Kompakt’s ambient almanac returns for 2017 blooming with wistful compositions from regular veterans including Wolfgang Voigt, and returning contributors such as Scanner and Thore Pfieffer.
As definitions of ambient music have naturally morphed with the times, Kompakt’s take on the sound remains classically rooted in gauzy, opiated romance, presenting twelve diaphanous quilts ranging from the new age bliss of Yui Onodera’s Cromo2 thru to the frosted/defrosting timbres of Final 9 and Final 10 by Magazine’s Jens-Uwe Beyer, with distinguished highlights appearing in Wolfgang Voigt’s Lynch/Badalamenti-esque mix of Hal by Soulsavers, and the ‘90s ambient sehnsucht of Dekka by Anton Kubikov (SCSI-9).
Night Slugs shell down a floorshow of bangers from Bok Bok, Ikonika, DJ C, Hysterics, Girl Unit, Jam City, Neana, L-Vis 1990, NA, a.o. on the 3rd volume of their carefully compiled Allstars sets.
Six years since they first took a hold, the label demonstrates a subtly matured version of its younger self here, running aces from the old firm alongside freshest future boogie and R&G from new signings and pals.
Bok Bok delivers two highlights in the glyding soul swerve of Good 2 U ft. Semma, and again with the pendulous R&G of Unlimited starring Sweyn J, whilst L-Vios follows suit with the get-low cybeR&B of Sweet Spot ft. Ronika, whilst Girl Unit’s brilliant Madonna flip Queen B also gets a look in alongside Jam City’s heads-down boogie banger4, Direct Drums.
From the new class, Neana’s on that tracky flex with the Jersey-via-UKF bounce of Siberia, and Sheen gets it so right with the lush, arcing digital harmonix of My Syrup, but the biggest cuts are found in NA’s irresistible R&G chop up Ecstasy Edit, and the flashin’ future freestyle killlller, Funky 1st from Helix.
Party season is upon us. This is pure fuel to the fire.
Originally released in small numbers as a custom pressing in 1973, the compelling 'Dini Safarrar' by Senegalese drummer Mor Thiam has gained cult status around the world amongst enthusiasts of jazz, funk, hip hop & African music, and grail status among LP collectors.
"This is the first official reproduction of this album, faithful to the original and made with the blessing and cooperation of Mor Thiam himself, as well as his son Aliaume Thiam, otherwise known as hip hop and R&B superstar Akon.
Mor Dogo Thiam (pronounced 'Chahm') is a cultural historian, dedicated philanthropist and genius on the djembe. He began his career as a drummer while a young boy in his native Senegal, before moving to St. Louis, Missouri in the early 1970s, where his unique musical skills earned him the respect of the local jazz community. A fusion of the traditions of his Senegalese upbringing and the funk & jazz sounds of his new environs, 'Dini Safarrar' was entirely self-funded and was also conceived as a benefit album, with all the proceeds donated to famine relief in Africa.
The subtitle and translation of Dini Safarrar is 'Drums of Fire', though it may be more aptly described as 'Drums of Krakatoa', such is the explosive intensity captured within the grooves. The multitude of pulsating percussive elements throughout each track creates an intense rhythmic dissonance, the musical equivalent of an erupting volcano. It can be no co-incidence that the energy & passion of Akon's music was duly ignited by his father's very same Drums of Fire. May the legacy continue."
Comprehensive, 65-track compendium of Sun Ra’s hard-to-find, 45rpm meteorites
“The immense output of Sun Ra and his many backing bands, coupled with the limited production of many of his releases has long defied dedicated collectors. Parallel to a vast list of LP releases, Sun Ra released numerous 45 RPM singles; one-off meteorites from his prolific cosmic journey. Working closely with Sun Ra LLC and Art Yard Records, it is with great pride that Strut presents a definitive collection of the rare singles released by Sun Ra across his illustrious career, spanning 1952 to 1991.
Released prolifically during the 1950s and more sporadically thereafter, primarily on the Saturn label, the 45s trace the development of Sun Ra’s forward-thinking “Space-Bop” and his unique take on jazz and blues traditions which remains unlike anything else from the period. As with his LPs, most 45s were only pressed in small runs and have since become extremely rare and sought after. Some have only been discovered in physical form in recent years; some were planned and penciled but allegedly never made it to vinyl and some appeared as one-off magazine singles and posthumous releases.”
Letherette reprise that signature, dazed boogie, hip hop and house sound on a rugged 2nd LP, Last Night On The Planet, three years since their eponymous debut.
When they first arrived on Alexander Nut’s Ho Tep label in 2010, Letherette’s fetish for ruddy boogie and vintage proto-house made them a relative novelty, whereas nowadays they operate in a crowded field of producers juicing the last drops of flavour from the ‘80s soul spectrum.
Last Night On The Planet, then, forms a firm reminder of their authentically new/old, built-from-the-booty-up swerve, proving they can work with original vocals in the Dilla-esque bump of Momma feat. Rejjie Snow, and at a full fat hip hop flex with the title track feat. Pyramid Vitra, but the best best bits are arguably found in the instrumentals, with highlights in the airborne funk swang of Shanel, in the square-bassed Chicago deep house of Wootera, and the glittering flux of chiming exotica and subtle, Gold Panda-esque vocal processing in Rubu.
A very user-friendly, soulful slab.
A leading light of contemporary, deep Detroit house, Jay Daniel drops the drum machines for more personalised breakbeats and vibes in his sterling debut album.
Broken Knows is testament to Daniel’s restlessly searching spirit, resulting from his search for unique grooves which ran into a conceptual dead end with drum programming and pushed him to pick up the sticks and keys and start recording himself thru a proper mixing desk in his mother’s basement.
Whilst his grooves for Sound Signature, Wild Oats, Apron, and, most recently, his own Watusi High label, have always demonstrated a killer feel for off-centre rhythms, the drum machine clearly wasn’t ductile enough for his wants. Therefore Broken Knowz presents a sound much closer to his personal ideals.
As heard in the lead single, Knowledge of Selfie the results come as close as any to the original West London broken beat sound of Dego/Cousin Cockroach, with deep highlights for the ‘floor in the percolated shuffle of Squeaky Maya and the tucked bustle of Niiko, but overall this is an album for vibing out pre- or post-party, thanks to its unhurried but insistent flow and predilection for lots of space in the mix.
The 5th album from Silver Apples was originally released in 1998 on CD only. A one track album clocking in at over 40 minutes, it features
a sound collage of oscillator noises and sounds with percussion.
At the time it was billed as 'A Voyage of pure exploration beyond the broad established horizons of electronic music.It is an adventure into perceptions of an unparallel universe all it's own'.
Totally absorbing session between longtime spars Mica Levi and Oliver Coates, spawned from an impromptu NTS radio session in 2014 where they decided to hear what happens when they fused Mica’s electronics with fragments of Coates’ classical compositions.
The results are really quite incredible, truly surpassing the sum of their parts to instinctively feel out an earthbound but sky-gazing sound peppered with all the emotive ambiguity, strange infidelities and instrumental dexterity that you’d be warranted in expecting from this duo.
In just under half an hour they sashay thru thirteen succinct vignettes, perfusing Mica’s bass bumps and diaphanous atmospheres with Coates’ spectral, plasmic string gestures with a tactile looseness that allow forms to emerge on their own terms, much in the same, mosaic manner as Mica’s Feeling Romantic Feeling Tropical Feeling Ill mixtape.
Ultimately it’s neither one thing nor another, existing in an ephemeral, quantum flux between electromagnetic traces of grime, noise, knackered techno and ambient classical music with the dreamiest sense of deferred, suspended gratification.
A year after their impressive last album Burn It Down, Detroit techno legends Octave One are back with a nine track album that again shows they are masters of big hypnotic grooves.
"The album’s name is a nod to the fact that the Burden brothers are such revered masters of their hardware. Both in the studio, where they cook up atmospheric house and techno with soaring synths and vocals and also in the live arena, where they are celebrated as one of the most accomplished and forward thinking performers in the game today. That is all the more impressive when you bear in mind they have been active since the ‘80s, most often releasing on their own 430 West label, which is where they appear again here.
Say Lenny: “We’ve been exploring the theme of connection with this project. How technology gives us the illusion that we are closer to each other more than ever. At some point humanity crossed a line where the devices that we created to bring us together are the same devices that are blocking us from organic experiences.”
“Technology is only a tool, which we also had in mind during the recording process.” Adds Lawrence. “We decided to go back to how we used to make our records, when we didn’t have so many ‘sophisticated’ audio devices. Back to when we interacted in the studio together as musicians.”
Things open up with the loose metallic percussive line that is In Mono, which sets the machine made tone and is filled with promise. Locator then immediately gets to action with a gallivanting techno kick and various synth lines wrapping round each other as you get sucked into the groove. Just Don’t Speak (Midnight Sun Redub) is a more deep and house leaning track with big feel good piano keys and slithering synths that will get hands in the air. Proving they have real range, 7 B4 Dawn is a moody and reserved cut with subtle acid pricks, hip swinging claps and a spaced out dead of night feel.
The second half of the album offers peak time business in the form of the spectacular Bad Love II, the whirring and cosmic Sounds of Jericho and the big loops and fluid grooves of [Where] Time Collides. Pain Pressure is a wonky number with big bassline and a focus on percussive patterns as well as some vocals with real attitude and last cut 8 B4 Dawn ends things in a downbeat and sombre way with sad chords and emotive strings. It is pure Detroit, much like the whole album, and rounds out another fine release from these most revered veterans."
Every so often, an album or collection crosses our path and makes us wonder how the hell we've managed to miss out on something so important for so long. Celebrating 100 years of Harry Bertoia, the divine Sonambient box set firmly fits that description; presenting a comprehensive overview of the esteemed sculptor-cum-sound artist’s elemental, near-sacred, long-form recordings of resonant metal rod sculptures and gongs and their incredibly lush harmonic overtones at his barn near Bally, Pennsylvania, USA. Honestly, this set has completely destroyed us...
Established as a renowned American printmaker, sculptor and industrial designer, Harry Bertoia (1915 - 1978) spent the last twenty years of his life dedicated to making these jaw-dropping recordings. Beginning in the late ’50s, after finding financial security with the commercial success of his famous Diamond chair design, he was able to devote himself to sculpture, and, in the ‘60s began experimenting with “sounding sculptures” of vertical metal rods on flat bases that created naturally complex washes of harmonic overtones when played by hand, or even wind.
So enraptured by their possibilities and transcendent appeal, Bertoia dedicated the next 20 years to developing the barn and what he he defined as Sonambient sound, often recording the results with 4 overhead mics onto 1/4” tape. He would release his first, privately pressed Sonambient record in 1970, and, during his final months in 1978, produced a further 10 albums from his archive, which were posthumously issued following his burial beneath a giant gong behind his Sonambient barn.
After remaining untouched until the late ‘90s, this box set collects all 11 albums - which have since become serious collectors items - for the first time. Whilst it’s unnecessary to break down each disc, it is certainly worth noting the remarkable, complex variation between them, yielding a radiant, immersive spectrum of complex noise and rhythm which intersects so many strands of music that we hold dear, that it’s kinda frying our heads to be honest.
Whilst entirely acoustic and improvised - there are no edits or overdubs - the recordings bear a strangely striking resemblance in parts to Roland Kayn’s cybernetic computer music (also recorded around the same era) and Volker Heyn’s ferric cantos, whilst clearly resonating with the gong traditions of south east Asia and the “healing vibrations and shimmering harmonics of Indian classical music, singing bowls, The Well Tuned Piano or Benjamin Franklin’s glass armonica.”
Comparisons aside, though, this is purely unique music from a wholly unique set-up (that still exists as a museum on the same site in Pennsylvania) and should provide countless hours of reflective, metaphysical immersion for those willing to submit themselves. Seriously, this is one of the most beautiful, illuminating, brilliantly put together reissues we've ever come across: here's praying for some vinyl at some point down the line.
Inspired by Eno’s “vision of a psychedelic Africa,” English dub producer Adrian Sherwood and master Jamaican percussionist Bonjo Iyabinghi Noah have collaborated on a series of studio experiments under the African Head Charge moniker for over 35 years. This anthology documents the white hot heat of their first 5 years over 5 discs: ‘My Life In A Hole In The Ground’ (1981), ‘Environmental Studies’ (1982), ‘Drastic Season’ (1983), ‘Off The Beaten Track’ (1986) and ‘Unreleased Tracks & Version Excursions’ (11 rare and unheard tracks from the period on CD for the first time).
Eight of the unreleased tracks on CD5 are available concurrently on vinyl as ‘Return Of The Crocodile’ (ONULP133).
Francesco Tristano puts a big posh donk on it for Derrick May’s Transmat, including four collaborations with the captain of Detroit’s dance music industry himself - his first new productions for 20 years.
Recorded in Barcelona, Detroit, Rome, Paris and Mauritius, Surface Tension can be broadly cleft in two halves; the good bits with Derrick May, and the bits with crap minimal house grooves.
We’ll focus on the former, better parts, where May balances Tristano’s input with a healthy amount of funk in the nervy swang of The Mentor, or underlines the delicate chords of Infinite Rise with a super slinky ride, and with epic effect in the lush roll of In Da Minor.
However, two tracks do cannily buck that trend. On Rocco’s Bounce, Tristano impresses with a nimble fusion of far-Eastern strings wrapped to a bumping Chicago house swerve, and Esoteric Thing catches the pair completely devoid of beats, just drifting along in a placid pastoral ambient scene and blowing sweets nothings at Ryuichi Sakamoto and Brian Eno.
The starting point for these new recordings was an improvised recording session with Giuseppe Ielasi, but as with all RLW works nothing is quite what it seems to be.
"Cutting out the moments of “glory” and recombining them Wehowsky reassembles them into new more detailed compositions. Further improvised sounds were treated and added to the mix. The result may seem like an authentic representation of a real time improvisation, but in reality the pieces are nothing like that…in fact nothing is quite what it seems to be. His music is impossible to pigeonhole into one simple bracket. It is neither industrial or musique concrete, nor computer music nor improvisation.
In fact it could be all of these. Ralf Wehowsky is one of the most respected electronic composers of our day and was also a founder member of the seminal German group P16.D4 and the label Selektion whose ground breaking releases influenced many working in today’s experimental music scene. Previous releases have seen him collaborate with such well known and diverse artists such as Merzbow, Bernhard Guenter, Jim O’Rourke, Achim Wollscheid and Lionel Marchetti."
‘The Complete Works Of Fela Anikulapo-Kuti’ contains an incredible 51 albums across 29 CDs, spanning Fela’s entire career.
This new deluxe edition includes bonus rarities plus previously unreleased tracks. The box set also contains the DVD documentary ‘A Slice Of Fela’, which features live performances as a 52 page booklet with Fela’s biography andalbum commentaries by Chris May
Rare recordings of a ‘lost’ album, documenting a turbulent affair in the 90’s. Reassembled unreleased and virtually unheard tracks; a softer, relaxed side. Features avant-vocalist Viv Corringham.
"Family Fodder, best known for their string of idiosyncratic, playful experimental post-punk singles such as Debbie Harry, Savoir Faire, Film Music and Playing Golf, have had a slew of recent activity.
New Family Fodder albums ‘Classical Music’ and ‘Variety’ together with vocalist Darlini Singh Kaul (daughter of original Fodder singer Dominique Levillain) were issued on The State 51 Conspiracy label. The early recordings ‘Monkey Banana Kitchen’, ‘Sunday Girls’ and ‘Schizophrenia Party’ were given respectful reissue treatments on CD and LP by German label Staubgold.
Alongside these releases Fodder godfather Alig Fodder has collaborated with Psapp and David Shrigley, and toured Europe with a revived 80’s Fodder line-up with new singer Bee Ororo."
An MF Doom classic unavailable for too long.
Tracks compiled originally from the classic Fondle 'Em 12"s, stone genius tracks like 'Dead Bent', 'Gas Drawls', 'Rhymes Like Dimes (with Bobbito aka DJ Cucumber Slice)', 'Doomsday' and 'The M.I.C.'. Referenced to his classics from 2003 it's closer to King Geedorah than Victor Vaughn.