There’s nothing dull about this spate of widely divergent electronic releases, which range from fiery house and neo-soul to psychedelic electro-pop.
British Neo-Soul: Quantic
English producer Will Holland (Quantic) returns from his world travels with the single “Creation (East L.A.) Featuring Jimetta Rose.” Holland’s globe-trotting is evident in his music and he’s also always been something of a crate-digger, plundering London’s dusty markets for rare vinyl to inspire his sound.
Holland returns to the U.S. fresh from a tour of Colombia, where the British Council sponsored his accordion-laden partnership as Óndatropica with cumbia luminaries that spans three generations. His wanderlust ways also took him to Asia and the barrios of East Los Angeles.
The world travels influence this tribute — fittingly released under the project name Western Transient — informed by neo-soul that sounds as rich as analog recordings of the ‘70s. The approach makes the “Creation” project an inquiry into soulful American jazz that spans the past and present.
Spare House: Tomas Barfod’s Glory
Tomas Barfod’s Glory EP on the stellar Friends of Friends imprint finds the Danish producer balancing spare and haunting synth-driven tracks with uplifting keys. The album features a cast of superior musicians, including vocal starlet Nina K on “Used to Be,” Fine’s compelling chants on “Fill Me” and Sekuoia and Kill J on “Glass Slipper.”
Nadastrom remixed “Fill Me” with a dark and lucid treatment reminiscent of Drexciya or The Other People Place’s timeless Lifestyles of the Laptop Cafe. Barfod is also the producer and drummer of prolific Danish group WhoMadeWho, and is prolific in his own right, with releases on Get Physical, Turbo and Kompakt.
Bouncing Brightness: Santigold 99¢
“Banshee” is a single from the forthcoming Santigold album, 99¢, slated for release February 26. The track meanders through bouncing bright percussion and kick drums. Santigold collaborated with numerous musicians on the album, including Zeds Dead, B.C. and iLoveMakonnen.
Lo-Fi Electropop: Junior Boys’ Big Black Coat
Junior Boys’ throwback album Big Black Coat is reminiscent of 1980s production in the vein of new romantic genre artists such as Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD), Heaven 17 and Tears for Fears.
Driving, lo-fi electropop marries adventurous vocal treatments with drum machine programming and simplistic snares. In this case, less is more. A whimsical rework of “What You Won’t Do for Love” by soul crooner Bobby Caldwell is the album highlight.
Upending Psychedelia: Animal Collective’s Painting With
Critics are divided when it comes to Animal Collective. One school of thought lauds the band’s precocious approach to production as visionary, while the opposing school maintains the band is somewhat pretentious and overwrought.
Whether precocious, pretentious or Mesozoic, Painting With is a reinterpretation of both psychedelia and upside-down music theory. Vocals resemble circuit-bent Speak & Spell diatribes with production traversing a carnival sideshow of kazoo sounds, spare drum machines, fruity loops, irreverent lyrics and psychedelic floral vaudeville. The band recorded in Western Studios in Los Angeles, host to artists like The Beach Boys and Michael Jackson, amidst a candlelit reverence complete with kiddie pools and projected dinosaurs on the walls.
Tech House: Kerrier District “4 Remixes”
The Kerrier District’s “4 Remixes” single is a fresh reinterpretation of the original Luke Vibert offering from the Hypercolour label with treatments from Ricardo Villalobos, Max Loderbauer, KiNK and Head High.
Throwing Snow Compilation: Axioms
While Axioms has been out since November on Fabric imprint Houndstooth, the sound is still fresh.
The album is a compilation of the various 2015 releases by Throwing Snow producer Ross Tones. The digital version accompanies a limited-edition run of 500 immaculate vinyl records featuring translucent vinyl with a green splatter radiating from the spindle hole and a classy translucent PVC sleeve.
Dancefloor Anthems: R3HAB & Burns “Near Me”
The Spinnin’ Records imprint is known for driving dancefloor anthems, and the latest offering from Dutch DJ R3HAB and England’s Burns, “Near Me,” maintains its eminent repute with this house slammer.
Berlin Electronic: Moderat “Reminder”
Moderat, the debauched love child of the marriage of producers Apparat and Modeselektor, released the single “Reminder” as a tease of their forthcoming Mute/Monkeytown album III, due April 1. The duo will kick off a world tour coinciding with the album release. Visit Pitchfork for the full tour dates.
U.K. Garage: MJ Cole “Alcatraz”
East London drum & bass veteran MJ Cole returns with the slow build and vocal treatments characteristic of the garage genre. The album title, Alcatraz, is a fitting metaphor for jailbreak, as slow builds give way to explosive breaks and spare percussion.