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Oct 21, 2017

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Minus 8; Walkner.Mostl; Tosca; PJ Harvey…
by Clive Smith, Jane Rocca
Magazine Issue: AUS/NZ Issue One

The sound of now - nu-jazz, latino breaks, future funk, downbeat, deephouse, electronica. Factor in d+b, dub, trip-hop, lounge-core - just don't call it chill out. That would be a marketing term - like bottom line or profit curve.

Turntables, stand-up bass, samplers, bongo drums. Smoky vocals but most often not. Is that the album name or the band? Weird-arse labels mostly out of Germany/France/Scandinavia. Pockets of UK brilliance like Pork and Ultimate Dilemma. ESL and Guidance from the US. And our very own Creative Vibes.

Airports, bedrooms, personal players, better beer barns.

Here's some recent releases - all of them essential.

Minus 8/Elysian Fields/Compost

Turntables go up to +8 on the speed slider. This is Swiss groover Robert Jan Meyer's project to wind things back a bit. Impeccable Latino inflected organic beats with intelligently constructed live elements. Jazzy, funky, deep. Meyer's record collection is doubtless covetously diverse. In DJ mode he's the guy behind the indispensable Science Fiction Jazz compiles, now up to volume five. Morphed into Minus 8 he slides effortlessly into our home entertainment systems - and open arms.
- Clive Smith

Walkner.Mostl/Heaven or Hell/G-Stone

If Kruder and Dorfmeister are the big daddy pilots of the European mothership, then Walkner and Mostl are their most favoured sons. Out of G-Stone where K + D do their separate things, Heaven and Hell is up there at the same giddy heights as Peter Kruder's '99 benchmark, Peace Orchestra. While Dorfmeister flips out new releases like a ninja throwing star knives, Kruder is frustratingly reserved. This unheralded gem by Walkner and Mostl, who must have been waterboys on the hallowed K + D Sessions, eases the pain like high grade hospital dope.
- Clive Smith

Tosca/Suzuki in dub/G-Stone

At the root of the very best modern electronica is a method as crucial as the soundsystem itself. That method is dub. Whenever brother Dorfmeister does the Tosca with confidante Rupert Huber, they're cannily scheming on the dub mixes. Not content to warp the weft themselves, the Tosca combine smoke the word to all the Vienna scientists. Dub me, dub me, dub me. Difficult as it may seem to top the revered original, Suzuki is so good remixed/dubbed you wonder if they had this in mind all along.
- Clive Smith

Black Jazz Chronicles/Future JuJu/Nuphonic

Released in '97 but strangely not available here until recently, Future JuJu is UK hero Ashley Beadle's intrepid exploration into leftfield Afro jazz. Dark rhythms, free flowing basslines and a roots sensibility that makes you wish you grew up on the streets of Lagos. Track 9, The World Will Rock is sustained metronomic slow burn lifted by a writhing sax. The very next is so funky it could be the new theme for Shaft. Earlier, on Ancient Future, we're peering in on some deep jungle voodoo jig. Go.
- Clive Smith

PJ Harvey/Stories From The City, Stories From the Sea/Universal Island Records

Stories From The City, Stories From the Sea is PJ Harvey's latest album since 1998's Is This Desire and speaks of her love/hate relationship of both water and land. Renowned for her theatrical posturing, Harvey's new work is whitewashed in sombre melancholy and contrasted by quiet yet uplifting moments. She seeks an escape in Big Exit where she wanders aimlessly around lyrics of guns and getaways. Good Fortune sees her explore a folkish howl over a bustling of guitars that is instantly reminiscent of Patti Smith. A harmonic displacement is felt in A Place Called Home - here Harvey's vocals roll around twinkling guitars and percussive strings supplied by the Bad Seeds' Mick Harvey. Radiohead's Thom Yorke lends a bleak vocal wail on Beautiful Feeling while the pair get lost in morbid romanticism in The Mess We're In. Harvey's unsettled yet aroused ambience tugs at Yorke's weeping isolation, carving a truly spectacular moment in compulsive melancholy, making this a fine album.
- Jane Rocca

Augie March/Sunset Studies/BMG

The lonely instrumental pleading of The Hole In Your Roof - the opening track on Augie March's debut album Sunset Studies gives insight into the sonic and brooding explorations these guys have come to love and do well. But by the time There Is No Such Place comes along a darker sullen piano takes the lead and vocalist Glen Richards' lyrics linger delicately in the background. Tulip is pricked by a romantic frailty and guitar strings. Augie March's quiet musical journey inspires an ode of love in Men Who Follow Spring The Planet Round. Here Comes The Night is held together by crescendos of guitars and Richard's Jeff Buckley vocal impressions, which is also evident in the band's popular song, Asleep In Perfection.
- Jane Rocca

The Avalanches/Since I Left You/Modular

The long anticipated debut album from Melbourne's Avalanches comes wrapped in stylised beats, synthesiser manipulation and a booty '70s shake. A glamorous coco rhythm tugs at the opening track Since I Left while a disco funk imbued with a progressive beat completes the energy in Radio. Avalanche Rock is a short hip-hop-inspired wordplay diversion while Flight Tonight is a beat heavy track with moments of hip-hop groove. A Different Feeling is a dreamy mix of beats while the contagious Frontier Psychiatrist takes you on a loopy journey. The lads include a sample of Madonna's Holiday on the album; the first time the singer has allowed a band to use her song. This is funky, laidback and just what you need for a lazy summer night.
- Jane Rocca

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