Frighteningly dense and gripping live performance of compositions by Swiss sound-artist Antoine Chessex from UK-based avant-garde/contemporary music ensemble Apartment House (wind, strings), and pivotal French sound artist Jérõme Noetinger (reel-to-reel tape) at two shows in London’s Cafe Oto between 2014 and 2015.
Mastered by Giuseppe Ielasi.
Cranky, convulsive, jarring collaboration between Fred Lonberg-Holm (cello, electronics) and Adam Golebiewski (drums, cymbals, objects).
Recorded by Bartek Olszewski, 12th-13th May 2013, MDK Dragon, Poznan.
The Border Community mainstay experiences a creative rebirth on a Prurient-featuring fourth album.
‘Providence’ finds Anglia’s pre-eminent exponent of kaleidoscopic techno and pastoral ambient return to the album format after a fallow few years for Fake fans with only the odd 12” for sustenance. The reasons for this? Fake dealing with a prolonged bout of creative block. Clearly that’s behind him as ‘Providence’ finds the UK producer in fine fettle on a first album outside the Border Community coop, landing as a Spring highlight in what is presumably a packed 2017 LP schedule for the Ninja Tune empire.
Named not in honour of the Rhode Island creative hub but rather the Korg Prophecy synth used throughout and the therapeutic energies of music, ‘Providence’ has plenty of punchy, kaleidoscopic Fake-outs to please his fan base. Not least the frenetic, furious synth work and clomping drums of the title track, but it’s not all Sunny-D dappled spiralling Anglian techno.
The undulating dub techno of Fake’s DEGREELESSNESS collaboration features after being issued as a single last year, whilst the luminescent squiggles of The Equator & I and the loose, squalid electro funk SmallCityLights further broaden the scope of ‘Providence.’
Hills 3rd album with Rocket Recordings.
"Hot off the Swedish Psychedelia revival of the past few years and after their hailed 2015 album ‘Frid’, Hills connect the dots to their countries rich and intoxicating past with a handful of new sepia-toned tunes. Like their predecessors unholy trinity of Pärson Sound, International Harvester and Träd Gräs och Stenar, Hills penchant to stretch out beyond, performing what feels like openly casual exhortations into intricate eastern tones and primal hypnotic rhythms, the band illustrates that their sermons offer rational derangements of all the senses.
These four tracks sit deeply buried in oblivion, bones, skin, sweat, grooved with fearless intensity with no diminution of the interplay, spontaneity and feeling onstage, the band are entombed in mantric repetition while the vapour trail of The Byrds ‘Untitled’ epic; ‘Eight Miles High’ descend into an Elysian Field, where the dead enjoy happy tranquility, until they come to life and rise up again.
Alive in Roadburn summons the spirits of Swedish Midsummer celebration, the welcoming of the light of the longest day, as a people who have endured the long dark winter, their celebration of light, steeped in pagan roots are absorbed into the bands psyche and these tracks sit like Cairns on the Swedish landscape, built as monuments to Hills. The Hills are very much Alive and Burning."
If you're new to Throbbing Gristle then, well, shame on you; but don't worry, all's not lost, you can get up to speed with the help of the band's Greatest Hits, newly remastered.
First released by Rough Trade in 1980 with the apt subtitle Entertainment Through Pain, it's an unbeatable summary of crucial material from Gen, Chris, Cosey and Sleazy's first three albums (Second Annual Report, DoA: The Third and Final Report and 20 Jazz Funk Greats), taking in the robo-fetish disco of 'Hot On The Heels of Love', the piss-streaked paranoia of 'Subhuman', the deadpan synth-pop pretensions of 'United' and more.
Once you've heard any of this stuff, you'll want to explore each album properly, but for now, if you ever wondered why TG are so deeply revered but were too afraid to ask, this'll tell you what you need to know. Punk might have done away with the past, but it was Throbbing Gristle that created the future.
Live performance brought out Throbbing Gristle's talents for improvisation and provocation, and it's no coincidence that most of their classic albums contain sizeable extracts and edits of their shows; the live arena - be it grotty club, gallery space, concert hall or even the band's own rehearsal space - is where the action and the innovation really happened.
The bulk of Heathen Earth documents one particular performance which took place in 1980 on "Saturday the 16th February between 8:10pm and 9.00pm"; the tracklist is filled out with two recordings from two separate performances in '78. It's a hugely enjoyable listen, arguably capturing better than any of the "studio" albums the tension between free-wheeling abstraction and structural discipline which defines the group. It's also probably the most obviously electronic TG album of its time, Gen's guitar and Cosey's cornet duelling with Carter and Sleazy's clipped, clammy minimal synth constructions: 'The Old Man Smiled', 'Something Came Over Me', 'Don't Do As Your Told, Do As You Think' and 'The World Is A War Film' are all breathtakingly, pulsatingly ahead of their time.
'Still Walking', first heard on 20 Jazz Funk Greats, sounds even more surreal and seductive in its live incarnation, Cosey's dour East Yorkshire vowels echoed to infinity, before P.Orridge presents a vision of paranoia and self-loathing purified in 'Sub Human' and 'Adrenalin' brings things to an oddly ecstatic, hi-NRG close, Carter fully indulging his arpeggiated Euro-disco inclinations.
Shed comes up strong on his 4th album of melancholy/ecstatic atmospheres and expert groove control on The Final Experiment for Modeselektor’s Monkeytown.
We’re not sure if he’s doing a Wiley by insinuating that this is indeed his final experiment, or whether it’s a sort of swansong for a sound that has run its conceptual course, but either way his 4th album is a classic-sounding suite of matured, mutable hardcore and AI techno themes.
Between the breathy reverie of Xtra at the prow to the ambient fluffiness of System Azac at stern, he favours a palette of looser breaks, smudged techno patterns and diaphanous, drifting harmonies that don’t so much demand from the listener as cajole a wistful sense of nostalgia.
In that respect, there are some nice soft rave moments in the Link-esque tone float of Extreme SAT, and the buoyant breaks of Er1761, and the nimbly whisked breaks of Flaf2.
Back in 2010 we said....
Ask us about Shangaan Electro a week ago and we'd ask you to speak slower. Ask us this week and we'll rave about one of the most astounding records we've heard this year.
The erstwhile and intrepid ears of Honest Jon's Mark Ainley and Hardwax/Basic Channel legend Mark Ernestus have been following this niche style from Soweto, SA, for a hot minute, long enough anyway to pick out twelve extraordinary examples of 180bpm, marimba-laden, afro-dance diamonds hewn from rickety drum machines and keyboards shaped into dazzling fillips of pure dance energy. We almost couldn't believe our ears on first listen, or the tenth. It was perhaps only when we witnessed the accompanying videos on youtube that it started to settle into place, watching liquid hipped Shangaan dancers scuttle and stomp like folk possessed by something untold but completely comprehendible.
It's not a large punt to draw distinctions between this and Chicago footwurk or Caribbean Soca styles, from the high tempo velocity to use of basic equipment all deployed with the intention of eliciting faster and more furious dance moves from the participants. Essentially this is a continuation of traditional styles, only plugged in at the studio of Nozinja Music Productions to become utterly electrified and electrifying. But these aren't simply instrumental rhythms, they're also songs with passionate, soul wrenching vocals and head-rushingly sweet synth melodies. Four exemplary contributions from the scene's lynchpin Zinja Hlungwani are worth the entry price alone; from the gripping hypertension of 'Ntombi Ya Mugaza' to the warbling duet of synthesized and human soul in 'Nwa Gezani My Love', or the alien harmonics of 'Nwa Gezani', you're paying to experience a mesmerizing sound that you simply can't hear anywhere outside of Limpopo or low-res youtube clips.
Nozinja is responsible for the breakneck speed of Shangaan Electro, responding to public demand for faster rhythms since opening his studio in 2005, even creating "boy bands" like the boiler-suited and clown mask-wearing Tshetsha Boys and producing for the rest of the artists included here. To be fair, this music is still a totally niche prospect, but initial reactions from friends we would never expect to like it have been as immediate as the music itself and there's no denying this will be one of the years most lauded albums among adventurous listeners.
This is genuinely some of the most exciting music you'll hear this year, and alongside the Footwork/Juke craze currently taking hold, you'll have heard little like it before.
In 1978 Japan released their debut album Adolescent Sex and kick started a career that would span decades. With Steve Jansen on drums the band enjoyed huge success whilst simultaneously creating a back catalogue of music that still inspires today.
"Fast forward to 2007 and after many years working and collaborating with artists such as Richard Barbieri, Yukihiro Takahashi, Ryuichi Sakamoto & Bernd Friedmann, Steve released his debut, solo album Slope. Steve Jansen’s second solo album ‘Tender Extinction’ was an evocative blend of songs and instrumentals enlisting some of the singer/songwriters that appeared on Jansen’s previous solo work ‘Slope’.
“The Extinct Suite” is a reinterpretation of the more ambient and orchestral elements of this last album ‘Tender Extinction’. Not a remix by any means, some familiar passages are woven together with additional pieces to create a suite of instrumentals lasting over 55 minutes as one single track."
You know the drill: Honest Jon's have released a series of 12"s featuring remixes of the artists who featured on 2010's Shangaan Electro compilation, a close-knit circle of South African performers orbiting producer/svengali Nozinja.
The high-speeed, Shangaan sound of Nozinja Studio is, thanks to HJ's, now an internationally recognised sound, and the calibre of remixers the label enlisted reflects that. This compilation brings together all these superlative versions, from DJ Rashad & DJ Spinn, Actress, MMM, Demdike Stare, Ricardo Villalobos & Max Loderbauer, Mark Ernestus, Hype Williams, RP Boo, Burnt Friedman, Anthony 'Shake' Shakir', Old Apparatus, Theo Parrish, Peverelist and Oni Ayhun.
After years of flirting with her, Kanding Ray properly commits to the dance floor on Hyper Opal Mantis for his ardent support group at Stroboscopic Artefacts.
Proceeding his split 12” with Rrose, and a slew of well-received albums for Raster-Noton, his 6th LP is destined for clubs, but still nuanced and sculpted enough for gloomy bedrooms and immersive headphone commutes alike.
Operating shades away from recent albums by Ø [Phase] and Sigha, Hyper Opal Mantis gives David Lettelier a.k.a. Kangding Ray room to show off his concrète sound design skills in abstract, yet rolling and heavily functional frameworks, with particular highlights to be discovered in the album’s scudding subaquatic probe, Rubi, as well as the throaty resonance and tight bass hits of Epsilon or the diffracted swang of Onde Mantis.
There was clearly no shortage of hands in the air when Loren Connors and co put out the call to work on The Hired Hands: A Tribute To Bruce Langhorne, which sports no fewer than 32 pieces inspired by the prolific guitarist’s soundtrack work.
“Compiled by - Dylan Golden Aycock, Loren Connors, Suzanne Langille
We would like to pay homage to one of the greatest and most infamous guitarists alive, Bruce Langhorne. His music has influenced and touched a lot of lives over the years, either through his soundtrack work with Peter Fonda or his studio work in the 1960’s as the go to hired hand for musicians such as Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Richie Havens, Odetta... and many others. If his name is new to you I suggest browsing his wikipedia page to acquaint yourself with the volume of work he accomplished throughout the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. Scissor Tail Editions was lucky enough to release Bruce’s score to Peter Fonda’s 1971 anti-western “The Hired Hand”on vinyl in 2012.
The goal here was to ask artists to cover or reinterpret a song of their choice from the soundtrack. No rules on whether the music should be derivative of a certain song, if the soundtrack inspires a mood, then the artists use their intuition.
Bruce has come on hard times in recent years, having suffered a stroke that prevents him from playing the guitar. He’s currently in hospice care awaiting his final curtain call. A large percentage of profit go to Bruce and his family.”
Shimmering electro-acoustic/new age explorations by an original pioneer of the sound, Marc Barreca (Savant, Young Scientist)
“Marc Barreca’s seventh solo album for Palace of Lights extends his work with a broader and deeper palette of synthesized and sampled sound, including sources as diverse as prepared guitars, pianos, Indonesian metallophones and glass harmonica. The music of Aberrant Lens employs long MIDI delays, synced MIDI processing via MAX for Live and extreme warping of disparate looped sound sources driven into entirely new states.
The results are new, coherent aural structures: music that questions traditional definitions of ambient and electronic forms. And, to the educated ear, within this search for innovation and experimentation Aberrant Lens reveals many of Barreca’s earliest influences. Even when integrated in thoroughly non-retro compositions, the hints of homage to Cluster and the first Fripp & Eno releases inhabit these twelve new settings.
Marc Barreca has been creating and performing electronic music since the mid-1970s. His 1980 album, Twilight, was one of the earliest releases on Palace of Lights. His cassette-era album Music Works for Industry is being reissued by the RVNG spin-off Freedom To Spend, and his early cassette work is included in the upcoming VOD box set American Cassette Culture, which also features Marc’s early electronic music group Young Scientist. His work is included in the collection of The British Library.”
Eyeless In Gaza’s first four albums, along with a band compiled set of non-album essentials and oddities...
"Originally signed to Cherry Red in 1981, Eyeless in Gaza moved very quickly through four albums of skewed free-pop explorations to become the intriguing, uncomfortable cousin of the brash new wave sound finding its way into the mainstream at the time.
Picture a place where scratchy guitars, synthesizers, primitive rhythms, found sounds, technical experimentation and neo-noise come together to provide a bed for the poetic, exploratory lyrics of Martyn Bates. Oblique, anxious, difficult in places and beautifully detached, their sound captured perfectly the beauty to be found if one cared to rummage through the rubble of a Britain in the midst of industrial collapse."
Enchanting meeting between acclaimed Trio Mediaeval - Anna Maria Friman (voice, hardangar fiddle), Linn Andrea Fuglseth (voice, shruti box), Berit Opheim (voice) - and virtuoso trumpeter, multi-instrumentalist Arve Henriksen, based on the mutual Viking folk roots of Norway and Iceland.
“Over several summers Trio Mediaeval and trumpeter Arve Henriksen spent many days together by the beautiful Dalsfjorden on the Norwegian west coast, and it was there that most of the music for this recording was born. Fascinated and inspired by Icelandic sagas, beautiful chants, folk songs, religious hymns and fiddle tunes, the quartet has arranged a unique set of songs where improvisation, mediaeval and traditional music from Iceland, Norway and Sweden meet the present.
Henriksen has often performed with Trio Mediaeval in live settings – and the singers and trumpeter appear on Sinikka Langeland’s recent record The Magical Forest – but Rímur is their first extensive collaboration on disc. Rímur was recorded in February 2016 at Munich’s Himmelfahrtskirche, and produced by Manfred Eicher.”
Expanded 2017 edition Reissue of this long-out-of-print collection of killer reggae versions of original funk and soul classics in a disco style, now including five extra tracks.
"Reggae disco updates of seminal classics by Anita Ward (‘Ring My Bell’), Chaka Khan (‘I’m Every Woman’), Michael Jackson (‘Don’t Stop ‘til You Get Enough’), Sugarhill Gang (‘Rappers Delight’, here performed by Derrick Laro and Trinity for producer Joe Gibbs) and more, all showing the hidden but inseparable link between the dance floors of New York, Kingston and London.
New bonus tracks to this collection include Derrick Harriott’s funky take on Eddie Drennon’s ‘Do It Nice & Easy’, the classic disco reggae of Risco Connection’s take on McFadden and Whitehead’s ‘Ain’t No Stopping Us Now’ and the London rare groove lovers rock take on Barbara Acklin’s soul classic ‘Am I The Same Girl’."
Jeff McIlwain re-emerges from his production slumber to deliver more aural candy for the Ghostly family on this new Lusine album.
Further settling into his latter-day groove as a producer of well-polished pop-tinged electronics, the Lusine of nearly 20 years ago has not disappeared altogether, the mechanics of his early IDM, ambient and downtempo productions still drive the creative process on ‘Sensorimotor’.
There is a more introspective yearn to this album however, a sensation most apparent in the numerous vocal contributions from Jeff and his wife, Sarah McIlwain, along with Vilja Larjosto and Benoît Pioulard. The latter’s manipulated vocals feature on the sub-Burial, hushed flutter of Witness which is destined to get synced by the CSI franchise sometime soon.
"We first spotted Noumen in 2012 and alongside Cygnus was one of the first to be asked to join CPU. Over 4 years later he finally delivers an EP and LP that are a true labour of love. Abstract electronics of the highest order. It's IDM, but with that essential hip hop influence making it immeasurably more addictive and pleasing. With plenty of melody and swing layered over intricate rhythm programming, it leaves listeners stunned."
“‘English Tapas’ was recorded at Steve Mackey’s (Pulp) West Heath Garage studios in London.Jason Williamson discusses ‘English Tapas’: "Andrew walked into some random pub and saw "English Tapas" scrawled on the menu board. Underneath this beautiful coupling of words were it's components, half a scotch egg, cup of chips, pickle and a mini pork pie" It says everything about this fucking place. It's comedy, it’s make do, it's ignorant and above all, it's shit"
‘Everything Is Forgotten’, the new album from Methyl Ethel (Perth, Australia), is a vivid, compelling and mysterious creature, all sinewy, curvaceous pop nuggets and enigmatic currents.
"Written and recorded by frontman Jake Webb, the album was brought to life by acclaimed producer James Ford (Arctic Monkeys, Foals), the pair’s collaboration infusing the band’s shoegaze dream-pop palate with electronic and polyrhythmic flourishes allowing Webb’s keening, gender-fluid vocals and searing poetry to take centre stage..."
Denmarks’ Paxton Fettel follows Greta Cottage Workshop’s first vinyl LP release, Everything Stays The Same, with the imaginative leap of Nothing Stays The Same; pushing farther into deep house zones with “tasteful” wobbly dubstep bits, streaks of ‘80s jazz-funk and a dollop of disco...
Benjamin John Power explores the inner beast in us all through the typically brash sound design of this Blanck Mass album.
Forever to be known as half of a duo who just don’t f*cking like buttons, Benjamin John Power’s solo body of work as Blanck Mass has continued to gain tractions since his first album back in 2011.
‘World Eater’ continues the Blanck Mass dalliance with Brooklyn outpost Sacred Bones and offers up a screwballed exposition investigating the primal urges of humanity with everything naturally dialled up well past 11. Given the conceptual thrust, it’s no surprise there is a sonic brutality to much of ‘World Eater,’ apparent in the sucker punch that hits you from the first two tracks.
An intricate mesh of clockwork toy melodies and vocal harmonies on John Doe's Carnival of Error proves a falsely sweet opener as it gets consumed by the swirling, violent maelstrom of operatic techno gabber that follows on Rhesus Negative.
Respite comes in the form of Please, which sees Power veering off into sample-heavy MPC beat down reminiscent of early Gold Panda, but he’s soon back into head crunching territory with the 23rd Century glam rock flaunt of The Rat. This very British style of modern sound design applied to electronic music continues as uber-processed vocals crash over vertebrae snapping beats on Silent Treatment, whilst Minnesota / Eas Fors / Naked discards with rhythm to engage in a rainstorm of kinetic energy and searing synth work.
Bleak, acrid chamber noise electronics from Paris-based Mondkopf, resonating strongly with the reverberant recordings of Alessandro Cortini or Joachim Nordwall, but better compared with the former for its swelling, emotive grip.
Exquisite eldritch spooking from Children Of Alice, the trio of Broadcast’s James Cargill and Roj Stevens joined by Julian House, who collaborated with Broadcast on the final album in his guise as The Focus Group. The trio are titled in tribute to Trish Keenan (R.I.P.), the Broadcast co-founder and Cargill’s partner, who named Jonathan Miller’s ‘60s film adaptation of Alice In Wonderland among the band’s main inspirations.
Now conscripted to Broadcast’s erstwhile label, Warp Records, Children of Alice offers a necessary recap of their adventures to date with three pieces previously issued on Folklore Tapes, plus one previously unheard part called The Liminal Space.
The 19 minute invocation, The Harbinger Of Spring was originally their debut side from a split with Mary Arches in 2013. It drowsily sets the rabbit-holing tone for the rest of the record with a glistening miasma of warbling ephemera and beautifully elusive harmonies to put you in the lushest spin.
Rite of the Maypole appeared on Folklore Tapes’ Merry May compilation in 2015 and sounds like a light-headed fever dream rendered in smudged ’60s pastels, at times uncannily recalling parts of Mark Leckey’s Dream English Kid soundtrack, before Invocation of a Midsummer Reverie (from Crown of Light (Midsummer Traditions & Folklore) reaps some real magic from mercurial flurries of tabla, droning ’tronics and suggestively febrile moans.
The one part exclusive to this release, The Liminal Space, is a big highlight of the set, where Radiophonic rustle, avant-jazz gestures and wilting keys share a lysergic, drily dubbed headspace.
What a beauty!?
‘Book Of Changes’, the new album by Guy Blakeslee as Entrance, is a poetic song cycle about the seasons of the heart, tracing an emotional journey through longing and emptiness to peace and redemption.
The adventurously produced collection of songs is reminiscent of Townes Van Zandt’s ruminative lyricism and the gypsy flavoured orchestral explorations of Arthur Lee and Love, uniquely channelled through Blakeslee’s21st Century approach to the spiritual dimensions of American songwriting in a way that gives an old form new power.
‘Book Of Changes’ follows the release of the ‘Promises’ EP which was supported with a series of live performances including opening for Beach House, Explosions In The Sky and Scott Fagan.
Mixed by David Vandervelde (Father John Misty, Jay Bennett) and Chris Coady (Future Islands, Cass McCombs) with mastering by Grammy nominated engineer Sarah Register (David Bowie, The Shins). ‘Book Of Changes’ features Blakeslee joined by longtime collaborator Paz Lenchantin (Pixies, Silver Jews) and percussionist Frank Lenz (Pedro The Lion, The Weepies)."
Pinch & Sherwood emerge from last years’s Late Night Endless with a 2nd shock of tunes, Man vs Sofa, pitching their unparalleled studio nous on 11 cuts of cranky atmosphere and spliff-bending bass pressure.
Man vs Sofa sees Sherwood’s original, wide-open On-U Sound aesthetic updated thru Pinch’s up-to-the minute production palette and accompanied by a roll call including Lee Scratch Perry, Martin Duffy (Primal Scream), Taz (Def Jam), and Skip McDonald (The Sugarhill Gang, Tackhead, Little Axe) for extra vibes.
Under the ambiguous title Man vs Sofa - are they encouraging you to get off your arse, or trying to put you on it? - the duo serve up some of their most diverse, textured and fractious arrangements, all trustingly helmed in massive, physical basslines; stepping from anxious dread feels in Roll Call to a noisy, murderous version of Pinch’s Retribution via a sweetboy cover of Ryuichi Nakamoto’s Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence and a typically mystic turn from Lee Perry on Lies.
Heavy UK dub in effect.
Preeminent sound artist Florian Hecker investigates the uncanny valley of perception between man/machine in the experimental auditory drama A Script For Machine Synthesis, featuring main vocals by Charlotte Rampling, and completing his trilogy of collaborations with philosopher Reza Negarestani after Chimärisation (2012), and Articulação (2014).
Aesthetically, A Script For Machine Synthesis delivers all the pervasive electronic sensation and perversion you’d hope for from a Hecker recording; most notably including passages of clammy subbass which we’ve hardly haven’t heard in his palette since IT ISO161975 (1998), strangely enough applied to the perfectly plummy tones of polyglot actress and chanteuse Charlotte Rampling, oscillating between untreated recital and a deeply unsettling synthetic voice designed by Rob Clark and the Centre for Speech Research Technology, University of Edinburgh.
Unfortunately the digital files don’t include the perfume designed for the original installation of A Script For Machine Synthesis, but we can safely say that the piece’s potential for synaesthetic appeal in rarely paralleled.
It’s another real headful, highly recommended to listeners looking for life affirming/probing sonic sensations.
**From the label**
“The latest work from Florian Hecker A Script for Machine Synthesis is an experimental auditory drama and a model of abstraction. A Script for Machine Synthesis presents a complex simplicity that spirals in an unending manner as an audio image of the uncanny valley. It is the third chapter in the trilogy of text-sound pieces Hecker has collaborated with the philosopher Reza Negarestani. A resynthesized voice outlines procedure as procedure itself unfolds.
The suggestive encounter with a pink ice cube is a conceptual point of departure for a scene in which linguistic chimeras of descriptors are materialized through synthetic trophies, mental props and auditory objects.
Hecker presents a synthesis of the gap in the valley which we almost know. The motifs Hecker has staged in the last decade, the text, the sound, the scent, the obelisk, the demon, the self, the other all appear throughout in a thorough, rigid and formal exploration.
Exeunt all human actors, A Script for Machine Synthesis is an experiment in putting synthetic emptiness back into synthetic thought.”
Hervè Atsè Corti reaffirms his commitment to the Planet Mu cause on a fifth album.
The addition of Herva to the Planet Mu roster back in their 20th anniversary year was a welcome surprise and it’s great to see how the Florence producer has developed since then. The cannily-titled Hyper Flux follows Herva’s under-rated Mu debut, Kila, and reaffirms his natural talent for fractured, chaotic yet sharply realised electronic music that is far too devilish for the genre police.
Forever a producer willing to rip up the script in the name of creativity, Hyper Flux finds Herva grappling with incorporating live instruments into his array of recording methods. In truth, this just furthers the potential for sonic disarray which Herva explores with abandon across twelve tracks that investigate guzzling braindance, naughty boogie, broken house, slanted footwork, frayed ambient and more.
More than ever before for a collection of Herva cuts, these thrillingly unpredictable deviations within the course of the album leave you with a slab of music that really reveals it’s true beauty with time. Hyper Flux feels like Herva confidently brushing off the artistic comparisons people have previously made, edging ever closer to a style and sound that can only really be classified as his own.
Incredible, previously unreleased early 1980's Algerian synth electronic by Ahmed Malek, compiled by Flako.
Remarkable discovery of late ‘70s/early ’80s avant ambient electronics from Arabic North Africa; originally conceived as demos or private studies by Ahmed Malek (1931-2008) - “Algeria’s answer to Ennio Morricone” - and now faithfully edited and buffed up for release by Flako. Imagine Dariush Dolat-Shahi turned into jazzy concrète mosaics by NWW and you’ve almost got a grasp of this record’s slippery wonder.
The Electronic Tapes follows Habibi Funk’s prized vinyl reissue of Malek’s Musique Originale De Films  with an unprecedented peek inside the boxes of Malek’s master tapes that were recently discovered by his family in Algiers during the soundtrack reissue process. As the tapes were effectively unfinished demos and the artist isn’t around to consult anymore, electronic producer Flako has capably stepped in to polish them off, adding only subtle flourishes of era-compatible Roland SH-2000 and Korg MS20 to sympathetically bring Malek’s electro-acoustic tapestries to life, and in a way that we can only imagine he would be pleased with.
Ostensibly sounding like some home-made new age excursion from late ‘70s Europe or North America, it’s the recurring presence of authentically Arabic scales and percussive patterns which identify this set beyond some obscure cosmic library LP from Italy or France, and closer to the rare experiments with jazz and electronics - such as Dariush Dolat-Shahi, Salah Ragab, or Ilhan Mimaroglu - from Arabic North Africa and the Middle East that we’re familiar with.
But even still, Flako’s post-processed results form a strange anachronism unto itself, skilfully weaving his improvisations on the original material in an innovative and subtle way that makes it tricky, and perhaps pointless, to distinguish between the dates of recording or who did what. Maybe it’s best left to Flako to sum the project up as: “ It’s Ahmed’s music… If anything, I feel like a member of his band, you know? I’m a part of this. That’s roughly how I see it.”
Stretched across space and time and fleshed out with imagination, the 17 tracks are just crammed with charmingly wild and kinetic ideas, setting out with a squinted synth vision recalling The Godfather theme sent into orbit, before constantly mutating thru cinematic strokes to insectoid jazz scuttle, romantic downbeats, haywire astral synth jabs and whirligig dances by the album’s close, with each allowing X amount of room for the original piece’s experimental nature and fractious arrangements.
Basically it’s not a straight-up reissue, nor is it an new recording; it’s something else and brilliant with it.
‘Hopes Of Failure’ is the unrelenting, mammoth-riffed Thrill Jockey debut from crushing doom trio Aseethe.
"Aseethe’s unrelenting slow doom is often compared to drone music because of its core repetitions. This distinctly non-metal approach combined with harsh vocals and unusual samples gives Aseethe a unique voice among metal’s boundary pushers.
On ‘Hopes Of Failure’ the Iowa band’s primary influences of doom and drone share a similar ethos but rarely do they converge with as much restraint and patience, drawing on inventive sound sources and distorted, just enough, to add some sludge. Aseethe is the direction that heavy music is moving in.
Since the band’s inception, Aseethe has been dedicated to pushing the boundaries of what it means to be a heavy band. Their pummelling and extended pieces are as enveloping as a drive through the Iowa cornfields of their home. Their drone influence and the dark lenses through which they view the world are a confluence of ingredients that are at once deliberate, devastating and exhilarating.
Recently Aseethe have toured with the likes of Hell, Fister and UN. Aseethe, while up to now a secret to the larger music world, have long been a favourite of inventive heavy artists. They have played regionally with Yob, Converge, The Body, SUMAC, Thou, Horseback and Inter Arma, to
name a few."
Fade To Mind boss lad and Kelea producer, Kingdom, comes up strong with a debut album of signature, moody R&B bangers featuring guest vox by Syd The Internet, Najee Daniels, and Top Dawg Ents’ SZA on six of its eleven cuts.
Prefaced by lead single, Nothin feat. Syd, which appears here in its lush original and bouncing club mixes, Tears In The Club works like a proper album rather than mixtape or a clutch of singles. It mostly operates at a sultry pace, warming up with the future soul glow of What Is Love, the warped club bump of Each & Every Day, and if we’re not mistaken, a snippet of Dawn Richard tweaked into the slow-mo R&B trance of Nurtureworld.
Shaker provides the only male vocal on the record, tucked into the tri-step tics of Breathless, whilst the title track gives up its heaviest club pressure, but our favourites come at the other end, with the weightless instrumental dip of Timex.
The production is diaphanous yet detailed, matched by economical but opulent arrangements and song-writing that future-proof Tears In The Club for time to come.
Featuring members of Tortoise, Eleventh Dream Day, Steve Gunn Band and Tweedy
“A sense of place has been essential to the music of Brokeback since guitarist/bassist Douglas McCombs first launched the project in 1995. Initially conceived as a solo outlet, the Chicago group has taken on new dimensions over the past two decades, morphing from the lean, pastoral ambience of the first album, Field Recordings from the Cook County Water Table, to the more muscular, taut arrangements and dynamic swells of the last release, Brokeback and the Black Rock, for which McCombs assembled a new quartet lineup. Each album develops with exacting detail, revealing McCombs’s gift for dialling in the essence of a mood, feeling, or distant locale with a handful of reverb-laden guitar tones, elegant and sustained, strategically placed and sparingly deployed. The instrumental landscapes he creates on Illinois River Valley Blues are utterly transportive, evoking familiar open-frontier soundtracks and charting out new sonic territory.
Several songs feature lush, multi-layered vocals by Amalea Tshilds (the Paulina Hollers), who made a deep impression on McCombs with a spellbinding a cappella performance a couple years ago. “I often imagine female vocals on Brokeback records, but I wanted it to be someone that I have personal history with, someone who can nail it, not to mention someone who I know digs the music,” he says. “That's why Mary Hansen sang on all those earlier records and why I wanted Lea for this.”
McCombs’s singular approach to guitar and bass, characteristic of his work with Tortoise, is expertly enhanced here by James Elkington (Tweedy, Steve Gunn) on second guitar (moving over from drums on the last record). The two salute one of McCombs’s favorite bands, Television, with latticed dual leads on the stately yet aggressive “On the Move and Vanishing,” while Elkington’s subtle layers of pedal steel and organ burnish more ruminative forays like “Andalusia, IL” and “Ursula.” Their intertwining flights are anchored by the sturdy yet versatile rhythm team of bassist Pete Croke (Exit Verse, Tight Phantomz) and drummer Areif Sless-Kitain (the Eternals), the newest member of Brokeback.
Illinois River Valley Blues is a winding, wistful travelogue that not only captures darker textures but mines their depths. That’s been part of McCombs’s vision for Brokeback from the start: “To me a song is not worth writing if it doesn't have a strong sense of melancholy,” he says.”
Who are we now, in the era of the internet? Former Americanmen artist Sevendeaths looks to answer this on his new album of hi-def power ambient for Luckyme.
Edinburgh-based musician Steven Shade expands on the VST-centric grandiosity of his 2013 debut Sevendeaths set ‘Concreté Misery’ with this rather enveloping new album for the Luckyme crew.
A certain cinematic quality has always been evident in the Sevendeaths sound, but he really ups the ante on ‘Remote Sympathy,’ the ten tracks benefitting from the inclusion of natural sound sources via spectral resynthesis and sampling techniques and contributions from Rafe Fitzpatrick and Iban Perez.
Fans of Jóhann Jóhannsson and the recent output on Subtext should pay attention as Sevendeaths really captures a stunning snapshot of expertly crafted drone and power ambient geared as “both a celebration of life and human strength and an acceptance of the frailty of the human spirit.”
The conceptual nature of the album doesn’t weigh too heavily on the music however, this is no forlorn exercise in noise brutality; rather the moments of darkness act as brief interludes to Shade’s undoubted capacity to sculpt and orchestrate synthesis of shimmering incandescence.
A salve for folk souls and whoever needs it; Ben Chasny makes acoustic folk-pop great again.
“In preparing for the first album of non-Hexadic Six Organs of Admittance music since 2012’s Ascent, Ben Chasny had a think about what he’d be saying in his own tongue for the first time in a half-decade. As ever, a head-full of ideas were driving him to think and speak music as a spirituality superimposed onto a reality, with the ghosts of both whispering at each other. In the end, what sits in our listening ears is the sound of communion. Burn- ing the Threshold brings a wealth of Six Organs-styled lightness into one of his sweetest musical meditations yet.
With a spacious acoustic soundstage, Burn- ing the Threshold may actually more resemble 2011’s Asleep on the Flood- plain. Or it may more resemble Compathia, or School of the Flower. All of this is speculative, comparative, unverifiable — but our sense of what is true tells us that nobody plays acoustic music quite like Six Organs of Admittance, and that furthermore, nothing sounds so much like Burning the Threshold as Burning the Threshold.
Ben is in a particularly expansive mood this time around, singing and playing while thinking of birds in the morning, anarchy, Third Ear Band, Gaston Bachelard, The Gnostics, Ronnie Lane and/or The Faces, Deleuze, Aaron Cheak, Odysseus, This Heat, Takoma Records, St Eustace, Dark Noontide and a HELL of a lot more than that, with all the thoughts affixed to a quiver of potent melodies launching forth and arcing out through dimensions, seeking infinite space.
The space radiates out from the album’s first moment, with “Things As They Are,” a song examining the life of poet Wallace Stevens. Ben’s currently working on music for a theatrical work about Stevens’ life set to debut in Cleveland later in 2017. The empathetic waves generated by this song resonate throughout the album, giving a new dimension to the music of Six Organs of Admittance.
Like so many other Six Organs records, Burning the Threshold was created mostly solo, but features the singing talents of Alex Nielsen, Haley Fohr and Damon and Naomi; the drumming of Chris Corsano; a guitar duet with Ryley Walker, and keys and mixing from Cooper Crain. With this new music, Ben Chasny has created a potent tonic for our times. The gentleness found here, balanced on top of his classical asceticism, provides much of what we need in 2017 and beyond: love, forgiveness, reality and an ever-wider view, with the understanding of our circular path in this lifetime. Looking at the world through clear eyes beneath a knitted brow, but with a laugh rising up from its heart, Burning the Threshold brings us a powerful draught of essence.”
Since 2001, Alasdair Roberts has busily pursued the path of his ancestors, down the many and varied byways of Scottish traditional music - and of English and Irish traditional music as well, all of which have fed the American folk tradition from its earliest days.
"Over the past 15 years, Alasdair has released eight albums of self-written material and interpretations of traditional song alike, all played in a diversity of electric and acoustic arrangements, bringing a modern thrust to the music while honouring the many singers from whom this material was learned and adapted.
Following the acoustic austerity of his self-titled 2015 release, Alasdair’s applied himself to electric guitar and band once again for his ninth album, ‘Pangs’. Recorded in Ireland with Julie MacLarnon, ‘Pangs’ finds Alasdair in a power trio beside his long-time musical partners Alex Neilson on drums and Stevie Jones on bass (and he turns his hand to piano and organ too). Along with guests Debbie Armour, Tom Crossley, Rafe Fitzpatrick and Jessica Kerr, they summon up a powerful - and powerfully gorgeous - storm over ten new songs.
With ‘The Angry Laughing God’ and ‘The Downward Road’, Alasdair delivers two of his most driving pieces. Following that he turns around and plays two of his most touching ballads (and our lad’s had a lot of them over the years) in ‘Wormwood And Gall’ and ‘Scarce Of Fishing’. Additionally, the album is launched with the eponymous track ‘Pangs’ in what we hear to be a remarkable evocation of the 60s and 70s folk-rockers of the British Isles - the electric warriors of Fairport Convention, the Battlefield Band, Planxty, Richard Thompson and so many significant others."
Sun Ra: piano; John Gilmore: tenor sax; Marshall Allen: alto sax; Pat Patrick: baritone sax; Robert Cummings: baritone clarinet; Teddy Nance: trombone; Ali Hassan: trombone; Clifford Jarvis: drums; Ronnie Boykins: bass, tuba; James Jackson: log drum, flute; Carl Nimrod: sun horn, gong.
"The 1965 sessions that produced the original two volumes of Heliocentric Worlds came during the most extremely free-form period of Ra's career, contemporaneous with The Magic City (Saturn Records). Volume 1, recorded in April with an 11-member band, consists of seven relatively short tracks (none over eight minutes); these tracks find Sun Ra breaking ground by using synthesizers and having the Arkestra musicians double on percussion. Recorded in November with an octet, Volume 2, in contrast, was much freer and featured the side-long "The Sun Myth" and the 15-minute "Cosmic Chaos."
The horn players and legendary bassist Ronnie Boykins have plenty of room to stretch out and take full advantage. "A House of Beauty" offers five minutes of relatively lyrical respite between the other tracks. When ESP-Disk' resumed issuing new releases in 2005, Sun Ra archivist Michael D. Anderson resurrected another five tracks from the November session to create Volume 3, featuring the powerful "Intercosmosis."
"...the two Heliocentric Worlds albums, both recorded in 1965, appeared on the iconoclastic ESP-Disk label, and propagated his music to a wider audience of listeners who were open to freakiness. Both volumes are improvisations by subgroups of the Arkestra (directed by Ra), and even at their most dissonant, they're playful and spacious — 'Dancing in the Sun' is off-the-cuff big-band swing. 'The Sun Myth' is a panoramic 18-minute fantasia in which two or three instruments at a time toss long, buzzing tones and high honks back and forth, then fall out of orbit again." – Douglas Wolk, #9 on Spin's "The Top 100 Alternative Albums of the 1960s
Dirty Projectors cough up the canniest indie-pop album in ages with an eponymous, R&B-soaked anomaly practically making a mockery of those indie guitar bands who still continue to ply worthless, played-out pop conventions.
As possibly the one band who can claim mutual connections between Kanye, Rihanna, Paul McCartney, Solange, Blood Orange and Björk, the credentials of Dirty Projectors are peerless at the least, and this, their 8th full length album proves why their experimental song-writing and instrumental talents are sought out by the biggest selling artists in the world.
It’s basically down to the way they acknowledge and consolidate the influence of modern Black soul and pop music as much as folk, chamber music and avant-garde electronic traditions in their compositions, and in a way that is blithely refused by those guitar bands who continue to churn out the same ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s and ’80s-inspired pop styles without realising that each and every one of them is rooted in one form of Black music or another, but gets lost in consecutive translations.
We’d wager it’s a sign of the cleft between majors run by crusty posh old white dudes, and what clued-up younger people actually want to listen to (same difference with Trump/insecure right wing doyles and everyone else, really?). Maybe this isn’t the place for politics but this record seems to embody our current feelings in the best, most relevant way right now, and it'd be remiss to ignore it.
From the eager use of autotune (taken to throat-curdling effect in Keep Your Name) to the ruggedness of their drum programming (like vintage Timba in Death Spiral) to an oil-shimmer mix of G-funk and Americana in Little Bubble or the delicate yet rude pivot of Winner Take Nothing, which could almost be a Disclosure cut; their sense of twisted ridiculousness may be taken as piss-taking by some, when it’s actually a very necessary level of extremity needed to shock and wake the scene from its utterly regressive indulgence and dearth of new ideas.
And most crucially, it’s done with a balance of faithful respect and honesty toward the strangeness and psychedelia of their art form, like, say Autre Ne Veut or Clams Casino (for good examples of respectful but uncompromising appropriation) as opposed to the limpid, simpering pish you'll find elsewhere.
In other words it’s highly engaging, challenging and satisfying in equal measures, and all because they got the balance right. A rare thing indeed for contemporary pop from an “indie” band.
Ghostly atmospheric gong and location recordings performed and made by original Fluxus member, Philip Corner with new age shaman Hiah Park in 1988 and 1989 accompanied by dancers
“Philip Corner writes… ‘Hiah Park – new age shaman, then living in California (where else?). My Korea connexion interest led me to a workshop she gave in New York; more sessions continued until the opportunity of really working together at the proposed seminar ‘Art and the Invisible Reality’ to be held in Bavaria. I revisited my old practice of ‘metal meditations’ specially reinterpreted to go with performance/dance derived from traditional shamanic practices (of which she a certified practitioner). Then done in Trento in front of the cathedral where we joked about when they burnd witches. After the two performances in Europe our association came to an end.
Sin Cha Hong, a great friend in New York and a fabulous dancer and choreographer. Truly profound and intense body-incorporated physicality serving a spiritual content in no need of official status. Her Korean-American company she called Laughing Stone (with its implicit antipod-olarity so seeming compatible with my own expression thru music); she used my anklung (Javanese bamboo rattles) quartet gamelan Adagio onstage for one of her solos.
For many years now she has been back in the Orient. We did reconnect in 1993, performing together in the festival ‘The Seoul of Fluxus’. This recording I made alone in the New York loft with my ‘familiar’ – the large Paiste tam-tam: while holding her in my mind.
The dancer/shamans are, as their names show, from Korea – the country par excellence for this ancient form of religion incarnate. I have had a long continuing and most appreciative relationship to that country’s culture, from 1960 when shipped as a trombonesman to the American occupying forces there and and turned on each afternoon listening to ‘National (Kuk Ahk) Music Hour’ their theme song ‘Su Je Chun’ – the most ancient piece from the court repertoire which I have never stopped hearing as the most beautiful music ever made. That, and the breakthrough composition ‘Sang-Teh/Situations’ which written and performed in Seoul in 1961, made this meeting and working with a genuine Korean shaman a spectacular amplification of my rapport.
It was the beginning of the years-long improvisation-meditation practice shared with many other dancers, including most notably Phœbe Neville, soon to become my wife, and still is.’ – Philip Corner, Reggio nell’Emilia, 1st September, 2016.
In 1966 ESP-Disk' founder Bernard Stollman put together a multi-artist tour of five New York colleges and sent audio engineer David B. Jones on the road with it. When they returned, just 39 minutes of music was chosen to be released as the original Sun Ra LP Nothing Is...
"Forty-four years later, Sun Ra archivist Michael D. Anderson pieced together some missing parts of the New York College Tour. Recorded on May 18th 1966 at St. Lawrence University in Potsdam, NY, this illuminating document represents the full 70-minute first set, from which Nothing Is... was taken. In addition, Anderson uncovered a partial second set from the same evening and some rare rehearsal footage recorded during a sound check before the concert.
The over 90 minutes of additional material includes the rarely performed "State Street" and alternate versions of "Theme of the Stargazers" and "The Second Stop Is Jupiter." Remastered from the original tapes and presented in superb quality, College Tour Volume One is a vivid snapshot of the mid-Sixties Ra and his intergalactic band."
"This album captures events from January to August of this year and how I processed it all while traveling... I’m blessed to have met the very talented Justin Broadrick and to have made these beautiful albums with him..."
“These two new albums capture more than my reactions to mass murders or the passing of beloved heroes like David Bowie or Muhammad Ali. The Sun Kil Moon and Jesu/Sun Kil Moon albums are also full of love, humor, and my gratitude for the gift of life.” - Mark Kozelek, Sun Kil Moon