VC-118A – Spiritual Machines

A blend of ambient and IDM with down-to-mid-tempo beats. First I registered this as some strange combination of psy chill atmosphere and glitchy sounds, then I figured there’s quite a bit of cyberpunk mood to it. I could imagine this to be a soundtrack of a neo-noir RPG game. Then I looked at the album title again… Riiiiight.

Alex Banks – Beneath The Surface

Intimate electronic music (think Moderat) with down to mid tempo and glitchy broken beats. Not the kind of intimate that makes you turn inside and feel blue, but the one that gives a push and inspires.

Thievery Corporation – Symphonik

It was just recently that I revisited some memories of nu jazz and Thievery Corporation is definitely of the same era. This album is essentially a best of record for them with orchestral rearrangements. Honestly, this is not a big deal, the reworks are not earth shattering, but the tracks are classics anyway and it’s a nice throwback.

The Orb – Abolition of the Royal Familia

Ambient house, straight-up ambient, and dub-fused chill-out music, exactly something like made by The Orb. All sounds are coming from a happy place, it’s light-hearted, easy to listen, and high on delight, it just makes me happy. It’s hard to pick favorite tracks but right now I love the long soothing soundscape of Shape Shifters best with its city ambience and trumpet notes. Although I changed favorites quite a bit since this is my go-to record to listen to whenever I don’t have time or need to think twice for the past two monhts right from its very release. I’m quite amazed how Paterson can deliver such a great album after 30 years steady in the business.

It’s a bitch that sometimes I can least elaborate about my favorite music. There are certain stuff that you just have to listen to and feels mundane to write words. This is one of those.

Skalpel – Highlight

Easy listening nu jazz. I rarely listen to this genre nowadays but it’s nice to come back to something that brings back memories of the Couch Records of dZihan & Kamien, the !K7 of Tosca, the Sonar Kollektiv of Jazzanova. Smells like sitting on a terrace on a summer night with warm breeze moving around the little paper umbrella pinned to a slice of lemon sitting on the top of a gin tonic and having no problems at all in the world.

I remember travelling to Vienna, Austria with a group of music journalist to report from a concert and during the night ride home talking about what’s hot in music, and there was this guy saying that nu jazz is the best music genre in the world and will stay forever. It was 2006. I wonder if he was right: looking at Skalpel underlines that it’s indeed here even if not topping the charts although it never have done so. Being the cornerstone music of the ruin pub revolution in Budapest was never a Billboard chart defining attribute for a genre I guess.

I remember a guy from Byron Bay, Australia who I quite randomly met at a coffee place in a small town in Hungary and who told me he had a vinyl and surf shop by the oceanside. His main reason to travel to Central Europe every year was to seek out new nu jazz records. That and pretty Hungarian girls. Anyhow, his favorite label was Couch Records, we got along quickly. He ended up leeching most of my music collection and went on to Vienna with a long list of new record ideas to collect for his shop.

Many people were crazy about nu jazz 15-20 years ago, it was an underground music movement that I never understood why stayed underground. Probably the easy listening tunes are too perfectly fit for mindless chilling on a beach and in popular use it just stuck to that lounge setting and noone really paid attention.

Four Tet – Sixteen Oceans

Another collection of beautifully sophisticated downtempo electronics from Four Tet. At certain points I tend to think this record loses some of the uniqueness that I attribute to Four Tet, but at the end of the day these songs are still so full that love and soul that I feel pouring out of the headphones while listening to them. And in that sense I distinctly feel that I’m still listening to a Four Tet album.

Love Salad plays all the notes that I’m looking for here, this is what sounds like Four Tet in 2020 for me: long minimal beat prologue, heartfilling melody, shows the past, represents the present. There can be Bibios and Apparats out there playing along similar strings but this guy still takes it home best for me. Also and maybe most importantly the upbeat airiness that I feel so well in this track is what defines his sound right now, and it’s quite a long journey from when As Serious As Your Life was my favorite track in 2003. The triphop heavy thoughts and blue moods are overshadowed (or overlit rather) by a breeze of fresh air and the ease of motion that enables a carefree dance. Even in a track called Something in the Sadness it’s just rolling and moving and jingling and it’s dropping the burden and not carrying it around. I love this Four Tet now.