Zola Jesus lets it all bleed out on Okovi, a typically grandiose new album of towering gothic opera-pop and embittered electronic textures.
Save for a few guest appearances on records by Jozef Van Wissem and Run The Jewels that displayed her artistic mutability, Nika Roza Danilova has arguably been conspicuous by her solo absence since Taiga for Mute in 2014, and corrects that in a big way inside Okovi, which relocates her sound to the clash of aching pop and experimental instincts that made her early sides so memorable.
We could largely put that switchback down to a rekindled relationship with Sacred Bones, site of Zola’s Stridulum sides, Conatus and hook-up with Dean Hurley. In this safe space for her tortured sound she’s clearly more comfortable to express personalised styles, as opposed to the radio-ready pop of Taiga, teaming up with Stridulum producer Alex DeGroot and also working with like-minded dark soul, James Kelly aka Wife to properly realise her potency.
Underlined by a sextet of strings, electronics and percussion, Zola mounts some of her most impressive work in years with a big highlight in the industrial thunder and pealing vocals of Exhumed, while benefitting from Wife’s sore gothic trap tics on Siphon, and really sharpening her taloned industrial instincts in the warped, glum thump and arena-sized escalation of Veka and, by contrast, the poised restraint of Wiseblood.
On his absorbing 2nd album for Planet Mu, Canada’s Antwood becomes the latest artist to take cues from the world of ASMR (Auto Sensory Meridian Response) after making sampled references in his debut LP, Virtuous.scr.
However, with Sponsored Content, do not expect an album of soothing tones and pleasing haptic rustles; rather it is a fractious, uncomfortably sensuous set written in response to the artist’s dissatisafaction with a popular ASMR YouTuber incorporating sponsored content - advertisements - into her videos, which Antwood was then using as a sleep aid.
Sponsored Content is therefore on the surface an album about, in his own words “the ubiquity of ads and commodification of online content”, but ultimately as he came to realise, it was just as much about “intentionally devaluing the the things i’ve invested myself into, and over-complicating my work”. Simultaneously serious in concept but playful with it - as any record dealing with ASMR has to be, really - the result is a strangely hyperreal sort of avant-pop experience, quite explicitly so in the extreme autotune application of closing track, Human or with a sort of James Ferraro meets 0PN at Visionist’s aesthetic for the majority, with highlights in the fibrillation designs of ICU and the grimy trap tang of Commodity Fetish Mode or the sublime thizz of Don’t Go.
Mount Kimbie follow-up their Cold Spring Fault Less Youth  with a 2nd LP for Warp, Love What Survives, featuring guest vocals from their mates; King Krule, Andrea Balency, James Blake and Mica Levi.
"Love What Survives’ is the third studio album from Mount Kimbie. It is a melodic yet robust electronic record for driving with the windows down - a distillation of their career to date, mixing multiple singing voices and musical personalities, flirting with freeform experimentation, pop tropes and an expansive sonic palette."
Lunice weighs in a tightly packed album of new hip hop and club mutations with CCCLX for LuckyMe landing in the wake of production for Lil Wayne, Le1f, Azealia Banks and Kanye West since the start of the decade, and even a slot as Madonna’s 2015 tour DJ.
Subtly framed like a sort of stage play or futurist hip hop opera, CCCLX follows a finely structured dramaturgy with titles such as CCCLX (Curtain) and CCCLX (Intermission) or CCCLX (Costume) and a revolving roll call of voices and production characters coming into play including Québécois MCs Speng and CJ Flemming, and Denzel Curry and Le1f appearing alongside contribution from SOPHIE.
Standout cuts come in the form of Drop Down, featuring ratchet production from SOPHIE and catty bars from Le1f, and also the fiercely icy but bugged-out O.N.O., but safe to say if you’ve followed Lunice since the start, you’ll be all over the whole thing.
Lush dream-pop meets sleek electro and synth-pop in diaphanous phorm, delivered with trust by Mike Simonetti’s 2MR label
“Moscow's Kedr Livanskiy (real name Yana Kedrina) confesses "Synthesizers help me maximally feel the present moment." Livanskiy was born into a shifting and critical time for Russia. The Soviet Union had exhausted and old values were anathematized because of reconstruction. A sense of displacement drove Kedr to find herself. She's escaped reality repeatedly in her explorations into the imagery and ideas of romanticism, mythical and fairytale themes which visibly bleed throughout her work and especially on her debut full-length 'Ariadna'. The title track which was named after the Greek goddess, Adriane, debuted via THUMP today who've described it "anchors its elegantly drifting shoegaze melodies with a knocking electro beat."
Kedr considers this album to be divided into a couple of different parts - like how one person can contain many different moods. The first half revolves around mythological thoughts and the second takes cues from the urban and suburban environments around her, all the while in the middle of everything is the hero who experiences real feelings and emotions.
Kedr also channels the places in her neighborhood on the outskirts of Moscow (affectionately dubbed by her as "BORDER MOSCOW"). There's a river there where identical Soviet high-rises stand on both sides, with a bridge and garbage processing plant adjacent. Where nature and industry meet. The whole scene looks very apocalyptic, but also mystical and mysterious, especially at twilight.
Her inspiration for this record comes from the Izhevsk (sometimes referred to as "the capital of Russian electronic music") sound of the 80s, including groups like Stuk Bambuka V XI Chasov (Bamboo Crash at 11AM) and Samtsy Dronta. The movement in Russian experimental music is especially inspiring, with acts likes Valery Chkalov, Sergey Kuryokhin and Pop Mechanica; in general, the late-Soviet period was very inspiring with all its figures in music, cinema, their energy and their approach towards life and art.
'Ariadna' marks a change in her recording approach: her critically acclaimed breakthrough EP 'January Sun' was written and recorded completely in Ableton, while 'Ariadna' was written using the Roland SH-101, Roland Juno 106 and Korg Minilogue synthesizers, then mixed down in Ableton. According to Kedr, "This way, one gets into a flow of live interaction, here and now, with the instrument."
To her, this interaction is more "raw and sacred" than actually mixing the track down, which seems like "mere formalism" in comparison. There is a definite leap in production values this time around, but Kedr manages to keep true to her sound despite the greater polish and depth.”
Liturgy’s highly regarded drummer, Greg Fox beats out a levitating, freeform, rhythmelodic swirl connected as much to his math metal roots as ambient and jazz schools. If Bruce Ditmas got down with TCF and Alice Coltrane…
“The Gradual Progression is a transformative collection of new music by Greg Fox. The seven pieces of The Gradual Progression activate spiritual states through physical means, Fox’s rigorous inner rhythms the mandalic vessel for unbound expression and arrangement. TGP signals both a reconciliation of disparate musical ventures and a new nirvanic stage in the artist’s oeuvre.
Fox views TGP as an exploration of selfhood, and more specifically, the search for his true voice as an artist. Though such a journey is by nature ongoing, if not essentially elusive, the discoveries along the path are the musical riches of TGP. For his second solo album, Fox employs new methods of externalizing his polyrhythmic virtuosity into non-physical realms.
This transfer of energy is achieved through responsive environments tethered to various aspects of the performance. Sensors attached to Fox’s drum kit trigger tonal palettes, or virtual instruments invented for each piece, which Fox communes with in the post-Free Jazz manner. That is, locating and emphasizing states of universal resonance in solo and ensemble settings in place of demonstrating individual ability.
This is where the album’s canonic influences – and inventors – are most recognizable. Pharoah Sanders’ Elevation and Don Cherry’s Organic Music Society come to mind, though the guidance of master drummer and holistic healer Milford Graves ultimately made TGP possible. For Fox’s astonishing 2014 album Mitral Transmissions, Graves assisted Fox in adapting software that translated output signals from biological sources to virtual instruments. For TGP, Fox again used percussion to initiate passages whose intensity and vibrancy match Fox’s energetic presence and focus.”
Hushed, sylvan songwriting from Mexican-Norwegian artist Carmen Villain, including subtly captivating production from Helge Sten (Deathprod) on Quietly, and a ghostly highlight in collaboration with Jenny Hval on Borders.
“We’re all on our own unique emotional road trips. Infinite Avenue happens to be Carmen’s. Here she is, holed up in the Motel Nowheresville, unpacking a suitcase full of stories of guilt, desire, rage, apathy, love and friendship, loneliness, nature, inner demons and other tales of twenty-first century womanhood. Carmen Villain is half-Norwegian and half-Mexican, born in the USA and now living in Oslo, Norway, having moved back after living in London for a few years. She has a lot of stories to tell.
Writing, recording and producing alone, Carmen’s intensely personal songs are entirely self-created in her makeshift studio, made up of tapestries of guitar, piano, programmed drums and synths, making the most she could out of her limited gear. Once she had arrived at more than enough tracks for a follow-up album to 2013’s 'Sleeper,' some of them were mixed with experimental house producer Matt Karmil and ‘Quietly’ was treated by noise improviser Helge Sten (aka Deathprod).
Taboo-busting Norwegian artist Jenny Hval contributes lyrics and vocals on ‘Borders’, a song especially relevant among today’s tightening frontiers in America and elsewhere. ‘Red Desert’ is titled after the legendary Antonioni movie about a woman’s survival tactics in a surreal industrial landscape full of existential crisis. ‘To me the movie feels like a perfect visual representation of what it can be like to be anxious and uncomfortable in your head sometimes,’ says Carmen. Musically, 'Infinite Avenue' has a similar effect.
With 'Infinite Avenue,' Carmen Villain’s songwriting and production skills have taken a major leap forward, and on the final, ethereal ‘Planetarium’ her voice shoots into the stratosphere, riding the comet tail of a Korg bass drone. It’s about acknowledging the immensity of the universe, while remembering that we’ve each got our own private constellation of issues to deal with down here. It’s a typically Villainous contrast of rapture and irony, with a murmured coda recorded as she was falling asleep one night. ‘Everything I write has to be true,’ she says, ‘even if I sometimes find it’s too confessional. Whatever was my truth at that moment.’
The hollow-eyed woman on the cover, that’s Hollywood actress Gena Rowlands, partner of the late director John Cassavetes – a heroine of Carmen’s because of the way her face and body can so brilliantly express psychological states, nervousness, being stressed out, desperation, anxiety, joy without necessarily using words. A freakish dream sequence in 'Love Streams,' where she gambles with the love of her estranged husband and child and desperately tries to make them laugh with a bunch of practical-joke toys, is manic genius – and one of Carmen’s favourite film scenes. Ms Rowlands, by the way, personally approved the use of her image for this project.
A famous movie maker once called film ‘truth at 24 frames per second’. With 'Infinite Avenue,' you get an earful of truth at 33 1/3 revs per minute.”
The National return with their seventh studio album, ‘Sleep Well Beast’.
It was produced by member Aaron Dessner with co-production by Bryce Dessner and Matt Berninger. The album was mixed by Peter Katis and recorded at Aaron Dessner’s Hudson Valley, New York studio, Long Pond, with additional sessions having taken place in Berlin, Paris and Los Angeles.
The arch avant cuties rope in Juana Molina, Matana Roberts, and Lætitia Sadier a.o. for their most accessible album pretty much ever. The disco friendly ‘Come Down Here & Say That’ feat. Stereolab’s Lætitia Sadier is particularly choice and a great way in!
“Though Deerhoof have often made albums from start to finish with virtually no input from the outside world, now is not the time for artists to operate in isolation. Mountain Moves throws the doors wide open. Working quickly, the band invited myriad guests to participate, some of them dear friends, others practically strangers. They are of different ages, different nationalities, different disciplines. The only common thread was that each and every artist on Mountain Moves doesn't fit into a single, neatly-defined category – and doesn't wish to.
The results, as expected, were unexpected. Guide vocals and simple melodies were dispatched via email, only to be answered with an outpouring of alternate harmonies, suggestions for arrangements, additional instrumentation. Every file received triggered a new rush of jumbled emotions. Some guests crafted their contributions in the small hours of the dawn, toiling in hotel rooms before driving eight hours to the next tour date; others hopped on the subway and recorded with the band in-person.
Collisions and collusions abound on Mountain Moves. In addition to its bounty of originals, the program includes three covers that epitomize the album's assemblage of disparate ideas and personalities. Reducing Bob Marley's "Small Axe" to a beat-less fragment of hymn-like simplicity magnifies the song's rebellious spirit and undercurrent of violence. Deerhoof vocalist Satomi Matsuzaki, a Japanese immigrant, lifts the Staple Singers' "Freedom Highway" out of its original place and time, imbuing it with a new sense of alienation from one's own country. Snippets of the bass recitative "For behold, darkness shall cover the earth" from Handel's Messiah provide the foundation for a fresh take on Chilean folk hero Violeta Parra's bittersweet masterpiece "Gracias a la Vida."
Adventures outside the United States also informed the making of Mountain Moves. During a recent visit to Brazil, the band was astonished to see how enthusiastically audiences at concerts sang, danced, and reveled – a cultural response, they learned, to the scarcity of resources for all but the nation's wealthiest elites. Elsewhere, the experience of confronting unfamiliar audiences of fired-up Red Hot Chili Peppers fans taught them that one of their greatest skills – the ability to recalibrate their sound nightly to suit a particular venue – wasn't limited to basements or small clubs. The broader strokes of Mountain Moves sprang forth from lessons learned while trying to engage audiences of 20,000+ across the vast distances of Northern European sporting arenas.
If Mountain Moves were a movie, it would be a double feature, Journey to the Center of the Deerhoof and Escape from Planet Deerhoof, shown side-by-side simultaneously. The record epitomizes the band at its very best, exploring new realms between the poles of independence and invention. It also serves as a welcoming point of entry for new listeners outside Deerhoof's traditional orbit, an opportunity to bring even more voices into the communal conversation. We're all in this together.”
In our clammy mitts at last, one of two soundtrack sets compiled from the incredible 3rd season of David Lynch and Mark Frost’s Twin Peaks.
This is the instrumental collection, featuring 18 tracks including recurring evergreens such as Angelo Badalamenti’s Twin Peaks Theme and Audrey’s Dance along with Badalamenti and Lynch’s Thought Gang, gems from Lynch & Dean Hurley, and the hair-raising Threnody To The Victims of Hiroshima which accompanied the climax of Part 8, arguably one of the most brilliant pieces of TV in recent memory.
Everyone who has seen "The Return" will no doubt have their favourite moments - Wally Brando’s fleet homecoming is among our’s - but musically speaking, two of them appear here, firstly with David Lynch’s cracking DJ Screw-style re-drag of Muddy Magnolia’s American Woman, as deployed in the 1st episode, and particularly the mottled jazz loops of Lynch & Dean Hurley’s Slow 30’s Room, also from he amamazing Part 8, that was originally realised for a Lynch retrospective in Paris - also found on his The Air Is On Fire  release - and sounds uncannily like a special dram from The Caretaker’s dusty teak cabinet.
The version of Windswept included here is different to Johnny Jewel's original and is to die for, while the closing track will take you straight back to that fade to black final moment as the credits rolled up to bring the whole thing to a close...
On yet another stunning number from Unseen Worlds, Carsten Schulz aka C-Schulz arrives in the wake of their incredible reissues of Carl Stone and Laurie Spiegel records with a mind-bending batch from the fecund experimental nexus of ‘90s Cologne.
With C-Schulz releases scattered between Frank Dommert’s Entenpfuhl label - where he debuted in the same year as Jim O’Rourke - and the likes of Schimpfluch, Extreme and MoM’s Sonig - including many alongside probing input from Markus Schmickler - it’s maybe fair to say that C-Schulz’s distinctive oeuvre and artists genius has been sorely overlooked, until now, that is.
Frühe Jahre contains 20 wildly diverse examples of C-Schulz’s genre-agnostic agenda drawn from the early phase of his small, but arguably perfectly formed, catalogue between 1989 and 1991-ish, documenting an artist who patently dared to go beyond his classical training and explore new frontiers between early techno and acousmatic music, industrial and avant-pop, with something approaching a savant appreciation of juxtaposition and stylistic innovation.
He would later study A/V arts and work for a number of German broadcasters, but it’s worth bearing in mind that Schulz had barely turned 20 by the time Frank Dommert released his debut, Jahre Später, which provides one of this set’s highlights in the psychedelic horror collage of Wir beide sind verwandt, and sets the tone for a wildly, widely inventive overview of his variegated work.
There’s slow-mo New Beat-type sleaze in Barbapapa, along with hi-NRG disco scrabble in Kurze Flitze and industrial swagger on Meister, but just the tip of a large, oddly shaped iceberg, which reaches right down to the warped drone feedback works of Borkup and some messed-up vocoder psychoacoustics in Tri-Top, plus a few canny twists on space age lounge music in Klang and Reis recalling some kinda NWW cut-ups, and head-curdling drone of Himaal.
You could hardly ask for a madder wormhole to fall into. Check without delay!
Loren Connors’ Family Vineyard reissue Hisato Higuchi’s compelling 2003 debut, She; newly expanded with two bonus tracks from the original sessions and remastered by Taylor Deupree. Family Vineyard were the first label to release Higuchi’s music outside Japan with Dialogue , so their reissue of his debut EP of “Tokyo’s laborer’s blues”, replete with new artwork by the quiet man himself, is pretty apt.
Our memorable first encounter of Higuchi’s barely-there sound came with his part of the Tsuki No Seika Volume Four 7” split with Zelionople in 2011, and after being reminded of that song’s frail beauty with his most recent side for Root Strata, Kietsuzukeru Echo = 消え続けるエコー this reissue offers an often shocking demonstration of his formative phase, a sound riddled with noise and blistering distortion in a way we would never have predicted.
Those gender-uncertain vocals, precise acoustic strums and the hiss of background noise are all in place from his later releases, but the seemingly haphazard bursts of neon fizz and electrical disturbances that light up and sharply contrast his acoustic parts lend She a whole other, thrilling dimension that boldly messes with expectations or presumptions.
As Family Vineyard put it, “the delicate song textures of She capture the utter feeling of loneliness and a sleep-deprived mind staring off into a blurry sky”. And it’s not hard to see that imagery hauntingly reflected in the new cover artwork - a distant red cross (pharmacy or church?) in acres of negative space - as much as the music, with sublime scene-setters such as the ghostly peal of Sirens sharing late night headspace with the sallow strums of Ghosts Ghosts and its pranging shards of noise, which also feature in a new Ghost Ghosts (Alternative take) and the solitary intimacy of Speed.
DeepChord’s Rod Modell, together with peers Chris McNamara, Walter Wasacz and Michael Mantra [R.I.P.], offer an immersive, hour long portrait of Lakeport, Michigan in the spring rain with Shoreside’s Summer Cottage Soundscapes. Expect a sublime suspension system of wistful ambient strokes, distant bird calls and crackling ambient embers evoking intimate times up-country.
“Shorelights, "Summer Cottage Music" Recorded in the drizzle at Armstrong's Lakeport Resort Campground, Lakeport Michigan, Spring 2017. A quadraphonic recording. EQ curves optimized for low-volume playback. Mastered to Tandberg TD20A. Field recordings via Sound Devices 702 + Core-Sound High End Binaural Microphones, and Marantz PMD-430 stereo cassette + Crown SASS Microphone. The sound of sitting on the back-porch, watching Lake Huron during a spring drizzle. Strange lights glistening in the trees. The omnipresent pulse of Mother Earth in the countryside.
Quiet sonics / energies not experienced in today's busy metropolises. This and a pair of headphones is a ticket to a lakeside camp in a warm spring rain. Sensuous and evocative. A 60 minute sound sphere designed for escapism and exquisitely emulates an environment to drift and engage in quiet relief, one that is highly-dynamic and seriously sublime.”
Dextrous new experiments in ambient-related electronics from original West Coast new age adepts, K. Leimer and Marc Barreca
“Dual Mono is the third Barreca | Leimer collaboration. The process used for producing Dual Mono was designed to destabilize established habits and predilections in favor of responding to the music in at least subjectively new ways. It was also designed to reduce the illusion of control, to become more responsive to and accepting of unpredicted outcomes, and to give the music—as much as possible—a voice less tampered with.
Each piece for Dual Mono was authored by only one of the participants, the other receiving MIDI data and being limited to revoicing the composition. With a general goal of maintaining a result that was somewhat, though not purely, minimalist in sympathy, each piece was then assembled in its final form by the originator, now limited to controlling relative levels, crossfades, editing and processing. The final fifteen pieces that span two CDs embrace a range of emergent, generative and traditional forms that express a calm, informed ambience amid unsettled, shifting soundscapes.
Of an earlier collaboration, Textura stated “the sheer density of sound presented in representative settings such as ‘Loess’, ‘Talus’, and ‘Oram’ is incredible, and one comes away from Field Characteristics convinced that the claim regarding the hundreds of sounds involved in the recording’s presentation is clearly fact, not hyperbole.””
Country-rock meets ambient electronics on the debut LP by Madeline Kenney and producer, Chaz Burdock aka Toro Y Moi. RIYL Mazzy Star, Calexico...
“Madeline Kenney begins her new album with a helpful reminder: “Don’t forget, there’s room for you.” The declaration is meant to lay to rest unnecessary competition. The universe is pretty large. It’s a fitting welcome to Kenney’s debut full-length, "Night Night At The First Landing." The record is framed by meditative, repetitive recordings that each offer some kind of encouragement. "Don't you worry about a thing, you're fine." "I won't give up on anything now." The trip on "Night Night" is deciding whether the narrator is full of confidence or talking to themselves privately.
Kenney began working on the record immediately after completing her first EP, 2016’s Signals. As with Signals, Company Records label head Chaz Bear (Toro Y Moi) was on hand as producer, but with Kenney as the arranger and key creative force, "Night Night" reveals more of the artist. Kenney wrote and arranged all the songs and tracked most of the instruments at home.
"No one's a hero for just being strong," Kenney sings on first single “Rita,” letting us know it’s about action and how that strength is utilized. It takes guts. The song bursts with an exhilarating guitar workout providing a clear-headed version of distorted bliss. Similarly euphoric is a math-y tapout on “Witching Hour.” Narratives of people and how those people affect others are surrounded by musical worlds of echo and propulsion. The melody through-line of “Always” is a transfixing piano part of royal heritage. “Big One” is a lyrical puzzle and a musical skip across happy times.
The album is unavoidably dreamy, dipping into sweet fuzz while usually sailing through smooth, crystalline production. The songs are about people, and though people sometimes disappoint, this record is meant to comfort. Fall into it and imagine the clouds scooping you up, or the changing tide’s ripples gliding you past a gentle moon’s new reflection.”
Echospace nuzzle your cochlea with a painstakingly restored demo of Steve Hitchell’s work as Radius, initially recorded live to tape between 1995-2000, now restored to gauzy bliss and repackaged with a bonus disc of CV313 reworks. Oceanic, intergalactic, timeless; total manna for dub house ambient fiends!
“An unreleased classic from the vaults emerges with beautiful reshapes by cv313 (recorded and reshaped from 2007-2016). This is where the sound of cv313 was realized, culled from cassette tapes recorded live (1995-2000) with nothing but analog/digital hardware, no computer in sight (excluding our Commodore 64 midi sequencer, which is still alive and well today). The radius project has been absent since the final release in 2001, the first 12" appearing in 1996 (limited white label run of 100 copies pressed at Acme pressing in Canada) after revisiting these works we realized there was truly some magic here. This project was initially sent to Rod Modell & Mike Schommer shortly after they launched their brilliant deepchord label in 2001. They were incredibly kind in saying it was the best demo they had ever heard and passed it on to Octal records for release, sadly, that didn't materialize and since then these masters have been collecting dust in our cassette rack for nearly 20 years now. We've spent months doing our best to restore the old tapes from our Tascam 688, an 8 track cassette recorder purchased and abused since 1992 and to our ears still sounds quite impressive even by modern standards. (that is of course, if you can get past the tape hiss) We've had nearly every component replaced and re-calibrated to bring this obsolete machine back to life, it's been a truly nostalgic experience re-visiting these masters.
We truly hope you enjoy reliving these magical times of music, very inspired by all that was happening in those years, there was just something in the air, an undeniable energy, long may it live on…”
In Pessimist, Blackest Ever Black’s furtive D&B agent submits a killer debut LP recce from the no man’s land between jungle, tekno and greyscale electronics - a definitively Bristolian sound. Forming a logical expansion of the themes explored in his work with the Ruffhouse trio and in solo shots for A14 and Osiris Music UK over recent years, his first album finds him working in acres of negative space to fully indulge his worries for the dance, arguably resulting in a new high-water mark for the D&B album format.
Thanks to a natural predilection for minimalism and a fine tuned sensitivity towards textured, atmospheric detail, Pessimist succeeds where the vast majority of D&B long-players fail; fundamentally keeping our interest without resorting to beating us around the head with the latest plugin acrobatics. Rather, Pessimist uses techniques of stealth and guile to draw in and toy with his prey, resulting a far more intriguing and satisfying dispatch from the dark side of the echo chamber.
Like we say, it’s sculpted as a proper album, as opposed to a clutch of middling bangers, replete with intro, outro and a tempered transfer of energy between the tracks that necessarily curves the listener’s enthusiasm between pockets of dank ambience, dread dub dimensions and rolling, ghostly tech-steppers.
Aside from the bolshy techno of Peter Hitchens and clinical badboy rolige of Through The Fog, it’s all exclusive new material, churning up some robust highlights with Grit’s hunched and grubbing torque, and the stark, crispy Spirals, but we’d have to point to his No Matter What collaboration with Overlook for the LP’s most impressive mutation of pure UK bassbin pressure. If we’ve any gripes, though, it’s from the splashback of his breakbeats that come in half way thru Grit and dominating his Glued link-up with Loop Faction, but apart from those, it’s a proper dark fantasy.
Collaboration between French ensemble Astrïd and American pianist and composer Rachel Grimes.
"Rachel Grimes is best known for her chamber music project Rachel’s, a hugely influential group formed in 1991 in Louisville, Kentucky, releasing six studio albums between 1995 and 2005. She has also released a string of contemporary classical works in recent years on labels such as Temporary Residence. Astrïd is a collective of four musicians based in Nantes, releasing records on Rune Grammofon and Home Normal.
After years of mail and email back and forth over the ocean, from Nantes to Kentucky, astrïd invited Rachel to come for a residency to make music together and play shows in France. They gathered for a few days, here and there, in 2012 and 2013 to write songs in Cyril and Vanina’s home studio in the countryside.
The compositions found on Through the Sparkle glow with a unique, connected energy and a pure, instinctive musical understanding. Considered contributions from all sides allow the pieces to unfurl naturally. Each note and phrase feels like it simply couldn’t be placed anywhere else in the album.
Charming, gentle and cinematic sounds are found here in abundance. Melodies circle and reveal themselves without force, allowing the listener to focus and explore the depths of what is on offer. Musically, Through the Sparkle is an expansive and evocative album. There is a presence to be felt throughout, from Cyril Secq’s emotive tremelo’d guitars of M5 to the darker, more haunting mood of The Theme, to the tension in Mossgrove & Seaweed. Strings and woodwind coalesce around intricate piano and guitar movements creating a wealth of harmony and melancholy.
Through the Sparkle is a record of miniature symphonies, of elegant restraint. A gracious and generous offering from a group of musicians at one with each other and at the top of their game."
Kompakt’s Total series gracefully approaches adulthood with its 17th annual showcase of family and friends, rounding up material issued over the last annum alongside a grip of eight exclusive new bits.
For highlights, we advise checking out Danny Daze / Shokh’s rave-ready charge Aire; the lean tribal swerve of Dawn by Locked Groove; some lush early ‘90s house pressure in Voigt & Voigt’s Tribute To A Greek God; or the wistful breakbeat budge of Weval’s Metazoa for something a bit more off kilter.
Pretty mirriboard jacket housing some ‘avant’, psychy art rock. RIYL lentils, beards
“The idea that rock music ever pretended to promise ‘transcendence’ is ridiculous, or at least it seems so under present conditions. Leaving aside the obvious question even (‘transcendence’ of what?), the idea seems archaic, optimistic in a way that’s hard to access in the Trump/Brexit era. Chris Forsyth’s music is too kinetically aware, too intelligent, and frankly too goddamn punk to make any such outsized promises, but also nearly impossible to hear without considering the idea. Because as sure as Dreaming In The Non-Dream is subject to all the dread pressures that have contorted us all of late —it would be a drab mistake to call this a “political record,” but also straight-up lazy to miss its subtle cues— it offers . . .one won’t say a “way out,” exactly (hardly), but something along the lines of a way through. It’s a record that conveys ecstasy as surely as Pharoah Sanders does, or the Velvet Underground did.
In this respect, it’s hard to imagine who Forsyth’s contemporaries might be. But then it’s always been this way: the greats tend to feel a little out-of-plumb with their moment (only hindsight lets us see it otherwise), and Forsyth’s music has been sparring with some large forces from the beginning. He’s always united the homely with the astral, the abstract with the visceral in his Solar Motels and Intensity Ghosts. There’s something different about Dreaming In The Non-Dream, though. There’s a fresh economy involved here, a sense, strange as this is to say about a record with two songs longer than eleven minutes, of not a note wasted. Despite psychedelic leanings, Forsyth’s records have always trained toward concision — plenty of space, yet never slack— but these tunes erupt with startling swiftness, then spend the rest of their quick-burning lives teasing multiple moods and patterns out of relatively simple materials. “History & Science Fiction” pads in on the back of a slinky, almost shy, bass line, then —after a little blast of glassy percussion— hurls us about a mile into the air before arriving, startlingly, at a saxophone arrangement (!) that evokes early Roxy Music. The title track seems to gene-splice two of the great minimalist themes, Pere Ubu’s “Heart of Darkness” and Neu’s “Hallogallo,” into one surging, winding, pulsing ride: Music For Speeding Tickets. Even the pensive, aqueous “Two Minutes Love,” which sounds a bit like something Ry Cooder could’ve written for the Paris, Texas soundtrack troubled by ghosts both placid and deranged, does a lot —really, a lot— with barely more than a whisper.
Those titles, though. It’s hard not to notice that “History & Science Fiction” might refer to the intersection we’re all standing at now, pinned by the consequences of the former and living, abruptly, within the latter; “Two Minutes Love” inverts Orwell’s “Two Minutes Hate” from 1984; as for the title track, well, that utilitarian “non-dream” could just as well be a euphemism for nightmare. But it’s “Have We Mistaken The Bottle For The Whiskey Inside?” that’s most explicit. Over a prowling, stabbing, Stones-ish backdrop —one that, naturally, will accelerate itself into something different— Forsyth sings about, well, transcendence: about “los(ing) my senses” and the suspension of self-judgment, about the gaps between ideation and execution, and, of course, between container and content. Perhaps the most canny thing about Forsyth’s music is how little explanation he’s willing to attach to it. Not out of coyness, or any need to gin up a little mystery: there just isn’t any need for it. When the whiskey’s this strong, who needs a bottle at all? - Matthew Specktor”
Guitarist and composer Terje Rypdal (1947) is probably as close as one gets to a living legend in Norwegian music.
"Born in Oslo on 23rd August, Rypdal was already a star at home in his teens with pop-rock group The Vanguards. This was followed by the timely and inevitable passage through psychedelia with quartet The Dream, releasing their only album, Get Dreamy, in 1967. In 1968, still only 21 years old, Rypdal released Bleak House, the first, quite extraordinary album under his own name, fully showing what direction he was moving into. Min Bul, his trio with Bjørnar Andresen and Espen Rud, followed with their only album two years later. Rypdal and fellow Norwegians Jan Garbarek, Arild Andersen and Jon Christensen were quickly picked up by Manfred Eicher, starting his ECM label.
The quartet released Afric Pepperbird in 1970, only the seventh album on ECM, and Rypdal would follow with Terje Rypdal the year after. The four of them would soon establish themselves as pillars of a progressive jazz movement in Norway and indeed Europe. Rypdal was at an early age also drawn towards contemporary composers like Ligeti and Penderecki, and would later write a number of symphonies and genre-crossing orchestral works. He would also revisit his rock roots on several occasions. Terje Rypdal has received a number of awards, including three Norwegian Grammies (Spellemannpris), the last being the honorary award in 2005. Sky Music is a humble and heartfelt celebration of an inspirational artist and truly unique guitarist that hasn´t fully received the due credit and recognition he deserves for over 50 years of music making.
Initiated by the experimental US guitarist and lifelong Rypdal fan Henry Kaiser, we put together a Rune Grammofon all star band including keyboardist and long time Rypdal side-kick Ståle Storløkken (Elephant9, Supersilent), bassist Ingebrigt Håker Flaten (Scorch Trio, The Thing), drummer Gard Nilssen (Bushman´s Revenge), guitarists Even H. Hermansen (Bushman´s Revenge) and Hedvig Mollestad, Finnish guitarist Raoul Björkenheim (Scorch Trio) and Swedish guitarist Reine Fiske (Dungen). Kaiser also played and produced while Hans Magnus Ryan (Motorpsycho) added bits and pieces and Jim O´Rourke beamed in his exquisite contributions to "Sunrise" from Tokyo. Bill Frisell, Nels Cline and David Torn delivered their solo interpretations, Cline with the aid of cellist Erik Friedlander. Sky Music is their birthday present to Terje Rypdal at 70."
Microtonal music for violas and viola da gamba performed by Nadia Sirota & Liam Byrne. Includes download codes for 38-minute film by Steven Mertens and all digital audio
“Tessellatum is an album and a film, with music composed by Donnacha Dennehy and animation by Steven Mertens, performed by violist Nadia Sirota and viola da gamba player Liam Byrne. The film and the music both work with the idea of man vs. nature. Steven Mertens’ electric animation toggles back and forth between man-made geometric perfection and the natural oddness of the deep ocean. Donnacha Dennehy’s addictive timbres move between tuning systems created by humans and the ones found in natural resonance. As a result, the two works of art support and enhance each other, using the same form and structure to create an incredibly moving work of art.
All fifteen string parts were performed by Nadia Sirota and Liam Byrne on viola and viola da gamba. The album was recorded in Iceland’s famed Greenhouse Studios by Paul Evans and mixed by Valgeir Sigurðsson. Produced by Nadia Sirota. “
Dälek return to Ipecac for their new album, ‘Endangered Philosophies’.
"Pioneers of alt hip-hop, Dälek features rapper / producer MC Dälek, producer / live electronics Mike Manteca and turntablist DJ rEk. With roots in the mid-90s DIY scene, Dälek have consistently released groundbreaking albums, starting with their 1998 debut EP, ‘Negro Necro Nekros’, to 2016’s ‘Asphalt For Eden’, hailed by Pitchfork for its subtlety and restraint, saying “on ‘Asphalt For Eden’, hip hop ascends into the noosphere.”
Mogwai return with their 9th studio album which was recorded with producer Dave Fridmann at his Tarbox Road Studios in New York State.
"Every Country’s Sun, named after a friend’s lack of knowledge in how the universe works, takes two decades of Mogwai’s signature contrasting sounds and distils it, beautifully, into 56 concise minutes of gracious elegance, hymnal trance-rock and transcendental euphoria. It will definitely appeal to fans of the band and will gain many new ones along the way."
20 years since they peaked out with a seminal, eponymous techno album, Thomas Köner and Andy Mellwig’s Porter Ricks return with a super robust, dynamic new LP of hydro-tech mutations for Tresor, following up the gritty example set on last year's Shadow Boat 12”.
Tough but deep whatever way you view it, Anguilla Electrica revolves around a signature Tresor sound in effect, toiling well into the trench between aerobic proprioception and psychoacoustic sound design with an immersive, sensational impact that’s just as bracing on headphones as when felt over a big rig - although we’d definitely recommend the latter!
Its six cuts are optimised to a pair of LP's, giving nuff room for the likes of their scowling, skudgy title track and the distended, subaquatic stepper Scuba Rondo to fully flex their thrilling dynamics over a side-a-piece, while elsewhere they perfectly reprise the elemental psychedelia of their early releases with the pendulous swang of Shoal Boat and the sloshing skanker, Port of Tangency.
But if we’re talking about techno psychedelia in terms of amorphous dexterity and elusiveness, then the most impressive examples are reserved to the breathtakingly intricate flux of Sandy Ground, and no doubt the near-weightless, water-treading abstraction and unquantised polymetrics of Prismatic Error.
Take it as a firm yet mutable reminder of what’s possible within the dub-tech-noise paradigm; a deeply smart way of consolidating keening experimental impetus with proper dancefloor pressure.
This double CD is the follow up to 1999’s The Swinging Reflective album. It features an array of Steven Stapleton’s favourite releases that are either his remixes of other artists, collaborations or have been co-written with individuals who have worked extensively with NWW. All tracks are remastered and some have been slightly or comprehensively remixed.
Artists here include: Sunn O))), Faust, Sand, Band Of Pain, Aranos and a host of others. This set is packaged in a heavy board, gloss laminated 6 panel digipac. Disc One 1/Rock n’ Roll Station - Colin Potter 2/Disconnected - Faust 3/Electric Smudge - Freida Abtan 4/The Squarewarp Paradox - Graham Bowers 5/Easy Listening Nightmares - David Kenny 6/Gloakid With Phendrabites - Band of Pain 7/Cruisin’ for a Bruisin’ - Andrew Liles 8/Painting with Priests - Christoph Heemann
Disc Two 1/Tidal Whirlpool – Aranos 2/Ash on the Trees (Slices of midnight) - Sunn O))) 3/Livin’ with the Night - Lynn Jackson
4/May Rain (Chromanatron) – Sand 5/Rock Baby Rock - Larson/Fritz Müller 6/Cabbalism III - Blind Cave Salamander
For the first time, Warp make B12’s seminal Electro-Soma - one of thee blueprints for ‘90s electronic and UK techno - available to download; packing the original LP - itself drawn from their earlier EPs - together with a stellar haul of rarities and early cuts.
A staple of ‘back to ours’ sessions and psychonaut’s playlists since the turn of the ‘90s, Electro-Soma I, as it’s now titled, was compiled by Warp’s Rob Mitchell from Michael Golding and Steve Rutter’s early EPs as Musicology, Redcell and 2001, all self-released by the duo between 1991-1992 on their B12 label.
It’s some of the lushest, visionary electronic music of its era, unfortunately titled IDM - as opposed to what?! - when it actually, faithfully, and patently ripped from the early styles of Detroit’s 2nd wave. But absolutely nobody is holding that against them, as the music they recorded offered a uniquely lush, even sentimental, and technically adroit spin on the 313 sounds they had clearly fallen in love with.
To this day, the emo electro of Hall Of Mirrors, the kaotic harmonix of Metropolis, and the AI bleep ’n bass of Telephone 529 still sound beautifully misty-eyed and have the capacity to freeze a spine on contact. And unless you were a bit of an super fan, the tracks forming Electro-Soma II are likely to generate a few surprises for those familiar with the original LP or EPs, especially in the mystic electro-stepper, Transient Pathways and the head-first ambient immersion Go With The Hiss.
Hype Williams get a pretty headstone with the Rainbow Edition, hustling ’20 joints strictly for the whip …& ppl 2 fat for fedoras’. Trust it’s a suitably smoked out final missive from the duo behind some of the most beguiling records, downloads and mixtapes of the last decade.
According to the duo, Hype Williams officially gave up the ghost in 2011 with their One Nation LP for the sadly defunct Hippos In Tanks (R.I.P. Barron Machat), with any subsequent live shows as HW done to fulfil contractual obligations. The pair went their own ways with solo projects from 2012 onwards, again resulting some of this decade’s most celebrated releases in the likes of Babyfather’s BBF Hosted By DJ Escrow and Lolina’s Live In Paris.
Now seemingly scraped from some lonely iTunes folder and reduced to the lowest bitrates, the 20 tracks of Rainbow Edition hold tight to the hard-bitten, tarmac level, shit camera-phone grain and fidelity which has framed their work since the self-issued High Beams download and their Han Dynasty I 7” for De Stijl back in 2009, all effectively, metaphorically finding virtue in the tension between soulful resilience and worn down daily grind in a way that hyper glossy, bloated studio productions can never grasp.
Whether the rough diamonds of Rainbow Edition form an archival release, a false restart, or even the work of others, is a moot point. What is easy to grasp, though, is the fact it physically exists, and features some real nuggs inside such as the airborne drill blowouts, Ask Yee and Cocksucker Blues or the very John T. Gast-like 6 minute meditation, Spinderella’s Dream.
So for (possibly) one last time, HW’s simulacra presents a severely compressed and bittersweet perspective on waking life that’s as sur/real as it gets right now.
Fiercely dynamic, meter-mashing and speaker-buckling electronics by the Mouse On Mars man. Mastered for digital by Rashad Becker, who said the intense nature of the album meant that to master for LP would “mutilate the spectrum and phase of the material”.
“Jan St. Werner summons flux and fragmentation on Spectric Acid, building up the record's blistering, locomotive beat structures around the correlation of musical spectra. Their movements triggered in part by peaks in frequency envelopes, rhythms buckle and fracture according to a complex logic that slides past aural perception and harmonic resolution; a “phenomenological alchemy” (Rădulescu) takes shape among unsteady synthesizer whirls and stammering percussive phrases. The effect is deadly, paralytic; but listeners willing to surrender to Spectric Acid’s movement might find themselves taken to wider horizons of trance. Crucially, Werner turned also to the ceremonial rhythms of West Africa in his shaping of Spectric Acid’s bending timescales, and one can hear a clear impress of Vodoo drumming in the way rhythmic patterns cross converse, teeter off-beat, and rapidly redouble.
Though it shares with 2016’s Felder (Fiepblatter Catalogue #4) a desire to spill beyond metric linearity and notated time, Spectric Acid strays from that record’s breathy spatiality towards more pointed concerns with motion and the liberation of rhythm. In pursuit of this new direction, Werner borrows, on the one hand, from the structural techniques championed by the Spectralist school of the 1970s; breaking free of the tempered system through a focus on frequency and timbre, spectral composers like Gérard Grisey and Horațiu Rădulescu introduced sweeping, tectonic temporalities untroubled by notes and intervals, refining what Edgard Varèse before them had evangelized as a fragmentary, atomistic approach to form given to a “[constant] changing in shape, directions, and speed.”
A record both brute in force and exacting in its sensitivity to perception’s effective limits, Spectric Acid offers fresh glimpses of the deft compositional grasp Werner has developed across over two decades of practice, whether in Mouse on Mars and Microstoria or on his growing log of solo records. Treat it less as a document than a potent sonic distillate, to be taken on an empty stomach for full effect. - Walker Peterson Downey”
In annual sequence, Fred P deposits the 3rd and final batch of FP-Oner works spanning esoteric jazz, field recordings and driving NYC/Berlin club music
“Children are laughing and playing in the back, a baby screams happily: handsome field recordings welcome the listener to the final chapter of Fred P's Fp-Oner trilogy for Mule Musiq. The New York City native's 7 features tunes for deep meditative club use and beyond. 7 brings the listener house music full of cosmic realities, odd jazzing moments, Japanese spoken word pop, synth spheres for ambient use, and an overall outer-national atmosphere that handsomely dances between roughness and subtle, tuned-in deepness.
Fred P explains: "I chose to base this project on numbers in order to impart a bit of depth and substance. '5', '6' and '7' have a meaning in both the literal and esoteric sense. We as a species are a combination of matter and energy, so it is a matter of relating the two in harmony. . . . It's like a testimony to the human condition and how we relate to treat and mistreat one another. . . . So rather than doing a project that highlights ego posture, my intent is more about what can I give to the listener." At large, the trilogy is a journey inward -- compelling, mesmerizing, and enchanting.
Fred P produced the final chapter mostly in his studio in Berlin on various synths and with a bunch of mysterious samples, all later organized and programmed in Ableton. Fred P explains further: "This project has a beginning, middle, and end. The record 5 (MUSIQ 048CD/187LP, 2015) was intended to introduce a meditative energy within a rhythmic construct, as the number '5' represents the dynamic and unpredictable. . . . The album 6 (MUSIQ 055CD/200LP, 2016) is of an earthly and more harmonious discord. I attempt to bring the inner conflict in the form of natural unnaturalness. The raw energy of the search in this project I think is self-explanatory, which is the point I believe to show how flawed one can be but express very specific themes honestly. Finally, with 7 my goal is to merge the two into balance, as one focused state of mind, as '7' is the thinker beyond understanding or beyond the illusion."
Listen deeply, open your doors of perception, dance the atomic mess around, stay small, be true, and don't forget, Fp-Oner's music is a traveling zone with a universal meaning. It can mean many things to different people. "Light Years" features Minako.”
Dirter offer a strong taste of the rekindled Avant Garde Festival in Schiphorst, Germany with this exclusive compilation of cuts by Qluster, Asmus Tietchens, faUSt, Nurse With Wound and many more artists who are affiliated with or performed at the three day festival in Northern Germany.
Betty Davis was riding high in the 70s. A new record label, a series of high profile relationships, and intensely sexualized live performances made her a rising star. It seemed like everything was aligned to take the music world by storm.
"So Betty and band got back into the studio where she would act as writer, producer, and performer, creating what she thought would be her definitive release... What emerged was the unapologetically uncompromising, self-referential 1975 album Nasty Gal. Now - thirty-five years later - Light In The Attic Records is proud to announce the first official CD reissue of this final label-release by unparalleled funkstress Betty Davis.
The re-release features new liner notes by John Ballon (writer of the Wax Poetics Betty Davis cover story in 2007), original album art, complete lyrics, beautiful digipak, full color booklet, rare photos, and interviews. Ahead of its time, Nasty Gal shows Betty digging deeper into her musical and cultural expression than ever before, and delivers from every angle. This is Hendrix and Sly Stone inspired funk-rock at its finest. From the title track's mutant groove and grunt to her onetime husband and jazz legend Miles Davis co-written ballad ("You and I"), this lady will tear your heart out! Betty's time is now..."
Lucid Locations is Second Storey’s 2nd album for Houndstooth after Double Divide . Increasingly filigree modular designs filleted into electro-techno-IDM styles with a melancholy keen akin to Rephlex or Detroit Underground releases.
“Second Storey returns to Houndstooth with a sublime presentation of bass driven, meticulously crafted tracks that again deftly display a balancing act between the delicate and the riotous. Alec Storey’s new LP is informed not only by his own movements between the Suffolk countryside and London, but by the recurring patterns of displacement taking place in the larger world, the dizzying effects of disorientation and recalibration.
These songs are sonically and emotionally complex experiences laden with reflections on exodus and homecoming. While Storey was negotiating his sense of home on a personal level, the U.K. was critically reconsidering its own identity and its rules of hospitality at the same time. And notably, London was in the midst of a purge of the institutions that helped cement its important status as a forerunner of nightlife culture.
Inevitably, such disruption was put to use by the artist. In his words “Towards the end of my time in Suffolk there was the terrible news of Britain leaving the EU and also fabric was heinously closed down. This on top of me feeling somewhat isolated affected the music i was writing…I wrote 3 very angry tracks in the 3 days after the closing.” It can be heard in the electro backbone and industrial tooth grind of “Ajunlei”, in the Drexciyan stomp of “No Such Location”, and on tracks like “Off Beat World” a monster of a jam that has jazzy angular percussion jerking in every which way.
It is not all fisticuffs though. Significantly, Storey also has a true penchant for creating music deeply rooted in bass and rhythm that immediately asks the body to respond, all the while subtly working away on the listener with an ulterior motive to coax them into contemplation. “Covehithe” -named for a cliff adorned beach Storey escaped to as a teen in Suffolk is a perfect example of this, with all of its misty falling synths and murkiness. Similarly, using field recordings of spoken word and street drumming sourced from the respective locales named in its title, “Manhattan to Moscow” has a low slung feeling even though it percolates at a handsome 155 bpm.
Disruptive yet somehow settling- it is a sublime achievement to evoke such disparate sensations from a listener.”
One of our favourite artists in the world right now, David Burraston aka NYZ presents the second of two CDs for Entr’acte, each revealing particular aspects of a sprawling practice knitting algorithms, sound installation and self-built synthesisers in some of the strangest recordings imaginable.
As you might have guessed from the title, MCRNTL - a contraction of micro- and macrotonal - catches Burraston divining new ways between the waves, stepping away from systems of 12-tone equal temperament into curdled smears of harmonic mulch and convolution that hold genuinely new and compelling sensations for the listener.
Without, as the promo says, “getting bogged down in any deep, confusing theories about anything whatsoever”, Burraston/NYZ presents nine pieces, some forty minutes of music, all selected for the pure and frankly fucking weird, pleasure of it. Of course, if you need to look at it that way, there is a wealth of complex chain reactions and semi-organic systems at play in MCRTNL, but the glacial pace and somnolent atmospheres serve to reveal those processes in a manageably intuitive, enjoyable manner with broad appeal to listeners who’ve grown bored of so much harmonic convention in electronic and avant-garde music.
Forming a spellbinding exploration of NYZ’s infamous banks of FM synthesisers, each controlled thru his patented Cellular Automata hardware system for generating note and control data, the results range from succinct, rhythmic arabesques to gaseous drones and chattering machine voices that feel at once familiar yet deeply unheimlich at the same time, mostly thanks to the level of detail with which Dave Noyze can control the tuning of individual notes or “generate complete tuning tables in some cases”.
In the cases of MTNAM_2::FM60PP3 and MCRTEO, it sounds like he’s zoomed in and expanded on mercurial moments of AFX or Autechre tracks, focussing in on their nasal drip tang and melted string zing with a delightfully perverse quality, whilst LM_8101MT sounds like a band of brass-touting mice conducted by David Lynch, and MTNAM_7_SRi::station=>MONO feels as though it’s performing otoacoustic origami on yer inner ear, whereas MTNAM_3:: XNOTNL and GRAYMATTA feel as though he’s alternately emulating a lonely ship at sea in your ear canal, and then slowly sealing it in with concrete.
Ultimately, this process allows NYZ to explore a finer range of sounds, and with it a finer spectrum of emotional analogues and the less distinct, more ambiguous spaces between the notes. It can be taken like a kinda counterintuitive form of jazz played by machines, or oblique abstract sketches rendered in colours imperceptible to the eye, but either way they’re some of the oddest, unsettling works in circulation.
If you’ve ever wondered what Google streetcar’s dreams sound like, we implore you to check David Burraston’s beguiling FLD RCRD, the first of two remarkable new NYZ albums for Entr’acte.
As Dave Noyze, Noyzelab or just NYZ, the award-winning sound artist/scientist is regarded among the most inquisitive minds working with algorithmic music and electronics right now. He’s perhaps best known for the remarkably in-depth Syrobonkers! interview with Aphex Twin, whilst in recent years a brilliant glut of his material has turned up on tapes and download for Computer Club, Meds and Gamma Mine that rank among the strangest releases we’ve heard this decade. To put it plainly, if you’ve ever been wowed by music from Roland Kayn to Autechre, AFX or Lee Gamble, you really need to hear FLD RCRD!
Collated over five years, the research documented on FLD RCRD is typically varied, combining many strands of Burraston’s praxis - sound installations, self-built synthesisers, and interests in chaos/complexity theory - in four varying degrees of flux. Blending real location recordings with studio recordings of his Cellular Automata - an algorithmic system used to trigger and modulate FX - Burraston subconsciously breaks down distinctions between artificial and actual, hypothetical and hyperstitional with a genuine sort of electro-acoustic alchemy in three algorithmic parts, plus a fourth cut of hyperreal, yet untreated, field recordings making for comparably stark contrast.
On two parts, FLD RCRDST::On Walden Snow and the 20 minute FLD RCRDST::FM80PcellorgNSW he mixes location recordings with studio recordings of Cellular Automata playing and sequencing his synths and FX, whereas CPM DRNL is a completely artificial simulation of imaginary space brought to life by his Cellular Automata, and for a strong, if subtle contrast, Lindisfarne Refuge Hut presents real, untreated recordings containing no additives - just the uncannily hyperreal sound of birds, vehicles and the North Sea.
In concept, the recordings live somewhere between Burraston’s unprocessed telephone wire recordings, made with Alan Lamb in his native NSW region for Taiga Records, and the sort of playfully curdled algorithmic results found on his ALG 118B tape; effectively activating his panoramic screen grabs with a sort of rudimentary artificial intelligence so they end up crawling with strange, plasmic figures and fractals in a way that recalls a synaesthetic allegory to Google’s deep dream images. Especially when held up against the vividly textured audness of the untreated third track, it all makes for some of the most compelling, beguiling music we’ve heard this decade.
These are sounds much lesser heard or seen, vividly describing and bringing to life a series of spaces and places with the sense of wonder that we’d imagine was experienced by, and drove, important tonal explorers such as Stockhausen, Gottfried Michael Koenig or Roland Kayn in their respective days, right thru to their modern antecedents in Chris Watson, Autechre or Russell Haswell.
Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds reissues and revives his debut album in form of a special remastered 10th Anniversary edition titled Eulogy For Evolution 2017.
|Following its initial release in 2007 and coinciding with Ólafur’s 30th birthday, label founder Robert Raths gifted the chance for this record to shine a second time.
Eulogy For Evolution is a journey from birth to death, transporting the listener through life itself. Originally written as a teenager, the record has now been restored with the help of his friends, remixed by Ólafur himself and remastered by Nils Frahm. The cover art was redesigned and enhanced by Torsten Posselt at FELD using the original photographs taken by Stuart Bailes during a trip to Ólafur’s home in Iceland in 2007.
To experience the record in the present day is not only to experience the past, but also the sheer timelessness and relevance of these compositions, and the ambition Ólafur has had from the very beginning. “Fast forward 10 years, our relationships and knowledge in sound have matured, but you can still hear this urgency in Óli’s songs that caught my ears to begin with”, states Robert Raths."
The Vinyl version is just the original album, remastered in 2015, overseen by Prince Himself. The 2CD and 3CD editions is where it's at basically, both include a second disc of previously unreleased tracks from the vault which quite frankly is something many of us thought we'd never get to hear outside of dodgy bootleg versions. The 3CD version also includes an extra disc of b-sides and edits, plus a previously unreleased concert filmed in 1985.
2015 Paisley Park Remaster of the original tapes from the soundtrack, presenting an unheard vision of the album overseen by Prince himself before his untimely 2016 passing. The 2nd disc: From The Vault & Unreleased boasts eleven gems unearthed from the heart of Prince’s storied vault. Additionally, all of the material is taken from the source and mastered by Bernie Grundman, the mastering engineer who worked on the original album.
Includes a 2nd sic - From The Vault & Unreleased boasts eleven gems unearthed from the heart of Prince’s storied vault. Six tracks that have never been released or distributed in the collector or bootleg community include: “Possessed” - the ’83 Prince solo version, never heard before; “Electric Intercourse”- the studio version not known to exist before it was discovered at Paisley; “Father’s Song” - a full, five plus minute version that prior to this fans could only find a minute and half snippet of in the movie; “We Can Fuck” - a track that has never circulated as the full, 10 minute version with these lyrics; and “Katrina’s Paper Dolls” - a finished master of the song, which has previously only circulated as a demo. Additionally, all of the material is taken from the source and mastered by Bernie Grundman, the mastering engineer who worked on the original album.
In addition to the Original Album (2015 Paisley Park Remaster) and From The Vault & Unreleased, the Purple Rain Deluxe - Expanded Edition presents a third disc of Single Edits & B-Sides, as well as the concert DVD Prince And The Revolution Live at the Carrier Dome, Syracuse, NY, March 30, 1985. With audio and video restored from the original production master tape, it offers an exclusive vignette into the passion and power of his legendary live performances during one of the artist’s most celebrated eras
First ever presentation of The Lower Depths , Charlemagne Palestine’s epic, systematic 3-part investigation of his trusted Bösendorfer grand’s capacity to produce notes lower than any other piano. Keener observers may have noticed a track called The Lower Depths on his Godbear LP, which was reissued last year by Oren Ambarchi’s Black Truffle, but this set was recorded at his famous red and gold loft on North Moore Street in Tribeca, and predates that recording by some ten years.
Totalling nearly 3 hours of works made over 3 consecutive performances at his loft space, the recordings effectively describe a transition in cadence from the centre of piano’s keyboard in CD1, to a register two octaves below in CD2, finally arriving at its thrumming Lower Depths before dramatically rising back up again in CD3, all offering a raucous, transfixing testament to the man’s genius in stunning full flow.
As Palestine himself refers to the trilogy of pieces as being “like a soap opera… you get your share of tears and laughter… i watch the afternoon ones that aren’t as visionary, keep it real, the yicky ones” you should have some idea of the typical levels of melodrama and emotion that he puts into these works, which while definitely avant and experimental, also work on an immediate and transcendent level meant to be understood and felt by anyone with ears and an empathetic heart.
With pedals pressed for maximum sustain throughout all parts, Palestine wreaks increasingly intense havoc right on the line between ecstasy and violence across the trilogy, coursing from jagged, jabbing flurries and their lushly discordant harmonics in the first, to panic-raising levels by the time he really hits the lower ends in track 2 of Part 2, and then really gunning for the Bösendorfer’s bowels in a jaw-dropping, thunderous descent, then spiralling back up for breath in a manner that may leave listeners with the bends.
Of course, that’s a simple description of the work’s general dynamic, but the nuance lies in the way Palestine can simultaneously bathe us in fire and still give us the chills, baffling the senses with its majestically chaotic yet sublime clangour. If you’re susceptible to the power of his glissandi as much as us, we rate you’ll fall hard into this one.
Sombre solo piano introspection fleshed by strings and subtly gilded with field recordings of a stormy Yorkshire
“Following his celebrated moogmemory project, Matthew Bourne returns to the piano for Isotach. Once again, spontaneity is the keyword where Bourne is concerned, catching on tape that pregnant moment when a piece begins to form.
Skeletal piano motifs, an aching use of space and sparing cello arrangements are deployed to devastating effect. Recorded in his rural Yorkshire home, Bourne’s piano placed to overlook the moors while he works, the album title is a nod to the weather, which played a part in its creation. The recordings took place during what Bourne describes as “extreme weather”. If you listen carefully you can hear the wind and rain picked up on the microphones, the sparse instrumentation providing the calm in the eye of the storm.”
After attending college and getting deeper into computer music, Sam Obey began releasing music as Obey City. The project quickly took off with EPs for LuckyMe, forming the Astro Nautico label with his best friends, multiple tours and collaborating with Kelela and Flatbush Zombies. Now, as Sam O.B., he returns to what his oldest confidants know he’s always had up his sleeve: his voice and his bass guitar.
"‘Positive Noise’, the debut album by Sam O.B., is not a ‘journey of a record’ but it’s also not Party Time USA. It’s nuance; cloud patterns; like good progressive jazz. Like the refinement of refinement, the elegance of elegance. Sound propelled by its own smoothness. A coolness that isn’t cold. The earnestness of an old friend. Expanse. Experimentation. Actual warmth.
Sam O.B. is (and has always been) a man of classics. When you hear the sax on ‘Salt Water’ you’ll understand this ambition with precision. Arpeggiated horn delay and female ‘oohs’ fall like geodesic rain. The blasting synth leads on ‘Midnight Blue’ and ‘Nearness’ waver and find their way. The sing-and-play harmonies of ‘Sirens’ refer to the stunning bliss of smooth jazz, which has been in Sam’s arsenal of interests for longer than anyone can remember.
‘Positive Noise’ also has a strong anchoring in the thick pulsing rhythmic stylings of 70s and 80s disco and funk grooves. Sam is a dedicated vinyl collector, having curated DJ residencies around NYC (Hot Sounds Island, Astro Nautico, The Lot) that practically worshipped smooth jams."
An amazing selection of works by American composer Robert Ashley, Alga Marghen's release The Wolfman compiles tape music from 1957 to 1964.
The earliest composition is 'The Fox' a stuttering, half-broken recording of a story being read out with a creepy delivery by Ashley. The broken tape sequences are somehow tinted by darkness - a fragmented, discordant flow of sound that can barely prepare the listener for 1964's 'The Wolfman', a scouringly ferocious noise piece that rivals anything you'd hear in modern times from Wolf Eyes, Prurient or even Merzbow.
It's just incredible, and almost impossible to place within the wider context of music being made in sixties America - you really have to hear it. As an accompaniment, 'The Wolfman Tape' takes away the vocal elements of the recording, resulting in a more subdued collage excursion. Finally comes the three-quarter-hour piece 'The Bottleman', conceived as a soundtrack to a George Manupelli film. This hollowed out drone work is a deeply subtle exploration of tonality, quietly plotting out a tundra-like sonic plain with an eerie sense of harmonic fluctuation.
It's a breathtakingly good conclusion to an album that reveals a visionary figure in electronic music - one you may never have encountered previously, but whose output should be regarded as being of immense historical value. Very highly recommended.
Immersive, transporting and deeply arresting music from the revered autodidact and audio oddity. If you've never encountered Ghedalia before, this is an excellent place to start, welcoming you to a whole other world of exotic, electro and acoustic sounds, composed between 1979 and 1987 according to a genuinely far reaching and individual agenda.
"More than 5 years after the CD edition of Eclipse totale de soleil and Transportes, Alga Marghen finally decided to also reissue the first and forth LP by Ghedalia Tazartes including both on one CD. Ghedalia Tazartes is a nomad.
He wanders through music from chant to rhythm, from one voice to another. He paves the way for the electric and the vocal paths, between the muezzin psalmody and the screaming of a rocker. He traces vague landscapes where the mitre of the white clown the plumes of the sorcerer, the helmet of a cop and Parisian anhydride collide into polyphonic ceremonies… The greatest trips were made in the deep end of the throat: the extra-European music open the ear to Ghedalia's intra-European exotism. Where was music before music halls? Where was the voice before it learned how to speak? Ghedalia is the orchestra and a pop group all in one person: the self is multitude and others.
The author and his doubles work without a net, freely connecting the sounds, the rhythms, his voice, his voices. The permanent metamorphosis is a principle of composition, it escapes control, refuses classification. To hell with the technocrates of noise and the purists of synthetic culture. All art like all true mythology use a double clavier, playing nature and culture, feeling and the distance of the flesh, death. Off limits!"
Polymath James Leyland Kirby must surely have one of the most confounding CV’s in the business...
He spent years taking the piss out of the music industry with anthems rallying against the (VV)MCPS, he notoriously fell out with various well known record labels for reasons you’ll just have to google, goaded Aphex Twin with a series of ‘tributes’ and channelled his love of everything from Falco (Rock Me Amadeus), Chris De Burgh, Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Stockport karaoke nights into a stream of increasingly bizzare 7”s back in the early noughties. But at the same time he was responsible for releasing some of the very earliest material from Boards of Canada (Hell Interface: 1997), made a ruck of frankly groundbreaking industrial electronic records, brought New Beat to the world’s attention and, in 1999, made his first album as The Caretaker, a project that would go on to release some of the most loved Ambient/ Lynchian albums of recent times.
Since then he’s also produced an incredible suite of releases under his own name, scored various film projects and released three EP’s under the ‘Intrigue & Stuff’ banner which are, for our money, so ahead of their time they might just start sinking in properly by the end of the decade. All of which brings us to ‘Watching Dead Empires in Decay’, a new album recorded under another of Kirby’s pseudonyms ‘The Stranger’ and released on Modern Love, a label that has been close to Kirby through these last eventful 15 years. It’s a dream album for the label: perhaps the most ambitious of Kirby’s career so far. It’s complex, singular, enigmatic, percussive, dark, and you just can’t work out how it was constructed.
Gone are the sampled 78’s of The Caretaker, but it also doesnt exactly sound electronic - you just can’t quite fathom how any of it was put together: Field Recordings? Found Sounds? Sheets of metal scraped and hammered? Drum machines re-wired? It’s stark and unsettling, haunted, even troubling - but often just beautiful. It starts with the sharp clang of opener ‘We Are Enemies But Not Here’ before the woozy percussive crawl ‘So Pale It Shone In The Night’ sucks you into a bare landscape: somewhere between Eraserhead and Fumio Hayasaka’s music for Akira Kurosawa.
And then there are moments that break through the tension with clarity and familiarity, nostalgia even: ‘Where Are Our Monsters Now, Where Are Our Friends?’ could have been made by Boards of Canada if they had taken a turn into more noxious terrain back in 1998, while ‘Spiral Of Decline’ offsets the drum programming you’d most likely associate with a Powell record with an oblique sense of timing and space. It all ends with ‘About To Enter A Strange New Period’, an unusual, vaporous coda that offers no resolution - it just shuts proceedings down with nothing settled.
Bewildering and brilliant freeform rock, jazz, and cut-up tape music from 1979 by a would-be collaborator with NWW - included on their legendary list! RIYL Ghedalia Tazartes!
"Released in 1979 in a limited edition on his own d'Avantage label, Catalogue, with its overt theatricality is every bit as wild as the previous Paralleles. Not really jazz, not rock, having nothing to do with contemporary music either, Catalogue is a kind of sonic postcard which features not the group of the same name but instead numerous Berrocal associates including Potage (co-founder of the d'Avantage label in 1976), Parle, Ferlet, Pauvros and recording engineer Daniel Deshays, plus many musicians from the French underground collective scene of the 1970s.
Not content with manhandling a toy piano on 'Tango' (which features mind-blowing accordion from Parle), abusing an arsenal of instruments including saw blades, pistols, shower attachment and even gingerbread, Berrocal pushes his own voice way over the edge on 'Incontrolablslaooo' and 'Faits Divers,' moving from a 60-a-day smoker's cough to a terrifying sequence of gargles and vomits. The grungy free rock of 'No More Dirty Bla Blaps,' the Portsmouth Sinfonia-like spoof Dixieland of 'Rideau,' the distressing punk of 'Signe Particulier' and all manner of fields recordings and cut-ups in Berrocal's Artaudian theatre style, combining the excesses of glam and punk cold-wave to post-1968 Situationist perspective. With the same creative attitude documented through the mythic d'Avantage label (1976-1979)
Berrocal later accumulated an extensive archive of unreleased recordings, some of which finally surface now on this new edition. Catalogue represents the most experimental and complex of Berrocal's records, as historical as contemporary modern, classic and at the same time as fresh and strange as if it had been recorded last week. During the same year Steven Stapleton frequently travelled to Paris to meet Jaques Berrocal and discuss a possible collaboration. In 1980, Berrocal travelled to London with his pocket trumpet and Tibetan oboe and recorded with Stapleton, Heman Patak and John Fothergill on NWW's second album, but that's another story."
Éphémère I & II' (for tape, or to be played with various instruments) are two previously unpublished masterpieces which represent a very specific moment in the creative life and catalogue of Luc Ferrari.
"Luc Ferrari was tempted in the mid-1970s by the idea of leaving the final realization of these pieces open to the performer's intervention (a perspective he decided not to develop in future researches). 'Exercises d'Improvisation', a score conceived in 1977 and unreleased for almost 35 years (first recorded this year by the GOL collective with Brunhild Meyer-Ferrari for an LP to be issued on PLANAM), directly comes from the two works presented here. Éphémère I' (or 'L'ordinateur ça sert à quoin?' i.e. 'What's the use of computers') is a 27 minute piece for tape only, created in 1974, conceived as a kind of electronic drone superimposed by fragments of multi-language whispered voices that creates the thrilling effect of a 'sea-like' continuum.
Éphémère II' (or 'Lyon 75' after the only recorded realization) is a 51 minute tape piece with guitar improvisation. The electronic repetitive structure reminds some of the most radical works of American composer Terry Riley, while the guitar sounds, first resulting as live manipulated pointillistic impulses, develop into a blues sonority superimposing the tape drone and creating a heavy psychedelic atmosphere of the most sublime kind.
The end of this long suite lead us back into more abstract and live-electronic sonorities. This very intense work can be placed in a context between scored music and totally improvised music. First press limited to 500 copies in tri-folded digipack sleeve. Please note: these 2 previously unpublished pieces revealing a hidden part of Luc Ferrari poetics are not included in the INA 10CD boxset. Only available on this CD edition."
Captivating avant-garde pieces layering a recording of a solo piano recital with field recording of a storm
"Utopia Andata e Ritorno is the title of the new composition by Walter Marchetti, recorded in Milano in 2005. It has two parts, each one CD long. The first part, 'L'Andata,' puts together two former recordings of Marchetti. The recording of a real storm and a recital for solo piano. This is not the first time that Marchetti mixes a piano solo recital with the recording of a natural live event, thus creating a 'piano concert'.
The second CD, 'Il Ritorno', reverses the direction of the first record and literally destroys itself. In the first part of this work, Marchetti puts music successfully in the place it has to have today: on the road to renewal in contact with reality, a reality that is a synonym for vacuity, that is the interdependence of phenomena, music, reality, technology. There is nothing mimetic or anecdotal in this work. The storm is a real storm and the solo piano recital is a modern work of pure music, without the excesses that the society expects of a piano recital from composer and virtuoso player. Pure music, in the best sense of the word. 'L'Andata' is one of the great works of music of our time, or, as José Luis Castillejo remarked, 'it may be the best modern piano concert since Brahms.' In the second part, 'Il Ritorno,' sound waves are deformed when one tries a reverse hearing and the turn around trip becomes an aural nightmare.
Of course, avant-gardism has made us accustomed to noises and silences and to the arbitrary idea that anything is music. 'Il Ritorno' announces the end of musical avant-gardism and its technocratic aspirations. It points to the end of music avant-gardism because it exposes the technological manipulation not only of technology beyond its powers, but also the manipulation of both music and sound. 'Il Ritorno' is such a problematic work also because its subject is failure and impossibility."
One of Charlemagne Palestine's best-known works, "Four Manifestations On Six Elements". "Two Perfect Fifths, A Major Third Apart, Reinforced Twice" (1973) is an electronic piece that deals with the search for the essence of timbre, sound color, through exploration of the inert chemical activity in the overtone series of tone fundamentals.
"In this genre of his work Palestine feels akin to a kind of sound alchemist - blending elements over and over again through the years searching for the Golden Sound - the essence of the chord or harmonic structure itself. In "One + Two + Three Perfect Fifths, In The Rhythm 3 Against 2, for Piano" (1973) the elements introduced are now elaborated upon on the piano.
The resonant Bösendorfer allows Palestine to create a more lively and complex variation of tones, intervals, overtones and rhythms. "One Fifth" evolves by reinforcing the fundamentals of a fifth with their higher octave. Each performance of this work is different as Palestine reinterprets these simple elements listening within them for variations of amplitude, mixture and inertia at the moment of the performance. "One + Two Fifths" deals with the way a rhythmic sonority sounds when the sustain pedal of the piano in not used, thus focusing on its rhythmic aspect. Gradually by adding the sustain pedal the external rhythmic pattern begins to internalize becoming an inert part of the whole tymbral fabric - a piece expressing the battle of rhythm versus timbre for dominance.
In "One + Two + Three" a third fifth is added - variations of melody and sonority reinforcements culminating in a rhythmic deceleration process ending the work."