Jan 30, 2010

Album reviews: Shlohmo's clunky knobs, Ambient News's sepia hue and Mark E spluttering all over your face

Right then, enough about Autechre's leakiness for now. Time for some slap-dash album reviews.

Ambient News

The recent self-titled album from Ambient News doesn't push the envelope so much as snuggle inside it to avoid disturbing the postman.

The busy little beat smothered in vocoders on Moon On My Forehead is as energetic as this album gets. It will appeal to those who like looking at their ambient music with sepia-hued retinas: think Tangerine Dream, 1990's Plaid in simmering mode, or particularly the Feed Your Head compilations.

Hiding behind the Ambient News moniker is Cylob, the man who brought us a superb subversion of rave culture in Rewind. This alternative guise gives him the chance to mess around with harmoniums and gamelan-style 'earth' ambience.

Ambient News sounds incomplete. If it was BBC Ambient News 24, at the top of every hour, it would have about 15 minutes of newsreaders filing their nails. It's almost as if Cylob had been gathering ideas together for a long time, but never quite realised his vision...

Mark E

...unlike Mark E. This hypnotic house music peddler has also been hoarding tracks, but his resulting Works 2005 - 2009 compilation is a much grander affair than Ambient News. I wouldn't normally delve into disco house on this website, but this album splutters quality all over your face, licks it off with a big lizard tongue, then spits all the quality back in your face again.

You see, for someone who's made his diminuitive name giving us his take on Janet Jackson and Diana Ross (now there's a duet I'd like to see), a lot of these tracks are a bit too slow, a bit too subtle and dangerously hypnotic. And that's a good thing.

As for individual cuts, I'm not mad on the funkiness of Sun Shadow, even though Mr Scruff has been pummeling away at that track like a Daily Mail reader who's just discovered a hammer for the first time. But Mark E's reworks of Slave 1 and Plastic People are house music at its most sexy and sublime.


Finally, us IDM fans have been dropped a cracking album from Los Angeles beat scientist Shlohmo (pictured above, not to be confused with the beatboxer with a similar name).

Shlomoshun Deluxe is an album of brittle lo-fi beats in the Hudson Mohawke / J Dilla vein. And when I say lo-fi, I'm not kidding. He plugged a mic into his laptop, along with his dad's ancient Jupiter 6 (an old Roland synth with clunky knobs) and, somehow, expected to produce a good album.
He did: it's my favourite album this week. The emphasis is all on the groove, and it has a David Holmes wideness to it - which is a remarkable achievement considering he made the whole thing from sellotape, string, splittle and sausages. Well, maybe not the sausages.

1 comment:

miku said...

Hudson Mohawke / J Dilla vein well said:)