Sheela Rahman a.k.a. Xosar relinquishes her first LP of hypnotic analog techno to Black Opal.
Well versed in analog hardware craft, Xosar is responsible for a string of acclaimed 12"s on Crème Organization, Rush Hour and L.I.E.S. over the last three years. 'Let Go' is her most substantial offering to date, presenting seven cuts of faded house and psychedelic techno according to a mystic agenda. They could be underground classics in an alternate uchronia where they didn't get digital until much later in their species' evolution, leaving this notional race raving to future primitive drum machines patterns like the alien Chicago thunder of 'The Pit' or mirroring Millsian techno mystery in 'Sail 2 Elderon', while 'Prophylaxis' spins off axis into broken techno functions and 'Hades Gate' opens a mind-swallowing psy-trance wormhole. Excellent artwork by John Powell-Jones, too.
Industrial kosmische noise, new on Opal Tapes.
“Beginning with childhood experiments using a cheap keyboard sampler & multi-track tape machine. The Subdermic created hypnotic loops, drawing her early influences from the New Romantic & New Wave era. Her teenage years were drenched with early Acid house and later Techno as both a listener and an emergent musician. This cultivated a growing collection of studio equipment from where she began to hone her sound. Interest in the work of Kosmiche pioneers Klaus Schulze and Tangerine Dream and the expansive, cinematic synth soundtracks of John Carpenter and Lustmord have all informed the Morphology EP, a debut release for The Subdermic on Opal Tapes.
“Most of my music comes from a definitive idea or theme that I’m obliged to express, it’s like a sculpture, starting from a simple place the whole work ethic grows to become fevered and all encompassing. The most important part of writing & arrangement for me is the process of subtraction or sculpting the piece”
This elegant, learned subtraction is evident here where over the six pieces all surfaces are worn down to reveal subtle detail or to erase the detail entirely. Opening track ‘Ballet of the Sutures’ daubs pointillistic synth against grinding metallics. Leering forwards the piece offers no solution just a see-sawing of trapped acid possibilities and oddly emotive ostinato. ‘Rage 1st Movement’ throws argumentative squeals of overdriven sound through the stereo, formants fold against clusters of noise and crushed breathing sounds. Doors bang and close for good, the whole track is trapped in it’s own smothering air. ‘An Upside Down’ ends the A-side with pure, horizonless, “Phaedra” like ambient built around deep, enwombing Jupiter 8 cycles.
‘God the Mind’ follows suit to start the B-side though this time the orbit is lower and the air thicker. Duelling lines of ever tightening oscillation coarse closer and closer in a devastating minimalism recalling Aube’s brain-scanner works. ‘Southern Sun’ is all delicious Jupiter and Juno in full Carpenter mode, majestic chords crashing against purring filters in a total sunrise of sound. The EP closes with ‘Of Moths and Butterflies’ where sequencers pluck melancholic arps and wings fill with blood for the first time. Future-retro perfection.
Serene and sometimes scarring, minimal but eminently tuneful. This is the music of The Subdermic.”
The Scottish techno bruisers are well up for a ruck on their 2nd Opal Tapes issue, bullying the vibes of last year’s Sapporo NYE Crew (1995) into equally mean, fxck-off mastications of techno, ‘ardcore and noooissse.
There’s four of them and they’re all bloody horrible, veering wild eyed and cutthroat from the swarming, obliterated breakbeat dynamics of Petlock to a pit fight of crooked techno and radioactive drones in Madstalker, and the lushly ecstatic rollers’ convulsions of T-Mobile Ekstraklasa.
Opal Tapes on a mad one this week, eh?
Dense, darkly cinematic drone works from Tehran via Newcastle
"I remember being 6 years old, locked in a closet and screaming and beating on the door until I couldn't feel my hands. I think it's because I didn't want to finish my mashed potatoes.
I remember feeling his rough, dry, red hands all over me. Moving down the length of me in the middle of the night. Putting himself inside of me. Telling me the same thing happened to him when he was my age. I knew crying didn't work. It didn't work all of the other times. I stopped after a while.
It was us in that house for years and then I was gone and I didn't see him again until I was a teenager. After that my mom found out what happened and we sealed off that part of our lives.
We got the news that he'd died alone in that house. It was 3 weeks before anyone found him. There's still a part of me in there with him that I'll never get back.
I've explored this on a few other albums but never in this depth. I didn't feel like I was a good enough writer to tackle something like that. I don't know if I am now but every road led me here. With Siavash's haunting music and never-ending friendship I felt like I could make this journey.
- Matt Finney”
Opal Tapes’ Black Opal series juice four cuts of glistening technoid synth music by M. Geddes Gengras in Personable mode, some years since he helped start up the label with Alternate/Other and a split with Dwellings & Druss.
It’s techno-not-techno, effectively, putting an intricately idiosyncratic side-spin on established tropes with whirring hyper-shuffle technique in Gambetti, and a colourful, nervy electro style recalling Gifted & Blessed in Window.
The record’s longest cut, Oyster spreads out farther with exponentially sprawling delays applied to a tangy techno throb, before reining it the groove and expanding the spatial dimensions with an etheric ambient techno oddity, Cormorant.
What would Dariush Dolat-Shahi’s Electronic Music, Tar And Sehtar classic sound like if he had access to a Serge modular and digital applications in 2016? That notion is beautifully answered in Sote’s remarkable Sacred Horror In Design, which was produced in Tehran, Iran as the sonic quota of an A/V collaboration with Tarik Barri, commissioned for a performance at the 2017 edition of Berlin’s CTM festival, and now picked up for this special release by the excellent Opal Tapes label.
To more pertinently expand the question at the top; what if Dolat-Shahi had also come up listening to hardcore, techno and modern electronic music? Across six tracks that idea unfolds in gloriously beguiling fashion, rendering 45 minutes of the classic instruments - ancient forerunners of the ubiquitous guitar - sublimated into flourishing vamps and diaphanous clouds of complex harmonics which reprise the beauty of Dolat-Shahi’s music, but with a more dynamic keen and microtonal glisten that’s no doubt been inspired by the cultural restrictions of his home country, and also resonates with the fraught ambiguity of our times.
It’s the latest and arguably most impressive example of Sote’s creative renaissance, presenting his definitive opus after a winding 15 years of work which has variously turned up on Warp in the early ‘00s, followed by a 7 years hiatus which saw him return with the Xenakis-at-the-rave styles of Architectonic and Arrhythmia for Morphine Records and Record Label Records, and a pair of staggering techno releases for Ge-stell and Opal Tapes in Hardcore Sounds From Tehran .
Opening with the wide-eyed, vaulted dimensions of Flux of Sorrow, incorporating material from NOVA Ensemble’s Seyle Ashk, to vacillate serene pastoral motifs with panicked modular busts in Boghze Esfahan and the demented prangs of Plural, before lashing out with the intense rave brainfloss of Plebians and sweeping us up in the folk music advancement of Segaah, the meter-tearing Serge rushes of Holy Error’ provides a fitting, climactic closure to the album’s mind bending equations.
It’s hard to think of another artist who has so uniquely pursued a synthesis of traditional and modern, sacred and arcane, with such vigour and vision in recent years, and for it all to remain so compellingly coherent is strong testament to Sote’s sorely under-regarded brilliance.
Berlin’s Positive Centre tramples out a sophomore LP definition of dank ambient and depressed, rolling techno on his debut with North East England’s Opal Tapes
Working farther into a style he’s been honing for the past five years or more, ‘The Leaf Switch’ is a filmic record that lends itself well to headphone mooches and home listening, but also includes some super sturdy pieces for DJs on the hunt for that slow techno spice.
Peter Kris’s prolific West Coast troupe German Army deliver another collection of ritualistic industrial dredge for Opal Tapes.
In the space of the past five years, Californian ensemble German Army have smeared their own brand of grubby power electronics across the international tape scene with delirious abandon, racking up a faintly ridiculous score of cross format albums. Included in the storied list of labels to march to German Army’s discordant beat is Opal Tapes, who scored the fine Preserving Senses C40 last year and now return for a second dose.
Coming at the end of a typically prolific year for German Army, Te Ano is the band’s tenth album and delivers an all-too satisfying onslaught of lo-fi industrial brutality that will resonate with fans of Corporate Park, HOGG or fellow Opal Tapes alum Traag. This 12-track set is at its best when German Army counter the endless harsh churn of industrial rhythms with their obvious talent for musical beauty such as Le Cap which sounds like Shoc Corridor recorded at the bottom of a well.
Still their mutant beat freak outs hit home hard too; the fizzing kinetic EBM of Property Rights wouldn’t sound out of place in an Andy Stott live set.
Tremulous, beat-less and decayed studies in ambient sibilance from Hainback, here on his 2nd outing with Opal Tapes
“A six track suite of other worldly beauty from the tabletop electronics of Stefan Paul Goetsch AKA Hainbach. "Songs For Coco" utilises the unique Cocoquantus effects system designed by Ciat Lombarde. The signature lo-fi cascading delays of this instrument become the signature to an utterly haunting and deeply personal album wherein Hainbach doesn't seem to "play" anything, rather the album feels like a microphone recording of some other dimension.
Sepia and rose tinted, perfumed and utterly melancholic, while ambient in many ways the music undulates against a coarse grain of distortion which never allows for somniferous descent but a sharpening and luring to come and listen closer.
"Songs for Coco" follows last years "No Need For Rain" release on Opal Tapes and a string of other beautiful music on Spring Break and Limited Interest labels.”
Blank-eyed, trampling techno abstractions by Russia’s Yancitygurl for Opal Tapes, proceeding his Thou Shalt Not Forget sacrifice found on the U S S R (Ur Social Status Resistance) compilation.
These are brutal, bloody-minded beatings best danced to in original Soviet trackies and fake air max, top off, gurn on, by candlelight.
RIYL Kareem, Huren, Varg, Abdullah Rashim
Persuasion scopes some deep techno swing in the rhythmic engines of Quatermass for Opal Tapes’ Black Opal series.
Following more delicate ambient releases under his birth name Devon Hansen and as Stéfan Jos (on a split with Austin Cesear), Quatermass firms up a proper dancefloor sound between the effortless, sub-fuelled momentum and wooden knocks of In The Atrium - think Mike Dehnert at his most meditative - beside the rolling, subaquatic structural stress test of Damask Silk, the off-centre step of Quatermass, and an hypnotically engaging winner named Xaviera.
L.A.’s Phork comes up on Opal Tapes with a straighter but still subtly warped take on filtered disco and tracky, computerised techno styles
It would appear that the My Love and Love Recirculation, fore and aft of the set, come from the same ‘90s house passions, with the former exerting a mind-bending spin on filtered Chicago house, and the latter working deep into an hypnotic tribal style, kinda like a technoid Soundhack.
No Afterlife is initially bone dry, as in a Dale Cornish experiment, but gets busier via a hardback turn collision into intensifying drones and drum patterns, and Get That One Note Jam jacks and twysts like an Errorsmith groove reduced by Brenden Dougherty.
Heavily textured, trippy techno rollers working shades away from Rrose. New on Opal Tapes
“n_/0 is the title Mexican producer Luis Rivera now takes for his all analogue approach to techno and experimental electronics. Following studies of music and synthesis in the US and UK he has since worked as a soundtrack composer and has previously released on Traum, M_nus and Deep Tech along with collaborating with Pheek, Rene Audiard, Alicia Hush amongst others.
(entitYname0nly) see's Rivera hone down minimal techno and spacious sound design in the manner of Sciahri or Rrose. Utterly hypnotising, rolling pieces which interlock and splice apart with each successive listen. A resolute interest in the operations and aesthetics of old electronic equipment infuses this release with an objective fetishism of the human/machine paradox.
"What if this relation of user and machine swapped sides, what if the human responded to machine orders?, what if the human only placed elements that are native to his world into computer compositions ?.......What distortions of reality would occur ?
These tracks are my response to this questions and try to serve as a soundtrack to this hypothesis."
Opal Tapes return to their roots in rock and metal with reissue of Sloth’s ‘Getting Ready for Christmas (It’s All About Malt Liquor)’
Bish speaks: “A true oddity, Sloth have worked peerlessly since 1994 covering a world of sludge rock, bizarro outsider pop and experimental noise musics.
"Getting Ready for Christmas" is a darkly comic collection of losercore in the vein of some of Twisted Village releases (Luxurious Bags, Major Stars) or maybe Sentridoh but charged with a painful pathos of lonliness and destitution and a dense heaviness. Released approximately in 1996 (Dom can't be sure exactly) these first four "Untitled" tracks are met on the flip with a pure wall, representative of Sloth's current output. A flipped switch and erasing of everything that precedes it.
Opal is very happy to reissue these recordings from an act who, along with their contemporaries and split partners, Floor, Fleshpress and Noothgrush, formed an important part in my early listening and introduction to the odd and extreme ends of music.”
Russia’s Lyubocha kicks out four grainy technohouse grooves on Black Opal after appearing on Opal Tapes’ Contemporary Dance and The Harvest of a Quiet Eye compilations.
We advise heading straight for the slidy rimshots and virulent acid of Noblask and the tricksy kalimba workout Nikogda.
Bish’s crepuscular Black Opal label squares attention on covert Berlin production unit Annanan for this quartet of diverse techno workouts.
Despite early outings on the currently dormant (but soon to be revived) Forbidden Planet and Pat Marsman’s Pinkman, the fiendishly hard to pronounce Annanan have remained low on the radar of wider recognition within contemporary techno. Perhaps this outing on Black Opal will change that? Certainly, the title track possesses the sort of hazy charm we’ve come to expect from one of Terekke’s more focussed excursions. A real smudgers delight of a track, New Wave Of Nature blearily runs simple piano motifs over skittering drums to leave lo-fi techno selectors reaching for a box of tissues.
Bomb comes from a similar place but springs a surprise with its midpoint deviation into dank sub bass science and sonically lives up to its title as a subsequent procession of airborne juggernauts rain down. The digital only Sphere finds Annanan guiding their drum gear through a thick, soupy backdrop of analogue gloom, whilst Gone offers the most explicitly-dramatic opening. Foreboding piano chords signal the onset of a funereal march through heads down techno.
Erstwhile Factory Floor worker Dom Butler (Green Gums, L/F/D/M) keeps the grid loose and slippery af with the deviant techno funk of Artex under his Bronze Teeth alias for Opal Tapes, a perfectly broken home for such stuff.
T-RN-V flashes his copper choppers in a very Powell-esque sort of acid jag, before Legs runs like a wonky EBM treadmill and Jigsaw goes freehand on the machines with wicked, rolling Afrhythmelodic results.
At his very saltiest, Pitfall kicks up a Haswellian fuss of noise calving away into revved-up and psychotomimetic churn again recalling Powell at his most wild-eyed, and Hypno inverts all that madness to a more viscous concentration of roiling acid bass demonstrating his full frequency spectrum hardware dominance.
Vacant-stare scapes and slow, decayed ambient techno from the cold north. Fans of Varg need check...
“As a tribute to Malmö, this paints an odd, shadowed image. Död pair wasted, atonal ambience with low fidelity Roland jams like the most starved of Hieroglyphic Beings work. We see two sides of a city, the drunken fast food binges of 'Indian Express 2' and 'Sin City' and the utterly-subterranean sewerage flow of 'Triangelen Södra Uppgången'. The sparing release schedule of this duo, echoes the exhausting feel of their work. As their name so clearly pronounces…”
Subtly coruscating drone works, new on Opal Tapes...
“Hainbach is the experimental electronic project of the German composer Stefan Paul Goetsch.
Using modular synthesizers, tape loops and his voice Goetsch is able to excise the most haunting tones from his rig. These are laid out or the listener to peer into or to hold the shell to the ear. The sound is organic, microbial almost, rich with micro- details and texture like some sonic mold sporing out. Later some crystals form as recital of new age styles never quite realised, the fata morgana, a desert environment where the smallest gestures are noticeable against such minimalism. A fragile and exquisite listen.”
Twysted post-techno/noise torque from Chafik Chennouf, owner of Amsterdam’s Leyla Records, and Japanese techno explorer Katsunori Sawa
“Rapid conglomerations of noise-techno, death industrial and musique concrete rear their ugly selves over the six tracks of "For The Mimics'.
After a long period of collaboration Chennouf and Sawa-san release a seamless collection spun through their vast knowledge of the previously mentioned genres and their studiously detailed work as individual musicians on Leyla, Weevill Neighbourhood and Voidance.
They are joined by David Foster (HUREN, Teste, Ontario Hospital) on the closing track Inner Scars, barely a touch of ointment following the earlier onslaught.”
Greyscale dub mutations for fans of Akkord, Felix K
“Evitceles is Etien Slavchev (Sofia, Bulgaria). Over the 5 tracks on Imperfect Charm he infuses the "post-club" sound with a bittersweet melancholy of dissected voice and lurching library music. The expansive, cavernous environments created wobble and swell as they're punctured by the earth shaking drums. Artefacts falling away like crumbling earth as the side-chains release like mouths opening.
Opening track "Exhausted Lust" journeys through five tracks in one as UKG-voices slowly quiver over a moraine of vari-speed sampling and mixed bit-rates clashing together. Spaces open and light rushes in but is clasped away again suddenly like a music of suffocation.
Second bit "Eva's Blue Dream" again builds around simple voice cuts left to hang in reverberant holiness while half-stepping cybernetics rattle away beneath like AI piecing dubstep back together. "She Blinks Beside Me" segues us into the b-side with saccharine arps of retuned something stuck in limbo and fluttering delicately.
The dubstep cum dub-tech cum ambient glow of "Ravishing Kitana" is a enveloping sheet of GAS-esque beauty just allowed to become what it is and unfurl and unfurl taking things down and calming before "Echoing Impact" enters...
The bots are back, mechanically devouring the stereo space and the choking side-chains again apply pressure to the head. There's swing and sway and all kinds of kinetic energy popping off as wave after wave keeps on crashing in but Evitceles holds the weight up with an ever more layered and detailed mid-range of percussions and that single pad of near hope which issues in the end.”
AnD shelve the kicks for a minute and prang out under their Shadows alias for Opal Tapes
“Brutish, noise-inflected modular machine music from the Shadows duo of Andrew Bowen & Dimitri Ploumpidis (AnD)
Unlike the big-room sound of their usual hard-techno as AnD, Shadows explores a hinterland of radioactive waste. The six tracks within cover free-form experimentation and more propulsive fare as geiger-rhythms shell outward caked in liquefying synthesis (Pulsar, Waveshaper).
Complete malfunction is achieved on some tracks as fully bugged electronics scream away in derailed union (The Arrival, Galactic Traveller) and near intelligence is found amid the toxicity in the ugly purring of "Cuthands" and closer "Badman" which calculates a primitive digi-dub smeared and smudged.”
Proper head-crushing Concrète tackle from Teeside’s Opal Tapes behemoth, the mighty Bish.
Arriving just ahead of a new Basic House album on Helm’s Alter label, Stephen Bishop’s late 2016 ‘Government’ album for Vanilla makes its way to the digital realm. In stark contrast to the previous Basic House album, 2014’s ‘Visa Prick’ which was described with typical self-effacement as a “bunch of shitty dance tracks,” Bish digs deep on this abstracted six-track collection of sound collage and metallurgist voodoo.
Creeping out with Headstalking, Basic House conjures a swelling mass of metallic textures that evokes imagery of Tomorô Taguchi mid-rage metamorphosis into the Iron Man in Shinya Tsukamoto’s classic Tetsuo franchise. From here, both AAOA and the title track occupy the strata of post-dub techno, delivering a sense of rhythmic negative space that will thrill the more adventurous DJs out there, whilst Encase (Junked Edit) and C-Skin (Rupt Edit) align with the reduced sound design installations from Actress witnessed at Tate Modern. To round things off, Bish indulges his love of pop music with a haunting, dirt-crusted remulcification of Berlin’s Top Gun classic, Take My Breath Away.
Spaced-out, ruddy acid technohouse jackers from Max Ravitz in his Patricia frock
‘Heavy Merge’ kicks off the set with scissoring acid lines and busy 909 programming eased off by slow moving, bleary synth pads. The lathered boxes of ‘Balance Acid’ follows in more romantic mode for loved up end of night moments, and ‘No One Needs Nothing’ finds elegant equilibrium between churning LFO tweaks and wistful pads, leading into the pendulous warehouse electro-acid of ‘Too Many Takes’.
Russian composer/sound designer Gultskra Artikler falls in with Opal Tapes via the abstract, atonal and amorphous electronic/noise notions of Industria.
At its best, these tracks recall the crisp, tensile dimensions of Æ or Sote (who’s due to release on Opal Tapes imminently) or some Hollywood sci-fi sound imagery.
Chafik Chennouf debuts a powerful, deconstructed take on ballroom dynamics for Opal Tapes, backed with faithful remixes fromLucy, Mondkopf and Katsunori Sawa.
If Emptyset piled all their attentions on MAW’s classic Ha! stab, it may well come out sounding like Ferrequinologie, where Chennouf turns that basic unit of modern dance currency into a bewildering recursive maze of pronged rhythmic suggestion against a black hole backdrop. With Hanneton he adds only the slightest hints of percussion in a staggering, grimier, weightless style recalling The Sprawl, and The Observer Effect folds in sparing melodic hooks with a sensitivity to space and inference that reminds us of Phork’s output.
Although we find quite enough to get us dancing in Ferrequinologie, for those who need firmer instructions, check out Lucy’s thrumming techno remix, while Mondkopf retains the piece’s amorphous signposts in a more gristly turn of events.
Pharmaceutically effective folk drone excursions conjured by accordion, cello and voice
“Evolving the long-form, doom laden prophetics of his debut 'Sorrow', David Terry and accordion are joined by Eye Spirit's voice and cello for four, near half hour; expressions of desolate spiritual drone.
The music is caressed by voice and strings, sometimes seemingly plain in approach, just two instruments, two microphones and a room with a 4-track, but beatific and glorious in execution. 'The White Horse Of The Sun' ascends its form into moments of ecstasy struck through a landscape of the bleakly grandiose and opiated.”
Currently racking ‘em up like there’s no 2017, J. Albert kicks out some of his most experimental, insistent jams with Small Room for Opal Tapes’ vinyl-dedicated Black Opal series.
From the title, we take it this is music for red lit basements, attics and other, non-cattle market spaces and the requirements that come with them. They’re all killer dance tracks, but pitted with a nervy, wayward personality that seem to suit intimate crowds rather than megadomes or festival fields full of shuffling narcissists.
Up top he dispenses the frayed loops and salty noise of Bloo N Red with a nimbly unhinged style somewhere between Herva and Anthony Shakir that filters out into the whirring, off centre breakbeat vortices and skeletal dub processing of Ting Waan.
Down below, his Dyslexia spells out a crooked but rolling house syntax for dankest corners of the night, but the big highlight is saved for last with ten minutes of crumbling swagger and stepping dub suspension systems in Earring.
Hard-edged sound designs on the cusp of EBM, ghetto-tech and vodka-flavoured electro. RIYL Gesloten Cirkel
“After an appearance on the U S S R compilation on Opal back in 2016, Monotronique leans out from the shadow again with a ten track tape of brutal, minimal body music, operating both as dance tools and as actual pitch forks.
The paired down palette fuses grimey stabbing synths against stoic, saturated drums. Rave lines pour into reverberated backgrounds of stark colour. The A side of the album is all tight, negi-funk and flex where the following side goes out into faster tempos and more ascetic compositions.
'Heat Absorber' collects only a few tracks of the massive arsenal at Monotroniques hand. Tracks which have laid waste to many dancefloors in his native Ukraine and will continue to render the fat of any floors subject to this glorious battery.”
Basic House faces off with Metrist in a tortuous sequence of noise and techno off-beats for Opal Tapes.
We’re not entirely sure if this is a collaboration proper or a split session, either way it’s dank as f**k. Ursa Major exercises their noise daemons in a hellish echo chamber, and Rachel Lancaster joins in for the atonal blister of AM Grave whereas Cloaking trades in straight forward rolling techno and Piethug’R’Us hacks up hoary anti-funk grooves and Speed V1 dispenses saltiest, blown-out synth psychedelia.
'I'm Not A Heaven Man' is label bossman Stephen Bishop aka Basic House's second album, following the issue of his 'Ambrosias Vol.1' for Norway's boutique Koppklys imprint, and sketches an often bleak soundworld streaked with cryptic chiaroscuro electro-acoustics, ritualist drone, edge-of-the-planet ambience and tape-ground industrial house patterns.
At times it recalls an opiated, sleep-paralysed version of Andy Stott, maybe a darker adjunct to the frayed and abstract environs of Aaron Dilloway, or a more diffuse Thought Broadcast, especially in the deconstructed warehouse interzone of 'Teenage Dog', the sludgy lilt of 'Perishing' or the submerged digital scree of 'Green Dome (Bottomless)'.
But ultimately there's something more elusive, a haptic appreciation of grain and space that we can't place our finger on and should keep us returning to this gem gone 3am when nothing else will fit the atmosphere of glowing computer screen, creaking house timbers and EVP hallucinations.
Hollow Man, John Denizio a.k.a. Pierrot Lunaire layers, smudges and honks disparate source material in the warped vortices of Dog Chakra, his debut for Opal Tapes.
This one represents the label’s most wayward, lo-fi and esoteric tastes with a collection of scrabbled and scrabbling sounds that draw tangled links between Wanda Group, The Caretaker and Aaron Dilloway via free jazz and field recordings.
Retroid analog house trax from a new name to Black Opal’s dancefloor cause.
Possibly referencing Anthony Shakir & Keith Tucker’s classic Puzzlebox Records, L Neils Puzzlebox trades in washed-out, melancholic Detroit and Chicago house and techno derivatives much like Legowelt or many others from that murky quadrant.
Quick, mercurial acid and braindance styles, new on Opal. Tapes
Look out for bittersweet fruit in Ride With Jeff; rolling Drexciyan electro-tech pneumatics on Compact 31; and some nice warbly electro nodding to AFX in Sensitive Acid Boy.
Gloomy, groaning and lurching electro-acoustic systems perfused with a haunting sense of emotional pathos, making up The Same Face; Emra Grid’s debut release for Opal Tapes. RIYL Tim Hecker, Jon Porras, Ricardo Donoso.
Toronto’s E-Saggila plays hard into Opal Tapes’ open-ended, murky techno aesthetic with six tracks of Perfectly crafted, magisterial, jet-black electronics in the swollen, rusted industrial structures and arcing synth contours of Old Orders of Beauty.
Balmy, slow disco pressure from South Africa, 1983, dishing up Kumasi’s charming and only album on its first reissue
Just like Smiling C’s previous treats from Morocco’s Shams Dinn and Czech act Karya, the label peer beyond the usual hotspots to find precious blooms in early ‘80s SA, which, to be totally fair, is hardly under-regarded for its contributions to dance music.
‘I Know You Feel It’ packs that South African zulu je ne sais quoi in each part, from the strolling bassline and natty drum fills of ‘Anomakoliwa’, thru the plush synth-funk chops and harmonised vox of ‘She’s A Queen’ and the soulful dip of ‘What’s On Your Mind’, to the warm embrace of the title cut and the winking, wobbly strut of ‘Picnic (Moger)’ with its pealing sax and saucy bassline.
Collapsing Market poetically chart speculative zones between myth, science and the imagination with the first release on The Benchmark Files, a new series highlighting the work of local french underground artists. From found sounds to ambient zones, junglist edits to distilled vocal narration reminiscent of Anne-James Chaton, the whole thing has a dystopian mixtape vibe that's both evocative and unsettling.
Metta Sound Peace is the sound project helmed by Pierre Edouard Dumora, whose AV work has previously been shown at the Centre Pompidou and Yale Art Gallery. On ‘Zanclean’ he takes inspiration from the eponymous catastrophe event some 6 million years ago, when the Mediterranean basin was refilled by the Atlantic after 600,000 years as a salty stretch that allowed large mammals including primates to cross from North Africa into Europe. Dumora however sets this event in the future (a not so distant one, geologically-speaking), using a mixture of electronics, field recordings and voices - ranging from ASMR-like whispers and mouth sounds to scrambled text-to-speech and synthetic syrens - to limn this uncanny valley on the horizon.
Like a messenger dialled back in time to the age of extinction rebellion with a cryptic tale to tell, ‘Zanclean’ speaks of a world populated with myths and non-human entities, where furtive, hacked-up voices inhabit shadowy ambient space, machine-like voices converse in scrambled code and crystalline arps, and lush jungle fantazias appear like Ballardian mirages, where his careful use of textures and editing conjures the feeling of a world in flux between states from extreme dryess to puckered, bittersweet and salty, and all with a fine grasp of the new, new age consciousness.
Irisidescent greyscale electronics and slouchy grooves from Lukid for Arcola’s 2nd wind
Lukid brings his signature eccentricities to four gauzily anachronistic and whimsical workouts, sashaying from the impish folk-dance of ‘Drip’ to strobing choral voices recalling a detail of larger 0PN piece in ‘Head Shrinker’, while ‘The Clappers’ lathers up grime flutes with saltier astringents to sound like a fuzzier, sozzled Zomby, and ‘Conked Out’ could practically be an Actress cut.
First ever reissue of this Spiritual Jazz holy grail, remastered from the original tapes.
"Although his albums are full of the same qualities as those of many other star saxophonists / flutists playing spiritual jazz, Frenchman Michel Roques is often classed as a "supporting artist" or a "musicians’ musician", forever in the background, and often left out of the reference books. Adding to this lack of recognition is the fact that Michel Roques was seriously under-recorded: five albums as leader in a career of almost twenty years does not amount to much! Thankfully, in 1972, Pierre Barouh, boss of Saravah, records made up for the injustice by offering him the opportunity to record ''Chorus'' in studio, providing a continuity with the equally brilliant ''Safari'' made four years earlier.
An ambitious work, ''Chorus'' owes much to the unusual ‘augmented’ rhythm section, the inner structure of which is none other than that used in the Parisian trio of pianist Mal Waldron at the end of the 1960s: namely Patrice Caratini on bass (completed by the cello of the amazing Jean-Charles Capon) and Franco Manzecchi on drums (seconded by the percussion of Humberto Canto). Another notable singularity is that Michel Roques had the excellent idea of excluding the piano, traditionally employed in this kind of context. This didn’t prevent ''Chorus'' from being played on French TV in 1973 with a piano replacing the cello, and a different voice reciting the beat-style poems of Nicole Roques, that of actor Jacques Degor, occasional collaborator with Jef Gilson but far less convincing than Bachir Touré, wisely chosen for this recording for his style inherited from Afro-American preachers and capable of holding his own with the wild improvisations. In its own way, ''Chorus'' is one of the key albums mixing free jazz and spoken word ‘à la française’. It is also a militant concept album which has lost nothing of its political force."
'High Life' was written and directed by Claire Denis and stars Robert Pattinson and Juliette Binoche in the lead roles. It focuses on a group of criminals who are tricked into believing they will be freed if they participate in a mission to travel on a spaceship towards a black hole to find an alternate energy source while being sexually experimented on by the scientists on board.
"The soundtrack to the film was created by Stuart A. Staples of tindersticks - with Willow’ performed by tindersticks and featuring guest vocals from Robert Pattison was written for the final scene of the film and the accompanying video to the song includes footage from the movie."
Bill Laswell in collaboration with experimental legends Coil and Japanese god of ambient Tetsu Inoue among other talented virtuoso musicians.
"City Of Light was recorded in Banaras, India, and mixedin Greenpoint, NY. It is about Banaras, a city older than history, tradition, and legends. It is Shiva's land, founded at the dawn of creation. It is India's oldest and most fabled city. The Hindus call it Kashi, the luminous... The City of Light. Bill Laswell + Coil, Trilok Gurtu, Tetsu Inoue, and features texts and vocals from Lori Carson and an historical introduction by Hakim Bay.
City of Light is the sixth solo album by American composer Bill Laswell, released on July 29, 1997. While it may appear an anachronism in his catalog, fans of Bill Laswell will find City of Light an extension of ideas he has explored throughout his career. His strong interest in Eastern music and religion resulted in this 1997 collaboration with Janet Rienstra. Part sacred, spoken word, part meditative soundscape, City of Light takes as its inspiration the holy region of Banaras, India. Said to belong to Shiva, Banaras also contains the Ganges river: a place sought by Hindus for their cremation. Surrounding the texts is some of the most compelling music this genre has produced featuring Trilok Gurtu on tablas, Coil (Peter Christopherson + John Balance) on electronic, Tetsu Inoue at sound collages and Lori Carson at vocals."
E B U joins imaginary dots between Delia Derbyshire, Black Zone Myth Chant and Tapes on a charmingly smudged debut for Ossia and co’s No Corner
In her own language of bittersweet, downbeat psychedelia, Bristol’s E B U speaks gently but directly to altered states of consciousness in a style she terms “swamp pop”. It’s not weird for the sake of it, but rather in a drowsy, hypnagogic way that feels effortlessly natural. All her melodies and harmonies shimmer with a lysergic, iridescent timbral thizz, radiating in rainbows and pink/blue hues on the back of your eyelids (because we almost guarantee you will be lulled to eyes shut, half-mast or rollin in backa skull by the end of 2nd song).
Most crucially, though, for all the ‘60s connotations with LSD and The Radiophonic Workshop references, plus the label’s own nods to Alejandro Jodorowsky and Laurie Anderson, the music feels fresh, operating in its own liminal temporality, rather than being cloyed by cliché. That’s always high praise, and we’re sure many others will feel this, too.
Properly hallucinatory bizz - bravo.
Exceptional industrial Techno movements from the overse'er of Berlin's legendary Zhark Recordings.
On his first excursion since the bleak, beatless expanse of 'Porto Ronco' for The Death Of Rave, Kareem crosses boundaries between Gothic Industrial and the kind of Wild Pitch-styled house grooves which infected his formative club experience in the early-mid '90s.
Working circa 120bpm or slower, four tracks explore dank, sleazy strains of industrialised house swing rolling between T++ style aqua-tech on 'The Sky Is Gone But You Are Still Here', to the oxidised iron clangour of 'Wildpitch, I Think I Loved You'. B-side cuts deeper with the throbbing bassdrum massage and opiated atmospheres of 'Divine Hunger', and 'La Iguana' checks out on sub-bass-driven reduction of drily funked up breakbeat techno. A massive recommendation to fans of T++/Dynamo, Silent Servant, CUB, Shifted.
First ever anthology of Les Primitifs du Futur with new exclusive cover artwork by legendary comic book author Robert Crumb.
"Nicknamed the Primdufs, they are neither Smurfs nor cave dwellers, just a happy collective of musicians who always have their instruments at the ready. They all have an inexplicable passion for a musical genre that some could consider obsolete, outdated and antique: the French ‘valse musette’ (a kind of popular swing waltz music, ndlt). But let’s be clear, this has nothing in common with the smutty chords of popular balls and singalongs in little town halls, nor with the trills of another generation linked to names like Horner or Verchuren in afternoon tea dances.
No, this is ‘bal musette’ with balls, genuine, virile, authentic, and athletic, which used to get the blokes and the birds jivingin the no-man’s land of demolished forts around what the Parisians call Paname. Seen like that it is easy to imagine that the Primitifs du Futur, for that is their name, enjoy carefully recreating in minute detail museum pieces from the pungent remains of past festivals. It is more than that. Because though these noble savages like rummaging around in 1920s Paris, they don’t shy away from including rhythms from all over the planet, rhumba from Zaireto, gypsy jazz, Hindu waltzes or Argentine tango, blues, ‘paso doble’ or ‘chanson réaliste’.
It all began in 1986, when Dominique Cravic, ‘’ukukeke’’ champion and a renowned guitarist who learned from jazzmen like Lee Konitz or Larry Coryell and also played with Georges Moustaki and Henri Salvador, met a certain Robert Crumb. Yes, the legendary comic book author from the great days of the US psychedelic underground in the 70s, the creator of Fritz the Cat and Mr Natural in person, the same man who also created the cover for ‘’Cheap Thrills’’ by Janis Joplin. Crumb plays banjo and mandolin, collects 78 sof blues, jazz and… musette. The two cronies then composed their own made-to-measure orchestra, alongside many famous names including accordionist Daniel Colin, clarinettist Bertrand Auger, saxophonist Daniel Huck, bassist Jean-Philippe Viret or singer Claire Elzière (sorry, it’s impossible to name them all). This great group has recorded four albums since 1986 (all with sleeves drawn by Crumb), some including guest stars such as Pierre Barouh, Jean-Jacques Milteau, AllainLeprest, Sanseverino or Olivia Ruiz.
For thirty years, the Primitifs du Futur have carried the torch of musette to the four corners of the earth, from fiestas to festivals, and today release a double vinyl, entitled ‘Résumé des épisodes précédents’ which brings together the best of their adventures. It is a refreshing and heartening cocktail of ‘’world tribal musette’’, as they call it, which, in these electro digital times, has a rejuvenating effect, amagic swing potion. Les Primitifs du Futur take us back to the future.
‘’THE PRIMITIFS DU FUTUR travel on sound waves back in time to the early twentieth century and make the world seem like a far better place than it ever actually was. I cant get the band's music off my turntable or out of my head. Accordion, mandolin, harmonica, saxophone, musical saw, and beautiful haunting melodies—what’s not to love? Even their sad songs make me happy.’’
Yves De Mey untangles presets with remarkable harmonic variation via the Modor NF-1, a new polyphonic digital DSP synth developed in Antwerp by Marcel Belmans. If you’re into Autechre - this is a must.
An experimental study in getting the most from a single instrument, ‘Exit Strategies Part 1’ finds De Mey wrestling with the machine in eight parts. Using only a single preset in each cut, he pushes their forms to reveal slight harmonic mutations and in the process focus on the tangible quality of the resulting sound.
From the slippery rhythms and harpsichord like twang of ‘Track 01’ to the boiling noise of ‘Track 02’, thru to proper, curdled Ae dimensions in ‘Track 03’ and ‘Track 04’, the variation is remarkable and just keeps on evolving with the empty-belly beastly growl of ‘Track 05’ and ‘Track 06’, before opening out into calligraphic murmurations on ‘Track 07’, and needling hi-register tones in ‘Track 08’.
The results also somehow recall Theo Burt’s ‘Gloss’, itself an experiment on a single synth which yielded captivating results, and proved in the process - in key with Mark Fell’s mantra - that you really don’t need a studio stacked with vintage analog gear to make unique sounds. If you like the idea of an artist wriggling themselves out of self-imposed straitjackets, this album will almost certainly push your buttons.