Bandwagon Selects: Recent Record Reviews #10

We're on to the 10th album review piece, huzzah! We've noticed an influx of pretty awesome electronic releases in the past month, so we decided to compile them into one neat pile. So read on good people as we express our ardent love for all things glitchy and machine-like (or are they?)

James Blake | Overgrown

James Blake avoids the all too common mistake of repetition in sophomore albums and evolves his sound, stepping into more progressive territory. This time he focuses less on his subdued dubstep instrumentations (going for simpler arrangements but heavy in atmosphere) and more on his vocal tenors. James Blake is at his most confident and intimate here, putting on show his comfort with exploring other sounds and genres - especially on his collaboration with RZA “Take A Fall For Me”, a deeply introspective and articulate track by itself. Many times the young English producer ponders and croons about his renewed belief in love - a marked departure from his deadpan contemplations regarding its limits. It’s a more humanistic approach, stripping out the electronic elements to the bone and filling in the meat with so much soul and emotion that it’s quite easy to lose yourself in Overgrown.

Standout tracks:
Retrograde, Digital Lion, To The Last

Lapalux | Nostalchic

Yet another player enters the post-dubstep-ish R&B game, but we’re not complaining. Being from Flying Lotus’s Brainfeeder record label, you’d expect Lapalux to be in a certain extent, inaccessible. What his debut album proves is that he is anything but - balancing dense electronic textures (think spacey synths and glitchy blips) with delicate (and sexy) beats and vocals. The songs on Nostalchic have so much tiny details packed in them that they tend to phase in and out of your aural senses; Lapalux deconstructs R&B hooks and reassembles into a grainier, slightly chaotic versions of themselves. Nostalchic as an album glitters warmly from so much experimentations, wildly jittering yet hazily shimmering.

Standout tracks:
One Thing, Without You, Swallowing Smoke

Bonobo | The Northern Borders

UK producer and DJ Bonobo (real name Simon Green) has always been particular about detail. His extremely endearing 2010 release Black Sands was a spot on manifestation of the new configurations of jazz, a smooth flowing album of downtempo harmonies that appealed to electronic and jazz fans alike. With The Northern Borders, he broadens his palette further into the realms of electronic music while fine tuning his signature organic beats and samples. It’s astonishing how supremely delicate and amazingly intricate the tracks are, pulling you in deep (really deep) into the heart of the album through artfully crafted sonic textures and rich, warm grooves. Bonobo weaves his influences of trip-hop, jazz and garage seamlessly, displaying a taste for progress while staying true to tradition. It’s already looking to be one of the best releases of 2013, and an important representative of the changing electronic music landscape.

Standout tracks: 
Cirrus, Emkay, Towers

Atoms For Peace |  AMOK

Ever since Kid A, frontman Thom Yorke's fascination with electronic dance music has had an unshakable influence on Radiohead's core sound. However with their last studio effort (the abstract and frankly underwhelming The King of Limbs) it's clear that Thom has greater ambitions that transcend the traditional rock getup of his primary band despite their constant flirtations with electronic sounds. Even though his solo effort The Eraser is as close to an intimate, personal statement as he can get (so far), his efforts grew too reminiscent of Radiohead's more subdued tracks from albums like Amnesiac. Enter Atoms for Peace.

Some may argue that Atoms is merely an attempt to escape the gravitas that his band name (and even his own name) holds. When listening to AMOK, there will be inevitable comparisons to the deep soundscapes that were featured in Kid A. However, listening further you realize that it more than a solo project for everyone's favorite schizo dancer - sounding whole as a group project. Much credit goes to the visceral percussion playing and overdriven beats that are both hypnotic and spasmodic. And of course, Flea's strong sensibility for funky melodies. Overall, AMOK is a thrilling ride filled with vibrant polyrhythmic beats that overwhelm the senses. 

Standout tracks:
Ingenue, Judge Jury Executioner, Amok

Text: Ilyas Sholihyn, Daniel Peters