One of the last ONO releases for the time being, presents the sonic aspects of an A/V installation/performance by Manchester’s SLIP-associated contemporary artist; Vitalija Glovackyte. A suitably bittersweet and unusually emotive addition to Micky Holland’s lovingly-curated label
“WE ARE FOR A WHILE is a sonic and visual tale about recycling. Offering new life to broken instruments, borrowed music and battered machines recovered from across UK’s dumpsters, seashores, alley ways and other odd places, the work is a deep-felt and jovial exploration of the forgotten and the unwanted. These material outcasts prove their own worth in sonic beauty against the more conventional instruments, making this work as much about the art of re-using as it is an ode to trash.
Originally a 50 min. multimedia perfjoamcne for acoustic instruments, found objects, live lighting and electronics, WE ARE FOR A WHILE was created for and first toured with Apartment House, as part of Vitalija Glovackyte’s 18-month residency with the group.”
Features members of OM, Holy Sons, Lilacs & Champagne, and Watter.
"At the start of 2005 Grails returned to the US from a month-long European tour. Stepping off the plane, most of the band walked in one direction and the violinist strayed off into another. It ended up being the last time most anyone would see or talk to him. A bandmate for three albums in five years had vanished only to exist in the form of vague rumors.
As the varied reports of brief encounters and sightings grew stranger and darker, the band began a series of recordings called Black Tar Prophecies. With newly liberated instrumental roles came new possibilities for the band’s sound. In this way the collected Black Tar Prophecies Vols. 1, 2, & 3 ends up being a more idiosyncratic mission statement for future Grails recordings, revealing their fondness for the ‘60s and ‘70s experimental artists that saw music as a process of discovery. A parallel was now forming between Grails and pioneering experimental bands like Faust who, rejecting their past, started over from the beginning to build new languages in music.
Black Tar Prophecies Vols. 1, 2, & 3 is a massive evolutionary step in the established Grails sound and is shrouded in change and pain. The somewhat clinical studio sound and recording style with which they had established a tremendous following has been replaced with a much more free and conceptual recording style. This method liberated the group in the studio and these recordings feel much more open, heavy, and psychedelic. This sound has always existed within Grails, but it was here that it became their identity."
More than ever, Grails' doomy krautrock experimentation is charged with a muscular, stoneage potency on pieces like 'Take Refuge' or the slow moving pentatonic riffs and Eastern instrumental flourishes that prop up on the illustratively titled 'Stoned At The Taj Again'.
The likes of 'PTSD' and '11th Hour' carry more of a pensive, atmospheric feel, with the latter fashioning a sinister, baroque mood while the former comes across as slightly less structured, but heavier on the (dare I say it) 'vibes'. Almost a polar opposite of the avant-garde gloom that colours much of this, the glistening, undistorted guitar tones and vaporous soundscaping qualities of 'Clean Living' sound lighter than air, floating on a bed of strings and pianos that hint towards discordance but never quite go that far.
Grails have delivered five great instrumental pieces - as detailed and thorough as they are unclassifiable. It's another masterful album from one of the great undiscovered bands.
Ben Frost’s impendingly gloomy soundtrack to Fortitude, comes to CD via Mute.
The Icelandic-based Australian composer is clearly the right man for this job, offering up a swell of emotive string arrangements shrouded in cold, wide electronic tones that convey the feel of the TV series thru a combination of incidental dialogue, cues and themes.
Fans of contemporary sci-fi soundtracks and the expansive electro-acoustic designs of the Subtext label, Jóhann Jóhannsson or indeed Ben Frost will be totally in their element here.
Adam Lee Milelr and Nicola Kuperus a.k.a. Adult. return with a brace of high profile guests in tow on Detroit House Guests, slotting vocals from Michael Gira, Shannon Funchess, Douglas J McCarthy, Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, Dorit Chrysler and Lun*na Menoh into their urbane electro-pop frameworks.
As such Detroit House Guest is an album full of songs, rather than pure dance tracks, albeit leaning toward a category of avant-dance-pop songwriting shared by the likes of Chris & Cosey and members-only darkrooms in private buildings that many will never visit.
The dancefloor highlights come in the form of their pumping EBM-pop stompers We Chase The Sound and Stop (And StartAgain) feat. Shannon Funchess, and the nasal drip tang of We Are A Mirror feat. the authentically snotty snarl of Nitzer Ebb’s Douglas McCarthy, but our preferred parts are reserved to the trippier pieces such as the Fever Ray-like creep and reverberant electronic tone of P rts M ss ng and This Situation’s descent into a dissonant abyss, featuring choral harmonies and modular gilding, respectively, by synth whizz Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe.
The celebrated Polish electroacoustic composer returns with a new offering for Ghostly.
The metaphysical musings of 17th Century English poet Robert Herrick form the creative impetus for Jacaszek’s first album since the Touch-released ‘Catalogue Des Arbres’ in 2014.
Inspired by reading an anthology of Herrick’s poems, particularly the song-like structure of the rhymes, the Gdansk composer revisited an archive of unreleased recordings and set about shaping them into the eleven tracks that form ‘KWIATY.’ The big difference to previous Jacaszek albums is the prominence of vocals – courtesy of Hanimal’s Hania Malarowska, Joasia Sobowiec-Jamioł and Natalia Grzebała – which lends ‘KWIATY’ an extra semblance of accessibility.
Experimental accordion player Mario Batkovic’s debut full length a captivating and resolutely unique solo album, which carelessly expands the possibilities of the accordion.
"The accordion heard as never before - a magnificently intense ocean of pulsating and shifting notes, with engrossing and mesmerising melodies which deeply grip human emotion. This release will appeal to fans of Nils Frahm, Stephen O’Malley, BEAK>, Colin Stetson and Lubomyr Melnyk."
Steeply hypnotic and tenderly textured solo guitar and loop pedal excursion from Swans’ guitarist Norman Westberg...
“A few years ago, my dear friend and bandmate Jamie Stewart and I were talking about SWANS. I started to mention how much I admired the utterly personal approach to guitar that Norman Westberg had developed on those early records and moreover how that had blossomed out so richly on this latest incarnation of the band. During the course of the conversation Jamie mentioned a CDR that Norman had passed to him, which collected a few pieces of solo work that Norman had been working on. I was instantly curious to hear these pieces and started to track down the recordings online. After some investigating I found Norman’s CDRs available through an Etsy shop he had set up. I ordered one and a couple of weeks later, after I’d listened to that first CDR non-stop for a few days, I order all the others I could get my hands on.
The first solo work I heard from Norman was this recording, Jasper Sits Out. I was instantly struck by the textural sensitivity he managed to create with nothing more than a guitar and some modest pedals. He managed to find a depth in what was a very limited palette and that impressed me greatly. The connections to his work with SWANS was clear, in that his trademark relation to tonality was present. Instead of relying on volume to achieve this sonic state though, Norman’s solo practice relied on a sense of swaying harmony and orbiting loops to create a tonally dense sound world that was very much personal, but overtly invitational to the listener.
Jasper Sits Out, the title referencing the Westberg family mascot who has now sadly departed, reflects Norman’s interest in minimal structures and the processes of iteration that are formed through the manipulation of looping fragments. Creating almost tidal surges across these pieces, Jasper Sits Out speaks to his abilities to contour sound in time. The lead track for example is truly oceanic in that is has a remarkable tidal flow of strumming textures that seem to sink below one another in a effortless wash of textural density.
I could not be more pleased to be able to share this music through Room40. This edition comes completely remastered and features a bonus piece recorded exclusively for this edition. I encourage you to listen deeply. Lawrence English, January 2017.”
A haunting debut for The Infected Mass project from Winnipeg-based composer Matthew Patton.
Long-running Montréal outpost Constellation play willing host to this haunting new project from the celebrated American composer Matthew Patton. Describing Those Who Walk Away as an "ever evolving working group of melodic constructivists," this debut album from the project finds Patton striking up a symphonic understanding with a local Winnipeg string quintet and a quartet of Iceland Symphony Orchestra players, utilising the implicit restraint and tension of their craft alongside musique concrète methods. Despite the interaction of these musicians, ‘The Infected Mass’ is clearly a very personal one for Patton and framed in honour of his brother who passed away in a plane crash.
He elects to exorcise the demons of this tragedy in a disturbing manner (a fact Patton freely admits to in the press notes) by implementing audio from black box recordings of commercial flights in distress. These appear notably on two tracks, First Partially Recollected Conversation and Second Partially Recollected Conversation, interspersed with field recordings of hushed, indecipherable hums and whispers. “This work is disturbingly personal for me. The music is filled with ghosts and artifacts I couldn't erase,” Patton notes solemnly.
Elsewhere, the obvious chi between Patton and his fellow constructivists offers an equally chilling feeling, the ‘ghost choir’ of the Iceland Symphony Orchestra expertly arranged over the calming vista of almost-silence that is opener Before the Beginning. Looking to Morton Feldman for inspiration, Patton’s usage of silence is equally as important to ‘The Infected Mass’ as the participation of the violin, cello and double bass players.
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.
First ever repress of a joyful 1979 jazz-funk slab originally issued on the splendidly titled Integrated Performance Systems International Incorporated label, now dug out by Melbourne’s Left Ear Records.
Original copies go for the price of a lovingly used small Japanese hatchback.
Little known ‘fact’: Thundercat has 15 fingers and 3 thumbs, which enables him to play all the chords, in every combination, and invent a few ones, on Drunk; his 4th album with the Brainfeeder family, featuring guest turns by Flying Lotus, Kendrick Lamar, Pharrell, Wiz Khalifa, Kamasi Washington, and Kenny bloody Loggins! It’s the closest you’ll find to ‘70s soul and jazz-fusion beyond the original thing...
“The album is a 23-track epic journey into the often hilarious, sometimes dark mind of the Grammy-winning singer/bassist and finds a few of his friends joining him along the way including: Kendrick Lamar, Pharrell, Michael McDonald, Kenny Loggins, Wiz Khalifa, Kamasi Washington and Brainfeeder mastermind Flying Lotus. “Drunk” is the follow up to his widely praised 2015 mini album “The Beyond / Where The Giants Roam”, and features fan favourite tracks ‘Bus In These Streets’ and ‘Them Changes’.
‘Show You The Way’ is the first single from “Drunk”, and the ballad features two of Thundercat’s heroes: iconic musicians Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald. And how did this collaboration come to be? Thundercat mentioned his love of Loggins several times during his press tour for “The Beyond…” (Dinner Party Download, Billboard), leading to an introduction via his keyboard player Dennis Hamm. He tells Red Bull Music Academy Daily: “These are guys that I've listened to and where I felt that I've learned that honesty in the music. Kenny Loggins is one of my favourite songwriters.” Loggins was the one that suggested bringing McDonald in on the track and, Thundercat adds: “I think one of the most beautiful moments was realising how amazing Michael McDonald is. He would go through so many ideas and have so much to offer.”
Thundercat also notes: “That song to me is about going down the rabbit hole, taking you to another place… On the edge of dark, there's the brightest light. It means a lot to me in the sense of... the experience that I've had growing up with friends and people that I've been around where it's inviting them into where I come from emotionally. Sometimes it's a pretty intense thing. The point is how weird things can get. I feel like it's very funny that, in a way, of course Michael McDonald and Kenny would be there.”
The album title, like the rest of the album, is meant to be both humorous and serious. “I’ve always tried to hold true to what Erykah Badu and Flying Lotus told me: It has to come from an honest place. I feel like it’s a place that I’ve been in different ways, seen different angles of and it’s been a bit inspirational - the drinking,” he tells RBMA Daily. “It has its ups and downs and everything, but I felt like it showed the human side of what goes on behind things, something that I see with all of my friends… I felt like it was kind of interweaved in the music culture. And it’s something that’s never talked about.”
Brilliant synth wave and noise pop record featuring Charlemagne Palestine, Kristof Hahn (Swans) and many more. Produced by John Congleton (Blondie, Sigur Ros), Greg Saunier (Deerhoof) and Angela Seo (Xiu Xiu).
"To Forget is the mighty engrossing new album from Jamie Stewart and co’s Xiu Xiu; following up Plays The Music Of Twin Peaks with a dreamily damaged set of urgent, technoid and operatic songcraft starring a fellow cast of avant stars such as legendary minimalist Charlemagne Palestine and Swans virtuoso guitarist Kristof Hahn, and all wickedly offset by vocals from LA Banjee Ball (ballroom for yungers) commentator Enyce Smith and drag artist Vaginal Davis. That may sound like there’s a possibility for too many cocks to spoil the breath, but Jamie Stewart handles his squad with visionary aplomb, resulting one of his strongest, approachably pop-wise yet fierce Xiu Xiu records, bar none.
Realised during a period of unprecedented fecundity which also resulted an album with Merzbow, an experimental reworking of the Mozart opera, The Magic Flute, and a soundtrack for Danh Vo’s art installation, To Forget binds the strongest stands of Xiu Xiu’s far-reaching output to date in a volley of succinct pop shots that alternately come off like Cold Cave meets Mykki Blanco or Scott Walker bunking off with Erasure at Matmos’ place, for comparison, yet firmly holds to a sound that can only, patently be described as Xiu Xiu’s own.
Between the record’s foot-stamping standout Wondering and the arcane melodrama of Faith, Torn Apart at its close, Stewart and team fuse and fit disparate elements and juxtapositions with an alchemical frenzy which is remarkable in itself, but might mean much less if it wasn’t all so coherent, economical and pointed with highlights such as the skulking, scalding and Suicide-like Jenny GoGo and the epic chamber noise pop of its title track and the incendiary slow slugger Queen of the Losers, with each adding up to a subversive, emotive episode whose nuance and effect will warrant many return listens."
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 legendary Prescription Records defined the 1990s deep house sound and this epic new comp holds numerous classics that have been out of press for years + previously unreleased tracks, huge tip!!
Deep house music’s most eloquent operators pull together 24 sublime examples of their timeless, widely influential oeuvre c. 1993-1997 in Prescription: Word, Sound, Power, dispensed by the kings at Rush Hour.
Hailing from the Windy City and with both feet firmly planted in Chicago’s club scene since the ‘80s, Prescription came to define house music’s transition from raw, “tracky” minimalism to a more sophisticated, layered and jazz-skooled sound with a seminal run of two dozen, now sought-after releases during its mid ‘90s golden phase - many of which are included in this very necessary box.
Consolidating house music’s Black Atlantic roots in a sensual, psychedelic way unprecedented by its peers, this era of Prescription output set the template for deep house at its most esoteric and enigmatic. Adapting the experimental recording techniques of classic dub and jazz to house music’s rolling grooves, they created an open yet cryptic template woven with vocal samples used as conscious, symbolic reference in a way which elevated the fidelity of the artform to degrees which have rarely been bettered.
Where Virgo Four and Larry Heard laid house’s deepest foundations, it was Prescription’s Ron Trent and Chez Damier, and their pals, who built those foundations into the deep house’s classic landmarks such as the body-melting Morning Factory - if you haven’t heard this at 5am on a good system and under the influence, you haven’t lived! - or the sublime, rugged tension of Ron & Chez D’s Don’t Try It and their skipping arrow Space Riddims, and especially their vocal works such as Ani’s Love Is The Message, or Noni’s Antony-esque grip on the delectable Be My.
If we’ve any gripes, they’ve missed a trick by omitting Ron N Chez’s inimitable dubs to focus almost exclusive on main or vocal mixes, but here’s hoping they’re saving that one for a rainy day in the future. But we’re not complaining; this is an invaluable document of the reasons why so many people have fallen head over heels for house music since the early ‘90s, as much as a reminder of what’s missing, or has become lost ion translation with subsequent generations.
If you’re into anything from 4-Hero to DJ Sprinkles or SND, Calibre, Call Super or Jamal Moss’s more sublime side, you owe yourself some time with this catalogue.
Shobaleader One present a suite of live versions of Squarepusher classics, drawn from his unparalleled 20 year catalogue.
You get the sense that for Tom Jenkisnon - flanked by his fantasy electro-jazz-pop unit comprising Arg Nution, Company Laser, Sten t’Mech, Strobe Nazard - has been biding his time for this one, and probably got the nudge when AFX knocked out his Computer Controlled Instruments session.
It’s basically how Squarepusher’s music might have sounded if he came of age in the ‘70s jazz fusion era that he deeply fetishises.
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.’
Special edition of one of the year’s standout releases (the limited edition new vinyl pressing comes with an Exclusive bonus CD featuring an additional 50 minutes of music - ‘for harpsichord’ and ‘for pipe organ and string trio’). Having lived with this amazing album for best part of a year, we can confidently say it’s among the strongest in its field, full of radiant joys - we urge you to make some time for it.
On her captivating 4th solo album, Montreal’s Sarah Davachi - highly regarded for her majestic, coruscating synth compositions - divides her attentions equally between a purely instrumental palette of strings, piano, voice and organ with an enveloping, often ecstatic and mystic effect recalling Áine O’Dwyer’s recent Locusts wonder as much as Ellen Fullman’s works for long stringed instruments. We're completely blown away by it.
Rather than mining ancient synth hardware for its unique tones, in All My Circles Run, Davachi applies the same exploratory approach to acoustic instruments with glacially tense results that quietly light up the liminal borderland between the spheres of electronic and acoustic practice when contrasted with her previous recordings. As the title suggests, you can consider these new pieces as discrete strands in a sort of diffracted spectral venn diagram of her sound.
The results will ring true with anyone who has heard her previous releases, while also offering another perspective on her tonal ontology, pin-pointing her acute feel for pealing, plangent overtones in For Strings, which opens out with a raw beauty and scale reaching heights vaguely reminiscent of Áine O’Dwyer’s recent LPs, or by Charlemagne Palestine for that matter, whereas For Voice is a deeply sober, sombre piece again precisely focussed on those fluttering points where consonance/dissonance are near indistinguishable.
The solo piano piece, Chanter follows that slope into lower tones, slowing the heart rate to the point where we can almost perceive the notes as gauzy, keening and candle-flickering blurs, before her sound starts to coalesce in lustrous, upward facing drone in For Organ, burning with a quiet optimism which is sublimated into the exceptional parting passage of For Piano, where the pensile strings, gently cascading keys, and floating organ ebb and flow with a magic intensity redolent of an imagined, smudged meditation by Emahoy Tsegué-Mariam Guèbru and Pauline Oliveros.
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.
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.”
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."