Anthoney J. Hart (East Man, Imaginary Forces) pushes the prism of UK garage, grime and jungle further in his own image with the first Basic Rhythm album, ‘On The Threshold’ for Planet Mu. Sounds a lot like Werk Discs’ Grim Dubs series c. 2005.
"Recorded primarily with the DJ in mind, these tracks are colourful, brutalist and adventurous. Contemporary hybrids constructed from blocks of sound, their angular rhythms draw on Britain's dance music past, but with an eye firmly on the present.
The album starts with 'St. Fabian Tower', named after the now demolished tower block in Chingford where Anthoney used to DJ for Rude FM. The track's lush detuned synths and syncopated drums are girded by stern low end frequencies. Drum and bass, jungle and hardcore are the touchstones here, but the forms he creates make no attempt to imitate the music of those eras. Take the rolling, bubbling, almost jazz-drummer patterns of 'Yeah, I Like It' and 'I Want You' where strange pops and bubbles seem to be forced through the grid almost like they're an effect of pressure. It's an odd juxtaposition next to the soulful vocals but an effective one. 'Edge Of Darkness' meanwhile, is an intense, rough ride of sliding rhythms and elephantine bass. Elsewhere, like on 'A New Consciousness', things are tempered into a more streamlined techno-like hybrid. He lets loose in the claps and kicks banger of 'Fi Di Gyal', but even here there are neat sonic tricks that sound like nods to minimalist composition.
On The Threshold is a balance of smart and energetic, non linear thoughtfulness and makeshift experimentalism that does away with boundaries, but is very much its own self contained world."
Cologne-based pop group Von Spar rope in guest vocals by Eiko Ishibashi, R. Stevie Moore, Laetitia Sadier for their 5th LP of sugary songcraft
““Under Pressure” is Von Spar's fifth album, not counting their homage to Can (recorded live with Stephen Malkmus). 15 years have passed since their debut “Die uneingeschränkte Freiheit der privaten Initiative”, five since the “Streetlife” album. On closer examination, there is a somewhat chameleonesque quality to Von Spar’s discography. Their records are the result of continuous metamorphosis, opening wormholes to post punk, krautrock and 80s art pop. The constants: rhythmic refinement and harmonic quantum leaps, swirling synthesizer arpeggios, backwards guitars with no hint of retrogradation.
The eight songs on “Under Pressure” were recorded in Von Spar’s Dumbo Studio in Cologne, with guests from Toronto, Tokyo, New York, London and Nashville adding noteworthy contributions. As on “Streetlife”, the formative voice belongs to Chris A. Cummings alias Marker Starling. His distinctive falsetto graces over half of the songs, asking: “Is there a cure for this / Unhappiness, happiness?”
On the opening track, Cummings is joined by Eiko Ishibashi (Kafka's Ibiki, Jim O'Rourke, Merzbow) in a Japanese dream sequence exploring where they might get to if the shackles of the flesh are cast off. Punk and reggae professor Vivien Goldman (The Flying Lizards) picks up the thread and liberates herself from the ghosts of the past on “Boyfriends (Dead Or Alive)”. Lætitia Sadier (Stereolab) sings on the album’s kraut-pop hit “Extend The Song” which could run and run for ever, powered by motoric energy: “If someone would ask me / Could I go on?””
A’dam’s Tom Rejig aka Tracey opens Dial’s 2019 account with an inquisitive debut album of sweetly decayed, off-kilter electronica and low key, supple, grooving hustle that falls neatly in line with the label’s charming style
“In the tradition of established Dial artists such as Lawrence, Roman Flugel and Efdemin, Tracey’s immediately apparent strength is an almost supernatural ability to conjure affecting and memorable melodies with minimalist intent, often just utilising the raw textures of his machines.
From album-opener ‘THRRVL’, Tracey tracks the initially gentle undulations of his studio seemingly waking to life, plotting a neat melodic shuffle on ‘TRR’ and then, by, ‘CCLRT’, something dense, trippy and yearning. From hereon in, ‘Biostar’ plots an intriguing course through hypnotic, clockwork crunch (‘THWRD’), to Drexciyan submersion (‘HDRCSTCS’) and rhythmic experimentation on ‘PHTCPHRK’.
Some of the more affecting moments on ‘Biostar’ emerge from it’s more obtuse sections; ‘DTFNK’ deciphers a surprisingly catchy melody among waves of scrambled signals, while the initially skittish ‘DRMRBT’ blossoms into an electro lullaby at 126bpm. By the arrival of wistful closing track ‘CLSTLBNG’, listeners are likely to emerge content from the deepest exploration yet of Tracey’s unique analogue ecosystem.”
Alva Noto’s 2000 debut album ‘Prototypes’ is finally, officially available to download for the first time, with a bonus track to boot.
Upon its release, ‘Prototypes’ marked a new high water mark of precision tooled electronic minimalism. Recorded 1999-2000 in Berlin, it morphed inspiration from sculptural work by Austrian artist Walter Pichler, known for his radical architectural work, into a series of ultra sparse, spacious arrangements of icy rhythmic pointillism, dense subbass, and barely there tonal presences for the Mille Plateaux label.
19 years (jeeeeez it’s never that long?!) later the album still sounds exceptional. It’s patently a product of the glitch era, yet future-proofed by its meticulously minimalist, near-elemental approach to the fundamentals of sound and music. Carsten Nicolai aka Alva Noto’s solo music has remained mostly minimalist ever since, but has taken on some more fleshly body over the years, leaving ‘Prototype’ as a skeletal Ur-text reminder of where he and electronic music have been and gone over the past 2 decades.
Like a rare comet, Suicide and Talking Heads producer Craig Leon returns nearly 40 years after his ‘Nommos’ and ‘Visiting’ LPs with their widescreen conceptual follow-up; ‘Anthology of Interplanetary Folk Music Vol.2: The Canon’. Apparently John Malkovich makes an appearance too...
Comprising all new material recorded over the past 2 years, and made using similar technology and tekkers as his ‘80s classics, Leon’s sequel finds him riff deeper on the cosmic lore of Mali’s Dogon tribe of Mali, whose exhibition of art at the Brooklyn Museum in 1973 first inspired him to make ‘Nommos’; a visionary piece of NYC’s new wave/downtown puzzle released by John Fahey’s Takoma, which has re-emerged among the most crucial, revelatory reissues of this decade via everywhere from Volcanic Tongue to Superior Viaduct, and RVNG Intl’s deluxe ‘Anthology of Interplanetary Folk Music Vol.2’.
The ‘Nommos’ Leon refers to are part of the Dogon tribe’s creation myth revolving visitations by an amphibious alien race from the white dwarf Sirius B who came to impart their wisdom on humankind. Resonating with then prevailing new age thought and conceptually pre-echoing Rashad Becker’s ‘Traditional Music For Notional Species’, the project sincerely speaks to electronic music’s ideals of transcendence, both (meta)physical and spiritual, beautifully employing the use of synthesis as a means of divination and hyperstition,
‘The Canon’ leads directly on from ‘Nommos’ and ‘Visitation’, tracing the alien knowledge/arithmetic/energy’s journey from Mali to Egypt and Greece in a narrative arc that unfolds like a map for inner exploration, coursing from the ceremonial chorale of ‘The Earliest Trace’ thru glyphic drum communications in ‘The Respondent in Dispute’, and the panoramic beauty of ‘Four Floods of the Point’, before opening the tantalising wormhole of ‘The Gates Made Plain’, and atomically diffusing into ether with ‘Departure’.
Including contributions from folk sorceress Cassell Webb and apparently even John Malkovich in there, somewhere, the results are worth the wait for any believers who look for signs in the skies.
Including two pieces premiered for first time, ’Chamber Music: Alvin Lucier & Morton Feldman’ highlights contrasts and mutualities in the pioneering music of 20th century avant-garde titans Alvin Lucier & Morton Feldman through a compilation curated by Anthony Burr and Charles Curtis, who have previously worked on production for both artists. Lovers of quiet minimalism will be in their element with this suite, spanning nearly 50 years of recordings by two artist musicians whose influence has shaped generations after them, and continues to resonate throughout many forms of minimalist modern classical and the avant-garde.
““For Feldman, dynamics serve an acoustical function. When he mitigates a piano attack he reduces that spike of noise that’s at the onset of every piano sound leaving only the sinusoidal pure after-sound. It’s as if he invented electronic music with the piano.” Alvin Lucier from liner notes.
“Lucier manages to hear a layer of acoustical physics in Feldman’s music that perhaps no one else would hear. He’s hearing something in Feldman that is actually coming from his own musical world; in a way, hearing his own music in Feldman’s, and drawing inspiration from that.”
More of the drum, the whole drum, and nowt but the drum from Andrew Field-Pickering’s Dolo Percussion - packing four new hotshots alongside all cuts from his preceding trio of 12”s
Holding 16 shots of rhythmic heat in total, ‘Dolo 4’ is the project’s definitive release following from a highly sought-after L.I.E.S. debut and further volumes divvied between his Future Times and The Trilogy Tapes, which are all coveted by righteous DJs and dancers.
If we could show ya, we’d do an interpretative dance to try and describe each groove, but we’d all look like tits so suffice it to say there’s some proper wrigglers, sidewinders, brukkers and freakers on board, each making scintillating use of the drums’ cadence as instructional rhythmelody for interpretation by limbs and torsos.
Across the set traces of house in its myriad forms - from Jersey to Chicago - tesselate with tropes from Afro-Cuban, jungle, Washington Go-Go and old skool hip hop styles in stripped down, skeletal styles just gagging to drive a club wild. In the set’s final four previously unreleased bits however he allows a more judicious use of FX, resulting some squirmy acidic bass in the slinky carillon shimmy of ’Dolo 13’, the spidery trails of ‘Dolo 14’, and in the decaying contrails of ‘Dolo 15’, and quite noticeably on the rude aerial architecture of ‘’Dolo 16’.
KLO chases up her acclaimed, eponymous debut LP with two gently insistent dancefloor workouts
Emphasising the groove over songs this time, the London-based singer/songwriter/producer uses her vocals to classically instructive and textured effect in ‘Let It Go’, accentuating the rub and tug of her house groove with whispered insistence and heady reverbs, whereas she steps back form he mic to go more introspective with the writhing, dubbed-out electro-house hustle of ‘Omen’.
Debut album from Scottish quartet Rev Magnetic, who meld elements of R&B, shoegaze and post rock into their singular, blissfully spacial dream pop.
"The album reflects a cosmos of transformative sound references ranging from My Bloody Valentine to Teebs, Lemmy-era Hawkwind to ABBA and Vaughan Williams to Stravinsky into its 11 otherworldly tracks. While touring the world as guest multiinstrumentalist with Mogwai, Luke Sutherland (Long Fin Killie, Bows, Music A.M. Jomi Massage) used the downtime to sketch a bunch of songs. Once home, he recorded them with the help of Audrey Bizouerne (Gift Horse) bass, Sam Leighton (drums) and Gregor Emond (guitar), who played with Luke in Hynd."
Promising first sign of a compilation of collabs inspired by the life and work of Jean-Michel Basquiat
‘No Gangster’ hops fences between jazz and Afrobeats with Shabaka Hutchings supplying sax to a crimped groove, vocalled by Afrocentric, London-based rapper, Kojey Radical.
The Baron departs with a sodden swan song for Mordant Music’s ‘Travelogues’ series
“...Chalking up its 22nd beano & buffers bookend the series finale cuts loose ohm the Hastings baize & within Melinki’s miasma…we’ve been far & wide, I’ve soMetiMes lied…the unicycle is complete…all that’s left are the pipe & shiMMers…salut IBM”
A proper rootsy charm from Reginald Omas Mamode IV, channelling rich vibes from his family’s Mauritian heritage along with very strong nods to J Dilla and Madlib, and a ear attuned to sounds from Caribbean, South London, and the US
"Where We Going?" was partly recorded on a journey to the Mascarene Islands in search of family roots. 'he album is reflective of the search for this lineage, which branches from ancient Mauritian Maroons - whose rich heritage, music and culture includes an unrecognised, undocumented resistance to colonialism - though Swahili and Malagasy to sugarcane plantation Creole slave descendants.
Influenced by golden era hip-hop, jazz, soul, Afro, funk, Sega and Maloya, and music from Africa, the Caribbean, South London and US; it is in part an attempt to evoke feelings of universal love and compassion. Mamode recorded the album using various drums and drum machines, percussion instruments, Fender Rhodes, and Roland and Korg synthesizers.”
Paleman properly puts his back into a pair of warehouse pounders for Nonplus Records
Rolling on from his self-released white label ace in 2018, the ‘Sweltering Rain’ EP is galvanised with a steelier technoid impulse than his previous outings, especially in the prime big room buck of the title track with its bolshy kicks and nagging vocaloid, whilst ‘Cells’ rolls off the bone with offset bass and crackbug percussive textures in killer style, and ‘Titan Vulture’ takes the vibe dank and dungeon style for the last ravers standing.
Mercury-nominated composer/producer Maps returns with his fourth album ‘Colours. Reflect. Time. Loss'.
“I wanted to push everything to the limit with this record, and explore new territory for Maps. The orchestral instrumentation and addition of other musicians and singers played a huge part in finding the purer and more human emotion I was searching for. I learnt the violin as I was growing up, so I’m glad it finally came in useful!” (Maps)