Cogitate is the first release from NYC local Promoter and an invitation to gaze inward and sit with sound. Borne of hours lost in loops, Promoter calls forth deep, dubby bass rumble, off-kilter rhythms and murky atmospherics, relishing in repetition and evolving subliminally but surely. Disorienting, engaging and engulfing, Cogitate is the 4th release on NYC-based Patience, catching you off guard then inviting you in.
"Cogitate offers two cuts from the same cloth - one locked into the grid, the other drifting far above it. Both begin with shards of static cascading over submerged synth stabs - on Cogitate 1.1 a bassline bubbles up from below before a kick drum sneaks in and drops anchor, driving forward a slice of sparse zero gravity dub techno for a zonked out dancefloor in a dream. Cogitate 2.0 offers a pared back version of 1.1, slowed down and stripped of the rhythm section. A gentle brain scrub or a cascade of mind tricks depending on your headspace. Is the sequence evolving or is your perspective on it shifting? Does this sound like something I know or nothing at all? Has this been going for 3 minutes or 3 hours? Is this climax sublime or simply creepy?
Whatever it is, Promoter presents an opportunity to let the mind wander, and offers proof that repetition invites participation. Both cuts simmer in ambiguous emotion, never spelling out what to feel but allowing the listener to be their own trip commander. Promoter is a new project from a life-long NYC resident, most recently releasing a couple of 12”s under the Image Man moniker, who for the most part would prefer that the music is received on it’s own terms, with a mind wide open.
Patience is an outlet for exploring further beyond the break than usual. Inspired by the music perpetually on rotation at HQ – with E2-E4 representing the format’s high tide mark – each release will be one artist’s deep dive down one inspirational wormhole spread across two sides of vinyl, or two side-long sojourns making full use of a round 12” piece of plastic. Set and forget, zone out to tune in."
New compilation of South Africa’s leading young jazz talent on Afrosynth Records, compiled by DJ Okapi and Shane Cooper.
"Compiled by Mabuta bass player and allround creative force Shane Cooper (check out Mabuta’s 2018 masterpiece ‘Welcome to this World’ if you haven’t already) and Afrosynth labelhead Okapi, ‘New Horizons’ (not to be confused with the recent Bristol jazz comp of the same name) offers a perfect glimpse into the thriving local scenes in all assorted flavors.
Kyle Shepherd’s beautifully striking first chords on opener ‘Evolution part 2’ by the Benjamin Jephta Quintet alone should be enough to warrant the purchase of this veritable treasure box - even before the mindblowing trumpet an sax kick in.
Shepherd’s inspired piano playing is also key on the soul-stirring ‘Dream State’, the kind of instant classic that makes you stop in your tracks immediately, regardless of what you’re doing. It’s followed by Lwanda Gogwana’s pleasantly upbeat ‘Maqundeni’ and the extraterrestrial spirit chasing of Siya Makuzeni’s haunting ‘Out of this World’.
Other highlights on this impeccable double album compilation include the contemporary postbop sounds of Bokani Dyer’s ‘Fezile’, Vuma Levin’s short and square ‘Hashtag’, The spaced-out jazz psychedelics of Reza Khota’s ‘Lost in a Place’ and Zoë Modiga’s afro-Brazilian flavored London jazz-inspired ‘The Healer’, but I assure you there are no weak moments to be found here. ‘New Horizons’ offers a unique window into a world that’s waiting to be discovered by all."
Boss lass Helena Hauff tears thru 31 hardcore electro-techno zingers on her keenly awaited addition to Tresor’s Kern series after ace instalments from DJ Stingray and Objekt.
Throwing back to a phase of fast, hard and scuzzy electro from the late ‘90s to mid ‘00s, Hamburg’s finest goes hell for leather in the style that’s practically seen her block-booked for DJ dates until 2030. It’s pretty fair to say that Helena has single-handedly revived attention to a style that was once core to clubs from Detroit to Berlin, Rotterdam and Manchester before prevailing trends diverged for bassier pressures by end of the ‘00s. However, whether you were there back then or not, Helena’s cherry-picked bombs and rarities are bound to plug gaps in your knowledge and, quite frankly, light your arsch on fire.
Packing exclusive heat from herself with Morah (the bezerker industrial-electro od ‘Segment 3’) and allies including Umwelt, Machino, Galaxian and L.F.T., Helena simply does not let up with the fire selections and militant pacing, dispensing banger-for-banger with ghetto-tech highlights from Detroit’s DJ Godfather & DJ Starski and O-Wells, old skool UK hardcore from Q.D.T., Nasenbluten’s ferocious ’Intellectual Killer’, and deep Dutch electro from Maarten Van Der Vleuten to join the dots between cthonic hardcore dance musics from the late golden era, and its long shadow, from across the globe.
One of Germany’s oddest entities, Schlammpeitziger plays it cool and dubwise in their mischievous and craftily art-pop style for arch Krautrock facilitators, Bureau B.
The musical alias of illustrator and performance artist Jo Zimmerman, Schlammpeitiger has been a persistent presence in the Cologne scene since 1992, with scattergun but singular records strewn over A-Musik, Pingipung and Sonig - and even Domino at one point. With ‘c in Der Echokammer’ he emphasises a sort of lilting dubbiness that was long there in his off-kilter sort of songwriting and music, but he apparently didn’t notice until his friend, “reggae expert” Bettina Lattak pointed it out to him. The result is a sun-drenched, lean but plush album of colourful songs that somehow split the difference between airport reggae and Kraftwerk; lounge music for the Hamburg Space Shuttle Terminal?
Gabrielle Roth’s highly sought-after dance meditation soundtrack from 1996, previously only available on CD, first release on audiophile 45rpm double heavy-weight vinyl.
"Through direct encounters and training from the era’s noted psychologists, philosophers, anthropologists, and spiritual gurus, she single-handedly rediscovered and redefined the ancient shamanic technique of ecstatic dance, establishing a method she named 5Rhythms in the late 70’s.
The practice of 5Rhythms consists of five movements: Flowing, Staccato, Chaos, Lyrical and Stillness. Through this dance sequence difficulties and obstructions in life can be identified and ultimately overcome. The sequence of the rhythms helps create waves that allow the dancer to reach a point of inner stillness. It is a globally recognised movement meditation practice with over 400 qualified teachers in more than 50 countries. Though Gabrielle Roth passed away in 2012, her spirit and legacy have been passed down through her family and extensive followers. It is still being practiced today.
Music plays a key role in these workshops. Following the shamanic tradition of using live percussion as a driving force, the music is necessarily rhythmic in nature and repetitive enough to focus on self-movement without invasive melodies or lyrics to distract one’s mind. It must be fairly lengthy in duration, with the journey defined by the pulsing waves of emotional flow that guide the body’s movement. The music was not intended to be consumed while socialising, but as an aid to the internal journey into one’s soul. It is minimal, abstract, and atmospheric. As a result of these characteristics (or rather functionalities), their albums didn’t fit into any conventional styles at the time of their release in the early 80s. Theirs is a pure form of dance music that also shares many commonalities with ambient music in the modern context. Yet ambient music had yet to establish itself as a genre at the time despite the early efforts of Brian Eno while underground dance - the genre with which it shares many of its stylistic qualities - was yet to be born. Their releases were rarely appreciated outside of workshops. Between 1982 and 2008, Gabrielle and her husband Robert Ansell produced 16 original albums as Gabrielle Roth & The Mirrors. Robert brought together some of the best studio musicians that New York had to offer while his son Scott - who later became a Grammy-winning sound engineer - recorded and mixed all of their crystal clear productions.
Endless Waves Volume One was originally released on their own private label in 1996 on CD. Comprised of a selection of their past recordings, the first part acts as a seductive entry point into their rhythmic sound world, with Roth’s voice intoning gentle instructions over each track. The opener Body Parts commences with a series of rolling polyrhythmic beats to prepare the body for meditation. From there the music shifts through a series of ambient moods that evoke each of the ‘5Rhythm’ states of being. Atmospheric synths and stately violins combine to help ease into movement on Flowing. Didgeridoos and funky bass lines evoke masculine energy on Staccato before the tumbling rhythms of Chaos encourage the uninhibited release of one’s mind and body. The soft vocal harmonies of Lyrical help the listener towards a lighter, more fluid, and creative state of being creating a becalming state that continues with the deep ritualistic chants and languid drums of Stillness.
The second part of the album consists of a non-guided version of the same journey. Freshly recorded for the album’s release in 1996, the band deliver up an equally vital series of brilliantly realised rhythmic excursions. In the words of Gabrielle Roth: “I have found a language of patterns I can trust to deliver us into universal truths, truths older than time. In the rhythm of the body, we can trace our holiness, roots that go all the way back to zero. States of being where all identities dissolve into an eternal flow of energy. Energy moves in waves. Waves move in patterns. Patterns move in rhythms. A human being is just that, energy, waves, patterns, rhythms. Nothing more. Nothing less. A dance.”
Back with their first new album in 12 years, a confident and revitalised ACR jumped back into the studio following their most successful tour in over 20 years.
"ACR Loco feels like an accumulation of ACR's DNA from point zero in 1977 through to 2020 and sounds like a band who have effortlessly perfected their craft. An album to dance to, cry to, fall in love to and most importantly, to party to.
ACR Loco by the core ACR members Jez Kerr, Martin Moscrop and Donald Johnson, are joined by long term partners Tony Quigley, Denise Johnson and Matt Steele, plus special guests Sink Ya Teeth’s Maria Uzor and Gemma Cullingford, Factory Floor’s Gabe Gurnsey and Manchester luminaries Mike Joyce and Eric Random."
Fronted by New Zealander FInn Andrews, The Veils are like an indie rock UN, also boasting members from the UK and Germany. This is the band's third album, and (typical of third albums) it sounds like an ambitious affair, taking on a sweeping, often very grand sound that references Arcade Fire all over the place, whether that be on the epic 'The Letter' or the 'Crown Of Love'-inspired 'The House She Lived In'. Radiohead also get a bit of a nod, particularly on 'Killed By The Boom' which has a stab at the sort of 'Bangers & Mash' end of Yorke and co.'s output. Sun Gangs is a confident, intelligent album that pulls off indie grandiosity without sounding overblown or too pompous in the process. Recommended.
Broshuda outlines an anxious but lush ambience on his first LP for Soda Gong.
Steeped in the experimental electronic spirit and atmospheric mood that ties classic Berlin and European city music to its current waves of operators, ‘Contemplative Figuration’ defines Broshuda’s sound as a product of its environment; mapping aspects of late ’90s/early ‘00s glitch minimalism to more fractal, amorphous, semi-organic structures, each bumped with a K-likemlushness that will riddle listeners into the music’s textured topography.
Quietly glowing into being with the warbling synths and Mike Cooper-esque strums caught of ‘Kakigori’, the album folds in and around itself between chamber-like ambient dub of ‘Obj. Contraire’ feat. a vocaloid Elen Huynh, and free floating structures recalling Marina Rosenfeld’s work with Ben Vida in ‘Cypher’, whereas ‘Airlite DMV’ blushes with a MDMAde-up romantic pads, and ‘Leg’ shows his smart, low key beat chops a la some Yves Tumor aside, and the bullet-time dembow warp of ‘Pagoda’ feat. Guest input by Manta is the one for all the dancers.
Master of mysterious minimalism, Miki Yui helms the latest Hallow Ground with a beautifully poised and slow burning suite taking in deep-listening durational works and lighter, elusive sensations recalling Bellows and the oneiric seductions of Elodie.
Miki’s follow-up to a quietly acclaimed solo side for Cusp Editions, and her Realistic Monk collaboration with Carl Stone ‘Realm’ in 2018, ‘Aperio!’ Takes its title from the latin for ‘April’ and its original etymology, “to open” or “to reveal”, which works as a neat metaphor for the way her music revels in quiet nuance, and how it unfolds with an almost preternatural stealth.
Drawing on a related spectrum of strategies ranging from field recordings to synthesis and electro-acoustic processes, Miki’s music distills and crystallises a latent abstraction and oddness from physical experience and the “real” world into a series of warmly inviting, intimate scenes that gently trigger the imagination. The 10 minutes of rolling sinewaves in ‘Listening (oneness)’ summons comparison with Eliane Radigue’s enigmatic Arp process, while ‘Dancing (swamp)’ feels like music for an underwater lounge, and the fractured audity of ‘Dreaming (now)’ hits right on the waking/dreamlife sweet spot, along with the mesmerisingly precise tone poem of’ Rhyming (colours)’, and the Bellows-like low key otherworldliness of ‘Babbling’, whose sensitivities are coincidentally, perfectly brought to life in the mastering by Giuseppe Ielasi.
Ravishing, dream-like debut by Okkyung Lee’s chamber ensemble, placing a rarely paralleled instrumental guile and imagination at the service of Shelter Press’ beautiful series of carefully hand-picked editions.
Rendering Lee’s first recordings with the Yeo-Neun Quartet, an experimental chamber ensemble established in 2016 and also comprising Maeve Gilchrist (harp), Jacob Sacks (piano), and Eivind Opsvik (bass), ‘Yeo-Neun’ distills the multiplicities of Lee’s decades of solo and collaborative work and diffuses it thru her cello and fellow players to realise a radical mixture of contemporary classicism and fearless experimentation. It’s the ultimate example of Lee’s inimitably calm but unpredictable style, wrapping up myriad aspects of chamber, jazz and folk musics with sentimental melodies and melancholy touches that betray a core influence from the popular Korean ballads and emotive traditional forms of her youth.
Under a title that loosely translates to ’the gesture of an opening” in Korean, Yeo-Nuen is focussed on discretely lush arrangements, but prone to combust at noisy, avant angles that keep the album safely clear of concrete genre taxonomy. Lee and her ensemble work tightly within a broad set of sonic reference points, elegantly navigating the far flung cues she’s absorbed over decades of intensive touring schedules that have seen her play across the world with everyone from Mark Fell to Ellen Fullman, and appear on recordings by artists as diverse as Jenny Hval and Swans. In those contexts, Lee has developed preternaturally-heightened instincts for improvisation, but the recordings of ‘Yeo-Neun’ appear to consolidate this finely honed grasp of spontaneous combustion with a newly realised, stately feel for composition that’s at once calm and gripping.
Born of a life on the move, the music understandably helms to its own sense of time and pace and allows listeners into the rich inner life that sustains an artist on the road. Between the tender resignation of ‘here we are (once again)’, the Alice Coltrane-Like sweeps of ‘another old story’, the visceral tonal ruptures of ‘in stardust (for kang kyung-ok)’, and the enchanted vision of ‘facing your shadows’, it’s hardly felt more like a privilege to bear witness to an artist laying her soul bare, and so sharply articulate and express her sense of individuality and connection to the world. Frankly. it’s jaw-dropping stuff.
Kassem Mosse blesses Youth with a gorgeous ambient album under his Seltene Erden alias making up for a noticeable absence from the release schedule in recent years.
‘Scorched’ marks Mosse’s full solo debut with Youth after the ’Silica Gel’ cut on their ‘Sports’ CD in 2019. Reviving the Seltene Erden handle last used in 2011 on a 12 for Mule, the modern house auteur yields some of his most preciously melodic works to date, focussing his interests for retro-futuristic and otherworldly sounds into a form of crystalline, iridescent ambient that shimmers shades away from the likes of uon and Huerco S., the jazzier ambient END of Actress and ‘90s Move D, and the lushest Hassellian 4th World dimensions.
To be honest this is the sort of Kassem album we’ve wanted to hear for ages, seeing him leave the dance for dust and follow his nose into properly aetheric alternate head spaces, showing off that personalised, hybrid analogue/digital soundsphere and tactile design tekkers that we’ve come to love since his earliest turns in the ‘00s. He sucks us right in with the lush FM synth fronds of ‘Mythil Shard’ and, through enigmatic processes, keeps us there until the gravelly slosh of ‘Palestone’, via stunning pieces of GRM-like sound design in ‘Twinkling Titanite’, and the 0PN-like ‘Passage Jewel’, or the spiralling helixes of ‘Rising Core’ with a gripping sense of narration that marks this album, and him, out for soundtrack purposes.
All new compilation placing the spotlight on the Swiss experimental and electronic scene of the ‘80s and the early ‘90s. 'Intenta' assembles hidden gems, sought-after titles and newly mixed versions. It places leftfield synth-pop next to otherworldly jazz, and joins the dots between lyrical post-punk excursions and proto-house experimentation.
"The compilation covers a period of transition: When songs mutated into sounds. When synthesizers and samplers became the règle du jeu in DIY music-making. When a politicized youth movement slowly gave way to the hedonistic embrace of techno culture in Switzerland. Intenta mines the outer fringes of a scene yet to be. Many of these experimenters were pretty much on their own. Often the only way you would get in touch was at the local synth dealer.
A spirit of bold improvisation inhabited studios between Geneva and St. Gallen: these artists were articulating pop sensibilities (Air Project, Sky Bird, D-Sire, Peter Philippe Weiss), entering computer worlds (Claudine Chirac, Olivier Rogg, Carlos Perón), exploring exotic shores (Andreas Hofer, Bells of Kyoto, Fizzè), building future discothèques (Aborted at Line 6, Carol Rich, UnknownmiX) or finding glacial bliss (Dressed Up Animals, Elephant Château, I Suonatori).
The compilation was put together by Matthias Orsett and Maxi Fischer. Intenta unfolds as a sonic story that is laid-back yet energetic, sultry yet daring. The two crate diggers set out to meet with many of the artists arrayed here. Memories were shared, wine bottles opened. There were moments of sadness: Karl Lienert Löwenherz (Dressed Up Animals) and Claudius Scholer (Sky Bird) passed away during the making of this project. What remains of this journey into the backrooms of Swiss popular culture, is Intenta. If you listen closely, it will reveal a nation on the move. Beyond the Matterhorn, there is sweetness and light."
DJ Pete aka Substance knocks out two hammer trax in aid of Berlin’s Paloma club on the label set up to support the venue during the Corona Virus crisis
Trust they’re both belters, trotting out some proper marching tackle in the cold, twisted techno girder of ‘Gannets’, and stepping up a gear with the rictus EBM techno drive of ‘Grey Feather’ with its darkroom vocal and gnashing 909s. There’s hardly a better way to support the charmingly dinky Paloma, located above Kotti in X-Berg, than bagging one of these and getting your dancing clogs on.
Bunita Marcus is subject of a first vinyl release with her ‘Lecture For Jo Kondo’, written for Morton’s group, Feldman & Soloists and premiered in 1985, and now accompanied by a dramatic new David August deconstruction .
“Not a lecture in the literal or recognisable sense, the piece is dedicated to the Japanese composer Jo Kondo, who was a friend and exchanger-of-ideas with Marcus. “I think it is a demonstration of the serial patterning I developed by being inspired by his Kondo's ‘Standing’ and how that just messes with your mind”, says Bunita, adding the following:
“’Lecture For Jo Kondo’ was conceived as an instrumental work. The voice part is just another instrument – an optional instrument at that. This isn’t a work where I took a text and wrote music to it. I wrote the music, heard and sensed a speaking part, but it took me a few years to get text that worked in this context. I met the Nico Vassilakis and got to love his work, so I added a speaking part using excerpts from his poem ‘Lowered and Illuminated.’
Musically and compositionally innovative, LFJK? is one of the first works to use consonance in the second half of the 20th century that was not tonal. It also introduces the idea of serialism as an aspect of neuroscience: “This is something that Jo and I had in common. This piece is based in complex theories I am calling ‘serialism’ and showing how Repetition + Mutation = Patterning. It is this patterning that is the basis of musical language and thought”, explains Marcus.
Taking listeners into a sound space unlike any they’ve been to before, the 20 plus minute piece is both dissonant and beautiful. The prominent broad strokes of LFJK are an alternating exchange between Bunita’s voice performance and Adapter Ensemble’s sound clusters, where a repetitive violin refrain at the fore is joined by flute, percussion and piano.
99Chants label owner and notable electronic musician David August provides a more machine-based deconstruction, changing most of the instrumentation and sound design, but maintaining the same narrative. He transports the listener through different environments, all equally connecting to Bunita’s voice, but changing the point of view. Within the release’s illuminating artwork is August’s visual score for his version, where traditional notation is replaced by a Kandinsky-esque abstract diagram.”
Following last year's excellent Heretic Pride, John Darnielle gets Biblical with The Life Of The World To Come, an album (the 17th studio long-player by The Mountain Goats) where each track takes its title from a passage in the Bible. Don't worry heathens - there's really no need to run off, clutching your Richard Dawkins books, there's no belligerent dogmatism on offer here, although Darnielle teasingly bills the album as being "about 12 hard lessons that the Bible taught you". In fact this is an album on which Darnielle spins his own, often very personal yarns that somehow thematically tie into the verses listed in the song titles. The most immediately striking example of this songwriting strategy is third track 'Genesis 3: 23', a comparatively hard-rocking number (well, all things are relative) whose chorus brings to mind an on-form REM. Here, and at a good many other points during the course of the album, Darnielle calls upon the bolstering of an arrangement from additional musicians. So often in the past The Mountain Goats had been a predominantly solitary pursuit, but as is in-keeping with Heretic Pride's reinforcement from the likes of John Vanderslice and St. Vincent's Annie Clark, here Darnielle recruits cohorts like Final Fantasy's Owen Pallett (on string arrangement duties) as well as producers such as Scott Solter and John Congleton. As is ever the case with this man's records, lyrically the material is captivatingly brilliant while the musical arrangements tend to play second fiddle (that's not a snipe at Pallett's contribution, incidentally) being somewhat less immediate and snappy in their appeal. That's not to say the songwriting isn't a complete package though; Darnielle's always ready to cram his ideas into conveniently chorus-shaped pockets - something very nicely illustrated by '1 John 4: 16', for example - but these are songs that warrant a listener's close attention in order to reveal the fullness of their insights. Highly recommended.
In a music industry that's becoming increasingly fixated on overnight, flavour-of-the-month success stories and general disposability, it can only be regarded as a great positive that The National are a band whose appeal continues to grow after some ten years of recording together. Despite not being the fresh-faced pups normally required to cause such a stir, High Violet is one of 2010's most talked about and anticipated albums, following on from the massively acclaimed Alligator (2005) and Boxer (2007). The lead-up single 'Bloodbuzz Ohio' previewed the impressive sense of scale this band aim for, and subtly, throughout High Violet they adorn their already very expressive core sound with orchestration (some of which is arranged by Nico Muhly) and big-name guest spots from the likes of Sufjan Stevens, Bon Iver's Justin Vernon and Richie Reed Parry of Arcade Fire fame. None of this detracts or distracts from the continuity and general magnificence of the album, which seems to serve up highlight after highlight: if opener 'Terrible Love' sets the bar awfully high as a first track, 'Sorrow' and the stunning 'Anyone's Ghost' see the standard rising ever higher - seldom has an album's opening fifteen minutes so persistently threatened to raise the hairs on the back of your neck. In a sense - and I urge you not to be put off by such statements - The National are the very thing that Coldplay would probably most love to be. Here is a band unafraid of making big, emotive, ambitious music that treats its audience to grand choruses and guitars that stay just the right side of stadium-rock, all the while preserving a just-enigmatic-enough indie persona so as not to stray into outright schmaltz. If all that sounds a tad calculated, well it's probably not an entirely fair portrait of The National, but somehow they do manage to pull off the trick of sounding like a band for all people at all times in a way that steers clear of wince-inducing cliche or populist hysterics. Whilst coming across as eminently intelligent and credible, you could imagine festival circuit live renderings of 'Conversation 16' and 'England' making U2 sound like Thee Oh Sees. There's considerable depth behind all this cosmetic bombast, however, and High Violet quickly proves itself worthy of the not inconsiderable press attention that has already been afforded it. This is one of the big, 'event' albums of the 2010, and actually, most likely it'll also prove to be one of the year's finest.
'Clouds' is a perfectly measured suite of warm and hazy downbeats from Gigi Masin, Marco Sterk (Young Marco), and Johnny Nash recorded in the heart of Amsterdam's red light district over one weekend in April, 2014.
It's all about louche vibes and glowing notes, gently absorbing and transducing the buzz of the streets outside the studio's open windows into eight elegantly reserved improvisations segueing between lush ambient drift, dub-wise solo piano pieces, and chiming late night jazz patter. In that sense, there's striking similarities between 'Clouds' and the recent Sky Walking album by Lawrence and co., but where they really go for the looseness, Gaussian Curve keep it supple yet tight, bordering on adult contemporary suaveness anointed with finest hash oil. Imbibe slowly.
One of the stranger press campaigns in recent years has found this lot's high school being name-dropped in every single review of their work. Not one to buck a trend, here's my contribution to the art of paraphrasing a press release: the XX are a quartet who got together at London's Elliot School back in 2005, the very institution that gave rise to those other great hype-vessels, Burial, Four Tet and Hot Chip. Notably, The XX sound nothing like any of those acts - and nor for that matter do those acts really sound anything like each other - but it's a pattern that's conducive to you possibly thinking there might be something a bit special in the school milk round those parts. After an 'Intro' that makes them sound like a Make Mine Music band, 'VCR' and 'Crystalised' properly introduce this record's stripped, icy aesthetic. These tracks build up to XX's first real peak: 'Islands' condenses this young band's art very nicely, encapsulating the chic sparseness of their guitars vs. MPC aesthetic, bringing their sound in from the cold and fully embracing the power of pop. Part of the album's success as a flowing body of work comes from its dalliances with pace-breaking tracks like 'Fantasy', which hops on the current trend for heavy-duty sidechained compression antics and lays down a throb of soaring ambience that cuts the record in half, setting up the echoing guitars and flotation dynamics of 'Shelter' before the band's calling card 'Basic Space' (held off until track 8) rears its head and reminds you what this lot are capable of at the top of their form. It's a sleek and sultry piece of stealth-pop minimalism that thrives on the boy-girl duet dynamics of vocalists Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim. One of the year's more understated buzz-band debuts, XX comes with a hearty recommendation.
Rare studio recording of singular guitarist Tashi Dorji improvising in his maverick vernacular of American-Bhutanese blues - a must check if you like Keiji Haino, Derek Bailey, Cam Deas, Ben Chasny, Sir Richard Bishop.
Arriving after Dorji’s collaborations with everyone from Aaron Turner to Mette Rasmussen and C Spencer Yeh in recent years, the hugely versatile improviser is spotlighted solo with utterly captivating results in ‘Stateless’. Presented as an intensely emotive expression of the “confusion, rage, helplessness and resolve of an immigrant in America today” the recording witness Dorji take blues guitar back to its lyrically expressive roots as a voice of dispossessed people, reeling off a burning range of emotions from his flying fingertips that speak to his exceptional ability to conjure fleeting feelings, sustain or suspend disbelief, and remarkably change direction in the blink of an eye.
From the song titles to the unmistakably impassioned instrumental delivery, Dorji has a lot to say and does so in beguiling style ranging from flurries of quick witted barbs that sound like two guitarist duelling in the parts of ‘Refusal’, to a spellbinding quick/slow fusion of East and West sensibilities in ‘Statues Crumble, Heroes Fall’, and almost baroque, lilting figures that he puckers and twists out into stranger mutations on ‘The Swelling Fruit About to Shatter the Husk of the Old World’, always with a with a masterful balance of sparing precision and directness that holds listeners to a seat-edge intensity befitting of the album’s intentions.
Canny London label Laura Lies In pull together a class of 2020 portrait featuring screwballs from DJ Marcelle, James Marrs, Joe Beedles, Syncom Data, Tony Njoku and more
Spanning offset, earthy grooves and more abstract lines of thought, ‘LLI 008’speaks to the breadth of LLI’s activities since 2016, vacillating crafty oddities by previous label alumni with smart works by an expanded network of allies and new additions to the gang such as Manchester’s Joe Beedles and renowned DJ Marcelle in their producer role for one of the set’s strangest treats.
Introductions first; Simon Benjamin debuts with the grubbing slow techno sidewinder ‘Vera Boila’, and Africa 70 member Tony Njoku gets under the skin with his plaintive chamber soul piece ‘The Ghost That Escaped (Rework)’, where Vanessa follows in suit with the haunted ambient-pop drift of ‘Test’, and Copenhagen’s Astrid Sonne presents the folksy, Björk-like choral beauty ‘Strong, Calm, Slow’. Trust DJ Marcelle to follow their own nose for offbeat swing rhythms and drunken keys in ‘Of Course, Why Do You Ask’, and Joe Beedles tests out some dead slippery but razor sharp computer music tekkers.
Returning to the label’s embrace, Eben Bull follows action on the CVX side with the electro-dub ace ‘Geology’, contrasting neatly with Syncom Data’s scratchier styles in the same niche. James Marrs keeps it perplexing with some Hecker-esque vocal manipulations, and Tara Clerkin weaves flutes and tape into ribboning shapes on ‘The Reek’, all keeping the label’s remit wide open and serving a great entry point for anyone LLI curious listeners.
Self-generating composition ‘abtasten_halten’ finds Frank Bretschneider’s austere yet playful rhythmic minimalism at its most inventive, turning the sound of two VU meter needles into endlessly fascinating permutations via software and synth modules; an ideal candidate if we’ve ever heard one for Jan Jelinek’s Faitiche label.
“Frank Bretschneider on abtasten_halten: "abtasten_halten (sample_hold) is a largely self-generating composition for a modular synthesizer system. Self-generating here means that as soon as a current flows, the various modules interact, but within limits set by the composer via the connections between the modules (patches): timing, tempo, timbres, dynamics. These conditions are kept variable to a certain extent or left to chance, so that the composition created is always similar but never the same. On the one hand, the use of random generators opens up possibilities that would not otherwise have been considered. On the other, it offers the fascination of the unfinished and the unique: totally unexpected musical events that you might hear only once. abtasten_halten combines my preferences for percussive music in general and electronic music in particular. Largely avoiding repetitive structures, the piece is more like a free improvisation, quiet and diffuse, but also extremely dense, in ever-changing contrasts and transformations.
The tone generators are two modified VU meters whose needles, driven by trigger impulses, create a simple one-bar pattern by hitting against a metal spring that is connected to a piezo element. The tempo is continuously varied over a period of about ten minutes by several mutually modulating LFOs, ranging from about 0.06 Hz up to the lower audio range of about 18Hz. The percussive sounds thus obtained are then passed through low-pass filters with moderate resonance and random frequency modulation to additionally color the sound. Further processing is then executed by an echo module whose tempo and repetitions are again determined by random parameters. Finally, the audio signal is occasionally enriched with reverb to add more spaciousness to the sound."
A companion piece of sorts to his recent, brilliant 'Field Recording and Fox Spirits’ tableaux of magic-realist location recordings, 'Apparition Paintings’ is an ambitious, sprawling new album from David Toop, at this point 50-years deep into a career that his seen him explore constantly shifting musical topographies, as well as work as a researcher, writer and critic. It’s an ambitious and restless work, featuring contributions from Áine O’Dwyer, Rie Nakajima, Paul Burwell and Elaine Mitchener among others, and shifts from a sort of skewed Fourth World ambient to atomised jazz-fusion and country-folk with curiously plasmic results.
"Don’t ask me about genre or consistency. Who cares?” says Toop - and of course we don’t, and you shouldn’t - especially at this precise moment in time. What you get here is a personal narrative mapped out on the back of Toop's eyelids, one moment reminding us of Eiko Ishibashi’s recent folklore masterpiece Hyakki Yagyo, before retreating down a mazy Gamelan wormhole, into shimmering chorus-pedal dreampop, Laswellian fusion and concrète abstractions - without flinching.
"Half the world is drowning; the other half is in flames. Each story is an animal, a plant, something you drink, a surface you touch, a faint line, some memory emanating from a cardboard box. “’Things’ in themselves are only events that for a while are monotonous,” wrote Carlo Rovelli in The Order of Time. Maybe sounds are melting ‘things’, tired of the monotonous real.”
Most of Lyon’s musical scene is composed of men originating from eastern Algeria, but since the 1950s, the Croix-Rousse and Guillotière cafés have counted musicians from all over Maghreb.
"These cafés were social hubs, where these individuals met up weekly, playing together and sharing their everyday life experience —but they also had a major role in the development of popular music of French-based North Africans. In Lyon, Le But Café in the 3rd arrondissement or the bars on Sébastien Gryphe Street in the 7th arrondissement were among these: one could conduct business there, getting booked for a wedding, a baptism, a gala, or a studio session... all took place there.
Playing together in Lyon. The practice of music was cross-regional with different North African influences, but also with local traditions. These versatile musicians also absorbed new local influences: music within the context of immigra- tion was a perfect school for musical cosmopolitanism. Chachacha or tango versions of some Cheikh El Hasnaoui tracks come to mind, or Mohamed Mazouni’s jerks and twists. Like their predecessors, the musicians in this compilation brilliantly integrate raï or staïfi tunes with disco aesthetics or funk guitar riffs as Nordine Staifi did. You could also think of Salah El Annabi who used the “ Oxygene ” theme (1976) by Jean-Michel Jarre, the Lyon-based composer and electronic music pioneer. “As we say around here, mixed weddings make good-looking lads!” said Abbès Hamou, a musician from Place du Pont. Following on from their musical traditions and unrestrained inventiveness, the musicians’ repertoire naturally assimilated their era’s aesthetics and technologies."
Hugely playful 2nd album of pop intricacies from Moscow’s Kate NV, chasing up her 2018 debut for RVNG Intl with a devilishly detailed batch touching on ‘80s Japanese pop, Kate Bush’s dream-pop, jazz-fusion and kosmiche ambient
Not wasting a second on bad energies, ‘Room for the Moon’ is brimming with utopian pop spunk and nanoscopic levels of production detail that add up to a delightful definitive portrait of an artist in her creative prime.
From the YMO-esque rhythmic froth and digitally-dubbed prism of ‘Not Not Not’, thru what sounds like Visible Cloaks jamming with Lifted in ‘Du Nu’, to the swirling raga-like arps of ‘Tea (Full Cup Version)’, its tangier partner ‘Lu Na’, and the Radiophonic-esque ambient pop baubles of ‘If Anyone’s Sleepy’, this alum deserves the ears of pop lovers as much as those who can see the link between pop music and the filigree crafted structures of Beatrice Dillon.
…And the earth crack'd to reveal Scott Walker & Sunn 0)))'s colossal offspring 'Soused' in its riveting, tragic glory.
Four years on from their intended collaboration in 'Monoliths & Dimensions', the arch avant-crooner meets the robed duo (and Tos Nieuwenhuizen) at the apex of their powers, presenting a peerless, operatic vision of doom metal informed as much by Native American history and the underground US psyche as experimental jazz and electronic dynamics. We can safely say it matches and surpasses our high expectations of the project, offering a complex, widescreen portal to a chiaroscuro world slashed in black by Anderson and O'Malley and illuminated by Walker's range of possessed vocal personas, from anguished despair to internal torment and shocking convulsions.
Embarking over the bull-whipped Moog bass momentum and banking riffs of 'Brando', Walker is a disturbing yet utterly compelling presence enticing us to cross thresholds into the arcane, uncanny worlds animated by Sunn 0))), whether projecting across the molasses drone trudge of 'Bull' or alternately wilting and lashing out from the percussive attacks and abyssal tar pits of 'Herod 2014'. By 4th song 'Fetish' their path has narrowed to a 'marish corridor of re-amped synth ghouls and spectral noise before distant drums abort the pregnant drones somewhere in the final third, for closing shot, 'Lullaby' to emulsify their unheimlich resolution at its most dramatic, synth-fired and intimate. It's a genuinely remarkable session, surely one of 2014's best.
A manifesto for possible future music from François J. Bonnet, aka Kassel Jaeger, director of the GRM.
"This is not a study. It is a manifesto for a peculiar conviction: that music remains to be discovered, that it is still hidden. That, nonetheless, it does sometimes appear, but most often incompletely and unevenly. And that what we have hitherto referred to as “music” is in fact only a preliminary, a prodrome.
That all musics produced up until now have been nothing but simulacra, rituals to call music forth. This may sound crazy, and indeed unwelcome. But the sole concern of the following text will be to make this statement legible, understandable, and perhaps even to some extent acceptable. Its hope is that, setting out from a few intuitions, the possibility of a music to come can be formulated. That this obscure becoming will emerge, one trait at a time; that the shape of this music to come will reveal itself, gradually, by way of a cluster of assumptions, the reading of a multiple history, and the examination of damaging paradigms that have taken music far from itself.
That the subjectivity of a writing, with all of its beliefs, its errors, its biases, its injustices and its shaky certainties, may yet manage to cast a singular and inspiring light upon the idea of music—this, ultimately, is the ambition of the lines to come."
Richard Skelton's latest transmission finds the reclusive artist ditching the mournful string drones of his last run of releases and embracing chilly, distorted electronics that should appeal to anyone into Yellow Swans, Alessandro Cortini, Johann Johannsson or Ryuichi Sakamoto's "Async".
It's hard to believe it's been almost a decade since Skelton's last vinyl release. "These Charms May Be Sung Over A Wound" follows a slew of regular drops on Skelton's own Aeolian imprint and moves in a decidedly fresh direction, ditching the acoustic instrumentation that has grounded the majority of his catalog. His last few releases (notably "LASTGLACIALMAXIMUM" and "The Oracle Bone") have explored darker sonic spaces, but have continued his obsession with bowed string drones, muddying them with eerie distortion and field recordings. Here though, Skelton has both feet fully in the electronic realm, layering overdriven synth tones to offer a sensitive, evocative foil to Lawrence English or Ben Frost's grandstanding "power ambient".
The ambience is powerful, certainly, but that strength emerges from the emotional content and the mere suggestion of gravitas. Without acoustic instrumentation, his familiar signature is a ghost that materializes in amongst analog sizzles and thick, oscillating bass tones. Waves of white noise and the occasional doomed hit of a kick drum echoes Yellow Swans' towering masterpiece "Going Places", but Skelton's vision is sparser and more anxious, distant and heavy.
Based in the valleys of the Scottish borders, Skelton translates his relative isolation from contemporary society into soundscapes that are almost futuristic, but lack the clutter of deconstructed club or awkward posturing of concept-heavy festival drone. His idea of the future sounds closer to Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky's visionary "Stalker" - seemingly out of time and out of place, with an eerie sense that the rapidly-shifting realty of the present is even more precarious than we care to realize.
"These Charms May Be Sung Over A Wound" feels like a potent reflection on a time of global isolation, societal collapse and the confusion of many potential futures, but chooses not to weigh us down with any kind of assertion. Rather, we are invited to project our own anxieties onto the album's groaning dreamworld.
Highest grade ‘80s/early ‘90s post-punk weirdness from Stano, reaping highlights of his five LPs in a necessary retrospective - highly recommended to fans of his collaborators Michael O’Shea and Roger Doyle, and even Planxty and My Bloody Valentine, who both contribute…
“Following on from our 2018 repress of his debut album “Content to Write in I Dine Weathercraft “ we’re delighted to present an Anthology of Stano’s productions spanning the start of his solo career in 1982 to his 1994 “Wreckage” LP. Featuring 18 tracks from the five LPs he released in that time span on double vinyl with extensive liner notes, it is a comprehensive look at one of Ireland’s more enigmatic musical characters.
A member of the legendary punk / post-punk group The Threat which disbanded after lead singer Maurice Foley disappeared to join the Hare Krishnas, he had set up his outsider stall early on. The Threat had Stano on synths, one of the first female bassists in Deirdre Creed and their debut single was produced by progressive trad musician Donal Lunny of Planxty. Stano’s solo career of improvised electronic music continued in this vein of the unexpected – sitting outside both the country’s mainstream and alternative rock scenes.
An indigenous musical industry with few resources even at the top level – studios, labels and venues being scarce – and with few of the cross water big independent acts venturing over the Irish sea to play Dublin in the early 80s, it was an isolated place where due to its intimate size the more traditional rock bands nestled in close proximity to the few electronic acts. News travelled through a small scene via fanzines such as the influential Vox, which was associated with Stano publishing his poetry and releasing his debut 45 « Room », the Peel & Fanning shows of course and the newly established Freebird records.
Eschewing both live performance and the spotlight for studio collaborations he worked with a number of Irish musicians - Roger Doyle, Michael O Shea, Daniel Figgis, My Bloody Valentine - and following the debut on local rock label Scoff records he signed to German experimental label Dossier where a further two LPs – 1986’s The Protagonist 28 Nein and Daphne Will Be Born Again the following year - were released. Signing to U2’s Mother records, he released their first Long player “Only” on the label which garnered praise from the UK music press including LP of the week in The Guardian. The final LP of this anthology featuring collaborations with Colm O'Coisoig of My Bloody Valentine "Wreckage" was released on Independent label Hue Records in 1994.”
Featuring a cover photo by the cult NYC street photographer, Richard Sandler - the first in a series.
"Straight from the depths of the burgeoning Austin, Texas weirdo scene, JT Whitfield delivers a six track mini-lp for L.I.E.S. after an impressive run of releases for Chondritic Sound. Whitfield follows suit where he left off on his cut from last years Eminent Domain comp. with absolutely punishing slow beatdriven industrial electronics. This is for true fans of metal on metal music as these tracks desperately plod and grind, ripping apart everything in sight. The appropriate soundtrack to endtimes."
‘Music From Memory’ sets sail with a compilation of lo-‐fi beach funk and lazy synth jams from the Rhode Island keyboardist and ocean loving Leon Lowman.
"As well as a devoted painter and surfer of the East Coast, the synthesizer loving Lowman privately released two albums “Syntheseas” (1980) and it’s follow up cassette only “Sound Horizon” (1982). Something of a homage to his love of the local seashore and the women he was trying to woo there, the albums also express Leon's pure love of the synthesizer sound and reflect his unique melodic wanderings. With Leon's albums meeting little commercial success at the time of there release, both albums have in recent years become highly sought after. Along with previously unreleased material from the time, “Liquid Diamonds‘ highlights Leon Lowman's unique blend of low fi synth funk and surf ambience."
After the Texan band's hugely enjoyable In The Red album from last year, The Strange Boys return with the superb 'Be Brave', a timeless slice of garagey rock & roll that takes the riotous spirit of a band like Black Lips and takes it back fifty years or so and adds a sax solo. Tremendous.
The title of guitarist Barry Cleveland’s 1986 album - Stones of Precious Water - conjures images of incandescent gems, harvested from hallowed streams and held aloft to glimmer and catch the light in their many facets. And perhaps this is the truest analogue for the music contained therein. Recorded between 1981 and 1983, in mostly improvised recording sessions, the disparate nature of Stones’ creation is alluded to only by the breadth and variety of sounds it encompasses. Stones of Precious Water is a revelatory collection that maps its way through textural fourthworld ambience, shimmering New Age, gently propulsive kosmiche, and jazzinflected prog. These sounds are sewn together with a deftness of performance and sonic character which reveals them as branches of the same tree, or perhaps more appropriately, a handful of glittering stones.
"Six of the ten tracks contain contributions from Kat Epple and her late husband Bob Stohl (a.k.a the epoch-defining New Age duo, Emerald Web), adding flute, synthesizers, and bells. Between the years of 1981 and 1983, Cleveland worked with this duo and alone, allowing serendipity to play a significant creative role in their music. Many of the pieces began as improvisations, or simple structures that served as springboards for deeper exploration. Making his first forays into multi-track recording, Cleveland used a basic Teac 4-track cassette recorder, and this rudimentary piece of equipment proved to be a useful tool for compositional exploration. By flipping and reversing the tape, slowing the pitch, and altering and layering different performances, Cleveland stretched the sound of his guitar across the expanse of the tonal canvas.
Stones of Precious Water stands as a remarkable document of experimental selfrecording, improvisational collaboration, and restless creative expression. Morning Trip is exceedingly happy to release it on Vinyl LP for the first time."
Steeply absorbing solo debut of smoky free improvisation, reverberating between ECM-like jazz/classical and electro-acoustic dimensions for the ideal home of such enigmatic stuff; Oren Ambarchi’s Black Truffle.
‘Ashioto’ extends an immersive introduction to the solo work of Japanese drummer/percussionist/composer Tatsuhiro Yamamoto following a decade of collaborations with notables including Jim O’Rourke, Eiko Ishibashi, Phew, and Arve Henriksen. Fitting the rarified criteria of Black Truffle’s snuffling service, Yamamoto’s first dolo mission is riddled with the sort of oneiric magick we’ve come to expect from this label, dilating the mind’s eye from the pineal peal of gamelan to sweeping Jazz-fusion breaks and dead strung-out, end-of-rope jazz blues and ‘marish organ swells with a masterful narrative sleight of hand.
The devil lies in the detail of ‘Ashioto’, and in the way that Yamamoto transitions between distinct section via various strategies. In the first section his hypnotic and softly reverberant golden ripples of gamelan precipitate deeply sweeping but in-the-pocket breakbeat roil with subconscious stealth, almost comparable to a canny DJ transition. But the mood persistently shifts like a localised weather system, ultimately drawing in and overcast with a starkly autumnal appeal that he doubles down on the B-side, where the drums total recede to present a play of tonal ghosts slipping like laminal plasma with Daisuke Fujiwara’s oozing sax and coming to suggest a late night avant-garde sexiness that culminates into a beastly Lynchian nightmare with cataclysmic, feral noise recalling Gruppo via Jim O’Rourke. Magic.
Remastered & Re-Edited & Remixed versions of the ‘Quare Groove’ classic first released on the group's own Feral Records imprint in Ireland in 1985.
"Originally inspired by Con O Laoghaire,s trip to Carnival in Trinidad ‘where a woman told me she would see me later at a fete when she was looking ‘Hot and Sexable’’. This is the full vocal version sung by Denise Keogh. As well as an extended club mix of the original, the set feature three other versions, all are reimagined by Morgan Buckley (Wah Wah Wino / No 'Label') using source stems from the original 1985 master lacquer and multitrack tapes courtesy of Windmill Lane Studios."
In May 2018, Jaimie Branch took up a month-long residency in the shipping container-turned-recording studio at Pioneer Works, an arts center down the street from her home in Red Hook, Brooklyn. She called up Jason Nazary, and he rolled by the studio loaded with acoustic drums, electronic triggers, modular FX unit, synths, sequencers, and a myriad of processors. Branch engineered the sessions, and brought her rig to the table: trumpet, synths, delay/looper pedal, auxiliary percussion, and a Roland TR08 drum machine. They did what they always do — rolled tape and started from nothing.
"In the Fall of 2019, they set out for the “Ante-Myths Sonic Projections Tour” that took them across the US alongside DC duo Blacks’ Myths. For the journey, they self-produced a super limited-edition tour tape, Tour Beats Vol. 1, which features recordings from those Pioneer Works sessions.
For Summer 2020, International Anthem is proud to re-present Anteloper’s Tour Beats Vol. 1 on 45RPM 12” vinyl in a package featuring artwork by Branch, photos by Richard Ross, and liner notes as poem, again, by Rob Mazurek..."