Its a bit cold outside, not overly so but colder than it was in the hellish summer time, still warmer than England though even on the cusp of the winter solstice. Let's not get sidetracked, it's cold enough that some of you might be skulking around indoors anyway; If so chuck these on the stereo and prepare for your cockles to be thoroughly warmed.
James Blake - CMYK EP
James Blake is a bit of a worry. How can one man produce such peerless music in such an unconventional way without overstepping the mark and disappearing into obscurity? Christ knows, lets just be glad that this is the case. After the brilliant, lopsided fireworks of The Bells Sketch, Blake has produced his finest work to date on a 4 track release for Belgian label R&S. The title track is stamped with all the hallmarks of a quality Blake production, warped vocal snatches peerlessly arranged from build up to close, woozy off-key synths, urgent skipping drums, the whole shebang. It's a little more accessible than his more recent work, having more in common with Air & Lack Thereof or his remix of Untold's Stop What You're Doing. Footnotes on the other hand starts off very much in the funk laced style present in Buzzard and Kestrel, intricate percussion, bubbling subs and a melting Hammond organ combining to assault your grasp on normality. That is until the halfway mark in the track where a sudden switch transforms it into an altogether different beast, so blissful and soul infused that you'll be smiling peacefully with your eyes closed all the way to the end. I'll Stay is another excellently arranged piece, following in a similarly vocal driven vein as the opener. It may deserve more praise and elaboration but a)I'll run out of superlatives again and b) Postpone, the final track on the EP is so astounding that it's impossible not to fixate upon it instead. The build up is suitably awkward, a cacophony of sounds jostling together to find their rightful place in time for the switch; the wobbly owl noise makes a return and the organ goes insane as muted metallic stabs build the tension. Then, heralded by an angelic rave horn the sumptuous ending rolls in, sounding like Mount Kimbie's Serged wandering lost through a fluffy dreamscape whilst being serenaded by a multi species gospel choir. Delightful.
Mux Mool - Skulltaste
After repeated recommendations from a friend, Mux Mool's debut album Skulltaste has finally made it's way to my headphones and true to his insistence this one is pretty special. The whole album has an incredible handmade sound that is woefully absent in so many producers work, pasting together found sounds and dusty drums with a vast array of lush synths. Not that this makes it at all unapproachable, quite the opposite in fact, the whole album is warm and diverse, imbued with a rainbow-hued mdma blur that drenches your senses with its infectious enthusiasm. Perhaps the finest hip hop/electronica I've heard in a while and certainly the most uplifting, there's a couple of sojourns into more dancefloor territory but for the most part it happily transports you around it's own euphoric cosmos of beats. It's unusual for something with such a plethora of fluorescent, plastic sounds to have such depth and soul but thats exactly what Mux Mool has accomplished here, definitely a post club gem and something that may very well become my pick me up listen on rainy days.
However it isn't all Casio keyboards and pixellated sunshine; there's also an undercurrent of nostalgic melancholy that washes out from beneath the rainbow facade from time to time, and perhaps it's this that balances the whole affair out; manipulating your emotional response in much the same way as Boards of Canada's The Campfire Headphase. Picking highlights is difficult owing to the consistent excellency on show so here's a few at random: The title track stands out for it's relentlessly cheery vibe, sounding in equal parts like Samiyam, Slugabed (on his best beahviour) and a much less sleazy Rustie at the top of his game. Then there's Dandelion, bringing the hitherto unexplored medium of a gangster lean peppered with infant musicbox chimes, music for chilling in the crib on more than one level (yeah, sorry about that). And finally Get Better John which sounds like Daft Punk and Boards of Canada scoring a eulogy for the creator of the S-NES. In any case its all pretty awesome and definitely worthy of a dip into your piggy bank.
Dimlite - Prismic Tops
This is nothing short of astonishing, even more so in light of the fact that there's a couple of wicked older tunes on here that finally get to see the light of day. Said tunes and his remix for Flying Lotus' LA 2x3 Ep aside, I have been largely ignorant of his work and subsequently poorer for it. On listening to Prismic Tops it becomes apparent that Dimlite is very much a musician as opposed to a just being a beatmaker or bedroom producer; more akin to Flying Lotus in his approach than to many of his other peers. There's a noticeable Jazz lean present in the composition but its nicely understated beneath the whirlwind of styles and influences that sweep through the record. Equally he refuses to be confined to conventional samples, the opening track Kalimba Deathswamp uses the sound of masking tape being pulled of the roll as an element of the percussion, much in the same way that Nosaj Thing did in 1683/Bach. Then there's the jaw dropping sounds of Sunsized Twinkles, seemingly utilising a recording of an iron lung to provide the bare bones of it's beat structure. The track itself is stunning despite being one of the most unconventional pieces of music you'll hear all year, complete with an insanity inducing vocal and wobbling off key synths; the combination of which sound like a futuristic music-bot reaching the limits of it's battery life but desperately squeezing out one more song for all it's worth. However the most incredible cut on here has to be Elbow Flood, starting out like a soundscape b-side from Amon Tobin's Foley Room before a ghostly vocal rises from the depths to trigger a nicely understated drop. The track plays out with an awesome kick snare arrangement, violently jarring strings and a superbly confusing vocal track that resonates as much as it unnerves. If like me you've been ignorant thus far, now is definitely the time to bring a little Dimlite into your life.