Crepuscular Hour is a foreboding, toweringly ambitious and arresting new work by celebrated Norwegian composer Maja SK Ratkje, bringing the worlds of Choral music and Noise together in a way that will leave you gasping for breath. Its her first new long-form solo release since the end of the last decade, and follows extensive collaborations with a plethora of the European and Japanese avant-garde in the intervening years. It's One of the most captivating and fearless albums we've heard in 2016 - a must-check if you're into the outer realms of modern composition, or indeed the likes of Arvo Pärt, Nikos Mamangakis or György Ligeti...so good.
Originally commissioned for performance at the Ultima Festival 2010 in Uranienborg church, Oslo, Crepuscular Hour was expanded and adapted for this hour long recording, which is split over three sides of vinyl, and included as single track CD, along with a corresponding, surround-sound DVD documentation; rendering a modern masterpiece of liturgical composition which places the listener at the centre of a vast, swirling, and vertiginous dramaturgy utilising the unconventional placement of three choirs and three pairs of noise musicians (including the likes of Stian Westerhus, Phil Julian, Mark Durgan and Lasse Marhaug) around the venue, along with the fixed-place concert organ.
Combined with an unusual placement of lights and musicians scattered around the venue, both within the audience and on the balconies, the piece can be taken as analogous to the world’s current predicament, precariously balanced on the cusp of impending forces of war and darkness; a matter connoted by the spaciously diffused mixing, which really animates the switch from drawn-out, imminent tension from all angles, thru to the piece’s crescendo of organ and electronic noise swept with the massed panic attack of three choirs combined in eschatological terror.
Through a compositional genius which takes into account the placement of all elements in gyroscopic formation, and greatly leavened by the portentous source material, Maja has arguably surmounted her magnum opus with Crepuscular Hour, making for one of the most frighteningly powerful hours of music we’ve heard in quite some time.
The new Matt Elliott album is the 7th under his own name.
"Matt has once again requested producer David Chalmin and the musicians appearing on his previous record to deliver six new masterpiece songs following the "A Beginning" intro. While one could consider these new songs are a logical continuum to his previous records, a deeper listen reveals a strong work of both the musical and lyrical content, showing once and for all what Matt Elliott's art is about. Folk guitar virtuosity playing influenced by mediterranean countries as well as eastern Europe countries, songs starting from whispered melodies to full noisy storms, his deep and strong voice reaching another singing level, and his tendency to avoid any well known way of making the music, writing epic anthems.
But one should also consider Matt's poetry as an art on its own. We tried to ask him to develop the themes of these new songs, but Matt hates talking about his lyrics, preferring to leave the meanings of the songs open to interpretation. But we took everyone and everything Matt loves and put them in a room and threatened it with fire until he actually told us what the hell the songs on "The Calm Before" are about. Here's the result : "'The Calm Before' is obviously a reference to the expression 'The calm before the storm'.
The song itself is about those points in life when a storm arrives, be it a circumstance or a person & the mix of feelings, turbulence, trouble that comes with it but a storm also brings something, it clears the air & can push you into a new situation." 'The Feast of St. Stephen' is a self explanatory song about his thoughts about his childhood & the psychological pressures, abuses and manipulations present in all social groups in organised religion. To him : "'I Only Wanted to Give You Everything' needs no explanation, the lyrics are clear and the music expresses the frustrations of rejection. 'Wings & Crown' is a song about those who ride high oblivious to the precariousness of their power. "'The Allegory of the Cave' is very obviously about Plato's famous allegory and if you don't know that then you should probably just give up and walk into the desert… . But seriously the allegory is about humanity in relationship to the great universe and what lies beyond the Pale. Matt Elliott delivers with The Calm Before another masterpiece, adding a precious stone in his path through contemporary folk music."
Contrasting directions, going from techno to modern tribal, the common traits being experimentation, repetition and the use of rhythm boxes.
"The Rob(u)rang project, led by Gabriel Séverin, exists since 2000. As yet, there are only a handful of records; This time, G. Séverin draws his inspiration from yorùbá spells (collected in Nigeria and Benin), initially designed to cure diseases or solve problems.
The results resemble raw afro rock full of lively percussion (warming up the chill of drum machines), led by a possessed, trance-inducing voice. Now and then, lighter moments and dub-like surprises pop up, pleasantly cooling things down before entering the next entranced state. On this recording Gabriel is helped by a few multi-instrumentalist friends: Xavier Klaine(Winter Family) on organs, Alain Lefebvre (Digital Dance, Durutti Column,Tuxedo Moon) on percussions, Quentin Hanon (aka Johnny Superglu, Fan Club Orchestra) on bass and guitar, Gil Mortio (Joy As A Toy, P.V.) on bass and guitar, Laurène Laroche (Babelouze) on flute and Céline Mouffe on clarinet.
The booklet contains all the texts in yorùbá with their english translation. Gabriel Séverin Founder and member of a string of bands, including Ultraphonist, Babils, Dead Hollywood Stars, Jardin d’Usure, Logatomistes, Moonsanto, Silk Saw and more, Gabriel Séverin (born in 1963) explores several musical styles and various artistic disciplines.
He is fascinated by obscure avant-gardes (in 2009 he released an album with his own interpretations of raw literature and writers like Henri Michaux). He does mastering for several labels, and records, mixes and produces many artists."
'Send Ultimate' is an archaeology of Wire in the studio between 2000 and 2003, as the band worked on new music for the first time in a decade.
This retooled edition of 'Send' gives fresh insight into an exciting chapter for Wire, by expanding the frame around the album and providing a larger context with rare and previously unheard material. This includes both sides of the '12 Times U' 7-inch vinyl-only collectors' item (those being the '12XU' remixes that initially catalysed Wire's 'Send'-era burst of creativity); unreleased curiosities such as the exercise in hyperkinetic dancefloor lunacy that is 'DJ Fuckoff'; alternate versions of numbers originating in this period that subsequently appeared on 2007's 'Read & Burn 03' EP; and the tracks from the first two (out-of-print) 'Read & Burn' EPs that were omitted from the original album tracklist.
Released in April 2003, 'Send' itself (which has been out of print long enough for it's absence to be a source of frustration to many newer Wire fans) was the band's first full album of new music in over a decade, containing 11 examples of their most caustic and brutally compelling output in twice that time, marking a dramatic and emphatic return to the shot-blasted immediacy and stylistic minimalism of their very earliest material.
If you’ve ever been enchanted by the music of Eliane Radigue, Mary-Anne Amacher, Terry Riley, La Monte Young, Eleh; we urge you to dive into this recording for the good of your health...
Catherine Christer Hennix’s work, realised over the past 50 years - but much of it only coming to light in the last decade - is the result of extensive studies in mathematics and computer generated composite waveforms (she was affiliated with MIT and SUNY New Paltz), drawing upon the architectural sonics of Iannis Xenakis and classical Indian vocal traditions of Pandit Pran Nath, plus inspiration from Japanese Gagaku music and the 13th century music of Perotinus and Leoninus; all of which fed into her earliest collaborations with pioneering downtown NYC musicians such as La Monte Young and Henry Flynt, and has deeply informed her ongoing, endless cycle of work ever since.
Written in response to a Henry Flynt retrospective, this is Catherine’s first 4-channel computer assisted composition since 1969 and it seems to almost effortlessly consolidate and encapsulate all of the above references - medieval and Indian vocal traditions/the elegance of Far eastern court music/ buzzing minimalist drone structures/20th century architectonics - over it’s trans-continental, anachronistic and uchronic expanse.
That may all sound quite lofty, but it’s all at the service of some of the most beautiful, transcendent music you might ever experience. And we do not use those terms flippantly. This is genuinely life-affirming music which, if we’re quite honest; makes a lot of subsequent new age meditations sound trite and fluffy by comparison, although it surely wouldn’t sound as great without them for contrast.
Beautiful, heavy-lidding drone music from Catherine Christer Hennix’s just-intonation ensemble The Deontic Miracle, realised and performed at an eight-day festival in the Museum of Modern Art, Stockholm, spring of 1976; marking the first in a necessary series of previously unreleased, archival releases issued by Important Records.
In the purest sense, Central Palace Music makes us want to shut our eyes and follow the patterns wherever they and the music take us. However, right now i’m in an office full of people and fear I look a bit daft doing so. But, please trust us: the pull is near overwhelming with this one.
The first issue of Catherine Christer Hennix’s material since The Electric Harpsichord (2010) features the polymath on Renaissance oboe and custom sine wave generators leading an ensemble including Peter Hennix on Renaissance oboe, and Hans Isgren on sheng.
Combined, they induce a pineal tingle of the rarest sensation as the result of thorough mathematical calculations and in-depth study of far-flung, yet hyper-specific styles such as Japanese gagaku music, the 13th-century vocal music of Pérotin and Léonin, and years spent under the tutelage of master Indian vocalist Pandit Pran Nath and alongside La Monte Young and Henry Flynt during the ‘70s.
If you’re new to this music, you’re highly recommended to check out all of the above; but, likewise, you can approach this without any prior knowledge and a clear and open mind for equal, if possibly more revelatory results.
Building from cyclical, reedy flights of fancy, the 46 minute piece imperceptibly congeals to a breathtaking, densely radiant lattice of tone clusters by the 21 minute mark which begin calving, bifurcating across the field to deliver sensations longer lasting and more visceral than any narcotic experience we can recall (and to be fair I was shaking hands with Dimitri only a few days ago).
We’re not messing; this is absolutely incredible stuff. Unmissable for anyone with the patience and taste for such stuff, or anyone who fancies challenging themselves in return for great rewards.
I’m off to get a curry now, buzzing my tits off.
The big room shunting specialist in full effect with a 23-track beating rounding up tracks by Scuba, Psyk, Miek Dehnert, Audion, Marcel Fengler, Bjarki, Ilario Alicante, Truncate, Markus Suckut, plus lashings of himself.
Ghost-in-the-machine house music from Matt Karmil, pursuing the dusty, loping geist of his IDLE033 and - - - - albums into seductive nooks between ambient house and the Cologne minimalism of his current home.
It’s a patient unfolding slow-burner, swaying clear of surprises or shock drops and breakdowns; happy to linger around frayed, mesmerising phrases until they diffuse and precipitate subtle new rhythmic avenues.
There’s a key in the opening track, whose Perfect World title is looped with loose markers so that it actually sound like “Imperfect Worlds”, which sorta unlocks his underlying concept from the front, which vacillates woody knocks with floating, Gas-sy phrases such as Be Gentle and the wispy, stumbling dream sequence of Femern with blunted, swagger house in AF, and the swampy thump of Crush, and tenderly tentative moments redolent of The Field in Crystals, or the cranky conclusion, Pulse.
Awesome Tapes From Africa present a very rare window onto Eritrean music with an issue of Awalom Gebremariam’s enchanting Desdes collection - perhaps the first we’ve heard from the troubled region beyond a few blinding 7”s played by Chris Menist, at most.
Desdes is almost like a Jamaican versions album, using practically the same, loping rhythm but fleshed with fragrant and subtly altered string melodies and vocal for each of the ten songs…
“At the age of 28, Awalom Gebremariam arrived in the United States, following a years-long journey from Eritrea. He’d made it to a refugee camp in Ethiopia several years ago and eventually attained asylum status for passage to America. But before he left his hometown, Eritrea’s capital Asmara, he made his first and only recording so far, Desdes.
Awalom completed Desdes in 2007, not long before he departed Eritrea. Because Awalom left after the recording he never received any money for cassette and CD sales. But he also didn’t get to find out how much of an impact the songs have had locally.
His songs appear to focus on love, but Awalom isn’t speaking about romantic love per se. Much of the music Awalom heard growing up was intertwined with Eritrea’s difficult and contentious split from Ethiopia.
He spent years waiting for the chance to escape economic and political turmoil at home. Now 29 and living in North Carolina, Awalom works in a restaurant and plans to bring his music to Eritrean communities across North America as well as newer listeners with whom his powerful sounds and remarkable journey will deeply resonate.”
RVNG Intl deliver a 23-track Beats In Space retrospective. Features music from Paradis, Secret Circuit, Palmbomen II, Lauer, Dukes of Chutney, Tim Sweeney. 2CD housed in 8-panel slipcase
“The radio is a memory machine. It is an airborne exchange of information between celestial host and terrestrial audience. Radio is a medium which configures collective cognition through mass media, harmonizing voice and anonymous ear. The magic of radio exists in its connectivity.
For many in their formative years, this connection occurs within the emancipated preserve of college radio. Beats in Space began and perseveres in this preserve, though its reach now extends beyond campus to wider culture. As a student, Tim Sweeney began broadcasting on WNYU in 1999. Twelve years later, Sweeney created a label under the same name, preserving waveform memories permanently to wax. Paradis’ “La Ballade de Jim,” the first release represented on BIS: 001 – 020, a compilation surveying the first twenty Beats In Space Records releases, embodies the consideration and sophistication a twelve year history lends a label. A driving, memorable bassline; blurred, drifting keys over an interminable sequencer, presented with crystal clear production. Decisively understated, it offers an overwhelming possibility of what is to come.
The bounty of releases beyond range from aquatic slow burners (Dukes of Chutney’s “The Smiling Cheshire”) to sweeping Balearic compositions (Tornado Wallace’s “Desperate Pleasures”), to outrageous expressions of club-generated sublimity (Crystal & S. Koshi’s “Break the Dawn”).
The label’s most recent offerings prey on the heavenly-hearted with House of Spirits’ (the nom de plume of Tom Noble) anthemic “Holding On,” the existential / extraterrestrial acid lovers with Palmbomen II’s self-titled album, and the person who just likes to take ecstasy and dance next to the speaker all night while T & P’s (Tim Sweeney and Phillip Lauer) “Shoot The Freak” sets fire to all synapses. It’s clear what makes these releases harmonious. In keeping with the sensibility coveted by Sweeney during his time on air, there’s an attitude: a little bit rude, but softened with sensitivity. There is a sense of motion, narrative and duration; a dedication to crescendo, a theatricality that never yawns. An appreciation for melody, but not at the expense of propulsive percussive textures.”
Full album of proficiently pounding industrial techno & noise
“Perc Trax is proud to announce 'Stowaway', the debut album from Ansome. A ten track collection of brutal UK electronics which marks the next significant step in a rapid rise that has seen him become a key member of Bas Mooy's Mord crew and play a constant run of hardware based live sets across Europe.
A Cornish ex-pat who now resides in south London, Kieran Whitefield is the man who puts the dark in Poldark, combining a warm persona with a deadly serious attitude to his music. Consistently changing his sound as new equipment and techniques are utilised in his studio the album mixes up the type of 5am club rippers he is known for with an exploration of more spacious and atmospheric tracks.”
The first new music from Lush for 20 years, and the first the band have released since their single 500 (Shake Baby Shake), taken from their last album Lovelife, in July 1996. The four tracks were recorded in the summer of 2015 with Daniel Hunt (Ladytron) and Jim Abbiss (Adele, Kasabian, Arctic Monkeys)
"Talking about the recording of the EP, Miki Berenyi commented: "It certainly took sometime to come together, but once we were in the studio, everything came together incredibly quickly. It was great fun! It's been a long time since I've written Lush lyrics, and I realised early on with this EP that what I wrote about then is not what I feel comfortable writing about now. My perspective, and what is close to my heart, has changed, and I think that's conveyed in the songs."
Bassist Phil King added:"I know I'm biased, but I work for a music magazine and so much of the music I hear played in the office sounds non-descript or derivative. Emma has this way of writing unusual chord changes and manages to weave lovely melodies over the top, and it immediately sounds distinctive, like Lush."
The sequel… Check for highlights in the furtive Persia Rising and the heroic Utopian Facade
“On Halloween 2014, the director and composer John Carpenter introduced the world to the next phase of his career with “Vortex,” the first single from Lost Themes, his first-ever solo record. In the months that followed, Lost Themes rightfully returned Carpenter to the forefront of the discussion of music and film’s crucial intersection. Carpenter’s foundational primacy and lasting influence on genre score work was both rediscovered and reaffirmed. So widespread was the acclaim for Lost Themes, that the composer was moved to embark on something he had never before entertained – playing his music live in front of an audience."
New album from Room 40's Someone Good offshoot.
“Sometime in the early to mid 00s, I was on tour in Japan. I was playing at the now closed venue Bridge in Tennoji. It was one of my favourite venues in Japan, mostly as Tennoji still holds those secrets of Japan’s 20TH century history; the nocturnal, dreamlike sensibilities that reach out to us from beyond, much like say Chris Marker’s San Soleil does.
The concert was most memorable though for one reason - Ytamo. Before I performed, Ytamo, (who at the time I had not heard of) commandeered a piano and created one of the most unusual and soothing pieces of music I had ever heard. These were songs that felt as if they were on the edge of consciousness, they flowed with grooves that seemed to suggest a deep hypnosis. It was quite honestly audio magic.
Now the better part of a decade on, I have the pleasure to have a hand in making her latest recording available. MI WO orbits in a more aquatic space than her earlier works. Shimmering electronics abound, melodies like the tides and rhythms that vibrate with oceanic gravity.
Originally created to accompany an exhibition by Argentine artist Natali Katz, MI WO sees Ytamo expand her palette considerably. She melts together the core of her song explorations with a rich sonic texturing that is both compelling and evocative.
It’s my great privilege to share this with you.”
Lawrence English, 2016
5 CD Set housed in a Deluxe Box.
"In 1994, Klaus Schulze was able to look back on a long, successful and highly influential career, but he was also able to embrace the new. He was in the midst of his 'digital phase', fascinated by sampling technology, and had a clear idea of where he could go with the technology.
By contrast Peter Kuhlman a.k.a Pete Namlook had just started. In 1992 he had founded the seminal Fax label, which was both a vehicle for his own recordings and a chance to collaborate and release recordings from like-minded musicians from around the world: Robert Görl of DAF; Geir Jenssen of Biosphere fame; the ever-eclectic Bill Laswell; Ritchie Hawtin; Lorenzo Montanà; Gabriel Le Mar; Dr. Atmo and David Moufang to name just a few.
The influence Namlook had on Klaus's music in the middle of the nineties should not be taken lightly, because although Klaus dearly loved those early analogue elements from his own music, they had become, to an extent, lost. It was Pete who fortified him to go back to the analogue charm of his early albums and it was Pete who supported him in the modification of his analogue instruments, leading finally to the epoch-making Schulze album from 1996 - "Are You Sequenced?"
For Namlook, the curiosity of Klaus Schulze and their collaboration on a level playing field of mutual respect was inspiring. And so a legendary series of recordings was born. 'Dark Side Of The Moog' grew more or less unplanned to a sprawling, stately-sized series of eleven volumes recorded between 1994 and 2008, only ending with the early, tragic death of Pete on November 8th 2012.
Retrospectively, the approach to and exchange of music and ideas, the growing together and cross-pollination of emotion and logic, makes for a rewarding and fascinating listening experience that still holds its own today."
William Fitzsimmons is often compared to contemporaries Sufjan Stevens, Iron & Wine and the late Elliott Smith, not only for his style and skill in writing and proclivity to deal with substantive and evocative subject matter but also for his use of organic and colourful melodies and arrangements.
"William Fitzsimmons is equal parts songwriter and psychotherapist, creating captivating music that uniquely melds depravity, honesty and autobiography into a counter-intuitive seamless whole.
William Fitzsimmons’ newest album ‘Charleroi: Pittsburgh Volume 2’ is the second part of his ‘Pittsburgh’ story: “The ‘Pittsburgh’ album was about the grandmother I knew. ‘Charleroi’ is about the one I never did,” says William."
New 3CD set of all the Koola Lobitos recordings with a 14 page booklet including a full discography and essay by noted Fela scholar and author Michael Veal.
"This compilation traces Fela’s musical evolution in the decade before he formed the famous Africa 70, creating what would become afrobeat. Mapping out his steps from highlife (a genre considered to be a West African slant on jazz) to soul to the beginnings of afrobeat, this album gives a new insight into the hybrid of influences which became afrobeat.
The story of Fela’s recordings with Koola Lobitos begins in London where he studied trumpet at Trinity College. Upon returning to Lagos in 1963 Fela had aspirations of becoming a successful modern jazz musician and became the leader of Koola Lobitos, a popular dance band."
Curious mixture of dusty country banjo twang, drone and creamy kosmische with a sun-baked antipodean sensibility...
Brisbane artist Andrew Tuttle has collaborated live or on record with artists including Matmos, Lawrence English, Blank Realm, Mike Cooper and Heinz Riegler; and shared concert lineups with Matmos, Julia Holter, Hauschka, The Soft Pink Truth, Forest Swords, Omar Souleyman, OM, Marihiko Hara and countless others. He now returns with a new album from Room 40's Someone Good offshoot.
Many people's favourite Sonic Youth album has finally been reissued on wax...
"There is no album in the entire corpus of indie rock—not Loveless, not Surfer Rosa, not Psychocandy— that reaches the heights of invention, joy, and magic of Sonic Youth’s sublime fifth album.... The haunted reveries of Sister remain with you for years, even if you only hear them once….
Sister is the sonic manifestation of refracted light. It’s a record that changes you.” Stereogum. One of Sonic Youth’s most beloved albums, 1987’s Sister incorporated the dissonance of their earlier releases into more traditional song structures. It’s an innovative and thrilling work assuredly delivered by a band at the peak of their powers."
Reissued on the band’s Goofin’ imprint, this 2016 pressing includes a digital download card with the vinyl edition.
Teklife the label debut proper with the crowd-funded, posthumous vinyl issue of some DJ Rashad belters, written with his Teklife squad including DJ Earl, Traxman, Taso, Spinn, Paypal, Heavee, Manny, Taye, Tre, and Gant-Man.
Hyper Chicago footwork chops from end-to-end, from the album’s title cut feat. Rashad with, Spinn and Taso, thru the wavy acid minimalizm of Get Fuk’d Up with Gant-Man, to jungle-spliced R&B pressure in Come Close, the gangsta banger Tony Montana and the Makina-style Juke joint, Do U Wanna Be Mine, and a soulful send-off in Roll A Tree.
Superb Giallo-jazz and proto-Italo disco discovery starring stellar members of Goblin, The Braen’s Machine, and The Feedback. All hitters, no sh*tterz! Silver foil-blocked mirrored jacket.
Finders Keepers return with a pearler from the Italian cinema vaults that they - and a lot of other heads - hold so dear: collecting Bixio * Frizzi * Tempera’s near-mythical, aggressive, and perfectly furtive Magnetic Systems output.
Bar the feisty prog NRG of Escape (7” Version), the cold disco killer Godzilla, and the mellow buzz of Death’s Song (pretty sure we’ve heard this on a Sean Canty mix), it’s a hitherto unheard and unreleased set, pulled together by Andy Votel and Doug Shipton from behind the ear of Italy’s revered, fertile experimental scene via the Cinevox label circa ’72 thru ’77.
We should also point out highlights such as Sette Note In Nero (Seven Notes in Black) which riffs on the Suspiria theme, the sweeping synth ’n string beauty Concessioni Naturali and a bolshy film version of Escape as big highlights before handing over to Votel for the final say…
“Whereas the likes of Nicola, Morricone and Gaslini were the undisputed mastermind originators of the Italian soundtrack miracle, the Bixio, Frizzi and Tempera trio basked in their blaze, restoked, refuelled, keeping the fire burning brightly until the VHS revolution changed cinema forever. Pulled together like cosmic particles, drawing the attention of music fans for decades and changing the polarity of of Italian shock cinema at every turn, The Magnetic System has caught us all in its forcefield.”
M83’s first new record in five years is quite possibly the most elaborate indie-pop trolling exercise of 2016, or maybe we’re missing the point, if there is one.
It features an actual Steve Vai solo on Go!. No need.
Key Detroit player, Omar S sticks to his guns - an Uzi, plus a Linn Drum machine and Roland MC 500 by the looks of the inner sleeve image - with the rugged soul punch of The Best! for his home-brewed FXHE stronghold.
On his 5th album, arriving just over ten years since his debut Just Ask The Lonely, it’s safe to say that Alex “Omar” Smith owns this particular corner of 313 real estate, drawing out the best vocals and collaborations from a close knit circle of pals and producers.
Straight-up hitting a timeless vibe, this record could arguably have been made any point between 1989 and now, and we’d hardly know the difference. The vocals from Amp Fiddler, John F.M., Divinity and Big Strick are attuned to the deepest seam of Detroit soul, will a roll call of instrumental hands-on-deck likewise share so much in common with your man that no-one outshines anyone; it’s all part of the same body.
Initial highlights come from the burning, swinging sensations of Heard’Chew Single with its militant snare rolls and mesmerising keys sparked off by John F.M., or the barrely hinged acid clatter of Bitch,,,, I’ll Buy Another One!!! for more rugged, technoid thrills, and we’re pretty smitten with that daring fusion of dub house and distant flutes (?) in Chama Piru’s. But, y’know, it’s all good.
Praise be to 4AD, who unveil a Jesus arms-worthy new suite of soaring avant and neo-classical reveries by Tim Hecker, on return from unusually long hiatus well spent fine tuning the sound of Love Streams.
“Hecker’s newest opus, Love Streams, takes as its cue from the avant-classical orchestration and extreme electronic processing of his previous full-length, 2013’s Virgins, but shaped into more melancholic, ultraviolet hues. Its power accrues as it unfolds. Inspired by notions of 15th century choral scores transposed to an artificial intelligence-era language of digital resonance and bright synths, the album was assembled gradually, with layers of studio-tracked keyboards, choir and woodwinds being woven into the mix, then molded and disfigured through complex programming. The effect is similar to hearing some ancient strain of sacred music corrupted by encryption. Hecker admits to thinking about ideas like “liturgical aesthetics after Yeezus” and the“transcendental voice in the age of auto-tune” during its creation.”
Room40 present a trio of newly mastered recordings by Swans guitarist Norman Westberg, including a pair made and self-released in 2012, plus a new piece Lost Mine, to continue a fine relationship begun in 2015 with their issue of Westberg’s expansive 13 album.
So titled after undergoing an MRI scan due to hearing loss caused by “aural misadventure”, the three pieces render coruscating scapes of a particularly scorched, strung-out and American ilk, that pay testament to 30 years experience playing with the one of the world’s loudest, noisiest rock groups.
They are rolling, long-form, solo meditations on electric guitar and amplifier; rounding up the 15 minutes of ferric, almost ecclesiastically-charged air in MRI, whilst the 20 minutes of chinning top lines in 410 Stairs reveals a rich harmonic spectrum from a variety of delays and incidental room recordings, and Lost Mine sweeps us into the ether with a most sanguine 18 and half minutes of low-lying drones and thizzing, astringent and bittersweet timbre, apparently “recorded as an echo of the processes that led to the original recordings.”
Mercurial pianist and experimentalist Chris Abrahams (ov The Necks) makes his first incision on 2016 with a delta of sublime concrète, keys, and whirling organ recorded between Melbourne and Berlin for Room40.
A definition of free exploration, Fluid to the Influence flows between rivulets of lilting piano, scarped strings, and paroxysms of atonal electronic noise that knows few bounds, but still appears coherent by virtue of his artistic flexibility.
Lysergic runs of organ calve into ecstatic, Mego-style noise scrabble in One-Liter Cold Laptop, and Scale Upon The Land lushes out to contemplative keys, whereas Receiver is a gyroscopic collage of sloshing electro-acoustic process and skittish percussion.
Trumpets of Bindweed blares head-spinning harmonic organ clusters and glissandi, whereas the spare organ drone space of The Stones Continued could be considered its inverse, and As Tranquil as an Apple melts music melody in fractal geometry.
If you like having the rug ripped and morphed from under your feet and wrapped around your head, this album is a joy.
The Room40 label is currently enjoying a flurry of activity and they've certainly got a long history of top quality compilations. This latest one commemorates the eight year run of performances at the Fabrique events based at the Brisbane Powerhouse, bringing together Australia's finest electronic musicians and a more global base of artists, including David Grubbs, Keith Fullerton Whitman, Robert Henke, KK Null and Andrew Pekler, each supplying an exclusive track or live recording for this album. Of course, the established Room40 roster make their presence felt with key contributions from label regulars like Janek Schaefer, DJ Olive (here alongside I/O3) and Tujiko Noriko. On loan from 12k, Fourcolor and Seaworthy make key entries, both embarking on exquisite tonal explorations that have as much to do with the timbres of the electric guitar as they do microsound-style laptop editing. It's surely telling of the event's atmosphere that so many of these compositions seem to be derived from the same sort of creative impetus, with a widespread emphasis on tactile, close-up electroacoustics and impeccable drones. From Schaefer's seven-minute field recording collage to Pekler's sample layering treatments there's a persistent subtley and sophistication to these pieces that instils a great depth in the compilation as a whole. The level of craft that's gone into Robert Henke's arresting seventy-second soundscape 'Hommage_17' illustrates this perfectly; despite being so brief there's a Hecker-like artfulness to its digital sound-bending and the range of frequencies on show covers more ground than a dozen lazy drone artists would over the course of a career. Terrific stuff from Room40, managing to get the most out of the compilations starry list of contributors.
A powerful reimagining of Henryk Gorecki’s 3rd Symphony masterpiece (also known as The Symphony of Sorrowful Songs) by the multi-instrumentalist as part of a 12-piece ensemble also including Sarah Neufeld (Arcade Fire), Greg Fox (Liturgy), and Rebecca Foon (Saltland, Esmerine), among others.
Faithful to the original composition’s notation - of which he is intimately familiar - Stetson utilises an alternate palette of instrumentation, (naturally) heavy on woodwind, plus the addition of synthesisers, and electric guitars, as well as the more typical string section, to firmly replace the piece’s repetitive structure and modest lack of harmonic progression closer to black metal and early electronic idioms, whilst also strongly representing his own, indomitable corpus of saxophone music.
It’s no mean feat to undertake such a culturally, politically-loaded and popular piece of contemporary classical, and one by one of the 20th century’s most revered composers, but the execution proves that Colin Stetson is one of the most capable and visionary instrumentalists and arrangers of his time.
Akira Rabelais has long been in our list of the most interesting, overlooked producers in electronic music. His early material for Mille Plateaux offshoot Ritornell was nothing short of revelatory, a mysterious, complex maze of elaborate layering that genuinely sounded unlike any of his contemporaries, or anything we've heard since. He was then picked up by David Sylvian's Samadhisound imprint and released an incredible, career-defining head-scratcher of an album in 2004 called "Spellewauerynsherde' - one of the most spectacularly odd and brilliant electronic records of any description you'll likely hear - seriously - seek it out.
Anyhow, that preamble is just to set out the extent to which we're all Rabelais fanboys here - so this new double album, the first disc in collaboration with Harold Budd no less, has arrived here with much excitement, offering his first new recordings in over five years.
The Little Glass breaks down clearly over two discs; the first containing four plaintive solo piano parts by Budd and Rabelais, followed by a 2nd disc presenting Rabelais’ hour long, inharmonic, electronic transformation of the preceding material.
Rabelais has collaborated with Budd before, he provided his own incredible side-long second CD to Budd's majestic Avalon Sutra album, and while the piano pieces that make up the first CD here are bloody lovely and all, pardon us if we do hurry on to the second disc, because, well, you know this is going to be special.
With a deliquescence touch perhaps best compared to William Basinski, the L.A.-based artist renders the original improvisations as a breathtaking hour of glistening tone clusters and mid-air melting partials growing in complexly yet naturally as fractals experienced under the lens of DMT, or a time-lapse image of ice crystals forming at the edge of moving water.
To be quite honest, we haven’t the foggiest as to what process that he’s using to achieve these results - it may well be his trusted Argeïphontes Lyre software but, we can’t confirm this - however that matter only ratchets the sensation’s enigmatic appeal - if ever there was a more acute application of the word.
It’s the sort of music that gives us involuntary rapid eye movements, as though we’re in sleep mode while awake, making time feel plasmic and space almost tangible in a sense that you could almost huff up his starlight and recline in his hyaline webs.
The Little Glass is evidently, achingly, beautiful but, don’t take our word for it; drink deeply and ye shall see, pal.
Dean Blunt x Arca x Mica Levi x made-up Idris Elba quotes x Hyperdub: it’s a lot...
Fronted by that image and opening with the most unsettling, unrelenting mantra “this makes me proud to be british”, set to harp, leisure centre noise and bleeping mobiles; Dean Blunt’s got us by the gullet with his debut LP as Babyfather.
Essentially BBF - Hosted by DJ Escrow is a definitive UK hip hop album of the decade so far; a shadow-play of paranoid & surreal atmospheres, ambiguous juxtapositions, upfront infidelity and playful/dreadful intentions that perhaps best reflect street-view observations of the knackered, profane, pagan and pointedly archaic in contrast to supposedly progressive national values and the schizoid political and artistic double-speak of the “elite”.
We haven’t a clue who DJ Escrow is - quite possibly Blunt’s Quasimoto-style sped-up alter-ego, maybe his boy from home - but he’s crucial to the album; like some pop-up avatar or liminal interpreter reporting back from the zones, culminating in a passionate monologue calling for unity that’s actually undermined by the fact his voice is accelerated to cartoonish levels - perhaps as many view the situation anyway.
Peel back that shiny nike lacquer of FX tho, and you’re faced with a deepening identity crisis dealt with in the best blend of irreverence and well-meaning intent that’s really messing our heads right now.
To be honest we’re no wiser at this point than we were before hearing the album, but we definitely felt something strange in there that’s going to linger.
Norwegian composer John Kaada and Mike Patton have partnered for Bacteria Cult, the pair’s first Kaada/Patton release since 2007’s Kaada/Patton Live DVD and the first album from the musicians since 2004’s Romances.
“Working with John Kaada on this latest release was an honor and pure pleasure,” said Patton of resuming work Kaada. “His compositions have always resonated deeply with me and his orchestral arrangements for this project are harmonically dense and delicious! Each individual piece is so well constructed and inventively assembled that my vocal passages practically sang themselves. I’m hoping very much that we can seduce some eardrums and welcome listeners into this lush sonic ‘otherworld.’”
“We wanted to try new things,” explains Kaada. “Fully utilizing new technologies, combined with a large orchestra, while putting more attention towards melody and structure.”
The eight-song, orchestral collection exudes the music Ipecac has become well known for: eclectic, experimental and cinematic. Similar in feel to Fantômas’ Director’s Cut, as Kaada describes it, Bacteria Cult “dwells in the twilight zone where spooky and seductive meet.”
Atomic, the new album by Mogwai, is composed of reworked versions of the music recorded for the soundtrack to director Mark Cousin's acclaimed documentary Atomic: Living In Dread and Promise, which first aired on BBC Four last summer.
"Constructed entirely of archive film, Atomic is an impressionistic kaleidoscope of the horrors of our nuclear times – protest marches, Cold War sabre-rattling, Chernobyl and Fukishima – but also the sublime beauty of the atomic world, and how x-rays and MRI scans have improved human lives.
Mogwai's soundtrack encapsulates the nightmare of the nuclear age, but its dreamlike qualities too. It is the latest in the band's series of impressive soundtracks and scores, following acclaimed albums Les Revenants (The Returned) and Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait. Mogwai's Stuart Braithwaite says: "The Atomic soundtrack is one of the most intense and fulfilling projects we've taken on as a band. Ever since we went to Hiroshima to play and visited the peace park this has been a subject very close to us. The end results, both the film score and the record are pieces I'm extremely proud of.””
Exquisite, barely-there, frequency-massaged electronic purism from Ivan Pavlov’s CoH alias on Editions Mego. We can simply say this is CoH’s most refined, involving album in memory. RIYL Jakob Ullmann, Eliane Radigue, Hafler Trio…
Where his recent transmissions such as RETRO-2038 (2013) and TO BEAT (2014) have explored filigree integers of deceptively playful rhythm, noise and melody, his latest operates somewhere between the stark near-silences and icy pulses of Mika Vainio’s Ø works, the classical quiet music gestures of Jakob Ullmann, or the farthest, coldest Coil projections, for example; intently focussing on subtle, tactile dynamics of amplitude and the space between the notes or phrases.
Working in the purest electronic terms, he genuinely trips us out with a palette of barely-there tones and his signature, raw electrical hum shaped into arcing, morphing arrangements with a fine wrought narrative that could almost be considered an abstract opera or some intimate chamber dramaturgy written for one listener located within the arctic circle in the dead of night.
At times in the Ether Fields Forever you almost expect the vocals of John Balance to appear from stage left, whilst Vivid recalls the valerian ambient tone of Pinkcourtesyphone and Night Over Peak has us on the edge-of-the-seat with dread-filled anticipation for something that thankfully never manifests (aside form the daemons of your own conjuring). But it’s not all total gloom, in fact by the album’s end he resolves that high-line tension with more quixotic, teasing tones in the pizzicato pinpricks of Eemian and the glittering, hyaline prisms of Return to Mechanics.
Ultimately, it’s an album of proper, exploratory electronic sound and composition, revealing worlds and dimensions unknown thru application of rigorous research and painstaking sound design. If you know what we’re on about, it’s pretty unmissable.
The Field returns to the dance, your headphones and speakers with an insistent, pulsating 5th album of feathered, entrancing loops nearly a decade since his head-turning debut and 3 years since his last LP.
As you’d hope for, that lufty, minimal German trance appeal is strong on this one; taking at least nine minutes per track - and up to 15 minutes - to weave his cyclical motifs into buoyant arrangements coaxed on by polka triplets and winding pastoral currents.
Warp’s pastoral son returns with A Mineral Love: his first album in three years; replete with guest vox by Gotye, Wax Stag, and Olivier St. Louis.
You know what to expect and receive it in 13 waves of saccharine, pastel-coloured song craft drawing on classic soul, Canterbury pop, and burnished library tones furnished for your yacht or rubber dinghy or whatever.
At the album’s apex, The Way You Talk with Gotye is arguably a standout cut, dappled in shimmering guitars and a plainsong-like vocal refrain refrain eased off for MOR cruising, whilst the silky DX7 strokes and airy chimes of Why So Serious? hits a proper early ‘90s R&B/soul stride authenticated by Olivier St. Louis, and the Wax Stag-starring Gasoline & Mirrors provides the album’s other strong dancefloor moment for slower, dreamier ‘floors.
Amen & Goodbye is the fourth studio album from Brooklyn-based band Yeasayer.
"Yeasayer offer a peek into the world of Amen & Goodbye with “I Am Chemistry,” the first track to be heard from their highly-anticipated forthcoming album. Featuring guest vocals from the legendary folk singer Suzzy Roche of The Roches, “I Am Chemistry” is a linear psychedelic journey proving Yeasayer still has the knack for writing very odd pop songs.
Moving away from a digital - heavy approach, Yeasayer recorded Amen & Goodbye to tape at Outlier Inn Studio in upstate New York, then brought on board Joey Waronker (drummer - Atoms For Peace / Beck) to deconstruct everything to make the final document. Amen & Goodbye features Yeasayer’s trademark sound without sounding like anything the band has done before. They have created a collection of strange fables from the Bible from a universe that does not yet exist."
Tony Conrad and Faust’s classic minimalist totem drones on (and on and on and on) in a new edition presented by the brilliant Superior Viaduct reissue label.
“Violinist, composer and filmmaker Tony Conrad started his career in New York in the early 1960s. As a member of the Theatre of Eternal Music (a.k.a. the Dream Syndicate) alongside John Cale, La Monte Young, Marian Zazeela and Angus MacLise, he participated in now-legendary and often legendarily loud drone performances with many pieces having no beginning and no end. During a fateful trip to Germany in 1972, Conrad met with avant-rock visionaries Faust and made the very first record to bear his name.
Outside The Dream Syndicate, originally released in Europe only in 1973, is a stunning debut. Two side-long tracks – "The Side Of Man And Womankind" and "The Side Of The Machine" – show just how far Conrad had moved beyond his minimalist peers. Werner Diermaier's repetitive drum beat and Jean-Hervé Peron's stripped-down bassline conjure a tense, ascetic groove, while Conrad's seamless violin, initially so controlled, reveals a surprising adaptability. The music shifts almost on a subliminal level, pushing and pulling to the drone's internal pulse.
It is hard to imagine Conrad's trajectory from downtown Manhattan to a farmhouse in the German countryside that ultimately resulted in Outside The Dream Syndicate, yet no other record captures – so completely and instantly – the intersection of avant-garde and rock forms. Outside The Dream Syndicate remains ahead of and bracingly outside of its time.”
Rounded showcase and mix of Hamburg’s tight-knit and left-leaning tech/house/electronica scene, including exclusive productions by Wareika, Erobique, Deo & Z-Man, Suburb, RVDS, Tobias Schmid.
The first disc features 12 original, unmixed cuts squeezing the aforementioned exclusives alongside extra music from Smallpeople and DJ Koze, whilst the mix CD blends 17 tracks from the the likes of Christopher Rau, Vincenzo, Boris Dlugosch, Extrawelt, Lawrence, Isolée and their ilk.
Wickedly funked-up techno-house minimalism from the Japanese pioneer, depositing a long-awaited debut album with his stalwart supporters at Perlon.
Over 20 years after he ignited Japan’s passion for techno by booking pivotal figures from Detroit and Germany to play out there, along with his own revered DJ sets, Tanaka has developed a finely honed style of wriggling, nuanced, yet powerfully driven style of techno and house music that’s in full force over eight tracks here.
Ash Koosha follows his marvelous debut Guud with an equally dazzling array of marbled electronic geometries in I AKA I for Ninja Tune, placing his fractal, uniquely emotive sound in a wider public perspective.
Originally hailing from Iran, where he was jailed for making music (not ‘cos it’s bad, rather ‘cos the powers that be are a bit fussy like that) and subsequently settling in the UK, Koosha draws on that experience, and his years of classical training at the Tehran Conservatory of Music, to project idiosyncratic sonic worlds approaching some hypothetical synthesis of Sote’s arrhythmic convolutions and the curdled melodies of Arca.
As with much new electronic music seeping thru right now from the Janus lot to the Italian weirdos and many disparate, cloud-based entities, Koosh’s music is in the fascinating process of forming a new vocabulary, accent and syntax of electronic music which will escape concrète classification until someone invents a whole new method of description. No Matter though, just simply allow yourself to revel in the alien wonder of it all and let him shape new worlds before your lug ‘oles.
With psychedelic intensity The Comet Is Coming chanel the ghosts of Sun Ra, Funkadelic and the BBC Radiophonic Workshop.
"Here is the universe in a microcosm; the life-force distilled down to its raw essence: sex and dancing. Sub-bass, slamming analogue synths, unhinged sax breaks. The rhythm of life. Our saviours Danalogue The Conqueror, Betamax Killer (both Soccer96) and King Shabaka (Sons Of Kemet, Melt Yourself Down) come bearing their debut album Channel The Spirits."
Sublime sophomore album from UK’s Leon Vynehall emulating the course of a night on the tiles and inspired by the mating rituals of our feathered friends.
For Vynehall’s first outing on Running Back, he’s rustled up some of his deepest, dopest material after noting the similarities between the mating rituals of birds of paradise on a National Geographic programme called Designed to Dance, and the “way strangers try to attract one another in clubs and interact on the dancefloor.”
Thus ensues an optimistic sequence of eight colourfully-plumed dance tracks drawing on jazz-soul, boogie, and deep house knitted together with Afro-latin and tribal drums under canopies of bright bird calls and sampled instrumentation.
If you wanna get right down to it, check for the richly sensual syncopation of Beau Sovereign with its cooing female vox, or the the mix of primal groove and debonaire jazz keys swept up with lush strings in Blush.
Safe to assume this is gonna be massive...