Jóhann Jóhannsson presents his OST for another Denis Villeneuve flick, following from his work on Sicario and essentially, perhaps unavoidably, turning up as a sort of preface to thee most anticipated score of the 21st century; his work on the forthcoming Bladerunner 2049 sequel.
Whilst the recent, extraordinary Orphée gave room for Jóhannsson’s solo spirits to roam, back at the day job he provides the perfect backdrop of unearthly terror and fear-of-the-unknown atmospheres for Arrival’s first contact themes, employing a palette of symphonic strings and perilous electronic abstraction in thick, impending strokes of minor key portent and chasmic electro-acoustic wormholes interspersed by zones of weightless chamber music and blood-curdling alien chorales.
It’s all you want from the soundtrack to a big budget sci-fi and leaves us quite literally salivating for what comes next…
An absolute classic of the genre, this 2005 debut album from the Norwegian duo of Erik Skodvin and Otto Totland is a miraculous, hugely evocative blend and smoke-filled ambience and modern classical inversions that has more or less defined its own sub-genre in the decade since it was released. If you’re into William Basinski, Lynch/Badalamenti, Eno or Harold Budd, this is as essential as it gets.
Over layers of fizzing aural sediment, Deaf Center build the kind of vista-expanding, piano tinged music that has you thinking you’re in your own film. Manifesting itself in the stravaig and epic iciness of ‘Thread’, or the etiolated Nyman piano of ‘White Lake’, Deaf Center have a seemingly bottomless supply of pathos on which to draw.
For this new 2016 vinyl edition, Skodvin & Totland rappel deeper into the Pale Ravine to unearth a previously unreleased side D on occasion of the album’s 11th anniversary edition. All five pieces were made during the same 2003-2005 era as the rest of the album, yet didn’t make it onto the single, original LP edition. Now rejoined with their noumenal siblings, and, like the rest of the LP, they have more room to breathe and haunt, especially in the abyssal allure of Social Lucy Waltz, or the diaphanous, chiaroscuro pall of End Station at the album’s new final destination.
Just incredible music.
We're not sure what's triggered the influx of classic Thai Luk Thung music compilations (ZRMs bamboo-cased 'The Roots of Thai Funk' and various Sublime Frequencies, Finders Keepers' and Subliminal Sounds volumes), but it's certainly opened our ears to a beautifully altered mode of music that seems famiiar, yet so exotic and alien.
The latest appears on Parlortone's ace Dust-To-Dgital series, preserving "fourteen funky, down-home songs from the 1960s, the Golden Age of Thai Country Music" accompanied by extensive, full colour fold-out sleevenotes. To give a glib overview of the sound, it's essentially a syncretic form of folk-pop previously played extensively in one of the most Westernised countries in Asia absorbing elements of imported pop and spicing it to local tastes with traditional Thai melodies and distinctive accents.
There are 14 tracks included here, each a precious example of soul-tugging, grassroots music from a fascinating and endearing part of the world.
Majeure is the alter ego of A.E. Paterra, drummer for seminal sci-fi prog explorers Zombi, and Timespan was his debut release. Taking the term full-length quite literally, the album is made up of three epic, side-long journeys through time and space. This is a A completely new mix and master of the long out-of-print debut.
"Merging the darkness of Vangelis' Blade Runner-era Moog-driven scores and the stately minimalism of Steve Reich and Philip Glass with the relentless drive of Can and Silver Apples, Timespan delivers inspiring sci-fi disco of the highest caliber. Written, recorded and painstakingly produced by Paterra over an 18-month period, Majeure is unique in its careful collaboration of live and electronic sounds.
Anchored by Paterra's sturdy, propulsive live drums, each song uses layers of analogue synthesizers to masterfully craft extended compositions that virtually stop time before speeding it up, culminatingin countless moments of genuine majesty."
Surreal, coruscating psychedelic folk and lysergic pop. RIYL Jefre Cantu-Ledesma, Sun City Girls, Bill Orcutt
“Ricochet Screen is the first proper LP from New York based TINT (aka Zane Morris). Encompassed as an overview of his solo recordings dating as far back as 2007, Ricochet Screen unfolds as a storied arc on the obsessiveness of composition, conception, and mechanism.
Culled from ad hoc recordings in vacant industrial buildings, lunchroom cafeterias, and bedroom studios, the record functions as a meditative associative collage regarding a rebounding from omnipresent glass monitors, intrusive security measures, and indeterminate barriers.”
Thanks to reissue schemers such as Sublime Frequencies, Sahel Sounds, Honest Jon's and Soul Jazz, we've been introduced to mind-blowing music from all corners of the globe, but to the best of our knowledge we've never yet encountered music from the Arab peninsula of Yemen. 'Qat, Coffee & Qambus - Raw 45s from Yemen' is a fascinating, arresting compilation of rare, Yemeni vinyl singles showcasing the little-documented, evolving local music styles in the 1960s and '70s. As we're reliably informed by Parlortone, "although part of the classical Arabic musical tradition, the music of Yemen takes its rhythmic lead as much from the East African coast (a mere 20 miles across the Red Sea) as the surrounding Arab Pensinsula". To our untrained ears, the combination of sharp, cyclical string melodies and swaying rhythms recalls everything from HJ's 'Give Me Love' collection of Iraqi love songs to the desert pop of Group Doueh and even elements of the rawest Ethiopiques records - which admittedly covers thousands of miles and decades between them - but without getting all ethnomusicologist on you (well, we couldn't if we tried) that's pretty much what springs to mind. But unique to this record are some incredible moments, not least the calligraphic, poetic swirl of vocals and filigree oud syncopation in Mohammed Hamood Al-Awami's 'Hom Bel Hawa Ya Nas Walaoni (They Made Me Fond Of Love)' or, weirdly enough, Fatima Al-Zaelaeyah's opening salvo 'Ya Mun Dakhal Bahr Al-Hawa (Hey, Who Enters The Sea Of Passion)' whose resonating drums uncannily mirror the metallic, electronic twang of AFX's 'Alberto Balsam'.
Superb selection of haunting, cranky, romantic, playful and entertaining Greek music from 1st half of the 20th century, all compiled by Tony Klein, who’s behind some of our favourite compendiums from the region and era, such as the ‘Mortika’ set and the A. Kostis’ LP ‘The Jail’s A Fine School’. Considering they’re so old, there’s a remarkable amount of life inside. Immerse yourself.
"Like many others, we were first seduced to the pleasures of this epoch by the book's researcher and compiler, Tony Klein's previous incursion, 'Mortika - Rare Vintage Recordings from a Greek Underworld', compiled with Charles Hayward in 2005. And, while the emphasis here has shifted from the lyrics of gangsters and the dispossessed to purely instrumental recordings, the emotive sentiments still carry as much weight as the lyrics which we never understood anyway. Aside from the appearance of Rebetiko forefather, Markos Vamvakaris, who featured prominently on 'Mortika…', all players are new to us and each lends a personal and rhapsodic inflection to their instrumental tales, with each disseminated in detail in the book beside extensive further reading on their instruments and a rich historic background.
We still can't exactly place our finger on what it is the endears this music to us so much, maybe it's the minor key phrasing, its proud working class elegance, or perhaps the syncretic blend of European and minor Asian nuance. Maybe its the ghostly, opiated atmospheres or the swaying rhythms, but whatever it is, it hits the spot like no other.
We welcome Malmö, Sweden’s FLUF label to these pages with their newest release, featuring Phil Julian on a cochlea-scrubbing session of illusive electronics made on the HP Pulse Generator.
For listeners of a more hardcore disposition, there’s some real grit to get your mental teeth into with the swarming buzz of 0010A, whilst 0010AA is a trippier blighter probing our spatial perceptions with foregrounded density and cold sharp snaps buried away in the background. You could dance to this one, if the mood takes ya.
D&B turned techno producer Dan HabarNam rolls out two grumbling swingers for Idle Hands
Firstly with the grinding bleep ’n bass shut of High Pass Rambo, then the mazy dub-techno/garage mutation Draw Your Pattern. Wicked blends of function and abstraction. Need to hear these in the dance.
Hotly-tipped producer Orlando crystallises his blend of ambient pop, dancehall and contemporary club music to exquisite degrees in his self-titled début album for Local Action. As heard on his EP, The Tide That Moves me for Gobstopper, and his remix of D∆WN’s Lazarus that same year, Orlando’s music possesses a broad dance-pop appeal that he properly taps into on this album.
Working with a flock of vocalists and co-conspirators including Mr. Mitch, Yayoyanoh, Octo Octa and Buscabulla, and assisted by exquisite engineering from Jeremy Cox and Sam O.B., Orlando has realised an enchantingly bright and breezy sound riddled with filigree production details which are always at the service of framing his songs in their own environs, rather than showing off or being weird for the sake of it.
In each song he sweetly conveys a new scene that builds up to a lush landscape. But rather than nostalgic in the usual sense, this feels like the nostalgia of someone in 2030 for the sound of 2018, as his naif melodies and wipe-clean surfaces feel entirely in the here and now and free of retro references. That results in a sublime rush of highlights between the properly optimistic opener An Early Morning Rush of Euphoria, the James Ferrao-esque modernist composition of Rock, Shells & Some Fossils, a fluid swerver named Nasty feat. Yayoyanoh and Mr. Mitch, and thru to the pirouetting instrumental figures of Explain With Your Hands, and his unmissable dancehall winner Position starring Nemesis, before the romantic couplet of Friends or Lovers and the weightless beauty Free 2 B Whoever see you off with a very satisfied feeling.
Pivotal member of the Montréalais musical fraternity, Eric Chenaux gets right under the skin and in your head with the intoxicating, jazz-wise chops and strikingly classic-sounding vocals of Slowly Paradise; an instant modern classic if we’ve never heard one! Chenaux generates a genuinely bewildering sound which lives up to easy comparison with Arthur Russell and even Thom Yorke, balancing sweetness with a more off-kilter style that also gets to the point, yet from beguiling, perpendicular angles maybe better compared with Richard Youngs' approach to folk and post-punk/pop paradigms.
“Eric Chenaux makes conceptual music that’s not meant to sound conceptual. He operates among various 'traditions' but perhaps most broadly, Chenaux's records grapple with the relationship between improvisation and structure in very particular, unique, idiosyncratic ways – and quite without irony or cynicism, through love.
Because fundamentally, Chenaux writes love songs, which he sings in a voice honeyed and clear, while his guitar gently bends, frazzes, chortles, diverges and decomposes. This juxtaposition of his mellow, dexterous crooning and his highly experimental (and equally dexterous) guitar explorations, explodes even unconventional notions of singing and accompaniment, of tonal and timbral interplay between guitar and voice.
As a solo artist, Chenaux's improvisation methods are in certain literal ways solipsistic: as a singer-songwriter, he plays his guitar around and against his voice, challenging easy notions of harmony/harmoniousness, improvising 'with himself' in pursuit of surprising himself (and his listeners) as he unfurls ribbons of voice and instrument often to the point of seeming independence, all the better to capture – and be captured by – unforeseen, intimate moments of interdependence: a definition of freedom, as a profoundly intentional state of openness, presence and play.
Even within avant-garde currents of folk and jazz balladry, Eric Chenaux feels like an outlier. Yet his music remains wonderfully warm, generous and fundamentally accessible in spite of its irrefutable iconoclasm. While the constitutive elements of Chenaux’s solo work in recent years might suggest some underlying devotion to asceticism, the opposite is much more true: his musical reveries resist, critique and counteract austerity (in all its forms) in a joyful abandonment to the improvised space where playfulness and light-heartedness are taken seriously, and where love is invoked and expressed, without reductive or facile sentimentalism, in a full, nuanced, clear-eyed suspension/rejection of the cynical life.
Slowly Paradise is Eric Chenaux’s new solo record – a lovely collection of mostly long songs guided by soothing, buttery singing and bent, fried fretwork. It is arguably Chenaux’s most assured and essential solo work, expanding upon the critical acclaim his previous releases Guitar & Voice and Skullsplitter have rightly garnered.”
Poppin’ electro-boogie produced by Melbourne’s Benny Badge, with a Astral electro-soul rerub by his alter ego, Freekwency featuring your RDA of sax harassment by Jack Doepel.
Backed by the wobbly strut of Midnight Run and the chromatic grease slick of Korea Town.
Denmark’s GOHV seem to have coined a tantric new sort of EBM techno with AA0008 for crucial electronic label, FLUF.
On 0008A they hit a mesmerising line of cloven-hoofed rhythms and intently fixed drones that gets right in your bones, up the nose, making your eyes wobble. With 0008A they only intensify the effect with more typical 16th note EBM patterns locking into a viciously unrelenting yet somehow playfully daft tattoo.
One for fans of EVOL or the Aught label.
Highwire techno pelters from Calum Gunn, member of the excellent FLUF label whose forward catalogue is now available on our site and totally worth your time.
In good company among the label’s rogue rhythm explorers, Gunn goes hard and freaky with the fast-paced kicks and scrabbling chromatic electronics of 0003A, and then like SND on a techno bent with the sheer, pirouetting top line shackled to a boshing bass drum in 0003AA.
David Burraston or Dave NYZ makes some of the most fascinating electronic music in circulation right now.
The last few years have seen a spate of uniquely beguiling releases from NYZ on multiple labels, and now we add the ace FLUF to that list with AA0009, whose 0009A sounds like a cyborg big cat purring inside your skull, alongside the microtonal drone attrition of 0009AA. If you aren’t familiar with NYZ already, we urge you to check everything this guy has done, and without delay.
*Compiling the recordings of folklorist Bruce Jackson, among the last to record work songs. New on Dust to Digital* "Folklorist Bruce Jackson was among the last to record work songs. In 1964 he visited Ramsey State Farm in Rosharon, Texas, where he met Johnnie B. Smith, prisoner #130196. A native of Hearne, Texas, Smitty was 46 years old and on his fourth prison term. In his younger days, Smitty toted lead hoe in a flat-weeding gang and led the work songs. It’s hard to overstate the importance of a good song leader in the penitentiary setting—one needed to be rhythmically, lyrically, and physically reliable, to maintain those songs over interminable hours of hard labor under an unforgiving south-central Texas sun. But J.B. also sang other songs, different songs—those he’d made up to occupy himself while chopping sugarcane or picking cotton. He referred to them as his “little ol’ songs.” The longest stretched to thirty-three verses, or more than twenty-two recorded minutes. Although Smitty knew and sang a variety of melodies, to an assortment of work songs and sacred pieces, he employed only one tune for his compositions. What changed were the tempo and the ornamentation with which he individualized them. “The Major Special,” “No More Good Time In The World For Me,” “Ever Since I Been A Man Full Grown”—each song Smith charged with its own emotional ambience, as a seasoned preacher intuits the particular colors and atmospheres that should imbue each portion of his service. Smith was paroled in 1967, a year after his final session with Jackson and the release, on John Fahey’s Takoma Records, of an LP— Ever Since I Have Been A Man Full Grown —of three of Smitty’s songs. That summer, Bruce arranged for him to sing at the Newport Folk Festival, at which he appeared on stage with Pete Seeger, and, in one of the only photos that survive of him, in the company of Robert Pete Williams and Muddy Waters. A couple of years passed before Bruce heard from him again. He had returned to Amarillo, where he preached for a while; a parole violation then sent him back to prison."
What modern electronic label would be worth its bandwidth without a sick EVOL release?
Malmö’s keen young label FLUF absorb know their role and present these two invasive mutants from the Pan-European computer hooligans, who also play up to their role with meter-bending acid modulations on 0007A, plus ten minutes of jaw-resetting acid gurns in 0007AA. Don’t listen to this one on an empty stomach.
This 6-part overview of work by legendary Greek composer Jani Christou (1926-1970) is one of the greatest highlights of the practically peerless Edition RZ catalogue. Documenting distinct periods in the fascinating composer’s oeuvre, before he died in a car crash on, or just before his 44th birthday, the set provides a totally compelling introduction to Christou’s inseparable mix of music and philosophy, and his exploration of their metaphysical binds, and has become a real favourite of ours in the process.
The collected six works feel like discrete wormholes or windows onto parallel, proto- or post- dimensions in a way that we’ve rarely heard before. Taking cues from myriad sources such as his studies of logic and philosophy under Ludwig Wittgenstein and Bertrand Russell, through to his private musical tuition with H.F. Redlich, and orchestration with Angelo Francesco Lavagnino, and, perhaps most unavoidably, his obsessions with death and the afterlife inspired by his upbringing in Alexandria, Egypt, where he was surrounded relics of ancient civilisation, Christou’s music feels to genuinely touch on other worlds, and bring them into our own reality.
We don’t want to delve too far into the philosophy for fear of misinterpretation - we’ll leave that for you to wrestle with in the excellent liner notes - but sonically we can assure of the music’s nonpareil grip, especially in the chaotic flux and cataclysmic orchestral resolution of Enantiodromia, as well as the remarkably open-ended Epicycle, whose score calls for high levels of improvisation in a fixed situation, resulting a proper proto-techno abstraction, or in the spellbinding recording of Mysterion, with its whispered Danish vocal and stygian pulse, which was somewhat uncannily the last of his works to be recorded before his tragic death.
It all begs the question as to what Christou may have made had he lived longer, with access to new technologies - judging by the trajectory of these works, our guess is some of the most incredible music imaginable - but also leaves us with some beautiful, hugely distinguished music which acknowledges “an awareness of how remorseless, varied, infinitely complex, fleeting, but sometimes also infinitely simple is the world-wide phenomenon of pattern recognition” in a way which most beautifully highlights it’s magical logic via its purposed application.
Louis Johnston aka Wanda Group takes a minute out from being the funniest c*nt on the internet to do a mean fingerpicking blues turn as Henry Caravan for Death Is Not The End.
Think Jandek exiled to Huddersfield, where he catches a cold and can’t be arsed with chips cooked in real beef fat so he sits in a room with no furniture and records himself crying into a guitar at the heck of it all.
If you like this, we advise also checking his excellent bits on Umbro G, Indole and Reckno from the last few years.
Features an exclusive solo track as well as exclusive collaborations with Steve Spacek, Jinadu and Jamie Lidell.
Basically worth it for the Mark Ernestus remix of Equiknoxx alone, in case you didnt grab the 12" on DDS.
AA0002 is the first in a brilliant series of uncompromisingly fresh, new, experimental electronic releases from Malmö’s FLUF label, which only started in late summer 2017 and now has more than 10 diverse and killer releases to its name.
It’s an unflinching introduction to both the label and Empathic Window, an artist hailing from Buffalo, New York who terms his own releases as “Pointless (but not soulless) audio experiments and non-music”.
That’s a fair description of this release, which yields a severely cryptic maze of atonal shudders and chaotic prangs in the highly detailed electro-acoustic dynamics of 0002A, then with a more violent blast of munted vocals, white noise and rabid yet crisply jagged madness in 0002AA.
Heavily satisfying gear for more insatiable listeners, then.
Spectrum Spools follow up their stupendous Second Woman release with a sterling second entry from Brett Naucke, pursuing the intricate synthesis of his 'Seed' LP into this riveting session of multi-dimensional, crystalline designs. Expect a steeply psychotropic series of events, twysting cues from the artist’s distant childhood memories into a polymetric complex of ideas intersecting chaoticm kosmiche, avant garde and concrète disciplines, but somehow maintaining a filigree thread of narrative logic that ties it all together. RIYL Bee Mask, 0PN, MoM, Second Woman
“The Mansion finds Naucke at the peak of his powers with a fresh array of meticulously composed psychotropic tapestries. Themes based on a childhood home, now a distant memory, reveal a mysterious narrative in mind-bending sonic detail. These complex ideas fuse conflicting states of tension and beauty with an organic acumen, each track a piece of the greater whole.
The Mansion is a fine mixture of contemporary concrète structure interlaced with tightly crafted melodic arrangement and hi-fidelity electronic exploration. In addition to his stalwart synthesis, Naucke employs additional personnel featuring vocal duties from Natalie Chami (of Goodwill Smith and TALsounds) and Viola sounds from Whitney Johnson (of Matchess). Field recording, piano and other various instrumentation are also carefully implemented adding a new, deeper dimension to the Naucke oeuvre.
With his most realized set of compositions yet, The Mansion finds Naucke at the paragon of his conceptual and sonic ethos with a work that’s at once deeply meaningful and profound in it’s auditory breadth.”
Gavin Rayna Russom palms out a loose and wiry jag for Barcelona’s Modern Obscure Music, leaning heavily on a knackered acid bent (and seemingly many of the buttons in her keyboard at once) for the soundtrack to a self-made film about transition in a broader context of capitalism and death..
“After a string of releases with dancefloor intent, Barcelona based MOM returns to its more experimental side with NO MORE WHITE PRESIDENTS . For this, Modern Obscure Music welcomes Black Meteoric Star (DFA/Nation) aka Gavin Rayna Russom to the label. NO MORE WHITE PRESIDENTS is an experimental film directed by Russom and soundtracked by her Black Meteoric Star alias. This 12” contains 3 choice excerpts from the soundtrack, the whole of which she self-released last year as limited edition cassette. This is the first time any of this music has seen a vinyl release.
At the start of 2017, Gavin Rayna Russom came out as a trans woman and her transition is one of the themes explored in NO MORE WHITE PRESIDENTS , as well as broader topics such as capitalism and death. She has been releasing music since 1997 under her own name and a string of aliases. Russom collaborated with Delia Gonzalez on the acclaimed Days Of Mars in 2005, where they explored keyboard hypnotics. Russom was the driving force behind The Crystal Ark with Viva Ruiz, and for the last few years has been an integral part of LCD Soundsystem.
The music of NO MORE WHITE PRESIDENTS is dark and claustrophobic yet exciting. As far as the dancefloor goes, it is suitable only for the darkest of clubs. Stealth Technology features punishing beats, oscillating acidic synth lines and a growling bass. Three Trains is a short track where tape hiss drifts over a tough rhythmic section and a dark bassline. Coffin Maker finishes the release with jarring oscillating synths, angular beats and waves of acid. Not for the faint hearted!”
Using modern technology, Patrick Feaster is on a mission to resurrect long-vanished voices and sounds-many of which were never intended to be revived. Over the past thousand years, countless images have been created to depict sound in forms that theoretically could be "played" just as though they were modern sound recordings. Now, for the first time in history, this compilation uses innovative digital techniques to convert historic "pictures of sound" dating back as far as the Middle Ages directly into meaningful audio.
"It contains the world's oldest known "sound recordings" in the sense of sound vibrations automatically recorded out of the air-the groundbreaking phonautograms recorded in Paris by Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville in the 1850s and 1860s-as well as the oldest gramophone records available anywhere for listening today, including inventor Emile Berliner's recitation of "Der Handschuh," played back from an illustration in a magazine, which international news media recently proclaimed to be the oldest audible "record" in the tradition of 78s and vintage vinyl. Other highlights include the oldest known recording of identifiable words spoken in the English language (1878) and the world's oldest surviving "trick recording" (1889). But Pictures of Sound pursues the thread even further into the past than that by "playing" everything from medieval music manuscripts to historic telegrams, and from seventeenth-century barrel organ programs to eighteenth-century "notations" of Shakespearean recitation. In short, this isn't just another collection of historical audio-it redefines what "historical audio" is.
Compiler bio : Patrick Feaster is a researcher and educator specializing in the history and culture of sound media. A two-time Grammy nominee and co-founder of FirstSounds.org, he has been actively involved in locating, playing back, and contextualizing many of the world's oldest sound recordings. He received his doctorate in Folklore and Ethnomusicology in 2007 from Indiana University Bloomington, where he is currently a lecturer in the Department of Communication and Culture and a member of the Media Preservation Initiative."
Snapping at the heels of that Kaltès & Nene H. 12”, Eomac runs the voodoo on his Eotrax label with Resist All Dogma, a head-first vortex of frenetic post-footwork drums and expressive vocal drones sounding out somewhere between Xth Réflexion and Second Woman.
Brandon Rosenbluth’s Shaddah Tuum remix Reisst All Dogma, accentuating the vocal drone to sound more like Phurpa’s throat singing while and the rhythm to an insectoid flux, before Eomac leaves the rhythms to feel out a cavernous space full of reflected, echoic vocals on Everything is Covered in Blood.
Outstanding, new, rhythm-driven electronics from Guy Birkin on Malmö, Sweden’s excellent FLUF label, whose complete catalogue of releases to date are now available on this site.
Fair to say we’re head over heels for the pots ’n pans-around-an-Escher-staircase momentum of 0006A, which sounds to us like La Rolls’ Sure Is re-spun by Cut Hands and Xth Réflexion, whereas 0006AA is more obtusely experimental in a Haswellian style.
James Welsh’s writhing acid jacker Thread is reworked as a thumping party techno play by Ozel AB, then taken outdoors for a tribal shunting from Radio Slave, and given the most identikit, pedestrian house version by Big Beat survivor FC Kahuna.
Nutty avant-techno tackle from tuuun, head honcho of Malmö Sweden’s vitally upfront FLUF label.
On AA0005 he seemingly takes cues from Mark Fell and EVOL to entwine crisp, boomy 808 drum patterns with writhing acid modulations in unyielding form on 0005A in a way liable to drive dances to the brink, before allowing for some swing in his ting with the ruggeder, clipped torque of 0005AA recalling a funky adjunct to Dale Cornish’s icier rhythmic reductions or a more banging echo of Ilpo Vaisanen’s Kangaroo releases.
Known respectively for their independent work as Botany and Lushlife, Spencer Stephenson and Raj Haldar selected their collaborative mantle, The Skull Eclipses, when the album became more than just a one-plus-one combination of their individual sounds.
"The odd title was originally given to a demo beat that Stephenson sent Haldar back in 2014, but it quickly became apt for the subject matter and emotional tone that the album and group took on during creation. "The Skull Eclipses" refers to the philosophy of Solipsism, that nothing veri¬ably exists outside of the human mind, and dually to the idea that knowledge of one's own mortality makes inner peace unachievable. Happiness is "eclipsed" by the image of death, classically represented as a "skull".
Accordingly, Haldar's lyrics are a free-associative discourse on the value of life amid a growing population, Islamophobia misdirected at non-muslims via racist assumption, poverty, pharmaceutical abuse, mortality, mental illness, international conflict, political unrest, police shootings, and the continual failure of the drug-war that began when the album's creators were just children. Stephenson's trademark fractalline production, noticeably more grim and aggressive than the tie-dyed psychedelia of his Botany project, provides ample space for Haldar's shadow-self to break through. Aside from displaying a wider tempo variation than any of Stephenson's work to date The Skull Eclipses is spun from sonic threads dark enough to border on horror. Songs are glued together with interstitial bad-trip creep-ups: melting choirs, doomsday evangelists, and the Judica-Cordiglia recordings that are purported to have captured the sounds of Russian kosmonauts burning up on reentry.
Broadly, The Skull Eclipses is a post-hip hop album that harmonizes tropes of mid 90's electronic genres-- ambient, downtempo, jungle, & trip-hop-- under a hauntological umbrella. It is the first offering from a project that's as much indebted to Broadcast & The Focus Group as it is to Pete Rock & CL Smooth, but obligated to neither. Up close however, the album is a peer into the shadows by two figures uncontent with blending into the tapestry of modern music, wholly committed to creating experiences over mere content, which is pouring in from all corners of a frustrated and distracted world."
Solitary Dancer give Optimo Trax its 33rd and final release with three cuts of mid-tempo, stepping breaks feeling out a woozy hybrid of Memphis rap instrumentals, gamelan-type percussion and early ‘90s ambient dance music.
Arriving from Montreal via Glasgow, the EP weighs in an ace A-side of clipped hip hop breaks and feathered ambient synth swells with results recalling Mappa Mundi and Muslimgauze of that era, whereas the B-side slips off into a more serene dimension recalling Jay Glass Dubs workouts in La Donna, and Lady Pimp sounds out a killer alloy of Memphis rap-style 808 tics and gamelan tang.
Restlessly shapeshifting ‘floor workouts from Leedsian techno bairn Happa, uncoiling two devilishly detailed productions on his PT/5 Records label.
On Clouds (Sax) he packs more tweaky edits and ideas into 5 minutes than other producers do in a whole album, with a breathlessly amorphous lattice of electro mechanics, delicate electro-trance pads and ruffcut hardcore breaks demonstrating a striking upsweep in his production and arrangement style that also serves to inform the meter-bending complexities of Blademir, and in a way that shows up a lot of older producers.
One of the highlights of Malmö, Sweden’s FLUF label, Bamboo’s AA0004 hits a killer groove of minimalistic footwork compatible with OG jukers as much as Rian Treanor.
It comes off like a hyper Venetian Snares workout, but mercifully without the more onanistic elements, just wickedly teched out and intricate grooves akin to Jlin or even that Ueno Masaaki 12” on Raster Noton.
David Byrne teams with a squad of lads to make American Utopia
Featuring Rodaidh McDonald, Happa, Airhead, Bullion, Koreless, Daniel Lopatin (0PN), Ariel Rechtshaid, Jaako Savoleinen, Joe Williams, Jack Peñate and Brian Eno - literally enough for a football team with Byrne as Wenger (get out, lol).
Glaring post-industrial ructions from DINT, one of the more mysterious avatars on Samurai Horo, backed with remixes by Ontal, Codex Empire, OAKE and ANFS.
Crashing in with the bestial bass guitar grind of Hooker like some Big Black pulveriser, the blank-eyed atonality of Shovel recalls a submerged Prurient and Skewer brings the bosch with trampling force.
On remix detail, Ontal give an unyielding hardcore techno mix of Shovel, and Codex Empire impress with an off-centre collision of Shovel and Skewer bound to leave bruised bodies in its wake.
Gauzy, nostalgic club pressures by a new wain with a silly name a la R*ss From Fr*ends.
Big on smudged bass and slinging a rolling, filtered break on everything, with a hint of Baltimore bump to taste.
One of Posh Isolation’s craftiest rhythmic minds gets down to rugged designs in First On Comedown, the follow-up to his Bidders Must Justify Their Price album and a smart rework of Sand Circles.
Morphing cues from UK grime and Arca’s expressionist electronica, the results arguably sound somewhere between the knotted, frazzled output of Italy’s Gang Of Ducks and the deconstructed designs of Acre or Filter Dread, with highlights in the crooked grime scuttle of First On Comedown and a shapeshifting creature named Rattle Me.
Gosh, crucial 1st ever vinyl reissue of King Tubby’s Concrete Dub, one of the rarest UK pressed dub records of all time!
Originally issued on Dennis Harris’ Concrete Jungle, the label also behind Ijahman Levi’s I Am A Levi, the strictly dub album Concrete Dub has become one of the most sought-after of its ilk, in no small part due to the fact that only 300 copies were originally made.
Featuring 10 King Tubby’s dubs of riddims by the Techniques, produced by Winston Riley, there’s no doubt it’s a stone cold heavyweight. And if you need any more persuasion just run check the pressures of Staga Dub and the slow suspension system of Dread Dub and you’ll definitely know what to do.
Warp grip DJ Nigga Fox for a blazing follow-up to last year’s heavily experimental 15 Barras 12” with Príncipe.
With Crânio, Nigga Fox reasserts his position at the vanguard of Kuduro and its mutant offshoots by pushing the levels of detail and rhythmic tension in his productions to lethal degrees, resulting some of that sound’s most warped (pun intended) and irresistibly driven workouts.
From the front he gets freaky AF with the curdling acidic glissandi and sloshing triplets of Sinistro, which tees you up for the lip-bitingly strong torque and bonkers synths of Poder do Vento and its wicked surprise switch, while Maria Costa finds him bringing the bass forward on a killer electro-tribal lurch.
Likewise, the ghosts of tradition haunt the deep forward Afro-futurism of KRK in the form of lilting folk-like melodies played electronically, wheres WAABA-JAH hears him calculating that sound on a natty half stepping sort of tarraxho drill flex, and the roiling rhythm of Karma will untangle brains and limbs in the most bewildering, re-programming style.