Album Review: Deniz Kurtel / ‘The Way We Live’ (Wolf + Lamb)


The producer who developed the idea of music as guardian angel doesn’t ditch her sonic surveillance on her sophomore album. Not as clingy or up close and personal as her debut, Music Watching Over Me, Deniz Kurtel maximizes her right to be standoffish, with the introduction of Anti Pop Consortium-style hip-hop — the title track, “Right On” featuring Spearhead’s Michael Franti — increasing the pressure.

Within the ’80s inflections syndicating electro-pop and Detroit/Chicago layovers, “You Know It’s True” re-models two well-known pop fraudsters and “Thunder Clap” draws space fantasies in moonboots. There is expansion, yet the enigmatic grip Kurtel has over you continues, a skeletal hand that manages to be warm and pulpy when “Wake Me Up” shows human sincerity and “I Knew This Would Happen” brightens up. Kurtel’s string-pulling and wicked witchedness means she encourages tracks to spread their wings, but issues warnings that The Marcy All-Stars must report back to her or else.

The audio-visual element in which she also specializes in doesn’t make for much of an exhibition on paper, showcasing a canvas of shuffling, snapping darkness fleetingly illuminated by a mix of sleek and faltering neon through the blinds of the Marcy Hotel. Kurtel reiterates the skill of heightening the senses by taking away from them, where the starkness leaves the imagination to fill in the blanks. Super cool.
File under: Soul Clap, Gadi Mizrahi, Maya Jane Coles

Album Review: Soul Clap / ‘EFUNK’ (Wolf + Lamb)


Cool is such a difficult thing to achieve. You can’t try too hard to get to it, but being blasé about it usually digs its own hole. Soul Clap reach the C word by carefully guiding space-bound electro away from sleazy environs, while maintaining a sexual appetite.

“The Alezby Inn” is coded for something salacious, the one fantasy tome where Eli Goldstein and Charles Levine ooze with the oily charm of a celestial pimp spitting booty bass poetry. But, as ever, their understanding is that powering down means the sensual can come to the fore. “Islands in Space” heads to make-out point, and “Ecstasy,” featuring Mel Blatt from past UK girl group All Saints, slopes off to the parents’ bedroom away from the house party. Meanwhile, the prowess of “Clapping Song” isn’t too cool to laugh at itself, given that it comes equipped with a kazoo symphony.

Boldly playing up to electro-soul nostalgia, R&B popstrels “Take It Slow” and “Let It Go” confidently remind that keyboard is king, and the same self-belief runs through the risks the album takes. “Need Your Lovin” is yet another re-up of Baby D/The Korgis – now seasoned with Salt n Pepa – and “Let’s Groove On,” with nods to Doug Lazy and Chad Jackson, toys with irony and knowledge. Soul Clap: cool, but without rubbing everyone’s nose in it.
File under: Chromeo, Egyptian Lover, Jack Splash