Thomas Fehlmann returns to the sediment of ages, drawing from a similar lexicon of sounds to that used on 2018's '1929 - Das Jahr Babylon'.
"Like that album, Böser Herbst was produced as the soundtrack to a documentary made by Volker Heise, Herbst 1929, Schatten Über Babylon, which offers historical insight to the third season of the television series, Babylon Berlin. It adds yet another string to the bow of this most forward-thinking and creative artist, whose history takes in NDW (Palais Schaumburg), techno (3MB) and psychedelic ambience (The Orb), plus a clutch of gorgeous solo albums that explore wide terrain, from the dancefloor through supine home listening to compelling soundtrack work.
Fehlmann's approach here was to "capture" samples of contemporaneous music, "picking up the dirt and dust of original 1920s archive sound and music excerpts and shaping the essence into this selection of tunes," he recalls. After delivering the material to the editing room, Fehlmann "threw all the pieces up in the air, deliberately lost the overview in consequence, researched the atmospheric thread and assembled it for this album."
"In an industry always pinning its hopes on the next big trend, Benny Sings is in it for the long haul. The Dutch artist has honed a signature sound while creating a colorful catalog of essential pop gems that have led to loyal global following.
Benny’s songs are sophisticated and easy to fall in love with, ear-worming melodies and sticky choruses the result of years of craft that have made him the ultimate songwriter’s songwriter. Rex Orange County, with whom Benny wrote the platinum hit ‘Loving Is Easy’, says, “In my opinion he’s one of the most underrated producers and artists going.”
Benny cut his teeth as a studio collaborator and to this day is as comfortable working with a huge range of musicians as he is writing his own distinct songs. He says: “I’ve learned along the way that working with other artists enriches my music. I’m a bit of a loner, and because of that I’ve always had more affinity with songwriters than with musicians. Over the past few years I’ve been actively chasing collaborations with kindred spirits.”
Some of those kindred spirits bring their talents to new album Music. Mac DeMarco lends deadpan vocals to ‘Rolled Up’; Tom Misch contributes a blazing guitar solo to ‘Nobody’s Fault’; the title track was written with songwriter P.J. Morton, and ‘Kids’ features L.A. rapper KYLE. Cautious Clay appears on the laid-back pop song ‘Run Right Back’, and Kelsey Gonzales of The Free Nationals and Emily King contribute vocals to the ecstatic, gospel-influenced ‘Miracles’. Music was engineered and mixed by Renaud Letang, of the famed Studios Ferber in Paris.
Before Benny even started working on the album, he had an idea for a song that he knew would be a perfect fit for Mac DeMarco. When the two artists met up in L.A., they wrote ‘Rolled Up’ together almost effortlessly – even its opening lyric came about by happenstance, overheard from someone in the street. A song about feeling down without any reason, ‘Rolled Up’ is a counterpoint to the album’s generally upbeat tone."
R.I.Y.L. Jason Molina, Bonnie Prince Billy, Bill Callahan, Damien Jurado.
"The raw inspiration for Vague Tidings came from a 2006 DIY tour of the 49th state. It was a trip that went off the beaten path sometimes a bit too far for comfort. Now, over a decade later, listeners find Joe O’Connell aka Elephant Micah stationed at a creaky spinet piano, singing about the Alaskan sky. Throughout, his lyrics take a new angle on a pet theme: human encounters with the natural world. Vague Tidings places these encounters in the American West and, at times, in its sci-fi corollary, outer space. Its imagery draws from the allure of Alaska, the idea of Western prosperity, and the human relationship to wilderness more broadly. Often, O’Connell sings about the goal of capturing and commodifying nature. In poetic sketches of resource extraction industries and dark sky tourism, frontier lust runs amok. Pipelines catch fire and stars disappear, all to the tune of a stark, uncanny Americana.
Vague Tidings is a sustained, hallucinatory rendering of this theme. In style, its eight songs follow a switchback path between foggy incantations and mountain anthems. Made with a small cohort of acoustic instrumentalists, the record is rough hewn, but easy on the ears. To put Vague Tidings down on tape, O’Connell assembled some of his favorite musicians in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina area, where he’s lived since 2015: Libby Rodenbough (Mipso) bows and plucks a detuned fiddle, Matt Douglas (Mountain Goats) breathes life into various woodwinds, and Matt O’Connell (Lean Year) sets the pace on a two-piece drum set. Their loose, imaginative playing pushes Vague Tidings beyond the singer-songwriter genre into something richer in texture. Ultimately, this is foreboding but spacious music, with plenty of room for reconsidering life on earth."
'Synopsis Seriation,' Hecker's latest release with Editions Mego, draws upon current research in machine listening and music information retrieval, where the 'ghosts in the machine' are unsupervised, engineered operators designed to extract auditory features from a signal.
"The album advances a general research programme Hecker initiated through various projects. In 'A Script for Machine Synthesis' (EMEGO 226, 2017), the third chapter in the trilogy of text-sound pieces in collaboration with Reza Negarestani, both a resynthesized and a computer-generated voice modelled after the narrators voice, reflect on systems of language, automatons and chimerized synthesis. 'Articulação Sintetico' (EMEGO 180C, 2017) — a complete resynthesis of 'Articulação' (EMEGO 180, 2014) — features synthetic voice models of Joan La Barbara, Sugata Bose and Anna Kohler. Central to 'Inspection II' (EMEGO 268 / UF047, 2019) is a bespoke computer-generated voice, reciting Robin Mackay's libretto — by means of deep neural networks and machine listening computation, perpetually crossing formal anticipations of sound analysis to the unexpected artefacts of synthesis**.
'Synopsis Seriation' does away with such staging of computer-generated speech. It dramatises synthetic sound in all its unnameable intensities and detail by transforming four multichannel pieces Hecker produced since 2015. These have been analysed, dissected and reconstructed utilising information geometry, a subfield of mathematics at the interaction between statistics and differential geometry, designed by Vincent Lostanlen. Similarities and logical segmentation, partly accessible to the human listener, partially exclusive to virtual listening agents, open a dialogue with these spectral operators. Moving between analysis and synthesis, they render audible their intelligence signature, the signal trace of their nonhuman brain-ear, between discriminative and generative models. This newly seriated arrangement of 'Synopsis Seriation' further abstracts and detours the appearance of specific motifs, sequences and characters, into a hallucinatory gaze. Remembrance of what has just been heard, in which formulation and mode of synthesis continually navigate between sensible and highly formulated registers. Resembling George Seurat's perception of the Seine, 'Synopsis Seriation' is a streamlined, structured whole. Yet, by embracing time, succession, and sound as an immaterial, its multitude of auditory perspectives and encoded logic challenges a traditional synoptical overview of analytical architecture and resynthesized sensation."
A surprise cassette released April 2020, Songs for Pierre Chuvin is the Mountain Goats’ first all-boombox album since 2002’s All Hail West Texas.
"After selling over 4000 cassettes in a matter of minutes, the avid Mountain Goats fanbase has demanded more and we are happy to acquiesce! Songs for Pierre Chuvin will be available on CD and LP on March 26, 2021. Praise for Songs for Pierre Chuvin: “Recording on the same boombox that launched his career, John Darnielle returns to his lo-fi roots for an album of alienation, ancient pagans, and making it through the year together.” Pitchfork
If you ever wanted to know what the music of an unborn fetus sounds like, here is your answer! It's apparently cod-Maurizio Bianchi industrial soundscapes. Who fucking knew?
So the story with this one is that Elizabeth Hart and Iván Diaz Mathé hooked up a biosonic MIDI device to Hart's stomach, and piped the data through Mathé's synth rig. They claim to have let these "free-form meditations" flow without interference, so they would more accurately translate the sound of their unborn child Luca Yupanqui. Honestly we're not so sure how this would be possible unless the amniotic sprog had a working knowledge of her dad's synth collection and the general principles of MIDI.
Anyway, the record sounds like a long, messy industrial synth jam - fancy it?
Finally available once again, "Keyboard Fantasies" was originally self-released on tape in 1986 and contains some of Beverly Glenn-Copeland's most fascinating material. An FM-synthesized combo of new age private press eccentricity and accidentally prophetic Detroit techno futurism. So good!
'Keyboard Fantasies' was entirely recorded using a Yamaha DX-7 synthesizer and a Roland TR-707 drum machine, giving Glenn-Copeland's third album a glassy, robust character that sets it apart from many of its contemporaries. Tangentially, he was working in the new age sphere, but his eerie homespun compositions pointed at far more more mind-expanding, idiosyncratic places.
While opener 'Ever New' (a highlight of last year's fantastic Glenn-Copeland primer "Transmissions") is charmingly light-hearted, with Glenn-Copeland's vocals layered over chiming BBC Radiophonic Workshop synths, 'Slow Dance' sounds more like slow techno, operating in the same realm as Yellow Magic Orchestra with synth bells and voices spun around a grinding 707 beat. Elsewhere, the jazzy 'Old Melody' sounds like a discarded cue from Angelo Badalamenti's "Twin Peaks" soundtrack, or an interlude from Air's "Moon Safari". Lovely.
Finnish future jazz eccentric Jimi Tenor collects a bevy of unreleased tracks from his fertile Warp era on this fun, free and funky set.
Between 1993 and 2000, Jimi Tenor was composing and recording music at an alarming rate. His bundle of Warp albums was honored on last year's "NY, Hel, Barca" set, and "Deep Sound Learning" goes deeper, exploring the Finnish multi-instrumentalist's extensive vault of unfinished demos and unreleased material.
Anyone who hear Tenor's classic run with albums like "Organism" and "Out of Nowhere" should know what to expect. Brittle tropicalia, leftfield jazz, sweaty library music funque, eerie Italian giallo vibes and slippery acid house. Tenor inhabits his own universe completely, not lifting music styles but folding them into his peculiar, effervescent and unashamedly passionate celebration of sound.
'Described by Richter as “a place to think”, VOICES was a response to our tempestuous political climate and the enduring need for compassion. VOICES 2 develops this principle, continuing and intensifying the “place to think” concept.
"While the first part of the project focuses on the text of The Universal Declaration Of Human Rights and its uplifting vision – opening with the 1949 recording of Eleanor Roosevelt reading the Declaration, and including excerpts read by a global community of 70 voices – VOICES 2 opens up a meditative musical space to consider those ideas raised by the first record,"
Dry Cleaning release their debut studio album ‘New Long Leg’ on 4AD. The 10-track long-player, which includes ‘Strong Feelings’ and last year’s single ‘Scratchcard Lanyard’, was recorded over two weeks last summer at Rockfield Studios in rural Wales with producer John Parish (PJ Harvey, Aldous Harding).
"Following on from their thrillingly taut 2019 EPs ‘Boundary Road Snacks and Drinks’ and ‘Sweet Princess’, ‘New Long Leg’ is more ambitious and complex, with Shaw’s spoken vocals tightly intertwined with the band’s restless instrumentals. With lyrics preoccupied by themes like dissociation, escapism, daydreaming, complicated feelings of love, anger, revenge, anxiety, the kitchen, lethargy, forgetfulness and survival, Shaw says, “the title isambiguous; a new long leg could be an expensive present or a growth or a table repair.” Dry Cleaning was formed by friends Tom Dowse, Nick Buxton and Lewis Maynard after a karaoke party in 2017 inspired a collaboration.
They wrote instrumentally to begin with until six months later Florence Shaw, a visual artist, university lecturer and picture researcher by day - with no prior musical experience - turned up to a band rehearsal armed with reams of her own collected writing and a copy of Michael Bernard Loggins’ Fears Of Your Life to read out over the music. Before long she was the group’s frontperson, contributing words of her own and serving as the perfect foil to the band’s music."
Southern gothic shoegaze soul from Sharp Veins, debuting on Andrew Lyster’s YOUTH with a sorely affected album distilling aspects of A.R. Kane, B.o.C, and SALEM with fugged-up bedroom atmospheres in a brittle but tender style.
Finding his place on the Manchester label between Sockethead’s cranky blatz and the smoked-out downstroke of Dijit, ‘Lips The Same Colour’ reveals Sharp Veins’ burned-out soul at its most vulnerable and absorbing. It’s a lushly depressive come-down from the giddy rush of his self-released album ‘Armor Your Actions Up In Quest’ in 2020, and previous excursions on Different Circles and NYC’s UNO, betraying a syrupy emotive core dematerialised in clouds of reverb and harmonised pads, anchored in some of his most disciplined nods to rugged US hip hop drums and emo rap tropes.
In slowing down and opening up his sound to downbeat, pop-wise levels, Sharp Veins comes into his own amid a new wave of artists expressing the melancholy of modern life, with a personalised sound design that says as much as his bleak lyrics and ohrwurming melodies. Everything feels eviscerated and held in suspended animation, attempting to expunge ubiquitous emotions.
Between the numbed doomy tension of ‘Unless’, with its plagent vocal lament, to the gutted cry of “what the f*ck am I doing here?” in ‘Bastard Swarm’, Sharp Veins strikes a nerve on the tinny shimmer of ‘Glue Forest’ and continues under the skin with the B.o.C.-like wooze of album centrepieces ‘Paste 1’ and the Paddy McAloon-on-blues screw of ‘Paste 2’, with a deeply disarming moment to be discovered in ‘A Promise’ and unmistakeable echoes of A.R. Kane on the radiant elegy ‘For Gigi.’
Tune-Yards' fifth studio album, ‘sketchy.’
"Tune-Yards’ last release, ‘I can feel you creep into my private life’, was a self-reflexive question mark at the end of a decade of outspoken, polyphonic indie music. From 2009 to 2018, Tune-Yards (both Merrill and her partner and collaborator Nate Brenner) released four critically acclaimed albums, travelled the world relentlessly to play live shows and composed the psychedelic score to Boots Riley’s surrealist cinematic masterpiece ‘Sorry To Bother You’. “We had really been non-stop hustling,” Merrill reflects. “And when we’re hustling, we’re complicit in all of the systems that I really don’t believe in.” Interrogating these systems and her role within them had left Merrill feeling heavy with grief and lost about how to move forward.
The duo pressed on, inspired by the Beastie Boys Book and Questlove’s Creative Quest and began jamming daily for hours in their home rehearsal studio “like athletes.” They ditched computer screens for live instruments (Merrill on drums, Nate on bass) and before long full songs started to emerge. Unlike the lyrical introspection of previous outing ‘I can feel you creep into my private life’, on ‘sketchy.’ Merrill balances self-inspection and reflection with bombastic rallying cries, reminiscent of the furious tones of early days Tune-Yards. The result is a colourful and joyous record with lyrics that cut to the bone. “I started remembering that people come to us to be entertained, to move, to feel joy. And together, I think, we can wake up.”
NWW’s 2009 recording resurfaces, backed with Colin Potter’s exclusive new iteration distilled from multiple versions by the band’s visionary synthesist.
‘Cabbalism III’ was the result of NWW meeting Blind Cave Salamander in Venice, where the latter were playing support for them at Teatro Fondamente Nuove.’ NWW thought that Blind Cave Salamander’s set sounded a bit like their classic ’Soliloquy For Lilith’ and suggested recording together. Two years later the final piece was conceived in Turin and the limited edition release quickly turned into a collector’s item. Due to demand the piece is now available again, backed with an extra track made by Colin Potter using sources from all three previous ‘Cabbalism’ recordings, completed at IC Studio, London 2020.
It’s not hard at all to hear how the original ‘Cabbalism III’ resonates with the legendarily spooky presence of ’Soliloquy For Lilith’ - arguably thee blueprint of dark ambient music - and it’s easy to understand how it became a fan favourite. It’s equally apparent that Colin Poter’s new megamix, of sorts, will deeply satisfy those fans’ cravings, too. For 45 minutes the master synth alchemist generates a gloaming cloud system of layered drones and trembling strings tones recalling the heights of Deathprod circa ‘Morals And Dogma’, with imperceptible transitions between unfathomably wide, steep and keening masses of synthesised electronics.
‘Island’, the latest album from Oscar-nominated composer and songwriter Owen Pallett.
"Almost entirely acoustic, ‘Island’ begins with 13 darkened chords and was recorded live at Abbey Road Studios with the London Contemporary Orchestra. The introduction is the sound of waking up alone and on the shore of a strange land. What follows is a shimmering and luscious orchestral album that draws across the full breadth of Pallett’s discography, from ‘Heartland’’s Technicolor to the glittering, fingerpicked guitar that marked Pallett’s first records with their trio, Les Mouches.
In addition to Pallett’s Grammy Award-winning work with Arcade Fire, Pallett’s commissions have included string, brass and orchestral work for Last Shadow Puppets, The National, The Mountain Goats, Christine and arrangements for Frank Ocean, Caribou, R.E.M., Linkin Park, Sigur Rós, Taylor Swift and the Pet Shop Boys. Since the release of ‘In Conflict’ (2014), Pallett has earned an Oscar nomination for their film scoring work on Spike Jonze’s ‘Her’ and an Emmy for Sølve Sundsbø’s ‘Fourteen Actors Acting’."
Hedvig Mollestad Thomassen – guitar/Ellen Brekken – bass/Ivar Loe Bjørnstad – drums.
"Only nine months after her momentous debut solo album Ekhidna, the guitarist is back fronting her trio. With their previous album, Smells Funny, this explosive and expansive trio experienced a breakthrough of sorts, having gone from strength to strength through five albums since their 2011 debut Shoot!, gathering respect from both rock and jazz camps, sharing big stages with the likes of John McLaughlin and Black Sabbath, and being equally comfortable on jazz and rock stages. Hedvig enforced this breakthrough with Ekhidna, appearing on both jazz and rock best of 2020 lists, like coming in third in Prog´s “Album of the Year” poll.
She was included in Downbeat´s “25 for the future” and received heaps of international attention and great reviews.With the hypnotic title track, the spacious ballad Four Candles and generally a more varied mood, Ding Dong. You´re Dead. is the trio´s most dynamic album to date. That said there´s still enough solid and creative riffing here to satisfy the headbangers, as well as the jazzheads, as they further explore the free and open landscapes most notably started with their Black Stabat Mater album and continued with Smells Funny. As Nate Chinen wrote about "Black Stabat Mater" in JazzTimes: Her trio, which has Ellen Brekken on bass and Ivar Loe Bjørnstad on drums, caught my ear then with its audacious style references: the loose swagger of early Black Sabbath; the density and prowl of peak Led Zeppelin; the expeditionary urge of Jimi Hendrix; the incantatory fervor of John McLaughlin.
As recent performances have shown, online and in the flesh, this trio radiates confidence and have become a surefire hit on the Norwegian live scene. And while we rightly praise Hedvig´s exceptional abilities, let´s not forget how important the rhythm section is to make it all work so well. Ellen Brekken is an accomplished bassist, driving the band just as hard on the electric bass as on the acoustic. Then there´s Ivar Loe Bjørnstad, not your regular rock drummer, not your regular jazz drummer, but in possession of the loose swagger mentioned above.Hedvig first picked up her mother´s acoustic guitar at ten, before discovering a whole new world through her father´s jazz and rock record collection as a teenager. She was given her first electric guitar and amplifier as a confirmation present."
Trust Montreal's anti-capitalist post-rawk heroes to rustle up the ideal soundtrack to global collapse. It's their most charged material in years: raw, deliriously cinematic and rich with serrated urgency.
New albums from Mogwai and Godspeed in a matter of weeks? Is it 1998 again? We're not complaining - this flickering, silvery opus from GY!BE is among their most satisfying sets to date. "G_d's Pee AT STATE'S END!" finds the band in an awkward comfort zone, inspired by 2020's pandemic and subsequent global collapse to dust off their shortwave radio and compose a fuzzed-out response to the failure of the state system. It makes a lot of sense; since they debuted with "F♯ A♯ ∞" they've never been quiet about their anti-fascist, anti-corporate, anti-state views. With this in mind, "G_d's Pee AT STATE'S END!" is almost a "told ya" moment, or a euphoric apology for decades of prophetic post-rock doom-saying.
Weaved together with crackly snippets of shortwave hum, the album almost begins like John Carpenter's "Prince of Darkness" with spine-chillingly indistinct chatter that signals isolation, desperation and media distortion. From there, the band allow their glacial compositions to hiss and crack through each distinct movement. At this stage in their career they have nurtured a rapport that sings as loud as any instrument, and twinned with their timely creative surge this has led to tracks that feel like a distillation of GY!BE's best qualities. The thrumming crescendos, Kraut-fed percussion, thick walls of layered feedback, near-classical compositional care and an unashamedly widescreen grasp of narrative. Godspeed sound heavier, tighter and more vital here than they have in ages. Who else could craft such elegiac, melancholy doom for the end of the world?
Rod Modell's Deepchord follows on the 'Hash Bar Loops' session with a more detached serving of 20 washed-out and introspective 'Electroacoustic Soundfields'.
These tracks epitomise Modell at his most intimate and fascinating, using granular synthesis and generative software to unfold his analogue hardware source material and field recordings into ghostly clouds of hiss and morphing bass geometries perfect for late night immersion. Those looking for his signature dub house anchors may be disappointed, but if you've always wanted to hear Rod float off like some metaphysical spirit over nocturnal inner-city nightscapes like something out of Gaspar Noé's 'Enter The Void', this one's for you...
Drummers Lee Buford of The Body and Zac Jones from Braveyoung conjure dubbed out illbient spells from spacy, overdriven breaks on their debut full-length. Proper grotty goodness like We TM, DJ Spooky or I-Sound.
Buford and Jones have been collaborating for years, but "World Vision Perfect Harmony" is their debut as a duo, assembled as a way for the two drummers to explore a shared interest in creative percussion techniques. Illbient is almost the perfect mode, and the two create a deliciously eerie atmosphere, combing their drumming with electronics and blurring the line between live performance and sampling.
Abstracting rhythms that have sat at the root of jungle, no-wave, dub and hip-hop, Manslaughter 777 make a compelling noise that feels surprisingly contemporary. With the resurgence of interest in trip-hop, surely illbient is due a revival some time soon? In the meantime, this is exactly what the doctor ordered.
Pleasantville electronics and piano for fans of Helios, Tycho or Boards of Canada.
LA composer and songwriter James McAlister is best known for his work with Sufjan Stevens, but he's appeared on records with Lorde, Taylor Swift and St. Vincent, among many others. Here he goes it alone on a deeply personal collection of shimmering instrumentals that fit into the hazy, meditative world you might expect to encounter on a Helios record: thick sub bass, emotional piano and the kind of emotive synth pads that Steve Roach has made his calling card over the years.
"Scissortail" is a feel-good record, despite being somewhat melancholy. It's made up of sounds that are engineered to bring a smile to your face alongside a requisite nostalgic tear. The emotional world shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who's listened to Sufjan Stevens - there are certainly parallels - but anyone looking for more hazy soundtrack music to wack on in the background that isn't going to have you climbing the walls, this is a safe bet.
Tomahawk, featuring Duane Denison (The Jesus Lizard / Unsemble), Trevor Dunn (Mr. Bungle / Fantômas), Mike Patton (Faith No More / Mr. Bungle, etc.) and John Stanier (Helmet / Battles), return with their first full-length album in eight years.
‘"Tonic Immobility’ could just be something in the air we’re feeling,” says Denison. “It’s been a rough year between the pandemic and everything else. A lot of people feel somewhat powerless and stuck as they’re not able to make a move without second guessing themselves or worrying about the outcomes. For as much as the record possibly reflects that, it’s also an escape from the realities of the world. We’re not wallowing in negativity or getting political. For me, rock has always been an alternate reality to everything else. I feel like this is yet another example.” Tonic Immobility’ is the fifth studio album and Tomahawk are one of the biggest Mike Patton projects outside of Faith No More and Mr. Bungle (whose recent album is still charting around the world)."
Hallowed experimental pop-soul sermons that build on 2018's gorgeous, vocal-rich "Soil".
Serpentwithfeet applied a fresh coat of hi-gloss with last album "Soil", enlisting the help of producers like Clams Casino and Tri-Angle labelmate Katie Gately - "Deacon" finds the producer diving into even more personal realms, touching on spiky club forms simultaneously. These songs are soulful musings on serpentwithfeet's emotional world, dedicated to friends and lovers and struck through with feelings that emerge too rarely from contemporary pop. The production is often skeletal - 'Same Size Shoe', for example, is barely more than a kick and snare combo - allowing the complex vocal arrangements to yet again take the spotlight, building in blissful harmonic layers one by one. And by combining a love of gospel music with an implicit understanding of R&B radio pop formula and deep knowledge of experimental ambient music, serpentwithfeet has a winning, idiosyncratic formula. He's basically managed to achieve whatever it is people think James Blake is doing and does so without grandstanding.
'Amir' sounds like an alternate universe 'No Scrubs', all tearful and dense with chopped acoustic guitar and neck snapping '90s R&B production tics. While NAO collaboration 'Heart Storm' finds serpentwithfeet at his most euphoric, fusing choral music with waves of analog synth ambience. Closer 'Fellowship' is the pick of the bunch: a bonafide tearjerker, effortlessly inverting brittle Afrobeats-esque percussion for one of the sweetest musings on friendship we've heard in ages. If "Deacon" doesn't move you at all, you've got a heart of stone honestly. Church music for lovelorn heretics.
Reissue of a cult LP by master Japanese drummer George Otsuka and his quintet, recorded live on 19th July 1975 at the Nemu Jazz Inn.
"A unique time capsule, the album finds the quintet on fire and “Loving You George” is a vivid testimony that Otsuka and his musicians were at the top of their game and one of the best groups in Japan, playing a mix of modal and groovy tunes full of exciting and inspired solos. The album “Loving You George” is comprised of four superb performances fuelled by Otsuka powerful drumming and Fumio Karashima’s fender Rhodes. It also includes a wonderfully funky take on Minnie Riperton’s ‘Loving You’. It comes with original artwork featuring OBI strip and audio remastered from the master tapes by King Records in Japan."
Clark with his debut release for Deutsche Grammophon.
"Playground In A Lake has been over 5 years in the making, slowly unearthing a new style and a the right, unique musical vocabulary to capture a vast notion. With Playground In A Lake Clark delivers a full concept work that touches and intertwines themes of climate change and lost innocence. Using boundary pushing elements, this recording tears through the fabric of traditional composing."
Arch explorer of EVP and paranormal recordings, CMvH is joined by John Duncan, Joachim Nordwall and other members of the Swedish avant fraternity at the opening of his 2018 solo exhibition in Gothenburg
‘INSNITT’ captures 30 minutes of roiling subharmonic frequencies and anxious scrabble made at 3:e Våningen, Gothenburg on September 14th 2018. It arrives over 40 years since his first recordings to witness the Swedish polymath flanked by a coterie of longtime collaborators including Leif Elggren, Jean Louis-Huhta, and Henrik Rylander, plus the aforementioned, charging the air with stressed electronics that resemble the sounds of shearing metal and hi-pitched, whirring mechanicals.
Their massed effect is saturated with sense of hyperrealist psychedelia, appearing to physically keen and lurch in 3D in a way that ultimately makes us feel seasick and rinsed out by the end. Perhaps it’s best recommend to those listeners with strong sea legs and a tolerance for this kind of northerly climate sounds.
Electric Jalaba comprises six accomplished musicians with an empathy that feels telepathic and a groove that immerses. In Arabic, the mother tongue of Moroccan-born singer and guimbri player Simo Lagnawi, a leading practitioner of Gnawa music in Britain, they call this indefinable quality, “El Hal” – “The feeling”.
“It’s the feeling that comes when we’re playing and totally forgetting where we are,” says producer and bassist Olly Keen. “The feeling of being grabbed by the music and lost in the groove.” ‘El Hal / The Feeling’ is the new third album from Electric Jalaba and their first release in five years. It’s a multi-faceted work that finds the band tighter than ever, deploying a vast cache of influences across nine tracks improvised and developed in their south London studio then deftly produced by Keen. Some tracks pay homage to the origins of Gnawa music, whose repertoire of Arabic-language praise songs contains remnants of West African dialects – Bambara from Mali, Fulani and Hausa from the Sahel region – that point to a centuries-old migration.
“The trance-inducing effect of Gnawa was what hit us first. It was visceral, heart stopping,” continues Olly, whose siblings – producer / keys player Henry Keen, guitarist / multi-instrumentalist Nathaniel Keen and singer / multi-instrumentalist Barnaby Keen – make up Electric Jalaba alongside revered Anglo-Italian kit drummer Dave De Rose and Simo on vocals, krakeb and guimbri. “Simo selected the chant from the traditional song suites and, as a band, we extended these short pieces of ceremonial music and experimented with sound and structure,” explains Olly. Tracks include the Juno-led dancefloor single ‘Cubaili Ba’, ‘Agia Hausa’, a multi-layered wig-out that partly takes its inspiration from Senegal’s fiercely percussive mbalax rhythms and ‘Daimla’, a gloriously dubby ode to Allah and iconic maalems including the late Mahmoud Guinea. “There’s a very strong rhythmic element within the band but because of our different perspectives but the melodic components are really unique as well,” says Henry. That feeling of being outside of yourself but totally within yourself at the same time… That’s what all of us, collectively, are striving for.”
Rebellious, charged spiritual jazz that holds a mirror up to Berlin, reflecting the city's unreasonable treatment of Black people. Cathartic, uplifting and simmering with rage.
In November 2019, Angel Bat Dawid and her band Tha Brothahood traveled from Chicago to Berlin for JazzFest. Tragically, vocalist and instrumentalist Viktor Le Givens had passed out on the street and been robbed, ending up in hospital. When Angel reached Berlin with the rest of the band, she was passed the message that unless they could find a replacement, their fee would be reduced. This set the tone for the rest of the trip, where the group of Black musicians were greeted with constant stares, repeated microaggressions and suspicion from the German city's majority white inhabitants.
But they persevered, and the band's performance was considered by Angel to be among their best ever, charged with attitude and struck through with rage-in-process. This recording documents the entire thing, opening with a racist incident at Berlin's Duke Ellington Hotel (seriously) before tracking through a lifted selection of spiritual jazz experimentation from a troupe of Chicago's finest players. Human and electric, the set reflects the power of Angel's composition and conducting and stands as a crucial document of a historic moment for the band.
Leading Australian contemporary music composer A. Pateras yields a stunning, phantasmic spectralist work for tape and live players, recorded in 2019 at the 17th Sacrum Profanum Festival in Krakow, Poland
‘Pseudacusis’ is the follow-up to Pateras’ work on Sunn 0)))’s ‘Life Metal’ and Judith Hamann’s ‘Music For Cello and Humming’, and features the latter artist among his Tape Septet recordings, which provide the bed for its live performance iteration, here recorded in Krakow’s impressive new arts space, Małopolska Garden of Arts for the festival closely associated with estimable Polish label, Bocian Records.
Reliably helmed by Pateras at his trusted piano, the live septet (Lucio Capece: bass clarinet / soprano saxophone; Krzysztof Guńka: saxophones; Riccardo La Foresta: percussion; Mike Majkowski: double bass; Anthony Pateras: piano; Deborah Walker: cello; Lizzy Welsh: violin) render his strikingly dynamic composition with vigour and precision, found here edited into seven movements.
The results are surreal, febrile, and compelling, sweeping over it’s 50 minute course from frightful string tintinnabulation down concrète wormholes to tracts of glacial stasis and belly-churning dread, with outstanding parts of technically challenging, sustained dissonance and massed, keening orchestration that introduces fractious percussive themes and outlandish electronics. We’ve no doubt it will light up the harder to reach pleasure centres of fans of everyone from Iancu Dumitrescu to Xenakis.
Gilles Peterson has partnered with Jean-Paul “Bluey” Maunick to reinvigorate the loose, protean energy of the early-80s Brit-funk scene. STR4TA sees them mine new musical possibilities outof that shared formative era.
"On “Aspects”, they revisit that important period and the spirit that guided it: self-taught, DIY vitality, and a raucous energy built on live performance. Bringing a fresh slant to a sound first developed by groups like Atmosfear, Hi-Tension, Light of the World and Freeez – with Maunick, it should be noted, also a member of the latter two bands – it’s the first material that Maunick and Peterson have released together in over a decade.
It’s an idea that had been in the works for a while, but which was encouraged by a surprising catalyst: the award acceptance speech by Tyler, the Creator at the 2020 Brit Awards, where he shouted out the influence of “British funk from the 80s”. It was an acknowledgement of the particular sound that Maunick and his peers had honed, where their US influences were reoriented through their own circumstances. “Like everybody else who plays music, we tried to emulate our heroes,” Maunick says. “But we didn’t have the tools, we hadn’t studied music: were all playing by ear, and we were coming off bits and pieces that we liked off certain records.” This record is guided by the same ethos. An array of musical touchpoints have fed into the album’s direct, no-frills entries: each track’s parts are cut back to the bare bone. In writing and recording the album, the pair of them would work together to strike upon the point of departure – more naive, less considered – that had produced that killer Brit-funk sound. Peterson would dig out records that showed particular flashes or moods as jumping off points, and Maunick would then work with collaborators to build new directions out of those prompts or suggestions.
It’s the latest chapter in a story that started with Peterson interviewing Maunick in his parents’ garden shed, the first interview that the former had ever conducted. Later, they would reconnect to put out a string of celebrated Incognito albums on Peterson’s pioneering, now-defunct Talkin’ Loud imprint. Now, linking up once more, they unpick an under-appreciated flashpoint in a vital musical lineage, one which each of them has been instrumental in shaping."
The first full-length work released by the Montreal-based outfit in over a decade.
"House Music unfolds as one long piece, a recorded-then-sculpted improvisation that vastly expands their work, coalescing classical and electronic instrumentation in the creation of genre-defying musical worlds. After having shared the short film “IX: Nature That’s It That’s All.” — which layered archival visuals of blissed-out crowds at a carnival over one of the later, dreamier sections of House Music — Bell Orchestre presents a video for the one-track album’s most anthemic and explosive segment, “V: Movement”, directed by band member Kaveh Nabatian.
In the album’s liner notes, the group recalls countless moments when, in kinetic moments of improvisation, “a nuanced piece of music would emerge organically, completely formed, without any plan or discussion or rational thought” — and then be lost because it wasn’t recorded. In conceiving a new album, they decided to celebrate the spontaneous and accidental, to centrally situate the act of collaborative, democratic creation in their finished work. With the legacies of improvisation-exploring greats like Talk Talk, The Orb, Bitches Brew-era Miles Davis and the late Ennio Morricone in mind, on House Music, Bell Orchestre captures the impulsive, connective, mysterious poetics of musical invention happening in real-time.
With help from engineer Hans Bernhard, the band wired every corner of Sarah Neufeld’s (Violin, vocals) multi-story rural Vermont house. She and the mini orchestra’s other five members — Pietro Amato: French horn, keyboards, electronics; Michael Feuerstack: Pedal steel guitar, keyboards, vocals; Kaveh Nabatian: Trumpet, gongoma, keyboards, vocals; Richard Reed Parry: Bass, vocals; and Stefan Schneider: Drums — assigned themselves to different rooms. They spent two weeks together in camaraderie, creation, and focused isolation to record their improvised sessions every day, but ultimately structured a 45-minute album out of a one hour-and-a-half long improvisation."
Paul Woolford’s Special Request takes the reins of DJ-Kicks’ latest for a cosmic soulboy trip harmonising myriad stripes of astral jazz, disco, deep house, electro and classic ‘90s jungle
Over the course of 25 tracks in 75 minutes, Woolford illustrates the influences and styles of his Special Request project at its most widescreen and emotive, encompassing the far out coordinates of Sun Ra, the classic AI of Speedy J, and the ravishing jungle of Steve Gurley’s Four Horsemen, alongside a ruck of secret names such as LS1 Housing Project and Intergalactic Quartet that a quid’s bet would stake to Woolford himself.
It’s as much a showcase for SR’s influences as Woolford’s DJ tekkers, coolly scaling from unquantised jazz to grid-twysting breakbeat hardcore with an immaculate, harmonious flow taking in his aforementioned turns as Intergalactic Quartet alongside deep-end digs by Morgan Geist and Virgo Four, thru to his sparkling house nuggets as LS1 Housing Project and compatibles from AceMo and µ-Ziq, to a killer run of new/old jungle spanning Sonar’s Ghost aka Domu’s aggy take on ‘Drowning in Her’, a lush Tim reaper remix of SR’s ‘Pull Up’, and a scalp-tingling beatless collaboration with prodigal loiner 96 Back, named ’Petrichor.’
The music on Cycles comprises thirteen organ pieces by Nico Muhly. Performing the pieces in addition to McVinnie are Nadia Sirota, Chris Thompson and Simon Wall.
"What makes McVinnie such an ideal interpreter of Muhly’s music is that he and Muhly share not just an understanding of the capabilities of the pipe organ as a musical instrument, but also an equally deep understanding of, and even affection for, its limitations. McVinnie speaks eloquently on behalf of his instrument's potential. "The organ is like a grand symphony orchestra controlled by oneperson manning a series of keyboards and pedals, stops and buttons. On the one hand, an organ can imitate orchestral instruments—the ardent string section of an orchestra, a lyrical clarinet, a French horn, timpani—and on the other, it has its own indigenous magisterial voice. Organs are built to speak into specific acoustic spaces.
When you play, it’s as if you’re playing the whole building you’re in, which often can be electrifying. And the organ as an instrument is tied to centuries of liturgical practice, capable of supporting or imitating a church choir with a solemnity few others could hope to summon. McVinnie is quick to point out, however, that the organ is also "the ultimate and original synthesizer"—and it is nothing if not a mechanical, wind-powered synthesizer, with all of the uncanny falseness that that word implies. The symphonic, the acoustic, the sacred, the synthetic: there's a little of each in every one of the pieces on Cycles, and sometimes more than a little."
De-formation: Piano Variations, a work for solo piano. Composed and performed by Gal·s in September 2019, the 21:19 minute piece is based on the expressionist poem Das Fieberspital (The Fever Hospital).
"Written by German poet Georg Heym in 1912, Das Fieberspital's depiction of warehoused patients of yellow fever presaged the treatment and hiding of infected and damaged soldiers later in WWI. De-formation depicts a march and delivery of maimed and infected soldiers to hospitals and industrial warehouses throughout Germany during and after the First World War. In the hospitals the maimed would receive experimental operations and the infected would be confined to protect the mental vitality, enthusiasm, and health of citizens of the State. The Piano Variations were inspired by Gal·s' work on the score for Das Fieberspital. In organizing the work, she realized that the piano skeleton had become its own work, and she decided to record that in advance of the vocal work."
Avant garde sound poet AGF works with eleven Greek residents to investigate “women’s struggle for language” in the context of Greek myth and “patriarchal social relations” with remarkably complex and thought provoking results - we're still gettin our heads round it.
“In her famous quote from Three Guineas (1938), ‘As a woman I have no country. As a woman I want no country. As a woman, my country is the whole world’, Virginia Woolf captured the spirit of alienation that women have felt, or indeed should feel, vis-à-vis the request of belonging. Such alienation could morph into refusal, but this, as feminist historians of culture know, has happened in very few cases. For the most part, women have buried their alienation, forced by multiple mechanisms of persuasion and induced consent, to succumb to belonging. But is this the whole story? Or has the territory of language been a central battleground for women? And how is a contemporary female musician and sound artist invested in feminist politics to approach this unstable condition of the gendered experience of language? This is the case of AGF, or Antye Greie, whose creative endeavour is overall an audacious synthesis of electronic compositions, voice, field recordings, as well as of political explorations and re-enunciations of women-centred aurality.
In this new work, Arachnesound, AGF, together with her collaborators (composers, singers, poets), sought to work with an enduring language, Greek, and treat it as a tentative record of women’s speech but also silence. Effectively, AGF relied on the ambiguity of non-belonging to stitch together a counter-archive of words written, spoken, or - when she herself makes them up - associated with women’s struggle for language. Greek has been a language steeped in patriarchal social relations, nation-building, and wildly generalised, civilisational ‘origins’. The task that AGF set for herself was to compose a music narrative that takes women’s efforts to speak beyond the canonical myths surrounding Greek language as a record. It was a difficult task, requiring much research, much listening, much translation, much acoustic imagining. The outcome, however, is movingly rewarding - and it is so as an encounter of myth and history with the contemporary feminist avant-garde in electronic-music experimentation.”
First ever international reissue of one of the most sought-after albums from the Black Fire catalogue, Lon Moshe & Southern Freedom Arkestra’s life-affirming ‘Love Is Where The Spirit Lies’ from 1977.
“Lon was creating his own path in his music life at this time,” remembers Black Fire’s Plunky Branch. “We had met in San Francisco and he had become an original member of JuJu during the early ‘70s. He then wanted to pursue his own music, primarily in jazz; he was an avant-gardist and loved Tribe, Strata-East and Sun Ra.” For his Love Is Where The Spirit Lies album, Moshe drew from musicians within the Black Fire stable. Oneness Of Juju’s Jackie Eka-Ete sang and helped to write songs and members of Southern Energy Ensemble contributed, including their bandleader Marvin Daniels. “The band name, Southern Freedom Arkestra, was a proud declaration that this music was from the U.S. South,” continues Branch.
“The civil rights movement had been led from there and the most serious racial animosities resided there. Lon had grown up in Southern Illinois, South of Chicago, and said that the racial oppression was as bad there as in the South. He wanted to fight back through his music and through his own actions. He found a way to bring energy and aggressive to the sweet sound of the vibes. He played with a lot of dynamism and speed. The most celebrated piece on this album, ‘Doin’ The Carvin For Thabo’, is a tribute to his mentor, the drummer Michael Carvin (also known by same as ‘Thabo’) who had played for Motown, with Freddie Hubbard and many more.
This first international reissue of the album features new sleeve notes including interviews and commentary by Lon Moshe, Plunky Branch and band members with original illustrated artwork by Mary E. Greer. Audio was remastered from original tapes by The Carvery.”
New Age Steppers were a loose studio collective centred around the musical partnership of Adrian Sherwood and Ari Up from The Slits, operating on and off from 1980 to 2012. This is a 5CD + 32 page book boxset anthology of all their work for the On-U Sound label, compiled for the first time.
"Notable for bringing together musicians from the post-punk and reggae scenes together, their records feature contributions from members of The Pop Group, The Raincoats, Flying Lizards, Roots Radics, Aswad and Creation Rebel.
The set also includes a new LP of outtakes and rarities, Avant Gardening (in the On-U tradition of albums such as Return Of The Crocodile, Displaced Masters and Churchical Chant Of The Iyabinghi).
New Age Steppers launched the On-U label as the first artist to release both a single and album on the label, and it's fitting to have these brilliant records back out in the world as the label celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2021."
‘Rocksteady Got Soul’ is a collection of uplifting rocksteady and soulful reggae from the late 1960s and early 1970s.
"Studio One is the number one label in the history of reggae and the album features - as ever with Studio One - an impeccable and unbeatable line-up of reggae superstars, all soaring at the height of their creative powers. Alton Ellis, John Holt, The Heptones, Jackie Mittoo, The Ethiopians, Lee Perry and more. The album is a mix of classic tunes and rhythms alongside rarities that were released in a dazzlingly complex web of Studio One labels and issues, deftly navigated with new sleeve notes from author and Studio One authority Rob Chapman, plus exclusive photography."
RIYL: Alvvays, School of Seven Bells, Tamaryn, Chairlift, Cocteau Twins.
"Keith Kenniff’s solo projects Goldmund and Helios have solid fanbases, and strong support from DSPs including over a million monthly listeners on Spotify. Created slowly over a years-long span that encompassed the recording of 2019’s Stray Fantasies, wife and husband duo Hollie and Keith Kenniff deliver In a Deep and Dreamless Sleep, a distinctly hazier chapter of their technicolor pop venture Mint Julep.
Where the former album bore a crystalline latticework of defined pop structure, the latter blunts the sharpness and softens the glare, striking a balance between songcraft, and Hollie’s solo material, as well as Keith’s output as Goldmund. In a Deep and Dreamless Sleep assumes a more aerated form, exuding a heavy fog of shoegaze sensibility, though the infectious pop know-how of its precursor remains firmly intact. “Our previous material tended to be structured largely in a verse/chorus setting,” Keith explains, “but these songs are more free flowing and through-composed with a focus on mood and texture. He continues “A lot of the songs are more stream-of-consciousness than premeditated; we went with first ideas and let them guide the composition rather than planning a definitive road map-- which hopefully lends itself to creating a specific and unique emotional connection.”
Somewhat counter to its title, In a Deep and Dreamless Sleep is rife with dreamworld inclinations in which waking and sleeping, loving and leaving, living and dying, are all interchangeable. The album is imbued with the soft opiation of oncoming love-- or perhaps that’s the mournfulness of a love in its twilight. Or, further still, that feeling is the spousal duo nurturing their love against the backdrop of their busy lives. “Time is a valued commodity, but we make it a point to do this together.” Says Keith. “Mint Julep is a good bonding experience, it's akin to a date night. Our routine is not structured, but we chip away at it, sometimes in long bursts, sometimes in short windows of opportunity.” In a Deep and Dreamless Sleep is a window into an intoxicatingly romantic parallel world the Kenniffs have constructed out of analog synths, masterful sound design, nectar-drenched hooks, and airy vocals that wade way out into a sea of texture. They have managed to hone years worth of date-nights into a 46 minute collection of phosphoric ambient pop which bears a sense of skillful consistency that belies the album’s casual creation."
Though it's hard to pick a winner among the estimable Black Jazz catalog, this 1972 release from bassist Henry "The Skipper" Franklin would have to be near the top of the list.
"Franklin got his start woodshedding with Latin maverick Willie Bobo in the mid-'60s and went on to play with The Three Sounds, but probably his most notable gig prior to this debut album was his stint in Hugh Masekela's band (that's Franklin playing bass with Masekela at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival). For The Skipper, Franklin assembled a crack outfit that included a horn section of trumpeter/flugelhornist Oscar Brashear (Bobby Hutcherson, Ry Cooder, Donny Hathaway) and tenor & soprano sax man Charles Owens (Buddy Rich, Horace Tapscott, John Mayall) along with a Masekela bandmate in electric pianist Bill Henderson and ace drummer Michael Carvin (Pharoah Sanders, Lonnie Liston Smith, Freddie Hubbard).
This is such a unique, organic recording that it's hard to make comparisons; definitely a little fusion, a little '60s Blue Note feel, and the usual Black Jazz journey to the more lyrical, pop-inspired ("Little Miss Laurie") and funk-infused ("Plastic Creek Stomp") sides of jazz, but perhaps the best comparison is late-'60s Miles before he went electric. In any case, The Skipper is just a joy to listen to from start to finish, beautifully recorded by Black Jazz producer Gene Russell and blessed with some really fine writing, most of it by Franklin himself. First-time LP reissue and a must-have!"
Virtuoso, smoky jazz from young Norwegian firebrand Kjetil Mulelid. We know you're probably bored with solo piano albums at this point, but this is a cut above: more Keith Jarrett than you know who.
Rune Grammofon has been begging Mulelid to record a solo piano album for years now. He was hesitant at first, not just because there's a glut of mediocre to terrible piano records clogging digital dustbins everywhere, but because in jazz, the solo piano record has a lot of competition. It's notoriously challenging, but last year in lockdown, Mulelid found himself with time on his hands and isolation to maintain. In many ways, masterminding a truly next-level solo piano record is the perfect COVID pastime.
'Piano' is deceptively simple in its presentation, but even a cursory listen will reveal a startling talent. Mulelid performed the album at Athletic Sound studio on their unique 1919 Bösendorfer grand, and this lends the album a haunting texture. In Mulelid's hands, it sings with sadness, joy and cultural resonance, not speaking directly to our period of isolation and collapse, but speaking around it. Fans of Gonzalez's enduring classic "Solo Piano" will no doubt get a kick out of these sultry, swinging selections.
Jimmy Tamborello returns with the first of two albums this year, a dusty suite of sketches inspired by library music, early electronics and discarded acid folk.
Shaping electronic music for two decades, Tamborello has exerted an outsized influence on both pop and the landscape beyond. "The Seas Tree Sees" follows his recent run of more experimental excursions on Leaving Records, whispering from the shadows instead of shouting from the rafters. A humble, pleasingly low-key set of productions, it's intended to sit in contrast to Tamborello's more pop-poised work (like The Postal Service's 2003 smash "Give Up"), phasing through foggy moods and atmospheres rather than bright, bubbly riffs and hooks.
It almost reminds us of early To Rococo Rot, assembled from gently-coaxed samples of Rhodes piano, xylophone, vocoder and synth, and spiced with subtle field recordings and sympathetic static. Tamborello notes that he wanted the album to sound like something you'd find in a thrift store, so when a vocoder-heavy cover version of Kate Wolf's '70s folk song 'The Lilac and the Apple' appears, everything falls into place. A musical comfort blanket.
Unmissable stuff here, collecting Japanese avant pop and ferric beats from the scene's darkest, most thrilling corners.
Compiled by Yosuke Kitazawa and Dublab's Mark “Frosty” McNeill, this latest collection of Japanese obscurities from Light in the Attic sweeps up bizarre loose threads that fall through the cracks between the label's already released collections of city pop and ambient and new age music. Those two compilations spoke to the YouTube-driven resurgence of interest in albums like Hiroshi Yoshimura's "Green" and artists like Happy End's Haruomi Hosono and Shigeru Suzuki, and "Somewhere Between" investigates the fringes, dark crevices and unpicked crates.
Here, the sounds are exceptionally varied, falling from Mammy's twinkling odd-world electronix on 'Mizu No Naka No Himitsu' and D-Day's shimmering, dry ice-laced 'Sweet Sultan', to the gloomy avant synth pop of Neo Museum's unforgettable 'Area' and R.N.A-ORGANISM's gurgling, hiss-soaked 'WEIMAR 22'. The theme that unifies all of the selections is an unshakable sense of exploration and joy from the artists. The era's optimism is palpable, and it's a rare pleasure to hear musicians driven so wholeheartedly by exploration, experimentation, innovative song forms and bold artistic strokes.
Diggers will clearly get a kick from these rarities, but Kitazawa and McNeill have done such a great job with the selection that it's far more than just a curiosity. "Somewhere Between" is an invigorating listen, like a particularly wild and wonderful mixtape handed over by a trusted friend. It's a musical time capsule to get lost in.
Strut continue their in-depth archive reissues from the Black Fire label with a definitive edition of JuJu’s ‘Live At 131 Prince Street’, recorded in 1973 at Ornette Coleman’s gallery in New York and featuring a previously unheard recording of the Pharoah Sanders composition "Thembi".
"After forming in San Francisco while working on the Marvin X theatre piece ‘The Resurrection of the Dead’, JuJu began to hone their uncompromising fusion of Afro-Latin rhythms with free and spiritual jazz before signing to Strata-East for the ‘A Message From Mozambique’ album in 1972. “We moved to New York and became part of the avant-garde community on the Lower East Side and Greenwich Village,” remembers bandleader Plunky Branch. Following a high profile live show at the Lincoln Center, Ornette Coleman invited JuJu to his gallery and loft at 131 Prince Street to perform there and to stay on while he left on tour. “That was life-changing for us,” continues Plunky.“It was fabulous.
The recordings you hear on this album are in close proximity to each other, maybe across one day or a weekend at the gallery. “Alongside tracks written by the JuJu band members, like the 5/4 tempo ‘At Least We Have A Horizon Now’, they play choice covers from their peers. Plunky explains, “‘Thembi’ is a Pharoah Sanders piece which he wrote for his wife in 1971 and it’s one of my favourite pieces by him. ‘Azucar Pa Ti’ was written by Eddie Palmieri; we loved him too and enjoyed Latin music in general. Here we play ‘Mozambique’, based on an Afro-Cuban rhythm and we regularly played that for 10 minutes before morphing into ‘Azucar’. ‘Out Of This World’, written by Johnny Mercer and Harold Arlen, was inspired by John Coltrane who recorded a version of it on his ‘Coltrane’ album in ’62.”
Field recordings, delicate drones, noise and sublime ambience for fans of vintage Brian Eno, K. Leimer or Loscil.
Interest in US ambient pioneer Marc Barreca's productions spiked again a few years ago when the Freedom To Spend imprint reissued his loopy and playful 1983 epic "Music Works For Industry". But Barreca isn't just an ambient fetishists dream, he's still releasing new music and "The Empty Bridge" proves he's still exploring haunted, atmospheric soundscapes with just as much vigor as he ever was.
Assembled during lockdown in a remote mountain cottage, the album vaporizes subtle field recordings into languid pools of synth, spine-chilling drones and sampled instrumentation. Sometimes it sounds almost orchestral, reminiscent of Steve Reich or Terry Riley, and sometimes is more in line with the subterranean gems that pock Erik Skodvin's Miasmah label or Manchester's sferic imprint. These ambient-industrial landscapes are a fine reflection of a new isolated reality, and act as a tight commentary on ambient music's four decades of evolution.
"From A Love Supreme to The Sex Machine!" The personal musical mantra of the late Philadelphia reedman Byard Lancaster informed an open-minded and varied lifetime in jazz.
"Strut issue one of Lancaster’s lesser known classics, ‘My Pure Joy’, recorded in 1992 for Black Fire. Lancaster had initially cut his musical teeth with the avant-garde on New York’s Lower East Side in the 1960s (famously on sessions with pianist Dave Burrell and drummer Sunny Murray) and in Paris during the ‘70s after an appearance at the Actuel festival but, throughout his career, his path was built around community engagement, positivity and “the Philly jazz sound, Germantown style.” He became an ambassador for the music of the City Of Brotherly Love, starting his own Dogtown label, helping launch the Philly Jazz imprint and campaigning tirelessly to improve the circumstances of the city’s street musicians.
Lancaster’s sessions for Black Fire were planned following a gig at Caverns Jazz Club in Washington DC. “Jimmy Gray of Black Fire and I originally met during the ‘riotous blisters’ of the late Sixties there,” explained Lancaster. “We became the best of friends.” Backed by a band of Philly musicians including percussionist Keno Speller and Baba Robert Crowder (drummer for Olatunji and Art Blakey), the album also featured the Drummers From Ibadan led by Tunde Kuboye, another influential figure dedicated to community jazz with whom Lancaster had bonded while teaching in Lagos. The result was a free-flowing set of spirituality and positivity, built around full band groove workouts, solo pieces and heavy African roots. “We had big fun documenting this music,” remembered Lancaster. The message of the album remains as relevant today as ever, “I dedicate this album to all African Americans in the USA. To the youth, I ask ‘What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?’” Originally delayed by three years because of cashflow issues within Black Fire, ‘My Pure Joy’ eventually surfaced as one of the label’s final CD releases in 1995."
Okay! Grotty sleaze-dub, cavernous post punk, wyrdo industrial ambient and anxious keta-tekno on this gem of a soundtrack from 2001's underground porn classic "Bonking Berlin Bastards".
This is an absolute find, a scruffy collection of DIY electronix that soundtracked Ebo Hill's "Bonking Berlin Bastards", the hypersexual Berlin porn classic that captured the city's hedonistic, queer turn of the Millennium atmosphere. The music comes from improv techno three-piece AeoX and noise/industrial producer Rouage, who also shows up as CNM, and skates through the back rooms, free parties and squats of Berlin with a vivid cut-n-paste post punk aesthetic.
It's fantastically innovative music that captures the sound of Berghain's forerunner OstGut, that was apparently a primary meeting point for the movie's crew, so it makes perfect sense that Ostgut Ton is the label handling the release. It's hard to accurately describe the music except to say that it's somewhere between Vinyl On Demand's collections of scruffy proto-techno and industrial experimentation and the tape-scuffed noizz of Hospital Productions or Wolf Eyes' American Tapes imprint.
There's a raw, queer sexuality here that's missing from so much angry noise music; it's less angry boys than horny, disaffected ones. It feels celebratory somehow, with each squeal, thumping kick or harsh sheet of fuzz expressing the joy of public sex and messy chemical nights long before the tech companies and Australian coffee shops had moved into Kreuzberg. "Bonking Berlin Bastards" is a historical document of an influential era that's unlikely to be repeated, but stands as the backbone of contemporary Berlin's most endearing facets.
Yes, Sports fans; YOUTH rally the troops for a sprawling 2nd compilation of roving downbeat styles, featuring Peder Mannerfelt, Iueke, and RVDS, alongside label fam like FUMU, Herron and Sockethead, plus enigmatic new names inc. Warlock, Jessicunt, Joe Cotch and many more.
In the three years since the first Youth compilation, Andrew Lyster’s label has grown in stature and scale to encompass myriad integers between the club, the bedroom, and headphones. Their releases from Sockethead, Dijit, Seltene Erden, Blazer Soundsystem, and the mysterious Remer Cier, among others - many of whom appear here - have set the label’s coordinates in bold, new terrain which they explore further with this sterling sophomore suite illuminating shared, rhizomic links that span continents, styles, and intentions.
The vibe is modulated between the artists’ respective flavours, and with 20 tracks the label’s curatorial skills come into play, ably demonstrating a discerning flow between their poles and shadows that surpass the sum of the compilation's parts. Between the threshold of Lluke's hyperprism and the noise slurry of 1012’s closer, ‘Reprise’ the artists practically terraform a mutant microcosm unto itself, offering enchanted and murky slants on dembow modernism, ambient zeitgeists, and bedroom-bound songwriting in the age of Covid.
FUMU provides highlights thru heady location recordings on ‘Aphex Hall’ and what sounds like mechanically performed water drumming in ‘Loco Motive’, while his Return To Zero crewmate Sockethead serves likeminded ambient blatz and the crooked soul of ‘I’m Here’, with Herron teasing out the music box malady of ‘Pearl’, and RVDS duets with David Attenborough and a Lyre bird. However, for new kicks, check for Joe Cotch’s killer dembow cyberpunk mission, and a murky proto-grime ace by Warlock (not that one!), the paranoid thoughts of Jessicunt, and a class cut of Farsi drill by Leo & Tardast.
‘Flock’ is the record that Jane Weaver always wanted to make, the most genuine version of herself, complete with unpretentious Day-Glo pop sensibilities, wit, kindness, humour and glamour. RIYL: Bradcast
"A consciously positive vision for negative times, a brooding and ethereal creation. The album features an untested new fusion of seemingly unrelated compounds fused into an eco-friendly hum; pop music for post-new-normal times. Created from elements that should never date, its pop music reinvented. Still prevalent are the cosmic sounds, but ‘Flock’ is a natural rebellion to the recent releases which sees her decidedly move away from conceptual roots in favour of writing pop music. Produced on a complicated diet of bygone Lebanese torch songs, 1980's Russian Aerobics records and Australian Punk. Amongst this broadcast of glistening sounds is ‘The Revolution Of Super Visions’, an untelevised Mothership connection, with Prince floating by as he plays scratchy guitar; it also features a funky whack-a-mole bass line and synth worms.
It underlines the discordant pop vibe that permeates ‘Flock’ and concludes on ‘Solarised’, a super-catchy, totally infectious apocalypse, a radio-friendly groove for last dance lovers clinging together in an effort to save themselves before the end of the night. The musician’s exposure to an abundance of lost records served as a reminder that you still feel like an outsider in this world and that by overcoming fears you can achieve artistic freedom. Jane Weaver continues to metamorphise… “A mind-expanding delight, devoid of retro posturing.”