Massive Attack “100th Window” (Melankolic/Delabel)
Anticipation is the state most associated with the release of a new Massive Attack record. And there have only been four such occasions in the last 13 years, so expectations are high. But with DJ Mushroom gone (was he pushed or did he jump?) and Daddy Gee “on a sabbatical,” that leaves only Robert “3D” Del Naja at the controls of the sound that created a movement and inspired a generation. “100th Window” is an impeccable production, but misses the urban grittiness that identified the group as the progenitors of the Bristol sound. Gone are the direct hip hop influences despite Mos Def’s appearance on last year’s “I Against I” and there is less melodic structure. Instead, 3D has drifted toward the Middle East in a move to warm-up the cold electronic tones of “Mezzanine.” The tormenting Oriental strings on single “Special Cases” are an indication of what to expect, as is the equally tormenting vocal of a resurrected Sinead O’Connor. The Irish singer oozes presence, like Tracey Thorn and Liz Frasier before her, but there is a conflict of styles between Gallic and Arabic. 80 hour’s worth of guitar sessions with Lupine Howl were scrapped before finalizing this album and more material with Mike Patton and Tom Waits could be released on another LP within 12 months. A loss of direction for 3D? Maybe someone should show him the way back to Bristol.
Tosca “Dehli9” (G-Stone/Pias)
Richard Dorfmeister and Rupert Huber’s last album “Suzuki” quickly established itself as a fixed reference point on the map of Europe’s trip hop terrain. Their deep, hard hypnotic dub became a virtual downtempo science. “Dehli9” after the Austrian duo’s original, pre-Tosca working name sees a return to their early days, where composing organic songs was an experimental learn-as-you-go laboratory. Both musicians contribute passages performed on a variety of instruments, most notably the guitar and flute. The fluidity of these live sounds and analog inputs casts the listener into the eye of a peaceful storm. CD2, an unwarranted “bonus” takes this to extremes. The first couple of tracks on CD1, however, feature a pleasant enough vocalist, Anna Clementi, who breezes through an imaginary encounter with Yoko Ono. MC Tweed’s toasting skills switch the mood to a dancehall vibe on “Gute Laune,” but the most outstanding contribution comes from Earl Zinger (recently escaped from Ibiza!), on the forthcoming single “Wonderful.” Weaving muted beats with minimal bass textures, it demonstrates the versatility of Dorfmeister and Huber’s production, as well as opening new horizons over that arid terrain someone once called trip hop. Out Feb 24
Erland Øye "Unrest" (Source)
If adventure is the theme behind this record, then Erland Øye, better known as the nerdy guy from Kings of Convenience, is Norway’s answer to Indiana Jones. From Metro Area’s Morgan Geist in New York to Schneider TM in Berlin, via Minizza in Rennes and Mr Velcro Fastener in Turku, Erland has hooked up with ten producers from ten cities to make ten songs all of which just about manage to “unite” the leftfield approach to making uncool music sound cool. Allying the starry-eyed harmonies of KOC with an electronic backdrop of synthesized pop sounds from the ’80s, the inertia and sad-happy optimism of Erland’s songwriting remains, but is transcended by a sense of sonic progression and musical movement. Goes to show that musos should get out of the studio a bit more. Out Feb 11
Compilations “Laws of Motion Vol. 2” (LOM/Discograph)
Chris Fleming’s West London-based Laws of Motion a label that “owes as much to Stevie Wonder as Derrick May” sprung up around the ideology and music being played at Bar Rumba’s legendary Monday night session “That’s How It Is.” Compiled by resident DJ Ben Wilcox, Volume 2 takes a trip through the label’s more deep house-influenced catalog, with remixes from backroom groove selectors like King Britt and Jazztronik. Phil Asher’s Back 2 Earth project scores a hit with “Warp One,” a sensual flirtation with techno and soul, while BB Boogie’s interpretation of Roy Ayer’s “Universal Sound” stays faithful to the label’s funky bass-led rhythms. Throw in three tracks from Modaji West London’s very own Carl Craig and you begin to understand what’s so deep about deep house.
“How to Kill the DJ (part 1)” (Tigersushi/Discograph)
Meanwhile in Paris… Ivan Smagghe, compiler of the Nova Test mixes and one half of futur-electro duo Black Strobe, gives a lesson on how to Kill the DJ an education formed around the party of the same name at Paris club Le Pulp. Produced by Pulp patron Fany and released through Paris imprint Tigersushi, this digital dancefloor bombshell proves the city kids are still going crazy for electro…
“DJ-Kicks: Tiga” (!K7/Pias)
…So if electro is forecast as the order of the day, then the boys behind the DJ-Kicks series won’t want to be left out in the musical cold. That’s why they enlisted Tiga, the Canadian producer cum glam DJ, responsible for the electro anthem “Sunglasses at Night” to deliver a seamless mix of sleazy party tracks. And as you’d expect, the Montreal kid parties hard. With a box containing cuts from Jolly Music, Crowdpleaser, Codec & Flexor and, naturally, a couple of his own tracks (including a cover of Miss Kittin’s “Madame Hollywood”), Tiga looks set to become the undisputed queen of electroclash.