Tight electro split from Detroit-Inspired Texan, ERP (aka Convextion), and Rotterdam’s Duplex
Gerard Hanson’s ERP works signature bassline flair under shuddering metallic arps and chiselled machine percussion in ‘ZRX’, while the Frustrated Funk figurehead Klen aka Ovatow makes one of his relatively rare but ever precious outings on the pendulous, tenderly dubbed and expansive Ovatow Reclock of Duplex’ s ’Molecular’, the standout of this session.
DJ Sprinkles' classic Midtown 120 Blues, self-released by Terre Thaemlitz through their Comatonse imprint and finally available again.
Bringing deep house back into contact with its club culture roots, Terre Thaemlitz created one of the most essential house albums of the last two decades with 'Midtown 120 Blues'. Terre was originally working as a DJ under her Sprinkles alias in the gay clubs of midtown Manhattan and New Jersey in the late 80's when deep house began to blossom. It's this early period of House history which Terre has beautifully recreated over 10 tracks, making a pointed comment with the intro track taking shots at Strictly Rhythm for becoming 'Strictly Vocal' and pulling no punches towards "Most Europeans who think deep house means shitty hi-NRG vocal house".
With the intentions made clear, Terre develops a masterpiece of serene melancholy and sublime deep house crafted with the skill and dedication of someone who you know lived this music through every fibre of their being. From the rich subbass driven tones of 'Midtown 120 Blues' with plaintive pianos slowly encircling one another, to drag queen monologues over the deepest ambient brushed rhythms on 'Ball'r (Madonna-Free Zone)' or head-meltingly warm chords and caressed percussion of 'Brenda's $20 dilemna' - this will suck in and swallow you whole - transporting you to another place, another time.
A total pleasure.
please remember that we support Terre and Comatonse Recordings' efforts to keep projects offline, minor, and acting queerly. When purchasing this item, we ask you to refrain from uploading and indiscriminate sharing in any form. <3
Sarah Davachi provides a shortcut to the sublime with 90 minutes of head stroking quiet music - simply unmissable for acolytes of Éliane Radigue, La Monte Young & Marian Zazeela, Kevin Drumm, Andrew Chalk, AFX’s 2nd ambient set
The 10-part retrospective ’Selected Works I & II’ is an ideal way to mark 10 years of releases by composer Sarah Davachi, whose blessed run of recordings of rare, quiet intensity hold among the past decade’s definitive lowkey works. As her legion followers will surely attest, Davachi’s music is possessed of a deeply uncanny potential to mesmerise and transport the mind to other places, following extended lines of melodic and harmonic thought, rooted in early music, chamber classical, and C.20th American minimalism, to the gauziest, most seductive new horizons of timbre and psychoacoustics.
As with her live shows, Davachi’s recorded music operates at, or just below, the speed of resting thought, with a life-affirming ability to sync one’s senses to hers, prompting the imagination to follow its own nose to wherever it goes. To attentively listen to her work can result in genuine, unfettered zen-like or immanent experience, untroubled by the musical clutter that can distract or more plainly signpost emotions, and give listeners a thruline to the sublime, as felt strongly on ‘Selected Works I & II’,
Drawn from material that predates her debut ‘The Untuning of the Sky’ (2013), and also hail from it, as well as excerpted from subsequent live recordings, tape and CD releases, and a precious trove of unreleased work; it all adds up to the sort of release we would direct newcomers as a perfect primer or portal to Davachi’s world. The calming course of ‘Alms Vert’ opens this set, as it did her debut, staking out her fluency of ancient instrumental tongue in contemporary vernacular, while the just intoned drone of ‘In Grand Luxe Hall’ places her in a live context, exploring links between architecture, psychoacoustics, and spirit that ideally reveals the teeth to her music, somehow akin to the drone chronics of Catherine Christer Hennix. The ‘Gathers’ parts from her lockdown tape for our Documenting Sound series characterises a contemporary porousness to noise and natural world, while the incremental shifts of ‘Neustadt’ proves how her music benefits from durational immersion, but likewise enchants in short form on the exquisite ‘First Triad’ and the beatific ‘A Woman Escapes Cue 4’.
Vestiges of ’90s trance surface in strange, elegiac and unusual forms thru Friday Dunard’s debut album for Köln’s Magazine.
Hailing from the motherland of trance, Friday Dunard is somewhat qualified to riff on its lingering after effects, which emerge as residual traces of rushy arps and nostalgic melodies amid the impressionisic fog of memory across ‘Rhenus Aeternus’. While it starts up with propulsive electro-trance pulses, breakdowns and ecstatic vamps for the club in ‘Aeternus’, the thread of inspiration becomes progressively frayed in a manner recalling Lorenzo Senni via Mark Leckey’s collages as the tracks proceed, variously suggesting the form with the uneasy luft of ‘Ultra Citron’ and threaded into playfully syncopated breaks on ‘In McFit’, or congealed into club-teasing strictures with ‘Lower Beach’. The centrepiece ‘Rhenus’ comes closest to Lorenzo Senni at the afters, and by the time of ‘Upper Beach’ it’s full strung out and dreamlike, with a final flourish of escalating, beat-less, near baroque arp arrangements in ‘Latus et Altus’ surely recalling T C F’s legendary YYAA tape.
Perhaps this makes matters clearer? Then again…: “Friday Dunard pulls the sawtooth from trance. Now he whistles elegiac prayers to mystical rivers on it. He lets it bubble out of battered cans of Monster Energy. He sings a protestant canon with it. And in the end it's trance again. Just like when we were guessing track intros with Ben.K on cue point.de. When Fruity Loops was the actual homework. When PvD appeared on Stuttgart's Schlossplatz, or James in a basement a little further on. Duni shares the river with Karlsruhe, the harbor with the Cologne label Magazine. There, not far from a SPA, the "Gerade" EP docked a few years ago.”
Bureau B profile the fertile DIY tape scene of East Germany prior to the wall falling on their latest compilation.
Picking up on the themes of Mannequin’s under-rated 2016 KlangFarbe primer, Bureau B widen the scope to profile 14 bands active in East Germany’s DIY tape scene in the last few years before the GDR was dissolved in 1990.
The strict State measures in place demanded these musicians flirt with prosecution to establish the self-distribution networks that proliferated their work on cassette, and it also cultivated the disillusion and despair that resulted in some startlingly creative work. The seeds of so much to follow are evident throughout ‘Magnetband’ as Bureau B highlight work by musicians that largely released on cassette but would go on to form Raster Noton, Rammstein, Kuntskopf, To Rococo Rot and Tarwater.
The various KlangFarbe projects of Raster Noton founder Frank Bretschneider feature prominently throughout, with the hushed guitar freakout of his A.F. Moebius track Böser Traum the sort of thing you’d find in a Beau Wanzer mixtape. Beyond Bretschneider there is plenty to enjoy for the avid archivalist. Stoffwechsel’s Fly, Fliege, Fly sounds like John T. Gast after a weekend on the sensimilla, the brilliantly-named Choo Choo Flame deliver one of the shortest but most unnerving moments in the creeping ambient of Nein and Aponeuron’s Jab Gab Hej is a bracing slab of gurning EBM with added wookie screams.
Best of all perhaps is Gesichter’s SK 8 Gesichte which offers a dizzying frenzy of primitive sampling you’d mistake for early Hype W from Inga and Dean.
Bread ’n butter L.I.E.S. box bangers by London’s Fabio Monesi, chasing his 2016 cut for their Russian Torrent Versions with eight cold Chicago knockers on main.
The mode is properly dry, propulsive machine rhythm x clambering keys in the classic old skool Chi or NYC style, as heard on WBMX back in the day. You know the score, and Monesi pays up on all counts from the tuff but dreamy ‘Jack The Crow’ to his virulent acid banger ‘Harmony’, the subtly raved up ‘Future Brain’, and bassline-driven jabjack of ‘Moonriver’, with an outstanding twist of electro-bass in ‘Kit The Dog’ and eccied eye-flutter of ‘Critical Rhythm’.
Remastered and newly mixed by band members Dan Lacksman and Michel Moers, Telex's Looking For Saint-Tropez.
"Looking For Saint Tropez was Telex’s debut album originally released in 1979. It contains covers of Plastic Bertrand’s pop-punk ‘Ça Plane Pour Moi’ and Bill Haley’s ‘Rock Around The Clock’, in which, so to speak, all of the rock is removed leaving nothing but the clock; a ticking, vocoderised, supremely deadpan robot parody of the original. Had Telex merely confined themselves to such covers they might have been regarded as a rather clever comedy band. But they also cut ‘Moskow Diskow’, a rollocking, swerving, steaming dancefloor classic, a track which lays down the railroad for as yet unimagined electronic musics such as House and Techno. Years ahead of its time, its reputation has only been enhanced over time, as other, more date stamped electropop has fallen by the wayside."
Funkineven & Kyle Hall's transatlantic fist-bumps come repackaged as a doublepack.
As Funkinevil between 2012-2013, Julien & Hall jacked directly into a movement toward the rawest, direct machine music that joined the dots between enduring late ‘80s/early ‘90s Detroit, Chicago, NYC and London traditions. 10 years later their jams still fizz and crack with a livewire energy and remain among the rawest, rudest in either’s cabinet.
Replete with slick jazz-funk intros and outro, the real meat and gristle of the session is their dance trax, following their nose for wallbanging thrust and and nastiest acid in ‘Night’, recalling Jamal Moss’ I.B.M. ace ‘Kill Bill’, whereas ‘Dusk’ plays deep into their debonaire side, punctuating Dâm-Funk-like synth squelch and breezing pads with tart Linn claps, while ‘Ignorant’ lowers the suspension on a Motor City electro steez, and they really let the electro-soul flow for eight minutes with ‘In The Grid’.
Legendary Afro-futurist jazz pioneer Idris Ackamoor regroups The Pyramids at drummer/producer Malcolm Catto’s studio for a typically deep and tuff new session that speaks to their 50 years of heavily rooted jams adjacent to Sun Ra and Pharoah Sanders.
"Recorded between San Francisco and London and brought together by the genius of Malcolm Catto at his analogue Quatermass Studio, the new recording represents another bold step in Ackamoor’s ever-evolving journey in jazz, adding full, intricate scores including string sections and choral elements to the Pyramids’ trademark spiritual Afro-jazz sound.
Driven by the core Pyramids members Ackamoor (sax, keytar, organ), Margaux Simmons (flute), Sandra Poindexter (violin) and Bobby Cobb (guitar), tracks range from hard-hitting commentaries about police brutality (‘Police Dem’) to celebrations of the ancestors and departed loved ones (‘Requiem For The Ancestors’, ‘Re-Memory’) and hazy cosmic journeys, including the album’s title track and the sparkling, experimental closer, ‘Nice It Up’.
‘Afro-Futuristic Dreams’ is mixed by Malcolm Catto and mastered by Peter Beckmann at Technology Works. The superb cover artwork illustration is by David Alabo."
Hallucinatory drum and drone trips by Lebanese notables, Raed Yassin, Charbel Haber, and Khaled Yassine, paying tribute to, and displacing, Omar Khorshid’s legendary Arabic surf rock hybrids - RIYL Christian Love Forum, Sun City Girls.
Necessarily returned to attention in ’23 by the awesome Discrepant after its OG 2014 release, ‘Malayeen’ is a strong homage to the enduring influence of guitarist Omar Khorshid, whose slant on Arabic Egyptian belly dance traditions, recorded in Lebanon during the ‘70s, would transcend the genre and spark imaginations far beyond the region for decades to come. The Malayeen trio take artistic license to renew the hypnotic vibrancy of Khorshid’s pioneering innovations on East/West fusion music with a conventional array of keys, guitars, and darbouka, augmented by more unusual addition of turntables, and electronics that stay true to the sound while firing it up for contemporary audiences.
The seven pieces oscillate relatively straight played tributes such as the lonesome guitar solo of ‘Omar’, which also recalls Sir Richard Bhp’s take on Khorshid’s legacy in ‘The Freak of Araby’, to more explicit abstraction of his sound with use of queasy electronic texturing in ‘Nadia’, and a killer, up-to-date slant on his percussive thrust in the near singeli-esque or junglist recklessness of the sped up drums in ‘Dina’. We hear those circles bleed most thrillingly on the 17 minute dervish ‘Samia’, which vividly calls to mind recent exploits in this arena by Thessaloniki’s Christian Love Forum, while ‘Najwa’ could almost be the real thing, with dramatic keys upping the ante for a ravishing onslaught of darbouka breaks and surf guitar fervour.
Remastered and newly mixed by band members Dan Lacksman and Michel Moers, Telex's Neurovision.
"Released in 1980, the album was the follow up to their debut Looking For Saint-Tropez, and includes the track ‘Euro-vision’ which was famously entered into the Eurovision Song Contest, representing Belgium. Moers says he regarded their entry as “very Situationist International, the worm in the apple” and they resolved either to come first or last. They didn’t achieve that goal, but became part of the Eurovision saga."
Wire's Bruce Gilbert and Graham Lewis tear London songwriter Desmond Simmons' psychedelic pop to shreds on his 1981 debut, giving it the full Dome treatment and emerging with a uniquely challenging statement. Remastered from tape by Denis Blackham and blessed with re-imagined artwork from the original designer.
Simmons was a close friend of Colin Newman, and had played bass on the Wire frontman's debut solo album, and so his demos where within reach of Gilbert and Lewis. The duo had recently established Dome, a studio-as-instrument project that began with their own material and eventually brought in a few outside artists. Simmons was the first to join the label, and he trusted his songs - described in the press release as "psychedelic guitar pop" - to Gilbert and Lewis, who proceeded to turn them inside out. Many of them are still utterly confusing; peep 'April Waits', a cavernous vocal performance from Simmons that's accompanied by oscillating amplifier hum and faint scratching sounds. We can still make out what the demo might have sounded like, but Gilbert and Lewis turn it into a half-remembered echo - the end result is more like rural folk than radio pop.
'To Be Lost' is more approachable, slithering from gloomy, beatless electro-pop into an angular, post-punk inspired chorus. And on 'Bing Crosby's Hat', Simmons' vocals are gone altogether, leaving just reverberating, regal guitars and intoxicated pads. The album's stand-out is 'By Air Or By Sea', a bizarre, radio-garbled minimalist belter that's carried by a literally breathless performance from Simmons. Apparently he was instructed by Lewis and Gilbert to run around the block before he entered the vocal booth, and his pained tones are pushed far into the foreground, backed by the producers' tremolo crunches, painful guitar skronks and groggy synth bass. This one's way out there, and sadly Simmons never followed it up. We can't help but wonder whether he was traumatized by the production process. Highly Recommended!
Remastered and newly mixed by band members Dan Lacksman and Michel Moers, Telex's Sex.
"For 1981’s Sex, the trio teamed up with Sparks, a match made in heaven given both band’s determination to make electronic pop music suffused with conceptual wit. They got along tremendously, Ron & Russell Mael staying on in Brussels far longer than they’d originally intended, and Sparks contributed to the entire album."
Foundational 1975 township jazz side by leading guitarist Allen Kwela, referencing Wes Montgomery and home-grown marabi, sowing the seeds for South Africa’s wellspring of local jazz styles.
“The cream of Johannesburg’s jazz musicians gathered at state-of-the-art Satbel studios to create Black Beauty for the “Soweto” label. Led by guitarist extraordinaire Allen Kwela and featuring the godfather of South African jazz Kippie Moeketsi, the album successfully straddles producer pressure to emulate the commercial success of Abdullah Ibrahim’s Mannenberg, against the musicians’ own impetus to play a jazz they wanted. While the title track “Black Beauty” nods at Ibrahim’s stylings, the magic happens in the three remaining tracks where Kwela and his top-notch band lay down new directions.
Producer Patric van Blerk, sounded disappointed when asked about the sessions, saying that Kwela was his usual strong-willed self, unwilling to be nudged towards the pop trends of the day. “He was a monster talent and deserved much more than he got at the time.””
Face freezing emotional punishments by Texan electro-techno deity Gerard Hanson resurface on a reminder of his golden late ‘00s into ‘10s run
Please pardon the gush, but we’re in the presence of greatness here. ‘Lunar Ruins’ was first issued in 2011, but contains material known and utterly beloved from his live sets as early as 2006-2008, as heard in recordings for Faktion (Manchester) and Bleep43 (London) which have gone down in underground lore as legendary examples of his ineffably beautiful and powerful mastery of Detroit-inspired synth music.
At the right times, ‘Lunar Ruins’ literally brings us to tears and on our knees with its tendon-tuned electro-funk and beatific string harmonies, while ‘Into the Distance’ dials up the Martian melodies and cosmic conga turbulence in clear homage to Red Planet, Drexciya and Mad Mike, beside the sinuous, minimalist cool of ‘Mimosa Canopy’. We can’t stress how much this sound feels absent on the ‘floor nowadays.
Ringleader of Mexico City’s Sunday Sunday sessions, Soos weaves between early ‘90s downbeats, acidic sand trample and deep house for Japan’s Mule Musiq
‘Mundo Cute’ is a dead canny title for Soos’ brand of rose-tinted ‘90s nostalgia, and lends a contextual glow to their metaphoric six track transition from dusk to night. It purrs into action with the feline downbeat sway and soft erotica coos of ‘Chula (Dance Mix)’ and gently keeps bodies in motion with the steel drum lilt of its title track, takign it terrace side for the ambient ocean gaze of ‘Disc Jam (Dream Mix)’, before locking into a sublime echo of early Goan trance sand trample in ‘Cool Sbu’ and the modal deep house of ‘Plants Biz’, departing to the Sun Electric-like tone of ‘? (Reprise)’.
The early genius of dreampop pioneers A.R. Kane (aka half of M|A|R|R|S) is summed up in a collected trifecta of 1988-89 Rough Trade LPs and EP that helped pave the way for everyone from Dean Blunt, Seefeel and Slowdive to Coby Sey and LA Timpa.
‘A.R. Kive Box Set’ is abundant assurance of Alex Ayuli and Rudy Tambala’s legacy as A.R. Kane, who famously minted the “dreampop” genre with three releases at the tail end of the ‘80s, after cutting sampledelic dance classic ‘Pump Up The Volume’ as M|A|R|R|S with Colourbox in 1987. Hustling, in their entirety, the albums ’69’ (1988) and ‘“i”’ (1989), plus the EP ‘Up Home!’ (1988), the ‘A.R. Kive’ is a treasure trove for avant pop fiends who can join the dots, as they did, between post-punk funk, dub, jazz-funk, and shoegaze bands such as MBV or Jesus and Mary Chain, to the swelling promise of the late ‘80s dance phenomenon, and beyond. While a resolutely cult act with those in the know, it never fails to surprise us how much they’re overlooked in the pop history books, but this compilation should go some way to rectifying that matter, seeding their ohrwurms in new and old lugs alike.
Hugely notable as artists of Afro-British descent working in styles dominated by bands of often anglo-celtic background, Nigerian-British musician Alex Ayuli and his Malawian-English spar Rudy Tambala brought the psychedelic richness of dub and groove of jazz-funk to prevailing ‘80s rock paradigms with a singular, joyful flourish unprecedented at the time. Directly inspired by a mid-‘80s Cocteau Twins performance on Channel 4, they would initially blag a record deal after lying that they were in a duo inspired by The VU, Cocteaus, Miles Davis and Joni Mitchell, that led to cutting a demo with a drum machine, guitar and dual tape players, that consequentially resulted in Robin Guthrie producing their 1987 single ‘Lollita’, and them ultimately realising the golden trio of records documented here.
In chronological order; the ‘Up Home!’ EP establishes a ravishing blend of noise-pop, dub and politics, variously cocking a snook at M*ggie Thatcher with ‘Baby Milk Snatcher’, and endemic british racism in ‘W.O.G.S’, beside the shoegaze club ace ‘One Way Mirror’, before really defining, expanding their vision on a pair of legendary LPs. 1988’s ’Sixty Nine’ found them in flux between grooving urges and resounding dub noise, as characterised in the Antenna-gone-rogue jangle of ‘Crazy Blue’, the lip-smacking psychedelia of ‘Spermwhale Trip Over’, and etheric peal to ‘The Madonna With Child’, before 1989’s ‘“i”’ became beloved by Balearic, rock, and pop types alike for its ebullient anthem ‘A Love From Outer Space’, thru the trip hop prototype ‘In a Circle’ and balmy steppers dub jangle of ‘Catch My Drift’ via a handful of wicked, abstract palate cleansers and teasers.
Start your obsession right here.
30th Anniversary edition of The Breeders' Last Splash - remastered from the original analog tapes.
"A defining album of the 90s, Last Splash by The Breeders turns 30 in 2023. Recorded by the ‘classic’ Breeders line-up of Kim Deal, Kelley Deal, Josephine Wiggs and Jim Macpherson, and featuring the infectiously appealing ‘Cannonball’, Last Splash immediately became an alt-rock classic, achieving platinum status in the UK and US, and is ranked in Pitchfork’s Top 100 Records of the 1990s.
Entitled Last Splash (the 30th Anniversary Original Analog Edition), this special edition will span two 12” 45rpm vinyl discs, plus an exclusive, one-sided etched 12” disc containing two forgotten tracks from the original Last Splash sessions: ‘Go Man Go’, a track that Kim co-wrote with Black Francis, and ‘Divine Mascis’, a version of ‘Divine Hammer’ with lead vocals provided courtesy of Dinosaur Jr.’s J Mascis.
For this special edition, the original, iconic sleeve art by the late visionary designer Vaughan Oliver has been gloriously reimagined by his long-time design partner Chris Bigg."
Helena Hauff trots out a fabric mix studded with crunchy electro bombs
After a decade dominating Euro ‘floors and beyond with her patented direct drive muscle, Hauff parades 19 tried and trusted bangers of a ruff cut and drily emotive electro-techno variety after heading more line-ups than we can count, both solo and in b2b with likes of Eris Drew, Marcel Dettmann and DJ Stingray, and hosting her own BBC Radio 1 show.
It kicks off with one of her own, ‘Turn Your Sights Inward’, and shells down lethal cuts including Clarence G’s pre-Drexicya zinger ‘Data Transfer’, a walloping Slam x Optic nerve juggernaut ‘Machine Conflict’, Radioactiveman’s murderous ‘Night Bus to Nowhere’ and Autechre’s remix of D-Breeze off MASK 500 (jeez, the nostalgia!), while highlighting a raft of newer names and obscurities.
All hitters no shitters.
Swedish sound artist and composer Lo Kristenson, a graduate of the Master's Programme in composition at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm (where contemporaries Ellen Arkbro and Maria W Horn also studied), considers tension, impulse and longing on a magnificent debut album for XKatedral, an hour-long immersion in slowly unravelling arrangements for alto flute, baroque violin and baroque viola, highly recommended listening for disciples of Mary Jane Leach, Catherine Lamb, Lucy Railton, Morton Feldman, Pauline Oliveros.
The Swedish word förnimmelser translates to mean both sensations and perceptions. In the context of the album, it signifies the perception of other beings. Alongside Rakel Emhjellen Paulsen (alto flute), Julija Morgan (baroque violin) and Tove Bagge (baroque viola), Kristenson refines her sound over a series of "collective exercises, conversation and experiments," designed to help the ensemble unlearn their rehearsed musical gestures together. The process was explicitly developed by Kristenson to challenge the bodily and musical expectations associated with playing instruments in a traditional manner. To achieve this, it was essential for each musician to focus intensely on the listening process and maintain an awareness of their own body, harnessing naturally occurring friction and resistance to create dynamic waves of musical energy while playing.
The score was provided in fragments, giving the players the option to choose between notated phrases and more freeform directions. Tempo wasn't specified, but an approximate duration was offered for guidance, in the hope that whatever timing would emerge would come from intuition rather than design. Kristensen encouraged each player to think about their breathing patterns, and let that guide their performance. And that's starkly visible on the album's 20-minute opener 'I', where oddly pitched string phrases graze each other softly, strangled to silence periodically to emphasise negative space. Paulsen's ascendent flute tones melt into the strings, and the music appears to balance precariously between folk-y tenderness and sounds more regularly associated with experimental classical minimalism.
Kristensen intersperses these longer, core pieces with shorter, more abstracted compositions titled 'mellanrum', meaning the space in-between. These interludes add an important pause for breath, rupturing the silence with scant, virtuosic gestures. 'III' is almost funereal in tone, but the humanity of each vibrating string gives it a level of uniqueness that's hard to turn away from. Sustained tones waver and warble like strained voices, and tones seem to oscillate against each other, either forming subtle harmonies or languishing in phased dissonance.
Förnimmelser is confident, mettlesome music that asks the listener to reconsider the character of each instrument, but also that of the players and composer. Deep listening not only recommended, but fully rewards.
As La Planète Sauvage celebrates its half-century, Cam Sugar presents a deluxe edition of the soundtrack, mixed from the recently discovered multi-track tapes, including 7 previously unreleased tracks and 3 alternate mixes.
"At the 1973 Cannes Film Festival, a feature-length animated film caused a sensation and won the Special Jury Prize: La Planète Sauvage by René Laloux, with phantasmagorical drawings by Roland Topor. For this philosophical tale of anticipation, where men are used as domestic toys by blue giants, the Draags, the celebrated composer Alain Goraguer unleashes his inspiration with a haunting main theme of great melodic clarity, soaring and hypnotic atmospheres, but also pursues funky rhythms with wah-wah on guitar, as if reaching out to Isaac Hayes from Shaft.
Over the decades, the acclaim of La Planète Sauvage has been growing in crescendo, both the film and its score, revered by new generations as a psychedelic summit, an Everest of French pop. Artists from the new world, from rap and hip-hop cultures, such as A$ap Mob, Madlib, Mac Miller and many others, have dipped into it for samples or remixes."
Karenn’s Voam reach out to Medellín, Colombia’s TraTraTrax + Insurgentes boss Verraco for a crooked line of techno-trance skudge
Responsible for spreading a dancefloor heatwave with his programming of Insurgentes and its TraTraTrax offshoot (Nick León, DJ BabaTr, Tomás Urquieta et al), Verraco simmers his sound to a UK/EU friendly form of tech electronica with subtle trance appeal, sort like Arca gone 4/4, and necessarily kinked with Latin suss.
Singapore's Nat Ćmiel, aka Yeule, lands on Ninja Tune for their fifth full-length, centering their vocals over glittering productions that jerk from post-punk into trip-hoppy ambience. RIYL Sol Seppy, Grimes, Caroline Polachek.
There's a pleasant nostalgia to 'softscars' that transports us back to simpler times. It's not an album that evokes a specific era, it just sounds out of place in a world pocked by distrust, technological breakdown and cynical hopelessness. Yeule's electronically processed vocals are cute but never sickly-sweet, and their adherence to late '90s/early '00s song structures gives their songs a grounding in the familiar that lets their wilder production tics squeal. On the album's title track, they coo over rumbling downtempo bumps, cooly harmonizing while synths squeal and breaks crumble. And on 'ghosts' they pull the tempo down further, singing a schoolyard melody that dips through keys, splitting from quiet melancholy into tempered jubilance.
Yeule even saves space for their weirder inclinations, humming over swung beats and frothing synths on the curiously-titled 'software update' until it blows up and echoes the Pixies' 'Where Is My Mind?' And 'Bloodbunny' ditches the nostalgia for a second, sounding closer to Charli XCX with a reduced, 8-bit dubstep bounce. Funnily enough, the simplest, most effective track is closer 'aphex twin flame', that sounds absolutely nothing like Richard D. James, thankfully.
Reinhold Friedl’s new music ensemble tackle the work of Domenico Scarlatti, reflecting the composer’s radical unconventionality among his c.17/18th peers.
“zeitkratzer director Reinhold Friedl and his ensemble present new compositions, grounded on Domenico Scarlatti’s piano sonata F-minor K.466. Commissioned by the dance company Rubato and dedicated to Mario Bertoncini (1932-2019).
Little is known about Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757). His music is, so to speak, left to its own devices: free, cheeky, playful, sonorous, surprising. Harmonically strolling again and again into unforeseen regions, the ear leads, not the theory; and also the fingers get their right: playful and haptic it goes. Scarlatti explained, "since nature has given me ten fingers and my instrument provides employment for all, I see no reason why I should not use all ten of them."
Freedom, friction and listening pleasure instead of convention: "He knew quite well that he had disregarded all the rules of composition in his piano pieces, but asked whether his deviation from the rules offended the ear? He believes there is almost no other rule than that of not offending the only sense whose object is music - the ear."
Reinhold Friedl applied this principle and composed the music for a choreography by dance company Rubato. Dance music drawn from Scarlatti, who was so inspired by dance music. The material of the piano sonata F-minor K.466 is twisted anew in all its richness, shifted back and forth, declined, frozen, noisified, sound structures extracted, floating. Those who know the sonata, will more than smell it’s shadows. Dedicated to Mario Bertoncini (Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza) who was particularly fond of K.466, on which all the music presented here is grounded.
"Wild flowers", Barbara Zubers had once called Scarlatti's music. Let them bloom. “
Dogs Don't Gossip from London-based producer Kyyberwall.
"As it happens, records can often be conceived as imaginary soundtracks, not to visual or literary narrations, but to places. One such impossible mood-setter is provided by Kyyberwall’s Haunter Records debut Dogs Don’t Gossip.
The producer’s relentless drum&drone drafts an abstract map for a zone in which unspoken treachery is committed. Shifting between driven drum breaks, scattered percussion and a firm low end presence, the EP deploys a minimalistic yet forceful arsenal of sounds, with The Fertile Crescent’s Susu Laroche also appearing to contribute to its estranging beauty.
Dogs Don’t Gossip is an unintentional excavation, drawing tales from the outskirts of memory."
BAT ruggedly balances neck-snap ‘90s hip hop, dub and ambient psychedelia in a definitive slab capping a decade of uncompromising work in this zone - RIYL early Dabrye, Kaman Leung, Spectre, Lukid, Actress
Call it illbient, ambient dub or whatever you want, this is one of BAT’s best and most woozily engaging long-players. The Portland, OR producer has remained steadfast in his pursuit of the perfectly uneven beat for 10 years now, with significant cuts on Opal Tapes, No Corner, Accidental Meetings and 12th Isle that established his cult reputation.
These dozen new bits typically take their cues from the beat craft of Bomb Squad’s Hank Shocklee and Boogie Down Productions, and could feasibly have come from any period of his work, but there’s a special magic at work on this one that really captures his skewed essence and places it among his most vital - a perfect entry point for anyone sitting on the fence.
While we don’t expect Bomb Squad fiends to be jumping on it, listeners who can join more oblique dots will surely get what his amorphous arrangements are hinting at. His grooves unravel and coil inside themselves simultaneously, loops crumbling into the next bar with a calm yet tongue-tip play of anticipation and resolution that has us rapt for the duration, at least.
Sam Van Dijk (Mohlao, Multicast Dynamics) steps off into killer, mid-tempo to quicksilver ambient electro-techno for Rvshes or CUB fiends.
The brownian dynamic is strong on this one. ‘Waves of Change’ is VC-118A’s 5th album in this mode and marks a decade of chasing the dub techno dragon where it takes him. The mood is calmly held for locked-in listening with a fine grasp of the pressure gauge that keeps it bobbing and scudding subaquatic, replete with the distant echoes of Drexciya that inspire so much west coast dutch electronic music, but modulated at the sort of tempo favoured by Regis CUB or Fishermen and the silty dub chicanery of T++ or Rvshes.
His opener ‘Heat’ is a standout scene setter, flexing flickering drums on a sunken Reese bass drone that carries the cinematic payload of ‘The Deep’ and is diffracted into the subbass ripcurrents of ‘Stream’. The meditative momentum also informs ‘Mothjerboard’ at the core, but comes out quicker in the deep Detroit dynamism to ‘You’, while he pushes to near lightless aphotic zones in likes of ‘Echo Drop’ and comes to the surface for air in ‘euphonic’.
It's been over half a decade since we last heard from Grails, and they return with 'Anches En Maat', a synth-forward cosmic prog blast that's inspired by '80s softcore, soap soundtracks and disco.
Grails, now made up of founder members Alex Hall and Om's Emil Amos, with Jesse Bates, Ilyas Ahmed, and Zombi's AE Paterra, have always made their love of movies pretty clear. Their last handful of records have drawn from vintage Westerns, exploitation movies and '80s video nasties, so it tracks that they should keep looking deeper in the moldy Blockbuster bins, which is where we find 'Anches En Maat'. This is the band's most boisterous, self-consciously corny set to date, bolted together from errant synth riffs, boxy exotica rhythms and disco strings.
It sounds like the kind of record you'd expect to find presented on 180g gatefold vinyl in 10 variants, reclaimed from a vault in deepest, darkest Italy. The band are clearly keen listeners, and make a racket that's alarmingly era specific. Slippery analog basslines rumble under dramatic guitar riffs and tense drums, and swooping orchestral sounds crash over emotional wails. For instrumental music, this doesn't half pack a gut punch. If you're into Finders Keepers, STROOM et al, give this one a closer look.
50th Anniversary edition of Conrad Schnitzler's Rot, his first solo LP from 1973.
Nothing short of a milestone in the history of electronic music, 'Rot' marked a radical point where man and musical machine became far better acquainted. Schnitzler was already integral to the genesis of both Tangerine Dream and Kluster, both bands born of the Zodiac Free Arts Lab in West Berlin during the pivotal year of 1968. By 1973, the convergence of subversive, counter-cultural philosophy and his studies under German Fluxus member and avant-garde artist Joseph Beuys converged in the stark, uncompromising logic of his solo debut.
It's a monolothic statement, shirking academic praxis and forging an instinctively steely sort of psychedelia embracing Beuys' "extended definition of art" to act as a bold conduit for the alien and, quite importantly, "new music", harnessing sounds made possible by analog synthesis. With this album he physically shaped a new soundworld, unafraid of using all of his machine's atonal and motorik capabilities to express something elemental and uniquely nuanced like little else before or since. Quite simply, it's heavier and more psychedelic than almost anything else from the same era, and yet somehow does it all with a wry sense of groove which was essentially a sort of proto-Techno, making it a crucial addition to any connoisseur's electronic music collection.
Catalyst of the kuduro phenomenon, Angola’s DJ Znobia gets his long-overdue flowers with the first of a four-volume deep dive into his archive conducted by the awesome Nyege Nyege Tapes - 100% crucial for DJs/dancers feeling Príncipe stars, Nazar, M.I.A., Fever Ray
Arguably the most influential African producer of the past 30 years, Sebastião Lopes aka DJ Znobia forged the kuduro (meaning “hard ass”) sound with early versions of FruityLoops software against the backdrop of a civil war that has been documented, for example, in Nazar’s hi-tech echo of the OG sound.
Galvanising traditional styles of semba, kilapanga, and kazukuta with a technoid chassis between the late ‘90s and mid ‘00s at home in the Barrio Do Rangel music (shantytown) of Angola’s capital, Luanda, Znobia forged a virulent, energetic sound that spread like wildfire to the rest of the world during the nascent blogging era of the internet, grabbing attention of M.I.A. who enlisted him to produce ‘Sound of Kuduro’ from her pivotal album ‘Kala, and resulting in consequent releases with early kuduro disseminators Enchufada and Diplo’s Mad Decent. Then, practically nowt until NNT stepped in for this unmissable session, sifted from some 700 unreleased tracks to give a proper handle on Znobia’s templates for kuduro and its sexier sibling, tarraxinha.
In parallel to FL-produced movements of grime or bassline in UK, baile funk from Brazil, or merengue in the Caribbean, kuduro represented the voice of African and Afro-diasporic modernity; an upfront and incendiary dance sound that selectively updated the past for jacked-in, jacking bodies of a new era. While nowadays perhaps best known internationally for the work of DJ Marfox, Nervoso, or Niggafox on Lisbon’s Príncipe, the seeds of kuduro are clear to hear in Znobia’s productions. Catapulted by slamming kicks, and syncopated with pinging percussion, screwy soft-synths and sampled vox, Znobia’s style still sounds ruthlessly upfront and fresh decades later, and never more primed for western dancefloors ever drawn to the rudest, ruggedest dance music finesse.
For peaktime players, the series’ full throttle kuduro cuts are unmissable, but a big part of its appeal owes to the number of revelatory, slower tarraxinha bits, too. For every high pressure bomb like ‘Zambinamina’, the 4/4 grime-esque ‘Wo’, body-bouncing ‘Cuba em Angola’, and the utterly ratchet kuduro-noise of ‘Pausa’ or ‘floor-animating ‘Tom e Jerry’, there are slow screwed zingers such as the ‘U uu’ with its noirish strings and clipped strut, or the shades-on ‘Esfregado’ with its jagged rave riffs - not to mention the porno-sampling ‘Piqueno’ - each set to a molten, dancehall and dembow-compatible 95-100bpm.
Along with the likes of Príncipe’s early Lisbon scene survey ‘DJs DI Guetto’ and DJ Marfox’s Revolução 2005-2008’, consider this unprecedented set of DJ Znobia trax absolutely necessary listening and historic tackle for anyone tracing the rhizome of contemporary Afro-diasporic dance music, and its links to hybrid western pop music of M.I.A. or Fever Ray, in the C20th.
50 year anniversary edition of Albert Ayler’s peak ’68 salvo clashing nursery rhymes and militant marches with free jazz fire music - essential listening for jazz, noise and psych nuts alike
After setting new high water makes for free jazz beside Don Cherry with ‘Ghosts’ (1965) and unleashing ’Spirits’ in 1964, Albert Ayler cut his most accessible, yet still freaking wild, album with 1968’s ‘Love Cry’. Perhaps best known for its transformative 10 minute finale, ‘Universal Indians’ the album is an end-to-end ravishing and playful masterwork which compromised to some extent on his fire music style with a more concerted bend toward prevailing psychedelic currents.
Propelled by Milton Graves percussive dervish and Alan Silva’s knotted basslines, Albert’s tenor and alto sax scorch are completed by a final recorded performance with his brother, Donald, who would depart the band for Cleveland in following months. The 9-piece record remains a towering example of the gush of energies that converged/diverged in wild style during the late ‘60s, prior to jazz’s fusion era, in step with the freedoms hard won by the civil rights movement and the emergence of new age consciousness that went hand in hand with psychedelia and associated drugs.
The fury of previous Ayler records is exchanged for wild optimism that draws from all corners, riddling popular nursery rhyme melodies and boisterous marches with Afro-Latin grooves and speaking-in-tongues vocals with an acidic flair and vibrancy that must have sounded wild upon original release, and arguably still stokes fires of the imagination with numbers such as the organ-spangled, Ra-esque ‘Zion Hill’ or gyring projections of ‘Love Flower’, not to mention that astonishing closer.
Black Twig Pickers and House And Land's Sally Anne Morgan endeavors to create new folk forms on 'Carrying', evaporating Appalachian folk traditions into warm, personal songs that dig deep into the emotions surrounding the birth of her first child.
For Morgan, songwriting is a spiritual process, a way for her to connect with her deepest feelings and connect to the wider world. 'Carrying' is a reflective record, made while she went through a number of significant life changes, but it's far from glum. With help from Pelt/Black Twig Pickers drummer Nathan Bowles, guitarist Andrew Zinn, Wooden Shjips guitarist Ripley Johnson and bassist/engineer Joe Dejarnette, Morgan reimagines well-worn folk tropes, playing guitar, fiddle and banjo and singing emphatically of her experiences. The songs are lavishly orchestrated and engineered, reminding us of Will Oldham's tight, tidy arrangements, but still embody the homespun charm of vintage Americana.
'Dawn Circle' is an early highlight, a lengthy jam that accentuates the unique qualities of Morgan's expressive vocal delivery. Playing intricate guitar riffs alongside Bowles' boxy rhythms, Morgan freewheels into impressionistic harmony. She comments that her process is almost religious, and the influence of praise songcraft is intensely apparent here. The instrumentation isn't always particularly traditional either; Matthew O'Connell adds synthesizer and tape loops to the elegiac 'Streets of Derry', a song that starts off simply enough but rolls into sublime, euphoric ambience.
Distorted Rooms by Vienna's Radian.
"Martin Brandlmayr (drums, electronics), Martin Siewert (guitar, electronics) and John Norman (bass) are stalwarts of the European contemporary music community. Radian’s angular, expansive music delights in tension and contradiction, sound and silence, improvisation and composition. The trio employ a singular and wholly unique sense of microtonality. While their creation process is complex, the resulting music is emotionally affecting, creating an aura of suspense and at times unease. Distorted Rooms presents a dazzling new elevation of the trio’s employment and manipulation of microtones with a new emphasis on abstracted guitar motifs, often employing a more loop-based or electronic approach to the guitar’s sonics.
Distorted Rooms creative process began as most Radian albums have, with multi-stage recording of often the smallest of sounds from pickscrapes to an amplifier’s latent hiss. These slivers of sound are then restructured and processed through a variety of techniques that transform them, at times subtly, and often more drastically. Radian has always been interested in sounds that might be considered byproducts and maximizing their creative and aural potential. Smaller gestures like switching a pedal on and off or toggling the guitar’s pickup are mic’d and spun into textures that crackle and froth to fascinating effect. The trio expertly hone in on sounds often removed from the sheen of the recording process and mine them for unique, rich textural sound palettes which they then use to paint their meticulous arrangements with.
Album opener “Cold Suns” traces out a fully three-dimensional sonic landscape in the gloom, spidery guitar architectures and gusts of weightless, skittering percussion arcing from amps while electronics blossom through the cracks. “Skyskryp12” highlights Radian’s use of dynamics to elicit an emotional response. On the track, Radian explains “Skyskryp12” “plays with the idea of recording an unamplified electric guitar (giving this really thin, ‘zingy’ sound) that only later comes into full flight when the big ‘wall of sound’ guitar amps kick in. There’s a very high dynamic range from the very quiet and abstract middle part to full on playing band in the end, with melodies buzzing around in the room. It's all about suspense.” “Stak” eliminates nearly all traces of the original performance while still maintaining a distinct physicality with its relentless forward-motion.
Throughout the album the trio masterfully blur the lines between human and machine to create a performance that sounds at once physical and unearthly. With ethereal guitar textures loosened from their original plucked notes and played percussion augmented with analog drum machines, Radian reconfigures the very bounds of what three musicians can create together."
Let the guessing games begin with a 3rd and final instalment of Light Sounds Dark's 'Crossed Wires' series stuffed with pulsing minimal wave, industrial scuzz, ambient vapours and fizzing synth-pop melodies.
Once more unto the tubes for Light Sounds Dark, sluicing high grade, low fidelity zingers from fuck knows where into a compilation that typically plays out like a lovingly hand-crafted mixtape from your deepest digging pal. There’s a discernible focus on pulsating instrumentals here, with no vocals to give the game away and leave everyone humming their melodies to shop counter clerks in hope of IDs. There’s one that sounds uncannily like a Chris & Cosey tune, and some really spangled, campy disco prancers sequenced along with fluttering pastoral arp escapades and dérives into sputtering drum machines and bloozy rock ’n roll riffs, also nestling one lush organ vibe out, but always returning to the eternal machine throb.
333 play it nice ’n easy with Nairobi Sisters’ warm roots reggae breezer and its haunting dub after shelling a load of digi-dub-dancehall zingers
Currently racking up one of the finest programmes of 2023, Death Is Not The End’s 333 series keep them coming with this reissued slice of ’75 sweetness, running the funky reggae sway of ‘Promised Land’, with Nairobi Sisters’s drifting, close vocal harmonies swaying over reggae soul breaks and chicken scratch guitar, laced with nyabighi drum rolls that bubble to the fore in the stripped back and subtly dubbed B-side version.
Schnitzler’s pulsating 1980 industrial electro kosmiche bullets are reloaded for a new century
Featuring two zingers co-written with Wolfgang Seidel (Kluster, Popülare Mechanic, Eruption) ‘Auf dem schwarzen’ is a standout number in one of electronic music’s most singular and distinctive catalogues.
The tang of potent German wizz is strong on this one, fuelling four cuts of propulsive motorik rhythm, vocoder vox and aerodynamic arps between the optimistic uplift of its title tune and the cosmic turbulence of ‘Elektroklang’, with the additional presence of Seidel (Schnitzler’s bandmate in krautrock supergroup Eruption) helping to simmer the swagger and up the fizzing synth mania of ‘Fabric’, and the spiralling vortex of ‘Der Wagen roll’, which surely recalls bits from Chris Carter’s ‘Spaces Between’ album of the same year.
Psychedelic Speed Freaks Asahito Nanjo & Munehiro Narita aka High Rise fill the tank and let rip on a long-out-of-print ’92 psych and garage rock zinger, including two bonus cuts
Beloved for their scene defining 1984 debut ‘Psychedelic Speed Freaks’, Nanjo & Narita collapsed free jazz, psyche, and garage rock into a potent brew between 1982 and 2002. ‘Dispersion’ emerged at the mid way point of their arc and trades in a rowdier adjunct to their oft cited peers Les Rallizes Dénudés or Keiji Haino’s Fushitsusha, pairing gas-guzzle bass guitar revs with percussive fury and copious feedback that gets hairs standing on end.
We can practically smell the sweat and amphetamine on opener ‘Outside Gentiles’, before they take the long road on ‘Sadducees Faith’ with howling solos giving way to a clattering mid way collapse and swaggering 2nd half. The LRD comparisons are most apt in ‘Nuit’ and destroyed quality of ‘Deuteronomy’, while the thunderous psych blues blow-out ‘Mainliner’ is the sort that puts a scissor kick in your step. The bonus cuts are exceptionally crude and brilliant, with ‘Monster A Go Go’ also reminding of a wilder Om, and ‘Induced Depression’ gets the blood up, we tell thee.
Prolific bass alchemist Sam Shackleton and Polish clarinetist/producer Wacław Zimpel team up with Hindustani classical vocalist Siddartha Belmannu on this breathtaking follow-up to 2020's 'Primal Forms'. High vibrational gear for advanced psychedelic explorers, this one's a fine addition to Shackleton's rapidly swelling canon - it's like ritual music assembled with the sensibility of Talk Talk, Zbigniew Preisner and Leaving Records' Arushi Jain.
Shackleton's had a pretty astonishing year already, if you've been paying attention. His last EP as The Purge of Tomorrow (Spring's 'The Other Side of Devastation') was a gorgeous, gamelan-led longform experiment, his full-length collab with DJ Scotch Egg 'Death By Tickling' was a chance for him to let loose with more dancefloor-focused material, and last month's collaboration with Heather Leigh as Flesh & The Dream is some of the most devastating gear we've heard from him in years. 'In The Cell of Dreams' again pairs him with hard-working Polish player Wacław Zimpel, whose pristine woodwind meshed with Shackleton's innovative bass explorations on 'Primal Forms' just a few years ago. Here they pick up where that album left off, adding transcendent voicework from Belmannu.
Shackleton starts us off on 'The Ocean Lies Between Us' with tender-but-stargazing metallophone hits, gently blending in pitch-fucked punctuations and watery echoes. Belmannu's raga pierces the psychedelic fog masterfully, warbling in the foreground before Zimpel's faint orchestral wisps add a melancholy narrative twist. Shackleton has approached Northern Indian classical forms before, but this is his most successful fusion. At this point in his evolution, the producer's expertise is implicit, he has little to prove and lets his sparse instrumentation take a relative back seat to his collaborator's chilling contributions. There's a constant rhythm, but it's gaseous and hazy, serving just to underpin Belmannu's powerful vocal performance and Zimpel's ghosted drones.
It would be hard to label the music as minimal, but there's not an element out of place. Like 'The Other Side of Devastation', 'In The Cell of Dreams' captures the blissful euphoria of Talk Talk's seminal 'Spirit of Eden', but diverts the energy in a different direction. The trio's use of raga forms, Eastern European and Baltic sacred music (think Arvo Part) and Indonesian traditional sounds isn't an arbitrary fusion, it connects emotions, histories and most importantly, people. It's deeply sensitive, transcendent material that we've had on repeat since it landed on our desks.