Gorgeous and essential archive material from master of ‘The Tokyo Sound’ and environmental music pioneer, Hiroshi Yoshimura, the latest unearthing on Chee Shimizu's 17853 - previously only available on a very limited Japanese cassette back early 80s.
Conceived for the eponymous exhibition of new wave, international fashion held by the Seibu department store at the Suzue corporation’s loft on Takeshita Pier, Tokyo on 18th September, 1983, the perfectly mannered 7-song instrumental suite of Pier & Loft was subsequently issued on cassette thru Fukusei Gijutsu Kohboh later that year.
The record sweetly captures a debonaire, technologically-enhanced style that we’d perceive as specific to the Japanese capital in early ‘80s: an economical and precise synthetic sound, with brightly cute motifs rendered to the rafters in soft reverbs and layered with an elegant simplicity that masks the measured intricacy of construction.
And while the insert notes ask us allow for some slight background noise and distortion form the original master tapes, it’s barely perceptible, and probably would have gone unnoticed if, like the music itself, it weren’t so fastidious in its precision and construction.
Six of the seven tracks are feather light and beatless, ranging from heart-melting romantic themes such as Horizon I’ve Ever Seen Before to the moon beam of Tokyo Bay Area - which are both long enough to let you really float away - whereas Wavy Patterned Icecream gives it a deft dab of beatless synth funk that melts into air, and Kamome Dayori continues that rhythmic theme on the downstroke into the album’s sole appearance of drum machines in the gently swinging budge of The Sea In My Palm, which warmly recalls something from Alain Pierre’s Jan Zonder Vrees soundtrack.
Vessel returns to Tri Angle with ‘Queen Of Golden Dogs’, offering a crazed leap from ‘Punish, Honey’  into wild fusions of chamber music and outernational rhythms.
Crafted over the course of one and half years while sequestered in rural Wales, ‘Queen Of Golden Dogs’ is a logical, if somewhat hyper, steroid-fed, progression from Vessel’s previous album, his 2016 turn with Immix Ensemble for Erased Tapes, and interim joyrides with Chester Giles in ASDA (the band, not the supermarket).
If one could accuse previous Vessel outings as gothic or darkside, there’s a much finer play of light/dark, texture, pace and space in Vessel’s 3rd album, demonstrating in no uncertain terms an artist in hot, active pursuit of pushing his sound in new directions, and without losing sight of himself.
Riven with heart-bleeding ecstatic noise from nose to tail, the beats are also up-for-it in a way recalling North African dervish traditions or a playfully aggressive, boisterous Shackleton, with strong examples given in the opening clash of dissonant strings and pranging clatter on ‘Fantasma (For Jasmine)’, the restless razz of ‘Glory Glory (For Tippi)’, an escalating trance whirligig named ‘Paplu Love That Moves The Sun’, and the Art Of Noise on crystal meth styles of ‘Argo (For Maggie)’.
On the other hand, his choral arrangements and chamber music proclivities lend an exquisite contrast and relief between those prang outs, ranging from precise vignettes such as the tantalising ‘Good Animal (For Hannah)’, and the sore yelps of ‘Zahir (For Eleanor)’ to the elegant harpsichord aggression of ‘Arcanum (For Christalla)’, and most impressively on the cracked, off key cadence of ‘Torno-me eles a nau-e (For Remedies).
Could this be the world's first experimental MOR album? Nah, but time has decided it is perhaps the most supreme. Wackos of the world, take over...
Named after the Nicolas Roeg film of the same name (in fact several of Jim’s albums are named after Roeg films, R.I.P), Eureka features a huge cast of ensemble players - many of them core members of the same Chicago underground scene that O’Rourke was part of until the turn of the century which this album predated by a few months - including Edith Frost, Fred Lonberg-Holm, Rob Mazurek, Bob Weston, Ken Vandermark, Darin Gray and others.
O’Rourke's obsessive mastery of any genre he turned his attention to is by now almost taken for granted, but when Eureka came out in 1999 people were shook by its mainstream appeal and beautifully produced, almost overly sweet arrangements. In hindsight, it’s easy to peg Eureka as O’Rourke’s pop masterpiece; a beautifully crafted collection of accessible but highly intricate songs that lodge themselves deep in your mind almost instantly, with nods to everyone from Bacharach to Fahey with several unpredictable trajectories in between.
An absolute avant-pop masterpiece.
Rarely has an album owed so much to production... Low return with their most daring, experimental release in years, co-produced by James Blake's man at the controls B.J. Burton, at times verging on a layered, pulsing electronic sound you'd associate with the likes of Andy Stott. Doused in distortion, throbbing electronics, submerged vocals, side-chain effects - this could easily have been a nauseating exercise in modernisation; but instead the strength of the songwriting shines through for one of Low's best = a standout full-length for 2018.
"In 2018, Low will turn twenty-five. Since 1993, Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker—the married couple whose heaven-and-earth harmonies have always held the band’s center—have pioneered a subgenre, shrugged off its strictures, recorded a Christmas classic, become a magnetic onstage force, and emerged as one of music’s most steadfast and vital vehicles for pulling light from our darkest emotional recesses. But Low will not commemorate its first quarter-century with mawkish nostalgia or safe runs through songbook favorites. Instead, in faithfully defiant fashion, Low will release its most brazen, abrasive (and, paradoxically, most empowering) album ever: Double Negative, an unflinching eleven-song quest through snarling static and shattering beats that somehow culminates in the brightest pop song of Low’s career.
To make Double Negative, Low reenlisted B.J. Burton, the quietly energetic and adventurous producer who has made records with James Blake, Sylvan Esso, and The Tallest Man on Earth in recent years while working as one of the go-to figures at Bon Iver’s home studio, April Base. Burton recorded Low’s last album, 2015’s Ones and Sixes, at April Base, adding might to many of its beats and squelch and frisson beneath many of its melodies.
This time, though, Sparhawk, Parker, and bassist Steve Garrington knew they wanted to go further with Burton and his palette of sounds, to see what someone who is, as Sparhawk puts it, “a hip-hop guy” could truly do to their music. Rather than obsessively write and rehearse at home in Duluth, Minnesota, they would often head southeast to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, arriving with sketches and ideas that they would work on for days with Burton. Band and producer became collaborative cowriters, building the pieces up and breaking them down and building them again until their purpose and force felt clear. As the world outside seemed to slide deeper into instability, Low repeated this process for the better part of two years, pondering the results during tours and breaks at home. They considered not only how the fragments fit together but also how, in the United States of 2018, they functioned as statements and salves.
Double Negative is, indeed, a record perfectly and painfully suited for our time. Loud and contentious and commanding, Low fightsfor the world by fighting against it. It begins in pure bedlam, with a beat built from a loop of ruptured noise waging war against the paired voices of Sparhawk and Parker the moment they begin to sing during the massive “Quorum.” For forty minutes, they indulge the battle, trying to be heard amid the noisy grain, sometimes winning and sometimes being tossed toward oblivion. In spite of the mounting noise, Sparhawk and Parker still sing. Or maybe they sing because of the noise. For Low, has there ever really been a difference?"
One of the most influential, insular and multi-layered albums of the last three decades, created through endless hours of improvisation - involving almost fifty musicians and recorded in complete darkness, 'Laughing Stock' is an album that has attained almost mythical status since its release in 1991.
Following the commercial success of their singles "It's My Life", "Life's What You Make It” and album "The Colour of Spring”, Talk Talk retreated back into the shadows and produced two albums that defied categorisation. After the release of the first of these (Spirit of Eden) and a proolonged court case, the band parted ways with EMI and signed to iconic jazz imprint Verve who financed the long and complicated recording of Laughing Stock. Assembling almost 50 guest musicians, Mark Hollis is said to have demanded they record in almost complete darkness, improvising for hours to produce individual parts without hearing any backing tracks or surrounding material. Most of these recordings were discarded, but from what remained Hollis and producer Tim Friese-Greene pieced together a record that is essentially one long sequence of overdubs separated out into six long tracks.
Laughing Stock was to be their last album - on its release the NME described it as “horrible” and many listeners were left perplexed by its insular, unfathomable dynamics. But in the time since, Laughing Stock's legacy seems to have grown in stature with every year that has gone by. You can easily see the stylistic and conceptual markers left by Talk Talk in the way that bands like Radiohead went on to explore more open-ended, diverse sound sources and stylistic shifts - feeling able to experiment without fear of alienating a large fanbase as if it were the most normal thing in the world for a band with considerable chart success to do.
"Laughing Stock" is not only one of the most absorbing albums of the modern era, it’s also a masterclass of production and construction, a relic, perhaps, of an era when artists could completely disconnect from the pressures of their surroundings and dive deep into the wormhole...
Out of print on vinyl for over 30 years, Brian Eno’s foundational ambient recording is finally placed back in circulation, newly remastered.
While we could be here all day debating when ambient music really became a “thing” (others may argue it was ‘Discreet Music’ or Harold Budd’s ‘The Pavillion of Dreams), the putative consensus remains that Brian Eno birthed the genre, proper, with ‘Ambient 1: Music For Airports’.
Originally dispensed in 1978, it is perhaps one of the most commonly referenced ambient recordings in the history of electronic music, marking the point where musical composition became conceptually and truly decentered, diffused, and practically taken out of the composer’s hands, yet still conveys something ultimately human; serving to enhance or encourage our unique ability to reflect, meditate (ok, so I saw a video of Goat meditation the other day, so maybe we’re not that unique?!).
Brian Eno’s 6th studio album, ‘Ambient 1: Music For Airports’ was conceived while waiting hours for a flight at Cologne Bonn Airport in Germany in response to the airport’s uninspired sound atmosphere. I’m actually struggling to think of what airports sound like now, apart from cackling hen do’s and crying kids, but we can imagine that ‘70s airport muzak could have been seriously bland. Enter Eno and his cosmic imagination, who imagineered the solution with synths and tape loops, and the help of peers such as Robert Wyatt, who provides the keys looped up on ‘1/1’, along with engineering by Conny Plank and longterm collaborator Rhett Davies.
It’s maybe hard to imagine ambient music without this record. From the radiant serenity of the first part, to the angelic choral drift of the 2nd and 3rd sections, thru to the shimmering, quietly optimistic promise of the 4th part, this is a record that defines the ideal of sublime and contemplative music - sound freed of heavy-handed connotation, and succeeding by way of gentle, unchallenging inference.
Prayers are answered with Vainqueur’s Reductions 1995-1997, a compilation of in-demand cuts from René Löwe’s seminal Chain Reaction 12”s and Elevations CD, including the vinyl premiere of Antistatic and first ever appearance of Antistatic II on any format, all available on wax for the first time in over 20 years!
For anyone who came thru during the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, Vainqueur records were required listening - beyond Maurizio’s M-Series and the Basic Channel catalogue, they’re some of the strongest dub techno trax in existence. Now, two decades later, they still appear regularly in the mixes of those in the know, but their 2nd hand prices have steadily crept up in parallel.
To newcomers and older fiends alike, this 3LP selection provides a perfect overview of Vainqueur’s most feted period (not withstanding his all-time banger Lyot , but that was a kinda one-off). The first disc revolves his banging Reduce 1 and the monotone brilliance of Reduce 2, whilst the 2nd disc renders the more tender gasps and dub chords of Solanus (Original) and the heady Elevation II - both masterclasses in German techno minimalism - while the 3rd disc significantly presents the flared chords of Antistatic, taken from the Elevations CD, on vinyl for the 1st time, backed with the exclusive-to-this-12” Antistatic II.
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’.
Anther heavyweight haul of slow techno mutations from Mike Jefford’s Positive Centre, coming quick on the heels of ‘The Leaf Switch’ album for Opal Tapes with a stark, grungy, grumbling batch for Horo
“After making his initial mark with a grinding fog of slowed Techno on Sigha’s Our Circula Sound label, Michael Jefford aka Positive Centre has traversed the electronic BPM scale with a sonic signature of ghostly synthetics that make the switch between industrial aesthetics and illusory soundscaping.
Within this nucleus, Jefford’s recorded history as a Live Performing Artist, DJ and Producer has always reflected what at once can be microscopic whilst still being the largest object in view. Each track on Forever Optimum sets a different location and perspective on an active set of mechanics - like watching fragments in motion, reacting to different forces.
Having previously released for a range of Techno’s more adventurous labels includingSNTS, Stroboscopic Artefacts, Opal Tapes and not forgetting his own In Silent Series label. Positive Centre’s 3rd Album ‘Forever Optimum’ stands as a beautiful anomaly in the 2018 HORO catalogue. Continuing the point of the HORO label: being open to the beguiling musical arcs that keep us redefining our sound.”
The new album Pastoral, by Gazelle Twin, exhumes England’s rotten past, and shines a torch over its ever-darkening present.
"Told through a troupe of multi-gender voices, in vernaculars old and new; from the shrill echo of folksong to tabloid-tinged jaunts, the artist aka Elizabeth Bernholz, presents the notion that “there is horror in every idyll, and danger lurking beyond the “quaint” ”. The village square - once host to centuries of public torture - becomes a floral framed postcard, dolled-up for the Summer Fête. A sunny, afternoon walk over the hills unsettles a cloud of angry flies feeding from unidentifiable remains. Bigoted vitriol gently murmurs amidst tearoom chatter, as the neatly framed pastoral picture dissolves into a solemn ennui."
The big-lugged punks at Brooklyn’s Wharf Cat Records yank out 工工工, or Gong Gong Gong’s 2nd album of jangly no wave honk and trample with ‘DÌXIÀ BEIJING 地下北京’, recorded at the Xinyuanli Underpass, Beijing on 05/05/2017
The mid-90s were a period of going as far out in all directions as possible – and Luke Slater’s The 7th Plain tracks were certainly about exploration of the deep space of the imagination.
"Cosmic, analogue, orchestrated, they still represent some of the most emotionally intense music ever to come out of the techno realm. Whether built on percussive frameworks or sweeping nebulas of dissipated sound, Slater’s synthesizers still sing space-travelers’ tales compellingly and beautifully.
For this reason, Ostgut Ton sublabel A-TON launched back in 2016 with The 7th Plain’s Chronicles I, establishing itself as a platform for archive, ambient and art-related releases. This first eight-track compilation was split between classics from the albums My Yellow Wise Rug and The 4 Cornered Room on the one hand and previously unreleased tracks on the other, with the goal of providing a different, remastered framework for Slater’s futuristic visions from the past.
In contrast, Chronicles III is made up solely of music from the General Production Recordings label catalogue and stylistically skews less toward percussive techno-funk and more toward free-form broken rhythms – though tracks such as “Lost”, “Time Melts” or “Millentum” stand strong as hybrid pillars of both.
Luke Slater pioneered the UK's electronic landscape as Translucent, 4 Slots For Bill, Planetary Assault Systems, The 7th Plain, Clementine, and later as L.B. Dub Corp, by partly focussing on, partly bypassing the traditional, puristic values of techno. Together with Dave Sumner (Function) and Steve Bicknell he also operates as LSD.
Ultimately, when listening to all three parts of Chronicles, it’s apparent that 7th Plain music is cut from the same emotional cloth, one related strongly to the backroom, the chillout, the after-party, the solo headphone voyage. These weren’t and never should be considered separate zones from the dancefloor.
In other words, as Luke Slater puts it, in the mid-90s, they were “part of the night, part of the experience... where ideas could be shared.” And like Global Communication, Mira Calix, The Future Sound of London, the Artificial Intelligence generation, Slater's 7th Plain was a response to those hallucinatory, spiritual, but still social spaces at the heart of underground communities – and the magic is still strong in it."
In-depth 24 track survey of Luke Slater’s deep space techno project, heavily inspired by classic Detroit techno, ‘70s Teutonic kosmiche and the psychedelic experience of UK rave
“In the afterglow of rave's white heat, the mid-'90s were a period of going as far out in all directions as possible; Luke Slater's The 7th Plain tracks were about exploration of the deep space of the imagination. Cosmic, analog, orchestrated, they still represent some of the most emotionally intense music ever to come out of the techno realm. Whether built on percussive frameworks or sweeping nebulas of dissipated sound, Slater's synthesizers still sing space-travelers' tales compellingly and beautifully. For this reason A-TON launched back in 2016 with The 7th Plain's Chronicles I (ATON 001CD/LP), establishing itself as a platform for archive, ambient and art-related releases. With the release of Chronicles II (ATON 006CD/LP, 2018) and Chronicles III (ATON 007CD/LP, 2018), the journey continued further into outer and inner space.
Now, Chronicles I-III complies all three volumes in a special-edition. Chronicles II and I are divided between previously-released material, and four unreleased future classics. Chronicles III is music from the General Production Recordings label catalog and skews less toward percussive techno-funk and more toward free-form broken rhythms. Slater pioneered the UK's electronic landscape as Translucent, 4 Slots For Bill, Planetary Assault Systems, The 7th Plain, Clementine, and later as L.B. Dub Corp, by partly focusing on, partly bypassing the traditional, puristic values of techno. Together with Dave Sumner (Function) and Steve Bicknell he also operates as LSD. Chronicles is a three-part series of Slater's The 7th Plain project, including both previously released and unreleased material. Ultimately, when listening to all three parts of Chronicles, it's apparent that 7th Plain's music is cut from the same emotional cloth, one related strongly to the backroom, the chillout, the after-party, the solo headphone voyage. These weren't and never should be considered separate zones from the dance floor. Slater's 7th Plain was a response to those hallucinatory, spiritual, but still social spaces at the heart of underground communities; and the magic is still strong in it.”
Zoe McPherson’s standout ‘String Figures’ album remixed by Ben Vince, N1L, Strahinja Arbutina and more in decimated dancefloor styles
In Ben Vince’s ‘Perculator Mix’, Zoe’s ‘Sabotage’ is agitated and torn up over sunken subbass, whereas Sukitoa o Namau give it a more sloshing, spacious rework focussing on pranging percussion and guttural vocal sounds.
UIQ’s N1L gives a cement mixer treatment to ‘Komusar’, resulting some sorta Afro-concrète churn, and Bartellow kneads the same elements into a squashed tribal grind.
The most impressive transformation comes from Hester-1 with the ruggedly balletic plies and hi-wire tension of their ‘Hardingfele’ remix, and Strahinja Arbutina follows recent 12”s for Vivod and Natural Sciences with the cold woodblock punctuation and offset techno roil of his take on ‘Deep’.
New on Posh Islation.
“The story of the passenger liner MS Scandinavian Star stays adrift. Tragic and complex, the details are out there in the electronic ozone, still yet to find closure. From sea port to Ethernet port, Malthe Fischer's project navigates the themes of the narrative that unfolds to this day.
His debut album 'SOLAS' makes this journey with a series of heart-wrenching affairs in crisp detail. Appearing on Posh Isolation's recent compilation 'I Could Go Anywhere But Again I Go With You', Fischer's Scandinavian Star project here marked a long-anticipated return. Since his self-titled and widely loved cassette for Ascetic House, Fischer has been most prominent in the band Lust For Youth.
His hand is also across much of Posh Isolation, having mixed and mastered a number of releases. 'SOLAS' shares some of the floaty, melodramatic electronics of Lust For Youth's most elegant moments, but it's a different flavour of heartbreak and intrigue being pushed by Fischer in his solo work.
A symphony of disembodied voices trail across 'SOLAS'. Gesturing toward longing and hope, and occasionally struggling to get out of the misty collage of stumbling rhythms, it's as if we are listening to a form of wonder being mechanized before us.
The surface of Fischer's work is dense in detail, but falling for and fixating on the smallest thing often blossoms the most treasured effects. Minor acoustic instrumentation is precariously balanced against thickets of cut-up recordings and samples, the hybrid charge of the synthesizers holds everything together without letting anything recede.
As soft as 'SOLAS' feels, it stays sharp and bites at times, even through four-to-the-floor whispers. There's a memory of something communal in it all, and this is what holds on.”
Empty raves. We’ve been to a few, and even hosted some, and now Paper Dollhouse take the feeling of dancing by yourself as cue for their follow-up to albums with Finders Keepers’ Bird, and their recent(ish) side, ‘The Sky Looks Different Here’
“Brand new eight track EP of shadowy techno and Deckard's apartment nightside ambience from Paper Dollhouse, following the sold out in 24 hours Plutonic Rainbows cassette for her MoonDome imprint. Recorded in North London and acting as another quickfire prelude to the new, as yet untitled, Paper Dollhouse full length currently being produced with Asher Levitas of Old Apparatus/Planet Mu. Empty- Rave features eight tracks (with a hidden extra track on the tape) of mind-bending serotonin reduced rave trax stripped of the smiley facsimile and transported to the outer reaches of the city. The sounds divert between chewy synth (emerald)web's calling to mind the most frosty outer reaches of Legowelt and Hieroglyphic Being whilst continuing to tread down the tow path of more club focused sounds as found on the Chain Reaction style Sparrow. Inspired by a meeting with fellow Finders Keepers label mate Suzanne Ciani, Pudding Rain came to life while Empty Rave and Lumin carry the weight of the world across the end of the weekend blues, the falling dusk slowly swallowing whole the atmosphere of a post-daytime party laid bare.”
‘1929 - Das Jahr Babylon’ is Thomas Fehlmann’s soundtrack to a documentary about Berlin in 1929, a time when the effects of the Wall Street Crash and the Young Plan for WWI reparations begin to crumble the Weimar Republic, hastening the conditions for Naziism to flourish
Employing his signatures of dubwise repetition, crackle, and woozy polka rhythms, Kehlmann’s soundtrack mirrors the good times of the 1920’s Weimar Republic, but also connotes something darker, lurking, foreboding, with both subtlety and tact.
“To compliment the internationally lauded TV series "Berlin Babylon", German director Volker Heise has created a documentary about 1929, the fateful year during Germany's "Weimarer Republik" in which "Berlin Babylon" is settled. Heise's stirring documentary portrays Germany's sizzling capital that is faced with radical changes by the dark forces whom are about to toss the world into the abyss we know as World War II. This marks the second time that Fehlmann is partnering up with Volker Heise after 2010's marathon documentary "24 Stunden Berlin" which was released as "Gute Luft" (KOM211, KOMCD81) in the same year.
Fehlmann's composition for "1929" consists of sample material taken from the era and thwarts the exaggerated lust for life with threatening undertones that anticipate the dawn of mankind's darkest chapter so far. Although all the sounds breathe yesterday's atmosphere this soundtrack bursts with modernity. Fehlmann accomplished the daring feat to musically render the unsettling resemblance between the political situation 90 years ago and our current time.”
Next in The Boats’ vital vinyl reissue series, their 3rd album Tomorrow Time  finds Andrew Hargreaves and Craig Tattersall embracing a host of collaborators on a fuzzy, downbeat blend of ambient and indie-pop themes, wrapping fragile vocals from Elaine Reynolds and Chris Stewart (Need More Sources) to a patented framework of prepared piano, strings and elusive electronics in the wake of their instrumental duo session, We Made It For You . It's the first time it's ever been on vinyl...!
With the benefit of hindsight,Tomorrow Time takes on a curiously prescient nature; arriving a year prior to the biggest financial collapse for generations, at a time when the “authenticity” of folk music was fetishised by posh people as Wyrd Folk (or smth?) and the other main cultural points of reference were either retro-indie guitar bands, IDM or boisterous grime and dubstep.
However, The Boats’ combination of lower case pop with rustling electro and acoustic textures quietly stuck out like a sore toe, and when combined the aggressive title tracks points towards a quiet but growing dissatisfaction with perceived excess in music, culture, or at least the same old same old.
In that sense, the group’s roots in avant garde minimalism and myriad other non-commercial and pop styles really come thru on Tomorrow Time, but carefully distilled into an absorbing, subtly detailed sounds they can claim as their own, and quite unlike anything before or since - although many have tried to imitate it!
So, so happy to see this first ever vinyl edition of The Boats’ second album, We Made It For You, released in 2005 and vailable here as a super limited standalone release - or collected in a boxset with Songs By The Sea , Tomorrow Time  and Static Clings  - this necessary vinyl edition forms a typically tender and heart-warming follow-up to their much loved and influential debut.
On their second album Andrew and Craig coaxed out a purely instrumental suite, leaving Elaine to her own devices (she would return on Tomorrow Time) while they drifted off into the sweetest reveries knitting passages of frayed, breezy solo piano and electronics nodding to Harold Budd, William Basinski or The Caretaker with the kind of burbling, gently glitching rhythmic tributaries that you’d expect from Isan, SND or Jan Jelinek.
All the tracks inside are named after their mates (hope they still are!), and effectively forms a sort of sketchbook of meditations on each character or group, like the rugged, melancholy Miles, Sean and Bodie is definitely nodding to them Demdikes and their soundbwoy, and you’ll just have to imagine the rest.
Compared with other releases of that era, it’s dated remarkably well as a record and a sound, which is most likely due to their future-proofing patina of distressed crackle and the electro-acoustic sound sensitivity of their approach to the material, managing to convey a quiet, intimate beauty without ever overstating it.
OK this one’s really special: technically Static Clings is the last record by The Boats; presenting material from their tour-only Typewriter  CD and the Sleepy Insect Music  compilation on vinyl for the first time, along with a great haul of unreleased outtakes and even a megamix of The Boats by Modern Love’s Miles Whittaker (Demdike Stare) and Gaz Howell (G.H.) in their lesser spotted Pendle Coven guise.
It’s essentially all outtakes c. 2004-2006 from their early releases for Moteer plus the aforementioned rarities, clutching 13 cuts which have been left to mature over the last decade or so, and now provide a slightly more scattered but ever-enduring overview of Andrew Hargreaves (Tape Loop Orchestra, The Mistys) and Craig Tattersall’s (The Remote Viewer, Hood) cherished time together in this vessel.
We absolutely have to highlight the sublime History Of Tape Hisses for what sounds like Instrumentals-era Arthur Russell jamming with Jan Jelinek, and likewise Why You Wanna Do This, and Shlom, Sonia and Conor, cos, well, awwwwwww, but also the ghostly vignette Danny Norbury, dedicated to the cellist and another key member of their fold, and also for the salty kiss of their distorted hymn May Our Enemies Never Find Happiness (Version), the wobbly oddity of You Didn’t Expect Me To Care, and lastly the perfectly opaque pop of Pendle Coven’s remix, which uncannily recalls Uwe Schmidt’s Pop Artificielle output as LB.
Sad to say they might now have to decommission Craig’s crackle-box (actually an old B&H packet full of trapped woodlice, the evil b*stard) but it’s dead lovely to have this new slab of (old) material in our mitts and finally complete our full fleet of The Boats’ catalogue.
Ta ta! X
At bleedin’ last, The Boats’ gorgeous debut album Songs By The Sea  turns up on vinyl! Along with first-ever vinyl issues of We Made It For You  and Tomorrow Time , plus a very special side of unreleased, unheard outtakes, Static Clings  - which are all collected in the The Boats Archive boxset, you should snap these limited runs while you can as they're unlikely to appear on wax again.
Scrolling thru the mists of time to 2004, a very different world indeed, and The Boats formed as an outlet for Kraftwerk-addicted composer Andrew Hargreaves and his pal, Craig Tattersall, fresh from a decade spent with cult post-rock group Hood and as half of The Remote Viewer, to pursue the ideas of post-rock, modern classical and lo-fi electronica along more intimate, personalised ginnels of folk and ambient music, with the cherry on their home-baked treats provided by vocals from another close friend, Elaine Reynolds.
Songs By The Sea was their wistful and charmingly humble introduction to the world; ten tracks balancing exquisitely pop-wise songwriting with gently pulsing, elusive electronics and a patina of crackle that became a real signature of their sound long before everyone else cottoned on and starting putting out pale imitations.
At the time, it received heavy rotation in our record shop, Pelicanneck, and was something of a shared secret between fans from Manchester to Japan via their home-town of Burnley, and still owns a certain section of our memory banks to this day that’s often triggered by the smell of coffee, waffles and toasted rye bread in the morning just as much as smudged Hulme sunsets in summertime.
We don’t want to gush about it too much but, listening to it now, and on a format the album always quietly yearned for, it’s just chokingly nostalgic in its own, low-key and endearing style and leaves little doubt in our minds that Songs By The Sea is one of the finest ambient-pop records to emerge from this region.
After 10 years of releases, Synkro mints his eponymous label with ‘Luminous’, featuring two signature slices of Autonomic/Ambient D&B, backed with a killer Paradox remix
Produced at his studio in the Peak district, ‘Luminous’ is a fine example of Joe McBride a.k.a. Synkro’s heart-on-sleeve style, marrying ethereal synth voices with drizzly drums and sloshing Reese bass in the title cut, whilst ‘Weakness finds him vulnerably melodic i9n a way recalling BoC interludes or Bibio dream sequences.
Remixing ‘Luminous’ on the B-side, Paradox is on top form with freely fluid and sinuous drum programming underlining Synkro’s emotive synth arrangements with suspenseful, breathtaking impact.
‘God’s Chorus’ is a hauntingly beautiful recording of crickets, slowed down until they resemble a keening choir of angels. The hour-long piece was made for tape in the ‘90s and subsequently extended and posted to Soundcloud in 2012, where it’s currently received over 8.5 million plays.
Jonny Trunk stumbled across the piece in 2014 (when it already had millions of plays), and within days had signed it for a vinyl issue on Trunk. It’s taken until 2018 for the full release because Jonny initially couldn’t decide on artwork, but he’s evidently found the ideal cover here in 14 year old Bess Kirby’s super charming, felt-tip depiction of a kaleidoscopic cricket.
When Trunk discovered the track online, he was struck by the cynicism of the comments left below the line, with many expressing disbelief, or thinking that the work is a con or manufactured to sound like this. It’s maybe easy to hear why many may think so - it does sound like some holy missive despatched from the firmament - but as anyone with scant knowledge of nature recordings will be aware, deeply uncanny sounds do emerge from the natural world, once we’ve slowed it down enough to be able to perceive its complexities.
In fact, the LP pairs two recordings of crickets, layering the slowed down (but not manipulated) recording over the normal speed version. In context of their original home, a CD of Native American “animal lore”, it may be easy enough to suspend disbelief at what one’s hearing, and go along with it - as we are, thanks to a little knowledge of how sound works when slowed - but fair enough for any casual listeners to not believe their ears that crickets in a field can sound like an opiated, seraphic chorale.
Either way, Jonny sums it up neatly: “Real or fake? True or false? I care not, as it sure sounds like crickets to me, and it sure does sound amazing”
Gnarled Midwest acid techno badness from Heckadecimal on Philly’s faithfully noisy Great Circles
“2018 played host to a bumper crop of sounds from some of Philly’s grittiest, including Great Circles mainstays M//R and Chaperone. To close out the year that was, we are pleased to present Heckadecimal’s ‘Murder Tape.’
A Minneapolis-based producer and acid auteur, Heckadecimal has been a fixture within the vibrant Midwestern electronic music community for nearly 20 years. Founder of the legendary ‘Anti-human’ events and co-curator of the ever-prolific Always Human Tapes imprint – alongside Ryan Wurst and Peter Lansky – Heckadecimal’s reputation is one of unrelenting creativity and tireless advocacy for sonic experimentation. His work has found its way to light via a slew of pseudonyms and stage monikers, including The Worm, noface and Wonder Sirens.
In short – Heckadecimal lives and breathes the sonic matter that he leaves pouring out of studio monitors, busted bar systems and finely tuned rave stacks, wherever his travels take him.
Live performance lies at the core of Heckadecimal’s practice. When he stormed through Inciting HQ in Philly earlier this summer, he took command over an arsenal of hardware that reminded us of how Octave One or Shawn Rudiman might show up. These were machines that he had lived with; touched with custom modifications, hand-drawn stickers and pockmarks incurred in battle, one got the sense that the gear was a personal extension of the artist.
Perhaps it’s a bit maudlin, but we feel a certain kinship with this project. Indeed, these tracks at times feel very much of a piece with the gnarled tonalities in which our stable typically traffics; all low-slung riddims that reach at equal lengths towards mutated IDM aesthetics and post-Packard Plant techno extrusions. These are future perfect grooves that glide along under the vast Midwestern sky, providing a fertile communication conduit with the City of Brotherly Love.”
Bergsonist wraps up clanking mantras, knackered techno and acid industrial bogle in a heavy debut for Optimo
Leading from her albums, tapes and 12”s with Börft, Where To Now? and Clan Destine, the Brooklynite producer intuitively feels her way thru three slow and cranky dancefloor manoeuvres.
On ’Heat’ she works pendulous arps and playful percussive cadence into a swagger offset by an almost whispered vocal mantra “feel the heat/heat in the dark” and seeping acid lines. ‘Affiliation’ meanwhile feels like a Suburban Knight track on 33-not-45, again with a fine layer of gloomy, munted vox, and ‘Planetary Systems’ digs a murky rut of grubbing acid and Detroit-style night vision pads.
Sprawling selections of avant-synthpop, abstract bass music, hooligan rave and wild drum workouts from the likes of EVOL, N.M.O., Heith, Vaghe Stelle and Dave Saved on Turin’s Gang of Ducks label/asylum
There’s an unusually high quality and diversity to this compilation, giving up belting pieces such as N.M.O.’s frenetic drum, vocal and electronics exercise ‘Nonobstant Mais Oblique’ in the same space as Aniello Maffettone’s dissonant drone-pop pearl ‘Vco 2’, plus splatter core techno form Dave Saved, captivating modular madness from Omar Chapati, and Sense Fracture’s thunderous future hardcore torque.
Juan Atkins’ deep and moody ‘Skynet’  LP as Infiniti resurfaces for its 20th anniversary reissue on Tresor
Alongside his part in the 3MB album and on Model 500’s ‘Deep Space’, Juan’s work on ’Skynet’ ranks among his 3 crucial LPs of that decade. But where 3MB was very much a joint effort, and Model 500 rolled far out into jazzier, cosmic breaks, ’Skynet’ trades in pure techno and house in Juan’s patented style.
The results make for a slickly coherent album as well as a strong batch for the DJs, stretching out from the supple swang and floating voices of its title track, to the dub techno lave of ‘Walking On water’, a slinky percy named ‘Thought Process’, the deep techno-pop of ‘Postcard From The Future’, and the wicked, experimental arrangement of ‘Body Oil’.
Spectral songwriter Ekin Fil lends her musical voice to Preservation’s expansive catalogue of drone dreamers
‘Windblown’ is a single, 20 minute work of airy greyscale detachment perfused with a sylvan play of dying light that’s become one strong half of Ekin Fil’s signature sound, while the other half, her gauzy vocals, are detectable throughout the piece, albeit heavily smudged and glossolalic until the closing strokes, when the mist clears to reveal a wordless solo piano hymn.
Dark, inch-tight electro cuts describing objects in motion, from a pair of Sydney-based droids
With night-vision synth pads and distorted 808s, ‘Abstract Model’ gets the EP into gear, before it really take off with the rapid pulses of ‘Kinematics’ - an excellent word relating to “the motion of objects without reference to the forces which caused the motion.”
On the flip they switch gear again for the tuffer industrial torque of ‘Extraction’, and a properly Detroit-skooled electro-funk ace in ‘VR Escort’.
Giant Claw, Forest Drive West, Roly Porter and Object Blue remix mmph’s intricate ‘Serenade’ EP for Tri Angle
Columbus, OH collagist Keith Rankin a.k.a. Giant Claw whisks the title cut into a rapidly strobing drama verging on Venetian Snares-levels of programming intensity; London’s Forest Drive West tempers ‘Minuet’ into a spiralling peaks anchored in rolling techno bass; Roly Porter reworks ’Tragedy’ as a cataclysmic, cinematic epic; and hotly tipped newcomer Object Blue exerts a killer slow/fast spin on ‘Woodlawn’ in her “biochemical” remix.
London’s LMajor kicks it hardcore with loud, punchy brukstep drums and bass for WNCL
Also known as half of Local Group, LMajor’s 2nd solo 12” comes with a barrage of tightly coiled breaks and subbass hydrolixx in ‘The Power’, next to a Boxwork remix running at 2/3rds the speed and twice the swagger.
‘Engineer’ follows in fine style with a shot of booming ’91-style rufige, remixed as a rolling breakbeat garage ting by WNCL’s Bob Bhamra.
RIYL HATE, Overmono, Demdike Stare Testpressings
Batu’s Timedance gang up a first label showcase placing established artists such as Bruce, Ploy and rRoxymore alongside new names; Rae, Neinzer, Nico , Clerya.
It’s a full spectrum ting, taking in weightless tonal experiments with Bruce’s Let’s Make The Most Of Our Time Here, and gaseous ambient dimensions from Ploy, while newcomers make their presence subtly felt in the likes of Cleyra’s superb broken beat percolations and a grubbing Afro-dub winner from Nico called Soft Opening, with Simo Cell tending to more rugged ends on the gritty dancehall wine Consider The Internet, and Via Maris keening into a sort of Radiophonic techno on Side Effects.
Strong showing from some of the UK’s most crucial bass music innovators.
Luke Slater rifles his archive of 7th Plain riches for a 2nd ambient-techno survey with Ostgut-Ton’s A-Ton sibling
Scanning a golden seam of mid ‘90s material, ‘Chronicles II’ parses cuts from Slater’s classic album ‘The 4 Cornered Room’ beside a handful of other gems off his General Production Recordings (GPR) label, and no fewer than four previously unreleased pieces.
Still phosphorescing from the rave explosion, Luke Slater was one of the key UK players to channel that energy into new forms, transmuting the initial impetus from Detroit, Chicago, Berlin and British fields into his own form of tactile, psychedelically sensitive ambient techno.
From ‘The 4 Cornered Room’ we find the soaring night flight of ‘Astra Naut-E’, and off the ’Shades Amaze Concept EP’ there’s the spangled beauty ‘Big Field’, while his 1993 EP ‘To Be Surreal’ supplies the floating suspension system of its title track and the UR-styled funk bent of ‘Convex’.
The others four cuts are exclusive to this 12” and made during the same era. They include the warm Martian winds of ‘Wand Star’; a lush kosmiche mission titled ’Silver Chinook’; and the unmissable ambient portal of ‘I Think Too Much’, which is bound to light up old raver’s pleasure centres like a vintage mitsi flashback.