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August: 18 albums you need to hear this month

Month-long listening sorted

  • Mixmag crew
  • 4 August 2017

Album of the month

Daphni 'Fabriclive 93'

It feels appropriate that, a couple of months shy of its 10th anniversary, one of the greatest Fabric mix albums should provide inspiration for Daphni’s ‘Fabriclive’ instalment. We’re talking about ‘Fabric 36’, which was so memorably realised by Ricardo Villalobos: a textbook example of how to construct and pace a 70-minute DJ mix, all of its 15 tracks were by the Chilean/German DJ icon himself. Like Villalobos, Dan Snaith is not your average DJ or producer, and this was never going to be your average mix album. All but four of its 27 tracks are Daphni originals, and the remainder are edits by the Canadian polymath. In other words, this is ostensibly the long-awaited new album from Daphni – the more club-focused alter-ego of Snaith’s Caribou handle – five years after his debut under that moniker, ‘Jiaolong’. Such is its genre-hopping nature, it’s hard to believe that this isn’t a trad DJ mix compilation, rather than the music of just one man.

It skitters between flinty, raw funk (‘Face To Face’), shimmering house (‘Carry On)’, weapons-grade techno that dissipates into a kora breakdown (‘Ten Thousand’) and a pummelling percussion workout (‘Hey Drum’). A track by jazz drummer Pheeroan akLaff (‘3 In 1’) gets a crushing rework before more koras charm their way into ‘Try’. Other highlights include the ebullient acid of ‘Joli Mai’, the rave-tinged nostalgia of ‘So It Seems’ and the frantic Salsoul disco of ‘vs’. Each track is forged and precision-engineered to bolt onto the next: there are times when Snaith takes you to dark places but then he clasps your hand tenderly, guiding you back to sunnier climes. ‘Fabriclive 93’ is an astonishing accomplishment. Take a bow, Mr Snaith. You deserve it. Stephen Worthy

9/10

DJ Tennis 'DJ-Kicks'

In the seven years since DJ Tennis emerged with his Life And Death label, few operations have had such a singular style. Rather than jumping on hyped-up trends or turning out music for music’s sake, you get the impression he’s in no hurry to impress anyone: instead, the Italian has just gone about his mission to bring a substantial sense of musicality, melody and mood to house and techno – qualities which can all too often be lacking. Similarly mindful aesthetics characterise his entry in to the DJ-Kicks series which, for the first time ever, is a double-disc mix. Making the most of the opportunity, he imposes his sonic will on two unhurried mixes which, while connected, cater to two distinctly different contexts. The first is all late-night comedown material, with 70 seamless minutes of delicate grooves, dreamy atmospheres and wispy synths. It’s a mix that’s detailed enough for headphones but still zoned-out enough to serve as background music; regardless of your preference, it’ll leave you in a state of utter Zen thanks to the inclusion of masters such as Pole, Monolake and Bochum Welt. Disc two is more purposefully drum-led, but stays deep and heady with slick electro, house and delicious dub from the likes of Moodymann, Robert Hood and Traumprinz. Tennis also contributes two exclusives that bookend the mix with spine-tingling minimal grooves. Well-balanced and truly timeless, both discs are as entertaining as any you’re likely to hear this year. Kristan J Caryl

9/10

BadBadNotGood 'Late Night Tales'

Late Night Tales has delved into releasing excellent artist albums by acts such as Sasha and Khruangbin of late, but is back to the expertly crafted, artist-led compilations for this release. If you’re familiar with Canadian quartet BadBadNotGood’s work, then there are no huge surprises here: all of their major influences are covered, from classic 70s soul (Esther Phillips, Gene Williams) and bossa nova (Erasmo Carlos) to ambient electronica and alternative pop (Boards Of Canada, Stereolab, Admas), plus a smattering of tracks from contemporaries such as River Tiber and Thundercat. But what it lacks in surprises it makes up for in quality music. The Toronto boys have done a great job of mixing relatively obvious tracks like ‘Home Is Where The Hatred Is’ and ‘Don’t Talk…’ by The Beach Boys with more obscure cuts that’ll send you down the rabbit hole on a Spotify listening session. It’s already become a go-to mix in the Mixmag office; expect it to get heavy rotation in yours, too. Sean Griffiths

9/10

UMFANG 'Symbolic Use Of Light'

Emma Olson’s debut album for 1080p revealed an artist who made techno that mixed the rawness of its pioneers with the experimental approach of latter-day exponents such as Actress. Her latest project for Technicolour suggests she’s also an artist brimming with confidence. Live, Olson borders on the relentless, but all ‘Symbolic Use Of Light’ needs is a pair of good headphones and space for you to submit to its charms. Olson’s approach is simple without being naive and challenging rather than wilfully artsy, switching from the menacing ‘Weight’to the pared-back acid of ‘Pop’. ‘Where Is She’, meanwhile, is a gritty, minimalist stomp which, much like its creator, has the potential to be enormous. S Worthy

8/10

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