Thursday, 20 January 2011
Beautifully designed electro-acoustic compositions from Erik Carlson aka Area C. A native of the creative hotbed around Providence, RI, Erik's records have previously appeared on a range of labels including Last Visible Dog, Students Of Decay and Slow Tapes, besides contributing to the groups Seeland, Joel Thibodeau's Death Vessel and Purple Ivy Shadows. With commendable credentials in place 'Map Of Circular Thought' is a heavily engaging set of micro-sound composition using an undisclosed amount of instrumentation manipulated from pre-recorded and live improvised forms. But, far from be… Read more
Wonderfully raucous and funked-up side of modernized Thai music from the '60s, also known as "Shadow music". Essentially these are the attempts of composer Phayong Mukda to marry Thai classical percussion to Latin and Big Band melodies of the time, also borrowing from western rock sounds like Buddy Holly's thrilling electric riffs. The effect is undeniably funky and utterly unlike anything we've come across before. A total must have for drum fiends, exotica freaks and lovers of captivating, otherworldly music.
"FInally, here's the long-awaited 4AD debut from Iron & Wine. It's been over three years since 'The Shepherd's Dog', a collection of songs that Sam (Beam) himself described as an attempt to replicate something in the vein of Tom Waits' 'Swordfishtrombones'. While Waits fans might gasp at such a notion, making the kind of records that had brought much of their early successes would have been all too easy and living up to folks expectations never sounded all that interesting to Sam. After all, the most fascinating journeys are the ones where you have no idea where you're headed, and t… Read more
"Almost a decade on from the first Rocket Girl compilation, this luxuriously-packaged double CD showcases the sonic esprit de corps of label founder Vinita Joshi – a twenty-seven track treasure-trove, brimming with the label’s most recent aural acquisitions. Launched in 1997, Rocket Girl has established itself as one of the UK’s premier independent labels and, while the music Joshi releases spans a variety of genres (everything from spacerock, to baroque pop, to plinky-plonky electronica), the one constant is Joshi’s unwavering ear for beauty. CD1 comprises fifteen o… Read more
Soul Possession (originally released in 1983 as Annie Anxiety) Annie's debut, and the album that clearly maps her transmogrification from Crass cohort and poet/agitator to dub diva. Co-released by Corpus Christi and On-U Sound, it's an unsettling master stroke created in a landscape nearly devoid of female role models. A harsh, disarming rhythmic landscape is splattered with grim and grisly poetry as Annie literally finds her voice and tells tales of violently unsuccessful love affairs, automatic mishaps, and brutal modern existence. Backed by members of Crass, African Head Charge, Flux of… Read more
Jackamo (originally released in 1987 as Annie Anxiety Bandez) It was just over three years before Annie's next album was fully formed. In that time she had become a fully patched member of the On-U Sound crew, and indeed had moved into the garden shed at Chez Sherwood. Jackamo is the result of Annie gravitating towards her earliest musical influences - Garland, Sinatra, Lenya, Piaf and of her collaboration with On-U's other feminine force - Kishi Yamamoto. Musical shapes were created by Yamamoto, Tackhead's Doug Wimbish, and African Head Charge's Bonjo Iyabinghi Noah. Jackamo is the sound of the … Read more
Short & Sweet (originally released in 1992 as Little Annie) The real truth is that Short & Sweet was not Annie's third album, it was her fourth. Snapped up by the major Atco after the critical acclaim surrounding Jackamo, Annie spent a lot of cash and a lot of time creating her masterwork - and then the label collapsed and buried her album in a grave of legal limbo. Annie did what all smart girls do - divorced her husband, fired her manager, and went back into the studio. Along with her faithful Tackhead compadres she set about crafting a pop album - but one which demanded that the musical… Read more
Saturday, 15 January 2011
Totally satisfying third album of blissful H-Pop from Matthew Mondanile's acclaimed Ducktails project. As many have come to realise, his stream of pop-conscious releases for Olde English Spelling Bee, Not Not Fun and Release The Bats tapped into a collective memory bank of gauzy, gum-soled melodies and ferric faded vocals with a timeless appeal. Over the course of those releases his songwriting has become more concise while never straying from the delicately executed lo-fi aesthetics or losing his knack for seductively woozy trance-outs. This simply means that 'Arcade Dynamics' … Read more
Thursday, 13 January 2011
Æthenor darken our doorstep with a fourth album of amazing doom expressions. The line up includes improv percussion master Steve Noble (Rip Rig & Panic), Sunn 0))) guitarist Stephen O'Malley, Kristoffer Rygg (Ulver) and Daniel O'Sullivan (Ulver, Guapo) "automatically" composing a morphing fusion of avant-metal, doom-jazz and nordic ambience with a stunning feel for gaseous expansions and contractions of abstract sound. Recorded at three gigs in Oslo in 2010, 'En Form For Blå' captures the essence of something incredibly rare and mysterious, always keeping back more than they reveal, but those … Read more
Editions Mego continue their quest for total world dominance with this blistering re-issue of Harry Pussy string-botherer Bill Orcutt's ground shaking 'A New Way To Pay Old Debts'. There is no doubt in my mind that this was one of the finest LPs to grace record store shelves in 2009, so a CD re-issue is more than warranted, and to bump it up with bonus material (both unreleased and from a prior 7"), well that's just spoiling us. For those of you unfamiliar with Orcutt, his instrument of choice is a 4-string acoustic guitar which he plays (and abuses) with a heady originality. Bas… Read more
Former Wighnomy Brother and micro-house legend Robag Wruhme serves his first commercially available mix CD for Kompakt with the deeply kinked 'wuppdeckmischmampflow'. Throughout the session he strikes a lovely balance of tender classicism and perpetual house flow, deploying the likes of Danny Norbury's 'Speak Memory' and the Ricardo Villalobos anthem 'Dexter' (multiple times) to lend the set an emotional ebb and flow that's really quite hypnotic. Like any DJ worth his anti-static dust wipe, at most points he's got at least two tracks in the mix, using the likes of Four Tet's… Read more
Debut full length from the Philadelphian bliss-pop project of Jon Barthmus. Once you've encountered the ecstasies of 'Nocturne...' it may come as something of surprise to discover that it was actually created before Animal Collective's 'Merriweather Post Pavillion', such is the distinct parallel between the two. Its boldly 21st century sound does, however, clearly reference Panda Bear, unmistakably so in the multi-tracked harmonic swell of 'Swallowed By The Night' and its distant, feathery layers of electronics. So, he's perhaps not a total one-off, but how many are t… Read more
We're relatively peaceful creatures here but we love a rousing war song when we've got some marching to do. Among these 26 tracks you'll find a number of surprisingly familiar tunes, not least Enrico Caruso's titular 'Over There', which is currently being abused on an infuriating TV ad, and obviously the Sousa's Band 'The Stars And Stripes Forever' version, while many others are just so catchy they feel familiar anyway. Whether you're a conscientious objector or a mercenary, you can't dent they had some reet sing-a-long classics back then.
Proper nostalgic nerve jangler from White Fence aka The Strange Boys and Darker My Love's Tim Presley. 'In Growing Faith' adds a realistic dose of the Hoffmans to his usual '60s proclivities, manifested in unpredictable pitch swoons, subtly disorientating, cross-eyed "what just happened?" mixing board trickery and acres of reverb. The most obvious comparison would be Ariel Pink, but he's really gone a step further than him with the deeply applied effects, getting right under and into the skin of each authentically-crafted song in order that nothing seems quite as it should. Ace!
*Packaged in a 26cm x 40cm, stamp numbered limited edition of 500 copies, full colour fold out poster portraying the musician, the work of local artist Omar Khoury, with liner notes in both Arabic and English* DJ Sniff (Takuro Mizuta Lippit) is a turntable musician working in the field of improvised and experimental music. His music focuses on the live reconstruction and narrativization of the phonographically amplified - the music, the sound, the technology and the past. He thus tries to reflect his influences from Hip-Hop and Free Jazz not in a stylistic manner but through an exploration of a … Read more
Thursday, 06 January 2011
One of post-punk's most potent and enduring bands display their relevance in 2011 with the typically considered new album 'Red Barked Tree'. Since their '77 classic 'Pink Flag' Wire have forged an uncompromising path, subtly evolving with each new record to arrive at this, an album confident enough to appear with no guest players and sound defiantly individual yet the same as they always have. Encompassing the nuanced lyricism of 'Please Take', the sprightly propulsion of 'Now Was', shimmering melodic romance in 'Adapt', the stentorian, rough-grained art-punk of 'Two Minutes' and minimal yet expansive 'Down To This', Wire are still offering strong work.
Thursday, 16 December 2010
You know something’s got to be a bit special if it’s got liner notes form the legendary Terry Riley. In fact Riley describes the two as having ‘unique genius’ and ‘virtuosity’ so yeah, they’re pretty good at what they do. Scodanibbio is a master of the contrabass and is described as having inspired John Cage and Stockhausen among others, while his partner in crime Thollem McDonas is a pianist who works on the only piano Debussy used in the last fourteen years of his life. Phew, I know it’s a lot of background information to soak in, but it kind of sets the scene for the recor… Read more
Second installment in the seminal series of intimate albums from Roedelius. 'Selbstportrait Vol.II' was originally released in 1980, a year after its predecessor and hasn't been reissued since. Arguably, this is some of the most sublime electronic music ever written, documenting a vintage solo streak from the Cluster and Harmonia co-founder. The heartbreakingly fragile 'Tee für die Geisha' and the pastoral bliss of 'Alle Jahre Wieder' are just two reasons why this album should be a part of any electronic music fiend's collection. Essential.
Thursday, 09 December 2010
*Second pressing with a new colour sleeve.* Mark Fell albums are like busses - you spend ages waiting for one, then two come at once. 'UL8' arrives just a couple of weeks after the fantastic 'Multistability' set for Raster Noton and, dare we say it, takes his sound even further into the outer reaches of glacial, rhythmic experimentation. With SND, Fell has tended to explore the hidden complexities of stripped rhythms, juxtaposing them with disorientating tones and digital noise - here this theme is taken to the next logical stage as his pounding percussive patterns transform slowly over their duration, f… Read more
Foster Manganyi's 'Ndzi Teke Riendzo' is Honest Jon's compelling follow up to the shocking 'Shangaan Electro' comp of a few months back. Recorded in 2008 and originally released on cassette, it's the work of a pastor from Giyani, Limpopo, South Africa, and shares much of the Shangaan sound's preference for, dry, skittering drum machines, melodic marimba percussion, whistles, and those unmistakably South African vocal harmonies. But there's one fundamental difference; the intentions behind the music. While the Nozinja productions of Shangaan are purpose built f… Read more
Closing an immense year for Honest Jon's, 35 precious selections from East Africa spanning the mid-1930s till the mid-1950s. Taking full advantage of unprecedented access to EMI's treasured archives in Hayes, Middlesex, HJ's drew from more than 400 sides in the HMV MA series: 10" 78rpm 'Native Records', a set of recordings made in Africa, pressed in the UK and sent back to Africa, aimed at native Africans rather than the white colonialists or increasing Indian communities, all with the intention of raising record and gramophone sales. … Read more
One look at the tracklisting for 'Bangs & Works' vol.1 is enough to give even the passing Footwork fan a touch of the jukin' jitters. Planet Mu's most comprehensive and substantial overview of Southside Chicago's younger brother to booty, aka Juke or Footwork, collates a good proportion of those deadly cuts you could only previously hear on youtube or if you were lucky enough, a p*ssy 128k mp3. Of course the quality of either format was never a hindrance to our enjoyment, but now properly pressed on CD and wax it all sounds heavy as hell (even if we do… Read more
Tectonic's most ambitious project comes to fruition; a double disc set of twelve exclusive and unreleased dubstep originals from the likes of Kode 9, Shackleton, Loefah, Mala, and King Midas Sound, plus a disc of mighty remixes from the legendary Scientist. The project is practically unprecedented in its scope, over 12 months in the making, meeting roots and future in visionary style. The previously unreleased and exclusive tracks are very much a showcase of 1st generation dubstep producers, with only a couple of notable exceptions. Generally these are produ… Read more
'Palace of Marvels (Queered Pitch)' follows 2007s 'Altars of Science' and continues veteran electronic experimenter Marcus Schmickler's quest to explore the outer reaches of extreme computer music. Apparently based on the ideas of the 1960s discovery of Roger Shepard's 'Shepard Tone' - the auditary illusion of a tone that continually rises or descends in pitch but ultimately never gets higher or lower - this is synthesizer music for the more open minds out there. Like looking at an optical illusion, 'Palace of Marvels' cannot be experienced as a passive experience, you… Read more
Zola Jesus is the alter ego of 21 year old Nika Roza Danilova, a former opera student whose gothic strain of epic cold wave synth pop is attracting a lot of attention. 'The Spoils' originally descended from some dark plain last year, setting a harrowing agenda of doom ridden, barely decipherable lyrics and emaciated drum machines somewhere between Siouxsie Sioux and Cold Cave. She cloaks her distanced howl in layers of gauzy, surface marked crackle, recalling the anchronistic diva in a Ballard short story who refuses to give up her stage to new technology. The effect is a windswept and romantic s… Read more
Killer 2CD compilation of previously vinyl-only dubstep heavyweights and future exclusives from Benga, Coki, LD, Distance, Cluekid, Skream, Mala, and Silkie (plus a sneaky track from Loefah). From their base in South London's Transition studios - THE go-to mastering and cutting house for dubstep - Ringo Records have been at the epicentre of the scene's seismic movements since 2006, releasing only the choicest cuts from the most pivotal players. Disc one includes seminal bass weight standards such as Distance & Skream's 'Wiseman', Coki's chokingly large 'Bass' and Skre… Read more
As most of you probably know, Icelandic orchestral poppers Amiina used to be part of Sigur Ros in another life and despite not having worked with the band for a few years now, the influence of the epic post-rockers is still often evident. That's not to say that Amiina's latest full-length 'Puzzles' sounds exactly like Sigur Ros, but there is a distinct similarity to their attempts at the cinematic, the sublime and the quiet-loud dynamic. 'Puzzle' is a beautiful listening experience from beginning to end, and what it lacks in originality it just about makes up for in sheer resolve. There is never a sense … Read more
If you didn’t get the idea from Breathe Owl Breathe’s hipper-than-thou moniker, or the title of their album, ‘Magic Central’ is a decidedly twee listening experience. The Michigan three-piece can hardly be said to sell themselves anything less than honestly, and through twelve tracks their third full-length does plenty to place their music on just the right side of cute. Somewhere between Sufjan Stevens’ highly orchestrated indie symphonies and Belle and Sebastian’s bed-wetter’s laments the band utilize the assured vocals of Micah Middaugh perfectly to tell their quirky tales. However… Read more
I’m sure when I was a wee lad shoegaze music was pretty much everything bad about the world. At least that’s what I was told by the knowledgeable indie press – music for girly men and pillow biters, wasn’t it? Well thank the lord times changed, because these days there’s no shortage of shimmery nu-gazers in the world, and they can now hold their heads up high rather than sidling around the back of their Marshall stacks. Laboratory Noise are one such gang of noisy nu-gazers, and while their sound might give more than just a cursory nod to My Bloody Valentine, Ride and Swerved… Read more
The basement pop sound that US bands have always been so good at has recently taken a turn for the mainstream. With chill-wave bands taking their place in the upper quarter of any ‘buzz’ list you’d care to stumble across, it’s hardly a surprise that a new one pops up seemingly every time you hit ‘refresh’ in firefox. Soars are one such band, and while they might be lumbered with this nu-wave of no-fi, they appear to draw just as much on the shimmering dream pop of 80s Britain than they do Animal Collective, Women and No-Age. Hints at Jesus and Mary Chain and the Cocteau Twins litter this tape-recorded, sub… Read more