This month's music round-up includes third installment in the wonderful We Make It Good series (presented by Shilo) from Sinden, debut album from Santogold, debut album Jupiter Jive from new Soma recruit Mark Henning, debut eponymous album from The Black Ghosts and finally, Slam's take on the own Sci Fi Hi Fi series.
Shilo Presents: Sinden
Kick-ass mix from versatile DJ
Third in the top-notch Shilo series from Sinden easily proves to be the equal of the inaugural stonker from Pretty Titty. It bounces along with great gusto and attitude, mixing the distinctive sounds of Fake Blood with bhangra with dub and grime. It demands your immediate attention. I'm looking forward to Sinden's Fabric mix, whenever that comes out.
10/10 | 8 listens
Santogold - Santogold
Cool eighties pop, no filler
On the strength of the inclusion of the Santogold track Creator on the Pretty Titty mix (and general rave reviews in the press) I decided to pick up the debut album from Philadelphia-based Santi White. And after 20-odd listens I still can't help but hear the likes of Nik Kershaw (L.E.S Artistes), The Police (You'll Find A Way), The Pretenders (Lights Out) and a whole raft of other eighties artists.
I also hear contemporary influences like M.I.A. (My Superman) and overall the production is definitely now. However, if you're a cynical old bastard like me, you're bound to agree it sounds more than a little derivative. Any sucker for pop would still be listening after 20-odd listens!
The general vibe is poppy and upbeat which makes it perfect party music. Standout tracks are I'm A Lady with it's cool Kim Deal-inspired baseline and Anne for it's pure pop goodness.
8/10 | 20 listens
Mark Henning - Jupiter Jive
Deep, dark and throbbing debut
Half-German, half-English Mark Henning fits snuggly into the Soma stable yet manages to stand out with his distinctive blend of house and techno. His debut album proves he can create a strangely compelling yet sinister atmosphere.
Although there's sections where nothing much seems to happen, like the sequence of three tracks from BB Roger to I Lost My Brain At Wrinchout there's plenty of subtle textures throughout to keep your interest piqued. And as the RA review states, the song titles themselves have a story to tell.
So, with a steady pace the album proceeds, subtle melodies, mostly battered and bruised by chunky beats, begin to emerge and after a few listens you too could be hooked. Stand out tracks include Almaha913 with it's oddly-fitting football-results sample, Bobadob with it's spacey, throbbing refrain and new single All Star Geek. Yeah, I like it.
8/10 | 8 listens
The Black Ghosts - The Black Ghosts
Well produced but lacks punch
I'm still undecided about the debut album from Theo Keating and Simon Lord aka The Black Ghosts. Having been seriously impressed with their Mixtape from a few weeks ago (review here), which contained quite a few BG cuts, I felt pretty certain I'd be in for a quality ride with their debut long-player, but I'm disappointed to say there's something vital missing from this album, I just can't put my finger on it!
Overall, it sounds great: it's well-produced, with great singing from Lord (including album highlight Repetition Kills You - a duet with Damon Albarn) and the songs offer a decent range of pace albeit the majority being somewhat slow. I want to love this album I just can't. Hmmm.
10 listens | 6/10
Slam - Sci Fi Hi Fi Vol. 5
Understated quality = Slam
I'm still listening to number 4 in this excellent Soma mix-series from Funk D'Void but never managed to fit in a review then so I'm not going to pass up on the opportunity to pass my mighty judgement on the label boss's efforts!
So, Slam take up the reigns for their debut in the Sci Fi Hi Fi series and thankfully don't fail to satisfy. Their secret is clear to me: they select quality tunes from worthy artists (albeit rather underground artists!). Social Material, Matthias Meyer, Matthias Tanzmann, Funkwerskatt, Danton Eeprom anyone? Well, I haven't heard of them. All good though.
Of course it's not all down to the artists, there's the sequencing, pace, mood, melodies and textures. And Slam are so experienced it comes as no surprise to find it's all there in subtle spades. A chilled-out mix to listen to with headphones at night.
9/10 | 6 listens