Following up their acclaimed debut, Thought For Food, The Lemon of Pink was the album that cemented the Books as a pioneering musical force. It would become their biggest-selling album and still stands as perhaps the most beloved album in the Books' brilliant catalog.
"As with the recently reissued Thought For Food, The Lemon of Pink is repackaged with dazzling new artwork and expanded toinclude lyrics for every song for the first time ever. Carefully and thoughtfully remastered from the original mixes by Zammuto at his new studio outside his home in Vermont, The Lemon of Pinknow boasts a warmth and clarity that surprisingly reveals an increased harmonic depth."
Rugged, probing electro-acoustic abstraction best located somewhere between Emptyset, Bellows, and Gottfried Michael Koenig
“Rubisco is the second full length album from Donato Epiro. Following his debut album Fiume Nero (2014), the young Italian composer has moved from the raw primordial chaos that characterised his first work to develop a reflection on how a hypothetical absence of humans and biological life could modify industrialized and civilized spaces.
Using field recordings, obscure samples and FM synthesis, Epiro draws his abstract landscapes as a series of overexposed and imprecise pictures made by concrete and organic architectures, amorphous rhythmic patterns, repetitive sequences broken by oblique elements that seems looking for a new active role into the ecosystem.
Exploring communication and transitions between the inanimate side of the existing and the living one, the sound of Rubisco seems to be pulled out from the walls of an abandoned building or captured while it is lying on the ground of empty spaces or fluctuating like fine dust through the light. It leads the listener into a form of "after rave" limbo, or a personal hiding place, where the head projects only the image of the sounds you've listened to during your human experience.
The result is a record that plays with taut minimal touches, inspired by the work of Egisto Macchi and Angus MacLise, alongside the sonic delirium recently dreamed up by the likes of Demdike Stare and Fis.”
The outstanding maiden release on Pete Swanson’s Freedom To Spend label is a reissue of Michele Mercure’s sublime obscurity Eye Chant (1986), which was originally issued under her then married name, Michele Musser, and has since become a proper collectors item regarded for its patently otherworldly blend of minimal wave, new age ambient and creamy, krauty electro boogie.
In the early ‘80s, with a background working as a cell animator, and hailing from a mid-sized industrial town, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA, Michele was embedded in the the town’s visual arts community but suffered for lack of decent music - a familiar whinge from anyone who grew up outside of the big cities - so she made her own wickedly inventive and expressive sound using synths, effects, tape loops, vocals.
Her visual and musical worlds first gelled in a 1983 soundtrack for Samuel Beckett’s Waiting For Godot, followed by three self-released cassettes which built on that aesthetic, creating a richly synaesthetic style of highly visual yet mostly minimalist music.
Released a few years later, Eye Chant was the pinnacle of her output, and is now revealed to the world at large, thirty years later. From the rim we’re sent skyward into the waltzing orbit of Tour De France (Day 2) and kissed with the budget Jean Michel-Jarre vibes of In The Air, handing over to the wistfully primitivist incantation, The Intruder and hitting lightspeed with her soaring soundtrack for a performance art piece, 100% Bridal Illusion, where she calves from ecstatic highs into a scene of tumbling 606 drum machine, seagulls and nods to squabbly free jazz.
The others also live up to her name, almost imperceptibly shifting from glowing microtones to alien noise and slippery, lounging electro fusion with Dream Clock, and then like some salty-curdled ambient stroke in Proteus and the Marlin that uncannily reminds us of mid ‘90s Rephlex charms - think super melodic AFX or Cylob - before melting all over the ‘floor with a wigged-out waltz called Too Much primed for the back room at One Eyed Jack’s.
It’s easy to hear, this is strongly tipped to fans of Julia Holter, Suzanne Ciani, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, AFX, Irdial Discs.
"Fire Records re-press Neutral Milk Hotel’s explosive 1996 debut ‘On Avery Island’. Jeff Mangum's songs are cryptic and crazed, his ideas fast and furious, and together they force the home-recording concept out of the basement and into a brave new world, a fuzzy masterpiece of experimental lo-fi recording. Full of rapid-fire wordplay with true and heartfelt experimentation, both ambitious and eclectic, it's not hard to see why this has been such an influential album. Part of the fabled Elephant 6 collective, Neutral Milk Hotel won over many a music critic with this cult classic. The band are recognized as one of the most influential alternative acts to come out of the mid-90s and sowed the seeds for everything from anti-folk to the likes of Arcade Fire, Caribou and even Franz Ferdinand."
White Materialists Galcher Lustwerk and Alvin Aronson draw us in on further adventures in Studio OST.
Oddly overlooked in the 2016 EOY list blizzard, Galcher Lustwerk and Alvin Aronson’s Studio OST debut was a promising collection that proved the White Material pair could turn their hands to a broad range of styles.
Reconvening in the downsized 12” format, Studio OST smartly turn out a quartet of productions geared towards the more inventive selectors. The solemn washes in STL-style dub house wiggler Eventide will probably hook anyone still getting residual highs off that 100% Galcher mix for BUTW, with the effect magnified on the accompanying Beatless mix.
The snarky synths on Ascension lend a certain jaggedness to an otherwise inoffensive drum track, which sort of makes the subsequent Drums version a bit redundant….
Charmingly frivolous Belgian soundtrack for contemporary dance and children’s theatre. File beside your copies of Alain Pierre’s jan Zonder Vrees OST, and Graeme Miller & Steve Shill’s score for The Moomins
“Considering Elko Blijweert's been active in the Belgian music scene for about fifteen years now, it comes as quite a surprise that "I Bambini Di Basilisco"is only his first ever solo album. Known mainly for his virtuoso yet ever idiosyncratic guitar playing, Elko B. treats the listener to much more than just that. With the exception of the heavily guitar-driven western pastiche "Cochon Torrero", the emphasis here lies on dark Carpenteresque synthesizer sounds as well as jolly child-friendly melodies.
The twelve pleasantly concise songs, mainly based on compositions Blijweert made as soundtrack material for contemporary dance theatre and children's puppet theatre, beautifully blend together into a whole as the listener is presented with a unique glimpse inside the wide-ranging imagery that is Elko B.'s ever-expanding musical world.”
The wayfaring Cómeme leader heads to Africa for this link up with Johannesburg’s Spoko.
Cómeme co-opt Bacardi House into their worldwide panoply of ‘loony beats’ as founder Matias Aguayo runs through a killer six-track grip of stunted, blunted Kwaito jams with the masterful DJ Spoko. Recorded in Spoko’s Joburg studio over the course of one long night, Dirty Dancing finds Aguayo largely doing his best Bez impression, leaving the Bacardi House originator free to deliver a percussive masterclass.
The title track is a less than subtle, but wholly satisfying, reminder Spoko was the percussive mastermind behind Mujava’s Township Funk, with Aguayo’s input largely shouting “Watch what you doing!” over the top. Ghost of Dombolo is a relentless slab of Kwaito meets UKF, whilst an Elbee Bad acapella inspires Spoko and Aguayo to craft a Bacardi House homage to the classic New York sound on Something about the Groove.
You can’t have a Cómeme release without a few trippy drum tracks and the rest of Dirty Dancing fills that quota with the zippy Taxi Rank a clattering, free-wheeling hip tugger dominated by a killer Kalimba solo.
Music From Memory’s final revelation of 2016 highlights the late ‘80s avant-garde electro-jazz of Wuppertal, Germany’s Becker, Stegmann and Zeumer trio, with four sterling selections from their one-off LP, Ich Träume So Leise Von Dir (ITM Records, 1987) reissued for the first time.
Conceived as part of the Wuppertal cultural department’s commemorative programme dedicated to Jewish poet and bohemian Else Lasker-Schüler, who became a leading exponent of expressionism and avant-garde poetry in Germany before fleeing the country in 1937, Ich Träume So Leise Von Dir found the instrumental duo of Heinz Becker and Karl-Heinz Stegmann combining experimental, yet heavily funked-up electro-jazz and ambient arrangements with readings of Lasker-Schüler’s poetry by actress Isabel Zeumer.
Thanks to the flawlessly skilled chops of Becker & Stegman and Zeumer’s enchanting delivery, the results are unmistakably debonaire and sophisticated, strutting up with the tightly wound electro-funk and flighty sax of Mein Tanzlied like some long lost jam between Herbie Hancock and Arthur Russell, before heading out into lushest, Hassell-esque new age scenes with Dir, and returning to the ‘floor with the greazy boogie swerve of Der Schnupfen, and unwinding into the smoky ambience of Abends.
Satisfaction practically guaranteed.
Golden Püdel's Richard Von Der Schulenburg provides the V I S label with another ace, a gorgeous but brooding LP that comes highly recommended if you're into Roedelius, GAS, Cluster, Suum Cuique...
The spirit of German Romanticism is strong on this one, offering a timeless addition to the classic cache of Teutonic synth expressionism explored by everyone from the likes of Hans-Joachim Roedelius in the late ‘70s to Wolfgang Voigt’s GAS in the ‘90s or STL in ‘00s, and which has become so indelible from swathes of electronic music out of that country ever since.
However, this being 2017, even a country hike can go darkside, as Wanderung durch Wald und Flur subtly spells out in its transition from breezy melodies and refreshingly drizzly atmospheres to wistfully bittersweet on Sommerabend am Boberger See am 28.08.2014, to the distinctly crepuscular ambience and phosphorescing tone of Dorfbewhoner in Elmshorn am 30.07.2013, at the albums border.
It’s deeply enchanting music without the cloying frills that the term pastoral music may imply, leaving enough grit under the fingernails and mud clinging to the boots to push your imagination into new realms.
Inga Copeland collaborator John T Gast’s narcotically seductive Invocations is (as far as we’re aware) the 2nd Blowing Up The Workshop session (Project 34, 2014) to see a welcome vinyl release, following in the footsteps of that much-loved 100% Galcher Lustwerk set.
Arriving in the wake of his Sisters of Control 7” with Inga Copeland, this one is a real melter from run in to run out, nourishing last night listening needs with a sublime shadow play of gauzy pads, ambient motifs and submerged rhythms strewn with miasmic R&B/rave vox.
One of the most impressive facets of Gast’s music is the patient sleight of hand and attention to tone, managing to gel a range of tempos and ostensibly disparate strains under the same, personalised street-lamp glow with a sense of mise-en-scene and lighting that’s practically Lynchian in effect, and almost unmistakably eldritch with it, too.
Of course, you can fully make up your mind whether you like the record by checking his mix online before purchase, but if you’re feeling trigger happy and willing to get lead down an unknown, yet strangely familiar path, we’d recommend buying this blind for optimal returns. It’s a real bewt.
Arvo Pärt has become something of a yardstick by which all modern classical should be measured, and 'Alina' is arguably his most beautiful piece of work. If you're into Max Richter, Johann Johannsson, Nils Frahm etc - this is perhaps the single most influential piece of music on any of those artists and has come to define the contemporary genre. When you realise this music was composed between 1976 and 1978, it's evident just how ahead of the game Pärt has really been.
'Spiegel Im Spiegel' and 'Fur Alina' have both been used in countless films, the former being perhaps one of the most beautiful pieces of contemporary classical music compoised in the last half-century, rendered with nothing more than piano and violin, captured on this definitive ECM version from 1999 featuring Vladimir Spivakov, Sergej Bezrodny, Dietmar Schwalke and Alexander Malter providing alternate versions.
Pärt's ability to distil so much emotion and spirituality into his work really is quite hard to fathom, regardless of how many times you've heard these magical pieces. If you're new to Pärt, this is really the best place to start.
Legit reissue taken from analogue masters, Coil's sorely coveted Astral Disaster (1998) for Gary Ramon’s Prescription (UK) is returned to circulation on its original format. 2nd hand copies now trade for at least a K, just sayin’…
At the behest of Ramon - who is absorbed into a line-up revolving Jhon Balance, Peter Christopherson, Drew McDowall, and Thighpaulsandra - over two days at Samhain 1998, Coil descended into the bowels of his Sun Dial studios, surrounded by manacles and chains under the level of the River Thames in the Ancient Borough of Southwark, to commit what would become one of their most possessing sides.
Astral Disaster was the result: two correlating hemispheres channelling, meditative, eastern raga drone with sage-like poetry and electro-acoustic phantasmagorias, projecting a plasmic miasma of pharmaceutical shimmer and surreality that’s pretty much arch Coil.
If there’s any one big reason you need it, though, that would be the amazing B-side, The Mothership and The Fatherland, framing creaking wooden drums and the gibber-chin shivers of swarming, translucent studio duppies in a diaphanous soundfield of freefall ambient atmospheres - basically the sound of ketamine in the ‘90s.
Makes us want to melt. Massive recommendation!
Ripe little oddities right here from San Fran’s Ben R. Brown, self-released on Be Right Back (see what he did there?!) after a coupla beaky rattering bams for Drvg Cvltvre’s New York Haunted label.
The mood this time is weirder, furtive; working to the west of Jamal Moss and east of Lowlands new beat and EBM with the sleazy jack of Island, whereas Slomo really packs a punch in its recoiling low end, which is nimbly offset with corkscrewing drums like some grubby Beau Wanzer rocker.
Lara Wehbie a.k.a. Blursome makes her Hotflush debut with a set of six broadly spacious yet crisply detailed techno mutations following the inclusion of her Night cut on Scuba’s Fabric 90 mix and sampler 12”.
Advisable to check the sunken R&B club bump of Time for the dankest sensations, or the quickstepping Me for some proper ‘floor momentum.
Jesus loves the Acid. So does Matrixxman: the follow-up to his Rhythms for Dekmantel rails four wobbly lines of Roland’s finest between the brain-burrowing wiggler, Arrival; a brooding jacker named Bad Acid; the warehouse recoil of I Am Matrix; and the nasal drip of Rites.
Bleak, acrid chamber noise electronics from Paris-based Mondkopf, resonating strongly with the reverberant recordings of Alessandro Cortini or Joachim Nordwall, but better compared with the former for its swelling, emotive grip.