Ultraísta, aka Joey Waronker, Laura Bettinson and Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich reyurn with a 2nd album.
“It’s a collection that defies easy categorization, and one that proves that Ultraísta — GRAMMY-winning producer/engineer/musician Nigel Godrich, best known for his two decades helming Radiohead’s groundbreaking studio output; celebrated drummer Joey Waronker, who’s toured and recorded with everyone from R.E.M. and Beck to Roger Waters and Elliott Smith; and singer Bettinson, an acclaimed solo artist whose work combines synth-driven electropop and dreamy vocal looping — is far more than just the sum of its remarkable parts.”
Espers’ self-titled first release appeared in 2004, heralding an era in which there was a perception of back-to-the-roots in the underground; kids making new music that spoke strongly of folk traditions and psychedelia, in the process setting themselves apart from latter-day sounds and approaches.
"Espers didn’t shy away from this image, projecting a collective air, almost like a rural outpost, out of time and place in the urban environs of Philadelphia. The staid harmonies of Meg Baird and Greg Weeks, the 6- and 12-string guitars and percussion of Brooke Sietinsons, the full-bodied arrangements rife with traditional and classical details and the regular intervention of acid-toned guitar leads formed, along with the mystic and melancholy cast to their songwriting, a galvanizing identity for them among other like-minded music players of the day."
The second Espers album, ‘The Weed Tree’, was released in 2005.
"It was a nearly inevitable endeavour for the group, made almost entirely of cover material but the traditional folk songs - ‘Rosemary Lane’ and ‘Black Is the Color’ - were paired with songs by Nico, Michael Hurley and even Blue Oyster Cult, making for an oblique run through eclectic aspects of the past that succeeded due to Espers’ thorough re-imagining of the material in their own image. The addition of current members Helen Espvall on cello and Otto Hauser on drums and percussion upped the alchemy of the band to its most potent, making music that drew from tradition but making it new at the same time.
Espers, existing in between places, were a part of a flow of ideation that has as much to do with revelations from the 70s or 60s - with all the decades of the last century, really - as it does with the current expressions in favour of selfhood and safety that are struggled over today. Their music has retained a mysterious, unknowable vitality that, in the name of their original intention, continues to express Espers’ individualism, optimism and deeply empathetic soul."
Radiant fusion of motorik polyrhythms with strings and electronics in a systems-based music, think Don’t DJ meets Four Tet
“Free-thinking Nova Scotia composer, musician and visual artist Jay Crocker (aka JOYFULTALK) channels Minimalism, Japanese environmental music, Maghrebian rhythmic modes and other numinous folkways to create his most focused, vibrant work to date. Based on a monumental, kaleidoscopic graphic score, A Separation Of Being is translated from two-dimensional page to trans-dimensional aural life using an array of homemade instruments, crowned with a majestic string arrangement written by Crocker and performed by Polaris and Juno winner Jesse Zubot (Tanya Tagaq, Destroyer).
Visual scores often provoke ideas of openness, interpretation, improv and fluidity. JOYFULTALK’s third album, and second for Constellation, is an altogether different beast. This three-part suite is airtight; interlocking arcs of polyrhythmic deep groove and new minimalism roll out in spellbinding propulsion, the music gathering its warmth from the strings and its peculiarities from Crocker’s bespoke instrumentation and analog clockworks. The separation of being here is not division or rupture, but buoyant freedom through conduction of circulatory energies, marked by flowing melodic rondos of gyrating strings and sonic pointillism. A Separation Of Being is a systems music feast for the heart and mind.”
‘The Crying Space’ is a gorgeous suite of collaged sound art from 1990/1991 by Danish Fluxus artist Eric Andersen, finding a beautifully sympathetic ear with Sean McCann’s Recital where it slots among their singularly poetic works by RIP Hayman, Geoffrey Hendricks, Anne Tardos, Sarah Davachi
“"The Crying Space holds music and sounds to spawn tears. This double-CD is comprised of two sound pieces by the Fluxus artist Eric Andersen (b. Denmark, 1940). The first CD, Le Chemin Des Larmes, is a sound collage made for French radio broadcast in 1990. Fragile narrations in French and English by the artist and other voice actors, played over a streaming assemblage of tragic classical music. The sound crying, that of a professional Karelian mourner, is infused periodically. The texts describe the social and scientific nature of tears, in the context of Andersen's worldwide 'Crying Space' installations, which the artist describes in detail:
'The first Crying Spaces were made in Holland, England and Scandinavia in 1959/60. They were made quite simple by drawing a circle on the ground and to step inside to Cry. Crying is the only means of human communication that cannot be decoded and interpreted with certainty. You can observe a person Crying but can never determine why without additional information. It could be sadness, joy, pain, exhaustion, pleasure, relief or a particle of dust in the eye. However, if you analyze the hormones and crystals in each tear, you can with scientific certainty declare the specific reason for that particular Crying session. After innumerable Crying Spaces all over the world I had an offer to work with the famous marble from the notorious town of Guilietta and Romeo, Verona, Italy. The Verona Rosso. The editor Francesco Conz from Verona offered to publish an edition in Verona Rosso. Here, I found the opportunity to materialize the old Greek saying that the most fragile and ephemeral part of the human body, The Tears, eventually will change and shape the most solid parts of the world. The Crying Stone saw the light of the Day. Unfortunately not in an edition of seven billions (one for each inhabitant of Earth) but in a number of 19. For each stone a most elegant wooden box in mahogany was made. In this way you could travel with your Crying Stone and have it handy for all occasions.'
The second CD, The Crying Place, is the soundtrack to installations at Emily Harvey Foundation in 1990 and Galerie J & J Donguy in 1991. Scarce cassette editions were made for these exhibitions. This is a 30-minute complete recording of a professional mourner as they cry and holler in sympathetic pain. The crying becomes songlike, as the weeping modulates and ebbs." --Sean McCann
Gorgeous sophomore LP of gothic folk from Hilary Woods, aka erstwhile bassist with JJ72. Really strong Lynchian vibes on this one - aided by exceptionally dank and creaking production by Lasse Marhaug.
That mention of JJ72 may well jog the memory of anyone who frequented indie clubs in the late ‘90s/early ’00s, but we assure you that Hilary’s solo sound is far removed from JJ27’s spunky indie-pop and more in line with a tradition of etheric Irish songcraft that also resonates with the work of Susanna. Fittingly for that reference at least, Hilary worked with Norwegian producer Lasse Marhaug to achieve the album’s beautifully pensive tone and feeling of stark vulnerability.
“Hilary Woods’ Birthmarks has been a labor of intensity and intuition, written over the course of two years. Recorded whilst heavily pregnant between Galway and Oslo in the winter of 2019, Woods explores the oscillating and volatile processes of selfhood and becoming, hidden gestational growth, and the birthing of the Self, amidst continuous social and personal change.
Birthmarks is a record that hunts for ways in which to revisit and caress wounds left by the memory of their scars. In its mystery and attentiveness to the art of alchemy and the world of the unseen, it is a journey through textural fog and feral density that gives way to passages of voracious sonic exorcism and poetic healing. Its eight songs traverse planes of visceral physicality, stark tender space, and breathtaking introspective beauty.
Spurred on and crafted by the impulse to create a more corporeal sonic tendon for her songs to inhabit, Woods took her vision and home recordings to Norwegian experimental noise producer and filmmaker Lasse Marhaug. The collaboration proved rare and fruitful and lies at the heart of this record. Field recordings, analogue bass synthesizers, hushed vocals, and the breath are underpinned with heavy noise processing, fierce and wide cello, rich percussion, sable saxophone, and electronics.
Birthmarks is inspired and informed by ideas of inner transmutation in the face of anxiety, post-war Japanese and wet-plate photography, early music, the secret life of trees, wolves, drone, the drawings of Francis Bacon, the images of Francesca Woodman, the films of Chris Marker, the experiential collapse of community, and the power of the lone human voice. It is a deeply powerful and enigmatic record that ultimately transcends its disquiet roots.”
New album of melodic jackers, swingers, downbeats and ambient interludes by Kieran Hebden’s Four Tet
Four Tet’s music is a perhaps too-easy-to-understand yet still a perplexing perennial concern. With ’Sixteen Ocean’ he reels off 10 tracks of signature, lilting rhythmelodic cadence at an unhurried pace, including his ‘Teenage Birdsong’ tune. Nice surprise on the D side as well.
One of the strongest debut albums we've heard in years, Nazar’s ‘Guerrilla’ is a record about the Angolan civil war that we reckon will come to be one of the defining albums of 2020
Relaying the tragedy and terror of his family’s experience of war, Nazar uses a highly distinctive sound design palette and manacled grasp of what he calls “rough kuduro” rhythms to bring listeners deep into his mindset. While essentially impressionistic, Nazar vividly dramatises the theatre of war in a way that’s perhaps needless to say, authentic; drawing on his parents’ first-hand accounts and his own familiarity of the war’s aftermath, including his Rank General father’s writings and his mother’s oral recollections, to supply a shocking record that doesn’t shirk from the gore and adrenaline, while acknowledging sensations of blissed relief and optimism amid its scrambled con-fusion of feelings.
As previewed in 2018’s remarkable ‘Enclave’ EP, Nazar’s singular sound naturally bears a strong relationship to the Kuduro futurism of artists on Lisbon’s Príncipe label, however his use of cinematic tropes and a visionary style of narrative arrangement distinguishes his sound in its own lane. Setting the scene with the resigned negative ecstasy of ‘Retaliation’, Nazar becomes a physical presence via his vocal duet with Shannen SP, who returns from the ‘Enclave’ EP to supply icy gynoid vox to his blunted rap in ‘Bunker’, before lead single ‘UN Sanctions’ comes off like Klein’s hauntological elegies taken to the club, and the thrilling kuduro skirmish ’Immortal’ gives way to the contrasting, blissed succour of ‘Mother’ at the LP’s heart. But that relief is short-lived as the album’s final section stakes its message brutally clearly in the end scenes, running between his ravenous ‘Arms Deal’ to the schizzy but exactingly disciplined trample of ‘Why’, and the triumphant yet heartbroken denouement in ‘End Of Guerrilla’.
Where Burial somehow bridged a sort of maudlin vibe with still glowing embers of UK dance music in a style that became known as hauntology, Nazar follows to use a similar technique to distill and connote the pathology of war and its aftermath in a way that’s equally vital as a timeless expression of contemporary concerns on how the past plays out in the present day.
Virulent highlife-soukous party starters from the Congo via Nigeria - big on ‘70s Nigerian dancefloors and still big with the legendary Picos sound systems of Colombia’s Cartagena and Barranquilla carnivals
“Since the 60s, Congolese guitar combos and orchestras have always been popular across West and Central Africa. But the ‘natural fit’ element between East Nigerian Igbo highlife and Congolese rumba and soukous made for a unique beat: highlife-soukous.
Although eclipsed internationally by Lagos, Yoruba, Fela Kuti and Afrobeat, it was highlife- soukous that you’d hear at parties all over southern Nigeria in the late 70s and early 80s.
Outside Africa, the sound proved a special favourite with Colombia’s Carnival Champeta and Pico Sound system DJs – where, even today, you can hear super-rare Bota International original vinyls booming out over 20-foot-high speaker stacks along Colombia’s Caribbean coast, the records being ‘covered up’ in the style of British Northern Soul 45s, or reggae sound system dubplates, so that competitors can’t discover the name of the tune or band.
Welcome to the mysterious world of highlife-soukous – and Bota Tabansi International.”
Rrose & Silent Servant corral a wealth of exclusive, unreleased avant-garde, experimental electronics in their instalment for the ambient-leaning ‘Air Texture’ series, including exclusive tracks on the vinyl by Laurel Halo, Anthony Child aka Surgeon, Not Waving, Charlemagne Palestine, Luke Slater, Phase Fatale, Function, Octo Octa plus Rrose and Silent Servant themselves (and a tonne more on the digital versions)...
Running to nearly 2.5 hours of music on the CD and digital versions (the vinyl includes 12 tracks), the set sweeps across decades and continents with a variegated spectra of music by 26 artists ranging from the influential Maggi Payne to the enigmatic Abul Mogard and lesser known figures. It’s all sequenced in a way that highlights their mutualities and diverse idiosyncrasies and makes for a quietly absorbing listen riddled with surprises.
As you might expect, there’s a number of ambient/atmopsheric works by prominent techno producers, including the modular explorations of Anthony Child (Surgeon), the pulsating beatless arps of Phase Fatale’s ‘Nightmare in LA’, the petrol-stained tone of ‘Psychic Harms of Economic Deprivation’ by Ron Morelli, and naturally Rrose’s hypnotic smudge of James Fei’s ‘For Bass Clarinet 8.97’, along with a piece of splashy breaks-driven ambient bleeps by Luke Slater, and the floating step of Silent Servant’s ‘New World’.
But some of the strongest parts come by those who’ve longer worked in experimental realms, including the Medieval sounding ambient inquisition of Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe’s ‘8th Continent in 5 Dimensions’, a smart and subtle contrast between pioneering synthesist Maggi Payne’s rugged space music and Lucrecia Dalt’s more tactile, introspective strokes, and the heady expressions of Laurel Halo’s lysergic sphere ‘Dies Ist Ein’ or AGF’s haunting choral chamber work ‘HUM-ILITY’, and the nagging pulses of Laetitia Sonami.
Eleh's cultishly celebrated trio of LPs for Taiga released between 2008 - 2012, here remastered and collected on digital format for the first time.
Certain pedants would probably scoff at the fact this incredibly pure analog music is now available to download but, we're not among them and reckon it's a crucial entry point for anyone intrigued but as yet unwilling to make the dive. They're some of thee heaviest pieces of minimalist electronic music from the last decade, and we don't say that lightly. Strongly recommended if you like Eliane Radigue, Phill Niblock, Sunn 0))).
NYC-based shapeshifters Georgia do it loose and freaky for Andy Lyster’s Youth label with an 80 minute mosaic of worldly, rhythmelodic inspirations and psychedelic electronics.
Following a haul of prime material releasedover the past 12 months with everyone from Firecracker and Ekster to Métron Records, the duo of Brian Close and Justin Tripp aka Georgia really suit the playthru CD format of ‘One Mind’ with a showcase of hypnotic, psychedelic styles that really takes a grip with extended, immersive listens.
The 15 tracks are haphazard and frazzled examples of Georgia’s pointed take on upending western electronic convention with non-standard scales and rhythms. Whether trading in wilfully oblique modular electronics or following club-ready hunches, they always prize a sense of playfulness. Knotty, nutty modular flux in ‘Fifthda’ shares space with wigged-out, ceremonial processions such as ‘Window 8’ and mutations in ‘New Force’, along with sizzling mixes of thumb pianos and synthesised voices recalling Paul DeMarinis’ ‘Songs Without Throats’ on ‘Baiala Ghalic’, and Iueke-style dancehall warpers such as ‘City Floral’.
And on a more ruffneck flex, the sluggin’ slow-fast bogle of ‘Laca Ja’ shares a rudeness in common with the gruff prang of ’Smart Stance’, but they’re at best when doing it colourfully and psychedelic, as with the fractal flow of ‘Day To’, and when it all comes together like Senyawa sparring Foodman on ‘Vision Zero’.
Originally released in November 1981 on Les Disques du Crepuscule, Hommages was recorded in Leicester in February 1981 and produced by noted Belgian new music composer Wim Mertens. The album was conceived as a series of diverse homages to other composers, which include Bill Evans (My First Homage), Ferruccio Busoni and Gustav Holst (The English Mail-Coach and The Vespertine Park) and Percy Grainger (Hi-Tremolo).
The earliest of the pieces here (appropriately titled 'My First Homage') was penned in 1978 for a performance at The Kitchen in New York as a tribute to the work of jazz pianist Bill Evans, and features some beautiful harmonic exchanges across its captivating quarter-hour duration. Both 'The English Mail-Coach' and the quite stunningly beautiful piano and percussion of 'The Vespertine Park' were inspired by Ferruccio Busoni, and you can hear a certain neo-classical approach in these works, although they remain firmly rooted in the 20th century.
Significantly, this remastered edition of the album includes two bonus recordings: 'Out Of Zalieski's Gazebo' and 'Danse Dieppoise', both compositions drawn from the same period of Bryars' work.
Stunning, previously unheard chapter in the saga of Igor Wakhevitch, a close peer and associate of everyone from Pierre Henry to Yves Saint-Laurent and Pink Floyd, one of the first composers of his generation to make use of Moog, Synthi AKS and ARP synthesizers. responsible for some of the most remarkable synth music known to humankind.
Among the key, pioneering ‘70s artists who brought an epic sense of poetry to the language of avant-garde synth and concrete music which emerged in the ‘60s, Wakhevitch is hailed as a cult figure for his string of classic albums including ‘Logos’, ‘Docteur Faust’, and ‘Let’s Start’ between 1970-1979, as well as production for Terry Riley, and on Salvador Dalí’s opera, ‘Être Dieu’ (‘To Be God’). Most beautifully, he opened up synth music’s 3rd eye to heavy inspiration from Hindu classical music and schools of thought, leading him to spend 30 years in India prior to the construction of this, a masterful chapter in his visionary canon.
‘Kshatyra [The Eye of the Bird]’ is a remarkable, much later work, recorded in the late 90’s on Wakhevitch’s custom Mysterious Island 88 system, and later edited for this release last year. It came to Wakhevitch as a means of mediating and reconciling his ontology (the grandson to victims of the Shoah) and his knowledge of Hindu symbolism, making use of ancient Indian classical modes and the Far Eastern-influenced styles of Jean Claude-Eloy, consistently conjuring heady modes of listening, hypnotic and transcendent, that subliminally yet potently light up the subconscious.
In eight parts he navigates a journey from celestial melody through spirit-engulfing, widescreen black hole synth dimensions and glistening visions of the sublime, before seeming to collapse the firmament into the earth and vice-versa in the chapter’s glorious, durational finale brimming with elegiac church bells, sky-scorching synths and deep abstractions.
Long a cult figure to diggers and listeners in the know, the praise and admiration for Wakhevitch’s music (by everyone from Demdike Stare to Andy Votel and the GRM’s Jonathan Fitoussi) is proportionally inverse to the availability of his music, which remains all too hard to come by. This new album is crucial as a portal to worlds unheard, and a startling introduction for many to one of the most quietly important figures in electronic music.
A live document of a performance by TG to a small and invited audience on 16 February 1980. Neither an insight into TG’s recording process nor private live show, Heathen Earth is it’s own entity and exists as a document and testament to a group of people at the height of their creative powers, recorded just over a year before they disbanded and terminated the mission.
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.
Adventurous, infectious sets of soul-fired jazz from Joe McPhee and the Decoy trio of Steve Noble, John Edwards and Alexander Hawkins, recorded in May 2019 at London’s Cafe Oto
“In the eight years between the recordings which make up AC/DC and their last release Spontaneous Combustion (ROKU 002CD, 2014), Decoy and each of its members have been practicing individually at the very top of their form. Coming together again in such celebratory circumstances and in the good company of a fantastic crowd set the scene for a very special night. As they begin, Alexander Hawkins casts a needling surface between his Hammond organ and John Edwards's loose splatters and slaps of low-end bass. McPhee skitters over them with his pocket trumpet by way of introduction; Steve Noble strikes his rims in anticipation.
The first set sees moments of frenetic free jazz peel off into weirdo soul territory and when switched to saxophone halfway through, McPhee's romantic lyricism is utterly beautiful. When a groove sets in, Hawkins's B3 ascension in harmony with an ever-powerful Edwards-Noble rhythm section sees the room thicken and swirl to the point of giddiness. There is one unreal part at 22:22 where we're sure you can hear Edwards's bass vocalizing. Regrouped for a second set, Steve Noble's metallic textures meld with detuned arco bass to create an unholy atmosphere, ripe for Hawkins to play out the eerier end of the Hammond. When McPhee sounds a sax motif the band catches it quickly and it's soon wickedly morphed and stretched by each player, recurring to absurdity in a stoned-out funk free for all. The whole recording bleeds enthusiasm and joyful imagination and is a brilliant document of an unforgettable evening. Decoy are a limitless band who play nowhere near enough.”
10 tonne heavy anthology of African Head Charge’s dub mutations spanning 2 decades
Picking up where 2016’s ‘Environmental Holes & Drastic Tracks’ left off, ‘Drumming Is A Language 1990 - 2011’ takes African Head Charge’s 1990 masterpiece ‘Songs of Praise’ as the starting point for this set, charting the band’s actions thru ‘In Pursuit of Shashamane’ (1993), ‘Vision of A Psychedelic Africa’ (2005), and ‘Voodoo of the Godsend’ (2011) along with a bonus disc ‘Churchical Chant of the Iyabinghi’ cramming 10 previously unreleased version mixes of their 1990 + 1993 albums.
Serving a 73 piece menu over five courses, it’s all more than enough to keep even the baddest case of dub munchies sated. Fans will already be well familiar with the original albums, but in case you don’t know, ‘Songs of Praise’ is a real beauty that really sounded like little else at the time, and pushed dub in fantastic new angles in key with the explorative spirit of 1990. Likewise its follow-up resonated with this phase shift between analogue/digital and old/new worlds, and it’s these two albums that provide the rich source material on the bonus disc of version, resulting highlights in their enchanted take on ‘Peace and Happiness’, the hypnotic slow march of ‘Dub For The Spirits’, and the trampling psychoactive mash of ‘Learned’.
Becoming Peter Ivers tells the story of the late Peter Ivers, a virtuosic songwriter and musician whose antics bridged not just 60s counterculture and New Wave music but also film, theater, and music television. This is the first Peter Ivers compilation, collecting 25 songs from over 500 reels and cassettes and an incredible amount of unseen ephemera, a fraction of which is included in the artwork.
"Written and recorded in Los Angeles in the mid-to-late-1970s, Becoming Peter Ivers raises the curtain on this mischievous master of ceremonies, who, harmonica in hand, rarely missed a chance to light up an audience. Since his untimely death in 1983, Ivers’ short but storied life has been the subject of much research and remembrance. Becoming Peter Ivers is the most expansive effort yet to collect his archival recordings.
“Demos are often better than records,” Ivers wrote. “More energy, more soul, more guts.” The statement anticipates the appearance of Becoming Peter Ivers, which was assembled from a trove of demo cassettes and reel-to-reel tapes that Ivers recorded variously at his home in Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles, and Hollywood studios for a pair of major label albums in 1974 and 1976. While the two commercially released albums feature the resources of session musicians and state-of-the-art studio detail, Becoming Peter Ivers highlights the private moments of Ivers’ musical energy, frequently pared down to piano, drum machine, harmonica, and Peter’s ageless voice.
Though technically not Ivers’ debut album (in 1969 Epic Records released Knight Of The Blue Communion, Peter’s psychedelic jazz odyssey of sorts), Terminal Love was the A&R brainchild of music legend Van Dyke Parks. Already a masterful harmonica player (respectively mentored by blues legend Little Walter and jazz bassist Buell Neidlinger while he was a student at Harvard in the late 60s), Ivers wove his harp melodies through the sensuously colored but unconventionally arranged pop compositions of Terminal Love and its self-titled follow up, which, like the New York Dolls at the same time, explored the libidinous, ironic, and artful possibilities of the rock template.
A studious artist, Ivers recorded hundreds of writing and rehearsal sessions onto reel-toreel and cassette tapes, but notes were either scarcely kept or have since been lost. RVNG Intl. collaborated with Ivers’ longtime friend and supporter Steven Martin, as well as his lifelong companion Lucy Fisher, to tell an intimate story of Peter’s creative journey through this untold music. The collection includes tracks that recurred in Ivers’ ouvre over the years; “Alpha Centauri,” “Eighteen And Dreaming,” “Miraculous Weekend.” And, of course, “In Heaven” – the song co-written with David Lynch and commissioned by the filmmaker to be featured in a now-iconic scene of Eraserhead. An accomplished Yogi by the late 70s, Ivers was as spiritual as he was playful. Accentuated by his cherubic face and compact height, Ivers’ vitality and curiosity became a part of his poetic sensibility, a quality that also characterizes his singing voice. Fisher remembers Ivers calling his days holed up in the studio as “snowy days,” as if he had been cut from school and let free to roam on his own. “No one knows what Peter Ivers does on a snowy day,” he would say.
In 1980, Ivers became involved with the Los Angeles-area public access show New Wave Theatre, serving as its host and paternal misfit. Ivers would introduce a new generation of groups like Fear, Dead Kennedys, and Suburban Lawns while playing a kind-of “straight” man, deliberately baiting the punks with square questions and frocked fashion. His signature question to guests was delivered deadpan: “What is the meaning of life?” Ivers died, tragically, the victim of a violent homicide in 1983 that remains unsolved. A shock to his community, his death all but fazed the LAPD, who treated the investigation with less than minimum care. A labor of love that took RVNG Intl. over five years to complete, Becoming Peter Ivers re-frames Peter’s music as the centerpiece of his captivating story, concentrating on the work he made during his numerous retreats into art, or, as he put it, during his snowy days. Available as a double LP, CD, and digitally, Becoming Peter Ivers includes liner notes by Sam Lefebvre and Steven Martin and an array of unseen ephemera from Peter’s life and times."
Mark Nelson's Pan American beautifully drifts into a sunset sound referencing his classic Labradford output on ‘A Son’, his first new album since start of the decade., RIYL Spacemen 3, Mark Lanegan, Bark Psychosis...
Now a duo revolving original member Mark Nelson of Labradford esteem, and percussionist Steven Hess, whose solo work and with the likes of Sylvain Chaveau and Michael Valera is well loved over here, Pan American return to their post-rock roots with suitably brooding results that sound to these ears like a long evening spent porchside sipping an unending and always chilled glass of whiskey.
Dwelling on acoustic strums and murmuring electronic textures, the music hits a fine vein of ambient post-rock sensitivity that gauzily looks back to that time before the retroactivation of new age and 4th world ambient styles, to a sort of pre-2008 Americana ennui and indie alt.rock that used to be dominant but has lost its grip over the past decade.
“Motivated by notions of "moving backward" and tracing roots – as well as a couple years of hammered dulcimer lessons – the album's nine songs were written and recorded in his home in Evanston, Illinois, and honed during a recent solo tour in Europe. The emphasis on uncluttered arrangements and the centrality of the guitar and vocals reveal these songs as the most direct and emotional statement of his career.
Nelson cites everything from June Tabor, The Carter Family, Suicide and Jimmy Reed as oblique inspirations, though his truest muse was creative self-inquiry: "What does music do, Where does music start? How simple can it be? How honest can it be?"
After decades of mining post-rock pathways and latticework electronics in Labradford and early Pan American, A Son strips away ornament and distraction in favor of a direct gaze into the heart of what is.”
Landing at the start of a new decade, after much had happened in both producer Ivo Watts-Russell’s life and with his 4AD label, the fi nal part of the This Mortal Coil trilogy, Blood (1991), felt like a perfect conclusion. Meticulously orchestrated, vocalists Alison Limerick, Deirdre and Louise Rutkowski return from the second album with Caroline Crawley (Shelleyan Orphan / Babacar) and 4AD signees Heidi Berry, Kim Deal (Pixies / The Breeders), Tanya Donelly (Throwing Muses / The Breeders / Belly) and Pieter Nooten all signed up.
This Mortal Coil's final studio album is a classic; considerably more controlled and condensed than its wonderful predecessor, Filigree & Shadow, it's aged more elegantly, sounding very much a record of the 90s (it was recorded than '91) than of the previous decade. It's perhaps the most obviously feminine TMC record: Ivo Watts-Russell, presiding once more over the general vibe of love smashed on a rock, relies largely on female vocalists - with the veteran Rutkowski sisters joined by Creation chanteuse Heidi Berry, Shelleyan Orphan's Caroline Crawley, Anne Garrigues, The Venomettes' Gini Ball, Alison Limerick, and Kim Deal and Tanya Donelly of then recent 4AD signings Pixies and Throwing Muses respectively.
It's also the most covers-heavy LP that the collective ever cut, with transformative versions of folk-rock and psych classics by Chris Bell, Gene Clark, Syd Barrett, Emmylou Harris, Spirit and The Byrds, as well as treatments of more contemporary songs by The Apartments, Rain Parade, Pieter Nooten and Mary Margaret O'Hara. Supremely gothic original 'The Lacemaker' - a haunting, weightless coming together of chamber strings, Badalamenti-esque synth pads and heavily reverbed, Ophelia-ish vocals warning that "dreams are like water, colourless and dangerous" - sets the sombre tone. It's tracks like this, and the atonal ambient spiritual of 'Andialu', that will probably appeal most to contemporary heads curious as to why, for example, the likes of Tropic of Cancer and Raime have pledged their allegiance to TMC, but it's the songs - those big, grandstanding ballads cat in gossamer-thin, minimalist arrangements - that stay with you longest.
The Heidi Berry-vocalled 'Til I Gain Control Again' is simply heart-stopping, while 'Bitter' anticipates the mournful, dub-infused trip-hop balladry that Massive Attack would make their own over the course of the 90s, and 'D.D. and E.' could easily be mistaken for something made by Julia Holter today. By some way the most subtle, and most refined, of TMC's albums, Blood is also the one to have benefited most from remastering - if you've not heard it before, or just you just need reminding of how good it is, it's your time.
The anticipated seventh album by U.S. Girls, the protean musical enterprise of multi-disciplinary artist Meg Remy.
"While Remy has been widely acclaimed for a panoply of closely observed character studies, on Heavy Light she turns inward, recounting personal narratives to create a deeply introspective about-face. The songs are an inquest into the melancholy flavour of hindsight, both personal and cultural. Remy makes this notion formally explicit with the inclusion of three re-worked, previously released songs: ‘Statehouse (It’s A Man’s World)’, ‘Red Ford Radio’, and ‘Overtime’, the latter of which is released today as Heavy Light’s lead single. Its companion video, which stars Andrea Nann of the Dreamwalker Dance Company, was created by Remy.
Heavy Light follows 2018’s internationally critically-acclaimed breakout album In A Poem Unlimited. Recently named one of the best albums of the decade by Pitchfork, it was lauded across the pond by the likes of The Guardian, The Sunday Times, Crack and Q magazine for being Remy’s most accessible record in her then decade-long career.
Heavy Light is produced by Remy and was recorded live with 20 session musicians - including E Street Band saxophonist Jake Clemons - in Montreal’s acclaimed Hotel 2 Tango studio. Remy worked with co-writers Basia Bulat and Rich Morel to develop the core of Heavy Light, a set of songs conceived as a balance between orchestral percussion (as richly arranged by percussionist Ed Squires) and the human voice (conducted by Kritty Uranowski). The resulting album finds Remy casting herself as lead voice among a harmonious multitude, the singers of which lend not only their voices, but also share reflections on childhood experiences that are collaged into moving spoken word interludes throughout the album. The album is mixed by long-time collaborators Maximilian ‘Twig’ Turnbull, Steve Chahley and Tony Price."
Barely-there but riveting, Akio Suzuki’s seminal 1980 debut of improvisations on the self-created ‘Analapos’ instrument resurface on a first time reissue with Room 40. Very much in a vein of ultra-minimalist recording shared with Aki Onda, who also interviews Suzuki in the accompanying booklet (CD Only)
“In 1979, Akio Suzuki recorded a performance, ’New Sense Of Hearing’, at the Nagoya American Centre. During the performance, Suzuki used voice, turntables, glass harmonica and his self-designed instrument the Analapos to create a series of improvised pieces that effectively charted out his sonic investigations for the proceeding decades.
In 1980 these recordings were issued by ALM records as Analapos, the first work made publicly available by Akio Suzuki.
For going on six decades now, Akio Suzuki has been responsible for creating amongst the most otherworldly, yet deeply affective sound works of his generation. As a musician, sculptor and sound artist, Suzuki’s work threads an important linkage between Eastern and Western sound art practices. His approaches, that focus primarily on intense states of listening, ’throwing and following’ and a relentless sense of open curiosity, have allowed him to continuously deepen his work.
Originally published in an edition of just 200 copies in 1980, Analapos has been out of print literally since its release. Clocking in an over an hour, the original pressing of the recordings to a single LP, presented some technical limitations.
This 40th anniversary edition of Analapos is entirely remastered and is published with a booklet that includes a long form interview with Akio Suzuki conducted by sound artist and collaborator Aki Onda, plus extensive photographic documentation of the development of the Analapos. The publication of this edition is announced in conjunction with the Sense Of Ekō retrospective exhibition which opens at The Substation in Melbourne late January.”
Minimal techno blue blood Pantha Du Prince explores modern classical and non-western modes of composition alongside signature, purring bass rhythms in his first album since 2017.
Far more biased toward non-dancefloor styles than any of his previous LPs, PDP’s ‘Conference of Trees’ was written for five piece ensemble as the soundtrack to an A/V work of the same name. It’s intended to give life to the unheard communication of trees, and as such comprises the most organic-sounding of PDP’s releases, which stretch back into the heyday of ‘00s minimal techno.
Where the energy of that era has dissipated, PDP looks to the natural world for conceptual inspiration with lovely, serene results that that unfurl in arcing narrative transition from just intonation-tuned strings thru sloshing, gamelan-like percussion to, around the half way mark, lissom bass rhythms that carry his vocals and increasingly elusive vibes into elegantly offset sorts of forrk-techno set dances for whoever it is that still listens to this stuff in 2020.
Stephen Malkmus returns with his new album, Traditional Techniques.
"Traditional Techniques, Malkmus’ third solo LP without the Jicks (or Pavement), is new phase folk music for new phase folks, with Malkmus as attuned as ever to the rhythms of the ever-evolving lingual slipstream. It’s packed with handmade arrangements, modern folklore, and 10 songs written and performed in his singular voice. An adventurous new album in an instantly familiar mode, Traditional Techniques creates a serendipitous trilogy with the loose fuzz of the Jicks’ Sparkle Hard (2018) and the solo bedroom experiments of Groove Denied (2019). Taken together, these three very different full-lengths in three years highlight an ever-curious songwriter committed to finding untouched territory.
Malkmus took on Traditional Techniques as a kind of self-dare. Conceived while recording Sparkle Hard at Portland’s Halfling Studio, Malkmus had observed the variety of acoustic instruments available for use. The idea escalated within a matter of weeks into a full set of songs, and shortly thereafter into a realized and fully committed album. When he returned to Halfling, Malkmus drew from a whole new musical palette--including a variety of Afghani instruments - to support an ache both quizzical and contemporary. The resulting Traditional Techniques is expansive and thrilling. Alongside gorgeous folk music, there are also occasional bursts of flute-laced swagger, straight-up commune rock (“Xian Man”), and mind-bending fuzz."
When the band Trees Speak, coming out of nowhere, released an exclusive one-off 100-pressing white label 45, described as Can/Neu! meets Liquid Liquid, it sold out so quickly (in less than 30 minutes) that Soul Jazz Records decided to release their album almost immediately.
"Soul Jazz Records rarely release new music but found the music of Trees Speak’s album ‘Ohms’ so stunning and to have so many elements of music that they admired that they felt compelled to release it. The group Trees Speak are from Tucson, Arizona and create new music that sounds like German Krautrock meets no wave/post-punk and psych rock - music for fans of Cluster, Tangerine Dream, Can, Neu!, Silver Apples and early Kraftwerk.
The album ‘Ohms’ sounds at times like a tripped out and moody John Carpenter/Goblin/Morricone soundtrack that seamlessly segues into propulsive, ‘motorik’ Krautrock instrumentals loaded with fuzzy, hypnotic mellotron, synths and analogue effects, as well as elements of Art Ensemble free jazz, and all at times reaching a kind of post-rave psychedelia. More recent comparisons would include Beak> and Ghost Box who draw upon similar themes and styles.
Trees Speak are Daniel Martin Diaz and Damian Diaz plus musicians from the Tucson, Arizona scene such as Giant Sand, XIXA and James Hunter. ‘Trees Speak’ relates to the idea of future technologies storing information and data in trees and plants - using them as hard drives - and the idea that Trees communicate collectively."
Penderecki’s brooding, hard-nosed and angular ‘Actions For Free Jazz Orchestra’ (1971) reinterpreted by Fire! Orchestra, the highly adept trio of Mats Gustafsson, Johan Berthling (Tape) and Andreas Werliin (Wildbirds & Peacedrums)
“This new, extended reading by Mats Gustafsson and Fire! Orchestra of the great Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki´s seminal "Actions For Free Jazz Orchestra" (1971) was commissioned by the Sacrum Profanum festival in Kraków in 2018. The idea was to place this classic piece in a contemporary setting, with a new approach and a new body of sound. However, the original score was used as a platform for the new reading, connecting history with the present.
The first performance of "Actions For Free Jazz Orchestra" took place in 1971 at Donaueschingen and featured the New Eternal Rhythm Orchestra, 14 international jazz heavyweights assembled by Don Cherry for the occasion and conducted by Penderecki.
The composer had heard the Globe Unity Orchestra a couple of years earlier and was fascinated by the possibilites of working with musicians from a different background and with other perspectives than he was used to from the classical world. The challenge for all involved was to find the right balance between composition and improvisation. The idea was initially met with some scepticism from the musicians, but this soon gave way to acceptance and even great eagerness.
Fire! Orchestra´s instrumentation is almost identical to that of 1971, the main difference being a tuba replacing one of the trombones. Also worth noticing is that the new reading clocks in at 40 minutes, considerably longer than the 1971 version.”
Masami Akita raises hell in these recordings of his live shows for Room 40’s Open Frame festival in Melbourne and Sydney. Pummelling, harsh torrents of noise follow one after another, all anchored to a shifting pulse that descends into proper subharmonic distortion on Part 4, where it sounds like Oren Ambarchi jamming with Derek Bailey. If you’re hanging in there by the time of ‘Encore’, bravo.
“In June 2019, Masami Akita, better known as Merzbow travelled to Australia to take part in Room40’s Open Frame festival. Across a week he delivered a series of performances to sold out audiences in Sydney and Melbourne. The performances were viscerally explosive, a channeling of intensities of frequency and volume - the kind of trademarked bodily affective noise Merzbow has become renowned for.
Between the concerts, Akita spent his days visiting a variety of forests, spending time with legendary Australia fauna icons like the Australian White Ibis, Little Penguins and various other native species. As a vegan, his affinity for the natural world is unconditional. With this in mind he has announced all profits from this edition will be donated to assisting wildlife recovery in the wake of the Australia bushfire crisis of the past few months. Room40 will be matching all money raised.