Benjamin John Power meets environmental terrorist the Unabomber on his moody synth-led soundtrack to Tony Stone's "Ted K".
Power was inspired by the usual suspects on his latest soundtrack, citing Ennio Morricone's Sergio Leone scores as the inspiration for the "good vs. evil" battle raging in Ted Kaczynski's mind. He definitely evokes the 1970s with the searing analog synth basses and clipped percussion on 'Montana', the movie's main theme, but prob echoes Carpenter more than Morricone.
Elsewhere, things get more complicated: on 'Pesticides', Power's plasticky synth sounds more in line with Michael Mann's canon, while 'Revenge' isn't a million miles from Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross's work with David Fincher. It's convincing material, that manages to retain Power's electronic outlook while still sounding fully Hollywood-ready.
Livity Sound mark a decade of skin in the game with a comp pulling focus on their roster of rhythmic misfits in 2021.
Originally founded as an outlet for Pev, Kowton, and Asusu’s like-minded soundsystem techno oddities in 2011, the label’s scope has gradually expanded over the intervening decade to embrace an emerging movement of non-standard bassbin operators such as Batu, Hodge, Bruce and Simo Cell via the Reverse label (Dnuos Ytivil), and nowadays stands at a busy intersection of globally related styles loosely termed hard drum, or bass music.
'Gliding & Hiding' brings together Malka Spigel's 2014 ‘Gliding’ EP, with reworked tracks from the 1994 mini-album ‘Hide’.
"Gliding & Hiding’ presents one of post-punk’s maverick spirits at her finest: Malka Spigel sprang to prominence as bassist and vocalist with the legendary Minimal Compact. She’s also an internationally acclaimed photographer and video artist. Alongside her partner and long term collaborator Colin Newman, she’s also one half of the electro-kosmiche duo Immersion.
The pair are also members of the unique art-pop quartet Githead. Yet often, Spigel’s most personal work is to be found on her solo albums.1993 debut ’Rosh Balata’ is a contemporary rock album sung in Hebrew, with 1998’s ‘My Pet Fish’ showcasing an idiosyncratic amalgam of rock and electronics, whilst 2012’s ’Every Day Is Like The First Day’ is a full blown psychedelic pop record, with guests including Johnny Marr, Alexander Balanescu and Julie Campbell (aka Lonelady).Now, ’Gliding & Hiding’ gathers together Spigel’s gorgeous 2014 ‘Gliding’ EP, with reworked tracks from the 1994 mini-album ‘Hide’.
The result is a collection that ranges from sunshine pop, to minimal breakbeat techno, all the way to blissed out rock.For the ‘Gliding’ material, Spigel is joined by Newman, on guitar and keyboards, Ronald Lippok of Tarwater/To Rococo Rot on drums, and Gil Luz and Uri Frost of Mambas, on keyboards and guitar respectively, with additional guitars from Julie Campbell, and Matthew Simms of Wire. These songs began life as live recordings from a gig at London’s Lexington, but were then refined in the studio. Yet they retain the sound of a real band, bouncing off each other’s considerable talents‘Gliding & Hiding’ serves as a career overview, whilst the reworked compositions prove how utterly contemporary her sound is. If you are new to the delights of Malka Spigel, this is the perfect place to dive in."
Destroyer's thirteenth album is what Dan Bejar calls a "high-energy Cher record". It's certainly the most cheerful - and most electronic - we've heard from him, echoing New Order, Junior Boys and the Dirty Projectors.
Canadian indie vet Bejar has been making music for what seems like forever, and while many singer-songwriters are content with functionally rewriting the same album over and over, Bejar is too ambitious to rest on his laurels. 'Labyrinthitis' was written in 2020 and inspired by Bejar's love of New Order, classic disco, techno and contemporary rap. It's an album that rarely stays in the same place for more than a few moments: 'It's in Your Heart Now' finds him crooning over Peter Hook bass before the track slips into dreamy instrumental prog excess; 'Suffer' is indie pop with an arpeggiated trance energy; 'June' is shimmering minimal punk-funk; and lead single 'Tintoretto, It's For You' centers a long rap-style performance from Bejar set against wiry synths and angular drums.
On the title track Bejar dials back the bubbly froth of the album's pop standouts and instead leads through sunset ambient, a timely interlude before the disco-inspired 'Eat the Wine, Drink the Bread' sounds barbed enough to have slipped out of the "Technique" recording sessions.
Jonny Greenwood contributes an evocative soundtrack to Jane Campion's hotly-tipped dramatic Western "The Power of the Dog". It's smart music, that wrings out complex emotions from our connections to American primitive ideas.
'The Power of the Dog' is a heavy story that balances relatively recent history against more contemporary ideas of sexuality and gender. Greenwood has visited the old West before in his stark, powerful score for Paul Thomas Anderson's 2007 modern classic "There Will Be Blood". Here, he works with a much more subdued subject matter, but one that's no less emotionally affecting. He smartly opts to harness our own preconceptions of American folk music, utilising familiar instrumentation in more contemporary contexts, with scraping detuned fiddle on 'So Soft', hinting at the characters' dissonant personalities, and the odd jangle of a player piano on 'Detuned Mechanical Piano' foreshadowing Kirsten Dunst's character Rose - a piano player herself - unraveling mentally.
The piano - which Greenwood controlled using Max/MSP - gets more and more nightmarish, hitting a terrifying peak on 'Paper Flowers' - each sound is struck through with a deep sadness that reflects writer Thomas Savage's depressing portrait of an America that represses its urges.
Arboreal IDM frolics from Berlin/Montreal’s T. Gowdy, returning to Constellation with a batch of woodcut post-techno percussion and forest bathed ambient noise - imagine James Hodlen and Barker hugging a tree.
“Gowdy now returns with Miracles, his second full-length for Constellation, which draws on source materials originally performed in 2018 for an unreleased audio/visual project based around surveillance footage—a precursor to video-capped, monitor-based horizons that soon took on new meanings. Re-immersing himself in those recordings, Gowdy disassembles and deploys them as raw source material for new experiments with vactrols, noise gates and analog-to-digital triggering and aliasing, the original recordings juxtaposed anew amidst their successive textural and rhythmic treatments. Gowdy keeps this re-composition process stripped down, elemental and purposive, guided by an ascetic Aufhebung: synthesis as sublation—subjecting a temporal material/theme to analysis and transformation, reintegrating to form a whole that overcomes what it preserves without erasure, reshaping and intrinsically carrying its origins forward.
Where Therapy With Colour was strictly and rigorously a set of stereo liveperformances, Miracles fuses iterative—though still spartan—layers of performance. “Therapy With Colour was about healing through self-hypnosis; Miracles is about forging a future with memory through subjection to trigger mechanisms” notes Gowdy. The result is a captivating collection of minimal IDM and oscillated electronics from the Montréal/Berlin producer, working primarily in a 120-140 BPM zone of tonal percussion and corrugated pulse. Gowdy’s sensibility and sound palette gets deeper and dirtier, summoning new pathways of alluvial flicker and abraded euphoria. As the album progresses, low-pass gate vactrols coalesce into a clear and vital theme, conveying immanence through woody timbres at times reminiscent of the Shinrin-yoku aesthetic (Japanese ‘forest bathing’), though always with a grainy transcendence rather than invoking any clean pure sheen. Gowdy consistently heats and heightens the presence of each component in the mix, balancing different elements in democratic compression/distortion, attaining an unornamental and earnest form of mantric-industrial majesty. Miracles is live, corporeal, activated electronic music of the highest caliber, deployed with monastic and meditative focus. Thanks for listening.”
Latest from Norwegian Jazz ensemble, I Like To Sleep.
"In 2021, the international contemporary music festival Only Connect commissioned an interpretation from I LIKE TO SLEEP of the first movement of Olivier Messiaen’s Turangalila symphony. A project which initially led to a 15-minute piece performed at the festival, with the trio re-writing the music of Messiaen, but also rewriting the music of their own. Messiaen as a reference and compositional tool may be heard in the album for those really listening for references. With “Sleeping Beauty” the trio also explore even heavier riffs than before, seasick grooves and tempi, and deeper ambient soundscapes. Through extensive improvisation, the effects and processing of the sounds are way more extreme than before, almost awakening the sleeping beauty. During the pandemic, the band also had to find new ways to write music without the presence of every member, introducing the vibe-samples from the old Mellotron sound gallery to the band."
Justin K. Broadrick revisits his legendary FINAL project for a new album on ALTER swerving the isolationist ambient and power electronics of previous records to absorb sampled pop hooks in an attempt to reach some kind of blissed state. Basinski, Philip Jeck, MBV, Fennesz and Thomas Köner iheads should dive right in.
Billed as "an exploration of the decay of all living things," Broadrick's latest FINAL album - his first since 2015's Downwards-released "Black Dollars", is surprisingly upbeat given its theoretically funereal theme. The industrial metal pioneer's starting point here is a set of pop music melodies, which he decays artificially, removing their form and reducing them to hums and hoarse coughs of analog dirt and grit. To be honest, we wouldn't have known unless we'd been told - the sounds here may as well be self generated, but it's charming to know where they're from all the same. On some tracks the source material is barely audible at all, like gaseous opener 'Untitled 1', where slowly-shifting noise is bent and fluttered with the thumb-on-tape whole-channel grace of Kevin Shields on the 'Loveless' sessions.
Elsewhere, riffs poke out through the marshy overdriven grot: 'Untitled 5' begins with burned out tape hiss and amp fuzz, the black clouds eventually part to reveal unashamedly disarming guitar melodies. It's the meeting point between Fennesz, Merzbow and Godflesh - not quite one or the other, but as simultaneously hard-edged and blissful as you want to imagine. It's not the first time Broadrick has poked around sonic bliss states - his Jesu recordings (particularly 2006's "Silver") successfully fused shoegaze moods with metal textures - but "It Comes To Us All" still feels like a fresh chapter in the Brummie musician's ongoing narrative.
At times as murky and memory-triggering as James Kirby's Caretaker material ('Untitled 3' and 'Untitled 7') and at others as frozen in time as Kevin Drumm's ambient works ('Untitled 8'), Broadrick's latest FINAL set is a brilliant combination of experience, technical skill and a solid concept. Frazzled as fuck.
Exquisitely poised, hallucinatory chamber minimalism by Dutch duo Wanderwelle, a new name to us, and one naturally up to scratch with Important’s exacting standards
Helping usher in the seminal label’s 20th year along with superb sides by Lambda Sond and Alvin & Lucier with Jordan Dykstra, ‘Black Clouds Above The Bows’ shares a gloaming quality of light with the former act, which Wanderwelle deploy at more furtive, submerged angles. It’s their 5th album since 2017, and also their most refined, deploying a very fine grasp of edge-of-dissonant tones and absorbingly enigmatic space that calls for comparison with a sort of post-apocalyptic 4th world interzone, like a shadowier Pauline Oliveros piece or the barren cinematic isolationism of Lynch/Badalamenti and The Stranger, as the work progresses deep into its own recesses and quietly glowing folds of imagination.
Aye, it’s properly in tune with what, after 20 years, we can safely say makes the Important label tick. Working with unusual or non-standard tuning systems, the Dutch alchemists carefully conjure peculiar planes of thought on their journey from the darkly blissed buoyancy of ‘Jonah’ to the Lynchian tonal intrigue, and stuff, of ‘My Body Lay Afloat’; holding a fine narrative line between the first encounter-type atmosphere of ‘The Horned Moon’ thru the moonlight-bathed ‘Dead Calm’, and magnificent airborne roil of smeared horns in ‘Dies Infaustes’ that precipitates a transfixing deathly solemnity in ‘Penance’, and teeth-chattering stygian feel of ‘The Devil Knows How To Row’. One for the darkside connoisseurs, to be sure.
Miasmah Recordings presents Spring Stories from Mondkopf.
"Deprived of sanity, Paul Régimbeau aka Mondkopf found new territories of expression with "Spring Stories", a collection of post-rapture moods full of glorious chaos, ready to absorb and re-ignite all that is worn.
As a phoenix raising from the ashes, Spring Stories captures the earth in full bloom. Darkness & Insanity looses it´s grips as the roots and fresh leaves creates a slow dance towards the sun. Similarly sine-wave drones move around exploding electric guitar improvisations as new light beams on shadow cast corners. The album feels like a 60ies jam set in the post-world psychedelic underground. Heavy, absurd, beautiful and ready to sooth burnt out, depleted minds. Paul has citied that he´s affected as much by folk improvisors such as Master Wilburn Burchette & Robbie Basho as well as the doom drone of giants Earth & Sunn O))). Spring Stories invokes on these, while feeling like a personal blow-out, coming right from the core. Touching and grand, like spring itself.
The album also features Frederic D. Oberland on two tracks playing variously Duduk & Alto Saxophone. Lastly, The Necks drummer Tony Buck shakes & rattles all over the final - and seriously epic - piece “Continuation”, as the world aligns while the sun rises over its near-dead shape."
Emma DJ, Katatonic Silencio, Klahrk and more lend remixes to Glass’s debut set of crystal cut sound designer dance deconstructions on Florentine label, OOH-Sounds
Probing the parameters of contemporary music production, ‘crY’ is presented as a response to the constraints of commodified music. In it, French duo Glass apply obsessive detailing to familiar dance tropes, dissecting and restitching aspects of “deconstructed jungle, weirdo techno and ambient structures” in a way we’ve come to expect from Lee Gamble and his UIQ gang.
The results are buffed to a high sheen redolent of cinematic sound design vernacular between the gyring proprioceptions of their ‘crY (Live)’, the pointillist broken techno precision of ‘crY’ and warped breakbeat hardcore ballistics in ‘Appointment Scheduling System’, before knuckling down to the jagged techno freak ‘multi-functional prosthetic hand (L version)’. Emma DJ supplies a fleet-hoofed rework of ‘crY’ replete with auto-tuned bleating; Katatonic Silentio takes it down a cyber wormhole; and Active Benz’s Klahrk recalibrates it to sort of brittle jungle hustle.
Absorbingly textured, minimalist chamber soundscaping and arrangements of Renaissance music, by Austrian composer and organist Klaus Lang, performed by Trio Amos.
This recording, made at Stift St. Lambrecht, Peterskirche, July 15th & 16th, 2019, is played by Klaus Lang (organ), with Trios Amos: Sylvie Lacroix (flute), Krassimir Sterev (accordion), and Michael Moser (cello). It revolves three original Lang works interspersed with his arrangements of c.15th renaissance works by Johannes Ockeghem and Pierre de La Rue, which both offer clues to the roots of Lang’s own pieces. Those original works include the tensely gripping, haunting near-stasis of flute, cello and accordion deployed in ‘origami’ (2011), the finer sense of relief to the floating figures of cello & accordion on ‘tehran dust’ (2013), and a return to seat-edge tension in the 25 minute piece ‘darkness & freedom’ (2017), with its deeply uncanny resemblance to vocal music apparently coming from purely instrumental sources. The rearrangement for Ockeghem and de la Rue, respectively, act as ideal palate cleansers and reference points.
“The beginning of western philosophy, and the basis for all western art, is grounded in the fascinating intellectual achievement of Pythagoras: to find, by observing the concrete and contingent in nature, a purely abstract principle: numbers. The history of western art is a history of different ways of applying principles found in nature to the creation of art. The combination of structural clarity and beauty with rich sensual quality fascinates me in nature, and that is what I try to achieve in my own work. It is also the principle that I see in the music that I feel closest to: Renaissance music by the likes of Johannes Ockeghem or Pierre de la Rue, that uses the rigour of structure to set free the beauty of sound. But even if we can explain every single note in a canon by Ockeghem, we cannot explain the depth of the sensual experience that we feel when listening to that canon.” - Klaus Lang
Six improvisations by veteran composer Ernstalbrecht Stiebler (piano) and Tilman Kanitz (cello).
"Six duo improvisations for cello and piano by the veteran composer Ernstalbrecht Stiebler, and fellow-Berlin resident Tilman Kanitz. Fascinating music, which uses pitch and harmony much more than most improvisation, and is a remarkable document of someone who started to play improvised music in his mid-80’s. It’s obviously never too late.
Recorded during Covid lockdown by Tilman Kanitz at his studio in Berlin."
Chain Reaction worshipping, elemental electronics by Canadian/Swiss duo, mapping vast, undulating topographies, and incorporating field recordings of The Alps, The Caucasus, and north of the Arctic Circle
In ‘Gap/Void’, post-techno mutator Automatisme and his Swiss spar, writer/academic, and field recordist/ambient musician/visual artist Paulus, present contrasting sides of heavily processed, rhythmic styles, and relatively subtler ambient panoramas in their first collaborative release. The ten-part album finds a gripping middle ground between their respective, differing approaches to sound arrangement, with Automatisme’s signature, erratic rhythms, comparable to Second Woman or Barker, deployed in balance with the multi-spatial layering of Paulus’ field recordings made at various ends - or should that be pinnacles - of the earth. True to both artists’ oeuvres their concept-laden thrust is rendered deftly in a range of adventurous rhythms and absorbingly visceral textures that create a series of ravishing, kinetic sound images that transport listeners deep into their interzone.
Equal parts psychogeographic study and fantasy terraforming, the two sides of ‘Gap/Void’ effortlessly sublimate a wealth of influence ranging from the C.20th minimalism of La Monte Young’s Dream Syndicate thru to the stacked chords of ‘70s mountaintop kosmiche, plus micro-sampled disco records and critical source material from the natural world, to achieve a vivid, if shifting, sense of space and place that surely betrays their native northerly latitude and Alpine altitude.
The first half hits square between their styles, with Automatisme’s displaced and ruptured rhythms switching between jagged, polytemporal meter in the 12 min ’Säntis’ to Vladislav Delay-like electro-dub in ‘Marwees’ and overpronating pulses in ‘Üble Schlucht’, to deep techno impulses recalling Matrix on ‘Blau Schnee’, with Paulus’ input most explicit in the iridescent greyscale swirl that comes to dominate the 2nd half’s ‘Altered Source Recordings’, which variously call to mind Thomas Köner’s work, both solo and with Porter Ricks, in the isolated climes of ’Schwarzhorn’ and the nithering grip of ‘Nob’.
YUNIS is an Egyptian musician, producer and co-founder of Kafr El-Dauwar Records, an independent label interested in contemporary and experimental music, founded by a group of young artists with the aim of creating a musical movement in Egypt.
“Mulid El-Magnuon” addresses the term ‘moulid’ and its various manifestations it takes on in Egyptian folk music. Here, the word ‘moulid’ does not exclusively refer to Sufi moulids: rather also the intertwined artistic spaces that lie between the moulid in its Sufi sense and what it carries in distinctive rhythmic patterns, musical instruments, and artistic forms, and the moulid as a musical genre originating from folk weddings that enjoy special aesthetics and unique styles.
Through this project, YUNIS tries to explore the spaces where those two concepts collide through producing an original musical composition which reflects his own vision and understanding of ‘moulids’ as well as the manifestations the word carries within him."
Investigative minimalist Ivan Pavlov turns attention to the guitar with typically fascinating results, including a cover of SoftCell, on his return to the cold teet of Noton.
As the titular nod to The Beatles implies, ‘While Your Guitar Gentle’ is CoH’s latest dalliance with pop, rock and song-based forms, as heard from his radical minimalist perspective. Processed guitars are core to his interests here, perpetually flickering between acoustic and re-synthesised strings in a subtly curious sort of captcha for the aural senses. The sometime Coil affiliate draws on an ever innovative sort of craft to give a fizzing character to his scalpelled riffs and glitching textures, variously congealing into wiry creatures that resemble parts of his most memorable works such as the retrospective comp ‘CoHgs’ (CoH = “Son” in Cyrillic; CoHgs = u get it), the grizzled ‘Iiron’ or indeed his 2007 set for Raster-Noton,’Strings’.
Not for everyone, but a real pleasure to keener listeners of electronic music, the nine parts follow in CoH’s singular, practically unparalleled practice to eke out new nuance in classic forms, variously making his axe chatter with a folk-rock jitter in ‘WYGG [For Tom Waits]’, and smearing it into spare oily notes and shadows in ‘Bolero with Ola’, while slipping into his Frankie Gothard guise to dismantle and rebuild Soft Cell’s ‘Heat’ as a piece of spidery post-techno-pop brilliance. Followers of CoH’s pulse-based styles will also be intrigued by ‘Gear Chill Spell’ and ‘Arrows of Faith’, where he also parallels the pointillist intricacies of Oren Ambarchi and Konrad Sprenger in his puckered balance of precise and elusive soul.
Sound interrogators Masami Akita and David Lee Myers rework each other in variously tactful and visceral, durational head re-arrangers
Both veterans in their field, Japanese noise virtuoso Merzbow and US feedback manipulator Arcane Device turn each other inside out across longform works that comprehensively decimate and rinse ou the other.
On ‘Arcane Device Mixes Merzbow’ the US artist speaks to his 30+ years of experience at the coal face of noise with an astringent approach to his spar, dissolving and smearing his organic sonic violence into a discordant vapour trail and curdled slosh that pools into viscous suds and primordial soup.
On the other hand, ‘Merzbow Mixes Arcane Device’ is all screeching attack and shrill high-register chaos that appears to shred and emulsify your innards and prompt the feeling that your grey matter is seeping out of your poor ears. Masochists and madheads, this one’s yours.
Mesmerising works for organ and percussion, rooted in early music, and distilled by Canadian composers Clark & Ceccarelli - RIYL Sarah Davachi, XKatedral, FUJI||||||||||TA.
With exquisite grace and patience, Katelyn Clark and Isaiah Ceccarelli smudge the respective sounds of continuo organ and portative organ (organetto) with analogue synth and traces of percussion to create a richly intoxicating timbral residue that begs eyes shut and effortlessly evokes states of deep concentration. Through processes of performance, listening back, and reiteration, they appear to variously slow down traces of early music until it dematerialises into quivering drones of the sort best not experienced while driving heavy machinery.
In their longer pieces, especially the 20 minutes of ‘Five Distances’ the soporific pull quite be quite intense and seduce to the horizontal, and feels as though they are pulling he structures of early music deeply out of focus and manifesting the distance of time between the object and their subject within their strangely sensorial space. Admirers of Yosuke Fujita’s water-built pipe contraptions will surely be attracted by the woozy glow of their vignettes ‘Improvisation on a Quarter’ and ‘Improvisation on a Kyrie Eleison’.
A firm fave in Merzbow’s early junk noise vein resurfaces on reissue with Important, packing 40 minutes of free-flowing, gunky cacophony
First deployed on the Chaos label in 1983, ‘Material Action 2 (N-A-M)’ yields Masami Akita (Merzbow) duelling with Kiyoshi Mizutani on a junk-shop’s worth of tapes, percussion, organ, synth, and violin. Also found on the legendary 50 x CD ‘Merzbox’ in 2000, the two side-long tracks work out a straight-jacket squirm of atonalities and arrhythmic flow that is pure Merzbow, and especially indicative of his seminal early work that inspired a whole genre in its wake.
Ostensibly an unstructured racket, it’s possible to detect the inspirations of natural world chaos, janky folk, free jazz and jagged blues rock collapsed into the pyroclastic flow of ‘Material Action (N-A-M)’. A lone fiddle soloist barely keeps their head above the clattering rhythms that attempt to drag it under on ‘Nil Ad Mirari’, leading to surprisingly sweet resolution of gamelan-esque tones in the final parts, before ‘Nimbus Alter Magneto Electricity’ really pushes out into primordial soup chaos with a resounding clangour and manacled grasp of his material.
Expedition is a collaboration between sound artist The Dead Mauriacs (aka Olivier Prieur) and collage artist Evan Crankshaw.
"This collaboration is based on their mutual interest in treating exotica as both a subject and a material. Evan Crankshaw's 2015 collage book, also entitled Expedition, is assembled and collaged by hand from a vast archive of popular exoticist printed materials, and explores recurring motifs in expedition narratives, simultaneously evoking and alienating the exoticist fantasy.
In 2018, the book was interpreted for a live performance at Festival BBMix (Boulognes-Billancourt, France) in collaboration with The Dead Mauriacs, who created a complete exotica-concrète score accompanying projected images of the book & live narration. That collaboration can be heard on this album, an armchair-travel virtual-voyage to the heart of an imagined actual elsewhere, stitched from pieces of narcotizing fabulisms, disturbing actualities, and incomprehensibilities – an interior excursion into the exotic immensity."
Merzbow and Lawrence English's first collaboration is a hissing mechanical opera, like David Lynch's "Eraserhead" ambience piped through a broken pedalboard and a few shortwave radio transmitters..
Described as "a harrowing, surrealist portrait of nocturnal industrial activity", "Eternal Stalker" is based on field recordings captured a few hours north of English's Brisbane base. It's the familiar sound of heavy machinery that guides the set, forming an organic mirror that reflects Masami Akita's characteristic greyed-out fuzz. Plenty of Merzbow discs have been likened to malfunctioning industrial machinery in the past, but "Eternal Stalker" deserves the tag, and English cleverly shifts the focus to disorientate the listeners: is it organic or electronic? Does it matter?
The inspiration for the album and its title comes from Andrei Tarkovsky's "Stalker", and that movie's eerily philosophical mood permeates each track. The crunching metal and dripping water that introduces 'The Long Dream' immediately transports you into a sci-fi dystopia; we might be in the bowels of a planet's air filtration system, or some kind of refinery. There are few human elements, but the sense of scale - and metal objects - is palpable. Both artists' restraint is impressive - the album only erupts into the expected hi-density destruction in the middle of 'A Gate of Light', where Akita's distorted crunch finally claws its way to the surface.
This moderation gives "Eternal Stalker" a dynamism often missing from Akita's recordings, and helps create a drama and tension that keeps us coming back. 'The Visit' - almost seven minutes of shortwave-corrupted industrial groaning - is as gruesome as anything in the Merzbow back catalogue, but closer to David Lynch and Alan R. Splett's "Eraserhead" pipe hiss than to "Pulse Demon". The duo are successful in evoking a landscape using each of their approaches - English employing the dynamic, gusty approach he took on albums like "Viento" and Akita turning the volume dial down on recordings like 2017's ace "Torus".
Together, they form an impressive pair, rarely lapsing into anything melodic or even tonal, instead exploring texture at a microscopic scale, allowing it to reach critical levels only when narratively necessary. Now we wanna hear this attached to a feature-length film. Stunning work!
Six pieces developed by violinists Johnny Chang and Keir GoGwilt, starting from early music works by Hildegard van Bingen and Orlando de Lassus.
"Three violin duets, plus three tracks for violins and the voice of Celeste Oram."
Enduring Japanese post-rock band MONO ditch the quiet-loud histrionics on their debut feature-length soundtrack, focusing on delicate ambient arrangements and airy cinematic bliss.
Directed by Yusaku Mitsuwaka, "My Story, The Buraku Story" is a documentary film focused on the lives of the burakumin, a "low status" group of ostracized rural villagers that experience discrimination in Japanese society based on their bloodline. For hundreds of years these people and their descendants have been treated poorly: prevented from working in certain professions and being forced to live only in designated areas. So for MONO, their job was to find a way to approach Mitsuwaka's film with the sensitivity necessary to help tell a difficult narrative - one that's rarely acknowledged by Japan.
It makes sense then that the band opted to strip back their usual heaviness and concentrate on more emotive elements, using piano, strings, synthesizers and choral vocal loops in place of guitars and drums. Tracks like the lachrymose solo piano number 'Yurameki' and self-consciously melancholy string and piano-led micro epic 'Kokyo' lead the charge. MONO's anthemic fingerprint is still present, just about, but turned down a few notches to marinate in the subject matter's calm sincerity. On tracks like 'Gohon no yubi' and 'Chinmoku' they use electronic elements to dematerialize in Eno-esque ambient zones, but they allow the instrumental post-rock to push thru on final track 'The Place', that slowly builds into a slow, Mogwai-esque crescendo.
HAAi's debut full-length album.
"This is HAAi's most collaborative, energetic and vibrant collection to date. Baby, We're Ascending, a 13-track sonic adventure that takes you along for the ride – from hardcore, echoey beats to sweeping, colourful synth lines and bright, warped vocal samples. The voices on the album are vast and eclectic – from Jon Hopkins and Hot Chip's Alexis Taylor to singer Obi Franky and spoken word poet and activist Kai-Isaiah Jamal."
Soul Jazz Records presents a selection of rare and classic releases made at Studio One by reggae's leading women.
"Featuring legendary artists such as Marcia Griffiths, Rita Marley and Hortense Ellis (with a guest appearance by her brother Alton), alongside a host of rarities from lesser known names such as Nina Soul, Nana Mclean, Denise Darlington, Myrna Hague and also Doreen Schaeffer - vocalist and founding member of The Skatalites!
Featured here are some notable cover versions - from Tyrone Davis’ soul classic 'Can I Change My Mind' to the Band’s 60s psychedelic anthemic 'Turn Turn Turn' in a rub-a-dub style!. Doreen Schaeffer versions Alton Ellis’s seminal 'I’m Still in Love with You', Nina Soul versions the slack rocksteady anthem 'Barb Wire'.
Many of these tracks are almost impossible to find and many have never been issued ever since their initial release. The music on the album is - of course - 100% killer and features backing from all of the seminal groups at 13 Brentford Road including The Skatalites, Sound Dimension, Soul Brothers and the Brentford All Stars, and ranges from ska, rocksteady, roots, lovers and more from the 60s, 70s and 80s.
All produced by Clement ‘Sir Coxsone’ Dodd at Studio One Records, the number one sound in reggae music."
Holy moly! Ákos Rózmann’s monumental 7.5 hr ‘Mass/Mässa’ is one of the most peculiar and rigorous electro-acoustic reflections on the Catholic ceremony imaginable, now premiered via Stephen O’Malley’s Ideologic Organ imprint. It’s simply incredible, unmissable music for anyone in search of epic, ambitious, long-form experimental composition that basically sounds like nothing else.
A staggering proposition from any perspective, ‘Mass’ commits one of Rózmann’s most significant cycles to its first release. Set to blow heads clean off, It arrives on the Ideologic Organ label, co-founded by Stephen O’Malley and Peter Rehberg (R.I.P.), in the wake of their equally stunning reissues for ’12 Stationer VI’ (2012) and ‘Images of the Dream and Death’ (2013), and serves to deepen admiration of Rózmann’s work with its truly hard-to-fathom cycle of phantasmic, hallucinatory compositions inspired by the artist’s religious experience. The result is practically incomparable in terms of scope and execution, but, if pushed, we’d have to place it somewhere between Iancu Dumitrescu’s spectralism, Jean-Claude Eloy's fantasias, and the cosmic scale of Roland Kayn - though we’d still be some way off fully incapsulating Rózmann’s vision.
As a student of the Bartók Conservatory and the Liszt Academy, who spent a long time as organist of the Catholic Cathedral in Stockholm, Rózmann draws on this rich background to deploy organ, Hungarian zither, and the voices of a Corsican village choir and Schola Gregorian Pragensis, in the remarkably unusual, byzantine arrangements of ‘Mass’. Structured around personal observations on the first two parts of the Catholic Mass, Kyrie and Gloria, the piece unfolds a formal narrative of tensions between Positive and Negative forces, with the composer’s spirit, ranging from black humour to riddling psychedelia, lending a cosmically unresolved nuance to that conflict of energies.
Like a holy mountain that you don't climb thru sheer awe and terror, ‘Mass/Mässa’ is an epic piece of work whose peaks are best viewed from short remove. Fulminating on the mind’s eye with tempestuous and even ludicrous chaos of the ‘Kyrie eleison - Orgelstycke IV’, it proceeds to be dominated by the ‘Gloria’ parts, unfolding in sensational, shearing dynamics around fragmented incantations and petrified sound images frozen, suspended in a time out of joint. The competing energies often threaten to suck you under the waves, but always resurface in even more intriguing spaces. It’s the sort of recording that may take you to the edge of sanity and back, if consumed in full, but is perhaps better taken in stages,to break down its complex musical language and get some sort of grasp on its swarming, ineffable nature.
This, my friends, is absolutely boss-level gear. Not to be missed if you’re unafraid of the abyss.
Reinforce thy CD shelves for a new edition of Ákos Rózmann’s concrète masterpiece; a 6.5 hr predecessor and parallel to his recently issued ‘Massa’, equally generous in its hellish/heavenly scope and unfathomable depth of vision, presented in its astonishing entirety.
The term peerless, in its strictest sense, should be reserved for the likes of ’12 Stations’, an incredibly ambitious and singular work realised over the course of decades in focussed isolation by Hungarian-Swedish genius Ákos Rózmann. Beginning in 1978 as composer Miklós Maros’ commission for a five minute work for piano and vocals by his wife, Ilona Maros, the piece wouldn’t be completed until 2001, arriving in phases that ultimately spanned the progression of late c.20th experimental composition techniques, from tape-editing era to the DAWs of the early c.21st. It is a masterpiece of dematerialised sound alchemy, an utterly compelling parade of grotesqueries and epiphanies following a logic that’s never been fully disambiguated by its composer, who hints at its influences from the Tibetan Book of the Dead and the Catholic Church, but leaves a lot, and we say a lot, to the imagination.
Depending on yr tolerance for hellscapes and the inexplicable side of the human psyche, ’12 Stations’ is either a dream come true or a nightmarish experience, maybe both simultaneously. From the initial seeds of vocal and prepared piano, Rózmann cultivates a sprawling body of work that, if you step back in an attempt to grasp it whole, appears to describe an ascent from hell into heaven over its considerable narrative arc. The first two sections, completed 1978-1984, dissect and deploy the vocals as swarming apparitions or the cries of souls flayed by the flechettes of his prepared piano and scalding synth eruptions. Further in, ‘The Abandonment of Hell’ appears to initiate its ascent, allowing more space and light in the mix, illuminating its gurning voices in a half light, while there’s almost a choral musicality to the proceeding piece ‘The Awakening’.
Its final sections, completed with sampler keyboard and FX 1999-2000, feel notably more weightless in comparison, shedding chains of the arduous tape-splicing process to emerge in fluttering synth figures and choral keen of ‘The Celebrators’ and ultimately culminate in ‘The Contents and Life of the Black Pit’, with its shivering voices in streaking flux with shards of luminous synth and broken piano notes. Not once during the entire piece does Rózmann compromise his vision, never letting any element stand still or fixed, assuring a disorienting, spirit-reprogramming and life-affirming experience in the process for anyone daring to enter his portal. Best to leave you with his own words:
“Man meets different difficulties and sufferings through his wandering. These are forces between which a continuous struggle is going on. He cannot control and preside over these forces. He is being tossed up and down, powerless, like snowflakes in the storm: chaotic thoughts and feelings, gladness and suffering, which flow without intermission like a river that has no beginning nor end. All these are the fruits of our own deeds. However, in this life you have the chance to make easier those life wanderings that are to come. - Rózmann (from the programme notes for the 1984 premiere of the first seven stations).
Merzbow at his most “accessible” on a reissue of his jagged, bolshy garage psych jams of 2002
Dusted down for a 20th anniversary edition, ‘Merzbeat’ depicts Masami Akita as we’ve rarely heard him, going slightly easier on the noise relish while hammering out bare-boned mutations of driving garage rock and spannered psych that sound like Eric Copeland wet dreams.
Where the Merzbow hardcore may hear this one as a lightweight in his cabinet of madness, it should snag you with its relative lack of slathering distortion. And the keyword there is “relative”, cos these still go harder than yer ma’s wooden spoon, baring dripping fangs on the overdriven swag of ‘Promotion Man’, and tumpin’ the shit out of his kit on ‘Forgotten Land’ against a backdrop of white hot noise, whereas ’Shadow Barbarian (long mix)’ squashes it to a tarry psych residue string out with goopy subs and resolving to whacked out chromatix, with ‘Tadpole’ spiralling an organ motif into psych ecstasy, and ‘Looping Jane (beat mix)’ trampling the psych-bluesy drums like a bezzerker Bonham with a sampler unit body mod.
A brilliantly raw sore thumb in drone maverick Phill Niblock’s canon, his melange of field recordings made in Hong Kong, Hungary, Scandinavia and the US is given necessary spotlight by Room40
If you’re expecting heavyweight slabs of microtonal drone, think again, as ‘Ghosts And Others’ documents Niblock’s roving ear and cinematic sensibilities colliding in utterly transfixing style. To be fair, all of Niblock’s work is trance-inducing to some extent, but this one takes a wildly different approach to anything else in his singular catalogue; framing layered and ProTools-edited field recordings made over decades and piled into a palimpsestic sort of impossible space and time out of joint.
Presented with the artist’s recommendation to play it “very LOUD, with a mite of extra bass”, and the warning that “If the neighbors complain, and they live two miles away, it's about the right level”, the piece yields a sort of fantasy travelogue where the sounds of cows on a communal farm in Soviet Hungary moo amid the clatter of Chinese drums and the railroad clack of trains bezzing to Hartford Connecticut and between Stockholm and Copenhagen. The result is akin to being the onlooker of a gloriously cacophonous street scene in some imaginary place, serenaded by a lone pipe player, dodging cattle, and feeling energised by the abundance of life all at once.
If you’re partial to travel, ever found yrself fascinated by Sublime Frequencies’ rawest street recordings, or like the idea of prototype of too-many-YT-tabs-open-at-once, we highly advise filling your boots right here.
Time~Lapse Nature from Diatom Deli, from RVNG.
"Diatom Deli’s Time~Lapse Nature is a channel between cerebral ascension and somatic memory, tethered to the micro-present though humbled by a beyond. Dilated by celestial fluctuations and dynamic flutters, the reverberations from the Taos-based artist’s new album culminate through airy tests of vocal layering, longing guitar laments, and discreetly sourced sound, compelling Deli’s commitment to esoteric precision and impulse.
Written between 2016 and 2019, Time~Lapse Nature embodies Deli’s generous, ongoing excavation of her inner emotive spectrum and offers listeners a lush, loving overgrowth; a hiding place for heart-centric radiation. After several synchronistic and collaborative encounters, the album was channeled with the help of Michael Hix (synthesizers, connective magic) and Bryan Talbot (engineering, soundscapes), Deli steadfast at the center, a transparent catalyst for the album’s omniscient landscapes and fleeting tenor.
A clairsentient offering from Deli, where sound imparts knowing, and is felt more than heard, Time~Lapse Nature is a space to which listeners are invited to commune in a hymnal harmony, prismic beams stretching over sweet, nourishing water. Like a mist dissipating over open fields, Time~Lapse Nature incants a process of succulent renewal towards the mythic, eternal—summoning each listener to delight in the resounding stillness."
A necessary reminder of Conrad Schnitzler’s alien brilliance, reissuing the almost tropical swagger of his one-off with legendary german drummer Wolfgang Seidel
‘Consequenz II’ depicts hugely influential synth pioneer Schnitzler jamming with drummer Wolfgang Seidel, some decade after their recordings as Eruption, which would later be issued under the Kluster mantle. Recorded in 1983/84, and pressed to record in 1986 by Discos Esplendor Geometrico, the nine tracks sound like they had a top craic making them, with Seidel’s funky strikes synched to sticky electronics and guitars in party-ready permutations that variously touch on boogie disco, warped digi-dancehall prototypes, and mental electro, that both parallels styles of that era, and also sounds like nowt else from it.
Kicking off with what sounds like Mad Mike’s mushied brother from another mother on ‘Von Hand’, it takes in the pendulous electro dancehall jaw-droppers ‘Zack Zack’ and ‘Fiesta’ beside what could be a stray experiment from the original Såada Bonaire sessions in ‘Erotik’, plus proper nose-drip synth tang on ‘Windmill’ and the dippiest synth business in ‘Alhambra’. Their shared sense of humour surely coms thru in the collaged of wheezing Spaniards in ‘España’, before pushing right out into hall of mirrors synth psychedelia in the B-side’s 19 min long ‘Kastilien’, and leaving us in no doubt to their combined, wild genius.
The third volume in a survey of the modern jazz & hard-bop scenes that emerged in the new cultural melting pot of post war London, with recordings from the end of the 1940s through to the early 1960s.
"Featuring representations from players whose roots lay in the East-End's jewish community alongside a wealth of talent of Caribbean and African descent playing and recording in post war London during this period.
Made in partnership with the Barbican to coincide with the exhibition Postwar Modern: New Art in Britain 1945-1965."
Remastered to sound clear as a dead still night under a full moon, Carsten Nicolai & Ryuichi Sakamoto’s seminal minimalist masterpiece returns to the water on its 20th birthday
2002’s ‘Vrioon’ is a best-in-class example of late C.20th classical chamber minimalism and precision-tooled electronics, reassessing their roles and interrelations at the cusp of a new era. Its seven sections pay witness to Sakamoto and Nicolai subtly building on the examples of their super minimalist late ‘90s works, spanning installations and loop-based electronics, with a plusher (yet exactingly pruned) palette of chamber piano keys and ultra-precise electronic tones that genuinely sounded like a sort of future had a arrived. With hindsight, it was soon easy to gauge the influence of their innovation on a wave of imitators in their wake, and ‘Vrioon’ still stands as a a masterclass in elegant reductionism and a sterling example of how not to throw out the baby with the bathwater.
In its seven sparing parts Sakamoto dials down his classical skills to an emotive, quizzical quintessence comparable with Morton Feldman, while Carsten Nicolai adapts the icy asceticism of his previous works to provide filigree juxtaposition and sympathetic contours to the piano notes’ crisp attack and wilting decays. The results are simply free of pretension and are soberly, nakedly honest in their execution and effect; conjuring lucidly reflective and melancholic, yet, ultimately ephemeral, structures that are future-proofed by their razor sharp minimalism and timeless sense of patience. Trust, if you’ve not immersed in it before, there are genuinely rare pleasures to be discovered in this recording.
Cascading rhythmelodies from OG synth-o-naut and Kluster co-founder Conrad Schnitzler, reissued for first time in 15 years, and for the first time on vinyl.
Joseph Beuys student Conrad Schnitzler (1937-2011) was a key pioneer of synth music with his endeavours on early Tangerine Dream records from the late ‘60s, and later alongside Moebius and Roedelius in the first iteration of Kluster (later Cluster). By 1973 he was flying solo and spent the next decade improvising prototypes for techno and minimal electronic music that projected pulsating new paths beyond German traditional musics tainted by association with the past. However, with ‘Con ’84’ he altered that approach with some of his most composed music to date, challenging traditions of so-called “Ernste Musik”, or “serious music” with complex structures that subverted its notions of traditionalism.
The result is akin to court music for an alien emperor, all piquant pizzicato in flurried melodies ranging from fanfare pomp to quizzical call-and-response between ends of the keyboard. Most crucially, while it’s all clearly organised in his arrangements, you get the sense that it was made with a wry smirk on his mug as the pieces proceed with a mix of genuine timbral invention and ludicrousness that’s hard not to fall for. Po-faced it is not, instead offering an electronic paradigm full of a joy for the uniquely expressive voice of his machines, apparent from the mouth-watering timbral quiver and deliquescence of ‘X19 II’ thru the theatrical pomp of ’28.6.84’ to the horror theme arps of ‘X19’, with distinctive charms in the fleeting iridescence of ‘X18 I’ and the curdled chamber music lullaby of ‘X19 I’.
A Special Edition re-issue of 2011 album The Entire City, on Anti-Ghost Moon Ray.
"In 2011 Gazelle Twin self-released ‘The Entire City’, a debut album that gathered rapid acclaim and sparked a decade of creativity during which its creator, Elizabeth Bernholz has built big upon her foundation of dark, cinematic energy.
The album is now set to be reissued featuring the captivating photo collage artwork of British artist, Suzanne Moxhay, with newly designed artwork by Paul Agar & Gazelle Twin."
Classic, foundational shoegaze pop from Leeds, 1990, including a bonus side of demos recorded in the terraced hills of Woodhouse, plus their John Peel Session...
“On the eve of a post-Thatcherite Britain, the Pale Saints, alongside the likes of Lush, Ride and Slowdive, were ushering in a new wave of British indie. And in 4AD, they found a perfect home for their music - an exciting & undeniable meld of noise and dream-pop.
Their debut album, The Comforts of Madness, didn’t disappoint, now standing as one of the best of its era. Pitchfork placed it in their Best 50 Shoegaze Albums Of All Time saying, “There’s a restless urgency, particularly when the volume swells and the rhythms intensify. That energy not only keeps (it) vital, it emphasizes Pale Saints’ inventiveness, how they channelled softness and rage into something distinctive.”
Nearly 30 years on and The Comforts of Madness is finally getting the reissue treatment. Having been remastered, a faithful LP repress on black vinyl is being released as well as double CD and double clear vinyl editions, both of which come with a bonus disc of previously unreleased demos and the band’s only John Peel Session, recorded in 1989.”
Richard Chartier’s pioneering queer ambient project puts us under his spell again with an infinitely elegant suite of anaesthetic, spectral tones near guaranteed to grab fans of The Caretaker, Romance, Philip Jeck, Lynch & Badalamenti.
Gently rousing the project from its beauty kip, Chartier’s latest Pinkcourtesyphone dials in 40 minutes of exquisitely supine, pharmaceutically tinted mood music in the wake of 2020’s ‘Leaving Everything To Be Desired’. All chiffon pastel hues shrouding something darker in its gauzy middle distance, ‘All Intensive Purposes’ returns us to rarified realms that have become familiar as a recurrent dream over the decade since we were first smitten by the project’s debut, ‘Foley Folly Folio’ in 2012 (to the extent we had to reissue it on vinyl the following year on Boomkat Editions). The project has since become a byword for a sense of intrigue, and stuff, amid a contemporary sphere saturated with ambient efforts that rarely come close to the effect of Pinkcourtesyphone’s intoxicating ethers and patient, tactile nuance - save for maybe the likes of Romance & Dean Hurley’s soap opera studies, or the latter stages of The Caretaker.
Enacting a sort of perpetual dusk of the LA mindset, here we find Pinkcourtesyphone’s most succinct snapshots of glamorous, noirish decay. Proffered as "catastrophe muzak", the sound of sympathy amplified, leaving the room” the imposed stasis of lockdown lingers of proceedings, with a particularly isolated opener ‘that intangible object of contempt / the tenderness of …’ setting a bleakly damaged tone that glacially resolves across the long string sighs of ‘’drained by the very nearness’ and finds its softer, sentimental centre in the fleeting dark bliss of ‘out of an abundance’, and pools into gorgeous, gloaming Lynchian feel of ‘comfortable predictability’ and ‘wistful wishful wanton’, where we can almost hear the medics peering over our prostrate fleshly vessel, searching for a heartbeat behind the shut eyes and blissed expression.
Alessandro Cortini's "Forse" series composed using only an original Buchla Music Easel.
"Alessandro Cortini's acclaimed Forse series is available for the first time on CD including an exclusive disc of Forse performed live. Packaged in matte coated digipacks housed in a heavy duty tip-on style outer box. 2021 digital master by Stephan Mathieu. Composed on a Buchla Music Easel, an incredibly rare electronic music instrument designed by Don Buchla, the Forse series features long, romantic compositions full of voluminous, bombastic tones and dripping with thick timbre."
Australian musician and songwriter Jo Schornikow's new album, Altar, via Keeled Scales.
"Jo Schornikow’s new album Altar is the perfect counterweight to 2019’s Secret Weapon. While that album was bare and scrappy bedroom folk, this new album is a joyful announcement of synthy indie-pop.
From Melbourne, Australia, Jo’s first job at 17 was as a church organist, a job she’s picked up again now in Nashville, where she lives with her husband Matthew Houck of Phosphorescent and their two children. She’s played keyboard in that band for over 8 years now, touring heavily all over the world as a full band, and ducking into BBC to record a duo session on their grand piano.
Jo Schornikow is a songwriter flexing her craft and sharing songs that have a special charm that allow them to somehow feel honest, open, intimate and funny all at the same time."
Western Vinyl presents Big Earth Energy from Sean Hellfritsch, aka Cool Maritime.
"Big Earth Energy plumbs the depths of Hellfritsch’s multimedia mind and naturalist heart, spinning an impressionistic narrative world off of cultural touchstones like the PC game MYST, and the work of Studio Ghibli composer Joe Hisaishi. Inspired by the aforementioned, and guided by Hellfritsch’s experience as an animator and filmmaker, Big Earth Energy is the soundtrack to a hypothetical video game with a pointedly ecological premise, and a twist of psychedelic charm.
In Hellfritsch’s imagined virtual journey, the player assumes the perspective of a treefrog sixty-five-million years ago, hopping epochs with each new level, forming a comprehensive picture of the massive changes the planet has gone through over the eons. The ultimate goal of the game is not to amass resources, defeat enemies, or gain power, but to fully witness the unfolding of one of the biggest systems of energy imaginable-- or as the album’s creator puts it-- “to explore the incomprehensibly vast energetic expression and mystery that is Earth.”
Big Earth Energy is steeped in exploratory RPG intrigue, possibility, and contemplation, lovingly overlaid with Miyazaki-an sentiments and aesthetics. The through-composed, organic, meandering synthesis heard on previous Cool Maritime albums has been fully replaced by meticulous polygonal arrangements that recall the computerized sheen of late 80s work by composers like Hiroshi Yoshimura, and Yoichiro Yoshikawa using true-to-period gear no less.
Even given its referentiality, Big Earth Energy comes off as forward-facing where so much reminiscent music remains fixed to a bygone moment in pop culture. Hellfritsch has created a musical world where the endless verdancy of the biosphere finds its parallel in the golden age of early 1990s video games, and late 80s Japanese environmental music, all while pointing to a hopeful planetary and artistic future that vindicates the motives of all of these muses."
Quinquis debut album Seim, out on Mute.
"Émilie Tiersen, previously releasing music under the alias of Tiny Feet, changed her artist name as a homage to her personal and family history by referencing her maiden name, whilst symbolising a new beginning musically.
The album is a collaboration with renowned producer Gareth Jones, (Depeche Mode, Yann Tiersen, Liars and Apparat). Seim emerged from the partnership as a harmonisation of Émilie’s delicate yet powerful vocals with sparse and immersive electronics and intricate melodies. Emblazoned with the Breton language, the album also features Ólavur Jákupsson singing in Faroese on ‘Run’ and writer and endurance cyclist Emily Chappell reading an extract from her book (in Welsh) “Where There’s A Will” on ‘Netra Ken’."
If I Never Know You Like This Again by SOAK, on Rough Trade.
"Having come up through BBC introducing at the tender age of 15 before signing to Rough Trade Records as well as winning the RTE Choice Music Prize, The Northern Irish Music Prize and the youngest ever Mercury Prize nominee, SOAK has again and again been described as ‘the voice of a generation.’
Showing from a young age an intensely artistic awareness of the poetry of memory, Bridie Monds-Watson, aka SOAK, would incessantly photograph and video everything, documenting and organising the material so it was always there for them to revisit. ”I always want to remember exactly how I felt at a certain moment.” Now, at 25, SOAK’s third album ‘If I Never Know You Like This Again', is naturally made up of what Bridie intimately calls “song-memories”.
Working closely with Tommy McLaughlin (Villagers), with whom Bridie has been collaborating with since the age of 15, and armed with influences from Pavement, to Radiohead to Broken Social Scene, they wrote most of the album together before recording it with the rest of the band in Attica Studios, Donegal. Throughout the album SOAK pushes and pulls at melodies, but never milks their brilliance. Bridie masterfully glides their vocal melody slightly off-kilter above excitable compressed high hats and flourishing guitar lines. With the new direction of a grungier, more lo-fi production the swooning guitars are given a contemporary pop-edge, reflected in the rich and robust musicality of songs like ‘Bleach’, ‘Last July’ and ‘Pretzel’. There’s a constant pulsating beat at the album’s centre, propelling it towards a kind of dewy happiness, like the end credits of a 90s coming-of-age film. Bridie’s lyrics move through the songs almost as effortlessly and they sing them, and the songs when read, read like poetry. With this album Bridie is, as the title suggests, freezing time in the pursuit of truth: capturing their life into existence."
Swiss guitarist Zimoun deploys intently careful, tonal exploration with absorbing results ripe for fans of Fennesz, Swans’ Norm Westberg, or Stephen O’Malley solo pieces
In search of expressively emotive guitar tone, Zimoun uses a range of extended strategies to agitate and evince his instrument’s voice on ‘Guitar Studies’. Through countless hours of reiteration and layering - but never looping - he recombines recordings and EQ’s their envelopes over the duration, finely sculpting his works into ostensibly static masses that reveal their nuance with durational immersion. Once adjusted to the light and texture of the piece, one will find it is teeming with microstructures that lure listeners deeper into its black hole whorl and warp their sense of time and space with uncanny stealth and hypnotic traction.
Arca doubles down on the psychosexual thrust of her ‘KiCK’ series with a more “manic, violently euphoric and aggressively psychedelic” gush of queered reggaeton energies in its wild 3rd volume
Where the parallel release of KiCK ii’ was more locked to reggaeton’s 100bpm bracket, this one ramps the tempos and conceptual pressure with blazing sound design to delirious effect across another dozen belters that rinse the dembow template into fresh new dimensions, as shared by the likes of Paul Marmota, Debit and Lao from the NAAFi crew, and explored in more oblique and unique ways by likes of Ziúr and Aya.
In her own words “Electra Rex is a new archetype I propose in reference to commonly understood ideas of Freud regarding the oedipal complex—Oedipus Rex kills the father and unknowingly making love to the mother. Electra complex posits the binary opposite: killing the mother and unknowingly making love to the father. And so I am the first to propose a non-binary psychosexual narrative to avoid falling into the same generational tragic blind spots. Electra Rex, a merging of both names, an integration of both Oedipus Rex and Electra: it kills both parents and has sex with itself, and chooses to live”.
So yeh, it’s an album about fucking your dad and killing your ma. Take or leave that whichever way you need; the music utterly slays on its own merits, but certainly takes on a whole other, cyber-operatic, uchronic-mythical dimension in context that may take more than a few listens, and an ability to understand Spanish, to really grasp. On the most immediate level it’s an arresting experience, reeling from the rambunctious snarl and attack of ‘Bruja’ to the piquant hyperballad of ‘Joya’ via the recoiling technoid ferocity of ‘Incendio’ and the staggering futurism of ‘Electra Rex’, with thrilling sense of restraint and deviousness in ‘Rubberneck’.
Arca ropes in Ryuichi Sakamoto's guest vox for the quietly reserved, 5th and final instalment of their epic ‘kiCK’ series
The closing chapter to one of this decade’s most ambitious pop projects thus far, ‘kiCK iiiii’ completes Arca’s magnum opus with a suite of heartbreaking ballads and torch songs rendered in skeletally spare settings. Accompanied by little more than stark solo keys, chamber-like baroque R&B strings and icy electronics, the dozen parts present Arca at her most vulnerable, stripping away the tricksy sound design and reggaeton rhythms for a haunting portrait of modal vocal presences and haunted negative space.
Emblematic of a changing world, Arca’s four preceding volumes have scaled in intensity and mood from operatic melodrama to bleeding edge rave, but only sometimes hinted at the depths of its 5th instalment. Ryuichi Sakamoto’s guest vocal on highlight ‘Sanctuary’ is as surprising an peculiar as any of the previous guests (Sia, Shirley Manson, Oliver Coates, Planningtorock), but also not the best thing here. That accolade goes to the album’s curdled torch song ‘Chiquita’ with its eerily naif vox and warbling keys, sharing a sort of damaged cabaret appeal with the outstanding closing flourish of ‘Crown’, and the puckered, almost Autechrian baroque melody of ‘Estrogen’. But there’s no doubt this one is meant to be consumed in full context with its other songs for optimal effect, and that’s what we recommend you do, pronto.
After teasing it in for ages now, Arca finally commits her extraordinary 2nd volume of fwd mutations nearly a decade since she first made our jaws drop.
The shapeshifting child of influences ranging from Elysia Crampton to TCF and Autechre; Arca is easily one of the most thrilling, prism-pushing artists on the planet right now. Her take on a distinctive Venezuelan heritage, spliced with formative experience of life in NYC during the ‘00s, and a leading edge production knowledge, has become an inimitable template sought out by everyone from Shayne Oliver, Dean Blunt and Björk to FKA Twigs and Kanye since her emergence, signifying a tectonic shift of underground and pop attention to South America’s melange of Afro-Latin musicks in the process, and, quite importantly, with a queered tang shared by SOPHIE (RIP) that’s also paved the way for the likes of Aya and Eartheater in her wake. Now ‘KICK ii’ is effectively her tightest body of work yet, balancing all aspects of her style in singular, sexy af equilibrium that feels for the frayed, phase-shifting hyperreality of the times like few other records that come to mind.
The dozen tracks are puckered with a pop-wise suss that leaves no two seconds wanting for detail or beautifully dissonant expression coupled with a lusting drive. Powered by permutations of tresillo, she bitch slaps form and style into the 2020s, fleeting from the alien, polytemporal hymn of ‘Doña’ thru tight reggaeton bullets in ‘Prada’ and the trance-synth gilded ‘Rakata’ to the gyring perreo of ‘Tiro’ and godly ballad ‘Luna Llena’, with ‘Araña’ and ‘Femme’ suturing the links between her killer early work on the ‘Stretch’ EPs. ‘Muñecas’ plucks on the ‘artstrangs with beautifully bittersweet pull, and ‘Confianza’ perhaps best illustrates the influence from Elysia Crampton’s all too often overlooked emosh genius, slipping into Radio A-list ready territory in their Sia collab ‘Born Yesterday’, and ‘Andro’ plumes off into cinematic, sensual hyperspace ready for the incoming volumes.
Posh Isolation presents the new album ”The Last Picture Show” by Vanity Productions.
"Over the course of four compositions Vanity Productions unfolds narratives of inner quest and exercises in futility. Grandiose, bleak and obliterate, like a seascape painting by Gerhart Richter ”The Last Picture Show”, yet sonically rich and vivid, Stadsgaard creates an erratic, unpredictable milieu.
Peter Bogdanovich’s film, Ryu Murakami’s short story and Stadsgaard’s sonic experimentations not only share a common name, but merge into a polylogue of voices telling the tales of scorching solitude, unfulfilled desires, filth, and wasted love. Men and women living a world of the obscene embody the unspoken solitude arousing desire that can never be satiated. What they look for stays ever under the veil of mystery, whether it’s a pool hall or an arcade in Texas, a neigbourhood in Tokyo brimming with callgirls and dealers or a sauna club in Copenhagen. Brief encounters linger and fade like a humble candlelight in the dark room. The beauty of it is in the futility of the search, chasing fulfilments in a deserted void, watching the suburban dreams slide out of view.
“The Last Picture Show” is one of those nights when one can hope to resurface the next day as something bigger and better, a thought that is necessary to go on and a message that what those people are looking for is not forever lost and about to come back. Like most of the recent work by Vanity Productions ”The Last Picture Show” is built upon repetitive loop manipulations creating desolated clouds of sonic dust and a wet haze of different pitches and noise elements full of melancholy and introscpection. Stadsgaard dwells in the simplicity of forms that carry unforgettable elegance and tenderness , deep emotionality and receptivity to the world around and beyond."
The legendary debut album of San Fran industro-punk Minimal Man returns to the surface, replete with exclusive new cut and bonus tracks.
‘The Shroud Of’ is a definitive document of Minimal Man’s years in San Francisco between forming in 1979 and departing for Europe and collaborations with Tuxedomoon after his 2nd album, ‘Safari’ in 1985. The original album’s 13 songs present a unique sound torn between punk rock’s usual brittle drums, guitars and snotty vox, and more caustically textured industrial electronics that prang and snag on his strange combo. In a sense he sounds more European punk than American, with the greater focus on melody and machismo, so it’s maybe understandable that he ended up going that way.
From the enervated synth-punk dirge of ‘Loneliness’ with its topical lyrics about Ronald Reagan, to his cover of Robert Ashley’s ‘The Visitor’ starring Tuxedmoon co-founder Steven Brown, the album is a starkly gripping affair, swaggering its skinny bones between slack punk-funk in ‘High Why’ to prototypical stoner sludge in the slack-stringed grind of ‘Hospital’, with grizzled amp worship in the eerie sihourtte of ‘The Shroud’ and sleazy diamond in ‘The Hex of Sex’ and ‘I Don’t Resist’, the latter of which surely recalls another San Fran unit, German Shepherds from the same era.
To extend its rotten pleasures, there’s also a handful of rare 7” tracks at the end, including the almost death rock-esque ‘Two Little Skeletons’ and skewed industrial-country of ‘Tired Death’, janglign in proximity to San Fran’s Industrial ambassador Monte Cazazza, although the real nugget is ’Shower Sequence’, a no wave-freeform 8 minutes of droll incantations of “I Wouldn’t Hurt a Fly” set to wickedly distended industrial drones, digeridoo, and sheet noise.
Restless genius Arca pulls in Garbage’s Shirley Manson, No Bra, Planningtorock, and Oliver Coates for the 4th - and notably more introspective - volume of her ‘Kick’ album bounty.
After expending her wilder energies in searing variations of dembow experimentalism and operatic composition in previous instalments, Arca here looks inward to complete the current album cycle with a quieter take on her sweetly curdled tunings and expressively queered sort of songwriting. The 11 songs feel more contained and finely mark the distance traveled since the first volume emerged in 2020, mostly shorn of beats but full of bittersweet emotion that oozes from her puckered, balladeering arrangements and painterly flourishes of extended melody.
Self-described as “an entry of sensual charge in the cycle; my own faith made into song, a posthuman celestial sparkle, psychosexual pulse-width modulation, queering the void” the album is the patently the most intimate in her decade-long, phase-shifting catalogue. ‘Whoresong’ opens with stripped back soundcraft, all warbling keys and signature, peculiar vocals spotlit like an alien crooner in the corner of smoky gay bar in a sci-fi, while there’s an almost seasonal glow to her chamber styled meld of choral cadence gilded with horns and strings aided by Oliver Coates on ‘Esuna’, prepping for the grand arrival of Planningtorock in ‘Queer’, one of the album’s few beat-driven bits, which they describe as “a queer dream come true”.
Susanne Oberbeck ov No Bra (the legendary project that once feat. sweetie pie Dale Cornish) proves a perfectly droll election to the shivering torchsong ‘Witch’, where the album takes on a brooding avant-grungy tone with percy ‘Boquifloja’, and Shirley Manson gives us a strong dose of ‘90s feels in ‘Alien Inside’ calling to mind aspects of Cindytalk, and we’re also find ourselves drawn heavily to the piloerect burn of trance licks and detuned, minor key Reese bass in ‘Lost Woman Found’.
Adrian Sherwood’s On U Sound compilation series rolls out an 8th set of archival, new, and alternate cuts by the likes of Lee “Scratch” Perry, Horace Andy, Tackhead, LSK, African Head Charge, Hebden’s Hifi and more
Perhaps best regarded as one for the label heads and longtime followers, it’s a set of sturdy frolics in the classic On U Sound style. It spans moody Bristolian trip hop by Denise Sherwood thru to the merry sway of ‘Many Names of God’ by Lee “Scratch” Perry, reggae rock by Tackhead, the scoop-testing bass that underlies Horace Andy on ‘Watch Over Them’, and a murkier update from Sherwood & Pinch on ‘We No Normal (Anger Management)’ for the nippers, with grizzled dub punk witterings by Andy Fairley.