Charmingly fluffy and melodic tech-house bubblers from the artist also known as Baths.
“Ask Will Wiesenfeld to contrast his project Baths with the music made under his Geotic alias and you’ll get a simple response: Baths is active listening, Geotic is passive listening. But behind this straightforward duality exists two projects that are equally poignant yet starkly distinct, reflective of the emotional complexities of its creator.
Don’t mistake “passive listening” for anything remotely resembling apathy. Released on Ghostly International, Geotic’s Abysma might be dance music created for at-home listening, but it’s replete with a quiet beauty and private communion that can rival anything made to command the totality of your attention span. In a world riven by noise and distraction, Abysma is as subtle as Sunday morning ritual, a tender epiphany in a bombastic fireworks show.
As with almost everything American, our dance music gravitates towards extremes. There’s big-room spectacle and strobelites, epileptic lights and steroidal drops, or stripped down techno and house cool. Big Macs or organic grass-fed Wagyu on brioche. What’s rare are albums like Abysma—ones that offer propulsive beats and immersive grooves, refined piano and string compositions occasionally buoyed by Wiesenfeld’s seraphic croon.
Abysma’s unspoken goal is to offer a finishing touch of décor to the apartment—eight celestial burners to rest alongside the Japanese flourishes, comic art, and framed prints. A song like “Laura Corporeal” strikes an atmospheric tone, sad and distant but still danceable. The finale, “Valiance” takes an opposite tack, ending the album on a more positive uplifting note.
It’s a very colorful but simultaneously muted album—a reflection of the music that emerged from the apartment, a rich space in physical and sonic expression.”
Hauntingly restrained vocals and gently sweeping cello arrangements from Rebecca Foon a.k.a Saltland, with Warren Ellis guesting on four instrumental parts.
“A Common Truth is the second album by Saltland, the solo project of veteran Montréal cellist and composer Rebecca Foon. Following the acclaimed 2013 debut I Thought It Was Us But It Was All Of Us Foon performed Saltland live in various successful configurations, but as the concept and compositions for a new album began to materialize, she wished to further expand on an approach with her cello as primary source for all sounds on the record. Combining unadulterated, processed and sampled cellos, A Common Truth largely reflects this commitment and results in an album of gorgeous integrity, restraint, and meditative intensity. The one notable exception: longtime friend and prior collaborator Warren Ellis (Nick Cave, Dirty Three) is the album's special guest player, contributing violin, pump organ and loops to the album's four instrumental tracks.
Working with engineer Jace Lasek (The Besnard Lakes), Foon has produced a song cycle that alternates between wordless instrumentals and lyric-driven pieces, balancing austere, organic intimacy and lush, multi-layered expansiveness. The analog warmth of Lasek’s naturalistic rock production anchors Saltland’s juxtaposition of dry and processed strings, with the placement of Foon's voice very much within the mix but never veiled or concealed; a voice described as "an instrument of somnolent, gossamer allure which floats gracefully amid the eddying, amniotic music" (Mojo, 2013). Electronic music strategies, via signal processing and re-sampling, are deployed minimally and judiciously – and all the more powerfully as such.
A Common Truth also importantly channels other strands from Rebecca's life: the record is about climate change and marks an attempt to musically translate a complex mix of emotional, social and political resonances in this regard. The album's atmosphere and pace is guided by the coexistence of optimism and despair, resolve and resignation, the intimacy of the local/personal and the hope of the global/collective. Foon has devoted much of her life in recent years to working for decarbonization, land conservation and renewable energy – as a member of Sustainability Solutions Group cooperative, as founder of the conservation charity Junglekeepers, and as co-founder of Pathway To Paris, an international concert series bringing together musicians, writers and activists to help raise consciousness toward implementation of a robust international climate agreement.
Rebecca Foon's new Saltland album A Common Truth is a compelling coalescence and fullest musical expression of the inspiring trajectories charted by this committed and renowned artist, activist and organizer. Thanks for listening.“
Temporary Residence Limited and City Slang hook up to release Volker Bertelmann's eighth full-length outing as Hauschka (includes two bonus tracks).
Never afraid of dabbling in concepts, Volker Bertelmann’s latest Hauschka album finds the German in inspired form exploring life on earth some thirty years into the future which extends to the hypothetical nature of each track title.
Seemingly not content with his reputation for inventive techniques with prepared piano, Bertelmann expands his instrumental remit on ‘What If’ through toying around with the pianola, a Roland Jupiter 4 synth and an Eventide H3000 Harmonizer.
This results in an even richer, more unpredictable Hauschka experience across the nine tracks with the titles seemingly conducting the mood of Bertelmann’s compositions. The apparent nervous, fidgeting energy of I Can’t Find Water, the solemn piano romanticism of I Can’t Express My Deep Love, and the playful instrumental harmonics of We Live a Thousand Years
Barnt, Jens Uwe-Beyer, The Field and the rest of the Köln über-group gather for a second album of freewheeling kosmische.
Seven years after Cologne Tape’s ‘Render‘ mini LP launched the Magazine label, the nine-strong crew have reconvened at the city’s Dumbo Studios for a second collection. Again reflecting that uniquely-Kölnish strain of musical creativity, ‘Welt‘ draws plentifully from both the krautrock well and the more recent minimal source championed by Kompakt et al. Repurposing Dumbo Studios to near-earth orbit on Welt 1, the Cologne Tape troopers commence in spangled, post rock territory before veering off into the gauzy, windblown ambient beat explorations of Welt 2 and the slack-jawed Krautechno bliss burn of Welt 3 (Magazine Edit).
The spectral Welt 4 marks the point where Cologne Tape really let loose, PNN affiliate Isis Lace making her presence felt through some ritualistic chants over a lolloping, improvised kraut composition. Welt 5 unfurls into some sort of spiritual Cologne-based brethren to the rainforest techno of SUED, the mood seeping into the superb Gas gone minimal kosmische immersion that is Welt 6. A brief vignette of experimentation led by grand piano on Welt 7 follows before the assembled mass combine for a space rock finale on Welt 8, whose chunky live drums sort of spoil the mood cultivated from the album’s midway point.
Pivotal NYC noise figurehead Margaret Chardiet marks the 10th anniversary of Pharmakon with a mentalist projection seeking to highlight humankind’s perpetual struggle to transcend mind and body. Working at a sharp conceptual adjunct from her 2nd LP, Bestial Body , Chardiet’s tertiary album is concerned with distilling the “energy/empathy exchange” of her infamous live performances into a structure which conveys a trance state - the point at which the spirit leaves the body and reviews itself.
In that sense, Contact can be viewed as a method of getting beyond anthropocentric, solipsistic thought processes “How starkly human, so desperate for the sense of vantage over all version of its own reflection!”, by methodically and metaphorically mirroring the four stages of trance - preparation, onset, climax, and resolution - thru the album’s arrangement and intention.
Of course, the album every listener’s reception will differ but, for us at least, she’s nailed that heightened state of physical and mental awareness that really only comes with sincerely delivered and uncompromising noise music, doing so with a sense of poise and lush wretchedness that’s captivating if nothing else, holding our mental gaze like a hypnotist between the time-flattening squall and shrieks of Nakedness of Need and thru to free falling contours of Sentience to the cadaverous hulk of Sleepwalking Form and the violent resolution of No Natural Order.
Universal Sound presents this reissue of an extremely rare and in-demand spiritual jazz album by flautist/composer Lloyd McNeil.
Also a multidisciplinary painter, poet and photographer, Lloyd was born in Washington, D.C., in 1935 and thus grew up through the Civil Rights Movement of 1960s America. He studied at the Morehouse College in Atlanta, where Martin Luther King had previously been educated, and would later become one of the first black professors in the the American University system, teaching music anthropology among other subjects.
Since the 1950s he'd been playing and studying Latin music, besides his native Jazz, and from the mid-1960s he travelled widely, befriending Picasso during his Paris period and later Brazilian musicians Dom Salvador, Paulinho Da Viola and Paulo Moura during stays in Brazil and West Africa. All of this experience can be heard in this, his 1970 opus, composed for Washington, D.C.'s Capital Ballet company, a suite of elegant, refined and quietly effervescent Jazz music with rich traces of Brazilian and American jazz forms.
The 15th studio album from musical pioneers Wire. It arrives on the 40th anniversary of their debut performance.
"Colin Newman and Matt Simms’ guitar work is alternately jagged and luminous, while bassist Graham Lewis’s ear-catching lyrics are vivid yet oblique. Meanwhile, drummer Robert Grey provides a virtual masterclass in percussive minimalism. But it’s how the various instruments mesh together that really counts. And Newman’s production creates a sonic space in which even the smallest gesture is accorded some recognition.
Highlights include the optimistic dazzle of ‘Diamonds In Cups’, with its almost T. Rex-style buzz and chug, and the moody swing of ‘This Time’. Elsewhere on the musical spectrum, there’s the menacing widescreen grandeur of ‘Playing Harp for the Fishes’ and breakneck-paced guitar pop of ‘Short Elevated Period’.
Wire are one of the world’s most ground-breaking bands, their influence acknowledged by bands as diverse as Blur, Sonic Youth, R.E.M. and Savages. But they have never been interested in exploiting past glories. For Wire, there is only ever one possible direction: forwards. So it’s perhaps not surprising that over recent years, they’ve played strings of sold-out shows, achieved career-best record sales, and been cited as a strong influence by yet another generation of bands. Wire’s last three albums garnered nothing but rave reviews.
From 2013’s strangely beautiful Change Becomes Us (“It’s fantastic.” – Pitchfork) to the crackling motorik of 2015’s Wire (“It’s all really well turned, potent and crisp.” – The Guardian), and last year’s punchy mini-album Nocturnal Koreans (“It's a cracker and sounds defiantly modern.” – The Quietus).
Consequently, although it may be being released on the band’s 40th anniversary, Silver/Lead is an album which has nothing to do with the past and everything to do with the future.”
Something special from DDS - the long awaited album debut of avant-Dancehall mutations from Jamaica’s Equiknoxx, already tipped by everyone from Jon K to Mark Ernestus, featuring productions dating between 2009-2016, mastered and cut by Matt Colton, all on vinyl for the first time ever...
Equiknoxx are one of the weirdest, most innovative dancehall squads from Jamaica right now; Bird Sound Power is their debut collective show of strength, packing 12 avant, crooked riddims by core members Gavsborg and Time Cow, plus Bobby Blackbird and Kofi Knoxx, with vocals by Kemikal, Shanique Marie and J.O.E. (R.I.P).
The set was parsed and pieced together by Jon K & Demdike Stare , and now thanks to link ups via Swing Ting’s Balraj Samrai (a longtime livicated supporter), it’s issued on Demdike’s DDS imprint, replete with Jon K’s sleeve design.
Easily identified by the squawking bird idents peppering their cuts, Equiknoxx productions have been big in the dance since Gavin Blair a.k.a. Gavsborg produced Busy Signal’s billboard hit Step Out in 2005, followed by key instrumentals for Beenie Man, Aidonia, Masicka, and T.O.K.
Bird Sound Power is weighted with the potential to open up perceptions of current dancehall thanks to the mad character and broad reference points of its producers, encompassing King Jammy’s foundational digi-dub and Dave Kelly’s Mad House sound as much as rugged New York hip hop and the wigged-out, feminine pressure of Virginia Beach’s Timbaland or The Neptunes.
The oldest tune inside dates to 2009, but the rest are recent dancehall mutations, including a number of exclusives produced in the last 12 months. Each one reps for Equiknoxx’s unique aspects, such as Jordan Chung a.k.a. Time Cow’s brilliantly bizarre, layered arrangements of sawn-off hooks and digi-tight beats, also a result of their distinguished family vibe.
Bird Sound Power exists in a paradox, utterly fwd but classic, and with as much potential to turn new heads onto current JA sounds as Mowax’s Now Thing set back in 2001, which remains a key touchstone for so many contemporary producers. It’s one of the sharpest, most crucial DDS issues yet, check the clips and get sweaty...
Epic archival document from Raster Noton; the beginning of a comprehensive and authorized review of the past 20 years of the label. Comes with an exclusive CD featuring material from Kangding Ray, Emptyset, Alva Noto, Frank Bretschneider, Senking, Byetone, Atom Heart, Robert Lippok and more.
"A short introductory preface by Olaf Bender is followed by a keynote interview conducted by berlin publicist Max Dax that provides an insight into the identity and philosophy of the label heads. The main part of the book comprises the extensive catalog of all the releases published by the label between 1996 and 2016, while tabular listings of various formats and products that were distributed or curated by raster-noton complete the catalog.
A further exclusive part of the publication is the accompanying CD, which is only available when purchased with the book. Raster Noton‘s »archiv« series was first introduced in december 2003 as a supplement to »the wire« magazine and has since been continued in loose sequence with different artists related to the label. Following the idea of the label which defines itself as a platform for its artists, the releases in the catalog part are not presented according to their format, invested effort or meaning, but sorted according to their catalog number and presented on exactly one double page, whereas some series were summarized.
As a continuation of this archival revision, further books are planned that will document artist profiles, installations, composition techniques and sources of inspiration."
In the shimmering wake of The Boats’ boxset, Andrew Hargreaves tends to his Tape Loop Orchestra alias with the poignant, revenant symphony Held To The Light, which forms the latest in this excellent, limited-run series.
Originally conceived for a performance in Chicago and later re-arranged as this extended studio version, Held Against The Light peals with a rare soreness that speaks to severed connections.
What starts with an almost liturgical layering of voices and strings gradually decomposes into a lonely vapour trail, growing in intensity and distortion before once again reaching a meditative space, this time punctuated by plucked bass notes. We’re transported from some of TLO’s most radiant, voluminous energies to a saturation point where it all begins to decay.
We can only assume that this is a figurative manifestation of what TLO means in the accompanying text, “once the lines to the etheric have been crossed, call on the flow of knowledge contained in the infinite light, which reaches every plane of existence" as the piece’s harmonic structure begins to fall in on itself and resolve from internalised feelings to exigent sorrow and finally an upward sweep into higher frequencies of understanding and empathy, as opposed to literally higher sonic registers.
Those in search of beautiful modern classical/drone works that steer clear of heavy-handed emotional signposts should investigate without delay, especially if you’re into works by William Basinski, Stars of The Lid, Deathprod, GAS etc.
UK techno boss Sigha packages powerful 2nd album for Token some five years and a dozen releases since Living With Ghosts appeared on Hotflush.
Classically skooled yet contoured and rendered with up-to-the-minute production values, Metabolism lands at the lonely forefront of techno proper, skulking between dystopian, melancholic and ecstatic moods in eleven variations, some of them playing to convention, some of them pushing that prime.
It’s at its best when dealing with physical matter, as in the melted girder torque of Down at the front, or with the tornado simulation buried into the clubbing kicks of Interior, whilst the album’s most lucent highlight, Black Massing finds the right balance of rolling pressure and thizzing high-register atmospheres.
The Kid gives his wrist a rest to unfurl a suite of cinematic strings underlined by heavy bass and voiced by the elven-voiced Icelandic signer, Emiliana Torrini.
“Kid Koala’s Music To Draw To: Satellite is an uncharted musical journey: an expansive work of ambient electronic soundscapes and chilling ballads in collaboration with Icelandic artist Emilíana Torrini. This inaugural volume in the Music To Draw To series is Kid Koala's first non-sample-based record, instead using an array of synthesizers, keys, guitars, strings, turntables, and inventive recording techniques to portray this heartrending musical story about a couple separated by a mission to Mars.
The output is over 72 atmospheric minutes of stardust settling like fresh snow over Kid Koala’s trove of turntables and sentiment.”
Famed Labradfordians Mark Nelson and Robert Donne exhibit an even stronger desire for freeform synthetic experimentation on this second Anjou album for Kranky.
Picking up belatedly where their celebrated eponymous debut LP left off, Mark Nelson and Robert Donne’s Anjou project sounds as sublimated and spacious as ever on Epithymía. No longer in need of Kranky percussionist Steve Hess, Donne and Nelson distil the Anjou approach of framing their synthesis into a state of constant fluctuation down to a suite of six tracks. Largely favouring the long-form approach, this allows Donne and Nelson the freedom to truly express their creative intentions with Anjou
14-minute opener Culicinae is a fine example of this. Framed of five distinct movements, the track shifts between them with a subtle mastery that reveals itself with close attention. There are still whispers of Donne and Nelson’s post-rock inclinations from their Labradford days, evident in the percussive rainstorm that briefly filters through Culicinae, the abstracted bass that cuts through the gauzy, shapeless ambience of Greater Grand Crossing and the smartly deployed guitar drones towards the solemn closing moments of An Empty Bank.
The duo does find a semblance of rhythm on the swelling Soucouyant, choosing to toy with just a few refrains rather than let their fingers wander, whilst Glamr and Georgia combine for an eerie, intangible finale.