This month is always interesting. Once austere January is out the way, things start happening in February. Proto-spring. Festivals and holidays get planned; it's a flurry of activity. This year the age-old relationship between politics and music is clear to see. The more batshit everything becomes, the more poignant and reflective music is. Terrifying and refreshing in equal measures. Larger musical appetites should be feeling pretty satisfied right now.
Planning for this summer, the P.P. team are heading to Houghton, Gilles Peterson's new We Out Here festival, Field Maneuvers, Meadows in the Mountains and Glasto among others. We'll report back from each of those. February gig highlights were AMOR & John Grant, and in March we're particularly looking forward to Swindle performing his majestic new record with a live band in Manchester, and one of our favourite diggers Antal will be spinning all night at the Pickle Factory.
Release-wise, an amazing month. Too many to mention really, but we've done our best to share a few of our highlights. Lots of new albums, singles, compilations, and a few older bits we've just found. Thanks to our contributing team members Swift, Tyler, R.B and extra thanks to our wonderful cover artist Lily Wales. We'll be doing a feature interview with her soon so go check our her engrossing work.
We hope you find something you dig. As always, don't rely on streaming services to support your artists; spend your money if you can! Much love, P.P x
Hailu Mergia was a jazz legend in Ethiopia during the 70s but was forced to leave his homeland because of famine, social unrest and the Derg, an authoritarian communist regime who enforced mad anti-music policies. He spent the next thirty years driving a cab around Washington DC, making lo-fi tapes in his spare time. Rediscovered in 2013 by Awesome Tapes from Africa founder Brian Shimkovitz, this is his first proper album for twenty years. It’s full of yearning and hope and sadness and prompts similar feelings in the listener. I could make a comparison to Alice Coltrane, not really for how it sounds, but for how spiritual and connected to everything you feel when listening. It’s enchanting and magnificently playful and funky. I listened to it walking home in the rain and the sun came out and I couldn’t stop grinning.
Polish-born, Glasgow-based Ela Orleans collects 13 tracks from her long career in the lo-fi orchestral pop underworld. These gauzy, hazy songs create a big melodic hug of crystalline texture and are perfect for our armchair-headphones-cuppa-spliff album of the month. The press release nails it: “we’re in a seedy kitsch bar-room go-go scene, a ghostly rock’roll romance with shimmering percussion, pole-dancing in a Lynchian half-dream”. Sold.
I couldn’t believe this wasn’t a lost banger from 80s New York when I first heard it. I snuck it between two disco tunes at Jam Cafe and had a number of people come up asking for an ID. Try not dancing to it.
It should go without saying how much we love Cosey. This new album is exciting as it’s her first solo record in 36 years. The wordless slabs of pulsing, droning soundscapes feel like they contain lifetimes of experience. I can't tell if I’m in a womb or in infinite space, or both at once. It’s punctuated by the odd glimpse of melodic beauty as Cosey uses her voice, breathy, chopped-up and processed to add some familiarity. As an extra bonus Cosey also put together a mix for NTS.
Once you’re in the void after listening to TUTTI you might as well double down and stay there. Another very raw-human album, this. It’s elemental. Deep, dark, ethereal and ancient. It’s full of contrast and conflict. Who are these characters? Each listen drags you into their world, into their stories; the ambiguity and space around the poetry allows the imagination to run wild, filling in the blanks. When the album finishes and you come back you ask yourself where the hell you've just been.
Patiently rolled out chunks of beefy techno. Solid.
Chopped up gospel records into dusty hip hop beats with slightly unsettling pitched-up vocals.
New Chaka, what is there to say? It's huge, the use of the Fatback Band sample is inspired.
Just as we are really getting into the beautiful music of Andras, current-fave label Efficient Space teams up with him and Instant Peterson to compile a selection of 90s dance music from the Australian left field. Like the label's previous comps Oz Waves & Midnite Spares, everything here is brilliant. Experimental, late-night jams that will keep your dance floor grinning, eyes closed, tripping. Keep 'em coming, Efficient Space.
Sounds like stumbling upon a subterranean world where the gnomic inhabitants hypnotise you with powerful synths.
Makes me wish I could drive a car so I could fly to Los Angeles, hire a convertable and drive along Highway 1 blasting this all the way to San Francisco.
Optimo’s new digital label is smashing it, as expected. Could have picked any of the recent releases to feature here but this one in particular caught my ear. Five chunky tension-builders that I can’t wait to hear on the floor.
DJ Khalab’s afrofuturistic Black Noise 2084 was a highlight of last year and this EP is a fantastic companion. Remixes from Afrikan Sciences/Blood, Wine or Honey/Hieroglyphic Being.
Banana Hill crew member Clay offers up his first release and it’s a charming broken beat number with jazzy vibes, delicately scattered drums and a slinky bassline. It’s so infectious, nice one Christie!
Another legend with a long overdue new album. Watching Azymuth a few years ago at Dekmantel (on the same bill as Tony Allen, James Holden & Cabaret Voltaire; what a night!) was a landmark live experience. I loved how expertly these three men from Brazil held a younger audience captive and had us dancing outrageously for around two hours, never letting the energy dip; they were having the time of their life. This record from Ivan Conti, the drummer of Azymuth, has much of that same kinetic energy, but it’s directed into a more tribal and trippy sound. It really shines when it dips into slow, sexy grooves. A cosmic dance party in the Brazilian jungle.
Now this is sleek! Some of that sweet Italian boogie from the 80s that you'd expect to hear in a daytime DJ Harvey set. A much-needed repress.
Wonderful jazz queen Zara McFarlane enlists the production help of dub legend Dennis Bovell for this cover of Augustus Pablo’s ’71 classic. They do a grand job, upping the tempo a bit and modernising the dub flavour.
- Fit Siegel's RA Podcast resonated with us, Detroit night-drive music
- Posthuman runs the squelchy I Love Acid label and gave us a playlist of modern acid
- A Weekend Far Out is a Mediterranean-sounding record from Berlin
- Fabrizio Fattori makes an album about Africa in Italy
- Why did drum and bass ever stop sounding like this?
- broken20 from Glasgow makes a lovely bit of art with birds
That’s all for now. Look after each other x