Shed gets all misty-eyed for his heimat, ‘Oderbruch’ in a cannily textured and melancholy 5th album of signature spins on Detroit, UK, and Berlin rave and techno styles.
Reflecting on his roots in the now bucolic rural region on the German-Polish border which was once site of the 20th century’s most pivotal battles between the Nazis and Russian/Poliush forces, Shed renders a strong balance of romantic melancholy and rugged rhythmic impetus in a classic style that has served him well thus far since his ’Shedding The Past’ LP. One gets the impression that the issue is so personally sore and evocative that it’s really taken René Pawlowitz until now to properly reveal a background to his music, and it only emphasises a levity that perhaps was always there, but now has greater meaning.
Balancing hedonist escapism with ontological realism, the album arguably shapes up as Shed’s best since his pivotal debut. Highlights such as the sweeping breakbeat mini-symphonies ‘Menschen und Mauern’ and ‘Sterbende Alleen’ prove he’s still one of the best non-UK artists to dice with old skool breakbeat hardcore styles, while the mesh of textured string plucks and spacious, whirring percussion on ‘Die Oder’ point to a classily grown-up refinement of his style (not that it was ever childish, tbf) that brings the album’s theme to life in key with the sweetly atmospheric ambient couplet at the album’s core, and ‘Das Bruch’ neatly wraps it up with a mix of boisterous, experimental breakage and vintage synth voices that metaphorically sum up and cement the album’s Janus-faced aesthetic.
‘Venq Tolep’ is the radiantly charming 3rd LP by Robag Wruhme, whose solo releases and collaborations with the Wighnomy Brothers have defined a certain, playfully melodic strain of German tech-house since the start of this century
Over the finely rendered and woozy course of ‘Venq Tolep’, Wruhme reprises this much-loved style with signature deftness and a meticulous attention to production detail that unites his minimalist ingredients into a gentle, macro romanticism.
Pretty much picking up exactly where 2011’s ’Thora Vukk’ left us, Wruhme’s new album flows thru 11 parts on the 2LP, along with two songs on the bonus 7”, channelling the effervescent pastoralism of Harmonia & Eno and the warm dancefloor embrace of Pampa boss DJ Koze into a sweetly narrative-driven session laced with sublime moments in the likes of his soul cushioning ‘Iklahx’, the effortless grace of ‘Volta Copy’, and the breezy closing pages of ‘Ende #2’.
Carla dal Forno’s keenly anticipated 2nd album pays dividends on the promise of her debut, returning a gorgeous, stately suite of chamber pop that certifies her among the most vital songwriters in her field. Tipped to fans of Nico, HTRK, CS + Kreme, Dome, Julee Cruise...
Forming an exquisitely pruned bouquet of midnight wildflowers, ‘Look Up Sharp’ makes the shrugging pop of Carla’s debut LP ‘You Know What It’s Like’  feel almost naif by comparison. With her vocals cleanly poised high in the mix, as though throned in a wide, high-ceilinged room lofted above the city, Carla speaks to a sort of resigned state of mind, coolly coming to terms with a sense of impending doom that resonates with early post-punk concerns over nuclear war and how the old world informs the present.
It’s perhaps best seen as an exercise in snatching relief from the jaws of misery; an idea is conveyed in the plaintive reserve of her vocals and the urge of the album’s title, and arrestingly enunciated between the album’s most immediate standouts, from the driving gothic succour of opener ‘No Trace’, to the elegant self-realisation of ‘I’m Conscious’, leading her to similarly downbeat but not beat conclusions as HTRK in the smoky shuffle of ‘Took A Long Time’ and the quietly optimistic closer, ‘Push On.’
"The songs on the first album are the children. The songs on the second album are their parents. Ghosteen is a migrating spirit.’ - Nick Cave.
"The album was recorded in 2018 and early 2019 at Woodshed in Malibu, Nightbird in Los Angeles, Retreat in Brighton and Candybomber in Berlin. It was mixed by Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Lance Powell and Andrew Dominik at Conway in Los Angeles. Ghosteen is the seventeenth studio album from Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds, following 2016’s Skeleton Tree."
Preminent soundtrack composer and virtuoso cellist tactfully mirrors the mood of HBO’s ‘Chernobyl’ docudrama in her crushingly dark ‘Music From The TV Series’
One of this year’s must-see bits of telly, ‘Chernobyl’ tells the ill-fated tale of the Soviet nuclear power station, its catastrophic end, and its fallout - both nuclear and political - thru a ruck of gurning British actors and Stellan Skarsgård.
The most memorable part of the series, however, is Hildur Guðnadóttir’s soundtrack, where she clearly relishes the opportunity to limn the series' portentous and overcast feel with sounds ranging from Mika Vainio-esque Geiger counter triggers to more typical cinematic strokes of her cello, as epitomised in the spine-chilling theme. If you’ve seen he series and are not his site, you’re probably clicking buy already, but if you haven’t seen it, or just CBA, but still love dark Nordic ambience, it would be remiss of you to overlook this disc.
Eternal charmers ISAN investigate the melancholy inner life of their machines with a typically tender touch in a very user-friendly, gorgeous album of burbling electronica.
Arriving just over 20 years since their now-classic debut LP, ISAN’s new side finds that not much has changed in their self-contained world of gilded and exquisitely melodic small sound composition, and nobody’s complaining. Future-proofed by their feel for low-key melancholic ambiguity, they maintain a line of music that’s sweetly primed for warmth.
As ever with ISAN’s music the devil lies in the detail of their recordings. Ostensibly simple and stripped down, there are extremely fine layers of plasmic resonance that inhabit the background and periphery of their elegantly fluid and ribboning arrangements. With the sleight of a master hypnotist they subtly draw the ears in one direction while subliminally illuminating the layers surrounding it, leading the ear’s roving eye to wander the soundfield in slow saccades between their pointillist motifs and strange harmonic remainders.
The effect is just gorgeous, prompting very cute highlights between the kosmische lullaby of ‘Perlon’, and the nimbly star-stepping gait of ‘Ichthyosaur’, along with the crystalline shimmer of ’Strix Aluco’ and the AFXian bliss of ‘Ephemeroptera’, before waltzing you to bed with ‘Calliscope’ and their sighing title song.
This is Clipping’s transmutation of horrorcore, a purposefully absurdist sub-genre that flourished in the mid-90s.
"If some of its most notable pioneers included Brotha Lynch Hung and Gravediggaz, it also encompasses seminal works from the Geto Boys, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, and the near-entirety of classic Memphis cassette tape rap. The most subversive and experimental rap has often presented itself as an “alternative” to conventional sounds, but Clipping respectfully warp them into new constellations. There Existed an Addiction to Blood absorbs the hyper-violent horror tropes of the Murder Dog era, but re-imagines them in a new light: still darkly-tinted and somber, but in a weirder and more vivid hue. The album contains interludes with hissing recordings of demonic invasions, and guest appearances from Griselda Gang’s Benny the Butcher and Hypnotize Minds horror queen La Chat.
Other tracks feature contributions from noise music legends The Rita and Pedestrian Deposit. It all ends with “Piano Burning,” a performance of a piece written by the avant-garde composer Annea Lockwood. Yes, it is the sound of a piano burning. There Existed an Addiction to Blood fits neatly into the broader scope of the band’s career, which has seen them expand from insular experimentalists into globally recognized artists. Since the release of their first album in 2013, Diggs has won a Tony and a Grammy (both for his acting/rapping work as Thomas Jefferson and Marquis de Lafayette in Hamilton), as well as co-written and starred in 2018’s critically hailed Blindspotting, while Snipes and Hutson have scored numerous films and television shows. Clipping’s last album, the 2016 afro-futurist dystopian space opus Splendor & Misery was recently named one of Pitchfork’s Best Industrial Albums of All-Time.
Commissioned for an episode of This American Life, their 2017 single “The Deep” became the inspiration for a novel of the same name, written by Rivers Solomon and published by Saga Press. But their latest masterwork embodies what the band had been building towards — a work that finds them without peer. This is experimental hip-hop built to bang in a post-apocalyptic club bursting with radiation. It’s horrorcore that soaks up past blood and replants it into a different organism, undead but dangerously alive. It is a new sun, blindingly bright and built to burn your retinas."