New albums and compilations
Aquarian Angel (Naked Music)
Jay Denes’s productions are so distinctive that his soulful, percussive jazzy tunes have defined not just his label (Naked Music), but a soulful, stylish genre called, well, naked music. It’s been three years since his Blue Six debut, and numerous pale imitators have come and gone in the meantime. This follow-up succeeds with smooth R&B vox from Aya, Lisa Shaw and Catherine Russell; beautifully integrated live and electronic sounds; meticulous and tasteful percussion; and lugubrious sax soloing. At times, it makes Sade sound like Motörhead.
Fort Knox Five
Reminted (Fort Knox Recordings)
D.C. production outfit FK5 is largely responsible for the funky breaks revival on the right coast. They’ve yet to drop a debut album, but they promise that it’s coming soon. Instead, the foursome (for real) teases us with this mix collection, in which every track is a FK5 reworking of something they’d probably spin anyhow: Tito Puente, Nickodemus, Torpedo Boyz and Joe Bataan. The result is an easy access, uptempo, funky but well informed party in which many of the tracks retain their original pizazz.
Mixed by Willie Graff and Nicolas Matar
Seventh Heaven (Cielo)
New York club Cielo maintains a rep for intimate partying and high quality programming—mainly deep house, techno and classics. Here, on two discs, founder Nicolas Matar and Willie Graff lend their hands to a signature mix, capturing the sound of the club’s Playtime night. The first disc, Balearic, is melodic but with shades of minimalism that the Spanish island partiers have embraced in recent years. The second disc, dubbed Nocturnal, burns a bit hotter with anthems from Skwerl. The bridge between the two are disco-updating jams from Atlanta producer Fudge.
Quique Redux Edition (too pure)
The U.K. label that brought us Stereolab and PJ Harvey reaches back into the vaults for this one: a reissue of the 1993 album Quique from the organic, ambient techno band Seefeel. This time, it has an extra disc of mixes. Shoegazers loved them the first time around, and the quartet’s dubby bubblebath of atmospheric guitars and programmed beats anticipated the gauzy electronics of the Boards of Canada. Spacious, minimal and ripe for remixing, Seefeel remains startlingly relevant today.
Karl Lagerfeld: Les musiques que j’aime (Tolerance Records/Vogue)
You knew that überdesigner Karl Lagerfeld has 20 full iPods ready at all times and his H&M collection sold out in a heartbeat, but did you know that his playlist blows yours away? The first disc in this set is his ‘at-home player’; the other is Karl’s ‘work/fashion show’ mix. At home, evidently, he digs Michael Mayer, Lindstrøm & Prinz Thomas, Super Furries and Electrelane. For the shows, he goes a bit darker and plays the Fall, Siouxsie, Joakim and Kreidler. He’s the coolest NME reader with a ponytail and he’s rich.—John Dugan