"Directly following an ambient collaboration with modular synth master Alessandro Cortini (Illusion of Time) and a club 12" with Roman Flügel as Noun (Meeting of the Minds), Daniel Avery finished a solo LP and spontaneously decided to release it with no advance hype.
"Love + Light touches on several sides of Avery's personality, delivering propulsive dance tracks as well as reflective experiments, and diverting into other modes that he hasn't explored as frequently. "Dusting for Smoke" and "Dream Distortion" are prime examples of the type of hissing, hazy techno he excels at, with heavy, pounding beats and tense, dreamy synth textures, all fine-tuned for major club impact. "Darlinnn" keeps up a steady beat but builds much more gradually, working up to a frothy peak and then simmering down. Surrounding all these tracks are experimental pieces like the distorted drone of "London Island" (echoing his work with Cortini) and the gentle, floating harp interlude "Katana." "Searing Light, Forward Motion" takes things in a much harsher direction, with clattering, distorted breakbeats reminiscent of Christoph de Babalon or DJ Scud, and furious acid synths sounding like an angry robot on the rampage. "Infinite Future" is much more serene, with shoegazey synths gliding over a slightly jittery post-dubstep beat, and other tracks like "Into the Arms of Stillness" and "A Story in E5" dip into swirling, tenderhearted downtempo IDM in the vein of Casino Versus Japan or Freescha. "Fuzzwar" is in a similar vein, yet somehow it's one of the least fuzzy-sounding tracks on the album. Wrapping it all up is "One More Morning," a light, shimmering electro piece perfect for greeting the sunrise. While Love + Light feels a lot rougher than Avery's first two solo albums, and initially takes a few more listens to fully appreciate, it's just as inspired and creative."
Strut presents the first international release for a lost classic from the Black Fire Records archives, ‘Southern Energy’, the only album recorded by R’n’B and jazz collective Southern Energy Ensemble in 1977.
"Trumpeter Marvin Daniels had been drafted into the US army in Germany during the mid-‘70s, playing in the military touring band 100% Pure Poison. Upon returning to Virginia State College, he met up with an old friend, saxophonist Al Clarke, and they began to form a new band, pulling together various students from the University including Nat Lee (keys), William “Spike” Johnson (drums and percussion) and Adolphus “Peddie” Maples (percussion and vocals). “As Southern Energy, we started playing the chitlin R’n’B circuit and ended up gigging most weekends at clubs, universities and military bases in Virginia and North and South Carolina,” remembers Daniels.
After meeting Plunky Branch and Black Fire Records MD and producer, Jimmy Gray at a JuJu gig in Richmond, Virginia, Gray signed the band and they recorded some high energy sessions during 1977. “Southern Energy was tight,” continues Daniels. “We had great musicians and great vocalists in Judy Spears and Garrie Wayne, both vocal majors from Virginia State College. The album was all about positive messages and celebrating real people.” Tracks include the storming dancefloor jazz workout ‘Third House’, the optimistic ballad ‘Looking Ahead’ and the extended funk anthem ‘F-U-N-K-Y ‘Til The Day I Die’.
The band would break up soon after the members left college. Daniels moved to Philadelphia to work with Evelyn “Champagne” King in 1978 before co-founding Chops horns who would go on to become one of the most in-demand US session units of the ‘80s, working with Sugarhill Gang, The Police, The Rolling Stones and more. Maples would go on to play on sessions for Oneness Of Juju.
Canned following the original recording, the Southern Energy Ensemble album eventually surfaced on a limited CD and LP on Black Fire in 1993. Now receiving its first full international release, ‘Southern Energy’ has been remastered from the original tapes by The Carvery. Package features unseen photos and brand new sleeve notes by co-bandleader Marvin Daniels. Released on CD, 1LP, digital and streaming."
Tirzah pursues the slowest-burning soul on Devotion, the London-based singer-songwriter’s humbly singular début album, co produced with Mica Levi and featuring Coby Sey, providing us with total life affirming summer listening - most probably the record we've listened to most this year so far, and one that lingers on and on...
Since her first solo 12”s and thru frequent collaborations with Mica Levi - including the Taz And May Vids  for DDS - Tirzah has quietly blossomed into one of the UK’s most precious and peculiar artists working at the fringes of experimental pop, post-grime and R&B, and Devotion is set to bring her love to a wider audience.
Plaintive and low key, Devotion presents Tirzah’s vocal in the most evocative light, framed by backdrops of bleary-eyed and bent vibes and the kind of half-finished, permanently work-in-progress production style that's become a calling card of her music and her tight knit crew including Coby Sey, Mica Levi and Brother May.
Album of the year? Aye, quite possibly.
After dropping our AOTY in 2018, extraordinary percussionist/producer Eli Keszler distills his feelings on Manhattan under lockdown in a killer new suite of noirish NYC jazz rent with electro-acoustic magick - RIYL 0PN, Kenji Kawai, Elodie, Rashad Becker, Aphex x Squarepusher
One of experimental music’s most dynamic figures of recent years, Keszler’s bevy of solo sides and collaborations with everyone from Skrillex, 0PN and Laurel Halo to Jandek and John Butcher have placed him at a captivating crossroads of electronic, soundtrack music, new jazz, and the avant garde. His first album in 3 years, ‘Icons’ is his most broadly appealing and subtly gradated, with a level of emotive nuance, diffracted pacing and vaulted spatialization that beautifully comes to reflect the slow/quick/slow flux of the city during lockdown. OK, ye ye we don’t need to hear anymore about lockdown, but we’ve gotta admit this is one of the coolest, collected musical thoughts on the subject that’s emerged over the whole blasted period, absorbingly transmuting and relating a classically inner city, avant jazz blues ambiance for a new generation in a way that really hits home.
During the past 18 months the usually itinerant artist and performer found himself staying in one place for the first time in a decade, and the sense of tension between stasis and an urge to travel is at the core of ‘Icons’ Replacing international dates with bike trips around Manhattan island, Keszler draws on the experience of carving around the city’s empty streets, as well as those moments when it erupted into activity with protests and ambulances, effectively oscillating across lanes, up the side of buildings, and even thru them, to present a gyring-eye’s view of Manhattan’s unstable reality. From the dawning clangour of ‘All The Mornings in the World’ to the album’s elegiac closure ‘We sang a dirge, and you did not mourn’ expect a completely absorbing day-in-the-life experience as Keszler cycles thru freewheeling gear changes and plays of light dancing between its sound architecture and vertiginous proprioceptions.
It's the Matthew Dear album you never knew you needed: electrified techno country-blues for fans of Death in Vegas, Alabama 3 or Moby.
Minimal techno popstar Matthew Dear wrote "Preacher's Sigh & Potion" in 2008 and 2009, after the release of his acclaimed "Asa Breed". For whatever reason, the bizarre fusion of country and minimal was shelved at the time in favor of music that would become 2010's "Black City", but "Preacher's Sigh & Potion" remained in the back of his mind.
Now we get to hear it in full, and if you're a fan of Matthew Dear and ever thought to yourself, "why doesn't this guy make a country album?" Well, here it is. And that's really all there is to it. Dear is a competent producer and an adequate singer and songwriter, so we get decent pub country complimented by workmanlike minimal backdrops. Okay then.
LoneLady strikes out completely alone on "Former Things", welding New Order, Kate Bush and Neneh Cherry influences in a collapsing cityscape of DIY funk.
When Julie Campbell started writing "Former Things", it was going to be techno, but as she added elements it developed into an electro pop opus. She constructed the record after moving from Manchester to work at London's Somerset house, recording completely alone for the first time. The result is a laser-focused collection of songs that highlight Campbell's influences and eccentricities perfectly.
'The Catcher' is stiff and funky, loosened by unusual samples and Campbell's bright, lighthearted-but-deadpan delivery. 'Former Things' sounds like the minimalist demo for an '80s pop hit, like Prince stripped down to the barest elements. 'Fear Colours' is more in line with Neneh Cherry's fwd-thinking pop run, but disrupted with angular robot-funk grit. If the future sucks, it's probably best to look back, right?
Bay Area artist Chrystia Cabral (aka SPELLLING) orchestrates her quirky synth compositions with 31 (!) additional musicians on her ambitious and vivacious new album "The Turning Wheel".
Cabral's acclaimed 2017 debut album "Pantheon of Me" was a dark selection of contemporary synth pop that made her move to Sacred Bones feel well forecast. This latest record however feels completely unexpected, somewhere between "Hounds of Love"-era Kate Bush, Joanna Newsom and Chromatics.
The neon lit synth music of her earlier material is still present on tracks like 'Emperor with an Egg' and 'Queen of Wands', but fused with the quirky folk instrumentation of Joanna Newsom's post "Ys" records and chunky Fairlight worlds that Kate Bush created on her best known material.
"The Turning Wheel" is an ambitious undertaking for a solo artist, but Cabral leads the album with the confidence of a master conductor, twisting her powerful voice around virtuoso instrumental performances from her throng of collaborators.
When the Mountain Goats got together in March 2020, it was to make not one album, but two.
"The idea was to again work with Matt Ross-Spang, the dashing Memphis wunderkind. Matt pitched we spend a week at Sam Phillips Recording, his home base in Memphis, followed by another at the storied FAME Recording Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, a plan that dovetailed nicely with John’s notion of corralling these songs into two complementary batches: one light, one dark. The Memphis album Getting Into Knives, would be brighter, bolder, marked by rich and vibrant hues; the Muscle Shoals album Dark in Here, is quieter, smokier, but more deeply textured and intense.
We were all aware of the mythos surrounding FAME. The second you step inside you transport to its early ’60s heyday and its louche mid-’70s denouement. The room we set up in is the room where Percy Sledge sang “When a Man Loves a Woman” and where Aretha Franklin recorded “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You).” The Wurlitzer with which Spooner Oldham opens the last? It’s sitting right there. Spooner is living musical history, having played with everyone from Bob Dylan and Neil Young to Linda Ronstadt and Liberace, for crying out loud. And Spooner is all over Dark in Here any time you hear a bit of Hammond organ or electric piano chiming in without repeating a phrase. We tracked the album’s one outright banger, “The Destruction of the Kola Superdeep Borehole Tower,” live with Spooner, and “Mobile” and “Dark in Here” with guitarist Will McFarlane another local veteran who played with Bonnie Raitt for years. We only had Spooner for two afternoons, though, and Will for just one.
After it was just the four of us: John playing acoustic guitar and occasional piano, the rhythm section of drummer Jon Wurster and myself, and our jack-of-all-trades Matt Douglas picking up everything else. The result is something more stripped down and intimate than the lush arrangements of Getting Into Knives. Of “The Slow Parts on Death Metal Albums,” John concedes that the song is autobiographical. While the lines, “In a new universe / trying to find the mask that fits me” would take on a newly literal connotation in the weeks to come, the song is about going to late ‘80s metal shows at Fender’s Ballroom in Long Beach, and about seeking a sense of identity and community in strange and occasionally forbidding places. This theme feeling at once conspicuous and invisible, the frustrated craving for acceptance is echoed elsewhere. Then there are elegies to lost causes, some big and institutional (“The Destruction of the Kola Superdeep Borehole Tower”), some small and personal (“Arguing With the Ghost of Peter Laughner About His Coney Island Baby Review,” a tribute to David Berman, whose return from self-imposed musical exile had been cause for huge celebration in our camp). “Before I Got There” neglects to identify its victims, or the tragedy that’s befallen them. John writes in the liner notes that “if you’re looking for a governing theme here, it’s calamity, as all the songs are either anticipating one or reflecting one that’s already happened.” Peter Hughes, Rochester, March 2021.
"Lucy Gooch’s music is a beautiful ethereal fog; like hearing a subliminal echo of Kate Bush on a fading tape loop, masked by an internal wall of sound that vibrates with the hum of everyday life."
"Rain's Break is her first release for Fire, following the much-touted ‘Rushing’ EP. Inspired by the early technicolour films of Powell and Pressburger, Lucy uses synthesisers and vocal layering to concentrate elements of each film’s score and narrative into songs which move through different moods of yearning and renewal. So, it is amidst 1940’s austerity that these films were an escape, an over-rich backdrop of possibilities. A snatched piece of dialogue, the film’s score, the crackle of uncertainty all succumbs to the layered ambience of Lucy’s music as she traces moods of yearning and renewal on ‘Rain’s Break’ EP. Originally from Norfolk, Lucy studied Fine Art and later moved to Bristol to join the emerging ambient scene there - gradually developing her writing and finally releasing her debut ‘Rushing’ EP in early 2020. Over the past year, she’s dipped into a wealth of long gone celluloid as the basis for a filmic journey, a five song EP that relives formative movies in her unique take on ecclesiastical pop."
Stuck at home for the first time in years, Wooden Shjips and Moon Duo's Ripley Johnson was inspired to form a "more mindful relationship with the natural world" and penned "Earth Trip" to express this feeling.
If it sounds a little hippy, then you're on the right track here. Johnson recorded "Earth Trip" at his home in Portland, Oregon, and wanted to infuse his psychedelic jangle with messages of interconnectedness and the environment. Honestly, he manages it better than most, building on well-worn alt country tropes with clear passion and positivity. At its best, "Earth Trip" sounds as elegiac as Mazzy Star - just peep 'Silver Roses' or 'Feel of Love'.
While it might dip into wheel-turnin' corniness from time to time, the mood is primarily almost Lynchian, offering a more complex taste of contemporary Americana.
Pleasantly low-slung jazzy beat tape fodder from Aussie group Hiatus Kaiyote, who are best known for being sampled by everyone from Jay-Z and Beyonce to Kendrick Lamar and Drake.
'Mood Valiant' is the Melbourne four-piece's second album and follows up their successful 2015 record "Choose Your Weapon". While the backing tracks were pretty much finished back in 2018, Hiatus Kaiyote's vocalist Naomi “Nai Palm” Saalfield was diagnosed with breast cancer before she could record her parts. After receiving life-saving treatment in Australia, she and the band looked back at their work with a freshly altered perspective.
After working with Brazilian arranger Arthur Verocai in 2019 on single 'Get Sun', the album's mood shifted. Verocai added strings and horns to the tracks, and the band recorded two more in Brazil after being inspired by the sessions. The result is a record that's incredibly hopeful in the face of adversity, and goes beyond the jaunty jazzy sample material of its predecessor. Sort of like Stones Throw x tropicalia, arranged for a Hollywood blockbuster.
NYC drummer Kid Millions teams up with Mouse on Mars's Jan St. Werner here for an album of expertly tweaked surrealist electronics and blistering improvised rhythms.
John Colpitts aka Kid Millions has an impressive CV. He's worked with Laurie Anderson, Philip Glass and Boredoms, and played in bands like Oneida, Royal Trux and Spiritualized. Here, he's given space to really go balls to the wall, improvising wildly while St. Werner processes carefully, or adds bubbling oscillator squeal where necessary.
Kid Millions' drums play the central role here, no doubt, and St. Werner acts like a dub producer behind the mixing desk, fading Colpitts' virtuoso rolls into disorienting drones or melting them with mindbending fx. It's not easy listening by any means - it's a lot of drumming and occasional blips and squelches - but if you're into Han Bennink, Chris Corsano or Mouse on Mars's collaboration with reggae legend Lee "Scratch" Perry then check this without delay (cough).
Prolific Los Angeles beat scene / jazz scene staple Carlos Niño calls up friends Sam Gendel, DNTEL, Laraaji and others for a many-headed celebration of spiritual jazz. Absolute zoners for fans of Alice Coltrane, Matthewdavid, Dilla or Kamasi Washington.
'More Energy Fields' is yet another full-length from Niño and friends, following last year's "Actual Presence". Yet again, Niño calls on regular contributors Jamael Dean, Randy Gloss, Devin Daniels, Sam Gendel and Nate Mercereau, making room for DNTEL on modular synthesizer and new age legend Laraaji on zither and voice.
If you've heard Niño's previous recordings you should know broadly what to expect. He's an expert bandleader, and his particular brand of heady beat scene-doused spiritual jazz is a well-worn, proven concept at this point. "More Energy Fields, Current" is Niño's most confident material to date, and its high points - the giddy 'Nightswimming', Laraaji-touched zoner 'Ripples Reflection Loop, or lifted beatbox jammer 'Now the background is the foreground' - are worth the asking price alone.
Descendants of the original cold wave, such as Lena Willikens, Tolouse Low Trax, Job Sifre and many more tend to the sound’s branches in the modern day with stacks of grubby x scuzzy killers.
One of those rarer sets where Soul Jazz source from the recent, not distant, past, the featured artists all wear their influences clearly, offering a more streamlined answer to the late ‘70s / early ‘80s movement forged by the likes of Suicide, Patrick Cowley, The Normal, Martin Hannett, Laurie Anderson, or Public Image which has endured to inform the contemporary underground.
Where the original wavers used the machines at their disposal, all artists here make a conscious aesthetic decision to limit themselves to what is now lo-fi and ostensibly obsolete gear, location parks of invention and anachronistic energy between the hard nosed toil of Lena Willikens’ ‘Howling Lupus,’ the and tunnel drag force of ‘At Least We Try’ by Job Sifre, the humid tropical trek of Tolouse Lowe Trax’s ‘Rushing Into Water,’ Cosey-esque sleaze in ‘Hiding’ by Beta Evars, the slathering 16th note arp fangs of ‘Vacant Cars’ from Broken English Club, and a searing ‘Deserver Dub’ by Krikor Kouchian.
If yr looking for a way to penetrate Sun Ra's intimidating catalog, "Lanquidity" is a succinct, precious wormhole that gives a taste of the jazz pioneer's astral weirdness without letting it overwhelm. Transformative shit, really.
Released in a tiny edition back in 1978, "Lanquidity" is Sun Ra's attempt at cultural reconciliation. It's the ultimate flex, finding the Arkestra alien absorbing contemporary pop elements (disco, funk, soul) into his canon, before spitting them out as further cosmic strings in his pan-universal bow. The playability of "Lanquidity" has given it legs: before its reissue in 2000, the album had hardly been heard, but was spoken about in hushed tones. A couple of decades later, it's an established classic, putting Sun Ra's talent into full view and quieting some of the sprawling galaxy-brain oddness that alienates some listeners.
Recorded by Philly Jazz boss Tom Buchler (who penned enlightening liner notes about the recording experience), "Lanquidity" has Sun Ra fronting a band of over fourteen players, including Marshall Allen on alto sax and John Gilmore on tenor. Intriguingly, he also ropes in not one but two guitarists, giving the album its "Bitches Brew"-adjacent fusion fuzz, but it's the overdubbing of disembodied voices and layers of Arp and Minimoog that puts these tracks into a category all of their own. The mood Sun Ra creates is truly planetary (just flick to the album's terrifyingly tripped 'There Are Other Worlds (They Have Not Told You Of)' for proof) and while he certainly makes concessions with his stylistic choices, the pop shell is merely a Trojan horse for his vanguard forms.
John Carroll Kirby returns with ‘Septet’, a live instrumental album.
"‘Septet’ sees the widely acclaimed keyboardist and composer lead a band to perform a new suite of works. Second album for Stones Throw following ‘My Garden’, released in April 2020. From the acclaimed musician John Carroll Kirby, a new electronic jazz album la Herbie Hancock’s ‘Head Hunters’. All tracks written and arranged by Kirby and performed by him and six additional musicians. Three bonus dubs.
John Carroll Kirby has collaborated with artists including Solange, Frank Ocean, Harry Styles, Eddie Chacon and Sebastien Tellier. For fans of Herbie Hancock, Floating Points, Four Tet, Sons of Kemet, The Comet Is Coming, Shabaka Hutchings."
An unmissable piece of techno history, combining the talents of Basic Channel's Moritz von Oswald, early Tresor resident and Orb mainstay Thomas Fehlmann and Detroit pioneer Juan Atkins. Stargazing techno futurism that's rarely been bettered in the three decades that followed, it cemented an important early bond between Detroit and Berlin.
In the early 1990s, von Oswald and Fehlmann began working together, constructing remixes as 2MB (or 2 Men in Berlin) and then bringing Detroit pioneers Eddie Fowlkes and Juan Atkins into the fold under the 3MB moniker. '3MB feat. Magic Juan Atkins' was released in 1992, and captures Techno as it was evolving from the early no-holds-barred electro-sci experimentation of The Belleville Three (Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson and Derrick May) to include innovation from across Europe.
Few European contributors covered as much ground as Moritz von Oswald, who paved the way for Berlin's minimalist sound with his early productions alongside Mark Ernestus. With this short, sharp collection of tracks however, Atkins, von Oswald and Fehlmann made a direct link between the sounds developing in the USA and those booming from clubs in Berlin.
Opening with a synth-heavy Atkins edit of 'Bassmental', the album starts as it means to go on with Atkins absorbing the tweaky austerity of the German set and filling it out with flashes of energetic Detroit euphoria. 'Die Kosmischen Kuriere' is another high point, building a lithe 4/4 throb over a classic Model 500-style synth bassline and post-Göttsching chords. The most memorable moment however is 'Jazz is the Teacher', that gets both a von Oswald and Fehlmann version as well as a rework from Atkins. This track is one of the era's finest moments, and Atkins' version with its neck-snapping bassline and acidic ascent of heavily-phased percussion still sounds undeniably fresh; the Berlin remix instead digs further into the jazz canon, expanding the rhythm with swung rides and adding vibraphone action that von Oswald would continue to explore on his more recent trio releases.
Next level material that's an early indicator of the breadth of exploration techno would offer. It's dancefloor material that never stops reaching for the stars.
Carnage is a new album by Nick Cave & Warren Ellis, recorded over a period of weeks during lockdown.
"Although the pair have composed & recorded many soundtracks together, and Ellis is a long-term member of The Bad Seeds, this is the first time they have released an entire album of songs as a duo. Cave describes the album as "a brutal but very beautiful record nested in a communal catastrophe."
"Making Carnage was an accelerated process of intense creativity," says Ellis, "the eight songs were there in one form or another within the first two and a half days."
Cave & Ellis' sonic and lyrical adventurism continues apace on Carnage, an album that emerged almost by accident out of the downtime created by the long, anxious, global emergency. Carnage is a record for these uncertain times - one shot through with moments of distilled beauty and that resonates with an almost defiant sense of hope."
A sentimental trip into the world of Don and Moki Cherry's Organic Music Theatre, a collaboration proposed as an alternative space for creative music and art. "Festival de jazz de Chateauvallon 1972" is a recording of the group's historic debut performance marks a joyful period in the Cherrys' lives.
Accompanied by musicians Naná Vasconcelos, Christer Bothén and Doudou Gouirand and Danish puppeteers Det Lilla Cirkus, Don and Moki laid out their life philosophy to French festivalgoers on this extended set. The performed outdoors and were joined onstage by a handful of friends, both adults and children, who danced and sang as the band played. The duo's message was clear: they wanted to bring people together.
This was the period that Don Cherry had rejected his former status as a jazz titan, jettisoning his career in favor of a more mysterious existence in rural Sweden with his wife and family. But as "Organic Music Theatre" illustrates, it wasn't a rejection of music, but of the art world's oppressive hierarchy, that was central to his decision. The music here, a frolicking fusion of Indian, African, South American and Native American forms that feel charged with an almost spiritual energy, is intimate but universal.
There's little of the avant/free jazz that Cherry cut his teeth pioneering here, rather it's a performance that celebrates the very act of playing in public. The band play challenging pieces - including tracks that would eventually make their way to Cherry's "Organic Music Society" and "Home Boy" albums - but inject them with so much positive energy that their context is shifted completely. It's a privilege to hear this performance from beginning to end and bask in its hopeful energy.
Newly unearthed bonanza of Don Cherry action, capturing an extraordinary free jazz tempest thrown down live in ’68 at a summerhouse south of Stockholm amidst a fecund epoch. Proper, third-eye dilating stuff rife with spontaneous possibilities.
Part of a tranche of Don Cherry recordings that resurfaced recently from the Swedish Jazz Archive, ‘The Summer House Sessions’ now takes pride of place on its first vinyl pressing, accompanied on the CD by other recordings made the same day. For the first time they reveal a day of incredible energies improvised by Cherry with members of his Swedish ensemble, plus a Turkish drummer, at saxophonist and recording engineer Göran Freese’s summer house in late July, 1968. As many jazz heads will know, this is circa some of Cherry’s most legendary works, spanning a period after he’d cut his teeth playing with Coltrane and setting the template for free jazz with Ornette Coleman’s classic quartet, at a time when his creativity was unbounded and truly definitive of a searching, modal democracy of jazz music that drew from myriad sources.
The two vinyl sides and bonus material bear witness to a remarkable murmuration of sorts, with a swingeing rhythmic drive from the dual drummers underpinning a deeply psychedelic play of colours and pan-ethnic expression derived from Cherry’s pocket sax and flutes, and free-handed air shredding by likes of Bernt Rosengren (tenor saxophone, flutes, clarinet) and Tommy Koverhult (tenor saxophone, flutes). In effect, the recordings prove that Cherry’s preceding lessons for the players in extended forms of improvisations including breathing, drones, Turkish rhythms, overtones, silence, natural voices, and Indian scales had really hit home, triggering the massed ensemble to play with a ruptured, shearing unpredictability, but equally with a rapturous coherence that’s simply everything at once and then some.
Vital primer on Merzbow’s transition from cut-up experiments to polychromatic noise beast, scanning revised and newly unearthed work dating 1992-1995, with post-production in 2019
Ever in flux, Merzbow’s music has come to define the art of noise at its most unpredictable and ravishing. On ‘Scandal’ we hear the legendary avatar for Japan’s Masami Akita at its most intriguing, drawing lines between local construction site noise and astral synth swelter recalling Sun Ra at their loosest, and right thru to patches of briered distortion and pulsating rhythmic noise, plus a piece modelled on a contemporaneous pop song, but with said pop song extinguished to leave the guts and klang behind.
“One critical aspect these recordings capture, in a very essential way, is the role that field recordings and tape manipulation play in his music. Throughout the 1980s, cassettes, tape editing and found sound played a significant role in the development of Merzbow’s sound.
On Tokyo Blue Sky, Merzbow collates a series of field recordings made around his home during a period of construction in his neighbourhood and merges these with sampled recordings from various ritual records. In these recordings are striking, hammered blasts that feel innately tied to the aggressive metal percussion work that was featured heavily on numerous live recordings during this time. They also maintain a sense of dynamic eruption that characterises the shifts between states of intense noise that are the core of Merzbow recording strategies.
The editions final piece Evening Scandal was originally released in 1992 on RRR as part of their recycled music project; a project that sought to reuse thrown away cassettes, re-recording over them with various recordings including some of those heard here. Scandal bares the marks of its medium, tape wow and flutter flicker across various sections of this piece, revealing a tactile relationship with the medium. The version collected here is different to that which was released in 1992, this version being uninterrupted by the pop song from which it borrows its name. This piece, in moments, maintains a decidedly minimalist compositional form, using repeated single strikes as a means of creating a deep sense of unease and recurrent tension. It’s a technique later deployed with devastating ferocity later in the 1990s.”
Merry drill ’n bass and electronica acrobatics by NYC’s Color Plus, debuting with Brussels’ Slagwerk after turns with Towhead Recordings and Plastician’s Terrorrhythm
They keep it sharp and tight at every angle, dicing with late ‘90s drill ’n bass à la AFX or Pearsquasher in the hypermelodic, ADD rushes of ‘Parsec,’ ‘Gum’ and ‘Memoria,’ the latter of which also feels a pull of influence from Lorenzo Senni’s scything trance synths, which equally inform the swooning shape of ‘Drowzi’ and ‘Myth 500’ that also share traces of Zomby’s rave mutations.
Transcendent material that finds legendary experimental turntablist Philip Jeck using dubplates from Mamiffer's Faith Coloccia and distorting them into a hazy, ambient fog of texture and tone.
Jeck met Coloccia in Seattle back in 2016, where she asked if he'd be interested in working with some recordings that she'd been collecting over the years. She sent him cassette recordings made from 2015-2018 cut to dubplates, but while Jeck liked them, he felt unable to add anything he thought was particularly worthwhile. Last year in lockdown, Jeck approached the material again and had a breakthrough, reshaping them into music that surprised both artists.
Coloccia's source material was recorded when her son was a newborn and formed during naptimes, so the sounds embody a blissful peacefulness while swerving any corny lullaby signifiers. Jeck's additions of reverb and vinyl treatment push the sounds into haunted landscapes, retaining the essence of Coloccia's material but giving them new depth and texture. 'Stardust' is a satisfying meeting of minds, and a perfect middle ground between both artists' strengths. Coloccia's raw emotional weight and Jeck's emphasis on sound and methodology is a match made in heaven.
Electro-acoustic sound sculptor Siavash Amini's latest full-length is inspired by a series of repeating nightmares and Muhammad ibn Mahmoud Hamadâni’s ‘Book of marvels’. It's safe to say it's a transportive experience in textural microtonality: suffocating at times and distressing at others, but with occasional cracks of sunlight.
Amini has been vocal about his desire to work outside of the 12 tone equal temperament, so for these recordings he was passionate about using other systems of tuning to represent his dreams. The result is four long passages of sound that smudge through the consciousness, blurring instruments into synthetic tones and suggesting distance, history and the wild labyrinth of the mind.
'The Oncome' submerges microtonal passages of sound in crashing waves of noise. This is aesthetically Persian music, but feels completely out of time - it could be rooted in the past or being beamed from the far future. 'Crocuta Crocuta' is more ominous, with thick low end that eventually caves into ghostly wails and eerie vapors.
Each track expands Amini's universe, digging deeper into his subconscious and dragging out symphonic fragments or passages of industrial grit. It's a terrifying voyage into a complex electro-acoustic web of literature, antiquity and sonic futurism; ambient, it ain't.
In 1980 the trio Humair / Jeanneau / Texier recorded this album, which was initially intended to illustrate an animal documentary.
"The trio did not know that ‘Akagera’ would become one of the founding moments of an aesthetic and an ethic of French jazz which, 40 years later, remains a model of the genre. First of all, the instrumentation (sax / bass / drums) is already singular for the time, then the creative power of a trio where each musician finds a cardinal place, very far from a mere rhythm section accompanying a soloist. Finally, the three musicians are also composers, each of them contributing original themes tinged with Africa and the Savannah, modal and mysterious World Music, inexhaustible subjects of unbridled improvisations."
Anaesthetising dream-pop from Kobe, Japan’s Haco, gracing Room 40’s rarely seen sublabel Someone Good with a sound somewhere between Grouper and Julia Holter
Depending how your tweedar is calibrated, ‘Nova Naturo’ offers either a blessing or a saccharine wince. It’s too much for these ears, but we can see how many others will fall for its charms, especially those who love it wipe clean and no grit between the record and you; leading from whispered late night lounge styles on ‘Frozen In Time’ to feathered airborne strums on ’Spinning Lantern,’ and the anime dream sequence styles of ‘Teardrops of Aurora,’ and with more success in what sounds like a vaporised Junior Boys on ‘A Mind Resort (Shiokaze Version)’ and the supine drift of ‘Myths and Facts.’
Fuck Buttons' Andrew Hung plumbs the deep chasms of his mind on this second solo album, that sounds like a rock opera cum '80s synthpop horror movie soundtrack remixed by, well, Fuck Buttons. Properly blurry business.
Written and produced by Hung himself, 'Devastations' is billed as his "most candid and introspective" material yet, and it's certainly inward-looking. Using the kind of gritty beats and jagged synths that made Fuck Buttons so popular and playing them against folky vocals and bumped-up instrumental arrangements, the album is an unusual blend of ideas and styles. It's thoroughly British, occasionally sounding like Depeche Mode, occasionally sounding like vintage Bowie, occasionally sounding like John Foxx and sometimes sounding more like Genesis or Pink Floyd. A trip.
LA’s arch ambient producer Yann Novak supplies a solemn and immersively diaphanous elegy for environmental collapse upon return to Room 40 - RIYL Lawrence English, Dean Hurley, Biosphere
The usually prolific artist appears to have slowed the release schedule and gotten deeper into his sound in recent years, with ‘Lifeblood of Light and Rapture’ marking a new high water mark of his catalogue. Inspired by the formative teaching that 2020 would be a point of no return for the environment, Novak models his thoughts in noctilucent clouds of textured harmonies and glistening filaments, keeping everything just outta reach but with a deeply brooding presence.
“From Yann Novak: "When I began working on Lifeblood of Light and Rapture I was thinking a lot about both my personal and society's tendencies towards nihilism. When I was in grade school, I was taught that 2020 would be the turning point in our collective fight against climate change -- that if we did not change by then, there would be no turning back. After learning this at a young age, I watched helplessly as little was done to save the planet. It made me certain that I would not live to see past 2020 . . . Now that 2020 has come and gone, I have the luxury of hindsight. I can look back and see that so many of my decisions were made not to destroy myself, but in order to self-medicate. In my teens and twenties, the world was a difficult place to inhabit, but I could use chemicals and other distractions to cope. Similarly, as it turns out, this is also the story of the industrial, technological, and digital revolutions. Even though the intention of these eras was to make the world an easier place to live in, most of the progress attributed to them over the last two centuries has directly contributed to the climate crisis. On Lifeblood of Light and Rapture, I wanted to explore this parallel -- that so many of the things we do to try and make this world livable also contribute to its destruction. Formally, this album follows the path I set out on with Slowly Dismantling (RM 4112LP, 2019). I sought to express myself in a more immediate and honest way through the use of digital and analog synthesis. With Lifeblood of Light and Rapture, I built upon this same path; but I also tried to imagine the listening experience over the process of making it, focusing solely on the pure pleasure of listening..."
Burial’s eponymous debut LP is a defining beacon of post-millenium dance and electronic music. Written between 2001-2006, the follow-up to his debut 12” South London Boroughs, further consolidated what were previously mutually exclusive strains of music with unprecedented guile, vision and emotive impact, done to mind-blowing and award-winning effect.
In 2016 it’s easy for folk to forget that prior to this album, aside from a select handful of producers such as Horsepower Productions, El-B or Kode 9, effectively nobody was writing tracks circa 138bpm and using this kind of palette of samples, textures and spaces to the same ends as Will Bevan, a.k.a. Burial. And still, even fewer of them were writing without the dancefloor or radio squarely in mind.
Enter Burial, whose impressionistic, unquantized soundscapes reset the neuroses of Teebee and Bad Company’s neo-D&B with a romance and swing better associated with Steve Gurley and El-B, whilst also listening to and channelling the atmosphere of his environment in a way better likened to the spaces explored by Basic Channel and Rhythm & Sound, but animated like a Massive Attack album produced and collaged by Chris Watson; albeit a Watson raised in suburban British sprawl and smoky bedrooms playing tense computer games and watching classic anime and thrillers on VHS, or whatever obscure foreign flicks Channel 4 had on late at night.
Honestly, nowadays that period seems eons away - especially in light of streaming services where you can find thee most obscure art at the touch of keyboard - but back on original release, this record nailed an atmosphere, even a lifestyle, that was lived by many souls on the peripheries who couldn’t be arsed with the menu offered by provincial high street clubs or cable TV, or a culture artificially inflated by major labels and the media.
It almost feels daft and futile trying to explain this to anyone under the age of 30 - or those cold hearted cynics who roll their eyes at the mere mention of his name - but, quite honestly Burial’s music nailed the vibe so heavily that it felt like déjà vu, uncannily weaving together the disparate strands of culture that meant so much to the artist, and by turns, us the listeners.
There are still tonnes of naysayers, but fuck ‘em - Burial’s music is hugely danceable and mixable by the right DJs, but there’s no denying that it probably sounds best in bedrooms or headphones where you can give it your full attention, or vice versa.
Despite the temporal dislocation, the 2007 smoking ban, and the sign-posted, rictus rigidity of too much modern dance music, we’d still love to think there’s a whole new generation out there who will get and love this record as hard as we did, and do.
Expanded double disc edition of Vini Reilly, the acclaimed seventh studio album by The Durutti Column. Originally released by Factory Records in 1989, the album has now been newly remastered with 23 bonus tracks including companion single WOMAD Live.
"Produced by Vini Reilly and Stephen Street, the original working title of the Vini Reilly album was The Durutti Column Sampler. ‘People describe them as found samples and found voices,’ explained Vini at the time. ‘I always build up a catalogue of interesting loops and voice samples and stuff. Then I forget where I got them from a lot of the time, which is quite convenient… A lot of the time I manipulate the sample anyway, so it’s singing my tune, rather than the original tune.’ Stand-out tracks include Otis, Love No More and My Country.
‘The tune always comes from playing the guitar,’ added Vini. ‘As soon as I pick a guitar up I’ll come up with a tune. I don’t know whether it’s good or bad - but there’s always a tune there.’ The sleeve itself samples Bob Dylan circa Highway 61 Revisited, showcasing an iconic portrait by Mark Warner. Indeed much about the album flirts with mainstream culture, being a deliberate attempt to position Reilly as a ‘pop’ artist following his chart-topping collaboration with Morrissey on Viva Hate.
This collaboration was further celebrated on bonus track For Steven Patrick. Other bonus tracks on this 2020 double-disc remaster include a multitude of demos and outtakes from the same period (some previously issued on The Sporadic Recordings in 1989), plus all four tracks from pristine performance CD WOMAD Live. Recorded at the WOMAD Festival in Cornwall in August 1988, the core Durutti duo of Vini Reilly and Bruce Mitchell are here augmented by Andy Connell on keys and Chinese opera singer Liu Sola."
Eccentric english composer Gazelle Twin marks her 2nd soundtrack release, and first collaboration with Max De Wardener, with the OST for period horror flick ‘The Power’
One year on from their work on ‘Welcome To The Blumhouse: Nocturne,’ and a decade since her debut release, Gazelle Twin comfortably solidifies her transition into movie scoring on her second effort, tempering her pop proclivities in context of the project while continuing the themes of a blighted Britain from her recent albums. She finds an ideal spar in Max De Wardener, a noted composer for TV and film, who brings a taste for unusual instrumental tonalities to GT’s eldritch electronics, makign for a score that will no doubt please fans of classic Radiophonic Workshop output and the likes of Cosey’s soundtrack for the Delia Derbyshire flick.
Includes the first commercial recordings from Asia made in Japan in 1903 - Japanese gagaku, shakuhachi, shamisen, storytelling, folksong and more - Collected and compiled by sound artist Robert Millis - The beginning of Japan’s homegrown record industry, including a few sides taken from Japan’s notorious bootleg 78rpm industry.
Compiled by sound artist Robert Millis from recordings made by Fred Gaisberg, a legendary producer and recording engineer who travelled the world working for the Gramophone Company (later His Masters Voice), these collected gems offer a return trip to the now-distant past. Swaddled in a dreamlike haze of surface noise that emphasises their alien allure and peculiarity, the set is all the more remarkable for the fact it was recorded only a decade after flat disc recording and playback technology was invented as a successor to Edison’s wax cylinder tekkers. For anyone struck by Robert Millis’ sets such as ‘Indian Talking Machine’, ‘Victrola Favourites’, or perhaps most pertinently his deeply cherished ‘Scattered Melodies: Korean Kayagum Sanjo From 78rpm Records’ collection, this set is absolutely required listening.
They cover a gamut of styles and instruments including gagaku, shakuhachi, shamisen, storytelling, folksong and more, each admitting the listener entrance to what is, to these ears, a whole other world, long before Western imperialism went into overdrive. It documents for posterity a number of important voices who took their turn in front of Gaisberg’s recording horn, regaling their tales in a range of disciplines of which some have endured or been revived, while others have been lost to the mists of time. Safe to say one would never stumble across these recordings in the field without mountains of effort, so all credit due to Millis and his multiple trips to Japan for preserving and sharing these utterly beguiling sonic postcards.
Anniversary reissue of Tortoise’s classic album, Millions Now Living Will Never Die.
"Tortoise's production expertise hit an early peak with Millions Now Living Will Never Die, a work that not only references studio-centric forms like dub and electronica, but actively welds them to the group's aesthetic of sturdily constructed indie rock. The centerpiece is the 21-minute opener "Djed," a multi-part track which brought Tortoise's already impressive compositional abilities to a grand scale. It's almost a history of influences in miniature, first referencing tape music and dub for several minutes, then moving on to Krautrock with a chugging section incorporating wheezing organ and understated guitar chords.
Halfway through, the band takes on minimalism with repeating figures of organ and vibes, then return to the green fields of their debut with a final few minutes of moody indie rock (though even this is spiced with a scratchy rhythm and various noise effects). With "Djed," Tortoise made experimental rock do double duty as evocative, beautiful music. The other songs on Millions Now Living are hardly afterthoughts, though; highlights "Glass Museum" and "The Taut and Tame" display the band quickly growing out of the angular indie rock ghetto with exquisite music, constructed with more thought and played with more emotion, than any of their peers." John Bush, AllMusic
Ambient music's favorite Rock 'n Roll Hall of Famer Alessandro Cortini returns with his highest profile solo album to date. "Scuro Chiaro" is a frazzled selection of 8-bit RPG riffs, tape-dubbed arpeggios, sandblasted rhythms and saturated power ambience. A finely matured cask blend of early OPN, Tim Hecker, Emeralds and Prurient.
The faint throb of industrial electro underpins Cortini's umpteenth solo record. His obsession with synthesizers has characterized his last run, from the minimalist loveletter to Roland's underrated MC-202 "Sonno" to "Avanti", which was written on the EMS Synthi AKS MKII. On "Scuro Chiaro", particular synths are no longer the focus, but Cortini's keen focus on texture and minimalism is still central.
Each track appears to be built from the simplest ingredients, maybe a single melancholy arpeggio or bare drum pulse, but swells slowly to reflect the timbre and shifting tone of the instrument. Cortini treats his electronic boxes as if they were built of lacquered wood and horse hair, and betrays a passion for an era when the serendipity and unpredictability of the analog realm was far more constant.
The tracks are rooted in the eerie genre sound universe of John Carpenter, and tempered by Cortini's well-documented interest in vintage videogames. The repetitive, loping melodies are directly linked to a long-gone era of Commodore Amiga shovelware, filtered thru the composer's knowledge of noise, early synth music and Krautrock. The result is ambient, industrial and electropop all at once, fermented into almost beatless musical liqor: steeped in nostalgia, but expertly restrained.
Pivotal solo cellist and producer Oliver Coates (LCO, Apartment House) proceeds collaborations with Mica Levi and Radiohead with Shelley’s on Zenn-La, an indefatigably endearing 3rd solo album, new for RVNG Intl.
We can hardly think of many artists beyond Oliver’s own circle who can meld dance music with avant-electronic and classical instrumental expression quite like Oliver does here. From the raw electric buzz and spattered breaks underlined with layered cello in Faraday Movement, to the abraded BoC-like downbeats of Lime, thru to wayward disco treks like Charlev, Analord-style braindance in Norrin Radd Dreaming, and the final swoon between wide-open string composition and balletic IDM in Perfect Apple with Silver Mark, Oliver is making wonderful music unconstricted by convention, but patently happy to play with it.
Belgian-German trio Dictaphone keep it spooky on their fifth album. Like its predecessors, it's a blend of jazz and electronics that sounds like the accompaniment to a flickering, monochrome horror movie. On this one, the trio use sounds found on an old tape machine in a hidden room...
Producer Oliver Doerell, clarinet and saxophone player Roger Döring and violinist Alex Stolze join forces once again for another set based around their "morbid instruments" concept. This time, Doerell discovered a tape machine in a hidden room in his Berlin apartment, and this was used as the album's backdrop. For a few moments, ghostly sounds could be heard and the machine died quickly after the tape was digitized.
The trio improvised around these sounds, occasionally roping in help from other collaborators, like Helga Raimondi who sings on 'Your Reign is Over'. Unsurprisingly for a band who have supplied music to countless documentaries and dance performances, "goats & distortions 5" sounds purpose-built for soundtrack use. It curls with the elegance of thick, French cigarette smoke.
T. Griffin's score for Jill Magrid's documentary about Mexican architect Luis Barragán shifts effortlessly from elegiac drone and ambient to subtle modern jazz, the perfect accompaniment to a film that takes a holistic view of art.
'The Proposal' concludes Jill Magrid's art project "The Barragán Archives" and explores the iconic Mexican artist's complex legacy by defying genre and categorization, so it makes sense that she would involve a similarly ambitious musician. Brooklyn-based Griffin wrote the soundtrack while stationed in a cabin on the Massachusetts coast, and roped in some impressive collaborators: Matana Roberts, Reut Regev, Dirty Three's Jim White, Helado Negro's Jason Ajemian and Godspeed You! Black Emperor's Sophie Trudeau and Timothy Herzog.
He conducts this assembly of talent with restraint, using banjo, guitar, keyboard, field recordings and percussion to give the tracks fitting cinematic scope. From track to track, you might hear dusty crate-digging jazz, shimmering post-rock or effervescent electroacoustic ambience. It's an impressive atmosphere, that speaks to Griffin's experience having contributed to over 50 feature-length film and TV scores at this point.
On 30th Oct 2020 Mr. Bungle released their first studio album since 1999. ‘The Raging Wrath Of The Easter Bunny Demo’ was a re-recording of the band's 1986 high school thrash metal demo along with songs written then but never recorded.
"The album features original members Mike Patton, Trey Spruance and Trevor Dunn, joined by Scott Ian of Anthrax and Dave Lombardo of Slayer / Dead Cross. On 31st Oct 2020 the band celebrated the. release with a massive livestream event, ‘The Night They Came Home’. The event featured a full live show plus an opening set by America’s funnyman Neil Hamburger, plus cameos from musicians and celebrities such as Eric Andre and Josh Homme (of Queens Of The Stone Age)."
Recorded between 1963-2019, Degrees Of Freedom Found is a six CD set “Blue” Gene Tyranny hand selected from archival, live recordings, and brand new first recordings before his passing in 2020.
"Part new album, part retrospective, this box offers a fresh perspective on “Blue” Gene Tyranny’s musical legacy. Blue’s career defining moment, composing the music for Robert Ashley’s magnum opus, Perfect Lives, typifies the Buddha-like self-effacement of his musical life. Often lending a substantial supporting role to his friends’ more visible projects, Blue’s music under his own name blossomed in a more esoteric and highly personal manner outside of the spotlight. Across its many previously unreleased recordings, Degrees Of Freedom Found showcases a surprising, extroverted side of Blue’s music, alongside the virtuoso works of sensitive spirit for which New Music devotees have long revered him."
Remix album featuring production from Pye Corner Audio as well as unreleased accoustic versions.
1.Indica (Pye Corner Audio Remix) 2.Skywalker (Pye Corner Audio Remix) 3.Cherry Cola (Pye Corner Audio Remix) 4.Love Comes In Waves (Pye Corner Audio Remix) 5.I Was Alone (Pye Corner Audio Remix) 6.Indica (Pye Corner Audio Remix – GLOK Re-edit) 7.The Commune (Pye Corner Audio Remix) 8.Plastic Bag (Pye Corner Audio Remix) 9.The Commune 10.Plastic Bag 11.Love Comes In Waves (Acoustic Version) 12.Cherry Cola (Acoustic Version) 13.Skywalker (Acoustic Version) 14.Perfume (Acoustic Version) 15.The Commune (Acoustic Version)
LuckyMe-signed "Akira" fanatic Nathan Micay (fka Bwana) patchworks contemporary soundtrack tropes convincingly on this original score for BBC/HBO finance drama "Industry".
In just under a decade, Micay has shifted his interest from rolling post dubstep to progressive, trancey house and deep, gurgling ambient music, now snapped up to craft the score to prestige series "Industry". It makes sense that Micay has made the jump to soundtracks - in 2016 he released "Capsule's Pride", a collection of sci-fi electronics made in tribute to "Akira" (and Geinoh Yamashirogumi's abiding score). Apparently the "Industry" production team were impressed by last year's elegiac 'Blue Spring' and this full album fleshes out Micay's euphoric framework out into widescreen.
Interspersed with dialog snipped from the TV show, this suite of orchestra-injected electronix snatches liberally from the Christopher Nolan/Hans Zimmer sound-world (ticking clocks, ominous whooshes - you know the score) giving a sense of tried-and-tested urgency to proceedings. At times it sounds too familiar; any of these tracks could be stapled to almost any moody 2019-2020 movie trailer and it would work, but that's prob the point..
Canadian-born, London-based DJ Jayda Guy (aka Jayda G) turns in an effortlessly enjoyable mix of disco, funk, house and techno burners to map out her personal musical autobiography, from her beginnings in Vancouver to headline spots in Berlin. A joyful beacon of hope in trying times.
One of the best DJ Kicks selections we've heard in ages, Jayda G's mix succeeds by being vulnerable instead of posturing for clout. She lays out her musical journey in no uncertain terms, dropping tracks from contemporaries like DJ BORING and HAAi alongside slo-mo soul from Light of the World, Kokoroko's contemporary Afrobeat and Atmosphere's long-form, proggy jazz-funk.
There's an emotionality here that goes beyond crate-digging. Jayda is a DJ's DJ certainly, but she never lets her choices disrupt the flow. As she travels through musical history, she spins her narrative into an expertly blended mix that goes far beyond disco or funk revivalism and center the joyful Black expression of countless interlinked musical forms.
From filtered French funk to contemporary lo-fi house, the fingerprints of soul, jazz, R&B etc are all over today's dance music. On this diaristic journey, Jayda G gives us a history lesson that's just entirely enjoyable, and we can't argue with that.
South African dancefloor scorchers from DJ Black Low, shared beyond the region for first time by the ever reliable Awesome Tapes From Africa
The internet is remaining tight lipped about this fella right now, but it ain’t hard to hear the serious dancefloor levels across ‘Uwami’, working to the side of Amapiano and Gqom styles with lip-bitingly tight Afro-house grooves darkened by gloomy pads, tested with electroid licks, and spiced by a selection of vocalists.
Run go check for unmissable bits in ‘Downfall Revisit’, sounding to us like John T. Gast doing Afrohouse; the stealthy build of ‘Jaiva Low’ starring Hapas Music; what sounds like a deep blue and ruder Donae’o in ‘Emcimbinii’; the hypnotic trills and wonky bass twang of ’Sbono ((Vocal Mix))’; a superb ambient Gqom flex in ’60 Days No Sleep’; and the straight-up trippy morse code melody and gurgling leads of ’Stiwawa Quitter’.
Top shelf tackle for the DJs and dancers.
The Pusherman's debut album celebrates a quarter-century this year. Remastered from the original DATs it's never sounded heavier, with all the virtuoso bass noodling and hyperactive break editing you can squash into one album = an IDM classic, no doubt.
Along with μ-Ziq, AFX and Luke Vibert's Plug, Tom Jenkinson was instrumental in bringing innovations made by jungle pioneers like Goldie, Dego, Jumpin' Jack Frost and Rob Haigh to a global legion of antisocial, screen burned e-boys. At the time, he was widely credited for spearheading various jungle-patented techniques, but listening now it's harder to make that case. Drill 'n bass was always an iffy concept, but with the benefit of a couple of decades, it's easier to listen to "Feed Me Weird Things" free of this context. Now we can simply enjoy its proggy abstraction of Brit TV theme oddness, lightning-fast funk, jazz fusion and druggy rave excess.
All of Jenkinson's albums are a mixed bag (we reckon you could make one belter by grabbing a couple of tracks from each of the good 'uns), but "Feed Me Weird Things" is more reliable than most. The better moments find Jenkinson relying less on bass noodling and more on spooky wooze: 'Tundra' for example, with its wobbly synth and canned beatbox skitter, or enduring fan fave 'Theme From Ernest Borgnine' with its acidic synth squeals and sadboi pads. These tracks influenced hundreds of copyists and still sound just as brilliant today, expertly balancing the indulgent headmash energy of jungle and the gooey synthesized star-surfing of Jean-Michel Jarre or Kraftwerk.
"Get In" dispatched 12 years (!!!) since Get Off for Häpna in 2004.
Sepulchral in tone and celestial in scope, Get In is riven with playfully considered twysts and moments of heart-gripping beauty that recall the ecstasy, darkness and visionary electronic romance of its predecessors - Get Out (1999), Get Down (2002), and Get Off (2004) - but with a more tempered, spacious approach that epitomises the wonder of electronic music at its most elementally affective and also represents a subtly marked difference in his production palette and techniques.
When Pita’s highly original music emerged in the late ‘90s as a powerful force amongst the post-dance music and computer noise milieu, it provided a warped reflection of what came before it, but also suggested new possibilities and horizons. With Get In he presents a deeply personal, romantic view of music still firmly attuned to the world around him, whilst warping its contours and offering new escape routes.
We have to highlight the incredible S200729 as a perfect example, rendering a helical knot of trance arpeggios in vaulted hyperspace - which would be enough to occupy one track in many artist albums - before gleefully ripping the rug with a vicious, blindsiding noise attack that’s possibly the most life-affirming electronic music passage of 2016.
Elsewhere he sucks us into deepest black ambient vortices with Fvo and proper psychoacoustic head floss with 20150609 |, whereas Aahn rumbles like the trapped resonance of a rave recorded from the next warehouse, and the album’s other glistening highlights, Line Angel - rightly hailed in the press release as “a new form of minimalism for the post internet crowd - and the crenellated classical climes spied in Mfbk leave us in a deliquescent, thizzing mess, eager and willing to do it all over again.
This is a incredible piece of work for anyone with a taste for proper electronic music and into Oneohtrix Point Never, Florian Hecker, Leyland Kirby, Xenakis, Dozzy, Lorenzo Senni etc, etc, etc.
IST are: Rhodri Davies: harp, preparations, Simon H. Fell: double bass, preparations, aqnd Mark Wastell: violoncello, preparations. This 5CD set is a comprehensive study of live performances made by IST between 1996 and 2000, begining at the very outset of the group's career and features their debut concert at Club Orange in London and charts it's way through further gigs in London, Billericay, Norwich and Cambridge. The 20 page booklet contains written contributions from Mark and Rhodri, Jo Fell, Simon Rose, Nick Smith, John Butcher, Phil Durrant, Graham Halliwell and Chris Goode together with previously unpublished photographs.
"When IST’s first release, Anagrams to Avoid came out (recorded in 1995 and released in 1997), it caught listeners by surprise. It’s not like those who had been listening to Simon H. Fell weren’t used to the bassist’s wide-ranging musical interests, from his compositional frameworks for improvising ensembles like Compilation I and II and Music for 10(0) to found-sound tape constructions like Nightfall Two (Standards I) to solo outings to his coruscating duos with Charles Wharf and the Hession/Wilkinson/Fell trio to the trio Badland, where pieces by Ornette and Ellington sidled up to original free-bop excursions. But here was a new kind of group, an acoustic string trio of bass, cello and harp, with Mark Wastell and Rhodri Davies, two players most had never heard of before. But what jumped out immediately was their timbral palette as well as the way the three were beginning to rethink strategies toward group improvisation.
Improvisers were certainly fully engaged in efforts to subvert the touchstones of guitar attack, sustain and feedback, reed and brass multi-phonics and the percussive colorations of small instruments within ensemble settings. With their instrumentation, IST sidestepped that entirely. The three stretched the elemental sonics of their respective instruments, building on the intrinsic resonances, harmonics and layered overtones evoked from the strings while adding timbral orchestrations of multitudes of extensions and preparations. Working within that soundscape, they began to zero in on a micro-detailed consideration toward interaction. Over the course of five CDs, this set documents that exploration, from their first live performance in London in 1996 through a 2000 performance in Cambridge during a particularly active period for the group.
The first disc, capturing the group’s public debut at an upstairs room in a London Victorian pub, documents the group working their way through an extended 35-minute improvisation followed by two shorter outings. Things start out with a crack and flurry of bustling activity with rapid back-and-forth amongst all three players. From there, the trio navigates between vigorous intensity and areas where density is dialed back and the vivid nuances of the instruments emerge, from resonant bass through shuddering overtones, clipped and muted pizzicato, scratched textures, shimmering harp shadings and rustling skitters. The two 10-plus minute pieces that follow dwell more in open densities with some particularly quiet dynamics in the second piece, underscoring the group’s embrace of striated detail which they would continue to gravitate toward. Disc two kicks in a year later, around the same time as the gig that resulted in IST’s second release, Consequences (Of Time And Place) as well as the release of Anagrams. The two pieces here settle more quickly into the fields explored on the shorter pieces from a year before, extending them into longer excursions. One can hear a more assured group sound, honed through countless practice sessions and more performances. On these improvisations, even as velocity mounts, there is a more measured activity level at play and the layers work more transparently.
Discs three and four, from a bit later in 1997 and early 98, present music from a series of IST + performances where the trio opened, a guest played a solo, and then the four would play together. It’s worth noting that trio improvisations from each of the dates were included in excerpted form on Ghost Notes and are presented in their entirety here for the first time. First up is a collaboration with John Butcher. The two IST trio improvisations reveal continued development of group strategies, homing in on a fully integrated group sound with extended sections of atomic interaction. Even during more vigorous sections, the three utilize a sparing approach, parsed with pools of quiet and heightened attention to timbral detail. By this time, Butcher had been playing with Wastell and Davies as part of Chris Burn’s Ensemble and immediately syncs into the collective tactics. One does notice how much reed sonorities jump out against the acoustic string reverberations, but Butcher is a consummate listener and effectively balances his playing within the trio. Over the course of three improvisations, the four musicians increasingly gel, with quavering reed multi-phonics and keypad pops melding with the variegated string stratifications.
By February 1998, when the meeting with violinist Phil Durrant captured on disc four took place, Wastell and Davies had recorded the first release by Assumed Possibilities with Durrant and Burn and had worked together with him on the session released as Strings with Evan Parker. This string quartet was a natural extension of those sessions. The 23-minute IST trio improvisation that opens the set is a particular highlight, with the group zeroing in with steadfast, reciprocal focus throughout. The piece is imbued with nuanced playing, particularly the closing section of brittle, metallic interplay. The four quartet pieces are compact studies ranging from 5 to 10 minutes. Each piece carves out a particular sonic area with varying levels of density, pace, and articulation. With the addition of another string player, the quartet tends toward a more open sound, with tendril-like individual parts in constantly shifting, angular layers, forking off and then twining back in.
Marking the end of 1998, a particularly active year for the group, IST embarked on an Arts Council-funded tour. During the course of the tour, they presented improvisations alongside compositions written by and for the group, something they hadn’t done before and wouldn’t do again. The three headed into the studio before the tour to record a handful of these compositions which appear on Ghost Notes. Disc 5 includes the final performance of the tour in Norwich, with a program of two improvisations interspersed amongst compositions by Davies, Wastell, Durrant, Guto Pryderi Puw and Karlheinz Stockhausen. In his comments between pieces captured on the recording, Fell does note that the differentiation between improvisation and composition “is sometimes tenuous” and in a blind listen, the distinctions are mostly blurred.
However, a few things jump out in the 40-minute set. Firstly, the flow of the set is somewhat different than that of other live sets documented in this box and on other live recordings of the group, with seven pieces ranging from 3 to 8 minutes long rather than their usual set including an extended improvisation along with some shorter outings. Secondly, in the improvisations as well as a few of the compositions, a delineation of the three instruments is far more apparent. Listen to the opening improvisation and the resonance of Fell’s dark, sharply plucked strings, Wastell’s move between percussive pizzicato and abraded arco, and the spiky attack and shimmering sustain of Davies’ harp, all in clear focus in contrast to the more amalgamated collective sound of much of their playing. Their reading of Stockhausen’s “Intensität” from his text pieces Aus den sieben Tagen builds with layers of arco accentuating the elemental qualities of resonance from each of the instruments. The pointillism of Guto Pryderi Puw’s “X-IST” is another case, with each voice is clearly articulated across the countervailing lines. However the trio’s approach toward a more coalesced sound is still in full evidence like on Durrant’s composition “Sowari for IST,” which centers on muted textures and timbres of the instruments shot through with high-pitched overtone resonances. It is also great to hear another version of Wastell’s “Ritmico” dedicated to John Stevens, which appears on Ghost Notes, with its percussive flecks restricted to the wooden part of each of the instruments with no use of string permitted.
After their appearance as part of Derek Bailey’s Company at a series of concerts in Marseille, IST didn’t play together during much of 1999 while Wastell was living outside of the UK. Upon his return in the spring of 2000, the trio began their last run of active playing. The box closes with a set from Cambridge in May 2000, comprised of a 20-minute improvisation along with a short 5-minute piece. By this point, The Sealed Knot, with Wastell, Davies and Burkhard Beins, had formed, Davies had begun working in what would become an ongoing duo with John Butcher, and the strategies of minutely considered interactions, which came to be shorthanded as the reductionist scene, were beginning to germinate. The extended improvisation recalls of some of the frameworks employed in the compositional pieces melded with their ongoing development of a group sensibility. Here, the trio fuses laminal textures, gossamer overtones, miniscule creaks and pops, percussive attack and resonant sustain, areas of brisk activity and pools of considered composure with rapt listening and unremitting deliberation. The 6-minute concluding piece is a study in interactions of thwacks, plucks, hammered vigor, the resultant ringing decay, and craggy, abraded arco. While the rest of 2000 would remain relatively busy, group activities slowed somewhat after that, with only a few gigs, albeit high profile ones in international settings, each year between 2001 and 2003. Davies and Wastell were becoming far more active with other projects and Fell had launched his more compositionally lead group SFQ and begun plans to move to France. The group played as part of the Freedom of the City Festival in 2003 and then performed their final, although unbeknown at the time, concert together as part of Confront’s 20th anniversary celebrations in 2016. The trio were planning a series of 25th anniversary shows at the time of Fell’s death. This box, along with the release last year of At the Club Room (their second ever gig) and two archival recordings on Davies’ Archif series more than doubles the number of IST releases previously available. Beyond simply serving to fill discographic holes in the previously scant documentation of the group, this box provides an invaluable opportunity to delve into the development of this vital partnership. The fact that each disc stands on its own, deserving deep and repeated listens, is a testament to the music that Fell, Wastell, and Davies created." Michael Rosenstein