Doris Norton was Apple's first music "endorsement" and Roland affiliate, and is one of the most important female pioneers in the use of synths and in the early electro / computer music field. ‘Personal Computer’ showcases some computer game-style workouts along with some really canny cuts in the tricksy metrics of ‘Caution Radiation Norton and the psychedelic wig-out ‘A.D.A. Converter’...
“In 1980, Norton began her solo career by recording at Fontana Studio 7, the Milan studio of the composer and musician Tito Fontana, resulting in the electronic opera "Under Ground". Norton became more prolific, continuing her adventures in experimental electronics and computer music with Parapsycho (1981), Raptus (1981), Nortoncomputerforpeace (1983), PC (1984) – whose album cover prominently features Apple’s colored logo – and Artificial Intelligence (1985).
While the beat-oriented style of Norton’s music aligns her with such global fellow-travelers as Yellow Magic Orchestra and Kraftwerk, her championing of the personal computer as a tool for self-sufficient musical creativity also connects her to more artsy musicians such as Pietro Grossi, Laurie Spiegel, and the League of Automatic Music Composers. Norton’s predilection for the bright, glossy timbres of early digital instruments also recalls Hubert Bognermayr and Harald Zuschrader’s bizarre 1982 one-off Erdenklang.
Later, her talent and expertise attracted the attention of IBM, who in 1986 named her as an official consultant. Already the reigning queen of the Italian electronic scene, she recorded two CDs for IBM: Automatic Feeling and The Double Side Of The Science. Influenced by her son, the musician and producer Rexanthony, Norton brought her fascination with the early days of techno into the 1990s, when she released three volumes of Techno Shock on Italian trance/hardcore label Sound Of The Bomb.
While her music remains largely out of print and inaccessible, Norton’s early records have recently begun to receive the inevitable rediscovery treatment.
"In the late sixties I had already conceived computers as “personal.” I have always trusted in the benefits of solitude; [being] alone means freedom… What’s better than a “personal” computer for materializing ideas, by oneself" (Doris Norton)”
At bleedin’ last, Cosey Fanni Tutti’s legendary solo album, Time To Tell  sees a proper, if edited, official vinyl reissue - MAGAZINE INCLUDED! - on her and Chris Carter’s Conspiracy International label. In fact, with Cosey’s utterly mind-blowing autobiography, Art Sex Music now in circulation, putting history to rights and stoking febrile interest around her inspirational, nonpareil oeuvre, the timing could hardly be any better to reissue her most sought-after and inarguably definitive solo release.
First issued on tape in 1983, some years after the initial demise of Throbbing Gristle and the start of of Chris & Cosey, and just prior to the emergence of their multimedia CTI alias, Time To Tell documents Hull’s greatest daughter, Christine Carol Newby aka Cosey Fanni Tutti, ‘fessing all about her long-running art praxis involving a deep penetration of the British sex industry - from nude modelling to striptease and transgressive performance art - all set to her signature, exploratory electronic sculptures and drily angelic delivery.
For this hugely important reissue of Cosey’s only solo record (yep, only!), she worked with husband and creative partner Chris Carter to edit the original two track release, trimming down some of the longer parts to optimise audio fidelity, and also incorporating The Secret Touch which was included on the Time To Tell (Special Edition) CD release in 1993/2000.
Thus the release spies three distinct strands or aspects of Cosey’s sound. The first, longest and most comprehensive is the LP’s title track, which, as far as we can tell, appears in a slightly abridged version, but still ties up all her key sonic themes, from pulsing, sensuous synths, sky-licking guitars and brittle drum machines to her achingly seductive Yorkshire accent, drily recounting her experiences and inside/out perspective in the sex industry. Tell us this isn’t one of the most alluring 20 minutes of the ‘80s ever recorded, and we’ll tell you to do one.
Ritual Awakening comes on the B-side. Here the drum machine drops away and Cosey’s hushed vocals take a new, diaphanous form, refracted in a diamond-cut prism of electronics with near-cinematic strings, feeling out unreachable edges of the lushest void. Then we’re stranded in The Secret Touch, where her sallow synth strokes hint at an aquarian sort of new age, melding with reverberating, Denny-esque guitar against an unfathomable backdrop of possible field recordings and almost raga-like drones on her signature Cornet.
We could hammer on about this one all day, but suffice it to say: this is a totally essential purchase!
Bossman Aphex Twin coughs up a full gob of brainsmarts after teasing with some ace promo over the past few weeks
Fronted by the preceding ’T69 collapse’ sidewinder, the rest of the EP is actually stronger than that cut hinted at. ‘1st 44’ is the kind of darkside, slow/fast electro-dub workout we’ve craved to hear him make for time, while ‘MT1 t29r2’ also explores a sort of mutant electro-dub momentum, but spliced with a breakbeat hardcore fluidity riddled with proper gremlin synth voices.
Like we said, it only gets better, though, especially in the way he juggles complexity with a sort of rarified dance-pop elegance in the frenetic poise of ‘abundance10edit[2 R8’s, FZ20m & a 909]’, and the fine tuned tangggggggg and mouth-watering pads of his jelly-limbed drill ’n bass exercise, ‘pthex’.
BVDUB does Vladimir Ivkovic-style slow trance in four epic cuts for Apollo...
“Apollo welcomes ambient legend bvdub AKA San Franciscan Brock Van Wey for a new album 'Drowning in Daylight'.
Van Wey debuts on Apollo with his stunning new album‘ Drowning in Daylight , exploring cavernous soundscapes on a grand canvas that throb with a delicate intimacy. A stalwart DJ and promoter of the halcyon 90s San Francisco rave scene, Van Wey fled to China in the early 2000s to escape the curdling of his musical dreams as the scene became more commercial.
Since his return he’s been incredibly prolific in his creation, etching out peerless ambient works that have captivated listeners with their delicate melody and fascinating textures through releases for the likes of Echospace, Kompakt and Styrax - 2018's A Different Definition of Love marks his 30th bvdub album to date.
Classically trained in piano and violin as a child, Van Wey’s symphonic approach to ambience is truly remarkable,
Epic in its scale with each of it’s 4 tracks clocking in around the 20 minute mark, Drowning In Daylight envelops the listener in swathes of nostalgic pads and nested layers of distortion, strings and haunted voices.
‘Drowning In Daylight’ could well be Van Wey’s crowning achievement to date and a testament to the power of instrumental abstract music to emotionally engulf the listener.”
KIller shots of spiky rock with Algerian style, Arabic vocals and tight traces of reggae, dug out from France ’77 and delivered in 2018 by Geneva’s Bongo Joe
“The 45s series goes on and presents for the first time music from the past. This fifth single focus on legendary algerian kabyle rock band Abranis founded in 1967. The band pioneered the fusion of chaabi (traditional) music with 60s-70s western rock, proudly singing in their own berber kabyle language while wearing hippy rockers outfits. Their shows - in deeply influenced by Pan-Arabism conservative Algeria - where often cancelled by governors and the band once was arrested by the police, generating riots. The band kept on playing and recording until mid 90s. This 45t presents two majors tracks from the band:
A Side: Chenar Le Blues released in 1977 have been a big hit on algerian national radio. The band response to The Doors.
B Side: Avehri released in 1983 shows the band’s obsession to merge different music styles with the North African traditional airs. This one goes strangely reggae.”
The stunning and ground-breaking album from the composer and saxophonist Chris Bowden, first released on Soul Jazz Records in 1992 to widespread critical acclaim.
"Now 20 years on a new wave of current jazz artists led by the likes of Kamasi Washington in the USA and a host of British artists - Shabaka Hutchings / Sons of Kemet, The Ezra Collective, Moses Boyd, Nubya Garcia, Fourtet, Yussef Kamaal, Tenderlonious, Binker & Moses - have brought this original ground-breaking album into the limelight once more as a pivotal starting point, sharing many of the aesthetics of these current artists at work today.
Musically all are inspired by the spiritual jazz of John Coltrane, Alice Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders, Archie Shepp, Don Cherry et al paired with a modern electronic music sensibility. Chris Bowden’s ‘Time Capsule’ has stood the test of time like few other albums (as the title of the album suggested), and remains a pivotal, wholly-successful and original experimental musical collage, a radical inspiration and forbearer to many of the best progressive jazz and electronic artists working today."
CPU introduce rising Japanese techno talent Yuri Urano with a skizzy mix of stark bangers and peaktime thizz
More technoid than CPU’s usual electro remit, the EP coolly gets into gear with the smoothly numbed tones and nagging vocal refrain of ‘Autline’, followed by a full strength, escalating jacker in ‘Pec’.
On the B-side Yuri warps the lines off centre in the pendulous, minimalist rolige of Knock’, and rounds up with a barely-hinged, raving killer titled ‘Massio’.
Who better to inter Fabric’s long-running series than the demon DJ Kode 9 and his accomplice, Burial? Yeh, nobody’s shouting Craig Richards, so this will have to do.
So it’s basically NOT a new Burial album, or even a Kode 9 & Burial album, but it is one of the strongest mixes in Fabric’s near 20 year history, cataloguing and webbing 37 tracks from the ‘ardcore ‘nuum, following its breakbeat and techno roots thru to its branches into US footwork, the distant echoes of South African Gqom, the avant R&B of Klein and Dean Blunt, and latinate and sino futurisms, with precisely no dubstep in-between.
The result is a mix as fragmented yet fluid as the London roadmap or those aerial shots used on the ‘Burial’ album cover, forming a mosaic of interrelated ‘ardcore styles grouted with the trademark fuzz and patter of drizzle heard on Kode 9 & Burial’s two preceding mixes for Mary-Anne Hobbs. In the first third, they probe a line from Klein and Cooly G thru outright Gqom killers by Julz Da Deejay, Roman Rodney and TLC Fam, and introduce Hyperdub newcomer Nazar along the way.
In the 2nd third, the breakbeat hardcore badness of Jungle Buddha’s ‘Drug Me’  and Intense’s classic ‘The Quickening’ bookend a rush of raving footwork aces such as DJ Spinn’s ‘Make Me Hot’ and DJ Tre’s lethal ‘House Hybrid’, before the final third slips from trancing ‘90s techno and acid thru to freakier footwork, an overlooked Sino-Detroit breakbeat ace by Claude Young, and the breeziness chops of Proc Fiskal.
Ultimately it’s a lesson in keeping your ears wide open to all styles in the present, while also keeping an eye in back of your head for vintage freshness, and pulling up records from well trodden areas - keeping the polystylistic and hyperstylized spirit of hardcore burning into 2018.
In the dreamlike trip of ‘El Ferrocarril Desvaneciente’, or ‘The Vanishing Railway’, Rafael Anton Irisarri regales the story of an overnight train journey across Spain he took many years ago.
Marking Rafael’s 3rd release with Mexico City’s Umor Rex in just over a year, this one finds him in a beautifully heavy-lidded state of reverie, using distant pulses and finely tempered rhythmic noise to connote a sense of intimate movement through vast space, while his gauzy harmonics and half-heard melodies limn the fondly remembered journey with an intimate, nostalgic poignancy. Ideal walkman fuel for your next long journey, and fans of Tim Hecker, The Caretaker, Lawrence English, William Basinski.
Upon examining the eventful life of Can bassist Holger Czukay, one might conclude that this intrepid musician was a loner. His turbulent career exuded an enduring eccentricity governed by a boundless free spirit.
Holger Czukay’s debut solo LP ‘Movies’  is, quite frankly as mad as a bag of squirrels, but super playful and cool as fuck with it. It’s his first record after striking out from Can, and he clearly had a lot of ideas brewing and ready to get out
From the Afro-inflected lilt of the guitars on his sardonic disco workout ‘Cool in the Pool’, thru the expansive future jazz and krautrock hybrid ‘Oh Lord Give Us More Money’, to the curiously fragrant balm of ‘Persian Love’, and the lysergic, grooving WTF?ness of ‘Hollywood Symphony’, this one is bona fide seminal, unique and utterly worth your time.
Tracks from Parquet Courts’ latest album Wide Awake! get the dancefloor treatment in a collection of remixes available on 12”
"The A-side features a re-work of the danceable title track by legendary first wave NYC disco pioneer Danny Krivit, who hasdelivered classic vinyl re-edits of tunes from Visage, James Brown, Giorgio Moroder, Kraftwerk, and many more. The B-side features remixes of two tracks by prolific Australian producer and engineer Mikey Young, known for his work in Total Control and Eddie Current Suppression Ring.
"Mikey has always impressed me as a musician and person," says Parquet Courts’ A. Savage, "but he’s developed a remarkable talent for producing electronic music, as evidenced by projects like Lace Curtain and Total Control. He has a skill of impressing his genius and personality into a track and elevating it to something more.”
Prison Religion’s screamo rap remixed by a top team including Swan Meat, Lee Gamble, Geng, Bonaventure, and Rabit for the latter’s Halcyon Veil label.
Swan Meat dons metal gauntlets for a severe mauling of ‘Messenger’ battered with wrecking ball drums. Lee Gamble takes a rare step to the darkside with ‘Alicia Keys’, swerving thru fractured, spasmodic and thistly chicanery to a proper hardcore climax.
You can trust Rabit to provide the set’s most feral and futuristic remix with a riotously delirious flip of ‘Ansss1’, while Geng tosses off into the void with ‘Yabbadabbadont’, and Bonaventure balances the rabid vocals of ‘Alicia Keys’ with effortlessly rolling techno bass.
Maintaining the diverse pressure of his 12” for Livity Sound and Hidden Hawaii, Forest Drive West focuses on deep, minimal and powerful strains of dub techno for London’s Neighbourhood label
We direct you straight to the floating hydrolicks of ‘Reshape’ for the EP’s standout, then to a fine stripe of Mike Vainio/Ø or Sleeparchive-esque bleep minimalism in ‘Functional’, while the the A-side’s ‘Un’ and ‘Wait’ recall a vintage, boomy dub techno style prevalent at Berghain ten years ago.
Crushing Metal alchemy from Jack Adams (Mumdance) and James Kelly (Altar Of Plagues, Wife), committing a ravishing assault on the senses in their debut album as Bliss Signal
Originally conceived as a live project for Unsound Krakow 2017, Bliss Signal bloomed into a full studio project with recent release of their ‘Drift EP’, and this towering debut album now cements the duo’s efforts in bridging the ostensibly, mutually exclusive fields of Black Metal and electronic rave music. And we say ostensibly because, in 2018, this kind of hybridisation shouldn’t be seen as novel or even unlikely, but rather as a necessary experiment in diversifying bonds, building bridges and finding commonality between fringe or extreme styles and communities.
On the one hand, James Kelly brings a wealth of experience to the project, from playing in lauded BM group Altar Of Plagues, to his forays into emosh electronica as Wife, while adept collaborator Jack Adams logically leads on from his work with Logos and Shapednoise in The Sprawl (also an Unsound commissioned project) to bring powerful sound designer skills and a rave-hungry temperament to the table.
The result of their endeavours is a blistering bind of styles, matching the bloodied and bludgeoning repetition of BM proper with the body-focussed momentum of hard dance music. But the results exceed the sum of its parts thanks to the artist’s deep, experiential knowledge of their genre’s cliches, and their concerted effort to consolidate those styles while generating something new in the process.
It’s possible to find precedents for this music in the fringe lunacy of Wold and its Black Mecha output, but Bliss Signal tend toward feats of chest-bursting emotion rooted in the feeling of communal reverie and ecstasy, both negative and positive, that comes with raves and big stage gigs.
Factor in mixing by Jaime Gomez-Arellano (Paradise Lost, Sunn 0))), Ghost) and mastering at Abbey Road Studios, and you’ve got a steeply impressive sound.
‘FRKWYS Vol. 14 - Nue’ is a brilliant and uniquely beguiling study in non-standard tunings by Tashi Wada and his father, Fluxus artist Yoshi Wada, including input from Julia Holter, Simone Forti, Cole MGN, and Corey Fogel
Collaborating properly for the first time, Tashi and his father effectively serve an extension of the ideas in Yoshi’s classic side, ‘Earth Horns With Electronic Drones’. While we haven’t got an instrument list to hand, we can detect them using electronic synthesis, along with bagpipes, percussion, and vocals arranged at varying angles, smartly blurring their electro-acoustic distinctions at times, and at others using them quite explicitly in what may be perceived as richly dissonant tonal clashes.
In a very special way, the album is coolly tempered but riddled with wild unpredictability from song to song, starting out with the wilting electronic oscillations of ‘Aubade’, to scale the swelling bank of electronics and plangent bagpipes in the preceding single ‘Ground’, before massing in keening vocal harmony against a bed of electronics in ‘Ondine’.
The bagpipes return in a different way on ‘Double Body’, curled in almost jazzy ellipses around Corey Fogel’s slow, reverberating percussionin wonderfully unexpected ways, whereas the chiming percussive tingles of ‘Bottom Of The Sky’ recall stately Japanese Gagaku, and the pipes make another welcome return in close duet with the electronics on their self-explanatory and frankly fucking beautiful ‘Fanfare’.
For our money this is the strongest, spellbinding FRKWYS volume in its 10 year run - one of those records that restores faith, where needed, in the mysterious, inexplicable power of far out experimental music.
Seven is the magic number. Indeed, not only do psychologists theorise that the human brain can only memorise a sequence of this length, but Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs - the Newcastle-based maximalists whose riffs, raw power and rancour have blazed a trail across the darker quarters of the underground in the last five years - have made a second album in King Of Cowards which does its damnedest to take consciousness to its very limits.
"Moreover, another notable seven is dealt with here - that of the deadly sins. As vocalist and synth player Matt Baty notes “For a long time I’ve questioned how and where guilt can be used as a form of oppression. When can guilt be converted into positive action? After typing all of the lyrics up I realised I’d unwittingly referenced every one of the seven deadly sins throughout the album. That’s my fire and brimstone Catholic upbringing coming into play there!” Building on the momentum this band has built since their January 2017 debut Feed The Rats, this opus sees them entering a new phase as a sleeker and still more dangerous swineherd.
The Iggy-esque drive to dementia, Sabbath-esque squalor and Motörhead-style dirt may still be present and correct, yet the songs are leaner, the long-drawn-out riff-fests sharpened into addictive hammerblows and the nihilistic dirges of yore alchemically transformed into an uplifting and inviting barrage of hedonistic abandon. “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which” So George Orwell noted at the end of a certain slim volume. King Of Cowards is nothing less than just such a metamorphosis, one in which - in a blur of primal urges and beastly physicality - this band shows us just which animals are really in charge of the farm."
Chromatic conjurer Tim Hecker meets traditional Japanese Gagaku musicians from the Tokyo Gakuso ensemble on ‘Konoyo’, a dreamlike dramaturgy of noise, dissonance and aching melody recorded during several trips to Japan
The Canadian’s 9th solo release ‘Konoyo’, like its predecessor, ‘Love Streams’  also finds Hecker drawn to acoustic instruments and collaboration with a larger ensemble or collective, this time working with the Tokyo Gakuso ensemble after commanding an Icelandic choir on his previous album. However, the results here have a different purpose, swapping out ecstatic density for an intently refined and spacious approach, allowing his processed sources to ring out beautifully un/true in a sort of parallel dimensional harmonic spectrum.
In ‘Konoyo’ Tim Hecker effectively establishes a whole new set and lighting design to stage his patented play of paradoxes - lone/collective; organic/synthesised; consonant/dissonant - with the synaesthetically heightened skill of director, set designer and conductor rolled into one. The results are thus among his most subtly yet richly theatrical or cinematic, riddled with romantic, if abstract, narrative and a yearning pathos, and effectively collapsing myriad traditions - electronic, acoustic, Western, Eastern, classical and new age - into a spellbindingly sonorous, mercurial triumph.
Jamal Moss serves his 2nd Jai/Mahl 12” with ‘#DontjusttalkaboutitBeAboutit’ for Midnight Shift
Arriving in a most fecund phase for the Chicago badboy, this one doesn’t shirk on quality. The A-side comes with a spiky dose of Afro-cubist acid woven with his own vocals - a leitmotif of his work right now - on #Daretomatter, while #ICU locks into a rolling and sumptuously heady slice of deep house psychedelia that gets right under the skin, up yer nose, drawing eyes into back-of-skull.
B-side, he’s back to jack with something like a wild spin on early ‘90s KMS hardcore styles in the raving whirligig #Uwillnot, before coolly resolving with the title cut’s elegant, mid-tempo sashay.
Produced by Helge Sten (Deathprod), ’14’ is the latest blinder from his avant-jazz-supergroup with Arve Henriksen and Ståle Storløkken, a.k.a. Norway’s Supersilent...
Arriving more than 20 years since the trio’s debut, ’14’ finds their improvisational formula of trumpet, voice, keys and electronics generating some of the most phantasmic sound images imaginable.
At only 33 minutes wide, ’14’ is also one the shortest Supersilent albums in memory, revolving around 12 succinct pieces ranging in length from 1 minute to nearly 6, and tiled like an abstract, tessellating mosaic of ideas, rent in 3D by Sten’s bespoke Audiovirus system of analog oscillators and vintage tape machines.
Incredible,evocative and fuucked up music for late nights and isolation - a huge recommendation.
Wingtip Sloat’s slashing and arty post-punk sounds weirdly contemporary these days, so what better news than to have their first new music in almost twenty years!
"The LP includes plenty of the trebly guitar blare and low-fi charm immediately familiar from the group’s classic early ’90s singles, backstopping winning and memorable tunes like “Stars Bailed Out” and “Gizzard Jett.” The bonus CD includes bric-a-brac from the Sloat rehearsal room, with found poetry, perfect ninety-second rockers (the DC-specific “Cruisin’ The Ellipse”), confusing instrumental detours, and winsome covers of Eno, Dylan, Wire, Belle & Sebastian and more."
Continuing the Samurai Music 10 year anniversary celebrations, Decade (Phase 2) is a further collection of tracks mapping out the label's approach to 170 / Drum and Bass in 2018.
"Commencing with a searing slow burn from Ancestral Voices, Phase 2 features a rare 170 track from ASC, a dubbed out contribution from Calibre, refreshing beat pattern sorcery from Sam KDC and Lemna and a crucial collection of half step floor freshness from label staples - Homemade Weapons, The Untouchables, Torn, Last Life, and Artilect.
Shiken Hanzo and Antagonist make their first Samurai Music appearances in memorable fashion, while Es.tereo makes a return on the cusp of launching his own label."
Emergent sound artist Klara Lewis and inspirational English polymath Simon Fisher Turner fathom glorious, unpredictable and immersive compositions on ‘Care’, their collaborative debut for Editions Mego.
Embracing dualities and paradoxes of nature and technology, gender and age, aggression and fragility, the pair bring the best out of each in four expansive parts, where Fisher Turner brings over 40 years experience between pop, post-punk and the avant-garde to Klara Lewis’ fine-tuned ear for field recordings and her diaphanous production palette.
In the opening ‘8’ they establish wonderfully open parameters to their joint sound with radiant atmospheres and roiling drones ruptured by convulsive glitch, as if literally ripping between their two imaginations, before they gel around a mutual point in the mid-distance with Terre Thaemlitz-like keys and see-sawing rustic strings implying medieval melodies amid the multi timbral spatial dimensions and low end threats of ‘Drone’.
‘Tank’ then ventures into into the Middle East with the buzz of kids singing soon enough cut short by politically timed ballistics, leaving listens reeling in a fizzing mid-air streaked by stressed strings and a plangent Arabic vocal that leads into Muslimgauze-like dub rhythm and a gorgeous electronica coda, leaving us engulfed in the patient, anaesthetising and dissociative swell of ‘Mend’.
Under the Canaxis 5 name, In 1969 Can’s Holger Czukay and Rolf Dammers - his classmate from lessons under Stockhausen - made the cult detournement of ‘Folkways - Music Of Viet Nam’
Originally issued in the same year that Can came into being, Canaxis 5’s sought-after experiments on ‘Technical Space Composer’s Crew’ would also be issued by Munich’s Music Factory, who were also behind the debut release of The Can’s ‘Monster Movie’. Fair to say they’re both cult records, but the Canaxis 5 side is definitely the more experimental of the two.
On the A-side’s legendary ‘Boat Woman Song’ they hijack the aforementioned Folkways, taking its Vietnamese voices to a parallel, synthesised dimension of swirling dynamics and hypnotic widescreen drones owing much to the influential abstraction of Karlheinz Stockhausen’s electronic works. With the B-side’s ‘Canaxis’ they combine the Vietnamese vox with samples of Capella Antiqua München, imaginatively crossing vast time and space via synth wormholes to pave the way for so much 4th world and new age exploration to follow.
'Autobiography' is Jlin's soundtrack to the staged life story of eminent dancer and choreographer Wayne McGregor, which opened in October 2017 and is still running at Sadler’s Wells, London.
For an artist whose début album opened with a track called ‘Black Ballet’ - in reference to the art of Chicago footwork - the synchronicity between Jlin’s music and McGregor’s choreography is patently obvious, and this album is perhaps one of the smartest unions between those disciplines that we could hope for.
Jlin’s music has always driven us nuts in the best way - calling to mind a statement by Steve Goodman some years back, in which he effectively stated that the most exciting music to him is one that physically demands the body to move in unfamiliar ways, as he first experienced with the radical, muscle-memory reprogramming rhythms of hardcore and jungle in the early ‘90s, and especially in relative context to what preceded it.
In that sense, Jlin’s releases have persistently provided some of the most sensational music we’ve heard this decade, sparking our minds and bodies into action in the rarest, maddest, most inexorable ways by essentially, physically breaking and disrupting the mould of the same old, same old line-dancing music that too often passes for club music.
For Wayne’s ‘Autobiography’, Jlin renders his life story in a compellingly intricate musical language of syncopated pointillism, percolating her drums and symphonic orchestrations in weightless formations that mirror bodies in flight, touching the ‘floor as little as possible. But that’s only 2/3rd’s of the story, as Jlin vacillates these elegantly hardcore rhythms with gorgeous, beat-less moments of pastoral lushness, classical keys and glyding ambient pauses which, by contrast, better highlight the cyclonic torsion of her expressive rhythm programming, while simultaneously demonstrating the distance travelled between Footwork’s roots in the streets of Chicago, and its unique similarity with the so called “high art” of western culture.
Don’t get it twisted tho, we’re highlighting an obvious distinction, it’s not about prizing one over the other, but celebrating and acknowledging the brilliant results of this unusual but evidently, completely natural-fitting union of styles and patterns.
Post punk originator Robert Rental’s 1980 demo tapes, created circa his legendary ‘Double Heart’ single, surface for the first time on Optimo, thanks to the efforts of JD Twitch and Simon Dell. Unmissable for the wobbly dub groove and glossolalic croon of ‘Open Air’ and the extraordinary, incendiary synths of ‘Radio Silence’ at the very least, but the rest is gold, too!
“On an unassuming cassette, just labelled ‘Robert Rental’ in green Dymo tape, these demos have lain unheard for years amongst his family’s treasured possessions, cared-for artefacts of a life cut short far too soon.
These songs, which Robert recorded in his council flat in Battersea in 1980, provide an enticing glimpse into his all-too-infrequent solo work. On most occasions, Robert worked with Thomas Leer, Daniel Miller or other collaborators. These are rough recordings, tape hiss still in evidence, but his creativity shines through the murk, like uncut diamonds.
With these recordings Robert appears to be moving towards more recognisable song structures than most of his earlier work, which could be wildly experimental and would often involve found recordings taped directly off television.
We know 2 of these tracks from their later re-recording for the Mute Records single ‘Double Heart’ late in 1980. Robert spoke to friends of his frustration at being unable to replicate his sound in a commercial studio – it was these demos’ sound that he wanted to recreate. Sometimes having only access to the most rudimentary of equipment can hone the creative talent into something sharper and more focused – necessity is the mother of invention, indeed.
Simon Dell, 2018
I am humbled and ecstatic to be entrusted with this music and able to aid getting these songs out into the world. I have now listened to them countless times and feel they are so, so much more than just an interesting archival release, but rather a small, fully formed body of wondrous songs that deserve to be heard and enjoyed by as many people as possible. In this current era where so much music is so completely focussed on the production, with the result that often the soul is sucked out of it, it’s a pleasant shock to discover that a forgotten tape from nearly 40 years ago can be the freshest and most refreshing sounding thing ever.
JD Twitch, 2018”
Bruisingly powerful scream rap noise from Prison Religion on Rabit’s amazing Halcyon Veil.
Hailing from Richmond, Virginia, Prison Religion are one of the most hardcore, rap-related acts we’ve heard in years. No cock out business, just Philip Best levels of mic-burning bile and vitriol shrieked and expectorated over bludgeoning beats, field recordings and charred electronics.
No song outstays it welcome. They all say their piece and get the fuuck on with the next one, from the electroid slosh and harsh holler of ‘Messenger’ to the stark EP highlight of ‘Aliciakeys’ and the speaker-worrying shudders of ‘Ansss1’, to the gabber gallop of ‘Yabbadabbdont’, and a final, cataclysmic descent into hellish strings on ‘Nibiru’.
The American singer-songwriter’s 8th studio album in pursuit of classic folk and country spirits...
“The eighth album from Marissa Nadler, For My Crimes, is the sound of turmoil giving way to truth. The songs stare down the dark realization that love may not be enough to keep two people together through distance and differing needs. By asking these difficult questions about her relationships, Nadler has found a stronger sense of self and a sharper voice as both a songwriter and a vocalist, culminating in her most evocative entry in an already impressive discography.
Following the release of 2016’s acclaimed Strangers, Nadler’s relationships were put to the test as she left the Boston area on tour. She wrote throughout 2017 about this tension, and ended up with three times as many songs as she needed. But after reviewing the demos with her co-producers Justin Raisen and Lawrence Rothman, Nadler wrote a flurry of tight but no less intense new songs in the week before arriving at Rothman’s Laurel Canyon studio, House of Lux, in early January. She considered it a challenge to herself, applying new strategies and structures to the craft of “slow music” she’s honed over the last 15 years. From that group of songs came nearly all of the singles on For My Crimes, some of the most indelible of Nadler’s career.”
Inland’s debut LP is an epic electro-techno-acid set stemming from his soundtrack to a video installation by conceptual artist Julian Charrière
“Based on his soundtrack for a video installation by conceptual artist Julian Charrière, Davenport has recast the material and field recordings into eight tracks of rhythmically intricate electronics and spectral, ambient techno, inspired by Charrière’s visually striking, 76-minute tracking shot through a palm plantation toward a totemic soundsystem on full blast.
Both the album and original soundtrack were created in response to the 200th anniversary of the eruption of Indonesia’s Tambora volcano in 1815, which plunged the world into darkness and caused a series of extreme weather conditions. At the time, the natural climate change crisis resulted in numerous global famines and is known throughout the northern hemisphere as “The Year Without Summer”, with global communities forced to adapt to sudden radical changes in temperature and weather.
An Invitation To Disappear offers a contemporary parallel, leading viewers – and listeners – down a seemingly endless direct path of gridded palms from dawn to dusk; a bio-commercial monoculture where ancient jungle once flourished. Light flickers between rows of fruit-laden trees and a distant fire burns in the undergrowth where the border between natural image and computer simulation breaks down. At the same time, formerly incoherent rumblings of sub-frequencies begin to transform into the contours of rhythm. This is reflected sonically in eight perspectives on the lush, synthetic jungle, made of myriad buzzing fauna, morphing melody and colossal bassweight. All paths lead toward an apocalyptic dancefloor, though speeds vary widely; rhythms dissolve from straight to broken, synth tempos operate by their own internal clocks (and logic). Juxtaposing industrial agriculture with rave culture, the album explores the industrialization and refinement of nature, and the new strange forms emerging from the synthetic grids of both.
As Inland, Davenport has previously contributed soundtracks to other installations by the Swiss-born Charrière, whose artistic practice focuses on bridging environmental science and cultural history, often taking place in remote geophysical locations, including ice fields, volcanos and radioactive sites.”
The 2nd compilation of Stereolab rarities and singles, remastered and available to download for the first time
Make sure to check their two wig-outs with Nurse With Wound, especially for the driving krautrock psychedelia of their ‘“Animal Or Vegetable [A Wonderful Wooden Reason…]” and ‘Exploding Head Movie’ charges.
Trevor Jackson picks up nuggets from the editing room of his ‘Format’ series, ranging from melodic IDM to Motor City techno and trippy house trax - really strong set this.
Listen out for highlights in the effortless techno suspension system of ‘Qix’, in the smart balance of EBM industrial drums and dreamy melodies on ‘Machine Worshippers’, and the double deep electro serve of ‘Beamrider’.
A total peach comes back into circulation with Holger Czukay’s beguiling, heavily grooving ‘Full Circle’, starring crucial input from his Can bandmate Jaki Liebzeit on drums and Jah Wobble weilding the bass
Instantly loveable for the grooving punk-disco ear worm of album opener ‘How Much Are They? - a big anthem in mid ‘80s Belgium and elsewhere - listeners will also encounter the muggy dub of ‘Where’s The Money?’ and the playfully exotic concrète-jazz-funk of ‘Full Circle R.P.S. (No. 7)’, along with a ghostly blues piece ‘Mystery R.P.S. (No. 8)’ on a classic Can tip, and the psychedelic come-down of ‘Twilight World’.
Stone cold classic!
DIY home recordings of ambient synth and modern classical solo piano, meandering with a lovely, day-dreaming quality that feels like a lower-fi, subtly crazed adjunct to Dominique Lawalrée’s genteel ambient flocking
“Le Raccourci is a welcome introduction to the world of modern classical identity Sebastian Gandera. The impressionist landscapes of a sensitive soul self-reflecting, these miniature compositions alternate across a rudimentary set up of piano, field recorder, sampler and four track. Melancholic utterings hastily captured some 100km east of Paris.
Classically trained by the same teacher as his parents, Gandera first began recording in the confines of his university dorm room, inspired by a C60 from friend and future collaborator Bernard Odot (A Gethsémani). Humbly existing without sparing a thought to music industry or career, Gandera’s personal effects surfaced via the European and US cassette networks from 1988 to 1994. Impressively accomplished for the DIY scene they orbited, these tapes were issued in scant quantities, rendering his pieces as private secrets shared and duplicated in small concentric circles. Aside from a sole, avowedly traumatic performance, the material was never shared in a live context.
Selected by Sky Girl co-conspirer Julien Dechery, Le Raccourci culls 15 tracks from Gandera’s extensive cassette discography, discarded DAT recordings, and split CD with Lyon toy music project Klimperei. These sentiently charged compositions only hint at his larger catalogue, but act as a compelling cross section of the artist’s oeuvre. The identity is further detailed by archival images, Glen Goetze penned liner notes and original artwork from Perks and Mini’s Misha Hollenbach.
While Gandera’s nostalgic melodies incidentally parallel with the piano key manoeuvres of Pascal Comelade, Robert Haigh and Dominique Lawalrée, Le Raccourci could only stem from the escapist desires of one Eric Morin.”
Feathered, glassy, brilliant rhythmelodies from Japan, following H. Tahashi’s ‘Raum’ delicacy for Where To Now? RIYL Anthony Manning, Plaid, Visible Cloaks...
“Tokyo architect Hiroki Takahashi is a world-builder both in matter and sound. His latest collection of serene micro-miniatures was inspired by “the dissatisfaction with reality that I feel on a daily basis.” Escapism offers exactly that: percolating patterns of fiberglass synthetics and fluorescent melody, assembled into minimalist bio-domes of refracted light and hanging gardens. Recorded during metropolitan commutes, afterhours office meditations, and various windows of urban stasis, the album’s six songs actualize the ambient muse of their maker, willing space from density, tranquility from tedium. As with his work in exotic atmosphere unit UNKNOWN ME, Takahashi’s touch is hushed, precise, and prismatic, coaxing spectrums of illusion and bliss in its tinted glass spirals: “Extreme tension produces extreme relaxation.”
After a standout 2015 debut, Montreal’s Ouri is picked up by Ghostly International for a dreamily rugged showcase of R&B-spiked deep house, rolling Italo laced with vaporous modern blues.
“Ouri is a DJ, electronic producer and multi-instrumentalist. Hailing from South America by way of France, she produces electronic music in Montreal. Her background experience with the piano, harp and cello heavily influence her shape-shifting approach to melody and bass. Her 2015 EP Maze is a provocative experience of vivid, entrancing dance music. Aggressive, refreshing and playful, her sound is bold and self-assured.
In 2017, Ouri released her debut album Superficial, a kind of laboratory where she mixes her truth with chaos. Her obsession with strong sensations, femininity and this same truth makes up the heart of this project. In late 2017, she joined force with Montreal-based singer-songwriter Mind Bath and dropped a surprise self-titled EP. The Ouri / Mind Bath EP features both tenderness and aggressiveness, and balances the femininity and masculinity of the two artists.
Ouri's first offering in 2018 is a new EP entitled We Share Our Blood and her first release on Ghostly International. Despite crusades or potential AI domination, we keep sharing our blood: for creation or destruction. Either motivated by rivalry, fusion or strangeness, we blend. Ouri uses a direct path to convey this primitive condition. A sovereign state, this project allows no collaboration. Using her own voice for the first time, she suspends with deep sincerity the moral turpitude that seeks to be caressed. The drum breaks are crisp and raw, the bass lines are overpowering. The voice and appealing harmonies bring out a soothing side, balancing this whole adventure. Contrary to her previous work, this EP is shaped out of mantras and hymns, ushering through the portal an offering of space for listeners to investigate their own fantasies.”
A spirited suite surveying string-based works by three women, Polish cellist Resina; french pianist Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch; and Swedish-Iranian pianist Shida Shahabi. 130701 label founder Dave Howell provides our personal highlight with a field recording of fly-tipped pianos on Severn Beach
“‘The Sea at The End of Her String’ is a seven-track EP that highlights three adventurous, hugely talented female artists from the current roster of FatCat’s pioneering 130701 imprint. Featuring seven exclusive new tracks, the EP is available both digitally and in a limited edition, one-time-only vinyl pressing of 300 copies to be sold alongside a short, triple-bill UK tour. Both tour and EP feature the same three artists – French pianist / composer Emilie Levienaise-Farrouch, Polish cellist Resina and Swedish-Iranian pianist Shida Shahabi.
The EP’s title is taken from a line in Sylvia Plath’s poem, ‘Three Women’ and, whilst taken somewhat out of context, is used here to indicate both the instrumental rooting of the three artists’ music (bound to the resonating strings of the piano or cello) and to offer some suggestion of the fluidity and vastness it either draws from or expresses. Each of the three artists contributes two new tracks, and all tracks are exclusive to this EP. The track-list is completed with a field recording collage from 130701’s founder / label head, Dave Howell. Captured on wasteland at Severn Beach on the estuary of the River Severn, onto which a number of pianos were fly-tipped amongst other junk, it reveals a very different end of the string.”
Murcof renders a panoramic suite pairing dramatic choral vocals from the ‘Goldberg Variations’ with symphonic electronics to soundtrack Patrick Bernatchez film, ‘Lost In Time’
“In Lost in Time, two parallel narratives intertwine: e first follows a helmet-clad, faceless horse and rider adrift in an indeterminate landscape of ice and snow, quite literally lost in time and space, while the second seems to allude to a strange scientific experiment. Lost in Time plunges us into perpetual renewal, each ending leading to a new beginning.
The protagonists – two beings bound by a certain mutual dependence – are forever trapped in a time loop where life and death ceaselessly rotate.The use of what are almost exclusively black figures against white landscapes produces a menacing, otherworldly atmosphere that is also stunningly beautiful. The original soundtrack of the film, blends the aria of the Goldberg Variations sung by Les Petits Chanteurs du Mont-Royal with a composition by Murcof.
The soundtrack also exists as an autonomous work entitled Lost in Time (Goldberg Experienced.05). Coproduction Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal and Casino Luxembourg. With the support of the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec and the Canada Council for the Arts. Composed by Murcof, the soundtrack of the film Lost in Time was the subject of a previous double album co-produced by Patrick Bernatchez and the Casino Luxembourg in 2014.”
The fearsome Spiritflesh enter the physical domain again with a chasmic, steeply absorbing debut album of spectral, tribal dub noise for No Corner
Also known as studio mediums Julian Smith (October) and Boris English (Borai), Spiritflesh is kind of their answer to Coil’s ElpH - a presence that inhabits the wires and circuitry of their well-stocked recording space, and which may be summoned by the most arcane, unconscious and secretive productive techniques. Of course, then again it may just be their imaginations, but who knows what’s real or not these days.
Working at a metaphysical crossroads between Radiophonic exploration and the pharmaceutical experimentation of ‘80s and ‘90s dark ambient on one level, while also nodding to the output of Lee ‘Scratch Perry’s Black Ark as much as Conny’s Studio in the Bavarian forest and the legendary Dome facilities on another, the results speak to a time out of joint and out of place, resonating with a timeless psychoacoustic dread that only comes from endless hours of spell casting at the desk.
The sounds inside really come alive with amplification, projecting a phantasmic play of electro-acoustic apparitions that lurch from and recede into its murky layers. Taking a hold with the gnashing drums and banking noise of ‘Crib’, the LP rolls into unfathomably abyssal electro-dub space in ‘Ever Impeding Doom’, tripping down the labyrinthine arps of ‘Sentient’ before plumbing dankest levels of post-punk dread a la Bourbons Qualk with ‘Beneath The Clouded Veil’, and shoring us up in a hyperreal, heatsick simulacra of tropical no-mans-land with a Ballardian descriptive relish in ‘Nothing Will Ever Be The Same Again’.
Remastered and available to download for the first time, Stereolab’s wittily titled 2nd single, ‘Stunning Debut Album’
Revolves the songs ‘Doubt’, a frothy Gallic psych-pop bubbler, and the grungier indie jangle of ‘Changer’.
De Grandi, Mani Festo, and Denham Audio have a fine stab at suturing Filter Dread’s ruptured grime instrumentals
De Grandi turns ‘Corrupt Floppy’ into a wicked whirr of trilling claps and percolated subs gelled with smooth, stick and squeaky synth lines. Mani Festo ramps ‘M25’ to a sort of hyper grime-meets-ghetto tech and jungle style compatible with Proc Fiskal and jungle-footwork styles. Denham Audio resets ‘Beyond Saturn’ with his own, glutinous, dark garage swagger.
Footwork dons DJ Spinn and DJ Phil exert ace remixes on Scratcha DVA’s hook-ups with R&B starlet Clara Le San
‘Take It All’ is ramped up and rent with flared chords and flying groove by DJ Spinn, and, fresh from inclusion on Kode 9 and Burial’s amazing Fabric mix, DJ Phil sends ‘Pink22’ reeling into the circle with rapid subbass pulses and delicious vocal chops to icy cool but delirious effect.
The legendary first Stereolab EP, remastered and available to download for the first time
‘Super 45’  was initially issued on 10” in edition of 800 and then only available via mail-order and Rough Trade shops.
E.M.M.A. delivers the first pearl on her Pastel Prism label
Following on from her massive ‘Mindmaze/Pumpkin Emoji’  12” - a massive anthem around these parts - ‘Liberty’ finds her on a low key dembow bump, coaxing synthetic harpsichord and bubbling arps into a deep blue, ancient-futurist meditation.