‘Sign’ is Autechre’s first new album-album proper since ‘Elseq’ and contains some of their most emosh compositions in eons, perhaps since ‘Tri Repetae’.
Practically pocket-sized in comparison to their sprawling torrent of live material and radio recordings in recent years, ’Sign’ is a return to the sort of concision found circa ‘Exai’ and their earlier albums. Effectively they’ve gotten better to grips with their live set-up, and the hyper ideas found in their work-in-progress demonstrations on the five volume ‘Elseq’ and 8hrs of ‘NTS Sessions’ have been refined into moments of crystalline ambient baroque beauty and liquid-limbed swag on ’Sign’.
After their music has undergone what could be called a growth spurt in recent years, the acrid plasma of their complex, hyper-inorganic systems feels to congeal, create more intricate snaps across the album, from the lush cosmic collisions of ‘M4 Lema’, to the rhizomic arp weaving on ‘F7’, while refining their tendons and muscle in the gyrostep of ‘au14’ and ‘such.mefd2’. The anthropomorphisation of their synthesis accelerates with the album’s 2nd half with the elegiac catharsis of ‘Metaz form8’ displaying a greater emotional intelligence, while their shapeshifting synthesis grows semblances of glowing hair and teeth and skin in ’th red a’, and even a plaintive human heartache in the systolic thud and bloo pads of ‘psin AM’ that rawly bleeds out in the album’s future classic closer ‘r cazt’.
This LP was hinted at by Autechre as one of two albums ready for 2020, so we’ll take it this is their “U Ok Hun?” one to some possibly more hardcore turns in the future. Have it.
Stunning dream-pop/post-punk side from New Orleans’ MJ Guider, galvanising her shoegaze sound with industrial rhythms sounding out between Cocteau Twins, Tropic of Cancer and Seefeel in an amazing sophomore album for eternal dreamers at Kranky
Arriving four years after her ‘Precious Systems’, which benefitted beautifully from studio mixing rendered by Turk Dietrich and Josh Eustis ov NIN/Second Woman esteem, ’Sour Cherry Bell’ channels a more pronounced sense of southern Gothic mystique and late ‘80s industrial noir for Guider’s follow-up. We’re not certain who’s behind the mixing/mastering this time, but it certainly sounds like Second Woman’s spacious sensitivities come into play, perfectly suspending the vocals in endlessly diaphanous reverbs and giving special attention to the percussion and synths in an electronic/ambient-techno sense that’s seamlessly incorporated and feels like a subtle, but necessary update and mutation of its influences, rather than straightforward homage.
From the cavernous introduction of ‘Lowlight’ through to its supine closer ‘Petrechoria’, the album really comes alive with amplivication, tactfully enveloping the senses with sheets of processed guitar, or set against starkly booming drums in ‘The Steelyard’ and ‘FM Secure’ that conjure the steepest sense of dread, surely recalling Elizabeth Fraser and her amazing meeting with Seefeel’s Mark Clifford, while ‘Body Optics’ and ’Simulus’ feels like a gutted HTRK, and ‘Quiet Time’ could almost be mistaken for Tropic of Cancer, but that keening production is just something else.
Of all the Sakamoto/YMO reissues, this is the one we’ve waited for the most. Hidari Ude No Yume (Left Handed Dream) was released in 1981 and is here reissued for the first time in decades in its rare Japanese edition - beautifully remastered from the original tapes by Bernie Grundman and sounding better than we’ve ever heard it before, including a 2LP version with a bonus album of instrumental versions pressed on vinyl for the first time ever.
Recorded during a pivotal period for Sakamoto - around the same time as his stunning ‘Bamboo Houses’ with David Sylvian, and in between two classic YMO albums, 'Hidari Ude No Yume basically sounds quite unlike anything he made before or since its release, a sort of anthology of pop interiors made with hi-gloss synths and unexpected edits, from farm animals to simmering, percolated drum machines.
‘Hidari Ude No Yume’ was Sakamoto’s follow-up to the seminal ‘B-2 Unit’, and sees him smudge that album’s angularities into weirder shapes that are somehow both more experimental and oddly accessible. The newly available instrumental versions offer previously unheard perspectives on the remarkably detailed production; including an amazing tweaked-out and extended mix of ‘Relâché’, plus a beautifully slippery mix of the album’s best known highlight, ‘Kacha Kucha Nee’.
It’s a sound that has had countless imitators and acolytes; using the newest Japanese synths, traditional percussion, and his own vocals to create a sort of infectiously rhythmic future-primitivism recalling his work with David Sylvian in the Eastern electro orientation and new wave vocal affectations of ‘Living In The Dark’ and 'Saru To Yuki Gomi No Kodomo’, which also sound incredible in their brighter instrumentals, along with more avant jags into collaged 4th world electro-steppers on ‘Sarunoie,’ and a psychedelic masterwork in the strutting ace ‘The Garden Of Poppies.’
What a record.
Magnum opus-weight album from organist and electro-acoustic composer Anna von Hausswolff, the entire record consists of just one instrument - the pipe organ, and represents absolute liberation of the imagination. It's a masterwork of gothic classical beauty - a must check for fans of Kali Malone, Kara-Lis Coverdale.
‘All Thoughts Fly’ was recorded at Gothenburg’s Örgryte New Church and is heavily infused with the space’s atmospheric nuance, which renders the theatric richness of Anna’s compositions at their most billowing and melodramatic. As her 6th album, it’s also her most confident and strikingly original, following the slow steady procession of her sides for Kning Disk, Touch and City Slang with her most sepulchral and steepled refinement of black metal atmospheres and sacred dirges pronounced with an apocalyptic classical grandeur and iconoclastic experimental daring.
“Notes on the recording process: The organ on All Thoughts Fly is situated in Gothenburg and is a Swedish replica of the Arp Schnitger organ in Germany. It is the largest organ tuned in Quarter-comma meantone temperament in the world. With it’s four manuals, one pedal and 54 stops, it was built as part of a ten-year research project reconstructing 17th Century North German organ building craft. The tuning temperament is an important detail to note here, as it deeply affects the sound and tuning, and thus radically changed the process of creating this album. Anna speaks of a pleasant surprise during recording, the organ's ability to create beautiful "pitching" notes through its stops and air supply system. She remarks “We took advantage of this so most of the pitching sounds and notes that you hear on the album comes from the mechanics of this organ, effects made entirely acoustically." The organ was recorded with two room mics for atmosphere and two pairs of close mics placed inside the organ to capture nuances and detail for further organ sound processing by Filip Leyman in his studio.”