From four individual parts, with distinct musical pasts but also overlapping histories, a new unified chapter begins with Piroshka and the quartet’s thrilling debut album ‘Brickbat’.
"The album is named after the word for a missile, which nails the record’s heavyweight lyrics if not the music’s gorgeous, bittersweet and euphoric pop. Think of ‘Brickbat’ as a wolf in sheep’s clothing - which suits the name Piroshka, the Hungarian take on the wolfterrorised fairytale hero Little Red Riding Hood - a subtle nod, too, to a certain red hairdo that stood out in the 1990s Brit-guitar-pop scene…
The four band members are former Lush vocalist / guitarist (and former redhead) Miki Berenyi, former Moose guitarist KJ ‘Moose’ McKillop, Modern English bassist Mick Conroy and former Elastica drummer Justin Welch. The connections between them are a veritably tangled family tree. Before they lived together and raised a family, Miki and Moose were notable figures on the so-called shoegaze scene, while Elastica were Britpop peers. After post-punk pioneers Modern English split for a second time, Mick became a latterday member of Moose, while Justin joined the reformed Lush in 2015. And when Lush required a bassist for what proved to be their final show (in Manchester) in November 2016, Mick stepped in.
It was the rehearsals for that Manchester show that laid the foundations for Piroshka. “We sounded great!” says Justin. “Like a proper punk band. Mick brings a huge amount of enthusiasm and livens up the room, and I thought, this is the kind of band I want to be in again.” Mick agreed. “I’d seen Lush so many times, it was like playing with old friends. Miki agreed it was good fun too. And with Moose available, we thought, let’s all have a bash, see what happens.”
Though ‘Brickbat’ kicks off with a squeal of feedback, the album is far from a proper punk record, with as much sublime delicacy as physical force, with guitars to the fore but also electronic flourishes in all manner of spaces. Combined, they drive the nuggety melodic bombs long associated with Miki’s songwriting"
Bjarki showcases the full spectrum of his sound in ‘Happy Earthday’, touching on everything from ambient, downbeat styles to proper Braindance in his hyper, melodic style for a fine away day from Nina K’s Trip and bbbbbb
Robert Hood’s minimal techno blueprint back in circulation for first time since 2010.
Originally despatched in 1994, Robert Hood’s debut album ‘Internal Empire’, along with his ‘Minimal Nation’ 2x12” for Axis in the same year, found Detroit techno stripped down to sleek, whirring mechanics in a way that would irrevocably influence the next generation of producers.
The album is perhaps most highly regarded for the clinical, bleeping cadence of ‘Minus’, which, along with the slippery subaquatic motion and synth washes of ‘Home’, the skudgy grind of ‘Chase’, and the pace-setting ace ’Spirit Levels’, marked a pivotal turn from the distorted, macho styles of European and Midwest techno toward a supremely classy, precision-tooled and more elegant form borne in the home of techno.
Unmissable gear for anyone watching techno looping back to its formative, accelerated phase!
Having been auspiciously cued for a Valentine’s Day release, King Midas Sound's ‘Solitude’ is a meditation on loss, an elegy to extinguished romance and love in the endtimes. Combining the confessional vulnerability of Roger Robinson’s lyrics / dreader-than-dread delivery with perhaps the most stripped back arrangements in Kevin Martin’s entire catalogue, the duo drill deep into emotional sufferation with simultaneously airless, deeply moving results, glacially limning a coming-to-terms with loss. For us, without question, it’s the most quietly brutal album of the year. A record made for the times we find ourselves in; a meditation on love and loss in the age of information overload.
King Midas Sound (Kevin Martin / The Bug & Roger Robinson) deliver an exceptionally stark new album; an hour-long study of unravelling love rendered via desolate, beautiful ambient/shoegaze/concrète textures. It’s a quiet, startling album; the vocals sitting high in the mix, the instrumentation recalling Kevin Martin’s work on Experimental Audio Research’s 'The Köner Experiment’, the atmosphere often suffocating. We’ve sunk deep into it and reckon it’s nothing short of a modern day classic, something like Tricky’s dread-filled Pre-Millennium Tension if it had been produced by Thomas Köner.
It pushes King Midas Sound’s pessimism to heart-rinsing degrees, staging Robinson in a series of vantablack scenes veiled by smoky, minimal synth-lighting, the poet processes irrational and incessant feelings of rejection and loneliness. From the aching desolation of ‘You Disappear’ to the unflinching realisations of ‘X’, the ache imparted by Robinson’s lyrics is only amplified by his quiet stoicism, something that reaches an apex on the emotionally brutal Zeros, recalling Tricky's incredible side project with Terry Hall 'Nearly God', while Kevin Martin finds power in a sense of deferred gratification and his embrace of negative space.
The effect is nothing less than transfixing in the physicality of Robinson’s descriptions and the detached nature of Martin’s sferic electronics on ‘In The Night’, while pangs of lush optimism lend an exquisite contrast to the desiccated riddim and gloom of ‘Alone’, and the sylvan keys in their sensuous reverie, ’Her Body’. But more than any of this, and especially when you start paying attention to the lyrics, it's an album that raises uncomfortable questions. Are we routing for the forlorn, or the obsessed? It’s this ambiguity, this sense of emotional voyeurism, that makes ‘Solitude’ such a layered, remarkable album.
R&B enigma Dawn Richard, better known by mononym DAWN, tends to her roots in New Orleans, Louisiana, on her earthier follow-up to ‘Redemption’ for Local Action
Co-produced with Derek Bergheimer (also behind ‘Redemption’), and featuring notable guest beats by Hudson Mohawke & Cole M.G.N. (Nite Jewel, Ariel Pink), ’New Breed’ bends sunny mid ‘90s R&B feels with disco and wavey slow synth pressure in Dawn’s most broadly appealing and direct recordings to date.
Yorkshire journeyman Chapman returns with tales to tell about the ‘True North’ - “…they think we write about the truth ‘cos we’re not clever enough to lie…”
“The masterful follow-up to his universally celebrated 2017 album 50, Michael Chapman’s True North finds the elder statesman of British songwriting and guitar plumbing an even deeper deep and honing an ever keener edge to his iconic writing. This authoritative set of predominantly new, and completely devastating, songs hews to a more intimate sonic signature—more atmospheric, textural, and minimalist than 50, stately and melancholy in equal measure. Recorded in rural West Wales, True North unflinchingly surveys home and horizon, traveling from the Bahamas to Texas to the Leeds of Chapman’s childhood, haunted by the mirages of memory and intimations of mortality. Joining him on this introspective journey is a cast of old friends and new disciples: once again Steve Gunn produces and plays guitar, and fellow UK songwriting hero Bridget St John sings, collaborating with cellist Sarah Smout and legendary pedal steel player BJ Cole, who has accompanied everyone from John Cale to Scott Walker to Terry Allen to Björk.”
10 years on from Panda Bear’s modern classic ‘Person Pitch’, Noah Lennox meets that album’s engineer Rusty Santos for a singular new album of experimental pop music embracing new technology while staying true to classic pop feels. It’s almost like a Jamaican riddim album, with most songs making foundational use of deep subbass beds and processed acoustic guitar in subtle variations - always the same, always different. Warning - you’ll be missing half the fun with his one if you have shit speakers!
“The first song to be released from Buoys is “Dolphin”: Lennox’s bright, sincere voice front and center, with miles of space surrounding it, a guitar and some textured samples fleshing out the dubby sparseness and undercurrent of speaker-limit-pushing sub-bass low-end.
Buoys was co-produced and co-mixed by collaborator Rusty Santos in Lennox’s adopted home of Lisbon, Portugal. Lennox and Santos last collaborated on the landmark Panda Bear album Person Pitch, which had its 10-year anniversary last year.
Animated by their ongoing interest in contemporary music production techniques, Lennox and Santos envisioned something that would “feel familiar to a young person’s ears.” However, Buoys retains a deep layer of experimentation coursing through the hyper-modern production – a hallmark of Panda Bear releases that will feel intimately familiar to fans of Lennox’s decade-plus body of work.
Alongside Santos, Buoys also features collaborators in Chilean DJ/vocalist Lizz and Portuguese musician Dino D'Santiago, both artists who came to Lennox via Santos’ recent trap and reggaeton production work; the former contributes arrangements throughout the album including “Dolphin,” and both lend their vocals to “Inner Monologue."
Buoys is the first Panda Bear release since 2018's vinyl-only EP A Day With the Homies, and the
follow-up to 2015's kaleidoscopic full-length Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper. "The last three records felt like a chapter to me, and this feels like the beginning of something new," says Lennox whilst surveying how Buoys relates to the estimable Panda Bear catalogue. Indeed, the forthcoming Buoys is full of fresh ideas from one of modern music's most fascinating, innovative, and emotionally generous artists.”
Hacked up blatz of improv guitar and pebble-dashed drum machines from poet/producer and Diagonal renegade Blood Music, including a Christoph De Babalon-esque jungle onslaught in ‘Ipomoea Violacea’
““Hit record and mixed tracks from 2017-2018. Turns out I made an album, by mistake. old school BM guitar-&-drum machine, a Linn-Drum & a Fred Moten sample, Serge drone, FM synth kicks & a YMO interview & a robot, ‘shut up and listen to him play’, 808 acid funk, 280bpm Gescom memories, a taiko ramen break rounded & a just intonation poem - abc, the whole alphabet: performance from within fugitive study. I like to enjoy myself.” – Simon Pomery, London, 28 December 2018.
Blood Music is Simon Pomery: London-based, Irish-born producer, musician and maker of the “infinity-poem”. The name Blood Music is one English translation of the Japanese word “Kodo”: “mind-before-thought”, “children of the drum”, “music heard in the womb”, or rather, “blood music”. He has two 12”s on Diagonal Records – “Blood Music EP” (2013), and “Chicks/Badgering” (2015) – digis on dingn\dents and self-released works.
“GPS Poetics” is influenced by Pomery’s research into poetics and ethics: Fred Moten’s writings on poetry and improvisation from “In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition”, Joan Retallack on Gertrude Stein, John Cage and aleatoric composition in “The Poethical Wager”, and Édouard Glissant’s “Poetics of Relation”. The notion of “the centre” is exploded in favour of fugitive research into the relational. The result here is a live mix of cross-genre blood musics, given to that most freely proliferating, streamable, downloadable, capitalist communication of consumer taste: the DJ mixtape. Pomery’s use of text and voice in Blood Music continues his investigation of text-sound compositions of the 60s and 70s. His “infinity poems”, which are algorithmically produced for print as well as for his a/v show “SPEED READING WITH BLOOD MUSIC”, provide the visual art and language for his relational poetics.”
Sci-fi-styled, synthy grime & drill mutations from Tom E Vercetti, Chemist and Lovedr0id a.k.a. Silk Road Assassins, with guest spots from Kuedo and WWWINGS (a.k.a. Ars Was Taken).
Since their debut LP ‘Reflections’, SRA have really refined their sound with razor sharp chops and exacting poignancy, making ‘State of Ruin’ their defitnsve calling card.
With a manacled grasp of cutting edge UK drill and grime rhythms, and a sublime feel for melancholy yet adrenal sensation, their 2nd significant group showing plays out like the soundtrack to a noir thriller set in mazy London bits and ends, with all the road level romance and violence, and ariel, multi-storey/storied nocturnal connotations that comes with the territory.
The indomitable Xiu Xiu is driven to ecstatic, noisy new heights by a battery of Haitian voodoo drummers and co-production by Deerhoof’s Greg Saunier in ‘Girl With Basket of Fruit’
Coming off like Muslimgauze and Cut Hands gone no wave in NYC, 1980, the vibe of Xiu Xiu’s 11th studio album references rituals, mythology and divergent belief systems to realise a bleeding raw, tense and agitated record that mirrors the mood of the times.
Co-produced by the band’s Angela Seo with Deerhoof’s Grege Saunier, and incorporating a big cast including Eugene Robinson (Oxbow) and Haitian percussionists Emmanuel Obi and Ayo Okafor, alongside regulars such as Jamie Stewart doing his tortured avant-cabaret thing and Devin Hoff on all manner of basses, the result is arguably the fiercest and most psychoactive episode in Xiu Xiu’s endlessly amorphous oeuvre, but not without its calmer moments of poignancy.
Living artwork Cosey Fanni Tutti (TG/Chris & Cosey/X-TG) actions a definitive self-portrait in sound with ‘Tutti’ - a stark, throbbing mesh of darkroom impulses and hallucinogenic soundscapes arriving a generation on from her cult solo debut, ‘Time To Tell’ 
Stemming from Cosey’s soundtrack contribution to the COUM Transmissions retrospective conceived for Hull’s UK City of Culture 2017 opening, and produced during the same period she wrote her none-more-fascinating autobiography ‘Art Sex Music’, the eight soundscapes of ‘Tutti’ comprise of manipulated archival material that represents her ongoing artistic process of self-analysis, acknowledging her past and the way it informs her present. In her words; ; “It’s the only album I’ve made that is an all-encompassing statement expressing the totality of my being. A sense of the past in relation to the presents and everything in between.”
Rather than explicitly referencing any one period of her oeuvre, which stretches back to the early ‘70s and covers everything from performance art to video works and numerous stylistic shifts in contemporary music, Cosey limns a more elusive silhouette of her stunning body of work in ’Tutti’, rendering an amorphous mass that conveys the absorbingly sensual nature and breadth of her scope. It’s strong testament to her holistic approach, or even her influence over successive generations, that the music on ‘Tutti’ sounds like it could have been made at any point between her debut album and right now.
Kicking off with the mechanical jazz fonk of ‘Tutti’, with her sky-high signature cornet scudding over primeval techno rhythms, the set twists from writhing electrosex in ‘Drone’ and the mantric hypnosis of ‘Sophic Ripple’, to investigate accreted layers of ghostly psychic plasma in the psychoactive sound design of ‘Split’, before finding her traumas voice in the sexy AF synth-pop abstraction ‘Heliy’, while the depths of ‘Orenda’ could be said to hearken as much to the blue/black churn of the North Sea next to her native Hull as much as the noise ideologies of TG and a shared sense of solidarity with marginalised people (the title is an Iroquois word for a spiritual power inherent in people and their environment).
’Scaffold Eyes’ is a slow moving and intimately evocative audioplay written and recorded by Berlin-based sound artist Armin Lorenz Gerold, with additional vocals by art/architecture historian Miriam Stoney and Irish filmmaker Doireann O’Malley
“Produced in November 2017 for KW Institute for Contemporary Art’s Compound series, Armin Lorenz Gerold’s ‘Scaffold Eyes’ is a 45 minute audioplay, first presented as a multi-channel installation and a live reading performance. It is narrated by Gerold alongside London-based art and architecture historian Miriam Stoney and Berlin-based artist and filmmaker Doireann O’Malley.
‘It is a Tuesday evening in late August. She wanders through various streets linked to a canal that divides the district in two halves. Her thoughts are diffuse and further interrupted by looking at her phone relentlessly.’
‘Scaffold Eyes’ traces the paths of four characters as they wander through the urban landscape of Berlin. We listen in to their meandering thoughts. The lines they walk are never straight, their narrated memories and observations oscillating between the diffuse and the precise. Berlin’s cityscape echoes their psychological space, its dimensions distorted. The city’s sounds blend into each other. Scaffold is everywhere. In juxtaposing the constant reshaping of this metropole with the transient lives of his characters, Gerold places us into a world seemingly in flux.
‘It is early September. I enter Kreuzberg 61’s town hall through the main entrance passing by a porters’ lodge A man is barely visible behind glass. Gently lit from the side by a small table lamp, half his shape disappears…’
The compositions seem algorithmic, yet mood-driven and fluid. Gerold combines spoken word with a collage of field recordings, ambient compositions and song sketches. For example, the faux-jazz of ‘Love Theme of Scaffold Eyes’ suggests a film noir theme while resonating with a characters’ depiction of construction sites by night. As we follow a character into an uninhabited highway construction site, we listen to his voice shifting gradually into vocoder, glancing a the autobahn superstructures around us, cars streaming by. “
The Books’ Nick Zammuto serves a hauntingly evocative soundtrack to Jeremiah Zagar’s Sundance Award-Winning flick ‘We The Animals’. If you remember and/or love The Books’ intricately embroidered collage pop, the colourful dimensions of James Holden, or have a fondness for blissed out American indie film scores, your attention is required
“We The Animals is the award-winning new film from Jeremiah Zagar (In A Dream). Based on the best-selling novel by Justin Torres, We The Animals is Zagar’s first narrative feature. It reunites Zagar with Nick Zammuto, the renowned composer and co-founder of beloved collage-pop pioneers, the Books. Inspired by the film’s setting in rural upstate New York – and influenced by the early ambient electronic music that galvanized the Books two decades ago – Zammuto pairs that earthen, wooded isolation with dynamic pulses of customized electronics and sparse, crystalline layers of melodic soft synths. The juxtaposition is arresting, and gives the soundtrack a unique heft befitting of its subject matter – and betraying of its minimal instrumentation. Beautifully edited and sequenced to act as both a companion to the film and a standalone album, We The Animals: An Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is as subtle as it is startling, and succeeds in making even the heaviest emotions feel momentarily weightless.”
Trance-inducing Chaabi psychedelia from Lebanon’s Praed duo for Paris’ ever intriguing Akuphone label. In four parts, including two treks over the 15 minute mark, Paed Conca and Raed Yassin conjure a unique mixture of street-level Chaabi dance music and far flung influence from jazz and psychedelia. Killer, frenzied microtonal dervishes and lysergic horns at play inside...
“This is the ultimate kit to prepare calmly for the sixth extinction! The Lebanese duo delivers a raging interpretation of the chaabi – popular Arabic music – using synthesizers, drum Machines, samples and other devices. The result is hypnotic and psychedelic, on the verge of trance. The clarinet of Paed Conca and the soaring lyricism of Raed Yassin sound like distant calls for help emerging from a world that is falling apart and slipping away.
The record itself is enhanced by its sleeve – designed by the Lebanese artist Raphaëlle Macaron – printed in 5 Pantone colors making it as explosive as the music.”
Field recordist/collagist Kate Carr investigates the relationship between the sea and its shoreline in her compelling new recordings for Glistening Examples.
Using a synchronised swimming speaker and hydrophones, Kate takes acoustic readings of the natural and manmade properties of the sea and its liminal zones of transition everywhere from the north-east coast of Scotland to the most westerly point in Ireland and a fjord in Iceland. The results are parsed, manipulated and layered to poetically limn a series of psychogeographic studies inmparted with a curiously compelling narrative quality.
Taking a poem by Adrienne Rich, ‘Diving Into There Wreck’ as inspiration for the track titles of ‘The Thing Itself and not the Myth,’ Carr spellbindingly uses her own poetic license to shape a uniquely immersive experience, vacillating feelings of dread and isolationism with pangs of tranquility and elemental lushness that hypnotically connote her subject’s vast spectrum of spaces, textures, and their endless flux.
Oblique, then vivid, abstract and hyperreal, Kate’s intersection of morse code, honking geese, clanking hulls and dark green-brownian slosh can be heard as an attempt to grasp the logic, or the clinamen of the sea and its incessant tussle with land. The level of detail and natural effortlessness to Kate’s compositions most beautifully acknowledges the infinite complexity of the thing itself, and our metaphysical, emotive connections to it.
One of the most potent new acts in the EBM/synth-pop/darkwave resurgence deliver an achingly well-sculpted, goth-veiled sophomore side
Moving in line with the music industry’s 30 year frame-of-reference phase shift, Boy Harsher turn cues from mid-late ‘80s styles to their acutely emotive, aerobic purpose in ‘Careful’.
If you’re looking for instant gratification, the strapping EBM arps and gynoid vox of ‘Come Closer’ gives a strong indication of what to expect, while the likes of ‘fate’ and ‘LA’ wickedly tap into a stream of Wax Trax!-styled industrial sauce, and ‘Tears’ serves deliciously discordant synth tanggggg along with the Italo-esque elan of ‘Lost’.
Properly satisfying charms for dance-pop goths, then.
New version with updated packaging / digipack format.
The 1986 debut album by Spacemen 3 (the band formed by Jason Pierce, later of Spiritualized and Peter Kember of Sonic Boom fame), gets a reissue at a time when there seems to be a resurgence of interest in the space-rock of the eighties and nineties. Of late the Loop discography has been expanded and fully revisited, prompting inevitable parallels with the Spacemen 3 output from around the era. Sound Of Confusion was released in the same year of Loop's formation, and surely represents the spearhead of a particular movement in British music of the time, calling upon the influence of the Velvet Underground, the Silver Apples and classic krautrock bands to inform their highly original brand of minimalist psychedelia.
New version with updated packaging / digipack format.
Fire Records presents the band's second long-player (released in 1987), which surely has to contend as one of the ultimate drug records, echoing the ups and downs of japing around with controlled substances, producing career highlights such as 'Walking With Jesus', 'Ecstasy Symphony' and 'Take Me To The Other Side'. A bold, mood-swinging album that relishes the melancholy come-down tracks as much as the soaring '60s psych euphoria, The Perfect Prescription is a bonafide space-rock classic.
Gallipoli, Beirut’s fifth album, started life when Zach Condon returned to his old Farfisa organ, the same one he used to write his first two albums, Gulag Orkestar (2006) and The Flying Club Cup (2007). After stints writing and recording in both New York and Berlin, with time for Zach to recover from a broken arm factored in, band plus producer Gabe Wax (Speedy Ortiz, Soccer Mommy, Adrianne Lenker / Big Thief) headed to Puglia in Italy to finish the album.
"With the remote rural setting “the right amount of isolated”, an intense month of 12 to 16-hour days in the studio with day trips around the coastline followed. Inspired by the surroundings, Gallipoli is unintentionally more visceral than Beirut’s more recent albums, alive with an energy that is further enhanced by every creak and groan of their instruments, every detuned note, and all amp buzz and technical malfunction being left in the cracks of the songs."
Ghost and The Silence's Masaki Batoh weaves a delicate, yet heavy web, winding acoustic patterns around undulating psychedelic choruses while charting an existential trip through life after death.
"Spiritual and tranquil, suggesting laid-back modes of Swedish neo-classicists Dungen and Goat, projecting golden hued, old-school melodic structures..."
Roaming DJ-Kicks mix from Leon Vynehall, loosely focussed on the raw, soulful, and off-centre links between house, industrial, broken beat, dub and electronica
The vibe simmers with a mellow feel flush with melodic charm across 20 tracks including choice highlights in the likes of Dave Ball and Genesis P-Orridge’s ‘Sex & the Married Frog’, a cranky Bourbons Qualk strutter ‘Moving Forward’, a rare Source Direct gem ‘Deep Rage’ as Mirage, and AFX’s drill ’n bass classic ‘Children Talking’. Also includes two exclusive Leon Vynehall productions; ‘Who Loved Before’ and ‘Ducee’s Drawbar’.