Hilja is the sublimely half-there debut of dream pop from Glasgow-based Finnish artist Maria Rossi a.k.a. Cucina Povera. Taking her name from the southern Italian method of making-do in the kitchen, Cucina Povera works just as well to describe Rossi’s unusual, off-kilter mix of avant-garde abstraction, medieval-sounding folk and synthesised nocturnal atmospheres, which sounds to our lugs like one of the Fonal label’s folk sprites gone rogue in a parallel 4th world.
Strung out somewhere between Julia Holter’s enigmatic early work, the possessed vibes of Ectoplasm Girls, and a deeply strange episode of the Moomins, Rossi’s first release finds a fine balance of naif imagination and modestly confident vision, shaping a quietly hallucinatory and often ephemeral sound world where it’s dead easy to lose yourself within its maze of alternating physical and mental states.
Glasgow’s Night School, behind the release, aptly compare Maria’s style with magic realism, which offers a hand catch-all explanation for wtf is going on between the sylvan synths and lullaby-like glossolalia of Demetra and the worm holing in-conclusion of Totean, with results that recall Phew’s esoteric Japanese songcrasf in the multi-tracked vox of Kuparirumpu, or like one of the enchanted cuts from Felicia Atkinson’s Hand In Hand LP on Avainsana, whilst Huhuilu is a dance anthem from alternate, lushly inverse dimensions.
Gorgeous music - RIYL Phew, Julia Holter, Islaja, Tongues of Light, Félicia Atkinson
London’s ADA drop your RDA ov tweetronic pop with Traffic Island Sound’s All Aboard, starring the naif vocals of P.P. Rebel, backed with one radiophonic vignette and a proper psyche-pop charm.
The lysergic melt of All Aboard comes on like a long-lost ‘60s pop song dreamt by Stereolab’s children after a weekend training trip with a batch of hoffmans. The B-side songs both come from TIS’ debut album Maximal Electronics, where First Steps feels like the woozy aftermath as the same kids stumble upon a synth and attempt to riff on Mike Ratledge’s Riddles Of The Sphinx LP, then arrive at the spiked robotic sing-a-long of Not Coming.
Sweet like that metallic tangggg.
Klon Dump, an artist located in Berlin, known for his monthly Cashmere Radio interruptions and a collection of deft, pacey trax served on a double disc via A Colourful Storm last year, as well as recent excursions under a different alias, is now about to make his mark on NoCorner with a 32 minute and 19 second delivery of cold 'electro-acoustics...
Thomas Bush secretes olde en-gland folk plasma in ‘Old and Red’, a true eldritch beauty for his Men Scryfa label, who issued the earliest John T. Gast material. JTG fans will surely approve, as will lovers of early Eyeless in Gaza, and early transmissions from Hen Ogledd
“A strange and compulsive breadcrumb trail...a game of two halves, as well: the first rooted in the kind of digressive DIY synth-pop and faux-naive keyboard mood-pieces common to his work in RAP with Guy Gormley (check their Originals tape on Jolly Discs); the second heading deep into the woods and a timeless, unsettling, avant-folk abstraction. The opening one-two of 'Down Street' (Robert Wyatt in a crumpled Sergio shellsuit) and 'Champg' (Lucozade-crazed Casio highlife) offer only the subtlest intimation of the gloomier, more introspective fare to come: that descent begins with the near-gothic 'Flood' which, thanks not only to Bush's self-lacerating, semi-improvised vocalese but also the driving, minimal accompaniment of organ, drum-machine and mellifluous bass-work, feels very much like the beautiful bastard child of (early) Eyeless In Gaza.
Behind the shaggy-dog fishing anecdote (!) at the heart of 'Presence: Martin', sickly-sweet, unheimlich drones yield to lush, impressionistic solo guitar somewhere between Vini Reilly and Roy Montgomery...gets under your skin, that one. But the climax of this brilliant album is the rangy, undulating Kernowek death-folk epic 'Ripe' - that spidery guitar again, with Karin Bähler Lavér's otherworldly vocals and sparsest percussions all suspended in thick cobwebs of reverb and delay - like Entlang spun out into opioid oblivion, or an even MORE dub-demolished F ingers (do you think we might like it?). By contrast the emotionally ambiguous ambient of 'Requiem For Forest Glades' (think Call Back The Giants, or Another Green Eno with a blindfold on and one hand tied behind his back) feels like a veritable hug in a mug. - Low Company”
John T Gast and MC Boli operate at the apex of their esoteric powers on ‘Lighthouse’ for 5 Gate Temple, following Young Druid’s addictive début with an expansive, immersive suite highlighting unique intersections of new age ambient, jazz, avant-classical and arcane folk music
As Gossiwor, Gast and Boli share a remarkably intuitive mutualism on Lighthouse. They may draw from a similar pool of references to many other artists working within the ambient zeitgeist, but smartly manage to imbue their works with a sense of magick realism, rather than the smell of stale bedrooms and cheese.
Over the course of 73 minutes and 9 songs, some of them stretching over 14 minutes, they properly get into the vibe, alchemising a fascinating new alloy of their respective styles which refuses to be reverse engineered by listeners. The results are patently their own, coolly scrolling from something like Jani Christou in dub on Domestic Saga 1, to raindance ambient in Oceana Pt.2, and a time-stopping ambient regression to underwater futures with Lighthouse, and the surreal peal of Ava Maria.
London’s Low Company prize this exquisite side of home-brewed electronic meditations from the ‘90s Scandinavian underground for a new vinyl edition
Arriving with minimal background info, the music speaks directly to lonely, heavy-lidded experiences, articulating late night feels in a series of mumbling, nicotine-stained electronic meditations.
It feels kinda like a bluer adjunct to the sort of obscurity you might expect on Spencer Clark’s Pacific City Sound Visions, or the wooziness of RAMZi’s meandering new age, but with Pacific breezes swapped out for a Baltic chill and a serotonin-depleted lack of lustre that’s begging us to reach for the 5-HTP right now.
Moody spods and bedsit dreamers, you know the vibe.