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King of Woolworths

Manchester-based musician and composer Jon Brooks got himself noticed the old-fashioned way: he peddled his wares. After creating his first experimental electronic recordings as King of Woolworths, Brooks posted them to a website, filled message boards with his name, and sent out CDRs to celebrities he hoped would become fans. Within a year, Mantra Recordings came calling, enabling the up-and-coming DJ to put out his first album, the highly inventive, stand-out LP Ming Star.

On this album, as on his handful of singles, King of Woolworths offers a constantly shape-shifting brand of adventurous headphone electronic that, despite its many obscure references and stylistic appropriations, quickly establishes a mood and tone all of its own. Like Boards of Canada, Woolworths is laid-back yet daring, mixing soft breakbeats, gauzy atmospheres, and quirky sound effects. Sometimes the music turns almost loungy in feel, as on "Bakerloo," with its perpetual xylophone loop and sampled bird noise, or "Kite Hill," with its string swells and jazzy bass line; at others, such as the "Stalker Song" and "To the Devil the Donut," frightening vocal samples, space age sounds, and thunderous rhythms turn the mood tense and borderline apocalyptic. For the most part, this is electronic music for listening, but there are still some great dance textures underpinning these sophisticated compositions. Ming Star is an incredibly promising debut.