When we interviewed Manchester duo Space Afrika for our 162th Truancy Volume back in 2016, they explained that one of the most important influences for their sound was architecture. Somewhere Decent to Live, the name of their second album on Will Boyd’s Sferic label, is a nod to this. The duo’s northern English hometown serves as their primary inspiration, the city’s music, heartbeat and surroundings permeating their work. With the likes of Modern Love and meandyou amongst the standout Mancunian labels in recent years, Space Afrika very much continue the local tradition of deepness on their most realised work to date.
“dred” is dark and murky recalling the likes of Rod Modell. “sd/tl” and “oread” are lighter and brighter in comparison, showing that deepness isn’t necessarily just about moodiness, but about creating something absorbing. Much in the same way that Jan Jelinek creates a closeness in his music through minimalist explorations of warmth, elements of Somewhere Decent to Live delve into similarly intimate territory. This is none more evident than in “u+00b1”, a surefire highlight in all its reversed, looped glory. “bly” is the most overtly dubby track on the record with soft, echoed, fleeting moments summoning the feeling of a solitary, inner city weeknight walk. The LP’s understated flirtations with dance rhythms reflect a city known for its history of jungle, techno and garage, conveyed most clearly through “gwabh”. It’s the engagement with these sounds that provides the backdrop for album, ensuring variation while maintaining the album’s cohesive, mesmerising atmosphere.
Immersive, epic, encapsulating: Parisian duo Second Spectre’s latest release on Champ Libre Records, Les relations invisibles, pens a dark, paranoid prose over the course of its seven tracks. Ever the scribes of enveloping sonic tales, their output is a natural fit for the album format. Packed to the brim with tangible textures and surging grooves, it’s a journey that brings a certain sort of cinematography to the dancefloor. Though they don’t quite bare their teeth from the off, tracks such as “Argile” and “Emeraude” feature tribal drums ferocious enough to reward listeners’ patience. Still, this isn’t an album to skip through – a team of drawn-out synth landscapes and scattered percussion featuring piercing bass drums concoct a winning formula. It’s on this release that Second Spectre really showcase their ability.
The latest release on New York’s Lost Soul Enterprises comes from local stalwart Heidi Sabertooth, featuring four tracks of bold, impressive techno. “Neu U”’s amazing intro instils a fresh sense of brightness and musicality into standard electronic bleeps, floating about unaccompanied only to be then plunged into darkness by the onset pummelling bass drums and fizzing hi-hats. “Crack on the D” is more unhinged, its hypnotic, unyielding melodies and terrifying, snakelike loops pitted against the steady calm of the beat. There’s a satisfying groove in its shimmering clomp. It’s followed by “Squails”, a rowdy acid stomp that uses what could be a distorted vocal sample as much as it could be janky strings strummed and modulated beyond recognition. The track bangs and acid rains from above. More hypnotism through repetition, hi-hats creep out from underneath those strange samples and everything collapses into digital mist. On the remix, Young Male takes the track’s rumbling bass and renders it darker, harder. It’s a more straightforward, heads-down interpretation for shadowy basements. Rough edges are smoothed off and bubbles of colour removed for a decidedly monochromatic approach.
Words by Antoin Lindsay, Jena Sivakuma and Aidan Hanratty.