LORN: Ask The Dust (Ninja Tune)

themilkman on Jun 19th 2012 01:20 am

Lorn: Ask The Dust

Ask The Dust
Ninja Tune 2012
12 Tracks. 44mins01secs

Amazon UK: CD | LP | DLD  US: CD | LP | DLD Boomkat: CD | LP | DLD iTunes: DLD

Two years on from his second album, Nothing Else, published on Flying Lotus’s Brainfeeder, Lorn returns with a new slice of razor sharp dark and gritty electronica. The project of Milwaukee-based Marcos Ortega, Lorn first appeared in 2007 with a debut album, Grief Machine, published on French imprint VGR, to this day the label’s sole release, as a limited vinyl edition, but it is really with his Brainfeeder outputs, consisting of two EPs and an album, that Ortega really began to get noticed. Channeling dark strands of dubstep-infused electronica, Nothing Else sounded like a nightmarish ride on a ghost train with no possibility to get off at any point. Ask The Dust, which takes its title from a 1939 novel by John Fante, is cut from a similar wood, but the stage has moved from the fun fair to a much more toxic playground. Continue Reading »

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PLUG: Back On Time (Ninja Tune)

themilkman on Jan 5th 2012 01:23 am

Plug: Back On Time

Back On Time
Ninja Tune 2012
10 Tracks. 55mins07secs

Amazon UK: CD | LP | DLD US: CD | LP | DLD Boomkat: CD | LP | DLD iTunes: DLD

In the mid-nineties, Luke Vibert, who, beside a venture with Jeremy Simmonds, had mostly been operating as Wagon Christ, reinvented himself as Plug the time of a handful of EPs and an album on which he moved away from the hip-hop-infused electronica of his Rising High releases of the time to distill his own blend of refined Drum’n’Bass. While none of these seemed to get much attention on the D’n’B scene, they showed Vibert as the versatile musician that he is and cemented his position amongst fellow West Country mavericks of the likes of Aphex Twin or Squarepusher

Following this condensed blast of releases, between 1995 and 1997, the project has been on an indefinite hiatus, but a year ago, Luke Vibert turned up at the Ninja Tune office with a bunch of DATs containing previously unheard material recorded around that time. Continue Reading »

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EMIKA: Emika (Ninja Tune)

themilkman on Oct 7th 2011 01:03 am

Emika: Emika

Ninja Tune 2011
12 Tracks. 47mins38secs

Amazon UK: CD | LP | DLD US: CD | LP | DLD Boomkat: CD | LP | DLD iTunes: DLD Spotify: STRM

Forget the overhyped divas who spend more time parading in high heels wherever they can get their picture taken than they do creating records that are utterly unique and fresh, real innovative twenty-first century pop music is to be found with the likes of Ema ‘Emika’ Jolly, a British-born songstress of Czech extraction who currently lives in Berlin who, in the space of a handful of rather excellent singles released over the course of the last year, has made a strong mark on the underground electronic scene. Signed to Ninja Tune, she came to attention when her second single, the particularly haunting and stellar Double Edge was included on the label’s massive twentieth anniversary collection. Following on from two further singles this year, it is now time for Emika to step up and propose her debut album.

Tightly blending elements of electronica, dubstep and techno together, Emika creates here a particularly pertinent modern urban soundtrack, propelled by ground-shaking grooves and incisive electronics to serve bitter sweet melodies and lyrics. Continue Reading »

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WAGON CHRIST: Toomorrow (Ninja Tune)

themilkman on Mar 2nd 2011 01:23 am

Wagon Christ: Toomorrow

Ninja Tune 2011
15 Tracks. 60mins51secs

Amazon UK: CD | LP | DLD US: CD | LP | DLD Boomkat: CD | LP | DLD iTunes: DLD

In 1994, a young Luke Vibert was making his first solo foray onto the music scene following his collaboration with Jeremy Simmonds, published on Rephlex only a few months prior, with a collection of lush ambient pieces, but this was more an accident than a conscious choice. Indeed, all Vibert was doing then was to give his then label, Rising High, what they wanted from him. His second album was a different affair altogether as he turned the tables on them by injecting hefty doses of hip-hop beats and grooves. Since, he has appeared under countless guises, each more or less dedicated to a particular genre or take on a genre, collaborated with artists as diverse as BJ Cole or Jean-Jacques Perrey and found his way on labels including Ninja Tune, Planet Mu, Rephlex, Lo Recordings, Warp, Mo Wax, Law & Awder and many more.

Toomorrow marks Vibert’s return to his trademark Wagon Christ sound. Continue Reading »

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ESKMO: Eskmo (Ninja Tune)

themilkman on Oct 13th 2010 01:27 am

Eskmo: Eskmo

Ninja Tune 2010
13 Tracks. 49mins22secs

Amazon UK: CD | LP | DLD US: CD | LP | DLD Boomkat: CD | LP | DLD iTunes: DLD

Born Brendan Angelides somewhere in Connecticut some years ago, Eskmo first appeared with the album Machines On Task, released on his own Eskmo Recordings as a graduation project, over ten years ago, and has since gone on to publish breakbeat records on Downbeat Productions, Vertical Sound and Cyberfunk. Angelides relocated to San Francisco in 2006, and widened his musical scope greatly to incorporate elements of hip hop, ambient, funky groove, dubstep and electronica, with releases on Ancestor, Planet Mu Or Warp. Now signed to Ninja Tune, Eskmo drops his latest album right on queue for the label’s much celebrated twentieth anniversary.

Right from the opening loops of the rather magnificent recent lead single Cloudlight, the tone is set. Continue Reading »

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VARIOUS ARTISTS: Ninja Tune XX – 20 Years Of Beats & Pieces (Ninja Tune)

themilkman on Sep 22nd 2010 01:08 am

Various Artists: Ninja Tune XX - 20 Years Of Beats & Pieces

Ninja Tune XX: 20 Years Of Beats And Pieces
Ninja Tune 2010
101 Tracks. 486mins00secs

It is probably not a coincidence that two of the major UK labels to have emerged from the rave era, Warp and Ninja Tune, are celebrating their twentieth anniversary within less than a year, testament that, if for many only a fleeting movement, it proved, for the most dedicated and visionary artists and labels, the most perfect of launchpads. Following last year’s Warp celebrations, it is now the turn of Ninja Tune to reach this milestone and look back upon its defining years.

Founded by Coldcut’s Matt Black and Jon More in 1990, the label rapidly established a solid roster around the likes of DJ Food, Kid Koala, The Herbaliser, DJ Vadim, The Cinematic Orchestra or Amon Tobin. While shaping the post rave electronic landscape, the paths followed by Warp and Ninja Tune rapidly diverged. The former remained close to the blend of acid house, Detroit techno and industrial ethic which had shaped its early years, Ninja Tune opted for a resolutely more eclectic sound, incorporating heavy doses of hip-hop and drum’n’bass into its expanding catalogue. Continue Reading »

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themilkman on Jan 19th 2010 12:48 am

One-Armed Bandit is the first release from Norwegian supergroup Jaga Jazzist in over five years. A constantly changing formation, the band has been around for fifteen years, with at its core brothers Lars and Martin Horntveth and their sister Line. While their sound has always encompassed a variety of genres, it relies primarily on a driven form of power jazz. With their last record to date, the band took to more rock structures and abandoned the electronic textures that had characterised previous releases. With this latest offering, they once again bring electronics into the fold and swap heavy rock forms for more cosmic prog rock. Here, band composer in chief Lars Horntveth talks about the five year break, how working on external projects benefit the band as a whole, working with Tortoise’s John McEntire and spending over half his life with the band. Continue Reading »

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JAGA JAZZIST: One-Armed Bandit (Ninja Tune)

themilkman on Jan 13th 2010 01:01 am

One-Armed Bandit
Ninja Tune 2010
10 Tracks. 53mins32secs

Amazon UK: CD | DLD Amazon US: CD | DLD

It’s been over five years since Jaga Jazzist were last heard of. Although the band has existed in one form or another for over fifteen years, formed by then teenage brothers Lars and Martin Horntveth, with sister Line, and a handful of friend, it is not until they signed to Smalltown Supersound in 2001, and were later licensed to Ninja Tune for Europe, that the band gained widespread recognition outside of their native Norway, with albums such as A Livingroom Hush (2001) and The Stix (2002) causing more than a stir. Their last album to date, What We Must, saw the band, renamed Jaga for the occasion, adopt a harsher, grittier stance and distil their usual blend of progressive power jazz with a heavy does of rock. Continue Reading »

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THE BUG: London Zoo (Ninja Tune)

David Abravanel on Aug 7th 2008 10:52 pm

The Bug: London Zoo

London Zoo
Ninja Tune 2008
12 Tracks. 57mins54secs

Kevin Martin is quite the musical chameleon, having played parts in the jazz-minded project God, the industrial hip-hop of Ice, and guess which genre he was producing as a collaborator with Techno Animal.  The one common thread between all of Martin’s creative phases has been a kind of abrasive-yet-cerebral hardcore.  Everything is sharp and overdriven, but the edges have more of an aesthetically tricky purpose than simply to boom out speakers for the sake of it.  For the past decade, The Bug has been Martin’s outlet for his forays into Jamaican styles, primarily focused on bizarre nightmare dub visions and violently political dancehall chant assaults.  The former dominated on 1997’s Tapping The Conversation, in which Martin (along with collaborator DJ Vadim) conceived of a new soundtrack to Francis Ford Coppola’s paranoid masterpiece of claustrophobic deception, The Conversation.  It was a fitting backdrop for an introduction to the dark, heavy, and distorted dub rhythms from The Bug.  It was also a fantastic dubstep release, appearing roughly a decade before the genre would officially get its recognition. Continue Reading »

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DAEDELUS: Love To Make Music To (Ninja Tune)

themilkman on Jun 2nd 2008 12:17 am

Daedelus: Love To Make Music To

Love To Make Music To
Ninja Tune 2008
15 Tracks. 55mins00secs

With nine albums and a handful of EPs and collaborations under his belt, Daedelus’s Alfred Darlington has made the blend of hip-hop-infused electronica he has helped shaping up his own, giving it an unmistakable dandy slant. Love To Make Music To, his latest offering, his first long player recorded especially for Ninja Tune, is once again a distinctively colourful and varied collection, centred on an imaginary story which begins during the 1894 Chicago World’s Fair and concludes a hundred years later. Continue Reading »

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VARIOUS ARTISTS You Don’t Know: Ninja Cuts (Ninja Tune)

Colin Buttimer on Apr 28th 2008 09:47 pm

V/A: You Don’t Know: Ninja Cuts

You Don’t Know: Ninja Cuts
Ninja Tune 2008
50 Tracks. 224mins35secs

Ninja Tune have been going for an awful long time. Eighteen years in fact. Back at the outset, deep in the mists of time, when we were quite a bit younger than we are now (if we existed at all, that is), the Ninja crew were a bunch of cool fuckers. They rode in on the backs of the likes of DJ Food, Coldcut, Hex and co. Soon after the founding fathers came a second wave consisting of 9 Lazy 9, Funki Porcini, DJ Vadim and The Herbaliser. The early compilations – Funkjazztical Tricknology, Tone Tales From Tomorrow – were a lot of fun and contributed to a playful rebalancing of the rather-too-serious for its own good self-definition of trip-hop by Bristolian headliners (you know who I mean).

Later in the nineties and early noughties, fascinating leftfield luminaries such as Burnt Friedman, Chris Bowden, Roots Manuva and Jaga Jazzist hopped on the bus. But somewhere along the way the main stable seemed to get a bit hackneyed, those waggish ‘you are listening to a stereo recording’-type samples began to bring listeners out in hives and the Ninja Tune share price plummeted. Continue Reading »

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THE CINEMATIC ORCHESTRA: Live At The Royal Albert Hall (Ninja Tune)

David Abravanel on Apr 27th 2008 11:51 pm

The Cinematic Orchestra: Live At The Royal Albert Hall

Live At The Royal Albert Hall
Ninja Tune 2008
09 Tracks. 67mins38secs

Jason Swinscoe has had an interesting time deciding where to steer The Cinematic Orchestra. On its first release, Motion, the Orchestra was a sample-heavy nu-jazz project, exploring and crossing the lines between jazz and hip hop’s more abstract forms. Two years later, the Orchestra switched gears to perform a tight, manic score for Dziga Vertov’s classic, Soviet-era, silent film, Man With A Movie Camera. Following this was Every Day, the most fully realized Cinematic Orchestra album, moving further toward the abstract hip hop side of the equation it introduced with Motion, and progressing toward a looser and more exhausted sound. Most recently, Swinscoe and co. retreated with Ma Fleur, a delicately revitalizing soundtrack to an imaginary movie.

It’s easy to digest The Cinematic Orchestra’s albums as individual units, but thematically, one wouldn’t expect songs from different periods of its history to sit side-by-side too well. Remarkably, on Live At The Royal Albert Hall, Swinscoe has put together a show that flows flawlessly as a cohesive whole, and, like the best live (re)arrangements, forces the listener to reconsider his/her relationship with these songs. Augmented by a live orchestra, Live recasts the Orchestra’s pieces in a light that lends itself to improvisation and more present crescendos; an unexpected but very welcome change of pace.

Opener All That You Give, the Orchestra’s signature song, sounds immediately different. The majestic-yet-claustrophobic instrumentation of the studio version, is replaced by a fuller sounding orchestra, and features a new, screaming saxophone solo. As a replacement for the legendary Fontella Bass, Heidi Vogel has some big shoes to fill, but her vibrato-laden wail works sublimely to deliver a line like “Can you hear me raving? Do you see me crying?” Flite, the only other song on Live lifted from Every Day, is rescued from its overly rigid studio version to become a lively, mysterious explosion of music. It’s impressive to hear a live drummer keep up with the jungle programming of the original, while the addition of what sounds like a noisy electric guitar, and orchestral strings, makes the piece sound like the spy-movie anthem it was apparently meant to be. Never before has the “Cinematic” in the Orchestra’s name been so appropriate.

Ma Fleur thrived on sparseness, empty spaces, and reserved vocals, so it is interesting to hear how its pieces (which make up six of the nine selections here) translate to such a multifaceted live setting. Familiar Ground swirls into being, with audience excitement and applause heating up as the song’s swinging, two-note intro marches forth. The orchestration is more front-and-center here than on the album, while Vogel (again filling in for Bass) perfectly nails the trembling soul that this vocal performance demands. Breathe, meanwhile, betrays the more subdued tone of the original for a bursting, climactic crescendo. The impact of the studio version is changed, but not at all diminished.

Ode To The Big Sea, the only track representing Motion, undergoes the most radical translation here. At almost three times the length of the album version, the live Sea takes the phrases of the original for a five-minute spin, before breaking down into a series of unbacked solos – drums, then horns, then some time for the DJ to shine – before returning for a few more laps around the main theme. It’s the closest to pure avant garde jazz the Cinematic Orchestra has come, yet it wears its distinctive hip hop flavor proudly on its sleeve. After this, Time And Space falls back a bit, as Ma Fleur’s most impressive song takes its place as an emotional grand finale. Featuring Lamb’s Louise Rhodes on a spot-on vocal delivery (of which this album has no shortage), the lush orchestration brings the depth of the original into another dimension. Time And Space runs through one final, and brief, climax, before fading away.

The feeling one gets upon completion of listening to Live At The Royal Albert Hall is similar to finishing a particularly affecting novel – emotionally drained, with a lot to think about, and somehow, all the better for it. In an era where bootlegging and file-sharing have made the standard-issue live album obsolete, Live draws from existing Cinematic Orchestra material to paint a new picture, one well worth seeking out.


Icon: arrow The Cinematic Orchestra | Ninja Tune
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