The threads of our past never unravel, they hover like invisible webs, occasionally glistening due to a sly angle of the sun. On Multi-Love, Unknown Mortal Orchestra frontman and multi-instrumentalist Ruban Nielson reflects on relationships: airy, humid longing, loss, the geometry of desire that occurs when three people align. Where Nielson addressed the pain of being alone on II, Multi-Love takes on the complications of being together. Multi-Love adds dimensions to the band’s already kaleidoscopic approach, with Nielson exploring a newfound appreciation for synthesizers. The new songs channel with the spirit of psych innovators without ignoring the last 40 years of music, forming a flowing, cohesive whole that reflects restless creativity. Cosmic escapes and disco rhythms speak to developing new vocabulary, while Nielson’s vocals reach powerful new heights. “It felt good to be rebelling against the typical view of what an artists is today, a curator,” he says. “It’s more about being someone who makes things happen in concrete ways. Building old synthesizers and bringing them back to life, creating sounds that aren’t quite like anyone else’s. I think that’s much more subversive.” While legions of artists show fidelity to the roots of psychedelia, Unknown Mortal Orchestra shares the rare quality that makes the genre’s touchstones so vital, constant exploration.
On their full-length 2014 debut Voyage, L.A duo De Lux learned how to take their influences and create a sound all their own—a beyond-their-years synthesis of post-punk, disco, funk and of course synthesizer wizardry, drawing inspiration from the same combination of agitation and exhilaration that helped LCD Soundsystem and Talking Heads deliver some of the most danceable social commentary ever. And now that they’ve found their sound, De Lux are creating a story to go with it on their new album Generation: “All of these things that they put us through,” sings co-founder and multi-instru- mentalist Sean Guerin, “I’m writing it down / I’m writing it down.” They first started writing Generation in the kind of uncommitted instances that happen so rarely once a new band puts out its first album. Once Voyage was released, De Lux found themselves playing and interviewing and touring and remixing—“All fun!” says Sean—but they had to fight to find time to write. A random Instagram of work-in-progress song “It’s A Combination” was the tipping point, when Sean and co-founder Isaac Franco realized they’d been rough-drafting for a year: “Let’s finish it now,” they decided, and that’s the exact moment when Generation officially started. They returned to the L.A. practice space where they wrote and recorded Voyage, this time with new instruments—like the little-known but sought-after synthesizer guitar beloved of King Crimson’s Adrian Belew—and new inspira- tions, chief among them punk peformance artist Karen Finley, whose 1987 debut album Sean discovered at a Seattle record store simply because it looked promising. Her infamously uncensored lyrics made him realize there was more he could sing about, too: “You admire the ambition behind her saying whatever she wants,” he says. So if Generation is a darker album than Voyage—and it’s inherited plenty of the modern urban anxiety of David Byrne—that’s because it’s a fearlessly honest and candid album, too. In fact, call it a millennial documentary. In Generation’s eleven songs, De Lux chart the distance between childhood and adulthood, nostalgia and aspiration and dream and reality, all with unflinching autobiographical detail. (And with a secret nod to the Pokemon theme, too.) Says Sean: “When I write lyrics, I try and be as specific as possible. We think about if someone listens to us in 30 years: ‘Oh, that’s what was going on at that time.’” The result is a sort of Less Than Zero for the post-Social Network era. Think of it as a nighttime freeway drive that starts with the propulsive “L.A. Threshold” and rides the borderline between feel-good rhythm and artfully sophisticated sentiment. “There’s dark moments, but it’s still fun,” explains Sean. “The first album was just more innocent.” There’s new space in De Lux’s sense of rhythm and groove, says Isaac, for Sean to say what he needs to say: “The song gives him the freedom to be himself.” And so Generation is an album about high highs, low lows and the vast space in between. “Center of L.U.B” is a roller-skate jam that starts with a Can-style guitar riff before spinning into an examination of one utility compa- ny employee’s ennui—you knew this wasn’t going to be a love song, right?—while “It’s A Combination” is a brooding Italo disco track and unexpected piano piece “Conditions” is like Harry Nilsson or John Lennon suddenly transplanted to Rough Trade Records. Then there’s the alternately hilarious and harrowing “Oh Man The Future”—a satirical reading on the shape of things to come, propelled by a bass-and-drum rhythm right off one of ESG’s first EPs—to the desolate-yet-funky “When Your Life Feels Like A Loss,” where De Lux dissect just what happens when “you think you’re special/no, you’re not special/you’re just an average guy.” In other words, Generation isn’t a departure. This is De Lux going deeper, not farther away, and the result is surely the most anthropologically daring dancefloor album of the year. That might seem difficult to pull off, but that’s why they did it, explains Sean: “At some point we realized creativity is just limitless,” he says. “You can do anything. There might be certain people who think, ‘Oh, you can’t do that.’ That’s when you say, ‘Well—I’m doing it!’”
Unmistakeably James Blake from the moment the first note kicks in, 'Love What Happened Here' sees the wonderboy returning back to R&S, the label that kicked off his skywards career with the deliriously good CMYK' - whose essence is definitely felt in the title-track's warm R&B chop-up style. Elsewhere, 'At Birth' is a mysterious house groover, suppressed and subtly bubbling along waiting for its peak that never arrives. 'Curbside' is a wildly percussive cosmic number, deliciously off-kilter and forlorn. A welcome return from the boy Blake.
This is the debut single for the hugely tipped young London based producer on R&S. James Blake is making some of the most startlingly original music to have emerged from London in 2010 and is a real star in the making. In between studying Popular Music at Goldsmiths and writing a debut album that will take a lot of people by surprise, he has released amazing singles on Hemlock & Hessle, pushing the boundaries of what is expected of ‘dubstep’ music. This underground introduction has made him a star on influential blogs and websites and has now pricked up the ears of more mainstream press. The CMYK EP has been a feature on Radio One on shows by Zane Lowe, Gilles Peterson, Huw Stephens, Mary Ann Hobbs and Nick Grimshaw.
2010 saw James Blake emerge as the leading light in a populated world of forward thinking music, expertly disposing of the commonly used dubstep rule book with the Bell Sketch 12” on Hessle Audio before teaching daytime radio a strict lesson in quality control with his R&S Records debut CMYK EP. The worlds leading tastemakers were beside themselves, showering the internet with praise, whilst in the outer reaches of the blog ether, rumours of James’ songs began to surface. The Klavierwerke EP features the first glimpse of Blakes vocal, albeit cut, pitched and intricately woven into four tracks that offer an insight into James’ futuristic soundscape. Where the R&B sampling CMYK EP aimed at the dancefloor, the Klavierwerke EP finds itself on an insular and abstract plain, in places reminiscent of Burial's emotive urban hymms while all the time maintaining the distinct originality that sets James apart from the rest. The title track, a sonic realisation of a recent Berlin escapade pays homage to Berghain, the cavernous HQ of techno, where languid pianos and James’ pitch shifted vocals collide head on with moody low frequencies. I Only Know (What I Know Now) is a contemplative piece where James’ voice is brought to the fore, casting a solemn gaze over his own re-sampled piano to create a contemporary masterpiece. “Don’t You Think I Do” follows a similar path, drawing on a side-chained lead synth and trademark piano. Tell Her Safe rounds off the EP, further affecting the vocal against a high tempo beat. The perfect follow up to the huge CMYK EP and a true representation of what’s around the corner for one of the most exciting artists to emerge in years.
Posthumous Third Release featuring Previously Unreleased Tracks, Alternate Versions of Existing Classics and Brand New Compositions Following her tragic passing on July 23, 2011, some of the producers and musicians who worked closely with 5x Grammy Award winning artist Amy Winehouse, among them Salaam Remi and Mark Ronson, spent time listening over the many recordings that Amy had made, before, during, and after the release of albums Frank and Back To Black. It was said by all who worked with Amy that she never sang or played a song the same way twice. It quickly became apparent to both Remi and Ronson that they had a collection of songs that deserved to be heard, a collection of songs that were a fitting testament to Amy the artist and, as importantly, Amy their friend. Lioness: Hidden Treasures, the third album from Amy Winehouse, is a 12-track collection of previously unreleased tracks, alternate versions of existing classics as well as a couple of brand new Winehouse compositions, compiled by long-time collaborators Salaam Remi and Mark Ronson in close association with Amy's family, management and UK record label Island Records. "Our Day Will Come," is a reggae re-working of the classic 60's doo wop song produced by Salaam Remi, recorded in May of 2002. "Between The Cheats" is a new Winehouse composition recorded in London in May of 2008 for potential inclusion on album three, produced by Salaam Remi. "Tears Dry," originally written by Amy as a ballad, is the original version she recorded in November of 2005 in Miami with Salaam. The later uptempo version appears on Back To Black. "Wake Up Alone" is the first song recorded for the Back To Black sessions. This is the one-take demo recorded in March of 2006 by Paul O'Duffy. "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" is Amy's beautiful reading of the Carole King written Shirelles classic. Produced by Mark Ronson and featuring the Dap Kings with string arrangements by Chris Elliott who did all the strings for Mark's tracks on Back To Black. Recorded in September of 2004. "Valerie" is one of Amy's jukebox favorites. This is the original slower tempo version of the Mark Ronson produced post Back To Black single. Recorded in December of 2006. "Like Smoke" (featuring Nas). Amy and Nas became really good friends after Amy name checked the New York rapper on Back To Black's "Me & Mr Jones." "Like Smoke" is finally Amy doing a song with one of her favorite artists. Produced by Salaam Remi. Recorded in May of 2008. "The Girl From Ipanema," the first song the 18 year old Amy sang when she first went to Miami to record with Salaam. Salaam remarked that "the way she re-interpreted this bossa nova classic made me realize that I was dealing with a very special talent. Her approach to the song was so young and fresh, it really inspired the rest of our sessions." Recorded in May of 2002. "Halftime." Amy had talked to Ahmir 'Questlove' Thompson of the Roots about working together. "Halftime" is a song that Amy and Salaam had worked on since the Frank sessions. The result is beautiful. Recorded in August of 2002. "Best Friends." Frank era live set opener produced by Salaam Remi. Probably the first song that early Amy fans would have heard live. Recorded in February of 2003. "Body & Soul," a cover of the 30's jazz standard with hero Tony Bennett. Recorded at Abbey Road Studios, London in March of 2011 and produced by Phil Ramone. Amy's final studio recording. "A Song For You," a heartbreaking and emotional version of the Leon Russell classic made famous by Donny Hathaway. Hathaway was Amy's all-time favorite artist and the song was recorded in one take, just Amy and her guitar, at her home in London during the Spring of 2009. Produced by Salaam Remi.
In the early seventies, Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards were playing in rock and soul bands across New York City and the east coast, meeting up with Tony Thompson along the way and forming the rudiments of what would become one of the most powerful and successful pop/R&B outfits ever known. By 1977, Chic sailed into the top rungs of the charts with their smash debut single "Dance, Dance, Dance" along with the killer funk of their self-titled debut album. A year later, their chart fortunes multiplied with the release of C’est Chic. The #1 LP was chock full of hit singles, funk madness and probably some of the finest rock/funk/soul beats ever put to wax. Featuring the huge chart toppers "Le Freak" and "I Want Your Love," Chic truly were at the top of their game across the world. Also featuring vocalists Alfa Anderson, Norma Jean Wright and future superstar Luther Vandross, Chic became the group of choice for party people, dance clubs and radio stations alike. Further cuts like the power track "Happy Man" and the stellar instrumental "Savoir Faire," helped C’est Chic sell over six million units during its first run at retail. Chic’s importance is still felt today with top groups like Daft Punk citing the group as an influence and collaborating with the funk and dance groove master himself, Mr. Nile Rodgers in 2013. Friday Music is pleased to usher in the their Chic 180 Gram Vinyl Series with the release of the goup's #1 groundbreaking masterwork C’est Chic, mastered by Joe Reagoso at Friday Music Studios and featuring faithfully restored artwork elements.
Originally released in 1972, Let's Stay Together features some of Al Green's finest work and it drips with Southern soul and exquisite arrangements from top-notch producer Willie Mitchell. Prior to this release, Green had never had a #1 song. The title track achieved that status and is complemented wonderfully here by the timeless cover of the Bee Gees "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?" among others.
Before digging into the steely, handcrafted technoisms of Homesick, you need to know a few things about Charles Duff, the Bay Area artist behind Matrixxman. Perhaps most importantly, he is a dedicated futurist—quick to name Google's director of engineering, Ray Kurzweil, as a major personal inspiration, and prone to contemplating artificial intelligence and "a true post-corporeal reality." He's also a voracious information junkie, soaking up government conspiracies and contemporary science-fiction like a proper X-Files fanatic. These cultural reference points are as integral to the background of Homesick as Detroit, Chicago, and Berlin's musical legacies. Across the record's versatile tracklist, Matrixxman uses the language of machines and dancefloors like a hungry pulp novelist, weaving together his divergent narratives and characters under one sprawling dystopian sky. If you listened to techno and house in 2014, you've undoubtedly heard the name Matrixxman. The guy has been on a prolific tear since debuting his project in 2013, having issued no fewer than 12 "cold-ass futuristic" releases and taken his techno-centric DJ sets around the world in under two years. But his story reaches much further into the past: back to being a drum & bass-obsessed teenager in the late '90s, back to when Duff's best friend changed his life with a Juan Atkins mix CD in 2001, back to producing for hotly tipped MCs like Le1f, Ty Dolla Sign, and YG. Matrixxman is already a venerable pro with workmanlike constitution, to say the least, and yet his debut album has only just materialized. "My obsession with the darker sides of humanity's exploits gone awry is secondary to the more important matter at heart: evolutionary transcendence," Matrixxman explains. And his focus on cybernetic themes shines through the music. Emergent AI, interplanetary travel, neuroenhancement drugs, incredible opulence juxtaposed with abject poverty, leaving physical form and existing as data—Homesick distills the concepts into thick acid lines, brawny 909 patterns, tonal contrasts, dynamic aesthetics, and viscous pads steeped in digital ephemera. It begins with "Necronomicon", a massive black cloud of noxious ambience looming over our story, and ends on the astral mysticism of "Earth Like Conditions". Yes, there is an arc built into Homesick, and the sci-fi epic it illustrates seizes your undivided attention. Even the tracklist speaks volumes to the record's music and narrative—from the enhanced motorik systems of "Augmented" and "Network Failure"'s cognitive dissonance, to the dark hedonism in "Opium Den" and the drum machine violence that drives "Switchblade". As Matrixxman says himself, "The titles correlate to distinct, separate scenes." And those visuals just about come alive on tracks like "Packard Plant"—a whirring, windswept homage to the desolate Detroit landmark—or the album's haunted and distant centerpiece, "Annika's Theme". Duff is quick to share Annika's identity: "She's an incredibly gifted neuroscientist, pursuing cutting-edge research in fields that will have a profound impact on humanity." But what exactly she accomplishes and where she goes is unexplained. Homesick outlines the cues needed to follow along, careful to leave room for us to fill in the details. Matrixxman uses his debut album to evoke visions of a not-too-distant-future with music made both for the dancefloor and the early morning zone-outs that follow. These are the real world applications of Homesick, though Duff comes to it all from an entirely different mindset. "We will have the technological capability to fully map out a human brain in its entirety within 30 years," he starts. "The implications of such a possibility are deep and far reaching. We will be crossing a rubicon towards a new phase in human consciousness. I am one person that is prepared to take that step." Once you emerge on the other side of Homesick, it seems possible that Matrixxman already has.
A DIY project with worldwide scope, Slow Magic is universal and inclusive. It’s cosmic electronic music culled from the ether, yet crafted with human hands. It’s joyous, escapist, multi-disciplinary art that mixes transcendent performance with the nostalgic intimacy of two teenagers staying up too late on the phone. After the release of 2012’s beloved and critically-acclaimed Triangle, Slow Magic became an international movement after touring with artists like Gold Panda and XXYYXX. Crowds found a masked man in their midst, bathed in fantastic light, with electronic triggers and a drum. The future-primitive combination infused the project’s electronic compositions with new life. How To Run Away, Slow Magic’s debut with Downtown Records, reflects this growth, oozing both otherworldly beauty and a mastery of production. Lead single “Girls” is deconstructionist house with an organic pulse and collaged, handcrafted samples. “Hold Still” sculpts elastic organs and jazz piano into an emotionally-pummeling finale, while the melancholy “Let U Go” merges watery dub with spectral piano and “Closer” plays like a ‘90s R&B fever dream.
The year is 2069. After years of travel across the galaxy Major Lazer has returned to Earth from his triumphant interstellar campaign against his mentor-turned-arch-nemesis General Rubbish. The victory rings hollow, though–there is something he left out among the stars that he can never replace. The world he’s come back to is missing something too: unity. In his absence Earth has been transformed into a worldwide maelstrom of conflicting armies, gangs, cults, and crews. The Fearless Hyenas, the Deathless Lovers, the Pitch Black Knights of the Inner Wild–a multitude of factions, each of them sworn enemies of every other. Having proven himself adept at the art of war, Major Lazer has dedicated himself now to becoming a champion of peace. With help from a squad of anarcho-pacifist hackers, he’s taken control of a top secret network of military satellites and repurposed it into a global sound system to broadcast a righteous dub designed to unite the tribes of Earth and overthrow those who have thrown them into disarray for their own personal gain. Peace is the Mission, and the fate of the world depends on its success. The Grammy-nominated DJ and producer Diplo (aka Wesley Pentz) has had an unprecedented career that’s taken him from the outer fringes of club culture to the top of pop’s A-list. He first drew the attention of forward-looking listeners in the mid-aughts through zeitgeist-smashing DJ sets that defied the borders of geography and genre, as well as the Piracy Funds Terrorism Vol. 1 mixtape he created with M.I.A. His commercial breakthrough came with her 2007 hit “Paper Planes,” which reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was nominated for a Grammy for Record of the Year. Launched in 2008 alongside his fellow “Paper Planes” producer Switch, Major Lazer is Diplo’s outlet for his lifelong love of Jamaican dancehall music. Their wildly popular 2009 single “Pon de Floor” is an EDM touchstone that single handedly reshaped the sound of contemporary dance music, and provided the foundation for Beyonce’s chart-topping single “Run the World.” Over the course of two albums and three EPs they’ve not only collaborated with the likes of Bruno Mars, Pharrell Williams, and Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend, but have earned the respect of venerated Jamaican dancehall artists like Busy Signal, Vybz Kartel, and Elephant Man, all of whom have graced their tracks. Currently made up of Diplo and fellow DJ/producers Jillionaire and Walshy Fire, Major Lazer returns with their third album Peace Is The Mission. Led by the hooky single “Lean On” (featuring DJ Snake of “Turn Down for What” fame and Danish electropop star MØ), Peace Is the Mission, continues in the group’s tradition of colliding the best elements of EDM, dancehall, hip-hop, and pop into an earth-shaking, soul-liberating singularity.
Audio Fidelity is proud to announce the release of Disney's TRON Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. The 1982 film score was composed, performed and produced by the pioneer electronic musician, Wendy Carlos. This release will contain 2 180g translucent blue vinyl records packaged in a distinctive gatefold jacket. The album includes colorful photos from the popular cult film and generous and informative liner notes written by the composer as well as music maven, Michael Fremer who, at the time, served as the film's soundtrack supervisor. The mastering was done by Kevin Gray at his studio, Cohearent Audio. Carlos composed the score with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and the UCLA chorus. The multi-Grammy award winning Wendy Carlos, best known for her popular "Switched on Bach," series of albums, also composed and performed on the soundtracks of two Stanley Kubrick cinema meater pieces, "A Clockwork Orange" and "The Shining." The TRON album includes three Bonus Tracks along with two songs "Only Solutions" and the rock guitar-driven instrumental, "1990's Theme" provided by Journey, one of America's best selling and most beloved bands.
2007 debut album from Sweden's Axel Willner AKA The Field. From Here We Go Sublime features 10 songs that fuse the Shoegazing sound of bands like My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive and Ride with modern Ambient, Techno and Electronic elements. Features 'Over The Ice', 'Silent' and the single 'Good Things End'. Electronic music usually profits from simplicity, a point the Field’s Axel Willner understood well when he made From Here We Go Sublime. Hailing from Sweden, Willner’s record has a weightless allure built out of droning spaces and populated with puffy cloud melodies that float and hover. It’s not exactly minimalist, because the layers are too complex and full of forward motion. But the assured way they repeat and loop into a dance-friendly texture would make both Brian Eno and Underworld proud. FHWGS has no interest in the usual peaks and valleys of trance, and yet its consistent anthemic oomph makes it a distant relative of that oft-derided genre. Willner’s patience and his emphasis on muted beats enable him to get maximum impact with only slight tweaks. "Over the Ice" sets the table with soft tones and scattered, wordless voices before dropping a hyper cross-rhythm, while glitch-y sidebars frame the exceedingly kind melody that drives "A Paw in My Voice." Even when the BPM notch gets kicked up on a relative burner like "Everyday," it fits right in with the record’s benevolent disposition. It’s brilliant stuff, a less-is-more epic that wafts onto the dance floor like a gust of summer wind.
One of the all-time classic ambient albums finally available on strictly limited edition 180gr vinyl. The vinyl edition of Substrata is released by Geir Jenssen's own label Biophon Records. It comes as a double gatefold album featuring the bonus track Laika (14:35). Biosphere is widely regarded as one of the legendary names in ambient / electronic music. Residing in Norway, near the Arctic Circle, he has found the focus to slowly and steadily create a self-contained aural universe, made up of reflective and immersive sound sculptures. For almost fifteen years he has released a string of critically acclaimed albums. Substrata, which marked Jenssen's embarkation towards an intensely minimal style, is not only often considered to be Jenssen's best work to date, but is also seen as one of the all time classic ambient albums. David Stubbs, Melody Maker, 1997: "The best ambient album I've heard in an ice age, an album of terrifying, desolate and all-enveloping beauty". Re-mastered by Stefan Betke @ Scape Mastering, Berlin. New artwork by David Coppenhall.
Scientist was only 20 years old when, working with fellow producer "Junjo" Lawes, he came up with this 1980 stunner, a sinuous groove party with cartoonlike special effects (a lot of bongs and boings like pans hitting one another, blips and squeals that sound like a Pac-Man game). All the "song" titles are references to boxing (a motif that Scientist was obviously mining for all it was worth), and all are great individual bits of dub sound that cohere into a meaningful whole. As it says on the jacket, "This ya a youthful sound fe come mash y'down."
Released at a time when Reggae was gaining worldwide attention, Exodus perfectly illustrated the political and cultural nature of an art form that was becoming the mouthpiece for both the Rastafarian religion and the struggles of the Jamaican people and it made Bob Marley the undisputed sovereign of the genre. Originally released on Island Records in 1977, Exodus became one of Marley's first albums to receive international recognition thanks to the huge hits "Jammin," "Waiting in Vain" and "One Love/People Get Ready."
The classic Bob Marley Best Of album, Legend collects the reggae pioneer's greatest genre-defining songs, running the gamut from "I Shot the Sheriff" to the meditative "Redemption Song" and the irrepressible "Three Little Birds." The beauty and simplicity of Bob Marley's music was as important as his message and Legend is the ideal all-encompassing look at his excellence, warmth and humanity.
Luaka Bop becomes the first record label to successfully license the music of William Onyeabor, the mysterious, widely bootlegged Nigerian artist. The label will celebrate its 25th anniversary with the release of the 3LP-set World Psychedelic Classics 5: Who Is William Onyebor? William Onyeabor self-released 8 albums between 1978 and 1985 and then became a Born-Again Christian, refusing ever to speak about himself or his music again. Some say he studied cinematography in the Soviet Union and returned to Nigeria in the mid-70s to start his own film company, Wilfilms. Some say he was a lawyer with a degree from a university in Great Britain. Others portray him as a businessman who for years worked on government contracts in Enugu, Nigeria. Little is really known about William Onyeabor, and that's the way he likes it. Sure, you might hear something about him if you go to Enugu, a rural and isolated town in Eastern Nigeria, where he lives in a hidden palace in the woods. As a crowned High Chief of his Igbo village, he is arbiter of his community. He also rejoices in expanding Nigeria's energetic Christian music scene. The man is not in hiding. But he has turned his back on the music that made him a star to Enugu youth in the turbulent 1980s. What makes a man turn his back on his past? William Onyeabor is a powerful man and yet he chooses to remain a mystery. It is as if Onyeabor, in the prime of his force, has chosen to forget the work of his youth...the stinging Afro-funk; tickly wah-wah; searing jazz synth keyboard; runs suggesting spaceships leading into helium-voiced choruses singing in a jingle-jangle; tuning from the faraway stars; and that particular nostalgic sound found when the first electronic drum machines arrived to tantalize drummers everywhere. While most artists whose music has been obscured feel validated to have their work re-issued, Onyeabor imposed an obstacle to surmount for this anthology to exist. Even money - usually an effective persuader - initially failed to move him. It took time and serious wooing to persuade Onyeabor to let new listeners, from a non-African perspective, appreciate this work. The slim Onyeabor creation myth (of which there is no known corroboration by Onyeabor himself) claims that he was plucked from the ranks of his ravaged province and sent to study in Russia. In the 1970's it was not unknown for the brightest African youth to get scholarships in Moscow. Onyeabor's intention, apparently, was to be a filmmaker. Back in Nigeria he founded an eponymous company called Wilfilms, an outlet through which he released his musical recordings. It may or may not have released any films. He began investing in banks of synthesizers to create, as he sings "My kind of sound... for your Body and Soul." The bloody Biafran/Nigerian Civil War had ended ten years before the release of Onyeabor's second disc, 1979's bubbly Fantastic Man. Biafra had attempted to make an independent nation of the eastern region where Onyeabor lived, and create a safe space for the Igbo tribe, often treated as second-class citizens, even massacred. But with Nigeria backed by Britain, its former colonial power, Biafra stood little chance. Instead of freedom, famine followed, and the strike for independence made Biafra synonymous with emaciated babies. The gap between rich and poor was broadening abruptly into a deep, virtually unbridgeable crevasse. The surge in the price of oil that was bringing London to its knees (and producing the bereft climate that spawned punk) was fattening Lagos - at least the city's rich. Meanwhile, in that same city, it was common for taxpaying civilians to be hauled from their cars and horsewhipped in the street in front of their children for some phony infraction of authoritarian rules. Onyeabor's politics, dancing on their bubbly synthesized beat, bit deep and permanently. Laconically crooning "You want another guy to stop a bullet for you?" in 1979's "Why Go to War," Onyeabor still sounds all too relevant, right now. "Atomic Bomb," Onyeabor's dance anthem, played on fears that were very real at the time - and still are. Temitope Kogbe, a Nigerian DJ who grew up dancing to his father's copy of Onyeabor's Atomic Bomb LP, reminds us, "Though the Cold War...had petered off in the West, Africa was the new theater for this confrontation - in Angola, Mozambique, and most tragically in the Congo, where in 1961, the U.S.-backed Mobutu to kill Patrice Lumumba, who was feared to be a communist. So the Cold War and its threat of Atomic Bomb was still very much in the spirit of the times when the record was released in 1978." But Onyeabor's specifically political music did not dominate his output, unlike, say, Fela Kuti, whose songs were a running commentary on the military dictatorships. Onyeabor's looks and sounds are both oceans away from the bleak perception of his struggling, starving territory. In the few extant photographs of Onyeabor, he sometimes embodies the "Fantastic Man," in white flares and a gold-buttoned navy jacket, looking like a contented capitalist on his yacht. Elsewhere, he wears a white disco suit, as if he was a Philly soul man. His musical and sartorial choices place him as an outernational artist, not defined or confined by accidents of birth. The music, too, is a cosmopolitan brew - these are charming, imaginative, infectious dance tracks. Onyeabor's biography is full of missing links. He, too, is a kind of missing link - Nigeria's answer to synth-pop and New Wave. Within the African canon, he is a progressive adventurer who wielded the brand-new synthesizer like a musical passport. Now you can hear the uncharted, outer-space places his musical journey took him.
Truth & Soul Records is proud to present the debut album from Jr Thomas & The Volcanos "Beware". Junior Thomas is a songwriter, musician, vocalist, and producer born north of Minneapolis, MN. He developed a sincere devotion to classic Jamaican music at a young age, listening to such artists as Dave Barker, The Bleechers, The Wailers, Phyllis Dillon, and Alton Ellis. "I wanted to make a record that was honest and true to the golden era of Jamaican music" says Thomas. After several conversations with reggae producer Brian Dixon, they both realized they were on the same page. Thomas showed up to Dixon's Volcano Lounge studio in Los Angeles a few weeks later ready to record. With Junior Thomas and Brian Dixon as the brainchildren and nucleus of the project, they began assembling the musicians now known as The Volcanos.... The Volcanos are a collective of Southern Californian musicians specializing in Reggae's late 60s early 70s sound. Members of the Volcanos have worked on projects with countless reggae legends, most notably Jimmy Cliff's 2012 Grammy award winning album "Rebirth." Other notable works include The Aggrolites debut "Dirty Reggae" and "The Aggrolites", Hepcat "Push n' Shove" and "Right on Time", Western Standard Time's debut "A Big Band Tribute to the Skatalites" and Tim Armstrong's (Rancid) debut "A Poet Life."
Eligh, one half of the prolific duo, The Grouch & Eligh, drops a new album after last year's success of 'The Tortoise & The Crow' triple album. Known as a deadly producer-rapper combination, Eligh hands over the production reigns on 80 HRTZ to Dnae Beats who provides a moody and bass heavy backdrop for Eligh to deliver his signature rapid-fire delivery. Named after the frequency that the 808 drum machine hits, 80 HRTZ also boasts powerful features from some of the West Coast's finest: Andre Nickatina, Busdriver, Locksmith, Abstract Rude and Open Mike Eagle.
A prolific force, Visions will be Grimes' fourth release in less than two years and she has also performed countless shows in this time. With each album tackling a different set of influences and styles, her latest set incorporates influences as wide as Enya, TLC and Aphex Twin, whilst also drawing from genres like New Jack Swing, IDM, New Age, K-pop, Industrial and glitch. This approach has marked out Grimes as a curator of culture, and allowed the project to remain flexible and to evolve. Claire describes her work as, “the only means through which I can be fully expressive. It is both an ethereal escape from, and a violent embrace of, my experience. The creative process is a quest for the ultimate sensual, mystical and cathartic experience and the vehicle for my psychic purging. Visions was conceived in a period of self-imposed cloistering during which time I did not see daylight.”
Gothenburg, Sweden's Little Dragon has steadily grown from being the biggest underground secret to international acclaim after three successful albums and touring all over the world. Their energetic live set and unique recording process has made fans out of some of the biggest names in music including Pharrell Williams, Questlove, and OutKast. Gaining popularity among such tastemakers led to collaborations with artists like Big Boi, The Gorillaz, and SBTRKT. The release of Little Dragon's fourth album, Nabuma Rubberband, is the culminating moment in their career after years of building a grassroots fanbase. Musically inspired by the more experimental pockets of Prince's back catalog, club culture and the vintage Janet Jackson slow jams Yukimi used to listen to wandering around Gothenburg during the unrelenting winter, Nabuma Rubberband has a different feel to previous Little Dragon albums. "When you put some of Janet's really slow stuff on you feel like you're floating," Yukimi explains. "That feeling really influenced me and maybe that's why there are quite a lot of slow jams on the record. In the past we've been a bit self-conscious about making slow jams after 'Twice'. Then we wanted to make dance music which we did with Machine Dreams and then Ritual Union still had a dance vibe, but with this album it wasn't about that. The intention was about whatever we felt strongly about." Yukimi Nagano, Erik Boden, Fred Wallin and Hakan Wirenstrand make up Little Dragon, the zeitgeist band that blend strands of R&B, electronic and indie into beautifully and meaningfully crafted songs. Over the course of three critically-lauded albums, Little Dragon have established themselves as a band keen to never rest on their laurels - constantly prodding and playing with the boundaries of their sound. Nabuma Rubberband promises to be their most dynamic album yet.
The 2011 self-titled debut album from London-based producer James Blake reflects his famously eclectic style by blending dancefloor electronics with heartfelt, introspective singer/songwriter material. The promising 11-track effort was nominated for the 2011 Mercury Prize and is home to his stirring cover of Feist's "Limit To Your Love" which also served as the album's lead single followed by "The Wilhelm Scream" and "Lindisfarne / Unluck." "I want to make dance music that actually connects with people in the way that a soul record does. I want my music to speak to you like a folk record does, in an organic, human way. It’s the human touch that I want.” - James Blake
Known for their explorative and restless sound, taking influence from old style rock like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Neil Young and Pink Floyd as well as from electronica and hip hop, each of Radiohead's albums marks a cornerstone in their musical evolution. Debut Pablo Honey (1993) was their answer to grunge while follow-up albums The Bends (1995) and OK Computer (1997) offered atmospheric, almost avant-garde tones. With the near impossible task of following up their critically acclaimed masterpiece OK Computer, Radiohead took another bold leap at the turn of the millennium with Kid A, an experimental album built largely around the union of electronica and mood. Musically, Kid A is as accomplished as anything Radiohead has ever produced and its overflowing with eye-opening musical mosaics which are absolutely stunning in their insight and beauty. Kid A initally proved to be controversial as critics labeled the mixture of electronic beats, jazz horns and strings as "difficult" but tracks like the soaring "Optimistic" kept fans loyal and saw Radiohead crowned as masters of composition. A left-field hit, Kid A was eventually nominated for a Grammy for Album of the Year and won for Best Alternative Album.