Never before pressed on vinyl, IBM 1401, A User's Manual, is one of Jóhann Jóhannsson’s most loved works. Released in 2006, the decade since its release has seen Jóhann establish himself as one of the most important composers in the World today, most notably scoring movies such as Arrival, Sicario and The Theory of Everything.
:Inspired by the work his father did in the sixties when chief maintenance engineer of one of Iceland’s first computers, Jóhann originally wrote IBM 1401, A User's Manual to accompany a dance piece by long-standing collaborator and friend, Erna Ómarsdóttir. For this album release, he rewrote it for a sixty-piece string orchestra, with a new final movement (built around a poem by Dorothy Parker) and incorporating both electronics, and reel-to-reel recordings made by his father and friends in 1971 of an enormous IBM 1401 mainframe computer singing the hymn Ísland Ögrum Skoriðby Sigvaldi Kaldalóns as it was being decommissioned.
The first ever pressing of IBM 1401, A User's Manual comes in a deluxe gatefold sleeve, having been reworked by Chris Bigg (v23) from his original design. Pressed on clear vinyl, two album tracks recorded in 2010 with the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra at the Rudolfinum, Dvorák Hall in Prague have also been added and are exclusive to this release:
For their first solo outing since 2015, Rrose plumbs the depths of the technosphere in three parts for the Eaux label.
We can think of few other artist so persistently, intently pushing the prism of modern techno as Rrose does right here, firstly exploring the body boneless with the jellyfish form of The Smallest Footprints and then with the chokingly immersive brownian dynamics of The Ends of Weather, before slicing into the ‘floor proper with the martial whirrs and plasmic propulsion system of Nest Of Queens across the B-side.
This one’s strong. No messing.
Black Mass do cybergoth industrial metal for Sacred Bones
Launching the full pelt beats of Odd Scene and Shit Luck to fling us back to the back-rooms of metal club-nights in the early ‘00s, soaked in brown ale and the musk of metalheads. They’re not pissing about.
Reissue of prime Afrobeat cuts by Mushapata, a former boxer whose later experience as bodyguard for Bob Marley’s summer 1980 tour of France lead him to covert to Rastafarianism and start making music.
Saba-Saba Fighting or “fight for peace” was recorded between 1980 and 1984, and draws on Mushapata’s longhand love for the Blues, Soul and Rocksteady he grew up listening to in The DRC, before moving to Lyon in 1975 to pursue career as a boxer.
Up top he comes off like a possessed Fela Kuti over the swingeing drums, horns and guitars of his Afrobeat ace Muanago Yé-Ye, then the reggae influence comes in on the Afrobeat-reggae hybrid Kambere Mushimbe, and much stronger on the lilting Reggae-soul of Mudongo Wangu, which is gilded with some really sweet On-U style digital inflections, and at a loping, sexy Reggae-disco title on Zambe Aponiyo.
Second Woman chase the mutable dynamics of their killer EPs with Spectrum Spools into four grid warping new works for Tresor. If the idea of Basic Channel meets Gábor Lázár in deep space floats your boat, this 12” is an essential purchase!
Comprising Turk Dietrich (Belong) and Josh Eustis (Telefon Tel Aviv), Second Woman have forged headlong new tangents for techno over the past 2 years with an acclaimed début album and 12” which pushed the techno envelope at captivating new angles comparable to work by Mark Fell, Gábor Lázár or Rian Treanor as much as Basic Channel, Vladislav Delay and Jlin.
On the pair’s 4th release, their first for Tresor, Second Woman work in flux between warped and relatively conventional styles. The pendulous electro-dub of Instant I kicks up a blinding fuss of over-pronating rhythm and glassy dub FX tending to their experimental side, which they also explore from more spacious perspective in the weightless, unmetered dub matrix of their closing shot, Apart II.
The other tracks are patently techno in design, but unafraid to f*k with the format. On Instant II they anchor in deep dub techno terrain best compared with Porter Ricks’ seminal early work, but with addition of sweeping, balletic hi-hat trills, while Apart II smudges dub techno contours with an intoxicating brownian motion.
‘Innerland’ is the first ever solo album by Engineers co-founder/songwriter and Ulrich Schnauss collaborator Mark Peters.
"It was originally released as a low-key limited-edition cassette late last year, but it sold out immediately through word of mouth and the backing of BBC Radio 6 Music’s Lauren Laverne and Gideon Coe, Uncut magazine and Caught By The River, whose Robin Turner said it was “impossibly beautiful, evoking a bird’s-eye view of its own landscape, one untarnished by the blots and the palettes and the Tescos of the real world”.
It has now been relandscaped into a larger-scale, eight-track album and will get a full release on vinyl, CD and digital on April 20. A collection of instrumentals, with nods to Brian Eno, Talk Talk, Richard Thompson, Vini Reilly and Felt’s Maurice Deebank, ‘Innerland’ highlights Mark’s incredible musicianship, positioning his guitar rather than his voice as the focal point of the music. It also finds him reconnecting with his youth and rediscovering a sense of place, following a move back home to northwest England in late 2016, with all the songs named after local places and landmarks."
Last year’s altered mind opus, Sapa Inca Delirium, showcased The Cyclist at his most eclectic, spanning ayahuasca break-beat and rave jungle pop, but his latest EP returns to the uniquely kinetic and shredded mode of churning electronic rhythm he both named and perfected: “tape throb.”
"Alabaster Thrones collects four of Andrew Morrison’s recent and most vibrantly blasted house constructs, tracked at his home studio in Birmingham, UK during “the height of mania – a time when I had no time.” The context translates: this is urgent, accelerating music, shifting gears at high speed in dim twisting tunnels. The title is “a deflation of grandiosity” cribbed from Ulysses (“…a noble race, rulers of the waves, who sit on thrones of alabaster, silent as the deathless gods”), though Morrison’s meaning is more personal: “It’s a reminder to level yourself and think of all those around you.” A captivating capsule of ravaged forward motion for a ravaged forward-moving age.”
Peacers / Sic Alps lead singer Mike Donovan steps out from behind the ash-stained curtain for his second solo album in the past five years, ‘How To Get Your Record Played In Shops’.
"How To Get Your Record Played In Shops’ is a tribute to the streets where you find the shops that play the records. To pin down this increasingly imagined place, Mike DIYs it to the max, recording everything himself and playing most of it too, basing it largely on piano riffs, which is something different, especially with adding touches of other keys and notes of whatever fits into the scape. The combination of these colourful backings with Mike’s synapse-shifting lyric wit leads us into new odd corners, where the only option seems to be the mirror and eyes looking back deadly at us. Yet, in the chilly sling of SF, the legend of communal lifestyle rules on and, with help from the lads in spots and a Bo ‘Bozmo’ Moore cover to boot, this record can be stowed safely beneath the Peacers umbrella - even in the solo-ist of moments, when Mike’s hand on the piano is delightfully blurry among the reverbs, his voice listing along the falsetto borderline, smile frozen, as a feeling of aloneness and absolute nothing becomes poignantly alive.
Despite (no, because of) all the carnage, ‘How To Get Your Record Played In Shops’ is something to make you really happy when you stumble upon it in the bin, a secret communication outside the lines of corporation entertainment, news media and the rest of the contemporary corruption influences."
Gramz joins Youngsta’s Sentry label with two distorted half step payloads
Dispensing the bitter tang and growling subs of Dip Dip Potato Chip on top, then emerging from a messed-up abstract intro into a lockjawed, chattering killer called Illa on the other side.
Shrouded in mystery, the Hermetica are a series of Egyptian-Greek didactic texts, meant to help the willing student better understand the cosmos, divinity and nature. On her debut album for DFA Records, German producer Perel takes the listener into deep space and explains it all.
"Over the course of nine tracks, she shares a striking amalgamation of house, new wave and kraut motifs that crystallize to form a unique sound. The early 80’s sounds of a Eurythmics cassette Annegret Fiedler listened to at a young age prove influential on many tracks, where Perel combines her love of dance music with the stark vocal delivery of Annie Lennox.
The album is a focused, sonically adventurous work, where the DJ also happens to play every instrument, write every song and intone words of prophetic wisdom on every track."
Guitarist and composer Terje Rypdal (1947) is probably as close as one gets to a living legend in Norwegian music.
"Born in Oslo on 23rd August, Rypdal was already a star at home in his teens with pop-rock group The Vanguards. This was followed by the timely and inevitable passage through psychedelia with quartet The Dream, releasing their only album, Get Dreamy, in 1967. In 1968, still only 21 years old, Rypdal released Bleak House, the first, quite extraordinary album under his own name, fully showing what direction he was moving into. Min Bul, his trio with Bjørnar Andresen and Espen Rud, followed with their only album two years later. Rypdal and fellow Norwegians Jan Garbarek, Arild Andersen and Jon Christensen were quickly picked up by Manfred Eicher, starting his ECM label.
This is a vinyl only release of two epic outtakes that didn´t make the main album due to lack of space!"
Richard Chartier (Pinkcourtesyphone) pays tribute to the late, great Mika Vainio in the best way he knows how; one piece stressing a closer listening of subtle timbral shifts, and a blistering noise storm quite unlike anything else in Chartier’s catalogue.
“I think about the work of Mika Vainio almost every day since his sudden and untimely passing on April 12, 2017.
His work as one half of Pan Sonic and his solo work under his own name and as Ø and Philus were and are incredibly influential to me. It was partly one of the reasons I began working with sound again in 1997 after stopping for almost 4 years, central to the evolution of my own listening.
His sounds and arrangements were always elusive, otherworldly, unreal, strange, unsettling, often abrasive, and at the same time expressed a sheer unrelenting beauty. They seem to represent a push and pull between states, warmth and cold, silence and fury, future and past, life and death.
I was fortunate enough to perform with and for him (in the audience) and despite his being a man of very select words, to share conversations with him. The prospect of a new release by Mika always thrilled me. I am still saddened to think that there will not be more of his work to be heard each year.
These two pieces pay homage to Mika and the subtle and unquiet gifts he gave all listeners.”
A six song sidekick to The Cyclist’s latest extended play offering, Alabaster Thrones, these two magnetized sides span nine years of hermetic hardware experiments conducted in itinerant living arrangements across Derry, Liverpool, and Birmingham.
"From toy tape loops and echobox gauze (“Diorge Grian” – Irish for “Derry sun”) to shredded soul (“Lucille”) and tightly coiled dub noir (“Cologne Halls”), Beat At The Heart Of The City showcases Andrew Morrison’s singular ear for vibrantly damaged dancefloor energies. Tensions and raptures rev and unravel in intuitive asymmetries, evoking cold clubs, deserted streets, dazed gardens – bleary beauty for crumbling kingdoms. Of the feverish rhythm delirium “One Day In The Life Of Ivana” Morrison even credits illness as muse: “I deeply remember being extremely sick at the time.” It’s grim up north.”
Bright Sounds prove Burnt Friedman has long been ahead of the game with these 1994 productions only now seeing light of day.
It’s genuinely hard to believe that the percolated pulse and flecked micro-rhythms of Knick are nearly 25 years old - it could be a new T++ cut - while the jerky funk of Platintundra and Echokammer coolly predates micro-house styles developed by Matthew Herbert and Villalobos by a good few years. If any label passed these up at the time, shame on them!
Trust Fade To Mind to rep the freshest club mutations with BE3K’s infectious batch of slow Ballroom bangers.
Close in tempo and movement to the FDM sounds that’s currently breaking out of NYC, Exoneration serves 5 killer vocal works and corresponding instrumentals, teeing up very strong tracks in Space Trip and How I Like It, which both uncannily remind us Arca’s early EPs for UNO NYC, and also in the shrieking flounce of CKUNTIE 2.0.
Cate Le Bon and Tim Presley pour the aural equivalent of an old fashioned in a repurposed jam jar for Drag City
“A month spent in an old mill, river swimming, scorpion fear. No wifi. Night sounds, used frogs. Broken music, a crumble, a mysterious place. An album made for each other by one another with no piercing the bubble, the opposite of a typical recording experience. Tim and Cate serve Drinks again!”
A very strong look for fans of Jasss, Fatima Al Qadiri or Paul Marmota: Animus is the superb début album of cyber-gothic atmospheres and mutant dembow drum patterns from Debit, a crucial member of Central America’s strongest new dance music label: Mexico City’s NAAFI.
Conceptually exploring the intersectionality of gender, sexuality and consciousness, Delia Beatriz a.k.a. Debit marries panoramic and introspective ambient aspects with stylized rhythms that connote the album’s ideological impetus in a suggestively ambiguous manner.
While the dembow rhythms which drive much of the album are unmistakably located to South and Central American traditions, the melodic and tonal content steers wide of any folk tropes, resulting a mutably plasmic and amorphous sound that lives up to Debit’s ideas about a fluidity of gender and the brackets imposed by socialised sexuality.
If we’re playing favourites, then the strongest examples are found strewn, on the one hand, between the bass tumult and arcing sound designs of Remain, or in the stunning breakbeat ructions and surging pads of Audacious, while from an ambient perspective, she really impresses int he 2nd half with the unfathomably wide dimensions of Realist, the lush harmonic swells of Inflection, and the chamber-like concision of Anamnesis, but in the most classic sense this is an album that demands to be consumed in one go.
Lil Jabba gives up six gurning mutations of footwork, grime, drill and 2-step in MiZO, continuing the freakish styles of his Local Action releases for London’s Getme! (Hello Skinny, Lixo, Kit Grill).
The results are something like the modern soundtrack to a graphic novel set at an early ‘00s pirate radio station, with six tracks that variously morph from fractured, phantasmic early grime animations in WICKeT to stark, brittle 2-step strafed with static and set in acres of negative space on DisTilleR, while Hot Bloc comes off like tres demented Horsepower Productions piece, and Forest Edge finds him dwelling in more fringe-like suburban headspace a la Burial, and MiZO brings it all together with a more positive flush compatible to FaltyDL gear.
Spatial stalks the line between grime and techno on his follow-up to the album payload of A Music Of Sound Systems, with remix reinforcement by J. Tijn and Munstac.
On Netz Room he unleashes a nervy chimera of snarling grime drums clinically punctuated with techno synths and stabs in a fiercely economical style, whereas Hut 6 heads for straight down the line techno.
J. Tijn gives Netz Room a clattering kind of breakstep rework and Munstac puts a playful UKF spin on the same elements, returnin the favour of Spatial’s remix for The Cathedral .
Krystal Klear flexes out on a Latin freestyle-house/NRG tip for Running Back
Commanding hands-in-the-air for the Bobby Orlando-styled Neutron Dance, then with he strutting Italo synth-pop peacockery of Division Ave, before tilting to escape velocity with Shockzoid, and calling off with the breezy Italo piano house and choral synth lines of Moonshine Miner.
Sami Baha links with Dimzy ov London drill dons 67 for the Discreet killer on Planet Mu.
Following from Turkish/British producer Baha’s solo debut in 2016, and subsequent remix of Kingdom in 2017, Discreet makes strong moves at the edge of drill and vaporous electronica with a smart twist on Drill’s minor key chords and hollow-tipped snare crack conventions, leaving Dimzy to keep it menacing AF from the shadows.
Christian Jay pivots on a dubby garage 2-step again for Idle Hands
Following his Contrail début with a nimble number called Katalox remaining us of Tender Love era SND, and from a moody blue angle somewhere between early Prefuse 73 and Herbert in Del’s Kicks.