ATFA on their A-game with a debut album of Amapiano aces by Native Soul, the teenaged, Gauteng-based duo of Kgothatso Tshabalala and Zakhele Mhlanga (DJ Zakes)
Arriving in the vein of ATFA’s arguably overlooked zingers by Teno Afrika and DJ Black Low, Native Soul’s efforts should be set to catch fire with a rapidly expanding global audience for Amapiano, or at least its fervent UK fanbase. The tracks are perfectly calibrated with that Amapiano dark/light suspension system, balancing the trilling bass below the waist with atmospheric pads that get up in yuh head and grip the dance like little else right now. The pace is of course locked to SA’s favoured mid-tempo deep house velocity (we’ve heard stories of SA turntables with the pitch locked off at +4, lol), which to be honest does sometimes feel unusual in UK clubs, but soon enough locks everyone into its lathering groove.
Native Soul’s take on the still evolving genre displays a reserved emotive intelligence mature beyond their years, holding it down and lip-bitingly restrained in the tightest style. We’ll maintain that the best dancers we’ve ever seen hail from SA, and it’s perhaps no surprise when they’ve got this kinda gear to practice with; coming with tendon-tuning nuance in the hip-shot string stabs and puckered torque of ‘Ambassador’ ft. Ubuntu Brothers, and tucking in tight in-the-pocket on the brooding ‘United As One’, and with pure pensile suss in the delayed gratification of ‘Way To Cairo’ while the furtive progressions of ‘Letter To Kabza De Small’ and belly tightening hustle ‘End Of Time’, like much Amapiano, feel really strangely attuned to the tension and efficient energy conservation themes of the times.
In other words it’s a fucking massive tip!
On Maza Gusu, Mikado Koko transforms into Mother Goose, hissing Charles Perrault's fairy tales in her native tongue.
"Her unsettling, regressive voice is backed up by a subtle and chilling electronic soundscape sprinkled with traditional Japanese instruments, creating a realm of sound that feels both weirdly familiar and deeply unknown. Mother Koko hurls you deep down the rabbit hole, back to your darkest childhood anguishes, before gently leading you by the hand to a joyful catharsis. As you slowly get used to its disturbing familiarity, Koko’s music feels like waking up in the pale morning light, shaky but relieved after a feverish dream. In summer 2017 Mikado Koko started her solo career as a club music producer with the elements of Japanese traditional music. After many releases, remixes and compilations such as Seitō: In the Beginning, Woman Was the Sun (AKU1016), she now focuses on avant-garde poetry reading related to feminism and gender equality."
My Jazzy Child aka Damien Mingus releases his latest album with Parisian label Akuphone.
"« Innéisme » : The title alone sums up perfectly the 8th album of French artist My Jazzy Child. Inspired by Noam Chosmky's "universal grammar", it refers to man's innate ability to develop language. It is that English, Occitan, French patois, Hindi, Pygmy or French cohabit on this record, juxtaposing on rhythms and beats that appear as a fantasized primordial tradition.
If My Jazzy Child, questions languages about Innéisme, he also questions musical languages, mixing Asian rites and free jazz, electronic wanderings and traditional percussions. A virtuoso and experimental collage that nevertheless knows how to remain melodic and, in the end, strangely pop."
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
Lusia Kazaryan-Topchyan's second solo album under the Margenrot moniker is a mind-expanding journey into Armenian musical history, channeled through industrial experimental electronics. RIYL Muslimgauze, Lara Sarkissian, Shackleton.
On 'Nazani', a rolling Massive Attack-esque dub bassline cuts thru scraping industrial noise and blood-curdling vocals. Through this gaseous atmosphere, Kazaryan-Topchyan filters in Armenian vocals that pierce the darker sounds like a crack of sunlight in dense fog. If this sounds like an unusual blend of influences, it's certainly rare. Kazaryan-Topchyan's debut album "Zangezur" introduced the concept, but it's developed here even further; the fusion of sounds is unfamiliar, but entirely fitting. With a background playing in post-punk bands, Kazaryan-Topchyan has a well-developed grasp of industrial electronics, and as she explores her interest in Armenian traditional sounds, she finds unexpected harmonic resonances.
The cold wave 4/4 pulse that introduces 'Bitumen Poem' is eventually joined bytraditional percussion and woodwind, while a noisy oscillator gurgles in the background. A skeletal trip-hop beat guides the title track - like an industrial 'Teardrop' - but flourishes when it's met by Eastern-scaled synths that straddle two worlds. At other times, Kazaryan-Topchyan's intentions are more veiled: 'Signal' is a fuzzed-out rhythmic experiment that sounds like early Muslimgauze, while 'Sedation' is closer to Shackleton's recent psychedelic voyages, with disorienting electronic microtones, pinprick percussion and dubwise bass.
Techno’s answer to Basquiat scrawls freehand bangers and a smudged 16 minute scape on his first mission since those badass releases for DDS a few years ago
Yielding his first new material for a bit, the title of ’Str8 Crooked’ perfectly sums up Madteo’s loose-limbed irregularities squashed within. Picking up where he left off with the skewed techno boogies of the ‘Dropped Out Sunshine’, 'teo reaches deep in the top pocket for the wickedly scrappy log drums and rug-shredding syncopations of the title track before evening the keel with the rough hewn heft of his slompy jakbeat drums and unexpected pass-outs in ‘Build Back better Sweatshops.’
However, his magick best comes to the fore on ‘Episcopi Vagantes’ as he sprawls out over its 16 minute canvas with aerosolised pads, scribbly electronic voices and gasping dub chords that sound best if you take a step back, and squint a little, to properly take in its gently delirious form.
Tip, innit just!
Queer deep house pioneer Terre Thaemlitz hustles her entire DJ Sprinkles solo catalogue beyond the seminal ‘Midtown 120 Blues’ album in a crucial 19-track set of NYC-via-Tokyo gold, including many tracks popping their digital cherries for the first time.
‘Gayest Tits & Greyest Shits: 1998-2017 12-inches & One-offs’ sums up twenty years of action deep in the bowels of house with a precious suite drawing from rare and hard-to-find pearls scattered between the late ‘90s and end of the last decade. They span the specificities of a sound rooted in the gay scene of NYC from the late ‘80s onward, testifying to the minimalist, bass-heavy style that Sprinkles played at DJ residencies in transsexual clubs and would later take to Tokyo after moving there at turn of the millennium. For our money they’re some of the strongest, most distinctive deep house cuts of our time, holding true to the fundamentals of a style that would become mistranslated, misunderstood, and coopted by successive waves of deep house dilettantes.
Newly collected and presented in tandem with the ‘Midtown 120 Blues’ reissue, the 19 heavyweight club grooves still kill the old way, focussing on proper jackers drums and sphincter-tickle levels of subbass sparingly ornamented with samples in purist integrations of function and politics that don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. From the earliest Sprinkles cuts in ’Sloppy 42nds’ (1998), a tribute to the 42nd St. transsexual clubs destroyed by Walt Disney’s buyout of Times Square, and 2001’s ruddy nods to that classic Adonis motif in ‘Bassline.89’, thru to proper red-lit basement pressure in ‘Glorimar’s Whore House’, puckered darkroom suss in ‘Kissing Costs Extra’ or ‘Masturjakor’, and up to the heart-punching 10min+ reworks of his Terre Thaemlitz material, it’s a totally unmissable set for proper house heads and far beyond. It’s a document of phase-shifting times helmed by one of the most interesting and important artists of our age.
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
Lorenz Lindner aka Mix Mup/MM returns to his Molto project on this nebulous set of minimalist improvisations, compiled from various live performances and recommended fer the Visible Cloaks, Rupert Clervaux set.
'Centre De Recontre' is a whisper-quiet listening experience that hones in on the tiniest sounds, allowing them to grow carefully but assuredly. While 2015's "Versatile International Service" was hinged around jazz and library music, this new one feels rooted in Hiroshi Yoshimura's stripped-down environmental music, minimal dub and lower-case improv. Tracks like the 10-minute opener 'Set' live in mostly negative space, giving focus to percussive elements that might usually be drowned out. Rattling woodblock clacks and tin can smacks are the rhythmic accompaniment to electronic keys that meander - seemingly aimlessly - before being joined by faint general MIDI vox.
Lindner crafts chilling improvised soundscapes, but doesn't do it without humor; although the sonics are considered and precise, there's always a sense that by using these canned sounds and repurposing them so purposefully, he makes them more potent and eerie. 'Adore' mutates from quiet rattles and jazzy keys into an almost dubby grind, sounding like Juan Atkins and Moritz Von Oswald's "Borderland" collaboration on half speed. The title track meanwhile, a weighty 12 minutes of bells, pads and percussion, sounds as if Visible Cloaks were scoring an '80s giallo movie reinterpreted by an Eastern European theater company.
On the cover: Faust: On the eve of a new box set chronicling their 1970s music, the German band’s members and crew discuss their contrarian art of falling apart that has kept them going over 50 years. By Daniel Spicer. Plus, a survey of Faust’s often equally fractious contemporaries including: Amon Düül: A Bavarian psychedelic legacy. By Edwin Pouncey. Klaus Dinger: La Düsseldorf and other Neu! adventures. By David Elliott. Dieter Moebius: Clusters of collaboration.
Mary Lou Williams: Taking in vaudeville, bebop, gospel-inflected hard bop, free jazz and beyond, the late composer’s career is littered with gems of a prescient modernity. By Alexander Hawkins
Invisible Jukebox: Theresa Wong × Ellen Fullman: The Bay Area experimental musicians tackle a mystery record selection. Tested by each other
They Hate Change: Florida duo Tampa with rap’s DNA. By Neil Kulkarni
id m theft able: Water palaver for the improvising tuba player. By Joe Murray
More Eaze: Suburban collage from the Texas based composer. By Antonio Poscic
Siksa: Polish duo confront oppression. By Miloš Hroch
Unlimited Editions: C/Site Recordings
Unofficial Channels: Song Work
Global Ear: New York’s TIME:SPANS festival revives the intimacy of live sound
The Inner Sleeve: Carlos Casas on a Batavia gasometer pressure gauge plate
Epiphanies: Thomas Köner recalls formative vibrations
Print Run: New music books: sound art and climate change, a Deep South punkhouse, John Lurie’s memoirs, and more
On Screen: New films and DVDs: Great Noises That Fill The Air: Music, Poetry And Performance On Film; What Is Man And What Is Guitar?: Keith Rowe
On Location: Recent festivals, live events and streams: Alligator: Go!, Jazz Em Agosto, Bang On A Can Loud Weekend, Charlemagne Palestine, and more
On Site: Recent art shows: Ilia Rogatchevski & Laura Rogatchevskaia’s Echo Chamber; Sonambiente
The first Grouper album in 4 years finds Liz Harris stripped of FX, pairing her vocals with skeletal piano gestures in beautifully pregnant space. For anyone familiar with the miasmic fuzz of Grouper’s previous releases, the relative clarity is quietly shocking in effect, revealing her songs and sound at their most vulnerable, and, in the process, locating a newfound strength in fragility.
Grid Of Points was recorded in Wyoming shortly after Liz finished recording Grouper’s Ruins out in Aljezur, Portugal, and on the most immediate level it seems to describe the difference in recording locations between windswept Atlantic coastline and sparse, landlocked insularity. The seven songs were written over a week and a half, with the process curtailed by a bout of what she describes as “high fever”. What remains forms some of Grouper’s most legible lyrics and intimate instrumentation, with each piece framed by stark, unprocessed space working in the same role usually occupied by her billowing sheets of harmonic distortion.
Untreated and unfiltered, Grouper's voice rings plaintively clear, sometimes layered in ephemeral harmonies or curling off with jazz-soul wise inflections shadowed by modest piano phrasing in a crepuscular style that links back to all her previous work. Yet, in places the clarity is such that it almost feels like we the listeners have just been hearing her songs with clogged ears for the past decade and longer.
Ultimately, these results perhaps most acutely resonate with the etymology of Liz’s moniker - ‘Grouper’ as in member of a Fourth Way commune, The Group, which was inspired by the philosophy of George Gurdjieff, whose mystic meditations surely linger in the magick of Grid Of Points.
For their first multi-artist compilation, Music From Memory take us on a trip to the heart of the Amazon rainforest. Outro Tempo: Electronic and Contemporary Music From Brazil, 1978-1992 is a double LP that explores the outer reaches of Brazilian music, where indigenous rhythms mix with synthesizers and where MPB mingles with drum computers.
"As Brazil faced the last years of its military dictatorship and transition to democracy, a generation of forward-thinking musicians developed an alternative vision of Brazilian music and culture. They embraced traditionally shunned electronic production methods and infused their music with elements of ambient, jazz-fusion, and minimalism. At the same time they referenced the musical forms and spirituality of indigenous tribes from the Amazon. The music they produced was a complex and mesmerising tapestry that vividly evoked Brazilian landscapes and simultaneously reached out to the world beyond its borders.
The product of extensive research, this compilation is a unique introduction to this visionary music and features many fresh discoveries in a country well trodden by record diggers. It gathers tracks from obscure albums that have for too long been neglected by even the most avid collectors of Brazilian music. It includes now highly sought after music by Andréa Daltro, Maria Rita, and Fernando Falcão, as well as unknown gems like those of Cinema, Carlinhos Santos, and Anno Luz. This is an essential release that reveals a broader spectrum of Brazilian music, striking a unique sonic signature that is full of innovation, experimentation, and beauty.
Compiled by John Gómez and featuring extensive liner notes, Outro Tempo showcases this overlooked corner in Brazil’s rich music history for the first time."
Arvo Pärt has become something of a yardstick by which contemporary sacred music has been measured, and 'Alina' is arguably his most loved and imitated piece of work.
Für Alina was first performed in Tallinn in 1976, and has become one of Pärt’s most-loved and widely appreciated works - regarded by many as an early, defining example of his signature tintinnabuli style. In the years since its release, Pärt has become the most performed living composer in the world, his approach to religious music seeping deep into our cultural landscape, from the avant garde to the mainstream.
Rendered with nothing more than piano and violin, this definitive ECM version from 1999 features Vladimir Spivakov, Sergej Bezrodny, Dietmar Schwalke and Alexander Malter providing alternate versions, handpicked by Pärt himself from recordings that were originally several hours long. It’s a masterclass in simplicity; an almost painfully beautiful rendering of emotional landscapes that, in the wrong hands, could have (and has, on many occasions, by so many) turned to schmaltz.
Purely Physical Teeny Tapes excavate Aussie post-punks He Dark Age’s debut tape, originally issued in 1986 and absolutely impossible to find, now given a first ever vinyl edition destined to catch attention from Severed Heads, SPK and Pelican Daughters disciples.
Arriving on PPTT in the wake of aces by Laila Sakini & Lucy Van, Max Eilbacher, DJ Fitz and M. Quake, ‘Ecce Homo’ frolics in the scuzzy twilight of post-punk between 1983-1986 in and around Brisbane and Sydney, where He Dark Age’s Paul Newsome and Tony Millner forged a cranky and playfully janky style. They were part of a loose scene summed up on Efficient Space’s cherished ‘Oz Waves’ compilation, to which they contributed a highlight ‘Holding Out For Eden’, and explored a sound patently in thrall to some of Australia’s post-punk/post-industrial pioneers, with a possible clue to their name in SPK’s ‘Another Dark Age’ as well as a sampledelic wit no doubt inspired by Severed Heads, but also with a grubby oddness that recalls the gothic tint of Sydney’s cult properties, Pelican Daughters.
‘Ecce Homo’ (1986) remains a definitive testament to He Dark Age’s mid ’80s run, deploying a range of Korg MS10, Yamaha RX-11, a borrowed vocoder, guitars and bass in the years just prior to the advent of home computing. The original album’s 23 rough hewn but enchanting songs have been pruned back to 13 for this first reissue, from lissom new age in ‘I Have Come Back Deborah’ to the killer club banger on ‘Repent’, taking in American preacher Rex Humbard’s biblical declarations on ‘Jesus Didn’t Beat Him Over The Head’ and scalding EBM skronk on ‘The Book of Common Prayer’, tucking away their Oz Waves ace ‘Holding Out For Eden’, with their blend of gloaming noise and preacher samples in ‘The Master’ reminding of BMB’s ‘Hate Is Such a Strong Word.’ An idiosyncratic piece of the Australian underground music puzzle, Ecce Homo forms a unique DIY document from a part of the world that seems to have dominated our listening this last couple of years.
Contemporary classical minimalist Jürg Frey transmutes the poetic landscape observations of Gustave Roud (1897-1976) into haunting chamber works for Another Timbre.
Gustave Roud was a poet from the French-speaking part of Frey’s native Switzerland. He studied literature at the University of Lausanne and realised he didn’t want to return to life as a farmer, instead returning to live with his sister in the family’s farmhouse for the rest of his life, mooching in the countryside and mountains, detailing his thoughts in what would become a three volume Collected Works, as well as diaries and critical writings, plus lesser known work as a photographer.
After immersing in Roud’s work, Frey composed this collection in his honour, as he explains: “I first encountered Roud’s work more than 10 years ago, and the impact of his work on my music has been profound. I feel a close relationship to a poet whose mode of operation and sensitivity make a precise resonance in me. It’s a unique poetry that speaks from beginning to end of searching for the essence. I would like to compare his mode of work with that of a painter. Every day he went out, not with an easel, but with his notebook, and he wandered through the landscape as a flaneur, observer, writer, laying the foundations of his work with his notes. For me his work constitutes a kind of ‘field recording’, not with a microphone and sounds, but with his soul and body, recording his environment in the broadest sense. He perceived existential dimensions in the finest nuances of the weather, the landscape and its inhabitants, and made it the basis of his work.”
With quietly gripping results, Frey - and Stefan Thut (cello), Dante Boon (piano), Andrew McIntosh (violin), Regula Konrad (soprano), Stephen Altoft (trumpet), Lee Ferguson (percussion) - sensitively limn the Roud’s work with a painterly play of light and space, and quite literally thru the track titles, with the most enchanting of these bringing it all together, strings, wind, percussion, and transfixing vox based on Roud’s words, in the otherwordly evocation of ‘Farbiose Wolken, Glück, Wind (2009-11).’
Glowering debut LP of concentrated, razing guitar noise and resonant atmospheres from Christina Nemec (Chra) and Christian Schachinger, both erstwhile collaborators with the dearly departed Peter Rehberg in Shampoo Boy and Peterlicker
Practically picking up where Shampoo Boy left us, mid-decade on Blackest Ever Black, but with notable absence of their close spar Rehberg, Paradiso Infernal explore stark negative space with nods to the precise minimalism of Giacinto Scelsi on their eponymous entrance. The sound is chasmic, abstract and roiling, also reminding of KTL’s skull-scraped guitar textures between the squirming shapes and prickling surfaces of ‘Unrest’, and a nastier echo of Fennesz in ‘Fluch’, while summoning daemonic spirits with claw handed gestures on ‘Lack.’ Nearing its summit, ‘Kalk’ affords some respite with only stereo-swarming electronics shedding scant light on what appears to be a vast ice cavern, before the cavemen yank out walls of feedback, granting access to the album’s boss level 17 minutes of ‘Frosthart’, rent with unfathomable spatial parameters which they steadily flood with a raw but disciplined torrent of needling distortion.
Jürg Frey is present in his 7-piece Ensemble Grizzana, performing a suite of more conventional works that go easier on the silences.
The 2015 double album features Frey on clarinet surrounded in various arrangements by Mira Benjamin (violin), Richard Craig (flute), Emma Richards (violin), Philip Thomas (piano), Seth Woods (cello) and Ryoko Akama (electronics), performing 19 works written 2009-2014. Less prone to long, searching silences, as found on Frey’s more radical works, the music is still borderline liminal, but largely held back from ephemerality.
Frey’s clarinet is accompanied by Seth Woods’ sallow cello in the set’s beautiful opener ‘Petit Fragment De Passage’, which becomes a recurring piece performed by various configurations, from the perspectives of Ryoko Akama’s organ and Philip Thomas’ Piano keys, a string duet by Emma Richards (Viola) & Mira Benjamin (Violin), and Richard Craig (Flute) with Emma Richards (Violin) again, each as quiet captivating as the other.
But their strengths lie in the assembled ensemble pieces, which locate a tremulous democracy between their various voices in ‘Fragile Balance’ and the watercolour landscape of ‘Extended Circular Music No.8’, and with remarkably rich effect in the titular seven-part suite. Fans of Philip Thomas’ quietly unmissable ’Morton Feldman Piano’ set for Another Timbre will no doubt be charmed by his solo performance here, ‘Lieues D’ombres’, and in trio with Seth Woods and Frey on the haunting 30’ work ‘Area of Three’, and we’re reminded to the sacred sublime tension of Jakob Ullmann’s quiet music in the mesmerising hush of the ensemble’s ‘Ferne Farben.’
The 8th Instalment on Blundar, from Malmö-based producer Sacred Grove aka Teodor.
"A Sacred Grove Is A Place In A Forest Thought To Hold Spiritual Powers. Throughout History, These Sites Have Been Places Of Worship And Ritual. Since The Rave Boom Of 89’ - A New Generation Has Found An Alliance With Nature Steeped In Hedonistic Abandonment. So It Is A Befitting Alias For Teodor To Use In Order To Serve Us These Spiritual Excursions Into ‘Open Air’ Territory. While He Has Previously Donned This Mantle To Provide Atmospheric Lo-Fi Techno On The Japanese Label City-2 St. Giga (Then As A Duo With His Friend DJ Natto) - Here He Hits Closer To The Deep House Palette Of His 2017 Album ‘Neo Geo’ Under The Alias Fyodor The DJ.
For The 8th Instalment On Blundar, The Artist Has Worked Closely With The Label In Picking Out The Right Tracks From His Vast Archives. While The Tempo Sometimes Staggers Well Towards BPM Levels Of Hardcore Techno, The Touch Remains Gentle And Soft. This Genre-Defying Characteristic Owes A Lot To Video Game Music, And Especially Japanese Games, Where Teo Finds A Lot Of His Inspiration.
The First Track Bathes Us In Tropical Field Recordings Before Tripping Off Into A Relentless Tribal Groove - Countered By Meandering New Age Flutes. A2 Is A Fluid And Complex Piece, Vibrating With A Warm Tenderness All The While Maintaining A Minimal Progressive Path. A3 Deals In Crunchy Breakbeats And Layers Upon Layers.
On The Second Side, B1 Builds Through A Hazy Fog Of Tape Hiss, Pierced By The Bouncing Thud Of Sped-Up Bongos And An Arpeggio That Escalate It All Into Transcendental Euphoria. B2 Goes ‘Off The Grid’ For A Heady Trek Of Slippery Beats That Spill Out Into Small Flecks Of Breaks, All The While Gleaming Through The Doorway To A Sombre Ambient Jazz Score. Closing Off This 12” Is A Chilling High-Speed Chase Through A Neon-Flashing Night, Propelled By A Numbingly Hard Hitting Drum Machine Sequence.
The Artwork For BLUNDAR8 Is As Always Photographed By Mutantexture. The Photos - Which Were Taken During A Hot Summer By The Western Harbour Of Malmö - Were Picked Out By Teo As This Is A Place Of Great Significance For Him. A Place For The Daydreams Of Sun-Dazed Ravers."
Astral Industries’ fave Hanyo van Oosterom (The Chi Factory) re-enters the label’s orbit in duo with fellow dutch ether explorer Radboud Mens for a minimalist but lush ambient trip
Following the 2019 death of The Chi Factory’s J. Derwort, ‘The Transition Recordings’ see Hanyo continue to expand the group’s legacy, looping in explorative sound artist and producer Radboud Mens to assist in unfurling his vision of diaphanous pads threaded with silvery solo piano keys, murmuring ether voices and mesmerising touches of Hassellian 4th world wind.
In combination they cultivate a sort night garden sound full of sensory inference and esoteric suggestion, where sounds synaesthetically take on both visual and olfactory symbolism but never fully reveal their whole shape, kept in a state of transient impermanence or ephemerality that totally seduces the horizontal and plays out on the back of one’s eyelids.
Acid Jazz continue their licensing arrangement with Albarika Store, the legendary record label that defined the sound of Benin and influenced the entire region of West Africa and beyond.
"Recorded and issued in 1974, Le Sato is one of the earliest releases on the Albarika label and it is also one of the deepest. Sato is the term for the traditional rhythms that soundtrack Vodun (Voodoo) rituals and ceremonies in Benin. Performance of Sato is reserved for these sacred rites, which evoke the spirits of the dead and can last for several days and attract hundreds of people. Sato rhythms cannot be played outside of Vodun. A large ceremonial Sato drum is used, which measured over 1.5m in height. This drum is played using wooden stick beaters, the drummer dancing while playing. The Sato drummers are supported by percussionists and other drummers playing smaller drums. Together, they create unique, layered, trance-inducing poly-rhythms."
Submerged industrial and EBM toned techno from Argentina’s Interplanetary label
Check for the acid edged subaquatic techno scud of ‘pitochewer *mascapito version)’, some PAS style slinky rolige in ‘ideological mentor’, and the Sleeparchive-esque bleep techno burner ‘go on machine.’
Manchester family Space Afrika's Dais debut is a sprawling, genre melted tapestry of charged diasporic innovation and unshakably Northern, British working class eccentricity >> Like Dean Blunt, DJ Spooky, Cocteau Twins, Klein, West Mineral, Tricky, Third Eye Foundation, Actress 'n Michael Nyman boiled into a waxy narrative epic, 'Honest Labour' is as smoky and mysterious as it is rewarding. Undoubtedly one of the most viscerally affecting records of 2021.
Since 2014's "Above The Concrete / Below The Concrete" Joshua Inyang and Joshua Tarelle have been drawing a complex blueprint, displaying their influences and re-drawing each element to fit their ambitious creative vision. Initially spurred on by nth wave dub techno, and Raster Noton 'n Mille Plateaux's glacial, arty minimalism, the duo dug deeper into their shared musical DNA on 2018's sferic-released "Somewhere Decent to Live". This time they anchored their productions in 'nuum history, liquefying garage, jungle and grime hallmarks into glistening trails of pulses, pads and gestures.
Spurred on by last summer's global anti-racist protests, the duo widened their sonic universe with "Hybtwibt?", a heady collage of political subterfuge, biography and raw emotion. It was a rap beat tape without beats or raps, or an ambient album that had shelved the ambience completely, leaving inverted space and covert cinematic storytelling. This year's short, sharp "Untitled (To Describe You) OST" offered similar brainfood, mulling over concepts of identity and class with traces of drill and musique concrete.
'Honest Labour' is the sum of these component parts, and Inyang and Tarelle's defining statement to date. It's a fully silver-lined patchwork of high and low cultural squares that dissolves class, race and state identifiers in searing washes of familiarity and anxious experimentation. The euphoric post-jungle sparkle of tracks like 'yyyyyy2222' and 'solemn' is cut with warbling vocal dream pop ('indigo grit' and 'rings'), post-SND beat fukkery ('ny interlude') and k-holed industrial fuzz ('ladybird drone', 'like orchids').
But it's the duo's use of trip-hop and illbient tropes that truly tips their sound into jaw-to-the-floor territory. Standout single 'B£E' welds a vivid rap from MCR's Blackhaine over eroding breaks that sound like they've fallen off the back of Tricky's misunderstood "Nearly God" album. As words spell out a rainy working class reality where hope cracks thru grey concrete, Tarelle and Inyang bleed orchestral strings into the mix until they drown the rhythm completely. It's Massive Attack's 'Unfinished Sympathy' completed finally, evolved in a battle-scarred south Manchester petri dish.
"Honest Labour" is a Black British story that painstakingly weaves theory and raw open wounds with a passion for discovery and obsessive ear for sound. It's an album that linx Goldie's euphoric melancholy with Tricky's gender-flexing working class poetics, Actress's fuzzed-out high-minded syfy storytelling and Klein's noizy theatrical experimentation. It's one of 2021's most essential albums so far >> no doubt.
Slow and mystically purposeful does it for D.K. on ‘Eighteen Movements’, now available on vinyl after some delays, and snugly primed to sit next to his bewts with 12th Isle and Good Morning Tapes.
One of the subtlest and most enigmatic in a vast field of 4th world-building producers right now, D.K. here casts his magic at its most sublime and beatdown across six tracks recorded during live performances between 2017-2019.
They’re perhaps the most attuned and instinctive examples of his work, adroitly using pre-prepared elements in a airy sashay between passages of sloshing tabla dub (‘Clarity’), rustling tombak-like tones (‘Echo Chamber’), and lathered chorales recalling the Ghost In The Shell soundtrack (‘Full Consciousness’), before circling in on itself with rhythms redolent of Muslimgauze gone Balearic (‘Mirror’), and O Yuki Conjugate’s dirty ambient (‘The Other Side’), with a spellbinding 11 minute closer that captures and frames his work at its most lysergic and widescreen hallucinatory.
An evergreen ambient classic and FACT's #10 album of the ‘80s, also in Pitchfork’s Top 40 Best Ambient Albums of All Time, Steve Roach’s Structures From Silence returns to its spiritual home on vinyl more than 30 years since it first came into this dimension.
On his 3rd album, self-taught synthesist Steve Roach made a break from his previous two sides of Berlin-skool kosmiche and ambient to foster a far more delicate, focussed yet heavy-lidded style of new age ambient music that was mercifully shy of the style’s more cloying cliches, favouring subtly phasing repetition and suspense over space soap opera dramatics or hippyish fantasy.
The result is a seductively minimalist suite of space music in three parts, gently flowing upwards and outwards to beautifully introspective ends on Reflections In Suspension, before Quiet Friend cradles your heart in diaphanous sheets of satin synth, and Structures From Silence imperceptibly returns to 0 in a creamy wash of aqueous pads that feel like a Vangelis romance theme slowed to alien temporality.
Ambient gold, this. Don’t miss!
South Korean-born, LA-based producer, rapper and singer Park Hye Jin impressed with her "How Can I" EP and Clams Casino, Blood Orange and Nosaj Thing collaborations. "Before I Die" is a mixtape-like effort that combines disparate flavors of hip-hop and dance with sunny K-pop vocals and riffs.
'Before I Die' attempts a lot, but struggles to escape its cascade of influences. Park Hye Jin sounds most comfortable when she works in a house mode. Opening track 'Let's Sing Let's Dance' is the album's most successful track, her voice is assured whether singing or offering deadpan phrases and the production is propulsive and effective. But when she veers into overworked rap subgenres ('Before I Die', 'Where Did I Go') it gets a bit murkier.
It's not all bad news: 'Good Morning Good Night' is a blissful downtempo cut, and 'Can I Get Your Number' interpolates LA's short-lived jerkin' sound in a respectful way. But "Before I Die" is just too disjointed to fully lean into.