Featuring collaborations with Sufjan Stevens, Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), Yo La Tengo, Shara Nova, Mouse on Mars, Francis and the Lights and others...
"The music of CARM features horns in roles typically reserved for drums, guitars and voices, while also escaping the genre categorizations reserved for music featuring an instrumentalist as bandleader. It is not jazz or classical music, nor is it a soundtrack. This is contemporary popular music that features a sound normally used as a background colour and texture as the unabashed lead voice. According to CARM, aka CJ Camerieri, “It started with the question: ‘What kind of record would my trumpet-playing heroes from the past make today?’ I believe they would want to work with the best producers, beat makers, song-writers, and singers to create new, truly culturally relevant music, and that’s what I sought to do with this project.”
Produced in Minneapolis by Ryan Olson (Polica , Lizzo) and featuring collaborations with Sufjan Stevens, Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), Yo La Tengo, Shara Nova, Mouse on Mars, Francis and the Lights and many others. This is a completely unique sound that additionally serves as a survey of the collaborations that have come to define the artist’s career thus far. Says Justin Vernon, “I truly believe there isn’t a more accomplished brass player in the entire world of music. And this is way more than a ‘horn’ record. It’s a discovery of new heights with what is possible in creating music.” The album begins with an orchestral brass choir of French horns, which quickly gives way to a piano sample from Francis, as Stevens and Lupin combine voices over a lush bed of horns to sing ‘Song of Trouble’. The album bookends with the same piano sample used as a springboard to an iconic lyric by Vernon in the album closer ‘Land’. Between these two generation-defining artists we have upward sweeping melodies and fanfares reminiscent of Ennio Morricone.
The acutely original sound of Georgia Hubley and Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo in ‘Already Gone’ give way to the virtuoso sound of Nova’s voice. A more experimental path emerges before the strings from Music bring us back to the piano sample that started the record. Instead of recycling well-trodden sounds, CARM offers a respite for those seeking an original voice."
Utterly fab off-world lo-fi pop construxions assembled using DX7, TR-909 and early samplers from Italian minimalist Tiziano Popoli. Imagine Visible Cloaks rescoring "Liquid Sky" and ur there.
Freedom To Spend's latest rifles through the catalog of Italian minimalist composer Tiziano Popoli, unearthing a series of unreleased recordings for soundtracks, radio and installations made between 1983 and 1989 with a modest studio setup. Influenced by glittery radio pop music, Popoli used the Yamaha DX7 synthesizer along with the Roland TR-909 drum machine and some early sampling technology to belt out a series of surreal cues and themes that sound almost frozen in time.
The distinctive FM sound of the DX7 was relegated to bargain bins for too long after practically defining the mid 1980s and early 1990s, but it's received a well overdue resurgence in recent years. Now the familiar sound (smooth, shimmering pads, plasticky stabs and bumping distorted basses) is easily available inside or outside the box, and it's become ubiquitous once again - hearing it here though, struck through with possibility, is an all-too-rare treat. Popoli uses these sounds without cynicism or reference, crafting angular pop forms from a backdrop of funk, prog rock and disco.
'Minimal Dance N.1' sounds like a long-lost Goblin cue, with fractured synths following eerie piano loops. Elsewhere, album centerpiece 'Mimetico Erettile' develops over fifteen minutes, blending paper-thin pads with marimba sounds that buzz lovingly like Steve Reich in an isolation booth. Each track sounds as if it could rattle off the hinges at any moment and that's exactly what we love about it.
Fantastic music that sings loud from a place of innovation and discovery.
Editions RZ collects historical recordings of Italy's forward looking and influential Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza 1967-75, a collective featuring Egisto Macchi (percussion + celesta), Ennio Morricone (trumpet), Walter Branchi (bass), Franco Evangelisti (piano), John Heineman (trombone + cello), Roland Kayn (hammond organ + vibes + marimbaphon), Giovanni Piazza (horn), Frederic Rzewski (piano), and Jesus Villa Rojo (clarinet).
All skilled players and composers, the Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza were formed in 1964 at the initiative of Franco Evangelisti with an aesthetic agenda looking beyond the boundaries of previous improvisational musics. They focussed on production and the qualities of sound itself, employing innovative recording and playing techniques at the limits of their capabilities as performers and composers in order to discover the "new consonance" inferred in their nomenclature.
These ten pieces spanning eight years are highly considered works of art, aware of the Neo-Dadaists attempts to disassemble the concept of a work of art, and instead attempting to expand its parameters as a transitory body of work in flux. We can hear traces of this work reflected in the more forward thinking Italian film soundtracks of the era and to a further extent, in Ennio Morricone's work for Hollywood, in turn casting an influence over much exploratory, non-academic contemporary music.
Cuba: Music and Revolution: Culture Clash in Havana: Experiments in Latin Music 1975-85 Vol. 1 is a new album compiled by Gilles Peterson and Stuart Baker (Soul Jazz Records) that explores the many new styles that emerged in Cuba in the 1970s as Jazz, Funk, Brazilian Tropicalia and even Disco mixed together with Latin and Salsa on the island as Cuban artists experimented with new musical forms created in the unique socialist state of Cuba.
"The album comes as a heavyweight triple vinyl and deluxe double CD, complete with extensive sleeve notes, and is jam-packed with heavy bass lines, synth and Wah-Wah guitar funk combined with the heavyweight percussion, powerful brass lines and the all-encompassing Latin rhythms of Cuban music known throughout the world.
The album is released to coincide with the massive new deluxe large format book Cuba: Music and Revolution: Original Cover Art of Cuban Music: Record Sleeve Designs of Revolutionary Cuba 1959-90, published in November, which is also compiled by Gilles Peterson and Stuart Baker (Soul Jazz Records), and which features the music and record designs of Cuba, made in the 30-year period following the Cuban Revolution.The music on this album features legendary Cuban groups such as Irakere, Los Van Van and Pablo Milanés as well as a host of lesser known artists such as the radical Grupo De Experimentación, Juan Pablo Torres and Algo Nuevo, Grupo Monumental and Orquesta Ritmo Oriental, groups whose names remain largely unknown outside of Cuba owing to the now 60-year old US trade embargo which remains in place today and which prevents trade with Cuba – and thus most Cuban records were only ever available in Cuba or in ex-Soviet Union states.
The music on this album reflects the most cutting-edge of Cuban groups that were recording in Cuba in the 1970s and 1980s – who were all searching for a new Cuban identity and new musical forms that reflected both the Afro-Cuban cultural heritage of a nation that gave birth to Latin music – and its new position as a socialist state. Most of the music featured on this album has never been heard outside of Cuba. Cuba: Music and Revolution is the third book that Gilles Peterson and Stuart Baker have collaborated on together and follows on from their two earlier critically acclaimed books, Freedom, Rhythm and Sound (Revolutionary Jazz Music in the 1960s and 1970s) and Bossa Nova and the Rise of Brazilian Music in the 1960s, both of which also had related album releases on Soul Jazz Records. Both Gilles Peterson and Stuart Baker have been involved in Cuban music for more than two decades – Gilles Peterson with his many Havana Cultura projects for his Brownswood label and Stuart Baker with a number of Soul Jazz Records albums recorded in Cuba. This Soul Jazz Records album is released in conjunction with Egrem, the Cuban state record company, and has been put together after the many crate-digging trips that both compilers have made on the streets of Havana and beyond in Cuba stretching over a 20-year period, searching out rare and elusive original Cuban vinyl records."
For new initiates and avant-garde fiends alike, this Xenakis collection renders a breathtaking survey of works by the radical composer, theorist, architect and engineer, spanning the period 1956-1974 and featuring some of the greatest works of the 20th century, including the awe-inspiring sonic architecture of ‘Persepolis’.
Inarguably one of the most important composers to blend electronic process and classical orchestration, Greek-French artist Iannis Xenakis made an indelible impression on the 20th century with his staggeringly complex feats of musical engineering. Regularly cited as an influence by composers ranging from Russell Haswell and Florian Hecker thru Autechre and Reinhold Friedl, Xenakis’s polymath pursuits in hybridising music, architecture and mathematics generated a bewildering array of sounds and structures which have rarely, if ever, been bettered in terms of their sheer scope, scale and technical ingenuity.
It’s possible to break down Xenakis’ approach to composition, and its results, as an extension of his experiences in armed combat, fighting for Greece’s left wing liberationists against the German army and later the British during WWII, with the latter leaving him blinded in one eye. He would eventually leave Greece in 1947 after graduating university with a degree in civil engineering, and before he could be conscripted into the Greek army, who didn’t look favourably on left wing sympathisers. Moving from Greece to Paris left him with a sense of guilt at betraying his friends, and a sense that “I had to do something important to regain the right to live. It wasn’t just a question of music - it was something much more significant.”
That significant something turned out to be a mind-blowing, multi-disciplinary oeuvre practically unprecedented in the history of music, architecture and art; a radical synthesis of ideas which embraced new technology and abstraction as a means to realise and create a new world in the aftermath of WWII. Like the Italian futurists before him, Xenakis would draw on the chaotic soundfield of war, and combined with a strong knowledge of experimental classical music and a special nous of maths, Xenakis’ subsequent studies with Olivier Messiaen and work with Parisian architect Le Corbusier would prompt him to composing groundbreaking new music during the 1950s.
This 2CD contains works from that era, stretching right back to the pranging clangour and jet-like eruptions of Achorripsis [1956-57], an early example of his stochastic style of composition, thru the dizzying, chronic dynamics of Syrmos , and to some of the earliest work composed by a computer, the 7090 IBM, in ST/48(St/48-1,240162).
But it’s Xenakis’ ’60s/‘70s work where his genius is mst evident, from the breathtaking scope of Polytope De Montréal  - written for four orchestras in the same space in the French Pavilion at Expo ’67 - to the gobsmacking dimensions of his seminal Persépolis , which was realised for the Shah of Iran, plus the frankly terrifying, computerised wormhole of Polytope De Cluny [1972-74].
We can’t reasonably describe this set as anything other than indispensable for fans of electronic music from its inception to the modern day.
’Trippin’ Musik’ is Nurse With Wound’s most significant new dose in a while, collecting 3 epic discs of steeply psychedelic sonics that may well alter your breathing and heart rates and mental state. No tracklisting provided, play however tf you like.
Following from the reissue of NWW’s ’Soliloquy For Lilith’ boxset, ‘Trippin’ Musik’ relays the most recent findings from Steven Stapleton and co’s ongoing psychedelic research / surrealist reconnaissance / occult practice in electro-acoustic and avant-garde spheres. As the title suggests, it’s one for the journey, taking up whole sides of vinyl with intensely and intently focussed recordings that often take over 20 minutes to say their psychedelic piece in a cryptic language of abstraction.
Whether you take drugs to listen to this music or not, the effect is likely to live up to the title, but we’re pretty certain it will be stronger with than without. One disc features a whole side of what sounds like a folk song fractalised and slowed down by Carl Stone, while another also sees them strung out in desert guitar scenes sort of like a digitized interpolation of Earth jamming with Soisong, and the side of rapidly panned gasps is practically guaranteed to send your head into a tailspin given the right conditions, before it all shores up in a deeply lysergic scene of strolling, head-squashing, liminal/laminal electronic timbres that feel like classic kosmische slowed down and exhaled by an AI.
Trust the efficacy of ’Trippin’ Musik’ for psychoactive potential is right up there with the most potent sonic substance. Approach with spare time and a well stocked freezer for best results.
Jangling shards of guitar and puckish drums meet close vocal harmonies and punkish “hey!’s” in Palberta’s 3rd and latest jag with Brooklyn’s Wharf Cat Records
On ‘Palberta5000’ the trio of Anina Ivry-Block, Lily Konigsberg, and Nina Ryser elide the pop and punk aspects of their sound tighter than ever, resulting oodles of sing-a-long lyrics and nagging melodic riffs that will be trotting around your noggin for days, maybe weeks, to come after each play.
Quite notably, ‘Palberta5000’ was recorded in a studio located in the former home and family lamp-shop of Paul Reuben (aka none other than *that* mad egg, Pee Wee Herman) and it’s possible that his sense of U-cert mischief perfuses the album’s sense of exuberant youthfulness, which is practically spilling over from the likes of their dizzy harmonies in ‘Never To Go’, and the ‘90s indie-pop charms of ’Summer Sun’, or The Raincoats-like jangle and quicktrot of ‘Something In The Way.’
Another totally obscure diamond that we might never have found without Edition RZ’s prompting, and should be strongly recommended to fans of durational, minimal works by Stephen O’Malley, Eliane Radigue, or Jakob Ullmann.
Trauermusiken, or Music for Grief, offers two gravely intense compositions for strings written by contemporary Austrian composer and organist Klaus Lang.First released in 1995 by Lambeart, and reissued by Edition RZ in 2002 (this edition), it ranks among Lang’s earliest works and consists of one relatively short prelude followed by a quietly crushing 69 minute piece.
The five minutes of Der Wind und das Meer, Trauermusik für Bratsche solo (The Wind and the Sea, Music for Grief for Viola solo), performed by Barbara Konrad, foreshadow a glacially unfolding and technically demanding piece performed by the Amras Streichquartett.
In its slow, sustained and keening intensity we’re instantly reminded of Harley Gaber’s The Winds Rise In The North, which was also reissued via Edition RZ. However, Lang’s piece feels like the inverse of that record, trading teeth-chattering high-end for a solemn exploration of lower registers, operating at near-liminal levels of concentration and focus.
It’s yet another totally obscure diamond that we might never have found without Edition RZ’s prompt, and should be strongly recommended to fans of durational, minimal works by Stephen O’Malley, Eliane Radigue, or Jakob Ullmann.
40th anniversary edition of NWW’s second album dating back to 1980, wickedly complicating their enigma with a perplexing surrealist collage of psychedelic freeness and communal industrial jams
Available on LP for first time in 30 years, ‘To The Quiet Men From A Tiny Girl’ is still as strange and twisted an album as its title and that artwork would suggest. It marks the group near the start of their bent curve, with Steven Stapleton joined by early members Herman Pathak and John Fothergill, and French avant-garde legend Jac Berrocal on Conch, for a decimated trip into sub- or pre-conscious sound arrangements that get under the skin and unpredictably writhe with a raw, unsettling sensuality dislocated somewhere between snuff film ambience and post-industrial organism.
Leading down their overgrown garden path from 1979’s legendary ‘Chance Meeting On A Dissecting Table Of A Sewing Machine And An Umbrella’, the band’s follow-up could have conceivably moved in any direction after that unprecedented start, and it bloody well does; tripping balls in a way that juices, un-stitches, and messes with then pre-existing frameworks of free jazz, industrial music, and avant-garde experimentalist expression: or simply what would become known as NWW musick.
In tortuously durational side-long works they morph amp hum into licks of fiery psych guitar and cut-up concrète, initially forging a sort of lysergic caveman rock fronted by clangers, that descends into bestial howls, pockets of squealing guitar abstractions and what sounds like a a flock of jazzy geese. And that’s only the first side. The second is equally un/hinged, with cut-up voices pranging from the ether against backdrops of machine elves unscrewing a cavernous workshop at midnight, then gelling into the sickliest music box mælodies and back to avian jazz frolics from another dimension. The band were apparently unhappy with the results of this album, and it remains a fucking weird piece of experimental history.
Haunting chamber invocation by the Austrian organist, composer and academic; written for flute, voice, percussion and viola. The quietly minimal, single, 50-minute piece is intended for reflection and altered, heightened states of sonic perception. RIYL Jakob Ullmann.
“Through concentration on listening or concentration on what we are listening to we can enter a state of simplicity of mind which is a state of the highest inner clarity or inner silence. In other words:when concentrating on the flow of music we can reach an inner state: The inner silence which is the simultaneity of stasis and flow. This paradoxical situation poses the question: Is the flow of music passing us, is music flowing through us thus evoking this inner stasis or is it not a state at all what we experience: should we not most seriously take into consideration the possibility that it is us who are flowing through the sound?”
'Kompositionen 1950-1972' collects 16 compositions by Christian Wolff. Most of the pieces collected for this portrait of Christian Wolff document the composer’s early activity and were mainly recorded around the time of their composition. Each recording exemplifies the sound gestures from their time.
"Finally I realized that the kind of sound made in an indeterminate situation includes what could result in no other way; for example, the sound of a player making up his mind, or having to change it. In fact, the indeterminate notation I've used is, as far as I know, the only possible one for the kind of sound I should like. And don't forget, we also like to be surprised. ...and the rhythm produced by that situation is like no other rhythm."
Now of a 20 year vintage, NWW’s pair of haunted works with Czech violinist Petr Vastl aka Aranos resurface in a double pack of deeply spooked out material.
Aranos’ violin ranges from folksy see-saw to abstract extended tekkers in a pair of albums written and released four years apart but both bearing a very similar sort of etheric wanderlust that leads them from midnight darkness recalling Deathprod from roughly the same era in ‘Either Open Or Unsound’, to a stunning 24’ ambient etherfolk vista ‘Every Bower Builder Aims To Be A Polygamist’ on 1997’s ‘Acts of Senseless Beauty’, to take in industrial -cut-up rhythms, concrète haptics in ‘Marbles’, and smoked out death jazz in ‘Mary Jane’, and concluding in the snuff scene atmosphere of ‘Knife Knows His Doing’. With Aranos’ strings resembling a killer’s garrotte.
Sam Amidon considers his new self-titled album the fullest realization to date of his artistic vision.
"It comprises his radical reworkings of nine mostly traditional folk songs, performed with his band of longtime friends and collaborators. Amidon produced the record, applying the sonic universe of his 2017 The Following Mountain to these beloved tunes, many of which he first learned as a child. ‘Pretty Polly,’ for example, was one of the first traditional tunes he learned to play, and ‘Time Has Made A Change’ is a song that his parents – singers who were on the 1977 Nonesuch recording Rivers of Delight with the Word of Mouth Chorus – sang around the house when he was young."
The Bug darkens Hyperdub’s doorstep proper for first time since ’Skeng’ with a dead strong new album of mutant dancehall and dread trip hop voiced by Dis Fig.
Currently in fecund form after a series of superb solo albums, Zonal with JK Broadrick, and his modern classic with King Midas Sound, Kevin Martin aka The Bug now finds another ideal foil in Felicia Chen aka Dis Fig, who appears to leave her production hat aside in favour of intimately hushed, almost opiated vox that provide the perfectly possessed counterweight to the musick’s low frequencies and noctilucent timbres.
For the majority of the album Dis Fig is a central, if elusive, presence strongly channelling a certain sort of late ‘90s trip hop and pop ennui that can’t help but remind us the tone to classic Massive Attack, Depeche Mode or Sneaker Pimps from that era, while The Bug’s production subtly elides the aching poetic, liminal nocturnal space of KMS into his more typical dancehall-mowing rhythms with irresistible effect.
The 12 tracks play out like a hymn book for the deserted, haunted dance floors of 2020, tempering the subs and drums to a ghostly, just-outta-reach middle distance, rather than in-your-face, and leaving acres of room for Dis Fig’s vocals to haunt, variously radiating from the core into infinity as on ‘End In Blue’, or hidden in a psychedelic stereo haze of ‘Forever’, while the ohrwurming cadence of ‘Destroy Me’ will likely be echoing in your head for days, weeks after, and you can find K. Martin at his instrumental best on the nerve-gnawing grine of ‘Blood’.
Call us fanboys, but the whole album is just fucking outstanding, really. Bravo.
Calexico’s 'Seasonal Shift' is less of a Christmas album and more of a cross cultural seasonal celebration.
"The themes are based around that familiar end of year feeling, of reflection, of ceremony and of recognition of the year gone by and changes it brought for better and for worse. It contains a few cover songs including classics by John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Tom Petty and a few more special guests, combined with a whole load of good will. It’s heartfelt but fun, and earnest but celebratory. It features Calexico in an assortment of guises, referencing Portuguese Fado and Old Mexican Folk Songs, from the stripped back two-man skeleton to the full party of international collaborators including artists like Bombino, Gaby Moreno, Gisela João, Nick Urata (DeVotchKa) and Camilo Lara."
"Our lives are expendable under most governments, secondary under a system of monetary rule. We are stock if you like, parts on a shelf for the purposes of profit, discarded at any moment if fabricated or non-fabricated crisis threatens productivity. This is constant, obviously and notably in the current pandemic. The masses cannot be present in the minds of ill-fitting leaders, surely? Or else the realisation of their catastrophic management would cripple their minds. Much like the human body can still survive without a full set of ribs we are all 'spare ribs’, preservation for capitalism, through ignorance and remote rule, available for parts."
34-minute, 6-track mini album born out of and shaped by long hours working into the night.
"Some of London-based electronic songwriter Ryan Lee West’s most recognised work to date comes in the shape of spontaneous EP or so-called mini album releases— clocking in just under the 40-minute mark, keeping their contents urgent, immediate and to the point.
As with his 2013 EP Odyssey and 2014’s Sonne, which were later compiled to a full-length release titled Odyssey / Sonne in 2015, there is a similarly strong synergy between his 2016 mini album Night Melody and this year’s Articulation — made available on CD and digital formats under the title Night Melody / Articulation. It’s nocturnal in sound; mysterious in the way that the early hours so often are.
The opening statement Pattern Of The North starts off with a collage of spliced synth melodies, inspired by anxiety that accompanies going home for Christmas. It’s followed by Johannesburg, an early sketch gradually filled out during his tour in South Africa. The closing statement What Sorrow is a fitting end to the album, building from gentle melancholia to a joyous crescendo. It’s a sensibility that’s central to the record; joy and sorrow both find their counterpoints. July 31, 2020 saw the release of his highly anticipated new album Articulation with an equal running time of 34 minutes. Lead track and album centrepiece ‘Articulation’ links the record back to the analogue fluidity and colour of 2016’s Night Melody.
The division of varying time signatures, intertwined with a complex structure of notes, creates an expression of a moving structure and conjures a dreamy, motorik energy. Articulation was conceived with a very visual way of thinking, unusual for the London musician and producer. During the writing process Ryan drew structures, shapes and patterns by hand to try and find new ways of thinking about music, giving himself a way to problem-solve away from the computer. The album title references a piece by the avant-garde contemporary composer Györgi Ligeti, though not for its music, but for the non-traditional graphic score that accompanied it. The idea of using analogue drawings and tools to bolster digital creations can be heard in the structure of the pieces that make up Articulation from the broody techno opener ‘Vibrations on a String’ all the way to the album’s boundless closer ‘Sudden
Awareness of Now’. Rising out of birdsong heard from his studio window, it has a particular urgency about it and seems to perfectly capture a longing for escape. Built around a simple and repetitive melodic theme, expanding and retracting over the course of its seven-minute odyssey."
Raw deep house jams from Will Long (Celer), continuing a cherished series on his own label after a sterling run including DJ Sprinkles remixes on Comatonse
Adorned with Tsuji Aiko’s illustration of Stokely Carmichael, and samples of the civil rights activist inside, ‘Long Trax 3’ stretches out over an hour of blushing pads and stripped down rhythms in a style that’s ostensibly removed, but actually complementary, to Long’s more typical ambient work as Celer.
If anything, it’s an implicit show of solidarity for current BLM movements in Long’s original homeland, USA, offering time and space that suggests contemplation on the current, torrid state of affairs with a humble nod to the original vibes of Larry Heard et al, sparingly using samples of Stokely Carmichael in a series of lean drum trax layered with noctilucent pads.
Proggy concept album about influential 20th century philosopher Gilles Deleuze - RIYL Art Zoyd, Richard Pinhas, Heldon
“This new album (the tenth in their discography) was born from two ambitions: to pay tribute to Soft Machine's Third on form (4 sides / 4 titles) and to philosopher Gilles Deleuze (Difference and Repetition is the title of his thesis) on the contents. The 4 long pieces of this double concept album were developed over 2 years and each has a different style and climate. Bold and kaleidoscopic, Difference and Repetition perfectly synthesizes the musical and literary obsessions of Palo Alto.
Formed in Paris in 1989, Palo Alto released his first album (a cassette) on the Italian label Old Europa Cafe in 1990. The year 2020 is therefore an opportunity to celebrate the 30th anniversary of this first stone, the founder of a discography rich with 10 albums. The band is now composed of Jacques Barbéri (also a science fiction author), Laurent Pernice (ex-member of the French industrial band Nox) and Philippe Perreaudin (also coordinator of several compilations and reissues: Legendary Pink Dots, Un Département, Nino Ferrer Revisited, Ptôse, Hardy Fox…).
Literature, and particularly science fiction, is a leitmotiv in the band's work. Antoine Volodine, Thomas Pynchon, Philip K. Dick, Lewis Carroll or J. G. Ballard have been invoked many times. In recent years, Palo Alto has multiplied musical collaborations with, among others, The Residents, Ptôse, Klimperei, Tuxedomoon... From industrial music to inextricable electronic ramifications, by making a detour through improvisation, the musical universe of Palo Alto is multifaceted. Their new album is no exception to this rule…”
Sublime first new recordings in 20 years by 4AD’s original dream-pop experimenters J. Tardo and Kirsty Yates as Insides - RIYL Nouvelle Vague, To Rococo Rot, Slowdive
Formerly known as Earwig between ’89-’93, before forming Insides with a now sought-after album and singles for 4AD shortly thereafter, Tardo and Yates also issued one album of Nouvelle Vague-like gallic pop and acid jazz with 2000’s ‘Sweet Tip’ and promptly exited stage left until only recently. They now return to something closer to their original style on ‘Soft Bonds’, reprising a tenderly bleary and endearing sound warmly defined by Kirsty Yates’ breathy, languorous vocals and subtle, supple, carefully minimalist production by J. Tardo that’s prone to exquisite surprises.
The shrugging title of ‘It Was Like This Once, It Will Be Like This Again’ acknowledges a timelessness to their sound that oozes thru on their woozy opener, while they sweetly embrace a sort of Berlin-esque electro-pop minimalism realign To Rococo Rot in ‘Ghost Music’, setting parameters they come to explore in variegated strains of icily puckered synth-pop on ‘Misericord’, and the tip-of-tongue sensuality to ‘The Softest Bonds resist Resistance’ in the album’s first half. At the album’s core they make room for the chamber-like hush of ‘Subordinate’ setting more tender, semi-acoustic aesthetics that blossom into something like a drowsy, wilting Antenna on ‘Half Past 4’, and it all comes together in a a mix of the lovely glow of ‘Undressing.’
Gorgeous, sanguine ambient sound sculpture by Iranian composer Porya Hatami for iDEAL recordings, following blazing sides from The Gagmen, and Stephen O’Malley with Senyawa.
"35.256031, 47.013321, 27.081979" is an experimental sound art piece created by the Iranian composer Porya Hatami. Porya Hatami (b. 1981) is based in Sanandaj, Iran and he works with field recordings and puts these against electronic tones in different ways. He has released his music since 2012 and has released his works on a number of international labels and is collaborating with like minded artists."
Charming Broadcast-adjacent psych-pop from Portuguese band Beautify Junkyards. Acid folk has rarely sounded so jangly and pristine - perfect lockdown escapism, trust us on this one.
There's something magical about Brazilian psych-pop - it inhabits that ethereal space between the faeries-n-goblins prog of the Canterbury set and the melancholy brilliance of Brazilian vocal music. Somehow, Portuguese band Beautify Junkyards manage to touch that same mythical space on their fourth album "Cosmorama", an alchemical concoction that takes the heart of Broadcast and simmers it with the bones of Os Mutantes. The resulting psychedelic soup is just a joy to swim in as the band trade vocals and dip between acoustic and electronic instrumentation.
"Cosmorama" sounds at times like the soundtrack to a long-lost TV documentary series, but Beautify Junkyards aren't entirely wedged in the past - their particular brand of whimsical melancholy sounds strangely current. The kind of psychedelic pop that Broadcast made their calling card has been a touchstone for plenty of contemporary bands, and Beautify Junkyards have found a way to make that more gauzy somehow - a dream pop album for a psychedelic love-in.
When Lindstrøm and Prins Thomas get together, expect the unexpected.
"The Norwegian production duo's third album III is also their first outing together in eleven years, since II from 2009—and as ever, Lindstrøm and Prins Thomas have crafted their own unique sonic world between the two of them. This is expansive, luscious electronic music rich with texture and intricacy, patiently revealing every eccentricity while constantly pulling the listener in. Getting lost never sounded so good.
Since the release of II, Lindstrøm and Prins Thomas have remained more than busy with their respective solo careers, but work on III was taking place behind the scenes the whole time—slow and steady by sending files back and forth. "There's a different process with every album," Thomas explains. "With the first two albums, we had a door between separate rooms in the studio, so I could open my door and play him something. We also toured together a lot after the first album, and after that experience we realized that we work better together at a distance. We're doing our best work by not worrying too much about what the other one of us is doing.
"Eventually, the bulk of III came together over the last year, as Lindstrøm and Prins Thomas teamed up to craft a lush and lovely work that recalls the hazy atmospherics of Air, the loose-fit jazz of Lonnie Liston Smith, and the genreresistant electronic music that both artists have made their name on over the course of their impressive careers."
Lustmord and pianist Nicolas Horvath breath creepy new life into Dennis Johnson’s pioneering minimalist composition - an inspiration to La Monte Young - with dead spooky results
Horvath reduces the original 1959 piece for solo piano to its barest essence and Lustmord lurks in the spaces beyond, framing the keys with out edge-of-sibilance winds and super low end tones and very neatly blurring boundaries between presences of field recordings and synthetic tones. To be fair he is Hollywood sound designer so you can trust it sounds great alongside your Deathprod and Akira Rabelais records.
“Lustmord - Active since 1980, born of the original 'industrial' scene of the period. With its own distinctive approach, blurring the line between music and sound design Lustmord's work has featured in 45 motion pictures including The Crow and Underworld and also in video games, television and commercials. Recently Lustmord scored the music for Paul Schrader's movie First Reformed. While Lustmord is often credited for creating the 'dark ambient' genre there is much more nuance to its work than what that label implies. The music is not dark, but is a light that shines into and upon the darkness. Notable collaborations amongst many include Tool, Melvins, Jarboe, John Balance of Coil, Clock DVA, Chris & Cosey, Paul Haslinger, Karin Park and Robert Rich.
Nicolas Horvath - An unusual artist with an unconventional résumé, pianist and electroacoustic composer Nicolas Horvath is known for his oundariesless musical explorations. Horvath is both an enthusiastic promoter of contemporary music - he has commissioned numerous works (including no fewer than 120 as part of his Homages to Philip Glass project in 2014) and collaborated with leading contemporary composers from around the world, including Alvin Lucier, Mamoru Fujieda, Jaan Rääts, Alvin Curran and Valentyn Silvestrov - and a rediscoverer of forgotten or neglected composers such as Moondog, Nobuo Uematsu, Germaine Tailleferre, François-Adrien Boieldieu, Hélène de Montgeroult, Jean Catoire,Karl August Hermann.”
Utterly absorbing recording of experimental vocalist Yifeat Ziv sounding into the Amazonian rainforest, following from her brilliant contributions to David Toop’s super trippy ‘Apparition Paintings’ from early in 2020
‘Amazonian Traces of Self’ was created as a response to the artist’s experience in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest as part of the Labverde artist residence in 2019. It premiered at a David Toop event at Cafe Oto, and is based on a live performance she made at IKLEKTIK in London. Ultimately it sounds like recordings from another time, place or planet, imagining the rainforest’s inherently complex geometries as a natural sounding board, filter and FX unit where her voice can totally get lost and wander with delirious results. Honestly it sounds like we’ve just undergone a heavy DMT ritual and the forest is speaking to us from all directions.
"The forest reverberates my voice. The density of the trees and the thick canopy reflects sound waves and creates an echo as if I was singing in a closed space, maybe a chapel. I didn’t expect it. This echo feels like a mirror, it feedbacks my vocal intervention, reflecting traces of my own sound pollution in the Amazon’s dense soundscape."
--- Yifeat Ziv
"Yifeat Ziv’s voice has intensity and precision but what I really love about it is a searching quality, the feeling that it questions itself as it moves around in space, so the strength of it is not dogmatism or force but a genuine curiosity about where it goes, how it absorbs and is absorbed by other sounds, objects, materials and emptiness."
-- David Toop
No fewer than three unreleased Mika Vainio works resurface alongside quieter highlights of his catalogue in a 23 years-overdue compilation originally made for an exhibition in Milan.
First commissioned for the Snow Crash exhibition in 1997, ‘Kiteet’ now sees a posthumous release, reminding of Vainio's subtlest solo standouts in the likes of ’Syväys’ and ‘Radio’, sequenced beside three diverse, unreleased gems of the late, great composer at his piercingly focussed and minimalist best - utterly crucial listening for fans of his seminal mid-’90s output circa ‘Metri’ and ‘Olento’ for any Ø head or lovers of C.20th minimalist music.
For the uninitiated, the album serves as a handy primer on Mika’s most pivotal period, aside to his Chicago-inspired techno, when he forged a style of improvised live electronic music that hold up as some of the purest and most hauntingly life-affirming in a generation. The icy 12’ expanse of sliding sine waves describing endless tundra in ’Syväys’ is a total classic, while the 9’s of hypnagogtic drone and ether voices in ‘Radio’ is another, and ‘Halli’ is the closest we’ll come to shivering in an ice cave in the Arctic. We can now add the whistling bleeps and frozen synths of ‘Kiteet, Pt. 1’, and the characteristically cranky grip of its pulsating ‘Pt.2’, from the album’s unreleased highlights, to that list.
DeepChord’s Rod Modell lists and tilts at 140bpm+ in his banging solo debut LP for Tresor
Landing 20 years since his 1st Rod Modell release, ‘The Autonomous Music Project’ for Lunar, the ‘Captagon’ album finds Modell breaking his usual 120bpm sound barrier to go headlong for a classic early Chain Reaction style, nodding to a mid-late ‘90s era when the likes of Monolake, Matrix and Erosion (T++) kept pace with the rest of techno, but also kept it deep and hypnotic as fuck. While it’s quite possible this uplift in energy may leave some of DeepChord’s older audience out of wind, for many others it’s a breath of fresh air to his exhaustively explored style.
Through a simple gesture of pushing the tempo, Modell’s sound instantly becomes more urgent, as though woken from its sluggish reverie and now properly up for some aerobic mysticism. Along with the Chain Reaction nods, there’s clear reference to classic Detroit and related gear, from Mike Grant’s Black Noise to full flight Mills trax and Convextion at his paciest. However, Modell’s grasp of layered, subaquatic dynamics really places ‘Captagon’ in a league of its own, with a rinsed out and rinseable dynamic and traction brilliantly transposed from his fathoms deep catalogue of cv313, Echospace, and DeepChord productions with inexorable velocity.
Best thing he’s done in years, basically.
Liquid blooz bewts from Young Echo’s Jabu, joined again by Jasmine Butt, and now Daniela Dyson for a necessary dose of lowkey soul kissers on their do you have peace? label, somehow joining dots between Tricky, Tirzah, King Midas Sound and Junior Boys
Appearing from the haze of Bristol’s hotbox after that Cali-grade side from Manonmars, and leading on from Jabu’s earlier split with Sunun, ‘Sweet Company’ holds to a perfectly measured line of soothing, downbeat vibes rendered in soft focus dub in a way that genuinely appears to care for your bruised soul right now.
Trust there are no sharp edges to snag on, as the band’s Alex Rendall and Jasmine Butt share dreamily reverberant vocals with Daniela Dyson, pairing their combined range of caramelised and strung-out tones with softly played, hushed production by Rendall and Amos Childs, with the latter effectively serving a more feminine follow-up to his class work on the Manonmars album.
This CD features the original tape session recording (near 30 minutes of deep space exploration) and a near 40 minute rework from variant.
"This is a step in the evolution with the first tape session laying the groundwork for one of Intrusion's dreamiest productions hazes to date. This was the idea stage in where this project was conceptualized and evolved, minimal and subdued. What has not been heard before comes into glimpse via analog circuitry, obsolete synthesis & sequencers coming to life.. Gorgeous plumes of sound evaporate into the ether in these compositions conveying the purest essence and emotion of vintage signal processing, an absolute beautiful analog tapestry."
The Vanity Box Vol. 1 is an anthology of releases by legendary japanese DIY label vanity, active in the late '70s and early '80s.
The box includes 5 CD's. r.n.a. organism - r.n.a. organism meets p.o.p.o.; bgm - back ground music; sympathy nervous - sympathy nervous; sab - crystallization; a compilation of 7" singles.
Vanity Records is a none-more-legendary Japanese label established by music journo Yuzuru Agi in late ’70s Osaka, Japan. Its small but precious and catalogue of bold experiments with rock and electronics is hugely prescient in its scope, and would loosely fall within and expand the term “techno-pop”, which its label owner first coined to describe the futurist sound of Eno-produced bands like Talking Heads and Devo.
The bands featured were all in their nascent stages, covering a spectre. Form the slimy, munted TG-like sleaze impulses of Salaried Man, to rhythmic experiments by Isolation and Kiiro Radical that properly pre-echo Mika Vainio and parallel Conrad Schnitzler, and the scorched earth blues drags of Nishimura Alimoti, or the exquisite late night Dekkard’s apartment ambience of Wireless Sight.
Proper ground zero gear for the heads and fans of owt from YMO to Skaters, Suicide, Animal Collective, proto-techno and early punk wave mutations.
Shinichi Atobe’s entire discography for DDS, totalling 43 tracks / 4 and a half hours of music, assembled on a special edition USB Card housed in a bamboo box in an edition of 200, all material in WAV format.
Despite persistant rumours to the contrary, Shinichi Atobe is not a pseudonym for anyone else, it’s not T++ or Mark Ernestus or Terre Thaemlitz - he’s a producer based in Japan who released the penultimate 12” on the Chain Reaction label back in 2001 and then disappeared until 2014 when the DDS lads tracked him down with a bit of help from the Basic Channel office in Berlin. In the 6 years since, his five albums and EP for the label have created a singular and inimitable body of work, a stripped-down, bare-boned, feelgood template somewhere between classic Chain Reaction and DJ Sprinkles’ deep House classics, with a bit of added weirdness thrown in here and there.
On the USB card - the Ship Scope 12" (originally released on Chain Reaction in 2001, subsequently re-mastered by Matt Colton), Butterfly Effect (2014), World (2016), From The Heart, It's A Start, A Work Of Art (2017), Heat (2018) and Yes (2020).
Totally absorbing 3rd part in Meitei’s prized trilogy capturing lost Japanese moods, following sides of ghost story-telling and elemental sonics with a frayed suite of cut-up rhythms and samples; imagine Dilla meets The Caretaker on an Anime score…
One of the most distinctive and crafty artists we’ve heard emerge from Japan in recent years, Meitei and his absorbing catalogue have granted his listeners access to surreal, forgotten worlds where, for all intents and purposes, the past truly does feel like a foreign - if strangely familiar - land.
It’s been a real pleasure to immerse in the nuance of each of Meitei’s atmospheric sound-worlds, and ‘Kofū’ is a wonderfully unexpected addition to see out the series, contrasting his knack for shaping quietly rustling, melancholic scenes with more frenetic jump-cuts to colourful, but bittersweet, scenarios that subtly pay homage to working class courtesans of the Meiji era (circa late C.19th-early 20th, and Japan’s industrial and political revolution).
Using his art to give voice to dispossessed citizens of Japan’s past, Meitei’s descriptive skills are at their most sensitive, elusive, and affective here. Mottled vignettes of sampled vintage 78s are tiled with smudged & screwed Mica Levi-esque tekkers and collages of pitched-up vocals, old skool Kanye West style on the album’s two ‘Oiran’ works, dedicated to workers of the red light districts, with ‘Sadayakko’ and ‘Nyōbō’ slipping into something like Matt Wand on the MPC with Dilla or Carl Stone, along with an unmissable eight minute dream sequence cut, ‘Himawari’ recalling us the atmospheres of RZA’s Ghost Dog OST.
Grönland present the definitive Harmonia boxset collecting their groundbreaking debut, 'Musik Von Harmonia' (1974), along with 'Deluxe' (1975), 'Live 1974', their Harmonia & Eno '76 album 'Tracks and Traces', and the previously unreleased 'Documents 1975' collection of early live performances.
The short-lived syzygy, extant from 1973 to 1976 and revolving three members - Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius of Cluster with Neu!'s Michael Rother - were responsible for a gentle but pivotal phase shift in German experimental music, and also on a wider scale within the world of new pop, rock and electronic music, thanks to the praise of David Bowie and Brian Eno - the latter of whom would join them for 'Tracks and Traces' as Harmonia & Eno '76.
Their history remains one of the most storied of electronic music; a group of imaginative, innovative German composers seeking to make a new music guided by nature and the stars, accompanied by one of the greatest producers of his generation, Conny Plank, and all at an idyllic location in the countryside of Forst, Lower Saxony, next to the Weser River.
From these lush conditions they vibed out, working with an arsenal of "mobile" recording gear (depicted in the accompanying booklet) to realise some of the most beautiful and influential records of the '70s, from the shimmering ambience of 'Musik Von…' thru the "pop" tone of 'Deluxe', along the motorik trajectories of their 'Documents 1975' recordings, and back to space music with Eno in '76.
An incredible set, grab one while you can.
Breathtaking new studio album from The Necks, saddling up for a glorious route taking in fast flowing polyrhythms and revelatory soundscapes - really one of their strongest in a flawless catalogue that now spans 30 years and with a closing track that once again taps into that Talk Talk thing they do so well...
The now legendary trio have always charted their own path thru the backwoods and wilds of jazz, krautrock and avant terrain, but ‘Three’ sees them head off across topographies that were previously only glimpsed on the horizon. In proper beginning, middle and end sections, they thrillingly cultivate and hack thru dense, lush new worlds of psychedelic sound before arriving at a third-eye dilating interzone, and relieving the psychic tension in a tranquil, bucolic final passage, leaving its participants ravished and refreshed.
Effectively 30 years in the making, if we take in their entire run from 1989’s classic ‘Sex’, via 1994’s ‘Aquatic’ and the singular roil of 2018’s ‘Body’, the triad of finely sculpted works in ‘Three’ are the ultimate combination of the instrumental intuition that binds Tony Buck, Chris Abrahams, and Lloyd Swanton, perfectly accentuated by studio processing from Tim Whitten (engineer) and Doug Henderson (master) that portrays their efforts in the best possible, impossible light and studio magick with frankly astonishing, practically psilocybic results.
It’s genuinely difficult to think of another band who could come up this sort of album after three decades together and for it not to sound like they were playing to hoary fans or trying to recapture something. From the barefoot scramble and cascading rush of ‘Bloom’ to the cavernous wonder of ‘Lovelock’ and bluesy resolution in the marshy delta sprawl of ‘Further’ The Necks effortlessly keep their sound flowing into oceanic, hypnotic grace.
High kitsch Moog fancies reaped from the catalogue of prolific ‘60s songwriter Mort Garson, following reissue of his legendary ‘Plantasia’ with a deeper dive into his archive of saccharine space lounge and new age music
Switching between minute long jingles, cod-baroque and delirious porno soundtracks, it all gets a high reading from our dusty kitsch-o-meter and will surely light up a lot of retro-futuristic fetishists out there. It could all be compared to the likes of Patrick Cowley, Bruce Haack or some Italian library jizz, with outstandingly corny gear tucked away in ‘Geisha Girl’, the throbbing space-disco of ‘Dragonfly’, and a ravishing ‘Theme from Music for Sensuous Lovers Part I (Instrumental)’, plus extra twee baroque whimsy in ‘Rhapsody in Green’ and cartoonish absurdity of his ‘Son of Blob Theme’.
“Music From Patch Cord Productions shows that Garson’s knack was to exist in both worlds, super-commercial and waaay out. He cut delirious minute-long blasts for commercials (as to whether or not they were actually ever aired remains unknown) and spacecraft-hovering études. Were there really account managers out there in the early ‘70s that gave the greenlight to these commercial compositions which seemed to anticipate everyone from John Carpenter to Suicide? What were these campaigns actually for, Soylent Green? Regardless, Mort’s jingle work laid the groundwork for the future. As Robert Moog himself noted: “The jingles were important because they domesticated the sound.” Via Garson’s wizardry, the synthesizer transcended novelty to ubiquity and dominance.
Other curios and questions abound. How did Garson’s arrangement work for Arthur Prysock’s satiny body worship album This Is My Beloved transmogrify into the body-snatcher pulses of “This is My Beloved”? Are the two pieces even related? What is the IATA code for the airport of “Realizations of an Aeropolis”? What denomination is the “Cathedral of Pleasure”? If “Son of Blob” sounds like a hallucinatory melted ice cream truck theme, what on earth does Blob’s father sound like? Every sound wrangled out of that Moog by Garson pushes things further and further out.”
Tamper is another one of those Jim O'Rourke reissues that harks back to his days in the field of academic electroacoustics - and this is one of the earliest sets of recordings to resurface so far, dating back to an original edition on Extreme Records in 1991.
Those of you left slightly perplexed by the overwhelmingly dry, protracted drones O'Rourke experimented with during these years might just find this outing to be a breath of fresh air. Far away from the one-chord temporal suspension of Two Organs, Tamper finds O'Rourke combining with a number of collaborators, using violin, cello, clarinet, oboe, trombone and percussion to weave sophisticated tonal landscapes, wringing all manner of alien sonorities out of the instruments. It never gets too out of hand however, and the essential principals of drone are largely left in tact.
The final piece of the three on the album, 'Ascend Through Unspoken Shadow', is slightly different, taking a more chaotic, micropolyphonic approach, at times sounding like a huge sound mass in which the individual performers are lost in a nebulous whole. Great stuff from the reliably ingenious O'Rourke, and another great example of his more 'difficult' work. Now if he could just get around to following up on Insignificance...
Japan’s masters of rock and noise face off in ravishing, symbiotic form on their 7th collaborative album
Eighteen years since their first meeting on record (‘Megatone’), the hybrid unit clearly have lots more energy to expend on ‘2R0I2P0’, with Merzbow shelling signature, wildly overgrown, high-register noise squall to complement Wata and Takeshi’s shrieking guitars, and lend a sharp tonic contrast with the album’s slower, more melodic moments.
The album’s title translates to ’Twenty Twenty R.I.P.’ and is intended as both an elegy for a shitty year, and a catalyst for change, or as they say: "This work becomes a monument to the requiem of the previous era. From here, a new world begins again." As such they take the full limit of playing time - 78 minutes - to scythe thru strains of pulsating quasar rock and absorbingly harsh electronics, starting out all folksy and soothing with ‘Away from You’ before banking up to sky-clawing guitar leads and clamorous noise, sometimes letting Merzbow set the way ahead, as on the crushing ‘Coma’ and the sensory smother of ‘Jounrey’, and locking into freewheeling metal on ‘Absolutego’, but saving their finest for the two longer pieces of epic terraforming, ‘Evol’, and ’Shadow of Skull.’
Belle and Sebastian present twenty-two live performances featuring songs from across their 25 year career. The recordings showcase the Scottish septet at the height of their power during their 2019 tour, including tracks performed on the band's own Mediterranean cruise, "The Boaty Weekender."
Charming and spirited bass and harp quarantine jams from husband and wife duo Dezron Douglas & Brandee Younger - one for fans of Dorothy Ashby and Alice Coltrane.
"If you haven't lost your mind yet, God is good. If you have lost your mind that's cool too." Dezron Douglas and Brandee Younger's "Force Majeure" was recorded during lockdown, when the husband and wife duo would livestream duets every Friday morning. Douglas is a bassist and producer and Brandee Younger a harpist who's recorded with Lauren Hill and Drake, among others, so they have a pretty solid starting point here. The interplay between the artists is the key though. Sure, they are both adept players, but their lightness and humor is infectious - they even kept some of the back-and-forth banter from the streams (the bickering about how to pronounce "Force Majeure" is extremely cute).
If you're looking for something positive to shine through some of the seemingly-endless grey of lockdown, "Force Majeure" offers a spiritual salve that should appeal to anyone into florid harp-led jazz. Sunny and gorgeous stuff.
A release of 400 original CDs, unavailable for 20 years.
"The Raincoats have offered creative and spiritual inspiration for several generations of artists such as John Lydon, Kim Gordon, Kurt Cobain, Carrie Brownstein, Bikini Kill, Angel Olsen... In 1979, The Raincoats helped shape the timeless notion that punk is what you make it to be - an act of raw expression, not any one sound. Their anarchy was poetic. The group’s debut album ‘The Raincoats’, which Kurt Cobain called “wonderfully classic scripture”, was released by Rough Trade Records at its radical beginnings. In 1992, Kurt’s meeting with Ana da Silva sparked a much-documented relationship with The Raincoats, bringing them back together to play live on Nirvana’s final tour that never was, and inspiring Ana da Silva and Gina Birch to write ‘Looking in the shadows’, their final album, released in 1996 on Rough Trade Records and DGC.
Original CD release from Rough Trade Records in 1996. Recorded at Trident II in August 1995. Produced and mixed by Ed Buller. Backing vocals on ‘Love a loser’ by Buzzcocks’ Pete Shelley. Video of ‘Don’t Be Mean’ directed by Gina Birch. “It was The Raincoats I related to most. They seemed like ordinary people playing extraordinary music. Music that was natural that made room for cohesion of personalities. They had enough confidence to be vulnerable and to be themselves without having to take on the mantle of male rock/punk rock aggression…or the typical female as sex symbol avec irony or sensationalism”. Kim Gordon…
THE sixth record by Pharaoh Overlord - a cataclysmic clash with bewitching results.
"The band’s current duo of Tomi Leppänen and Jussi Lehtisalo first channelled their love of krautrock-damaged monomania into synth-driven motorik soundscapes on 2019’s ‘5’ yet this new exploration is a step way beyond, into a chilly and captivating electronic panorama. Beholden to the melodies and textures of Kraftwerk yet also the cinematic austerity of EBM and the effervescent pulse of classic Italo-pop, it’s further abetted by fierce and corrosive vocals from longtime collaborator and Isis/Old Man Gloom seer Aaron Turner, which stand atop these futuristic serenades not unlike the fevered delivery of a dystopian hellfire preacher.
The result, richly coherent yet startling even for the unpredictable world of this band, arrives like a series of otherworldly epiphanies. The opening ‘Path Eternal’ sets its stall out in style, marrying Moroder and Mayhem with a hint of the apocalypse manifesto of Skinny Puppy lurking in the middle distance. ‘Arms Of The Butcher’ is a strident anthem for a modern pandemonium, ‘Blue Light Hum’ meanwhile comes on like a robotic Neu! summoning end-credits euphoria. And most audaciously of all, ‘Without Song All Will Perish’ takes the urbane yet decadent sound of Voulez-Vous-era ABBA and reinvents it as a venomous disco Gotterdämerrung.
Aaron Turner was sent this material by Tomi and Jussi and initially ask to contribute to two or three songs to a sharp deadline, but the results soon revealed themselves to be so powerful that he ended up writing lyrics for the whole album, his vicious but uplifiting vision taking inspiration from the melodic yet scabrous likes of Killing Joke, Leatherface and Kill The Thrill. “I was also thinking of Drawing Down The Moon era Beherit where the music had gone almost entirely electronic and the only vestige of the metal aesthetic that remained was the vocal style” he notes “That rub of “artificial” music and organic/humanistic/off kilter vocals was intriguing for me.”
Written as the pandemic began to dominate world events in 2020, the resulting emotional turmoil couldn’t help but heavily affect its lyrical slant of this record. 6 has therefore become a record based on separation - the physical distance between the band members themselves, as well as the isolation of the quarantine itself. Yet it’s also a record concerned with finding a way forward amidst the modern cataclysms that surround - channelling negative experience into a positive change.
True to form, like a brightly underlit disco dancefloor flashing out a warning of danger, the alchemical force of 6 is equal parts hedonistic rapture and dark revelation. Let him who have understanding reckon the number of the beat, for it is a human number. Its number is 6."
A reintroduction to one of America's finest ever alternative rock bands, 'Quarantine The Past' coincided with Pavement's long-overdue reunion.
Although there are no exclusives on this 23-track collection, as Domino so rightly state: "it definitely goes deeper than the "hits"." For such a beloved band, a single disc Best Of was always going to present a tricky editing job, and sure there are omissions - no 'Zurich Is Stained', no 'Carrot Rope', for instance. In fact, the band's last LP, Terror Twilight is sorely under-represented given that it's the one Pavement album to not yet receive the deluxe reissue treatment, although making up for those absences are rarities culled from 1989's Slay Tracks 7", the Perfect Sound Forever 10", the Watery, Domestic EP and great B-sides like 'Unseen Power Of The Picket Fence'.
Additionally, old favourites like 'Range Life', 'Cut Your Hair', 'Summer Babe', 'Here', 'Stereo' and 'Shady Lane' are all dotted around the tracklist, ensuring that there's a healthy balance between early lo-fi obscurities and the band's best known classics. If you're looking for a gateway into this seminal band - or even if you're just looking for a quick-fix solution to plugging some gaps in your Pavement collection - this predictably magnificent compilation is a must-have.
Kamasi Washington turns his hand to soundtracking the Michelle Obama documentary based on her memoir, ‘Becoming’ with natural and uplifting classic jazz grace - properly American, like; it’s currently Grammy and Emmy award-nominated
“Kamasi Washington composed and produced the original score for Becoming, the four time Emmy-nominated film that provided an intimate glimpse into the life of Michelle Obama. Produced by Netflix Originals, Becoming documented a moment of profound change for the former First Lady, not only for her personally but for the country she and her husband served over eight impactful years in the White House. Washington, who joined the project in its embryonic stages, provides the powerful musical backdrop.”
Burial’s co-production ‘The Second Spell’, starring Prince and Madonna collaborator Ingrid Chavez closes out a smoky album of deep house soul from UK/US/SA journeyman Charles Webster, whose album as Presence ‘All Systems Gone’ is cited as an influence on Burial for its “pillowy sound”. Also includes vocals by Shara Nelson and an earthy house nugget ‘Music’
“‘Decision Time’ is Charles’ first major solo record since 2001’s ‘Born On The 24th July’, and features an array of artists from a number of different eras, guises and genres Charles has been involved with over his prolific career.
After moving to San Francisco in the late nineties, he created an album under the alias Presence entitled ‘All Systems Gone’. The “pillowy” sound design of this classic is cited as a key influence on the music of Burial. For ‘Decision Time’, Burial has paid a further tribute here, contributing a rare co-production, ‘The Second Spell’. This track featuring the words of Prince muse Ingrid Chavez. who also wrote the spoken word poetry in Madonna’s ‘Justify My Love’.
Charles was at the forefront of the halcyon years of deep house, working with vocal talents like Robert Owens, Tracey Thorn, Terra Deva (aka Furry Freaks), who features here on ‘Wait And See’, and Shara Nelson, perhaps best known for her vocals on Massive Attack’s ‘Blue Lines’ album, featuring here on ‘This Is Real’.
Charles’ influence also spreads to the South African house scene with his Presence single ‘Better Day’ becoming a huge radio hit there in 1997. Charles later moved to South Africa and immersed himself in the local scene, collaborating with some of the country's most exciting talent, including Sio, Thandi Draai and Sipho – all of whom appear on this project.
With an album of this quality and the 20-year cycles of electronic culture, it feels like this is the perfect moment to celebrate the brilliance of Charles Webster’s legacy. From the downtempo soul of ‘This Is Real’, to the impressionistic words and ethereal two-step on ‘The Spell’, a new generation of ears are about to discover the influential underground sound of Charles Webster.”
Spiky-elbowed goth, industrial body music, and sleazy ’80s nuggets plucked from Cherrystones’ crypt and dished up by Touch Sensitive.
Pilot of an ace NTS show and a bigger digger than most, Cherrystones pits another killer haul of personal favourites in his 2nd Critical Mass volume, arranging 15 top grade selections into a dead sexy collection spanning highlights from Paul Lemos’ percussive industrial trampler ‘Hog Rhythm’, to devil’s-dusted swag in Neon’s ‘My Blues Is You (Slow Dub)’ and The Neon Judgement’s ‘Antoine’, thru to jagged post punk by The Mud Hutters, pure dirt from Martin Rössel & The Dum Dum Boys, and a hash-eased comedown in JP 118’s mystic beauty.
Fans of the Light Sounds Dark sets should be all over this lot.
‘Land Waves’, the third album by new minimalists Snow Palms, is the project’s first full length since becoming a duo.
"At times it is like Terry Riley with Lex Baxter in Japan, at others it could be the soundtrack to a meditation centre in neo-Tokyo dreamed up by William Gibson and Brian Eno. Its patterns and textures accelerate and resolve with drama and intent, its abstractions rendered by a distinctive kinetic sound world of mallets and synthesizers conjuring real and imaginary landscapes.
In 2017 Snow Palms originator, the musician, critic and tutor David Sheppard, invited fellow composer, producer and academic Matt Gooderson to formally join the project, after spending time together experimenting in the studio. “We have quite different musical backgrounds but found we were responding to and searching for the same things in music,” explains Sheppard, “Over time, we evolved both a methodology and a signature sound.” The album’s opener ‘Atom Dance’, which is like Martin Denny’s orchestra reinterpreting Steve Reich, crescendos to heart-stirring finale; ‘Everything Ascending’ counts out a human heartbeat before reaching for the stars in glittering synths and galaxies of soaring vocals; ‘Evening Rain Gardens’ is soothing music for a meditation centre from the future.
Title track ‘Land Waves’ is a restrained epic, equal parts vast panorama and decorous motif. The graceful mwoodwinds of ‘Thought Shadow’ express the album’s more reflective moments, while the shifting rhythmic patterns of ‘Kojo Yakei’ evoke the concept it’s named for - a Japanese trend for night-time visits to factories and refineries decorated in lights. Inexorably enveloping closing track ‘White Cranes Return’ is a requiem for twilight, when soft shadows are drawn over a landscape. ‘Land Waves’ is hallmarked by the voice of Matt Gooderson’s partner Megan, who was pregnant with their son during recording sessions. Her empyrean vocals are woven into the tapestry of the album, grounding the music in the human, as glockenspiels, marimbas and clarinets move in lockstep with arpeggiated modular synthesizers and glinting percussion. “Adding the human voice to this sound world adds a generous new dimension and opens up and a whole new vista for Snow Palms,” says Sheppard. “It’s a buoyant and uplifting record, which I love deeply,” agrees Gooderson, “That feeling is much needed in these times of crisis.”
Wolfgang Voigt’s ambient techno evergreen mercifully reissued as a standalone release for the first time since 1997, and its inclusion in the sumptuous Gas ‘Box’ set, now remastered.
Right up there with ambient techno’s greatest slabs, ‘Zauberberg’ is a classic balm for overworked minds and stressed bodies. As the 2nd Gas album, following the project’s eponymous debut, it pressed deeper into a uniquely dense yet diaphanous mixture of ambient and modern classical themes, exploring a breathtakingly lush, Black Forested adjunct to the sort of ambient/dub/techno austerities explored by other contemporary German producers such as Basic Channel, Monolake and the rest of the Berlin cabal surrounding Chain Reaction/Hardwax.
As with all GAS releases, It’s possibly difficult to provide any definitive description of ‘Zauberburg’, as we’ve usually fallen under its spell and towards the pillow, or at least drift off into a half-lidded reverie before it finishes. In that sense, we can only limn it from sub- or unconscious recollections, but the two effectively merge into one, as Voigt’s patented, distanced kicks mirror the soft throb of arteries heard muffled in a pillow, and the strings feel to descend with the inevitability of nightfall, all leading to the same conclusion - your head caressed by the sandman.
For obsessives fiending a fresh copy, or those lucky noobs about to pop their Gas cherry, this album is 100% essential.
Master field recordist, author and sound theorist David Toop presents a poignant, deeply trippy tableaux inspired by Chinese ghost stories and including recordings of his grandpa’s memories of 1901, a blind street group in Chiang Mai, and Ornette Coleman in conversation - wonderfully transitory, metaphysical stuff of rare substance.
From David Toop: What are field recordings? “My memory is not what it used to be, David,” my grandfather, Syd Senior, said to me as we huddled round a fireplace in 1979. Thanks to a cassette tape I have the memory of his gradual loss of memory, hearing him speak of Queen Victoria’s funeral and the severity of patriotism back in those old days, 1901. Syd Senior is long dead, no longer part of the field of living relations but still within the field of memories that can be revived by technology, albeit an old one that squeaks like a mouse, hisses like a cat.
Where is the field? The field is populated by all the ravishing, painful, poignant, nondescript moments of remembered life. Field recordings forget, just as memories forget. My recording of Ornette Coleman forgets that he fell asleep as we were talking together. I sat quietly, waiting for him to wake; the tape machine continued its work, oblivious.
During lockdown, a warm spring day, I sat working in the garden. A small fox appeared close to me, started, retreated into the shelter of plants by my pond. I took a photo with my phone but when I looked at the image no fox was visible. Earlier that day I had been reading Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio, a collection of short stories written by Pu Songling during the course of his life in the late seventeenth/early eighteenth century. In many of these tales, fox spirits inhabit the physical spaces of living humans in a variety of guises. Some are malicious; some benign. Their presence in the material world is wrong and yet accepted as either a temporary nuisance or a blessing that would later be regretted.
“All the memories are very incomplete,” said Annabel Nicolson during a conversation I recorded with her in the early 1990s. “It’s like trying to substantiate something that was important to us . . . When I was younger I thought that didn’t matter. I thought everything could be transient because people would always be creating more . . . when you get older it seems rather different because you realise many wonderful things have just vanished. Which in some ways doesn’t matter but it also means that they can’t be shared with anyone other than those who were there.”