Rasmus Faber
Where We Belong
Swedish producer, musician and DJ Rasmus Faber’s new album is an exercise in soulful deep house cultivated with an accessible pop sensibility. It’s not going to change your life, but it does deserve some attention. The first single from the album, Everything Is Alright, is definitely the highlight, blending the warm and forlorn vocals of Linda Sunblad with downtempo house beats and an understated and uplifting string arrangement. Rasmus’s early forays into the world of the jazz piano are noticeable at certain points throughout the album, and there’s a definite jazz influence going down – not always to a beneficial effect though. Na Minha Terra calls to mind what Astrid Gilberto would sound like if produced by St Germain. Good. However, Give It To Me has a tad too much acid jazz about it to avoid cheese. Bad. The album sounds very European at times, and South American samba-influenced at others. Every Time We has a hint of Bent’s Always about it, and Never Figure Out is a gentle and breezy affair which would not seem out of place at a late 1990s genteel dinner party. The album is defined by the sweetness of the guest vocalists (all female) and some polished and opulent instrumentation married with chilled-out, soulful and jazzy house sounds. It’s warm, comforting and accessible, but it’s also pretty unchallenging. So if it’s pleasant music to have in the background you’re after, look Rasmus up. AM 3/5
Out February 23 on Farplane Records

The Plot
What do you get when you mix underground 60s psychedelic garage, 70s heavy metal guitars, wonky synth-pop from the 80s and modern quality electro? The new WhoMadeWho album, of course. The Plot is the follow up to 2005’s fantastic eponymous debut, and this doesn’t disappoint. Coming across like Hot Chip with fewer pretensions and more disparate influences, The Plot is a peculiar but hugely pleasurable listen. The title track reminds me of Grand National with a dose of the 13th Floor Elevators thrown in for good acid-infused, rock ‘n’ rolling measure. Small Town City is very much influenced by certain 1980s post-punk synthesiser sympathisers, but it’s brought up to date with a very modern and hauntingly wonky bass, lazery synth stabs and vocoders. The heavy rock influence comes to the fore with This Train, which sounds like a sleazy blues battle cry from outer space. The strongest track, I Lost My Voice, is a life-affirming slice of positive pop, like a playful and joyous version of LCD’s All My Friends. Other elements which manifest themselves throughout the 13 tracks include power pop on Cyborg and quality disco in Keep Me In My Plane. Post-punk angular guitar stylings also crop up again and again without ever spoiling the originality and frolicsomeness (if such a word exists). Although the band borrow from a wide variety of musical sources, it is the way they mess with them and combine different ideas that is truly inspirational. The overall theme of the album is summed up on Raveo, which can only be described as a psychedelic electro-circus of a tune – it’s simply (and super-strangely) wonderful. Shades of Erlend Oye’s winsome and poppy electronica feature in album closer Working After Midnight and the earlier ballad Ode to Joy. There is no question that WhoMadeWho are a talented bunch with interesting ideas aplenty. You can really tell from listening to The Plot that they’ve had a lot of fun creating this concoction. And I’ve had a lot of fun consuming it. They could well be next in line in the genre-bending leftfield dance pantheon which has given us the likes of Sparks, Devo, Daft Punk and Justice. AM 4/5
Out on March 23 on Gomma

Live At Robert Johnson Vol 1
To help celebrate its tenth anniversary this June, Frankfurt’s Robert Johnson is releasing a series of live recordings from the world-renowned club. One of its long-serving residents, the Parisian DJ and producer Chloé, has been chosen to launch what will eventually become a four-CD commemorative package, with each mix housed in a special 12”-sized, limited-edition book. Releasing her debut album The Waiting Room to critical acclaim in 2007, Chloé has also remixed the likes of Junior Boys and Booka Shade, and is now an established name on the international circuit thanks to appearances at the likes of Fabric and The Rex. Successfully easing from the warm-up sounds of Gudrun Gut’s slow-mo electro-pop through subtly atmospheric efforts from DJ Koze and Kalabrese, this live mix soon nudges into more dancefloor-inclined material – the militaristic drum rolls of Innersphere’s Phunk are quick to grab the attention. Later, the haunting and hypnotic Ice from Daso & Pawas teases the ears and the feet, as does a volley of tracks from Larry Heard, Trulz & Robin and Homebase. All in all, an impressive package which offers an effective showcase of Chloé’s selection skills. CC 3/5
Out now on Live At Robert Johnson

DJ Sneak
Back In The Box
Following Back In The Box outings from Joey Negro, Louie Vega and Dave Clarke, it’s DJ Sneak’s turn to dig through the crates and pick out some his favourite records of yesteryear. Enjoying something of a renaissance thanks in part to his well-publicised back-to-back set with Ricardo Villalobos last summer, Sneak here showcases the jacking, filtered sound that helped establish him on the house scene back in the nineties. The two discs feature some of the biggest underground hits of the period – Global Communication’s The Way, Sunday Shoutin from Johnny Corporate, I-Cube’s Daft Punk re-rubbed Disco Cubism, and unsurprisingly, Sneak’s own rather large You Can’t Hide From Your Bud. However, the Chicago spiner also drops some lesser known tracks by Chris Simmonds, Deepah Ones and C-Dock, creating two CDs which offer a refreshing alternative to the sparse, techno-edged house mixes so prevalent days. And they should trigger happy memories of club nights past for a lot of listeners. CC 4/5
Out now on NRK

Beyond The Wizard’s Sleeve
Re-Animations Vol 1

Beyond The Wizard’s Sleeve is a side project from Erol Alkan and one-time Grid member Richard Norris. This compilation brings together their best re-workings – or re-animations, as they like to call them – to date. On first glance at the tracklisting, you could be forgiven for thinking that the artists who have gone under the Wizard’s knife are all a bit dated and unhip in early ’09 – Goldfrapp, Chemical Brothers and Peter, Bjorn and John. But listen further, and you’ll see that their unique approach to the remixing format makes them prime contenders for Balearic and cosmic-influenced dance rerubs that will appeal to the masses. Every re-animation featured not only transforms but betters the original in my opinion. The new Franz Ferdinand number Ulysses gets a funky toe-tapping electro makeover. Late of The Pier’s The Bears Are Coming is re-animated into an African meets Balkan folk dance swagger. Further high points come from Tracey Thorn’s Raise The Roof which is both menacing and contemplative in equal measures, due in the main to the vocal, the cosmic strings and the darkness of the techno-heavy drumbeat. Dust Galaxy’s Come Hear The Trumpets mixes the prog-rock of The Secret Machines with the moody down beat electronica of Four Tet, while Simian Mobile Disco’s Love gets reworked into a futuristic bongo and sound effect-filled psychedelic head whirl. Even Badly Drawn Boy comes out of this collection sounding good, which is an achievement in itself. All in all, this is a great representation of the BTWS re-animations so far and I’m looking forward to more from the pair. The pop-orientation of the originals has meant that they’ve been able to sprinkle their magic electro-space-folk dust without losing the crossover appeal which possibly attracted them to the artists in the first place. AM 3.5/5
Out in March on EMI







Album reviews by Andy McColgan and Colin Chapman