Ital Tek re-emerges with ‘Bodied’, his 6th album of sci-fi electronic scaping, with an increasing emphasis on the sci-fi part, and more sparing, spacious use of rhythm. make sure to check for highlights in the escalating energy of ‘Hymnal’, the teetering sound design of ‘Lithic’, and the staggered fulminations of ‘Bodied’
“Ital Tek's 'Bodied' is the follow up to his acclaimed 2016 album 'Hollowed'. Stepping in a different direction from that album, It’s as if Hollowed's detailed world has been fleshed out and filled with the spectre of human voices.
As on his last album, the sounds on 'Bodied' are highly designed, but this time barely a whisper of dance music remains. Instead it's built around acoustic elements and ghostly choral arrangements, refracted and transformed into atmospheric, alien forms which are given the time to settle and transform. Rhythm is used only as a tool to give his world a sense of dark, mechanical momentum.
Alan explains; "After completing 'Hollowed' I had over a year away from writing any of my own material. I was working, composing music for a video game and a number of different projects. I needed to find a way back in and I rediscovered the joy of music being a release as opposed to a job. I was getting up really early and sketching out lots of ideas very fast, squeezing in quick bursts of writing at the beginning or end of long studio day spent working on other musical projects."
"It was important for me to define the world that the album was going to inhabit before taking it any further, so I put a much greater focus into the sound design and palette than I had before. I wanted to make the music sound very physical, geometric, and monolithic, as if it inhabited a physical space."
"On 'Bodied' the music focuses on the interplay between the minuscule and the vast, beauty and brutalism. With this album I was much more concerned with dynamics and the discipline of holding tension; the use of space and silence to provide a counterpoint to the intensity."
"Most importantly, I was keen for there to be a human acoustic foundation, so I did a lot of live recording of cello, violin, harp and guitar - anything I could get my hands on. I was certain that I wanted there to be a greater vocal presence - nothing lyrical or at the forefront but to give it an underlying organic quality - to impart some humanity into the music."
As Ital Tek moves further from his roots, he's creating new sounds and spaces in which his music can exist. It's up to the listener to decide what kind of world 'Bodied' evokes, but it's certainly one that's beautiful and rewarding to spend time in.”
Thomas Ankersmit, last seen on a pair of excellent albums for PAN and Touch (in 2011 and 2014, respectively) pays tribute to legendary Dutch composer / electronic and tape music pioneer Dick Raaijmakers with an extended study in electronic music, utilising Serge Modular feedback and sine/pulse/random generators, contact mic, and tape speed variation to mirror some of Raaijmakers’ deeply weird experiments. As the label so eloquently explain - despite the abstract nature of the material, a sense of loss somehow pervades.
Raaijmakers is a genuinely legendary figure in the history of electronic music, and Thomas Ankersmit’s fitting homage lands almost five years to the date of his passing, aged 83, in September 2013. Replete with experiments with sounds not found in the music, but generated by the listener’s own ear as a strange side-effect, this extended piece re-contextualizes Raaijmakers’ ideas about composition and spatial experience to focus on the sounds of raw electricity through creatively abused electronics, composing with analogue micro-sounds, and the three-dimensional sound fields; referencing storms, thunder, crashing and falling objects, and distant radio transmissions.
The concept of the recording is directly inspired by Raaijmakers’ thoughts on “holophonic” sound fields to be individually explored by the listener. With this phenomenon, the listener’s inner ears actively generate sounds that don’t exist in the recorded signal, and which can change with a small movement of the head. In other words; it’s unlikely that you will experience this piece of music in quite the same way as anyone else, or that you will experience it that way more than once. And it’s perhaps this sense of transience; of not quite knowing whether what you’re listening to has a real, physical presence, or is a direct result of strange otoacoustic phenomena, that imbues this work with such unexplained melancholy.
Listening to music borne out of conceptual curiosity, it's rare to suddenly find yourself staring into space, thinking about time, about the intangible essence of experience and beauty, of life itself. Homage To Dick Raaijmakers is an exceptional recording; approach with patience and care.
Supersilent maestro Arve Henriksen yields a proper release of his haunting suite, ‘The Height of the Reeds’, originally commissioned for a sound walk over the Humber bridge in Hull. In its play of scale, scope, and its balance of quietly fraught tension and epic symphonic gestures, this one is another masterpiece in Arve’s huge oak cabinet...
“"The Height Of The Reeds" started as a commissioned work to the city of Hull, Great Britain´s cultural capital 2017. Composed by Arve Henriksen, Eivind Aarset and Jan Bang, the work celebrates the longstanding seafaring relationship between Hull and Scandinavia. It was originally the musical companion to a sound walk that took place in April, May and June 2017.
Those who took part could listen to the music on headphones while crossing the Humber Bridge. Initially intended for April only, the arrangement proved so popular it ended up with selling out three months, a total of 15.000 tickets. This beautifully evocative music can now be experienced through this release, where only minor adjustments have been done to justify the transition from sound walk to album. It´s an exquisite addition to Arve Henriksen´s large and fast growing discography, and sits perfectly well with his popular Jan Bang contributions "Chiaroscuro" (2004) and "Places Of Worship" (2013).”
Factory Benelux presents a deluxe edition of Without Mercy, the fourth studio album by cult Manchester group The Durutti Column, originally issued in 1984 and widely regarded as Vini Reilly’s most ambitious album.
"In 1983 Durutti Column mentor/manager Tony Wilson asked Vini Reilly to abandon fleeting guitar miniatures in favour of a long-form modern classical piece. The result was an ambitious 20 minute instrumental suite, Without Mercy, performed by core Durutti duo Vini Reilly and Bruce Mitchell along with Blaine L. Reininger and John Metcalfe (violas), Caroline Lavelle (cello), Tim Kellett (trumpet) and Maunagh Fleming (cor anglais).
Explains Vini: “Tony had just come in for a conversation one day and said, ‘Look, you keep making these albums that you want to make, and I’m quite happy with you doing that, but just give me this one album and do it my way.’ He wanted it to have a narrative determined by a Keats poem, La Belle Dame Sans Merci, which he said was the poet’s version of a pop song: boy meets girl, falls in love with girl, loses girl, blah blah blah. It was a very, very Tony way of looking at it. He had aspirations that I should be taken seriously.”
Produced by Reilly and Wilson at Strawberry Studio and Britannia Row, Without Mercy was originally split into 19 separate stanzas, some of which have now been restored using digital cue points on the CD. Bonus tracks include the original recordings of Duet, Estoril a Noite and Favourite Descending Intervals (all re-worked for inclusion on Without Mercy), as well as companion EP Say What You Mean, Mean What You Say, collaborations with John Metcalfe, Steven Brown and Benjamin Lew, and two previously unreleased live sets across Discs 3 and 4, recorded at London School of Economics in December 1984 and Oslo in December 1986."
Carsten Nicolai’s Noton present a masterclass in minimalist electronic discipline with Mika Vainio, Ryoji Ikeda + Alva Noto’s powerfully future-proofed Live 2002 performance, recorded at Newcastle’s Baltic arts centre.
The only known recording of the trio, as far as we’re aware, Live 2002 documents three visionary artists in seamless, indivisible collaboration segueing from sublime drone darkness (Movements 1) thru what sounds like a massive computer server centre playing dancehall (Movements 2 + 4), to fiercely dense electro dynamics (Movements 6) and passages of purest, rolling techno pressure (Movements 8), intercut with bodiless, beatless electronic frequency massages.
Being familiar with each artist’s respective, individual catalogues, we’re pretty astonished at the level of democratic control between the three singular producers. While it’s maybe possible (or pedantic) to pick out who’s doing what, and where and when, ultimately the 45 minute performance is a lesson in subtlety and restraint at the service of generating powerful, coolly organised pressure systems, without recourse to convention/cliché (delete as applicable), offering electronic sounds at the purest and perhaps even egoless. Definitely no grandstanding doofus in front of a massive IPhone screen filtering dull as fuck doofs here.
In ‘New Hymn To Freedom’ Luke Abbott, Laurence Pike and Jack Wylie follow their 3rd eye to iridescent uplands of jazz and psychedelic electronics...
“Sometimes in improvised music there can be a distance between listener and players, a sense you’re sitting back and admiring their interplay and abstraction – but with Szun Waves’ second album, you’re right in there with them, inside the playing, experiencing the absolute joy the three musicians feel as they circle around each other, exploring the spaces they’ve opened up.
The three members already have sparkling pedigrees of their own. Norfolk’s Luke Abbott is well known for his explorations of the zones between pure ambience and the leftmost fringes of club culture. With Portico Quartet and Circle Traps, Jack Wyllie has been in the vanguard of UK fusions of jazz, classical and club music. Australian drummer Laurence Pike has likewise found a unique voice in improvised and experimental music-making, whether in the bands Triosk or PVT, or as a solo artist.
The trio’s musical relationship has grown naturally and steadily, and it shows. From Wyllie adding shimmering sustained sax notes to Abbott’s gorgeous ambient pieces in 2013, Szun Waves emerged when Pike was added to the mix, energising the sound but still keeping its levitational qualities. Their 2016 self-released debut album hit a natural groove – it was a “proof of concept” as Abbott says – and now they’re in a place of pure spontaneity: New Hymn To Freedom is a document of six entirely live improvisations – “no edits or overdubs” – and its title couldn’t be more apt.”
Mogwai cast their best middle distance gaze on their soundtrack for Jonathan and Josh Baker’s ‘KIN’, starring Zoë Kravitz, Hames Franco and Dennis Quaid
“Scotland’s Mogwai are not only legendary experimental rock icons, but also well-established soundtrack titans – sound sculptors behind an impressive spectrum of cinematic releases (both full soundtracks and contributions): Including their last film soundtrack, Atomic (2016), there's been consistent acclaim through Michael Mann's Miami Vice (2006), The Fountain (2006, collaborating with Clint Mansell and Kronos Quartet), Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait (2007), Amnesty International's PEACE project (2010), international hit French TV series Les Revenants (2013), and Leonardo DiCaprio's climate change documentary Before The Flood (2016) alongside soundtrack Oscar-winners Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.
The staggeringly prolific force that is Mogwai return less than a year after their standout new album, Every Country’s Sun, to provide the soundtrack to the anticipated, acclaimed new sci-fi major motion picture, KIN. Like their beloved soundtracks to Atomic and Les Revenants, KIN uses the band’s original score as the genesis and point of departure for an expanded, fully developed album of new songs. KIN is cinematic maximalism and synth-rock minimalism delivered with the signature introspective grace that has defined and refined Mogwai’s decades-long reputation.”
The Great Lake Swallows is a collaboration between Canadian cellist Julia Kent and Belgian guitarist/tape machine manipulator Jean D.L.
"Recorded in Charleroi, Belgium in 2015 during a video installation with Sandrine Verstraete, the music was created using field recordings, processed guitar and cello and serves as a soundtrack to the video of the same name.
The album is an aching, ambient wonderland that ensues beauty at every turn. It was built as a whole and, indeed, should be consumed as a whole. The repetition is hypnotising, a lulling sense of calm entwined in hints of unease that flows seamlessly in and out of sleepy melodies and broken drones. Unfolding over a brief twenty-six minutes, The Great Lake Swallows cannot out-stay its welcome. Everything contained within feels necessary, each movement informing the next, a conversation between two outstanding musicians.”
Hauntingly beautiful nocturnes from Keith Kenniff (Goldmund) in Helios mode. Modest yet rich with moments of heart-rending majesty, ‘Veriditas’ is yet another immaculate late night LP worthy of comparison with Kenniff’s earlier releases for Type.
“On respective edges of America — Oregon and Maine — Keith Kenniff records quiet music at night. “When things are calmer,” he says. “My mind is less distracted when I know that everything is dark outside.” For over a decade, such has been the mode — nocturnal, unrushed, using the same mini-cassette recorder, "a lovely little imperfect way to treat sounds" — for one of the country’s most understated composers. Kenniff has housed dozens of ambient releases under the name Helios since 2004, alongside post-classical output as Goldmund, shoegaze pop with his wife Hollie as Mint Julep, and commissions for film and television. It is a reliably transportive body of work that's earned Kenniff a cult following, and a genuine modesty that’s kept him on the fringes, right where he prefers, in the dark.
Veriditas introduces unusual shapes and landscapes to the Helios catalog. Whereas past songs have followed traditional structures — discernable bell curves with beginnings, arcs, and ends — the focus here is texture and harmony. "I wanted to explore emotionality within something more static." Synth-tones radiate and hum as vignettes, often crisp and cloudless, other times smeared to a queasy Boards of Canada-like unease. The latter burbles below the last moments of "Eventually" and looms over the opener "Seeming" like darkness inching across a forest. Tracks cease at will. "Seeming" fades just after a sliver of light cuts through the mossy pillars. "Latest Lost" mists for just one minute. "Row The Tide" for two, hovering like a helium balloon lost to the horizon. "Even Today" hangs above the snowcaps, suspended in an upper arboreal sequence, as shimmering surges of static trace the treetops below.
Moments on Veriditas pass quickly, but as a series of moments, they are fluid, almost regenerative. Disassembling the album by instruments is difficult. Unlike past Helios work, there is no percussion. The one straightforward use of guitar appears on the ambling "Upward Beside The Gale," strummed solemnly as if over end credits, watching the greenery lapse to grey in the twilight. In the second half of “Dreams,” crystalline piano chords converse with washes of orchestral notes and deep drone, advancing towards temporal clarity, a lookout point, that once presented evaporates.
In a way, Veriditas parallels the path of the Helios project to date: patient, immense, and wondrous without ostentation. Kenniff continues to find a soothing and centering quality in his craft. Aligned with Hildegard von Bingen’s philosophy, Kenniff looks towards sound, like many do to nature, for momentary vigor, for elemental and nourishing prolificacy. Here, in pursuit of viriditas, with precise textures and harmonies, he humbly extends that verdant expression outward, wide and pliable.”
Adrian Utley (Portishead) and Will Gregory Goldfrapp)’s score to the forthcoming ‘Arcadia’, a film from BAFTA winning director Paul Wright and released by The BFI.
"Two tracks - ‘Lowlands’ and ‘Bonny Boy’ - are by the legendary Folk singer Anne Briggs, with musical arrangement by Utley and Gregory behind. The pair’s score takes influence from a wide range of genres, marrying classical and folk styles with more experimental electronic elements and even punk.
This will appeal to fans of the pair’s previous score work in ‘The Passion Of Joan Of Arc’, along with the pair’s solo work in Portishead and Goldfrapp. It will also appeal to fans of recent composers such as Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross, Cliff Martinez and Clint Mansell."
Two previously unreleased and stellar soundtracks by Parmegiani’s for avant-garde films finally surface on Switzerland’s WRWTFWWR, sourced from the original reels, and neatly packed together in a gatefold sleeve double LP with English and French liner notes.
Pressed from original tapes and containing the soundtracks for Pierre Kast films, ‘les soleils de l’île de pâques’  and ‘la brûlure de mille soleils’ , this set neatly expands the number of Parmegiani’s film soundtracks now available on vinyl following the recent edition of ‘Rock (Band Originale du Film’, and, before that, a Recollection GRM reissue of his ‘L'Œil Écoute’ (The Eye Hears) soundtrack, and a number of unofficial reissues of his work via New England Electric Music Company.
As illustrated thru the music and the accompanying text by Parmegiani, written in 1989, the two respective works are captivating examples of the pivotal concrète and electro-acoustic maestro’s methodical, logical approach to his work, highlighting fundamental, inseparable connections between perceptions of visual and aural cultures.
In Parmegiani’s own words: “Music, like film, needs duration to be totally understood. One and the other use common words to elaborate their own editing: transitions, fade-outs. There is, therefore, a little bit of cinema for ears in music. But could one not say reciprocally that there’s been a little music in the images? (for the ears!).”
The results precisely connote their subject, with stacks of far-out, hallucinatory gestures and cues reflecting the supernatural and occult themes of Pierre Kast’s sci-fi ‘les soleils de l’île de pâques’, whilst the score for its predecessor ‘la brûlure de mille soleils’ is farther out, full of mad jews harp twangs, disco-ready synth arps and droning choral work tie in with their theme - a bizarre short film, edited by Chris Marker (‘La Jetée’) about a depressed millionaire poet, his cat Marcel and a sign language robot, who travel time in search of love.
The master of breezy but heavyweight modern soul smackers, Devonte Hynes a.k.a Blood Orange’ racks up a terrific follow-up to his ‘Freetown Sound’  LP, loaded with guest spots from Puff Daddy, A$AP Rocky and Georgia Anne Muldrow, a.o., but undoubtedly revolving Hynes as the star of his own show
Where ‘Freetown Sound’ found Hynes singing from his parents’ perspective, its follow-up comes from Hynes’ formative experience growing up in England, rendering, in his own words; “an exploration into my own and many types of black depression, an honest look at the corners of black existence, and the ongoing anxieties of queer/people of color.”
Instant standouts step forth in the deftly rugged swang of ‘Chewing Gum’ feat. A$AP Rocky and Project Pat, as well as the the fusion of ‘90s R&B and adroit soul-jazz touches in ‘Saint’; the jiggy but tender R&B of ‘Runnin’’ with Neo-soul queen Georgia Anne Muldrow; and the killer Linn drum programming on ‘Out Of Your League’; but it’s really sculpted for seamless, absorbed listening in one sitting.
Kompakt’s ‘Total’ series comes of age with an 18th edition featuring 25 vocal-heavy and disco-ready tracks of minimal techno and tech-house from friends and family.
Standout moments come from Tom Demac & Real Lies, with the gentle ecstasy of ‘White Flowers’ sounding like Underworld meets The Streets; a sharp cut electro-house winner from John Tejada in ‘Detector’; the tight electro-trance mission of ‘Crasher’ by Rex The Dog’; the effortless acid techno glyde of ‘Hidden Beauties’ by Anna; some swaggering techno by the Voigt bros; and a squashed acid floater from Ghost Vision, ‘Zulu Passage’.
Big boned house from the Marquis of Hawkes, including guest vocals by Ursula Rucker and Jamie Lidell
Ursula Rucker lends a touch of class to the velveteen pads and greased up square bass of ‘Don’t U’, and Jamie Lidell does a keen croon thing with the blithe sentiments of ‘We Should Be Free’.
Listen out for highlights in the slow, blue, Twin Peaks-gone-deep house vibe of ‘The Matrix’, a smart touch of acid in ‘Hope In Our Hearts’, and the dutty pump of ’Tough Love’.
Hot off the heels of the beautiful "Obsolete Machines" [Stage Two] Gatefold LP set just released, Radius's cassette demo restoration project returns to form with the "Interpolation Tapes" series.
"The original source tapes had aged, warped and degraded and as a result we've preserved the best segments, sampled and reprocessed with a vintage prophet 2000 sampler, studio 440 and various Linn samplers to add depth and range to the original source material. We've spent nearly an entire year restoring and interpolating over 100 hours of music, processing sound and redesigning the blueprints of this long forgotten project. Every track was originally recorded down to an old Tascam 688, an 8 track cassette recorder purchased and abused since 1992 and to our ears still sounds quite impressive even by modern standards. Radius's "Interpolation Tapes" (Restoration Two) is the second part in a series of three releases featuring unreleased material culled from the vault of the long out of print Radius project, an ageless analog tapestry of sound.
This release features 8 tracks (2 of which are featured on the beautiful "Obsolete Machines" [Stage Two] vinyl LP), revisited and restored from analog cassette tapes with recordings conducted from 1994-2001 with nothing but analog/digital hardware. The original source tapes had aged, warped and degraded and as a result we've preserved the best segments, sampled and reprocessed them into an entirely new sonic spectrum. It's been a truly nostalgic experience re-visiting and re-arranging these masters, regardless of the time passed, there's so much depth and organic movement, it nearly breathes in slow motion. When considering the limitations of hardware in the era these were recorded, they've truly aged like a fine wine. From our hearts to yours."
Tim Hecker’s bittersweet 2nd album, his introduction to many listeners, comes back around on vinyl for the first time in 15 years (with his debut LP, ‘Haunt Me, Haunt Me Do It Again’ in succession)
Yielding all the shimmering tingles, washed out textures and coruscating sensations his fans have come to know and adore, ‘Radio Amor’ remains a burning highlight of the Canadian artist’s oeuvre, which now includes some 10 albums and as many other EPs and such, most notably in modern classics such as ‘Ravedeath, 1972’ and a collaborative album with Daniel “0PN” Lopatin. However, with hindsight, it’s possible to say that none of them cut quite as deeply or linger in the memory quite so indelibly as this one..