Grammy-nominated South Londoners PVA land on Ninja Tune for their debut album, an electro-forward pop slop of angular electronics and canned disco beats. If you're missing The Gossip, Sophie Ellis Bextor and Factory Floor, enjoy.
PVA's secret weapon is vocalist Ella Harris, whose deadpan tone elevates proceedings. The production falls somewhere between post-punk and disco, but it's those memorable vocals that ping.
Pioneer of contemporary queer rap, Mykki Blanco makes up for a notable absence from a scene they fostered with a 2nd album in two years, flanked by Anohni, Kelsey Lu, Saul Williams, Michael Stipe, Devendra Banhart, Jónsi, and many more notables besides.
Marking a decade since the sea change of the early ’10s and their foundational ‘Cosmic Angel: The Illuminati Prince/ss’ for the crucible of UNO, Blanco’s influential fairy godfather status is reflected in the glittering roll call of guest on ’Stay Close To Music.’ From its anthemic pearl ‘Ketamine’ starring Awful Music’s indie-rap star Slug Christ, to the harmonious duet with Michael Stipe ‘Family Ties’, his bonds are diverse as they are deep with the scene that begat contemporary heroes such as Iceboy Viuolet and Rainy Miller at one end, or Frank Ocean and Arca at the other.
To spotlight some strong moments, folk troubadour Devendra Banhart makes a sterling appearance in the spa-ready chill of ‘You Will Find It’, and Anohni sounds lush against the smoothly stripped back ‘French Lesson’, and, left to their own devices, Mykki keeps it up-to-the-second on the warped drill of ‘Lucky’ and brooding downstroke ‘Trust A Little Bit’.
PUNK 45: I'm A Mess, a new collection of punk and D-I-Y rare 45s from the UK on Soul Jazz Records.
"Soul Jazz Records' long-lasting Punk 45 series are high-quality editions of early punk 45s. While previous editions have focused on LA, Cleveland, Akron, France, and proto-punk, this new edition focuses on mainly self-released 45s made in the UK. While only a handful of Punk 45s were released in 1976, the following two years produced an avalanche of them. Aside from the few punk bands who signed to major labels, many of these singles were self-released private press or independent label 45s. With limited distribution and access to the media, many of these sunk without trace and were lost in history. This album features many of these independent punk 45 gems, lost nuggets of gold from the sea of time!
The bands featured here come from across the UK: you will find The Drive, Scotlands' answer to the New York Dolls, Dansette Damage from Newcastle, Stormtrooper from the Isle of Wight and many more, a snapshot of some of the finest private-press 45s ever made. Other bands include Cybermen, The Exile, Neon, and the early punk incarnations Johnny and The Self-Abusers (who later became Simple Minds) and The Killjoys (with vocals by Kevin Rowland who later formed Dexy's Midnight Runners). These are all one-off and super rare releases from bands that you have probably never heard of! Hidden gems from the wastelands of the early days of punk. Totally in keeping with the spirit of the time, this is high-octane, righteously-independent DIY or die!"
Unleashed vibes from the archives, shelling 30 prime minutes of Can taken from Andrew Hall’s bootleg recordings, made legit by Irmin Schmidt and René Tinner as the latest in a series of live albums.
Chasing up their Stuttgart 1975 testimony, ‘Live in Cuxhaven 1976’ gives up the pioneering band in full flight during their first, inspirational phase, a few years before disbanding. Newly restored from Andrew Hall’s bootleg tapes with the aid of 21st century technology, the session depicts them in lithe form at a peak of their powers, meshing supple groove and wigged out avant tekkerz in a driving funky rock way that would catalyse so many other band in their wake.
Can’s live shows were an extension of their adventurous studio work, stretching out to new horizons in-the-moment with an innovative approach adapted to performance. The four cuts here move from cantering groove and organ swirl tucked tight in-the-pocket, to more sultry and languid echoes of Afrobeat and psychedelic rock freedom in the second part, arriving at a heads-down bluesy drive and rapturous, sky-licking riffs in the third, with a fourth part yoked back to needlepoint, groovesome intricacy that swaggers in the gaps between all the Afro-indebted US-via-UK rock styles of the time with a knowing budge.
Starkly solemn manicured Americana folk from Colorado singer-songwriter/producer Logan Farmer, burnished with Mary Lattimore’s harp, and sax by Joseph Shabason.
Imbued with the ambience of his neighbourhood, a la Ernest Hood, thanks to subtle field recordings, ‘A Mold for the Bell’ spells out the daily journeys of Logan Farmer form home to his job in a bookshop, passing church bells where he mulled over his lyrics and fully indulged his quiet inner life via headphones.
Grammy-nominated producer Andrew Berlin aided in its production, which built on home-brewed sketches with filigree layers of harp and sax that wreath Farmer’s hushed delivery with gold leafed textures. It all came together against the backdrop of wildfires, an insurrection, and the pandemic, with the artist making reference to Tarkovsky’s existentialism in a way that we struggle to hear amid the relative warmth and soporific wooliness of the music and his slightly icky delivery.
The original soundtrack for the British film 'Surge' by Tujiko Noriko and Paul Davies.
"Directed by Aneil Karia and starring Ben Whishaw, the film is set in London over twenty-four hours and is a stripped back thriller about Joseph. A man who goes on a bold and reckless journey of self-liberation.
The album consists of sixteen tracks and presents the soundtrack in a non-conventional form. Sound design and composition are presented side by side as equal components in the score. The tracks alternate between sound design and compositon except for the three tracks Tujiko and Davies collaborate on together."
A fitting tribute to the ladies who proved an integral component of the Dodd formula.
Like the jamaican motown, Clement early on relied on strong jamaican ladies who provided massive support in the Studio one machine, as record shop staff, in the pressing plant, even his ma took care of deejaying duties on Coxsone's sound when he was away in New York! Rita pre-Marley really shocks out here in her first manifestation as part of The Soulettes, on the awesome "Deh Pon Dem". Providing a backbone to the session crew, figures like Enid Cumberland, Marcia Griffiths, Jennifer Lara all provided staunch performances on many many sessions throughout Studio one's auspicious history. Numerous lesser known names shine through here - Jerry Jones runs down the jamaican super-funk on "There's a chance for me", one of those guaranteed floor-fillers no self respecting party, reggae or funk jock should be without. Hortense Ellis' class extended gender changed discomix version of her brother's "I'm just a guy / girl" is a particluar highlight, the version going whole new places. Jennifer Lara's closer "I am in love" provides several indicators of future tendencies in boogie, dub and the whole garage new york movement. Self-evidently splendid material throughout, beautifully delivered as always.
Japanese indie-pop duo Tenniscoats' 2007 album Tan-Tan Therapy, originally released in 2007, remastered for 2022.
"Made with musical and production help from Swedish post-rock/folk trio Tape and originally released on Häpna, Tan-Tan Therapy is a beautiful document of the exploratory music made by a close-knit collective of musicians, fully at ease with each other, playing songs written by Tenniscoats and arranging them in gentle and generous ways.
Filled with graceful pop songs, autumnal folk tunes, and gentle yet risk-taking improvisations, Tan-Tan Therapy was the first Tenniscoats album to be released in Europe, after a run of albums on Japanese labels. It was also the first recorded evidence of their collaboration with the three members of Tape and that group’s extended musical family. It opens with one of Tenniscoats’ signature songs, the pop fantasia of Baibaba Bimba, with Tenniscoats singer Saya repeating a light-headed incantation over joyous brass. The essence of Tenniscoats is contained in Baibaba Bimba: uplifting melody and playful musicianship, tinged with distant echoes of winsome melancholy.
Throughout, you can sense the deep empathy the members of Tenniscoats and Tape have for one another. It’s a conversational, tender and, at times, fragile music that can only be created out of mutual trust and kindness, with each of the players contributing to the community of sound they’re building."
Gorgeous garage soul compendium by Naarm’s always reliable Efficient Space - a masterstroke of curation and narration by Swiss picker Ivan Liechti, embracing the most melancholic midnight feels wrapped up with a tattered ribbon bow. Wow
“A North American road trip of coming of age garage soul mapped by Ivan Liechti, Ghost Riders is Efficient Space’s latest narrative compilation, hovering in a liminal emotional ravine between moonlight melancholy, teenage heartache and unchecked, unrealised ambition. Across 17 open hearted ballads recorded 1965-1974, the 2LP collects and connects dots between British Invasion fanatics, child prodigies, the loners and the luckless, in a kind of trans-continental survey of those swept up in rock’n’roll mania and buoyed by local newspaper ads promising fame and gold records.
From the tangerine dreams of 8th grade all-girl combo The Mod 4 to the tri-state jukebox aspiring echoes of The Tempters, The Yardleys' poetic Farfisa vamp and lilting folk pop, and The Landlords’ weepy break up b-side blues, these are mostly one shots by dreamers whose experience was brief before being checked back to the reality of suburban normality and realistic career options. Hailing from the regional backwaters of Illinois, Arkansas, Nevada, Massachusetts, Ohio, Idaho, Texas and beyond, the licensed artists were scouted by way of local fire departments, spiritualist fellowships and animal welfare centres, often barely a stones throw from where their contributions were originally laid.
A barely teenage Dennis Harte's ‘Summer’s Over’ perhaps best taps the collection’s essence. A gut-wrenching lament of the passing of the season as if it was the last on earth. Flanked by players from The Left Banke, Harte, a now-piano tuner to the stars, is from the minor segment that found longevity in showbiz. Likewise with Michigan icon Lyn Nowicki who cast her ghostly voice over Beatles cover song chameleons The Common People and Jerry McGee, The Ventures member and conduit of Dr. John’s ‘Twilight Zone’.
Ghost Riders simmers with the scent of youthful summers, the pang of schoolyard romance, and the excitement (and disenchantment) of teenage naïveté, delivered via a deceptively simple and frequently wonky garage band set up. The vision of record collector and graphic designer Ivan Liechti, these eternal psych-folk howlers are further crystallised by Colin Young’s fastidious audio restoration, the original artwork of Elise Gagnebin-de Bons and an aptly penned foreword from Sonic Boom.”
Gerald Donald and To-Nhan touch down on Leisure System with another wormhole-piercing set of burnished sci-fi electro, continuing the sprawling chronicle inked by Kraftwerk, Drexciya, UR, Aux88 and Model 500. Nobody else does it quite like this.
Shapeshifting production genius Gerald Donald - aka Heinrich Mueller, Japanese Telekom, Rudolf Klorzeiger, and XOR Gate - is responsible for far too many cyber electro tomes, yet is still able to churn out weapons-grade material at an alarmingly regular pace. 'Neurotelepathy' is the latest offering from the long-running Dopplereffekt project - a collaboration between Herr Klorzeiger and his partner Michaela "To-Nhan" Bertel - following 2018's excellent "Athanatos" EP and a handful of self-released singles. Thematically, the album picks up where its predecessors left off, reclining robotically into an ordered web of analog circuits and gliding square waves - a place where Jean-Michel Jarre's weightless harmonies and Juan Atkins' machine-powered funk exist together in holographic harmony.
The bizarre 'Epigenetic Modulation' cracks the album open with unexpected angularity, augmenting Christina Vantzou's treatments and techniques with Dopplereffekt's glazed electronic precision. It's an abstraction of the usual processes, and removes the anticipated rhythmic snap, drenching choral wails in an acid bath of squelching synths and bleeping machinery. 'Transgenerational epigenetic inheritance' offers a disembodied cybernetic voice announcing coolly, as swirling gusts coax malfunctioning technology. Within moments, we're shuttled into a more familiar Doppler location, shoring up in a landscape of twitchy electroid rhythms, titanium arpeggios and vocal echoes on 'Neural Impulse Actuator - Mirror Neuron'. Like the best of Herr Klorzeiger and To-Nhan's catalog, it seethes with a neon dancefloor energy - hip-jerking body music that's constructed with future vision.
'Neurotelepathy' finds stability between narrative storytelling and foot-shuffling technoid thrust. Nothing new to regular listeners, but there's a luster to the album that gives it an air of freshness, rendered with colors that prevent it from being locked into a specific spectrum. Like all the best Dopplereffekt records, it balances its futuristic world-building with an unhinged machine funque and no small amount of humor. By the time you reach the hypnotic closer 'EEG', you'll be willingly lost in a cyberpunk dystopia.
Gilla Band (fka Girl Band) used lockdown's excessive free time to distort "Most Normal" into their most industrial and experimentally minded album yet, mangling each song into noisy assemblages of post-Fall vocals and gravel-gargling noise backdrops.
We were already sold by Gilla Band's prior catalog: their silt dragged DIY pop felt necessary in a musical landscape pocked with pallid precision and wrung-out, algorithmic nostalgia. 'Most Normal' shuttles their sound into fresh terrain, just about, folding in new influences and allowing them to shape their songs into choppy abstraction, hitting rhythmic blasts against Nurse With Wound-inspired sewage pipe ambiance. Opener 'The Gum' doesn't leave much to the imagination, firing machine-gun rimshots over searing feedback and noise grot; a song eventually rises from the burnt out remains, screamed by frontman Dara Kiely and stuttered into CD-stuck psychedelic absurdity. There's the trace of a post-punk anthem in there somewhere, teased into its constituent elements by the band and distorted into manic screaming distortion that, before it draws to a close, mutates into a comedic cartoonish routine.
Gilla Band hit a more coherent note on 'Backwash', matching a motorik beat with Kiely's incessant vocals and the kind of atonal sonic blasts that feel like a wrecking ball hitting an unblemished surface. It's the bass on this one that really gets us though: focus yer hearing and there's a synth wobble in the background that lends the track its unmistakable groove. This obscuring of elements and obstruction of form is what Gilla Band do best - at their core they're an avant-pop band, but their musical literacy and desire to innovate allows them to crack each song down the middle and work out what needs to stay and what needs to go. Sometimes it's just color and texture, sometimes it's rhythm, sometimes it's a basic tune; inevitably we're left with the scars and skeletal remains of music we just about recognize, daubed in contemporary two-tone paint that lends the art its modern edge.
The band are at their best when they give themselves time to chug through ideas with a sense of grandeur and epic narrative building. On 'The Weirds' we're ushered through a few minutes of Christian Marclay-esque noise in the first act before the track builds and builds until it sputters and collapses into squealing, disorientating rhythmic discomfort. If yr into Sonic Youth, The Body, Lightning Bolt, Black Dice, Liars or even This Heat, you'll love this.
The Bobby Lees' thirteen track full-length, Bellevue, on Ipecac Recordings.
"Iggy Pop, Debbie Harry, Henry Rollins…these are just a few of the punk icons who have shown support for Woodstock, NY based band The Bobby Lees. Sam Quartin [vocals, guitar], Macky Bowman [drums], Nick Casa [guitar], and Kendall Wind [bass] — make music that is punk in spirit and soul; unfettered and resolutely honest. To say their sound is wild and untethered is an understatement. It's the kind of aural exorcism any listener can tap into, something that struck a chord with Henry Rollins who brought them to Ipecac Recordings where Mike Patton and Greg Werckman signed them.
The Bobby Lees initially made waves with full length albums Beauty Pageant  and Skin Suit —which was produced by Jon Spencer. They then decamped to Sputnik Sound in Nashville to record Bellevue, their debut Ipecac album – live in the studio - with producer Vance Powell [Jack White, Chris Stapleton, The Raconteurs]."
Daphni aka Caribou aka Dan Snaith releases Cherry on his own Jiaolong label.
"Whether in the studio or the club, Daphni has always been a pursuit where Dan Snaith lets the music find its own path. With Cherry this is more evident than ever, this sense of the tracks as objects with life and desires outside of Snaith’s control has now become a driving force in their creation.
Recorded over a prolonged period, Snaith let the music go where it wanted to go. It wasn’t until he put everything he’d been tinkering with together that he realised what he had. "It's weird that when the tracks were put in what felt like the right order it took on a new coherence" he says, "where it pings quickly from one idea to the next and, at least for me, hangs together in way that feels unified. Maybe because it's hard to avoid the musical fingerprints I leave on the music I make, whether I want to or not.""
A companion album to last year's 'Phosphenes', 'Galaxy Heart' matches Moss's vocals, violin and electronics with spiky percussion from Dirty Three's Jim White and bass from Godspeed's Thierry Amar.
Like its foggy predecessor "Phosphenes", Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra's Jessica Moss wrote "Galaxy Heart" in lockdown, channeling her stifled energy into a sequence of songs that encapsulated the complexity of her emotional state. Finding a personal mid-point between folk, rock, experimental music and heady ambient textures, Moss is able to tightrope walk through precarious territory. Her most successful moments are the least expected ones: 'Is There Room For All Of It' is an early highlight, a carnivalesque patter of drums (from Dirty Three's Jim White, who recorded the material remotely), organs and vocals that sounds like a lost cue from Angelo Badalamenti's underrated "City of Lost Children" soundtrack.
The lengthy title track is another important moment that catches Moss at a creative crossroads. The smoldering electric folk that rooted her work with Silver Mt. Zion is unveiled completely here, but calmed with oddball industrial percussion and swirling Grouper-esque vocals. When Moss leans into her folk inspirations the album is even more arresting - our favorite moment is 'Undirected', an early-modern violin short that carries a sad soul across choppy seas.
Bonny Light Horseman's sophomore album "Rolling Golden Holy".
"Bonny Light Horseman’s self-titled debut was a folk masterclass, reimagining centuries-old standards with effortless grace and wonder. Those Grammy-nominated, list- topping recordings not only suggested renewed possibilities for aging songbooks but also marked the arrival of a trio fully capable of reorienting the wider folk landscape. Still, if it felt at all like the work of some short-lived supergroup or a one-off diversion (it never was), Rolling Golden Holy rebuffs the notion with preternatural beauty and charm, and imagination. These songs, all originals, follow the paths of the traditional tunes the band cherishes to new frontiers, the sounds and situations of history given the gravity and shape of now. This is a band working at the edge of modern folk.
After the release of their debut, Anaïs Mitchell, Josh Kaufman, and Eric D. Johnson began discussing their next steps, loosely planning on writing and recording stints. Those sessions were delayed for all the unpredictable but now-familiar reasons until the Spring of 2021, when the trio reconvened with their families in tow in upstate New York. Their chemistry remained intact. Johnson’s wife Annie had listened to him work with dozens of collaborators over the decades, but, listening in from one room over, she noted he’d never seemed so at ease and productive as he was with Kaufman and Mitchell in Woodstock. They were perfecting “California,” a timely and incorruptible classic about moving on in search of something else, something more. These sessions were a series of “yes, and” encounters, each one encouraging the others to take an idea and run with it further to the new safety net they’ve built together, for one another."
Reissue of 'Odyssey Of The Oblong Square', one of Steve Reid's most sought after albums.
Issued via Reid's own Mustevic Sound imprint in 1977, the album features bassist David Wertman, percussionist Mohammad Abdullah, trumpeter Ahmed Abdullah and Saxophonists Arthur Blythe and Charles Tyler. Reid's music needs no introduction to contemporary audiences; the legendary drummer and band leader was more prominent than ever in the years before his untimely death in 2010, collaborating with Four Tet's Kieran Hebden on a succession of releases as well as being the subject of an extensive reissuing campaign.
"Drummer legend extraordinaire, Vietnam conscientious objector, ex- Black Panther, Steve Reid has played with everyone from James Brown to Sun Ra, Fela Kuti and Miles Davis, was a friend of John Coltrane, worked at Motown and, in the latter part of his career, worked extensively with Kieran Hebden, following his path of a radical, revolutionary music up until his untimely death in 2010. Soul Jazz Records are re-releasing this rarest release of deep heavyweight jazz by Steve Reid and The Master Brotherhood, entitled ‘Odyssey of the Oblong Square’, first released over thirty five years ago on Steve Reid’s own Mustevic Sound record label (where it came out in an edition of 1000 copies) and has been a serious collector’s album ever since.
Steve Reid became known worldwide for his radical collaborations with Kieran Hebden after they first recorded together on the Steve Reid Ensemble album, ‘Spirit Walk’, released on Soul Jazz in 2005, releasing five joint releases together in the following years. Steve Reid is steeped in musical history and a true pioneer of US deep leftfield jazz. He played in Sun Ra’s Arkestra, was a Motown session drummer and backed James Brown at the Apollo. He was a Black Panther, imprisoned during the Vietnam war as a conscientious objector and lived in Africa in the early 1970s. Reid worked with Freddie Hubbard, Gary Bartz, Ornette Coleman, Lester Bowie, Fela Kuti, Leon Thomas, Miles Davis and many more in his long illustrious and groundbreaking career."
Italian composer Bruno Bavota and Dutch songwriter Chantal Acda collaborate on A Closer Distance.
"Bavota was already a fan of Acda’s dreamy, orchestral folk, and in Bavota’s intimate, picturesque piano compositions, Acda saw a potential for collaboration that was begging to be explored. As it would happen, the inherent loneliness and isolation of the COVID-19 pandemic would provide a most unusual opportunity to craft an album together without ever being ion the same room.
Originally conceived as a brief two- or three-song EP, A Closer Distance is the result of a month of seemingly endless and effortless creative connections between Bavota and Acda. Spawned from the opening piano phrase that became the album’s title track, the nine songs that make up A Closer Distance were written and recorded by Bavota and Acda in their respective homes.
Mostly built around Bavota’s solitary piano arrangements and Acda’s layered, ethereal vocals, the songs on A Closer Distance reflect the intimacy and tranquility of their conception. It is a magical collection that connects to the listener with the same air of comfort and familiarity that inspired its creation."
'Variations: A Movement In Chrome Primitive' available on a 2CD edition.
As a peer of Ryuichi Sakamoto and with a sound that has gone on to influence the likes of Mark Evan Burden, Basinski deals in miasma draped compositions that unfurl like an unhurried cat.
Mixing waves of ambient detritus with glimpses of more concrete structures, Basinski snags the ear through ethereal webs of sound that straddle the line between dream-flecked soundscapes and timeless piano, then makes sure you don't want to leave. Aural balm; utterly immersing and totally lovely.
Hotly tipped indie shapeshifter Bartees Strange breathes new life into jangly indie on his sophomore album, drizzling D'Angelo-like R&B into Bon Iver's slick outsider pop and capturing the flickering, twisted energy of early TV on the Radio in the process.
Strange's debut album "Live Forever" introduced the DC musician to an indie landscape that was gasping for new energy. With just a handful of tracks he proved he was up to the task, blending smart wordplay and smart hybridized rap formula with supple songwriting, memorable riffs and innovative production. He continues the journey on his 4AD debut, seemingly expressing a desire to absorb an entire record collection of ideas, jumping from memorable radio pop ('Mulholland Dr.') to summery dancefloor anthems ('Wretched'), dissonant alt-rap ('Cosigns') and tangled folk ('Tours').
And while it's hard to pin Strange down to one sound or another, his voice - and more importantly his content - ties everything to the present, giving us a uniquely poetic vision of Black America in the 2020s that's unflinchingly real and unashamedly honest. Hold out until the end and we're even treated to a ferric D'Angelo tribute with 'Hennessy'.
Esmerine is a project founded by ex-Godspeed You! Black Emperor percussionist Bruce Cawdron and cellist Rebecca Foon (Saltland, Silver Mt Zion, Set Fire To Flames), and has long embroidered emotive chamber works using threads of post-classical, post-rock, Minimalism, neo-Baroque, jazz, pop and a wide array of folk traditions.
"Esmerine conjures a distinctive and immediately identifiable sound that consistently defies the trappings of “fusion”, forging emotive cinematic soundtracks under the overriding sonic sensibilities of postpunk grit, Wall-of-Sound, drone and dark ambient.
Everything Was Forever Until It Was No More completes Esmerine’s “Anthropocene” triptych: a series of album-length meditations that began in 2015. The album grapples with existential tensions between atmosphere and airlessness, seclusion and claustrophobia, forbearance and satiation, scarcity and abundance; it is one of Esmerine’s most restrained and wistful works. Instrumental densities ebb and flow, melding into each other with gauzy timbral warmth, sometimes tracing fleeting tendrils outwards, but always rotating around the saturnine gravitational force of a darkly glowing sonic center."
The third collaborative album by Japanese free music provocateur Keiji Haino and expressionist metal trio SUMAC.
"Haino and the three members of SUMAC navigate a series of spontaneous compositions in front of an attentive audience, with no prior discussions or planning for the direction of the music. While all four participants agree that the session documents a particularly circuitous journey from discord to synchronicity, they also agree that the recording finds the quartet navigating the push-and-pull of creative interplay with bolder strides and stronger chemistry. Recorded on May 21, 2019, at the Astoria Hotel on Vancouver BC’s notorious East Hastings Street as a one-off performance during a short North American tour for Haino, the six compositions showcase a musical unit bouncing ideas off of one another, mining a trove of textures and timbres from their armory to buoy and bolster these living and breathing pieces. Like so many albums documenting free music, the thrill here is in the tight rope walk, the wavering moments of uncertainty, and the ecstatic moments of shared brilliance.
The album opens with “When logic rises morality falls Logic and morality in Japanese are but one character different,” a pensive exploration of melody spearheaded by Aaron Turner’s fractured arpeggiated guitar chords. It’s a song of harmonious tension, with Haino providing melodic counterpoints on his guitar while the rhythm section ebbs and flows in the background, occasionally hammering out a punctuation mark or shaking out a warning rattle. Drummer Nick Yacyshyn and bassist Brian Cook step to the forefront on track two, “A shredded coiled cable within this cable the sincerity could not be contained.” For the first two-and-a-half minutes, it sounds like Yacyshyn is beating some electric beast, with sporadic drum bombardments corresponding to the howls and groans of a square-wave throated animal. Blasts of guitar static join the fray until everything gravitates to a magmatic center. It’s a scorched earth principle heard on their debut studio collaboration American Dollar Bill – Keep Facing Sideways, You’re Too Hideous to Look at Face On (Thrill Jockey Records, 2018), but the quartet has found a broader shared language since their first joint venture. Look no further than the title track of Into this juvenile apocalypse our golden blood to pour let us never to hear an ensemble who can wrangle a wide emotional bandwidth out of guitar squall. Like a sonic equivalent to a magic eye poster, the attentive listener who allows their focus to hover just above the roaring banks of distortion will see unexpected dimensions and vistas beneath the seemingly monochromatic patterns.
The tension reaches its apex with “Because the evidence of a fact is valued over the fact itself truth??? becomes fractured,” where the ensemble percolates around a hushed guitar drone. Ripples of drums, auxiliary guitar trills, and Haino’s spontaneous incantations and proclamations give the track a narrative arc. Tension yields to release on “That fuzz pedal you planted in your throat, its screw has started to come loose Your next effects pedal is up to you do you have it ready?” as the ensemble unleashes the kind of guitar mangling and rhythmic battery one would expect from the pairing of Keiji Haino and SUMAC. The album wraps up with the wounded dirge “That ‘regularity’ of yours, can you throw it further than me? And I don’t mean ‘discarding’ it,” where Haino’s gale force guitar blankets Turner’s lugubrious de-tuned bottom string bombardments and Yacyshyn’s drum lashings.
As with American Dollar Bill and Even for just the briefest moment, Into this juvenile apocalypse our golden blood to pour let us never is an unfiltered and undoctored document of a specific moment in time. There are equipment failures. There are ideas left dangling in the ether. There are the technical handicaps of recording in a dingy hotel dive bar in a bad neighborhood as opposed to the optimal acoustics of a proper recording studio. But there is also an electricity in the air, and a continuous sense of creative elation and goosebump-inducing inspiration. It’s an hour-long exercise in seeking out happy accidents and reveling in the wreckage."
The Sea And Cake's Sam Prekop continues his voyage into experimental electronics, using a Prophet 5 and beefy modular setup to eke out where Chicago might fit into the kosmische synth canon. RIYL Tangerine Dream, Jim O'Rourke, Keith Fullerton Whitman.
Since 2010's "Old Punch Card", Sam Prekop has set down his guitar in favor of a modular synth system that's been central to albums like 2015's "The Republic" and 2020's "Comma". While he's still best known for his influential presence in Chicago's 1990s post-rock landscape, alongside Tortoise and Chicago Underground Duo, he's now built up a solid reputation in the electronic realm - and "The Sparrow" might be his most daring record to date.
On the 17-minute title track, Prekop fiddles with rhythm, melody and space in a way that's no longer divided from his Chicago roots - at times it sounds like Jim O'Rourke jamming with Raymond Scott, rough edged and experimental but soothing too. Prekop's other tracks are more compact but just as engaging: 'Step and Stair' is ominous and stark, and the clear highlight 'Fall is Farewell' (influenced by Michael Smalls' soundtrack to "Klute") is a rainy, cinematic earworm that's as immaculate as Tangerine Dream's Michael Mann soundtracks. The album ends on its most cheerful note, with the playful (and certainly Radiophonic Workshop-inspired) 'Palm'.
Singular, groundbreaking Indonesian duo Senyawa alloy with a unit of heads led by Room 40 capo Lawrence English for a mighty exorcism of lockdown energies.
After the rhizomic dissemination of Senyawa’s ‘Alkisah’ album via some 41 labels in ’21, the pairing of Wukir Suryadi & Rully Shabara test out a battery of new, custom-built instruments to potently psychedelic effect on ‘The Prey And The Ruler’. Overdubbed and recombined with chops by Lawrence English (organ, electronics), Helen Svoboda (double bass & voice), Peter Knight (trumpet, Revox B77 tape), Joe Talia (drums), and Aviva Endean (clarinets & harmonic flute), the recordings open Senyawa’s practice along new vectors of investigation and into new spaces of the febrile imagination, with the expanded assortment of Australian counterparts reacting to the unusual tonalities of the duo’s self-built instrumentation in fascinating, intensive ways.
Centring on Wukir Suryadi’s industrial mutant instrument, and possessed by Rully’s incantations, Senyawa’s mystic votives achieve new depth and space at the hands of their collaborators. The four parts scale in range and intensity from resounding atmospheric space and industrial jazz impulses on the first track, to the astonishing 20 minute sprawl of the 2nd, coming off like an imaginary adjunct to Scott Walker & Sunn 0))) soundtracking ‘Hard to Be a God’.
A process of sharing phone video clips of the new instruments being forged, and the reaction of the English-instigated ensemble, results in a shared noumenal space somewhere above the Timor Sea and Indian Ocean: traversing the skyborne alien tones of ‘Mangsa Dan Penguasa (The Prey and the Rulers)’; jungle canopy-stepping spirits in ‘Perburan (The Hunt); and a sort of thrumming goth-rock kosmiche animism in ‘Perjamuan (The Supper)’, before the gobsmacking B-side ‘Memangsa Penguasa (The Prey on Rulers)’ renders Rully like an uncanny familiar of Jhonn Balance set amid forests of metallic clangour and gnawing, spectralist, phantom presences conjured by the attuned mass.
A remastered edition of Clark's 2006 album 'Body Riddle', alongside a companion record, '05-10', that compiles new material, unreleased tracks and rarities from the period, brought together on 'Body Double'.
"Now regarded as something of a classic in the Clark catalogue, Body Riddle has been cited by producers including Arca, Rustie and Hudson Mohawke as being an influential record. Writing for The Quietus back in 2014, Ed Gillett commented: “It's no hyperbole to say that Clark's 2006 LP Body Riddle is one of electronic music's unheralded masterpieces, its layers of heat-warped melodies, flickering textures and muscular drumming (played by Clark himself) creating a beautiful and unstable mixture of violence and wistfulness. Its production is immaculate, almost inhumanly so, swaddling the listener in midrange before pummelling them viciously, shifting seamlessly between organic instruments and impossible, vertiginous sound design.”
Recorded during a period the producer was living in the Midlands city of Birmingham in the UK, shortly before leaving for Berlin, Clark recalls the genesis of the album: “I can remember that period as getting really into krautrock and spending the day drumming on pillows along to Can records for six hours a day, when I think of that record that’s what I think of.”
Striking up a friendship with local band (and Warp labelmates) Broadcast was also a key factor: “They lived about ten minutes from me and I borrowed James Cargill’s drum kit and some mics of his, and all of the drums on that album are his old drum kit. There were some jams that me and James had, there’s one at the end of ‘Roulette Thrift Run’ which is basically just him on guitar and me plundering away on some drums, and I just pitched it up. Broadcast weren’t really in my circle of friends at the time but going to their place was sort of like a holiday from my normal social life, and I just loved it. Both Trish and James were both so full of wisdom, but I wasn’t really in with their scene of people at all, I’d just go there on my own and listen to records and have cups of tea.”
Broadcast also feature on an improvised version of ‘Herr Barr’ that was only previously available as a download on the Clark website. It has been compiled alongside other sought after rarities and unreleased material that related to Body Riddle on the new 05-10 collection. Clark explains a bit more about the tracks on it:
“It is that thing of collecting things that would otherwise be lost to the internet and wanting to put a shell around it. It’s important to do because I really love some of that material. I suppose what I love is some of those processes, there’s a modular jam called ‘Boiler The Wick’ that I just had all my gear setup and was recording like five modular tracks a day. I still miss that time because my studio is very different today and I’m slightly sick of modular because everyone’s got modular and everyone’s doing it, but this was like ten years ago and I can’t really say it’s connected to Body Riddle exactly, but it feels like a companion piece of sorts. For example that ‘Boiler The Wick’ track has a very similar energy to ‘Re-Scar Kiln’ and it feels like it could be from the same world.
The Throttle Furniture EP was 2005, and some of those tracks could have gone on Body Riddle but they would have took it in a more clubby direction, so it felt good to put a fence around them and just use those for live shows. Around the time of the Body Riddle live shows I was playing those tracks out a lot in various forms. So tracks like ‘Urgent Jel Hack’ were written before Body Riddle was finished, that was me getting into Valve and Dillinja and loving that stuff as well.
The more beatless, reflective pieces that are included connect to my recent album on Deutsche Grammophon, and also other ambient pieces I’ve done for Warp, they’ve been peppered throughout my back catalogue. ‘Sparrow Arc Tall’ is like a cousin of ’Springtime Epigram’ or ‘Dew On The Mouth’, it’s that vibe of something captured on 4-track and rendered in a session. So they all feel connected to that family of pieces, and it’s nice giving people ten more tracks after however many years.”
In conclusion, looking back on Body Riddle with 16 years of hindsight, Clark reflects: “I feel really good about it, it’s interesting hearing it again. It seems to be an album that meant a lot to some people and be a significant record, but for me it is just another album of mine.
It is a bit of a blueprint for how things have gone with my music since then, because it’s just so dynamic and all over the place and messy, but intentional, and the mess feels deliberate and the accidents feel illuminating and exciting, and that’s a spirit that I think I always want to capture in music. You know when you hear music that is less than the sum of its parts, and it should work because everything’s tidy and in its place but something doesn’t work? I think I always aspire to make music that’s more than the sum of its parts, that shouldn’t really work but it does, and that’s such a magical quality. I don’t know whether the record has that or not, but the album is certainly the result of trying to be like that, all of these diverse styles sitting alongside each other but the overall album makes it coherent.
I’ve always tried to write albums rather than tracks for streaming services. I’m always going to be an album artist whether the form’s alive or only loved by a hundred people on the planet, for me it’s still the ultimate form of expression. An album’s a perfect length of time, it’s like a short story, you can do it in a sitting and it’s not too much. With an album you can just go for a walk and have it in your headphones, and Body Riddle is that classic ‘go for a walk and listen to an album in one go’ kind of record. It’s not trying to be a club record, it’s pure listening music.”"
Key Ghost Box familiar, Cate Brooks returns to the hauntological research centre with her first new venture as The Advisory Circle since 2018 - a masterfully nostalgic evocation of library music, sci-fi themes, early electronica. RIYL Wendy Carlos, Boards of Canada, Carl Craig, Ernest Hood
Leading down the garden path from her Café Kaput album ‘Maritime (Themes & Textures)’, and contributions to The Pattern Forms album ‘The Scenic Route’ for Belbury Music already in 2022, Brooks’ is left to her own devices with classic-sounding results on ‘Full Circle.’ Retro-futurist goggles firmly on, they scan visions of the past’s promise in 17 succinct parts that toggle the nostalgia nozzle between blissed melancholia and euphoric motorik electro kosmiche, with neatly flowing track sequencing allowing for an underlying narrative to emerge from implied instrumental gestures.
While it’s maybe nothing new, the album is a resounding refinement and distillation of what makes The Advisory Circle tick. The cinematic fanfare of her titular opener gives way to synth folk mysticism on ‘Wait here Now’ and burnished echoes of The Conet Project in ‘Autres Voix’, with charming slugs of serpentine electro for sexy boffins in ‘Russian Doll’ and Schulman left in ‘Blueprint.’ The tangy melody and strutting energy of ‘Fit For Purpose’ dials up days fixed in front of a flickering tub-lit telly playing early computer games while ‘Away Days’ and ’The Architecture’ even recalls the sultriest Carl Craig, saving the frothed choral voices of ‘Sky Court’ and bedroom eyes of ‘The Luxury Spectrum’ for dessert (surely fruit cocktail and blancmange on quivering skin, or MD-infused brie).
Disco Reggae Rockers features reggae disco versions of funk, soul and disco classics, with reggae covers of classic songs by Earth, Wind and Fire, Michael Jackson, The Isley Brothers, Candi Staton, Curtis Mayfield and more as performed by Derrick Harriott, Devon Russell, Hortense Ellis, Glen Adams, Dave Barker and others.
"The lineages of American soul and disco music on the one hand and Jamaican reggae on the other are so intertwined that its unsurprising that disco reggae – or reggae disco if you prefer – is such a winning and straightforward combination. American and Jamaican music has been influencing each other back and forth for many decades, and is one reason that the music of Diana Ross, Curtis Mayfield, the Isley Brothers and numerous other US soul artists is so widely appreciated in Jamaica.
The most-straightforward definition of ‘Disco Reggae’ is to describe it as American disco and soul songs covered by reggae artists. But the relationship is binary – this is no mere subservient island appreciation of north American dominant cultural but instead an example of the interweaving thread of Jamaican and American music that travels back and forth between the major cities of Kingston, London, Toronto, New York, Chicago and Philadelphia.
Having said that all of the songs featured here are indeed cover versions of (or at least heavily based on) US soul and disco tunes. Curtis Mayfield, Diana Ross, Earth, Wind & Fire, Archie Bell, The Dramatics, Michael Jackson – the work of these artists resonated around the world and Jamaica was no exception. Of these figures Curtis Mayfield was of course already an iconic artist on the island, due to the influence that his vocal group The Impressions had on Jamaican rocksteady back in the 1960s."
Nonesuch releases special editions of Wilco’s 2002 album "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot".
"The now-classic record has been remastered and will be available as part of each set. The Super Deluxe version comprises eleven vinyl LPs and one CD – including demos, drafts, and instrumentals, charting the making of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot – plus a live 2002 concert recording and a September 2001 radio performance and interview. That box set includes eighty-two previously unreleased music tracks as well as a new book featuring an interview with singer/songwriter/guitarist Jeff Tweedy, drummer Glenn Kotche, and Jim O’Rourke, who mixed the acclaimed 2002 album; an in-depth essay by journalist/author Bob Mehr; and previously unseen photos of the band making the album in their Chicago studio, The Loft. For the Yankee Hotel Foxtrot recording, Wilco was Jeff Tweedy, John Stirratt, Leroy Bach, Glenn Kotche, and Jay Bennett with Craig Christiansen, Ken Coomer, Jessy Greene, Fred Lonberg-Holm, and Jim O’Rourke."
First new Deepchord LP voyage in 5 years, captained by Detroit’s Rod Modell.
Collapsing the firmament into the cityscape like few others, Modell’s pursuit of hypnotic, starry-eyed bliss is at its most typically effective thru the 11 sections of ‘Functional Designs’. It’s a modest title for his brand of romantic lushness, smudging distinctions of disciplines fanning from electro-acoustic, deep techno, dub, to ambient in a timeless sound made distinct via that finesse and elysian enigma.
Last heard under this guise pushing the envelope to longform degrees, and at a faster tempo, as well as in puristic ambient form under his own name and emulating the effects of amphetamine with the brilliant ‘Captagon’, his return to DeepChord is cut of classic cloth; all depth-charge subbass rolige, starlight-thizz and ultraviolet/deep blue chord structures that reverberate to the heavens.
Düsseldorf’s Baal & Mortimer is the latest invitee to rework Conrad Schnitzler’s legendary cabinet of synth curios on the Con-Struct series.
Operated by Alexandra Grübler since 2014, Baal & Mortimer are of a new German generation who work in the long shadow of influence cast by Conrad Schnitzler’s pioneering electronic music explorations. Chamber classical, synth-pop and gothic choral wrks inform B&M’s two albums to date (‘Deixis, 2020, and ‘The Torso Tapes’, 2021) and feed forward into the usual matrices of her Con-Struct side, bent and melded to Schnitzler’s palette of source material in sloshing, layered designs that mark the distance travelled since the late, great genius emerged as a founding member of Tangerine Dream in 1970, then with Moebius & Roedelius in Kluster, and until 2011 as a solo synth-o-naut.
On the eight woks Grübler takes Schnitzler’s fathomless lead as license to head all over the (work)shop, encompassing lilting Afro rhythmelodic patterns and glossolalia on ‘Mohn’, thru to astral siren calls in ‘Keystone’ and ‘Coat’, with gunky tones of ‘Blue Lotis’ recalling aspects of the classic ‘Conrad & Sohn’ side melted to a tangy essence, whereas ‘FFAALL’ swerves right to avant-chamber classical, and we’re best snagged on the weirdo space baroque of ‘Lo’.
The first long-form solo release from Adrian Corker in almost a decade is an ambitious proposition - a fusion of modern composition and electro-acoustic techniques that sounds like Jim O'Rourke doing a Stockhausen.
Corker describes "Since it Turned Out Something Else" as a selection of sounds that he'd rediscovered and eventually re-used to spark fresh compositions. Recorded in Japan, Berlin, France and the UK, the set bridges the gap between electro-acoustic music and modern composition in impressive ways. Corker's interest with the character of sound ("how acoustic sound can be transformed through physical materials") is the album's focal point, and on the opening two-parter he records the Ligeti Quartet to tape and slows it down, adding synth and piano. The second part is where things get more interesting though, Corker dubs Aisha Orazbayeva's violin to acetate using it as an expressive, warbling new instrument over atmospheric sub bass alongside Josephine Stephenson's alienating vocals.
On '9 Spaces', he ropes in Chris Watson to help record a room's electromagnetic field - making string instruments groan against a backdrop of Pascal Wyse's trombone drones with percussion and processing from Takuma Watanabe and Tatsuhisa Yamamoto. Sometimes it's tough to hear what's process and what's performance, He plays re-amplified beatbox hi-hats against ensemble strings - white noise, no less - on 'Adjacencies', with everything recorded by Chris Watson in a Northern ballroom. The result is a chilling, a post-horror FX scrape that wouldnt sound out of place on an A24.
Uniquely disciplined guitarist Oren Ambarchi hustles an all-star ensemble in filigree arrangements of joyous, hyper-rhythmic melodicism nodding to Albert Marcoeur, early Pat Metheny Group, Henry Kaiser’s It’s A Wonderful Life and Steve Reich’s Electric Counterpoint.
Following in the vein of his intricately detailed longform workouts including ‘Quixotism’ (2014) and ‘Hubris’ (2016), the four parts of ’Shebang’ map an iridescent, undulating topography that links widescreen kosmiche with needlepoint precision and compelling fluidity. Taking remotely recorded input from Chris Abrahams (piano), Johan Berthling (acoustic bass), BJ Cole (pedal steel), Sam Dunscombe (bass clarinet), Jim O'Rourke (synths), Julia Reidy (12-string guitar), and Joe Talia (drums); Ambarchi (credited as Dick Wolf) and Konrad Sprenger post-edited the parts into a fleeting flux of staccato chimes, arcing harmonies and densely layered polyrhythms with a naturalistic flow that belies the fact its contributors were strewn across the globe.
Sweetly lifting off with pinpoint palm wine plucks, the album stealthily grows in density and curious intensity with Berthling’s sinuous bassline and Talia’s refreshing raindrop hi-hats guiding the flow down and out, snaking into clear Americana gestures with appearance of BJ Coles’ shimmering pedal steel, and Ambarchi’s puckered blues riffs. By the mid-way point their preternatural balance and surprising turns of phrase are in full effect, with a languid bassline sliding around the peppery percussion gently intensified by Julia Reidy’s Reichian 12-string intricacies, with Jim O’Rourke’s synths rising like early morning mist on a sunny day.
The Necks’ Chris Abrahams cuts avian figures across the keys, and in the final section they lock into the finest lattice, precipitating harmonic progression with the heady effect of a weather pressure front changing at liminal zones, roiling and gyring with Ambarchi and Sprenger’s discrete post-production magick.
Pauline Oliveros and Terry Riley collaborator Loren Rush returns to Recital with a fractal set of just intonation piano improvisations, a startling contrast to last year's ace "Dans le Sable". Delicate and disarming music, one for fans of Morteza Mahjubi's genius (and very prescient) Iranian piano experiments.
Since back in the late 1950s, Bay Area-based Loren Rush has been operating quietly within the Californian experimental music scene, working alongside Terry Riley, Pauline Oliveros and Robert Ericksen and co-founding Stanford University’s Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics. Last year's Recital-released "Dans le Sable" was an introduction to his canon for many listeners, highlighting his ambitious orchestral work; "Omaggio a Giuseppe Ungaretti" is completely different, a more intimate and improvisational expression that's rooted in the tonal color of a piano tuned using just intonation.
That's a technique that's never been more commonly referenced: regular Western tuning is known as "equal temperament" and the piano is an instrument that's been built around this standard. Just intonation meanwhile adjusts the intervals between notes to whole-number ratios, a system that links back to the ancient Greeks and gives performers more control of tonal fluctuation. The sound can be unusual to hear at first, but once your ears adjust to the vibrations it's revelatory.
On "Omaggio a Giuseppe Ungaretti", Rush uses The Enhanced Piano in Just Intonation, an electronically enhanced piano developed by composer Alfred Owens to add increased resonance and color to the instrument. His reason for this is evident immediately as he works with dynamics and ornate tonal fluctuations on 'Eternal' - our immediate comparison is the work of Iranian pianist Morteza Mahjubi who developed a microtonal tuning system for piano in the 1950s that allowed him to perform classical Iranian music. Rush's compositions are of course more informed American minimalism, but break away from staid academia with harmonic fluctuations that sound expressive and human.
The album was inspired by poems Giuseppe Ungaretti wrote while in the trenches during World War I. Born in Alexandria and raised partially in Paris, Ungaretti overcame the horror of war by thinking back to his earlier life, turning death's misery into flourishing beauty. Rush captures Ungaretti's spirit by gesturing towards Egyptian music without attempting to mimic it, similarly there's a gaze that strikes Parisian musical traditions, cutting it with the studied calm of the West Coast deep listening set. 'Veglia' ("vigil") might be the album's most characteristic moment, a tense long-form piece that's complex and ornate but driven by passion.
Rush's unusual tuning allows him to capture difficult emotions, making for soul-stirring music that's not easily forgotten.
Jamie Teasdale returns to his Kuedo project after a 7 year absence, following a series high-profile sound design and scoring work with a full-length of Vangelis-inspired orchestration and lavishly engineered airlock trap rhythms. Sonically it's somewhere between Emeralds, Rustie and Hudson Mohawke - not bad at all.
Teasdale's last proper Kuedo release was 2016's "Slow Knife", but he's had plenty to do in the interim. He teamed up with Flying Lotus in 2017 on a score for Cowboy Bebop director Shinichirō Watanabe's "Blade Runner: Black Out 2022", and fixed up sound design on adverts for Nike, Fendi and Bvlgari, among other projects. But now he's back to his usual beat, finding a connection point between glossy R&B/trap pop and "spacey synth driven music" for FlyLo's own Brainfeeder. The inspiration for the album came from rough sketches that Teasdale had been accumulating for years; he realized he could revisit the headspace his younger self had been languishing in and then fire the tracks into the present. "It felt like time-travelling," he admits. "I probably made some peace with that earlier version of myself too, for not having the confidence to finish it at the time."
It shouldn't come as a surprise that the record doesn't sound stylistically removed from 2011's milestone "Severant" (the album that saw Teasdale pull away from Vex'd's noisy vanguard dubstep sound) or its more muddled follow-up, but refines the form, bringing the Kuedo sound up to speed with his newfound engineering nous. From the euphoric opening moments of 'Sliding Through Our Fingers' it's clear that Teasedale is operating in high fidelity - he claims to have been influenced by Frank Ocean and The Weeknd as much as Tangerine Dream, Sully and Jlin, and these sounds definitely betray that notion. When brittle ATL-minded beats eventually poke through the vapor-lite synths, they're tweaked with a Hollywood-inspired sense of purpose - if this music was gonna soundtrack a videogame, it'd be a triple A sci-fi shooter.
The shell of "Severant" encases 'Harlequein Hallway', but that earlier material's tentative melancholy is replaced by a bolshy sense of wonder. Confident in his beatmaking and synth programming abilities, Teasdale makes sound that's loud, direct and forceful: bass beats as if it's likely to wrench itself out of yer speakers, and synths dance across frequencies like angry bees. His library-cum-kosmische inspirations are in full force on instrumental tracks like 'Paradise Water' or 'Aeolian Bodies', a chiming vignette that's a hauntological nod to Jean-Michel Jarre, but Teasdale sounds most satisfied when he's able to weld soaring, gut-wrenching harmonies and weepy arpeggios to rattling hi-hats and booming 808 kicks. Anyone searching for the missing link between Rustie's "Glass Swords" and Pye Corner Audio's "Black Mill Tapes", look no further.
Cellular Automata is the first new Dopplereffekt album in a decade! Rudolf Klorzeiger and To-Nhan kept us waiting but the anticipation pays off with some of their most striking electro architecture to date, tangibly making good on the promise of their Tetrahymena  and Delta Wave  deliveries over the interim, which, like this one were also released by Berlin’s Leisure System.
The symbiotic duo’s last album, Calabi Yau Space  remains one of the most memorable, puristic electronic records of its decade and Cellular Automata is up there with the most distinctive of its ilk in the current sphere. To outline their intentions; “Cellular Automata approaches mathematical growth and decay as an iterative process, with each data input considered individually relative to the overall model”, which broadly translates as a lofty metaphor for refinement thru increasingly searching practice; both technical research and the fine-tuned discipline of their physical, melodic inputs.
Difficult to say really how that works out from initial listens, but in aesthetic terms at least their sound is shockingly sharp and dense yet incredibly spacious, executing that unique balance of sheer technological advance and heightened emotive response in way that’s long been key to the success of their sound, encouraging listeners to revel and marvel at both the pure sonification of their sounds and equally their near-baroque classical elegance.
If you need any prompts, check out the vast harmonic structures of Cellular Automata and the tempestuous kosmische momentum of Exponential Decay at the album’s bookends, or deeper in for the uncanny stere-imaging of Gestalt Intelligence and the nerve-biting noise of Pascal’s Reunion, or the abyssal morphosis of Mandelbrot Set for the strongest sensations, but, as you’ll understand it’s definitely best consumed as whole for the most lucid yet disorienting experience.
Bumper collection of site-specific kankyō ongaku soundscapes that were intended by Yutaka Hirose to be played in cafes, bars, museums and science labs. More abstract than Hiroshi Yoshimura's "Green" or Midori Takada’s "Through The Looking Glass", Hirose's compositions channel ambient sounds thru bizarre, almost illbient routines, lending them a harsher, more industrial timbre.
Yukata Hirose wasn't motivated by the idea of creating pre-recorded compositions for use in environmental settings. Instead opting find a way to create "sound scenery" by arranging speakers and sound sources so that the music would change and merge as the listener traversed the space. He was motivated by the idea of the tea ceremony, where focus was needed to adjust the senses to enjoy the experience.
The material still holds up, even three decades later. The album is split into two parts: the first half is a set of liquid ambient soundscapes that sound closer to Hiroshi Yoshimura, all droplet electronics and breathy drones, while the second half is more challenging, experimenting with noise and what Hirose describes as "hardcore ambient" sounds. The lighter material was intended to be played at cafes and bars and in entranceways, while the more complex sounds were geared towards museums and science centers.
It's interesting listening to the music with the purpose in mind. The first half is relatively familiar and harmonises well with the contemporary reading of kankyō ongaku, but the second set drives the sounds into areas that sound more cyberpunk. Hirose's sound design is ahead of its time, and his use of field recordings, disorienting processes and spine-tingling percussion makes the music particularly prescient. 'The Breath of Cyberspace' is particularly essential, a pitch-wonked k-hole of unlatched electronic percussion and FM grit that sounds as if it belongs on a short-run Italian industrial cassette.
Moonshine-proof levels of Burundi drumming and psych shred from 1972 Japan, steeped in Ugandan tradition and prime to take head tops clean off.
An extraordinary side laced with unexpected swerves, ‘Uganda (Dawn of African Rock)’ sets Akira Ishikawa’s and Larry Sunaga’s swingeing drumming to sky-licking electric guitar fire, cascading into effected wormholes and ricocheting hard right into heads-down percussive onslaughts and blown out distortion. Nutty and with baga swag, it’s highly likely to slug knock out punches on Afro and psych heads from all corners.
“The respected Japanese jazz drummer Akira Ishikawa was not messing around when he recorded the 'Uganda (Dawn of Rock)' album with his band the Count Buffaloes. For this offering, originally released in 1972 on Toshiba Records, Akira Ishikawa takes us on a deep tripped-out journey. 'Uganda (Dawn of Rock)' is a fusion of progressive and psych rock with African percussion workouts, dergy-wah wah blues-funk, and jazzy sensibilities; with different genres morphing and uniting as they progress.
A long way from his funk and afrobeat album 'Back To Rhythm’, re-issued on Mr Bongo in 2019, this record has a darker, deeper, abstract and experimental stoned tone with the listener being pulled into its vortex for the ride. This record doesn’t pull any punches.
For this album, Akira is joined by Hideaki Chihara on bass, guitarist Kimio Mizutani, sounding at times like an early 70s Peter Green, percussionist Larry Sunaga and composer Takeru Muraoka.
The album has become highly sought-after amongst psych, prog and acid rock collectors and due to the rare nature of original copies they come at a hefty price tag.”
Following 2020's Touch-released "The Key", Chicago-based duo Steven Hess and Michael Vallera look into their city's industrial past with a lengthy and faded set of low-light dark ambience, punctuated by Hess's expert percussion. RIYL Lustmord, Deathprod, Scanner.
Hess and Vallera haven't exactly switched up their sound since their self-titled 2011 debut album, but they've refined it, sculpting their gaseous dark ambience into a sonic signature that's never sounded more dialed in. "Of Endless Light" feels as if they're heading to the core of their inspiration and motivation, tapping into the industrial heart of Chicago with grinding, humming tracks that sound like a chorus of heavy machines whirring in unison. As usual their sonic pallete is guitar, percussion and field recordings, but the duo have a way of molding these elements into clouds of melancholy scrapes and tones. It's a soundtrack to the loss of a city to gentrification - the sound of sterilization as deeply-held memories slowly slip away.
The two veteran players capture the mood with long-form experiments, using melodic motifs like whispers in a crowd and burying traffic sounds and industrial growls under layers of processed percussion and guitar. It's tempting to find a way to lash Cleared's music to Chicago's post-rock past, but at this point any trace of that music is all but gone.