Tim Hecker had proven himself to be one of the great survivors of 90s electronic music. While he might have only surfaced at the tail-end of the ailing IDM scene, Hecker’s distinctly original brand of rich, textured ambient music set him apart from his peers.
Many have tried to emulate his sound, but few have come close, and while he peaked with the punishingly noisy and effortlessly beautiful ‘Mirages’ a few years back, his subsequent flirtations with a quieter, more meditative sound have been similarly arresting.
Unusually, ‘Ravedeath, 1972’ sees Hecker moving away from his comfort zone and collaborating with one of the very people who attempted a second-wave of the Hecker grit, grind and harmony – Ben Frost. This is a move which saw Hecker up sticks and fly over to Iceland, where he proceeded to record the album over a handful of days using a pipe organ. Frost clearly adds some of his production expertise (he moonlights as an engineer) and with this there can be no doubt that ‘Ravedeath,1972’ is the most hi-fi album in Tim Hecker’s discography to date.
The sound that Hecker has made his own is now reproduced in High Definition, billowing with basses dribbling and treble firing with slick precision. The powerful pipe organ sound underpins everything; coughing, wheezing and stuttering beneath Hecker’s expertly crafted granular sounds like the ghost of the Catholic church itself.
At times it might simply appear in amongst a cloud of white noise, and at others there is only the familiar shadowy blast, shrouded in the trappings of morals and dogma. Pitting his knowledge and skill against that of Ben Frost has yielded an album’s worth of crushing, near-spiritual sound, making for a compelling, immersive listen. Highly Recommended.
Not a band who ever do things by halves, this opus from Stars Of The Lid is a mammoth three disc set and is sublime for the entire duration.
You see, although some might level that Adam Wiltzie and Brian McBride have really stuck to the same style since their inception, they have been moving steadily forward with each release and have gone from whispering post-shoegaze guitar drones to something altogether more grandiose.
It would be crass to describe the music as cinematic, but the first thing that strikes me about "And their Refinement of the Decline' is its similarity to the work of Zbigniew Preisner and specifically his work with film director Krzysztof Kieslowski. Stars of the Lid share Preisner's (and Kieslowski's) sense of restraint, minimalism and stark beauty without resorting to sentimentalism. What we have here is beautiful music in its rawest form - horns, strings and that haunting reverb-drenched guitar all perfectly placed and allowed time to breathe. Nothing here is rushed, you hear passages rise and fall gloriously, sounds make an entrance and slowly disappear and nothing ever dares to outstay its welcome.
Arvo Part, Gavin Bryars or Brian Eno would all be more than appropriate comparisons for this stunning collection of work, but Stars of the Lid are almost at the point where they defy comparison altogether. Of course they have introduced further, more overtly 'classical' elements into their mix but the music they are making is quite uniquely their own - they are one of those rare bands that has absolutely defined a sound. What we are hearing is frankly two musicians who are at the top of their game, sharing their carefully measured view of the world with us and allowing us a peek into musical perfection - and you really can't ask for anything more than that.
Physical Therapy's Allergy Season introduce a fine turn from Max McFerren and Blondes with 'Monk's Mood' arriving in the wake of his 12"s for Ultimate Hits and 1080p.
It's a melancholy party session; coaxing us into swanging house mode with the siren vox and sloping subs of 'Hunting' before giving us something to dance to with the crooked syncopation and swaying harmonics of 'Monk's Mood'.
'With All My Sophistications' ratchets an old skool acid techno on the other side hearkening back to Josh Wink and AFx with a sly wink, leaving Blondes Sam Haar and Zach Steinman to extract and condense an even darker, tripping vibe from the elements of 'Hunting'.
Tim Hecker has established himself as one of the foremost electronic producers around, having released classics like Radio Amor and Harmony In Ultraviolet under his own name whilst busying himself with his Jetone side project and a recently founded collaborative venture with Aidan Baker (check out the excellent Fantasma Parastasie album from a few months back).
An Imaginary Country is another solid example of swirling textures and elusive auditory weirdness. The key to Hecker's unique sound is his uncanny knack for pushing sound mixes to breaking point without ever quite launching into all out distortion. Instead there's an uneasy equilibrium established on the divide between chaos and serenity - part noise album, part ambient exercise.
Even in the most ferocious moments of An Imaginary Country ('Where Shadows Make Shadows' and '200 Years Ago) there's always an underlying emotional pull guiding your ears through the typhoon of overtones and feedback signals. Pieces like 'Borderlands' offer subdued clarity, permitting a certain amount of melodically-engaged calm between the more effervescent compositions:
'A Stop At The Chord Cascades' is majestic and imposing, while elsewhere 'The Inner Shore' and 'Paragon Point' overspill with harmonically entangled activity. An Imaginary Country finds Hecker building on the momentum established by prior releases, continuing to forge a path that's all his own.
Listening to this latest album from Liz Harris’ Grouper project it’s easy to forget how much of a hard sell her music was back when 'Way Their Crept’ landed with us back in 2005.
Her eerie, layered mix of bare vocals, guitar and tape delay didn't quite fit in with what anyone else was really doing on the scene back then - and it completely knocked us out even if no one was buying it. By the time her breakthrough ‘Dragging a Dead Deer…’ arrived on Type three years later she was more or less playing to a baying mob hungry for any little morsel she cared to throw their way, her (by now) more fleshed out shoegaze variants marking her out as a natural outsider who had managed to tap into some kind of collective melancholy, her songs both hugely affecting and yet somehow emotionally opaque. Last year’s 'The Man Who Died In His Boat’ collected previously unreleased material from the ‘Dead Deer’ era and, despite it essentially being an assembly of offcuts, still managed to sound as coherent and bewitching as any of her ardent followers might have imagined. ‘Ruins’ is Harris' first new album proper in several years and - to no one’s surprise - is just utterly sublime.
The opening and closing tracks excepted, Harris’ instrument of choice here is the upright Piano, delivering a sequence of songs that feel utterly bereft and lonely, intended by Harris as “...a document. A nod to that daily walk. Failed structures. Living in the remains of love.” There are also found sounds (you can here a microwave switching itself back on after a powercut in the background), and the room recordings lend an effervescent quality to the recordings that somehow magnify the sense of timelessness. ‘Ruins' is book-ended by two instrumental pieces, the pulsating field recorded opener ‘Made of Metal’ and the 11 minute closer ‘Made of Air’, an instrumental, ambient piece recorded at her mother's house way back in 2004. Together, these tracks make for another sublime 40 minutes spent in Liz Harris’ company, a precious distraction from the clutter and noise of the outside world.
Exquisite hyaline electronics from the quieter ends of Kevin Drumm’s mind.
“Five sequentially numbered pieces of phantom electronics, preceded by an opener/overture that pulls you right in, appropriately entitled Intro. An aural investigation, down the rabbit hole. This is KD to the bone. Essential.”
While the filtered, tape-fuelled obfuscation of Grouper's signature sound remains, Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill is far more resonant up front about the songs at the heart of her work.
Opening track 'Disengaged' offers a segue from the cloudy, amorphous Grouper output of old and this current strain of more easily deciphered writing: it's a mass of mesmerising magnetic hiss and soft noise, with a voice cloaked in lo-fi haze somewhere at the back. Soon after, Harris' guitar and voice emerge, reverberant and phantom-like, and yet comprehensible.
If previously you've struggled to make out Grouper lyrics, and wondered what's going on beneath that veneer of musty, degraded audio, 'Heavy Water/I'd Rather Be Sleeping' offers you a way in. Those dense recording techniques have become a unique production signature and it's virtually impossible to separate Liz Harris' creative identity from that uniquely ghostly sound of hers, but now it feels like a conduit to her songs rather than a barrier. There are echoes of her earliest work on the album too, as on the wordless, partially acappella atmospherics of 'Wind & Snow', but the overall impression left by this album is one of inspired creative renewal, and the unveiling of a songwriting talent that's previously been content to dwell in shadows and deflect attention with smoke and mirrors.
A real milestone release for Harris, and a definite high point for the rejuvenated Type label, we've been unable to stop listening to this incredible album for weeks - it's an absolute must.
Room40 pair two much-loved and out-of-print Tim Hecker pieces on vinyl to mark the label's 15th year of editions and events.
The A-side finds Tim bunkered in the mine shaft at Sweden's Norberg festival on July 30th, 2005, where he coaxes out some 20 minutes of pealing chimes and reverberant cacophony making intrinsic use of the space's natural acoustics. After 10 years, thankfully 'Norberg' makes its first appearance on vinyl here.
On the other side we find the succinctly emotive eight minutes of 'Apondalifa', presenting its frayed ribbon of oxidising strings and electronics in its entirety for the first time (it was previously broken in two parts over a 7" in 2010).
If you're only familiar with Tim's better known work, this is a perfect stopgap in lieu of a new LP. Highly recommended!
Jeff Parker is a member of the genre-splitting outfit Tortoise and has also played in the Chicago Underground Quartet/Trio, as well as the fusion leaning Isotope 217.
Parker is one independent jazz's most in-demand guitarists He is widely considered it's most versatile guitarist and is gigging constantly throughout the world. The Relatives is Jeff Parker's first solo record on Thrill Jockey, but his second solo record to date. The first was released on legendary Blues and Jazz label, Delmark.
This is a gorgeous record, opening up with the wondrous "Istanbul", most reminiscent of the backing to Sam Prekop's amazing self titled debut album. Although the jazz sequencing here is often the central focus, there's enough of the quiet post rock tradition to remind you of Jeff's dayjob - something that imbues this album with the cross-generic appeal Thrill Jockey so often excel at.
For his sixth album Tim Hecker sticks to more organic, muted colours.
It's a sign of creative maturity and marks a welcome move away from the Fennesz-style layered glitchscapes that have dominated his back-catalogue. It's hard to tell exactly how these drone tapestries are woven together; the granular laptop trickery of old is virtually undetectable and the source instruments detuned and dissolved to the point of blissful obscurity.
Opening with the elegiac strains of 'Rainbow Blood', Hecker eases the listener into his melancholy new sound-world before launching into the curiously titled, 'Stags, Aircraft, Kings and Secretaries' with a flickering percussive urgency. Somewhere within the digital fog you can just about discern the occasional glisten of guitar strings.
Next up is 'Chimeras', its slow motion synth arpeggios providing a rare glimpse of overt melodicism, a property which, though ever-present on this album, tends to be restrained - even buried.
That said, filtered and faded as they may be, Hecker's compositions always manage to reveal an emotive core beneath the static. You can understand why Kranky snapped up Tim Hecker: Harmony In Ultraviolet sits comfortably next to material by the likes of Keith Fullerton Whitman, Stars Of The Lid and Loscil, while retaining Hecker's unmistakeable trademarks, that minor key grandeur atop relentless waves of crumbling sonic detritus.
Following a series of impossible-to-obtain releases for her own Yellowelectric imprint and a CD compilation of her gorgeous 'A I A' set, Liz Harris seems to have settled with Kranky who are re-releasing her classic Type album 'Dragging a Dead Deer..' and this new album of previously unreleased material drawn from the same period: 'The Man Who Died In His Boat'.
It's not so hard to believe but we'll say this straight away - the material on this new set is just jaw-dropping, a worthy companion piece to 'Dragging a Dead Deer' - once again finding Harris delivering material edging ever so slightly towards more traditional 'songs' but executed with so much introspection and mystery that she really sounds unlike anyone, or anything, you'll have ever heard before. The record has an interesting backstory, as Harris explains - "When I was a teenager the wreckage of a sailboat washed up on the shore of Agate Beach.
The remains of the vessel weren't removed for several days. I walked down with my father to peer inside the boat cabin. Maps, coffee cups and clothing were strewn around inside. "I remember looking only briefly, wilted by the feeling that I was violating some remnant of this man's presence by witnessing the evidence of its failure. Later I read a story about him in the paper. It was impossible to know what had happened. The boat had never crashed or capsized. He had simply slipped off somehow, and the boat, like a riderless horse, eventually came back home." The narrative somehow enhances the songs - an achingly beautiful combination of forlorn, reverb-drenched lullabies draped in a veil of isolation reminding us of a more damaged Mark Kozelek, and indeed the classic 4AD sound with which Grouper has been compared so many times in the past.
By the time you reach the closing track 'Living Room', however, you come to the realisation that despite her best efforts to obscure her songs, Harris might just be one of the most gifted songwriters of her generation. An incredible album - possibly her finest yet.
A companion to his acclaimed Ravedeath 1972 set, Dropped Pianos collects sketches for that album recorded by Tim Hecker last year.
While on paper it might sound like something for completists only, trust us when we tell you that this LP is a beguiling listen in its own right: shorn of the disruptive electronic processing which defined Ravedeath, what you get instead is a series of exquisitely reverbed and layered piano instrumentals which showcase Hecker's gift for minimalist composition and mournful melody.
Richly evocative of rainy, post-war cityscapes, of mortality and of thwarted romance, it's another masterful offering from an artist at the top of his game.
Tim Hecker exchanges bombast for intimacy on his follow-up to 'Ravedeath, 1972' and his 'Instrumental Tourist' with Daniel "OPN" Lopatin.
Using the gristly, naked grain and off-key, out-of-phase accents of woodwinds, piano and synthesizer played by an ensemble including Ben Frost and Valgeir Sigurdsson, and heightened by his studio alchemy, Hecker highlights tense, almost fraught relationships between all involved with visceral, keening dissonance approaching a narcotic potency when experienced over the full duration of the album.
He makes allusions to the ascetic, theological aspiration of early minimalism yet pulls back from full blown prostration, instead preferring a more impressionistic approach focussed on capturing atmosphere, sensation and synaesthetic qualities and connotations. For us, the results are more richly satisfying and intimately romantic than being punched in the face with blooming harmonics that scream "bow down, hear how f**king beautful I am!". ..
Keith Fullerton Whitman never ceases to impress with his seemingly endless understanding of musical references and ability to flit from the most personally affecting music to constructions of an altogether more playful nature.
His "Playthroughs" album for Kranky is still one of the most played entries in our late-night listening pile and so every new release graced with his name is a bit of an event for us.
"Schoner Flussengel" is another vinyl-only release, following up last year's excellent "Antithesis" LP, stretching into six tracks of dense layering and momentarily spacious acoustic sequencing.Utilising processed, textured drones to computer-guitar-piano trio, two of the tracks here also feature the vcs3 synthesizer recorded at Soma in Chicago during 2001 with the aid of Casey Rice and John McEntire (Tortoise).
This amazing triple album features a six suite work featuring Requiem For Dying Mothers, Austin Texas Mental Hospital, Broken Harbors, Mullholland, Piano Aquieu, Ballad Of Distances and A Lovesong (For Cubs)+.
Their usual minimal sound palette is expanded this time with the inclusion of strings, horns and piano in addition to guitars and field recordings. A personal innerspace that's relaxed, poised and breathtakingly beautiful.
Antithesis is taken from Keith Fullerton Whitman archives, featuring ensemble works featuring instruments played by Whitman himself with no computer interaction.
Each piece was recorded in one of the different apartments Whitman has rented since he lived in Boston and broadens the instrumental and compositional base of 'Playthroughs' with fender rhodes piano, viola, guitar and percussion.
The four tracks on the album verge from straight up drone to what sound like lost krautrock classics.
Stylish, characterful cold wave EBM for the ‘floor and dim bedrooms
“Third full length album by Circa Tapes (solo project of Adam Killing of Kill Memory Crash). Following excellent previous releases on Romance Moderne and DKA, this third album displays the evolution of Killing’s spot on ability to masterfully blend dark early 80s synth, industrial and cold wave into a completely new entity. Much heavier and wonderfully darker, this LP will appeal to fans of classics like Cabaret Voltaire and Skinny Puppy, as well as cutting edge EBM contemporaries such as Broken English Club, Boy Harsher and other cold wave / industrial hybrids.”
Incredibly rich, sumptuous album from Tim Hecker, layering his particular blend of organic ambience with slivers of piano, found sounds and the quiet hum of abandoned machinery.
Playing counterpart to the processed acoustic transmissions of Fennesz, Hecker takes a much darker route, only offering relief from the mass of textures he concocts with deep buried remnants of melody and light. As a follow-up to Mille Plateaux's sublime "Radio Amor", "Mirages" is an even more majestic album, striding with a confident heaviness further out into the wilderness, deep into the night.
The scene: the welsh mountains, remote and harsh, a good place to produce a special album. Volker Bertelmann on pianos as well as bass from Stefan Schneider of Mapstation and To Rococo Rot, and a deftest trace of processing, barely discernible.
This is tender, highly personal music, simply because it has always been there in some shape or form, because it has always been important. Think Satie, 'Koln Konzert' or perhaps even Bill Evans at his most european and romantic.
The title points to the fact that this luscious album deals with the big stuff, not just finger exercises or background muzak. “Substantial” is based upon improvisation - each track is based upon an opening sequence, the theme of which is extended, modulated and varied, with no specific objective in mind. What emerges is music of substance: eleven atmospheric pieces allowed to break into consciousness, gently searing images with narrative depth unfold; double bass or vibraphone appear, at once lending a hint of pop, but at no time detracting from the central instrument.
Ah, The English Beach, where sewage meets our battlement-littered coastline and rabid fighting dogs shit on your sandcastle, where posh surfer boys frolic in churning effluence and sweaty burger vans flog choc ices to feral kids and their pished parents. A bounty of inspiration for Oliver Ho aka Broken English Club, then?
Now on his 2nd album under that moniker following Suburban Hunting  for Cititrax, with a handful of interim 12”s on Death & Leisure and his Jealous God co-op, this time he spreads the muck thick and sticky over two slabs, flinging us from the Genesis P-Orridge-as-lifeguard holler of Stray Dogs to the boy racer techno throb of Breaking the Flesh, taking in end-of-the-pub-crawl nausea with The Sun Rising, before drifting into Plague Song’s industrial scrublands where you’ll meet the priapic razz of Pylon and a salty lament named Rust Ballad starring Blood Flower.
By now you’ve definitely got sand in your crack and the panda pop’s kicking in, priming for the tribal fire dance of Wreck and the gothic EBM of Carrion, before Concrete Desert feels to emulate the sound of an arcade under attack from laser-shitting seagulls and the electrified Wire Fence gives access to the whirligig giddiness of The English Beach proper, and the seaside town zombies come out to play on Last Signal.
Put a f*cking flake in it.
Soundway come with a very necessary reissue of Jay U Experience’s Nigerian psych-funk-reggae blinder, Enough Is Enough after building dancefloor intrigue with his Some More peach on the Nigeria Disco Funk Special: The Sound Of The Underground Lagos Dancefloor 1974-79 compilation.
First appearing on EMI Nigeria in 1977 and now available to the world at large, it’s clear that Some More wasn’t the only belter this LP has to offer. From the most infectious stripe of swaying reggae soul in Reggae Deluxe to the funky horns and disco strut of Get Yourselves Together, thru the hard bitten psych-funk of Enough Is Enough and the plangent, distorted flares of Baby Rock, this is 100% dynamite.
Heads are seriously going to light up for this one!
dBridge alloys with German D&B producer Kabuki for a super slick and taut set including smart input from Cooly G, Addison Groove, V.I.V.E.K. and Stray.
In duo they step off with the future gangster swagger of Lose Yourself, framing achingly tight half-step with approaching sirens and jazzy downtown chords. Stray comes on board with diamond-tipped snares hardwired into the ’93 hardcore-meets-footwork flex of With U, then Cooly G eases off the rugged lurch of Tune In right with proper, sauced-up R&B vox.
Addison Groove lends some dusky footwork soul flavour to the scooping subs and cowbell-driven footwork patterns of Dot Hot, and you can trust V.I.V.E.K. brings colossal sub to the table on the bastion burial of Dem a Sleep.
Italy’s Mondo Groove give a bonus life to K. Bytes’ 8-bit disco bonanza, I Adore Commodore, which was originally recorded and issued in 1983, one year after he released Computer Disco as Marcello Giombini.
Everything from the screenshot artwork of a robotic bloke and pals, to the LP’s jaunty, energetic tunes, is inspired by Giombini’s love of computers and video games, as he was a proud early owner of an Apple II Europlus before converting to the Commodore 64 model which inspired this LP, largely due to the fact it provided him with three independent music generators enabling him to realise his elaborate sound.
So what better way to express your love of video games and computers than a suite dedicated to their soundtracks, taking the names of his favourite games such as Le Mans and Space Invaders as cues for a bleep fest of the funkiest kind with bubbling Italo treats such as Solar Fox, the cosmic tension of Jupiter Landing and an absolutely wigged-out piece of cascading arpeggios in Sea Wolf.
‘Travelog’ was the third EP released by Mat Steel and Mark Fell as SND, arriving in 1999 just before the release of their influential debut album ‘Makesnd Cassette’ on the Mille Plateaux label.
Of the three EP reissues in the series, ‘Travelog’ contains the most developed and satisfying work from the pair, edging their reduced production palette into more fully-realised dimensions, colouring-in those instantly recognisable bass notes and isolated percussive elements with a slow, sublime trickle of melody. The 6 extra tracks included are indispensable - extending the original EP into an hour of mesmerising, slowly immersive rhythmic pulses that still sound pretty much unlike anything you’ll have heard before - a perfect bridge between House, Techno and UKG re-imagined within a stripped structure that should act as a masterclass for a new school of producers trying to balance-out rhythmic complexity with space.
The opening ‘A1’ encapsulates this asymmetry brilliantly, bare swing and shuffle riding chiming chords that add warmth and space to an already intoxicating blueprint, while A3 takes those same elements and sharpens them into a slow, undulating alignment bolstered by that immaculate mastering treatment from Rashad Becker. ‘B3’ takes things deeper - a slow percussive edit slowly drowned-out by a growling analogue drone, while the closing side joins the dots between this EP series and that trio of albums for Mille Plateaux that would soon establish SND as the most forward-thinking and still resolutely original producers from an otherwise largely-forgotten musical era.
On yet another stunning number from Unseen Worlds, Carsten Schulz aka C-Schulz arrives in the wake of their incredible reissues of Carl Stone and Laurie Spiegel records with a mind-bending batch from the fecund experimental nexus of ‘90s Cologne.
With C-Schulz releases scattered between Frank Dommert’s Entenpfuhl label - where he debuted in the same year as Jim O’Rourke - and the likes of Schimpfluch, Extreme and MoM’s Sonig - including many alongside probing input from Markus Schmickler - it’s maybe fair to say that C-Schulz’s distinctive oeuvre and artists genius has been sorely overlooked, until now, that is.
Frühe Jahre contains 20 wildly diverse examples of C-Schulz’s genre-agnostic agenda drawn from the early phase of his small, but arguably perfectly formed, catalogue between 1989 and 1991-ish, documenting an artist who patently dared to go beyond his classical training and explore new frontiers between early techno and acousmatic music, industrial and avant-pop, with something approaching a savant appreciation of juxtaposition and stylistic innovation.
He would later study A/V arts and work for a number of German broadcasters, but it’s worth bearing in mind that Schulz had barely turned 20 by the time Frank Dommert released his debut, Jahre Später, which provides one of this set’s highlights in the psychedelic horror collage of Wir beide sind verwandt, and sets the tone for a wildly, widely inventive overview of his variegated work.
There’s slow-mo New Beat-type sleaze in Barbapapa, along with hi-NRG disco scrabble in Kurze Flitze and industrial swagger on Meister, but just the tip of a large, oddly shaped iceberg, which reaches right down to the warped drone feedback works of Borkup and some messed-up vocoder psychoacoustics in Tri-Top, plus a few canny twists on space age lounge music in Klang and Reis recalling some kinda NWW cut-ups, and head-curdling drone of Himaal.
You could hardly ask for a madder wormhole to fall into. Check without delay!
Weird World popster Jaakko Eino Kalevi and fellow Finn, Sami Toroi aka Long Sam reprise their Man Duo for the first time since Totuuden Rakastajat / Amateurs De Vérité  with a well fermented batch of screwball yacht boogie, krautrock whirligigs and nippy electro-pop kissed with a debonaire Euro/Detroit élan.
Landing somewhere between Junior Boys and Marie Davidson in terms of modern artists, or Ned Doheny and latter Klaus Schulze in classics terms, Orbit turns up some really disco-friendly gems in the scudding synth-pop of What If It Falls with the memorable refrain “push-ups / shaving / moisturiser” and again with the ruder boogie of Vanessa, while you’ll also find low key highlights in the late night grease of Unter Vier Augen and the dry iced gylde of Tanyan Teema and The Middle.
After nearly three years of releases, Swing Ting serve their first vinyl release with Alexx A-Game’s Braver backed with their gorgeous instrumental version. It’s no less than a momentous occasion for the deeply rooted Manchester club night, and hopefully the first of many more vinyl releases from ST!
If you’ve stuck around for the lights-up section of any ST over the last 12 months, it’s likely that you’ve also been sent home glowing to the romantic keys and weightless bass pressure of Braver, which appears here on the A-side in original form, while the flips gives Samrai & Platt room to flex their instrumental chops, one man fondling the Rhodes and the other louchely stroking the chime tree, presumably winking at one another and occasionally raising and chinking glasses.
Sombre solo piano introspection fleshed by strings and subtly gilded with field recordings of a stormy Yorkshire
“Following his celebrated moogmemory project, Matthew Bourne returns to the piano for Isotach. Once again, spontaneity is the keyword where Bourne is concerned, catching on tape that pregnant moment when a piece begins to form.
Skeletal piano motifs, an aching use of space and sparing cello arrangements are deployed to devastating effect. Recorded in his rural Yorkshire home, Bourne’s piano placed to overlook the moors while he works, the album title is a nod to the weather, which played a part in its creation. The recordings took place during what Bourne describes as “extreme weather”. If you listen carefully you can hear the wind and rain picked up on the microphones, the sparse instrumentation providing the calm in the eye of the storm.”
CPU pay dues to their local roots with two rebuilds of obscure bleep techno aces by Sheffield’s Detromental, originally issued on their own label, Rave, in 1991.
Move is real beauty melding misty-eyed pads and chattering bleeps with massive subbass and lagging, swinging drum machines. Love that rusty-chopped Power House sample, which is presumably kept dead trim, as per the original sampler’s tiny memory bank.
Rewind is a more stripped down and ruder example of steel city styles, clearly showing the roots of the bassline garage/niche forms which would later emerge around South Yorkshire.
Bubblign neo-boogie soul, fresh outta Queens, NYC
“Denitia’s Ceilings is a portrait of an artist awakened. After moving to the Rockaways, an isolated, beach-side Queens community, Odigie found herself turning inward for inspiration. She set out to shed the protective layers her career had imposed and rediscover what songs and sounds came naturally to her. She also wanted this story to have her name on it: no more aliases, no more hiding.
Denitia discovered a fellow traveler in Daniel Schlett, the owner of the Williamsburg recording studio Strange Weather. The pair dug through stacks of Denitia’s demos, selecting the choice cuts that would eventually yield the Ceilings EP. The symbiosis between the pair can be felt through each song as Denitia’s sweeping compositions breathe and tighten at just the right moments. It starts with the anger and frustration on “Bound to Happen” where Denitia first faces the illusions surrounding her and shatters them to pieces. The song begins spare as a dirge but then fills with bright, vibrant synths as Denitia begins taking a sledgehammer to the ersatz world around her. That clear-eyed perspective is then cemented on “Waiting” and “Ceilings,” twin tracks that are meditations on the world’s self-imposed separations and segregations that serve as pleas to break down those barriers we unwittingly construct. The EP closes with “Planes,” a track Denitia has described as a song about the “constant longing for more, of wanderlust and desire.” The song’s spine is in its vibrant piano and drum composition that lets Denitia’s voice soar and search, a sign that Ceilings is only the beginning.”
Equal parts brittle rhythmic drive, angular contortions and monochrome minimalism...
"The band shows no sign of compromise whatsoever, being as stark, harsh and stubbornly inhospitable as the strobe-haunted, feverishly kinetic live shows that have earned them a fearsome reputation beyond the rumoured West country of their origins or the urban environs of their adopted home.
Split into seven excerpts and built on powerful repetition, it’s a mind-melding travail into abstraction and abjection which draws on post-punk, jazz, drone, electronic and avant-garde tropes to create an unclassifiable assault that feels oddly timeless - innovative, invigorating and bare-boned yet tapping into a uniquely English lineage that extends back to the 1970s and forward, into the unknown. Nonetheless, whilst some may be able to detect influences like This Heat (whose Charles Hayward approvingly described their sound as redolent of “a barely controlled anger, hypnotic and building from the simplest elements”) or Einsturzende Neubauten, Housewives are carving out their own unique place in the darker quarters of the underground, motivated by a fearsome intensity of conviction and a fearlessly experimental approach.
‘FF061116’ is the latest in a series of transmissions from a collective mindset whose manifestations are as richly rewarding as they are relentlessly intense. Wherever they go from this aural outpost, all intrepid avant adventurers would do well to buckle in for the ride."
Dense, heavy yet deft dub techno from Edinburgh’s Stephen Brown
Serving the Mike Dehnert-esque heft of Sandtext’s gruff subs, gravelly drums and clipped chords across the A-side, then squeezing out the tight, squirmy skank of Wet and the Detroit techno refractions of Back Strobe on the flip.
Mark Fell and Mat Steel’s second EP as SND was released in 1999, a year after their debut ‘Tplay’. It continued to explore their distinct, highly individual take on electronic minimalism, House and UK Garage stripped to its bare bones.
This extended reissue features the original 6 tracks of ’newtables’, plus 6 previously unheard recordings from the same sessions - all fully remastered by Rashad Becker from the original DAT tapes. The tracks more or less split themselves into three distinct categories: the first detailing the brilliant swing and shuffle of their reduced UKG mutations, with ’22’ in particular perfecting the balance between academic reduction and kinetic, feminine motion.
The second outlines a more linear approach utilising reduced House and Techno templates, while the last includes more experimental works such as the proper fwd bass-pulse arrangements on the previously unheard B2 and the frequency fxxckery of closing track D3. This excellent reissue and the series as a whole really is a massive eye-opener for anyone unfamiliar with this incredible, important early material.
Strapping EBM hunks of fun from Richard X and Nathan Wilkins’ Cowboy Rhythmbox, throbbing hard with the Goan beach-ready Tanz Exotique, dropping down a gear to the sleazy recoil of Cats’ Invasion, and cantering into the darkrooms with Scream.
Jackhammer industrial grit from Adam-X, back in his downtempo (do not read as ‘chilled’) alias, ADMX-71 for L.I.E.S.
With a trio of sewer dwelling bangers at roughly 113bpm he takes in the rollicking ramrod of Nuclear Hysterics, the gaunt, writhing groove and glowering synth figures of Dire Situation, and pendulous swagger in Neutron Absorber.
The Hardrive bossman chops out six instrumental grime lines featuring guest spots from Swifta Beater, Sir Spyro and P Jam.
Flavours for all grime ravers, taking in the scowling drill hybrid, Infrared, a bolshy skanker Brass Off, and the frankly avant percussive madness of Time Piece on solo terms, next to a strong collaboration with Sir Spyro in TBC, lit up with jazz sax and bottomed out with bruising subbass in a really classy high water mark of 2017 grime.
Princess Nokia’s 1992 mixtape just keeps on giving with the icy drill percolations and distinctive coven attitude of Brujas, a warning shot on the head of lesser MCs delivered with ineffable poise and class.