JK Broadrick’s lush dream-pop jungle project finds its target on LA’s Give/Take a decade since it was due for issue on AFX’s Rephlex (RIP), now beautifully finished with heart-in-mouth harmonic structures and thizzing breaks that hark to his classic Jesu gear.
Stemming from 2009-2013 recordings that followed the feel of Jesu’s ‘Pale Sketches’ (2007) set, the pioneering Napalm Death/Godflesh/Zonal co-founder really wears his heart on sleeve in this volley of uncannily seasonally appropriate gems flush with hip hop-meets-shoegaze sampling tekkerz prone to brukbeat prang-outs. While his music has long traded on a sense of brummie doom in myriad forms, ‘Golden Skin’ showcases the flipside of Broadrick’s crankiness with results that lean toward Clams Casino’s ebullient witch house or indeed AFX’s own brand of emotive tempest, harnessing his skills to a headier form of intensity that sounds particularly potent in midwinter and the accompanying feels that come circa this time of year.
‘Golden Skin’ executes its function beautifully well from top to bottom. ‘Today’ sets out its emotional brief with filigree vocal sampling and rearrangement set to sparking early ‘90s hardcore breaks, and we can’t help but compare the hip hop break and vocal chopping of ‘A Joy We Only Know’ with peak, contemporaneous Clams Casino cuts, while ‘Have Faith’ sounds like the shoegaze D&B ideas of Digital’s SOS peach ‘Lost’ merged with Broadrick’s late ‘90s tech step style. At its core there’s a fantasy for anyone who dreamt of MBV doing slow jungle in ‘Heart Beat’, and his ‘Golden Skin’ really lets loose with the fuzzy steppers pressure, and the loopy rushes of ‘Rollercoaster’ and ‘I’m Your Possession’ feel like Panda Bear gone ruffneck.
Not a bad tune on this one >> big tip for the romantics.
‘Electroacoustic Works’ is an epic undertaking compiling Iannis Xenakis’ earliest works (Diamorphoses / Concret PH / Orient Occident / Bohor), through his classic period (Hibiki Hana-Ma / Mycenae Alpha / Polytope de Cluny / Persepolis / La Légende D’Eer) and onto late works (Taurhiphanie / Voyage Absolu Des Unari Vers Andromède / Gendy 3 / S.709), all newly mixed by longtime zeitkratzer sound engineer Martin Wurmnest and mastered by Rashad Becker, with a Booklet of English / German liner notes by Reinhold Friedl (zeitkratzer) and rare photos from the Xenakis archive.
As one of the most revered figures of the twentieth century avant-garde, and surely the only one to have studied with Messiaen and worked with Le Corbusier; Xenakis redrew the boundaries of sonic possibility with his pioneering, mathematically sound arrangements and brutalist electronic tonalities. By teaching/osmosis, his work has exerted just about as much influence on the avant-classical paradigms as the more untrained worlds of noise and DIY electronic experimentalism, with his anarchitextural approach to form and function breaking ground for everyone from Roland Kayn and John Zorn thru Hecker & Haswell to Lee Gamble and Rashad Becker (who did this remaster, naturally) in the contemporary field.
The first disc (early works) stakes out Xenakis’ peerless approach to new music between the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, back when he began to combine his musical studies under Messiaen with his background in architecture as an assistant to Le Corbusier, and the facilities of Paris’ GRM. What is perhaps most striking about these works is their clarity and spatial definition, which never feels as murky or even messy as much early electronics. With thanks to Rashad Becker’s remastering, everything from the alien dynamics of 1957’s ‘Diamorphoses’ to the shattered glass synthesis of ‘Concret PH’ (1958), thru the rowdy percussive ruptures of ‘Orient Occident’ (1961) and the almighty, roiling keen of his masterwork ‘Bohor’ (1962) sounds uncannily modern.
The second disc covers a golden patch between between 1969-1972, taking in the jaw-dropping shearing string dynamics and febrile rhythms of ‘Hibiki Hana-Ma’ (1969)’ to one of his all-time masterworks in 1972’s multimedia installation soundtrack ‘Polytope de Cluny’ with its shattered polymetric percussions, and the uncannily future-proofed play of chattering electronics, swooping subbass and cyclonic hornet-like swarms in ‘Mycenae Alpha’ (1978).
DIsc 3 features ‘Persepolis’ - Xenakis’ longest electroacoustic composition. Commissioned by the Persian Shah, the piece was part of a multimedia performance which premiered in 1971 in Shiraz-Persepolis as a performance including light-tracks, laser beams, groups of children walking around with torches and 59 loudspeakers to project the music in an open-air situation. It was recoreded on 8-track analogue tape in the Studio Acusti in Paris and released as a stereo reduction on vinyl in the famous Philips series “Prospective 21e Siècle” in 1972, adding the new subtitle “We bear the light of the earth”, his most hymnal title ever.
DIsc 4 spotlights 'La Légende D’Eer’ - was made in an impenetrable thicket of versions, with this one selected here from the 8-track-version that Xenakis himself presented at Darmstädter Ferienkurse in august 1978. It's the only original version of this composition and is presented here (mixed down to stereo by Martin Wurmnest who tried to preserve the spatial movements as perceptible as possible) for the very first time. La Légende d’Eer not only became a milestone of electroacoustic music but is also an important reference for noise and industrial musicians of the modern era.
The final disc ‘Late Works’ opens with 'Taurhiphanie' - a lurching synthetic experiment that disorientates the listener with pitch-f*cked wobbles and sheets of glassy drone - anyone into shepard tone business or Florian Hecker's synapse-tickling experiments really should spend some time with it. Fifteen minute epic 'Voyage Absolu Des Unari Vers Andromède' falls even further into the abys - Xenakis disrupts his tonal experimentation with near-rhythmic tides of low-end movement. These sounds are expanded into fractal mayhem on 'Gendy 3', with almost 20 minutes of synthesized chirps that flock into dread clouds of unsettling vibration. It's tempting to call it industrial - Xenakis's use of electronics seemingly nods to certain corners of the industrial spectrum - but none of these works ever fall into a pattern. Just as you think you've got them sussed, they veer into fresh sonic territory, guided by foghorn blasts. There's nothing else like it - it's as foundational as it is puzzling, rewarding, and completely enthralling.
Taken as a whole, this is music that still beggars belief 50 years later, a remarkable testament to the Xenakis vision and diligence during an era when it was markedly more difficult to create music with such a bewildering dynamic.
Fuck what you know of Huerco S, 'Plonk' is his first album in 6 years and switches tack from house and groggy ambient touchstones to a more glassy, iridescent palette of juked electrosoul and chamber-like paradigms.
Touching minds 10 years since his cult early works graced the likes of Opal Tapes and Ukraine’s Wicked Bass, ‘Plonk’ finds him drawing on a formative love of rally cars and experiences over the interim for a more ragged jag that still prizes a sense of heady lushness, but more fractal and bittersweet with it. Of course he’s not been slacking since his now classic album ‘For Those Of You Who Have Never (And Also Those Who Have)’, delivering ample goodies as Pendant and introducing key new artists via his curation of West Mineral Ltd. since 2017, but Huerco S. has taken a backseat until now, returning with a sparing, concentrated energy refracted into light-splitting ambient post-classical figures and splintered steppers that defy gravity with a cannily personalised sort of electro-dub physics.
We’ve long compared Brian Leeds’ work as Huerco S. with the likes of NWAQ and Actress, and those references still somehow apply, as he smartly moves parallel and perpendicular to those likemind auteurs’ evolutions across ‘Plonk'. They all share a patented sense of emotional intelligence and deep funk imagination that percolates their beyond-the-dance tekkerz.
The 10 tracks of ‘Plonk’ sensitively smash the template of ambient techno and IDM for a new decade, allowing new subtly mutated forms to emerge in the cracks. Between the first example of reeling extended melody in ‘Plonk I’ to the dematerialised tonal hues of the 11min bliss out ‘Plonk X’, he offers a thorough but faithful reappraisal of his style, tiling fleeting pieces of beat-less introspection rendered with electro-acoustic strategies, alongside nerve end-dancing, syncopated jitters and gyring hyperspace explorations such as the spine-licking bewt ‘’Plonk VI’ and smudged Autechrian functions on ‘Plonk VIII’, with a surprise turn of drawling cloudrap abstaction on ‘Plonk IX’.
The Dewaele brothers’ peak bastard dance-pop mash-up is now available on vinyl for the weirdos that need it like that.
Once ubiquitous at afterparties in the indie sleaze era that’s currently being resurrected by gen Z, ‘As Heard On Radio Soulwax Pt. 2’ throws down an hour of cut ’n spliced classic dance music from the ‘70s until 2002, including reams of millennial pop mixed and matched in the style of the day. It sold half a million copies on release, lol
Alongside the likes of Erol Alkan, Soulwax’s 2ManyDJs were among the most prominent, lauded party-starters of that era and this mix was their calling card, stemming from afterparties for their main vehicle, that would arguably eclipse their work as a band and endure in the befuddled memories of those who’d rather forget their Hoxton fins and drug habits at the time.
L'effet Rebond is not one album but two. Two parallel albums sharing the same title - one by Pierre-Yves Macé, the other by Sylvain Chauveau.
"Both works come from the same original material: a few tracks of guitar, piano, harmonium and vocals, initially recorded by Chauveau. The lyrics (in French, English, Japanese) are very short poems by or quotations from e.e. cummings, Thelonious Monk, John Cage, Basho, cult tennis player John McEnroe, Carla Demierre, Aram Saroyan, Joseph Guglielmi, and painter Philip Guston. From this common material, each of the two composers has built his own edifice, choosing the elements he keeps, the ones he abandons, adding little by little his own instruments, structures and ideas. In the end, two distinct and autonomous opuses are born.
Iridium version Pierre-Yves Macé has allowed himself to be guided by his long-standing obsessions: hybridisation of genres and formats, balance between lyricism and formalism, intersection of chamber instrumental writing and chiselled electronics. But this time he pushes his penchant for sobriety further than ever. Whether it is a song-haiku, a miniature for piano or a long repetitive and rhythmic piece, the simplicity is at the service of the clarity of the ideas and the beauty of the timbres - Maitane Sebastiàn's cello or Cédric Jullion's bass flute in mind.
Silicium version Sylvain Chauveau has surrounded himself with his friends Peter Broderick (backing vocals), Machinefabriek (electronic processing), Lucille Calmel (field recordings), Romke Kleefstra (electric guitar) and Rainier Lericolais (electronic sounds) in order to develop more than ever his love of repetition and the ultra-short format. Here, the pieces often last only the time of a breath, of a few heartbeats. A musical form rarely explored in any musical genre, but one that Chauveau has been fond of since his early days and whose quintessence he seeks here."
Timely reissue of Duster's self-titled 2019 return to the studio after an 18 year absence.
Following Numero's reissues of Duster's classic albums and previously unreleased material, it's fitting that they should eventually repackage the Californian three-piece's comeback record, released almost two decades after 2000's 'Contemporary Movement'. The slowcore-cum-indie rock band appeared back in 1996 after releasing the 'On The Dodge' cassette and winning acclaim for their gritty lo-fi moves that carefully fused emo and post-hardcore shakes. Always cult darlings, but never fully accepted into the mainstream, Duster's reputation grew in the period they were out of view, and their catalogue quickly became sought-after by collectors. The band eventually got together in 2018, and "Duster" was the result, an album that recaptured their magic - a tidy combo of Codeine's narcotic feels and Slint's melancholy knuckle cracking.
Thankfully, 'Duster' isn't an exercise in nostalgia and doesn't attempt to recapture the past, instead mapping out where the trio exists in the here and now. If you've exhausted the Low, Galaxie 500 and American Music Club catalog - this is well worth a peep.
Formed in the early 1980s, Phauss is Carl Michael von Hausswolff and Erik Pauser.
"Von Hausswolff and Pauser, who both operated across sound and installation, used Phauss as a means for deconstructing ideas of composition, situationalism, site-specific works and extended performance methodologies. Across the second half of the 1980s and into the early 1990s, they made connections, through their travels, outward from their homeland into scenes and communities that stretched from the Middle East, through North America and into Asia.
Like their travels, their ways of approaching the work they made was similarly wide-reaching and innately curious. They worked with often quite strict conceptual structures within which they were able to unlock entirely new ways of considering composition and also the material production of sound, through performance, through iteration and through considered experimentation which allowed for failure, just as much as success.
Nya Sverige - Nothing But The Truth is a recording made in the United States whilst the pair were undertaking an exhaustive tour in 1991 alongside Hafler Trio and Zbigniew Karkowski. This, now legendary, tour was both arduous and rewarding. Living in a van for many weeks at a time, travelling between cities with the most modest of means meant Phauss came to know a very particular vision of the United States, one that existed below plain view. Their’s was an experience had at the rawest edges of cities.
Equally the performances they gave, from which this edition is assembled, were raw and quite frankly dangerous. Fire on stage, sparks flying from short circuiting electronics and intense physical rituals guided so much of their work during this tour and looking back at bootleg videos from the time it’s difficult to imagine the work being able to be presented in the modern world.
One of the flyers from their tour reads ‘Extreme Swedish Industrial’, and as familiar as those words might appear now, in 1991 they held a very different resonance. They were unfamiliar terms of reference and the intensity of Phauss’s music maintains that unknowability to this day. This is a profoundly individual work and sets the stage for a generation of musicians who followed them."
Subtly hallucinatory, Burroughsian field recording collage by CM Von Hauswolff and Eric Pauser’s Phauss, stitching abstract meta-narratives from the ether of mid ‘80s Switzerland, Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Pakistan, India, Thailand, The Philippines and USA, Morocco, Algeria, Niger, Benin and Nigeria, with assistance of engineer Zbigniew Karkowski. Reissued for first time in 35 years.
“Audiodrome collects together two discreet works that sit somewhere between field recording, chance composition and experimental soundscape. Both pieces pre-date the widespread arrival of field recording as a creative practice, and expand outward the work that had been developed by musique concréte and other experimental music approaches concerned with the intersections of found sound and composition. Both works were devised using the same working methodology, whereby an alarm would sound every few days and wherever and whenever it sounded the pair would start recording their surroundings. Those raw material became the basis for the pieces.
The first composition Zürich - Zürich is a piece that traces a line around the world, Phauss travelling on a round the world air ticket stopping only in countries where conflict was present. This unsettling journey became a meditation on the evolving state of the world in those moments. Voices, traffic, cafes, radios, transportation system and other incidental environments float into one another in a kind of stream of (temporally incongruous) consciousness.
The second work Alger - Lagos brings to mind some of Brion Gysin and William S. Burroughs tape cut-ups. Street musicians are splice against bursts of radio, roadside conversations and searing blasts of industrial noise captured from aircraft and other unfamiliar sources. It is an unsteadying journey where even the sounds of the everyday feel alien and repositioned. The sounds call to us prompting a sensing that is at its heart utterly fascinated, and fascinating.
The edition includes a book featuring an exhaustive collection of photographs, documents and artworks made by Von Hausswolff and Pauser during their journeys undertaken to complete each of the compositions. Many of these images and artworks have never been published previously.”
Pick of the bunch from Rhodri Davies’ Amgen reissue programme is a mesmerising microtonal drone work on the tongue-tip cusp of works by Éliane Radigue or Elodie.
‘Over Shadows’ uses recordings made in Norfolk, 2004 and composed in March, 2006, under a title inspired by British poet Redell Olsen’s book ‘Secure Portable Space’, an ambiguous play on gender codes. Nipped in the edit by Benedict Drew and John Wall, the piece enacts a 36 minute transition between harmonically resonant feedback tones, overlapping in ringing and pulsing forms that lure us deep into their folds and coruscating shimmers. It feels as much like a plangent folk piece slowed 1000% as one of Éliane Radigue’s late ‘60s feedback works, pointing to a natural yet unearthly quality that has us rapt for its duration and showcases the endless variation of Davies’ tekkerz reaped from the harp.
Inimitable improvisor Rhodri Davies interprets Jean-Luc Guionnet’s composition for solo pedal harp in this barely-there but absorbing 40 min recording, made in Brussels, 2010
Like Davies, french sax player Guionnet has been prolifically active since the ‘90s as a solo improvisor and player for myriad others, from contemporary ensembles to jazz squads. Guionnet’s ‘Dyslexic Harp (Deciphered In The Dark)’ was written for pedal harp and dedicated to Davies, who performs the piece in in an exceedingly quiet and spaced out style where fragments of melodic thought pass out to lingering lacunæ and incorporate incidental sounds of turned sheet notation and aleatoric rustle.
It feels like a rawer parallel to the kind of extremely precise works found on Wandelweiser Editions or Another Timbre, also prising their use of silence and negative space, but with a grippingly looser nature where Davies’ gestures feel like autumnal leaves wilting off the branch in a gentle breeze or an archipelago of Scottish isles that come into view as the weather changes. Definitely one for gazing out the window while shivering under a blanket.
In advance of their first (and probably last) show at YOUTH's Cafe Oto showcase this week, Yugen Disciple returns with a rugged debut album of noctilucent greyscale hues and post-UKG mechanisms primed for heads into Shinichi Atobe, SND, Demdike Stare.
‘Ancestor Node’ dials up the bloozy late night sentiments to perfection across an hour of exclusive new material flush with a slowburn warmth and smudged but rudely insistent rhythms. Perhaps more than any release on the label since his debut, the dozen tracks here feel to echo a proper after-hours flex suspended somewhere between the balcony dancefloor and sofa gouch-out with a rare sensuousness that gets right under the skin and up the nose.
Flickering into action with the SND-like glitch shivers x subtle dembow on ‘Xerxes’, the set rolls tender bodies and minds on the offbeat between the wist of ‘Senecan Way’ and his MDMA-encrusted kiss-off ‘Unzen’. There are very canny cuts of AI electro in ‘Pleux’, and divine traces of 20 year old Pendle Coven or NMB works in ‘Pattern Recognition’, with strong turns to the darkside recalling Kareem and the Metal Gear Solid soundtrack on ‘Tactical Vest’. That darkness is balanced by absorbingly textured lushness of ‘Slow Parallax’ and the compression of ‘Volume Mesh’, plus a reminder of his discrete early beauty ‘First Sighting’ (from 2019’s ‘Sports’ comp) that help cement the nostalgic yen and timeless futurism of his sound.
Black Truffle follows its Alvin Lucier collection with this anthology of solo and duo violin work from radical New York School composer Christian Wolff, who studied with John Cage and collaborated with Morton Feldman.
Performed by NY violin duo String Noise, "A Complete Anthology of Solo and Duo Violin Pieces" covers the entire career of Christian Wolff, from his earliest published compositions to a new work penned especially for this release. The composer was considered by John Cage to be the most "musical" of his set, and fused a restless urge for boundary-pushing innovation with radical left-wing politics. Wolff became acquainted with Cage when he was just a teenager, studying with him for a short spell after being sent for composition lessons by his piano teacher. Later, he became a member of Cage's wider circle, working alongside Morton Feldman, David Tudor and Merce Cunningham.
String Noise approach Wolff's music in a non-chronological sequence, a choice that frames his constant metamorphosis. The earliest piece is 'Duo For Violins', a short composition written by Wolff in 1950 as a teenager to experiment with reduction, letting the two violins play against each other's pitches. Elsewhere there are two premiere recordings of two other duo pieces written at the same time, recently discovered by the composer. The longer 1970s-penned compositions - 'Bread and Roses' and 'The Death of Mother Jones' - are forcefully political, celebrating women activists by contorting traditional melodies into daring modernist forms.
The newest work, written in 2021, is a 16-part experiment entitled 'Small Duos for Violinists' and presents itself in an almost granular way, with sections ranging from just over 10 seconds to almost two minutes. Inspiring material, showcasing a complete overview of a composer's composer who's not nearly as well-known as he should be.
Aeolian Mixtape is the third feature album of experimental composer and multi-instrumentalist Quinta.
"During a recent period spent living in Greece, Quinta was inspired to design and hand-build Aeolian harps – harps which resonate with the wind. The sound of the Aeolian harp is ethereal and distinctive, characterised by the rising and falling of harmonic frequencies swept into life by the wind. The sonority varies according to the strength and character of the wind and the various materials used to make each harp, including string type and length.
In the tracks 'Meltemia' and 'Aeolus', violin arpeggios and minimal piano accompany the sound of the harps as it builds in intensity. In turn, the track 'Horologion' is decisively more experimental with re-synthesised harp frequencies generating a kind of tape warmth. The album is underpinned by field recording – nearby birds, barking dogs, creaking trees or a bee flying into a harp string – keeping the music close to the Greek landscape it was written for. The result is a meditative album, flickering between drones and strings and always with the unique sound of the Aeolian harps at its heart."
Originally composed for a dance performance and installation, 'Black Box 3' is an uncompromisingly reduced set of processed field recordings, drum skitters, and cautious synthetic minimalism.
Mads Emil Nielsen's first "Black Box" release arrived in 2018 on 7"; each edition presents music and sound that the Danish composer originally assembled for theater performances and installations, and the third chapter is no different. This time around, the starting point was material Nielsen had worked on for "Sprækker (Cracks)", a dance performance and installation that was presented in Denmark last year. Based on improvisations recorded with contemporary dancers, Nielsen wanted to guide the listener through a selection of sounds, from synthesizer experiments to everyday sounds and radio archives.
So we're presented with clever, precise tweaking on 'Installation - 2', that obscures chopped-up drums behind synthesized glitches and moonlit field recordings. It sounds like someone jamming in a remote marsh at night, and that's never a bad thing. 'Climbing Plants' is more immersive somehow, molding hissing environmental sounds into billowing dark ambience that sounds almost like dub techno at a quarter speed. Nielsen's command of microscopic percussive elements is impressive, and his ability to weave fine pinprick patterns with undergrowth crunches and insect calls is particularly hypnotic on closing track 'Vibrations'.
Experimental guitarist, sound designer and occasional Mika Vainio collaborator Franck Vigroux returns to Raster for an album steeped in 1980s nostalgia, influenced by Polaroid colors, VHS aesthetics, electro pop, and Vangelis.
According to Franck Vigroux, the 1980s was a "terrible time". I suppose we have to agree, even though it was a while ago and we were (mostly) quite young. To Vigroux, the era is best remembered via its most recognizable hallmarks, like the dystopian flicker of Ridley Scott's enduring "Blade Runner" - at the time a complete flop. Vigroux has mapped out his approximation of the 1980s aesthetic on "Magnetoscope", the latest in a proposed series of releases that includes 2020's "Ballades sur lac gelé". If you've heard that album, you'll have an idea of where this one is directed sonically - yet again he employs a tight palette of analog synths, drum machines, and Sähkö/Raster glitches. But on this one, Vigroux is careful to make sure his inspirations are rendered accurately, so we're immediately hit with electro-pop rhythms and synths, and coaxed into the atmosphere with the kind of romantic synthwork that Vangelis was eating off for years.
Opener 'VHS' does exactly what you'd expect, to the point where if you told us this was a horror/sci-fi soundtrack made in the mid-1980s and released it on Death Waltz we'd probably believe you. The glitches might be a little edgy but who are we to doubt, when Charanjit Singh was making acid ragas in 1982. Elsewhere, 'L.A.' sounds as rainy and windswept as the "Blade Runner" dystopia, and comes served with the exact Yamaha CS-80 sounds you'd expect to hear, backed by rolling glitches and twitchy kicks because it's Raster, so why not. It's on 'Station to Station' that Vigroux starts to wander outside of the popular nostalgiasphere for a second, dirtying up the electro-pop formula and capturing some of the loose masonry weight of his noisier material. Elsewhere, tracks like 'Cassette' and 'Nuit' offer spine-tingling minimalist horror vibes, while Vigroux flexes his ambient muscle on 'Steam', maybe the album's most moving track.
The 23rd edition of the Pop Ambient compilation, compiled by Wolfgang Voigt.
"A contemporary product of relentless capitalism has been a trend called slowness for several years now. In order to counteract the perceived fast pace of the times in which we live with a little deceleration, sustainability and relaxation, phenomena such as Slow Food, Slow Travel, Slow Fashion or even Slow Cruising, the tourist sailing of the world's oceans with somewhat smaller cruise ships "away from the mainstream", have been introduced into the world.
That slowness is more than the opposite of speed, that elements, things, sounds that move as if in slow motion unfold a special power, precision, aesthetics and beauty, doesn’t need to be explained twice to ambient musicians. The 23rd edition of the Pop Ambient compilation, compiled as always by Wolfgang Voigt, is no exception, but instead provides the proof."
Vinyl treasure. A heartbreakingly beautiful, eerie elegy to a tragic event, Gavin Bryars’ magnum opus - a pinnacle of the c.20th classical canon - is finally available on vinyl again via Superior Viaduct some half century since it was issued on Eno’s Obscure label.
Gavin Bryars’ Eno-produced ‘The Sinking of the Titanic’ artfully evokes the liner’s in-house band continuing to play as it sank into the North Atlantic Ocean in 1912. Its understated string arrangements and use of Cageian indeterminate strategy set a haunting precedent for later works by the likes of The Caretaker, Akira Rabelais and Stephan Mathieu, heralding the culmination of a phase shift between popular classical music, proper, and its experimental paths beyond convention into realms of pure sonification. No doubt it’s one of those works that simply stops you in you tracks and effortlessly holds the attention for the duration.
The B-side, ‘Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me’ is also deeply regarded for its ebbing tape loop of a London street singer set to strings by Derek Bailey, Michael Nyman and John White. Also of a immediately poignant register, the piece holds in subtle contrast to the tragedy of the other, gradually layering wind and strings to the central motif with quietly devastating effect that has prompted Tom Waits to claim it as his favourite piece of music.
Both pieces are a sterling early testament to Bryars' affective work since the ‘60s, tying up paths with fellow Yorkshireman and jazz-man Derek Bailey and future soundtrack composer Michael Nyman, and leading the way for his formation of the highly esteemed Portsmouth Sinfonia. We kinda hate to say it from this side of the Pennines, but this is truly music of God’s own country.
Ex-Cocteau Twin Simon Raymonde's 1997 debut is repackaged here with three bonus tracks - unavailable for years, it documents the Cocteau Twins' final moments.
When Raymonde started work on "Blame Someone Else" in 1996, he wasn't sure if he would be working on solo material as Cocteau Twins was still a full-time concern. His bandmates were supportive, even going so far as to perform on a few of the tracks, but by the time it was released in 1997 Cocteau Twins had disbanded - a new era had begun. It was the first album to appear on Raymonde's Bella Union label, out of print for 25 years (it took Raymonde that long to feel comfortable with the songs being out there again), it's been repackaged as "Solo Works 96-98".
Musically it sounds very much of its time - just as Cocteau Twins embraced a more polished style in their later years (as evidenced on "Four Calendar Cafe" and "Milk & Kisses"), Raymonde continues the thought. Early tracks 'It's a Family Thing' and 'Love Undone' echo the popular indie of the day, and while Raymonde's voice is strong it's easy to hear how these tracks fell just outside of the timeline. 'The Seventh Day' is stronger for approaching the late Cocteaus style more wholeheartedly (you can almost hear Liz Fraser cooing the chorus), and the band's late-era drummer Mitsuo Tate shows up on 'In My Place' and a handful more tracks.
Robin Guthrie adds his characteristic shimmer to 'Muscle and Want', while Fraser harmonizes with Raymonde on the gorgeous 'Worship Me', an undoubtable standout. The new additions are surprising: 'Summer's Blue' adds rave-inspired drum loops, 'Left Untouched the Flowers Grow' sounds like it could have come from Les Disques du Crépuscule, and 'Let Love In' rounds off the set with haunted harmonies and a barely-present pulse. Lovely.
To Move is a new project by the trio of Anna Rose Carter (Moon Ate the Dark), Ed Hamilton (Dead Light) and Alex Kozobolis.
"Four-handed piano meets analogue manipulations to absolute wondrous effect from the London based friends.
We're carried into a time and place not afraid to embrace a sense of optimism - even if it comes wrapped in a certain distorted shape. Transporting, blissful tones emanate free of concerns from the unifying keys; at least until the melodies are pulled and dragged from purity to become something wholly else – their own lived life; fitted with obstructions and unpredictability. The intertwining pianos linger like lovers in unison, full of drift, rhythm and life; all while analogue electronics and tape manipulations degrade and move them from their original form and closer towards earth itself.
The album came to light while Anna and Ed were temporarily residing in the English countryside between 2016 and 2019. Musical weekend visits from Alex turned into the fruitful collaboration presented here. 'To Move' is a compelling musical storyboard with a name that captures the essence of their music better than any written essay could do. This is music to resonate to, music to dance to, music to engulf your being. As for fans of the Sonic Pieces sound – if there is one – this record hits as close to home as it could do."
Geneva's Citron Citron's debut album on 'Les Disques Bongo Joe'.
"Chagrin Bleu explores the melancholy of the night and the joy of a flight under the sun. Songs with transcendent refrains, and synthetic laments with romantic melodies, carried by groove box-like rhythms. An album on the borders of chamber pop, medieval chants and ambient. The lyrics are at times poetic, angry or dreamy.
The first sketches of the album were drawn during the first confinement when time was slowing down. The songs were then recorded in a DIY way by the band in their studio in Geneva during the year 2021. The first sessions were recorded on tape with a Tascam 688, then expanded and edited on computer. Some additional recordings were made with the help of sound engineer Yavor Lilov (L'Éclair) and some guests : Fhunyue Gao on theremin, Sébastien Bui (L'Éclair) for some synth parts.
The album was then worked on and mixed with Jacco Gardner in his Antwerp studio. His analogue world allowed the sound of the album to grow and deepen. With his echoes and tape machines, the mix could be approached in an organic and evolutionary way."
Berlin-based Turkish sound artist Hüma Utku uses psychological research to inform this unsettling set of hybridized analog-digital electronic vignettes, based around doomy strings and Buchla 200 recordings made at Stockholm's legendary Elektronmusikstudion. Bleak, pitch-black shit - inhabiting the same universe as Muslimgauze, Roly Porter or even Silver Mt. Zion.
Described by the label as "a series of sonic essays", "The Psychologist" references Utku's studies in psychology, which she employs to fuel shadowy abstractions of strings and electronics that feel cinematic. There's a careful pace to her productions that sweeps up her influences - from electro-acoustic music to abstract techno and industrial sounds - into a coherent soup of dimly lit orchestral flourishes and gurgling analog electronics. On 'Fuel for the Flames', thick oscillator waves set the mood, before epic double bass strokes mire the track in arcane mysticism. Utku introduces a grinding electronic rhythm on 'Dissolution of I', referencing Muslimgauze or Pan Sonic's jerky noise-inflected industrial shakes, but matches it with grim, grinding strings you'd be more likely to hear in Montreal's Godspeed-adjacent zone.
Across the course of the album, Urku rarely lets up - the tracks reference Carl Jung's theories, and our mind goes straight to the nightmare realm on the foreboding 'Rüya', which literally translates to dream in Turkish. Acidic environmental recordings and witchy vocals are layered with uneasy modular electronic drones, while phantasmagorical scraped strings hint at a realm beyond the real. Elsewhere, Utku leans more confidently into experimental electronics on the lengthy closing track 'Chironian Wound', building a similarly nightmarish landscape from bleeping vintage oscillators and wailing harmonic bass synths. Epic stuff.
I Will Set You Free by Barry Admson, via Mute.
"Initially released in 2012, I Will Set You Free amalgamated elements of Barry’s previous work, resulting in an album that is unmistakably Barry Adamson.
Like many of Adamson’s records, the album is a genre odyssey that jumps from garage rock rock, to blues, to new-wave pop, with the adventurous brass section injecting an acid jazz touch. His overwhelming desire to examine cultural shifts and embrace them within the quest to improve oneself that often centres in Adamson’s art is clearly present in I Will Set You Free. This subsequently makes it a quintessential Barry Adamson record that fits right in with the back catalogue."
Ryoji Ikeda's latest follows a run of gallery releases, returning to the advanced frequency study of his legendary trilogy "dataplex", "Test Pattern" and "Supercodex". A lengthy, propulsive set of speaker-challenging rhythmic material, "ultrasonics" isn't what you might expect, veering from glitchy gear into industrial filth that has more in common with Skinny Puppy and Meat Beat Manifesto than Oval.
Few artists have managed to become as synonymous with a sound as Ryoji Ikeda, and on his latest release he reminds us just how much control he can exert over glitches and sine waves. The initial run of tracks on "ultrasonics" is a masterclass in the kind of Gen X-friendly hyper-digital sound that bounced around between early innovators like Carsten Nicolai, Frank Bretschneider, Oval and Mika Vainio. Lead single 'ultrasonics 01' isn't anything unexpected, just a brilliant rendition of the Ikeda process, with garbled voices, thick subs, and rattling hi-freq clicks that form uneven, even psychedelic staccato rhythms. Just like it did back in the early '00s, this music sounds lashed to our contemporary reality, a place where data dumping is now a part of out interaction with technology on almost every level. Ikeda's sounds are a vibrational reflection of both technology and our anxious contemporary philosophy - melancholy pads flutter across hyperspeed rhythms and nauseating subsonics force our brain to react to something, anything.
Things take a turn when we hit 'ultrasonics 07', and Ikeda's microscopic beats are dilated into thick, sampled EBM drums. The mood here is unexpected but not unwelcome, and while Ikeda's palette is widened, the underlying mood is coherent. 'ultrasonics 08' is another intriguing left turn, sounding like a hyper-digital approximation of Autechre's exceptional debut 'Cavity Job' (seriously - just listen). It's exciting to hear Ikeda subverting expectations like this; after years of gallery work and sound installations, his return to the album format is a place for some of his roundest productions in years. Later on, he experiments with plaintive ambience ('ultrasonics 10') and meets these textures with rapid-fire beats to realize some kind of fuzzy version of fast-paced dance music ('ultrasonics 11-13'), playing us out with glacial, minimal drones. The album plays like a retrospective of Ikeda's career that doesn't just focus on his own innovations, but the sounds of his influences too.
Know Where To Run by Barry Adamson, on Mute.
"Barry’s 2016 album, Know Where To Run, was produced by Barry himself and recorded in Brighton with Paul Pascoe, whilst WTNSS mixed and provided additional production at the legendary Dean Street Studios.
The concept behind the album emerged when Barry started taking photos during a Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds North American tour, playing with the idea of traversing different states of the human condition and different states across America. The result was an audio/visual project inspired by these pictures, with the record being presented alongside a curated photobook."
A beautiful new work for processed saz recalling Dariush Dolat Shahi’s Folkways classic, realised for Touch’s 40th anniversary celebrations at Iklektik in summer 2022 .
Working on ground prepared by ‘Arithmetic in the Dark’ (2019) and ‘Isoladrone2020’, pioneering Henry Cow member and art-pop maverick Anthony Moore presents a sensuous investigation of the saz, an instrument he’s “loved and lived with for the last six decades”, extruded thru the digital output of CSound orchestra software.
The results were meant to be performed live at Touch’s 40th anniversary gathering but Moore caught covid and recorded it at home, in preparation for playback at Iklekik. Presented as is, it awns a fine spectrum of the instrument’s tonalities and shimmering timbral properties in a keening formation that gives the impression of moving although ostensibly static, luring into eddying whorls, spiralling ascents and heavenly radiance as the 30 minute piece progresses.