Reload – A Collection of Short Stories (1993). This keeps cropping up on my internet travels as a classic of the early 90s ‘electronic listening music’ genre, as I’m styling it (ambient techno, post-rave, ‘intelligent dance music’ as suggested by the Warp Records Artificial Intelligence compilations, rather than IDM, which I associate with more late 90s, early 00s electronica and is a term I refuse to use in any seriousness). Anyway, genres aside, Reload are the same duo as Global Communication, and their album 76:14 is an absolute titan of epic ambient beauty, and as Jedi Knights, their album New School Science is a fun-filled ride through electro, funk and breakbeat all treated with the same deftness of production. A Collection of Short Stories is much more rough around the edges than either of those releases, and sounds every bit its 1993 release year. That is no bad thing and I love a bit of old school production – some of the harsher tracks sound like some of Aphex’s stuff as Caustic Window and on Classics, and the more ambient tracks are in the same vein as the lush melodic stuff on 76:14. There is an actual book of short stories to accompany the album, which I wish I had. This is music with a narrative – the tracks are given time to develop and tell their story and I’d love to read the actual stories to go with them. So in summary, definitely an album to come back to and it will find a comfortable home in my ‘early 90s electronic listening music’ collection – a place I like to visit often.
Wild Planet – Transmitter (1999). A strangely underrated release, I think I found this on a discogs list…essentially this very decent analogue electro/techno, quickly working its way up to being a solid four star album in my books. Apart from intro, outro and an interlude track there’s no filler here, just really solid electro-drenched beats: the soundtrack to an android disco night. Not much else to say about this, apart from check it out if you like analogue-sounding dance music, with just the right mix of melody and rhythm to move your mind and move your feet.
Bandulu – Guidance (1993). Yet another old school UK dance album. This is some seriously decent soulful, Detroit-influenced tribal techno, with a distinct worldly/ethnic flavour. The music is rich and varied enough that this completely stands up as an album – and to be listened to at home (by me anyway) – it’s not just a collection of dancefloor/rave tracks. Another quick on its way to solid four star status. Take the soul and the rhythm of Detroit and put it in the hands of a London b-boy graffiti crew and this is what you get. A while ago, I would’ve said something like ‘they don’t make ‘em like this anymore’ but my knowledge of current electronic music is in need of updating and I think maybe they do make them like this a bit more now and we’re seeing a return to a more wide-eyed and unashamedly maximal (as opposed to minimal) sound.
TVAM – Psychic Data (2018). Finally something from the current millennium! I took this as a recommendation from a Whatsapp group where a huge amount of music is constantly being shared, as the soundtrack to my first gym visit in a year. It is quite rare that an album really hits the spot on the very first cold listen but this one did. Combining the best elements of electro and shoegaze in a real psychedelic way. Layers of distortion, and keyboards and electric guitar are piled up, and overlaid with semi-comprehensible lyrics – all motoring along on a driving Krautrock rhythm. I can see this working perfectly at a festival for that peak evening slot, when the sun’s gone down and you’re getting fired up for the night. It’s no mean feat, especially for a young new artist, to come out with music that sounds instantly iconic and familiar. But that was the sensation I had on listening to this – immediately anthemic. I can imagine whacking it on at a party and it would command the dancefloor straight away, as everyone knows music like this. I think it’s partly down to the retro equipment and methods he’s using, and obviously paying homage to some big name influences, and perhaps due to the lyrics being only half-heard you fill in the gaps with songs you do know… either way he’s created a sound simultaneously individual yet also familiar.