Literally brain-tickling sonic magick here from Berlin's Zenxen in the vein of Coil's unsurpassed "Time Machines" but with an added ASMR kick.
Yeah yeah we've heard enough ambient sleeping aids to put an elephant in a 40-year coma, but Benedikt Ellebrecht’s research into neural oscillations and sleep cycles at least adds a bit of science to the equation. Using sampling techniques to recreate alpha, theta and delta waves to model the brain sonically as it changes sleep states, his lulling drones provide a backdrop for further exploration with environmental recordings and eardrum-fluxing rhythmic tricks.
At its best, it sounds like pure abstract psychedelia, fusing a hallucinogenic weirdness with a kind of narrative storytelling and pitch-black ambience - managing to escape the trappings of a well-worn concept. On 'Universal Immanence', with its pitch-shifted voices and caressing sub bass, we’re in a DMT-induced rave flashback, while 'Immersing Void' feels like a VR cryo chamber with classic Chain Reaction gear for its soundtrack.
Chilly, temporally-unstable music.
Enigmatic, shapeshifting entity, Bassæ rejoins Glasgow’s Few Crackles with a 2nd Untitled number, this time on 12” after a sold-out 7” and the label’s cult ‘Riddims’ mixtape boxset.
Working in a shadowy space to our ears between Orphan Fairytale, Ectoplasm Girls and the mutant eastern European folk/electronic audities plucked out by Stroom; Bassæ’s 2nd release in no less full of intrigue and timeless allure. Continuing a track sequencing from the 7”, she glides from the dainty stepper ‘C’ to the gently febrile jaws harp twang and eerie waltz of ‘D’, and over to the matrix tone poem of ‘E’, and what sounds like a scrambled Toresch transmission in ‘F’ without ever dropping the veil of mystery for those who like to invest in a good ghost story.
With links to The Trilogy Tapes, Equiknoxx, 12th Isle and basically a shit tonne of foundational stuff in our orbit, Jon K and Elle Andrews finally mint their hugely promising new MAL imprint with an EP of proper dancefloor screwballs by Ausschuss; decimating UKG, dembow and industrial dancehall styles in a mutable volley of devilish club ballistics. If yr into owt by Beatrice Dillon, Equiknoxx, Shackleton to the Nervous Horizon crew - this one’s for you.
Berlin-based sound designer Linus Nicholson aka Ausschuss outlines the new label’s divergent co-ordinates with seven tracks that bend sound designer tekkers to structures that step in the cracks between styles, zig-zagging between crafty permutations of classic and up-to-the moment UK club music, and a world of influence from Angolan Kuduro to Latin dembow and Afro-Caribbean dub, or what is commonly known as hard drum.
Future-proofed by its taut but supple minimalism, ‘Cruise’ is an extension of Ausschuss’ previous rhythm and sound research found on 2018’s ‘Room 1’ mini-album with Milan’s Haunter Records. Ausschuss’ playful personality comes thru in its jostling drums and restless, meter-shifting nature, approaching each cut with a fine equilibrium of razor-sharp discipline and sense of mischief that sees him hop between styles and patterns with a joy-riding sense of fun.
Between the adroitly whirring 2-step syncopation of ‘Bunny Crutch’ and the drunken dembow swagger of ‘PSG 96’, he swangs the spare, enervated dubstep of its title track, which was produced post-rave in a corner of a Belgian warehouse, while the pealing horns of ‘Peak 5’ appears to summon the spirits of hardcore rave in a mutant sort of drill-tipped industrial dancehall, and the post-punk informed tresillo rhythms of ‘Beverly Services’ ricochets like a stray On-U Sound bullet that finds its target in 2021.
No mistake, it's rudely countercultural business, colouring outside the lines of convention in a way that defies categorisation.
Mesmerising solo debut of works for mallet percussion from Brooklyn’s Patricia Brennan, crossing our paths for first time and recalling very classy works from CC Hennix to Miles Davis, Terry Plumeri and Michael Ranta
You can colour us enchanted with ‘Maquishti’, which introduces the Mexican born, NYC-based vibraphonist, marimbist, improvisor and composer Brennan with a deliciously low-key, furtive hush that’s totally snagged our attentions. Stepping forth from her previous experience, performing with everyone from Meredith Monk to Mary Halvorsen and Marcus Gilmore, here she employs a fine range of melodious thunks in lissom, playfully inquisitive style that’s both trance-inducing and edged with a fluidly sublime, but unresolved tension in her unfurling lines of extended melodic thought.
Brennan is patently adept at articulating her own sonic language, which makes it kinda surprising that this is only her first solo record, but we can only hope it’s the first of many, as she appears keen to experiment with the limits of her technique with a golden sense of patience and discipline that really shows on ‘Maquishti’, from her extra subtle use of pitch-bending and bowing, to her ability to lure us into the most curious harmonic spaces, without ever feeling hurried or demanding.
A real pleasure, this.
Disarmingly haunted recordings of piano tuned to fit the Persian classical scale; without knowing what instrument was being played you'd likely mistake it for a santur, while the ferric recording process disintegrates the sound with the resonant intention of Basinski. Incredible, really.
Morteza Mahjubi developed a special tuning system to allow him to play the piano, a Western instrument, using Persian microtonal scaling. His technique was known as Piano-ye Sonnati, and allowed him to play music usually perfomed on tar, setar or santur on an instrument intended for a completely different use. A highly unusual sound that's rare even in Persia now, these recordings were made for radio between 1956 and Mahjubi's death in 1965 and are a testament to the composer and performer's skill.
If you're familiar with Persian classical music the compositions themselves won't surprise you, but the piano gives them a ghostly quality - they're familiar yet just unusual enough for the brain to jolt, in the best way. Incredible find this.