Albums of the week

02.04.12 Words by: Ruth Saxelby

Mix Mup & Kassem Mosse – ‘MM/KM’

Kassem Mosse’s Myspace had a fantastic picture of this bunch of kids at a protest holding up signs that read ‘No More Reality.’ It’s not there any more, but it was a good joke, and summed up everything great about the Leipzig producer’s music. He’s been making funny, disjointed techno that makes you giggle and stretch your perceptions of space and time since around 2008. His output so far has been on rather more conventional dance formats, but this mini-album, with fellow German Mix Mup really lets his intensely fluid style shine. 

It’s only six songs long, but they’re some of the most extraordinary pieces of electronic music I’ve heard in the last three months. All six operating somewhere on the Theo Parrish / Actress end of deep house / techno where everything sounds like its dissolving. In the grand tradition of electronic music, this is an ultra limited 12” house in an exquisite black and white sleeve, but there’s little restrained or colourless about the sound: while many focus on decay, Kassem Mosse and Mix Mup work with sustain and release, creating light, heady sounds of hypnotic power that are actually incredibly fun to listen to and involving. It’s intense music, but also incredibly joyful, melodic sound, filled with brushes of beauty, such as the elevating synths on km mm end to funk or the Nina Simone sample on Birds Flying High Like U Know How. Freed from the context of a 12”, these tracks work fantastically as songs of promise and wonder. This is a liquid modernity, for the dissolving of boundaries, and it’s the best thing I’ve heard in an age. No more reality, for the 33 minutes this plays. [CRJ]
Listen to a track below, or buy the mini-album through the label

Willis Earl Beal – ‘Acousmatic Sorcery’ [Hot Charity/XL Recordings]
His rags-to-records story precedes him: living rough in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Willis Earl Beal began scratching out the roughest of rough-edged, sad-eyed, home-brewed soul with a voice much older than his 27 years and equipment as flashy as a beat-up acoustic guitar and a karaoke machine. After circling the city’s hipster scene, distributing flyers for his outsider blues containing just a name and number, Beal even had a crack at the US X-Factor – he made it to boot camp, but was dumped when Cowell and co realised they were dealing with an actual personality.

Despite the press-friendly characterisation of Beal as an ol’ fashioned, dust-covered wandering bluesman, it’s obvious from the chugging anger and clanking percussion of Take Me Away and Angel Chorus that he has more in common with Captain Beefheart or Tom Waits than John Lee Hooker, while the child-like dissonance heard on Cosmic Queries brings to mind Royal Trux at their most deranged. ‘Acousmatic Sorcery’ won’t be for everyone, but as a portrait of America’s underbelly from one of its almost-forgotten citizens, it’s nothing less than an album of our time, despite its obvious anti-modernity. [CR]
Stream Willis Earl Beal – ‘Acousmatic Sorcery’ [Hot Charity/XL Recordings] on Spotify

Orbital – Wonky
From their very first moment – rave anthem Chime recorded in 1989 – Orbital demonstrated their understanding of the tone of the times and, crucially, the skill with which to articulate it. ‘Wonky’ is Phil and Paul Hartnoll’s eighth studio album, and their first since 2004’s ‘Blue Album’ and a five-year break from being Orbital. Their sensitive techno, tailor-made for comedowns, has a bounce to it this time around. It’s squelchy and tough but still as liquid as ever. There are no corners – rough, cut or otherwise. The addition of Zola Jesus’s operatic, ecstatic force on New France and grime MC Lady Leshurr’s elastic edge on the title track feel integral to the album’s whole not just the smart features they undoubtedly also are. The only head-scratch is the title – are they referencing the much beleaguered, abandoned genre name that the music of video game loving producers HudMo and Rustie got landed with a few years back? Whatever, that’s the sole shaky moment on this otherwise solid album. [RS]
Stream Orbital’s Wonky on Spotify

Mi Ami – ‘Decade’
Daniel Martin-McCormick, aka Ital, and Damon Palermo, aka Magic Touch, have been releasing music under their moniker Mi Ami for the past five years. ‘Decade’, their latest offering, was released earlier this month on San Francisco’s 100% Silk and is probably Mi Ami’s most exciting release to date. Its revamped crisp sound feels like a spring breeze that suits the mood this time of year. There’s a hypnotic, groovy flowing pace throughout the whole album, infused with plenty of warm analog sounds and warped vocal samples. The gorgeous stand out tune Time of Love showcases unpretentious and at times scruffy production skills and there’s an awesome video that uses lots of mashed-up VHS footage to go with it too. The verdict is that this is an album that could easily work on a dancefloor as well as an afterparty, and is definitely worth your attention and cash. [MN]

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