‘Trax Test’ is the first ever survey of Italy’s pioneering, visionary and influential label and mail art collective Trax, which ran from 1981 - 1987 as a network for the creation of collaborative projects. The collective included a pre-NWW Colin Potter and some of the earliest work from Masami Akita aka Merzbow, but also had deep connections with the art world; a few trax members went on to become famous designers and artists - Ettore Sottsass of hugely influential Memphis Group even guests on vocals on the last track of the compilation. The whole selection here is rare as heck and sorely in-demand by collectors, much of it now making its vinyl premiere some 30 odd years after the fact.
With credit due to compilers Vittore Baroni of Trax and Ecstatic’s avowed wave fiend, Alessio Natalizia (Not Waving) - who was also behind the ‘Mutazione (Italian Electronic & New Wave Underground 1980-1988)’ compilation - ‘Trax Test’ is a portal to the international scene which laid the grassroots for a proliferation of electronic music over the proceeding decades - a pioneering part of the infrastructure for independent music distribution which could be said to pre-echo the myriad social networks and platforms which exist for sharing music today.
As Frans De Waard astutely points out in the 16-page booklet, there were no ‘templates’ for this thing back then - as opposed to the forms of Soundcloud, Spotify or YouTube nowadays - meaning artists did everything DIY: from cutting, pasting and xeroxing their artwork to experimenting with recording techniques and disseminating their work; all resulting a wonderfully daring and freeform mosaic of ideas which valued the virtues of ostensibly ‘unfinished’ or open-ended work, compared with more expensive, ‘proper’ studio output.
Traces of disco, cosmic krautrock, jazz, electro-pop and industrial noise are all tessellated across the compilation’s 25 tracks, with a number of artists and the same equipment - cheap drum machines, synths, FX and tape - cropping up in various, mutant formations. In terms of obscurity, quality and variation, this set is right up there with the best compilations from Vinyl-on-Demand (an early supporter of this project), Light Sounds Dark (although Ecstatic guys did it legit, lol), or Minimal Wave, and likewise probably saves you the few months wages it would take to track down all the originals.
Fxcking bravo, we say!
Recipient of multiple reissues on Finders Keepers and Dead-Cert Home Ents in recent years, Swiss maestro Bruno Spoerri and percussionist Reto Weber’s hectic space mission, The Sound of the UFOs is now subject to deluxe, remastered reissue. If aliens landed in Switzerland, and could afford to stay there, they may have made music like this…
“Recorded live in Zurich in March 1978, THE SOUND OF THE UFOs finds Bruno & Reto improvising with a vast array of classic and customized synths and percussions from all corners of the globe (and the galaxy!). It’s cosmic free jazz in audio gear heaven with a heavy dose of ambient, krautrock, primitive proto-techno vibes, and experimental space disco with a musique concrète mentality - anything’s possible when a jazzman and a percussionist obsessed with finding new sounds collide and explore uncharted sonic territories! This groundbreaking gem is the ideal companion piece to Bruno Spoerri’s highly coveted VOICE OF TAURUS LP.
Still very active recording, touring and collaborating (Julian Sartorius, Franz Treichler of Young Gods, Marco Repetto of Grauzone, Roger Girod…), Bruno Spoerri is an award-winning mythical figure of Swiss music, whose career started in the 1950s and covers jazz, electronic music, film and tv work, and everything in between. Improvisational maestro and synthesizer mega-connoisseur, Mr. Spoerri has influenced an entire generation of producers and musicians - hell, even Jay-Z sampled him!”
I Speak Machine are vocalist and synth nerd Tara Busch and filmmaker Maf Lewis. Together they make brooding soundtracks and horror/sci-fi films, creating the audio and visual in unison and giving both elements equal prominence.
"Following the release of The Silence back in 2014, Busch and Lewis have teamed up with Benge from Wrangler/John Foxx & The Maths to work on their latest short film and album, Zombies 1985. The movie was written and directed by Maf Lewis, starred Gary Numan’s three daughters as zombies and was screened with the live score performed by Tara Busch in the States and UK on a 21 date tour with Numan.
Outlawing modern gear and using only 1985 period equipment to produce the album, I.S.M. made a virtue of their limitations, creating the sound of a neon-lit LA of the 1980s rapidly unspooling into chaos. The record was also mixed at Memetune studios using solely vintage mixers, effects and processing.
“I think the album expands on the movie a bit with 80s pop songs that have a bit of an apocalyptic feel to them,” says Bush. “We wanted to elaborate and get a bit more detailed on the world we created in the film. It felt really natural to have these songs bleed out of the score component of the album and keep building on it as much as we wanted.”
Man-machine Edward Upton aka DMX Krew boomerangs back to Hypercolour with a strong collection of melancholy, bittersweet brain dance and electro themes, some of his deftest and concise material in an ever-sprawling catalogue
“Since releasing his last album on Hypercolour in February 2016 (‘You Exist’), DMX Krew has not for one moment rested on laurels, releasing two further LPs on the Ekster and Abstract Form labels, as well as EPs and singles for Central Processing Unit, Shipwrec, Revoke and more. Continuing to remain faithful to the roots of electro, IDM and the deeper shades of techno, and without compromise, DMX Krew cranks out emotive and brain scrambling electronica at a mighty rate, and never disappoints.
‘Strange Directions’ is album number 21 from DMX Krew, and lands once more on Hypercolour, the British label that continues to make heady waves in the music scene with genre shifting releases from the like of Matthew Herbert, Luke Vibert, Gary Gritness, The Cyclist, Outboxx and A Sagittariun in the last 12 months alone.
You’ll know what kind of ride you are in for from the first few bars of album opener ‘Snowy Blue’; hypnotizing bass and spatial keys float over dusty micro breaks, produced with an infectious aesthetic that continues over the long player’s fifty-five minute tenure.
Experimental and expansive joints such as ‘Odd Chill’ and ‘Strange Directions’ sit comfortably alongside funkier techno jams such as ‘Thin Hype’ and ‘Zero Sum’, whilst the melancholic synth sensibilities of tracks like ‘Hip Hopeless’ and ‘Axial Mode Beat’ catches DMX Krew on fine form.
Another fine set of highly polished and visionary electronic goodies from one of the scene’s most dedicated and consistent players.”
Lethal club injections from Pinch & Mumdance, reprising the duo which battered the ‘floor with Double Barrelled Mitzi + Legion back in 2015, but this time on a fierce sorta Stingray-meets-Ray Keith flex.
Totally in step with the zeitgeist, Control hits right on the mark between Detroit electro and militant D&B, finessing Stingray-style cattle prod stabs and 808 bass hits with swarming electronics, then unleashing a dive-bombing breakdown right out of the Dark Soldier or Doc Scott field manual. You can pitch this one right up from 139bpm to near 150bpm for proper ‘ardcore spice.
B-side Strobe is more in the vein of their deconstructed club style, cannily using the sound of flickering strobe machine as the nervy meter for a bolshy but tightly buttoned up hybrid of tracky Chicago and staccato instrumental grime tropes. Pure tension. Mind yr jaw there, pal.
Recipient of multiple reissues on Finders Keepers and Dead-Cert Home Ents in recent years, Swiss maestro Bruno Spoerri’s prog synth disco ‘masterpiece’ Voice of Taurus is subject to deluxe reissue via Geneva’s We Release Whatever The Fuck We Want Records, offering a cosmic spooj of curdled space scapes and wobbly grooves for the naughtiest disco rimmers and fans of Bernard Fevre aka Black Devil’s Disco Club.
“Surrounded with a formidable family of legendary synthesizers, primitive modulators, and audio gear transformed and customized à la Spoerri, armed with an extraordinary talent for improvisation, and deeply inspired by the likes of Wendy Carlos, Pierre Schaeffer, and the then freshly released Close Encounter of the Third Kind, Bruno Spoerri envisioned VOICE OF TAURUS as "electronic pop conceived using an experimental and jazz approach". The result is an out-of-this-world sonic adventure where early techno sounds blend with synth-based sci-fi soundtrack vibes, krautrock explorations, and retro-futuristic disco madness - it’s unique, it’s catchy, it’s cosmic, it’s meditative - it’s a must have for all record collectors of the galaxy…welcome to Planet Spoerri!
Still very active recording, touring and collaborating (Julian Sartorius, Franz Treichler of Young Gods, Marco Repetto of Grauzone, Roger Girod…), Bruno Spoerri is a multiple award-winning Swiss music icon, whose career started in the 1950s and covers jazz, electronic music, film and tv work, and everything in between. Improvisational maestro and synthesizer mega-connoisseur, Mr. Spoerri has influenced an entire generation of producers and musicians - hell, even Jay-Z sampled him!”
A proper bobby dazzler, this; DJ Finn ramps his favourite regional U.S. heroes - DJ Technics, Jammin Gerald, Rod Lee, DJ Tameil, Dukeyman and more - to a hi-energy 150bpm, regardless of their original tempo, and the results are just fucking irresistible, really.
It’s a concept and tempo close to our tachycardic hearts and executed with all the enviable adroitness we’d expect from one of the baddest yung DJs in Manchester and beyond. One for the whip!
Beats In Space smoke-burp the penultimate instalment of Palmbomen II’s gauzy Memories of Cindy series, intended to slot into a 4 x LP box set which, by all means, looks a bit hard to get hold of.
Pt. 3 dishes up some of the creamiest, hypnagogic 303 work and acid-faded synth-pop that you’re likely to hear since 1991’s debut lush-out for Opal Tapes, gently taking us by the hand from the simmering new age serenity of Ultimate Lovestory Fantasy to a pocket of John Hughes-movie romance in Wilco’s Funeral, touching on tattered tribal patterns and choral coos for the disco in Teleac, and coughing up something verily tasty for the DJs and dancers who like the jack sprung and psychedelic in Disappointment Island.
File in your xanny boogie section.
Dizzee does Dizzee on his 6th studio album, entitled Raskit in tribute to an early moniker and studio name he used circa Boy In Da Corner. While that reference may sound (good) alarm bells, we assure you it’s no Man In Da Corner, but, thanks to an absence of PR company-appointed ‘guests’ , it is a much firmer follow-up to the americanised commercialism of The Fifth, with Dizzee front and centre flanked by hip hop and pop-wise US producers such as The Arcade, Salva, and Cardo, and highlights from Israeli artist Dan Farber, and UKG+F legend Donae’o.
It’s not strictly grime and it’s not really hip hop, or even road rap, but it’s definitely not electro-house a la Bonkers. Instead, Raskit hits somewhere between grime and hip hop, paced and spaced to his dextrous cadence and rhyme style in a way that should appeal to anyone who’s appreciated his lines since the start. As you might expect, there’s a lot of talk about being a celebrity in the ‘hood and how that affects his relationship with pretty much everyone, from other MCs to going on dates, but it’s delivered with a wry humour and f**k-it attitude that treads the right side of the confident/arrogant dichotomy.
If you’re after straight up bangerz, Donae’o’s got your sorted on the grime/UKF beat for Sick A Dis, and in case you haven’t listened to radio for the last few months, then Wot U Gonna Do is also up there, while the cheekiest moments come up in two beats by Borgore affiliate, Dan Farber, namely the rude skank of Ghost and Business Man’s sparky grind.
As one of the most enigmatic figures of the 1970′s Italian soundtrack and library music network Emma De Angelis and her short recording career provides thirsty fans of speedball psychedelic rock and drum heavy instrumental funk with a tight discography rivalling many of the long-standing bastions of the otherwise male-orientated business.
"Born in Rocca di Papa, near Rome, into a flourishing musical environment Emma was the younger sister of future award-winning composers Guido And Maurizio De Angelis, a duo, who under names like Oliver Onions and Dream Bags, would write chart-topping lyrical theme tunes for a wide range of Italian crime, Giallo and Spaghetti Western films featured alongside full scores by Ennio Morricone and the Magnetic System composers (Bixio Frizzi Tempera).
With encouragement from her brothers, Emma, who would also write music under the pseudonym of Juniper, would record a tight clutch of solo-penned material and seldom credited studio contributions to Guido And Maurizio’s film commissions, such as the score for Giuliano Carnimeo’s Simone e Matteo: Un gioco da ragazzi (aka Convoy Buddies). While simultaneously pursuing a career as an illustrator and set designer the De Angelis family contacts would lead Emma to the offices of Romano Di Bari, whose up-and-coming Flirt label was finding success providing custom built mood music for use in TV and film. Alongside important composers like Alessandro Alessandroni, Gerardo Iacoucci and A. R. Luciani, the young Emma Di Angelis would record a small number of tracks for a compilation called Underground Mood (credited in the small print to E De Angelis – not to be confused with Italian singer Edoardo De Angelis). It is from this rare LP that the record you are now holding is compiled. Within the Flirt family of labels Emma De Angelis would also share schedules with other important female composers such as Daniela Casa and Giulia “Kema” De Mutiis – both of whom have appeared on dedicated Finders Keepers releases.
The tracks on this record provide us with a rare glimpse into Emma De Angelis’ short musical career before she became a full-time visual artist. With an unknown personnel or studio date it is easy to speculate a potential family jam in Piero Umiliani’s Sound Workshop studio in 1972. One only has to take a listen to Guido And Maurizio’s instrumental theme Gangster Story from Enzo G. Castellari’s 1973 thriller High Crime (which later appeared on Tarantino’s Death Proof soundtrack) or the trippy title theme to Paolo Poeti’s kinky 1976 drama Inhibition to spot the family resemblance.”
Vancouver’s excellent Total Stasis deliver greazy darkroom garage house from Second Language, backed with multiple, slinkier Bluntman Deejay remixes.
The original mix is the one for us, a meaty bash of toms and kicks underlined by a protein-fuelled bassline built to please, please, thank you very much. On the other hand, Bluntman Deejay’s mixes replace the sleaze with more pedestrian chord progression and skinnier beats that pretty much neuter the sexiness of the original.
Blind Owl Wilson was a truly great guitarist and vocalist who's deep well of psychedelic blues songs were buried amongst the catalog of major label rockin' blues band Canned Heat.
"Blind Owl served as Canned Heat's guitarist and would chip in a song here and there as a front man. A couple of those songs became huge hits in the 60's - "Going Up The Country" and "On The Road Again". Blind Owl's songs for Canned Heat stood in stark contrast to the bands blustery blues rock - his was a gentle and nuanced voice and the themes of his song were all about personal heartbreak, grasping for cosmic understanding, and ecological justice.
Here we have an LP of Blind Owl's songs from Canned Heat's records - left to sit alone and take you somewhere unexpected. Blind Owl's personal vision quest can be heard throughout these songs. "Poor Moon' tells the tale of Alan's heartbreak as he watches the moon being misguidedly bombed by man, 'My time ain't long' confronts death, "Parthenogen in 3 Blind Owls' and 'Parthenogen childs end' take you to the psychedelic limits, and oh yes, we have the hit tunes on here too. Co-release with Sutro Park records. A true psychedelic masterpiece!"
Repress of this very handy Carl Craig compilation, originally released in 2008 and covering alternate and (then) unreleased mixes of some C2 classics...
Inc Paperclip People’s Throw and Innerzone Orchestra’s Bug In The Bassbin, along with his massive remixes of Junior Boys’ Like A Child and Rhythm & Sound’s Poor People Must Work, plus the Sessions mixes of Beanfield’s Tides and Delia Gonzales & Gavin Russom’s Relevee. Also the only place you’ll find his rare 69 tune, Psychobeat.
Country-rock meets ambient electronics on the debut LP by Madeline Kenney and producer, Chaz Burdock aka Toro Y Moi. RIYL Mazzy Star, Calexico...
“Madeline Kenney begins her new album with a helpful reminder: “Don’t forget, there’s room for you.” The declaration is meant to lay to rest unnecessary competition. The universe is pretty large. It’s a fitting welcome to Kenney’s debut full-length, "Night Night At The First Landing." The record is framed by meditative, repetitive recordings that each offer some kind of encouragement. "Don't you worry about a thing, you're fine." "I won't give up on anything now." The trip on "Night Night" is deciding whether the narrator is full of confidence or talking to themselves privately.
Kenney began working on the record immediately after completing her first EP, 2016’s Signals. As with Signals, Company Records label head Chaz Bear (Toro Y Moi) was on hand as producer, but with Kenney as the arranger and key creative force, "Night Night" reveals more of the artist. Kenney wrote and arranged all the songs and tracked most of the instruments at home.
"No one's a hero for just being strong," Kenney sings on first single “Rita,” letting us know it’s about action and how that strength is utilized. It takes guts. The song bursts with an exhilarating guitar workout providing a clear-headed version of distorted bliss. Similarly euphoric is a math-y tapout on “Witching Hour.” Narratives of people and how those people affect others are surrounded by musical worlds of echo and propulsion. The melody through-line of “Always” is a transfixing piano part of royal heritage. “Big One” is a lyrical puzzle and a musical skip across happy times.
The album is unavoidably dreamy, dipping into sweet fuzz while usually sailing through smooth, crystalline production. The songs are about people, and though people sometimes disappoint, this record is meant to comfort. Fall into it and imagine the clouds scooping you up, or the changing tide’s ripples gliding you past a gentle moon’s new reflection.”
Jim Jarmusch and Jozef Van Wissem met on the streets of New York in 2006. They shared a lot of interest and background so a collaboration and a friendship was born.
"Jarmusch was looking to have Van Wissem compose a score for a film he had been trying to make for years, what he described as a “crypto-vampire film” about two lovers, outsider types who have been in love for hundreds of years. Van Wissem’s work comes from a tradition of avant-garde minimalism and lends itself well to the director’s stark cinematic works. Jarmusch has played guitar in bands on and off since the late ‘70s.
Van Wissem’s compositional style involves hypnotic circular musical phrases that allow for a lot of contemplative space between the notes. Their first live performance was in Issue Project Room in Brooklyn in October 2011, where they appeared together for a Van Wissem curated concert program called “New Music for Early Instruments.” The idea for their first album, Concerning the Entrance Into Eternity (Important Records) developed from their live performance. Jarmusch has said that he considers these songs as Van Wissem’s compositions, and sees himself as someone filling in the background to Jozef ’s foreground, like the “scenic” on a film shoot, the one who paints the backdrops.
“The sound of the lute is as bright as the sun, a beautiful red color and my stuff sounds sort of like the moon, more like blue, like mercury.” This newest album, The Mystery of Heaven was recorded in New York with help from hypnotic Tilda Swinton on guest vocals."
Nice retro synth music steeped in new age ‘80s vibes from Adam Feingold aka Ex Terrestrial, following suit with his handful of releases scattered over Apron, 1080p and L.P.C. over the last few years.
One for lazy days and long nights in, Ex Terrestrial floats from avian electronic chirrups and percolated choral synths in Ka Y to involve sax player Emmanuel Thibau on two parts, the shuffling krauty bliss-out Bowed Glass and midnight electro-jazz sway of Birds, whereas Nymphs firms up a genteel sorta proto-house jack and Spacial Dub sounds like something released by Palace Of Lights circa 1982.
LMA rub out four clinically crisp and tangy electro worx, improvised exclusively on modular gear for Dimensions Festival’s steadily expanding label arm.
Clearly echoing the styles of vintage Two Lone Swordsmen and Radioactiveman, they tweak their gear in slippery style from sliding 303s and loping groove in Hands & Brains, to simmering funk in False Prophecy and the fathoms deep Forbidden, and the carefully clipped torque and strutting pace of I Settled For Her Leftovers.
FYI Chris on a skewed jazz-house pivot again for Church
Following their debut 10” No Hurry / Juliette  and 12”s for Rhythm Section, Lionel, West Friends, with four tracks that nimbly step from tucked-in jazz-house to organ and synth-led proto-house styles via lo-fi deep house and sliding jazz-dub variations, at times feeling like the worst bits of the ‘90s, at others like the awkward early hours of a posh student house party. And unfortunately so as there was something a bit smarter, idiosyncratic about their Snafubar 12” for Rhythm Section. Oh well.
Out of print since 1987...
"Born as Florian Fricke’s brainchild, Popol Vuh needs little introduction, the band stayed active between the late 1960s & late 1990s (until Florian’s passing in 2001). Regarded as pioneers in avant-garde German electronic music, their early works practically laid down the foundations for ‘Kosmische Muzik’ (Space Music) with the then new sounds of the Moog synthesizer joined with ethnic percussions. Later the group evolved to include all kinds of instruments (both electric and acoustic alike) shrouding their music in a spiritual & introspective mystical aura.
Popol Vuh influenced many other European bands with their uniquely soft but elaborate instrumentation, which took inspiration from the music of Tibet, Africa and pre-Columbian America. With music sometimes described as "ethereal", they created soundscapes through psychedelic walls of sound, and are regarded as precursors of contemporary ‘world music’, as well as of ‘new age’ and ‘ambient’. The band regularly contributed soundtracks to the films of Werner Herzog that include classics like ‘Aguirre’, ‘Nosferatu’, ‘Heart Of Glass’ & of course ‘Cobra Verde’.
Cobra Verde (featuring Klaus Kinski) was the final collaboration between Popol Vuh & director Werner Herzog. Originally released in 1987, this is the first time the soundtrack gets a vinyl release outside of Europe.
Regal chants accompanied by hand drums, guitars, piano and clavier in a sacred manner are alternated with synthesizer themes that have a tense/dramatic & haunting effect. African ceremonial music and the Choir of the Bavarian State Opera corner this as a landmark meditative & ambient piece of cosmic music."
Gerry Read shakes it for Ramp with six rugged ’n raw house trax in his crooked style
Covering a low-key spectrum of styles between the rusty carillon chime and woodblock drums of Crisis and the 154-meets-Herbert styled rumble and fuzz of Bounty Methods up top, then taking in the all too short jazz-house cistern vignette of RIPINSMLEYR and an 8-bit disco-house scramble with Frankly on the flip.
DeepChord’s Rod Modell, together with peers Chris McNamara, Walter Wasacz and Michael Mantra [R.I.P.], offer an immersive, hour long portrait of Lakeport, Michigan in the spring rain with Shoreside’s Summer Cottage Soundscapes. Expect a sublime suspension system of wistful ambient strokes, distant bird calls and crackling ambient embers evoking intimate times up-country.
“Shorelights, "Summer Cottage Music" Recorded in the drizzle at Armstrong's Lakeport Resort Campground, Lakeport Michigan, Spring 2017. A quadraphonic recording. EQ curves optimized for low-volume playback. Mastered to Tandberg TD20A. Field recordings via Sound Devices 702 + Core-Sound High End Binaural Microphones, and Marantz PMD-430 stereo cassette + Crown SASS Microphone. The sound of sitting on the back-porch, watching Lake Huron during a spring drizzle. Strange lights glistening in the trees. The omnipresent pulse of Mother Earth in the countryside.
Quiet sonics / energies not experienced in today's busy metropolises. This and a pair of headphones is a ticket to a lakeside camp in a warm spring rain. Sensuous and evocative. A 60 minute sound sphere designed for escapism and exquisitely emulates an environment to drift and engage in quiet relief, one that is highly-dynamic and seriously sublime.”
LA’s Astral Plane hub-turned-label coughs up the pulsating Heffalump from Loft’s acclaimed debut, Turbulent Dynamics, backed with the glitching reflux of B-More-meets-UK ‘ardcore vortices in I Am Buoyant.
Tipped by everyone from Mixmag to RA, who named Heffalump their #8 best track of 2016, it’s become something of Joel Sinclair aka Loft’s calling card; a subtly diffracted slice of sub-aquatic/outer-space club music riddled with palpitating drums and under an amorphous pressure system precipitating whirligig trance coda by the track’s end.
The B-side’s I AM Buoyant is an entirely new production, locking into weightless club styles with fractious breakbeat tessellations that intersect B-More, UK rufige and Jersey styles in a similar way to Millie & Andrea’s, but with a more melodramatic flourish.
Dextrous new experiments in ambient-related electronics from original West Coast new age adepts, K. Leimer and Marc Barreca
“Dual Mono is the third Barreca | Leimer collaboration. The process used for producing Dual Mono was designed to destabilize established habits and predilections in favor of responding to the music in at least subjectively new ways. It was also designed to reduce the illusion of control, to become more responsive to and accepting of unpredicted outcomes, and to give the music—as much as possible—a voice less tampered with.
Each piece for Dual Mono was authored by only one of the participants, the other receiving MIDI data and being limited to revoicing the composition. With a general goal of maintaining a result that was somewhat, though not purely, minimalist in sympathy, each piece was then assembled in its final form by the originator, now limited to controlling relative levels, crossfades, editing and processing. The final fifteen pieces that span two CDs embrace a range of emergent, generative and traditional forms that express a calm, informed ambience amid unsettled, shifting soundscapes.
Of an earlier collaboration, Textura stated “the sheer density of sound presented in representative settings such as ‘Loess’, ‘Talus’, and ‘Oram’ is incredible, and one comes away from Field Characteristics convinced that the claim regarding the hundreds of sounds involved in the recording’s presentation is clearly fact, not hyperbole.””
Edward and Marquis Hawkes rerun the classical strings and keys of Luca D’Alberto’s Endless album track Wait For Me in their own image.
Edward gives it a posh house rework ripe for poncing around german countryside and doing limp fist pumps in front of the DJ booth, along with a shorter Ambience remix. Flipside, Marquis Hawkes puts some weight under the hood for a more brooding, ruder take on the same elements.
Volte-Face rolls four bone-dry techno girders into place on his BleeD label, with a much brighter Wata Igarishi remix offering some respite or contrast.
The Londoner’s 1st solo outing of 2017 follows his gloomy remix of Phil Moffa’s Decimation with a more stoic adjustment of style here, taking in the bumpy hydraulics and search ’n destroy drones of Murmuration along with the dank underwater stepper Lethalogica, a keening, Emptyset-style structral stress test in No Flags Wave Me Home, and the sawtoothed grind of Blatchington Mill to effectively weigh up his most substantial release to date.
Luke Abbott exercises his aerobic mystic urges as Earldom Mystics with the techno-electronica turns of the Waters EP
Chasing up his Truth EP with four hypnotic pieces, at best in the stealth trance of Waters and at more experimental ends with chattering modular torque of Omnishambles and the glancing harmonic refractions of PIGG.
PointilisticT maestro Lorenzo Senni follows the Roland JP-8000 lead lines of his acclaimed Quantum Jelly, Superimpositions, and Persona LPs into The Shape Of Trance To Come - serving one of the series’ most distinctive deconstructions and augmentations of ‘90s trance archetypes.
Suited in Warp’s classic purple disco sleeve artwork, usually reserved for their dancefloor-dedicated cuts, these one serves its purpose with expert, avant gurn control bound to masticate the ‘floor and turn us all into cowie-faced Bussells and Acostas (if only in our own heads).
DBA catch a batch of off-the-cuff house experiments with some canny results calling Jamal Moss in full flow, or Legowelt going eyes-shut in the studio...
“Hamburg's Achim Maerz arrives on DBA with an expansive twelve track package. Split across a 12 ep and a cassette, 'Experiments' is a collection of live, improvised house jams recorded in the summer of 2015 in the artist's home studio. The title refers to the fast and rough recording of the material, with the aim of catching a mood before process and self-awareness take over. Fans of Maerz' previous releases on the essential Wake Up! label amongst others will immediately recognise his trademark, ethereal house sound.”
Chunky deep house from UK’s Doc Daneeka, shaking the bumpty swing job of LUV UNLTD starring the unmistakeable vocals of Robert Owens in an Unprotected Sax Mix, and again on the clipped budge of Another Time Pt.2.
Mazzy Star's classic album, finally officially reissued on vinyl.
On this, the band’s second album, the core emphasis remained a nexus point between country, folk, psych, and classic rock all shrouded in mystery, and Hope Sandoval's trademark drowsy drawl remained swathed in echo.
Crammed Records herald Matias Aguayo & The Desdemonas’ upcoming debut album, Sofarnopolis with the sleazy, grungy death rock/industrial swagger of Cold Fever (7” edit) and a masterful ghosted dub from Trevor Jackson.
Mad Professor digs into his archive, comes up smelling of ganja and dusty machinery with 9 previously unreleased dubs
Includes an unused track from the Black Ark Sessions 2015 tribute to Lee Scratch Perry, and a coupla rhythms from Sly and Robbie.
The modular maestro mounts his most varied solo release to date with the sci-fi knots and whorls of Two Orb Reel for the More Than Human label, who’ve previously yielded ace LPs from Pye Corner Audio and Dieter Moebius.
Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe follows up his Kulthan pearl for Latency (go check this one, we can’t get enough of it!) with an absorbingly wistful and coolly suggestive sound inside, knitting raw electricity into a series of impeccably refined and chamber-considered vignettes that leave lots to the imagination.
Blessed with a sense of rhythmic cadence and controlled ballistics that sets his music apart from the now swelling modular milieu, Robert Lowe coaxes out his machines’ spirits and voices with the touch of a industrial era illusionist who has just realised how to spellbind crowds with the “magic” of electricity, enabling him to soundtrack, as the label puts it, “emotions of wonder, fear and transcendence.” OK, we’re not wide eyed Victorians with pagan beliefs in the supernatural (well, then again…), but records like this one certainly do challenge the mundane logic of any more skeptical listeners as to the existence of something “other” when it comes to electronic music.
In 14 parts ranging from sub 1-minute mysteries to more expansive tracts of uniquely metered plong offset with curdled melodic and harmonic developments, the allure, as with much of Lowe’s music, lies in the way he naturally bridges those aspects so that everything moves in viscous union to extrude your head through the maze. And in the classic sense of African rhythmelodic musics, there are no ‘tricks’ or ‘drops’ - effectively spectacles - to speak of, instead placing focus on the journey or the ‘trek’ and insisting the listener is both physically and mentally rolled around inside their structures, fluidly engaging one’s proprioceptions in a way that bypasses or at least smudges what are putatively western-rooted compositional conventions.
Very canny recordings, Warmly recommended.
Necessary, remastered reissue of Gigi Masin's quietly breathtaking ambient-pop masterpiece.
Wind, a.k.a. Masin's best known work, was first issued in 1986 on his private imprint, Bear In The Moon, and marked the start of a respected catalogue which has most recently flourished with his prized contributions to the Music From Memory label, including a sublime solo 2LP compilation and the Gaussian Curve album, beside his work on that brilliant Lifted LP for PAN alongside Co la and Max D.
Coming from a similar place, spiritually speaking, as the pioneering ambient work of K. Leimer and Savant, and even finding modern antecedents in the exploratory, innovative arrangements of Beatrice Dillon, 'Wind' is a total dream for lovers of introspective electronica or ambient music at large, coaxing thee most tender, nuanced sensations from a palette of piano, synth, guitar, trumpet and tenor sax fringed with tape FX and those sparingly-used but heart-rending vocals. A sense of vulnerability and fragility is palpable and core to the record's appeal, beckoning the listener to leave your woes at the door with the sanguine, grown pop of 'Call Me' before subtly stripping us down across the creaking, soft-focussed edges electronics and expressive sax in 'Swallow's Tempest', thru the B-side's beautiful space tones, to the floating tone poem which lays us to rest and closes the record in 'The Sea of Sand'.
Echospace nuzzle your cochlea with a painstakingly restored demo of Steve Hitchell’s work as Radius, initially recorded live to tape between 1995-2000, now restored to gauzy bliss and repackaged with a bonus disc of CV313 reworks. Oceanic, intergalactic, timeless; total manna for dub house ambient fiends!
“An unreleased classic from the vaults emerges with beautiful reshapes by cv313 (recorded and reshaped from 2007-2016). This is where the sound of cv313 was realized, culled from cassette tapes recorded live (1995-2000) with nothing but analog/digital hardware, no computer in sight (excluding our Commodore 64 midi sequencer, which is still alive and well today). The radius project has been absent since the final release in 2001, the first 12" appearing in 1996 (limited white label run of 100 copies pressed at Acme pressing in Canada) after revisiting these works we realized there was truly some magic here. This project was initially sent to Rod Modell & Mike Schommer shortly after they launched their brilliant deepchord label in 2001. They were incredibly kind in saying it was the best demo they had ever heard and passed it on to Octal records for release, sadly, that didn't materialize and since then these masters have been collecting dust in our cassette rack for nearly 20 years now. We've spent months doing our best to restore the old tapes from our Tascam 688, an 8 track cassette recorder purchased and abused since 1992 and to our ears still sounds quite impressive even by modern standards. (that is of course, if you can get past the tape hiss) We've had nearly every component replaced and re-calibrated to bring this obsolete machine back to life, it's been a truly nostalgic experience re-visiting these masters.
We truly hope you enjoy reliving these magical times of music, very inspired by all that was happening in those years, there was just something in the air, an undeniable energy, long may it live on…”
Peverelist re-presses the mighty "Roll With The Punches" after Drake sampled it...
The track is essentially quite downcast, but the elongated synth that comes in, flailing and oscillating with no set agenda halfway through the track, elevates it into the company of the most treasured tunes in your box - tracks that don't entirely make sense on first listen but which eventually plaster themselves to your mind with stubborn determination.
"Die Brucke" clings to a 4/4 template straight out of Berlin and employing cushioned pads and lilting Sino melodies, it's a soft breeze of a track that once again achieves so much with the barest ingredients.
Having become the stuff of eBay legend, Southern Lord have decided to officially re-release the first demo recordings from Sunn O, chucking in the previously unavailable 'Grimm & Bear It' for extra fortification. Sunn O describe 'The Grime Robe Demos' as "seventy-two minutes of bestial riffing and unholy drone" and who are we to disagree. Sunn O deal in wave after wave of oppressive guitars and bass which is dealt up in twenty-minute chunks that leave you shaken and disorientated. Imagine the loud, squally bits of Mogwai but without the rhythms or any hope of it all reducing down into melodious calm and you're almost there. Not for the faint hearted.
First “new” Source Direct issue in 15 years, anyone?! Piggybacking the Nonplus+ reissue of The Crane, this is a 1-sided Alternate Mix of that D&B classic, written in 1999, and presumably right before the duo split at the turn of the millennium.
It’s a starker, skeletal edit of the golden ’96 original, reset with a pre-milennial warehouse tension that replaces the kung-fu chops with a more fluid sorta tai chi flow, still dark and ruff as f**k but with more space and ghostly atmosphere factored by some properly rotten bass juts.
This is the second track to be made available from Mogwai’s ‘Every Country’s Sun’ album.
"‘Party In The Dark’ combines a post punk blueprint with expansive space rock and has been described by Dazed as “a New Order-nodding melodic joy.”
The band recently performed their new album in its entirety for the first time in a triumphant surprise show at this year’s Primavera Sound, Barcelona
‘Eternal Panther’ is an exclusive new track."
Nonplus trigger a keenly awaited series of Source Direct remasters + remixes with their Hokusai killer, 'Black Rose' (1996), reworked by Blawan.
Killer 12" illuminating a pivotal pinnacle of '90s dance music for a new generation whilst also providing fresh, state-of-the-art context thru modern scenes. Beloved of everyone from Kode 9 to Nonplus+'s infamous boss, Boddika, the original 'Black Rose' is an unparalleled blueprint for mid '90s jungle, a 'marish phantasia of slashing strings, bowel-spilling Reese bass and ouroboros-like breakbeats chasing their tails in MPC-twysted möbius loop chicanery.
Approaching such watertight and impenetrable material is no small task, and one which Blawan executes with style, reducing the breaks and strings to a brute but slinky shunt and pensive drone tucking the original dynamic deeper in the pocket. It's masterful, unmissable work from both operators, and a sterling, adroit example of UK dance music at its visionary, hybridising best.
One of SD’s most in-demand, definitive ’96 jungle platters comes again on NonPlus+ to satiate demand and circumvent 2nd hand prices, backed with a delicious techno rework by Inland / Function.
The Crane is arch, poised, amen kung fu at its finest; proper strong back business for twisting bodies trapped between the strobes and 2 foot high in the fog doing their best Bruce Lee. The kind of stuff that makes, well, pretty much everything ever pale in comparison in light of its ingenuity and inimitable technicality.
After sterling examples by Demdike Stare and Blawan, Berlin’s Inland/Function duo continue a theme of great remixes in this series with their nine minute version kitted out in militant early ‘90s UR drums and cloaked in deepest, swarming techno synth pads.
Since 'Night Drive' triggered an avalanche of copy-cats and even a film - Nicolas Winding Refn's 'Drive' - and although we were all blessed with Johnny Jewel's sumptuous 'Symmetry, Themes for an Imaginary Film', the Chromatics proper have been noticeably absent save for 2010's fan-appeasing 'In The City' EP.
So yeah, it's great to have 'em back. 'Kill For Love' was worth the wait, greeting us with 16 songs pushing Ruth Radelet and Adam Miller's vocals front and centre over slipperiest synths and purposeful arpeggios gleaming with a lustful, cinematic electro-noir backdrop painstakingly assembled by Johnny Jewel. The whole thing just oozes class and confidence, from the opening cover of Neil Young's Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)' to the teasing synth flutters of 'Lady', via visionary instrumental interludes to 'The River''s heartbreaking sentiment, some seventy minutes later, leaving any witnesses rapt and deeply gratified.
While the previous Amen Dunes records have all been largely improvisational first-take affairs, recorded in a matter of weeks at most, Love is the product of close to a year and a half of continuous work by Damon McMahon.
"Unlike McMahon’s earlier Amen Dunes recordings, which were almost always a solo affair, the music on Love was performed by a variety of musicians, including his longtime collaborators Jordi Wheeler on guitar and piano, and Parker Kindred on drums. McMahon chose to hold the main recording sessions for Love in Montreal with Dave Bryant and Efrim Menuck of Godspeed You! Black Emperor.
In addition to recording the sessions that McMahon produced, members of Godspeed also played on several of the songs. So did saxophonist Colin Stetson and Elias Bender-Ronnenfelt of Iceage, who duets with McMahon on two tracks. This project has always seen McMahon guided by traditional song and sound, but Love is the first work in which this clearly shines through. The result is de- finitively the most substantial Amen Dunes record to date. These are elemental songs about time, love and memory, as much about the listener as they are about the writer: pure, open, and beautiful."
NYC's Margaret Chardiet aka Pharmakon churns her guts out in this bloodied follow-up to her acclaimed album debut, 'Abandon' (2013).
Four days before she was supposed to fly to Europe, touring in support of 'Abandon', Margaret had a medical emergency which resulted in major surgery and the loss of an organ. 'Bestial Burden' was realised during this time, written and fleshed-out whilst she came to terms with the situation; "I thought of my corporeal body anthropomorphically, with a will or intent of its own, outside of my will's control, and seeking to sabotage.
I began to explore the idea of the conscious mind as a stranger inside an autonomous vessel, and the tension that exists between these two versions of the self.” The results manifest Pharmakon's most affective piece of work, a claustrophobic and deeply unsettling suite of six wretched, gasping industrial deviations amplifying her internal conflict to harrowing degrees from the panic attack of 'Vacuum', thru the howling frustrations of 'Body Betrays Itself', to the possessed terror in 'Bestial Burden'.
Aye, it's not for the faint hearted.
Kölnisch secret weapon, Mattes Schwarz - erstwhile resident DJ of a notorious after-hours club in the German city - debuts on Magazine with a three track set built for stamina sessions on the ‘floor.
His debut 12” revolves three solid and decidedly teutonic tech-house trax, getting into gear with the wiggly, druggy grinder There Are Secrets, which totally smacks of long nights/early mornings in the ‘00s, then getting a bit fruitier with the clipped shuffle and off-key,w navy vibe of I Don’t Know, and going for the duration with the swingy hi-hats and percolating chords of From The Distance.
NKC brings his killer drum palette back to Her Records with three carnival-ready riddims twisting the boomy styles of his Hague Basement EP hard off the bone with irresistible, latinate swerve.
Tincture builds a pensive head with militant batacuda patterns swarmed by mechanical bees and panic-station bleeps, then unleashes something like a drunken master take on c*nty ballroom with pendulous, staggered kicks and noise knotted at nagging angles.
Puncture is more direct, hitting hard from the front with cavernous percussion and industrial squeals stripped to the bare essentials in a way that makes so much other stuff sound overly fussy and boujee, before landing at the powerful samba-style charge of Dual Power, whose humid breakdown and reprise offers the only sort of melodic respite in the EP, which is no bad thing.
RIYL Príncipe, Sudanim, Untold
Hamburg’s Phil Struck joins Quiet Time Tapes’ somnolent series with a steeply acousmatic session of grayscale tones and organic electronics that feels like the results of Basic House on a febrile bender with Helm in Wanda Group’s basement, which just happens to have a secret hatch into Henry Spencer’s apartment.
Found in a half light between lo-fi, small sound scrabble and ambient queasy listening, QTT5 unfolds in eight parts along the reel’s ∞ axes, dragging the listener across the tapehead from the reclaimed mechanical ambience of 24, to zoom in on Black To Comm-alike sci-fi dankness in Telescope and document some arcane game involving rusty pipes and seagulls in CCLT, before bathing in puddled new age tones with Untitled.
Rosegate opens the B-side at a more abstract angle with piercing string glissandi, waterlogged chords and spasming electronics like something that escaped from Actress’ studio late at night, before the beautiful, mirage like Amber hovers into view like a Huerco S vision, dissipating into the noxious atmospheric swamplands of Delta and the bittersweet harmonic resolution of Oaoa at its perimeter.
The sense of ambiguity is strong and key to the appeal of QTT5, which operates right on that jagged line between OOBEy detachment, romantic introspection and discomfiting yet compelling sensations of “maybe I shouldn’t be here, but…”
Copenhagen’s Beastie Respond attempts to personally parse the internet’s glut of information in a scattershot batch flinging himself between mutant hybrids of juke/footwork, jungle, grime and trap...
“Last year it was estimated, that every minute 400 hours' worth of content was uploaded to YouTube, 2,430,555 posts were liked on Instagram, and 6,944,444 videos were watched on Snapchat. And these figures won't stay static. The amount of data we upload, and in turn the amount we consume every year, is growing exponentially. As this expanding data pool grows, making sense of it becomes concurrently more difficult; the distinctions between dream and reality, fact and fiction, truth and lie fade to obscurity.
‘Information City’, the sophomore album from Copenhagen's Tobias Hjørnet Pedersen aka Beastie Respond, attempts to reflect this world in a very direct sense. ‘Information City’ is the simulacrum in which we live and exist, where our cultural identities exist primarily as representations of a real without origin, he explains.
Writing the album Pedersen set no limits on his sample sources, instead taking fragments from a vast array of media, reflecting on the themes outlined above. This resulted in ‘Information City ‘being completely stylistically unchained, giving reference to everything from UK bass genres to electro, footwork and synthwave. 'Downloaded 4 R. D4wkins' for example pits Moving Shadow reminiscent rave stabs against juke-like percussive workouts, while opener 'Real Without Origin' recontextualises cliché trap-style drops with hollowed-out, swaggering low-end, calling to mind recent hybrids of UK Grime and American hip-hop.
At other points, Pedersen eschews the dancefloor entirely. Tracks like 'Lullabies for the Lost and Forgotten' or 'He Used His Bench Lathe to Form His Wooden Sculpture' provide respite from the thunderous barrages of percussion with slurred melodies and dream-like anime soundscapes.
Comprising the fourth release from Foul-Up, ‘Information City’ is a brave proposition for a second album. Pedersen tackles it with vibrance and audacity, inviting us into a fast-paced world of bright lights and unbridled imagination.”
None-more-english bedroom psych pop about life on the breadline. RIYL The Bomber Jackets, Liberez, John Hannon
“'Cusp' is an album that explores the individual in a post-social life era, with Sotelo starting the project initially as an attempt to re-engage with the people he used to know, without relying on nostalgia as a common bond. From this worthy spark of a plan, he's created something grand and compelling, a vast tapestry of songs that stand up and sound afresh. 'Bring Back The Love' is a dream-swept ballad of expansive vocal refrains and pools of spidery guitar contemplation. 'Marinade' is a song about having no money wrapped up in a hypnotic cycle of chiming bittersweet guitars and gentle keyboard blushes. "Cut the bread, prepare the jam, spread the table, make it grand, your only ever task at hand, to take from this fair land" sings Sotelo with delicate precision. 'Bronte Paths' is another homespun wonder-pop moment, its insistent rhythm and vocal line embedding into your very core, sounding more like a rediscovered gem than a contemporary song.
Many of the tracks on 'Cusp' deal with matters of imbalance in Sotelo's life like when his North London flat fell into disrepair before being swallowed up by property developers ('Tenancy Is Up'). It's an album about losing touch with yourself as well as your old social circle, influenced in part by his regular trips to Stevenage helping out with support work. In fact 'Alan Keay Is Fit For Work' is directly drawn from his experiences of a man he represented amid the recent benefits debacle. 'Version' is a sublimely panoramic number about spending too much time trying to write songs on your own and how it affects your relationships with others. 'Dr Parsley' is a complex song of hope rooted in an unsure present, it's subtle use of percussion and sumptuous vocal helping to guide all who get lost in the song back to themselves. As an album 'Cusp' hints at a dislocated happiness now restored, perhaps the title track looks at this most vividly by evoking a feeling of impending newness and optimism. The album closes suitably with 'Brother You're Complicated' a piano-driven high note from the record, lush with choirs of voices and brushed drum flourishes. "Oh my friend, don't reprise, never-ending, multiply" sings Sotelo, never sounding so sure that the clouds will part and reveal the sun once more.
Recently, Sotelo has put together a live band to interpret these songs in a different context from their lone construction. You get the impression that the initial objective of the project has now come to fruition. The cover of 'Cusp' was painted by artist Daniel Sean Kelly and depicts a man chasing after his fallen head through a field of rocks. It's an image as striking as it perfect for this album as 'Cusp' is about loss, recovery and delight in starting anew, finding out the future isn't just a continuation.”
Ease back with Dean Blunt on a rare, lowkey solo trip, curling up two H-pop / weightless soul bewts for late nights in with red wine and moonrocks.
They’re both some of the gentlest works in his catalogue of recent years, hearkening back to the gauziest aspects of Hype Williams or perhaps an expansion of his wistful LP interludes, which leads us to two conclusions; they’re either archival recordings or just a necessary salve for the times. Either way they’re dead sweet.
On the A-side’s As Long As Ropes Unravel Fake Rolex Will Travel he binds effervescent guitar licks and ear worming vocal loop to conjure something like Steve Reich and Vini Reilly on a lazy sunday, meddling with loop pedals while lounging on a balcony overlooking London. FUNKTION on the other hand, swipes away the vocal to leave behind salty, saturated traces of a purely guitar-based piece, recalling Last American Hero era James Ferraro meets beautifully maudlin Loren Connors in the process. Last Brexit Hero, anyone?
NYC’s Solpara keeps Quiet Time Tapes’ ambient agenda mutable and off-kilter with a lucid dream of alternately crisp and melting hyaline structures following releases for Nico Jaar’s Other People, and his own Booma Collective label.
Where his previous releases explored rugged strains of techno, here he follows his instincts along more abstract lines of enquiry on a roaming dérive from subterranean chromatic whorls in Psyzch to the fluffy electronica charms of Dodokéhidra, traversing thru lushly resonant sound sculptures recalling Phil Julian’s Relay CD such as Broken Turbine and the algorithmic chain reaction of Ego Death, to find a contemplative centre in Meditation of the Wounds and a contrasting, piquant counterpoint of distorted, crystalline design in Aguirré.
The 2nd half seems to flow with more urgency, lurching into action with the panicky Brush Leaves and possibly pointing to his Lebanese heritage with the rapid, tar-like twang of Fungi In Communication and the recalling the strange metastable states of Aught’s Xth Reflexion or Anòmia/Hospital Production’s Exoteric Continent, then settling down into the pointillist minuet of Ristretto, which almost feels like a orchestration of dripping taps in an abandoned, glazed tile-clad restroom at the bowels of the city.
Wicked, squeaky electro-funk and acid pivots from E.F.A., a new freak rallying to the No ’Label’ cause.
Cut deep in the vein of classic Dutch electro from Erik Van Den Broek to I-F and Dexter, they get loosey goosey with the playfully snappy, chattering UR-nodding funk of Arachno up top, before getting salty digits on the 303 with wigged out, booty-shifting effect in Move To Trash on the other side.