Alongside the peachy weather, we’ve also been treated to a handful of fine long-playing records this Summer. Here’s a quick overview of three that have caught our attention.
Jon Hopkins / Immunity (Domino)
Jon Hopkins’ background in classical music lends his electronic sound an atmosphere that few other producers can match. Insides, Hopkins’ previous solo LP, flitted between grinding uptempo numbers and score-like tracks. This transition between the two genres is more subtle on Immunity. Opener ‘We Disappear’ comes complete with juddering, coarse beats and an industrial, pulsating clank. This brooding factory of sound is maintained through the next three tracks, culminating with the other worldly ‘Collider’, a tornado of a song which rips along for over nine minutes. Then everything changes. ‘Abandon Window’ offers calm after the storm, showcasing Hopkins’ undoubted talent as a pianist and composer (Hopkins was nominated for an Ivor Novello award for Best Original Score with the soundtrack to the film Monsters). The second half of the album rides out on this contemplative theme. The pace drops off and the beats play a lesser role before the title track brings everything together in one evocative, dream sequence of a song. The thinking man’s dance music.
Gold Panda / Half of Where You Live (Ghostly International)
Gold Panda’s 2010 debut Lucky Shiner really got our attention. The whimsical sounds and exotic samples make it the perfect accompaniment to a long haul flight. Three years on, Gold Panda’s follow up is no less powerful, albeit this time the sound is a little less playful. The textures and layers of sound are almost palpable on ‘Junk City II’ and ‘Brazil’ which bounce along with boundless vim. Gold Panda’s gift is his ability to create a collage of noise that seeps with emotion. As with John Hopkins’ Immunity, the uptempo sound on Half of Where You Live subsides to leave a more introspective vibe. On ‘Flinton’, Gold Panda wields lush strings, Chinese harp and trundling piano to deliver a sumptuous, beautiful song. ‘Enoshima’ continues on this theme, taking us deeper into Gold Panda’s travels while he toured the Lucky Shiner LP. With the album so overtly referencing places of significance to the artist, we’re pretty sure this will be another perfect long haul long-player. Traveller’s delight.
Fat Freddy’s Drop / Blackbird (The Drop)
We were nervous ahead of listening to FFD’s third album. With such an extensive catalogue of dub-infused rollers, would this be a bit ‘samey’ and lack the innovation that made their debut, Based on a True Story, so refreshing? Concerns were heightened after listening to the LP opener, ‘Blackbird’, which feels as though it could have sat on either of the last two albums. However, whereas the other LPs reviewed above start uptempo and then slow down, Blackbird grows and grows, the first single from the album ‘Silver and Gold’ throbbing with rock-influenced electric guitar and Joe Dukie’s rich, unmistakable vocals. The stripped-back ‘Soldier’ stomps along nicely and then reaches a crescendo before taking you back to a heavy head-nod. ‘Never Moving’ is perhaps the most exciting track on the album, a hearty slice of electronica complements FFD’s trademark dub sound and Dukie’s vocals offer a Chicago house-esque opulence. The album rides out with afrobeat and funk influenced tracks ‘Mother Mother’ and ‘Bohannon’, two other sounds FFD blend with their signature style to great success. It turns out Blackbird is indeed innovative and as refreshing as an ice cube down the Y-fronts. Third time’s a charm.