Estimable American cellist Charles Curtis spans a spectra of rare, unreleased recordings of music by Eliane Radigue, Morton Feldman, Anton Webern, Olivier Messaien and himself in the first comprehensive survey of his oeuvre on Tashi Wada’s Saltern label. Almost two and a half hours of deep, engrossing music.
Ranging from performance of obscure C.14th pieces by Guillaume de Machaut, to C.20th avant garde works by Messiaen and Webern, thru to his previously unreleased 2012 rendition of Éliane Radigue’s ‘Occam V’, and a clutch of his own compositions, the 20 pieces of ‘Performances & Recordings 1998-2018’ plot out the remarkable breadth and depth of work by renowned, LA-based cellist Charles Curtis. Rooted in his childhood classical studies and subsequent schooling by La Monte Young and Pandit Pran Nath, Curtis’ wide scope and insight has placed him among the eminent performers of contemporary music, minimalism and modern classical for over 20 years, as documented inside.
The set speaks not just to Curtis’ musical restlessness, but his spirit of inquiry, as the works all bear some relation to each other, not least for the fact they’re all performed by him, but also in the way he inhabits and brings the original composer’s ideas to fruition, and makes inherent links between eons of Medieval and Renaissance music, serialism, rock and early conceptions of noise music.
The set smartly outlines this breadth in stages, drawing connection between his awning take on Radigue’s ‘Occam V’ (2012) and a number of C.14th-17th works by Guillauem de Machaut, Tobia Hume, Silvestro di Ganassi and the stately sweep of his own ‘Unfinished Song’ (1998) in disc 1, whereas disc 2 focusses on his readings of C.20th works including Terry Jennings’ ‘Song’ (1960) which he premiered in 1995, Morton Feldman’s sublime ‘Durations II’ (1960) that appeared on Chamber Music: Alvin Lucier & Morton Feldman’, and Alison Knowles ‘Rice and Beans’ (2008), adapted from a score made out of lentils, fabric and string; while disc 3 contains a massive highlight in his fascinating take on Richard Maxfield’s ‘Perspectives for La Monte Young’, itself inspired by John Cage’s conception of noise music and the harmonic qualities of frictional, non-musical sounds, which all feel as though they’re preparing the listener for the culmination of three Curtis originals, from the supernatural shimmer of ‘Unison Offset’, to the dusky Cali post-rock of ‘Music For Awhile’, and the keening figure of ‘Music for “Lester”’, a commission for Luke Fowler’s ‘Tenement Films’.
The debut album from British singer/songwriter Eve Owen, Don’t Let the Ink Dry, is a work of raw sensitivity and uncontained imagination, brought to life over the course of three transformative years.
"During that time, the 20-year-old artist spent her summer holidays writing and recording in New York with The National’s Aaron Dessner, immersing herself in a creative exploration that provided welcome refuge from her sometimes-troubled school life. As she discovered an entirely new sense of freedom and belonging, Owen devised a sonic language all her own: frenetic yet delicate, mercurial yet nuanced enough to capture the most ephemeral of feelings. Produced by Dessner at Long Pond Studio (a converted old farmhouse deep in the Hudson Valley), Don’t Let the Ink Dry finds Owen embracing her affinity for folk music while pursuing the endless possibilities in electronic experimentation."
Augustus Muller, one half of Massachusetts electronic duo Boy Harsher, releases two original scores through own label Nude Club records. The films, Orgone Theory and Hydra, are Muller’s first foray into scoring. Both films were produced by UK based collective Four Chambers.
"Four Chambers, or A Four Chambered Heart, produces adult material that focuses on DIY practices and non traditional bodies and narratives. Four Chambers is self-described by creator Vex Ashley as “deliberately ambiguous, rejecting labels for both (the) films and performers, existing in-between genres of both art and pornography and dismissing the need for a definition of either.”
After a successful collaboration between Boy Harsher and Four Chambers, with the film Archetype, Vex sought a direct collaboration between Muller. Hydra is a short, sci-fi experience studying invasion and consumption. Muller’s score delves into the film’s dystopian attitude, utilizing eerie industrial tones and wet synthesizers. The second short, Orgone Theory takes a more dogmatic approach: sexual scenarios confined within a metal box simulating the Wilhelm Reich’s orgone accumulator. In Orgone, Muller embraces more of a rhythmic preposition, referencing the film’s dynamic subject matter and alluding early work by Patrick Crowley.
There’s no need to confine the score to particular genres, yet for context - within these tracks, Muller combines disparate soundscapes, melancholy drone, and minimal synth."
Berlin’s Grischa Lichtenberger does jazzy IDM origami with post-techno rhythms and avant-pop voices to fold in the space between Amnesia Scanner and LP5-era Autechre.
"This release is the opening to a five-part complex of works by artist grischa lichtenberger. The single tracks and their components are constantly ruptured, disassembled and reassembled again. some passages allude to a weird fractured version of pop music, others may evoke associations to a disjointing music box, to something mechanical that is not working as it should. the time signatures of the tracks are constantly subjected to a mangling and squelching process, all the while keeping a constant rhythmical flow.
in his very own way, grischa lichtenberger is examining limits, new experiences and unfulfilling expectations. this unfilteredness and rawness, the lack of a target group the music is made for, is what is fascinating about this record. »LA DEMEURE; il y a péril en la demeure« thus becomes a luxurious-kafkaesque collection of materials, an uncensored archive of a seeker.”
Over the years, Rafael Anton Irisarri has become ubiquitous within the spheres of ambient, drone and electronic music. Whether it’s through Irisarri’s celestial long-form albums or his lauded audio engineering credentials for countless artists and labels, Irisarri’s consistent dedication to his craft never wavers from the forefront.
"While Irisarri’s compositions typically field an array of modern ambient overtones threaded through oceanic symphonies with tape loops, bowed electric guitar and vast washes of overdriven sound, his recent debut album for Dais Records, Peripeteia, portray these common themes giving way to metal and classical influences that emphasizes Irisarri’s melancholic tendencies. These unique overtures, coupled with his signature layering of distortion and bleached-out textures, fabricate an audible environment that would seemingly be at odds with, yet gracefully complement each other. In Irisarri’s own words, “My previous works internalize any exterior forces or circumstances, while trying to make sense of the world. Peripeteia reverses that approach, focusing on the personal in order to tell a wider human story.”
The emotional depth found throughout Peripeteia is impeccably on display with the track, Mellified. A collaboration with Spanish composer Yamila, the choral arrangements bring to mind the sacred music of Arvo Pärt, while her voice combines the Andalusian “Cante jondo” style with medieval modes, almost drowning in layers of octave fuzz distortion and dystopian synths patterns. On Arduous Clarity, the bright arpeggiating melody that churns throughout, offers the initial glimmer of optimism in an otherwise decaying tale of personal turmoil. This encouraging glimpse is short lived however, as the song Refuge/Refuse seemingly plummets into the mourning depths of somber despair. A chorus of voices steadily crawls from its desolate terrain – a sea of broken spirits, eternally resigned to strain and bellow their final lament. Fright and Control, a piece which is equally soul churning, seems to possess a satisfying resolve, as if after years of searching, one’s very salvation has been laid to rest through the acceptance of mortality and the enlightenment in death. Irisarri’s complexity is utilized to a forcible success, slowly pulsing throughout the foreground of his audience, further emphasizing the impending dread of resolve."
Fluxion beautifully drifts focus from quietly cinematic scenes to signature dub house rollers in his dustily nuanced style.
‘Perspectives’ is the Greek’s 8th album following a few years from ‘Ripple Effect’ and some choice ‘Transformations’ with mutual spirits Deepchord over the interim. Now 20 years since his ‘Vibrant Forms’ placed him in the Chain Reaction calibre of dub techno producers, he describes ‘Perspectives’ as a more “personal… intimate” record that his previous, and that personality comes out stealthily thru his quiet elision of frayed dub house chords with more jazzy smoky rhythms and lonely coffee atmospheres in the album’s title track and the cooing angelic chorales of the intro ’Schism’, while the luxuriant scapes of ‘Within’ and ‘Promise’ also recall Moritz Von Oswald’s turns toward kosmiche jazz dub space.
A vital Muslimgauze classic from 1995, spying some of his sickest drum chops and opiated atmospheres from a cutlishly adored period of his catalog.
Issued on Ukraine-via-Berlin label Kvitnu, for whom the release has an extra political resonance - outlined below - ‘Salaam Alekum, Bastard’ is a prime example of Bryn Jones aka Muslimgauze’s strongheld political worldview, near-wordlessly wrapped up in billowing nocturnal desert-scape pads and some of his most hypnotic, serpentine percussion. Check for intoxicating highlights in the swingeing syncopation of the title tune, the ravishing ambient dubbing of ‘Hebron Massacre (Short Mix)’ and ‘Mandarin Guerilla’ for the artist at his subtlest and psychedelic.
“It was not so long time ago in history of modern music, when influence of musicians on society was tectonic. When artist’s statement or position could impact the political situation in a country or sometimes even worldwide. When secret services like KGB, Mossad or CIA would consider some musicians as seriously dangerous for their agenda, because of artist’s influence on audience’s minds. When in some countries listening to forbidden bands could lead a person to appear in a concentration camp or even killed. When artist’s names would be an inspiration and a symbol of fight for freedom.
It was also a time when artists would not censor themselves and their position in fear of being obstructed and hunted by mob for political incorrectness. When artistic freedom to honestly express their subjective views, no matter how harsh or extremely reactive the form of expression could be, was more valuable than any possible concerns or fear to hurt anyone’s feelings. When hurting feelings would mean that provocation reached it’s goal. When idea of speaking out their subjective truth had the highest value for artists, as one of true meanings of art."
Soul Jazz apply keen ears to the ingenious era of UK rave, hardcore and jungle and its unprecedented stylistic shifts of the early ‘90s with a haul of seminal, obscure and killer cuts.
Archivists of the most crucial Black and Latin music, Soul Jazz know what they’re on about, and rack up some proper knowledge here from a unique phase of UK music when ragga and nutty rave styles collided and accelerated to produce one of the UK’s most distinctive, enduring genres.
Following the emergence of digi-dub dancehall and the house phenomenon of the late ‘80s, the 2nd generation offspring of Caribbean migrants pushed those styles to breaking point, and then some, in the early ‘90s, ramping the tempos, going ruthlessly heavy on the subs, and chopping up amen breaks in a mean advance of rugged US hip hop UK fast-rap.
These innovations were the result of a tight feedback loop of influence between dancers and DJs, who effectively egged each other to greater ecstasies (perhaps amped by some pills and powders), and producers followed suit with tracks that sounded ever more like two or three tunes being mixed by a DJ at +6 on the decks.
The 12 tracks of ‘Black Riot’ are all a result of this innovative rush of form and function, and range from the nutty jazziness of DJ SS’ 1994 ace ‘The Smoker’s Rhythm’, to the foundational hardcore pressure of ‘Durban Poison’ by Babylon Timewarp, Leviticus’ all-time burner ‘Burial (Lovers Rock Mix)’, and Trip’s darkcore ’93 glyder ‘The Snowball’, alongside absolute murder in DJ Krome & Mr. Time’s lighter tune ‘Ganja Man’, plus more experimental obscurities in the nano-tight edits of ‘Way Of Life’ by New Vision, and overlooked but deadly rude ragga bleep rave by Nu Jacks.
Konstantinos Soublis aka Fluxion follows Type's reissue of his classic 'Vibrant Forms' with this set of buoyant dub house riddims recorded in New York for Echocord and starring reggae vocalist, Teddy Selassie. Taking clear inspiration from the seminal precedents of Main Street and Rhythm & Sound, Fluxion gives the Tikiman-alike Teddy Selassie a plush suite of stepping, skanking riddims rent with widescreen dub techno atmospheres, oscillating back and forth between lean, fluidly 4/4 instrumental steppers and dread-heavy future roots styles topped by the achingly mellifluous vocals. Arguably, it's one of the most accomplished long-players you'll hear in this niche and tightly defined sound. RIYL Rhythm & Sound, Deepchord.
Matt Johnson’s near-mythical 1979 tape is finally available on CD, newly expanded with six extra tracks to reveal the scuzzy experimental roots of a soon-to-be lauded songwriter recording at home in the cellar of his parent’s pub, with fizzingly inventive results that surely recall early efforts by Robert Rental, Dome, John Bender.
Written when he was sixteen years old and recorded in 1978-79 at his home cellar studio, ‘See Without Being Seen’ gives an ultra-rare window to the early work of Matt Johnson, who only a few years later would issue ‘Burning Blue Soul’. It’s humbly scratched together DIY style with a borrowed Telecaster copy, a Crumar electric piano, and a handful of effects pedals, all recorded direct to reel-to-reel int he basement studio Matt shared with his late older brother Andy, who would go on to create THE THE’s iconic sleeve artwork. But despite its modest provenance, it’s the sort of album that may induce envy as one reflects on what they were/n’t doing aged 16 - probably not creating frazzled experimental pop zingers like this lot?!
In 1979 Matt was frequenting shows by TG, Cabaret Voltaire, Wire, This Heat - as you do - where he would distribute his self-duplicated copies of ‘See Without Being Seen’ in its original 7 track form, which clearly betrays the influence of all the above on his music, but also mutated into his own style. That style would become much more pop-refined from the jagged and psychedelic sense of expression brandished on this lot, however Matt’s natural knack for melodic hooks and experimental-leanings spellbinding come into their own as he shapeshifts between kosmiche drones, Suicide-al new wave, and drum machine mantras with bags of daring confidence, especially for his age. A right slice of new wave and indie pop history right here.
Hamburg-based Love-Songs' newest output Nicht Nicht continues the band's striving to mesh defined grids with improvisatory snapshots to create their very own take on organic electronic music. Since 2012, the electro-acoustic trio were able to explore the possibilities of their free-flowing interplay through the course of several EPs and the mini-album 'Inselbegabung', which was released on Kame House. Now they are ready to submit their debut album Nicht Nicht on Bureau B.
"Meandering through its seven tracks Nicht Nicht contains the Trios most aerially shimmering tracks to date flanked by tribal bouncers. Form, deform and somewhere in between. ÑDas Labyrinth in dem allesóallesóalles verschwimmt.ì (Das Labyrinth) The record begins with a live recording of the band. The transparent and crisp 'Proxy I' almost sculpturally rotates through the space it occupies.
Sublime ripples. Meditative clusters of Chinese cymbals define the percussion, delayed waves of bass break, as gently pulsating synths weave their way through the sonosphere. 'Selbstauflˆser Teil II' and 'Das Labyrinth' are percussive bouncers and serve a contemporary club appeal that has always been a feature in the bandís oeuvre. Love-Songs have found their way into the setlists of DJs such as Phuong Dan and John Talabot and also live their music works in clubby situations. The reprise 'Nicht Nicht' takes the intensity level down a notch, nervously, restlessly lurching towards the A-sideís runout groove. 'Tisch mit drei Weinen' is the pop song on the record. Staccato bass, pumping arpeggios and, again, Chinese cymbals, but this time processed and treated, roll out a canvas for Thomas Korf¥s lyrics.
The lyrics are often described as dada and surrealist and function beyond their literal meaning. Somewhere between instrument and narrative Korf, with his dark timbre, plays with language and shifts perspectives, sometimes humorous, sometimes odd but always serious. ÑDu bist ein Krug und schenkst mir ein, ich bin ein Glas und voll mit Wein.ì (Tisch mit 3 Weinen) 'Proxy II' begins with dotted, open jazz drums before unraveling in a meditative rumble. Frothing up without losing its pulse, the track ends abruptly in a shimmering clangour. Synthetic choirs at the end evoke the processed, outernational sounds of so called ìfourth world musicî, an influence that can also be ascertained on the final track, the dubby 'OG'.
An organic groove runs through the albumís closer, switching up to an atmospheric, jazzy vibe. Woodwind instruments swell beneath the surface as Nicht Nicht ends with a tribal, percussive rattle behind frosted glass. The album is more permeable, but at the same time concrete than the bandís previous output. With the work on Nicht Nicht, Love-Songs continue to place more emphasis on the studio itself as an instrument. The foundations are still based on a tried and trusted combination of bass, percussion, electronics and vocals, but less readily identifiable as the tracks oscillate between the lines. Ideas continue to be elicited from live improvisations, then processed and arranged on the computer, not infrequently translated back into an intimate interplay of instruments and yet the individual elements display a disciplined awareness of the whole: the bass earths the tracks stoically, ascetically, percussion is in the realm of man and machine, the vocals serve the songs primarily as an instrument without surrendering their expressive imagery.
Electronics assume dual roles in terms of structure and ornamentation: rendering form and embellishing with melody and noise. Ultimately, it is the sum of these parts and the production thereof, which allow Nicht Nicht to shimmer and foam, jangle and roll, billow and rattle. Jetzt wo ich unbegreiflich bin, macht die Selbstauflˆsung Sinn.ì (Selbstauflˆser Teil 2) TheeLove-Songs line-up has been a constant since their inception: Thomas Korf (electronics,
vocals), Sebastian Kokus (bass) and Manuel Chittka (drums, percussion). The band recorded and produced Nicht Nicht in their Elbkrautstudios in Hamburg. Mastering was taken care of by Fabian Tormin/Plaetlin Mastering. As always, the bandís own design studio Total Eclipse Of The Heart came up with the visuals."
Jason Williamson and Andrew Fearn stepped out of 2019 with a Top Ten album under their belt, Eton Alive, their biggest sold out tour to date and the swagger of a band that have never been more relevant, topically challenging and downright entertaining.
"Sleaford Mods are set to continue their onslaught into 2020 with the release of All That Glue, a collection of songs spanning the last seven years of the bands career; an array of crowd pleasers, B sides, unheard tracks and rarities for fans and the curious, released via Rough Trade. Over the past few years Sleaford Mods have become one of the most intractable British pop stories. One of its best. Their music is drawn at a flawless fault-line of anger, tenderness and humour, a triumvirate of raw energy which frequently jostles in the space of a cadence for supremacy. On record you can hear their sinews, live you can touch their veins.
Ahead of All That Glue's release the band will be making available fan favourite Jobseeker for the first time. In addition, footage from the duo's acclaimed sell out show last year at the Eventim Apollo, will be released for the first time and kicks off with an incendiary performance of Tweet Tweet Tweet."
Wildly ambitious pop tour de force by LA’s Perfume Genius, echoes shades of classic rock and pop via mutated refractions like Mark Hollis, Autre Ne Veut, Cindy Lee.
“Set My Heart On Fire Immediately is the fifth studio album from Perfume Genius released on Matador Records. It sees artist and musician Mike Hadreas re-teaming with GRAMMY-nominated producer Blake Mills and features contributions from musicians Jim Keltner, Pino Palladino and Matt Chamberlin. It was recorded in Los Angeles, where Perfume Genius settled in 2017 with longtime partner and musical collaborator Alan Wyffels.
The album explores and subverts concepts of masculinity and traditional roles, and introduces decidedly American musical influences. Throughout Hadreas plays with themes of love, sex, memory and the body, channeling popular music mythologies while irreverently authoring its own – from the delirious, Cyndi Lauper-nodding celebratory pop of ‘On The Floor’, specters of Elvis on haunted tremolo waltz ‘One More Try’, to the harpsichord- punctuated baroque pop of ‘Jason’, and gliding steel guitar and Balearic rhythm of ‘Without You’.
“I wanted to feel more open, more free and spiritually wild,” says Hadreas, “and I’m in a place now where those feelings are very close-- but it can border on being unhinged. I wrote these songs as a way to be more patient, more considered -- to pull at all these chaotic threads hovering around me and weave them in to something warm, thoughtful and comforting.”
First album taster ‘Describe’ captures this sense of fleetingness and living in the moment through a heavy fog of grizzly distortion and tumbling slide guitars: “It started as a really somber ballad. It was very minimal and very slow. And then it turned into this beast of a song. I started writing that about when you are in such a dark place that you don’t even remember what goodness is or what anything feels like. And so, the idea was having someone describe that to you, because you forgot or can’t get to it.” Its accompanying video, self-directed by Hadreas, envisions “an end of the world where there are no boundaries, there are no edges, no rules, or the rules are completely new with how you interact with each other and the space around you.””
Making A Door Less Open, the new album from Car Seat Headrest and the first set of brand-new songs since 2016’s Teens Of Denial.
"Created over the course of four years, Making a Door Less Open is the result of a fruitful “collaboration” between Car Seat Headrest, led by Will Toledo, and 1 Trait Danger, a CSH electronic side project consisting of drummer Andrew Katz and Toledo’s alternative persona, “Trait.” To realize this, the band recorded the album twice: once live with guitars, drums and bass, and once in a MIDI environment using purely synthesized sounds. During the mixing process, the two approaches were gradually combined using elements of each, with additional overdubs.
In this way, Making A Door Less Open sees Toledo embarking on new and imaginative roads to songwriting and recording, placing emphasis on the individual songs, each with its own “special energy,” rather than attempting to draw a coherent storyteller narrative through the album as he has in the past , resulting in his most dynamic and open-ended work to date."
Josey Rebelle proves what all the fuss is about on her killer rag around UK hardcore, jungle, Detroit techno, jazz and up-to-the-minute electronics for BiS.
Harvesting tracks by everyone from Afrodeutsche to Titonton Duvante and Loraine James, Rebelle works up some wicked friction thru restless permutations of pattern between house, techno, jungle, electro, breaks and dashes of poetry and jazz-wise madness.
It’s the sort of mix that's best taken in one, but we have to highlight her use of Rum & Black’s ruthless hardcore barnstormer ‘Zombies At Dawn’, Brassfoot’s nasty hammer ‘Kingu’s Sceptre’, and the rude broken beat torque of Access 58’s ‘Jazz Drama’.
Phillip Sollmann (Efdemin) draws subtle lines between club rhythms, far flung traditional musics, and 20th C. outsider explorations of Harrys Bertoia and Partch, and in style recalling everyone from Don’t DJ and Tony Conrad.
“Following 2019’s ‘New Atlantis’ LP under his experimental techno alias Efdemin, Phillip Sollmann’s ‘Monophonie’ is a project dedicated to uniting different strands of utopian music. His approach: combining and recontextualizing rare historical instruments of sonic research of Hermann von Helmholtz (19th century) with the self-designed, microtonal instruments of Harry Partch and metal sound sculptures of Harry Bertoia.
The result is a psychedelic investigation into just intonation – alternative tuning systems that create unique sets of harmonics not found in conventional scales. ‘Monophonie’ recasts these sounds into new rhythmic environments where epic kosmische, polyrhythms, acoustic techno and microtonal glow are interwoven into a rare music.
Over nine tracks, the album explores multiple forms of minimalism, from unwavering repetition to paired-down chords and sparse sonic environments. But it also seeks to expand the sound spectrum of Partch’s custom built organs and melodic percussion instruments as well as Bertoia’s sonambient singing metal rods into an atmospheric otherworldliness.”
Since their foundation in 2014, this malevolent rogues gallery of luminaries of the UK underground have consistently proven to be capable of projecting vibrations that transcend and usurp any idea of the sum of their component parts.
"It is true that they’ve clocked up notable experience sparking tinnitus with everyone from Mugstar and Bonnacons Of Doom (bassist Jason Stoll) to Dethscalator (vocalist Dan Chandler and drummer Stuart Bell) and from Earth (guitarist Jodie Cox, who also introduced keyboard player Ollie Knowles to the melee) to a dizzying variety of endeavours from the paint-stripping skronk of Dead Neanderthals to the righteous ire of Idles (all via saxophonist Colin Webster).
Yet Sex Swing represents less a group of disparate musicians pooling their resources, and more a peculiar spark of collective chemistry, with all forces gravitating towards the pursuit of the same dissolute and mysterious goal. ‘Type II ’ is that goal reached in effortless style and amplified to intimidating aural vistas. This mighty monument of swagger and malice also sees fit to add a certain amount of glitter to the trademark gri t this time around. Just as the artwork from long-term collaborator Alex Bunn boasts a luminous sheen absent from the unsettling abjection of the sleeve of their 2016 debut, so the rolling grooves and mantric hypnosis here boast a new-found structure and a feline sleekness fresh and unusual for this pugilistic outfit.
Nonetheless, this remains a band fundamentally obsessed with the expression of decadence and wrongdoing through the mediums of repetition and overloaded frequencies.‘ Type II ’ is more than the mere machinations of a rock band - it’s a howl of malfunction rendered terrifyingly visceral. It’s the lightning flash and unearthly roar of the primeval battle between Godzilla and Mechagodzilla that provokes awe and disquiet in the realm of fantasy, It’s the haunted clangour of the faullty air conditioning unit that lurks in the anonymous office building yet lends it eerie ambience. It’s man vs machine where discord becomes harmony, and it’s a fearsomely invigorating spectacle to behold."
Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, the San Francisco-based band fronted by singer and songwriter Thao Nguyen, is set to release their fifth studio album Temple.
"The album is among Thao’s most open and honest work yet, finding her coming out in her public life after a long career in which she kept her queer identity quiet in an effort to avoid turmoil with and alienation from a family and culture she deeply loves. “But that shit will kill you,” Thao says.
“I have divided myself into so many selves. I am nervous, but hopeful that in belonging to myself, I can still belong to my family, and my Vietnamese community, especially the elders.” She continues, “I believe that shame has made my work more general, when I’ve always wanted to be specific. This record is about me finally being specific. If you listen to my music, I want you to know who you are dealing with.”
Thao almost opted not to make another record, feeling that rock music no longer was capable of saying what she needed to express. But it turns out making a record was necessary; it forced her hand to create a space wherein she could finally exist as her entire self. Temple is an album compelled by love and the urgent need to live one full, whole life. Thao and her girlfriend got married recently, and she says, “I have my partner and our home to ground me in this life, in my one life. And everything I do now, everywhere I go, every time I present myself to people, it is finally all of me.”
Temple is the first Get Down Stay Down record to be self-produced. Thao teamed up with longtime bandmate Adam Thompson to produce the record; he shares writing credits on five songs. Mikaelin “Blue” Bluespruce (Solange, Carly Rae Jepsen, Mariah Carey) mixed the record. “Blue mixes more in the hip-hop and pop world and that’s what we wanted,” says Thao. “More fidelity, more upfront beat and groove-heavy mixes that are filled out and immersive…high highs, low lows, lush tones.”"
Gyring, piquant and mindbending computer manipulations of church organ from US and German students of Alvin Lucier and Anthony Braxton, marking their debut collaboration with a variegated suite for Stefan Schneider’s TAL imprint.
“Tastaturstuecke Vol 1 introduces nine outstanding new compositions for church organ, harpsichord, and self-programmed software. The album comprises the first collaborative recordings of Brian Parks (Atlanta) and Phillip Schulze (Düsseldorf). The two musicians first met in the early 2000s at the famous Wesleyan University, Connecticut, where they regularly attended seminars of their teachers Alvin Lucier and Anthony Braxton. Through extended preparations for a series of live performances in Europe in 2019 (e.g. at the Approximation Festival, Düsseldorf) Parks and Schulze developed and refined a unique approach towards composition, highlighting their interest in the correlation of the invariable flawlessness of a computer versus the human performer on church organ or harpsichord.
Largely written for church organ and harpsichord all pieces also correspond perfectly with the physical spaces the recordings have taken place at. The album was recorded in three different churches in Düsseldorf which have been chosen for the different qualities of their specific room acoustics. Treating slight differences in pitch, phasing, overtones and rhythm all compositions on Tastaturstuecke Vol 1 offer an evocative density and flexibility that imbue the music with an organic feel.
The nine pieces range in shape and form from concise and sharp clarity such as "Ranking Studies 1-3" to the extended, exquisitely paced radiance of the eight minutes of "Partials Chrorale". "Mensuring Canon for 8 voices" is obsessively restated in constantly changing permutations whereas the metronomic "Reliefs For Ecclesial Space" sounds urgent, deep and explosive. The last piece, "Activated Progression", in particular reverses the roles between computer and the human musician. The software never messes up the phase. The human would do his best to gradually change from one state to another. Once decisions are made regarding registration and finger assignment, the human should behave like a well-fabricated wind-up toy. The two hands remain offset the entire time, and at the fastest possible speed, enact patterns of three notes (left hand) and four notes (right hand). The computer meanwhile, moves from Euclidean rhythm to Euclidean rhythm over leisurely time periods.”
After more than 12 years, Einstürzende Neubauten’s new studio album Alles in Allem is finally here.
"The album opens yet another unexpected door in 40 years of ongoing sound research by a very experimental group of musicians around Blixa Bargeld. This band, like nearly no other, has managed to create a musical cosmos. It has, in fact, built up its own genre by uniquely combining edgy sound with sophisticated poetry. Appropriately, in the Year of the Rat – the symbol of ingenuity and versatility according to the Chinese zodiac – the band is not resting on the laurels of its last four decades. Instead, it curiously continues to explore everything that the sound universe has to yield, with one eye on the future and with boundless playfulness.
The unique sound and textual landscapes of the band, founded in 1980 in Berlin, reveal the timelessness that Blixa Bargeld, N. U. Unruh, Alexander Hacke, Jochen Arbeit and Rudolph Moser have continuously maintained. And yet, through experimental approaches to songwriting, instruments developed over four decades and collective input, the band sounds remarkably cutting edge within its own time. In fact, through its individual brand of music the Einstürzende Neubauten seem to always command each and every manifestation of the here and now – whether industrial in its early years, the driving beats of the 1990s or its more considered later work. The verse “Wir hatten tausend Ideen / Und alle waren gut” (We had a thousand ideas / And all of them were good) from albumtrack “Am Landwehrkanal” could easily be perceived as the band’s description of itself."
Belgian rave radge packet DJ DAVID GOBLIN rallies THE HORDE including Low Jack, Hajj, and Dj NJ Drone for ‘Ork Muzik 20K’ - a keenly awaited follow-up to the cult, certifiably unhinged ‘Ork Muzik’ assembly of 2018.
Sounding the klaxon for club ogres of the harder and freakier taxonomies, ‘Ork Muzik 20K’ sees DJ David Goblin gang up with Low Jack’s B-Ball in 8 bits of of jiggy grime pigouts, cavernous trancehall and Dutch cauldron-bubblers, inviting everyone from Jonathan Davis to Lil Jon and their pals from Brussels along for a trample. Best believe it’s as daft and highly enjoyable as their debut showcase from some 18 months ago.
DJ David Goblin bosses the lot with ‘Barouf (Bonus Track)’ coughing up 9 mins of rave horns, knobbled techno and terroreggaeton hardstyle hybrids, and Hajj impresses with the hi-wire steppers drama of ‘Pour Mes Kheys’. The late ‘90s/early ‘00s rap metal yowl of Korn gets wretched up in cruddiest modern yardcore style by Estoc and Abby, while Low Jack does a hopping mad frenchtek sound in his B-Ball Joints alias.
“One year and a half has passed since Dj David Goblin unleashed the power of his Muzik. Though his ego bar has been filled, the Goblin asked seven mortal identities to experience an orkish avatar and join him for a second chapter. Dj David Goblin & The Horde banded together and stood united against the Burning Reality. You, human, you are not prepared…”
ADULT. make a triumphant return after their 2018 album This Behavior. This chilling continuation takes the form of Perception is/as/of Deception, an anxiety fueled cyclone of pandemonium that only ADULT. would know how to harness.
"While This Behavior was recorded in the isolated snow-covered woods of northern Michigan, Perception is/as/of Deception was given life in a temporary space the duo created by painting their windowless basement entirely black, with the sole intention to deprive their senses, question their perceptions, and witness the resulting ramifications.
With over 23 years and a sprawling discography left in their wake, Adam Lee Miller and Nicola Kuperus have spent their entire career as ADULT. obscuring any defined genre or style. With a history as uncanny as ADULT., the pieces that making up Perception is/as/of Deception might be perceived as their most punk-infused and introspective work to date. The elements of frustration and apprehension that have consistently woven throughout their material are at full mast, although augmented by a strident and more “head-on” approach.
Tracks like Have I Started at the End successfully maintain the duo’s classic EBM signatures and synthesized aggression, cradled by a suspicious mantra that questions….what’s the point? Why Always Why offers a disorienting mutation of the heralded sounds of classic dance music, like a remix that escaped prison and is on the run. The dystopian anthem, Total Total Damage, comes in full force with an frantic energy which jolts any bystanders to attention, with only the defiant chants of Kuperus’ vocals outlining the ever-degenerating state of societal affairs. The dramatically glam synth parts scattered throughout the album, while at times ominous in nature, seem to also act as a merciful reminder that through the journey of Perception is/as/of Deception, one can still enjoy the chaos.
With the rampant sense of emptiness on the minds of many these days, there continues to be few attempts at scoring these common, unfortunate human qualities with pure sincerity. Thankfully, ADULT. has a long-standing reputation for creating the soundtrack for our insecurities, and Perception is/as/of Deception further solidifies their apprehensive position."
Timely, remastered reminder of the raging bliss and melancholic qualities to Celer’s early 2006 release.
’Scols’ renders a womb-like wash of ambient noise and pads from a duo then on the cusp of emerging into ambient music’s favourite projects of that era and the upswell of activity surrounding the likes of Tim Hecker, The Caretaker, Deaf Center and Stephan Mathieu, who coincidentally and beautifully executed the remastering job.
While Celer as a solo project has perhaps explored a more soothing sound, and Will Long’s solo work has taken him into deep house with Long Trax, these early recordings with his sadly departed wife and collaborator Danielle Baquet-Long bear their teeth in a noisier, more tempestuous way than we recall and offers a broodingly contemplative, mazy experience readied with a déjà vu-like stealth for new and old ears alike.
Moses Sumney evades definition as an act of duty...
"A young life spent betwixt Southern California and Accra, Ghana - not so much rootless as an epyphite, an air plant. The scale is cinematic but the moves are precise deeds of art and stewardship. Sumney's new, generous album, ‘græ’, is an assertion that the undefinable still exists and dwelling in it is an act of resistance.
To try to pin Sumney down on a sound - and really, on any matter - is to end up with a hand full of fog, but his genius is never allowing the set to sound like a hodgepodge. His new double album expands on the sonic universe built in Sumney's debut LP Aromanticism and subsequent EP Black In Deep Red, 2014. The songs on græ may be divergent, like the visceral, Smashing Pumpkins drama of "Virile" and the intoxicated, outro jazz of "Gagarin." There's the kinky, ambiguous bop of "Cut Me" countered with the sweeping, amphitheater-ready "Bless Me." But there's that voice, always unknowable and penetrating, threading these pieces together: a heavenly rasp, a whale call, Miles' horn, a soulful snarl. It all works to create a paradox, keeping art and artist somewhere between any one sure thing - but surely something that demands your attention affixed and your breath bated. All of this is græ.
There's probably a biblical analogy to be made about a person who just happens to be named Moses, who flees the binary, splits a massive body into two pieces, and leads us through the in-between - holy and wholly rebellious. By breaking up græ into two multifaceted, dynamic pieces, Sumney is quite literally creating a "grey" in-between space for listeners to absorb and consider the art. Not strictly singles, not strictly albums, never altogether songs or spoken word segments on their own. It's neither here nor there. Neither/Nor, if you will."
The Quickening is an improvised work between Jim White and Marisa Anderson.
"White and Anderson share an abounding appetite for musical exploration. White, as a member of Venom P Stinger, Dirty Three, and Xylouris White, is well known for his creative and idiosyncratic drumming. His singular abilities have also led to collaborations with Cat Power, PJ Harvey, and Bill Callahan among others.
Anderson’s prolific output as a solo performer, her mastery of traditional folk and blues forms and her abilities to make them entirely her own has established her as one of the most exciting and forward-thinking guitarists of the last decade.
Jim White and Marisa Anderson instrumental voices’ are unmistakable and spellbindingly lyrical. Anderson unravels global guitar traditions into atmospheres all their own through improvisations and transforming melodic lines. While White implements an array of sticks, brushes, and techniques that imbue each rhythmic percussion passage with its own distinct personality. Together their melodic flourishes cascade and twist upon one another, at times trading conversational exchanges, and at others drifting in unison as if lost in the same train of thought.
White and Anderson’s considerable technical skills are used in the most inventive and unconventional manner on their debut duo recording, The Quickening. The duo’ friendship and shared explorative nature inform these warm and daring improvisations. Their remarkable performances take the listener on a journey of exuberant discovery."
A new albm from Brock Van Wey, aka bvdub.
"Ten songs impossible to describe in words, but which will breach the heart of all those who lose themselves in this sonic wonder. Completely devoid of vocals for the first time ever, Brock spins but layers upon layers of divine clouds, gradually darkening, gradually closing in - expertly mastered by the artist himself, culminating in arguably the best album he has composed for Glacial Movements to date."
Alessandro Tedeschi – label founder of Glacial Movements
‘Lifetime’ is the debut album proper by Klein, following from 2016’s head-spinning introduction made with ‘Only’. Recorded by Klein over the past 18 months, the album renders her mosaic of ideas taken from Gospel composer James Cleveland to film pioneer Spencer Williams and 18th C. tonalities in dreamlike 3D, and elevates her form of abstract, contemporary spirituality to quietly jaw-slapping degrees.
Where Klein’s earliest album seemingly came out of nowhere and left us grasping for precedents and cues, ‘Lifetime’ is confidently presented as Klein’s master opus and an unambiguous product of both her religious upbringing and current mindstates, making explicit reference to “the King of Gospel Music” composer James Cleveland and the groundbreaking endeavours of American jazz and pop composer, singer and pianist Spencer Williams, whose approaches to music, art and form patently resonate with Klein’s, and have concretely paved the way for her music.
The results, self-described as “giving someone your diary” are perhaps surprisingly shy of Klein’s physical voice. Instead she focusses on the mix of oneiric and hyper-realistic sound-scaping which has long distinguished her music from the crowd, and tends to use the voices of others, from samples to field recordings and a collaboration with conceptual sister Matana Roberts, to express herself literally. And it’s perhaps Matana Roberts’ own music that provides the strongest comparison for ‘Lifetime’, as Matana’s epoch-spanning, travelogue-style ‘Coin Coin’ chapters share much in common with Klein’s deep topographical reading of her own ontology, and the way their shared exploration of lineage has lead their respective musics to similar conclusions.
It’s fair to say that knowing exactly what the music is supposed to reflect alters the listener’s perception, and ‘Lifetime’ somehow brings Klein’s music closer to an autobiographical stage-play with accompanying pamphlet of notes. In that context Klein the character depicted on the cover plays the role of both actor, writer, director, and set designer; a metamorphic constant as the album seamlessly transitions between scenes of instrumental, textural dialogue and and candid snapshots of reality, featuring her and friends reacting live to a news report.
Between the combustible disjuncture of amniotic ambient, brute digital noise and naif glossolalia in ‘Lifetime’ thru the chamber-like trap of ‘Claim It’ to the incredible, Lynchian expanse of ‘Honour’, and a gripping collage recalling Deathprod-meets-Firewire in ‘Never Will I Disobey’, she establishes immersive conditions that bring her art to life in the most vivid way, presenting her music at its most oblique yet vulnerable, and defined yet open-ended, speaking as much to her personal condition as a hypermodern state of cognitive/cultural/spiritual dissonance experienced by her generation.
Matmos’ Drew Daniel wraps up a sensitive anti-fascist statement with ‘Shall We Go On Sinning So That Grace May Increase?’ in his 4th album proper as The Soft Pink Truth, starring guest vocals by Colin Self, Angel Deradoorian, and Jana Hunter. It's quite a trip...
Daniel returns to dancefloor-wise fundamentals and more sensuous styles here that link back to the project’s emergence as the result of a bet by Matthew Herbert that Daniel couldn’t produce a decent house record. Twenty years later he’s still proving Herbert wrong, showing off a fine grasp of deep house dynamics in parts, but typically offset by his tastes for stranger, more esoteric modes of ambient and modern classical elements which come to define this record.
While the album is presented as a response to the torrid reign of Trump in America, Daniel offers a suite that errs toward hypnagogic meditation with a few key bits of dancefloor communion holding it together. If you’re just after his prized deep house styles, go straight to the padded swang of ‘We’, the buoyant and breezy flex of ’Sinning’, and the shimmering ambient jazz house of ‘Grace’, but if you’re in it for the ride, expect to be carried away on warm currents of new age bliss and Reichian minimalism in between those moments, and let yourself go with the album’s flow, celebrating creation and communion over nihilism.
Gorgeous opiated ambient pop drift and wheeze from low key masters of their style, variously based in Denver and Manchester, brought together with smudged sax and seductively distant keening vocals in a gently frayed free ambient jazz mode.
“The Humble Bee & Offthesky come back with a second opus after their first one on IIKKI in 2019. Including Rin Howell for the voice and Cody Yantis for the sax like previously. This second opus is a perfect continuity with their first collaboration, a delicate and detailed piece with a dusty out of time atmosphere.”
Pivotal players of the OG ‘90s D&B scene lock off armfuls of classics in a legendary instalment of the DJ-Kicks series
The Metalheadz co-founder, Kemistry’s classic mix with long-running DJ partner Storm epitomised their cuttingly stylized, deep and darkside take on the sound surrounding Metalheadz the label and their club nights at Blue Note.
Swerving thru heavy rollers and tech-step fingers from the top table, including badness from Dillinja, Digital & Spirit (R.I.P), Goldie, Jonny L, Dom + Roland, and many more, this mix inarguably paved the way for young DJs back in the day and still kicks the shit out of loads of new skool D&B.
Straight Songs Of Sorrow combines musical trace elements from early Mark Lanegan albums with the synthesized constructs of later work.
"Here are 15 songs inspired by a story: his life story, as documented by his own hand in his new memoir, Sing Backwards And Weep. Straight Songs Of Sorrow feels both definitive and unique, a culmination of its creator’s arc yet also indicative of the energy that drives him onto future horizons.
Today, Lanegan is a renowned songwriter and a much-coveted collaborator, as adept at electronica as with rock, constantly honing his indomitable voice: an asphalt-laced linctus for the soul. While the memoir documents a struggle to find peace with himself, his new album emphasis the extent to which he came to realise that music is his life."
Regresa, Buscabulla’s long-awaited debut.
"The album, recorded in its entirety in Raquel’s and Luis Alfredo’s home studio in Puerto Rico, is an emotional rollercoaster in which they face and ponder the issues affecting them and Puerto Rican society at large.
For the finishing touches, the band worked with Patrick Wimberly (Chairlift, MGMT, Solange, Blood Orange, etc.) who contributed additional production and mixed the album. They also enlisted their dear friend Roberto Carlos Lange, aka Helado Negro, to contribute an orchestral arrangement for ‘Club Tú y Yo’."
Kreamiest ‘80s kosmiche from Lapre resurfaces from pre-reunification era Berlin, bubbling between kosmiche disco to folk-rock plumes and martian vistas - RIYL Manuel Göttsching.
"In the mid 80's Rudolf Langer (formerly of Tyndall) and Peter Preuﬂ teamed up to create Lapre as a vehicle for their adventures in sonic experimentation. They set about capturing their nocturnal rehearsal room sessions on tape, Langer on synthesizer and Preuﬂ on guitar. With the exception of a solitary single and a few extremely limited cassette runs, Lapre released no further material during their active phase.
"It was not until 2018 that their works became accessible to a wider audience, when Bureau B released the Auferstehung retrospective, drawing on tracks from 1983 to 1984. Banzai, the second collection of Lapre recordings, follows up by concentrating on their creative output from the years 1985 to 1987. The eponymous centrepiece of the album, Banzai I, first appeared on a 1987 sampler issued by Pirol - its inclusion on Berliner Elektroniknacht caused quite a stir amongst connoisseurs, with the disc changing hands as a sough-after rarity.
Here, the track is accompanied by five previously undiscovered gems from the Lapre archives. Banzai documents the duo's impressive latter phase, moving on from their earlier cosmic collages into an altogether more playful state of mind. Light streams through synthesizer compositions suspended in reverie, driven forwards by rugged drum machine beats as Peter Preuﬂ weaves shimmering guitars into the mix. The needle on the dial sweeps from abstract rapture to exuberant pop in an instant.
A well-kept secret at the time of its inception, this music was barely audible beyond the borders of Berlin's underground scene. It thus gives us great pleasure to give these tracks the attention they ultimately deserve, more than 30 years later."
Oh fuck yes! Alvin Lucier bangs and scrapes the life into/out of (one or more) violins with riveting results in his ongoing series of new releases for Oren Ambarchi’s Black Truffle.
Following the gripping bass weight of Alvin Lucier’s ‘Criss Cross’ and the glorious, reverberating ‘Ricochet Lady’ for glockenspiel, ’String Noise’ offers another unique musical insight from legendary, 88 year old Avantgarde composer Lucier, ranging from an amazing 52’ work of staccato, pitching percussion to the penetrative, lushly discordant friction of ‘Love Song (two violins)’ and a geologically-downhome folk string drone piece recalling Tony Conrad works.
"Continuing Black Truffle’s series of releases documenting the recent work of legendary American experimental composer Alvin Lucier, String Noise presents three major works for violin solo and duo composed between 2004 and 2019. Lucier has developed his compositions in close collaboration with many instrumentalists over the years; the three works presented here are performed by the violinists for whom they were originally written, Conrad Harris and Pauline Kim Harris, who together make up the innovative violin duo String Noise, and have premiered works by a plethora of major figures in contemporary music.
The long-form compositions presented here continue Lucier’s life-long exploration of acoustic phenomena, drawing on aspects of some of his most well-known compositions and extending them into new instrumentation. Tapper (2004) extends the experiments with echolocation – gathering information about an environment by listening to the echoes of sounds produced within it – that Lucier began with his classic 1969 work Vespers, where performers explore a space equipped with hand-held pulse oscillators. Here, the same principle is put into practice for solo violin, the body of which the performer taps repeatedly with the butt end of the bow while moving around the performance space. The result is a subtly shifting web of echoes and resonances produced by the reflection of the sharp tap off the surfaces of the room (in this case, the Drawing Center in New York).
In Love Song (2016), two violinists are connected by a long wire stretched between the bridges of their instruments, causing the sounds played on one violin to also be heard through the other. As the two violinists play long tones using only the open E string, they move in a circular motion around the performance space, thus changing the tension of the wire, which creates a remarkable array of variations in pitch and timbre ranging from ghostly wavering pitches reminiscent of a singing saw to near-electronic tones.
In Halo (2019), one or more violinists walk slowly through the performance space in a zig-zag pattern while sustaining long tones. As in Tapper, the consistent sound production reveals the sonic properties of the environment. As the title of the piece suggests, the outcome is a shimmering halo of sound produced by the reflection of the violin’s extended tones off the walls and ceiling of the performance space (in this case, Alvin's home)."
Katie Austra Stelmanis has been better known by her middle name for three albums, ten years, and countless tours.
"She wrote, produced, and performed all her own records, occasionally sharing the spotlight with a band to tour live. From the outside, things were going really well for a while: she built a devoted fan base and sold out shows all around the world. However, on the inside, Stelmanis was beginning to feel stagnant and uninspired. “I was losing faith in my own ideas,” she explains. Without realising it, she’d got caught up in a toxic relationship that was tearing her apart.
It wasn’t until Stelmanis was ready to face her insecurities that she was able to see a way forward: “My creative and personal relationships were heavily intertwined, and I knew the only answer was to part ways with all of the people and comforts that I’d known for the better part of a decade and start again.” Alongside making changes in her personal life, HiRUDiN saw Austra taking an entirely different, free-spirited approach to making a record. Seeking out all new collaborators, she booked three days of sessions in Toronto with improv musicians she’d never met before. They included two thirds of contemporary classical improv group c_RL, the cellist and kamanche duo Kamancello, kulintang ensemble Pantayo, and a children’s choir.
Accumulating a vast and vibrant mass of source material, Austra then holed up in a studio in the Spanish countryside and took a collage approach to sampling, arranging, writing and producing to reveal the songs that would form the album. “I found myself really enjoying the role of producer for this record,” she says, “directing and arranging a very disparate array of parts and people and feeling strong in my own conviction for what I wanted it to sound like.” HiRUDiN additionally saw her work alongside co-producers for the first time, Rodaidh McDonald and Joseph Shabason, and she brought in David Wrench and Heba Kadry to mix and master the record respectively. “It was incredibly liberating and a huge learning process to work with so many different people,” she says. “I felt completely revitalized.”
While Austra’s third album, Future Politics, was concerned with the external power structures that shape society, HiRUDiN points inward. It traces a deeply personal journey towards regeneration, dealing with the fallout of toxic relationships, queer shame, and insecurity along the way. Named after the peptide released by leeches that is the most potent anticoagulant in the world, HiRUDiN is about the importance of healing the self, letting go of harmful influences, and finding the power to rebuild through exploring your innermost desires. It reaps the rewards of Austra’s leap into the unknown, in her most introspective yet inventive statement to date."
Ride handed the entirety of their highly acclaimed 6th studio album, This Is Not A Safe Place, to mysterious London act, Pêtr Aleksänder, who stripped the songs back to just the vocals and added their customarily beautiful string arrangements, keys and synth textures beneath them.
"The results take Ride deep into the neo-classical / ambient territory that a couple of the remixes of their previous album hinted at and will appeal to fans of those musical styles, as well as those who consider themselves a part of the band’s die-hard fanbase."
Berlin based composer and producer Ben Lukas Boysen returns with a new album.
"Since the release of Spells, Ben continued to be in demand for his scoring abilities, collaborating with cellist and composer Sebastian Plano on the music for David OReilly’s landmark innovative video game Everything. It was added to the long list for the Best Animated Short at the 90th Academy Awards, making it the first video game to qualify for an Oscar. In 2019 Ben contributed to the Brainwaves project alongside fellow Erased Tapes artists Michael Price and Högni Egilsson in collaboration with a team of scientists at Goldsmiths University, London — linking states of consciousness and music. He also scored the soundtrack to the DAFF award-winning German TV show Beat, the feature film The Collini Case, and co-composed the music for the short film Manifesto with Nils Frahm, starring Cate Blanchett.
As with Gravity and Spells, Ben has an array of musical guests adorning Mirage, including long time collaborator, Berlin based cellist and composer Anne Müller as well as Australian saxophonist and composer Daniel Thorne — for whom Ben wrote parts specifically, having heard his 2019 solo debut Lines of Sight. Lead track Medela features both and takes the listener on a kaleidoscopic journey that slides with ease across sonic terrains. By the end it’s difficult to tell what exactly was heard; “I wanted to experiment with blending these recordings with 100% artificial elements, often to points where an instrument becomes an abstraction of what it was and the musicians’ presence in the song is much more of an important DNA string in the song rather than an obvious layer.”
Mirage, like its title suggests, feels like a sonic optical illusion — each piece containing sounds and techniques bent and processed to make them seem overexposed; the overly felt-y piano on Clarion, Daniel Thorne’s saxophone on Medela, the single note voice of Lisa Morgenstern splitting into different chords on Empyrean. It is detectable but also easily missed, like the double piano on Kenotaph that could be perceived as one, but is actually two pianos in two different rooms, separate countries even — one is digital while the other is acoustic."
Ital Tek (a.k.a. Alan Myson) returns to Planet Mu with his sixth album ‘Outland‘.
"The album was written during a period of new beginnings following a move out of the city to a quieter space and the birth of his first child. During this time of self-imposed isolation Alan recorded a huge amount of source material and spent weeks and months sitting up at night with his newborn, listening back and making notes on how the new record should take form, focusing and developing ideas to shape this lean ten-track album. Alan talks of the record being a collaboration between two parts of himself, something that definitely comes across as the album unfolds. Textures are something Alan excels at and on his last album, the largely beatless ‘Bodied’, it felt as if he was building a new sound-world.
On ‘Outland’ he expands upon this. The album brings together the extremes of Alan's sound, contrasting roughened bass and beats with starker more detailed atmospheres and emotions. The most beat-driven song here is ‘Deadhead’, with its gnarled bouncing bass, angular distorted melodies and cavernous textures. On tracks like ‘Bladed Terrain’ the contrasts are even more defined with buzzing drones and razor sharp drums plunging into a grainy fog, giving the track a dramatic 3D feel. Then there are the stop-start pauses of ‘Leaving The Grid’, where the song evaporates into space before reemerging with shuddering rhythms and ghostly textures. Melodies crawl around these tracks as if they’re just waking up, as heard on the atmospheric ‘Angel In Ruin’.
The sleep-deprived fraying of the senses became Alan’s routine and one which he says gave him a renewed creative energy; half-asleep, working through the night, and then into the daytime super-focused but exhausted. Prone to audio hallucinations whilst writing the album, he aimed to capture these distortions in his perception of pitch and time, and you can hear these effects interpreted on tracks like ‘Endless’ and ‘Open Heart’ as melodies phase and slip out of time like an emotional Doppler effect. This is also true of the soaring atonal synths at the peak of ‘Diamond Child’, which feel like the aural equivalent of eye floaters. These intuitive feelings and functions are a difficult thing to capture in sound, but Alan manages it beautifully and always makes the result feel warm and adventurous, heartfelt and epic."
The latest instalment in Fluid Audio's beautiful ''Book Editions' series is a collaboration between Daniel Crossley and Craig Tattersall (The Humble Bee), recording together as Margins.
"Stillness is a running theme in 'I Tired For Hours'. In fact, it’s the sound of a prolonged siesta; music of sustained drifts and small particles of sound. Ambient nooks and crannies are empty save for the oscillations, light hisses, and slender drones, all of which shimmer like a heat-haze in the middle of a July afternoon. Field recordings bring an immediate clarity and a sense of place to the ambient mirage. Its quiet backstreets are surrounded by a quiet semblance of music.
Shy ambient sounds lie in corners – they’re bright, and not plagued by a shadow from an overhanging rooftop, despite living in the recesses of the town. One can imagine a nearby harbour, with its boats rocking gently from side to side, engaged in the metronomic rhythm of the music’s tinkling notes. They’re the only sounds to walk the backstreets. Other soft sounds are embedded in the community, too, looking out from windows and adorning balconies. The sounds are familiar and comfortable, with the feel of a small town. Nostalgic elements are imprinted on the record via a series of photographs: an old image of a couple, for instance, adds emotional resonance to the sound. Sepia-washed from years and years of ageing, the photograph can sometimes age the record, but the music remains immediate, bright, and fresh, even if its textures are starting to fray, their sounds slowly being erased."
Double CD package collecting the two most recent Cremation Lily albums; ‘The Processes And Instruments of Normal People’ and ‘In England Now, Underwater’, previously only available on vinyl with the latter being sold out for a while. RIYL Leyland Kirby, Bellows, Helm...
"The Processes And Instruments of Normal People' was Recorded whilst living in Hastings and originally released as a double cassette on his Strange Rules label in 2017, The Processes… forms a trilogy of albums in the CL canon that were influenced by the life and atmospheres within British coastal towns. Composed using a rudimentary set-up of synth, drum machine and two modified walkmans, CL draws upon a broad range of influences from the underground electronic music spectrum.
Noise, tape music and ambient techno are referenced and align in a cohesive collection of tracks, flowing fluidly in sequence. Melancholic synth pads and deep kick drums intersect with crude field recordings and occasional bursts of feedback, evoking an uncertain claustrophobia. More like being pulled under than carried above. Features additional piano and violin by Theodore Cale Schafer, new mastering by John Hannon."
'In England Now, Underwater’ features Vast, expansive and introspective works utilising place-specific found sound on this second Cremation Lily LP for Alter. Contemplating mortality, illness and the perennial bleakness of British winter in a seaside town we find Zen Zsigo experimenting with piano, violin, synthesiser and walkman tape players. Layering field recordings of the Hastings shoreline atop druggy, stretched out 303 basslines and snippets of spoken word there seems to be an overarching thematic of memory and reflection at play.
From vignettes of crumbling glass and bittersweet drones through to sprawling, semi-rhythmical pieces (‘As a sea creature...’) it seems as if Zsigo is trawling the coast for fragments of its former glory. The end result of his study manages to echo the work of Yoran, Leyland Kirby and even Jacob Kirkegaard yet the rare moments where he lays bare his own vocal narrative seemingly transforms In England Now, Underwater into sonic diary territory. Mixing salt-water soaked cassette loops with haunting, minimalist piano motifs and warped recordings of crashing waves and bird noise an intense atmosphere of Ballard’s drowned world is evoked through sound.”
Dark Fat is a celebration and documentation of 10 years of Nurse With Wound live shows, patched together from recordings made by fastidious archiver M.S. Waldron, and further embroidered by Colin Potter and Andrew Liles.
The suite seamlessly spills over 2 discs, coursing with a surreal, miasmic dream logic that’s entirely distinct to Nurse With Wound’s sprawling catalogue of 100s of releases since the early ‘80s. The ephemera of 20th century avant-garde experimentation ebbs and swells in a heaving mass with elements of blues, rock, soul, free jazz and noise, constantly searching for an elusive spirit in transition between spheres of influence and psychedelic dimensions.
It would take a much braver man than me to try and sum up NWW in any narrower terms. They’re stylistic pirates sailing a treacherous black sea without recourse to the stars, charts or maps, simply divining their own never-ending route to fuck knows where and thankfully allowing us to hang on to their heavily barnacled hull and gobble the exotic sweet meats they chuck overboard.
The album features a contribution by Organum's principal member David Jackman.
"During the mid-1980s, Stapleton and Jackman worked together a number of times, with Nurse With Wound and Organum splitting an LP on United Dairies and Stapleton appearing on some Organum recordings including "Submission", "Vacant Lights" and "Crux"."
Busy blasts of theatrical prog metal by the prolific studio demon JG Thirlwell and Swedish multi-instrumentalist Simon Steenland
“I first met Simon Steensland in Stockholm in 2017. I was invited there to workshop and perform a commission for the ensemble Great Learning Orchestra. Great Learning Orchestra are a collective that operate after the model of Cornelius Cardew’s Scratch Orchestra, using musicians of a variety of backgrounds and abilities.
Steensland happened to be playing fretless six string sub-bass in this iteration of the ensemble.
I had been a fan of Steensland’s work for some years through his albums like Led Circus and Fat Again.I admired the dark power in his work and it seemed adjacent to a lot of music that I love and inspires me - groups in the Rock in Opposition and Zeuhl worlds such as Magma, Univers Zero and Present, as well as 70’s era King Crimson and Bartok.
Steensland liked what I had written for Great Learning Orchestra and wanted to do a cover version of one of the movements. I sent him the score and the results were remarkable. He didn’t know what to do with the track, so I proposed that we make a collaboration album to extend the work.
We sent tracks back and forth. I would start one and send it to him; he would overdub parts and send it back, and I would do the same. Sometimes extending sections or adding new sections. Steensland then got the extraordinary drummer Morgan Ågren to play on all the tracks, which brought them alive in an explosive manner. We also added overdubs from a variety of guest musicians on oboe, bass clarinet, violin, voice and so on.
After pre-mixing at my studio in Brooklyn, I did the final mixes at Gary’s Electric Studio B with Al Carlson, with whom I had worked on the Zola Jesus and Xordox albums. The result is Oscillospira.”
Lorenzo Senni’s ravishing new album ‘Scatto Matto’ prizes thrilling new music from a teenaged background as drummer for straight edge hardcore bands and a nostalgia for the rush of trance, bringing the tension of his early releases to a glorious conclusion.
‘Scatto Matto’ is a complex love note to the ecstatic, aerobic, and emotional ‘90s and 00’s dance and rock music formative in Lorenzo Senni’s multidisciplinary practice. Its title translates as ‘Check Mate’ and it is the ultimate move in Lorenzo’s triptych of PointillisticT records which began with ‘Quantum Jelly’ in 2012, and arrived on Warp in 2016’s ‘Persona’ and its follow-up ‘The Shape Of Trance to Come’.
Refining a now signature, minimalist No Beat etiquette of crisply melodic arps and repetitive loops, Lorenzo more confidently and cinematically expresses a broader spectrum of feelings, lucidly advancing his style and language of Pointillistic Trance to reap a hugely rewarding album for lovers of emotive, electronic music and contemporary composition. The rapt tension of Lorenzo’s early releases surges out in eight parts where his lavish, romantic virtuosity is tempered by a focussed tactility and tone. Working with his trusty Roland JP8000 and some computer editing software, he pushes his ideas in joyous rushes whose elaborate emotional colours speak to a more self-aware grasp of style.
Between the ebullient opener ‘Discipline of Enthusiam’ and the surprisingly introspective closer ’THINK BIG’, Senni engages himself and the listener in a game push and pull of feelings, epitomised in the melancholy empowerment of anthems like ‘Canone Infinito’ and ‘The Power Of Failing’, and captured in the tongue-in-cheek title and jowly pomp of ‘Wasting Time Writing Lorenzo Senni Songs’. ’Scatto Matto’ may be the last in Lorenzo’s PointillisticT trilogy, but it signifies a broader horizon for his sound, whose soundtrack potential has already been proven in collaboration with Franceso Fantini on ‘The Challenge’ and in the Bandersnatch episode of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror.
Divine, endlessly reverberating dream-pop from the much loved Windy & Carl, reprising and refining their very special brand of shimmering shoegaze vistas on their first album proper since 2012.
Born in dream-pop’s second wind, when it shifted further into etheric margins after 4AD brought it to near mainstream acclaim during the ‘80s, Windy & Carl were at the eye of a slow moving sound emerging from Chicago and centring around the Kranky label in the ‘90s, whom they’ve become synonymous with over the years.
With ‘Allegiance and Conviction’ Windy’s vocals are again an elusive, poetic presence, drifting in and out of focus to channel Nico at her smokiest, or even one of the alien spirit voices collated in the gorgeous Tongues Of Light sides, and all typically bathed in their deeply anaesthetised sound, smudging the guitar style of Robin Guthrie into imaginary infinity.
Windy & Carl have been crafting inner space electric guitar and bass vistas for nearly three decades now, but their latest feels as vital and vaporous as any peak opus in their vast catalog. Subtly more succinct than their previous albums, ‘Allegiance and Conviction’ finds Carl Hultgren’s guitar amassed in pillowy layers of bass and cirrus timbral iridescence, feeling out sound stage settings for Windy that shift from the chthonic, sepulchral drone-pop majesty of ‘The Stranger’, and the breezier pastoral relief of ‘Recon’, to the densely forested fug that mask her in ‘Alone’, while the shimmering instrumental hope of ‘Will I See the Dawn’ pays up in quietly cathartic effect up in the romantic guitar strokes and decaying angelic chorales that cradle Windy’s fading spirit on the closer ‘Crossing Over’. Lend an ear and you’ll be richly rewarded.