Between The Cracks: Essential Releases You Need To Hear

With so much good music coming through thick and fast, it’s easy for albums to drop online and go overlooked. Each week we select new records, from across the musical soundscape, that require your attention. Stream releases from Natureboy Flako, Olof Melander, Phil Stroud, John Carroll Kirby, Cantoma, Wu Cloud and Nalesca Mantega. Happy listening – and don’t forget to hit the links and support the artists.


Natureboy Flako – Ambitus Of Beauty

Natureboy Flako’s new album Ambitus Of Beauty is a chillingly beautiful, and intoxicating listen. On his third album, the Berlin-based producer takes inspiration from Imagine Plantasia – an animated film narrated by Jacques Cousteau. From dreamy beats to ambient influences, Flako creates a unique and complex sound. With 16 tracks that for the most part come in bite-sized chunks, this wonderful album is over far too quickly but luckily everything on the album leaves a lasting impression. Even the longer and standout tracks like ‘Silver Forest Spirits’ (blissful and laidback), ‘Mantra Para Nunu’( meditative and hypnotic) ‘Contemplation’ (analog synth-heavy and otherworldly) and ‘Susurro’ ( warm blissful vibes) feel all too brief but luckily the LP keeps rewarding with repeated listens. Close your eyes, and follow the music’s lead. 



Olof Melander – Crumbs 

‘Crumbs’ is a wonderfully leftfield, yet still cohesive and impressively tight collection from Olof Melander. It’s been a while since we heard from the Astro traveller from Sweden who also goes by the name of iller the abstract giraffe. Employing a wide range of musical styles from jazz, electronic, ambient and sound collages the project features nine tracks of sometimes spacious, often swirling beats and edgy offbeat instrumentals plus one brilliant vocal cut which finds Moor Mother joining the party! Standouts include ‘Bird Dust’, ‘Outside. jpg’, ‘Echoes’, ‘Breaking Point’, and ‘The Void’. Welcome back Olof, we can’t wait to hear what you have in store for us next! Well worth investigating for a dose of abstract bliss.



Phil Stroud – Australiana

Laidback, infectiously-inventive and with very cool grooves this new record from Phil Stroud is a truly captivating listen from beginning to end. His work has gained him lots of admirers including tastemakers such as Gilles Peterson, Bradley Zero and Anthony Naples. His contribution to Peterson’s Sunny Side Up compilation from last year was one of the album’s standout moments! On his new album titled Australiana, he mixes ambient, dub techno and acoustic instruments with the typical ease we’ve come to expect from the Perth based artist. The album opens with the title cut which is awash with dubby effects balanced to perfection by an airy flute. ‘Zamia trail’, follows and is slightly denser with a serious slow dub groove that will get your head-nodding. The vibe is decidedly mellow on the meditative ‘Eucalyptus’ and for those who like it dreamy and droning try ‘Bushfire’.  Speaking about the project Stroud says “My hope is to immerse the listener into an abstract environment and create an experience which feels comfortable, yet still exotic to this world.” It’s great to hear Stroud experimenting further with his sound and pushing even deeper into new sonic area’s. One for the open-minded music lover – this is pure eargasm!



John Carroll Kirby – Conflict

Conflict was released just before his Stones Throw debut LP My Garden and on this 8-track project he crafts intoxicating, and immersive instrumental piano-based pieces. Talking about the record Kirby says the intimate recordings are the outcome of “trying to accept the duality of the world, and through that find peace”. Though he recorded Conflict about a year ago, Kirby decided to spontaneously release it in response to the escalating global crisis, with the hope that it might help fortify the listener and induce inner calm. An amazing, beautiful body of work.



Cantoma – Into Daylight

The new decade dawns with a message of love and hope from Balearic envoy Phil Mison and his fourth LP under the Cantoma moniker. Joined by old friends and new acquaintances, Señor Misono draws on a lifetime of record collecting, selection and songwriting to pack ‘Into Daylight’ with the essence of the Balearic movement, from the Café del Mar and beyond. The album features guests Quinn Lamont Luke, Hush Forever, Suad Khalifa, Apres Midi, David Philips and Luna Asteri and was recorded between London and Barcelona. The album begins tenderly with ‘Back Into Daylight’ featuring the rich tones of Quinn Lamont Luke, followed by ‘Verbana’, a breezy slice of guitar-driven chillout with warming flute sounds. A Song For Spring steers into mid-tempo groover, while ‘Space For Us’ and ‘Road Home’ are utterly relaxing and uplifting Balearic bliss.  Into The Daylight finds the right balance between those groovy electronics and laidback Balearic cool. The album closes with the perfect sunset soundtrack ‘The Mountain’, which will have you dreaming of sipping cocktails on the White Isle. This is most definitely music for faraway places.




Wu Cloud – Hitherto 

If ever there was a release that perfectly encapsulated this particular feature then Hitherto is it. Under the radar quality music that needs to be heard by the masses. Lisbon based label The Slow Music Movement delve into the work of Wu Cloud to deliver an EP of leftfield electronic journeys. With the Australian producer dropping his and the label’s first LP shortly this four-tracker featuring cuts from his first 3 EPs is a little warm-up of what to expect from the full-length. Tracks like ‘Lagoon Zero’ and ‘Arrival’ are slightly more experimental and trippy and bring free jazz energy to the project, while the serene ‘Muqa’s Dream’ and ‘Malam Malam’ radiate a warm, atmospheric tranquillity that is just so wondrous. If you like your electronica, mixed with psychedelic dub, exotic ambient, and field-recordings than look no further as I think you need to hear this record.



Nalesca Mantega – Brisalho

São Paulo duo Nalesca Mantega aka Marco Nalesso and Luciano Valério create ambiences as connected conversations on their debut EP. Across the four tracks, they deftly blend the raw energy of rock with brooding electronics and fuzzy psychedelia. Having said that their sound is impossible to pigeonhole, as the range of genres are effortlessly spanned over the four tracks turning their creative hands to multiple styles. The result is an exciting, unpredictable EP that’s a wonderful breath of fresh air. The record features musicians Steve Shelley (drums), Guilherme Valério (kalimba), Bruno Trchmn (buzuq) and Edgar (voice). Brisalho is available on all digital music platforms and also as a short film.



CF Smith

Permeating your ears with good music.

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