The best albums and EPs of the year 2021 so far - April - Music - Mixmag

Welcome to the April section of our best albums and EPs of the year 2021 rundown — read the full list here

Cõvco ‘CONSCIENTEOFTHESOUL’ (self-released)

Last time we clocked Cõvco she was unfurling her mesmeric live show at London’s Roundhouse. Here are recordings of those tracks, which mark the beginning of the Londoner’s recording career. Exciting stuff. Buy it here

Seb Zito ‘Truth In My Steps’ (Edible)

If you’re into rude UKG and wobbly tech-house then this is an instant cop. Seb Zito comes through in LP format for those who like it naughty. Buy it here

jamaszka FT ‘Dom Troga 006’ (Dom Troga)

Well ravey gear from Poland’s Dom Troga label. Come for the breakbeats and stay for the gnarly warehouse vibes. Buy it here

Anz ‘OTMI001’ (OTMI)

It’s about time Anz launched her own label: the industrious Manchester-based producer made a casual 74 tracks during the lockdowns in the first half of 2020, with many featuring in her blistering ‘spring/summer dubs 2020’ mix. With her own outlet set up and in action, we can’t wait to be treated to more her tracks. The inaugural release on OTMI is a treat: serving up synth funk on one side and murky breaks on the other. Buy it here

V/A ‘Foule Contact vol​.​01 par Pompelope’ (Pompelope)

Parisian party/label Pompelope put together this compilation as a nod to brighter times to come. The optimistic spirit is carried effortlessly by the contributing artists, namely Hysteric, who shares a sparkling italo anthem and Simple Exposition, who guides us through a trippy sonic excursion. Atascasa’s breathy chug heater is another highlight. Buy it here

Kawasaki Johnsson ‘Amnesia’ (Logical Records)

With ‘Amnesia’, Amsterdam two-piece Kawasaki Johnsson mark the first LP to be released via Logical Records. They set the bar pretty high with eight downtempo tracks that channel the spirit of dark wave, with moody gothic tendencies and searing synths. Seriously good! Buy it here

DJ Swisha, Diyr & Kanyon ‘What’s Stopping You From Doing This’ (Self-released)

The kind of record that you can’t help but wish you’d been right there, in the studio as it was created. ‘What's Stopping You From Doing This’ from DJ Swisha and frequent collaborators Diyr & Kanyon feels like a jam session. Title-track 'What's Stopping You From Doing This' is a pushy, reticent jungle track that constantly flits between tempo and melody, leaving you unsure as to what you’re in for next. While 'Encrypted' errs towards a deconstructed form of drum 'n' bass, but with the added treat of being able to hear the rich production that's holding up the speed and lulls. Buy it here

Denham Audio ‘Transcendance’ (Lobster Theremin)

Sheffield's very own breakbeat aficionados Denham Audio knocked it out of the park with EP 'Transcendance', a no-nonsense, nostalgic record filled to the brim with club-ready belters. Bouncy, speedy acid against solid bass in 'Retort' feels like a melding of eras, with 'Club Culture' combining monologues on 90s nightlife with hey-day Haçienda-esque 303. Jungle roller 'Transcendance' and the whirly bass and bleeps of 'Top Boy' finish off a stellar offering. Buy it here

Kiefer ‘Between Days’ (Stones Throw)

Kiefer recruits The Kount, 10.4rog, LAKEY INSPIRED and Theo Croker to supplement Kiefer’s signature fusion of jazz and electronic music. His cover of Roy Ayer’s ‘Everybody Loves the Sunshine’ is calm, gentle and warm, while ‘Running Out The Clock’ switches that gentle sound for the Kount’s distinctive drumming, which drives the track along. Buy it here

Alfa Mist ‘Bring Backs’ (Anti)

Alfa Mist continues to push the envelope with his complex compositions – but on Bring Backs, his voice pokes through it a way it hasn’t often before. On ‘Organic Rust’ the musician allows his rapping to take centre-stage, surrounded by rattling drums and swirling melodies. ‘Mind The Gap’ is another highlight, Lex Amor’s lulling verse meshing well with the soundscape that Alfa Mist creates. Swelling strings and poetic musings tie the entire album together – a beautiful listen. Buy it here

Lord Apex ‘Smoke Sessions 3’ (Daupe!)

One of the most prolific and consistent rappers in the UK, Lord Apex continues his confident streak with the third iteration of his ‘Smoke Sessions’ series. Apex has always taken pride in spotlighting smaller producers, and here, he lets Ben Mulade, droppedmilk and others create the soundtrack for some of his best bars yet. Buy it here

Jadasea ‘FOLDER 2’ (Self-released)

Jadasea’s ‘FOLDER 2’ is another display of the rapper’s confidence in his presence, which is often quite ambient, quiet raps over quick and dirty samples – filtered and distorted beyond recognition. Not afraid to place his voice at the back of a mix, to let his flows weave around eachother – or to sound triumphant. Buy it here

The Alchemist ‘This Thing Of Ours’ (ALC Records)

The Alchemist recruits Navy Blue, Maxo and Pink Siifu for a sprawling and dense project, The warm, sample-chops that punctuate the project are narrated by some of the best rappers working today – each track feels just as nostalgic and full as the next. We Wish it was longer. Buy it here

Seefeel ‘Reduct’ (Warp Records)

A little astray from Seefeel’s regular rock-padded sensibility, ‘Reduct’ comes as a more subdued, ambient EP echoing albums like Brian Eno’s ‘Music For Airports’, or perhaps even giving a remnant of early Aphex Twin. This record is straight from the belly of Seefeel’s archive, compiling some unreleased tracks from their ‘90s beginnings - all four of which make the voyage from blissful notes to more sombre moments. Buy it here

Jordan Rakei ‘Late Night Tales’ (LateNightTales)

If Late Night Tales sniff out an artist for one of their compilations, just know it’s going to be spectacular. With a nose for great music and a taste for the experimental, it’s an undeniably relentless force that keeps on providing with every release. This time, the label threw Jordan Rakei into the mix, where he compiled new and old tracks with several coming exclusively to the compilation. Buy it here

Andy Stott ‘Never The Right Time’ (Modern Love)

It’s hard to do Andy Stott justice in just nine tracks. Peeking through the cracks of his techno past, ‘Never The Right Time’ roots itself in a different sound - giving him a little more free reign in his electronic know-how. Stott experiments with synths, unusual vocals, and curious drum patterns in this latest record, notably the ninth studio album in his collection. Buy it here

Fred again.. ‘Actual Life (April 14 - December 17 2020)’ (Atlantic)

Audio-visual titan Fred again.. solidly firms himself on the dance music scene with the release of his debut album. Following his notable style of vocal merging, the producer uses samples from friends and strangers in a very impressive feat for an opening LP - recounting the past year of lockdown into a 16-track masterpiece. The multi-talented musician also throws in some of his own piano and drum technicality to pull this one together, a reminder of just how monumental this debut really is. Buy it here

Interplanetary Criminal ‘In My Arms’ (Time Is Now)

If there were a record that could urge you back to the dancefloor, it would sound a little like Interplanetary Criminal’s latest EP ‘In My Arms’. Dropping on the breaks-centric Time Is Now, this five-tracker runs through the naughtiest of dub-inspired basslines before concluding on a remix track from skweee-master Coco Bryce. Buy it here

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