Body/Head, the duo of Kim Gordon (CKM, Sonic Youth, Free Kitten) and guitarist Bill Nace (X.O.4,Vampire Belt, Ceylon Mange), release their second studio album, ‘The Switch’.
"Their debut album together as Body/Head, ‘Coming Apart’ was more of a rock record - heavy, emotional, cathartic, spellwork in shades of black and grey. ‘The Switch’ is their second studio full length and it finds the duo working with a more subtle palette, refining their ideas and identity.
Some of it was sketched out live (if you’ve not had the fortune of seeing them in that natural environment yet, see 2016’s improvisational document ‘No Waves’) but much of it happened purely in the moment. On ‘The Switch’, their vision and focus feel truly unified.
If ‘Coming Apart’ was dark magic, ‘The Switch’ works with light, though it never forgets that these approaches are two sides of the same coin and that binaries - black/white, near/far, emotion/analysis, body/head - are made to be broken open and that the truth of things is in the energy between.
Exploratory British violinist Laura Cannell presents captivating duets with André Bosman, who previously produced her ‘Quick Sparrows Over The Black Earth’ album, on a gripping session recorded live inside the 13th century stone walls of Ravingham Church in Norfolk, UK
“In wood and marsh and stone we make our reckoning”
Dispatched on Laura’s Brawl Records, ‘Reckonings’ is another prime example of her singularly experimental take on a cross section of ideas absorbed from early medieval music, traditional folk and renaissance and contemporary styles. Coupled with Bosman, she’s clearly an adept collaborator, as her previous works with Mark Fell, Sandro Mussida, Aby Vuillamy, and Rhodri Davies have proven, but we’d take this album as the strongest example of her strengths in union.
Laura plays violin with overbow and baroque bow, while André handles violin with amplifier and Rebec bow. The results are fiercely dissonant in a classic folk sense, as the two operate closely but with differences emerging in their bowing and the extra layer of disruption added by Bosman’s amplifier, which lends a wickedly coruscating bite to proceedings.
It’s definitely not your usual, pretty, cliched neo-classical work at all. There’s a snarling fire to their sound that seems to fulminate in the air, with each player bearing their fangs in a way that’s not aggressive but does connote a sort of slow, considered violence to our ears that’s much more effective than outright aggression. It feels as though they are absorbing and transmuting hundreds of years of hellish imagery and pain from the church itself into these recordings, giving a voice to lost souls.
After establishing himself with rough but emotive house as Rimbaudian and jungle as Birds of Sweden, Armand Jakobsson unveiled his DJ Seinfeld alias to the world, first with single ‘U’, then with his Time Spent Away From U album on Lobster Fury in November 2017.
"Jakobsson approached his DJ-Kicks with the intention of representing all the things that made him fall in love with dance music more than a decade ago, as well as showing some of the progression that has occurred in that time and “reflecting the simultaneous fear of leaving something safe behind as well as the excitement of venturing into unknown territories, musically and emotionally.”
In order to make it as personal as possible, he called upon the many talented people around him making music. They returned with an enthusiasm that reminded Jakobsson of his own early passion, and in turn invigorated him and the whole process of assembling the mix. It was finally recorded at Inkonst club in Malmo because, recently back from years in Barcelona, he has not yet set up a studio in his hometown."
Hauntingly mystic roots reggae set crammed with cherry-picked classics and obscurities by Jackie Mittoo, The Gladiators, Alton Ellis, Horace Andy, The Manchesters...
“This is the second installment of deep roots Rastafarian reggae at Studio One and features classic music from some of the most important figures in reggae music – Alton Ellis, The Heptones, Jackie Mittoo, The Gladiators – alongside a host of rarities and little-known recordings, such as a truly rare Mystic Revelation of Rastafari seven-inch single, Willie William’s first ever recording ‘Calling’ and Horace Andy’s righteous (and equally rare) masterpiece ‘Illiteracy.’
Black Man’s Pride 2 extends the legacy of Studio One’s ground-breaking path in roots reggae which began at the end of the 1960s and continued throughout the 1970s. The album tells the story of how the rise of Studio One Records and the Rastafari movement were interconnected, through the adoption of the Rastafari faith by key reggae artists – everyone from the Skatalites and Wailers in the 1960s, major singers such as Alton Ellis and Horace Andy at the end of the decade, through to major roots artists such as The Gladiators in the 1970s – and how Clement Dodd consistently recorded this heavyweight roots music throughout Studio One’s history.
The extensive sleeve-notes to this album also discuss the links between Rastafari and Studio One in time and place, noting how both the religion and Clement Dodd’s musical empire had their roots in the intense period of pre-independence Jamaica in Kingston, expanded in the 1960s following the visit of Haile Selassie in 1966, and how roots music then came to dominate reggae music in the early 1970s. Also discussed is how the outsider stance of both reggae music and the Rastafari movement relate back many hundreds of years to the original rebel stance of the Maroons, escaped slaves who set up self-sufficient enclaves in the hills of the Jamaican countryside.
There is also a track-by-track history by the noted Studio One writer Rob Chapman (Never Grow Old). This new album comes as heavyweight gatefold double vinyl (+ download code), deluxe CD and digital album."
Best indie-pop freqs, L.A.’s Dirty Projectors keep their agenda porous to R&B, funk and warped traces of country-rock in a devilishly playful 9th album...
The follow-up to ‘Dirty Projectors’  - featuring guest appearances by Terrible Records’ Syd and Empress Of, plus newcomer Amber Mark, Fleet Foxes’ Robin Pecknold, ex Vampire Weekend guy Rostam, and Dear Nora.
Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch plays it like she means it on ‘Époques’, the french pianist and composer’s 2nd LP with FatCat’s 130701 label. It’s rare to hear a record that combines such direct gestures with keening experimental leanings while maintaining a palpable coherence, but that’s just what Emilie has done here. RIYL Max Richter, Richard Skelton, Jóhann Jóhannsson, Dustin O’Halloran
“Witnessing an increased assurance and dynamism in both Emilie's playing and composing, 'Époques' marks a big step forward for the London-based artist. A bold and adventurous album that alternates between passages of emotive, sinuous solo piano; stirring compositions for viola and cello and some beautifully sprawling electronics, it has been masterfully pieced together to further reveal a unique and intelligent sense of artistry, and a composer who really does deserve your full attention.
Losing some of the chill of Emilie's previous album, 'Époques' sound is both warmer and more honestly, emotively grounded. With a more coherent narrative drive, it retains the former's gentility and intricacy, whilst at times unravelling or teetering towards a palpably edgy, aggressive point of collapse. Over the course of its 44 minutes, the record modulates in intensity and moves between passages of sublime beauty to menace and despair. The tone for the album is outlined within the first two tracks. Opening with the sparse piano of 'Martello', which flowers into life and draws itself around you with sinuous vines and rising clusters of piano, it then falls into 'The Only Water', a rich yet murky, subterranean dreamscape of electronics and strings that hover and saw like Richard Skelton before evolving into some dark chamber duet, whilst slowly everything peels away into layers of delay. 'Redux' is another solo piano track, a meandering drift that winds its own sweet way before falling off into the glowering electronics and spaced cello figures of 'Overflow' and the dark, consumed-by delay piano of 'Fracture Points'. The brooding 'Ultramarine' opens a sound-field that lies closer to film score – edging perhaps towards the sensibility of former labelmate Jóhann's Jóhannsson's brilliantly unsettling 'Sicario' soundtrack.”
Pariah returns from extended hiatus with debut album ‘Here From Where We Are’ on Houndstooth making up for time since his last outing in 2012, and a couple of Karenn slammers with Blawan over the interim. In the key of the moment, it’s an ambient record presumably meant to soothe your bones after a hard night raving, or indeed to ease your swede from the intensifying travails of everyday life.
“Arthur Cayzer was a relative late comer to dance music. He grew up in various hardcore and punk bands before moving to London and being swept away by dubstep. After just six months messing around making his own stuff on Logic, Pitchfork coverage piqued the interest of the legendary R&S, and over the next two years he released three EPs with the Belgian label. Each one showed subtle evolution and further established Pariah on the international scene.
Since then, Arthur has continued to DJ round the world and play live with Blawan as Karenn. Musically, though, he’s been adrift. With countless unfinished projects cluttering his hard drive, he felt he’d pressured himself into making the music people expected, rather than music that was an honest reflection of himself. It was only by taking a step back to analyse the music that has always resonated with him—and where, how, when and in what context it did—that gave him a renewed confidence in his work. After one track was finished, an album of coherent pieces naturally followed.
Although Here From Where We Are is inspired by a series of very personal reflections, responses and reactions, Arthur is keen for people to process it in their own way, free from interference. Opening with the transcendental ‘Log Jam’ which spills into the huge, empty and plaintive ‘Pith’, the artist distills his experiences into an album of nine moving, multi-layered tracks, where peculiar textures combine with rich harmonies and absorbing melodies into a heady mix of abstracted environments, formally structured songs and sound collages. Absorbing from start to finish, Here From Where We Are is a long overdue return and accomplished new direction for this rejuvenated producer.”
A classic from academic and atrtist John Maus - sounding something like a cross between Autre Ne Veut and Joy Division - with a bit of Joe Jackson and Visage thrown in for good measure.
It's just one of those albums, it reminds you of something else almost constantly, yet leaves a smudged mark all its own on your psyche. This review from Jordan Redmond / Tiny Mix Tapes pretty much sums it up:
"Being an academic, John Maus understands the imperative to only release bodies of work that are conceptually sound and completely actualized. With Pitiless Censors, he sought to break into a new creative period but was disappointed that it was only a “consummation” or logical conclusion to the sound on his previous two widely-available albums (Songs and Love Is Real).
Based on the evidence here, Maus needn’t have any reservations about the body of work that he has released into the world. Pitiless Censors is a sparkling album, a lo-fi synth pop masterpiece that manages to give endless aural delights while still being intellectually engaging, and despite having been caught at the center of a whirlpool of current movements, all of which reflect some aspect of Maus’ style, he has only cemented his identity as a singular, unimpeachable figure. When confronted with music like this, it’s impossible not to be a believer.”
A must for lovers of affective pop music.
Buchla synth supremo Todd Barton’s hyperstitious soundtrack to Always Coming Home, an ‘80s American sci-fi novel by author Ursula K. Le Guin, is yet another ingenious recording dug out for reappraisal by Pete Swanson and Jed Middleman’s Freedom to Spend label - a division of RVNG Intl. Expect alien folk songs in made-up language, set to richly evocative backdrops of location recordings subtly gilded with self built instruments and synth contours. Properly immersive, otherworldly - think Breadwoman meets Lonnie Holley recording for Fonal.
“Music and Poetry of the Kesh is the documentation of an invented Pacific Coast peoples from a far distant time, and the soundtrack of famed science fiction author, Ursula K. Le Guin’s Always Coming Home. In the novel, the story of Stone Telling, a young woman of the Kesh, is woven within a larger anthropological folklore and fantasy.
The ways of the Kesh were originally presented in 1985 as a five hundred plus page book accompanied with illustrations of instruments and tools, maps, a glossary of terms, recipes, poems, an alphabet (Le Guin’s conlang, so she could write non-English lyrics), and with early editions, a cassette of “field recordings” and indigenous song. Le Guin wanted to hear the people she’d imagined; she embarked on an elaborate process with her friend Todd Barton to invoke their spirit and tradition.
For Music and Poetry of the Kesh, the words and lyrics are attributed to Le Guin as composed by Barton, an Oregon-based musician, composer and Buchla synthesist (the two worked together previously on public radio projects). But the cassette notes credit the sounds and voices to the world of the Kesh, making origins ambiguous. For instance, “The River Song” description reads, “The prominent rhythm instrument is the doubure binga, a set of nine brass bowls struck with cloth-covered wooden mallets, here played by Ready.”
According to writer and long-time friend of LeGuin, Moe Bowstern (who pens the liners for the Freedom To Spend edition of Kesh), Barton built and then taught himself to play several instruments of Le Guin’s design, among them “the seven-foot horn known to the Kesh as the Houmbúta and the Wéosai Medoud Teyahi bone flute.” Barton’s crafting of original instruments lends an other-worldly texture to the recordings of the Kesh, not unlike fellow builders Bobby Brown and Lonnie Holley. Bowstern notes, “Other musician / makers have crafted their own Kesh instruments after encountering the earlier cassette recordings that accompanied some editions of the book.”
Both Barton and Le Guin are sensitive to the sovereignty of indigenous Californians and were careful not to trample the traditions of the Tolowa people who lived in the valley long before the Kesh. “You research deeply, and then you bring your own voice to the table,” said Barton. Within the Kesh culture, the numbers four and five shape the lives, society and rituals. Barton composed loosely around these numbers, patiently listening to the land of Napa Valley for signs and audio signals from the natural elements. Todd incorporated ambient sounds of the creek by Le Guin’s house and a campfire they built together.
The songs of Kesh are joyful, soothing and meditative, while the instrumental works drift far past the imaginary lands. “Heron Dance” is an uplifting first track, featuring a Wéosai Medoud Teyahi (made from a deer or lamb thigh bone with a cattail reed) and the great Houmbúta (used for theatre and ceremony). “A Music of the Eighth House” sends gossamer waves of the faintest sounds to “float on the wind.” Like the languages invented in the vocal work of Anna Homler, Meredith Monk, and Elizabeth Fraser, the Kesh songs and poems play with the shape of voice.”
Theo Parrish commemorates one of the UK’s most important clubs for a whole generation, London’s Plastic People, with 3 x CDr’s spanning the full length of his 4hr 36min set at the club’s closing party
It’s a room recording, so you get all the excited natter in the background while Theo cuts loose on the filters, regularly bringing the crowd to ecstatic whoops and whistles...
The track-listing isn’t included but it does exist online thanks to some proper knowledge, and we can pretty much guarantee that if you’re investing in this piece of history, you’ll want to know what da fuq he’s playing!
Sarah Davachi’s quietly stunning first side for Sean McCann’s Recital Program. It arrives in the tremulous wake of the widely acclaimed 'All My Circles Run' album to offer a sublime reaffirmation of Davachi's genius for anyone who’s followed her work over the last few years, and also acts as an unmissable entry point for curious newcomers, especially anyone smitten with the methods and effects of music by Eliane Radigue, Kara-Lis Coverdale, or Mark Hollis.
Sarah’s work has been intimately concerned with the phenomenology of sounds and the way in which, once “released” from the player and instrument, they move in chaotic and unpredictable ways, effectively taking on a new life of their own. In order to exert some control over those factors, it’s perhaps understandable that Davachi's music is most often slow and the result of ostensibly simple gestures, but thanks to her preternatural attention to space and tone, those careful motifs generate a complexity of overtones that have become her coveted secret ingredient.
After alchemically turning her hand to whatever instrument is within reach (she’s been known to turn up at venues without an instrument and improvise on unfamiliar gear) for previous releases and shows, Davachi opts for the Mellotron and an electronic organ on Let Night Come On Bells End The Day, rendering five variegated improvisations that feel vulnerable yet somehow increasingly assured in her perceptive powers.
Most impressive among them are the gently coruscating chamber figure of Mordents, which makes an imperceptibly glacial transition from legible motifs to a gorgeous blur, and the heartbreakingly funereal drift of Buhrstone, especially when it really starts to keen out of the lines. But that’s not to say less of her hyaline beauty At Hand, or the time-melting dimensions of Hours In The Evening - as with all of Sarah’s work, they’re just aspects of the same, amazing whole.
Comprised almost entirely of synths, drum-machines and Maus' own vocals, 'Songs' could well be the bastard offspring of Giorgio Moroder in Eighties Soundtrack mode - with the kind of bitter-sweet melodies and baroque flourishes that framed so much teenage-angst during that decade.
Kicking off with the prosaically titled 'Opening', Maus plunges us into a grandstanding bout of church organ that climbs and climbs... Before wrapping itself up with the minimum of fuss. From here, 'Time To Die' introduces us to that signature vocal style that has an Ian Curtis bruise atop it's clipped-glottal brusqueness, whilst the backdrop is made up of fizzing electronics and skyburst melodies.
Elsewhere, 'Maniac' is a pulsating electro-pop nose-bleed, 'And Heaven Turned To Her Weeping' is the sound of scarred electronic skies, whilst 'Just Wait Till Next Year' takes a cue from Bowie in it's AM melodies. Odd on first listen, appealing on second and proper smitten thereafter, John Maus has more than overcome expectations with this cracked mirror view of the Eighties.
An early, in-demand John Maus gem, ‘Love Is Real’  bubbles back up on pretty pink wax in the wake of last year’s ‘Screen Memories’, the ‘Addendum’ album, and an eponymous boxset compilation
On ‘Love Is Real’, Maus presented a slightly more low-key follow-up to his definitive ‘Songs’ album, which attracted a whole wave of listeners who’ve likely been smitten with the pop perfectionist ever since.
To be honest, ‘Love Is Real’ comes from a blindspot in our memories (we can clearly recall days spent with ‘Songs’, but not this one) and as such may as well be a new Maus release for us, and we’d imagine many others who either slept on it or can’t be arsed paying steep 2nd hand prices.
It’s stuffed with signature, floating melodies, rounded harmonies and of course laced with Maus’ singular baritone, which works right on the cusp of knowing pastiche and timeless pop proper in a style that has become his trademark. References can simply be stated as “the ‘80s”, as Maus pays canniest tribute to a wealth of music that everyone knows and feels, but with a dreamy spin that somehow brings out the oddness and melancholy of nostalgia in a way that’s maybe comparable with Burial’s hauntological approach to the not-so-distant as much as the hook-riddled craft of his spirit-brother Ariel Pink.
‘Observing Objects’ is a quietly beautiful, improvised exercise in familiarisation between Eva Maria Houben, Rebecca Lane, and Sam Dunscombe, who had never previously played together prior to this recording
Based around simple, lingering gestures, in turn each player contributes single sounds which they observe and reflect upon before contributing their own, and so-on, with each consecutive part revealing more of the performer’s characteristics to the other.
Samuel Ekkehardt Dunscombe’s bass clarinet and Rebecca Lane’s bass flute occupy the lower registers and Eva-Maria’s organ and piano tend to the higher tones, each tentatively holding their bandwidth which only gradually overlap as the performers gain familiarity thru their practice, in turn generating more curious, querying and melting combinations as they work each other out.
Incredibly rich, sumptuous album from Tim Hecker, layering his particular blend of organic ambience with slivers of piano, found sounds and the quiet hum of abandoned machinery.
Playing counterpart to the processed acoustic transmissions of Fennesz, Hecker takes a much darker route, only offering relief from the mass of textures he concocts with deep buried remnants of melody and light. As a follow-up to Mille Plateaux's sublime "Radio Amor", "Mirages" is an even more majestic album, striding with a confident heaviness further out into the wilderness, deep into the night.
Tim Hecker's 'Haunt Me, Haunt Me Do It Again' was the Montreal artist's first album under his own name (he'd previously released under the moniker, Jetone) and very much sets the blueprint for what was to come over ensuing full-lengths.
In the early days of his career, Hecker was often compared with Fennesz, with both artists mining a similarly beautiful line in fizzy, glitch-laden digital soundscapes.
'Music For Tundra' would certainly seem to share the same vernacular as Fennesz's Endless Summer, but Hecker's sound is less song-like in essence, placing greater emphasis on subtle drone variations. Towards the album's centre, 'The Work Of Art In The Age Of Cultural Overproduction' stands as arguably the album's most impressive entry, intertwining a snarling distortion with granular melodic fragments and vicious, wind-like currents of noise; a sonic conceit that's been refined and expanded by Hecker over the years, but which has seldom sounded better than it does here.
A remarkably enduring piece of work, Haunt Me, Haunt Me, Do It Again has aged well, contemporary electroacoustic drone enthusiasts unfamiliar with it should dive in.
A Wolf Eyes masterpiece comes back to take your mind with this expanded reissue of their ‘Dread’  killer, re-cut at D&M and now featuring a bonus digital track taken from their ‘Sandpapered Eyes’ CDr
‘Dread’ is among the very earliest and gnarliest Wolf Eyes releases. It features the unholy trinity of John Olson in formative formation with Aaron Dilloway and Nate Young, each playing a fizzing and spitting disarray of tapes, electronics and guitars interspersed with scant vocals, and fundamentally catching the group at their most ragged and primitivist during a time when underground rock and noise was in need of new ideas.
The seeds planted in Dread sprout in the pavement cracks between sludge metal, avant-garde electronics and punkish No wave, establishing a low down and dirty sound that would eventually become known as Trip Metal. But it’s fair to say that their modern sound is generously polished when compared with these nascent, evil doings, where half-cut drum machines drunkenly slur in a torrid union with Nate Young's vocals, at times recalling throat-scarring hardcore, and at other reminding of Mark E. Smith with a bad cold on some home-brew.
In swapping out rock’s macho posturing for genuine, certifiable madness, and effectively reducing it’s structures to rubble, Wolf Eyes forged one of the most deadly records of the early ‘00s, which still remains utterly compelling today, 17 years on. And just in case you’re the insatiable type (you’re a Wolf Eyes fan, it’s most likely), the bonus cut of ‘Sandpapered Eyes’ should finish you off to the bone.
Brooding mix of post-rock and electro-pop by Ricardo Donoso + childhood friend Thiago Kochenborgor, betraying mutual influence from Depeche Mode to NIN in eight parts
“"The sailor cannot see the north, but knows the needle can".
‘Human Resources’ marks the first official album by two friends playing together since the age of twelve, separated by oceans and time, attempting to reconnect with the same collaborative, exploratory and enthusiastic spirit that they felt fifteen years prior.
Under the alias RDTK, the roots of the collaboration were planted fifteen years ago in a small one-bedroom apartment in Rio de Janeiro as an outlet for two seventeen year olds to learn and abuse the intricacies of electronic production, composition and home recording. Its initial roots remain intact: combining a hybrid of traditional rock instrumentation and arrangements with electronic programming, sound design and an intricate and sophisticated production style.
Ricardo's musical vocabulary draws as much from contemporary composition, drone, to techno and noise. Songs like album opener ‘Affective Forecasting’ contain a mind blowing intensity which is often felt throughout ‘Human Resources’. Cinematic textures and progressive rhythms are the very essence of the record as we are invited in to the immersive sound world of RDTK.
‘There Is Still Time’ conjures up images of barren landscapes and dreamlike imagery, with a spine chilling tension that is a far-cry from the sounds of Samba and Bossa Nova, while the piercing strength of ‘Surface and Together’ set against a back-drop of melancholy keys and krautrock electro beats offers a depth and urgency that is strikingly emotive.”
More than 10 years in the making, this box set features the earliest recordings and the first book ever written about one of the most influential guitarists from the 1960s and ‘70s, John Fahey.
"The five CDs feature 115 tracks, most of which are available on CD for the first time. The audio was remastered from Joe Bussard’s reel-to-reel tapes to achieve pristine sound quality. As for the accompanying book, the list of scholars who contributed essays includes Eddie Dean, Claudio Guerrierri, Glenn Jones, Malcolm Kirton, Mike Stewart and John’s childhood friend R. Anthony Lee. Byron Coley contributed a poem about John, and Douglas Blazek’s 1967 interview with Fahey is published for the first time.
Released 10 years after John Fahey’s death, this set puts one of the final puzzle pieces of Fahey’s career in place. Everyone can now hear where this guitar legend got his start – a smoky basement in Frederick, Maryland. Co-produced by Dean Blackwood of Revenant, Glenn Jones, and Lance Ledbetter of Dust-to-Digital, this set is released with the support of Joe Bussard and the John Fahey Estate. The set is dedicated to John’s mother, Jane C. Hayes and the late musician Jack Rose."
Wen hypnotises with the pendulous, crystalline designs of EPHEM:ERA, a sophomore album study on the mercurial warp and weft of modern UK dance music. Like Actress and Zomby before him, Wen also has a vital vision of what dance music can and should sound like. Taking the most forward elements of techno, jungle, garage and grime, he salvages what’s good and bends their time-tested functions into ear-snagging yet elusive new designs that express a pivotal sense of an eternally out-of-reach future.
Tessellating style and pattern at oblique angles, Wen teases their common binds and frictional differentials in a way that feels fresh yet familiar to anyone who has been participating with UK dance music cultures over the past generation.
In Silhouette he retro-fits sino grime with spiritual jazz in weightless pirouettes, while Time II Think rewires garage with slinky techno. Previous single Blips is a sterling example of where hardcore has become distilled/inverted into weightlessness without losing that lip-biting section of hardcore proper, and the uncentred axes of Grit and Off-Kilter catch him rendering garage-techno prisms with ambient abstraction, modulating the tension between raving urges and a certain sort of UK discipline that’s key to his sound.
Two-disc set featuring new artwork and a bonus disc of remixes and alternate versions, including a previously unreleased remix of Anymore from the band’s Will Gregory, a new version of 'Ocean' with new vocals from Depeche Mode's Dave Gahan and more.
Goldfrapp’s 7th studio album is arguably among their most potent, poignant to date, and that’s no mean feat for a band approaching their 20th anniversary. This may be due to the input of fresh new hands such as Bobby Krlic (The Haxan Cloak) and Leo Abrahams on a number of tracks, or simply down to Goldfrapp assuming their mantle as one of the world’s best-loved and persistent synth-pop units, but either way they’ve cooked up a goodun with Silver Eye.
Where their previous outing Tale Of Us  dabbled with pastoral indie pop alongside the usual smoky, noirish themes, they’ve returned to what they do best here; slickly glam and sensual synth pop proper, illustrated in glossy, sweeping DX7 synth contours and gilded with Alison Goldfrapp’s timeless grasp of impeccable, romantic songwriting.
The mingling of fresh young blood with Goldfrapp’s anachronisms makes for a record that could have been released at almost any point in their catalogue but somehow sounds very now, in a sort of ‘90s-referencing way - which we’d largely put down to the input of Bobby Krlic on four tracks in particular; on the glam stomp of opener Anymore, suggesting NIN meets Taylor Swift, in the sublime DX7 strokes and shoegaze guitar burn of Tigerman, and thru to the biting point crunch and detached vocal processing of Become The One, or the way how Moon In Your Mouth somehow sounds like a beautifully hyper-stylised version of Dido - and we mean that most respectfully.
The rest is sterling, too; highlights also to found in the lip-biting darkroom greazer, Systemagic; the perfectly curdled chords and Alison’s dry ice poise in Faux Suede Drifter; the Fever Ray-like techno-pop thump of Zodiac Black; or the misty-eyed beauty of Beast That Never Was, featuring Slip associate and Brian Eno collaborator Leo Abrahams.
Grand, sweeping neo-classical statement by Polish cellist Karolina Rec, a.k.a. Resina
“Two years on from her critically acclaimed, self-titled debut, Polish cellist Resina (aka Karolina Rec) returns with her sophomore album for FatCat's influential 130701 imprint. A less fragile, far more immediate album, 'Traces' sees the Warsaw-based artist working a sound which moves closer towards the listener, with increased viscerality and weight. It's a bold, dynamic and assured step forward and an album fully deserving of your attention.
Looped, processed and layered with increased dynamism, on 'Traces', the cello moves from discrete chamber intimacy to shimmering ambient miasmas and more urgent, full-blooded tracks that reach out and grab you. There are points of delicate beauty and moments where everything seems about to melt into chaos. Whilst Karolina's voice appeared only briefly (to stunning effect) on her debut's final track, this time around it assumes much greater prominence, featuring on almost half the album's tracks. Non-verbal, her vocals function as a beautiful, haunting textural layer, conjuring a sense of near sacred purity and longing. Besides the looped and layered sounds/ rhythms coaxed from cello and voice, 'Traces' expands her palette with contributions from drummer / percussionist Mateusz Rychlicki adding body and drive on a number of tracks.
'Traces' was recorded in December 2017 at renowned Polish producer/ musician Maciej Cieslak's studio in the Wola district of Warsaw. One of the city's uglier areas, Wola was massively devastated during the last war, being the site of both the Jewish ghetto and Warsaw Uprising. During the album's production, the pair often discussed palpably feeling some heavy, dark energy of the place, something of which has doubtless leaked into the album. Drawing upon some dark and timely themes and finding grounding in the worrying / unstable era in which we find ourselves, its title refers to the observing of memories; to remnants surviving violence or the ravages of time; to parts missing or disfigured.”
Footwork OG, RP Boo keeps the style mutably rude and forward with I’ll Tell You What!, a début album declaration of dancefloor war arriving nearly 30 years into a DJ/production curve that started with him handling the decks for original Chicago dance crew, the House-O-Matics, and has seen him release music for Dance Mania before leading Footwork’s global expansion via Planet Mu.
I’ll Tell You What!, is Kavain Space a.k.a. RP Boo’s first collection of new material to be released shortly after it was written. In other words it’s his first album, proper, if we consider that his pivotal Legacy and Fingers, Bank Pads & Shoe Prints releases were compiled from archival material. But pedantry aside, I’ll Tell You What! is simply another thrilling RP Boo record crammed with unique rhythmelodic arrangements.
Born in the resistance of Chicago’s streets to its endemic violence, but also heavily inspired by Boo’s incessant touring schedule over the last five years (if you haven’t witnessed him DJing, you’re missing out) the album is as much about the Chi as his hard-won experience of how to translate Windy City funk to foreign feet, and finds him stripping back the samples to locate leaner, more rugged beat structures and hardcore basslines that marks the difference compared to his earlier work.
If we’re playing favourites, the rhythmic crossfire of At War is definitive RP Boo, while Cloudy Back Yard’s percolated chorales and dark B-line are just mad abstract and inexorably funky, and that mutual, underlying connection with the nuttiness of UK hardcore really comes thru strongly in the cranky prang of Bounty and the breathless flow of U Belong 2 Me. But fuck any more chat about this one, you’re only ever going to understand it properly with your ears and feet.
Infectious hot-steppers meshing belting vocals to pointillist polyrhythms by fuji master drummers on talking drums, trap drums and electronic percussion. Recorded in modern day Lagos, Nigeria
“‘Synchro Sound System & Power’ features the music of Nigeria Fuji Machine, which includes some of Nigeria's finest ‘Fuji’ master drummers and singers, and is newly recorded by Soul Jazz Records in Lagos.
Fuji is the heavily percussive and improvisational style of Nigerian popular music, at once modern and yet deeply rooted in the traditional Islamic Yoruba culture of Nigeria.
Here on this album Nigeria Fuji Machine’s striking and powerful lead vocalist Taofik Yemi Fagbenro soars above a wild and energetic backdrop of polyrhythms played on traditional talking drums, trap drums, electronic and street percussion to create a powerful wall of intense sound.
Fuji is hi-energy street music, heavily percussive which evolved out of the Islamic celebration of Ramadan, which became a major event in mid-20th century Lagos. Groups of young men walked through Muslim neighbourhoods at night singing improvised ‘wéré’ music to the accompaniment of pots, pans, drums, bells and anything else available, waking believers for the early morning prayer. By the early 1970s this music had crossed-over into popular Nigerian culture where it came to be known as Fuji, first made popular by the artist Alhaji Sikiru Ayinde Barrister, as the music began to be performed commonly at parties and social events.
In the 1970s and 1980s three Nigerian artists – King Sunny Adé, Chief Ebonezer Obey and Fela Kuti – all secured international major record deals bringing popularity to the Nigerian musical styles of Juju (Adé and Obey) and Afro-Beat (Fela Kuti’s unique mixture of highlife, funk and jazz) abroad, but in the process ignoring much of Nigeria’s rich musical landscape. Fuji is, alongside Highlife, Juju, Afro-Beat, Sakara, Afro-Reggae, Waka, Igbo rap, Apala and numerous others – one of these central styles of Nigerian music.
The singer Barrister described the music as follows: ‘Fuji music is a combination of music consisting of Sakara, Apala, Juju, Aro, Afro, Gudugudu, and possibly Highlife.’ Juju performer King Sunny Adé described the difference between the two styles of Fuji and Juju somewhat competitively thus: ‘Fuji music is more or less like my music without guitars. It’s like I’m singing in a major key and they are singing in a minor. The music itself is the music of Juju music.’
Today Fuji remains a powerful popular music with deep and powerful Islamic roots which continues to modernise and attract new generations of young Nigerians and Nigeria Fuji Machine’s ‘Syncho Sound System & Power’ is a powerful and intense musical experience.”
Cinematic neo-classical orchestrations meet heavily textured electronics in a way recalling Ben Frost and Jon Hopkins
"Ben Chatwin’s 'Staccato Signals' is the South Queensferry-based composer's second album with Village Green, following 2015's ‘The Sleeper Awakes’.
Ben initially set out to make a purely electronic record, using analogue and modular synthesisers, harnessing the unpredictability of hardware sequencers to write melodic lines rather than by hand with a keyboard. This was about giving up control to the machines – leaving them to their own devices, allowing chance and random elements to decide the direction of the music, ultimately making them more of a collaborator than a tool.
However, towards the end of its writing, not satisfied with the results, Ben was overcome with the feeling that he needed to push what he had created further into new territory, in order to invent entirely new sounds and textures. He decided to work with a string quartet, exploring innovative ways to fold, bury and combine both strings and brass into his industrial, noisy and chaotic electronic template. Again, this was about giving up control – working with other musicians, allowing them to improvise and arrange parts in order to find those special moments where something unexpected happens. The writing process became a search for those moments, the short, sharp flashes of inspiration – the staccato signals.
Throughout the album mournful strings are engulfed by harsh, all-encompassing synths, while disorienting climaxes of blazing electronics recall the deafening loudness of an inferno. Yet while the jagged, synthesized textures that needle the album together might call to mind such devastating imagery, the acoustic instruments that feature throughout the album continuously provide a more human counterbalance.
Following ‘The Sleeper Awakes’ (2015) and ‘Heat & Entropy’ (2016), ‘Staccato Signals’ is Ben’s third album under his own name. It’s a bolder and more ambitious record than anything he has written before, largely the result of relinquishing different levels of control over the musical process. It’s an album which smoulders with an almost aggressive darkness, yet one that is laced with melodic glimmers of light.”
Filigree electro-acoustic blend of modern classical strings, jazz-fusion wind, and razor sharp electronics, landing somewhere between Alva-Noto and Golden Retriever
““Elusive Balance” explores the relationship between humans and nature, as well as the search for balance between these two great entities.
The theme of equilibrium and its precariousness, and its natural tendency to achieve relative stability connects all living things. Equilibrium is also a junction point and evolutionary engine – unstable and elusive, ready to deteriorate and to start a new reaction mechanism bringing organisms to a new harmony.
Beauty is a rare and fleeting thing; it often corresponds to those phases where we can grasp that unstable equilibrium which exists between us and the world at large.
Musically the album seeks resolution of sound contrasts, in a continuous search for an emotional component that gives simultaneously a feeling of tension and stillness. There is a duality between the ‘organic’ components (represented by soprano sax and percussion) and their interaction with machines and computers.
In “Elusive Balance”, OZMOTIC investigate the essence of their sound to expand its emotional and compositional potential. Each track contains a search for a synthesis between sound elements apparently distant from each other, but in reality create a new balance – as poetic as it is musical.
The album’s seven tracks draw a sonic flow in which the melodic aspects are countered by glitches and angular sounds, and the ambient passages are subjected to heavy rains of rhythm, leaving space for dreamlike moments.”
In 1978 Japan released their debut album Adolescent Sex and embarked on a career that would span decades. With Steve Jansen on drums the band enjoyed huge success whilst simultaneously creating a back catalogue of music that still inspires today.
"Fast forward to 2007 and after many years working and collaborating with artists such as Richard Barbieri, Yukihiro Takahashi, Ryuichi Sakamoto & Bernd Friedmann, Steve released his debut, solo album Slope. Steve Jansen’s second solo album ‘Tender Extinction’ was an evocative blend of songs and instrumentals enlisting some of the singer/songwriters that appeared on Jansen’s previous solo work ‘Slope’.
’Corridor’ was composed as a sound installation first aired at Cape Breton University art gallery, Canada to accompany a selection of photographic images by Steve Jansen, 2018. All titles written, performed, produced & mixed by Steve Jansen. Additional sound recording by Charlie Storm. Artwork by Anna Malina Zemlianski."
Acknowledged as an influence by many: founder of the classic eighties label Sleeping Bag, home to Mantronix, T La Rock, Joyce Sims amongst many others: - vocalist and cellist, buddhist - almost joined Talking Heads, instead making two of the biggest Paradise / Loft tunes of all: Loose Joints' "Is It All Over My Face" and Dinosaur L's "Go Bang", as well as a wealth of experimental but still uncannily accessible music.
Arthur heard disco as one of the most potent musics, ripe for experimentation and proceeded to do exactly that. Enlisting mixers from the a-list - Walter Gibbons, Larry Levan, Francois Kevorkian - Arthur's tunes have passed into musical foklore - with all 13 minutes of the awesome "In The Light Of The Miracle" present here, there's really no further need for discussion...involve yourself immediately with this wonderful music.
Haunting mix of modern minimalism and early music from German composer, keyboardist and musicologist, Eva-Maria Houben, her latest in over a dozen solo transmissions for Edition Wandelweiser Records.
A sublime study in tempered precision and space unfolds in three movements performed by Irene Kurka (soprano) and Eva-Maria (piano), each revolving around a respective text by Felix Timmermans, Hilde Domin and Eva-Maria herself.
In the three part Adagio we’re introduced to Eva-Maria’s unique sense of temporality with singular, decaying keys lingering and preparing the air for Irene’s lone phrases sung directly into the piano strings to spookily resonant effect, with each concise piece seeming to grow starker, imperative by the simplest of gestures.
At the centre of the set, despite its stoic sparsity, Lyrik feels almost dense by comparison to the preceding parts, as Eva-Maria moves to the lower registers of the keys, letting each note roundly ring out with poignant purpose.
Finally Songs For The Island wraps up the set with a suite of reggae covers in the style of The Venga Boys. We jest. It’s actually the longest section, set to german text by Eva-Maria, and forming an archipelago of fading notes and wilting overtones interspersed by longing lacunæ in a way that emphasises the spaces between as much as what’s being played, with each element reinforcing the other’s shape, presence and meaning in reflective negative relief.
Virtuoso percussionist Tom de Cock performs five works composed by Pierluigi Billone, issued as the first recordings on the Contra Naturem series, a collaboration between Sub Rosa and the adventurous, Brussels-based Ictus Ensemble. Their ‘Mani.Mono  - For Springdrum’ could almost be Harry Bertoia pinged around by Demdike at the GRM, and their ‘Mani.Dike  - For 2 Tibetan Singing Bowls, Chinese Opera Gong, Low Thai Gong’ deploys the instruments as rarely heard, from aggressive clang to barely touched presence...
“The 'magic of the record' befits contemporary music, which starts by adhering to an open, flexible sonic space where magnetic bolts of lightning shoot through. In that respect, at least, it has always been pop. The record lifts the curtain on a virtual stage; it creates its own space time; it reports on a listening project. And home computing has changed the game: the digital kitchen doesn't intimidate anyone anymore: editing and mixing are now part of the performer's daily routine.
The composer: Pierluigi Billone (1960) Italian composer known for works which often 'reinvent' the performance techniques of the instruments involved. He studied under Salvatore Sciarrino and Helmut Lachenmann. He focuses on the nature of sound. He also draws on free jazz and non-European music for his research on sound matter. After a brief return to Italy in 2000, he decided to move to Vienna. His music has privileged performers such as the Klangforum Wien. It is broadcast by German and Austrian radio, is regularly scheduled in international festivals such as Donaueschingen.
The performer: Tom De Cock (1982) received his masters degree in percussion at the Royal Conservatory of Brussels, as well as a masters degree in contemporary music at the HFMDK Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Next to his position as percussion soloist at the Brussels Philharmonic orchestra, Tom has been working as a freelance musician in Europe, he played with Ensemble Modern, MusikFabrik, Radio Kamer Philharmonie, among others and is a fixed member of Ictus, Tom has collaborated with Pierre Boulez, Peter Eötvös, Philippe Hurel, Bruno Mantovani, Philippe Manoury, Georges Aperghis and many other prominent figures of international contemporary music.”
Electronics whizz, studio producer and Punkt co-director Jan Bang teams-up with vocalist Sidsel Endresen on Hum, an album released as part of Confront Recordings’ Core Series, a cycle of releases which has previously featured contributions from David Sylvian, Julie Tippetts and Derek Bailey.
"Recorded live in Oslo in 2016, Hum focuses on atomised gestures quarried from mutant combinations of voice and corrupted circuitry. Sidsel Endresen: voice Jan Bang: sampler, Dictaphone Composed by Sidsel Endresen and Jan Bang. Copyright control (TONO). Recorded by Asle Karstad at Victoria Nasjonal Jazzscene, Oslo, December 1st 2016. Mastered by Helge Sten at Audio Virus Lab. Mixed and produced by Jan Bang at Punkt Studio, Kristiansand."
Gatefold slipcase in resealable poly wallet...
Sun Araw’s ‘Guarda In Alto OST’ is the oddest, most enigmatic thing we’ve heard from Cameron Stallones in a decade of singularly psychedelic output since his ‘The Phynx’ album back in 2008.
Touching down ahead of two new Sun Ark releases starring Maxwell Sterling, the avant-jazz minimalism, new age dub and early computer music nods of the Guarda In Alto OST were conceived to fit the imagery of Fulvio Risuleo’s film about “a baker who has access to a parallel universe on the roofs of the city”. Fair to say that without even seeing the flick, the sounds are faithfully and suitably dreamlike when taken in context of the film’s themes.
While made up of myriad inter-related micro-cells, the album’s macro effect is one of utopian psychedelic optimism, whose nature implies rather than forces a sense of the other thru its finely realised aesthetic. The results are comparable in parts to Sun Araw’s fellow psychedelic journeymen, James Ferraro and Spencer Clark, as much as Maggi Payne’s enchanted computer music, but distinguished by Stallones’ unique style of cosmic jazz dub.
Pairing two contrasting sets of ‘Works For Violin Duo’ composed respectively by Jürg Frey and Luigi Nono in two different periods, highlighting the paradoxes of players’ natural similarities, and by turns, their differences, at a level of ascetic minimalist luxury
“Ohne Titel (Zwei Violinen) is emblematic for much of Jürg Frey‘s work, because here, as elsewhere, the idea of two runs very deep.
A piece begins with something - some group of similar sounds, or some manner of performance; and then, without warning, reason, or justification, simply changes to something else. These are moments in which all lies open, where the imminent need to decide threatens to become almost a kind of panic.
In Ohne Titel (Zwei Violinen) ‚two‘ means not just two moments in time (i.e., before and after), but two persons. Throughout most of the piece the players play the same part, exactly the same notes. And here there is an interesting principle: the more similar the musicians actually sound, the more one senses their separation. This implies that, in this work, two is most visible at the border of one, where an infinite proximity reveals a fundamental difference.
How strange and interesting that this kind of music would be ‚paired‘ with Nono‘s duo "Hay que caminar" sognando ! Every thing in this piece seems to move from one extreme to the other: by leaps or sudden contrasts. In each case the physical limit of the instrument is approached in way that suggests that the music would continue, beyond the realm of the physical and audible.
With the emphasis on boundaries, we are strongly directed towards a metaphorical kind of space, enclosed not with walls but with windows, which allow us a view to the horizon. And still, this music is a song. But this song either speaks with gestures of great intensity or hardly at all. There is just the slightest echo of melody: Verdi‘s ‚scala enigmatica‘, itself an echo of melody. In this piece we hear song as pure longing, reaching for something that will forever remain just out of our grasp. - Michael Pisaro
One of the more ‘extreme’ Edition Wandelweiser releases is Michael Pisaro’s ‘Sometimes’ as performed by Colectivo maDam, who feature a lone solo female voice flanked by three musicians on electronics. The score only allows for occasional sustained vocal and electronic tones of varying, but mostly short length, each separated by contemplative lacunæ where we presume you’re intended to imagine or fill out the harmonies implied by the sparse stems yourself. This near-silence forms the bulk of the work and leave the listener largely in a state of suspense, anticipation.
“this piece was, as the title indicates, the first of the 34 pieces that would eventually become the harmony series. in this and all the other pieces in the series, i attempted to create the conditions for a harmonic situation without giving any actual notes. the main stimulus for this was swell piece (for alison knowles) (1967) by james tenney (one of the postal pieces). i had reason to perform that piece several times in 2003/4 and marveled at how any group we assembled would find the "right" harmony without anything being said. so sometimes was the first piece i made that tried to do that: by specifying only numbers and durations of tones and the pauses between them. it is dedicated to tenney."
Edition Wandelweiser co-founder Jürg Frey presents the starkly beautiful minimalism of ’24 Wörter’, a song cycle based around the album’s evocative song titles, and performed by the trio of Regula Konrad (soprano), Andrew Nathaniel McIntosh (violin), and Dante Boon (piano). They’re mostly very succinct works with no detectable fat to trim, forming a gorgeous, dreamlike archipelago of experimental contemporary classical compositions...
“Jürg Frey in conversation with Thomas Adank:
JF: The 24 words are the titles of the individual pieces, and they are at the same time the entire text. They are also a list that shows how the piece gets from a beginning to an end. It is, in a sense, a cycle not simply a collection of pieces - a cycle which begins, makes a journey and ends at a different place.
TA: If I had to categorize this list of words, it seems to me they are addressed to quite different areas. Herzeleid (Heartbreak) for example, sounds old-fashioned, Einsamkeitsmangel (Lack of Loneliness) almost sounds like a neologism, as do Halbschlafphantasie, (Half-Sleep Fantasy) Sehnsuchtslandschaft (Landscape of Longing), Vergessenheitsvogel (Bird of Oblivion). Others, such as Tod (Death), Schlaf (Sleep), Glück (Happiness), Wind (Wind), are very often used in everyday life. Did you, as you compiled this list, consider these categories? Or did you tell yourself a story that made these words necessary?
JF: I was thinking in categories. At first I really wanted to make an even more rigid sequence. As it now stands, with the long words at the end and the short words in the middle, you can still feel a little of this structure; also at the beginning, which has many words with "e" and "ei". However, now it is not so strict. The words developed lives of their own, and this displaced some of the original structure. Some are everyday words, others are made by combining words, and some words found individual paths into the piece, including some very personal things. L'oiseau d'oubli ("Vergessenheitsvogel",Bird of Oblivion) comes from Edmond Jabès and is a tribute to this author I adore. But I also think that here Jabès has given me the perfect word.
TA: This piece consists of 27 parts, two of them being instrumental. The 24 words were set to music in pieces that are between 30 seconds and four minutes, and the words appear at most twice each in each piece. Again a fairly rigid structure?”
Ephemeral Constructions is an intently focussed study on the fleeting nature of sounds and our perception of them when removed from the safety of conventional structures and arrangements
The most recent release in a twenty year catalogue of recordings by Swiss pianist and composer Jürg Frey for Edition Wandelweiser Records, it almost imperceptibly shifts from small sound klangs and clicks before peeling off strings with a glacial pacing that’s familiar to many releases on this label.
The University of South Carolina Experimental Music Workshop, directed by Greg Stuart, patiently perform the 40 minute piece, followed by two pieces of Frey’s Circular Music; a tangibly denser yet succinct and still barely there work for Violin, Clarinet and Vibraphone/Percussion, and a very slightly more fleshed out adjunct to Ephemeral Constructions in the palette and performers of the 23 minute work, Circular Music #6.
David Sylvian’s ASMR-like recital of Bernard-Marie Koltès ‘In The Solitude of Cotton Fields’, underlined by filigree minimalist music from Rhodri Davies (lap harp, table harp, vibraphone, radio) along with Mark Wastell (tam tam, cracked ride cymbal, chime, indian temple bells), and later combined with Toshimaru Nakamura’s no-input mixer contributions. Mixed by Rupert Clervaux (CVX)
“"The 30-minute piece is likely to cause plenty of contrasting opinions, which seems to be the destiny of every outing featuring Sylvian in the company of members of the EAI / lowercase area. For starters we have the trademark difficulty connected to the acceptation of music merging spoken word and rarefied movement. On average, a listener is inclined to mentally separate the vocalization and the relative verbal contents from the surrounding milieu, perhaps looking for the concealed meanings – if there are any – of the text rather than focusing on the resonant aspects of the unity (where resonance is intended as “something that strikes a chord within”). In this field of artistic expression many people are often ready to glorify absolutely insignificant materials just because they were conceived by a “name” – I have had my fair share of private vilification following a destruction of Robert Ashley’s Concrete way back when – but struggle to annex apparently minor, yet deeper statements to the reign of their suppositional knowledge.
From the very first time this record sucked me in to the point of not wanting to listen to anything else, as if other musics were a polluting threat to the strange interior serenity conveyed by these three gentlemen. Even more peculiarly – given the nonattendance of superficially “comforting” words and ritualistic hypocrisy, and considering the splendidly aging timbre of Sylvian’s voice – this writer instantly thought about Eliane Radigue’s Songs Of Milarepa (which, quite ironically, famously features the aforementioned Ashley’s recitation). The soothing consequence is practically identical in spite of entirely different origins, sonic tensions and creative purposes. There’s no necessity to emphasize how sensibly Davies and Wastell alternate shade and phosphorescence: breaking quietness for mere instants only to drown in their own vibrating essence, they construct the perfect environment for the progressive loss of significance of a logic that ultimately is nothing but a phantom. What remains is a chain of wavering suggestions: exactly what one needs to be delivered from the perennial interference of groundless assumption." Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes”
Graceful, barely-there, and enchantingly serene, Voice with Harp was written by German composer, keyboardist, musicologist and educator Eva-Maria Houben, and is performed by Tatiana Kuzina (soprano), and Christine Kazarian (harp).
A patient exercise in time dilation, Voice With Harp unfolds in five movements starting with the longest single piece, a sublime 15 minute instrumental Aeolian Harp, which appears to be an attempt at recreating the classical instrument’s wind-played elemental unpredictability under controlled conditions. We’d re commend listening to this one with the window open for best effect.
The other works are relatively shorter, generally between 3 and 5 minutes in length, and feature Tatiana Kuzina reciting texts by Eva-Maria and Felix Timmermans; three works opening with a sparse harp notes followed by vocal in Adagio, then in longing duet on Hatid, and two also accompanied by piano, before culminating with the five-part Songs For The Island - a sorta sublime inversion of The Vengaboys We’re Going To Ibiza .
Slow-moving, glorious and kosmische-toned, Otto Johannsson’s 2nd Echolog album explores perennial themes of endless summers in a way that perfectly coincides with the UK’s longest stretch of sun in living memory
Iridescent shoegaze guitars smear in the heat haze of Otto’s compositions with gauzily distanced drums, drowsy electronics and arcing harmonies in an easily appealing and classic style soaked in the precedents of Schulze, Moebius & Roedelius, Fennesz, Mogard.
Silent Servant - former Tropic Of Cancer and Sandwell District producer, Juan Mendez - made his stunning album debut with the poised fusion of epic techno, primitive post punk, and industrial electronics on 'Negative Fascination' for Hospital Productions in 2012.
Recorded just months after he stopped recording with Sandwell District, on Negative Fascination Mendez explored his divergent yet compatible tastes to their fullest, recognising and reconciling their congruent rhythms, atmospheres and intentions with alchemical ability. From the bellicose sci-fi romance of 'Process (Introduction)' to the full flight techno escapism of 'Utopian Disaster (End)'.
From the wave-scanning intro he spins a bleakly noirish narrative, slowly building tension with 'Invocation Of Lust''s acid hypnosis and the stoic deployment of drones and agitated drum machine slaves on 'Moral Divide (Endless)' that resolves with gritted techno determination on 'The Strange Attractor'. Yet perhaps our favourite moment is 'Temptation & Desire', sounding like the converged darkroom visions of Front 242 and Stephen Morris, but if any cut shocks us the most, it's 'A Path Eternal', revealing Silent Servant at his most unreservedly sublime and vulnerable without his usual, armour-plated chassis of beats.
It adds up to one of the most impressive examples of modern industrial techno of the decade, one that doesn't merely pay deference to its roots, but nourishes and augments them into something new.
Spellbinding soul-jazz salvo from Sudan ’92, sung in Arabic and english, and played with pronounced American and Ethiopian influences to strikingly unique effect. A real beauty. Hard to believe it was made in the ‘90s. Sounds like an unreleased ‘60s or ’70s peach! If you copped ‘Habibi Funk (An Eclectic Selection of Music From The Arab World)’, you need this one, too…
“Songs about the unity of Sudan, peace between Muslims and Christians and the fate of war orphans, backed by grooves equally taking influence from Arabic sounds, American funk as well as neighbouring Ethiopia.
Kamal Keila was among the first artist we met in Sudan during our two trips to Khartoum and Omdurman last year. He is one of the key figures of the Sudanese jazz scene that was a vital part of the musical culture in Sudan from the mid 1960s until the islamist revolution in the late 1980s. When we meet Kamal he luckily presented us with two mold covered studio reels.
Each tape included five tracks. One with English lyrics and another with Arabic ones. Musically you can hear the influence of neighboring Ethiopia much more than on other Sudanese recordings of the time, as well as references to Fela and American funk and soul. His lyrics, at least when he sings in English which gave him more freedom from censorship, are very political. A brave statement in the political climate of Sudan of the last decades, preaching for the unity of Sudan, peace between Muslims and Christians and singing the blues about the fate of war orphans called Shmasha.
A note inside one of the boxes specified the track titles, durations and the fact that the sessions were recorded on the 12th of august 1992. Both sessions stand as a hearable testament how Kamal Keila stuck to a sound aesthetic from decades ago, while incorporating current events into his lyrics.
Kamal Keila's album is the first in a series of releases covering the Sudanese jazz scene on Habibi Funk. Be on the lookout for albums by The Scorpions and Sharhabeel coming soon.”
More archival Bailey...we ain't complaining!
"This recording is more than just a document of a musical performance, it is a time capsule which allows the listener to travel back in time and space. But this is not simply a question of a date on a calendar or a point on a map; Klinker gives us a second chance (or for some, a first chance) to luxuriate in an atmosphere, a performance environment and a specific combination of musicians which we will never be able to experience again.
The most obvious and immediate thing that this recording brings back is the living, human presence of Derek and Will. In publishing the entire performance from start to finish, this Confront release allows us to experience these much-missed artists at work with a degree of intimacy and familiarity absent from (for example) prestigious festival performances.
Of course, any new addition to the Bailey discography is an exciting development, but I feel I must also mention just how well Will Gaines plays (and yes, I use that term deliberately) on this gig. For those who might be unsure why Derek was always so happy to play with Will, listen to how Will uses his strongly idiosyncratic technique with invention, flexibility and imperturbability in the Company context. Similarly, hearing Bailey and Gaines exchange one-liners reminds me just how strongly Derek’s early career in light entertainment imprinted his ideas about musical practice and performance ethics; with his combination of show business schmaltz and improvisational acuity Will was a marvellous foil for Derek. Listen to Will, having dangerously skirted raconteur territory in his solo introduction to WG / MW, suddenly getting serious and creative when Mark decides to join him. But most of all, listen to the constantly re-inventing interaction between these four relaxed performers, one distant Thursday night in De Beauvoir Town. For this recording is also a tribute to the London Improvised Music Club scene of the late 20th century. During the 1990s I played extremely regularly in clubs such as The Klinker, sometimes as often as three or four times a week; the idea of playing frequently in low-pressure situations, with an ever-changing roster of colleagues, was the very essence of improvised music for many musicians of my generation.
For all kinds of reasons, Improvised Music in London no longer has the luxury of a seemingly never-ending supply of informal musician-run clubs. So, enjoy this marvellous opportunity to join us in the hot, sweaty, noisy, beery atmosphere of The Klinker Club in August 2000. But perhaps you were actually there at the time….." (Simon H. Fell - January 2018)
80-page book with audio CD. Housed in vacuum and heat sealed poly wallet. Edition of 150
““I brought the happy jug home the day I found out about a grant, which would eventually lead me to write this novel. The grant is a Paul Auster-style narrative device, in that it makes me unanswerable to material demands, and projects my life into a boundedlessness vertigo … the happy jug a concrete marker of my vulnerable but precise re-emergence into the world of matteringlessness: theory.”
At this time, Nina has migraines. She goes for an MRI scan but we hear nothing, her exhaustion apparently just an example of the general pressure of living under austerity. This austerity is due to be relieved when a left-leaning coalition gain control of government. A year later, I smash the jug. The MRI scan is transformed. Nina now has a brain tumour which has been growing for more than fifteen years. The result of the general election is also rewritten.
Presented here as novel and CD audio work, The Happy Jug uses a combination of verbatim text, fiction, granular synthesis and speculative philosophy to interrelate these formally distinct events in a weird causal relationship, reflecting on the palpable emotional and physical suffering connected to austerity politics — in particular the UK 2015 general election and its aftermath.The audio CD, produced by Kepla, features this narrative spoken by the author, Nathan Jones with his wife Nina. The book acts as a libretto for the audio, but deviates from it at times, and adds an experimental text
dimension to the glitchy textures of the sound and voice.
Nathan Jones is a writer and artist. His work often reflects on the relationship between the textual and temporal, the irregular measurethat a text’s progression keeps, and the ruptures of time into eras, contemporanaeties, histories and speculations that writing inaugurates. Nathan is co-editor of mind-language-technology publisher Torque, director of new media and performance agency Mercy, and Lecturer in Fine Art at Lancaster University. He has curated various projects such as The Act of Reading (2015), Syndrome (2014–15), and Electronic Voice Phenomena (2009–13). His solo work includes commissions for Cape Farewell, Abandon Normal Devices, and Liverpool Biennial/
Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art.
Kepla is the musical works of UK-based artist Jon Davies since 2015. His compositions comprise of sculpting salvaged audio from various secondary sources to create psychogeographic and speculative environments, embedding the listener into otherworldly, and all-too-worldly spaces. His practice aims to conceptualise the capitalocene and how people and things are organised, mined and exploited. Over the past three years Kepla has produced a self-released EP; co-created Absent Personae with media theorist DeForrest Brown, Jr. and video artist Chris Boyd and composed the soundtrack for The Happy Jug.”
Something special from DDS - the long awaited album debut of avant-Dancehall mutations from Jamaica’s Equiknoxx, already tipped by everyone from Jon K to Mark Ernestus, featuring productions dating between 2009-2016, mastered and cut by Matt Colton, all on vinyl for the first time ever...
Equiknoxx are one of the weirdest, most innovative dancehall squads from Jamaica right now; Bird Sound Power is their debut collective show of strength, packing 12 avant, crooked riddims by core members Gavsborg and Time Cow, plus Bobby Blackbird and Kofi Knoxx, with vocals by Kemikal, Shanique Marie and J.O.E. (R.I.P).
The set was parsed and pieced together by Jon K & Demdike Stare , and now thanks to link ups via Swing Ting’s Balraj Samrai (a longtime livicated supporter), it’s issued on Demdike’s DDS imprint, replete with Jon K’s sleeve design.
Easily identified by the squawking bird idents peppering their cuts, Equiknoxx productions have been big in the dance since Gavin Blair a.k.a. Gavsborg produced Busy Signal’s billboard hit Step Out in 2005, followed by key instrumentals for Beenie Man, Aidonia, Masicka, and T.O.K.
Bird Sound Power is weighted with the potential to open up perceptions of current dancehall thanks to the mad character and broad reference points of its producers, encompassing King Jammy’s foundational digi-dub and Dave Kelly’s Mad House sound as much as rugged New York hip hop and the wigged-out, feminine pressure of Virginia Beach’s Timbaland or The Neptunes.
The oldest tune inside dates to 2009, but the rest are recent dancehall mutations, including a number of exclusives produced in the last 12 months. Each one reps for Equiknoxx’s unique aspects, such as Jordan Chung a.k.a. Time Cow’s brilliantly bizarre, layered arrangements of sawn-off hooks and digi-tight beats, also a result of their distinguished family vibe.
Bird Sound Power exists in a paradox, utterly fwd but classic, and with as much potential to turn new heads onto current JA sounds as Mowax’s Now Thing set back in 2001, which remains a key touchstone for so many contemporary producers. It’s one of the sharpest, most crucial DDS issues yet, check the clips and get sweaty...
Leyland Kirby's The Caretaker returns with a long-in-the-making soundtrack to acclaimed filmmaker Grant Gee's documentary about German writer WG Sebald.
'Patience (After Sebald)' is a multi-layered film essay on landscape, art, history, life and loss - an exploration of the work and influence of German writer WG Sebald (1944-2001), told via a long walk through coastal East Anglia tracking his most famous book 'The Rings Of Saturn'. Much like The Caretaker's oeuvre, Sebald's works are particularly focused on themes of memory, both personal and collective, making Kirby the ideal candidate for this score.
Grant tasked him with soundtracking responsibilities, but rather than thrift shop shellac, the source material for 'Patience' was sourced from Franz Schubert's 1827 piece 'Winterreise' and subjected to his perplexing processes, smudging and rubbing isolated fragments into a dust-caked haze of plangent keys, strangely resolved loops and de-pitched vocals which recede from view as eerily as they appear. Mastered by Lupo at D&M, the album is adorned with another specially commissioned painting by Ivan Seal.
James Kirby's work as The Caretaker has always dealt with the suggestion of haunted memory and the obscuring of temporal motion, and this - perhaps his most iconic album - made that more explicit than ever, with titles that reference amnesia, Alzheimer's, past life regression and other such memory misfires and short circuits.
Musically, this album might be compared to Philip Jeck's manipulated vinyl tracts, featuring similarly oceanic swells of crackle and dust, with faded pianos or big band sounds wafting wraith-like across the mix. After conjuring the sinister atmospherics of The Shining with his debut album Selected Memories From The Haunted Ballroom, The Caretaker has been chasing this idea of sound leaving its indelible mark on a space and time, so consequently these creepy, semi-dissolved musical passages sound no more tangible than shadows, and the album for the most part comes across as some sort of séance held via wax cylinder.
C L A S S I C.
Compiling the first 3 albums in the 'Everywhere At The End Of Time' series - two and a half hours long, each album reveals new points of progression, loss and disintegration, progressively falling further and further towards the abyss of complete memory loss and nothingness...
Embarking on the Caretaker’s final journey with the familiar vernacular of abraded shellac 78s and their ghostly waltzes to emulate the entropic effect of a mind becoming detached from everyone else’s sense of reality and coming to terms with their own, altered, and ever more elusive sense of ontology.
The series aims to enlighten our understanding of dementia by breaking it down into a series of stages that provide a haunting guide to its progression, deterioration and disintegration and the way that people experience it according to a range of impending factors.
In other words, Everywhere At The End of Time probes some of the most important questions about modern music’s place in a world that’s increasingly haunted or even choked by the tightening noose of feedback loops of influence; perceptibly questioning the value of old memories as opposed to the creation of new ones, and, likewise the fidelity of those musical memories which remain, and whether we can properly recollect them from the mire of our faulty memory banks without the luxury of choice
Glass offers the sublime results of a collaboration between Ryuichi Sakamoto and Carsten Nicolai (Alva Noto), as performed and recorded at Philip Johnson’s Glass House in Connecticut during the private opening to Yayoi Kusama’s installation marking the 110th anniversary of Johnson’s birth.
Making sterling use of the landmark architectural work’s pellucid dimensions, the pair fixed contact mics to its glass walls, which they effectively played as an “instrument”, rubbing it with rubber gong mallets to generate delicate tones which they combined with a sympathetic palette of singing glass bowls, crotales, keyboards and mixers.
The seamless performance of floating, weightless tones and exquisitely quivering timbres is without doubt one of their finest. For the duration we’re held static and spellbound by the pair’s interplay of microtonal shifts and plasmic chronics, keening the listener thru hazes of digital dust and vortices of angelic harmonics to locate, alchemise and resolve a rarified, deeply mysterious spirit before the piece closes.
As the follow-up to their OST for The Revenant  and the warbling keys of Summvs  before that, the achingly lush tension of Glass is perhaps the purest testament to the clarity of vision and endless minimalist mutability of this highly revered duo.
First part in an unmissable survey of hard-to-find Caribbean zingers from Guadeloupe and Martinique released on the important Disques Debs International label...
“Strut present the first ever compilation series to access the archives of one of the greatest of all French Caribbean labels, Disques Debs out of Guadeloupe. Set up by the late Henri Debs during the late ‘50s, the label and studio has continued for over 50 years, releasing over 300 7” singles and 200 LPs, covering styles varying from early biguine and bolero to zouk and reggae. Debs played a pivotal role in bringing the créole music of Guadeloupe and Martinique to a wider international audience.
Volume 1 of this series marks the first decade of the label’s existence and takes in big band orchestras, home-grown stars, touring bands and a new generation that would emerge at the end of the ‘60s. Early releases were recorded in the back of Henri’s shop in Pointe-a- Pitre, from his own sextet playing percussive biguines to young saxophonist Edouard Benoit, leader of Les Maxels and regular arranger for Debs bands. Other artists ranged from big bands like Orchestre Esperanza and Orchestre Caribbean Jazz to poet and radio personality Casimir “Caso” Létang and folkloric gwo ka artist Sydney Leremon. Debs also capitalised on recording foreign touring artists visiting Guadeloupe during the early ‘60s including Haitian trumpeter Raymond Cicault and Trinidadian bandleader Cyril Diaz.
Compiled by Hugo Mendez (Sofrito) and Emile Omar (Radio Nova), ‘Disques Debs International’ is released in conjunction with Henri Debs Et Fils and Air Caraibes. The package features a host of rare and unseen photos from the Debs archive with both formats featuring extensive sleeve notes and interviews with Philippe Debs and Max “Maxo” Severin of Les Vikings. Volumes 2 and 3 follow in 2019.”