‘Challenge Me Foolish’ is an almost lost album of µ-Ziq material circa 1998-99, an era that saw Mike Paradinas release ‘Royal Astronomy’ on the now defunct Virgin subsidiary Hut records, and also tour with Björk.
"It’s an era of his music that’s definitely worth re-exploring, in which Mike went against the grain by producing music that was baroque, melodic and whimsical, while the IDM movement he was lumped with made instrumental music that was often neurotic and complicated. His taste for melody and dreamy beauty above roughness and intricacy confused people who were hanging on too tightly to the rules. He even brought in Japanese vocalist Kazumi, adding an extra human touch.
‘Challenge Me Foolish’ is something of a companion to the Royal Astronomy record; arguably even better given the fresh ears selecting the material. It’s imbued with a confident sense of pastoral colour, and a gentle optimism, utilising bells, studied orchestral arrangements and airy synthesisers that sit the album somewhere between, Jean Jacques Perrey (the French electronic composer whose whimsy was always balanced with serious innovation and chops) and the colourful, optimistic soundtracks of Joe Hisaishi. There’s a strange sense of the old and new throughout, the sentimental and utopia, with nary a hint of darkness. Even when the album dips into the hyperkinetic rhythms of jungle, the melodies and mood still retain a sense of gentle warmth. Dive into peak time Paradinas."
Minimal techno boss Phillip Sollman cues up a smart 22-track DJ mix
Features cuts from his Efdemin alias, Pom Pom, Margaret Dygas, Inland, Steve Bicknell, Konrad Sprenger and many more for Curle, following from last year’s experimental excursion Gegen Die Zeit for Dial’s Sky Walking label.
Andi Toma and Jan St. Werner return with their most inventive album to date, Dimensional People.
"The new album finds the Berlin-based duo reunited with Thrill Jockey, a powerful aesthetic partnership marked by such seminal albums as Radical Connector (2004), Idiology (2001), and Niun Niggung (2000). After a series of notorious dance floor releases, Dimensional People reveals them working deep within their own vernacular, digging into fertile terrain of their inexhaustible vault of digital and acoustic experimentation, and charismatically making elemental components new again. This album makes clear how their craft is of discovery, of finding new contexts for places, sounds, memories, sensations, ambiences, technologies, relationships, and of course, people.
A number of prolific guests joined the production: Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), Zach Condon (Beirut), Spank Rock, Aaron and Bryce Dessner (The National), Swamp Dogg, Eric D. Clarke, Lisa Hannigan, Amanda Blank, Sam Amidon, Ensemble Musikfabrik, and about 20 more musical collaborators. The cast of characters are as unique as they are vast, clearly a rich quarry for the prodigious duo.
Dimensional People, initially titled new konstruktivist socialism, gives each participating guest a platform to imprint the album as whoever or whatever they want to be: a narrator, a perfect moment, a jam, an ensemble member, an abstract sound, a multiple persona, a mood, a soloist. Originally premiering as a spatial composition using object-based mixing technology playing with the possibilities of sonic design and collective musicianship, the recording expands upon these ideas. Dimensional People expresses itself as a dynamic 50-piece orchestra, telling a story in sound. Each player is a multifaceted character, the recording an imagined stage, and the production is direction, lighting, and setting changes. Mouse on Mars offer sound as a means to encourage open-minded societies, aided by cutting-edge technology including their own MoMinstruments music software or a spatial mixing technique called object based mixing, with which a spatial version of the work was created. It is a conceptual puzzle composed around one harmonic spectrum within one rhythmic scheme, mostly in the tempo of 145bpm (inspired by Chicago footwork, so the dance floor is not entirely absent). Looking ahead, Dimensional People will also be realized through installation, presenting the work as an immersive listening experience, as well as performance.”
Forest Bathing, or Shinrin-yoku, is a term that means “taking in the forest atmosphere.” It was developed in Japan during the 1980s and has become a cornerstone of preventive health care and healing in Japanese medicine. “Taking in the forest atmosphere” became the inspiration for A Hawk and A Hacksaw’s newest album.
"Their forest bath of choice is the Valle De Oro National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico. This new album features ten original compositions by Heather Trost and Jeremy Barnes. The opening track “Alexandria” features Barnes on the Persian Santur, an ancient hammer struck dulcimer, and Trost’s string and woodwind melodies. The composition evokes the long trader’s route between what is now Bulgaria and the wealthy cities of Istanbul and Alexandria. The band has always had a bird’s eye view of this part the world— looking for the connections between places and even eras: a belief in the power of music to reach across borders and unite. The band is based on the idea of collecting music and inspiration through travel.
They are not of a place, but their music evokes places along a route. This is not urban music. It’s rural: songs of the woods and roads where there are no sidewalks or street lamps to light your way. While the bulk of the music heard on this record is played by Barnes and Trost, they do have some incredible guest performances, namely the clarinet virtouso Cüneyt Sepetçi, from Istanbul, Hungarian cimbalom master Unger Balász, and closer to home, Chicago trumpeter Sam Johnson, Deerhoof’s John Dieterich and Noah Martinez, of the band Lone Piñon."
Opal Tapes wrest an unusually emotive suite of studies in alternate tunings from Bálint Szabó (12z) in succession with their Leaper  release and his previous work for Nico Jaar’s Other People. Think Arthur Russell’s Tower Of Meaning unravelled and riddled by Ashley Paul and NYZ. It’s arrestingly impressive stuff
“It is profoundly moving and as compelling as anything you’ll find around at the moment." (Brian Morton - The Wire Magazine)
Following his widely-acclaimed record Leaper, Gosheven leaps again and continues the never ending quest he started, to share the hidden treasures of alternate tunings. Bivaq is a natural continuation of Leaper: it is still an utterly personal record that places vulnerability in the heart of the things while it shares end-of-the-world spirits and creates unusual atmospheres of parallel universes. It is an imaginary shelter where one can feel comfortable, far from the maelstrom of the outside world, and can take a rest, collect the intuitive and creative powers while gazing at the Earth.
Almost half of the tunes were triggered by the extensive work with a group of contemporary dancers-choreographers and later became the score of the group's still running performance "Deeper". Not surprisingly the music served as an essential part of this ungraspable visionary work.”
Ryan Lee West aka Rival Consoles presents his new album ‘Persona’.
"Recorded at his studio in south-east London, ‘Persona’ benefits from Ryan’s exploration of a dynamic production process that combines analogue-heavy synthesisers, acoustic and electric instruments with a shoegaze-level obsession with effect pedals. A greater depth of emotion and confidence can be heard across the album. From the deconstructed movements on ‘Unfolding’ that starts the album with a snap of delayed snares, the apocalyptic drones of the title track and thundering drums in ‘Phantom Grip’ to more restrained ambient feels of ‘Dreamer’s Wake’, ‘Rest’ and ‘Untravel’.
The latter transverses six beatless minutes of undulating melodies representing “a limbo space, a feeling of ennui, of not really ever being known to others and others not ever really being known to you”. ‘Be Kind’ reveals a musical connection with fellow Erased Tapes artist Nils Frahm, with its minimal approach and improvisational nature. On the more complex sounding ‘I Think So’ Ryan aims to replicate a colour collage with sound. Like a musical kaleidoscope, a flashing and convoluted mass. Written after he saw Slowdive perform live last year, ‘Hidden’ builds from whispers to landscapes of controlled noise. In an interview with XLR8R magazine, Ryan explains: “once you start trying to make a sound loud, then you turn your back on thousands and thousands of sonic possibilities. One of the best things to do is to start a track with a really quiet, weak sound.” T
aking this idea to its ultimate conclusion, ‘Fragment’ closes the album as an innocent sounding ambient piece, almost nursery rhyme like, yielding time for reflection on how the persona has changed. ‘Persona’ follows the success of a series of releases — the ‘Odyssey’ and ‘Sonne’ EPs, long player ‘Howl’, and 2016’s mini album ‘Night Melody’ — that saw Ryan mature into what Pitchfork has called a “forward-thinking electronic musician with his own ideas about sound”. Atypical of instrumental-electronic music, Ryan has achieved a signature sound that’s unmistakably identifiable as Rival Consoles. Going beyond typical electronic music production, Ryan defines it as “songwriting with an electronic palette of sounds”.
Keith Kenniff’s output as Goldmund has established him as one of the preeminent composers of minimal piano-based ambient music alongside peers like Hauschka, Dustin O’Halloran, and even Ryuichi Sakamoto, who himself once described Kenniff’s work as “so, so, so beautiful”.
"Hyperbolic as it may sound, Goldmund’s newest collection Occasus may be his most exquisite yet. Where his previous recordings trod faithfully and sincerely on paths of dimly lit, polaroid-esque nostalgia, Occasus deepens the undeniable aesthetic that was hard-won over eight previous Goldmund albums, while expanding the palette to include desultory clouds of synthesizer and a tastefully distressed analog sheen.
The word Occasus means downfall, end, or the rising and falling of heavenly bodies. The title is apt in more ways than one: while the emotional tone of the album denotes bittersweet feelings of conclusiveness, it also perfectly soundtracks the quiet moments when we look up to the sky, and humbly relearn the smallness of our lives as cosmic objects churn slowly overhead with bewitching indifference. Occasus feels deeply personal, private, and hushed yet simultaneously grand, colossal, and profound. Remarkably Kenniff is able to capture micro and macro with equal fidelity.
Tangential to prior Goldmund material, there are a few moments of Occasus that feel dark and menacing like “No Story” and “Thread”, both of which broach urgent paranoia, and provide a refreshing counterweight to the idyll typical of the project. Kenniff’s music has always been unquestionably gorgeous, but seeing it set against an occasionally manic backdrop makes the moments of light shine that much brighter. Even when elements of Occasus play by the rules harmonically, they tend to unfold with a satisfying level of rhythmical disregard. “I like mistakes, I like when things don't go perfectly,” says Kenniff of his wabi-sabi ethos, “I do have a tendency to want for things to be perfect and precise, but I have to also realize that a lot of things I like about music and art are very rough and impulsive, the slight imperfections that give something or someone a unique voice.”
To that end there are few artistic voices as distinct as Goldmund’s. Using only a few simple ingredients (piano, synthesizer, reverb, and a little more) Kenniff’s sound has become so universal that you'd be forgiven for not knowing who it belongs to. Knock offs be damned, every Goldmund recording is cut from an inimitable fabric woven out of emotional intelligence, honesty, vivid imagination, and skillful restraint. Occasus is another strong chapter in an ever more gratifying catalog.”
Cult noise alchemists Skin Crime leave a fresh mark on Hospital Productions with 'Ghosts I Have Been,' following the label’s 20CD boxset release Case Studies In Early Taxidermy . Emerging at a fecund juncture in the Hospital Productions’ catalogue, Skin Crime’s latest miasmic pall serves a disciplined and elemental definition of ‘noise’ dynamics at their abstract, affective and invasively visceral best.
“Ghosts I Have Been is the first album from the supreme atmospheric noise band Skin Crime since their colossal 20-CD box set collection on Hospital Productions in 2015. Anyone who attended the Hospital Productions 20 Years Festival in New York City and saw Skin Crime perform their first live show in nearly 15 years will understand the deep masterful balance of tension, texture, and dynamism that has been the signature since the early '90s of this cult and collectible project. A defining characteristic is the fact that Skin Crime is a band with multiple members which brings live space and intricacy to a genre otherwise isolated to the confines of stagnation.
Ghosts I Have Been exhibits the usual mix of concrete sounds with raw electric noise slowly and seamlessly building into crescendo. Unlike the early obsession with various forms of butchery, Ghosts I Have Been shows the darker more austere side of the subject matter of decay, small rural towns, an antique shop with an uncanny selection of dusty old books of stories you might rather not know about, or an old library which seems eager to open its doors to readers but reluctant to open them.”
Berlin-based Tobias Lisius débuts his fearsome Liziuz alias with this bleak AF 2 hour invocation of ambient techno noise for his neighbourhood cranks at Hospital Productions.
On Disc 1’s Interaction Personelle (Ambient Version) he pursues an elusive mixture of industrial and kosmische ambient techno themes in a seamless, viscous roil of ideas, easy on the distortion but full of scurrying detail and noxious space. Disc 2 yields a farther 50 odd minutes of material that skulks around the idea of techno as dance music for the first half, before picking up momentum with mucky synth swill and clustered beats in the final third.
“After a series of committed live performances in Germany, Berlin-based producer Liziuz delivers his stunning debut album for Hospital Productions, Geschichten Des Lebens. Presented on two discs with two interpretations of the same epic track with one in ambient form and one in techno form. Geschichten Des Lebens is an album that requires patience with deep rewards. Liziuz is a new name emerging from the contemporary Berlin electronic underground. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Liziuz has isolated himself in solitude, meticulously crafting long-form landscapes simultaneously industrial and psychedelic. RIYL: Dedekind Cut, Gas, Lussuria.”
RIYL: Popul Vuh, Henry Flynt, Arthur Russell, CAN, La Düsseldorf, Tony Conrad & Faust, Broadcast, Terry Riley & Alice Coltrane…
"A twelve-faceted sonic inquiry into celestial cycles, the rhythms of the natural world, and the illuminating nature of darkness, the accompanying album Bellowing Sun is the majestic culmination of Fennelly’s immersive explorations of the natural world’s sensory dimensions and the dialogues between musical traditions—acoustic and electronic, vernacular and avant-garde.
The solitary compositional genesis of the piece, and a significant portion of its early recording (before tracking and mixing sessions with John McEntire of Tortoise), occurred at Bean’s home atop a dune of fine quartz “singing sands” on the shore of Lake Michigan. Sonically, Bellowing Sun is both kaleidoscopic and telescopic in nature, offering a radiant palette of rhythmic, textural, and tonal complexity, as well as rapid shifts in scale, from the intimately corporeal to the dizzyingly cosmic.
All four J’s—Jaime, Janet, Jim, and Jon—appeared together on Undying Color, but have since solidified into a formidable, cohesive unit, a true band capable of increasingly expansive arrangements. Though divided into twelve movements, or aspects—zodiacal sectors, perhaps—the piece functions as a heroic, integral whole. The album’s sequence reveals a dynamic push and pull between contemplative stasis and headlong momentum, imparting a palpably physical mass to the cataracts of sound.
Bean sings on half of the tracks, including early stunner “Matchstick Grip” and the spectacular closer “Pause to Wonder.” Whether articulating words or intoning phonemes, her powerful, lucent voice elevates the proceedings to a devotional plane whenever it emerges from the saturated field of sound."
In a smart turn of events, Daniel Avery’s second album scales between lush ambient downstrokes and signature, rolling techno for a sublime dialogue between the ‘90s and now, all aided and abetted by guests including Teresa Winter, Manni Dee, and James Greenwood (Ghost Culture).
As lushly prefaced by the Slow Fade EP, Avery’s Song For Alpha continues to diversify his bonds in sublime style, strafing from slow acid to rolling and purring techno and back again with a time-dilating and immersively expansive effect that lends itself as well to headphone travels as smoky afters with a pack of pals.
On one level, its aesthetic and effect can be taken as a sincere nod to the hauntology of UK dance music, revelling in its phosphorescent ambient afterglow and beautifully distilling the paradoxical nature of being locked in your own world within a sweaty mass of dancers, whilst also conveying the detachment of perception between generations who experienced the original rush, those xennials who came in its slipstream, and a current generation raised on YouTube clips of the original.
On another level, he’s also tapping into a far more ancient, arcane thread of tribal ritualism and new age thought, of which Rave music, like the psychedelic movement of the ‘60s, is a manifestation of timeless esoteric desires that erupts in mass popular consciousness. In that sense, from the name to the cover artwork, Song For Alpha pursues a similar spirit to Ami Shavit’s In Alpha Mood, existing in a wider vein of hypnotic synthetic music with James Holden’s The Animal Spirits and AFX’s SAW volumes.
But that’s all another way of saying that the album, from the lissom Plastikman acid strokes of Stereo L thru to the diaphanous ambient techno of Endnote, which features a gasp of Teresa Winter teased into cirrus drones, is just a lovely example of that nostalgic but forward facing thing UK dance-as-folk music does best.
Aaron Hemphill releases his debut solo album, ‘Scented Pictures’. Released under the name Nonpareils, these are his first recordings since an amicable departure from Liars in 2016.
"The songs on ‘Scented Pictures’, recorded by Hemphill in Berlin, are directly inspired by concepts memories, or more accurately thesensory experience of memory. The tracks brim with poppy ideas and lush colour, yet their structures aim at defying logic, filtering the songs into strange new psychedelic corners. Hemphill believes that encouraging the brain to fill in the gaps in something - be it a piece of music or a specific memory - leads to an amplified, more vivid experience for the listener.
The snippets of sound and image inside ‘Scented Pictures’’ songs were mostly culled from the musician’s own memory and tinted by his entry into a new solo phase in his career. The songwriting displayed on ‘Scented Pictures’ is metaphysically restructured pop, the wealth of sounds and sonic processes at Hemphill’s disposal having diversified and warped since ‘Mess’, his final studio album with Liars."
A new album of exclusive, previously unreleased material from The Caretaker released in memory of and for Mark Fisher, the legendary writer, cultural theorist and pioneering blogger (k-punk) who passed away on the 13th January 2017. Copies of this release were given to all attendees of The Caretaker's Barbican performance for Unsound Disclocation last week. There are now 400 more copies available - please noite that ths edition isn't numbered or signed. 100% of proceeds from this release will be donated to MIND, the mental health charity - so if yr thinking of flipping these - please don't.
Ever since he wrote the extensive liner notes for The Caretaker’s Theoretically Pure Anterograde Amnesia boxset in 2005, Mark Fisher was instrumental in contextualising the complex, abstract nature of The Caretaker’s music to beguiled listeners across the world. Along with the music of Burial and Broadcast, for example, The Caretaker’s output fell under what Fisher described as “Hauntology” - a portmanteau of haunting and ontology which is rooted in Derrida’s study of the failure of Marxism and the left - which Fisher applied to contemporary culture, distinguishing merely “nostalgic” and revivalist culture from hauntological art and culture which is typified by its “refusal to give up on the desire for the future.”
The Caretaker’s work, including this billowing new longform piece, has always resonated with and fed into Fisher’s ideas, so we could hardly think of a more fitting send off from Leyland Kirby’s cherished vessel. We wholeheartedly recommend this CD, and also reading all of Fisher’s work - from his collected writings for The Wire and other publications, to his daringly seminal Capitalist Realism: Is there no alternative?, which proposes a direct link between increased diagnoses of mental health problems and the incessant trudge of capitalism, and suggest a way beyond the assertion that “it is easier to imagine an end to the world than an end to capitalism”.
A cherry-picked 56-track overview of the pivotal and influential dance music craze which emerged from clubs in Antwerp, Gent and Brussels c. 1987-89 in parallel to scenes out of Chicago, Detroit, NYC and the UK.
Arriving in the wake of multiple T.S.O.B. (The Sound of Belgium) volumes, this 4CD features a strong haul of nuggets not included on those sets - including a number on CD for the first time - while also broadening the definition of New Beat to locate the syncretic style’s roots and branches within synth-pop, EBM, house, and techno; from early influences such as Graham Lewis’ stylish synth-pop classic Pump , thru to to PN’P’s proto-hardcore slammer Poison  and taking in Belgium-built New Beat staples such as Ghostdanjce’s searing Ghostbeat (New Beat Mix) or Erotic Dissidents’ Move Your Ass And Feel The Beat (Instrumental) alongside imported anthems, Reese & Santonio’s Rock The Beat and The Rude Boy Keith Farley’s Give Yourself To Me.
We could bang on about the tracklist all day, but suffice it to say that the inclusion of total pearls such as Chayell’s relentless Don’t Even Think About It, White House White’s Oddball Harry, and Twice of Love’s grim acid grinder The Birth (the B-side to 24 Hours From Culture), and La Rolls’ Foolz Moonz Roolz means you’re saving a few hundred bob from the buying 2nd hand vinyl, at the very least!
The label that gave us that killer LP of Iranian Classical music from Morteza Hannaneh last year return with this curveball album of midnight anxiety and ambient trauma by ssaliva following on from releases for Leaving Records, Ekster, Vlek and Purple Tape Pedigree, among others. Highly recommended if you're into Oneohtrix, Arca, Mica Levi...
Pulling together material from blink-and-miss Bandcamp releases along with previously unheard works, WYIN coherently highlights a broader period of work than any of ssaliva’s previous releases, framing a probing and adventurous spirit at work in its element; modern digital ambient composition.
Coming off the back of Collapsing Market’s reissue of Tschashm-e-Del, an archival radio play of Persian Classical music conducted by the label’s grandfather, their first ssaliva entry keeps the label outlook as mutable as ever with a natural focus on atmosphere and feelings connoting existential angst and solitary psychedelia. It’s a product of the contemporary environment, which, more than ever, is bleakly electronic and at the mercy of rabid socio-economics, as symbolised in the sleeve’s illustration of a financial trader’s open palm, contrasting with the front cover’s zoomed in image of blood-spattered textures.
In six parts he just about keeps his head above the waves and acres of negative space, firstly buoyed by choral voices in Danger Came Smiling, then against the discordant fulgurite of Hell/Home, which both make the sublime timbral relief of a that much more effective, in the same way that the hyperreal, acrid sensation of For All I Care, the crystalline dimensions of 2drown and the spiralling, elusive complexity of b reflect and express the modern world with an intangible accuracy perhaps best compared to Arca.
Over the years both Fra Lippo Lippi and Rune Grammofon have had numerous requests for a compilation like this.
"A number of recordings have only been available on various vinyl formats in small editions and never on CD or in digital form. So here are the 14 missing pieces, dating all the way back to the debut EP in 1980, and up to the final recording from 1995. Although the tracks have been subject to a mastering process, please note that no further effort has been made to turn it into a coherent artistic whole. It is what it is, through 15 years and four line-ups, from experimental bedroom recordings to full-blown studio workouts"
A favourite of Four Tet’s, Entourage Ceremony of Dreams: Studio Sessions and Outtakes, 1972-1977 is a glorious portrait of the American ambient ensemble active in their early phase, shifting along the East Coast between Baltimore, Millbrook, New York, and back again.
Like their pair of Folkways releases, Untitled  and The Neptune Collection , the vibe is mostly free spirited, optimistic, utopian, but nicely held in balance with more wistful, melancholic flights of fancy, particularly on the two brooding parts of their soundtrack for a Danish theatre production of Cleopatra.
“Sampled by Four Tet, their name whispered in reverence through the decades, Entourage forged bold musical ideas on their two rare '70s Folkways LPs. Now, collected for the first time, 30 previously unreleased tracks from their archives. Notes by J.D. Considine, and by sole surviving Entourage member, guitarist Wall Matthews.”
No Joy / Sonic Boom is Jasamine White-Gluz and Pete Kember. You know Jasamine from her eight-years (and counting) stint as a founding member and principal songwriter of Canadian shoegaze/noise-pop band No Joy. And Pete Kember is Sonic Boom, of Spacemen 3, Spectrum, and E.A.R. While neither can accurately recollect how they met, the pair first touched on the idea of working together in an exchange of emails during the fall of 2015.
"No Joy had just finished touring on the back of LP More Faithful (their third full-length on the Mexican Summer imprint, and their heaviest to date), and Jasamine was eager to walk a new path. "No Joy functioned as a four-piece `rock band' for so long," she says. "I wanted to pursue something solo where I collaborated with someone else who could help me approach my songs from a completely different angle.
Pete is a legend and someone I've admired for a long time. Being able to work with him on this was incredible." What started as a sonic exploration between two friends_passing songs back and forth intercontinentally, with Jasamine writing and producing songs in Montreal and Pete writing, arranging, and producing in Portugal - soon grew into a project of substance, the result being four glistening tracks that dance along the lines of electronica, trip-hop and experimental noise.
"I wrote some songs that were intended for a full band and handed them off to Pete, who helped transform them.
I barely knew how to use MIDI so I was just throwing him these experiments I was working on and he fine-tuned my ideas.
There are barely any guitars on this album, because I was focused on trying to find new ways to create sounds." The No Joy / Sonic Boom EP begins with the 11+ minute epic "Obsession," a disco-y dream trance jam that ebbs and flows, before "Slorb" slinks in, casting its seductive spell.
"Triangle Probably" rings triumphant, an industrial beat thumping below, the track interwoven with Jasamine's silvery vocals.
"Teenage Panic" begins in celebration, brimming with hope and excitement, and then - a full stop - before striking back in the form of a droning loop that gathers more and more layers as it spins out into the infinite void.
No Joy / Sonic Boom is an experiment in testing boundaries and stepping out of comfort zones gone cosmically right."
Moon Gangs return with a starry-eyed suite of synth themes intersection Indian raga, pulsating kosmiche and Carpenter-esque sci-fi cinematic themes
“'Earth Loop' is inspired by both classical music and the film scores of 80s sci-fi and horror classics such as Terminator, Videodrome and Phantasm, as well as those of electronic pioneers Tangerine Dream and Popol Vuh. Young's childhood was spent playing CS4 and Amiga games, and discovering their soundtracks. An ode to these formative years, 'Earth Loop' casts ambient, analogue synth arpeggios against cinematic drones resulting in an evocative, nostalgic soundworld that's as invigorating as it is foreboding.
“Earth Loop mainly came out of jamming with synths. The mixer I use is an old Tascam 144 so if things are sounding good I just hit record and get it to tape. Everything started as big long rambles recorded live that are then trimmed down into something more concise. Inspiration-wise I’d been listening to more classical stuff, a lot of chamber music for strings, and I think that shows in the string section-y bits. Although they’re all synths, not actual strings.
It was recorded all over the place over quite a long time which I guess is why there are a lot of different ‘moods’ on it, rather than it being a document of a specific period of time/place. I also started building a field recording library over the last couple of years so there’s quite a bit of that in there, but they’re generally processed and run through synths so they’re not too recognisable”. - William Young, Moon Gangs
Seven years ago, Max Tundra sent Daphne and Celeste a tweet, asking if he could write and produce their comeback single. Four years later their song You & I Alone ripped through the internet. Today they announce the forthcoming release of the most unlikely comeback album of 2018.
"Three years after their comeback song, ‘BB’ arrives online as their new album’s appetiser, an uncompromising takedown of the anodyne and anonymous. “BB stands for Basic Busker,” explains Max, “any one of countless identikit instigators of mundane melodies that have brought the mood down in recent years. Pop music should lift the spirits - so why are the airwaves full of these mundane strummers?”
The world has changed a hell of a lot since Daphne & Celeste stormed up the charts with their effervescent earworms U.G.L.Y. and Ooh Stick You, back near the birth of the 21st century. So you’d be forgiven for failing to predict the fruitful union of D&C with a maverick electronic producer known for his records on Warp and Domino Records. But Max Tundra has long held an ambition to become a pop producer, and this new album is an addictive combination of the eccentric, creative and melodic.
After an initial sharing of tracks and ideas around the release of that first single in 2015, Max Tundra set about writing an album’s worth of material, inspired by the unique kinship, born of shared experience, between Daphne and Celeste, and his own unexpected part in their story. Last year, Tundra brought his suitcase full of songs to a desert retreat near Joshua Tree, where he joined D&C for the ‘working holiday’ that produced Daphne & Celeste Save The World.
A full-length album of giddy, ridiculous, genre-bursting pop, ‘Daphne & Celeste Save The World’ finds our friends in fine, soaring, melodic voice, with Tundra's restlessly inventive production a toothsome, chordy, maximalist feast. These 13 songs touch on subjects as varied as time travel, succulents, pipelines under the ocean, cabins in the wood, unadventurous guitarists and different regions of the brain, but above all the sweet, enduring friendship of those two people who, long ago, told us all to Ooh Stick You."
Architect of the present future, Chris Carter goes retro hauntological on CCCL Volume One, his first solo album in 17 years.
Since his previous album, released in the last century, he’s been busy taking his influential duo with partner Cosey Fanni Tutti to a natural close, and likewise seeing thru their trio with Nik Colk Void, while at the same time diversifying his bonds with remixes of the contemporary field, from Factory Floor to Nisennenmondai and Perc. Here, however, the enormously pivotal artist paints a sonic self portrait indulging an unswerving thing for the BBC’s Radiophonic Workshop and the malleability of modular synths, all with a mixture of wide-eyed, youthful innocence and high end studio nous executed to nostalgic degrees.
In the classic framework of hauntology, Carter’s nostalgia is for a lost, assuaged or thwarted synthetic future he experienced explicitly and cosmotically growing up during the ‘space age’, when synthesisers were vehicles for interstellar and interdimensional travel and acted as the connective ligament of counter-cultural likeminds across the world, so its easy to understand why he can’t shake that feeling here.
Like a grown up kid with all the kit he could ever dream of, Carter brings his ideas to life in uniquely tactile style, working like a sculptor with broad palette of amorphous materials that continue to react and mutate after he’s fixed them in place, at his legendary studio in Norfolk. Each of the 25 tracks feels to offer a window onto worlds of encrypted kinetic energy, fulminating figments of the imagination which come to life in shapeshifting, plasmic forms made all the more “real” and hyperstitious thanks to his application of AI like vocaloids which populate the album, cropping up as alien sirens, glossolalic darkroom murmurs, and fully-fledged “singers” in their own strange right.
The result is a uniquely absorbing album tied together by Carter’s smart internal logic, a mazy manifestation of bio-electronic feedback systems that gives voice to the machine as much as the man operating it in a way that will really speak to followers of classic electronic music.
There was a time when The Third Eye Foundation was the mirror of the world from which the group drew its substance. But the reflection faded and dirt accumulated so it only provided deformed images and gradually became the world's shadow.
"This willingness to look at and express images and words about humans and their environment has since been embodied in the completely open face of its founder, Matt Elliott. Thus, The Third Eye Foundation is a discrete entity, the opposite of what Matt Elliott may otherwise represent. In 2010, The Dark (IDA 071CD) already portrayed this state of affairs. Today, Wake The Dead is banging the last nails into the boards that make up the barricades. Wake The Dead is like a key which attempts to open the doors of memory. Waking the dead is not a question of meaning but rather of sensations. Free will and free thought have no place here -- in the universe of The Third Eye Foundation, humans are no more than a simple product of their environment.
This may seem extremely violent and dehumanizing but it is not the case at all. You need to get rid of your certainties, empty yourself, and put yourself on the same level as those considered to be "the other". And that's probably the greatest quality of an album like Wake The Dead. Its abstract compositions are without a format and thus implicitly participate in the deconstruction of the imaginary, of all logical forms which we sometimes cling to without even knowing why. It offers something essential in its unpredictable approach: the possibility of letting go without this ever being judged as an admission of weakness. In a way, Wake The Dead is an album without a beginning or an end. Its melodic variations instill themselves without the listener realizing, and then progressively changes the listener's perception of the work. The 40 minutes of throbbing, hypersensitive dubstep that make up the record are not aimed at sending a message to the mind; The intention is to make souls dance and to unite them. Personnel: Matt Elliott - all instruments, vocals; David Chalmin - additional keyboards, vocals, drum machine, manipulations, effects; Raphaël Séguinier - drums; Gaspar Claus - cello."
"The golden record was a gift from humanity to the cosmos. But it is also a gift to humanity. It’s a reminder of what we can achieve when we are at our best-and that our future really is up to all of us..."
"In 1977, NASA launched two spacecraft, Voyager 1 and 2, on a grand tour of the solar system and into the mysteries of interstellar space. Attached to each of these probes is a beautiful golden phonograph record containing a message for any extraterrestrial intelligence that might encounter it, perhaps billions of years from now. This enchanting artifact, known as the Voyager Golden Record, may be the last vestige of our civilization after we are gone forever. Curated by a visionary committee led by Carl Sagan, the golden record tells a story of our planet expressed in music, sounds, images, and science. Etched on the record’s gold-plated aluminum jacket is a diagram explaining where it came from and how to play it."
Max Richter presents a properly widescreen album befitting of the panoramic cinematography in Hostiles, a 2018 feature by directed by Scott Cooper and starring Christian Bale, set in 1892 as an evocative study of fraught relationships between Cheyenne people and the American army.
The composer himself states “The landscape is a huge part of this film”, adding that “It offers this sort of medium for the characters to find their story in, but it’s all held in this extraordinary landscape, which can be populated also by music.”
Coming off the back of Richter’s first Emmy nomination for Taboo, his Hostiles soundtrack finds the UK composer drawing from avant garde techniques in order to paint a soundscape of textures and lush orchestrations, and not just wide-angled shot littered with emotive signposts.
In a sense he’s encroaching on territory recently explored by Scott Walker’s The Childhood of a Leader and Alva Noto & Ryuichi Sakamoto’s OST for The Revenant - a sterling addition to that section of your collection, then.
Your eyes do not deceive you! Ten years since leaving us all hanging with Two/Three, Tadd Mullinx a.k.a. Dabrye gives up Three/Three, loaded with guest spots from Guilty Simpson, Doom, Ghostface Killah, Jon Wayne, Shigeto, and many mo.
As one of the original architects of the instrumental “beat scene” which emerged from late ‘90s hip hop and morphed into more electronic-based structures during the ’00s, Dabrye forged a rugged, warped new sound which would predate the lurch of half-time dubstep and influence a stack of producers such as Hud Mo and Machinedrum who’ve become key, influential producers in their own right in the years since.
After leaving the Dabrye alias c. Two/Three in 2006 to focus on his JTC and Charels Manier aliases - which, in their own way, also triggered or predated sea changes in the wider dance/electronic scenes - Tadd Mullinx picks up like he never left us with Three/Three, reprising a natty, wonky style that pretty much ignores contemporary trap/drill trends in favour of super bass-heavy and psychedelically detailed productions that match the classic steez of his vocalists.
From first listens we’re most impressed by the woozy nudge of Dr. Shroomen feat G&D, and it’s hard not to get snagged on Doom’s hooks in Lil Mufukuz, definitely Ghostface Killah’s delivery on Emancipated, which sounds like a sharp update of some Dilla/Raymond Scott flex, and easily The Appetite feat. Roc Marciano, Quelle Chris & Danny Brown on some Clipse meets Kraftwerk vibe.
Clarice Jensen, artistic director of the American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME), makes a gripping first solo mark on the cello with 'For This From That Will Be Filled', an expansive suite of Cello recordings alongside filigree electronics and tape loops designed to highlight and perceive the instrument’s unique fidelities. It notably features one striking work conceived with the late Jóhann Jóhannsson.
Ushering in Miasmah’s 12th year of operations in the nether fields of modern composition, Clarice’s début is exemplary of the intense, slow-burning aesthetic which connects many of the label’s releases. It unfold in four parts of languorously void-touching ideas, scaling and sustaining a sublime tension said to “explore the variable differences between acoustic and electronic sound as well as depiction of the simulated and the unconscious.”
Using an array of methods ranging from FX pedals to multi-tracking and tape loops, Clarice both gently and ruggedly severs the sound from its source and contrasts it against its own grain, conjuring a contemplative effect akin to gazing out of a bus or train window at night, with light reflecting and scattered at odd angles, distorting the view and providing fleeting, surreal glimpses of new dimensions in the process.
The effect really first comes into play on BC when the string cycle gradually disintegrates with the wilting warble of a GAS or Basinski work, whilst her performance of Cello Constellation, a work for multi-tracked cello and sine tones written for Clarice by Michael Harrison patiently shows her ability to distress the instrument, make it keen like a choir of cosmic banshees, before the staggering title track occurs on the B-side, from a glacial traverse of icy dissonance and cascading borealis light to something like the drone of a sub arctic seed bank nestling humanity’s future in the deepfreeze of For This From That Will Be Filled (B).
Fred Welton Walmsley III (Lee Bannon) completes his esoteric ambient metamorphosis with Dedekind Cut’s melancholic Tahoe album for arch American electronic drifters, Kranky Records - home to some of the some of the finest atmospheric ambient works of recent decades by Stars of The Lid, Loscil, Tim Hecker.
In key with Kranky’s heritage, Dedekind Cut very neatly plays to the label aesthetic on Tahoe with a widescreen suite of slow, windswept synths layered into expansive harmonics evoking cinematic and psychedelic sensations. They range from pop-ambient pockets of bittersweetness to more brooding tracts of durational immersion, with each connected by an overarching feeling of sadness or unresolved strife.
It’s all very much what you’d expect from a Kranky release, until you start paying closer attention. Where Kranky’s chorus of ambient angels have often spent decades on their craft, developing personalised timbral sensitivities and sound identities, the shapeshifting Dedekind Cut’s newness to this particular field is betrayed by the more elusive reach of his soundsphere, but the artist makes up for a lack of tonal richness by conveying his intent more directly thru the arrangement and overall feeling, or soul connoted by his compositions.
Frankly, Lisbon’s Príncipe are just showing off with this fever-inducing 23-track showcase of their full crew in heaviest effect; including stacks of label debuts and strong showings from their core players.
Mambos Levis D’Outro Mundo is accompanied by a quote from Guinea-Bissauan and Cape Verdean liberationist Amílcar Cabral, which points to the label’s social-democratic ideals and is worth reposting here:
“As to strategy, we learned in the struggle; some people think that we adopted a foreign method, or something like this. Our principle is that each people have to create its own struggle. Naturally, we have something to learn from the experience that can be adapted to the real situation of the country. But we bettered our struggle in the culture of our people, in the realities of our country, historical, economical, cultural, etc, and we developed the struggle, supported by our people which is the first and main condition: the support of the people.”
Within that spirit of independence and celebrating the reality of cultural struggle, the set approaches the ‘floor - an unparalleled site for cataylsing cultural expression - from myriad angles, flipping from wild-eyed, raving futurism in DJ Lycox’s Dor Do Koto to the aerobic mysticism of Swaramgami from the scene’s pivotal producer DJ Marfox, to whacked-out techno by Niagara, whilst also making enchanting introductions to the breezed out roll of Dadifox or the Gqom-like darkside hustle of DJ Safari’s Tempo Do Xakazulu, and the romantic flex of DJ Ninoo & DJ Wayne.
Basically there’s loads of reasons you need this lot in your life. Highly recommended!
Sub Rosa’s vital Early Electronic Series yields a fascinating and unprecedented collection of Indonesian Electronic Music 1979-1992 with the 1st survey of work by Otto Sidharta; a graduate of music composition at Jakarta Institute of Arts, electronic music composition at Sweelinck Conservatorium Amsterdam, and recently a doctorate from Institute Seni Indonesia Surakarta.
A pioneering figure within Indonesian Electronic Music since his début composition Ngendau , Sidharta has operated amid a small network of prism pushers in relative seclusion from the power centres of electronic music for nigh on 40 years. Since the start of his oeuvre, Sidharta’s work has been concerned with environmental sounds, integrating natural and electronic sources in a way that could be said to reflect the sound ecology of his home land as much as his personal imagination.
As the first collection to reveal Sidharta’s work beyond his home country, this set serves an increasingly rare encounter by revealing a hitherto un or little-known, yet fully formed and genuinely new, perspective on electronic music ranging from deliquescent gong works to dense blocks of gamelan abstraction, computerised chimes and totally unearthly oddities.
Make no mistake though, this isn’t some sort of Hassell-esque 4th world simulation or recreation of traditional music with plugged-in means. Rather, it’s better regarded as a fine mix of academic rigour and methodical electronic music techniques realised at the service of romantic, esoteric notions of space and place; vividly conveying sensations of heat, psychedelia, violence - both natural and political - with an immersively dreamlike effect from both within and post Soeharto’s brutal dictatorship.
Simply, if 4th world music is too fluffy for ya, but you like its Eastern-oriented ideas of new tunings, rhythms, imaginary spaces, this one is strongly recommended, especially to fans of Coil, Rashad Becker, Gottfried Michael Koenig, Pauline Oliveros.
Beautify Junkyards effortlessly blend their love of English Acid Folk and Brazilian Tropicalia in a collection of songs that conjure up a warm and verdant faerie world.
"Delicate acoustic guitars evoke an autumnal England suffused with Iberian heat by other-worldly voices; the ethereal lilt of João Branco Kyron and the warm languor of Rita Vian. The production is tempered with a haunted electronic palette that anchors the band squarely in the world of Ghost Box.
Their sound is further enhanced by newest member Helena Espvall ( formerly of Espers) on guitar and cello. With João Moreira on acoustic guitar and synth, Sergue Ra on bass and Antonio Watts on drums they are altogether an astonishingly talented group of people.
The Invisible World… will be the band’s third album and their first for Ghost Box, following on from their Other Voices single in 2016.”
Mark Pritchard makes great use of an original vocal by The Space Lady and a Gregory Whitehead sample on The Four Worlds, his sweetly concise LP follow-up to Under The Sun .
Save for its extensive opening track, there’s a glaringly notable lack of drums on The Four Worlds, which is a big part of its strength. As the first Mark Pritchard album in memory not made for or even bothered by the ‘floor, it reveals a whole other, intriguing side to his oeuvre, taking the listener from the magic carpet glide of of its lush opener Glasspops, which feels something like like a Morphosis meets John Carpenter piece, to the jazzy new age pool of Circle Of Fear, and much farther onwards far onwards.
Gregory Whitehead’s stop-you-dead-in-your-tracks vocal from Ziggurat (as previously used on DJ/Rupture’s incredible Minesweeper Suite mix) is framed by a lushly brooding synth backdrop, initiating listeners to a remarkable B-side run that takes in spiralling kosmiche à la Eno & Roedelius on The Arched Window, beside the intergalactic lilt of S.O.S., featuring The Space Lady at her charming best, and onto resonant meditation of The Four Worlds in a thoroughly satisfying style.
A Certain Ratio return with the next phase of reissues on Mute, part of the ongoing collaboration with Mute that started with ‘The Graveyard And The Ballroom’, and ‘To Each’ and ‘Force’.
"A Certain Ratio embraced the ethic and culture of the late Seventies post punk explosion but sounded like nothing else around them and refused to fit in. Formed in 1978, the band had various members throughout their career and a core line up of Jez Kerr, Martin Moscrop and Donald Johnson.
Hailed universally as pioneers of what became known as ‘punk funk’ thanks to the success of ‘Shack Up’ on both sides of the Atlantic, their sound is not easily pigeonholed and their influence can never be understated."
Erased Tapes reissue the glitching classical experimentation of Hatis Noit’s Illogical Dance [Purre Goohn, 2015] outside Japan for the 1st time. Avant classical for Holly Herndon and Matmos fans
“Japanese vocal performer Hatis Noit releases her enigmatic EP Illogical Dance via Erased Tapes. The arresting 4-track record creates unique song-worlds with transcendent vocal interpretations that at once deconstruct and recombine Western Classical, Japanese folk and nature’s own ambience atmosphere. Illogical Dance also features Björk-collaborators Matmos, who were so impressed with Hatis Noit’s recordings, they volunteered to edit the lead track Illogical Lullaby.
Hailing from the distant Shiretoko, a small town in Hokkaido, which is the largest island in north Japan, Hatis Noit’s accomplished range is astonishingly self-taught, inspired by everything she could find from Gagaku — Japanese classical music — and operatic styles, Bulgarian and Gregorian chanting, to avant-garde and pop vocalists. The sounds she created on Illogical Dance, co-produced by Haruhisa Tanaka and Matmos, bring to mind the experimental vocal patterns of Meredith Monk with the attentive production of Holly Herndon.
It was at the age of 16, during a trek in Nepal to the Buddha’s birthplace, when she realised singing was her calling. While staying at a women’s temple in Lumbini, one morning on a walk Hatis Noit heard someone singing. On further investigation it was a female monk singing Buddhist chants, alone. The sound moved her so intensely she was instantly aware of the visceral power of the human voice; a primal and instinctive instrument that connects us to the very essence of humanity, nature and our universe.
The name Hatis Noit itself is taken from Japanese folklore, meaning the stem of the lotus flower. The lotus represents the living world, while its root the spirit world, therefore Hatis Noit is what connects the two. For Hatis Noit, music represents the same netherworld with its ability to move and transport us to the other side; the past, a memory, our subconscious. It is the same for Illogical Dance, a set of transformative songs that taps into our most primal instincts.
“The human voice is our oldest, most primal yet most powerful instrument. I use it to describe nature’s many sounds, a language that isn’t logical. Yet it forms a beautiful conversation that isn’t restricted to words like the human language is. I want my music to remind us of that.” — Hatis Noit
Wanting to interpret and mimic the sounds Hatis Noit hears in nature, Illogical Dance is as unpredictable, beautiful and mysterious as the world around us. Each track is made up from multi layers of vocals, all improvised and without words, before being carefully pieced together. Astonishingly no samples are used throughout, even the sound of crushing leaves came from Hatis Noit’s own vocal chords. The result is a stunning array of sound sculptures that see her switching between multiple styles with great ease. From the sweet operatics on Illogical Lullaby, the manipulated vocal loops duplicating electronic production on Anagram c.i.y. to the primordial chanting call to arms of Angelus Novus, a 10-minute odyssey that features whispering and leaves crunching, it showcases Hatis Noit’s full range and introduces a truly original artist.
The widely-adored post-Stereolab unit of Tim Gane, Joe Dilworth and their pal Holger Zapf take their krautrock/psych buggy for another long player jag
Following from recent reissue of their debut LP Blood Drums and a new album, Void Beats/Invocation Trex, both released in 2016, on Hormone Lemonade they refuel the tank with gallons of liquid LSD and, presumably decked in best rollnecks and comfy cords for a highly stylised and charmingly archaic trip back to ‘70s psych vibes.
"The music in this box set does indeed demonstrate masterful arrangements of sounds and sources, movement and melody, humour and seriousness, that can well be described as magical. It is also a set of unpredictable keys and ciphers, revealing a unique worldview where high artistic rigour meets continual openness to chance and serendipity. In this, Holger not only cut and pasted music but time, place and mindsets, when such things in popular culture were not only technically near impossible but virtually unprecedented.” - Ian Harrison (Mojo)
"Krieg der Töne’ (‘War Of The Sounds’) was produced for the most experimental late night program on German public television network ARD, ‘Das kleine Fernsehspiel’ (‘The Small Teleplay’) in 1989. In the Eighties the department co-produced international independent films like Charlie Ahearn’s early hip hop film ‘Wild Style’ (1983) and Jim Jarmusch’s sophomore feature ‘Stranger Than Paradise’ (1984). Michael Meert’s ‘Krieg der Töne’ is emphatically called “a Video-Musical.” Meert was part of a movement of video activists in the early eighties, who wanted to create faster, more spontaneous pictures through video productions and hoped for a new, political and artistic public sphere of moving images through video. Holger Czukay plays a session musician, who is also named Holger Czukay but is not completely identical with the real Czukay.
He is a bass player for the all-powerful music corporation Super Sound, who has to earn extra money by tuning pianos. One of his customers is an ambitious upper class mother, who desperately wants her 12 year old daughter Ino to win the Super Sound talent show. She hires Professor Czukay as a piano teacher but mainly hopes he can put a word in for her daughter at the upcoming event. Czukay is a grumpy but original teacher who opens the world of everyday sounds for Ino, smashing her mother’s precious china along the way. Ino embarks on a magical journey through Cologne, where everyday sounds transform to music on Czukay’s wonderful soundtrack. People blowing into beer bottles sound like electronically distorted trumpets, rhythms of footsteps, trains and ships form a hypnotic groove. Finally she enters the high altar of German avant-garde pop: Holger Czukay’s real life studio, with his tape machines and a short wave radio receiver at the core. ‘Krieg der Töne’ is a musical slapstick comedy and a poetic film about discovering your own ‘swing’ and the magic of sounds.
VinylVideo recordings contain video (moving images and sound) stored in a special analogue stereophonic video signal format specifically developed for recording on vinyl records. The signal can be reproduced by connecting a special decoder unit to any ordinary HiFi turntable and standard television."
Widely regarded as the 20th century’s most important singer of English traditional song, Shirley Collins is someone who was born to invoke the old songs. Alongside her sister Dolly, she stood at the epicenter of the folk music revival during the 1960s and ‘70s.
"In 1980 she developed a disorder of the vocal chords known as dysphonia, which robbed her of her unique singing voice and forced her into early retirement. The Ballad Of Shirley Collins – which premiered at last year’s London Film Festival – tells this story, though to reduce it to that single aspect does everyone (not least of all Shirley!) something of a disservice.
The story proves itself to be something of a time-travelling Transatlantic road-movie of sorts, utilising a motherlode of archive audio to recount the tale of her seminal 1959 song-collecting trip around America’s Deep South alongside her then-lover (and legendary ethnomusicologist) Alan Lomax. As well as these songs (notably Alabama Sacred Harp Convention, Texas Gladden and Sidney Hemphill-Carter) there are more recent offerings, a home recording of Shirley’s sister Dolly Collins, and a BBC session from 1958, “Eight Five Spiritual” which gets its first release, some 60 years after it was recorded. Shirley Collins spent her life in song. Even during her time without her performing voice she was telling the stories of others’ music. Not once has she dropped the baton in keeping these songs, these stories, these people alive.
The soundtrack to ‘The Ballad Of Shirley Collins’ – though diverse – showcases just a fraction of the facets that make up an extraordinary career by anyone’s standards. Deliberately eschewing a straightforward biopic approach, Rob Curry and Tim Plester’s follow-up to their award-winning documentary WAY OF THE MORRIS, is a lyrical response to the life-and-times of this totemic musical figure. Granted intimate access to recording sessions for Shirley’s first album of new recordings in almost four decades, and featuring contributions from the comedian Stewart Lee and David Tibet of Current 93, what emerges is a meditative and carefully textured piece of portraiture.
A timely delve into the arterial blood, loam and tears of our haunted island nation. The film was released in October and has played more than 50 venues to date. December brings the last few screenings, before a major new wave of activity in January. January 9th is the date to look out for, with the film showing at around 30 venues across the country."
The Blue Sleep is a brand new studio album by Blaine L. Reininger, the Colorado-born composer and founder member of avant-garde music group Tuxedomoon.
"Written and recorded by Blaine in 2017, the album was mixed in his adopted hometown of Athens by noted electronic music producer Coti K. Like most of his previous solo projects, The Blue Sleep combines vocal songs with atmospheric instrumental tracks, three of which (Lost Ballroom, Jacob’s Ladder and Odi et Amo) were written for Caligula, a theatre production.
"These days the music plays me," explains Blaine. “The unifying principle behind the songs on Blue Sleep is the method of composition. I apply fine old aleatory techniques – John Cage, William Burroughs, Tristan Tzara – and filter these through my instinctive knowledge of melody and harmony. Lyrics are generated algorithmically (I work with programs which assemble phrases according to mathematical rules) and then edited by me, with phrases suggested by the random output. That’s pretty much my modus operandi in the 21st century.”
Very sadly, this is the posthumous pressing of a long-awaited reissue for Jóhann Jóhannsson’s world-taking début album, Englabörn, which is now packaged with an extra side of reworks by peers including A Winged Victory for the Sullen, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Hildur Guðnadóttir, Paul Corley, and Jóhannsson himself with Francesco Donadello.
Born in 1969 in Reykjavik, Iceland, Jóhann Jóhannsson passed this mortal coil on 9th February 2018 in Berlin, Germany. An esteemed regular on these pages since this release of his first album, Jóhannsson recorded for practically every notable modern classical label in circulation, and also worked extensively beyond those parameters alongside everyone from Marc Almond and Barry Adamson to avant garde maestros such as BJ Nilsen and Pan Sonic, including most recently recording a number of soundtracks to high profile Hollywood movies.
Opening with the instantly recognisable processed vocals of Odi et Amo, Jóhannsson’s first album recorded under his own name has long held an uncannily nostalgic appeal, one which takes on a new poignancy in light of his passing. For anyone yet to encounter Englabörn it will remain an unusually absorbing experience, while anyone familiar with its tremulous strings, fleeting plays of light and shivering electronics will surely hear it imbued with a new levity.
Of the Englabörn Variations, we’re most attracted to Jóhannsson’s revisions of his own work, alongside Francesco Donadello. The practically chopped & screwed version of Odi et Amo is highly likely to induce tears in susceptible listeners - also appearing as a more glacial bis rework - while Ryuichi Sakamoto also plays the heartstrings like an aeolian harp in his breathtaking rework of Jói & Karen, and cellist Hildur Guðnadóttir takes Sálfræðingur Deyr to its deepest point, before Paul Hilliard’s other vocal ensemble Theatre Of Voices leave us shivering with a final version of Odi Et Amo.
R.I.P. one the 21st century’s first, great composers.
The 20th volume of Numero's Eccentric Soul series has all the boxes checked: Gun-toting, skip-tracing record producers, child stars, rip-offs, the “World’s Greatest Bail Bondsman,” swindles, soaring falsettos, and a dwindling rust-belt cityscape offering mere glimpses of hope before the record industry escaped for the coasts.
"Helmed by the O’Jays Bobby Massey, Saru was a creative vortex that pulled Cuyahoga County’s greatest talent in, making a strong case for Cleveland to contend with Detroit, Philly, and Memphis as America’s soul music’s capital. Includes obscure and unknown sides from the Out of Sights, the Elements, Pandella Kelly, David Peoples, Sir Stanley, the Ponderosa Twins + 1, Ba-Roz, Bobby Dukes, and of course, the O’Jays."
Our latest examination of Esoteric, Modal & Progressive Jazz of the 20th Century has taken us to Japan.
"The liberating force of jazz has been created and felt all around the world, but few nations on earth embraced the jazz message with the passion and intensity of Japan. From the dawn of the jazz age to the present day, Japanese audiences have been renowned tastemakers, enthusiasts and champions of the music – in the 1980s, Japan was the biggest per capita market in the world for jazz records, and it has even been said that Japanese jazz fans kept the jazz record industry alive through the lean years of the 1970s, when the music fell from commercial favour in the land of its birth.
But while the jazz aficionados of Japan are celebrated as sophisticated fans and consumers of the music, comparatively little is known outside Japan of the remarkable and abundant music produced by generations of Japanese jazz musicians. Numerous Japanese jazzers have found enormous success on the international stage – Toshiko Akiyoshi, Sadao Watanabe, Teramasu Hino, and many others are household names among jazz listeners all over the world, and with good reason. But if such global figures are put aside, the stunning heritage of Japanese jazz remains poorly understood outside Japan. As a result, the work of many celebrated Japanese jazumen has remained largely unknown to international audiences, and the extraordinary scope and depth of Japanese jazz has not been widely recognised.
Compiled for the Spiritual Jazz series in collaboration with the celebrated collector and DJ Yusuke Ogawa (Deep Jazz Reality, Tokyo), this 2CD/twin set of double LPs aims to correct that omission by uncovering the uniquely deep sound of esoteric, modal and progressive jazz from Japan – music of the heart, soul and Japanese spirit!"
Music freed of volume requirements associated with most modes of listening. Taken as a palette cleanser or listening exercise, the barely perceptible near-stasis of ‘Breath For Music’ serves its purpose beautifully well.
“Second Editions present a new work by composer/organist/musicologist Eva-Maria Houben. Breath For Organ is many things. A composition as contemplation. A study on listening, on deliberation. An approach to modesty. At times, it even feels like an ode to the whole history of organ music. But most importantly, at its core, it is an appreciation for an instrument as an organism. In this case, the (now displaced) pipe organ of the late St. Franziskus church in Krefeld, Germany. It is Houben's most compelling piece to date. Bold, sparse, abstract, yet vibrant and hypnotic. Determined in concept and execution. Musical existentialism.”
This thirty-minute album from pianist Nils Frahm was originally intended as a Christmas present for his friends and family, but as a marker of just how commercialised Christmas has become it's again being sold for cash money, this time via Erased Tapes.
Frahm's piano playing inevitably bringing to mind the likes of Peter Broderick and Max Richter. With the inclusion of some tastefully deployed celeste and reed organ you might also find yourself thinking of Yann Tiersen soundtracks or Hauschka's chiming piano preparations, but looking beyond merely making aesthetic comparisons and you'll find an enormously impressive compositional quality at the root of Frahm's music.
There are just three pieces here, but each one is underpinned by strong themes and a style of writing that far transcends the often too-pastoral-for-its-own good genre. While shorter compositions 'Ambre' and 'Nue' are comparatively concise and florid (with the former of the two exhibiting something approaching a modern classical version of pop hooks) the album's centre-piece, 'Tristana' is a more contemplative outing, entrenched in rich atmospherics and the haunting timbres of the celeste. This is an achingly beautiful album from Frahm - enough so to have you craving Christmas in the middle of July. Very highly recommended.
Recorded in Liverpool back in 2003, this improvised performance unites two of the UK's foremost improv exponents (Tony Bevan and Paul Hession) with two pioneers of modern free music, the multi-talented guitarist, turntablist and noise artist Otomo Yoshihide and the late, great Derek Bailey.
The performance shuffles into first gear during the speculative, tentative first throes of 'No Hiding Place / Softly Softly', establishing a ruthlessly abstract sound world from the outset, only to tighten up slightly for 'Morse', which welcomes a far more full-blooded, often swing-influenced approach to percussion, accompanying Bailey's lightly overdriven, spidering guitar lines.
The remainder of the set introduces some charged-up, visceral reed work, sounding surly and untethered on 'Good Cop, Bad Cop' while Bailey playfully plots a more welcoming path.
Yo La Tengo return with their first proper full-length since 2013’s ‘Fade’.
"There’s a Riot Going On is an expression of freedom and sanity and emotional expansion, a declaration of common humanity as liberating as it is soft-spoken. While there’s a riot going on, Yo La Tengo will remind you what it’s like to dream. The sound burbles and washes and flows and billows. If records were dedicated to the cardinal elements, this one would be water. There are shimmery hazes, spectral rumbles, a flash of backward masking, ghostly flamingos calling “shoo-bop shoo-bop.” Even if your mind is not unclouded - shaken, misdirected, out of words and out of time - you can still float, ride the waves of an ocean deeper than your worries and above the sound.
For Yo La Tengo this is a slow-motion action painting and Georgia Hubley, Ira Kaplan and James McNew did it all themselves, in their rehearsal studio, with no outside engineer (John McEntire later did the mix). They did not rehearse or jam together beforehand; they turned on the recorder and let things coalesce. Songs came together over long stretches, sometimes as much as a year going by between parts. You’d never guess this, since the layers are finessed with such a liquid brush. You’d imagine most of the songs had sprung forth whole, since they will enter your head that way. Within two listens you will be powerless to resist the magnetic draw of ‘Shades of Blue’, will involuntarily hear ‘She May, She Might’ on your internal jukebox first thing in the morning and ‘Let’s Do It Wrong’ late at night. While there’s a riot going on you will feel capable of bobbing through like a cork.
In 1971, when the nation appeared to be on the brink of violently coming apart, Sly And The Family Stone released ‘There’s a Riot Goin’ On’, an album of dark, brooding energy. Now, under similar circumstances, Yo La Tengo have issued a record with the same name but with a different force, an album that proposes an alternative to anger and despair."
Brainfeeder present a special ‘chopped not slopped’ mix of Thundercat’s ‘Drunk’ album (2017) by DJ Candlestick and OG Ron C of Houston DJ collective The Chopstars. Slowed down and chopped up , the mix has been appropriately re-titled ‘Drank’. “If you got ‘Drunk’ it’s only right that you get ‘Drank’. I feel like they go together,” declares Thundercat.
For fans of Flying Lotus, BADBADNOTGOOD, Kendrick Lamar, DJ Screw.
Geir Jenssen a.k.a. Biosphere yields the results of a field recording project on a Dutch farm, commissioned by Incubate festival.
Imperceptibly melded with Biosphere’s signature synthetic palette, the field recordings are effectively reanimated as dreamlike sequences, variously incorporating the sounds of a distant helicopter with shepherd’s calls and windswept choral synth voices in t’Schop, focussing in on insectoid minutiae with Pipistrellus, or indivisibly meshing the real and the unreal in lush pieces such as Audax and the pastoral bliss of Icoon.
Marie Davidson & Pierre Guerineau’s Essaie Pas duo pay tribute to PKD’s classic sci fi novel A Scanner Darkly with a dark, suspenseful cinematic and driving suite of electro and synthscapes for DFA.
New Path finds the duo mirroring the book’s themes of mass surveillance, voyeuristic technology and drug culture thru a range of evocative strategies, both literal and oblique.
From insectoid rhythms emulating the effect of narcotic psychosis in Les Aphides to the record’s titular reference to the New-Path rehab clinics, the results are riddled with inference and explicit nods to the book, resulting in some superb highlights in the duo’s nerve-riding hot-stepper Les Agents Des Stupas, where they make great use of the Ensoniq ESQ-1’s sharp tones, and also the pendulous, shadow-strafing killer Substance M, with the cinematic depth of New Path providing neat closure to their short story.
Four cracking Sun Ra pieces, roving from the possessed tongues and earthy hustle of Island In The Sun, thru more astral, free vectors in New Dawn, to the wonky big band vibes and growled vox on Unmask The Batman, and amazing Afro-Astro hustle in I’ll Wait For You.
"Strut and Art Yard present another exclusive from the vast catalogue of cosmic jazz pioneer Sun Ra: a previously unreleased radio session most likely recorded at the WXPN FM radio studios in Philadelphia, 1974-5.
This newly discovered session features a new version of Ra’s earlier ‘Island In The Sun’, a romping, raucous rendition of ‘Unmask The Batman’ and the first studio recording of ‘I’ll Wait For You’ There is no bass player on the sessions and Ra’s left hand beats out a rhythmic bass pattern on the piano. All tracks are remastered directly from the original tapes. The album package features a newly commissioned painting by legendary Bristol urban artist Guy Denning and new sleeve notes by Paul Griffiths.
Recently discovered in the Sun Ra archive, the recording forms part of a series of sessions that Ra and the Arkestra recorded for WXPN-FM between 1974 and 1980. The ‘Antique Blacks’ album was recorded there in ’74. Based on the campus of The University of Pennsylvania, WXPN’s station manager Jules Epstein and music director Russ Woessner were instrumental in the exposure and recording of The Arkestra in their broadcast production studios. Geno Barnhart, founder of The Empty Foxhole concert collective, Jules and Russ broadcast an on-going series of jazz concerts covering a wide spectrum. The Arkestra performed at The Foxhole in Philly many times from 1974.
Personnel: Sun Ra: Piano John Gilmore: Tenor Saxophone Marshall Allen: Flute, Alto Saxophone Danny Ray Thompson: Baritone Saxophone, Percussion Atakatune: Oboe, Congas Eddie Thomas: Drums Elo Omoe: Bass Clarinet, Hand Claps Akh Tal Ebah: Trumpet, Vocal James Jacson: Congas, Vocal"
Pivotal techno pioneer Susanne Kirchmayr a.k.a Electric Indigo presents a filigree detailed début album of high-end techno electronica with 5 1 1 5 9 3 for Robert Henke’s Imbalance Computer Music label.
Mainstay of the Berlin scene since she moved there from Vienna and took a job at Hardwax in the early ‘90s, Electric Indigo’s name and output is synonymous with the city’s leading edge of clubs and sound art thanks to her uncompromising aesthetics and vital work with the Female:Pressure group, which she established in 1998.
After some dozen 12”s with her name at the top, including a recent turn on the Berghain 08 EP, Electric Indigo now offers a definitive cross-section of her sound in 5 1 1 5 9 3, combining her praxes in the ostensibly opposing but often interrelated spheres of academic sound art and club music, in 10 uniquely twisted permutations of computer music, electro-techno and electro-acoustic styles.
While unremittingly greyscale in tone and minimalist in structure, 5 1 1 5 9 3 still possesses a depth of colour and striking variation of pattern within those parameters. The result is Berlin techno music at its probing, icy best, especially in the rhythm-driven highlights such as the recursive electro-noise vortex of Excursion, the purist pressure of 4.31Hz and quite strikingly in the Anne-James Chaton-esque rhythmic vocal cut-up of Trois, and to neck-cricking degrees with the immense spatial proprioceptions of The Landing.