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Playlist, May 2012

April 19, 2012
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Photek
DJ-Kicks
!K7

WHILE WE wait breathlessly for Rupert Parkes’ next move, he gives up a taste with four new tracks for his hour-long DJ-Kicks set. Don’t expect the obvious though; besides the smooth dubstep-meets-“Ni Ten Ichi Ryu” flavors of “Azymuth,” he plays it close to the vest, allowing the surrounding cuts to flow over and through his originals. The highlight: a synth-washed “No Agenda,” sandwiched between Photek & Pinch’s dark-tech “M25FM” and Baby Ford & Eon’s trippy “Dead Eye.” Drum-n-bass drops are few, but this is Photek we’re talking about, still at his ambient and funky best.  BILL MURPHY

 

Various
Future Sounds of Jazz Vol. 12
COMPOST

Dating back to 1995, the FSOJ comps mysteriously combined dance artists that produced singular sounds, even given the so-called “electronic revolution” then erupting worldwide. This two-disc set never fails to excite, from the cosmic drones of Der Dritte Raum and the slice-and-dice bass riffs of Holmby Hills to the synthetic swing of Andreas Saag. Uneasy listening abounds, through superior production and trance-like states.  KEN MICALLEF


Spiritualized
Sweet Heart Sweet Light
DOUBLE SIX/SPACEMAN

At this writing, Jason Pierce is in the midst of remixing his seventh album with Spiritualized, but that doesn’t mean we can’t wax lyrical about what’s been leaked to press. SHSL is loaded with the expansive sonic lushness, guitar feedback and garage psychedelia we’ve come to expect, but the real strength here resides in Pierce’s poignant songcraft, from the heart-shredding “Heading for the Top,” which channels Roxy Music’s devil-may-care Eno heyday, to the stringsoaked gospel ode “Life Is a Problem.”  BILL MURPHY

M. Ward
A Wasteland Companion
MERGE
There were many hands in the kitchen, cooking up the sixth solo album by the male half of She & Him, M. Ward, including eight engineers, and more than twice as many musicians. The sounds are as eclectic as this versatile musician’s talents: sometimes gritty with processed vocals and distorted guitars; others, intimate with intricate strings and quiet voices. But throughout, there’s that old-fashioned sweetness and charm, and that delicacy, that graces everything Ward touches.  BARBARA SCHULTZ
 
 

Portland Cello Project
Homage
JEALOUS BUTCHER
Combine a mini cello orchestra with a love for all things hip-hop and you’ve got Homage, the first ever album to cover “She Will” (L’il Wayne), “That’s My Bitch” and “H.A.M.” (Kanye West and Jay-Z), and “Hey Ya” (Outkast) with an ear to Rostropovich and Yo-Yo Ma. Recorded at “studio spaces and sacred spaces all over Portland,” Homage makes hip-hop palatable to hipsters and blue-hairs alike. It’s funky, it’s fly, it’s Johann Sebastian Bach channeling an MPC.  KEN MICALLEF


 
Orbital
Wonky
ACP RECORDINGS
Brothers Phil and Paul Hartnoll helped define 1990s “electronica” with squelchy, pitchbent, blissed-out loops. Their first album since 2004 doesn’t redraft the blueprint, but adds gloss to open-air-arenasized presets. Nostalgic MIDI pianos, celestial portamento, LFO cutoffs, and animated stabs achieve melodic transport. Neither overly goofy nor aggressively augmented, Wonky is a well-mannered bridge between 2012’s in-the-box sequencing and 1992’s analog burbling, with nods to Detroit strings and techstep snare rushes, back-masked choruses, and dubstep wobble.  TONY WARE
 

Dr. John
Locked Down
NONESUCH
The great Dr. John’s indelible fusion of supernatural funk and New Orleans blues gets an extra shot of adrenalin from producer Dan Auerbach (of the Black Keys). Auerbach put together the band on this album, and the tunes came out of live jam sessions in Auerbach’s personal studio (Easy Eye, Nashville); Dr. John wrote all of the lyrics after the music tracks were shaped. This is a very groove-y, rhythmic record that adds a modern cast to the veteran’s always soulful work.  BARBARA SCHULTZ
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