Unmissable, unreleased ZF blinder, seemingly riffing on Russian orthodox church chants and/or prison songs with their inimitable, Northumbrian, ambient noise accent - must check for fans of The Caretaker/The Stranger, Stephan Mathieu, Coil, Two Daughters
On ‘Russian Heterodoxical Songs’ we can hear Zoviet France echoing a sense of solidarity and mutual spirits between their native Northumberland’s landscape of post-industrial and rural wilds, and those of ancient and soviet Russian backwaters. It’s all speculation on our behalf, but the strings seem to resemble wheezing miners songs and Northumbrian folk standards as much as Russian Orthodox folk chant and the kind of aching prison songs referenced by Coil, but naturally eroded, strung-out and smudged with Zoviet France’s patented magick, and even a Tarkovskyan sense of metaphysics. We can hardly imagine a better soundtrack to a world back-pedalling into feudalism and losing sight of spirituality in the new/old world dense flux.
Low Jack riffs on love in the age of AI with a head-twisting collage of vaporous ambient, gamelan and candid vocal sampling for his longtime crew at In Paradisum, home to some of his most beguiling experiments.
‘Awesome’ was originally made to accompany a series of events in 2016 surrounding an exhibition by Swiss hacker/rave squad !Mediengruppe Bitnik. On its standalone release, ‘Awesome’ represents some of Philippe Hallais' most curious work; 30 minutes of queasy music reflecting a perplexing, hypermodern state of mind and a dystopian outlook at the future of AI-driven flirting, sexting, and politicking.
As with everything he touches, Hallais injects a strong, if elusive, sense of personality and sensuality that comes to resonate with the original project by Bitnik’s Carmen Weisskopf and Domagoj Smoljo, and the immersive nature of their ongoing Cryptoraves; a series of events accessed by participating in multi-day cryptocurrency mining sessions. The effect of the music is more immediate and visceral in a way perhaps recognisable to anyone simultaneously seduced/repelled by the disorienting, detached but euphoric and wistful experience of finding and negotiating love online.
The results recall the curdled Lynchian vibes of his ‘An American Hero’ for Modern Love, as well as his screwed mixes of Black Zone Myth Chant, the soundtracks to Ryan Trecartin’s deeply uncanny art videos or David Cronenburg’s Videodrome, or the heaving viscosity of Amnesia Scanner & Bill Kouligas’ Lexachast - effectively leaving his usual, warped dancefloor urges aside to present a captivating and insightful reading of techgnostic mysticism and eroticism in modern life.
First time reissue of a super-rare private press tape by peerless sound artist and instrument builder Akio Suzuki, recorded behind-the-wall in 1984 at Berlin’s Technical University.
An absolute master of haptic abstraction, Suzuki’s delicate touch on self-built glass harmonica and the Analapos echo unit - metal cans joined by coil spring, like a kid’s tin-can telephone - generates the most ear-teasing spectrum of tones in ‘Zeitstudie’, which was only available in scant quantities via Galerie Giannozo, who organised his 1984 visit and performance which produced these recordings.
If you’ve had the pleasure of immersing in Akio’s work before, you will know the sort of tingling pleasures to be had from his music, and, as the artist states, this is one of the most “joyful” examples of his early work. The four pieces use one of his earliest, transportable set-ups, with a refined version of his glass harmonica - glass tubes suspended horizontally and played with wet fingers or wooden stick - and its sweetly avian harmonics displayed in the two mesmerising ‘De Koolmees’ pieces, while the others generate utterly intoxicating worlds of echo from his Analapos unit, reverberating in two 17 minutes parts like lingering traces of ecstatic melody from Michael O’Shea’s Mo Cara, or some ancient ceremonial cave music.
A year-long period of limited resources and contact inspired the band to reflect on the various environments in which they've created music over the years: to comb through their previous sounds and creative approaches, and fuse them together with new ideas, ultimately producing a sort of future/past alchemy.
"FICTION EP is as much a project of curation as it is one of creation: sifting, re-imagining, and re-framing, sometimes completely disassembling and then building from the ground up. Each song is a live-off-the-floor recording that was then taken into isolation and re-worked. But as much as FICTION EP is a project born of introspection and reflection, it's equally one for which SUUNS sought inspiration from outside. Longtime friend of the band Radwan Ghazi Moumneh (Jerusalem In My Heart), bringing relentless claps and buzuks, leads SUUNS through BREATHE, while Amber Webber (Lightning Dust) sings a mournful siren song on the penultimate track, DEATH.
Finally, the ghost of Frank Zappa lends the band his fervent societal diagnosis, as relevant today as it ever was, on TROUBLE EVERY DAY, the EP's black North Star. Zappa's darkly prophetic message, repurposed from 1966 to meet our moment, is an apt referent. These dualities -- confluences of past and future, of introspection and influence -- are what defines FICTION EP. Produced from old remnants, it is entirely new; done in relative isolation, and is also something of a live album. The songs have been meticulously reworked, and yet the entire collection feels deployed with hardly any reflection, done in one breath. It's the sound of SUUNS regrouping, and then poised, and then driving towards the future."
Very welcome reminder of an evocative 2001 beauty by sound alchemist Stephan Mathieu and sound artist Ekkehard Ehlers, reissued on archivist label Keplar - massive RIYL William Basinski, The Caretaker, Pole.
Hearkening back to what feels like another time altogether, ‘Heroin’ shares the results of Mathieu and Ehlers’ recordings made between Christmas and NYE 2000/2001; a suite of warbling seasonal tones and lush crackle capturing a sense of wide-eyed innocence that only feels uncannily nostalgic, hauntologically apt right now, 20 years later.
Sifting 78rpm ephemera thru algorithmic processes and a seasonally bleary lense of soft focus glow and rustling textures in a style that has become a hallmark of Mathieu’s, and also found on Ehlers’ gems such as ‘Plays John Cassavetes’, the results cast us back to that strange niche of time with, 9/11, Iraq, and the War on Terror on the horizon.
The music captures this transitional feel in a gauzy flux between analog and digital spheres, slipping time and phasing minds from the evocative fireworks and organ of ‘New Years Eve’ and washed out looptopia of ‘Rose’ to more smudged, dubwise dimensions in ’Supertramp’ and the haunted glitch thizz of ‘Herz’, thru more pensive doom drone glitch in ‘Joshua’s Theme’ that, with hindsight, only feel eerily, profoundly symptomatic and evocative of that era’s psyche.
Cleared is the Chicago-based duo of Steven Hess and Michael Vallera, formed in the latter part of 2009 as a project to focus on repetition and patience as central elements of composition. Hess and Vallera have previously worked in various contexts of improvisational, long form and experimental music (Hess contributed to Fennesz’s Seven Stars, released on Touch in 2011). Cleared is an effort to take the knowledge both have gained from these arenas in order to build hypnotic patterns of sound and rhythm.
"The Key was recorded in the spring of 2019 at Electrical Audio in Chicago Illinois with engineer Greg Norman. After a silence of several years, Cleared went into the studio with a set of drawings and notes describing the arcs of various systems for the creation of soundscapes and rhythmic patterns. There was no rehearsal, demo recordings or any other preparation besides theses diagrams which were designed by both Hess and Vallera in tandem. The logic behind this strategy was to erase the confines of previous releases and return to the origin of the project, which simply began as an open improvisation between the two musicians, centering a focus on slow, gradual changes and a meditative sensibility.
The recordings were made with a specific attention to sonic detail and fidelity, resulting in hours of material that was arranged and mixed over the next year by Michael Vallera in his home studio.
The resulting four tracks were further investigated and reimagined by Philip Jeck, Christian Fennesz, Bethan Kellough and Olivia Block, adding another form of The Key as a collection of discreet and weighted sonic explorations."
Spellbinding, allusively spirited experiments in contemporary American music from Raven Chacon, fittingly presented in beautiful packaging by Ouidah, the sublabel of Die Schachtel’s Blume - big RIYL everyone from Chris Watson to Harley Gaber, Deathprod to Lynch’s Twin Peaks
A record that defies easy description, ‘An Anthology Of Chants Operations’ surveys 10 years of work by Chacon in bridging the disciplines of chamber music, noise, site specific installation, and performance - both solo and with Postcommodity collective - following his studies under legendary 20th century composers James Tenney, Morton Subotnick, Michael Pisaro, and Leo Wadada Smith at CalArts. Vitally, it sees Raven dwell on his roots in Fort Defiance, Navajo Nation, Arizona and his current home in New Mexico in a deeply elemental way, reflecting the environment and a deeply elusive sense of humanity thru a masterfully evocative manipulation of abstract forms.
The record’s first half is bookended with two piece that epitomise his haunting approach; he has us instantly rapt with an ear-ringing recording of his Aeolian sculpture installation, evoking alien and ancient beings in ‘Singing Toward the Wind / Singing Toward the Sun Now’, along with the beguilingly self-evident psychedelia of ’Study For Human-made Bird Calls And Microphone Out A Moving Car Window’, whereas the B-side speaks more directly to his grasp of folk and chamber musics in ‘MSRC’ making striking use of organ and Marc Sabat’s keening microtonal Viola pitches in a way recalling Harley Gaber’s ‘Winds Rise In The North’, and then sending us into a total desert trance state with the windswept recordings of a bonfire in ‘Pinefires’ that sounds amazing accompanied by the storm that’s outside our window right now.
Visionary Milanese guitarist Alessandra Novaga pays tribute to Derek Jarman in an ideal showcase for her expansive tonal palette and descriptively lucid-dreamlike style, delivered by the ever trustworthy Die Schachtel.
Novaga is counted among the leading figures of Italy’s thriving new experimental music scene, and known as a skilled improviser, as well as for collaborations and performances of work by likes of Mark Fell collaborator, Sandro Mussida, who wrote a work for her ‘Movement Lunari’ on Die Schachtel’s Blume series. Thematically and stylistically ‘I Should Have Been a Gardener Die Schachtel’ follows from Novaga’s 2017 dedication to Rainer Werner Fassbinder with a focus on boundary-pushing auteur filmmaker Derek Jarman, drawing from his diaries, interviews, films, and personal politics to sketch out a hauntingly beautiful portrait of the avant-garde legend’s life, work, and death, perfectly accompanied and sealed by a classic photo of Jarman in his famous garden on the album cover.
Colouring in space, to our ears, between the languorous strokes of Loren Connors and The Durutti Column, but with a gossamer fine watermark of distinction, Novaga’s spatial sensitivities come into their own as the album unfolds at a seductively relaxed and contemplative pace. She makes achingly simple but poignant use of Dungeness shingle underfoot for the 11 minute ponder of ‘April 21’, while ‘The Wound Dresser’ cuts to the bone with rawer electric touch, and ‘Poppies In The Morning’ shimmers with a rare, tremulous beauty, all seemingly setting up for her imaginary duet with Jarman in ‘I Should Have Been a Gardener’, where she subtly sketches out lines as wide and surreally time-lapsed as the Kent coast line.
Jacszek uses the landscape of Limpopo Province, SA to conjure slow moving, crepuscular scenes, transforming field recordings of its environment and contact mic traces of the earth into hauntingly sparse, elemental works for Touch
“GARDENIA is an existing land located at the Limpopo province of South Africa, right at the border with Botswana. The place’s real name is Mmabolela and it’s a private nature reserve covering 6500ha of subtropical savanna and part of Limpopo River. In November 2019 I had a chance to visit the location and participate in an annual residency for composers and sound artists called ‘Sonic Mmabolela’, initiated and curated by Francisco López. We lived in an isolated property in the middle of savanna having a unique opportunity to exist in undisturbed touch with the African wilderness. All the natural sounds later used to create Gardenia were captured there — during longtime recording sessions over the virgin interior of Mmabolela Reserve.
The album’s field recording content was selected from several hours of birdsong, calls of frogs, insect noises, sounds of trees, bushes, grass as well as non-living natural elements like stones or shells.
These field recordings were later digitally processed and used as part of 9 musical arrangements.
However the recording sources and the location of Gardenia is defined, it was not my intention to document a South African natural soundscape nor create any other kind of strict concept album.
All I do in my work is an affirmation of beauty hidden in various aspects of the Creation. (MJ)”
Burial’s sophomore LP, originally issued in 2007 only a year after his pivotal debut, is another masterpiece of urban UK composition and innovative imagineering whose sense of melancholic space, pop-wise dexterity and dancefloor yearn has rarely been explored or surpassed since its release.
Where its predecessor was starkly paranoid, mostly instrumental, Untrue was gilded with gorgeous, cut-up R&B and UKG vox, and interspersed with segments of nocturnal reverie that played out like the OST for a yung UK romance that replaced posh, gurning actors with real life road characters and focussed on the spaces between - between the club and home; between night and day; masculine and feminine; waking life and dream life; Maccy D’s and alley doorways; being high AF and coming down.
It was and still is Burial’s love note to UKG and R&G, and by turns gave context and validated those genres for a lot of listeners who arguably wouldn’t have touched that sound, or at least dismissed it as pop pap or with some snide, racist undertone before Burial’s revivalist instincts hybridised it with trip hop and snarling D&B memes.
More positively, however, depending on which way you look at it, this album also opened the endorphin floodgates for a whole raft of f****e garage producers to get in touch with their feminine side, especially in contrast to prevailing, laddish dubstep rave trends, and, since that sound has faded away, it’s not hard to hear this album’s influence in the vocal processing of Mssingno, in the uneven, off-kilter swing and parry of Zomby, the patch-worked constructions of Jamie xx or Evian Christ, or in Deadboy and Murlo’s more boundary-pushing creations.
As with any album that gets a lot of attention beyond its putative scene, Untrue was an unintended red rag to the cynics and rockists - and even garage purists - but for almost anyone who recognises and appreciates that more modest, aching sort of electronic, UK street rave soul, it remains a really transcendent album that still grips like few others.
Aahhh yes, another classic Bohren album reissued.
Bohren & Der Club of Gore’s vital reissue scheme looks to Geisterfaust (2005) after giving Sunset Mission and Black Earth much needed vinyl lives. Very safe to say that if you fell for either of those, this one will keep you right down there.
Nerds will need to know that the tracklisting has been reshuffled for the purposes of this vinyl edition, now still kicking off with the 20 minute sorrow, Zeigefinger but deviating the sequence in favour of Ringfinger, Mittelfinger, Daumen, and Kleiner Finger, for your information.
The effect remains the same, though; sublime, pensile, deeply evocative of Lynch & Badalamenti as much as doom metal and the most poignant, lonely moments of your life.
25 years since ‘Gore Motel’, Bohren & Der Club of Gore hold their smoky line of doom-jazz in a sublime, haunting 10th album that once again taps into that interzone between classic Lynchian motifs and fizzing gothic undercurrents.
The sylvan intimacy of ‘Patchouli Blue’ is a Bohren's ineffable skill at lulling listeners into richly hypnagogic states. As ever they prize a deep sense of cool yearning that hearkens back to the slow burn atmospheres of classic film noir as much as David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti’s soundtracks, dark ambient and the bluest jazz, plus the doom metal of Black Sabbath, Gore, and their dusty echoes in Earth. It’s surely a velvet cloak for the senses; essentially a heavily tranquilising sound, but one fraught with an existential angst that’s won them a captive audience over the years, and is fully in effect here.
As ever, ‘Patchouli Blue’ is a strictly all instrumental affair and was recorded in Cologne and Mülheim An Der Ruhr - site of all their recordings (bar ‘Mitleid Lady’) since the seminal ‘Sunset Mission’ (2000). It was composed by core members Christoph Clöser (Tenor Saxophone) and Morten Gass (Piano, Engineer, Producer) and is performed by them along with longtime member Robin Rodenburg’s plucked, stalking bass lines in a classically sulky, gratifying way bound to make your glass of single malt taste smokier, sweeter. As such, the album is really meant to be taken in one sitting, but if we’re to point out highlights, the slow rise of slinking drum machine and creeping arps of ‘Vergessen & Vorbei’ is just masterful, as is the distant, burnished, Vangelis-like synth glow and elegiac brass of their last call, ‘Meine Welt ist schön’. Basically it’s dead good for what ail’s ya.
The French young composer is the link between the most accomplished scholarly music and some radical aspects of noise. Born in Toulouse mid-seventies, he settles in Brussels - which becomes the crossroads of a continuous creation. Currently works and has been collaborating since several years with numerous European ensembles and musicians such as Ensemble
"Unfinished Altar His most recent pieces intimately mix instrumental timbre and sound hybridization, cultivating a certain secrecy around this alchemy. Here more than everywhere else, Christophe Guiraud's new compositions create a dialogue between the times, from the polyphony of Ars Nova to Spectralism, while integrating his noise heritage.
Resolutely an-historical, the last pieces presented here unfold in a trembling stagnation. Performers The ensemble of the pieces creates coherence across a wide range of musicians coming from different places and traditions and from different ensembles - everything is woven together towards a rather spectacular conclusion."
Anam is the first collection of recordings by Selah Broderick (b. 1959, Washington, D.C.).
"Having grown up in a strict Catholic setting, the alternative movements of the late 60's and 70's could not come soon enough for Selah, who's love for art and music eventually sent her traveling around the country, running from a rather chaotic upbringing, in search of quieter ground. She eventually wound up in the Pacific Northwest, where she picked up a gig playing her guitar and singing at a local bar a few nights a week, and it was there in the audience that she met the man who would soon become the father of her children. First pregnant at the tender age of 19, Selah would have to put her musical dreams on hold while she attended to the demands of motherhood. It's no wonder she was so supportive when her three kids all gravitated towards music.
While her devoted husband supported the family as a woodworker, Selah carved out her own path as a yoga instructor, in a time when non-western spiritual practices were not so welcomed in the western world. Her devotion to spiritual development would be the guiding force in her life, leading to a formative trip to Tibet alongside Roshi Joan Halifax in the early 2000's. Her passion for music entwined itself with her work when she created the soundtrack to her own instructional yoga CD, featuring synthesizers, gentle field recordings, wind chimes, and most notably, her enchanted flute playing. Her interest in more meditative sounds infused itself with her background in folk music, and it is somewhere between these two worlds that Anam exists. Consisting of recordings as old as 1979 and as new as 2018, the wide range in fidelity has been embraced for this collection.
The recordings were collected by her son Peter Broderick, who carefully wove them together over the years with occasional contributions from himself and sister Heather Woods Broderick. When asked about a potential title for her first album, Selah referenced the book Anam Cara by John O'Donohue, the modern-day Celtic mystic whose work helped her to reconcile her Catholic upbringing with her love for Eastern spiritual disciplines. The title "Anam Cara", meaning "Soul Friend" in Irish Gaelic, was given to a track originally created for meditation, while the album is simply called Anam, or "Soul." You are invited to explore the soul of this beautiful woman."
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.”
DJ Plead switches gears for a more infectious, slow and deadly percussive whirl on this killer 40 minute session for our Documenting Sound series, mostly recorded on a Yamaha ‘Oriental’ keyboard and inspired by the likes of CS + Kreme’s ’Snoopy’ album and Felix Hall’s dancehall mixtapes. Proper spacious, all-tension-no-release gear from one of the best in the game.
Recorded and sent from his home in Sydney, ‘Relentless Trills’ sees Jarred Beeler aka DJ Plead dismantling his much-loved hard drum club style. Dropping the tempo and conserving energy levels across a suite of smoky, tense works, he matches the waviest microtonal vamps with the signature, rhythmelodic lilt of his drums in a properly hypnotic style.
Equally influenced by vintage dancehall riddims and the inspirational glow of CS + Kreme's psycho-ambient heartmelters, the results sound to our ears like an offshoot of Mutamassik releases for DJ/Rupture’s Soot, or Shackleton slowed to a hash-smoking drift and heading on a Mahraganat tip. A hazy introductory piece of autotuned vocals and digital bass prodding seduces from the front, with the vibe spilling out into deep, spaced-out dancehall pressure with deliriously strong works almost nodding to Timbaland and The Neptunes in ‘RT5’, closing on a mesmerising beatless highlight in ‘RT6’ to seal the deal.
A new Philip Corner LP on Recital; voice recordings from a small performance in Italy, early in 2020 – Homages to/from George Maciunas [1931-1978] C.) Corner’s piano meditative playthroughs of Couperin’s The Mysterious Barricades , from 1989 and 1992 D.)
"These two elements (voice and piano) superimposed by Sean McCann, edited during the first month of the pandemic E.) Manic exaltation, distorted harmony things F.) Album cover is a few PC scores soaked in olive oil and held in-front of the sun through my kitchen window G.) Booklet features passionate writings on the Couperin piece and its meaning by Corner H.) Philip wrote a new reflection for this LP edition, “The Mesure of the Mystery” this August I.) This album is built from fine ingredients: beautiful piano with stomach-clenching voice stretches..."
Ripe ambient dance sauce from 100% Silk corps Damon Palermo (Magic Touch) and Nick Malkin (LA Vampires) on the Vancouver-related Total Stasis label.
‘Private Lesson’ trades in four pieces of sashaying downbeats, including two struck with tender vocals by Japanese legend Takako Minekawa. Takako’s sweetened vox are lightly woven into the breezy swang, soft focus textures and drowsy breaks of ‘Digital Native’, and again with really cheesy effect against the melodramatic keys and turgid groove of ‘Highland’, while Palermo and Malkin make their intentions instrumentally clear with the hair-kissing melody of ‘Erotique’ and early ‘90s grease trail of ‘Rooftop Garden.’