Shades of Ariel Kalma’s bio-feedback systems meet Colin Stetson’s grandly cinematic North American landscapes on the 3rd album by Land of Kush saxophonist Jason Sharp.
“The Turning Centre Of A Still World is Sharp’s first purely solo record and his most lucid, poignant, integral work to date. Following two acclaimed albums composed around particular collaborators and guest players, Sharp conceived his third as an interplay strictly bounded by his own body, his acoustic instrument, and his evolving bespoke electronic system. The Turning Centre... is a singular sonic exploration of human-machine calibration, interaction, expression and biofeedback.
Using saxophones, foot-controlled bass pedals, and his own pulse – patched through a heart monitor routed to variegated signal paths that trigger modular synthesizers and samplers – Sharp paints with organic waves of glistening synthesis, pink noise and digitalia. Melodic strokes and harmonic shapes ripple and crest across ever-shifting seas, through an inclement cycle from dawn to dusk. The album’s six main movements navigate a world where placid surfaces are always roiled and disquieted by a deeper inexorable gyre: the gravitational pull and tidal perpetuity of our bodies made of water, buffeted by terrestrial atmospheric pressures, wrung out by emotions, coursing with blood, sustained by breath, inescapably yearning for and returning to ground again and again. Sharp’s heartbeat literally courses through these compositions – while only occasionally surfacing as a clearly audible pulse or rhythm, it physically feeds into a spectrum of generative synthetic processes that help constitute and conduct the music.
The immersive, intensive, widescreen electronic works on The Turning Centre… could sit comfortably as a masterful and stellar contribution to the space/sci-fi/synth soundtrack genre, owing to their overall sound palette and oceanic scope. But this is ultimately deeper, grittier, earthier stuff – pulsing with terrestrial granularity, charting subterranean geographies of the heart and soul.”
Yann Tiersen (Amélie, Goodbye Lenin) ushers a classy suite of keys, strings and electronics on his follow-up to 2019’s ‘Portrait’
Composed at his studio, The Eskal based on the sparsely populated island of Ushant, off the coast of Brittany in the Celtic Sea, ‘Kerber’ takes its melancholic shape over seven parts of ponderous, and occasionally rapturous, solo piano gnawed by tart electronics, and with parts written for Ondes Martenot, mellotron and harpsichord. At the risk of generalising, it’s all every bit as sentimental and romantic as one might be lead to expect from a french soundtrack composer, rife with emotive turns of phrase and textured for intimacy, with standout moments lodged in its rushy ‘Ker al Loch’ and his grand, titular 10 minute denoument.
‘Be a Rebel Remixed’ collects all the official versions of this track on physical formats for the first time and includes brand new remixes from Arthur Baker, JakoJako, Mark Reeder and Melawati.
"Also includes mixes from the band’s own Bernard Sumner and Stephen Morris, plus club mixes from Maceo Plex and Paul Woolford."
Portland-based folk guitarist Marisa Anderson teams up with "First Cow" composer William Tyler for this blurry set of guitar-led melancholia influenced by Anglo-pessimist in chief, Mark Fisher.
'Lost Futures' was conceived in Portland after Anderson and Tyler had connected at a tribute show for Silver Jews' David Berman. Tyler had played in Silver Jews, as well as in Lambchop, and while the two had an immediate connection, they wondered whether their busy schedules might allow time for collaboration. When COVID hit a few months later, it provided them with the time they needed to fire ideas back and forth, using Fisher's theories as a jumping-off point.
Hearing Fisher's theories untethered to British electronic music's obsession with dusty nostalgia and post-BoC/Burial hauntology is actually quite refreshing. Anderson and Tyler's music is rooted in a different - and more resolutely American - idea of the lost future; Tyler's background is in Nashville and Anderson's folk playing was shaped by her collaborations with Tuareg musicians like Mdou Moctar and Kildjate Moussa Albadé. So the music here feels as if it funnels well-worn American ideas into new places, challenging the listener by fusing the familiar and the unexpected.
The result is post-rock adjacent, with tracks like 'Something Will Come' building a chugging Kraut groove and 'Pray For Rain' sounding painfully epic. But the duo hit their stride in the moments of subtle, soulful Americana, like the utterly heartbreaking title track and the lengthy closer 'Haunted By Water', that sounds like a bleak, instrumental take on the lavish Nashville sound.
From Lawrence English
"I am ceaselessly fascinated by how memory operates and, I’m regularly struck by how individually subjective a collective experience can be when recalled by its participants. Lynch’s Lost Highway comes to mind here, specifically Bill Pullman’s character Fred Madison who says “I like to remember things my own way. How I remembered them, not necessarily the way they happened.” Like Madison, I can’t help but sense that memory takes shape through an accumulative process that reflects how each of us have lived (and maybe even wanted to live) up to that point in time.
Going back to listen again to these recordings of which I was a part with David and Akio, I was surprised by what elements had stayed with me and what others had slipped into the eternal greying of my mind. I have vivid recollections of listening to a Lyre bird before recording the pieces together at Witches Falls. I remember both Akio and David finding musicality in decaying palm fronds. I remember Akio’s voice, amplified through his Analpos, bouncing off the stones and trees. I remember David’s flute, so quiet in the pitch black of the night forest as to appear like a hushed tone of wind or a distant animal calling. I also remember trying to match my modest hand held electronics with the pulsing and pitching of the insects around me.
Reading David’s text, which is included in the book published alongside this edition, he recounts several things I had forgotten. Conversations about memory, ironically enough, had vanished from my mind until reading his words. I also didn’t really remember my role as tick surgeon, removing a living insect from David’s ear. I do remember his cooking though, as does Akio (captured aptly in his drawings), no doubt a testament to David’s improvisational culinary expertise.
Breathing Spirit Forms represents a distinctive exchange between friends and collaborators. Tamborine commands a special presence and encourages a deep patience from those who are willing to give time to its varied environments. For the three of us, we were fortunate to share these moments together, fleeting in our lives as they might be, to sense the mountain’s unique qualities, to respond to them through our exchanges and to form memories (as disparate as they might be) we carry forward with us in time."
New one from Kevin Martin, back with his first new full-length album under The Bug moniker in seven years featuring the MCs Moor Mother, Flowdan, Daddy Freddy, Irah, Roger Robison, Nazamba, FFSYTHO, Manga and Logan.
Biding his time to soundtrack the onset of the eschaton, Kevin Martin is here weighted by a plethora of vocalists who really step up to the plate, going over easy on the war cry horns and galvanised with his signature, metal-plated percussion and bass distortion.
It’s all done at the service of the vocalists, who are placed front and centre of the mix, with longterm collaborators such as award-winning dub poet Roger Robinson (also of King Midas Sound) returning for his 4th LP with The Bug, alongside the comeback of Flowdan and Daddy Freddy, plus new voices such as Moor Mother lending her seething, disciplined aggression beside grimy bars by Manga St. Hilaire, Nazamba dialling in from JA, fast chat from Logan_olm, and roadwise UK barbs by FFSYTHO.
Seemingly ready made to be played off back of a truck at this summer’s riots, the vibe is utter gutter, ramping thru 14 cuts, as Roger Rbinon’s scene-setter ‘The Fourth Day’ sets it some Children of Men-like future that’s all too close for comfort, and Flowdan lights the fuse of ‘Pressure,’ triggering a chain reaction that takes in barrelling gruffness of Irah, concentrated rufige of ‘Vexed’ starring Moor Mother, and goat-stare badness of ‘Clash,’ with scudding madnesses caught in ‘Hammer’ and ‘High Rise,’ before Roger Robinson helps bring the lead curtains down in crushing fashion on ‘The Missing.’
Berlin's Sebastian Counts continues his German approximation of British hauntological eccentricity on his second album. "Vaganten" is as colourful as Plone or The Belbury Poly, but serves the nursery rhyme synths and Radiophonic beats with cold beer, bratwurst, and a side of dark rye bread.
On Counts' first ToiToiToi album, 2017's "Im Hag", the conceptual artist proposed that Ghost Box's home of Belbury was twinned with Germany's Ethernbach im Hag, and provided a dusty soundtrack as proof. 'Vaganten' is the next chapter in the story, and brings an air of continental Medieval whimsy into Belbury's charming psychedelic realm.
The album's title track expresses this best, sounding like a Medieval drinking song - flutes 'n all - recomposed using an Atari ST and a 1980s digi-dub synth setup. There's even an almost indecipherable vocal funneled through a vocoder so it warbles as if it's being drowned. Similarly, on 'The Inner Hobo' Counts' vintage monosynths are overshadowed by evocative archaic flutes and Medieval strings. It's these fairytale moments that work best on "Vaganten" and set Counts out on his own.