Duppy Gun Produtions and Bokeh Versions light up summer ’18 with 50 minutes of dancehall crossfire, with vocals by Sikka Rymes, I Jahbar, Early One, Lyrical Wiz, Sniper, Buddy Don and Lopo.
With X-amounta mutant ammo between their barrels, both sides keep it bent, hazy and alien AF with mad bashment grime hybrids, slowed down specials and unnamed styles. We’d wager it’s best received after a few zoots and maybe a Guiness Export or three for optimal smudge...
Boy Harsher’s début LP Yr Body Is Nothing is one of the strongest admissions to the recent wave of EBM and darkwave influenced synth-pop. This is a new edition pressing, following self-released version and a DKA Records release.
Revolving around cinema fiends Augustus Muller and Jae Matthews, Boy Harsher really came into their own on first album Yr Body Is Nothing , which paved the way for the Country Girl EP which landed to resounding cult acclaim on Ascetic House in 2017.
On Yr Body Is Nothing they work the barest essentials into slick (but not too slick) songs specially balanced with a classic mix of dancefloor pressure and emotive pathos, generating strong club potential in the grim burn of Suitor, the tight swerve of Morphine, and the pneumatic strut of Deep Well, but it works even better as an album end to end.
Marc Richter (Black To Comm) whips YouTube samples into a psychedelic wormhole of ideas on his outstanding 2nd LP as Jemh Circs; (untitled) Kingdom. Landing somewhere between early James Ferraro and Spencer Clarke, one of Merzbow’s more colourful whirligigs, and an asylum fitted with walls of TV screens playing every YouTube video at once, it’s not for the casual listener, but those who like their musical data dense with compressed information will be left reeling by the end of the record.
"In contrast to Black To Comm's analog tape- and vinyl-based sound, in Jemh Circs he works with digital sources by primarily sampling modern pop music (and various other oddities) on YouTube (et al.) and sending chunks of it through a variety of arcane transformations and mutations. Using similar esoteric methods as on his 2016 self-titled debut album (CELL 001LP) but with very different results the record deconstructs the hypermodern sound of pop music with a post punk attitude, energy, and primitivism.
Richter's combining disparate elements that shouldn't really work together but somehow all the chaos is making strange sense creating a collection of oddly diverging sonic vignettes with a surreal and anarchic spirit. This is music deeply rooted in the present but still difficult to pinpoint to a certain year or style. (Untitled) Kingdom converts a seemingly one-dimensional concept into a complex puzzle of ideas, sounds, and narratives; completely assimilating the original sources and transforming them into novel entities with an unexpected melodic and rhythmic quality.”
Sim Hutchins crosses paths with Local Action for a record about “the shit side of rave” which is all too often unacknowledged in favour of its putative utopian aspects. It’s a smartly up-the-second take on hauntological themes, inverting the sonic ambient ephemera of electronic presets to locate a warped, inverted soul in the serotonin-depleted, heart thudding loneliness of Baths Salts in the Saccharin and the dazed, eviscerated hulk of Dumped By Pirate Radio that should resonate broadly and strongly with listeners of the same, dazed generation.
"Described by Sim as “a nostalgic record devoid of nostalgia”, Clubeighteen2thirty draws from every aspect of Sim’s clubbed out youth - positive and negative. Although the record at points “remembers things fondly and unrealistically”, it’s also a realistic reflection on the shit side of rave: mediating on the mistakes of youth, losing friends to car accidents and drug abuse, existential crises and clubbing alone miles from home.
In Sim’s words, this album - which utilises badly-aged sound fonts and plastic digital keyboard sounds, often drowned in interference, digital fx, harmonic distortion and samples in remembrance of lost people - “alludes to the fabrication of truths to create a sense of hope and optimism when there is little to be found at present ... there's an industry built on glorifying the past and it is a multimillion pound cliché making people richer every day. This is my enthusiasm for certain styles collapsing in on themselves with me conducting and orchestrating their demise.”
Lee Gamble knocks out two 'floor-ruling edits and exclusives on a surprise PAN white label drop.
Up top: his bucking, aerobic edit of 'Steelhouse Chaconne', reworked in honour of Brumland as 'B23 Steelhouse' with lush drops, screwed vox and slamming, modulated kicks at 130mph-thru-eccie fog momentum - at once pelting but floating.
Down below: 'Motor System' is extracted from the 'Koch' album and extended for your 'floor's satisfaction with tricksy, on-the-fly drum machine fills and filter f**kery.
Both sound much louder and dynamic than the album cuts - primed for the DJs, dancers and big soundsystems.
Sugai Ken keeps us rapt to his genuinely idiosyncratic sound with Tele-N-Tech-Da; a playfully psychedelic computer music suite inspired by ancient Japanese culture and customs.
Like his trifecta of aces released by EM Records, Lullabies For Insomniacs and Rvng Intl since 2016, this album is perceptibly trippy no matter which way you approach it.
Tele-N-Tech-Da appears to be Ken’s attempt at broadening and inhabiting the schism between history/tradition and a form of pure artistic expression unhindered by the weight of historicity. To give some grasp of the results, the artist likes to think of them as “…like an imaginary radio play”, and we’d expand that to an imaginary radio play from another dimension, heard on a cranky DAB with a life of its own, thanks to the album’s brilliantly freeform, abstract logic.
Finding a perfect home on Discrepant, lodged amid Pierre Bastien and Kink Gong records, Ken really takes the opportunity to cut loose, at times sounding like esoteric Coil experiments, and at others like a Sublime Frequencies transmission from parallel planes, ultimately leaving us baffled but ready to try and navigate a way back thru it all.
Elysia Crampton weaves a complex web of ideas and references to Latinx culture, queerness and Aymara history in their eponymous 3rd album proper. Entirely instrumental as usual, the sample-heavy arrangements speak to a complexity of identity and in turn elicit an impenetrable density of feelings as only she can right now. If you’re into non-mainstream dance music, or have a conscious ear on the moves of NON, you need to check this one.
Still, few artists mange to be so explicit yet beguiling as Elysia Crampton.
A Piece Of Beyond is the 2nd DJ Bone album and follows quick at the heels of his Good To Be Differ-Ent [DBA, 2017] LP as Differ-Ent. It touches down just over 20 years since DJ Bone first made his name in Detroit, and subsequently Europe, as one of the most badass DJs on the circuit, now with his trademark production style of hard, tracky and soulful bombs to boot.
Where his Differ-Ent album twisted between electro and techno, this one is strictly a showcase of Bone’s pumping Detroit techno-house style with some electro to taste. It’s exactly the sort of gear you’d expect him to deploy in one of his tearing sessions, teeing up some strong highlights for dancers and other DJs between the jazzy beauty R.I.P. featuring an archival Aaron Carl vocal, thru to the peaktime chord-rider Tell The Story, his soaring beauty All My Heart, and the powerful breakbeat techno momentum of The Chase.
Eomac goes in like a possessed Cut Hands on Reconnect
Committing a rush of frenetic percussion, percussion, and more percussion in patterns intersecting footwork, traditional tribal rituals and hardcore techno.
We’ll keep it simple: if you’re into Nkisi, Cut Hands, Xth Réflexion - you need to check this one out.
The first Grouper album in 4 years finds Liz Harris stripped of FX, pairing her vocals with skeletal piano gestures in beautifully pregnant space. For anyone familiar with the miasmic fuzz of Grouper’s previous releases, the relative clarity is quietly shocking in effect, revealing her songs and sound at their most vulnerable, and, in the process, locating a newfound strength in fragility.
Grid Of Points was recorded in Wyoming shortly after Liz finished recording Grouper’s Ruins out in Aljezur, Portugal, and on the most immediate level it seems to describe the difference in recording locations between windswept Atlantic coastline and sparse, landlocked insularity. The seven songs were written over a week and a half, with the process curtailed by a bout of what she describes as “high fever”. What remains forms some of Grouper’s most legible lyrics and intimate instrumentation, with each piece framed by stark, unprocessed space working in the same role usually occupied by her billowing sheets of harmonic distortion.
Untreated and unfiltered, Grouper's voice rings plaintively clear, sometimes layered in ephemeral harmonies or curling off with jazz-soul wise inflections shadowed by modest piano phrasing in a crepuscular style that links back to all her previous work. Yet, in places the clarity is such that it almost feels like we the listeners have just been hearing her songs with clogged ears for the past decade and longer.
Ultimately, these results perhaps most acutely resonate with the etymology of Liz’s moniker - ‘Grouper’ as in member of a Fourth Way commune, The Group, which was inspired by the philosophy of George Gurdjieff, whose mystic meditations surely linger in the magick of Grid Of Points.
Brock Van Wey (bvdub) revives his cult Earth House Hold alias for A Strangely Isolated Place, with his slow-burning, House-music-inspired, long play, ‘Never Forget Us’.
"A Strangely Isolated Place, and label founder, Ryan Griffin has long sought a partnership with Brock, with many believing it may one day materialize in his suitably infamous ambient output known on labels such as n5MD, Glacial Movements and Quietus. But after their relationship grew, Brock and Ryan realized a mutual respect and passion for the classic sounds of house music - the roots and inspiration of Brock's Earth House Hold project.
Whilst followers of bvdub and ASIP may be surprised to hear the two teaming up on this specific alias of Brock's, ’Never Forget Us’ opens us to a new expression of ambient-inspired music, pushing the many boundaries, forms and genres it can evolve into or indeed, evolve from.
A noticeably deeper and more evocative evolution from the first Earth House Hold release, Brock has built an album focused on progression, starting with deep, slow-churning ambient cuts, gradually introducing House elements as the album evolves. Using only instruments and sounds from the early House-era, as is the ethos of Earth House Hold, Brock builds an effortlessly sequenced collage of deep, mystifying, and emotional pieces, combining his signature ghostly vocals with rumbling off-kilter bass-lines and slowly rising atmospheres.
As with many of Brock’s productions, ’Never Forget Us’ is an ode to some of the many memories and experiences that helped influence the producer he is today. From his trademark ambient epics, to his unique brand of ambient house, each reflecting his history, forever lingering in his years DJ-ing ambient chill rooms and deep house basement affairs beginning nearly thirty years ago . With the return of Earth House Hold, the story is told not only through the reflective nature of the music, or the collage of original pin-hole photographs taken by his good friend Mamii, but the mutual appreciation for a sound from years gone-by, brought to life again, yet living its own life, in a way only someone like Brock could.”
EBM specialists Phase Fatale & Silent Servant put their considerable combined nous into these lean and deadly effective prongs for the first release on Bite.
Plastic Motion is a killer, hot-wired and melodic sequencer workout with an electrifying burn; Confess feels a little more late ‘80s/early ‘90s, with charred guitars and riveting snares; Tausend Heilige is just full blooded, contemporary EBM-techno proper.
Fluxion seamlessly meshes dub techno and film score styles in a sublime 7th studio album, Ripple Effect, dispatched via his Vibrant Music label in the wake of two sublime Transformations excursions with Deepchord. Unfurling a glacial sequence of noirish vibes and barely-there electronic inference evoking classic cinematography and out of body experience, it’s a sound that could be effectively summed up as Mamangakis meets Moritz Von Oswald in Athens at midnight.
While usually considered mutually exclusive paradigms, in Fluxion’s hands film music and dub techno make perfect bedfellows, with the evocative cues and gestures of the former beautifully melded into the latter with no disservice to either. The end results form an ambiguously malleable narrative that we’d imagine is perfect for headphone-dwelling flaneurs and wandering old cities on balmy evenings, as the album drifts from filigree detailed dub bass and sylvan keys in Train Incident, to moments of Bohren-like jazz noir in Momentum, to what sounds like a clarinet line from the Heimat soundtrack mixed with contemporary MvO grooves in Another Side, before stretching out over 11 minutes of gloriously subtle scenes in Tipping Point, the album’s denouement, into the windswept slow motion rendering of Fortitude and the sorrowful closing title of Moving On.
John T. Gast and Tribe Of Colin are Docile for the benefit of The Trilogy Tapes. They’ve both shared label space on JTG’s 5 Gate Temple, which previously lead us to think they’re the same person. We’re not so sure now. Either way, they make a seamlessly effective pairing on these deep and rugged techno rollers.
Docile spirals across the front from Vainqueur/B.C.-style monochord into a cranky dub techno steppers’ momentum with hypnotic traction, whereas the whirring, skanking lurch of Empty Fury feels more like an offshoot of On-U Sound, P.W.O.G. and Richard H. Kirk cooked up for a Herbal Tea Party...
Jealous God call for EBM reinforcements with three new tracks from Pye Corner Audio, and a collab between Marcel Dettmann & Silent Servant.
Pye Corner Audio does it slow, grubby and inquisitive on Delay Gratification, teasing in a sort of industrial zombie cumbia, while Meet Me In The Void follows a muggier hunch into Carpenter-esque synth alleys, and The Future is a bleak as f^ck black knot of acid rolling with stygian function.
Dettmann subtly indulges his longheld passion and fascination for EBM in collaboration with Juan Mendez aka Silent Servant on The Bond, where they marry a strapping lead arp with floating, over-the-shoulder voices and booming kicks, all pinned into place by a reverberating snare that’s sure to ricochet around Berghain’s main hall like stay shrapnel.
Boy Harsher’s début EP Lesser Man returns for a fresh pressing on Nude Club, who are also behind a new reissue of B.H.’s Yr Body Is Nothing album.
Thanks to an achingly tight blend of rictus grooves and perfectly gaunt vocals, Boy Harsher have steadily caught the attention of listeners worldwide, leading to the dispatch of their resoundingly acclaimed EP with Ascetic House in 2017.
This one packs some proper heat, tracing the pair’s metamorphosis from Teen Dreamz into the Boy Harsher of today thru the gothic darkwave elan of Lust and the infectious canter of Modulations, to the hypnotic engine of Pain, and taking in Hi-NRG zingers such as Run beside the drone descent Crimea, and the sore, sludgy synth-pop romance of Love.
RIYL Tropic of Cancer, Xeno & Oaklander, The Soft Moon
The Jealous Gods conscript Varg for their 17th number, harnessing his esteemed Scando techno energies in four hardcore, pounding missiles under the title of I’ll Hold You Till We Die.
A-side hurts the best with a pair of robust 140bpm bangers, getting into gear with the tense electro of For Milan/AMG and dispensing a proper bollocking with the stampeding groove of Skrrt (Music made To Listen To In A RS6).
Turn over and he drops the tempos slightly to go in with a class party piece in Donatella Forever and then the soaring hard techno élan of Last dance (I’ll Hold You Till We Die).
Dense, darkly cinematic drone works from Tehran via Newcastle
"I remember being 6 years old, locked in a closet and screaming and beating on the door until I couldn't feel my hands. I think it's because I didn't want to finish my mashed potatoes.
I remember feeling his rough, dry, red hands all over me. Moving down the length of me in the middle of the night. Putting himself inside of me. Telling me the same thing happened to him when he was my age. I knew crying didn't work. It didn't work all of the other times. I stopped after a while.
It was us in that house for years and then I was gone and I didn't see him again until I was a teenager. After that my mom found out what happened and we sealed off that part of our lives.
We got the news that he'd died alone in that house. It was 3 weeks before anyone found him. There's still a part of me in there with him that I'll never get back.
I've explored this on a few other albums but never in this depth. I didn't feel like I was a good enough writer to tackle something like that. I don't know if I am now but every road led me here. With Siavash's haunting music and never-ending friendship I felt like I could make this journey.
- Matt Finney”
Bonny sings Susanna, to simply try and save the world.
"Sonata Dwarf Mix Cosmos is an old companion of his and with the Chijimi house band +1 they bring it all back home again, this time to the space in Bonny’s place.
“As other practitioners are leaving the room in favor of novel forms of recording and distro and consumption, PALACE, fantastical and real
structures and practices. Like we are allowed into the museum at night. We can make a great essentially live record with great songs and great players because nobody else is? ‘Wolf Of The Cosmos’... is about, as much as anything, direct engagement with recorded music. So step right up to the replicant.” -
Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy is joined by musicians Emmet Kelly (bass guitar, voice, acoustic guitar), Cheyenne Mize (violin, slide ukulele, voice), Chris Rodahaffer (banjo, voice, acoustic guitar) and Elsa Madeline Oldham (juice harp)."
The unfathomable quantity of Pan Daijing meets Werner Dafeldecker’s mercurial sound art on this surprise, limited edition 7" pressing.
Leading on from her heavily arresting Lack album for the PAN label, A Page To A Corner is Daijing's first collaborative release. The title track is a lethargically hypnagogic thing, with Daijing lamenting an unseen force, bound into a mesh of monotone drones and keening strings to ultimately quease-inducing effect.
On the B-side, Daughters of The Botanist, Daijing's death croak vocals are placed front and centre of the mix against a more dynamic backdrop of gong-like tones that gradually recede to leave the slithering sound of extended instrumental techniques and brownian electronics.
John Roberts explores experimental jazz and electronic frameworks alongside Maxwell Sterling (double bass) and Peter Evans (trumpet) on Spill, in a style that crosses paths with work by Jon Hassell, Peter Zummo and Emptyset.
The follow-up to Plum finds NYC composer Roberts expanding and continuing that record’s experimental bent in three diverse parts. The first and best of those is a raucously unpredictable title track starring Maxwell Sterling on his first outing since the amazing Hollywood Medieval album, lending radioactive double bass vamps and doom strokes to a calamity of polymetric percussion, scrabbling electronics and extended trumpet tekkers by Peter Evans. If Arthur Russell and Emptyset made a track together, it may sound a bit like this.
On the B-side Roberts chills out. Working solo, he comes off shades away from Peter Boothroyd in the charmingly emotive weightless melodies of Wrecked, before Peter Evans pipes up again on Fluid, lighting up Roberts’ keening electronic dissonance with a range of sharp, smeared and spiralling trumpet gestures that share space with huge blasts of sculpted distortion, reminding in some ways of recent Dialect material.
Label heads Low Jack & Jean Carval see the summer in with a killer second volume of psychedelic experiments, free jazz and acoustic folk records sourced from their back yards in Brittany, north west France. Expect a sh1t tonne of records you’ve never heard before from artists such as Catherine Le Forestier, Daniel Deshays, Hydravion, Gilles Elbaz, Siegfried Kessler, Anne Vanderlove, Georges Rodi, Melina Mercouri and many more a proper eye and ear opener for collectors and heaz.
A waking dream of a mixtape, Nique La Musique De France (Volume 2) translated to the charming "F*ck The Music Of France" works its magick in waves, firstly seducing with a breezy vocal and synth piece from Catherine Le Forestier, to drift thru acoustic folk strums, wistful psych and jazz skronk, then turning to woozy accordions and a blazing prog nugget on the A-side, before really taking it out there on the B-side, touring cinematic collage, ambient new age ideas, and some synthy chanson that’s worth the admission alone, before taking it back to some impish Celtic folk inspirations in the final strokes.
It's the kind of deeep-digging selection we'd have expected the likes of Andy Votel or Doug Shipton of Finders Keepers to have put toghether, except a bit more f*cked up and a bit more Gallic - two big pluses as far as we're concerned. If you wanna expose your ears to a whole new corner of the musical landscape while zoning out to one of the most balmy and brilliant mixtapes of the summer - this one's for you.
Dais Records unveil the first ever live and rare vinyl collection from storied New Zealand post-punk outfit Nocturnal Projections.
“Inmates In Images” comprises the band’s best and rare material recorded right off the board at key gigs, capturing the unique and unbridled energy of the NPs. Inmates & Images (DAIS113) is issued alongside the vinyl studio collection: Complete Studio Recordings (DAIS112)
Formed in Stratford, near New Plymouth, New Zealand in 1981, Nocturnal Projections was the explosive project of legendary and prolific brothers Graeme and Peter Jefferies (who would later form This Kind of Punishment before launching their solo careers), who along with friends Brett Jones and Gordon Rutherford, created some of the most energetic and influential avant-garde punk rock to emerge from the country.
Largely ignored during their tenure (but revered and referenced in the years after their breakup) and often compared to UK contemporaries like Joy Division, Comsat Angels, The Fall, or Wire, Nocturnal Projections stood well apart - never enjoying the luxuries of unlimited studio time, music videos or international fame, the NPs possessed a driven, rough-hewn serrated edge that cut through the lot comparisons to the UK post-punk exports of the era. They were ahead of their time, completely singular, and for those that had the benefit of seeing Nocturnal Projections play live – formative, with a dedicated cult following to this day.
As residents of New Plymouth’s Lion Tavern during their first year as a band, they perfected their soaring, impactful live set locally (often as the only band, without an opener and 3 hours to fill!) before heading off to Auckland in January of 1982, performing with bands like The Fall, John Cooper Clarke, and New Order at venues like The Mainstreet Cabaret, The Rumba Bar and Reverb Room. Over the next two years in Auckland the band would record 3 vinyl records (collected on the companion release to this record, “Complete Studio Recordings” DAIS112), write nearly 100 songs and play over 150 gigs.
“Inmates In Images” pulls the best of the best from board recordings of live sets between 1981 and 1983, including the never-before-released tracks: “Blank Faces” and “Late Night”, along with unheard versions of previously released songs - and includes Peter and Graeme’s song “Walk In A Straight Line”, written in October of 1980 and originally intended for their earlier band The Plastic Bags.
Nocturnal Projections are hard to pin down: bright, slashing, and prominent guitars with driving, solid basslines and drums in tight lockstep, all with Peter Jefferies’ urgent signature baritone vocals soaring alongside – the result is still perhaps the most energetic, unique, and fresh music to ever emerge from the post-punk scene. This collection is must-have for new listeners and existing NP fans, preserving the legacy of New Zealand’s groundbreaking legends.
We were better live. If you went to the shows that’s when you really got Nocturnal Projections. What you have here is an attempt to document those performances. Much debate, trawling of archives, and careful re-mastering has gone into this set. If you weren’t there, then this is probably as close as you’re gonna get to it. If you were, then I hope this album brings back some memories. Certainly works for me.
- Peter Jefferies. December, 2017”
The Works of John B. McLemore, the star of one of last years biggest podcasts, S-Town, which is coming out on Dais. The story behind this release is truly fascinating.. the music itself is ambient remixes of Tor Lundvall's best works, but with John's idiosyncratic slant on them, with some having been woven together using the horde of clocks he use to keep in his basement. This story is really worth a read if you get a chance.
"In September 2012, I received an e-mail from someone named John B. who said he had assembled a lengthy remix of my music, which also incorporated some of his own material. John asked if I'd mind if he posted this recording on YouTube, to which I agreed. He also mentioned that there was a second part to his mix that was "roughed out", but never completed. I was curious to hear both parts, so shortly afterwards, John mailed me two CDrs which I enjoyed very much. The recordings were hypnotic and haunting, evoking images of vast fields at twilight. I was especially fond of the second disc which had a darker atmosphere and featured more of John's original material, beginning with ghostly clock chimes and ending with a mysterious piece using dried seed pods and other cryptic sounds that slowly built-up into an intense, almost claustrophobic environment.
My correspondence with John lasted about two months. In one of his final e-mails, John said "I have to observe that your paintings seem to have a great deal of loneliness involved in them... even multiple characters seem to be together alone, so to speak... I really appreciate looking at your paintings as well as your music, I think I have connected with the spirit of them both as much as anyone can." He went on to discuss his struggles with depression, caring for his aging mom and his concerns about the future. I tried to encourage his music as a possible outlet, perhaps as a means to help transform his feelings of loneliness into a more content solitude. Always easy to say, but as I well know, not always easy to do.
In his last e-mail in late October 2012, John sent me a beautiful slideshow of his Fall flower beds and his dogs. I was touched and I told him how much watching his video had brightened my day. That was the last time I heard from him.
Last year, I visited John's YouTube channel to see if Part One of his mix was still posted, which it was, and still remains. I was shocked and saddened to read in the comments section that he had passed away. The comments also suggested that John had received some sort of national attention recently. This quickly led me to the S-Town podcast. Although I had mixed reactions after listening, I was thankful that S-Town shed more light on John and his remarkable life... but somehow, I just couldn't place the person in the podcast with the person I had corresponded with. Had I not listened to S-Town, I would have remembered John as a very private, somewhat dark and lonely person. He may have been these things, but there was obviously far more to him than that.
After finishing the final episode, I decided to play the second, unreleased CDr of John's recordings for the first time in years. Listening to his clock chimes ringing in the dark was an eerie and chilling moment. I was reminded of a line from my song "29" which says "I live with dreams and a lonely mind, my clock is set to a different time". I wondered what those lyrics might have meant to him.
John had mentioned that he wasn't satisfied with his final mix, but I felt his work was too special not to be heard. I hope that these recordings offer another glimpse into the creative mind of a unique, complex and gifted individual who tragically left this world all too early."
January 17th, 2018
This is absolutely belter: a genuinely never-before-heard collection of punk-funk oddballs by Stretchmarks, the short-lived but dead good Manchester band fronted by Matt Wand and Rex Casswell of plunderphonic pioneers Stock, Hausen & Walkman and fuelled by a rhythm section with previous form for both Nico and Blue Orchids. It’s the kinda stuff Manc-y wet dreams are made of - funky as f*ck, feral and devilishly effective, and totally set to light up a lot of grins on those familiar with Mancunia c.1989-1991 as much as classic Material, Pere Ubu, ACR, ESG.
Pulled together from live recordings of shows at The Millstone, basement sessions down in Withington, and from various rehearsal sessions in rooms across the city, The Stretch m-ARKhives contains the best of this bunch’s efforts during the period that everyone putatively associates with baggy kids and ecstasy pipes. Basically, Stretchmarks were a sort of antithesis to what they called “the ‘baggy plague”, and it’s fair to say with hindsight that their live-wire mix of funk chops, punkish vocals and electronic blatz succeeded in creating an excellent alternative to the usual suspects. Only thing was, at the time, only a few people gave a flying fxck about Stretchmarks and they never made a proper record to prove their anti-thesis.
Fast forward nearly 30 years to now, and, by all rights, Stretchmarks should find their audience in a scene that’s been primed to tell wave goods from wave bads after a decade absorbing YouTube rips, blog posts and a deluge of reissues. Hence it should be easy to detect their flashes of devious genius inside, from the mad mix of upclose whisper and distant holler on the roiling Puddle Of Love, thru to the nipped Afrobeat-punk meter of All The Same, the free jazz mind splash of No Way, and the helpless madness of Let’s Get Weird with its bestial grunts and instantly memorable lyrics intoning “let’s get weird/you and me/in my kidney shaped swimming pooooool.”
Ultimately, The Stretch m-ARKhives is yet another example of how history always favours the winners, in this case The Cranky Tuesdays and The Bony Losers, at the expense of the interesting crud that happened beyond the sight of scenesters and there mainstream, of which this LP is a perfect example.
Metro Area’s seminal, eponymous debut album of disco resuscitations struts back onto the scene for a 15th anniversary edition, having lost none of its lustre over the interim years.
Morgan Geist has been releasing records for years on numerous labels such as Metamorphic, Clear, and his own Environ imprint, hitting gold with the future-disco purpose built for his Metro Area label.
For a taste of the funk, head for ‘Miura’ with it’s handclap beats and accapella samples enhancing the good side of the 70’s dance craze, but with no brass section in sight. Synth’s galore and floor bound grooves litter the LP and it runs superbly as an album, but also as single tracks, hence the poularity of the 12”s.
After linking with Charles Hayward and picking up new followers in 2017, Tomaga make their first outing of this year with Music For Visual Disorders, featuring Valentina Magaletti’s meter-defying drum patter threaded across thistly, abstracted soundscapes and keening drones and bubbling electronics by Tom Relleen.
“Tomaga's Music For visual Disorders comprises nine tracks of intuitive automation, compiling compositions that have been used by different artists and curators within the context of works of visual art, dance and exhibitions. Tomaga members Valentina Magaletti and Tom Relleen use a multi-instrumental palette, conjuring up a musical sphere that touches on industrial music, minimalism, ambient and a gentle, at times inward, at times outward, take on krautrock's motorik.
Tomaga's music is deceptively moderate as its core revolves around intuitive and gentle pulses. Its experimentation lies in its development as it is often driven by abstract images and intentions and even allows moments of soft-spoken absurdity. Music For Visual Disorders is a highly contemporary take on avantgarde and classic contemporary music. It is Tomaga's first outing on Meakusma.”
Legendary hardcore label Praxis revive their 5th release, Bourbonese Qualk’s techno onslaught Autonomia, for a necessary reissue on the occasion of its 23rd birthday.
One of a handful of genuine post-punk/post-industrial survivors who’ve consistently held their underground mettle since the late ’70s, Simon Crabb’s Bourbonese Qualk are a vital example of the intersection between politics and music which generates the best records and raves in the UK.
Autonomia catches Crabb’s unit in 1993 going nuts for hardcore and acid techno, just like the rest of the country at that time. However, unlike a number other producers who has made the traversal from ‘80s punk and wave style to electronic dance music in the ‘90s, BQ also brought with them a scuzzy squat attitude ripe for hardcore techno warehouse raves.
That attitude comes out in no uncertain terms in the oblique, hard edged and psychedelic styles on Autonomia, which scales from full-on skull-bashing hardcore to more hypnotic styles reminscent of Psychick Warriors Of Gaia and even sounds like prototype tracky Jamal Moss gear in parts.
It’s pretty much worth it for the orange/black came jacket alone!
Shapeshifting Whities artist Quirke reels between clattering and assymetric strains of ambient techno for Nic Tasker’s label.
Vatied City sounds like ‘90s AI techno played on wood drums and jawbones by some ancient peoples; Transport is more faded, elusive and ghostly, a sort of after-image of the real thing, but still with a strong bass presence; and Hydraulic Deer reminds of 154’s smoky deep techno detachment in a similar way to Actress and Lee Gamble.
NYC/Berlin’s Hayden Payne aka Phase Fatale extends his Redeemer album tracks for proper ‘floor pressure on Hospital Productions.
Order Of Severity lives up to its mantle across the entire A-side, expanded and cut deeper for bass frequency response and allowing the growling mid-range guitars to really cut the the mix, whilst Silent Servant’s input really shows int he 2nd half.
Operate Within hunts down a more typical EBM sound accentuated with clenched snares and raging bass torque on the B-side, next to a cold, killer, blank-eyed augmentation of Spoken Ashes.
Brusque, Ballardian EBM techno and industrial clangers from Oliver Ho in his Broken English Club style.
The A-side’s Accidents & Romance clamps down with rottie-toothed 16th note synth snarls and back-breaking kicks whilst the owner chats like a man possessed, somewhere above the escalating madness.
B-side, Country Life bucks up some recoiling and lustrous EBM funk that burns on contact, backed with a descent into crushing industrial torpor with Private Death.
SUED’s SVN and SW scale between deep, rolling house and more opiated, ambient styles for the connoisseurs.
On SVN’s side he rolls out a thick, lustrous bassline with breezy pads and shivering percussion in classic NYC/Chicago/Detroit style on Mechine 5, along with a palate cleansing weightless vignette, Dark Plan 8.
SW’s side is slower, duskier, as he shuffles out with the NWAQ-like shimmy of Deepmix on a 111bpm bump, before transmitting a Vainqueur-esque piece of percolated dub chords in Latenightmix.