year is 2014 and I am dancing to an unnamed DJ in a clearing in the woods at Secret Garden Party. This track comes on, and my little mind is completely blown by the bassline. So much so that I for a brief moment I consider a career as a DJ. Anyway, here we are 7 years on and that loop that comes in at 2:18 still packs just as much heat.

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This could have been me…