New Order – Music Complete...

When it comes to iconic bands of the eighties and nineties, Manchester’s New Order must be somewhere close to the top of the pile. Rising from the ashes of another act that has cast a long shadow over the independent music scene, what they achieved was quite extraordinary. The tragic loss of Ian Curtis, the central figure and main songwriter in Joy Division could very well have been enough to bury any hopes of continuing  but to their credit, Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook and Stephen Morris somehow pulled through, re-shaping the band with a completely new sound and rebranding that sound as New Order. With additional member Gillian Gilbert on board, they went on to forge a hugely successful career, one of the true ground-breaking acts of their era, fusing indie and dance music in a way that nobody else came close to matching. Inevitably, the band fractured, and the unseemly spat that ensued has continued to this day with bassist Peter Hook touring classic albums from Joy Division and New Order with his band The Light, while the rest of New Order continued as an entity with both factions firing very public broadsides at each other along the way. Heralded by some as a triumphant return,  New Order’s tenth album Music Complete will either delight or disappoint depending on which version of New Order you prefer. There is the New Order of pre-1987, as represented by the excellent 12″ singles compilation album Substance and there is the New Order of post 1988, when the burgeoning acid house and Madchester scene began to influence the bands sound to a greater degree. It is this latter version of New Order that the band return to, the Balearic beats and smooth electro pop of that incarnation, eschewing the harder edge...

Scuba – Claustrophobia...

The early nineties – indie kids look on in horror as dance music begins to infiltrate their cosy, dimly lit world of jangly guitars and art house noise bands. Eventually, they are forced to succumb as the influence of the acid house scene becomes all-pervasive – Madchester and baggy is born and your new favourite band is likely to be sporting bell bottom jeans and oversized sweatshirts. It’s all about the bass, the beats and whatever it takes to keep you happy and dancing all night long. For many of us, our distrust of ‘real’ dance music ensured that while we could stomach a little Happy Mondays or Primal Scream, that’s as far as we were prepared to go, choosing to  remain blissfully ignorant of the music that influenced these bands. Since 2003, Scuba, a.k.a. Paul Rose, has been making the kind of music that only true aficionados of the underground club scene really get. Invariably categorised as Dubstep, Techno, House, Garage or some flavour of all of the above, Rose has been at the cutting edge of a scene that remains impenetrable for your average music fan. Fourth album Claustrophobia offers a way in for those of us with a passing interest in electronic music – the thing that strikes you on first listen is just how sonically well constructed this album is. Rose has created the kind of album that revels in its attention to detail. The swirl of ambient sounds and tinkling glockenspiel that prefaces opening track ‘Levitation’ is the kind of detail that sets this record apart from your average club record. ‘Why You Feel So Low?’ is darkly thrilling, scanning similar terrain as Jon Hopkins while ‘Drift’ and ‘PCP’ form the core of an album that mixes conventional club land fare with something a little...

Caribou – Our Love...

Canadian Dan Snaith has been making music under the Caribou moniker for just under a decade now. In that time, he has dabbled in a variety of different styles and genres, never really settling for too long on any definitive sound. Our Love is his best album to date by some distance – it is a beautiful slice of melancholy electronica, pulsating with a warmth rarely found in the icy confines of that genre. From hypnotic opener ‘Can’t Do Without You’ to closing track ‘Your Love Will Set You Free’, Snaith utilises an array of gorgeous analogue synth sounds to embellish these wonderfully understated songs, creating a kind of soulful electronica. Snaith is not afraid to lock into a groove when the opportunity presents, resulting in a collection of songs that appeal to the heart while nudging you towards the dance floor at the same time. A delight from start to finish. (4 /...

Thom Yorke – Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes...

Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke returns with another record of glitchy, experimental electronica.

Aphex Twin – Syro...

Pioneering electronic musician Richard James drops a new album some 13 years after the last Aphex Twin record and its a dazzling return.