Sophomore side by mutant bass/pop/electronica whizz Slugabed - his debut for USA’s Anticon
“There's something nice about a duck, isn't there? Innocent, passive, kind of fuzzy... unable to trigger a global crisis or all-out apocalypse. The redheaded mallard on the cover of Slugabed's second album, Inherit the Earth, can embody whatever you want it to, but there's something in his downcast gaze that feels familiar, like watching the world burn while being powerless to quell the blaze. Or maybe it's just a dumb bird, but this London producer's new strange opus does indeed play, at times, like a dark-humored deadpan dystopia—more observation than statement, a rendering of our modern times in eerie atmosphere, rumbling bass, bright blips, laser jags, melodies that either creep or comfort, and all kinds of unpredictable, hypnotic rhythms.
It's going on four years since a Slugabed album, but the man's been busy—running a label, working with others, and making a two scrapped LPs' worth of cuts similar in vibe to the hyper-pop of 2014's Coolest EP—happier, forest-y, more "plinky-plonky." But none of those would-be followups began with a schoolgirl calling an arms dealer to buy a tank, as Inherit the Earth does. There's something in that moment of pretty innocence approaching the cliff's edge of utter chaos that's reflected not only in this set's title, which has been used by both the Bible and a '90s video game about talking animals who survive human extinction, but also in the first song "Stupid Earth." That dreamy scene, colored by warm sax and chill keys, is constantly warping just so, or being smashed over a hard beat and roasted with synth. Slugabed has long been an ace storyteller, even without words, and this is his most vivid, consistent work yet.”
Peter Broderick returns with Allred & Broderick – a duo project between him and his musical partner David Allred
"Armed with nothing but their voices, a violin and an upright bass, Allred & Broderick began their journey to create an album as minimal as possible. Recorded in Peter’s studio The Sparkle on the Oregon coast, the pair used this solitude to focus on creating something as raw and honest as possible, particularly in what some might deem unattainable during a time where complexity is sought most.
In a world full of noise and the anxieties of every day life, Find The Ways brings us together and reminds us to appreciate and confront the simple and fundamental facts of life, and that we as individuals will eventually find our way.
Words from Peter and David, January 2017:
“I sensed a truly unique character in David’s own music that is wonderfully heartfelt and sincere. With this recording David and I set out to make something raw which is an honest document of what we are capable of doing together at once, with just two acoustic instruments and our voices. The entire album was recorded live, with no overdubs and no edits. Just two guys playing together in a room. I have always dreamed of doing a project in which I only use my violin and my voice and David just plays upright bass and sings. It truly is a fifty-fifty collaboration.” – Peter Broderick
“It is such a pleasure to work with Peter. I feel that we're on the same page in more ways than one, both musically and non-musically. The making of this album was an incredibly fun challenge; writing music to be performed and recorded live with only violin, upright bass, and voices. It still amazes me that we managed to make a whole record with only those three elements. Over the years, I have felt a very strong connection to Peter's music and friendship, and I feel that this collaboration comes from a really good place. I hope this music gives the listeners a feeling of comfort, confusion and understanding.” – David Allred
Mean and muscular fusion of free jazz honk, psych rock and bluesy swagger from the Norwegian trio of Axel Skalstad, Jørgen Mathisen and Tom Hasslan aka Krokofant. File somewhere in the gulf between Mahavishnu Orchestra and Peter Brötzmann
“Krokofant typify a new and invigorating movement currently sweeping across the Nordic region: hard boiled improvisation and strong instrumental personalities bolted onto rock beats and driving rhythms. Equally powerful on record and on stage, Krokofant pull no punches, sounding off like some unholy three-way marriage of early 70s jazz rock (Mahavishnu Orchestra, Terje Rypdal), the sprawling progressive odysseys of King Crimson and Van Der Graaf Generator, and the fierce heat of John Zorn or Peter Brötzmann’s harsh free jazz ensembles.
If their 2014 debut album was a fresh breath of youthful energy, the follow-up showed a trio more confident of their abilities after extended live work. Their third album in just three years follows in this tradition, with Mathisen’s fat syntheziser tones adding a new colour to the soundscape. They still ally a strong discipline with wide, exploratory arcs, Tom’s agile guitar and Jørgen’s snaking sax fighting to break out, just held in check by Axel’s tough, rhythmic tumble. Only 23 years old, the young drummer is something of a sensation, combining pure energy with superior technical skills.
This is a trio where you can hear the individuals pushing each other to new heights while keeping the solid group foundation intact.”
Important electronic music pioneer Bülent Arel is subject of this crucial Sub Rosa retrospective, digging up some of his earliest works to present formative context for some of contemporary music’s most advanced operators. A must check for anyone who’s been snagged on the unique abstraction of early electronic music
"Bülent Arel's (1919-1990) work occupies a special place in the history of electronic music, with one thing being certain: Arel's work is still fresh, groundbreaking, and it always look outs for the next adventure in sound. Sub Rosa present a collection of his works here as part of their Early Electronic series. Bülent Arel was a Turkish-born American composer of electronic and contemporary classical music. He was also a devoted teacher, a sculptor, and a painter. From 1940 to 1947, Arel studied composition, piano, and 20th century classical music at the Ankara Conservatory. In 1959, Arel came to the US on a grant by the Rockefeller Foundation to work at the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center.
By that time the center had just started out under its director Vladimir Ussachevsky. During Arel's work in Princeton he also met Edgard Varèse, with whom in 1962 he worked on the electronic sections of Varèse's Déserts. Frank Zappa lists Arel as a key influence. Today's electronic music - whether it is Autechre's Confield (2001), Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Vol. II (1999), or Squarepusher's Do You Know Squarepusher (2001) - builds upon a solid foundation which Bülent Arel helped to pave."
Louche retro-vintage Balearic wings from Farbror Resande Mac, following the course of previous 12”s with Aficionado, Is It Balearic? Recordings, and Back To The Balearics with a balearic balearic of balearics for the balearic types at Horisontal Mambo.
XL Recordings release Nines’ eagerly awaited debut album ‘One Foot Out’. It follows his ‘One Foot In’ mixtape, titles informed by the desire to move away from street activity and towards the industry recognition he deserves.
"For those not familiar with with the most authentic name in London’s exploding underground scene, Nines hails from the Church Road Estate in North West London. Without the approval of the industry, Nines’ previous four music videos have amassed over 31.2 million views on YouTube. He has self-released four mixtapes since 2011 and his debut single ‘Yay’ sold over 30,000 copies - staggering figures that fully justify the hysteria surrounding Nines’ rap pedigree and which reinforce that this is no false dawn but a golden age for UK rap music.
In addition to the mixtapes and singles, Nines is also infamous for his ‘JD Sports Shutdown’ and ‘Turkey Shutdown’ videos (the former featured on Worldstarhiphop.com), which saw the rapper taking kids from his neighbourhood to JD Sports to buy them new trainers, as well as providing Christmas turkeys to those less fortunate to the whole of his Church Road Estate.
With production from the likes of Jevon (New Gen) and Menace (Desiigner’s ‘Panda’) and featuring guest appearances from Taylor Gang’s Berner, previous collaborator Tiggs Da Author, J Hus and Akala, ‘One Foot Out’ sees Nines stepping out of his comfort zone and displaying the depth of UK rap. His charismatic, laid back flow covers braggadocio on ‘High Roller’ (“Came through in the Audi you’re in that Honda Accord / All this gold got me looking like a Oscar Award”), soul searching on ‘I Wonder’ (“Wonder how all these guns get in to my area / wonder why they care about celebs instead of Syria”) and is filled with pop culture references (“acting like he’s shotting all that coke / looking invisible in the club like he’s got on Harry Potter’s cloak”), ‘One Foot Out’ is a statement of intent that should promote Nines into rap’s premiere league."
R. Stevie Moore and Jason Falkner are both brilliant solo artists but, as Make It Be loudly announces, their voices, performances, and arrangements make for a match made in heaven that's been realised here on earth.
"What happens when R. Stevie Moore and Jason Falkner get together to record, arrange, and mix R. Stevie's songs? We get to hear an audacious realization of the tracks full potential in an epic collaboration no one saw coming.
Moore and Falkner burst through your door with "I H8 Ppl" and take you on a journey through rock, pop, and experimental textures. Anchors such as "Play My Self Some Music" and "Sincero Amore," keep the effort focused, while guitar-only interludes and spoken word pieces push boundaries.
Before they met up, both artists had long and storied careers, but their paths to cult status take completely opposite routes. Moore is widely considered to be the godfather of the DIY recording aesthetic. Dubbed a “lo-fi legend” by the New York Times, he started his career in the late 60’s, gaining widespread underground recognition during the 70’s punk explosion. Anticipating the viral internet era, Moore made innumerable cheap but brilliant videos. Luckily, many of them eventually found their way to YouTube where a whole new generation of fans discovered his work including the likes of MGMT, Mac DeMarco, The Vaccines and collaborator Ariel Pink.
Falkner was involved in various major label deals as a group member and solo artist. He started with Paisley Underground pioneers The Three O Clock, joined supergroups Jellyfish with Andy Sturmer and Roger Manning, and the Grays with Jon Brion, finally scoring a solo deal with Elektra. He’s gone on to release numerous solo records and has worked with a wide range of artists, including Beck, Air, Brendan Benson and Paul McCartney.
Recorded by Jason Falkner at his Rhetoric Studio in Hollywood with the majority of songs composed by Moore, with one by Falkner, one co-written by the pair, one co-written by Roger Ferguson. There's a wonderful rendition of Huey Smith & The Clowns "Don't You Just Know It."
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 arguably marks up the most striking riddim album you’ll hear in 2016, weighted with the potential to open up perceptions of current dancehall thanks to the mad character and broad reference points of its producers, encompassing King Jammy’s foundational digi-dub and Dave Kelly’s Mad House sound as much as rugged New York hip hop and the wigged-out, feminine pressure of Virginia Beach’s Timbaland or The Neptunes.
The oldest tune inside dates to 2009, but the rest are recent dancehall mutations, including a number of exclusives produced in the last 12 months. Each one reps for Equiknoxx’s unique aspects, such as Jordan Chung a.k.a. Time Cow’s brilliantly bizarre, layered arrangements of sawn-off hooks and digi-tight beats, also a result of their distinguished family vibe.
Bird Sound Power exists in a paradox, utterly fwd but classic, and with as much potential to turn new heads onto current JA sounds as Mowax’s Now Thing set back in 2001, which remains a key touchstone for so many contemporary producers. It’s one of the sharpest, most crucial DDS issues yet, check the clips and get sweaty...
Epic archival document from Raster Noton; the beginning of a comprehensive and authorized review of the past 20 years of the label. Comes with an exclusive CD featuring material from Kangding Ray, Emptyset, Alva Noto, Frank Bretschneider, Senking, Byetone, Atom Heart, Robert Lippok and more.
"A short introductory preface by Olaf Bender is followed by a keynote interview conducted by berlin publicist Max Dax that provides an insight into the identity and philosophy of the label heads. The main part of the book comprises the extensive catalog of all the releases published by the label between 1996 and 2016, while tabular listings of various formats and products that were distributed or curated by raster-noton complete the catalog.
A further exclusive part of the publication is the accompanying CD, which is only available when purchased with the book. Raster Noton‘s »archiv« series was first introduced in december 2003 as a supplement to »the wire« magazine and has since been continued in loose sequence with different artists related to the label. Following the idea of the label which defines itself as a platform for its artists, the releases in the catalog part are not presented according to their format, invested effort or meaning, but sorted according to their catalog number and presented on exactly one double page, whereas some series were summarized.
As a continuation of this archival revision, further books are planned that will document artist profiles, installations, composition techniques and sources of inspiration."
Daniel Brandt, co-founder of Germany’s electroacoustic ensemble Brandt Brauer Frick, joins Erased Tapes with his solo debut album.
"What started off as a more simplistic idea soon evolved into something a lot more complex as the London and Berlin based music producer travelled across the world, experimenting with various other artists and different instruments. From his father’s cabin based in the German countryside with access to nothing but cymbals, to being surrounded by guitars in Joshua Tree, his unexpected journey soon progressed into what became his first solo album.
Daniel played nearly all instruments himself with the only exception being fellow musicians Florian Juncker on trombone, Manu Delago on hang drum and Andreas Voss on cello. Using his Berlin studio as his main base for recording, Brandt created an album that encapsulates the idea that despite setting out with a particular creative vision, external influences and environments will always shift the process, and create an Eternal Something."
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.
Charmingly fluffy and melodic tech-house bubblers from the artist also known as Baths.
“Ask Will Wiesenfeld to contrast his project Baths with the music made under his Geotic alias and you’ll get a simple response: Baths is active listening, Geotic is passive listening. But behind this straightforward duality exists two projects that are equally poignant yet starkly distinct, reflective of the emotional complexities of its creator.
Don’t mistake “passive listening” for anything remotely resembling apathy. Released on Ghostly International, Geotic’s Abysma might be dance music created for at-home listening, but it’s replete with a quiet beauty and private communion that can rival anything made to command the totality of your attention span. In a world riven by noise and distraction, Abysma is as subtle as Sunday morning ritual, a tender epiphany in a bombastic fireworks show.
As with almost everything American, our dance music gravitates towards extremes. There’s big-room spectacle and strobelites, epileptic lights and steroidal drops, or stripped down techno and house cool. Big Macs or organic grass-fed Wagyu on brioche. What’s rare are albums like Abysma—ones that offer propulsive beats and immersive grooves, refined piano and string compositions occasionally buoyed by Wiesenfeld’s seraphic croon.
Abysma’s unspoken goal is to offer a finishing touch of décor to the apartment—eight celestial burners to rest alongside the Japanese flourishes, comic art, and framed prints. A song like “Laura Corporeal” strikes an atmospheric tone, sad and distant but still danceable. The finale, “Valiance” takes an opposite tack, ending the album on a more positive uplifting note.
It’s a very colorful but simultaneously muted album—a reflection of the music that emerged from the apartment, a rich space in physical and sonic expression.”
Hauntingly restrained vocals and gently sweeping cello arrangements from Rebecca Foon a.k.a Saltland, with Warren Ellis guesting on four instrumental parts.
“A Common Truth is the second album by Saltland, the solo project of veteran Montréal cellist and composer Rebecca Foon. Following the acclaimed 2013 debut I Thought It Was Us But It Was All Of Us Foon performed Saltland live in various successful configurations, but as the concept and compositions for a new album began to materialize, she wished to further expand on an approach with her cello as primary source for all sounds on the record. Combining unadulterated, processed and sampled cellos, A Common Truth largely reflects this commitment and results in an album of gorgeous integrity, restraint, and meditative intensity. The one notable exception: longtime friend and prior collaborator Warren Ellis (Nick Cave, Dirty Three) is the album's special guest player, contributing violin, pump organ and loops to the album's four instrumental tracks.
Working with engineer Jace Lasek (The Besnard Lakes), Foon has produced a song cycle that alternates between wordless instrumentals and lyric-driven pieces, balancing austere, organic intimacy and lush, multi-layered expansiveness. The analog warmth of Lasek’s naturalistic rock production anchors Saltland’s juxtaposition of dry and processed strings, with the placement of Foon's voice very much within the mix but never veiled or concealed; a voice described as "an instrument of somnolent, gossamer allure which floats gracefully amid the eddying, amniotic music" (Mojo, 2013). Electronic music strategies, via signal processing and re-sampling, are deployed minimally and judiciously – and all the more powerfully as such.
A Common Truth also importantly channels other strands from Rebecca's life: the record is about climate change and marks an attempt to musically translate a complex mix of emotional, social and political resonances in this regard. The album's atmosphere and pace is guided by the coexistence of optimism and despair, resolve and resignation, the intimacy of the local/personal and the hope of the global/collective. Foon has devoted much of her life in recent years to working for decarbonization, land conservation and renewable energy – as a member of Sustainability Solutions Group cooperative, as founder of the conservation charity Junglekeepers, and as co-founder of Pathway To Paris, an international concert series bringing together musicians, writers and activists to help raise consciousness toward implementation of a robust international climate agreement.
Rebecca Foon's new Saltland album A Common Truth is a compelling coalescence and fullest musical expression of the inspiring trajectories charted by this committed and renowned artist, activist and organizer. Thanks for listening.“
Temporary Residence Limited and City Slang hook up to release Volker Bertelmann's eighth full-length outing as Hauschka (includes two bonus tracks).
Never afraid of dabbling in concepts, Volker Bertelmann’s latest Hauschka album finds the German in inspired form exploring life on earth some thirty years into the future which extends to the hypothetical nature of each track title.
Seemingly not content with his reputation for inventive techniques with prepared piano, Bertelmann expands his instrumental remit on ‘What If’ through toying around with the pianola, a Roland Jupiter 4 synth and an Eventide H3000 Harmonizer.
This results in an even richer, more unpredictable Hauschka experience across the nine tracks with the titles seemingly conducting the mood of Bertelmann’s compositions. The apparent nervous, fidgeting energy of I Can’t Find Water, the solemn piano romanticism of I Can’t Express My Deep Love, and the playful instrumental harmonics of We Live a Thousand Years
Barnt, Jens Uwe-Beyer, The Field and the rest of the Köln über-group gather for a second album of freewheeling kosmische.
Seven years after Cologne Tape’s ‘Render‘ mini LP launched the Magazine label, the nine-strong crew have reconvened at the city’s Dumbo Studios for a second collection. Again reflecting that uniquely-Kölnish strain of musical creativity, ‘Welt‘ draws plentifully from both the krautrock well and the more recent minimal source championed by Kompakt et al. Repurposing Dumbo Studios to near-earth orbit on Welt 1, the Cologne Tape troopers commence in spangled, post rock territory before veering off into the gauzy, windblown ambient beat explorations of Welt 2 and the slack-jawed Krautechno bliss burn of Welt 3 (Magazine Edit).
The spectral Welt 4 marks the point where Cologne Tape really let loose, PNN affiliate Isis Lace making her presence felt through some ritualistic chants over a lolloping, improvised kraut composition. Welt 5 unfurls into some sort of spiritual Cologne-based brethren to the rainforest techno of SUED, the mood seeping into the superb Gas gone minimal kosmische immersion that is Welt 6. A brief vignette of experimentation led by grand piano on Welt 7 follows before the assembled mass combine for a space rock finale on Welt 8, whose chunky live drums sort of spoil the mood cultivated from the album’s midway point.
Pivotal NYC noise figurehead Margaret Chardiet marks the 10th anniversary of Pharmakon with a mentalist projection seeking to highlight humankind’s perpetual struggle to transcend mind and body. Working at a sharp conceptual adjunct from her 2nd LP, Bestial Body , Chardiet’s tertiary album is concerned with distilling the “energy/empathy exchange” of her infamous live performances into a structure which conveys a trance state - the point at which the spirit leaves the body and reviews itself.
In that sense, Contact can be viewed as a method of getting beyond anthropocentric, solipsistic thought processes “How starkly human, so desperate for the sense of vantage over all version of its own reflection!”, by methodically and metaphorically mirroring the four stages of trance - preparation, onset, climax, and resolution - thru the album’s arrangement and intention.
Of course, the album every listener’s reception will differ but, for us at least, she’s nailed that heightened state of physical and mental awareness that really only comes with sincerely delivered and uncompromising noise music, doing so with a sense of poise and lush wretchedness that’s captivating if nothing else, holding our mental gaze like a hypnotist between the time-flattening squall and shrieks of Nakedness of Need and thru to free falling contours of Sentience to the cadaverous hulk of Sleepwalking Form and the violent resolution of No Natural Order.
Universal Sound presents this reissue of an extremely rare and in-demand spiritual jazz album by flautist/composer Lloyd McNeil.
Also a multidisciplinary painter, poet and photographer, Lloyd was born in Washington, D.C., in 1935 and thus grew up through the Civil Rights Movement of 1960s America. He studied at the Morehouse College in Atlanta, where Martin Luther King had previously been educated, and would later become one of the first black professors in the the American University system, teaching music anthropology among other subjects.
Since the 1950s he'd been playing and studying Latin music, besides his native Jazz, and from the mid-1960s he travelled widely, befriending Picasso during his Paris period and later Brazilian musicians Dom Salvador, Paulinho Da Viola and Paulo Moura during stays in Brazil and West Africa. All of this experience can be heard in this, his 1970 opus, composed for Washington, D.C.'s Capital Ballet company, a suite of elegant, refined and quietly effervescent Jazz music with rich traces of Brazilian and American jazz forms.
The 15th studio album from musical pioneers Wire. It arrives on the 40th anniversary of their debut performance.
"Colin Newman and Matt Simms’ guitar work is alternately jagged and luminous, while bassist Graham Lewis’s ear-catching lyrics are vivid yet oblique. Meanwhile, drummer Robert Grey provides a virtual masterclass in percussive minimalism. But it’s how the various instruments mesh together that really counts. And Newman’s production creates a sonic space in which even the smallest gesture is accorded some recognition.
Highlights include the optimistic dazzle of ‘Diamonds In Cups’, with its almost T. Rex-style buzz and chug, and the moody swing of ‘This Time’. Elsewhere on the musical spectrum, there’s the menacing widescreen grandeur of ‘Playing Harp for the Fishes’ and breakneck-paced guitar pop of ‘Short Elevated Period’.
Wire are one of the world’s most ground-breaking bands, their influence acknowledged by bands as diverse as Blur, Sonic Youth, R.E.M. and Savages. But they have never been interested in exploiting past glories. For Wire, there is only ever one possible direction: forwards. So it’s perhaps not surprising that over recent years, they’ve played strings of sold-out shows, achieved career-best record sales, and been cited as a strong influence by yet another generation of bands. Wire’s last three albums garnered nothing but rave reviews.
From 2013’s strangely beautiful Change Becomes Us (“It’s fantastic.” – Pitchfork) to the crackling motorik of 2015’s Wire (“It’s all really well turned, potent and crisp.” – The Guardian), and last year’s punchy mini-album Nocturnal Koreans (“It's a cracker and sounds defiantly modern.” – The Quietus).
Consequently, although it may be being released on the band’s 40th anniversary, Silver/Lead is an album which has nothing to do with the past and everything to do with the future.”
Billow Observatory – the trans-atlantic duo consisting of Detroit's Jason Kolb (Auburn Lull) and Danish producer Jonas Munk (Manual) – are back with a follow-up to the their debut album from 2012.
”II: Plains/Patterns” departs from the first LP’s amorphous ambient haze with a more rigid, albeit subtle, underpinning of rhythm and pulse. The duo’s obsession with “place and space” comes clearly into focus with an album that draws deeply from Munk and Kolb’s individual proximity to the geographically distant, but oddly similar, sounds of Germany and Michigan, past and present.
Traces of shoegaze, modern minimal electronica, and kosmische appear on every track, but are mutated into something mysterious and new. ”Pulsus”, for example, opens the album with a driving teutonic stutter and washes of serene guitar loops that are punctuated by bursts of filtered synth patterns; a combination that seamlessly bridges the gaps between disparate genres and periods of time. Centerpiece, ”Plains”, expands the ambient formula into a inspired epic in three parts, where swells of processed guitars, distant voices and faint echoes of Detroit techno are weaved together to form a kaleidoscopic whole.
Tracks such as ”Vex” and ”Plum” seem to pay as much homage to Slowdive and Eno's Harold Budd collaborations as to the modern minimalism from Cologne or Berlin. For ambient aficionados, "II: Plains/Patterns" is a gorgeous sounding full-length not to be missed. Out March 31 on milky transparent vinyl (limited to 300 copies!), CD and Download on Azure Vista Records."
Recommended if you like: Brian Eno, Cluster, Slowdive, Pole, Stars Of The Lid, Kompakt Records
The Salford collective return with an album length rebuke at the ever-growing shit-stain that is the current political regime.
With many modern day musicians content on stockpiling social media kudos or chasing sync money, leave it to Tesla Tapes antagonists Gnod to offer up a dissenting voice against the post-Brexit, alternative truth-heavy, fascist malaise 2017 is currently descending into. Never a band whose sound you should second guess, the clear anger and intentions of this album’s title is more than matched by the politicised fury and antagonism unleashed within.
“It seems like we are heading towards even more unsettling times in the near future than we are in at present.” reckons Gnodder Chris Haslam. “2016 was just the beginning of what I see as the establishment’s systematic destruction of liberalism and equality as a reaction to the general public’s loss of faith in their system.”
With this renewed creative focus driving the band, ‘Just Say No To The Psycho Right-Wing Capitalist Fascist Industrial Death Machine’ embellishes their hard-edged rock repetition and heavily-dubbed out underbelly with a darkly-satisfying new hue.
Julia Holter opens Domino’s new Documents series of live recordings with a suite of new recordings of songs spanning her debut, Tragedy (2011) thru to Loud City Song (2013) and Have You In My Wilderness (2015), all taking the inspiration from classic BBC sessions and made over the course of two days at world class studio in London.
As anyone who has seen Julia play with her band - Corey Fogel (drums), Devin Hoff (double bass) and Dina Maccabee (violin) - will attest, her songs are really suited to intimate live performance, and it’s fair to say that this LP beautifully captures that aspect of her practice.
It reminds us of the time she played Manchester at the Anthony Burgess Foundation circa 2012; with the captivating singer eventually front and centre, making the seated crowd await her arrival in tense near-silence for a good 20 minutes; the kind of show where the crowd hold their breath ’til the end of each song and then melt afterwards.
We imagine you’ll do the same with this LP, but in the comfort of your own home.
In the shimmering wake of The Boats’ boxset, Andrew Hargreaves tends to his Tape Loop Orchestra alias with the poignant, revenant symphony Held To The Light, which forms the latest in this excellent, limited-run series.
Originally conceived for a performance in Chicago and later re-arranged as this extended studio version, Held Against The Light peals with a rare soreness that speaks to severed connections.
What starts with an almost liturgical layering of voices and strings gradually decomposes into a lonely vapour trail, growing in intensity and distortion before once again reaching a meditative space, this time punctuated by plucked bass notes. We’re transported from some of TLO’s most radiant, voluminous energies to a saturation point where it all begins to decay.
We can only assume that this is a figurative manifestation of what TLO means in the accompanying text, “once the lines to the etheric have been crossed, call on the flow of knowledge contained in the infinite light, which reaches every plane of existence" as the piece’s harmonic structure begins to fall in on itself and resolve from internalised feelings to exigent sorrow and finally an upward sweep into higher frequencies of understanding and empathy, as opposed to literally higher sonic registers.
Those in search of beautiful modern classical/drone works that steer clear of heavy-handed emotional signposts should investigate without delay, especially if you’re into works by William Basinski, Stars of The Lid, Deathprod, GAS etc.
UK techno boss Sigha packages powerful 2nd album for Token some five years and a dozen releases since Living With Ghosts appeared on Hotflush.
Classically skooled yet contoured and rendered with up-to-the-minute production values, Metabolism lands at the lonely forefront of techno proper, skulking between dystopian, melancholic and ecstatic moods in eleven variations, some of them playing to convention, some of them pushing that prime.
It’s at its best when dealing with physical matter, as in the melted girder torque of Down at the front, or with the tornado simulation buried into the clubbing kicks of Interior, whilst the album’s most lucent highlight, Black Massing finds the right balance of rolling pressure and thizzing high-register atmospheres.
The Kid gives his wrist a rest to unfurl a suite of cinematic strings underlined by heavy bass and voiced by the elven-voiced Icelandic signer, Emiliana Torrini.
“Kid Koala’s Music To Draw To: Satellite is an uncharted musical journey: an expansive work of ambient electronic soundscapes and chilling ballads in collaboration with Icelandic artist Emilíana Torrini. This inaugural volume in the Music To Draw To series is Kid Koala's first non-sample-based record, instead using an array of synthesizers, keys, guitars, strings, turntables, and inventive recording techniques to portray this heartrending musical story about a couple separated by a mission to Mars.
The output is over 72 atmospheric minutes of stardust settling like fresh snow over Kid Koala’s trove of turntables and sentiment.”
Famed Labradfordians Mark Nelson and Robert Donne exhibit an even stronger desire for freeform synthetic experimentation on this second Anjou album for Kranky.
Picking up belatedly where their celebrated eponymous debut LP left off, Mark Nelson and Robert Donne’s Anjou project sounds as sublimated and spacious as ever on Epithymía. No longer in need of Kranky percussionist Steve Hess, Donne and Nelson distil the Anjou approach of framing their synthesis into a state of constant fluctuation down to a suite of six tracks. Largely favouring the long-form approach, this allows Donne and Nelson the freedom to truly express their creative intentions with Anjou
14-minute opener Culicinae is a fine example of this. Framed of five distinct movements, the track shifts between them with a subtle mastery that reveals itself with close attention. There are still whispers of Donne and Nelson’s post-rock inclinations from their Labradford days, evident in the percussive rainstorm that briefly filters through Culicinae, the abstracted bass that cuts through the gauzy, shapeless ambience of Greater Grand Crossing and the smartly deployed guitar drones towards the solemn closing moments of An Empty Bank.
The duo does find a semblance of rhythm on the swelling Soucouyant, choosing to toy with just a few refrains rather than let their fingers wander, whilst Glamr and Georgia combine for an eerie, intangible finale.
Reinhold Friedl’s redoubtable Zeitkratzer Ensemble tackle Kraftwerk’s earliest, eponymous pair of LPs in the latest demonstration of their ability to revitalise and present new perspectives on important historical and contemporary compositions - mostly avant-garde; often originally electronic - in the context of a live, acoustic performance.
With takes on Stockhausen, Keiji Haino, Whitehouse and Lou Red under their belt in recent years, Zeitkratzer now turn to that strange early phase of Kraftwerk, shortly after they were called Organisation, when Ralf and Florian were exploring a fluid, early iteration of Krautrock that’s inarguably miles shy of the hook-laden pop discipline found in their later output. So yeah; basically there’s no vocoders or drum machines in earshot on this one. And we’d wager that anyone checking Zeitkratzer releases is probably geeky enough to know of the 1st two Kraftwerk albums, so it shouldn’t come as such a surprise.
Anyway, the band tuck into Rucksack with some relish at the top, traversing from proggy flute (thank fuck they dropped that) and motorik stomp to an aggressive breakdown that really flashes their teeth in a powerful take on Kraftwerk’s opener, Ruckzuck, and then an alternately frightening and lush take on that album’s Megaherz at the other end of the disc.
All the other material comes from Kraftwerk 2. That includes a great opportunity for the group to test their limits in the 17 minute+ Klingklang, which arches up from spatial clangour to a swaying pastoral lounge groove and proggy folk-rock stomp, but they’re most affective when connecting with the more mannered, chamber inspirations of Strom, and a near facsimile recreations of the extended breathing techniques deployed in Atem, which is surely a key to Kraftwerk’s kinkier side and cycling obsessions which would emerge later in their catalogue.
First new Letitia Sadier album since Something Shines . Crammed with glittering Gallic pop suss
“Another New Year, and new shapes are forming — if only we are fortunate enough to notice them! As we spin through this world, we are witness to all manner of combinations unfolding before us — familiar arcs and breaking waves alike, upon all of which it is our choice, our chance and our challenge, to possibly ride. Find Me Finding You, the new album from the new organization called the Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble, manages to strike new chords while touching familiar keys in the song of life.
From its percolating opening beat, Find Me Finding You locates new systems within the sound-universe of Laetitia Sadier. This in itself isn’t a surprise — Laetitia has relentlessly followed her music through different dynamics and into a variety of dimensions over the course of four solo albums since 2010 (not to forget her three albums with Monade and the long era of Stereolab)—but the nature of the construction here stands distinctly apart from her recent albums. Laetitia was inspired by a mind’s-eye envisaging of geometric forms and their possible permutations. As she sought to replicate the shapes in music, this guided the process of assembly for the album.
Part of the freshness of Find Me Finding You comes from working and playing within the Source Ensemble and exploring new sound combinations via a set of youthful and evolving musical relationships. Laetitia recognized the energy of the tracks in their initial form, and sought to preserve their vitality by not retaking too many performances — instead, the rawness in the tracks was retained and refined at the mixing stage, maintaining an edge throughout. When we hear synth lines diving, lifting and drifting, unusual guitar textures, the plucked sound of flat wound bass strings or the bottomless pulsing of bass pedals stepping out of the mix with an exquisite vibrancy, this is the sound of the Source Ensemble.
Expressing great compassion and expectation with startling immediacy, as well as an abiding belief in an underlying unity that permeates and intimately binds all things and beings, Find Me Finding You combines a rigorous process for music-making with a deeply invested mindset, making captivating music that promises many stimulating spins to come!”
Grade A headfloss from Phil Julian; processing, reworking and reducing multichannel pieces by Sandra Kazlauskaite and Tom Mudd into a stereoscopic string of dense and intensely dynamic noise salvos revealing the subtle infidelities of shifting patterns as grippingly violent and unstable structures, almost organic in their natural complexity and chaotic force.
All you really need to know about this one is that it rips like a f**ken goodun. The title cut is a blinding piece of hyper avian squabble that turns into a fight between two electricity pylons, whilst Coherence 1 seems to emulate the experience of evacuating your brain between your legs and the asphyxiating field recording of ventilation system in Aperture perhaps most clearly presents the album’s idea of repeating mechanical patterns as being prone to fluctuations in voltage. There’s also the totally luscious dissonance of Field, some very Hecker-esque invasive tones in Coherence II and ten minutes of escalating psychotomimetic madness in Tropic to contend with.
Fiercely bass-heavy club pressure volleyed in from USA’s Distal for the good of your glutes.
On Psychologic he’s got that grasp of layered, booming bottom end that Black-rooted American music does better than most firmly on lockdown. It’s there and present under the sparking chops and hazy chords of Psychomagic in an Adobe Home on a warped B-more bounce, whereas Icy 92 goes innnnn on a cowbell-struck Chicago booty slap, and Bullets Through Water deploys it at a frenetic footwork pace.
However the last two are also notable for a finer balance of high end registers, squirting an acidic, chromatic rainbow of pads over the crudely rugged bass jabs of Red Pill Jam, and Above Nimbus polishes off properly with a hybrid, hardcore rave mutation splicing classic vocal stabs with radioactive midrange flares and razor trap beat.
Sun Araw totes one of his most surreal, daftest fancies with The Saddle Of The Increate, despatching the band’s first new recorded material on Sun Ark Records since the psychedelic excursion, Belomancie .
With only a few trips made on Sean McCann’s Music For Public Ensemble and alongside Laraaji on Professional Sunflower and the S. Araw “Trio” XIII to quench our thirst in the meantime, this loosely strung and sprawling set renders Cameron Stallones and the gang at their most ir/reverent and dare we say, North American; delivering a subtly funny and playful suite that’s more Billy Crystal on magic beans than Alejandro Jodorowsky on mescaline, as far as desert trips go.
Incorporating a phalanx of drummers including Butchy Fuego, Jon Leland and Caitlin Mitchell, plus Dave McPeters on pedal steel, Sun Araw come off like a gang of cattle-ranchers who lost their herd a long time ago and subsequently decided to follow old dirt tracks deep into the desert, navigating their way by the stars and with only a batch of turnt haricots for sustenance. What ensues is a progressively light-headed and sorta-mystic journey of discovery following an unstitched narrative which leads them right up to a sincere yet lysergic cover of Bob Dylan’s I Shall Be Released - as previously worn by Jef Buckley, Joan Baez, The Deftones, Nina Simone.
As you might expect from a trip to the desert with Sun Araw, you’ll lose your own herd quite quickly, and mirages, fata morganas and the like become commonplace; with expectations perpetually teased and thwarted from the fusion of heat-warped synth strokes and pitch-bent steel licks in A Golden Boot thru the quicksilver clip-clop of A Chute, and the tropical, latinate influences that creep over the border into Orthrus, which also features McPeters’ pedal steel at its most plangent; with Campfires framing a charmingly ludicrous scene of quiet, acousmatic rustle pierced by parping modular spurts, and even allowing for a spot of sun-dazed native folk dance in the jerky boned jig and processed croon of 40 Hooves, serving Sun Araw at his most alien and yet uncannily familiar.
This is exactly what psychedelia should be for us; weird, silly, cryptic, inexplicable - not earnestly unimaginative and derivative. It would take a fool to accuse Sun Araw of the latter, and this album should hopefully be a smoke signal to all those pedestrian churners who call their music “psychedelic”.
Almost a year in the making, with tracks having been mislaid or buried underneath piles of original demos, then reconstructed and remastered, this compilation aims to highlight the core elements of French Synth-Pop from it's earliest incarnation to newer acts influenced by the earlier protagonists distinctive sounds and imagery.
"Many of the tracks are completely unreleased or are early demos. For the aficionado we hope this fulfils a rediscovery of old classics or to the late-comer a decent collection of tracks that serve as an introduction to the uniqueness of French Synth music and the burgeoning new scene.
Conceived and curated by Jason B Bernard. The album comes in a luxurious digipak and is limited to 500 copies. Artwork by Oleg Galay and remastered by Martin Bowes @ The Cage"
Divided: Mind stretches out Ena’s sound with 13 introspective slices of developed ambience.
"Fresh from collaborating with Rashad Becker for the Atonal Tokyo edition, Divided: Mind contains the kind of innovation that allows Ena to adapt perfectly to this electronic improvisation environment."
For their first multi-artist compilation, Music From Memory take us on a trip to the heart of the Amazon rainforest. Outro Tempo: Electronic and Contemporary Music From Brazil, 1978-1992 is a double LP that explores the outer reaches of Brazilian music, where indigenous rhythms mix with synthesizers and where MPB mingles with drum computers.
"As Brazil faced the last years of its military dictatorship and transition to democracy, a generation of forward-thinking musicians developed an alternative vision of Brazilian music and culture. They embraced traditionally shunned electronic production methods and infused their music with elements of ambient, jazz-fusion, and minimalism. At the same time they referenced the musical forms and spirituality of indigenous tribes from the Amazon. The music they produced was a complex and mesmerising tapestry that vividly evoked Brazilian landscapes and simultaneously reached out to the world beyond its borders.
.The product of extensive research, this compilation is a unique introduction to this visionary music and features many fresh discoveries in a country well trodden by record diggers. It gathers tracks from obscure albums that have for too long been neglected by even the most avid collectors of Brazilian music. It includes now highly sought after music by Andréa Daltro, Maria Rita, and Fernando Falcão, as well as unknown gems like those of Cinema, Carlinhos Santos, and Anno Luz. This is an essential release that reveals a broader spectrum of Brazilian music, striking a unique sonic signature that is full of innovation, experimentation, and beauty.
Compiled by John Gómez and featuring extensive liner notes, Outro Tempo showcases this overlooked corner in Brazil’s rich music history for the first time."
Two of the heaviest c*nts on the planet pit their wits on Concrete Desert, with Kevin Martin a.k.a. The Bug framing Dylan Carlson ov Earth’s deathly axe chops in a deeply strung out and apocalypse baiting clash of the titans.
Coming from distinctly idiosyncratic backgrounds - one steeped in generations of doom metal, grunge and bleakest country music; the other saturated with Jamaican dub, shoegaze noise and the ‘ardcore continuum - they evidently find common ground in terms of sheer heaviness on Concrete Desert, with Carlson’s glacial but sprawling gestures harnessed and sublimated in 13 super wide and crushing riddims from Martin’s triple-locked top drawer.
Making good on the promise of their Boa/Cold  hook-up, which was effectively an addendum to The Bug’s Angels & Devils LP, this fully fledged collaboration locates their sound between the eyes, overhead, all around you in plangent sheets of harmonised soreness and jellying waves of subbass pressure at a lugubrious pace that’s faithful to both artist’s individual sound.
The standout moments ring clear and true in the likes of Dog, which comes on like a rabid, overweight Raime who just swallowed Rapeman, or in the almighty, sky-collapsing keen of American Dream and the knackered halfstep slugger Hell A, but you can simply take it on trust that the whole thing is as heavy as your life.
The veteran mutant noise unit mint their new Lower Floor label with the 100th Wolf Eyes album.
Hurtling ever closer to their 20th anniversary as a band, albeit in various iterations, ‘The U$A’s longest-running homemade primitive electronic poetry & vibes trio,’ offer a semblance of hope 2017 will be alright after all with the arrival of their own label, Lower Floor Music.
Leading by example, this label - or ‘scotched taped nuclear audio radioactive front on humanity’ as they refer to it - is heralded by a new Wolf Eyes long player, ‘Undertow,’ which doubles up as the trio’s one hundredth album release by our estimations.
This is a real ugly bastard of an album, with Nate Young, James Baljo and John Olson intent on shredding minds from the off, adopting a free jazz approach to mangling discordant guitar beyond all recognition on Laughing Tides. From there, Empty Islands sounds like the heroic Pod Blotz attacking the classic shred metal sound of America and Texas spangles further, deeper into abstracted, wailing noise.
The metallic textures and Lou Reed-esque vocal mutterings of the title track are set to an irradiating metronome, setting you up for the near-fourteen-minute finale Thirteen which is Wolf Eyes at their absorbing, decimating best.
Logan Takahashi and Nick Weiss pitch up on Planet Mu with a belated third Teengirl Fantasy album.
First surfacing at the turn of the decade with the naive paean to Chi-town euphoria of Cheaters, Teengirl Fantasy duo Logan Takahashi and Nick Weiss have seemingly been chasing their own sound and sidestepping dodgy genre tags ever since. A prolonged bout of label hopping took the pair from indies like Milo Cordell’s trendjetting Merok and True Panther to a second album campaign for R&S in the label’s awkward A&R phase circa 2012. You know when they put out Vondelpark and Egyptian Hip Hop records….
8AM is Teengirl Fantasy’s latest creative statement, finding them back on a major electronic player in Planet Mu after a brief dalliance with North Carolina’s smartly-named Break World Records. Attempting to overlook their undercooked R&S LP Tracer, this 12-track collection picks up on the lineage of TGF’s 2010 debut album, 7AM, and veers off in a more introspective and abstracted direction.
8AM is a more confident glance into the Teengirl Fantasyverse, picking away at the burning embers of dance music history reinterpreting them in their own voice.
Paul Woolford’s ruder leanings come to the fore again on this weighty fabric-approved exploration of ambient, jungle, electro and techno.
Ever wondered what the musical DNA of Paul Woolford’s Special Request project looks like? A few listens to ‘Fabriclive 91’ will give you some insight. Equal parts AFX, grime, techno, electro and ambient, you get the feeling Woolford has been itching for a chance to make this mix for some time. Easing in with the Colundi experiments of Rephlex vet Aleksi Perälä, Wooly confidently rips through 30 tracks spanning several decades and movements – all mixed with laser levels of precision.
The early movement from RDJ’s anthemic Italo techno as Caustic Window through typically apocalyptic Stingray, OG Croydon nu step from Plastician and one of several upcoming Special Request tracks highlights Woolford’s guile in SR mode. A later transition from the swelling sub-laden ambient drama of Shapednoise’s hookup with JK Broadrick into the amen arsenal of vintage Dillinja proves Woolford’s class at exploring tension.
All this plus cuts from ASC, Carl Craig, Mika Vaino and Keith Fullerton-Whitman make this a mix worth exploring.
Masterful producer and mastering engineer, Stefan ‘Pole’ Betke, is next up for a creative undertaking of the Schnitzler archives.
By his own admission, a late adoptee to the sizeable canon of Conrad Schnitzler’s work, Stefan Betke is a fine choice to rework the late Kraut icon’s deep tape archive for the latest ‘Con-Struct’ album. Largely occupied with mastering duties since his most recent Pole LP, ‘Wald’, this six-track undertaking is perhaps the best ‘Con-Struct’ yet, offering a sharply-poised exercise in dub dynamics.
Betke coaxes you in with the first two tracks, Wurm and Sieht Hoch, which share the same lazy-eyed string refrain whilst subtly implementing an upwards shift in momentum. From here there is some real head-crushing moments. Lacht is a largely beatless affair that squeezes plenty of unease out through the queasy, sinewy dub FX, and the tripped-out Drachenbäume sind friedliche Wesen has a unique sense of continually fraying at the edges.
The brief Und fängt den Vogel! offers an interlude-shaped lesson in maximal sound design before Betke ends on an extended palate cleanser with a slab of classic Pole dub techno in the shape of Wiegenlied für Katzen.
Hauntingly tender solo debut LP from London’s Kelly Lee Owens, delivering on the promise of her excellent Jenny Hval and Daniel Avery collaborations/remixes in a full album of sylvan tech house and synth-pop beauties.
Prefaced by the head-turning single, Oleic - which featured a smart rework of Jenny Hval’s Kingsize - Kelly Lee Owens’ eponymous album introduces a well rounded yet subtly detailed sound to the world at large, one brimming with the rare promise of an artist who wants to extract something more precious, personalised from the dance music and pop prisms which clearly enthral her music.
There’s probably always going to be something about ethereal, floating vocals and the sensual contours of European tech house, when at its best, which will eternally grab our attention. And this album delivers strongly on both counts - striking an impeccable balance of classic, timeless pop songwriting and purring, contemporary electronic grooves that places it in an exulted space on the shelves.
Collaborators Jenny Hval and Daniel Avery appear on the record’s highlights; Jenny lending her poised delivery and lyrics, framed by KLO’s breathy gilding, on the baroque pop-house dream sequence of Anxi., with Avery assisting on the Fever Ray-meets-Liz Fraser stylings of Keep On Walking; whilst the rest is subtly aided by the mixing and engineering treatments of James Greenwood, who’s best known as Ghost Culture on Erol Elkan’s Phantasy Sound.
That combination of KLO’s chamber-like arrangements and Greenwood’s rendering results a string of other pearls in the strung out balearia of S.O. at the front, thru the gorgeous Arthur - which is surely a play on that library record Aphex Twin sampled on Xtal?! - whereas Evolution flexes some properly toned dancefloor muscle, and Throwing Lines could very nearly be mistaken for a cut from Grimes’ Halfaxa period.
After years of plaudits from all corners, Jacques Greene distills the ecstatic/melancholy sentiment of modern electronic house music within Feel Infinite, his debut album for LuckyMe.
Throughout the album’s 11 tracks, the Montreal-based producer synthesises the see-sawing feels of a night with pals, fingers tasting like acrid saffron and skin flush with water retention, using a range of contemporary house, R&B and electro-pop conventions to convey the warmest, user-friendly vibes.
Tom Krell (How To Dress Well) is partly responsible for one of the album’s highlights with pleading vocals on the swinging soft trance R&B gesture, True, and an uncredited female (or processed male) voice sparkles as an instrumental element across many other, with ear-snagging style in the filter-disco chops of Real Time, and cooing from the snappy 2-step structure of Afterglow.
Throughout their time together, the Baltimore-based Arbouretum have been praised for their ability to weave elaborate vocal lines and guitar solos that often unravel into extended improvisation but never with as much finesse as on the masterfully crafted ‘Song Of The Rose’.
"In less practiced hands, these ideas could easily fall into contrivance but on ‘Song of the Rose’ Arbouretum use these elements to perfect their craft of storytelling in song, both lyrically and sonically.
Arbouretum recorded ‘Song Of The Rose’ with Steve Wright at Wrightway Studios. While previous records were recorded in a matter of days, ‘Song Of The Rose’ took weeks. Attention to production details augment their time-tested emphasis on capturing the energy of performance. ‘Song Of The Rose’ is the first time the band has mixed with Kyle Spence (Kurt Vile, Luke Roberts, Harvey Milk) at his studios in Athens, GA."
Whereas Pontiak’s 2014 album ‘Innocence’ tore through rowdy riffs and melancholic balladry in a neat half hour, it’s immediately clear from the reverb-heavy trip of opener ‘Easy Does It’ that new album ‘Dialectic Of Ignorance’ is altogether a different beast.
Euphorically defying spatial constraint, brothers Jennings, Van and Lain Carney instead opt to guide each song along its own cosmic trajectory: confident in the outcome but even more excited to enjoy the ride.
Expertly-curated survey of Mali’s incredibly rich musical traditions. Includes gems from the region’s best known artist, Salif Keita along with plenty more nuggets such as The Rail Band’s AfroFunk zinger, Mouodilo; the mesmerising reverbs and distant drums of Worodara or the enchanting, reggae-tinged lilt of Bimoko Magnin by Super Djata Band; calypso from Le Ambassadors du Motel de Bamako.
“‘The Original Sound of Mali’ compiled by David ‘Mr Bongo’ Buttle, Vik Sohonie (Ostinato Records) and Florent Mazzoleni. As featured as 'Compilation of the Week' on Lauren Laverne's BBC 6Music show.
Malian music is arguably deeper, more sophisticated and lyrical than any other form of African music. Those of us deeply entranced by Malian culture, and, in particular, the immense hypnotic beauty of Malian music, have put together a selection of songs from across the country.”
Not for the first time, but arguably the most significant, Pye Corner Audio crosses paths with Ghost Box for his first LP of 2016; a narcotically hypnagogic and dystopian trip entitled Stasis.
At least one leap year cycle since his last album with the GB’s, Sleep Games, right now this one feels like a stygian trudge into bleakest futures, operating at such a stoned pace that it moves slower than actual time, and by submitting to its temporal warp we’re allowed to regress back into a pre-digital epoch of paranoid cold, or even civil war atmospheres and paranoia.
It could almost be the soundtrack to a Ben Wheatley flick (low budget, not the over-glossy high rise) about British time travellers, forgoing Dr. Who queso for a more hard-boiled, furtive vibe about anachronistic assassins sent back to kill Nigel Farage at birth, only to uncover that he’s part of an exceedingly dangerous non-human race with ties to Johnson, Cameron and all the other pebble-people, so they round them all up and lock them in a hostel in Middlesbrough with a broken kettle and packet of poisoned monster munch between the lot.
Of course, that fantasy is all set to a soundtrack of wistful electronic mists and pulsating arpeggios that could be right out of some late ‘70s / early ‘80s synth library, and ultimately shows that whilst technology has advanced in the meantime, that ostensibly archaic music still reflects an underlying eldritch darkness contemporary and relevant to both eras, then and now.
The seventh volume of our acclaimed Spiritual Jazz series examines the influence and impact of Islam on four decades of jazz innovation.
"Through Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali, the civil rights era in America saw African American liberation politics famously associated with Islamic belief. This was not the first time that radical developments in African American cultural life had been widely and famously associated with Islam - that distinction belongs not to political or sporting giants, but to the progressive jazz musicians of the bebop generation. Kenny Clarke, Art Blakey, Sahib Shihab, Gigi Gryce, Idrees Sulieman, Ahmad Jamal, Yusef Lateef; all these legendary jazz pioneers - and countless more - were early converts to the spiritually charged Ahmadiyya school of Islam.
Their faith profoundly influenced the music that they made, and the presence of prominent and innovative Muslim musicians at the heart of jazz culture in America has been recognised ever since. The tracks on this collection follow the story of Islam and jazz from the 1950s to the 1980s. Recorded by Muslim jazz musicians, they often draw specifically on
Middle Eastern or Islamic music, dream of an esoteric or spiritual Afro-East, or invoke the landscape and sound worlds of Islamic Africa. Spiritual Jazz 7 presents a selection of visionary music - inspired by faith, powered by jazz."
Fiction / Non Fiction is a wonderful debut album of quietly inquisitive and poetic compositions from Olivier Alary - the Montreal-based Frenchman with form for Rephlex (as Ensemble) and Björk (production on Medulla and Voltaïc) - offering an absorbing suite of instrumental soundtrack works produced alongside Johannes Malfatti and various members of the Montreal firmament for some ten arthouse films from the last decade.
FatCat’s modern classical outpost 130701 play willing host to this compilation of Alary’s film work, sequencing an hour of music from the Frenchman’s past five years of soundtrack compositions. There is a clear and soothing sense of flow to ‘Fiction / Non-Fiction’ despite the fact it’s been pulled from a variety of film sources, dates and locations, and this is obviously down to Alary’s talent as a composer and musician.
Commencing with a pair of tracks from Alary’s contribution to Yung’s Chang’s award-winning 2012 boxing documentary ‘China Heavyweight,’ the album retains an evocative poise as he eases through an assemblage of instruments. Nestled in amidst the soundtrack work are two compositions Alary recorded specifically for this album that further enlighten us to his unerring instrumental skill. Pulses (For Percussion) is a sumptuous exercise in polyrhythmic harmony using gong, marimba and vibraphone whilst Pulses (For Winds) works similar wonders with an array of woodwind.
It definitely recalls a whole host of experimental works from the world famous Montreal scene, but also dovetails with the recent brace of scores by Jóhann Jóhannsson as well as Stars Of The Lids’ solemn airs, whilst the composer also finely incorporates nods to Julia Wolfe, Julius Eastman, and the GRM within his uniquely coruscating and tenderly decayed post-tonal timbres.
Rough Trade squeeze more emotive bombast out of Anohni on this companion piece to last year’s ‘Hopelessness’ album.
The ‘Paradise’ EP collates material from the same sessions as last year’s 0PN and Hud Mo-produced Anohni LP, so it’s no surprise to find it continues the musical and politically agitating themes of ‘Hopelessness’.
Leaning in quietly with the ambient sorrow of In My Dreams, Hud Mo’s rhythmic cush comes to the fore with the ripe trap rollage and purple grade synth searage of Paradise. Hud Mo’s behind the buttons influence continues with the fluttering Oriental beatdown of Jesus Will Kill You, complemented superbly by Anohni’s downbeat delivery. You Are My Enemy offers a moment of subdued contemplation before the warped side of Anohni comes the fore on the vibrant, angered pop of Ricochet.
Soul Jazz return from Haiti for the 3rd time with another unmissable collection of pure percussive vodou from The Dreamers of The Société Absolument Guinin, following from Spirits of Life: Haitian Vodou (2005), and Voodoo Drums (2005).
Back in 1804, Haiti was the first Caribbean island to gain independence from its slave owners and a fundamental part of that revolt was down to the way its displaced population found unity thru religion and percussive communication, adapting and mutating their mix of deeply rooted West African drum rituals - as practiced by the Fon and Ewe, and incorporating elements of Yoruba and Kongo cultures as well as indigenous Taíno beliefs - into a new, syncretic language of spirituality and rhythmelodic meaning which couldn’t be understood by oppressive ruling classes, and could be used to encrypt non-verbal messages between the island’s many respective groups.
Bearing that in mind, Haiti therefore developed one of the richest percussive traditions in the world, which has more or less become a byword for rhythms that possess the mind, body, and soul like few others. And that’s exactly what you’ll find inside Drums In Haiti 2: The Living Gods of Haiti; a gripping, totally hypnotic set of 16 rituals that demand the attention of any and all DJ, dancers, rhythm-obsessed anthropologists and bored congregations looking for a new religion. The religion of the rhythm.
Scott Morgan (Loscil) reprises his collaboration with cellist Mark Bridges following the Adrift EP (2015) with a lofty, elevated perspective on the topography of Wyoming, USA, rent in sweeping strings and electronics.
“High Plains is the duo of Scott Morgan and Mark Bridges. Morgan, based in the Canadian Pacific Northwest, is predominantly known for his drifting, textured soundscapes released under the pseudonym LOSCIL. Bridges is an accomplished, classically-trained cellist residing in Madison, Wisconsin.
The two met in Banff, Alberta while they were simultaneously there on residencies at the Banff Centre for the Arts in 2014. They first collaborated when Bridges contributed cello parts to Morgan’s generative music app ADRIFT, recorded in Seattle in 2015.
In early 2016, the duo embarked on a collaborative set of compositions in the oxygen thin air of Wyoming, spending two weeks holed up in a refurbished school house in the town of Saratoga, where this album was recorded. Inspired by Schubert’s Die Winterreiseand the rolling landscapes of their surroundings, the collaboration culminated in a collection of recordings that evoke a shadowy, introspective and dizzying winter journey.
Cinderland takes cues from classical, electronic and cinematic musical traditions but is mostly a product of the rugged, mythic landscape; vast and sprawling with a wild, uncertain edge. The recording was made with a portable studio and all sounds were sourced on site, most notably from Bridges’ cello, the resident Steinway D piano, and field recordings collected from the local soundscape. The results are a site specific, wide scope view of the high valley terrain the duo worked in, a mix of analog and digital, neoclassical and modern electronic sounds, a complemental series of tracks to become absorbed in, a truly deep listening experience.”