Nearly 10 years have elapsed since Maxine Cyrin’s bougie modern classical covers album Novö Piano.
He’s mostly spent the last decade on Facebook and playing Xbox, but recently found time to pen a part II, here including covers of the most annoying tune of the ‘90s, Rob D’s Clubbed To Death, long with his takes on The Cure (A Forest), Soundgarden (Black Hole Sun), Björk (Hyperballad), and Van Halen (Jump). Aye, you really need that last one.
Expansive new opus by one of the world’s leading film soundtrack composers...
“Cycles 7-16 is a natural progression from Matt Dunkley’s deubt solo album, Six Cycles, released on Village Green in 2016. Like the debut, it was recorded in Berlin with the German Film Orchestra Babelsberg. With this album, however, Matt pushed himself further, expanding his writing horizons.
As well as being almost double the length, this album boasts a broader sonic palette than its predecessor, such as the full symphony orchestra on ‘Cycle 12’ or the seven solo pianos used on ‘Cycle 14’. On others, Matt returns to his classical roots, using a string chamber orchestra on ‘Cycle 11’ and ‘Cycle 16’.
Touring and travelling over the last two years, influences arose from spending time in different cities and places. The wintry, tense ‘Cycle 7’ was inspired by an early morning in Berlin, while ‘Cycle 15’ was written whilst on a conducting trip to Norway.”
From dubstep prodigy to spiritual deep house lord of the big rooms, Skream’s done it all.
Now he adds a Fabriclive mix to his teak-effect cabinet of Dubstepforum trophies, running the gamut of swanging, tribal-ish house from Hieroglyphic Being, Sarathy Korwar & Shabaka Hutchings’s Ashrams to tech-house polka from Alexkid, fidget jack from Jon Rundell, a tribal filter house nod to Arthur ‘Artwork’ Smith in Ode To Arthur, alongside the real thing in Santos Rodriguez’s Untitled B2, plus the gospel techno of Floorplan, pure dodgy trance house from Greg Venezia, and token electro tracks by Steve Murphy and LA Synthesis.
Chicago Ghetto House staple Jana Rush delivers a properly rugged debut album of footwork on Lara-Rix Martin’s Objects Limited.
Notably entering the world of DJing at age 10, and making her first productions only 3 years later - some of which ended up on Dance Mania alongside DJ Deeon - Jana’s recent tilt into footwork, documented on the warped, febrile designs of her MPC 7635 EP as JARu in 2016, places her not only as one of the scene’s few female operators, but also one of its rudest and most idiosyncratic.
Pariah is Jana’s first longform statement and it bangs from every angle. percolating stammering vocals on lip-bitingly tight typewriter beats, Midline Shift gets it going with a style comparable to the headier oddness of Jlin and the stripped fundamentals of RP Boo in a mutable aesthetic which informs each part of the album, variously flipping from hardass pressure in the slicing tessellations of Beat Maze to floating, chords-driven lushness in Divine and the levitating structure of Chill Mode, but also tending to Chicago’s jazz and spiritual music roots with the hyperventilating flute chops of ??? ??? and the soul-infused belter Old Skool.
However, the big highlights for us appear in the super tuff clench of Break It and Rapid Fire, where she’s not afraid to strip it right to the bone, and likewise the two freaky af 303 turns, namely No Fuks Given and Acid Tek 2, before it all comes together in staggering, lush form with the jungle/juke throw down Frenetic Snare at the LP’s close.
Factory Benelux highlight Vini Reilly’s acclaimed fusions of guitars and electronics circa 1987’s The Guitar and Other Machines Deluxe with remastered expansion of the original LP including his Live At The Bottom Line New York and a bonus disc of Related Works including the rare, Italy-only Greetings 3 EP.
The Guitar and Other Machines Deluxe was produced by Stephen Street, who’s maybe best known as a longtime producer/co-writer for Morrissey, and also features Reilly’s longtime associates Bruce Mitchell and viola player John Metcalfe.
It was written in response to a christmas present of “a load of electronic instruments” from Tony Wilson to Vini Reilly, who remarked at the time “I never dreamt of getting into this electronic thing, and I struggled and fought and stayed up til half seven in the morning and really worked on it. I know that Tony’s got this vision and I persevered. And I found a way of using a sequencer that isn’t like New Order – it’s my way, and it’s my music."
The results make one of Reilly’s most precious recordings, with highlights cascading from the front with Arpeggiator, thru the meditative hash haze of Jongleur Grey, to elegant wonder such as English Landscape Tradition and particularly the three bonus tracks from original CD release, notably the pulsating 28 Oldham Street (location of the now-boarded-up Dry Bar) and the delicate mingle of acoustic and electronic tones in Catos con Guantes.
As if proving his workings out for the album, you can also hear many of the album tracks played on Live in New York 10/1986 plus later recordings made at WOMAD 1988, while the Related Works disc holds some real gems in the spine-freezing styles of Vini’s Greetings 3 EP, especially his guitar and viola duet with John Metcalfe, All That Love And Maths Can Do.
On its 10th anniversary, Italians Do It Better dial up Glass Candy’s I Always Say Yes for an expanded reissue, now packing no less than three new songs along with the original, dry-iced disco of the title cut and their cover of dark Day’s The Chameleon.
The extended original and chunkier Drumm Edit are chased by the crepuscular horror movie drill feels of Where Time Is Still on the front, backed with the Jean-Michel Jarre vibes of City Lights, their exquisite cover of Chameleon, and an unmissable cinematic synth panorama called Sanctuary.
Avant-garde Japanese vocalist Phew follows her sublime Light Sleep for Mesh Key with this album of purely vocal works combining extended vocal technique with Dadaist sound poetry and complex, alien electronic processing.
Voice Hardcore a deeply strange and surreal listening experience, which flits a fine line between real, natural recordings and their warped reflections, gauging a wide space for free expression and, by turns, interpretation, which requires no understanding of the Japanese language in order to grasp its otherworldly beauty.
RIYL Kurt Schwitters, Toru Takemitsu, Joan La Barbara.
Trevor Jackson reveals hitherto unheard ambient aspects of his hip hop/breakbeat alias The Underdog with Y.O.U, his “lost” album as FROM, produced over 1994-1997 and initially intended for release between his production for UK hip hop crew The Brotherhood’s Elementalz  LP, and the debut Playgroup album in 2001.
Night blue instrumental post rock, jazz and electronica from old Berlin faves Dictaphone, recapturing the isolated vibes of their City Centre Offices releases on a 1st slab for Denovali - their first in five years, landing ahead of promised reissues of Dictaphone’s early EP and LP
“Finally a sign of life and a new full length of the German cult trio after five years of silence. Already formed in the late nineties in Berlin, Dictaphone was born by Brussels-bred multi-instrumentalist Oliver Doerell. In 2000 Oliver Doerell found a partner in Berlin’s Roger Döring, who shares Doerell’s love for the Brussels-based music of the eighties.
In the following years the duo and several guest musicians (e.g. Stephan Wöhrmann (SWOD), Malka Spigel (Minimal Compact) & more) released the critically highly acclaimed “m.= addiction” (2002), the “Nacht” EP (2004) and “Vertigo II” (2006) via the City Centres Offices label. In 2009 the violin player Alex Stolze joined the band. During their two decades of existence Dictaphone played shows in more than 20 countries with festival appearances at Mutek, Transmediale, Unsound, Benicassim & more. Their latest release “Poems from a rooftop” from 2012 came as a very limited edition through the Berlin-based boutique label Sonic Pieces. The new album “APR 70” is the first Denovali release of Dictaphone. The label will also reissue the past repertoire of the trio.
The new album features the three Dictaphone core members Oliver Doerell (electronics, bass, guitar), Roger Döring (saxophone, clarinet) and Alex Stolze (violins) and has been composed and produced over the course of three years. While the vibraphone and the more easily distinguishable guitar among other things gave a certain presence to the tracks on the previous album “Poems from a rooftop”, “APR 70” leaves the listener with a much more muffled impression. It feels as if each of the uncountable layers of which the intricate arrangements are made has just the right amount of contrast to be visible, but there are only very few moments where one of the elements noticeably dominates the others. The cool jazz bits, analogue flourishes, hypnotic rhythms and refined electronics feed a dark serpent-like creature meandering in ever-changing morphologies through shapeless landscapes. “APR 70" is the perfect cocoon for the hazy days and the serene nights. A new incarnation, maybe even definition, of purity.
Dictaphone never make music for the sake of it, they always want to create something which was missing before. And they did.”
Excellent second solo album from Thom Yorke, reissued.
He's joined by regular production foil Nigel Godrich, credited with production and editing, and his Radiohead bandmate Colin Greenwood chimes in with beat programming on 2nd song, 'Guess Again!'. It's a melancholy thing built from tenderly bruised bass and a filigree palette of "silver darkness" shot thru with fluoro tones reflected in the sleeve art's colour scheme.
Highlights include the feathered 2-step and phasing chords of 'The Mother Lode', the buoyant techno pulse of 'There Is No Ice (For My Drink)' and a future-fave closer, 'Nose Grows Some' are Thom Yorke at his most bruising, and, when coupled with the charms of Basinski-esque, decaying keys in 'Pink Section', or the lushly skewed harmonies of 'Interference' make for his most engrossing record yet.
Glass mastered CD packaged with custom silver/chrome sticker in resealable poly sleeve
59 minute of free-floating ambient dub techno bliss, threatening to be engulfed by the sheer size of it all, but keeping the listener dangled just above and at the centre of it all.
“A haunting of the spirit and soul, a near-hour long journey into some of Phase 90's most ominous territories yet. The darkest side of Dub. Field recordings extracted at The Detroit Masonic temple, an alleged location of supernatural and EVP Phenomena. Recorded live in the mix for an art installation exhibit held in Ann Arbor, MI. 2016.”
The Echospace plot thickens with DC Trax’s The Octal Years overview, collecting triple deep cuts from Rod Modell's archive, plus a few unreleased goodies, all dating to 2001-2006. We still return to the original Defragment: Parts 1 - 10 on 12” from time to time, so this new archival edition is very handy indeed. Prime picks for the dub techno connoisseur.
“In reflection of the many years of development of the DEMF/Movement festival since its inception coupled with the near 15-year anniversary of these releases (and the first live appearance of d e e p c h o r d @ DEMF w/Mike Schommer) we're pleased to announce the continuation of our archival edition. Many of these releases (originally appearing on Octal Records) took center stage on the walls of the dance room @ Record Time (circa 2001) canned by Detroit Legend, Mike Huckaby. This release will mark the fourth installment to the coveted series and returns to form with a stone cold classic from the DC vault. The first time ever released on CD (including unreleased material), lovingly remastered and assembled by Rod Modell.
Great measures, focus and time were spent to preserve the analog warmth and sonic integrity of the original masters. For those who don't know, these releases are considered by many some of the most inspired and influential sounds to emerge from Detroit well over 15 years ago -- a blueprint was set here for many artists to come, a step in the evolution. Expect gorgeous plumes of sound deeper than the ocean floor -- a rich analog tapestry made in the heart of Detroit, Techno City.”
Trevor Jackson flexes his wiry EBM muscle as PinkLunch, reviving his old moniker for a full LP of darkroom sleaze from the top drawer of his cabinet.
Douglas J McCarthy of Nitzer Ebb joins in on definitive album highlight, On The Floor, and Chloé Raunet ov C.A.R. lends gynoid vocals to the slow, ruddy jacker Inamorata, but Jckon is left to his diverse for the rest of the album, working out finely calculated variants of EBM and darker, electroid house music with highlights in the blank-eyed swagger of Other Side, in the haughty acidic thrust of Load Warrior, and with a doom core thirst recalling The Horrorist in A.N.T.I.
Epic 10 CD Box Set containing all of Maurizio Bianchi's early 90's LP's, plus 18 previously unreleased tracks, a 30 minute live set from 1983 and 35 inserts. Limited Edition of 200 numbered copies.
"Exclusive presentation of the complete M.B. / Maurizio Bianchi recordings from the early 1980s originally issued on LP. Starting from Sterile Records' "Symphony for a Genocide" to Broken Flag's "The Plain Truth", passing through DYS' "Mectpyo Bakterium" and all the records privately issued by M.B. on his Mectpyo Sound. A slipcase with 10 CDs reproducing the 10 LP issued between 1981 and 1984, plus all the tracks by M.B. from international LP compilations and a large selection of tracks from international K7 compilations. Each CD reproduces the original artwork and layout, with a new numbered inlay card. Also included is a 84 page booklet with original atworks and collages, M.B. playlists, interviews and reviews, as well as essays by M.B. on S.P.K., Whitehouse and Come, T.G., Monte Cazazza, Metabolists, Conrad Schnitzler and excerpts from the "Dictionary of the Ultra-Glaciality". Edition limited to 200 numbered copies, including the following CDs: Symphony for a Genocide (1981) Harsh waves of electronic pulsations overload the circuitry causing sensory breakdown. Maximum electronics! Also included are the 3 tracks from the 1980 "International Compilation 1" on Die Form's Bain Total. Menses (1981) The two long siutes "Yra" and "Scent" pessimistically excludes any possibility to survive. Suicidal album. Death is a pleasure after a side of this record. Also included are the two tracks from the Hater's "Nowhere to Play" compilation (1982), as well as the very early "Milan Bruits" from Der Plan's "Fix Planet" compilation (1981). Neuro Habitat / Moerter Unter Uns (1982) M.B.'s at his creative peak. There are actually melodies present, dense and dark that mutate into harsh electronic outbursts. Also included is "Plutoniumetrio" from the Come Organisation's "Fuer Ilse Koch" compilation (1982). Regel (1982) M.B. experimentation with noise syndrome has developed into a powerful stylistic electronic music, coherent and dynamic. Also includes "Acido Prussico" from Broken Flag's "Neuengamme" compilation (1982). Mectpyo Bakterium (1981) Two extended electronic pieces which may prove to be the best compositions M.B. has created. Also included are two tracks from "40 days/40 Nights" and "International Frienship" compilations (1983). Das Testament (1982) A pulsating and visionary work dedicated to those who will suffer in the future for our choice to irreparably spoil our natural and social ambient. Also included in 30 minutes of M.B. live in Milano on January 1st, 1983. Endometrio (1980-81) M.B. takes the distance from the movement of the industrial bruitists, presenting what he calls "biologic music", sounds synthetically produced by the manipulation and transformation of pre-recorded electronic sources. Also included are excerpts from various international compilations on cassette (1980/1983). Carcinosi (1979/1982) This record represents an injection of new, more open-minded and anti-conformist methodologies. A disquieting sound dilutes and coagulates. Also included are two tracks from Broken Flag's "Axis Sally" (1983) and "Frankenstein Juke Box" compilation tapes. The Plain Truth (1983) A very atmospheric records including two long suites titled "The Plain Truth" and "M.B. 55 T.D. 56". Also included is an exclusive interview recorded at Radio popolare, Milano, on January 1st, 1983. Armaghedon (1984) Soundtrack to the film with the same title. The most obscure and elusive M.B. output. The original LP was never distributed, most of the copies were destroyed by M.B. after its release.
Right in time to aid xmas (in)digestion, Chris Douglas (Dalglish, O.S.T., Scald Rougish) chews thru your grey matter as Aclds with the queasy algorithmic slosh and electronic permutation of Fuadain Liesmas - his first release for Antwerp’s exceptional Entr’acte label after decades of releases on probing imprints under myriad aliases.
Dispatched from his Berlin base, Fuadain Liesmas wriggles between the lines of convention in a way that has persistently served to reveal Douglas among electronic music’s most uncompromising operators. Following extreme abstract precedents set by the likes of Autechre, Roland Kayn and Bernard Parmegiani, Douglas doesn’t so much as pull the rug form under the listener’s feet as he systematically unthreads and reweaves it from the toes up, binding listeners into an inescapable matrix of perplexing intricacy that supposes and dangles us by a quantum thread.
For all its combustible, hellish nature and cerebral ferocity, there are moments of more meditative tranquility nestled amid Fuadain Liesmas, but it will take intrepid ears to reach and locate them in the maelstrom, as Douglas seems to set fire to all he touches, leaving a burning trail of logic in his wake.
Lavish 4CD box set includes the complete Ghedalia Tazartes recordings previously issued on cd by Alga Marghen, plus a new mini-cd titled "les danseurs de la pluie".
"Diasporas-Tazartes" is the cd edition of tazartes' first and fourth albums, "Transports" is the cd edition of Tazartes' second album complete with four bonus tracks. "Une Eclipse Totale De Soleil" is the CD edition of tazartes' third album with a long bonus track. "Les danseurs de la pluie" gives title to the complete anthology and is a 12 minutes mini-cd, presented on creative disc, including four previously unavailable tracks: two 1977 recordings from the Eclipse Totale sessions of a very wild and residential nature; and two colossal new pieces recorded in 2005."
Widely championed techno/electronica producer Objekt deposits his detailed and complex debut album on PAN.
Since 2011 at least, the Berlin resident known as TJ Hertz has been a vital cog in the European techno machine, self-releasing some of this decade's most vaunted white labels, plus 12"s with Hessle Audio and Leisure System - including this year's great split with Dopplereffekt - beside his role as software engineer for Native Instruments. With 'Flatland' he takes the opportunity to scud farther between electro and techno conventions with some proper production acrobatics, modelling a vivid 3D framework viewable from multiple perspectives, imagining "…a world in which any scene can be seen from any angle at once".
Entering via the ambient airlock chamber of 'Agnes Revenge', we're given access to a subtly evolving soundsphere of sheer, incremental gradients and whirring mechanisms interspersed with nods to radiophonic experimentation and the melodic charm of '90s Warp styles. The scuttling funk of 'One Fell Swoop' or 'Ratchet' and the keening harmonics of 'Agnes Apparatus' recall classic Plaid, whilst elsewhere the album ranges from knackered techno ('Dogma') to Powell-esque hardwave ('Strays') and Rrose-alike techno churn ('One Stitch Follows Another', 'First Witness') via augmented hip hop ('Second Witness'). It's all certain to spark the interests of the techiest bass heads and IDM fiends around.
NYC techno survivor and Synewave bossman Damon Wild delivers his 3rd album, only 13 years since his last
Expect 15 tracks of well skooled techno depth - gritty, pulsing 909 sequences, misty-eyed synths, salty bleeps - for the hard working DJ and demanding headphone listener.
Experience the punishing sonic origins of a punk icon. Collected here for the first time, and skillfully remastered from original board tapes, demos, and session masters, this collection is an authoritative chronicling of the wellspring and maturation of Grant Hart, Greg Norton and Bob Mould—three St. Paul teenagers who’d go on to become the most heralded trio of the American punk underground.
"Follow the Hüskers to their earliest gigs in 1979, through extensive road dog touring, and to the start of their partnership with West Coast tastemaker SST in 1983.
This primitive stage in the fabled career of Hüsker Dü is presented as a deluxe box set and packaged with a hardbound book crammed full of never before seen photos, flyers, and a sprawling essay with participation from the band. Spread across four LPs or three CDs, 47 of the 69 songs compiled here are previously unissued. Also included are Statues/Amusement, In A Free Land, Everything Falls Apart, and an alternate recording of the Land Speed Record set."
Trevor Jackson coins the Pre- label with four diverse kosmische electronic experiments written under his Dark They Were and Golden Eyed and Design Your Dreams aliases c. 2010-2014, following the final parts in his Playgroup puzzle, and ahead of the launch of his Post- label.
Where the last few years since and including his Format album have been spent on or around the ‘floor, this session is for the road or your magic carpet, catching your man spinning out 13 minutes of frothy arpeggios and pulses on Design Your Dreams, which contrasts steeply with the darkside descent of Another Time, and likewise the 31 minute slow aciddub vortex Boundary Echoes, and the abstract tonal whorl of The Lesser Light.
A single composition clocking in at 60 minutes, 'Silent Night' is a work from the veteran American composer William Basinski, wherein he embarks on an indescribably tranquil and variegated mediation which will submerge you completely.
Allowing aural tendrils to rise slowly (like smoke), what at first seems indistinct and untethered soon begins to take on a greater significance as structures loom through the shrouded, ineluctable broadcasts. Slow-motion it may be, Basinski nonetheless gets you where you're going in no time at all. Incredible music.
This compilation spanning a period of 37 years features Burnt Friedman's releases and edits thereof from vinyl-only labels (Latency (FR), Marionette (CA), Dekmantel (NL) amongst others) plus 4 hitherto unreleased tracks, making them available on digital formats.
"Friedman's music from 1980 to 2017 covers a broad spectrum of played and programmed rhythmic styles that traverse not only club music from techno, electro and dub, but, above all, trace Friedman's own artistic development. A trajectory that owes a lot to his long-standing collaboration with Can drummer Jaki Liebezeit, who died at the age of 79 in 2017. Like Liebezeit, Friedman already explored even and uneven rhythms back in the late 1980s. This selection of 17 tracks documents this pursuit while bringing rough or discarded tracks to light, which did not fit onto any album or were intended for the Nonplace label.
The compilation runs the entire gamut of his work on percussion, keyboard, samplers and toys of all kinds using various production methods (tape, Atari, Midi, sampler, hard disk recording, digital audio tape). Studio work (instant-composition, programming and recording) underwent major technological changes and revolutions in the 1980s and 1990s, but Friedman's distinctive signature style prevails throughout. Surprisingly danceable tracks, interrupted by alien atmospheric periods, defy any genre.”
The blinding Habibi Funk survey of Eclectic Music from the Arabic World lights up a lesser known paradigm of artists from the Arabic world incorporating sounds from beyond their local traditions with often stunning, wild and bewildering results. After teasing the set in with a handful of tasty previews in recent months, the full collection includes 5 tunes completely unreleased on any other format, from blazing funk throw-downs to Caribbean-tinged soukous, disco and smoothly harmonised psych-soul.
“Habibi Funk is dedicated to re-releasing a style of music that historically never existed as a musical genre. We use the term to describe a certain sound that we like from the countries of the Arab world. The songs we chose were created in places quite far from another and under very different circumstances. Some were written and recorded during war times, others in exile. Despite the differences we think there is a musical connection between them. Essentially, we are interested in the musical endeavors, in which artists from the Arab world mixed local and regional influences with musical interests that came from outside of the region.
Even though the name suggests it’s all about funk music, our focus is more than just that. Often these influences might be inspired from Western popular music such as soul, pop and rock but it’s not limited to that either. Some of our favorite records are best described as Arabic zouk (a genre originating from the Caribbean islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe) like Mallek Mohamed’s music, Algerian coladera (a popular musical style from the Cape Verdean islands) or Lebanese AOR, which means the process of musical influences displayed on this compilation was much more versatile than just taking Western music as a blueprint and translating it with a local accent. The compilation features 15 different artists. Some you might already know thru Habibi Funk’s releases like Fadoul, Ahmed Malek, Dalton or Al Massrieen, while others are meant as an introduction to artists like Kamal Keila, Sharhabeel Ahmed, Attarazat Addahabia & Mallek Mohamed who will all release full length albums on Habibi Funk in 2018.”
Get closer to the resounding magic of Harry Bertoia’s Sonambient sculptures with this revelatory film and a CD containing the last ever recordings made by Harry with his brother Oreste and their sister Ave. Whether you’ve encountered Bertoia’s work via his modern furniture design, his Sonambient scuptures, or their recordings, consider this necessary viewing and listening!
“The DVD, a film titled Sonambients: The Sound Sculpture of Harry Bertoia, by Jeffrey & Miriam Eger, was shot in 1971 and follows Harry Bertoia in performance and interview throughout his Sonambient barn deep in the Pennsylvania woods. This film offers a rare opportunity to follow the artist in practice, listening carefully as he moves contemplativelythrough his sculptures and gongs. Interview footage offers rare insight into Bertoia's inspiration and process.
A separate CD contains four exclusive, recently discovered audio recordings. Included are thetwo earliest known collaborative tapes from Harry and brother Oreste, morning and evening sessions dated October 12, 1969, as well as a collaboration between the Bertoia brothers and their sister Ave who sings in careful unison with the overtones being produced by the sculptures. With the passing of Oreste Bertoia in 1972, these recordings mark the last meeting of all three Bertoia siblings.”
Necessary reissue of Yasuaki Shimizu’s highly regarded ambient-jazz-pop oddity Kakashi from NYC’s Palto Flats and Geneva’s WRWTFWWR, who were jointly behind that prized reissue of Midori Takada’s Through The Looking Glass. Off the wall and enchanting in equal measure, Kakashi is a riddling and enchanted recording from the fertile hotbed of early ‘80s Japan, compatible with the fecund, widely scoped genius of Arthur Russell and Roland P Young from that same era. In other words, a real gem.
“A wonderful, rare record wrapped in a mysterious yet playful ambiance. Or maybe it’s just the impression that the Japanese language often gives me. ‘Suiren’ is an odd jazz-fusion-wave tune that sounds like its boiling, waiting to burst but somehow manages to stay in control. Like the nervous tick of a leg fidgeting under the table of a restaurant on a first date.
Yasuaki Shimizu is a Japanese composer, producer and saxophone player. He worked with Ryuchi Sakimoto on certain arrangements, with the South Korean artist Nam June Paik on art+sound installation pieces and even DJ Towa Tei (of Deee-Lite fame). “Suiren” was released in 1981 and is the opening title on the sought-after “Kakashi” album and is my personal favorite on this overall brilliant record. It weaves behind new wave, jazz, fusion, ambient and experimental music.
Repetitive and hypnotizing, punctuated by exclamation marks on most first mesures, the muted triangle percussion hits me straight in the heart. About 90 seconds into the song, the saxophone makes its appearance and the song goes from “this is cute” to “oh, this is some serious shit!”. Shimizu’s saxophone frees the song from the rest of the elements which are more calculated and repetitive.
A joyful, mysterious slow-moving train ride led by the artist’s mellow voice that rocks us with this calming but funky lullaby. Every phrase is punctuated by the xylophone there to energize the piece, albeit very subtely.”
Entr’acte grip Icelandic electronic maverick Sigtryggur Berg Sigmarsson - bandmate of Jóhann Jóhansson in Evil Madness, and ov BJNilsen as Stilluppsteypa - for a total wormholer called Sun of Late Afternoon, which is the first we’ve heard from him since the excellent Avantgardegasse side for Ultra Eczema in 2015. Was originally a tape on Hanson Records, now available on digital format for 1st time.
On this outing he spends half of the first piece, The Ultimate Sunday Afternoon luring us into a steeply pitched whorl of metallic harmonics and process location noise that points to his studies under The Hafler Trio, before switching to what sounds like the croaking breaths of dying man who sees himself projected into the ceiling of a large shopping centre, which turns out to be some kind of sonic purgatory.
A Late-Night Programme follows in equally surreal style, morphing from plaintive, etheric glossolalia and ambient pads like some lost Lewis joint, to conduct a bewildering trip thru spectral electronic timbres, aleatoric location recordings, and the kind of grotty oddness that used to be found on James Ferraro albums, to an elegiac synth finale. It’s the kind of music that puts your faith back in electronic music as a window onto the strangest, other worlds.
Steven Hitchell rekindles his Phase90 alias with an absorbing reshuffle of its debut album, 'Infinitati' including unreleased and remastered material.
This is arguably some of the strongest material from any of his myriad pseudonyms, mostly thanks to an sort of frayed, agitated approach to his rhythms, preferring knotty, sparking shuffles and delicate dub bounce rather than his patented heavy trodders.
The atmospheres too are dealt with a nimble hand, full of organically diffused melody and dusty chain reactions occurring around the sound-sphere with dreamy, elusive quality.
If you've ever needed a place to dip your toes in Deepchord/Echospace's oceans of sound, this is it.
Glass mastered CD housed in 4-panel, letter-pressed Somerset cotton covers with 20 x Polaroid style prints by Nieves Mingueza printed on luxury 250gsm card, hand-numbered 35mm photo slides, and patchouli scent. All packaged inside sealed matt-black darkroom negative envelopes
Funereal levels of adult contemporary melancholy for fans of Bohren Und Der Club of Gore, Svarte Greiner, Julien Neto…
“The Epiphanies sees Bill Seaman in fine fettle, driving along phosphorescent-lit roads marked by the heavy dew of mystery and slow-to-develop intrigue. Delayed secrets are now only coming to light. The setting sun is the glorious backdrop as The Epiphanies coasts along a deserted road, its dark road-trip music glinting like the lightless, metallic chrome of the car’s body. A pack of coyotes come out to play, and further down the road some lusty, post-jazz musings at a local bar hint at dark dislocations. Nothing is right – the neon sign is too bright and things are a little off-kilter. Reality slips slowly away, like water through the fingers, drained as if from the last bottle of whiskey, until it can’t be grasped at any longer.
The sick, cloying perfume of cigarette smoke hangs in the air like a tired apparition. The lingering, too-wide smile of a cute bartender with a string of strange tattoos along her back and an old episode of Tiny Toon Adventures (circa 1990) rather than the latest game from the NHL graces the television’s pulpit, adding to the subtle sense of dislocation, and the music only gets darker, its dying light duelling with the fading sunset. The headlights are a lonely splash of colour at two in the morning, and as the music enters the long hours a velvet-smooth carpet of asphalt spreads out before the listener, the unfolding ambient textures helping to shape a smooth, virgin-pure road.
Dark wet trees and swaying branches are illuminated as the car drives through an eerie, sleeping town, with nothing but a slumping, somnambulant piano strolling up and down the dark, leaf-strewn sidewalk. Distant notes seem to croon into the space, somehow filtering in through the dead radio that needed replacing months ago, luring you into its monochromatic musical world.
You are the first visitor. You are also the last. There isn’t any other traffic…”
A long-awaited collection of Jon Wozencroft’s photography, accompanied by a 33-track CD of exclusive music from Mika Vainio, Wire, CM von Hausswolff, Chris Watson, Jana Winderen, Claire M Singer, Hildur Gudnadottir, Philip Jeck, Simon Scott, ELEH, Russell Haswell, Heitor Alvelos, Johann Johannsson, Mark Van Hoen, Fennesz, Sohrab, Jim O'Rourke, BJ Nilsen, Peter Rehberg, Oren Ambarchi and more. After more than 35 years defining the intersection of sound, art and design in the modern avant-garde, Movements elegantly maintains Touch’s impeccable reputation.
“In a 24/7 world there is no greater challenge than “to be in command of one’s own time”. Is it true that the ability to download anything, at any moment, constitutes freedom? Has the ‘value’ of music, art and design been stripped bare? “I Google, therefore I am”...
Touch MOVEMENTS has been compiled over the course of 3 years. It is a response to many requests for Touch to publish a fuller account of Jon Wozencroft’s photography for the cover art of the project. The book follows the music, which was compiled step-by-step, like a jigsaw – there was not an “open call” to the artists, rather a sequential development which gives the CD a special narrative quality. And since our last Touch 30 compilation in 2012, the accuracy of the music has grown and rises to the challenge of what sound can do to transform perceptions about the immediate emotion of musical work and its more difficult, longer term evolution.
Following Touch Folio 001 in 2015, this series is a dedication to finding new ways of audiovisual publishing, somewhere between the twin peaks of a jewel-cased CD and a lavish box-set. The two elements of sound and the visual work in parallel to create the idea of an “Ear-book”, whose interdependency reveals itself over time, and allows the richest of listening and viewing experiences. The music and the photography is fully annotated, alongside a rarely-seen manifesto by the Surrealist film-maker Jan Švankmajer which celebrates the spirit of the creative act.”
Amazing collection of Disco Music released in the 80s (1980-84) on the Nigerian label Duomo Music Ltd. and reissued here for the first time.
"The late 70s, the thrust of mainstream music had changed from the indigenous highlife to a more international funky disco sound. Keyboards and drum machines were the key components of the new sound, and this shift in style saw Bunny Mack, Chris Okotie, Christy Essien and Jide Obi replace Osita Osadebe and the Oriental Brothers on the charts. It was in this effervescent climate that Duomo Sounds Ltd was established by Mr Humphrey Aniakor, a business man with no prior investment in the industry.
It was simply the in-thing for a young monied businessman at the time. The name suggested European sophistication, modernity and a little abstraction. D U O M O Sounds, the kids loved it. The first release was Bassey Black’s “Someone to love” (DSL 001) which sold over a 100,000 copies, a big hit at the time. The success of the album attracted several artists the most influential of which was Mike Umoh. He aimed for the pop market with accessible, funky arrangements, however his affinity for funk and disco has made him a reference for collectors worldwide. His LP entitled, “Honey, Honey” (DSL 002) was the label’s second release and his most successful album and he also produced the labels 19th release, Bindiga’s, “No More Starvation” (DSL 019), an afro-boogie funk masterpiece. The album in its original format is very sought after by collectors and djs and changes hands for huge sums. Its been described by many as cosmic funk at its finest. Christy Ogbah´s disco soul/highlife records on Duomo are also very highly sought after. This new Livingstone Studio release presents the best of Duomo Sounds Ltd. for the first time.”
Experimental Italian guitarist, electro-producer and sound designer Eraldo Bernocchi joins forces with percussionist FM Einheit (a founder of the influential German industrial group Einstürzende Neubauten) and London-based cellist Jo Quail on Rosebud, a compelling mix of tranquil ambient sounds and pummeling industrial onslaughts.
"From the opening “Bloom,” an 11-minute suite that travels from evocative ambiance to caustic crescendo, to the closing theme “The Inquirer,” which emerges gradually over a haunting drone and builds to a hellacious distortion-laced guitar climax, Rosebud carries a dark, foreboding undercurrent while showcasing the trio’s uncanny group-think in the throes of organized chaos.”
From storied composer Jim Copperthwaite comes the debut album ‘Ballroom Ghosts’. As a soundtrack artist in his own right, Jim’s tracks recall the work of Danny Elfman in their haunting, choral refrains.
"However, Jim has also always had an affinity for the avant garde and his music box orchestrations are driven through with the repetitive, percussive iterations of Steve Reich, calling to mind Jamie xx’s most recent collaborations with Wayne McGregor and the Royal Ballet.
This debut album from Jim Copperthwaite stands out as his most intimate and personal work to date: a fantastical demonstration of a composer at the peak of his abilities. It is an invitation to a world that exists beneath the one we see. Close your eyes and come walk these halls. Experience the atmospheric beauty of ‘Ballroom Ghosts’."
Erased Tapes reissue the original Penguin Cafe Orchestra’s last ever studio album Union Cafe to coincide with the 20th Anniversary of founder Simon Jeffes’ passing in 1997.
It was 1972 in the South of France when Simon had an unfortunate experience with food poisoning which lead to a much more fortunate circumstance when a vivid dream, induced from his illness and depicting a dystopian future, conceived the Penguin Cafe; a charming place where solace, harmony, and the orchestra’s unique music could be found amidst brutal concrete structures and darkness. For the following 25 years, Simon carried out this vision bringing brightness into a world full of noise. Sadly, after his passing, the original orchestra disbanded, but the doors to this happy place reopened when his son Arthur decided to continue his father’s legacy under the name Penguin Cafe.
The continuation of the PCO began at London’s Union Chapel in 2007 when Arthur and the original musicians commemorated Simon 10 years after his death. Another 10 years forward, 2017 will see Penguin Cafe pay tribute to him once again at the Union Chapel on December 11th where they will perform Union Cafe in full – a union from all corners of this magical world.
Union Cafe was the fifth, and the last studio album by Penguin Cafe Orchestra. It was initially released in 1993 merely on cassette and CD, and will now be given a new breath of life, and another chance to reach old and new fans alike.”
Reissued just after the 30th anniversary of its cinema and LP release, Angelo Badalamenti’s classic soundtrack for David Lynch’s surreal small town crime thriller Blue Velvet is now placed back in circulation via Fire Records.
All the hallmarks of Badalamenti and Lynch’s soundtracks are here, from orchestral string arrangements such as the magisterial Mysteries of Love [Instrumental] and Julee Cruise’s sylvan synth version, thru to Isabella Rossellini’s smoky blues cover in Blue Velvet/Blue Star - Montage and ’50s/’60s influences from Roy Orbison and Bill Dogett, with a choice piece of surreal Lynch/Badalamenti collage in Lumberton U.S.A./Going Down To Lincoln - Sound Effects Suite to boot.
Jezus the Julee Cruise piece is just golden...
Echospace is proud to announce a brand new, three-part project culled from sounds created nearly 20 years ago. Radius's "Interpolation Tapes" (Restoration One) is the first part in a series of three releases featuring future classics from the vault of Stephen Hitchell's (cv313/echospace/intrusion) Radius project, a rich analog tapestry made in the heart of Detroit, Techno City.
"The music stems from cassette recordings conducted from 1994-2001 with nothing but analog/digital hardware, no computer in sight. The Radius project has been virtually absent since the final vinyl 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 which came to form with a double CD album, "Obsolete Machines" back in March, featuring beautiful reworks and reshapes from cv313. These were also part of the original tape sessions for a project initially sent to Rod Modell & Mike Schommer (for consideration for release on their brilliant deepchord imprint) back in 2001. Given their imprint was a home for their own personal recordings, this entire project has never seen the light of day. This work has been collecting dust in our cassette rack for nearly 20 years now and we've finally brought it all back to life.
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. 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 and re-arranging these masters, regardless of the time passed, there's so much depth in sound design, raw emotions and when considering the limitations of hardware in the era these were recorded, they've truly aged like a fine wine...
We hope you enjoy this magical time in music, as we are very inspired by all that was happening in those years, there's undeniably something in the air, a mystifying energy, long may it live on…”
Robert Haigh, who is perhaps better known as D&B legend Omni Trio, reprises the solemn, autumnal contemporary classical styles heard on his V-O-D retrospective and early releases for NWW’s United Dairies, this time in the esteemed comapny of Laurie Spiegel, Carl Stone, Lubomyr Melnyk on Unseen Worlds
“A new album of piano driven ambient music from British composer Robert Haigh. Following in the path of his albums for the Japanese Siren label, Creatures of the Deep is an underground vantage of a meeting between the musical worlds of Harold Budd and Erik Satie. With a storied musical career that has ranged widely in style — from his industrial-avant-garde works on Nurse With Wound’s United Diaries label as SEMA to his legendary ambient drum and bass records as Omni Trio on Moving Shadow — Robert Haigh's work occupies a space between music and mystery.
With Creatures of the Deep, Haigh is at the peak of his powers. Among noir, minimal, neo-classical landscapes are robust scatterings of bright reflection and a musical expression that is subtle and elusive yet uniquely Haigh’s in its voice and masterful execution. The closer we examine, the more is revealed, and the less is defined.”
RVNG Intl parse Pauline Anna Strom’s incredible new age recordings on this collection of boundary-smudging synth journeys, containing material originally released between 1982 and 1988. They've spent almost a decade trying to bring this collection to life, kudos to them once again for compiling and conceiving it with so much care and attention to detail.
Drawn from seven obscure tape and vinyl releases made between 1982 and 1988, Trans-Millenia Music lives up to its mantle with a sense of ancient knowledge transposed into the contemporary future of the 1980s, realising a latent, transcendent sound that was perhaps just waiting for technology to catch up so it could speak freely.
Through the circuitry of pioneering synth tools, the blind composer and keyboardist from San Francisco feels out a spectrum of unfathomably celestial and synaesthetically-heightened sound colour along myriad, psychedelic vectors, haptically connecting diffuse spatial coordinates with a gossamer web of FX and morphing filter envelopes.
It’s music for oceanic introspection, beckoning listeners to fall deep inside themselves and diffract profound visions through their own lens, where you can interpret her descriptions of sonic flight in Crusing Altitude 36,000 Feet and In Flight Suspension, or decode the entheogenic synth voices of Mushroom Trip according to your own understanding of the cosmos and its play of energies, and draw your own meanings.
Gorgeous music, highly recommended if you're into Suzanne Ciani, Laurie Speigel or indeed Midori Takada.
New Energy is Four Tet’s first album in two years
Leading on from the Morning / Evening set to a new age-inflected sound encompassing hang drum pieces with Tom Baker thru to modular synth input from Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, all produced on a laptop computer using Ableton Live software to control and mix VST plugins as well as manipulations of audio recordings.
Tokyo’s Kouhei Matsunaga with a lucidly crisp set of breakbeat techno an electro tricks for DFA Records continuing his world tour of labels after 12”S with PAN, Important, Raster-Noton, Diagonal, L.I.E.S.
The prolific multi-monikered artist covers a usual breath of nuance across the 8 tracks of Exit Entrance, weaving between Rian Treanor-esque, avian electronic mixed with crunchy garage in Meeting to fiercer, grungy pressure recalling Diamond Version in Dignity, taking in a glassy beatless apex with Notice and a killer lash of bendy acid techno with Dented.
Scorching Afro-psych-funk fuzz ’n grub from outta Cameroon, c. mid ‘70s, picked and dusted down by Samy Ben Redjeb’s ever-dependable Analog Africa label. Those drums, that vocal - liable to take yer eyebrows off, or at least set your ass on fire.
“I remember the day clearly. I was searching for treasures in a record shop in Yaoundé, the Capital city of Cameroon, when suddenly I came across a 7-inch record with a picture of a young man wearing a traditional hat and bearing the marks of several imposing vertical scars on the side of his face, carved when he was just a boy as a reminder of his heritage in the Musgum tribe of the northern part of the country.
The record contained two songs – ‘Gandjal Kessoum’ and ‘Touflé’ – by an artist I had never heard of before named Hamad Kalkaba. Both cuts were raw classics of fuzzed-out bass, pin-sharp horns, built upon the unshakable foundation of Northern Cameroon’s mightiest rhythm: the Gandjal. The shop owner - who noticed that I was listening to the same record over and over again - mentioned that ‘There is another single with a green cover of the same artist’.
Over the next six years I searched for that ‘green cover’ and finally found it in a record collection belonging to an old bar in Parakou in northern Benin. While most of the records had been beaten and worn by a life spent in the jukebox, this one had been sitting in its paper sleeve for forty years, untouched and unplayed, seemingly waiting for us to pick it up and rip the two soulful Gandjal tunes from it, the masterpieces ‘Fouh Sei Allah’ and ‘Tchakoulaté’.
These two records, plus a third simply named ‘Nord Cameroon Rythms’ constitute the entire discography of Hamad Kalkaba. Neglected for decades by all but the most devoted collectors of Afro music, Hamad Kalkaba and the Golden Sounds at long last gathers together the body of work of one of Cameroon’s forgotten geniuses.
But unlike many musicians who emerged from nowhere, recorded a few singles and vanished again, Kalkaba hadn’t disappeared. Far from it. He was a distinguished public figure, a retired Colonel in the army of Cameroon, and a former member of Cameroon’s Olympic Selection Committee. When we tracked him down he was serving as president of the Confederation of African Athletics. And Although Kalkaba’s job kept him busy, and he seemed initially dismissive of the music he’d made as a young man, he turned out to be an enthusiastic ally in this project. He arranged interviews, helped fill in the blanks and, when we finally met him in Yaoundé in 2016, provided us with photographs, lyric sheets and notes.
During the interview Kalkaba explained how the songs recorded in the mid 1970s were part of a movement, a movement initiated by musicians from all around Cameroon who, with the help of keyboards, drum kits and electric guitars, had started to modernise the traditional rhythms of their regions. For Kalkaba it was no different and backed by his band the Golden Sounds, devoted himself to the promotion of the sounds of northern Cameroon.
One of the aims of Analog Africa is to showcase the colourful diversity of styles that exist in Africa and its diaspora and today we are very proud to be able to give these Gandjal tunes their first worldwide release.”
Playful neo-classical works for piano and electronics, recorded by Brian Eno.
“Finding Shore is the sound of Tom distilling the essence of what he does after a protracted musical journey from childhood until now. He took the traditional route of music lessons and learning notation before starting composing “properly”. As a 17-year-old he had the odd contrast of being taught by the composer Harrison Birtwistle but also working as lounge pianist in a dilapidated hotel in Peterborough. He spent some time in New York playing jazz, recording with Reid Anderson of The Bad Plus, and had a successful career with post-rock group Three Trapped Tigers, yet however enjoyable that experience was, he admits it was “definitely a diversionary tactic”. Everything seemed to be an escape from the classical world or, as Rogerson himself puts it, “falling out of my ivory tower very slowly”.
Fabric 96 is a mesmerising, needle-point techno mix by DVS1
Flowing thru 29 tracks in 78 minutes with an unfeasibly tight appreciation of tonal modulation and pressure control. We’ve not heard this style so stringently applied since Hawtin’s DE9 | Closer To The Edit, but DVS1 does it with a finer, uptempo flow of his own that firmly represents what he does in the club. Sheer class.
The follow up of the acclaimed first volume of this compilation, a real discovery for many DJs and music lovers worldwide who didn’t know that much about Zouk or DIY electronic music of the french west indies. The selectors Julien Achard and Nicolas Skliris continue the excavation of French Antillas vinyl from the 80’s and the 90’s and for this second volume, they found some really exciting new references which should be soon « classics » on the dancefloors.
The selectors Julien Achard and Nicolas Skliris continue the excavation of French Antillas vinyl from the 80’s and the 90’s and for this second volume, they found some really exciting new references which should be soon « classics » on the dancefloors.”
HRH Prins Thomas caps a busy year in the disco with the 5 album, following on from his Square One collaboration with Bjorn Torske, the Principe Del Norte album before that, and a healthy handful of 12”s and remix work int he meantime.
It’s chugalug central right here, serving 12 tracks of sidestepping dad disco basslines, real ‘live’ drums (some electronic, too) shackled to wobbly Moog and Arp lines, a dash of guitar here, and a spot of acid there, all readied for the discerning scando disco fiend in you.
Arch isolationist Richard Skelton presents the riveting sonic results of a five year project in Iceland on Towards a Frontier, unfolding a 66 minute aural impression that masterfully renders the putative atmospheres conjured by Iceland’s famous volcanic panoramas and subarctic glaciers. It's a deeply absorbing return from Skelton, who has exclusively released his work under The Inward Circles moniker for the past three years.
Skelton is at his soul-ravishing best here, layering and abstracting his signature bowed strings to diaphanous and gloriously elusive effect in a keening, swoon-worthy play of light and dark, dissonance and harmony.
Over the course of the piece Skelton subtly refocusses the ear’s eye between vast, widescreen vistas, windswept veils of shimmering grey-blue harmonies, and close strokes of his favoured cello. In the process, the sonic quota of a broader project taking in photography, texts and videos - serves to metaphorically mirror Iceland’s ever changing weather patterns and cruel switch between interminably long hours of daylight and darkness, doing so with a geologically-timed patience and cosmic narrative arc that perhaps reveals its nature in a more visceral, affective way than any literal or visual representation ever could.
For fans of feeling like they’re thousands of miles from any other human being, or as an impassioned - yet never prescriptive - missive from an endangered ecology, Towards a Frontier is a significant work of timeless appeal.
First ever reissue of a fiyah space-age funk record from Nigeria, 1978. Worth it for the big, synth-riven cut Bad City Girl alone. 2nd hand copies are known to trade for an absolute packet, so don’t sleep on this one!
Livingstone Studio present the first official reissue of Grotto's Grotto II: Wait, No Hurry, originally released in 1979. "Odion Iruoje was the A&R manager at EMI at the time,' Benson says, 'and he auditioned us, liked the material and signed us.' Odion Iruoje of course had groomed and produced Ofege. Now he was looking to repeat the formula with other high school groups such as Tirogo, Apples and Question Mark. Grotto's deep rock would be a welcome addition to this 'schoolboy rock' series.
Work on their album started immediately, with Iruoje in the producer's chair. Adapting to the tastes of the times -- as well as their own maturing musical sensibilities -- Grotto started transitioning from acid rock towards sleeker, more dance floor-friendly grooves. 'As I grew older I think I got a bit jazzier,' Benson says. 'I also listened to Curtis Mayfield, James Brown, Isley Brothers, Prince and a lot of funk groups from that era.' 'Hard rock was the content of the first album,' Amenechi agrees, 'and funk/jazz/R&B the focus of album number two. Especially with the late Toma Mason Jr. joining as bassist.' The group's second album, Grotto II: Wait, No Hurry (released in 1979) reflected the growing sophistication of its members' musical outlook. Fat, funky bass grooves rubbed shoulders with jazzy flute lines; space-age synthesizer tones punctuated good, old-fashioned crunchy rock riffs."
Faust’s Hans Joachim Irmler meets Carl Oesterhelt ov F.S.K. for an orchestral dedication to Isidore-Lucien Ducasse’s poetic novel, Die Gesänge Des Maldorer, with each piece corresponding to the novel’s six cantos.
LEF comes off like a raging David Sylvain, flanked by Bill Laswell, Nils Petter Molvær, Ståle Storløkken and others.
“LEF's debut as a leader, the intriguing multi-media project HyperSomniac, is easily his most ambitious and impressive undertaking to date. LEF’s music serves as the companion soundtrack for a breathtakingonline interactive graphic novel based on dystopian tale written by LEF himself, featuring drawings by Nana Octopus Dalla Porta, animated and ported to the web by LEF and Italian software engineer Pier Luigi Rocca.
The music is performed by an all-star band featuring American bassist Bill Laswell, Norwegian guitar visionary Eivind Aarset, Norwegian future jazz trumpeter Nils Petter Molvaer, thunderous Norwegian drummer Kenneth Kapstad (of Motorpsycho), British saxophonist Rebecca Sneddon (of Free Nelson Mandoomjazz) and Norwegian organist Ståle Storløkken (of Supersi-lent, Motorpsycho and Reflections In Cosmos).”
Björk blooms her most impressive album in a good while with Utopia, featuring co-production by Arca and even a guest spot by Rabit, who both aid in buoying her astonishingly lush and romantic new song cycle. As sincerely optimistic as the title may suggest, Utopia is, by Björk’s own description, her “tinder album”, projecting a positive answer to the tortuous soul-searching of Vulnicura.
We can take or leave a lot of Björk on most days. But this one got us right thurrr. Whether that’s due to the seamless integration of Arca’s virtuosic flourishes, it’s difficult to say. However, the embrace of space and nature, both real and emulated, within Utopia lends an intoxicatingly out-of-body sensation to its songs which beautifully leavens her sometimes overwrought delivery, serving to free up her spirit in the most literal and fascinatingly intangible terms.
Where Arca was brought in at the late stages of Vulnicura to warp its edges, their working relationship immediately spilled over into the recording of Utopia, forging a symbiotic and hugely fruitful relationship with the artist he formerly called his idol. Now creative partners, their powers are multiplied, manifesting the longest single piece of work in either’s catalogue, and arguably their most seductive.
You can literally hear her beaming while she sings over swooping subs, gamer FX and pirouetting harps in Awakening My Senses, whilst the folk phrasing and prettiness of Blissing Me perfectly counters her operatic tendencies. Conversely, the adroit looseness of Arca’s rhythms acutely mirror the expressive meter of Björk’s classical inflections in Body Memory, one of the album’s longest, most immersive highlights, and equally in sweetly fractious form to giddy effect on Losss, which benefits from Rabit’s push ’n pull production.
And even when talking frankly about the darker side of that tinder life in the couplet of Courtship and Sue Me, she pulls off delirious, rugged - but not overbearing - rhythms and skyward-zipping flutes keeping her spirit decidedly up and forward-looking in a way that also informs the album’s heart-cupping conclusion, Future Forever.