Best of 2019






Whereas Ostgut Ton has made its name by delivering era-defining techno and house tracks, the past couple of years have seen the Berghain’s in-house label considerably expanding its sound. While still sticking to the label’s core aesthetic of dense, stoic electronics, recent releases from Answer Code Request, Barker and Vatican Shadow have all expanded Ostgut Ton’s sonic universe in exciting ways. Now, we can add Shed’s fifth LP Oderbruch to that list.

Like Answer Code Request’s Gens full-length, Oderbruch moves out from a techno base to incorporate influences as diverse as breakbeat, IDM and ambient composition. Tracks like ‘Die Oder’ and ‘Sterbende Alleen’ scuttle along at jungle tempo, their drums flitting impishly around the monitors, while ‘Menschen Und Mauern’ combines rolling breaks with a sound pitched somewhere between gothic techno and the wistful revivalism of Lorenzo Senni. These are offset by a number of fizzing DJ tools that come with the gravity and weight of other classic Ostgut Ton drops.

Shed says that the primary source of inspiration for Oderbruch is the East German region of the same name in which he grew up. This affinity for the area’s forestry and halcyon nostalgia for youth is rendered in a record full of lush, almost utopian sonics. Oderbruch bursts with bright synth tones that shimmer with the lucidity of a hazy memory, inviting you as a listener to also inhabit this dream-state. It makes for some hugely evocative moments.

Shed’s new album Oderbruch is some of the most verdant and varied music that the one born Rene Pawlowitz has ever made.


Trust In The Lifeforce Of The Deep Mystery

The Comet Is Coming


Right from the first shimmering chords and astral sax of opener ‘Because the End Is Really the Beginning’, you know London trio The Comet Is Coming are about to expand your mind with Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery. Aptly released on legendary jazz label Impulse! Records, former home of Alice Coltrane and her husband John, the combined influence of the genre’s psychedelic period melds here with synth-driven, dystopian sci-fi and Flying Lotus-esque, swaggering ’n’ squelchy electronica. Shabaka Hutchings - surely the busiest reeds man on the scene - is this generation’s Miles Davis for all his fearless genre-bending. This album just proves the point.


Grass And Trees

Earthen Sea


Jacob Long used to be the bassist in Mi Ami, a group who pushed the no-wave style of acts like Liquid Liquid into the frenzied noise terrain sometimes occupied by the Mars Volta. However, these days the music that Long makes as Earthen Sea is considerably quieter and more reserved. Grass And Trees, the project’s latest full-length, is a world away from the sound of Long’s previous band.

Grass And Trees is a gentle sigh of a record, one that is rarely troubled by percussive sounds. This isn’t to say there’s not motion to the tracks here - the delays that flicker away all across Grass And Trees nudge the album towards the Echocord school of dub techno - but this is not an LP for which rhythm is the primary concern. Instead these synthetic tracks drift languidly on, too busy to be readily described as ambient music yet neither quick nor urgent enough for anything other than home listening. Only on the skittering ‘Window, Skin, And Mirror’ do we get anywhere close to the club. Jan Jelinek, Thomas Fehlmann and Oval are among the artists brought to mind here, but really Grass And Trees exists in a space very much of its own.

Earthen Sea’s second LP for Kranky is a soft, intriguing excursion into hinterland electronics.



Cosey Fanni Tutti


Industrial icon Cosey Fanni Tutti presents her first solo album in 36 years, TUTTI.

The eight pieces were originally recorded as a soundtrack to her autobiographical film Harmonic Coumaction, through a series of live performances that accompanied the COUM Transmissions retrospective which opened Hull UK City of Culture 2017. Shortly after, Cosey presented 'Harmonic Coumaction’ as an audio-visual installation for her solo exhibition at the Cabinet Gallery in London. As Cosey explains... "Working on the COUM Transmissions exhibition also coincided with writing my autobiography - collating archive material and re-engaging with my past. My work is a continuum, the past feeding the present and vice versa. The album is an interpretation of my past and present, of my understanding the shifting perceptions of how they inform one another. One form creating another through a metamorphic process.”

On TUTTI, the 'Harmonic Coumaction' soundtrack has been updated and enhanced with elements re-recorded, processed and poured over until they resemble new sonic structures, creating a vivid stand-alone document that takes the music into new dimensions. Despite being the first solo release from Cosey since her astonishing 1982 album Time To Tell (recently issued for the first time on vinyl also via Conspiracy International), Cosey has constantly refined her sound through her pioneering electronic music solo and as Chris & Cosey, Carter Tutti and Carter Tutti Void.

TUTTI updates the industrial lineage of Cosey's past art with a stark techno chill, this is industrial music as reflected in the steel like sleeve design, the waves of history bouncing off the music's cold to the touch, glass-like shimmer.


Closer To Grey



Closer To Grey is the fifth studio album of Portland electronica/synth band Chromatics -  the first album the band released since 2012.

"Amongst others, it contains reverent cover versions of Simon & Garfunkel's The Sound Of Silence or Jesus And Mary Chain's On The Wall. The minimalistic Synth-Sound of previous albums is not lost though, and singer Ruth Radelet proves once again how tender and at the same time powerful a voice can sound."


You Can't Steal My Joy

Ezra Collective


There’s a claim to be made that Ezra Collective’s You Can’t Steal My Joy is the most eagerly anticipated debut full-length by a UK artist for some time. The group’s popularity has exploded over these past couple of years. Since the release of breakout EP Juan Pablo: The Philosopher back in 2017 the band have won numerous awards, headlined festivals and played to thousands on tour. Group members like Joe Armon-Jones have become hot prospects in their own right, and the band have even performed at Quincy Jones’ birthday party. No pressure, then.

Of course, Ezra Collective rise above it all on You Can’t Steal My Joy. London’s wild new jazz sound - a scene that Ezra Collective have been an integral part of since day one - is the guiding principle here. This means that, while the group root themselves in learned harmony and instrumental chops, they also bring a huge range of different genres into play to give the record depth.

Take the run of ‘Red Whine’, ‘Quest For Coin’ and ‘Reason In Disguise’. The former sees Ezra Collective reaching to reggae, Ethio-jazz and dub - it’s the sort of graceful stylistic blend that only a band who really know what they’re doing can pull off. ‘Red Whine’ is followed by the club-ready ‘Quest For Coin’, an up-tempo dance tune that stans Moses Boyd and Rhythm Section International. After this they pull back and let Jorja Smith take centre-stage on the gorgeous neo-soul jam ‘Reason In Disguise’. These are three very disparate takes that are all made to feel natural by Ezra Collective’s controlled sound. A guest list that includes rapper Loyle Carner and London Afro-warriors KOKOROKO is further demonstration of You Can’t Steal My Joy’s rich variety.

Ezra Collective’s debut LP will probably define the direction of British jazz for the next few years. A celebration of diversity both in music and in life, You Can’t Steal My Joy is a record as righteous as its title suggests.



Miles Atmospheric


Steven Rutter’s FireScope Records welcome Miles Atmospheric (Miles Sagnia) into the fold. On the SkyHealer EP the producer appears to be immediately at home in his surroundings. Much like other releases on the label from artists like Kirk DeGiorgio, John Shima and Bauri, SkyHealer is a set of inquisitive and stargazing modern electronics. ‘Exoplanetology’ and ‘Waters Of Life’ have a strong Detroit techno flavour to them, ‘See The Light’ goes electro and ‘Our Future’ is the downtempo entry.


Lux Prima

Karen O & Danger Mouse


Karen O says:  “After making music for the past twenty years and embarking on making this record with Danger Mouse I knew a couple things: one was that the spirit of collaboration between us was going to be a pure one, and two was that the more I live the less is clear to me. When you create from a blurry place you can go places further than you’ve ever been. I think we both were excited to go far out.”

The voice of the Naughties teams up with the producer to the (cool!) stars and the result is stunning! Karen O has been rather quiet lately. Her lo-fi solo record ‘Crush Songs’ (2014) was preceded by the least interesting Yeah Yeah Yeahs record so far (2013's ‘Mosquito’) so it’s really refreshing to firstly hear her in a new context, and secondly, singing some flipping good pop songs again. The title of this record loosely translates as “luxury first” and yes, it does what it says on the tin! Dangermouse mines a similar sonic seam to his cinematic soundscapes with Daniel Luppi (2011’s ‘Rome’) whilst of course staying true to his downtempo template. But with sweeping strings and beautiful blends of funk, pop, soul and disco, all luxuriously spacey and deliciously swoony, you’ll be in for a nice surprise: the mix with Karen’s distinctive voice really does work. She’s never sounded better.



Dominik Eulberg


Producer, biologist, and ecologist Dominik Eulberg announces new album ‘Mannigfaltig’ – a plea to help save nature’s biodiversity.

Finally. More than eight years after Diorama, Dominik Eulberg releases his long awaited fifth studio album Manni- gfaltig. With twelve elaborate pieces of music, he creates a burning plea to preserve the breathtaking biodiversity of nature and at the same time warns of the threat posed to it by humans. It is a detailed record that demands close listening and showcases Eulberg's considerable synth craft, with drawn out pads and delicate keys laid over undulating rhythms that slowly take you through a wide range of emotions. Elements of ambient, downtempo, electronica, pop and minimal are infused with the sounds of nature, a choral sense of musicality and wistful air of grace across all the majestically composed pieces.



Aleksi Perälä


Colundi - a tuning system that subverts Western musical scales in favour of a series of resonant frequencies known as “the Colundi Sequence.” Using this musical scale Finnish artist Aleksi Perälä has released numerous works of mystical braindance techno on a number of Clone's sublabels, Trip Recordings and his own AP Musik.

With 'Resonance', Perälä returns to Nina Kraviz's Trip Recordings. He explains how the record was made half in Montreal, Canada, half in Lahti, Finland and how it’s been 6 years 7 months and 19 days since he started to base all his musical output on the colundi sequence. That began with the release of the seminal Colundi Sequence Vol 1 (recently reissued at long last). 'Resonance' sounds like some of his best work to date and Perälä continues where he always leaves off, with a collection of melodic, transcendent techno, equally suited to home listening as well as the dance floor.

Colundi everyOne.