Between The Cracks: Essential Releases You May Have Missed

Our pick of the best new albums 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. No lengthy write-ups as who reads those anyway? We keep it short and to the point because you’re hear to listen to the music! Check out our weekly mini-guide below and if you like what you hear, click the links and support the artists.


Contours – Balafon Sketches 

The first self-release from Contours finds the Manchester-based producer and percussionist traversing African rhythms, Fourth World, electronic music, and spiritual jazz. With the help of some close friends, this six-song release of spontaneous sessions was entirely recorded in their homes in Manchester and Cumbria. The result is a superb piece of work that you can switch on and let play through from start to finish. That is to say that Balafon Sketches is the perfect place to leave your head for a while. 100% of profits from this release will be donated to Kids of Colour and Colours Youth Network. Great music and it’s for a great cause!



Soft Focus – Flowers

The good folks at San-Kofa Rhythm Records return with their first release of 2020 and it’s a blinder. On ‘Flowers’ multi-instrumentalist, Toon Janssens aka Soft Focus invites the listener to glide through an intimate and spontaneous ambient oasis. From Lo-Fi tape sounds, high, pitched bass sounds, harp loops and warm gratifying jazz chords layered with rhythmic drum percussions this record is worth your time and attention.



Stacey Juritz Ravens Keller – Like the Grass

This release was always going to be a bit special. With a line up featuring Johannesburg composer and bow player Cara Stacey, South African violinist and composer Galina Juritz, German harpist Antonia Ravens and Swiss guitarist and sonic explorer Beat Keller how could this be anything but awe-inspiring. The title track is an improvised piece inspired by the rivers of Swaziland and the green grass of Basel, Switzerland. Violin loops meet soft guitar picks, fidgety harp pings, mouthbow and lamellophones.  Elsewhere producers Object Agency and Tom Skinner join Stacey and Juritz pick apart their improvised works to arrange four new mosaics. 



Ishmael Cormack – The Sunday Project

The Sunday Project LP is a gorgeous collaboration between Ishmael Cormack and Thom Quentin Leigh. Each piece is an audio/visual representation of life’s simplicity. Overflowing with creative juices The Sunday Project blends an array of found sound with electro acoustics that gives attention to quiet hidden moments. Listen below and head here for several audiovisual treats. This will be on heavy rotation for the remainder of the year!



Sofie – Cult Survivor

For her debut album Vienna based musician and artist, Sofie delivers a collection of leftfield pop songs that chart an all-consuming period of her life. Written following an abrupt move to Vienna the twelve-song LP is inspired by chanson, heartbreak and life’s overwhelming decisions. Crammed full of melodic flair, picturesque songwriting and some super catchy instrumentation – what impresses us most about this album, is how it all sounds so effortless. Pulling inspiration from experimental musician Gary Wilson, Serge Gainsbourg, ’60s pop, and the songwriting and arrangements of Todd Rundgren the album is adventurous in nature but easily accessible like the best kinds of pop. Unmissable.



Naeem – Startisha

Baltimore-based musician Naeem unveils Startisha and his debut release under his given name fully deserves to be included among the year’s best album list. Taking its cues from a multitude of genres the man formerly known as Spank Rock flits effortlessly between R&B, electro-pop, gospel trap, house, and rap. This musical globe-trotting is hardly surprising given that he’s collaborated with the likes of the Avalanches, Bon Iver, Big Red Machine and Mouse on Mars. Although the new record is a deeply personal and introspective piece of work from Naeem there’s still plenty of room for contributions from an array of guest including Justin Vernon, Ryan Olson, Swamp Dogg, Velvet Negroni, Francis and the Lights, plus long-standing collaborators Amanda Blank and Micah James. Highly recommended.



Lord Tusk – Butterfly

The latest from Lord Tusk finds the eclectic producer and sound curator dabbling in the kind of dark, murky productions that have become his signature sound. The eleven tracks here are meditative, and quite slow-paced sonic experiments that move freely between a mixture of electronica, hip-hop, funk and left-field samples. Super unique, and totally engaging. Butterfly is one of Lord Tusk’s best works so far and that’s saying something as the rest of his output is pretty special.


CF Smith

Permeating your ears with good music.

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