Got to be my favourite compilation of the year. A weird thing: as a whole it feels like it could be from one artist, just variations on beautiful, dreamy, synthy ambient from folks I’ve never heard of. But it also doesn’t all sound the same. A second weird thing: several tracks remind me of what I’m trying to do in recent months with my own music. Strange synchronicity.
Funki Porcini shows up, with a nice floating thing with far away voices that is nothing like what I remember him doing on Ninja Tune back last century. Mind you, I could point to someone else who did downtempo beats stuff and is now much more in the ambient camp. 😇
Some of the same artists are doing dancey vinyl on New_Words’ sister label and the album is tagged “grime”! 🤔 I guess if anything that weird, beatless version of grime that I never quite understood as a kind of dance music? It’s got the kind of sound selections and vibes that show up in dancier contexts, but no sign of drums here.
I hope New_Words are selling well off Bandcamp, because it’s bizarre how few people seem to have picked this up. Previous releases quote write ups from other music shops, so… 🤞
Teebs – Did It Again (self-released)
A nice wee single with Panda Bear from Animal Collective singing on the first track. Teebs is a producer with connections to that LA beat scene that included folks like Flying Lotus, Gasface Killer, Ras G, et al. He doesn’t release often, but when he does I pay attention. His style’s prettier, more delicate than most, often featuring acoustic sounds such as guitars, harps, and so on. Still groove-based in a very good way.
Nueen – Diagrams of Thought (Balmat)
I’m really impressed by this guy. Mostly drum-free, so I guess you’d say ambient, but in a bright and quite melodic way, not droney. And then there are beats and bassy moments that definitely sound like he must listen to plenty of dance music, even when sometimes those sounds are more like punctuation than a steady dancefloor thing.
I smile because it’s literally Balearic music – he’s from Menorca from memory – but not sure it sounds like how people use that as a genre descriptor. Great, anyway.
Cleared – Of Endless Light (Touch)
Beautiful softly swelling tracks, at their best when they have a bit of a metronomic slow mo pulse under them, not vying for attention but just stopping the drones from feeling settled. “Dawn” is heavy in a great way, but the title track is superb.
James Devane – Beauty Is Useless (Umeboshi)
It strikes me everything I’m writing about this time around is something that sounds like it could’ve been released a while back, with a few contemporary flourishes. This is slabs of kinda dubby, but also pretty and bright, techno, reminiscent of Kompakt about 15-20 years ago. Something like the Burger/Ink collaboration maybe.
When I say “slabs”, most tracks don’t really change. Like Devane’s set up some kind of musical system, hit record, let the system run for a bit, then at some point stopped recording again. I kind of love that in this context. Easy to get lost in it.