September continued a pattern that began in August, that is to say that the most highly anticipated releases let me down and I was pleasantly surprised by albums that I’d been merely curious about.

The biggest disappointment was ‘Penny Sparkle’ by Blonde Redhead, I’d only got into the band in the last year or so and was expecting them to take their formula on again. However ‘Penny Sparkle’ felt flat and too wishy-washy non of songs gave the impression anything was at risk and sometimes it even sounded like the band was on auto pilot. I also had high expectations of ‘Grinderman 2’ by the Bad Seeds side project of the same name and Dave Sitek’s first ‘solo’ venture Maximum Balloon. Though neither album is terrible ‘Grinderman 2’ lacked the seat of the pants feeling of their self titled début, but still had some great moments. ‘Maximum Balloon’ should have been a dance floor triumph, instead it felt like the lack of gravitas went against and some songs failed to make an impression at all.

Another disappointment was ‘The Soft Wave’ by Arp having enjoyed albums by the likes of Lindstrom and Prins Thomas and Mungolian Jetset (also Norwegian artists on Smalltown Supersound), I thought this would be a real winner. What found was derivative and over repetitive arpeggios and overly familiar pad sounds. Finally there was The Hundred in the Hands self titled début album on Warp which ticks all the right (post-punk and synth-pop) boxes but lacks any really bite or conviction, I might be missing the point but this is all froth and I was expecting some more genuine and deep from a Warp.

However, September was balanced out by some great new releases, the first of which was Gold Panda’s début album ‘Lucky Shiner’ an impressive collection of hip-hop infused electronica that reminds me of Four Tet’s finest moments particularly tracks like ‘No More Mosquitoes’ and Oriental samples and atmosphere and the more psychedelic tracks on ‘Everything Ecstatic’. The biggest surprise was El Guincho’s ‘Pop Negro’, I remember being disappointed with his début album ‘Alegranza’ when it came out in 2008 (though revisiting reveals some gems particularly ‘Fata Morgana’), however the template set out by that album has been expanded and improved upon creating an infectious, upbeat summer album, that’s a real contender for Album of the Year. Like El Guincho, Solar Bears début album ‘She Was Coloured In’ wasn’t something I’d expected great things from but its a subtle yet strong work that covers many different styles within electronica from lo-fi electro pop, Boards of Canada style pastoral pieces, John Carpenter inspired soundtrack music and much more are folded into an album that works despite its diversity and is an album in the old sense with many tracks segue into each other. Roll on album number two!!

The last pleasant surprise was ‘Mechanical Gardens’ by Altar Eagle (Type Records) this husband and wife duo were previously known for making noise music as Corsican Paintbrush. Altar Eagle, however is a very different proposition (though I’d say there’s residual noise influences) and they operated in a dream like pop world, though even that fails to accurately sum up what they do. There’s a lot of music like this being talked about at the moment but Altar Eagle (and Laurel Halo) are distinct entity and well worth listening to.

Shit Robot (finally) produced his début album and he didn’t disappoint skillfully managing to incorporate a range of different vocalists from DFA label boss James Murphy to ex-Make-Up singer Ian Svenonius who delivers the stand out vocals on ‘Simple Things’ (Work It Out). The album occasionally touches on old school dance music sounds that can sound dated but this is the only gripe as it delivers on almost all of its nine tracks with some subtle and some incredible powerful dance tracks. Well worth checking out, if you like LCD Soundsystem and the 12″ that come out on DFA.

Spotify playlist (plus some October releases):

September 2010 playlist

Recommended for October:

Gonjasufi – ‘The Caliph’s Tea Party’ (remix album) (Warp) 4th October

Mark McGuire – ‘Living with Yourself’ (Edition Mego) 4th October

Salem – ‘King Night’ (I Am Sound) 4th October

Solar Bears – ‘She Was Coloured In’ (Plant Mu) 4th October

Gold Panda – ‘Lucky Shiner’ (physical) (Notown) 11th October

Harmonious Thelonious – ‘Talking’ (Italic) 11th October

Dark Star – ‘North’ (Hyperdub) 18th October

Avey Tare – ‘Down There’ (Paw Tracks) 25th October

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