Longtime friends and collaborators Thomas Bartlett and Nico Muhly explore Balinese Ceremonial Music featuring nine songs written by the duo plus three gamelan transcriptions by ethnomusicologist Colin McPhee that inspired the songs.
"Thomas Bartlett, also known as Doveman, is an American pianist, singer, and producer. He has worked with many Nonesuch artists – including Sam Amidon, David Byrne, the Magnetic Fields, Mandy Patinkin, and Chris Thile – as well as Sufjan Stevens, Glen Hansard, The National, St. Vincent, Father John Misty, The Gloaming, Martha Wainwright, and others. Born in Vermont, Bartlett studied piano in London with Maria Curcio. As teenagers, he and Amidon formed the folk music band Popcorn Behavior (aka Assembly) and released three albums. Upon moving to New York, Bartlett began performing with Chocolate Genius and Elysian Fields. The first Doveman record, The Acrobat, was produced by Patrick Dillett, as was 2007’s With My Left Hand I Raise the Dead. In 2008 Bartlett released a solo re-imagining of the Footloose soundtrack. The Conformist (2009), again produced by Dillett, featured members of The National, as well as backing vocals by Hansard, Wainwright, Norah Jones, Beth Orton, and Dawn Landes.
Nico Muhly is an American composer and collaborator whose influences range from American minimalism to the Anglican choral tradition. The recipient of commissions from The Metropolitan Opera, Carnegie Hall, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and others, he has written more than eighty works for the concert stage. Muhly is a frequent collaborator with choreographer Benjamin Millepied and, as an arranger, has paired with Joanna Newsom, Antony and the Johnsons, Sufjan Stevens, and The National. He has composed for stage and screen, with credits that include music for The Glass Menagerie and scores for the films Kill Your Darlings; Me, Earl And The Dying Girl; and The Reader. Born in Vermont, Muhly studied composition with John Corigliano and Christopher Rouse at The Juilliard School before working as an editor and conductor for Philip Glass. Muhly’s previous Nonesuch recordings are the Metropolitan Opera’s recording of his Two Boys and his collaboration with Teitur, Confessions. He lives in New York."
When Ruff Draft saw its initial release in 2003, J Dilla possessed production skills on par with anyone in hip-hop – technically and creatively. “At the top of his game,” says longtime friend and collaborator, Karriem Riggins.
"After years of building while modestly deferring to others of both greater and lesser notoriety, Dilla finally completed the first solo endeavor on his own label, entirely on his own terms. Prior to recording the EP, Dilla found himself at a crossroads. Estranged from his label, MCA, and separated from the mother of his youngest daughter, frustration abounded both personally and professionally. Dilla spent parts of 2002 and 2003 working on an album for MCA that featured his rapping over contributions from other producers with whom he had connected and whose music he respected. At the time, he was known primarily for his beats, yet reviled for his MCing by most anyone not from his hometown of Detroit.
The project was to be an intentional freak of the industry. The project would go on to spur his collaborative album with Madlib, Jaylib, and would first showcase the template that he would take to his greatest heights with 2006’s Donuts. The Stones Throw reissue of Ruff Draft from 2008 featured remixes of the songs from the album, done without Dilla’s involvement. This version of the album takes Dilla’s recently discovered mixes of the album and restores his vision for the project. “Straight from the mothafuckin’ cassette,” as he phrased the sound he was going for on the EP’s intro. The CD issue is buttressed by unreleased tracks and includes the music from the EP as it was originally released, the alternate version that Dilla had for the project and complete instrumentals. Author Ronnie Reese expands upon his original liner notes to further tell Dilla’s story, in a booklet complete with never before published photographs from the Ruff Draft photo session.
This CD issue features first Dilla’s original sequence of the EP and then presents Dilla’s alternate sequence, with tracks unreleased in 2003, as well as instrumentals. Author Ronnie Reese expansively details Dilla’s trajectory at this crucial point in his career, in a booklet complete with never before published photographs from the Ruff Draft photo session. Ruff Draft, like The Diary, sees release on the Pay Jay, the official imprint of the Estate of James Yancey, founded on behalf of Maureen “Ma Dukes” Yancey, John “Illa J” Yancey, Monica and Ty-monae Whitlow, Joylette Hunter and Ja’mya Yancey. The producer’s own mixes – recently rediscovered of his seminal EP, presented in the original issued and alternate sequence."
Paul de Jong – innovative composer and cofounder of beloved collage-pop eccentrics, the Books - returns with new album, You Fucken Sucker, an uncompromising statement; an uncanny (and sometimes uncomfortable) reflection of our collective mental excess.
"Presented in the exact sequence in which it was conceived, You Fucken Sucker charts a route of personal tragedy and emotional fatigue, and the loss and eventual retrieval of the illusion of control. Over the course of its 14 tracks – which range in length from 15 seconds to nearly 10 minutes – we hear complex tapestries of acoustic and electronic instrumentation submitting to waves of unhinged screaming; found-sound assemblage seamlessly incorporating subtle R&B rhythms; Freudian funk; lo-fi prog-metal; and vast synth patch orchestration adding unexpected textures and tension to the whole spectacular mess.
Like much of Paul de Jong's work, You Fucken Sucker is a genre unto itself, overflowing with innovative exploration of sounds and senses. Unlike his previous work, it is an unvarnished exposition of his anger, frustration, misery and confusion. Perhaps most vitally, it is an opportunity for the rest of us to experience the kind of communal emotional purge more typical of pre-Internet basement punk rock shows, to bask in the rarified air of being unafraid of being afraid.”
‘Bodysong’ is an album by Radiohead member Jonny Greenwood as well as a soundtrack to a film of the same name.
"On the album, Greenwood fuses elements of jazz, electronic, classical and experimental music. he soundtrack was originally released in 2003. Now remastered by Christian Wright."
An ethereal and meditative soundtrack album from pianist and composer Rachel Grimes (Rachel's, King's Daughters & Sons)
"The Doctor from India features piano, violin, harp, saxophone, and strings interspersed with ambient sound design. Created for a new documentary film by Jeremy Frindel, this score provides a thematically unified sound scape to support the inspiring story of Dr. Vasant Lad, a holistic health pioneer whose approach centers around the ancient practice of Ayurveda."
Sublime, spiralling Harp and FX works from Mary Lattimore, collecting her first solo LP proper with Ghostly International, following a string of tapes, collaborations, and collections of older material issued since 2012. Ranging from the Enya-esque to West Coast new age flights of fancy and cinematic gestures flooded in unfalteringly positive light, ‘Hundreds of Day’ is one that some listeners will fall head over heels for
“"It was the most beautiful summer of my life." Memories — places, vacancies, allusions — are fundamental characters in Mary Lattimore's evocative craft. Inside her music, wordless narratives, indefinite travelogues, and braided events skew into something enchantingly new. The Los Angeles-based harpist recorded her breakout 2016 album, At The Dam, during stops along a road trip across America, letting the serene landscapes of Joshua Tree and Marfa, Texas color her compositions. In 2017, she presented Collected Pieces, a tape compiling sounds from her past life in Philadelphia: odes to the east coast, burning motels, and beach town convenience stores. In 2018, from a restorative station — a redwood barn, nestled in the hills above San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge — emanates Hundreds of Days, her second full-length LP with Ghostly International. The record sojourns between silences and speech, between microcosmic daily scenes and macrocosmic universal understandings, between being alien in promising new places and feeling torn from old native havens. It's an expansive new chapter in Lattimore's story, and an expression of mystified gratitude. A study in how ordinary components helix together to create an extraordinary world.
Lattimore's voice sweeps beneath the plucks and washes of opener “It Feels Like Floating,” enraptured by the winding current, and reappearing in the second minute of the immense "Never Saw Him Again." The track elevates towards a shimmering apex of static and percussion before organ drone yields to signature halcyon flutters. As with much of Lattimore's work, the track titles are telling; "Baltic Birch" is a somber windswept march that sways gracefully out of step, a remembrance of a recent trip to Latvia where she was struck by the abandoned resort towns along the Baltic Sea. “Hello From The Edge of The Earth” is an earnest reflection of Lattimore’s love of the natural world, recognizing the thresholds of varying terrains.
The album's fifth track borrows its name from Lattimore’s favorite line in Denis Johnson’s short story “Emergency” from Jesus’ Son. A character, lost in a blizzard, reassesses a disjointed universe, a clash between curtains of snow and angels descending out of a brilliant blue summer: it isn’t an apocalypse, it is a drive-in movie, with stars hovering above the lot, off the screen, in the throes of the Midwestern storm. This mix-up is disorienting and existentially tragic; Lattimore's darkly strummed piece is a melancholic parallel, mimicking Johnson’s elegant suture attaching two remarkably discontinuous spaces.
Micro-revelations, not quite as bright as torn skies but nonetheless enlightening, were everyday occurrences during Lattimore's residency. Living small days with small tasks — feeling little dramas within the arcadian universe of a national park — rendered her the sense that disjointed spaces can be interconnected no matter the enormity that divides them. It's in this elastic scale of perception that something as simultaneously simple and intricate as Hundreds of Days can flourish.”
Cult industrial concerns, Bernd Kastner & Siegfried Michail Syniuga a.k.a. Strafe Für Rebellion, unveil their first new material since 2013 with The Bird Is Stolen, written and recorded at STRAFE Studio, Düsseldorf, Germany for their longterm supporters at Touch.
Joined by vocals from Caterina De Re, Strafe F.R. sustain their pursuit of the unheimlich and phantasmagoric into their 4th decade of operations, and still with the timelessly primordial, experimental vitality of their early work; which is maybe best described as if Chris Watson made music with Laszlo Hortobagyi and Xao Seffcheque while he was in flux between field recordings and playing in Cabaret Voltaire.
In classic but completely up-to-date fashion, the soundd of The Bird Was Stolen is remarkably striking, full of unique resonances, acousmata and complex timbres that keep ear highly entertained and trained across their sound field of Ddisembodied, centre-less, and uneasy dynamics. Thus its fair to hear Strafe F.R.’s sound as in essence a form of industrial dub music that shares as much in common with contemporaneous avatars NWW and Dome as aspects of Jay Glass Dubs or even Raime in the modern sphere.
References aside, though, The Bird Was Stolen firmly holds it own, working on such a level of tough-edged psychedelic abstraction and crisp clangour that shows their experience in spades and proves they were never some half-arsed dilettantes, but the real, cranky thing who can’t help but best express themselves this way. Basically this is one industrial revival that’s worth checking out. Shame we couldn’t say that more often.
Superb selections and sequencing from Forest Swords on his DJ-Kicks instalment
Cutting across the board from The London Bulgarian Choir’s Pilentsee Pee (as referenced in the Ghost In The Shell OST), thru Rhythm & Sound’s Best Friend evergreen; rude post punk from Anna Domino and Neneh Cherry; skulking D&B by FIS & Tokyo Prose; goth steppers from Dead Can Dance; a elusive beauty by Kara-Lis Coverdale; spidery jazz techno rhythms from Laurel Halo, Rupert Clervaux & Beatrice Dillon; and esoteric charms by Demdike Stare, Orbital, David Toop and Baka Forest People of Southeast Cameroon.
Gently textured and crackling ambient pop embers and cinematic downbeats from Rauelsson for Berlin’s Sonic Pieces. Following the intimate but epic Vora from 2013, his second full-length album for Sonic Pieces continues the lush landscapes of earlier times while moving his sound into a feast of organic beats and textural dynamism.
"Among the novel elements there's a great sense of joy and upbeat moments scattered throughout the album, mirroring its melancholic base. This combination feels very natural and merges perfectly with the overall majestic sound. Raúl also blends an impressive array of instruments and genres while still reflecting his personal and somewhat secretive presence. The producer lives on the Spanish coast in a rather detached way from any online presence, focusing on family life and the real sense of humanity. This feeling vibrates through the sound of Mirall making for a very emotional venture.
Expect to hear organs, synths, tape-loops, clarinet, strings, piano and percussion, just to name a few key sounds present on this record, all compiled and produced with a passionate taste for acoustic experimentation. This sense of sonic open-mindedness was skillfully amplified by Nils Frahm's studio work, who mixed and mastered Mirall. The album finishes off with a surprising unaccompanied lullaby, interpreted by Heather Woods Broderick. Rauelsson delivers another timeless album we already can't wait to re-visit again and again."
Groenland unearth and reissue DAF's 2nd album 'Die Kleinen und die Bösen'.
It predates 'Der Mussolini' by over a year and is actually much more diverse and fruity than much of their later work, yet still adheres to the stringently minimal aesthetics which have always been a prime component in the DAF machine. It was recorded at Conny Plank's legendary studio and hence still sounds amazing...
Wolfgang Voigt commits one of GAS's most darkly sublime albums with 'Rausch', which arrives nearly one year on from Narkopop to remind us his position as the prince of ambient techno.
Meant to be listened to from end to end without interruption, but also included as seven discrete parts for those who need them, Rausch unfurls in diaphanous form along a depressed heartbeat march of padded kicks swept with distant horns and string swells in the faithful, time-honoured style of Wolfgang Voigt's finest recordings.
The difference lies in the feeling conjured by these swollen crests of abstracted instrumental textures and timbre. Rather than dreaminess or tranquilised melancholy, this one feels portent, impendingly stygian, as though summing up humankind’s incessant trudge toward a bleak unknown horizon, resulting in the emergence of sounds more akin to Sunn 0))), with his entrenched kicks struggling to break the gloom, and poetically losing out in the end.
Will long returns with a second volume of 'Long Trax' following that incredible first run alongside DJ Sprinkles.
Following his sterling run of raw, politically-charged deep house releases for DJ Sprinkles’ Comatonse, Will Long (Celer) pairs samples of Afro-American figureheads with sublime, rolling grooves in a beautiful extension of the Long Trax series.
Nothing’s Changed features sparingly used snippets of Barack Obama on a lean, simple, and deliciously smooth 11 minute groove gilded with signature chord cadence, while B-side he treats Jean-Michel Basquiat to a swim in deepest house water on the hazy 10 minute movement.
Also featured is a sensitively raw and low key spin on the style with gauzy samples of Angela Davis laced into the 12 minutes of keening float in The Struggles, The Difficulties and Richard Pryor and leading Black Panther Ericka Huggins in two more signature, raw, extended deep house grooves.
The Works of John B. McLemore, the star of one of last years biggest podcasts, S-Town, which is coming out on Dais. The story behind this release is truly fascinating.. the music itself is ambient remixes of Tor Lundvall's best works, but with John's idiosyncratic slant on them, with some having been woven together using the horde of clocks he use to keep in his basement. This story is really worth a read if you get a chance.
"In September 2012, I received an e-mail from someone named John B. who said he had assembled a lengthy remix of my music, which also incorporated some of his own material. John asked if I'd mind if he posted this recording on YouTube, to which I agreed. He also mentioned that there was a second part to his mix that was "roughed out", but never completed. I was curious to hear both parts, so shortly afterwards, John mailed me two CDrs which I enjoyed very much. The recordings were hypnotic and haunting, evoking images of vast fields at twilight. I was especially fond of the second disc which had a darker atmosphere and featured more of John's original material, beginning with ghostly clock chimes and ending with a mysterious piece using dried seed pods and other cryptic sounds that slowly built-up into an intense, almost claustrophobic environment.
My correspondence with John lasted about two months. In one of his final e-mails, John said "I have to observe that your paintings seem to have a great deal of loneliness involved in them... even multiple characters seem to be together alone, so to speak... I really appreciate looking at your paintings as well as your music, I think I have connected with the spirit of them both as much as anyone can." He went on to discuss his struggles with depression, caring for his aging mom and his concerns about the future. I tried to encourage his music as a possible outlet, perhaps as a means to help transform his feelings of loneliness into a more content solitude. Always easy to say, but as I well know, not always easy to do.
In his last e-mail in late October 2012, John sent me a beautiful slideshow of his Fall flower beds and his dogs. I was touched and I told him how much watching his video had brightened my day. That was the last time I heard from him.
Last year, I visited John's YouTube channel to see if Part One of his mix was still posted, which it was, and still remains. I was shocked and saddened to read in the comments section that he had passed away. The comments also suggested that John had received some sort of national attention recently. This quickly led me to the S-Town podcast. Although I had mixed reactions after listening, I was thankful that S-Town shed more light on John and his remarkable life... but somehow, I just couldn't place the person in the podcast with the person I had corresponded with. Had I not listened to S-Town, I would have remembered John as a very private, somewhat dark and lonely person. He may have been these things, but there was obviously far more to him than that.
After finishing the final episode, I decided to play the second, unreleased CDr of John's recordings for the first time in years. Listening to his clock chimes ringing in the dark was an eerie and chilling moment. I was reminded of a line from my song "29" which says "I live with dreams and a lonely mind, my clock is set to a different time". I wondered what those lyrics might have meant to him.
John had mentioned that he wasn't satisfied with his final mix, but I felt his work was too special not to be heard. I hope that these recordings offer another glimpse into the creative mind of a unique, complex and gifted individual who tragically left this world all too early."
January 17th, 2018
Phil Maggi is a composer, a vocalist and a film maker from Belgium. Known as the lead singer of heavy-rock combo Ultraphallus, Phil Maggi has developed an extensive body of work as a solo musician for several years.
"This new album Animalwrath is a combination of his different forms of music, from ambient-drone, electro-acoustic, sampling and field recordings to free-jazz. Phil Maggi has invited a few generous collaborators (Oren Bloedow, Maja Jantar, Radwan Ghazi Moumneh, Tom Malmendier, Gabriel Séverin and Ludovic Medery) on these eight tracks inspired by Henry Corbin's writings, Nico, Scott Walker and Traditional music."
The 88- minute, double CD was recorded in San Francisco hotels and studios between May 2017 and January 2018.
"Some of the songs were recorded in Europe during that time, and some were recorded in December of 2017 in San Francisco. Mark recently contributed music to the James Franco directed movie The Pretenders, to be released this summer, and also acted in the independent film Passing Through, written and directed by Jason Massot. Passing Through was shot in Butte, Montana, February of 2016."
Digitally re-mastered featuring Sonic Boom and Jason Pierce. The original appearance of Taking Drugs was in fact a bootleg on the semi-legendary/semi-notorious Father Yod imprint in 1990, later supplemented with contemporary outtakes and cuts for the Bomp reissue in 1994 and one further song for the Space Age version in 2000.
"The original seven tracks, dated January 1986 and the first recordings to feature Pete Bain on bass, are collectively known as the Northampton Demos.
Both Sonic and Pierce have been on record as long preferring these takes to the eventual versions that surfaced for the most part on Sound of Confusion.
Certainly it's a fine set of performances, showing a definite step toward the more familiar sound of the group and away from the rougher takes on For All the Fucked Up Children of the World.
"The Sound of Confusion," aka "Walkin' With Jesus," rips along with fierce energy, Pierce's singing and the rampaging, primitive wail and rumble of the band just wonderful.
"Losing Touch With My Mind" takes things to an even higher level, a huge wallop of feedback and beat (Natty Brooker's drumming in particular delivers just what the doctor ordered), Pierce delivering the lines with a flat, cutting drawl.
On the slightly lighter tip, "Come Down Easy" is more or less fully in place (aside from singing about it being 1986!), possessing a more upfront but less vocally distinct feel than the Perfect Prescription take.
The tracks that surfaced on the later reissues come from a variety of different sessions, including the original take on "Feel So Good" and a good live version of "Things'll Never Be the Same," one of several cuts featuring Brooker's drumming replacement Rosco."
Singular Swiss-Nepalese-Tibetan artist Aïsha Devi emotes DNA Feelings on the 2nd album for Rob Booth’s Houndstooth.
Coming into her own in a similar way to how Arca and Lotic did on their respective solo opuses, Aïsha’s holistic approach incorporating meditation techniques, metaphysical research and ritual practice, results in a hyper-natural helix of ideas binding avant-pop nous into almost theatric backdrops where her ideas play out in transfixing, abstract form.
Aïsha moves freely between her myriad voices - from seraphic anguish to helium rave diva, thru Tibetan throat singing and autotuned R&B vamps - in a richly embroidered soundscape of sawn-off rave stabs, field recordings and weightless sensations synthesised to suggest the infinite metaphysics and feel of a place out of time and space.
In the process she metaphorically externalises the internal and eternal across an archipelago of ante-chambers leading deeper into her sonic ontology, from the rush of raved emotions in DNA ☤ ∞, to the starkly statuesque Dislocation of Alpha, melting out into diaphanous cosmic dimensions on Aetherave before the bass of Hyperlands pulls her back to earth and the primal chaos of Inner State of Alchemy, before Light Luxury veers between hardstyle and traditional instrumentals, leading to the premonitory ambient projection of Cell Stems Spa.
Shorelights is a collaborative ambient techno project feat. Rod Modell (Deepchord, Echospace, Waveform Transmission, Transformations), and Walter Wasacz and Christopher McNamara of the Detroit-based audio visual collective nospectacle.
"Ancient Lights expands the vision and the range of the Shorelights aesthetic, heading into deeper territories of inner and outer space. It's ambient for body and spirit, sound designed to make the human heart dance."
Stephen O’Malley serves Ragnar Johnson’s transcendent recordings of sacred flute ceremonies in New Guinea on his amazing Ideologic Organ label. Johnson’s Sacred Flute Music From New Guinea: Madang / Windim Mabu album was previously reissued on Ideologic organ in 2016, and was recently sampled on Björk’s Utopia album. This collection, featuring an array of mostly unaccompanied flute recordings, is equally spellbinding and worthy of your close attention.
“Crying Bamboos is a translation of the pidgin description of the sound of sacred flutes: “Mambu i cry, i cry, i cry”.
Sacred flutes are blown to make the cries of spirits by adult men in the Madang region of Papua New Guinea. Pairs of long bamboo male and female flutes are played for ceremonies in the coastal villages near the Ramu River. There are seven male initiation flute cries from Bosmun, four flute cries from Bak: Borai with occasional single garamut percussion and two flute cries from Kaean, one with vocals and hand drums. The flute players were of the last generation to have learned this skill during a complete cycle of male initiation. These previously unreleased recordings were made in 1979.”
A totally enchanting performance by the esteemed acoustic finger-picker and singer, recorded in the 18th century Palazzo Gaddi, central northern Italy, and now made available on any format for the first time. Also, that sleeve....!
“Mario Calvitti's rememberance of the Forlì Concert: The year before (1981) I had met Maurizio Angeletti, an Italian acoustic fingerstyle guitar player, when he was on tour in Italy with John Fahey. We exchanged contacts, and one year later he called me saying that he was managing an Italian tour with Robbie, asking whether I could find a booking in my area.
A friend of mine named Giovanni Picone was involved in a municipality activity about music, so through him I managed to get things organized, including some funding from the municipality. The name of my hometown is Forli', in the north-centre part of Italy (south of Bologna, north of Rimini, two towns that are better known). I was 25 at that time, and a few months later I would move to Rome to start working. The date of the concert was October 11, after they played in Brescia (which is up north) on the 10th and traveling with Maurizio's car all the way south to Rome where they played the Folkstudio on the 12-13. The setlist was much similar to others from the same period, adding versions of 'California Raga' and 'Song of the Stallion'. The concert was held in Sala Gaddi, a room of an 18th century building (Palazzo Gaddi) that was home to the local music high school until 1989 and was used for mostly classical concerts. Nowadays the building is home to a couple of historical museums. Robbie liked the place, I remember him saying once between songs "this is one lovely little room where I could play all night."
Maurizio Angeletti opened the concert with a selection of his own pieces, Takoma style, mainly on 12 string guitar. He had two albums out on small italian indie labels, and a third one would have followed shortly. Sadly, none of them have been digitally reissued, but the original vinyl can be found from some online vendor. Two or three years later he would quit music completely, to move abroad and become a professional kite-maker. That night he played with a sore finger, swollen and aching, and in between pieces he talked about his recent passion forkites, still not imagining that it would become such a big part in his forthcoming life.
After Maurizio, Robbie played his set. The music was wonderful, hearing him play live such masterpieces as 'Grail and the Lotus' and Cathedrals et Fleur de Lis' was one of the best experiences I had in my life. He introduced the pieces speaking some Italian. My friend Giovanni taped both performances, and later made me a copy. he can also be heard tinkling the small bell at the end of 'Grail & the Lotus', at Robbie's request. I was particularly surprised by the attendance: I didn't expect many people to show up (he was quite unknown at that time, and very little advertisement had been done, mainly distributing leaflets). Still, at the end of the evening 110 tickets had been sold. Not bad for a small town of about 100,000 inhabitants: I've heard that the following nights in Rome at the Folkstudio (that was a famous concert venue, though small) the audience was no more than 70 people. Also, in Forli' the audience was very attentive and responsive, just like in a classical concert, and I think Robbie also liked to be considered as a classical performer (just my guess).
He wore the same shirt that is in the cover picture of 'Art Of The Acoustic Steel String Guitar 6 & 12'...he had some of his LPs for sale (I bought my copy of 'Rainbow Thunder' on that occasion). My biggest regret, I was so overwhelmed by emotion that I couldn't talk to him at all...I just had it sign my copy of the book "American Guitarists" by Maurizio Angeletti, on the first page of his chapter, with his name preceded by the word "Saluti" (Greetings in Italian).”
“Singularity marks the fifth album from the UK electronic producer and composer and the follow up to 2013’s Mercury Prize nominated Immunity.
Where Immunity charted the dark alternative reality of an epic night out, Singularity explores the dissonance between dystopian urbanity and the green forest. It is a journey that returns to where it began – from the opening note of foreboding to the final sound of acceptance. Shaped by his experiences with meditation and trance states, the album flows seamlessly from rugged techno to transcendent choral music, from solo acoustic piano to psychedelic ambient”
No collaboration is unlikely when the end goals are the same. A meeting of two artists who illustrate different corners of the musical landscape, come together to create a new statement that takes their collective strengths to higher elevations and encompasses new terrains.
"So it is on the first collaborative journey of Canadian musicians Venetian Snares and Daniel Lanois. What started as mutual respect for one another’s work, led to several years of a creative germination resulting in an eight-track full-length exploration. The path began in 2014, after Lanois reached out to Venetian Snares (Aaron Funk) as a fan of his work. The project started to take root in Summer of 2016, after Funk hung around Toronto between shows. Taking his gear to Lanois’ studio, the two began to play for the first time together in what would prove to be a formative moment in their creative journey together. “I love making music with Dan, he has a real understanding of how to create a world and build what may exist within that world. Bassdrums are trombones and they are a colossal whale which floats on clouds of leaves speaking to the blast furnace feeding the mammoth.
A small painting of forest horses hangs in the cranium of the sea horse.” – Aaron Funk Recorded live in a former Buddhist temple-turned-studio in Toronto, 'Venetian Snares x Daniel Lanois' travels to new zones in what Lanois describes as “a body of work driven by exploration”. Like all the best collaborations, it's brought something new out of both musicians. Equipped with their production acuity, they let their natural workflow guide them through uncharted waters. Funk laid the groundwork with drums while Lanois rode the pedal steel, weaving their sounds together in a new sonic tapestry."
The aptly named "Perfectly Unhappy" features eight new songs written with this collaboration in mind. These are enchanting and lyrical tunes, often melancholic and uplifting at the same time and will surely speak to followers of both the trio and Sheppard and attract many new ones.
"I knew from the first time I heard the trio play that I would fit right in. I loved the melodic sense and vibe and was thrilled when I was invited to guest with the trio in London in 2016. Since then we've had a chance to grow the music with tours in Korea and Norway, before Espen wrote a set of fantastic tunes for the recording session in Oslo. They played themselves and we had a ball recording, everything clicked and in two days we had made a very special album". Andy Sheppard Espen Eriksen Trio was formed in 2007 and released their first album in 2010.
4Since then they have released two more records on Rune Grammofon, and toured in 16 countries across four continents. The music relies on highly melodic and lyrical instrumentals and a “less is more” approach and is often credited for its unique voice within today’s jazz scene by the international press. To quote BBC in their review of the trio’s second album; “A wonderfully plaintive jazz record, abandoned to the lost art of melodic minimalism, stripped back and beautifully near bare. No smoke and mirrors, just the graceful chemistry of superb musicians at the top of their game”
With a career spanning over four decades, working together with the likes of George Russell and Gil Evans, Andy Sheppard is truly one of Europe’s leading saxophonists. Lately, his main focus has been with his own quartet and the trio with living legends Carla Bley and Steve Swallow, both acts recording for ECM. Eriksen´s background is ranging from jazz to pop music and the church organ, while Jenset lived and worked as a musician in Copenhagen for seven years before relocating to Norway. Andreas Bye is one of Norway´s most requested drummers in jazz and pop."
DJ Koze fully stretches out Knock Knock, a 16-song set of soul-fuelled hip hop downbeats, disco chops and swinging tech-house workouts featuring guest spots from Speech ov Arrested Development, José Gonzalez, Mano Le Tough, Sophia Kennedy, and more.
Working to a smart, sun-kissed, optimistic agenda that’s been at the heart of Koze’s charms since the end of the ‘90s, Knock Knock will likely work a treat for anyone with their head still in that era.
From the guest spots by golden era hip hop MC, Speech from Arrested Development, to the turn by José Gonzales, and two numbers featuring Róisín Murphy, it’s almost inarguably a sound for those that miss the heyday of cheap credit, semi-guilt free smoking, and bootcut jeans. In that sense, it’s a nice escape from reality...
The surrealist ambient/avant-pop experiments of Anticlines form the most significant solo release to date by Lucretia Dalt. It follows her releases with Human Ear Music, Care Of Editions and Other People - all dispatched prior to 2015 - with her finest, poetic study on the relationships between time-based arts, a.k.a music, and the time scales of geology.
Thanks to the inclusion of her own vocals and a tendency towards simple, melodic leitmotifs, and despite its heavy conceptual roots, the results find a fine line between experimental savouriness and pop sweetness, knitting Latin rhythms with her poetic gestures in the first side, before the 2nd side cannily finds those ideas fragmented, stratified into finer graded layers.
"Anticlines is a volume of poetic theory and sound contemplating the bodies of self above and beneath the earth’s surface. On Anticlines, Dalt conjures a sonic space of speculative synthesis and spoken word where South American rhythms rattle contemporary composition recalling Laurie Anderson, Robert Ashley, and Annea Lockwood. A portion of the proceeds from your purchase will be charitably designated on behalf of Lucrecia Dalt to Tierra Digna, an organization dedicated to the defense of Colombian communities affected by economic policies that violate human rights and devastate the environment. tierradigna.org. Come! Mend!"
On this newly released work Jakob Ullmann combines his appreciation of Cageian principles with sacred composition in utterly riveting ways, resulting in two of the most extreme and uncompromising examples of his “quiet music” - that is, a music which is composed and realised to be played just above the volume of each listener’s ambient background.
And in case you’re not aware of what we mean by “extreme”, we’re talking seriously quiet - bordering on silent - instrumental gestures; the kind of creaks and klangs that, on the most glib level, recall a “ghost” in your house at midnight, while on a more serious, theological level, are intended to heighten the listener’s sense of the unknown, the metaphysical, the spiritual: the sacred.
In both works the ‘hallmarks’ of Jakob Ullmann’s intently defined yet unfathomably open style of composition come to light. On Müntzers stern, a pre-recorded performance of a hymnal text written by the German theologian is played back at barely perceptible volume into the same space where Dafne Vicente-Sandoval translates the graphic score for bassoon. The result is a totally sparse yet breathtakingly pensive piece where it’s beautifully uncertain what we’re hearing - is that the chance sound of a distant plane or Dafne’s bassoon? Are those voices in your head, outside the window, or on the recording? Either way, the barely-there but complex results are genuinely ambiguous, forming a total breakdown of conventions that leave the listener with far more questions than they answer.
On solo II, part of a group of works relating to the notion of disappearing musics completed in 1992 following Ullmann’s conversations with John Cage, the effect of Dafne’s bassoon, recorded in Kartäuserkirche (Bürgerliches Waisenhaus) is even more extreme. Holistically taking into account everything from the thermal fluctuation of the space and the way it affects Dafne’s reed, to its unique acoustic imprint, and by turns what lies outside its walls, the piece directly builds on Ullmann’s dialogue with Cage, and induces us into a sort of lucid dream state where time dissolves, outside becomes inside, and we feel physically sublimated into the piece and its projected timbral architecture.
As Ullmann’s music has come to light beyond the most rarified classical corridors over the last decade (with thanks to its champions such as Stephen O’Malley and Bill Kouligas, among others), the composer’s radical approach and uncompromising beliefs have given us some of the most memorable and perception-altering musical experiences imaginable. We can surely add these two new Ullmann works to that set of life-affirming and quietly challenging experiences.
Deadbeat does dub poetry alongside Gudrun Gut, Thomas Fehlmann and Mike Shannon, with results ripe for fans of the Jay Glass Dubs & Leslie Winer LP, or downbeat moments from Strategy, Andreas Tilliander or The Bug
“On his latest studio album, Scott Monteith, aka Deadbeat, ruminates with hard-earned wisdom and confidence upon the notion of carrying on in the face of worldwide nonsense. Wax Poetic For This Our Great Resolve began with the simple idea of asking friends from across the globe for messages of hope. No musical input was provided beforehand, and each participant was free to interpret the request as they saw fit. Though some of the names involved will be familiar to electronic music listeners (Gudrun Gut, Thomas Fehlmann, Mike Shannon), the common thread linking all of them is their friendship with Monteith and the many hours he has spent enjoying their company over the years. As so often happens when good conversation is shared among good friends, the results are as surprising as they are inspiring, spanning original prose, dialectic word games, and timeless quotations in six languages. Each song on the album was then composed around the content received, and named after the people who did the speaking.
Ranging from the overtly political to the tenderly inspirational and many points in between, Wax Poetic For This Our Great Resolve provides verbal expressions of hope as diverse and rich as the experiences of the people who so generously delivered them. Musically the album sees Monteith taking his well-honed sound design abilities and widescreen arrangements to new heights, and exploring a deep interest in traditional analog recording methods to mesmerizing effect. Every sound on the record, whether generated from his tried-and-tested array of software-based tools, or from the enormous collection of guitars, organs, pianos, and percussion instruments found in the Berlin-based studio he now calls home, was recorded via microphone. Even as the very first track slowly fades into existence, it's clear that the smoke filled atmosphere of the place has penetrated the recordings to their very core. Indeed, it is no understatement to suggest that without the physical confines of the magical studio Chez Cherie, and the countless late night conversations and musical contributions of all the other beautiful souls who occupy it (T. Raumschmiere, Ben Laubner, Tilman Hopf, PC Christensen, and of course Cherie herself), this latest Deadbeat album would have been an impossibility. Wax Poetic For This Our Great Resolve is a document of collective action, and the power of community.”
Strong survey of the current Italian crop, including highlights in Alessandro Adriani’s Drexciyan trip, the tentative ambient ephemera of Chevel, and the mercurial beauty of Catarina Barbieri
“Flowers from the Ashes is the latest multi-artist project to bear the acclaimed Stroposcopic Artefacts imprimatur. There is a sensibility of decadence and corroded grandeur etched within its four album sides, reminding us that historically "decadent" times have nonetheless resulted in some of the boldest acts of individual and collective creativity. Like the 'floral' theme that has remained a consistent feature of S.A.'s graphic presentation, the music here equally presents fragility and intensity in a way that really drives home this visual metaphor for good, while still holding out the promise that similar creations will be seeded in the near future, Though many of the artists involved have set of residence outside of their native Italy, all contribute here to make a captivating portrait of a shared spirit and cultural memory.
The album opens with “Errori,” deceptively fragile sonic ornaments crafted and suspended in space by Blackest Ever Black artist Silvia Kastel. This is followed closely by the mellifluous, warming glow of percussionist Andrea Belfi’s “Spitting & Skytouching,” and then by the resolute electric bass patterns and luminous fog of “Lux et Sonus,” from Eeri label head Marco Shuttle. Hospital Productions alumnus Ninos du Brasil open the B-side with a similarly dense, amorphous construction built from tribalistic chants and rhythmic patterns, to be followed by Mannequin label boss Alessandro Adriani’s “You Will Not Be There For The End,” showcasing his distinctive take on the ‘paranoiac breakdance’ aesthetic of classic EBM. S.A. veteran Chevel rounds out the first record in the program by interlacing several percolating synth lines together into a richly conversational piece.
The journey continues with “Starving The Mind,” an undulating mini-epic from S.A. founder Lucy that is animated by his signature balance of seductiveness and concentration. The bright, biting acid synth tones of “PRV-HH3-X”, by Lory D, then takes a sharp right turn into an invisible metropolis ruled by reflective high fashion and hidden intrigue. The imposing architecture of “Virgo Rebellion,” designed by modular synth futurist Caterina Barbieri, acts as an excellent companion piece, and sets up the closing “4G” from Spazio Disponibile co-founder Neel - a crepuscular serenade that accurately sums up much of the foregoing activity.”
Always working purely on their own instincts and co-ordinates, Gnod’s pathway into unchartered territory continues to move firmly on with nary a care for the sanity of anyone in their surroundings. Chapel Perilous is a still more indomitable chapter in a transcendental travelogue from an iconoclastic institution that only gathers momentum with the passing of time. Wherever Gnod go in 2018 and beyond, expect reality to be reinvented anew, whatever the consequences....
"Chapel Perilous exists whereby the supernatural converges with the everyday - whatever one’s definition of reality, this psychological realm serves to prove it endlessly subjective and changeable. Robert Anton Wilson may have laid claim to the modern use of this phrase - as in his 1977 tome ‘Cosmic Trigger’ - yet there can be few musical outfits in the here and now more worthy of carrying on its tradition than Gnod. In more than a decade on the planet this singular Salford-birthed entity have married intrepid musical exploration with psychic fearlessness - not to mention a tendency to leave any tag or bracket one attempts to place on them utterly redundant.
In a sense, the latest adventure bearing this title evolved both from the lengthy European tour that the band embarked upon in the wake of their stripped-down and paint-stripping 2017 opus Just Say No The Psycho Right-Wing Capitalist Fascist Industrial Death Machine. Yet recording in Supernova studio in Eindhoven under the auspices of Bob De Wit, the band found themselves free not only to lay down two tumultuous tracks that they had been honing and hammering into shape on the road - the pulverising fifteen-minute opener ‘Donovan’s Daughters’ and the bracingly brutal ‘Uncle Frank Says Turn It Down’ - but to sculpt more abstract material, utilising dubbed-out repetition, furious riff-driven rancour, bleak soundscapes and off-the-map experimentation to create an intimidating and invigorating tableau of dystopian dread and unflinching intensity.
Canada’s Tess Roby makes her long touted IDIB début, poised between dusky balearic romance and waking dream pop, with just a touch of folk-wise new age diva about her.
Quite remarkably for an IDIB releases, the hand of Johnny Jewel is unusually absent apart from some mixing treatment on Ballad 5. The rest of the record is written and produced by Toronto/Montreal’s Roby, whose measured vocals are the centrepiece of each cut, variously framed against languid Yacht boogie vibes in Given Signs, or most beautifully buoyed by creamy chromatic arps in Catalyst, and like Nico meets Tangerine Dream on the album’s exceptional parting missive, Borders.
"The Beacon crowns Ashurst Hill in Dalton, Lancashire, looming over the verdant English countryside nearly six hundred feet above sea level. This spartan brick monolith was erected in 1798 as a watch tower to warn of French invasion during the Napoleonic War — and there it silently remains, keeping infinite vigil. It stands in Tess Roby’s mind. The Beacon calls to her. “Throughout my life I have felt the pull to return to it,” she says. “I’m beckoned by father’s roots and by the sullen landscape of fields leading to the coast.”
Tess Roby is an artist with a vision. The Montreal-based photographer and musician, an eight-year veteran of the Canadian Children’s Opera Company, seems utterly original, moving with a restless energy toward the sublime. Her sound betrays an intrepid longing to discover and explore, to reject convention and transcend cliché: Roby is a born traveller, absorbing everything she hears and making it new. Ethereal and crystalline, bathed sumptuously in synths, her music is heady, dreamy, singular — a transmission from parts unknown. The classical training and aesthetic omnivorousness combine like worlds colliding.
Roby’s debut album Beacon was written in 2015, following the death of her father. She collaborated with her brother Eliot to create what they describe as a kind of spiritual homage — both to her father and to the Beacon, where the family travelled often. Roby recorded these songs with the drum machines and synthesizers she found in her father’s recording studio, and galvanized by his spirit she imbued the music with love, movement, whispers, memories, and pain. “All the while the Beacon remained effervescent in my mind,” Roby remembers. “Visions of it ablaze on the hilltop, standing motionless while I searched for understanding.”
Music For Installations’ is a collection of new, rare and previously unreleased music, all of which was recorded by Brian Eno for use in his installations covering the period from 1986 until the present (and beyond). Over this time, he has emerged as the leading exponent of “generative” music worldwide and is recognised as one of the foremost audio-visual installation artists of his time.
"Eno's recordings and other collaborations are endless and endlessly known, however his visual experiments with light and video covers an even longer span of time and have been exhibited all over the globe - from the Venice Biennale to the Marble Palace in St. Petersburg, from Beijing’s Ritan Park to the Sydney Opera House. Eno's installations are the fertile ground from which so much of his other work has grown and continue to parallel his musical career. Music For Installations is a collection of these original recordings from installations with new and unreleased work covering the period from 1986 until the present and beyond. 50% of the music contained in the box set has never been available in any format and the rest has only ever had very limited CD release direct to consumer release."
Boy Harsher’s début LP Yr Body Is Nothing is one of the strongest admissions to the recent wave of EBM and darkwave influenced synth-pop. This is a new edition pressing, following self-released version and a DKA Records release.
Revolving around cinema fiends Augustus Muller and Jae Matthews, Boy Harsher really came into their own on first album Yr Body Is Nothing , which paved the way for the Country Girl EP which landed to resounding cult acclaim on Ascetic House in 2017.
On Yr Body Is Nothing they work the barest essentials into slick (but not too slick) songs specially balanced with a classic mix of dancefloor pressure and emotive pathos, generating strong club potential in the grim burn of Suitor, the tight swerve of Morphine, and the pneumatic strut of Deep Well, but it works even better as an album end to end.
Berlin mainstays, Max Loderbauer (Sun Electric) and Tobias Freund (tobias., Hypnobeat) reprise their exploration of quietly refined electro-acoustic dimensions, variously touching on Satie-esque solo piano works, strung-out desert blues, Lakeland Kirby-like midnight etudes, warbling gamelan-like tones and a spectrum of shadowy integers between them
“A decade has passed since Tobias Freund and Max Loderbauer aka Non Standard Institute (NSI) released their enigmatic collection of ‘non-standards’. Playing with mystery is the name of the game here as well. The new CD, entitled with the code ‘5863′, is the result of collecting creative moments over years and stringing together twenty short pieces that jointly amount to almost an hour of playtime.
Meditative, reflective, introspective, but also occasionally exhilarated… All these descriptions come to mind. But there’s more to the story line which emerges in patient increments as the album unfolds. Music comes mostly in the form of sparse but evocative piano improvisations, layering personal expression and subtle references anchored within the depth of the musicians’ experience. As the cryptic title suggests, the scope of examined experience can be symbolized through dates or years. But what counts for much more here is the sonic narrative itself with all its openness to interpretation. Some of these concise tracks can swiftly transport the listener to iconic harmonies of other musical contexts as they seamlessly relink the piano avant-gardism of Erik Satie with echoes of modern psychedelia and futuristic soundtracks.
As a whole, however, the minimal instrumentalism of NSI is as much about the notes and emotions that punctuate the electronic soundscapes generated by Tobias’ unerring use of studio as it is about the space created between them.”
In the year of his 50th birthday, Earth’s Dylan Carlson mounts his 4th solo album Conquistador, spelling out a signature, disenchanted sound ideal for brooding in the desert while waiting for the eschaton.
Accompanied by Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou on 2nd guitar and production, as well as Emma Ruth Rundle (Red Sparrowes, Marriages), and his wife Holly Carlson (that’s her on the cover), Dylan saddles up another search for the unnamed and unnamable, continuing a journey which has seen various bandmates including Kurt Cobain fall off, leaving Dylan at the lead of his 1 wagon caravan, still fixed on horizons psychedelic and possibly unreachable.
Boy Harsher’s début EP Lesser Man returns for a fresh pressing on Nude Club, who are also behind a new reissue of B.H.’s Yr Body Is Nothing album.
Thanks to an achingly tight blend of rictus grooves and perfectly gaunt vocals, Boy Harsher have steadily caught the attention of listeners worldwide, leading to the dispatch of their resoundingly acclaimed EP with Ascetic House in 2017.
This one packs some proper heat, tracing the pair’s metamorphosis from Teen Dreamz into the Boy Harsher of today thru the gothic darkwave elan of Lust and the infectious canter of Modulations, to the hypnotic engine of Pain, and taking in Hi-NRG zingers such as Run beside the drone descent Crimea, and the sore, sludgy synth-pop romance of Love.
RIYL Tropic of Cancer, Xeno & Oaklander, The Soft Moon
In the deeply absorbing Organism for German avant-garde label, Karlrecords, Iranian artist Porya Hatami deftly tempers the sweeter tendencies of Berlin’s Arovane to realise some of the subtlest, most elusive material in either’s catalogue. The original Organism is here packaged with its Organism_Evolution expansion on a 2nd disc
Organism takes shape as a series of 19 silty arabesques, each feeling as though it was sketched in sand and oil, full of shifting patterns that slosh and evolve with a sort of gauzy brownian motion in elemental electronic microcosms.
You can feel Arovane’s intricate harmonic urges practically deferred and diffracted by Hatami’s abstract, granular processing, if effect perpetually staving off the ghosts of convention and keeping the arrangement’s emotive impact wonderfully intangible, only occasionally allowing more discernible melodic and harmonic forms to rise to the surface, before smudging them back into the piece’s quantum flux. Maybe best to imagine yourself as a single particle flushed thru their system, detached of any handrails and left to the inherent logic of the Organism itself.
Their Organism_Evolution takes those ideas to a logical conclusion, growing the sounds into more complex and intricately hyaline, cosmic concrète structures.
RIYL Xenakis, Jim O’Rourke & Kassel Jaeger, Anthony Manning
Justin Swinburne (part of the duo 18+ alongside Samia Mirza) presents his first solo mixtape as jj18.
"jj's prayer will arrives alongside a 48 minute visual. jj's prayer is as political as it is personal - spanning themes of disaster fantasy, the presence of avatars in today's social spheres, identity, and co-dependency and the realities of being alone.
While 18+ was a project that touched on the relationship between two people, jj18 is about an individual attempting to piece together their own narrative of identity in an increasingly fragmented world.
jj18 is Justin Swinburne who was born in Los Angeles and lives and works in Berlin. jj's prayer, jj18's debut mixtape, features music and videos made over the past 5 years in LA, Berlin, Moorpark, London, Lofoten and New York City.”
Slow music maestro Michael Pisaro mans sine tones alongside Philip Bush on piano and Greg Stuart’s percussion in this sublime yet tense triad of time-dilating compositions incisively exploring the relationship between the note and its resonance, action and consequence. Close listening yields great rewards here...
“A mist is a collection of points, while a grid is an organized collection of points. There is the unspoken tension in this work between regular and aperiodic, solid and vague, artificial and organic, order and sprawl. This interplay takes place from one section to the next, and also in the interactions between the parts: between the pianist (Phillip Bush), the percussionist (Greg Stuart), and the sine tones (by Michael Pisaro). It affects the melody and the resonance, the timing and the coordination between parts. The intermingling of shadow pitches and extended resonances creates effects that are at least as vivid as any articulation.
Gradual change is a feature of the entire work, on the most local scale (measure by measure) and on the macro scale as well. Timing, resonance, melody, register, and dynamics are all intertwined in these slow transformations. "The work is essentially about the morphology and topography of this resonance." This recording, like the piece itself, best reveals itself when it is "let loose in an environment," played on speakers rather than headphones, in order to continue to develop its shape.
Michael Pisaro (b. 1961) is a member of the Wandelweiser collective, an international organization of musicians which he has defined as "a particular group of people who have been committed, over the long term, to sharing their work and working together." Its members have shared an interest in John Cage and experimental music, and extended durations, indeterminacy, and silence have featured in many works they have made; but Pisaro is quick to point out that the members of the collective have a far from uniform aesthetic stance. Pisaro's work over the past decade bears little surface resemblance to the pieces made by other members of the collective apart from a commitment to experimental music and to deeply collaborative processes. Many of the recent trajectories of his work intersect in A mist is a collection of points (2014).”
CUTS - composer and filmmaker Anthony Tombling Jr - releases music from his experimental film ‘EXIST’ for the first time.
"Inspired by a poem by HP Lovecraft, ‘EXIST’ explores night terrors and sleep paralysis. The 40-minute film, described by CUTS as an “existential journey into nowhere” features narration from cult graphic novelist Alan Moore (‘Watchmen’, ‘V For Vendetta’, DC Comics, ‘2000AD’). The film was premiered at Dark Outside, the unique 24 hour site specific festival in the Galloway Forest Dark Skies Park, in 2015; the music hasn’t been made available until now."
The striking first realisations of Morton Feldman’s previously unrecorded choral works, performed by The Astra Choir, and directed by John McCaughey. In a stroke of genius, the four previously unheard pieces are presented alongside new iterations of choral works written and recorded by Pauline Oliveros, Warren Burt, Earle Brown, Robert Carl and Will Ogdon during the same era as Feldman’s compositions, each serving to provide rich contemporaneous context
“The intense individuality of Morton Feldman's (1926 - 1987) art and its "painterly" aspect have tended to push his rich output of works into a zone all of their own, surrounded by a moat of stillness. This recording attempts the reverse process - to bring his choral works (the previously unrecorded Chorus and Instruments, Voices and Instruments 1, Voices and Instruments 2, The Swallows of Salangan) into a "gallery" of other choir compositions of his times. Through the interaction with works of other characters and aspirations, mutual illumination might become a new Feldman experience.
Two of the five other works confront Feldman's textless choral singing with words. These, however, carry their own special musical intent. Three early twelve-tone gems [Three Statements] of Will Ogdon (1921 - 2013) move with Walt Whitman "into the wordless . . . away from books, away from art," and reluctantly away from human desire, as embodied in the central poem by Thomas Campion. Robert Carl's (b. 1954) The City brings a transcendentalist layered sound to the mystical reflections of the architect Louis Sullivan, contemplating the natural and the built-human in the lake and city of Chicago.
The notion of wordless chorus fans out in varied directions in the other three works. As one of Feldman's closest associates in the New York School, Earle Brown (1926 - 2002) intrigues us as much for the stark differences from Feldman shown by his abstract choral mobiles (Small Pieces for Large Chorus). The Sound Patterns of Pauline Oliveros (1932 - 2016) are less abstract than their title might imply - moving in and out of singing itself into extended vocality, and towards newly-suggested verbal exclamations of a non-semantic kind. Warren Burt (b. 1949), a former student of both Oliveros and Ogdon at the University of California, San Diego, contributes with his Elegy the most recent piece, also the closest to Feldman's simple successions of chorale-like chords. His harmonies, however, acquire their elegiac qualities from chromatic memories and their contradictions, moving along unfamiliar paths.”
The first Grouper album in 4 years finds Liz Harris stripped of FX, pairing her vocals with skeletal piano gestures in beautifully pregnant space. For anyone familiar with the miasmic fuzz of Grouper’s previous releases, the relative clarity is quietly shocking in effect, revealing her songs and sound at their most vulnerable, and, in the process, locating a newfound strength in fragility.
Grid Of Points was recorded in Wyoming shortly after Liz finished recording Grouper’s Ruins out in Aljezur, Portugal, and on the most immediate level it seems to describe the difference in recording locations between windswept Atlantic coastline and sparse, landlocked insularity. The seven songs were written over a week and a half, with the process curtailed by a bout of what she describes as “high fever”. What remains forms some of Grouper’s most legible lyrics and intimate instrumentation, with each piece framed by stark, unprocessed space working in the same role usually occupied by her billowing sheets of harmonic distortion.
Untreated and unfiltered, Grouper's voice rings plaintively clear, sometimes layered in ephemeral harmonies or curling off with jazz-soul wise inflections shadowed by modest piano phrasing in a crepuscular style that links back to all her previous work. Yet, in places the clarity is such that it almost feels like we the listeners have just been hearing her songs with clogged ears for the past decade and longer.
Ultimately, these results perhaps most acutely resonate with the etymology of Liz’s moniker - ‘Grouper’ as in member of a Fourth Way commune, The Group, which was inspired by the philosophy of George Gurdjieff, whose mystic meditations surely linger in the magick of Grid Of Points.
Dense, darkly cinematic drone works from Tehran via Newcastle
"I remember being 6 years old, locked in a closet and screaming and beating on the door until I couldn't feel my hands. I think it's because I didn't want to finish my mashed potatoes.
I remember feeling his rough, dry, red hands all over me. Moving down the length of me in the middle of the night. Putting himself inside of me. Telling me the same thing happened to him when he was my age. I knew crying didn't work. It didn't work all of the other times. I stopped after a while.
It was us in that house for years and then I was gone and I didn't see him again until I was a teenager. After that my mom found out what happened and we sealed off that part of our lives.
We got the news that he'd died alone in that house. It was 3 weeks before anyone found him. There's still a part of me in there with him that I'll never get back.
I've explored this on a few other albums but never in this depth. I didn't feel like I was a good enough writer to tackle something like that. I don't know if I am now but every road led me here. With Siavash's haunting music and never-ending friendship I felt like I could make this journey.
- Matt Finney”
The Co-Ho people are an ethnic group living in the southern part of the central highlands of Vietnam. They speak a Mon-Khmer language.
"Co-Ho are animists who make a division between two types of supernatural spirits: the first type, with human characteristics, is called "Yang" - these are gods which are worshipped during ceremonies and important rituals to prevent bad luck, which is represented by the second type of spirits, called "Cha" = devils. The music of Co-Ho people serves different rituals and thus there are different styles of gong music, played on both flat and knobbed gongs.
Usually an ensemble consists of six gongs. On this recording, the number of gongs ranges from 2 to 6. On the occasions where music is performed in duo , a small ritual is conducted as a means to show respect to ancestors. If one of the gong players is unable to follow the other one, the player who fails to follow needs to drink rice wine from the vase. For this album, two locations for 2 groups in total were visited. "
The Ede groups live mainly in Tay Nguyen, the central highlands of Vietnam. Gongs are one of the most valuable instruments for Ede people. Each player strokes the back or front of the flat gong by a wooden stick aggressively, to create unique rhythmic patterns.
"However, for this recording, Bamboo instruments such as Cing Kram are played by bamboo-made mallets/sticks. For Ede people, they usually practice with the Cing Kram first, before they play the gong - a sacred symbol and instrument. So, these bamboo instruments are used for their practices and they literally call it as “bamboo-gongs.”
Another fascinating instalment in the history of Jewish recorded music, this time drawn from the Syrena — ‘Mermaid’— record label of Warsaw, when the city in its gloriously diverse, cultural heyday was known as ‘the Paris of the East’, before the devastation of the 1940s
Precious, thrilling 78s thronged with people arguing, soldiering, going bankrupt, praying, dancing to Klezmer, meeting the devil, failing to have sex, complaining about modern girls… and eating. With an informative, richly illustrated, twenty-eight-page booklet.
The Bahnar are an ethnic group in Vietnam, living from the north to the south and northeast of the Vietnamese central highlands. Bahnar speak a language in the Mon-Khmer language group. These recordings were conducted in Dak Doa, Gia Lai Province.
"Bahnar people use both knobbed gongs and flat gongs; knobbed gongs mostly have a rhythmic function, the flat gongs are used for melodies. Usually a gong ensemble comprises 8 or 9 gongs in total (6 flat gongs and 2 or 3 knobbed gongs), but the number of gongs can go up to 20 (10 flat gongs, 10 knobbed gongs) or even 22 (11 flat and 11 knobbed).
For this recording, the musicians brought different sorts of sharpened twigs as drumsticks. the biggest knobbed gong was played with a jackfruits twig. For Bahnar people, gongs - equivalent in value to several water buffaloes - are acquired through exchanges with the people from Laos, Cambodia and with Kinh groups of Vietnam.
Gong music is commonly played among the Bahnar on particular occasions such as harvesting, funerals, buffalo sacrifice, wedding ceremonies, etc."
This recording consists of the music played by the only the female group of Ede (Ede-bih – subgroup of original Ede). They only play the gong on special occasions such as festivals, funerals, and welcoming guests.
Bonny sings Susanna, to simply try and save the world.
"Sonata Dwarf Mix Cosmos is an old companion of his and with the Chijimi house band +1 they bring it all back home again, this time to the space in Bonny’s place.
“As other practitioners are leaving the room in favor of novel forms of recording and distro and consumption, PALACE, fantastical and real
structures and practices. Like we are allowed into the museum at night. We can make a great essentially live record with great songs and great players because nobody else is? ‘Wolf Of The Cosmos’... is about, as much as anything, direct engagement with recorded music. So step right up to the replicant.” -
Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy is joined by musicians Emmet Kelly (bass guitar, voice, acoustic guitar), Cheyenne Mize (violin, slide ukulele, voice), Chris Rodahaffer (banjo, voice, acoustic guitar) and Elsa Madeline Oldham (juice harp)."