Top 5 Albums of the Week

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Art by Gaurab Thakali

Culture Calling's Top 5 albums of the week, an eclectic mix of records from across genres and decades. Come discover weekly albums to bulk out your collection.

Kaleidoscopio – Tem Que Valer

An important and well-known release in the brief samba-n-bass, or drum-n-bossa craze, Tem Que Valer access the popular notes of this exciting crossover.

Colourful, sunny, and optimistic, Kaleidoscopio perfect the sound to suit the beach as well as the dancefloor, offering parts equal in serenity and jubilancy.

The record has staying power for newcomers to drum-and-bass, who often deride its aggressiveness and repetition, for its sweet simple melodies, delightful vocal riffs, and continually addictive drum patterns. A great success for the genre, one for the history books.

Spotify | Apple Music 

Amon Tobin – Permutation

Before going on to produce soundtracks for Hollywood blockbusters and Triple-A video games, Amon Tobin was chopping drum breaks with jazz samples ranging from utterly peaceful to borderline insane.

Most people know this album through its closing track, ‘Nova’, as is the same with many electronic artists of this era (some of Aphex Twin’s most listened to tracks are his album closers, that bear little resemblance to the rest of the records content, for example), yet the prior 11 tracks helped to put Tobin up alongside the underground higher-ups.

One of the few Brazilian electronic artists to really break into the mainstream, Tobin forever deserves to be mentioned alongside Squarepusher and Aphex in the conversation.

Spotify | Apple Music 

Leon Thomas – Full Circle

One of the best to ever do it, Leon Thomas brings a mix of dancefloor funk anthems and ballads on one of the eras greatest records.

Resplendent with foundational tracks, especially ‘Just in Time to See the Sun’, Full Circle captures as full a range of emotions as possible on an LP, in 48 minutes swinging through ¾ ballads, softly experimental jazz-funk bangers, piano solos, and blood-pumping soulful foot-tappers that rage on beyond what I can cope with.

Standouts include the 10-minute odyssey ‘It’s My Life I’m Fighting For’, a mind-boggling 6/4 solo tournament, an outstanding cover of ‘You Are the Sunshine of My Life’, and the aforementioned ‘Just in Time to See the Sun’, with a horn intro so familiar you’d think it’s been sampled everywhere.

Spotify | Apple Music 

James Blake – Playing Robots Into Heaven

Showing no signs of growing stale on his sixth record, James Blake’s iconic dubstep/pop/ambient/garage angle rejigs itself for another year of quality music from the scenes most-loved mainstream act.

Certain comparisons to Fred Again have been made upon this release, especially where it comes to indistinct vocal samples and suppressed garage drums, but Blake has been on this style for well over a decade now.

If anything, Blake takes Fred Again’s influences to make them edgier, darker, yet more accessible and more entertaining. Not that it’s a competition, but if it were, Blake is so far ahead in the race that it looks like he’s losing.

There’s no dud track here, no error in pacing, no failed attempt to experiment, no moment moving stale, no sign that he’s growing out of touch with age. Somehow, he’s now more relevant and necessary than ever.

Spotify | Apple Music

Antena – Camino Del Sol

The second compilation album from the Numero Group, known for collating older, mostly unreleased records from across the world unknown, Camino Del Soul is based on a mini-album released in 1982, rereleased here in 2004.

It’s remarkable how the record went under the radar for so many years, or maybe the fact that it was so beyond its years, so forward thinking in all genres of bossa nova, electro-pop, and post-punk, that the sound had not found a home yet.

Even in 2023 it sounds fresh, like a new internet-backed take on classic bossa. But not so, just some of the chilliest, most stripped back, soulful bossa you’ve heard. First one to find a bad track wins £50.

Spotify | Apple Music