February 28, 2020

Various Artists – Trip Hop Vibes Vol. 1– Wagram

By Kristi Kates | Sept. 28, 2019

Whether you’ve long wondered what “trip-hop” exactly is — or you’re already a longtime fan of the genre — this is an exceptional overview of it, with some of the mainstays of the sound bringing their best tracks. Moby’s catchy “Natural Blues,” Bjork’s bombastic/melodic “Army of Me,” and Thievery Corporation’s “It Takes a Thief” could be thought of as classics of this type of music; expanding your trip-hop experience even further are tunes from Jamie XX (“Far Nearer”), DJ Shadow with Mos Def (“Six Days”), The Cinematic Orchestra (“Channel One Suite”), and much more. *** ½
Gruff Rhys – Pang! – Rough Trade
Welsh singer Rhys (who also takes on the bulk of guitar work here) teams up with South African electronica producer Muzi for this effort. The pair first worked together on Blur frontman Damon Albarn’s world music collective, Africa Express. Their great teamwork is evident on tracks like the uber-industrial “Ol Bys/Nodau Clust,” the icy, propellant tones of “Ara Deg,” and the impressively smooth harmony lines that intertwine with the dark horn sounds on “Niwl O Anwiredd.” ***

Lord Echo – Curiosities – Soundway
The New Zealand musician and producer Lord Echo (aka Mike Fabulous) mixes up dubstep, soul, funk, and disco on an upbeat set clearly inspired by the dancefloors of the ’70s. Preview single “Digital Haircut” is tough to categorize — in a good way — as it bounces around between futuristic synthesizers, ’70s basslines, and funk guitar tracks. Elsewhere, tunes like the emotional “Molten Lava” will keep you around for the groovin’ beats to happen next. ***

Boy Scouts – Free Company – Epitaph
Boy Scouts, aka singer-songwriter Taylor Vic, sets her lovelorn lyrics over thick drums and rumbling bass lines, a far cry from her early days when she created own drum parts and posted them on MySpace. She sticks with her confessional wordplay on this collection of tunes, but they’re upgraded in both performance and production to better suit this pensive album of mostly breakup tunes. Worth a listen: the quiet musings of “Momentary Love” and the more biting “All Right,” whichcalls out her former flame. ** ½


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