Traditionally the reserve of fools, April has been a particularly great month for music as our own Mick Muttley can confirm with this months Basal Sounds review feature, jam packed with the sounds of now!
Boozoo Bajou - 4 LP (Apollo)
The subgenre of dub jazz, or jazz dub, as I prefer, centres its aesthetic protocol on a non-decorative wonkiness as much as a textural epoch towards the outer limits. Attention span as a component of active listening is jettisoned and replaced by an angularity to the contrived hook. Boozou Bajou transcends both these typicalities and delivers a full length for Apollo, begun in 1992 as an ambient subset label of R&S Records. They nail stirring over swirling fathoms of dub-styled electronic percussion, trespassing on techno fortitude at times and devolving into ambient soundscapes at others. These ambient trinkets tapestry-weave their feel towards Kompakt's "Pop Ambient" series, and techno's Wolfgang Voigt of GAS is a definite lynchpin. As a whole, the album works excellently, with a variety of spicy flavour for its subgenre, and sticks out as something special that every alternative electronica head should own.
Aya - Strange Flower LP (Naked Music)
Aya, the sultry and sexy songstress responsible for most of Blue Six's deeper house vocal errands, is "waiting for the sun, waiting for the sunshine" on her debut solo album, "Strange Flower", released ten years ago in 2004. It hasn't aged, and compliments the Boozoo Bajou record perfectly, so I'd advise buying those two if you like the sound of the samples as a package at the least. Multifaceted work, like a saxophone connected to a jukebox, emitting sounds of the inner broadcast in Aya's heart. Fluffy cloud pads and fluid vocals are the order, and great house production with a downtempo slant completes the emotional grand slam. Aya's love themes are scented with a romantic angularity: "I love you baby, I'll never give in, ah ahhh" in the chorus of "I'll Never Give In"; "Don't know why we have to fight baby" elsewhere. "Twisted love, can be such a rush" - maybe, but the common strong point of the Aya flower stalk is its moisture towards traditional modes of house, growing from its root as such as a brooding post-dance comedown electronica. Favourite: "Curtain Call", just for the delivery of the lyrics: "This final song, will have to be all / 'cos there's no-one listening, after the curtain call".
Omnimous - Always Not There LP (Irregular Crates)
The first track recalls The Residents' "The Commercial Album" set to techno. But in fact, the scatter graph, ambiguous nature of all the pieces on this varied serving are sparkling with eccentricity mixed with street fog. In the introduction, a reverse scratch sound flumes with trippy beats and electric piano samples. At a future place, disintegrating sound FX marries itself with an E minor chord assemblage that motors up and down like a tranquilised bluebottle. Omnimous, an anonymous artists' "Always Not There" LP is made up of several producers' samples, including my own, and serves as a good welcome to the world of Irregular Crates, Harry Towell aka Spheruleus' home for downtempo, techno and house infused rhythms. It's also a regular blog, taking off where Audio Gourmet began for ambient and drone. Needless to say this isn't tonne-heavy, bone-rattling stuff, instead stooped in mannerism towards a sleepy apothesis. The samples dictate the atmosphere rather than interfering with Omnimous' added, sturdy drum work, which vacillates between a humane paranoia, a psychedelic timbre vanity and a metronomic opacity. Melodies are soporific and infested with bittiness, yet retain a fullness overall through fusion with these beats. At points the instrumental intrusion sinks you in Detroit techno styles a la Morgan Geist. Very nice indeed.
Prince Rapid - Turning Point EP (Ruff Sqwad)
"I've been blessed with talent, I guess you haven't / You've done a few shows but bro who hasn't" Prince Rapid of the renowned Ruff Sqwad deadpans on the strongest track on "Turning Point" EP. It's fittingly the opener, putting the best rhymes at the top, and unfortunately the narrative soon deteriorates into hackneyed guest spots from grime MCs, apart from Tinchy Stryder, whom you've never heard of. It wouldn't be so bad if the productions weren't so good, and to me the 'n' word and autotune has been done to death in hip hop already. Still, let's focus on the positives. Rapid's flow is appropriately machine gun, but it's a greased weapon that slides under the prison door to do damage on the airwaves. "No rest for the wicked no we don't sleep" ("Mission feat. Lil Nasty") emblematizes the musical fantasies of Ruff Sqwad, where while they rap about real life, there is a certain element of cross-bred plagiarism in content. Basically, you'll love this if you love grime, and I love it but don't like the mentality of grime, so that speaks volumes that Prince Rapid has hit on a liquid gold that he can keep close to his chest.
Meanone - Luminescence Of Satellites (Omni Music)
Out Now - Free Download
The bass music spectrum reactivated: techno slinking; UK garage stepping; jungle jugulating; dubstep demonising. Meanone takes a shaved-head approach to genreification, seeing juxtaposition as a welcome synergiser with variety an added bonus, with a smooth cut tapered to early Cookin' Records and GLR 1990s. "Very well kid" and several other coy space transmission samples fit the storyline, a journey through the cosmos where conservative atmospheric d'n'b and jungle tropes are spread out like an albatross' wings. A sublime and sublimative pulse and ear for melodic buoyancy underpins the four tracks. When they all progress, one senses expectations fulfilled. Meanone, despite the pseudonym, definitely doesn't produce mean sounds, although if you take it that he produces in the mean range of elemental compass, that's about right. Classic business and one more gem from Omni Music, and best of all, it's free to download. Go grab, and you can always donate if you feel like it.
Colo - UR (Ki Records)
Colo's music has become more diseased, woozy and off-grid in appearance since 2012's excellent "Midday Sun EP" on Take Records. "Take Mine" on "UR", this full length exemplifies that notion, with certain indecipherable lyrics playing on a deep sine bass and gentle variations in the middle of octaves. The percussion is greatly drum-machine like, electronic to the extent of supplementing stylistic mood to the LP's sequence. "Doorframe 1" brings the first spine-chilling chord pattern and vocal combination, sounding like a long lost Ninja Tune classic. "I don't wanna do it here, no I don't want to do it here / lost in time". The lyrics are discernible sometimes, then, we come to find, as on the next bizarre take: "I can be Pinocchio / I can feel my nose grow" ventilating a kind of haphazard choice of mood and morale: after comes "We could go so far, but you don't wanna know". There is an abstract narrative jetlinked through "UR", a type of symbolic working that cools meanings from discombobulation. It works really well, and I really recommend it.
V.C - Invisibility LP (Raha & Tunteet)
"Yes", I will have extra jelly with my drums. Or maybe I'll take the "Milky Way Express" to this confectionary bass music altar. Journo step sequences aside, this is a very understated LP in terms of its rounded originality - the effect doesn't hit you in one listen, but time will tell on giving you a great experience. The vocal tunes here are candy sweet, sweating out a pop structure and bridging modern dubstep outposts with a light-touch vigour. There is no cloudy drift in this music - the parts utilise an expertly produced two-element counterpoint of bass, drums and synthesizer molestation, tamed into a manageable 12 track beast. It maximises the feel of brostep but doesn't go stupid - elements of electro, techno and downtempo uproot the terrain with no disability in funding this hard work. The texture is thick soiled, while on "Move feat. Detroit Cydi", coiled angst in the synths creates a lasting impression that invisibility is not the answer for V.C's time to shine. A very impressive LP.
Midwest Product - Swamp EP (Ghostly International)
Out Now On www.drip.fm
Ghostly can't seem to do any wrong with their catalogue this year. On "Swamp EP", Midwest Product resumes a mental idea from Ulrich Schnauss and goes somewhere different. Electric guitars are played gently and absorbingly, like the matrix collage has developed its own print image in sonics. "Swamp (Warren Harding Memorial Version)" has no qualms with dubstep's half-speed, kinetic heave. The analog Twister-like colouring in separate positions of "Cold Sore" brightens up the movement, painting daft bass machismo across the second half with an equally clowny swingbeat. In general, this is solid, heavy gear, not for the club - think Helios and Siktransit crossed with Aphex Twin's "Analogue Bubblebath" works and you're there. I have a feeling Midwest Product's audio portioning would be ideal for holiday advertisements on Channel 4. "Ohfas" has an 80s synth opening with surefooted, lava lamp arpeggio. Neat.
Boomkat - 14 Tracks - D&B's Techno Defection (Various)
Boomkat's 14 Tracks series goes from length to strength for length and back, sometimes not always satisfying so much as the timespan is too laborious for a full hour listen. "D&B's Techno Defection" is one such package, but this isn't a massive minor - it's understandable Boomkat want to cover as much ground as possible in less than - which is reasonable - 93 minutes max. Starting with a real find from South London Ordnance in "Floating World", with its levitating bass shimmers and precision pulse, the idea soon becomes apparent what this is about if you haven't read the title: defections into techno from d'n'b crews, with myriad results. "Birdhouse" by Endian brings the filtered woodblock drums and Detroit synthesizer waves to create a fractured vision of downtown clubbing where it matters. "Hacker Wacker" by Nubian Mindz, aka Alpha Omega comfortably powers along but its melodies disturb the narrative with a paranoia body blow. The sub that is synonymous with techno and bass music carries the residue of d'n'b with double-time-identifying patterns. "Beats Me" by Boddika and "Confined Spaces" by ASC, already covered in Basal Sounds are two other high points, and the quality, assuredly by Boomkat's usual standard, is on point for a bargain £6.89.
Lockah - Yahoo Or The Highway (Donkey Pitch)
Lockah's bass music travels across icy landscapes. With its reappropriation of tension to the relationship between atmosphere and percussion (this is common, but he goes further) his sound on "Yahoo Or The Highway" is a reckoned take on chill sweetness in harmonics - lots of harmonic chords - and an emotional tailing-off and heading someplace else. The setting is an Antartica on the edges of bass, tied together by electronic crush that careens from eighties Fleetwood Mac melodies ("Some Velvet Evening" and its twinkling star synth) and nineties Boards Of Canada circa "Twoism", brought up to date through Rustie highway to give digital maximalism (excess in variation, putting more in until the tracks encouragingly explode) a concerted burn. "Ayyo Tricknology" filters those drums like apples bobbing in a beer barrel, its intoxicating groove and vocal usage perfectly setting up the more Autechre sounding "Contact High With Big Lockah". "If Loving U Is Wrong, I Don't Want To Be Wrong" is pure piano hardcore the old school way, but thankfully without the throwback chipmunk vox! Quality.
Agree with my selections this month? Anything I've missed, or anything that I should be checking out for next? Get in touch via email@example.com or hit me at @MuttleySV on Twitter.