Finally available again, Mika Vainio's Oleva was released in 2008 and ranks alongside his most contemplative work. It alternates between shades of the OG Panasonic blueprint and the explorative ambience perfected on 'Kantamoinen'. It also includes a rare Vainio cover version; an interpretation of Roger Waters’ 'Set the controls for the heart of the sun’.
Under the Ø moniker Vainio proffered some of the most singular and shining electronic music of the last three decades, starting in 1993 with a template-setting series of 12"s for his native Sahko imprint, and ending with 2013’s Konstellaatio. Situated somewhere outside Vainio’s best known ice cold minimalist vs hardware gnarrrr modes, ‘Oleva’ finds Vainio at his deepest, opening with the subs & shimmer of 'Unien Holvit’ and ending with the vapourised lament 'Muistetun Palaava Taajuus’. In between, there are more familiar bleep reductions (if u squint 'U-Bahn’ could almost sit perfectly on top of an Eski blueprint), ‘Mojave’ is pure windswept introspection, and the remarkable ‘Tasanko’ sounds like whatever you'd call the Finnish equivalent of porch-side blues, all slide guitar and a deep sense of unease.
Since his untimely passing, Vainio's extensive catalogue has been weighing heavily on the minds of an electronic music community that was in one way or another completely indebted to his singular sound. Re-evaluating ‘Oleva' with that in mind imbues it with a kind of poignancy that’s hard to describe - this is, after all, minimal music. And yet, it feels deeply moving. Somewhere behind the isolated vista on the cover was a man of few words who quietly set about imposing his own precise aesthetic onto the world. In his own time, and without compromise.
For our money the weirdest and most satisfying Regis record in a while, featuring stripped, slow, highly atmospheric & muscular productions that were recorded as part of that mad 'Let The Night Return’ feature film (regis, performing more or less alone in a 2000 year old, empty greek amphitheatre) here rendered in brilliant monochrome including contributions from Justin Broadrick, Ann Margaret Hogan and the music school chorus of Corfu. Trust, it’s a killer.
There’s something brutally bare and demented about this one, opening with the simmering choral drone ‘Epidaurus’ fizzing with whirring industrial components and rumbling subs, before 'Calling Down a Curse’ extends to terrifying dimensions with an intoxicating Ugandan Methods style percussive backbone and a slowed down voiceover by filmmaker Vasileios Trigkas, to our ears sounding like Burial as if rendered by Conny Plank as a kind of alternate version to his still entirely unclassifiable ‘Biomutanten’.
'The Blind Departing’ is a slow headmelter, all industrial synths and exposed percussion, every hi hat and kickdrum separated and pristine, like the toughest, most angular sort of bare-boned warehouse chugger slowed to a crawl. If you shut yr eyes you can almost imagine Alan Wilder and Martin Gore hitting sheets of metal with a mallet on that crazy old Depeche Mode footage that’s knocking about - played at half speed.
Perhaps best of all is the closing 'Temporary Thing’, featuring Regis, Anni Hogan and Justin Broadrick taking on a cover version of the Lou Reed classic, here extended to HD and sounding fucking ridiculously good. It's one of the most sought-after pieces of the Regis puzzle, finally available on vinyl here for the first time.
Emptyset's james ginzburg grapples with dense Celtic drone on this gargantuan deep listening tome. Think Catherine Christer-Hennix, Ellen Arkbro or Laraaji, but lost somewhere chilly in the Scottish highlands.
On 2018's 'six correlations', the Subtext boss and bass music veteran set his sights on Gaelic folk music, using electronic and acoustic instruments to reflect his heritage and build those sounds into something completely new. ginzburg revisits the concept on 'crystallise, a frozen eye', fleshing out his meditations using instruments such as the Appalachian dulcimer, the psaltry, the shruti box and a special drum custom made for Emptyset's "Borders" album.
These luscious acoustic sounds are arranged into rich orchestrations, elevated by ginzburg's engineering prowess, and widened with thick bass tones from his trusty Octave Cat synthesizer. That instrument might be best known around these parts for forming the memorable riff on Joker and Ginz's 'Purple City', but here it's used to create a low-end rumble that's more comparable to Sunn O))) or ELEH.
On opener 'light evaporates', gut-churning bass anchors a flutter of airy strings that combs across the pineal gland with pleasing ASMR softness. 'the eyes, behind' sounds like Laraaji's most off-world dulcimer experiments being stretched like a drum skin over a creaking wooden frame. ginzburg's music creates a magical universe that's out of time, part historical and part completely contemporary; 'a gate left open disappeared' is a prime example of this, with twinkling strings that sound like faery dust being blown into a collapsing wormhole.
Discombobulated acid, piquant minimalism, and freeform computer x synth noise graffiti from Finlay Shakespeare, a guess-again composer best known for his mutant pop on Editions Mego
Commissioned as the 100th release on the superlative Superpang label, ‘Zero Purism Process Control’ plays to the Bristol-based artist’s freakier side, taking the opportunity to coax properly irregular, asymmetric and unstable functions from a set-up of “outdated synthesiser equipment coupled with modern DSP all being controlled by computer based patches I made myself.” More specifically, we’re talking Buchla, CGS/Serge, Arp and stock Yamaha kit shaped via Intellijel, Harvestman and DigiTech digital processing, with hands on tweaks made and captured whilst recording. If you’re after his mix of straight and gurney pop, best think again, ‘cos this one’s much better filed next to the likes of Russell Haswell or Marcin Pietruszenwski.
Aye, fans of crafty earfloss will be in their element here, with the atom-spiting audness of ‘Acid Easel’ setting the tone for a supremely bendy set that, despite its abstract nature, does bear some more melodic sentiment on the likes of its Aleksi Perälä-like cascade of bleeps in ‘CrapDAC Overflow’ and the sore tang of ‘Spring Buffer’, and with some semblance of funk in the Autchrian angularity of ‘Window Flyer’. But it’s more dominated by urges to the inexplicable, as with the batshit plongs of ’2010 Could have Been’ and skull scrape textures of ‘Anti-Vax Sick My Knoedel.’
Delia Derbyshire’s legendary collage of recalled dreams and spectral drones is available on wax again!
‘The Dreams’ features the BBC Radiophonic Workshop pioneer setting appropriately stark and enigmatic electronics to a reel of recordings of people describing their dreams, made by Barry Bermange in 1964. In perfectly dreamy manner, we’re struggling to recollect exactly where we’ve heard this album before (perhaps a Teresa Winter DJ set? Maybe during a blink in our scrutty bedsit?) but either way it’s giving us thee very strangest déjà entendu right now.
In five movements Delia divvies the narrations into commonly recurring themes of ‘Running, ‘Land’, ‘Falling’, ‘Colour’, and ‘Sea’, which should all ring a bell with quite literally anyone who has fallen asleep and wondered what the fuck just happened there (provided you don’t smoke enough weed that you forget dreams instantly after waking, and live in a half-world of half-remembered recollections, that is). Even despite the fact all the voices are super plummy and Estuarial English, it’s probably fair to say we’ve all experienced those sensations at some point or another during our oneiric blips (hands-up for recurring dreams of wind tunnel drag and chromatic lushness), and this is one of those rare records that arguably speaks to each and every one of us, in its deeply unheimlich way.
The GRM are on their top game with a jaw dropping electro-acoustic wonder by Michèle Bokanowski, one time student at the ORTF Research Department under Pierre Schaeffer before becoming a computer music student of Eliane Radigue at the Faculté de Vincennes. Her soundtracks for husband Patrick Bokanowski’s films are little known but absolute pinnacles of the artform.
Bokanowski’s small but perfectly formed catalogue is here highlighted by Parisian institute the GRM who pair two works created by the french artist in 2008 and 2018 to bring us up to speed with her solo studio work and her sidestream of sound for film, specifically an award winning flick by her husband, Patrick Bokanowski. Despite studying since the ‘70s, and appearing on releases including Michel Chion’s ‘Requiem’ in 1978, this is the first time that her music crossed our ears, opening us up to a world of incredible composition - since the release of this set we've found ourselves totally snagged in her furling loops and brooding tonal depths, eager to encounter everything she’s worked on so far.
Bokanowski previously issued an overlooked side on Donato Epiro’s excellent Canti Magnetici in 2019, and a haul of CDs between the early ‘90s and 2014, but this LP effectively served to give scope to her practice between that period and now. Recorded in 2018, ‘Rhapsodia’ offers a remarkable first meeting with her music for many heads; ushering 17 minutes of gently scudding, windswept loops and laminal strings redolent of Wolfgang Voigt at his most stately, but tempered with her own, etheric temporality and fathomless space that leaves us in awe of the magick at play.
For contrast, ‘Battements solaires’ plays to her stream of soundtrack composition for her husband’s film of the same name (winner of Best Film Award, 20009 EXiS Festival, South Korea) and reveals a rare, exceedingly sensitive gift for gloaming, parallel dimensional atmospheres and sublime tension guided by supremely heightened intuition and ability to displace time.